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Empedocles ( ancient Greek Ἐμπεδοκλῆς Empedoklḗs ; * around 495 BC in Akragas, today's Agrigento in Sicily; † around 435 BC probably in the Peloponnese ) was an ancient Greek philosopher , naturalist, politician, speaker and poet. It is unclear whether the claims that he was also active as a doctor, medicine writer, magician and fortune teller are true . Numerous stories about his life and death have legendary features. As a politician he was controversial in his hometown of Akragas and had to go into exile, from which he never returned.

As a pre-Socratics , Empedocles was influenced by the ideas of major currents of his time, the Pythagoreans and the Eleates , but he conceived an independent world model. His philosophy is set out in his two poems, which have only survived fragmentarily - the didactic poem about nature and the “cleanings”. As usual with the pre-Socratic natural philosophers , he dealt with the question of the origin of the world ( cosmogony ) and tried to clarify the order and nature of the universe ( cosmology ). In this context he developed a physical and biological theory shaped by mythical thinking, which also included an idea of ​​the origin of life on earth and the evolution of living things. He introduced the doctrine of the four primary substances air, fire, earth and water. The four-element theory was decisive for the scientific worldview of antiquity and also influenced medicine up to the 19th century.

Ethical and religious convictions, which are closely linked to his doctrine of reincarnation , play a central role in his philosophy ; The focus is on the demand for non-violence . The legend of his death in the Etna volcano occupied the imagination of posterity up to the modern age.


The beginning of the biography of Empedocles in Diogenes Laertios. Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana , Gr. 394, fol. 143v (15th century)

The main source for the life of Empedocles is the chapter dedicated to him in the eighth book of the philosopher's biographies of the doxographer Diogenes Laertios . For his information about Empedocles, Diogenes refers to 22 today lost writings by various authors, some of which, however, were only known to him from quotations in later literature. In particular, he took anecdotal material from his sources.

Most of the traditional stories serve to illustrate the alleged or actual character traits or abilities of the philosopher, sometimes drastically. Some anecdotes are implausible, many at least seem fabulously decorated. Sometimes - as with Heraclitus - it can be seen that the author of a claim or story intended to make the philosopher look ridiculous. Some information about Empedocles' life may have arisen from a biographical interpretation of passages in his poetry. Indeed, individual remarks by the poet may have an autobiographical background, but caution is advised with such conclusions. In general, the credibility of the tradition is disputed.

Since the didactic poetry of Empedocles has only survived in part, works by other authors are also important sources for his teaching. A range of information is provided by Aristotle and Plutarch, as well as Aristotle commentators (especially Simplikios ). Plutarch's extensive monograph on Empedocles is lost except for a fragment, but he also expresses himself in his surviving writings on the pre-Socratics and cites him.


The birth of Empedocles can only be roughly dated; since he was a little younger than his contemporary Anaxagoras , it probably falls in the first years of the 5th century. He came from a noble and wealthy family in his hometown of Akragas. His grandfather, also called Empedocles, was a horse breeder and winner of the 496 Olympic Games. His father Meton was a prominent politician. After the death of around 472 BC The tyrant Theron , who died in BC, began troubled times in Akragas. The tyrant's successor, his son Thrasydaios , had to go into exile after only one year of reign. In this political reorientation of the city, Meton played a leading role on the side of the anti-tyrants. Allegedly Empedocles was offered the royal dignity, which he refused. What is certain is that the idea of ​​a democratic state system prevailed. Empedocles was committed to the side of the democracy advocates and took a vigorous stand against efforts which he believed aimed at a tyrannical rule. He achieved the dissolution of an organization known as the "Assembly of a Thousand" which probably pursued oligarchical goals. An anecdote shared by Diogenes Laertios about death sentences that he is said to have caused is, however, unbelievable; it is probably an invention of a comedy poet. Apparently Empedocles was a gifted orator; Aristotle even described him as the inventor of rhetoric .

Empedocles' relationship to older and contemporary philosophers is difficult to determine. In ancient times he was considered a student of Pythagoras or of early Pythagoreans . This assumption was obvious because of the relationship between his teaching and Pythagorean ideas. A direct student relationship with Pythagoras is excluded for chronological reasons. In addition, an ancient tradition calls him a student of Parmenides , whose teaching influenced him in any case.

According to biographical tradition, Empedocles was also a successful doctor. He is said to have healed a pseudo-dead that her doctors had already given up. It is unclear whether there is a historical core to this legendary story of a spectacular healing. He himself mentions that Empedocles gave health advice. In a list of the four most distinguished professions, he names doctors alongside soothsayers, poets and princes; this is possibly an indication that he was a doctor himself. This also fits his keen interest in biological topics.

Because of a political conflict, Empedocles was in exile; when he wanted to return to Akragas, this prevented powerful opponents. The historian Timaios of Tauromenion , quoted by Diogenes Laertios, reports that the philosopher emigrated to Greece and settled in the Peloponnese ; from there he had not returned. With reference to Aristotle and Herakleides Ponticos , Diogenes writes that Empedocles was sixty years old; from this it follows that his death can be dated around the middle of the thirties of the 5th century. The circumstances of death are unknown.

No portraits of Empedocles have survived. Diogenes Laertios reports of a statue of the philosopher in Akragas, which was later placed in Rome, as well as of paintings.


Very unusual is Empedocles' extraordinarily well developed self-confidence, which is expressed drastically in his verses. The first-person speaker in his poetry assumes the attitude of an infallible wisdom teacher, proclaiming his own fame and ascribing superhuman abilities to himself. According to a common interpretation, he even explicitly claims divinity at one point. This caused a sensation and offense even in antiquity and earned the poet the charge of arrogance and charlatanry. Even in modern times, the assumption that he believed himself to be a god has strongly influenced the reception of Empedocles. However, it is not certain that the verses cited in this context were intended as a self-description of the poet. According to an alternative interpretation of the verses, divinity is not asserted as a fact, but only mentioned as an impression that the environment received.


composite fragments of the Empedocles papyrus
A piece of the Strasbourg Empedocles papyrus from the 1st century in the Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg

Empedocles wrote a number of works, most of which have been lost. Fragments of his two best-known poems, the philosophical didactic poem about nature and the “cleanings” (Katharmoí) , both of which were written in hexameters , have survived. The traditional names of the natural poem - "About nature" (Peri phýseōs) , "About the nature of beings" (Peri phýseōs tōn óntōn) or "Physics" (Physiká) - were originally only information on the subject; they were not intended to be the title of a work in the later common sense, because the author's bindingly determined titles of philosophical works were not yet common at that time. The conventional, still prevailing doctrine is that the natural poem and the "Purifications" are two different works, one of which deals primarily with natural philosophy , the other primarily serves a religious purpose. However, since 1987 research has also taken the view that it is just one work. The existence of two different poems is explicitly attested only in Diogenes Laertios. The hypothesis that it is a single poem, however, has not been able to prevail.

