- The Ionians Malcolm Schofield THALES AND OTHERS The Greeks agreed that philosophy had begun with Thales. However they did not know much about his views.1 What survives is mostly a potent legend. Herodotus tells stories of his practical ingenuity, political vision and most famously the skill and learning which enabled him to predict a solar eclipse datable to 585 BC. This feat has been doubted by some modern scholars, but it was not an impossible one for someone familiar with the use of eclipse cycles and fondness for prediction among Babylonian astronomers, as an inhabitant of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor might have become. In Aristophanes the astronomer and inventor Meton— introduced as a character in the drama—dreams up a hare-brained scheme for employing mathematical instruments to measure the air which inspires the comment, ‘the man’s a Thales’ (Birds 1009).2 The use of instruments in determining the behaviour of heavenly bodies constitutes in fact Thales’ best-documented claim to a place in the history of rational enquiry about the natural world. He was believed to have worked out the variable period of the solstices, and to have calculated the height of the pyramids from their shadows and the distance of ships out at sea. Callimachus credits him with ‘measuring’ the Little Bear, as a navigational aid. The name of his associate Anaximander is likewise associated with the ‘discovery’ of the equinox and solstices, or more plausibly with the use of a gnomon or stable vertical rod to mark them, as also with that of ‘hour-markers’. Anaximander is also said to have published the first map of the earth. Some of the accounts supplying this information may embellish or distort. For example, Eudemus’ attempts to attribute knowledge of particular geometrical theorems to Thales on the strength of his efforts at mensuration probably represent (under the guise of Aristotelian history) nothing more than a determination to furnish the geometry of his own day with a suitably ancient and distinguished intellectual pedigree. But the reports on Thales’ and Anaximander’s endeavours in this field are numerous and various enough in date and provenance, and in their gist sufficiently unfanciful, for it to be unreasonable to press doubts about the truth of the picture they convey. These two thinkers were evidently fascinated with measurement, and with the idea of putting to nature— and more especially the heavens—questions which instruments could be employed to answer.3 One other scientific puzzle (as we might now term it) which Thales is reported to have tried to solve is the behaviour of the magnet. Here his style of enquiry was very different. He claimed that magnets have soul: they have the power of moving other bodies without themselves being moved by anything—but that is a characteristic only of things that have soul, i.e. are alive. Heady speculation, not ingenious observation, is now the order of the day. Perhaps the phenomenon of magnetism was presented as one piece of evidence for the more general thesis, ‘All things are full of gods’, which Aristotle at any rate is inclined to interpret in terms of the proposition that there is soul in the universe (i.e. not just in animals).4 In cosmological speculation Thales is presented by Aristotle as a champion of the primacy of water as an explanatory principle. Aristotle writes as though Thales meant by this that water was the material substrate of everything that exists. But the authority on whom he relies for his information, the sophist Hippias of Elis, seems to have mentioned Thales’ view in the context of a survey of opinions about the origin of things. With one exception, to be discussed at length shortly, Aristotle knows nothing else about the water principle. He contents himself with the guess that Thales opted for it because warmth, sperm, nutriment and the life they foster or represent are all functions of moisture.5 The most definite claim Aristotle makes in this connection appears in On the Heavens (II. 13, 294a28–32 [KRS 84]). Others say that the earth rests on water. For this is the most ancient account we have received, which they say was given by Thales the Milesian, that it stays put through floating like a log or some other such thing. To come to terms with this unappealing version of flat-earthism we need to consider two pieces of information relating to Thales’ intellectual grandchild Anaximenes, pupil of Anaximander, both also of Miletus: Anaximenes and Anaxagoras and Democritus say that its [the earth’s] flatness is responsible for it staying put: for it does not cut the air beneath but covers it like a lid, which is evidently what those bodies characterized by flatness do. (Aristotle On the Heavens II.13, 294b13ff. [KRS 150]) The earth is flat, riding upon air; and similarly also sun, moon and the other stars, although they are all fiery, ride upon air on account of their flatness. (Hippolytus Refutation I.7.4 [KRS 151]) Anaximenes is usually reckoned one of the least interesting of the pre-Socratics. What we are told of his cosmological system indicates a theorist deaf to the imaginative a priori reasonings which appear to have motivated many of the ideas of his mentor Anaximander; and Anaximander’s own mentor, Thales, was —as we have been seeing— the pioneer who initiated the whole Ionian tradition of physical speculation, so far as we can tell from the inadequate surviving evidence of his views. Yet in some respects at least Anaximenes was a more influential figure than either of his two predecessors. And this is of crucial importance for our evaluation of the evidence relating to them. Hence the decision to start our enquiry into Thales’ flat-earthism with what we are told about Anaximenes. Anaximenes’ influence is apparent from Aristotle’s testimony about his account of the earth. The two great Ionian cosmologies of the fifth century were propounded by Anaxagoras and the atomists Leucippus and Democritus. There are radical and systematic differences in the explanatory foundations of the two theories. But despite their sophistication in responding to metaphysical and epistemological challenges posed by Parmenides and (at least in the atomists’ case) Zeno, both endeavour to account for a world conceived in terms defined by Anaximenes, as Aristotle’s report (KRS 150, quoted above) makes clear. It is a world in which (a) the earth is taken to be a flat body surrounded by air above and below, (b) bodies fall through the air unless there is some special cause of their not doing so, and (c) flatness is just such a cause. This is a picture of the world far removed from our own heliocentric model, where the earth is (roughly speaking) a spherical object spinning in an elliptical orbit round the sun. In Anaximenes’ version it is not even a geocentric model, because while he imagines the earth as occupying a position between above and below, there is no implication that it is at the centre of a system: the heavenly bodies do not revolve about it, but turn in a circle above it.6 There can be little doubt of the importance Anaximenes attached to theses (a) to (c). As Hippolytus’ evidence in KRS 151 suggests, he applied the same kind of reasoning to account for the appearance of the sun and moon in the heavens. Just as the earth does not fall downwards, so they too are supported by air and hence stay aloft— even when they are not apparent: He says that the stars do not move under the earth, as others have supposed, but round it, just as if a felt cap is being turned round our head; and that the sun is hidden not by passing under the earth, but through being covered by the higher parts of the earth and through its increased distance from us. (Hippolytus Refutation I.7.6 [KRS 156]) Probably the sun and moon at least are conceived of by Anaximenes as bodies.7 That is, though fiery they are forms of earth, just as in Anaxagoras: Anaxagoras notoriously claimed that sun, moon and stars were themselves bodies made of compressed earth, fiery stones (Hippolytus Refutation 1.8.6 [KRS 502]), while the atomists make them ignited complexes of atoms and void (Diogenes Laertius IX. 3 2 [KRS 563]). However these later thinkers agreed in finding in the vortex a mechanism to explain projected revolutions of these bodies, and so without abandoning Anaximenes’ assumption (b) about downward motion could unlike him account for their passing below the earth.8 Another piece of information about Anaximenes’ views on the sun indicates how he supported his thesis (c) that their flatness keeps flat things from falling:9 ‘Anaximenes says that the sun is flat like a leaf (Aetius II.22.1 [KRS 155]). Floating leaves, of course, move about, just as Anaximenes’ sun does. Their flatness prevents not lateral but downward movement. Why the sun, moon and stars rotate but the earth does not is not discussed in the surviving evidence. Now back to Thales: his reported view on the stability of the earth has to be seen within the context of the general theoretical framework we have been describing. Two features of the state of the evidence dictate this conclusion. First, Aristotle’s citation of Thales’ idea comes in a chapter which represents him, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras and Democritus as all upholding one side of the argument in a pre-Socratic debate about the subject (Anaximenes’ ultimate achievement is to have persuaded Aristotle that it was a key subject for the pre- Socratics and his stance the standard one taken by them). Second, Thales himself seems not to have written a book. So the likeliest way for his opinion to have survived will be via a reference to it in the writings of someone close to him in time: presumably either a member of his own circle such as Anaximander or Anaximenes, or—as I shall be suggesting later—a critic such as Xenophanes.10 To put the point a bit more sharply, we can perceive how Thales’ view about the earth was received, both around his own time and in the pages of Aristotle, a lot better than we can form reliable conjectures as to how it fitted into whatever intellectual schemes he himself elaborated. In large part this is a function of the elusiveness in history of the merely oral. One guess might be that Thales had already anticipated Anaximenes in conceiving of the earth and the sun, moon and stars as comparable phenomena requiring to have their differing patterns of motion and stability explained by the same sorts of physical mechanisms. At the other extreme he might be interpreted as a figure much closer to the myth-tellers of the ancient Near East, preoccupied as they were with the origin of the earth and its physical relationship with primeval water, but not seeing a need to ask analogous physical questions about the heavenly bodies, despite his intense interest in determining and measuring their behaviour.11 The psalmist believes that Jahweh ‘stretched out the earth above the waters’ (136:6), ‘founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods’ (24:2). Similarly, in the epic of Gilgamesh Marduk builds a raft on the surface of the original waters, and on it in turn a hut of reeds, which is what the earth is. Perhaps Thales’ originality consisted only in introducing an opinion borrowed from sources such as these into Greece, Homer having had the earth surrounded by the river Oceanos but stretching down into murky Tartarus, and Hesiod being certain that its creation as ‘firm seat of all things for ever’ (Theogony 117 [KRS 31]) precedes that of heaven and sea. It is not clear on this second construction of Thales’ view how much relative importance he himself need have attached to the issue of the stability of the earth. His main concern might well have been the general primacy of water in the explanation of things, with the suggestion that it is what supports the earth simply one among several consequential proposals, and conceivably accorded no special significance. Certainly the broad idea of water as first principle is what Aristotle focuses on in his more fundamental presentation of pre-Socratic physical theories in Metaphysics A, following a tradition of interpretation already visible in Plato and apparently established by the sophist Hippias.12 The evidence is rather stronger that Anaximander took the question of the stability of the earth to be a major problem. It consists principally of an extraordinarily interesting but frustratingly controversial passage of Aristotle from the same chapter of On the Heavens that we have been exploiting already. Aristotle takes Anaximander to be a proponent of an entirely different kind of position from that represented in different ways by Thales and Anaximenes: There are some who say, like Anaximander among the ancients, that it [the earth] stays put because of likeness. For it is appropriate for that which is established in the middle and is related all alike to the extremities not to move up rather than down or sideways; but it is impossible for it to make a motion in opposite directions; so of necessity it stays put. (Aristotle On the Heavens II.13, 295b10ff. [KRS 123]) The theory Aristotle ascribes to Anaximander has been described as ‘a brilliant leap into the realms of the mathematical and the a priori’ [KRS p. 134]. It is often taken to constitute the first recorded appeal to a Principle of Sufficient Reason. There is apparently no preoccupation with the