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17Chapter XII.—Xenophanes; His Scepticism; His Notions of God and Nature; Believes in a Flood.

But Xenophanes, a native of Colophon,9898    [Born 556 b.c.] was son of Orthomenes. This man survived to the time of Cyrus.9999    [Incredible. Cyrus the younger, fell at Cunaxa b.c. 401. Cyrus the elder was a contemporary of Xenophanes.]  This (philosopher) first asserted that there is no possibility of comprehending anything, expressing himself thus:—

“For if for the most part of perfection man may speak,

Yet he knows it not himself, and in all attains surmise.”

And he affirms that nothing is generated or perishes, or is moved; and that the universe, being one, is beyond change. But he says that the deity is eternal, and one and altogether homogeneous and limited, and of a spherical form, and endued with perception in all parts. And that the sun exists during each day from a conglomeration of small sparks, and that the earth is infinite, and is surrounded neither by an atmosphere nor by the heaven. And that there are infinite suns and moons, and that all things spring from earth. This man affirmed that the sea is salt, on account of the many mixtures that flow into it. Metrodorus, however, from the fact of its being filtered through earth, asserts that it is on account of this that it is made salt. And Xenophanes is of opinion that there had been a mixture of the earth with the sea, and that in process of time it was disengaged from the moisture, alleging that he could produce such proofs as the following: that in the midst of earth, and in mountains, shells are discovered; and also in Syracuse he affirms was found in the quarries the print of a fish and of seals, and in Paros an image of a laurel100100    Or, “anchovy.” in the bottom of a stone, and in Melita101101    Or,“ Melitus.” parts of all sorts of marine animals. And he says that these were generated when all things originally were embedded in mud, and that an impression of them was dried in the mud, but that all men had perished102102    The textual reading is in the present, but obviously requires a past tense. when the earth, being precipitated into the sea, was converted into mud; then, again, that it originated generation, and that this overthrow occurred to all worlds.


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