Empedocles played a crucial role in the development of western culture; yet little is known or understood about this man, who lived in Sicily in the fifth-century BC. This is mainly becuase his teaching has been reconstructed by modern shcolars first and formost on the basis of Aristotle's hostile reports - producing a picture which is disconnected and lacking in depth. Using material never exploited before, Peter Kingsley presents the first full-scale study of Empedocles to situate his fragmentary writings in their original context of philosophy as a way of life, mystery religion and magic, and of the struggle to realize one's own divinity. This study also explores fresh evidence which proves Empedocles was not an isolated figure and reveals new links between his work and ancient Pythagoreanism. The process of establishing these links now makes it possible to demonstrate, in detail, the Pythagorean origin of Plato's myths. Kingsley re-examines problems regarding the connections between ancient magic, science, and religion.
More specifically, he traces for the first time a line of transmission from Empedocles and the early Pythagoreans down to southern Egypt, and from there into the world of Islam. 'highly polemical new book...The thesis is argued with immense learning.' Times Higher Education Supplement