A wood engraving of Empedocles and the four elements/roots.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: Empedocles of Acragas - The Pre-Socratic Philosopher with a Sense of Style

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Diogenes also quotes from another writer, Hippobotus, who records that Empedocles took his ‘godhood’ very seriously, and sought to establish it as a fact, an undertaking that would ultimately end in his death:

“He rose up and went away as if he were going to mount Aetna; and that when he arrived at the crater of fire he leaped in, and disappeared, wishing to establish a belief that he had become a God. But afterwards the truth was detected by one of his slippers having been dropped. For he used to wear slippers with brazen soles.”

Mount Aetna (1843) by Thomas Cole.

Mount Aetna (1843) by Thomas Cole. ( Public Domain )

This version ends the story of Empedocles, a Pre—Socratic “Jack of all Trades,” in a style very much matching the way he lived his dramatic life.

Featured image: A wood engraving of Empedocles ( CC BY 4.0 ) and the four elements/roots. ( Carl Milner/Flickr )

By: Ḏḥwty


Campbell, G., 2015. Empedocles (c. 492—432 B.C.E.). [Online]
Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/empedocl/#SH4b

Diogenes Laertius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers: Life of Empedocles [Online]

[Yonge, C. D. (trans.), 1853. Diogenes Laertius’ The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers: Life of Empedocles .]

Available at: http://www.classicpersuasion.org/pw/diogenes/dlempedocles.htm

European Graduate School, 2012. Empedocles - Biography. [Online]
Available at: http://www.egs.edu/library/empedocles/biography/

Mastin, L., 2008. Empedocles. [Online]
Available at: http://www.philosophybasics.com/philosophers_empedocles.html

McKirahan, R. D., 2010. Philosophy Before Socrates. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc..

Parry, R., 2012. Empedocles. [Online]
Available at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/empedocles/

Stamatellos, G., 2006. Empedocles of Acragas. [Online]
Available at: http://www.philosophy.gr/presocratics/empedocles.htm

www.crystalinks.com, 2015. Empedocles. [Online]
Available at: http://www.crystalinks.com/empedocles.html


If you really want to know something about Empedocles and what he meant, you may like to read "Reality" by Peter Kingsley. Empedocles, who lived 2500 years ago, is his teacher and one of the people who conciously created this Western civilisation, which we live in the death throes of...

SJDF's picture

Sound's like a solid good intention's kind of guy,with a good morel code of engaging anyone wherever he went, it would be nice to see more people take responsibility and ownership for the word's & action's inflected on others instead of endless finger pointing, witch is a kin to circular argument's.

Maybe I'm a reincarnation of this guy. I've never heard of him before yet his ideas are exactly what I have been personally writing about in my journal for the last few years. The only difference is my use of terminology.

To bad we don't have any great philosophers any longer. The Fundamentalists on both sides (christian & Atheist) have drowned them all out.

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