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and after the hundredth Revolution of the Moon, the Seas
return to the Beginning of their Motions, and to the like
Increase : by Reason that she augmenteth all Things by the
yearly Course of the Sun : forasmuch as in the two Equi-
noctials they always swell most, yet more in that of the
Autumn than the Spring ; but nothing to speak of in Mid-
winter, and less at Midsummer. And yet these Things fall
not out in these very Instants of the Times which I have
named, but some few Days after ; like as neither in the
full nor in the change, but afterward : nor yet immediately
as the Heaven either shevveth us the Moon in her rising, or
hideth her from us at her setting, or as she declineth from us
in the middle Climate, but later almost by two equinoctial
Hours. Forasmuch as the Effect of all Influences in the
Heaven reach not so soon unto the Earth, as the Eyesight
pierceth up to the Heaven : as appeareth by Lightnings,
Thunders, and Thunderbolts. Moreover, all Tides in the
main Ocean overspread arid cover much more within the Land
than in other Seas : either because in the whole it is more
violent than in a Part : or for that the open Greatness thereof
feeleth more effectually the Power of the Planet, working
forcibly as it doth widely at Liberty, than when the same is
restrained within those Straits. Which is the Cause that
neither Lakes nor little Rivers ebb and flow in like Manner.
Pythias of Massiles writeth, that above Britain the Tide
floweth in Height eighty Cubits. But the more inward Seas
are shut up within the Lands, as in a Harbour. Nevertheless,
in some Places a more spacious Liberty there is that yieldeth

134 History of Nature. [ BOOK II.

to the Power [of the Moon] : for there are many Examples
of those who, in a calm Sea, without Wind and Sail, by a
strong Current only, have passed from Italy to Utica in three
Days. But these Motions are found about the Shores more
than in the deep Sea; just as in our Bodies the extreme
Parts have a greater Feeling of the Beating of Arteries, or in
other Words, the vital Spirits. Yet notwithstanding in many
Estuaries of the Sea, because of the unequal Risings of the
Planets in every Coast, the Tides are diverse, and disagreeing
in Time ; but not in their Cause ; as particularly in the Syrtes.
And yet some there be that have a peculiar Nature ; as the
Firth Taurominitanum, which ebbeth and floweth oftener
than twice: and that other in Eubcea, called likewise Eu-
npus, which hath seven Tides forward and back in a Day
arid Night. And the same Tide three Days in a Month
standeth still, namely, in the seventh, eighth, and ninth Days
of the Moon's Age. At Gades 1 , the Fountain near the Chapel
of Hercules is enclosed about like a Well, which sometimes
riseth and falleth with the Ocean ; and at other Times it
doth both at contrary Seasons. In the same Place there is

* Cadiz, on the Atlantic coast of Spain, was founded in a very remote
age by the Phoenicians, under the conduct of one of their most illustrious
chiefs, Melcartus ; whose name is significant of a royal race ; and who has
been denominated the Tyrian Hercules, from a supposition that his
labours were somewhat similar to those of the son of Alcmena. The city
was at this time called Gadira, and in it was a temple devoted to this first
of celebrated navigators, but retaining the marks of primitive purity of
worship, in having no- image. (Silius Italicus, quoted in Cumberland's
" Sanchoniatho.") The Phoenicians were accustomed to select for their
colonies such islands as this Spanish peninsula then was, both for pru-
dential and religious reasons ; and the city long continued the centre of
trade to the British islands and northern regions ; while at the same time
it was unknown to the rest of the world. There is even reason to believe,
that during the Roman dominion of Europe an intercourse was main-
tained between Cadiz and the independent Britons scarcely known to
any beside the merchants engaged in it. From an expression of Pliny in
chap, cviii. of this book, it would appear that there were at this place two
pillars, properly termed the "Pillars of Hercules :" though the name has
since been applied to the mountains at the entrance of the Mediterranean
Sea. Wern. Club.

