Physical Science in the Time of Nero: Being a Translation of the Quaestiones Naturales of Seneca

By John Clarke; Seneca | Go to book overview

XVII

Go now and laugh at the philosophers for discussing1 the nature of the mirror and inquiring why our face is reflected in it, and is turned toward us too. What did nature mean by giving us real bodies and then ordaining that phantoms of them also should be visible? What was her purpose in providing material of the sort capable of receiving and return- ing images? Not, I trow, that we men might2 use a looking-glass to pluck out the straggling hairs of our beard and polish up our face. Nature has never at any point merely provided resources for luxury. First of all, her motive was to show us the sun with his glare dulled, since our eyes are too weak to gaze at him direct, and without something to reflect him we should be wholly ignorant of his shape. No doubt one may3 study him as he rises and as he sets. But we should know nothing of his true figure as he shines in fierce noonday brightness, without his softening ruddy glow, unless an image of him could be mirrored in some liquid where he shines less directly and is more easy to observe. In the second place, we should be unable to see or investigate the conjunction of two heavenly bodies, by which the daylight is wont to be interrupted, unless we could examine the reflections of sun and moon in basins on the ground with comparative freedom. In the third place, mirrors were discovered in order4 that man might come to know himself.

Many benefits have ensued; first, the knowledge of self, after that, devices to secure specific results. The comely man was taught to shun conduct that

-44-

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Physical Science in the Time of Nero: Being a Translation of the Quaestiones Naturales of Seneca
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • Book I [meteors, Halo, Rainbow, Mock Sun, Etc.] 1
  • Preface 3
  • I 8
  • II 12
  • III 16
  • IV 22
  • V 23
  • VI 28
  • VII 30
  • VIII 31
  • IX 33
  • X 34
  • XII 35
  • XIII 36
  • XIV 37
  • XV 39
  • XVI 41
  • XVII 44
  • XVI 44
  • Book II [the Nature of Air. Thunder and Lightning] 49
  • I 51
  • II 52
  • III 54
  • IV 54
  • V 55
  • VI 55
  • VII 57
  • VIII 58
  • IX 59
  • X 60
  • XI 61
  • XII 62
  • XIII 64
  • XIV 65
  • XV 66
  • XVI 66
  • XVII 67
  • XVIII 67
  • XIX 68
  • XX 68
  • XXI 69
  • XXII 70
  • XXIII 71
  • XXIV 71
  • XXV 72
  • XXVI 72
  • XXVII 75
  • XXVIII 76
  • XXIX 77
  • XXX 77
  • XXXI 78
  • XXXII 79
  • XXXIII 81
  • XXXIV 82
  • XXXV 83
  • XXXVI 84
  • XXXVII 84
  • XXXVIII 85
  • XXXIX 86
  • XL 87
  • XLI 88
  • XLII 89
  • XLIII 90
  • XLIV 91
  • XLV 91
  • XLVI 92
  • XLVII 92
  • XLVIII 93
  • XLIX 94
  • L 95
  • LI 95
  • LII 96
  • LIII 97
  • LIV 98
  • LV 98
  • LVI 100
  • LVII 100
  • LVIII 101
  • LIX 102
  • Book III Which Treats of the Different Forms of Water 107
  • Preface 109
  • I 114
  • II 115
  • III 115
  • IV 116
  • V 116
  • VI 117
  • VII 117
  • VIII 118
  • IX 119
  • X 120
  • XI 121
  • XII 123
  • XIII 124
  • XIV 125
  • XV 125
  • XVI 128
  • XVII 129
  • XVIII 130
  • XIX 132
  • XX 133
  • XXI 134
  • XXII 135
  • XXIII 135
  • XXIV 136
  • XXV 137
  • XXVI 141
  • XXVII 143
  • XXVIII 148
  • XXIX 150
  • XXX 154
  • Book IV Containing a Discussion of Snow, Hail, and Rain [the Nile] 157
  • Preface 159
  • I 166
  • II 167
  • III 177
  • IV 179
  • V 180
  • VI 181
  • VII 182
  • VIII 182
  • IX 183
  • X 184
  • XI 184
  • XII 186
  • XIII 186
  • Book V Which Treats of Winds and Atmospheric Movement in General 191
  • I 193
  • II 194
  • III 195
  • IV 196
  • V 197
  • VI 197
  • VII 198
  • VIII 198
  • IX 200
  • X 201
  • XI 202
  • XII 203
  • XIII 204
  • XIV 205
  • XV 207
  • XVI 208
  • XVII 210
  • XVIII 212
  • Book VI Which Treats of Earthquakes 219
  • I 221
  • II 225
  • III 228
  • IV 229
  • V 230
  • VI 231
  • VII 233
  • VIII 235
  • IX 236
  • X 237
  • XI 238
  • XII 239
  • XIII 240
  • XIV 242
  • XV 243
  • XVI 244
  • XVII 245
  • XVIII 247
  • XIX 248
  • XX 249
  • XXI 251
  • XXII 252
  • XXIII 253
  • XXIV 255
  • XV 256
  • XXVI 258
  • XXVII 259
  • XXVIII 261
  • XXIX 262
  • XXX 263
  • XXXI 264
  • XXXII 265
  • Book VII Which Treats of Comets 269
  • I 271
  • II 273
  • III 274
  • IV 275
  • V 276
  • VI 277
  • VII 278
  • VIII 279
  • IX 280
  • X 281
  • XI 283
  • XII 284
  • XIV 287
  • XV 288
  • XVI 289
  • XVII 290
  • XVIII 291
  • XIX 291
  • XX 292
  • XXI 293
  • XXII 295
  • XXIII 295
  • XXIV 297
  • XXV 298
  • XXVI 299
  • XXVII 300
  • XXVIII 302
  • XXIX 303
  • XXX 304
  • XXXI 305
  • XXXII 307
  • Notes on Seneca's "Quaestiones Naturales" 309
  • Notes by Translator "Air" 344
  • Quotations 346
  • Some of Gercke's Readings 348
  • Index to the "Quaestiones Naturales" 351
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