Heraclitus – Fragments

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1. It is wise for those who hear, not me, but the universal Reason, to confess that all things are one

2. To this universal Reason which I unfold, although it always exists, men make themselves insensible, both before they have heard it and when they have heard it for the first time. For notwithstanding that all things happen according to this Reason, men act as though they had never had any experience in regard to it when they attempt such words and works as I am now relating, describing each thing according to its nature and explaining how it is ordered. And some men are as ignorant of what they do when awake as they are forgetful of what they do when asleep

3. Those who hear and do not understand are like the deaf. Of them the proverb says: "Present, they are absent."

4. Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having rude souls

5. The majority of people have no understanding of the things with which they daily meet, nor, when instructed, do they have any right knowledge of them, although to themselves they seem to have

6. They understand neither how to hear nor how to speak

7. If you do not hope, you will not win that which is not hoped for, since it is unattainable and inaccessible

8. Gold-seekers dig over much earth and find little gold

9. Debate

10. Nature loves to conceal herself

11. The God whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks plainly nor conceals, but indicates by signs

12. But the Sibyl with raging mouth uttering things solemn, rude and unadorned, reaches with her voice over a thousand years, because of the God

13. Whatever concerns seeing, hearing, and learning, I particularly honor

14. Especially at the present time, when all places are accessible either by land or by water, we should not accept poets and mythologists as witnesses of things that are unknown, since for the most part they furnish us with unreliable testimony about disputed things, according to Heraclitus

15. The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears

16. Much learning does not teach one to have understanding, else it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, and again Xenophanes and Hecataeus

17. Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, practised investigation most of all men, and having chosen out these treatises, he made a wisdom of his own--much learning and bad art

18. Of all whose words I have heard, no one attains to this, to know that wisdom is apart from all

19. There is one wisdom, to understand the intelligent will by which all things are governed through all

20. This world, the same for all, neither any of the gods nor any man has made, but it always was, and is, and shall be, an ever living fire, kindled in due measure, and in due measure extinguished

21. The transmutations of fire are, first, the sea; and of the sea, half is earth, and half the lightning flash

22. All things are exchanged for fire and fire for all things, just as wares for gold and gold for wares

23. The sea is poured out and measured to the same proportion as existed before it became earth

24. Craving and Satiety

25. Fire lives in the death of earth, air lives in the death of fire, water lives in the death of air, and earth in the death of water

26. Fire coming upon all things, will sift and seize them

27. How can one escape that which never sets?

28. Lightning rules all

29. The sun will not overstep his bounds, for if he does, the Erinyes, helpers of justice, will find him out

30. The limits of the evening and morning are the Bear, and opposite the Bear, the bounds of bright Zeus

31. If there were no sun, it would be night

32. The sun is new every day

33. He (scil. Thales) seems, according to some, to have been the first to study astronomy and to foretell the eclipses and motions of the sun, as Eudemus relates in his account of astronomical works. And for this reason he is honored by Xenophanes and Herodotus, and both Heraclitus and Democritus bear witness to him

34. Thus Time, having a necessary union and connection with heaven, is not simple motion, but, so to speak, motion in an order, having measured limits and periods. Of which the sun, being overseer and guardian to limit, direct, appoint and proclaim the changes and seasons which, according to Heraclitus, produce all things, is the helper of the leader and first God, not in small or trivial things, but in the greatest and most important

35. Hesiod is a teacher of the masses. They suppose him to have possessed the greatest knowledge, who indeed did not know day and night. For they are one

36. God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, plenty and want. But he is changed, just as when incense is mingled with incense, but named according to the pleasure of each

37. Some think that odor consists in smoky exhalation, common to earth and air, and that for smell all things are converted into this. And it was for this reason that Heraclitus thus said that if all existing things should become smoke, perception would be by the nostrils

