(born circa 560, Colophon, Ionia—died circa 478 BC) Greek poet, religious thinker, and reputed precursor of philosophy of the Eleatics. Though some critics consider Parmenides the founder of the Eleatic school, Xenophanes' philosophy, which found expression primarily in the poetry he recited on his travels, probably anticipated Parmenides' views. Fragments of his epics reflect his contempt for anthropomorphism and for popular acceptance of Homeric mythology.
Learn more about Xenophanes of Colophon with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Colophon (Greek Κολοφών) was a city in the region of Lydia in antiquity dating from about the turn of the first millennium-BC. It was likely one the oldest of the twelve Ionian League cities, between Lebedos (120 stadia to the west) and Ephesus (to its south) and its ruins are in the eponymously named modern region of Ionia.
The city's name comes from the word κολοφών, 'summit', which is the origin of the bibliographic term 'colophon', in the metaphorical sense of a 'crowning touch', as it was sited along a ridgeline. The term "colophony" for rosin comes from the term colophonia resina, that is, resin from the pine trees of Colophon, which was highly valued for the strings of musical instruments.
In Greek antiquity two sons of Codrus, King of Athens, established a colony there. It was the birthplace of the philosopher Xenophanes and the poet Mimnermus. The cavalry of Colophon was renowned. In the third century-BC, it was destroyed by Lysimachus—a Macedonian officer, one of the successors (diadochus) of Alexander the Great, later a king (306 BCE) in Thrace and Asia Minor, during the same era when he nearly destroyed (and did depopulate by forced expulsion) the neighboring Ionian League city of Lebedos.
In Roman times, after Lysimachus' conquest, Colophon failed to recover (unlike Lebedos) and lost its importance; actually, the name was transferred to the site of the port village of Notium, and the latter name disappeared between the Peloponnesian War and the time of Cicero (late 400s BC to 1st century BC).
Additionally, the city, as a major location on the Ionic mainland, was cited as a possible home or birthplace for Homer. In his True History, Lucian lists it as a possible birthplace along with the island of Khios and the city of Smyrna, though Lucian's Homer claims to be from Babylon.