by Hans TenDam
A doctoral thesis at Princeton University Press in 1948, documents carefully and scholarly that Greek reincarnation ideas came from no other than Pythagoras; not from his teacher Pherecydes, the Orphics, Egypt, the Celts, or the Thracians. And as two of the most important doctrines associated with metempsychosis appear first in Greece, and only then in India, any transmission would have rather been from Greece to India than the reverse. It is also likely that the Celts acquired the doctrine from the Greeks. In the Pythagorean view, metempsychosis is an ethical development and memories of past lifetimes are possible. We can still live with that.
Reincarnation or rather metempsychosis ideas were already known in classical Greece. Orphic and Pythagorean sources have been known. Originally, those ideas probably would have come from Egypt or India or both, and some have suggested that these ideas came from the Celts in Gaul or from the Thracians. Recently, I came across an excellent study by Robert Long. His doctoral thesis, A Study of the Doctrine of Metempsychosis in Greece from Pythagoras to Plato was published by Princeton University Press in 1948. This very scholarly work seems to set the record straight.
The source of Greek reincarnation ideas was certainly Pythagoras, not his teacher Pherecydes, not the Orphic religion, not Egypt, not the Celts, not the Thracians, and most probably not India.