(Sixth Century B.C.)

This Word is everlasting, but men are unable to comprehend it before they have heard it or even after they have heard it for the first time. Although everything happens in accordance with this Word, they behave like inexperienced men whenever they make trial of words and deeds such as I declare as I analyze each thing according to its nature and show what it is. But other men have no idea what they are doing when awake, just as they forget what they do when they are asleep.

One ought to follow the lead of that which is common to all men. But although the Word [logos] is common to all, yet most men live as if each had a private wisdom of his own.

Most men have no comprehension even of such things as they meet with, nor do they understand what they experience though they themselves think they do.

If you do not expect the unexpected you will never find it, for it is hard to find and inaccessible.

If happiness consisted in the pleasures of the body, we should call cattle happy when they find grass to eat.

Men seek in vain to purify themselves from blood-guiltiness by defiling themselves with blood; as if, when one has stepped into the mud, he should try to wash himself with mud. And I should deem him mad who should pay heed to any man who does such things. And, forsooth, they offer prayers to these statues here! It is as if one should try to converse with houses. They know nothing of the real nature of gods and heroes.

Were it not in honor of Dionysius that they made a procession and sang the Phallus-song, it were a most shameless thing to do. Is Hades then the same thing as Dionysius that they should go mad in his honor with their bacchanalian revels?

They who seek after gold dig up a lot of earth, and find a little.

Were there no injustice men would never have known the name of justice.

Gods and men alike honor those who fall in battle.

Greater deaths receive greater rewards.

Man is kindled and put out like a light in the night time.

There await men after death things they do not expect nor dream of.

Even he who is most highly esteemed knows and cherishes nothing but opinions. And yet justice shall surely overcome forgers of lies and false witnesses.

There is one thing that the best men prize above all -- eternal glory above all perishable things. Most men, however, stuff themselves with food like cattle.

This universe, the same for all, no one, either god or man, has made; but it always was, and is, and ever shall be an ever-living fire, fixed measures kindling and fixed measures dying out.

The transformations of fire are, first of all, sea; and one-half of the sea is earth and half the stormy wind. . .The sea is dispersed and keeps its measure according to the same Word that prevailed before it became earth.

Wisdom is one and one only. It is both willing and unwilling to be called by the name of Zeus.

Law also means to obey the counsel of one.

Fools even when they hear the truth are like deaf men. Of them the proverb holds true, 'being present they are absent.'

Right many things must men know who are lovers of wisdom.

For souls it is death to become water, for water it is death to become earth. From the earth water springs, and from water soul.

Swine like to wash in the mire; barnyard fowls in dust and ashes.

Much learning does not teach wisdom, else would it have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes, too, and Hecataeus.

Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things through all are guided.

Homer ought to be thrown out of the lists and whipped, and Archilochus too.

It is more necessary to extinguish wantonness than a conflagration.

The people ought to fight in defense of the law as they do of their city wall.

You could not discover the boundaries of the soul though you tried every path, so deep does its reason [logos] reach down.

Let us not make random conjectures about the weightiest matters.

The bow [bios] is called life [bios], but its work is death.

One to me is as good as ten thousand if he be but the best.

It is wise to hearken not to me, but to the Word, and to confess that all things are one.

Opposition brings men together, and out of discord comes the fairest harmony, and all things have their birth in strife.

Men do not understand how that which is torn in different directions comes into accord with itself,-- harmony in contrariety, as in the case of the bow and the lyre.

Time is like a child playing at draughts; the kingdom is a child's.

War is the father of all and the king of all, and some he has made gods and some men, some bond and some free.

The hidden harmony is better than that which is obvious.

Hesiod is most men's teacher; they are convinced that he knew nearly everything,-- a man who didn't even know night and day! For they are one.

The straight and crooked path of the fuller's comb is one and the same.

The way up and the way down is one and the same.

The sea is the purest and the impurest water; fishes drink it and it keeps them alive, men find it unfit to drink and even deadly.

The immortal are mortal, the mortal immortal, each living in the other's death and dying in the other's life.

God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, satiety and hunger. But he assumes various forms, just as fire when it is mingled with different kinds of incense is named according to the savor of each.

From reason [logos], the guide of all things, with which they are most continually associated they are become estranged; and things they meet with every day appear to them unfamiliar.

We ought not to act and speak like men asleep.

Fire lives the death of air, and air the death of fire; water lives the death of earth, and earth the death of water.

Souls delight to get wet.

The customs of men possess no wisdom, those of the gods do.

Man is called a child by god, as a boy is by man.

We ought to know that war is the common lot, and that justice is strife, and that all things arise through strife and necessity.

The most beautiful ape is ugly as compared with the human race.

The wisest man compared with god is like an ape in wisdom, in beauty, and in everything else.

In change one finds rest; and it is weariness to be always toiling at the same things and always beginning afresh.

It is hard to contend against the heart; for it is ready to sell the soul to purchase its desires.

For the most part the knowledge of things divine escapes us because of our unbelief.

The stupid man is wont to be struck dumb at every word.

One and the same thing are the living and the dead, the waking and the sleeping, the young and the old; the former change and are the latter, the latter change in turn and are the former.

Those who are awake have one world in common; those who are asleep retire every one to a private world of his own.

All things are exchanged for fire and fire for all things, just as wares are exchanged for gold and gold for wares.

All things flow; nothing abides.

One cannot step twice into the same river.

Into the same rivers we step and we do not step; we are and we are not.

The sun will not overstep his measures, else would the Erinnyes, the handmaids of justice, find him out.

The sibyl with raving lips uttering things solemn, unadorned and rude, reaches with her voice over a thousand years because of the god that inspires her.

The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither reveals nor conceals but indicates.

It is best to hide one's folly, but it is hard when relaxed over the wine cups.

Dogs bark at every one whom they do not know.

I have sought to understand myself.

To god all things are beautiful and good and right; men deem some things wrong and some right.

In the circumference of a circle beginning and end coincide.

What wisdom, what understanding is theirs? They put their trust in bards and take the mob for their teacher, not knowing that many are bad and few good.

One day is like another.

Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men who have not an understanding heart.

No one of all the men whose words I have heard has arrived at the knowledge that wisdom is something apart from all other things.

It were not good for men that all their wishes should be fulfilled.

It is disease that makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, plenty; weariness, rest.

Wisdom is the foremost virtue, and wisdom consists in speaking the truth, and in lending an ear to nature and acting according to her.

Wisdom is common to all. . .They who would speak with intelligence must hold fast to the [wisdom that is] common to all, as a city holds fast to its law, and even more strongly. For all human laws are fed by one divine law, which prevaileth as far as it listeth and suffices for all things and excels all things.

It is in the power of all men to know themselves and to practice temperance.

A man when he is drunk is led about by a beardless boy; he reels along paying no heed where he goes, for his soul is wet.

A dry soul is the wisest and the best

Man's character is his fate.

The Ephesians would do well to hang themselves, every man of them, and to leave the city to beardless boys. For they banished Hermodorus, the best man of them all, declaring: We will have no best man among us; if there be any such let him be so elsewhere and amongst other men.

Nature loves to hide.

It is the cold things that become warm, the warm that become cold, the moist that become dry, and the dry that become moist.

Pythagoras the son of Mnesarchus pursued his investigations further than all other men, . . . he made himself a wisdom of his own,-- much learning, bad science.

Holy, Holy, HolyThe Philo LibraryHypatia's Bookshelf