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when it is pent up in a cloud; nature restraining the sound whilst
the vapour is struggling to escape, but when it does escape, the
sound bursting forth, as is the case with bladders that are distended
with air. It is possible also that the spirit, whatever it be, may be
kindled by friction, when it is so violently projected. It is possible
that, by the dashing of the two clouds, the lightning may flash out,
as is the case when two stones are struck against each other. But
all these things appear to be casual. Hence there are thunderbolts
which produce no effect, and proceed from no immediate actual cause;
by these mountains and seas are struck, and no injury is done. Those
which prognosticate future events proceed from on high and from stated
causes, and they come from their peculiar stars[340].


In like manner I would not deny that winds, or rather sudden gusts,
are produced by the arid and dry vapours of the earth; that air may
also be exhaled from water, which can neither be condensed into a mist,
nor compressed into a cloud; that it may be also driven forward by
the impulse of the sun, since by the term ‘wind’ we mean nothing more
than a current of air, by whatever means it may be produced[341]. For
we observe winds to proceed from rivers and bays, and from the sea,
even when it is tranquil; while others, which are named _Altani_, rise
up from the earth; when they come back from the sea they are named
_Tropæi_, but if they go straight on, _Apogæi_[342].

(44.) The windings and the numerous peaks of mountains, their ridges,
bent into angles or broken into defiles, with the hollow valleys, by
their irregular forms, cleaving the air which rebounds from them (which
is also the cause why voices are, in many cases, repeated several times
in succession), give rise to winds.

(45.) There are certain caves, such as that on the coast of Dalmatia,
with a vast perpendicular chasm, into which, if a light weight only be
let down, and although the day be calm, a squall issues from it like a
whirlwind. The name of the place is Senta. And also, in the province
of Cyrenaica, there is a certain rock, said to be sacred to the south
wind, which it is profane for a human hand to touch, as the south wind
immediately rolls forwards clouds of sand[343]. There are also, in many
houses, artificial cavities, formed in the walls[344], which produce
currents of air; none of these are without their appropriate cause.


But there is a great difference between a gale and a wind[345]. The
former are uniform and appear to rush forth[346]; they are felt, not
in certain spots only, but over whole countries, not forming breezes
or squalls, but violent storms[347]. Whether they be produced by the
constant revolution of the world and the opposite motion of the stars,
or whether they both of them depend on the generative spirit of the
nature of things, wandering, as it were, up and down in her womb, or
whether the air be scourged by the irregular strokes of the wandering
stars[348], or the various projections of their rays, or whether they,
each of them, proceed from their own stars, among which are those that
are nearest to us, or whether they descend from those that are fixed
in the heavens, it is manifest that they are all governed by a law of
nature, which is not altogether unknown, although it be not completely

(46.) More than twenty old Greek writers have published their
observations upon this subject. And this is the more remarkable, seeing
that there is so much discord in the world, and that it is divided into
different kingdoms, that is into separate members, that there should
have been so many who have paid attention to these subjects, which are
so difficult to investigate. Especially when we consider the wars and
the treachery which everywhere prevail; while pirates, the enemies of
the human race, have possession of all the modes of communication,
so that, at this time, a person may acquire more correct information
about a country from the writings of those who have never been there,
than from the inhabitants themselves. Whereas, at this day, in the
blessed peace which we enjoy, under a prince who so greatly encourages
the advancement of the arts, no new inquiries are set on foot, nor
do we even make ourselves thoroughly masters of the discoveries of
the ancients. Not that there were greater rewards held out, from the
advantages being distributed to a greater number of persons, but that
there were more individuals who diligently scrutinized these matters,
with no other prospect but that of benefiting posterity. It is that the
manners of men are degenerated, not that the advantages are diminished.
All the seas, as many as there are, being laid open, and a hospitable
reception being given us at every shore, an immense number of people
undertake voyages; but it is for the sake of gain, not of science. Nor
does their understanding, which is blinded and bent only on avarice,
perceive that this very thing might be more safely done by means of
science. Seeing, therefore, that there are so many thousands of persons
on the seas, I will treat of the winds with more minuteness than
perhaps might otherwise appear suitable to my undertaking.


