The Golden Verses of Pythagoras

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras are a set of maxims or instructions for a life of virtue passed down to us by the great mathematician and philosophical genius—Pythagoras of Samos. They are written in the form of 71 lines of verse and provide the principle instructions on how one should conduct oneself and the positive mindset that follows. They are a treasure far beyond the worth of gold or the most precious material, for any person seeking to live a more rewarding life, worthy of being called Human first and then Divine. Read, study and apply these Golden Verses of Pythagoras and you'll be rewarded manifold for your effort.

Note: I have included the original ancient Greek text for the sake of its resonance with the English translation line-by-line. If you are reading on a small screen, the Greek follows the English.

English Translation of The Golden Verses of Pythagoras by Tania Kotsos


  • 1. First, honour the immortal Gods, as is defined by The Law;
  • 2. And respect the oath, and thereafter the illustrious heroes;
  • 3. Respect also the terrestrial divinities, performing their due rights,
  • 4. Honour also your parents and your closest relations.
  • 5. Among all others, make friends with those who have outstanding virtue;
  • 6. Comply with their measured words and beneficial deeds;
  • 7. And, do not hate your friends for their small wrongdoings,
  • 8. as much as you can; for strength resides close to necessity.
  • 9. Know all this well, and make it a habit to control the following:
  • 10. First of all your stomach, as well as sleep, lust and anger.
  • 11. Do nothing shameful, whether with someone else or by yourself.
  • 12. And more than anyone else, respect yourself.
  • 13. Next, exercise justice in all your works and words,
  • 14. And do not make a habit of being thoughtless in anything.
  • 15. But know that death is appointed to all;
  • 16. And that wealth is sometimes acquired, while at other times it is lost.
  • 17. Whatever misfortunes the Divine may send you as a mortal being,
  • 18. Whatever your fate may be, bear it with patience and do not become exasperated.
  • 19. But remedy your misfortunes, as much as you can. And think about the following:
  • 20. Fate does not give much in the way of misfortune to the good.
  • 21. You will hear many words being spoken, some noble while others unworthy;
  • 22. Do not let them surprise you, nor reject them thoughtlessly.
  • 23. And if you hear a lie about something, bear it with patience.
  • 24. That which I am now declaring, fulfil it unwaveringly:
  • 25. Let no one, with speech or actions, ever persuade you
  • 26. to do or say something that is not advantageous to you.
  • 27. Think, before your every action, so that you do not appear a mindless fool;
  • 28. A person who acts mindlessly and says mindless things, is characterised as a fool.
  • 29. Only do and say those things for which you will have no regret later.
  • 30. Do not do anything that you have no knowledge about, but learn
  • 31. whatever you must, and in this way you shall live a most enjoyable life.
  • 32. Do not neglect the health of your body,
  • 33. But eat, drink and exercise with measure.
  • 34. And by measure, I mean that which does not induce pain.
  • 35. Make it a habit to live a clean and imperishable life.
  • 36. And avoid doing anything that may provoke envy.
  • 37. Neither, out of season, be wasteful of the good you have as would the ignorant,
  • 38. nor deprive yourself, because measure is the best in everything.
  • 39. Only do those things that will not harm you, and deliberate before you act.
  • 40. Never allow gentle sleep to reach your eyes,
  • 41. before having reviewed, three times, your actions of the day:
  • 42. Where did I go astray? What did I do? What of all my duties did I not complete?
  • 43. Starting with the first then go on to the next,
  • 44. and for the errors you committed, reprimand yourself, and for the good, be pleased.
  • 45. All these things you must endeavour to do, study them and love them.
  • 46. They will place you on the path of Divine Virtue.
  • 47. Yes, I swear it by Him who gave to our souls the Tetractys,
  • 48. the source of Eternal Nature. Begin, therefore, any work by praying
  • 49. to the Gods for its completion. As long as you hold fast to all these things
  • 50. you will come to know the constitution of the immortal Gods and of mortal men,
  • 51. how all is governed, and how all is maintained.
  • 52. Then you will come to know, as is just, that the nature of all things is the same.
  • 53. Such that you should not hope for the hopeless, while nothing escapes you.
  • 54. You will meet people who are suffering hardships that they have created,
  • 55. Unfortunate are they that, although good is nearby, they can neither see
  • 56. nor hear it. Few people know how to solve their difficulties.
  • 57. This fate of theirs harms their mind, and they roam around like cylinders
  • 58. here and there, they suffer unending hardships, because they do not realise
  • 59. that Eris [discord] who is within them, is a disastrous companion that harms them,
  • 60. and that they should not encourage her, but avoid her.
  • 61. Father God, undoubtedly you can free all from many sufferings,
  • 62. if you were to reveal to each the Divine Spirit within them.
  • 63. But be courageous, because the genus of the mortals is Godly,
  • 64. to whom sacred Nature presents and reveals all.
  • 65. If you partake in this, you will achieve all that I have instructed you,
  • 66. And having freed your soul from all these hardships, you will save it.
  • 67. But avoid those foods that were mentioned in the Purifications
  • 68. and in the Deliverance of the Soul, with reason. Discern all things well,
  • 69. and let the height of your reasoning mind be your charioteer from above.
  • 70. And should you leave your body and go into the Free Aether,
  • 71. You shall become immortal, an imperishable god—a mortal no more.


