Born: 494 BC
Born In: Agrigento, Italy
Empedocles was a philosopher from ancient Greece. He was one of the most prominent Western philosophers of the pre-Socratic era. A native of Akragas, a Greek city in Sicily, Empedocles garnered recognition for conceiving the cosmogonic theory of the four classical elements. He also hypothesized forces he dubbed “Love” and “Strife” which would blend and part the elements, respectively. These physical concepts were part of the universe which also proposed ideas about the origin and development of life. He was born into an affluent family. His father played a pivotal role in deposing a tyrant in Akragas. Following in his footsteps, Empedocles also took part in the dethronement of the succeeding oligarchic government. He was highly altruistic and an impassioned supporter of the poor. He constantly criticised and acted against the despotic actions of the oligarchs and once even turned down the offer of the sovereignty of the city. The works of Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans had a deep impact on him. Empedocles was a vociferous opponent of the practice of animal sacrifice and killing animals for food. He created a unique doctrine of reincarnation and was possibly the final Greek philosopher to document his ideas in verse. A few of his works still exist, something that cannot be said about his contemporary colleagues.