The ancients reckoned only four winds (nor indeed does Homer mention
more[350]) corresponding to the four parts of the world; a very poor
reason, as we now consider it. The next generation added eight others,
but this was too refined and minute a division; the moderns have
taken a middle course, and, out of this great number, have added four
to the original set. There are, therefore, two in each of the four
quarters of the heavens. From the equinoctial rising of the sun[351]
proceeds Subsolanus[352], and, from his brumal rising, Vulturnus[353];
the former is named by the Greeks Apeliotes[354], the latter Eurus.
From the south we have Auster, and from the brumal setting of the
sun, Africus; these were named Notos and Libs. From the equinoctial
setting proceeds Favonius[355], and from the solstitial setting,
Corus[356]; these were named Zephyrus and Argestes. From the seven
stars comes Septemtrio, between which and the solstitial rising we have
Aquilo, named Aparctias and Boreas[357]. By a more minute subdivision
we interpose four others, Thrascias, between Septemtrio and the
solstitial setting; Cæcias, between Aquilo and the equinoctial rising;
and Phœnices, between the brumal rising and the south. And also, at
an equal distance from the south and the winter setting, between Libs
and Notos, and compounded of the two, is Libonotos. Nor is this all.
For some persons have added a wind, which they have named Meses,
between Boreas and Cæcias, and one between Eurus and Notos, named

There are also certain winds peculiar to certain countries, which do
not extend beyond certain districts, as Sciron in Attica, deviating a
little from Argestes, and not known in the other parts of Greece. In
other places it is a little higher on the card and is named Olympias;
but all these have gone by the name of Argestes. In some places Cæcias
is named Hellespontia, and the same is done in other cases. In the
province of Narbonne the most noted wind is Circius; it is not inferior
to any of the winds in violence, frequently driving the waves before
it, to Ostia[359], straight across the Ligurian sea. Yet this same
wind is unknown in other parts, not even reaching Vienne, a city in
the same province; for meeting with a high ridge of hills, just before
it arrives at that district, it is checked, although it be the most
violent of all the winds. Fabius also asserts, that the south winds
never penetrate into Egypt. Hence this law of nature is obvious, that
winds have their stated seasons and limits.


The spring opens the seas for the navigators. In the beginning of this
season the west winds soften, as it were, the winter sky, the sun
having now gained the 25th degree of Aquarius; this is on the sixth day
before the Ides of February[361]. This agrees, for the most part, with
all the remarks that I shall subsequently make, only anticipating the
period by one day in the intercalary year, and again, preserving the
same order in the succeeding lustrum[362]. After the eighth day before
the Calends of March[363], Favonius is called by some Chelidonias[364],
from the swallows making their appearance. The wind, which blows for
the space of nine days, from the seventy-first day after the winter
solstice[365], is sometimes called Ornithias, from the arrival of
the birds[366]. In the contrary direction to Favonius is the wind
which we name Subsolanus, and this is connected with the rising of
the Vergiliæ, in the 25th degree of Taurus, six days before the Ides
of May[367], which is the time when south winds prevail: these are
opposite to Septemtrio. The dog-star rises in the hottest time of the
summer, when the sun is entering the first degree of Leo[368]; this
is fifteen days before the Calends of August. The north winds, which
are called Prodromi[369], precede its rising by about eight days. But
in two days after its rising, the same north winds, which are named
Etesiæ[370], blow more constantly during this period; the vapour
from the sun, being increased twofold by the heat of this star, is
supposed to render these winds more mild; nor are there any which are
more regular. After these the south winds become more frequent, until
the appearance of Arcturus[371], which rises eleven days before the
autumnal equinox. At this time Corus sets in; Corus is an autumnal
wind, and is in the opposite direction to Vulturnus. After this, and
generally for forty-four days after the equinox, at the setting of the
Vergiliæ, the winter commences, which usually happens on the third
of the Ides of November[372]. This is the period of the winter north
wind, which is very unlike the summer north wind, and which is in
the opposite direction to Africus. For seven days before the winter
solstice, and for the same length of time after it, the sea becomes
calm, in order that the king-fishers may rear their young; from this
circumstance they have obtained the name of the halcyon days[373]; the
rest of the season is winterly[374]. Yet the severity of the storms
does not entirely close up the sea. In former times, pirates were
compelled, by the fear of death, to rush into death, and to brave the
winter ocean; now we are driven to it by avarice[375].


