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Parmenides from Right to Left

Jaap Mansfeld

Résumé

Parmenides devotes considerable attention to human physiology in an entirely original way, by appealing to the behaviour and effects of his two physical elements when explaining subjects such as sex differentiation in the womb, aspects of heredity, and sleep and old age. Unlike his general cosmology and account of the origin of mankind, this topos, or part of philosophy, is not anticipated in his Presocratic predecessors. What follows is that the second part of the Poem, whatever its relation to the first part may be believed to be, is meant as a serious account of the world and man from a physicist point of view.

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Texte intégral

1

  • 1 ‘Nota praefabor’, to quote Von Wilamowitz–Moellendorff (1975) 131.

1Scholars habitually read Parmenides’ Poem from left to right, just as they think about its message from its beginning to its end, from fragment 28B1 via fragment B8 to the conclusion in fragment B19 Diels–Kranz ; that is to say from the proem to the ontology, and from the ontology to the cosmogony and cosmology, or, in the ancient sense of this term, physics. The testimonies (fragments A1 to A54) are distributed and interpreted according to this sequence as well, again from left to right. But order of presentation is not equivalent to order of discovery. To arrive at the ontology one has to leave the world behind, or at least the world of humanity, as the proem of the Poem in fact intimates. But to be able to leave this world one must have been there. It seems to me that it is in fact the time-honoured problem of the origin and organization of the world, a problem that had been approached both in a mythologizing and in a more or less rational manner, which was of primary importance for Parmenides. Just like others, for instance his rivals Hesiod or Anaximander, he convinced himself that behind or beyond the phenomena there is something else, something more important and fundamental, and that therefore one may distinguish two different levels, namely of the phenomena and of what is behind them, which are present simultaneously albeit in different ways. He even went much farther, persuading himself that this other dimension is not the ultimate level, and did so in a way that is very different from that of Anaximander.1

  • 2 Overviews at Zeller–Mondolfo–Reale (1965 = 2011) 292–391, Kraus (2013) 481–486. See also Finkelberg (...)

2One may approach Parmenides’ thought in different ways, and thus make a choice. Melissus of Samos, and Plato, who for the most part looked at Parmenides with the eyes of Melissus, were only, or almost exclusively, interested in the ontology and its implications. Anaxagoras, Empedocles and the Atomists were in the first place interested in the physics, into which they variously included crucial ingredients of the ontology. Neither Melissus or Plato, nor Anaxagoras, Empedocles or the Atomists, as far as we know, bothered about the famous problem of the interpretation of Parmenides that to a large extent dominates the scholarly discussion, namely that of the relation between ontology and physics, and of the status of this physics in relation to the ontology.2

  • 3 Mansfeld (1995) 230–232. Another interpretation of B1.31–32 is proposed by e.g. Marcinkowska-Rosól (...)

3At the end of the proem, 28B1.28–30, we are told that all things (πάντα) have to be learned, ‘both the unshaken heart of well-rounded truth and the opinions of mortals, in which there is no true trust’. The expression ‘heart of well-rounded truth’, words that are as fascinating as they are enigmatic, can only be understood when at B8.49 we have reached the end of the first part of the Poem. The two lines that follow in the proem, B1.31–32, justifying the teaching of also these opinions, are even more cryptic, and because so much of the second part of the Poem has been lost we are unable to fathom their precise meaning, or so I believe.3 The only thing that is clear is that these beliefs are to be evaluated in some way. For once we should read the lines B1.28–32 backwards, and at least accept that ‘it is appropriate’ (χρεώ) that ‘all’ things be learned, opinions as well as truth. To find out more about the status of the physics we should concentrate on what Parmenides is actually doing in the second part of the Poem.

  • 4 Arist. Met. Α.5 986b14–987a2 (= 28A24, in part). Cf. Phys. 1.2 184b26–185a1, ‘to inquire whether Be (...)

4The first to place the relation between the two parts of the Poem explicitly on the agenda was Aristotle, who says that Parmenides on the one hand placed himself beyond physics by postulating that there is only one immobile Being — but that, on the other hand, constrained to follow the phenomena, he introduced two physical elements, the hot and the cold or fire and earth in order to construct the world, and in this way designed a theory of nature. A remarkable divergence, but not, it appears, a fatal one. Aristotle even provides a link between the two parts of the Poem by adding that Parmenides classified the hot as Being and the cold as non-Being.4 That this particular link is most unlikely matters much less than that he endeavoured to find one.

  • 5 Arist. Phys. 1.2 185a5–20, esp. 17–19, even Melissus and Parmenides ‘raise physical questions, thou (...)
  • 6 Arist. Met. Γ.5 1009b12–31, successively citing Emp. 31B106 and B108, Parm. 28B16, Anaxag. 56A28, a (...)
  • 7 See, e.g., Plu. Adv.Col. 1114B-D (28A34, cf. B10), and Alexander ap. Simp. in Phys. 71.6–8, ‘Parmen (...)

5What is therefore no less interesting is that Aristotle cites individual doctrines selected from Parmenides’ physics without bothering about this discrepancy. Of the two options offered by Parmenides Aristotle definitely prefers the second.5 Parmenides’ theory of human knowledge, for instance, is put by him on a par with Anaxagoras’ and Empedocles’ (and even Homer’s).6 In this way he made possible a reception and valuation of the ideas and suggestions constituting the second part of the Poem as no more, or no less, problematic than those of other Presocratic thinkers7 or of Plato, and even, in the eyes of later philosophers, than those of Aristotle himself.

6In the present paper I shall be concerned with a substantial part of the history of this reception, and use it to try and draw some conclusions. Though for the sake of simplicity the evidence will not always actually be discussed from right to left, a fair amount of backshadowing underlies most of the following inquiry.

