Fire Increases Life: Plutarch, Against Water

Plutarch, On Whether Fire or Water is Better, 958

“Since we have come to this point in the argument: what is more profitable to life than art? Fire exposed every art and preserves them. This is the reason poets have made Hephaistos the first craftsman. Since humans have been given only a little bit of life and—as Ariston puts it—sleep claims half of life like a tax-collector, I would say that darkness is important: even if it were possible to stay awake through the night, this vigil would be useless if fire did not provide the advantages of day to us and strip away the difference between day and night. If there is nothing more important to people than life and fire increases life considerably, how could fire not be the most beneficial thing of all?”

Ἐπεὶ δὲ κατὰ τοῦτο τοῦ λόγου γεγόναμεν, τί τέχνης τῷ βίῳ λυσιτελέστερον; τέχνας δὲ πάσας καὶ ἀνεῦρε τὸ πῦρ καὶ σῴζει· διὸ καὶ τὸν Ἥφαιστον ἀρχηγὸν αὐτῶν ποιοῦσι. καὶ μὴν ὀλίγου χρόνου καὶ βίου τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δεδομένου, ὁ μὲν Ἀρίστων φησὶν ὅτι ὁ ὕπνος οἷον τελώνης τὸ ἥμισυ ἀφαιρεῖ τούτου· ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἂν εἴποιμ᾿ ὅτι σκότος· ἐγρηγορέναι ἂν εἴη διὰ νυκτός, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ἦν ὄφελος τῆς ἐγρηγόρσεως, εἰ μὴ τὸ πῦρ τὰ τῆς ἡμέρας ἡμῖν παρεῖχεν ἀγαθά, καὶ τὴν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς ἐξῄρει διαφοράν. εἰ τοίνυν τοῦ ζῆν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις λυσιτελέστερον καὶ τοῦτο πολλαπλασιάζει τὸ πῦρ, πῶς οὐκ ἂν εἴη πάντων ὠφελιμώτατον;

Image result for Ancient Greek fire

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