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Festschrift at Delphi
in Honor of Charles Kahn
Papers presented at the
Festschrift Symposium in Honor of Charles Kahn
Organized by the HYELE Institute for Comparative Studies
European Cultural Center of Delphi
RICHARD PATTERSON, VASSILIS KARASMANIS,
and ARNOLD HERMANN
Las Vegas I Zurich I Athens
Las Vegas IZurich IAthens
© 2012 Parmenides Publishing
All rights reserved.
This edition published in 2012 by Parmenides Publishing
in the United States ofAmerica
ISBN soft cover: 978-1-930972-75-9
ISBN e-Book: 978-1-930972-76-6
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Presocratics and Plato: festschrift at Delphi in honor of Charles Kahn
: papers presented at the festschrift symposium in honor of Charles Kahn
organized by the Hyele Institute for Comparative Studies European Cultural
Center of Delphi, June 3rd/7th, 2009, Delphi, Greece I edited by Richard
Patterson, Vassilis Karasmanis, and Arnold Hermann.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and indexes.
ISBN 978-1-930972-75-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) -- ISBN 978-1-930972-76-6
1. Plato--Congresses. 2. Pre-Socratic philosophers--Congresses. 1. Kahn,
Charles H. II. Patterson, Richard, 1946- III. Karasmanis, V. (Vassilis) IV.
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Heracl itus on the Sun
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
In the first part of this brief approach to the solar fragments, I will
propose a different reading of B6, recovering the truly Heraclitean
idea that the sun is "always new," which I will interpret along
more Platonic than Aristotelian lines as having a metaphysical
import (rather than being merely a piece of physical doctrine). The
second part revisits briefly Column IV of the Oerveni papyrus,
questions the unified version of B3 and B94, and, keeping closer
to Plutarch's version of the latter, finally suggests a less physicalistic
scenario as a better-fitting context for the text of the solar fragments
themselves, bringing them together through BI6's cryptic reference
to an ever-shining analogue of the sun.
PART 1: THE SUN IN FLUX
Among Heraclitus' fragments, [OK] B6 ("The sun is new
every day") has been long recognized as authentic.
Possibly just a
paraphrase and not a verbatim citation,
it is transmitted by Aristotle,
I am referring to modern editors and interpreters, at least since Ingram
Bywater, whose work is earlier than Hermann Diels's (our fragment 6 corresponds
to number 32 in his edition Heracliti Ephesii Reliquiae (Oxford: 1877). It is
crucial to have in mind that all Heraclitus' fragments have come to us only
through doxographical tradition, which is indirect by definition.
2 Cf. M. Marcovich's classification, Heraclitus, Editio Maior (Merida,
Venezuela: 1967, from now on referred to as HEM), which specifies the status
of each fragment according to its probable degree of accuracy by the variables
of quotation ["cita"J (C), paraphrase (P), and reminiscence (R). See also S.
Mouraviev, Heraclitea III.3.B/i, ii, iii (Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2006),
whose version differs from Diels-Kranz (DK) only in word order, and who takes
notice of, and differs from, my own point of view (cf. below, note 13) . It should
not be forgotten that in the ancient tradition, the difference between indirect
quotation and paraphrase is a matter of degree, not of nature; cf. Charles H.
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
who refers explicitly to Heraclitus by name at the end of a passage
in the second book of his Meteorology. Most recent interpretations
have read it as a relatively straightforward statement of "physical"
doctrine, taking for granted that a cosmological (astronomical
and meteorological) scenario must be the appropriate one, rather
than seeing it as an illustration of a general truth, or even as a
critical reflection on the temporality of human life and experience.
Almost all have agreed what the extent of the quotation is.
be instructive to remember here Kirk's cautious but optimistic
conclusion, at the end of his long and detailed discussion: "When
all is said, we still do not know the exact purpose of the declaration
that the sun is new every day; but the number of possible purposes
has been substantially limited,"4 and contrast it with Marcovich's
remarkable confidence: "The meaning of the fragment seems to
be clear enough ifwe bring it together with Theophrastus' account
on Heraclitus' meteorology," 5 an opinion further supported by
interpreting the saying as an "intended attack on the popular belief
in the sun's divinity."
To begin with, I reproduce the Aristotelian passage in full:
This is why all of those who came before are ridicu- a unity
lous too, for they supposed that the sun is nurtured ofthep
by the moist. And some say that this, too, is why has bee
solstices happen. For the places of the solstices are must b
not always capable of providing nourishment for fiery. aJ
the sun. But it is necessary that this happens, or the principl
Kahn, Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology (Indianapolis: Hackett,
1994), 172. One should not dismiss Proclus' version (in Tim. Vol. 3, 311, 42nd):
veoc; e<p ' "new every day is the sun," which differs only in word
order from Aristotle's, the version preferred in DK. C£ Agustin Garda Calvo,
Heraclito. Razon Comun [HRC] (Madrid: Lucina, 1985), 190-192.
3 There are some exceptions to this generalized tendency: A. Garda Calvo,
HRC; Marcel Conche, Heraclite. Fragments (Paris: P.U.F., 1986); Jean Brun,
Heraclite, ou Ie philosophe de !'eternel retour (Paris: Seghers, 1969), ad B3, among
others. The line I will pursue is actually considered by G. S. Kirk, Heraclitus.
The Cosmic Fragments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978),266, but
