[Flourished about 530 c.e.]

1. THERE is one god, supreme among gods and men; resembling mortals neither in form nor in mind.
2. The whole of him sees, the whole of him thinks, the whole of him hears.
3. Without toil he rules all things by the power of his mind.
4. And he stays always in the same place, nor moves at all, for it is not seemly that he wander about now here, now there.
5. But mortals fancy gods are born, and wear clothes, and have voice and form like themselves.
6. Yet if oxen and lions had hands, and could paint with their hands, and fashion images, as men do, they would make the pictures and images of their gods in their own likeness; horses would make them like horses, oxen like oxen.
(D. 16) Aethiopians if make their gods black and snub-nosed; Thracians give theirs blue eyes and red hair.
34. Xenophanes said it was just as impious to say that the gods are born as to say that they die. For it follows from either view that at some time or other they do not exist.
7. Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all deeds that are a shame and a disgrace among men:
thieving, adultery, fraud.
16. The gods did not reveal all things to men at the start; but, as time goes on, by searching, they discover more and more.
14. There never was, nor ever will be, any man who knows with certainty the things about the gods and about all things which I tell of. For even if he does happen to get most things right, still he himself does not know it. But mere opinions all may have.
15. Let these opinions of mine pass for semblances of truths.
37. (Upon Empedocles remarking to him (Xenophanes) that it was impossible to find a wise man he replied: Very likely; it takes a wise man to know a wise man when he finds one.)
8. From earth to earth,-- the beginning and end of all things.
9. We all sprang from earth and water.
10. All things that come into being and grow are earth and water.
12. The upper limit of the earth we see at our feet, where it strikes against the air; but below it reaches down without limit.
13. The (rainbow) which men call Iris is also by nature a cloud, of aspect purple and red and green.

19. Let one but win a race through fleetness of foot, or be victorious in the pentathlon, there where lies the sacred field of Zeus, in Olympia, hard by the river of Pisas; or let him be victorious in wrestling, or in a bloody boxing match, or in the terrible contest called the pancration,-- in the eyes of the citizens he will be resplendent with glory; he will gain a conspicuous seat of honor in the public assemblies, there will be feasting for him at the public expense, and a gift from his city for a token. Yes, if he should win a chariot race, all these things would fall to his lot, though not so deserving as I am. For our wisdom is better than the strength of men or of horses. This is in truth a most heedless custom; nor is it right thus to prefer strength to precious wisdom.

What if there be among the people a good boxer, or one who excels in the pentathlon, or in wrestling, or in fleetness of foot,-- which is more highly honored than strength in the contests at the games! The city is not on that account one whit better governed. Small profit does the city get out of it, when one is victorious in contests by the banks of the Pisas. That does not enrich the innermost parts of the state.

20. Having learned from the Lydians useless luxuries, what time they were free from hateful servitude, they used to come swaggering into the place of assembly by the thousand, wearing loose mantles all purple-dyed, glorying in their flowing comely hair, and reeking with the odor of curiously compounded perfumes.

Xenophanes thought that a mixture of land and sea came into being, and that in course of time this was resolved into its parts under the influence of the moist element. And he adduces such proofs as these: Fossils are found in the midst of the land and on mountains; and in the quarries of Syracuse the imprints of a fish and of seals have been found; and at Paros the imprint of a sardine deep in stone; and at Malta traces of all sorts of things of the sea. And he says that these were made when, long ago, all things were mud, and the imprint was dried in the mud. And when the earth, having sunk in the sea, becomes mud once more, all men will disappear. Then a new creation will begin. And this change happens to all worlds.

Holy, Holy, HolyThe Philo LibraryHypatia's Bookshelf