Apuleius, On the Cosmos


This site presents a working draft of a new English translation of Apuleius’ De Mundo. You can view it alongside the Aristotelian Περὶ κόσμου (commonly, but for these purposes confusingly, also known as De Mundo), presented here in a new English translation, designed to give the best possible sense of where the texts most diverge from each other. The Latin and Greek texts are available to view in parallel with each other, and with the translations. The following are the options if you would like to download the translations: [Aristotle] translation (Word document) | Apuleius translation (Word document) | the two in parallel (pdf).


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 [Aristotle], On the Cosmos (English)
Περὶ κόσμου (Greek)
 Apuleius, De Mundo (Latin)
 Apuleius, On the Cosmos (English)



[Aristotle], On the Cosmos

[Aristotle], Peri Kosmou

Apuleius, De mundo

Apuleius, On the Cosmos


Philosophy has often struck me as a godlike and divine thing, Alexander, especially in cases where it alone can elevate us to the contemplation of the universe, and concerns itself with knowing the truth about them. Others keep their distance from it because it is too elevated, too vast. But philosophy is not afraid of this subject, and does not think itself unworthy of what is more beautiful than anything else. On the contrary, it supposes that it has close affinity with it, and that it is especially suited to learning about these things. We cannot reach heaven physically, or leave the earth in order to inspect the holy country there [10] – as the foolish Aloiadai once had it in mind to do. But thanks to philosophy, the soul, led by the intellect, is elevated and transported; it finds itself on a tireless journey, and in the regions of the mind it surveys things that normally stand far away. It easily recognises what is akin to it, I suppose, and the soul’s divine eye grasps things that are divine – and delivers them as prophetic revelation to humans.


Πολλάκις μὲν ἔμοιγε θεῖόν τι καὶ δαιμόνιον ὄντως χρῆμα, ὦ Ἀλέξανδρε, ἡ φιλοσοφία ἔδοξεν εἶναι, μάλιστα δὲ ἐν οἷς μόνη διαραμένη πρὸς τὴν τῶν ὅλων [Lorimer: ὄντων] θέαν ἐσπούδασε γνῶναι τὴν ἐν αὐτοῖς ἀλήθειαν, καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ταύτης ἀποστάντων διὰ τὸ ὕψος καὶ τὸ μέγεθος, αὕτη τὸ πρᾶγμα οὐκ ἔδεισεν οὐδαὑτὴν τῶν καλλίστων ἀπηξίωσεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ συγγενεστάτην ἑαυτῇ καὶ μάλιστα πρέπουσαν ἐνόμισεν εἶναι τὴν ἐκείνων μάθησιν. Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ οὐχ οἷόν τε ἦν τῷ σώματι εἰς τὸν οὐράνιον ἀφικέσθαι τόπον καὶ τὴν γῆν ἐκλιπόντα τὸν ἱερὸν [391a10] ἐκεῖνον χῶρον κατοπτεῦσαι, καθάπερ οἱ ἀνόητοί ποτε ἐπενόουν Ἀλῳάδαι, ἡ γοῦν ψυχὴ διὰ φιλοσοφίας, λαβοῦσα ἡγεμόνα τὸν νοῦν, ἐπεραιώθη καὶ ἐξεδήμησεν, ἀκοπίατόν τινα ὁδὸν εὑροῦσα, καὶ τὰ πλεῖστον ἀλλήλων ἀφεστῶτα τοῖς τόποις τῇ διανοίᾳ συνεφόρησε, ῥᾳδίως, οἶμαι, τὰ συγγενῆ γνωρίσασα, καὶ θείῳ ψυχῆς ὄμματι τὰ θεῖα καταλαβομένη, τοῖς τε ἀνθρώποις προφητεύουσα.


[Proem] Consideranti mihi et diligentius intuenti, et saepe alias, Faustine fili, uirtutis indagatrix expultrixque uitiorum, diuinarum particeps rerum philosophia uidebatur, et nunc maxime, cum naturae interpretationem et remotarum ab oculis rerum inuestigationem sibi uindicet. Nam cum ceteri magnitudine rei territi, eiusmodi laborem arduum et profundum existimarent, sola philosophia suum non despexit ingenium, nec indignam se existimauit, cui diuinarum et humanarum rerum disc[r]eptatio deferatur; sed concinere [accidere] tam bonas artes et eiusmodi operam cum ingenuitate professionis suae credidit, et congruere istius modi curam talibus studiis et moribus. Nam cum mundum homines eiusque penetralia corpore adire non possent, ut terreno domicilio <relicto> illas regiones inspicerent, philosophiam ducem nancti eiusque inuentis inbuti, animo peregrinari ausi sunt per caeli plagas, his itineribus quae exploratione acuminis sui peruia sapientiae solis cogitationibus uiderant, ut, cum ipsius interualli condicione a mundi uicinia natura nos secretos esse uoluisset, inmensitati tamen eius uolucrique curriculo cogitationum nostrarum nos pernicitas intimaret; facillimeque ea, de quibus origo eius est, anima diuinis suis oculis aspexit, agnouit, aliis etiam eius scientiam tradidit, ueluti prophetae quidam deorum maiestate conpleti effantur ceteris, quae diuino beneficio soli uident.


[285] When I have been reflecting, and delving deeper, it has often struck me, Faustinus, my son, that philosophy is the pursuit of virtue and scourge of the vices: it participates in things divine. That is especially true in the present case, since the ability to interpret nature and to investigate things that are far beyond what we can see is something that philosophy claims for itself. Others quail at the magnitude of the subject: they think that the work this sort of thing requires is difficult and deep. Only philosophy does not doubt its own ability, or think itself unworthy, [286] because to philosophy is given judgement of matters divine as well as human. On the contrary, in fact: it believes that these beautiful sciences, and the work they involve, are consistent with its calling, that such an occupation suits its interests and inclinations. [287] Human beings cannot physically visit the cosmos and its interior, cannot leave behind their terrestrial home to inspect those regions; but taking the lead of philosophy and steeped in its discoveries they have dared to travel intellectually through the regions of heaven, taking roads which their own incisive investigation showed them to be passable only in thought and for the wise. So, although nature wanted our distance from the cosmos to keep us away from its neighbourhood, [288] our agile thinking gains us an acquaintance with it, with its size and its careering circuits. The mind possesses godlike ‘eyes’ which can easily make out and recognise the well-springs of the cosmos, and the intellect passes this knowledge on to others – [acting] just like prophets, who are filled by the majesty of the gods and reveal to everyone else what they alone, thanks to their divine gift, can see.

And so it is: for the soul wishes to communicate to everyone whomsoever, as far as it can, everything it values. This is why some people have laboured to sketch for us the nature of some particular place, or the layout of some particular city, or the extent of a river, or [20] the beauty of a mountain – all the kinds of thing people have done. Some of them talk about Ossa, some Nyssa, some the cave at Corycus, others whatever there happens to be in whatever place. One should pity them for their small-mindedness: they are struck with wonder at anything, and make a huge deal out of a trivial scene. This happens to them because they cannot see what is greater – I mean the cosmos, and the larger components of it. If they really knew, they would not ever experience wonder at any of these things, [391b1] but everything else would seem trivial to them, and not worth a thing in comparison to its superiority. So let me speak and, as far as it is achievable, theologise about all these things, the nature and disposition and movement of each. And I think it is fitting for you, as the best of leaders, to engage with an account of the greatest of things, and for philosophy not to think about anything trivial, but welcome the best [men] with gifts like these

Τοῦτο δὲ ἔπαθε, καθ’ ὅσον οἷόν τε ἦν, πᾶσιν ἀφθόνως μεταδοῦναι βουληθεῖσα τῶν παρ’ αὑτῇ τιμίων. Διὸ καὶ τοὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς διαγράψαντας ἡμῖν ἑνὸς τόπου φύσιν ἢ μιᾶς σχῆμα πόλεως ἢ ποταμοῦ μέγεθος [391a20] ἢ ὄρους κάλλος, οἷά τινες ἤδη πεποιήκασι, φράζοντες οἱ μὲν τὴν Ὄσσαν, οἱ δὲ τὴν Νύσσαν, οἱ δὲ τὸ Κωρύκιον ἄντρον, οἱ δὲ ὁτιοῦν ἔτυχε τῶν ἐπὶ μέρους, οἰκτίσειεν ἄν τις τῆς μικροψυχίας, τὰ τυχόντα ἐκπεπληγμένους καὶ μέγα φρονοῦντας ἐπὶ θεωρίᾳ μικρᾷ. Τοῦτο δὲ πάσχουσι διὰ τὸ ἀθέατοι τῶν κρειττόνων εἶναι, κόσμου λέγω καὶ τῶν ἐν κόσμῳ μεγίστων· οὐδέποτε γὰρ ἂν τούτοις γνησίως ἐπιστήσαντες [391b1] ἐθαύμαζόν τι τῶν ἄλλων, ἀλλὰ πάντα αὐτοῖς τὰ ἄλλα μικρὰ κατεφαίνετο ἂν καὶ οὐδενὸς ἄξια πρὸς τὴν τούτων ὑπεροχήν. Λέγωμεν δὴ ἡμεῖς καί, καθ’ ὅσον ἐφικτόν, θεολογῶμεν περὶ τούτων συμπάντων, ὡς ἕκαστον ἔχει φύσεως καὶ θέσεως καὶ κινήσεως. Πρέπειν δέ γε οἶμαι καὶ σοί, ὄντι ἡγεμόνων ἀρίστῳ, τὴν τῶν μεγίστων ἱστορίαν μετιέναι, φιλοσοφίᾳ τε μηδὲν μικρὸν ἐπινοεῖν, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τοιούτοις δώροις δεξιοῦσθαι τοὺς ἀρίστους.

Quare et eos, qui unius loci ingenia nobis qualitatesque describunt, aut moenia urbis aut alicuius amnis fluenta aut amoenitates et magnitudines montium, alia multa descripta ab aliis, plerique studiose legunt: Nysae iuga et penetralia Coryci, et Olympi sacra, et Ossae ardua, alia huiuscemodi sola dumtaxat et singula extollunt. Quorum me miseret, cum tanto opere nec magnis et oppido paucis inexplebili admiratione capiuntur. Hoc illis euenire adeo non est mirabile, cum nihil maius suspexerint neque ad aliquid intenderint, quod maiore diligentia contemplandum esset. Ceterum si terrarum orbem omnemque mundum contemplari pariter aliquando potuissent, minus exiguas eius et singulas partes dignas laudibus credidissent, quibus esset uniuersitas conprehensa. Quare nos Aristotelen prudentissimum et doctissimum philosophorum et Theophrastum auctorem secuti, quantum possumus cogitatione contingere, dicemus de omni hac caelesti ratione, naturasque <et> officia conplexi et cur et quemadmodum moueantur explicabimus.

There are people who find no shortage of avid readers for their descriptions of the character and qualities of a particular place: the walls of a city, a stream that flows somewhere, the beauty and grandeur of the mountains, and all the many other things they have described. They enthuse about the cliffs at Nyssa, the caves at Corycus, the shrines at Olympus, the steeps of [Mount] Ossa – and so on, each and severally. [289] But I pity them: all their work, and it captures nothing of any size, nothing with the slightest claim on wonder. But it is not surprising that this is how it is with them: they have no inkling of anything greater, and do not attend to anything which a bit more effort would open to contemplation. If they could, just once, contemplate the terrestrial sphere, or the entire cosmos in the same way, it would convince them that the small individual parts which make up the whole were not so worthy of praise. Walking in the footsteps of Aristotle, the wisest and most learned of philosophers, and of Theophrastus, the writer, I shall, then, as far as my thought can achieve it, speak of the entire celestial system: I shall cover the kinds of things it includes along with their functions, and explain why and how they move.


So the cosmos is a system made from heaven and earth and [10] all the kinds encompassed within them. (‘Cosmos’ is used in another sense too, to mean the ordering and disposition of the universe protected by god and through god.) The life-giving earth is in the centre of it, unmoved and foundational, the hearth and mother of all kinds of living things. The upper part of the cosmos, which is entirely bounded by an outermost limit, is the dwelling-place of the gods, and is called ‘heaven’ [ouranos]. It is full of divine bodies, which we call ‘stars’; it is in eternal motion, and unites the unceasing dance of them all within a revolving circuit they all share. The whole heaven and cosmos is spherical [20] and is, as I said, in continual motion: but there must be two fixed points, opposite each other, as there are in the case of a ball rotating on a lathe, which remain fixed and hold the ball in place, and its whole mass turns around them. These fixed points are called ‘poles’: [392a1] if you imagine a straight line connecting them – some call this the ‘axis’ – it will be the diameter of the cosmos, with earth occupying the centre and the two poles its limits. The poles are unmoving. One is always visible, because it is over our heads in the northern region – it is called the ‘Arctic’; the other is always hidden on the other side of the earth to the south, and is called the ‘Antarctic’.


Κόσμος μὲν οὖν ἐστι σύστημα ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς καὶ τῶν [391b10] ἐν τούτοις περιεχομένων φύσεων. Λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἑτέρως κόσμος ἡ τῶν ὅλων τάξις τε καὶ διακόσμησις, ὑπὸ θεοῦ τε καὶ διὰ θεὸν φυλαττομένη. Ταύτης δὲ τὸ μὲν μέσον, ἀκίνητόν τε καὶ ἑδραῖον ὄν, ἡ φερέσβιος εἴληχε γῆ, παντοδαπῶν ζῴων ἑστία τε οὖσα καὶ μήτηρ. Τὸ δὲ ὕπερθεν αὐτῆς, πᾶν τε καὶ πάντῃ πεπερατωμένον εἰς τὸ ἀνωτάτω, θεῶν οἰκητήριον, οὐρανὸς ὠνόμασται. Πλήρης δὲ ὢν σωμάτων θείων, ἃ δὴ καλεῖν ἄστρα εἰώθαμεν, κινούμενος κίνησιν ἀίδιον, μιᾷ περιαγωγῇ καὶ κύκλῳ συναναχορεύει πᾶσι τούτοις ἀπαύστως δι’ αἰῶνος. Τοῦ δὲ σύμπαντος οὐρανοῦ τε καὶ κόσμου σφαιροειδοῦς [391b20] ὄντος καὶ κινουμένου, καθάπερ εἶπον, ἐνδελεχῶς, δύο ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἀκίνητά ἐστι σημεῖα, καταντικρὺ ἀλλήλων, καθάπερ τῆς ἐν τόρνῳ κυκλοφορουμένης σφαίρας, στερεὰ μένοντα καὶ συνέχοντα τὴν σφαῖραν, περὶ ἃ ὁ πᾶς ὄγκος κύκλῳ στρέφεται· καλοῦν|ται δὲ οὗτοι πόλοι· δι’ ὧν εἰ νοήσαιμεν ἐπεζευγμένην εὐθεῖαν, | ἥν τινες ἄξονα 392a1] καλοῦσι, διάμετρος ἔσται τοῦ κόσμου, μέσον | μὲν [392a1] ἔχουσα τὴν γῆν, τοὺς δὲ δύο πόλους πέρατα. Τῶν δὲ ἀκινήτων πόλων τούτων ὁ μὲν ἀεὶ φανερός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ κορυφὴν ὢν κατὰ τὸ βόρειον κλίμα, ἀρκτικὸς καλούμενος, ὁ δὲ ὑπὸ γῆν ἀεὶ κατακέκρυπται, κατὰ τὸ νότιον, ἀνταρκτικὸς καλούμενος.


1. Mundus omnis societate caeli et terrae constat et eorum natura quae utriusque sunt; uel sic: mundus est ornata ordinatio dei munere, deorum recta custodia. Cuius cardinem – sic enim dixerim κέντρονrobustum et inmobilem genetrix atque altrix animantium omnium habet tellus, supernis omnibus, ut uideri potest, aeris liquiditate ad modum tegminis saeptis et opertis. Vltra deorum domus est, quod caelum uocamus: quod quidem diuinis corporibus onustum uidemus, pulcherrimis ignibus et perlucidis solis et lunae reliquorumque siderum, cum quibus fertur per orbem dierum noctiumque curriculis, agens et stellarum choros intermino lapsu, finem nulla aeui defectione factura. Sed cum omne caelum ita reuoluatur ut sphaera, eam tamen radicibus oportet teneri, quas diuina machinatio uerticibus adfixit, ut in tornando artifex solet forcipe materiam conprehensam reciproco uolumine rotundare; eos polos dicimus, a quibus, ueluti a cardinibus, directio quaedam profecta axis est dictus, diuisor et disterminator mundi, orbem terrae in medietate constituens. Verum hi uertices, quos inmobiles diximus, ita sunt ut supra caput alter adpareat ex parte boreae, qui septemtrionalis uocatur; alter antarcticus humo tegitur, umidus et austrinis uaporibus mollis.


1. The cosmos as a whole consists in the combination of heaven and earth, and the nature of everything that belongs to either. Here is another [way of defining it]: the cosmos is an ordering adorned by god’s generosity and governed under the protection of the gods. [290] Its solid and immobile pivot (that is how I would render [the Greek word] kentron) is occupied by the earth, which is mother and nurse of all living things, and whose entire surface, as one can see, is enclosed and wrapped in the fluid air, which is like a vault. Beyond [the air] is the home of the gods, which we call ‘heaven’. We can actually see that it is full of divine bodies: those fires of unsurpassed beauty, the dazzling sun, the moon and the other stars. Heaven follows their circular paths through the cycles of day and night, leading the chorus of stars which slip along unceasingly, and will never come to an end for want of time. Since the whole heaven revolves in this way, like a ball, it has to be held – rooted as it were. Divine craftsmanship has fixed its vertices in just the way that a craftsman holds his wood in pincers when he turns it evenly on a lathe. We call these vertices ‘poles’: they are like axle-mounts, and the line which extends through is called an ‘axis’, bisecting the cosmos, and acting as a limit, keeping the earth’s sphere in its centre. The vertices, which, as I said, are fixed, are so positioned that one appears above us, to the north (the ‘Arctic’, as we call it), while the other (the ‘Antarctic’) is on the other side of the earth, in a place made humid and languid by the southern vapours.

We call the substance of the heaven and of the stars ‘aether’ – not, as some say, because it is fiery and ‘blazes’ (they confuse it with the completely different power possessed by fire), but because it ‘always rushes’ in a circular path: it is an element different from the four [elements], as one that does not mix and is divine.

Οὐρανοῦ δὲ καὶ ἄστρων οὐσίαν μὲν αἰθέρα καλοῦμεν, οὐχ, ὥς τινες, διὰ τὸ πυρώδη οὖσαν αἴθεσθαι, πλημμελοῦντες περὶ τὴν πλεῖστον πυρὸς ἀπηλλαγμένην δύναμιν, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ ἀεὶ θεῖν κυκλοφορουμένην, στοιχεῖον οὖσαν ἕτερον τῶν τεττάρων, ἀκήρατόν τε καὶ θεῖον.

Sed caelum ipsum stellaeque caeligenae omnisque siderea conpago aether[a] uocatur, non, ut quidam putant, quod 1.30 ignitus sit et incensus, sed quod cursibus rapidis semper rotetur, elementum non unum ex quattuor quae nota sunt cunctis, sed longe aliud, numero quintum, primum ordine, genere diuinum et inuiolabile.

[291] Heaven itself, and the stars which it nurtures, and the whole sidereal network, is referred to as ‘aether’ – not, as some think, because it is on fire and ‘burning’, but because of its ‘continual and rapid’ revolutions. Aether is not one of the four elements which everyone is familiar with, but is very different [from them]. It is counted as a fifth [element], but it is first in rank: divine and invulnerable in kind.

[10] Of the stars that the cosmos encompasses, some revolve along with the whole heaven, without wandering, but keeping to the same place. In the middle of them, the so-called ‘zodiac’ forms an oblique girdle between the tropics; it is divided into twelve areas corresponding to the signs [of the zodiac]. Other stars, the ‘wanderers’ [= ‘planets’], do not move with the same speed as the former, or as each other, but they all have their own circles, so that, among them, one is closer to earth and another further out. The number of the fixed stars is undiscoverable to humans, although they move on the single plane of the whole heaven. But that of the planets amounts all told to seven, situated on as many circles, which are arranged in sequence [20] so that the higher is larger than the lower. The seven circles are nested in each other, but all are surrounded by the sphere of the fixed stars. The circle of Phainon, also called that of Cronus, always has the place next in from it; and then that of Phaethon, also known as the circle of Zeus; then Pyroeis, known as the sphere both of Heracles and of Ares. Sixth is Stilbon, which some call the sphere of holy Hermes, but others that of Apollo. After that comes the circle of Phosphorus, which they call Aphrodite (but others again Hera); then that of the sun, and finally that of the moon, which is the lower limit of the aether [30] which embraces all the divine bodies and their serial movements.

Τῶν γε μὴν ἐμπεριεχομένων [392a10] ἄστρων τὰ μὲν ἀπλανῶς τῷ σύμπαντι οὐρανῷ συμπεριστρέφεται, τὰς αὐτὰς ἔχοντα ἕδρας, ὧν μέσος ὁ ζῳοφόρος καλούμενος κύκλος ἐγκάρσιος διὰ τῶν τροπικῶν διέζωσται, κατὰ μέρη διῃρημένος εἰς δώδεκα ζῳδίων χώρας, τὰ δέ, πλανητὰ ὄντα, οὔτε τοῖς προτέροις ὁμοταχῶς κινεῖσθαι πέφυκεν οὔτε ἀλλήλοις, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἑτέροις καὶ ἑτέροις κύκλοις, ὥστε αὐτῶν τὸ μὲν προσγειότερον εἶναι, τὸ δὲ ἀνώτερον. Τὸ μὲν οὖν τῶν ἀπλανῶν πλῆθος ἀνεξεύρετόν ἐστιν ἀνθρώποις, καίπερ ἐπὶ μιᾶς κινουμένων ἐπιφανείας τῆς τοῦ σύμπαντος οὐρανοῦ· τὸ δὲ τῶν πλανήτων, εἰς ἑπτὰ μέρη κεφαλαιούμενον, ἐν τοσούτοις [392a20] ἐστὶ κύκλοις ἐφεξῆς κειμένοις, ὥστε ἀεὶ τὸν ἀνωτέρω μείζω τοῦ ὑποκάτω εἶναι, τούς τε ἑπτὰ ἐν ἀλλήλοις ἐμπεριέχεσθαι, πάντας γε μὴν ὑπὸ τῆς τῶν ἀπλανῶν σφαίρας περιειλῆφθαι. Συνεχῆ δὲ ἔχει ἀεὶ τὴν θέσιν ταύτῃ ὁ τοῦ Φαίνοντος ἅμα καὶ Κρόνου καλούμενος κύκλος, ἐφεξῆς δὲ ὁ τοῦ Φαέθοντος καὶ Διὸς λεγόμενος, εἶθ’ ὁ Πυρόεις, Ἡρακλέους τε καὶ Ἄρεος προσαγορευόμενος, ἑξῆς δὲ ὁ Στίλβων, ὃν ἱερὸν Ἑρμοῦ καλοῦσιν ἔνιοι, τινὲς δὲ Ἀπόλλωνος· μεθ’ ὃν ὁ τοῦ Φωσφόρου, ὃν Ἀφροδίτης, οἱ δὲ Ἥρας προσαγορεύουσιν, εἶτα ὁ ἡλίου, καὶ τελευταῖος ὁ τῆς σελήνης, μέχρις ἧς ὁρίζεται ὁ [392a30] αἰθήρ, τά τε θεῖα ἐμπεριέχων σώματα καὶ τὴν τῆς κινήσεως τάξιν.

2. Iam astrorum innumerabilis multitudo partim labitur cum orbis inerrantis regione, quam circulus ambit signifer, obliqua conplexione circumdatus, et signis XII inluminatus, partim errantibus stellis, quae neque priorum motus habent neque sane inter se similes et aequales, sed adfixae diuersis globis inordinatum, ut sic dixerim, ordinem seruant; aliaeque ultra sunt, aliae citra. Stellae, quae propter naturam eiusmodi nullis creduntur erroribus uagae, et infinitos numero greges ducunt et simplex aetheris dorsum alma et sacrata amoenitate lucis coronant. Septem uero deorum nominibus inlustres, totidem orbibus adfixae sunt et gradatim sibimet superlatae, ut superior inferiore sit maior, ac uicissim mutuis adhaesionibus nexae conplexu illius orbis, qui inerrabilis dicitur, continentur. Hic Phaenonis globus, quem appellamus Saturnum; post quem Phaethontis secundus est, quem Iouem dicimus: et loco tertio Pyrois, quam multi Herculis, plures Martis stellam uocant. Hanc sequitur Stilbon, cui quidam Apollinis, ceteri Mercuri nomen dederunt. Quintus Phosphorus, Iunonia, immo Veneris stella censetur. Deinde solis est orbis et ultima omnium luna, altitudinis aethereae principia disterminans, quae diuinas et inmortales uiuacitates ignium pascens, ordinatis ac semper aequalibus inuectionibus soluitur atque reparatur.

2. One group of stars, an uncountably large number of them, moves in the plane of the ‘fixed’ sphere. Around this runs the band of signs [= the zodiac], which surrounds it at an oblique angle, lit up by its twelve signs. Another group of stars are ‘wanderers’: they do not move like those in the first group, and indeed they differ from each other in their courses and speeds. They are set on different globes, and serve what I could call an ‘uncoordinated order’; some lie further out, some closer in. The stars whose nature is such that they are not believed to deviate at all are part of an infinite horde, but they form a crown for something single, the ‘back’ of the aether, with the wonderful and holy beauty of their light. Conversely, the seven stars which famously bear the names of gods are set on as many spheres, which lie in a nested series so that the highest sphere is also the largest. These [spheres] are connected in sequence by reciprocal bonds, and are contained within the embrace of the so-called ‘fixed’ sphere. They are: the globe of Phaeno, which we call Saturn; then, second, that of Phaetho, which we call Jupiter; third, that of Pyroeis, which many people call [the star] of Heracles, and more still the star of Mars; Stilbo follows next, which some people name [the star] of Apollo and others [the star] of Mercury; fifth is light-bringing Juno, also supposed to be the star of Venus; then comes the sphere of the sun, and last of all the moon. [The moon] is the near limit of the towering aether which nourishes the divine and immortal lives of all these [celestial] fires, dissolving and restoring them by making provision in due order and without variation.


After the aetherial and divine part of the cosmos – which we affirm to be organised and undisturbed, unwavering and impassive – comes the part which is everywhere easily affected and disturbed and, in brief, is destructible and perishable. The first bit of it is the thin and flame-like substance [392b1], which is ignited by the aether, because of its size and the speed of its motion. In the fiery and supposedly chaotic [substance], lights shine out, flames shoot forth, and ‘planks’ [dokides] and ‘trenches’ [bothynoi] and what are called ‘comets’ are frequently ignited and extinguished.


Μετὰ δὲ τὴν αἰθέριον καὶ θείαν φύσιν, ἥντινα τεταγμένην ἀποφαίνομεν, ἔτι δὲ ἄτρεπτον καὶ ἀνετεροίωτον καὶ ἀπαθῆ, συνεχής ἐστιν ἡ δι’ ὅλων παθητή τε καὶ τρεπτή, καί, τὸ σύμπαν εἰπεῖν, φθαρτή τε καὶ ἐπίκηρος. Ταύτης δὲ αὐτῆς πρώτη μέν ἐστιν ἡ λεπτομερὴς καὶ φλογώδης οὐσία, [392b1] ὑπὸ τῆς αἰθερίου πυρουμένη διὰ τὸ μέγεθος αὐτῆς | καὶ τὴν ὀξύτητα τῆς κινήσεως· ἐν δὲ τῇ πυρώδει καὶ ἀτάκτῳ λεγομένῃ τά τε σέλα διᾴττει καὶ φλόγες ἀκοντίζονται καὶ δοκίδες τε καὶ βόθυνοι καὶ κομῆται λεγόμενοι στηρίζονται καὶ σβέννυνται πολλάκις.


