Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pythagoras Was Not a Vampire

I was reading LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS... did I tell you about it? I found it because of a footnote by the 1927 editors of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY. Anyway, LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS is by William Godwin, the father of Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley. In the section on Pythagoras, Godwin writes that he "hid himself during the day at least from the great body of his pupils, and was only seen by them at night." So then I thought, I bet there are lots of crackpot theories about Pythagoras being a vampire on the "internet"! But when I googled the phrase "was pythagoras a vampire" here's what I got:
Godwin says Pythagoras "taught temperance in all its branches." And didn't Dracula famously say, "I never drink... wine"? Pythagoras was a vegetarian, but ISN'T THAT JUST WHAT A VAMPIRE WOULD SAY to explain why you never saw him joining in at meals? "What, however, seems to be agreed by all his biographers" (writes Godwin) "is that he professed to have already in different ages appeared in the likeness of man." Aha! Pythagoras claimed to be talking about reincarnation, but I think we can all guess the truth. "He tamed a Daunian bear by whispering in its ear... By the same means he induced an ox not to eat beans, which was a diet specially prohibited by Pythagoras." OH YEAH? Well, I just happened to learn on the "internet" that beans can be used to trick vampires ("click" here for details - you might need them!).
Then I read about Epimenides and Empedocles, both supposedly students of Pythagoras, but Godwin says that's impossible because one was born too soon and one was born too late... but I think Godwin is forgetting the possibility that PYTHAGORAS WAS A VAMPIRE. When Epimenides was young "he was sent by his father in search of a stray sheep, when, being overcome by the heat of the weather, he retired into a cave, and slept fifty-seven years." Some nap! Empedocles said, "I well remember the time before I was Empedocles, that I once was a boy, then a girl, a plant, a glittering fish, a bird that cut the air." Has nothing to do with vampires, but sounds like something Finn has said on ADVENTURE TIME. One thing I like about old Empedocles is that he wanted to disappear dramatically from mankind without a trace, so he threw himself into an active volcano: "in the result of this perverse ambition he was baffled, the volcano having thrown up one of his brazen sandals." When you loosen up the search terms a little bit (removing the quotation marks, for example), you get this ("click" here) - not sure what it is, exactly... some notes for Pythagoras fan fiction in which he's a vampire? And check out footnote #13 to this scholarly article ("click" here) titled "Explaining Pythagorean Abstinence From Beans." Ha ha, like you are going to "click" on that. Or anything! To quote the footnote in part, "Lawson also reports that in Rhodes an ostrakon marked with a pentacle, sacred emblem of the Pythagoreans, is placed on the lips of a corpse to prevent its becoming a vrykolakas." That means vampire! Wait, maybe Pythagoras was a vampire hunter. Or maybe he was one of those vampire hunters who is also a vampire.