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There was a certain Polybius, completely uneducated and ill-spoken, who said, “The emperor has honored me with Roman citizenship.” To which Demonax responded, “If only he'd made you a Greek rather than a Roman.”:
Lucian of Samosata, Life of Demonax

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Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, 3rd edition (1920). London: A & C Black Ltd.

Xenophanes of Colophon: Fragments

55. Life of Xenophanes

We have seen how Pythagoras gave a deeper meaning to the religious movement of his time; we have now to consider a very different manifestation of the reaction against the view of the gods which the poets had made familiar. Xenophanes denied the anthropomorphic gods altogether, but was quite unaffected by the revival of religion going on all round him. We still have a fragment of an elegy in which he ridiculed Pythagoras and the doctrine of transmigration.108 We are also told that he opposed the views of Thales and Pythagoras, and attacked Epimenides, which is likely enough, though no fragments of the kind have come down to us.109

It is not easy to determine the date of Xenophanes. Timaios, whose testimony in such matters carries weight, said he was a contemporary of Hieron and Epicharmos, and he certainly seems to have played a part in the anecdotical romance of Hieron's court which amused the Greeks of the fourth century as that of Croesus and the Seven Wise Men amused those of the fifth.110 As Hieron reigned from 478 to 467 B.C., that would make it impossible to date the birth of Xenophanes earlier than 570 B.C., even if we suppose him to have lived till the age of a hundred. On the other hand, Clement says that Apollodoros gave Ol. XL. (620-616 B.C ) as the date of his birth, and adds that his days were prolonged till the time of Dareios and Cyrus.111 Again, Diogenes, whose information on such matters mostly comes from Apollodoros, says he flourished in Ol. LX. (540-537 B.C.), and Diels holds that Apollodoros really said so.112 However that may be, it is evident that the date 540 B.C. is based on the assumption that he went to Elea in the year of its foundation, and is, therefore, a mere combination, which need not be taken into account .113

What we do know for certain is that Xenophanes had led a wandering life from the age of twenty-five, and that he was still alive and making poetry at the age of ninety-two. He says himself (fr. 8 = 24 Karst.; R. P. 97):

There are by this time threescore years and seven that have tossed my careworn soul114 up and down the land of Hellas; and there were then five-and-twenty years from my birth, if I can say aught truly about these matters.

It is tempting to suppose that in this passage Xenophanes was referring to the conquest of Ionia by Harpagos, and that he is, in fact, answering the question asked in another poem115 (fr. 22 = 17 Karst.; R. P. 95 a):

This is the sort of thing we should say by the fireside in the winter-time, as we lie on soft couches after a good meal, drinking sweet wine and crunching chickpeas: “Of what country are you, and how old are you, good sir? And how old were you when the Mede appeared?”

In that case, his birth would fall in 565 B.C., and his connexion with Hieron would be quite credible. We note also that he referred to Pythagoras in the past tense, and is in turn so referred to by Herakleitos.116

Theophrastos said that Xenophanes had “heard” Anaximander,117 and we shall see that he was acquainted with the Ionian cosmology. When driven from his native city, he lived in Sicily, chiefly, we are told, at Zankle and Katana.118 Like Archilochos before him, he unburdened his soul in elegies and satires, which he recited at the banquets where, we may suppose, the refugees tried to keep up the usages of good Ionian society. The statement that he was a rhapsode has no foundation at all.119 The singer of elegies was no professional like the rhapsode, but the social equal of his listeners. In his ninety-second year he was still, we have seen, leading a wandering life, which is hardly consistent with the statement that he settled at Elea and founded a school there, especially if we are to think of him as spending his last days at Hieron's court.120 It is very remarkable that no ancient writer expressly says he ever was at Elea,121 and all the evidence we have seems inconsistent with his having settled there at all.

56. Poems

According to Diogenes, Xenophanes wrote in hexameters and also composed elegies and iambics against Homer and Hesiod.122 No good authority says anything of his having written a philosophical poem.123 Simplicius tells us he had never met with the verses about the earth stretching infinitely downwards (fr. 28),124 and this means that the Academy possessed no copy of such a poem, which would be very strange if it had ever existed. Simplicius was able to find the complete works of much smaller men. Nor does internal evidence lend any support to the view that Xenophanes wrote a philosophical poem. Diels refers about twenty-eight lines to it, but they would all come in quite as naturally in his attacks on Homer and Hesiod, as I have endeavoured to show. It is also significant that a number of them are derived from commentators on Homer.125 It is more probable, then, that Xenophanes expressed such scientific opinions as he had incidentally in his satires. That would be in the manner of the time, as we can see from the remains of Epicharmos.

