Text derived from The complete works of Plutarch: essays and miscellanies, New York: Crowell, 1909. Vol.III.
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It being our determination to discourse of Natural Philosophy, we judge it necessary, in the first place and chiefly, to divide the body of philosophy into its proper members, so that we may know what is that which is called philosophy, and what part of it is physical, or the explanation of natural things. The Stoics affirm that wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine; that philosophy is the pursuit of that art which is convenient to this knowledge; that virtue is the sole and sovereign art which is thus convenient; and this distributes itself into three general parts — natural, moral, and logical. By which just reason (they say) philosophy is tripartite; of which one natural, the other moral, the third logical. The natural when our inquiries are concerning the world and all things contained in it; the ethical is the employment of our minds in those things which concern the manners of man’s life; the logical (which they also call dialectical) regulates our conversation with others in speaking. Aristotle, Theophrastus, and after them almost all the Peripatetics give the same division of philosophy. It is absolutely requisite that the complete person he contemplator of things which have a being, and the practiser of those thing which are decent; and this easily appears by the following instances. If the question be proposed, whether the sun, which is so conspicuous to us, be informed of a soul or inanimate, he that makes this disquisition is the thinking man; for he proceeds no farther than to consider the nature of that thing which is proposed. Likewise, if the question be propounded, whether the world be infinite, or whether beyond the system of this world there is any real being, all these things are the objects about which the understanding of man is conversant. But if these be the questions — what measures must be taken to compose the well-ordered life of man, what are the best methods to govern and educate children, or what are the exact rules whereby sovereigns may command and establish laws — all these queries are proposed for the sole end of action, and the man skilled therein is the moral and practical man.
Since we have undertaken to make a diligent search into Nature, I cannot but conclude it necessary to declare what Nature is. It is very absurd to attempt a discourse of the essence of natural things, and not to understand what is the power and sphere of Nature. If Aristotle be credited, Nature is the principle of motion and rest, in that thing in which it exists as a principle and not by accident. For all things that are conspicuous to our eyes, which are neither fortuitous nor necessary, nor have a divine original, nor acknowledge any such like cause, are called natural and enjoy their proper nature. Of this sort are earth, fire, water, air, plants, animals; to these may be added all things produced from them, such as showers, hail, thunders, hurricanes, and winds. All these confess they had a beginning, none of these were from eternity, but had something as the origin of them; and likewise animals and plants have a principle whence they are produced. But Nature, which in all these things hath the priority, is not only the principle of motion but of repose; whatsoever enjoys the principle of motion, the same has a possibility to find a dissolution. Therefore on this account it is that Nature is the principle of motion and rest.
The followers of Aristotle and Plato conclude that elements are discriminated from principles. Thales the Milesian supposeth that a principle and the elements are one and the same thing, but it is evident that they vastly differ one from another. For the elements are things compounded; but we do pronounce that principles admit not of a composition, nor are the effects of any other being. Those which we call elements are earth, water, air, and fire. But we call those principles which have nothing prior to them out of which they are produced; for otherwise not these themselves, but rather those things whereof they are produced, would be the principles. Now there are some things which have a pre-existence to earth and water, from which they are begotten; to wit, matter, which is without form or shape; then form, which we call [Greek omitted] (actuality); and lastly, privation. Thales therefore is most in error, by affirming that water is both an element and a principle.
Thales the Milesian doth affirm that water is the principle from whence all things in the universe spring. This person appears to be the first of philosophers; from him the Ionic sect took its denomination, for there are many families and successions amongst philosophers. After he had professed philosophy in Egypt, when he was very old, he returned to Miletus. He pronounced, that all things had their original from water, and into water all things are resolved. His first ground was, that whatsoever was the prolific seed of all animals was a principle, and that is moist; so that it is probable that all things receive their original from humidity. His second reason was, that all plants are nourished and fructified by that thing which is moist, of which being deprived they wither away. Thirdly, that that fire of which the sun and stars are made is nourished by watery exhalations — yea, and the world itself; which moved Homer to sing that the generation of it was from water:—
The ocean is
Of all things the kind genesis.
(Iliad, xiv. 246.)
Anaximander, who himself was a Milesian, assigns the principle of all things to the Infinite, from whence all things flow, and into the same are corrupted; hence it is that infinite worlds are framed, and those dissolve again into that whence they have their origin. And thus he farther proceeds, For what other reason is there of an Infinite but this, that there may be nothing deficient as to the generation or subsistence of what is in Nature? There is his error, that he doth not acquaint us what this Infinite is, whether it be air, or water, or earth, or any other such like body. Besides he is mistaken, in that, giving us the material cause, he is silent as to the efficient cause of beings; for this thing which he makes his Infinite can be nothing but matter; but operation cannot come about in the sphere of matter, except an efficient cause be annexed. Anaximenes his fellow-citizen pronounceth, that air is the principle of all beings; from it all receive their original, and into it all return. He affirms that our soul is nothing but air; it is that which constitutes and preserves; the whole world is invested with spirit and air. For spirit and air are synonymous. This person is in this deficient, in that he concludes that of pure air, which is a simple body and is made of one only form, all animals are composed. It is not possible to think that a single principle should be the matter of all things, from whence they receive their subsistence; besides this there must be an operating cause. Silver (for example) is not of itself sufficient to frame a drinking cup; an operator also is required, which is the silversmith. The like may be applied to vessels made of wood, brass, or any other material.
Anaxagoras the Clazomenian asserted Homoeomeries (or parts similar or homogeneous) to be the original cause of all beings; it seemed to him impossible that anything could arise of nothing or be dissolved into nothing. Let us therefore instance in nourishment, which appears simple and uniform, such as bread which we owe to Ceres and water which we drink. Of this very nutriment, our hair, our veins, our arteries, nerves, bones, and all our other parts are nourished. These things thus being performed, it must be granted that the nourishment which is received by us contains all those things by which these of us are produced. In it there are those particles which are producers of blood, bones, nerves, and all other parts; these particles (he thought) reason discovers for us. For it is not necessary that we should reduce all things under the objects of sense; for bread and water are fitted to the senses, yet in them there are those particles latent which are discoverable only by reason. It being therefore plain that there are particles in the nourishment similar to what is produced by it, he terms these homogeneous parts, averring that they are the principles of beings. Matter is according to him these similar parts, and the efficient cause is a Mind, which orders all things that have an existence. Thus he begins his discourse: “All things were confused one among another; but Mind divided and brought them to order.” In this he is to be commended, that he yokes together matter and an intellectual agent.
Archelaus the son of Apollodorus, the Athenian, pronounceth, that the principles of all things have their origin from an infinite air rarefied or condensed. Air rarefied is fire, condensed is water.
These philosophers, the followers of Thales, succeeding one another, made up that sect which takes to itself the denomination of the Ionic.
Pythagoras the Samian, the son of Mnesarchus, from another origin deduces the principles of all things; it was he who first called philosophy by its name. He thought the first principles to be numbers, and those symmetries in them which he styles harmonies; and the composition of both he terms elements, called geometrical. Again, he places unity and the indefinite binary number amongst the principles. One of these principles ends in an efficient and forming cause, which is Mind, and that is God; the other to the passive and material part, and that is the visible world. Moreover, the nature of number (he saith) consists in the ten; for all people, whether Grecians or barbarians, reckon from one to ten, and thence return to one again. Farther he avers the virtue of ten consists in the quaternion; the reason whereof is this — if any person start from one, and add numbers so as to take in the quaternary, he shall complete the number ten; if he passes the four, he shall go beyond the ten; for one, two, three, and four being added up together make ten. The nature of numbers, therefore, if we regard the units, abideth in the ten; but if we regard its power, in the four. Therefore the Pythagoreans say that their most sacred oath is by that god who delivered to them the quaternary.
By th’ founder of the sacred number four,
Eternal Nature’s font and source, they swore.
Of this number the soul of man is composed; for mind, knowledge, opinion, and sense are the four that complete the soul, from which all sciences, all arts, all rational faculties derive themselves. For what our mind perceives, it perceives after the manner of a thing that is one, the soul itself being a unity; as for instance, a multitude of persons are not the object of our sense nor are comprehended by us, for they are infinite; our understanding gives the general concept of A MAN, in which all individuals agree. The number of individuals is infinite; the generic or specific nature of all being is a unit, or to be apprehended as one only thing; from this one conception we give the genuine measures of all existence, and therefore we affirm that a certain class of beings are rational and discoursive. But when we come to give the nature of a horse, it is that animal which neighs; and this being common to all horses, it is manifest that the understanding, which hath such like conceptions, is in its nature unity. It follows that the number called the infinite binary must be science; in every demonstration or belief belonging to science, and in every syllogism, we draw that conclusion which is in dispute from those propositions which are by all granted, by which means another proposition is obtained from the premises. The comprehension of these we call knowledge; for which reason science is the binary number. But opinion is the ternary; for that rationally follows from comprehension. The objects of opinion are many things, and the ternary number denotes a multitude, as “Thrice happy Grecians”; for which reason Pythagoras admits the ternary. This sect of philosophers is called the Italic, by reason Pythagoras started his school in Italy; his hatred of the tyranny of Polycrates enforced him to abandon his native country Samos. Heraclitus and Hippasus of Metapontum suppose that fire gives the origination to all beings, that they all flow from fire, and in fire they all conclude; for of fire when first quenched the world was constituted. The first part of the world, being most condensed and contracted within itself, made the earth; but part of that earth being loosened and made thin by fire, water was produced; afterwards this water being exhaled and rarefied into vapors became air; after all this the world itself, and all other corporeal beings, shall be dissolved by fire in the universal conflagration. By them therefore it appears that fire is what gives beginning to all things, and is that in which all things receive their period.
Epicurus the son of Neocles, the Athenian, his philosophical sentiments being the same with those of Democritus, affirms that the principles of all being are bodies which are only perceptible by reason; they admit not of a vacuity, nor of any original, but being of a self-existence are eternal and incorruptible; they are not liable to any diminution, they are indestructible, nor is it possible for them to receive any transformation of parts, or admit of any alterations; of these reason is only the discoverer; they are in a perpetual motion in vacuity, and by means of the empty space; for the vacuum itself is infinite, and the bodies that move in it are infinite. Those bodies acknowledge these three accidents, figure, magnitude, and gravity. Democritus acknowledged but two, magnitude and figure. Epicurus added the third, to wit, gravity; for he pronounced that it is necessary that bodies receive their motion from that impression which springs from gravity, otherwise they could not be moved. The figures of atoms cannot be incomprehensible, but they are not infinite. These figures are neither hooked nor trident-shaped nor ring-shaped, such figures as these being exposed to collision; but the atoms are impassible, impenetrable; they have indeed figures of their own, which are conceived only by reason. It is called an atom, by reason not of its smallness but of its indivisibility; in it no vacuity, no passible affection is to be found. And that there is an atom is perfectly clear; for there are elements which have a perpetual duration, and there are animals which admit of a vacuity, and there is a unity.
Empedocles the Agrigentine, the son of Meton, affirms that there are four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, and two powers which bear the greatest command in nature, concord and discord, of which one is the union, the other the division of beings. Thus he sings,
Hear first the four roots of all created things:—
Bright shining Jove, Juno that beareth life,
Pluto beneath the earth, and Nestis who
Doth with her tears water the human fount.
By Jupiter he understands fire and ether, by Juno that gives life he means the air, by Pluto the earth, by Nestis and the spring of all mortals (as it were) seed and water.
Socrates the son of Sophroniscus, and Plato son of Ariston, both natives of Athens, entertain the same opinion concerning the universe; for they suppose three principles, God, matter, and the idea. God is the universal understanding; matter is that which is the first substratum, accommodated for the generation and corruption of beings; the idea is an incorporeal essence, existing in the cogitations and apprehensions of God; for God is the soul and mind of the world.
Aristotle the son of Nichomachus, the Stagirite, constitutes three principles; Entelecheia (which is the same with form), matter, and privation. He acknowledges four elements, and adds a certain fifth body, which is ethereal and not obnoxious to mutation.
Zeno son of Mnaseas, the native of Citium, avers these to be principles, God and matter, the first of which is the efficient cause, the other the passible and receptive. Four more elements he likewise confesses.