4 Kirk, Cosmic Fragments, 264-279.
5 Marcovich, HEM, 316 and 318.
Heraclitus on The Sun
sun would be destroyed. Because the visible fire, as
long as it has nourishment, to that extent it lives,
and the moist is the only nourishment for fire. As
lmical if the moist that goes upwards could reach to the
rather sun, or as if its ascent was like that of the flame,
n as a when this is produced! Because they assumed that
nence. the flame is alike, they supposed it likely that the
It will same would happen in the case ofthe sun. But this
mistic is not so. For flame is produced by the continuous
When interchange of the moist and the dry, and it is not
rration nurtured (because, so to speak, it never stays the
iIpOses same), but in the case of the sun it's impossible that
this would happen, since, if it were nourished in
to the way they say it is, it's evident too, as Heraclitus
::count says, that the sun is not only new every day, hut
ted by always new, continuously (0111-0\1 xoct I>
r belief au ,",0"0" XOC17OC7tep <PlJOW, Eq>
.' n' 'H';.' '. ,
TJIIoEP'fl tlll' «El
Interpreters have stressed the need to take the whole passage as
a unity to make good sense of Heraclitus' words, so-for the sake
of the passage's internallogic-Aristotle's presentation of the saying
has been sometimes considered to imply that Heraclitus himself
must be included among those who believed that the sun (a) is
fiery, and (b) is nurtured by moisture'? Now, this claim could in
principle be challenged, wholly or partially, especially since neither
6 Aristotle, Meteorology B 2, 354b33ff.
7 Harold Cherniss, Aristotle's Criticism ofPresocratic Philosophy [ACPP], (Balti-
more: The John Hopkins University Press, 1935), 134 with n541), maintained
that Aristotle's reference to Heraclitus and his followers is exclusive (a thesis
that seems excessive). Marcovich (HEM, 312-318) accepts that an allusion to
Heraclitus is intended (315), as do Kirk (HCF, 265-266), and R. Mondolfo,
Eraclito. Testimonianze e Imitazioni (Firenze: La N uova Italia, 1972, 119-123
with n156), but they all leave other possibilities open. Inclusion ofAnaximander,
Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Antiphon, and perhaps Alcmaeon does not preclude
this notion from being a common bdief, "in the air," so to speak, in pre-Aristote-
lian times. Hippocratic treatises also provide evidence for the view that the moist
"feeds" the hot. Now, whether Heraclitus hdd a similar view or not is, of course,
arguable. There is a case to be made for the negative possibility.
Enrique HGlsz Piccone
of these two theses is actually found in any of Heraclitus' authentic .
fragments (but only in the Theophrastean doxography of Diogenes,
Hyppolitus, and Aetius, which is arguably ultimately dependent on
Aristotle himself). Besides, Aristotle's final criticism requires only
the premise that the sun is fiery (and, perhaps, the notion that it is
being extinguished and rekindling always), but not necessarily the
nourishment, the exhalation, and the heavenly "bowls" (crX.&cpIXL)
theories, these last three being suspect.
Now, as to Heraclitus' notions about Helios, besides the solar
fragments themselves, one ofthe earliest testimonia comes from Plato. that 1
This particular passage of the Republic (VI, 498b, with scholion to Plaro'
498a) seems to provide the grounds for the assumptions implied in physi
the standard current reading of the Meteorology passage, that the ccnre
fiery sun is kindled and quenched daily, in a cycle that forever repeats "kUxl
itsel£ In the immediate context, it is significant that the framework
of Socrates' invocation of Heraclitus' sun is a failed analogy between
the cosmic and the human: n:s w:I
Those who now engage in philosophy are young It 15 S
men just out of boyhood, in the interval before mete!
taking on management of the household and Ase.
money-making, who approach its hardest part-I
call its hardest part dialectics-and then drop it. rdari
Regarded as accomplished philosophers in their
later age, when invited to discuss with others, ofth
if they accept to be hearers, as if it were a great to Be
thing, it is because they think one should deal
with this as something accessory. And in old the f
age, except for a few, they are extinguished more mep
than the Heraclitean sun, in so far as they aren't thed
kindled ever again nOAu fL&AAOV thef.
'roO 'HplXX.AE:L'rdou 8crov IXO&!.,; oUx.
Republic 497e9-498bl. aad "j
Heraclitus on The Sun
The scholiast's take on the relevant point is quite straightforward:
Heraclitus the Ephesian, a physicist, said that the
sun, as it comes to the Western sea, sinks in it and
hat it is
is extinguished, then it goes under the earth and
as it reaches above the Eastern horizon it kindles
again, and this happens forever.
More is going on here than meets the eye. First, it is noteworthy
that the scholiast's point of view is considerably more explicit than
Plato's, and brings with itself the whole Aristotelian-Theophrastean
f>lied in physicalistic interpretation of Heraclitus. The Republic passage is
hat the centered on the key words "extinguished" and
repeats "kindled" which imply only that the fiery Heraclitean
nework sun was cyclically quenched and re-kindled (but not necessarily that
erween the sun dives into the sea, or that it continues unlit under the earth on
its way back to the East). So, even ifthere was in Heraclitus' lost book
some statement to the effect that the sun dies out and is re-kindled,
it is still doubtful whether it really belonged in an astronomical-
meteorological model of explanation such as the scholiast describes.
A second relevant observation is that Plato's allusion to the
sun-theme is subtly framed
to fit within a proportional triadic
relationship between cosmos, polis, and individuals, which looks
quite Heraclitean, and which Plato appropriates as the backbone
of the alternate, "utopian" philosophic model. Plato's allusion
to B6 is quite oblique, but he seems to intentionally recall the
language of fragments B30 and B26 (which deal respectively with
the fiery cosmos eternally going out and again re-kindling, and
the proportional relationship of the waking man, the sleeper, and
the dead). The brief reference to the Heraclitean sun anticipates
the famous set of analogical images: the Platonic sun, the divided
9 6 WV, EAe:ye:V on 6 EV "'fj ounxjj
EV "'0 U1tO y1jv
10 It is not often remarked that the verbs Plato playfully uses here, !X1t"'W and
E;OC1t"'W, in the double sense of "touching," "being in contact with," "set fire to,"
and "inflame," recall the language of Heraclitus B26, and not only B30.
Enrique HGlsz Piccone
line, and the cave. So it seems that Plato's information is likely to
can be 5
be true, which provides a meaningful complement to the "new sun"
viae;) ofB6. In the case of the scholiast, the function of the
sun-symbolism within Heraclitus' philosophical framework could
still have been missed. A fragment from Democritus might also
echo Heraclitus' B6 in a non-cosmological context,!l suggesting a
connection with B17,12 and so could perhaps be a useful counter-
point to the physicalistic perspective on the Heraclitean sun.
Up to now, a minimalistic estimate of the actual extent of B6
(6 vEae; € cp' € O''t'[v) has been the predominant trend
it is new
among scholars, a reading thought to be backed by the so-called
internal logic ofAristotle's argument.
Taken on its merits, however,
the argument is not a particularly good one. The notion attributed
to Heraclitus, taking the whole passage as a unity (and leaving
aside, for the moment, the details of the conjectured mechanics
of the process) is that, assuming that the fiery sun is born as it
is kindled at dawn, and dies out as it is quenched at night,l4 it
11 DK 68B158 (Plutarch, De Latenter Vivendo 5, p. 1129£): "verx trp'
rppoveone:e; ocv'&pw7tm" ("Men have new thoughts every day").
