Volume 11, Issue 2, Spring 2007
David Farrell Krell
“A Double Tale I Shall Tell . . . ”
Empedocles and Hölderlin on Tragic Nature and Tragic Purification
Countless poets and thinkers over the ages have identified closely with Empedocles of Acragas. Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) is one of these. The three
versions of his mourning-play, The Death of Empedocles, give us an opportunity to conceive of the unity of the Empedoclean project—to confront nature and human
existence alike as tragic. Central to this tragic view of both On Nature and Purifications, reputedly the two books of Empedocles, is the theme of doubling and duplicity, especially the presence in the (one) sphere of love and strife. Tragic doubling is a unity in perpetual dispersion.