The world being broken and confused, after this manner it was reduced into figure and composure as now it is. The insectible bodies or atoms, by a wild and fortuitous motion, without any governing power, incessantly and swiftly were hurried one amongst another, many bodies being jumbled together; upon this account they have a diversity in the figures and magnitude. These therefore being so jumbled together, those bodies which were the greatest and heaviest sank into the lowest place; they that were of a lesser magnitude, being round, smooth, and slippery, these meeting with those heavier bodies were easily broken into pieces, and were carried into higher places. But when that force whereby these variously particles figured particles fought with and struck one another, and forced the lighter upwards, did cease, and there was no farther power left to drive them into superior regions, yet they were wholly hindered from descending downwards, and were compelled to reside in those places capable to receive them; and these were the heavenly spaces, unto which a multitude of these small bodies were hurled, and these being thus shivered fell into coherence and mutual embraces, and by this means the heaven was produced. Then a various and great multitude of atoms enjoying the same nature, as it is before asserted, being hurried aloft, did form the stars. The multitude of these exhaled bodies, having struck and broke the air in shivers, forced a passage through it; this being turned into wind invested the stars, as it moved, and whirled them about, by which means to this present time that circulary motion which these stars have in the heavens is maintained. Much after the same manner the earth was made; for by those little particles whose gravity made them to reside in the lower places the earth was formed. The heaven, fire, and air were constituted of those particles which were carried aloft. But a great deal of matter remaining in the earth, this being condensed by the driving of the winds and the air from the stars, every little part and form of it was compressed, which created the element of water; but this being fluidly disposed did run into those places which were hollow, and these places were those that were capable to receive and protect it; or the water, subsisting by itself, did make the lower places hollow. After this manner the principal parts of the world were constituted.
The Stoics pronounce that the world is one thing, and this they say is the universe and is corporeal.
But Empedocles’s opinion is, that the world is one; yet by no means the system of this world must be styled the universe, but that it is a small part of it, and the remainder is inactive matter.
What to Plato seems the truest he thus declares, that there is one world, and that world is the universe; and this he endeavors to evince by three arguments. First, that the world could not be complete and perfect, if it did not within itself include all beings. Secondly, nor could it give the true resemblance of its original and exemplar, if it were not the one only begotten thing. Thirdly, it could not be incorruptible, if there were any being out of its compass to whose power it might be obnoxious. But to Plato it may be thus returned. First, that the world is not complete and perfect, nor doth it contain all things within itself. And if man is a perfect being, yet he doth not encompass all things. Secondly, that there are many exemplars and originals of statues, houses, and pictures. Thirdly, how is the world perfect, if anything beyond it is possible to be moved about it? But the world is not incorruptible, nor can it be so conceived, because it had an original. To Metrodorus it seems absurd, that in a large field one only stalk should grow, and in an infinite space one only world exist; and that this universe is infinite is manifest by this, that there is an infinity of causes. Now if this world be finite and the causes producing it infinite, it follows that the worlds likewise be infinite; for where all causes concur, there the effects also must appear, let the causes be what they will, either atoms or elements.
The Stoics thus define the essence of a god. It is a spirit intellectual and fiery, which acknowledges no shape, but is continually changed into what it pleases, and assimilates itself to all things. The knowledge of this deity they first received from the pulchritude of those things which so visibly appeared to us; for they concluded that nothing beauteous could casually or fortuitously be formed, but that it was framed from the art of a great understanding that produced the world. That the world is very resplendent is made perspicuous from the figure, the color, the magnitude of it, and likewise from the wonderful variety of those stars which adorn this world. The world is spherical; the orbicular hath the pre-eminence above all other figures, for being round itself it hath its parts like itself. (On this account, according to Plato, the understanding, which is the most sacred part of man, is in the head.) The color of it is most beauteous; for it is painted with blue; which, though little blacker than purple, yet hath such a shining quality, that by reason of the vehement efficacy of its color it cuts through such a space of air; whence it is that at so great a distance the heavens are to be contemplated. And in this very greatness of the world the beauty of it appears. View all things: that which contains the rest carries a beauty with it, as an animal or a tree. Also things which are visible to us accomplish the beauty of the world. The oblique circle called the Zodiac in heaven is with different images painted and distinguished:—
There’s Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and the Claws;
Scorpio, Arcitenens, and Capricorn;
Amphora, Pisces, then the Ram, and Bull;
The lovely pair of Brothers next succeed.
There are a thousand others that give us the suitable reflections of the beauty of the world. Thus Euripides:—
The starry splendor of the skies,
The beautiful and varied work of that wise
From this the knowledge of a god is conveyed to man; that the sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, being carried under the earth, rise again in their proper color, magnitude, place, and times. Therefore they who by tradition delivered to us the knowledge and veneration of the gods did it by these three manner of ways:— first, from Nature; secondly, from fables; thirdly, from the testimony supplied by the laws of commonwealths. Philosophers taught the natural way; poets, the fabulous; and the political way is to be had from the constitutions of each commonwealth. All sorts of this learning are distinguished into these seven parts. The first is from things that are conspicuous, and the observation of those bodies which are in places superior to us. To men the heavenly bodies that are so visible did give the knowledge of the deity; when they contemplated that they are the causes of so great an harmony, that they regulate day and night, winter and summer, by their rising and setting, and likewise considered those things which by their influences in the earth do receive a being and do likewise fructify. It was manifest to men that the Heaven was the father of those things, and the Earth the mother; that the Heaven was the father is clear, since from the heavens there is the pouring down of waters, which have their spermatic faculty; the Earth the mother, because she receives them and brings forth. Likewise men considering that the stars are running (Greek omitted) in a perpetual motion, that the sun and moon give us the stimulus to view and contemplate (Greek omitted), they call them all gods (Greek omitted). In the second and third place, they thus distinguished the deities into those which are beneficial and those that are injurious to mankind. Those which are beneficial they call Jupiter, Juno, Mercury, Ceres; those who are mischievous the Dirae, Furies, and Mars. These, which threaten dangers and violence, men endeavor to appease and conciliate by sacred rites. The fourth and the fifth order of gods they assign to things and passions; to passions, Love, Venus, and Desire; the deities that preside over things, Hope, Justice, and Eunomia.
The sixth order of deities are the ones made by the poets; Hesiod, willing to find out a father for those gods that acknowledge an original, invented their progenitors —
Hyperion, Coeus, and Iapetus,
(Hesiod, “Theogony,” 134.)
upon which account this is called the fabulous. The seventh rank of the deities added to the rest are those which, by their beneficence to mankind, were honored with a divine worship, though they were born of mortal race; of this sort were Hercules, Castor and Pollux, and Bacchus. These are reputed to be of a human species; for of all beings that which is divine is most excellent, and man amongst all animals is adorned with the greatest beauty, is also the best, being adorned by virtue above the rest because of the gift of intellect: therefore it was thought that those who were admirable for excellence should resemble that which is the best and most beautiful.
Some of the philosophers, such as Diagoras the Melian, Theodorus the Cyrenean, and Euemerus the Tegeatan, did deny unanimously that there were any gods; and Callimachus the Cyrenean discovered his mind concerning Euemerus in these Iambic verses, thus writing:—
To th’ ante-mural temple flock apace,
Where he that long ago composed of brass
Great Jupiter, Thrasonic old bald pate,
Now scribbles impious books — a boastful ass!
meaning books which prove there are no gods. Euripides the tragedian durst not openly declare his sentiment; the court of Areopagus terrified him. Yet he sufficiently manifested his thoughts by this method. He presented in his tragedy Sisyphus, the first and great patron of this opinion, and introduced himself as one agreeing with him:—
Disorder in those days did domineer,
And brutal power kept the world in fear.
Afterwards by the sanction of laws wickedness was suppressed; but by reason that laws could prohibit only public villanies, yet could not hinder many persons from acting secret impieties, some wise persons gave this advice, that we ought to blind truth with lying disguises, and persuade men that there is a God:—
There’s an eternal God does hear and see
And understand every impiety;
Though it in dark recess or thought committed be.
But this poetical fable ought to be rejected, he thought, along with Callimachus, who thus saith:—
If you believe a God, it must be meant
That you conceive this God omnipotent.
But God cannot do everything; for, if it were so, then a God could make snow black, and the fire cold, and him that is in a posture of sitting to be upright, and so on the contrary. The brave-speaking Plato pronounceth that God formed the world after his own image; but this smells rank of the old dotages, old comic writers would say; for how did God, casting his eye upon himself, frame this universe? Or how can God be spherical, and be inferior to man?
Anaxagoras avers that bodies did consist from all eternity, but the divine intellect did reduce them into their proper orders, and effected the origination of all beings. But Plato did not suppose that the primary bodies had their consistence and repose, but that they were moved confusedly and in disorder; but God, knowing that order was better than confusion, did digest them into the best methods. Both these were equally peccant; for both suppose God to be the great moderator of human affairs and for that cause to have formed this present world; when it is apparent that an immortal and blessed being, replenished with all his glorious excellencies, and not at all obnoxious to any sort of evil, but being wholly occupied with his own felicity and immortality, would not employ himself with the concerns of men; for certainly miserable is the being which, like a laborer or artificer, is molested by the troubles and cares which the forming and governing of this world must give him. Add to this, that the God whom these men profess was either not at all existing before this present world (when bodies were either reposed or in a disordered motion), or that at that time God did either sleep, or else was in a constant watchfulness, or that he did neither of these. Now neither the first nor the second can be entertained, because they suppose God to be eternal; if God from eternity was in a continual sleep, he was in an eternal death — and what is death but an eternal sleep? — but no sleep can affect a deity, for the immortality of God and alliance to death are vastly different. But if God was in a continual vigilance, either there was something wanting to make him happy, or else his beatitude was perfectly complete; but according to neither of these can God be said to be blessed; not according to the first, for if there be any deficiency there is no perfect bliss; not according to the second, for, if there be nothing wanting to the felicity of God, it must be a needless enterprise for him to busy himself in human affairs. And how can it be supposed that God administers by his own providence human concerns, when to vain and trifling persons prosperous things happen, to great and high adverse? Agamemnon was both
A virtuous prince, for warlike acts renowned,
(“Iliad,” iii. 179.)
and by an adulterer and adulteress was vanquished and perfidiously slain. Hercules, after he had freed the life of man from many things that were pernicious to it, perished by the witchcraft and poison of Deianira.
Thales said that the intelligence of the world was God.
Anaximander concluded that the stars were heavenly deities.
Democritus said that God, being a globe of fire, is the intelligence and the soul of the world.
Pythagoras says that, of his principles, unity is God; and the good, which is indeed the nature of a unity, is mind itself; but the binary number, which is infinite, is a daemon, and evil, — about which the multitude of material beings and this visible world are related.
Socrates and Plato agree that God is that which is one, hath its original from its own self, is of a singular subsistence, is one only being perfectly good; all these various names signifying goodness do all centre in mind; hence God is to be understood as that mind and intellect, which is a separate idea, that is to say, pure and unmixed of all matter, and not mingled with anything subject to passions.
Aristotle’s sentiment is, that God hath his residence in superior regions, and hath placed his throne in the sphere of the universe, and is a separate idea; which sphere is an ethereal body, which is by him styled the fifth essence or quintessence. For there is a division of the universe into spheres, which are contiguous by their nature but appear to reason to be separated; and he concludes that each of the spheres is an animal, composed of a body and soul; the body of them is ethereal, moved orbicularly, the soul is the rational form, which is unmoved, and yet is the cause that the sphere is in motion.
The Stoics affirm that God is a thing more common and obvious, and is a mechanic fire which every way spreads itself to produce the world; it contains in itself all seminal virtues, and by this means all things by a fatal necessity were produced. This spirit, passing through the whole world, received different names from the mutations in the matter through which it ran in its journey. God therefore is the world, the stars, the earth, and (highest of all) the mind in the heavens. In the judgment of Epicurus all the gods are anthropomorphites, or have the shape of men; but they are perceptible only by reason, for their nature admits of no other manner of being apprehended, their parts being so small and fine that they give no corporeal representations. The same Epicurus asserts that there are four other natural beings which are immortal: of this sort are atoms, the vacuum, the infinite, and the similar parts; and these last are called Homoeomeries and likewise elements.
Having treated of the essence of the deities in a just order, it follows that we discourse of daemons and heroes. Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, and the Stoics do conclude that daemons are essences endowed with souls; that the heroes are the souls separated from their bodies, some are good, some are bad; the good are those whose souls are good, the evil those whose souls are wicked. All this is rejected by Epicurus.
Matter is that first being which is substrate for generation, corruption, and all other alterations.
The disciples of Thales and Pythagoras, with the Stoics, are of opinion that matter is changeable, mutable, convertible, and sliding through all things.
The followers of Democritus aver that the vacuum, the atom, and the incorporeal substance are the first beings, and not obnoxious to passions.
Aristotle and Plato affirm that matter is of that species which is corporeal, void of any form, species, figure, and quality, but apt to receive all forms, that she may be the nurse, the mother, and origin of all other beings. But they that do say that water, earth, air, and fire are matter do likewise say that matter cannot be without form, but conclude it is a body; but they that say that individual particles and atoms are matter do say that matter is without form.
An idea is a being incorporeal, not subsisting by itself, but gives figure unto shapeless matter, and becomes the cause of its phenomena.
Socrates and Plato conjecture that these ideas are beings separate from matter, subsisting in the understanding and imagination of the deity, that is, of mind.
Aristotle accepted forms and ideas; but he doth not believe them separated from matter, or patterns of the things God has made.
Those Stoics, that are of the school of Zeno, profess that ideas are nothing else but the conceptions of our own mind.
A cause is that by which anything is produced, or by which anything is effected.
Plato gives this triple division of causes — the material, the efficient, and the final cause; the principal cause he judges to be the efficient, which is the mind and intellect.
