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Proseminar: Simon Trepanier

October 16, 2023 @ 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm

We welcome Simon Trépanier (Edinburgh University; PhD Toronto) back to give a talk on: The Unity of Empedocles’ Thought: Re-Editing Section d of the Strasbourg Papyrus. 

Abstract. In this talk I will propose a new edition of section d of the Strasbourg papyrus of Empedocles’ poem On Nature, lines d 1-10 in particular. As was recognized in the initial publication of the papyrus by Martin and Primavesi (1998), section d is the most important of the new passages because it proves, once and for all, the unity of Empedocles’ thought. Although the lines contained in section d are not complete, they are well enough preserved, before any supplements, to make it clear that in lines d 5 to 10 Empedocles inserts a first-person lament on the exile of the soul within a wider ‘scientific’ account of the origins of life. This puts to rest the long-dominant view that Empedocles divided his poetic output between two incompatible ‘systems of thought’, a scientific work On Nature and an ethical-religious poem, the Purifications, in which Empedocles declared himself a god exiled to successive earthly reincarnations. Although a number of the initial supplements offered by M-P for these crucial lines can be questioned, to my knowledge they have so far gone completely unchallenged. My aim will be to criticise and to improve the text and thereby offer a new understanding of its literary function and philosophical implications.


October 16, 2023
4:10 pm - 6:00 pm


Lillian Massey Building, Room 301
125 Queens Park
Toronto, ON M5S 2C7 Canada