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Plato’s Timæus, “Universum igitur hoc, Cœlum, sive Mundum, sive quo
alio vocabulo gaudet, cognominemus,” according to the translation of
Ficinus; Platonis Op. ix. p. 302. The word _cœlum_, which is employed
in the original, in its ordinary acceptation, signifies _the heavens_,
the visible firmament; as in Ovid, Met. i. 5, “quod tegit omnia,
cœlum.” It is, in most cases, employed in this sense by Lucretius and
by Manilius, as in i. 2. of the former and in i. 14. of the latter.
Occasionally, however, it is employed by both of these writers in the
more general sense of _celestial regions_, in opposition to the earth,
as by Lucretius, i. 65, and by Manilius, i. 352. In the line quoted
by Cicero from Pacuvius, it would seem to mean the place in which the
planets are situated; De Nat. Deor. ii. 91. The Greek word οὐρανὸς may
be regarded as exactly corresponding to the Latin word _cœlum_, and
employed with the same modifications; see Aristotle, De Mundo and De
Cœlo, and Ptolemy, Mag. Const. lib. i. _passim_; see also Stephens’s
Thesaurus, _in loco_. Aratus generally uses it to designate the visible
firmament, as in l. 10, while in l. 32 it means the heavenly regions.
Gesner defines _cœlum_, “Mundus exclusa terra,” and _mundus_, “Cœlum et
quidquid cœli ambitu continetur.” In the passage from Plato, referred
to above, the words which are translated by Ficinus _cœlum_ and
_mundus_, are in the original οὐρανὸς and κόσμος; Ficinus, however, in
various parts of the Timæus, translates οὐρανὸς by the word _mundus_:
see t. ix. p. 306, 311, _et alibi_.

[88] The following passage from Cicero may serve to illustrate the
doctrine of Pliny: “Novem tibi orbibus, vel potius globis, connexa
sunt omnia: quorum unus est cœlestis, extimus, qui reliquos omnes
complectitur, summus ipse Deus, arcens et continens cœlum;” Som. Scip.
§ 4. I may remark, however, that the term here employed by our author
is not _Deus_ but _Numen_.

[89] We have an interesting account of the opinions of Aristotle on
this subject, in a note in M. Ajasson’s translation, ii. 234 _et seq._,
which, as well as the greater part of the notes attached to the second
book of the Natural History, were written by himself in conjunction
with M. Marcus.

[90] The philosophers of antiquity were divided in their opinions
respecting the great question, whether the active properties of
material bodies, which produce the phænomena of nature, are inherent
in them, and necessarily attached to them, or whether they are
bestowed upon them by some superior power or being. The Academics and
Peripatetics generally adopted the latter opinion, the Stoics the
former: Pliny adopts the doctrine of the Stoics; see Enfield’s Hist. of
Phil. i. 229, 283, 331.

[91] I may remark, that the astronomy of our author is, for the most
part, derived from Aristotle; the few points in which they differ will
be stated in the appropriate places.

[92] This doctrine was maintained by Plato in his Timæus, p. 310,
and adopted by Aristotle, De Cœlo, lib. ii. cap. 14, and by Cicero,
De Nat. Deor. ii. 47. The spherical form of the world, οὐρανὸς, and
its circular motion are insisted upon by Ptolemy, in the commencement
of his astronomical treatise Μεγάλη Σύνταξις, Magna Constructio,
frequently referred to by its Arabic title Almagestum, cap. 2. He is
supposed to have made his observations at Alexandria, between the years
125 and 140 A.D. His great astronomical work was translated into Arabic
in the year 827; the original Greek text was first printed in 1538 by
Grynæus, with a commentary by Theon. George of Trebisond published a
Latin version of it in 1541, and a second was published by Camerarius
in 1551, along with Ptolemy’s other works. John Muller, usually called
Regiomontanus, and Purback published an abridgement of the Almagest in
1541. For an account of Ptolemy I may refer to the article in the Biog.
Univ. xxxv. 263 _et seq._, by Delambre, also to Hutton’s Math. Dict.,
_in loco_, and to the high character of him by Whewell, Hist. of the
Inductive Sciences, p. 214.

