Part 2 out of 17
the ternary number denotes a multitude, as "Thrice happy Grecians";
for which reason Pythagoras admits the ternary. This sect of
philosophers is called the Italic, by reason Pythagoras started his
school in Italy; his hatred of the tyranny of Polycrates enforced
him to abandon his native country Samos.
Heraclitus and Hippasus of Metapontum suppose that fire gives the
origination to all beings, that they all flow from fire, and in
fire they all conclude; for of fire when first quenched the world
was constituted. The first part of the world, being most condensed
and contracted within itself, made the earth; but part of that
earth being loosened and made thin by fire, water was produced;
afterwards this water being exhaled and rarefied into vapors became
air; after all this the world itself, and all other corporeal
beings, shall be dissolved by fire in the universal conflagration.
By them therefore it appears that fire is what gives beginning to
all things, and is that in which all things receive their period.
Epicurus the son of Neocles, the Athenian, his philosophical
sentiments being the same with those of Democritus, affirms that
the principles of all being are bodies which are only perceptible
by reason; they admit not of a vacuity, nor of any original, but
being of a self-existence are eternal and incorruptible; they are
not liable to any diminution, they are indestructible, nor is it
possible for them to receive any transformation of parts, or admit
of any alterations; of these reason is only the discoverer;
they are in a perpetual motion in vacuity, and by means of the
empty space; for the vacuum itself is infinite, and the bodies that
move in it are infinite. Those bodies acknowledge these three
accidents, figure, magnitude, and gravity. Democritus acknowledged
but two, magnitude and figure. Epicurus added the third, to wit,
gravity; for he pronounced that it is necessary that bodies receive
their motion from that impression which springs from gravity,
otherwise they could not be moved. The figures of atoms cannot be
incomprehensible, but they are not infinite. These figures are
neither hooked nor trident-shaped nor ring-shaped, such figures as
these being exposed to collision; but the atoms are impassible,
impenetrable; they have indeed figures of their own, which are
conceived only by reason. It is called an atom, by reason not of
its smallness but of its indivisibility; in it no vacuity, no
passible affection is to be found. And that there is an atom is
perfectly clear; for there are elements which have a perpetual
duration, and there are animals which admit of a vacuity, and there
is a unity.
Empedocles the Agrigentine, the son of Meton, affirms that there
are four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, and two powers
which bear the greatest command in nature, concord and discord, of
which one is the union, the other the division of beings.
Thus he sings,
Hear first the four roots of all created things:--
Bright shining Jove, Juno that beareth life,
Pluto beneath the earth, and Nestis who
Doth with her tears water the human fount.
By Jupiter he understands fire and ether, by Juno that gives life
he means the air, by Pluto the earth, by Nestis and the spring of
all mortals (as it were) seed and water.
Socrates the son of Sophroniscus, and Plato son of Ariston, both natives of Athens, entertain the same opinion concerning the universe; for they suppose three principles, God, matter, and the idea. God is the universal understanding; matter is that which is the first substratum, accommodated for the generation and corruption of beings; the idea is an incorporeal essence, existing in the cogitations and apprehensions of God; for God is the soul and mind of the world.
Aristotle the son of Nichomachus, the Stagirite, constitutes three
principles; Entelecheia (which is the same with form), matter, and
privation. He acknowledges four elements, and adds a certain
fifth body, which is ethereal and not obnoxious to mutation.
Zeno son of Mnaseas, the native of Citium, avers these to be
principles, God and matter, the first of which is the efficient
cause, the other the passible and receptive. Four more elements
he likewise confesses.
HOW WAS THIS WORLD COMPOSED IN THAT ORDER AND AFTER
THAT MANNER IT IS?
The world being broken and confused, after this manner it was
reduced into figure and composure as now it is. The insectible
bodies or atoms, by a wild and fortuitous motion, without any
governing power, incessantly and swiftly were hurried one amongst
another, many bodies being jumbled together; upon this account they
have a diversity in the figures and magnitude. These therefore
being so jumbled together, those bodies which were the greatest and
heaviest sank into the lowest place; they that were of a lesser
magnitude, being round, smooth, and slippery, these meeting with
those heavier bodies were easily broken into pieces, and were
carried into higher places. But when that force whereby these
variously particles figured particles fought with and struck one
another, and forced the lighter upwards, did cease, and there was
no farther power left to drive them into superior regions, yet they
were wholly hindered from descending downwards, and were compelled
to reside in those places capable to receive them; and these were
the heavenly spaces, unto which a multitude of these small bodies
were hurled, and these being thus shivered fell into coherence and
mutual embraces, and by this means the heaven was produced. Then a
various and great multitude of atoms enjoying the same nature, as
it is before asserted, being hurried aloft, did form the stars.
The multitude of these exhaled bodies, having struck and broke the
air in shivers, forced a passage through it; this being turned into
wind invested the stars, as it moved, and whirled them about, by
which means to this present time that circulary motion which these
stars have in the heavens is maintained. Much after the same
manner the earth was made; for by those little particles whose
gravity made them to reside in the lower places the earth was
formed. The heaven, fire, and air were constituted of those
particles which were carried aloft. But a great deal of matter
remaining in the earth, this being condensed by the driving of the
winds and the air from the stars, every little part and form of it
was compressed, which created the element of water; but this being
fluidly disposed did run into those places which were hollow, and
these places were those that were capable to receive and protect
it; or the water, subsisting by itself, did make the lower places
hollow. After this manner the principal parts of the world
WHETHER THE UNIVERSE IS ONE SINGLE THING.
The Stoics pronounce that the world is one thing, and this they
say is the universe and is corporeal.
But Empedocles's opinion is, that the world is one; yet by no
means the system of this world must be styled the universe, but
that it is a small part of it, and the remainder is
What to Plato seems the truest he thus declares, that there is one
world, and that world is the universe; and this he endeavors to
evince by three arguments. First, that the world could not be
complete and perfect, if it did not within itself include all
beings. Secondly, nor could it give the true resemblance of its
original and exemplar, if it were not the one only begotten thing.
Thirdly, it could not be incorruptible, if there were any being out
of its compass to whose power it might be obnoxious. But to Plato
it may be thus returned. First, that the world is not complete and
perfect, nor doth it contain all things within itself. And if man
is a perfect being, yet he doth not encompass all things.
Secondly, that there are many exemplars and originals of statues,
houses, and pictures. Thirdly, how is the world perfect, if
anything beyond it is possible to be moved about it? But the world
is not incorruptible, nor can it be so conceived, because it had
To Metrodorus it seems absurd, that in a large field one only
stalk should grow, and in an infinite space one only world exist;
and that this universe is infinite is manifest by this, that there
is an infinity of causes. Now if this world be finite and the
causes producing it infinite, it follows that the worlds likewise
be infinite; for where all causes concur, there the effects also
must appear, let the causes be what they will, either atoms
WHENCE DID MEN OBTAIN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXISTENCE AND ESSENCE
OF A DEITY?
The Stoics thus define the essence of a god. It is a spirit
intellectual and fiery, which acknowledges no shape, but is
continually changed into what it pleases, and assimilates itself to
all things. The knowledge of this deity they first received from
the pulchritude of those things which so visibly appeared to us;
for they concluded that nothing beauteous could casually or
fortuitously be formed, but that it was framed from the art of a
great understanding that produced the world. That the world is
very resplendent is made perspicuous from the figure, the color,
the magnitude of it, and likewise from the wonderful variety of
those stars which adorn this world. The world is spherical;
the orbicular hath the pre-eminence above all other figures, for
being round itself it hath its parts like itself. (On this account,
according to Plato, the understanding, which is the most sacred
part of man, is in the head.) The color of it is most beauteous;
for it is painted with blue; which, though little blacker than
purple, yet hath such a shining quality, that by reason of the
vehement efficacy of its color it cuts through such a space of air;
whence it is that at so great a distance the heavens are to be
contemplated. And in this very greatness of the world the beauty
of it appears. View all things: that which contains the rest
carries a beauty with it, as an animal or a tree. Also things
which are visible to us accomplish the beauty of the world.
The oblique circle called the Zodiac in heaven is with different
images painted and distinguished:--
There's Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and the Claws;
Scorpio, Arcitenens, and Capricorn;
Amphora, Pisces, then the Ram, and Bull;
The lovely pair of Brothers next succeed.
There are a thousand others that give us the suitable reflections
of the beauty of the world. Thus Euripides:--
The starry splendor of the skies,
The beautiful and varied work of that wise
From this the knowledge of a god is conveyed to man; that the sun,
the moon, and the rest of the stars, being carried under the earth,
rise again in their proper color, magnitude, place, and times.
Therefore they who by tradition delivered to us the knowledge and
veneration of the gods did it by these three manner of ways:--
first, from Nature; secondly, from fables; thirdly, from the
testimony supplied by the laws of commonwealths. Philosophers
taught the natural way; poets, the fabulous; and the political way
is to be had from the constitutions of each commonwealth.