BOOK II.] History of Nature. 135

another Spring that agrees with the Motions of the Ocean.
On the Bank of Betis there is a Town, the Wells whereof, as
the Tide floweth, ebb; and as it ebbeth, flow; but in the
intermediate Times they do not move. Of the same Nature
there is one Well in the Town Hispalis ; while the Rest be
as others are. And the Sea Pontus evermore floweth out
into Propontis, but the Sea never retireth back again within


Wonders of the Sea.

ALL Seas are cleansed at the full Moon; and some besides
at certain Times. About Messala and Nylse, there is thrown
upon the Shore Dregs like Beasts' Dung ; from which arose
the Fable, that the Sun's Oxen were there kept in Stall.
Hereunto addeth Aristotle (that I may not omit any Thing
that I know), that no living Creature dieth but in the Ebb of
the Sea 1 . This is observed much in the Ocean of Gaul, but
found only in Man by Experience.


What Power the Moon hath over Things on Earth
and in the Sea.

BY which it is truly guessed, that not in vain the Planet
of the Moon is supposed to be a Spirit : for this is it that
saturates the Earth in her approach, filling Bodies full; and
in her retiring emptying them again 2 . And hereupon it is,

1 " I was not so curious as to entitle the stars upon any concern of his
death, yet could not but take notice that he died when the moon was in
motion from the meridian ; at which time, an old Italian, long ago, would
persuade me that the greatest part of mankind died : but herein I confess
I could never satisfy my curiosity, although from the time of tides in places
upon or near the sea there may be considerable deductions ; and Pliny hath
an odd and remarkable passage concerning the death of men and animals
upon the recess or ebb of the sea.* 1 Sir THOMAS BROWN'S Worhs, by
WILKIN, vol. iv. p. 40. Wem. Club.

a In this, to chap, ci., is an account of the effects which were supposed
to be produced by the influence of the moon on natural bodies ; and that

136 History of Nature. [BooK II.

that with her growth all Shell-fish increase : and those Crea-
tures which have no Blood, most of all do feel her Spirit.
Also, the Blood in Men doth increase or diminish with her
Light ; and the Leaves of Trees and the Fodder (as shall be
said in a convenient Place) feel her Influence; which, ever-
more the same, pierceth effectually into all Things.

The Power of the Sun, and why the Sea is salt.

THUS by the fervent Heat of the Sun all Moisture is dried
up : for we have been taught that this Planet is masculine,
burning and sucking up the Humidity of all Things. Thus
the broad and spacious Sea hath the Taste of Salt sodden into
it : or else it is because, when the sweet and thin Substance
is drawn out of it, which the fiery Power of the Sun very
easily draweth up, all the sharper and grosser Parts thereof

which was believed to be the cause of the tides requires no further re-
mark, than that the cause and effect are acknowledged, and that the mode
of influence is the only subject of error. The moon's influence in causing
shell-fish and vegetables to increase and decrease, was believed by Aris-
totle, and maintained its place in the popular opinion until a late date.
But in tropical countries it is regarded as beyond all doubt, that the
bright shining of the moon has a deleterious effect on all bodies exposed
to it ; and the fact is implicitly credited by many Europeans who have in-
quired into it. Thus, slaughtered cattle so exposed, are believed to pass
into speedy putrefaction ; its influence on eyes when asleep, causes blind-
ness, and on the head a tendency to delirium or death. The antiquity
and extent of these opinions appear from Psalm cxxi. ; where the writer
expresses his trust, that " the sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the
moon by night." But the influence is not always hurtful : at least on
vegetation ; for, in the blessing of Moses at the time of his death, on the
tribe of Joseph, he speaks of" the precious things put forth by the moon"
(Deut. xxxiii. 14). Dr.Prichard ("Egyptian Mythology," p. 156) says:
" The idea that the moon exerts an influence favourable to propagation, is
so strange and absurd, that we are at a loss to imagine how it can have
arisen ; and it is truly astonishing to find that similar fictions were ex-
tended through a great part of the Pagan world. Young maids among
the Greenlanders are afraid to stare long at the moon, imagining that they
incur a danger of becoming pregnant." Sec chap. ci.~ Wern, Club.