  • 1. ᾿Αθανάτους μὲν πρῶτα θεούς, νόμῳ ὡς διάκεινται,
  • 2. Τίμα καὶ σέβου ὅρκον, ἔπειθ᾿ ἥρωας ἀγαυούς,
  • 3. Τούς τε καταχθονίoυς σέβε δαίμονας, ἔννομα ῥέζων.
  • 4. Τούς τε γονεῖς τίμα, τούς τ᾿ ἄγχιστ’ ἐκγεγαῶτας.
  • 5. Τῶν δ᾿ ἄλλων ἀρετῇ ποιεῦ φίλον ὅστις ἄριστος.
  • 6. Πραέσι εἶκε λόγοις, ἔργοισί τ᾿ ἐπωφελίμοισι,
  • 7. Μηδ᾿ ἔχθαιρε φίλον σὸν ἀμαρτάδος εἴνεκα μικρῆς,
  • 8. ῎Οφρα δύνῃ. Δύναμις γὰρ ἀνάγκης ἐγγύθι ναίει.
  • 9. Ταῦτα μὲν οὕτως ἴσθι• κρατεῖν δ᾿ εἰθίζεο τῶνδε
  • 10. Γαστρὸς μέν πρώτιστα, καὶ ὕπνου, λαγνείης τε
  • 11. Καὶ θυμοῦ. Πρήξης δ᾿ αἰσχρόν ποτέ μήτε μετ᾿ ἄλλου,
  • 12. Μήτ᾿ ἰδίῃ• πάντων δὲ μάλιστ᾿ αἰσχύνεο σαυτόν.
  • 13. Εἶτα δικαιοσύνην ἄσκει ἔργῳ τε λόγῳ τε.
  • 14. Μηδ᾿ ἀλογίστως σαυτὸν ἔχειν περὶ μηδὲν ἔθιζε.
  • 15. Ἀλλὰ γνῶθι μὲν ὡς θανέειν πέπρωται ἅπασι.
  • 16. Χρήματα δ᾿ ἄλλοτε μὲν κτᾶσθαι φίλει, ἄλλοτ᾿ ὀλέσσαι.
  • 17. Ὅσσα τε δαιμονίῃσι τύχαις βροτοὶ ἄλγἐ ἔχουσιν,
  • 18. Ὧν ἂν μοῖραν ἔχῃς, ταύτην φέρε μηδ᾿ ἀγανάκτει.
  • 19. Ἰᾶσθαι δὲ πρέπει, καθόσον δύνῃ. Ὧδε δὲ φράζευ•
  • 20. Οὐ πάνυ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς τούτων πολὺ μοῖρα δίδωσι.
  • 21. Πολλοὶ δ᾿ ἀνθρώποισι λόγοι δειλοί τε καὶ ἐσθλοὶ
  • 22. Προσπίπτουσ᾿, ὧν μήτ᾿ ἐκπλήσσεο, μήτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐάσῃς
  • 23. Εἴργεσθαι σαυτόν. Ψεῦδος δ᾿ ἥνπερ τι λέγηται
  • 24. Πράως εἶχ᾿. ῞Ο δέ τοι ἐρέω, ἐπὶ παντὶ τελείσθω.
  • 25. Μηδεὶς μήτε λόγῳ σε παρείπῃ μήτε τι ἔργῳ,
  • 26. Πρῆξαι, μηδ᾿ εἰπεῖν, ὅ τι τοι μὴ βέλτερόν ἐστι.
  • 27. Βουλεύου δὲ πρὸ ἔργου, ὅπως μὴ μῶρα πέληται
  • 28. Δειλοῦ τοι πρήσσειν τε λέγειν τ᾿ ἀνόητα πρὸς ἀνδρός.
  • 29. ᾿Αλλὰ τάδ᾿ ἐκτελέειν, ἅ σε μὴ μετέπειτ ἀνιήσῃ.
  • 30. Πρῆσσε δὲ μηδὲν τῶν μὴ ᾿πίστασαι, ἀλλὰ διδάσκευ
  • 31. ῞Οσσα χρεών, καὶ τερπνότατον βίον ὧδε διάξεις.
  • 32. Οὐδ᾿ ὑγιείης τῆς περὶ σῶμ᾿ ἀμέλειαν ἔχειν χρή.
  • 33. ᾿Αλλὰ ποτοῦ τε μέτρον καὶ σίτου γυμναστίων τε
  • 34. Ποιεῖσθαι• μέτρον δὲ λέγω τόδ᾿ ὃ μή σ᾿ ἀνιήσει.
  • 35. Εἰθίζου δὲ δίαιταν ἔχειν καθάρειον ἄθρυπτον.
  • 36. Καὶ πεφύλαξό γε ταῦτα ποιεῖν, ὁπόσα φθόνον ἴσχει.
  • 37. Μὴ δαπανᾶν παρὰ καιρόν, ὁποῖα καλῶν ἀδαήμων•
  • 38. Μηδ᾿ ἀνελεύθερος ἴσθι. Μέτρον δ᾿ ἐπὶ πᾶσιν ἄριστον.
  • 39. Πρῆσσε δὲ ταῦθ᾿ ἅ σε μὴ βλάψει• λόγισαι δὲ πρὸ ἔργου.
  • 40. Μηδ᾿ ὕπνον μαλακοῖσιν ἐπ᾿ ὄμμασι προδέξασθαι
  • 41. Πρὶν τῶν ἡμερινῶν ἔργων λογίσασθαι ἕκαστον.
  • 42. Πῇ παρέβην; τί δ᾿ ἔρεξα; τί μοι δέον οὐκ ἐτελέσθη;
  • 43. Ἀρξάμενος δ᾿ ἀπὸ πρώτου ἐπέξιθι• καὶ μετέπειτα
  • 44. δειλὰ μὲν ἐκπρήξας ἐπιπλήσσεο, χρηστὰ δέ, τέρπου.
