Tomáš Vítek


    Empedocles  - Empedocle - Empédocle - Empedokles - Empedoklés - Empédocles - Эмпедокл - Empedoklész - エンペドクレス -  Емпедокле  - Empedoklo  -  Empedioklis  - אמפדוקלס  - إمبيدوكليس  (run by J.-C. Picot)

    If you want to order the books on Empedocles (written in Czech and Greek) by T. Vítek:

    Orders can be sent in English to (to Hana Žáková).
    Pricing (2012):
    Empedokles I - 377 CZK (cca 15 EUR)
    Empedokles II - 472 CZK (cca 19 EUR)
    Empedokles III - 566 CZK (cca 23 EUR)
    Shipping cca 500 CZK (ca 20 EUR) - according to tarifs of The Czech Post - depends on weight and destination.
    Card payment (3D Secure) possible.

    Even for a non-Czech speaker, books II and III are a wonderful source of references and Greek lessons and corrections. Just one sober word: useful.

    Empedoklés : I. / Studie, Prague : Herrmann & Synové, 2001 (464 pages)

    SUMMARY (written by T. Vítek)

    Chap. 1 — In this chapter doxographies concerning the life of Empedocles are ana­lyzed: his role and meaning as a politician, poet, physician and magician. My conclusion is that practically all his functions and pieces of information about him derive both from his own fragments and the universal typology of a miraculous man. We know nothing about the life of the real Empedocles, although he is a historic person undoubtedly.

    Chap. 2 — I analyze the three main influences on Empedocles –Pythagoras, Orphism and Parmenides – and consequently I refute all accusations of him as a copyist or plagi­arist by dint of a comparative analysis of the common passages and motives. Empedocles was an original thinker and the essential source for many forms of later mysticism, cosmo­gonies, zoogonies or theories of perception: blaming him for imitating is a typical petitio principii, because reducing him to a pupil or a copyist of some pre-Socratic celebrity is an underestimation of him and at the same time overestimation of influences and other external factors. Further, I investigate the original number of verses (Diogenes Laertius, Suida) and the ostensible gap between Pert physeos and Katharmoi. Subsequently I analyze the most important personalities of the doxographers, and their veracity.

    Chap. 3 — Here the four elements are depicted: their divine character and their attitudes to gods. I scrutinize the number of rhizomata (4 or 5) and the relation between aer and aither (identity or difference) and I categorize them into three levels: 1) gods as the laws and principles, 2) elements, and 3) senses. Then I follow inner connections between them and I try to eradicate the conception of elements as material particles since this essentially distorts the whole teaching of Empedocles.

    Chap. 4 — This chapter deals with Philotes–Neikos and once again differentiates them according to three aspects: 1) two sides of one God (-dess), 2) two complexes of specific rules, principles and laws, and 3) two names for merging and differentiating processes in the world and in man. Nevertheless, Philotes and Neikos are not one-dimensional and mutually antagonistic but bilateral and complementary. Aristotle is mistaken because each of them compounds and separates simultaneously but on different levels and different directions.

    Chap. 5 — In this chapter Sphairos is shown and presented, on three levels again: 1) the unmanifest God (Phren Hiere), 2) the inner structure and order of the universe (Fate), and 3) this world on the basis of an analogy with the scattered vegetative gods (Adonis, Osiris). Therefore, Sphairos is not a simple and mindless mixture of atoms but a pattern for the functioning of the universe because every single thing helps to accomplish Sphairos's destiny.

    Chap. 6 — This chapter tries to reconstruct Empedocles' cosmogony. The central metaphor is that of the whirlpool which pregnantly expresses the binarity of the world (Philotes and Neikos) and the transition (some kind of a bridge) between the immaterial and material. The creation of the universe, the world and its beings, are arranged according to the same pattern. Only one cosmogony exists in one period of the cosmos.

    Chap. 7 — In this chapter I attempted to reconstruct Empedocles' zoogony. There are four phases of zoogony which each of four rhizomata gradually dominates and provides it with its own character. Only one zoogony in four phases exists in one period of the cosmos. The universe is an animal which is constructed analogically as an embryo in the uterus. This picture suggests a vision of universal nature, which parallel I illustrate by comparison with other visionaries.

    Chap. 8 — Here I inquire Empedocles' theory of perception. I find the information of Aristotle and Theophrastus untrustworthy because they do not give any congruent and uncontradictory notion of the doctrine and, moreover, they contradict their own propositions. The four rhizomata correspond to the four senses: Empedocles shows the four main functions of the body (breathing, seeing, hearing, and tasting) as a demonstration of the activity of the elements (their principles). The rhizomata are a bridge between the inner and external world and at the same time between the human and divine.

    Chap. 9 — This chapter is devoted to the daimon and the divine. Daimon is the divine part of man and repeats the fate of Sphairos. The only salvation seems to be to constitute a type of a perfect microsphairos: sexually (for a moment), intellectually (philosopher) or — and mainly — by serving other people (physician, ruler, poet — B 146, DK). Daimon, like everything else in the universe, helps to create and annihilate this world because he functions not only as God in man but as man in God as well.

    Chap. 10 — In the last chapter I deal with the central power of Empedoclean doctrine, i. e. with the goddess Aphrodite who rules every sphere of the divine and human worlds. I demonstrate these phenomena on examples taken from literature and philosophy (Euri­pides, Parmenides) as well as from the actual cult of the goddess. Subsequently, I identify her as the very marked type of the Great Mother by means of comparisons with goddesses of the kind (Persephone, Kybele, Isis, Kali, Ishtar). I end my work with the suggestion that the whole of Empedocles' teaching might be but a form of revelation and epiphany of the Great Goddess Aphrodite.