Pythagoras and Aristotle judge the first causes are incorporeal beings, but those that are causes by accident or participation become corporeal substances; by this means the world is corporeal.
The Stoics grant that all causes are corporeal, inasmuch as they are physical.
A body is that being which hath these three dimensions, breadth, depth, and length; — or a bulk which makes a sensible resistance; — or whatsoever of its own nature possesseth a place.
Plato saith that it is neither heavy nor light in its own nature, when it exists in its own place; but being in the place where another should be, then it has an inclination by which it tends to gravity or levity.
Aristotle saith that, if we simply consider things in their own nature, the earth only is to be judged heavy, and fire light; but air and water are on occasions heavy and at other times light.
The Stoics think that of the four elements two are light, fire and air; two ponderous, earth and water; that which is naturally light doth by its own nature, not by any inclination, recede from its own centre; but that which is heavy doth by its own nature tend to its centre; for the centre is not a heavy thing in itself.
Epicurus thinks that bodies are not limited; but the first bodies, which are simple bodies, and all those composed of them, all acknowledge gravity; that all atoms are moved, some perpendicularly, some obliquely; some are carried aloft either by immediate impulse or with vibrations.
Empedocles, before the four elements, introduceth the most minute bodies which resemble elements; but they did exist before the elements, having similar parts and orbicular.
Heraclitus brings in the smallest fragments, and those indivisible.
A figure is the exterior appearance, the circumscription, and the boundary of a body.
The Pythagoreans say that the bodies of the four elements are spherical, fire being in the supremest place only excepted, whose figure is conical.
Color is the visible quality of a body.
The Pythagoreans called color the external appearance of a body. Empedocles, that which is consentaneous to the passages of the eye. Plato, that they are fires emitted from bodies, which have parts harmonious for the sight. Zeno the Stoic, that colors are the first figurations of matter. The Pythagoreans, that colors are of four sorts, white and black, red and pale; and they derive the variety of colors from the mixtures of the elements, and that seen in animals also from the variety of food and the air.
The disciples of Thales and Pythagoras grant that all bodies are passible and divisible into infinity. Others hold that atoms and indivisible parts are there fixed, and admit not of a division into infinity. Aristotle, that all bodies are potentially but not actually divisible into infinity.
The ancient philosophers held that the mixture of elements proceeded from the alteration of qualities; but the disciples of Anaxagoras and Democritus say it is done by apposition. Empedocles composes the elements of still minuter bulks, those which are the most minute and may be termed the element of elements. Plato assigns three bodies (but he will not allow these to be elements, nor properly so called), air, fire, and water, which are mutable into one another; but the earth is mutable into none of these.
All the natural philosophers from Thales to Plato rejected a vacuum. Empedocles says that there is nothing of a vacuity in Nature, nor anything superabundant. Leucippus, Democritus, Demetrius, Metrodorus, Epicurus, that the atoms are in number infinite; and that a vacuum is infinite in magnitude. The Stoics, that within the compass of the world there is no vacuum, but beyond it the vacuum is infinite. Aristotle, that the vacuum beyond the world is so great that the heaven has liberty to breathe into it, for the heaven is fiery.
Plato, to define place, calls it that thing which in its own bosom receives forms and ideas; by which metaphor he denotes matter, being (as it were) a nurse or receptacle of beings. Aristotle, that it is the ultimate superficies of the circumambient body, contiguous to that which it doth encompass.
The Stoics and Epicureans make a place, a vacuum, and space to differ. A vacuum is that which is void of anything that may be called a body; place is that which is possessed by a body; a space that which is partly filled with a body, as a cask with wine.
In the sense of Pythagoras, time is that sphere which encompasses the world. Plato says that it is a movable image of eternity, or the interval of the world’s motion.
Eratosthenes, that it is the solar motion.
Plato says that the heavenly motion is time. Most of the Stoics that motion is time. Most philosophers think that time had no commencement; Plato, that time had only in intelligence a beginning.
Plato and Pythagoras say that motion is a difference and alteration in matter. Aristotle, that it is the actual operation of that which may be moved. Democritus, that there is but one sort of motion, and it is that which is vibratory. Epicurus, that there are two species of motion, one perpendicular, and the other oblique. Herophilus, that one species of motion is obvious only to reason, the other to sense. Heraclitus utterly denies that there is anything of quiet or repose in nature; for that is the state of the dead; one sort of motion is eternal, which he assigns to beings eternal, the other perishable, to those things which are perishable.
Parmenides Melissus, and Zeno deny that there are any such things as generation and corruption, for they suppose that the universe is unmovable. Empedocles, Epicurus, and other philosophers that combine in this, that the world is framed of small corporeal particles meeting together, affirm that corruption and generation are not so properly to be accepted; but there are conjunctions and separations, which do not consist in any distinction according to their qualities, but are made according to quantity by coalition or disjunction. Pythagoras, and all those who take for granted that matter is subject to mutation, say that generation and corruption are to be accepted in their proper sense, and that they are accomplished by the alteration, mutation, and dissolution of elements.
Thales says that necessity is omnipotent, and that it exerciseth an empire over everything. Pythagoras, that the world is invested by necessity. Parmenides and Democritus, that there is nothing in the world but what is necessary, and that this same necessity is otherwise called fate, justice, providence, and the architect of the world.
But Plato distinguisheth and refers some things to Providence, others to necessity. Empedocles makes the nature of necessity to be that cause which employs principles and elements. Democritus makes it to be a resistance, impulse, and force of matter. Plato sometimes says that necessity is matter; at other times, that it is the habitude or respect of the efficient cause towards matter.
Heraclitus, who attributes all things to fate, makes necessity to be the same thing with it. Plato admits of a necessity in the minds and the acts of men, but yet he introduceth a cause which flows from ourselves. The Stoics, in this agreeing with Plato, say that necessity is a cause invincible and violent; that fate is the ordered complication of causes, in which there is an intexture of those things which proceed from our own determination, so that certain things are to be attributed to fate, others not.
According to Heraclitus, the essence of fate is a certain reason which penetrates the substance of all being; and this is an ethereal body, containing in itself that seminal faculty which gives an original to every being in the universe. Plato affirms that it is the eternal reason and the eternal law of the nature of the world. Chrysippus, that it is a spiritual faculty, which in due order doth manage and rule the universe. Again, in his book styled the “Definitions,” that fate is the reason of the world, or that it is that law whereby Providence rules and administers everything that is in the world; or it is that reason by which all things have been, all things are, and all things will be produced. The Stoics say that it is a chain of causes, that is, it is an order and connection of causes which cannot be resisted. Posidonius, that it is a being the third in degree from Jupiter; the first of beings is Jupiter, the second Nature, and the third Fate.
Plato says, that it is an accidental cause and a casual consequence in things which proceed from the election and counsel of men. Aristotle, that it is an accidental cause in those things done by an impulse for a certain end; and this cause is uncertain and unstable: there is a great deal of difference betwixt that which flows from chance and that which falls out by Fortune; for that which is fortuitous allows also chance, and belongs to things practical; but what is by chance cannot be also by Fortune, for it belongs to things without action: Fortune, moreover, pertains to rational beings, but chance to rational and irrational beings alike, and even to inanimate things. Epicurus, that it is a cause not always consistent, but various as to persons, times, and manners. Anaxagoras and the Stoics, that it is that cause which human reason cannot comprehend; for there are some things which proceed from necessity, some things from Fate, some from choice and free-will, some from Fortune, some from chance.
Empedocles affirms that Nature is nothing else but the mixture and separation of the elements; for thus he writes in the first book of his natural philosophy:—
Nature gives neither life nor death,
Mutation makes us die or breathe.
The elements first are mixed, then each
Do part: this Nature is in mortal speech.
Anaxagoras is of the same opinion, that Nature is coalition and separation, that is, generation and corruption.
Having finished my dissertation concerning principles and elements and those things which chiefly appertain to them, I will turn my pen to discourse of those things which are produced by them, and will take my beginning from the world, which contains and encompasseth all beings.
Pythagoras was the first philosopher that called the world [Greek omitted], from the order and beauty of it; for so that word signifies. Thales and his followers say the world is one. Democritus, Epicurus, and their scholar Metrodorus affirm that there are infinite worlds in an infinite space, for that infinite vacuum in its whole extent contains them. Empedocles, that the circle which the sun makes in its motion circumscribes the world, and that circle is the utmost bound of the world. Seleucus, that the world knows no limits. Diogenes, that the universe is infinite, but this world is finite. The Stoics make a difference between that which is called the universe, and that which is called the whole world; — the universe is the infinite space considered with the vacuum, the vacuity being removed gives the right conception of the world; so that the universe and the world are not the same thing.
The Stoics say that the figure of the world is spherical, others that it is conical, others oval. Epicurus, that the figure of the world may be globular, or that it may admit of other shapes.
Democritus, Epicurus, and those philosophers who introduced atoms and a vacuum, affirm that the world is not an animal, nor governed by any wise Providence, but that it is managed by a nature which is void of reason. All the other philosophers affirm that the world is informed with a soul, and governed by reason and Providence. Aristotle is excepted, who is somewhat different; he is of opinion, that the whole world is not acted by a soul in every part of it, nor hath it any sensitive, rational, or intellectual faculties, nor is it directed by reason and Providence in every part of it; of all which the heavenly bodies are made partakers, for the circumambient spheres are animated and are living beings; but those things which are about the earth are void of those endowments; and though those terrestrial bodies are of an orderly disposition, yet that is casual and not primogenial.
Pythagoras [and Plato], agreeing with the Stoics, affirm that the world was framed by God, and being corporeal is obvious to the senses, and in its own nature is obnoxious to destruction; but it shall never perish, it being preserved by the providence of God. Epicurus, that the world had a beginning, and so shall have an end, as plants and animals have. Xenophanes, that the world never had a beginning, is eternal and incorruptible. Aristotle, that the part of the world which is sublunary is subject to change, and there terrestrial beings find a decay.
Aristotle says that, if the world be nourished, it will likewise be dissolved; but it requires no aliment, and will therefore be eternal. Plato, that this very world prepares for itself a nutriment, by the alteration of those things which are corruptible in it. Philolaus affirms that a destruction happens to the world in two ways; either by fire failing from heaven, or by the sublunary water being poured down through the whirling of the air; and the exhalations proceeding from thence are aliment of the world.
The natural philosophers pronounce that the forming of this world took its original from the earth, it being its centre, for the centre is the principal part of the globe. Pythagoras, from the fire and the fifth element. Empedocles determines, that the first and principal element distinct from the rest was the aether, then fire, after that the earth, which earth being strongly compacted by the force of a potent revolution, water springs from it, the exhalations of which water produce the air; the heaven took its origin from the aether, and fire gave a being to the sun; those things nearest to the earth are condensed from the remainders. Plato, that the visible world was framed after the exemplar of the intellectual world; the soul of the visible world was first produced, then the corporeal figure, first that which proceeded from fire and earth, then that which came from air and water. Pythagoras, that the world was formed of five solid figures which are called mathematical; the earth was produced by the cube, the fire by the pyramid, the air by the octahedron, the water by the icosahedron, and the globe of the universe by the dodecahedron. In all these Plato hath the same sentiments with Pythagoras.
Parmenides maintains that there are small coronets alternately twisted one within another, some made up of a thin, others of a condensed, matter; and there are others between mixed mutually together of light and of darkness, and around them all there is a solid substance, which like a firm wall surrounds these coronets. Leucippus and Democritus cover the world round about, as with a garment and membrane. Epicurus says that that which abounds some worlds is thin, and that which limits others is gross and condensed; and of these spheres some are in motion, others are fixed. Plato, that fire takes the first place in the world, the second the aether, after that the air, under that the water; the last place the earth possesseth: sometimes he puts the aether and the fire in the same place. Aristotle gives the first place to the aether, as that which is impassible, it being a kind of a fifth body after which he placeth those that are passible, fire, air, and water, and last of all the earth. To those bodies that are accounted celestial he assigns a motion that is circular, but to those that are seated under them, if they be light bodies, an ascending, if heavy, a descending motion. Empedocles, that the places of the elements are not always fixed and determined, but they all succeed one another in their respective stations.
Diogenes and Anaxagoras state that, after the world was composed and had produced living creatures, the world out of its own propensity made an inclination toward the south. Perhaps this may be attributed to a wise Providence (they affirm), that thereby some parts of the world may be habitable, others uninhabitable, according as the various climates are affected with a rigorous cold, or a scorching heat, or a just temperament of cold and heat. Empedocles, that the air yielding to the impetuous force of the solar rays, the poles received an inclination; whereby the northern parts were exalted and the southern depressed, by which means the whole world received its inclination.
Pythagoras and his followers say that beyond the world there is a vacuum, into which and out of which the world hath its respiration. The Stoics, that there is a vacuum into which infinite space by a conflagration shall be dissolved. Posidonius, not an infinite vacuum, but as much as suffices for the dissolution of the world; and this he asserts in his first book concerning the Vacuum. Aristotle affirms, that a vacuum does not exist. Plato concludes that neither within nor without the world there is any vacuum.
Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle declare that the eastern parts of the world, from whence motion commences, are of the right, those of the western are of the left hand of the world. Empedocles, that those that are of the right hand face the summer solstice, those of the left the winter solstice.
Anaximenes affirms that the circumference of heaven makes the limit of the earth’s revolution. Empedocles, that the heaven is a solid substance, and hath the form and hardness of crystal, it being composed of the air compacted by fire, and that in both hemispheres it invests the elements of air and fire. Aristotle, that it is formed by the fifth body, and by the mixture of extreme heat and cold.
Thales, Pythagoras, and the followers of Pythagoras do distribute the universal globe of heaven into five circles, which they denominate zones; one of which is called the arctic circle, which is always conspicuous to us, another is the summer tropic, another is the solstice, another is the winter tropic, another is the antarctic circle, which is always out of sight. The circle called the zodiac is placed under the three that are in the midst, and is oblique, gently touching them all. Likewise, they are all divided in right angles by the meridian, which goes from pole to pole. It is supposed that Pythagoras made the first discovery of the obliquity of the zodiac, but one Oenopides of Chios challenges to himself the invention of it.
Thales affirms that they are globes of earth set on fire. Empedocles, that they are fiery bodies arising from that fire which the aether embraced within itself, and did shatter in pieces when the elements were first separated one from another. Anaxagoras, that the circumambient aether is of a fiery substance, which, by a vehement force in its whirling about, did tear stones from the earth, and by its own power set them on fire, and establish them as stars in the heavens. Diogenes thinks they resemble pumice stones, and that they are the breathings of the world; again he supposeth that there are some invisible stones, which fall sometimes from heaven upon the earth, and are there quenched; as it happened at Aegos-potami, where a stony star resembling fire did fall. Empedocles, that the fixed stars fastened to the crystal, but the planets are loosened. Plato, that the stars for the most part are of a fiery nature, but they are made partakers of another element, with they are mixed after the resemblance of glue. Zenophanes, that they are composed of inflamed clouds, which in the daytime are quenched, and in the night are kindled again. The like we see in coals; for the rising and setting of the stars is nothing else but the quenching and kindling of them. Heraclitus and the Pythagoreans, that every star is a world in an infinite aether, and encompasseth air, earth, and aether; this opinion is current among the disciples of Orpheus, for they suppose that each of the stars does make a world. Epicurus condemns none of these opinions, for he embraces anything that is possible.
The Stoics say that the stars are of a circular form, like as the sun, the moon, and the world. Cleanthes, that they are of a conical figure. Anaximenes, that they are fastened as nails in the crystalline firmament; some others, that they are fiery plates of gold, resembling pictures.
Xenocrates says that the stars are moved in one and the same superficies. The other Stoics say that they are moved in various superficies, some being superior, others inferior. Democritus, that the fixed stars are in the highest place; after those the planets; after these the sun, Venus, and the moon, in order. Plato, that the first after the fixed stars that makes its appearance is Phaenon, the star of Saturn; the second Phaeton, the star of Jupiter; the third the fiery, which is the star of Mars; the fourth the morning star, which is the star of Venus; the fifth the shining star, and that is the star of Mercury; in the sixth place is the sun, in the seventh the moon. Plato and some of the mathematicians conspire in the same opinion; others place the sun as the centre of the planets. Anaximander, Metrodorus of Chios, and Crates assign to the sun the superior place, after him the moon, after them the fixed stars and planets.
Anaxagoras, Democritus, and Cleanthes say that all the stars have their motion from east to west. Alcmaeon and the mathematicians, that the planets have a contrary motion to the fixed stars, and in opposition to them are carried from the west to the east. Anaximander, that they are carried by those circles and spheres on which they are placed. Anaximenes, that they are turned under and about the earth. Plato and the mathematicians, that the sun, Venus, and Mercury hold equal measures in their motions.
Metrodorus says that all the fixed stars derive their light from the sun. Heraclitus and the Stoics, that earthly exhalations are those by which the stars are nourished. Aristotle, that the heavenly bodies require no nutriment, for they being eternal cannot be obnoxious to corruption. Plato and the Stoics, that the whole world and the stars are fed by the same things.
Xenophanes says that those which appear as stars in the tops of ships are little clouds brilliant by their peculiar motion. Metrodorus, that the eyes of frighted and astonished people emit those lights which are called the Twins.
Plato says that the summer and winter indications proceed from the rising and setting of the stars, that is, from the rising and setting of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars. Anaximenes, that the rest in this are not at all concerned, but that it is wholly performed by the sun. Eudoxus and Aratus assign it in common to all the stars, for thus Aratus says:—
Thund’ring Jove stars in heaven hath fixed,
And them in such beauteous order mixed,
Which yearly future things predict.
Anaximander says, that the sun is a circle eight and twenty times bigger than the earth, and has a circumference very much like that of a chariot-wheel, which is hollow and full of fire; the fire of which appears to us through its mouth, as by an aperture in a pipe; and this is the sun. Xenophanes, that the sun is constituted of small bodies of fire compacted together and raised from a moist exhalation, which condensed make the body of the sun; or that it is a cloud enfired. The Stoics, that it is an intelligent flame proceeding from the sea. Plato, that it is composed of abundance of fire. Anaxagoras, Democritus, and Metrodorus, that it is an enfired stone, or a burning body. Aristotle, that it is a sphere formed out of the fifth body. Philolaus the Pythagorean, that the sun shines as crystal, which receives its splendor from the fire of the world and so reflecteth its light upon us; so that first, the body of fire which is celestial is in the sun; and secondly, the fiery reflection that comes from it, in the form of a mirror; and lastly, the rays spread upon us by way of reflection from that mirror; and this last we call the sun, which is (as it were) an image of an image. Empedocles, that there are two suns; the one the prototype, which is a fire placed in the other hemisphere, which it totally fills, and is always ordered in a direct opposition to the reflection of its own light; and the sun which is visible to us, formed by the reflection of that splendor in the other hemisphere (which is filled with air mixed with heat), the light reflected from the circular sun in the opposite hemisphere falling upon the crystalline sun; and this reflection is borne round with the motion of the fiery sun. To give briefly the full sense, the sun is nothing else but the light and brightness of that fire which encompasseth the earth. Epicurus, that it is an earthy bulk well compacted, with ores like a pumice-stone or a sponge, kindled by fire.
Anaximander says, that the sun itself in greatness is equal to the earth, but that the circle from whence it receives its respiration and in which it is moved is seven and twenty times larger than the earth. Anaxagoras, that it is far greater than Peloponnesus. Heraclitus, that it is no broader than a man’s foot. Epicurus, that he equally embraceth all the foresaid opinions — that the sun may be of magnitude as it appears, or it may be somewhat greater or somewhat less.
Anaximenes affirms that in its dilatation it resembles a leaf. Heraclitus, that it hath the shape of a boat, and is somewhat crooked. The Stoics, that it is spherical, and it is of the same figure with the world and the stars. Epicurus, that the recited dogmas may be defended.
Anaximenes believes that the stars are forced by a condensed and resisting air. Anaxagoras, by the repelling force of the northern air, which is violently pushed on by the sun, and thus rendered more condensed and powerful. Empedocles, that the sun is hindered from a continual direct course by its spherical vehicle and by the two circular tropics. Diogenes, that the sun, when it comes to its utmost declination, is extinguished, a rigorous cold damping the heat. The Stoics, that the sun maintains its course only through that space in which its sustenance is seated, let it be the ocean or the earth; by the exhalations proceeding from these it is nourished. Plato, Pythagoras, and Aristotle, that the sun receives a transverse motion from the obliquity of the zodiac, which is guarded by the tropics; all these the globe clearly manifests.
Thales was the first who affirmed that the eclipse of the sun was caused by the moon’s running in a perpendicular line between it and the world; for the moon in its own nature is terrestrial. And by mirrors it is made perspicuous that, when the sun is eclipsed, the moon is in a direct line below it. Anaximander, that the sun is eclipsed when the fiery mouth of it is stopped and hindered from respiration. Heraclitus, that it is after the manner of the turning of a boat, when the concave seems uppermost to our sight, and the convex nethermost. Xenophanes, that the sun is eclipsed when it is extinguished; and that a new sun is created and rises in the east. He gives a farther account of an eclipse of the sun which remained for a whole month, and again of an eclipse which changed the day into night. Some declare that the cause of an eclipse is the invisible concourse of condensed clouds which cover the orb of the sun. Aristarchus placeth the sun amongst the fixed stars, and believeth that the earth [the moon?] is moved about the sun, and that by its inclination and vergency it intercepts its light and shadows its orb. Xenophanes, that there are many suns and many moons, according as the earth is distinguished by climates, circles, and zones. At some certain times the orb of the sun, falling upon some part of the world which is untenanted, wanders in a vacuum and becomes eclipsed. The same person affirms that the sun proceeding in its motion in the infinite space, appears to us to move orbicularly, taking that representation from its infinite distance from us.
Anaximander affirms that the circle of the moon is nineteen times bigger than the earth, and resembles the sun, its orb being full of fire; and it suffers an eclipse when the wheel makes a revolution, — which he describes by the divers turnings of a chariot-wheel, in the midst of it there being a hollow nave replenished with fire, which hath but one way of expiration. Xenophanes, that it is a condensed cloud. The Stoics, that it is mixed of fire and air. Plato, that it is a body of the greatest part fiery. Anaxagoras and Democritus, that it is a solid, condensed, and fiery body, in which there are flat countries, mountains, and valleys. Heraclitus, that it is an earth covered with a bright cloud. Pythagoras, that the body of the moon was of a nature resembling a mirror.
The Stoics declare, that in magnitude it exceeds the earth, just as the sun itself doth. Parmenides, that it is equal to the sun, from whom it receives its light.
The Stoics believe that it is of the same figure with the sun, spherical. Empedocles, that the figure of it resembles a quoit. Heraclitus, a boat. Others, a cylinder.
Anaximander thinks that she gives light to herself, but it is very slender and faint. Antiphon, that the moon shines by its own proper light; but when it absconds itself, the solar beams darting on it obscure it. Thus it naturally happens, that a more vehement light puts out a weaker; the same is seen in other stars. Thales and his followers, that the moon borrows all her light of the sun. Heraclitus, that the sun and moon are after the same manner affected; in their configurations both are shaped like boats, and are made conspicuous to us by receiving their light from moist exhalations. The sun appears to us more refulgent, by reason it is moved in a clearer and purer air; the moon appears more duskish, it being carried in an air more troubled and gross.
Anaximenes believes that the mouth of the wheel, about which the moon is turned, being stopped is the cause of an eclipse. Berasus, that it proceeds from the turning of the dark side of the lunar orb towards us. Heraclitus, that it is performed just after the manner of a boat turned upside downwards. Some of the Pythagoreans say, that the splendor arises from the earth, its obstruction from the Antichthon (or counter-earth). Some of the later philosophers, that there is such a distribution of the lunar flame, that it gradually and in a just order burns until it be full moon; in like manner, that this fire decays by degrees, until its conjunction with the sun totally extinguisheth it. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and all the mathematicians agree, that the obscurity with which the moon is every month affected ariseth from a conjunction with the sun, by whose more resplendent beams she is darkened; and the moon is then eclipsed when she falls upon the shadow of the earth, the earth interposing between the sun and moon, or (to speak more properly) the earth intercepting the light of the moon.
The Pythagoreans say, that the moon appears to us terraneous, by reason it is inhabited as our earth is, and in it there are animals of a larger size and plants of a rarer beauty than our globe affords; that the animals in their virtue and energy are fifteen degrees superior to ours; that they emit nothing excrementitious; and that the days are fifteen times longer. Anaxagoras, that the reason of the inequality ariseth from the commixture of things earthy and cold; and that fiery and caliginous matter is jumbled together, whereby the moon is said to be a star of a counterfeit aspect. The Stoics, that on account of the diversity of her substance the composition of her body is subject to corruption.
Empedocles declares, that the distance of the moon from the sun is double her remoteness from the earth. The mathematicians, that her distance from the sun is eighteen times her distance from the earth. Eratosthenes, that the sun is remote from the earth seven hundred and eighteen thousand furlongs.
The year of Saturn is completed when he has had his circulation in the space of thirty solar years; of Jupiter in twelve; of Mars in two, of the sun in twelve months; in so many Mercury and Venus, the spaces of their circulation being equal; of the moon in thirty days, in which time her course from her prime to her conjunction is finished. As to the great year, some make it to consist of eight years solar, some of nineteen, others of fifty-nine. Heraclitus, of eighteen thousand. Diogenes, of three hundred and sixty-five such years as Heraclitus assigns. Others there are who lengthen it to seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven years.
In my two precedent treatises having in due order taken a compendious view and given an account of the celestial bodies, and of the moon which stands between them and the terrestrial, I must now convert my pen to discourse in this third book of Meteors, which are beings above the earth and below the moon, and are extended to the site and situation of the earth, which is supposed to be the centre of the sphere of this world; and from thence will I take my beginning.
