previous next


There is moreover a peculiar influence in the different degrees of certain signs, as in the autumnal equinox, and also in the winter solstice, when we find that a particular star is connected with the state of the weather1. It is not so much the recurrence of showers and storms, as of various circumstances, which act both upon animals and vegetables. Some are planet-struck2, and others, at stated times, are affected in the bowels, the sinews, the head, or the intellect. The olive, the white poplar, and the willow turn their leaves round at the summer solstice. The herb pulegium, when dried and hanging up in a house, blossoms on the very day of the winter solstice, and bladders burst in consequence of their being distended with air3. One might wonder at this, did we not observe every day, that the plant named heliotrope always looks towards the setting sun, and is, at all hours, turned towards him, even when he is obscured by clouds4. It is certain that the bodies of oysters and of whelks5, and of shell-fish generally, are increased in size and again diminished by the influence of the moon. Certain accurate observers have found out, that the entrails of the field-mouse6 correspond in number to the moon's age, and that the very small animal, the ant, feels the power of this luminary, always resting from her labours at the change of the moon. And so much the more disgraceful is our ignorance, as every one acknowledges that the diseases in the eyes of certain beasts of burden increase and diminish according to the age of the moon. But the immensity of the heavens, divided as they are into seventy-two7 constellations, may serve as an excuse. These are the resemblances of certain things, animate and inanimate, into which the learned have divided the heavens. In these they have announced 1600 stars, as being remarkable either for their effects or their appearance; for example, in the tail of the Bull there are seven stars, which are named Vergiliæ8; in his forehead are the Suculæ; there is also Bootes, which follows the seven northern stars9.

1 "cum tempestatibus confici sidus intelligimus."

2 "afflantur." On this term Hardouin remarks, "Siderantur. Sideratio morbi genus est, partem aliquam corporis, ipsumque ssepe totum corpus percutientis subito: quod quum repentino eveniat impetu, e cœlo vi quadam sideris evenire putatur." Lemaire, i. 317.

3 Cicero alludes to these opinions in his treatise De Divin. ii. 33; see also Aul. Gellius, ix. 7.

4 The heliotropium of the moderns has not the property here assigned to it, and it may be doubted whether it exists in any plant, except in a very slight and imperfect degree: the subject will be considered more fully in a subsequent part of the work, xxii. 29, where the author gives a more particular account of the heliotrope.

5 "conchyliorum;" this term appears to have been specifically applied to the animal from which the Tyrian dye was procured.

6 "soricum fibras;" Alexandre remarks on these words, "fibras jecoris intellige, id est, lobos infimos.....;" Lemaire, i. 318; but I do not see any ground for this interpretation.

7 It does not appear from what source our author derived this number; it is considerably greater than that stated by Ptolemy and the older astronomers. See the remarks of Hardouin and of Brotier; Lemaire. i. 319.

8 The Vergiliæ or Pleiades are not in the tail of the Bull, according to the celestial atlas of the moderns.

9 "Septemtriones."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (3 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: