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    SORABJI, RICHARD 2012. TRIBUTE TO BOB SHARPLES. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Vol. 55, Issue. 1, p. 5.


On Fire in Heraclitus and in Zeno of Citium

  • R. W. Sharples (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2009

In a recent discussion note1 C. D. C. Reeve investigates the reasons for Heraclitus assigning a primary position to fire, as contrasted with the other substances like earth and water which go to make up the physical universe. (I shall henceforth refer to these substances as ‘elements‘; the term is strictly incorrect for Heraclitus, in that the substances can change into one another, but it is a convenient form of shorthand.) Reeve considers and rejects other reasons for the primacy of fire that have been put forward, such as the symbolic associations of fire, the role of fire in governing the universe, or the claim that everything becomes fire at some time or other. Rather, Reeve argues, the primacy of fire in Heraclitus' physical theory can be explained purely in terms of that physical theory.

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Ekpyrosis and the priority of fire in Heraclitus’, Phronesis 27 (1982), 299305

M. Lapidge , ‘A problem in Stoic cosmology’, Phronesis 18 (1973), 240–78

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The Classical Quarterly
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