Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, Hērákleitos ho Ephésios) was a pre-Socratic Hellenic philosopher who lived from about 535 to about 475 BC. He was a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. Heraclitus was and is famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe. This is most tellingly stated in his quote: 'No man ever steps in the same river twice'.

Heraclitus also commented on the elements a lot. Heraclitus considered fire as the most fundamental element. He believed fire gave rise to the other elements and thus to all things. He regarded the soul as being a mixture of fire and water, with fire being the noble part of the soul, and water the ignoble part. A soul should therefore aim toward becoming more full of fire and less full of water: a 'dry' soul was best. According to Heraclitus, worldly pleasures made the soul 'moist', and he considered mastering one's worldly desires to be a noble pursuit which purified the soul's fire. He also posed that the core of transformation is the replacement of one element by another.

Not much has been preserved of Heraclitus' teachings. His words are mere fragments in the works of others now. I would like to give you those who relate to his views on the elements today.

"This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out." [Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V, 14, 104, 2. / Fragment 30]
"All things are an interchange for Fire, and Fire for all things, just like goods for gold and gold for goods." [Plutarch, On the E at Delphi, 388 DE. / Fragment 90]
"The transformations of Fire: first, sea; and of the sea half is earth, half whirlwind [...] Sea pours out, and is measured by the same amount as before it became earth." [Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V, 14, 104, 3. / Fragment 31]
"Fire in its advance will judge and convict all things." [Hippolytus, Refutation of all heresies, IX, 10, 7. / Fragment 66]
The death of fire is the birth of air, and the death of air is the birth of water. [Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IV, 46. / Fragment 76]
"For it is death to souls to become water, and death to water to become earth. But water comes from earth; and from water, soul." [Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VI, 17, 2. / Fragment 36]