The observations concerning the ‘gods’ of the Greeks offered here and periodically in what follows remain, above all, cautious hints and makeshift clues that do not carry much weight. Familiarity with these observations should never lead to the opinion that, by mastering mythological evidence and the poetic description of the same, knowledge of the gods is obtained in such a way that this knowledge enacts the relation to the gods in and through which they bestow themselves to humans. Moreover, the relation of the Greeks to the gods is a knowledge, and not a ‘faith’ in the sense of a willful taking-to-be-true on the basis of an authoritative proclamation. We still do not fathom the inceptual way in which the Greeks were the knowing ones. It is not the case that they were the knowing ones because they possessed a philosophy; rather, it was because they were the knowing ones that they thereby founded the inception of authentic thinking.

Who, then, is the goddess of Heraclitus? Who is Artemis? Artemis is the sister of Apollo, and both were born on the island of Delos. The last strophe of the poem “Song of the Germans,”5 in which Hölderlin poeticized the essence of the Germans, begins with the question that the poet poses to the Muse (i.e., to the ‘angel’ of the German fatherland). The question asks, in the end, about the island Delos, [16] the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The fi nal strophe of the poem reads:


Where is your Delos, where your Olympia,

That we all find ourselves at the highest festival?

Yet, how does the son divine what you,

For yours, Immortal, have long prepared?


Artemis, the sister, who along with her brother hails from Delos, bears the same signs as her brother Apollo: lyre and bow, which in a mysterious way, and hence also in their ‘outer form,’ are the same. The lyre is the symbol of ‘string music’ and its ἁρμονία. Here, the ‘essence’ of play strikes us again. The Greeks know Artemis as the huntress and as the ‘goddess of the hunt.’ Naturally, we believe we know approximately what the concept ‘hunt’ means, and apply this notion in an unreflective way to the goddess of the hunt. Hunting and animals belong in ‘nature’—i.e., φύσις. Artemis is the goddess of φύσις. Her playmates, the Nymphs, play the game of φύσις. This word names the self-opening coming-forth and emerging ‘up’ and upwards into an unconcealed standing-there and rising (πέλειν). The goddess of φύσις is the rising one. Hence she appears in an elevated form. Her beauty is one of lofty and stately appearance. Those maidens to whom Artemis is well-disposed are given great stature.6



5 Hölderlin, Werke (Hellingrath), IV, 129–131.

6 Cf. Homer, Odyssey XX, 71: ... μῆχος δ᾽ἔπορ Ἄρτεμις ἁγνή —“but Artemis the holy gives high stature.”


12    The Inception of Occidental Thinking


Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger