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Chapter V.—Heraclitus’ Estimate of Hesiod; Paradoxes of Heraclitus; His Eschatology; The Heresy of Noetus of Heraclitean Origin; Noetus’ View of the Birth and Passion of Our Lord.

In this manner Heraclitus assigns to the visible an equality of position and honour with the invisible, as if what was visible and what was invisible were confessedly some one thing.  For 127he says, “An obscure harmony is preferable to an obvious one;” and, “Whatsoever things are objects of vision, hearing, and intelligence,” that is, of the (corporeal) organs,—“these,” he says, “I pre-eminently honour,” not (on this occasion, though previously), having pre-eminently honoured invisible things. Therefore neither darkness, nor light, nor evil, nor good, Heraclitus affirms, is different, but one and the same thing. At all events, he censures Hesiod978978    See Theogon., v. 123 et seq., v. 748 et seq. because he knew not day and night. For day, he says, and night are one, expressing himself somehow thus: “The teacher, however, of a vast amount of information is Hesiod, and people suppose this poet to be possessed of an exceedingly large store of knowledge, and yet he did not know (the nature of) day and night, for they are one.” As regards both what is good and what is bad, (they are, according to Heraclitus, likewise) one.  “Physicians, undoubtedly,” says Heraclitus, “when they make incisions and cauterize, though in every respect they wickedly torture the sick, complain that they do not receive fitting remuneration from their patients, notwithstanding that they perform these salutary operations upon diseases.” And both straight and twisted are, he says, the same. “The way is straight and curved of the carders of wool;”979979    Γναφέων: some read γναφείῳ, i.e., a fuller’s soap. The proper reading, however, is probably γνάφω, i.e., a carder’s comb. Dr. Wordsworth’s text has γραφέων and ἐν τῷ γραφείῳ, and he translates the passage thus: “The path,” says he, “of the lines of the machine called the screw is both straight and crooked, and the revolution in the graving-tool is both straight and crooked.” and the circular movement of an instrument in the fuller’s shop called “a screw” is straight and curved, for it revolves up and circularly at the same time. “One and the same,” he says, “are, therefore, straight and curved.” And upward and downward,980980    See Diogenes, Laertius, ix. 8. he says, are one and the same. “The way up and the way down are the same.” And he says that what is filthy and what is pure are one and the same, and what is drinkable and unfit for drink are one and the same. “Sea,” he says, “is water very pure and very foul, drinkable to fishes no doubt, and salutary for them, but not fit to be used as drink by men, and (for them) pernicious.” And, confessedly, he asserts that what is immortal is mortal,981981    Plato, Clemens Alexandrinus, [vol. ii. p. 384, this series], and Sextus Empiricus notice this doctrine of Heraclitus. and that what is mortal is immortal, in the following expressions:  “Immortals are mortal, and mortals are immortal, that is, when the one derive life from death, and the other death from life.” And he affirms also that there is a resurrection of this palpable flesh in which we have been born; and he knows God to be the cause of this resurrection, expressing himself in this manner: “Those that are here982982    ᾽Ενθάδε ἔοντας: some read, ἔνθα θεὸν δεῖ, i.e., “God must arise and become the guardian,” etc. The rendering in the text is adopted by Bernays and Bunsen. will God enable to arise and become guardians of quick and dead.” And he likewise affirms that a judgment of the world and all things in it takes place by fire, expressing himself thus: “Now, thunder pilots all things,” that is, directs them, meaning by the thunder everlasting fire. But he also asserts that this fire is endued with intelligence, and a cause of the management of the Universe, and he denominates it craving and satiety. Now craving is, according to him, the arrangement of the world, whereas satiety its destruction. “For,” says he, “the fire, coming upon the earth, will judge and seize all things.”

But in this chapter Heraclitus simultaneously explains the entire peculiarity of his mode of thinking, but at the same time the (characteristic quality) of the heresy of Noetus. And I have briefly demonstrated Noetus to be not a disciple of Christ, but of Heraclitus. For this philosopher asserts that the primal world is itself the Demiurge and creator of itself in the following passage: “God is day, night; winter, summer; war, peace; surfeit, famine.”  All things are contraries—this appears his meaning—“but an alteration takes place, just as983983    Or, “as commingled kinds of incense each with different names, but denominated,” etc. if incense were mixed with other sorts of incense, but denominated984984    Dr. Wordsworth reads ὃ νομίζεται, and translates the passage thus: “But they undergo changes, as perfumes do, when whatever is thought agreeable to any individual is mingled with them.” according to the pleasurable sensation produced by each sort. Now it is evident to all that the silly successors of Noetus, and the champions of his heresy, even though they have not been hearers of the discourses of Heraclitus, nevertheless, at any rate when they adopt the opinions of Noetus, undisguisedly acknowledge these (Heraclitean) tenets. For they advance statements after this manner—that one and the same God is the Creator and Father of all things; and that when it pleased Him, He nevertheless appeared, (though invisible,) to just men of old. For when He is not seen He is invisible; and He is incomprehensible when He does not wish to be comprehended, but comprehensible when he is comprehended.  Wherefore it is that, according to the same account, He is invincible and vincible, unbegotten and begotten, immortal and mortal. How shall not persons holding this description of opinions be proved to be disciples of Heraclitus? Did not (Heraclitus) the Obscure anticipate Noetus in framing a system of philosophy, according to identical modes of expression?

Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: “When indeed, then, 128the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times.985985    Hippolytus repeats this opinion in his summary in book x.  (See Theodoret, Hær. Fab., iii. 3.) But that He is one who has appeared (amongst us), both having submitted to generation from a virgin, and as a man having held converse among men. And, on account of the birth that had taken place, He confessed Himself to those beholding Him a Son, no doubt; yet He made no secret to those who could comprehend Him of His being a Father. That this person suffered by being fastened to the tree, and that He commended His spirit unto Himself, having died to appearance, and not being (in reality) dead. And He raised Himself up the third day, after having been interred in a sepulchre, and wounded with a spear, and perforated with nails. Cleomenes asserts, in common with his band of followers, that this person is God and Father of the universe, and thus introduces among many an obscurity (of thought) such as we find in the philosophy of Heraclitus.


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