"Time is a child moving counters in a game; the royal power is a child's." ( Fragment 52 )Time
conquers all. Both king and country; heaven and earth. Ostensibly, the 'royal power' Heraclitus presents is time's inexorable march on the road to victory. No opposing piece on the board can refuse to yield, for the one thing all men have in common is death
. So too, any opponent who uses the pieces in movement towards promoting an idea, warring for land, fighting for a country or way of life; they will all lose everything in the end.
Since several of his ideas are depicted through puns, alliteration and every other manner of wordplay conceivable, it pays to examine his choice of 'nepia' for the ancient Greek answer to the word 'child
' -- it is a child too young to even speak. Within the fragment itself, this can imply that the child probably has little to no understanding of the rules of the game. Its cosmic
movement, in accordance with the laws of the universe, is otherwise not directed by any agency
. Further, since the rules of the game are set
, but no one knows how the child will move, no one can know how the game will play out until it's over.
As an elliptic writer, it's likely he used the child metaphor in connection to more than one other aphorism
, as well. For instance, in comparison with,
"The fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random." ( 124 )
Again, we are told the child moves seemingly without purpose
, the creation
of many worlds
just as likely as ours, each with its own accordant logos
( and maybe its own Heraclitus! ). Each just as ugly and beatific as the next. Perhaps a rebuke against looking to greener pastures. The perpetual youth of the child points to a claim for the only universal constant in H's ontology
. Time as the embodiment of change
is the only thing in existence that is not changed itself. As remarked by Aristotle
"The sun is , as H. states, not only new each day, but forever continually new." ( 6 )
Since according to this view, time has no beginning or end, it follows he is an eternalist: someone for whom the distinctions between past, present and future are a product of perception
. Being punny again, H states,
"The name of the bow is life, but its work is death." ( 48 )
The child moves, without malice or forethought, and takes a pawn off the board or rejuvenates its own queen if the rules say it can. Time is merely indifferent to us, sub specie aeternitatus.