Those are the coldest winds which are said to blow from the seven
stars, and Corus, which is contiguous to them; these also restrain the
others and dispel the clouds. The moist winds are Africus, and, still
more, the Auster of Italy. It is said that, in Pontus, Cæcias attracts
the clouds. The dry winds are Corus and Vulturnus, especially when
they are about to cease blowing. The winds that bring snow are Aquilo
and Septemtrio; Septemtrio brings hail, and so does Corus; Auster is
sultry, Vulturnus and Zephyrus are warm. These winds are more dry than
Subsolanus, and generally those which blow from the north and west
are more dry than those which blow from the south and east. Aquilo is
the most healthy of them all; Auster is unhealthy, and more so when
dry; it is colder, perhaps because it is moist. Animals are supposed
to have less appetite for food when this wind is blowing. The Etesiæ
generally cease during the night, and spring up at the third hour
of the day[377]. In Spain and in Asia these winds have an easterly
direction, in Pontus a northerly, and in other places a southerly
direction. They blow also after the winter solstice, when they are
called Ornithiæ[378], but they are more gentle and continue only for
a few days. There are two winds which change their nature with their
situation; in Africa Auster is attended with a clear sky, while Aquilo
collects the clouds[379]. Almost all winds blow in their turn, so
that when one ceases its opposite springs up. When winds which are
contiguous succeed each other, they go from left to right, in the
direction of the sun. The fourth day of the moon generally determines
their direction for the whole of the monthly period[380]. We are able
to sail in opposite directions by means of the same wind, if we have
the sails properly set; hence it frequently happens that, in the
night, vessels going in different directions run against each other.
Auster produces higher winds than Aquilo, because the former blows,
as it were, from the bottom of the sea, while the latter blows on the
surface; it is therefore after south winds that the most mischievous
earthquakes have occurred. Auster is more violent during the night,
Aquilo during the day; winds from the east continue longer than from
the west. The north winds generally cease blowing on the odd days, and
we observe the prevalence of the odd numbers in many other parts of
nature; the male winds are therefore regulated by the odd numbers[381].
The sun sometimes increases and sometimes restrains winds; when
rising and setting it increases them; while, when on the meridian, it
restrains them during the summer. They are, therefore, generally lulled
during the middle of the day and of the night, because they are abated
either by excessive cold or heat; winds are also lulled by showers. We
generally expect them to come from that quarter where the clouds open
and allow the clear sky to be seen. Eudoxus[382] supposes that the same
succession of changes occurs in them after a period of four years,
if we observe their minute revolutions; and this applies not only to
winds, but to whatever concerns the state of the weather. He begins his
lustrum at the rising of the dog-star, in the intercalary year. So far
concerning winds in general.


