2 Vergil, Eclogues 6.31–40
For he sang how, through the great empty,
The seeds of earth, wind (anima) and sea collided,
And also of liquid fire; […]
Namque canebat, uti magnum per inane coacta
semina terrarumque animaeque marisque fuissent,
et liquidi simul ignis; ut his exordia primis
omnia et ipse tener mundi concreverit orbis;
tum durare solum et discludere Nerea ponto
coeperit, et rerum paulatim sumere formas;
iamque novum terrae stupeant lucescere solem,
altius atque cadant submotis nubibus imbres;
incipiant silvae cum primum surgere, cumque
rara per ignaros errent animalia montis.
3 Servius on Eclogues 3.61
The opinions of the philosophers about the origin of things are various; for some say that all things originate from fire, like Anaxagoras;1 others, from moisture, like Thales of Miletus, whence derives (the line)
“And father Oceanus …” (Georgics 4.382).
Others, from four elements, like Empedocles, in accordance with whom Lucretius says:
“From rain, earth and breath (anima) they arise, and from fire.”2
But the Epicureans, whom (Vergil) is following now, approve none of these, but say that there are two principles of things, body and the empty, because everything that is either contains or is contained. And they think that body is atoms, that is certain smalles parts, which do not admit tomē, that is division, which is why they are called ‘atoms’.3 Lucretius4 has said that they are smaller than those particles which we see in rays of sunlight that shine in through a window. For he says that sight cannot grasp them. And they say that the empty is the space in which the atoms are. They believe that from these two principles, those four – fire, air, water, earth – are generated, and from these, everything else, so that the two are elements, but the four syntheta, i.e., composites from those two, furnish the origin of all other things. That all things consist of atoms and the empty is proved through this reasoning, that there is nothing in the nature of things which does not both have a body and, because it admits of division, also indicates emptiness.
“… that the seeds collided through the great empty”: (Silenus) sang, says (Vergil), of the principle of the world, that is how the atoms, having collided and combined through the great empty, were the origin of fire, air, earth and sea; for by “seeds” he means the atoms. And we say haec atomus and hae atomi.5
1 This must be a mistake for Heraclitus.
2 Not in the extant text of Lucretius.
4 On the Nature of Things 2.114–117.
5 I.e., atomus is feminine in gender, although the ending –us would imply that it is masculine.
4 Pseudo-Probus on Eclogues 3.61
<I. Two guiding questions>
(1) So much in brief.1 Now, to go through every issue, the question is raised whether the poet is talking about the principles of things coming together for just these four2 or for all things, and then, whether he makes equivalent pronouncements when he treats the same subject or rather mixes up different things.3
1 It is not clear to me whether this refers to the commentary as extant – which indeed is very hurried up to this point – or to prior, less discursive scholia on the present Vergilian passage.
2 I.e., the four elements/regions explicitly mentioned in Vergil’s text.
3 The question of whether Vergil has a consistent philosophical doctrine seems to have been an important one. Tiberius Donatus entirely denies that Vergil wants to teach philosophy: […]
<II. The question of authority>
(1) So, in order for us to more fully understand the sense (of) the passage which begins from this verse:
“For he sang how, through the great empty, the seeds collided …” (Eclogues 6.31–32),
(2) it is Vergil’s usage to affirm nothing important (magnum) with his own authority, but either to say that it was received from the Muses or to attribute something marvelous to fama (‘rumor, oral tradition’). (3) Some say that this (is a signal) of mistrust; for if he affirmed it himself, they say, he would more easily lead the opinions of humans to belief.1 (4) But in fact, the poet makes a stronger affirmation when he declares that fama agrees with his own opinion, as in the following:
“(Carthage,) which Juno is said (to have loved) more than all regions” (Aeneid 1.15),
and the following:
“The fama is that the body of Enceladus, half-burnt by lightning, / is crushed by this mass” (Aeneid 3.578–579),
and the following:
“Daedalus, as fama holds, when he was fleeing Minos’ realm” (Aeneid 6.14),
and the following:
“For they hold by fama that Hippolytus, after the art of his stepmother…” (Aeneid 7.765),
and the following:
“Why tell (how Silen sang) of Nisus’ daughter Scylla, of whom fama holds that,
With a white waist girt about with barking monsters,
She attacked the Dulichian boats” (Eclogue 6.74–76)?
