Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Pythagoras on Beans

 

“Abstain from beans.” — Pythagoras of Samos

Pythagoras has a reputation as having been a somewhat odd dude. Perhaps a charlatan, perhaps a thaumaturge. One thing that many sources say is that he urged his followers to abstain from beans. About a thousand years ago when I was in school, it was explained to me that he did this because the Ancients believed that beans gathered spirits of the dead, and this is why they created gas, because the spirit was the breath.

A much more interesting explanation I ran across much later was that voting was done with beans, so by saying “Abstain from beans,” what Pythagoras meant was, “Stay away from politics.” Well, who could argue with that?

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  1. Saint Augustine Member

    Also the prototypical western anti-materialist philosopher.

    No, it wasn’t Plato.

    Plato got his anti-materialism from Pythagoras.

    Also, mathematical realism is a cool theory!

    • #1
    • August 26, 2018, at 2:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Judge Mental Member

    Evil spirits, eh?

    • #2
    • August 26, 2018, at 2:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Evil spirits, eh?

    They only smelled that way.

    • #3
    • August 26, 2018, at 2:30 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Judge Mental Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Evil spirits, eh?

    They only smelled that way.

    It would explain the brimstone.

    • #4
    • August 26, 2018, at 2:31 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fun post! I have a cookbook from the fantastic artist Nava Atlas that has illustrations, folklore and quotes.

    Here’s a snapshot of the page on Pythagoras:

     

    • #5
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:30 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  6. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Apparently Plutarch said the thing about beans and voting in 95 AD:

     

    • #6
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:34 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  7. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nearly 150 years previous, Cicero had commented on the Pythagoreans avoidance of beans as follows:

     

    • #7
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:37 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  8. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is my favorite bean story, and I’ll quote it here:

    Many, many years ago — long before Mughal came to the land — chick-pea grew tired of his great popularity among other beings. “All the people and all the animals in the world desire to eat me,” he said. “Am I never to have any peace for myself? I shall go to heaven and beg protection from the god who looks after plants and animals. He will give me justice.” And so the little chick-pea presented himself humbly to the god and began to complain of his fate. But in the midst of his speech, the god, who looked highly upset and uncomfortable, interrupted the little pea. “Little chick-pea,” he said, “I am extremely sorry, but you must leave quickly now. I am feeling very hungry and you look so delicious…”

    –Indian folk tale,
    retold by Shivaji Rao
    and Shalini Devi Holkar

    • #8
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:43 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Here’s a song about haying and beans that I love:

    When the raspberries burst from the woodvine,
    When the summer lies close to the ground,
    When the porch is the fit place for young kids to sleep
    and the brook in the hollow dies down.
    Then with straw hats and wagons and horses,
    like young Tim and tired old Dan,
    We’ll had for the field to the creak of the wheel
    with a pitchfork that blisters your hand.

    ‘Cause you have to make hay when the sun shines,
    That’s what all of the hill people say.
    Just keep your load wide, keep your eye on the sky,
    And make sure it’s dry when you put it away.

    I remember the chaff on the back of my neck,
    the cool at the edge of the trees,
    and you rest for a time and talk about the weather, 
    and you drink from the spring and get mud on your knees.
    Then it’s back to the wagons, back to the mow,
    six loads in and eight more to go.
    And it’s biscuits and beans for the late supper meal,
    and there’s nothing like beans when you’re working, you know.

    ‘Cause you have to make hay when the sun shines,
    That’s what all of the hill people say.
    Just keep your load wide, keep your eye on the sky,
    And make sure it’s dry when you put it away.

    Tis the season of clover and killdeer,
    It’s the time when the earth does her best.
    It’s when all men are strong, and the workdays are long,
    and you know when to rise and you know when to rest.
    And in the cool of the evening I perch on the load 
    and let the wagonwind blow through my hair.
    Count off the stars and talk to the moon, 
    and sing to myself in the sweet summer air.
    Hold on at the corners! and duck at the branches!
    and sing to myself in the sweet summer air.

    ‘Cause you have to make hay when the sun shines,
    That’s what all of the hill people say.
    Just keep your load wide, keep your eye on the sky,
    And make sure it’s dry when you put it away.

    • #9
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:58 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Saint Augustine Member

    Whole mountains of philosophical lore I knew not of.

