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Water is best, but gold is a flaming fire,
says Pindar.1 He, therefore, bluntly assigns the second place to fire; and Hesiod2 agrees with him in the words
And first of all came Chaos into being;
for most people believe that this is his name for water because it flows (chysis).3 Yet the balance of witnesses on both sides seems to be equal. There are, in fact, some4 who state that fire is the first principle of the universe and, like a seed, creates everything out of itself and receives all things into itself when the conflagration occurs.5 Ignoring the authors, let us examine the arguments on both sides and see where they will lead us.

1 Olympians, i. 1.

2 Theogony, 116.

3 Etymologizing (as in Mor. 948 e-f supra) chaos from chysis, ‘diffusion of liquid.’

4 The Stoics; cf., e.g., von Arnim, S.V.F. i, p. 27 (Zeno, frag. 98); cf. Mor. 1053 a-b; 1067 a; 1077 b.

5 On the Universal Conflagration of the Stoics see von Arnim, op. cit. ii, pp. 183 ff.; on that of Heraclitus, Cherniss, Aristotle's Criticism of the Presocratics, p. 29, n. 108.

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