INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
HERACLITUS OF EPHESUS
(c. 535 BC-c. 475 BC)
Fragment 50, Hippolytus Ref. Ix, 9 1 I
Listening not to me but to the Logos it is wise to agree that all
things are one.
Fragment 1, Sextus, adv.math VII, 132
Of the Logos, which is as I describe it, men always prove to be
uncomprehending, both before they have heard it and when once they have
heard it. For although all things happen according to this Logos men are
like people of no experience, even when they experience such words and deeds
as I explain, when I distinguish each things according to its constitution
and declare how it is; but the rest of the men fail to notice what they do
after they wake up just as they forget what they do when asleep.
Fragment 2, Sextus, adv.math VII, 133
Therefore it is necessary to follow the common; but although the Logos is
common the many live as though they had a private understanding.
Everything rests by changing.
All things are in flux.
Time is a child playing checkers, the kingly power is a child's.
The hot substance and the cold form what we might call a hot-cold continuum,
a single entity.
Night and day, which Hesiod had made parent and child, are, and must always
have been, essentially connected and interdependent.
Fragment 10, Aristotle, de mundo 5, 396b20
Things taken together are wholes and not wholes, something is being brought
together and brought apart, which is in tune and out of tune; out of all
things there comes a unity, and out of a unity all things.
The bow is called strife, but its work is death.
In the circumference of a circle the beginning and the end common.
Fragment 54, Hippolytus Ref IX, 9,5
An unapparent harmony is stronger than an apparent one.
Fragment 208, Themistius Or. 5,p. 69 D.
Nature loves to hide.
Fragment 209, Hippolytus Ref Ix, 9, I
They do not apprehend how being at variance it agrees with itself: there is
a palintonos (counter-stretched) harmony, as in the bow and the lyre.
Fragment 18, Clement Strom. II, 17, 4
If one does not expect the unexpected one will not find it out, since it is
not to be searched out, and is difficult to compass.
Fragment 80, Origen c. Celsum VI 442
It is necessary to know that war is common and right, is strife and that all
things happens by strife and necessity.
Fragment 12,91 Arius Didymus ap. Eusebium P.E xv.
Fr12: Upon those that step into the same rivers different an different
Fr91: They scatter and ... gather ... come together and flow away ...
approach and depart.
Plato Cratylus 402a
Heraclitus somewhere says that all things are in process and nothing stays
still, and likening existing things to the stream of a river he says that
you would not step twice into the same river.
Fragment 30, Clement Strom. V, 104, 1.
This world [the same of all] did none of gods or men make, but it always was
and is and shall be: an everliving fire, kindling in measures and going out
Fragment 31, Clement Strom. V, 104, 3.
Fire's turning: first sea, and of sea the half is earth, the half 'burner'
... <earth> is dispersed as sea, and is measured so as to form the same
proportion as existed before it became earth.
Diogenes Laertius ix, 9-10
He does not reveal the nature of the surrounding; it contains, however,
bowls turned with their hollow side towards us, in which the bright
exhalations are collected and form flames, which are the heavenly bodies.
Brightest and hottest is the flame of the sun ... And sun and moon are
eclipsed when the bowls turn upwards; and the monthly phases of the moon
occur as is bowl is gradually turned.
One day is like any other.
Fragment 6, Aristotle Metro. B2, 355a13
The sun ... is new each day.
Fragment 94, Plutarch de exil. II, 604a
Sun will not overstep he's measures; otherwise the Erinyes, ministers of
Justice, will find him out.
Fragment 41, Diogenes Laertius ix, I
The wise is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgment, haw all things
are steered through all.
Most hard is to apprehend the unaparent measure of judgment, which alone
holds the limits of all things.
How can on hide from that which never sets?
Thales foretold an eclipse.
It is the opposite which is good to us.
Fragment 55, Hippolytus Ref. IX 9,5
The things of which there is seeing and hearing and perception, these do I
Fragment 107, Sextus, adv.math VII, 126
Evil witnesses are eyes and ears for men, if they have souls that do not
understand their language.
Fragment 61, Hippolytus Ref. IX, 10, 5.
Sea is the most pure and the most polluted water; for fishes it is drinkable
and salutary, but for men it is undrinkable and deleterious.
Fragment 60, Hippolytus Ref. IX, 10, 4
The path up and down is one and the same.
Fragment 111, Stobaeus, Anth. III, I, 177
Disease makes health pleasant and good, hunger satiety, weariness rest.
Fragment 88, ps-Plutarh Cons. Ad Apoll. 10, 106E
And as the same things there exists in us living and dead and the waking and
the sleeping and young and old; for these things having changed round are
those having changed round are these.
Pigs like mud <but men do not>
Donkeys prefer rubbish to gold <men gold to rubbish>
Dogs bark at every one they do not know.
Cutting and burning, which are normally bad, call for a fee when done by a
The act of writing combines straight, in the whole line, and crooked, in the
shape of each letter.
There would be not right without wrong.
Fragment 53,Hippolytus Ref. IX, 9, 4
War is the father of all and king of all, and some he shows as gods, others
as men; some he makes slaves, others free.
Fragment 90, Plutarch de E. 8, 388d
All thing are an equal exchange for fire and fire for all things, as goods
are for gold and gold for goods.
