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The Transmigration of Souls: From “On Nature” by Empedocles (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2022-04-27
Lingua:English
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Empedocles was born in 494 BC in the Ancient Greek City of Acragas, situated in Sicily. He is considered one of the most important early Greek philosophers, along with Pythagoras and Heracleitus. Greatly influenced by the teachings of Pythagoras and Orpheus, he believed in the transmigration of souls and the equality of all beings. With eternal souls endlessly being born into new bodies, he was of the view that eating animal-people flesh amounted to cannibalism and compared this to parents unknowingly killing their children and children unknowingly killing their parents. Today, we are pleased to present selections from his poetic works “On Nature,” which were translated into English by William Ellery Leonard in the book “The Fragments of Empedocles.”

“But turn their madness, Gods! to the Word. And drain through holy lips the well-spring clear! And many-wooed, O white-armed Maiden-Muse, Thee I approach: O drive and send to me Meek Piety's well-reined chariot of song, So far as lawful is for men to hear, Whose lives are but a day.”

“Nor, having sight, Trust sight no more than hearing will bear out. Trust echoing ear but after having tasted the Word; Note by all ways each thing as 'tis revealed.”

“More will I tell thee too: there is no birth Of all things mortal, nor end in ruinous death; But mingling only and interchange of mixed There is, and birth is but its name with men.”

“Behold her now with mind, and sit not there With eyes astonished, for ‘tis she inborn Remains established in the limbs of men. Through her they cherish thoughts of love, through her Perfect the works of concord, calling her By name Delight or Aphrodite clear. She speeds revolving in the elements, But this no mortal man has ever learned – Hear thou the undelusive course of proof: Behold those elements own equal strength And equal origin; each rules its task; And unto each its primal mode; and each Prevailing conquers with revolving time.”
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