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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Other Fragments from the Poem on Nature
By Empedocles (c. 495–435 B.C.)
AND thou shalt learn all the drugs that are a defense against ills and old age, since for thee alone shall I accomplish all this. Thou shalt arrest the violence of the weariless winds that arise and sweep the earth, laying waste the cornfields with their breath; and again, when thou so desirest, thou shalt bring their blasts back again with a rush. Thou shalt cause for men a seasonable drought after the dark rains, and again after the summer drought thou shalt produce the streams that feed the trees as they pour down from the sky. Thou shalt bring back from Hades the life of a dead man.  1
  Fools! for they have no far-reaching thoughts who deem that what before was not comes into being, or that aught can perish and be utterly destroyed. For it cannot be that aught can arise from what in no way is, and it is impossible and unheard-of that what is should perish; for it will always be, wherever one may keep putting it.  2
  I shall tell thee a twofold tale. At one time things grew to be one only out of many; at another, that divided up to be many instead of one. There is a double becoming of perishable things, and a double passing away. The coming together of all things brings one generation into being and destroys it; the other grows up and is scattered as things become divided. And these things never cease, continually changing places, at one time all uniting in one through Love, at another each borne in different directions by the repulsions of Strife.  3
  For of a truth, they [i.e., Love and Strife] were aforetime and shall be; nor ever, methinks, will boundless time be emptied of that pair. And they prevail in turn as the circle comes round, and pass away before one another, and increase in their appointed turn.  4
  For if thou takest them [trees and plants] to the close recesses of thy heart and watchest over them kindly with faultless care, then thou shalt have all these things in abundance throughout thy life, and thou shalt gain many others from them; for each grows ever true to its own character, according as its nature is. But if thou strivest after things of a different kind, as is the way with men, ten thousand woes await thee to blunt thy careful thoughts. All at once they will cease to live when the time comes round, desiring each to reach its own kind: for know that all things have wisdom and a share of thought.  5
  It is not possible for us to set God before our eyes, or to lay hold of him with our hands, which is the broadest way of persuasion that leads into the heart of man. For he is not furnished with a human head on his body, two branches do not sprout from his shoulders, he has no feet, no swift knees, nor hairy parts; but he is only a sacred and unutterable Mind, flashing through the whole world with rapid thoughts.  6

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