12 DK 22B17: ou yocp rppoveoucn "C"mrxu"C"rx 7tOAAOL, ouoe:
!-lrx'&ov"C"e:e; v, e:wu"C"o oe: ("Many don't understand such
not in d
things as those they encounter, nor do they know them once they have learned,
of a dai
but think themselves they do.") Cf. also DK 22B72:
"C"oc OArx xrxt ore; xrx'&'
"C"rxu"C"rx rxu"C"oie; ("That which they meet
most frequently <the logos that governs alb, from this they differ, and the things
they meet every day, these seem foreign to them.")
the old c
13 Heraclitea IILB.iii (2006), 14: "Certains auteurs [ ...J inclu-
ent 'u !-lovov et &'AJ\\&.d veoe; O"uve:xwe; (contexte d'Aristote) dans la citation, ce travels i.J
qui semble confirme P¥ Plotin (&.d Cette opinion ne resiste
toutefois pas it l' du contexte aristotelicien OU la conception d'un soleil
en permanent joue Ie role de reductio ad absurdum d'une appli-
of an in
cation s6leil de la theorie (qu'Aristote critique) d'un solei! de feu
nourrissant d'exhalaisons humides et de la theorie (aristotelicienne)
selon laquelle la Hamme serait un echange perpetuel entre I'humide et Ie sec."
14 Both Kirk and Marcovich thought it likely that B6 was preceded or followed
by some such assertion about the sun's extinction and rekindling. This is stage
one in Kirk's interpretation of Aristotle's argument; stage 2 is represented by the
theory, stage 3 by the theory. These are followed by the only
explicit piece of reasoning in the Meteorology passage, climaxing in the quotation
given in note 6 above. David Sider has proposed a different reconstruction: "Her-
aclitus in the Derveni Papyrus," in Studies on the Derveni Papyrus [SDPJ, (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1977), 129-148, on which see further below, note 43.
Heraclitus on The Sun
can besaid thatit is V€ Oe; €cp' € "new" or"young" atdawn,
successive periods. Theearlier thinkers mentionedbyAristotle,
denouncedfor havingsupposedthesunis nourishedbymoisture,
have sometimes been thought to include Heraclitus, butthis is
doubtful. Andanyway, even ifwe do set aside the attribution of
the nourishingofthe sunonmoisture (alongwith theJingle or
double"exhalation" doctrine) to
stillleftwiththenotionthatthesunis fiery, and, ofthis,
itis newnotonlyeveryday(atdawn),butalways. So,'accordingto
beingradicalenough. Forwhenhesaid"thesunis new
heshouldhaverealizedthatthisis agrossunderstatementof what
is metaphysically neededwithin his own framework which-as
interpreted byAristotle-wouldbean extreme form ofthe "all
1 as it
thingsflow" the"rheontological"model. Pointingto
Heraclitus' shortcomings, Aristotlewould be puttingforward his
own criticism, correctingthesayingwithwhat Heraclitus should
, ; i.
havesaid: thatthesunis "alwaysnew" (ridV€ Oe;).
Thereis someindication (in therelevantdoxography, though
notintheauthenticfragments themselves) thatsuchaconception
ofa daily different sunwas held byXenophanes. His reported
viewwas thatafiery sun
is generatedliterally"everyday" (xcx,f)'
€ from smallsparksintheclouds, so anentirely
tion,ce travels inastraightline, beingsubstitutedbyanentirelynewone
the next day.16 Xenophanes' thesis entails the successive existence
ofaninfinitenumberofsuns, eachirreducibletotheothers; each
l de feu
sun, correspondingto each day, can thus be said to be new (that
is, "other than," or "differentfrom" the others). Heraclitus' few
cosmological anddoctrinal interpretation ofhis thinking, rather
15 DK21A32, DK21A33, DK21A3B.
Enrique Hlilsz Piccone
than simply take for granted that the details of just that sort of
account have not reached us. That he stated nothing clear1
these matters represents a more credible possibility.
We know from the fragments themselves that Heraclitus was
extremely critical ofthe reputedly wise men from the distant past and
from his own time, and that he explicitly denied that Xenophanes
understood anything, even if he qualified as a polymath (B40).18
That Heraclitus held a similar belief in infinite suns (parallel to the
sequence of days) is an unlikely hypothesis, not just because of his
manifest disdain ofXenophanes, but also in virtue ofsomething that
is implied in his criticism of Hesiod, who, according to B57, did not
even know Night and Day, "for they are one."19 In B106, Hesiod's
ignorance concerns not only the unity of Night and Day, but also Afu
the single nature (cpUO't.0 common to all days.20 This suggests that crincall]
the Heraclitean sun (recognized as the cause ofdaylight, B99), 21 too,
is one and the same every day, and it has a distinctive cpuO't.c; of its
own. The upshot is that Heraclitus thought ofthe sun as a single and
persistent being which retains its selfhood through its change, just
as he thought of the same river as a flux of ever different waters.
The Aristotelian passage implicitly suggests several possible
Heracleitean theses. The most basic assumption I label Som
17 Cf. e.g., DL 9.8: a<x<pwe; S' ouSev € ("he doesn't set forth anything
clear"); ibid. 9,11: m::pt Se 't'1je; ouSev 1tO£<x 't'Le; €anv, aAA'
by the D
ouSe 1te:pt 't'wv ax<x<pwv ("he doesn't show anything clear about what sort of
thing is the earth, nor about the bowls").
18 DK 22B40: voov ou 'HaLoSov yiXp &v € x<xL
TIu&<xyop1JV <xo't'£e; 't'E :E:e:vo<pdtve:dt 't'E x<xL 'EX<X't'<XLOV ("Much learning doesn't
teach intelligence. For it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras and, again,
Xenophanes and Hecataeus").
19 DK 22B57: Se 1tAELa't'6>V 'HaLoSoe;' 't'oQZGV €
1tAe:La't'<X dSiv<XL, (Jane; x<xL e:u<ppOV'l)V oux € Ecru YOCp\EV we aI'IIft
("Teacher of most men is Hesiod. They think he knew I plenty, he who di</-n't
recognize day and night: for they are one"). .
(As to d
20 DK 22B106: <pUcrLv cX1tdtcr'l)e; p.L<x,< oucr<xv ("[HesiJ)'d] ig-
nored that the nature of any day is one"). / ./
21 DK 22B99: e:t eve:x<x 't'WV (lA'-WV (la't'pwv !XV ("If
there were no sun, for the sake of the other stars it would be night").
