Anaximander's Saying

It is considered to be the oldest saying of Western thinking. Anaximander is said to have lived on the island of Samos from the end of the seventh century until the middle of the sixth.

According to the generally accepted text the fragment reads:

ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν.

Whence things have their coming into being there they must also perish according to necessity; for they must pay a penalty and he judged for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time.

Thus the youthful Nietzsche's translation in his treatise of 1873 entitled "Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks." This treatise was first published posthumously in 1903, thirty years after its composition. It is based on a lecture course Nietzsche had given several times in Basle in the early 1870s under the title "The Pre-Platonic Philosophers with Interpretation of Selected Fragments."

In the same year, 1903, in which Nietzsche's treatise first became publicly available, Hermann Diets' Pre-Socratic Fragments [Fragmente der Vorsokratiker] appeared. It contained texts critically established according to the methods of modem classical philology, together with a translation. The work is dedicated to Wilhelm Dilthey. Diels translates Anaximander's saying as follows:

But where things derive their coming into being, there their passing away also occurs according to necessity; for they pay each other punishment and penalty for their dastardliness according to firmly established time.