Anaximander [Fragments]

[Note: Except where indicated, all texts are in the public domain.]

1. The Extant Fragment of Anaximander, followed by translations:

  [from Simplicius Phys. 24, 17 ]

Anaximander of Miletos, son of Praxiades, a fellow-citizen and associate of Thales, said that the material cause and first element of things was the Infinite, he being the first to introduce this name for the material cause. He says it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but a substance different from them, which is infinite, from which arise all the heavens and the worlds within them. And into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, “as is ordained; for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the appointed time,” as he says in these somewhat poetical terms. -- Phys. Op. fr. 2 (R. P. 16).

. . .some other apeiron nature, from which come into being all the heavens and the worlds in them. And the source of coming-to-be for existing things is that into which destruction, too, happens, 'according to necessity; for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of Time', as he describes it in these rather poetical terms.
[G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge University Press, 1957), p. 117.]

.... The Unlimited is the first-principle of things that are. It is that from which the coming-to-be [of things and qualities] takes place, and it is that into which they return when they perish, by moral necessity, giving satisfaction to one another and making reparation for their injustice, according to the order of time.
[Philip Wheelwright, The Presocratics (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1978), p. 54.]

2. He says that the earth is cylindrical in form, and that its depth is as a third part of its breadth. He says that something capable of begetting hot and cold was separated off from the eternal at the origin of this world. From this arose a sphere of flame which grew round the air encircling the earth, as the bark grows round a tree. When this was torn off and enclosed in certain rings, the sun, moon, and stars came into existence. -- Ps.-Plut. Strom. fr. 2 (R. P. 19).

3. He says that this [the apeiron or the indefinite] is eternal and ageless, and that it encompasses all the worlds. -- Hipp. Ref. i. 6 (R. P. 17 a).

4. And besides this, there was an eternal motion, in the course of which was brought about the origin of the worlds. The earth swings free, held in its place by nothing. It stays where it is because of its equal distance from everything. Its shape is convex and round, and like a stone pillar. We are on one of the surfaces, and the other is on the opposite side. The heavenly bodies are wheels of fire separated off from the fire which encircles the world, and enclosed in air. And they have breathing-holes, certain pipe-like passages at which the heavenly bodies are seen. For this reason, too, when the breathing-holes are stopped, eclipses occur. And the moon appears now to wax and now to wane because of the stopping and opening of the passages. The circle of the sun is twenty-seven times the size (of the earth, while that) of the moon is nineteen times as large. The sun is highest of all, and lowest are the wheels of the fixed stars. Living creatures arose from the moist element as it was evaporated by the sun. Man was like another animal, namely, a fish, in the beginning. -- Hipp. Ref. 1. 6 (R. P. 22 a).

Rain was produced by the moisture drawn up from the earth by the sun. -- Hipp. Ref, i. 6, 7 (Dox. p. 560).

5. Further, there cannot be a single, simple body which is infinite, either, as some hold, one distinct from the elements, which they then derive from it, nor without this qualification. For there are some who make this (i.e. a body distinct from the elements) the infinite, and not air or water, in order that the other things may not be destroyed by their infinity. They are in opposition one to another—air is cold, water moist, and fire hot—and therefore, if any one of them were infinite, the rest would have ceased to be by this time. Accordingly they say that is infinite is something other than the elements, and from it the elements arise. Arist. Phys. G, 5, 204 b 22 (R. P. 16 b).

6. Anaximander said the stars were hoop-like compressions of air, full of fire, breathing out flames at a certain point from orifices. The sun was highest of all, after it came the moon, and below these the fixed stars and the planets. -- Aetios, ii. 13, 7; 15, 6 (R P. 19 a).

7. Anaximander said the sun was a ring twenty-eight times the size of the earth, like a cart-wheel with the felloe hollow and full of fire, showing the fire at a certain point, as if through the nozzle of a pair of bellows. -- Act. ii. 20, i (R. P. 19 a).

Anaximander said the sun was equal to the earth, but the ring from which it breathes out and by which it is carried round was twenty-seven times as large as the earth.—Aet. ii. 21, i (Dox. p. 351).

8. Anaximander said the moon was a ring nineteen times the size of the earth... -- Aet. ii. 25, i (Dox, p. 355).

9. When it is shut up in a thick cloud and bursts forth with violence, then the breakage of the cloud makes the noise, and the rift gives the appearance of a flash by contrast with the darkness of the cloud. -- Aet. iii. 3, i (Dox. p. 367).

10. Anaximander held that wind was a current of air (i.e. vapour) which arose when its finest and moistest particles were set in motion or dissolved by the sun. -- Aet. iii. 6, i (Dox. P- 374).

11. The sea is what is left of the original moisture. The fire has dried up most of it and turned the rest salt by scorching it -- Aet. iii. 16, i (R. P. 20 a).

12. The first animals were produced in the moisture, each en­closed in a prickly bark. As they advanced in age, they came out upon the drier part. When the bark broke off, they survived for a short time. -- Aet v. 19, i (R. P. 22).

13. He declares that at first human beings arose in the inside of fishes, and after having been reared like sharks, and become capable of protecting themselves, they were finally cast ashore and took to land. -- Plut Symp. Quaest, 730 f (R. P. 22.).