Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers (English) (XML Header) [word count] [lemma count] [Diog. Laert.].
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Seven and sixty are now the years that have been tossing my cares up and down the land of Greece ; and there were then twenty and five years more from my birth up, if I know how to speak truly about these things.

He holds that there are four elements of existent things, and worlds unlimited in number but not overlapping [in time]. Clouds are formed when the vapour from the sun is carried upwards and lifts them into the surrounding air. 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 being is doomed to perish, and that the soul is breath. note


He also said that the mass of things falls short of thought ; and again that our encounters with tyrants should be as few, or else as pleasant, as possible. When Empedocles remarked to him that it is impossible to find a wise man, "Naturally," he replied, "for it takes a wise man to recognize a wise man." Sotion says that he was the first to maintain that all things are incognizable, but Sotion is in error. note

One of his poems is The Founding of Colophon, and another The Settlement of a Colony at Elea in Italy, making 2000 lines in all. He flourished about the 60th Olympiad. note That he buried his sons with his own hands like Anaxagoras note is stated by Demetrius of Phalerum in his work On Old Age and by Panaetius the Stoic in his book Of Cheerfulness. He is believed to have been sold into slavery by [... and to have been set free by] the Pythagoreans Parmeniscus and Orestades : so Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia. There was also another Xenophanes, of Lesbos, an iambic poet.

Such were the "sporadic" philosophers.

9.3Chapter 3. PARMENIDES note [flor. c. 500 B.C.] 9.3.21

Parmenides, a native of Elea, son of Pyres, was a pupil of Xenophanes (Theophrastus in his Epitome makes him a pupil of Anaximander). note Parmenides, however, though he was instructed by Xenophanes, was no follower of his. According to Sotion note he also associated with Ameinias the Pythagorean, who was the son of Diochaetas and a worthy gentleman though poor. This Ameinias he was more inclined to follow, and on his death he built a shrine to him, being himself of illustrious birth and possessed of great wealth ; moreover it was Ameinias and not Xenophanes who led him to adopt the peaceful life of a student.

He was the first to declare that the earth is spherical and is situated in the centre of the universe. He held that there were two elements, fire and earth, and that the former discharged the function of a craftsman, the latter of his material. 9.3.22 The generation of man proceeded from the sun as first cause ; heat and cold, of which all things consist, surpass the sun itself. Again he held that soul and mind are one and the same, as Theophrastus mentions in his Physics, where he is setting forth the tenets of almost all the schools. He divided his philosophy into two parts dealing the one with truth, the other with opinion. Hence he somewhere says note :

Thou must needs learn all things, as well the unshakeable heart of well-rounded truth as the opinions of mortals in which there is no sure trust. note

Our philosopher too commits his doctrines to verse just as did Hesiod, Xenophanes and Empedocles. He made reason the standard and pronounced sensations to be inexact. At all events his words are note :

And let not long-practised wont force thee to tread this path, to be governed by an aimless eye, an echoing ear and a tongue, but do thou with understanding bring the muchcontested issue to decision.


Hence Timon note says of him note: And the strength of high-souled Parmenides, of no diverse opinions, who introduced thought instead of imagination's deceit.

It was about him that Plato wrote a dialogue with the title Parmenides or Concerning Ideas.

He flourished in the 69th Olympiad. note He is believed to have been the first to detect the identity of Hesperus, the evening-star, and Phosphorus, the morning-star ; so Favorinus in the fifth book of his Memorabilia ; but others attribute this to Pythagoras, whereas Callimachus holds that the poem in question was not the work of Pythagoras. Parmenides is said to have served his native city as a legislator : so we learn from Speusippus in his book On Philosophers. Also to have been the first to use the argument known as "Achilles [and the tortoise]" : so Favorinus tells us in his Miscellaneous History.

There was also another Parmenides, a rhetorician who wrote a treatise on his art.

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