from Aristotle's Metaphysics, * 1014b26-1015a19, translated by W. D. Ross, Greek Fonts
|ATURE' means the primary material of which any natural object consists or out of which it is made, which is relatively unshaped and cannot be changed from its own potency, as e.g. bronze is said to be the nature of a statue and of bronze utensils, and wood the nature of wooden things; and so in all other cases; for when a product is made out of these materials, the first matter is preserved throughout. For it is in this way that people call the elements of natural objects also their nature, some naming fire, others earth, others air, others water, others something else of the sort, and some naming more than one of these, and others all of them. 'Nature' means the essence of natural objects, as with those who say the nature is the primary mode of composition, or as Empedocles says: "Nothing that is has a nature, / But only mixing and parting of the mixed, / And nature is but a name given them by men."||
ἔτι δὲ φύσις λέγεται ἐξ οὗ πρώτου ἢ ἔστιν ἢ γίγνεταί τι τῶν φύσει ὄντων͵ ἀρρυθμίστου ὄντος καὶ ἀμεταβλήτου ἐκ τῆς δυνάμεως τῆς αὑτοῦ͵ οἷον ἀνδριάντος καὶ τῶν σκευῶν τῶν χαλκῶν ὁ χαλκὸς ἡ φύσις λέγεται͵ τῶν δὲ ξυλίνων ξύλον· ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων· ἐκ τούτων γάρ ἐστιν ἕκαστον διασωζομένης τῆς πρώτης ὕλης· τοῦτον γὰρ τὸν τρόπον καὶ τῶν φύσει ὄντων τὰ στοιχεῖά φασιν εἶναι φύσιν͵ οἱ μὲν πῦρ οἱ δὲ γῆν οἱ δ΄ ἀέρα οἱ δ΄ ὕδωρ οἱ δ΄ ἄλλο τι τοιοῦτον λέγοντες͵ οἱ δ΄ ἔνια τούτων οἱ δὲ πάντα ταῦτα. ἔτι δ΄ ἄλλον τρόπον λέγεται ἡ φύσις ἡ τῶν φύσει ὄντων οὐσία͵ οἷον οἱ λέγοντες τὴν φύσιν εἶναι τὴν πρώτην σύνθεσιν͵ ἢ ὥσπερ Ἐμπεδοκλῆς λέγει ὅτι φύσις οὐδενὸς ἔστιν ἐόντων͵ ἀλλὰ μόνον μῖξίς τε διάλλαξίς τε μιγέντων ἔστι͵ φύσις δ΄ ἐπὶ τοῖς ὀνομάζεται ἀνθρώποισιν.
Reference address : http://ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/aristotle_nature.asp