Diogenes Laertios gives the total length of the two poems to be around 5000 verses. A total of about 500 verses have been preserved; for the most part they are only known from quotations in later ancient literature, but there are also a few dozen verses or verses from the first book of the natural poem, which are only found in the Strasbourg Empedocles papyrus . This papyrus, which dates from the late 1st century, consists of 52 fragments of a papyrus roll, which served as the base of a glued-on decorative collar made of copper sheet. The collar was acquired by the archaeologist Otto Rubensohn in 1904 , but it was not until 1992 that the papyrus fragments were identified as part of Empedocles' work.

The distribution of the surviving fragments between the two great poems is partly certain, partly hypothetical. It is difficult to determine the order of the fragments and thus the at least partial reconstruction of the structure of the two works. In “Reinigungen” the first-person narrator reports on the terrible fate that he suffered as a result of his misdeeds; his description, intended for an oral presentation, is intended to shock and shock the audience. According to an ancient report, Empedocles had the “cleanings” performed publicly by a famous rhapsodist during the Olympic Games in order to make his teaching known in this way. In the natural poem, the philosopher addresses his pupil Pausanias, to whom he has dedicated the work, and gives him instructions. Pausanias is said to have been his lover, as Diogenes Laertios reports with reference to Aristippus of Cyrene and Satyros of Kallatis .

Diogenes Laertios states that Empedocles wrote political treatises and that his works also include a medical one, a "doctor's instruction" (iatrikós lógos) , which comprised around 600 verses (or lines). In the Suda , a Byzantine encyclopedia, a prose work "Heilkundliches" (Iatriká) is listed next to the natural poem . Tragedies were also attributed to Empedocles in antiquity; its author was possibly a grandson of the same name of the philosopher, who is mentioned in the Suda as a tragedy poet. Empedocles also wrote a poem about the Hellespont crossing of the Persian King Xerxes I and a hymn to the god Apollon . Attempts have been made to identify remnants of these poems; however, these hypotheses have found little support.


Empedocles develops his philosophy by examining the thinking of Parmenides , which he does not mention in the verses that have survived. The core of his interpretation of the world is the conception of an eternal cycle. The doctrine of nature that he presents is the philosophical expression of the mythical worldview to which he professes. Embedded in the natural-philosophical system is an ethic characterized by a religious striving for salvation .

The question of the unity of Empedocles' teaching or of a possible development of his thinking, the stages of which are reflected in the two poems, is controversial.

Order and nature of the cosmos

At the time of Empedocles there were two opposing interpretations of the world in Greek philosophy, the teachings of Parmenides and Heraclitus . Parmenides only admits reality to what has not come into being, what is perfect and unchangeable, since he regards being and arising to be incompatible. For Heraclitus, being and becoming are inextricably linked and condition one another.

Empedocles tries to integrate the two approaches. He accepts what is becoming and passing as real, but at the same time clings to the concept of being that is not subject to change. For him, the carriers of being are the four primary substances fire, water, air and earth, of which the entire cosmos consists in his model. This makes him the founder of the four-element theory , but he does not use the later common term "elements" (stoicheía) to designate the original substances , but rather calls them "roots" (rhizōmata) . The original materials are absolutely unchangeable in terms of quality and quantity and fill the entire space without gaps; a vacuum can not exist. They are not created and immortal and cannot - as with Heraclitus - transform into one another. So they cannot be traced back to a single primordial substance or a primordial principle ( archḗ ) , but are of equal rank. In doing so, they meet the criteria of being understood as the opposite of becoming. There is no emergence from nothing and no absolute annihilation. The four primary substances have the same constant total mass. Everything that is perceived as a change by a viewer is based on the change in position of small particles of matter, which changes the mixing ratios of the primary substances at a given location. The change in the mixture manifests itself as a change in the perceptible properties of physical objects. With this theory, Empedocles first introduced the concept of the construction of the entire physical world from a limited number of stable elements into natural philosophy. It is not clear from the surviving fragments of his didactic poem whether he considered the original materials to be arbitrarily divisible or based on the smallest units of quantity.

Empedocles connects the doctrine of the four primary substances with Greek mythology by assigning the substances to the deities Zeus , Here ( Hera ), Aidoneus ( Hades ) and Nestis . Nestis is undoubtedly the water deity; Empedocles apparently identified her with Persephone . The assignment of the three remaining elements is not clear from the surviving fragments of Empedocles' poetry and is controversial. In ancient times it was not doubted that Zeus meant the god of fire; It was only unclear whether Here stands for air and Aidoneus for earth or vice versa. In modern research, the traditional classification of Zeus has been questioned since the 19th century. A number of scholars, most notably Peter Kingsley, advocate a hypothesis that identifies the fire god with Aidoneus, Zeus with the air, and Here with the earth.

He also resorts to a mythical concept to determine the causes of the change in the location of particles of matter, to which Empedocles attributes every change. He assumes two opposing moving forces, one attracting and uniting and one repelling and dividing. He calls the unifying force philótēs (love, friendship), the separating neíkos (conflict). They ceaselessly strive to oust each other. All processes in the universe, including human destinies, result from their endless, changeable struggle.

With this system Empedocles cancels the fundamental difference for Parmenides between the real, unchangeable being and the deceptive world of appearance of the transitory. For him the world in its entirety is the real, and this reality results from the six principles (four primary substances and two forces) and their functional context.

The world cycle

While the four primary substances as such are qualitatively and quantitatively unchangeable, the influence of the moving forces love and strife is subject to strong changes over time. This is a cyclical change. When the power of love in the world has reached its highest level of development, there is a maximum degree of union, the strongest intermingling of the elements and thus the greatest achievable homogeneity in the world. The cosmos is in a state of rest. The uniformly mixed elements everywhere form a unified divine sphere (sphaíros) ; the dispute has been pushed to the very edge of the universe. The homogeneity of the sphere is not absolute, however, since each of the elements retains its own existence in the mixture. With the idea of ​​a spherical god Sphairos - the sphere was considered a perfect body because of its spherical symmetry - Empedocles turns against anthropomorphic ideas of God. The spherical god, who is identical with the universe in its state of rest, is a sentient living being; he is happy about his unity. This ideal state of the world created by love can only be preserved temporarily. Then a change must occur: the repressed power of the dispute begins to gain strength, it increases continuously from the periphery and causes an increasing separation of the elements. The force of separation gradually gains the upper hand and finally attains its highest possible power when the four elements are separated into four homogeneous, concentrically layered masses that rotate rapidly. This state, with which the repression of love has reached its maximum, remains stable for a certain time. Then there is inevitably another turnaround. The love pushed back into the middle of the universe makes itself noticeable again from there, pushes the dispute outwards and ensures that the elements are increasingly mixed and their movement is slowed down. This cycle is carried out according to an unalterable law of nature.

