And so in first place, then, With thunder are shaken the blue deeps of heaven, Because the ethereal clouds, scudding aloft, Together clash, what time 'gainst one another The winds are battling. For never a sound there comes From out the serene regions of the sky; But wheresoever in a host more dense The clouds foregather, thence more often comes A crash with mighty rumbling. And, again, Clouds cannot be of so condensed a frame As stones and timbers, nor again so fine As mists and flying smoke; for then perforce They'd either fall, borne down by their brute weight, Like stones, or, like the smoke, they'd powerless be To keep their mass, or to retain within Frore snows and storms of hail. And they give forth O'er skiey levels of the spreading world A sound on high, as linen-awning, stretched O'er mighty theatres, gives forth at times A cracking roar, when much 'tis beaten about Betwixt the poles and cross-beams. Sometimes, too, Asunder rent by wanton gusts, it raves And imitates the tearing sound of sheets Of paper—even this kind of noise thou mayst In thunder hear—or sound as when winds whirl With lashings and do buffet about in air A hanging cloth and flying paper-sheets. For sometimes, too, it chances that the clouds Cannot together crash head-on, but rather Move side-wise and with motions contrary Graze each the other's body without speed, From whence that dry sound grateth on our ears, So long drawn-out, until the clouds have passed From out their close positions. And, again, In following wise all things seem oft to quake At shock of heavy thunder, and mightiest walls Of the wide reaches of the upper world There on the instant to have sprung apart, Riven asunder, what time a gathered blast Of the fierce hurricane hath all at once Twisted its way into a mass of clouds, And, there enclosed, ever more and more Compelleth by its spinning whirl the cloud To grow all hollow with a thickened crust Surrounding; for thereafter, when the force And the keen onset of the wind have weakened That crust, lo, then the cloud, to-split in twain, Gives forth a hideous crash with bang and boom. No marvel this; since oft a bladder small, Filled up with air, will, when of sudden burst, Give forth a like large sound. There's reason, too, Why clouds make sounds, as through them blow the winds: We see, borne down the sky, oft shapes of clouds Rough-edged or branched many forky ways; And 'tis the same, as when the sudden flaws Of north-west wind through the dense forest blow, Making the leaves to sough and limbs to crash. It happens too at times that roused force Of the fierce hurricane to-rends the cloud, Breaking right through it by a front assault; For what a blast of wind may do up there Is manifest from facts when here on earth A blast more gentle yet uptwists tall trees And sucks them madly from their deepest roots. Besides, among the clouds are waves, and these Give, as they roughly break, a rumbling roar; As when along deep streams or the great sea Breaks the loud surf. It happens, too, whenever Out from one cloud into another falls The fiery energy of thunderbolt, That straightaway the cloud, if full of wet, Extinguishes the fire with mighty noise; As iron, white from the hot furnaces, Sizzles, when speedily we've plunged its glow Down the cold water. Further, if a cloud More dry receive the fire, 'twill suddenly Kindle to flame and burn with monstrous sound, As if a flame with whirl of winds should range Along the laurel-tressed mountains far, Upburning with its vast assault those trees; Nor is there aught that in the crackling flame Consumes with sound more terrible to man Than Delphic laurel of Apollo lord. Oft, too, the multitudinous crash of ice And down-pour of swift hail gives forth a sound Among the mighty clouds on high; for when The wind hath packed them close, each mountain mass Of rain-cloud, there congealed utterly And mixed with hail-stones, breaks and booms... Likewise, it lightens, when the clouds have struck, By their collision, forth the seeds of fire: As if a stone should smite a stone or steel, For light then too leaps forth and fire then scatters The shining sparks. But with our ears we get The thunder after eyes behold the flash, Because forever things arrive the ears More tardily than the eyes—as thou mayst see From this example too: when markest thou Some man far yonder felling a great tree With double-edged ax, it comes to pass Thine eye beholds the swinging stroke before The blow gives forth a sound athrough thine ears: Thus also we behold the flashing ere We hear the thunder, which discharged is At same time with the fire and by same cause, Born of the same collision. In following wise The clouds suffuse with leaping light the lands, And the storm flashes with tremulous elan: When the wind hath invaded a cloud, and, whirling there, Hath wrought (as I have shown above) the cloud Into a hollow with a thickened crust, It becomes hot of own velocity: Just as thou seest how motion will o'erheat And set ablaze all objects,—verily A leaden ball, hurtling through length of space, Even melts. Therefore, when this same wind a-fire Hath split black cloud, it scatters the fire-seeds, Which, so to say, have been pressed out by force Of sudden from the cloud;—and these do make The pulsing flashes of flame; thence followeth The detonation which attacks our ears More tardily than aught which comes along Unto the sight of eyeballs. This takes place— As know thou mayst—at times when clouds are dense And one upon the other piled aloft With wonderful upheavings—nor be thou Deceived because we see how broad their base From underneath, and not how high they tower. For make thine observations at a time When winds shall bear athwart the horizon's blue Clouds like to mountain-ranges moving on, Or when about the sides of mighty peaks Thou seest them one upon the other massed And burdening downward, anchored in high repose, With the winds sepulchred on all sides round: Then canst thou know their mighty masses, then Canst view their caverns, as if builded there Of beetling crags; which, when the hurricanes In gathered storm have filled utterly, Then, prisoned in clouds, they rave around With mighty roarings, and within those dens Bluster like savage beasts, and now from here, And now from there, send growlings through the clouds, And seeking an outlet, whirl themselves about, And roll from 'mid the clouds the seeds of fire, And heap them multitudinously there, And in the hollow furnaces within Wheel flame around, until from bursted cloud In forky flashes they have gleamed forth. Again, from following cause it comes to pass That yon swift golden hue of liquid fire Darts downward to the earth: because the clouds Themselves must hold abundant seeds of fire; For, when they be without all moisture, then They be for most part of a flamy hue And a resplendent. And, indeed, they must Even from the light of sun unto themselves Take multitudinous seeds, and so perforce Redden and pour their bright fires all abroad. And therefore, when the wind hath driven and thrust, Hath forced and squeezed into one spot these clouds, They pour abroad the seeds of fire pressed out, Which make to flash these colours of the flame. Likewise, it lightens also when the clouds Grow rare and thin along the sky; for, when The wind with gentle touch unravels them And breaketh asunder as they move, those seeds Which make the lightnings must by nature fall; At such an hour the horizon lightens round Without the hideous terror of dread noise And skiey uproar. To proceed apace, What sort of nature thunderbolts possess Is by their strokes made manifest and by The brand-marks of their searing heat on things, And by the scorched