Fatality of Numbers

S. Baring-Gould

Pythagorian Numerology

Pythagoras taught that each number had its own peculiar character, virtues, and properties:

The unit, or the monad is the principle and the end of all; it is the sublime knot which binds together the chain of causes; it is the symbol of identity, of equality, of existence, of conservation, and of general harmony. Having no parts, the monad represents Divinity; it announces also order, peace, and tranquility, which are founded on unity of sentiments. Consequently, ONE is a good principle.

The number two, or the dyad, the origin of contrasts, is the symbol of diversity, or inequality, of division and of separation. Two is accordingly an evil principle, a number of bad augury, characterizing disorder, confusion, and change.

Three, or the triad, is the first of unequals; it is the number containing the most sublime mysteries, for everything is composed of three substances; it represents God, the soul of the world, the spirit of Man. This number, which plays so great a part in the traditions of Asia, and in the Platonic philosophy, is the image of the attributes of God.

Four, or the tetrad, as the first mathematical power, is also one of the chief elements; it represents the generating virtue, whence come all combinations; it is the most perfect of numbers; it is the root of all things. It is hly by nature, since it constitutes the Divine essence by recalling His unity, His power, His goodness, and His wisdom, the four perfections which especially characterize God. Consequently, Pythagoricians swear by the quaternary number, which gives the human soul its eternal nature.

The number five, or the pentad, has a peculiar force in sacred expiations; it is everything; it stops the power of positions and is redoubted by evil spirits.

The number six, or the hexad, is a fortunate number and it derives its merit from the first sculptors having divided the face into six portions. But, according to the Chaldeans, the reason is because God created the world in six days.

Seven, or the heptad, is a number very powerful for good or for evil. It belongs especially to sacred things.

The number eight, or the octad, is the first cube, that is to say, squared in all senses, as a die, proceeding from its base two, an even number; so is Man four-square, or perfect.

The number nine, or the ennead, being the multiple of three, should be regarded as sacred.

Finally, ten, or the decad, is the measure of all, since it contains all the numeric relations and harmonies. As the reunion of the four first numbers, it plays an eminent part, since all the branches of science -- all nomenclatures -- emanate from, and retire into, it.