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by [?]

All this mystery and mysticism was once official, and later, on being discarded by the authorities, was continued by the students as a kind of prank.

Greek-letter societies are the rudimentary survivals of what was once an integral part of every college. Making dead languages optional was the last convulsive kick of the cadaver.

And now a good many colleges are placing the seal of their disapproval on secret societies among the students; and the day is near when the secret society will not be tolerated, either directly or indirectly, as a part of the education of youth. All this because the sophomoric mind is prone to take its Greek-letter mysteries seriously, and regard the college curriculum as a joke of the faculty.

If knowledge were to be gained by riding a goat, any petty crossroads, with its lodge-room over the grocery, would contain a Herbert Spencer; and the agrarian mossbacks would have wisdom by the scruff and detain knowledge with a tail-hold.

There can be no secrets in life and morals, because Nature has so provided that every beautiful thought you know and every precious sentiment you feel, shall shine out of your face so that all who are great enough may see, know, understand, appreciate and appropriate. You can keep things only by giving them away.

When Pythagoras was only four or five years old, his mother taught him to take his morning bath in the cold stream, and dry his baby skin by running in the wind. As he ran, she ran with him, and together they sang a hymn to the rising sun, that for them represented the god Apollo.

This mother taught him to be indifferent to cold, heat, hunger, to exult in endurance, and to take a joy in the glow of the body.

So the boy grew strong and handsome, and proud; and perhaps it was in those early years, from the mother herself, that he gathered the idea, afterward developed, that Apollo had appeared to his mother, and so great was the beauty of the god that the woman was actually overcome, it being the first god at which she had ever had a good look.

The ambition of a great mother centers on her son. Pythagoras was filled with the thought that he was different, peculiar, set apart to teach the human race.

Having compassed all there was to learn in his native place, and, as he thought, being ill appreciated, he started for Egypt, the land of learning. The fallacy that knowledge was a secret to be gained by word of mouth and to be gotten from books existed then as now. The mother of Pythagoras wanted her son to comprehend the innermost secrets of the Egyptian mysteries. He would then know all. To this end she sold her jewels, in order that her son might have the advantages of an Egyptian education.

Women were not allowed to know the divine secrets–only just a few little ones. This woman wanted to know, and she said her son would learn, and tell her.

The family had become fairly rich by this time, and influential. Letters were gotten from the great ones of Samos to the Secretary of State in Egypt. And so Pythagoras, aged twenty, “the youth with the beautiful hair,” went on his journey to Egypt and knocked boldly at the doors of the temples at Memphis, where knowledge was supposed to be in stock. Religion then monopolized all schools and continued to do so for quite some time after Pythagoras was dead.

He was turned away with the explanation that no foreigner could enter the sacred portals–that the initiates must be those born in the shadows of the temples and nurtured in the faith from infancy by holy virgins.

Pythagoras still insisted, and it was probably then that he found a sponsor who made for him the claim that he was a son of Apollo. And the holy men peeped out of their peep-holes in holy admiration for any one who could concoct as big a lie as they themselves had ever invented.