22 DK 22B12: 1tO't'<XP.OLcrL 't'OLcrt'J € he:p<x x<xL E't'e:p:x
6S<x't'<X € 1tLppe:'L ("On those who step into the same rivers other and other waters
1 son of
lei to the
ISe of his
r...; of its
at sort of
:L yip EV
[y f,v ("If
Heraclitus on The Sun
(0) The sun is fire, or fiery, or made of fire.
Other theses extend this fundamental idea:
(1) The sun feeds on moisture.
(2) Solstices are explained on this basis.
(3) The (false) grounds for this view are:
(3a) A supposed analogy of sun-fire with everyday,
ordinary fire, and
(3b) an assimilation of the ascent of atmospherical
vapor, on the one hand, and the upward movement
of flame in combustion, on the other.
After a denial en bloc of the truth of all this, Aristotle concludes
(4) Heraclitus, in saying the sun is new merely every
day, failed to reach the necessary conclusion that it
would have to be always new (that is, not the same
at any moment).
Some comments are in order. First, that Heraclitus and his
alleged followers (but who are they?) are alluded to in the reference
to all those earlier thinkers "who assumed the sun was nourished
by the moist" -rbJY -rOY
-rc1> uypc1» seems to be unanimously accepted. It should
be noted, though, that strictly speaking this remains an inference,
for neither Aristotle nor any of the preserved fragments actually
states just that. On the further assumption that "the moist is the only
nourishment for fire" (-ro 0' uypov -rc1> 1tUpt !J.6vov),
we arrive at the conclusion that the sun lives at the expense of (sea)
moisture, which ascends and feeds the fire ofwhich the sun is made.
(As to the extinction during night-time, the doxographical report
t1tt !J.epouc; in Diogenes Laertius links night and the "dark exhala-
tion" [IX, 11]). The Heraclitean fragments that seem to be echoed
are B31 (both parts), B36, and (for the idea of nourishment) B114.
Strangely enough, none of them deals with the sun, but instead,
respectively, with the "turnings of fire" (1tUPOC; -rP01tClL), the cycle
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
of birth and death of soul and the nurturing of all human
laws (VO!J.OL) on the single divine one, common to all (the Logos as
lex naturae). The unity-in-opposition theory, construed as a narrow
physicalistic explanation, is also in play, although only obscurely
hinted at in Aristotle's interpretation. The grounding of this in
Heraclitus seems very vague, but it might further reflect B60 and
B126. A somewhat slighter anomaly would seem to be that the
moist requires as contrary the dry (not the sun). Insistence on the
exclusive relationship between contraries (each thing has only one
contrary) is reminiscent of Plato, but not of Heraclitus.
Secondly, as to solstices being explained in this way (that is, solely
on the view that the sun is nurtured by moisture), by Heraclitus
in particular, this point seems especially far-fetched. Perhaps the
closest we can get to solstices in Heraclitus is B94 ("The Sun will
not overstep its measures [tJ-€ 'tpoc),,) and BlOO.23
In the third place, 3a and 3b seem to be entirely due to Aristotle's
own conjecture. Perhaps there is a fusion here of other sources-
Heraclitus' B16 and B54 immediately come to mind-not exclud-
ing views in other authors. The "theory" implied in 3b could be a
historical antecedent of Aristotle's own exhalation doctrine, but it
is more likely than not that there was no such thing in Heraclitus'
view-in spite of the commonplace physicalistic interpretation of
the way up and down a.vw xoc'tw) of B60. Heraclitus' own
approach to such meteorological phenomena (in B31, B36) seems
hardly usable for restoring Aristotle's credibility. Some form ofvapor
however, is quite possible in Xenophanes.
And last, with all this in mind, we may appreciate that Aristotle's
final move (charging Heraclitus with not being radical enough) can
do without the assumptions just listed as 1-3. The only premise really
needed is that the sun is fiery. Aristotle's dissent from Heraclitus,
which is the immediate basis for actually mentioning him by name
and quoting him, need not be interpreted within a meteorological
framework, and makes perfect sense when limited to the very basic
notion of the sun as fiery. Besides the well-known metaphysical
23 DK 22BlOO (Plutarch, Quaestiones Platonicae 8. 4,lO07D) oct 1tIxv't"oc
<PEPOU(H" ("the seasons, bringers of all things"). note Ul
Heraclitus on The Sun
hostility to the allegedly "Heraclitean" Universal Flux, for Aristotle
himself (according to at least one interpretation), 24 the sun is made
of "ether" (ocUtYjp), not fire, and is neither hot nor dry. A simpler
reading of the final statement presents itself: if one assumes (with
Heraclitus) the sun's fiery nature, then one should go on to say
(as does Heraclitus) that "the sun is not only new every day (as
Xenophanes said), but it is always new." Read in this way, Aristotle's
final point turns out to be, not a criticism, but the actual report of
Heraclitus' extreme, but self-consistent (even if false) view.
It could be conjectured that Heraclitus is reacting to Xenophanes
and, expressing in his own coinage the true view, brings out the sun's
nature by calling it "always new." This recalls ("ever-living")
from B30 and farther still, the "ever real logos," EWV
of the Proem). It is well to remember that B99 proves Heraclitus'
awareness of the sun being the true cause of night (by absence) and
(by presence), of day, too. If the nature of all days is one (B106), it
would be natural enough for Heraclitus to think of the sun as being
endowed with a permanent identity. So the Heraclitean sun is, as
the fiery eternal cosmos "the same for all," or, as in B89,
ld be a
"one and the same" (for those who are awake).
, but it
It is not so easy to assess with confidence what the limits of
Aristotle's quotation are. If his rendering of Heraclitus is close, we
could expect an expanded original along these lines: ou fJ.OVOV
Ecp' EO''nV ti)..)..' tid (xoct ("the sun is not
new only every day, but it is always new and the same"). A simpler
alternative could be, perhaps, Ecp' EO''t'Lv' tic:t
(xoct wu't'o,;) ("the sun is new every day: always new and the same."
My preferred conjecture would be something like ou fJ.ovov
vio,; Ecp' ti)..)..' tic:t vio,; EO''t'Lv (the sun is not only new every
day, but it is new always"). What is most important is not to pass
silently over Heraclitus' characteristic style, of which there could
. 7.:XV"t"1X 24 Already known to Plotinus, who alludes to "t"o 7tefL7t"t"ov crwfLlX, see below,
note 26. For Aristotle's theory of a 7tpw"t"ov crwfLlX, cf. De caelo 269bff.
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
be traces in Plato,25 Plotinus,26 and LucretiusY My point is that natural
a reasonable version of B6 should include the formula rid veo.;.