propensity of bodies to fall, or with the conditions—flatness, buoyancy of the medium—under which that propensity can be counter-acted. It looks instead as though Anaximander subscribes to a fully-fledged geocentric conception of the universe, and in appealing to a sophisticated indifference principle makes the explicit and equally sophisticated assumption that any body at the centre of a sphere will have no propensity to move from it in any particular direction. The result—if we can trust what Aristotle says—was a highly ingenious and original solution to what must presumably have been perceived as an important puzzle.13 But doubt has been cast on Aristotle’s reliability on this occasion.14 There are two principal reasons for the doubt. First is that Anaximander was, like Thales and Anaximenes, a flat-earther. Although he abandoned Thales’ log analogy, he compared the shape of the earth to the drum of a column, much wider than it is deep, emphasizing—presumably against the Homeric picture—that it has both an upper and a lower surface.15 But the hypothesis of a spherical earth is what would fit much more comfortably with the theory Aristotle is reporting.16 Flatearthism more naturally presupposes the flat earth dynamics expressed in Anaximenes’ theses (a) to (c). Second, Aristotle makes it clear that it was not just Anaximander who subscribed to the indifference theory. On one guess only the initial claim that the earth stays put because of ‘likeness’ reflects Anaximander’s own formulation. Attention is often drawn to the probability that Aristotle also has in mind a much later and no doubt more readily accessible text, namely the account of the earth put in Socrates’ mouth at the end of Plato’s Phaedo. Socrates is there made to claim that he has been convinced by ‘someone’: presumably a tacit acknowledgement of a pre-Socratic source, although scholars have never been able to agree on the likeliest candidate. The key sentences are these: Well, I have been persuaded first that, if it is in the middle of the heavens, being round in shape, then it has no need of air to prevent it from falling, nor of any other similar necessity. The likeness of the heaven itself to itself everywhere and the equal balance of the earth itself are sufficient to hold it fast. For something equally balanced, set in the middle of something all alike, will be unable to tilt any more or any less in any direction, but being all alike it will stay put untilted. (Plato Phaedo 108e–109a) Should we accept that Aristotle is mostly drawing on Plato, not Anaximander? These arguments against ascribing the indifference theory—and with it rejection of the dynamics of flat-earthism—to Anaximander are to be resisted. I consider first the idea that Aristotle’s formulation of the theory derives largely from the Phaedo text. There are clearly similarities in language and thought between it and Aristotle’s account of the indifference theory, notably the stress on ‘likeness’ as a cause. There is equally a striking divergence. Plato makes the stability of the earth a function of two things, its position at the centre of a spherical heaven and its equilibrium in that position. Aristotle by contrast speaks only of the earth’s position relative to the extremities, but makes what in Plato functions as an indifference inference from equilibrium serve as the argument that it cannot move position. At first sight it may look as though the lack of fit between the two formulations has no effect on the character or cogency of the reasoning, with Aristotle simply extracting its essentials in economical fashion. There is in fact a very significant difference. Consider first the Platonic argument from equilibrium. This makes crucial appeal to the weight of the earth. It supposes that a rigid body which is ‘like’—in the sense that its weight is equally distributed throughout its mass—will stay put in balance under certain conditions, namely if poised about a central fulcrum. Then its weight on one side of the fulcrum will give it the same reason to tilt in that direction as its weight on the other side to tilt in the other direction. It cannot tilt in both directions at once. So it cannot tilt at all. Plato’s claim is that the earth is just such a body, and that because it occupies a position at the centre of a symmetrical cosmos, it is indeed poised about a central fulcrum. He infers that it will not tilt. So Plato is clearly presenting a physical argument. Aristotle’s version of the indifference theory, by contrast, is abstractly conceived, and makes no specific physical assumptions. It assumes only something equidistant from its extremities; and then claims that such a thing could have no sufficient reason to travel in one plane towards the extremities that was not a sufficient reason for it to travel there in the same plane in the opposite direction. Nothing is said about what sort of reason might count as a sufficient reason. We might think of physical reasons, e.g. gravitational attraction of the heavens; but nothing precludes the possibility that something purely mathematical, e.g. asymmetry, is envisaged. Perhaps this possibility is positively favoured by the mathematical language in which the assumption underpinning this version of the theory is couched and by the absence of reference to physical considerations. If Aristotle is basing himself principally on the Phaedo passage, he can only be offering a vague and general summary of Plato’s reasoning. It is more plausible to supposed that he is actually relying more on a quite different formulation of the indifference theory—in Anaximander’s book. At this point it is appropriate to mention an important further piece of evidence about Anaximander’s view of why the earth stays put: The earth is in mid-air [lit. ‘aloft’, meteo_ron] not controlled by anything,17 but staying put because of its like distance from all things. (Hippolytus Refutation I.6.3 [KRS 124]) Scholars are in agreement that Hippolytus in this part of his work is following Theophrastus’ account of early Greek physics, and that Theophrastus’ treatment of the subject follows Aristotle in general approach. Theophrastus was often more accurate, however, when it came to details. In the present instance it is clear that Hippolytus’ testimony broadly supports Aristotle’s interpretation. It suggests that Anaximander spoke not just of ‘likeness’ in general terms, which might be compatible with either an argument from symmetry or an equilibrium argument. The more specific expression ‘like distance from all things’ definitely favours the Aristotelian account. Its similarity to Aristotle’s phrase ‘related all alike to the extremities’ suggests that at this point Aristotle was recalling something in Anaximander rather than in Plato. And while it does not preclude the possibility that Anaximander appealed to equilibrium, it gives it no support. (Equally Hippolytus does not attest explicit use of indifference reasoning on his part; perhaps this was one element in Aristotle’s report derived from Plato alone, even if it was reasonable to think it implicit in what Anaximander said.) Against the testimony of Aristotle and Hippolytus there is some actual counter-evidence. It consists in a claim apparently deriving from the Aristotelian commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias which implies that Anaximander did indeed subscribe to flat-earthist dynamics: But Anaximander was of the opinion that the earth stays put both because of the air that holds it up and because of equal balance and likeness. (Simplicius On the Heavens 532.13–14) This comment, at the end of Simplicius’ discussion of Aristotle’s introduction of the indifference theory, is usually taken as representing his own account of Anaximander. But the context suggests rather a tendentious bit of argumentation by Alexander in support of his view that Plato is Aristotle’s main target in this passage of the Physics. There is no reason to think that Alexander’s claim has any real authority.18 None the less from his representation of Anaximander an ingenious account of why the earth stays put could be constructed. An Alexandrian Anaximander shares the view natural to flat-earthers that the earth must rest on something. He conceives reasons for thinking that it must also be positioned mid-air. And he infers that so positioned it must be in equilibrium. The difficulty is then to explain how a heavy body, the earth, can be supported by a light body, the air. The idea of the fulcrum of a balance gives an elegant solution to the problem. For a fulcrum can support a body many times heavier than itself.19 How are we to choose between Aristotle’s more radical indifference theorist, who abandons the idea of a support for the earth in favour of the mathematics of symmetry, and the mainstream Ionian physicist I have just reconstructed on the basis of Alexander via Plato’s equilibrium theory? A single sentence in Hippolytus is little enough to help decide the issue of whether it was Anaximander’s flat-earthism or his fascination with symmetry and a priori thinking which determined his view on what kept the earth stable. But follow Hippolytus we should. Of course, Anaximander ought on this story to have seen that a spherical, not a cylindrical, earth was what suited his position. This does not however constitute much of an objection to the truth of the story. We have simply to concede that Anaximander is a revolutionary who carries some old-fashioned baggage with him. That is the general way with revolutions. ANAXIMANDER Anaximander wrote a book in prose—one of the first books in prose ever composed—which contained an ambitious narrative of the origins of the world, beginning with the earth and the heavens, and ending with the emergence of animal and particularly human life. It was evidently conceived as a sort of naturalistic version of Hesiod’s Theogony. His act of committing his thoughts to papyrus was enormously influential. It effectively defined the shape and contents of Greek philosophical cosmology for centuries to come, establishing a tradition which might be regarded as culminating in Plato’s Timaeus or—translated to Rome —in Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things.20 Anaximander made the originating principle of things something he called the apeiron, the boundless or (as some would prefer to translate) the indefinite. His possible reasons for selecting the apeiron for this role were the one Anaximandrian topic which really interested Aristotle.21 Aristotle’s influence on Theophrastus and through him on subsequent ancient accounts of Anaximander’s views was, as on so many other topics, enormous; so the issue dominates important parts of the doxography also.22 Much modern scholarship in its turn has responded by making the apeiron the principal focus of its own struggles to understand Anaximander and the one surviving fragment of his work. What has been amassed is largely a tapestry of unrewarding and controversial guesswork— unsurprisingly, when as likely as not Aristotle himself was just guessing. There is accordingly a lot to be said for beginning (or rather continuing) an account of Anaximander’s thought by looking at evidence which offers a more direct insight into his characteristic intellectual style. Two reports that pay particular dividends in this regard are the following: He says that something capable of generating hot and cold from the eternal was separated off at the genesis of this world, and that a sphere of flame grew round the air surrounding the earth, like bark round a tree. When this was torn off and closed off into certain circles, the sun and the moon and the stars were constituted. (Eusebius’ extract 2 from [Plutarch] Miscellanies [KRS 121]) Anaximander says the first animals were born in moisture, enclosed in thorny barks; but as their age increased they came out on the drier part, and when the bark had broken all round they lived a different kind of life for a short time. (Aetius V.19.4 [KRS 133]) These texts, by different late authors, are thought to depend ultimately on Theophrastus. They contain much that is obscure, but exhibit a patent similarity, which must be due to Anaximander himself.23 Although one concerns happenings at the beginning of his story, the other a process near its end, both exploit a common analogy: the formation of bark round a tree. Moreover the production of two significant but utterly different features of the world—sun, moon and stars in the heavens, and animal life on earth—is explained by essentially the same mechanism. First one kind of stuff encloses another in the manner of bark, then the bark-like material breaks off or around and new forms develop or appear. Despite the biological character of the analogy, the explanatory pattern itself appears to be conceived in terms of the interplay of elemental physical forces.24 At the origins of the world the hot (in the form of flame) encases the cold (air), and the breaking of the casing is presumably to be understood as due to the pressure caused by the expansion of a gas increasing in temperature. Whether the actual designation of the forces in question in abstract language as hot and cold derives from Anaximander himself or (more probably) is the work of Peripatetic commentary does not much affect the diagnosis. It is not so clear from the Aetius passage that the emergence of animals in their