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Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, [1948], at


Empedocles of Acragas was in his prime about 450 B.C.

He wrote two poems in hexameter verses: On Nature, addressed to his pupil Pausanias, and Katharmoi (Purifications), addressed to his fellow-citizens of Acragas.


1. Pausanias, but you must listen, son of wise Anchites!

2. For limited are the means of grasping (i.e. the organs of sense perception) which are scattered throughout their limbs, and many are the miseries that press in and blunt the thoughts. And having looked at (only) a small part of existence during their lives, doomed to perish swiftly like smoke they are carried aloft and wafted away, believing only that upon which as individuals they chance to hit as they wander in all directions; but every man preens himself on having found the Whole: so little are these things to be seen by men or to be heard, or to be comprehended by the mind! But you, since you have come here into retirement, shall learn—not more than mortal intellect can attain.

3. But, ye gods, avert from my tongue the madness of those men, and guide forth from my reverent lips a pure stream! I beseech thee also, much-wooed white-armed maiden Muse, convey (to me) such knowledge as divine law allows us creatures of a day to hear, driving the well-harnessed car from (the realm of) Piety! 1

Nor shall the flowers of honour paid to fame by mortals force you at least to accept them on condition that you rashly say more than is holy—and are thereupon enthroned on the heights of wisdom!

But come, observe with every means, to see by which way

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each thing is clear, and do not hold any (percept of) sight higher in credibility than (those) according to hearing, nor (set) the loud-sounding hearing above the evidence of the tongue (taste); nor refuse credence at all to any of the other limbs where there exists a path for perception, but use whatever way of perception makes each thing clear.

4. But it is of great concern to the lower orders to mistrust the powerful; however, as the trustworthy evidence of my Muse commands, grasp (these things), when my reasoned argument has been sifted in your innermost heart! 1

5. To protect it within your silent bosom.

6. Hear, first, the four roots of things: bright Zeus, and life-bearing Hera, and Aidôneus, and Nêstis who causes a mortal spring of moisture to flow with her tears.

7. (The Elements): uncreated.

8. And I shall tell you another thing: there is no creation of substance in any one of mortal existences, nor any end in execrable death, but only mixing and exchange of what has been mixed; and the name 'substance' (Phusis, 'nature') is applied to them by mankind.

9. But men, when these (the Elements) have been mixed in the form of a man and come into the light, or in the form of a species of wild animals, or plants, or birds, then say that this has 'come into being'; and when they separate, this men call sad fate (death). The terms that Right demands they do not use; but through custom I myself also apply these names.

10. Death the Avenger.

11. Fools!—for they have no long-sighted thoughts, since they imagine that what previously did not exist comes into being, or that a thing dies and is utterly destroyed.

12. From what in no wise exists, it is impossible for anything to come into being; and for Being to perish completely is incapable of fulfilment and unthinkable; for it will always be there, wherever anyone may place it on any occasion.

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13. Nor is there any part of the Whole that is empty or overfull.

14. No part of the Whole is empty; so whence could anything additional come?

15. A wise man would not conjecture such things in his heart, namely, that so long as they are alive (which they call Life), they exist, and experience bad and good fortune; but that before mortals were combined (out of the Elements) and after they were dissolved, they are nothing at all.

16. (Love and Hate): As they were formerly, so also will they be, and never, I think, shall infinite Time be emptied of these two.

17. I shall tell of a double (process): at one time it increased so as to be a single One out of Many; at another time again it grew apart so as to be Many out of One. There is a double creation of mortals and a double decline: the union of all things causes the birth and destruction of the one (race of mortals), the other is reared as the elements grow apart, and then flies asunder. And these (elements) never cease their continuous exchange, sometimes uniting under the influence of Love, so that all become One, at other times again each moving apart through the hostile force of Hate. Thus in so far as they have the power to grow into One out of Many, and again, when the One grows apart and Many are formed, in this sense they come into being and have no stable life; but in so far as they never cease their continuous exchange, in this sense they remain always unmoved (unaltered) as they follow the cyclic process.

