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“Xenophanes was the son of Dexius, or according to Apollodorus, of Orthomenes, and was of Colophon. He is mentioned by Timon, who says: “Xenophanes, the faintly-modest trouncer that hath trod Old Homer underfoot and lo! forged an inhuman God, Round, motionless, sans hurt or harm, more brainy than the brain . . .1

” Banished from his birthplace <he lived> at Zancle in Sicily, <took part in the settlement of Elea by a colony from that city, and taught there;> but he also taught at Catana. He was no man's pupil according to some writers, according to others a pupil of Boton of Athens,2 according to others again, of Archelaus. Sotion makes him contemporary with Anaximander.3 Of his works some are in the epic metre, and some are elegies and iambi attacking Hesiod and Homer and denouncing what they say about the Gods. He used moreover to give public recitations of his poems. He is said to have opposed the views of Thales and Pythagoras and even assailed Epimenides.4 He lived to a very great age, as indeed he says himself (fr. 7).5

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers

“The famous Colophonians are these: Mimnermus ..., and the physical philosopher Xenophanes, who wrote the Lampoons in verse.6Strabo Geography
“According to the 3rd Book of Aristotle's Poetics , Socrates was attacked by Antilochus of Lemnos ... just as Homer in his lifetime by Syagrus and after his death by Xenophanes of Colophon; so too Hesiod in his lifetime by Cercops, and after his death by the same Xenophanes.” Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers
“We did not despair of philosophy and give it up for lost because philosophers, instead of putting forth what they have to teach or tell in verse, like Orpheus, Hesiod, Parmenides, Xenophanes, Empedocles, and Thales, came later to abandon the use of metre, and still —with one exception, yourself —avoid it.7Plutarch The Oracles of the Delphian Priestess
“When some one told Xenophanes that he had seen eels alive in hot water, he said ‘If so, we shall be able to boil them in cold.’” Plutarch Common Notions against the Stoics
“Again, suppose a fellow-guest invite you to dice with him over the wine, be not put out of countenance for fear of the gibes of the company, but like Xenophanes when Lasus of Hermiona called him a coward for refusing a like invitation, confess yourself a craven and a coward indeed when it comes to doing ill.” Plutarch Bashfulness
“Eleatic Stranger. Our own Eleatics, from Xenophanes' day and even earlier, have told their tales on the assumption that what we call all is one.8Plato The Sophist
“Compare Xenophanes' remark that it is just as impious to say that the Gods were born as to say that they died, either statement implying their non-existence at some time or other.” Aristotle Rhetoric

Aristotle Rhetoric

“Compare what Xenophanes replied to his fellow-citizens of Elea when they asked him whether or no they should make sacrifice and sing dirges for Leucothea, ‘If you believe her immortal sing no dirges, if mortal make no sacrifice.’9

Aristotle Rhetoric

“According to Xenophanes the volcano in Lipara was inactive once for sixteen years and then broke out again.” Aristotle On Wonders [lava-streams]
“Xenophanes maintains that the moon is inhabited and that it is a land of many cities and mountains.” Cicero Prior Academics
“You think Empedocles mad, but to me his sound is full worthy of his sense. . . . Parmenides and Xenophanes, though their verse is not so good, use it like angry men to chide what they believe to be the arrogance of those who have the face to say they know when nothing can be known.” Cicero Prior Academics
“You Xenophaneses, Diagorases, Hippons, Epicuruses, and the rest of that God-forsaken catalogue, I bid you all go hang!” Aelian
“Xenophanes, son of Dexinous and a pupil of Archelaus the physical philosopher, lived to be ninety-one.10Lucian Longevity:
“Heracleitus was the most lofty-minded of men and haughty too, witness the book in which he says ‘Much learning teacheth not understanding, or it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, or again Xenophanes and Hecataeus,’ for wisdom was one thing, namely to understand thought, which guided all things everywhere.” Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers
“Xenophanes declares that there are four elements, and worlds innumerable but not contiguous.11 Clouds are made when the vapour from the sun is carried upwards and lifts them into ‘that which encompasses.’ The substance of God is spherical, in no way resembling man. He is all eye and all ear, but does not breathe. He is the totality of mind and thought, and is eternal. Xenophanes was the first to declare that everything which comes into existence is destructible, and that the soul is breath.12Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers

“Xenophanes wrote a poem too, called The Founding of Colophon , and another called The Colonising of Elea in Italy , 2000 lines in all. He flourished in the 60th Olympiad (540-37 B.C.).13 According to Demetrius of Phaleron in his Old Age and Panaetius the Stoic in his Cheerfulness , he buried his sons with his own hands, like Anaxagoras. He seems to have been sold into slavery by ... <and set free by> the Pythagoreans Parmeniscus and Orestades, if we may believe Favorinus in the 1st Book of his Memorials .

