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In other animals the period of gestation and of birth is fixed and definite, while man, on the other hand, is born at all seasons of the year,1 and without any certain period of gestation;2 for one child is born at the seventh month, another at the eighth, and so on, even to the beginning of the tenth and eleventh. Those children which are born before the seventh month are never known to survive;3 unless, indeed, they hap- pen to have been conceived the day before or the day after the full moon, or at the change of the moon. In Egypt it is not an uncommon thing for children to be born at the eighth month; and in Italy, too, children that are born at this period live just as long as others, notwithstanding the opinions of the ancients to the contrary. There are great variations in this respect, which occur in numerous ways. Vestilia, for instance, who was the wife of C. Herdicius, and was afterwards married, first, to Pomponius,4 and then to Orfitus, very eminent citizens, after having brought forth four children, always at the seventh month, had Suillius Rufus at the eleventh month, and then Corbulo at the seventh, both of whom became consuls; after which, at the eighth month, she had Cæsonia, who became the wife of the Emperor Caius.5 As for children who are born at the eighth month, the greatest difficulty with them is to get them over the first forty days.6 Pregnant women, on the other hand, are in the greatest danger during the fourth and the eighth month, and abortions during these periods are fatal. Masurius informs us, that L. Papirius, the prætor. on one occasion, when the next but one in succession was urging his suit at law, decided against him, in favour of the heir,7 although his mother declared that her period of gestation had lasted thirteen months—upon the ground that it did not appear that there was any fixed and definite period of gestation.8

1 Animals have a certain period for generation, because they are more immediately affected by the seasons, whereas, in the human race, the arts of life render these fixed terms unnecessary.—B.

2 Notwithstanding all the observations of the moderns, the question is scarcely decided respecting the length of time to which pregnancy may be prolonged. Cuvier says, that the experiments of Tessier have shewn, that there is a greater latitude in animals than had previously been supposed; he also remarks, that the same animals when domesticated, become less regular in this respect than in the wild state.—B.

3 Dalechamps has collected authorities to prove, that a child may survive, when born even at an earlier period; but this, although not absolutely impossible, is improbable in the highest degree.—B.

4 Ajasson expresses himself at a loss to identify this Pomponius; but thinks that it may have been either Julius Pomponius Græcinus, consul A.U.C. 759, or L. Pomponius, consul A.U.C. 794, A.D. 41.

5 Caius Caligula. The name of this woman, who was first his mistress and then his wife, was Milonia Cesonia. She was neither handsome nor young when Caligula first admired her: but was noted for her extreme licentiousness, and at the time when she first became intimate with Caligula, had already had three children. She and her daughter, by him, were put to death on the day on which he was murdered. Corbulo has been mentioned in B. vi. c. 8.

6 Celsus, B. ii. c. 1, speaks of the fortieth day, as one of the critical periods of childhood; the others are the seventh month, the seventh year, and the period of puberty.—B.

7 Who appears to have urged the great lapse of time that had intervened between the death of the alleged father and the birth of his opponent.

8 Questions of this nature, of great importance, involving property and title, have been the subject of judicial consideration in our times; the longest period to which pregnancy may be protracted seems still not to be determined, but the general result has been to shorten it. Aulus Gellius, B. iii. c. 16, has collected the opinions of many of the ancients on this subject.—B.

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