scars exhaling round The heavy fumes of sulphur. For all these Are marks, O not of wind or rain, but fire. Again, they often enkindle even the roofs Of houses and inside the very rooms With swift flame hold a fierce dominion. Know thou that nature fashioned this fire Subtler than fires all other, with minute And dartling bodies,—a fire 'gainst which there's naught Can in the least hold out: the thunderbolt, The mighty, passes through the hedging walls Of houses, like to voices or a shout,— Through stones, through bronze it passes, and it melts Upon the instant bronze and gold; and makes, Likewise, the wines sudden to vanish forth, The wine-jars intact,—because, ye see, Its heat arriving renders loose and porous Readily all the wine—jar's earthen sides, And winding its way within, it scattereth The elements primordial of the wine With speedy dissolution—process which Even in an age the fiery steam of sun Could not accomplish, however puissant he With his hot coruscations: so much more Agile and overpowering is this force. Now in what manner engendered are these things, How fashioned of such impetuous strength As to cleave towers asunder, and houses all To overtopple, and to wrench apart Timbers and beams, and heroes' monuments To pile in ruins and upheave amain, And to take breath forever out of men, And to o'erthrow the cattle everywhere,— Yes, by what force the lightnings do all this, All this and more, I will unfold to thee, Nor longer keep thee in mere promises. The bolts of thunder, then, must be conceived As all begotten in those crasser clouds Up-piled aloft; for, from the sky serene And from the clouds of lighter density, None are sent forth forever. That 'tis so Beyond a doubt, fact plain to sense declares: To wit, at such a time the densed clouds So mass themselves through all the upper air That we might think that round about all murk Had parted forth from Acheron and filled The mighty vaults of sky—so grievously, As gathers thus the storm-clouds' gruesome might, Do faces of black horror hang on high— When tempest begins its thunderbolts to forge. Besides, full often also out at sea A blackest thunderhead, like cataract Of pitch hurled down from heaven, and far away Bulging with murkiness, down on the waves Falls with vast uproar, and draws on amain The darkling tempests big with thunderbolts And hurricanes, itself the while so crammed Tremendously with fires and winds, that even Back on the lands the people shudder round And seek for cover. Therefore, as I said, The storm must be conceived as o'er our head Towering most high; for never would the clouds O'erwhelm the lands with such a massy dark, Unless up-builded heap on lofty heap, To shut the round sun off. Nor could the clouds, As on they come, engulf with rain so vast As thus to make the rivers overflow And fields to float, if ether were not thus Furnished with lofty-piled clouds. Lo, then, Here be all things fulfilled with winds and fires— Hence the long lightnings and the thunders loud. For, verily, I've taught thee even now How cavernous clouds hold seeds innumerable Of fiery exhalations, and they must From off the sunbeams and the heat of these Take many still. And so, when that same wind (Which, haply, into one region of the sky Collects those clouds) hath pressed from out the same The many fiery seeds, and with that fire Hath at the same time inter-mixed itself, O then and there that wind, a whirlwind now, Deep in the belly of the cloud spins round In narrow confines, and sharpens there inside In glowing furnaces the thunderbolt. For in a two-fold manner is that wind Enkindled all: it trembles into heat Both by its own velocity and by Repeated touch of fire. Thereafter, when The energy of wind is heated through And the fierce impulse of the fire hath sped Deeply within, O then the thunderbolt, Now ripened, so to say, doth suddenly Splinter the cloud, and the aroused flash Leaps onward, lumining with forky light All places round. And followeth anon A clap so heavy that the skiey vaults, As if asunder burst, seem from on high To engulf the earth. Then fearfully a quake Pervades the lands, and 'long the lofty skies Run the far rumblings. For at such a time Nigh the whole tempest quakes, shook through and through, And roused are the roarings,—from which shock Comes such resounding and abounding rain, That all the murky ether seems to turn Now into rain, and, as it tumbles down, To summon the fields back to primeval floods: So big the rains that be sent down on men By burst of cloud and by the hurricane, What time the thunder-clap, from burning bolt That cracks the cloud, flies forth along. At times The force of wind, excited from without, Smiteth into a cloud already hot With a ripe thunderbolt. And when that wind Hath splintered that cloud, then down there cleaves forthwith Yon fiery coil of flame which still we call, Even with our fathers' word, a thunderbolt. The same thing haps toward every other side Whither that force hath swept. It happens, too, That sometimes force of wind, though hurtled forth Without all fire, yet in its voyage through space Igniteth, whilst it comes along, along,— Losing some larger bodies which cannot Pass, like the others, through the bulks of air,— And, scraping together out of air itself Some smaller bodies, carries them along, And these, commingling, by their flight make fire: Much in the manner as oft a leaden ball Grows hot upon its aery course, the while It loseth many bodies of stark cold And taketh into itself along the air New particles of fire. It happens, too, That force of blow itself arouses fire, When force of wind, a-cold and hurtled forth Without all fire, hath strook somewhere amain— No marvel, because, when with terrific stroke 'Thas smitten, the elements of fiery-stuff Can stream together from out the very wind And, simultaneously, from out that thing Which then and there receives the stroke: as flies The fire when with the steel we hack the stone; Nor yet, because the force of steel's a-cold, Rush the less speedily together there Under the stroke its seeds of radiance hot. And therefore, thuswise must an object too Be kindled by a thunderbolt, if haply 'Thas been adapt and suited to the flames. Yet force of wind must not be rashly deemed As altogether and entirely cold— That force which is discharged from on high With such stupendous power; but if 'tis not Upon its course already kindled with fire, It yet arriveth warmed and mixed with heat. And, now, the speed and stroke of thunderbolt Is so tremendous, and with glide so swift Those thunderbolts rush on and down, because Their roused force itself collects itself First always in the clouds, and then prepares For the huge effort of their going-forth; Next, when the cloud no longer can retain The increment of their fierce impetus, Their force is pressed out, and therefore flies With impetus so wondrous, like to shots Hurled from the powerful Roman catapults. Note, too, this force consists of elements Both small and smooth, nor is there aught that can With ease resist such nature. For it darts Between and enters through the pores of things; And so it never falters in delay Despite innumerable collisions, but Flies shooting onward with a swift elan. Next, since by nature always every weight Bears downward, doubled is the swiftness then And that elan is still more wild and dread, When, verily, to weight are added blows, So that more madly and more fiercely then The thunderbolt shakes into shivers all That blocks its path, following on its way. Then, too, because it comes along, along With one continuing elan, it must Take on velocity anew, anew, Which still increases as it goes, and ever Augments the bolt's vast