The satires are called Silloi by late writers, and this name may go back to Xenophanes himself. It may, however, originate in the fact that Timon of Phleious, the “sillographer” (c. 259 B.C.), put much of his satire upon philosophers into the mouth of Xenophanes. Only one iambic line has been preserved, and that is immediately followed by a hexameter (fr. 14). This suggests that Xenophanes inserted iambic lines among his hexameters in the manner of the Margites.

57. The Fragments

I give the fragments according to the text and arrangement of Diels.


(1) Now is the floor clean, and the hands and cups of all; one sets twisted garlands on our heads, another hands us fragrant ointment on a salver. The mixing bowl stands ready, full of gladness, and there is more wine at hand that promises never to leave us in the lurch, soft and smelling of flowers in the jars. In the midst the frankincense sends up its holy scent, and there is cold water, sweet and clean. Brown loaves are set before us and a lordly table laden with cheese and rich honey. The altar in the midst is clustered round with flowers; song and revel fill the halls.

But first it is meet that men should hymn the god with joy, with holy tales and pure words; then after libation and prayer made that we may have strength to do right—for that is in truth the first thing to do—no sin is it to drink as much as a man can take and get home without an attendant, so he be not stricken in years. And of all men is he to be praised who after drinking gives goodly proof of himself in the trial of skill,126 as memory and strength will serve him. Let him not sing of Titans and Giants–those fictions of the men of old–nor of turbulent civil broils in which is no good thing at all; but to give heedful reverence to the gods is ever good.

(2) What if a man win victory in swiftness of foot, or in the pentathlon, at Olympia, where is the precinct of Zeus by Pisa's springs, or in wrestling,—what if by cruel boxing or that fearful sport men call pankration he become more glorious in the citizens' eyes, and win a place of honour in the sight of all at the games, his food at the public cost from the State, and a gift to be an heirloom for him,-what if he conquer in the chariot-race,—he will not deserve all this for his portion so much as I do. Far better is our art than the strength of men and of horses! These are but thoughtless judgements, nor is it fitting to set strength before goodly art.127 Even if there arise a mighty boxer among a people, or one great in the pentathlon or at wrestling, or one excelling in swiftness of foot—and that stands in honour before all tasks of men at the games—the city would be none the better governed for that. It is but little joy a city gets of it if a man conquer at the games by Pisa's banks; it is not this that makes fat the store-houses of a city.

(3) They learnt dainty and unprofitable ways from the Lydians, so long as they were free from hateful tyranny; they went to the market-place with cloaks of purple dye, not less than a thousand of them all told, vainglorious and proud of their comely tresses, reeking with fragrance from cunning salves.

(4) Nor would a man mix wine in a cup by pouring out the wine first, but water first and wine on the top of it.

(5) Thou didst send the thigh-bone of a kid and get for it the fat leg of a fatted bull, a worthy guerdon for a man to get, whose glory is to reach every part of Hellas and never to pass away, so long as Greek songs last.128

(7) And now I will turn to another tale and point the way . . . . Once they say that he (Pythagoras) was passing by when a dog was being beaten and spoke this word: “Stop! don't beat it! For it is the soul of a friend that I recognised when I heard its voice.”129

(8) There are by this time threescore years and seven that have tossed my careworn soul114 up and down the land of Hellas; and there were then five-and-twenty years from my birth, if I can say aught truly about these matters.

(9) Much weaker than an aged man.


(10) Since all at first have learnt according to Homer . . . .

(11) Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all things that are a shame and a disgrace among mortals, stealings and adulteries and deceivings of one another. R. P. 99.

(12) Since they have uttered many lawless deeds of the gods, stealings and adulteries and deceivings of one another. R. P. ib.

(14) But mortals deem that the gods are begotten as they are, and have clothes like theirs, and voice and form. R. P. 100.

(15) Yes, and if oxen and horses or lions had hands, and could paint with their hands, and produce works of art as men do, horses would paint the forms of the gods like horses, and oxen like oxen, and make their bodies in the image of their several kinds. R. P. ib.

