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Xenophanes (zĕnŏfˈənēz), c.570–c.480 B.C., pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Colophon. Although thought by some to be the founder of the Eleatic school, his thought is only superficially similar to that of Parmenides. 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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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