Empedocles

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Empedocles (Ancient Greek: Ἐμπεδοκλῆς; Empedoklēs ca. 490–430 BC) was a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. Empedocles' philosophy is best known for being the originator of the cosmogenic theory of the four Classical elements. He also proposed powers called Love and Strife which would act as forces to bring about the mixture and separation of the elements. These physical speculations were part of a history of the universe which also dealt with the origin and development of life. Influenced by the Pythagoreans, he supported the doctrine of reincarnation. Empedocles is generally considered the last Greek philosopher to record his ideas in verse. Some of his work still survives today, more so than in the case of any other Presocratic philosopher. Empedocles' death was mythologized by ancient writers, and has been the subject of a number of literary treatments.

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Life

Empedocles was born, c. 490 BC, at Agrigentum (Acragas) in Sicily to a distinguished family.[1] Very little is known about his life. His father Meto seems to have been instrumental in overthrowing the tyrant of Agrigentum, presumably Thrasydaeus in 470 BC. Empedocles continued the democratic tradition of his house by helping to overthrow the succeeding oligarchic government. He is said to have been magnanimous in his support of the poor;[2] severe in persecuting the overbearing conduct of the aristocrats;[3] and he even declined the sovereignty of the city when it was offered to him.[4]

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