Two Fragments on Thoughts and Men

Phocylides, Fr. 11

“Many men seem to be of sound mind simply because they walk
Around normally, even though they are really empty-headed”

Πολλοί τοι δοκέουσι σαόφρονες ἔμμεναι ἄνδρες
σὺν κόσμωι στείχοντες, ἐλαφρόν<ο>οί περ ἐόντες.

Diogenes Laertius, 9.20

“Xenophanes said that most things fall short of thought. He also said that we should engage with tyrants as little or as sweetly as possible.”

῎Εφη δὲ καὶ τὰ πολλὰ ἥσσω νοῦ εἶναι. καὶ τοῖς τυράννοις ἐντυγχάνειν ἢ ὡς ἥκιστα ἢ ὡς ἥδιστα.

 

Dog-Food and Autodidacticism: A Philosopher’s Death Scene

Diogenes Laertius on the Death and Early Childhood of Heraclitus 9.4-5

“Hermippos reports that he asked the doctors if anyone could dry his condition by emptying out his intestines. When they said they could not, he went out in the sun and ordered his servants to cover him with cow dung. He died the next day, stretched out in this way, and was buried in the market. Neanthes from Cyzicos claims that when he was incapable of peeling off the dung he stayed in place and, because he was unrecognizable in this shape, became dog-food.

Heraclitus was a wonder from a young age. As a youth he used to claim that he knew nothing, but when he was older he claimed he knew everything. He was the student of no one but used to claim “I inquired and learned everything from myself.”

heraclitus

῞Ερμιππος δέ φησι (FHG iii. 42) λέγειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἰατροῖς εἴ τις δύναται ἔντερα κεινώσας ὑγρὸν ἐξερᾶσαι· ἀπειπόντων δέ, θεῖναι αὑτὸν εἰς τὸν ἥλιον καὶ κελεύειν τοὺς παῖδας βολίτοις καταπλάττειν· οὕτω δὴ κατατεινόμενον δευτεραῖον τελευτῆσαι  καὶ θαφθῆναι ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ. Νεάνθης δ’ ὁ Κυζικηνός φησι (FGrH

84 F 25) μὴ δυνηθέντα αὐτὸν ἀποσπάσαι τὰ βόλιτα μεῖναι καὶ διὰ τὴν μεταβολὴν ἀγνοηθέντα κυνόβρωτον γενέσθαι.

Γέγονε δὲ θαυμάσιος ἐκ παίδων, ὅτε καὶ νέος ὢν ἔφασκε μηδὲν εἰδέναι, τέλειος μέντοι γενόμενος πάντα ἐγνωκέναι· ἤκουσέ τ’ οὐδενός, ἀλλ’ αὑτὸν ἔφη (DK 22 B 101) διζήσασθαι καὶ μαθεῖν πάντα παρ’ ἑαυτοῦ.

Intellectual Intolerance In an Ancient Democracy

Protagoras, from Diogenes Laertius, 9.51

“[Protagoras] was also the first to say that there are two arguments in opposition to each other concerning every matter. He argued with these and was the first to do this. He also began his work in this way: “A person is the measure of all things, that they are what they are and that they are not what they are not.”

And he used to say that the soul was nothing besides the senses, as Plato claims in the Theaetetus and that everything is true. Elsewhere, he began in this way: “Concerning the gods, I am not able to know that they exist or that they don’t exist. For many things impede knowledge—including both a lack of clarity and the brevity of human life.” Protagoras was expelled by the Athenians because of this introduction. They then burned his books in the marketplace once they had sent a herald around to collect them from those who owned them.”

protagoras-2

Καὶ πρῶτος ἔφη (DK 80 B 6a) δύο λόγους εἶναι περὶ παντὸς πράγματος ἀντικειμένους ἀλλήλοις· οἷς καὶ συνηρώτα, πρῶτος τοῦτο πράξας. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἤρξατό που τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον (DK 80 B 1)· “πάντων χρημάτων μέτρον ἄνθρωπος, τῶν μὲν ὄντων ὡς ἔστιν, τῶν δὲ οὐκ ὄντων ὡς οὐκ ἔστιν.” ἔλεγέ τε μηδὲν εἶναι ψυχὴν παρὰ τὰς αἰσθήσεις, καθὰ καὶ Πλάτων φησὶν ἐν Θεαιτήτῳ, καὶ πάντα εἶναι ἀληθῆ. καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ δὲ τοῦτον ἤρξατο τὸν τρόπον (DK 80 B 4)· “περὶ μὲν θεῶν οὐκ ἔχω

εἰδέναι οὔθ’ ὡς εἰσίν, οὔθ’ ὡς οὐκ εἰσίν· πολλὰ γὰρ τὰ κωλύοντα εἰδέναι, ἥ τ’ ἀδηλότης καὶ βραχὺς ὢν ὁ βίος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.” διὰ  ταύτην δὲ τὴν ἀρχὴν τοῦ συγγράμματος ἐξεβλήθη πρὸς ᾿Αθηναίων· καὶ τὰ βιβλία αὐτοῦ κατέκαυσαν ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ, ὑπὸ κήρυκι ἀναλεξάμενοι παρ’ ἑκάστου τῶν κεκτημένων.

