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The days have been computed by different people in different ways. The Babylonians reckoned from one sunrise to the next; the Athenians from one sunset to the next; the Umbrians from noon to noon; the multitude, universally, from light to darkness; the Roman priests and those who presided over the civil day, also the Egyptians and Hipparchus, from midnight to midnight1. It appears that the interval from one sunrise to the next is less near the solstices than near the equinoxes, because the position of the zodiac is more oblique about its middle part, and more straight near the solstice2.

1 A. Gellius, iii. 3, informs us, that the question concerning the commencement of the day was one of the topics discussed by Varro, in his book "Rerum Humanarum:" this work is lost. We learn from the notes of Hardouin, Lemaire, i. 399, that there are certain countries in which all these various modes of computation are still practised; the last-mentioned is the one commonly employed in Europe.

2 It has been supposed, that in this passage the author intended to say no more than that the nights are shorter at the summer solstice than at the other parts of the year; see Alexandre in Lemaire, i. 399, 400. But to this, I conceive, it may be objected, that the words "inter ortus solis" can scarcely apply to the period while the sun is below the horizon, and that the solstices generally would seem to be opposed to the equinoxes generally. Also the words "obliquior" and "rectior" would appear to have some farther reference than merely to the length of time during which the sun is above or below the horizon.

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