The history of the universe emerges from the cycle, in which four phases can be distinguished: the period of predominance of love, the period of increasing power of dispute, period of predominance of dispute and the period of increasing power of love. Empedocles assigns his own epoch to the second phase, in which the separating and the unifying forces wrestle with one another and the dispute wins the upper hand. He goes into this phase of the cycle in detail. From the interaction between the receding love and the advancing quarrel, the present cosmos with its variety of different phenomena emerged in phases. The process of separation began with the first air, which Empedocles called aithḗr , was separated by a centrifugal vortex movement and driven to the surface of the globe. There it formed a transparent envelope. Then, in the sphere, a light outer area, marked by fire, separated from a dark inner area with scattered fire particles. In the middle of the dark interior, the moisture-soaked earth formed. After that, the earth and water separated from each other as the water gushed out of the earth. Finally air broke out of the water and rose; this is how the earthly breath came about. With this the world has reached its familiar shape.

The details of the cycle and its meaning in the context of Empedocles' philosophy are disputed in scholarship; In particular, it is unclear whether a world creation and an end of the world including the creation and destruction of living beings take place in the second as well as in the fourth phase and whether the dispute has a creative role. Moreover, even the cosmic character of the cycle has been contested by some researchers; In 1965 Uvo Hölscher put forward the hypothesis that Empedocles meant a life cycle. This interpretation, which was popular at times, has not caught on.

The luminous celestial bodies are local agglomerations of the fuel. This includes the sun, whose light is reflected by the moon . The assertion of the doxographer Aëtios that Empedocles interpreted sunlight as the reflection of a light emanating from the fiery hemisphere of the cosmos is based on a misunderstanding.

Origin of life and life processes

A special aspect of the cosmic process is the emergence of the living bodies, which Empedocles describes with his phylogenetic theory. Like all physical objects, he understands living beings as mixtures of the four elements. The differences between the species and the individuals result within the framework of his theory from the difference in the respective mixing ratios. The first plants and animals formed from the damp earth under the influence of the unifying power of love. Initially, no whole animals emerged, but only individual components of animal bodies that combined to form misshapen structures, which were unstable and disintegrated. Purposefully structured organisms were formed later, but initially did not have any sexual organs. Sexual differentiation only occurred in the last phase. Empedocles assigns chance to play an important role in these processes of biological evolution.

The future complete separation of the elements through the inevitable victory of the dispute must lead to the destruction of all animate bodies, just as individual life is no longer possible in the phase of complete dominance of love and mixing of the elements.

Empedocles turned his attention to individual biological functions with great interest. Among other things, he discusses procreation, embryonic development, breathing and sensory perception. He localizes thinking and insight mainly in the blood, which is in the vicinity of the heart, because in the blood the mixing of the primary substances brought about by love is greatest. Like Pythagoras and Alkmaion of Croton , he explains sense perception according to the principle of grasping like by like; Since the sense organs consist of the same elements as the objects of perception, they can represent them adequately. This requires physical contact; Material outflows from the objects of perception reach the organs of perception and enter the body of the perceiver through pores. The type of sensory perception (optical, acoustic, etc.) depends on the size of the pores of the sensory organ, each of which is adapted to a specific type of outflow from the perceived object. If the pores are too small for certain particles, it is impossible for them to flow in; if they are too large, the necessary contact is not made when they flow in. With regard to the trustworthiness of the information conveyed by the sense organs, Empedocles rejected the radically negative position of Parmenides and opted for the moderate position that one should trust the senses insofar as the data they provide are clear.

How Alcmaeon, Parmenides and Hippocratic doctors , he took part in contrast to Aristotle, that in the procreation both sexual partners "seed" shares contribute.

Empedocles illustrates his theory of breathing by comparing it with a water lifter ( Klepsydra ). He explains breathing through movements of the blood. As the blood withdraws, it gives space to the air and allows it to flow in. When the air flows out, the blood takes its place again. This creates the alternation of inhaling and exhaling. It is controversial whether Empedocles means skin breathing or nasal breathing or both.

The role of man in the cosmos

Empedocles is convinced that injustice and acts of violence take revenge on their authors. This happens within the framework of reincarnation , which here has the function of a punishment. The guilty individual suffers dire fates in successive lives. With this teaching Empedocles ties in with an Orphic and Pythagorean concept. However, one cannot speak of “transmigration of souls” here, because the term psychḗ , which is later used to denote the soul, only occurs in one place in Empedocles and has a different meaning there (“life”). It is unclear how Empedocles imagined the "I" to be the carrier of an individual existence that would last beyond death in the context of his doctrine of primary substances.

For Empedocles, at the beginning of an earthly cycle of existence there is a grave error on the part of the person in question, who was originally a blessed god and is referred to as a daímon ("demon"). The evildoer has to leave the world of gods and is sent into a long exile on earth as a punishment. There he has to go through a series of lives with different bodies. The first-person narrator also assumes this fate for himself:

There is a saying of necessity, an old decision of the gods, eternally, sealed with broad oaths: If someone fails himself and stains his limbs with the blood of relatives, (...) then he should be three times ten thousand years away from the blessed drift around, develop in the course of this time into all sorts of forms of mortal living beings and always trade one arduous life path for another. ... I am one of them now, I am an exile from the divine realm and a tramp, because I have given my trust to raging hatred. "

In the unfamiliar place of misery, the exile is “covered with a strange shell of flesh”; he cries, complains and wanders about, because he now belongs to the lamentable “race of mortals”, where “murder and resentment” are the order of the day.

However, there is a prospect of salvation. Apparently Empedocles described in a lost passage of the "Purifications" how living beings can rise through different forms of existence; vegetal life can be followed by animal life and human life. Within the human form of existence there is also perfection from one life to the next. This development consequently continues into a superhuman area:

In the end, however, they become seers, poets, doctors and princes for the people living on earth; From there they grow up to gods who are in the highest honor, who are fellow immortals in the hearth and who share the table with them, without a share in human suffering and indestructible. "

Empedocles also describes a former harmonious, conflict-free ideal state of humanity and its environment in an era when the ever-increasing power of dispute was even less. With this he ties in with the idea of ​​the past golden age described by Hesiod . However , Empedocles expressly rejects the traditional view, handed down by Hesiod, according to which the god Kronos was the ruler in the Golden Age. He writes that at that time it was not Zeus or Kronos or Poseidon who ruled, but the goddess of love Kypris ( Aphrodite ). The animal sacrifices that Empedocles abhorred did not exist then; the killing and consumption of killed animals was considered "the greatest defilement".

Since the natural original state for Empedocles is connected with complete abstinence from bloodshed and from eating killed animals, he urgently calls for non-violence against the animal world.