“Stories Shape the Mind”: Heraclitus, Hesiod and Plato

Heraclitus, Fr. B57
“Hesiod is the teacher of the most; they believe that he knows the most, the one who cannot distinguish day and night. For they are one.”

διδάσκαλος δὲ πλείστων ῾Ησίοδος· τοῦτον ἐπίστανται πλεῖστα εἰδέναι, ὅστις ἡμέρην καὶ εὐφρόνην οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν· ἔστι γὰρ ἕν.

Cf. fr. 40

“Knowing much doesn’t teach you how to think. For it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, or even Xenophanes and Hekataios.”

πολυμαθίη νόον ἔχειν οὐ διδάσκει· ῾Ησίοδον γὰρ ἂν ἐδίδαξε καὶ Πυθαγόρην αὖτίς τε Ξενοφάνεά τε καὶ ῾Εκαταῖον.

Fr. 109

“Concerning unlucky days, and whether it is right that Heraclitus attacked Hesiod for making some days good and some days bad, since he was ignorant that the nature of every day is one and the same, that is discussed elsewhere.”

[Cf. Seneca, “one day is the same as every other”]

PLUT. Camill. 19 περὶ δ’ ἡμερῶν ἀποφράδων εἴτε χρὴ τίθεσθαί τινας εἴτε ὀρθῶς ῾Ηράκλειτος ἐπέπληξεν ῾Ησιόδωι τὰς μὲν ἀγαθὰς ποιουμένωι, τὰς δὲ φαύλας [Opp. 765ff.], ὡς ἀγνοοῦντι φύσιν ἡμέρας ἁπάσης μίαν οὖσαν, ἑτέρωθι διηπόρηται [vgl. B 40. 57]. SENECA Ep. 12, 7 unus dies par omni est.

hesiod

Plato, Republic, 377c

“We must begin, it seems, by selecting among the storytellers—they must be judged by what they do well or not. We will authorize those who make the cut for nurses and mothers to tell to children since these stories shape their minds more than they can shape their bodies with their hands. But we must reject most of the stories we tell now,

What kinds of stories?

In the greater stories, we will also find [the nature of] the worse ones. For it is necessary that the greater and the lesser stories have the same shape and do the same thing, don’t you think?

I do. But I don’t know what these greater stories you mention are.

I mean those stories which Hesiod and Homer tell to us along with the other poets. For these poets used to tell and continue to tell people stories made up of lies.

What sort of stories are you criticizing in saying this?

The very thing which ought to be censured first and foremost: apart from everything else, when a lie is told improperly.”

Πρῶτον δὴ ἡμῖν, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐπιστατητέον τοῖς μυθοποιοῖς, καὶ ὃν μὲν ἂν καλὸν [μῦθον] ποιήσωσιν, ἐγκριτέον, ὃν δ’ ἂν μή, ἀποκριτέον. τοὺς δ’ ἐγκριθέντας πείσομεν τὰς τροφούς τε καὶ μητέρας λέγειν τοῖς παισίν, καὶ πλάττειν τὰς ψυχὰς αὐτῶν τοῖς μύθοις πολὺ μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ σώματα ταῖς χερσίν· ὧν δὲ νῦν λέγουσι τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐκβλητέον.
Ποίους δή; ἔφη.
᾿Εν τοῖς μείζοσιν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, μύθοις ὀψόμεθα καὶ τοὺς ἐλάττους. δεῖ γὰρ δὴ τὸν αὐτὸν τύπον εἶναι καὶ ταὐτὸν δύνασθαι τούς τε μείζους καὶ τοὺς ἐλάττους. ἢ οὐκ οἴει;
῎Εγωγ’, ἔφη· ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐννοῶ οὐδὲ τοὺς μείζους τίνας λέγεις.
Οὓς ῾Ησίοδός τε, εἶπον, καὶ ῞Ομηρος ἡμῖν ἐλεγέτην καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι ποιηταί. οὗτοι γάρ που μύθους τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ψευδεῖς συντιθέντες ἔλεγόν τε καὶ λέγουσι.
Ποίους δή, ἦ δ’ ὅς, καὶ τί αὐτῶν μεμφόμενος λέγεις;
῞Οπερ, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, χρὴ καὶ πρῶτον καὶ μάλιστα μέμφεσθαι, ἄλλως τε καὶ ἐάν τις μὴ καλῶς ψεύδηται.