[93] See Ptolemy, _ubi supra_.

[94] This opinion, which was maintained by Pythagoras, is noticed and
derided by Aristotle, De Cœlo, lib. ii. cap. 9. p. 462-3. A brief
account of Pythagoras’s doctrine on this subject is contained in
Enfield’s Philosophy, i. 386.

[95] Pliny probably here refers to the opinion which Cicero puts into
the mouth of one of the interlocutors in his treatise De Nat. Deor.
ii. 47, “Quid enim pulchrius ea figura, quæ sola omnes alias figuras
complexa continet, quæque nihil asperitatis habere, nihil offensionis
potest, nihil incisum angulis, nihil anfractibus, nihil eminens, nihil

[96] The letter Δ, in the constellation of the triangle; it is named
Δελτωτὸν by Aratus, l. 235; also by Manilius, i. 360. We may remark,
that, except in this one case, the constellations have no visible
resemblance to the objects of which they bear the name.

[97] “Locum hunc Plinii de Galaxia, sive Lactea via, interpretantur
omnes docti.” Alexandre, in Lemaire, i. 227. It may be remarked, that
the word _vertex_ is here used in the sense of the astronomical term
zenith, not to signify the pole.

[98] De Ling. Lat. lib. iv. p. 7, 8. See also the remarks on the
derivation of the word in Gesner, Thes., _in loco_.

[99] “Signifer.” The English term is taken from the Greek word
Ζωδιακὸς, derived from Ζῶον; see Aristotle, De Mundo, cap. 2. p. 602.
The word _Zodiacus_ does not occur in Pliny, nor is it employed by
Ptolemy; he names it λοξὸς κύκλος, _obliquus circulus_; Magn. Const.
i. 7, 13, _et alibi_. It is used by Cicero, but professedly as a Greek
term; Divin. ii. 89, and Arati Phænom. l. 317. It occurs in Hyginus,
p. 57 _et alibi_, and in A. Gellius, 13. 9. Neither _signifer_ taken
substantively, nor _zodiacus_ occur in Lucretius or in Manilius.

[100] The account of the elements, of their nature, difference, and,
more especially, the necessity of their being four, are fully discussed
by Aristotle in various parts of his works, more particularly in his
treatise De Cœlo, lib. iii. cap. 3, 4 and 5, lib. iv. cap. 5, and De
Gener. et Cor. lib. ii. cap. 2, 3, 4 and 5. For a judicious summary of
the opinions of Aristotle on this subject, I may refer to Stanley’s
History of Philosophy; Aristotle, doctrines of, p. 2. l. 7, and to
Enfield, i. 764 _et seq._ For the Epicurean doctrine, see Lucretius, i.
764 _et seq._

[101] Although the word _planeta_, as taken from the Greek πλανήτης, is
inserted in the title of this chapter, it does not occur in any part
of the text. It is not found either in Lucretius, Manilius, or Seneca,
nor, I believe, was it used by any of their contemporaries, except
Hyginus, p. 76. The planets were generally styled _stellæ erraticæ_,
_errantes_, or _vagæ_, _sidera palantia_, as in Lucretius, ii. 1030,
or simply the _five stars_, as in Cicero, De Nat. Deor. ii. 51, and
in Seneca, Nat. Quæst. vii. 24. Pliny, by including the sun and moon,
makes the number seven. Aratus calls them πέντ’ ἄστερες, l. 454.

[102] “Aër.” “Circumfusa undique est (terra) hac animabili spirabilique
natura, cui nomen est aër; Græcum illud quidem, sed perceptum jam tamen
usu a nobis;” Cicero, De Nat. Deor. ii. 91.

[103] “universi cardine.” “Revolutionis, ut aiunt, centro. Idem
Plinius, hoc ipso libro, cap. 64, terram cœli cardinem esse dicit;”
Alexandre, in Lem. i. 228. On this subject I may refer to Ptolemy,
Magn. Const, lib. i. cap. 3, 4, 6. See also Apuleius, near the
commencement of his treatise De Mundo.

