Concordia discors (763 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


The doctrine of concordia discors - the idea that the numerous conflicts between the four elements in nature (air, earth, fire and water) paradoxically create an overall harmony in the world - can be traced back to the Greek philosophers, Pythagoras (c. 580-500 B.C.), Heraclitus (c. 544-483 B.C.) and Empedocles (c. 490-430 B.C.). The Latin phrase which is used to encapsulate the idea was first used by Horace in the twelfth epistle of his first book (c. 20 B.C.) to describe Empedocles' philosophy that the world is explained and shaped by a perpetual strife between the four elements, ordered by love into a jarring unity, or, as the musical metaphor held it, a “discordant harmony”. This cosmology was given added prevalence a …

Citation: Gordon, Ian. "Concordia discors". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 January 2007 [, accessed 24 June 2021.]

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here