Heraclitus (commentator)

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For other people named Heraclitus, see Heraclitus (disambiguation).

Heraclitus (Greek: Ἡράκλειτος; fl. 1st century AD) was a grammarian and rhetorician who wrote a Greek commentary on Homer which is still extant.

Nothing is known about Heraclitus. It is generally accepted that he lived sometime around the 1st century AD.[1] His one surviving work has variously been called Homeric Problems,[1] Homeric Questions,[2] or Homeric Allegories.[3]

In his work, Heraclitus defended Homer against those who denounced him for his immoral portrayals of the gods.[2] Heraclitus based his defense of Homer on allegorical interpretation.[2] He gives interpretations of major episodes from the Iliad and the Odyssey, particularly those that received the greatest criticism, such as the battles between the gods and the love affair of Aphrodite and Ares.[2] Many of his allegories are physical, claiming that the poems represent elemental forces; or ethical, that they contain edifying concealed messages.[3] His work contains a good deal of philosophical knowledge, especially Stoicism.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Donald Russell, "The Rhetoric of the Homeric Problems" in G. R. Boys-Stones (2003) Metaphor, allegory, and the classical tradition: ancient thought and modern, page 217. Oxford University Press
  2. ^ a b c d Stephen Trzaskoma, R. Scott Smith, Stephen Brunet, (2004), Anthology of classical myth: primary sources in translation, page 116. Hackett
  3. ^ a b Robert Lamberton, "Homer in Antiquity" in Ian Morris, Barry B. Powell, (1996), A new companion to Homer, page 52. BRILL

Further reading[edit]

  • Donald Andrew Russell, David Konstan, (2005), Heraclitus: Homeric problems. SBL. ISBN 1-58983-122-5