BOOK II.] History of Nature. 137

remain behind : and hereupon it is, that the deep Water to-
ward the Bottom is less salt than that at the Top. And
this is a truer Reason of that unpleasant Taste it hath, than
that the Sea should be a Sweat issuing out of the Earth con-
tinually : or, because overmuch of the dry Element is min-
gled in it without any Vapour : or else because the Nature
of the Earth infecteth the Waters with some strong Medi-
cine. We find among Examples that there happened a Pro-
digy to Dionysius, Tyrant of Sicily, when he was expelled
from his Power, which was : that the Sea-water, in one Day,
in the Harbour became fresh.

Also, of the Moons Nature.

ON the contrary, they say that the Moon is a Planet
feminine, tender and nightly; that it dissolveth Humours,
drawing the same, but carrying them not away. And this
appeareth evidently because that the Carcasses of wild Beasts
which are slain, she putrifieth by her Influence, if she shine
upon them. When Men also are found asleep, the dull
Numbness thereby gathered she draweth up into the Head :
she thaweth Ice, and with a moistening Breath relaxeth all
Things. Thus you see how Nature's turn is served, and is
always sufficient ; while some Stars thicken the Elements,
and others again resolve the same. But as the Sun is fed by
the salt Seas, so the Moon is nourished by the fresh Waters.

Where the Sea is deepest.

FABIANUS saith, that the Sea, where it is deepest, ex-
ceedeth not fifteen Stadii. Others again report, that in Pon-
tus the Sea is of an unmeasurable Depth over against the
Nation of the Coraxians, at the Place they call Bathea Ponti,
whereof the Bottom could never be sounded at the Distance
of three hundred Stadii from the Continent.

138 History of Nature. [BooK II.

The Wonders of Waters^ Fountains, and Rivers.

OF all Wonders this is among the greatest, that some
fresh Waters close by the Sea spring forth as out of Pipes :
for the Nature of the Waters also ceaseth not from mira-
culous Properties. Fresh Waters are borne on the Sea, as
being, no doubt, the lighter : and, therefore, the Sea-water
(which naturally is heavier) beareth up whatsoever is brought
into it. Also, among fresh Waters, some there be that float
over others. As in the Lake Fucinus, the River that runneth
into it ; in Larius, Addua ; in Verbanus, Ticinus ; in Benacus,
Mincius; in Sevinus, Ollius ; in Lemanus, the River Rho-
danus. As for this River beyond the Alps, and the former in
Italy, for many a Mile as they pass they carry forth their own
Waters from thence as Strangers, and none other ; and the
same no larger than they brought in with them This is
reported likewise of Orontes, a River in Syria, and of many
others. Some Rivers again there be, which, upon an Hatred
to the Sea, run under the Bottom thereof; as Arethusa, a
Fountain in Syracuse : wherein this is observed, that what-
soever is cast into it cometh up again at the River Alpheus,
which, running through Olympia, falleth into the Sea-shore
of Peloponnesus. There go under the Ground, and appear
above the Ground again, Lycus in Asia, Erasinus in Argolica,
Tigris in Mesopotamia. And at Athens, the Things that are
immersed in the Fountain of ^Esculapius are cast up again
in Phalericus. Also in the Atinate Plains, the River that
becomes buried under the Earth 20,000 Paces off, appeareth
again; as doth Tirnavus in the Territory of Aquileia. In
Asphaltites (a Lake in Judea which produceth Bitumen) no-
thing will sink ; nor will it in Arethusa, in the greater Ar-
menia : and the same, though it be full of Nitre, produceth
Fish. In the Salentines' Country near the Town Manduria
there is a Lake full to the Bank, out of which, if there be
laden as much Water as you will, it decreaseth not ; nor is it
augmented, though any Quantity be poured in. In a River

