Death, Sleep, and Our Bodies’ Recyclable Clay

Plutarch, Moralia. A Letter of Condolence to Apollonius, 106e-f

“For when is death not present among us? Truly, as Heraclitus says, “living and dying is the same and so is being awake and asleep or youth and old age. For each turns back into the other again.”

Just as someone can make shapes of living things from the same clay and then collapse them and shape something new again repeatedly, so too did nature shape our ancestors from the same material, collapse it, and reshape it to make our parents and us in turn”

πότε γὰρ ἐν ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ θάνατος; καί, ᾗ φησιν Ἡράκλειτος, “ταὐτό γ᾿ ἔνι ζῶν καὶ τεθνηκὸς καὶ τὸ ἐγρηγορὸς καὶ τὸ καθεῦδον καὶ νέον καὶ γηραιόν· τάδε γὰρ μεταπεσόντα ἐκεῖνά ἐστι, κἀκεῖνα πάλιν μεταπεσόντα ταῦτα.” ὡς γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ πηλοῦ δύναταί τις πλάττων ζῷα συγχεῖν καὶ πάλιν πλάττειν καὶ συγχεῖν καὶ τοῦθ᾿ ἓν παρ᾿ ἓν ποιεῖν ἀδιαλείπτως, οὕτω καὶ ἡ φύσις ἐκ τῆς αὐτῆς ὕλης πάλαι μὲν τοὺς προγόνους ἡμῶν ἀνέσχεν, εἶτα συνεχεῖς αὐτοῖς3 ἐγέννησε τοὺς πατέρας, εἶθ᾿ ἡμᾶς,

black and white photo of an artist sitting in a studio looking at a sculpture. The woman is sitting on a stool looking at a small figurine on a high table in front of home

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