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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
By Heraclitus (c. 535–c. 475 B.C.)
LISTENING, not to me, but to the Word, it is wise for men to confess that all things are one.  1
  Though the Word always speaks, yet men are born without understanding for it, both before they hear it, and at first after they have heard it. For though all things are produced according to this Word, men seem to be unaware of it, making attempts at such words and deeds as I explain by separating them according to their nature, and telling them as they are. But other men fail as completely to recognize what they do while they are awake as they forget what they do when asleep.  2
  Having ears and understanding not, they are like deaf men. To them the proverb applies: “While they’re here they’re yonder.”  3
  Evil witnesses to men are the eyes and ears of them that have barbarous souls.  4
  For many men have no wisdom regarding those things with which they come in contact, nor do they learn by experience. They are opinions even to themselves.  5
  If thou hope for that which is past hope, thou shalt not find it; for it is past searching and past finding out.  6
  Those who search for gold, dig much earth and find little.  7
  Nature loves to hide herself.  8
  The King whose oracle is in Delphi neither reveals nor conceals, but indicates.  9
  The Sibyl, with inspired lips, uttering words unmeet for laughter, unadorned, unanointed, reaches with her voice across a thousand years, because of the god that is in her.  10
  Eyes are more accurate witnesses than ears.  11
  Much learning doth not teach understanding; else it had taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, yea, and Xenophanes, and Hecatæus.  12
  Pythagoras, the son of Mnesarchus, pursued information most of all men, and making selections from these writings, he produced a wisdom of his own—much learning, little wit!  13
  Of all the men whose words I have heard, no one hath gone far enough to recognize that the Wise is separate from all things.  14
  For the Wise is one—to know the principle whereby all things are steered through all.  15
  This world, which is the same for all, neither any god nor any man made; but it was always, is, and ever shall be, an ever-living fire, kindling by measure and dying out by measure.  16
  Of fire, the transformations are, first, sea; and of sea half is earth, half fire.  17
  All things are exchanged for fire, and fire for all things; as all goods are exchanged for gold, and gold for all goods.  18
  The sea is spread abroad, and meted out with the same measure as it was before the earth was brought forth.  19
  Fire lives the death of earth, and air the death of fire. Water lives the death of air, and earth the death of water.  20
  The fire, when it cometh, shall try all things and overcome all things.  21
  The thunderbolt is at the helm of the universe.  22
  The Sun shall not transgress his bounds; else the Fates, the handmaids of Justice, will find it out.  23
  God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and famine. He changeth as fire when it is mingled with spices, and is named as each man listeth.  24
  You cannot step twice into the same river; for other and ever other waters flow on.  25
  War is the father of all things and the king of all things: yea, some it appointed gods, and others men; some it made slaves, and others free.  26
  They understand not that that which differs agrees with itself: a back-returning harmony, as of the bow and the lyre.  27
  An invisible harmony is better than a visible.  28
  Let us make no random guesses about the greatest things.  29
  Asses would prefer garbage to gold.  30
  The sea is the purest and the foulest water: for fishes drinkable and wholesome; for men undrinkable and hurtful.  31
  Immortals are mortal; mortals immortal, living each other’s death and dying each other’s life.  32
  It is death for souls to become water; and for water it is death to become earth. But from earth is born water, and from water soul.  33
  The upward and the downward way are one and the same. Beginning and end are identical.  34
  The bounds of the soul thou shalt not find, though thou travel every way.  35
  Like a torch in the night, man is lit and extinguished.  36
  A world-period is a child playing with dice. To a child belongs the sovereignty.  37
  Into the same stream we step in and step not in; we are and are not.  38
  Common to all is wisdom. They who speak with reason must take their stand upon that which is common to all, as firmly as a State does upon its law, and much more firmly. For all human laws are fed by the one Divine law; it prevaileth as far as it listeth, and sufficeth for all, and surviveth all.  39
  Even they that sleep are laborers and co-workers in all that is done in the world.  40
  Though the Word is universal, most men live as if each had a wisdom of his own.  41
  We must not act and speak as if we were asleep. When we are awake we have one common world; but when we are asleep each turns aside to a world of his own.  42
  A foolish man bears the same relation to a divinity as a child to a man.  43
  The people must fight for its law as for a wall.  44
  Those that fall in war, gods and men honor.  45
  It is not better that what men desire should befall them: for it is disease that causes health; sweet, bitter; evil, good; hunger, satisfaction; fatigue, rest.  46
  It is hard to fight with passion; for what it desires to happen, it buys with life.  47
  One man to me is ten thousand, if he be the best. For what is their mind or sense? They follow [strolling] minstrels, and make the mob their schoolmaster, not knowing that the evil are many, the good few. For the best choose one thing in preference to all, eternal glory among mortals; but the many glut themselves like cattle. In Priene was born Bias, the son of Teutames, whose intelligence was superior to that of all others.  48
  It were fitting that the Ephesians should hang themselves on reaching manhood, and leave the city to the boys; for that they cast out Hermodoras, the worthiest man among them, saying: “Let there be no one worthiest man among us; if there be, let him be elsewhere and with others.”  49
  Dogs bark at every one they do not know. A foolish man is wont to be scared at every [new] idea.  50
  Justice will overtake the framers and abettors of lies.  51
  With man, character is destiny.  52
  There remaineth for men after death that which they neither hope for nor believe. Then they desire to rise and become guardians of the quick and the dead.  53
  Polluted [murderers] are cleansed with blood, as if one, having stepped into mud, should wipe himself with mud.  54

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