(16) The Ethiopians make their gods black and snub-nosed; the Thracians say theirs have blue eyes and red hair. R. P. 100 b.

(18) The gods have not revealed all things to men from the beginning, but by seeking they find in time what is better. R. P 104 b.

(23) One god, the greatest among gods and men, neither in form like unto mortals nor in thought . . . . R. P. 100.

(24) He sees all over, thinks all over, and hears all over. R. P. 102.

(25) But without toil he swayeth all things by the thought of his mind. R. P. 108 b.

(26) And he abideth ever in the selfsame place, moving not at all; nor doth it befit him to go about now hither now thither. R. P. 110 a.

(27) All things come from the earth, and in earth all things end. R. P. 103 a.

(28) This limit of the earth above is seen at our feet in contact with the air;130 below it reaches down without a limit. R. P. 103.

(29) All things are earth and water that come into being and grow. R. P. 103.

(30) The sea is the source of water and the source of wind; for neither in the clouds (would there be any blasts of wind blowing forth) from within without the mighty sea, nor rivers' streams nor rain-water from the sky. The mighty sea is father of clouds and of winds and of rivers.131 R. P. 103.

(31) The sun swinging over132 the earth and warming it . . . .

(32) She that they call Iris is a cloud likewise, purple, scarlet and green to behold. R. P. 103.

(33) For we all are born of earth and water. R. P. ib.

(34) There never was nor will be a man who has certain knowledge about the gods and about all the things I speak of. Even if he should chance to say the complete truth, yet he himself knows not that it is so. But all may have their fancy.133 R. P. 104.

(35) Let these be taken as fancies134 something like the truth. R. P. 104 a.

(36) All of them135 that are visible for mortals to behold.

(37) And in some caves water drips . . . .

(38) If god had not made brown honey, men would think figs far sweeter than they do.

58. The Heavenly Bodies

Most of these fragments are not in any way philosophical and those that appear to be so are easily accounted for otherwise. The intention of one of them (fr. 32) is clear. “Iris too” is a cloud, and we may infer that the same thing had been said of the sun, moon, and stars; for the doxographers tell us that these were all explained as “clouds ignited by motion.”136 To the same context clearly belongs the explanation of the St. Elmo's fire which Aetios has preserved. “The things like stars that appear on ships,” we are told, “which some call the Dioskouroi, are little clouds made luminous by motion.”137 In the doxographers the same explanation is repeated with trifling variations under the head of moon, stars, comets, lightning, shooting stars, and so forth, which gives the appearance of a systematic cosmology.138 But the system is due to the arrangement of the work of Theophrastos, and not to Xenophanes; for it is obvious that a very few additional hexameters would amply account for the whole doxography.

What we hear of the sun presents some difficulties. We are told that it is an ignited cloud; but this is not very consistent with the statement that the evaporation of the sea from which clouds arise is due to the sun's heat. Theophrastos stated that the sun, according to Xenophanes, was a collection of sparks from the moist exhalation; but even this leaves the exhalation itself unexplained.139 That, however, matters little, if the chief aim of Xenophanes was to discredit the anthropomorphic gods, rather than to give a scientific theory of the heavenly bodies. The important thing is that Helios too is a temporary phenomenon. The sun does not go round the earth, as Anaximander taught, but straight on, and the appearance of a circular path is solely due to its increasing distance. So it is not the same sun that rises next morning, but a new one altogether; while eclipses occur because the sun “tumbles into a hole” when it comes to certain uninhabited regions of the earth. An eclipse may last a month. Besides that, there are many suns and moons, one of each for every region of the earth.140

The vigorous expression “tumbling into a hole”141 seems clearly to come from the verses of Xenophanes himself, and there are others of a similar kind, which we must suppose were quoted by Theophrastos. The stars go out in the daytime, but glow again at night “like charcoal embers.”142 The sun is of some use in producing the world and the living creatures in it, but the moon “does no work in the boat.”143 Such expressions can only be meant to make the heavenly bodies appear ridiculous, and it will therefore be well to ask whether the other supposed cosmological fragments can be interpreted on the same principle.