All of which would be seen as mythical (fabulosa) and empty if the authority of fama did not support them.2 (5) But here, he affirms what he sings with the fama of Silenus as if with the authority of a god.3
1 I.e., the other group of commentators think appeals to fama and the Muses are signs that Vergil is distancing himself from what is being said.
2 The argument is weak, since on either account, appeal to fama is a sign of mythical material.
3 So, if anything in Vergil is to be taken seriously, then this.
<III. Interpreting Vergil’s four elements through an exegesis of Empedocles>
(1) So, (Vergil) gives the account that this entire form of the nature of things, at first dispersed in a fine and empty mass, was condensed into the four elements, and that all things were thereafter formed out of these, as the Stoics hand down, (namely) Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus of Soli and Cleanthes of Assos, (2) who had their preceptor in Empedocles of Agrigentum, who wrote the following about these things:
“First, there were four roots of all things,
Glistening (gr. argēs) Zeus, lifebearing (pheresbios) Hera, and Aidoneus,
And Nestis, who washes the mortal kind with her bitter tears.”
(3) Where we take Zeus argēs as fire, which is seething (gr. zeōn) and glowing, which is the property of fire, (4) about which Euripides (writes):
“You see above that infinite ether,
Which surrounds the moist in its embrace,
This regard as Zeus.”1
(5) and Ennius:
“See that which glows up on high, which all call Jupiter.”
(6) Now, argēs is ‘bright’ (gr. lampros) or ‘fast’ (gr. tachys). For Homer also (writes) ‘and the swift hounds’ (gr. kai kynas argous); and Argus ‘shines’ and sees everywhere.2 (7) And following this (usage),3 Vergil says:
“And of the liquidus fire” (Eclogues 6.33),
meaning ‘pure’, non not ‘liquid’, and
“passed above the liquidus ether” (Aeneid 6.202),
in the sense of ‘pure’; and again
“Which can happen by iron or by liquidum electrum” (Aeneid 8.402),
(meaning electrum) ‘of a pure color’. And he says,
“They stretch out their chambers with liquidum nectar” (Georgics 4.164),
he again does not mean liquidus in the sense of ‘liquid’, but in the sense of ‘pure’. (8) For this passage is a praise of the work of bees, and it is not praiseworthy for honey that is fluid, but a distiction for it to have a bright appearance.
(9) And Hērē pheresbios (‘lifebearing Hera’) means the earth, which provides sustenance, (and) of which Homer (says) zeidōros aroura (‘lifegiving earth’), whence some call Hēra era (‘earth’).
(10) Ēd’ Aidōneus (‘and Aidoneus’) signifies Father Dis in translation, but we must take it as ‘air’, (11) which Euripides in the Cadmus has called chaos:4
“Heaven, over us [unintelligible] divine seat;
And what lies in the middle between heaven and
Earth, some call it chaos.”
(12) Because it seems to some that the air, which lies both above the mountains and, more sluggishly, below the earth,5 is duller than the rest, which lie above it,6 and so obtains the position of the underworld (vicem inferorum). (13) They say that Vergil has noted this as follows in the sixth (book):7
“They passed by and by through the whole region
In the happy fields of the air, and surveyed all things” (Aeneid 6.887),
(14) So that after death, with the dissolution of the body, the shades are kept in this fog, but the souls are sent to the uppermost air, because it is purer.8
(14) Nestis signifies water, which restores all things to a clean appearance; for that which (water) receives is believed to preserve the same appearance.9
1 The text is corrupt, but probably as intended by Pseudo-Probus; Euripides wrote of Ether embracing the earth in a moist embrace.
2 The giant Argus, who has eyes all over his body, is supposed to be named after the ‘shine’ of his eyes. Vision was understood as functioning through rays analogous to beams of light.
3 I.e., using liquidus in the same senses as the Greek argēs.
4 The sense of the argument is that chaos was also used as a term for the underworld, justifying the interpretation of air as belonging to Dispater.
5 Earthquakes were commonly explained by reference to subterranean winds.
6 And so is the lowest of the elements.
7 I.e., in the description of Aeneas’ journey in the underworld.
8 The distinction between shade and soul (or similar terms) is a common method for Vergil commentators to make sense of incongruities in descriptions of the afterlife.