3. Post eam uero partem, quae sancti aetheris finibus coercetur, cuius mensa pensaque distinctio est et natura inmutabilis, regio est mortalis ac iam paene terrena, cuius primae sunt partes tenuiores et uaporatae, quippe cum finitimis aetheris adtingantur ardoribus, quantum maximis parua et quantum rapidis possunt pigriora contingi. Sed ex ea parte, quae curriculis finitimi inuritur solis, se iaculari atque emicare et scintillare flammae quaedam ostensae oculis nostris uidentur, quas Graeci cometas et docidas et bothynos appellant quasque labi et fluere frequenter uidemus, lucere <facile> faciliusque restingui.

Air / Atmosphere

3. After that part of the cosmos which lies within the bounds of the aether (which has a distinct size and weight, and is invariable in its nature) comes the mortal region, closer now to the earth. The outer parts of this region are somewhat thin and vaporous where they touch the hot lower limit of the aether (to the extent that a tiny thing can ‘touch’ something enormous, or something sluggish what moves very fast); but it is scorched at the edges by the sun as it makes its circuit. Flames, which are clearly visible to our eyes, can be seen as they are emitted, and leap up and flare. The Greeks call these ‘comets’, docidae [‘planks’] and bothyni [‘trenches’]. We often see them streaking by: they light up readily and are even more readily extinguished.

Next to this pours in air, misty and frosty in its own nature; but at the same time, it is illuminated by this [fire above] and even burned and becomes bright and warm. It is itself of an easily affected capacity, and it is very mutable, and within it [10] clouds form and showers beat down, there are snows and frosts and hail, gusts of winds and of typhoons, and even thunder and coruscations, and thunderbolts coming down, and storm-clouds colliding in their thousands.

Ἑξῆς δὲ ταύτης ὁ ἀὴρ ὑποκέχυται, ζοφώδης ὢν καὶ παγετώδης τὴν φύσιν· ὑπὸ δὲ ἐκείνης λαμπόμενος ἅμα καὶ διακαιόμενος λαμπρός τε γίνεται καὶ ἀλεεινός. Ἐν δὲ τούτῳ, τῆς παθητῆς ὄντι καὶ αὐτῷ δυνάμεως καὶ παντοδαπῶς ἀλλοιουμένῳ, νέφη τε [392b10] συνίσταται καὶ ὄμβροι καταράσσουσι, χιόνες τε καὶ πάχναι καὶ χάλαζαι πνοαί τε ἀνέμων καὶ τυφώνων, ἔτι τε βρονταὶ καὶ ἀστραπαὶ καὶ πτώσεις κεραυνῶν μυρίων τε γνόφων συμπληγάδες.

Exin inferioris aeris qualitas turbidior infunditur, cui permixtus est glacialis rigor; sed superioris uicinia claritatis et propinqui caloris adflatu nitescit ac sinceriore interdum luce uestitur. Huius saepe mutabilis conuertitur species, cum sit natura uitiabili: et in nubes cogitur et reciprocis flabris aperitur et nimbis vehementibus rumpitur, niuibus etiam et glacie inhorrescit et praecipiti grandine desuper uerberatur; turbinum flatibus typhonumque conflictu fit procellosa, sed telis fulminum et missilium caelestium iaculis ignescit.

Next to this, the lower air pours in, more turbid in quality. It is suffused with glacial cold: but it also shines under the effect of light from above and its neighbour’s heat, and is sometimes cloaked in a purer light. Its state changes frequently, as fragile things do: it is compressed into clouds, and then torn apart by gusts [of wind blowing] back and forth, or burst open by violent storms; it shivers with ice when it snows, and suffers a beating when hailstones are falling; it becomes tempestuous when gales and typhoons are gusting and whirlwinds attack, but catches fire [when assailed by] lightning bolts and the [rest of the] celestial artillery.


Next to the aerial nature earth and sea are set. They teem with plants and animals – and springs and rivers, some of which drain into the earth, while others disgorge into the sea. Thousands of plants give it variety, and lofty mountains and thick copses, and cities built by the intelligent animal, the human. There are islands and continents in the sea. [20] The common account divides our inhabited realm world into islands and continents, but it is unaware that the whole of it is a single island, surrounded by the so-called Atlantic sea. Probably there are many other [such islands] corresponding to this, lying on the other side of it, some larger, some smaller, but all except this one invisible to us: what is true of our islands in relation to the local sea is also true of the inhabited realm in relation to the Atlantic sea (and to the many other such realms in relation to the sea as a whole). They are just large islands washed by large seas. The [30] moist nature as a whole predominates. It allows certain so-called ‘cliffs’ of earth to appear, and these are inhabited; but water is the dominant nature after the air. Below it, within its depths, at the very centre of the cosmos, all the earth is to be found, compressed and squeezed, immobile and unmoving – and this is everything in the cosmos that we refer to as ‘below’.


Ἑξῆς δὲ τῆς ἀερίου φύσεως γῆ καὶ θάλασσα ἐρήρεισται, φυτοῖς βρύουσα καὶ ζῴοις πηγαῖς τε καὶ ποταμοῖς, τοῖς μὲν ἐν γῇ ἀναλισκομένοις, τοῖς δὲ ἀνερευγομένοις εἰς θάλασσαν. Πεποίκιλται δὲ καὶ χλόαις μυρίαις ὄρεσι τε ὑψήλοις καὶ βαθυξύλοις δρυμοῖς καὶ πόλεσιν, ἃς τὸ σοφὸν ζῷον, ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἱδρύσατο, νήσοις τε ἐναλίοις καὶ ἠπείροις. [392b20] Τὴν μὲν οὖν οἰκουμένην ὁ πολὺς λόγος εἴς τε νήσους καὶ ἠπείρους διεῖλεν, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι καὶ ἡ σύμπασα μία νῆσός ἐστιν, ὑπὸ τῆς Ἀτλαντικῆς καλουμένης θαλάσσης περιρρεομένη. Πολλὰς δὲ καὶ ἄλλας εἰκὸς τῆσδε ἀντιπόρθμους ἄπωθεν κεῖσθαι, τὰς μὲν μείζους αὐτῆς, τὰς δὲ ἐλάττους, ἡμῖν δὲ πάσας πλὴν τῆσδε ἀοράτους· ὅπερ γὰρ αἱ παρ’ ἡμῖν νῆσοι πρὸς ταυτὶ τὰ πελάγη πεπόνθασι, τοῦτο ἥδε ἡ οἰκουμένη πρὸς τὴν Ἀτλαντικὴν θάλασσαν πολλαί τε ἕτεραι πρὸς σύμπασαν τὴν θάλασσαν· καὶ γὰρ αὗται μεγάλαι τινές εἰσι νῆσοι μεγάλοις περικλυζόμεναι πελάγεσιν. Ἡ δὲ σύμπασα [392b30] τοῦ ὑγροῦ φύσις ἐπιπολάζουσα, κατά τινας τῆς γῆς σπίλους τὰς καλουμένας ἀναπεφαγκυῖα οἰκουμένας, ἑξῆς ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀερίου μάλιστα φύσεως. Μετὰ δὲ ταύτην ἐν τοῖς βυθοῖς κατὰ τὸ μεσαίτατον τοῦ κόσμου συνερηρεισμένη γῆ πᾶσα καὶ πεπιεσμένη συνέστηκεν, ἀκίνητος καὶ ἀσάλευτος· καὶ τοῦτ’ ἔστι τοῦ κόσμου τὸ πᾶν ὃ καλοῦμεν κάτω.


4. Aeri terra coniungitur eaque in se suscipit maria. Haec frequentatur animantibus, haec siluarum uiriditate uestitur, haec fontium perennitate recreatur, haec fluminum frigidos lapsus nunc erroribus terrenis uehit, modo profundo in mari confundit; eadem infinitis coloribus floret, altitudine montium, camporum aequore, nemorum opacitate uariatur, sinuosis inflexa litoribus, distincta insulis, uillulis urbibusque conlucens, quas sapiens genus, homo communibus usibus fabricatur. Nec sum nescius, plerosque huius operis auctores terrarum orbem ita diuisisse: partem eius insulas esse, partem uero continentem uocauere, nescii omnem hanc terrenam inmensitatem Atlantici maris ambitu coerceri insulamque hanc unam esse cum insulis suis omnibus. Nam similes huic alias <maiores> et alias minores circumfundit Oceanus, quae tamen merito uidentur ignotae, cum ne hanc quidem, cuius cultores sumus, omnem peragrare possimus. Nam sicut hae insulae interfluuntur, quae sunt in nostro mari, ita illae in uniuerso salo fretis latioribus ambiuntur.

Earth and sea

4. Connected to the air is the earth, which carries the seas within itself. It is teeming with animals, clothed in the greenery of the forests, and refreshed by everlasting springs. It conveys cool river streams through meandering landscapes, or pours them into the depths of some sea. It blooms in infinite colours. Mountain heights, level plains and shady groves give it variety. It curves with its sinuous beaches, or is separated out into islands. It glows with villas and cities, which human beings, a species [capable] of wisdom, have constructed to support communities. It has not escaped me that many people who have written on this subject have divided the terrestrial sphere as follows: they have claimed that islands form one part of it, while the rest is a ‘continent’ [lit.: ‘container’]. What they do not realise is that all the immensity of this territory is held in the embrace of the Atlantic sea, so that it is itself just one island alongside the islands within it. The Ocean flows around others just like it, some larger and some smaller. But not surprisingly we do not know about them, since we cannot even travel all the way around the one that we inhabit. For just as the islands in our [sc. Mediterranean] sea are separated by its waters, so these [greater, ‘continental’ islands] lie in a global sea, surrounded by channels of water that are all the wider.

These five elements [393a1], in their five places, are disposed as spheres, the smaller [spheres] surrounded by the larger: earth by water, water by air, air by fire, fire by aether. They constitute the whole cosmos. The whole of the region above is the home of the gods, that below is home to ephemeral animals; part of it is wet (we call that rivers and springs and seas), part dry (we call that earth and continents and islands).

Πέντε δὴ στοιχεῖα ταῦτα [393a1] ἐν πέντε χώραις σφαιρικῶς ἐγκείμενα, περιεχομένης ἀεὶ τῆς ἐλάττονος τῇ μείζονι – λέγω δὲ γῆς μὲν ἐν ὕδατι, ὕδατος δὲ ἐν ἀέρι, ἀέρος δὲ ἐν πυρί, πυρὸς δὲ ἐν αἰθέρι – τὸν ὅλον κόσμον συνεστήσατο, καὶ τὸ μὲν ἄνω πᾶν θεῶν ἀπέδειξεν οἰκητήριον, τὸ κάτω δὲ ἐφημέρων ζῴων. Αὐτοῦ γε μὴν τούτου τὸ μὲν ὑγρόν ἐστιν, ὃ καλεῖν ποταμοὺς καὶ νάματα καὶ θαλάσσας εἰθίσμεθα, τὸ δὲ ξηρὸν, ὃ γῆν τε καὶ ἠπείρους καὶ νήσους ὀνομάζομεν.

5. Elementorum inter se mutui nexus artis adfinitatibus inplicantur, et quinque coniuges copulae his ordinatae uicibus adtinentur, ut adhaereant et grauioribus leuiora: aquam in se habet tellus aut aqua, ut alii putant, uehit terram; aer ex aqua gignitur, ignis aeria densitate conflatur; aether uicissim ignesque illi inmortalis dei uiuacitate flammantur. Huius diuini ignis origine incensi per totius mundi conuexa inlustribus facibus ignescunt. Superna quapropter dii superi sedes habent, infima ceterorum animantium terrena possident genera, per quae serpunt et erumpunt et scatent flumina, fontes et maria, quae meatus et lacunas et origines habent in gremio terrarum.

5. Reciprocal bonds between the elements are kept intertwined through artfully contrived relationships. Five ‘marriages’ give a series of ordered couplings such that lighter elements adhere to heavier. Earth contains water within it (or water, as other thinks, carries the earth); air arises from water; fire is exhaled from the [relative] density of air. Aether, for its part, along with its fires, is set alight by the vitality of immortal god. (Ignited by this divine fire, they burn as bright torches spread throughout the arc of the whole cosmos.) This is why the higher gods have the heights [of the cosmos] for their seats, while creatures of the other, lower species occupy places on earth, where rivers and springs and seas wind along, break out and bubble up, all having their courses, their channels, and their origins in the bosom of the earth.

Some islands are large, including [10] (as has been said) this whole inhabited region, and many other such regions surrounded by the great seas. Others are smaller – those that we can see within [the inhabited realm]. Some of these deserve mention: Sicily, Sardo [= Sardinia], Kyrnos [= Corsica], Crete, and Euboea and Cyprus and Lesbos. There are lesser islands still, such as the Sporades and the Cyclades; others have other names.

Τῶν δὲ νήσων αἱ μέν εἰσι μεγάλαι, καθάπερ ἡ σύμ[393a10] πασα ἥδε οἰκουμένη λέλεκται πολλαί τε ἕτεραι μεγάλοις περιρρεόμεναι πελάγεσιν, αἱ δὲ ἐλάττους, φανεραί τε ἡμῖν καὶ ἐντὸς οὖσαι. Καὶ τούτων αἱ μὲν ἀξιόλογοι, Σικελία καὶ Σαρδὼ καὶ Κύρνος Κρήτη τε καὶ Εὔβοια καὶ Κύπρος καὶ Λέσβος, αἱ δὲ ὑποδεέστεραι, ὧν αἱ μὲν Σποράδες, αἱ δὲ Κυκλάδες, αἱ δὲ ἄλλως ὀνομάζονται.

Ipsarum uero insularum, quae sunt in nostro mari, digna memoratu Trinacria est, Euboea, Cypros, <Cyrnos> atque Sardinia, Creta, Peloponnesos, Lesbos: minores autem aliae, ut naeuuli quidam, per apertas ponti sunt sparsae regiones, aliae Cyclades dictae, quae frequentioribus molibus adluuntur.

Inhabited realm (seas, continents, islands)

Of those islands which are in our sea, Trinacria [= Sicily], Euboea, Cyprus, Cyrnus [= Corsica] and Sardinia, Crete, the Peloponnese and Lesbos are worth mentioning. There are some smaller ones which are scattered, like moles, through the open regions of the sea, and others, called the Cyclades, which face the waves in a denser grouping of landmasses.


The sea outside the inhabited world is called the ‘Atlantic’ and the ‘Ocean’: it surrounds us. It comes into [the inhabited realm] from the west through a narrow opening near what are known as the Pillars of Heracles, and flows into the inner sea, as if into a harbour. [20] Gradually it spreads out, and fills a series of large gulfs which are connected to each other – in some places being confined in narrow straits, in others spreading out again. If you sail in through the Pillars of Heracles, the sea is at first said to be shaped by two gulfs on your right: the so-called Gulfs of Syrtis: one of them is called Syrtis Major, the other Syrtis Minor. On the other side, there is no similar gulf, but the sea divides into three: what are called the Sardinian, Gallic and Adriatic seas. Across from these is the Sicilian sea, and beyond this the Cretan sea. That is continuous with the Egyptian, Pamphylian and Syrian seas, on one side, and, [30] on the other, the Aegean and Myrtoan seas. Following the length of these is the Pontic sea, with its many subdivisions. The innermost part is called Maiotis; the outer part, [393b1] towards the Hellespont, is connected by a channel to what is called Propontis.

Πέλαγος δὲ τὸ μὲν ἔξω τῆς οἰκουμένης Ἀτλαντικόν τε καὶ Ὠκεανὸς καλεῖται, περιρρέων ἡμᾶς. Ἐντὸς δὲ πρὸς δύσεις στενοπόρῳ διανεωγὼς στόματι, κατὰ τὰς Ἡρακλείους λεγομένας στήλας τὸν εἴσρουν εἰς τὴν ἔσω θάλασσαν ὡς ἂν εἰς [393a20] λιμένα ποιεῖται, κατὰ μικρὸν δὲ ἐπιπλατυνόμενος ἀναχεῖται, μεγάλους περιλαμβάνων κόλπους ἀλλήλοις συναφεῖς, πῇ μὲν κατὰ στενοπόρους αὐχένας ἀνεστομωμένος, πῇ δὲ πάλιν πλατυνόμενος. Πρῶτον μὲν οὖν λέγεται ἐγκεκολπῶσθαι ἐν δεξιᾷ εἰσπλέοντι τὰς Ἡρακλείους στήλας, διχῶς, εἰς τὰς καλουμένας Σύρτεις, ὧν τὴν μὲν Μεγάλην, τὴν δὲ Μικρὰν, καλοῦσιν· ἐπὶ θάτερα δὲ οὐκέτι ὁμοίως ἀποκολπούμενος τρία ποιεῖ πελάγη, τό τε Σαρδόνιον καὶ τὸ Γαλατικὸν λεγόμενον καὶ Ἀδρίαν, ἑξῆς δὲ τούτων ἐγκάρσιον τὸ Σικελικόν, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο τὸ Κρητικόν, συνεχὲς δὲ αὐτοῦ, τῇ μὲν τὸ Αἰγύπτιόν τε [393a30] καὶ Παμφύλιον καὶ Σύριον, τῇ δὲ τὸ Αἰγαῖόν τε καὶ Μυρτῷον. Ἀντιπαρήκει δὲ τοῖς εἰρημένοις πολυμερέστατος ὢν ὁ Πόντος, οὗ τὸ μὲν μυχαίτατον Μαιῶτις καλεῖται, τὸ δὲ ἔξω [393b1] πρὸς τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον συνανεστόμωται τῇ καλουμένῃ Προποντίδι.

6. Maria maiora sunt Oceanus et Atlanticum, quibus orbis nostri terminantur anfractus. Sed occiduarum partium mare per angustias oris artatum in artissimos sinus funditur et rursus a Columnis Herculis refusum, in inmensam latitudinem panditur, saepiusque coëuntibus terris, ueluti quibusdam fretorum ceruicibus, premitur et idem rursus cedentibus est terris inmensum. Primum igitur a Columnis nauigantibus dextrum latus duobus sinibus maximis cingitur, quorum primus duas Syrtes habet, alter inparibus quidem sinuatur figuris, sed in maxima diuisus est maria, quorum unum Gallicum dicitur, alterum Africum, quod quidem Aristoteles Sardiniense maluit dicere, tertium Adriaticum pelagus. His iungitur Siculum et post Creticum, eo indiscretis finibus Pamphylium, Assyrium, Aegyptium. Sed ante Aegaea <et> Myrtoa sunt maria. His sane uicinus est Pontus, sinus amplissimus maris nostri, cuius extremus recessus in Maeotim senescit; ex Hellesponti fonte concipitur uestibulumque eius Proponti[u]s uocatur.

6. The greater seas are the Ocean and Atlantic, which are the boundaries curving around our realm. From the west, the sea is funnelled in through a narrow opening and flows through some extremely narrow gulfs. After the Pillars of Hercules, it is poured out again, and spreads over an immense area. In places where the land on either side lies close together and forms straits, as it often does, the sea is constricted; but where they separate, it spreads out. If you sail through the Pillars [of Hercules], the sea to your right is at first framed by two large bays: the first comprises the two Syrtes, the other is twisting and irregular. But the water gets divided into the major seas: one called the Gallic, another the African (although Aristotle prefers to call it the Sardinian); the third is the Adriatic sea. They are linked to the Sicilian sea and after that to the Cretan; and to them in turn the Pamphylian, Syrian and Egyptian seas (though the boundaries between them are indistinct). But before you get to these, there are the Aegean and Myrtoan seas. Pontus is near them, the largest gulf of our sea: it reaches Maeotis at its furthest extreme; but its source is in the Hellespont. The entrance to it is called Propontis.

Over to the east, the Ocean flows in, opens out into the Gulf of India and the Gulf of Persia, then straight afterwards gives us the Red sea (which has no outlet). Passing in the other direction through a narrow and long strait, [the ocean] widens again, setting the bounds of the Hycanian and Caspian seas. Beyond this deep, it occupies the place beyond the harbour of Maiotis; then, a bit further out, beyond the [lands of the] Scythians and Celts, it surrounds the inhabited world towards the Galatic [= Gallic] Gulf [10] and the aforementioned Pillars of Heracles. Outside these points, the Ocean flows around the [whole] earth.

Πρός γε μὴν ταῖς ἀνασχέσεσι τοῦ ἡλίου πάλιν εἰσρέων ὁ Ὠκεανός, τὸν Ἰνδικόν τε καὶ Περσικὸν διανοίξας κόλπον, ἀναφαίνει συνεχῆ τὴν Ἐρυθρὰν θάλασσαν διειληφώς. Ἐπὶ θάτερον δὲ κέρας κατὰ στενόν τε καὶ ἐπιμήκη διήκων αὐχένα, πάλιν ἀνευρύνεται, τὴν Ὑρκανίαν τε καὶ Κασπίαν ὁρίζων· τὸ δὲ ὑπὲρ ταύτην βαθὺν ἔχει τὸν ὑπὲρ τὴν Μαιῶτιν λίμνην τόπον. Εἶτα κατ’ ὀλίγον ὑπὲρ τοὺς Σκύθας τε καὶ Κελτικὴν σφίγγει τὴν οἰκουμένην πρός τε τὸν Γαλατικὸν [393b10] κόλπον καὶ τὰς προειρημένας Ἡρακλείους στήλας, ὧν ἔξω περιρρέει τὴν γῆν ὁ Ὠκεανός.

Ab ortu solis Oceanus est, Indicum et Persicum mare conferens. Hinc patescunt finitima Rubri maris, quae < . . . > per angustas longinquasque faucis in Hyrcanium et Caspium flectuntur sinus, ultraque profundae uastitatis esse maria creduntur. Deinde paulatim Scythicum et Hibernium freta, et rursum mare, per quod Gallicum <sinum> atque Gaditanas Columnas circumuectus Oceanus orbis nostri metas includit.

The Ocean lies in the east, and gives us the Indian and Persian seas. The shores of the Red sea open out from here. < The Ocean also > snakes its way through narrow and remote inlets to become the Hyrcanian and Caspian bays. Beyond this are seas believed to be of enormous depth; then a little further on the straits of Scythia and Hibernia [= the Irish sea], and then the sea formed where the encircling Ocean encloses the Gallic bay and those Pillars at Cadiz, which are the ‘turning-posts’ of our realm.

The two largest islands are out here, known as the British Isles, Albion, and Ierne: these are larger than those recounted above, and lie beyond the [land of the] Celts. No smaller than these is Taprobane [= Sri Lanka], which lies beyond India [15], slanting with respect to the inhabited region; and also Phebol, which is situated in the Arabian gulf. There are also a lot of small islands around the British Isles and Iberia, and they crown this inhabited realm which we have said is [itself] an island, and whose breadth, at the widest part of the continent, is a little less than [20] 40,000 stades, as the best geometers say; its length is as much as around 70,000 stades. It is divided into Europe, Asia and Libya. Europe is bounded in a circle by the Pillars of Heracles and the inner parts of the Pontic and Hyrcanian seas. From the latter, a very narrow isthmus goes to the Pontic (though some have said that [Europe’s border] is not this isthmus but the river Tanais). Asia stretches from this isthmus of the Pontus and the Hyrcanian sea as far as another isthmus, which lies between the Gulf of Arabia and the inner sea, surrounded [30] by this and the encircling Ocean. (But some say that the border of Asia goes from Tanais to the outlets of the Nile.) Libya goes from the Arabian isthmus to the Pillars of Hercules (but some think that it goes there from the Nile). [394a1] Some people attach Egypt, bounded by the outlets of the Nile, to Asia, some to Libya. And some people accord islands their own status, but others always make them part of the lands they are near.

Ἐν τούτῳ γε μὴν νῆσοι μέγισται τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι δύο, Βρεττανικαὶ λεγόμεναι, Ἀλβίων καὶ Ἰέρνη, τῶν προϊστορημένων μείζους, ὑπὲρ τοὺς Κελτοὺς κείμεναι. Τούτων δὲ οὐκ ἐλάττους ἥ τε Ταπροβάνη πέραν Ἰνδῶν, λοξὴ πρὸς τὴν οἰκουμένην, καὶ ἡ † Φεβὸλ καλουμένη, κατὰ τὸν Ἀραβικὸν κειμένη κόλπον. Οὐκ ὀλίγαι δὲ ἄλλαι μικραὶ περὶ τὰς Βρεττανικὰς καὶ τὴν Ἰβηρίαν κύκλῳ περιεστεφάνωνται τὴν οἰκουμένην ταύτην, ἣν δὴ νῆσον εἰρήκαμεν· ἧς πλάτος μέν ἐστι κατὰ τὸ βαθύτατον τῆς ἠπείρου βραχὺ ἀποδέον [393b20] τετρακισμυρίων σταδίων, ὥς φασιν οἱ εὖ γεωγραφήσαντες, μῆκος δὲ περὶ ἑπτακισμυρίους μάλιστα. Διαιρεῖται δὲ εἴς τε Εὐρώπην καὶ Ἀσίαν καὶ Λιβύην. Εὐρώπη μὲν οὖν ἐστιν ἧς ὅροι κύκλῳ στῆλαί τε Ἡρακλέους καὶ μυχοὶ Πόντου θάλαττά τε Ὑρκανία, καθ’ ἣν στενότατος ἰσθμὸς εἰς τὸν Πόντον διήκει· τινὲς δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ ἰσθμοῦ Τάναϊν ποταμὸν εἰρήκασιν. Ἀσία δέ ἐστι τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ εἰρημένου ἰσθμοῦ τοῦ τε Πόντου καὶ τῆς Ὑρκανίας θαλάσσης μέχρι θατέρου ἰσθμοῦ, ὃς μεταξὺ κεῖται τοῦ τε Ἀραβικοῦ κόλπου καὶ τῆς ἔσω θαλάσσης, περιεχόμενος ὑπό τε ταύτης [393b30] καὶ τοῦ πέριξ Ὠκεανοῦ· τινὲς δὲ ἀπὸ Τανάϊδος μέχρι Νείλου στομάτων τὸν τῆς Ἀσίας τίθενται ὅρον. Λιβύη δὲ τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἀραβικοῦ ἰσθμοῦ ἕως Ἡρακλέους στηλῶν. Οἱ δὲ ἀπὸ [394a1] τοῦ Νείλου φασὶν ἕως ἐκείνων. Τὴν δὲ Αἴγυπτον, ὑπὸ τῶν τοῦ Νείλου στομάτων περιρρεομένην, οἱ μὲν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ, οἱ δὲ τῇ Λιβύῃ προσάπτουσι, καὶ τὰς νήσους οἱ μὲν ἐξαιρέτους ποιοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ προσνέμουσι ταῖς γείτοσιν ἀεὶ μοίραις.

7. Sed in altera parte orbis iacent insularum aggeres maximarum, Britanniae duae, et Labeon et Hibernia, <iis> quas supra diximus [esse] maiores. Verum hae in Celtarum finibus sitae. Sunt minores uero ultra Indos, Probane atque Loxe. Multaeque aliae, orbis ad modum sparsae, hanc nostram insulam (id est hunc terrarum orbem), quam maximam diximus, ornamentis suis pingunt et continuatione ut quibusdam sertis coronant. At enim huius terrae, quam nos colimus, latitudo XL, prolixitas LXX <milia> stadiorum tenet. Sed in diuisione terrarum orbis Asiam et Europam et cum his uel, sicut plures, praeterea Africam accepimus. Europa ab Herculis columnis usque Ponticum et Hyrcanium mare ac flumen Tanain fines habet, Asia ab isdem angustiis Pontici maris usque ad alias angustias, quae inter Arabicum sinum et interioris ambitum pelagi iacent, constringiturque Oceani cingulo et societate nostri maris. Sed alii alio modo, ut quidam ab exordio Tanais ad ora Nili Asiae terminos metiuntur. Africam uero ab isthmo Rubri maris uel ab ipsis fontibus Nili oriri putandum eiusque in Gaditanis locis fines esse. Sed ipsam Aegyptum plerique Asiae, plures Africae adiungunt, ut insularum situs sunt qui cum finitimis locis conprehendunt et sunt qui in alia diuisione eas habendas putant.