59. Earth and Water

In fr. 29 Xenophanes says that “all things are earth and water,” and Hippolytos has preserved the account given by Theophrastos of the context in which this occurred. It was as follows:

Xenophanes said that a mixture of the earth with the sea is taking place, and that it is being gradually dissolved by the moisture. He says that he has the following proofs of this. Shells are found in midland districts and on hills, and he says that in the quarries at Syracuse has been found the imprint of a fish and of seaweed, at Paros the form of a bayleaf in the depth of the stone, and at Malta flat impressions of all marine animals. These, he says, were produced when all things were formerly mud, and the outlines were dried in the mud. All human beings are destroyed when the earth has been carried down into the sea and turned to mud. This change takes place for all the worlds.—Hipp. Ref. i. 14 (R. P. 103 a).

This is, of course, the theory of Anaximander, and we may perhaps credit him rather than Xenophanes with the observations of fossils.144 Most remarkable of all, however, is the statement that this change applies to “all the worlds.” It seems impossible to doubt that Theophrastos attributed a belief in “innumerable worlds” to Xenophanes. As we have seen, Aetios includes him in his list of those who held this doctrine, and Diogenes ascribes it to him also,145 while Hippolytos seems to take it for granted. We shall find, however, that in another connexion he said the World or God was one. If our interpretation of him is correct, there is no great difficulty here. The point is that, so far from being “a sure seat for all things ever,” Gaia too is a passing appearance. That belongs to the attack on Hesiod, and if in this connexion Xenophanes spoke, with Anaximander, of “innumerable worlds,” while elsewhere he said that God or the World was one, that may be connected with a still better attested contradiction which we have now to examine.

60. Finite or Infinite

Aristotle tried without success to discover from the poems of Xenophanes whether he regarded the world as finite or infinite. “He made no clear pronouncement on the subject,” he tells us.146 Theophrastos, on the other hand, decided that he regarded it as spherical and finite, because he said it was “equal every way.”147 It really appears that Xenophanes did not feel the contradiction involved in calling the world “equal every way” and infinite. We have seen that he said the sun went right on to infinity, and that agrees with his view of the earth as an infinitely extended plain. He also held (fr. 28) that, while the earth has an upper limit which we see, it has no limit below. This is attested by Aristotle, who speaks of the earth being “infinitely rooted,” and adds that Empedokles criticised Xenophanes for holding this view.148 It further appears from the fragment of Empedokles quoted by Aristotle that Xenophanes said the vast Air extended infinitely upwards.149 We are therefore bound to try to find room for an infinite earth and an infinite air in a spherical finite world! That comes of trying to find science in satire. If, on the other hand, we regard these statements from the same point of view as those about the heavenly bodies, we shall see what they probably mean. The story of Ouranos and Gaia was always the chief scandal of the Theogony, and the infinite air gets rid of Ouranos altogether. As to the earth stretching infinitely downwards, that gets rid of Tartaros, which Homer described as situated at the bottommost limit of earth and sea, as far beneath Hades as heaven is above the earth.150 This is pure conjecture, of course; but, if it is even possible, we are entitled to disbelieve that it was in a cosmological poem such startling contradictions occurred.

A more subtle explanation of the difficulty commended itself to the late Peripatetic who wrote an account of the Eleatic school, part of which is still extant in the Aristotelian corpus, and is generally known now as the treatise on Melissos, Xenophanes, and Gorgias.151 He said that Xenophanes declared the world to be neither finite nor infinite, and composed a series of arguments in support of this thesis, to which he added another like it, namely, that the world is neither in motion nor at rest. This has introduced endless confusion into our sources. Alexander used this treatise as well as the work of Theophrastos, and Simplicius supposed the quotations from it to be from Theophrastos too. Having no copy of the poems he was completely baffled, and until recently all accounts of Xenophanes were vitiated by the same confusion. It may be suggested that, but for this, we should never have heard of the “philosophy of Xenophanes,” a way of speaking which is really a survival from the days before this scholastic exercise was recognised as having no authority.

61. God and the World

In the passage of the Metaphysics just referred to, Aristotle speaks of Xenophanes as “the first partisan of the One,”152 and the context shows he means to suggest he was the first of the Eleatics. We have seen already that the certain facts of his life make it very unlikely that he settled at Elea and founded a school there, and it is probable that, as usual in such cases, Aristotle is simply reproducing certain statements of Plato. At any rate, Plato had spoken of the Eleatics as the “partisans of the Whole,”153 and he had also spoken of the school as “starting with Xenophanes and even earlier.”154 The last words, however, show clearly what he meant. Just as he called the Herakleiteans “followers of Homer and still more ancient teachers,”155 so he attached the Eleatics to Xenophanes and still earlier authorities. We have seen before how these playful and ironical remarks of Plato were taken seriously by his successors, and we must not make too much of this fresh instance of Aristotelian literalness.

