2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

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Peter Kirby
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2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by Peter Kirby » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:58 pm

http://earlychristianwritings.com/text/ ... dress.html

"How can I believe one who tells me that the sun is a red-hot mass and the moon an earth?"

Interesting...

"Such assertions are mere logomachies, and not a sober exposition of truth."

(I had to look it up. This is an English word, not just a Greek one. It's an opinion stemming from word games.)

It's a broadside against a mass of sundry Greek traditions and philosophies, and the Thersites mentioned comes from Homer, so it's not clear who Tatian thinks said it, but it apparently forms part of the opinions of some second century opponents.

I'm not educated enough to say whether we have direct statements to this ancient opinion. Nor whether we know that this opinion included the idea that the moon reflected the light of the sun.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by DCHindley » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:01 am

He is alluding to Anaxagoras, a pre-Socrataic philosopher, as described by Diogenes Laërtius in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers:
Anaxagoras

6. Anaxagoras,[8] the son of Hegesibulus or Eubulus, was a native of Clazomenae. He was a pupil of Anaximenes, and was the first who set mind above matter, for at the beginning of his treatise, which is composed in attractive and dignified language, he says, "All things were together; then came Mind and set them in order." This earned for Anaxagoras himself the nickname of Nous or Mind, and Timon in his Silli says of him:[9]

Then, I ween, there is Anaxagoras, a doughty champion, whom they call Mind, because forsooth his was the mind which suddenly woke up and fitted closely together all that had formerly been in a medley of confusion.

He was eminent for wealth and noble birth, and furthermore for magnanimity, in that he gave up his patrimony to his relations. 7. For, when they accused him of neglecting it, he replied, "Why then do you not look after it?" And at last he went into retirement and engaged in physical investigation without troubling himself about public affairs. When some one inquired, "Have you no concern in your native land?" "Gently," he replied, "I am greatly concerned with my fatherland," and pointed to the sky.

He is said to have been twenty years old at the invasion of Xerxes and to have lived seventy-two years. Apollodorus in his Chronology says that he was born in the 70th Olympiad,[10] and died in the first year of the 88th Olympiad.[11] He began to study philosophy at Athens in the archonship of Callias[12] when he was twenty; Demetrius of Phalerum states this in his list of archons; and at Athens they say he remained for thirty years.

8. He declared the sun to be a mass of red-hot metal and to be larger than the Peloponnesus, though others ascribe this view to Tantalus; he declared that there were dwellings on the moon, and moreover hills and ravines. He took as his principles the homoeomeries or homogeneous molecules; for just as gold consists of fine particles which are called gold-dust, so he held the whole universe to be compounded of minute bodies having parts homogeneous to themselves. His moving principle was Mind; of bodies, he said, some, like earth, were heavy, occupying the region below, others, light like fire, held the region above, while water and air were intermediate in position. For in this way over the earth, which is flat, the sea sinks down after the moisture has been evaporated by the sun. 9. In the beginning the stars moved in the sky as in a revolving dome, so that the celestial pole which is always visible was vertically overhead; but subsequently the pole took its inclined position. He held the Milky Way to be a reflection of the light of stars which are not shone upon by the sun; comets to be a conjunction of planets which emit flames; shooting-stars to be a sort of sparks thrown off by the air. He held that winds arise when the air is rarefied by the sun's heat; that thunder is a clashing together of the clouds, lightning their violent friction; an earthquake a subsidence of air into the earth.

Animals were produced from moisture, heat, and an earthy substance; later the species were propagated by generation from one another, males from the right side, females from the left.

10. There is a story that he predicted the fall of the meteoric stone at Aegospotami, which he said would fall from the sun.[13] Hence Euripides, who was his pupil, in the Phathon calls the sun itself a "golden clod."[14] Furthermore, when he went to Olympia, he sat down wrapped in a sheep-skin cloak as if it were going to rain; and the rain came. When some one asked him if the hills at Lampsacus would ever become sea, he replied, "Yes, it only needs time." Being asked to what end he had been born, he replied, "To study sun and moon and heavens." To one who inquired, "You miss the society of the Athenians?" his reply was, "Not I, but they miss mine." When he saw the tomb of Mausolus, he said, "A costly tomb is an image of an estate turned into stone."[15] 11. To one who complained that he was dying in a foreign land, his answer was, "The descent to Hades is much the same from whatever place we start."

Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History says Anaxagoras was the first to maintain that Homer in his poems treats of virtue and justice, and that this thesis was defended at greater length by his friend Metrodorus of Lampsacus, who was the first to busy himself with Homer's physical doctrine. Anaxagoras was also the first to publish a book with diagrams.[16] Silenus[17] in the first book of his History gives the archonship of Demylus[18] as the date when the meteoric stone fell, 12. and says that Anaxagoras declared the whole firmament to be made of stones; that the rapidity of rotation caused it to cohere; and that if this were relaxed it would fall.[19]

Of the trial of Anaxagoras different accounts are given. Sotion in his Succession of the Philosophers says that he was indicted by Cleon on a charge of impiety, because he declared the sun to be a mass of red-hot metal; that his pupil Pericles defended him, and he was fined five talents and banished. Satyrus in his Lives says that the prosecutor was Thucydides, the opponent of Pericles, and the charge one of treasonable correspondence with Persia as well as of impiety; and that sentence of death was passed on Anaxagoras by default. 13. When news was brought him that he was condemned and his sons were dead, his comment on the sentence was, "Long ago nature condemned both my judges and myself to death"; and on his sons, "I knew that my children were born to die." Some, however, tell this story of Solon, and others of Xenophon. That he buried his sons with his own hands is asserted by Demetrius of Phalerum in his work On Old Age. Hermippus in his Lives says that he was confined in the prison pending his execution; that Pericles came forward and asked the people whether they had any fault to find with him in his own public career; to which they replied that they had not. "Well," he continued, "I am a pupil of Anaxagoras; do not then be carried away by slanders and put him to death. Let me prevail upon you to release him." So he was released; but he could not brook the indignity he had suffered and committed suicide. 14. Hieronymus in the second book of his Scattered Notes states that Pericles brought him into court so weak and wasted from illness that he owed his acquittal not so much to the merits of his case as to the sympathy of the judges. So much then on the subject of his trial.

He was supposed to have borne Democritus a grudge because he had failed to get into communication with him.[20] At length he retired to Lampsacus and there died. And when the magistrates of the city asked if there was anything he would like done for him, he replied that he would like them to grant an annual holiday to the boys in the month in which he died; and the custom is kept up to this day. 15. So, when he died, the people of Lampsacus gave him honourable burial and placed over his grave the following inscription:[21]

Here Anaxagoras, who in his quest
Of truth scaled heaven itself, is laid to rest.

I also have written an epigram upon him:[22]

The sun's a molten mass,
Quoth Anaxagoras;
This is his crime, his life must pay the price.
Pericles from that fate
Rescued his friend too late;
His spirit crushed, by his own hand he dies.

There have been three other men who bore the name of Anaxagoras [of whom no other writer gives a complete list]. The first was a rhetorician of the school of Isocrates; the second a sculptor, mentioned by Antigonus; the third a grammarian, pupil of Zenodotus.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lives_of_ ... Anaxagoras

DCH
Peter Kirby wrote:http://earlychristianwritings.com/text/ ... dress.html

"How can I believe one who tells me that the sun is a red-hot mass and the moon an earth?"

Interesting...

"Such assertions are mere logomachies, and not a sober exposition of truth."

(I had to look it up. This is an English word, not just a Greek one. It's an opinion stemming from word games.)

It's a broadside against a mass of sundry Greek traditions and philosophies, and the Thersites mentioned comes from Homer, so it's not clear who Tatian thinks said it, but it apparently forms part of the opinions of some second century opponents.

I'm not educated enough to say whether we have direct statements to this ancient opinion. Nor whether we know that this opinion included the idea that the moon reflected the light of the sun.