Water, Air, Fire and Earth: First Principles on a Sunday Morning

WATER

Thales, fr. 20
“Water is the beginning and the end of everything.”

[οὕτος ἔφη] ἀρχὴν τοῦ παντὸς εἶναι καὶ τέλος τὸ ὕδωρ

 

AIR

Diogenes of Apollonia (D. L. 9.57)

“Diogenes believed these things: that the first principle is air, there are endless universes and empty space.”

᾿Εδόκει δὲ αὐτῷ τάδε· στοιχεῖον εἶναι τὸν ἀέρα, κόσμους ἀπείρους καὶ κενὸν ἄπειρον·

 

Anaximenes, Diog. 2.3

“He said that the first principle was the air and the boundless. And that the stars did not move under the earth, but around it.”

οὗτος ἀρχὴν ἀέρα εἶπεν καὶ τὸ ἄπειρον. κινεῖσθαι δὲ τὰ ἄστρα οὐχ ὑπὸ γῆν, ἀλλὰ περὶ γῆν.

 

Anaximander, Test. 10.3

“the boundless contains the origin of all creation and destruction.”

… τὸ ἄπειρον φάναι τὴν πᾶσαν αἰτίαν ἔχειν τῆς τοῦ παντὸς γενέσεώς τε καὶ φθορᾶς

 

 

FIRE

Heraclitus, fr. 30

“This world, which no god or man ever made, the same world to all, it always was, is and will be an ever-living fire with some measures kindled and others going out.”

κόσμον τόνδε, τὸν αὐτὸν ἁπάντων, οὔτε τις θεῶν οὐτε ἀνθρώπων ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ’ ἦν ἀεὶ καὶ ἔστιν καὶ ἔσται πῦρ ἀείζωον, ἁπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα

Heraclitus, fr. 76

“Fire creates the death of earth; air creates the death of fire; water creates the death of air; earth the death of water.”

ζῆι πῦρ τὸν γῆς θάνατον καὶ ἀὴρ ζῆι τὸν πυρὸς θάνατον, ὕδωρ ζῆι τὸν ἀέρος
θάνατον, γῆ τὸν ὕδατος.

 

EARTH

Parmenides (Diogenes 9.21-23)

“He declared first that the world was spherical and in the center [of everything]. And he said there were two principle elements, fire and earth, and that the first acted like a craftsman and the second like material.”

πρῶτος δὲ οὗτος τὴν γῆν ἀπέφαινε σφαιροειδῆ καὶ ἐν μέσωι κεῖσθαι. δύο τε εἶναι στοιχεῖα, πῦρ καὶ γῆν, καὶ τὸ μὲν δημιουργοῦ τάξιν ἔχειν, τὴν δὲ ὕλης. (22)

 

Four-From-Into-One

Empedocles, fr. 17.25-27

I will speak a two-fold tale. Once, first, the one alone grew
Out of many and then in turn it grew apart into many from one.
Fire, and Water, and Earth and the invincible peak of Air,

δίπλ’ ἐρέω· τοτὲ μὲν γὰρ ἓν ηὐξήθη μόνον εἶναι
ἐκ πλεόνων, τοτὲ δ’ αὖ διέφυ πλέον’ ἐξ ἑνὸς εἶναι,
πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ ἠέρος ἄπλετον ὕψος,

 

Bonus Round

Heraclitus, fr. 53
“War is father and king of everything”

Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς

 

Sing it, Mr.Byrne

The Sayings of Bias According to Diogenes

From Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 1.85-86

“To become strong is nature’s work. To be able to speak advantages for one’s country is the province of the soul and thought. Fate may bring great wealth to many. He used to say that it is unfortunate to not be able to endure misfortune. It is a sickness of the soul to love the impossible. We must not obsess over another’s troubles. When asked what is difficult, he said “nobly enduring change for the worse.” While he was sailing with some irreverent men, it started to storm. As they were calling upon the gods, he said “be quiet—you don’t want them to know you’re sailing.” When an unholy man asked him what was sacred, he was silent. When the same man asked him the cause of his silence, he said “I am silent because you ask about things that have nothing to do with you.”

