Though only fragmentary, the poem has intrigued philosophers for many centuries. It forms the base of what is now known as “Ontology”.
The beginning describes the first person, the “I” character, being carried away in a chariot moved by mares and driven by the Daughters of the Sun. The chariot reaches the Gates of Day and Night, where the “I” is welcomed by a Goddess, who is kindly explaining in the poem what we call “Parmenidean Philosophy”…
The correspondence between images and symbols in the preamble is a game as pleasant as it is instructive, that in its turn also illuminates the theories revealed through the words of the Goddess and the thoughts expressed in the poem. Some see e.g. in the form of the horses the five senses and based on this, seek a fitting desymbolization of the other elements. Others like to discern a relation of the poetic content with the ancient mysteries and so on. As is often the case, I believe that the value of the work increases, when after coming in contact with it, one goes after their personal interpretation, however partial it might be.
You can listen to some fragments, by clicking on the following titles, according to Diels-Kranz’s numbering system:
DK28 B1. (1-10)
πποι ταί με φέρουσιν, ὅσον τ᾽ ἐπὶ θυμὸς ἱκάνοι,
πέμπον, ἐπεί μ᾽ ἐς ὁδὸν βῆσαν πολύφημον ἄγουσαι
δαίμονος, ἣ κατὰ πάντ᾽ ἄστη φέρει εἰδότα φῶτα·
τῇ φερόμην· τῇ γάρ με πολύφραστοι φέρον ἵπποι
ἅρμα τιταίνουσαι κοῦραι δ᾽ ὁδὸν ἡγεμόνευον.
Ἄξων δ᾽ ἐν χνοίῃσιν ἵει σύριγγος ἀυτήν
αἰθόμενος – δοιοῖς γὰρ ἐπείγετο δινωτοῖσιν
κύκλοις ἀμφοτέρωθεν -, ὅτε σπερχοίατο πέμπειν
Ἡλιάδες κοῦραι, προλιποῦσαι δώματα Νυκτός,
εἰς φάος, ὠσάμεναι κράτων ἄπο χερσὶ καλύπτρας.
…ξυνὸν δέ μοί ἐστιν,
ὁππόθεν ἄρξωμαι· τόθι γὰρ πάλιν ἵξομαι αὖθις.
ὐτὰρ ἐπειδὴ πάντα φάος καὶ νὺξ ὀνόμασται
καὶ τὰ κατὰ σφετέρας δυνάμεις ἐπὶ τοῖσί τε καὶ τοῖς,
πᾶν πλέον ἐστὶν ὁμοῦ φάεος καὶ νυκτὸς ἀφάντου
ἴσων ἀμφοτέρων, ἐπὶ οὐδετέρῳ μέτα μηδέν.
ρώτιστον μὲν Ἔρωτα θεῶν μητίσατο πάντων
ὕτω τοι κατὰ δόξαν ἔφυ τάδε καί νυν ἔασι
καὶ μετέπειτ᾽ ἀπὸ τοῦδε τελευτήσουσι τραφέντα·
τοῖς δ᾽ οὔνομα ἄνθρωποι κατέθεντ᾽ ἐπίσημον ἑκάστῳ.
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