Empedocles enthusiastically proclaims his message of the possible regression of man to God, who the banished “demon” once was before he was expelled from the realm of the blessed. It should be noted, however, that the realization of this goal in the context of the cyclical world view of the natural poem cannot mean the attainment of a final, eternal state. In Empedocles the gods are also transitory. For him, her immortality is not an eternal condition, as it was for Homer , but is temporary; the immortal returns to the state of mortality. In a limited, closed system based on the eternal repetition of a regular cycle, love must necessarily follow strife and every ascent must be followed by a descent.




The formation of legends testifies to the strong impression that the appearance of Empedocles made on his contemporaries. The philosopher was considered a miracle worker, he was ascribed superhuman abilities.

In particular, the mysterious alleged circumstances of his death have sparked the imagination of posterity. Legend has it that he ended his life by jumping into the Etna volcano . Other equally implausible claims claim that he hanged himself, drowned or was fatally injured in falling from a car. The story of the alleged suicide in Etna has strongly shaped the image of Empedocles for posterity from antiquity to the present day. It is based on a miraculous story that was spread by admirers of the philosopher and reinterpreted by critics. His admirers presented his demise as a disappearance that had been a rapture and a transfer to the immortal gods ( apotheosis ). Opponents turned this into a tale of deception: Empedocles had thrown himself into the volcano in order to make his corpse undetectable and thus to create the conditions for a legend of deification. But the volcano spat out one of its metal sandals; thus he was exposed as a fraud. The Roman poet Horace referred to this version of the legend in his Ars poetica . The geographer Strabo also knew them. He pointed out that, due to the nature of the crater, the process could not have happened in the manner described, because the heat of the crater opening could not be approached. In the 2nd century the satirist Lucian of Samosata declared the fall into the volcano as a result of the philosopher's melancholy .

Reports of the impressive medical successes that he is said to have achieved also contributed to Empedocles' fame. It was said that he had freed the people of Selinunte from an epidemic by diverting two rivers at his own expense and thus rendering putrid water harmless. Around the middle of the 5th century BC Coins minted in the city of Selinunte show two rivers there on the reverse and the hero Heracles on the obverse , whose famous deed included the diversion of two rivers. There may be a connection between the coinage and the story about Empedocles.

An unreliable legend said that Empedocles belonged to the Pythagorean community, but was excluded from it because he had brought secret doctrines to the public in his poetry.

Philosophical and theological reception

Zeno of Elea , a pupil of Parmenides, wrote a now lost work on the teaching of his contemporary Empedocles, in which he expressed himself critically.

Plato mentions the name of Empedocles in only two places; elsewhere he refers to the doctrine of the pre-Socratics without mentioning him by name. He rejects Empedocles' dualistic conception of two equal, conflicting divine principles in the cosmos; He does not accept an independent principle of “dispute” as a dissolving, separating power.

Aristotle dealt with Empedocles more thoroughly in his writings than with any other previous philosopher except Plato. He criticized the worldview of the natural poem with the argument that love and quarrel paradoxically worked against their own essence, since quarrel also connects by uniting all parts of the individual elements, and also separates love by creating the inner unity of the four dissolve the concentrically stratified masses from the conflict. The famous Peripatetic Theophrastus , a student of Aristotle, wrote a now-lost treatise on Empedocles.

Empedocles was attacked from the Epicurean side. The Epicurean Hermarchus , Epicurus' successor as headmaster, wrote an extensive pamphlet (22 books) against him (Pros Empedokléa) , only fragments of which have survived. The Epicureans who took a stand against Empedocles' teachings include Kolotes of Lampsakos and Diogenes of Oinoanda . The Roman poet Lucretius , who was also an Epicurean, praised the wisdom of Empedocles, but presented in the first book of his didactic poem De rerum natura a detailed argument to refute the cosmological ideas of the pre-Socratics and other similarly thinking philosophers. Among other things, he argued that the denial of the vacuum is absurd, since no movement is possible without a vacuum, and that a union of all four elements fails because they are incompatible with one another. Cicero considered Empedocles to be a follower of epistemological skepticism .

Plutarch dedicated a detailed monograph (10 books) to Empedocles, only a fragment of which has survived. He also quoted the pre-Socratics in other works and went into his teaching.

Neo-Platonists like Syrianos and Simplikios interpreted Empedocles in a Platonic way, assuming him to imagine an intelligible world beyond space and time. With this Empedocles would have anticipated the Platonic ontology . This Empedocles interpretation is based on a misunderstanding; Empedocles did not start from a being that was independent of space and time.

Christian authors were suspicious of Empedocles. Tertullian assessed the pre-Socratics' pronounced self-confidence as arrogance. However, he cited the jump into Etna as a positive example of overcoming the fear of death. The church writer Hippolytus of Rome tried to show that the heretics he opposed did not take their teachings from the Bible, but from Greek philosophy. He accused the theologian Markion of having adopted Empedocles' ideas. In doing so, he referred, among other things, to regulations on nutrition and sexuality, which applied to the followers of Markion, the Markionites. Hippolytus identified the demiurge (imperfect creator of the world), whom Marcion assumed, with Empedocles' principle of dispute.

Literary reception

Ancient sources and the Suda report that the famous orator Gorgias , who came from Sicily, was a pupil of Empedocles. It is uncertain whether this is the case; In any case, stylistic and content-related points of contact between them can be identified.

Aristotle described Empedocles in his now lost dialogue Sophistes as the inventor of rhetoric, but thought relatively little of his poetic achievements. He wrote in his Poetics that Empedocles was a naturalist who had nothing in common with a real poet like Homer except meter. Elsewhere, however, Aristotle expressed his appreciation insofar as he allowed Empedocles at least mastery of the poetic technique and pointed out his rich metaphor. Plutarch credited the pre-Socratics with the fact that his choice of words was not guided by the pursuit of literary effects, but that he paid attention to the factual appropriateness of the expressions used.

The speech that Ovid put into Pythagoras 'mouth in the 15th book of his Metamorphoses contains a lot of Empedocles' ideas.

The two great poems of Empedocles seem to have been known until late antiquity .

Medical reception

Empedocles' doctrine of the four primary substances for ancient medicine was momentous. The doctor and medical writer Philistion of Lokroi (4th century BC) developed his theory on the importance of the four elements in the human body and the role of an excess or deficiency in the development of diseases. He assigned the qualities of hot (fire), cold (air), moist (water) and dry (earth) to the elements. Plato, who probably knew Philistine personally, adopted in his dialogue Timaeus his theory of the origin of disease through a disturbance of the natural relationships between the elements (in Plato " bodies " based on triangles ) in the body. In humoral pathology the doctrine of the four elements was combined with the doctrine of the four bodily fluids by assigning the fluids blood, yellow bile, black bile and mucus to the elements. Such an assignment can already be found in the Hippocratic text On the Nature of Man ( De natura hominis ), which the doctor Polybos, a pupil of Hippocrates , wrote at the turn of the 5th to 4th century BC. Chr. Composed. The principle formulated by Empedocles that like can only be recognized through like (see above #Life formation and life processes ) was taken up in medicine (for example in the Hippocratic writing About the meat parts ) and in particular by Galenus ( About the doctrines of Hippocrates and des Plato ) based on Plato for the physiology of the senses.

middle Ages

colored drawing by Empedocles
Depiction of Empedocles in the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel , 1493

Apparently an Empedocles manuscript survived the end of antiquity. The Byzantine scholar Theodoros Prodromos reported in the 12th century that a manuscript had appeared and the Patriarch of Constantinople had it copied.

