From Chapter III., Herakleitos of Ephesos
63. Life of Herakleitos
Sotion quotes a statement that Herakleitos was a disciple of Xenophanes,5 which is not probable; for
Xenophanes left Ionia before Herakleitos was born. More likely he was not a disciple of any one; but it
is clear that he was acquainted both with the Milesian cosmology and with the poems of Xenophanes.
He also knew something of the theories taught by Pythagoras (fr. 17). Of his life we really know
nothing, except, perhaps, that he belonged to the ancient royal house and resigned the nominal position
of Basileus in favour of his brother.6 The origin of the other statements bearing on it is quite transparent.7
1. Diog. ix. 1. (R.P. 29), no doubt from Apollodoros through some intermediate authority. The name Bloson is better attested than Blyson (see Diels, Vors. 12 A 1, n.), and is known from inscriptions as an Ionic name.
2. Bernays, Die heraklitischen Briefe, pp. 13 sqq.
3. For the date of Parmenides, see p. 169.
4. Bernays, op. cit. pp. 20 sqq. This is quite consistent with the Roman tradition that Hermodoros took part later in the legislation of the Twelve Tables at Rome (Dig. 1, 2, 2, 4; Strabo, xiv. p. 642). There was a statue of him in the Comitium (Pliny, H.N. xxxiv. 21). The Romans were well aware that the Twelve Tables were framed on a Greek model; and, as Bernays said (op. cit. p. 85), the fact is attested as few things are in the early history of Rome.
7. Herakleitos said (fr. 68) that it was death to souls to become water; and we are told accordingly that he died of dropsy. He said (fr. 14) that the Ephesians should leave their city to their children, and (fr. 79) that Time was a child playing draughts. We are therefore told that he refused to take any part in public life, and went to play with the children in the temple of Artemis. He said (fr. 85) that corpses were more fit to be cast out than dung; and we are told that he covered himself with dung when attacked with dropsy. Lastly, he is said to have argued at great length with his doctors because of fr. 58. For these tales see Diog. ix. 3-5.
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