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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Face in the Moon


published in Vol. XII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1957

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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§§ 7‑17

(Vol. XII) Plutarch, Moralia

 p35  Concerning the Face
Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon

(Part 1 of 4 on this website)

920b 1 . . . These were Sulla's words.​1 "For it concerns my story and that is its source; but I think that I should first like to learn whether there is any need to put back for a fresh start​2 to those opinions concerning the face of the moon which are current and on the lips of everyone. "What else would you expect us to have done," I said,​3 "since it was the difficulty in these opinions that drove us from our course upon those others? As people with chronic diseases when they have despaired of ordinary remedies and customary regimens turn to expiations and amulets and dreams, just so in obscure and perplexing speculations, cwhen the ordinary and reputable and customary accounts are not persuasive, it is necessary to try those that are more out of the way and not scorn them but literally to chant over ourselves​4 the charms of the ancients and use every means to bring the truth to test.

 p37  2 1 Well, to begin with, you see that it is absurd to call the figure seen in the moon an affection of vision in its feebleness giving way to brilliance, a condition which we call bedazzlement. Anyone who asserts this​5 does not observe that this phenomenon should rather have occurred in relation to the sun, since the sun lights upon us keen and violent (as Empedocles​6 too somewhere not infelicitously renders the difference of the two:

The sun keen-shafted and the gentle moon,

referring in this way to her allurement and cheerfulness and harmlessness), and moreover does not explain why ddull and weak eyes discern no distinction of shape in the moon but her orb for them has an even and full light, whereas those of keen and robust vision make out more precisely and distinctly the pattern of facial features and more clearly perceive the variations. In fact the contrary, I think, should have been the case if the image resulted from an affection of the eye when it is overpowered: the weaker the subject affected, the clearer should be the appearance of the image. The unevenness also entirely refutes the hypothesis, for the shadow that one sees is not continuous and confused but is not  p39 badly depicted by the words of Agesianax:7

eShe gleams with fire encircled, but within

Bluer than lapis show a maiden's eye

And dainty brow, a visage manifest.

In truth, the dark patches submerge beneath the bright ones which they encompass and confine them, being confined and curtailed by them in turn; and they are thoroughly intertwined with each other fso as to make the delineation of the figure resemble a painting. This, Aristotle, seemed​8 to be a point not without cogency against your Clearchus​9 also. For the man is yours, since he was an associate of the ancient Aristotle, although he did pervert many doctrines of the School."10

3 1 Apollonides broke in and inquired what the opinion of Clearchus was. "You are the last person," I said, "who has any right not to know a theory of which geometry is, as it were, the very hearth and  p41 home. The man, you see, asserts that what is called the face consists of mirrored likenesses, that is images of the great ocean reflected in the moon,​11 921for the visual ray when reflected naturally reaches from many points objects which are not directly visible and the full moon is itself in uniformity and lustre​12 the finest and clearest of all mirrors. Just as you think, then, that the reflection of the visual ray to the sun accounts for the appearance of the rainbow in a cloud where the moisture has become somewhat smooth and condensed,​13 so Clearchus thought bthat the outer ocean is seen in the moon, not in the place where it is but in the place whence the visual ray has been deflected to the ocean and the reflection of the ocean to us.  p43 So Agesianax again has somewhere said:

Or swell of ocean surging opposite

Be mirrored in a looking-glass of flame."​14

4 1 Apollonides was delighted. "What an original and absolutely novel contrivance the hypothesis is," he said, "the work of a man of daring and culture; but how did you proceed to bring your counter-argument against it?" "In the first place," I said, "in that, although the outer ocean is a single thing, a confluent and continuous sea,​15 the dark spots in the moon do not appear as one buts having something like isthmuses between them, cthe brilliance dividing and delimiting the shadow. Hence, since each part is separated and has its own boundary, the layers of light upon shadow,​16 assuming the semblance of height and depth, have produced a very close likeness of eyes and lips. Therefore, one must assume the existence of several outer oceans separated by isthmuses and mainlands, which is absurd and false; or, if the ocean is single, it is not plausible that its reflected image be thus discontinuous. Tell me whether — for in your presence it is safer to put this as a question than as an assertion — whether it is possible, though the inhabited world has length and breadth, dthat every visual ray when reflected from the moon should in like manner reach the ocean, even the visual rays of those who are sailing in the great ocean itself, yes and who dwell in it as the Britons  p45 do, and that too even though the earth, as you say,​17 does not have the relation of centre to the orbit of the moon. Well, this," I said, "it is your business to consider; but the reflection of vision either in respect to the moon or in general is beyond your province and that of Hipparchus too.​18 Although Hipparchus was industrious, still many find him unsatisfactory in his explanation of the nature of vision itself, which eis more likely to involve a sympathetic compound and fusion​19 than any impacts and rebounds such as those of the atoms that Epicurus invented.​20 Moreover, Clearchus, I think, would refuse to assume with us that the moon is a body of weight and solidity instead of an ethereal and luminiferous star as you say;​21 and such a moon ought  p47 to shatter and divert the visual ray so that reflection would be out of the question. But if anyone dismisses our objections, we shall ask how it is that the reflection of the ocean exists as a face only in the moon and is seen in none of all the many other stars, although reason requires that all or none of them should affect the visual ray in this fashion. fBut let us have done with this; and do you," I said with a glance at Lucius, "recall to me what part of our position was stated first."