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers

See also Suid. Ξενοφάνης , Plut. Reg. Apoph. Hiero 4, Vit. Hom. 2. 93, Gal. Hist. 3, Str. 12. 550, Philo Prov. 2. 39, Ath. 14. 632 d ( quoted p. 226), Sext. Emp. Math. i. 257, Clem. Al. Str. 353 (301 e), Theol. Arith. 40 Ast.

Elegiac Poems

14Since, then, I see your banquet, as Xenophanes of Colophon says, ‘full of all kinds of pleasure.’15

For now the floor is clean, and the hands of every guest, and the cups; one lad puts woven wreaths about our heads, another brings round a jug of fragrant perfume; the mixing-bowl stands full of good cheer, and other wine, which vows it will never play false,16 is ready in the jar, mild to the taste and sweet to smell. In the midst frankincense gives forth its sacred odour and water stands cool and sweet and clear. Before us lie yellow loaves and a noble trayful of cheese and rich honey. The altar between is decked all about with flowers, and the house is filled with song17 and feasting. Now first must merry men hymn the God in holy story and pure word; then when they have made libation and prayed for power to do what is right —and that is their first duty 18— there's no wrong in drinking just so much as will bring any but the very aged home without a servant. And I praise the man who when he hath drunken showeth that he hath a good memory, and hath striven well in pursuit of virtue; he marshals not battles of Titans nor of Giants nor yet of Centaurs, fables19 of them of old, nay nor of vehement discords;20 these things are of no worth; what is good, is ever to have respect unto the Gods.21

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“There is nothing surprising in the gluttony of these men. All competitors in the Games are taught to eat heavily as well as to practise; and that is why Euripides says in his first Autolycus 22 ‘Of all the evil things that Greece is heir to| There's none so great as he that strives in games’ etc. —sentiments which are taken from the Elegiacs of Xenophanes of Colophon, who says:

But if 't were in swiftness of foot that a man should win the day, in the close of Zeus by Pisa's stream at Olympia, or if 't were in the five-events or the wrestling, or if he should hold his own in the painful boxing-bout, or the dire contest that they call Pancratium —whatever it were, he would be more honoured of the eyes of his fellow-townsmen; he would win the prominent right of sitting at the front in the games and contests, there would be food for him from the city's store and a gift to make him an heirloom. Or if again his victory were with horses, then too all this would fall to him —yet it would not be deserved as 't would be were it mine, for the poet's skill is better than the strength of men and horses. 'Tis very unconsidered, the custom of man in this matter; it is not right that strength should be judged worthier than most holy23 skill. For not though a city had a good boxer, nor a five-event-man, nor a good wrestler, nor yet a good runner —which of all the deeds of man's strength hath the greatest honour in the Games —never for that would she be the better ordered; and but little is the joy a town would get in a man's victory beside the banks of Pisa, for a city's treasure-houses are not fattened so.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“According to Phylarchus, the Colophonians, who, originally a people of rough and uncouth manners, ran on the rocks of luxury when they became the friends and allies of the Lydians, walked abroad with their hair adorned with an ornament of gold, in the words of Xenophanes:

But they learnt useless luxuries of the Lydians while they were free of hateful despotism, and went into the marketplace clad in all-purple robes, went not less than a thousand in all,24 proudly rejoicing in gold-adorned25 hair and bedewing their odour with studied anointings;

and so demoralised were they by untimely drunkenness that some of them never saw sun rise or set.26

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“It was the custom to pour water into the cup first and then wine; compare Xenophanes:

Nor would a man pour wine first into the cup when he mingled it, but water and thereafter the liquor.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“They use the forms κωλῆνα and κωλῆν , ‘hindquarter’ ... compare Aristophanes in the second Plutus (1. 1128): ‘Alas for the hindquarter I ate ...' and Xenophanes of Colophon in the Elegiacs :

Though you gave but the hindquarter of a kid, you received the rich leg of a fat bull,27 a precious thing to fall to a man's lot, a gift whose fame will spread throughout Greece nor ever die so long as the Grecian sort of song shall be.28

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

29To the inconsistency of his ways we have additional testimony in Xenophanes, who in the Elegy which begins:

And now I will pass to another tale, and show another way;

tells us this of him:

And 'tis said that one day as he was passing by when they beat a dog, he took pity on him and said ‘Stop! beat him not, for verily ‘tis the soul of a friend whose voice I know when I hear it.’

