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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Introduction of the Poem on Nature

By Parmenides (fl. early Fifth Century B.C.)

Translation of Thomas Davidson

SOON as the coursers that bear me and draw me as far as extendeth

Impulse, guided and threw me aloft in the glorious pathway,

Up to the goddess that guideth through all things man that is conscious,

There was I carried along, for there did the coursers sagacious,

Drawing the chariot, bear me, and virgins preceded to guide them—

Daughters of Helios, leaving behind them the mansions of darkness—

Into the light, with their strong hands forcing asunder the night-shrouds,

While in its sockets the axle emitted the sound of a syrinx,

Glowing, for still it was urged by a couple of wheels well-rounded,

One upon this side, one upon that, when it hastened its motion.

There were the gates of the paths of the Night and the paths of the Day-time.

Under the gates is a threshold of stone, and above is a lintel.

These too are closed in the ether with great doors guarded by Justice—

Justice the mighty avenger, that keepeth the keys of requital.

Her did the virgins address, and with soft words deftly persuaded,

Swiftly for them to withdraw from the gates the bolts and its fastener.

Opening wide, they uncovered the yawning expanse of the portal,

Backward rolling successive the hinges of brass in their sockets,—

Hinges constructed with nails and with clasps; then onward the virgins

Straightway guided their steeds and their chariot over the highway.

Then did the goddess receive me with gladness, and taking my right hand

Into her own, thus uttered a word and kindly bespake me:—

“Youth that art mated with charioteers and companions immortal,

Coming to us on the coursers that bear thee, to visit our mansion,

Hail! for it is not an evil Award that hath guided thee hither

Into this path,—for, I ween, it is far from the pathway of mortals,—

Nay, it is Justice and Right. Thou needs must have knowledge of all things:

First of the Truth’s unwavering heart that is fraught with conviction,

Then of the notions of mortals, where no true conviction abideth;

But thou shalt surely be taught this too,—that every opinion

Needs must pass through the ALL, and vanquish the test with approval.”