[104] “Sidera.” The word _sidus_ is used, in most cases, for one of the
heavenly bodies generally, sometimes for what we term a constellation,
a particular assemblage of them, and sometimes specially for an
individual star. Manilius employs the word in all these senses, as will
appear by the three following passages respectively; the first taken
from the opening of his poem,

“Carmine divinas artes, et conscia fati

The second,

“Hæc igitur texunt æquali sidera tractu
Ignibus in varias cœlum laqueantia formas.” i. 275, 276.

The third

“... pectus, fulgenti sidere clarius;” i. 356.

In the Fasti of Ovid, we have examples of the two latter of these

“Ex Ariadnæo sidere nosse potes;” v. 316.

“Et canis (Icarium dicunt) quo sidere noto
Tosta sitit tellus;” iv. 939, 940.

Lucretius appears always to employ the term in the general sense. J.
Obsequens applies the word _sidus_ to a meteor; “sidus ingens cœlo
demissum,” cap. 16. In a subsequent part of this book, chap. 18 _et
seq._, our author more particularly restricts the term _sidus_ to the

[105] Cicero remarks concerning them; “quæ (stellæ) falso vocantur
errantes;” De Nat. Deor. ii. 51.

[106] “... vices dierum alternat et noctium, quum sidera præsens
occultat, illustrat absens;” Hard. in Lem. i. 230.

[107] “ceteris sideribus.” According to Hardouin, _ubi supra_, “nimium
stellis errantibus.” There is, however, nothing in the expression of
our author which sanctions this limitation.

[108] See Iliad, iii. 277, and Od. xii. 323.

[109] It is remarked by Enfield, Hist. of Phil. ii. 131, that “with
respect to philosophical opinions, Pliny did not rigidly adhere to any
sect.... He reprobates the Epicurean tenet of an infinity of worlds;
favours the Pythagorean notion of the harmony of the spheres; speaks
of the universe as God, after the manner of the Stoics, and sometimes
seems to pass over into the field of the Sceptics. For the most part,
however, he leans to the doctrine of Epicurus.”

[110] “Si alius est Deus quam sol,” Alexandre in Lem. i. 230. Or
rather, if there be any God distinct from the world; for the latter
part of the sentence can scarcely apply to the sun. Poinsinet and
Ajasson, however, adopt the same opinion with M. Alexandre; they
translate the passage, “s’il en est autre que le soleil,” i. 17 and ii.

[111] “totus animæ, totus animi;” “Anima est qua vivimus, animus quo
sapimus.” Hard. in Lem. i. 230, 231. The distinction between these two
words is accurately pointed out by Lucretius, iii. 137 _et seq._

[112] “fecerunt (Athenienses) Contumeliæ fanum et Impudentiæ.” Cicero,
De Leg. ii. 28. See also Bossuet, Discours sur l’Histoire univ. i. 250.

[113] The account which Cicero gives us of the opinions of Democritus
scarcely agrees with the statement in the text; see De Nat. Deor. i.

[114] “In varios divisit Deos numen unicum, quod Plinio cœlum est aut
mundus; ejusque singulas partes, aut, ut philosophi aiunt, attributa,
separatim coluit;” Alexandre in Lemaire, i. 231.

[115] “Febrem autem ad minus nocendum, templis celebrant, quorum adhuc
unum in Palatio....” Val. Max. ii. 6; see also Ælian, Var. Hist. xii.
11. It is not easy to ascertain the precise meaning of the terms
_Fanum_, _Ædes_, and _Templum_, which are employed in this place by
Pliny and Val. Maximus. Gesner defines _Fanum_ “area templi et solium,
_templum_ vero ædificium;” but this distinction, as he informs us,
is not always accurately observed; there appears to be still less
distinction between _Ædes_ and _Templum_; see his Thesaurus _in loco_,
also Bailey’s Facciolati _in loco_.

[116] “Orbona est Orbitalis dea.” Hardouin in Lemaire, i. 231.

