Heraclitus of ephesus

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The G.W.T. Patrick translation

From: The Fragments of the Work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature, translated from the Greek text of Bywater by G.T.W. Patrick, Baltimore: N. Murray, 1889. This was originally Patrick's doctoral thesis at Johns Hopkins University, 1888. A note states that this 1889 edition was reprinted from the American Journal of Psychology, 1888.


Οὐκ ἐμεῦ ἀλλὰ τοῦ λόγου ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογέειν σοφόν ἐστι, ἓν πάντα εἶναι.

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

SOURCES--Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 9. Context:--Heraclitus says that all things are one, divided undivided, created uncreated, mortal immortal, reason eternity, father son, God justice. "It is wise for those who hear, not me, but the universal Reason, to confess that all things are one." And since all do not comprehend this or acknowledge it, he reproves them somewhat as follows: "They do not understand how that which separates unites with itself; it is a harmony of oppositions like that of the bow and of the lyre" (=frag. 45).

Compare Philo, Leg. alleg. iii. 3, p. 88. Context, see frag: 24.


Τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦδ' ἐόντος αἰεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίγνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον. γινομένων γὰρ πάντων κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ἀπείροισι ἐοίκασι πειρώμενοι καὶ ἐπέων καὶ ἔργων τοιουτέων ὁκοίων ἐγὼ διηγεῦμαι, διαιρέων ἕκαστον κατὰ φύσιν καὶ φράζων ὅκως ἔχει. τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους λανθάνει ὁκόσα ἐγερθέντες ποιέουσι, ὅκωσπερ ὁκόσα εὕδοντες ἐπιλανθάνονται.

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.

SOURCES--Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 9. Context:--And that Reason always exists, being all and permeating all, he (Heraclitus) says in this manner: "To this universal," etc.

Aristotle, Rhet. iii. 5, p. 1407,b. 14. Context:--For it is very hard to punctuate Heraclitus' writings on account of its not being clear whether the words refer to those which precede or to those which follow. For instance, in the beginning of his work, where he says, "To Reason existing always men make themselves insensible." For here it is ambiguous to what "always" refers.

Sextus Empir. adv. Math. vii. 132.--Clement of Alex. Stromata, v. 14, p. 716.--Amelius from Euseb. Praep. Evang. xi. 19, p. 540.-- Compare Philo, Quis. rer. div. haer. 43, p. 505.--Compare Ioannes Sicel. in Walz. Rhett. Gr. vi. p. 95.


Ἀξύνετοι ἀκούσαντες κωφοῖσι ἐοίκασι· φάτις αὐτοῖσι μαρτυρέει παρεόντας ἀπεῖναι.

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

SOURCES--Clement of Alex. Strom. v. 14, p. 718. Context:--And if you wish to trace out that saying, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," you will find it expressed by the Ephesian in this manner," Those who hear," etc.

Theodoretus, Therap. i. p. 13, 49.


Κακοὶ μάρτυρες ἀνθρώποισι ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ὦτα, βαρβάρους ψυχὰς ἐχόντων.

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

SOURCES--Sextus Emp. adv. Math. vii. 126. Context:--He (Heraclitus) casts discredit upon sense perception in the saying, "Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having rude souls." Which is equivalent to saying that it is the part of rude souls to trust to the irrational senses.

Stobaeus Floril. iv. 56.

Compare Diogenes Laert. ix. 7.


Οὐ φρονέουσι τοιαῦτα πολλοὶ ὁκόσοισι ἐγκυρέουσι οὐδὲ μαθόντες γινώσκουσι, ἑωυτοῖσι δὲ δοκέουσι.

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.

SOURCES--Clement of Alex. Strom. ii. 2, p. 432.

M. Antoninus iv. 46. Context:--Be ever mindful of the Heraclitic saying that the death of earth is to become water, and the death of water is to become air, and of air, fire (see frag. 25). And remember also him who is forgetful whither the way leads (comp. frag. 73); and that men quarrel with that with which they are in most continual association (=frag. 93), namely, the Reason which governs all. And those things with which they meet daily seem to them strange; and that we ought not to act and speak as though we were asleep (= frag. 94), for even then we seem to act and speak.


Ἀκοῦσαι οὐκ ἐπιστάμενοι οὐδ' εἰπεῖν.

They understand neither how to hear nor how to speak.

SOURCES--Clement of Alex. Strom. ii. 5, p. 442. Context:--Heraclitus, scolding some as unbelievers, says: "They understand neither how to hear nor to speak," prompted, I suppose, by Solomon, "If thou lovest to hear, thou shalt understand; and if thou inclinest thine ear, thou shalt be wise."


Ἐὰν μὴ ἔλπηαι, ἀνέλπιστον οὐκ ἐξευρήσει, ἀνεξερεύνητον ἐὸν καὶ ἄπορον.

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

SOURCES--Clement of Alex. Strom. ii. 4, p. 437. Context:--Therefore, that which was spoken by the prophet is shown to be wholly true, "Unless ye believe, neither shall ye understand." Paraphrasing this saying, Heraclitus of Ephesus said, "If you do not hope," etc.

Theodoretus, Therap. i. p. 15, 51.


Χρυσὸν οἱ διζήμενοι γῆν πολλὴν ὀρύσσουσι καὶ εὑρίσκουσι ὀλίγον.

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

SOURCES--Clement of Alex. Strom. iv. 2, p. 565.

Theodoretus, Therap. i. p. 15, 52.

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