powers and to the blow Gives larger vigour; for it forces all, All of the thunder's seeds of fire, to sweep In a straight line unto one place, as 'twere,— Casting them one by other, as they roll, Into that onward course. Again, perchance, In coming along, it pulls from out the air Some certain bodies, which by their own blows Enkindle its velocity. And, lo, It comes through objects leaving them unharmed, It goes through many things and leaves them whole, Because the liquid fire flieth along Athrough their pores. And much it does transfix, When these primordial atoms of the bolt Have fallen upon the atoms of these things Precisely where the intertwined atoms Are held together. And, further, easily Brass it unbinds and quickly fuseth gold, Because its force is so minutely made Of tiny parts and elements so smooth That easily they wind their way within, And, when once in, quickly unbind all knots And loosen all the bonds of union there. And most in autumn is shaken the house of heaven, The house so studded with the glittering stars, And the whole earth around—most too in spring When flowery times unfold themselves: for, lo, In the cold season is there lack of fire, And winds are scanty in the hot, and clouds Have not so dense a bulk. But when, indeed, The seasons of heaven are betwixt these twain, The divers causes of the thunderbolt Then all concur; for then both cold and heat Are mixed in the cross-seas of the year, So that a discord rises among things And air in vast tumultuosity Billows, infuriate with the fires and winds— Of which the both are needed by the cloud For fabrication of the thunderbolt. For the first part of heat and last of cold Is the time of spring; wherefore must things unlike Do battle one with other, and, when mixed, Tumultuously rage. And when rolls round The latest heat mixed with the earliest chill— The time which bears the name of autumn—then Likewise fierce cold-spells wrestle with fierce heats. On this account these seasons of the year Are nominated "cross-seas."—And no marvel If in those times the thunderbolts prevail And storms are roused turbulent in heaven, Since then both sides in dubious warfare rage Tumultuously, the one with flames, the other With winds and with waters mixed with winds. This, this it is, O Memmius, to see through The very nature of fire-fraught thunderbolt; O this it is to mark by what blind force It maketh each effect, and not, O not To unwind Etrurian scrolls oracular, Inquiring tokens of occult will of gods, Even as to whence the flying flame hath come, Or to which half of heaven it turns, or how Through walled places it hath wound its way, Or, after proving its dominion there, How it hath speeded forth from thence amain, Or what the thunderstroke portends of ill From out high heaven. But if Jupiter And other gods shake those refulgent vaults With dread reverberations and hurl fire Whither it pleases each, why smite they not Mortals of reckless and revolting crimes, That such may pant from a transpierced breast Forth flames of the red levin—unto men A drastic lesson?—why is rather he— O he self-conscious of no foul offence— Involved in flames, though innocent, and clasped Up-caught in skiey whirlwind and in fire? Nay, why, then, aim they at eternal wastes, And spend themselves in vain?—perchance, even so To exercise their arms and strengthen shoulders? Why suffer they the Father's javelin To be so blunted on the earth? And why Doth he himself allow it, nor spare the same Even for his enemies? O why most oft Aims he at lofty places? Why behold we Marks of his lightnings most on mountain tops? Then for what reason shoots he at the sea?— What sacrilege have waves and bulk of brine And floating fields of foam been guilty of? Besides, if 'tis his will that we beware Against the lightning-stroke, why feareth he To grant us power for to behold the shot? And, contrariwise, if wills he to o'erwhelm us, Quite off our guard, with fire, why thunders he Off in yon quarter, so that we may shun? Why rouseth he beforehand darkling air And the far din and rumblings? And O how Canst thou believe he shoots at one same time Into diverse directions? Or darest thou Contend that never hath it come to pass That divers strokes have happened at one time? But oft and often hath it come to pass, And often still it must, that, even as showers And rains o'er many regions fall, so too Dart many thunderbolts at one same time. Again, why never hurtles Jupiter A bolt upon the lands nor pours abroad Clap upon clap, when skies are cloudless all? Or, say, doth he, so soon as ever the clouds Have come thereunder, then into the same Descend in person, that from thence he may Near-by decide upon the stroke of shaft? And, lastly, why, with devastating bolt Shakes he asunder holy shrines of gods And his own thrones of splendour, and to-breaks The well-wrought idols of divinities, And robs of glory his own images By wound of violence? But to return apace, Easy it is from these same facts to know In just what wise those things (which from their sort The Greeks have named "bellows") do come down, Discharged from on high, upon the seas. For it haps that sometimes from the sky descends Upon the seas a column, as if pushed, Round which the surges seethe, tremendously Aroused by puffing gusts; and whatso'er Of ships are caught within that tumult then Come into extreme peril, dashed along. This haps when sometimes wind's aroused force Can't burst the cloud it tries to, but down-weighs That cloud, until 'tis like a column from sky Upon the seas pushed downward—gradually, As if a Somewhat from on high were shoved By fist and nether thrust of arm, and lengthened Far to the waves. And when the force of wind Hath rived this cloud, from out the cloud it rushes Down on the seas, and starts among the waves A wondrous seething, for the eddying whirl Descends and downward draws along with it That cloud of ductile body. And soon as ever 'Thas shoved unto the levels of the main That laden cloud, the whirl suddenly then Plunges its whole self into the waters there And rouses all the sea with monstrous roar, Constraining it to seethe. It happens too That very vortex of the wind involves Itself in clouds, scraping from out the air The seeds of cloud, and counterfeits, as 'twere, The "bellows" pushed from heaven. And when this shape Hath dropped upon the lands and burst apart, It belches forth immeasurable might Of whirlwind and of blast. Yet since 'tis formed At most but rarely, and on land the hills Must block its way, 'tis seen more oft out there On the broad prospect of the level main Along the free horizons. Into being The clouds condense, when in this upper space Of the high heaven have gathered suddenly, As round they flew, unnumbered particles— World's rougher ones, which can, though interlinked With scanty couplings, yet be fastened firm, The one on other caught. These particles First cause small clouds to form; and, thereupon, These catch the one on other and swarm in a flock And grow by their conjoining, and by winds Are borne along, along, until collects The tempest fury. Happens, too, the nearer The mountain summits neighbour to the sky, The more unceasingly their far crags smoke With the thick darkness of swart cloud, because When first the mists do form, ere ever the eyes Can there behold them (tenuous as they be), The carrier-winds will drive them up and on Unto the topmost summits of the mountain; And then at last it happens, when they be In vaster throng upgathered, that they can By this very condensation lie revealed, And that at same time they are seen to surge From very vertex of the mountain up Into far ether. For very fact and feeling, As we up-climb high