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Πῆ παρέβης; τί δ’ἔρεξας; τί σοι δέον οὐκ

Where have you transgressed? What have you committed? What thing incumbent on you has been left undone?

Italicae Samius sectae celeberrimus autor[2]
Ipse[3] suum clausit carmine dogma brevi
Quò praetergressus? quid agis? quid omittis agendum?[4]
Hanc rationem urgens reddere quemque sibi.
Quod dedicisse gruum volitantum ex agmine fertur,
Arreptum gestant, quae pedibus lapidem.[5]
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F1r f28r]Ne cessent, neu transversas mala flamina raptent,
Qua ratione hominum vita regenda fuit.

The famous Samian founder of the Italian sect himself put his essential teaching into a short verse: Where have you overstepped the mark? What are you doing? What are you leaving undone that ought to be done? - urging each man to make this reckoning in his own mind. He is said to have learnt this from a skein of flying cranes, which seize a stone and carry it in their claws, to prevent themselves from making no headway, and to stop adverse gusts of wind carrying them off course. Man’s life was ever to be lived on this principle.

Das XL.

Wo gehstu her, was hastu gthon, wz hastu
Rechts zu thun underlohn.

Von Samo der berümbt Meister
Der Italischen Seck fürer
Mit diesen schönen Reimen klein
Hat beschlossen die Lehre sein
Eie [=Ein] jeder soll bey im selbs diß
Rechnung haben, seinr sach seyn gwiß
Wo kombstu her, was thustu nun?
Und was wiltu underlohn zuthun?
Auff diß weiß ein jeder sein lebn
Anrichten thu und regier ebn
Welches man auß der Kranich flug
Wie man sagt lehrnen kan und zug
Die ein Stein in den Füssen hert
Gefasset tragen unbeschwert
Und führen mit, auff das der Windt
Sie nit wegreiß und uberwindt.


1.  In other editions, these questions are in the first person.

2.  Italicae Samius sectae...autor, ‘Samian founder of the Italian sect’, i.e. Pythagoras. Born in Samos, he emigrated in 531 BC to Croton in South Italy, where he founded a religious/philosophical sect.

3.  Corrected from the errata.

4.  This is a version of the Greek text in the motto, which is recorded in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, 8.20.

5.  Cranes wisely carrying stones as ballast are likened to men of foresight in Suidas (i.e, the Suda), s.v. geranos. Other reasons were suggested by ancient writers for this habit.

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