BOOK II.] History of Nature. 139

of the Cicones, and in the Lake Velinus in the Picene Terri-
tory, if Wood be thrown in it becomes covered over with a
stony Bark. Also in Surius, a River of Colchis, the like is
to be seen : insomuch that the Bark which overgroweth it is
as hard as a Stone. Likewise in the River Silarus beyond
Surrentum, not Twigs only that are dipped therein, but
Leaves also, grow to be Stones ; and yet the Water thereof
otherwise is wholesome to be drunk. In the Outlet of the
Reatin Marsh, a Rock groweth bigger; and in the Red Sea
there be Olive-trees and other Shrubs, that grow up green.
There be also very many Springs which have a wonderful
Nature for their boiling Heat : and that also upon the very
Mountains of the Alps ; and in the Sea between Italy and
uEnaria : as in the Bay Baianus, and the River Liris, and
many others. For in very many Places you may draw fresh
Water out of the Sea ; as about the Islands ChelidonisB and
Aradus : and in the Ocean about Gades. In the hot Waters
of the Patovans there grow green Herbs : in those of the
Pisanes there breed Frogs : and at Vetulonii in Etruria, not
far from the Sea, Fishes also are bred. In the Territory
Casinas there is a River called Scatebra, which is cold, and
in Summer Time more abounding in Water than in Winter :
in it, as also in Stymphalis of Arcadia, there are brought
forth River Mussels. In Dodone, the Fountain of Jupiter
being exceedingly chill, quencheth lighted Torches when
dipped therein ; but if you hold the same near it when they
nre extinguished, it setteth them on Fire again. The same
Spring at Noontide evermore wanteth Water, for which
Cause they call it Anapavomenos : by and by it beginneth to
rise until it be Midnight, and then it hath great Abundance :
and from that Time again it subsideth by little and little. In
Illyricum there is a cold Spring, over which, if there be
spread any Clothes, they catch Fire and burn. The Foun-
tain of Jupiter Amman in the Daytime is cold, and all Night
it is boiling hot. In the Troglodytes Country there is a
Fountain of the Sun, called the Sweet Spring, which about
Noon is exceeding cold ; but by and by and gradually it

140 History of Nature. [Boox II.

groweth warm, and at Midnight it is offensive for Heat and
Bitterness. The Fountain of the Po, at Noon in Summer,
intermitteth to boil, and is then ever dry. In the Island
Tenedos there is a Spring, which, after the Summer Solstice,
evermore from the third Hour of the Night to the sixth,
doth overflow. And in the Island of Delos, the Fountain
Inopus falleth and riseth after the same Sort as the Nile
doth, and together with it. Over against the River Timavus
there is a little Island in the Sea, having hot Springs, which
ebb and flow in Time and Manner as the Tide of the Sea.
In the Territory of the Pitinates, beyond the Apennines, the
River Novanus, at every Midsummer Time, is in Flood ; but
in Midwinter is dry. In the Faliscan Country the Water of
the River Clitumnus maketh the Cattle white that drink of
it. And in Boeotia, the River Melas maketh Sheep black :
Cephyssus running out of the same Lake, causeth them to be
white : and Penius, again, giveth them a black Colour :
but Xanthus, near to Ilium, coloureth them reddish; and
hereupon the River took that Name. In the Land of Pon-
tus there is a River that watereth the Plains of Astace, upon
which, those Mares that feed give black Milk for the Food
of that Nation. In the Reatin Territory there is a Fountain
called Neminia, which, according to its issuing forth out of
this or that Place, signifieth the Change in the Price of Vic-
tuals. In the Haven of Brundusium there is a Well that
yieldeth to Sailors Water which will never corrupt. The
Water of Lincestis, called Acidula (or Sour), maketh Men
drunken no less than Wine. Also, in Paphlagonia, and in
the Territory of Gales. Also in the Isle of Andros there is a
Fountain in the Temple of Father Bacchus, which upon the
Nones of January always runneth with Water that tasteth
like Wine ; as Mulianus verily believeth ; who was a Man
that had been thrice Consul : the Name of the Spring is
Dios Tecnosia. Near Nonacris, in Arcadia, is the River
Styx ; differing from the other Styx neither in Smell nor
Colour : drink of it once, and it is present Death. Also, in
Berosus (an Hill of the Tauri), there be three Fountains, the