These last two words, just by themselves, actually make an excellent
synthesis of Heraclitus' philosophy as a whole, and describe perfectly
the sun's CPUcrL';, which mirrors the whole xocrfLo,;. So I conclude
that Heraclitus' basic assertion is that the sun is forever the same
precisely in that it is always new, persistently changing every day and
at every given moment: just as the flux of the river constitutes its
dynamic identity, and just as the xocrfLo,; itself is "ever-living fire,"
so Heraclitus' presentation of the nature of the sun symbolically
harmonizes sameness and difference.
PART 2: THE SIZE OR THE LIMITS OF THE SUN.
HOW GOOD IS THE EVIDENCE OFTHE DERVENI PAPYRUS?
In 1981, almost twenty years after the Derveni papyrus
was discovered, Walter Burkert gave a short paper in the Chieti
Symposium Heracliteum in which he presented the text reconstructed
by Parassoglou and Tsantsanoglou and made publicly known the few
lines in column IV containing the Heraclitus quotation.
the dominant approach to these two Heraclitean solar fragments,
[DK 22] B3 and B94, was to treat them separately. Of course, the
fact that both deal (although in very different ways) with Helios
25 Symposium 207d3: ... m En:pov &v'tt 'toO 1tIXAIXWU
(. .. always leaves behind a different new creature instead of the old one"; 207 d7:
/; &AAIX. vEo, &Et ("It's called the same, but it be-
comes always new"). C£ also Cratylus 409b5-8: Neov 016 1tOV XlXt EVOV dd eO'n
1tEpt -djv 'toO'to 'to [...1XUXACJl yocp 1tOV dd veov
to a pal:
dd ("The light about the moon is always new and old [ ...] for in its
course around it, the sun always sheds on an ever new light").
9, and 5
26 Ennead II, 1, 2, lO-13: l;vyxwpwv xlXt e7tt 't01hwv 'tijl
'HPIXXAEL'tCJl. oC; e:tpYj &Et xlXt 'tov fJ.E:V Y!XP OUOE:V
OCV 1tpliyfJ.1X dYj, d nc; IXIJt"OO 't!XC; 'toO 1tEfJ.7t'tou 'to
awfJ.IX'toc; ("He [sc. Plato] evidently agrees with Heraclitus, who also said that the
sun is always coming into being. For Aristotle there would be no problem, if one
admits the theories of the fifth body").
27 De natura rerum, V, 662: (semina ... ardoris) ... quae fociunt solis nova Bernabe
semper lumina gigni.
28 W Burkert, "Eraclito nel Papiro di Derveni: due nuove testimonianze," Atti
del Symposium Heracliteum, vol. I (Rome: Edizioni dell' Ateneo, 1983),31-42.
Heraclitus on The Sun
t is that
naturally invited a connection, but as the texts ofB3 (from Aetius)
cl.. and B94 (one among several versions in Plutarch) were presented in
Diels-Kranz, mere juxtaposition did not seem appealing to editors,
Ielfectly commentators and interpreters. With the partial publication of the
Derveni papyrus, things took a different direction. A new line of
le same interpretation relied on the possibility that the author ofthe papyrus
day and intended the quotation as a continuous unity.29 But even after
rures its the "official" publication, which benefitted greatly from applying
Jg firre," multi-spectral imaging to the remains, finally came out in 2006,
olically the papyrus' bad physical shape still left enough room for almost
total uncertainty about some parts within the quotation itself (a
fact that has led to several versions, which differ in their proposed
conjectures and supplements).
In Gabor Betegh's version, lines 7-9 of column IV read:
... xcx't"oc cpuow cX\I'&pw[1t1ltou] [ea't"!.] 7
oux. e!..[..... ]pouae[ 8
v!.v t1tLxoupO!..] 9
The sun ... according to nature is a human foot in width, 7
not transgressing its boundaries. If. . . 8
oversteps, the Erinyes, the guardians ofJustice, will find it out.
IUt it be-
29 C£ D. Sider (1997), "Heraclitus in the Derveni Papyrus," who refers
to a paragraph at the beginning of line 7, indicating a quotation ("at least in
fur in its
intention"), reinforced by the apparent lack of space for in lines 8 and
9, and suggesting that "B3+B94 formed a connected thought in H.'s original
text" (131); but see G. Betegh, The Derveni Papyrus. Cosmology, Theology and
Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 326n3. A.
Lebedev did overstate his case when he wrote: "Any serious edition of Heraclitus
to come will cite B3 and B94 only as testimonia under the most complete and
authentic verbatim quotation of PDerv." ("Heraclitus in P. Derveni," Zeitschrifi
for Papyrologie und Epigraphik 79 (1989): 42.) S. Mouraviev (2006), and A.
oUs nova Bernabe, De Tales a Democrito. Fragmentos Presocrdticos, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Alianza,
2001) have followed this general line of interpretation in their editions of
Heraclitus, treating B3 and B94 as a single continuous fragment.
31-42. 30 Gabor Betegh, The Derveni Papyrus, 10-11.
Enrique HQlsz Piccone
There are some other possibilities (not exhaustive). First, the . The.
long awaited official reading by Kouremenos, Parassoglou and from
... ].ou X(x't"IX cpuow &:\I-9pw[mJ"Cou] [€ crn,] 7
't"o oUx. 8
[EoG' d € € 7tLxoupm.] 9
The sun in the nature of ... is a human foot width, 7
not exceeding in size the proper limits of its width. 8
or else the Erinyes, assistants of Dike, will find it out ...31 9
Ewu]WG X(X't"IX &:ySpw[7te:Lou] [ecrn,] 7
OUX. d Y[IXp e[wu't"oG 8
The sun, in accord with its own nature, is in breadth the size 7
of a human foot,
and does not surpass its limits; for, if it surpasses its own 8
breadth at all,
(the) Erinyes, (the) allies of}ustice, will discover it.
L. Schonbeck's proposal: tam
X(X't"IX &:\lSpw[7tdou] [€ crn,] 7 iden!
't"QQ[crxo't"ou], OUX. Mcp (&:et)] 8 and
d vw € 9
31 Theokritos Kouremenos, George M. Parassoglou, Kyriakos Tsantsanoglou,
The Derveni Papyrus. Edited with Introduction and Commentary [TDP] (Florence:
Leo S. Olschki, 2006), (Greek text of lines 7-9 apud Laks's review in Rhizai
2007, vol. IV, 1: 153-162, at 155).