But come, listen to my discourse! For be assured, learning will increase your understanding. As I said before, revealing the aims of my discourse, I shall tell you of a double process. At one time it increased so as to be a single One out of Many; at another time it grew apart so as to be Many out of One—Fire and Water and Earth and the boundless height of Air, and also execrable Hate apart from these, of equal weight in all directions, 1 and Love in their midst, their equal in length and breadth. Observe her with your mind, and do not sit with

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wondering eyes! She it is who is believed to be implanted in mortal limbs also; through her they think friendly thoughts and perform harmonious actions, calling her Joy and Aphrodite. No mortal man has perceived her as she moves in and out among them. But you must listen to the undeceitful progress of my argument.

All these (Elements) are equal and of the same age in their creation; but each presides over its own office, and each has its own character, and they prevail in turn in the course of Time. And besides these, nothing else comes into being, nor does anything cease. For if they had been perishing continuously, they would Be no more; and what could increase the Whole? And whence could it have come? In what direction could it perish, since nothing is empty of these things? No, but these things alone exist, and running through one another they become different things at different times, and are ever continuously the same.

18. Love (Philia). 1

19. Adhesive Love (Philotês). 1

20. This process is clearly to be seen throughout the mass of mortal limbs: sometimes through Love all the limbs which the body has as its lot come together into One, in the prime of flourishing life; at another time again, sundered by evil feuds, they wander severally by the breakers of the shore of life. Likewise too with shrub-plants and fish in their watery dwelling, and beasts with mountain lairs and diver-birds that travel on wings.

21. But come, observe the following witness to my previous discourse, lest in my former statements there was any substance of which the form was missing. Observe the sun, bright to see and hot everywhere, and all the immortal things (heavenly bodies) drenched with its heat and brilliant light; and (observe) the rain, dark and chill over everything; and from the Earth issue forth things based on the soil and solid. But in (the reign of) Wrath they are all different in form and separate, while in (the reign of) Love they come together and long for one another. For from these (Elements) come all things that were

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and are and will be; and trees spring up, and men and women, and beasts and birds and water-nurtured fish, and even the long-lived gods who are highest in honour. For these (Elements) alone exist, but by running through one another they become different; to such a degree does mixing change them.

22. For all these things—beaming Sun and Earth and Heaven and Sea—are connected in harmony with their own parts: all those (parts) which have been sundered from them and exist in mortal limbs. Similarly all those things which are more suitable for mixture are made like one another and united in affection by Aphrodite. But those things which differ most from one another in origin and mixture and the forms in which they are moulded are completely unaccustomed to combine, and are very baneful 1 because of the commands of Hate, in that Hate has wrought their origin.

23. As when painters decorate temple-offerings with colours—men who, following their intelligence, are well-skilled in their craft—these, when they take many-coloured pigments in their hands, and have mixed them in a harmony, taking more of some, less of another, create from them forms like to all things, making trees and men and women and animals and birds and fish nurtured in water, and even long-lived gods, who are highest in honour; so let not Deception compel your mind (to believe) that there is any other source for mortals, as many as are to be seen existing in countless numbers. But know this for certain, since you have the account from a divinity. 2

24. . . . Touching on summit after summit, not to follow a single path of discourse to the end.

25. For what is right can well be uttered even twice.

26. In turn they get the upper hand in the revolving cycle, and perish into one another and increase in the turn appointed by Fate. For they alone exist, but running through one another they become men and the tribes of other animals, sometimes uniting under the influence of Love into one ordered Whole, at other times again each moving apart through the hostile

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force of Hate, until growing together into the Whole which is One, they are quelled. Thus in so far as they have the power to grow into One out of Many, and again, when the One grows apart and Many are formed, in this sense they come into being and have no stable life; but in so far as they never cease their continuous exchange, in this sense they remain always unmoved (unaltered) as they follow the cyclic process. 1

27. (The Sphere under the dominion of Love): Therein are articulated neither the swift limbs of the sun, nor the shaggy might of Earth, nor the sea: so firmly is it (the Whole) fixed in a close-set secrecy, a rounded Sphere enjoying a circular solitude. 2

27a. There is no strife nor unseemly war in his limbs.

