In the case of Heraclitus of Ephesus, we are blessed for the first time with a large number of fragments, and cursed by their enigmatic obscurity, which was already notorious in ancient times (and which has led to quite a high degree of textual corruption of the fragments). It is even possible that Heraclitus did not write a coherent treatise, but a series of longer and shorter aphorisms, suitable for an oral culture, which frequently rely on metaphor and paradox. This makes pinning his thought down extremely hard, which is presumably (since he was a consummate stylist) the result he intended. Under these circumstances, it seems safest to group his fragments by theme or family resemblance, and gradually to see if anything more systematic can be made out of them. It is hardly going too far to say that divergent interpretations of Heraclitus’ thought can be reached simply by grouping different fragments together, but at the same time it is true that Heraclitus builds resonances into his sayings, by repeating the same or similar words and phrases, and these resonances come into play whatever order we impose on the fragments.1
There are several recurring themes. The first concerns what Heraclitus calls ‘the logos’, and people’s incomprehension of it. The logos is something one can hear (F1), and yet it is not simply Heraclitus’ own ‘account’ of things, since he distinguishes himself from it in F10, and it predates his or any account of it in F1. It speaks through him, then, and at the same time it is responsible for events on earth. It comes from the world at large, and is presumably what entitles Heraclitus to describe the world as ‘wise’ in F4. The whole world is intelligent and alive, and speaks to the wise man subtly, communicating its inner nature and enabling him to model himself on it. The best I can do to encompass most of the range of Heraclitus’ meanings is ‘principle’,2 but this loses the idea of speaking/hearing, which may still be prominent, in that Heraclitus may have conceived of this ‘principle’ as something spoken eternally by the universe, for those with ears to hear, and reflected, more or less accurately, in the teaching of sages such as himself.
These first fragments (up to F8) reveal Heraclitus in prophet mode, castigating people for their failure to wake up to reality. Like Xenophanes and Philolaus, Heraclitus draws a line between the truth, which is accessible only to divine understanding, qua eternal, and mere human comprehension (see also F19); yet we can, presumably, attain the divine understanding required. The combination of T1 and F5 shows that (like the modern mystic G. I. Gurdjieff) Heraclitus calls our normal waking state ‘sleep’, and is urging us to wake up to a higher understanding. The logos, like the whole world, is common—accessible to all—and yet we fail to see what is right before our eyes: this is the implication of F5 and F6.
According to the truth of the logos, all is one and there is proportion or harmony throughout the world. This leads us into a second set of fragments (F13–20), which illustrate various ways in which there is coincidence or even identity of opposites. Either they are part of the same continuum (e.g. F13–14), or they are relative in some way or another (F15–16). Relativity is another common theme in Heraclitus (F17–19). Somewhat pedantically, Aristotle complains (e.g. at Physics 185b19–25, Metaphysics 1012a24–6) that Heraclitus breaks the law of non-contradiction, and in identifying opposites makes every statement true. But what is important to Heraclitus is precisely that things change from day to day and from context to context.
Although the logos, the truth of things, is common (i.e. universal and universally apprehensible), it is different from anything else (F11); although it is common, it is unfamiliar and unexpected (F9). Since the apprehension of things like the underlying harmony of the world requires reflection, not just naïve reliance on the senses (F24—5), it is not surprising to find Heraclitus casting doubt on the senses (F27). His scepticism is not absolute, though: the senses are still all we have (F28, F29), but the data with which they supply us require judicious assessment. F26 refers simultaneously to the ambiguity of sensory evidence and the ambiguity of Heraclitus’ own sayings. The way to truth is perhaps suggested by F30 and F31, where Heraclitus reveals his own methodology (‘I searched for myself’) and suggests that we can all do the same, and will all come up with the same result: the common logos. At any rate, note the difference in methodology between the judicious use of the senses and introspection recommended by Heraclitus, and the ‘wide learning’ for which he condemns Pythagoras (T1 and T2, on p. 95).