7. In another part of [our] realm lie the land-masses of some large islands: these are the two British isles, Labeon and Hibernia, both larger than those we mentioned before; but these are situated on the borders of the Celtic lands. There are also some smaller islands beyond India: Probane and Loxe. And many others too, which are scattered as if in a circle to give variety and ornament to this island of ours (that is, to the lands which make up this realm), which I said was [one of the] ‘great’ [islands]. These [smaller islands] decorate it as ornaments; and in their continuity they crown it, like a sort of garland. The length of the land that we inhabit is 40,000 stades, its breadth 70,000. The lands of this realm are divided into Asia and Europe, and Africa along with them or, as many people say, beside them. Europe’s boundaries reach from the Pillars of Hercules to the Pontic and Hyrcanian seas and the river Tanais. Asia goes from the same isthmus, that of the Pontic sea, to the isthmus between the Arabian gulf and the periphery of the inner sea: it is contained by the Ocean’s girdle in concert with our sea [sc. the Mediterranean). (Other people, though [do this] in a different way, and measure the boundaries [of Asia] from the origin of the Tanais to the openings of the Asian Nile.) Africa should be reckoned to stretch from the isthmus of the Red sea (or else from the very sources of the Nile) to its end in the region of Cadiz. Most people make Egypt part of Africa, but many make it part of Asia. (Similarly, some people think that islands are to be thought of as part of the lands they are near, while others think they ought to be considered in a category of their own.)

This is what we have discovered about the nature and position of the earth and sea which make up what we know as the inhabited world.

Γῆς μὲν δὴ καὶ θαλάττης φύσιν καὶ θέσιν, ἥντινα καλεῖν εἰώθαμεν οἰκουμένην, τοιάνδε τινὰ ἱστορήκαμεν.

De mari satis dictum.

But that is enough about the sea.



Now let us discuss the most noteworthy things within and around [the world], with a summary of the essentials. There are two types of exhalation which constantly rise [10] from it into the air above us: they are fine and completely invisible, except that sometimes at dawn they can be observed rising from rivers and springs. One type is dry and like smoke, and comes from the earth; the other is moist and vaporous, and exhaled from moisture. [15] Mists come from this, and dews and different types of frost, as well as clouds and rain and snow and hail, while from the dry type [come] winds and the different air-currents, and thunder and coruscations and presters and lightning and everything else of the sort.



Περὶ δὲ τῶν ἀξιολογωτάτων ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ περὶ αὐτὴν παθῶν νῦν λέγωμεν, αὐτὰ τὰ ἀναγκαῖα κεφαλαιούμενοι. Δύο γὰρ δή τινες ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ἀναθυμιάσεις ἀναφέρονται συνεχῶς [394a10] εἰς τὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμᾶς ἀέρα, λεπτομερεῖς καὶ ἀόρατοι παντάπασιν, εἰ [τι] μὴ κατὰ τὰς ἑῴας ἔστιν ὅτε ἀπὸ ποταμῶν τε καὶ ναμάτων ἀναφερόμεναι θεωροῦνται. Τούτων δὲ ἡ μέν ἐστι ξηρὰ καὶ καπνώδης, ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀπορρέουσα, ἡ δὲ νοτερὰ καὶ ἀτμώδης, ἀπὸ τῆς ὑγρᾶς ἀναθυμιωμένη φύσεως. Γίνονται δὲ ἀπὸ μὲν ταύτης ὁμίχλαι καὶ δρόσοι καὶ πάγων ἰδέαι νέφη τε καὶ ὄμβροι καὶ χιόνες καὶ χάλαζαι, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς ξηρᾶς ἄνεμοί τε καὶ πνευμάτων διαφοραὶ βρονταί τε καὶ ἀστραπαὶ καὶ πρηστῆρες καὶ κεραυνοὶ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἃ δὴ τούτοις ἐστὶ σύμφυλα.



8. Terreni uero casus ita se habent. Exhalationes duas physici esse dicunt: tenues et frequentes uixque uisibilis ad superiora minari ex gremio telluris, nebularum agmina halitu amnium fontiumque constare, matutinis temporibus crassiora. Harum altera arida est atque <fumo> consimilis, quae terrenis eructationibus surgit, altera umida et egelida; hanc ex fluentis superioris uaporis natura ad se trahit; et ex hac quidem nebulae, rores, pruinae, nubila et imbres, nix atque grando generantur; de illa superiore, quam diximus siccam, uenti, animae atque flamina et fulmina atque aliae ignitorum telorum gignuntur plurimae species.


Exhalations moist and dry

8. Conditions on earth are like this. Scientists tell us that there are two sorts of ‘exhalation’, [both of which are] thin and ubiquitous; that these are barely visible as they rise upwards from the lap of the earth, [but] that bodies of mist are formed when the vapour is from streams and springs – and this is denser in the mornings. One of these [types of exhalation], the type that is emitted by the earth itself, is dry, rather like smoke. The other is humid and warm: the nature of the upper vapour draws it up to itself from streams [of water]. It gives rise to mist, dew, frost, cloud – and showers, snow and hail. The first type, the one we said was dry, gives rise to the winds and air-currents, to flames and lightning and all the many types of fiery bolts.

Mist is [20] a sterile, vaporous exhalation from water, thicker than air, thinner than cloud. It arises as a cloud is forming, or when it is dissolving. Its converse is said to be (and is) cold air, which is just air with no cloud or mist in it. Dew is moisture from cold air, which is carried by it because of it is so fine in constitution. [25] Ice is water which is gathered from the cold air and compressed. Frost is compressed dew, and hoar-frost half-compressed dew. A cloud is a gathering of thick vapor, capable of producing water. Rain occurs when an especially dense cloud gets weighed down. There are as many types of rain as there are degrees of pressure on the cloud. [30] When a cloud is calm, it scatters soft drops, but when violently compressed, thicker ones: this we call a shower, which is heavier than rain, and sends persistent precipitation down to the earth. Snow comes about through the breaking up of thickened clouds, which get chopped up before the change into water: the chopping makes it foamy and white, and the compaction of the water inside (before it has been poured out or been rarefied) causes the coldness. [394b1] When it is carried down thickly and in quantity it is called a snowstorm. Hail comes about when a snowstorm is compressed and the compaction gives it weight so that it falls faster. Because of the size of the pieces torn off, their mass and speed increase. These are the derivatives from moist exhalations.

Ἔστι δὲ ὁμίχλη μὲν ἀτμώδης [394a20] ἀναθυμίασις ἄγονος ὕδατος, ἀέρος μὲν παχυτέρα, νέφους δὲ ἀραιοτέρα· γίνεται δὲ ἤτοι ἐξ ἀρχῆς νέφους ἢ ἐξ ὑπολείμματος. Ἀντίπαλος δὲ αὐτῇ λέγεταί τε καὶ ἔστιν αἰθρία, οὐδὲν ἄλλο οὖσα πλὴν ἀὴρ ἀνέφελος καὶ ἀνόμιχλος. Δρόσος δέ ἐστιν ὑγρὸν ἐξ αἰθρίας κατὰ σύστασιν λεπτὴν φερόμενον, κρύσταλλος δὲ ἀθρόον ὕδωρ ἐξ αἰθρίας πεπηγός, πάχνη δὲ δρόσος πεπηγυῖα, δροσοπάχνη δὲ ἡμιπαγὴς δρόσος. Νέφος δέ ἐστι πάχος ἀτμῶδες συνεστραμμένον, γόνιμον ὕδατος· ὄμβρος δὲ γίνεται μὲν κατ’ ἐκπιεσμὸν νέφους εὖ μάλα πεπαχυσμένου, διαφορὰς δὲ ἴσχει τοσάσδε ὅσας καὶ ἡ τοῦ νέφους [394a30] θλῖψις· ἠπία μὲν γὰρ οὖσα μαλακὰς ψεκάδας διασπείρει, σφοδρὰ δὲ ἁδροτέρας· καὶ τοῦτο καλοῦμεν ὑετὸν, ὄμβρου μείζω καὶ συνεχῆ συστρέμματα ἐπὶ γῆς φερόμενον. Χιὼν δὲ γίνεται κατὰ νεφῶν πεπυκνωμένων ἀπόθραυσιν πρὸ τῆς εἰς ὕδωρ μεταβολῆς ἀνακοπέντων· ἐργάζεται δὲ ἡ μὲν κοπὴ τὸ ἀφρῶδες καὶ ἔκλευκον, ἡ δὲ σύμπηξις τοῦ ἐνόντος ὑγροῦ τὴν ψυχρότητα οὔπω χυθέντος οὐδὲ ἠραιωμένου. Σφοδρὰ [394b1] δὲ αὕτη καὶ ἀθρόα καταφερομένη νιφετὸς ὠνόμασται. Χάλαζα δὲ γίνεται νιφετοῦ συστραφέντος καὶ βρῖθος ἐκ πιλήματος εἰς καταφορὰν ταχυτέραν λαβόντος· παρὰ δὲ τὰ μεγέθη τῶν ἀπορρηγνυμένων θραυσμάτων οἵ τε ὄγκοι μείζους αἵ τε φοραὶ γίνονται βιαιότεραι. Ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ἐκ τῆς ὑγρᾶς ἀναθυμιάσεως πέφυκε συμπίπτειν.

Nebula constat aut ex ortu nubeculae aut ex eius reliquiis; est autem exhalatio uaporata et umore uiduata, aere crassior, nube subtilior, cui serenitas abolitionem infert. Nec aliud est serenitas, quam aer purgatus caligine et perspicue sincerus. Ros uero nocturnus umor est, quem tenuiter serenitas spargit. [9.] Glaciem dicimus umorem sereno rigore concretum. Huic est pruina consimilis, si mollitia roris matutinis frigoribus incanuit. Ergo aer actus in nubem nubilum denset et ea crassitudo aquarum fetu grauidatur. Imber exprimitur, cum inter se urguentur nubium densitates; totque diuersitatibus pluuiae cadunt, quot modis aer nubili condicionibus cogitur. Raritas enim nubium stillicidia dispergit, quae concretae uehementius effundunt agmina largiora et eas aquas, quas imbres uocamus, a quibus hoc differunt nimbi, quod <imber> pluuia iugis est, nimbus autem quanto repentinus est, tanto uehementior, et quanto inprouisior praecipitatio eius est, tanto breuiore casu restringitur. Niues autem colligi iactatione densarum nubium constat; nam priusquam in aquam defluant, fractae ac discissae spumas agitationibus suis faciunt et mox gelatus umor rigore frigoris inhorrescit. Haec <cum>, uictis nubibus, crebrior ad terram uenit, eam nos tempestatem ningorem uocamus. Grandinare uero tunc dicimus, cum aqua nubem lapidoso pondere et festinante perrumpit eademque ui et ad pernicitatem incitata et, cedente aeris molli liquore, praecipitata[m] indignatione uehementi humum uerberat. [10.] Haec sat erit de iis quae udis elementis aquosisque contingunt.

Mist is constituted either from the beginnings of a small cloud or from its remains. It is vaporised exhalation which has lost its humidity, thicker than air but thinner than cloud; it is dispelled by clear air (which is ‘clear’ simply when it has been purged of darkness and is obviously pure). Dew is nocturnal moisture, which is gently dispersed by clear air. 9. Ice, we claim, is moisture which has been compacted by clear air when it is cold: frost is similar, and happens when the soft morning dew becomes white as it freezes. Air, then, which has been driven into a cloud thickens the cloud – and where it is dense it is ‘pregnant’ with water. A shower is squeezed out when cloud-masses press against one another other. There are as many different types of rainfall as there are ways in which the air is channelled by the state of the cloud. When a cloud is thin it disperses mere drops; but more violently compacted [clouds] pour out larger amounts of water, and what we call ‘showers’. ‘Storms’ differ, in that a shower is steady rain; a storm is as violent as it is sudden, its downpour as brief as it is unexpected. Snow is made up of fragments from denser clouds: before the [clouds] can turn into liquid water, they get broken up and spilt apart; their agitation produces a foam, and soon the congealed moisture gets white as it stiffens with cold. As the clouds are destroyed, this falls thicker and faster to earth, and we call it a snow-storm. We say that it is hailing when water crashes out of a cloud with the weight and speed of a stone: its force makes it move quickly and the gentle, fluid air gives way, so that it plummets down and with violent fury pummels the earth. 10. This will do for what concerns the humid and watery elements.

Wind comes about from the dry exhalations when the cold strikes it so that it starts to move. Wind (also called air-current) is just a lot of air massed together. (Air-current in another sense [sc. as ‘breath’] is what is in plants and animals and pervades all things as an animate and generative substance, but not something we need to talk about now.) Air-currents which blow in the air we call winds; gusts from moist exhalations are breezes. Winds include ‘terrestrial’ winds, which arise from damp earth; and ‘bay-winds’ [enkolpiai], which rush out of bays (and there are some which come from rivers and lakes which have something in common with them). Winds that arise when clouds break apart, and cause their masses to be dispersed are called ‘nebular’. ‘Hydrated’ winds [exudriai] come with water when they break open their mass.

 Ἐκ δὲ τῆς ξηρᾶς ὑπὸ ψύχους μὲν ὠσθείσης ὥστε ῥεῖν ἄνεμος ἐγένετο· οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν οὗτος πλὴν ἀὴρ πολὺς ῥέων καὶ ἀθρόος· ὅστις ἅμα καὶ πνεῦμα λέγεται. Λέγεται δὲ καὶ [394b10] ἑτέρως πνεῦμα ἥ τε ἐν φυτοῖς καὶ ζῴοις καὶ διὰ πάντων διήκουσα ἔμψυχός τε καὶ γόνιμος οὐσία, περὶ ἧς νῦν λέγειν οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον. Τὰ δὲ ἐν ἀέρι πνέοντα πνεύματα καλοῦμεν ἀνέμους, αὔρας δὲ τὰς ἐξ ὑγροῦ φερομένας ἐκπνοάς. Τῶν δὲ ἀνέμων οἱ μὲν ἐκ νενοτισμένης γῆς πνέοντες ἀπόγειοι λέγονται, οἱ δὲ ἐκ κόλπων διεξᾴττοντες ἐγκολπίαι· τούτοις δὲ ἀνάλογόν τι ἔχουσιν οἱ ἐκ ποταμῶν καὶ λιμνῶν. Οἱ δὲ κατὰ ῥῆξιν νέφους γινόμενοι καὶ ἀνάλυσιν τοῦ πάχους εἰς ἑαυτοὺς ποιούμενοι ἐκνεφίαι καλοῦνται· μεθ’ ὕδατος δὲ ἀθρόον ῥαγέντες ἐξυδρίαι λέγονται.

Verum aliae sunt passiones, cum inpulsu frigidioris aeris uenti generantur. Nec enim aliud est nisi multum et uehemens in unum coacti aeris flumen. Hunc spiritum dicimus, licet spiritus ille etiam nominetur, qui animalia extrinsecus omnia [uitalia] tractus sui uitali et fecunda ope uegetat. Siccos et superioris mundi flatus uentos nominamus, auras uero umidos spiritus. Sed uentorum binae sunt species. Qui facti e telluris halitu constant, terrigenae nuncupantur; at illi qui excutiuntur e sinibus ἐγκολπίαι graece sunt nominati. Consimiles his haberi oportet eos qui de fluminibus, lacubus et stagnis uel ruptis nubibus per aperta caeli manare adsolent, rursumque in crassam nubium speciem conglobantur, uel cum imber effusus conciet flabra, quae ἐξυδρίαι Atticorum lingua uocitantur.

But there are other effects [of the exhalations]: winds, which are generated by a movement of cold air. In fact a wind is nothing other than a huge and powerful flow of air that has been channelled together. We call this an ‘air-current’ (although that [Lat. spiritus] is also a term we use for the ‘breath’, drawn in from outside, whose vital and nourishing force gives life to every animal). Dry gusts higher up in the cosmos we call ‘winds’, but damp air-currents ‘breezes’. There are two species of wind. Those constituted from vapour [arising] from the earth are called ‘earth-born’ winds; those which issue from bays are what in Greek are called enkolpiai. Winds which emanate from rivers and lakes should be considered similar to these, as should those which emanate from still or ruptured storm-clouds when the heavens open, or whose mass is formed within in the dense kind of cloud, or which [arise] when a shower rouses up gusts of air. These are what in Attic [Greek] are called exudrai.

A wind which arises regularly in the east has been named a eurus; one from the north a boreas; zephyrys come from the west, and noti from the south. Euri include the wind which blows from where the sun rises in the summer [ENE], which is called Kaikias; Apeliotes comes from the region where it rises at the equinoxes [due E]; and Eurus come from from the region where the sun rises in winter [ESE]. Zephyrs are opposite them: Argestes, which some people used to call Olympias and others Iapyx, comes from the where the sun sets in summer [WNW], Zephyr from [where the sun sets at] the equinox [due W], Lips from [where it sets during] the winter [WSW]. The boreal winds includes Boreas which is in the specific sense the one neighbouring Kaikias [NNE]; Aparktias is the next, coming from the [North] in a southerly direction; then Thraskias (some call this Kirkias), next to Argestes [NNW]. Of the noti, the one which comes from the hidden pole [S] is called Anti-Aparktias; Euronotos is between Notus and Euros [SSE]; on the other side, between Lips and Notus is what some call Libonotus, others Libophoenix.

Καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς συνεχεῖς [394b20] εὖροι κέκληνται, βορέαι δὲ οἱ ἀπὸ ἄρκτου, ζέφυροι δὲ οἱ ἀπὸ δύσεως, νότοι δὲ οἱ ἀπὸ μεσημβρίας. Τῶν γε μὴν εὔρων καικίας μὲν λέγεται ὁ ἀπὸ τοῦ περὶ τὰς θερινὰς ἀνατολὰς τόπου πνέων ἄνεμος, ἀπηλιώτης δὲ ὁ ἀπὸ τοῦ περὶ τὰς ἰσημερινάς, εὖρος δὲ ὁ ἀπὸ τοῦ περὶ τὰς χειμερινάς. Καὶ τῶν ἐναντίων ζεφύρων ἀργέστης μὲν ὁ ἀπὸ τῆς θερινῆς δύσεως, ὅν τινες καλοῦσιν ὀλυμπίαν, οἱ δὲ ἰάπυγα· ζέφυρος δὲ ὁ ἀπὸ τῆς ἰσημερινῆς, λὶψ δὲ ὁ ἀπὸ τῆς χειμερινῆς. Καὶ τῶν βορεῶν ἰδίως ὁ μὲν ἑξῆς τῷ καικίᾳ καλεῖται βορέας, ἀπαρκτίας δὲ ὁ ἐφεξῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ πόλου κατὰ τὸ μεσημβρινὸν [394b30] πνέων, θρασκίας δὲ ὁ ἑξῆς πνέων τῷ ἀργέστῃ, ὃν ἔνιοι κιρκίαν καλοῦσιν. Καὶ τῶν νότων ὁ μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀφανοῦς πόλου φερόμενος ἀντίπαλος τῷ ἀπαρκτίᾳ καλεῖται νότος, εὐρόνοτος δὲ ὁ μεταξὺ νότου καὶ εὔρου· τὸν δὲ ἐπὶ θάτερα μεταξὺ λιβὸς καὶ νότου οἱ μὲν λιβόνοτον, οἱ δὲ λιβοφοίνικα, καλοῦσιν.

11. Nunc nomina exsequemur regionesque uentorum. Euros oriens, boreas septemtrio, occidens zephyros, austros medius dies mittit. Hos quattuor uentos alii plures interfl[u]ant. Nam quamuis eurus sit uentus orientis, idem tamen aparctias accipit[ur] nomen, cum eum oriens aestiuus effundit; apeliotes autem uocatur, cum aequidianis exortibus procreatur; eurus est, quando hiemalis ortus portis emittitur. Zephyrus uero, quem Romana lingua fauonium nouit, hic cum de aestiuis occiduis partibus surgit, iapygis nomine cieri solet; at ille qui propior est aequinoctiali plagae * * * [notus] et aquilo, qui VII stellarum regione generatur, et huic uicinus est aparctias; hic [propior est] * * * ad diem medium. Thrascias et argestes sunt indidem flantes. Austrorum in nominibus illa est obseruata diuersitas: namque cum de abscondito polo flatus adueniunt, notus est, euronotus ille qui inter notum atque eurum medius effringit, ex alio latere libonotus ex duobus unum facit.

11. Now let us go through the names of the winds and their regions. A wind from the east is a ‘eurus’, one the north a ‘boreas’, one from the west a ‘zephyr’, and one from the south an ‘austrus’. Between these four there are many other winds. For any wind from the east is a ‘eurus’, but it is called <Kaikias>, when it comes from where the sun rises in summer [= ENE]; it is called Apeliotes when it is generated [where the sun rises] at either equinox [= due E]; and it is Eurus when it arises and issue forth from the gates of [sunrise during] winter [= ESE]. When a zephyr (known in the Roman language as a favonius) arises from the region of the summer setting [= WNW], it tends to be called by the name Iapygis; it is when it is comes from nearer an equinoctial [point of setting] [= due W] <that it is properly called Zephyr. It is Lips when it comes from the region of the winter sunset>. Aquilo comes from the region of the seven stars [= NNE]. Here, it is has as a neighbour Aparctias, <which blows directly> towards the south [i.e from due N]. Thrascias and Argestes are winds from the same sort of region [sc. NNW]. The following are the different names observed for austri: the one that gusts directly from the Antarctic [= due S] is Notus; Euronotus arises between Notus and Eurus [= SSE]; on the other side [= SSW] Libonotus combines two [names/winds] in one.

Some winds are called direct, blowing straight ahead; others turn back on themselves, [395a1] for example the one called Kaikia. Some are more common in the winter, like the noti, others in summer, like the so-called etesian winds, which are a mixture of those that come from the north and the zephyrs. Some are known as ‘ornithiae’: these are winds that arise in the spring, but belong to the class of boreases. [5] Violent air-currents include the hurricane, an air-current which blasts upwards suddenly. A whirlwind is a violent current of air which arises unexpectedly; the tornado or cyclone is an air current which twists from below reaching upwards; the ‘upward blast’ [anaphysema] is an air current which erupts upwards from the earth where a gorge or fissure opens up. [10] When it gets tightly twisted, it is a terrestrial ‘prester’. When an air current finds its way into a dense and dark cloud, and then is expelled through it, violently rupturing the compaction of the cloud, it causes a mighty crack and rumbling, which is called thunder (it is just like when there is a impulsion of air within water).

Τῶν δὲ ἀνέμων οἱ μέν εἰσιν εὐθύπνοοι, ὁπόσοι διεκπνέουσι πρόσω κατ’ εὐθεῖαν, οἱ δὲ ἀνακαμψίπνοοι, καθάπερ [395a1] ὁ καικίας λεγόμενος, καὶ οἱ μὲν χειμῶνος, ὥσπερ οἱ νότοι, δυναστεύοντες, οἱ δὲ θέρους, ὡς οἱ ἐτησίαι λεγόμενοι, μῖξιν ἔχοντες τῶν τε ἀπὸ τῆς ἄρκτου φερομένων καὶ ζεφύρων· οἱ δὲ ὀρνιθίαι καλούμενοι, ἐαρινοί τινες ὄντες ἄνεμοι, βορέαι εἰσὶ τῷ γένει. Τῶν γε μὴν βιαίων πνευμάτων καταιγὶς μέν ἐστι πνεῦμα ἄνωθεν τύπτον ἐξαίφνης, θύελλα δὲ πνεῦμα βίαιον καὶ ἄφνω προσαλλόμενον, λαῖλαψ δὲ καὶ στρόβιλος πνεῦμα εἰλούμενον κάτωθεν ἄνω, ἀναφύσημα δὲ γῆς πνεῦμα ἄνω φερόμενον κατὰ τὴν ἐκ βυθοῦ τινος ἢ ῥήγματος ἀνάδο[395a10] σιν· ὅταν δὲ εἰλούμενον πολὺ φέρηται, πρηστὴρ χθόνιός ἐστιν. Εἰληθὲν δὲ πνεῦμα ἐν νέφει παχεῖ τε καὶ νοτερῷ, καὶ ἐξωσθὲν δι’ αὐτοῦ, βιαίως ῥηγνύον τὰ συνεχῆ πιλήματα τοῦ νέφους, βρόμον καὶ πάταγον μέγαν ἀπειργάσατο, <ὃς> βροντὴ λέγεται, ὥσπερ ἐν ὕδατι πνεῦμα σφοδρῶς ἐλαυνόμενον.

12. Excursores uenti habentur, qui directo spiritu proflant; flabris reciprocis caecias putatur esse. Et quidam hiemales habentur, ut noti; etesiae frequentiores sunt aestate, animis septemtrionis ac zephyri temperatis. Veris ornithiae uenti appellantur, aquilonum genus ex aere prosati, minore nisu, nec iugi perseuerantia spiritus perferentes. At enim procellosus flatus cataegis dicitur, quem praefractum possumus dicere, uentus qui, de superiore caeli parte submissus, inferiora repentinis inpulsibus quatiat. Turbo autem dicitur, qui repentinis flabris prosilit atque uniuersa perturbat. Vertex ille est uel, uti dicitur, pinea[s], cum torquetur humus arida et ab infimo erigitur ad summum. Anaphysemata Graeci uocant eos spiritus, qui de fundo uel hiatibus terrae explosi ad superna minari solent. Hi cum maiore ui torti sunt, fit procella terrestris; a Graecis prester nomen accepit. Sed cum tormentum illud ire pergit densasque et [t]umidas nubes prae se agit coactasque collidit, fit sonitus et intonat caelum, non secus ac si commotum uentis mare cum ingenti fragore undas litoribus inpingat.

12. Winds that blow directly are held to be skirmishers’; Caecias is supposed to be one whose direction changes back and forth. Some winds, such as the noti, are associated with winter; etesian winds are more common in summer, when a northerly current mixes with a zephyr. Spring winds are called ornithiae: on the basis of the air from which they arise, they form a class of aquilos; but their currents have less strength and are not so persistent. A tempestuous gust of wind is called a whirlwind: we can think of it as a bit of wind which has become separated off and come down from the upper part of the heaven; it shakes things down below with its sudden battering. A so-called ‘tornado is a sudden gust of wind which brings confusion to everything. In cases where dry earth is picked up and carried from the bottom of the tornado to the top, its top is referred to as a ‘pinea. Anaphysemata are what the Greeks call winds which explode from ravines or from gaps in the earth and menace the upper regions. When these are even more violently twisted, you get a terrestrial whirlwind – which is given the name prester by the Greeks. But when a twister begins to move and drives dense and humid clouds before it, they pile up and it collides with them and there is a noise which makes the heavens resoundjust as when the sea, stirred up by winds, makes an almighty racket by smashing its waves on the shore.

Apuleius windrose

Apuleius windrose

13. At Fauorinus, non ignobilis sapiens, haec de uentis refert: quattuor mundi plagas inparem numerum habere uentorum, eo quod ortus et occasus mutentur terna uice cum solis accessu, meridies et arctos isdem semper regionibus sint notatae. Ortus quippe accepimus aequinoctialem et solstitialem <et> brumalem, quibus occasus redduntur eadem interuallorum ratione conuersa[e]. Eurus igitur aequinoctialis orientis est uentus nec inuenusta nominis eius fictio est, qui sit ἀπὸ τῆς ἑῴας ῥέων. Idem ἀφηλιώτης a Graecis, subsolanus a nostris solet dici. Sed qui ab aestiua et solstitiali[s] orientis meta uenit, βορέας graece, latine aquilo nominatur; hunc αἰθρηγενέτην, quod sit alias serenus, Homerus ait; βορέαν uero ἀπὸ τῆς βοῆς quod non sine clamore soleat intonare. Tertium uentum, qui ab oriente hiberno uenit, Graeci εὐρόνοτον uocant. Item occidui sunt tres: caurus, qui graece ἀργέστης uocatur, is est aduersus aquiloni; item fauonius, ζέφυρος, euro contrarius; tertius africus, λίψ, uulturno reflat. Meridies uero, quoniam eadem semper regione signatur, uno austro, id est νότῳ, flatur * * * et is septemtrio habet cognomentum, qui tamen graeca lingua ἀπαρκτίας dictus est. [14.] Horum nomina plerique commutant de loco uel similitudine aliqua, ut Galli circium appellant a turbine eius et uertice, Apuli iapyga uentum ex Iapygiae sinu, id est ex ipso Gargano uenientem. Hunc caurum esse manifestum; nam et ex occiduo uenit et Vergilius eius sic meminit: <Illam inter caedes pallentem morte futura Fecerat Ignipotens undis et iapyge ferri>. <Est> etiam caecias uentus quem Aristoteles ait ad se trahere nubes et est adagium de eo tale: ἕλκων ἐφ’ αὑτὸν ὥστε καικίας νέφος. Sunt etesiae et prodromi spirantes ex omni parte eo tempore aestatis, quo[d de] Canis oritur. Cato autem in libris Originum non circium, sed cercium dicit. Is uentus cercius, cum loquare, buccam inplet, armatum hominem, plaustrum oneratum percellit.

