Volume 13, 2015

La Providence dans la pensée Grecque et sa première réception Arabe

Livio Rossetti
Pages 193-216

La polumathia di Parmenide

Our «universal» perception of Parmenides’ poem is biased by traditional readings to a considerable degree, at least if the poem actually included two different doctrinal bodies, one on being and another peri physeōs properly, the latter encompassing a number of short treatises on the physical world and (some) living organisms. What I plan to offer in support of this claim is, to begin with, an inventory (the first ever prepared) of the topics dealt with in the section devoted to physical world and living creatures (§ 2). Something on Parmenides’ way of studying and understanding different aspects of the physical world and living organisms follows (§ 3). Once acknowledged the above (a point which is not particularly controversial, I presume), the poem comes to look quite differently and some principles of interpretation are likely to collapse : first of all, the customary assumption that frgs. 1‑9 include definite ideas on the doctrines to be found in the second main body, and tell us that they are not of great value. Indeed, the very high quality of several among these doctrines seems to imply that no devaluation of the second main doctrinal body is tenable. Several corollaries are likely to follow. Among them : (a) once concluded the section on being, no further group of verses, meant to establish a convenient relation between the first and the second main doctrinal body, surfaces ; (b) Parmenides was a polymath, and he may have been aware of that, or at least some evidence in support of the awareness thesis is available.