5 1 Whereat Lucius said: "Nay, lest we give the impression of flatly insulting Pharnaces by thus passing over the Stoic opinion unnoticed, do now by all means address some remark to the gentleman who, supposing the moon to be a mixture of air and gentle fire, then says that what appears to be a figure is the result of the blackening of the air as when in a calm water there runs a ripple under the surface."​22 "You are very nice, Lucius," I said, "to dress up the absurdity in respectable language. Not so our  p49 comrade;​23 but he said what is true, that they blacken the Moon's eye defiling her with blemishes and bruises, 922at one and the same time addressing her as Artemis​24 and Athena​25 and making her a mass compounded of murky air and smouldering fire neither kindling nor shining of herself, an indiscriminate kind of body, forever charred and smoking like the thunderbolts that are darkling and by the poets called lurid.​26 Yet a smouldering fire, such as they suppose that of the moon to be, cannot persist or subsist at all unless it get solid fuel that shelters and at the same time nourishes it;​27 bthis some philosophers, I believe, see less clearly than do those who say in jest that Hephaestus is said to be lame because fire without wood, like the lame without a stick, makes no progress.​28 If the moon really is fire, whence came so much air in it? For the region that we see revolving above us is the place not of air but of a superior substance, the nature of which is to rarefy all things and set them afire; and, if air did come to be there, why has it not been etherealized by the fire29  p51 and in this transformation disappeared but instead has been preserved as a housemate of fire this long time, as if nails had fixed it forever to the same spots and riveted it together? Air is tenuous and without configuration, cand so it naturally slips and does not stay in place; and it cannot have become solidified if it is commingled with fire and partakes neither of moisture nor of earth by which all air can be solidified.​30 Moreover, velocity ignites the air in stones and in cold lead, not to speak of the air enclosed in fire that is whirling about with such great speed.​31 Why, they are vexed by Empedocles because he represents the moon to be a hail-like congelation of air encompassed by the sphere of fire;​32 but they themselves say that the moon is a sphere of fire containing air dispersed about it here and there, dand a sphere moreover that has neither clefts nor depths and hollows, such as are allowed by those who make it an earthy body, but has the air evidently resting upon its convex surface. That it should so remain is both contrary to reason and impossible to square with what is observed when the moon is full. On that assumption there should have been no distinction of dark and shadowy air; but all the air should become dark when occulted, or when the moon is caught by the sun it should all shine out with an even light. For with us too, while  p53 the air in the depths and hollows of the earth, wherever the sun's rays do not penetrate, remains shadowy and unlit, that which suffuses the earth outside takes on brilliance and a luminous colour. The reason is that air, because of its subtility, is delicately attuned to every quality and influence; eand, especially if it touches light or, to use your phrase, merely is tangent to it, it is altered through and through and entirely illuminated.​33 So this same point seems right handsomely to re-enforce those who pack the air on the moon into depths of some kind and chasms, even as it utterly refutes you who make her globe an unintelligible mixture or compound of air and fire, — for it is not possible​34 that a shadow remain upon the surface when the sun casts his light fupon all of the moon that is within the compass of our vision."

