astonishment. Yet, the thinker does not particularly concern himself with the goddess; rather, he plays a dice-game ( ἀστράγαλος : the vertebrae; knuckles; die) with the children. A thinker, from whom even the average person expects seriousness and profundity, plays a child’s game. However, if, according to his own words from the first story, the nearness to the gods is so important to him that he found them even in the oven, how can he then, in the precinct of the house of the goddess, [11] do ἀλλότρια (i.e., inappropriate things)? Once again the thinker reads perplexed wonder in the expressions of the by-standers, and once again he speaks to them. But now his words have a different tone. The words of the first story are encouraging, inviting. Now he asks: τί, ὦ κάκιστοι, θαυμάζετε ;—“What are you gaping at, you scoundrels?” These words are severe, scornful, and dismissive. The former words invited the bystanders to experience the presence of the gods with him. Now the thinker cuts himself off decisively from that with which the bystanders are engaged. The thinker, or so it appears, wants nothing to do with the πολιτεύεσθαι , the care of the πόλις.

One might be tempted to interpret this ‘situation’ in a modern way and remark that the thinker admits here to being an ‘unpolitical’ person, one who self-centeredly spins around only within the circle of his ‘private existence.’ But such modernizations and the almost inevitable ‘allusions’ by historiographers to the respective present are always unfitting, because from the start they refuse to allow the past its historically proper-essence, and thereby fail to think historically in an authentic way. It is one thing to produce a historiographic image of the past for the respective present; it is another to think historically, that is, to experience what has-been as what is unfolding as what is to come. All merely historiographical revivals of the past are always the poor facades of historical errors.

In the case of Heraclitus, it is not at all decided whether the renunciation of πολιτεύεσθαι includes a refusal of the πόλις. Indeed, how could this be so, if—when thought in a Greek way—the concern with the presence of the gods is the highest concern of the city? This is in fact the case: for the πόλις , still thought in a Greek way, is 3 the pole and the site around which all appearing of essential beings, and with it also the dreadful non-essence of [12] all beings, turns. Understood in this way, and thus always thought in a Greek way, the thinker with his care for the essential nearness of the gods is the authentically ‘political’ human. Thus, πολιτεύεσθαι and πολιτεύεσθαι, even among the Greeks, are not immediately and in every case the same. Therefore, with his words to the Ephesians, Heraclitus refuses only their expectation that he, as thinker, drops out of the care allotted to him in order to degenerate into a common endeavor with them toward the πόλις (cf. fragment 121). This refusal refers indirectly to the necessity of the plight of thoughtful care: namely, to be thoughtfully concerned with the extraordinary that presences in all things ordinary.

4 Cf. Parmenides (GA 54).

Two stories concerning Heraclitus    11