From Chapter IV., Parmenides of Elea
In describing the views of his contemporaries, Parmenides was obliged, as we see from the
fragments, to say a good deal about physiological matters. Like everything else, man was composed of
the warm and the cold, and death was caused by the removal of the warm. Some curious views with
regard to generation were also stated. In the first place, males came from the right side and females
from the left. Women had more of the warm and men of the cold, a view we shall find Empedokles
contradicting.66 It is the proportion of the warm and cold in men that determines [/193] the character of
their thought, so that even corpses, from which the warm has been removed, retain a perception of
what is cold and dark.67 These fragments of information do not tell us much when taken by themselves;
but they connect themselves in an interesting way with the history of medicine, and point to the fact that
one of its leading schools stood in close relation with the Pythagorean Society. Even before the days of
Pythagoras, we know that Kroton was famous for its doctors.68 We also know the name of a very
distinguished medical writer who lived at Kroton in the days between Pythagoras and Parmenides, and
the few facts we are told about him enable us to regard the physiological views described by
Parmenides not as isolated curiosities, but as landmarks by which we can trace the origin and growth of
one of the most influential of medical theories, that which explains health as a balance of opposites.
66. For all this, see R. P. 127 a, with Arist. De part. an. B, 2. 648 a 28; De gen. an.
Δ, I. 765 b 19.
67. Theophr. De sens. 3, 4 (R. P.129).
68. See p. 89, n. 2.