mature forms is the outcome of a similar process. But fortunately another text (Hippolytus Refutation, I.6.6 [KRS 136]) informs us that the sun’s activity in evaporating moisture is what brings animals into being. If as seems likely this relates to the phenomenon described by Aetius, we are perhaps to think of the drying out of the casing in which animals are first enclosed. The claim will be that this physical effect of heat then makes it break up all around. From the evidence of KRS 121 and 133 we can already infer that Anaximander sees the world as a systematic unity sustained by dynamic transformations that are thoroughly intelligible to the human mind. This must be why he assumes that momentous events, veiled in obscurity, such as the origins of the cosmos itself and of life within it, can be reconstructed as versions of the more local physical processes with which we are familiar from our own experience. This too must be why he expects two such different sorts of originating event to exhibit similar patterns; and why he believes not just that the transformations involved will be aptly illustrated by analogy, but that one and the same analogy, albeit differently treated in the two cases, will provide that illumination. Consideration of further evidence confirms the picture of Anaximander’s Weltanschauung that is beginning to emerge. Here are two texts which give more details of the circles that account for the sun, moon and stars: The stars come into being as a circle of fire separated off from the fire in the world, and enclosed by air. There are breathing-holes, certain pipe-like passages, at which the stars show themselves. So when the breathing-holes are blocked off eclipses occur; and the moon appears now to be waxing, now waning, according to the blocking or opening of the passages. The circle of the sun is 27 times the earth, that of the moon 18 times. The sun is highest, the circles of the fixed stars lowest. (Hippolytus Refutation I.6.4–5 [KRS 125]) Anaximander says there is a circle 28 times the earth, like a chariot wheel, with its rim hollow and full of fire. It lets the fire appear through an orifice at one point, as through the nozzle of a bellows; and this is the sun. (Aetius II.20.1 [KRS 126]) Again there is much that is opaque and puzzling in these reports, as well as a number of features that by now will not be unexpected. The search for system is immediately evident in the ingenious hypothesis of a nested sequence of concentric circles, which reduces the apparently chaotic variety of the heavens to the simplest scheme of geometrical and arithmetical relationships: circles and multiples of the number 9. Once again the idea of one stuff (air) enclosing another (fire) is fundamental to explanation of the transformations Hippolytus mentions, namely eclipses and the phases of the moon. Making the sun and moon functions of circles of air and fire is, of course, designed primarily to account for their diurnal revolutions and the alternation of day and night. Making them circles of air and fire, not bodies, enables Anaximander to avoid the puzzle of why they do not fall, which Anaximenes and his successors were obliged to address. All in all it is a beautifully economical theory. As with his account of origins, Anaximander recommends it by vivid analogy, taken in this case from the familiar contexts of forge and stadium: a bellows and its nozzle, the wheel and its rim. The physical if not the mathematical patterns Anaximander has so far invoked are specified also in his accounts of wind, rain (deficiently preserved), thunder and lightning: Winds come about when the finest vapours of the air are separated off, and move when massed together; rains from the vapour sent up from the earth, as a result of [?] their being [?] [melted] by the sun; lightnings when wind breaks out and divides the clouds. (Hippolytus Refutation I.6.7 [KRS 129]) Anaximander says wind is a flow of air, when the finest and the wettest parts of it are set in motion or melted [producing rain] by the sun. (Aetius III.7.1) On thunder, lightning, thunderbolts, whirlwinds and typhoons: Anaximander says these all occur as a result of the wind. When it is enclosed in thick cloud and bursts out forcibly because of its fineness and lightness, then the tearing makes the noise and the rift the flash, in contrast to the blackness of the cloud. (Aetius III.1.2 [KRS 130]) Fundamental to this explanatory scheme is once again the interaction of fire (here in particular the sun) and air (conceived of as moist vapour). The process of separation off had earlier been identified as the cause of the formation from the apeiron of an air-enclosing ball of fire, which then in turn separated off to be enclosed in rings of air. Now it is made responsible for the production of winds. They are themselves taken to be the root cause of a further range of meteorological phenomena, involving further enveloping and subsequent rupturing of envelopes. If as we would expect analogies were introduced to reinforce the persuasiveness of the explanations, these are now lost to us. The action of wind, conceived of as fine dry air bursting through the wet dark air of cloud to generate the bright flash of lightning, has understandably provoked the comment that, in Anaximander’s system, the sun and moon resemble a lightning flash of indefinite duration.25 More generally, Anaximander’s ideas tend to prompt in Whiggish readers a reaction compounded of admiration and incredulity. For example, his conjectures about the origins of life (on which more later) are regularly felt to be ‘brilliant’ or ‘remarkable’.26 By contrast his meteorology now seems merely quaint, while it is his astronomical system which strikes the modern mind as more grandly and perversely inadequate. Some of the gaps or implausibilities in Anaximander’s explanations in this area are no doubt due to the deficiencies of the surviving evidence. Thus given the efforts he and Thales seem to have made to measure the solstices, it is improbable that he had nothing to say about the annual movement of the sun in the ecliptic (to use a later vocabulary).27 We do in fact have a report going back to Theophrastus, but queried by some scholars, which suggests that he attributed the solstices to the sun-circle’s need for replenishment from rising vapours: when these become now too dense in the north, now too depleted in the south, then— we may imagine—periodic changes of direction occur in the motion of the circle.28 Anaximander’s views on the ‘stars’ other than the sun and moon are incompletely and inconsistently recorded. For example, one text talks implausibly, in terms reminiscent of Aristotelian astronomy, of spheres carrying stars, not just of circles; another suggests that the circles nearest the earth accounted for the planets as well as the fixed stars. It is obscure what Anaximander had in mind by talking of circles in the plural with regard to the fixed stars. One attractive interpretation proposes, for example, three celestial belts or zones dividing up the night sky, as in Baylonian astronomy. There is difficulty, however, in understanding how he could accommodate the circumpolar stars—which do not set—in his scheme, where all circles are to be construed as revolving round the earth. This may be one of the reasons why Anaximenes preferred his ‘felt cap’ model of the heavens.29 It is a feature of Anaximander’s system itself, not lacunae in the doxography, which inflicts the most dramatic damage to his standing as even a primitive astronomer. This is his decision to put the fixed stars closer to earth than the moon and the sun. It is not an unintelligible position. The sequence sun-moonstars- earth is found in Persian religious texts perhaps roughly contemporaneous in origin. In the Avesta the soul of an infant comes down from the ‘beginningless lights’ through a series of lights decreasing in size and intensity to be born on earth.30 This corresponds with the implications of Anaximander’s own view of physical process as a constant interaction between fire and cold moisture: if the earth is the principal location of one of these forces, it makes sense that the sun, as the main concentration of the other, should be positioned further from the earth than the lesser fires of the stars. Yet how can Anaximander account for the fact that the moon hides any constellation it passes across? Charitable answers have been attempted by scholars on his behalf, but perhaps it is better just to recall that speculation’s negotiations with experience have always been a tricky and often an embarrassing matter for science. The biggest disputed and unanswered questions in Anaximander’s system are those to do with his identification of the apeiron as first principle and its relationship with the world. His silences here do him rather more credit. Caution about the big bang and what preceded it seems a thoroughly rational stance. I guess that Anaximander conceives the apeiron as the beyond: what necessarily lies outside our experience of space and time, pictured as stretching away boundlessly outside the limits of the cosmos which it encloses.31 If that cosmos came into being, the natural supposition would be that it did so from the apeiron. How and why are another matter, on which—as also on the essential nature of the apeiron itself—it would inevitably be more difficult to find reasonable things to say. None the less it is clear that Anaximander did say something on these issues. On one of the rare occasions when Aristotle mentions Anaximander by name he attributes to him the thesis that the apeiron is immortal and indestructible. These were traditionally the attributes of divinity, and in fact the same passage strongly implies that the apeiron not only encloses but also governs (literally ‘steers’) all things: The infinite is thought to be principle of the rest, and to enclose all things and steer all, as all those say who do not postulate other causes over and above the infinite, such as mind or love. This is the divine. For it is immortal and indestructible, as Anaximander says and most of the physicists. (Aristotle Physics 203b7ff. [KRS 108]) Presumably Anaximander relies on the inference: no cosmic order without an ordering intelligence. On how it exercises its directive role he seems to have made no guesses. From Theophrastan sources we learn further that there is eternal motion in or of the apeiron, which is what causes the separation from it of opposite physical forces (namely those forces that are invoked in the astronomy, meteorology, etc.). Again we may detect an inference to the best explanation: no creation without activity before creation. Aristotle finds here a clue to the nature of the apeiron. If opposites are separated from it, then it must itself be something intermediate in character, and indeed on that account a suitable choice of first principle. This is a conclusion dictated by Aristotle’s enthusiasm for pigeonholing his predecessors’ opinions. It is not attested as Anaximander’s view by the more careful Theophrastus.32 The thesis about eternal motion is sometimes formulated in the sources as the proposition that it causes the separation off of the world, or rather of worlds in the plural; in Theophrastus’ words, probably reproducing Anaximander’s own language: ‘the worlds (ouranoi) and the orderings (kosmoi) within them’. The doxographers assimilate his view to the atomist theory of an infinity of worlds all subject to destruction as well as creation. This is probably anachronistic, but— contrary to what some interpreters have argued—right in general thrust.33 We should suppose that the hypothesis of eternal motion generates in its turn a further bold conjecture, exploiting indifference reasoning of just the kind the atomists were to make their own speciality: 1 Eternal motion in the apeiron is necessary to generate a universe. 