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This is the home page.  From here, you can access many different parts of this web site.  First, every time I make an update, I record it on the Update page with the date.  The Site Overview is available, as well as an introduction to Heraclitus (coming soon!) and a Bibliography page.  But since this is a tour to show what the site can do, so let’s go straight ‘To the Fragments’!

(Use ALT+TAB to move to the home page.  Click 'To the Fragments,' and then use ALT+TAB to return to this page.)

This page contains many different options for viewing the fragments.  Diels and Kranz (DK) put together one of the earliest collections of the fragments of the presocratic philosophers in the early 1900s, and their numbering system is still widely used to cite the fragments.  A particular fragment that I found puzzling in my survey course is DK B48 ('B' stands for 'fragment').  My textbook had this as the translation:

"The name of the bow (bios) is life (bios), but its work is death."

Click 'By DK Number', and then '48.'

This will load the file for DK B48.  I could have used this site to explore this fragment and realize what Heraclitus intended by this cryptic fragment.

Greek Text
The file loads with the Greek text first.  This Greek text I give here either comes from DK's text, or from an abridgement in Robinson and Johnstone.  (If your computer is not set up to view Unicode fonts, click the 'install Unicode' link for quick downloading instructions.  The process takes less than five minutes and requires very little memory -- fonts are small!)

The buttons on the left frame are links to other files for this fragment.

Click 'Resoures.'  A new window loads with links to helpful on-line resources.  Among these are the Perseus Project at Tufts University and John Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy at Evansville.

These resources are accessible from every fragment, so the user can look up words in a Greek dictionary or get help with grammar.  Click <BACK> to return to the fragment.

Click 'Help.'  A new window loads up with help tips for people using this site.  It instructs users how to make certain features works, as well as giving advice about how to get the information they want.  Scroll down to where it says, 'Look up Greek Words at Perseus.'  This gives instructions for using Perseus's on-line dictionary.  This dictionary costs around $300, but it is available for students free of charge on-line.  Follow the instructions to look up 'bios.'  The dictionary gives two exact entries.  Choose "LSJ" under one, and then the other, to see the different meanings.  Close the Perseus window, and hit <BACK> on the Help screen to return to the fragment.

Click 'Translation.'  An English translation of the Greek text loads in the white frame.  Most of these translations come from John Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy, which is in the public domain and available on-line at Evansville.  In some places, I have edited the translations a little for various reasons.  Mostly, I have done this to make the fragments sound better.  Bold typing indicates a change.  For B48, this translation is my own.  Eventually, I will replace all of Burnet's translations with my own.  Translations used by other author's are cited and linked to my bibliography page.

Text Notes

Click 'Text Notes.'  A page with notes about the text of the fragment loads in the white frame.  This page deals with two major areas: First, I give here variant readings for the text.  Since all we have of Heraclitus' work are quotations, it is sometimes difficult to determine what Heraclitus actually said.  I give notes describing different scholars views about word choice and how that affects the interpretation.  Most of these notes come from Robinson's work or Kahn's work, but in most cases they in turn took this information from other sources.  Secondly, I give here interesting things to note about the Greek words.  Some fragments have more than one translation, and others have interesting aspects of interpretation that could be missed in English translation.  On B48, for example, I explain the relationship between bios (life) and bios (bow).

Transliteration and Beta Code

Many people will not be able to read the Greek on this site, either because they do not wish to download the font or because Greek is "all Greek" to them.  For these users, I have provided two different transliterated systems.  A transliteration system takes texts from one alphabet and writes them in another alphabet.  Skip past 'Categories' for a moment, and click 'Transliteration.'  This site uses a slightly different transliteration system than usual.  Click the magnifying glass: the new window
that opens up is a key.  Close the window, and click 'Beta Code.'  This transliteration system is often used for typing Greek in on-line sources.  It is how I typed the Greek on this web site.  Click the magnifying class again to open up this key.  These two pages make the Greek texts more accessible for different users.


Click 'Commentary.'  The page that loads has a philosophic commentary for the fragment.  This commentary is my own.  Only some of the fragments have individual commentary at this point.  For most of the fragments, links to similar fragments and overviews for each category suffice.  In places where I discuss the views of another author, a link leads to an annotated bibliography.  Click ‘Kahn.’  Included in the commentary are references to other fragments by DK number.  To access these
fragments, or simply to navigate through the fragments, click 'DK Index' at the top.  Then choose the appropriate number, e.g. 60.  That will load DK B60 in the window, and that fragment can be explored just as we explored B48.  Use the same method to get back to B48.

Play the Audio

This part of the site does not work yet.  I added it for my own amusement, and I hope to add audio readings of all the files at a later time.


Click 'Categories.'  Listed here are the different categories to which I think B48 belongs.  Clicking a category takes the user to links to other fragments that I have also decided belong in that category.  Click 'Word Play/Ambiguity.'  I will explain the category pages more below.  But for now, this allows the user to look through the fragments for others that relate to this one. The illustrations and introductory questions allow the user to graphically see what this category is about, and the lengthy
explanation below explores the meanings of Heraclitus' fragments.  Click on 'B48' to return to the fragment.

Complete Files by Categories

The bulk of my research effort went into dividing the fragments into categories.  This way, people could have access to all the fragments that dealt with a particular aspect of Heraclitus' philosophy.  Click the image in the upper left-hand corner to return to the home page, and then click on 'To the Fragments.'  This time, let's look at 'By Category.'  This opens up a separate window with a list of all the categories.  Click 'Philosophers and Poets.'  The page that loads discusses Heraclitus' views about his


The links across the top of the page correspond to all the fragments that mention his predecessors.  Each link takes the user to the individual fragments we looked at above.  Click 'B104' for an example.  Click on 'Translation' to read this fragment.  His attitude towards the poets was not very positive.  A person could then look through this fragment as we looked through B48 above, looking at the Greek text and text notes, to see if anything interesting is going on in the text.

Multiple Categories

Each fragment can be put into multiple categories.  This fragment, B104, fits into three categories.  This is one of the advantages to using hypertext for publishing the fragments.  In a book, each fragment can only be listed once.  Editors of books have to make choices about how to arrange the fragments -- by categories, by DK number, or by the order they may have actually appeared in Heraclitus' text.  When putting the fragments into a book by categories, each fragment can only fit into one
category.  This makes the categories smaller and less comprehensive.  Listing fragments by DK number is a great idea for reference, but it makes the fragments seem disjointed.  Kahn tried to reconstruct the order of the fragments in Heraclitus' original work; this is a great idea for reading the fragments, but it does not help students put ideas and concepts together that are scattered throughout the work.  His new order also made his book too inefficient for reference.  On the web, categories can overlap, giving a more complete and inter-connected picture of Heraclitus.  Click 'Philosophers and Poets' to return to that category page.

Each category page has a series of questions that will be answered or explored in the fragments for that category. These questions are a quick way for users to tell if this is a category that interests them or not.


      Each category has a brief article that discusses the fragments and category in question.  It provides links to other categories, which helps exhibit the uniformity in Heraclitus' view.  The way the DK ordered the fragments gives them a sense of disjointedness and isolation, but Kahn and others argue that the views of Heraclitus form a complete and consistent world picture.  I saw this clearly when I began writing the articles for each category and found that I could not help but cross-reference the categories and fragments together.  Links to individual fragments outside the category also helped create a comprehensive picture of Heraclitus that any arrangement in a printed book would have hidden.  These articles are not intended to be works of great and new scholarship, but rather general introductions.  Students of Heraclitus need to be familiar with the fragments and the general layout of his system before they dive into the secondary literature of scholarly views and opinions about the details – this site helps them do just that.

     This Category structure is very useful for two different methods of study.  A user could go through all the fragments of a category to get a good handle on what evidence there is for each view.  Reading an article, thinking about the questions, and reading through all the fragments one by one (all the while enjoying the beautiful images) provide a great summary of one position.  But user could also go through all the categories of a fragment to get a good handle on what role that fragment plays in the whole system.  Click 'B106.'  This loads the complete files for fragment 106.  Click 'Translation' to read the fragment. Then click 'Categories.'  This fragment belongs to five categories.  Going through these one by one, thinking about the questions and reading the articles -- maybe even browsing briefly through some of the other fragments -- gives the user a good handle on fragment 106.

Individual Files

      The features mentioned thus far are intended for users who do not have any knowledge of Heraclitus or access to the fragments.  For many users, this will not be the case.  In order to make this site more useful to any user, I have included ways to view all the files individually.  Part of the intellectual power used in creating a site like this is coming up with a way to organize all the material that makes it easy to reuse that same material.  HTML and frames work provide many different ways to organize the translations, the text notes, the Greek texts, and all the other files.  In a book, the author has to make many limiting choices.  Should he put all the fragments together, followed by a commentary?  Or should he put a fragment, then some commentary, a fragment, and then some more commentary?  It depends on who the audience is, of course.  What about Greek texts?  Should the Greek and English be on opposite sides of facing pages, or one on top of the other, or no Greek at all?  I have different editions of the fragments that do it differently.  HTML makes it possible to do all of them!  Click on the Heraclitus logo in the upper left-hand corner to take you back to the home page.  Then click 'To the fragments.'  We have explored the two ways to explore the complete files, and now let's look at the individual files.
     First, imagine that a student is reading Heraclitus for a philosophy class.  They know Greek, but the textbook just gives the fragments in English.  A student like this may want to know what Greek work is being translated.  For example,

"Men are sure that [Hesiod] he knew very many things, he who did not know day and night: they are one" (B57).

These two uses of know are different words in the Greek, and this is very important to understanding Heraclitus' view of
cognition.  Only by looking at the Greek text could one see the difference and its significance.  Click 'Greek Texts' under Single
Files.  The page the loads uses the same files that the complete files use.  Click 'B48' and the same file will load that we saw

Other users may be reading a commentary or article on Heraclitus.  Others users might see B51 in a introductory textbook and wonder what a certain footnote might mean.

What does “*Reading palintropos here” mean?  For this, the student would want to consult the text notes.  Click, 'Fragments' at the top of the lower left frame, and click 'Text Notes' under single files.  This loads a very similar page to the last one, but it loads all the text note files (including the text notes we looked at under B48).  Click 'B51' and we get a very helpful explanation of what the footnote means.  I have made all the individual files available in this way.  For a person only interested
in one file per fragment (say, the translations), this method of navigation is much easier and much more efficient.

Even scholars could find this site useful.  If a scholar were reading an article on Heraclitus that cited fragment numbers but did not quote them, or contained a footnote with references like "but see in contrast B54," this site could be used to quickly reference those fragments.  These scholars might just need to see an English translation to remember which fragment B54 is.  Or one scholar may give a different textual reading without citing the other reading, and a quick look at the text notes will give another reading.  Looking by categories could also help a scholar find a particular fragment for which no quick reference is on hand.

Framed Sets

 A number of users would find sets of two files most useful.  Click 'Fragments' and then 'Greek Texts with English Translations.'  The page that loads is similar, except that it has two places for files to load.  Move the arrow over the middle frame bar, click on it, and drag it down.  This will hide the English translation.  Now click on 'B1.'  A student who is still learning Greek now has a Greek text in front of them, with an English translation to help when she gets stuck.  Slide the bar up to reveal the English translation.  Some users will want to read the English translations of the fragments, though they know Greek.  Slide the bar all the way up.  Click on 'B2.'  After reading the fragment in English, this user might ask herself, "Does Heraclitus use φρόνησις or σοφίηfor wisdom in this fragment?"  Slide the bar down, and a Greek reader would realize that the answer is φρόνησις.

Many users will not know Greek, but will want to understand the complexity of the textual problems.  Click 'Fragments' and then 'English Translation with Text Notes.'  Once again, it is the same type of page.  Click 'B1.'  The text notes were designed to be useful when looking at the Greek text or the English translation.  A person who knows no Greek could figure out what the issue is.  Click 'B51,' which we looked at above.  Here we see a difference in translation, depending on which reading of the text one takes.

I found the fragments of Heraclitus very inaccessible to students interested in going beyond the first step of a survey course.  Most anthologies or histories of philosophy (like KSR or Guthrie's) tell you what one scholar thinks, but these do not raise the essential issues about textual problems or different interpretations.  Editions of the fragments are great (like Robinson's or Kahn's), but these often deal with fragments one at a time and not as a collected issue.  By digging through different commentaries and anthologies for over a year, I was able to find and reproduce the information that students need to leave the first step and begin to interpret Heraclitus in a scholarly way for themselves.  And for anyone else with any other goals for reading Heraclitus, I have provided a web site that makes all my work available through many different means for many different purposes.