"Man must rise to his fate. " -
Ethos anthropos daimon.
The beauty and difficulty of the Ancient Greek language is in the fact that rather than strictly delineate concepts, it tends to instead place a limit to what something can be. This limit can be filled in many different ways. It is a way of speaking I exercise in my own writing and aphorisms. There are dozens of translations to the above Heraclitus quote, the one I gave is my own. "The soul is destiny," "Character is destiny," "The impulse is fated," "The deed is fated," "The deed must observe fate." Etc.
This Heraclitean aphorism (As I have translated it) is a good example of how the ancient Greek conception of man was rooted in an internal disproportion, a kind of excess rather than lack which had to ascend through earthly material and desire in order to purify itself and realize the ideal, a vision depicted by Plato, and which I call the daemonic. It implies, taken to its highest conception, that the limit, the fatum, of man has not yet been found. Only when the limit is discovered can the horizon of man begin to be filled, and a conception of humanity be arrived at.
Because man has not yet found the idea to provide his limit, his daemonism cannot be resolved, and he must continually alternate through the ascent and descent upon the Platonic scale of being, through the spheres of empirical and transcendental life.
One should recall the words of Aeschylus:
oneirophantoi de penthēmones
pareisi doxai pherou-
sai kharin mataian.
matan gar, eut' an esthla tis dokōn hora,
kherōn bebaken opsis ou methusteron
pterois opadous' hupnou keleuthois.’
Why does Aeschylus use the word "keleuthois" to designate the path which the deceptive images of beauty take in leading man to the sleep of empty, hopeless longing? It means not merely path, but twisting path. Both Hesiod and Parmenides used this word when making the point that day and night, sleep and wakefulness, are caught up in eternal alternation, and so pothos or longing, the sleep of love, continually awakens us to eros and the definite object of our longing, and this awakened love must in turn fall back into itself, must sleep.
As yet man lacks a fatum, a limit. He is only ethos daimon, the ascending and descending, wavering spirit, half beast half god.
"Ει ουν φιλοσοφητέον είτε μη φιλοσοφητέον, φιλοσοφητέον, (Man, by nature of his daemonic existence, must philosophize, philosopher or not.) to speak with Athanasius. We cannot, in the manner of one of the old Greeks, name the world a cosmos and beauty until we have named our own soul a cosmos and beauty; to behold and grasp all the world in an idea we must first have come to know ourselves as one particular being and no other and have had everything good and evil rent from the trembling heart and held, not in time, which diffuses our being like colors from a ray of light, but in eternity, which concentrates it. Every man of genius has believed in the eternal, that belief is the very condition of his vitality and flourishing. Perhaps this belief serves as nothing more than an obscuration of the spirit, which man requires if he is to ascend into the highest possible regions of his genius; perhaps he must find all the earth wanting if, like Cassandra of Ilion, he is to utter things not fit for the earth, but it is always the same, and we become like that angel whose wings were set aflame when he reentered this world, if one can entertain the old Gnostic myth. We suffer upon turning back into ourselves, we suffer from the failure to seize upon that inner motion of the heart's genius, which alone could move us to acknowledge the ideal as fate; the consequence of that strange lust which compels us to embrace obscurity, darkness, and uncertainty, but moreover to prefer this benighted world of the self over that law which strikes against the heart when love, fully matured, overcomes and inspires us to act with proud indifference against the hazards of our mortality. Dei virtutem dei sapientiam, [knowledge, for god, is a virtue] or if one may reverse the old theologian's paradox: yes, and man's sin; or, to reinterpret the account of Genesis, what flowered with the greatest sweetness in heaven is reaped with the most bitterness upon the earth." - Hamartia