He claims to be a , a divine or potentially divine being, who, having been banished from the immortals gods for ‘three times countless years’ for committing the sin of meat-eating and forced to suffer successive reincarnations in an purificatory journey through the different orders of nature and elements of the cosmos, has now achieved the most perfect of human states and will be reborn as an immortal.He also claims seemingly magical powers including the ability to revive the dead and to control the winds and rains. Perhaps because of his claims to divine status and magical powers a remarkable number of apocryphal stories gathered around the life of Empedocles in antiquity. It is not known where or with whom he studied philosophy, but various teachers are assigned to him by ancient sources, among them Parmenides, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras and Anaximander (from whom he is said to have inherited his extravagant mode of dress).This appears to fit in with the known history of Acragas where after the death of the popular and enlightened tyrant Theron in 473 B. In his works he presents himself as a wandering healer offering to thousands of eager followers 'prophecies' and ‘words of healing for all kinds of illnesses' (fr. He also promises his addressee Pausanias 'you will learn remedies () for ills and help against old age' and even ‘you will lead from Hades the life-force of a dead man'.To what degree this represents the real Empedocles is not known, but a tradition grew up of him as both a renowned physician and a practitioner of more magical cures, or as a charlatan.Another report is of his breaking up a shadowy aristocratic political organisation called the 'Thousand'. After his forcible removal a democracy was established despite continuing political tensions.As a whole the tradition presents a picture of Empedocles as a popular politician, rhetorician, and champion of democracy and equality. As well as a being a philosopher, poet and politician, Empedocles was famous for his medical skills and healing powers.He began his political career with the prosecution of two state officials for their arrogant behaviour towards foreign guests which was seen as a sign of incipient tyrannical tendencies.
a, the longest of the new fragments, was found to be a continuation of the longest of the previously known fragments (fr.
– and also material concerning the fate of the soul, sin and purification, traditionally the former were placed in reconstructions of as usually reconstructed seemed the work of a mechanist physicist which seeks to replace the traditional gods with four lifeless impersonal elements and two cosmic forces of attraction and repulsion, Love and Strife.
The as restricting itself to physical concerns alone, this may well be an anachronistic retrojection of modern rationalistic ideas of a gulf between physics and religion.
Further, ancient book titles tend to be generic and there is a long tradition of works called either 'On the Nature of Things that Exist'), and so neither title may be Empedocles' own and the two may perhaps be interchangeable different titles for the same work.
Although there is still argument on this subject the Strasbourg fragments now suggest strongly that both physical and religious material was originally together in .