32 Richard Janko, "The Derveni Papyrus: an interim text," ZPE 141 (2002):
1-62, and "The Derveni Papyrus ('Diagoras of Melos, Apopyrgizontes Logoi'?):
A New Translation," Classical Philology, Vol. 96, No.1 (Jan. 2001), 1-32. Greek
text of col. IV apudMouraviev (2006). This is also Bernabe's reading (Poetae epici
graeci: testimonia et fragmenta (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007); Pap. Derv. col.
IV: 188-192). BeE,
r, (ie:t)] 8
. in Rhizai
Heraclitus on The Sun
The new sun is not by nature the width of a human foot, 7
from darkness, not ever surpassing its proper limits every day, 8
it shines, if not, the Erinyes, Justice's helpers, will find him out.
Finally, Mouraviev's alternative reconstruction of the passage
and his French translation:
8' o8]e; 00 Xoc't'oc cpuO'!.v &'ySpw[1tdou] 7
ouJ. d y[ocp 8
v!.v e1tLO'xo1touO'!. yocp] 9
<Ce?> Soleil, dont par nature la largeur (est) d'un pied 7
d'homme, duit I avance (?»
sans outrepasser ses limites, car s'il <sortait de sa lar>geur (?), les 8
Furies,<servantes de Justice,> Ie recaptureraient. 9
Car elles veillent . . . 35
The importance of the discovery has perhaps been somewhat
exaggerated,36 at least concerning Heraclitus (as opposed to
Orphism). Nevertheless, the papyrus is certainly one of the oldest
kstimonia on Heraclitus, possibly even predating Plato's writings
(of which the Derveni author does not show any knowledge). The
identity of the Derveni author is still very much a matter of debate
and conjecture,37 but there is no doubt he is commenting on an
33 Loek Schonbeck, "Heraclitus Revisited. Pap. Derveni col. I, lines 7-11,"
ZPE 95, 1993: 20.
34 Serge Mouraviev, Heraclitea, HAl (Sankt Augustin: Academia, 1999; con-
tained also in Supplementum Electronicum n. 1 [CD, 2001]), ch. 12,56-59.
35 My translation: "This sun here, whose size by nature is of a human foot,
<shines/moves (?» not overstepping its limits, for if he <went beyond his> size
(?), the Erinyes, Justice's servants,> would catch him."
36 For instance, R Janko wrote: "The Derveni papyrus is the most important
teXt relating to early Greek literature, science, religion and philosophy to have
come to light since the Renaissance" (BMCR 2006.10.29, Review of TDPJ.
37 The papyrus itself has been dated about the middle of the fourth century
BCE, but the actual writing could have taken place decades earlier, or even in
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
Orphic poem, and that he shows the influence of Anaxagoras and
Diogenes ofApollonia (whom, however, he does not actually quote).
Although the acquaintance of the commentator with Heraclitus'
text confirms the authenticity ofB3 and B94, it is not obvious at all
that both fragments must have formed a single continuous passage
in the original, and the possibility that they have been joined by
the commentator himself (prompted by the common thread of the
sun-theme) cannot be set aside.
In Aetius' version, DK 22B3 consists merely of three words:
ocv-9pCll1tdou, which betray a dactylic rhythm,38 and
could be connected to the enunciation of the subject (6
and the verb The version from the papyrus (line 7) differs in
word order and includes the adverbial
phrase XIX'tOC cpuO'!.v, "by nature," used elsewhere in Heraclitus (BI,
BI12). The papyrus has a lacuna at this crucial point, immediately
after ... ], where no less than six readings have been put
forward (tau, epsilon, zeta, xi, gamma and sigma) for the faded
letter preceding the more clearly legible omicron and ypsilon (OT).
If these are read either as a relative pronoun (00, Mouraviev), or as
a genitive ending of a reflexive pronoun such as (Janko),
the assertion would appear to take on a stronger, more dogmatic
sense: the sun's size is" by nature" that of a human foot.
we would get the opposite meaning if the same letters were read as
a negation (ou): "the sun is not by nature the size of a human foot"
is OUI 01
the last years of the fifth century. Several hypotheses have been put forward
about the identity of the Derveni commentator. C. H. Kahn proposed someone " L
like Euthyphro ("Was Euthyphro the Author of the Derveni Papyrus?," SDP, hizschr.
55-63). D. Sider suggested someone in the circle of Metrodoros of Lampsacus
("Heraclitus in the Derveni Papyrus," SDP, 137-138.); R. Janko ("The Derveni
Papyrus (,Diagoras of Melos, Apopyrgizontes Logon): A New Translation,"
Classical Philology, Vol. 96, No.1 Qan. 2001): 1-32) defended the authorship of
Diagoras the atheist; Gabor Betegh thinks he may have been a religious expert
and an Orphic (The Derveni Papyrus, 87). W Burkert considered Stesimbrotos
("Der Autor von Derveni: Stesimbrotos TIe:pL Te:Ae:'t'WV?," ZPE 62 (1986): 1-5).
38 This feature has been interpreted both as a reason for doubting its authentic-
ity and as a good basis for attributing it to Heraclitus.
is dw: I
39 A dogmatic interpretation already implied in Diogenes Laertius IX,1,42: /) illusion'
ecrn 't'o € ("The sun is the size it appears to be").
Heraclitus on The Sun
(Burkert, Schonbeck) .40 The conjecture x6cr]fJ,ou (Lebedev) after
in line 7 (preceded by his supplement € at the end of
line 6, yielding "the sun rules by nature the universe") is interest-
[)US at all
ing, but more risky. One conjectured supplement in particular for
the lacuna at the start of line 7 is appealing, given the reading of
B6 sketched above: veo]c; 00 (Schonbeck).41 This would
;ad of the
yield something like "the new sun is not by nature the size of a
human foot," which, if correct, would strengthen the likelihood
that the commentator is paraphrasing freely, and fusing not two,
but three different Heraditean passages (one could go all the way
with Schonbeck's conjectured reconstruction, and read e[cp'
(&:d)] at the end ofline 8). If the negative reading is right, we could
further interpret e;0pOC; as "width," and speculate whether Heraclitus
could be critically reacting to previous theories, such as Anaximenes'
view on the flatness of the earth and the heavenly bodies-the sun
in particular, which he described as "riding on air," "fiery," and
"flat like a leaf."42 Or, alternatively, we could wonder if Heraclitus
was raising the question of the elementary fallacy of judging the
v), or as
sun to be a small object, because one can cover it with one's foot.
