Parmenides of Elea from (Greek Παρμενίδης; * to 520/515 BC; † around 460/455 BC) was one of the most important Greek philosophers. He is counted among the pre-Socratics and lived in Elea, a city founded by Greeks in southern Italy.


The above birth and death dates of Parmenides are unsecured. Also the fact that he, according to Plutarch, to have occurred in Elea, as legislators, can not be proven. Ancient sources indicate that Parmenides was a disciple of Xenophanes, and Zeno of Elea, the teacher and the Melissos. Also there is no evidence for it. According to Diogenes Laertius Parmenides should indeed have heard talks of Xenophanes, but are more likely the results of the critical reflection of his teachings have been incorporated into the work of Parmenides, that as he continued his thoughts in it. The opinion that it was impossible to obtain reliable knowledge, as represented Xenophanes, is the main argument for this assumption.

A note on the teacher-student connection between Parmenides and Zeno is given in Plato's dialogue Parmenides, Plato leaves in which Parmenides and Zeno occur together. However, the course of the dialogue, in the Parmenides makes the investigation of his teaching in the same way that applies Socrates in other dialogues of Plato, and the fact that the dialogue leads to aporias that remain unresolved, can the actual participation of the Parmenides doubtful what the note Plato makes the connection between Parmenides and Zeno to speculation.

According to contemporary research Parmenides is also regarded as a teacher of Leucippus.


Parmenides has written a single, very short work. The knowledge of this work we owe the tradition by the Greek philosopher Simplicius.

In the reception of the work is referred to as didactic poem and given the title On Nature. Authorizations in this regard by the author, there are just as little as for the assessment by various artists breakdown of Parmenides documents into the three parts: proem, Aletheia and Doxa.

There is also, in the reception area before the opinion, the work of Parmenides is preserved only in fragments, but that can be said only of the part with some certainty, which is referred to by various artists as doxa.


The work begins with the report of the narrator of a journey that leads him to the front gate, which pass through the paths of day and night and is guarded by Dike, goddess of justice. After Dike has the narrator granted admission, he is greeted by an unnamed goddess who alone will from now on the word. She explains to him at first that his convert had him far out of the usual paths of people to this place, which is why she would reveal to him now, what there is to say on the one hand about the truth of safe and what appears to be on the other mortals true. Certainly, the goddess continues to be said that the being ( t'eon, ta EONTA ), the non-being ( mê EONTA ) does not. The being, as Parmenides was, completed and completely unchangeable. The possibility of alteration or destruction is inconceivable, and thus the assumption is some form of change of being mere opinion (doxa ) and thus pure appearance, which puts them in conflict with a collection of beings by reason.

With different approaches, the goddess repeated Furthermore this insight and designs the image of the being as a unentstandenen, indivisible homogeneous contained whole, whose perfection is compared with that of a sphere. After the goddess has concluded her speech about the truth of being, follow a few sentences to what seems to be true in the minds of the people. Due to the ordering of these sets arises in fact the impression that it is preserved fragments of an originally more extensive recording with them.


With regard to the religious context of Parmenides ' work, some researchers, including Alexander P. Mourelatos, Charles H. Kahn and Peter Kingsley, pulled in Germany Klaus Heinrich and Martin Heidegger first, the purely philosophical interpretation of Parmenides in doubt. You mean you 've been given the apocalyptic context, too little attention, have made ​​his presentation in the Parmenides. Therefore, his teachings had been interpreted in a manner that will not do justice to the original work.

Undeniably, the influence of Parmenides to Plato, has significantly influenced over Parmenides Western philosophy. Plato himself calls him " our father Parmenides " and makes him appear in his Parmenides dialogue, where he dialectically deals with Socrates. In Theaetetus Socrates declares Parmenides was the only one among all the wise, who have denied that all movement and change is.

Text editions and translations

  • Hermann Diels: Parmenides. Didactic poem. With a new foreword by Walter Burkert and a revised bibliography of Daniela de Cecco. Berlin:. Academia, 2003 ( = International Pre- Platonic Studies Vol 3). ( first 1897)
  • Ernst Heitsch: Parmenides. The fragments. Greek - German. Edited, translated and explained. Artemis, Zurich 1995
  • Uvo Hölscher: Parmenides. On the essence of beings. The fragments of Greek and German, ed., Translated and explained. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 1969
  • Geoffrey S. Kirk, John E. Raven, Malcolm Schofield ( ed. ): The pre-Socratic philosophers. Introduction, texts and comments. Metzler, Stuttgart 1994, pp. 263-289
  • Jaap Mansfeld: The fragments of the didactic poem. Translation and structure. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1985.
  • Kurt Riezler: Parmenides. Text Greek- German (translation, introduction and interpretation). With an afterword by Hans -Georg Gadamer, Frankfurt am Main 2001 (3), ISBN 978-3-465-03151-2
  • Leonardo Taran: Parmenides. A text with translation, commentary, and critical essays. Princeton 1965.