All sorts of this learning are distinguished into these seven
parts. The first is from things that are conspicuous, and the
observation of those bodies which are in places superior to us.
To men the heavenly bodies that are so visible did give the
knowledge of the deity; when they contemplated that they are the
causes of so great an harmony, that they regulate day and night,
winter and summer, by their rising and setting, and likewise
considered those things which by their influences in the earth do
receive a being and do likewise fructify. It was manifest to men
that the Heaven was the father of those things, and the Earth the
mother; that the Heaven was the father is clear, since from the
heavens there is the pouring down of waters, which have their
spermatic faculty; the Earth the mother, because she receives them
and brings forth. Likewise men considering that the stars are
running (Greek omitted) in a perpetual motion, that the sun and
moon give us the stimulus to view and contemplate (Greek omitted),
they call them all gods (Greek omitted).
In the second and third place, they thus distinguished the deities
into those which are beneficial and those that are injurious to
mankind. Those which are beneficial they call Jupiter, Juno,
Mercury, Ceres; those who are mischievous the Dirae, Furies, and
Mars. These, which threaten dangers and violence, men endeavor to
appease and conciliate by sacred rites. The fourth and the fifth
order of gods they assign to things and passions; to passions,
Love, Venus, and Desire; the deities that preside over things,
Hope, Justice, and Eunomia.
The sixth order of deities are the ones made by the poets;
Hesiod, willing to find out a father for those gods that
acknowledge an original, invented their progenitors,--
Hyperion, Coeus, and Iapetus,
(Hesiod, "Theogony," 134.)
upon which account this is called the fabulous. The seventh rank
of the deities added to the rest are those which, by their
beneficence to mankind, were honored with a divine worship, though
they were born of mortal race; of this sort were Hercules, Castor
and Pollux, and Bacchus. These are reputed to be of a human
species; for of all beings that which is divine is most excellent,
and man amongst all animals is adorned with the greatest beauty, is
also the best, being adorned by virtue above the rest because of
the gift of intellect: therefore it was thought that those who were
admirable for excellence should resemble that which is the best and
WHAT IS GOD?
Some of the philosophers, such as Diagoras the Melian, Theodorus
the Cyrenean, and Euemerus the Tegeatan, did deny unanimously that
there were any gods; and Callimachus the Cyrenean discovered his
mind concerning Euemerus in these Iambic verses, thus writing:--
To th' ante-mural temple flock apace,
Where he that long ago composed of brass
Great Jupiter, Thrasonic old bald pate,
Now scribbles impious books,--a boastful ass!
meaning books which prove there are no gods. Euripides the
tragedian durst not openly declare his sentiment; the court of
Areopagus terrified him. Yet he sufficiently manifested his
thoughts by this method. He presented in his tragedy Sisyphus,
the first and great patron of this opinion, and introduced himself
as one agreeing with him:--
Disorder in those days did domineer,
And brutal power kept the world in fear.
Afterwards by the sanction of laws wickedness was suppressed;
but by reason that laws could prohibit only public villanies, yet
could not hinder many persons from acting secret impieties, some
wise persons gave this advice, that we ought to blind truth with
lying disguises, and persuade men that there is a God:--
There's an eternal God does hear and see
And understand every impiety;
Though it in dark recess or thought committed be.
But this poetical fable ought to be rejected, he thought, along
with Callimachus, who thus saith:--
If you believe a God, it must be meant
That you conceive this God omnipotent.
But God cannot do everything; for, if it were so, then a God could
make snow black, and the fire cold, and him that is in a posture
of sitting to be upright, and so on the contrary. The brave-
speaking Plato pronounceth that God formed the world after his own
image; but this smells rank of the old dotages, old comic writers
would say; for how did God, casting his eye upon himself, frame
this universe? Or how can God be spherical, and be inferior
Anaxagoras avers that bodies did consist from all eternity, but the
divine intellect did reduce them into their proper orders, and
effected the origination of all beings. But Plato did not suppose
that the primary bodies had their consistence and repose, but that
they were moved confusedly and in disorder; but God, knowing that
order was better than confusion, did digest them into the best
methods. Both these were equally peccant; for both suppose God to
be the great moderator of human affairs and for that cause to have
formed this present world; when it is apparent that an immortal and
blessed being, replenished with all his glorious excellencies, and
not at all obnoxious to any sort of evil, but being wholly occupied
with his own felicity and immortality, would not employ himself
with the concerns of men; for certainly miserable is the being
which, like a laborer or artificer, is molested by the troubles and
cares which the forming and governing of this world must give him.
Add to this, that the God whom these men profess was either not at
all existing before this present world (when bodies were either
reposed or in a disordered motion), or that at that time God did
either sleep, or else was in a constant watchfulness, or that he
did neither of these. Now neither the first nor the second can be
entertained, because they suppose God to be eternal; if God from
eternity was in a continual sleep, he was in an eternal death,--and
what is death but an eternal sleep?--but no sleep can affect a
deity, for the immortality of God and alliance to death are vastly
different. But if God was in a continual vigilance, either there
was something wanting to make him happy, or else his beatitude was
perfectly complete; but according to neither of these can God be
said to be blessed; not according to the first, for if there be any
deficiency there is no perfect bliss; not according to the second,
for, if there be nothing wanting to the felicity of God, it must be
a needless enterprise for him to busy himself in human affairs.
And how can it be supposed that God administers by his own
providence human concerns, when to vain and trifling persons
prosperous things happen, to great and high adverse?
Agamemnon was both
A virtuous prince, for warlike acts renowned,
("Iliad," iii. 179.)
and by an adulterer and adulteress was vanquished and perfidiously
slain. Hercules, after he had freed the life of man from many
things that were pernicious to it, perished by the witchcraft and
poison of Deianira.
Thales said that the intelligence of the world was God.
Anaximander concluded that the stars were heavenly deities.
Democritus said that God, being a globe of fire, is the
intelligence and the soul of the world.
Pythagoras says that, of his principles, unity is God; and the
good, which is indeed the nature of a unity, is mind itself;
but the binary number, which is infinite, is a daemon, and evil,
--about which the multitude of material beings and this visible
world are related.
Socrates and Plato agree that God is that which is one, hath its
original from its own self, is of a singular subsistence, is one
only being perfectly good; all these various names signifying
goodness do all centre in mind; hence God is to be understood as
that mind and intellect, which is a separate idea, that is to say,
pure and unmixed of all matter, and not mingled with anything
subject to passions.
Aristotle's sentiment is, that God hath his residence in superior
regions, and hath placed his throne in the sphere of the universe,
and is a separate idea; which sphere is an ethereal body, which is
by him styled the fifth essence or quintessence. For there is a
division of the universe into spheres, which are contiguous by
their nature but appear to reason to be separated; and he concludes
that each of the spheres is an animal, composed of a body and soul;
the body of them is ethereal, moved orbicularly, the soul is the
rational form, which is unmoved, and yet is the cause that the
sphere is in motion.
The Stoics affirm that God is a thing more common and obvious, and
is a mechanic fire which every way spreads itself to produce the
world; it contains in itself all seminal virtues, and by this means
all things by a fatal necessity were produced. This spirit,
passing through the whole world, received different names from the
mutations in the matter through which it ran in its journey.
God therefore is the world, the stars, the earth, and (highest of
all) the mind in the heavens. In the judgment of Epicurus all the
gods are anthropomorphites, or have the shape of men; but they are
perceptible only by reason, for their nature admits of no other
manner of being apprehended, their parts being so small and fine
that they give no corporeal representations. The same Epicurus
asserts that there are four other natural beings which are
immortal: of this sort are atoms, the vacuum, the infinite, and the
similar parts; and these last are called Homoeomeries and
OF THOSE THAT ARE CALLED GENIUSES AND HEROES
Having treated of the essence of the deities in a just order, it
follows that we discourse of daemons and heroes.
Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, and the Stoics do conclude that daemons
are essences endowed with souls; that the heroes are the souls
separated from their bodies, some are good, some are bad; the good
are those whose souls are good, the evil those whose souls are
wicked. All this is rejected by Epicurus.
Matter is that first being which is substrate for generation,
corruption, and all other alterations.
The disciples of Thales and Pythagoras, with the Stoics, are of
opinion that matter is changeable, mutable, convertible, and
sliding through all things.
The followers of Democritus aver that the vacuum, the atom, and
the incorporeal substance are the first beings, and not obnoxious
Aristotle and Plato affirm that matter is of that species which is
corporeal, void of any form, species, figure, and quality, but apt
to receive all forms, that she may be the nurse, the mother, and
origin of all other beings. But they that do say that water,
earth, air, and fire are matter do likewise say that matter cannot
be without form, but conclude it is a body; but they that say
that individual particles and atoms are matter do say that matter
is without form.