Aristotle goes on to tell us that Xenophanes, “referring to the whole world,156 said the One was god.” This clearly alludes to frs. 23-26, where all human attributes are denied of a god who is said to be one and “the greatest among gods and men.” It may be added that these verses gain much in point if we think of them as closely connected with frs. 11-16, instead of referring the one set of verses to the Satires and the other to a cosmological poem. It was probably in the same context that Xenophanes called the world or god “equal every way”157 and denied that it breathed.158 The statement that there is no mastership among the gods159 also goes very well with fr. 26. A god has no wants, nor is it fitting for one god to be the servant of others, like Iris and Hermes in Homer.

62. Monotheism or Polytheism

That this “god” is just the world, Aristotle tells us, and the use of the word θεός is quite in accordance with Ionian usage. Xenophanes regarded it as sentient, though without any special organs of sense, and it sways all things by the thought of its mind. He also calls it “one god,” and, if that is monotheism, then Xenophanes was a monotheist, though this is surely not how the word is generally understood. The fact is that the expression “one god” wakens all sorts of associations in our mind which did not exist for the Greeks of this time. What Xenophanes is really concerned to deny is the existence of any gods in the proper sense, and the words “One god” mean “No god but the world.”160

It is certainly wrong, then, to say with Freudenthal that Xenophanes was in any sense a polytheist.161 That he should use the language of polytheism in his elegies is only what we should expect, and the other references to “gods” can be best explained as incidental to his attack on the anthropomorphic gods of Homer and Hesiod. In one case, Freudenthal has pressed a proverbial way of speaking too hard.162 Least of all can we admit that Xenophanes allowed the existence of subordinate or departmental gods; for it was just the existence of such that he was chiefly concerned to deny. At the same time, I cannot help thinking that Freudenthal was more nearly right than Wilamowitz, who says that Xenophanes “upheld the only real monotheism that has ever existed upon earth.”163 Diels, I fancy, comes nearer the mark when he calls it a “somewhat narrow pantheism.”164 But all these views would have surprised Xenophanes himself about equally. He was really Goethe's Weltkind, with prophets to right and left of him, and he would have smiled if he had known that one day he was to be regarded as a theologian.

108. See fr. 7, below.

109. Diog. ix. 18 (R. P. 97). We know that Xenophanes referred to the prediction of an eclipse by Thales (Chap. I. p. 42, n. 1).

110. Timaios ap. Clem. Strom. i. p. 353 (R. P. 95). There is only one anecdote which actually represents Xenophanes in conversation with Hieron (Plut. Reg. apophth. 175 e), but it is natural to understand Arist. Met. Γ, 5. 1010 a 4 as an allusion to a remark made by Epicharmos to him. Aristotle's anecdotes about Xenophanes probably come from the romance of which Xenophon's Hieron is also an echo.

111. Clem. loc. cit. The mention of Cyrus is confirmed by Hipp. Ref. i. 94. Diels thinks Dareios was mentioned first for metrical reasons; but no one has satisfactorily explained why Cyrus should be mentioned at all, unless the early date was intended. On the whole subject, see Jacoby, pp. 204 sqq., who is certainly wrong in supposing that ἄχρι τῶν Δαρείου καὶ Κύρου χρόνων can mean “during the times of Dareios and Cyrus.”

112. Rh. Mus. xxxi. p. 22. He adopts the suggestion of Ritter to read πεντηκόστην for τεσσαρακόστην in Clem. loc. cit. (N for M). But Apollodoros gave Athenian archons, not Olympiads.

113. As Elea was founded by the Phokaians six years after they left Phokaia (Herod. i. 164 sqq.) its date is just 540-39 B.C. Cf. the way in which Apollodoros dated Empedokles by the era of Thourioi (§ 98).

114. Bergk (Litteraturgesch. ii. p. 418, n. 23) took φροντίς here to mean the literary work of Xenophanes, but it is surely an anachronism to suppose that at this date it could be used like the Latin cura.