The underlying unity of things, according to F4 and F32, can be called ‘god’, or ‘the divine law’ (F12). This is to say, by Milesian convention, that it is the ultimate reality of things. And yet in antiquity Heraclitus was famous for stressing the flux of things, rather than this stability. Indeed, Plato thinks of him entirely as a teacher of the metaphysical doctrine of flux, and constantly opposes him to unitarians like Parmenides. The main evidence for Heraclitus’ teaching on flux is given in F33–6 (assuming that ‘dying’ in F36 is a metaphor for change), and T3–4. The solution to the apparent contradiction between flux and stability may be that Heraclitus actually taught the underlying unity and stability of things at a deeper level, the level underlying flux which is accessible to divine reason. The river is single, despite its flux; dying and living are a single continuum. As well as actual physical flux, there is the epistemic flux implied by the emphasis on relativity that we have already noted. This of course relates to Heraclitus’ scepticism about the evidence of the senses: there is nothing on the face of the world that we can securely grasp or base our moral opinions on; so we had better wake up and look to the underlying stability and unity of things.
At one point, with tantalizing obscurity, this underlying unity is described as ‘back-turning, like a bow or a lyre’ (F21). Obviously, the strings of a bow or a lyre would not maintain their tension in one direction if there was not an equal tension in the opposite direction. This seems to be what Heraclitus is getting at, especially in his emphasis on opposites in the world. They tend in opposite directions, but are actually essential to each other, and this tension is in fact another way of hinting at the underlying unity or connectedness of the world. The idea of tension leads naturally into yet another possible description of the underlying connectedness of things as a kind of war (F22, F23).
We now come to the most puzzling aspect of Heraclitus’ thought. A number of fragments make some cosmological mention of fire (F32, F36–40). On the one hand, fire seems to be another symbol of constancy in change, like ‘war’ above: while seeming to be in motion, there is still the unity of the fact that it remains fire, and the proportionate balance between the flames and the fuel. On the other hand, fire also at times seems close to being a Milesian arkhē or divinized elemental principle; this, of course, is how Aristotle took it (Metaphysics 984a7), and we can judge from F10 that Heraclitus was a monist. But F38 tells strongly against the idea that fire is an Aristotelian substrate, since what is important about commercial exchange is precisely that I come away with goods, not gold: gold does not outlast the exchange. In any case, fire for Heraclitus does not seem to be unlimited (as Anaximenes’ air is, for instance), but he does sometimes speak as if it were a constituent of things. We should think of this fire not as the fire in our grates, but as the pure fire or aither of the upper heavens. Broadly, he seems to divide the matter of the world into fire, water (sea), and earth, with all three interacting in a way that preserves their original equilibrium, and changing into one another: fire becomes water by gradual condensation (T8), sea becomes earth and fire (as witnessed by the phenomenon of lightning, which Heraclitus may have thought rose up from the sea to the upper fire of the universe, rather than striking downwards), and so on. But, assuming that in F39‘thunderbolt’ is a form of fire, fire plays the dominant role (this is also perhaps the implication of F41). Heraclitus must have been impressed with the destructive power of fire, and also its role in preserving life, through warmth. Fire is itself a paradox, and serves as both a symbol and a major constituent of the paradoxical world.