2

  • 8 Numbers for comparable name-labels: Xenophanes 20, Zeno 3, Melissus 6; Thales 23 (often honoris cau (...)
  • 9 We are handicapped here because for Book 5 Stobaeus is mostly lost. Even so, Parmenides’ 4 citation (...)
  • 10 These texts are cited from back to front, i.e. from 5.30.4 to 1.7.27, in the Appendix at the end of (...)

7For the most part I shall look at the evidence of the Aëtian Placita, the foundational doxographical treatise to be dated to somewhere in the first century CE, which deals with physical philosophy. Here Parmenides is present in the form of 30 extant lemmata (i.e., paragraphs of chapters) that contain his name-label, distributed from left to right over the whole treatise :8 3 lemmata in Book 1 on principles and general concepts, 13 in Book 2 on cosmology, 3 in Book 3 on meteorology and the earth, 7 in Book 4 on psychology and some epistemology, and 4 in Book 5 on human physiology and related themes.9,10

8Some of these lemmata apparently or even clearly reproduce Parmenides’ original point of view more or less faithfully, while in others this has been reinterpreted.

  • 11 Mansfeld (1999). Note that Theophr. Sens. 1–3 (28A46) finds no evidence enabling him to attribute t (...)
  • 12 Asterisks are added because the lemmata of Book 2 are numbered according to the reconstruction of t (...)
  • 13 Diels (1897) 104 believed that only Theophrastus could have composed a paraphrase of such excellenc (...)
  • 14 As to this rejection the lemma echoes Arist. Cael. 3.1 298b14–17 (28A25) on Melissus and Parmenides (...)
  • 15 The word πᾶν is applied in the verbatim fragments to the Being of Parmenides (28B8.5, B8.22, B8.25, (...)

9I briefly mention some examples. Clear instances of reinterpretation, and even of some sort of normalization and trivialization, are the two lemmata with multiple name labels 4.9.1 and 4.9.6. In 4.9.1 Parmenides, along with ten other philosophers, is said to hold that the senses are false. This will ultimately be based on his rejection of the use of eyes, ears, and tongue at 28B7.3–5, lines that have indeed been generally interpreted as pertaining to sense perception. I have argued elsewhere, however, that Parmenides refers to our means of communication, and that here the tongue is not the organ of taste but the instrument with which we speak.11 In 4.9.6 he is made to share with five others the view that the various sense objects fit into the pores of the sense organs at which they are directed, which is simply false. In other cases, too, his doctrine has been assimilated to that of others. At 1.25.3 his stance has been reinterpreted and coalesced with a reinterpreted view of Democritus. We recognize the latter’s Necessity and the former’s Justice and Necessity as found in B10.6–7 and B8.30–31 (though functioning differently in the latter), who seem to have been blended with the steering Goddess of 28B12.3 and B13. But the introduction of ‘fate’ and even ‘providence’ is surely anachronistic, and is meant to cater to a Hellenistic audience. Providence as a term for what happens in Parmenides’ cosmogony is not entirely wrong, but certainly beyond the mark for Democritus. The formula of 2.7.1*,12he also calls it (sc. ‘the central band that is both the <origin> and the <cause> of all motion and coming into being’) directive Daimôn, Holder of the keys, Justice and Necessity’ is to some extent similar to what is at 1.25.3, but much closer to what is in the verbatim fragments 28B12–13. In fact, 2.7.1* is not at all bad qua paraphrase of B11–1313 and, as we may presume, of the lost lines in the vicinity of these three fragments. But the advancement of the sphere of B8.42–49 to divine status at 1.7.27, where this God retains the attributes ‘immobile and limited’ of the verbatim fragment, turns an ontological simile into a standard feature of natural theology. Appropriately, this lemma does not speak of Being, for we are dealing with physics not first philosophy. Another echo of the ontology in the Placita, at 1.24.1, also omits to mention Being, but correctly focuses upon the crucial rejection of coming to be and passing away.14 But again the resulting immobility is not attributed to Being. This time it is the property of the All, into which Parmenides’ and Melissus’ Being had by now been transposed, a move prepared by Aristotle.15 Zeno, the third Eleatic of note, has been included in their company because he did argue against motion. But this amalgamation of a distant echo of this aspect of his thought into the ontology of Parmenides and Melissus, reinterpreted in a cosmological sense, is of course incompatible with the brilliant paradoxes as we know them. A further reminiscence of ontological attributes that have now been turned into physical assets is at 2.4.5*, where Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Melissus are credited with the view that ‘the cosmos is ungenerated and everlasting and indestructible’. Here Xenophanes has been made to toe the line of his purported successors. And the ontological One is echoed in the cosmological lemma 2.1.2*, where Parmenides and Melissus are made to share the view that ‘the cosmos is unique’ with nine others (but presumably the Zeno mentioned ad finem is the Stoic, not the Eleatic).

  • 16 See above, n. 4. For the elements cf. Arist. Phys. 1.5 188a19–21, GC 1.3 318b6–7, GC 2.3 330b13–15 (...)
  • 17 Theophr. Phys.Op. fr. 6 Diels = 227C FHS&G (28A7), Hipp. Ref. 1.11.1 (28A23), Diog. Laërt. 9.21–23 (...)

10Even so, the rejection of coming to be and passing away and the resulting immobility of the All as formulated at 1.24.1 cannot not so easily be matched with all those lemmata in the Placita where Parmenides is credited with fairly standard physical tenets. This contrast recalls Aristotle’s seminal observation about Parmenides as being, on the one hand, extraneous to physics with his doctrine of the immobile One, and on the other as being forced to introduce two elements for physical philosophy, and undoubtedly echoes it.16 Aristotle’s analysis of these two options is variously followed elsewhere, and in one form or another influences Theophrastus and the main doxographical accounts, namely those of Hippolytus, Diogenes Laërtius, ps.Plutarch Stromateis, and Theodoret.17 In these passages the ontology and the physics are described without any suggestion that a serious problem of consistency is involved. Diogenes Laërtius moreover begins and ends with physical tenets, and deals with the ontology in the middle.

