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1 "῾αψὶς, ligneus rotæ circulus, ab ἅπτω necto;" Hederic in loco. The term is employed in a somewhat different sense by the modern astronomers, to signify the point in the orbit of a planet, when it is either at the greatest or the least distance from the earth, or the body about which it revolves; the former being termed the apogee, aphelion, or the higher apsis; the latter the perigee, perhelion, or lower apsis; Jennings on the Globes, pp. 64, 65.
3 "ratione circini semper indubitata."
4 In consequence of the precession of the equinoxes these points are continually advancing from W. to E., and are now about 30 degrees from the situation they were in when the observations were first made by the modern astronomers.
5 Our author here probably refers to the motions of the planets through their epicycles or secondary circles, the centres of which were supposed to be in the peripheries of the primary circles. See Alexandre in Lemaire, ii. 270.
6 It is to this visible appearance of convexity in the heavens that Ovid refers in the story of Phaëton, where he is describing the daily path of the sun; Metam. ii. 63–67.
7 "quam quod illi subjacet;" under this designation the author obviously meant to include the temperate zones, although it technically applies only to the part between the tropics. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that modern discoveries have shown that this opinion respecting the Arctic zone is not strictly correct.
8 The breadth of the zodiac, which was limited by the ancients to 12 degrees, has been extended by the modern astronomers to 18, and would require to be much farther extended to include the newly discovered planet. Herschel's Astronomy, § 254.
9 There is considerable difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of the terms employed by our author in describing the course of the planet Mercury through the zodiac; "medio ejus," "supra," and "infra." Hardouin's comment is as follows: "Duas zodiaci partes seu gradus pererrat, quum ipse per medium incedit signiferum: supra, quum deflectit ad Aquilonem, per quatuor alias ejusdem partes vagatur: infra, quum descendit ad Austrum, discedit duabus." Lemaire, ii. 271, 272. But Marcus has shown that the opinion of Hardouin is inadmissible and inconsistent with the facts; Ajasson, ii. 338–341. He proposes one, which he conceives to be more correct, but we may probably be led to the conclusion, that the imperfect knowledge and incorrect opinions of our author on these subjects must render it impossible to afford an adequate explanation.
10 "flexuoso draconum meatu;" Poinsinet remarks, "Les Grecs... appellaient dragons les bracelets, les hausse-cols, les chainettes, et généralement tout ce qui avait une figure armillaire;" i. 79, 80.
11 As this remark appears to contradict what was said in the last sentence respecting the sun, we may suspect some error in the text; see Poinsinet, Alexandre, and Marcus, in loco.
12 The following comparative statement is given by Alexandre of the geocentric latitudes of the planets, as assigned by Pliny, and as laid down by the moderns. Lemaire, ii. 273:—
|Jupiter||1 30||1 30|
|Saturn||1 (or 2 °）||2 30|
13 It appears from the remark at the end of this chapter, that this explanation applies to the superior planets alone.
14 It is not easy, as Marcus observes, Ajasson, ii. 344, 345, to comprehend the exact meaning of this passage, or to reconcile it with the other parts of our author's theory.
15 "Ecliptica," called by the moderns the nodes; i. e. the two points where the orbits of the planets cut the ecliptic. See the remarks of Marcus on this term; Ajasson, ii. 345, 346.
16 We may presume that our author here refers to the apparent motion of the planets, not to their actual acceleration or retardation.
17 The editors have differed in the reading of this passage; I have followed that of Lemaire.
18 "incipit detrahi numerus." According to the explanation of Alexandre, "numerus nempe partium quas certo temporis intervallo emetiuntur." Lemaire, ii. 275. Marcus remarks in this place, "Dans tout ce chapitre et dans le suivant, Pline a placé dans une correlation de causité, tout ce qu'il croit arriver en même temps; mais il n'a pas prouvé par-là que les phénomènes célestes qui sont contemporains sont engendrés les uns par les autres." Ajasson, ii. 349.
19 The hypothesis of Pliny appears to be, that the planets are affected by the rays of the sun, and that according to the angle at which they receive the impulse, they are either accelerated or retarded in their course.
20 "ex priore triquetro."
21 Alexandre supposes, as I conceive justly, that our author, in this passage, only refers to the writings of his own countrymen; Lemaire, ii. 276.
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