28. But he (God) is equal in all directions to himself and altogether eternal, a rounded Sphere enjoying a circular solitude.

29. For there do not start two branches from his back; (he has) no feet, no swift knees, no organs of reproduction; but he was a Sphere, and in all directions equal to himself.

30. But when great Hate had been nourished in its limbs, and had rushed up into honour, when the time was fulfilled which, alternating, is fixed for them (Love and Hate) by a broad oath. . .

31. For all the limbs of the god trembled in succession.

32. The joint connects two things.

33. As when fig juice binds white milk . . .

34. Having kneaded together barley-meal with water . . .

35. But I will go back to the path of song which I formerly laid down, drawing one argument from another: that (path which shows how) when Hate has reached the bottommost abyss of the eddy, and when Love reaches the middle of the whirl, then in it (the whirl) all these things come together so as to be One—not all at once, but voluntarily uniting, some from one quarter, others from another. And as they mixed,

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there poured forth countless races of mortals. But many things stand unmixed side by side with the things mixing—all those which Hate (still) aloft 1 checked, since it had not yet faultlessly 2 withdrawn from the Whole to the outermost limits of the circle, but was remaining in some places, and in other places departing from the limbs (of the Sphere). But in so far as it went on quietly streaming out, to the same extent there was entering a benevolent immortal inrush of faultless Love. And swiftly those things became mortal which previously had experienced immortality, and things formerly unmixed became mixed, changing their paths. And as they mixed, there poured forth countless races of mortals, equipped with forms of every sort, a marvel to behold.

36. As they came together, Hate returned to the outermost (bound).

37. (Fire increases Fire), Earth increases its own substance, Aether (increases) Aether.

38. Come now, I will first tell you of (the sun3 the beginning, (the Elements) from which all the things we now look upon came forth into view: Earth, and the sea with many waves, and damp Air, and the Titan Aether which clasps the circle all round.

39. If the depths of the earth were unlimited, and also the vast Aether, a doctrine which has foolishly issued forth off the tongues of many, and has been spread abroad out of their mouths, since they have seen only a little of the Whole . . .

40. Sharp-shooting sun and gracious moon.

41. But (the sun) collected in a ball travels round the great sky.

42. (The moon) cuts off his (the sun's) rays, whenever she goes below him, and she throws a shadow on as much of the Earth as is the breadth of the bright-eyed moon.

43. Thus the ray (of sunshine) having struck the broad surface of the moon (returns at once in order that, running, it may reach the heavens).

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44. (The Sun, having been round the Earth, by reflection from the heavenly light) flashes back to Olympus with serene countenance.

45. There whirls round the Earth a circular borrowed light.

46. As the nave of the chariot (-wheel) whirls round the goal, (so does the moon circle closely round the Earth).

47. She gazes at the sacred circle of her lord (the sun) opposite.

48. It is the Earth that makes night by coming in the way of the (sun's) rays.

49. Of night, lonely, blind-eyed.

50. Iris brings from the sea a wind or a great rain-storm.

51. Mightily upwards (rushes Fire).

52. Many fires burn below the surface (of the Earth).

53. For so (the Aether) chanced to be running at that time, though often differently.

54. (Fire by nature rose upwards), but Aether sank down with long roots upon the Earth.

55. Sea, the sweat of Earth.

56. Salt was solidified, pressed by the forceful rays (of the sun).

57. On it (Earth) many foreheads without necks sprang forth, and arms wandered unattached, bereft of shoulders, and eyes strayed about alone, needing brows.

58. Limbs wandered alone.

59. But as the one divinity became more and more mingled with the other (i.e. Love and Hate), these things fell together as each chanced, and many other things in addition to these were continuously produced.

60. Creatures with rolling gait and innumerable hands.

61. Many creatures were created with a face and breast on both sides; offspring of cattle with the fronts of men, and again

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there arose offspring of men with heads of cattle; and (creatures made of elements) mixed in part from men, in part of female sex, furnished with hairy limbs. 1

62. Come now, hear how the Fire as it was separated sent up the night-produced shoots of men and much-lamenting women; for my tale is not wide of the mark nor ill-informed. At first, undifferentiated shapes of earth arose, having a share of both elements Water and Heat. These the Fire sent up, wishing to reach its like, but they did not yet exhibit a lovely body with limbs, nor the voice and organ such as is proper to men.

63. But the substance of (the child's) limbs is divided (between them), part in the man's (body and part in the woman's).

64. Upon him comes Desire also, reminding 2 him through sight.

65. And they (male and female seed) were poured into the pure parts. Some of it forms women, (namely) that which has encountered Cold, (and conversely that which encounters Hot produces males).

66. The divided meadows of Aphrodite.

67. For in the warmer part the stomach (i.e. the womb) is productive of the male, and for this reason men are swarthy and more powerfully built 3 and more shaggy.

68. On the tenth day of the eighth month (the blood) becomes a white putrefaction (milk).

69. Double-bearing: (women, as bearing in both the seventh and the ninth months).

70. Sheepskin: (the membrane, or caul, round the unborn child).

71. But if your belief concerning these matters was at all lacking—how from the mixture of Water, Earth, Aether and Sun (Fire) there came into being the forms and colours of mortal things in such numbers as now exist fitted together by Aphrodite . . .

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72. How also tall trees and fish of the sea . . .

73. And as at that time Cypris, when she had drenched earth with rain-water, busying herself in preparation of the forms, 1 gave them to swift Fire to strengthen them . . .

74. (Aphrodite): bringing the tuneless tribe of prolific fish.

75. Of (the animals), those that are of dense composition on the outside and rare within, having received this flabbiness under the hands of Cypris . . .

76. This is (found) in the hard-backed shells of the sea-dwellers, especially the sea-snails and the stone-skinned turtles. There you will see earth dwelling on the surface of the flesh.

77, 78. (Trees) retentive of their leaves and retentive of their fruit, flourish with abundance of fruit all the year round, in accordance with the Air (i.e. Vapour, Moisture, in their composition).

79. Thus eggs are borne, first by the tall olive trees . . .

80. . . .Which is the reason why pomegranates are late-ripening and apples remain juicy for so long(?). 2

81. Wine is the water from the bark, after it has fermented in the wood.

82. Hair, and leaves, and the close feathers of birds, and the scales that grow on stout limbs, are the same thing.

83. But hedgehogs have sharp-shooting hairs that bristle on their backs.

84. As when a man, thinking to make an excursion through a stormy night, prepares a lantern, a flame of burning fire, fitting lantern-plates to keep out every sort of winds, and these plates disperse the breath of the blowing winds; but the light leaps out through them, in so far as it is finer, and shines across the threshold with unwearying beams: so at that time did the aboriginal Fire, confined in membranes and in fine

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tissues, hide itself 1 in the round pupils; and these (tissues) were pierced throughout with marvellous passages. They kept out the deep reservoir of water surrounding the pupil, but let the Fire through (from within) outwards, since it was so much finer.

85. But the benevolent flame (of the eye) happened to obtain only a slight admixture of Earth.

86. . . . Out of which (Elements) divine Aphrodite built tireless eyes.

87. Aphrodite, having fastened them (eyes) together with clamps of affection . . .

88. One vision is produced by both (eyes).

89. Realising that from all created things there are effluences . . .

90. Thus sweet seized on sweet, bitter rushed towards bitter, sour moved towards sour, and hot settled upon hot.

91. (Water is) more able to agree with wine, but unwilling (to mix) with oil.

92. (The sterility of mules is due to the quality of their seed: both the male and female seed are soft substances which when mixed produce a hard substance, as when) brass is mixed with tin.

93. The berry of the grey elder mingles with the linen. 2

94. And the black colour in the bottom of a river arises from the shadow, and the same thing is seen in deep caves.

95. When first they (the eyes) grew together in the hands of Cypris . . . (explanation of why some creatures see better by day, others by night).

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96. But the Earth obligingly in its broad vessels received two parts out of the eight of shining Nêstis, four of Hephaestus. And these became the white bones fitted together by the cementing of Harmony, divinely originated.

