Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2021
This chapter takes a holistic approach to Xenophanes’ fragments, investigating the responses and interpretations they invite by drawing upon their literary and performative contexts as well as the wider context of Xenophanes’ philosophy. The hexameter and elegiac fragments are analysed against their respective genres and, in particular, the different ways in which the two genres typically construct the authority of the narrator. Against the view that verse was inessential to Xenophanes’ message, it is argued that his metres and other formal features participate in particular generic traditions through which they convey a message in at least three respects. First, they imply certain claims, such as that the single god is worthy of hymnic veneration. Second, they contribute to emotive effects, for instance, in D61=B2, by conjuring a sense of injustice that athletic prowess is valued over wisdom. Third, they invite certain distinctive types of interpretation. Additionally, this chapter discusses the well-known criticisms of Homer and Hesiod, arguing that they are targeted primarily against the pernicious societal influence of the canonical poems rather than their factual inaccuracy.