    • #10
    • August 26, 2018, at 3:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Whole mountains of philosophical lore I knew not of.

    Wot wot, Old Bean?

    • #11
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:00 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    @cbtoderakamamatoad, I had no idea how beanophilic you were.

     

    • #12
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My sister is nicknamed Been (not Bean) and her husband is Frank.

    Frank’s and Been’s…

    • #13
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:01 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    This conversation is a real gas.

    • #14
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:01 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  15. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    @cbtoderakamamatoad, I had no idea how beanophilic you were.

     

    I contain multitudes.

    • #15
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    I contain multitudes.

    Glad you’re several states away and the prevailing weather patterns go the other way.

    • #16
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:04 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  17. MichaelHenry Contributor

    Thaumaturge. Definition: “magician, conjurer.” I looked it up. Good word, Arahant. Glad to know Pythagoras was an early environmentalist focused on clean air.

    • #17
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:35 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    (Can I just share this here without hijacking? The woman who wrote that cookbook pictured above is Nava Atlas. She had an art exhibit at my library recently that was simply fantastic. I took a picture of this one which I think people here might appreciate, which quotes D. Rivera: “Stop living vicariously through Frida Kahlo’s pain and suffering and experience your own.”)

     

    • #18
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:40 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. TBA Coolidge

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Whole mountains of philosophical lore I knew not of.

    The problems of little people don’t amount to a pile of garbanzos in this crazy world.
    – Pythagoras 

    • #19
    • August 26, 2018, at 4:44 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  20. Paul Erickson Inactive

    Thanks, @arahant. I always wondered, what was Pythagoras’s angle? Now I know it was right.

    • #20
    • August 26, 2018, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  21. RightAngles Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    My sister is nicknamed Been (not Bean) and her husband is Frank.

    Frank’s and Been’s…

    We called my youngest sister Beanie her whole life.

    • #21
    • August 26, 2018, at 5:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. ST Inactive

    MichaelHenry (View Comment):
    Thaumaturge. Definition: “magician, conjurer.”

    Thanks for doing the heavy lifting.

    • #22
    • August 26, 2018, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The fellow had some rather odd ideas, and seems to have been obsessed with diet, he and his followers being known as some of the first who chose vegetarianism as a way of life (maybe something to do with ideas about the transmigration of the soul, and that one’s soul might come back in an animal of some sort. I suppose coming back as a cow or a sheep, only to realize that in a previous life one had eaten cousin Mabel, or uncle Harold, would be devastating).

    But I can’t help feeling that the prohibition on beans, considering the close quarters in which most of those folks lived, was more in self-defense than anything else. This post reminded me of “Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit,” as Mr. She’s kids used to sing it when they were young. Haven’t thought about that for decades. Thanks for the memory.

    • #23
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:08 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If Pythagoras had wanted them to eschew politics, wouldn’t he have told them to steer clear of potsherds too?

    • #24
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. tigerlily Member

    I have nothing else to add to this conversation.

    • #25
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:54 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  26. Clavius Thatcher

    But beans are high in protein. Without beans there never would have been agricultural surplus and therefore cities. And if you are a vegetarian, where will you get your protein if not from beans?

    • #26
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:56 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy CarterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):
    The fellow had some rather odd ideas, and seems to have been obsessed with diet, he and his followers being known as some of the first who chose vegetarianism as a way of life

    And guess what…. They’re just as dead as carnivores.

    • #27
    • August 26, 2018, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    If Pythagoras had wanted them to eschew politics, wouldn’t he have told them to steer clear of potsherds too?

    That is a counter-argument I thought of.

    • #28
    • August 26, 2018, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    tigerlily (View Comment):
    I have nothing else to add to this conversation.

    But that is a fine addition, especially the “What in the Wide World of Sports is going on here?!?” The thread has definitely gone there.

    • #29
    • August 26, 2018, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Mark Camp Member

    Arahant,

    After digesting this post, I felt great pressure to comment, but it’s passed now and I feel great relief.

    But I will just mention the namecalling thing: My whole life–even in kindergarten– it has been my practice never to call anyone a thaumaturge.

    • #30
    • August 26, 2018, at 10:02 AM PDT
    • 8 likes

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