Friedrich Hölderlin worked on Empedokles throughout his time in Homburg; it is very much a work of that intensely reflective and ambitious period. However the play was conceived in Frankfurt, in August or September 1797. Hölderlin wrote to his stepbrother that he would be glad to be finished with Hyperion. It is safe to assume that the play in question is Empedokles and that the draft is the so-called Frankfurter Plan. There are three versions of the play, all fragmentary. Together with the Frankfurt Plan and the exploratory essay ‘Grund zum Empedokles’, they represent different perceptions of the dramatic subject, which is Empedocles' death. They cannot be read as different attempts to say the same thing, nor can they be amalgamated to form one coherent view. Though the topic is in essence constant and every version addresses it, the various facets and the shifts in focus are worth distinguishing.
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