F40 is the only one of Heraclitus’ fire fragments which could easily be interpreted as implying that, at some stage, the world will be consumed by fire; F36 would imply this too, if the ‘measures’ Heraclitus speaks of are understood in a temporal sense. The periodic destruction of the world by fire was Stoic doctrine, and they commonly (but not universally) looked back to Heraclitus as their predecessor in this respect. Cosmic conflagration is also the context in which Hippolytus preserves this particular fragment. This is a difficult issue, with various scholars arguing for or against the attribution of the doctrine to Heraclitus. On the one hand, the general tenor of Heraclitus’ thought seems to be that there is harmonious give and take between the major stuffs of the world—fire, water, and earth—and it is hard to see how the idea that the world is periodically overwhelmed by fire fits in with this. On the other hand, fire clearly does occupy a special place in Heraclitus’ thought, and is not just on a par with earth and water. In addition to late Stoic doctrine, there is also the unequivocal evidence of Aristotle in T5 and T6, which clearly attributes to Heraclitus a belief in the cyclical destruction and renewal of the world. On balance—but it is a fine balance—I suppose that Heraclitus may have believed in a periodic cosmic conflagration.3
The pure fire in the heavens is replenished, according to T8, by evaporation from the sea. These gaseous evaporations are ignited and form the heavenly bodies. If the sun is renewed each day (by these evaporations), as T7 tells us, presumably the same goes for the other heavenly bodies as well. Although we have little or nothing in the way of astronomical fragments (e.g. F42), Diogenes Laertius’ report in T8 seems pretty authoritative and accurate.4 Heraclitus was considerably less interested in astronomical and meteorological matters than his predecessors; he had a universal message to convey, and seems to have spent only a little time indicating how it applied in various domains—astronomy, politics, ethics, and so on.
Given the dominance of fire, it is perhaps not surprising to find that it constitutes and explains the functioning of the dominant part of humans—the soul; he may have inferred the hot nature of soul from the fact that de-animated corpses turn cold. Typically, though, Heraclitus expresses this idea in a teasing and elliptical fashion. It is only because we know that the three major stuffs of the world are earth, water, and fire, that we recognize in F44 the replacement of ‘fire’ with ‘soul’. Water is the source of soul because (as Aristotle noted at On the Soul 405a) for Heraclitus the stuff of soul was the same as the stuff exhaled by water; and we know from T8 that the light, dry exhalations from the sea form the pure kind of fire that is found in the upper regions of the universe. So again, soul is fire, or at least light, bright, and fiery. F45 and F47 fit into this framework straightforwardly, but F48 is more mysterious. Perhaps Heraclitus conceived of soul as a fragment of the fire at large in the universe (see Xenophon,Memorabilia 1.4.8 and Plato,Philebus 29a-c). F46 implies that a degree of asceticism may be necessary to avoid moistening the soul. However, as F44 reminds us, soul/fire emerges out of water, and therefore there is a cycle of death and rebirth for soul. Much ofF49 is obscure, but the idea that when dreaming we kindle a light for ourselves shows the connection between not just sensation and light, but cognition and the internal fire which is our soul. The innovatory notion that the soul is responsible for cognition is also, of course, suggested by F27. This is also the theme of T9 (which we may take to be basically accurate). This enables us to tie up a couple of loose threads. We know from F1 that the logos, the ‘principle’, governs things; we know from F39 that fire guides things; we now know that our soul is fiery, and it is reasonable to think that it governs the otherwise insensate body. Our human soul, then, when properly dry and fiery, like a beam of light (F47), is in touch or even in communion with the fiery nature of the principle which governs the universe as a whole. In this sense, as F48 hints, the soul is co-extensive with the universe as a whole.
Heraclitus’ teaching on the soul did not stop with its fiery constitution and relation to the governing fire of the logos. He believed that good people would be repaid with a better lot in the afterlife (F50–2)— or perhaps that they were the only ones who gained an afterlife, while other souls perish as water (F44). But what is a good person? T10 seems to suggest that Heraclitus subscribed to a traditional Homeric code. His reputation in antiquity was as a haughty aristocrat, and this may perhaps be borne out by the few fragments which reflect on political matters (F53–8; see also F7), especially if the ‘insolence’ referred to in F58 is the insolence of democratic intentions (but this fragment may just be a general ethical recommendation of moderation) and if the ‘animals’ of F59are symbols for a ‘lower’ type of human. It seems to me that F55 and F12 are the crucial political fragments: his hierarchical, meritocratic politics is merely a reflection of the hierarchy he perceived in the universe at large. Thus the deliberate ambiguity of F54falls into place: in a political context, one should obey the one leader; in a cosmic context, one should hearken to the one, the logos. By relating politics and perhaps ethics to his larger, metaphysical framework, Heraclitus earns a place as the first systematic moral philosopher.
