Empedocles took an important step in the direction of modern conceptions of physical evolution by teaching that all things arise, not by transformations of some primitive form of matter, but by various combinations of a number of permanent elements.
His devotion to Epicurus seems at first sight more difficult to explain than his enthusiasm for Empedocles or Ennius.
Empedocles tries to explain the genesis of organic beings, and, according to Lange, anticipates the idea of Darwin that adaptations abound, because it is their nature to perpetuate themselves.
Foremost among these were the writings of Epicurus; but he had also an intimate knowledge of the philosophical poem of Empedocles, and at least an acquaintance with the works of Democritus, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Plato and the Stoical writers.
Most famous in connexion with this kind of poetry are Xenophanes and Parmenides, the Eleatics and Empedocles of Agrigentum.