In the Latin-speaking world of scholars of the late Middle Ages, Empedocles was known as a philosopher with whom Aristotle had dealt. Some aspects of Empedocles' teaching were known from the works of Aristotle. Aristotle commentators such as Thomas Aquinas commented on this. Further material could be found in the chronicle of the church father Eusebius von Kaisareia in its Latin translation by Hieronymus as well as Latin works by ancient authors (Tertullian, Macrobius , Boethius ). The chronicler Helinand von Froidmont (early 13th century), the encyclopaedist Vinzenz von Beauvais and the unknown author of the Liber de vita et moribus philosophorum ("Book on the life and customs of the philosophers"), written in the early 14th century, included a series of information about the pre-Socratics.

In the Arabic-speaking world, Empedocles was known as Anbaduqlīs in the Middle Ages . One read Arabic translations of ancient works - especially Aristotle's writings and Aristotle Commentaries - in which he is mentioned. In addition, alleged representations of his teaching were circulating, which were not based on his authentic works, but on later ancient literature. Empedocles was considered a student of a sage named Luqmān, who lived in Syria as a contemporary of David and received wisdom from God. The knowledge transmitted by Luqmān was said to have brought Empedocles to Greece, although he deliberately changed it. This is how he became the founder of Greek philosophy. According to another tradition, he was a son of Parmenides and a student of Zenon of Elea. In the late 10th century, the Persian philosopher al-Āmirī reported on a group of Shiite followers of Empedocles who existed at the time and who revered the Greeks as a wisdom teacher of the highest authority.

Early modern age

Empedocles leans out of the window to watch the cosmic process. Fresco by Luca Signorelli in Orvieto Cathedral , 1500/1502

In 1424 the humanist Giovanni Aurispa claimed in a letter to the scholar Ambrogio Traversari that he was in possession of a manuscript of the "Purifications". But traces of knowledge of the whole work are nowhere to be found in the literature of the early modern period.

During the Renaissance , Empedocles was thought to be a Pythagorean and a forerunner of Plato. He was now known not only from the information provided by Aristotle, but also from the biography of Diogenes Laertios, whose work was available in a Latin translation from 1433 and was first printed around 1472, as well as from Plutarch's Moralia and from newly developed Neoplatonic literature. Francesco Patrizi held him in high regard as a poet, while Aristotelian scholars expressed themselves critically and, following Aristotle's judgment, regarded him as a natural scientist and not as a poet. In the 16th century, quotations from Empedocles were used in anthologies in the original Greek text or in a Latin translation . In the 17th century, Ralph Cudworth , who belonged to the group of the Cambridge Platonists , assessed Empedocles in his work The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) as an important exponent of ancient idealistic thought. In the 18th century, the name of the philosopher was primarily associated with the legend of death in Etna , popular at the time , which was often held to be true and viewed from the point of view of its derisive evaluation by Horace and Lucian. But there were also increasing voices that questioned or disputed the credibility of the legend or at least the motives assumed by Empedocles (lust for fame, melancholy). One of the doubters was Denis Diderot , who thought Empedocles was a brilliant person. The hypothesis of an accident in which the naturalist Empedocles fell victim on the volcano was sometimes considered.


Original manuscript by Hölderlin
Holderlin, The Death of Empedocles . Pages from a manuscript by the author

Between 1797 and 1800 Friedrich Hölderlin worked on a tragedy The Death of Empedocles , which remained unfinished; three designs were created. Empedocles lives in harmony with a "larger" nature in which he feels like a god. This creates a sharp contrast between him and his fellow citizens, who only devote themselves to their everyday needs. The Agrigenes want to submit to his leadership, but only in the traditional political sense by making him king; they do not realize that the guidance he might offer them is spiritual. He rejects the royal dignity because it is no longer in keeping with the times. He calls for a departure from tradition and a radical reorientation with “divine nature” as the model. However, the people persist in their usual way of thinking. Empedocles fails externally by being banished from his hometown, and internally by breaking his bond with the gods. With his death in Etna he draws the conclusion. The third draft of the tragedy was not printed until 1826; In 1846, all three drafts appeared in Friedrich Hölderlin's complete edition of all works .

In 1805 Friedrich Wilhelm Sturz brought out the first modern edition of the fragments of Empedocles.

The poet Matthew Arnold published a poetry collection Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems in 1852 . The eponymous poem (dramatic poem) consists of dialogues. Like Holderlin, Arnold lets the philosopher die in Etna; death is a moment of joy and appears as an act of liberation.

Empedocles statue by Friedrich Beer on the attic of the Natural History Museum in Vienna

Friedrich Nietzsche valued Empedocles and viewed him as the model of a tragic philosopher. He planned to write a tragedy of which Empedocles would be the hero; Drafts from the period 1870–71 have survived.

Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff said that Empedocles' philosophy, "although it was not very original and deep, came to a lasting power"; the poet achieved this through his “formal art”.

Romain Rolland wrote an essay Empédocle d'Agrigente et l'âge de la haine in 1918 , which was published in German in 1947. In it he describes Empedocles as the most humane pre-Socratics, whose poetry is a song of hope and peace.

In 1937 Sigmund Freud published his essay The finite and the infinite analysis , in which he describes Empedocles as "one of the greatest and most remarkable figures in Greek cultural history". Freud takes the view there that the ancient philosopher, by introducing the principle of dispute as an independent force of nature, discovered the death instinct and was thus a forerunner of psychoanalysis . After two and a half millennia, psychoanalysis had rediscovered the theory of Empedocles and "to a certain extent underpinned it biologically" by tracing the instinct for destruction back to the death instinct, "the urge of the living to return to the lifeless".

Bertolt Brecht wrote the narrative poem Der Schuh des Empedokles in 1935 . In addition to the version of the story of death in Etna communicated by Diogenes Laertios, he presents his own version. In Brecht's portrayal, when Empedocles was tired of life due to old age, he climbed the volcano and, before jumping into the crater, left one of his worn leather shoes behind. With this he wanted to ensure that the shoe would be found there later and that the legendary creation would be destroyed.

