Heraclitus, Fragments 57 (D 79) – 58 (D 70)


Fragment 57: Man has heard himself called childish by a god, just as a child has by a man (Sweet 79). (Cp. R, DK 79, K 55, L&M 75)

Fragment 58: Human opinions are children’s playthings (Sweet 70) (cp. R, DK 70, K 58, L&M D6)

Fragment 57 has a structure like that of 56. As apes are to men, men are to gods. Here, as children are men, men are to gods. Sweet’s translation, as he notes, highlights that men are called childish or call children childish. This is related to the various Fragments where Heraclitus speaks of “accounts” that are given. The gods’ account (or the divine account) however can be identified with the true account — the view of logos.

Ordinary human views are not true accounts. This is highlighted of course in Fragment 58. Human opinions are “toys” as this is rendered in numerous other translations. But, as we see Heraclitus affirming elsewhere, most men remain childish, and rather than seeking a true account, believe in their false (and childish) accounts (Cp. F 4). Remaining childish, most do what Heraclitus exhorts us to avoid: “We should not listen like children to their parents” (F 13).




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