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The spring opens the seas for the navigators. In the beginning of this season the west winds soften, as it were, the winter sky, the sun having now gained the 25th degree of Aquarius; this is on the sixth day before the Ides of February2. This agrees, for the most part, with all the remarks that I shall subsequently make, only anticipating the period by one day in the intercalary year, and again, preserving the same order in the succeeding lustrum3. After the eighth day before the Calends of March4, Favonius is called by some Chelidonias5, from the swallows making their appearance. The wind, which blows for the space of nine days, from the seventy-first day after the winter solstice6, is sometimes called Ornithias, from the arrival of the birds7. In the contrary direction to Favonius is the wind which we name Subsolanus, and this is connected with the rising of the Vergiliæ, in the 25th degree of Taurus, six days before the Ides of May8, which is the time when south winds prevail: these are opposite to Septemtrio. The dog-star rises in the hottest time of the summer, when the sun is entering the first degree of Leo9; this is fifteen days before the Calends of August. The north winds, which are called Prodromi10, precede its rising by about eight days. But in two days after its rising, the same north winds, which are named Etesiæ11, blow more constantly during this period; the vapour from the sun, being increased twofold by the heat of this star, is supposed to render these winds more mild; nor are there any which are more regular. After these the south winds become more frequent, until the appearance of Arcturus12, which rises eleven days before the autumnal equinox. At this time Corus sets in; Corus is an autumnal wind, and is in the opposite direction to Vulturnus. After this, and generally for forty-four days after the equinox, at the setting of the Vergiliæ, the winter commences, which usually happens on the third of the Ides of November13. This is the period of the winter north wind, which is very unlike the summer north wind, and which is in the opposite direction to Africus. For seven days before the winter solstice, and for the same length of time after it, the sea becomes calm, in order that the king-fishers may rear their young; from this circumstance they have obtained the name of the halcyon days14; the rest of the season is winterly15. Yet the severity of the storms does not entirely close up the sea. In former times, pirates were compelled, by the fear of death, to rush into death, and to brave the winter ocean; now we are driven to it by avarice16.

1 We may learn the opinions of the Romans on the subject of this chapter from Columella, xi. 2.

2 corresponding to the 8th day of the month.

3 ...lustro sequenti...; "tribus annis sequentibus." Alexandre, in Lemaire, i. 334.

4 corresponding to the 22nd of February.

5 a χελιδὼν, hirundo.

6 This will be either on March 2nd or on February 26th, according as we reckon from December the 21st, the real solstitial day, or the 17th, when, according to the Roman calendar, the sun is said to enter Capricorn.

7 "quasi Avicularem dixeris." Hardouin, in Lemaire, i. 334.

8 Corresponding to the 10th of May.

9 According to the Roman calendar, this corresponds to the 20th July, but, according to the text, to the 17th. Columella says, that the sun enters Leo on the 13th of the Calends of August; xi. 2.

10 "quasi præcursores;" Hardouin, in Lemaire, i. 335. Cicero refers to these winds in one of his letters to Atticus; xiv. 6.

11 ἐτησίαι, ab ἔτος, annus.

12 This will be on the 13th of September, as, according to our author, xviii. 24, the equinox is on the 24th.

13 This corresponds to the 11th of November; forty-four days before this will be the 29th of September.

14 Or Halcyonides. This topic is considered more at length in a subsequent part of the work; x. 47.

15 The author, as it appears, portions out the whole of the year into fourteen periods, during most of which certain winds are said to blow, or, at least, to be decidedly prevalent. Although the winds of Italy are less irregular than those of England, Pliny has considerably exaggerated the real fact.

16 On this subject the reader may peruse the remarks of Seneca, Nat. Quæst. v. 18, written in his style of flowery declamation.

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