Finally, since the logos is divine, it comes as little surprise to find Heraclitus in F61–4 continuing Xenophanes’ criticism of conventional religion and some of its beliefs and practices. F64 was considered particularly shocking, but once Heraclitus had made the soul the true self (he was the first philosopher to do so), it naturally followed that once the soul has left the body, the corpse is totally worthless. But in general his criticism is not as far-reaching as that of Xenophanes. He still acknowledges at least some divinities (T11, and see also the use of Apollo in F26 and Zeus in F4) and, just as the implication of F62 may be that there is a proper way to conduct mystery initiations, so the implication of F61 could be that there is a correct way to purify oneself and pray to the gods. His divinized logos is like the Intelligence or nous of later Greek philosophy: a somewhat anthropomorphized way of explaining the apparent orderliness of the world. The Greek word kosmos (‘universe’, ‘world’) originally meant ‘orderly arrangement’ (as in F36). But his rejection of external guardian spirits (F60) has profound consequences: we make our own destinies. In a world of flux and hidden stability, of war and hidden peace, we choose to be one of the sleepers or to wake up.
F1 (DK 22B1; KRS 194; W 1; M 1; K 1) But of this principle which holds forever people prove ignorant, not only before they hear it, but also once they have heard it.* For although everything happens in accordance with this principle, they resemble those with no familiarity with it, even after they have become familiar with the kinds of accounts and events I discuss as I distinguish each thing according to its nature and explain its constitution. But the general run of people are as unaware of their actions while awake as they are of what they do while asleep.* (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 7.132 Bury)
F2 (DK 22B78; KRS 205; W 61; M 90; K 55) Unlike divine nature, human nature lacks sound judgements. (Origen, Against Celsus 6.12.13–14 Koetschau)
F3 (DK 22B41; KRS 227; W 120; M 85; K 54) The one wise thing is to know, in sound judgement, how everything is guided in every case.† (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.1.7–8 Long)
F4 (DK 22B32; KRS 228; W 119; M 84; K 108) The one and only wise thing is and is not willing to be called by the name of Zeus. (Clement, Miscellanies 5.115.1 Stählin/Früchtel)
F5 (DK 22B34; W 55; M 2; K 2) In their ignorance after having listened they behave like the deaf. The saying ‘Though present they are absent’ testifies to their case. (Clement, Miscellanies 5.115.3 Stählin/Früchtel)
T1 (DK 22B89; W 15; M 24; K 6) Heraclitus says that the universe for those who are awake is single and common, while in sleep each person turns aside into a private universe.* (Ps.-Plutarch, On Superstition 166c5–8 Babbit)
F6 (DK 22B2; KRS 195; W 2; M 23; K3) And so one ought to follow what is common.† Although the principle is common, the majority of people live as though they had private understanding. (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 7.133.4–7 Bury)
F7 (DK 22B104; W 91; M 101; K 59) What intelligence or insight do they have? They trust the people’s bards and take for their teacher the mob, not realizing that ‘Most men are bad, few good.’* (Proclus, Commentary on Plato’s ‘First Alcibiades’ 256.2–5 Segonds)
T2 (DK 22B42; W 93; M 30; K 21) He said that Homer deserved to be expelled from the competition and thrashed, and Archilochus as well.* (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.1.8–10 Long)
F8 (DK 22B72; W 64; M 4; K 5) They tend away from that with which they are in the most continuous contact.† (Marcus Aurelius, To Himself 4.46.5–6 Haines)
F9 (DK 22B18; KRS 210; W 19; M 11; K 7) If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it, since it is trackless and unexplored. (Clement, Miscellanies 22.214.171.124–5 Stählin/Früchtel)
F10 (DK 22B50; KRS 196; W 118; M 26; K 36) It is wise for those who listen not to me but to the principle to agree in principle that everything is one. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 126.96.36.199–4 Marcovich)