  • 18 See 28B14–15.
  • 19 For the origin, nature, and works of the moon see the announcements at 28B10.1 + 4–5, B11.1.
  • 20 For the Milky Way in a cosmogonical context see the announcement at 28B11.2.
  • 21 For the origin, nature, and works of the sun see the announcements at 28B10.2–3 and B11.1.
  • 22 Cf. 28B12, which however is about cosmogony.
  • 23 Cf. Diog.Laërt. 9.23 (28A1).
  • 24 For the origin and nature of the stars see the announcements at 28B10.1–2, B10.7, B11.3, for those (...)

11Of the lemmata in the cosmological Book 2 that are normal and unobjectionable qua physical doctrine, I have already briefly discussed 2.7.1*. The others are : 2.30.5*, on the ‘appearance of the moon’ due to the blending of the dark element with fire-like element ; 2.28.6*, on the moon as illuminated by the sun,18 a view said to be shared with five other philosophers ; 2.26.2*, again on the moon as illuminated by the sun and as being equal to it in size ; 2.25.2*, the moon is fiery as to its substance, a view said to be shared with two other philosophers ;19 2.30.3*, the sun is fiery as to its substance, a view said to be shared with one other philosopher ; 2.20.5*, on the origin of sun and moon as having been separated off from the Milky Way,20 ‘the former from the more rarefied mixture which is hot, the latter from the denser (mixture) which is cold’ ;21 2.15.7*, on the order of the heavenly bodies22 in the ether : first the Dawn-Star, ‘considered by him to be identical with the Evening-star’,23 then the sun, then ‘the heavenly bodies in the fiery region, which he calls ‘heaven’’ ; 2.13.8*, the heavenly bodies are condensations of fire, a view said to be shared with one other philosopher ; and finally 2.11.4*, the heaven is fiery, a view shared with three others.24

12Thus we have a total of ten lemmata, where Parmenides’ view is listed as one among a number of different others in the usual manner of chapters in the Placita, and in several cases is even said to be shared with other philosophers, another sign that here he is presented as an average early physicist. In some cases the original hexameters from which these summary statements derive are still extant.

3

13Six among the ten chapters, from 2.30 to 2.11, that I have just cited, also list earlier philosophers who are credited with a view on the issue at hand : 2.28 Thales and Pythagoras ; 2.25 Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes ; 2.20 Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes ; 2.15 Anaximander ; 2.13 Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes ; and 2.11 Anaximander and Anaximenes. That is to say, Thales three times, Pythagoras (whom we may discount) once, Anaximander five times, Anaximenes four, and Xenophanes three. There is sufficient evidence elsewhere to support this attribution of cosmological doctrines to Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes, although not in every detail. Parmenides, the last member of the company of early cosmologists, is here just one of the happy few. Though in some cases his views may be somewhat or even substantially different from those of his predecessors, they all belong to what, in later parlance, we may see as the same discourse, or the same sub-division of physics.

  • 25 5.19.4, ‘the first living beings were born in the moist substance and were covered with spiky bark. (...)

14But this is not at all the case for those lemmata with name-label Parmenides in Book 5 that deal with human physiology and matters concerned with heredity. No predecessors are mentioned here, and there is absolutely no evidence elsewhere either that Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, or Xenophanes attempted to deal with these issues. The only exception is ch. 5.7 on ‘The origin of animals’ (Περὶ ζῴων γενέσεως). At 5.17.4 a famous doctrine of Anaximander is cited, which in various forms is also attested elsewhere.25 But this topic is also an ingredient of creation myths world-wide.

  • 26 Cens. 4.7–8 (28A51) mentions Empedocles’ theory of the origin from the earth of individual limbs an (...)

15In Parmenides the origin of animals (or rather : mammals) became connected with the question of sex determination. See 5.7, ‘How males and females are engendered’. Parmenides’ name-label is in 5.7.2 and the lemma is about how things were in the beginning, when they were much different from how they are now. We learn that then the first males were generated in the north (sc. of the earth), because of their larger share in the dense element [i.e., earth or night : the cold], and the first females in the south, on account of their low density [i.e., their share in fire : the hot]. This view is explicitly said to be the opposite of the previous view cited at 5.7.1 : according to Empedocles sex differentiation is a question of hot and cold, and the first males were born from the earth more in the east and south, and the first females in the north. We note the non-chronological sequence of the doxai in this chapter, naturally according to a procedure that commonly occurs in doxographical texts. The coupling of these two thinkers and the two (partly rewritten) doxai themselves derive from a passage in Aristotle’s On the Parts of Animals, where, however, the chronological order is preserved and it is Empedocles who is said to represent the opposition. Aristotle, limiting himself to the difference in temperature between males and females, does not mention the origin of the animals from various regions of the earth.26 On the other hand he does attribute to Parmenides a difference in this respect between women and men disertis verbis, women being hotter and possessing more blood.

  • 27 Arist. PA 2.2 648a25–31 (28A52, not printed in the Empedocles chapter). Censorinus (above, n. 26) d (...)

16We observe again that Aristotle does not differentiate as to status or validity between a doctrine cited from Parmenides’ physics and one from the physics of Empedocles.27

  • 28 The original account has been partly preserved in 28B17, ‘boys on the right sides and girls on the (...)

17In another lemma of this chapter on sex differentiation, 5.7.4, Parmenides is said to share with Anaxagoras the view that semen ‘from the right’ (δεξιῶν, plural : sc. parts of the body of the male parent), that is deposited (‘sown’, καταβάλλεσθαι) ‘in the right parts of the womb’, produces males, and from the left (parts), that is deposited in the left (parts) of the womb, produces females. Right is supposed to be cold, and left hot.28 This is not about the primeval history but about how things are now.

  • 29 That the sex of the embryo depends on the side of the womb where it develops is a view that is foun (...)
  • 30 The word does not occur elsewhere in ps.Plutarch, and, curiously enough, is not listed in the index (...)

