I have found this quote in a variety of sources, but am wary of the Greek translation (knowing nothing of greek in its many forms over the years) COuld someone help me correctly find the original Koine (or Attic) translation for this quote:

"All things come into being through opposition and all are in flux like a river" (DK 22A1)

Google Translate:

Όλα τα πράγματα έχουν δημιουργηθεί μέσω της αντιπολίτευσης και όλα είναι ρευστή σαν ένα ποτάμι

Óla ta prágmata échoun dimiourgitheí méso tis antipolítefsis kai óla eínai refstí san éna potámi

  • Yikes! This Google translation into fractured Modern Greek is funnier than Boris Johnson's similar (notorious) recent gambit! Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


I would never trust Google Translate for quotes, especially ancient ones; even if it's totally accurate, it's giving you Modern Greek, and isn't smart enough to look up the original source of quotes.

"DK 22A1" means it's listed in Diels and Kranz's Fragments of the Presocratic Philosophers, chapter 22, secondary sources, source number 1. Checking their book, that source is Diogenes Laertius's Lives of Eminent Philosophers, book 9, chapter 1. And that work is contained in LCL 185, the 185th book in the Loeb Classical Library collection.

After chasing down these pointers for a while and reading through Laertius's rather amusing summary, it seems like the quote you want is in the middle of section 8:

Γίνεσθαί τε πάντα κατ' ἐναντιότητα καὶ ῥεῖν τὰ ὅλα ποταμοῦ δίκην, πεπεράνθαι τε τὸ πᾶν καὶ ἕνα εἶναι κόσμον.

Gínesthaí te pánta kat' enantiótēta kaì rheîn tà hóla potamoû díkēn, peperánthai te tò pân kaì héna eînai kósmon.

[Heraclitus] also [says] that everything is born out of opposing forces, and the whole system flows in the manner of a river—and also that all of it is finite, and forms a single universe. (Trans. mine)

Note that this isn't an actual quote from Heraclitus: it's from a later historian/philosopher summarizing his belief system. The words right before this quote are actually σαφῶς δ' οὐδὲν ἐκτίθεται: "…but he never actually explains this properly"!

  • Well, hmmm... the general idea of "change is the only constant" and "life is flux" (panta rhei) is what I was hoping to find with an actual quote from one of the fragments of his work. Instead it appears that what this is is an interpretation of his words. That would be (for me) the equivalent of quoting someone talking about the meaning of a Bob Dylan song, instead of quoting the song itself. I am struggling to find something meaningful that is as close to the original source as possible. Any suggestions? “The way up and the way down are one and the same." - Thank you Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 15:23
  • 2
    @BillBeemer Unfortunately, none of Heraclitus's actual writings have survived. What we have are other writers summarizing his works (like this), or occasionally quoting him directly: there are a couple quotes in the Cratylus, and some more in Thrax, but the Cratylus ones in particular may not be exactly accurate either. If what you're looking for is a direct quote from Heraclitus expressing that everything changes, that might be a good question to ask separately!
    – Draconis
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 15:40
  • Thank you again - at this point, I am thinking that a correct 'spelling' of panta rhei (in the correct dialect for the era) would suffice. I will post anew. (I am so glad that I found this web site) Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 16:35

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