understand me. One man in my sight is a match for thirty thousand, but the countless hosts do not make a single one. This I proclaim, yea in the halls of Persephone.
Another runs as follows 1 :
Do not be in too great a hurry to get to the end of Heraclitus the Ephesian’s book: the path is hard to travel. Gloom is there and darkness devoid of light. But if an initiate be your guide the path shines brighter than sunlight.
Five men have borne the name of Heraclitus: (1) our philosopher; (2) a lyric poet, who wrote a hymn of praise to the twelve gods; (3) an elegiac poet of Halicarnassus, on whom Callimachus wrote the following epitaph 2 :
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead, They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed. I wept as I remembered how often you and I Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest, A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest, Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake; For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take; 3
(4) a Lesbian who wrote a history of Macedonia; (5) a jester who adopted this profession after having been a musician.
- 1 Anth. Pal. ix. 540.
- 2 Anth. Pal. vii. 80.
- 3From Cory’s Ιonica, p. 7. In bare prose: “One told me of thy death, Heraclitus, and moved me to tears, when I remembered how often we two watched the sun go down upon our talk. But though thou, I ween, my Halicarnassian friend, art dust long, long ago, yet do thy ‘Nightingales’ live on, and Death, that insatiate ravisher, shall lay no hand on them.” Perhaps “Nightingales” was the title of a work. Laertius deserves our gratitude for inserting this little poem, especially on so slight a pretext.