And the clear truth no man has seen nor will anyone know concerning the gods and about all the things of which I speak; for even if he should actually manage to say what is the case, nevertheless he himself does not know it; but belief is found over all. – Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians VII 49
Not at first did the gods reveal all things to mortals, but in time, by inquiring, they make better discoveries. [B 18] – Stobaeus, Anthology I viii 2
But if cows and horses or lions had hands and drew with their hands and made the things men make, then horses would draw the forms of gods like horses, cows like cows, and each would make their bodies similar in shape to their own. – [B15] Clement Miscellanies V xiv 109.1-3
The first thing men of sense should do is sing of god in words of holiness and purity, with a libation and a prayer for means to do what’s right; that’s more straightforward, after all, than crimes. Then drink what you can hold and still get home unaided (if, of course, you’re not too old). Applaud the man who brings out good things in his cups, so that attention is attuned to good: don’t be relating wars of Titans or of Giants or Centaurs, fictions of the men of old, or strife and violence. There’s no benefit in that. No, always keep the gods duly in mind. 1
But if at running someone won a victory or in pentathlon at Olympia by Pises’s stream and Zeus’s precinct, or again in wrestling, or the boxer’s painful art, or that demanding trial they call Pankration, he’d be more glamorous in the city’s eyes; he’d get a front seat at competitive events, and meals provided from the public purse by vote of the city, and a prize to keep for aye – even if he won with steeds. He’d get all that without deserving it as I do, for my brain is worth much more than men’s or horses’ brawn. This custom’s quite irrational; it isn’t right to value brawn above the boon of brain. For just because there is some good boxer in the town or some good wrestler or pentathlon man or champion runner – which is most admired of all physical feats wherein men do compete – that won’t improve the law and order in the town; there’s little joy for the community in someone winning contests by the Pises’s banks: that doesn’t make the city’s coffers fat. 2
And learning useless luxury from Lydia, while they were free from hateful tyranny, they’d go to the piazza in full purple robes, a thousand of them at the very least, proud in the splendor of their finely coiffured hair and sleek with unguents of the choicest scent. 3
[The Account of Pythagoras and the dog] pg. 159
Yet mortal men imagine gods are born and dress like them, are shaped like them, and have their speech. 14
Diogenes Laertius, Book IV - Xenophanes
is praised by Timon, whose words at all events are:
Xenophanes, not over-proud, perverter of Homer, castigator.
Xenophanes was the first to declare that everything which comes into being is doomed to perish, and that the soul is breath.
20. He also said that the mass of things falls short of thought; and again that our encounters with tyrants should be as few, or else as pleasant, as possible. When Empedocles remarked to him that it is impossible to find a wise man, "Naturally," he replied, "for it takes a wise man to recognize a wise man." Sotion says that he was the first to maintain that all things are incognizable, but Sotion is in error.