When someone asked what is sweet for men, he said “hope”. He used to say that it was sweeter to judge between enemies than friends. For one of the friends will become your enemy after but one of your enemies will become a friend.  When asked what a person delights doing, he said “making money”.

He used to advise us to measure life as if we had both a lot and a little time. And to love people as if they might some day hate them, since most people are bad. He also counselled this: approach deeds slowly, but once you begin an action, pursue it seriously. Don’t chatter quickly: for this marks insanity. Love wisdom. Speak of the gods that they exist. Don’t praise a worthless man because of wealth. Obtain what you want by persuasion not force. Whatever good you accomplish, credit the gods. Take wisdom as your guide from youth to old age: it is more certain than any other possession.”

bias

[86] καὶ τὸ μὲν ἰσχυρὸν γενέσθαι τῆς φύσεως ἔργον: τὸ δὲ λέγειν δύνασθαι τὰ συμφέροντα τῇ πατρίδι ψυχῆς ἴδιον καὶ φρονήσεως. εὐπορίαν δὲ χρημάτων πολλοῖς καὶ διὰ τύχην περιγίνεσθαι. ἔλεγε δὲ ἀτυχῆ εἶναι τὸν ἀτυχίαν μὴ φέροντα: καὶ νόσον ψυχῆς τὸ τῶν ἀδυνάτων ἐρᾶν, ἀλλοτρίων δὲ κακῶν ἀμνημόνευτον εἶναι. ἐρωτηθεὶς τί δυσχερές, τὴν “ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον,” ἔφη, “μεταβολὴν εὐγενῶς ἐνεγκεῖν.” συμπλέων ποτὲ ἀσεβέσι, χειμαζομένης τῆς νεὼς κἀκείνων τοὺς θεοὺς ἐπικαλουμένων, “σιγᾶτε,” ἔφη, “μὴ αἴσθωνται ὑμᾶς ἐνθάδε πλέοντας.” ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ ἀσεβοῦς ἀνθρώπου τί ποτέ ἐστιν εὐσέβεια, ἐσίγα. τοῦ δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν τῆς σιγῆς πυθομένου, “σιωπῶ,” ἔφη, “ὅτι περὶ τῶν οὐδέν σοι προσηκόντων πυνθάνῃ.”

6 [87] Ἐρωτηθεὶς τί γλυκὺ ἀνθρώποις, “ἐλπίς,” ἔφη. ἥδιον ἔλεγε δικάζειν μεταξὺ ἐχθρῶν ἢ φίλων: τῶν μὲν γὰρ φίλων πάντως ἐχθρὸν ἔσεσθαι τὸν ἕτερον, τῶν δὲ ἐχθρῶν τὸν ἕτερον φίλον. ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ποιῶν ἄνθρωπος τέρπεται, ἔφη, “κερδαίνων.”

ἔλεγέ τε τὸν βίον οὕτω μετρεῖν ὡς καὶ πολὺν καὶ ὀλίγον χρόνον βιωσομένους, καὶ φιλεῖν ὡς μισήσοντας: τοὺς γὰρ πλείστους εἶναι κακούς. συνεβούλευέ τε ὧδε: βραδέως ἐγχείρει τοῖς πραττομένοις: ὃ δ᾽ ἂν ἕλῃ, βεβαίως τηρῶν διάμενε. μὴ ταχὺ λάλει: μανίαν γὰρ ἐμφαίνει. φρόνησιν ἀγάπα. περὶ θεῶν λέγε, ὡς εἰσίν. ἀνάξιον ἄνδρα μὴ ἐπαίνει διὰ πλοῦτον. πείσας λαβέ, μὴ βιασάμενος. ὅ τι ἂν ἀγαθὸν πράττῃς, εἰς θεοὺς ἀνάπεμπε. ἐφόδιον ἀπὸ νεότητος εἰς γῆρας ἀναλάμβανε σοφίαν: βεβαιότερον γὰρ τοῦτο τῶν ἄλλων κτημάτων.

Fragmentary Friday: Laberius’ Latin on Democritus the Greek

From Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights, 10.17

18: Why and How the Philosopher Democritus blinded himself; and the fine and charming verses Laberius wrote on the subject

“It is recorded among the accomplishments of Greek history that the philosopher Democritus, a man worthy of praise beyond the rest and blessed with ancient authority, deprived himself of eyesight willingly because he believed that his mind’s thoughts and reflections in considering the laws of nature would be clearer and more precise if he freed them from the incitements of sight and the eye’s mistakes.

