In antiquity acousmata were considered as an authentic record of Pythagoras' words, whose sense was concealed from the uninitiated by dint of their cryptic form. Later, mostly non-Pythagorean authors attempted to reveal it so that they divided them into tree groups and provided allegorical interpretations for them. As they were living in different epochs and following different interests, they differed from each other both in the wording and the explanation of single acousma and in acceptation or not into their collections. Largely these interpretations were created with respect to probability (eikotologia) on the basis of comparations with other Pythagorean material, but some authors did not hesitate to interpret very violently and fabricate their own acousmata (Iamblichus). The extant fragments of collections are very heterogeneous and mutually almost incompatible; that is why it is impossible to believe that they represent the doctrine of the oldest Pythagoreanism (or even Pythagoras himself) as a whole. Presumably the original acousmata did not hide any other sense as their main aim seems to be a regulation of human behaviour in magic-ritual sphere. The interpreters transformed acousmata into rational ethical rules, but it is controverted, for instance, with identity of acousmata with older - sometimes transcultural - magic-superstitious prescriptions. The first collection of acousmata was published in mid-4th century B. C. in the circle of pupils of Aristotle. No interpretations were appended to it, but its author already manipulated with the material in order that he might intervene in contemporary discussion on the character of the oldest Pythagorean teaching and the measure of Pythagorean heritage in philosophy of his period (especially in the philosophy of Plato). This author should be Aristoxenos who was dealing with Pythagoreans very intensively and 'creatively', but the hypothesis cannot be corroborated with any direct proof.
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