    Empedoklés : II. / Zlomky, Prague : Herrmann & Synové, 2006.

    SUMMARY (written by T. Vítek)

    The second volume of my study on Empedocles includes a Greek-Czech edition of all testimonies, the immediate contexts of the verses, B fragments and the newly found Strasbourg papyrus. It is preceded by an introduction in which I explain my editorial method and summarize the history of the Empedoclean scholarship, including the his­tory of editions dating back to the 16th century. There follows a detailed morphological, stylistic and metrical analysis of the Empedoclean language. Attached is briefly annotated bibliography covering the period 1520-2005 (ca. 800 titles) which I intended to be as complete as possible.

    My edition is formally based on the edition of H. Diels (PPF, FVS). I have accepted Diels’ distinction between the A and B fragments as well as their numbering. Despite many objections to this arrangement and despite the fact that the division of the fragments into two poems has in my opinion not been proven, I have retained the text in the traditional form in order to prevent confusion. However, I have considerably enlarged the material, esp. in the case of A testimonies and contexts. I have also included almost all spurious B fragments that earlier editors attributed to Empedocles.

    The extant fragments of Empedocles’ text are very defective. Verses were usually tran­scribed from second- or third-hand versions, often incorrectly or from incorrect sources, adjusted to contexts in which they were quoted or modified in order to highlight the tradent’s interpretation. Modern editors have sought to reconstruct the original form of the text, sometimes perhaps to the detriment of some specific features of the Empedoclean language. Their textual interventions are often problematic, or even superfluous and counterproductive: forced unification of morphological and dialectical inconsistencies, substitution of unusual words and phrases by more comprehensible synonyms, terms with different meanings or more aesthetically convenient and archaic Homeric and Hesiodic expressions, deletion of tolerable hiatuses, risky interpolations of verses into a continuous text (B 17.9, B 84.9, B 112.3), unsubstantiated interconnections of fragments (B 27, B 57, B 76, B 115), inventions of new verses on basis of their supposed paraphrases arc among the most important examples. Since the more recent editions approach the text more cautiously than the earlier ones did, one would expect that they reflect the original more precisely, but problems detected by the Strasbourg papyrus indicate that that might not be the case.

    The text presented here is based on efforts of all previous editors whose work I stu­died carefully and with respect. When dealing with a difficult passage, I (unlike J. Bollack, for example) did pot feel obliged to follow the manuscript reading at any cost, but on the other hand, I did not accept (traditional or modern) corrections that did not strike me as quite necessary or justified, either. Only rarely and with hesitation I have proposed my own emendations or additions (B 9.1, B 23.2, Pap. Strasb.); rather I preferred to support some of existing solutions. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of my edition is its rather extensive apparatus criticus in which I register almost all manuscript variants (including those that do not affect the meaning of the phrase) and all textual emendations known to me (including those I find unnecessary or improbable). In significant cases of controversy I, like M. Marcovich in his edition of Heraclitus, appended a listing of the most important representatives to each of textual variants to demonstrate their frequency. For every fragment and testimony I attempted to collect all immediately relevant primary and secondary sources, although in the case of testimonies and contexts of B fragments I realized it only selectively. I have consulted several critical editions of every work that quotes Empedocles’ verses or mention his doctrine, but it must be emphasized that I have not seen any manuscript personally and I was not capable to screen all existing editions of the quoting authors. Therefore I did not manage to verify either all proposed corrections or to discern exhaustively between their actual authors and their exponents.

    Empedocles’ vocabulary is largely Homeric, often there are Homeric quotations or allusions that, of course, serve to express and develop his own ideas. It is very typical for Empedoclean terms and parables to have several meanings simultaneously; in the specific contexts and perspectives they can indicate different meanings without lacking basic sense or semantical validity of other occurrences (μονίη, φύσις, γυῖον etc.). This polysemous language is more imaginative than conceptual that is why every interpretation has to take always into account their literal meanings (παλάμη, χεῖν, ῥίζωμα, πηγνύναι, πόρος). Another specificity of the Empedocles’ verses, i.e. an intentional vagueness of his poetic style (unexpressed subjects, undefined time, highly ambiguous syntax), is balanced by the principle of symmetry, which is also the organizing element of his philosophical system. This correspondence shows that Empedocles did not only mean to describe the way of cosmic elements, but to embody it in the structure and form of his poetry. Even his meter, otherwise relatively conservative, partly reflects the ambition to demonstrate meaning by form (e.g. the activity of Strife is sometimes expressed in dactylic, whereas the activity of Love in trochaic verses). In a word, Empedocles did not understand the poetic form as an irrelevant embellishment or a didactic aid, but as an integral part of his philosophy.

    Empedoklés : III. / Komentář, Prague : Herrmann & Synové, 2006.

    (The short following overview has been written by J.-C. Picot.) 

    Commentary in Czech of all A (1-100) accounts gathered by Diels (p. 9-159) ; of a few "AD B" contexts of fragments (p. 160-166) ; of  all the B (DK 31 B 1  to 161) fragments (p. 167-638) ; of C1 and C2 (p. 639) ; of the Strasbourg papyrus (p. 640-678).