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The present conjuncture would appear to demand from me some opinion upon the science of the stars. Epigenes1 used to maintain that human life could not be possibly prolonged to one hundred and twelve years, and Berosus2 that it could exceed one hundred and seventeen. The system is still in existence which Petosiris and Necepsos3 transmitted to us, and called by them "tartemorion,"4 from the division of the signs into four portions; from which it would appear, that life, in the region of Italy, may possibly be extended to one hundred and twenty-four years They maintain that, reckoning from the commencement of an ascending sign, no life can possibly exceed a period of ninety degrees from that point; which periods they call by the name of "anaphoræ;"5 they say also, that these anaphoræ may be intercepted by meeting with malign stars or their rays even, or those of the sun.6 To theirs the school of Æsculapius succeeded, which admits that the allotted duration of life is regulated by the stars, but that it is quite uncertain what is the greatest extent of the period. These say that long life is uncommon, because a very great number of persons are born at critical moments in the hours of the lunar days; for example, in the seventh and the fifteenth hours, both by day and night; these individuals are subject to the malign influence of that ascending scale of the years which is termed the "climacteric,"7 and never hardly, when born under these circumstances, exceed the fifty-fourth year.

First of all, however, it must strike us that the variations which have taken place in this science prove its uncertainty; and to this consideration may be added the experience of the very last census, which was made four years ago, under the direction of the Emperors Vespasian, father and son.8 I shall not search through the registers;9 I shall only cite some instances in the middle district that lies between the Apennines and the river Padus. At Parma, three persons declared themselves to be one hundred and twenty years of age; at Brixellum,10 one was one hundred and twenty-five; at Parma, two were one hundred and thirty; at Placentia, one was one hundred and thirty; at Faventia, one woman was one hundred and thirty-two; at Bononia, L. Terentius, the son of Marcus, and at Ariminum, M. Aponius, were one hundred and forty, and Tertulla, one hundred and thirty-seven. In the hills which lie around Placentia is the town of Veleiacium,11 in which six persons gave in their ages as one hundred and ten years, and four one hundred and twenty, while one person, M. Mucius, the son of Marcus, surnamed Felix, and of the Galerian tribe,12 was aged one hundred and forty. Not, however, to dwell upon what is generally admitted, in the eighth region of Italy, there appeared by the register, to be fifty-four persons of one hundred years of age, fourteen of one hundred and ten, two of one hundred and twenty-five, four of one hundred and thirty, the same number of one hundred and thirty-five to one hundred and thirty-seven, and three of one hundred and forty.

Again, we have another illustration of the uncertain tenure of human life. Homer informs us that Hector and Polydamas13 were born on the same night,14 and yet how different was their fate! M. Cælius Rufus15 and C. Licinius Calvus were born on the same day, the fifth before the calends of June, in the consulship of C. Marius and Cn. Carbo; they both of them lived to be orators, it is true, but how different their destiny! The same thing, too, happens every day, and in every part of the world, with respect to men that are born in the self-same hour; masters and slaves, kings and beggars, come into the world at the same moment.

1 We have an account of Epigenes, by Hardouin, Lemaire, vol. i. pp. 86, 87, where he is designated Rhodius. He is referred to by Varro, Columella, and Seneca; Pliny mentions him in other parts of his work.—B.

2 Berosus has been referred to in the 37th Chapter of the present Book.—B.

3 For some account of Petosiris and Necepsos, see end of B. ii.

4 Literally, the fourth part; according to Hardouin's explanation, Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 186.—B.

5 Literally. . . . . ."repetitions." Dalechamps explains it as indicating, "that part of the heavens which is distant thirty parts; that is to say, two signs from the horoscope;" Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 187.—B.

6 Ajasson refers us to Jul. Firmicus for an explanation of the difference which may exist in the length of the lives of individuals as depending on their natal day; Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 186. It appears to have been one of the leading tenets of the astrologers, that the favourable influence of the ascending sign is diminished or counteracted by the rays of other planets, or of the sun, falling upon the sign in certain directions or at certain angles, and that the length of the life of the individual is shortened in proportion to this injurious effect.—B.

7 This term means, literally, "increasing by a regular scale," or, "ac- cording to a proportional series of numbers;" the multiples of 7 have been generally supposed to be the critical periods of human life, and, more especially, 63, or 9 times 7, which was accordingly termed "the grand climacteric."—B.

8 This census appears to have taken place A.D. 74, under the fifth consulship of Vespasian, and the third of Titus; according to Censorinus, it was the last of which we have any distinct account.—B.

9 "Vasaria;" it is said, by the commentators, to be a term of German origin, derived from a word which signified the bark of a tree. It does not appear, however, from what cause it was appropriated to the sense in which it is used by Pliny. The word is found in Cicero's oration against Piso, sec. 35; but is there applied to a totally different object.—B.

10 Now Brigella or Brescella. Parma still retains its ancient name, Placentia is now Piacenza, and Faventia the modern Faenza.

11 Probably the same as the Velia, mentioned by Phlegon Trallianus as famous for the longevity of its inhabitants.

12 "Marcus Mucius, M. Filius, Galeria, Felix." It has been doubted by the commentators, whether the word Galeria refers to the name of the mother of Mucius, or to the tribe to which he belonged. The latter is, perhaps, the more natural interpretation. Hardouin and Ajasson, however, adopt the opinion, that Galeria was the mother of Marcus; Lemaire, vol. iii. pp. 191,192. We meet with a precisely similar construction of words in Cicero, 9th Philip. sec. 7; "Ser. Sulpicius, Q. Filius, Lemonia Rufus."—B.

13 The son of Panthöus, and friend of Hector. He was famous for his wisdom and prudence in giving counsel. See Iliad, B. xviii. 1. 249–52.

14 The passage referred to is in the Iliad, B. xviii. 1. 249–51.—B.

15 Respecting Cælius [formerly called Cæcilius in most editions] Hardouin informs us that he was the accuser of Calpurnius, that he was prætor during the consulship of P. Lentulus Spinther and L. Metellus Nepos, and was oppressed by Clodius. Pliny refers to Cælius, and his accusation of Calpurnius, in a subsequent passage, B. xxvii. c. 2.—B. Licinius Calvus Macer was by some considered, as an orator, to rival even Cicero himself; and as a poet, is generally mentioned by the side of Catullus. He exhausted his constitution by his severe application, and died in his thirty-fifth or thirty-sixth year. He was remarkable for the extreme shortness of his stature. Cælius was a partisan of Pompey, and was eventually put to death at Thurii.

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