And now respecting the sudden gusts[383], which arising from the
exhalations of the earth, as has been said above, and falling down
again, being in the mean time covered by a thin film of clouds, exist
in a variety of forms. By their wandering about, and rushing down
like torrents, in the opinion of some persons, they produce thunder
and lightning[384]. But if they be urged on with greater force and
violence, so as to cause the rupture of a dry cloud, they produce a
squall[385], which is named by the Greeks Ecnephias[386]. But, if these
are compressed, and rolled up more closely together, and then break
without any discharge of fire, i. e. without thunder, they produce
a squall, which is named Typhon[387], or an Ecnephias in a state of
agitation. It carries along a portion of the cloud which it has broken
off, rolling it and turning it round, aggravating its own destruction
by the weight of it, and whirling it from place to place. This is very
much dreaded by sailors, as it not only breaks their sail-yards, but
the vessels themselves, bending them about in various ways. This may
be in a slight degree counteracted by sprinkling it with vinegar, when
it comes near us, this substance being of a very cold nature[388].
This wind, when it rebounds after the stroke, absorbs and carries up
whatever it may have seized on.


But if it burst from the cavity of a cloud which is more depressed,
but less capacious than what produces a squall, and is accompanied
by noise, it is called a whirlwind, and throws down everything which
is near it. The same, when it is more burning and rages with greater
heat, is called a blasting wind[390], scorching and, at the same time,
throwing down everything with which it comes in contact. (49.) Typhon
never comes from the north, nor have we Ecnephias when it snows, or
when there is snow on the ground. If it breaks the clouds, and, at the
same time, catches fire or burns, but not until it has left the cloud,
it forms a thunder-bolt. It differs from Prester as flame does from
fire; the former is diffused in a gust, the latter is condensed with a
violent impulse[391]. The whirlwind, when it rebounds, differs from the
tornado in the same manner as a loud noise does from a dash.

The squall differs from both of them in its extent, the clouds being
more properly rent asunder than broken into pieces. A black cloud
is formed, resembling a great animal, an appearance much dreaded by
sailors. It is also called a pillar, when the moisture is so condensed
and rigid as to be able to support itself. It is a cloud of the same
kind, which, when drawn into a tube, sucks up the water[392].


Thunder is rare both in winter and in summer[394], but from different
causes; the air, which is condensed in the winter, is made still more
dense by a thicker covering of clouds, while the exhalations from the
earth, being all of them rigid and frozen, extinguish whatever fiery
vapour it may receive. It is this cause which exempts Scythia and the
cold districts round it from thunder. On the other hand, the excessive
heat exempts Egypt; the warm and dry vapours of the earth being very
seldom condensed, and that only into light clouds. But, in the spring
and autumn, thunder is more frequent, the causes which produce summer
and winter being, in each season, less efficient. From this cause
thunder is more frequent in Italy, the air being more easily set in
motion, in consequence of a milder winter and a showery summer, so that
it may be said to be always spring or autumn. Also in those parts of
Italy which recede from the north and lie towards the south, as in the
district round our city, and in Campania, it lightens equally both in
winter and in summer, which is not the case in other situations.


We have accounts of many different kinds of thunder-storms. Those which
are dry do not burn objects, but dissipate them; while those which
are moist do not burn, but blacken them. There is a third kind, which
is called bright lightning[396], of a very wonderful nature, by which
casks are emptied, without the vessels themselves being injured, or
there being any other trace left of their operation[397]. Gold, copper,
and silver are melted, while the bags which contain them are not in the
least burned, nor even the wax seal much defaced. Marcia, a lady of
high rank at Rome, was struck while pregnant; the fœtus was destroyed,
while she herself survived without suffering any injury[398]. Among
the prognostics which took place at the time of Catiline’s conspiracy,
M. Herennius, a magistrate of the borough of Pompeii, was struck by
lightning when the sky was without clouds[399].


