Empedocles’ Sphairos and Its Interpretations in Antiquity, III: Zoogony and Plato’s Symposium
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This article presents further discussion of a problem addressed in a previous work, namely the nature of Empedocles’ Sphairos, which is taken by us to be a structured whole and not – as it seems to be usually interpreted – an amorphous mixture. In the previous two articles we did not concentrate on the fragments of Empedocles himself, but initiated a thorough study of the further reception of the Sphairos by later ancient Greek writers (Aristotle and the Neoplatonists). Then we turned our attention to Plato, where we can fi nd Empedoclean echoes in the Timaeus and Statesman. This time we are investigating Empedocles’zoogony, that is, his account of the origin of life. There are strong parallels between Empedocles’ fragments and Plato’s Symposium. We have proposed a new reconstruction of the transformations of living beings to fi t better with our interpretation of Sphairos and Empedocles’ cosmic cycle. The article offers a metapoetic reading of Herondas’ second Mimiamb, in which Battaros should be identifi ed with Callimachus, Thales with Apollonius of Rhodes and Myrtale with the poetic production of Callimachus himself. According to this approach, the real aim of the mimiamb could be the ironic description of Callimachus (portrayed as a greedy brothel-keeper) accusing Apollonius of stealing his poems: the Koan jury (probably the poets around Philetas) will have to judge, in fact, a case of plagiarism.
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