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A few things still remain to be said concerning the world; for stars are suddenly formed in the heavens themselves; of these there are various kinds.

(25.) The Greeks name these stars comets2; we name them Crinitæ, as if shaggy with bloody locks, and surrounded with bristles like hair. Those stars, which have a mane hanging down from their lower part, like a long beard, are named Pogoniæ3. Those that are named Acontiæ4 vibrate like a dart with a very quick motion. It was one of this kind which the Emperor Titus described in his very excellent poem, as having been seen in his fifth consulship; and this was the last of these bodies which has been observed. When they are short and pointed they are named Xiphiæ5; these are the pale kind; they shine like a sword and are without any rays; while we name those Discei6, which, being of an amber colour, in conformity with their name, emit a few rays from their margin only. A kind named Pitheus7 exhibits the figure of a cask, appearing convex and emitting a smoky light. The kind named Cerastias8 has the appearance of a horn; it is like the one which was visible when the Greeks fought at Salamis. Lampadias9 is like a burning torch; Hippias10 is like a horse's mane; it has a very rapid motion, like a circle revolving on itself. There is also a white comet, with silver hair, so brilliant that it can scarcely be looked at, exhibiting, as it were, the aspect of the Deity in a human form. There are some also that are shaggy, having the appearance of a fleece, surrounded by a kind of crown. There was one, where the appearance of a mane was changed into that of a spear; it happened in the 109th olympiad, in the 398th year of the City11. The shortest time during which any one of them has been observed to be visible is 7 days, the longest 180 days.

1 We may remark, that our author, for the most part, adopts the opinions of Aristotle respecting comets and meteors of all kinds, while he pays but little attention to those of his contemporary Seneca, which however, on some points, would appear to be more correct. See the remarks of Marcus in Ajasson, ii. 244. Under the title of comets he includes, not only those bodies which are permanent and move in regular orbits, but such as are transient, and are produced from various causes, the nature of which is not well understood. See Aristotle, Meteor. lib. i. cap. 6, 7, and Seneca, Nat. Quæst. lib. 7, and Manilius, i. 807 et seq.

2 a κόμη, coma.

3 a πωγωνίος, barbatus. Most of these terms are employed by Aristotle and by Seneca.

4 ab ἀκόντιον, jaculum.

5 a ξίφος, ensis.

6 a δίσκος, orbis.

7 a πίθος, dolium. Seneca describes this species as "magnitudo vasti rotundique ignis dolio similis;" Nat. Quæst. lib. i. § 14. p. 964.

8 a κέρας, cornu.

9 a λαμπἀς, fax.

10 ab ἵππος, equus. Seneca mentions the fax, the jaculum, and the lampas among the prodigies that preceded the civil wars; Phars. i. 528 et seq.

11 Alexandre remarks, that these dates do not correspond, and adds, "Desperandum est de Pliniana chronologia; nec satis interdum scio, utrum librarios, an scriptorem ipsum incusem,...." Lemaire, i. 295. According to the most approved modern chronology, the middle of the 109th olympiad corresponds to the 211th year of the City.

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