The Tuscan books inform us, that there are nine Gods who discharge
thunder-storms, that there are eleven different kinds of them, and that
three of them are darted out by Jupiter. Of these the Romans retained
only two, ascribing the diurnal kind to Jupiter, and the nocturnal
to Summanus[401]; this latter kind being more rare, in consequence
of the heavens being colder, as was mentioned above. The Etrurians
also suppose, that those which are named Infernal burst out of the
ground; they are produced in the winter and are particularly fierce and
direful, as all things are which proceed from the earth, and are not
generated by or proceeding from the stars, but from a cause which is
near at hand, and of a more disorderly nature. As a proof of this it
is said, that all those which proceed from the higher regions strike
obliquely, while those which are termed terrestrial strike in a direct
line. And because these fall from matter which is nearer to us, they
are supposed to proceed from the earth, since they leave no traces of a
rebound; this being the effect of a stroke coming not from below, but
from an opposite quarter. Those who have searched into the subject
more minutely suppose, that these come from the planet Saturn, as
those that are of a burning nature do from Mars. In this way it was
that Volsinium, the most opulent town of the Tuscans, was entirely
consumed by lightning[402]. The first of these strokes that a man
receives, after he has come into possession of any property, is termed
_Familiar_[403], and is supposed to prognosticate the events of the
whole of his life. But it is not generally supposed that they predict
events of a private nature for a longer space than ten years, unless
they happen at the time of a first marriage or a birth-day; nor that
public predictions extend beyond thirty years[404], unless with respect
to the founding of colonies[405].


It is related in our Annals, that by certain sacred rites and
imprecations, thunder-storms may be compelled or invoked[406]. There
is an old report in Etruria, that thunder was invoked when the city of
Volsinium had its territory laid waste by a monster named Volta[407].
Thunder was also invoked by King Porsenna. And L. Piso[408], a very
respectable author, states in the first book of his Annals, that this
had been frequently done before his time by Numa, and that Tullus
Hostilius, imitating him, but not having properly performed the
ceremonies, was struck with the lightning[409]. We have also groves,
and altars, and sacred places, and, among the titles of Jupiter, as
Stator, Tonans, and Feretrius, we have a Jupiter Elicius[410]. The
opinions entertained on this point are very various, and depend much
on the dispositions of different individuals. To believe that we can
command nature is the mark of a bold mind, nor is it less the mark of a
feeble one to reject her kindness[411]. Our knowledge has been so far
useful to us in the interpretation of thunder, that it enables us to
predict what is to happen on a certain day, and we learn either that
our fortune is to be entirely changed, or it discloses events which
are concealed from us; as is proved by an infinite number of examples,
public and private. Wherefore let these things remain, according to
the order of nature, to some persons certain, to others doubtful, by
some approved, by others condemned. I must not, however, omit the other
circumstances connected with them which deserve to be related.


It is certain that the lightning is seen before the thunder is heard,
although they both take place at the same time. Nor is this wonderful,
since light has a greater velocity than sound. Nature so regulates it,
that the stroke and the sound coincide[412]; the sound is, however,
produced by the discharge of the thunder, not by its stroke. But the
air is impelled quicker than the lightning[413], on which account it
is that everything is shaken and blown up before it is struck, and that
a person is never injured when he has seen the lightning and heard the
thunder. Thunder on the left hand is supposed to be lucky, because
the east is on the left side of the heavens[414]. We do not regard so
much the mode in which it comes to us, as that in which it leaves us,
whether the fire rebounds after the stroke, or whether the current of
air returns when the operation is concluded and the fire is consumed.
In relation to this object the Etrurians have divided the heavens into
sixteen parts[415]. The first great division is from north to east; the
second to the south; the third to the west, and the fourth occupies
what remains from west to north. Each of these has been subdivided
into four parts, of which the eight on the east have been called the
left, and those on the west the right divisions. Those which extend
from the west to the north have been considered the most unpropitious.
It becomes therefore very important to ascertain from what quarter the
thunder proceeds, and in what direction it falls. It is considered a
very favourable omen when it returns into the eastern divisions. But
it prognosticates the greatest felicity when the thunder proceeds from
the first-mentioned part of the heavens and falls back into it; it was
an omen of this kind which, as we have heard, was given to Sylla, the
Dictator. The remaining quarters of the heavens are less propitious,
and also less to be dreaded. There are some kinds of thunder which it
is not thought right to speak of, or even to listen to, unless when

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