18Heredity is at issue in 5.11, ‘How the likenesses to parents and ancestors come about’. I believe that in 5.11.2, name-label Parmenides, the phrase τῆς μήτρας ὁ γόνος ἀποκριθῇ is lacunose. As transmitted this means ‘the semen (that) is excreted from the womb’, but as we have seen above at 5.7.4, semen is supposed to be ‘sown from’, that is, to derive from, the ‘right parts’ of the body of the male parent.29 Excretion or separating off, moreover, does not seem as normally applicable to the formation of ‘seed’ in the womb as it is to the emission of semen from the body of the male parent. Another possibility is that γόνος30 has to be taken in the sense not of ‘semen’ but of ‘offspring’. But this does not help, for though the sex of the child when issuing from the womb is of course clear, no explanation is now put forward as to how this came about in the first place. And according to 5.7.4 and the verbatim fragment 28B18 (cited below) both parents have to be involved.

  • 31 See, in general, Journée (2012).
  • 32 Cens. 6.8 (28A54), cum dexterae partes semina dederint, tunc filios esse patri consimiles, cum laev (...)
  • 33 Thus disagreeing with Kember (1971) 71–72. [Gal.] PhH c. 115, DG p. 642.12–15, coalesced the two le (...)

19Nevertheless we read in 5.11.2 according to the text of the Byzantine manuscripts of ps.Plutarch that children resemble their male ancestors when the seed is excreted from the right side of the womb, and their female ancestors when this is excreted from the left side. The association of left with female and right with male is consistent with the other evidence,31 but otherwise this lemma is unclear. But the parallels in Censorinus, which mention ‘the right parts and left parts’ as ‘giving semen’ (dederint) or as those from which semen ‘is emitted’ or ‘originates’ (exeat), provide further information.32 Here the right and left parts of the body of the male parent must be meant. Yet the womb of 5.11.2 has to be explained as well. I take it that, analogous to what is at issue in 5.7.4, what is produced by the right parts must be deposited in the right side of the womb to result in resemblance to male ancestors, and what is produced by the left parts must be deposited in the left side of the womb to result in resemblance to female ancestors.33

  • 34 Cens. 5.4, illud quoque ambiguam facit inter auctores opinionem, utrumne ex patris tantummodo semin (...)

20Parmenides’ involvement with heredity is also at issue in the verbatim fragment B18, Caelius Aurelianus’ translation in six Latin hexameters of a number of lines in the original Poem dealing with both the happy and the unhappy outcome of the blending of the ‘offshoots of love’ (Veneris … germina) of woman and man. This suggests that not only males but also females produce seed. In fact this is attested for Parmenides by Censorinus.34

  • 35 Tert. de An. 43 (28A46b) — printing error de An. 45 in DK: Empedocles et Parmenides refrigerationem(...)

21In concluding this overview we should not forget to mention the other lemma of Book 5 where human physiology is at issue : 5.30.4, where old age is explained by ‘deficiency of heat’, a view paralleled by the explanation of sleep as a cooling off mentioned by Tertullian.35

  • 36 Lesky (1950) 41 firmly believes in a Pythagorean precedent, but there is no evidence for Early Pyth (...)
  • 37 Discussed, but somewhat exaggerated, by Kember (1971); cf. above, n. 33 and text thereto.
  • 38 Journée (2012) 290–296.
  • 39 Eros borrowed from Hes. Theog. 116–122, as Aristotle, presumably using Hippias’ anthology, already (...)

22As I have already said above, this interest in heredity and sex differentation (as well as in a physicalist explanation of sleep and old age) is not anticipated by Parmenides’ predecessors in the field of physics.36 There is no earlier medical evidence dealing with these subjects either. That Parmenides wrote about them is absolutely certain, for the comparatively rich A-fragments are confirmed by no less than two verbatim fragments, B17 and B18. The uncertainties of the evidence as transmitted in the doxography37 are irrelevant when set off against the occurrence of these doctrines as a set. The importance that this novel field of study held for Parmenides is moreover obvious from the fact that he used the differences between the sexes, sexual congress, and the ensuing generation of offspring metaphorically to describe the mixture of the elements and the formation of compounds in the cosmological lines B12.4–6.38 The divinity directing this process then created Eros as first of all the gods (B13), doubtless to ensure that congress and generation would not fail.39

  • 40 For the offerings of fictile wombs with pronounced right ovaries in the temple of Hera at Paestum s (...)

23The theory concerned with sex differentiation, by providing what may well be an example of the author’s intention, may even suggest a clue for the evaluation of the second part of the Poem. Archeological evidence from Paestum, a town not far from Elea, has been cited for a popular belief that males are formed on the right side of the womb. A belief of this nature without a doubt belongs with the ‘human beliefs’ (δόξας … βροτείας) of B8.51 and the ‘beliefs of mortals’ (βροτν δόξας) and ‘things that are believed’ (δοκοντα) of B1.30–31.40 In Parmenides’ theory it is placed on a scientific footing and explained in a rational way, not only by combining the polar opposites left/right with the seed of both parents and its places of provenance and deposition, but in the first place by his appeal to the two physical elements. We encounter these elements also everywhere else in the second part of the Poem, so this may help explain the words ‘completely going through all things’ (δι παντς πάντα περντα) of B1.32, assuming that this is the right reading with the right translation. As a matter of fact ‘all things (πάντα) have been called Light and Night’ (B9.1). The human view of Eros is reinterpreted as well, and Eros is placed on a different footing, as it takes on — just as the anonymous Goddess who created it — the role of (in Aristotelian terms) moving cause in relation to these elements. The anonymous Goddess, as we recall, ‘steers all things’ (πάντα, B12.3). The basic cosmological structure, widely valid till Plato’s Timaeus and beyond, is now in place : a set of elements and one or more Demiurges.

