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Xenophanes' Critique (Essay Sample)

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Xenophanes` Critique
Xenophanes` poetic work has only been preserved in fragments; however, despite this Xenophanes` disregard for the religious beliefs held by most people at that time is evident in his poetry. He blatantly ridicules the manner in which great Greek poets Homer and Hesiod, depict the gods in their work. Xenophanes` philosophy is still not clear and as it I mentioned earlier, Xenophanes` literary work is not fully preserved which makes it all the more difficult to ferret out exactly what he proposed in place of the widely accepted polytheistic religious beliefs.
In the fragments that have survived clearly show the plain mockery and criticism Xenophanes subjected Hesiod`s and Homer`s work t that is believed to have established the foundation of Greek religion and theology. There are essentially two aspects of Hesiod`s and Homer`s work that has triggered Xenophanes` critique. Those aspects are that in their poems, not only the concepts of polytheism are discussed but there epics are centered on gods partaking in the most heinous of acts and spent most of their times manipulating and conspiring against each other. (Xenophanes & Lesher, 2001)
This aspect of Xenophanes` critique is ostensible from the following quote in his work:
"Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all things that are a shame and a disgrace among mortals, stealings and adulteries and deceivings of one another.;(Xenophanes, Fr 11 cited in Porter, 2006, p. 95)
The aforementioned quote is a clear example that the events and attributed that are associated with the gods discussed in Hesiod`s and Homer`s work are hardly divine. According to Xenophanes, worshipping such gods is out of question, who spread such malice and negativity amongst the mortals. They unashamedly indulge in the most nefarious of activities and there is in fact nothing glorious about them. (Xenophanes & Lesher, 2001)
The second aspect of their poetry that attracted immense criticism was the concept of ‘Anthropomorphism` that was encompassed in their poetries. Anthropomorphism is defined as attributing human act or form to inanimate objects, elements of nature or animals. It formed an integral part of Greek literature and many of their religious beliefs are centered on anthropomorphic concepts and beliefs. These conceptions were ridiculed by Xenophanes, as anthropomorphic notions were associated with deities and the Greek societies blindly worshipped them. He further criticized the fact that the people attributed human traits with gods, and openly mocked the poets for depicting the gods so and the naivety of the people for believing them. (Xenophanes & Lesher, 2001)
According to Xenophanes` philosophy, there is only one true God, who is sovereign over the entire world and the universe. His attributes are non-anthropomorphic and is beyond the imagination and perception of humans. He stated:
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