2 But its activity provides no more reason for a universe to be generated here and now than for one to be generated there and then. 3 So if it generates a universe here and now, it also generates a universe there and then. 4 Therefore it generates a plurality of universes. One strain in the doxography suggests that Anaximander did not merely say that the first principle is the infinite, but that it must be the infinite—otherwise coming into being would give out. This carries conviction: Aetius introduces the report as his evidence for the more far-reaching and dubious claim that Anaximander posited (like the atomists) the birth and death of an infinite number of worlds. Without mentioning Anaximander, Aristotle too cites the need for an infinite supply as one of the reasons people give for introducing the infinite as a principle. He objects: Nor, in order that coming into being may not give out, is it necessary for perceptible body to be actually infinite. It is possible for the destruction of one thing to be the generation of another, the sum of things being limited. (Aristotle Physics 208a8ff. [KRS 107]) This excellent point ought to tell against the idea, parroted by the doxographers, that Anaximander envisaged the destruction of worlds as well as their generation, at any rate if he did endorse the infinite supply argument. Only if worlds are not recycled is there a requirement for the apeiron to meet an infinite need. It looks in fact as if Theophrastus, in assimilating Anaximander to the atomists, specifically searched for evidence that he like them believed in the ultimate destruction of all worlds, and found it hard to discover any. His citation of the famous surviving fragment of Anaximander’s book is best interpreted as a misguided attempt to produce such evidence. The relevant passage of Simplicius, reproducing his account, runs as follows: He says that the principle is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but some different boundless nature, from which all the worlds come to be and the orderings within them. And out of those things from which the generation is for existing things, into these again their destruction comes about ‘according to what is right and due, for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time’—using these rather poetical terms to speak of them. (Simplicius Physics 24–16ff. [KRS 101, 110]) A great deal of scholarly ink has been spilled over this text, and there is little to show by way of definitive results. The one important thing the best critical work has established is that the fragment (indicated above by the quotation marks) refers to a stable reciprocal relationship between opposites within a developed or developing cosmos, not to the cataclysmic reabsorption of a world or its constituents back into the apeiron.34 Most interpreters also believe that Theophrastus, however, vainly attempts to make the fragment serve just such a cataclysmic function, so as to be applicable to the relationship between a world and the apeiron. Quite how he hoped to work the trick is less clear. The diagnosis I am suggesting notes that whereas Simplicius’ first sentence concerns generation of worlds from the apeiron, the second is introduced by a remark focused on destruction, which despite its plurals (‘out of those…into these’) looks designed to furnish a balancing comment on the death of worlds. Yet the plurals give the game away: the only evidence Theophrastus can actually offer to support the implication of cosmic destruction is a statement of Anaximander about the effect of opposites on each other.35 No one who has worked their way through Anaximander’s astronomy, meteorology and biology will have any difficulty in identifying the forces which ‘pay retribution to each other for their injustice’. Simplicius takes it that these are the four elements. This Aristotelian analysis is, as often, anachronistic and overschematic. What Anaximander must principally have in mind is the alternating domination of moisture over fire and fire over moisture which he makes the key to his account of origins, and which he probably thought exemplified above all by the regular pattern of the seasons in the world as it has now developed. This essentially stable pattern, while giving no basis for expectation of cosmic destruction, can accommodate the possibility of further fundamental changes, as it has admitted of them in the past. The clearest example is supplied by Anaximander’s less than satisfactorily documented views on the changing relationship of land and sea. In his Meteorology Aristotle sketches a theory of the gradual evaporation of the moisture on the earth’s surface by the sun (353b6ff. [KRS 132]). Originally the whole surface of the earth was wet. Then the drying action of the sun produced the present state of things: part of the surface remains wet and constitutes sea, but the moisture elsewhere is subject to evaporation into the atmosphere. In future the same process will cause the sea to shrink in extent and eventually to dry up completely. Alexander’s commentary on the Meteorology tells us (67.11) that Theophrastus attributed this theory to Anaximander (and subsequently Diogenes of Apollonia), so making him look to a Whiggish eye like a precursor of modern geology. It is tempting to connect the account of the original state of the earth with Anaximander’s conjectures about the beginnings of animal life in general and human life in particular: Anaximander of Miletus gave it as his view that, when water and earth had been heated, there arose from them fish or animals very like fish. In these men were formed and kept within as embryos until puberty. Then at last the creatures burst open, and out came men and women who were already able to feed themselves. (Censorinus On the Day of Birth 4.7 [KRS 135]) As in the science of our day, the hypotheses of geology and evolutionary biology seem to reinforce each other. Indeed like Xenophanes after him, Anaximander may have based his geological inferences in part on the fossil record. What matters for present purposes, however, is that the whole geological process envisaged by Anaximander constitutes an ‘injustice’ committed by one elemental force upon another, and as such will presumably, ‘according to the ordinance of time’, win compensation by ‘retribution’ in the form of a new inundation of the earth, again as explicitly attested for Xenophanes (unfortunately no similar prediction by Anaximander survives). We can only speculate on whether the language of justice the fragment uses to describe this kind of process is trying to capture the directive operation of the apeiron, or whether it is a metaphor for an entirely physical self-regulatory process, or whether Anaximander would have thought that a false dichotomy. Anaximander’s all-embracing vision of the natural world is the first and for many readers the most unforgettable of the pre-Socratic physical systems. Despite its individuality, it established the framework of a common world picture, shared (although sometimes transformed) by them all. This is above all due to its very invention of the idea of a cosmos, a world ordered by law, which was then worked out along lines that guided both the substance and the method of future enquiry. The cosmos and its major features, including life on earth, are conceived as the outcome of evolving interactions between two fundamental but opposed physical forces. It emerges somehow from something infinite and eternal which surrounds and controls it. Despite the welter of specific detail about this world supplied by Anaximander, he sets a high premium on general explanatory patterns, which he couches exclusively in mathematical and naturalistic terms—except for the overarching conception of cosmic justice. Subsequent pre-Socratics will vary or challenge the recipe in one way or another. But his is the theme, theirs the variations. ANAXIMENES Anaximander’s theoretical silences evidently grated on Anaximenes’ ear.36 His inability to say what sort of thing the apeiron is, and his failure to explain how or why opposite forces emerge from it, contrast with Anaximenes’ explicitness on both issues, and may be supposed to be what prompted the junior thinker to engage with them. In any event the result is a cosmology resembling Anaximander’s in many respects, but at these key points advancing substantive theses. It is succinctly summed up by Simplicius in a passage deriving from Theophrastus: Anaximenes son of Eurystratus, of Miletus, a companion of Anaximander, also says, like him, that the underlying nature is one and infinite, yet not indefinite as Anaximander said, but determinate—for he identifies it as air. It differs in thinness and thickness according to the substances which it constitutes, and if thinned becomes fire, if thickened wind, then cloud, then (thickened further) water, then earth, then stones. Other things come from these. He, too, makes motion eternal, and says that change, as well, comes about because of it. (Simplicius Physics 24.26ff. [KRS 140]) The hypothesis that the first principle is air in eternal motion enables Anaximenes to fill both the principal lacunae in Anaximander’s theory. It ventures a definite characterization of the apeiron; and in so doing it facilitates an explanation of the emergence of the chief phenomena studied by natural philosophy: the opposite processes of thinning and thickening to which air is subject are what produce fire, on the one hand, and a series—to become canonical in subsequent Ionian thought —of more and more condensed forms of matter, on the other. It has often been thought that a text of Aetius reports an analogical argument presented by Anaximenes for the claim that air is the first principle. The passage in question begins with the information that this was his principle, and then, on the traditional interpretation, continues with the words: As (hoion) our soul, he says, being air controls us, so (kai) pneuma and air enclose the whole world. (Air and pneuma are synonymous here.) (Aetius I.3.4 [KRS 160]) This statement has usually been given prominence in reconstructions of Anaximenes’ philosophy. It has even been taken as an actual fragment of his book. Its precise logic and overall point have been much discussed, but (assuming always that the translation given above is correct) the context would favour an interpretation which finds some kind of inference from microcosm to macrocosm: as air is the principle of human life, so it is the principle of the cosmos at large. On further examination Aetius’ sentence proves unable to bear such a weight of interpretation. To begin with, it cannot be an actual quotation from Anaximenes. His book was written ‘in simple and economical Ionic’. Aetius’ sentence is not in Ionic. It also includes at least one word coined much later than the sixth century BC. The Greek is very likely corrupt, too. It looks as if ‘pneuma’, as ‘breath’, should be substituted for ‘air’ in the first clause and omitted in the second. Most important of all, a more probable translation of the sentence (so emended) would run: For example (hoion), it is as breath, he says, that our soul controls us, and (kai) air encloses the whole world. The only expressions here which can be inferred to be authentically Anaximenes’ are the two Aetius specifically mentions: ‘air’ and ‘breath’, although there is no reason to doubt that he talked of ‘soul’ in this context.37 What on this alternative reading was Aetius’ point in making the remark? It will have been to furnish two independent grounds for believing that Anaximenes did indeed, as he has just contended, make air the principle. The clause about the cosmos will then not express the conclusion of any inference, but simply express a version of that fundamental Anaximenian thesis: the apeiron (as what encloses the world) is air. The first clause is more interesting. Even though it no longer launches an argument from analogy, it may still suggest that Anaximenes himself appealed to the physiological role of pneuma as evidence that air is the principle. Certainly the claim about human physiology would then parallel some evidence, again from the phenomenon of breath, which he is said to have adduced for the connected idea that thinnings and thickenings of air are what cause the appearance of other properties or things: He says that matter which is compressed and condensed is cold, while that which is thin and ‘relaxed’ (he used this very word) is hot. This is why it is not unreasonable to say that a person releases both hot and cold from the mouth. The breath is chilled when it is pressed and condensed by the lips, but when the mouth is loosened it escapes and becomes hot because of its thinness. This opinion Aristotle puts down to the man’s ignorance. (Plutarch The Primary Cold 947F [KRS 143])38 What is most interesting in these texts is the attempt to use familiar features of human existence to think about the cosmos at large. Anaximander had had a penchant for analogy and discussed the origins of man, but there is no sign that his theorizing accorded any similar primacy to consideration of things human for this purpose. It seems unlikely, however, that Anaximenes got close to formulating a conception of man as microcosm. It is just as doubtful how far his cosmology was vitalist. There is some evidence, unfortunately rather vague and of doubtful authority, that Anaximenes laid more stress on the divinity of the apeiron than Anaximander did. Hippolytus, for instance, says that from air were generated inter alia ‘gods and things divine’ (Refutation I.7.1 [KRS 141]). Is this a recrudescence of Thales’ notion that ‘all things are full of gods’? Or is it an insistence that everything popularly recognized as divine is in one way or another a form of the one true divinity, the infinite air? If we continue the comparison of Anaximenes with Anaximander, we find much less evidence of an interest on his part in speculative evolutionary hypotheses, whether cosmological or biological, than there is for Anaximander, although he too propounded a cosmogony. We catch little sense of the world as a theatre occupied by opposing powers acting reciprocally on one another, despite the importance accorded to the contrary processes of compression and expansion. Nor does indifference reasoning or mathematical schematism seem to belong in Anaximenes’ explanatory repertoire. What the doxography mostly records is firstly the detail of his astronomical system, which was at once closer to the primitive Homeric picture of the heavens and also more influential on subsequent Ionian thinkers like Anaxagoras, the atomists, and Diogenes of Apollonia; and then information about his explanations of meteorological phenomena, where he seems largely to have followed Anaximander. There are some apparently new topics, such as the rainbow, but even here Anaximenes’ view is