, an eminent philosopher, was author of the Eleatic sect, so cabled because three of its most celebrated members, Parmenides, Zeno, and Leucippus, were natives of Elea, or Velia, a town in Magna Graecia. Xenopharies was a native of Colophon, and born probably about 556 B.C. He early left his country, and went to Sicily, where he supported himself by reciting verses against the theogonies of Hesiod and Homer. Thence he passed over into Magna Graecia, where he took up the profession 6f philosophy, and became a celebrated preceptor in the Pythagorean school. Indulging, however, a greater freedom of thought than was usual among the disciples of Pythagoras, he ventured to introduce new opinions of his Own, and in many particulars to oppose the doctrines of Epimenides, Thales, and Pythagoras. This gave occasion to Timon, who was a severe satirist, to introduce him in ridicule as one of the characters in his dialogues, Xenophanes possessed the Pythagorean chair of philosophy about seventy years, and lived tp the extreme age of an hundred years, that is, according to Eusebius, till the eighty-first Olympiad, or B C. 456.

In metaphysics, Xenophanes taught, that if ever there had been a time when nothing existed, nothing could ever have existed. That whatever is, always has been from eternity, without deriving its existence from any prior | principle; that nature is one and without limit; that what is one is similar in all its parts, else it would be many; that the one infinite, eternal, and homogeneous universe, is immutable and incapable of change; that God is one incorporeal eternal Being, and, like the universe, spherical in form; that he is of the same nature with the universe, comprehending all things within himself; is intelligent, and pervades all things; bat bears no resemblance to human nature either in body or mind.

In physics, he taught, that there are innumerable worlds; 'that there is in nature no real production, decay, or change; that there are four elements, and that the earth is the basis of all things; that the stars arise from vapours, which are extinguished by day, and ignited by night; that the sun consists of fiery particles collected by humid exhalations, and daily renewed; that the course of the sun is rectilinear, and only appears curvilinear from its great distance; that there are as many suns as there are different climates of the earth; that the moon is an inhabited world; that the earth, as appears from marine shells, which are found at the tops of mountains, and in caverns, far from the sea, was once a general mass of waters; and that it will at length return into the same state, and pass through an endless series of similar revolutions.

The doctrine of Xenophanes concerning nature is so imperfectly preserved, and obscurely expressed, that it is no wonder that it has been differently represented by different writers. Some have confounded it with the moden impiety of Spinoza, who supposed all the appearances in nature to be only modifications of one material substance. Others have endeavoured to accommodate it to the ancient system of emanation; and others, to the Pythagoric and Stoic notions of the soul of the world. But none of these explanations accord with the terms, in which the tenets of Xenophanes are expressed. Perhaps the truth is, that he held the universe to be one in nature and substance, but distinguished in his conception between the matter of which all things consist, and that latent divine force, which, though not a distinct substance, but an attribute, is necessarily inherent in the universe; and this is the cause of all its perfection. What Xenophanes maintained concerning the immobility and immutability of nature is to be understood of the universe considered as one whole, and not of its several parts, which his physical tenets supposed | liable to change. If he asserted, that there is no motion in nature, he probably understood the term motion metaphysically, and only meant that there is no such thing in nature as passing from nonentity to entity, or the reverse, perhaps the disputes among the ancients concerning motion, like many other metaphysical contests, were mere combats in the dark, for want of settling previously the meaning of terms. Brucker thinks that the notion ascribed to Xenophanes concerning the nature and origin of the celestial bodies, as meteors daily renewed, is so absurd as perhaps to have been defectively or unfairly stated; and he is inclined likewise to suppose, that many of the fancies, ascribed to philosophers, are nothing more than the misconceptions of ignorant or careless biographers. 1


Gen. Dict.—Diog. Laertius.—Brucker.