  • 41 This evaluation is the opposite of that of the great Eduard Zeller (1963) 719, ‘Was er über den Unt (...)
  • 42 Cf. much later a subdivision of Stoic physics, Diog. Laërt. 7.133: ‘in the first of its [sc. of eti (...)
  • 43 Kraus (2013) 2.496 rightly concludes that, notwithstanding the fragmentary nature of the evidence, (...)

24However this may be, it cannot be denied that Parmenides added another and most important part of scientific inquiry41 to the more strictly cosmological and meteorological investigations of the Ionians and Xenophanes.42 This can only mean that natural philosophy was practised by him in earnest.43

25If we are right to believe that it was he, and not Thales, who was the first to argue that the light of the moon is borrowed from the sun (B14–15, A42), this foundational discovery in the field of astronomy is another sign of his commitment and empathy with nature. If the reports about his identification of the Morning and the Evening Star (2.15.7, A40a) and of the earth’s being round (A44) are reliable, further proof is provided of his pioneering study of the system of the heavens. The fact alone that these views came to attributed to him is proof of the high esteem he won as a student of nature.

  • 44 Inscription of the 1st cent. CE, first published Ebner (1962) 32 ff., with plate 6: Παρμεναίδης Πύρ (...)

26It is not impossible that his association with the clan, or company, of doctors in Elea called Ouliadai, attested by a handful of inscriptions, inspired or at least stimulated this interest in the biological and physiological side of human nature.44 But this cannot suffice to explain le miracle parménidéen. The physics is as important a contribution to the development of philosophy and science as the ontology, and not merely because it inspired the systems of Anaxagoras, Empedocles and the Atomists.

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Annexe

Appendix : The Aëtian lemmata with name-label Parmenides45

The following 4 lemmata are found in the final Book of the Placita :

5.30.4 (28A46a), ‘Parmenides : (says that) old age occurs from the deficiency of heat’ ;

5.11.2 (28A54), ‘Parmenides (says that), whenever the seed is separated out from the right part of the womb [ ?],46 (resemblances) to the male ancestors (occur), but whenever this happens from the left side, (resemblances) to the female ancestors (occur)’ ;

5.7.1 (31A81), Empedocles (says that) males and females are born through heat and cold. Hence it is recounted that the first males were born from the earth more in the east and the south, whereas the first females were born in the north’, + 5.7.2 (28A53), ‘Parmenides the other way around : that the males grew in the north, for they share more in the dense element, the females in the south on account of their lack of density’ ;

5.7.4 (59A111 + 28A53), Anaxagoras Parmenides (say that males are born) when the seed from the right parts (sc. of the body of the male parent) is deposited on the right side of the womb and the seed from the left parts (sc. of the body of the male parent) is deposited on the left side ; but if the deposition is reversed, (then) females occur’.

⁋ There are 7 lemmata in Book 4 :

4.9.14 (28A50 + 31A95),47Parmenides Empedocles (say) that desire (arises) from a deficiency of food’ ;

4.13.10 (28A48),‘Some inscribe Pythagoras to this doxa (sc. Hipparchus’ doctrine, cited 4.13.9, of visual rays issuing from the eyes) as well, since he is an authority for mathematics, and in addition to him Parmenides, who shows this through his Poem’ ;48

4.9.1 (Pyth. — + Emp. — + 21A49 + 28A49 + 29A23 + 30A14 + 59A96 + fr. 54 Luria + 70A22 + Protag. — + Plato —), ‘Pythagoras Empedocles Xenophanes Parmenides Zeno Melissus Anaxagoras Democritus Metrodorus Protagoras Plato (say that) the sensations are false’ ;

4.9.6 (28A45 + 31A90 + Anaxag. — + fr. 437 Luria + Epic. — + Heraclides fr. 122a–b Wehrli, 63A–B Schütrumpf), ‘Parmenides Empedocles Anaxagoras Democritus Epicurus Heraclides (say) that the particular sensations of their particular object occur in accordance with the matching-sizes of the pores, each of the sense objects corresponding to each sense’ ;

4.5.12 (28A45 + 31A96 + Democr. —), ‘Parmenides and Empedocles and Democritus (say that) intellect and soul are the same thing. According to them no living being could be without reason in the true sense of the word’.

4.5.5 (28A45 + 312 Us.), ‘Parmenides (says that the regent part is) in the whole chest ; as also does Epicurus’ ;

4.3.4 (28A45 + 18.9 + T 460 Mouraviev), Parmenides and Hippasus and Heraclitus (say) that (the soul) is fire-like’.

There are only 3 lemmata in Book 3 :

3.15.7 (28A44 + cf. 68A98, frs. 4, 379, 403 Luria), ‘Parmenides Democritus (say that the earth) remains in equilibrium because it is equidistant at all sides [sc. from the surrounding heavens] ; it has no ground for moving this way rather than that ; because of this it is merely shaken, but it does not move’ ;

3.11.4 (28A44a), ‘Parmenides was the first to define the inhabited zones of the earth under the two tropic zones’ ;49

3.1.4 (28A43a), ‘Parmenides (says that) the whitish colour (of the Milky Way) is the result of the mixture of the dense and the rare (elements)’.

There are no less than 13 lemmata in Book 2 :50

2.30.5* (28B28), ‘Parmenides (says that the earthy appearance of the moon occurs) on account of the dark (component) having been mixed in with the fire-like (component) in it ; for this reason the heavenly body is called ‘falsely appearing’ ;

2.28.6* (— + 28A42 + 31A60 + 59A77 + 70A12 DK cf. B14), ‘Pythagoras Parmenides Empedocles Anaxagoras Metrodorus (say) likewise’ [sc. that (the moon) is illuminated by the sun, just as Thales] ;

2.26.2* (28A42), ‘Parmenides (says that the moon is) equal to the sun (in size), and that it is illuminated by it’ ;

2.25.2* (13A16 + 28A42 + T446 Mouraviev), ‘Anaximenes Parmenides Heraclitus (say that the moon is) fiery’ ;