6 1 Even while I was still speaking Pharnaces spoke: "Here we are faced again with that stock manoeuvre of the Academy:​35 on each occasion that they engage in discourse with others they will not offer any accounting of their own assertions but must keep  p55 their interlocutors on the defensive lest they become the prosecutors. Well, me you will not to‑day entice into defending the Stoics against your charges until I have called you people to account for turning the universe upside down." Thereupon Lucius laughed and said: 923"Oh sir, just don't bring suit against us for impiety as Cleanthes thought that the Greeks ought to lay an action for impiety against Aristarchus the Samian on the ground that he was disturbing the hearth of the universe because he sought to save the phenomena by assuming that the heaven is at rest while the earth is revolving along the ecliptic and at the same time is rotating about its own axis.​36 We​37 express no opinion of our own now; but those who suppose that the moon is earth, why do they, my dear sir, turn things upside down any more than you​38 do who station the earth here suspended in the air? Yet the earth is a great deal larger than the moon​39 baccording to the mathematicians who during the occurrence of eclipses and the transits of the moon through the shadow calculate her magnitude by the length of time that she is obscured.​40 For the  p57 shadow of the earth grows smaller the further it extends, because the body that cast the light is larger than the earth;​41 and that the upper part of the shadow itself is taper and narrow was recognized, as they say, even by Homer, who called night 'nimble' because of the 'sharpness' of the shadow.​42 Yet captured by this part in eclipses​43 the moon barely escapes from it in a space thrice her own magnitude. Consider then how many times as large as the moon the earth is, if the earth casts a shadow which at its narrowest is thrice as broad as the moon.​44 All the same, you fear for the moon lest it fall; whereas concerning the earth perhaps Aeschylus has  p59 persuaded you that Atlas

cStands, staying on his back the prop of earth

And sky no tender burden to embrace.​45

Or, while under the moon there stretches air unsubstantial and incapable of supporting a solid mass, the earth, as Pindar says, is encompassed by 'steel-shod pillars';​46 and therefore Pharnaces is himself without any fear that the earth may fall but is sorry for the Ethiopians or Taprobanians,​47 who are situated under the circuit of the moon, lest such a great weight fall upon them. Yet the moon is saved from falling by its very motion and the rapidity of its revolution, just as missiles placed in slings are kept from falling by being whirled around in a circle.​48 dFor each thing is governed by its natural motion unless it be diverted by something else. That is why the moon is not governed by its weight: the weight has its influence frustrated by the rotatory motion. Nay, there would be more reason perhaps to wonder if she were absolutely unmoved and stationary like the earth. As it is, while the moon has good cause for not moving in this direction, the influence of weight alone might reasonably move the earth, since it has no part in any other motion; and the earth is heavier than the moon not merely in proportion to its greater size but  p61 still more, inasmuch as the moon has, of course, ebecome light through the action of heat and fire.​49 In short, your own statements seem to make the moon, if it is fire, stand in greater need of earth, that is of matter to serve it as a foundation, as something to which to adhere, as something to lend it coherence, and as something that can be ignited by it, for it is impossible to imagine fire being maintained without fuel,​50 but you people say that earth does abide without root or foundation."​51 "Certainly it does," said Pharnaces, "in occupying the proper and natural place that belongs to it, the middle, for this is the place about which all weights in their natural inclination press against one another and towards which they move and converge from every direction, fwhereas all the upper space, even if it receive something earthy which has been forcibly hurled up into it, straightway extrudes it into our region or rather lets it go where its proper inclination causes it naturally to descend."52

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Concerning the mutilated beginning of the dialogue see Introduction § 1.

2 For the metaphor cf. An Seni Respublica Gerenda Sit, 787E, and Plato, Philebus, 13D; the meaning is guaranteed by ἀπωσθέντες ("driven from our course") infra. Cf. the nautical metaphor with which Sulla interrupts Lamprias at 940F infra (τὸν μῦθον . . . ἐξοκείλας).

3 The speaker and narrator of the dialogue is Lamprias, the brother of Plutarch; cf. 937D, 940F, 945D, infra.

4 Cf. Plato, Phaedo, 77E and 114D, Republic, 608A.

5 If Plutarch has a definite person in mind, I have not been able to identify him. Adler (Diss. Phil. Vind. X, p127) thinks that ὁ λέγων refers to a physicist whose name Plutarch himself probably did not know, and Raingeard that it refers to "esprits cultivés" in general.

6 Frag. 40 (I, p329.11 [Diels-Kranz]).

7 Schmid (Christ-Schmid-Stählin, Gesch. der griech. Litteratur6, II.1, p164, n5) assumes that the verses here quoted are from the astronomical poem of Hegesianax; so also Susemihl (Gesch. der griech. Litteratur in der Alexandrinerzeit, II, p33, n19), Schaefer (R. E. I.795), and Stähelin (R. E. VII.2603.59 ff.). Powell (Collectanea Alexandrina, p8) prints the verses as fragment 1 of the Phaenomena of Hegesianax but observes that Cod. A Catalogi Interpretum Arati gives Ἀγησιάναξ.

8 i.e. in the earlier discussion which Lamprias is now relating for Sulla's benefit.

9 Clearchus of Soli, pupil of Aristotle; Wehrli, Die Schule des Aristoteles, Heft III: Klearchos, frag. 97 (cf. AJP LXX [1949], pp417‑418).

10 For ὁ Περίπατος, "the Promenade," used to designate the school of Aristotle, cf. De Musica, 1131F, and "the Peripatetics" in Adv. Coloten, 1115A‑B, and Sulla, xxvi (468B).

11 Similar theories are referred to by Aëtius, II.30.1 (Dox. Graeci, p361b 10‑13) = Stobaeus, Eclogae, I.26.4; Lucian, Icaromenippus, §20; Simplicius, De Caelo, p457, 15‑16. Such a theory is recorded and refuted by Ibn Al‑Haitham, the Arabic astronomer of the tenth and eleventh centuries (cf. Schoy's translation, pp1‑2 and 5‑6). Emperor Rudolph II believed the spots on the moon to be the reflection of Italy and the large Italian islands (cf. Kepler, Opera Omnia, II, p491 cited by Pixis, Kepler als Geograph, p102); and A. von Humboldt (Kosmos, III, p544 [Stuttgart, 1850] tells of a Persian from Ispahan who assured him that what we see in the moon is the map of our earth (cf. Ebner, Geographische Hinweise und Anklänge in Plutarchs Schrift, de facie, p13, n3).

12 i.e. in the evenness and polish of its surface.

13 For the rainbow as a reflection of the sun in the cloud cf. De Iside, 358F, Amatorius, 765E‑F (where there is a strong verbal similarity to the present passage), De Placitis, 894C‑F (= Aëtius, III.5, 3‑10 and 11 [Dox. Graeci, pp372‑373]). According to Aëtius, III.5.11 (= De Placitis, 894F) the theory was held by Anaxagoras (cf. frag. B 19 = II, p41, 8‑11 [Diels-Kranz]). It is developed by Aristotle in Meteorology, III.4, 373a32–375b15 (cf. Areius Didymus's Epitome, frag. 14 = Dox. Graeci, p455.14 ff., and Seneca, Nat. Quaest. I.3). Diogenes Laertius, VII.152 cites Posidonius for the definition ἶριν δ’ εἶναι . . . ὡς Ποσειδώνιός φησιν . . . ἔμφασιν ἡλίου τμήματος ἢ σελήνης ἐν νέφει δεδροσισμένῳ, κοίλῳ καὶ συνεχεῖ πρὸς φαντασίαν, ὡς ἐν κατόπτρῳ φανταζομένην κατὰ κύκλου περιφέρειαν (cf. Seneca, Nat. Quaest. I.5.13); and Adler (Diss. Phil. Vind. X, pp128‑129) contends that Posidonius was Plutarch's source for the formulation of the theory. Plutarch's οἴεσθ’ ὑμεῖς, however, addressed to Apollonides must be intended to ascribe the theory generally to "you mathematicians"; and this is confirmed by the passage of De Iside cited above, which reads: καὶ καθάπερ οἱ μαθηματικοὶ τὴν ἶριν . . . λέγουσι . . . . On the difference between the theories of Aristotle and Posidonius cf. O. Gilbert, Die meteorologischen Theorien des griechischen Altertums, pp614‑616.

14 Powell (Collectanea Alexandrina, p9) prints these lines as fragment 2 of the Phaenomena of Hegesianax; see note a on p39 supra.

15 Cf. Strabo, I.1.8 (I, p6.4‑7 [Meineke]).

16 The language is that of painting; cf. Lucian, Zeuxis, 5: τῶν χρωμάτων ἀκριβῆ τὴν κρᾶσιν καὶ εὔκαιρον τὴν ἐπιβολὴν ποιήσασθαι.

