(Greek, those within). Exoteric, those without. The term
originated with Pythagoras, who stood behind a curtain when he gave his
lectures. Those who were allowed to attend the lectures, but not to see
his face, he called his exoteric disciples; but those who were
allowed to enter the veil, his esoteric.
Aristotle adopted the same terms, though he did not lecture behind a
curtain. He called those who attended his evening lectures, which were
of a popular character, his exoterics: and those who attended
his more abstruse morning lectures, his esoterics.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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