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Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek ReligionVolume I: Early Greek Religion$
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Andrej Petrovic and Ivana Petrovic

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198768043.001.0001

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Empedocles on Inner Pollution and Purity

Empedocles on Inner Pollution and Purity

Release from Suffering, Prayer, and Mental Exercise

(p.78) 4 Empedocles on Inner Pollution and Purity
Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion

Andrej Petrovic

Ivana Petrovic

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 discusses Empedocles, c. 490–430 BC, who relates that the inner, daemonic part of living creatures is in a permanent state of pollution. This pollution, which Empedocles labels kakotes has a strong moral element. Fragments B 112; 115; 126; 127; 128; 136; 137; 144; 145 DK are discussed, in which the narrator relates that he, once a god, was demoted to a daimon and treated as polluted by all elements because he had committed murder and broken an oath. Empedocles had witnessed the reign of Aphrodite (Fr. B 128 DK), and claims that humans have since forgotten that, because of transmigration, every killing is murder. Empedocles infers that humans must change their lifestyle and their religious practices. Empedocles’ prayer to the Muse (Fr. B 3 DK), in which the narrator’s mind and mouth are ritually purified by the gods, and Fr. B 110 DK are interpreted as the request for obtaining and maintaining inner purity.

Keywords:   Empedocles, daimon, sacrifice, murder, killing, pollution, kakotes, badness, oath, amplakia, transgression’, soul, transmigration

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