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 It is quite possible that these things are so, and we ought not to disbelieve them. Not so however with regard to the other common and vulgar reports; for Posidonius tells us the common people say that in the countries next the ocean the sun appears larger as he sets, and makes a noise resembling the sound of hot metal in cold water, as though the sea were hissing as the sun was submerged in its depths. The statement [of Artemidorus] is also false, that night follows immediately on the setting of the sun: it does not follow immediately, although certainly the interval is short, as in other great seas. For when he sets behind mountains the agency of the false light continues the day for a long period; over the sea the twilight is shorter, still darkness does not immediately supervene. The same thing may be remarked in large plains. The image of the sun is enlarged on the seas at its rising as well as at its setting, because at these times a larger mass of exhalations rises from the humid element; and the eye looking through these exhalations, sees images refracted into larger forms, as observed through tubes. The same thing happens when the setting sun or moon is seen through a dry and thin cloud, when those bodies likewise appear reddish.1 Posidonius tells us that, having himself passed thirty days at Gades,2 during which time he carefully observed the setting of the sun, he is convinced of the falsity of Artemidorus's account. This latter writer tells us, that at the time of its setting the sun appears a hundred times larger than its ordinary size, and that night immediately succeeds. If we attend to his account, we cannot believe that he himself remarked this phenomenon at the Sacred Promontory,3 for he tells us that no one can approach during the night; therefore they cannot approach at sunset, since night immediately supervenes thereupon. Neither did he observe it from any other part of the coast washed by the ocean, for Gades is upon the ocean, and both Posidonius and many others testify that there such is not the case.
1 We extract the following notice on this passage from Humboldt (Cosmos, vol. iii. 54, Bohn's edition). ‘This passage has recently been pronounced corrupt, (Kramer i. 211,) and δι᾽ ὑαλων (through glass spheres) substituted for δί αὐλῶν (Schneider, Eclog. Phys. ii. 273). The magnifying power of hollow glass spheres, filled with water, (Seneca i 6,) was, indeed, as familiar to the ancients as the action of burning glasses or crystals, (Aristoph. Nub. v. 765,) and that of Nero's emerald (Plin. xxxvii. 5); but these spheres most assuredly could not have been employed as astronomical measuring instruments. (Compare Cosmos i. p. 619.) Solar altitudes taken through thin light clouds, or through volcanic vapours, exhibit no trace of the influence of refraction.’
3 Cape St. Vincent.
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