mountains, proveth clear That windy are those upward regions free. Besides, the clothes hung-out along the shore, When in they take the clinging moisture, prove That nature lifts from over all the sea Unnumbered particles. Whereby the more 'Tis manifest that many particles Even from the salt upheavings of the main Can rise together to augment the bulk Of massed clouds. For moistures in these twain Are near akin. Besides, from out all rivers, As well as from the land itself, we see Up-rising mists and steam, which like a breath Are forced out from them and borne aloft, To curtain heaven with their murk, and make, By slow foregathering, the skiey clouds. For, in addition, lo, the heat on high Of constellated ether burdens down Upon them, and by sort of condensation Weaveth beneath the azure firmament The reek of darkling cloud. It happens, too, That hither to the skies from the Beyond Do come those particles which make the clouds And flying thunderheads. For I have taught That this their number is innumerable And infinite the sum of the Abyss, And I have shown with what stupendous speed Those bodies fly and how they're wont to pass Amain through incommunicable space. Therefore, 'tis not exceeding strange, if oft In little time tempest and darkness cover With bulking thunderheads hanging on high The oceans and the lands, since everywhere Through all the narrow tubes of yonder ether, Yea, so to speak, through all the breathing-holes Of the great upper-world encompassing, There be for the primordial elements Exits and entrances. Now come, and how The rainy moisture thickens into being In the lofty clouds, and how upon the lands 'Tis then discharged in down-pour of large showers, I will unfold. And first triumphantly Will I persuade thee that up-rise together, With clouds themselves, full many seeds of water From out all things, and that they both increase— Both clouds and water which is in the clouds— In like proportion, as our frames increase In like proportion with our blood, as well As sweat or any moisture in our members. Besides, the clouds take in from time to time Much moisture risen from the broad marine,— Whilst the winds bear them o'er the mighty sea, Like hanging fleeces of white wool. Thuswise, Even from all rivers is there lifted up Moisture into the clouds. And when therein The seeds of water so many in many ways Have come together, augmented from all sides, The close-jammed clouds then struggle to discharge Their rain-storms for a two-fold reason: lo, The wind's force crowds them, and the very excess Of storm-clouds (massed in a vaster throng) Giveth an urge and pressure from above And makes the rains out-pour. Besides when, too, The clouds are winnowed by the winds, or scattered Smitten on top by heat of sun, they send Their rainy moisture, and distil their drops, Even as the wax, by fiery warmth on top, Wasteth and liquefies abundantly. But comes the violence of the bigger rains When violently the clouds are weighted down Both by their cumulated mass and by The onset of the wind. And rains are wont To endure awhile and to abide for long, When many seeds of waters are aroused, And clouds on clouds and racks on racks outstream In piled layers and are borne along From every quarter, and when all the earth Smoking exhales her moisture. At such a time When sun with beams amid the tempest-murk Hath shone against the showers of black rains, Then in the swart clouds there emerges bright The radiance of the bow. And as to things Not mentioned here which of themselves do grow Or of themselves are gendered, and all things Which in the clouds condense to being—all, Snow and the winds, hail and the hoar-frosts chill, And freezing, mighty force—of lakes and pools The mighty hardener, and mighty check Which in the winter curbeth everywhere The rivers as they go—'tis easy still, Soon to discover and with mind to see How they all happen, whereby gendered, When once thou well hast understood just what Functions have been vouchsafed from of old Unto the procreant atoms of the world. Now come, and what the law of earthquakes is Hearken, and first of all take care to know That the under-earth, like to the earth around us, Is full of windy caverns all about; And many a pool and many a grim abyss She bears within her bosom, ay, and cliffs And jagged scarps; and many a river, hid Beneath her chine, rolls rapidly along Its billows and plunging boulders. For clear fact Requires that earth must be in every part Alike in constitution. Therefore, earth, With these things underneath affixed and set, Trembleth above, jarred by big down-tumblings, When time hath undermined the huge caves, The subterranean. Yea, whole mountains fall, And instantly from spot of that big jar There quiver the tremors far and wide abroad. And with good reason: since houses on the street Begin to quake throughout, when jarred by a cart Of no large weight; and, too, the furniture Within the house up-bounds, when a paving-block Gives either iron rim of the wheels a jolt. It happens, too, when some prodigious bulk Of age-worn soil is rolled from mountain slopes Into tremendous pools of water dark, That the reeling land itself is rocked about By the water's undulations; as a basin Sometimes won't come to rest until the fluid Within it ceases to be rocked about In random undulations. And besides, When subterranean winds, up-gathered there In the hollow deeps, bulk forward from one spot, And press with the big urge of mighty powers Against the lofty grottos, then the earth Bulks to that quarter whither push amain The headlong winds. Then all the builded houses Above ground—and the more, the higher up-reared Unto the sky—lean ominously, careening Into the same direction; and the beams, Wrenched forward, over-hang, ready to go. Yet dread men to believe that there awaits The nature of the mighty world a time Of doom and cataclysm, albeit they see So great a bulk of lands to bulge and break! And lest the winds blew back again, no force Could rein things in nor hold from sure career On to disaster. But now because those winds Blow back and forth in alternation strong, And, so to say, rallying charge again, And then repulsed retreat, on this account Earth oftener threatens than she brings to pass Collapses dire. For to one side she leans, Then back she sways; and after tottering Forward, recovers then her seats of poise. Thus, this is why whole houses rock, the roofs More than the middle stories, middle more Than lowest, and the lowest least of all. Arises, too, this same great earth-quaking, When wind and some prodigious force of air, Collected from without or down within The old telluric deeps, have hurled themselves Amain into those caverns sub-terrene, And there at first tumultuously chafe Among the vasty grottos, borne about In mad rotations, till their lashed force Aroused out-bursts abroad, and then and there, Riving the deep earth, makes a mighty chasm— What once in Syrian Sidon did befall, And once in Peloponnesian Aegium, Twain cities which such out-break of wild air And earth's convulsion, following hard upon, O'erthrew of old. And many a walled town, Besides, hath fall'n by such omnipotent Convulsions on the land, and in the sea Engulfed hath sunken many a city down With all its populace. But if, indeed, They burst not forth, yet is the very rush Of the wild air and fury-force of wind Then dissipated, like an ague-fit, Through the innumerable pores of earth, To set her all a-shake—even as a chill, When it hath gone into our marrow-bones, Sets us convulsively, despite ourselves, A-shivering and a-shaking. Therefore, men With two-fold terror bustle in alarm Through cities to and fro: they fear the roofs Above the head; and