Empedocles on Etna

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A dramatic poem by M. Arnold, published anonymously 1852.

Arnold portrays the philosopher Empedocles, who committed suicide by throwing himself into the crater of Etna, on the verge of his last act. Empedocles expresses his intellectual doubts, dismissing the reassuring platitudes of religion and philosophy; man's yearning for joy, calm, and enlightenment is in itself no proof that these things exist or can be attained. He grieves over his own ‘dwindling faculty of joy’, and finally, in a kind of triumph, concluding that at least he has been ever honest in his doubts, hurls himself to his death.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Matthew Arnold (1822—1888) poet, writer, and inspector of schools

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