38. Souls smell in Hades

39. Cold becomes warm, and warm, cold; wet becomes dry, and dry, wet

40. It disperses and gathers, it comes and goes

41. Into the same river you could not step twice, for other waters are flowing

42. To those entering the same river, other and still other waters flow

43. And Heraclitus blamed the poet who said, "Would that strife were destroyed from among gods and men." For there could be no harmony without sharps and flats, nor living beings without male and female which are contraries

44. War is the father and king of all, and has produced some as gods and some as men, and has made some slaves and some free

45. They do not understand: how that which separates unites with itself. It is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and of the lyre

46. In reference to these things, some seek for deeper principles and more in accordance with nature. Euripides says, "The parched earth loves the rain, and the high heaven, with moisture laden, loves earthward to fall." And Heraclitus says, "The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony, and all things take place by strife."

47. The hidden harmony is better than the visible

48. Let us not draw conclusions rashly about the greatest things

49. Philosophers must be learned in very many things

50. The straight and crooked way of the woolcarders is one and the same

51. Asses would choose stubble rather than gold

52. Sea water is very pure and very foul, for, while to fishes it is drinkable and healthful, to men it is hurtful and unfit to drink

53. Columella, de Re Rustica viii. 4. Dry dust and ashes must be placed near the wall where the roof or eaves shelter the court, in order that there may be a place where the birds may sprinkle themselves, for with these things they improve their wings and feathers, if we may believe Heraclitus, the Ephesian, who says, "Hogs wash themselves in mud and doves in dust."

54. They revel in dirt

55. Every animal is driven by blows

56. The harmony of the world is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and of the lyre

57. Good and evil are the same

58. Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 10. And good and evil (scil. are one). The physicians, therefore, says Heraclitus, cutting, cauterizing, and in every way torturing the sick, complain that the patients do not pay them fitting reward for thus effecting these benefits-- †and sufferings†

59. Unite whole and part, agreement and disagreement, accordant and discordant; from all comes one, and from one all

60. They would not know the name of justice, were it not for these things

61. They say that it is unfitting that the sight of wars should please the gods. But it is not so. For noble works delight them, and while wars and battles seem to us terrible, to God they do not seem so. For God in his dispensation of all events, perfects them into a harmony of the whole, just as, indeed, Heraclitus says that to God all things are beautiful and good and right, though men suppose that some are right and others wrong

62. We must know that war is universal and strife right, and that by strife all things arise and † are used †

63. For it is wholly destined ...

64. Death is what we see waking. What we see in sleep is a dream

65. There is only one supreme Wisdom. It wills and wills not to be called by the name of Zeus

66. The name of the bow is life, but its work is death

67. Immortals are mortal, mortals immortal, living in their death and dying in their life

68. To souls it is death to become water, and to water it is death to become earth, but from earth comes water, and from water, soul

69. The way upward and downward are one and the same

70. The beginning and end are common

71. The limits of the soul you would not find out, though you should traverse every way

72. To souls it is joy to become wet

73. A man when he is drunken is led by a beardless youth, stumbling, ignorant where he is going, having a wet soul

74. The dry soul is the wisest and best

75. †The dry beam is the wisest and best soul.†

76. †Where the land is dry, the soul is wisest and best.†

77. Man, as a light at night, is lighted and extinguished

78. For when is death not present with us? As indeed Heraclitus says: Living and dead, awake and asleep, young and old, are the same. For these several states are transmutations of each other

79. Time is a child playing at draughts, a child's kingdom

80. I have inquired of myself

81. Into the same river we both step and do not step. We both are and are not

82. It is weariness upon the same things to labor and by them to be controlled

83. In change is rest

84. A mixture separates when not kept in motion

85. Corpses are more worthless than excrement

86. Being born, they will only to live and die, or rather to find rest, and they leave children who likewise are to die

87. Those who adopt the reading hêbôntos reckon a generation at thirty years, according to Heraclitus, in which time a father may have a son who is himself at the age of puberty

88. Thirty is the most natural number, for it bears the same relation to tens as three to units. Then again it is the monthly cycle, and is composed of the four numbers 1, 4, 9,16, which are the squares of the units in order. Not without reason, therefore, does Heraclitus call the month a generation

