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BOOK V, tr. John Clarke




WIND is the atmosphere in motion. Some have i
put the definition thus : Wind is the atmosphere
in motion in one direction. The latter seems the
more accurate, because the atmosphere is never so
still as not to be in agitation of some kind. In a
similar way the sea is called calm when it is only
slightly moved and does not set in a particular
direction. Thus, if you read the verse :

When the winds slumbered and the sea was still,

you must bear in mind that the sea was not actu
ally still, but heaved gently ; and that it is called 2
calm in a comparative sort of way because it
receives no distinct impulse to this side or to that.
The same opinion is likewise to be adopted in
regard to the atmosphere : it is never absolutely
motionless, even though it be still. This you may
gather from the following observation : When the
sun pours into any circumscribed space, one sees
minute particles carried through the air in different
directions, some up, some down, meeting each other
in a great variety of ways. Therefore, if one say: 3
a wave is an agitation of the sea, one will very
imperfectly express what is meant, because even
when at rest the sea is agitated. But one will more
than sufficiently safeguard oneself if the definition

193 o


be : a wave is an agitation of the sea in one
direction. So in the subject which at the moment
forms our special topic, the definition will not be
unduly restricted if one is careful to say : wind
is the atmosphere flowing in one direction ; or, wind
is atmosphere flowing through some impulse, or, is
the force of the atmosphere going in one direction,
or, is a rush of the atmosphere more forcible than
usual in some one direction. I am aware of a
criticism that may be made in regard to the first
4 definition. What need is there to add that it is in
one direction that the atmosphere flows ? For
surely whatever flows, flows in one direction. No
one says that water flows if there is simply an
internal movement of it, but only if it is borne in
a particular direction. So a substance may be in
motion and yet not flow ; but, on the other hand, it
cannot flow except in one direction. Well, if, on
the one hand, the shorter definition is free from cavil,
let us employ it ; but if, on the other, any one is a
stickler, let him not omit the phrase whose addition
will serve to preclude all ambiguity. Now that we
have sufficiently discussed our terms, let us come to
grapple with our problem at closer quarters.


DEMOCRITUS avers that when there are many
particles, which he calls atoms, in a small empty
space (i.e. vacuum), wind is the outcome. But, on the
contrary, when the space is large and the particles
few, there is a still peaceful condition of the atmo
sphere. To illustrate : in the market square or in
a side street as long as there is a sprinkling of


people there is no disturbance as one walks along
it ; but when a crowd meets in a narrow space, then
they jostle against each other, and quarrelling
arises. Similarly in this space which surrounds our
earth ; when many bodies have crowded a very
small portion, it is unavoidable that they should
jostle one another and be driven back and forward,
and be intertwined and squeezed. Hence results
wind ; the particles that were struggling have had
to give way, and after being tossed about and
remaining in suspense for a long time they at
length lean their weight toward one side. But when
a few bodies occupy a large roomy place, they can
neither ram each other nor be jostled by one


THE falsity of this view may be inferred merely i
from the fact that wind by no means invariably
accompanies a cloud-laden atmosphere, and yet
more particles have gathered at that than at any
other time in a narrow space, where they * pro
duce condensation and heaviness in the clouds.
Besides, in the neighbourhood of rivers and lakes
cloud is frequent from the confinement and accu
mulation of particles, and yet there is no attendant
wind. Indeed, sometimes such a darkness over
spreads the place that the view of objects in the
immediate vicinity is cut off; which would never
happen unless numerous particles were massed in
a small space. Yet no period is more free from 2
wind than a period of cloud. Add now a con
sideration of an opposite character : When the sun
rarefies at his rising the thick dank morning air,


then a breeze springs up ; the particles have got
more room now, and the thickly packed crowd of
them is broken up.


1 BUT how, you will say, are winds then formed, for
you won t deny that they are formed ? Not in any
single way, I reply. Sometimes the earth herself
emits a great quantity of air, which she breathes out
of her hidden recesses. At other times a great
and long -continued evaporation drives the emis
sions from the depths up on high, where the change
which the mixed breath undergoes issues in wind.
A suggestion has been made which I cannot make
up my mind to believe, and yet I cannot pass over
without mention. In our bodies food produces
flatulence,, the emission of which causes great
offence to one s nasal susceptibilities ; sometimes a
report accompanies the relief of the stomach, some-

2 times there is a more polite smothering of it. In
like manner it is supposed the great frame of things
when assimilating its nourishment emits air. It is
a lucky thing for us that nature s digestion is good,
else we might apprehend some less agreeable con
sequences. Is it not, then, nearer the truth to say
that numerous particles are constantly borne up
from every part of the world ; and when they are
accumulated and subsequently begin to be rarefied
by the sun, wind starts up ? It is a general prin
ciple that anything contained in a narrow space
when it expands tries to get more room.