BOOK 1 1 .] History of Nature. \ 4 1

Water whereof whosoever drinketh is sure to die of it, reme-
diless, and yet without Pain. In a Country of Spain, called
Carrinensis, two Springs run near together, the one rejecting
and the other swallowing up all Things. In the same Coun-
try there is another Water which sheweth all Fishes within
it of a golden Colour; but if they be taken out of that Water,
they be like other Fishes. In the Cannensian Territory,
near the Lake Larius, there is a large Fountain, which every
Hour continually swelleth and falleth down again. In the
Island Sidonia, before Lesbos, there is a hot Fountain that
runneth only in the Spring. The Lake Sinnaus, in Asia, is
infected with the Wormwood growing about it. At Colo-
phon, in the Cave of Apollo Clarius, there is a Channel with
Water: they that drink of it foretell strange Things like
Oracles ; but they live the shorter Time for it. Rivers run-
ning backward even our Age hath seen in the latter Years of
the Prince Nero, as we have related in the Acts of his Life.
Now, that all Springs are colder in Summer than Winter,
who knoweth not? as also these wondrous Works of Nature,
that Brass and Lead in the Lump sink down in Fluid, but if
they be spread out into thin Plates they float : and let the
Weight be all one, yet some Things settle to the Bottom ; and
others, again, are borne above : that heavy Burdens be re-
moved with more Ease in Water. Likewise that the Stone
Thyrreus, however large, doth swim when entire: but broken
into Pieces, it sinketh. Bodies newly dead fall to the Bottom
of the Water, but when swollen they rise again. Empty Ves-
sels are not so easily drawn out of the Water as those that be
full : Rain-water for Salt-pits is more profitable than any
other : and Salt cannot be made unless fresh Water be min-
gled : Sea-water is longer before it freezes, but it is sooner
made hot. In Winter the Sea is hotter, and in Autumn
salter. The whole Sea is made still with oil : and therefore
the Divers under the Water scatter it with their Mouths, be-
cause it allayeth the rough Nature thereof, and carrieth a
Light with it. No Snows fall where the Sea is deep. And,
whereas all Water runneth downward, yet Springs leap up;
even at the very Foot of ^Etria, which burneth so far as that

142 History of Nature. [BooK II.

for fifty, and even an hundred, Miles, Balls of Fire cast out
Sand and Ashes 1 .


The Wonders of Fire and Water jointly together, and
of Maltha.

Now let us relate some Wonders of Fire also, which is
the fourth Element of Nature. But first, out of Waters. In
a City of Comagene, named Samosatis, there is a Pond
yielding forth a burning, slimy Mud (called Maltha 2 ). When
it meeteth with any Thing sqlid it sticketh to it ; and if it be
touched it followeth them that flee from it. By this means
the Townsmen defended their Walls when Lucullus assaulted
it ; and his Soldiers were burned in their own Armour. It
burns even in Water. Experience hath taught, that Earth
only will quench it

Of Naphtha.

OF the like Nature is Naphtha : for so is it called about
Babylonia, and in the Austacenes' Country in Parthia ; and
it runneth in the Manner of liquid Bitumen. There is great
Affinity between Fire and it ; for Fire is ready to leap unto
it immediately, if it be near it. Thus (they say) Medea
burnt her Husband's Concubine, by Reason that her Crown
anointed therewith was caught by the Fire after she had
approached to the Altars with the Intention to sacrifice 3 .

