interesting to think about

One point on which I disagree with Nicola Mureddu is his comparison of the paradoxical pairings on the Olbian bone tablets with some of the more enigmatic phrases found in the fragments of the Ephesian philosopher Herakleitos, whom he feels has little to do with Dionysos. I feel that this is mistaken for two reasons; first, Herakleitos’ logoi are incredibly Dionysian and not just when he’s commenting on Bacchic cult practice, using mystery terminology, a couple of his fragments circulated under the name of Orpheus, etc. and secondly I think a more fruitful comparison can be made with Empedokles of Akragas who (like the probable author of the bone tablets, Pharnabazos) was an itinerant religious specialist (an agyrtes or Orpheotelest in the words of Plato) who practiced divination and the healing arts. His central conception was that there were four “roots” (ῥιζώματα) or generative substances (i.e. Air, Earth, Fire and Water) out of which all things arise and have their being through an admixture and subtraction of these primal elemental powers (identified with Hera, Haides, Zeus and Nestis, a local form of the Goddess Persephone) which are acted upon by Love (φιλότης, the force of attraction) and Strife (νεῖκος, the cause of separation.) Empedokles goes on to elaborate a complex cosmology seemingly full of drug-fueled hallucinations including cyclical births and deaths of the world, creatures that are half-human and half-beast as well as others that are hermaphrodites, and daimones from an alien realm trapped in mortal flesh like some kind of Philip K. Dick novel. It’s cool shit, and I sense a similar mind at work behind the bone tablets; though I also detect the coincidentia oppositorum of Herakleitos and the Sol Niger, so who knows? It’s certainly interesting to think about.