97. The spine (acquired its present form by being broken when the animal turned its neck).

98. The Earth, having been finally moored in the harbours of Love, joined with these in about equal proportions: with Hephaestus, with moisture, and with all-shining Aether, either a little more (of Earth) or a little less to their more. And from these came blood and the forms of other flesh.

99. (The ear is a kind of) bell. (It is) a fleshy shoot.

100. The way everything breathes in and out is as follows: all (creatures) have tubes of flesh, empty of blood, which extend over the surface of the body; and at the mouths of these tubes the outermost surface of the skin is perforated with frequent pores, so as to keep in the blood while a free way is cut for the passage of the air. Thus, when the thin blood flows back from here, the air, bubbling, rushes in in a mighty wave; and when the blood leaps up (to the surface), there is an expiration of air. As when a girl, playing with a water-catcher 1 of shining brass—when, having placed the mouth of the pipe on her well-shaped hand she dips the vessel into the yielding substance of silvery water, still the volume of air pressing from inside on the many holes keeps out the water, until she uncovers the condensed stream (of air). Then at once when the air flows out, the water flows in in an equal quantity. Similarly, when water occupies the depths of the brazen vessel, and the opening or passage is stopped by the human flesh (hand), and the air outside, striving to get in, checks the water, by controlling the surface at the entrance of the noisy strainer 2 until she lets go with her hand:

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then again, in exactly the opposite way from what happened before, as the air rushes in, the water flows out in equal volume. Similarly when the thin blood, rushing through the limbs, flows back into the interior, straightway a stream of air flows in with a rush; and when the blood flows up again, again there is a breathing-out in equal volume.

101. . . . Tracking down with its nostrils the portions of animal limbs, all those (portions) that, when living, they left behind from their feet on the tender grass. 1

102. Thus all (creatures) have a share of breathing and smell.

103. Thus all (creatures) have intelligence, by the will of Fortune.

104. And in so far as the rarest things came together in their fall . . .

105. (The heart) nourished in the seas of blood which courses in two opposite directions: this is the place where is found for

the most part what men call Thought; for the blood round the heart is Thought in mankind.

106. The intelligence of Man grows towards the material that is present.

107. For from these (Elements) are all things fitted and fixed together, and by means of these do men think, and feel pleasure and sorrow.

108. In so far as their natures have changed (during the day), so does it befall men to think changed thoughts (in their dreams).

109. We see Earth by means of Earth, Water by means of Water, divine Air by means of Air, and destructive Fire by means of Fire; Affection by means of Affection, Hate by means of baneful Hate.

109a. (Reflections are emanations on to the mirror from the objects mirrored).

110. If you press them (these truths?) deep into your firm

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mind, and contemplate them with good will and a studious care that is pure, these things will all assuredly remain with you throughout your life; and you will obtain many other things from them; for these things of themselves cause each (element) to increase in the character, according to the way of each man's nature. But if you intend to grasp after different things such as dwell among men in countless numbers and blunt their thoughts, miserable (trifles), certainly these things will quickly desert you in the course of time, longing to return to their own original kind. For all things, be assured, have intelligence and a portion of Thought.

111. You shall learn all the drugs that exist as a defence against illness and old age; for you alone will I accomplish all this. You shall check the force of the unwearying winds which rush upon the earth with their blasts and lay waste the cultivated fields. And again, if you wish, you shall conduct the breezes back again. You shall create a seasonable dryness after the dark rain for mankind, and again you shall create after summer drought the streams that nourish the trees and [which will flow in the sky]. 1 And you shall bring out of Hades a dead man restored to strength.


112. Friends, who dwell in the great town on the city's heights, looking down on yellow Acragas, you who are occupied with good deeds, who are harbours (of refuge) treating foreigners with respect, and who are unacquainted with wickedness: greeting! I go about among you as an immortal god, no longer a mortal, held in honour by all, as I seem (to them to deserve), 2 crowned with fillets and flowing garlands. When I come to them in their flourishing towns, to men and women, I am honoured; and they follow me in thousands, to inquire where is the path of advantage, some desiring oracles, while others ask to hear a word of healing for their manifold diseases, since they have long been pierced with cruel pains.