2.20.3* (13A15 + 28A41), ‘Anaximenes Parmenides (say that the substance of the sun is) fiery’ ;

2.20.15* (28A41), ‘Parmenides (says that) the sun and the moon have been separated off from the Milky Way, the former from the more rarefied mixture which is hot, the latter from the denser (mixture) which is cold’ ;

2.15.7* (28A40a), ‘Parmenides orders the Morning Star, which is considered by him to be identical with the Evening Star, as first in the ether ; after it the sun, beneath which he places the heavenly bodies (i.e. stars) in the fiery region, which he calls ‘heaven’’ ;

2.13.8* (28A39 + 22A11), ‘Parmenides Heraclitus (say that the heavenly bodies are) condensations of fire’ ;

2.11.4* (28A38 + 22A10 + fr. 84 Wehrli, 42 Sharples + SVF 1.116), ‘Parmenides Heraclitus Strato Zeno (say that the heaven is) fiery’ ;

2.7.1* (28A37), ‘Parmenides says there are bands wound around each other, the one made up of the rare, the other of the dense, while others between these are mixed from light and darkness. And that which surrounds them all is solid like a wall. || Below it is a fiery band. And the most central (part) is also (solid), around which there is again a fiery band. Of the mixed bands the most central is both the <origin> and the <cause> of all motion and coming into being for all the others. He also calls it directive Daimôn, Holder of the Keys, Justice and Necessity. And the air is what is separated from the earth, vaporized through the earth’s stronger condensation, while the sun and the Milky Way are the exhalation of fire. The moon is a mixture of both, of air and fire. The ether encircles above everything else, and below it the fiery (part) is disposed which we call heaven, below which the earthly regions have their place’ ;

2.4.5* (21A37 + 28A36 + 30A9), ‘Xenophanes and Parmenides and Melissus (say that) the cosmos is ungenerated and everlasting and indestructible’ ;

2.1.2* (11A13b + 51.3 + Emped. — + Ecph. — + 28A36 + 30A9 + 22A10 + 59A63 + Plato — + Arist. — + SVF 1.97), ‘Thales Pythagoras Empedocles Ecphantus Parmenides Melissus Heraclitus Anaxagoras Plato Aristotle Zeno (say that) the cosmos is unique’.

There are, finally, only 3 lemmata again in Book 1 :51

1.25.3 (28A26 + frr. 23, 589 Luria), ‘Parmenides and Democritus (say) everything (happens) according to Necessity ; (and that) Fate and Justice and Providence and world-creating are identical’ ;

1.24.1 (28A29 + 30A12 + Zeno –), ‘Parmenides Melissus Zeno abolished coming to be and passing away because they were convinced that the All is immobile’ ;

1.7.27 (28A31), ‘Parmenides says (that the god) is the immobile and limited spherical’.

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Notes

1 ‘Nota praefabor’, to quote Von Wilamowitz–Moellendorff (1975) 131.

2 Overviews at Zeller–Mondolfo–Reale (1965 = 2011) 292–391, Kraus (2013) 481–486. See also Finkelberg (1998) 158–160, 168–169, on ‘lies resembling truth’ and a ‘plausible account’ accompanying a ‘truthful’ one.

3 Mansfeld (1995) 230–232. Another interpretation of B1.31–32 is proposed by e.g. Marcinkowska-Rosól (2007), who takes χρῆν as infinitive and translates ‘aber trotzdem wirst du auch diese kennen lernen, als diejenigen, die scheinen, wirklich sein zu müssen, alles beständig (bzw. ganz und gar) durchdringend’. But also this interpretation is based on an evaluation of the status of the second part of the Poem, and read without such backshadowing and foreshadowing the lines with χρῆν as infinitive are still enigmatic.

4 Arist. Met. Α.5 986b14–987a2 (= 28A24, in part). Cf. Phys. 1.2 184b26–185a1, ‘to inquire whether Being is one and immobile is not to inquire about nature’ (τὸ μὲν οὖν εἰ ἓν καὶ ἀκίνητον τὸ ὂν σκοπεῖν οὐ περὶ φύσεώς ἐστι σκοπεῖν), and Gal. Elem. 1.448.8–14 K., who refers to and quotes from this chapter of Physics. Also GC 1.3 318b6–7, ‘Parmenides says Being and not-Being are fire and earth’. For this identification of fire and Being Aristotle, interpreting ὄν as a substantivized participle, may have been inspired by 28B8.55–56, πῦρ, / ἤπιον ὄν: ‘fire, a gentle Being’. In the lines that follow in B8 night is described as the contrary of fire.

5 Arist. Phys. 1.2 185a5–20, esp. 17–19, even Melissus and Parmenides ‘raise physical questions, though nature is not their subject’ (περὶ φύσεως μὲν οὔ, φυσικὰς δὲ ἀπορίας συμβαίνει λέγειν αὐτοῖς). Here Parmenides is still looked at through the eyes of Melissus. Alexander ap. Simp. in Phys. 71.3–4 explains that it is their ‘account of motion and the infinite and the void’, which raises these questions.

6 Arist. Met. Γ.5 1009b12–31, successively citing Emp. 31B106 and B108, Parm. 28B16, Anaxag. 56A28, and a parallel to Democr. 68A101 (ap. Arist. de An. 1 2.404a27–31) and 68A135 DK (ap. Theophr. Sens. 58). A faint echo of this passage is found at Plac. 4.5.12. For a parallel to this attitude see below, n. 27 and text thereto.

7 See, e.g., Plu. Adv.Col. 1114B-D (28A34, cf. B10), and Alexander ap. Simp. in Phys. 71.6–8, ‘Parmenides, when practicing physics (φυσιολογῶν) according to the views of the many and the phenomena, not saying that Being is one or ungenerated, posited fire and earth as principles of becoming’.

8 Numbers for comparable name-labels: Xenophanes 20, Zeno 3, Melissus 6; Thales 23 (often honoris causa), Anaximander 21, Anaximenes 20; (Neopythagorean) Pythagoras 36; Heraclitus 23.