<IV. A different schema>1
(1) But Cicero inversely interprets Aidoneus as ‘earth’ and Hera as ‘air’ in On the Nature of the Gods 2:
“The air, the Stoics say, which is placed between the sea and heaven, is consecrated with the name of Juno, who is the sister and spouse of Jupiter, because there is a similarity of air with him and at the highest point, a connection with him. And they made it female and attributed it to Juno because nothing is softer than it. But I believe that Juno is named from ‘helping’ (iuvando)” (Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 2.66).
So much about the air. Below, he says the following about the earth:
“All earthly power and nature is dedicated to Dis pater, who is called Dives (‘rich’), like Ploutōn (‘rich’) in Greek, because all things both return to the earth and arise from the earth” (Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 2.66).
(2) Homer signifies the same thing in the following:
“Threefold are all things divided, each has been allotted a domain:
I (Poseidon) won the gray sea to live there forever
When the lots were shaken, Hades won the cloudy darkness,
While Zeus won broad heaven amid ether and clouds,
But the earth is common to all, and great Olympus” (Homer, Iliad 15.189–193).
Insofar as ether pertains to Jupiter, the sea to Neptune, the earth to the rule of Dis, and the earth has come to rest in the air. (3) It must be noted that Homer agrees on this with Empedocles and Heracleon,2 according to Cicero’s divergent opinion.
1 On this chapter, see Peter Kingsley, “Empedocles and His Interpreters: The Four-Element Doxography”, in: Phronesis 39.3 (1994), 235–254, especially 247 onwards.
2 A Homeric commentator (?).
<V. A fifth principle>
(1) Aristotle says that there are four elements, that water and earth are carried downwards by their own weight, that fire and air are lifted up by their lightness, and he adds a fifth, the ether, as his own to these four elements, separated and free of weight. (2) Aristotle says that fire and ether are not the same, and that the difference of these elements is proven from this, that fire consumes all things, but ether maintains and nourishes all things. (3) Anaxagoras joins a ruler (rector) to the four established elements, either a spirit (spiritus) or a god (deus) or mind (mens), by which these four are ruled.1 (4) He makes the mental capacity (sensus) the principle of all things; Plato follows him when he says the following in his book On the Soul:
“But once, I heard someone reading from a book of Anaxagoras, as it seemed, and saying that it is mind (nous) which orders all things and is the cause of all things. I was pleased with this cause and it seemed right to me that the mind should be the cause of all things, and I thought that, if it is so, then the mind orders all things and establishes each thing just as it is best for it” (Plato, Phaedo 97b–c).
(5) And Vergil likewise has followed this in saying:
“A spirit sustains from within, and pervading the joints,
A mind moves the whole mass” (Aeneid, 6.726–727).
For what Anaxagoras called ‘mind’ (gr. nous), (Vergil) here called ‘spirit’ (spiritus).
1 In fact, Anaxagoras did not teach that there were a definite number of elements. The terminology used here is very close to that found in Servius’ interpretation of Vergil, Aeneid 6.724–751 (the speech of Anchises, interpreted in a different manner by Pseudo-Probus below).
<VI. On Aen. 6.724ff: Anchises>
(1) And since we have touched on this passage, it is pertinent to the present question to briefly consider also what Vergil does here. The verses run as follows:
“Firstly, heaven and earth and the liquid fields,
And the glowing orb of the moon and the Titanian stars,
(All these) a spirit sustains from within” (Aeneid, 6.724–726).
(2) Why does he there have Anchises discuss what here the god Silenus (says)? (3) Unless because the poet Ennius presented Anchises as having had a share in augury and, through this, in the divine, as follows:
“And learned Anchises, whom Venus, the beautiful among the goddesses,
Gave the gift of speaking, to have a divine heart.”1
(4) Naevius in Punic War 3 as follows:
“After Anchises observed a bird in the sky,2
Sacrificed were laid out in order on the table of the Penates;
He sacrificed a beautiful golden victim.”
(5) Vergil as follows:
“And if we merit it by our piety,
Then grant us an omen,3 father,4 and confirm these signs” (Aeneid 2.690–691).
For if he did not ask for omens, he could not wish for them to be confirmed. (6) Then, when a star is seen, he says:
“The omen (augurium) is yours,5 and Troy is in your protection” (Aeneid 2.703).