113. But why do I lay stress on these things, as if I were achieving something great in that I surpass mortal men who are liable to many forms of destruction?

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114. Friends, I know that Truth is present in the story that I shall tell; but it is actually very difficult for men, and the impact of conviction on their minds is unwelcome.

115. There is an oracle of Necessity, an ancient decree of the gods, eternal, sealed fast with broad oaths, that when one of the divine spirits whose portion is long life sinfully stains his own limbs with bloodshed, and following Hate has sworn a false oath—these must wander for thrice ten thousand seasons far from the company of the blessed, being born throughout the period into all kinds of mortal shapes, which exchange one hard way of life for another. For the mighty Air chases them into the Sea, and the Sea spews them forth on to the dry land, and the Earth (drives them) towards the rays of the blazing Sun; and the Sun hurls them into the eddies of the Aether. One (Element) receives them from the other, and all loathe them. Of this number am I too now, a fugitive from heaven and a wanderer, because I trusted in raging Hate.

116. (The Grace) loathes intolerable Necessity.

117. For by now I have been born as boy, girl, plant, bird, and dumb sea-fish.

118. I wept and wailed when I saw the unfamiliar land (at birth).

119. How great the honour, how deep the happiness from which (I am exiled)!

120. 'We have come into this roofed cavern.' (Spoken by those who escort the souls to Earth).

121. . . . The joyless land where are Murder and Wrath and the tribes of other Dooms, and Wasting Diseases and Corruptions and the Works of Dissolution 1 wander over the Meadow of Disaster in the darkness.

122. Here were the Earth-Mother (Chthoniê) and the farseeing Sunshine-Nymph (Hêliopê), bloody Discord, and Harmony with her serious mien, Beauty and Ugliness, the

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[paragraph continues] Speed-Nymph and the Nymph of Delay; and lovely Infallibility and dark-eyed Uncertainty.

123. (The female figures) Growth and Decay, Rest and Waking, Movement and Immobility, much-crowned Majesty, and Defilement, Silence and Voice.

124. Alas, oh wretched race of mortals, direly unblessed! Such are the conflicts and groanings from which you have been born!

125. For from living creatures he made them dead, changing their forms, (and from dead, living).

126. (A female divinity) clothing (the soul) in the unfamiliar tunic of flesh.

127. In the (realm of) animals they become lions that have their lair in the mountains, and their bed on the ground; and in (the realm of) fair-tressed trees, (they become) laurels.

128. And for them there was no god Ares, nor Battle-Din, nor Zeus the King, nor Cronos nor Poseidon, but only Cypris the Queen. These men sought to please her with pious gifts—with painted animals and perfumes of cunningly-devised smell, with sacrifice of unmixed myrrh and of fragrant incense, and by casting libations of yellow honey on the ground. And the altar was not drenched with the unmixed blood of bulls, but this was the greatest pollution among men, to devour the goodly limbs (of animals) whose life they had reft from them.

129. There was living among them a man of surpassing knowledge, who had acquired the extremest wealth of the intellect, one expert in every kind of skilled activity. For whenever he reached out with his whole intellect, he easily discerned each one of existing things, in ten and even twenty lifetimes of mankind.

130. And all creatures, both animals and birds, were tame and gentle towards men, and friendliness glowed between them.

131. If for the sake of any mortal, immortal Muse, it has pleased thee that my poetic endeavours should be of concern

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to thee, now once again, in answer to my prayer, stand beside me, Calliopeia, as I expound a good theory concerning the blessed gods!

132. Happy is he who has acquired the riches of divine thoughts, but wretched the man in whose mind dwells an obscure opinion about the gods!

133. It is not possible to bring God near within reach of our eyes, nor to grasp him with our hands, by which route the broadest road of Persuasion runs into the human mind.

134. For he is not equipped with a human head on his body, nor from his back do two branches start; (he has) no feet, no swift knees, 1 no hairy genital organs; but he is Mind, holy and ineffable, and only Mind, which darts through the whole universe with its swift thoughts.