An idea is a being incorporeal, not subsisting by itself, but
gives figure unto shapeless matter, and becomes the cause of
Socrates and Plato conjecture that these ideas are beings separate
from matter, subsisting in the understanding and imagination of
the deity, that is, of mind.
Aristotle accepted forms and ideas; but he doth not believe them
separated from matter, or patterns of the things God has made.
Those Stoics, that are of the school of Zeno, profess that ideas
are nothing else but the conceptions of our own mind.
A cause is that by which anything is produced, or by which
anything is effected.
Plato gives this triple division of causes,--the material, the
efficient, and the final cause; the principal cause he judges to
be the efficient, which is the mind and intellect.
Pythagoras and Aristotle judge the first causes are incorporeal
beings, but those that are causes by accident or participation
become corporeal substances; by this means the world is corporeal.
The Stoics grant that all causes are corporeal, inasmuch as they
A body is that being which hath these three dimensions, breadth,
depth, and length;--or a bulk which makes a sensible resistance;--
or whatsoever of its own nature possesseth a place.
Plato saith that it is neither heavy nor light in its own nature,
when it exists in its own place; but being in the place where
another should be, then it has an inclination by which it tends to
gravity or levity.
Aristotle saith that, if we simply consider things in their own
nature, the earth only is to be judged heavy, and fire light;
but air and water are on occasions heavy and at other times light.
The Stoics think that of the four elements two are light, fire and
air; two ponderous, earth and water; that which is naturally light
doth by its own nature, not by any inclination, recede from its
own centre; but that which is heavy doth by its own nature tend to
its centre; for the centre is not a heavy thing in itself.
Epicurus thinks that bodies are not limited; but the first bodies,
which are simple bodies, and all those composed of them, all
acknowledge gravity; that all atoms are moved, some
perpendicularly, some obliquely; some are carried aloft either by
immediate impulse or with vibrations.
OF THOSE THINGS THAT ARE LEAST IN NATURE.
Empedocles, before the four elements, introduceth the most minute
bodies which resemble elements; but they did exist before the
elements, having similar parts and orbicular.
Heraclitus brings in the smallest fragments, and those
A figure is the exterior appearance, the circumscription, and the
boundary of a body.
The Pythagoreans say that the bodies of the four elements are
spherical, fire being in the supremest place only excepted, whose
figure is conical.
Color is the visible quality of a body.
The Pythagoreans called color the external appearance of a body.
Empedocles, that which is consentaneous to the passages of the
eye. Plato, that they are fires emitted from bodies, which have
parts harmonious for the sight. Zeno the Stoic, that colors are
the first figurations of matter. The Pythagoreans, that colors
are of four sorts, white and black, red and pale; and they derive
the variety of colors from the mixtures of the elements, and that
seen in animals also from the variety of food and the air.
OF THE DIVISION OF BODIES.
The disciples of Thales and Pythagoras grant that all bodies are
passible and divisible into infinity. Others hold that atoms and
indivisible parts are there fixed, and admit not of a division
into infinity. Aristotle, that all bodies are potentially but not
actually divisible into infinity.
HOW BODIES ARE MIXED AND CONTEMPERATED ONE WITH ANOTHER.
The ancient philosophers held that the mixture of elements
proceeded from the alteration of qualities; but the disciples of
Anaxagoras and Democritus say it is done by apposition.
Empedocles composes the elements of still minuter bulks, those
which are the most minute and may be termed the element of
elements. Plato assigns three bodies (but he will not allow these
to be elements, nor properly so called), air, fire, and water,
which are mutable into one another; but the earth is mutable into
none of these.
OF A VACUUM.
All the natural philosophers from Thales to Plato rejected a
vacuum. Empedocles says that there is nothing of a vacuity in
Nature, nor anything superabundant. Leucippus, Democritus,
Demetrius, Metrodorus, Epicurus, that the atoms are in number
infinite; and that a vacuum is infinite in magnitude. The Stoics,
that within the compass of the world there is no vacuum, but
beyond it the vacuum is infinite. Aristotle, that the vacuum
beyond the world is so great that the heaven has liberty to
breathe into it, for the heaven is fiery.
Plato, to define place, calls it that thing which in its own bosom
receives forms and ideas; by which metaphor he denotes matter,
being (as it were) a nurse or receptacle of beings.
Aristotle, that it is the ultimate superficies of the circumambient
body, contiguous to that which it doth encompass.
The Stoics and Epicureans make a place, a vacuum, and space to
differ. A vacuum is that which is void of anything that may be
called a body; place is that which is possessed by a body; a space
that which is partly filled with a body, as a cask with wine.
In the sense of Pythagoras, time is that sphere which encompasses
the world. Plato says that it is a movable image of eternity, or
the interval of the world's motion.
Eratosthenes, that it is the solar motion.
OF THE SUBSTANCE AND NATURE OF TIME.
Plato says that the heavenly motion is time. Most of the Stoics
that motion is time. Most philosophers think that time had no
commencement; Plato, that time had only in intelligence
Plato and Pythagoras say that motion is a difference and alteration
in matter. Aristotle, that it is the actual operation of that
which may be moved. Democritus, that there is but one sort of
motion, and it is that which is vibratory. Epicurus, that there
are two species of motion, one perpendicular, and the other
oblique. Herophilus, that one species of motion is obvious only to
reason, the other to sense. Heraclitus utterly denies that there
is anything of quiet or repose in nature; for that is the state of
the dead; one sort of motion is eternal, which he assigns to beings
eternal, the other perishable, to those things which
OF GENERATION AND CORRUPTION.
Parmenides Melissus, and Zeno deny that there are any such things
as generation and corruption, for they suppose that the universe is
unmovable. Empedocles, Epicurus, and other philosophers that
combine in this, that the world is framed of small corporeal
particles meeting together, affirm that corruption and generation
are not so properly to be accepted; but there are conjunctions and
separations, which do not consist in any distinction according to
their qualities, but are made according to quantity by coalition or
disjunction. Pythagoras, and all those who take for granted that
matter is subject to mutation, say that generation and corruption
are to be accepted in their proper sense, and that they are
accomplished by the alteration, mutation, and dissolution
Thales says that necessity is omnipotent, and that it exerciseth
an empire over everything. Pythagoras, that the world is invested
by necessity. Parmenides and Democritus, that there is nothing in
the world but what is necessary, and that this same necessity is
otherwise called fate, justice, providence, and the architect of
OF THE NATURE OF NECESSITY.
But Plato distinguisheth and refers some things to Providence,
others to necessity. Empedocles makes the nature of necessity to
be that cause which employs principles and elements.
Democritus makes it to be a resistance, impulse, and force of
matter. Plato sometimes says that necessity is matter; at other
times, that it is the habitude or respect of the efficient cause
OF DESTINY OR FATE.
Heraclitus, who attributes all things to fate, makes necessity to
be the same thing with it. Plato admits of a necessity in the
minds and the acts of men, but yet he introduceth a cause which
flows from ourselves. The Stoics, in this agreeing with Plato,
say that necessity is a cause invincible and violent; that fate is
the ordered complication of causes, in which there is an intexture
of those things which proceed from our own determination, so that
certain things are to be attributed to fate, others not.
OF THE NATURE OF FATE.
According to Heraclitus, the essence of fate is a certain reason
which penetrates the substance of all being; and this is an
ethereal body, containing in itself that seminal faculty which
gives an original to every being in the universe. Plato affirms
that it is the eternal reason and the eternal law of the nature of
the world. Chrysippus, that it is a spiritual faculty, which in
due order doth manage and rule the universe. Again, in his book
styled the "Definitions," that fate is the reason of the world, or
that it is that law whereby Providence rules and administers
everything that is in the world; or it is that reason by which all
things have been, all things are, and all things will be produced.
The Stoics say that it is a chain of causes, that is, it is an
order and connection of causes which cannot be resisted.
Posidonius, that it is a being the third in degree from Jupiter;
the first of beings is Jupiter, the second Nature, and the
Plato says, that it is an accidental cause and a casual consequence
in things which proceed from the election and counsel of men.
Aristotle, that it is an accidental cause in those things done by
an impulse for a certain end; and this cause is uncertain and
unstable: there is a great deal of difference betwixt that which
flows from chance and that which falls out by Fortune; for that
which is fortuitous allows also chance, and belongs to things
practical; but what is by chance cannot be also by Fortune, for it
belongs to things without action: Fortune, moreover, pertains to
rational beings, but chance to rational and irrational beings
alike, and even to inanimate things. Epicurus, that it is a cause
not always consistent, but various as to persons, times, and
manners. Anaxagoras and the Stoics, that it is that cause which
human reason cannot comprehend; for there are some things which
proceed from necessity, some things from Fate, some from choice and
free-will, some from Fortune, some from chance.
