Empedocles's Fragment No. 17 | Harper's Magazine

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Empedocles’s Fragment No. 17

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brueghel-gloomy-day

Double is my account: for at one time it grew to be one alone
from many, at another in turn it grew apart to be many from one.
But double is the coming-into-being of mortals, double their passing away;
for the coming together of all things both begets and kills (life),
and as [all things] grow apart again [life] is nurtured, then disappears.
And, continuously changing, they never cease,
at one time through Love all of them coming together into one,
at another in turn each carried apart through the hatefulness of Strife.
Thus, on the one hand, in that they have learnt to grow into one from many
And that from the one growing apart in turn they spring,
in this (regard) they come into being and their lifespan is not secure;
on the other hand, in that continuously changing they never cease,
in that (regard) they are forever immobile within the cycle.
But come, listen to my words, for learning increases the thinking-organs.
For just as I said before, speaking the limits of my words,
Double is my account: for at one time it grew to be one alone
from many, at another in turn it grew apart to be many from one,
fire and water and earth and the immense height of air
and destructive Strife apart from them, equally balanced in all ways
and Love within them, equal in length and breadth.
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Empedocles, Fragment No. 17 (S. Trépanier ed. & transl.)(ca. 450 BCE) also read Trépanier’s analytical essay on the text.

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