The thinkers traditionally identified as the first philosophers were not the first people in ancient Greece to have speculated about the origin and structure of the world: various traces of cosmological reflection are preserved in the earliest surviving Greek poetry. Aristotle distinguished terminologically between theologoi, the archaic poets who wrote about gods (cf. Metaphysics B4, 1000a9), and phusiologoi, the early philosophers who wrote about nature (cf. Λ6, 1071b27; Λ10, 1075b26); but he was also careful to indicate the continuities, indeed the similarities between the two groups (cf. N4, 1091a34; cf. also THAL. R32). Indeed, a number of ‘philosophical’ cosmologies only become fully comprehensible against the background of traditional representations, which they presuppose even on the level of specific expressions.

The present chapter brings together a number of cosmological passages drawn from archaic Greek poets and thereby presents one kind of background that is useful for contextualizing the thought of the early Greek philosophers. Some of these texts are of interest as surviving vestiges of kinds of speculation that must have been widespread in early Greek oral culture but have otherwise been lost; others are presupposed, in content or expression, by



various texts that are classified as philosophical and that are found in the following chapters.

In this chapter, as in those dedicated to ancient doxography (chap. 1), to the most ancient reflections on gods and men (chap. 3), and to the echoes of philosophical doctrines found among the Greek dramatists (chap. 43), the critical apparatus for the Greek texts is reduced to a minimum, indicating solely our divergences, if any, from the editions of reference listed in volume 1. We have also refrained from providing bibliographical indications, which would not have made much sense here.

OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER The Structure of the World (T1–T9) Earth and Heavens (T1) Ocean (T2–T3) Tartarus (T4–T5) Styx (T6–T7) Night and Day (T8–T9) Forms of Cosmotheogony (T10–T22) Homeric Traces (T10) Hesiod (T11) Orphic Texts (T12–T20) In the Derveni Papyrus (T12) In Orphic Theogonies Reported by Later Authors (T13–T20) Various Starting Points (T13–T18) The Cosmic Egg (T19–T20) Musaeus, Acusilaus, and Other Authors of Archaic Cosmotheogonies (T21–T22)