17 i.e. "you mathematicians"; see οἴεσθ’ ὑμεῖς in 921A supra. The reference is to the eccentrics of Hipparchus's theory of the motion of the moon. For defence of the text and a detailed interpretation of this sentence cf. Class. Phil. XLVI (1951), pp137‑138.

18 Because Hipparchus was a mathematician and not a physicist (φυσιολόγος); on the difference cf. Geminus in Simplicius, Phys. pp291.23‑292.29, and the phrase, διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐφωδιάσθαι ἀπὸ φυσιολογίας, which Theon of Smyrna (p188.19‑20) uses of Hipparchus.

19 Plato's theory; cf. Timaeus, 45C and De Placitis, 901B‑C = Aëtius, IV.13.11 (Dox. Graeci, p404).

20 Cf. Adv. Coloten, 1112C and De Placitis, 901A‑B = Aëtius, IV.13.1 (Dox. Graeci, p403.2‑4). The present passage seems to imply that Hipparchus's explanation of vision resembled that of Epicurus. In De Placitis, 901B = Aëtius, IV.13.9 (Dox. Graeci, p404) a theory of vision is attributed to Hipparchus, however, which does not at all resemble that of the atomists; but the name Hipparchus there is probably a mistake, cf. Class Phil. XLVI (1951), p154, n6.

21 Lamprias addresses Apollonides and Aristotle, for that the moon is an ethereal and luminiferous star is the Peripatetic theory (cf. the statement of Aristotle at 928E infra and the references in the note there) and that is why it is ascribed to Clearchus. Obviously then ὑμῖν of the MSS. must be an error and should be changed to ἡμῖν, for that the moon is a body with weight and solidity is the opinion of the Academy, i.e. of Lamprias, Lucius, and their circle (cf. 926C, 928C, 931B‑C infra).

22 Von Arnim (S. V. F. II, p198) prints this and some of the subsequent fragments as frag. 673 among the Physical Fragments of Chrysippus. For the Stoic doctrine that the moon is a mixture of air and fire cf. De Placitis, 891B and 892B (= Aëtius, II.25.5 [Dox. Graeci, p356] and II.30.5 [Dox. Graeci, p361]), and S. V. F. II, p136.32. The "gentle fire" here mentioned is the πῦρ τεχνικόν as distinguished from destructive fire (cf. S. V. F. I, p34.22‑27 and II, p200.14‑16). For the Stoic explanation of the face in the moon cf. S. V. F. II, p199.3‑5 (= Philo Judaeus, De Somniis, I, §145); and for the simile of the ripple cf. Iliad, VII.63‑64.

23 See 929B and 929F infra. This comrade was the leader of the earlier discussion, which is here being recapitulated, and is probably to be identified with Plutarch himself (so Hirzel, Der Dialog, II, p184, n2, and Hartman, De Plutarcho, p557); cf. De Tuenda Sanitate, 122F for a similar situation and Quaest. Conviv. 643C, where Hagias addresses Plutarch as "comrade."

24 Cf. S. V. F., II, p212.38‑39 (Chrysippus), III, p217.12‑13 (Diogenes of Babylon); in general Quaest. Conviv. 658F-659A, and Roscher, Über Selene und Verwandtes, p116.

25 Cf. 938B infra. In De Iside, 354C Isis, who later is identified with the moon (372D), is identified with Athena (cf. 376A). Cf. Roscher, op. cit. pp123 f. (on the supposed fragment of Aristotle there cited see V. Rose, Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus, pp616 [no. 4] and 617).

26 Cf. Odyssey, XXIII.330 and XXIV.539; Hesiod, Theogony, 515; Pindar, Nemean, X.71; Aristotle, Meteorology, 371a17‑24.

27 See 934B‑C infra.

28 Cf. Cornutus, chap. 18 (p33.18‑22 Lang); Heracliti Quaestiones Homericae, § 26 (p41.2‑6 Oelmann).

29 Cf. S. V. F. II. p184.2‑5: . . . ἐξαιθεροῦσθαι πάντα . . . εἰς πῦρ αἰθερῶδες ἀναλυομένων πάντων. The "ether" here is Stoic ether, i.e. a kind of fire (cf. De Primo Frigido, 951C‑D and note d on 928D infra), not Aristotle's "fifth essence," which does not enter into the process of the alteration of simple bodies.

30 Cf. De Primo Frigido, 951D, 952B, 953D-954A: but the Stoic opinion given in 949B (= S. V. F. II, p142.6‑10) was that solidification (πῆξις) is a state produced in water by air, and Galen reports (S. V. F. II, p145.8‑11) that according to the Stoics the hardness and resistance of earth are caused by fire and air.

