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Chapter V.—Anaximander; His Theory of the Infinite; His Astronomic Opinions; His Physics.

Anaximander, then, was the hearer of Thales.  Anaximander was son of Praxiadas, and a native of Miletus. This man said that the originating principle of existing things is a certain constitution of the Infinite, out of which the heavens are generated, and the worlds therein; and that this principle is eternal and undecaying, and comprising all the worlds. And he speaks of time as something of limited generation, and subsistence, and destruction. This person declared the Infinite to be an originating principle and element of existing things, being the first to employ such a denomination of the originating principle. But, moreover, he asserted that there is an eternal motion, by the agency of which it happens that the heavens7171    Or, “men.” are generated; but that the earth is poised aloft, upheld by nothing, 14continuing (so) on account of its equal distance from all (the heavenly bodies); and that the figure of it is curved, circular,7272    Or, “moist.” similar to a column of stone.7373    Or, “congealed snow.” And one of the surfaces we tread upon, but the other is opposite.7474    That is, Antipodes. Diogenes Laertius was of the opinion that Plato first indicated by name the Antipodes.  And that the stars are a circle of fire, separated from the fire which is in the vicinity of the world, and encompassed by air. And that certain atmospheric exhalations arise in places where the stars shine; wherefore, also, when these exhalations are obstructed, that eclipses take place. And that the moon sometimes appears full and sometimes waning, according to the obstruction or opening of its (orbital) paths. But that the circle of the sun is twenty-seven times7575    Or, “727 times,” an improbable reading. larger than the moon, and that the sun is situated in the highest (quarter of the firmament); whereas the orbs of the fixed stars in the lowest. And that animals are produced (in moisture7676    “In moisture” is properly added, as Plutarch, in his De Placitis, v. xix., remarks that “Anaximander affirms that primary animals were produced in moisture.”) by evaporation from the sun. And that man was, originally, similar to a different animal, that is, a fish. And that winds are caused by the separation of very rarified exhalations of the atmosphere, and by their motion after they have been condensed.  And that rain arises from earth’s giving back (the vapours which it receives) from the (clouds7777    This word seems requisite to the sense of the passage.) under the sun. And that there are flashes of lightning when the wind coming down severs the clouds. This person was born in the third year of the xlii. Olympiad.7878    b.c. 610. On Olympiads, see Jarvis, Introd., p. 21.]


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