previous next

Xenophănes

Ξενοφάνης). The founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy was a native of Colophon, and born about B.C. 556. Xenophanes early left his own country and took refuge in Sicily, where he supported himself by reciting, at the court of Hiero, elegiac and iambic verses, which he had written in criticism of the Theogonies of Hesiod and Homer. From Sicily he passed over into Magna Graecia, where he took up the profession of philosophy, and became a celebrated preceptor in the Pythagorean school. Indulging, however, a greater freedom of thought than was usual among the disciples of Pythagoras, he ventured to introduce new opinions of his own, and in many particulars to oppose the doctrines of Epimenides, Thales, and Pythagoras. He held the Pythagorean chair of philosophy for about seventy years, and lived to the extreme age of a hundred. In metaphysics, Xenophanes taught that if there had ever been a time when nothing existed, nothing could ever have existed; that whatever is, always has been from eternity, without deriving its existence from any prior principles; that nature is one and without limit; that what is one is similar in all its parts, else it would be many; that the one infinite, eternal, and homogeneous universe is immutable and incapable of change; that God is one incorporeal eternal being, and, like the universe, spherical in form; that he is of the same nature with the universe, comprehending all things within himself; is intelligent, and pervades all things, but bears no resemblance to human nature either in body or mind. See V. Cousin, Xénophane, Fondateur de l'École d'Élée, in his Nouveaux Fragments Philos. (Paris, 1828); Bergk, Commentatio de Arist. Libello de Xenophane, Zenone, et Gorgia (Marburg, 1843); Reinhold, De Genuina Xenophanis Disciplina (Jena, 1847); Kern, Quaestionum Xenophanearum Capita Duo (Naumburg, 1864); Rüffer, De Philosoph. Xenophanis Coloph. Parte Morali (Leipzig, 1868); and Ueberweg's Hist. of Philos. i. pp. 49-54 (Eng. trans. N. Y. 1872). The fragments of his writings are collected in Karsten's Philosophorum Graecorum Veterum Operum Reliquiae, vol. i. (Amsterdam, 1835), and in Schneidewin's Elegiaci Graeci (1838).

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: