Empedocles was known as the greatest humanist of ancient times. Author of the important and recognized theory about the four elements : fire, air, water and earth; he also postulated a series of statements regarding love, which he called ” eros “, and about hatred, which he titled ” polemos .” These two different terms would be part of the principles related to attraction and repulsion that dominate the universe. He had a very important role in Sicilian medicine and was the one who was in charge of saving the people of Silenus from a plague. Empedocles was also a philosopher and a poetIn fact, he was one of the most important working philosophers before Socrates and the pre-Socratics, and a poet of exceptional ability who had a great influence on later poets such as Lucretius. He has been variously regarded worldwide as a materialistic physicist , shamanic magician , mystical theologian , healer, democratic politician , living god, and fraud .

  • Occupation: Philosopher and politician
  • Teacher of:  Gorgias

Who was Empedocles?

Empedocles was a great humanist, creator of the theory of the four elements , poet, important philosopher before the pre-Socratics began with their theories, doctor, sorcerer, creator of different statements regarding love and hate, which in the end was qualified as a fraud .

  • Biography of Empedocles
  • Empedocles thought
  • Theory
  • Contributions of Empedocles
  • Arche
  • Phrases of Empedocles
  • Plays

Biography of Empedocles

Regarding his biography, it is not possible to specify an exact date of Empedocles’ birth, although, by some testimonies collected indirectly over time, it could be said that it was around the year 495 BC ., It is known with It is certain that Empedocles was a citizen of Akragas (Agrigento), a city located in Sicily. Legend and myths surround his personality since, in addition to being a well-known philosopher , he was also known for his abilities as a doctor and because he carried out a series of activities related to magic or shamanism . He was a disciple of Pythagoras , which is why he was considered a Pythagorean and teacher of the sophistGorgias of Leontini . The most recognized Anectode that surrounds the theme of his death was that he died when he decided to launch himself on Etna because he was exhausted from life and from people not believing that his origin was totally divine .


Empedocles thought

For him, the basics were four and each had the name of a god Zeus was fire , Hera was air , Aidoneo was land and water of Nestis . He called love with the term joy, and linked it closely with the goddess Aphrodite . However, no god was in any way human. Regarding his poetic thought, which he considered as a flare for magnificence, that of nature and that of himself, Empedocles saw in this eternal exchange between love and struggle , between union andseparation , a beauty that was so easy to appreciate. For Empedocles, birth and death were considered as mere illusions, as a group of misconceptions of what was the mixture and change that were based on love and struggle. For this reason, his thought said that the soul passed from one body to another, that this body could sometimes be human, sometimes of another species. Regarding his thinking of related souls across species boundaries, it led him to firmly oppose the sacrifice of animals , as well as eating their meat, for him, this was nothing more than cannibalism., the eating of one’s own animals or of the animals’ brothers was a reprehensible act.


Its main theory is known as the theory of the four elements . He asserted that these four elements were subjected to two forces, which he intended to explain through the generation and corruption movement that existed in the world, and with respect to this he affirmed that Love united them and Hate separated them. This theory explains the change and at the same time the permanence of the human beings of the world. He also considered that man was formed from a compound of the four elements and that health was related to the balance between them.

Contributions of Empedocles

Among his main contributions we can mention the following:

  • The theory of the four elements.
  • He considered man as a microcosm.
  • He left the teaching that love and hate are forces found in the human being.
  • He contributed many early ideas about the reason-sense duality, eclecticism , natural selection, and the struggle for democracy.
  • time to explain the eclipses of celestial bodies, the way in which geysers were formed and the formation of the human fetus.


For Empedocles , the main arche was love , which sought a way to unite the four elements, as the attraction of the different; and hatred , which acts as a separation from the like. When Love totally predominates, a pure and perfect sphere is generated, all of it equal and infinite. The Odio works undoing all the harmony until the complete separation and thus creating one chaos . Again, Love intervenes to rejoin what hatred has separated, and thus, the two forces, in their cyclical conflicts, give life to the various manifestations of the cosmos.

Phrases of Empedocles

  • The nature of God is a circle in the center of which is everywhere and the circumference of which is nowhere.
  • What is correct could be well said even twice.
  • We see the earth for the earth, the water for the water, the divine air for the air and the destructive fire for the fire. We understand love for love and hate for hate.
  • Smart people talk about ideas, common people talk about things, mediocre people talk about people.
  • The nature of God is a circle whose center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.


There are only two writings of which it is certain were written by Empedocles, ” On the nature of beings “, who sought a way to explain the natural world based on science and rationality from its physiology to its movement , and ” The purifications ”, which was a poem from a religious writing in which the path of a soul is narrated and revealed that after having been banished for his fault obtained purification when he returned to the place to which he belonged.

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