In Robin Waterfield’s translation of Iamblichus, the Theology of Arithmetic, we are treated to an entire section on the spiritual dimensions of the number 2. Two is a feminine number, the Dyad, a departure from the stability and comprehensiveness and self-sufficiency of the One. As such, it represents Diversity and the possibility of something “Other” than the One, at least in a phase of Form. The Dyad (or we might note the similarity of name, the Dryad) is the lunar number that embodies the infinite and endless beauty of matter, infinite and endless because it departs from the self-possessed nature of the One.
Modern thought condemns this account as sexist & oppressive – for them it is part of the ancient baggage we must violently overcome, with Revolution (if need be) against those whose thoughts trend towards the past. Actually, the violence that is directed against “patriarchy” is not a feminine, but masculine characteristic.
Which brings us to an ironic point – the modern world proclaims itself as (partly) the resurgence of the Feminine, the existence of a valid reality despite the backdrop of Chaos, the melange des sens & the search for new frissons, eternally. This is not only to place the Dyad in the position of the Monad, but to misunderstand (deliberately so) that gender symbolism & sex are not the same thing.
They (Pythagoreans) call it “Nature” since it is movement towards being and, as it were, a sort of coming-to-be, and extension from a seed principle, and this is why it is so called, because movement from one thing to another is in the likeness of the Dyad…it is also called deficiency and excess and matter (for which, in fact, another term is the indefinite dyad) because it is in itself devoid of shape and form and any limitation, but is capable of being limited and made definite by reason and skill.
So the Dyad (in other words) possesses Being in that (without it) there is no manifestation or materiality at all, nor any legitimate creation of “novelty” (in the sense that Henri Bergson and Tomberg use this word), yet it is also incomplete, because it needs to reconnect with the primordial Unity, and has to do this through an “Other”. It being “Other”, it requires an “Other”.
One can see that “Otherness” & “Diversity” and such language are (in large part) taken from the nature of Dyad. We are living through a dominantly feminine era, at least in surface ideology. We are told (constantly) that salvation will spring from the fecundity of mingling all things indiscriminately.
Looked at from a Traditional point of view, one might note that the Dyad has here “forgotten” the Monad, and proceeds to work as if it itself was the Origin. But this is to actually (from a Traditional view) express a hatred for what is truly feminine. After all, in discussing these symbols, they seem to have forgotten that both men and women have characteristics of each sex mingled within them – gender is being used to elucidate difficult metaphysical truth, rather than as a power play against Women. If anything, the desire to turn the beauty of manifesting Nature into something it is not, and can never be, is violence against Women. What woman in her right mind would ever wish to remake the world in her own image? For that matter (but for different reasons) what man would either?
It’s also worth nothing that the beauty and order and Logos (Logos Tomeus) which was embodied in the traditional medieval Catholic monarchies (and was so reviled or dismissed in the modern era) were actually feminine manifestations of deep materiality, a world order responsive to the celestial hierarchies. So that when the Revolution came, it actually proceeded in the manner of a rape against the Feminine-social bodies that constituted the Catholic societies.
Perhaps these dichotomies are best refuted by quoting a passage on the One-and-the Many from the end of the section on the Dyad:
Some people, however, misled by numbers which are already countable and secondary, instruct us to regard the dyad as a system of two monads, with the result that if it is dissolved, it reverts to these same two monads. But if the dyad is a system of monads, then the monads are generated earlier; and if the monad is half the dyad, then the existence of the dyad is necessarily prior. If their mutual relations are to be preserved, then, they necessarily co-exist, because double is double what is half, and half is half what is double, and their are neither prior nor posterior, because they generate and are generated by each other, destroy and are destroyed by each other.
In the classical mind, there was no political or metaphysical conflict in assigning gender values to metaphysical numbers, because the desire was to reach an over-arching vision or Dance (of the the Ten Numbers) which would reconcile all truth, beauty, and goodness in the Order that the Christians would know and inherit as the Logos Tomeus.