F11 (DK 22B108; W 7; M 83; K 27) I have heard a lot of people speak, but not one has reached the point of realizing that the wise is different from everything else. (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.1.174 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F12 (DK 22B114; KRS 250; W 81; M 23; K 30) Those who speak with intelligence must stand firm by that which is common to all,* as a state stands by the law, and even more firmly. For all human laws are in the keeping of the one divine law; for the one divine law has as much power as it wishes, is an unfailing defence for all laws, and prevails over all laws. (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.1.179 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F13 (DK 22B88; KRS 202; W 113; M 41; K 43) It makes no difference which is present: living and dead, sleeping and waking, young and old. For these changed around are those and those changed around are again these. (Ps.-Plutarch, Letter of Consolation to Apollonius 106e3–6 Babbit)
F14 (DK 22B60; KRS 200; W 108; M 33; K 103) Road: up and down, it’s still the same road.* (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 188.8.131.52 Marcovich)
F15 (DK 22B61; KRS 199; W 101; M 35; K 70) Sea: water most pure and most tainted, drinkable and wholesome for fish, but undrinkable and poisonous for people. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 184.108.40.206–4 Marcovich)
F16 (DK 22B110, 111; KRS 201; W 52, 99; M 44, 71; K 67) It is not better for men to get everything they want. Disease makes health pleasant and good, as hunger does being full, and weariness rest. (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.1.176, 177 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F17 (DK 22B9; W 102; M 37; K 71) Donkeys would prefer refuse to gold. (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 176a7 Bywater)
F18 (DK 22B13b; M 36; K 72a) Pigs prefer filth to clean water. (Clement, Miscellanies 220.127.116.11–4 Stählin/Früchtel)
F19 (DK 22B79; W 105; M 92; K 57) A man is thought as foolish by a supernatural being as a child is by a man. (Origen, Against Celsus 6.12.14–15 Koetschau)
F20 (DK 22B126; W 22; M 42; K 49) Cool things become warm, warm things cool down, moist things dry out, parched things become damp.† (John Tzetzes, Notes on Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 126.17–19 Hermann)
F21 (DK 22B51; KRS 209; W 117; M 27; K 78) They are ignorant of how while tending away it agrees with itself—a back-turning harmony, like a bow or a lyre. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 18.104.22.168–4 Marcovich)
F22 (DK 22B80; KRS 211; W 26; M 28; K 82) It is necessary to realize that war is common, and strife is justice, and that everything happens in accordance with strife and necessity.* (Origen, Against Celsus 6.42.21–3 Koetschau)
F23 (DK 22B53; KRS 212; W 25; M 29; K 83) War is father of all and king of all. Some he reveals as gods, others as men; some he makes slaves, others free. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9. 9. 4. 4–7 Marcovich)
F24 (DK 22B54; KRS 207; W 116; M 9; K 80) Harmony: non-apparent is better than apparent. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 22.214.171.124 Marcovich)
F25 (DK 22B123; KRS 208; W 17; M 8; K 10) The true nature of a thing tends to hide itself. (Themistius, Speeches 5.69b3 Dindorf)
F26 (DK 22B93; KRS 244; W 18; M 14; K 33) The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither speaks nor suppresses, but indicates. (Plutarch, On the Failure of the Oracles at Delphi These Days to Use Verse 404d12-e1 Babbit)
F27 (DK 22B107; KRS 198; W 13; M 13; K 16) Eyes and ears are bad witnesses for men if they have souls which cannot understand their language. (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 7.126.8–9 Bury)
F28 (DK 22B55; KRS 197; W 11; M 5; K 14) The things I rate highly are those which are accessible to sight, hearing, apprehension. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 126.96.36.199 Marcovich)
F29 (DK 22B7; W 58; M 78; K 112) If everything were smoke, the nostrils would tell things apart. (Aristotle, On the Senses 443a23–4 Bekker)
