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We have already stated1 that the summer solstice arrives at the eighth degree of Cancer, and upon the eighth day before2 the calends of July: this is an important crisis in the year, and of great interest to the whole earth. Up to this period from the time of the winter solstice the days have gone on increasing, and the sun has continued for six months making his ascension towards the north; having now surmounted the heights of the heavens, at this point he reaches the goal, and after doing so, commences his return towards the south; the consequence of which is, that for the next six months he increases the nights and subtracts from the length of the days. From this period, then, it is the proper time to gather in and store away the various crops in succession, and so make all due preparations for the rigour and severity of the winter.

It was only to be expected that Nature should point out to us the moment of this change by certain signs of an indubitable character; and she has accordingly placed them beneath the very hands of the agriculturist, bidding the leaves turn round3 upon that day, and so denote that the luminary has now run its course. And it is not the leaves of trees only that are wild and far remote that do this, nor have those persons who are on the look-out for these signs to go into devious forests and mountain tracts to seek them. Nor yet, on the other hand, are they to be seen in the leaves of trees only that are grown in the vicinity of cities or reared by the hand of the ornamental gardener, although in them they are to be seen as well. Nature upon this occasion turns the leaf of the olive which meets us at every step; she turns the leaf of the linden, sought by us, as it is, for a thousand purposes; she turns the leaf of the white poplar, too, wedded to the vine that grows upon its trunk. And still, for her, all this is not enough. "You have the elm," she says, "reared for the support of the vine, and the leaf of that I will make to turn as well. The leaves of this tree you have to gather for fodder, the leaves of the vine you prune away. Only look upon them, and there you behold the solstice;4 they are now pointing towards a quarter of the heavens the reverse of that towards which they looked the day before. The twigs of the withy, that most lowly of trees, you employ for tying things without number. You are a head taller than it—I will make its leaves to turn round as well. Why complain, then, that you are but a rustic peasant? It shall be no fault of mine if you do not understand the heavens and become acquainted with the movements of the celestial bodies. I will give another sign, too, that shall address itself to your ear—only listen for the cooing of the ring-doves; and beware of sup- posing that the summer solstice is past, until you see the wood-pigeon sitting on her eggs."

Between the summer solstice and the setting of the Lyre, on the sixth day before the calends of July,5 according to Cæsar's reckoning, Orion rises, and upon the fourth6 before the nones of July, his Belt rises to the people of Assyria. Upon-the morning of the same day, also, the scorching constellation of Procyon rises. This last constellation has no name with the Romans, unless, indeed, we would consider it as identical with Canicula,7 or Lesser Dog, which we find depicted among the stars; this last is productive of excessive heat, as we shall shortly have further occasion to state. On the fourth8 before the nones of July, the Crown sets in the morning to the people of Chaldæa, and in Attica, the whole of Orion has risen by that day. On the day before9 the ides of July, the rising of Orion ends to the Egyptians also; on the sixteenth10 before the calends of August, Procyon rises to the people of Assyria, and, the day but one after, of nearly all other countries as well, indicating a crisis that is universally known among all nations, and which by us is called the rising of the Dog-star; the sun at this period entering the first degree of Leo. The Dog-star rises on the twenty-third day after the summer solstice; the influence of it is felt by both ocean, and earth, and even by many of the animals as well, as stated by us elsewhere on the appropriate occasions.11 No less veneration, in fact, is paid to this star, than to those that are consecrated to certain gods; it kindles the flames of the sun, and is one great source of the heats of summer.

On the thirteenth12 day before the calends of August, the Eagle sets in the morning to the people of Egypt, and the breezes that are the precursors of the Etesian winds, begin to blow; these, according to Cæsar, are first perceived in Italy, on the tenth before13 the calends of August. The Eagle sets in the morning of that day to the people of Attica, and on tile third before14 the calends of August, the Royal Star in the breast of Leo rises in the morning, according to Cæsar. On the eighth before15 the ides of August, one half of Arcturus has ceased to be visible, and on the third before16 the ides the Lyre, by its setting, opens the autumn,—according to Cæsar at least; though a more exact calculation has since shown, that this takes place on the sixth day before17 the ides of that month.