underfoot they dread The caverns, lest the nature of the earth Suddenly rend them open, and she gape, Herself asunder, with tremendous maw, And, all confounded, seek to chock it full With her own ruins. Let men, then, go on Feigning at will that heaven and earth shall be Inviolable, entrusted evermore To an eternal weal: and yet at times The very force of danger here at hand Prods them on some side with this goad of fear— This among others—that the earth, withdrawn Abruptly from under their feet, be hurried down, Down into the abyss, and the Sum-of-Things Be following after, utterly fordone, Till be but wrack and wreckage of a world. EXTRAORDINARY AND PARADOXICAL TELLURIC PHENOMENA In chief, men marvel nature renders not Bigger and bigger the bulk of ocean, since So vast the down-rush of the waters be, And every river out of every realm Cometh thereto; and add the random rains And flying tempests, which spatter every sea And every land bedew; add their own springs: Yet all of these unto the ocean's sum Shall be but as the increase of a drop. Wherefore 'tis less a marvel that the sea, The mighty ocean, increaseth not. Besides, Sun with his heat draws off a mighty part: Yea, we behold that sun with burning beams To dry our garments dripping all with wet; And many a sea, and far out-spread beneath, Do we behold. Therefore, however slight The portion of wet that sun on any spot Culls from the level main, he still will take From off the waves in such a wide expanse Abundantly. Then, further, also winds, Sweeping the level waters, can bear off A mighty part of wet, since we behold Oft in a single night the highways dried By winds, and soft mud crusted o'er at dawn. Again, I've taught thee that the clouds bear off Much moisture too, up-taken from the reaches Of the mighty main, and sprinkle it about O'er all the zones, when rain is on the lands And winds convey the aery racks of vapour. Lastly, since earth is porous through her frame, And neighbours on the seas, girdling their shores, The water's wet must seep into the lands From briny ocean, as from lands it comes Into the seas. For brine is filtered off, And then the liquid stuff seeps back again And all re-poureth at the river-heads, Whence in fresh-water currents it returns Over the lands, adown the channels which Were cleft erstwhile and erstwhile bore along The liquid-footed floods. And now the cause Whereby athrough the throat of Aetna's Mount Such vast tornado-fires out-breathe at times, I will unfold: for with no middling might Of devastation the flamy tempest rose And held dominion in Sicilian fields: Drawing upon itself the upturned faces Of neighbouring clans, what time they saw afar The skiey vaults a-fume and sparkling all, And filled their bosoms with dread anxiety Of what new thing nature were travailing at. In these affairs it much behooveth thee To look both wide and deep, and far abroad To peer to every quarter, that thou mayst Remember how boundless is the Sum-of-Things, And mark how infinitely small a part Of the whole Sum is this one sky of ours— O not so large a part as is one man Of the whole earth. And plainly if thou viewest This cosmic fact, placing it square in front, And plainly understandest, thou wilt leave Wondering at many things. For who of us Wondereth if some one gets into his joints A fever, gathering head with fiery heat, Or any other dolorous disease Along his members? For anon the foot Grows blue and bulbous; often the sharp twinge Seizes the teeth, attacks the very eyes; Out-breaks the sacred fire, and, crawling on Over the body, burneth every part It seizeth on, and works its hideous way Along the frame. No marvel this, since, lo, Of things innumerable be seeds enough, And this our earth and sky do bring to us Enough of bane from whence can grow the strength Of maladies uncounted. Thuswise, then, We must suppose to all the sky and earth Are ever supplied from out the infinite All things, O all in stores enough whereby The shaken earth can of a sudden move, And fierce typhoons can over sea and lands Go tearing on, and Aetna's fires o'erflow, And heaven become a flame-burst. For that, too, Happens at times, and the celestial vaults Glow into fire, and rainy tempests rise In heavier congregation, when, percase, The seeds of water have foregathered thus From out the infinite. "Aye, but passing huge The fiery turmoil of that conflagration!" So sayst thou; well, huge many a river seems To him that erstwhile ne'er a larger saw; Thus, huge seems tree or man; and everything Which mortal sees the biggest of each class, That he imagines to be "huge"; though yet All these, with sky and land and sea to boot, Are all as nothing to the sum entire Of the all-Sum. But now I will unfold At last how yonder suddenly angered flame Out-blows abroad from vasty furnaces Aetnaean. First, the mountain's nature is All under-hollow, propped about, about With caverns of basaltic piers. And, lo, In all its grottos be there wind and air— For wind is made when air hath been uproused By violent agitation. When this air Is heated through and through, and, raging round, Hath made the earth and all the rocks it touches Horribly hot, and hath struck off from them Fierce fire of swiftest flame, it lifts itself And hurtles thus straight upwards through its throat Into high heav'n, and thus bears on afar Its burning blasts and scattereth afar Its ashes, and rolls a smoke of pitchy murk And heaveth the while boulders of wondrous weight— Leaving no doubt in thee that 'tis the air's Tumultuous power. Besides, in mighty part, The sea there at the roots of that same mount Breaks its old billows and sucks back its surf. And grottos from the sea pass in below Even to the bottom of the mountain's throat. Herethrough thou must admit there go... And the conditions force [the water and air] Deeply to penetrate from the open sea, And to out-blow abroad, and to up-bear Thereby the flame, and to up-cast from deeps The boulders, and to rear the clouds of sand. For at the top be "bowls," as people there Are wont to name what we at Rome do call The throats and mouths. There be, besides, some thing Of which 'tis not enough one only cause To state—but rather several, whereof one Will be the true: lo, if thou shouldst espy Lying afar some fellow's lifeless corse, 'Twere meet to name all causes of a death, That cause of his death might thereby be named: For prove thou mayst he perished not by steel, By cold, nor even by poison nor disease, Yet somewhat of this sort hath come to him We know—And thus we have to say the same In divers cases. Toward the summer, Nile Waxeth and overfloweth the champaign, Unique in all the landscape, river sole Of the Aegyptians. In mid-season heats Often and oft he waters Aegypt o'er, Either because in summer against his mouths Come those northwinds which at that time of year Men name the Etesian blasts, and, blowing thus Upstream, retard, and, forcing back his waves, Fill him o'erfull and force his flow to stop. For out of doubt these blasts which driven be From icy constellations of the pole Are borne straight up the river. Comes that river From forth the sultry places down the south, Rising far up in midmost realm of day, Among black generations of strong men With sun-baked skins. 