Xenophanes

Xenophanean, adj.
/zeuh nof"euh neez'/, n.
c570-c480 B.C., Greek philosopher and poet.

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▪ Greek poet and philosopher
born c. 560 BC, Colophon, Ionia
died c. 478

      Greek poet and rhapsode, religious thinker, and reputed precursor of the Eleatic school of philosophy, which stressed unity rather than diversity and viewed the separate existences of material things as apparent rather than real.

      Xenophanes was probably exiled from Greece by the Persians who conquered Colophon about 546. After living in Sicily for a time and wandering elsewhere in the Mediterranean, he evidently settled at Elea in southern Italy. In one of his poems, which survive only in fragments, he declared that his travels began 67 years earlier, when he was 25; if this is so, he would have been at least 92 at his death.

      Xenophanes' philosophy found expression primarily in the poetry that he recited in the course of his travels. Fragments of his epics reflect his contempt for contemporary anthropomorphism and for popular acceptance of Homeric mythology. Most celebrated are his trenchant attacks on the immorality of the Olympian gods and goddesses. In his elegiac fragments he ridicules the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, condemns the luxuries introduced from the nearby colony of Lydia into Colophon, and advocates wisdom and the reasonable enjoyment of social pleasure in the face of prevalent excess.

      Some critics consider Parmenides (fl. c. 450 BC) as the founder of the Eleatic school, but Xenophanes' philosophy probably anticipated his views. The tradition that Xenophanes founded the school is based primarily on the testimony of Aristotle, whose views Xenophanes also anticipated. Among the few other Greek writers who subsequently mentioned Xenophanes are Plato, who said that “The Eleatic school, beginning with Xenophanes and even earlier, starts from the principle of the unity of all things,” and Theophrastus, who summed up Xenophanes' teaching in the formula “The all is one and the one is God.”

      Xenophanes was less a philosopher of nature in the manner of Parmenides, who looked for abstract principles underlying natural change, than a poet and religious reformer who applied generally philosophical and scientific notions to popular conceptions. His system and critiques of the works of other thinkers appear primitive in comparison with later Eleaticism, which developed its philosophy of appearance and reality into a sophisticated system.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Xenophănes — Xenophănes, der Stifter der Eleatischen Schule (s. d.), aus Kolophon, war ein Zeitgenosse des Pythagoras und Anaximandros. Aus seiner Vaterstadt vertrieben, führte er ein unstetes Wanderleben in Hellas, in Sizilien und Unteritalien, indem er… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • XENOPHANES — Philosophus colophonius, Archelai auditor, scripsit elegtas et iambos contra Hesiodum et Homerum, quae de Diis dixêre improbanda. Floruit Olymp. 60. in Sicilia. quatuor Elementa asseruit, sed mundos innumeros. Laertius, et Strab. l. 14. Item… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Xenophănes — Xenophănes, aus Kolophon, im 6. u. 5. Jahrh. v. Chr., Zeitgenoß des Anaximander u. Pythagoras; verließ sein Vaterland, ging über Ägypten nach Sicilien, Zankle u. Catania, um 536 nach Elea in Unteritalien, wo er die Eleatische Schule gründete; er… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Xenophanes — Xenophănes, griech. Philosoph, Stifter der Eleatischen Schule (s.d.), gest., 90 J. alt, um 470 v. Chr. zu Elea …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Xenophanes — Xenophanes, Philosoph, gebürtig aus Kolophon, ein Zeitgenosse des Pythagoras, wanderte nach der phokäischen Pflanzstadt Elea in Lucanien, gilt als Urheber der eleatischen Philosophie. Er zuerst scheint den pantheistischen Satz, alles sei eins u.… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Xenophanes — [zi näf′ə nēz΄] 570? 480? B.C.; Gr. Eleatic philosopher …   English World dictionary

  • Xenophanes — Büste von Xenophanes Xenophanes von Kolophon (* um 570 v. Chr. in Kolophon; † um 470 v. Chr.) war ein vorsokratischer Philosoph und Dichter der griechischen Antike. Inhaltsverze …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Xenophanes — [http://cougar.eb.com/soundc11/bix/bixxen02.wav Xenophanes] of Colophon (Greek polytonic|Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος (Audio IPA|Ell Xenophanes o Kolofonios.ogg| [ Xenophánes o Kolofoneos ] ); 570 – 480 BC) was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and …   Wikipedia

  • XÉNOPHANES —     Bayle a pris le prétexte de l article Xénophanes pour faire le panégyrique du diable, comme autrefois Simonide, à l occasion d un lutteur qui avait remporté le prix à coups de poing aux jeux olympiques, chanta dans une belle ode les louanges… …   Dictionnaire philosophique de Voltaire

  • Xenophanes — biographical name circa 560 circa 478 B.C. Greek philosopher …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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