As he therefore thus prepared his disciples for culture, he did not immediately receive as an associate any who came to him for that purpose until he had tested them and examined them judiciously. To begin with he inquired about their relation to their parents and kinsfolk. Next he surveyed their laughter, speech or silence, as to whether it was unreasonable; further, about their desires, their associates, their conversation, how they employed their leisure, and what were the subjects of their joy or grief. He observed their form, their gait, and the whole motions of their body. He considered their frame's natural indications physiognomically, rating them as visible exponents of the invisible tendencies of the soul. After subjecting a candidate to such trials, he allowed him to be neglected for three years, still covertly observing his disposition towards stability, and genuine studiousness, and whether he was sufficiently averse to glory, and ready to despise popular honors.
After, this the candidate was compelled to observe silence for five years, so as to have made definite experiments in continence of speech, inasmuch as the subjugation of the tongue is the most difficult of all victories, as has indeed been unfolded by those who have instituted the mysteries. During this probation, however, the property of each was disposed of in common, being committed to trustees, who were called politicians, economizers or legislators. Of these probationers, after the quinquennial silence, those who by modest dignity had won his approval as worthy to share in his doctrines, then became esoterics, and within the veil both heard and saw Pythagoras. Prior to this they participated in his words through the hearing alone, without seeing him who remained within the veil, and themselves offering to him a specimen of their manners. If rejected, they were given the double of the wealth they had brought, but the auditors raised to him a tomb, as if they were dead; the disciples being generally called auditors.
Should these later happen to meet the rejected candidate, they would treat him as a stronger, declaring that he whom they had by education modeled had died, inasmuch as the object of these disciplines had been to be turned out good and honest men.
Those who were slow in the acquisition of knowledge were considered to be badly organized or, we may say, deficient, and sterile.
If, however, after Pythagoras had studied them physiognomically, their gait, motions and state of health, he conceived good hopes of them; and if, after the five years' silence, and the emotions and initiations from so many disciplines together with the ablutions of the soul, and so many and so great purifications produced by such various theorems, through which sagacity and sanctity is ingrained into the soul...................if, after all this even, someone was found to be still sluggish and dull, they would raise to such a candidate within the school a pillar or monument, such as was said to have been done to Perialus the Thurian, and Cylon the prince of the Sybarites, who were rejected, they expelled him from the auditorium, loading him down with silver and gold. This wealth had by them been deposited in common, in the care of certain custodians, aptly called Economics. Should any of the Pythagoreans later meet with the reject, they did not recognize him whom they accounted dead. Hence also Lysis, blaming a certain Hipparchus for having revealed the Pythagorean doctrines to the profane, and to such as accepted them without disciplines or theory, said:
"It is reported that you philosophise indiscriminately and publicly, which is opposed to the customs of Pythagoras. With assiduity you did indeed learn them, O Hipparchus; but you have not preserved them. My dear fellow, you have tasted Sicilian tit-bits, which you should not have repeated. If you give them up, I shall be delighted; but if you do not, you will to me be dead. For it would be pious to recall the human and divine precepts of Pythagoras, and not to communicate the treasures of wisdom to those who have not purified their souls, even in a dream. It is unlawful to give away things obtained with labors so great, and with assiduity so diligent to the first person you meet, quite as much as to divulge the mysteries of the Eleusynian goddesses to the profane. Either thing would be unjust and impious. We should consider how long a time was needed to efface the stains that had insinuated themselves in our breasts, before we became worthy to receive the doctrines of Pythagoras. Unless the dyers previously purified the garments in which they wish the desired colors to be fixed, the dye would either fade, or be washed away entirely. Similarly, that divine man prepared the souls of lovers of philosophy, so that they might not disappoint him in any of those beautiful qualities which he hoped they would possess. He did not impart spurious doctrines, nor stratagems, in which most of the Sophists, who are at leisure for no good purpose, entangle young men; but his knowledge of things human and divine was scientific. These Sophists, however, use his doctrines as a mere pretext commit dreadful atrocities, sweeping the youths away as in a dragnet, most disgracefully, making their auditors become rash nuisances. They infuse theorems and divine doctrines into hearts whose manners are confused and agitated, just as if pure, clear water should be poured into a deep well full of mud, which would stir up the sediment and destroy the clearness of the water. Such a mutual misfortune occurs between such teachers and disciples. The intellect and heart of those whose initiation has not proceeded by disciplines, are surrounded lay thickets dense and thorny, which obscure the mild, tranquil and reasoning power of the soul, and impede the development and elevation of the intellective part. These thickets are produced by intemperance and avarice, both of which are prolific. Intemperance produces lawless marriages, lusts, intoxications, unnatural enjoyments, and passionate impulsions which drive headlong into pits and abysses. The unbridling of desires has removed the barriers against incest with even mothers or daughters, am just as a tyrant would violate city regulations, or country's laws, with their hands bound behind them, like slaves, they have been dragged to the depths of degradation. On the other hand, avarice produces rapine, robbery, parricide, sacrilege, sorcery, and kindred evils. Such being the case, these surrounding thickets, infested with passions, will have to be cleared out with systematic disciplines, as if with fire and sword; and when the reason will have been liberated from so many and great evils, we are in a position to offer to it, and implant within it something useful and good."
So great and necessary was the attention which, according to Pythagoras, should be paid to disciplines as introductions to philosophy.
Moreover, inasmuch as he devoted so much care to the examination of the mental attitudes of prospective disciples, he insisted that the teaching and communication of his doctrines should be distinguished by great honor.