chapter  III
36 Pages

Interpreting the Framework

According to the reconstruction offered above, Empedocles did not open his work with an account of the four elements, or the elements plus Love and Strife. Although these six "first principles" are basic to his whole conception of the universe, and any interpretation of his thought must make them its central object, his poem began, and perhaps ended, with a claim to superhuman status.1 This aspect of the work is confirmed by its presence in the biographical tradition from the start,2 and now, if my interpretation of B 23.11, B 2.7-8 and other doxographical material is valid, we have good evidence that Empedocles consistently portrayed his teachings as a divine revelation, thereby matching the authority of Parmenides' goddess.