The play Hölderlin by Peter Weiss, premiered in 1971 , also deals with the subject of Empedocles. The poet Holderlin designs one piece in a piece; he portrays an Empedocles who retreats into the mountains as a spiritual guide in order to lead society towards renewal. As soon as the legend of Empedocles spreads, one can hear “of the resistance of the slaves in the silver mines”. Empedocles is a mirror image in the context of the renewal of Agrigento for the Holderlin of the French Revolution. The identification of Hölderlin with the literary model of Empedocles symmetrically resembles the identification of Peter Weiss with the poet Hölderlin.

The port city of Porto Empedocle near Agrigento was named after Empedocles in 1863; at that time it was still a town. The underwater volcano Empedocles , discovered in 2006 off the coast of Sicily, was also named after the ancient philosopher.

Source and text editions

  • Laura Gemelli Marciano (Ed.): The pre-Socratics . Volume 2: Parmenides, Zenon, Empedocles . Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-538-03500-3 , pp. 138-438 (fragments and testimony with German translation and explanations).
  • Geoffrey S. Kirk , John E. Raven , Malcolm Schofield (Eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers. Introduction, texts and comments . Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-476-01834-2 , pp. 309-353 (selected fragments and testimony with German translation and commentary).
  • Alain Martin, Oliver Primavesi (eds.): L'Empédocle de Strasbourg (P. Strasb. Gr. Inv. 1665–1666). Introduction, edition et commentaire . De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1999, ISBN 3-11-015129-4 (critical edition of the Strasbourg Empedocles papyrus).
  • Maureen Rosemary Wright (Ed.): Empedocles: The Extant Fragments . Yale University Press, New Haven 1981, ISBN 0-300-02475-4 (edition of the fragments with English translation and commentary).


Overview representations, manuals

Monographs, studies

  • Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic. Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1995, ISBN 0-19-814988-3 .
  • Oliver Primavesi: Empedokles Physika I. A reconstruction of the central train of thought. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-020925-9 .
  • Tom Wellmann: The Origin of the World. Studies on the Strasbourg Empedocles papyrus. Berlin / Boston 2020.

Collection of articles

  • Apostolos L. Pierris (Ed.): The Empedoclean Κόσμος: Structure, Process and the Question of Cyclicity. Part 1: Papers. Institute for Philosophical Research, Patras 2005, ISBN 960-88183-1-1 .


Essayistic presentation

  • Walther Kranz : Empedocles. Ancient form and romantic new creation. Artemis, Zurich 1949