It is a cloudy circle, which continually appears in the air, and by reason of the whiteness of its colors is called the galaxy, or the milky way. Some of the Pythagoreans say that, when Phaeton set the world on fire, a star falling from its own place in its circular passage through the region caused an inflammation. Others say that originally it was the first course of the sun; others, that it is an image as in a looking-glass, occasioned by the sun’s reflecting its beams towards the heavens, and this appears in the clouds and in the rainbow. Metrodorus, that it is merely the solar course, or the motion of the sun in its own circle. Parmenides, that the mixture of a thick and thin substance gives it a color which resembles milk. Anaxagoras, that the sun moving under the earth and not being able to enlighten every place, the shadow of the earth, being cast upon the part of the heavens, makes the galaxy. Democritus, that it is the splendor which ariseth from the coalition of many small bodies, which, being firmly united amongst themselves, do mutually enlighten one another. Aristotle, that it is the inflammation of dry, copious, and coherent vapor, by which the fiery mane, whose seat is beneath the aether and the planets, is produced. Posidonius, that it is a combination of fire, of finer substance than the stars, but denser than light.
Some of the Pythagoreans say, that a comet is one of those stars which do not always appear, but after they have run through their determined course, they then rise and are visible to us. Others, that it is the reflection of our sight upon the sun, which gives the resemblance of comets much after the same manner as images are reflected in mirrors. Anaxagoras and Democritus, that two or more stars being in conjunction by their united light make a comet. Aristotle, that it is a fiery coalition of dry exhalations. Strato, that it is the light of the star darting through a thick cloud that hath invested it; this is seen in light shining through lanterns. Heraclides, native of Pontus, that it is a lofty cloud inflamed by a sublime fire. The like causes he assigns to the bearded comet, to those circles that are seen about the sun or stars, or those meteors which resemble pillars or beams, and all others which are of this kind. This way unanimously go all the Peripatetics, holding that these meteors, being formed by the clouds, do differ according to their various configurations. Epigenes, that a comet arises from a rising of spirit or wind, mixed with an earthy substance and set on fire. Boethus, that it is a phantasy presented to us by fiery air. Diogenes, that comets are stars. Anaxagoras, that those styled shooting stars descend from the aether like sparks, and therefore are soon extinguished. Metrodorus, that it is a forcible illapse of the sun upon clouds which makes them to sparkle as fire. Xenophanes, that all such fiery meteors are nothing else but the conglomeration of the enfired clouds, and the flashing motions of them.
Anaximander affirms that all these are produced by the wind after this manner: the wind being enclosed by condensed clouds, on account of its minuteness and lightness violently endeavors to make a passage; and in breaking through the cloud gives noise; and the tearing the cloud, because of the blackness of it, gives a resplendent flame. Metrodorus, that when the wind falls upon a cloud whose densing firmly compacts it, by breaking the cloud it causeth a great noise, and by striking and rending the cloud it gives the flame; and in the swiftness of its motion, the sun imparting heat to it, it throws out the bolt. The weak declining of the thunderbolt ends in a violent tempest. Anaxagoras, that when heat and cold meet and are mixed together (that is, ethereal parts with airy), thereby a great noise of thunder is produced, and the color observed against the blackness of the cloud occasions the flashing of fire; the full and great splendor is lightning, the more enlarged and embodied fire becomes a whirlwind, the cloudiness of it gives the hurricane. The Stoics, that thunder is the clashing of clouds one upon another, the flash of lightning is their fiery inflammation; their more rapid splendor is the thunderbolt, the faint and weak the whirlwind. Aristotle, that all these proceed from dry exhalations, which, if they meet with moist vapors, forcing their passage, the breaking of them gives the noise of thunder; they, being very dry, take fire and make lightning; tempests and hurricanes arise from the plenitude of matter which each draw to themselves, the hotter parts attracted make the whirlwinds, the duller the tempests.
Anaximenes thinks that the air by being very much condensed clouds are formed; this air being more compacted, rain is compressed through it; when water in its falling down freezeth, then snow is generated; when it is encompassed with a moist air, it is hail. Metrodorus, that a cloud is composed of a watery exhalation carried into a higher place. Epicurus, that they are made of vapors; and that hail and snow are formed in a round figure, being in their long descent pressed upon by the circumambient air.
Those things which affect the air in the superior places of it are of two sorts. Some have a real subsistence, such are rain and hail; others not. Those which enjoy not a proper subsistence are only in appearance; of this sort is the rainbow. Thus the continent to us that sail seems to be in motion.
Plato says, that men admiring it feigned that it took origination from one Thaumas, which word signifies admiration. Homer sings:—
Jove paints the rainbow with a purple dye,
Alluring man to cast his wandering eye.
(Iliad, xvii. 547.)
Others therefore fabled that the bow hath a head like a bull, by which it swallows up rivers.
But what is the cause of the rainbow? It is evident that what apparent things we see come to our eyes in right or in crooked lines, or by refraction: these are incorporeal and to sense obscure, but to reason they are obvious. Those which are seen in right lines are those which we see through the air or horn or transparent stones, for all the parts of these things are very fine and tenuous; but those which appear in crooked lines are in water, the thickness of the water presenting them bended to our sight. This is the reason that oars in themselves straight, when put into the sea, appear to us crooked. The third manner of our seeing is by refraction, and this is perspicuous in mirrors. After this third sort the rainbow is affected. We conceive it is a moist exhalation converted into a cloud, and in a short space it is dissolved into small and moist drops. The sun declining towards the west, it will necessarily follow that the whole bow is seen opposite to the sun; for the eye being directed to those drops receives a refraction, and by this means the bow is formed. The eye doth not consider the figure and form, but the color of these drops; the first of which colors is a shining red, the second a purple, the third is blue and green. Let us consider whether the reason of this red shining color be the splendor of the sun falling upon these small drops, the whole body of light being refracted, by which this bright red color is produced; the second part being troubled and the light languishing in the drops, the color becomes purple (for the purple is the faint red); but the third part, being more and more troubled, is changed into the green color. And this is proved by other effects of Nature; if any one shall put water in his mouth and spit it out so opposite to the sun, that its rays may be refracted on the drops, he shall see the resemblance of a rainbow; the same appears to men that are blear-eyed, when they fix their watery eyes upon a candle. Anaximenes thinks the bow is thus formed; the sun casting its splendor upon a thick, black, and gross cloud, and the rays not being in a capacity to penetrate beyond the superficies. Anaxagoras, that, the solar rays being reflected from a condensed cloud, the sun being placed directly opposite to it forms the bow after the mode of the repercussion of a mirror; after the same manner he assigns the natural cause of the Parhelia or mock-suns, which are often seen in Pontus. Metrodorus, that when the sun casts its splendor through a cloud, the cloud gives itself a blue, and the light a red color.
These rods and the mock-suns are constituted of a double nature, a real subsistence, and a mere appearance; — of a real subsistence, because the clouds are the object of our eyes; of a mere appearance, for their proper color is not seen, but that which is adventitious. The like affections, natural and adventitious, in all such things do happen.
Anaximander believes that wind is a fluid air, the sun putting into motion or melting the moist subtle parts of it. The Stoics, that all winds are a flowing air, and from the diversity of the regions whence they have their origin receive their denomination; as, from darkness and the west the western wind; from the sun and its rising the eastern; from the north the northern, and from the south the southern winds. Metrodorus, that moist vapors heated by the sun are the cause of the impetuousness of violent winds. The Etesian, or those winds which annually commence about the rising of the Little Dog, the air about the northern pole being more compacted, blow violently following the sun when it returns from the summer solstice.
Empedocles and the Stoics believe that winter is caused by the thickness of the air prevailing and mounting upwards; and summer by fire, it falling downwards.
This description being given by me of Meteors, or those things that are above us, I must pass to those things which are terrestrial.
Thales and his followers say that there is but one earth. Hicetes the Pythagorean, that there are two earths, this and the Antichthon, or the earth opposite to it. The Stoics, that this earth is one, and that finite and limited. Xenophanes, that the earth, being compacted of fire and air, in its lowest parts hath laid a foundation in an infinite depth. Metrodorus, that the earth is mere sediment and dregs of water, as the sun is of the air.
Thales, the Stoics, and their followers say that the earth is globular. Anaximander, that it resembles a smooth stony pillar. Anaximenes, that it hath the shape of a table. Leucippus, of a drum. Democritus, that it is like a quoit externally, and hollow in the middle.
The disciples of Thales say that the earth is the centre of the universe. Xenophanes, that it is first, being rooted in the infinite space. Philolaus the Pythagorean gives to fire the middle place, and this is the source fire of the universe; the second place to the Antichthon; the third to that earth which we inhabit, which is placed in opposition unto and whirled about the opposite — which is the reason that those which inhabit that earth cannot be seen by us. Parmenides was the first that confined the habitable world to the two solstitial (or temperate) zones.
Leucippus affirms that the earth vergeth towards the southern parts, by reason of the thinness and fineness that is in the south; the northern parts are more compacted, they being congealed by a rigorous cold, but those parts of the world that are opposite are enfired. Democritus, because, the southern parts of the air being the weaker, the earth as it enlarges bends towards the south; the northern parts are of an unequal, the southern of an equal temperament; and this is the reason that the earth bends towards those parts where the earth is laden with fruits and its own increase.
Most of the philosophers say that the earth remains fixed in the same place. Philolaus the Pythagorean, that it is moved about the element of fire, in an oblique circle, after the same manner of motion that the sun and moon have. Heraclides of Pontus and Ecphantus the Pythagorean assign a motion to the earth, but not progressive, but after the manner of a wheel being carried on its own axis; thus the earth (they say) turns itself upon its own centre from west to east. Democritus, that when the earth was first formed it had a motion, the parts of it being small and light; but in process of time the parts of it were condensed, so that by its own weight it was poised and fixed.
Pythagoras says that, as the celestial sphere is distributed into five zones, into the same number is the terrestrial; which zones are the arctic and antarctic, the summer and winter tropics (or temperate zones), and the equinoctial; the middle of which zones equally divides the earth and constitutes the torrid zone; but that portion which is in between the summer and winter tropics is habitable, by reason the air is there temperate.
Thales and Democritus assign the cause of earthquakes to water. The Stoics say that it is a moist vapor contained in the earth, making an irruption into the air, that causes the earthquake. Anaximenes, that the dryness and rarity of the earth are the cause of earthquakes, the one of which is produced by extreme drought, the other by immoderate showers. Anaxagoras, that the air endeavoring to make a passage out of the earth, meeting with a thick superficies, is not able to force its way, and so shakes the circumambient earth with a trembling. Aristotle, that a cold vapor encompassing every part of the earth prohibits the evacuation of vapors; for those which are hot, being in themselves light, endeavor to force a passage upwards, by which means the dry exhalations, being left in the earth, use their utmost endeavor to make a passage out, and being wedged in, they suffer various circumvolutions and shake the earth. Metrodorus, that whatsoever is in its own place is incapable of motion, except it be pressed upon or drawn by the operation of another body; the earth being so seated cannot naturally be moved, yet divers parts and places of the earth may move one upon another. Parmenides and Democritus, that the earth being so equally poised hath no sufficient ground why it should incline more to one side than to the other; so that it may be shaken, but cannot be removed. Anaximenes, that the earth by reason of its latitude is borne upon by the air which presseth upon it. Others opine that the earth swims upon the waters, as boards and broad planks, and by that reason is moved. Plato, that motion is by six manner of ways, upwards, downwards, on the right hand and on the left, behind and before; therefore it is not possible that the earth should be moved in any of these modes, for it is altogether seated in the lowest place; it therefore cannot receive a motion, since there is nothing about it so peculiar as to cause it to incline any way; but some parts of it are so rare and thin that they are capable of motion. Epicurus, that the possibility of the earth’s motion ariseth from a thick and aqueous air under the earth, that may, by moving or pushing it, be capable of quaking; or that being so compassed, and having many passages, it is shaken by the wind which is dispersed through the hollow dens of it.
Anaximander affirms that the sea is the remainder of the primogenial humidity, the greatest part of which being dried up by the fire, the influence of the great heat altered its quality. Anaxagoras that in the beginning water did not flow, but was as a standing pool; and that it was burnt by the movement of the sun about it, by which the oily part of the water being exhaled, the residue became salt. Empedocles, that the sea is the sweat of the earth heated by the sun. Antiphon, that the sweat of that which was hot was separated from the rest which were moist; these by seething and boiling became bitter, as happens in all sweats. Metrodorus, that the sea was strained through the earth, and retained some part of its density; the same is observed in all those things which are strained through ashes. The schools of Plato, that the element of water being compacted by the rigor of the air became sweet, but that part which was expired from the earth, being enfired, became of a brackish taste.