115. It was certainly another poem ; for it is in hexameters, while the preceding fragment is in elegiacs.

116. Xenophanes, fr. 7 ; Herakleitos, frs. 16, 17.

117. Diog. ix. 21 (R. P. 96 a).

118. Diog. ix. 18 (R. P. 96). The use of the old name Zankle, instead of the later Messene, points to an early source for this statement—probably the elegies of Xenophanes himself.

119. Diog. ix. 18 (R. P. 97) says αὐτὸς ἐρραψῴδει τὰ ἑαυτοῦ, which is a very different thing. Nothing is said anywhere of his reciting Homer. Gomperz's imaginative picture (Greek Thinkers, vol. i. p. 155) has no further support than this single word.

120. Diog. ix. 20 (R. P. 97) says he wrote a poem in 2000 hexameters on the colonisation of Elea. Even if true, this would not prove he lived there; for the foundation of Elea would be a subject of interest to all the Ionian émigrés. Moreover, the statement is very suspicious. The stichometric notices of the Seven Wise Men, Epimenides, etc., in Diogenes come from the forger Lobon, and this seems to be from the same source.

121. The only passage which brings him into connexion with Elea is Aristotle's anecdote about the answer he gave the Eleates when they asked him whether they should sacrifice to Leukothea. “If you think her a goddess,” he said, “do not lament her; if you do not, do not sacrifice to her” (Rhet. B, 26. 1400 b 5 ; R.P. 98 a). Even this does not necessarily imply that he settled at Elea, and in any case such anecdotes are really anonymous. Plutarch tells the story more than once, but he makes it a remark of Xenophanes to the Egyptians (Diels, Vors. II A 13), while others tell it of Herakleitos.

122. Diog. ix. 18 (R. P. 97) The word ἐπικόπτων is a reminiscence of Timon fr. 60 (Diels), Ξεινοφάνης ὑπάτυφος Ὁμηραπάτης ἐπικόπτης

123. The oldest reference to a poem Περὶ φύσεως is in the Geneva scholium on Il. xxi. 196 (quoting fr. 30), and this goes back to Krates of Mallos. We must remember that such titles are of later date, and Xenophanes had been given a place among philosophers long before the time of Krates. All we can say, therefore, is that the Pergamene librarians gave the title Περὶ φύσεως to some poem of Xenophanes.

124. Simpl. De caelo, p. 522, 7 (R. P. 97 b). It is true that two of our fragments (25 and 26) are preserved by Simplicius, but he got them from Alexander. Probably they were quoted by Theophrastos; for it is plain that Alexander had no first-hand knowledge of Xenophanes, or he would not have been taken in by M.X.G. (See p. 126.)

125. Three fragments (27, 31, 33) come from the Homeric Allegories, two (30, 32) are from Homeric scholia.

126. So I understand ἀμφ' ἀρετῆς. The τόνος is “strength of lungs.” The next verses are directed against Hesiod and Alkaios (Diels).

127. At this date “art” is the natural translation of σοφίη in such a writer as Xenophanes.

128. Diels suggests that this is an attack on a poet like Simonides, whose greed was proverbial.

129. The name of Pythagoras does not occur in the lines that have been preserved; but the source of Diogenes viii. 36 must have had the complete elegy before him; for he said the verses occurred ἐν ἐλεγείᾳ, ἧς ἀρχὴ Νῦν αὖτ' ἄλλον ἔπειμι λόγον κτλ..

130. Reading ἠέρι for καὶ ῥεῖ with Diels.

131. This fragment has been recovered from the Geneva scholia on Homer (see Arch. iv. p. 652). The words in brackets are added by Diels.

132. The word is ὑπεριέμενος. This is quoted from the Allegories as an explanation of the name Hyperion, and doubtless Xenophanes so meant it.

133. It is more natural to take πᾶσι as masculine than as neuter, and ἐπὶ πᾶσι can mean “in the power of all.”

134. Reading δεδοξάσθω with Wilamowitz.

135. As Diels suggests, this probably refers to the stars, which Xenophanes held to be clouds.

136. Cf. Diels ad loc. (P. Ph. Fr. p. 44), “ut Sol et cetera astra, quae cum in nebulas evanescerent, deorum simul opinio casura erat.”