reminiscent of Anaximander’s explanation of lightning (to which he too subscribes): the rays of the sun strike against thick, dark cloud, and being unable to penetrate it are reflected off it, the different colours consequences of different interactions between light and cloud.39 The major general idea which the surviving reports make their focus, however, is Anaximenes’ proposal that progressive stages of thickening or compression account for the formation of different sorts of bodies and other stuffs. There are traces of an alternative interpretation (as with Anaximander) which tries to make hot and cold the primary explanatory categories for Anaximenes, more as they are in Aristotle.40 Plutarch’s passage on breath suggests that Anaximenes was certainly interested in this pair of opposites; but at the same time it clearly indicates the primacy of thick and thin. A basic statement of the theory has already been quoted [KRS 140]. Some further applications occur in the following passage, where incidentally it is noteworthy how there is no reference to cold in the analyses of hail and snow; compression is evidently responsible for their coldness: Anaximenes says that clouds occur when the air is further thickened [more so than it is in wind]. When it is compressed further rain is squeezed out. Hail occurs when the descending water coalesces, snow when something windy is caught up with the moisture. (Aetius II.4.1 [KRS 158]) At some points air is treated as occurring in a relatively dense form while still remaining just air. This is referred to in some sources as ‘felting’, a word which conceivably goes back to Anaximenes himself. One instance is the air that supports the flat earth, another that forcing the sun to change direction at the solstice.41 It is hard from our perspective to understand how anyone should have found the compression theory or its many particular applications credible. Yet it is taken for granted as the standard physical account by Melissus a century later, when he says, ‘We think that earth and stone are made out of water’ (fragment [KRS 557]), probably recalling Anaxagoras’s restatement in his fragment 16 [KRS 490]. Slightly later in the fifth century Diogenes of Apollonia would give an even more thoroughgoing re-endorsement of Anaximenes’ original version of the idea. What attracted cosmologists to it was doubtless the core thought that the transformations different forms of matter undergo are intelligible only if those transformations are really just variants of one and the same pair of contrary processes, and if what is transformed is ultimately just a single matter. This is a profound thought. It seems to be Anaximenes’ achievement, not that of the shadowy Thales nor of Anaximander. For Anaximander the apeiron is the source of things, not what they are made of. Anaximenes appears to have been the first to have had the simplifying and unifying notion that their source is what they are made of.42 XENOPHANES Xenophanes presents us with a new phenomenon: lots of actual extracts of pre- Socratic writing. We know the sound of Xenophanes’ voice.43 Interpretation is not therefore plain sailing. In fact Xenophanes is the subject of more disagreement than Anaximander or Anaximenes. The disputes are not just over what specific positions he took nor what his key problems were, but on whether he should count as a substantial thinker at all, or merely as an intellectual gadfly without a systematic set of ideas of his own. One of the difficulties is that the scraps of Xenophanes which are preserved are mostly just that: isolated lines or pairs of lines or quatrains torn from their original context by a quoting authority. Another is that he was to become the focus of different kinds of interest by a variety of later writers. Thus while Heraclitus speaks of him as a typical practitioner of fruitless Ionian curiosity, Plato and Aristotle (followed by the faithful Theophrastus) see him as an obscure precursor of Parmenides, and Timon of Phlius as more than half anticipating the scepticism he attributed to Pyrrho. In subsequent periods the story gets still more complicated, with Xenophanes portrayed, for example, as an exponent of an elaborate Eleatic negative theology. Excavating the real Xenophanes from the mélange of different versions of his thought preserved in the sources is accordingly a good deal trickier than reconstructing Milesian cosmology, which never enjoyed comparable resurrection.44 Xenophanes wrote verse, not prose, and that too made him more durable. Diogenes Laertius sums up his output in these words: He wrote in epic metre, also elegiacs and iambics, against Hesiod and Homer, reproving them for what they said about the gods. But he himself also recited his own poems. He is said to have held contrary opinions to Thales and Pythagoras, and to have rebuked Epimenides too. (Diogenes Laertius IX.18 [KRS 161]) This account corresponds pretty much with the surviving fragments. Many of them are indeed clearly satirical, and the poems from which these are taken—in all three metres mentioned by Diogenes—were known in antiquity as silloi: ‘squints’ or lampoons. It has been conjectured that even fragments dealing with physical phenomena belonged not to a philosophical poem on nature like Empedocles’ (as is implied in some unconvincing very late sources), but to his critique of the traditional theology of Homer and Hesiod, which is well represented among the fragments in any case.45 Among the other butts of his wit Pythagoras is the certain target of some surviving verses: On the subject of reincarnation Xenophanes bears witness in an elegy which begins: ‘Now I will turn to another tale and show the way.’ What he says about Pythagoras runs thus: ‘Once they say that he was passing by when a puppy was being whipped, and he took pity and said: “Stop, do not beat it; for it is the soul of a friend that I recognised when I heard it giving tongue.”’ (Diogenes Laertius VIII.36: fr. 7 [KRS 260]) But it may also be that Xenophanes’ attack on Thales was the original home of the following snippet: Of the earth this is the upper limit, seen by our feet neighbouring the air. But its underneath reaches on indefinitely. (Achilles Introduction 4: fr. 28 [KRS 180]) Aristotle refers to this passage in his chapter on the different explanations theorists have given for the stability of the earth. He accuses Xenophanes of not trying hard enough. We may think his revulsion from speculation on this question gives him the better of the argument with Thales.46 Diogenes seems to suggest that the lampoons, in the fashion of lampoons, mostly had their effect by being circulated and repeated by others. By contrast Xenophanes himself performed his own non-satirical poems, evidently as a travelling entertainer at festivals and other aristocratic gatherings. We are told that after exile from his native city of Colophon he emigrated to Sicily. The ‘exile’ is generally associated by scholars with the capture of the city by the Persians in 546/5 BC, an event to which he himself refers in some verses where he speaks of the coming of the Mede (fr. 22). This probably occurred when he was 25 years of age, if we may so interpret some further verses which boast of an extraordinarily long life, and which incidentally indicate a career pursued all over Greece: Already there are seven and sixty years tossing my thought up and down the land of Greece. And from my birth there were another twenty five to add to these, if I know how to speak truly about these things. (Diogenes Laertius IX.18: fr. 8 [KRS 161])47 We possess two substantial elegiac poems, each a little over twenty lines long, representing Xenophanes’ activity as performer at dinner parties and the like. Both contain a critical strain. One (fr. 2) begins with a famous assault on the Olympic games and the conventional view that victory in any of its athletic events brings a benefit to the victor’s city which rightly entitles him to great honours from it. No, says Xenophanes: such a person ‘is not my equal in worth— better than the strength of men and horses is my wisdom’. For athletic prowess does not contribute to the good government of the city, nor does it fill the city’s coffers. Xenophanes implies that his own moral teaching, on virtue and piety (fr. 1) and against luxury (fr. 3), is by contrast oriented towards the public good. The other poem (fr. 1) is about the proper conduct of a symposium. Its main focus is on the nature of true piety. The first half stresses physical preparations: everything must be clean and pure, fragrant with flowers and incense, with pure water to hand. The wine is to be served with the simplest of foods: bread, cheeses, honey. Then Xenophanes gives instructions about what is to be said. ‘Reverent words and pure speech’ hymning the god is to precede talk of virtue, of right and noble deeds—not tales of giants, Titans and centaurs, nor of conflicts between men in which there is no profit: nothing, presumably, at all like the Theogony or the Iliad.48 Xenophanes’ explicit attacks on Homer and Hesiod in his lampoons are not merely critical but—in a sense I shall explain—self-critical. The Milesians had implicitly questioned traditional assumptions about the natural world. In subjecting what the great poets say about the gods to overt scrutiny and condemnation Xenophanes’ focus is not reality but how we conceive of it. Philosophy, one might say, now for the first time takes a reflexive turn. This is immediately apparent from the key fragments on anthropomorphic theology, which constitute Xenophanes’ principal claim to a significant niche in the history of philosophy: Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods everything that is a shame and reproach among men, stealing and committing adultery and deceiving one another. (Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematicos IX.193: fr. 11 [KRS 166]) But mortals consider that the gods are born, and that they have clothes and speech and bodies like their own. (Clement Miscellanies V.109.2: fr. 14 [KRS 167]) The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair. (Clement Miscellanies VII.22.1: fr. 16 [KRS 168]) But if horses or cattle or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the works that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they had themselves. (Clement Miscellanies V.109.3: fr. 15 [KRS 169]) We could already have guessed from fragment 1 that Xenophanes would have found the picture of the gods in Homer and Hesiod unacceptable because inconsistent with ‘reverent words and pure speech’, i.e. with the requirements of proper worship. The passages quoted above indicate two separate grounds for such a view. First, in fragment 11, Xenophanes objects that they make the gods immoral, or more particularly liars and cheats, a line of objection borrowed by Plato in his critique of Homer in Republic II. Second and more fundamentally, fragment 14 implies that the poets are just like men in general in casting the gods in their own image: self-projection is the basis for their conceptions of divinity. This charge is then brilliantly substantiated in fragments 15 and 16. Fragment 16 reflects the Ionian fascination with ethnography which reaches its fullest expression in Herodotus and fuels the cultural relativism developed by the sophists with the help of the famous nature/ culture (nomos/phusis) polarity. On its own fragment 16 would not get Xenophanes far enough towards his eventual destination. From the premiss that what particular human features we ascribe to the gods is a function of what features different ones among us happen to possess ourselves, it is still some way to the conclusion that the very idea of god’s possessing human features of any kind is nothing but a projection by humans of their own characteristics on to the divine. This conclusion is mediated by the thought-experiment of fragment 15, which is simply a counter-factual extension of the argument of fragment 16: if the conception of god varies among men according to race, it is reasonable to conjecture that, if other animals could conceive of god, their conceptions would vary according to species. So our idea of what god is like is nothing but a similarly speciesist exercise in self-projection. The account of Xenophanes’ thought presented so far has discussed those parts of the remains of his oeuvre whose interpretation is not controversial. When we move beyond them fierce disagreement breaks out. On each of the three main areas covered by the rest of the fragments—god as he should be conceived, the natural world, the prospects for knowledge—the evidence is evaluated very differently by scholars of different casts of mind. A small group of fragments explains what god is really like. Xenophanes does not argue the case. He simply declares the truth as he sees it: One god is greatest among gods and men, in no way similar to mortals either in body or thought. (Clement Miscellanies V.109.1: fr. 23 [KRS 170]) All of him sees, all thinks, all hears. (Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematicos IX. 144: fr. 24 [KRS 172]) Always he remains in the same place, moving not at all; nor is it fitting for him to go to different places at different times, but without toil he shakes all things with the thought of his mind. (Simplicius Physics 23. 