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by GakuseiDon » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:17 pm

Peter, I was collecting statements about ancient cosmology in my "In their own words" page on my website: http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseid ... words.html

I haven't checked the links on that page for several years now, so not sure how many are still active. But some samples:

Cicero's "Dream of Scipio"
  • In the lowest Sphere the Moon revolves illumined by the rays of the Sun.
Plutarch on the Moon (from various sources):
  • For whilst the Egyptians and Troglodytes, over whose heads the sun stands vertically for a single day at the solstice, and then departing, hardly escape being burnt up through the dryness of the atmosphere, pray is it likely people in the moon can stand twelve summer days in each year, when month by month the sun stands plumb-line over them, and remains stationary, when it is full-moon?
Also:
  • ... a safeguard to the moon against falling down is her motion, and the rapidity of her gyration, just as objects placed in slings have a hindrance from falling out in the circular whirling. For the natural tendency acts upon each object, unless it be diverted by some extraneous force. Consequently, her own weight does not act upon the moon, because by means of her rapid rotation its downward tendency is neutralized; there were rather cause to wonder at her not remaining stationary, like the earth, and not rolling out of her place...
Also:
  • 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 We37 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 you38 do who station the earth here suspended in the air? Yet the earth is a great deal larger than the moon39 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 p57shadow 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 eclipses43 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.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:23 pm

Very useful references! Great, both of you! :)
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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:52 pm

No problem.

One thing to wonder about: If the Moon had been rotating on an axis rather than showing the same face to Earth, would this have allowed for a heliocentric view of the universe to be adopted much earlier? And if it had, how would ancient people have reconciled this with their traditional views of gods living above the firmament? The gods would no longer be looking down on them from an obviously heavenly unchanging place. I think it would have had a major impact on the philosophies of the times.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by pakeha » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:53 am

Yes, the thread is old, but even so, thanks for some interesting links and quotations and sources.
I only know Anaxagoras from Gore Vidal's novel, Creation and it was good to read more about him.

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by Blood » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:14 am

Am I reading this right?
And, when men attached themselves to one [Christ] who was more subtle than the rest, having regard to his being the first-born [Adam], and declared him [Christ] to be God, though he was resisting the law of God, then the power of the Logos excluded the beginner [Adam] of the folly and his adherents [Jews] from all fellowship with Himself [Christ]. And so he [Adam] who was made in the likeness of God, since the more powerful spirit [Christ] is separated from him, becomes mortal; but that first-begotten one [Adam] through his transgression and ignorance becomes a demon; and they who imitated him [Jews], that is his illusions, are become a host of demons, and through their freedom of choice have been given up to their own infatuation.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

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Re: 2nd c. AD opinion on the sun and the moon

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:30 pm

Blood wrote:
Am I reading this right?
And, when men attached themselves to one [Christ] who was more subtle than the rest, having regard to his being the first-born [Adam], and declared him [Christ] to be God, though he was resisting the law of God, then the power of the Logos excluded the beginner [Adam] of the folly and his adherents [Jews] from all fellowship with Himself [Christ]. And so he [Adam] who was made in the likeness of God, since the more powerful spirit [Christ] is separated from him, becomes mortal; but that first-begotten one [Adam] through his transgression and ignorance becomes a demon; and they who imitated him [Jews], that is his illusions, are become a host of demons, and through their freedom of choice have been given up to their own infatuation.
I see it more like this:
And, when men attached themselves to one who was more subtle than the rest [Satan], having regard to his being the first-born [i.e. an angel], and declared him [Satan] to be God, though he was resisting the law of God, then the power of the Logos excluded the beginner [Adam] of the folly and his adherents [Jews] from all fellowship with Himself [Logos]. And so he [Adam] who was made in the likeness of God, since the more powerful spirit [Logos] is separated from him, becomes mortal; but that first-begotten one [Satan] through his transgression and ignorance becomes a demon; and they [other angels? heretics?] who imitated him, that is his illusions, are become a host of demons, and through their freedom of choice have been given up to their own infatuation.
The only weird thing is the description of "first-born" and "first-begotten" being applied to Satan, rather than Adam or Christ/Logos. But just before the passage above, Tatian writes: "The Logos, too, before the creation of men, was the Framer of angels." So the angels were created first.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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