[117] “Appositos sibi statim ab ortu custodes credebant, quos viri
Genios, Junones fœminæ vocabant.” Hardouin in Lemaire, i. 232. See
Tibullus, 4. 6. 1, and Seneca, Epist. 110, _sub init._

[118] We may suppose that our author here refers to the popular
mythology of the Egyptians; the “fœtidi cibi” are mentioned by Juvenal;
“Porrum et cæpe nefas violare et frangere morsu,” xv. 9; and Pliny, in
a subsequent part of his work, xix. 32, remarks, “Allium cæpeque inter
Deos in jurejurando habet Ægyptus.”

[119] See Cicero, De Nat. Deor. i. 42 _et alibi_, for an illustration
of these remarks of Pliny.

[120] This sentiment is elegantly expressed by Cicero, De Nat. Deor.
ii. 62, and by Horace, Od. iii. 3. 9 _et seq._ It does not appear,
however, that any of the Romans, except Romulus, were deified, previous
to the adulatory period of the Empire.

[121] “Planetarum nempe, qui omnes nomina mutuantur a diis.” Alexandre
in Lemaire, i. 234.

[122] This remark may be illustrated by the following passage from
Cicero, in the first book of his treatise De Nat. Deor. Speaking of
the doctrine of Zeno, he says, “neque enim Jovem, neque Junonem, neque
Vestam, neque quemquam, qui ita appelletur, in deorum habet numero:
sed rebus inanimis, atque mutis, per quandam significationem, hæc docet
tributa nomina.” “Idemque (Chrysippus) disputat, æthera esse eum,
quem homines Jovem appellant: quique aër per maria manaret, eum esse
Neptunum: terramque eam esse, quæ Ceres diceretur: similique ratione
persequitur vocabula reliquorum deorum.”

[123] The following remarks of Lucretius and of Cicero may serve to
illustrate the opinion here expressed by our author:—

“Omnis enim per se Divum natura necesse est Immortali ævo summa cum
pace fruatur, Semota ab nostris rebus, sejunctaque longe;” Lucretius,
i. 57-59.

“Quod æternum beatumque sit, id nec habere ipsum negotii quidquam, nec
exhibere alteri; itaque neque ira neque gratia teneri, quod, quæ talia
essent, imbecilla essent omnia.” Cicero, De Nat. Deor. i. 45.

[124] The author here alludes to the figures of the Egyptian deities
that were engraven on rings.

[125] His specific office was to execute vengeance on the impious.

[126] “sola utramque paginam facit.” The words _utraque pagina_
generally refer to the two sides of the same sheet, but, in this
passage, they probably mean the contiguous portions of the same surface.

[127] “astroque suo eventu assignat;” the word _astrum_ appears to
be synonymous with _sidus_, generally signifying a single star, and,
occasionally, a constellation; as in Manilius, i. 541, 2.

“... quantis bis sena ferantur
Finibus astra....”

It is also used by synecdoche for the heavens, as is the case with the
English word _stars_. See Gesner’s Thesaurus.

[128] “Quæ si suscipiamus, pedis offensio nobis ... et sternutamenta
erunt observanda.” Cicero, De Nat. Deor. ii. 84.

[129] “Divus Augustus.” The epithet _divus_ may be regarded as merely
a term of court etiquette, because all the Emperors after death were
deified _ex officio_.

[130] We learn the exact nature of this ominous accident from
Suetonius; “... si mane sibi calceus perperam, et sinister pro dextro
induceretur;” Augustus, Cap. 92. From this passage it would appear,
that the Roman sandals were made, as we term it, right and left.

[131] It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the opinions here
stated respecting the Deity are taken partly from the tenets of the
Epicureans, combined with the Stoical doctrine of Fate. The examples
which are adduced to prove the power of fate over the Deity are, for
the most part, rather verbal than essential.

[132] “affixa mundo.” The peculiar use of the word _mundus_ in this
passage is worthy of remark, in connexion with note [86], ch. 1.
page 13.

[133] We have many references in Pliny to the influence of the
stars upon the earth and its inhabitants, constituting what was
formerly regarded as so important a science, judicial astrology.
Ptolemy has drawn up a regular code of it in his “Centum dicta,” or
“Centiloquiums.” We have a highly interesting account of the supposed
science, its origin, progress, and general principles, in Whewell’s
History of the Inductive Sciences, p. 293 _et seq._ I may also refer to
the same work for a sketch of the history of astronomy among the Greeks
and the other nations of antiquity.