13. But Favorinus, not an insignificant scholar, has the following to say about the winds. The world’s four sources for wind [he says] do not all give rise to the same numbers of winds, because where the sun rises and sets changes three times [during the year] depending on its proximity, whereas south and north are always in the same place. We mark the places where it rises at [each] equinox and at <the summer and> winter solstice, and the places where it sets in corresponding terms. Eurus, then, is the eastern wind that comes from where the sun rises at the equinox [= E]. (Its name has a pleasing derivation: it is ἀπὸ τῆς ἑῴας ῥέων [‘flowing from the dawn’].) This wind is also called Apheliotes by the Greeks, and Subsolanus by us. The wind that comes from the point of sunrise at the summer solstice [= NE] is named Boreas in Greek, Aquilo in Latin. Homer says that this wind is αἰθρηγενέτης [‘aether-born’], or ‘calm’ as one might put it. (Boreas is so-called from ἀπὸ τῆς βοῆς [‘shouting’], because the noise it generally makes is not quiet.) A third wind, which comes from the place of sunrise during the winter [= SE], the Greeks call Eurynotus. There are, likewise, three winds which come from the west: Caurus, which is called Argestes in Greek, and answers to Aquilo [i.e. is NW]; Favonius, or Zephyr, is opposite Eurus [i.e. is due W]; the third wind, Africus, Lips, answers Vulturnus [i.e. is SW]. Midday, on the other hand, is always in the same place [= S] and has one wind, Auster, i.e. Notus. <Opposite this, from the north, is the wind> which has the name Septemtrio – although this is called Aparktias in Greek. 14. Many of these winds have different names based on places or their resemblance to something or other. The Gauls call one wind ‘Circius’ from its twist at the top; the Apulians talk about the ‘Iapyga’ which comes from the bay of Iapygia, i.e. from [Mount] Garganus itself. It is clear that this is Caurus, because it comes from the west. (Vergil mentions it: ‘Growing pale with her impending death among the corpses, the Fire-master had her carried off on the waves by Iapygus.’) Caecias is a wind which Aristotle says draws the clouds to itself, and that there is a saying about it: ἕλκων ἐφ’ αὑτὸν ὥστε καικίας νέφος [‘he brings it on himself like Kaikias draws the clouds’]. There are etesian winds, and ‘forerunners’, which blow from all directions at the time during summer when the Dog Star [= Sirius] appears. Cato in his Origins does not say ‘Circius’ but ‘Cercius’: this wind, Cercius, fills it cheeks to speak, and can repel an armed man or a loaded cart.

Favorinus windrose


[15] When a cloud breaks up in fire, the air current and light is called coruscation – which we perceive before the thunder, although it arises later, since hearing tends to be beaten by sight, even when the object of sight is further away, and the other is closer to hearing. This is especially true when [the object of sight] is the fastest of things, namely something fiery; while sound is less fast, being of the air, and reaching hearing by [the air’s being] struck. Flame, ignited and violently racing to earth, is called lightning; if it is less fiery, but still violent and fast, it is a prester; and if it is entirely without fire, it is a typhoon. Each of these, as something rushing down to earth, is called a ‘bolt’. [25] Some forms of lightning are said to be sooty and smoky; some, which dart quickly, are bright. Forked lightning moves in thin lines. Anything that crashes down to earth is a ‘bolt’.


Κατὰ δὲ τὴν τοῦ νέφους ἔκρηξιν πυρωθὲν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ λάμψαν ἀστραπὴ λέγεται· ὃ δὴ πρότερον τῆς βροντῆς προσέπεσεν, ὕστερον γενόμενον, ἐπεὶ τὸ ἀκουστὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ ὁρατοῦ πέφυκε φθάνεσθαι, τοῦ μὲν καὶ πόρρωθεν ὁρωμένου, τοῦ δὲ ἐπειδὰν ἐμπελάσῃ τῇ ἀκοῇ, καὶ μάλιστα ὅταν τὸ μὲν τάχιστον ᾖ [395a20] τῶν ὄντων, λέγω δὲ τὸ πυρῶδες, τὸ δὲ ἧττον ταχύ, ἀερῶδες ὄν, ἐν τῇ πλήξει πρὸς ἀκοὴν ἀφικνούμενον. Τὸ δὲ ἀστράψαν ἀναπυρωθέν, βιαίως ἄχρι τῆς γῆς διεκθέον, κεραυνὸς καλεῖται, ἐὰν δὲ ἡμίπυρον ᾖ, σφοδρὸν δὲ ἄλλως καὶ ἀθρόον, πρηστήρ, ἐὰν δὲ ἄπυρον παντελῶς, τυφών· ἕκαστον δὲ τούτων κατασκῆψαν εἰς τὴν γῆν σκηπτὸς ὀνομάζεται. Τῶν δὲ κεραυνῶν οἱ μὲν αἰθαλώδεις ψολόεντες λέγονται, οἱ δὲ ταχέως διᾴττοντες ἀργῆτες, ἑλικίαι δὲ οἱ γραμμοειδῶς φερόμενοι, σκηπτοὶ δὲ ὅσοι κατασκήπτουσιν εἰς τὴν γῆν.


15. Nunc de nubium praestigiis referam. Quando illa perfracta nubecula patefecerit caelum, ignescunt penetrabiles spiritus, emicatque lux clara; hoc dicitur coruscare. Et ordine quidem tonare prius oportet, postea coruscare. Quippe ubi nubes adflictrix <ignem>, ut ignifera saxa adtrita inter se, dat, obtutus uelocius inlustriora contingit, auditus, dum ad aures uenit, seriore sensu concipitur; ita prius coruscare caelum creditur et mox tonare; tum quod ignes, pernicitate sui claricantes, dicto citius nostrae uisioni conuibrant, sonus, aere uerberato, alterius indicio sentitur. Flamma uero illa, quam nubium adflictus excussit, si robustiore fuerit incendio, inpetu deuehitur in terras et fulminis habet nomen atque formidinem. Presteras uero nominamus, cum flammarum in illis minus fuerit. Sed si ignitum non erit fulmen, typhon uocatur. Sceptos generale omnibus quae e nubibus cadunt nomen est.

Lightning &c.

15. I will return now to tricks played by the clouds. When a small cloud is broken up and exposes the sky, escaping exhalations are ignited and a bright light flashes out: this is called a ‘coruscation’. The order ought to be that there is thunder first and then coruscation, because it is after one cloud strikes another that it emits light – like stone fire-starters when they are rubbed together. But the brightness reaches our sight more quickly; sounds are only sensed later when they make their way to our ears. So people think that the heavens first coruscate and shortly afterwards thunder; but only because fire moves at scorching speed and stimulates the senses more quickly than speech; sound, which is reverberating air, is an indirect way of sensing. A flame which is emitted from friction between clouds, when it is intense and has enough impetus to reach the earth, has the name and intimidating force of ‘lightning’. When there is less fire, we call it a ‘prester’. If the bolt is not ignited at all, it is called a ‘typhoon’. Sceptus [‘bolt’] is the general name for anything which falls from the clouds.


To speak in general, some atmospheric phenomena are mere apparitions, but some are real. Apparitions include rainbows and rods and the like; streaking light, comets and so on are real. A rainbow is when part of the sun or moon appears in a dark and curved cloud, and seems to be continuous, as if seen around the edge of a circular mirror. [35] A rod is a rainbow that looks straight. A halo is a bright apparition coming from the light of a star: [395b1] it differs from a rainbow, because a rainbow appears opposite the sun or moon, but a halo makes a circles around the whole star. A light is the ignition of a mass of fire in the air. Some forms of it dart, some are fixed. A dart is fire sparked from friction as it is carried quickly in the air, giving the appearance of length because of its speed. A fixed light is extended but unmoving, or moves as a star does. A flatter version of this is called a comet. Some forms of lightning last longer [10], but some are extinguished immediately. There are many other types phenomena: ‘torches’ and ‘planks’ and ‘jars’ and ‘trenches’ – named for their similarity to these things. Some of them arise in the west, some in the east, some can be seen in both regions; but they are rare in the north and south. However, they are all unpredictable: there is nothing you can say about them that always holds true. So much for the atmosphere, then.


Συλλήβδην δὲ τῶν ἐν ἀέρι φαντασμάτων τὰ μέν ἐστι κατ’ ἔμφασιν, [395a30] τὰ δὲ καθ’ ὑπόστασιν – κατ’ ἔμφασιν μὲν ἴριδες καὶ ῥάβδοι καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα, καθ’ ὑπόστασιν δὲ σέλα τε καὶ διᾴττοντες καὶ κομῆται καὶ τὰ τούτοις παραπλήσια. Ἶρις μὲν οὖν ἐστιν ἔμφασις ἡλίου τμήματος ἢ σελήνης, ἐν νέφει νοτερῷ καὶ κοίλῳ καὶ συνεχεῖ πρὸς φαντασίαν, ὡς ἐν κατόπτρῳ, θεωρουμένη κατὰ κύκλου περιφέρειαν. Ῥάβδος δέ ἐστιν ἴριδος ἔμφασις εὐθεῖα. Ἅλως δέ ἐστιν ἔμφασις λαμπρότητος [395b1] ἄστρου περίαυγος· διαφέρει δὲ ἴριδος ὅτι ἡ μὲν ἶρις ἐξ ἐναντίας φαίνεται ἡλίου καὶ σελήνης, ἡ δὲ ἅλως κύκλῳ παντὸς ἄστρου. Σέλας δέ ἐστι πυρὸς ἀθρόου ἔξαψις ἐν ἀέρι. Τῶν δὲ σελάων ἃ μὲν ἀκοντίζεται, ἃ δὲ στηρίζεται. Ὁ μὲν οὖν ἐξακοντισμός ἐστι πυρὸς γένεσις ἐκ παρατρίψεως ἐν ἀέρι φερομένου ταχέως καὶ φαντασίαν μήκους ἐμφαίνοντος διὰ τὸ τάχος, ὁ δὲ στηριγμός ἐστι χωρὶς φορᾶς προμήκης ἔκτασις καὶ οἷον ἄστρου ῥύσις· πλατυνομένη δὲ κατὰ θάτερον κομήτης καλεῖται. Πολλάκις δὲ τῶν σελάων τὰ μὲν ἐπιμένει [395b10] πλείονα χρόνον, τὰ δὲ παραχρῆμα σβέννυται. Πολλαὶ δὲ καὶ ἄλλαι φαντασμάτων ἰδέαι θεωροῦνται, λαμπάδες τε καλούμεναι καὶ δοκίδες καὶ πίθοι καὶ βόθυνοι, κατὰ τὴν πρὸς ταῦτα ὁμοιότητα ὧδε προσαγορευθεῖσαι. Καὶ τὰ μὲν τούτων ἑσπέρια, τὰ δὲ ἑῷα, τὰ δὲ ἀμφιφανῆ θεωρεῖται, σπανίως δὲ βόρεια καὶ νότια. Πάντα δὲ ἀβέβαια· οὐδέποτε γάρ τι τούτων ἀεὶ φανερὸν ἱστόρηται κατεστηριγμένον. Τὰ μὲν τοίνυν ἀέρια τοιαῦτα.


16. Atque, ut breuiter conprehendam cuncta generis eiusdem, eorum, quae eiusmodi praestigias humanis inferunt oculis, alia sunt quae speciem tantum spectaculi pariunt, alia quae nihil ab eo quod ostenderint mentiuntur. Fallunt imagine irides et arcus et talia; uere uidentur cometae, fulgores et similia pleraque. Irin, uulgo arcum, esse aiunt, quando imago solis uel imago lunae umidam et cauam nubem densamque ad instar speculi colorat et medietatem orbis eius secat. Rhabdos autem generis eiusdem ad uirgae rigorem perlongum colorata nubecula dicitur. Alysis est catena quaedam luminis clarioris, per solis ambitum in se reuertens. Hanc et irida illud interest, quod iris multicolora est et semicirculo figurata proculque a sole atque luna, catena clarior est, astrumque ambit orbe incolumi, corona non discolora. Selas autem Graeci uocant incensi aeris lucem; horum pleraque iaculari credas [alia labi], stare alia. Iaculatio igitur tunc fieri putatur, cum aeris meatu atque inpulsu generatus ignis celeritate sua <adlabitur> cursumque rapidae festinationis ostendit. Statiua lux est, quam sterigmon illi uocant, sine cursu iugis et prolixa lux, stellaeque fluor et ignitus liquor, qui, cum latius panditur, cometes uocatur. Sed plerumque luces istae repentino ortae statim occidunt; <aliae> autem, ut se ostenderint, aliquantisper manent. Et sunt multa eiusmodi imaginum genera, quas Graeci faces et docidas et pithos et bothynos ad eorum similitudines, unde dicta sunt, nominant; et quaedam uespertina <uel matutina> sunt notiora; perrara de septemtrione uel meridie uideas; nihil horum quippe loci uel temporis in nascendo fidem potuit obtin[g]ere. [17.] De aere tantum habuimus, quod diceremus.

Bright events

16. I will briefly summarise everything that falls into the class of things which perform tricks for human eyes. Some of these produce only the appearance that there is something there to be seen, but others are not lying at all about what they show. Deceptive phenomena include rainbows and arcs and such things; comets, lights and the many things like them are real object of vision. A ‘rainbow’, commonly [known as] an ‘arc’, is, they say, when an image of the sun or an image of the moon colours a dense cloud which is humid and concave like a hemi-spherical mirror. A rhabdos [‘rod’] is similar, but the coloured cloud is extended like a rigid rod. A halo is a sort of chain of clear light which turns back on itself and intersects the course of the sun. Here is the difference between this and a rainbow: a rainbow is multi-coloured and semi-circular in shape, and lies far away from the sun and moon; but a chain is clearer, and encircles the stars in an unbroken circle, like a crown of just one colour. The Greeks call it selas when air is ignited: in many cases, you would think [the light] had been thrown, in others that it is falling, and in others that it is stable. [It seems] thrown, when the fire arises and then falls at speed which is imparted to it by the movement and impulse of the air; its course is very rapid. A stable light, which they call a sterigmon, is a long strip of light which does not move. A light which glides along, like a star with ignited fluid spreading out behind it, is called a ‘comet’. Often these lights arise suddenly and are extinguished immediately; but others remain for a while to show themselves off. There are many phenomena of this kind: the Greeks call them ‘torches’ [Gr. lampades], docideae [‘planks’], and pithoi [‘jars’] and bothynoi [‘trenches’], naming them after what they look like. Some are more common in the west <some in the east>. You will very rarely see them in the north or south – although none of them reliably arises at one place or time rather than another. 17. That is all I have to say about the air.


[395b18] The earth contains many things within itself: for example, sources of water, but of air current and fire too. Some of these are below the earth and unseen; but often they are expelled and blasted upwards – as at Lipari and Aetna and in the Aeolian islands. Sometimes fiery masses are thrown up which actually flow like a river; or they remain below the earth and heat things up near sources of water, resulting in springs that are warm, or very hot, or temperate. Similarly in the case of the air-currents: there are openings for them in many places on earth. Some of them cause anyone who comes near to be possessed, or, in other cases, to waste away; and some make them deliver oracles, as those in Delphi and Lebadeia do; and some altogether destroy them, as the one in Phrygia.


Ἐμπεριέχει δὲ καὶ ἡ γῆ πολλὰς ἐν αὑτῇ, καθάπερ ὕδατος, οὕτως καὶ πνεύματος καὶ πυρὸς πηγάς· Τούτων δὲ αἱ [395b20] μὲν ὑπὸ γῆν εἰσιν ἀόρατοι, πολλαὶ δὲ ἀναπνοὰς ἔχουσι καὶ ἀναφυσήσεις, ὥσπερ Λιπάρα τε καὶ Αἴτνη καὶ αἱ ἐν Αἰόλου νήσοις· αἳ δὴ καὶ ῥέουσι πολλάκις ποταμοῦ δίκην, καὶ μύδρους ἀναρριπτοῦσι διαπύρους. Ἔνιαι δὲ ὑπὸ γῆν οὖσαι πλησίον πηγαίων ὑδάτων θερμαίνουσι ταῦτα, καὶ τὰ μὲν χλιαρὰ τῶν ναμάτων ἀνιᾶσι, τὰ δὲ ὑπέρζεστα, τὰ δὲ εὖ ἔχοντα κράσεως. Ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ τῶν πνευμάτων πολλὰ πολλαχοῦ γῆς στόμια ἀνέῳκται· ὧν τὰ μὲν ἐνθουσιᾶν ποιεῖ τοὺς ἐμπελάζοντας, τὰ δὲ ἀτροφεῖν, τὰ δὲ χρησμῳδεῖν, ὥσπερ τὰ ἐν Δελφοῖς καὶ Λεβαδείᾳ, τὰ δὲ καὶ παντάπασιν ἀναιρεῖ, [395b30] καθάπερ τὸ ἐν Φρυγίᾳ.


Sed non aquarum modo tellus in se fontis habet, uerum spiritu et igni fecunda est. Nam quibusdam sub terris occulti sunt spiritus et flant incendia indidem <et> suspirant, ut Liparae, ut Aetna, ut Vesuuius etiam noster solet. Illi etiam ignes, qui terrae secretariis continentur, praetereuntes aquas uaporant et produnt longinquitatem flammae cum tepidiores aquas reddunt, uiciniam <cum> feruentiores opposito incendio aquae uruntur, ut Phlegethontis amnis, quem poetae [s]ciunt in fabulis inferorum. At enim illos quis non admirandos spiritus arbitretur, cum ex his animaduertat accidere, ut eorum religione lymphantes alii sine cibo potuque sint, pars uero praesagiis effantes futura? quod in oraculis Delphicis est ceterisque. Vidi et ipse apud Hierapolim Phrygiae non adeo ardui montis uicinum latus natiui oris hiatu reseratum et tenuis neque editae marginis ambitu circumdatum. Siue illa, ut poetae uolunt, Ditis spiracula dicenda sunt, seu mortiferos anhelitus eos credi prior ratio est, proxima quaeque animalia et in aluum prona atque proiecta uenenati spiritus contagione corripiunt et uertice circumacta[s] interimunt. Antistites denique ipsos semiuiros esse, qui audeant propius accedere, ad superna semper sua ora tollentes; adeo illis cognitum est uim mali, ad inferiora aeris noxii crassitate densata, inferiores quoque facilius adire atque percellere.


The earth not only contains the sources of water, it is also swollen with vapour and fire. For there are vapours hidden underground which blow exhalations of fire out of the earth where they are present. This happens for example at Lipari, or Aetna, and even our own Vesuvius. As to the fires which remain contained within the hidden places of the earth, these heat up any water they encounter. You can tell that the flames are some way off when the result is tepid water: when they are nearby, the water is scalding because of the fire set under it – as is the case with the river Phlegethon, which the poets mention in their stories about the underworld. The vapours themselves deserve our admiration: anyone would acknowledge this, observing how they send people into a religious ecstasy in which they do not need food or drink and can intimate the future. This is what happens in the case of the Delphic oracle and others. At Hierapolis in Phrygia, I myself saw a hole, surrounded by a small, thin ridge, open up on the side of a not very steep mountain. The poets would like [such things] to be called the ‘vents of Dis’; reason tells us that they are source of lethal exhalations; either way, their poisonous and contagious vapour is dangerous to all animals, creeping or flying, and kills them, their head twisting back [as they die]. The hermaphrodites who look after them, if they dare to draw near, always keep their mouths turned upwards. They know what this evil is capable of: the poisonous air is denser and thicker lower down and so finds and afflicts lower creature more readily.


[395b30] Often a temperate air-current which belongs in the earth finds itself displaced from its home territory in pockets within the earth, and causes agitation in many parts. And often, it is compressed within these pockets and then breaks out with violence that [35] shakes the earth’s foundations; and in finding its escape, it causes what we can an earthquake. Some earthquakes [396a1], called epiklintai, shake sideways at acute angles; brastai heave the earth up and down on the perpendicular; hizmatiai cause the earth to collapse into sinkholes; the ones that open up chasms and churn up the earth are called rhektai. [5] Some emit a current of air too, some throw up rocks, or mud; others reveal springs that were not there before. Some shift once and topple everything: they call these ostae. Others, called palmatiai, rebound and set what they have shaken straight again, as they are made to lean one way and then back again in the opposite direction – the effect they create is a sort of shiver. Then there are ‘moaning’ earthquakes, which roar as they shake the earth. Often there is a rumbling within the earth but no earthquake – this happens when the current of air is not powerful enough to shake the earth, but coils up inside it and strikes it with resounding force. [15] The air currents within are also amalgamated by hidden bodies of water contained within the earth.


Πολλάκις δὲ καὶ συγγενὲς πνεῦμα εὔκρατον ἐν γῇ παρεξωσθὲν εἰς μυχίους σήραγγας αὐτῆς, ἔξεδρον γενόμενον ἐκ τῶν οἰκείων τόπων, πολλὰ μέρη συνεκράδανεν. Πολλάκις δὲ πολὺ γενόμενον ἔξωθεν ἐγκατειλήθη τοῖς ταύτης κοιλώμασι καὶ ἀποκλεισθὲν [ἐξόδου] μετὰ βίας αὐτὴν συνετίναξε, ζητοῦν ἔξοδον ἑαυτῷ, καὶ ἀπειργάσατο πάθος τοῦτο ὃ καλεῖν εἰώθαμεν σεισμόν. Τῶν δὲ σει[396a1] σμῶν οἱ μὲν εἰς πλάγια σείοντες κατ’ ὀξείας γωνίας ἐπικλίνται καλοῦνται, οἱ δὲ ἄνω ῥιπτοῦντες καὶ κάτω κατ’ ὀρθὰς γωνίας βράσται, οἱ δὲ συνιζήσεις ποιοῦντες εἰς τὰ κοῖλα ἱζηματίαι· οἱ δὲ χάσματα ἀνοίγοντες καὶ τὴν γῆν ἀναρρηγνύντες ῥῆκται καλοῦνται. Τούτων δὲ οἱ μὲν καὶ πνεῦμα προσαναβάλλουσιν, οἱ δὲ πέτρας, οἱ δὲ πηλόν, οἱ δὲ πηγὰς φαίνουσι τὰς πρότερον οὐκ οὔσας. Τινὲς δὲ ἀνατρέπουσι κατὰ μίαν πρόωσιν, οὓς καλοῦσιν ὤστας. Οἱ δὲ ἀνταποπάλλοντες καὶ ταῖς εἰς ἑκάτερον ἐγκλίσεσι καὶ ἀποπάλσεσι διορθοῦντες ἀεὶ [396a10] τὸ σειόμενον παλματίαι λέγονται, τρόμῳ πάθος ὅμοιον ἀπεργαζόμενοι. Γίνονται δὲ καὶ μυκηταὶ σεισμοί, σείοντες τὴν γῆν μετὰ βρόμου. Πολλάκις δὲ καὶ χωρὶς σεισμοῦ γίνεται μύκημα γῆς, ὅταν τὸ πνεῦμα σείειν μὲν μὴ αὔταρκες ᾖ, ἐνειλούμενον δὲ ἐν αὐτῇ κόπτηται μετὰ ῥοθίου βίας. Συσσωματοποιεῖται δὲ τὰ εἰσιόντα πνεύματα καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν τῇ γῇ ὑγρῶν κεκρυμμένων.


18. Saepe accidit ut natiui spiritus, per terrae concauas partes errantes, concuterent solida terrarum, saepius ut spiritus, crescente uiolentia et insinuantes se telluris angustiis nec inuenientes exitum, terram mouerent. Horum motuum tam uaria nomina quam diuersi * * * Namque obliquis lateribus proxima quaeque iactantes et acutis angulis mobiles epiclintae graece appellantur; sed qui subsiliunt, excutientes onera et recuperantes directis angulis, brastae uocitantur; illi, qui abstrudere uidentur, hizematiae dicti[s]; quorum inpulsu dissilit tellus, rhectae sunt nominati. His passionibus contingit ut quaedam terrae exspirent halitus, aliae uomant saxa, nonnullae caenum; sunt quae fontes pariunt insolentibus locis, peregrinorum fluminum sulcantes uias. Ostae sunt motus, quibus <semel> solum quatitur; palmatiae uero appellantur, quorum pauitatione illa quae trepidant sine inclinationis periculo nutabunt, cum directi tamen rigoris statum retinent. Mycetias uocatur taetri odoris inquietudo terrena. Audiuntur mugitus, interioribus gemitibus expressis, cum spiritus inualidus ad terram mouendam per aperta telluris inuentis itineribus progreditur.


18. The vapours produced in the earth drift through its hollow parts, but it often happens that they come up against solid earth. Quite often the vapours get into confined spaces where they are unable to find a way out, and as they grow in force they move the earth. Of these movements there are as many different names as there are different <kinds>. Oblique lateral movements at sharp vertical angles hurl everything nearby around: these are called epiclintae in Greek; those where the earth leaps upwards, shaking off everything on it, and then recovers on the perpendicular are called brastae. Those which seem to thrust things away are called hizematiae; those whose force tears the earth open are called rhectae. In some places, these [movements] are accompanied by an escape of gas; or else rocks or mud are spewed out. Some cause springs to appear in new places, and carve out channels for their waters to travel through. Ostae are movements in which one is merely shaken; palmatiae is the name for cases of trembling where the things that are shaken lean, but are not put in danger of falling, because they are moved straight upwards and remain steady. Mycetia is what it is called when a foul odour is dislodged from the earth. When the vapours are not strong enough to move the earth, but emerge through openings in the ground where a way through can be found, they emit groans within the earth, and a moaning sound can be heard.

[396a17] There are analogous phenomena in the sea too, which cause the water to be sucked down and rise back up; or surging waves, sometimes after an initial recoil, but sometimes just moving forwards, as is said of Helike and Boura. Often there are spurts of fire in the sea, and water-spouts comparable to springs or newly germinating plants; and rivers and eddies analogous to those found in winds too, some occuring in the open sea, [25] others only in straits and channels. And the sea is said to ebb and flow at fixed times which follow the moon.

Τὰ δὲ ἀνάλογον συμπίπτει [τούτοις] καὶ ἐν θαλάσσῃ· χάσματά τε γὰρ γίνεται θαλάσσης καὶ ἀναχωρήματα πολλάκις καὶ κυμάτων ἐπιδρομαί, ποτὲ μὲν ἀντανακοπὴν [396a20] ἔχουσαι, ποτὲ δὲ πρόωσιν μόνον, ὥσπερ ἱστορεῖται περὶ Ἑλίκην τε καὶ Βοῦραν. Πολλάκις δὲ καὶ ἀναφυσήματα γίνεται πυρὸς ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ καὶ πηγῶν ἀναβλύσεις καὶ ποταμῶν ἐκβολαὶ καὶ δένδρων ἐκφύσεις ῥοαί τε καὶ δῖναι ταῖς τῶν πνευμάτων ἀνάλογον, αἱ μὲν ἐν μέσοις πελάγεσιν, αἱ δὲ κατὰ τοὺς εὐρίπους τε καὶ πορθμούς. Πολλαί τε ἀμπώτεις λέγονται καὶ κυμάτων ἄρσεις συμπεριοδεύειν ἀεὶ τῇ σελήνῃ κατά τινας ὡρισμένους καιρούς.

19. His talibus marina sunt paria, cum fluctuum currentium mole nunc progressibus litora, nunc recursibus sinus caesi quatiuntur. Sentitur etiam caeli marisque cognatio, cum menstruis cursibus lunae detrimenta et accessus fretorum atque aestuum deprehenduntur.

