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Many persons have attempted to discover the distance of the stars from the earth, and they have published as the result, that the sun is nineteen times as far from the moon, as the moon herself is from the earth1. Pythagoras, who was a man of a very sagacious mind, computed the distance from the earth to the moon to be 126,000 furlongs, that from her to the sun is double this distance, and that it is three times this distance to the twelve signs2; and this was also the opinion of our countryman, Gallus Sulpicius3.

1 Alexandre remarks, that Pliny mentions this, not as his own opinion, but that of many persons; for, in chap. 21, he attempts to prove mathematically, that the moon is situated at an equal distance between the sun and the earth; Lemaire, ii. 286.

2 Marcus remarks upon the inconsistency between the account here given of Pythagoras's opinion, and what is generally supposed to have been his theory of the planetary system, according to which the sun, and not the earth, is placed in the centre; Enfield's Philosophy, i. 288, 289. Yet we find that Plato, and many others among the ancients, give us the same account of Pythagoras's doctrine of the respective distances of the heavenly bodies; Ajasson, ii. 374. Plato in his Timæus, 9. p. 312–315, details the complicated arrangement which he supposes to constitute the proportionate distances of the planetary bodies.

3 Sulpicius has already been mentioned, in the ninth chapter of this book, as being the first among the Romans who gave a popular explanation of the cause of eclipses.

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