Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 330: 250-251

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Pliny: Natural History

appellant. quin et sua sponte quaedam statisque temporibus, ut haedorum exortus. Arcturi vero sidus non ferme sine procellosa grandine emergit.


XL. Nam caniculae exortu accendi solis vapores quis ignorat, cuius sideris effectus amplissimi in terra sentiuntur? fervent maria exoriente eo, fluctuant in cellis vina, moventur stagna. orygem appellat Aegyptus feram quam in exortu eius contra stare et contueri tradit ac velut adorare cum sternuerit. canes quidem toto eo spatio maxime in rabiem agi non est dubium.


XLI. Quin partibus quoque signorum quorundam sua vis inest, ut autumnali aequinoctio brumaque, cum tempestatibus confici sidus intellegimus, nec imbribus tantum tempestatibusque sed multis et corporum et ruris experimentis. adflantur alii sidere, alii commoventur statis temporibus alvo, nervis, capite, mente. olea et populus alba et salices solstitio folia circumagunt. floret ipso brumali die suspensa in tectis arentis herba pulei, rumpuntur 109intentae spiritu membranae. miretur hoc qui non observet cotidiano experimento herbam unam, quae vocatur heliotropium, abeuntem solem intueri semper omnibusque horis cum eo verti vel nubilo obumbrante. iam quidem lunari potestate ostrearum conchyliorumque et concharum omnium corpora augeri ac rursus minui, quin et soricum fibras respondere


Book II

denoting rain.a Indeed some stars move of themselves and at fixed times—compare the rising of the Kids. But the rising of the constellation Arcturus is almost always accompanied by a hail-storm.

XL. For who is not aware that the heat of the sun increases at the rising of the Lesser Dog-star, whose effects are felt on earth very widely? At its rise the seas are rough, wine in the cellars ripples in waves, pools of water are stirred. There is a wild animal in Egypt called the gazelle that according to the natives stands facing this dog-star at its rise, and gazing at it as if in worship, after first giving a sneeze. It is indeed beyond doubt that dogs throughout the whole of that period are specially liable to rabies.

XLI. Moreover also the parts of some constellations have an influence of their own—for instance at the autumnal equinox and at mid-winter, when we learn by the storms that the sun is completing its orbit; and not only by falls of rain and storms, but by many things that happen to our bodies and to the fields. Some men are paralysed by a star,and on animals and plants. others suffer periodic disturbances of the stomach or sinews or head or mind. The olive and white poplar and willow turn round their leaves at the solstice. Fleabane hung up in the house to dry flowers exactly on midwinter day, and inflated skins burst. This may surprise one who does not notice in daily experience that one plant, called heliotrope, always looks towards the sun as it passes and at every hour of the day turns with it, even when it is obscured by a cloud. Indeed persistent research has discovered that the influence of the moon causes the shells of oysters, cockles and all shell-fish to grow larger and again smaller in bulk, and moreover that

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938