(7) Again in Aeneid 3, when (Aeneas and his people) first come to Italy, where they take auspices, and to the temple in the fortress of Minerva, Vergil (narrates) that the city was founded by Idomeneus and the Salentines; it is sacred to Minerva, whence it has the name Castrum Minervae (‘Minerva’s Fortress’). (8) Something about this matter is also recorded by Varro, who is called the Menippean, not becaused he was named after his teacher – since the age (of Menippus) was much earlier –, but due to a similarity of talents, since he too composed his satires in every kind of poem.6 (9) In Human Affairs 3, (Varro) records:
“The name of the Salentine people (gens) is said to have derived from thee places, from Crete, Illyricum and Italy. After Idomeneus was expelled from the city Blanda on Crete through an insurrection in the war of the Magnesians, he went with many troops to king Divitius in Illyricum. After receiving further troops from him, and being joined on the sea by many Locrian refugees, who attached themselves in friendship on account of their similar situation, he went to Locri.7 As the city was emptied through fear of him, he took that place into possession and founded a number of cities, among which are Uria and the most noble Castrum Minervae. The army was divided into three parts and twelve peoples (populi). They are called Salentines because they joined in friendship on the high sea (salo).”
(10) So, after Anchises has noticed horses next to this fortress or town, he exclaims like a diviner (augur):
‘War, o hospitable earth, you carry:
For war are the horses armed, war do these herds portend,
But the animals are also wont to be harnessed to chariots at times
And to bear the bit under the yoke.
There is also hope of peace,’ he says (Aeneid 3.539–543).
(11) So it is fitting that Anchises talks about divine matters elsewhere, as Silenus does here.
1 I.e., the gift of divination.
2 In templo, i.e., in a region of the sky marked out for divination.
3 Augurium in place of the received text’s auxilium (‘give us help’).
4 Anchises is addressing Jupiter.
6 Not only in a variety of poetic meters, but more importantly, in a combination of prose and verse (now called prosimetrum). This specific genre is now called Menippean satire, but because Menippus’ own works are lost, it is controversial which later works actually belong to the genre. In any case, Human Affairs was a simple prose work, so VI.8 is gratuitous.
7 In Italy.
<VII. On Aen. 6.724ff: four principles>
(1) So let us ask, whether (Vergil) also elects four principles there, as here:
“Firstly, heaven and earth and the liquid fields,
And the glowing orb of the moon and the Titanian stars,
(All these) a spirit sustains from within.” (Aeneid, 6.724–726)
(2) Now, he has named earth straightforwardly, and by the ‘liquid fields’, he means the sea. (3) As for ‘heaven’ (caelum), if we take it in the sense of fire, where is the air? And if we rather take ‘heaven’ in the sense of air, where can we find fire? (4) Aemilius Asper, in his annotation on this passage, says as follows:
(Vergil) usually joins these parts of nature, so as to divide (natura) in three. For elsewhere too:
“The seas, the earth and deep heaven” (Aeneid 1.58).
And Homer likewise:
“He wrought the earth in it, the heavens in it and the sea in it” (Iliad 18.483).
(5) But in fact, we can prove that Homer too in this very passage has made mention of the four elements. For en men gaian eteuxen (‘he wrought the earth in it’) signifies Achilles, as an earthly human, for whom the weapons were made, en d’ ouranon means the air, in which they were made; fire, we can bring in from elsewhere (extrinsecus), in Vulcan himself.1 (6) Ennius likewise in the Medea in Exile in the following verses:
“And you, Jupiter, and highest Sun, who see all things,
Who contain in your light the seas, the earth and heaven,
Behold this misdeed before it is done; prevent the crime.”
For here too Jupiter and the Sun have the sense of fire, which contains the sea, the earth and heaven, so it is not doubtful that (Ennius) has said heaven in the sense of air, (7) as Vergil does here:
“Daedalus, as fama holds, when he was fleeing Minos’ realms,
Dared to trust himself to heaven on swift wings” (Aeneid 6.14–15).
For the air supports Daedalus as he flies, whereas fire would betray him, as it did Icarus.2 (8) Also in this passage:
“A pair of doves chanced
To come flying from heaven before the man’s very eyes” (Aeneid 6.190–191).
For the flight of birds too is through the air. (9) Lucretius is even clearer when he says:
“In this heaven, which is called air” (On the Nature of Things 4.132).