Empedocles affirms that Nature is nothing else but the mixture and
separation of the elements; for thus he writes in the first book
of his natural philosophy:--
Nature gives neither life nor death,
Mutation makes us die or breathe.
The elements first are mixed, then each
Do part: this Nature is in mortal speech.
Anaxagoras is of the same opinion, that Nature is coalition and
separation, that is, generation and corruption.
Having finished my dissertation concerning principles and elements
and those things which chiefly appertain to them, I will turn my
pen to discourse of those things which are produced by them, and
will take my beginning from the world, which contains and
encompasseth all beings.
OF THE WORLD.
Pythagoras was the first philosopher that called the world [Greek
omitted], from the order and beauty of it; for so that word
signifies. Thales and his followers say the world is one.
Democritus, Epicurus, and their scholar Metrodorus affirm that
there are infinite worlds in an infinite space, for that infinite
vacuum in its whole extent contains them. Empedocles, that the
circle which the sun makes in its motion circumscribes the world,
and that circle is the utmost bound of the world. Seleucus, that
the world knows no limits. Diogenes, that the universe is
infinite, but this world is finite. The Stoics make a difference
between that which is called the universe, and that which is called
the whole world;--the universe is the infinite space considered
with the vacuum, the vacuity being removed gives the right
conception of the world; so that the universe and the world are not
the same thing.
OF THE FIGURE OF THE WORLD.
The Stoics say that the figure of the world is spherical, others
that it is conical, others oval. Epicurus, that the figure of the
world may be globular, or that it may admit of other shapes.
WHETHER THE WORLD BE AN ANIMAL.
Democritus, Epicurus, and those philosophers who introduced atoms
and a vacuum, affirm that the world is not an animal, nor governed
by any wise Providence, but that it is managed by a nature which is
void of reason. All the other philosophers affirm that the world
is informed with a soul, and governed by reason and Providence.
Aristotle is excepted, who is somewhat different; he is of opinion,
that the whole world is not acted by a soul in every part of it,
nor hath it any sensitive, rational, or intellectual faculties, nor
is it directed by reason and Providence in every part of it; of all
which the heavenly bodies are made partakers, for the circumambient
spheres are animated and are living beings; but those things which
are about the earth are void of those endowments; and though those
terrestrial bodies are of an orderly disposition, yet that is
casual and not primogenial.
WHETHER THE WORLD IS ETERNAL AND INCORRUPTIBLE.
Pythagoras [and Plato], agreeing with the Stoics, affirm that the
world was framed by God, and being corporeal is obvious to the
senses, and in its own nature is obnoxious to destruction; but it
shall never perish, it being preserved by the providence of God.
Epicurus, that the world had a beginning, and so shall have an
end, as plants and animals have. Xenophanes, that the world never
had a beginning, is eternal and incorruptible. Aristotle, that
the part of the world which is sublunary is subject to change, and
there terrestrial beings find a decay.
WHENCE DOES THE WORLD RECEIVE ITS NUTRIMENT?
Aristotle says that, if the world be nourished, it will likewise
be dissolved; but it requires no aliment, and will therefore be
eternal. Plato, that this very world prepares for itself a
nutriment, by the alteration of those things which are corruptible
in it. Philolaus affirms that a destruction happens to the world
in two ways; either by fire failing from heaven, or by the
sublunary water being poured down through the whirling of the air;
and the exhalations proceeding from thence are aliment of
FROM WHAT ELEMENT GOD DID BEGIN TO RAISE THE FABRIC OF THE WORLD.
The natural philosophers pronounce that the forming of this world
took its original from the earth, it being its centre, for the
centre is the principal part of the globe. Pythagoras, from the
fire and the fifth element. Empedocles determines, that the first
and principal element distinct from the rest was the aether, then
fire, after that the earth, which earth being strongly compacted by
the force of a potent revolution, water springs from it, the
exhalations of which water produce the air; the heaven took its
origin from the aether, and fire gave a being to the sun;
those things nearest to the earth are condensed from the
remainders. Plato, that the visible world was framed after the
exemplar of the intellectual world; the soul of the visible world
was first produced, then the corporeal figure, first that which
proceeded from fire and earth, then that which came from air and
water. Pythagoras, that the world was formed of five solid figures
which are called mathematical; the earth was produced by the cube,
the fire by the pyramid, the air by the octahedron, the water by
the icosahedron, and the globe of the universe by the dodecahedron.
In all these Plato hath the same sentiments with Pythagoras.
IN WHAT FORM AND ORDER THE WORLD WAS COMPOSED.
Parmenides maintains that there are small coronets alternately
twisted one within another, some made up of a thin, others of a
condensed, matter; and there are others between mixed mutually
together of light and of darkness, and around them all there is a
solid substance, which like a firm wall surrounds these coronets.
Leucippus and Democritus cover the world round about, as with a
garment and membrane. Epicurus says that that which abounds some
worlds is thin, and that which limits others is gross and
condensed; and of these spheres some are in motion, others are
fixed. Plato, that fire takes the first place in the world, the
second the aether, after that the air, under that the water;
the last place the earth possesseth: sometimes he puts the aether
and the fire in the same place. Aristotle gives the first place to
the aether, as that which is impassible, it being a kind of a fifth
body after which he placeth those that are passible, fire, air, and
water, and last of all the earth. To those bodies that are
accounted celestial he assigns a motion that is circular, but to
those that are seated under them, if they be light bodies, an
ascending, if heavy, a descending motion. Empedocles, that the
places of the elements are not always fixed and determined, but
they all succeed one another in their respective stations.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE WORLD'S INCLINATION.
Diogenes and Anaxagoras state that, after the world was composed
and had produced living creatures, the world out of its own
propensity made an inclination toward the south. Perhaps this may
be attributed to a wise Providence (they affirm), that thereby
some parts of the world may be habitable, others uninhabitable,
according as the various climates are affected with a rigorous
cold, or a scorching heat, or a just temperament of cold and heat.
Empedocles, that the air yielding to the impetuous force of the
solar rays, the poles received an inclination; whereby the
northern parts were exalted and the southern depressed, by which
means the whole world received its inclination.
OF THAT THING WHICH IS BEYOND THE WORLD, AND WHETHER IT BE A
VACUUM OR NOT.
Pythagoras and his followers say that beyond the world there is a
vacuum, into which and out of which the world hath its
respiration. The Stoics, that there is a vacuum into which
infinite space by a conflagration shall be dissolved.
Posidonius, not an infinite vacuum, but as much as suffices for the
dissolution of the world; and this he asserts in his first book
concerning the Vacuum. Aristotle affirms, that a vacuum does not
exist. Plato concludes that neither within nor without the world
there is any vacuum.
WHAT PARTS OF THE WORLD ARE ON THE RIGHT HAND, AND WHAT ON
Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle declare that the eastern parts of
the world, from whence motion commences, are of the right, those
of the western are of the left hand of the world. Empedocles,
that those that are of the right hand face the summer solstice,
those of the left the winter solstice.
OF HEAVEN, WHAT IS ITS NATURE AND ESSENCE.
Anaximenes affirms that the circumference of heaven makes the
limit of the earth's revolution. Empedocles, that the heaven is a
solid substance, and hath the form and hardness of crystal, it
being composed of the air compacted by fire, and that in both
hemispheres it invests the elements of air and fire.
Aristotle, that it is formed by the fifth body, and by the mixture
of extreme heat and cold.
INTO HOW MANY CIRCLES IS THE HEAVEN DISTINGUISHED; OR, OF THE
DIVISION OF HEAVEN.
Thales, Pythagoras, and the followers of Pythagoras do distribute
the universal globe of heaven into five circles, which they
denominate zones; one of which is called the arctic circle, which
is always conspicuous to us, another is the summer tropic, another
is the solstice, another is the winter tropic, another is the
antarctic circle, which is always out of sight. The circle called
the zodiac is placed under the three that are in the midst, and is
oblique, gently touching them all. Likewise, they are all divided
in right angles by the meridian, which goes from pole to pole.
It is supposed that Pythagoras made the first discovery of the
obliquity of the zodiac, but one Oenopides of Chios challenges to
himself the invention of it.
WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF THE STARS, AND HOW THEY ARE COMPOSED.
Thales affirms that they are globes of earth set on fire.
Empedocles, that they are fiery bodies arising from that fire which
the aether embraced within itself, and did shatter in pieces when
the elements were first separated one from another.