135. But that which is lawful for all extends continuously through the broad-ruling Air and through the boundless Light. 2

136. Will ye not cease from this harsh-sounding slaughter? Do you not see that you are devouring one another in the thoughtlessness of your minds?

137. The father having lifted up the son slaughters him with a prayer, in his great folly. But they are troubled 3 at sacrificing one who begs for mercy. But he, on the other hand, deaf to (the victim's) cries, slaughters him in his halls and prepares the evil feast. Likewise son takes father, and children their mother, and tearing out the life, eat the flesh of their own kin.

138. Having drained off their life with bronze . . .

139. (Hymn of repentance for sins of diet): 'Alas that a pitiless day did not destroy me before I planned evil deeds of eating with my lips!'

140. Keep entirely away from laurel-leaves!

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141. Wretches, utter wretches, keep your hands off beans!

142. Him will the roofed palace of aegis-bearing Zeus never receive, nor yet the roof of Hades and of the piteous voice. 1

143. (Wash the hands) cutting off (water) from five springs into (a vessel of) enduring bronze.

144. To fast from sin.

145. Therefore you are distraught with dire sins, and shall never ease your heart of your grievous sorrows!

146. And at the last they become seers, and bards, and physicians, and princes among earth-dwelling men, from which (state) they blossom forth as gods highest in honour.

147. Sharing the hearth of the other immortals, sharing the same table, freed from the lot of human griefs, indestructible.

148. Earth that envelops mortals (the body).

149. Cloud-gathering Air.

150. Full-blooded liver. 2

151. Life-giving Aphrodite.

152. (Old age, the evening of life; evening, the old age of the day: a similar metaphor in Empedocles)

153. Baubô. 3

153a. In seven times seven days (the unborn child is formed).

Doubtful fragments

154. (Plutarch, 'On Eating Flesh', has a passage in defence of those who began the practice: they did not do it out of lawless self-indulgence, but from dire need. He imagines them addressing the men of today and saying: ‘You have plenty of everything; but for us life was hard. It was a time before) the sun had settled in his unchanging course, so as to divide morning and evening; before his path turned back again, crowning him with the

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fruit-bearing, flower-garlanded seasons; when the Earth was overwhelmed with the unregulated outpourings of rivers, and vast areas were deserts, formless because of lakes, deep mud-pits, barren scrub and woodland.’

154a. A potion of birth-pangs, pains, disappointments and lamentations . . .

154b. (Aratus, Phaenomena, 131 sqq.)

154c. It is immediately clear which plants are going to be fruitful.

Spurious fragments

155. Têlaugês, famous son of Theanô and Pythagoras!

156. (Elegiac verses on Pausanias, the pupil to whom the poem 'On Nature' is addressed).

157. (Punning elegiac couplet on Acrôn, a physician of Acragas).

158. Bereaved of the happy life.

159. The accumulated bulk.


51:1 Others translate: 'Muse of such things as it is lawful for mortals to hear, escort me from the realms of Piety, driving my well-harnessed car!'

Here there is probably a gap, where Empedocles takes up his address to Pausanias again.

52:1 διασηθέντος (Diels), from διασήθω, 'sift'; but he translates: 'when my speech has passed through the sieve of your inward parts.' Clement read διατμηθέντος, which gives: 'when my argument has been analysed in your inner parts', a perfectly sound meaning.

53:1 ἁπάντῃ (Sextus); Simplicius read ἑκαστον, which has been emended to ἑκάστῳ (Panzerbieter): 'equal in weight to each' (of the Elements).

54:1 Empedocles probably used Philotês, not Philia; both words mean Love in the widest sense, not merely Eros.

55:1 λυγρά is usually translated 'sorry', 'grieved'; but cp. Odyssey IV. 230: φάρμακα λυγρά.

55:2 The Muse.

56:1 Of this fragment, v. 3= B17, v. 34 and B21, v. 13; vv. 5, 6 = B17, vv. 7, 8; vv. 8-12 = B17, vv. 9-13.