1 Many of the phenomena here related are merely exaggerations of
the truth ; and many, however strange, are easily explained : as the inter-
mitting springs, and those which kindle into fire : the latter owing this pro-
perty either to the extrication of hydrogen gas or naphtha. Wcrn. Club.

2 This is evidently a natural mineral pitch ; to which the artificial sub-
stance bearing the same name, and described in b. xxxvi. c. 24, could only
have been similar in its effects, especially of combustion. Wern. Club.

3 There are many things in the history of Medea which shew her to
have been a skilful chemist, and possessed of a high degree of knowledge
of the science of the age in which she lived. Wern. Club.

BOOK II.] History of Nature. 143

Of Places continually burning.

BUT amongst the Wonders of Mountains, JStna burneth
always in the Nights : and for so long Continuance of Time
yieldeth sufficient Matter to maintain those Fires : in Winter
it is full of Snow, and covereth the Ashes cast up with Frosts.
Neither in it alone doth Nature rage, threatening the con-
suming of the whole Earth by Fire. For in Phaselis the
Mountain Chimaera likewise burneth, and that with a con-
tinual Fire both Night and Day : Ctesias of Gnidos writeth,
that the Fire thereof is inflamed with Water, but quenched
with Earth. In the same Lycia the Mountains Hephaestii
being touched with a flaming Torch, do so burn that the
very Stones of the Rivers and the Sand in the Waters are
set on Fire ; and the same Fire is maintained with Rain.
They report that if a Man make a Furrow with a Staff that
is set on Fire by them, there follow Gutters of Fire. In
the Bactrians' Country, the Top of the Cophantus burneth
by Night. Amongst the Medians, also, and the Caestian
Nation, the same Mountain burneth : but principally in the
Confines of Persis. At Susis, indeed, in a Place called the
White Tower, the Fire proceeds out of fifteen Chimneys, and
the greatest of them, even in the Daytime, carrieth Fire.
There is a Plain about Babylonia 1 , in Manner of a Fish-pond,
which, for the Quantity of an Acre, burneth likewise. Also,
near the Mountain Hesperius in Ethiopia, the Fields in the
Night-time shine like Stars. The like is to be seen in the
Territory of the Megapolitans, although the Field there
be pleasant within, and not burning the Boughs of the thick
Grove above it. And near a warm Spring the hollow,

1 These natural fires were objects of idolatrous veneration by the in-
habitants of this country, from a very early period : and opinions of a
similar nature have continued in the East to the present day. Zoroaster,
if not the author, is believed to have been the great reformer of this doc-
trine ; which by some is supposed to have had its origin in times before
the Flood. Wern. Club.

144 History of Nature. [BooK II.

burning Cavity, called Crater Nymphsei, always portendeth
some fearful Misfortunes to the Apolloniates, the Neigh-
bours thereby, as Theopompus hath reported. It increaseth
with Showers of Rain, and casteth out Bitumen, to be com-
pared with that Fountain or Water of Styx that is not to be
tasted ; otherwise weaker than all Bitumen besides. But
who would wonder at these Things ? In the Midst of the
Sea, Hiera, one of the ^Etolian Islands near to Italy, burned
together with the Sea for certain Days together, during
the Time of the social War, until a Legation of the Senate
made Expiation. But that which burneth with the greatest
Fire is a Hill of the Ethiopians called Theonochema ;
which sendeth out the fiercest Flames in the hottest Sun-
shine. In so many Places with so many Fires doth Nature

burn the Earth.


Wonders of Fires by themselves.

MOREOVER, since the Nature of this Element of Fire
alone is to be so fruitful, that it produceth itself, and groweth
from the least Sparks, what may be thought will be the
End of so many funeral Fires of the Earth 1 ? What a Nature
is that which feedeth the most greedy Voracity in the whole

Online Librarythe Elder PlinyPliny's Natural history. In thirty-seven books → online text (page 12 of 60)