But, regardless ofhow one chooses to deal with these questions, and
whether one is tempted to credit Heraclitus with a naive thesis on the
size/width of the sun or not, it is hard to see how this notion could
40 A possibility emphatically denied by Lebedev: "the reading ou XOC"CIX
is out of the question" ("Heraclitus in P. Derveni," Zeitschrift for Papyrologie und
Epigraphik 79 , 46).
someone 41 L. Schonbeck, "Heraclitus Revisited (Pap. Derveni, col. I, lines 7-11),"
Zeitschrift for Papyrologie und Epigraphik 95 (1993): 7-22, at 17-20.
42 C( DK 13A7 (Hippo!' Ref I, 7): € DK 13A15 (Aet. II
20,2); (Aet., 22, 1): A.1tAOC"CVV 'we; mhocAov' "Cov (= DK 13B2a).
43 In his reconstruction of the Heraclitean context of the solar fragments, D.
Sider (1997) abandons this non-literal line of interpretation and takes B3's state-
ment as equivalent to the idea of the sun being of a fixed size; he then connects
B94 to B43 (about quenching interpreting that the sun's transgression is
the so-called "moon illusion," which was then punished by the coming of night,
and followed by B6. To this it may be objected, (1) that what B94 actually states
is that the sun "shall nor' overstep or surpass its limits, and (2) that the "moon
illusion" would apply also to dawn, not only to sunset (cf. Betegh, The Derveni
Papyrus, 328n4: "the Erinyes should quench the sun already at dawn").
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
be the same as, or equivalent to, the reference to the boundaries or. SIZe C
limits the sun does not transgress or overstep. whid
In lines 8 and 9, there are significant differences from Plutarch's thee
text, which reads: "(tXP oux Se: then
,1bcl)-; ("The sun will not ande
overstep his measures; if he did, the Furies, servants of Justice, theO!
will find him out").44 Apart from the syntax, the use of the verb
("overstep") instead of the verb ("pass over," forH
"exceed"), some wordplay involving oupou-;-e:upou-;, and a slight
variation in word order in the final clause, perhaps the most notice- Mal
able change in the papyrus reading is the use of the ionicism anob
("boundaries") instead of ("measures"), and even that makes
little difference in meaning. The general sense in most reconstruc-
tions of line 8 seems sufficiently close to the pre-Derveni reading, other
whether one reads 't'o [J,.[e"(e:&o]-; oUX ou]pou-; anddi
e:[upou-;] (KPT), or 't'o0[-; O\)pou]-; OUX d "([tXp e:u] Sc
pou-; l[wu't'ou (Janko, Bernabe), oT't'o0[-; oupou]C; oUX then.
d "([tXp e:u]pouc; ,1Lx1JC; (Mouraviev). For on any of these the le4
readings the essential meaning still is "the sun will not transgress from (
or overstep its limits or boundaries." auIDe!
Structurally, B94 (Plutarch's version) consists of two different conten
and complementary assertions. First, we have a categorical proposi- remau
tion, "Helios will not overstep the measures" (or: "the boundaries"), recoD.S1
and then a hypothetical negative clause, which reinforces the point:
of the j
"if not, the Erinyes, Justice's servants, will find him out." From
the point of view of form, Plutarch's version seems more likely to
be authentic. In point of content, it is not immediately clear what
.S I bo
exactly the reference of (or opou-;) is (the same is true for the
<6 A. I
restored O\)POU-; in the papyrus)-whether it refers to the increasing
of the 0
44 DK 22B94 comes from Plutarch, De exilio. 11, 604A. There is a different ver-
sion in De lside et Osiride 370D3-1O, in oratio obliqua, with two variants, 0POU1;
("boundaries") instead of !J.C:'t'PIX ("measures"), and KAOOl}oc1; ("Spinners") instead
[...J cp1JO'L [...J OE: 't'OU1;
OPOU1;' d OE: KAOOl}oc1; tlLX'I)1; emxoupou1;
("Heraclitus says the sun will not go beyond its proper boundaries; if not, the
Spinners, servants of Justice, will find him out"). KAoo1toc1; is an emendation of
the manuscripts' presumably corrupt YAW't"t'IX1; ("tongues"). For other possibili- note) n
ties, see D. Sider, "Heraclitus in the Derveni Papyrus," 143n42.
I will not
. the verb
I a slight
£up+, cre: LV
f not, the
Heraclitus on The Sun
sitt of the circle of the sun itself (the so-called "moon illusion,"
which happens when the sun is nearer the horizon), rather than to
the cnreme southern and northern points marking the solstices. But
the main idea is common to both Plutarch and the Derveni author,
and dear enough: illustrated here by the sun's constant abiding of
the orderings of Justice, Heraclitus' cosmos is "governed by law."45
In spite of Lebedev's vehement assertion, it is quite unlikely that,
tOr Heraclitus, the sun, even if viewed as a god, is the ruler of the
xOo:m;.-46 He may be the cause of day and night, as B99 implies,
bm as B94 itself makes clear, he is presented not as a king, but as
an obedient subject in a realm where Justice (LlLxlJ, who is identi-
fied with in B80) reigns supreme. The bold personifications
cL N.Xlj, the Furies and the sun CHAW;), which have
oc:bcr parallels in the authentic fragments,47 look somewhat paler
and diluted in the Derveni version.
So. to conclude this brief approach: the evidence provided by
the Derveni papyrus on Heraclitus' text is very problematic, to say
the least. It does not seem to add much to what we already knew
from other later sources, but merely serves as confirmation of the
authenticity of the same old solar fragments. In particular, the
contention that B3 and B94 formed a single continuous passage
remains possible, but even the most authoritative versions of the
reconstructed text of the papyrus do not seem to make good sense
of the passage as a unity.
I borrow this phrase from Kahn's treatment ofAnaximander's fragment.
4Ii A. Lebedev, "Heraclitus in P. Derveni," ZeitschriJt for Papyrologie und
79 (1989): 39-47, at 43ff. The notion of the sun as supreme ruler
of the cosmos may be perhaps attributed to the Derveni commentator, but as
ldledcv himself acknowledges: "The initial words [OCPXe:L] xocr ]p..ou
lU.i q;oow are not attested elsewhere in a verbatim quotation" (43). The alleged
in the "Heraclitean tradition" is not always focused on the sun, but
on fire, and it has little weight against the fragments themselves, in which we
find that it is nOAe:fJ.0<; who is called "the king of all" (1tIXv't"wv B53),
though A1.Wv is also depicted as such (B52), which might suggest they are the
The classic instances include (besides the two just referred to in the previous
DOte) nOAe:!Lo<;, and L1Lx"t) in BSQ, and Ke:potuv6<; in B64, all of them
oonsistently characterized by their governing functions.