The time that intervenes between these periods is one that is of primary importance in the cultivation of the vine; as the constellation of which we have spoken, under the name of Canicula, has now to decide upon the fate of the grape. It is at this period that the grapes are said to be charred,18 a blight falling upon them which burns them away, as though red-hot coals had been applied to them. There is no hail that can be compared with this destructive malady, nor yet any of those tempests, which have been productive of such scarcity and dearth. For the evil effects of these, at the very utmost, are only felt in isolated districts, while the coal blight,19 on the other hand, extends over whole countries, far and wide. Still, however, the remedy would not be very difficult, were it not that men would much rather calumniate Nature, than help themselves. It is said that Democritus,20 who was the first to comprehend and demonstrate that close affinity which exists between the heavens and the earth, finding his laborious researches upon that subject slighted by the more opulent of his fellow-citizens, and presaging the high price of oil, which was about to result upon the rising of the Vergiliæ, (as we have already mentioned,21 and shall have to explain more fully hereafter), bought up all the oil in the country, which was then at a very low figure, from the universal expectation of a fine crop of olives; a proceeding which greatly surprised all who knew tlat a life of poverty and learned repose was so entirely the object of his aspirations. When, however, his motives had been fully justified by the result, and vast riches had flowed in upon him apace, he returned all his profits to the disappointed proprietors, whose avarice had now taught them to repent, thinking it quite sufficient to have thus proved how easy it was for him to acquire riches whenever he pleased. At a more recent period, again, Sextius,22 a Roman philosopher residing at Athens, made a similar application of his knowledge. Such, then, is the utility of science, the instruction provided by which it shall be my aim, as clearly and as perspicuously as possible, to apply to the various occupations of a country life.

Most writers have said that it is the dew, scorched by a burning sun, that is the cause of mildew23 in corn, and of coal-blight in the vine; this, however, seems to me in a great measure incorrect, and it is my opinion that all blights result entirely from cold, and that the sun is productive of no injurious effects whatever. This, in fact, will be quite evident, if only a little attention is paid to the subject; for we find that the blight makes its appearance at first in the night time only, and before the sun has shone with any vigour. The natural inference is, that it depends entirely upon the moon, and more particularly as such a calamity as this is never known to happen except at the moon's conjunction, or else at the full moon, periods at which the influence of that heavenly body is at its greatest height. For at both of these periods, as already24 stated by us more than once, the moon is in reality at the full; though during her conjunction she throws back to the heavens all the light which she has received from the sun. The difference in the effects produced by the moon at these two periods is very great, though at the same time equally apparent; for at the conjunction, that body is extremely hot in summer, but cold in winter; while, on the other hand, at the full moon, the nights are cold in summer, but warm in winter. The reason of this. although Fabianus and the Greek writers adopt another method of explaining it, is quite evident. During the moon's conjunction in summer, she must of necessity move along with the sun in an orbit nearer to the earth, and so become warmed by the heat which she receives by reason of her closer vicinity to the sun. In winter, again, at the time of the conjunction, she is farther off from us, the sun being also removed to a greater distance. On the other hand, again, when the moon is at the full in summer, she is more remote from the earth, and in opposition with the sun; while, in winter, she approaches nearer to us at that period, by adopting the same orbit as at her conjunction in summer. Naturally humid herself, as often as from her position she is cold, she congeals to an unlimited extent the dews which fall at that period of the year.

1 In c. 59 of this Book.

2 Twenty-fourth of June. See the last Chapter.

3 On this subject see B. xvi. c. 36. See also Varro, De Re Rust. B. i. c. 46, and Aulus Gellius, B. ix. c. 7.

4 "Tenes Sidus."

5 Twenty-sixth of June.

6 Fourth of July.

7 There is some confusion, apparently, here. Canicula, Syrius, or the Dog-star, belongs to the Constellation Canis Major while Canis Minor, a Constellation which contains the star Procyon, ("the forerunner of the Dog,") precedes it.

8 Fourth of July.

9 Fourteenth of July.

10 Seventeenth of July.

11 B. ii. c. 40, and B. xix. c. 25.

12 Twentieth of July.

13 Twenty-third of July.

14 Thirtieth of July.

15 Sixth of August.

16 Eleventh of August.

17 Eighth of August.

18 See B. xvii. c. 37.

19 Carbunculus.

20 Cicero. I)e Div., B. ii. 201, Aristotle, Polit. B. i. c. 7, and Diogenes Lacrtius tell this story of Thales the philosopher; Pliny being the only one that applies it to Democritus.

21 In the last Chapter. This passage is corrupt.

22 Mentioned by Seneca, Ep. 59.

23 It was reserved for the latter part of the last century to discover that mildew operated on vegetation through the medium of minute, parasitical fungi. It is mostly attributed to detects in the light or the atmosphere, or else humidity in excess. See c. 44 of this Book.

24 In B. ii. c. 6, for instance.

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