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Chapter XXXII.—Imitations of Thunder, and Other Illusions.

Thunder is produced in many ways; for stones very numerous and unusually large, being rolled downwards along wooden planks, fall upon plates of brass, and cause a sound similar to thunder. And also around the thin plank with which carders thicken cloth, they coil a thin rope; and then drawing away the cord with a whirr, they spin the plank round, and in its revolution it emits a sound like thunder. These farces, verily, are played off thus.

There are, however, other practices which I shall explain, which those who execute these 37ludicrous performances estimate as great exploits. Placing a cauldron full of pitch upon burning coals, when it boils up, (though) laying their hands down upon it, they are not burned; nay, even while walking on coals of fire with naked feet, they are not scorched. But also setting a pyramid of stone on a hearth, (the sorcerer) makes it get on fire, and from the mouth it disgorges a volume of smoke, and that of a fiery description.  Then also putting a linen cloth upon a pot of water, throwing on (at the same time) a quantity of blazing coals, (the magician) keeps the linen cloth unconsumed. Creating also darkness in the house, (the sorcerer) alleges that he can introduce gods or demons; and if any requires him to show Æsculapius, he uses an invocation couched in the following words:—

“The child once slain, again of Phœbus deathless made,

I call to come, and aid my sacrificial rites;

Who, also, once the countless tribes of fleeting dead,

In ever-mournful homes of Tartarus wide,

The fatal billow breasting, and the inky247247    δίαυλον in the text has been altered into κελανὸν. The translator has followed the latter. flood

Surmounting, where all of mortal mould must float,

Torn, beside the lake, with endless248248    Or “indissoluble,” or “inseparable.” grief and woe,

Thyself didst snatch from gloomy Proserpine.

Or whether the seat of Holy Thrace thou haunt, or lovely

Pergamos, or besides Ionian Epidaurus,

The chief of seers, O happy God, invites thee here.”


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