[134] There are certain metaphorical expressions, which have originated
from this opinion, adopted by the moderns; “his star is set;” “the star
of his fortune,” &c.

[135] Ovid, when he compares Phaëton to a falling star, remarks,
concerning this meteor,—

“Etsi non cecidit, potuit cecidisse videri.” Metam. ii. 322.

[136] Manilius supposes that comets are produced and rendered luminous
by an operation very similar to the one described in the text; i. 815
_et seq._ Seneca, in the commencement of his Nat. Quæst., and in other
parts of the same treatise, refers to this subject. His remarks may be
worth perusing by those who are curious to learn the hypotheses of the
ancients on subjects of natural science. We may remark, that Seneca’s
opinions are, on many points, more correct than our author’s.

[137] The author probably refers to that part of his work in which he
treats on agriculture, particularly to the 17th and 18th books.

[138] The æra of the Olympiads commenced in the year 776 before
Christ; each olympiad consists of 4 years; the 58th olympiad will
therefore include the interval 548 to 544 B.C. The 21st vol. of the
“Universal History” consists entirely of a “chronological table,” and
we have a useful table of the same kind in Brewster’s Encycl., article

[139] “rerum fores aperuisse ... traditur.” An account of the astronomy
of Anaximander is contained in Brewster’s Encycl., article “Astronomy,”
p. 587, and in the article “Anaximander” in the supplement to the same
work by Scott of Aberdeen. I may remark, that these two accounts do
not quite agree in their estimate of his merits; the latter author
considers his opinions more correct. We have also an account of
Anaximander in Stanley, pt. 2. p. 1 _et seq._, and in Enfield, i. 154
_et seq._

[140] In the translation of Ajasson, ii. 261-7, we have some valuable
observations by Marcus, respecting the origin and progress of astronomy
among the Greeks, and the share which the individuals mentioned in the
text respectively had in its advancement; also some interesting remarks
on the history of Atlas. Diodorus Siculus says, that “he was the first
that discovered the knowledge of the sphere; whence arose the common
opinion, that he carried the world upon his shoulders.” Booth’s trans.
p. 115.

[141] “nunc relicto mundi ipsius corpore, reliqua inter cœlum terrasque
tractentur.” I have already had occasion to remark upon the various
modes in which the author uses the word _mundus_; by _cœlum_, in
this passage, he means the body or region beyond the planets, which
is conceived to contain the fixed stars. _Sphæra_, in the preceding
sentence, may be supposed to mean the celestial globe.

[142] “ac trigesimo anno ad brevissima sedis suæ principia regredi;” I
confess myself unable to offer any literal explanation of this passage;
nor do the remarks of the commentators appear to me satisfactory; see
Hardouin and Alexandre in Lemaire, ii. 241, 2. It is translated by
Ajasson “en trente ans il reviens à l’espace minime d’où il est parti.”
The period of the sidereal revolutions of the planets, as stated by
Mrs. Somerville, in her “Mechanism of the Heavens,” and by Sir J.
Herschel, in his “Treatise on Astronomy,” are respectively as follows:—

days. days.
Mercury 87·9705 87·9692580
Venus 224·7 224·7007869
Earth 365·2564 365·2563612
Mars 686·99 686·9796458
Jupiter 4332·65 4332·5848212
Saturn 10759·4 10759·2198174

Somerville, p. 358. Herschel, p. 416.

[143] “‘mundo;’ hoc est, cœlo inerrantium stellarum.” Hardouin, in
Lemaire, ii. 242.

[144] Our author supposes, that the spectator has his face directed
towards the south, as is the case with the modern observers. We are,
however, informed by Hardouin, that this was not the uniform practice
among the ancients; see the remarks of Alexandre in Lemaire, ii. 242,
and of Marcus in Ajasson, ii. 269.

[145] The _constant revolution_ refers to the apparent daily
motion; the _opposite direction_ to their annual course through the
zodiac. Ptolemy gives an account of this double motion in his Magna
Constructio, i. 7.

[146] For the exact period, according to Somerville and Herschel, see
note [142], p. 27.

