Heraclitus, Fragment 106 (D 117)


“A man when drunk is led by a beardless boy, stumbling, not perceiving where he is going, having his soul (psyche) moist.” (Kahn, D 117)

A man, bearded or not, reverts to something of a boy when drunk.

Heraclitus speaks of a moist soul in Fragment 102 (D36). The soul for him is not disconnected from the natural world. It is not separate from it. Rather, it is connected and correspondingly connected to his teaching of the elements. In line with his teaching of the elements, moisture is associated with death. Air is associate with life. In Heraclitus’ description of the elemental processes of life, the descent toward earth and water characterizes death. This is followed by the ascent of fire and water, which characterizes life.

Compare the passage also to Fragment 108 (D77) where Heraclitus speaks of the moist soul as either dying or delighted. Perhaps there is a certain joy in the drunken stupor.

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