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No attempt has been made to capture the literary qualities of Parmenides' verse or the archaism of his language.
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XXX , has characterized a translation as 'a shameful form of book. But sometimes he does not know what it means, and is only guessing as well as he can.
To signal the worst uncertainties, alternative renderings have been appended for passages whose meaning is disputed, or where major questions of interpretation hinge upon the text or translation adopted. In these places the reader will find it instructive to compare alternatives. He will then quickly discover how completely he puts himself at the translator's mercy, if he relies entirely upon any single version. He may also find it useful, especially if he is wholly dependent upon translation, to consult the short glossary of terms that present special problems of translation or interpretation.
The introduction advocates one plausible, modern interpretation of Parmenides.
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It also tries to bring out the more important points still in dispute, and some major philosophical questions raised by the poem. It has seemed better to write an extended essay, cross-referenced to the translation, than to provide a separate series of exegetic and critical notes. This arrangement, regrettably, has made it necessary to skate all too lightly over much significant detail.
But it also avoids dispersing editorial comment too widely for convenient use; and by allowing a more continuous exposition of the poem than is possible in separate notes, it may better help the explorer to find his bearings in the Eleatic jungle. The notes to the introduction occasionally qualify or enlarge upon points made in the text.
Their main purpose, however, is to provide guidance to the secondary literature, supportive either of views adopted in the text without argument or of defensible alternatives. Almost every line of Parmenides is controversial, and it is not possible, in the space available, to discuss every problem, let alone to argue for definitive solutions. Although the present exposition is thus unavoidably 'partisan,' it attempts to air disagreements sufficiently to provide some awareness of what is at issue. Given this limited aim, the use of secondary sources is necessarily selective.
Fuller treatment of the literature would have incurred the risk of producing a work impenetrable to all but specialists. And of such works Parmenides has perhaps received his due share already. Discussion has therefore been confined mainly to a small number of leading studies in English. All sources used, together with others readily accessible, have been listed in the Bibliography. The Fragments of Parmenides. Since the latest editions of Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker depart in several places from Diels' own text, it seemed desirable to re-examine the tradition, and the following pages were originally planned as a simple text with fuller critical apparatus than has appeared since Poetarum Philosophorum Fragmenta and with epic parallels.
A revised collection of testimonia was then added, incorporating the Platonic, Aristotelian and Neoplatonic discussions, mostly written with knowledge of the complete text and essential for understanding the fragments, but in the main omitted by Diels. Finally it seemed inescapable to complete the work with an introduction and commentary. The inclusion among the testimonia of philosophical as well as of purely doxographical material necessitated the substitution of a broadly chronological order for the analytical order adopted by Diels. I have made use of the standard printed editions, but have modified the text in numerous places, particularly in Proclus' commentary on the Parmenides, where the readings are based on my own collations.
Textual notes are added only where clarity demands it. In citing the text of Aetius after Doxographi Graeci I have included short forms of the chapter-headings, which formulate the questions which the information extracted from the original works has been adapted to answer, and apart from which it cannot be evaluated. See the Review of the book by Malcolm Schofield in Phronesis 32, , pp. Sider, David, and Johnstone Jr.
Thomas Library, Bryn Mawr College. Hence, the number of places where we offer several possibilities tending to put our preferred interpretation first. Parmenides and his Predecessors 1; 2. Translation of the Diels B-Fragments 23; 3. The Question of Being: Parmenides' closed-loop concept of time and the illusion of linear time-consciousness 67; 6. Necessity, possibility, and contingency 85; 7. The teachings of the Goddess ; 8. The Diels and Kranz Greek text in the order translated ; 9. Commentary on the Greek ; Select bibliography ; Index locorum: Traveling through profound darkness the train arrives at the gates of the ways of Night and Day.
Avenging Justice holds the keys; yet the maidens persuade her to open the gates to insure safe passage to the palace of the Goddess, who teaches Parmenides the Truth of Being.