Anaxagoras, that the circumambient aether is of a fiery substance,
which, by a vehement force in its whirling about, did tear stones
from the earth, and by its own power set them on fire, and
establish them as stars in the heavens. Diogenes thinks they
resemble pumice stones, and that they are the breathings of the
world; again he supposeth that there are some invisible stones,
which fall sometimes from heaven upon the earth, and are there
quenched; as it happened at Aegos-potami, where a stony star
resembling fire did fall. Empedocles, that the fixed stars
fastened to the crystal, but the planets are loosened. Plato, that
the stars for the most part are of a fiery nature, but they are
made partakers of another element, with they are mixed after the
resemblance of glue. Zenophanes, that they are composed of
inflamed clouds, which in the daytime are quenched, and in the
night are kindled again. The like we see in coals; for the rising
and setting of the stars is nothing else but the quenching and
kindling of them. Heraclitus and the Pythagoreans, that every star
is a world in an infinite aether, and encompasseth air, earth, and
aether; this opinion is current among the disciples of Orpheus, for
they suppose that each of the stars does make a world.
Epicurus condemns none of these opinions, for he embraces anything
that is possible.
OF WHAT FIGURE THE STARS ARE.
The Stoics say that the stars are of a circular form, like as the
sun, the moon, and the world. Cleanthes, that they are of a
conical figure. Anaximenes, that they are fastened as nails in
the crystalline firmament; some others, that they are fiery plates
of gold, resembling pictures.
OF THE ORDER AND PLACE OF THE STARS.
Xenocrates says that the stars are moved in one and the same
superficies. The other Stoics say that they are moved in various
superficies, some being superior, others inferior.
Democritus, that the fixed stars are in the highest place;
after those the planets; after these the sun, Venus, and the moon,
in order. Plato, that the first after the fixed stars that makes
its appearance is Phaenon, the star of Saturn; the second Phaeton,
the star of Jupiter; the third the fiery, which is the star of
Mars; the fourth the morning star, which is the star of Venus;
the fifth the shining star, and that is the star of Mercury; in the
sixth place is the sun, in the seventh the moon. Plato and some of
the mathematicians conspire in the same opinion; others place the
sun as the centre of the planets. Anaximander, Metrodorus of
Chios, and Crates assign to the sun the superior place, after him
the moon, after them the fixed stars and planets.
OF THE MOTION AND CIRCULATION OF THE STARS.
Anaxagoras, Democritus, and Cleanthes say that all the stars have
their motion from east to west. Alcmaeon and the mathematicians,
that the planets have a contrary motion to the fixed stars, and in
opposition to them are carried from the west to the east.
Anaximander, that they are carried by those circles and spheres on
which they are placed. Anaximenes, that they are turned under and
about the earth. Plato and the mathematicians, that the sun,
Venus, and Mercury hold equal measures in their motions.
WHENCE DO THE STARS RECEIVE THEIR LIGHT?
Metrodorus says that all the fixed stars derive their light from
the sun. Heraclitus and the Stoics, that earthly exhalations are
those by which the stars are nourished. Aristotle, that the
heavenly bodies require no nutriment, for they being eternal cannot
be obnoxious to corruption. Plato and the Stoics, that the whole
world and the stars are fed by the same things.
WHAT ARE THOSE STARS WHICH ARE CALLED THE DIOSCURI, THE TWINS,
OR CASTOR AND POLLUX?
Xenophanes says that those which appear as stars in the tops of
ships are little clouds brilliant by their peculiar motion.
Metrodorus, that the eyes of frighted and astonished people emit
those lights which are called the Twins.
HOW STARS PROGNOSTICATE, AND WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF WINTER
Plato says that the summer and winter indications proceed from the
rising and setting of the stars, that is, from the rising and
setting of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars. Anaximenes, that
the rest in this are not at all concerned, but that it is wholly
performed by the sun. Eudoxus and Aratus assign it in common to
all the stars, for thus Aratus says:--
Thund'ring Jove stars in heaven hath fixed,
And them in such beauteous order mixed,
Which yearly future things predict.
OF THE ESSENCE OF THE SUN.
Anaximander says, that the sun is a circle eight and twenty times
bigger than the earth, and has a circumference very much like that
of a chariot-wheel, which is hollow and full of fire; the fire of
which appears to us through its mouth, as by an aperture in a pipe;
and this is the sun. Xenophanes, that the sun is constituted of
small bodies of fire compacted together and raised from a moist
exhalation, which condensed make the body of the sun; or that it is
a cloud enfired. The Stoics, that it is an intelligent flame
proceeding from the sea. Plato, that it is composed of abundance
of fire. Anaxagoras, Democritus, and Metrodorus, that it is an
enfired stone, or a burning body. Aristotle, that it is a sphere
formed out of the fifth body. Philolaus the Pythagorean, that the
sun shines as crystal, which receives its splendor from the fire of
the world and so reflecteth its light upon us; so that first, the
body of fire which is celestial is in the sun; and secondly, the
fiery reflection that comes from it, in the form of a mirror;
and lastly, the rays spread upon us by way of reflection from that
mirror; and this last we call the sun, which is (as it were) an
image of an image. Empedocles, that there are two suns; the one
the prototype, which is a fire placed in the other hemisphere,
which it totally fills, and is always ordered in a direct
opposition to the reflection of its own light; and the sun which is
visible to us, formed by the reflection of that splendor in the
other hemisphere (which is filled with air mixed with heat), the
light reflected from the circular sun in the opposite hemisphere
falling upon the crystalline sun; and this reflection is borne
round with the motion of the fiery sun. To give briefly the full
sense, the sun is nothing else but the light and brightness of that
fire which encompasseth the earth. Epicurus, that it is an earthy
bulk well compacted, with ores like a pumice-stone or a sponge,
kindled by fire.
OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THE SUN.
Anaximander says, that the sun itself in greatness is equal to the
earth, but that the circle from whence it receives its respiration
and in which it is moved is seven and twenty times larger than the
earth. Anaxagoras, that it is far greater than Peloponnesus.
Heraclitus, that it is no broader than a man's foot.
Epicurus, that he equally embraceth all the foresaid opinions,--
that the sun may be of magnitude as it appears, or it may be
somewhat greater or somewhat less.
WHAT IS THE FIGURE OR SHAPE OF THE SUN.
Anaximenes affirms that in its dilatation it resembles a leaf.
Heraclitus, that it hath the shape of a boat, and is somewhat
crooked. The Stoics, that it is spherical, and it is of the same
figure with the world and the stars. Epicurus, that the recited
dogmas may be defended.
OF THE TURNING AND RETURNING OF THE STARS, OR THE SUMMER AND
Anaximenes believes that the stars are forced by a condensed and
resisting air. Anaxagoras, by the repelling force of the northern
air, which is violently pushed on by the sun, and thus rendered
more condensed and powerful. Empedocles, that the sun is hindered
from a continual direct course by its spherical vehicle and by the
two circular tropics. Diogenes, that the sun, when it comes to its
utmost declination, is extinguished, a rigorous cold damping the
heat. The Stoics, that the sun maintains its course only through
that space in which its sustenance is seated, let it be the ocean
or the earth; by the exhalations proceeding from these it is
nourished. Plato, Pythagoras, and Aristotle, that the sun receives
a transverse motion from the obliquity of the zodiac, which is
guarded by the tropics; all these the globe clearly manifests.
OF THE ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.
Thales was the first who affirmed that the eclipse of the sun was
caused by the moon's running in a perpendicular line between it and
the world; for the moon in its own nature is terrestrial. And by
mirrors it is made perspicuous that, when the sun is eclipsed, the
moon is in a direct line below it. Anaximander, that the sun is
eclipsed when the fiery mouth of it is stopped and hindered from
respiration. Heraclitus, that it is after the manner of the
turning of a boat, when the concave seems uppermost to our sight,
and the convex nethermost. Xenophanes, that the sun is eclipsed
when it is extinguished; and that a new sun is created and rises in
the east. He gives a farther account of an eclipse of the sun
which remained for a whole month, and again of an eclipse which
changed the day into night. Some declare that the cause of an
eclipse is the invisible concourse of condensed clouds which cover
the orb of the sun. Aristarchus placeth the sun amongst the fixed
stars, and believeth that the earth [the moon?] is moved about the
sun, and that by its inclination and vergency it intercepts its
light and shadows its orb. Xenophanes, that there are many suns
and many moons, according as the earth is distinguished by
climates, circles, and zones. At some certain times the orb of the
sun, falling upon some part of the world which is untenanted,
wanders in a vacuum and becomes eclipsed. The same person affirms
that the sun proceeding in its motion in the infinite space,
appears to us to move orbicularly, taking that representation from
its infinite distance from us.
OF THE ESSENCE OF THE MOON.
Anaximander affirms that the circle of the moon is nineteen times
bigger than the earth, and resembles the sun, its orb being full of
fire; and it suffers an eclipse when the wheel makes a revolution,
--which he describes by the divers turnings of a chariot-wheel, in
the midst of it there being a hollow nave replenished with fire,
which hath but one way of expiration. Xenophanes, that it is a
condensed cloud. The Stoics, that it is mixed of fire and air.
