Reflections in classical philosophy concerning the superiority of spiritual power vs. physical vigor, by Xenophanes: Frag. 2D = 2W

Published: Jul 21, 2020
Xenophanes wisdom athletics spirit body values athletic victory common good
Konstantina I. Gongaki
Yannis S. Georgiou
Lilly Sofia Schmidt Gongaki
Xenophanes of Colophon (570-475 BC), a Pre-Socratic philosopher of the Eleatic School, faced life with his outspoken spirit, criticizing any values of his time considered obsolete, such as the anthropomorphic representation of the gods. He was the first philosopher who challenged the sporting value to the spiritual one. Revolutionary and innovative, in his second elegy expresses his preference for spiritual power, and he stands ironical towards the Greeks who give the physical rhyme excessive importance. According to Xenophanes, the athletic victory is simply due to the speed of the feet and does not affect the spiritual life of the city, while, on the contrary, the one who affects the ethical values of society is the one who produces thoughts and is interested in the common good. Obviously, Xenophanes feels unjust, and reacts to the great mismatch that exists between the real athletes' offer and the great honors that the society ascribes to them. Characteristically, Euripides will be influenced by Xenophanes’ ideas, while Isokrates, as well as other wise and intellectuals of the Classical Ages, will highlight the superiority of spiritual values as compared to athletic offerings, arguing that the greatest spiritual value is wisdom and the resulting benefit.
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a. Classical Texts
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Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History.
Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers.
Euripides, Autolykos, frag. 282 Nauck, from Athenaeus: Deipnosophists, (10.413 f - 414 c).
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Lucian, Anacharsis or Athletics.
Plato, The Apology of Socrates.
Xenophanes, Fragments.
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