Damon and Pythias were students of the father of Philosophy, Pythagoras. A maxim of Pythagoras was that the two most excellent things for men are "to speak the truth and to render benefits to each other." Two outstanding attributes of the Pythagoras Society were the marvelous friendship and loyalty which bound the brotherhood together.
These attributes are remarkably demonstrated in the story of Damon and Pythias. Damon, a Senator, was opposed to the pretensions of the King of Syracuse, who had attained the throne by fraud. Because of this opposition, the tyrant King condemned Damon to death. Pythias volunteered to stand hostage for Damon so he could return to his home to bid his wife and child farewell. This story, handed down through the centuries, forms the basis for one of the most dramatic events of history and is exemplified in our ritual.
John Banim, Irish poet and dramatist, wrote a play based on the friendship of Damon and Pythias. Familiarity with the play prompted Justus Rathbone to organize a Fraternal Order based on such friendship. It was near the end of the Civil War and our Founder believed such a Fraternal Order might help to heal the wounds and allay the hatreds of civil conflict. The Knights of Pythias became the first fraternal organization to be chartered by an act of the United States Congress.
The first members took their Fraternal vows in the new Order with their hands upon the Bible that had been given to Brother Rathbone by his mother. The Bible is a treasured relic of the Order.
The Pythian Order consists of the Supreme (International) Lodge which is composed of representatives from the Grand (State or Provincial) Lodges, each of which is composed of representatives from the various Subordinate (local) Lodges.
Yes, there are two active recognized auxiliary organizations: The Pythian Sisters and the Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan (DOKK). The Pythian Sisters organization, in addition to its beautiful ritualistic work, is engaged in altruistic efforts second to none among women's organizations. The Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan and their auxiliary, the Nomads of Avrudaka, are the "playground" of our Fraternal Order. Their mission, in addition to substantial altruistic work, is to encourage a more intimate Pythian experience and closer brotherhood.
Member of the Fraternal Order Knights of Pythias are involved in their communities. Their activities are directed towards enhancing the principles of Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence. These principles are suported by contributions of money, labor and supplies to Pythians and non-Pythians alike. The Special Olympics and Ronald McDonald Houses are primary charities in the Domain of Ohio. The Pythian family has donated generously to these causes.
Local Pythian Lodges and Pythian Sister Temples support and sponsor youth groups such as the Boy Scouts, organized sports, and youth camps. A strength of the Pythian Order is the ability to meet the needs of the local community as seen and accepted by the local members. Additionally, each year the Pythian Order sponsors a Poster Contest for high school age youth. The annual Poster Contest emphasizes safety and concern for others. Prizes are awarded on the local, state or province, and international level.
The Pythian Order provides opportunity for personal growth and development of individual talents and skills. Leadership development opportunities abound throughout the local and international levels.
Pythians know one way to happiness is through service to mankind.
Pythians believe that friendship is an essential ingredient in every walk of life.
Pythians make Benevolence, Kindness, Generosity and Tolerance a reality in their lives.
Pythians place home ties at the top of their priority list.
Pythians are interested in public affairs on the local, state or province, national and international levels.
Pythians are eager to enhance the communities in which they live.
Pythians respect and honor the law of the land in which they live.
Pythians seek to expand their circle of influence by association with people of like interests and energy.
The Fraternal Order Knights of Pythias and its members are dedicated to the cause of universal peace. Pythians are pledged to the promotion of understanding among men of good will as the surest means of attaining Universal Peace. We believe that men and women, meeting in a spirit of goodwill, in an honest effort of understanding, can live together in peace and harmony. We seek those who agree with this belief, and have a personal belief in a Supreme Being, to join our ranks in an effort to reach "Peace Through Understanding."
The information presented on this page is take from a pamphlet entitled, "The Pythian Story," which is distributed by the Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias.