May 232014
 
Harry K sat in a chair142

Parmenides of Elea (Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; fl. 5th century BCE )- single known work is a poem: On Nature, which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides describes two views: In “the way of truth” part of the poem he explains how reality (coined as “what-is”) is. In “the way of opinion,” he explains the world of appearances. (These ideas had a strong effect on Plato, and in turn, influenced… etc.) Part of the poem describes the journey to a very far place:

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach
rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary
road of the divinity that carries the man who knows
through the vast and dark unknown. And on I was carried
as the mares, aware just where to go, kept carrying me
straining at the chariot; and young women led the way.
And the axle in the hubs let out the sound of a pipe
blazing from the pressure of the two well-rounded wheels
at either side, as they rapidly led on: young women, girls,
daughters of the Sun who had left the mansions of Night
for the light and pushed back the veils from their faces
with their hands.
There are the gates of the pathways of Night and Day,
held fast in place between the lintel above and a threshold of stone;
and they reach up into the heavens, filled with gigantic doors.
And the keys—that now open, now lock—are held fast by
Justice: she who always demands exact returns. And with
soft seductive words the girls cunningly persuaded her to
push back immediately, just for them, the bar that bolts
the gates. And as the doors flew open, making the bronze
axles with their pegs and nails spin—now one, now the other—
in their pipes, they created a gaping chasm. Straight through and
on the girls held fast their course for the chariot and horses,
straight down the road.
And the goddess welcomed me kindly, and took
my right hand in hers and spoke these words as she addressed me:
‘Welcome young man, partnered by immortal charioteers,
reaching our home with the mares that carry you. For it was
no hard fate that sent you travelling this road—so far away
from the beaten track of humans—but Rightness, and Justice.
And what’s needed is for you to learn all things: both the unshaken
heart of persuasive Truth and the opinions of mortals,
in which there’s nothing that can truthfully be trusted at all.
But even so, this too you will learn—how beliefs based on
appearance ought to be believable as they travel all through
all there is.’

(tr. Peter Kingsley In the Dark Places of Wisdom 1999)