137. Aet. ii. 18, I (Dox. p. 347), Ξενοφάνης τοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων φαινομένους οἷον ἀστέρας, οὓς καὶ Διοσκούρους καλοῦσί τινες, νεφέλια εἶναι κατὰ τὴν ποιὰν κίνησιν παραλάμποντα.

138. The passages from Aetios are collected in Diels, Vors. 11 A 38 sqq.

139. Aet. ii. 20, 3 (Dox. p. 348), Ξενοφάνης ἐκ νεφῶν πεπυρωμένων εἶναι τὸν ἥλιον. Θεόφραστος ἐν τοῖς Φυσικοῖς γέγραφεν ἐκ πυριδίων μὲν τῶν συναθροιζομένων ἐκ τῆς ὑγρᾶς ἀναθυμιάσεως, συναθροιζόντων δὲ τὸν ἥλιον. It seems likely from these words that Theophrastos pointed out the contradiction, as his manner was.

140. Aet. ii. 24, 9 (Dox. p. 355). πολλοὺς εἶναι ἡλίους καὶ σελήνας κατὰ κλίματα τῆς γῆς καὶ ἀποτομὰς καὶ ζώνας, κατὰ δέ τινα καιρὸν ἐμπίπτειν τὸν δίσκον εἴς τινα ἀποτομὴν τῆς γῆς οὐκ οἰκουμένην ὑφ' ἡμῶν καὶ οὕτως ὥσπερ κενεμβατοῦντα ἔκλειψιν ὑποφαίνειν· ὁ δ' αὐτὸς τὸν ἥλιον εἰς ἄπειρον μὲν προιέναι, δοκεῖν δὲ κυκλεῖσθαι διὰ τὴν ἀπόστασιν.

141. That this is the meaning of κενεμβατέω appears sufficiently from the passages referred to in Liddell and Scott, and it describes a total eclipse very well.

142. Aet. ii. 13, 14 (Dox. p. 343), ἀναζωπυρεῖν νύκτωρ καθάπερ τοὺς ἄνθρακας.

143. Aet. ii. 30, 8 (Dox. p. 362), τὸν μὲν ἥλιον χρήσιμον εἶναι πρὸς τὴν τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ ζῴων γένεσίν τε καὶ διοίκησιν, τὴν δὲ σελήνην παρέλκειν. The verb παρέλκειν means “to cork.” (Cf. Aristophanes, Pax, 1306). In Hellenistic Greek the metaphor is no longer felt, and παρέλκει means “is redundant,” “is superfluous.”

144. There is an interesting note on these in Gomperz's Greek Thinkers (Eng. trans. i. p. 551). I have translated his conjecture φυκῶν instead of the MS. φωκῶν, as this is said to involve a palaeontological impossibility, and impressions of fucoids are found, not indeed in the quarries of Syracuse, but near them. It is said also that there are no marine fossils in Paros, so the MS. reading δάφνης need not be changed to ἀφύης with Gronovius. The fact that the fossil was in the depth of the stone seemed to show that Parian marble was once mud. It was no doubt imaginary.

145. Aet. ii. 1, 2 (Dox. p. 327); Diog. ix. 19 (R. P. 103 c). It is true that this passage of Diogenes comes from the biographical compendium (Dox. p. 168); but it is difficult to doubt the Theophrastean origin of a statement found in Aetios, Hippolytos, and Diogenes.

146. Arist. Met. A, 5. 986 b 23 (R. P. 101). οὐδὲν διεσαφήνισεν

147. This is given as an inference by Simpl. Phys. p. 23, 18 (R. P. 108 b), διὰ τὸ πανταχόθεν ὅμοιον. It does not merely come from M.X.G. (R. P. 108), πάντῃ δ' ὅμοιον ὄντα σφαιροειδῆ εἶναι. Hippolytos has it too (Ref. i. 14; R. P. 102 a), so it goes back to Theophrastos. Timon of Phleious understood Xenophanes in the same way; for he makes him call the One ἴσον ἁπάντῃ (fr. 60, Diels; R. P. 102 a).

148. Arist. De caelo, B, 13. 294 a 21 (R. P. 103 b).

149. I take δαψιλός as an attribute and ἀπείρονα as predicate to both subjects.

150. Il. viii.13-16, 478-481, especially the words οὐδ' εἴ κε τὰ νείατα πείραθ' ἵκηαι | γαίης καὶ πόντοιο κτλ. Iliad viii. must have seemed a particularly bad book to Xenophanes.

