Xenophanes of Colophon (Greek Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος ([Xenophánes o Kolofoneos] (570 – 480 BC) was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and religious critic. Our knowledge of his views comes from his surviving poetry, all of which are fragments passed down as quotations by later Greek writers. His poetry criticized and satirized a wide range of ideas, including the belief in the pantheon of anthropomorphic gods and the Greeks' veneration of athleticism. He is the earliest Greek poet who claims explicitly to be writing for future generations, creating "fame that will reach all of Greece, and never die while the Greek kind of songs survives."
Xenophanes rejected the idea that the gods resembled humans in form. One famous, proto-sociological passage ridiculed the idea by claiming that, if oxen were able to imagine gods, then those gods would be in the image of oxen:
The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair. Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
And could sculpture like men, then the horses would draw their gods Like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape Bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.
Many translations of this passage have Xenophanes state that the Thracians were "blond".
Because of his development of the concept of a "one god greatest among gods and men" that is abstract, universal, unchanging, immobile and always present, Xenophanes is often seen as one of the first monotheists, in the Western philosophy of religion. This vision is not undisputed; while it seems clear that Xenophanes differed markedly from the commonly held cosmology of his contemporaries, it is less clear that his ideas were congruent with monotheism per se, as he seemed to admit the existence of other gods ("among gods and men"), albeit different gods than the ones represented in the works of Homer and Hesiod....