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(zĕnŏf`ənēz), c.570–c.480 B.C., pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Colophon. Although thought by some to be the founder of the Eleatic schoolEleatic school
, Greek pre-Socratic philosophical school at Elea, a Greek colony in Lucania, Italy. The group was founded in the early 5th cent. B.C. by Parmenides, its greatest thinker. He denied the reality of change on the ground that things either exist or do not.
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, his thought is only superficially similar to that of ParmenidesParmenides
, b. c.515 B.C., Greek philosopher of Elea, leading figure of the Eleatic school. Parmenides' great contribution to philosophy was the method of reasoned proof for assertions.
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. Xenophanes opposed the anthropomorphic representation of the gods common to the Greeks since Homer and Hesiod. Instead he asserted there is only one god, eternal and immutable but intimately connected with the world. Although interpretations of his thought vary, it was probably a form of pantheism. He was a singer of elegies, a poet, and a satirist who exhorted his hearers to virtue.


See G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, The Presocratic Philosophers (1957).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Xenophanes of Colophon). Lived during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. Greek poet and philosopher. Founder of the Eleatic school.

Xenophanes was the author of elegies. In his parody Satires, he attacked anthropomorphism: “If oxen, horses, and lions had hands wherewith to grave images as men do, then horses would portray gods like unto horses, oxen would portray gods like unto oxen” (Dosokratiki, part 1, Kazan, 1914, p. 111). In contrast to the anthropomorphic gods of the Greek popular religion, Xenophanes posited a single god who did not resemble man either in his appearance or thoughts. Xenophanes created a whole cosmogony that was typical of pre-Socratic philosophers: “From earth all things are and to earth all things return” (ibid., p. 113). Among the numerous motifs of a natural-philosophical, critical-mythological, and poetic nature, the notion of the continuity, unity, eternity, indestructibility, and immutability of being occurs consistently in the extant fragments of Xenophanes’ work. This notion undoubtedly exerted a decisive influence on the whole Eleatic school.


Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, vol. 1, 9th ed. Berlin, 1960. (Greek text with German translation by H. Diels.)


Mandes, M. I. Eleaty. Odessa, 1911. Pages 45–100.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?570--?480 bc, Greek philosopher and poet, noted for his monotheism and regarded as a founder of the Eleatic school
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References in periodicals archive ?
1 -- Felder, 1867) Bolla Mabille, 1903 Bolla brennus (Godman & Salvin, 1896) 14 8 Heliopetes Billberg, 1820 Heliopetes alana (Reakirt, 1868) 10 -- Pyrgus Hubner, 1819 Pyrgus oileus (Linnaeus, 1767) 3 -- Pythonides Hubner, 1819 Pythonides zera (Butler, 1870) 1 -- Staphylus Godman & Salvin, 1896 Staphylus ascalaphus (Staudinger, 1876) -- 4 Xenophanes Godman & Salvin, 1895 Xenophanes tryxus (Stoll, 1780) 6 2 HESPERIINAE Ancyloxypha Felder, 1863 *Ancyloxypha arene (W.H.
Xenophanes (late 6 (th)-5 (th) century BCE) fought against pseudo-science and was, perhaps, the first to spell out the relativity of a belief: "If a horse or an ox could paint a picture, their gods would look like a horse or an ox." Sixteen centuries later, Al-Ma'arri (973-1057), the Arab poet-rationalist, agreed, asserting that the "true believers" in mosques and cloisters merely blindly follow the local habits: "Had they been born among Magians or Sabians, they would have become Magians or Sabians."
Among their topics are Aeneas Sylvius Picolomini and Leonardo Bruni's translation of Aristotle's Politics, the Byzantine social elite and the market economy from the 11th to the middle 15th century, Renaissance sources in medieval mirrors for princes: Petrarch and Andreas Pannonius, the quest for certainty in fact and faith: Pierre-Daniel Huet and Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum, the reception of Xenophanes' B34 in heathen and Christian antiquity and its sequel in Byzantine thought, and notes from a nominalist in a new incunabulum by Symphorien Champier.
--, 1987, "Reason, Xenophanes and the Homeric Gods", The Kenyon Review, vol.
(24) Xenophanes famously denounced mythological tales as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1.22), and similar language is used by later authors in similar contexts; Plutarch, for instance, uses the same word to refer to a story he deems less than reliable.
Although the rule of reason was anticipated by Presocratic philosophers such as Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Anaxagoras, Plato was the first to articulate it through a series of principles:
Ethiopians were black and flat-nosed in Xenophanes; black with the wooliest hair of all mankind in Herodotus; black, flat-nosed, and woolly-haired in Diodorus; and in the Moretum described with the detail and accuracy of later anthropological classifications of the so-called Negroid type.
Several classical ancient thinkers--including Xenophanes, Socrates, Plato, (126) Aristotle, (127) Musonius Rufus, (128) and Plutarch (129)--developed ethical frameworks that found special value in bonds embodied in coitus and uniquely apt for family life.
X Yanguna spatiosa (Hewitson, 1870) X X Xenophanes tryxus (Stoll, 1780) X AGRADECIMIENTOS