56:2 i.e., content with these conditions, self-sufficient.

57:1 i.e., not yet fallen to the bottom.

57:2 i.e., 'completely', so that no fault could be found with the mixture.

57:3 ἥλιον Clem.; corrupt.

59:1 σκιεροῖς (Kranz); Diels read στείροις ('sterile').

59:2 ἀναμιμνήσκων, a dubious emendation by Diels for ἀμμίσγων, 'mingling' (male and female).

59:3 ἁδρομελέστεροι: Karsten for MSS. ἀνδρωδέστεροι.

60:1 εἴδεα. Diels read ἴδεα from ἴδος (damp heat).

60:2 Plutarch, who quotes this, did not know the meaning of ὑπέρφλοιον, but was told by scholars that φλοίειν is used to mean 'to be in its prime', 'to flourish', and as the apple is the fruit which best preserves its prime, the poet called it 'of surpassing or enduring ripeness'. Empedocles is explaining the effect of the sun on various fruits.

61:1 λοχάζετο here is intransitive. Burnet wrongly takes it as transitive and supplies 'she (Love)' as the subject. For the accusative κούρην cp. Hdt. v. 121, ἐλόχησαν ὁδόν 'occupied the road with an ambuscade'.

61:2 This fragment concerns dyeing, as illustrative of the power of assimilation of one substance by another. The MSS. read κρόκου or κρόκον, for which Diels substituted κόκκος, 'berry'; and ἀκρίς, for which Wilamowitz suggested ἀκτῆς, from ἀκτέα, 'elder'. If the MSS. readings κρόκου and ἀκτίς be retained, the fragment can be more plausibly translated: 'The ray of bright(?) saffron mingles with the linen.' The emendations are ingenious but improbable.

62:1 Klepsydra: not here the water-clock, but a domestic vessel for picking up small quantities of liquid out of a larger vessel. See Hugh Last, Class. Q. XVIII (1924), pp. 169 sqq. for description and illustration.

62:2 ἠθμοῖο, the base of the water-catcher, pierced with holes through which the liquid enters. This, the reading of a few less good MSS., is probably correct. Burnet prefers the commoner ἰσθμοῖο (the control-pipe at the top of the vessel), because of δυσηχέος ('noisy'), which he thinks means 'gurgling', as when a bottle full of water is turned upside down; such an experiment is described in Aristotle, Probl. 943. But this is not to the point here: the water-catcher was not turned upside down, but the flow of liquid was regulated by opening and shutting the upper entrance with the hand.

63:1 The hunting-dog is referred to. Smell, an emanation from the animal, is given off only when it is alive; hence, when dead, it does not leave traces of interest to other animals.

64:1 Reading corrupt.

64:2 ὤσπερ ἔοικα. Diels translated this 'as I deserve', which, as Kranz says, is impossible. Another reading is ἔοικε, 'as is proper'. See Companion, p. 178, note.

65:1 ἔργα τε ῥευστά. Diels (followed by Burnet) thought that this referred to floods; but bodily ailments are here in question. Bignone suggested 'works of dissolution'. Kranz translates 'the work of Rheuma', i.e. of diseases due to excess of the moist element, as opposed to fevers ('wasting diseases').

67:1 vv. 1, 2, = B29, vv. 1, 2.

67:2 Divine law as opposed to human law; said to refer in particular to the prohibition of animal-slaughter.

67:3 οἱ δ᾽ ἀπορεῦνται, emendation of Diels, who takes 'they' as 'the attendants at the sacrifice'. If the MSS. reading of δὲ πορεῦνται λισσόεμνοι be retained, the meaning is: 'they (the victims) come up to beg for mercy'.

68:1 An uncertain restoration by Diels of a passage quoted for grammatical reasons, from the Herculanean MSS.

68:2 Quoted by Plutarch to show that Empedocles does not use epithets idly for the sake of fine writing, but in order to bring out the exact nature or function of something.

68:3 Connected with Demeter in Orphic mythology; said to have been used by Empedocles to mean 'belly'.

Next: 32. Menestôr of Sybaris