Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": EMPEDOCLES

ON THE TRANSMIGRATION OF THE SOUL


('Fragments' 115, 117, 118)

There is an oracle of Necessity, ancient decree of the gods, eternal and sealed with broad oaths: whenever one of those demi-gods, whose lot is long-lasting life, has sinfully defiled his dear limbs ' with bloodshed, or following strife has sworn a false oath, thrice ten thousand seasons does he wander far from the blessed, being born throughout that time in the forms of all manner of mortal things and changing one baleful path of life for another. The might of the air pursues him into the sea, the sea spews him forth on to the dry land, the earth casts him into the rays of the burning sun, and the sun into the eddies of air. one takes him from the other, but all alike abhor him. Of these I too am now one, a fugitive from the gods and a wanderer, who put my trust in raving strife. (Frag. II 5)

I wept and wailed when I saw the unfamiliar place. (Frag. 118)

For already have I once been a boy and a girl, a fish and a bird and a dumb sea fish. (Frag. 117)


Empedodes texts in G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, translators, The Presocratic Philosophers Cambridge, Eng., 1957)

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