Aristotle and Heraclides say, they proceed from the sun, which moves and whirls about the winds; and these falling with a violence upon the Atlantic, it is pressed and swells by them, by which means the sea flows; and their impression ceasing, the sea retracts, hence they ebb. Pytheas the Massilian, that the fulness of the moon gives the flow, the wane the ebb. Plato attributes it all to a certain balance of the sea, which by means of a mouth or orifice causes the tide; and by this means the seas do rise and flow alternately. Timaeus believes that those rivers which fall from the mountains of the Celtic Gaul into the Atlantic produce a tide. For upon their entering upon that sea, they violently press upon it, and so cause the flow; but they disemboguing themselves, there is a cessation of the impetuousness, by which means the ebb is produced. Seleucus the mathematician attributes a motion to the earth; and thus he pronounceth that the moon in its circumlation meets and repels the earth in its motion; between these two, the earth and the moon, there is a vehement wind raised and intercepted, which rushes upon the Atlantic Ocean, and gives us a probable argument that it is the cause the sea is troubled and moved.
The aurea or circle is thus formed. A thick and dark air intervening between the moon or any other star and our eye, by which means our sight is dilated and reflected, when now our sight falls upon the outward circumference of the orb of that star, there presently seems a circle to appear. This circle thus appearing is called the [Greek omitted] or halo; and there is constantly such a circle seen by us, when such a density of sight happens.
Having taken a survey of the general parts of the world, I will take a view of the particular members of it.
Thales conjectures that the Etesian or anniversary northern winds blowing strongly against Egypt heighten the swelling of the Nile, the mouth of that river being obstructed by the force of the sea rushing into it. Euthymenes the Massilian concludes that the Nile is filled by the ocean and that sea which is outward from it, the last being naturally sweet. Anaxagoras, that the snow in Ethiopia which is frozen in winter is melted in summer, and this makes the inundation. Democritus, that the snows which are in the northern climates when the sun enters the summer solstice are dissolved and diffused; from those vapors clouds are compacted, and these are forcibly driven by the Etesian winds into the southern parts and into Egypt, from whence violent showers are poured; and by this means the fens of Egypt are filled with water, and the river Nile hath its inundation. Herodotus the historian, that the waters of the Nile receive from their fountain an equal portion of water in winter and in summer; but in winter the water appears less, because the sun, making its approach nearer to Egypt, draws up the rivers of that country into exhalation. Ephorus the historiographer, that in summer all Egypt seems to be melted and sweats itself into water, to which the thin and sandy soils of Arabia and Lybia contribute. Eudoxus relates that the Egyptian priests affirm that, when it is summer to us who dwell under the northern tropic, it is winter with them that inhabit under the southern tropic; by this means there is a various contrariety and opposition of the seasons in the year, which cause such showers to fall as make the water to overflow the banks of the Nile and diffuse itself throughout all Egypt.
Thales first pronounced that the soul is that being which is in a perpetual motion, or that whose motion proceeds from itself. Pythagoras, that it is a number moving itself; he takes a number to be the same thing with a mind. Plato, that it is an intellectual substance moving itself, and that motion is in a numerical harmony. Aristotle, that it is the first actuality [Greek ommitted] of a natural organical body which has life potentially; and this actuality must be understood to be the same thing with energy or operation. Dicaearchus, that it is the harmony of the four elements. Asclepiades the physician, that it is the concurrent exercitation of the senses.
All those named by me do affirm that the soul itself is incorporeal, and by its own nature is in a motion, and in its own self is an intelligent substance, and the living actuality of a natural organical body. The followers of Anaxagoras, that it is airy and a body. The Stoics, that it is a hot exhalation. Democritus, that it is a fiery composition of things which are perceptible by reason alone, the same having their forms spherical and without an inflaming faculty; and it is a body. Epicurus, that it is constituted of four qualities, of a fiery quality, of an aerial quality, a pneumatical, and of a fourth quality which hath no name, but it contains the virtue of the sense. Heraclitus, that the soul of the world is the exhalation which proceeds from the moist parts of it; but the soul of animals, arising from exhalations that are exterior and from those that are within them, is homogeneous to it.
Plato and Pythagoras, according to their first account, distribute the soul into two parts, the rational and irrational. By a more accurate and strict account the soul is branched into three parts; they divide the unreasonable part into the concupiscible and the irascible. The Stoics say the soul is constituted of eight parts; five of which are the senses, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, the sixth is the faculty of speaking, the seventh of generating, the eighth of commanding; this is the principal of all, by which all the other are guided and ordered in their proper organs, as we see the eight arms of a polypus aptly disposed. Democritus and Epicurus divide the soul into two parts, the one rational, which bath its residence in the breast, and the irrational, which is diffused through the whole structure of the body. Democritus, that the quality of the soul is communicated to everything, yea, to the dead corpses; for they are partakers of heat and some sense, when the most of both is expired out of them.
Plato and Democritus place its residence in the whole head. Strato, in that part of the forehead where the eyebrows are separated. Erasiatratus, in the Epikranis, or membrane which involves the brain. Herophilus, in that sinus of the brain which is the basis of it. Parmenides, in the breast; which opinion is embraced by Epicurus. The Stoics are generally of this opinion, that the seat of the soul is throughout the heart, or in the spirit about it. Diogenes, in the arterial ventricle of the heart, which is also full of vital spirit. Empedocles, in the mass of the blood. There are that say it is in the neck of the heart, others in the pericardium, others in the midriff. Certain of the Neoterics, that the seat of the soul is extended from the head to the diaphragm. Pythagoras, that the animal part of the soul resides in the heart, the intellectual in the head.
Plato believes that the soul is in perpetual motion, but that it is immovable as regards motion from place to place. Aristotle, that the soul is not naturally moved, but its motion is accidental, resembling that which is in the forms of bodies.
Plato and Pythagoras say that the soul is immortal; when it departs out of the body, it retreats to the soul of the world, which is a being of the same nature with it. The Stoics, when the souls leave the bodies, they are carried to divers places; the souls of the unlearned and ignorant descend to the coagmentation of earthly things, but the learned and vigorous last till the general fire. Epicurus and Democritus, the soul is mortal, and it perisheth with the body. Plato and Pythagoras, that part of the soul of man which is rational is eternal; for though it be not God, yet it is the product of an eternal deity; but that part of the soul which is divested of reason dies.
The Stoics give this definition of sense: Sense is the Apprehension or comprehension of an object by means of an organ of sensation. There are several ways of expressing what sense is; it is either a habit, a faculty, an operation, or an imagination which apprehends by means of an organ of sense — and also the eighth principal thing, from whence the senses originate. The instruments of sense are intelligent exhalations, which from the said commanding part extend unto all the organs of the body. Epicurus, that sense is a faculty, and that which is perceived by the sense is the product of it; so that sense hath a double acceptation — sense which is the faculty, and the thing received by the sense, which is the effect. Plato, that sense is that commerce which the soul and body have with those things that are exterior to them; the power of which is from the soul, the organ by which is from the body; but both of them apprehend external objects by means of the imagination. Leucippus and Democritus, that sense and intelligence arise from external images; so neither of them can operate without the assistance of image falling upon us.
The Stoics say that what the senses represent is true; what the imagination, is partly false, partly true. Epicurus that every impression of the sense or imagination is true, but of those things that fall under the head of opinion, some are true, some false: sense gives us a false presentation of those things only which are the objects of our understanding; but the imagination gives us a double error, both of things sensible and things intellectual. Empedocles and Heraclides, that the senses act by a just accommodation of the pores in every case; everything that is perceived by the sense being congruously adapted to its proper organ.
The Stoics say that there are five senses properly so called, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting. and touching. Aristotle indeed doth not add a sixth sense; but he assigns a common sense, which is the judge of all compounded species; into this each sense casts its proper representation, in which is discovered a transition of one thing into another, like as we see in figure and motion where there is a change of one into another. Democritus, that there are divers species of senses, which appertain to beings destitute of reason, to the gods, and to wise men.
The Stoics affirm that every man, as soon as he is born, has a principal and commanding part of his soul, which is in him like a sheet of writing-paper, to which he commits all his notions. The first manner of his inscribing is by denoting those notions which flow from the senses. Suppose it be of a thing that is white; when the present sense of it is vanished, there is yet retained the remembrance; when many memorative notions of the same similitude do concur, then he is said to have an experience; for experience is nothing more than the abundance of notions that are of the same form met together. Some of these notions are naturally begotten according to the aforesaid manner, without the assistance of art; the others are produced by discipline, learning, and industry; these only are justly called notions, the others are prenotions. But reason, which gives us the denomination of rational, is completed by prenotions in the first seven years. The conception of the mind is the vision that the intelligence of a rational animal hath received; when that vision falls upon the rational soul, then it is called the conception of the mind, for it hath derived its name from the mind [Greek omitted] from [Greek omitted]. Therefore these visions are not to be found in any other animals; they only are appropriated to gods and to us men. If these we consider generally, they are phantasms; if specifically, they are notions. As pence or staters, if you consider them according to their own value, are simply pence and staters; but if you give them as a price for a naval voyage, they are called not merely pence, etc., but your freight.
Chrysippus affirms, these four are different one from another. Imagination is that passion raised in the soul which discovers itself and that which was the efficient of it; to use example, after the eye hath looked upon a thing that is white, the sight of which produceth in the mind a certain impression, this gives us reason to conclude that the object of this impression is white, which affecteth us. So with touching and smelling Phantasy or imagination is denominated from [Greek omitted] which denotes light; for as light discovers itself and all other things which it illuminates, so this imagination discovers itself and that which is the cause of it. The imaginable is the efficient cause of imagination; as anything that is white, or anything that is cold, or everything that may make an impression upon the imagination. Fancy is a vain impulse upon the mind of man, proceeding from nothing which is really conceivable; this is experienced in those that whirl about their idle hand and fight with shadows; for to the imagination there is always some real imaginable thing presented, which is the efficient cause of it; but to the fancy nothing. A phantom is that to which we are brought by such a fanciful and vain attraction; this is to be seen in melancholy and distracted persons. Of this sort was Orestes in the tragedy, pronouncing these words:
Mother, these maids with horror me affright;
Oh bring them not, I pray, into my sight!
They’re smeared with blood, and cruel, dragon-like,
Skipping about with deadly fury strike.
These rave as frantic persons, they see nothing, and yet imagine they see. Thence Electra thus returns to him:
0 wretched man, securely sleep in bed;
Nothing thou seest, thy fancy’s vainly led.
(Euripides, “Orestes”, 255.)
After the same manner Theoclymenus in Homer.
Democritus and Epicurus suppose that sight is caused by the insertion of little images into the visive organ, and by the reception of certain rays which return to the eye after meeting the object. Empedocles supposes that images are mixed with the rays of the eye; these he styles the rays of images. Hipparchus, that the visual rays extend from both the eyes to the superficies of bodies, and give to the sight the apprehension of those same bodies, after the same manner in which the hand touching the extremity of bodies gives the sense of feeling. Plato, that the sight is the splendor of united rays; there is a light which reaches some distance from the eyes into a cognate air, and there is likewise a light shed from bodies, which meets and joins with the fiery visual light in the intermediate air (which is liquid and mutable); and the union of these rays gives the sense of seeing. This is Plato’s corradiancy, or splendor of united rays.
Empedocles says that these images are caused by certain effluxes which, meeting together and resting upon the superficies of the mirror, are perfected by that fiery element emitted by the said mirror, which transforms withal the air that surrounds it. Democritus and Epicurus, that the specular appearances are made by the subsistence of the images which flow from our eyes; these fall upon the mirror and remain, while the light returns to the eye. The followers of Pythagoras explain it by the reflection of the sight; for our sight being extended (as it were) to the brass, and meeting with the smooth dense surface thereof it is forced back, and caused to return upon itself: the same takes place in the hand, when it is stretched out and then brought back again to the shoulder. Any one may use these instances to explain the manner of seeing.
The Stoics say that darkness is seen by us, for out of our eyes there issues out some light into it; and our eyes do not impose upon us, for they really perceive there is darkness. Chrysippus says that we see darkness by the striking of the intermediate air; for the visual spirits which proceed from the principal part of the soul and reach to the ball of the eye pierce this air, which, after they have made those strokes upon it, extend conically on the surrounding air, where this is homogeneous in quality. For from the eyes those rays are poured forth which are neither black nor cloudy. Upon this. account darkness is visible to us.
Empedocles says that hearing is formed by the insidency of the air upon the cochlea, which it is said hangs within the ear as a bell, and is beat upon by the air. Alcmaeon, that the vacuity that is within the ear makes us to have the sense of hearing, for the air forcing a vacuum gives the sound; every inanity affords a ringing. Diogenes the air which exists in the head, being struck upon by the voice gives the hearing. Plato and his followers, the air which exists in the head being struck upon, is reflected to the principal part of the soul, and this causeth the sense of hearing.
Alcmaeon believes that the principal part of the soul, residing in the brain, draws to itself odors by respiration. Empedocles, that scents insert themselves into the breathing of the lungs; for, when there is a great difficulty in breathing, odors are not perceived by reason of the sharpness; and this we experience in those who have the defluxion of rheum.
