“Death of Empedocles” by Helderlin in a brief summary

In the center of the unfinished play is the image of the ancient Greek thinker, statesman, poet, healer Empedocles, who lived in 483-423. BC. e. The action takes place in the homeland of the philosopher – in the town of Agrigente in Sicily.

Vestal Pantea secretly leads to the house of Empedocles his guest Ray, so that she could at least from a distance to look at a wonderful man who feels like a god among the elements and composes divine songs. It is he who is indebted to Pantey for healing from a serious illness. She enthusiastically talks about the sage, who knows all the secrets of nature and human life, with what sympathy he comes to help the suffering, how much he did for the benefit of his fellow citizens. Rhea realizes that her friend is in love with Empedocles, and she does not hide her feelings. Pantheus is worried that Empedocles has been gloomy and depressed lately, she has a presentiment that his days are numbered.

Noticing the approach of Father Panthey

– the archon of Critia and the chief priest of Hermocrates, the girls disappear.

Men with malicious pleasure reason: passed Empedocles, and served him right. He imagined too much of himself, he opened the divine mysteries, which were to remain the property of some priests. His influence on the people was harmful, all these daring speeches about the new life, which should replace the old, habitual way of life, calls not to submit to primordial customs and traditional beliefs. A person should not violate the limits set by him, rebellion turned into a defeat for Empedocles. As he retired from all, there was a rumor that the gods had taken him alive to heaven. The people are accustomed to consider Empedocles a prophet, magician, demigod, it is necessary to overthrow him from the pedestal, expel from the city. Let the fellow citizens see him with a broken spirit, who has lost his former eloquence and extraordinary abilities, then nothing will be worth restoring against Empedocles.

Empedocles is tormented – it seems that pride has ruined him, the immortals have not forgiven him the attempts to become

with them on an equal level, turned away from him. He feels powerless and devastated – he subordinated nature to himself, having mastered her secrets, but after that the visible world lost his beauty and charm in his eyes, everything in him now seems petty and unworthy of attention. Moreover, he remains an incomprehensible compatriot, although they worship him. He never managed to raise them to the height of his thought.

Student Pausanias tries to encourage Empedocles – he was just tired, about what life defeat can be discussed, because it was he who breathed into the state meaning and reason. But Empedocles is inconsolable.

Hermocrates and Critias lead the inhabitants of Agrigent to look at the defeated idol and his suffering. The philosopher enters into a dispute with Hermocrates, accusing him and the whole priestly brethren of hypocrisy and falseness. The people do not understand the witty speeches, the Agrigentians are increasingly inclined to the fact that Empedocles’s mind is clouded. And then Hermkrat repeats the curse of the gods sent to the insolent rebel and the danger of further communication with those whom the immortals rejected. Empedocles is doomed to exile from his native city. At parting, the philosopher converses with Critia, he advises the archon to move to another place, if his daughter is dear to him, – she is divinely beautiful, perfection herself and withers in the Agrigent.

Leaving the homeland, Empedocles dismisses the slaves, punishing them to grab what they like in the house, and try not to fall into captivity anymore. Outraged by the monstrous injustice of fellow citizens towards Empedocles, Pantea comes to say goodbye to the philosopher, but does not find him.

Empedocles and Pausanias, having crossed the mountain paths, ask for a night’s lodging in a peasant hut, but the landlord cautiously meets the travelers, and when he finds out who they are, he curses away with curses. Pausanias is depressed, and Empedocles consoles the young man. He has already decided for himself: the way out of the spiritual crisis that has taken hold of them is to return to the “father-ether” and dissolve in nature.

Repentant Agrigents, after catching up with the exile, vainly offer Empedocles honor and the royal throne. The philosopher is adamant: after his ridicule and persecution, he rejected the society of people and does not intend to sacrifice his soul and convictions to them. The wrath of the people appeals to the chief priest, who deprived them of the patronage of the messenger of the gods, but because he did not want to destroy someone else’s superiority. Empedocles begs to stop arguing and scolding. He calls on fellow-citizens to a bright commonwealth in the field of labor and knowledge of the world, to the creation of new forms of social organization. He is destined to return to the bosom of nature and by his death to confirm the beginning of a new birth.

Empedocles says goodbye to Pausanias, he is proud to have brought up a worthy disciple, in which he sees his successor. Left alone, he rushes into the fire-crater of Etna to burn in his flame.

Having learned from Pausanias about what had happened, Panteya was shocked: fearless and truly magnificent, a man who chose his own will for himself.

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“Death of Empedocles” by Helderlin in a brief summary