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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Parmenides (fl. early Fifth Century B.C.)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
PARMENIDES, son of Pyrrhes, and the most famous of the Eleatic philosophers, was born at Elea, in Southern Italy, about 520 B.C. Of his personal history little is known: merely that he took an active part in the politics of his native city, drawing up for it a code of laws to which the Eleans every year swore to conform; and that late in life, about 454 B.C., he made a visit to Athens in company with his pupil Zeno, and there made the acquaintance of Socrates, then a very young man (see Plato, ‘Parmenides,’ 127, A, B; ‘Sophist,’ 217, C; ‘Theætetus,’ 183, E). He seems to have been acquainted with the thought of the Ionian philosophers, especially of Anaximander and Heraclitus, but to have been more deeply influenced by Pythagoras and Xenophanes. He numbered among his friends Empedocles and Leucippus, and taught Melissus and Zeno. His only written work was a poem ‘On Nature,’ of which considerable fragments remain. These have several times been collected. The best editions of them are those by Karsten (1835), and by Stein in ‘Symbola Philologorum Bonnensium’ (1864–7), pages 763–806. There is a complete English translation of them in hexameters by Thomas Davidson in Vol. iv. of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, pages 1–16.  1
  With the exception of Heraclitus, Parmenides is the greatest of the pre-Socratic Greek thinkers. His importance consists chiefly in the fact that he was the first person to distinguish between the Ideal and the Real; between Being, eternal, unchangeable, and the subject of science, and Becoming, transient, changeable, and mere matter of opinion. Being he identifies with thought; and Becoming with sensation. He is thus the prime author of that dualism which runs through all subsequent Greek thinking, and which logically leads to asceticism in life and absolutism in politics. The resemblance of his philosophy to certain Hindu systems has induced some writers—e.g., Gladisch in his ‘Die Eleaten und die Indier’ (Posen, 1844)—to connect it with these; but it is in fact due to a combination of the Pythagorean principle of number with the Ionic notion of process. It led the way to the universal subjectivism of the Sophists.  2
 
 
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