89. In thirty years a man may become a grandfather

90. We all work together to one end, some consciously and with purpose, others unconsciously. Just as indeed Heraclitus, I think, says that the sleeping are co-workers and fabricators of the things that happen in the world

91. The Law of Understanding is common to all. Those who speak with intelligence must hold fast to that which is common to all, even more strongly than a city holds fast to its law. For all human laws are dependent upon one divine Law, for this rules as far as it wills, and suffices for all, and overabounds

92. Although the Law of Reason is common, the majority of people live as though they had an understanding of their own

93. They are at variance with that with which they are in most continual association

94. We ought not to act and speak as though we were asleep

95. To those who are awake, there is one world in common, but of those who are asleep, each is withdrawn to a private world of his own

96. For human nature does not possess understanding, but the divine does

97. The thoughtless man understands the voice of the Deity as little as the child understands the man

98. And does not Heraclitus, whom you bring forward, say the same, that the wisest of men compared with God appears an ape in wisdom and in beauty and in all other things?

99. You are ignorant, my man, that there is a good saying of Heraclitus, to the effect that the most beautiful of apes is ugly when compared with another kind, and the most beautiful of earthen pots is ugly when compared with maidenkind, as says Hippias the wise

100. The people must fight for their law as for their walls

101. Greater fates gain greater rewards

102. Gods and men honor those slain in war

103. Presumption must be quenched even more than a fire

104. For men to have whatever they wish, would not be well. Sickness makes health pleasant and good; hunger, satiety; weariness, rest

105. It is hard to contend against passion, for whatever it craves it buys with its life

106. †It pertains to all men to know themselves and to learn self-control.†

107. †Self-control is the highest virtue, and wisdom is to speak truth and consciously to act according to nature.†

108. It is better to conceal ignorance, but it is hard to do so in relaxation and over wine

109. † It is better to conceal ignorance than to expose it. †

110. It is law, also, to obey the will of one

111. For what sense or understanding have they? They follow minstrels and take the multitude for a teacher, not knowing that many are bad and few good. For the best men choose one thing above all--immortal glory among mortals; but the masses stuff themselves like cattle

112. In Priene there lived Bias, son of Teutamus, whose word was worth more than that of others

113. To me, one is ten thousand if he be the best

114. The Ephesians deserve, man for man, to be hung, and the youth to leave the city, inasmuch as they have banished Hermodorus, the worthiest man among them, saying: "Let no one of us excel, and if there be any such, let him go elsewhere and among other people."

115. Dogs, also, bark at what they do not know

116. By its incredibility, it escapes their knowledge

117. A stupid man loves to be puzzled by every discourse

118. The most approved of those who are of repute knows how to cheat. Nevertheless, justice will catch the makers and witnesses of lies

119. And he (Heraclitus) used to say that Homer deserved to be driven out of the lists and flogged, and Archilochus likewise

120. One day is like all

121. A man's character is his daemon

122. There awaits men after death what they neither hope nor think

123. And those that are there shall arise and become guardians of the living and the dead

124. Night-roamers, Magians, bacchanals, revelers in wine, the initiated

125. For the things which are considered mysteries among men, they celebrate sacrilegiously

126. And to these images they pray, as if one should prattle with the houses knowing nothing of gods or heroes, who they are

127. For were it not Dionysus to whom they institute a procession and sing songs in honor of the pudenda, it would be the most shameful action. But Dionysus, in whose honor they rave in bacchic frenzy, and Hades are the same

128. I distinguish two kinds of sacrifices. First, those of men wholly purified, such as would rarely happen in the case of a single individual, as Heraclitus says, or of a certain very few men. Second, material and corporeal sacrifices and those arising from change, such as are fit for those still fettered by the body

129. Atonements

130. When defiled, they purify themselves with blood, just as if any one who had fallen into the mud should wash himself with mud!

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