Empedocles Democraticus: Hellenistic Biography at the Intersection of Philosophy and Politics.

In Mauro Bonazzi & Stefan Schorn (eds.), Bios Philosophos: Philosophy in Ancient Greek Biography. 2300 Turnhout, Belgium: pp. 37-71 (2016)
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Diogenes Laertius (8.63-6) preserves a fascinating account of the Presocratic philosopher Empedocles' life. There, drawing on evidence from Aristotle, Xanthus, and Timaeus of Tauromenium, the biographer provides several anecdotes which are meant to demonstrate how Empedocles had, contrary to expectation, been a democratic philosopher - a paradox of itself in Ancient Greece. This article unpacks the complex web woven by Diogenes and argues that there is no good reason to assume that Empedocles was indeed a democratic philosopher, and moreover, that neither Xanthus nor Aristotle thought him so. Indeed, what Diogenes actually preserves for us is the Hellenistic biographer Timaeus' critical dialectical engagement with the versions Aristotle and Xanthus, in his anachronistic bid to render Empedocles a democratic hero.



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Phillip Sidney Horky
Durham University

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