11 and 20: frs 26 and 25 [KRS 171]) Is fragment 23 an enunciation of monotheism, the first in Western thought? Views are divided.49 The best comparison with Xenophanes’ couplet is a line of Homer: One omen is best, to defend the fatherland. (Homer Iliad XII.243) Here Hector is rejecting a warning against fighting from his adviser Polydamas, who has inferred a bad omen from the appearance of an eagle to the left, flying with a snake in its beak which it then savaged and dropped into the midst of the Trojan host. Hector’s memorably sceptical reply does two things. It says that there is only one good omen, much better than all the rest, namely patriotic action. But in suggesting that the other sorts of omens, on which the likes of Polydamas rely, are worthless as a basis for decision and action, it implies a radical reinterpretation of the very idea of an omen, removing from it any connotation of divine revelation, and reducing—or elevating—it to a human moral imperative. So Hector’s assertion is in effect much stronger: not just that there is only one good omen, but that there is only one real omen, which is obeying the appropriate human imperative. Xenophanes’ thesis works in exactly the same way. It says there is only one supreme god. It implies there is only one real god. For the very idea of god has to be reconceived. Fragments 23–6 show what this theoretical revolution is to consist in. We must rid ourselves of the notion that a god needs limbs and sense organs like a human being (cf. fragments 14–16). He can cause things to happen by thought alone, without moving a muscle; all of him sees, hears, thinks. Is he then a pure bodiless mind? Xenophanes writes as though the issue is not whether but how to think of god’s body. So while it is tempting to diagnose a further radical implication, questioning whether god needs a body at all, interpretation is probably not justified in going that far. This is to find some measure of agreement with Aristotle (Metaphysics 986b22–3) that Xenophanes made nothing clear about ‘the one’ (i.e. the Eleatic one, which is what Aristotle took his god to be). Did fragments 23–6 belong to the satirical attack on the views of Homer and Hesiod which constituted the context of fragments 11 and 14–16? Or were they extracted from a quite different poem devoted to philosophy of nature, as Diels supposed? Diels’ conjecture seems an improbable one. Leaving aside the vexed issue of whether there was a separate poem about nature, we should note: (a) Clement quotes fragments 23, 14 and 15 consecutively in that order, as though they were all part of the same piece of writing. Certainly it is more plausible and economical to postulate reliance on an excerptor plundering one original source, not two. (b) The idea that gods make journeys, rejected at fragment 26, exactly matches the conception of the gods in Homer, (c) Fragments 23–6 are interested in exactly the same general question about the divine as fragments 11 and 14–16: how should it be conceived? They say nothing on the other hand about the cosmic role of god. Theophrastus, who thought with Aristotle that Xenophanes might be meaning to identify god with the universe, none the less observed that mention of Xenophanes’ view is not appropriate in an enquiry into nature, but is a subject for another branch of philosophy, presumably ‘first philosophy’ or metaphysics. No doubt he made this comment because he could find in Xenophanes no actual discussion of god’s relation to the universe. This assessment is pretty well irresistible given his professed inability to decide whether Xenophanes held that the sum of things is one or alternatively that there is a single principle of things.50 I infer that Xenophanes said all that he said about god in his lampoon against Homer and Hesiod, and that not unexpectedly his instructions there on how we should think of god did not extend very much beyond the few lines which survive as fragments 23–6. Later doxographical reports are confident that Xenophanes claimed much more: notably that god is spherical in shape. We know the ultimate source of these reports. It is a remarkable reconstruction of Xenophanes as an Eleatic monist, employing metaphysical argumentation in the style of Melissus and Gorgias, and known to us in a version preserved in the pseudo-Aristotelian treatise On Melissus, Xenophanes and Gorgias. The important thing about this presentation of Xenophanes for our present concerns is precisely that it is a reconstruction, in a later idiom involving techniques and assumptions unthinkable before Parmenides.51 The basis of the proposition that Xenophanes made god a sphere is clear enough. It derives its main inspiration from Parmenides’ lines arguing that what is is ‘perfected, like the bulk of a ball (sphaire_) wellrounded on every side, equally balanced in every direction from the centre’ (fr. 8. 42–4). The actual piece of argument ascribed to Xenophanes goes as follows: Being one, it is like all over, seeing and hearing and having the other senses all over. Otherwise if there were parts of god they would control and be controlled by each other, which is impossible. But being like all over, it is spherical: for it is not such here but not there, but all over. ([Aristotle] On Melissus, Xenophanes and Gorgias 977a36–b2) This extract gives a good impression of how the writer works. It looks very unlikely that he has any more to go on in his construction of Xenophanes’ reasoning than fragments 23 and 24. He gets the unity of god from fragment 23 (cf. 977a23–4). That Xenophanes believes god is like all over is inferred from fragment 24, and then made the consequence of his unity, in line with a similar inference attributed to Melissus by this same author (974a12–14). The key move to the conclusion that god is therefore spherical is finally worked out by application of reasoning borrowed from fragment 8.22–4, 42–5 of Parmenides.52 Despite the preoccupation of many of our sources for Xenophanes with his theology, there is little doubt that his discussions of questions about the heavenly bodies and meteorological phenomena were in fact more extensive. As well as a number of fragments on these topics, a considerable amount of information about his views relating to them is preserved in the doxography. What is missing, however, is evidence of a cosmogony, or of the associated drive towards a comprehensive narrative characteristic for example of Anaximander. Thus the general survey of his thought in the Miscellanies attributed to Plutarch sticks mostly to a summary of the pseudo-Aristotelian Xenophanes, interrupted and then completed by a disjointed sequence of reports about specific theses of Xenophanes’ physics or epistemology. Hippolytus’ overview is better organized, but on physical questions very brief and selective until a final section on largescale changes in the relation of earth and sea.53 We should therefore conclude that there probably never was a single poem devoted to natural philosophy. It is less easy to conjecture what form Xenophanes’ writing on the various natural questions which interested him would have taken. Indeed we are in a position of total ignorance on the issue. One thing clear from the few surviving fragments, however, is that many of his verses echoed lines of Homer and Hesiod, invariably to subvert the picture of the natural world they conveyed. Consider for example the following pair of lines attributed to Xenophanes: All things that come to be and grow are earth and water. (Simplicius Physics 189.1: fr. 29 [KRS 181]) For we have all come to be from earth and water. (Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematico IX.34:fr.33 [KRS 182]) These verses recall Menelaus’ words in the Iliad, cursing the Achaeans: May you all become earth and water. (Homer Iliad VII.99) Perhaps Xenophanes’ point against Homer would have been that everything alive already is earth and water. Whether or not that is how he began his presentation of the idea, his further development of it probably included his remarkable argument for the cyclical process of alternate domination of the earth’s surface by earth and sea: Xenophanes thinks that a mixture of the earth with the sea is going on, and that in time the earth is dissolved by the moist. He says that he has demonstrations of the following kind: shells are found inland and in the mountains, and in the quarries in Syracuse he says that an imprint of a fish and seals were found; and in Paros an imprint of coral in the depth of the rock, and in Malta slabs of rock containing all sorts of sea creatures. These, he says, were produced when everything was long ago covered with mud, and the imprint was dried in the mud. All mankind is destroyed whenever the earth is carried down into the sea and becomes mud; then there is another beginning of coming into being, and this is the foundation for all worlds. (Hippolytus Refutation I.14.5 [KRS 184]) The idea of a cycle of this kind had probably been anticipated by Anaximander, who certainly held that the earth was once much wetter than it is now. But Xenophanes thought the world was at a different phase of the cycle: the earth is not drying out, but reverting to sea. And although Anaximander may have appealed to the evidence of fossils, this is actually attested only for Xenophanes. Whether Xenophanes collected the evidence himself or relied on the reports of others, his assemblage of examples and conception of their significance constitute one of the high points of Ionian historiē (enquiry). The longest physical fragment is also about the sea: Sea is the source of water, and source of wind. For neither <would there be the force of wind blowing forth from> inside clouds without the great ocean, nor streams of rivers nor shower water from the air above: but the great ocean is begetter of clouds and winds and rivers. (Geneva scholium on the Iliad XXI.196: fr.30 [KRS 183]) These lines may have belonged to the same poem as did the verses about earth and water. On the other hand there is reason to conjecture a separate poem directed explicitly or implicitly against traditional conceptions of the heavenly bodies as divinities with marvellous properties.54 The striking description of the ocean (pontos) as ‘begetter’ already recalls, yet simultaneously rationalizes, Hesiod’s account of how it ‘begat’ Nereus, the old man of the sea, and other mythical figures (Theogony 233–9). But the mention of clouds among the offspring of ocean is particularly significant, for the doxographical evidence makes it clear that Xenophanes explained virtually all astronomical and meteorological phenomena in terms of cloud. On these subjects his thinking was both relentlessly systematic and at the same time satirical: the object was to reduce mystery and grandeur to something familiar and homely.55 Thus the moon is a compressed (‘felted’) cloud that is on fire. But it ‘does no work in the boat’, i.e. unlike the sun it does not sustain life.56 Comets, shooting stars and meteors are groups or movements of burning clouds. St Elmo’s fire occurs when cloudlets glimmer owing to a particular sort of movement, and lightning is very similar. A fragment survives which explains that, What they call Iris, this too is cloud: purple and red and yellow to behold. (Scholium bT on the Iliad XI.27: fr. 32 [KRS 178]) Here Xenophanes is undoubtedly attempting to demystify and demythologize the rainbow. Iris is no goddess, nor is it a ‘marvel to behold’ (thauma idesthai, in Homeric language), merely a variety of colours ‘to behold’ (idesthai). The most intriguing of Xenophanes’ astronomical explanations are those he gives for the stars and the sun. Here the basic identification as burning cloud is reiterated. But much more detail is given by the doxography. The stars are quenched each morning but flicker again at night like coals. The sun is generated anew each day by the collection of widely scattered flaming particles. This extraordinary idea was probably supported with the claim that the phenomenon can actually be observed at dawn from the heights of Mount Ida above Homer’s Troy, when rays originally separate are seen to coalesce into a single ball.57 It would seem to follow that the process of coalescence must happen again and again every day at different longitudes. Xenophanes was not afraid to draw the logical and undignified conclusion: Xenophanes says that there are many suns and moons according to regions, sections and zones of the earth, and that at a particular moment the disc is banished into some section of the earth not inhabited by us—and so, tumbling into a hole, as it were, produces the phenomenon of an eclipse. He also says that the sun goes onward indefinitely, but is thought to move in a circle because of the distance. (Aetius II.24.9 [KRS 179]) We have specific reason to think that Xenophanes’ account of the sun occurred in the same poem as fragment 30: it is quoted by a doxographer who explains that the vapour from the sea which turns eventually into clouds, showers and winds is drawn up by the action of the sun (Aetius III.4.4 [DK 21 A 46]). What epistemological status did Xenophanes accord to these speculations? A famous and much discussed quatrain gives us his answer, which sounds as though it might have served as a prologue to one of the physical poems: No man knows, or ever will know, the clear truth about the gods and about all the things I speak of. For even if someone happened to say something