From Chapter II., Science and Religion
58. The Heavenly Bodies
What we hear of the sun presents some difficulties. We are told that it is an ignited cloud; but this is not very consistent with the statement that the evaporation of the sea from which clouds arise is due to the sun's heat. Theophrastos stated that the sun, according to Xenophanes, was a collection of sparks from the moist exhalation; but even this leaves the exhalation itself unexplained.139 That, however, matters little, if the chief aim of Xenophanes was to discredit the anthropomorphic gods, rather than to give a scientific theory of the heavenly bodies. The important thing is that Helios too is a temporary phenomenon. The sun does not go round the earth, as Anaximander taught, but straight on, and the appearance of a circular path is solely due to its increasing distance. So it is not the same sun that rises next morning, but a new one altogether; while eclipses occur because the sun "tumbles into a hole" when it comes to certain uninhabited regions of the earth. An eclipse may last a month. Besides that, there are many suns and moons, one of each for every region of the earth.140
The vigorous expression "tumbling into a hole"141 seems clearly to come from the verses of Xenophanes himself, and there are others of a similar kind, which we must suppose were quoted by Theophrastos. The stars go out in the daytime, but glow again at night "like charcoal embers."142 The sun is of some use in producing the world and the living creatures in it, but the moon "does no work in the boat."143 Such expressions can only be meant to make the heavenly bodies appear ridiculous, and it will therefore be well to ask whether the other supposed cosmological fragments can be interpreted on the same principle.
136. Cf. Diels ad loc. (P. Ph. Fr. p. 44), "ut Sol et cetera astra, quae cum in nebulas evanescerent, deorum simul opinio casura erat."
137. Aet. ii. 18, I (Dox. p. 347), Ξενοφάνης τοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων φαινομένους οἷον ἀστέρας, οὓς καὶ Διοσκούρους καλοῦσί τινες, νεφέλια εἶναι κατὰ τὴν ποιὰν κίνησιν παραλάμποντα.
138. The passages from Aetios are collected in Diels, Vors. 11 A 38 sqq.
139. Aet. ii. 20, 3 (Dox. p. 348), Ξενοφάνης ἐκ νεφῶν πεπυρωμένων εἶναι τὸν ἥλιον. Θεόφραστος ἐν τοῖς Φυσικοῖς γέγραφεν ἐκ πυριδίων μὲν τῶν συναθροιζομένων ἐκ τῆς ὑγρᾶς ἀναθυμιάσεως, συναθροιζόντων δὲ τὸν ἥλιον. It seems likely from these words that Theophrastos pointed out the contradiction, as his manner was.
140. Aet. ii. 24, 9 (Dox. p. 355). πολλοὺς εἶναι ἡλίους καὶ σελήνας κατὰ κλίματα τῆς γῆς καὶ ἀποτομὰς καὶ ζώνας, κατὰ δέ τινα καιρὸν ἐμπίπτειν τὸν δίσκον εἴς τινα ἀποτομὴν τῆς γῆς οὐκ οἰκουμένην ὑφ' ἡμῶν καὶ οὕτως ὥσπερ κενεμβατοῦντα ἔκλειψιν ὑποφαίνειν· ὁ δ' αὐτὸς τὸν ἥλιον εἰς ἄπειρον μὲν προιέναι, δοκεῖν δὲ κυκλεῖσθαι διὰ τὴν ἀπόστασιν.
141. That this is the meaning of κενεμβατέω appears sufficiently from the passages referred to in Liddell and Scott, and it describes a total eclipse very well.
142. Aet. ii. 13, 14 (Dox. p. 343), ἀναζωπυρεῖν νύκτωρ καθάπερ τοὺς ἄνθρακας.
143. Aet. ii. 30, 8 (Dox. p. 362), τὸν μὲν ἥλιον χρήσιμον εἶναι πρὸς τὴν τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ ζῴων γένεσίν τε καὶ διοίκησιν, τὴν δὲ σελήνην παρέλκειν. The verb παρέλκειν means "to cork." (Cf. Aristophanes, Pax, 1306). In Hellenistic Greek the metaphor is no longer felt, and παρέλκει means "is redundant," "is superfluous."
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