Alcmaeon says that a moist warmth in the tongue, joined with the softness of it, gives the difference of taste. Diogenes, that by the softness and sponginess of the tongue, and because the veins of the body are joined in it, tastes are diffused by the tongue; for they are attracted from it to that sense and to the commanding part of the soul, as from a sponge.
Plato thus defines a voice — that it is a breath drawn by the mind through the mouth, and a blow impressed on the air and through the ear, brain, and blood transmitted to the soul. Voice is abusively attributed to irrational and inanimate beings; thus we improperly call the neighing of horses or any other sound by the name of voice. But properly a voice [Greek omitted] is an articulate sound, which illustrates [Greek omitted] the understanding of man. Epicurus says that it is an efflux emitted from things that are vocal, or that give sounds or great noises; this is broken into those fragments which are after the same configuration. Like figures are round figures with round, and irregular and triangular with those of the same kind. These falling upon the ears produce the sense of hearing. This is seen in leaking vessels, and in fullers when they fan or blow their cloths. Democritus, that the air is broken into bodies of similar configuration, and these are rolled up and down with the fragments of the voice; as it is proverbially said, One daw lights with another, or, God always brings like to like. Thus we see upon the seashore, that stones like to one another are found in the same place, in one place the long-shaped, in another the round are seen. So in sieves, things of the same form meet together, but those that are different are divided; as pulse and beans falling from the same sieve are separated one from another. To this it may be objected: How can some fragments of air fill a theatre in which there is an infinite company of persons. The Stoics, that the air is not composed of small fragments, but is a continued body and nowhere admits a vacuum; and being struck with the air, it is infinitely moved in waves and in right circles, until it fill that air which surrounds it; as we see in a fish-pool which we smite by a falling stone cast upon it; yet the air is moved spherically, the water orbicularly. Anaxagoras says a voice is then formed when upon a solid air the breath is incident, which being repercussed is carried to the ears; after the same manner the echo is produced.
Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle declare that the voice is incorporeal; for it is not the air that causes the voice, but the figure which compasseth the air and its superficies having received a stroke, give the voice. But every superficies of itself is incorporeal. It is true that it move with the body but itself it hath no body; as we observe in a staff that is bended, the matter only admits of an inflection, while the superficies doth not. According to the Stoics a voice is corporeal since everything that is an agent or operates is a body; a voice acts and operates, for we hear it and are sensible of it; for it falls and makes an impression on the ear, as a seal of a ring gives its similitude upon the wax. Besides, everything that creates a delight or injury is a body; harmonious music affects with delight, but discord is tiresome. And everything that moved is a body; and the voice moves, and having its illapse upon smooth places is reflected, as when a ball is cast against a wall it rebounds. A voice spoken in the Egyptian pyramids is so broken, that it gives four or five echoes.
The Stoics say that the highest part of the soul is the commanding part of it: this is the cause of sense, fancy, consents, and desires; and this we call the rational part. From this principal and commander there are produced seven parts of the soul, which are spread through the body, as the seven arms in a polypus. Of these seven parts, five are assigned to the senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. Sight is a spirit which is extended from the commanding part of the eyes; hearing is that spirit which from the principle reacheth to the ears; smelling a spirit drawn from the principal to the nostrils; tasting a spirit extended from the principle to the tongue; touching is a spirit which from the principal is drawn to the extremity of those bodies which are obnoxious to a sensible touch. Of the rest, the one called the spermatical is a spirit which reacheth from the principal to the generating vessels; the other, which is the vocal and termed the voice, is a spirit extended from the principal to the throat, tongue, and other proper organs of speaking. And this principal part itself hath that place in our spherical head which God hath in the world.
Empedocles thinks, that the first breath the first animal drew was when the moisture in the embryo was separated, and by that means an entrance was given to the external air into the gaping vessels, the moisture in them being evacuated. After this the natural heat, in a violent force pressing upon the external air for a passage, begets an expiration; but this heat returning to the inward parts, and the air giving way to it, causeth a respiration. The respiration that now is arises when the blood is borne to the exterior surface, and by this movement drives the airy substance through the nostrils; thus in its recess it causeth expiration, but the air being again forced into those places which are emptied of blood, it causeth an inspiration. To explain which, he proposeth the instance of a water-clock, which gives the account of time by the running of water.
Asclepiades supposeth the lungs to be in the manner of a funnel, and the cause of breathing to be the fineness of the inward parts of the breast; for thither the outward air which is more gross hastens, but is forced backward, the breast not being capable either to receive or want it. But there being always some of the more tenuous parts of the air left, so that all of it is not exploded, to that which there remains the more ponderous external air with equal violence is forced; and this he compares to cupping-glasses. All spontaneous breathings are formed by the contracting of the smaller pores of the lungs, and to the closing of the pipe in the neck; for these are at our command.
Herophilus attributes a moving faculty to the nerves, arteries, and muscles, but thinks that the lungs are affected only with a natural desire of enlarging and contracting themselves. Farther, there is the first operation of the lungs by attraction of the outward air, which is drawn in because of the abundance of the external air. Next to this, there is a second natural appetite of the lungs; the breast, pouring in upon itself the breath, and being filled, is no longer able to make an attraction, and throws the superfluity of it upon the lungs, whereby it is then sent forth in expiration; the parts of the body mutually concurring to this function by the alternate participation of fulness and emptiness. So that to lungs pertain four motions — first, when the lungs receive the outward air; secondly, when the outward air thus entertained is transmitted to the breast; thirdly, when the lungs again receive that air which they imparted to the breast; fourthly, when this air then received from the breast is thrown outwards. Of these four processes two are dilatations, one when the lungs attract the air, another when the breast dischargeth itself of it upon the lungs; two are contractions, one when the breast draws into itself the air, the second when it expels this which was insinuated into it. The breast admits only of two motions — of dilatation, when it draws from the lungs the breath, and of contraction, when it returns what it did receive.
The Stoics say that all the passions are seated in those parts of the body which are affected, the senses have their residence in the commanding part of the soul. Epicurus, that all the passions and all the senses are in those parts which are affected, but the commanding part is subject to no passion. Strato, that all the passions and senses of the soul are in the rational or commanding part of it, and are not fixed in those places which are affected; for in this place patience takes its residence, and this is apparent in terrible and dolorous things, as also in timorous and valiant individuals.
Plato and the Stoics introduce divination as a godlike enthusiasm, the soul itself being of a divine constitution, and this prophetic faculty being inspiration, or an illapse of the divine knowledge into man; and so likewise they account for interpretation by dreams. And these same allow many divisions of the art of divination. Xenophanes and Epicurus utterly refuse any such art of foretelling future contingencies. Pythagoras rejects all manner of divination which is by sacrifices. Aristotle and Dicaearchus admit only these two kinds of it, a fury by a divine inspiration, and dreams; they deny the immortality of the soul, yet they affirm that the mind of man hath a participation of something that is divine.
Democritus says that dreams are formed by the illapse of adventitious representations. Strato, that the irrational part of the soul in sleep becoming more sensible is moved by the rational part of it. Herophilus, that dreams which are caused by divine instinct have a necessary cause; but dreams which have their origin from a natural cause arise from the soul’s forming within itself the images of those things which are convenient for it, and which will happen; those dreams which are of a constitution mixed of both these have their origin from the fortuitous appulse of images, as when we see those things which please us; thus it happens many times to those persons who in their sleep imagine they embrace their mistresses.
Aristotle says, that seed is that thing which contains in itself a power of moving, whereby it is enabled to produce a being like unto that from whence it was emitted. Pythagoras, that seed is the sediment of that which nourisheth us, the froth of the purest blood, of the same nature of the blood and marrow of our bodies. Alcmaeon, that it is part of the brain. Plato, that it is the deflux of the spinal marrow. Epicurus, that it is a fragment torn from the body and soul. Democritus, that it proceeds from all the parts of the body, and chiefly from the principal parts, as the tissues and muscles.
Leucippus and Zeno say, that it is a body and a fragment of the soul. Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, that the spermatic faculty is incorporeal, as the mind is which moves the body; but the effused matter is corporeal. Strato and Democritus, that the essential power is a body; for it is like spirit.
Pythagoras, Epicurus, and Democritus say, that women have a seminal projection, but their spermatic vessels are inverted; and it is this that makes them have a venereal appetite. Aristotle and Plato, that they emit a material moisture, as sweat we see produced by exercise and labor; but that moisture has no spermatic power. Hippo, that women have a seminal emission, but not after the mode of men; it contributes nothing to generation, for it falls outside of the matrix; and therefore some women without coition, especially widows, give the seed. They also assert that from men the bones, from women the flesh proceed.
Aristotle says, that conception takes place when the womb is drawn down by the natural purgation, and the monthly terms attract from the whole mass part of the purest blood, and this is met by the seed of man. On the contrary, there is a failure by the impurity and inflation of the womb, by fear and grief, by the weakness of women, or the decline of strength in men.
Empedocles affirms, that heat and cold give the difference in the generation of males and females. Hence is it, as histories acquaint us, that the first men originated from the earth in the eastern and southern parts, and the first females in the northern parts. Parmenides is of opinion perfectly contrariant. He affirms that men first sprouted out of the northern earth, for their bodies are more dense; women out of the southern, for theirs are more rare and fine. Hippo, that the more compacted and strong sperm, and the more fluid and weak, discriminate the sexes. Anaxagoras and Parmenides, that the seed of the man is naturally cast from his right side into the right side of the womb, or from the left side of the man into the left side of the womb; there is an alteration in this course of nature when females are generated. Cleophanes, whom Aristotle makes mention of, assigns the generation of men to the right testicle, of women to the left. Leucippus gives the reason of it to the alteration or diversity of parts, according to which the man hath a yard, the female the matrix; as to any other reason he is silent. Democritus, that the parts common to both sexes are engendered indifferently; but the peculiar parts by the one that is more powerful. Hippo, that if the spermatic faculty be more effectual, the male, if the nutritive aliment, the female is generated.
Empedocles believes that monsters receive their origination from the abundance or defect of seed, or from its division into parts which are superabundant, or from some disturbance in the motion, or else that there is an error by a lapse into an unsuitable receptacle; and thus he presumes he hath given all the causes of monstrous conceptions. Strato, that it comes through addition, subtraction, or transposition of the seed, or the distension or inflation of the matrix. And some physicians say that the matrix suffers distortion, being distended with wind.
Diocles the physician says that either no genital sperm is projected, or, if there be, it is in a less quantity than nature requires, or there is no prolific faculty in it; or there is a deficiency of a due proportion of heat, cold, moisture, and dryness; or there is a resolution of the generative parts. The Stoics attribute sterility to the obliquity of the yard, by which means it is not able to ejaculate in a due manner, or to the unproportionable magnitude of the parts, the matrix being so contracted as not to have a capacity to receive. Erasistratus assigns it to the womb’s being more callous or more carneous, thinner or smaller, than nature does require.
Empedocles affirms, that the superabundance of sperm and the division of it causes the bringing forth of two or three infants. Asclepiades, that it is performed from the excellent quality of the sperm, after the manner that from the root of one barleycorn two or three stalks do grow; sperm that is of this quality is the most prolific. Erasistratus, that superfetation may happen to women as to irrational creatures; for, if the womb be well purged and very clean, then there can be divers births. The Stoics, that it ariseth from the various receptacles that are in the womb: when the seed illapses into the first and second of them at once, then there are conceptions upon conception; and so two or three infants are born.
Empedocles says, that the similitude of children to their parents proceeds from the vigorous prevalency of the generating sperm; the dissimilitude from the evaporation of the natural heat it contains. Parmenides, that when the sperm falls on the right side of the womb, then the infant gives the resemblance of the father; if from the left, it is stamped with the similitude of the mother. The Stoics, that the whole body and soul give the sperm; and hence arise the likenesses in the characters and faces of the children, as a painter in his copy imitates the colors in a picture before him. Women have a concurrent emission of seed; if the feminine seed have the predominancy, the child resembles the mother; if the masculine, the father.
The greatest part of physicians affirm, that this happens casually and fortuitously; for, when the sperm of the man and woman is too much refrigerated, then children carry a dissimilitude to their parents. Empedocles, that a woman’s imagination in conception impresses a shape upon the infant; for women have been enamoured with images and statues, and the children which were born of them gave their similitudes. The Stoics, that the resemblances flow from the sympathy and consent of minds, through the insertion of effluvias and rays, not of images or pictures.
The physicians maintain, that sterility in women can arise from the womb; for if it be after any ways thus affected, there will be a barrenness — if it be more condensed, or more thin, or more hardened, or more callous, or more carneous; or it may be from languor, or from an atrophy or vicious condition of body; or, lastly, it may arise from a twisted or distorted position. Diocles holds that the sterility in men ariseth from some of these causes — either that they cannot at all ejaculate any sperm, or if they do, it is less than nature doth require, or else there is no generative faculty in the sperm, or the genital members are flagging; or from the obliquity of the yard. The Stoics attribute the cause of sterility to the contrariant qualities and dispositions of those who lie with one another; but if it chance that these persons are separated, and there happen a conjunction of those who are of a suitable temperament, then there is a commixture according to nature, and by this means an infant is formed.
Alcmaeon says, that the barrenness of the male mules ariseth from the thinness of the genital sperm, that is, the seed is too chill; the female mules are barren, because the womb does not open its mouth (as he expresses it). Empedocles, the matrix of the mule is so small, so depressed, so narrow, so invertedly growing to the belly, that the sperm cannot be regularly ejaculated into it, and if it could, there would be no capacity to receive it. Diocles concurs in this opinion with him; for, saith he, in our anatomical dissection of mules we have seen that their matrices are of such configurations; and it is possible that there may be the same reason why some women are barren.
Plato says, that the embryo is an animal; for, being contained in the mother’s womb, motion and aliment are imparted to it. The Stoics say that it is not an animal, but to be accounted part of the mother’s belly; like as we see the fruit of trees is esteemed part of the trees, until it be full ripe; then it falls and ceaseth to belong to the tree; thus it is with the embryo. Empedocles, that the embryo is not an animal, yet whilst it remains in the belly it breathes. The first breath that it draws as an animal is when the infant is newly born; then the child having its moisture separated, the extraneous air making an entrance into the empty places, a respiration is caused in the infant by the empty vessels receiving of it. Diogenes, that infants are nurtured in the matrix inanimate, yet they have a natural heat; but presently, when the infant is cast into the open air, its heat brings air into the lungs, and so it becomes an animal. Herophilus acknowledgeth that a natural, but not an animal motion, and that the nerves are the cause of that motion; that then they become animals, when being first born they suck in something of the air.
Democritus and Epicurus say, that the embryos in the womb receive their aliment by the mouth, for we perceive, as soon as ever the infant is born, it applies its mouth to the breast; in the wombs of women (our understanding concludes) there are little dugs, and the embryos have small mouths by which they receive their nutriment. The Stoics, that by the secundines and navel they partake of aliment, and therefore the midwife instantly after their birth ties the navel, and opens the infant’s mouth, that it may receive another sort of aliment. Alcmaeon, that they receive their nourishment from every part of the body; as a sponge sucks in water.
The Stoics believe that the whole is formed at the same time. Aristotle, as the keel of a ship is first made, so the first part that is formed is the loins. Alcmaeon, the head, for that is the commanding and the principal part of the body. The physicians, the heart, in which are the veins and arteries. Some think the great toe is first formed; others affirm the navel.
Empedocles says, that when the human race took first its original from the earth, the sun was so slow in its motion that then one day in its length was equal to ten months, as now they are; in process of time one day became as long as seven months are; and there is the reason that those infants which are born at the end of seven months or ten months are born alive, the course of nature so disposing that the infant shall be brought to maturity in one day after that night in which it is begotten. Timaeus says, that we count not ten months but nine, by reason that we reckon the first conception from the stoppage of the menstruas; and so it may generally pass for seven months when really there are not seven; for it sometimes occurs that even after conception a woman is purged to some extent. Polybus, Diocles, and the Empirics, acknowledge that the eighth month gives a vital birth to the infant, though the life of it is more faint and languid; many therefore we see born in that month die out of mere weakness. Though we see many born in that month arrive at the state of man, yet (they affirm) if children be born in that month, none wish to rear them.
Aristotle and Hippocrates, that if the womb is full in seven months, then the child falls from the mother and is born alive, but if it falls from her but is not nourished, the navel being weak on account of the weight of the infant, then it doth not thrive; but if the infant continues nine months in the womb, and then comes forth from the woman, it is entire and perfect. Polybus, that a hundred and eighty-two days and a half suffice for the bringing forth of a living child; that is, six months, in which space of time the sun moves from one tropic to the other; and this is called seven months, for the days which are over plus in the sixth are accounted to give the seventh month. Those children which are born in the eighth month cannot live, for, the infant then falling from the womb, the navel, which is the cause of nourishment, is thereby too much wrenched; and is the reason that the infant languishes and hath an atrophy. The astrologers, that eight months are enemies to every birth, seven are friends and kind to it. The signs of the zodiac are then enemies, when they fall upon those stars which are lords of houses; whatever infant is then born will have a life short and unfortunate. Those signs of the zodiac which are malevolent and injurious to generation are those pairs of which the final is reckoned the eighth from the first, as the first and the eighth, the second and the ninth, etc; so is the Ram unsociable with Scorpio, the Bull with Sagittarius, the Twins with the Goat, the Crab with Aquarius, the Lion with Pisces, the Virgin with the Ram. Upon this reason those infants that are born in the seventh or tenth months are like to live, but those in the eighth month will die.
Those philosophers who entertain the opinion that the world had an original do likewise assert that all animals are generated and corruptible. The followers of Epicurus, who gives an eternity to the world, affirm the generation of animals ariseth from the various permutation of parts mutually among themselves, for they are parts of this world. With them Anaxagoras and Euripides concur:
Different changes give their various forms.
Anaximander’s opinion is, that the first animals were generated in moisture, and were enclosed in bark on which thorns grew; but in process of time they came upon dry land, and this thorny bark with which they were covered being broken, they lived only for a short space of time. Empedocles says, that the first generation of animals and plants was by no means completed, for the parts were disjoined and would not admit of a union; the second preparation and for their being generated was when their parts were united and appeared in the form of images; the third preparation for generation was when their parts mutually amongst themselves gave a being to one another; the fourth, when there was no longer a mixture of like elements (as earth and water), but a union of animals among themselves — in some the nourishment being made dense, in others female beauty provoking a desire of spermatic motion. All sorts of animals are discriminated by their proper temperament and constitution; some are carried by a proper appetite and inclination to water, some, which partake of a more fiery quality, to live in the air those that are heavier incline to the earth; but those animals whose parts are of a just temperament are fitted equally for all places.
There is a certain treatise of Aristotle, in which animals are distributed into four kinds, terrestrial, aqueous, fowl, and heavenly; and he calls the stars and the world too animals, yea, and God himself he posits to be an animal gifted with reason and immortal. Democritus and Epicurus consider all animals rational which have their residence in the heavens. Anaxagoras says that animals have only that reason which is operative, but not that which is passive, which is justly styled the interpreter of the mind, and is like the mind itself. Pythagoras and Plato, that the souls of all those who are styled brutes are rational; but by the evil constitution of their bodies, and because they have a want of a discoursive faculty, they do not conduct themselves rationally. This is manifested in apes and dogs, which have inarticulate voice but not speech. Diogenes, that this sort of animals are partakers of intelligence and air, but by reason of the density in some parts of them, and by the superfluity of moisture in others, they neither enjoy understanding nor sense; but they are affected as madmen are, the commanding rational part being defectuous and injured.
Empedocles believes, that the joints of men begin to be formed from the thirty-sixth day, and their shape is completed in the nine and fortieth. Asclepiades, that male embryos, by reason of a greater natural heat, have their joints begun to be formed in the twenty-sixth day — many even sooner — and that they are completed in all their parts on the fiftieth day; the parts of the females are articulated in two months, but by the defect of heat are not consummated till the fourth; but the members of brutes are completed at various times, according to the commixture of the elements of which they consist.
Empedocles says, that the fleshy parts of us are constituted by the contemperation of the four elements in us; earth and fire mixed with a double proportion of water make nerves; but when it happens that the nerves are refrigerated where they come in contact with the air, then the nails are made; the bones are produced by two parts of water and the same of air, with four parts of fire and the same of earth, mixed together; sweat and tears flow from liquefaction of bodies.
Alcmaeon says, that sleep is caused when the blood retreats to the concourse of the veins, but when the blood diffuses itself then we awake and when there is a total retirement of the blood, then men die. Empedocles, that a moderate cooling of the blood causeth sleep, but a total remotion of heat from blood causeth death. Diogenes, that when all the blood is so diffused as that it fills all the veins, and forces the air contained in them to the back and to the belly that is below it, the breast being thereby more heated, thence sleep arises, but if everything that is airy in the breast forsakes the veins, then death succeeds. Plato and the Stoics, that sleep ariseth from the relaxation of the sensitive spirit, it not receiving such total relaxing as if it fell to the earth, but so that that spirit is carried about the intestine, parts of the eyebrows, in which the principal part has its residence; but when there is a total relaxing of the sensitive spirit, death ensues.
Heraclitus and the Stoics say, that men begin their completeness when the second septenary of years begins, about which time the seminal serum is emitted. Trees first begin their perfection when they give their seeds; till then they are immature, imperfect, and unfruitful. After the same manner a man is completed in the second septenary of years, and is capable of learning what is good and evil, and of discipline therein.
Aristotle’s opinion is, that both the soul and body sleep; and this proceeds from the evaporation in the breast, which doth steam and arise into the head, and from the aliment in the stomach, whose proper heat is cooled in the heart. Death is the perfect refrigeration of all heat in body; but death is only of the body, and not of the soul, for the soul is immortal. Anaxagoras thinks, that sleep makes the operations of the body to cease; it is a corporeal passion and affects not the soul. Death is the separation of the soul from the body. Leucippus, that sleep is only of the body; but when the smaller particles cause excessive evaporation from the soul’s heat, this makes death; but these affections of death and sleep are of the body, not of the soul. Empedocles, that death is nothing else but separation of those fiery parts by which man is composed, and according to this sentiment both body and soul die; but sleep is only a smaller separation of the fiery qualities.
Plato and Empedocles believe, that plants are animals, and are informed with a soul; of this there are clear arguments, for they have tossing and shaking, and their branches are extended; when the woodmen bend them they yield, but they return to their former straightness and strength again when they are let loose, and even carry up weights that are laid upon them. Aristotle doth grant that they live, but not that they are animals; for animals are affected with appetite, sense, and reason. The Stoics and Epicureans deny that they are informed with a soul; by reason that all sorts of animals have either sense, appetite, or reason; but plants act fortuitously, and not by means of any soul. Empedocles, that the first of all animals were trees, and they sprang from the earth before the sun in its motion enriched the world, and before day and night were distinguished; but by the harmony which is in their constitution they partake of a masculine and feminine nature; and they increase by that heat which is exalted out of the earth, so that they are parts belonging to it, as embryos in the womb are parts of the womb. Fruits in plants are excrescences proceeding from water and fire; but the plants which lack water, when this is dried up by the heat of summer, shed their leaves; whereas they that have plenty thereof keep their leaves on, as the olive, laurel, and palm. The differences of their moisture and juice arise from the difference of particles and various other causes, and they are discriminated by the various particles that feed them. And this is apparent in vines for the excellence of wine flows not from the difference in the vines, but from the soil from whence they receive their nutriment.
Empedocles believes, that animals are nourished by the remaining in them of that which is proper to their own nature; they are augmented by the application of heat; and the subtraction of either of these makes them to languish and decay. The stature of men in this present age, if compared with the magnitude of those men which were first produced, is only a mere infancy.
Empedocles says that the want of those elements which compose animals gives to them appetite, and pleasures spring from humidity. As to the motions of dangers and such like things as perturbations, etc. . . .
Erasistratus gives this definition of a fever: A fever is a quick motion of blood, not produced by our consent, which enters into the vessels, the seat of the vital spirits. This we see in the sea; it is in a serene calm when nothing disturbs it, but is in motion when a violent preternatural wind blows upon it, and then it rageth and is circled with waves. After this manner it is in the body of man; when the blood is in a nimble agitation, then it falls upon those vessels in which the spirits are, and there being in an extraordinary heat, it fires the whole body. The opinion that a fever is an appendix to a preceding affection pleaseth him. Diocles proceeds after this manner: Those things which are internal and latent are manifested by those which externally break forth and appear; and it is clear to us that a fever is annexed to certain outward affections, for example, to wounds, inflaming tumors, inguinary abscesses.
Alcmaeon says that the preserver of health is an equal proportion of the qualities of heat, moisture, cold, dryness, bitterness, sweetness, and the other qualities; on the contrary, the prevailing empire of one above the rest is the cause of diseases and author of destruction. The direct cause of disease is the excess of heat or cold, the formal cause is excess or defect, the place is the blood or brain. But health is the harmonious commixture of the elements. Diocles, that sickness for the most part proceeds from the irregular disposition of the elements in the body, for that makes an ill habit or constitution of it. Erasistratus, that sickness is caused by the excess of nourishment, indigestion, and corruptions; on the contrary, health is the moderation of the diet, and the taking that which is convenient and sufficient for us. It is the unanimous opinion of the Stoics that the want of heat brings old age, for (they say) those persons in whom heat more abounds live the longer. Asclepiades, that the Ethiopians soon grow old, and at thirty years of age are ancient men, their bodies being excessively heated and scorched by the sun; in Britain persons live a hundred and twenty years, on account of the coldness of the country, and because the people keep the fiery element within their bodies; the bodies of the Ethiopians are more fine and thin, because they are relaxed by the sun’s heat, while they who live in northern countries are condensed and robust, and by consequence are more long lived.
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