Plato, that it is a body of the greatest part fiery.
Anaxagoras and Democritus, that it is a solid, condensed, and fiery
body, in which there are flat countries, mountains, and valleys.
Heraclitus, that it is an earth covered with a bright cloud.
Pythagoras, that the body of the moon was of a nature resembling
OF THE SIZE OF THE MOON.
The Stoics declare, that in magnitude it exceeds the earth, just
as the sun itself doth. Parmenides, that it is equal to the sun,
from whom it receives its light.
OF THE FIGURE OF THE MOON.
The Stoics believe that it is of the same figure with the sun,
spherical. Empedocles, that the figure of it resembles a quoit.
Heraclitus, a boat. Others, a cylinder.
FROM WHENCE IS IT THAT THE MOON RECEIVES HER LIGHT?
Anaximander thinks that she gives light to herself, but it is very
slender and faint. Antiphon, that the moon shines by its own
proper light; but when it absconds itself, the solar beams darting
on it obscure it. Thus it naturally happens, that a more vehement
light puts out a weaker; the same is seen in other stars.
Thales and his followers, that the moon borrows all her light of
the sun. Heraclitus, that the sun and moon are after the same
manner affected; in their configurations both are shaped like
boats, and are made conspicuous to us by receiving their light from
moist exhalations. The sun appears to us more refulgent, by reason
it is moved in a clearer and purer air; the moon appears more
duskish, it being carried in an air more troubled and gross.
OF THE ECLIPSE OF THE MOON.
Anaximenes believes that the mouth of the wheel, about which the
moon is turned, being stopped is the cause of an eclipse.
Berasus, that it proceeds from the turning of the dark side of the
lunar orb towards us. Heraclitus, that it is performed just after
the manner of a boat turned upside downwards. Some of the
Pythagoreans say, that the splendor arises from the earth, its
obstruction from the Antichthon (or counter-earth). Some of the
later philosophers, that there is such a distribution of the lunar
flame, that it gradually and in a just order burns until it be full
moon; in like manner, that this fire decays by degrees, until its
conjunction with the sun totally extinguisheth it.
Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and all the mathematicians agree,
that the obscurity with which the moon is every month affected
ariseth from a conjunction with the sun, by whose more resplendent
beams she is darkened; and the moon is then eclipsed when she falls
upon the shadow of the earth, the earth interposing between the sun
and moon, or (to speak more properly) the earth intercepting the
light of the moon.
OF THE PHASES OF THE MOON, OR THE LUNAR ASPECTS; OR HOW IT COMES
TO PASS THAT THE MOON APPEARS TO US TERRESTRIAL.
The Pythagoreans say, that the moon appears to us terraneous, by
reason it is inhabited as our earth is, and in it there are animals
of a larger size and plants of a rarer beauty than our globe
affords; that the animals in their virtue and energy are fifteen
degrees superior to ours; that they emit nothing excrementitious;
and that the days are fifteen times longer. Anaxagoras, that the
reason of the inequality ariseth from the commixture of things
earthy and cold; and that fiery and caliginous matter is jumbled
together, whereby the moon is said to be a star of a counterfeit
aspect. The Stoics, that on account of the diversity of her
substance the composition of her body is subject to corruption.
HOW FAR THE MOON IS REMOVED FROM THE SUN.
Empedocles declares, that the distance of the moon from the sun is
double her remoteness from the earth. The mathematicians, that her
distance from the sun is eighteen times her distance from the
earth. Eratosthenes, that the sun is remote from the earth seven
hundred and eighteen thousand furlongs.
OF THE YEAR, AND HOW MANY CIRCULATIONS MAKE UP THE GREAT YEAR OF
The year of Saturn is completed when he has had his circulation in
the space of thirty solar years; of Jupiter in twelve; of Mars in
two, of the sun in twelve months; in so many Mercury and Venus, the
spaces of their circulation being equal; of the moon in thirty
days, in which time her course from her prime to her conjunction is
finished. As to the great year, some make it to consist of eight
years solar, some of nineteen, others of fifty-nine. Heraclitus, of
eighteen thousand. Diogenes, of three hundred and sixty-five such
years as Heraclitus assigns. Others there are who lengthen it to
seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven years.
In my two precedent treatises having in due order taken a
compendious view and given an account of the celestial bodies, and
of the moon which stands between them and the terrestrial, I must
now convert my pen to discourse in this third book of Meteors,
which are beings above the earth and below the moon, and are
extended to the site and situation of the earth, which is supposed
to be the centre of the sphere of this world; and from thence will
I take my beginning.
OF THE GALAXY, OR THE MILKY WAY.
It is a cloudy circle, which continually appears in the air, and by
reason of the whiteness of its colors is called the galaxy, or the
milky way. Some of the Pythagoreans say that, when Phaeton set the
world on fire, a star falling from its own place in its circular
passage through the region caused an inflammation. Others say that
originally it was the first course of the sun; others, that it is
an image as in a looking-glass, occasioned by the sun's reflecting
its beams towards the heavens, and this appears in the clouds and
in the rainbow. Metrodorus, that it is merely the solar course, or
the motion of the sun in its own circle. Parmenides, that the
mixture of a thick and thin substance gives it a color which
resembles milk. Anaxagoras, that the sun moving under the earth
and not being able to enlighten every place, the shadow of the
earth, being cast upon the part of the heavens, makes the galaxy.
Democritus, that it is the splendor which ariseth from the
coalition of many small bodies, which, being firmly united amongst
themselves, do mutually enlighten one another. Aristotle, that it
is the inflammation of dry, copious, and coherent vapor, by which
the fiery mane, whose seat is beneath the aether and the planets,
is produced. Posidonius, that it is a combination of fire, of
finer substance than the stars, but denser than light.
OF COMETS AND SHOOTING FIRES, AND THOSE WHICH RESEMBLE BEAMS.
Some of the Pythagoreans say, that a comet is one of those stars
which do not always appear, but after they have run through their
determined course, they then rise and are visible to us.
Others, that it is the reflection of our sight upon the sun, which
gives the resemblance of comets much after the same manner as
images are reflected in mirrors. Anaxagoras and Democritus, that
two or more stars being in conjunction by their united light make a
comet. Aristotle, that it is a fiery coalition of dry exhalations.
Strato, that it is the light of the star darting through a thick
cloud that hath invested it; this is seen in light shining through
lanterns. Heraclides, native of Pontus, that it is a lofty cloud
inflamed by a sublime fire. The like causes he assigns to the
bearded comet, to those circles that are seen about the sun or
stars, or those meteors which resemble pillars or beams, and all
others which are of this kind. This way unanimously go all the
Peripatetics, holding that these meteors, being formed by the
clouds, do differ according to their various configurations.
Epigenes, that a comet arises from a rising of spirit or wind,
mixed with an earthy substance and set on fire. Boethus, that it
is a phantasy presented to us by fiery air. Diogenes, that comets
are stars. Anaxagoras, that those styled shooting stars descend
from the aether like sparks, and therefore are soon extinguished.
Metrodorus, that it is a forcible illapse of the sun upon clouds
which makes them to sparkle as fire. Xenophanes, that all such
fiery meteors are nothing else but the conglomeration of the
enfired clouds, and the flashing motions of them.
OF VIOLENT ERUPTION OF FIRE OUT OF THE CLOUDS. OF LIGHTNING.
OF THUNDER. OF HURRICANES. OF WHIRLWINDS.
Anaximander affirms that all these are produced by the wind after
this manner: the wind being enclosed by condensed clouds, on
account of its minuteness and lightness violently endeavors to make
a passage; and in breaking through the cloud gives noise; and the
tearing the cloud, because of the blackness of it, gives a
resplendent flame. Metrodorus, that when the wind falls upon a
cloud whose densing firmly compacts it, by breaking the cloud it
causeth a great noise, and by striking and rending the cloud it
gives the flame; and in the swiftness of its motion, the sun
imparting heat to it, it throws out the bolt. The weak declining
of the thunderbolt ends in a violent tempest. Anaxagoras, that
when heat and cold meet and are mixed together (that is, ethereal
parts with airy), thereby a great noise of thunder is produced, and
the color observed against the blackness of the cloud occasions the
flashing of fire; the full and great splendor is lightning, the
more enlarged and embodied fire becomes a whirlwind, the cloudiness
of it gives the hurricane. The Stoics, that thunder is the
clashing of clouds one upon another, the flash of lightning is
their fiery inflammation; their more rapid splendor is the
thunderbolt, the faint and weak the whirlwind. Aristotle, that all
these proceed from dry exhalations, which, if they meet with moist
vapors, forcing their passage, the breaking of them gives the noise
of thunder; they, being very dry, take fire and make lightning;
tempests and hurricanes arise from the plenitude of matter which
each draw to themselves, the hotter parts attracted make the
whirlwinds, the duller the tempests.