So far Xenophanes.

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers [Pythagoras]

30He lived to a very great age, as indeed he himself tells us:

Seven and sixty years have now been wafting my meditations31 about the land of Greece, and ere that there were five-and-twenty years from my birth, if I know how to tell the truth in these things.32

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers [Xenophanes]
33 γῆρας ‘old age’: The participle γηρείς ‘aged’ ... genitive γηρέντος like τιθέντος ; compare Xenophanes:

far feebler than an aged man

Old Etymologicum Magnum
“Whether the first to strike a coinage was Pheidon of Argos ..., or the Lydians, as Xenophanes declares.” Pollux Onomasticon


343536 The poets however often give these forms (third persons plural of the perfect active) the short α ; compare Xenophanes:

Since all have learnt in Homer in the beginning37

and again: (fr. 36).

Herodian On ‘Doubtful’ Syllables

“Hence Xenophanes' refutation of Homer and Hesiod:

Homer and Hesiod have ascribed unto the Gods all that is reproach and blame in the world of men, stealing and adultery and deceit.38

Sextus Empiricus Against the Mathematicians
“Compare Xenophanes of Colophon, speaking of Homer and Hesiod:

who spake of manifold wickednesses of the Gods, stealing and adultery and deceit.

Sextus Empiricus Against the Mathematicians
“Some make Homer senior to Hesiod, for instance Philochorus and Xenophanes, others junior.” Aulus Gellius Attic Nights

39And again:—

But mortals seem to have begotten Gods to have their own garb and voice and form.40

And again:

Now if horses or oxen lions had hands or power to paint and make the works of art that men make, then would horses give their Gods horse-like forms in painting or sculpture, and oxen ox-like forms, even each after its own kind.


Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies

41The Greeks give their Gods human passions as well as human shape; and even as each race of men depict their forms like their own —in the words of Xenophanes:

The Aethiop saith that his Gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracian that his have blue eyes and red hair —

even so they represent their souls and imagine them possessed by the same emotions.

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies

“ Bacchus was the name given not only to Dionysus but to all the participators in his rites, and even to the branches carried by the votaries. Compare Xenophanes in the Lampoons :

Bacchi of pine stand all around the firm-built house.

Scholiast on Aristophanes
42Xenophanes: —

The Gods vouchsafed not unto man knowledge of all things from the beginning, but he seeketh and in course of time inventeth what is better.

Stobaeus Physical Selections [on the nature of Time and its parts, and of how much it is the cause]
“According to some writers Thales was the first to study astronomy and to foretell the eclipses of the sun and fix the solstices. ... Which is the reason why he is so wonderful to Xenophanes and Herodotus.” Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers
“Returning home, Epimenides shortly after passed away, at the age, according to Phlegon, of a hundred and fifty-seven ... Xenophanes of Colophon, speaking as he says from hearsay, makes it a hundred and fifty-four.” Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers
“Simonides was accused of miserliness ... Aristophanes very wittily ridicules them both in the same sentence ...43 and records that he was niggardly; hence Xenophanes calls him a


Scholiast on Aristophanes [‘Sophocles is changing into Simonides’]
“... and in Xenophanes in the 4th Book of the Lampoons :

Then would a young man come to desire a young serving-maid.

Herodian On Peculiarities

“The form


or Eryx is found in the 5th Book of Xenophanes' Lampoons.

Scholiast on Homer

“Compare Xenophanes of Colophon in the Parodies :44

Such things should be said beside the fire in winter-time when a man reclines full-fed on a soft couch drinking the sweet wine and munching chick-pease, —such things as Who and whence art thou?45 and how old art thou, good sir? of what age wast thou when the Mede46 came?

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner [on chick-pease]

On Nature

47Well says Xenophanes of Colophon when he teaches that God is one, and without body:

There's one God greatest among Gods and men, who is like to mortals neither in form nor mind.48

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies
49For if the divine exists it is a living thing, and if it is a living thing it sees with all of itself:

is all eye, all mind, all ear.

Sextus Empiricus Against the Mathematicians
“And Xenophanes declares that it perceives everything, in these words:

but without toil it perceiveth and agitateth all things with its mind.

Simplicius on Aristotle Physics [on the All]

“So that when Xenophanes says that the All stays in the same place and does not move —

It ever abideth in one place and never moveth, nor doth it beseem it to go now this way and now that;

—he does not mean, etc.

