Can someone help explain this passage in Pliny the Elder's "Natural History"?

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nightshadetwine
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Can someone help explain this passage in Pliny the Elder's "Natural History"?

Post by nightshadetwine » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:02 pm

Natural History 18.221 in Latin http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/R ... *.html#220
horae nunc in omni accessione aequinoctiales, non cuiuscumque die significantur —, omnesque eae differentiae fiunt in octavis partibus signorum, bruma capricorni a. d. VIII kal. Ian. fere, aequinoctium vernum arietis, solstitium cancri, alterumque aequinoctium librae, qui et ipsi dies raro non aliquos tempestatum significatus habent.
Translated into English:
In addition aequinoctiales every hour now, it does not mean every day - all these differences are made in the eighth part of the signs, Capricorn the winter. d. 8 Id. Jan. almost all, of the ram, the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the arches are right, the latter one length of the scale, some of the violence of the significance of the terms, and they also have a day of it is rarely not.
I have no idea what's being said here. According to this website https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/200 ... -solstice/ Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th. On that website it's translated as:
the bruma begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth day before the calends of January, …
On this website http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D59 it's translated as:
The winter solstice begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth (2) day before the calends of January, in general...

(2) Twenty-fifth of December.
I'm trying to find out if that's an accurate translation and if Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Can someone help explain this passage in Pliny the Elder's "Natural History"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:30 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:02 pm
Natural History 18.221 in Latin http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/R ... *.html#220
horae nunc in omni accessione aequinoctiales, non cuiuscumque die significantur —, omnesque eae differentiae fiunt in octavis partibus signorum, bruma capricorni a. d. VIII kal. Ian. fere, aequinoctium vernum arietis, solstitium cancri, alterumque aequinoctium librae, qui et ipsi dies raro non aliquos tempestatum significatus habent.
Translated into English:
In addition aequinoctiales every hour now, it does not mean every day - all these differences are made in the eighth part of the signs, Capricorn the winter. d. 8 Id. Jan. almost all, of the ram, the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the arches are right, the latter one length of the scale, some of the violence of the significance of the terms, and they also have a day of it is rarely not.
I have no idea what's being said here. According to this website https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/tag/brumalia/ Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th. On that website it's translated as:
the bruma begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth day before the calends of January, …
On this website http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D59 it's translated as:
The winter solstice begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth (2) day before the calends of January, in general...

(2) Twenty-fifth of December.
I'm trying to find out if that's an accurate translation and if Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th.
I can confirm that (ante diem) VIII Kalendae Ianuarii = December 25. Here is Bostock's translation of this passage:

Pliny, Natural History 18.59.221: In all these calculations, it must be remembered, equinoctial hours are spoken of, and not those measured arbitrarily in reference to the length of any one day in particular. All these seasons, too, commence at the eighth degree of the signs of the Zodiac. The winter solstice begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth day before the calends of January, in general; the vernal equinox at the eighth degree of Aries; the summer solstice, at the eighth degree of Cancer; and the autumnal equinox at the eighth degree of Libra: and it is rarely that these days do not respectively give some indication of a change in the weather. / Horae nunc in omni accessione aequinoctiales, non cuiuscumque die significantur — omnesque eae differentiae fiunt in octavis partibus signorum, bruma capricorni a. d. VIII kal. Ian. fere, aequinoctium vernum arietis, solstitium cancri, alterumque aequinoctium librae, qui et ipsi dies raro non aliquos tempestatum significatus habent.

It does appear to me that December 25 is being identified as the time of the winter solstice. (However, I would also caution that numbers rank among the easiest elements of ancient manuscripts to be corrupted in transmission.)
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DCHindley
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Re: Can someone help explain this passage in Pliny the Elder's "Natural History"?

Post by DCHindley » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:37 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:02 pm
Natural History 18.221 in Latin http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/R ... *.html#220
horae nunc in omni accessione aequinoctiales, non cuiuscumque die significantur —, omnesque eae differentiae fiunt in octavis partibus signorum, bruma capricorni a. d. VIII kal. Ian. fere, aequinoctium vernum arietis, solstitium cancri, alterumque aequinoctium librae, qui et ipsi dies raro non aliquos tempestatum significatus habent.
Translated into English:
In addition aequinoctiales every hour now, it does not mean every day - all these differences are made in the eighth part of the signs, Capricorn the winter. d. 8 Id. Jan. almost all, of the ram, the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the arches are right, the latter one length of the scale, some of the violence of the significance of the terms, and they also have a day of it is rarely not.
I have no idea what's being said here. According to this website https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/tag/brumalia/ Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th. On that website it's translated as:
the bruma begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth day before the calends of January, …
On this website http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D59 it's translated as:
The winter solstice begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth (2) day before the calends of January, in general...

(2) Twenty-fifth of December.
I'm trying to find out if that's an accurate translation and if Pliny is saying that the winter solstice is on Dec 25th.
The Roman calendar was a cumbersome beast. The "calends" of a month was its first day, and there were other stopping points besides this one (e.g., "nones"), and a date was often given counting inclusively something like 14-15 days before or after those days, rather than just say "on the x day of the month." The eighth day before the calends of January would be Dec 25 by modern reckoning.

The winter solstice was not always exactly on Dec 25, but it was generally spoken of as falling on that date, maybe because the solstices were associated with certain religious festivals that happened to fall on December 25th. In any event, the calculations of the exact moments of solstices and equinoxes by astronomical observations were quite laborious, so approximating it as Dec 25 was just a convenience.

DCH


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