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The Cycle of Rebirth: From “On Nature” and “The Purifications” by Empedocles (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2

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THE PURIFICATIONS Expiation and Metempsychosis “There is a word of Fate, an old decree And everlasting of the Gods, made fast With ample oaths, that whosoever of those Far spirits, with their lot of age-long life, Do foul their limbs with slaughter in offense, Or swear forsworn, as failing of their pledge, Shall wander thrice ten thousand weary years Far from the Blessed, and be born through time In various shapes of mortal kind, which change Ever and ever troublous paths of life: For now Air hunts them onward to the Sea; Now the wild Sea disgorges them on Land; Now Earth will spue toward beams of radiant Sun; Whence he will toss them back to whirling Air— Each gets from other what they all abhor. And in that brood, I too am numbered now, A fugitive and vagabond from Heaven, As one obedient unto raving Strife.

Charis abhors intolerable Fate. For I was once already boy and girl, Thicket and bird, and mute fish in the waves.”

This Earth of Ours “I wept and wailed, beholding the strange place. From what large honor and what height of bliss Am I here fallen to move with mortal kind!”

Animal Sacrifice “Will ye not cease from this great din of slaughter? Will ye not see, unthinking as ye are, How ye rend one another unbeknown?

The father lifted for the stroke of death His own dear son within a changed form. And slits his throat for sacrifice with prayers— A blinded fool! But the poor victims press, Imploring their destroyers. Yet not one But still is deaf to piteous moan and wail. Each slits the throat and in his halls prepares A horrible repast. Thus too the son Seizes the father, children the mother seize, And reave of (steal) life and eat their own dear flesh. Drawing the soul as water with the bronze.

Ah woe is me! that never a pitiless day Destroyed me long ago, ere yet my lips Did meditate this feeding’s monstrous crime!”

The Progression of Rebirth “And seers at last, and singers of high hymns, Physicians sage, and chiefs over Earth-born men Shall they become, whence germinate the Gods. The excellent in honors. At hearth and feast companioned with the Immortals, From human pains and wasting eld immune.”
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