Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
94. The Goddess 96. Alcmaeon of Croton

From Chapter IV., Parmenides of Elea

95. Physiology
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.

Burnet's Notes


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.

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