F30 (DK 22B101; KRS 246; W 8; M 15; K 28) I searched for myself.* (Plutarch, Against Colotes 1118c7 Einarson/de Lacy)
F31 (DK 22B116; W 9; M 23e; K 29) Everyone has the potential for self-knowledge and sound thinking. (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.5.6 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F32 (DK 22B67; KRS 204; W 121; M 77; K 123) God: day/night, winter/summer, war/peace, fullness/hunger.† He changes like fire† which, when mixed with spices, is named according to the savour of each. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 188.8.131.52–6 Marcovich)
F33 (DK 22B12; KRS 214; M 40; K 50) On those who step into the same rivers ever different waters are flowing. (Arius Didymus, fr. 39 Diels)
F34 (DK 22B91; W 31; M 40; K 51) ‘It is impossible to step twice into the same river,’ as Heraclitus says … ‘It scatters and regathers, comes together and dissolves, approaches and departs.’ (Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 392b10-c3 Babbit)
T3 (DK 22B49a; W 110; M 40) Heraclitus the obscure says, ‘We step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and are not.’* (Heraclitus Homericus, Homeric Questions 24.10–12 Oelmann)
T4 (DK 22A6; KRS 215) Heraclitus says somewhere that everything gives way and nothing is stable, and in likening things to the flowing of a river he says that one cannot step twice into the same river. (Plato, Cratylus 402a8–10 Duke et al.)
F35 (DK 22B21; W 16; M 49; K 89) Dying is all we see when asleep; sleep is all we see when awake.† (Clement, Miscellanies 184.108.40.206–4 Stählin/Früchtel)
F36 (DK 22B30; KRS 217; W 29; M 51; K 37) Order was not made by god or man.† It always was and is and shall be an ever-living fire, flaring up in regular measures and dying down in regular measures.* (Clement, Miscellanies 5.104.2 Stählin/Früchtel)
F37 (DK 22B31; KRS 218; W 32, 33; M 53; K 38, 39) The turning-points of fire: first sea, and of sea half is earth, half lightning.* Sea drains off† and is measured into the same principle as before it became earth. (Clement, Miscellanies 5.104.3 Stählin/Früchtel)
F38 (DK 22B90; KRS 219; W 28; M 54; K 40) Everything is a compensation for fire† and fire is a compensation for everything, as goods are for gold and gold for goods. (Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 388e1–4 Babbit)
F39 (DK 22B64; KRS 220; W 35; M 79; K 109) Thunderbolt steers everything. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 220.127.116.11–5 Marcovich)
F40 (DK 22B66; W 72; M 82; K 121) Fire on its approach will judge and condemn everything. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 18.104.22.168–3 Marcovich)
F41 (DK 22B16; W 73; M 81; K 122) How can anyone be overlooked by that which never sets? (Clement, The Pedagogue 22.214.171.124 Mondésert/Marrou)
T5 (DK 22A10) All thinkers agree that the world had a beginning, but some claim that, having come into existence, it is everlasting, while others claim that it is just as destructible as any other natural formation, and others (like Empedocles of Acragas and Heraclitus of Ephesus) that it alternates between sometimes being in the state we find it now and sometimes being in a different state—that is, in the process of being destroyed—and that this process continues nonstop. (Aristotle, On the Heavens 279b12–17 Allan)
T6 (DK 22A10) Nor can one of the elements—fire, for instance—be infinite: for there is the general consideration, quite apart from any of them being infinite, that it is impossible for the whole universe (even if it were finite) to be or to become just one of the elements—as Heraclitus says that at some time everything becomes fire. (Aristotle, Physics 204b35–205a4 Ross)
T7 (DK 22B 6; KRS 225; W 36; M 58; K 48a) The sun, according to Heraclitus, is new each day.* (Aristotle, On Celestial Phenomena 355a13–14 Bekker)
F42 (DK 22B3; W 37; M 57; K 47) The sun is as broad as a human foot. (Aëtius, Opinions 2.21.4 Diels)
F43 (DK 22B94; KRS 226; W 122; M 52; K 44) The sun will not overstep its measures, or else the Furies, the allies of Justice, will find it out.* (Plutarch, On Exile 604a10–12 de Lacy/Einarson)
