I first heard the expression “Empedocles’ sandal” a long time ago without knowing what it referred to. It seems to derive from the legend of the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles (who was supposedly given to wearing scarlet clothes, a crown decorated with laurel flowers, a golden belt and bronze sandals).
The legend describes Empedocles’ inadvertent suicide — the outcome of jumping into a volcano to demonstrate his immortality. The volcano, however, only threw back one of his sandals.
The phrase has occasionally returned to haunt me, but I don’t know what it signifies to English speakers, or in what situations it might be used as the basis for a quip or allusion. Can you shed any light on its usage?