Simplicius on Aristotle Physics [on the All]

50Xenophanes declares that everything comes of earth, for this is what he himself says:

For all things come of earth and in earth all things end.

Aetius in Theodoret On Matter and the Universe
“Xenophanes does not believe that the earth is suspended in space, but holds that it extends downwards to infinity:

This end of the earth we see above at our feet where it approacheth the air; the lower goeth to the unending.

Achilles Introduction to Aratus Phaenomena
51Porphyrius however declares that Xenophanes held that dryness and witness, by which I mean earth and water, were ‘elements’ or first principles, and quotes this line of his to prove it:

Whatever becomes and grows, it is all earth and water.

Philoponus on Aristotle Physics
52Xenophanes in the poem On Nature :

The sea is the source of water and the source of wind; for without the great ocean there would be no wind nor flowing rivers nor the rainwater of the sky; may the great ocean is the father of clouds and winds and rivers.

Scholiast on the Iliad [from Crates of Mallus]
“We must consider the sun as Hyperion , that is ‘who ever goeth over’ the earth, as I think is said by Xenophanes of Colophon:

and the Sun that goeth over and warmeth the earth

Heracleitus Homeric Allegories
“[‘snakes . . . like rainbows’]: in curve or colour; compare Xenophanes:

She whom they call Iris,53 she too54 is a cloud, purple and red and yellow to view.

Scholiast on the Iliad
55According to some writers Xenophanes of Colophon appears to agree with Homer, for he says:

We all came from earth and water.

Sextus Empiricus Against the Mathematicians

56Thus the Pythagoreans; Xenophanes, according to those who interpret him so differently when he says:

And in truth no man hath been or ever will be that knoweth about the Gods and all that I speak of; for even though he chance to say the fullest truth, yet he knoweth it not in himself; there's fancy in all things;57

seems to abolish, not perhaps all ‘apprehension,’ but science and infallibility, etc.

Sextus Empiricus Against the Mathematicians

“Ammonius here quoted, as was his wont, the words of Xenophanes:

Let this now be held as resembling the truth.

Plutarch Dinner-table Problems:
58And again:

as many as have ever appeared to the sight of men59

Herodian On ‘Doubtful’ Syllables [after fr. 10]
“And Xenophanes says:

In certain caverns pure water drips; for the singular σπέας does not occur.

Herodian On Peculiarities
60No comparative in -ων has υ in the penultimate syllable; the form γλύσσων ‘sweeter,’ therefore, used by Xenophanes, is remarkable:

Had not God made honey yellow,61 they had said that figs were far sweeter.

Herodian On ‘Doubtful’ Syllables [after fr. 10]

“Mulberries: —These are called μόρα by Aeschylus, who gives the name of συκάμινα to the wild variety, the fruit of the bramble. They might also perhaps be called κεράσια , for we find the tree κερασός


in Xenophanes On Nature.62

Pollux Onomasticon



Ionic for βάτραχος ..; compare Xenophanes.

Old Etymologicum Magnum:

“[rule of the nouns in -ρος ; σιρός , ‘silo’ or pit for storing corn]: One of the ‘Sillographers’ or writers of lampoons writes the first syllable long, maybe lengthening it, methinks because of the ρ . The Sillographers are Xenophanes, Timon, and some others.” Tzetzes on Dionysius Periegetes

βληστρισμός — a tossing or throwing about ... compare Xenophanes of Colophon:

But as for me I went tossing myself from city to city;

ἐβλήστριζον for ἐρριπταζόμην. 63

Erotian Glossary to Hippocrates

“And Xenophanes aptly says:

This challenge to an oath from impious to pious is not fair;

but as though a strong man should beat a weak or challenge him to a beating.

Aristotle Rhetoric [on oaths]

1 the last 2 ll. occur only in Sext. Emp. Hypot. i. 224; in line 1 Diog. has the accus.

2 Diog. or his authority, perh. by a slip, seems to confuse Xenophanes with Xenophon

3 611-546 B.C

4 cf. Plut. Comm. Hes. 19, Procl. ad Hes. Op. 284, Sch. Il. 2. 212

5 cf. Ath. quoted on p. 168

6 cf. Apul. Fl. 4, Tz. ad Dion. Per. 940

7 cf. Diog. L. 9.22

8 cf. Cic. Acad. 2. 118

9 cf. Plut. Superst. 13, Amat. 18, Is. et Os. 70, Apophth. Lac. 26

10 cf. Censor. 15. 3

11 or overlapping

12 the translation closely follows R. D. Hicks

13 Jerome gives 532, Euseb. 550 and 544 (Arm. version 540); Apollod. ap. Clem. Al. Str. i. 353 puts his birth as early as Ol. 40 (620-17 B.C.), cf. Sext. Emp. Math. i. 257