exactly so, he himself none the less does not know it, but opinion is what is the outcome [lit. ‘is constructed’] in all cases. (Sextus Empiricus Advenus Mathematical VII.49 and 110: fr. 34 [KRS 186]) These are the lines which later writers fastened upon in their determination to find ancient antecedents for a radically sceptical stance on the prospects for human knowledge.58 Certainly Xenophanes is claiming that there is something that man does not nor ever will know. But the claim is qualified in two ways. First, the subject-matter is restricted to truths about the gods and ‘all the things I speak of: presumably astronomical and meteorological phenomena. Second, when Xeno-phanes says that no human will ever know the clear truth about them, he appears to allow that a person might attain the truth on these matters. This idea is amplified in the final clause of the fragment, where translation is unfortunately disputed. On the version given here, Xenophanes states that opinion is what is the outcome for everyone. Opinion must therefore be precisely a state of belief (true or false) that does not put a person in the position of knowing the truth. The claim is then that no human can be in any other condition so far as concerns the nature of gods and of the heavens. Xenophanes does not say why this is so. There are a number of different ingredients in his concept of knowledge which may indicate the explanation he envisages. First, what the gods or the heavens are like is something inaccessible to direct human experience. Second, when he suggests that someone might ‘happen’ to say what is true on this subject, he implies that humans have no unfailingly reliable means of establishing the truth—as would be required if knowledge were to be achieved. Finally, the introduction of the notion of clarity suggests that Xenophanes thinks knowledge would be transparent: a knower would know that he knows.59 So interpreted Xenophanes’ scepticism is limited to a denial that in theology, astronomy and meteorology there can ever be a direct, unfailingly reliable or transparent grasp of the truth even on the part of a person who is in fact in possession of it. On this reading (indeed on most readings) fragment 34 constitutes another instance of the relexive, self-critical turn philosophy takes in his hands. Its point is doubtless to indicate that the claims he is advancing about nature and the divine are modest so far as regards their epistemological status. Other evidence tends to confirm that the object is not to imply any actual doubt that those claims are true. The other principal surviving remark on knowledge attributed to Xenophanes says: Yet the gods have not revealed all things to mortals from the beginning; but by seeking they find out better with time. (Stobaeus I.8.2: fr. 18 [KRS 188]) This fragment is optimistic about the prospects for discovering the truth. Take the question: is the sea gradually inundating the earth? The gods have not revealed to us the answer just like that—but fragment 18 indicates that by observing for example the fossil record we can find out what it is reasonable to regard as the truth of the matter.60 The first words of an injunction of Xenophanes (unfortunately truncated) ran: Let these be accepted, certainly, as like the realities… (Plutarch Symposium 746B: fr. 35 [KRS 187]) This might be interpreted as saying: you are justified in your belief that this is what reality is like (…even if you cannot know it). For Heraclitus Xenophanes was one of those thinkers whose farflung learning had not brought them understanding. Yet Heraclitus’ own ideas about god and knowledge and the heavenly bodies seem to owe much to Xenophanes’. Nor were Plato and Aristotle wrong to perceive his influence on Parmenides, even if he was no Eleatic monist. Without our evidence relating to Xenophanes it would in fact be difficult to understand how philosophy made the transition from Milesian cosmology to the metaphysical and epistemological orientation shared by Heraclitus and Parmenides. Some of his speculations look naïve beyond belief. But he had witty and subtle things to say on all manner of topics. He cherished a healthy regard for evidence: the naïveté is in good part the consequence of his rigour in refusing to go much beyond it. And so far as western thought is concerned, he invented both monotheism and critical theology. NOTES 1 A good general account of Thales: KRS ch. 2. For a more ambitious view of what we may reasonably conjecture about his cosmology see West [2.59]. 2 Cf. Herodotus I.74–5, 170 [KRS 74, 66, 65]. Solar eclipse: best discussion still Heath [2.33], ch. 3; also e.g. Panchenko [2.53]. That any eclipse Thales predicted was visible in Asia Minor must have been due to luck. Probably it is largely on account of this feat that he came to be credited with views on the causes of eclipses, the nature of the heavenly bodies, and the zones of the heavens [DK 11 A 13c, 17, 17a and b]. 3 Texts and discussion: KRS, pp. 81–6, 100–5. On the map see Kahn [2.49], 82–4; on early Greek astronomical knowledge Dicks [2.47]; Kahn [2.50]; Burkert [2.25], ch. 4, sect. 1. 4 See Aristotle On the Soul 405a19–21, 411a7–8, Diogenes Laertius I.24, with discussion in KRS pp. 95–8. 5 See Aristotle Metaphysics 983b6–984a3. Discussion in KRS, pp. 89–95 On Hippias: Snell [2.57]; Mansfeld [2.40], chs 3, 5. 6 On the physics of flat-earthism see Furley [2.32], chs 1, 2, 18. 7 The doxographical evidence is confused. One source ([Plutarch] Miscellanies 3 [KRS 148]) states explicitly that the sun is earth; and Hippolytus’ evidence that it is flat and rides on air makes sense only on that assumption (KRS 150, quoted above). However the doxography seems generally to have understood ‘fiery’ as ‘composed of fire’ (cf. Runia [2.67]); and one suspect passage (Hippolytus Refutation I.7.5 [KRS 149]) is explicit on the point. Perhaps the ambiguity of ‘stars’ as heavenly bodies in general or the fixed stars in particular added to the confusion. 8 Anaximenes also posited earthy bodies in the region of the ‘stars’, envisaged as being carried round with them (Hippolytus Refutation I.7.5; Aetius II.13.10 [KRS 152]). These were presumably introduced to account for eclipses: (cf. Hippolytus Refutation 1.8.6, 9 on Anaxagoras [KRS 502]). 9 Aristotle’s comparison with a lid probably derives not from Anaximenes but from Anaxagoras’ version of flat-earthism. Note the reference in the sequel to the clepsydra (294b18–21), elsewhere associated by him with Anaxagoras (Physics 213a22–7 [KRS 470]). 10 Pre-Socratics seem not to have mentioned predecessors or contemporaries by name except to attack them. An explicit critique of Thales is not attested nor likely for Anaximander or Anaximenes, but is attributed to Xenophanes (Diogenes Laertius IX. 18 [KRS 161]). No book: various writings are ascribed to Thales, notably a ‘Nautical star-guide’ (Simplicius Physics 23.25–9, Diogenes Laertius I.23 [KRS 81–2]). But already in antiquity their authenticity was doubted: for a cautiously sceptical review of the evidence see KRS, pp. 86–8. 11 The few mentions in the doxography of physical theses about the constitution and behaviour of the heavenly bodies which Thales is supposed to have advanced (texts at DK 11 A 17a and b) are either inconsistent with better evidence or merely isolated assertions. E.g. the claim that Thales knew the moon derived its light from the sun is at odds with the strong evidence that Anaximander and Anaximenes did not. Such knowledge is first credibly associated with Parmenides (fr. 14, KRS 308) or Anaxagoras (Plato Cratylus 409a–b; Hippolytus Refutation 1.8.8 [KRS 502]) among philosophers. 12 See Mansfeld [2.40], ch. 5. 13 Geocentric conception: Anaximander famously located the earth in the middle of a symmetrical cosmos, with the sun, moon and stars conceived as circling round it in a sequence of concentric rings. For a treatment of Anaximander’s logic as represented by Aristotle see Barnes [2.8], 23–9; also Makin [2.52]. 14 So Robinson [2.55]; Furley [2.32], ch. 2. Their views are very effectively criticized by Panchenko [2.54]. 15 Texts on the shape of the earth and the celestial rings are collected and discussed in KRS, pp. 133–7. 16 Interestingly, a claim that Anaximander’s earth ‘moves round the middle of the cosmos’ is ascribed to Eudemus (Theon of Smyrna p. 198H [DK 12 A 26]). Its truth and provenance are generally doubted: Kahn [2.49], 54–5. But it may originate from an attempt to work out what would be the behaviour of a cylinder in unstable equilibrium at the centre of the universe: this would be rotation about its own axis. 17 ‘Not controlled by anything’ is unclear. Perhaps a contrast with the sun, moon and stars is intended: their behaviour is controlled by the misty rings which envelope the fire which constitutes them. 18 The sentence about Anaximander seems unmotivated in context, unless seen as completing Alexander’s argument that he is not the primary focus of the Aristotelian passage which names him (Simplicius On the Heavens 532.7–12). So construed its point will be to suggest that because the theory Aristotle mentions does not really represent Anaximander’s position, he must actually have another proponent of it in mind. 19 Simplicius complains that Alexander’s presentation of the indifference theory substitutes considerations about equilibrium (derived from Plato) for an argument from likeness (which is what Aristotle’s text actually gives us): On the Heavens 535.4–8. 20 The major study of Anaximander: Kahn [2.49]. On Anaximander’s book and its significance: Kahn [2.49], 6–8, 199–208; Burkert [2.25], 239–40. Although he is said to have been the first to write ‘on nature’ (see KRS, pp. 102–3), the claim of the strange Pherecydes of Syros to be the first prose author is stronger if not overwhelming: evidence in KRS, pp. 51–2; discussion e.g. in Kahn [2.49], 240; Schibli [2.56], 4. 21 See especially Physics III.4, 5. Modern discussions of the apeiron: KRS, pp. 105– 17, Kahn [2.49], App. II; Guthrie [2.13] I: 83–9. 22 See in general Diels [2.1]; for Anaximander in particular Kahn [2.49], 11–71. A brief statement in KRS, pp. 1–6. 23 Often observed by readers, but particularly well discussed by Kahn [2.49], 112 n.1. 24 For a contrary view see e.g. Guthrie [2.13] I ch. 3 (esp. pp. 89–91), who holds that Anaximander conceived of the emergence of the world as the development of a cosmic organism; see also West [2.59]. On Anaximander’s analagies : Lloyd [1. 37]. 25 Tannery [2.58], 92 (quoted by Kahn [2.49], 102). 26 So e.g. KRS, pp. 141–2; Kahn [2.49], 112–13. 27 One text attests Anaximander’s recognition of the ecliptic: the circles of the sun and moon ‘lie aslant’ (Aetius II.25.1 [DK 12 A 22]). 28 See Aristotle Meteorology 353b5–11 [KRS 132], with Alexander Meteorology 67. 3–12 [DK 12 A 27]. Well discussed by Kahn [2.49], 66–7. 29 Spheres: Aetius II.16.5; planet circle: Aetius II.15.6 [DK 12 A 18]. Zones: Kahn [2. 49], 88–9. 30 See West [1.21], 89–91. 31 So Kahn [2.49], App. II. 32 Eternal motion: Hippolytus Refutation I.6.2 [KRS 101, 115]; intermediate character: Aristotle On the Heavens 303b10–13 [KRS 109], On Generation and Corruption 332a19–25 [KRS 103], with discussion in KRS, pp. 111–13; Kahn [2. 49], 44–6. 33 Theophrastus’ words: Simplicius Physics 24.17–18 [KRS 101]. Assimilation to atomist theory: Simplicius Physics 1121.5–9, [Plutarch] Miscellanies 2 [KRS 101], Aetius 1.3.3 [DK 12 A 14]. Right in general thrust: so Conche [2.46], ch.5 (cf. also Guthrie [2.13] I: 106–15), against, e.g. KRS, pp. 122–6; Kahn [2.49], 46–53. 34 See above all Kahn [2.49], ch. 3 (but his suggestion that the fragment may extend back to ‘And out of those things…’ is idiosyncratic and unpersuasive). 35 For this interpretation see Barnes [2.8], 33–4. 36 Good general accounts of Anaximenes in KRS and Guthrie [2.13] I. 37 For the later coinage (sunkratein) and substitution of pneuma see KRS, pp. 158– 62. For hoion as ‘for example’ see Longrigg [2.51]. Barnes notes the absence of a connecting particle, common with this use of hoion ([2.8], 55). 38 Cf. Barnes [2.8], 46–7, 55. 39 A selection of relevant texts (with discussion) at KRS, pp. 154–8. Anaximenes seems to have suggested a fresh simile to recommend the Anaximandrian account of thunder and lightning: the flashing of oars cleaving the water (Aetius III.3.2 [KRS 158]). 40 Cf. Hippolytus Refutation I.7.2–3 [KRS 141]; for Anaximander cf. [Plutarch] Miscellanies 2 [KRS 121]. 41 [Plutarch] Miscellanies 3 [KRS 148]; Aetius II.23.1 [KRS 153]. 42 Attribution of the notion to Anaximenes is generally accepted, but denied by Stokes [2.42], 43–8. For an elegant logical articulation of it and defence of its Anaximenian credentials see Barnes [2.8], 38–44. 43 A sound and useful edition with translation—of the doxography as well as the fragments—and commentary: Lesher [2.60]. 44 Heraclitus: fr.40 [KRS 255]; Plato: Sophist 242c–d [KRS 163]; Aristotle: Metaphysics 986b18–12 [KRS 164, 174]; Theophrastus: Simplicius Physics 22.26– 31 [KRS 165]; Timon: Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism I.223–4 [DK 21 A 35]. According to Diogenes Laertius (IX.111), he had a function in Timon’s Silloi analogous to Virgil’s in Dante’s Divine Comedy. For the later episodes of the story see e.g. Mansfeld [2.40], chs 6–8. 45 So Burnet [2.11], 115–16, in what remains a sparkling treatment of Xenophanes’ work. A more recent statement of the same view: Steinmetz [2.69], 54–73. 