OF CLOUDS, RAIN, SNOW, AND HAIL.
Anaximenes thinks that the air by being very much condensed clouds
are formed; this air being more compacted, rain is compressed
through it; when water in its falling down freezeth, then snow is
generated; when it is encompassed with a moist air, it is hail.
Metrodorus, that a cloud is composed of a watery exhalation carried
into a higher place. Epicurus, that they are made of vapors; and
that hail and snow are formed in a round figure, being in their
long descent pressed upon by the circumambient air.
OF THE RAINBOW.
Those things which affect the air in the superior places of it are
of two sorts. Some have a real subsistence, such are rain and
hail; others not. Those which enjoy not a proper subsistence are
only in appearance; of this sort is the rainbow. Thus the
continent to us that sail seems to be in motion.
Plato says, that men admiring it feigned that it took origination
from one Thaumas, which word signifies admiration. Homer sings:--
Jove paints the rainbow with a purple dye,
Alluring man to cast his wandering eye.
(Iliad, xvii. 547.)
Others therefore fabled that the bow hath a head like a bull, by
which it swallows up rivers.
But what is the cause of the rainbow? It is evident that what
apparent things we see come to our eyes in right or in crooked
lines, or by refraction: these are incorporeal and to sense
obscure, but to reason they are obvious. Those which are seen in
right lines are those which we see through the air or horn or
transparent stones, for all the parts of these things are very fine
and tenuous; but those which appear in crooked lines are in water,
the thickness of the water presenting them bended to our sight.
This is the reason that oars in themselves straight, when put into
the sea, appear to us crooked. The third manner of our seeing is
by refraction, and this is perspicuous in mirrors. After this third
sort the rainbow is affected. We conceive it is a moist exhalation
converted into a cloud, and in a short space it is dissolved into
small and moist drops. The sun declining towards the west, it will
necessarily follow that the whole bow is seen opposite to the sun;
for the eye being directed to those drops receives a refraction,
and by this means the bow is formed. The eye doth not consider the
figure and form, but the color of these drops; the first of which
colors is a shining red, the second a purple, the third is blue and
green. Let us consider whether the reason of this red shining
color be the splendor of the sun falling upon these small drops,
the whole body of light being refracted, by which this bright red
color is produced; the second part being troubled and the light
languishing in the drops, the color becomes purple (for the purple
is the faint red); but the third part, being more and more
troubled, is changed into the green color. And this is proved by
other effects of Nature; if any one shall put water in his mouth
and spit it out so opposite to the sun, that its rays may be
refracted on the drops, he shall see the resemblance of a rainbow;
the same appears to men that are blear-eyed, when they fix their
watery eyes upon a candle.
Anaximenes thinks the bow is thus formed; the sun casting its
splendor upon a thick, black, and gross cloud, and the rays not
being in a capacity to penetrate beyond the superficies.
Anaxagoras, that, the solar rays being reflected from a condensed
cloud, the sun being placed directly opposite to it forms the bow
after the mode of the repercussion of a mirror; after the same
manner he assigns the natural cause of the Parhelia or mock-suns,
which are often seen in Pontus. Metrodorus, that when the sun
casts its splendor through a cloud, the cloud gives itself a blue,
and the light a red color.
OF METEORS WHICH RESEMBLE RODS, OR OF RODS.
These rods and the mock-suns are constituted of a double nature, a
real subsistence, and a mere appearance;--of a real subsistence,
because the clouds are the object of our eyes; of a mere
appearance, for their proper color is not seen, but that which is
adventitious. The like affections, natural and adventitious, in
all such things do happen.
Anaximander believes that wind is a fluid air, the sun putting
into motion or melting the moist subtle parts of it. The Stoics,
that all winds are a flowing air, and from the diversity of the
regions whence they have their origin receive their denomination;
as, from darkness and the west the western wind; from the sun and
its rising the eastern; from the north the northern, and from the
south the southern winds. Metrodorus, that moist vapors heated by
the sun are the cause of the impetuousness of violent winds.
The Etesian, or those winds which annually commence about the
rising of the Little Dog, the air about the northern pole being
more compacted, blow violently following the sun when it returns
from the summer solstice.
OF WINTER AND SUMMER.
Empedocles and the Stoics believe that winter is caused by the
thickness of the air prevailing and mounting upwards; and summer
by fire, it falling downwards.
This description being given by me of Meteors, or those things
that are above us, I must pass to those things which are
OF THE EARTH, WHAT IS ITS NATURE AND MAGNITUDE.
Thales and his followers say that there is but one earth.
Hicetes the Pythagorean, that there are two earths, this and the
Antichthon, or the earth opposite to it. The Stoics, that this
earth is one, and that finite and limited. Xenophanes, that the
earth, being compacted of fire and air, in its lowest parts hath
laid a foundation in an infinite depth. Metrodorus, that the
earth is mere sediment and dregs of water, as the sun is of
OF THE FIGURE OF THE EARTH.
Thales, the Stoics, and their followers say that the earth is
globular. Anaximander, that it resembles a smooth stony pillar.
Anaximenes, that it hath the shape of a table. Leucippus, of a
drum. Democritus, that it is like a quoit externally, and hollow
in the middle.
OF THE SITE AND POSITION OF THE EARTH.
The disciples of Thales say that the earth is the centre of the
universe. Xenophanes, that it is first, being rooted in the
infinite space. Philolaus the Pythagorean gives to fire the
middle place, and this is the source fire of the universe;
the second place to the Antichthon; the third to that earth which
we inhabit, which is placed in opposition unto and whirled about
the opposite,--which is the reason that those which inhabit that
earth cannot be seen by us. Parmenides was the first that confined
the habitable world to the two solstitial (or temperate) zones.
OF THE INCLINATION OF THE EARTH.
Leucippus affirms that the earth vergeth towards the southern
parts, by reason of the thinness and fineness that is in the
south; the northern parts are more compacted, they being congealed
by a rigorous cold, but those parts of the world that are opposite
are enfired. Democritus, because, the southern parts of the air
being the weaker, the earth as it enlarges bends towards the
south; the northern parts are of an unequal, the southern of an
equal temperament; and this is the reason that the earth
bends towards those parts where the earth is laden with fruits and
its own increase.
OF THE MOTION OF THE EARTH.
Most of the philosophers say that the earth remains fixed in the
same place. Philolaus the Pythagorean, that it is moved about the
element of fire, in an oblique circle, after the same manner of
motion that the sun and moon have. Heraclides of Pontus and
Ecphantus the Pythagorean assign a motion to the earth, but not
progressive, but after the manner of a wheel being carried on its
own axis; thus the earth (they say) turns itself upon its own
centre from west to east. Democritus, that when the earth was
first formed it had a motion, the parts of it being small and
light; but in process of time the parts of it were condensed, so
that by its own weight it was poised and fixed.
INTO HOW MANY ZONES IS THE EARTH DIVIDED?
Pythagoras says that, as the celestial sphere is distributed into
five zones, into the same number is the terrestrial; which zones
are the arctic and antarctic, the summer and winter tropics (or
temperate zones), and the equinoctial; the middle of which zones
equally divides the earth and constitutes the torrid zone;
but that portion which is in between the summer and winter tropics
is habitable, by reason the air is there temperate.
Thales and Democritus assign the cause of earthquakes to water.
The Stoics say that it is a moist vapor contained in the earth,
making an irruption into the air, that causes the earthquake.
Anaximenes, that the dryness and rarity of the earth are the cause
of earthquakes, the one of which is produced by extreme drought,
the other by immoderate showers. Anaxagoras, that the air
endeavoring to make a passage out of the earth, meeting with a
thick superficies, is not able to force its way, and so shakes the
circumambient earth with a trembling. Aristotle, that a cold
vapor encompassing every part of the earth prohibits the
evacuation of vapors; for those which are hot, being in themselves
light, endeavor to force a passage upwards, by which means the dry
exhalations, being left in the earth, use their utmost endeavor to
make a passage out, and being wedged in, they suffer various
circumvolutions and shake the earth. Metrodorus, that whatsoever
is in its own place is incapable of motion, except it be pressed
upon or drawn by the operation of another body; the earth being so
seated cannot naturally be moved, yet divers parts and places of
the earth may move one upon another. Parmenides and Democritus,
that the earth being so equally poised hath no sufficient ground
why it should incline more to one side than to the other; so that
it may be shaken, but cannot be removed. Anaximenes, that the
earth by reason of its latitude is borne upon by the air which
presseth upon it. Others opine that the earth swims upon the
waters, as boards and broad planks, and by that reason is moved.
Plato, that motion is by six manner of ways, upwards, downwards,
on the right hand and on the left, behind and before; therefore
it is not possible that the earth should be moved in any of these
modes, for it is altogether seated in the lowest place;
it therefore cannot receive a motion, since there is nothing about
it so peculiar as to cause it to incline any way; but some parts
of it are so rare and thin that they are capable of motion.
