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1 Pseudo-Heraclitus, Epistle 4: The Divinization of the Wise Man

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Chapter Summary

More than a century ago, during a period which showed active interest in the pseudepigraphic letters which date from the early Empire, Jacob Bernays drew scholarly attention to the letters attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus. This chapter is concerned with Epistle 4. Heraclitus ostensibly writes the letter to Hermodorus in reply to an accusation made by Euthycles and the Ephesians that he was guilty of impiety, specifically, that he had made himself a god. The chapter begins with the observation that the letter is an answer to the accusation that Cynicism, represented by Heraclitus, is impious because of its divinization of the sage. The Cynics retained the sharp distinction between the wise and the foolish, and confidently assumed that it was possible to attain wisdom by living a rational, natural life.

Keywords: cynicism; divinization; Heraclitus



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