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Headword: *ei(marme/nh
Adler number: epsiloniota,144
Translated headword: fate
Vetting Status: high
They said that fate is a necessary power and that it sets matter in motion.[1] And Plato calls chance 'cause that is produced incidentally as a coincidental occurrence either of nature or of choice'.[2] And Democritus said: all of us have some things from god and other things from the chance of fate and those extremely little bodies that manifestly move upwards and downwards and both sway and get entangled and split apart and move round out of necessity.[3] He claimed that because of these things, not only do [they] distribute wealth, poverty, disease, health, slavery, freedom, war, and peace, but also allot virtue and vice. And others have said different things [on the subject] and have arrayed themselves for battle against one another.
Greek Original:
*ei(marme/nh: o(/ti ei(marme/nhn a)nagkastikh\n du/namin ei)=pon ei)=nai kai\ th=s u(/lhs kinhtikh/n. th\n de\ tu/xhn o( *pla/twn ai)ti/an le/gei kata\ sumbebhko\s ginome/nhn h)\ su/mptwma fu/sews h)\ proaire/sews. kai\ *dhmo/kritos ei)=pe: ta\ me\n e)k qeou= pa/ntes e)/xomen, ta\ de\ e)k th=s ei(marme/nhs tu/xhs kai\ tw=n smikrota/twn e)kei/nwn swma/twn kai\ prodh/lws ferome/nwn a)/nw kai\ ka/tw pallome/nwn te kai\ periplekome/nwn kai\ dii+stame/nwn kai\ periferome/nwn e)c a)na/gkhs: a)f' w(=n ou) mo/non plou=ton kai\ peni/an kai\ no/son kai\ u(gei/an kai\ doulei/an kai\ e)leuqeri/an kai\ po/lemon kai\ ei)rh/nhn diane/mein a)lla\ kai\ a)reth\n kai\ kaki/an a)poklhrou=n e)/fhsen. kai\ a)/lloi a)/lla ei)po/ntes a)ntepareta/canto a)llh/lois.
George the Monk, Chronicon 81.17-82.4. This passage is introduced by oi( de\ tu/xhn kai\ ei(marme/nhn e)do/casan "others glorified chance and fate," contrasted with supporters of atomic theories discussed in the preceding paragraph.
For this headword see also epsiloniota 142, epsiloniota 143.
[1] The reference is probably to the Stoics, who maintained that: (i) the substance of fate is a 'pneumatic' power or reason according to which what has happened has happened, what is happening is happening and what will happen will happen (SVF, 2.913, that is to say, all events occur by fate; SVF 2.915); (ii) that there is no difference between fate and necessity (SVF 2.916); and (iii) that fate is an unalterable sequence of causes (which means that it is an order and an unbreakable chain; SVF 2., 918). For an English translation of some of these passages (with philosophical commentary) see Long & Sedley (1987), section 55.
[2] This assertion is misleading to some extent. First, Plato apparently never calls chance an 'incidental cause' (see Laws 889A-C). Second, the thesis that chance (tyche) is an incidental cause actually is Aristotle's. In fact, he says that when in the case of things done for the sake of one thing something else is produced incidentally, the consequence is said to be by chance (Physics 196b29-33; see also 198b36-199a5). For some details on the issue of chance in Aristotle see Charlton (1992), 105-111, and Boeri (1995).
[3] The attribution of this doctrine to Democritus of Abdera is curious, since he and his predecessor Leucippus of Miletus are credited with maintaining that there is no chance in the world but all things happen according to necessity (see Leucippus B 2, DK and Democritus B 118-119 DK; cf. also Democritus A 1, DK = Diogenes Laertius 9.45: 'everything happens according to necessity, for the cause of the generation of all things is the vortex, which he calls "necessity"'). However the expression 'the chance of fate' in the Suda passage seems to be identified with necessity (insofar as fate is something necessary). The passage also contains certain Democritean terminology ('to entangle', (periple/kesqai), said of the atoms, 'those extremely little bodies'; see Diogenes Laertius 9.31 = A1 DK and Simplicius, Commentary on the De caelo 295.11 ff.). Necessity is understood as a sequence of natural causes or rather as a sort of mechanical law ruling the universe. For further information on the issue of chance and necessity in the Atomists, see Kirk, Raven & Schofield (1991) 416-420.
Arnim, H. von: Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (Leipzig: Teubner) 1903-1905, 3 volumes (cited SVF; the first number indicates the volume and the second one the text number)
Boeri, M.D., 'Chance and Teleology in Aristotle's Physics', in International Philosophical Quarterly, vol. XXXV, Nº 1 Issue Nº 137 (1995), 87-96
Charlton, W., Aristotle. Physics. Books I and II. Translated with Introduction, Commentary, Note on Recent Work, and Revised Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press) 1992
Diels, H., Kranz, W., Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin: Weidmann) 1972 (reprinted). (Quoted by the initials DK; the letter 'A' refers to Democritus' testimonies and the letter 'B' to Democritus' fragments)
Kirk, G.S., Raven, J.E. & Schofield, M., The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1991 (Second Edition)
Long, A.A. & Sedley, D.N. The Hellenistic Philosophers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1987 vol. 1
Keywords: Christianity; definition; economics; ethics; historiography; medicine; philosophy; religion; science and technology
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 24 October 2000@10:25:29.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Minor alterations to translation; set status.) on 24 October 2000@11:27:11.
William Hutton on 24 October 2000@11:29:22.
David Whitehead (added note; restorative and other cosmetics) on 24 December 2002@09:42:28.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 4 December 2005@09:10:01.
Catharine Roth (added cross-references) on 11 August 2009@13:51:48.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 12 August 2009@03:07:54.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 25 November 2012@08:22:16.
Catharine Roth (tweaks) on 27 December 2012@17:33:49.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 22 April 2016@03:48:32.
Catharine Roth (expanded note) on 12 April 2018@19:59:23.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation and note, after discussion with M. Boeri) on 13 April 2018@22:55:59.


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