Herakleitos Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Knaps, stranger to Ephesos, materializes one late summer morning at the home of Herakleitos, the thinker, whom Knaps presumes to visit without asking first. Knaps receives a gracious welcome from Herakleitos and his two companions, housekeeper Selena and slave Tmolos. Propriety and proper measure are important to Herakleitos; accordingly, Knaps, after sharing their breakfast, will be expected to observe the usual morning routine, including music and dancing performed by the three, the strangeness and intricacy of which Knaps can only gape at. Herakleitos explains: “Were I to visit you in your rocky Arkadia, I should not expect you to discompose your day.” The philosopher of flux and perpetual change silently observes and relishes the barbaric fashion of Knaps’s hairstyle. Each is strange to the other, the difference being Herakleitos’s at-homeness with contrariness and variety, out of which he has fashioned his famous thoughts.

Knaps’s first impression of Herakleitos is of a man blending the exotic and the conventional. The strange musical performance is then followed by a session of philosophy, which Herakleitos initiates by crushing a leaf of sage and smelling his fingers, a religious observance. Herakleitos’s “prayers”—whether before a session of thinking or at dinner—Knaps finds beside the point. When asked by the philosopher about the honor given Artemis in Arkadia, Knaps’s home, the grave young man politely debunks the goddess: “There are country people who shout at the full of the moon.” He admits to finding Artemis no more...

(The entire section is 641 words.)