Lesson 7ª







The Eleatics

This school was located in the city of Elea (see map), also in southern Italy.

It is important for the history of philosophy, because it represents a type of opposite thinking (or ‘contrary’) in some way to Heraclitus and Ionian thinkers. The Eleatics did not admit change nor balance between opposites.

The Fragments of The Poem of Parmenides

English translation : John Burnet (1892), *



The steeds that bear me carried me as far as ever my heart
Desired, since they brought me and set me on the renowned
Way of the goddess, who with her own hands conducts the man
who knows through all things. On what way was I borne


along; for on it did the wise steeds carry me, drawing my car,
and maidens showed the way. And the axle, glowing in the socket -
for it was urged round by the whirling wheels at each
end - gave forth a sound as of a pipe, when the daughters of the
Sun, hasting to convey me into the light, threw back their veils


from off their faces and left the abode of Night.
There are the gates of the ways of Night and Day, fitted
above with a lintel and below with a threshold of stone. They
themselves, high in the air, are closed by mighty doors, and
Avenging Justice keeps the keys that open them. Her did


the maidens entreat with gentle words and skilfully persuade
to unfasten without demur the bolted bars from the gates.
Then, when the doors were thrown back,
they disclosed a widepening, when their brazen
hinges swung backwards in the


sockets fastened with rivets and nails. Straight through them,
on the broad way, did the maidens guide the horses and the car,
and the goddess greeted me kindly, and took my right hand
in hers, and spake to me these words: -
Welcome, noble youth, that comest to my abode on the car


that bears thee tended by immortal charioteers ! It is no ill
chance, but justice and right that has sent thee forth to travel
on this way. Far, indeed, does it lie from the beaten track of
men ! Meet it is that thou shouldst learn all things, as well
the unshaken heart of persuasive truth, as the opinions of


mortals in which is no true belief at all. Yet none the less
shalt thou learn of these things also, since thou must judge
approvedly of the things that seem to men as thou goest
through all things in thy journey.


Come now, I will tell thee - and do thou hearken to my
saying and carry it away - the only two ways of search that
can be thought of. The first, namely, that It is, and that it is
impossible for anything not to be, is the way of. conviction,


for truth is its companion.. The other, namely, that It is not,
and that something must needs not be, - that, I tell thee, is a
wholly untrustworthy path. For you cannot know what is
not - that is impossible - nor utter it;


For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be.