T8 (DK 22A1; KRS 224; M 61) As it is condensed, fire becomes moist, and then as it is further compressed it becomes water, and as water solidifies it turns into earth; this is the ‘road downward’. Then again earth dissolves and gives rise to water, which is the source for everything else, since he attributes almost everything to the process of exhalation from the sea; this is the ‘road upward’. Exhalations take place from the earth as well as from the sea; some exhalations are bright and clean, while others are dark. Fire is fed by the bright ones, moisture by the others. He does not give a clear description of the periphery, but there are bowls in it, with their hollow side turned towards us. In these bowls the bright exhalations gather and produce flames, which are the heavenly bodies.* The brightest and hottest of these flames is that of the sun. The rest of the heavenly bodies are further away from the earth, and so are less bright and emit less heat. Closer to the earth is the moon, which travels through a region which is impure, but the sun moves† in a translucent and untainted region. The sun maintains a proportionate distance from us, which is why it gives us more heat and light. Solar and lunar eclipses occur when the bowls are turned upwards; the monthly phases of the moon occur as its bowl gradually turns in on it. Day and night, months, annually recurring seasons, and years, rain and wind and so on, all depend on the various exhalations. For instance, when the bright exhalation is ignited in the circle of the sun it causes daylight, but when the opposite kind of exhalation is dominant the result is night; and summer is the result of an increase in warmth arising from the brightness, winter of an increase in moisture arising from the darkness. He has nothing to say about the nature of the earth, nor about the bowls either. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.9–11 Long)
F44 (DK 22B36; KRS 229; W 49; M 66; K 102) Death for souls is the birth of water, death for water is the birth of earth, and earth is the source of water, and water is the source of soul. (Clement, Miscellanies 6.17.2 Stählin/Früchtel)
F45 (DK 22B117; KRS 231; W 48; M 69; K 106) When a man is drunk he is guided, stumbling and ignorant of his route, by an immature child, because he has a moist soul. (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.5.7 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F46 (DK 22B85; KRS 240; W 51; M 70; K 105) The reason it is hard to fight against passion is that it buys what it wants at the expense of the soul. (Plutarch, Life of Coriolanus 22.2.5–6 Perrin)
F47 (DK 22B118; KRS 230; W 46; M 68; K 109) A dry soul, a beam of light, is wisest and best.† (John of Stobi, Anthology 3.5.8 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F48 (DK 22B45; KRS 232; W 42; M 67; K 35) You will not be able to discover the limits of soul on your journey, even if you walk every path; so deep is the principle it contains.* (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.7.6–8 Long)
F49 (DK 22B26; KRS 233; W 65; M 48; K 90) During the night a man kindles a light for himself. Just as when dead-but-alive, with sight extinguished, he contacts death, so when asleep-but-awake, with sight extinguished, he contacts sleep.*† (Clement,Miscellanies4.141.2 Stählin/Früchtel)
T9 (DK 22A16; KRS 234; M 116) According to Heraclitus, we become intelligent by drawing in this divine reason, and although we become forgetful when asleep, we regain our intelligence as soon as we wake up. For since when we are asleep the sensory channels are closed, mind-in-us is separated from its natural union with what surrounds us (the only lifeline, so to speak, which is preserved being connection by means of respiration), and so, being separated, it loses the power of memory that it formerly possessed. But when we wake up, our mind again peeps out through the sensory channels, as if they were windows, makes contact with what surrounds us, and is endowed with the power of reason. Just as cinders which are brought close to a fire undergo an alteration and start to glow, but are extinguished when they are separated, so the fraction of what surrounds us which is in exile in our bodies becomes more or less irrational in a state of separation, but in a state of union, which is achieved through the numerous sensory channels, it is restored to a condition of similarity to the whole. (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 7.129–130 Bury)
