§1 The goddess [6-8]

"didactic poem" is the word of this goddess. If, at the very beginning, we pay heed to this and preserve it well and rigorously in our memory, from then on we shall take our direction from the insight. to be acknowledged gradually, that the dictum of the thinker speaks by bringing into language the word of this goddess.

Who is the goddess? We anticipate the answer conveyed only by the "didactic poem" as a whole. The goddess is the goddess "truth." "The truth"-itself-is the goddess. Hence we shall avoid the locution that would speak of a goddess "of" the truth. For the expression "goddess of truth" evokes the idea of a goddess to whose patronage and blessing "the truth" is only entrusted. In that case, we would have two items on the one hand "a goddess" and on the other "the truth," standing under divine protection. We could then illustrate this state of affairs in accordance with familiar examples. The Greeks worshiped, for instance, the goddess Artemis as the goddess of hunting and of animals. Hunting and animals are not the goddess Artemis herself but are what is dedicated to her and what stands under her protection. If. however, Parmenides calls the goddess "truth," then here truth itself is being experienced as a goddess. This might seem strange to us. For in the first place we would consider it extremely odd for a thinker to relate his thinking to the word of a divine being. It is distinctive of the thinkers who later, i.e , from the time of Plato, are called "philosophers" that their own meditation is the source of their thoughts. Thinkers are indeed decidedly called "thinkers" because, as is said, they think "out of" themselves and in their very thinking put themselves at stake. The thinker answers questions he himself has raised. Thinkers do not proclaim "revelations" from a god. They do not report the inspirations of a goddess They state their own insights. What then are we to make of a goddess in this "didactic poem" which brings to words the thoughts of a thinking whose purity and rigor have never recurred since? But even if Parmenides' thinking did arise out of a ground as yet hidden to us and therefore rightfully stood in a relation to the goddess "truth," we would nonetheless still be lacking the immediate appearance of a divine figure such as we are familiar with in the Greek world. Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Demeter appear as unequivocally delineated "divine persons." The goddess "truth," on the other hand, is largely "abstract." One could even maintain that we have to do here with no "mythical experience" of this goddess but that a thinker out of his own initiative is "personifying" the universal concept "truth" in the indeterminate figure of a goddess. In fact we very often come across this device of "hypostatizing" universal concepts as divinities, especially in later antiquity.

Perhaps the thinker Parmenides is using a similar device in order to give more fullness and color to his otherwise all too "abstract" thoughts. In addition, if we consider that the start of Western thought