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The Goddess instructs Parmenides on two ways of thinking inquiry: The one, that Being is, and must always be; the other, that Being is not, and cannot ever be. She then counsels him not to follow the second path, the Way of Opinion, as it represents the errant path of mortal minds, which do not recognize the eternal Essence of all that is. But by following the Way of Truth, Thinking and Being are found to be the same; while the unlimited source of all there is is ungenerable, indestructible, systematic, and whole, subsisting in one eternally present "now" which transcends the passage of time.
The circumference of the cosmos holds the clue to Being's unified simplicity. The Goddess then tells Parmenides to learn the opinions of mortals, so that he may never be outmatched in argument. Finally, the Goddess speaks of Destiny who rules sexual intercourse and painful birth. She warns that everything contained in the mortal cosmology is bound by Necessity to inevitable decay; but Being shall never cease to be. The following translation recognizes Hermann Diels' original numbering of the B-fragments from Parmenides Lehrgedicht , which are listed on the left in parentheses.
But Diels' original ordering of the B- Fragments has been modified to register a coherent flow of ideas and images.
Parménide et ses disciples
Parmenides and the Way of Truth. Monkfish Book Publishing Company. Parmenides of Elea 1; Chapter 2. The Fragments 20; Chapter 3. Wrestling with Parmenides 52; Chapter 4. The Way of Truth 92; Chapter 5. From Being to Consciousness Glossary ; Suggested reading ; Endnotes Two-thirds, possibly more, is lost. We know a little more about the whole, fortunately, from Plato's dialogue "Parmenides," which describes a visit by the aging philosopher to Athens, where he meets with interested intellectuals, including a young Socrates. A small industry of interpretation has evolved out of the complexity of Plato's dialogue, leading to varied conclusions about the missing sections.
But, more of that below. The "Nature" of the title is the Greek physis [foo-sis], a term that expresses a visionary concern for "the nature of things," not just the tangible facts of physical nature. It appears, in fact, that most Presocratic truth-seekers expressed their views in a similar way, entitling their work "On Nature" as a sign that they were not writing a poem entitled "On the Gods.
That Parmenides chose the verse form was also an accepted means of expression, following Hesiod and, to some extent, Homer. Verse was the language of revelation. The rhythm and sound of the hexameters' elevated thought above ordinary discourse. In more recent times, we have the example of Shakespeare, who employed prose in his plays only for fools and madmen. Iambic pentameter was reserved for rational albeit sometimes brutal discourse.
It is also useful to remember that the Greeks spoke their verse aloud. Silent reading was unknown until the Roman era. The eye followed the unbroken line of letters, the words rolled off the tongue, were caught by the ear, and only then could meaning be grasped by the understanding. Since Greek is an inflected language, word order depends on sound, how the words flow together, how vowels and consonants combine to produce a smooth, harmonic measure.
As a result, the hard consonants do not bump into one another. A vowel invariably intercedes to smooth the way. Word order then, is based on auditory effect, not grammar, and meaning arises as much from this effect as from the vocabulary, making translation into English a challenge, especially from poetry to poetry. Poetic licence is required, even encouraged.
As flawed as the following transliterated verse is, it is a serious attempt to capture both the sound and sense of Parmenidean revelation, which is what his poem was meant to be. The result, hopefully, is revealed truth, arrived at in communion with divine communion, at least insofar as Parmenides experienced it. The poem emerges from the force of Persuasion, the goddess who keeps company with Justice, whose task it is to guard the gates giving access to the realm of higher knowledge. The youth, or kouros , gains admittance to this realm through his desire for truth and comes from the strength of eros in his soul.
It is access that anyone who is worthy and who deeply desires such communion can attain. On the basis of what is traditionally called the 'proem,' his journey into the cosmos to the goddess, we are asked to accept that Parmenides was granted admittance to a special realm and once in the presence of divinity, received the Way of 'Truth.
Revised and expanded edition edited with new translations by Richard McKirahan and a new Preface by Malcolm Schofield.
Ancient Editions (Important for the history of the reconstruction of the Poem of Parmenides)
Coxon's is a much fuller selection than was provided by Diels and Kranz in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. It is ordered not thematically as in Diels-Kranz , but in chronological sequence of the writers who transmit the information: To enhance the accessibility of the new edition, an English translation facing the original Greek or occasionally Latin has been prepared by Richard McKirahan. Coxon himself indicated -- in handwritten notes on two copies of the book -- where he thought revisions or corrections were needed to the first edition. In this second edition any such instance amounting to more than correction of a typographical error is pointed out in a corresponding footnote above Richard McKirahan's initials.