19. There are marine equivalents of all these things: seashores are battered by the mass of surging waves when they come in, and the bays violently carved out as they recede. What is more, the relationship between heaven and sea is evident in the fact that the swell and tides of the sea follow the monthly courses of the moon.


To speak generally, the elements are mixed together in air and eath and sea in a way that makes it only reasonable that they constitute the similarities [that there are] in the way things fall out; they bring about local instances of destruction and generation, but ensure the preservation of the whole, which is neither destroyed nor generated. And yet someone might wonder how the cosmos could ever be constituted from opposed principles – I mean from dry and wet [35], cold and warm – and not have been destroyed and lost long ago. [396b1] But this is like wondering how a city could persist although made up of extreme opposites among people – I mean poor and rich, young and old, weak and strong, bad and good. You do not realise that this is the triumphant achievement of political concord, I mean that one [city] can be effected from many people – and a consistent disposition from different dispositions, embracing every kind and subject to every chance. And perhaps nature actually aims for opposites, and effects its harmony out of these rather than out of things similar to each other: for example, it leads the male to the female, rather [10] than each to its own kind, and it establishes this primal concord in things that are opposite not similar. You can see that art too imitates nature in doing this. Painting mixes up the colours, whites and blacks, ochres and reds, and makes images harmonious with what it depicts. And music brings high together with low, long and short notes, mixing the sounds in different voices to effect a single harmony. Grammar too mixes voiced and unvoiced letters, and builds its whole art out of them. This is exactly what Heraclitus the obscure meant when he said: ‘Taken together they are whole and not whole, combined divided, consonant dissonant; from all things one and from one all things.’ In this way a single harmony directs the organisation of all things – by which I mean heaven and earth and the whole cosmos – by mixing principles which are extreme opposites [25]: dry is mixed with wet, warm with cold, light with heavy, and straight with curved. One power coursing through all things has organised all the earth and sea and aether and sun and moon and the whole heaven, crafting the whole cosmos from distinct elements (air, earth, fire and water), enclosing the spheres within a single surface, forcing agreement between things with kinds that are extreme opposites to one another inside it, and engineering out of them a way of preserving the whole. The cause of this is agreement between the elements, and the fact that each has an equal part in the agreement so that one of them [397a1] is never more powerful than another. Heavy and light are equally matched, as are warm and its opposite. Nature thus teaches us through these greater matters that equality can preserve concord – even concord within the cosmos, which is the most beautiful thing, and father of all things. [5] Indeed, what kind of thing could be greater than this? Whatever you mention is a part of it, and anything that has beauty and structure is named after it: it is said to be ‘ordered’ [kekosmēsthai] after the ‘cosmos’.


Ὡς δὲ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν, τῶν στοιχείων ἐγκεκραμένων ἀλλήλοις ἐν ἀέρι τε καὶ γῇ καὶ θαλάσσῃ κατὰ τὸ εἰκὸς αἱ τῶν παθῶν [396a30] ὁμοιότητες συνίστανται, τοῖς μὲν ἐπὶ μέρους φθορὰς καὶ γενέσεις φέρουσαι, τὸ δὲ σύμπαν ἀνώλεθρόν τε καὶ ἀγένητον φυλάττουσαι. Καίτοι γέ τις ἐθαύμασε πῶς ποτε, ἐκ τῶν ἐναντίων ἀρχῶν συνεστηκὼς ὁ κόσμος, λέγω δὲ ξηρῶν τε καὶ ὑγρῶν, ψυχρῶν τε καὶ θερμῶν, οὐ πάλαι διέφθαρται καὶ [396b1] ἀπόλωλεν, ὡς κἂν εἰ πόλιν τινὲς θαυμάζοιεν, ὅπως διαμένει συνεστηκυῖα ἐκ τῶν ἐναντιωτάτων ἐθνῶν, πενήτων λέγω καὶ | πλουσίων, νέων γερόντων, ἀσθενῶν ἰσχυρῶν, πονηρῶν χρηστῶν. Ἀγνοοῦσι δὲ ὅτι τοῦτ’ ἦν πολιτικῆς ὁμονοίας τὸ θαυμασιώτατον, λέγω δὲ τὸ ἐκ πολλῶν μίαν καὶ ὁμοίαν ἐξ ἀνομοίων ἀποτελεῖν διάθεσιν ὑποδεχομένην πᾶσαν καὶ φύσιν καὶ τύχην. Ἴσως δὲ τῶν ἐναντίων ἡ φύσις γλίχεται καὶ ἐκ τούτων ἀποτελεῖ τὸ σύμφωνον, οὐκ ἐκ τῶν ὁμοίων, ὥσπερ ἀμέλει τὸ ἄρρεν συνήγαγε πρὸς τὸ θῆλυ καὶ οὐχ [396b10] ἑκάτερον πρὸς τὸ ὁμόφυλον, καὶ τὴν πρώτην ὁμόνοιαν διὰ τῶν ἐναντίων σηνῆψεν, οὐ διὰ τῶν ὁμοίων. Ἔοικε δὲ καὶ ἡ τέχνη τὴν φύσιν μιμουμένη τοῦτο ποιεῖν. Ζωγραφία μὲν γὰρ λευκῶν τε καὶ μελάνων, ὠχρῶν τε καὶ ἐρυθρῶν, χρωμάτων ἐγκερασαμένη φύσεις τὰς εἰκόνας τοῖς προηγουμένοις ἀπετέλεσε συμφώνους, μουσικὴ δὲ ὀξεῖς ἅμα καὶ βαρεῖς, μακρούς τε καὶ βραχεῖς, φθόγγους μίξασα ἐν διαφόροις φωναῖς μίαν ἀπετέλεσεν ἁρμονίαν, γραμματικὴ δὲ ἐκ φωνηέντων καὶ ἀφώνων γραμμάτων κρᾶσιν ποιησαμένη τὴν ὅλην τέχνην ἀπ’ αὐτῶν συνεστήσατο. Ταὐτὸ δὲ τοῦτο ἦν καὶ [396b20] τὸ παρὰ τῷ σκοτεινῷ λεγόμενον Ἡρακλείτῳ· «Συλλάψιες ὅλα καὶ οὐχ ὅλα, συμφερόμενον διαφερόμενον, συνᾷδον διᾷδον· ἐκ πάντων ἓν καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα.» Οὕτως οὖν καὶ τὴν τῶν ὅλων σύστασιν, οὐρανοῦ λέγω καὶ γῆς τοῦ τε σύμπαντος κόσμου, διὰ τῆς τῶν ἐναντιωτάτων κράσεως ἀρχῶν μία διεκόσμησεν ἁρμονία· ξηρὸν γὰρ ὑγρῷ, θερμὸν δὲ ψυχρῷ, βαρεῖ τε κοῦφον μιγὲν, καὶ ὀρθὸν περιφερεῖ, γῆν τε πᾶσαν καὶ θάλασσαν αἰθέρα τε καὶ ἥλιον καὶ σελήνην καὶ τὸν ὅλον οὐρανὸν διεκόσμησε μία [ἡ] διὰ πάντων διήκουσα δύναμις, ἐκ τῶν ἀμίκτων καὶ ἑτεροίων, ἀέρος [396b30] τε καὶ γῆς καὶ πυρὸς καὶ ὕδατος, τὸν σύμπαντα κόσμον δημιουργήσασα καὶ μιᾷ διαλαβοῦσα σφαίρας ἐπιφανείᾳ τάς τε ἐναντιωτάτας ἐν αὐτῷ φύσεις ἀλλήλαις ἀναγκάσασα ὁμολογῆσαι καὶ ἐκ τούτων μηχανησαμένη τῷ παντὶ σωτηρίαν. Αἰτία δὲ ταύτης μὲν ἡ τῶν στοιχείων ὁμολογία, τῆς δὲ ὁμολογίας ἡ ἰσομοιρία καὶ τὸ μηδὲν αὐτῶν πλέον [397a1] ἕτερον ἑτέρου δύνασθαι· τὴν γὰρ ἴσην ἀντίστασιν ἔχει τὰ βαρέα πρὸς τὰ κοῦφα καὶ τὰ θερμὰ πρὸς θάτερα, τῆς φύσεως ἐπὶ τῶν μειζόνων διδασκούσης ὅτι τὸ ἴσον σωστικόν πώς ἐστιν ὁμονοίας, ἡ δὲ ὁμόνοια τοῦ πάντων γενετῆρος καὶ περικαλλεστάτου κόσμου. Τίς γὰρ ἂν εἴη φύσις τοῦδε κρείττων; ἣν γὰρ ἂν εἴπῃ τις, μέρος ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ. Τό τε καλὸν πᾶν ἐπώνυμόν ἐστι τούτου καὶ τὸ τεταγμένον, ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου λεγόμενον κεκοσμῆσθαι.


Verum enimuero ut, quatenus possum, de uniuersitate quod sentio breuiter absoluam, elementorum inter se tanta concordia est, aeris, maris atque terrae, ut admirari minus deceat, si illis eadem incommoda soleant ac secunda contingere, particulatim quidem rebus ortus atque obitus adferentia, uniuersitatem uero a fine atque initio uindicantia. Sed quibusdam mirum uideri solet, quod, quum ex diuersis atque inter se pugnantibus elementis mundi natura conflata sit, aridis atque fluxis, glacialibus et ignitis, tanto rerum diuortio nondum sit eius mortalitas dissoluta. Quibus illud simile satisfaciet, cum in urbe ex diuersis et contrariis corporata rerum inaequalium multitudo concordat; sunt enim pariter dites et egentes, adolescens aetas permixta senioribus, ignaui cum fortibus, pessimi optimis congregati. Aut profecto quod res est fateantur, hanc esse ciuilis rationis admirandam temperantiam, cum quidem de pluribus una sit facta et similis sui tota, cum dissimilia membra sint [cum] receptrixque sit naturarum ad diuersa tendentium fortunarumque per uarias fines exitusque pergentium. Et, ut res est, contrariorum per se natura amplectitur et ex dissonis fit unus idemque concentus. [20.] Sic mare et femineum secus iungitur ac diuersus utriusque sexus ex dissimilibus simile animal facit; artesque ipsae, naturam imitantes, ex inparibus paria faciunt: pictura ex discordibus pigmentorum coloribus, atris atque albis, luteis et puniceis, confusione modica temperatis, imagines iis quae imitatur similes facit. Ipsa etiam musica, quae de longis et breuibus, acutis et grauioribus sonis constat, tam diuersis et dissonis uocibus, harmoniam consonam reddit; grammaticorum artes uide, quaeso, ut ex diuersis collectae sint litteris, ex quibus aliae sunt insonae, semisonantes aliae, pars sonantes: hae tamen mutuis se auxiliis adiuuantes syllabas pariunt, et de syllabis uoces. Hoc Heraclitus sententiarum suarum nebulis ad hunc modum est <elocutus>: Συλλάψιες ὅλα καὶ οὐχ ὅλα, συμφερόμενον διαφερόμενον, συνᾷδον διᾷδον· ἐκ πάντων ἓν, καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα. [21.] Sic totius mundi substantiam, initiorum inter se inparium conuentu[s], pari nec discordante consensu, natura ueluti musicam temperauit; namque uuidis arida et glacialibus flammida, uelocibus pigra, directis obliqua confu[n]dit unumque ex omnibus et ex uno omnia, iuxta Heraclitum, constituit. Terramque et mare et caelum solis orbe et lunae globo ceterisque orientium et conditorum siderum facibus ornauit, una illa potestate mixta, quam quidem cunctis constat inplicatam, dum inconfusa, dum libera elementorum substantia, ignis, aquae, aeris, terrae, ex quibus huius sphaerae conuexa et disparibus qualitatibus naturae conflata, adacta est fateri concordiam, et ex ea salutem operi machinata. Principiorum igitur consensus sibi concordiam peperit, perseuerantiam uero amicitiae inter se elementis dedit specierum ipsarum aequa partitio, et dum in nullo alia ab alia uincitur, modo uel potestate. Aequalis quippe omnium diuersitas, grauissimorum, leuissimorum, feruentium, frigidorum, docente ratione naturae, diuersis licet rebus, aequalitatem deferre <concordiam>, concordiam omni[a] parentis mundi amoenitatem aeternitatemque repperisse.

One from many

As far as I can, I will now explain briefly what I think about the cosmos as a whole. The elements of the air, the sea, and the land are in such harmonious relationship with each other that it is no surprise to find that the very same things which [variously] obstruct and prosper activity [in those domains] by being responsible for the growth and destruction of individual things at the same time ensures that the cosmos as a whole remains intact from top to bottom. Some people find it amazing that cosmic nature is produced by elements which are not only different but also inimical to each other – hard and fluid, icy and fiery – and that this diversity among them does not undo its life. Here is the simile for them: a city is formed of people who are different from each other and opposites; it is a multitude of inequalities brought together in harmony. There are rich as well as poor, young people mix with the elderly, cowards with the courageous, the worst jostling with the best. Yet it is exactly the balanced mixture of civil society that is so admirable: that from many is made one. The whole has its own integrity although the parts are dissimilar and it embraces types of people with diverse tendencies, different ends and different journeys. Nature likewise includes oppositions within itself, and from their dissonance comes a single unified harmony. 20. So it is when male and female join together: they are different from each other, but make from their dissimilarity a similar animal. And the arts themselves, imitating nature, make like things from unlike materials. From clashing pigments, black and white, yellow and red, mixed in appropriate measure, a painting produces images which are like what they represent. Music itself, which is made up of sounds that are long and short, high and low, yields harmonious consonance from these differing and dissonant sounds. Consider the arts of the grammarians, if you will: they gather together different letters, some consonant, some semi-consonant, some vowels, and by their mutual assistance produce syllables; from syllables come utterances. This is how Heraclitus put it in the misty [obscurity] of his deliverances: Συλλάψιες ὅλα καὶ οὐχ ὅλα, συμφερόμενον διαφερόμενον, συνᾷδον διᾷδον· ἐκ πάντων ἓν, καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα [‘Taken together they are whole and not whole, combined divided, consonant dissonant; from all things one and from one all things’]. 21. So the substance of the whole world is a mixture made by nature, which blends together unequal principles into a consonance which is polyphonous without being discordant, just as if it were music. It blends dry with wet, flame with ice, slow with swift, oblique with direct, and from all things it made one, and from one it made all, as Heraclitus has it. It adorned the earth and sea and heaven with the sphere of the sun and the globe of the moon, and the torches of the other stars as they rise and set. [The whole] is infused with a single power pervading everything while remaining itself pure and distinct from the substance of the elements – fire, water, air and earth – from which the [whole] sphere, confected from the different qualities of nature, was brought to manifest harmony, and engineered for preservation by means of that [harmony]. So consonance between the elements gave rise to harmony within [the cosmos], and the balanced distribution of their various qualities ensured that the mutual friendship between the elements would be permanent, since nowhere is one overwhelmed by another, either by its disposition or by its effects. There is a global balance in the differences among things: the heaviest against the lightest, the hottest against the coldest. Natural reason teaches that balance brings <harmony> even to things that are different, and harmony produces the beauty and eternity of this world which is father to all.


And how could any part match the order of the heavens and the movement of stars and sun and moon, [10] which move in the most precise measures from one age to the next? What could aspire to such predictability as is observed by the beautiful and fertile seasons of the universe, which bring sumer and winter in order, and days and nights to complete a month and a year? It is [15] superlative in size, most swift in its movement, most radiant in its splendour, unwearying and imperishable in power. It determined the different natures of sea, land and air creatures, and measured out their lives by its own movements. Thanks to it all animals breathe and have life. Thanks to it too all amazing phenomena are accomplished in due order – the winds of all kinds being dashed together, lightning falling from the sky, and extreme storms breaking. By means of these phenomena – which include the compression of moisture and the expulsion of fire – the whole is brought into agreement and fixed.


Τί δὲ τῶν ἐπὶ μέρους δύναιτ’ ἂν ἐξισωθῆναι τῇ κατ’ οὐρανὸν τάξει τε καὶ φορᾷ τῶν ἄστρων ἡλίου τε [397a10] καὶ σελήνης, κινουμένων ἐν ἀκριβεστάτοις μέτροις ἐξ αἰῶνος εἰς ἕτερον αἰῶνα; τίς δὲ γένοιτ’ ἂν ἀψεύδεια τοιάδε, ἥντινα φυλάττουσιν αἱ καλαὶ καὶ γόνιμοι τῶν ὅλων ὧραι, θέρη τε καὶ χειμῶνας ἐπάγουσαι τεταγμένως ἡμέρας τε καὶ νύκτας εἰς μηνὸς ἀποτέλεσμα καὶ ἐνιαυτοῦ; καὶ μὴν μεγέθει μὲν οὗτος πανυπέρτατος, κινήσει δὲ ὀξύτατος, λαμπρότητι δὲ εὐαυγέστατος, δυνάμει δὲ ἀγήρως τε καὶ ἄφθαρτος. Οὗτος ἐναλίων ζῴων καὶ πεζῶν καὶ ἀερίων φύσεις ἐχώρισε καὶ βίους ἐμέτρησε ταῖς ἑαυτοῦ κινήσεσιν. Ἐκ τούτου πάντα ἐμπνεῖ τε καὶ ψυχὴν ἴσχει τὰ ζῷα. Τούτου καὶ αἱ παράδοξοι [397a20] νεοχμώσεις τεταγμένως ἀποτελοῦνται, συναραττόντων μὲν ἀνέμων παντοίων, πιπτόντων δὲ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ κεραυνῶν, ῥηγνυμένων δὲ χειμώνων ἐξαισίων. Διὰ δὲ τούτων τὸ νοτερὸν ἐκπιεζόμενον τό τε πυρῶδες διαπνεόμενον εἰς ὁμόνοιαν ἄγει τὸ πᾶν καὶ καθίστησιν.


22. Quid enim mundo praestantius? Lauda, quam putas, speciem: portio a te laudabitur mundi; admirare, quam uoles, temperantiam, ordinationem, figuram: hic et per hunc illud quodcumque est inuenietur esse laudandum. Nam quid, oro te, ornatum atque ordinatum uideri potest, quod non ab ipsius exemplo imitat[ur]a sit ratio? Vnde κόσμος graece nomen accepit. Euntibus sole atque luna ceteraque luce siderea per easdem uias, custoditis temporum uicibus nec ullius erroris interiectione confusis, digeruntur tempora et rursus incipiunt pulchraeque et fecundae horae procreantur, nunc aestiuos uapores reuoluentes, nunc pruinas hiemis circum referentes; dierum etiam noctiumque curriculis ordiuntur <menses>, menses texunt annos, anni seriem conficiunt saeculorum. Et hic quidem mundus magnitudine inmensus, cursibus rapidus, splendore perlucidus, ualenti habitudine, pubertate iuuenali [causa]. Hic animalium nantium atque terrestrium, pinnigerarumque cunctarum distinxit genera, species separauit fixitque leges uiuendi atque moriendi. Ex hoc animantia uitalis spiritus ducunt. <Hinc> illi statis cursibus temporum euentus, qui admirationi solent esse, cum uel inter se uentorum proelia ciuntur, uel disiectis nubibus fulminat caelum et tempestates inter se serenae hibernaeque confligunt, micant ignes, imbres rumpuntur, et rursus, placatis omnibus, amoena laetitia mundi reseratur.

Complexity and order

22. For what is greater than the world? Praise any species you can think of: it is a part of the world you are praising; admire any mixture, arrangement, design you want: whatever it is, you will find yourself praising the world when you praise it. I ask you, what can appear ornate and well-ordered that does not imitate the world in its proportions? This is why it has the appellation kosmos in Greek. The sun, the moon and the other stars never change their course; time-periods give way to each other according to a guaranteed pattern which is never disturbed by the introduction of a single error; they are administered through, and then begin again, and the beautiful and fertile seasons are produced: now the vapours of summer come around, now the frosts of winter. The circuit of days and nights create months; the months weave themselves into years; the years forge a sequences of ages. Our world is immense in magnitude, swift in its movements, splendidly bright, in strong estate and youthful age. It has separated out different animal kinds – aquatic and terrestrial, and all those with wings. It distinguished the species and fixed laws for living and dying and gives animals their vital breath. It is responsible for those seasonal events which typically arouse wonder, when winds are whipped up in battle against each other, or the clouds are rent and there is lightning in the sky, and wintery tempests blow at each other and clear the sky, fires flash, storms break out – or again, when everything becomes calm, and lovely joy is sown again in the world.

Earth bristles with plants of all sorts, has springs bubbling up everywhere, and is covered in animals: it gives birth to everything in due season, and nourishes and cherishes them, giving rise to thousands of forms and qualities, and unwearyingly keeps nature the same. Yet it is also shaken by quakes, inundated by floods, and burned by local conflagrations. [30] But all of these things can be seen arising within it for the good, and serve its preservation over time. When the earth is shaken, the fissures give vents for the subterannean exhalations which are thereby expelled, as was said above; showers wash away everything diseased; the breezes that gust around the earth purify both what is above and below ground. [397b1] Flames soften what is frosty, and frosts cures the flames. At an individual level things are variously born, mature and die; but the births make good the deaths, and the deaths give space for the births. [5] There is a reciprocal displacement by which all things work to the preservation of the whole: by dominating and being dominated in turn, each thing keeps the whole imperishable over time.

Ἥ τε γῆ φυτοῖς κομῶσα παντοδαποῖς νάμασί τε περιβλύζουσα καὶ περιοχουμένη ζῴοις, κατὰ καιρὸν ἐκφύουσά τε πάντα καὶ τρέφουσα καὶ δεχομένη, μυρίας τε φέρουσα ἰδέας καὶ πάθη, τὴν ἀγήρω φύσιν ὁμοίως τηρεῖ, καίτοι καὶ σεισμοῖς τινασσομένη καὶ πλημυρίσιν ἐπικλυζομένη πυρκαϊαῖς τε κατὰ μέρος φλογιζομένη. [397a30] Ταῦτα δὲ πάντα ἔοικεν αὐτῇ πρὸς ἀγαθοῦ γινόμενα τὴν δι’ αἰῶνος σωτηρίαν παρέχειν· σειομένης τε γὰρ διεξᾴττουσιν αἱ τῶν πνευμάτων παρεμπτώσεις κατὰ τὰ ῥήγματα τὰς ἀναπνοὰς ἴσχουσαι, καθὼς ἄνω λέλεκται, καθαιρομένη τε ὄμβροις ἀποκλύζεται πάντα τὰ νοσώδη, περιπνεομένη δὲ αὔραις τά τε ὑπ’ αὐτὴν καὶ τὰ ὑπὲρ αὐτὴν εἰλικρινεῖται. Καὶ [397b1] μὴν αἱ φλόγες μὲν τὸ παγετῶδες ἠπιαίνουσιν, οἱ πάγοι δὲ τὰς φλόγας ἀνιᾶσιν. Καὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μέρους τὰ μὲν γίνεται, τὰ δὲ ἀκμάζει, τὰ δὲ φθείρεται. Καὶ αἱ μὲν γενέσεις ἐπαναστέλλουσι τὰς φθοράς, αἱ δὲ φθοραὶ κουφίζουσι τὰς γενέσεις. Μία δὲ ἐκ πάντων περαινομένη σωτηρία διὰ τέλους ἀντιπεριισταμένων ἀλλήλοις καὶ τοτὲ μὲν κρατούντων, τοτὲ δὲ κρατουμένων, φυλάττει τὸ σύμπαν ἄφθαρτον δι’ αἰῶνος.

23. Videas et uiridantibus comis caesariatam esse terram et scatebris fontium manantem, et aquarum agminibus concientem, parientem atque educantem, nec occasibus fatigari, nec saeculis anilitari, excussam erumpentibus semper tam pigris quam mouentibus faecibus, aquarum saepe adluuionibus mersam, flammarum per partes uoracitate consumptam. Quae tamen illi cum regionaliter uideantur esse pestifera, ad omnem salutaria sunt et ad redintegrationem eius ualent; et cum mouetur, profecto spirat illos spiritus, quibus clausis et effugia quaerentibus moueba[n]tur, imbribus etiam madefacta non solum ad educandos fetus suos opimatur, uerum etiam pestifera contagione proluitur. Flabris autem spirantium aurarum grauiores et minus puri aeris spiritus differuntur atque purgantur. Tepores frigus glaciale mitificant et brumalis austeritas terrestrium uiscerum uenas remittit. Et pars gignentium, alia adolescentium, cetera occidentium uices sustinent sorsque nascentium obitorum loco pullulat et occidentium numerus nascentibus locum pandit.

23. You can see the earth covered with locks of green hair, and dripping with bubbling springs, and pregnant with bodies of water; giving birth and nurturing, never getting tired in the evening, never aging through time. It is always being pummelled, slowly or quickly, by matter from eruptions; it often gets submerged under flowing waters; parts of it are consumed by voracious fires. But what seems damaging viewed locally works for the preservation of the whole, and helps to restore it. When it is disturbed, it immediately exhales those gases which were trapped [within] and were disturbing it [themselves] while seeking to escape; drenched by storms, the earth is not only fattened for the offspring it nurtures, but is also washed clean of disease-bearing contagion; breezes blow and heavier and less pure currents of air are separated off and purged by their blasts; warm [currents of air] soften the glacial cold; and the hardness of autumn helps loosen the bowels of the earth. Some things are being born, others achieving maturity, the rest are dying, all in their turn; and the lot of the new-born comes to fruition in place of the dead, and the number of those dying opens room for those that are born.


It remains to speak in summary terms about the cause that makes the universe cohere [10], as in other cases: it would be a mistake to leave out the most important part of the cosmos, even in an account of the cosmos that does not go into detail but aims to teach in outline.


Λοιπὸν δὴ περὶ τῆς τῶν ὅλων συνεκτικῆς αἰτίας κεφαλαιωδῶς [397b10] εἰπεῖν, ὃν τρόπον καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων· πλημμελὲς γὰρ περὶ κόσμου λέγοντας, εἰ καὶ μὴ δι’ ἀκριβείας, ἀλλ’ οὖν γε ὡς εἰς τυπώδη μάθησιν, τὸ τοῦ κόσμου κυριώτατον παραλιπεῖν.


24. Restat, quod caput est sermonis huius, ut super mundi rectore uerba faciamus. Indigens quippe orationis huius uidebatur ratio, nisi de mundo disputantes, etsi minus curiose, at quoquo modo possemus * * * diceremus. De rectore quippe omnium non, ut ait ille, silere melius est, sed uel parum dicere.


24. The most important point of this lecture still remains, which is to say something about the ruler of the cosmos. The thought behind the speech will seem wanting unless, in discussing the cosmos, we say whatever we can <about him>, even if we cannot investigate him so closely. When it comes to the ruler of all, indeed, it is not, as the man says, ‘better to be silent, or to say little’.

There is an ancient account common to the ancestors of all men that everything comes from god and is constituted through god, [15] and nothing of any kind is self-sufficient without him to preserve it. For this reason, some of the ancients have suggested that all these things, which are apparent to our eyes and hearing and every other sense, are ‘full of gods’. This is a rejection of the explanation which gives proper regard to god’s power, [20] even if it acknowledges his substance. For god truly is the preserver and progenitor of everything at all that happens in this cosmos – but not because he undertakes the burden of a hard labourer’s life: rather, he employs an unwearying power by which he controls things which seem far off.

Ἀρχαῖος μὲν οὖν τις λόγος καὶ πάτριός ἐστι πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ὡς ἐκ θεοῦ πάντα καὶ διὰ θεὸν συνέστηκεν, οὐδεμία δὲ φύσις αὐτὴ καθ’ ἑαυτήν ἐστιν αὐτάρκης, ἐρημωθεῖσα τῆς ἐκ τούτου σωτηρίας. Διὸ καὶ τῶν παλαιῶν εἰπεῖν τινες προήχθησαν ὅτι πάντα ταῦτά ἐστι θεῶν πλέα τὰ καὶ δι’ ὀφθαλμῶν ἰνδαλλόμενα ἡμῖν καὶ δι’ ἀκοῆς καὶ πάσης αἰσθήσεως, τῇ μὲν θείᾳ δυνάμει πρέποντα καταβαλλόμενοι [397b20] λόγον, οὐ μὴν τῇ γε οὐσίᾳ. Σωτὴρ μὲν γὰρ ὄντως ἁπάντων ἐστὶ καὶ γενέτωρ τῶν ὁπωσδήποτε κατὰ τόνδε τὸν κόσμον συντελουμένων ὁ θεός, οὐ μὴν αὐτουργοῦ καὶ ἐπιπόνου ζῴου κάματον ὑπομένων, ἀλλὰ δυνάμει χρώμενος ἀτρύτῳ, δι’ ἧς καὶ τῶν πόρρω δοκούντων εἶναι περιγίνεται.