(10) And as for Homer’s verse
“and the tireless sun” (Iliad 18.484),3
Some think that it signifies fire, because the sun is believed to be nothing other than light mixed with fire. (11) That this was Anaxagoras of Clazomenae’s view, Socrates criticized, as Xenophon narrates in Memorabilia 4, as follows:4
“(Socrates) said that someone who busies himself with these subjects risks becoming deranged no less than Anaxagoras was deranged, who thought very highly of himself for explaining the devices of the gods. For that man, in saying that the Sun is the same thing as a fire, ignored that humans can easily look at a fire, whereas they cannot look into the Sun, and that they take on a darker skin color when they are subject to sunlight, but not through the light of fire; he also ignored that the things that grow from the earth cannot grow properly without sunlight, whereas anything heated by fire is destroyed; and in saying that the Sun is a burning stone, he also ignored this, that a stone that is in fire neither glows nor resists it for a long time, whereas the Sun persists through all time, being the brightest of all beings” (Memorabilia 4.7.6–7).
(12) So, if, following the examples, we understand ‘heaven’ to be put in the sense of air in Vergil, we will interpret it as fire when he says:
“and the Titanian stars” (Aeneid 6.725).
(13) For that these are fiery can be proved through (Vergil) himself, especially because he says:
“Where great Atlas5
Wheels heaven studded with burning stars on his shoulder” (Aeneid 6.797–798).
“Each time the Night veils the earth with dewy shades,
Each time the fiery stars rise, my father Anchises’ (image) …” (Aeneid 4.351–352).
“For neither were there the fires of the stars” (Aeneid 3.585);
“And may the Cnosian star of the burning Crown6 withdraw” (Georgics 1.222).
1 The line from the Iliad is part of a description (18.478–608) of the intricate imagery embossed on a shield made by Vulcan for Achilles. Pseudo-Probus argues that fire did not need to be mentioned in the cosmological image because it is represented by Vulcan himself.
2 Servius ad loc.?
3 This follows just after the line quoted by Aemilius Asper.
4 Note that Pseudo-Probus aligns Homer and Vergil with Anaxagoras, despite Socrates’ invective.
5 Since Atlas is a Titan, this example is probably intentionally placed first, as an implicit explanation of the phrase “Titanian stars”.
(14) Further, Cicero in On the Nature of the Gods 2, as follows:
The highest part of heaven, which is called the ethereal part, encircles (the air), retains its own fine heat,1 is not combined with any admixture, and is joined to the outermost part of the air. The stars revolve in the ether; they maintain their sphericity by their own force and they sustain their motions through that form and shape. For they are round, because these shapes, as I think I have said before, are least capable of being harmed. And stars are by nature fiery, on account of which they are nourished by the vapors2 of the earth and of the sea and other waters, which are drawn out by the Sun from fields it warms and from waters. Nourished and renewed by these, the stars and the whole ether shed them back and in turn draw them up in the same way, so that almost nothing perishes, or only a very small part that the fire of the stars and the flame of the ether consume. From this, our people3 think it follows – although they used to say that Panaetius questioned it – that ultimately, the whole world will catch fire, because when the moisture has been consumed, neither can the earth be nourished nor will the air flow, because it cannot arise when all water is exhausted. Therefore, nothing is left except fire, from which, as a living being, and through which in turn a renewal of the world comes about, and the same ornament4 will arise. (On the Nature of the Gods 2.117–118)
1 I.e. its fineness and its heat.
3 The Stoics – spoken by the Stoic character Balbus, not in Cicero’s own voice.
4 Ornatus = gr. kosmos = world.
(15) But if we shall understand ‘heaven’ (caelum) in the sense of fire in these verses –1 which Varro proves to be called both mundus (lat. ‘world’) and kosmos (gr. ‘world’) in the Cynica which he entitled The Jar (Dolium aut Seria), as follows:
“The world is the greatest house of the little human (homullus), which five high-thundering flaming zones encircle;2 through it, a high band in the slanting ether, painted with twice six signs gleaming with stars,3 receives the two-horse chariot of the Moon.”4
(16) Postumius’, for whom unguents stink:5
“It is called ‘heaven’ (caelum) after ‘engraving’ (caelatura), in Greek kosmos (‘ornament, world’) after ‘ornamentation’, in Latin mundus (‘pure, world’) after ‘purity’.”
(17) If we thus take ‘heaven’ in the sense of ‘fire’, it remains that we, for example in the following:
“A spirit sustains from within” (Aeneid 6.726),
assume that air is being named. (18) It is also (air) which supplies us with the breaths (spirituum) of life. (19) Ennius also names it so in the Annals:
“Warrior woman of Tartarean body, born of the bog,
For whom rain and fire, breath (spiritus) and the heavy earth are equal.”
