“According to Hermetic doctrine, there were four kinds of men who received human bodies with the task of being transformed into divinity: just kings, true philosophers, genuine prophets, and root-cutters, or magical healers (Kore kosmou 41–42). An image and function of the “philosopher” partly depended on the archetype of the divine ruler and priest who was a son of Ra, or the divine Intellect, in the terms of Egyptian solar theology. Thus one can say that true philosophia was an inspired task aimed at a transformation of the soul—an intellectual search for the meaning of forms and ideas, symbols and images, metaphysical and natural causes.

The Pythagoreans considered philosophy in terms of medicine and therapeutics and regarded themselves as adherents of a tradition greater than their own personalities, in most cases preserving anonymity and attributing their achievements to the archetypal figure of Pythagoras or to other semi-legendary sages. For Iamblichus and his successors, who were concerned about the gradual corruption and distortion of knowledge in their time, the origins of Hellenic philosophy were to be traced back to ancient revelations.

As the Egyptians and Chaldeans were original revelatory sources for all mankind, so Pythagoras was for Hellenic philosophy. Hence, the science of the divine established by Plato, including the famous theory of Ideas, was thought of as being derived and developed from the Pythagorean sources which, in turn, depended on certain “perennial” patterns drawn from the various civilizations of the ancient East. For the late Neoplatonists, the true Hellenic “love of wisdom” could be supported and illustrated not only by the inspired poetry of Orpheus, Homer, and Hesiod, but also by the Egyptian, Phoenician, and Assyrian myths and “theological dogmas,” including the so-called Chaldean Oracles (ta logia).

Endeavoring to show the close relationship between Pythagoras and Plato, Proclus gave Pythagoras a central role and asserted that his teaching was … in harmony with the first principles of Plato and with the secret revelations of the theologians.

For all Greek theology derives from Orphic mystagogy, Pythagoras first learning from Aglaophemus the secrets concerning the gods, Plato after him receiving the complete science of the gods from Pythagorean and Orphic writings (Proclus, Plat. Theol. 1.5.25).”