Hesiod on the good king

Here’s an awesome passage from Theogony (82-104), I wish the rest of it were as nice.

When the daughters of great Zeus will honor a lord

Whose lineage is divine, and look upon his birth,

They distill a sweet dew upon his tongue,

And from his mouth words flow like honey. The people

All look to him as he arbitrates settlements

With judgement straight. He speaks out in sure tones

And soon puts an end even to bitter disputes.

A sound-minded ruler, when someone is wronged,

Sets things to rights in the public assembly,

Conciliating both sides with ease.

He comes to meeting place propitiated as a god,

Treated with respect, preeminent in the crowd.

Such is the Muses’ sacred gift to men.

For though it is singers and lyre players

That come from the Muses and far-shooting Apollo

And kings come from Zeus, happy is the man

Whom the Muses love. Sweet flows the voice from his mouth.

For if anyone is grieved, if his heart is sore

With fresh sorrow, if he is troubled, and a singer

Who serves the Muses chants the deeds of past men

Or the blessed gods who have their homes on Olympos,

He soon forgets his heartache, and of all his cares

He remembers none: the goddesses’ gifts turn them aside.

“For here too the gods are present.”

Heidegger on Heraclitus, gods and the stove:

The saying of Heraclitus (Fragment 119) goes: ethos anthropo daimon. This is usually translated: “A man’s character is his daimon.” This translation thinks in a modern way, not a Greek one. Ethos means abode, dwelling place. The word names the open region in which the human being dwells. The open region of this abode allows what pertains to the essence of the human being, and what in thus arriving resides in nearness to him, to appear. The abode of the human being contains and preserves the advent of what belongs to the human being in his essence. According to Heractlitus’s phraise this is daimon, the god. The fragment says: The human being dwells, in so far as he is a human being, in the nearness of god. A story that Aristotle reports (De partibus animalium, A, 5, 645 a17ff.) agrees with this fragment of Heraclitus. It runs:

The story is told of something Heraclitus said to some strangers who wanted to come visit him. Having arrived, the saw him warming himself at a stove. Surprised, they stood there in consternation – above all because he encouraged them, the astounded ones, and called to them to come in, with the words, “For here too the gods are present.”

The story certainly speaks for itself, but we may stress a few aspects. Continue reading