Aletheia (Heraclitus, Fragment B 16)


One need not begin with a seemingly capricious etymology of άληθεσία in order to experience how universally the presencing of what is present comes to language only in shining, self-manifesting, lying-before, arising, bringing- itself-before, and in assuming an outward appearance.

All this, in its undisturbed harmony, would be unthinkable within Greek existence and language if remaining-concealed/remaining-unconcealed did not hold sway as that which really has no need to bring itself expressly to language, since this language itself arises from it.

Accordingly, the Greek experience in the case of Odysseus does not proceed from the premise that the guests present are represented as subjects who in their subjective behavior fail to grasp weeping Odysseus as an object of their perception. On the contrary, what governs the Greek experience is a concealment surrounding the one in tears, a concealment which isolates him from the others. Homer does not say: Odysseus concealed his tears. Nor does the poet say: Odysseus concealed himself as one weeping. Rather, he says: Odysseus remained concealed. We must ponder this matter ever more strenuously, even at the risk of becoming diffuse and fastidious. A lack of sufficient insight into this problem will mean, for us, that Plato's interpretation of presencing as ἰδέα remains either arbitrary or accidental.

A few verses before the one we have cited. Homer says (1. 86): αἴδετο γάρ Φαίηκας ύπ' όφρύσι δάκρυα λείβων. In keeping with idiomatic German Voss translates: (Odysseus covered his head) "so that the Phaeacians could not see his wet lashes." Voss in fact leaves the key word untranslated: αϊδετο. Odysseus shied away—as one shedding tears before the Phaeacians. But doesn't this quite clearly mean the same as: he hid himself before the Phaeacians out of a sense of shame? Or must we also think shying away, αίδώς, from remaining-concealed, granted that we are striving to get closer to its essence as the Greeks experienced it? Then "to shy away," would mean to withdraw and remain concealed in reluctance or restraint [Verhoffen], keeping to oneself.

Typically Greek, this poetic vision of Odysseus weeping beneath his cloak makes clear how the poet feels the governance of presencing—a meaning of Being which, though still unthought, has already become destiny.


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