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Presocratic philosopher

Xenophanes of Colophon (Greek Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος, Xenophánes; 570 – 480 BC) was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and religious critic. Our knowledge of his views comes from his surviving poetry, all of which are fragments passed down as quotations by later Greek writers.


  • Mortals deem that the gods are begotten as they are,
    and have clothes like theirs, and voice and form.
    • ἀλλ᾽οἱ βροτοὶ δοκέουσι γεννᾶσθαι θεοὺς,
      τὴν σφετέρην δ᾽ἐσθῆτα ἔχειν φωνήν τε δέμας τε.[1]
  • But if cattle and horses and lions had hands
    or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do,
    horses like horses and cattle like cattle
    also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies
    of such a sort as the form they themselves have.
    • ἀλλ᾽ εἰ χεῖρας ἔχον βόες <ἵπποι τ᾽> ἠὲ λέοντες
      ἢ γράψαι χείρεσσι καὶ ἔργα τελεῖν ἅπερ ἄνδρες,
      ἵπποι μέν θ᾽ ἵπποισι βόες δέ τε βουσὶν ὁμοίας
      καί <κε> θεῶν ἰδέας ἔγραφον καὶ σώματ᾽ ἐποίουν
      τοιαῦθ᾽ οἷόν περ καὐτοὶ δέμας εἶχον <ἕκαστοι>.[2]
  • Ethiopians say that their gods are snubnosed and black
    Thracians that they are pale and red-haired.
    • Αἰθίοπές τε <θεοὺς σφετέρους> σιμοὺς μέλανάς τε
      Θρῇκἐς τε γλαυκοὺς καὶ πυρρούς <φασι πέλεσθαι>.[3]


  1. Diels-Kranz fr. 14.
  2. Diels-Kranz fr. 15.
  3. Diels-Kranz fr. 16.

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