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This original piece was inspired by a hand-sized fragment of crystalline sulphur gathered from the slopes of Mount Aetna, near the place of my birth. It brought forth a remembrance of the story of Empedocles of Akragas, the Sicilian poet, philosopher and healer who was considered by the Roman physician Galen to be the founder of the science of medicine in Italy. Empedocles was born during the remarkable time that brought forth such enlightened beings as Pythagoras, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Gautama Buddha.
Empedocles generated the doctrine of four elements - air earth, fire and water - as an elaboration of the monism of Parmenides. This notion was to be highly influential in both Western philosophy and in the theory and practice of European medicine for a period of over 2,000 years.
Among his remarkable achievements, Empedocles made life easier for the inhabitants of his native Akragas (present-day Agrigento) by draining the fetid swamps that surrounded the town thereby freeing the population from the scourge of malaria that swept through local communities every year. He also directed a massive engineering project to construct a series of berms which deflected the searing winds of the Saharan Sirocco away from the cultivated fields that supplied the town thereby securing food supplies in the region.
According to legend, Empedocles quietly slipped away from an evening celebration held in his honour at a location near Mount Aetna. A few days later, a search party discovered his bronze sandals placed carefully on the edge of the crater of the erupting volcano.
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The music that accompanies this piece was composed and performed by Nico Di Stefano.