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Chapter XVIII.

EMPEDOCLES says, that when the human race took first its original from the earth, the sun was so slow in its motion that then one day in its length was equal to ten months, as now they are; in process of time one day became as long as seven months are; and there is the reason that those infants which are born at the end of seven months or ten months are born alive, the course of nature so disposing that the infant shall be brought to maturity in one day after that night in which it is begotten. Timaeus says, that we count not ten months but nine, by reason that we reckon the first conception from the retention [p. 185] of the menstruas; and so it may generally pass for seven months when really there are not seven; for it sometimes happens that even after conception a woman is purged in some degree. Polybus, Diocles, and the Empirics acknowledge that the eighth month gives a vital birth to the infant, though the life of it is more faint and languid; many therefore we see born in that month die out of mere weakness. Though we see many born in that month arrive at the state of man, yet (they affirm) if children be born in that month, none are willing to rear them.

Aristotle and Hippocrates, that if the womb is grown full in seven months, then the child falls from the mother and is born alive; but if it falls from her but is not properly nourished, the navel being weak on account of the heavy burden of the infant, then it doth not thrive; but if the infant continues nine months in the womb, and then breaks forth from the woman, it is entire and perfect. Polybus, that a hundred and eighty-two days and a half suffice for the bringing forth of a living child; that is, six months, in which space of time the sun moves from one tropic to the other; and this is called seven months, for the days which are overplus in the sixth are accounted to give the seventh month. Those children which are born in the eighth month cannot live, for, the infant then falling from the womb, the navel, which is the cause of nourishment, is thereby too much stretched; and is the reason that the infant languishes and hath an atrophy. The astrologers, that eight months are enemies to every birth, seven are friends and kind to it. The signs of the zodiac are then enemies, when they fall upon those stars which are lords of houses; whatever infant is then born will have a life short and unfortunate. Those signs of the zodiac which are malevolent and injurious to generation are those pairs of which the last is reckoned the eighth from the first, as the first and the eighth, the second [p. 186] and the ninth, &c.; so is the Ram unsociable with Scorpio, the Bull with Sagittarius, the Twins with the Goat, the Crab with Aquarius, the Lion with Pisces, the Virgin with the Ram. Upon this reason those infants that are born in the seventh or tenth months are like to live, but those in the eighth month will die.

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