The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

158

ASTRONOMIA,

he inculcates may be the result of the personal ob­servations of himself and his contemporaries.

varro, col um ell a, pliny. — Morning Ris­ing.— (1.) Varro, where he describes the distribu­tion of the year into eight divisions, according to the calendar of Caesar, states that there was a space of forty-six days from the vernal equinox (25th. March) to the rising of the Pleiades ( Vergi-liarum exortum\ which is thus fixed to the 8th or 9th of May. (R. R. i. 28.)

(2.) Pliny (xviii. 66. § 1) names the 10th. of May.

Columella has three distinct notices (R. R. xi. 2. §§ 36, 39).

(3.) X. Kal. Mcd. (22d April) Vergiliae cum sole oriuntur.

(4.) Nonis Maiis (7th May) Vergiliae exoriuntur mane.

(5.) VI. Tdus so. Mai (10th May) Vergiliae totae apparent; and this last corresponds with his assertion elsewhere, that the phenomenon takes place forty-eight days after the vernal equinox (ix. 14. § 4).

Now the true morning rising of the Pleiads took place at Rome in the age of the above writers, who are all embraced within the limits of a century, about the 16th of April, the apparent or heliacal rising about the 28th of May. Hence, not one of the above statements is accurate. But (1) (2) (4) (5) approach closely to the observ­ation of Euctemon (b.c. 430), according to whom the Pleiad rises on the 13th of Taurus (8th of May), and (3), which expressly refers to the true rising, although inapplicable to Rome, will suit the latitude of Athens for the epoch in question.

Morning Setting. — (1.) Varro places the setting of the Pleiades (Vergiliarum occasuni} forty-five days after the autumnal equinox (24th Sept.), that is, on the.6th or 7th of November (R. R. i. 28).

(2.) Pliny names the llth of November (xviii. 60, 74 ; the text in c. 59 is corrupt).

Columella, as before, has a succession of notices.

(3.) XIII. et XII. Kal. Nov. (20th and 21st Oct.) -Solis exortu Vergiliae incipiunt occidere.

(4.) V. Kal Nov. (28th Oct.) Vergiliae occi-dunt.

(5.) VI. Id. Nov. (8th Nov.) Virgiliae mane occidunt.

(6.) IV. Id. Nov. (10th Nov.) kiemis initium.

These are all taken from his calendar in xi. 2 ; but in ix. 14. § 11, " Ab aequinoctio .... ad Ver­giliarum occasum diebiis XL" i.e. 2d or 3d of November. Compare ii. 8. § 1.

Now the true morning setting of the Pleiads took place for Rome at that epoch on the 29th of October, the apparent morning setting on the 9th of November. Hence, it appears that (5) may be regarded as an accurate determination of the ap­parent morning setting, and that (1) and (2) ap­proach nearly to the truth, especially when we bear in mind that variations to the extent of two or even three days must be allowed in regard to a phenomenon which depends in some degree on the state of the atmosphere. We perceive also that (4) is correct for the true morning setting, while (3), which is inapplicable to Rome, cor­responds to the horizon of Athens in the time of Meton. In the passage from Colum. ix. 14, we ought probably to adopt the conjecture of Pon-tedera, and read xliv. for xl.

Evening Setting and Evening Rising. — The even-

astronomia.

ing setting of the Pleiades took place, according to Columella, on the 6th of April ( VIII. Idus Aprilis Vergiliae Vespere celantur) ; according to the ca­lendar of Caesar on the 5th. (Colum. xi. 2. § 34 ; Plin. //. N. xviii. 66.) These statements a,re not far from the truth, since the apparent evening set­ting took place' at Rome for the Julian epoch on the 8th of April. The apparent evening rising belonged to the 25th of September.

virgil. — Virgil (Georg. i. 221) enjoins the husbandman not to sow his wheat until after thf morning setting of the Pleiades : —

Ante tibi Eoae Atlantides abscondantur Gnosiaque ardentis decedat stella Coronae Debita quam sulcis committas semina.

Hesiod, as we have seen above, fixes the com­mencement of the ploughing season, without making any distinction as to the particular crop desired, by the (apparent) morning setting of the Pleiades, that is, for his age, the beginning of November. But it is impossible to tell whether Virgil intended merely to repeat this precept or had in his eye the calendar of Caesar or some similar compilation. Columella (ii. 8. § 1), in commenting upon these lines, understands him to mean the true morning setting, which, he says, takes place thirty-two days after the equinox, that is, on the 25th or 26th of October, a calculation not far from the truth, since we have pointed out above that the 28th was the real day.

There is another passage where both the rising and the setting of the Pleiades are mentioned in connection with the two periods of the honey har­vest. (Georg. iv. 231)

Bis gravidos cogunt foetus, duo tempora messis, Taygete simul os terris ostendit honestum Pleias et occani spretos pede repulit amnes. Aut eadem sidus fugiens ubi Piscis aquosi Tristior hybernas coelo descendit in undas.

Here, again, there is nothing in the context by which we can ascertain the precise periods which the poet desired to define, we can only make a guess by comparing his injunction with those of others. Columella (xi. 2) recommends that the combs should be cut, if full., about the 22nd of April ; but, since he adds that if they are not full the operation ought to be deferred, the matter is left quite indefinite. Now, the words of Virgil seem clearly to point to the heliacal rising which took place in his time at Rome about the 28th of May, more than five weeks after the day given by Columella. In like manner the last-named writer advises (xi. 2, § 57) that the autumnal collection of honey should be put off until the month of October, although others were in the habit of be­ginning earlier. The true morning setting was, as already stated, on the 28th of October, the ap­parent on the 9th of November.

As to the expression " sidus fugiens ubi Piscis aquosi," it will be sufficient to observe that al­though the u Piscis " in question has been vari­ously supposed to be — one of the fishes in the zodiac—the Southern Fish—the Hydra—the Dolphin—or even the Scorpion, no one has yet succeeded in proposing a reasonable or intelligible interpretation, which can be reconciled with any delineation of the heavens with which we are acquainted.

ovid. —We are told in the Fasti (iv. 165)

Pages
About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index

157

158

159
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.