Thesis ID: CBB001560877

Language and Intent in Empedocles' Cosmic Cycle (2010)


Galsworthy, Carrie (Author)

Cincinnati, University of
Parker, Holt

Publication Date: 2010
Edition Details: Advisor: Parker, Holt
Physical Details: 279 pp.
Language: English

In this dissertation, I analyze how Empedocles uses language to present himself and his intent. Although Empedocles' contemporaries and more modern readers present him as a scientist or magician, he portrays himself as a god and claims that he will teach others to become a god like him in order to manipulate the universe. In Chapter One, I examine the concept of science from an Aristotelian bias and from the standpoint of modern expectations of science to show that, despite verses that describe how the world works, Empedocles does not follow the patterns of active conversation with other thinkers that are available. His stated intent (fragment 111) is to teach others how to control the universe - cure disease and old age, affect the weather, and raise the dead - rather than learn about it theoretically. In Chapter Two, I will show that although the claims that he makes link him to magicians, he does not present himself as one. Magicians act as intermediaries between men and the gods (at least in the time contemporary with Empedocles); the gods do as the magicians ask them because the magicians have built up a successful relationship through sacrifices and incantations. Empedocles, on the other hand, accomplishes these feats on his own as a god. Chapter Three sets out what sort of god Empedocles is: he is a mortal, long-lived god in contrast with the immortal gods - Love, Strife, and the four roots (fire, water, air, and earth). Anyone can become a god, as I illustrate, as long as one is pure enough and wise enough. Chapter Four returns to Empedocles' use of language to express his intent. Since controlling the world can be a dangerous lesson, Empedocles uses ambiguity and the model of initiation into a mystery intentionally to conceal the lessons from hoi polloi. The audience must decode Empedocles' message before they can make further observations of the world on their way to meeting their goal. Following the model for initiation, the readers will come to the ultimate revelation on their own. Finally, Chapter Five focuses on what can be determined from Empedocles verses: the readers must learn how to emulate the actions of Love and Strife since they are the active agents of change in the world. By learning about how the world works from Empedocles' verses and their own observation, his students, as gods themselves, will also influence the fabric of the universe to achieve whatever they wish.


Description Explores the rhetorical presentation of ideas about the world in Empedocles' text. Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. . ProQuest Doc. ID 756899834.

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Authors & Contributors
Inwood, Brad
Calvo Martínez, José Luis
Artés Hernández, José Antonio
Faraone, Christopher A.
Kropp, Amina
MHNH (Revista Internacional de Investigación sobre Magia y Astrología Antiguas)
American Journal of Philology
Korean Journal of Medical History
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
Journal of the History of Philosophy
University of Toronto Press
University of California Press
de Gruyter
Cambridge University Press
University of Toronto
McGill University (Canada)
Occult sciences
Linguistic or semantic analysis
Primary literature (historical sources)
Science and literature
Empedocles of Agrigentum
Faraone, Christopher A.
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae
13th century
15th century
Early modern

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