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Παρμενίδης). A Greek philosopher and poet, born of an illustrious family about B.C. 510, at Elea in Lower Italy. He was held in high esteem by his fellow-citizens on account of his excellent legislation, to which they ascribed the prosperity and wealth of the town; and also on account of his exemplary life. A “Parmenidean life” was proverbial among the Greeks (Cebes, Tabula, 2). Little more is known of his biography than that he stopped at Athens on a journey in his sixty-fifth year, and there became acquainted with the youthful Socrates. He is the chief representative of the Eleatic philosophy. Like his great teacher, Xenophanes, he also formulated his philosophical views in a didactic poem, On Nature (Περὶ Φύσεως), the form of which was considered inartistic (Acad. ii. 74). According to the proëm, which has been preserved (while we only possess fragments of the rest), the work consisted of two divisions. The first treated of the truth, the second of the world of illusion; that is, the world of the senses and the erroneous opinions of mankind founded upon them. In his opinion truth lies in the perception that existence is, and error in the idea that non-existence also can be. Nothing can have real existence but what is conceivable; therefore to be imagined and to be able to exist are the same thing, and there is no development; the essence of what is conceivable is incapable of development, imperishable, immutable, unbounded, and indivisible; what is various and mutable, all development, is a delusive phantom; perception is thought directed to the pure essence of being; the phenomenal world is a delusion, and the opinions formed concerning it can only be improbable. The best edition of the fragments is that in Karsten's Philosophorum Graecorum Reliquiae (Amsterdam, 1835). They have been rendered into English hexameter by T. Davidson (Journal of Speculative Philosophy, St. Louis, 1870), and paraphrased in prose by Courtney in his Studies in Philosophy (1882). See Philosophia.

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