[147] Aristotle informs us, that Mars was also called Hercules or
Pyrosis; De Mundo, cap. ii. p. 602. See also Apuleius, De Mundo, § 710.
Hyginus is said by Hardouin to give the name of Hercules to the planet
Mars, but this appears to be an inaccuracy; he describes the planet
under its ordinary appellation; lib. ii. p. 62; and ii. 78, 9.

[148] Cicero, speaking of the period of Mars, says, “Quatuor et viginti
mensibus, sex, ut opinor, diebus minus;” De Nat. Deor. For the exact
period, see note [142], p. 27.

[149] “Sed ut observatio umbrarum ejus redeat ad notas.” According to
the interpretation of Hardouin, “Ad easdem lineas in solari horologio.”
Lemaire, ii. 243.

[150] This is an example of the mode of computation which we meet with
among the ancients, where, in speaking of the period of a revolution,
both the time preceding and that following the interval are included.

[151] The division of the planets into superior and inferior was not
known to Aristotle, De Mundo, cap. ii. p. 602, to Plato, Timæus, p.
318, 319, or the older Greek astronomers. It was first made by the
Egyptians, and was transferred from them to the Romans. It is one of
the points in which our author differs from Aristotle. See the remarks
of Marcus in Ajasson, ii. 242 _et seq._ Marcus notices the various
points which prove the deficiency of Pliny’s knowledge of astronomy; he
particularizes the four following:—his ignorance of the true situation
of the constellations; his erroneous opinion respecting the cause of
the seasons; his account of the phases of the moon, and of the position
of the cardinal points. He appears not to have been aware, that certain
astronomical phænomena undergo a regular progression, but supposed that
they remained, at the time when he wrote, in the same state as in the
age of Hipparchus or the original observers. Columella, when treating
on these subjects, describes the phænomena according to the ancient
calculation, but he informs us, that he adopts it, because it was the
one in popular use, and better known by the farmers (De Re Rust. ix.
14), while Pliny appears not to have been aware of the inaccuracy.

[152] “Modo solem antegrediens, modo subsequens.” Hardouin in Lemaire,
ii. 243.

[153] It was not known to the earlier writers that Lucifer and Vesper
were the same star, differently situated with respect to the Sun.
Playfair remarks, that Venus is the only planet mentioned in the sacred
writings, and in the most ancient poets, such as Hesiod and Homer;
Outlines, ii. 156.

[154] There has been much discussion among the commentators respecting
the correctness of the figures in the text; according to the æra of the
olympiads, the date referred to will be between the years 750 and 754
B.C.; the foundation of Rome is commonly referred to the year 753 B.C.
See the remarks of Marcus in Ajasson, ii. 278, 9.

[155] Aristotle informs us, that it was called either Phosphorus, Juno,
or Venus; De Mundo, cap. 2. t. i. p. 602. See also Hyginus, Poet. Astr.
lib. iii. p. 76, 7; and Apuleius, De Mundo, § 710.

[156] It will be scarcely necessary to refer the reader to the
well-known commencement of Lucretius’s poem for the illustration of
this passage; it is remarkable that Pliny does not refer to this writer.

[157] The periodical revolution of Venus is 224·7 days, see note
[142], p. 27. Its greatest elongation is 47° 1′; Somerville, § 641.
p. 391.

[158] According to Aristotle, this planet had the three appellations
of Stilbon, Mercury, and Apollo; De Mundo, cap. 2. p. 602; see also
Apuleius, De Mundo, § 710. Cicero inverts the order of the planets;
he places Mercury next to Mars, and says of Venus, that it is “infima
quinque errantium, terræque proxima;” De Nat. Deor. ii. 53. Aristotle
places the stars in the same order, _ubi supra_, and he is followed in
this by Apuleius, _ubi supra_; this appears to have been the case with
the Stoics generally; see Enfield’s Phil. i. 339.

[159] For the periodical revolution of Mercury see note[142], p. 27.
Its greatest elongation, according to Playfair, p. 160, is 28°. Mrs.
Somerville, p. 386, states it to be 28° 8′. Ptolemy supposed it to be

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