Epicurus, that the possibility of the earth's motion ariseth
from a thick and aqueous air under the earth, that may, by
moving or pushing it, be capable of quaking; or that being so
compassed, and having many passages, it is shaken by the wind which
is dispersed through the hollow dens of it.
OF THE SEA, AND HOW IT IS COMPOSED, AND HOW IT BECOMES TO THE
Anaximander affirms that the sea is the remainder of the
primogenial humidity, the greatest part of which being dried up by
the fire, the influence of the great heat altered its quality.
Anaxagoras that in the beginning water did not flow, but was as a
standing pool; and that it was burnt by the movement of the sun
about it, by which the oily part of the water being exhaled, the
residue became salt. Empedocles, that the sea is the sweat of
the earth heated by the sun. Antiphon, that the sweat of that
which was hot was separated from the rest which were moist;
these by seething and boiling became bitter, as happens in all
sweats. Metrodorus, that the sea was strained through the earth,
and retained some part of its density; the same is observed in all
those things which are strained through ashes. The schools of
Plato, that the element of water being compacted by the rigor of
the air became sweet, but that part which was expired from the
earth, being enfired, became of a brackish taste.
OF TIDES, OR OF THE EBBING AND FLOWING OF THE SEA.
Aristotle and Heraclides say, they proceed from the sun, which
moves and whirls about the winds; and these falling with a
violence upon the Atlantic, it is pressed and swells by them, by
which means the sea flows; and their impression ceasing, the sea
retracts, hence they ebb. Pytheas the Massilian, that the fulness
of the moon gives the flow, the wane the ebb. Plato attributes it
all to a certain balance of the sea, which by means of a mouth or
orifice causes the tide; and by this means the seas do rise and
flow alternately. Timaeus believes that those rivers which fall
from the mountains of the Celtic Gaul into the Atlantic produce a
tide. For upon their entering upon that sea, they violently press
upon it, and so cause the flow; but they disemboguing themselves,
there is a cessation of the impetuousness, by which means the ebb
is produced. Seleucus the mathematician attributes a motion to
the earth; and thus he pronounceth that the moon in its
circumlation meets and repels the earth in its motion;
between these two, the earth and the moon, there is a vehement wind
raised and intercepted, which rushes upon the Atlantic Ocean, and
gives us a probable argument that it is the cause the sea is
troubled and moved.
OF THE AUREA, OR A CIRCLE ABOUT A STAR.
The aurea or circle is thus formed. A thick and dark air
intervening between the moon or any other star and our eye, by
which means our sight is dilated and reflected, when now our sight
falls upon the outward circumference of the orb of that star,
there presently seems a circle to appear. This circle thus
appearing is called the [Greek omitted] or halo; and there is
constantly such a circle seen by us, when such a density of
Having taken a survey of the general parts of the world, I will
take a view of the particular members of it.
OF THE OVERFLOWING OF THE NILE.
Thales conjectures that the Etesian or anniversary northern winds
blowing strongly against Egypt heighten the swelling of the Nile,
the mouth of that river being obstructed by the force of the sea
rushing into it. Euthymenes the Massilian concludes that the Nile
is filled by the ocean and that sea which is outward from it, the
last being naturally sweet. Anaxagoras, that the snow in Ethiopia
which is frozen in winter is melted in summer, and this makes the
inundation. Democritus, that the snows which are in the northern
climates when the sun enters the summer solstice are dissolved and
diffused; from those vapors clouds are compacted, and these are
forcibly driven by the Etesian winds into the southern parts and
into Egypt, from whence violent showers are poured; and by this
means the fens of Egypt are filled with water, and the river Nile
hath its inundation. Herodotus the historian, that the waters of
the Nile receive from their fountain an equal portion of water in
winter and in summer; but in winter the water appears less,
because the sun, making its approach nearer to Egypt, draws up the
rivers of that country into exhalation. Ephorus the
historiographer, that in summer all Egypt seems to be melted and
sweats itself into water, to which the thin and sandy soils of
Arabia and Lybia contribute. Eudoxus relates that the Egyptian
priests affirm that, when it is summer to us who dwell under the
northern tropic, it is winter with them that inhabit under the
southern tropic; by this means there is a various contrariety and
opposition of the seasons in the year, which cause such showers to
fall as make the water to overflow the banks of the Nile and
diffuse itself throughout all Egypt.
OF THE SOUL.
Thales first pronounced that the soul is that being which is in a
perpetual motion, or that whose motion proceeds from itself.
Pythagoras, that it is a number moving itself; he takes a number
to be the same thing with a mind. Plato, that it is an
intellectual substance moving itself, and that motion is in a
numerical harmony. Aristotle, that it is the first actuality
[Greek ommitted] of a natural organical body which has life
potentially; and this actuality must be understood to be the same
thing with energy or operation. Dicaearchus, that it is the
harmony of the four elements. Asclepiades the physician, that it
is the concurrent exercitation of the senses.
WHETHER THE SOUL BE A BODY, AND WHAT IS THE NATURE AND
ESSENCE OF IT.
All those named by me do affirm that the soul itself is
incorporeal, and by its own nature is in a motion, and in its own
self is an intelligent substance, and the living actuality of a
natural organical body. The followers of Anaxagoras, that it is
airy and a body. The Stoics, that it is a hot exhalation.
Democritus, that it is a fiery composition of things which are
perceptible by reason alone, the same having their forms spherical
and without an inflaming faculty; and it is a body.
Epicurus, that it is constituted of four qualities, of a fiery
quality, of an aerial quality, a pneumatical, and of a fourth
quality which hath no name, but it contains the virtue of the
sense. Heraclitus, that the soul of the world is the exhalation
which proceeds from the moist parts of it; but the soul of animals,
arising from exhalations that are exterior and from those that are
within them, is homogeneous to it.
OF THE PARTS OF THE SOUL.
Plato and Pythagoras, according to their first account, distribute
the soul into two parts, the rational and irrational. By a more
accurate and strict account the soul is branched into three parts;
they divide the unreasonable part into the concupiscible and the
irascible. The Stoics say the soul is constituted of eight parts;
five of which are the senses, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching,
smelling, the sixth is the faculty of speaking, the seventh of
generating, the eighth of commanding; this is the principal of
all, by which all the other are guided and ordered in their proper
organs, as we see the eight arms of a polypus aptly disposed.
Democritus and Epicurus divide the soul into two parts, the one
rational, which bath its residence in the breast, and the
irrational, which is diffused through the whole structure of the
body. Democritus, that the quality of the soul is communicated to
everything, yea, to the dead corpses; for they are partakers of
heat and some sense, when the most of both is expired out
WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL PART OF THE SOUL, AND IN WHAT PART OF THE
BODY IT RESIDES.
Plato and Democritus place its residence in the whole head.
Strato, in that part of the forehead where the eyebrows are
separated. Erasiatratus, in the Epikranis, or membrane which
involves the brain. Herophilus, in that sinus of the brain which
is the basis of it. Parmenides, in the breast; which opinion is
embraced by Epicurus. The Stoics are generally of this opinion,
that the seat of the soul is throughout the heart, or in the
spirit about it. Diogenes, in the arterial ventricle of the
heart, which is also full of vital spirit. Empedocles, in the
mass of the blood. There are that say it is in the neck of the
heart, others in the pericardium, others in the midriff.
Certain of the Neoterics, that the seat of the soul is extended
from the head to the diaphragm. Pythagoras, that the animal part
of the soul resides in the heart, the intellectual in the head.
OF THE MOTION OF THE SOUL.
Plato believes that the soul is in perpetual motion, but that it
is immovable as regards motion from place to place.
Aristotle, that the soul is not naturally moved, but its motion is
accidental, resembling that which is in the forms of bodies.
OF THE SOUL'S IMMORTALITY.
Plato and Pythagoras say that the soul is immortal; when it
departs out of the body, it retreats to the soul of the world,
which is a being of the same nature with it. The Stoics, when the
souls leave the bodies, they are carried to divers places;
the souls of the unlearned and ignorant descend to the
coagmentation of earthly things, but the learned and vigorous last
till the general fire. Epicurus and Democritus, the soul is
mortal, and it perisheth with the body. Plato and Pythagoras, that
part of the soul of man which is rational is eternal; for though it
be not God, yet it is the product of an eternal deity; but that
part of the soul which is divested of reason dies.
OF THE SENSES, AND OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE OBJECTS
OF THE SENSES,
The Stoics give this definition of sense: Sense is the
Apprehension or comprehension of an object by means of an organ
of sensation. There are several ways of expressing what sense is;
it is either a habit, a faculty, an operation, or an imagination
which apprehends by means of an organ of sense,--and also the
eighth principal thing, from whence the senses originate.