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Fragments: On Purifications
[492-432 BCE] Empedocles, "On Purifications," in Fragments and Commentary [Hanover Historical Texts Project], edited and translated by Arthur Fairbanks, in The First Philosophers of Greece (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1898; Online at Hanover Historical Texts Project, 2001).
369. There is an utterance of Necessity, an ancient decree of the gods, eternal, sealed fast with broad oaths whenever any one defiles his body sinfully with bloody gore or perjures himself in regard to wrong-doing, one of those spirits who are heir to long life, thrice ten thousand seasons shall he wander apart from the blessed, being born meantime in all sorts of mortal forms, changing one bitter path of life for another. For mighty Air pursues him Seaward, and Sea spews him forth on the threshold of Earth, and Earth casts him into the rays of the unwearying Sun, and Sun into the eddies of Air; one receives him from the other, and all hate him. One of these now am I too, a fugitive from the gods and a wanderer, at the mercy of raging Strife.
405. Nor had they any god Ares, nor Kydoimos (Uproar), nor king Zeus, nor Kronos, nor Poseidon, but queen Kypris. Her they worshipped with hallowed offerings, with painted figures, and perfumes of skilfully made odour, and sacrifices of unmixed myrrh and fragrant frankincense, casting on the ground libations from tawny bees. And her altar was not moistened with pure blood of bulls, but it was the greatest defilement among men, to deprive animals of life and to eat their goodly bodies.
415. And there was among them a man of unusual knowledge, and master especially of all sorts of wise deeds, who in truth possessed greatest wealth of mind for whenever he reached out with all his mind, easily he beheld each one of all the things that are, even for ten and twenty generations of men.
421. For all were gentle and obedient toward men, both animals and birds, and they burned with kindly love; and trees grew with leaves and fruit ever on them, burdened with abundant fruit all the year.
425. This is not lawful for some and unlawful for others, but what is lawful for all extends on continuously through the wide-ruling air and the boundless light.
427. Will ye not cease from evil slaughter? See ye not that ye are devouring each other in heedlessness of mind?
430. A father takes up his dear son who has changed his form and slays him with a prayer, so great is his folly! They are borne along beseeching the sacrificer; but he does not hear their cries of reproach, but slays them and makes ready the evil feast. Then in the same manner son takes father and daughters their mother, and devour the dear flesh when they have deprived them of life.
436. Alas that no ruthless day destroyed me before I devised base deeds of devouring with the lips!
Animal Rights History Timeline: Classical Antiquity Common Era; Early Church Fathers [CE-485]
[ca 492-432 BCE] Empedocles
[5thc. bce] Fragments
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