Notes on "Selected Heraclitus Fragments," on This Website

Created August 23, 2001 by Dr. Jan Garrett

Minor Revision: September 26, 2008

The parenthesized references correspond to the parenthesized numbering in Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, which I have excerpted for my History of Philosophy I students on a related web page.

Note that Heraclitus distances himself from the poets, esp. Homer (43, 119)

Heraclitus use of the phrase "the god" (ho theos) appears to have three different meanings, which also occur elsewhere in ancient Greek philosophical writings. Translators sometimes render "ho theos" as "God," thereby introducing misleading associations with the traditional unique God of monotheistic religion. Note that Heraclitus does occasionally refer to the gods (hoi theoi) in the plural.



A GOD = A PRIVILEGED OBSERVER (61, 97). Heraclitus seems to believe that there are immortal, or at least very long-lived, living beings who are superior in wisdom to human beings but not identical to the divine thought that steers the universe or to the universe as a whole.

Basic Ideas of Heraclitus (in More Prosaic Language)