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It is certain that the lightning is seen before the thunder is heard, although they both take place at the same time. Nor is this wonderful, since light has a greater velocity than sound. Nature so regulates it, that the stroke and the sound coincide1; the sound is, however, produced by the discharge of the thunder, not by its stroke. But the air is impelled quicker than the lightning2, on which account it is that everything is shaken and blown up before it is struck, and that a person is never injured when he has seen the lightning and heard the thunder. Thunder on the left hand is supposed to be lucky, because the east is on the left side of the heavens3. We do not regard so much the mode in which it comes to us, as that in which it leaves us, whether the fire rebounds after the stroke, or whether the current of air returns when the operation is concluded and the fire is consumed. In relation to this object the Etrurians have divided the heavens into sixteen parts4. The first great division is from north to east; the second to the south; the third to the west, and the fourth occupies what remains from west to north. Each of these has been subdivided into four parts, of which the eight on the east have been called the left, and those on the west the right divisions. Those which extend from the west to the north have been considered the most unpropitious. It becomes therefore very important to ascertain from what quarter the thunder proceeds, and in what direction it falls. It is considered a very favourable omen when it returns into the eastern divisions. But it prognosticates the greatest felicity when the thunder proceeds from the first-mentioned part of the heavens and falls back into it; it was an omen of this kind which, as we have heard, was given to Sylla, the Dictator. The remaining quarters of the heavens are less propitious, and also less to be dreaded. There are some kinds of thunder which it is not thought right to speak of, or even to listen to, unless when they have been disclosed to the master of a family or to a parent. But the futility of this observation was detected when the temple of Juno was struck at Rome, during the consulship of Scaurus, he who was afterwards the Prince of the Senate5.

It lightens without thunder more frequently in the night than in the day6. Man is the only animal that is not always killed by it, all other animals being killed instantly, nature having granted to him this mark of distinction, while so many other animals excel him in strength. All animals fall down on the opposite side to that which has been struck; man, unless he be thrown down on the parts that are struck, does not expire. Those who are struck directly from above sink down immediately. When a man is struck while he is awake, he is found with his eyes closed; when asleep, with them open. It is not considered proper that a man killed in this way should be burnt on the funeral pile; our religion enjoins us to bury the body in the earth7. No animal is consumed by lightning unless after having been previously killed. The parts of the animal that have been wounded by lightning are colder than the rest of the body.

1 "ictum autem et sonitum congruere, ita modulante natura." This remark is not only incorrect, but appears to be at variance both with what precedes and what follows.

2 The following remark of Seneca may be referred to, both as illustrating our author and as showing how much more correct the opinions of Seneca were than his own, on many points of natural philosophy; "....necesse est, ut impetus fulminis et præmittat spiritus, et agat ante se, et a tergo trahat ventum....;" Nat. Quæst. lib. ii. § 20. p. 706.

3 "quoniam læva parte mundi ortus est." On this passage Hardouin remarks; "a Deorum sede, quum in meridiem spectes, ad sinistram sunt partes mundi exorientes;" Lemaire, i. 353. Poinsinet enters into a long detail respecting opinions of the ancients on this point and the circumstances which induced them to form their opinions; i. 34 et seq.

4 See Cicero de Divin. ii 42.

5 "Junonis quippe templum fulmine violatum ostendit non a Jove, non a Deis mitti fulmina." Alexandre in Lemaire, i. 354. The consulate of Scaurus was in the year of Rome 638. Lucan, i. 155, and Horace, Od. i. 2. refer to the destruction of temples at Rome by lightning.

6 Obviously because faint flashes are more visible in the night.

7 We have an explanation of this peculiar opinion in Tertullian, as referred to by Hardouin, Lemaire, i. 355; "Qui de cœlo tangitur, salvus est, ut nullo igne decinerescat."

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