Heraclitus' bow composition

Classical Quarterly 63 (2):473-490 (2013)
This article aims to throw light on a recurrent structural feature of Heraclitus' style that, it will be argued, serves as a tool to enrich interpretation of his fragments. Named after the bow image used by the philosopher in B51, the ‘bow composition’ will be presented as a narrative technique developed by Heraclitus to reveal his conception of the world. In B51 we read: οὐ ξυνιᾶσιν ὅκως διαϕερόμενον ἑωυτῶι ὁμολογέει· παλίντροπος ἁρμονίη ὅκωσπερ τόξου καὶ λύρης . Following an assumption that will be defended later, I argue that Heraclitus attempts through his text to demonstrate how ‘what is in variance agrees with itself’. One of his strategies to this end would be the bow composition, a way to structure his statements in which its first and last terms share the same root but have subtle suffix or prefix differences in order to depict that while being related they still maintain some difference . By means of employing such structure to describe reality Heraclitus would imitate the world order in his word order by providing his audience with an analogy that once perceived in the text would teach them how to correctly interpret nature itself
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838813000037
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