things are earth. And Hesiod says earth was produced first of corporeal things; so ancient and popular has the opinion been.) According to this argument, then, no one would be right who either says the first principle is any of the elements other than fire, or supposes it to be denser than air but rarer than water. But (2) if that which is later in generation is prior in nature, and that which is concocted and compounded is later in generation, the contrary of what we have been saying must be true,—water must be prior to air, and earth to water.
Let this suffice, then, as our statement about those who posit one cause such as we mentioned; but the same is true if we suppose more of these, as Empedocles says the matter of things is four bodies. For he too is confronted by consequences some of which are the same as have been mentioned, while others are peculiar to him. For we see these bodies produced from one another, which implies that the same body does not always remain fire or earth (we have spoken about this in our works on nature); and regarding the moving cause and the question whether we must suppose one or two, he must be thought to have spoken neither correctly nor altogether plausibly. [And in general those who speak in this way must do away with change of quality, for on their view cold will not come from hot nor hot from cold. For if it did there would be something that accepted those very contraries, and there would be some one entity that became fire and water, which Empedocles denies.]
As regards Anaxagoras, if one were to suppose that he said there were two elements, the supposition would accord thoroughly with a view which Anaxagoras himself did not state articulately, but which he must have accepted if any one had developed his view. True, to say that in the beginning all things were mixed is absurd both on other grounds and because it follows that they must have existed before in an unmixed form, and because nature does not allow any chance thing to be mixed with any chance thing, and also because on this view
- Theog. 116.
- De Caelo, iii. 7; De Gen. et Corr. ii. 6.
- Ll. 26-30 are probably a gloss.