Sextus adv. Math. VII, 129
According to Heraclitus we become intelligent by drawing in this divine
reason [logos] through breathing, and forgetful when asleep, but we regain
our senses when we wake up again. For in sleep, when the channels of
perception are shut, our mind is sundered from its kinship with the
surrounding, and breathing is the only point of attachment to be preserved,
like a kind of root; being sundered, our mind casts off its former power of
memory. But in the waking state it again peeps out through the channels of
perception as though through a kind of window, and meeting with the
surrounding it puts on its power of reason...
Fragment 25, Clement Strom. IV, 49,3
For better deaths gain better portions according to Heraclitus.
Fragment 36, Hippolytus Ref. IX, 10,6
To him, being there, they rise up and become guardians, wakefully, of living
Fragment 62, Hippolytus Ref. Ix, 10,6
Mortal immortals, immortal mortals, living their death and dying their life.
Fragment 26, Clement. Strom. IV,141,2
A man in the night kindles a light for himself when his vision is
extinguished; living he is in contact with the dead, when asleep, and with
the sleeper, when awake.
Knowing not how to listen nor how to speak.
People that love wisdom must be acquainted with very many things indeed.
The straight and the crooked path of the fuller's comb is one and the same.
Every beast is driven to pasture with blows.
Fragment 67, Hippolytus Ref. IX, 10, 8
God is day night, winter summer, war peace, satiety hunger [all the
opposites, this is the meaning]; he undergoes alteration in the way that
fire when it is mixed with spices, is named according to the scent of each
Fragment 102, Porhyrius I Iliadem IV 4.
To God all things are beautiful and good and just, but men have supposed
some things to be unjust, other just.
Fragment 64, Clement Strom. V, 10, 6.
Thunderbolt steers all things.
Fragment 32, Clement Strom, V, 115, I
One thing, the only truly wise, does not and does consent to be called by
the name of Zeus.
Fragment 5, Aristocritus Theosophia 68
They vainly purify themselves of blood-guilty by defiling themselves with
blood, as though one who had stepped into mud were to wash with mud; he
would seem to be mad, if any of men noticed him doing this. Further, they
pray to these statues, as if one were to carry on a conversation with
houses, not recognizing the true nature of gods or demi-gods.
Fragment 14 , Clement Protreptius 22
The secret rites practiced among men are celebrated in an unholy manner.
Fragment 15, Clement Protreptius 34
For if it were not to Dionysus that they made the procession and sung the
hymn to the shameful parts, the deed would be most shameless; but Hades and
Dionysus, for whom they rave and celebrate Lenaen rites, are the same.
Fragment 93, Plutarch de Pyth. or. 21, 404E
The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither speaks out nor conceals, but
gives a sign.
Fragment 92, Plutarch de Pyth.or. 6, 397A
The Sibyl with raving mouth, according to Heraclitus, uttering things
mirthless, unadorned and unperformed, reaches over a thousand years with her
voice through the god.
Fragment 36, Clement Strom. VI, 17, 2
For souls it is death to became water, for water it is death to became
earth; from earth water comes-to-be, and from water, soul.
Fragment 118, Stobaeus. Anth. III,5,8
A dry soul is wisest and best.
Fragment 117, Stobaeus. Anth. III,5,7
A man when he is drunk is led by an unfledged boy, stumbling and not knowing
where he goes, having his soul moist.
It is pleasure to souls to become moist.
Fragment 45, Diogenes Laertius ix, 7
You could not find out the boundaries of soul, even by traveling along every
path: so deep a measure does it have.
Macrobius S. Scip. 14, 19 (DK 22A15)
Heraclitus said that the soul is a spark of the essential substance of the
Fragment 136, as Epictetum, p.1xxxiii Schenkl
Souls slain in war are purer than those [that perish] in diseases.
Fragment 85, Plutarch Coriol. 22
It is hard to fight with anger; for what it wants it buys as the price of
Souls using smell in Hades.
Fragment 67a, According to the scholiast on
Heraclitus compared the soul to a spider which rushed to any part of its web
which is damaged.
Fragment 101, Plutarch adv. Colotem 20, III8c
I searched out myself, [or I investigate myself].
Fragment 119, Stobaeus Anth. IV, 40, 23
Man's character is his daimon, [or Man's morality is his daimon].
(comm.:The etymology of the word daimon is the daemon,
the one with an attendant power of spirit.(See Socrates' daemon).
Today's meaning of this word is the evil spirit: devil. We must see the
difference between those two ways of thought an explain these fragment.
Fragment 43, Diogenes Laertius IX,2
Insolence is more to be extinguished than a conflagration.
Fragment 44, Diogenes Laertius IX,2
The people must fight on behalf of the law as though for the city wall.
Fragment 114, Stabaeus Anth. III, I, 179.
Those who speak with sense must rely on what is common to all, as a city
must rely on its law, and with much greater reliance. For all the laws of
men are nourished by one law, the divine law; for it has as much power as it
wishes and is sufficient for all and still left over.
Fragment 29, Clement Strom. V. 59, 5
Those The best choose one thing in place of all else, 'everlasting' glory
among mortals; but the majority are glutted like cattle.
One man is as ten thousand for me, if he is best.
... abused the Ephesians for exiling his friend Hermodorus on the ground of
his exceptional ability.
1. G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven, M. Schofield. The
Presocratic Philosophers, A Critical History with a Selection of Texts,
second edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
2. James Fieser. Text file adapted from passages in John's Burnet's Early
Greek Philosophy (1892).
Texts and translation
Attention to translation
University of Tennessee at Martin
Copyright (c) 1997