Measuring Authority, Authoritative Measures

Laura M. Slatkin

in The Moral Authority of Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226136806
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226136820 | DOI:
Measuring Authority, Authoritative Measures

Show Summary Details


If in Greek tragedy the Furies pursue human beings who violate the laws of kinship—of family exchanges properly conducted, taboos properly observed—in Heraclitus's discourse they pursue the potentially transgressive sun. Fragment 94 of this pre-Socratic philosopher (ca. 500 BCE) offers an apparent paradox, not so much in its use of mythological personae to formulate a theory of cosmic structure (a practice common to all surviving sixth-century natural philosophy) as in its account of the relations among these figures. Throughout early Greek literature, the all-seeing and all-revealing sun bears witness to every action in both the human and the divine domains, functioning as the ultimate monitor of events that even the gods wish to conceal. Here, however, the sun's own celestial operations are themselves subject to the scrutiny of the shadowy, chthonic Furies, irascible informants whose realm lies deep within the earth.

Keywords: kinship; family exchanges; pre-Socratic philosophy; mythological personae; natural philosophy; celestial operations

Chapter.  10020 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.