Web links

Commons : Empedocles  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. See Richard Goulet: Empédocle d'Agrigente . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, Paris 2000, p. 76 f.
  2. Ava Chitwood takes a radically skeptical position: The Death of Empedocles . In: American Journal of Philology 107, 1986, pp. 175-191; extended in: Ava Chitwood: Death by Philosophy . Ann Arbor 2004, pp. 12-58.
  3. Jacques Boulogne: Plutarque exegete d'Empedocle . In: Revue de Philosophie Ancienne 22, 2004, pp. 97–110.
  4. For the chronology see Denis O'Brien: Empedocles: A Synopsis . In: Georg Rechenauer (Ed.): Early Greek thinking . Göttingen 2005, pp. 316–342, here: 319–321; Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (Eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers . Stuttgart 2001, p. 310; Maureen Rosemary Wright (Ed.): Empedocles: The Extant Fragments . New Haven 1981, pp. 3-6.
  5. Diogenes Laertios 8: 63-66. David Asheri doubts that Empedocles was actually a Democrat: Agrigento libera: rivolgimenti interni e problemi costituzionali, approx. 471–446 aC In: Athenaeum 78, 1990, pp. 483–501, here: 490–500.
  6. Ava Chitwood: Death by Philosophy . Ann Arbor 2004, pp. 29-31.
  7. Diogenes Laertios 8.57f. and 9.25.
  8. ^ Alfonso Mele: Empedocle e Agrigento . In: Giovanni Casertano (Ed.): Empedocle tra poesia, medicina, filosofia e politica . Napoli 2007, pp. 179-197, here: 182-185.
  9. Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers . Stuttgart 2001, p. 311; Maureen Rosemary Wright (Ed.): Empedocles: The Extant Fragments . New Haven 1981, pp. 9-14. Ava Chitwood is skeptical: Death by Philosophy . Ann Arbor 2004, pp. 39-48.
  10. Diogenes Laertios, 8.67; 8.71.
  11. Diogenes Laertios, 8.72.
  12. The verses are reprinted and translated by Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): Die vorsokratischen Philosophen . Stuttgart 2001, p. 344 f. However, the correctness of the translation is controversial. Ava Chitwood: Death by Philosophy doubt or deny that Empedocles thought he was a god . Ann Arbor 2004, pp. 20-23; Wolfgang Rösler : The beginning of the 'Katharmoi' of Empedocles . In: Hermes 111, 1983, pp. 170-179, here: 172-175; Carlo Gallavotti: Empedocle nei papiri ercolanesi . In: Jean Bingen et al. (Ed.): Le monde grec. Pensée, littérature, histoire, documents. Homages to Claire Préaux . Bruxelles 1975, pp. 153-161, here: 159-161 and Nicolaas van der Ben: The Proem of Empedocles' Peri Physios . Amsterdam 1975, pp. 22-25. Peter Kingsley disagrees: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, pp. 217-232.
  13. Egidius Schmalzriedt : ΠΕΡΙ ΦΥΣΕΩΣ. On the early history of the book titles . Munich 1970, pp. 104-107 and 123 f.
  14. ^ This is the opinion of Catherine Osborne: Empedocles Recycled . In: The Classical Quarterly 37, 1987, pp. 24-50, Brad Inwood (Ed.): The Poem of Empedocles . 2nd Edition. Toronto 2001 and (with particular caution) Simon Trépanier: Empedocles. In terms of interpretation . New York 2004, pp. 1-30. A number of researchers disagree, including Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, p. 7 f. and 363–365 and Denis O'Brien: Empedocles Revisited . In: Ancient Philosophy 15, 1995, pp. 403-470, here: 431-436.
  15. Diogenes Laertios 8.77.
  16. ^ Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg, P. Strasb. large Inv. 1665-1666.
  17. Renaud Gagné: L'esthétique de la peur chez Empédocle . In: Revue de Philosophie Ancienne 24, 2006, pp. 83–110; on the oral lecture Jackson P. Hershbell: Empedocles' oral style . In: The Classical Journal 63, 1967-68, pp. 351-357. On the role of the first-person narrator in Empedocles, see Annette Rosenfeld-Löffler: La poétique d'Empédocle . Bern 2006, pp. 77-100.
  18. Diogenes Laertios 8:63.
  19. On Pausanias see Dirk Obbink : The Addressees of Empedocles . In: Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 31, 1993, pp. 51–98, here: 80–89.
  20. For the Apollon hymn see Friedrich Solmsen : Empedocles' hymn to Apollo . In: Phronesis 25, 1980, pp. 219-227, for the Xerxes poem David Sider: Empedocles' Persika . In: Ancient Philosophy 2, 1982, pp. 76-78.
  21. For the counter-argument see Peter Kingsley: Empedocles' Two Poems . In: Hermes 124, 1996, pp. 108–111, here: 110f. See Richard Goulet: Empédocle d'Agrigente . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, Paris 2000, p. 82.
  22. Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, pp. 36-53 and 348-358. Jean-Claude Picot argues against this: L'Empédocle magique de P. Kingsley . In: Revue de Philosophie Ancienne 18, 2000, pp. 25–86. Picot accepts Kingsley's equation of Nestis with Persephone.
  23. Oliver Primavesi: Empédocle: divinité physique et mythe allégorique . In: Philosophy antique 7, 2007, pp. 51–89, here: 66–68.
  24. To refute the hypothesis that the rule of the dispute was a period of rest, see Denis O'Brien: Empedocles Revisited . In: Ancient Philosophy 15, 1995, pp. 403-470, here: 405-416.
  25. Oliver Primavesi: Empedokles Physika I. A reconstruction of the central train of thought . Berlin 2008, pp. 17-19. Denis O'Brien takes a different view: Empedocles' Cosmic Cycle . Cambridge 1969, pp. 55-103; see also Denis O'Brien: Empedocles Revisited . In: Ancient Philosophy 15, 1995, pp. 424-429. He thinks that the maximum power of the dispute is not a phase, but only lasts a moment, then the next turnaround will already begin. For the concentric spherical shells, see Denis O'Brien: Empedocles' Cosmic Cycle . Cambridge 1969, pp. 146-155; see. Simon Trépanier: 'We' and Empedocles' Cosmic Lottery: P. Strasb. large Inv. 1665–1666, ensemble a . In: Mnemosyne 56, 2003, pp. 385-419, here: 393 f.
  26. See Simon Trépanier: Empedocles on the Ultimate Symmetry of the World . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 24, 2003, pp. 1–57; Carlo Santaniello: Empedocle: uno o due cosmi, una o due zoogonie? In: Livio Rossetti, Carlo Santaniello (ed.): Studi sul pensiero e sulla lingua di Empedocle . Bari 2004, pp. 23-81; Oliver Primavesi: Empedokles Physika I. A reconstruction of the central train of thought . Berlin 2008, pp. 12-15.
  27. Uvo Hölscher: World times and life cycle . In: Hermes 93, 1965, pp. 7-33. Daniel W. Graham presents a counter-argument: Symmetry in the Empedoclean Cycle . In: The Classical Quarterly 38, 1988, pp. 297-312.
  28. See and Astronomy of Empedocles Peter Kingsley: Empedocles' Sun . In: The Classical Quarterly 44, 1994, pp. 316-324.
  29. Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers . Stuttgart 2001, pp. 333-336; Alain Martin, Oliver Primavesi (eds.): L'Empédocle de Strasbourg (P. Strasb. Gr. Inv. 1665–1666) . Berlin 1999, pp. 54-57.
  30. Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers . Stuttgart 2001, p. 342 f.
  31. Wolfram Schmitt: Ancient and medieval theories about the five senses. In: Specialized prose research - Border Crossing 10, 2014, pp. 7–18, here: 8.
  32. Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): The pre-Socratic philosophers . Stuttgart 2001, pp. 340-342.
  33. Jutta Kollesch , Diethard Nickel : Ancient healing art. Selected texts from the medical writings of the Greeks and Romans. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1979 (= Reclams Universal Library. Volume 771); 6th edition ibid 1989, ISBN 3-379-00411-1 , p. 24 f.
  34. See Gustav Adolf Seeck : Empedocles B 17, 9–13 (= 26.8–12), B 8, B 100 in Aristotle . In: Hermes 95, 1967, pp. 28-53, here: 41-52; Karsten Wilkens: How did Empedocles explain the processes in the Klepsydra? In: Hermes 95, 1967, pp. 129-140; Denis O'Brien: The Effect of a Simile: Empedocles' Theories of Seeing and Breathing . In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 90, 1970, pp. 140-179, here: 146-154, 166-169 and 171-179 (advocates nasal breathing).
  35. See Karin Alt : Some questions about the 'Katharmoi' of Empedocles . In: Hermes 115, 1987, pp. 385-411, here: 389-392 and 395-399; Oliver Primavesi: Empédocle: divinité physique et mythe allégorique . In: Philosophy antique 7, 2007, pp. 51–89, here: 80–84.
  36. Fragment 115, text and translation in Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): Die vorsokratischen Philosophen . Stuttgart 2001, p. 346.