Vetus opinio est atque cogitationes omnium hominum penitus insedit, deum [esse] originis haberi auctorem deumque ipsum salutem esse et perseuerantiam earum, quas effecerit, rerum. Neque ulla res est tam praestantibus uiribus, quae <eius> uiduata auxilio sui natura contenta sit. Hanc opinionem uates secuti profiteri ausi sunt, omnia Ioue plena esse, cuius praesentiam non iam cogitatio sola, sed oculi et aures et sensibilis substantia conprehendit. At haec conposita est pot<estati, non autem mai>estati dei conueniens oratio. Sospitator quidem ille <et> genitor est omnium, qui ad conplendum mundum nati factique sunt; non tamen ut corporei laboris officio orbem istum manibus suis instruxerit, sed qui quadam infatigabili prouidentia et procul posita cuncta contingit, et maximis interuallis disiuncta conplectitur.

The ancient view, which is embedded in the thoughts of all men, holds that god is the author of its origin and that god is himself the preservation and continuation of those things which he made. There is nothing so superlatively powerful that its own nature is enough for it, in the absence of his assistance. Following this view, poets have been inspired to the daring claim that everything is full of Jupiter, and that his presence can be grasped not only by thought but by eyes and ears and sensible substance. But the present speech has been composed with due regard to god’s power. For he is the preserver and progenitor of everything which has been born or made for the sake of completing the cosmos as a whole. He did not, however, construct this sphere with his hands as if employed as a manual labourer, but he joined together everything in is place by his unwearying providence while he remained aloof; from a vast distance he wove its separate parts together.

[25] He occupies the highest and first place, and is called the Most High because of this; he is enthroned, in the words of the poet, at the ‘crown and summit’ of the whole heaven. The body closest to him benefits most from his power, and then the one next to that, and so on until the regions where we are. [30] This is probably why the earth and the things on earth, which are at the furthest remove from god’s aid, are weak and poorly constructed and full of confusion. Nevertheless, the divine is such as to extend to everything, as far as possible, and reaches the things around us in the same way that it reaches the things above us: but each participates more or less in his aid according as they are nearer or further from god. [398a1] So the better way to conceive things, the way that is fitting and most appropriate for god, is (to sum up) that his power is located in the heavens, benefits what is closest most, and is the cause of preservation for everything – all the more because it does not pervade everything and proceed everywhere and manufacture those things on earth that are neither beautiful nor well formed. It is not even appropriate for human leaders – I mean, for example, the ruler of an army or the head of a household – to take care of every task whatsoever, e.g. bagging up the bedclothes, or doing some even lowlier job which any slave could do. It is as it is related of the Great King. Cambyses, Xerxes and Darius were screened off from the world in a way appropriate for their solemnity and supreme elevation. The Great King, as we are told, had his seat in Susa or Ecbatana, where he was not seen by anyone. He had an amazing royal palace, enclosed by a wall which coruscated with gold, electrum and ivory. There was a long series of gateways and many porches, stades from each other, fortified by bronze doors and huge walls. Outside these walls were arrayed the men of the first rank and honour, [20] some of them armed guards and attendants of the king himself, others guards of the various walls, known as gate-keepers and listeners, who enabled the king himself, named lord and god, to see everything and hear everything. In addition to these, other men were appointed as treasurers and army generals and hunt-masters and receivers of gifts – and others given care of the other tasks that needed to be done. And the whole empire of Asia, bounded by the Hellespont to the west, and by India to the east, was divided according to tribe among generals and satraps and kings, all slaves of the Great King; and there were scouts and lookouts and message-carriers and people to take care of the beacons. And things were so arranged, especially in the matter of the beacons, which could be lit in succession from the edges of the empire to Susa and Ecbatana, that the king could know all the news in Asia on the very day it happened.

Τὴν μὲν οὖν ἀνωτάτω καὶ πρώτην ἕδραν αὐτὸς ἔλαχεν, ὕπατός τε διὰ τοῦτο ὠνόμασται, κατὰ τὸν ποιητὴν «ἀκροτάτῃ κορυφῇ» τοῦ σύμπαντος ἐγκαθιδρυμένος οὐρανοῦ· μάλιστα δέ πως αὐτοῦ τῆς δυνάμεως ἀπολαύει τὸ πλησίον αὐτοῦ σῶμα, καὶ ἔπειτα τὸ μετ’ ἐκεῖνο, καὶ ἐφεξῆς οὕτως ἄχρι τῶν καθ’ ἡμᾶς [397b30] τόπων. Διὸ γῆ τε καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς ἔοικεν, ἐν ἀποστάσει πλείστῃ τῆς ἐκ θεοῦ ὄντα ὠφελείας, ἀσθενῆ καὶ ἀκατάλληλα εἶναι καὶ πολλῆς μεστὰ ταραχῆς· οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καθ’ ὅσον ἐπὶ πᾶν διικνεῖσθαι πέφυκε τὸ θεῖον, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ καθ’ ἡμᾶς ὁμοίως συμβαίνει τά τε ὑπὲρ ἡμᾶς, κατὰ τὸ ἔγγιόν τε καὶ πορρωτέρω θεοῦ εἶναι μᾶλλόν τε καὶ ἧττον [398a1] ὠφελείας μεταλαμβάνοντα. Κρεῖττον οὖν ὑπολαβεῖν, ὃ καὶ πρέπον ἐστὶ καὶ θεῷ μάλιστα ἁρμόζον, ὡς ἡ ἐν οὐρανῷ δύναμις ἱδρυμένη καὶ τοῖς πλεῖστον ἀφεστηκόσιν, ὡς ἔνι γε εἰπεῖν, καὶ σύμπασιν αἴτιος γίνεται σωτηρίας, μᾶλλον ἢ ὡς διήκουσα καὶ φοιτῶσα ἔνθα μὴ καλὸν μηδὲ εὔσχημον αὐτουργεῖ[ν] τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς. Τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ οὐδὲ ἀνθρώπων ἡγεμόσιν ἁρμόττει, παντὶ καὶ τῷ τυχόντι ἐφίστασθαι ἔργῳ, λέγω δὲ οἷον στρατιᾶς ἄρχοντι ἢ πόλεως ἢ οἴκου, [καὶ] εἰ χρεὼν στρωματόδεσμον εἴη δῆσαι καὶ εἴ τι φαυλότερον ἀποτελεῖν ἔργον, [398a10] ὃ κἂν τὸ τυχὸν ἀνδράποδον ποιήσειεν, ἀλλ’ οἷον ἐπὶ τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως ἱστορεῖται. Τὸ <γὰρ> Καμβύσου Ξέρξου τε καὶ Δαρείου πρόσχημα εἰς σεμνότητος καὶ ὑπεροχῆς ὕψος μεγαλοπρεπῶς διεκεκόσμητο· αὐτὸς μὲν γάρ, ὡς λόγος, ἵδρυτο ἐν Σούσοις ἢ Ἐκβατάνοις, παντὶ ἀόρατος, θαυμαστὸν ἐπέχων βασίλειον οἶκον καὶ περίβολον χρυσῷ καὶ ἠλέκτρῳ καὶ ἐλέφαντι ἀστράπτοντα· πυλῶνες δὲ πολλοὶ καὶ συνεχεῖς πρόθυρά τε σύχνοις εἰργόμενα σταδίοις ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων θύραις τε χαλκαῖς καὶ τείχεσι μεγάλοις ὠχύρωτο· ἔξω δὲ τούτων ἄνδρες οἱ πρῶτοι καὶ δοκιμώτατοι διεκεκόσμηντο, [398a20] οἱ μὲν ἀμφ’ αὐτὸν τὸν βασιλέα δορυφόροι τε καὶ θεράποντες, οἱ δὲ ἑκάστου περιβόλου φύλακες, πυλωροί τε καὶ ὠτακουσταὶ λεγόμενοι, ὡς ἂν ὁ βασιλεὺς αὐτός, δεσπότης καὶ θεὸς ὀνομαζόμενος, πάντα μὲν βλέποι, πάντα δὲ ἀκούοι. Χωρὶς δὲ τούτων ἄλλοι καθειστήκεσαν προσόδων ταμίαι καὶ στρατηγοὶ πολέμων καὶ κυνηγεσίων δώρων τε ἀποδεκτῆρες τῶν τε λοιπῶν ἔργων ἕκαστοι κατὰ τὰς χρείας ἐπιμεληταί. Τὴν δὲ σύμπασαν ἀρχὴν τῆς Ἀσίας, περατουμένην Ἑλλησπόντῳ μὲν ἐκ τῶν πρὸς ἑσπέραν μερῶν, Ἰνδῷ δὲ ἐκ τῶν πρὸς ἕω, διειλήφεσαν κατὰ ἔθνη στρατηγοὶ καὶ σατράπαι καὶ [398a30] βασιλεῖς, δοῦλοι τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως, ἡμεροδρόμοι τε καὶ σκοποὶ καὶ ἀγγελιαφόροι φρυκτωριῶν τε ἐποπτῆρες. Τοσοῦτος δὲ ἦν ὁ κόσμος, καὶ μάλιστα τῶν φρυκτωρ[ι]ῶν, κατὰ διαδοχὰς πυρσευόντων ἀλλήλοις ἐκ περάτων τῆς ἀρχῆς μέχρι Σούσων καὶ Ἐκβατάνων, ὥστε τὸν βασιλέα γινώσκειν αὐθημερὸν πάντα τὰ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ καινουργούμενα.

25. Nec ambigitur eum praestantem ac sublimem sedem tenere et poetarum laudibus nomen eius consulum ac regum nuncupationibus praedicari et in arduis arcibus habere solium consecratum. Denique propiores quosque de potestate eius amplius trahere: corpora illa caelestia, quanto finitima sunt ei, tanto amplius de deo capere; multo minus, quae ab illis sunt secunda, et ad haec usque terrena pro interuallorum modo indulgentiarum dei ad nos usque beneficia peruenire. Sed cum credamus deum per omnia permeare et ad nos et [ad] ultra potestatem sui numinis tendere, quantum abest uel inminet, tantum existimandum est eum amplius minusue rebus utilitatis dare. Qua[m] re[m] rectius est atque honestius sic arbitrari: summam illam potestatem, sacratam caeli penetralibus, et illis qui longissime separentur, et proximis, una et eadem ratione et per se et per alios opem salutis adferre, nec penetrantem atque adeuntem specialiter singula nec indecore adtrectantem comminus cuncta. Talis quippe humilitas deiecti et minus sublimis officii, ne cum homine quidem conuenit, qui sit uel paululum conscientiae celsioris. Militiae principes et curiae proceres et urbium ac domorum rectores dico numquam commissuros esse, ut id suis manibus factum uelint, quod sit curae leuioris fuscioris quodque possint nihilo sequius facere dominorum imperia, ministeria seruulorum. Exemplo quale sit istud intellege. [26.] Cambyses et Xerxes, et Darius potentissimi reges fuerunt; horum praepotentiam, quam ex opibus collegerant, lenocinium uitae effecerat celsiorem, cum eorum alter, apud Susam et Ecbatanas ut in fano quodam sacratus, nulli temere notitiam oris sui panderet, sed <esset> circumsaeptus admirabili regia, cuius tecta fulgerent eboris niue, argenti luce, flammis ex auro uel electri claritate. Limina uero alia prae aliis erant; interiores fores exteriores ianuae muniebant portaeque ferratae et muri adamantina firmitate. Ante fores uiri fortes stipatoresque regalium laterum tutela peruigili custodiam per uices sortium sustinebant. Erant inter eos et diuisa officia; in comitatu regio armigeri quidam, at extrinsecus singuli custodes locorum erant et ianitores et atrienses. Sed inter eos aures regiae et imperatoris oculi quidam homines uocabantur. Per quae officiorum genera rex ille deus esse ab omnibus credebatur, cum omnia quae ubique gererentur [quae] ille otacustarum relatione discebat. Dispensatores pecuniae, quaestores uectigalium, tribunos aerarios habebat; alios et alios praefecerat ceteris muneribus: alii uenatibus agendis prouinciam nacti, pars domibus et urbibus praefecti putabantur et ceteri, perpetuis magnisque curis, obseruationi singularum rerum adpositi erant. Sed omne Asiaticum regnum ab occidente Hellespontus terminabat, ab ortu gens inchoabat Indorum; duces ac satrapae ubique dispositi et permixta locis omnibus mancipia regalia. Ex eo numero erant excursores diurni atque nocturni, exploratores ac nuntii et specula[to]rum incensores adsidui; tum horum per uices incensae faces, ex omnibus regni sublimibus locis, in uno die imperatori significabant quod erat scitu opus.

25. There is no doubt that he holds the preeminent position and highest place. His name, and the fact that his throne is consecrated in the lofty heights, is invoked in the praises of poets and in the proclamations of consuls and kings. Things draw from his power according to their distance from him: the celestial bodies which border on him get so much the more from god; much less those that are second out from them. Benefits reach down as far as us here on earth, but in proportion to our distance from his ministration. We believe that god permeates everything, even down to us; but the power of his divinity confers more or less benefit on things as he is closer or further from them. The better and fairer way to think of it is this: the supreme power, consecrated in the inner sanctuaries of the heavens, carries on the work of preservation both for those who are farthest separated from him, and for those that are closest, with one and the same power; he does this himself, but also by means of others; he does not touch or approach each individual thing, and he does not do everything by hand, which would be unseemly. To debase himself to such humble work is all the less worthy of his sublime office, as it is not even suitable for any human with the slightest sense of dignity. Military officers and curia chiefs and rulers over cities and homes are, I say, never expected to do basic tasks with their own hands, or the things that slaves can do no less readily at the command of their masters. Let me give an example of how this can be. 26. Cambyses, Xerxes and Darius were very powerful kings. Their supreme power was underpinned by their wealth, and they were able to use it to fashion a higher form of living. Whether at Susa or Ecbatana, they were like holy statues enclosed in a shrine, which do not speak to just anyone: enclosed in wondrous palaces, whose rooves shone snow-white with ivory, and which coruscated with silver, and were ablaze with gold and electrum. There were thresholds upon thresholds, as they were protected by inner doors and outer doors – then iron gates, and walls of adamantine strength. In front of the doors stood sturdy men and royal body-guards, who took it in turns (chosen by lot) to ensure a permanent vigil. There were men with different duties: there were armed guards in the royal company, and, outside, guards for particular places, door-keepers, hall-attendants. Some of them were known as the ‘royal ears’ and the ‘eyes of the emperor’: it was thanks to these classes of official that everyone came to believe that the king was a god, because everything which was done anywhere he found out about through the reports of his spies. He had people to dispense money, tax collectors, financial officers; other people, and others again, he gave different duties. Some looked after the hunts, some were prefects of houses and cities, and others took constant and painstaking care to oversee other particular things. The Hellespont bounded the Asian kingdom to the west; the people of India were its neighbours to the east. There were governors and satraps and royal slaves stationed everywhere. Among them were scouts, who operated day and night, explorers and heralds and people constantly on hand to light the beacons. These formed a series of torches set on all the high places of the kingdom, and signalled to the emperor in the space of a single day what he needed to know.

[398b1] You should consider that the Great King, when compared the god who maintains the cosmos, is no more exalted than the basest and weakest animal, so, if it would be impious to think of Xerxes doing everything for himself, and carrying out his own wishes and taking care of achieving his own aims every time, it would be all the more unfitting to think this of god. It is more pious and fitting for him to be seated at the highest place, while his power pervades the whole cosmos and moves the sun and moon and drives the whole heaven around and is the cause of the preservation of things on earth. [10] He is not even in need of the skills and services of others, in the way that rulers among us need a great deal of help because of their own weakness. This in fact is the most divine thing, to achieve a diversity of sructures through one easy and simple movement – just as, perhaps, inventors do with machines in which a single trigger results in different operations. Or, similarly, puppeteers, who pull on one string and make not only the animal’s neck move, but its shoulder and eye, and sometimes all of its limbs, with a certain grace. So likewise [20] a simple initial movement from the divine transmits power from the first thing to those things that are next to it, and from those again all the way to the most distant, until [the power] extends right the way through everything. One thing is moved by another, and it in turn moves something else along with the cosmos. And everything acts in a way approprate to its own arrangement, [25] and there is no single path for all, but they follow different, heterogenous, and even sometimes contrary, paths – although there was a single first impulse. It is as if one should throw a sphere, a cube, a cone and a cylinder from from a jar at the same time: each of them will be set in motion according to its own shape. [30] Or again, it is as if someone should release aquatic, terretstrial and winged animals from his lap where he had been holding them: obviously, the swimmer would leap into its own habitat and swim away, the terrestrial animal will creep off according to its own character and customs, and the creature of the air will ascend heavenward from the earth on its wings: [35] but a single cause gave each its own opportunity. So it is in the case of the cosmos too. [399a1] A single revolution of the whole heaven defined a day and a night; all the other various orbits, although enclosed by the one sphere, then come about, some faster, some more leisurely, all according to the distance between them and their individual constitutions. The moon completes its cycle, waxing and waning and wasting away, in a month; the sun, accompanied on its course by Phosphorus, also known as Hermes, takes a year; Pyroeis takes twice as long, Zeus six times that, and finally the [star] known as that of Kronos taken two-and-a-half times as long as the sphere underneath it. They all sing and dance together in harmony, according to unifying arrangement of the cosmos which produced a single thing – ‘order’ [kosmos] being the name true to the whole, rather than disorder. [15] And just as in a chorus the chorus-master starts off and the whole chorus responds – men and sometimes women too – making one meoldious harmony from a mixture of different voices, higher and lower, so too in the case of god conducting the universe. The key-note and lead is given by the well-named leader; the stars and the whole heaven move unceasingly; the all-illuminating sun follows its double path, rising and setting to define day and night, but at the same time advancing south or recding north to mark out the four seasons of the year. Storms and winds arise in due season, [25] as does dew and everything else that happens in our environment thanks to the first and originating cause. These in turn lead rivers to flow, seas to swell, trees to burst forth, fruits to ripen, animals to give birth, and their offspring to be reared, to mature, and to die, each according to its constitution, as I said.

[398b1] Νομιστέον δὴ τὴν τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως ὑπεροχὴν πρὸς τὴν τοῦ τὸν κόσμον ἐπέχοντος θεοῦ τοσοῦτον καταδεεστέραν ὅσον τῆς ἐκείνου τὴν τοῦ φαυλοτάτου τε καὶ ἀσθενεστάτου ζῴου, ὥστε, εἴπερ ἄσεμνον ἦν αὐτὸν αὑτῷ δοκεῖν Ξέρξην αὐτουργεῖν ἅπαντα καὶ ἐπιτελεῖν ἃ βούλοιτο καὶ ἐφιστάμενον <ἑκασταχοῦ> διοικεῖν, | πολὺ μᾶλλον ἀπρεπὲς ἂν εἴη θεῷ. Σεμνότερον δὲ καὶ πρε|πωδέστερον αὐτὸν μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀνωτάτω χώρας ἱδρῦσθαι, τὴν | δὲ δύναμιν διὰ τοῦ σύμπαντος κόσμου διήκουσαν ἥλιόν τε | κινεῖν καὶ σελήνην καὶ τὸν πάντα οὐρανὸν περιάγειν αἴτιόν τε [398b10] γίνεσθαι τοῖς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς σωτηρίας. Οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐπιτεχνήσεως δεῖ καὶ ὑπηρεσίας τῆς παρ’ ἑτέρων, ὥσπερ τοῖς παρ’ ἡμῖν ἄρχουσι τῆς πολυχειρίας διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν, ἀλλὰ τοῦτο ἦν τὸ θειότατον, τὸ μετὰ ῥᾳστώνης καὶ ἁπλῆς κινήσεως παντοδαπὰς ἀποτελεῖν ἰδέας, ὥσπερ ἀμέλει δρῶσιν οἱ μη χανοτέχναι, διὰ μιᾶς ὀργάνου σχαστηρίας πολλὰς καὶ ποικίλας ἐνεργείας ἀποτελοῦντες. Ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ οἱ νευροσπάσται μίαν μήρινθον ἐπισπασάμενοι ποιοῦσι καὶ αὐχένα κινεῖσθαι καὶ χεῖρα τοῦ ζῴου καὶ ὦμον καὶ ὀφθαλμόν, ἔστι δὲ ὅτε πάντα τὰ μέρη, μετά τινος εὐρυθμίας. Οὕτως οὖν καὶ [398b20] ἡ θεία φύσις ἀπό τινος ἁπλῆς κινήσεως τοῦ πρώτου τὴν δύναμιν εἰς τὰ συνεχῆ δίδωσι καὶ ἀπ’ ἐκείνων πάλιν εἰς τὰ πορρωτέρω, μέχρις ἂν διὰ τοῦ παντὸς διεξέλθῃ· κινηθὲν γὰρ ἕτερον ὑφ’ ἑτέρου καὶ αὐτὸ πάλιν ἐκίνησεν ἄλλο σὺν κόσμῳ, δρώντων μὲν πάντων οἰκείως ταῖς σφετέραις κατασκευαῖς, οὐ τῆς αὐτῆς δὲ ὁδοῦ πᾶσιν οὔσης, ἀλλὰ διαφόρου καὶ ἑτεροίας, ἔστι δὲ οἷς καὶ ἐναντίας, καίτοι τῆς πρώτης οἷον ἐνδόσεως εἰς κίνησιν μιᾶς γενομένης· ὥσπερ ἂν εἴ τις ἐξ ἄγγους ὁμοῦ ῥίψειε σφαῖραν καὶ κύβον καὶ κῶνον καὶ κύλινδρον – ἕκαστον γὰρ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸ ἴδιον κινηθήσεται σχῆμα – [398b30] ἢ εἴ τις ὁμοῦ ζῷον ἔνυδρόν τε καὶ χερσαῖον καὶ πτηνὸν ἐν τοῖς κόλποις ἔχων ἐκβάλοι· δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι τὸ μὲν νηκτὸν ἁλόμενον εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δίαιταν ἐκνήξεται, τὸ δὲ χερσαῖον εἰς τὰ σφέτερα ἤθη καὶ νομοὺς διεξερπύσει, τὸ δὲ ἀέριον ἐξαρθὲν ἐκ γῆς μετάρσιον οἰχήσεται πετόμενον, μιᾶς τῆς πρώτης αἰτίας πᾶσιν ἀποδούσης τὴν οἰκείαν εὐμάρειαν. Οὕ[399a1] τως καὶ ἐπὶ κόσμου· διὰ γὰρ ἁπλῆς τοῦ σύμπαντος | οὐρανοῦ περιαγωγῆς ἡμέρᾳ καὶ νυκτὶ περατουμένης ἀλλοῖαι πάντων διέξοδοι γίνονται, καίτοι ὑπὸ μιᾶς σφαίρας περιεχομένων, τῶν μὲν θᾶττον, τῶν δὲ σχολαιότερον κινουμένων παρά τε τὰ τῶν διαστημάτων μήκη καὶ τὰς ἰδίας ἑκάστων κατασκευάς. Σελήνη μὲν γὰρ ἐν μηνὶ τὸν ἑαυτῆς διαπεραίνεται κύκλον αὐξομένη τε καὶ μειουμένη καὶ φθίνουσα, ἥλιος δὲ ἐν ἐνιαυτῷ καὶ οἱ τούτου ἰσόδρομοι, ὅ τε Φωσφόρος καὶ ὁ Ἑρμοῦ λεγόμενος, ὁ δὲ Πυρόεις ἐν διπλασίονι τούτων [399a10] χρόνῳ, ὁ δὲ Διὸς ἐν ἑξαπλασίονι τούτου, καὶ τελευταῖος ὁ Κρόνου λεγόμενος ἐν διπλασίονι καὶ ἡμίσει τοῦ ὑποκάτω. Μία δὲ ἐκ πάντων ἁρμονία συνᾳδόντων καὶ χορευόντων κατὰ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐξ ἑνός τε γίνεται καὶ εἰς ἓν ἀπολήγει, κόσμον ἐτύμως τὸ σύμπαν ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀκοσμίαν ὀνομάσασα. Καθάπερ δὲ ἐν χορῷ κορυφαίου κατάρξαντος συνεπηχεῖ πᾶς ὁ χορὸς ἀνδρῶν, ἔσθ’ ὅτε καὶ γυναικῶν, ἐν διαφόροις φωναῖς ὀξυτέραις καὶ βαρυτέραις μίαν ἁρμονίαν ἐμμελῆ κεραννύντων, οὕτως ἔχει καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ τὸ σύμπαν διέποντος θεοῦ· κατὰ γὰρ τὸ ἄνωθεν ἐνδόσιμον ὑπὸ τοῦ φερωνύμως ἂν κορυφαίου προσαγορευθέντος [399a20] κινεῖται μὲν τὰ ἄστρα ἀεὶ καὶ ὁ σύμπας οὐρανός, πορεύεται δὲ διττὰς πορείας ὁ παμφαὴς ἥλιος, τῇ μὲν ἡμέραν καὶ νύκτα διορίζων ἀνατολῇ καὶ δύσει, τῇ δὲ τὰς τέσσαρας ὥρας ἄγων τοῦ ἔτους, πρόσω τε βόρειος καὶ ὀπίσω νότιος διεξέρπων. Γίνονται δὲ ὑετοὶ κατὰ καιρὸν καὶ ἄνεμοι καὶ δρόσοι τά τε πάθη τὰ ἐν τῷ περιέχοντι συμβαίνοντα διὰ τὴν πρώτην καὶ ἀρχέγονον αἰτίαν. Ἕπονται δὲ τούτοις ποταμῶν ἐκροαί, θαλάσσης ἀνοιδήσεις, δένδρων ἐκφύσεις, καρπῶν πεπάνσεις, γοναὶ ζῴων, ἐκτροφαί τε πάντων καὶ ἀκμαὶ καὶ φθίσεις, συμβαλλομένης πρὸς ταῦτα καὶ τῆς [399a30] ἑκάστου κατασκευῆς, ὡς ἔφην.