14 cf. Eust. 1633. 53 (ll. 4-8)

15 these words are prob. an adaptation of part of the couplet preceding the citation

16 i.e. run short (H. Williams cf. Hdt. 8. 52, 7. 187)

17 prob. includes dancing, as sometimes in the Iliad , e.g. 7. 241

18 perh. corrupt

19 or emending the Gk. vapourings

20 ref. to Hesiod and Alcaeus (Diels)

21 cf. Eust. 1299. 22

22 fr. 282 N

23 reading doubtful

24 apparently, after expelling the Lydians, the free citizens fixed their number at a thousand; Diels compares Heracl. Πολ. ii. 6 ( Κυμαίων: χιλίοις παρέδωκε τὴν πολιτείαν ; ‘went into the marketplace clad in’ simply means ‘began going about in,’ as we should say; cf. Arist. Pol. 1290 b. 15

25 or keeping the Gk. comely

26 his sentence seems to be largely a paraphrase of Xen.

27 metaphorical; the gift was prob. a poem or book of poems by the author

28 this may be addressed to Simonides (so Diels, who compares Sch. Ar. Pac. 697)

29 cf. A.P. 7. 120 (II. 1-4), Suid. Ξενοφάνης (1-3) and στυφελίζαι

30 cf. Apost. 8.42 r and fr. 42 below

31 i.e. his philosophic poetry

32 this is thought to mean (Diels) that he left Ionia owing to its conquest by Harpagus (c. 545 B.C., which would make the date of this poem c. 478 and his age 92)

33 cf. Cram. A.O. 4. 339

34 cf. p. 205 n. 2

35 the numeration of the remaining fragments (not given by B) is that of Diels Vors. i. 59 ff.

36 cf. Ibid. καθ. προσῳδ. Gr. Gr. 535. 30

37 Diels continues ‘that the Gods are wicked,’ cf. fr. 11

38 cf. Diog. L. 2. 46

39 cf. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 13. 13. 36, Theodoret Graec. Aff. Cur. 3. 72

40 for metre cf. fr. 42, the Margites , Hor. Epod. 16, and Diog. L. 9. 18 (Crus.)

41 cf.Theodoret Gr. Aff. C. 3. 73

42 cf. Stob. Fl. 29. 41

43 the gap contains in the mss the words ‘ b (2nd Book?) of the iambic poet,’ apparently the remains of some reference to Semonides (often called Simonides) of Amorgos, to whom however the sequel can hardly refer

44 perh. the original title of the Lampoons

45 from Homer

46 Harpagus to conquer Ionia in 545 B.C., cf. fr. 7

47 cf. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 13. 13. 36

48 Diels points out that the ref. here is to the heavens, comparing Arist. Met. 986 b. 18

49 cf. Diog. L. 9. 19 (quoted p. 188)

50 cf. Sext. Emp. Math. 10. 313, Hippol. Refut. 10. 6, Stob. Ecl. i. 10. 12( ἐν τῷ π. φύσεως ), Sch. Ven. Il. 7. 99

51 Simpl. in Arist. Phys. p. 188. 13( Άναξιμένην

52 cf. Stob. Ecl. i. 31. 4 p. 243 W, Arist. Meteor. 354 b. 15, Aet. Doxogr. Diels 371

53 or that which they call the rainbow

54 as well as the sun (Diels)

55 cf. Hippol. Ref. 10. 7, Sch. Il. 7. 99, Plut. Vit. Hom. 2. 93, Heracl. Alleg. Hom. 22

56 cf. Sext. Emp. Math. 110. 8. 26, Pyrrh. Hypot. 2. 18 (1. 4), 7. 50, Arist. 3. 1. vol. 8 p. 636 K (Il. 3-4), Stob. Ecl. 2. 1. 17 (1. 4), Procl. in Tim. i. 254. 23, Epiphan. Exp. Fid. 9. 1087 c

57 i.e. it is all opinion rather than knowledge; cf. Plat. Meno 80 d

58 cf. Choerob. Gram. Gr. 4. 2. 88. 30

59 prob. the stars (Diels)

60 cf. E. Gud. κάρρων E. M. Vet. γλύσσων , E. Flor. Miller κάρρων , E. M. 235. 3

61 less likely (with this word-order) ‘yellow honey’

62 κερασός is really the bird-cherry; mulberries and blackberries seem to have been confused

63 prob. not the same passage as fr. 7

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