9 We are handicapped here because for Book 5 Stobaeus is mostly lost. Even so, Parmenides’ 4 citations may be contrasted with 1 for Xenophanes, 1 for Thales, 5 for Pythagoras, 1 for Heraclitus, and none for the others listed in n. 8 above.

10 These texts are cited from back to front, i.e. from 5.30.4 to 1.7.27, in the Appendix at the end of the paper, in English translation. I shall not discuss all of them.

11 Mansfeld (1999). Note that Theophr. Sens. 1–3 (28A46) finds no evidence enabling him to attribute to Parmenides a theory of perception through the individual senses, and does not refer to B7.3–5. This shows that the attribution of the theory of Hipparchus to him at 4.13.10 is as mistaken as that to Pythagoras, the reference to the Poem notwithstanding.

12 Asterisks are added because the lemmata of Book 2 are numbered according to the reconstruction of the chapters in Mansfeld and Runia (2009), Part II — and not, like those of the other books, according to that of Diels in the DG.

13 Diels (1897) 104 believed that only Theophrastus could have composed a paraphrase of such excellence. A partly parallel excerpt is found at Cic. ND 1.28 (28A37).

14 As to this rejection the lemma echoes Arist. Cael. 3.1 298b14–17 (28A25) on Melissus and Parmenides, while τὸ πᾶν echoes Met. Α.5 986b17–19, οὗτοι δὲ ἀκίνητον εἶναί φασιν (sc. τὸ πᾶν) … Παρμενίδης (—) … Μέλισσος (—).

15 The word πᾶν is applied in the verbatim fragments to the Being of Parmenides (28B8.5, B8.22, B8.25, B8.48) and to that of Melissus (30B2, B7(1), B7(4)), but as a predicate.

16 See above, n. 4. For the elements cf. Arist. Phys. 1.5 188a19–21, GC 1.3 318b6–7, GC 2.3 330b13–15 (28Α35 DK), Theophr. Sens. 3 (28A46), the texts of Theophrastus, Hippolytus, Diogenes Laërtius, Theod. CAG 4.7 mentioned in the next n., Cic. Luc. 118, and above, n. 7 ad finem.

17 Theophr. Phys.Op. fr. 6 Diels = 227C FHS&G (28A7), Hipp. Ref. 1.11.1 (28A23), Diog. Laërt. 9.21–23 (28A1), [Plu.] Strom. 5 (28A22), and Theod. CAG 4.7 (Aët. 1.3.13 Diels), all speak in terms of ‘both x and y’. The only one to be charged with inconsistency is Xenophanes at Theod. CAG 4.5 (Aët. 1.3.12 Diels, 21A36), onto whom a Parmenidean distinction between two levels of reality has been projected backward: ‘forgetting about those (sc. the ontological) arguments (τῶνδε τῶν λόγων ἐπιλαθόμενος) he said that all things are generated from the earth’.

18 See 28B14–15.

19 For the origin, nature, and works of the moon see the announcements at 28B10.1 + 4–5, B11.1.

20 For the Milky Way in a cosmogonical context see the announcement at 28B11.2.

21 For the origin, nature, and works of the sun see the announcements at 28B10.2–3 and B11.1.

22 Cf. 28B12, which however is about cosmogony.

23 Cf. Diog.Laërt. 9.23 (28A1).

24 For the origin and nature of the stars see the announcements at 28B10.1–2, B10.7, B11.3, for those of the heaven those at B10.5–7, B11.2.

25 5.19.4, ‘the first living beings were born in the moist substance and were covered with spiky bark. But (he says that) as they got older they moved away to the drier part and, when the bark had broken up, for a short time they changed their mode of life’. See the parallel texts collected at 12A30 plus [Plu.] Strom. 2 (12A10) and Hipp. Ref. 1.6.6 (12A11), which also speak of the origin of humanity.

26 Cens. 4.7–8 (28A51) mentions Empedocles’ theory of the origin from the earth of individual limbs and what followed, adding that Parmenides held virtually the same view.

27 Arist. PA 2.2 648a25–31 (28A52, not printed in the Empedocles chapter). Censorinus (above, n. 26) does not differentiate as to status or validity between a doctrine cited from Parmenides’ physics and one from Empedocles’ either.

28 The original account has been partly preserved in 28B17, ‘boys on the right sides and girls on the left sides’. A parallel echo is at Cens. 5.2 (28A53), cited below, n. 32. In general see further the various accounts of Geurts (1941) 30–35, Lesky (1948), Lesky (1950) 44–50, Lloyd (1962) 60, (1966) 17, 50 with n. 1, and (1972), Gambetti (2006) 98–99, Coxon (2009) 383–387, and Journée (2012) 11–16. Unfortunately no information that would be helpful in the present context is found in the otherwise useful books of Congourdeau (2007) and Brisson & alii (2008).

29 That the sex of the embryo depends on the side of the womb where it develops is a view that is found elsewhere (e.g. [Hipp.] Aph. 5.48, in a context dealing with the womb). But ps.Plutarch’s ἀποκριθῇ, or Censorinus’ exeat (cf. Kemble (1971) 70) do not mean ‘develops’.

30 The word does not occur elsewhere in ps.Plutarch, and, curiously enough, is not listed in the index of DG .

31 See, in general, Journée (2012).

32 Cens. 6.8 (28A54), cum dexterae partes semina dederint, tunc filios esse patri consimiles, cum laevae, tunc matri, and 5.2 (28A5) semen unde exeat inter sapientiae professores non constat. Parmenides enim tum ex dextris tum ex laevis partibus oriri putavit.

33 Thus disagreeing with Kember (1971) 71–72. [Gal.] PhH c. 115, DG p. 642.12–15, coalesced the two lemmata 5.11.1-2 (Empedocles — Parmenides) and omitted the name-label Parmenides. In this ‘Parmenides’ section he reads ἀπὸ τῶν δεξιῶν μερῶν τῆς μήτρας τὸ σπέρμα instead of ἀπὸ τοῦ δεξιοῦ μέρους τῆς μήτρας ὁ γόνος. Thus one branch of the tradition of ps.Plutarch preserved τῶν δεξιῶν and τὸ σπέρμα, another branch τοῦ δεξιοῦ and ὁ γόνος. In view of the parallel with 5.7.4, τὰ δέξια μέρη τῆς μήτρας and the plurals δεξιτεροῖσιν and λαιοῖσι in B17 and those in Censorinus (above, n. 32), ps.Galen’s formula δεξιῶν μερῶν is better than ps.Plutarch’s δεξιοῦ μέρους (the change from σπέρμα to γόνος in relation to the womb may have brought along that from plural μερῶν to singular μέρους). To restore the text of Aëtius one should replace γόνος with σπέρμα, and next add a reference to the right ‘parts’, which I shall not attempt here.

34 Cens. 5.4, illud quoque ambiguam facit inter auctores opinionem, utrumne ex patris tantummodo semine partus nascatur, … an etiam ex matris, quod Anaxagorae et Alcmaeoni [cf. below, n. 36] necnon Parmenidi (28A54) Empedoclique et Epicuro visum est.

35 Tert. de An. 43 (28A46b) — printing error de An. 45 in DK: Empedocles et Parmenides refrigerationem. For Empedocles on sleep see 5.24.2 and 5.25.4; we may hypothesize that the Parmenides doxa preserved by Tertullian derives from a cousin writing of Aëtius with both these names in the relevant chapter(s).

36 Lesky (1950) 41 firmly believes in a Pythagorean precedent, but there is no evidence for Early Pythagorean views on sex differentiation and its causes. Alcmaeon’s view, according to which the predominance of the sperm of the male or female parent determines the sex of the child, is cited Cens. 6.4 (ex quo parente seminis amplius fuit, eius sexum repraesentari dixit Alcmaeon, 24A14). But he cannot count as a predecessor, for if, as is now quite generally assumed, the synchronism of Alcmaeon with Pythagoras at Met. A.5 986a29–31 is due to interpolation, there is no evidence for a floruit earlier than ca. 440 BCE, which makes him at least a generation later than Parmenides. He is a contemporary of the second group of Pythagoreans, discussed Met. Α.5 986a22–26. In their turn these are not later or earlier than the first group discussed in the same chapter of Met. Α, which includes Philolaus.

37 Discussed, but somewhat exaggerated, by Kember (1971); cf. above, n. 33 and text thereto.

38 Journée (2012) 290–296.

39 Eros borrowed from Hes. Theog. 116–122, as Aristotle, presumably using Hippias’ anthology, already noted (Met. Α.4 983b23–27, ad 28B13), but used in a different and novel sense. The function of this Eros reminds one of the Young Gods of Timaeus.

40 For the offerings of fictile wombs with pronounced right ovaries in the temple of Hera at Paestum see the paper of P. Ebner (not accessible to me) cited in Zeller – Mondolfo – Reale (2011) 278 n.: ‘si tratta di votivi offerti alla Dea per invocare il concepimento di un maschio’. For the association of left with female and right with male as very early Greek beliefs see Lloyd (1962).

41 This evaluation is the opposite of that of the great Eduard Zeller (1963) 719, ‘Was er über den Unterschied der Geschlechter und die Entstehung derselben bei der Zeugung sagte, ist unerheblich’. True enough, but Zeller was thinking of the actual content and failed to take the innovative aspect into account

42 Cf. much later a subdivision of Stoic physics, Diog. Laërt. 7.133: ‘in the first of its [sc. of etiology’s] investigations medical inquiries have a share, in so far as it involves the inquiry … into semen and things similar thereto’ (μιᾷ δ’ αὐτοῦ ἐπισκέψει ἐπικοινωνεῖν τὴν τῶν ἰατρῶν ζήτησιν, καθ’ ἣν ζητοῦσι … περὶ σπερμάτων καὶ τῶν τούτοις ὁμοίων).

43 Kraus (2013) 2.496 rightly concludes that, notwithstanding the fragmentary nature of the evidence, the second part of the Poem ‘zweifellos die avanciertesten naturwissenschaftlichen Theorien seiner Zeit in den verschiedensten Disziplinen bot’. But he fails to single out the physiology etc. qua entirely innovative contribution.

44 Inscription of the 1st cent. CE, first published Ebner (1962) 32 ff., with plate 6: Παρμεναίδης Πύρητος Οὐλιάδης φυσικός. Note φυσικός, not ἰατρός as in the other inscriptions of this group. See further Samama (2003) 544–545, Zeller – Mondolfo – Reale (2011) 278 n., Gambetti (2008), Schirren and Rechenauer (2013) 1.193, also for further references.

45 The Greek texts with facing English translation are printed from 1.3.13 to 5.30.4 at Coxon (2009) 146–155.

46 For problems connected with this phrase see above, nn.28–34, and text thereto.

47 In our forthcoming edition with commentary of the Placita (J. Mansfeld and D. T. Runia, Aëtiana IV) we argue that this lemma should be moved to 5.28.2. In the present context this is unimportant.

48 See above, n. 11.

49 As Diels DG 162 already saw, this lemma should be moved to 3.14.2.

50 For the asterisks see above, n. 12.

51 1.3.13, extant only at Theod. CAG 4.7, has been omitted because in our forthcoming edition (above, n. 47) we argue that CAG 4.7–12 have not been abstracted from Aëtius, but from one of the cousin writings, or from more than one.

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Jaap Mansfeld, « Parmenides from Right to Left », Études platoniciennes [En ligne], 12 | 2015, mis en ligne le 15 février 2016, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL : http://etudesplatoniciennes.revues.org/699 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesplatoniciennes.699

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Jaap Mansfeld

Professeur émérite de l’Université d’Utrecht

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