'Tis possible, besides, That a big bulk of piled sand may bar His mouths against his onward waves, when sea, Wild in the winds, tumbles the sand to inland; Whereby the river's outlet were less free, Likewise less headlong his descending floods. It may be, too, that in this season rains Are more abundant at its fountain head, Because the Etesian blasts of those northwinds Then urge all clouds into those inland parts. And, soothly, when they're thus foregathered there, Urged yonder into midmost realm of day, Then, crowded against the lofty mountain sides, They're massed and powerfully pressed. Again, Perchance, his waters wax, O far away, Among the Aethiopians' lofty mountains, When the all-beholding sun with thawing beams Drives the white snows to flow into the vales. Now come; and unto thee I will unfold, As to the Birdless spots and Birdless tarns, What sort of nature they are furnished with. First, as to name of "birdless,"—that derives From very fact, because they noxious be Unto all birds. For when above those spots In horizontal flight the birds have come, Forgetting to oar with wings, they furl their sails, And, with down-drooping of their delicate necks, Fall headlong into earth, if haply such The nature of the spots, or into water, If haply spreads thereunder Birdless tarn. Such spot's at Cumae, where the mountains smoke, Charged with the pungent sulphur, and increased With steaming springs. And such a spot there is Within the walls of Athens, even there On summit of Acropolis, beside Fane of Tritonian Pallas bountiful, Where never cawing crows can wing their course, Not even when smoke the altars with good gifts,— But evermore they flee—yet not from wrath Of Pallas, grieved at that espial old, As poets of the Greeks have sung the tale; But very nature of the place compels. In Syria also—as men say—a spot Is to be seen, where also four-foot kinds, As soon as ever they've set their steps within, Collapse, o'ercome by its essential power, As if there slaughtered to the under-gods. Lo, all these wonders work by natural law, And from what causes they are brought to pass The origin is manifest; so, haply, Let none believe that in these regions stands The gate of Orcus, nor us then suppose, Haply, that thence the under-gods draw down Souls to dark shores of Acheron—as stags, The wing-footed, are thought to draw to light, By sniffing nostrils, from their dusky lairs The wriggling generations of wild snakes. How far removed from true reason is this, Perceive thou straight; for now I'll try to say Somewhat about the very fact. And, first, This do I say, as oft I've said before: In earth are atoms of things of every sort; And know, these all thus rise from out the earth— Many life-giving which be good for food, And many which can generate disease And hasten death, O many primal seeds Of many things in many modes—since earth Contains them mingled and gives forth discrete. And we have shown before that certain things Be unto certain creatures suited more For ends of life, by virtue of a nature, A texture, and primordial shapes, unlike For kinds alike. Then too 'tis thine to see How many things oppressive be and foul To man, and to sensation most malign: Many meander miserably through ears; Many in-wind athrough the nostrils too, Malign and harsh when mortal draws a breath; Of not a few must one avoid the touch; Of not a few must one escape the sight; And some there be all loathsome to the taste; And many, besides, relax the languid limbs Along the frame, and undermine the soul In its abodes within. To certain trees There hath been given so dolorous a shade That often they gender achings of the head, If one but be beneath, outstretched on the sward. There is, again, on Helicon's high hills A tree that's wont to kill a man outright By fetid odour of its very flower. And when the pungent stench of the night-lamp, Extinguished but a moment since, assails The nostrils, then and there it puts to sleep A man afflicted with the falling sickness And foamings at the mouth. A woman, too, At the heavy castor drowses back in chair, And from her delicate fingers slips away Her gaudy handiwork, if haply she Hath got the whiff at menstruation-time. Once more, if thou delayest in hot baths, When thou art over-full, how readily From stool in middle of the steaming water Thou tumblest in a fit! How readily The heavy fumes of charcoal wind their way Into the brain, unless beforehand we Of water 've drunk. But when a burning fever, O'ermastering man, hath seized upon his limbs, Then odour of wine is like a hammer-blow. And seest thou not how in the very earth Sulphur is gendered and bitumen thickens With noisome stench?—What direful stenches, too, Scaptensula out-breathes from down below, When men pursue the veins of silver and gold, With pick-axe probing round the hidden realms Deep in the earth?—Or what of deadly bane The mines of gold exhale? O what a look, And what a ghastly hue they give to men! And seest thou not, or hearest, how they're wont In little time to perish, and how fail The life-stores in those folk whom mighty power Of grim necessity confineth there In such a task? Thus, this telluric earth Out-streams with all these dread effluvia And breathes them out into the open world And into the visible regions under heaven. Thus, too, those Birdless places must up-send An essence bearing death to winged things, Which from the earth rises into the breezes To poison part of skiey space, and when Thither the winged is on pennons borne, There, seized by the unseen poison, 'tis ensnared, And from the horizontal of its flight Drops to the spot whence sprang the effluvium. And when 'thas there collapsed, then the same power Of that effluvium takes from all its limbs The relics of its life. That power first strikes The creatures with a wildering dizziness, And then thereafter, when they're once down-fallen Into the poison's very fountains, then Life, too, they vomit out perforce, because So thick the stores of bane around them fume. Again, at times it happens that this power, This exhalation of the Birdless places, Dispels the air betwixt the ground and birds, Leaving well-nigh a void. And thither when In horizontal flight the birds have come, Forthwith their buoyancy of pennons limps, All useless, and each effort of both wings Falls out in vain. Here, when without all power To buoy themselves and on their wings to lean, Lo, nature constrains them by their weight to slip Down to the earth, and lying prostrate there Along the well-nigh empty void, they spend Their souls through all the openings of their frame. Further, the water of wells is colder then At summer time, because the earth by heat Is rarefied, and sends abroad in air Whatever seeds it peradventure have Of its own fiery exhalations. The more, then, the telluric ground is drained Of heat, the colder grows the water hid Within the earth. Further, when all the earth Is by the cold compressed, and thus contracts And, so to say, concretes, it happens, lo, That by contracting it expresses then Into the wells what heat it bears itself. 'Tis said at Hammon's fane a fountain is, In daylight cold and hot in time of night. This fountain men be-wonder over-much, And think that suddenly it seethes in heat By intense sun, the subterranean, when Night with her terrible murk hath cloaked the lands— What's not true reasoning by a long remove: I' faith when sun o'erhead, touching with beams An open body of water, had no power To render it hot upon its upper side, Though his high light possess such burning glare, How, then, can he, when under the gross earth, Make water boil and glut with fiery heat?