  • 45. Ταῦτα πόνει, ταῦτ᾿ ἐκμελέτα• τουτῶν χρὴ ἐρᾶν σε,
  • 46. Ταῦτά σε τῆς θείης ἀρετῆς εἰς ἴχνια θήσει•
  • 47. Ναὶ μὰ τὸν ἀματέρᾳ ψυχᾷ παραδόντα τετρακτύν,
  • 48. Παγὰν ἀενάου φύσεως. Ἀλλ᾿ ἔργευ ἐπ᾿ ἔργον,
  • 49. Θεοῖσι ἐπευξάμενος τελέσαι. Τούτων δὲ κρατήσας
  • 50. Γνώσῇ ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν θνητῶν τ᾿ ἀνθρώπων
  • 51. Σύστασιν, ᾗ τε ἕκαστα διέρχεται ᾗ τε κρατεῖται•
  • 52. Γνώσῃ δ᾿ ᾗ θέμις ἐστι, φύσιν περὶ παντὸς ὁμοίην,
  • 53. Ὡστέ σε μήτε ἄελπτ᾿ ἐλπίζειν, μήτε τι λήθειν.
  • 54. Γνώσῃ δ᾿ ἀνθρώπους αὐθαιρετα πήματ᾿ ἔχοντας
  • 55. Τλήμονας, οἵ τ᾿ ἀγαθῶν πέλας ὄντων οὔτ᾿ ἐσορῶσιν
  • 56. Οὔτε κλύουσιν • λύσιν δὲ κακῶν παῦροι συνίσασι.
  • 57. Τοίη μοῖρα βροτών βλάπτει φρένας• ὡς δὲ κύλινδροι
  • 58. Ἄλλοτ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄλλα φέρονται, ἀπείρονα πήματ᾿ ἔχοντες.
  • 59. Λυγρὴ γὰρ συνοπαδὸς ἔρις βλάπτουσα λέληθεν,
  • 60. Σύμφυτος, ἣν οὐ δεῖ προάγειν εἴκοντα δὲ φεύγειν.
  • 61. Ζεῦ πάτερ ἧ πολλῶν κε κακῶν λύσειας ἅπαντας,
  • 62. Εἰ πᾶσιν δείξαις, οἵῳ τῷ δαίμονι χρῶνται.
  • 63. Ἀλλὰ σὺ θάρσει, ἐπεῖ θεῖον γένος ἐστὶ βροτοῖσιν,
  • 64. Οἷς ἱερὰ προφέρουσα φύσις δείκνυσιν ἕκαστα.
  • 65. Ὧν εἴ σοί τι μέτεστι, κρατήσεις ὧν σε κελεύω,
  • 66. Ἐξακέσας, ψυχὴν δὲ πόνων ἀπὸ τῶνδε σαώσεις.
  • 67. Ἀλλ᾿ εἴργου βρωτῶν, ὧν εἴπομεν, ἔν τε καθαρμοῖς,
  • 68. Ἔν τε λύσει ψυχῆς κρίνων, καὶ φράζευ ἕκαστα,
  • 69. ἡνίοχον γνώμην στήσας καθύπερθεν ἀρίστην.
  • 70. Ἢν δ᾿ ἀπολείψας σῶμα ἐς αἰθέρ᾿ ἐλεύθερον ἔλθης,
  • 71. Ἔσσεαι ἀθάνατος θεὸς ἄμβροτος, οὐκέτι θνητός.


The Golden Verses are the maxims of Pythagoras of Samos who was born around 570 BC and lived to the age of 75. He is known throughout the world as a mathematical and scientific genius, but few know that first and foremost, he was a philosopher. Such was the honour bestowed upon him that some accounts refer to him as the son of the Greek God Apollo—the God of Truth and Light, while others claim he was initiated by the Greek God Hermes—the God of Communication or Logos. The philosopher Aristotle described him as a wonder-worker and a supernatural figure. And even in modern days, in his book A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell wrote: “The influence of Pythagoras on Plato and others was so great that he should be considered the most influential of all Western philosophers.”

Translated by Tania Kotsos
Date Published: 16 November 2020
Last Updated: 16 November 2020



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