Page:The Natural History of Pliny.djvu/71
Chap. 9.] 37
ACCOUNT OF THE WORLD.
when he was only a military tribune he relieved the army from great anxiety the day before king Perseus was conquered by Paulus; for he was brought by the general into a public assembly, in order to predict the eclipse, of which he afterwards gave an account in a separate treatise. Among the Greeks, Thales the Milesian first investigated the subject, in the fourth year of the forty-eighth olympiad, predicting the eclipse of the sun which took place in the reign of Alyattes, in the 170th year of the City. After them Hipparchus calculated the course of both these stars for the term of 600 years, including the months, days, and hours, the situation of the different places and the aspects adapted to each of them; all this has been confirmed by experience, and could only be acquired by partaking, as it were, in the councils of nature. These were indeed great men, superior to ordinary mortals, who having discovered the laws of these divine bodies, relieved the miserable mind of man from the fear which he had of eclipses, as foretelling some dreadful
- This eclipse is calculated to have occurred on the 28th of June, 168 B.C.; Brewster's Encyc. "Chronology," p. 415, 424. We have an account of this transaction in Livy, xliv. 37, and in Plutarch, Life of Paulus Æmilius, Langhorne's trans, ii. 279; he however does not mention the name of Gallus. See also Val. Maximus, viii. 11. 1, and Quintilan, i. 10. Val. Maximus does not say that Gallus predicted the eclipse, but explained the cause of it when it had occurred; and the same statement is made by Cicero, De Repub. i. 15. For an account of Sulpicius, see Hardouin's Index auctorum, Lemaire, i. 214.
- An account of this event is given by Herodotus, Clio, § 74. There has been the same kind of discussion among the commentators, respecting the dates in the text, as was noticed above, note 4, p. 29: see the remarks of Brotier and of Marcus in Lemaire and Ajasson, in loco. Astronomers have calculated that the eclipse took place May 28th, 585 B.C.; Brewster, ut supra, pp. 414, 419.
- Hipparchus is generally regarded as the first astronomer who prosecuted the science in a regular and systematic manner. See "Whewell, C. 3. p. 169 et seq., 177-179. He is supposed to have made his observations between the years 160 and 125 B.C. He made a catalogue of the fixed stars, which is preserved in Ptolemy's Magn. Const. The only work of his now extant is his commentary on Aratus; it is contained in Petau's Uranologie. We find, among the ancients, many traces of their acquaintance with the period of 600 years, or what is termed the great year, when the solar and lunar phænomena recur precisely at the same points. Cassini, Mem. Acad., and Bailly, Hist. Anc. Astron., have shown that there is an actual fovmdation for this opinion. See the remarks of Marcus in Ajasson, ii. 302, 303.