(20) Again, Lucilius in Satires 28:
“When you’ve done this, he’ll be handed over to Lupus together with others.
He doesn’t come (to court); (Lupus) will deprive the man of principles (gr. archai)
And stoechia (gr.-lat. ‘elements’) at once, when he forbids him fire and water.6
He still has two stoechia, as he’ll retain soul and body:
The body is gē (gr. ‘earth’), the soul is pneuma (gr. ‘breath’). Yet of these latter
Stoechia, if he prefers that, (Lupus) will also deprive him.”
1 The thought is continued in VII.17.
3 The zodiac.
4 Four-horse, two-horse, horses: Lactantius Placidus
5 A corrupt title.
(21) And Cicero in the same book as above:
“Firstly, the earth, situated in the central part of the world, is surrounded in all directions by that breathable (animabilis, spirabilis) nature whose name is air” (On the Nature of the Gods 2.91).
(22) But as Vergil in the verses above1 (writes)
“of the earth and breath (anima)” (Eclogues 6.32)
when he means air, we may take breath (spiritus) in the sense of air in these verses too, so that there will be a description of the four elements. (23) As an image of it, Varro has compared an egg to the world in the Logistoricus which is entitled Tubero, On Human Origin, saying as follows:
“Heaven is like the shell, the yolk like the earth, between these two there is a liquid, like ikmas (gr. ‘moisture’); air, in which there is warmth, is caught in (the liquid?).”
In the same book Varro also gives the interpretation that it is called ‘yolk’ (vitellum) because it generates the vital organs (vitalia). (24) Now, likewise in what Vergil says,
“Unless he did so, they would carry the sea, the earth and deep heaven
Swiftly with them, and sweep them through the winds” (Aeneid 1.58–59),
He has not divided the world into three parts, as Asper believes. For here the winds2 are taken from the next verse (extrinsecus) in the sense of air. (25) In favor of this argument, we adduce an example of Ennius from Annals 3:
“And on thick wings, the eagle strained to fly
On the wind, which the people of the Grecians call ‘air’3 in their language.”
1 Part of Silenus’ song.
2 Venti, in reference to auras in the Aeneid 1.58–59.
3 Aer is spelled in Latin script here, but it long remained recognizable as a loanword from Greek.
(26) Again, when Vergil says:
Who vexes the sea, the earth and heaven out of fear” (Aeneid 1.279–280),
He is not to be understood as being an authority for only three elements. (27) For the name of Juno has the meaning of air according to the example of Cicero above, in which he declares her to be joined with Jupiter, as the air that borders on ether.
(28) Again, the verses of Homer relate the same meaning, when Jupiter says in chastisement:
“Or do you not remember how I once hanged you from high,
Bound anvils to both of your feet, bound around your hands
A golden chain, unbreakable, and hanged you in the ether
And the clouds” (Iliad 15.18–21).
Jupiter said these things to Juno, as a threat. (29) But how can we understand the hanging of Juno be, except as the suspended element of air?1 What are the weights hanged from her feet, unless they rest on the earth and the sea? And what is the golden chain, unless it is fiery? (30) Come now – if you pronounce the Greek name of Juno often, does it not become doubled?2 Indeed, the name of the air follows, i.e., it begins as Hēra and when it is repeated again and again, it becomes aēr. (31) So also, where the gods contend with arms against each other in Homer, Juno […]3 Diana is the same as the Moon, and the Moon is used to undergo obscuration through the diffused density of the air.
(32) However, Cicero says that to him, Luna or Diana and Juno seem to be the same in On the Nature of the Gods 2:
“Luna is named after ‘shining’ (lucendo), the same as Lucina.4 Therefore, among us, they invoke Juno Lucina in childbirth, as among the Greeks they invoke Diana, and (specifically) her as Lucifera (‘lightbringer’). She is also called Diana Omnivaga (‘all-roaming’), not because of her hunting, but because she is numbered among the seven so-called ‘roamers’.5 She is called Diana because she brings about a kind of day (diem) at night. She is invoked for births because (fetuses) mature over the course of occassionally seven, or more often nine revolutions of the moon, which are called months (menses) because they cover measured (mensa) spaces” (On the Nature of the Gods 2.68–69).