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
Although the point is overstated, I sympathize with Lebedev's .
claim that "Heraclitus' view of the Sun has nothing to do with
natural science."48 The idea that the character of Heraclitus' thought
as a whole is fundamentally misrepresented by physicalistic interpre-
tations of the crucial fragments is nothing new. Although the histor-
ical impact ofAristotle's interpretation of Heraclitus as a is
huge, modern tributaries of this view seem to be running rather dry
of a c
nowadays. Some recent interpreters (Betegh, Finkelberg, Mouraviev)
have pursued physical-eschatological lines of interpretation, which
remain open, but it would be hard to consider any results as conclu-
sive, at least in what concerns Heraclitus' sun. Much ado has been
made about Orphic influence on Heraclitus, but the opposite and
complementary possibility (a Heraclitean influence on later Orphic
writers, such as the Derveni commentator) has not been sufficiently
explored. As for the general nature of Heraclitus' views on the
sun, I would say they are more "metaphysical" (I mean, ontologi-
cal, because they concern the sun's nature or genuine being) than
physical, without denying they have some relevance in the latter
field. Looking at our three fragments once again, they do not seem
to cohere with one another in a dogmatic fashion, as if they were
parts of a wider astronomical theory. But the way Heraclitus presents
the sun, and especially the idea that its movement and change are
rationally grounded on its own nature and on universal regularity,
certainly provide a solid basis for physical science. At least, relying on
the fragments themselves (rather than on doxographical reports and
interpretations), it does not seem that Heraclitus is very interested
in the detailed mechanics of cosmic processes. Instead, he is rather
conspicuously committed to finding out and expressing the of In 5G
things and the workings ofA6yo.; as the single unifying universal law.
His interests lie in what could be called the ontological framework
that is the necessary basis for human knowledge and human action.
I will end by quoting Heraclitus once more. I propose that there
is another solar fragment of sorts that we ought to take into account.
What Heraclitus says here is enigmatic, but it is also undoubtedly
relevant and suggestive for my chosen theme:
48 Lebedev, "Heraclitus in P. Derveni," 44. beinp
Heraclitus on The Sun
How could anyone be unaware ofthat which never
10 with sets?49
This question suggests the strange image of a source of light
more constant than the sun, a hyper-sun, so to speak: 't'o SOvov
Tto't'e, "what never sets," which constitutes an unmistakable contrast-
ing reference to the setting sun. B16 also connects, again by way
of a contrast, this absolute presence with lethargic human experi-
ence, so it sounds like a warning not to overlook the evident. Now,
reproaching most men for their epistemic negligence and contrasting
this with the sufficiency of the absolute, divine point of view, is a
recurrent theme in the fragments; so perhaps the A6yoc;" interpreted
as the law of the fiery cosmos itself, is the object of the allusion and
the intended symbolic counterpart of the Heraclitean sun.
contrast is more complex and intricate than it would seem at first
sight, since it not only suggests a cluster of referents which stand for
ontological rationality (A6yoc;" xoO"!.Loc;" but it may also imply
an analogous link between human nature and the Heraclitean sun?
And this brings us right back to some of the contents of our three
basic texts: B3 can be aptly described as a voicing of a measurement
ofthe sun according to an all-too-human standard; B94 states Helios'
49 DK 22B16: 't"0 oOvov 1ton: 1t(';ic; &v nc; if there is some ambiguity
in the sense ofAow&!lvOl, one could alternately translate: "How could anyone ever
be hidden from that which doesn't set?" C£ Hesiod, Erga 267-268: 1t!lV't"Cl
.lLO; xClL 1t!lV't"Cl /xClL vu 't"!l0, Clt x' e&EA7JCI,
aMi E: ("The eye of Zeus, seeing all things and understanding all/looks
upon these things too, if he wants to, and fails not to notice"). C£ Homer, II.,
50 In the Cratylus, Socrates voices a humorous and anonymous objection to the
contention that justice (O[XClWV) is in fact (413b4); for then, there would
be nothing just among men after the sun has set (ouo/:v O[XClLOV [...J € V
:b&pW1tmc; € 1tELOOCV 6 ov-n, 413c1). This looks like an echo of BI6 and
implies a connection between and justice. This objection is embedded in
a longer passage (412e-413d), which focuses on a seemingly Heraclitean collec-
tion of ideas (featuring cosmic change effected by a single and constant agent,
qualified as AE1t't"O't"Cl't"OV and't"!lXLCI't"ov ("lightest" and "swiftest," 412d5) and
described as passing through all things, OLOC 't"00 oV't"OC; 1tClV't"OC;, 412d6),
and concludes, after explicit identification of justice and fire, that "this is hard to
understand" ('t"00't"0 o/: OU eCInv 413c2).
On the face of B94 together with B43, it is clear that Helios (unlike human
beings) is not prone to
Enrique Hulsz Piccone
submission to Justice (who must stand for objective and univer- .
sal rationality), within the framework of an analogy between the
cosmic and the human; and B6, by stressing continuous alteration,
focuses on the permanent identity of the sun's nature, as a universal
paradigm. Under the light ofB16, a pattern of proportional relation-
ships begins to take shape: human incomprehension, the sun as
mirror of the cosmos, and the all-encompassing unifying law. My
last point will seem far-fetched to some-I grant that, in any case,
it would take at least another paper to develop it more fully-but
I will take the risk of insisting on a possible connection of all this
with the famous Platonic image of the sun in the Republic.
there really is such a connection, it might turn out (in spite of the
dominant trend of interpretation) that Plato's Heracliteanism is not
after all limited to the flux of Becoming, but reaches deep into the
theory of Forms. And Plato's use of this Heraclitean image might
prove useful for a better understanding of its earlier philosophical
use in the fragments themselvesY
a book 4
52 This very connection has been suggested on a different basis and with dif-
a big de
ferent implications by A. Lebedev ("Heraclitus in P. Derveni," 44), for whom
Heraclitus' sun "is rather comparable with the Sun metaphor of Plato's Politeia
(the humorous remark about in Republica 498b seems to
be a masked recognition of Plato's debt)."
53 I wish to express my gratitude to Charles Kahn and all participants at the
Delphi Symposium for their observations, comments and objections. I am 351-38
especially indebted to Richard Patterson and an anonymous reader, whose
suggestions have helped to clarify the final version of the text. 179-18
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