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Chapter VIII.—Prodigies of the Astrologers; System of the Astronomers; Chaldean Doctrine of Circles; Distances of the Heavenly Bodies.

I reckon it then sufficient to declare the prodigies185185    As regards astrological predictions, see Origen’s Comment. on Gen.; Diodorus of Tarsus, De Fato; Photii Biblioth., cod. ccxxiii.; and Bardesanis, De Legibus Nationum, in Cureton’s Spicilegium Syriacum. detailed by these men. Wherefore, employing condensed accounts of what they affirm, I shall turn my attention to the other points (that remain to be considered). Now they make the following statements.186186    See Plato’s Timæus. The Creator communicated pre-eminent power to the orbital motion of the identical and similar (circle), for He permitted the revolution of it to be one and indivisible; but after dividing this internally into six parts, (and thus having formed) seven unequal circles, according to each interval of a twofold and threefold dimension, He commanded, since there were three of each, that the circles should travel in orbits contrary to one another, three indeed (out of the aggregate of seven) being whirled along with equal velocity, and four of them with a speed dissimilar to each other and to the remaining three, yet (all) according to a definite principle. For he affirms that the mastery was communicated to the orbital motion of the same (circle), not only since it embraces the motion of the other, that, is, the erratic stars, but because also it possesses so great mastery, that is, so great power, that even it leads round, along with itself, by a peculiar strength of its own, those heavenly bodies—that is, the erratic stars—that are whirled along in contrary directions from west to east, and, in like manner, from east to west.

And he asserts that this motion was allowed to be one and indivisible, in the first place, inasmuch as the revolutions of all the fixed stars were accomplished in equal periods of time, and were not distinguished according to greater or less portions of duration. In the next place, they all present the same phase as that which belongs to the outermost motion; whereas the erratic stars have been distributed into greater and varying periods for the accomplishment of their movements, and into unequal distances from earth. And he asserts that the motion in six parts of the other has been distributed probably into seven circles. For as many as are sections of each (circle)—I allude to monads of the sections187187    Schneidewin, on Roeper’s suggestion, amends the passage thus, though I am not sure that I exactly render his almost unintelligible Latin version: “For as many sections as there are of each, there are educible from the monad more segments than sections; for example, if,” etc. The Abbe Cruice would seemingly adopt the following version: “For whatsoever are sections of each, now there are more segments than sections of a monad, will become; for example, if,” etc.—become segments; for example, if the division be by one section, there will be two segments; if by two, three segments; and so, if anything be cut into six parts, there will be seven segments. And he says that the distances of these are alternately arranged both in double and triple order, there being three of each,—a principle which, he has attempted to prove, holds good of the composition of the soul likewise, as depending upon the seven numbers. For among them there are from the monad three double (numbers), viz., 2, 4, 8, and three triple ones, viz., 3, 9, 27. But the diameter of Earth is 80,108 stadii; and the perimeter of Earth, 250,543 stadii; and the distance also from the surface of the Earth to the lunar circle, Aristarchus the Samian computes at 8,000,178 stadii, but Apollonius 5,000,000, whereas Archimedes computes188188    Schneidewin, on mathematical authority, discredits the numerical calculations ascribed to Archimedes. it at 5,544,130. And from the lunar to solar circle, (according to the last authority,) are 50,262,065 stadii; and from this to the circle of Venus, 20,272,065 stadii; and from this to the circle of Mercury, 50,817,165 stadii; and from this to the circle of Mars, 40,541,108 stadii; and from this to the circle of Jupiter, 20,275,065 29stadii; and from this to the circle of Saturn, 40,372,065 stadii; and from this to the Zodiac and the furthest periphery, 20,082,005 stadii.189189    This is manifestly erroneous; the total could only be “four myriads!”


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