(33) Varro also, in the Logistoricus he entitled Messalla, on Health, says:
“Ancient rural folk, who were experienced in hunting and spent much time in forests, called the goddess Deviana, because, they sought wild places and inaccessible (devias) forests to trace them with Diana as a guide, as it were; but soon, they called her Diana, so that they would understand that she is the same who gives daylight (diem) to those who are born.”6
1 Literally, ‘hangings’ and ‘elements of suspended air’.
2 I.e. (H)ēra becomes ēraēra, which contains aēr.
3 Juno fights Diana in the so-called theomachy, the battle between the gods at the beginning of Iliad 20. Some brief explanation of this must have fallen out of the text.
4 A byname of Juno called upon in childbirth.
5 Restoring Cicero’s quod in septem numeratur tamquam vagantibus for Pseudo-Probus’ less coherent quod semper vagatur tamquam venantibus. ‘Planet’ is Greek for ‘roaming, wandering, erring’, so vagantes is a good Latin translation.
6 Cf. the first two sentences of Cicero’s explanation.
<VIII. three-principle authorities>
(1) Lucretius clearly professes that the origin of the world is threefold1 when he says:
“First of all, observe the seas, the earth and heaven,
Whose threefold nature, three bodies, Memmius,
Three kinds so dissimilar, three so interwoven…” (On the Nature of Things 5.92–94)
“… contains everything through the sound, earth, sea and heaven.”2
(2) And Afranius in the Augur:
“Just after madness seized this augur of ours
You would have said that sea, heaven and earth shake and tremble.”
(3) Pherecydes also agrees, but he adduces different elements. He says
“Zeus and Chthon and Kronos,”3
Meaning fire, earth and time, and that it is ether4 which rules, earth which is ruled, and time in which every part is governed.
1 This is incorrect. Lucretius was a canonical author, but his Epicureanism was not well understood by the grammatici. Still, Servius has a fairly accurate account of Epicurean atomism.
2 Not in the extant text of Lucretius. https://books.google.de/books?id=xb48AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA221&lpg=PA221&dq=%22terram,+mare,+caelum%22+lucretius&source=bl&ots=gBSyoyk5NT&sig=ACfU3U378SEBKQ8BrZZUnP1tK3aHMZLyQw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7w_nmtN3uAhW5A2MBHeSFCq0Q6AEwDnoECBEQAg#v=onepage&q=%22terram%2C%20mare%2C%20caelum%22%20lucretius&f=false
3 The names have been normalized at some point in transmission (before or after the composition of this text). The proper forms are Zas, Chthonie and Chronos.
4 I.e. fire.
<IX. two-principle authorities>
(1) There are some who separate the world into two principles. (2) For Xenophanes of Colophon proposed earth and water; (3) although this opinion was previously discussed by Homer:
“But may you all become water and earth” (Iliad 7.99).
(4) Euripides agrees on the number but differs on the kind, for he introduces earth and air to be the principles of things in the Antiope:
“I sing of Ether and Earth, the mother of all …” (Antiope fr. 182a Henderson)1
(5) And Varro, in the Logistoricus which is entitled Curio, about the Worship of the Gods:
“The Names of the Great Gods.
There are three altars in the middle of the circle, next two columns on which stand signs: on one is inscribed ‘To the Great Gods’ (Diis magnis), on the second ‘To the Powerful Gods’ (Diis potentibus), on the third ‘To the Gods Earth and Heaven’ (Diis Terrae et Caelo). The world is divided into these two. They are the two initial ones from which all things (omnia) and all living beings (omnes) arose, and they are called the Great Gods (Dii magni) in Samothrace.”
1 This fragment is omitted in the manuscripts, but can be restored from other sources, although the full play is now lost.
<X. one-principle authorities>
(1) There are some who assign the (status of) principles to individual elements: (2) Parmenides of Elea, earth; (3) Hippasus of Metapontus and Heraclitus of Ephesus, who is called the obscure (gr. skoteinos), fire; (4) Anaximenes of Lampsacus, who is considered to have first introduced natural philosophy (lat. physica), air; (5) Thales of Miletus, his teacher, water. (6) But they believe that this opinion of Thales’ derives from Hesiod, who said:
“Now, first of all, Chaos came into being, and then…” (Theogony 116)
(7) For Zeno of Citium gives the following interpretation, that water is named Chaos from ‘being poured’ (gr. kheesthai). (8) But we can understand the same opinion from Homer, since he says:
“Oceanus, the origin of the gods, and mother Tethys” (Iliad 14.302).
(9) Vergil has also imitated this:
“Oceanus, the father of things, and the sister Nymphs” (Georgics 4.382).