31 Cf. Aristotle, De Caelo, 289a19‑32, Meteorology, 341a17‑19; Ideler, Aristotelis Meteorologica, I, pp359‑360.

32 Empedocles, A 60 (I, p294.24‑31 [Diels-Kranz]); cf. [Plutarch], Stromat. § 10 = Dox. Graeci, p582, 12‑15 = I, p288.30‑32 (Diels-Kranz); and C. E. Millard, On the Interpretation of Empedocles, pp65‑68.

33 Chrysippus, frag. 570 (S. V. F. II, p178.20‑22), cf. De Primo Frigido, 952F. With the words ὥς φατε Lamprias addresses Pharnaces as representative of the Stoics, for whose doctrine of the instantaneous alteration of air by light see 930F infra and the references there; cf. especially κατὰ νύξιν ἢ ψαῦσιν there with ἂν ἐπιψαύσῃ μόνον, ὥς φατε, here. Aristotle originated the doctrine that the transparent medium is altered instantaneously throughout its whole extent by the mere presence of light at any point (cf. De Sensu, 446b27–447a10 and De Anima, 418b9 ff.).

34 i.e. on the Stoic theory.

35 The word τὸ περίακτον occurs in Comp. Lys. Sulla, III, 476E, where it seems to mean "the old saw," though it may refer to a proverbial state of "inside out and wrong side to." In De Gloria Atheniensium, 348E Plutarch mentions μηχανὰς ἀπὸ σκηνῆς περιάκτους, but that rather tells against taking τὸ περίακτον as the name of this stage-machine. He uses περιαγωγή in de Genio Socratis, 588D in the sense of "distraction" and in Praecepta Gerenda Reipublicae, 819A in the sense of "a trick of diversion," a sense which certainly suits τὸ περίακτον in the present context. The complaint of Pharnaces is frequently made by the interlocutors of Socrates; cf. Xenophon, Memorabilia, IV.4.9; Plato, Republic, 336C; Aristotle, Soph. Elench. 183b6‑8.

36S. V. F. I, p112, frag. 500; the title, "Against Aristarchus," appears in the list of Cleanthes' writings given by Diogenes Laertius, VII.174. For the theory of Aristarchus cf. Plutarch, Plat. Quaest. 1006C; De Placitis 891A = Aëtius, II.24.8 (Dox. Graeci, p355); Archimedes, Arenarius, I.1.4‑7 (Opera Omnia, II, p218 Heiberg); Sextus Empiricus, Adv. Math. X.174; T. L. Heath, Aristarchus of Samos, pp301 ff.

37 i.e. we Academics, the party which did in fact maintain that the moon is an earthy body.

38 i.e. you Stoics; cf. Achilles, Isagogê, 4 = S. V. F. II, frag. 555, p175.36 ff.

39 This would not have been admitted by most of the Stoics, who thought that the moon is larger than the earth; but in this Posidonius and possibly others disagreed with the earlier members of the school; cf. Aëtius, II.26.1 (Dox. Graeci, p357 and p68, n1), and M. Adler, Diss. Phil. Vind. X (1910), p155.

40 Cf. Cleomedes II.1, § 80 (p146.18 ff. Ziegler); Simplicius, De Caelo, p471.6‑11.

41 Cf. Cleomedes, II.2 §§ 93‑94 (p170.11 ff. Ziegler); Theon of Smyrna, p197.1 ff. (Hiller); Pliny, Nat. Hist. II.11 (8).51.

42 Cf. De Defectu Oraculorum, 410D. Homer uses the phrase θοὴ νύξ frequently (e.g. Iliad, X.394 [cf. Leaf's note ad loc.], Odyssey XII.284). Another θοός, supposedly meaning "pointed," "sharp" and cognate with ἐθόωσα in Odyssey, IX.327, is used of certain islands in Odyssey, XV.299 (cf. Strabo, VIII.350‑351; Pseudo-Plutarch, De Vita et Poesi HomeriB, 21 [VII, p347.19 ff. Bernardakis]). The latter passage so understood was used to support the hypothesis that θοὴ νύξ referred to the "sharpness" of the earth's shadow: cf. Heracliti Quaestiones Homericae, §§ 45‑46 (p67.13 ff. Oelmann). Eustathius (Comment. ad Iliadem, 814.15 ff.) mentions besides this another astronomical interpretation of the phrase by Crates of Mallos.

