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Empedocles the Philosopher

Empedocles was a Greek doctor, poet and philosopher. He assumed that there must be more than one kind of matter, and claimed four roots as elements. Love and strife were considered principles of attraction and repulsion that alternately dominated the universe in a recurring cycle.

Empedocles was born in Agirentum Sicily in about 404 BC. He was the son of Meto, a wealthy citizen and grandson of Empedocles who was a victor in Olympia.

He is a Greek philosopher, statesman and a poet and was distinguished for his knowledge of medicine and natural history. He performed many wonders with his skill in medicine and natural philosophy. An example was restoring life to a woman who had laid breathless for thirty days. He also played an important role in the development of the western or Sicilian school of Greek medicine. He even cured a plague at the Sicilian city and claimed he was god.

One legend from the poem of Matthew Arnold's Empedocles on Etna said that Empedocles, tired of life and wanting people to believe that gods had taken him with them, committed suicide by leaping into the crater of Mount Etna.

Empedocles also presented a kind of biological theory of natural selection in a poem. Some of his work has been saved by writers such as Simplicius, Aristotle, Plutarch and others. His hexametric poetry was admired by Lucretius. Information of his character can be gathered from the 400 lines of his poem Periphyseos (or nature) and from his poem Katharmoi (purification). It is said that Cleomenes, the rhapsodist, sung this same poem at Olympia.

It is said that Aristotle credited him as the inventor of rhetoric. Galen noted him as the founder of Italian medicine.

Although influenced by Parmenders who pointed out the unity of...