Laberius the poet has described this deed and the method by which he accomplished his own blindness with a clever device in his farce named the Ropemaker, which describes the affair with just enough verses, written clearly. Laberius, however, created a different cause for the blindness and included it in the tale which he was writing, not inaptly. The character who speaks the following lines in Laberius’ poem is a wealthy but stingy wretch who laments the excessive spending and low behavior of his adolescent son. Here are Laberius’ lines:

“Democritus, the natural philosopher of Adbera
Placed a shield to face Hyperion’s arrival,
So that he might destroy his eyes with blazing bronze,
Thus he ruined his eyes with the rays of the sun,
So that he might not witness wicked citizens faring well.
Just so, I wish to blind the final portion of my years
Through the blaze of shining money
Rather than gazing upon my son’s extravagant prosperity.”

Democritus2

XVII. Quam ob causam et quali modo Democritus philosophus luminibus oculorum sese privaverit; et super ea re versus Laberii pure admodum et venuste facti.

I. Democritum philosophum in monumentis historiae Graecae scriptum est, virum praeter alios venerandum auctoritateque antiqua praeditum, luminibus oculorum sua sponte se privasse, quia existimaret cogitationes commentationesque animi sui in contemplandis naturae rationibus vegetiores et exactiores fore, si eas videndi inlecebris et oculorum impedimentis liberasset. II. Id factum eius modumque ipsum, quo caecitatem facile sollertia subtilissima conscivit, Laberius poeta in mimo, quem scripsit Restionem, versibus quidem satis munde atque graphice factis descripsit, sed causam voluntariae caecitatis finxit aliam vertitque in eam rem, quam tum agebat, non inconcinniter. III. Est enim persona, quae hoc aput Laberium dicit, divitis avari et parci sumptum plurimum asotiamque adulescentis viri deplorantis. IV. Versus Laberiani sunt:

Democritus Abderites physicus philosophus
clipeum constituit contra exortum Hyperionis,
oculos effodere ut posset splendore aereo.
Ita radiis solis aciem effodit luminis,
malis bene esse ne videret civibus.
Sic ego fulgentis splendorem pecuniae
volo elucificare exitum aetati meae,
ne in re bona videam esse nequam filium.

Decimus Liberius is a Roman playwright from the 1st century BCE.

 

The ancient testimonia about Democritus and his fragments make his blinding scene a little hard to believe:

Suda s.v. γλουτῶν

“Democritus of Abdera was called the “Laugher” because he laughed at the useless seriousness of human beings”

ὅτι ὁ Δημόκριτος ὁ ᾿Αβδηρίτης ἐπεκλήθη Γελασῖνος διὰ τὸ γελᾶν πρὸς τὸ κενόσπουδον τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

 

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 2.46

“Democritus always had a fond partiality for honey. Indeed, when someone asked him how to live a healthy life, Democritus said, ‘Wet your insides with honey and your skin with oil!’”

ἔχαιρε δὲ ὁ Δημόκριτος ἀεὶ τῷ μέλιτι· καὶ πρὸς τὸν πυθόμενον πῶς ἂν ὑγιῶς τις διάγοι ἔφη, εἰ τὰ μὲν ἐντὸς μέλιτι βρέχοι, τὰ δ’ ἐκτὸς ἐλαίῳ.

 

Aelian, Varia Historia

4.28:  “I am unable to resist laughing at Alexander the son of Philip if, indeed, when he heard what Democritus says in his writings–that there are endless numbers of universes–he was upset that he wasn’t even master of the one we all share. How much would Democritus have laughed at him, do I even need to say, when laughter was his job?”

Οὐ γὰρ δὴ δύναμαι πείθειν ἐμαυτὸν μὴ γελᾶν ἐπ’ ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ τῷ Φιλίππου, εἴ γε ἀπείρους ἀκούων εἶναί τινας κόσμους λέγοντος Δημοκρίτου ἐν τοῖς συγγράμμασιν ὃ δὲ ἠνιᾶτο μηδὲ τοῦ ἑνὸς καὶ κοινοῦ κρατῶν. πόσον δ’ ἂν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ Δημόκριτος ἐγέλασεν αὐτός, τί δεῖ καὶ λέγειν, ᾧ ἔργον τοῦτο ἦν;

A selection of fragments:

 

fr. 170 “Happiness and unhappiness come from the soul.”

εὐδαιμονίη ψυχῆς καὶ κακοδαιμονίη.

Continue reading “Fragmentary Friday: Laberius’ Latin on Democritus the Greek”