43 For this temporal dative without ἐν cf. Theon of Smyrna, p194.1‑3 (Hiller).

44 Cf. De An. Proc. in Timaeo, 1028D where Plutarch ascribes to geometers the approximate calculation of three to one as the ratio of the earth's diameter to that of the moon and of twelve to one as the ratio of the sun's diameter to that of the earth, figures which agree roughly with those of Hipparchus (t : 1 : s = 1 . ⅓ . 12⅓; cf. Heath, Aristarchus of Samos, pp342 and 350 after Hultsch). Hipparchus, however, considered the breadth of the shadow at the moon's mean distance from the earth in eclipses to be 2½ lunar diameters (Ptolemy, Syntaxis, IV.9 [I p327.1‑4 Heiberg]), while Aristarchus, whose calculations of the moon's diameter Plutarch quotes at 932B infra, declared the shadow to be 2 lunar diameters in breadth (cf. Aristarchus, Hypothesis 5 [Heath, op. cit. p352.13]; Pappus, Collectionis Quae Supersunt, II, p554.17‑18 and p556.14‑17 [Hultsch]), the figure given by Cleomedes as well (pp146.18‑19 and 178.8‑13 [Ziegler]; cf. Geminus, Elementa, ed. Manitius, p272). Plutarch may here simply have assumed that the ratio of the lunar diameter to the breadth of the shadow would be the same as the Hipparchean ratio of the lunar diameter to the diameter of the earth; but he may also have erroneously supposed that the time taken by the moon to enter the shadow, the time of complete obscuration, and the time taken to leave the shadow equal three diameters instead of two (cf. Cleomedes, p146.21‑25 [Ziegler] and M. Adler, Diss. Phil. Vind. X [1910], p156, n2).

45 Aeschylus, Prometheus Vinct. 351‑352 (Smyth).

46 Pindar, frag. 88 (Bergk) = 79 (Bowra).

47 i.e. the Sinhalese; cf. Strabo, II.1.14, chap. 72 and XV.1.14, chap. 690; Pliny, Nat. Hist. VI.22 (24).

48 Cf. Aristotle, De Caelo, 284a24‑26 and 295a16‑21 (on Empedocles [Cherniss, Aristotle's Criticism of Presocratic Philosophy, p204, n234]). Plutarch himself in Lysander, XII.3‑4 (439D) ascribes to Anaxagoras the notion that the heavenly bodies are kept from falling by the speed of their circular motion.

49 Here Lucius assumes the Stoic theory of the composition of the moon in order to rebut the Stoic objections.

50 Cf. Seneca, Nat. Quaest. VII.1.7: ". . . magni fuere viri, qui sidera crediderunt ex duro concreta et ignem alienum pascentia. 'nam per se,' inquiunt, 'flamma diffugeret, nisi aliquid haberet, quod teneret et a quo teneretur, conglobatamque nec stabili inditam corpori, profecto iam mundus turbine suo dissipasset.' "

51 Cf. Aristotle's remark (Meteorology, 353a34-b5) about the ancient θεολόγοι who assumed ῥίζαι γῆς καὶ θαλάττης and see Hesiod, Theogony, 728; Aeschylus, Prometheus Vinct. 1046‑1047; and the "Orphic" lines quoted by Proclus, In Timaeum, 211C (II, p231.27‑28 [Diehl]) = Kern, Orphicorum Fragmenta, 168.29‑30 (p202). The phrase ῥίζα καὶ βάσις is applied to the earth itself in a different sense by "Timaeus Locrus" (97E). For the ascription to Xenophanes of the notion that the earth ἐπ’ ἄπειρον ἐρρίζωται cf. Xenophanes, frag. A 47 (I, pp125‑126 [Diels-Kranz]).

52S. V. F. II, p195, frag. 646. This is the doctrine of proper place and natural motion, originally Aristotelian and ascribed to Aristotle in De Defectu Oraculorum, 424B but adopted also by the Stoics (cf. S. V. F. II, p162.14‑19; p169.8‑11; p175.16‑35; p178.12‑15); it should not be confused, however, as Raingeard confuses it, with the Stoic doctrine that the universe itself is in the middle of the void (De Defectu Oraculorum, 425D‑E, De Stoicorum Repugnantiis, 1054C‑D).

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