  37. Fragments 118, 124, 126, text and translation by Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): Die vorsokratischen Philosophen . Stuttgart 2001, p. 347 f.
  38. Fragments 146 and 147, text and translation by Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): Die vorsokratischen Philosophen . Stuttgart 2001, p. 348 f.
  39. ^ Fragments 128 and 130, text and translation in Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield (eds.): Die vorsokratischen Philosophen . Stuttgart 2001, p. 349 f.
  40. For the background, see John Rundin: The Vegetarianism of Empedocles in its Historical Context . In: The Ancient World 29, 1998, pp. 19-36; see. Jean-François Balaudé: Parenté du vivant et végétarisme radical: Le “défi” d'Empédocle . In: Barbara Cassin, Jean-Louis Labarrière (ed.): L'animal dans l'Antiquité . Paris 1997, pp. 31-53.
  41. Denis O'Brien: Empedocles Revisited . In: Ancient Philosophy 15, 1995, pp. 448-452.
  42. For the legends see Christine Mauduit: Les miracles d'Empédocle ou la naissance d'un thaumaturge . In: Bulletin de l'Association Guillaume Budé 1998, pp. 289-309.
  43. Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, pp. 233–249 assumes a mythical origin of the motif of the sandal. He thinks that the news about the alleged sandal of Empedocles was originally a reference to an attribute of the goddess Hecate .
  44. Horace, Ars Poetica 461-467. See Salvatore Cerasuolo: Empedocles frigidus . In: Vichiana 8, 1979, pp. 252-279.
  45. ^ Strabo VI 274.
  46. Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, pp. 273-277.
  47. Heinrich Dörrie , Matthias Baltes (ed.): Platonism in antiquity . Volume 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, pp. 20-23 and 247-249.
  48. On Plato's criticism of Empedocles see Denis O'Brien: L'Empédocle de Platon . In: Revue des Études grecques 110, 1997, pp. 381–398.
  49. On Aristotle's reception of Empedocles see Gabriele Giannantoni: L'interpretazione aristotelica di Empedocle . In: Elenchos 19, 1998, pp. 361-411.
  50. See Tiziano Dorandi: Hermarque de Mytilène . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, Paris 2000, p. 635; Dirk Obbink: Hermarchus, Against Empedocles . In: The Classical Quarterly 38, 1988, pp. 428-435.
  51. On the Epicurean reception of Empedocles, see the relevant essays in: Giovanni Casertano (Ed.): Empedocle tra poesia, medicina, filosofia e politica . Napoli 2007, pp. 221-276 and Angelo Casanova: La critica di Diogene d'Enoanda alla metempsicosi empedoclea (NF 2 + Fr. 34 Ch.) . In: Sileno 10, 1984, pp. 119-130.
  52. Lucretius, De rerum natura 1,714–829. On the reception of Empedocles in Lucretius, see David Sedley: The Proems of Empedocles and Lucretius . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 30, 1989, pp. 269-296.
  53. Cicero, Academica posteriora 1,12,44.
  54. For details see Jackson P. Hershbell: Plutarch as a Source for Empedocles Re-examined . In: American Journal of Philology 92, 1971, pp. 156-184.
  55. Denis O'Brien: Empedocles: A Synopsis . In: Georg Rechenauer (Ed.): Early Greek thinking . Göttingen 2005, pp. 335–339 (in discussion with Jean Bollack, whom he accuses of a false interpretation of Empedocles influenced by Neo-Platonism); Jaap Mansfeld : Heresiography in Context. Hippolytus' Elenchos as a Source for Greek Philosophy . Leiden 1992, pp. 246-262.
  56. Oliver Primavesi: Pre-Socratics in the Latin Middle Ages I: Helinand, Vincenz, the Liber de vita et moribus and the Parvi flores . In: Oliver Primavesi, Katharina Luchner (Hrsg.): The Presocratics from the Latin Middle Ages to Hermann Diels , Stuttgart 2011, pp. 45–110, here: 67f.
  57. Hippolytus of Rome, Refutatio omnium haeresium 7: 29-31. For more on Hippolyt's relationship to Empedocles' teaching, see Jaap Mansfeld: Heresiography in Context . Leiden 1992, pp. 208-231.
  58. Thomas Buchheim : Painter, language trainer: To the relationship of Gorgias with Empedocles . In: Hermes 113, 1985, pp. 417-429. Buchheim also tries to show an analogy between the thinking of both.
  59. Aristoteles, Poetics 1447b13-20.
  60. Diogenes Laertios 8.57.
  61. Plutarch, Quaestiones convivales 5,8,2 (683e).
  62. ^ Paul Diepgen : History of Medicine. The historical development of medicine and medical life. Volume 1, Berlin / New York 1949, pp. 73 f.
  63. Plato, Timaeus 81e-82b. See James Longrigg: Greek Rational Medicine . London 1993, pp. 104-113.
  64. Axel W. Bauer : What is man? Attempts at answering medical anthropology. In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013 (2014), pp. 437–453, here: 440 f. ( The individual norm of health in the ancient doctrine of the four juices ).
  65. Hermann Grensemann : The doctor Polybos as the author of Hippocratic writings (= Academy of Sciences and Literature. Treatises of the humanities and social sciences class. Year 1968, No. 2). Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz (Commissioned by Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden), Mainz 1968, passim, in particular pp. 91–94 ( Empedokleischer Influence ).
  66. Jutta Kollesch , Diethard Nickel : Ancient healing art. Selected texts from the medical writings of the Greeks and Romans. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1979 (= Reclams Universal Library. Volume 771); 6th edition ibid 1989, ISBN 3-379-00411-1 , p. 23 f. and 72-75.
  67. Oliver Primavesi: Lecteurs antiques et byzantins d'Empédocle. De Zénon à Tzétzès . In: André Laks , Claire Louguet (Ed.): Qu'est-ce que la Philosophie Présocratique? , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2002, p. 200 f.
  68. ↑ On this reception, see the detailed description by Oliver Primavesi: Pre-Socratics in the Latin Middle Ages I: Helinand, Vincenz, the Liber de vita et moribus and the Parvi flores . In: Oliver Primavesi, Katharina Luchner (eds.): The Presocratics from the Latin Middle Ages to Hermann Diels , Stuttgart 2011, pp. 45–110.
  69. See Daniel De Smet: Empedocles Arabus. Une lecture néoplatonicienne tardive . Bruxelles 1998, pp. 38-45, 53f. Cf. Carmela Baffioni : Una "storia della filosofia greca" nell'Islam del XII secolo: II. Anassagora ed Empedocle . In: Elenchos 3, 1982, pp. 87-107, here: 93-107.
  70. Peter Kingsley: Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic . Oxford 1995, pp. 376-379.
  71. Jaap Mansfeld: A Lost Manuscript of Empedocles' Katharmoi . In: Mnemosyne 47, 1994, pp. 79-82; Oliver Primavesi: Lecteurs antiques et byzantins d'Empédocle. De Zénon à Tzétzès . In: André Laks, Claire Louguet (Ed.): Qu'est-ce que la Philosophie Présocratique? , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2002, p. 201.
  72. On the reception of Empedocles in the 16th and 17th centuries, see Sacvan Bercovitch: Empedocles in the English Renaissance . In: Studies in Philology 65, 1968, pp. 67-80.
  73. ^ Theresia Birkenhauer : Legend and Poetry. The death of the philosopher and Holderlin Empedocles . Berlin 1996, pp. 149-197.
  74. See Theresia Birkenhauer: Legend and Poetry . Berlin 1996, p. 96 ff .; Violetta Waibel: Empedocle in Holderlin . In: Giovanni Casertano (Ed.): Empedocle tra poesia, medicina, filosofia e politica . Napoli 2007, pp. 289-309.
  75. Matches and differences between the works of Hölderlin and Arnold is discussed by Fred L. Burwick: Hölderlin and Arnold: Empedocles on Etna . In: Comparative Literature 17, 1965, pp. 24–42.
  76. Monique Dixsaut: L'Empedocle di Nietzsche . In: Giovanni Casertano (Ed.): Empedocle tra poesia, medicina, filosofia e politica . Napoli 2007, pp. 310-330.
  77. Glenn Most : The Stillbirth of a Tragedy: Nietzsche and Empedocles . In: Apostolos L. Pierris (Ed.): The Empedoclean Κόσμος: Structure, Process and the Question of Cyclicity . Part 1, Patras 2005, pp. 31-44.
  78. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff among others: The Greek and Latin literature and language . 3. Edition. Leipzig and Berlin 1912, p. 63.
  79. ^ Romain Rolland: Empedocles of Agrigento and the Age of Hatred , translated by Hans Leo Götzfried, Erlangen 1947.
  80. ^ Sigmund Freud: Collected works . Volume 16, 2nd edition, Frankfurt a. M. 1961, pp. 90-93.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on February 21, 2011 in this version .