Xenophanes

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Xenophanes

(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.

Bibliography

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

Xenophanes

 

(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.

WORKS

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

REFERENCE

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

A. F. LOSEV

Xenophanes

?570--?480 bc, Greek philosopher and poet, noted for his monotheism and regarded as a founder of the Eleatic school