— And, specially, since scarcely potent he Through hedging walls of houses to inject His exhalations hot, with ardent rays. What, then's, the principle? Why, this, indeed: The earth about that spring is porous more Than elsewhere the telluric ground, and be Many the seeds of fire hard by the water; On this account, when night with dew-fraught shades Hath whelmed the earth, anon the earth deep down Grows chill, contracts; and thuswise squeezes out Into the spring what seeds she holds of fire (As one might squeeze with fist), which render hot The touch and steam of the fluid. Next, when sun, Up-risen, with his rays has split the soil And rarefied the earth with waxing heat, Again into their ancient abodes return The seeds of fire, and all the Hot of water Into the earth retires; and this is why The fountain in the daylight gets so cold. Besides, the water's wet is beat upon By rays of sun, and, with the dawn, becomes Rarer in texture under his pulsing blaze; And, therefore, whatso seeds it holds of fire It renders up, even as it renders oft The frost that it contains within itself And thaws its ice and looseneth the knots. There is, moreover, a fountain cold in kind That makes a bit of tow (above it held) Take fire forthwith and shoot a flame; so, too, A pitch-pine torch will kindle and flare round Along its waves, wherever 'tis impelled Afloat before the breeze. No marvel, this: Because full many seeds of heat there be Within the water; and, from earth itself Out of the deeps must particles of fire Athrough the entire fountain surge aloft, And speed in exhalations into air Forth and abroad (yet not in numbers enow As to make hot the fountain). And, moreo'er, Some force constrains them, scattered through the water, Forthwith to burst abroad, and to combine In flame above. Even as a fountain far There is at Aradus amid the sea, Which bubbles out sweet water and disparts From round itself the salt waves; and, behold, In many another region the broad main Yields to the thirsty mariners timely help, Belching sweet waters forth amid salt waves. Just so, then, can those seeds of fire burst forth Athrough that other fount, and bubble out Abroad against the bit of tow; and when They there collect or cleave unto the torch, Forthwith they readily flash aflame, because The tow and torches, also, in themselves Have many seeds of latent fire. Indeed, And seest thou not, when near the nightly lamps Thou bringest a flaxen wick, extinguished A moment since, it catches fire before 'Thas touched the flame, and in same wise a torch? And many another object flashes aflame When at a distance, touched by heat alone, Before 'tis steeped in veritable fire. This, then, we must suppose to come to pass In that spring also. Now to other things! And I'll begin to treat by what decree Of nature it came to pass that iron can be By that stone drawn which Greeks the magnet call After the country's name (its origin Being in country of Magnesian folk). This stone men marvel at; and sure it oft Maketh a chain of rings, depending, lo, From off itself! Nay, thou mayest see at times Five or yet more in order dangling down And swaying in the delicate winds, whilst one Depends from other, cleaving to under-side, And ilk one feels the stone's own power and bonds— So over-masteringly its power flows down. In things of this sort, much must be made sure Ere thou account of the thing itself canst give, And the approaches roundabout must be; Wherefore the more do I exact of thee A mind and ears attent. First, from all things We see soever, evermore must flow, Must be discharged and strewn about, about, Bodies that strike the eyes, awaking sight. From certain things flow odours evermore, As cold from rivers, heat from sun, and spray From waves of ocean, eater-out of walls Along the coasts. Nor ever cease to seep The varied echoings athrough the air. Then, too, there comes into the mouth at times The wet of a salt taste, when by the sea We roam about; and so, whene'er we watch The wormwood being mixed, its bitter stings. To such degree from all things is each thing Borne streamingly along, and sent about To every region round; and nature grants Nor rest nor respite of the onward flow, Since 'tis incessantly we feeling have, And all the time are suffered to descry And smell all things at hand, and hear them sound. Now will I seek again to bring to mind How porous a body all things have—a fact Made manifest in my first canto, too. For, truly, though to know this doth import For many things, yet for this very thing On which straightway I'm going to discourse, 'Tis needful most of all to make it sure That naught's at hand but body mixed with void. A first ensample: in grottos, rocks o'erhead Sweat moisture and distil the oozy drops; Likewise, from all our body seeps the sweat; There grows the beard, and along our members all And along our frame the hairs. Through all our veins Disseminates the foods, and gives increase And aliment down to the extreme parts, Even to the tiniest finger-nails. Likewise, Through solid bronze the cold and fiery heat We feel to pass; likewise, we feel them pass Through gold, through silver, when we clasp in hand The brimming goblets. And, again, there flit Voices through houses' hedging walls of stone; Odour seeps through, and cold, and heat of fire That's wont to penetrate even strength of iron. Again, where corselet of the sky girds round And at same time, some Influence of bane, When from Beyond 'thas stolen into [our world]. And tempests, gathering from the earth and sky, Back to the sky and earth absorbed retire— With reason, since there's naught that's fashioned not With body porous. Furthermore, not all The particles which be from things thrown off Are furnished with same qualities for sense, Nor be for all things equally adapt. A first ensample: the sun doth bake and parch The earth; but ice he thaws, and with his beams Compels the lofty snows, up-reared white Upon the lofty hills, to waste away; Then, wax, if set beneath the heat of him, Melts to a liquid. And the fire, likewise, Will melt the copper and will fuse the gold, But hides and flesh it shrivels up and shrinks. The water hardens the iron just off the fire, But hides and flesh (made hard by heat) it softens. The oleaster-tree as much delights The bearded she-goats, verily as though 'Twere nectar-steeped and shed ambrosia; Than which is naught that burgeons into leaf More bitter food for man. A hog draws back For marjoram oil, and every unguent fears Fierce poison these unto the bristled hogs, Yet unto us from time to time they seem, As 'twere, to give new life. But, contrariwise, Though unto us the mire be filth most foul, To hogs that mire doth so delightsome seem That they with wallowing from belly to back Are never cloyed. A point remains, besides, Which best it seems to tell of, ere I go To telling of the fact at hand itself. Since to the varied things assigned be The many pores, those pores must be diverse In nature one from other, and each have Its very shape, its own direction fixed. And so, indeed, in breathing creatures be The several senses, of which each takes in Unto itself, in its own fashion ever, Its own peculiar object. For we mark How sounds do into one place penetrate, Into another flavours of all juice, And savour of smell into a third. Moreover, One sort through rocks we see to seep, and, lo, One sort to pass through wood, another still Through gold, and others to go out and off Through silver and through glass. For we do see Through some pores form-and-look of things to flow, Through others heat to go, and some things still To speedier pass than others through same pores. Of verity, the nature of these same paths, Varying in many modes (as aforesaid) Because of unlike nature and warp and woof Of cosmic things, constrains it so to be. Wherefore, since all these matters now have been Established and settled well for us As premises prepared, for what remains 'Twill not be hard to render clear account By means of these, and the whole cause reveal Whereby the magnet lures the strength of iron. First, stream there must from off the lode-stone seeds Innumerable, a very tide, which smites By blows that air