One extra testimonium is added: Really substantial revisions are in fact few and far between.
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The most significant comes in the commentary on lines of Fragment 8, where Coxon had revised his understanding of Parmenides' grammatical construction at lines , and had rethought the overall purpose of the passage. Here as elsewhere the text of the first edition is preserved in a footnote.
Richard McKirahan's translation of the testimonia is not the only extra help offered to the reader. There are also English translations of all Greek words and phrases throughout the Introduction, Commentary and Appendix, and line numbers have been inserted in the testimonia themselves to enhance ease of reference.
Highly abbreviated forms of names of ancient authors and works have been spelled out more fully. New supplementary material includes the Greek-English Index and an English-Greek glossary to the translations of the testimonia. Finally, as a way of enabling the looking up of page references based on the pagination of the first edition, the original page numbers are provided here in square brackets inside the margins.
Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy. The Fragments of Parmenides' Poem. Introduction ; Text and translation of the Fragments ; Textual notes Since their aim is merely to explain why the readings printed above have been adopted in places where this has not already been made clear in the appendix's introduction , I have tried to keep these notes as brief as possible. For the most part, readings reflecting the emergence of scholarly consensus have been printed without comment.
Since, for reasons already indicated, it has not been possible to furnish an apparatus criticus, manuscript variants are recorded here when necessary and as reported in recent editions. Instances where the manuscripts preserve viable alternatives, or even readings genuinely useful for determining what Parmenides himself wrote, are less numerous than one might suppose. The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary.
The present account has been generous in its assessment of this section of his poem. It would be easy to fault him for making our task more difficult than it need be. His language is frequently obscure, as is his argumentation.
It is frequently an uphill battle to discern how his train of thought proceeds. There are gaps in the reasoning and extensive use both of terms that may or may not be intended as near-synonyms but how near? Objections can be raised against the arrangement of the arguments, since it is not always clear where one topic leaves off and another begins. In general, it requires a great deal of sympathy to find a way for the arguments go through. My reason for interpreting Parmenides charitably is that only in this way can we appreciate the interest, the potential, and the challenge of his ideas and arguments.
Only if we make the effort to unravel his tortuous reasoning and fill in the gaps in ways congenial to his point of view can we hope to understand his enormous influence on philosophy, 57 And enormous it was. With Parmenides Greek philosophy began to become more systematic. Argument played an increasingly important role in the exposition of theories.
The subsequent history of Presocratic philosophy is often seen in terms of responses to Parmenides: Zeno and Melissus developed his ideas, while Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and the Atomists to name only the most important figures accepted that there is no generation from or perishing into nothing and composed their cosmologies on this basis, even while disagreeing on other points of Eleatic doctrine.
Text, translation and interpretation; second edition with a postscript by Hans Georg Gadamer ; third edition Vom Wesen Des Seienden. Greek text with German translation of the fragments and some testimonia ; reprinted with a new Nachwort Untersuchungen Zu Den Fragmenten. Der Stand der Parmenides-Forschung. Edited and translated by J. Mansfeld, with an introductory essay by Hans von Steuben. Gemelli Marciano, Maria Laura, ed. Auswahl Der Fragmente Und Zeugnisse.
Presses Universitaires de France. Les deux chemins dans les fragments 6,7 et 8, ; Chapitre IV: La tradition manuscrite du vers 6,3. Liste de manuscripts qui contiennent le vers 6,3. Les variations du texte ; Partie III: Nous partirons pour cela du fr. Avant-propos de Pierre Aubenque. Sources des fragments, Texte grec. Notes sur la traduction, Index des mots grecs. The Poem of Parmenides.
Parmenides on existence and non-existence: Le mythe ; Conclusion ; Index des sources ; Index des mots grecs ; Index des padsages d'auteurs anciens Et tenter d'en comprendre l'ancrage dans le texte: