Paramenides of Elea: A Verse Translation with Interpretative Essays and Commentary to the Text

Paramenides of Elea: A Verse Translation with Interpretative Essays and Commentary to the Text

Paramenides of Elea: A Verse Translation with Interpretative Essays and Commentary to the Text

Paramenides of Elea: A Verse Translation with Interpretative Essays and Commentary to the Text

Synopsis

The author presents a reinvigorating verse translation of the Diels and Kranz B-Fragments of Parmenides cast in rhyming couplet iambic pentameter. Placing Parmenides in his proper historical context by taking seriously the impact of Persian Zoroastrianism on his developing monoism, Henn supplies precise interpretation of the most difficult and vexing of Parmenides's fragments, while also providing reliable philosophical analysis of the many seeming contradictions latent in the text.

Excerpt

Parmenides recounts a dream voyage through the stars in a chariot drawn by swift chargers and beautiful attending maidens. Traveling through profound darkness the train arrives at the gates of the ways of Night and Day. Avenging justice holds the keys; yet the maidens persuade her to open the gates to insure safe passage to the palace of the Goddess, who teaches Parmenides the Truth of Being.

The Goddess instructs Parmenides on two ways of thinking inquiry: the one, that Being is, and must always be; the other, that Being is not, and cannot ever be. She then counsels him not to follow the second path, the Way of Opinion, as it represents the errant path of mortal minds, which do not recognize the eternal Essence of all that is. But by following the Way of Truth, Thinking and Being are found to be the same; while the unlimited source of all there is is ungenerable, indestructible, systematic, and whole, subsisting in one eternally present “now” which transcends the passage of time. the circumference of the cosmos holds the clue to Being’s unified simplicity. the Goddess then tells Parmenides to learn the opinions of mortals, so that he may never be outmatched in argument. Finally, the Goddess speaks of Destiny who rules sexual intercourse and painful birth. She warns that everything contained in the mortal cosmology is bound by Necessity to inevitable decay; but Being shall never cease to be.

The following translation recognizes Hermann Diels’ original numbering of the B-fragments from Parmenides Lehrgedicht (1897), which are listed on the left in parentheses. But Diels’ original ordering of the BFragments has been modified to register a coherent flow of ideas and images.

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