151. In Bekker's edition this treatise bears the title Περὶ Ξενοφάνους, περὶ Ζήνωνος, περὶ Γοργίου, but the best MS. gives as the titles of its three sections: (1) Περὶ Ζήνωνος, (2) Περὶ Ξενοφάνους, (3) Περὶ Γοργίου. The first section, however, plainly refers to Melissos, so the whole treatise is now entitled De Melisso, Xenophane, Gorgia (M.X.G.). It has been edited by Apelt in the Teubner Series, and more recently by Diels (Abh. der k. Preuss. Akad. 1900), who has also given the section dealing with Xenophanes in Vors. II A 28. He has now withdrawn the view maintained in Dox. p. 108 that the work belongs to the third century B.C., and holds that it was a Peripatetico eclectico (i.e. sceptica, platonica, stoica admiscente) circa Christi natalem conscriptum. The writer would have no first-hand knowledge of his poems, and the order in which the philosophers are discussed is that of the passage in the Metaphysics which suggested the whole thing. It is possible that a section on Parmenides preceded what we now have.

152. Met. A, 5. 986 b 21 (R. P. 101), πρῶτος τούτων ἑνίσας. The verb ἑνίζειν occurs nowhere else, but is plainly formed on the analogy of μηδίζειν, φιλιππίζειν and the like.

153. Theaet. 181 a 6, τοῦ ὅλου στασιῶται. The noun στασιώτης has no other meaning than “partisan,” and the context shows that this is what it means here. The derivation στασιώτας .. . ἀπὸ τῆς στάσεως appears first in Sext. Math. x. 46, where the term στασιῶται is incorrectly ascribed to Aristotle and supposed to mean those who made the universe stationary, an impossible interpretation.

154. Soph. 242 d 5 (R. P. 101 b). If the passage implies that Xenophanes settled at Elea, it equally implies this of his imaginary predecessors. But Elea was not founded till Xenophanes was in the prime of life.

155. Theaet. 179 a 3, τῶν Ἡρακλειτείων ἤ, ὥσπερ σὺ λέγεις, Ὁμηρείων καὶ ἔτι παλαιοτέρων. Here Homer stands to the Herakleiteans in just the same relation as Xenophanes does to the Eleatics in the Sophist. In just the same spirit, Epicharmos, the contemporary of Xenophanes, is mentioned, along with Homer, as a predecessor of the ῥέοντες (Theaet. 152 e).

156. Met. 986 b 24. The words cannot mean “gazing up at the whole heavens,” or anything of that sort. They are taken as I take them by Bonitz (im Hinblicke auf den ganzen Himmel) and Zeller (im Hinblick auf das Weltganze). The word ἀποβλέπειν had become too colourless to mean more, and οὐρανός means what was later called κόσμος.

157. See above, p. 125, n. 1.

158. Diog. ix. 19 (R. P. 103 c), ὅλον δ' ὁρᾶν καὶ ὅλον ἀκούειν, μὴ μέντοι ἀναπνεῖν. See above, p. 108, n. 2.

159. [Plut.] Strom. fr. 4, ἀποφαίνεται δὲ καὶ περὶ θεῶν ὡς οὐδεμιᾶς ἡγεμονίας ἐν αὐτοῖς οὔσης· οὐ γὰρ ὅσιον δεσπόζεσθαί τινα τῶν θεῶν, ἐπιδεῖσθαί τε μηδενὸς αὐτῶν μηδένα μηδ' ὅλως, ἀκούειν δὲ καὶ ὁρᾶν καθόλου καὶ μὴ κατὰ μέρος.

160. The fact that he speaks of the world as living and sentient makes no difference. No Greek ever doubted that the world was in some sense a ζῷων.

161. Freudenthal, Die Theologie des Xenophanes (Breslau, 1886).

162. Xenophanes calls his god “greatest among gods and men,” but this is simply a case of “polar expression,” to which parallels will be found in Wilamowitz's note to Euripides' Herakles, v. 1106 Cf. especially the statement of Herakleitos (fr. 20) that “no one of gods or men” made the world.

163. Griechische Literatur, p. 38.

164. Parmenides Lehrgedicht, p. 9.

text/xenophanes_fragments.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/15 12:01 (external edit)