T10 (DK 22B136; KRS 237; M 96) From Heraclitus: Souls slain in war are more pure than those which die through illness.* (Bodleian scholiast on Epictetus, Schenkl p. 71)
F50 (DK 22B29; KRS 251; w 85; M 95; K 97) The best choose one thing instead of everything, everlasting fame among mortals; but the masses stuff themselves like cattle. (Clement, Miscellanies 126.96.36.199–2 Stählin/Früchtel)
F51 (DK 22B25; KRS 235; W 70; M 97; K 96) The better the death, the better the portion.* (Clement, Miscellanies 4.49.3 Stählin/Früchtel)
F52 (DK 22B27; W 67; M 74; K 84) What awaits men after death cannot be anticipated or imagined. (Clement, Miscellanies 188.8.131.52–4 Stählin/Früchtel)
F53 (DK 22B44; KRS 249; W 82; M 103; K 65) The people must fight in defence of the law as they would for their city wall. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.2.2–3 Long)
F54 (DK 22B33; W 83; M 104; K 66) It is also law to follow the plan of the one. (Clement, Miscellanies 5.115.2 Stählin/Früchtel)
F55 (DK 22B49; W 84; M 98; K 63) One man is worth ten thousand, as far as I am concerned, if he is outstanding. (Theodorus Prodromus, Letters 1240a1–2 Migne)
F56 (DK 22B121; W 95; M 105; K 64) For banishing Hermodorus, who was the best man among them, the Ephesians deserve to be hanged, every last one of them, and to leave the city to boys. They said, ‘Let no single one of us be best, or else let him be so elsewhere, among others.’ (Strabo, Geography 14.25.3–6 Meineke)
F57 (DK 22B125a; 96; M 106) May your wealth never fail you, men of Ephesus, so that your baseness may be exposed! (John Tzetzes, Notes on Aristophanes’ ‘Wealth 90a, Positano et al. p. 31)
F58 (DK 22B43; KRS 248; W 88; M 102; K 104) It is more important to quench insolence than a conflagration. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 9.2.1–2 Long)
F59 (DK 22B11; W 41; M 80; K 76) It takes a blow to drive any animal to pasture. (Ps.-Aristotle, On the World 401a10–11 Bekker)
F60 (DK 22B119; KRS 247; W 69; M 94; K 114) Man’s character is his guardian spirit. (John of Stobi, Anthology 4.40.23 Wachsmuth/Hense)
F61 (DK 22B5; KRS 241; W 75, 78; M 86; K 117) They vainly† purify themselves with blood when they are defiled with it, which is like someone who has stepped into mud using mud to wash himself. Anyone who observed a person doing this would think him mad. And in their ignorance of the true nature of gods and heroes they pray to these statues, which is like someone chatting to a house.* (Theosophia Tubigensis 68 Erbse)
F62 (DK 22B14; KRS 242; W 76; M 87; K 115) They are initiated in an unholy manner into the mystery-rites followed by men. (Clement, Protrepticus 22.2.4–5 Montdésert)
F63 (DK 22B15; KRS 243; W 77; M 50; K 116) If the procession they perform, and the hymn they chant in honour of the phallus, were not undertaken for Dionysus, there would be nothing more disgraceful. But in fact Dionysus, for whom they rave and celebrate the Lenaea, is the same as Hades.* (Clement, Protrepticus 34.5.2–5 Montdésert)
F64 (DK 22B96; W 60; M 76; K 88) Corpses should be disposed of more readily than dung. (Strabo, Geography 16.26.26–7 Meineke)
T11 (DK 22B92; KRS 245; W 79; M 75; K 34) According to Heraclitus, the Sibyl, with raving mouth, utters things without humour, without adornment, without perfume, and yet, thanks to the god, she reaches down a thousand years with her voice.* (Plutarch, On the Failure of the Oracles at Delphi These Days to Use Verse 397a8–11 Babbit)
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—— ‘Heraclitus at the Crossroads of Presocratic Thought’, in , 256–69.
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M. Nussbaum, in Heraclitus’, Phronesis, 17 (1972), 1–16, 153–70.
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—— Heraclitus: Fragments (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987).
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