27. Igitur regnum illud ita conponi oportet cum mundi aula, ut inter se conparantur summus atque exsuperantissimus diuum et homo ignauus et pessimus. Quod si cui uiro uel cuilibet regi indecorum est per semetipsum procurare omnia quae perficere <uult>, multo magis de[e]o inconueniens erit. Quare sic putandum est eum maxime <dignitatem> maiestatemque retinere, si ipse in solio residat altissimo, eas autem potestates per omnes partes mundi orbisque dispendat, quae sint penes solem ac lunam cunctumque caelum; horum enim cura salutem terrenorum omnium gubernari. Nec multis opus est nec partitis hominum conseruitiis, quibus propter ignauiam adpositum est pluribus indigere. An non eiusmodi conpendio machinatores fabricarum astutia unius conuersionis multa et uaria pariter administrant? En! etiam illi, qui in ligneolis hominum figuris gestus mouent, quando filum membri, quod agitari uolent, traxerint, torquebitur ceruix, nutabit caput, oculi uibrabunt, manus ad[que] ministerium praesto erunt nec inuenuste totus uidebitur uiuere. Haud secus etiam caelestis potestas, cum initium sciente et salutifera opera mouerit, ab imo ad secundum et deinceps ad proximum et usque ad supremum adtactu continuo uim suae maiestatis insinuat, aliud alio commouetur motusque unius alteri mouendi se originem tradit. Mundo equidem consentiunt, non una, sed diuersa uia et plerumque contraria. [28.] Sed prima remissione ad motum data simplicique inchoato principio, inpulsibus mutuis, ut supra dictum est, mouentur quidem omnia, sed ita ut, si quis sphaeram et quadratum et cylindrum et alias figuras per procliue simul iaciat, deferentur quidem omnia, sed non eodem genere mouebuntur. Nec illud dissimile exemplum uideri oportet, si quis pariter patefacto gremio animalis simul abire patiatur, uolucrum, natatilium atque terrestrium; enimuero ad suum locum quaeque, duce natura, properabunt: pars aquam repetent, illa inter cicures atque agrestes legibus et institutis suis adgregabuntur, ibunt per aeris uias praepetes, quibus hoc natura largita est; atquin una ab humano sinu abeundi facultas concessa omnibus fuerat. [29.] Sic natura mundi est constituta. Nam cum omne caelum simplici circumactu uoluatur nocte diuque distinctum, diuersis mensurarum aequalitatibus separatum, quamuis una omnia sphaera concluserit, incrementis tamen globi sui, decisione luminis menstrua tempora luna significat et caeli spatium sol annua reuersione conlustrat eiusque comites amoenus Lucifer et com[mun]is Cyllenius. Stella etenim Pyrois, Mauortium sidus, circuli sui biennio conficit spatia; Iouis clarum fulgensque sexies eadem multiplicat cursibus suis tempora, quae Saturnus sublimior XXX spatiis annorum circumerrat. Verum inter haec una mundi conuersio unusque reuersionis est orbis et unus concentus atque unus stellarum chorus ex diuersis occasibus ortibusque. Hoc ornamentum et uelut monile κόσμος rectissime Graeca lingua significat. At enim ut in choris, cum dux [carmini] hymno praecinit, concinentium uulgus uirorum et feminarum, mixtis grauibus et acutis clamoribus, unam harmoniam resonant, sic diuina mens mundanas uarietates ad instar unius concentionis releuat. Nam cum caelum confixum uaporatis et radiantibus stellis inerranti cursu feratur et reciprocis itineribus astra consurgant, sol quidem omnituens ortu suo diem pandit, occasu noctem reducit conditusque uel relatus per plagas mundi IV temporum uices mutat. Hinc tempestiui [ven et spiritus haud infecundi, hinc alimenta roris et cetera[rum], quae accidere deus his mundi mediis partibus uoluit. His adpositi sunt torrentium cursus et tumores undarum emicationesque siluarum, frugalis maturitas, fetus animalium, educationes etiam atque obitus singulorum.

27. That kingdom should be compared with the halls of heaven as the supreme and most exalted of gods stands in comparison with an ignorant and worthless man. And if it is indecorous for a man, or for any king, to take care of everything by himself, so much more will it be unsuitable for god. God should be reckoned to retain his <dignity> and majesty by residing in an elevated place, while dispersing his powers through all the parts of the cosmos and the sphere which is enclosed by the sun and moon and the heaven as a whole which take care of the preservation of all lands. He does not need to do much to preserve mankind, although their low estate means that they have many needs. Can inventors not make things which cleverly accomplish a great variety of ends by the turn of single wheel? Look! Even people who work with wooden puppets, when they pull the string of the limb which they want to move, the neck turns, the head nods, the eyes swivel, the hands will be ready to help, and the whole has the appearance of graceful life. Just so, the celestial power, when it uses its knowledge to set in train preservative works, communicates the power of his majesty from his outer limit to the second sphere, and thence to the next – and all the way to the end, with each moving the next through an unbroken series: one is moved, and its movement is passed on as the origin of the movement of another. Their harmony with the cosmos as a whole comes about not through some single event, but through the diverse, and even contrary, movements of many things. 28. After the first impulse, the simple and incomplete first principle of movement, the series of impulses described above follows so that everything moves – but in the way that a sphere and cube and cylinder and other figures, if someone were to throw them all downhill, would all alike be set in motion, but they would not all move in the same way. Here is another, similar example: if someone were to release a number of animals from their lap at the same time, birds, fish and land-animals: well, all of them would follow their nature and hurry off to their own places. Some would seek out water; those with something of the tame as well as the wild in them would gather together under their own laws and customs; those to which nature gave the power would trace swift paths through the air. Yet each had the same power of release from the human lap. 29. The nature of the cosmos is like this. The heaven as a whole revolves in a simple, circular motion, but it is divided into night and day, and distinguished by various regular measures. Within a single sphere that encloses everything, the moon reduces its light by increments of its globe and signifies measurements of time; the sun illuminates the space of the heaven by a course which it completes in a year, along with its companions, the lovely Lucifer and his friend Cyllenius. And Pyrois, the star of Mars, completes its circuit in two years; that of Jupiter, bright and coruscating, takes six times as long for its circuit, and Saturn, still higher up, takes a course of 30 years’ length. But from them all comes the one cosmic cycle, one complete turn of the sphere; a single harmony and a single chorus of stars is made from the diversity of their rising and setting. The jewellery-like beauty of this the Greek language quite rightly refers to as cosmos. Just as in a chorus, when the leader announces the hymn, the fellowship of male and female singers, of high- and low-pitched voices, blends and gives out a single harmony: so the divine mind effaces the variety of the terrestrial realm by creating the appearance of a single harmony. The fixed heaven follows the unwavering course taken by the vaporous and radiant stars, and those stars rise together with complementary paths. The sun oversees everything: it reveals the day when it rises, and brings back night when it sets; and it changes the four seasons as it is removed or brought nearer [to the earth] through cosmic forces. This is the cause of winter tempests and exhalations – which are not infertile – and the nourishing dew, and all other things which god wishes for these central parts of the cosmos. On the other hand, there are torrential floods and swollen waves, the growth of forests, the ripening of fruits, animals becoming pregnant – each thing nurtured, and each thing dying.

So when the leader and father of all things, invisible to everything except reason, gives the signal to the realm between heaven and earth, everything moves continuously in circles and within its own boundaries. Sometimes we cannot see them, but sometimes we can: they appear and are occluded in many different ways from their single starting-point. [399b1] And it is all exactly like what happens in periods of war when the trumpet gives the signal to the army: immediately, on hearing the sound, one person picks up his spear, another puts on his breastplate, another dons greaves or helmet or belt; one puts the bridle on the horse, another mounts a pair, another entrusts the password; the captain goes straight off to his platoon, the squadron-leader to his squadron, the cavalryman to the wing; the light infantryman runs to his own place. Everything is driven by one signal given at the order of the commanding officer. So one must think about the whole: from one impulse everything is stirred into action and everything that is needed arises, while the origin is unseen and out of view. There is nothing to prevent this impulse from acting, or us from believing in it. The soul too, by which we live and have houses and cities, [15] cannot be seen, but is seen in its effects. The whole organisation of human life was discovered and is organised and held together by soul: irrigation of the land and agriculture, the inspiration of art, the use of law, constitutional order, civic affairs, foreign war, peace. God should be considered to be [20] in power the strongest, in beauty the most attractive, of immortal life and in virtue most powerful. He is unseen in the realm of mortal nature, but he is visible in his effects there. For everything that happens, in the air and on land and in the water, are, one might say, truly the works of that god who sustains the cosmos. From him, as the physicist Empedocles has it, comes ‘all that was and all that is and that will be hereafter; trees that bloom, and men and women, and beasts and birds and water-bred fish.’ To compare it with something smaller, he is really like those so-called ‘keystones’ which are set in the middle of vaults and by holding each part to the other preserve the whole structure of the vault in harmony and in order and unmoved. They say that the statue-maker Phidias, when he was making the Athena in the Acropolis, engraved his own face in the midde of her shield, and connected it [400a1] to the structure through some concealed artifice, so that if someone wanted to take it out, they would inevitably undo and ruin the whole statue. This is the position god holds in the cosmos: maintaining the harmony and preservation of everything. Only god is not in the middle, which is occupied by earth and this misty region; rather he resides above, himself pure in a pure place. We call it ouranos true to the fact that it is the ‘boundary above’ (horon ano), and Olympus as if ‘the whole of it shines’ (holoampe). It is far away from all that is dark and unordered in movement, as can be the case with with us because of the violent storms and winds. As the poet said: ‘Olympus, which they say is always the unerring seat of the gods: neither is it shaken by winds, nor ever doused by storm nor approached by snows, but the clear sky is cloudless, and white brightness goes about.’ [15] And the whole of life is witness to this, ascribing the upper regions to god. Indeed, all men stretch up their hands towards heaven when they pray. So this is not badly put: ‘To Zeus fell the broad heaven in the aither and clouds.’ [20] And the visible things we honour most occupy the same region – the stars and sun and moon. Because of this it is only celestial things that keep to the same pattern, and are never altered and changed in the way that things on earth are rather easily turned, and are subject to many alterations and affections. [25] Violent earthquakes have torn up parts of the earth; sudden rushing storms break things up; waves surging and withdrawing have often made seas of continents and continents of seas; violent air currents and typhoons have overturned whole cities; fiery flames in earlier times have come down from the heavens, they say, as in the case of Phaethon, who burned the eastern parts of the world; while others in the west have erupted and gushed forth from the earth, such as the craters torn open in Etna, and been carried along the earth like a torrent. In that case, the pious people showed high honour to what was sacred: they were surrounded by the rivers [of fire] because they were carrying their aged parents onto their shoulders to save them; but when the river of fire got close to them it divided, some of the fire turning one way some the other; so it kept the young men safe along with their parents.

Ὅταν οὖν ὁ πάντων ἡγεμών τε καὶ γενέτωρ, ἀόρατος ὢν ἄλλῳ πλὴν λογισμῷ, σημήνῃ πάσῃ φύσει μεταξὺ οὐρανοῦ τε καὶ γῆς φερομένῃ, κινεῖται πᾶσα ἐνδελεχῶς ἐν κύκλοις καὶ πέρασιν ἰδίοις, ποτὲ μὲν ἀφανιζομένη, ποτὲ δὲ φαινομένη, μυρίας ἰδέας ἀναφαίνουσά τε καὶ πάλιν ἀποκρύπτουσα ἐκ μιᾶς ἀρχῆς. Ἔοικε δὲ κο[399b1] μιδῇ τὸ δρώμενον τοῖς ἐν πολέμου καιροῖς μάλιστα γινομένοις, ἐπειδὰν ἡ σάλπιγξ σημήνῃ τῷ στρατοπέδῳ· τότε γὰρ τῆς φωνῆς ἕκαστος ἀκούσας ὁ μὲν ἀσπίδα ἀναιρεῖται, ὁ δὲ θώρακα ἐνδύεται, ὁ δὲ κνημῖδας ἢ κράνος ἢ ζωστῆρα περιτί θεται· καὶ ὁ μὲν ἵππον χαλινοῖ, ὁ δὲ συνωρίδα ἀναβαίνει, ὁ δὲ σύνθημα παρεγγυᾷ· καθίσταται δὲ εὐθέως ὁ μὲν λοχαγὸς εἰς λόχον, ὁ δὲ ταξίαρχος εἰς τάξιν, ὁ δὲ ἱππεὺς ἐπὶ κέρας, ὁ δὲ ψιλὸς εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν ἐκτρέχει χώραν· πάντα δὲ ὑφ’ ἕνα σημάντορα δονεῖται κατὰ προστάξιν τοῦ τὸ κράτος [399b10] ἔχοντος ἡγεμόνος. Οὕτω χρὴ καὶ περὶ τοῦ σύμπαντος φρονεῖν· ὑπὸ γὰρ μιᾶς ῥοπῆς ὀτρυνομένων ἁπάντων γίνεται τὰ οἰκεῖα, καὶ ταύτης ἀοράτου καὶ ἀφανοῦς. Ὅπερ οὐδαμῶς ἐστιν ἐμπόδιον οὔτε ἐκείνῃ πρὸς τὸ δρᾶν οὔτε ἡμῖν πρὸς τὸ πιστεῦσαι· καὶ γὰρ ἡ ψυχή, δι’ ἣν ζῶμέν τε καὶ οἴκους καὶ πόλεις ἔχομεν, ἀόρατος οὖσα τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτῆς ὁρᾶται· πᾶς γὰρ ὁ τοῦ βίου διάκοσμος ὑπὸ ταύτης εὕρηται καὶ διατέτακται καὶ συνέχεται, γῆς ἀρόσεις καὶ φυτεύσεις, τέχνης ἐπίνοιαι, χρήσεις νόμων, κόσμος πολιτείας, ἔνδημοι πράξεις, ὑπερόριος πόλεμος, εἰρήνη. Ταῦτα χρὴ καὶ περὶ θεοῦ διανοεῖσθαι, [399b20] δυνάμει μὲν ὄντος ἰσχυροτάτου, κάλλει δὲ εὐπρεπεστάτου, ζωῇ δὲ ἀθανάτου, ἀρετῇ δὲ κρατίστου, διότι πάσῃ θνητῇ φύσει γενόμενος ἀθεώρητος ἀπ’ αὐτῶν τῶν ἔργων θεωρεῖται. Τὰ γὰρ πάθη, καὶ τὰ δι’ ἀέρος ἅπαντα καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς καὶ τὰ ἐν ὕδατι, θεοῦ λέγοιτ’ ἂν ὄντως ἔργα εἶναι τοῦ τὸν κόσμον ἐπέχοντος· ἐξ οὗ, κατὰ τὸν φυσικὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα, «πάνθ’ ὅσα τ’ ἦν ὅσα τ’ ἔσθ’ ὅσα τ’ ἔσται ὀπίσσω, δένδρεά τ’ ἐβλάστησε καὶ ἀνέρες ἠδὲ γυναῖκες θῆρές τ’ οἰωνοί τε καὶ ὑδατοθρέμμονες ἰχθῦς.» Ἔοικε δὲ ὄντως, εἰ καὶ μικρότερον παραβαλεῖν, | τοῖς [399b30] ὀμφαλοῖς λεγομένοις τοῖς ἐν ταῖς ψαλίσιν [λίθοις], οἳ μέσοι κείμενοι κατὰ τὴν εἰς ἑκάτερον μέρος ἔνδεσιν ἐν ἁρμονίᾳ τηροῦσι καὶ ἐν τάξει τὸ πᾶν σχῆμα τῆς ψαλίδος καὶ ἀκίνητον. Φασὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν ἀγαλματοποιὸν Φειδίαν κατασκευάζοντα τὴν ἐν ἀκροπόλει Ἀθηνᾶν ἐν μέσῃ τῇ ταύτης ἀσπίδι τὸ ἑαυτοῦ πρόσωπον ἐντυπώσασθαι, καὶ συνδῆσαι τῷ [400a1] ἀγάλματι διά τινος ἀφανοῦς δημιουργίας, ὥστε ἐξ ἀνάγκης, εἴ τις βούλοιτο αὐτὸ περιαιρεῖν, τὸ σύμπαν ἄγαλμα λύειν τε καὶ συγχεῖν. Τοῦτον οὖν ἔχει τὸν λόγον ὁ θεὸς ἐν κόσμῳ, συνέχων τὴν τῶν ὅλων ἁρμονίαν τε καὶ σωτηρίαν, πλὴν οὔτε μέσος ὤν, ἔνθα ἡ γῆ τε καὶ ὁ θολερὸς τόπος οὗτος, ἀλλ’ ἄνω καθαρὸς ἐν καθαρῷ χωρῷ βεβηκώς, ὃν ἐτύμως καλοῦμεν οὐρανὸν μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὅρον εἶναι τὸν ἄνω, Ὄλυμπον δὲ οἷον ὁλολαμπῆ τε καὶ παντὸς ζόφου καὶ ἀτάκτου κινήματος κεχωρισμένον, οἷα γίνεται παρ’ ἡμῖν διὰ χειμῶνος καὶ ἀνέ[400a10] μων βίας, ὥσπερ ἔφη καὶ ὁ ποιητὴς «Οὔλυμπόνδ’ ὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ ἔμμεναι· οὔτ’ ἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτ’ ὄμβρῳ δεύεται, οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἴθρη πέπταται ἀνέφελος, λευκὴ δ’ ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη.» συνεπιμαρτυρεῖ δὲ καὶ ὁ βίος ἅπας, τὴν ἄνω χώραν ἀποδοὺς θεῷ· καὶ γὰρ πάντες ἄνθρωποι ἀνατείνομεν τὰς χεῖρας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐχὰς ποιούμενοι. Καθ’ ὃν λόγον οὐ κακῶς κἀκεῖνο ἀναπεφώνηται «Ζεὺς δ’ ἔλαχ’ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἐν αἰθέρι καὶ νεφέλῃσι.» [400a20] διὸ καὶ τῶν αἰσθητῶν τὰ τιμιώτατα τὸν αὐτὸν ἐπέχει τόπον, ἄστρα τε καὶ ἥλιος καὶ σελήνη, μόνα τε τὰ οὐράνια διὰ τοῦτο ἀεὶ τὴν αὐτὴν σώζοντα τάξιν διακεκόσμηται, καὶ οὔποτε ἀλλοιωθέντα μετεκινήθη, καθάπερ τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς εὔτρεπτα ὄντα πολλὰς ἑτεροιώσεις καὶ πάθη ἀναδέδεκται· σεισμοί τε γὰρ ἤδη βίαιοι πολλὰ μέρη τῆς γῆς ἀνέρρηξαν, ὄμβροι τε κατέκλυσαν ἐξαίσιοι καταρραγέντες, ἐπιδρομαί τε κυμάτων καὶ ἀναχωρήσεις πολλάκις καὶ ἠπείρους ἐθαλάττωσαν καὶ θάλαττας ἠπείρωσαν, βιαί τε πνευμάτων καὶ τυφώνων ἔστιν ὅτε πόλεις ὅλας ἀνέτρεψαν, πυρκαϊαί τε [400a30] καὶ φλόγες αἱ μὲν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενόμεναι πρότερον, ὥσπερ φασίν, ἐπὶ Φαέθοντος τὰ πρὸς ἕω μέρη κατέφλεξαν, αἱ δὲ πρὸς ἑσπέραν ἐκ γῆς ἀναβλύσασαι καὶ ἐκφυσήσασαι, καθάπερ τῶν ἐν Αἴτνῃ κρατήρων ἀναρραγέντων καὶ ἀνὰ τὴν γῆν φερομένων χειμάρρου δίκην. Ἔνθα καὶ τὸ τῶν εὐσεβῶν [400b1] γένος ἐξόχως ἐτίμησε τὸ δαιμόνιον· περικαταληφθέντων γὰρ <αὐτῶν> ὑπὸ | τοῦ ῥεύματος διὰ τὸ βαστάζειν γέροντας ἐπὶ τῶν ὤμων γο|νεῖς καὶ σώζειν, πλησίον [αὐτῶν] γενόμενος ὁ τοῦ πυρὸς | ποταμὸς ἐξεσχίσθη παρέτρεψέ τε τοῦ φλογμοῦ τὸ μὲν ἔνθα, | τὸ δὲ ἔνθα, καὶ ἐτήρησεν ἀβλαβεῖς ἅμα τοῖς γονεῦσι τοὺς | νεανίσκους.

[30.] Cum igitur rex omnium et pater, quem tantummodo animae oculis nostrae cogitationes uident, machinam omnem iugiter per circuitum suis legibus terminatam, claram et sideribus relucentem speciesque innumeras modo propalam, saepe contectas, ab uno, ut supra dixi, principio agitari iubet, simile istuc esse bellicis rebus hinc liceat arbitrari. Nam cum tuba bellicum cecinit, milites clangore incensi alius accingitur gladio, alius clipeum capit, ille lorica se induit, hic galea caput uel crura ocreis inuoluit et equum temperat frenis et iugales ad concordiam copulat; et protinus unusquisque conpetens capessit officium: uelites excursionem adornant, ordinibus principes curant, equites cor[di]nibus praesunt, ceteri negotia quae nacti sunt agitant cum interea unius ducis imperio tantus exercitus paret, quem praefecerit, penes quem est summa rerum. Non aliter diuinarum et humanarum rerum status regitur, quando uno moderamine contenta omnia pensum sui operis agnoscunt curatque omnibus occulta uis, nullis oculis obuia, nisi quibus mens aciem suae lucis intendit. [31.] Nec tamen hoc uel illi ad moliendum uel nobis ad intelligendum obest. De inferiore licet imagine capiamus exempla. Anima in homine non uidetur et tamen fateantur omnes necesse est huius opera omnia quae per hominem praeclara fiunt prouenire nec ipsius animae qualitatem ac figuram oculis occurrere, sed momentis ab ea gestarum rerum intellegi, qualis et quanta sit. Omne quippe humanae uitae praesidium ingenio eius est paratum: cultus agrorum ususque frugum, artificum sollertia, prouentus artium, commoditates uitae humanae. Quid de legibus dicam, quae ad mansuefaciendos homines inuentae sunt? quid de ciuilibus institutis ac moribus, qui nunc populorum otiosis conuentibus frequentantur, et, asperitate bellorum pacata, mitigantur quiete? Nisi forte tam iniustus rerum aestimator potest esse, qui haec eadem de deo neget, quem uideat esse uiribus exsuperantissimis, augustissima specie, inmortalis aeui, genitorem uirtutum ipsamque uirtutem. Vnde nihil mirum est, si mortales oculi non capiunt eius adspectum, quando diuinorum operum uestigiis sit perspicuus atque manifestus. [32.] Ceterum ea, quae uel caelo accidere oculis aduertimus et terra et aqua fieri, dei etiam illa credenda sunt. Quidni? [de] uerum eius cui tutela mundi huius et cura est, de quo Empedocles prudenter his uerbis sensit: Πάνθὅσα τ’ ἦν, ὅσα τ’ ἔσθ’, ὅσα τ’ ἔσται ὀπίσσω Δένδρεά τ’ ἐβλάστησε καὶ ἀνέρες ἠδὲ γυναῖκες, Θῆρες τ’ οἰωνοί τε, καὶ ὑδατοθρέμμονες ἰχθῦς. Phidian illum, quem fictorem probum fuisse tradit memoria, uidi ipse in clipeo Mineruae, quae arcibus Atheniensibus praesidet, oris sui similitudinem conligasse, ita ut, si quis olim artificis uoluisset exinde imaginem separare, soluta conpage simulacri totius incolumitas interiret. Ad hoc instar mundi salutem tuetur deus, aptam et reuinctam sui numinis potestate. [33.] Huius locum <si> quaerimus, neque finitimus est terrae contagionibus nec tamen medius in aere turbido, uerum in mundano fastigio, quem Graeci οὐρανὸν recte uocant, ut qui sit altitudinis finis. <Ὄλυμπον> etiam idem illa ratione eum nominant, quem ab omni fuscitate ac perturbatione uident liberum. Neque enim caliginem nubium recipit uel pruinas et niues sustinet nec pulsatur uentis nec imbribus caeditur. Haec enim nec Olympo, qui est celsitudinis summae, contingere poeta his uerbis cecinit: Οὔλυμπόνδὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ Ἔμμεναι· οὔτἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτὄμβρῳ Δεύεται οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλαἴθρη Πέπταται ἀννέφελος, λευκὴ δ’ ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη. Hanc opinionem communis mos et hominum obseruationes secutae adfirmant superiora esse deo tradita. Namque habitus orantium sic est ut manibus extensis <ad> caelum precemur. Romanus etiam poeta sic sensit: Aspice hoc sublime candens, quem inuocant omnes Iouem. Vnde illa, quae uidentur suntque omnibus praestantiora, easdem sublimitates regionum tenent, astra caelestia et mundi lumina; ac merito illis ordine licet perpetuo frui nec diuersis spatiis et temporibus obseruantissimam legem suorum aliquando itinerum mentiuntur. [34.] Terrena omnia mutationes et conuersiones, postremo interitus habent. Namque inmodicis tremoribus terrarum dissiluisse humum et interceptas urbes cum populis saepe cognouimus. Audimus etiam abruptis imbribus prolutas esse totas regiones; illas etiam, quae prius fuerint continentes, hospitibus atque aduenis fluctibus insulatas, alias, desidia maris, pedestri accessu peruias factas. Quid? qui uentis et procellis ciuitates euersas esse meminerunt? Quid? cum incendia de nubibus emicarunt? cum orientis regiones Phaethontis ruina, ut quidam putant, conflagratae perierunt? in occidentis plagis scaturrigines quaedam ac proluuiones easdem strages dederunt? Sic ex Aetnae uerticibus quondam effusis crateribus diuino incendio per decliuia, torrentis uice, flammarum flumina cucurrerunt. In quo periculi uertice egregium pietatis meritum fuisse cognouimus. Namque eos qui, principio fragoris territi, sensum tamen clementiae misericordiaeque retinebant et grandaeuos parentes ereptos uolucri clade suis ceruicibus sustinebant, illa flammarum fluenta, diuino separata discidio, quasi duo flumina ex uno fonte manantia, locum illum ambire maluerunt obsidione innocenti, ubi erant boni baiuli religiosis sarcinis occupati.

30. The king and father of all things, visible only to the eyes of reason in the mind, gives orders to the whole complex, eternally bounded in its revolution by its own laws, bright, and gleaming with stars; and [he also gives order to] the uncountable constellations, sometimes visible, often hidden, but moved by a single principle, as I have said. Think of it as like what happens in war. When the bugle announces the battle, soldiers rise up at the sound: one puts on his sword, another takes his shield; one puts on his cuirass, another puts his helmet on his head or greaves on his legs and steers his horse with a bridle, and pairs one to work in harmony with another. Everyone immediately attends to the duty assigned to him. Skirmishers make sallies, captains move about the ranks, the cavalry stands in front of the wings, others busy themsleves with the duties they have been given. But this whole operation takes place in obedience to a single commander, who is in charge and for whom everyone works. Just so, we can see that divine and human affairs are governed: there is one pilot, and everything else defers to the importance of his work; this hidden force cares for all things, but no eye can see him, unless it is the ‘eyes’ by which the mind directs the focus of its light. 31. But this is no obstacle – either to his action, or to our understanding. Let us consider examples from an admittedly inferior point of comparison. A man’s mind cannot be seen, but everyone agrees that everything worthwhile that happens through human agency must be due to the mind. The mind has no quality or shape that the eye encounters, but when it causes things to happen, it is possible to understand its nature and extent. Indeed, everything required to sustain human life is due to its genius: cultivating fields, harvesting fruits; artistic ability and what the arts can produce; the necessities of human life. What about the laws, which were invented to domesticate human beings? Those civil institutions and customs which now facilitate business meetings, and mitigate the savagery of warfare, and make people gentler in peace? Could anyone be so prejudiced as to deny that all this comes from god? He can [in fact] see god’s transcendent strengths, and exalted appearance, that he is immortal in age, the father of virtues, and virtue itself. It is no surprise if mortal eyes do not capture his appearance, when his traces appear so obviously and so manifestly in his divine works. 32. What is more, we ought to think that god is the source of everything we notice happening in the heavens with our eyes, or taking place on land or in the water. Why not? To him belongs the safekeeping and care of this world. Empedocles wisely expressed his thoughts about him in these words:


πάνθὅσα τ’ ἦν, ὅσα τ’ ἔσθ’, ὅσα τ’ ἔσται ὀπίσσω

δένδρεά τ’ ἐβλάστησε καὶ ἀνέρες ἠδὲ γυναῖκες,

θῆρες τ’ οἰωνοί τε, καὶ ὑδατοθρέμμονες ἰχθῦς.


[‘All that was, all that is, and all that will be hereafter, | trees that bloom and men and women, |and beasts and birds and water-raised fish.’] Phidias, the one famous as a sculptor, fixed the likeness of his own face in the shield of the Minerva which presides in the Athenian acropolis (a statue I myself have seen). [He did this] in such a way that, if anyone ever wanted to remove the artist’s image, and broke the fitting, the integrity of the whole statue would be destroyed. God sees to the preservation of the world in a similar way: it is fitted together and bound tight by the power of his divinity. 33. If we ask where he is: he is neither in direct contact with earth, nor in the middle regions of the turbid air. He is in the roof of the world, what the Greeks rightly call ouranos as something that is the ‘upper limit’. And [Mount] Olympus is so called because of a train of thought which understand that it is a place free of all darkness and disturbance. It is beyond the darkness of the clouds, it is not afflicted with frost or snow, and it is not battered by winds or pummelled by showers. The Poet sang that none of these things could touch Olympus because of its extreme height. These are his words:


Οὔλυμπόνδ’ ὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ

μμεναι· οὔτἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτὄμβρῳ

δεύεται οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἴθρη

πέπταται ἀννέφελος, λευκὴ δ’ ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη


[‘To Olympus, which they say is always the unerring seat of the gods: neither is it shaken by winds, nor ever doused by storm nor approached by snows, but the clear sky is cloudless, and white brightness goes about.]. Universal custom and human observation have acquiesced in this view, and affirmed the ancient tradition about god. When people pray, we pray with our hands extended to the heavens. A Roman poet expressed the following sentiment: ‘Regard this exalted brightness, which all invoke as Jupiter.’ The celestial stars and the lights of the world, which everyone recognises as the most exalted beings, occupy those heady regions, where they are allowed to enjoy the order they deserve: the laws they observe mean they move through their courses with unvarying intervals and periods. 34. On earth, everything undergoes change and reversion and finally perishes. The land shakes violently and the earth is broken up – and we have often been aware of cities destroyed along with their inhabitants. We have heard too of whole regions that have been devastated by sudden storms; and of areas which were formerly continents turned into islands by the action of unprecedented waves; and of others where the sea was forced back so that it could be crossed on foot. So! Are there not cities we no longer remember because they were destroyed by winds and whirlwinds – or perhaps when fires flashed down from the clouds? Did regions to the east not perish in conflagration (with the downfall of Phaethon, as some think)? On the western shores, have there not been [volcanic] eruptions and flows which have slaughtered as many? For example, torrents and rivers of flame once rushed headlong from craters spewing divine fire from the peak of [Mt.] Aetna. From the height of this peril, we learned of an act which shows the outstanding merit of piety. There were people who, although terrified at the initial eruption, nevertheless retained their sense of sympathy and pity, snatched their aged parents up and carried them away from the disaster; and those rivers of flame were divided in two [around them] by divine action, so as to become as it were two rivers flowing from one. The [rivers] surrounded them benignly, choosing to circumvent the ground where the good porters were busy with their venerable loads.

In general, what a helmsman is in a ship, a driver in a chariot, the chorus-leader in a chorus, the law is a city, the leader in an army, this is what god is in the cosmos, except that for them ruling is tiring, energetic and complex, while for him it is without grief or pain or threat to his health. Established in serene power he moves everything and leads it around where and how he wants, in all its diverse structures and kinds. It is, as, I suppose, as the law of a city which resides unmoving in the souls of those who use it, but organises everything in the city. It is in obedience to it that rulers move about in their spheres, the law-givers go to the lawcourts, counsellors and advisors to the appropriate benches; one person goes to the prytany to eat, another to the judges to defend himself, another to the prison to die. [20] And there are ordained feasts and annual vigils and sacrifices to the gods, the observance of hero cults, and libations for those laid to rest. Different things are done in different ways but according to a single order. What is truly active preserves the power of the law so that ‘a city is at the one time full of incense and at the same time of paeans and lamentations’. So it should be understood to be for that great city, I mean the cosmos: for god is our equitable law, which allows neither correction nor change, yet greater, I think, and more secure than those written down in tablets. When he leads, without himself moving, the whole cosmic arrangement of heaven and earth is administered, parcelled out according to the various kinds: to plants and animals according to genus and species through their proper seeds; to [401a1] vines and palm-trees and persea-trees, ‘and sweet figs and olives’, as the poet says; to [plants] which do not bear fruit but have other uses, planes and pines and box-trees, ‘black polar and sweet-smelling cypress’; [5] to those that bear sweet autumn fruit (albeit sometimes difficult to store). Animals too, the wild and tame, those that feed in air and on earth and in water, are born and mature and perish in obedience to the decrees of god: ‘For every creeping thing moves because it is struck,’ as Heraclitus says.

Καθόλου δὲ ὅπερ ἐν νηὶ μὲν κυβερνήτης, ἐν ἅρ|ματι δὲ ἡνίοχος, ἐν χορῷ δὲ κορυφαῖος, ἐν πόλει δὲ νομο<θέτη>ς, ἐν στρατοπέδῳ δὲ ἡγεμών, τοῦτο θεὸς ἐν κόσμῳ, πλὴν | καθ’ ὅσον τοῖς μὲν καματηρὸν τὸ ἄρχειν πολυκίνητόν τε [400b10] καὶ | πολυμέριμνον, τῷ δὲ ἄλυπον ἄπονόν τε καὶ πάσης κεχω|ρισμένον σωματικῆς ἀσθενείας· ἐν ἀκινήτῳ γὰρ ἱδρυμένος δυνάμει πάντα κινεῖ καὶ περιάγει, ὅπου βούλεται καὶ ὅπως, ἐν δια|φόροις ἰδέαις τε καὶ φύσεσιν, ὥσπερ ἀμέλει καὶ ὁ τῆς | πόλεως νόμος ἀκίνητος ὢν ἐν ταῖς τῶν χρωμένων ψυχαῖς πάντα οἰκονομεῖ τὰ κατὰ τὴν πολιτείαν· ἐφεπόμενοι γὰρ αὐτῷ δηλονότι ἐξίασιν ἄρχοντες μὲν ἐπὶ τὰ ἀρχεῖα, θεσμοθέται δὲ εἰς τὰ οἰκεῖα δικαστήρια, βουλευταὶ δὲ καὶ ἐκκλησιασταὶ εἰς συνέδρια τὰ προσήκοντα, καὶ ὁ μέν τις εἰς τὸ πρυτανεῖον βαδίζει σιτησόμενος, ὁ δὲ πρὸς τοὺς δικαστὰς [400b20] ἀπολογησόμενος, ὁ δὲ εἰς τὸ δεσμωτήριον ἀποθανούμενος. Γίνονται δὲ καὶ δημοθοινίαι νόμιμοι καὶ πανηγύρεις ἐνιαύσιοι θεῶν τε θυσίαι καὶ ἡρώων θεραπεῖαι καὶ χοαὶ κεκμηκότων· ἄλλα δὲ ἄλλως ἐνεργούμενα κατὰ μίαν πρόσταξιν ἢ νόμιμον ἐξουσίαν σώζει τὸ τοῦ ποιήσαντος ὄντως ὅτι «πόλις δ’ ὁμοῦ μὲν θυμιαμάτων γέμει, ὁμοῦ δὲ παιάνων τε καὶ στεναγμάτων,» οὕτως ὑποληπτέον καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς μείζονος πόλεως, λέγω δὲ | τοῦ κόσμου· νόμος γὰρ ἡμῖν ἰσοκλινὴς ὁ θεός, οὐ|δεμίαν ἐπιδεχόμενος διόρθωσιν ἢ μετάθεσιν, κρείττων δέ, [400b30] οἶμαι, καὶ βεβαιότερος τῶν ἐν ταῖς κύρβεσιν ἀναγεγραμμένων. Ἡγουμένου δὲ ἀκινήτως αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐμμελῶς ὁ σύμπας οἰκονομεῖται διάκοσμος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, μεμερισμένος κατὰ τὰς φύσεις πάσας διὰ τῶν οἰκείων σπερμάτων εἴς τε φυτὰ καὶ ζῷα κατὰ γένη τε καὶ εἴδη· καὶ γὰρ ἄμ[401a1] πελοι καὶ φοίνικες καὶ περσέαι «συκέαι τε γλυκεραὶ καὶ | ἐλαῖαι», ὥς φησιν ὁ ποιητής, τά τε ἄκαρπα μέν, ἄλλας δὲ | παρεχόμενα χρείας, πλάτανοι καὶ πίτυες καὶ πύξοι «κλήθρη τ’ αἴγειρός τε καὶ εὐώδης κυπάρισσος,» αἵ τε καρπὸν ὀπώρας ἡδὺν ἄλλως δὲ δυσθησαύριστον φέρουσαι, «ὄχναι καὶ ῥοιαὶ καὶ μηλέαι ἀγλαόκαρποι,» τῶν τε ζῴων τά τε ἄγρια καὶ ἥμερα, τά τε ἐν ἀέρι καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς καὶ ἐν ὕδατι βοσκόμενα, γίνεται καὶ ἀκμάζει καὶ [401a10] φθείρεται τοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ πειθόμενα θεσμοῖς· «πᾶν γὰρ ἑρπετὸν πληγῇ νέμεται», ὥς φησιν Ἡράκλειτος.

35. Postremo, quod est in triremi gubernator, in curru rector, praecentor in choris, lex in urbe, dux in exercitu, hoc est in mundo deus, nisi quod ceteris aerumnosum et multiplex et curarum innumerabilium uidetur esse hoc ipsum, alicuius officii principem fieri, deo uero nec tristis nec onerosa est imperii sui cura. Namque inmobilis circumfert et regit cuncta[s], naturas formasque diuersis regionibus commouens, ut est lex ciuitatis semel promulgata, perpetuis obseruationum rationibus fixa, ipsa quidem inmutabilis, at eius arbitrio parentium mentes agitantur nutuque eius et dominatione flectuntur: ex scitis eius magistratus tribunalia, principia milites frequentabunt, recuperatores iudiciis praesidebunt, decuriones et quibus ius est dicendae sententiae ad consessum publicum commeabunt; et alius ad Minuciam frumentatum uenit et aliis in iudiciis dies dicitur; reus purgandi se necessitate, insectandi studio accusator uenit; ille moriturus ad supplicii locum ducitur, hic ad conuiuii repotia [et] uespertinus comisator aduentat. Sunt et publicarum epularum apparatus et lectisternia deorum et dies festi, ludi scaenici ludique circenses; diis sacrificatur, Geniis ministratur, obitis libatione profunditur aliusque alio fungitur munere parentque omnes iussis legum et communis imperii. Videasque illam ciuitatem pariter spirantem Panchaeis odoribus et graueolentibus caenis, resonantem hymnis et carminibus et canticis, eandem etiam lamentis et ploratibus heiulantem. [36.] Ad hunc modum res agi et in mundo aestimemus; lex illa uergens ad aequitatis tenorem sit deus, nulla indigens correctione mutabili. Quippe sic et mundi uniuersitas regitur, dum speculatur ad omnia rector eius atque inmutabiliter incumbit spargiturque uis illa seminibus inclusa per naturas omnium speciesque et genera digesta. Sic faciles uitium lapsus et palmarum ardua, persicorum rubor, laeuitas mali gignitur, dulcitas fici; et quae infelicia propter infecunditatem uocamus, tamen utilia sunt alio pacto: platani, ut ait poeta, umbras potantibus ministrantes et acuta pinus et rasiles buxi, odora laurus, cupressorum odoratius lignum; tandem omnium animalium agrestium et cicurum, pinnatarum et pedestrium et aquatilium natura gignitur, nutritur, absumitur, parens caelestibus institutis: πᾶν γὰρ ἑρπετὸν πληγῇ νέμεται, ut Heraclitus ait.

35. Finally, what the pilot is in a ship, the driver in a chariot, the leader in a chorus, the law in a city, the general in an army, this god is in the world – except that, in these other cases taking the reins of office is itself a tiresome and complex business which brings innumerable cares, while for god the care he shows through his power is neither oppressive nor onerous. Immobile, he surrounds all and rules all, giving movement to the [things of different] kinds and shapes in the different regions. [He operates] like the law of a city, which is promulgated once, and fixed fast by the constant understanding of its observers. It is itself immutable, but the judgements which flow from it move the minds of those who obey it so that they accede and are bent in submission. Due to its decrees magistrates crowd the benches and soldiers their headquarters; the property courts are constituted for judgement, and municipal senators, and others whose business it is to give sentence, publicly convene; one man comes to the Minucian [gate] to collect his stipend, while others learn the date of their trial; the defendant arrives under the necessity of clearing his name, his accuser comes determined to prosecute; here is a man about to die being led to the place of the scaffold, there is a reveller out in the evening to go drinking at a party. There are the paraphernalia of public dinners and holy feasts and festal days, diversions on the stage and diversions in the circus; the gods are sacrificed to, Genii are tended, a libation for the dead is poured out, one man profits from another – and all obey the order decreed by the laws and their common power. You can see the city redolent with the scent of incense and foul-smelling waste as well, resounding with hymns and songs and canticles, and at the same time with ululation and lamentation. 36. This is how we think things are done in the cosmos too: think of god as the law which ensures systematic equality, without needing corrective adjustments. The whole cosmos is governed like this: its governor looks after everything while unchanging and at rest. The power that seeds have is distributed through things of every nature, through every species and every genus: it makes vines droop readily and palm-trees soar; the peach turns red, the apple swells, the fig sweetens – and even things we call ‘unhappy’ because they do not bear fruit are useful for another purpose. The shadow of plane trees, as the poet says, provides a service for drinkers; the sharpness of the pine and the smoothness of box, the scent of the laurel, the odour of cypress wood – and finally the natures of all animals, wild and tame, winged and footed and aquatic – all arise, are nourished, and are taken away in accordance with celestial decrees: πᾶν γὰρ ἑρπετὸν πληγῇ νέμεται [‘For every creeping thing moves because it is struck’], as Heraclitus says.

[God] is one, but he goes by names, which are names for all the effects which he causes. We call him Zen and Dia, using these names as well [as ‘Zeus’] , as if we were to say ‘Through whom (dia) we live (zēn)’. He is called the son of Kronos, or ‘time’ (chronos), persisting from unshaken age to another age. He is called oruscating and thundering and sky-clearing, and ‘aetherial lightning god’ and ‘rain god’ – from rain and lightning and the rest. And he is named ‘fruitful’ from fruits, and ‘protector of city’ from cities [20], protector of birth, of the courtyard, of siblings, and of paternity his relationship with these things; of companions and friendship and hospitality and the army and trophy-bearing; of purification and of the murderer, and of suppliants and soothing, as the poets say. He is, to sum it up, truly the saviour and liberator of heaven and earth, and named for nature and chance, insofar as he is the cause of everything. The Orphic lines do not put it badly:


Zeus was first, Zeus last, lord of lightning

Zeus the head, Zeus the middle: everything was done by Zeus.

Zeus is the foundation of the earth and the starry heaven;

Zeus nourished man, Zeus goes as immortal nymph;

Zeus is the breath of all, Zeus the force of unwearying fire;

Zeus the root of the sea; Zeus is sun and moon;

Zeus is king, Zeus is the ruler of all, lord of lightning

For he hides everything and again into joyful light

from his pure heart he compelled them, doing terrible deeds.

Εἷς δὲ ὢν πολυώνυμός ἐστι, κατονομαζόμενος τοῖς πάθεσι πᾶσιν ἅπερ αὐτὸς νεοχμοῖ. Καλοῦμεν γὰρ αὐτὸν καὶ Ζῆνα καὶ Δία, παραλλήλως χρώμενοι τοῖς ὀνόμασιν, ὡς κἂν εἰ λέγοιμεν δι’ ὃν ζῶμεν. Κρόνου δὲ παῖς καὶ χρόνου λέγεται, διήκων ἐξ αἰῶνος ἀτέρμονος εἰς ἕτερον αἰῶνα· ἀστραπαῖός τε καὶ βρονταῖος καὶ αἴθριος καὶ αἰθέριος κεραύνιός τε καὶ ὑέτιος ἀπὸ τῶν ὑετῶν καὶ κεραυνῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων καλεῖται. Καὶ μὴν ἐπικάρπιος μὲν ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν, πολιεὺς [401a20] δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων ὀνομάζεται, γενέθλιός τε καὶ ἑρκεῖος καὶ ὁμόγνιος καὶ πατρῷος ἀπὸ τῆς πρὸς ταῦτα κοινωνίας, ἑταιρεῖός τε καὶ φίλιος καὶ ξένιος καὶ στράτιος καὶ τροπαιοῦχος καθάρσιός τε καὶ παλαμναῖος καὶ ἱκέσιος καὶ μειλίχιος, ὥσπερ οἱ ποιηταὶ λέγουσι, σωτήρ τε καὶ ἐλευθέριος ἐτύμως, ὡς δὲ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν, οὐράνιός τε καὶ χθόνιος, πάσης ἐπώνυμος φύσεως ὢν καὶ τύχης, ἅτε πάντων αὐτὸς αἴτιος ὤν. Διὸ καὶ ἐν τοῖς Ὀρφικοῖς οὐ κακῶς λέγεται «Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετο, Ζεὺς ὕστατος ἀρχικέραυνος· Ζεὺς κεφαλή, Ζεὺς μέσσα, Διὸς δ’ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται· [401b1] Ζεὺς πυθμὴν γαίης τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος· Ζεὺς ἄρσην γένετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο νύμφη· Ζεὺς πνοιὴ πάντων, Ζεὺς ἀκαμάτου πυρὸς ὁρμή· Ζεὺς πόντου ῥίζα, Ζεὺς ἥλιος ἠδὲ σελήνη· Ζεὺς βασιλεύς, Ζεὺς ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων ἀρχικέραυνος· πάντας γὰρ κρύψας αὖθις φάος ἐς πολυγηθὲς ἐκ καθαρῆς κραδίης ἀνενέγκατο, μέρμερα ῥέζων.»

[37.] Et cum sit unus, pluribus nominibus cietur, specierum multitudine, quarum diuersitate fit multiformis uis. Idem ab iuuando Iuppiter dictus, quem Ζῆνα Graeci, quod uitae nostrae auctor sit, rectissime appellant. Saturnum etiam illi Κρόνον, quasi χρόνον quendam, incoeptum ab origine, interminum ad finem tempus appellant. Fulgurator et tonitrualis et fulminator, etiam imbricitor, et item dicitur serenator; et plures eum frugiferum uocant, multi urbis custodem, alii hospitalem, amicalem et omnium officiorum nominibus appellant. Est militaris, est triumphator et propagator, tropaeophorus; et multo plura eiusmodi apud haruspices et Romanos ueteres inueneris. Orpheus uero hanc effari potestatem uolens, his de eo uerbis canit:


Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετο, Ζεὺς ὕστερος, ἀρχικέραυνος·

Ζεὺς κεφαλή, Ζεὺς μέσσα· Διὸς δ’ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται.

Ζεὺς πυθμὴν γαίης τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος.

Ζεὺς ἄρσην τρέφετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο νύμφη.

Ζεὺς πνοιὴ πάντων, Ζεὺς ἀκαμάτου πυρὸς ὁρμή.

Ζεὺς πόντου ῥίζα, Ζεὺς ἥλιος ἠδὲ σελήνη.

Ζεὺς βασιλεύς, Ζεὺς ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων, ἀρχικέραυνος·

Πάντας γὰρ κρύψας αὖθις φάος ἐς πολυγηθές

Ἐκ καθαρᾶς κραδίης ἀνενέγκατο μέρμερα ῥέζων.

37. And while [god] is one, he is invoked by many names, and under a multitude of forms, whose diversity speaks of his multiform power. He is called Jupiter, from iuvare [‘help’] – the Greeks quite rightly name him Zen, because he is author of our life (zēn). For Saturn the Greeks say ‘Kronos’, as if he is chronos: ‘time’ without beginning, unbounded to the end. He is known as god of light, of thunder and lightning, and even of storms – and conversely of the calm; and many call him ‘fruitful’, many ‘guardian of the city’, others name him ‘hospitable’, ‘friendly’ – and call him by the names of all his offices. He is god of the army, of triumph and conquest, bearer of the trophy. And you will find a lot more of the same in the augurs and ancient Romans. Orpheus, when he wanted to express this power, sang about him in these words:


Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετο, Ζεὺς ὕστερος, ἀρχικέραυνος·

Ζεὺς κεφαλή, Ζεὺς μέσσα· Διὸς δ’ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται.

Ζεὺς πυθμὴν γαίης τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος.

Ζεὺς ἄρσην τρέφετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο νύμφη.

Ζεὺς πνοιὴ πάντων, Ζεὺς ἀκαμάτου πυρὸς ὁρμή.

Ζεὺς πόντου ῥίζα, Ζεὺς ἥλιος ἠδὲ σελήνη.

Ζεὺς βασιλεύς, Ζεὺς ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων, ἀρχικέραυνος·

Πάντας γὰρ κρύψας αὖθις φάος ἐς πολυγηθές

Ἐκ καθαρᾶς κραδίης ἀνενέγκατο μέρμερα ῥέζων.


[‘Zeus was first, Zeus last, lord of lightning | Zeus the head, Zeus the middle: everything was done by Zeus. | Zeus is the foundation of the earth and the starry heaven; | Zeus nourished man, Zeus goes as immortal nymph; | Zeus is the breath of all, Zeus the force of unwearing fire; | Zeus the root of the sea; Zeus is sun and moon; | Zeus is king, Zeus is the ruler of all, leading head | For he hides everything and again into joyful light | from his pure heart he compelled them doing terrible deeds].

Necessity (ananke), I know, is so called as if to say ‘the unmoved (aniketos) cause’; and Fate (heimarmene) because of ‘stringing together’ (eirein), and going unimpeded; and Pepromene because he has set bounds (pepratosthai) for everything (nothing among existing things is unbounded); Moira comes from his having appoitioned everything (merizo); Nemesis from distribution [dianemesis] to each; Adrasteia is the unavoidable (anapodrastos) cause in nature; Aisa ‘always is’ (aiei ousa). The attributes of the Moirai and the spindle nod in the same direction: for the Moirai are three, corresponding to the divisions of time. Some of the thread has already been spun by the spindle, some is about to be, some is now being spun. This is the pattern because one of the Moirai, Atropos, is what has been – and everything that is past is ‘unalterable’ (atreptos); Lachesis is assigned to the future, which nature is yet to determine; and Clotho to the present, accompishing and spinning the appropriate things for each. And the myth expresses all this in proper order.

οἶμαι δὲ καὶ τὴν Ἀνάγκην οὐκ ἄλλο τι λέγεσθαι πλὴν τοῦτον, οἱονεὶ ἀνίκητον αἰτίαν ὄντα, Εἱμαρμένην δὲ διὰ τὸ εἴρειν [401b10] τε καὶ χωρεῖν ἀκωλύτως, Πεπρωμένην δὲ διὰ τὸ πεπερατῶσθαι πάντα καὶ μηδὲν ἐν τοῖς οὖσιν ἄπειρον εἶναι, καὶ Μοῖραν μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ μεμερίσθαι, Νέμεσιν δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἑκάστῳ διανεμήσεως, Ἀδράστειαν δὲ ἀναπόδραστον αἰτίαν οὖσαν κατὰ φύσιν, Αἶσαν δὲ ἀεὶ οὖσαν. Τά τε περὶ τὰς Μοίρας καὶ τὸν ἄτρακτον εἰς ταὐτό πως νεύει· τρεῖς μὲν γὰρ αἱ Μοῖραι, κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους μεμερισμέναι, νῆμα δὲ ἀτράκτου τὸ μὲν ἐξειργασμένον, τὸ δὲ μέλλον, τὸ δὲ περιστρεφόμενον· τέτακται δὲ κατὰ μὲν τὸ γεγονὸς μία τῶν Μοιρῶν, Ἄτροπος, ἐπεὶ τὰ παρελθόντα πάντα ἄτρεπτά ἐστι, κατὰ δὲ τὸ [401b20] μέλλον Λάχεσις – [εἰς] πάντα γὰρ ἡ κατὰ φύσιν μένει λῆξις – κατὰ δὲ τὸ ἐνεστὼς Κλωθώ, συμπεραίνουσά τε καὶ κλώθουσα ἑκάστῳ τὰ οἰκεῖα. Περαίνεται δὲ καὶ ὁ μῦθος οὐκ ἀτάκτως.

38.1 Fa[c]tum autem Graeci εἱμαρμένην a tractu quodam inuicem causarum se continentium uolunt dici; decretum idem πεπρωμένην dicunt, quod omnia in hoc statu rerum definita sint nec 38.5 sit in hoc mundo aliquid interminatum; idem fatum μοῖραν uocant, quod ex partibus constet; hinc ἔννομον, quod unicuique adtributio sua sit adscripta. Ἀδράστεια denique <est> ineffugibilis necessitas ultionis. Sed tria Fata sunt, numerus 38.10 cum ratione temporis faciens, si potestatem earum ad eiusdem similitudinem temporis referas. Nam quod in fuso perfectum est praeteriti temporis habet speciem, et quod torquetur in digitis momenti praesentis indicat spatia, et quod nondum 38.15 ex colo tractum est subactumque cura digitorum, id futuri et consequentis saeculi posteriora uidetur ostendere. Haec illis condicio; et nominum eiusdem proprietate contingit, ut sit Atropos praeteriti temporis fatum, quod ne deus quidem faciet infec38.20 tum; futuri temporis Lachesis a fine cognominata, quod etiam illis quae futura sunt finem suum deus dederit. Clotho praesentis temporis habet curam, ut ipsis actionibus suadeat, ne cura sollers rebus omnibus desit.

38. The Greeks decided to refer to fate as εἱμαρμένη, because there is a chain of causes in which all are embraced; they call this same decree πεπρωμένη, because everything in this state of things is determined, and there is nothing in this world which is indeterminate; and they call the same thing μοῖρα, because it consists of parts (hence ἔννομος, because each has his own allocation). Ἀδράστεια, next, is the inescapable necessity of punishment. There are three Fates, a number which refers to time, if you consider that the capacity of each Fate relates to time: what has been spun and is finished is of a kind with past time; and what is [now] being turned by the fingers suggests the intervals of the present moment; and what has not yet been drawn from the fleece and brought under the control of the fingers, that seems to suggest things yet to come in the future and a later age. This is how they are, and each has a name which fits their character: Atropos is the fate of past time, which not even god can undo; Lachesis is of future time, and named from the end, because even to those things which are in the future god has given their end. Clotho is concerned with the present time, as her very actions make clear – so that nothing lacks expert oversight.

But all these things are nothing else but god, as the noble Plato says: ‘God, as the ancient account [says], holds the beginning and end and middle of all the things that are, and goes straight, travelling according to nature; justice always follows along with him, the punisher of those who abandon divine law’, ‘[justice] in which he who will be blessed and happy should at once from the beginning participate.’

Ταῦτα δὲ πάντα ἐστὶν οὐκ ἄλλο τι πλὴνθεός, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ γενναῖος Πλάτων φησίν· «ὁ μὲν δὴ θεός, ὥσπερ ὁ παλαιὸς λόγος, ἀρχήν τε καὶ τελευτὴν καὶ μέσα τῶν ὄντων ἁπάντων ἔχων, εὐθείᾳ περαίνει κατὰ φύσιν πορευόμενος· τῷ δὲ ἀεὶ ξυνέπεται δίκη, τῶν ἀπολειπομένων τοῦ θείου νόμου τιμωρός», «ἧςγενήσεσθαι μέλλων μακάριός τε καὶ εὐδαίμων ἐξ ἀρχῆς εὐθὺς μέτοχος εἴη

Deum uero 38.25 ire per omnes Terrasque tractusque maria caelumque profundum non frustra arbitrabitur, qui audiet Platonis haec uerba: ‘deus namque, sicut uetus’, inquit, ‘con38.30 tinet ratio, principia et fines et media rerum omnium penetrat atque inlustrat ac curru uolucri superfertur; eundem deum ultrix Necessitas semper et ubique comitatur, eorum qui a sacra lege discesserint uindex futura; quam faciet ille mitificam, 38.35 qui statim a tenero et ipsis incunabulis intellexit, extimuit eique se totum dedit atque permisit’.

God is supposed, not erroneously, ‘to pervade all the lands and sea-tracts and the depth of heaven’. Listen to these words of Plato: ‘god,’ he says, ‘as the ancient account has it, pervades the beginning and end and middle of all things, and illuminates them and is carried above them in a swift chariot; the avenger Necessity accompanies this same god always and everywhere, the future punisher of those who split from sacred law; he makes it a mitigation honoured by anyone who immediately understands it from their very infancy, and opens and gives himself whole to it.’


Text of the De Mundo ed. J. Beaujeu, Apulée, Opuscules Philosophiques (Paris, 1973)

Text of the Περὶ κόσμου ed. W. L. Lorimer, Aristotelis qui fertur libellus de mundo (Paris, 1933).


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De Mundo translations by George Boys-Stones are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://individual.utoronto.ca/gbs/demundo/texts.html.