Skip to main content

Evagrius Ponticus

Will come back and change the language a little so it is more befitting of a wiki, but have the general structure down copied from Syzgy's comments on PDB. May come to do more research on it as well.


Evagrius agreed that texts ought to be interpreted with heavy metaphor and figurative perceptions, he synthesized biblical readings (which he interpreted metaphorically) and Pythagoras’s interpretation of numbers holding spiritual value to them. Evagrius created a system that revolves around 8 virtues and 8 vices and was supported by a metaphorically interpreted bible verse of Matthew 12:43-45

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

Evagrius believed that people would have 1 specific vice and 1 specific virtue. He researched about the number “153” from the book of John 21. He mathematically tried to explain it:

“153 is triangular, that is, 153 = (1 + 2 + 3 + .... 17) and it is also hexagonal because 153 = (1+ 5 + 9 ... + 33). These two qualities found in a single number Evagrius would find highly significant according to Pythagorean philosophy. The number 153 therefore possesses both a trinitarian quality, symbolic of the trinity, and a 6-term quality symbolic of the creation. This symbolization is very close to Gurdjieff’s enneagram which expresses the Law of Three and the Law of Seven.”

If you think about it 1 + 5 + 3 = 9 - the number of types in the Enneagram theory.

With that mathematical explanation, it is best represented by the 2 images I posted, is it familiar? There are other explanations he gave however this one is the most accurate and less vague when compared to Enneagram.

The thing here is, Gurdjieff has never really said where he got his knowledge from, the most famous and believed theory was that he got it from Sufis in Central Asia, however here is the interesting fact; Evegrius Ponticus’ name comes from Kingdom of Pontus and is considered modern-day Turkey. It’s believed Ponticus' specific place was in Ibora Turkey. Here is the interesting fact, if you look at a map, Turkey is just right beside Armenia, where Gurdjieff resided. Coincidence? Maybe not. Or what if, it was indeed Jung’s Collective Unconscious that made them coin something similar? Perhaps like Newton and Leibniz with Calculus. Maybe we will never know, however I did raise this up since his method was similar to mine; focusing on the mathematical aspects and I would want to document his story as well as some form of insight to one of Enneagram’s early beginnings.

The Significance of "153"

Upon further reading, I realized that the concept of the number 153 is a lot deeper and insightful than meets the eye. The 3 people I want you to remember are:

  1. Evagrius Ponticus
  2. George Gurdjieff
  3. Pythagoras of Samos

Timeline: Pythagoras -> Ponticus -> Gurdjieff


Now onto my main point, we as a community has fully accepted Ichazo’s ideas, however it is also interesting to note the deeper history of Enneagram, which helps us deepen our understanding of it and help us appreciate it more. The origins of the Enneagram mostly stem from the world’s most major religions. Enneagram’s origins date back to highly cryptic and Sufi sources. Bennett makes special mention of the Magi, the eastern wise men. The most famous representation of these Magi is from the story of Jesus, where the 3 Magi came to give Him 3 gifts each. Pythagoras was involved in the school of the Magi. Pythagoras, prior to becoming a mathematician, was a priest in Egypt and Babylonia. He ended up finding an esoteric school of wisdom. His beliefs and principles revolved around the spritual nature of numbers. After a millennium, the ancient knowledge and source was preserved and passed on by a Sufi school after the rise of Islam, however the Sufi masters themselves claimed they haven’t passed the concept of Enneagram down. HOWEVER they only revealed parts of it that involved personal and spritual growth.


Evagrius Ponticus was born in the Kingdom of Pontus in the year 345, which is modern day Ibora Turkey. The works of Origen influenced Evagrius, who was in turn influenced by Pythagoras’s teachings, who, as we know, brought signifiance to biblical texts and numbers. Evagrius’s works have been preserved only in Armenia, where Gurdjieff resided. Ponticus developed 9 vices which is rooted from an extremely metaphorical interpretation of Matthew 12 (the official passage is on the original post I sent.) To Evagrius Ponticus, the first vice is gluttony which incorporates itself to the other vices. He developed similar terms like that of modern-day Enneagram, but did not fully develop or organize it like Ichazo, but the fear of Enneagram Six is missing.

The number 153 comes into play wherein the interpretation of the number of fishes Jesus and his disciplies has caught. In the number of fish that after his resurrection to be caught on the right side of the boat, to find this new life, we find the number 150, added by 3 (the Trinity) we get 153. Augustine the Hippo has also had his thoughts on this topic, he stated that if we add the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit with number 10, the number of commandments, we get the number 17, which is a triangular number; the sum of numbers of 1 to 17 (1 + 2 + 3.. + 16 + 17) is equal to 153. Coincidence? In situations like these where we delve into the spiritual aspects of Enneagram and Jung, there is no such thing as a mere coincidence, as Jung has called the term: “synchronicity.” The number 153 can also be split into their individual numbers, 1, 5 and 3, which added results to 9, the number of types in Enneagram.

Another Mathematical Interpretation

Here is the other mathematical method, the number 153, geometrically, creates a shape with both a triangle and hexagonal figure. Tringle (3) represents the Holy Trinity, the hexagon, with 6 sides, represents the creation of Earth in 6 days. The number 100 describes a sqaure number since 10^2 or 10 x 10. The number 53 a triangle and a circle, as it is the sum of 25 and 28. 28 - triangle angle; 25 - square because 25 is 5 x 5 (squared number - multiplied by itself.) It represents a square figure since it symbolizes the fourfold qualities of the 7 virtues. Circle, on the other hand, represents the flow of events and Earth, whilst the Triangle represents the Holy Trinity.

  • Triangular Numbers: Sum of consecutive numbers beginning with 1 (e.g 1 + 2)
  • Square Numbers: Sum of numbers beginning with 1 but a number is left out or skipped over (e.g 1 + 3 + 5)
  • Hexagonal Numbers: Sum of numbers beginning with 1 but a 3 numbers have been skipped over (e.g 1 + 5)
  • Circular Numbers: Product of a number which upon being squared is repeated at the last place (e.g 5 x 5)

This all boils down to the number 153, which is rooted from a Biblical perspective, supported by mathematics and becomes the building framework for the Enneagram symbol we know today due to the sum of integers 1-17 and many more. Some of the models built using these mathematical and biblical frameworks are shown in the 2nd to last page of the pictures. 





[4] Rohr, Richard. (2001). The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. New York : Crossroad Publishing. (Pages 6-12)

Written and maintained by PDB users for PDB users.