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This appears to fit in with the known history of Acragas where after the death of the popular and enlightened tyrant Theron in 473 B. In his works he presents himself as a wandering healer offering to thousands of eager followers 'prophecies' and ‘words of healing for all kinds of illnesses' (fr. He also promises his addressee Pausanias 'you will learn remedies () for ills and help against old age' and even ‘you will lead from Hades the life-force of a dead man'.

To what degree this represents the real Empedocles is not known, but a tradition grew up of him as both a renowned physician and a practitioner of more magical cures, or as a charlatan.

These are able to create all things, including all living creatures, by being 'mixed' in different combinations and proportions.

His works (whether they are two poems or only one – see below) exist in more than 150 fragments.

He began his political career with the prosecution of two state officials for their arrogant behaviour towards foreign guests which was seen as a sign of incipient tyrannical tendencies.

He is also credited with activities against other anti-democratic citizens, and even with putting down an oligarchy and instituting a democracy at Acragas by use of his powers of rhetorical persuasion.

His death in particular attracted attention and is reported to have occurred in several, clearly bathetic, ways: that he fell overboard from a ship and drowned; that he fell from his carriage, broke his leg and died; that he hanged himself; or the most famous account that, when he felt he was shortly to die and because he wished to appear to have been apotheosized, he leapt into the crater of Etna. He was the son of a certain Meton, and was from an important and wealthy local aristocratic family: his grandfather, also called Empedocles, is reported to have been victorious in horse-racing at the Olympic Games in 496 B. Whether or not he was his pupil, Empedocles was certainly very familiar with the work of Parmenides from whom he took the inspiration to write in hexameter verse, and whose physical system he adopts in part, and partly seeks to rectify.

In this story the ruse was unfortunately discovered when one of his trademark bronze sandals was thrown up by the volcano. He is reported to have been wealthy and to have kept a train of boy attendants and also to have provided dowries for many girls of Acragas.

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These stories however, may well derive from Empedocles' own words in his poetry.

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  1. At first the groom comes and gives something (often money or jewelry) for the bride, and so the parents of the bride bring out a woman or man (the latter for amusement) that is not the actual bride, but is dressed up like one, covered in a veil, so the groom can't see their face.