46 A good discussion of Xenophanes’ attitude to Thales in Lesher [2.60], 120–4. 47 On Xenophanes’ chronology: Steinmetz [2.69], 13–34. 48 For further discussion see Lesher [2.60], 47–77. 49 Monotheist: e.g. Barnes [2.8], 82–99; polytheist: e.g. Stokes [2.42], ch. 3. 50 For Aristotle’s view see Metaphysics 986b24–5 [KRS 174] (but his meaning is disputed); Theophrastus’ view is preserved at Simplicius Physics 22.26–31 [KRS 165]. 51 The key modern study of the Xenophanes doxography and its relation to Theophrastus and On Melissus, Xenophanes and Gorgias (MXG) is Mansfeld [2. 40], ch. 6. It has often been supposed that because Hippolytus (Refutation I.14.2) says that Xenophanes’ god is spherical, it can be inferred that this was Theophrastus’ view too (e.g. Burnet [2.11], 125, n.1). But the supposition is incompatible with evidence that Xenophanes did not in his opinion make god limited or unlimited (Simplicius Physics 22.26–9 [KRS 165]) unless it is supposed that he is reflecting contradictory remarks by Xenophanes made presumably in different places (so Steinmetz [2.69], 48–54). The date of MXG itself is uncertain, although the presentation of Xenophanes it contains—on which see the excellent brief discussion by Lesher [2.60], 192–4—may go back to the early third century BC. Some scholars continue to defend the credibility of the MXG version of Xenophanes: e.g. Barnes [2.8], 84–94; Finkelberg [2.62]. See also Cassin [2.61]. 52 It is sometimes suggested (e.g. Steinmetz [2.69], 35–40) that e.g. homoie_n, ‘like’, is an authentically Xenophanean divine attribute, on the strength of Timon, fr.59 (preserved in Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism I. 223 [DK 21 A 35]). But Timon already reads Xenophanes in the fashion of Aristotle and Theophrastus as an Eleatic monist. It seems likelier that he is in fact drawing on a version of the MXG account of Xenophanes’ theology. 53 See [Plutarch] Miscellanies 4 [DK 21 A 32]; Hippolytus Refutation I.14 [DK 21 A 33]. No cosmogony: one fragment reads ‘All things are from earth and to earth all things come in the end’ (fr. 27). In the doxography where this line is quoted it is taken as committing Xenophanes to a cosmogony (Theodoretus, Therapy for Greek Malaises IV. 5 [DK 21 A 36]). But this conflicts with Xenophanes’ stress elsewhere on sea as a source of things, and with Aristotle’s denial that any pre- Socratic monist made earth the first principle (Metaphysics 989a5–6). Probably Xenophanes meant only that the earth was the origin of all living things: so Guthrie [2.13] I: 383–7; Lesher [2.60], 124–8. The intricacies of the doxography are indicated in Mansfeld [2.40], 150–5. 54 This is the standard interpretation: cf. e.g. Guthrie [2.13] I: 386–7. That popular beliefs are the target of the whole body of Xenophanes’ physical fragments is well argued by Lesher [2.60], 124–48. For texts and discussion see also KRS, pp. 172– 8. 55 The main modern disagreement about Xenophanes’ handling of physical topics is whether he treats them as intrinsically ludicrous, deserving only opportunistic flights of fancy or brief debunking, or works out a serious systematic and comprehensive theory, albeit mocking popular misconceptions at the same time. The first view: Burnet [2.11], 121–5; Guthrie [2.13] I: 387–94; Steinmetz [2.69]. 54–68. The second: Fränkel [2.63], 119–21; [2.30], 334 (which complains however of ‘poverty-stricken’ empiricism); Hussey [2.35], 26 (who credits Xenophanes with a more admirable ontological and methodological ‘parsimony’); Lesher [2.60], 145– 8. 56 On the moon see Runia [2.67]. 57 So Keyser [2.64]. The doxographical evidence about Xenophanes’ sun is complex and confusing; for discussion see Runia [2.68]. 58 On ancient interpretations of Xenophanes’ epistemology, see Mansfeld [2.40], 156– 9; on modern see Lesher [2.60], 159–69 (summarizing Lesher [2.65]). A good recent treatment: Hussey [2.35]. 59 For knowledge as direct (not a matter of sign-inference), cf. Alcmaeon, fr.1 [KRS 439]; as transparent, cf. Hippocrates On Ancient Medicine 1. Not everyone would agree that Xenophanes incorporates all three notions in his concept of knowledge. 60 So Lesher [2.66]. But this may be a text relating rather to the origins of civilization and discovery of the arts: so e.g. Guthrie [2.13] I: 399–401. Note also that fr.35 is ‘fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty’: Lesher [2.60], 171. The limitations of human understanding are probably the focus of another famous Xenophanean remark: ‘If god had not made yellow honey, they would think figs were much sweeter’ (fr.38 [KRS 189]). GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR CHAPTERS 2–6 Texts Original language editions 2.1 Diels, H. Doxographi Graeci, Berlin, G.Reimer, 1879 (repr. de Gruyter 1965). Original texts of the main doxographers, with Latin prolegomena. 2.2 Diels, H. rev. W.Kranz Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 3 vols, 6th edn, Berlin, Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1951. Original texts of fragments and testimonia, with German translation of fragments. This standard work is cited as DK. References are by chapter, each of which is divided into testimonia (A) and fragments (B). Numbered fragments mentioned in the text are found under that number in DK. 2.3 KRS [1.6]. Original texts with English translation and commentary. 2.4 Mansfeld, J. Die Vorsokratiker, Stuttgart, Philipp Reclam, 1987. Original texts with German translation and notes. 2.5 Wright, M.R. The Presocratics, Bristol, Bristol Classical Press, 1985. Original texts with notes for readers with elementary Greek. Collections of texts in translation 2.6 Barnes, J. Early Greek Philosophy, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1987. 2.7 McKirahan, R.D., Jr. Philosophy Before Socrates, Indianapolis, Ind. and Cambridge, Hackett, 1994. Contains substantial commentary. General Surveys of Pre-Socratic Philosophy 2.8 Barnes, J. The Presocratic Philosophers, rev. edn, London, Routledge, 1982. 2.9 Brun, J. Les Présocratiques, 2nd edn, (Que sais-je? no. 1319) Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1973. 2.10 Burnet, J. Greek Philosophy: Thales to Plato, London, Macmillan, 1914 (numerous reprints). 2.11—Early Greek Philosophy, 4th edn, London, A. & C. Black, 1930. 2.12 Cornford, F.M. From Religion to Philosophy, London, Edward Arnold, 1957, repr. New York, Harper, 1957. 2.13 Guthrie, W.K.C. A History of Greek Philosophy, vols I–III, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1962–9. 2.14 Hussey, E. The Presocratics, London, Duckworth, 1972. Collections of articles 2.15 Allen, R.E. and Furley, D.J. (eds) Studies in Presocratic Philosophy, 2 vols, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970 and 1975. 2.16 Anton, J.P. and Kustas, G.L. (eds) Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 1971. 2.17 Anton, J.P. and Preus, A. (eds) Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, vol. II, Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 1983. 2.18 Boudouris, K. (ed.) Ionian Philosophy, Athens, International Association for Greek Philosophy, 1989. 2.19 Mourelatos, A.P.D. (ed.) The Pre-Socratics, New York, Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1974; rev. edn., Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1993. 2.20 Robb, K. (ed.) Language and Thought in Early Greek Philosophy, La Salle, Ill., Hegeler Institute, 1983. 2.21 Shiner, R.A. and King-Farlow, J. (eds) New Essays on Plato and the Pre-Socratics, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, suppl. vol. 2, 1976. Bibliography Mourelatos [2.19] contains a bibliography. 2.22 Navia, L.E. The Presocratk Philosophers: An Annotated Bibliography, New York and London, Garland Publishing, 1993. 2.23 Paquet, L., Roussel, M. and Lanfrance, Y. Les Présocratiques: Bibliographie analytique (1879–1980), 2 vols, Montreal, Bellarmin, 1988–9. General studies 2.24 Beare, J.I. Greek Theories of Elementary Cognition, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1906. 2.25 Burkert, W. Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1972 (German original Nuremberg, Verlag Hans Carl, 1962). 2.26 Cherniss, H. Aristotle’s Criticism of Presocratic Philosophy, Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press, 1935; repr. New York, Octagon Books, 1964, 1971. 2.27 Dicks, D.R. Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1970. 2.28 Dodds, E.R. The Greeks and the Irrational, Berkeley, Calif., University of California Press, 1951. 2.29 Fränkel, H. Wege und Formen frügriechischen Denkens, Munich, C.H.Beck, 1968. 2.30—Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973 (German original Munich, C.H.Beck, 1969). 2.31 Furley, D.J. The Greek Cosmologists, vol. I, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987. 2.32—Cosmic Problems, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989. 2.33 Heath, T.L. Aristarchus of Samos, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1913, repr. 1959. 2.34— History of Greek Mathematics, 2 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1921. 2.35 Hussey, E. ‘The beginnings of epistemology: from Homer to Philolaus’, in S. Everson (ed.) Companions to Ancient Thought I: Epistemology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 11–38. 2.36—‘Ionian inquiries: on understanding the Presocratic beginnings of science’, in A.Powell (ed.) The Greek World, London and New York, Routledge, 1995, pp. 530–49. 2.37 Lloyd, G.E.R. Polarity and Analogy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1966. 2.38—Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle, London, Chatto and Windus, 1970. 2.39—[1.7]. 2.40 Mansfeld, J. Studies in the Historiography of Greek Philosophy, Assen and Maastricht, Van Gorcum, 1990. 2.41 Sambursky, S. The Physical World of the Greeks, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956. 2.42 Stokes, M.C. One and Many in Presocratic Philosophy, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1971. 2.43 Stratton, G.M. Theophrastus and the Greek Physiological Psychology before Aristotle, London, Allen and Unwin, and New York, Macmillan, 1917. 2.44 Thomson, G. The First Philosophers, 2nd edn, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1961. 2.45 West [1.21]. Texts and studies of individual philosophers are listed in the bibliographies to the respective chapters. BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR CHAPTER 2 Milesians Text 2.46 Conche, M. Anaximandre, fragments et témoignages: Texte grec, traduction, introduction et commentaire, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1991. Studies 2.47 Dicks, D.R. ‘Solstices, equinoxes and the Presocratics’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 86 (1966): 26–40. 2.48 Furley [2.32], esp. ch. 2, ‘The dynamics of the earth: Anaximander, Plato and the centrifocal theory’. 2.49 Kahn, C.H. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology, New York, Columbia University Press, 1960; repr. Indianapolis, Ind., and Cambridge, Hackett, 1994. 2.50—‘On early Greek astronomy’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 90 (1970): 99–116. 2.51 Longrigg, J. ‘A note on Anaximenes fragment 2’, Phronesis 9 (1964): 1–5. 2.52 Makin, S. Indifference Arguments, Oxford, Blackwell, 1994. 2.53 Panchenko, D. ‘Thales’ prediction of a solar eclipse’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 25 (1994): 275–88. 2.54—‘ and in Anaximander and Thales’, Hyperboreus 1 (1994): 28–55. 2.55 Robinson, J.M. ‘Anaximander and the problem of the earth’s immobility’, in Anton and Kustas [2.16]. 2.56 Schibli, H.S. Pherekydes of Syros, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990. 2.57 Snell, B. ‘Die Nachrichten über die Lehren des Thales’, Philologus 96 (1944): 170–82, repr with additions in Snell, Gesammelte Schriften, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck and Rupprecht, 1966, pp. 119–28. 2.58 Tannery, P., Pour l’histoire de la science Hellène, 2nd edn, Paris, Gauthier-Villars, 1930. 2.59 West, M.L. ‘Ab ovo’, Classical Quarterly NS 44 (1994): 289–307. Xenophanes Text 2.60 Lesher, J.H. Xenophanes of Colophon: Fragments: a text and translation with commentary (Phoenix suppl vol 32), Toronto, Toronto University Press, 1992. Includes substantial bibliography. Studies 2.61 Cassin, B. Si Parménide: le traité anonyme De Melisso Xenophane Gorgia, Lille and Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1980. 2.62 Finkelberg, A. ‘Studies in Xenophanes’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 93 (1990):103–67. 2.63 Fränkel, H. ‘Xenophanes’ empiricism and his critique of knowledge’, in Mourelatos [2.19], pp. 118–31. 2.64 Keyser, P. ‘Xenophanes’ sun on Trojan Ida’, Mnemosyne 45 (1992): 299–311. 2.65 Lesher, J.H. ‘Xenophanes’ scepticism’, Phronesis 23 (1978): 1–21; repr in Anton and Preus [2.17]. 2.66—‘Xenophanes on enquiry and discovery’, Ancient Philosophy 11 (1991): 229–48. 2.67 Runia, D. ‘Xenophanes on the moon: a doxographicum in Aetius’, Phronesis 34 (1989):245–69. 2.68—‘Xenophanes or Theophrastus? An Aëtian doxographicum on the sun’, in W.W.Fortenbaugh and D.Gutas (eds) Theophrastus: His Psychological, Doxographical and Scientific Writings, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1992: pp. 112–40. 2.69 Steinmetz, P. ‘Xenophanesstudien’, Rheinisches Museum 109 (1966): 13–73.
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