asunder lying betwixt The stone and iron. And when is emptied out This space, and a large place between the two Is made a void, forthwith the primal germs Of iron, headlong slipping, fall conjoined Into the vacuum, and the ring itself By reason thereof doth follow after and go Thuswise with all its body. And naught there is That of its own primordial elements More thoroughly knit or tighter linked coheres Than nature and cold roughness of stout iron. Wherefore, 'tis less a marvel what I said, That from such elements no bodies can From out the iron collect in larger throng And be into the vacuum borne along, Without the ring itself do follow after. And this it does, and followeth on until 'Thath reached the stone itself and cleaved to it By links invisible. Moreover, likewise, The motion's assisted by a thing of aid (Whereby the process easier becomes),— Namely, by this: as soon as rarer grows That air in front of the ring, and space between Is emptied more and made a void, forthwith It happens all the air that lies behind Conveys it onward, pushing from the rear. For ever doth the circumambient air Drub things unmoved, but here it pushes forth The iron, because upon one side the space Lies void and thus receives the iron in. This air, whereof I am reminding thee, Winding athrough the iron's abundant pores So subtly into the tiny parts thereof, Shoves it and pushes, as wind the ship and sails. The same doth happen in all directions forth: From whatso side a space is made a void, Whether from crosswise or above, forthwith The neighbour particles are borne along Into the vacuum; for of verity, They're set a-going by poundings from elsewhere, Nor by themselves of own accord can they Rise upwards into the air. Again, all things Must in their framework hold some air, because They are of framework porous, and the air Encompasses and borders on all things. Thus, then, this air in iron so deeply stored Is tossed evermore in vexed motion, And therefore drubs upon the ring sans doubt And shakes it up inside.... In sooth, that ring is thither borne along To where 'thas once plunged headlong—thither, lo, Unto the void whereto it took its start. It happens, too, at times that nature of iron Shrinks from this stone away, accustomed By turns to flee and follow. Yea, I've seen Those Samothracian iron rings leap up, And iron filings in the brazen bowls Seethe furiously, when underneath was set The magnet stone. So strongly iron seems To crave to flee that rock. Such discord great Is gendered by the interposed brass, Because, forsooth, when first the tide of brass Hath seized upon and held possession of The iron's open passage-ways, thereafter Cometh the tide of the stone, and in that iron Findeth all spaces full, nor now hath holes To swim through, as before. 'Tis thus constrained With its own current 'gainst the iron's fabric To dash and beat; by means whereof it spues Forth from itself—and through the brass stirs up— The things which otherwise without the brass It sucks into itself. In these affairs Marvel thou not that from this stone the tide Prevails not likewise other things to move With its own blows: for some stand firm by weight, As gold; and some cannot be moved forever, Because so porous in their framework they That there the tide streams through without a break, Of which sort stuff of wood is seen to be. Therefore, when iron (which lies between the two) Hath taken in some atoms of the brass, Then do the streams of that Magnesian rock Move iron by their smitings. Yet these things Are not so alien from others, that I Of this same sort am ill prepared to name Ensamples still of things exclusively To one another adapt. Thou seest, first, How lime alone cementeth stones: how wood Only by glue-of-bull with wood is joined— So firmly too that oftener the boards Crack open along the weakness of the grain Ere ever those taurine bonds will lax their hold. The vine-born juices with the water-springs Are bold to mix, though not the heavy pitch With the light oil-of-olive. And purple dye Of shell-fish so uniteth with the wool's Body alone that it cannot be ta'en Away forever—nay, though thou gavest toil To restore the same with the Neptunian flood, Nay, though all ocean willed to wash it out With all its waves. Again, gold unto gold Doth not one substance bind, and only one? And is not brass by tin joined unto brass? And other ensamples how many might one find! What then? Nor is there unto thee a need Of such long ways and roundabout, nor boots it For me much toil on this to spend. More fit It is in few words briefly to embrace Things many: things whose textures fall together So mutually adapt, that cavities To solids correspond, these cavities Of this thing to the solid parts of that, And those of that to solid parts of this— Such joinings are the best. Again, some things Can be the one with other coupled and held, Linked by hooks and eyes, as 'twere; and this Seems more the fact with iron and this stone. Now, of diseases what the law, and whence The Influence of bane upgathering can Upon the race of man and herds of cattle Kindle a devastation fraught with death, I will unfold. And, first, I've taught above That seeds there be of many things to us Life-giving, and that, contrariwise, there must Fly many round bringing disease and death. When these have, haply, chanced to collect And to derange the atmosphere of earth, The air becometh baneful. And, lo, all That Influence of bane, that pestilence, Or from Beyond down through our atmosphere, Like clouds and mists, descends, or else collects From earth herself and rises, when, a-soak And beat by rains unseasonable and suns, Our earth hath then contracted stench and rot. Seest thou not, also, that whoso arrive In region far from fatherland and home Are by the strangeness of the clime and waters Distempered?—since conditions vary much. For in what else may we suppose the clime Among the Britons to differ from Aegypt's own (Where totters awry the axis of the world), Or in what else to differ Pontic clime From Gades' and from climes adown the south, On to black generations of strong men With sun-baked skins? Even as we thus do see Four climes diverse under the four main-winds And under the four main-regions of the sky, So, too, are seen the colour and face of men Vastly to disagree, and fixed diseases To seize the generations, kind by kind: There is the elephant-disease which down In midmost Aegypt, hard by streams of Nile, Engendered is—and never otherwhere. In Attica the feet are oft attacked, And in Achaean lands the eyes. And so The divers spots to divers parts and limbs Are noxious; 'tis a variable air That causes this. Thus when an atmosphere, Alien by chance to us, begins to heave, And noxious airs begin to crawl along, They creep and wind like unto mist and cloud, Slowly, and everything upon their way They disarrange and force to change its state. It happens, too, that when they've come at last Into this atmosphere of ours, they taint And make it like themselves and alien. Therefore, asudden this devastation strange, This pestilence, upon the waters falls, Or settles on the very crops of grain Or other meat of men and feed of flocks. Or it remains a subtle force, suspense In the atmosphere itself; and when therefrom We draw our inhalations of mixed air, Into our body equally its bane Also we must suck in. In manner like, Oft comes the pestilence upon the kine, And sickness, too, upon the sluggish sheep. Nor aught it matters whether journey we To regions adverse to ourselves and change The atmospheric cloak, or whether nature Herself import a tainted atmosphere To us or something strange to our own use Which can attack us soon as ever it come.