WELL, then, do I ask you to believe that evapora- i
tion from land and water is the sole cause of wind ?
Do I affirm that it produces a weight in the atmo
sphere, the breaking up of which causes a rush of
air ? that at that moment what was previously dense
and stationary gets rarefied and strives, as its
nature requires, to obtain a wider space ? I do
approve of this as sometimes the explanation. But
there is a far truer and more potent one, to wit,
that the atmosphere by its constitution possesses a
native capacity of movement, this power not being
derived from an external source, but being like
others of its powers inherent. For can you suppose 2
that we men have been endued with strength to
move about, while the atmosphere has been left
sluggish and immovable ? Water, too, has its own
motion, even though the winds are at rest ; other
wise it could not produce animal life. We see also
forms of vegetable life like moss produced by
water, and certain kinds of herbage floating on its


WELL, then, I take it, in water there resides some
vital principle. In water, did I say ? Why, fire,
the universal destroyer, has a creative function ; it
may not seem a likely thing, but all the same it is
but the truth that some animals are generated by
fire. The atmosphere, then, possesses some power
of- this kind ; and that is why it sometimes grows
thick, sometimes expands and throws off impurities,


sometimes contracts, at others opens up and dis
perses. There is thus the same difference between
air and wind as between lake and river. 1 There are
occasions when the sun is the sole cause of wind, as
he rarefies the stiff atmosphere and opens it out
from its thick contracted state.


HAVING spoken of the winds in general, let us now
proceed to the discussion of individual winds.
Perchance the discovery of the time and place of
their origin will conduce to the discovery of their
manner of formation. First, then, let us look at
breezes before dawn, which are borne either from
rivers or hollow valleys or from some bay. None
of these winds lasts long, but falls when the sun has
got stronger ; nor is it carried up out of sight of the
earth. This class of wind sets in in spring, and
does not last beyond summer. It comes chiefly
from a quarter where there are spaces of water
and mountains. Plains, for instance, may have
abundance of water, and yet they have no breeze ;
I mean a breeze strong enough to be called wind.


How, then, is a blast of this kind, which is called
by the Greeks a gulf breeze (ev/co\7rias), formed ?
This is the theory of them : All the exhalations of
marshes and rivers and they are abundant and
constant form by day the sun s nourishment. By
night, however, there is no drain on them, and they

1 This remark would have been more apposite in Chap. L, above;
possibly that is its correct place.


are enclosed by the mountains and accumulate
in one quarter. When they have filled up this
quarter and can no longer find accommodation
in it, but are squeezed out on one side and move
in a particular direction, then you have the
wind. It inclines, of course, toward the side to
which it is invited by the freer exit, and by the
openness of the place toward which the accumu- 2
lated elements can rush. A proof of this is that a
wind of this kind does not blow in the early part of
the night. At that time the gathering only begins,
but by daybreak it has reached the full, and seeks
relief by flowing off. It chooses its exit by pre
ference where there is the largest empty space and
a great expanse of open. It is stimulated by the
rays of the rising sun striking on the chilly air.
Even before he makes his appearance his light of
itself has an influence. The sun does not at that
stage, it is true, drive away the atmosphere with his
beams ; still, he already attacks and harasses it by 3
the shafts of light he sends before him. When he
comes out himself in his power, part of the
gathering is carried off to a greater altitude, part is
dissipated by his heat. Wherefore power is not
granted to these winds to continue longer than the
morning. All their strength collapses at sight of
the sun. Even if their blast is somewhat violent,
yet they begin to subside as mid-day approaches ;
in fact, the breeze l never lasts as long as noon. Any
other variety of the breeze is weaker and shorter in
duration ; they vary according as the causes to which
they owe their origin are more or less powerful.

1 The precise meaning of this and the following sentence is doubtful ; one
would suspect that the latter originally ran varieties of the breeze are longer
or shorter in duration according as, etc.



1 BUT why, again, are winds of this nature stronger
in spring and summer ? For during the remainder
of the year they are very light, never rising
sufficiently to fill the sails of a boat. The reason is
that spring is a wetter season. There is at that
time more evaporation going on, both from the
abundance of water lying about, and from the
saturation of the ground to overflowing through
the moist character of the sky. And the reason
why this wind is equally prevalent in summer is
that the heat of the day remaining after sundown
and lasting during a great part of the night draws
out exhalations, and attracts more forcibly any of
them that are wont to be given off spontaneously
by the ground. But subsequently the heat has not

2 sufficient strength to use up what it drew out. This is
the reason, I say, why the soil and its moisture give off
for a longer period [at certain seasons] the particles
derived from the earth s wonted emanations and ex
halations. The sunrise produces wind by its stroke
as well as by its warmth. For, as I have already
said, the light which precedes the sun does not as yet
heat up the atmosphere, but merely smites upon it ;
being smitten the air retires to one side. And yet I
cannot go so far as to admit that the light is quite
devoid of heat, inasmuch as it is derived from heat.
Probably it does not contain as great an amount as
would appear from its effect. Still, it accomplishes
its own task by separating and rarefying the dense

3 exhalations. Moreover, places which through some
disservice of nature are so shut in that they cannot
receive the direct rays of the sun, even they, I say,


are heated somewhat by the dull cloudy light that
can pierce to them and are less rigid during the
day than by night. Furthermore, all heat naturally
dispels cloud and drives it off from itself. There
fore the sun likewise has the same effect. For that
reason some people suppose that the blast must
come from the direction in which the sun lies. But
this opinion is manifestly false, seeing that the
breeze sets in any direction, and one can sometimes
sail right toward the sunrise with all canvas set.
That could not happen if the wind were always
coming from the direction of the sun.

THE Etesian winds, too, which some drag into the i
discussion, do not give much support to their con
tention. First, I will tell you what their opinion is,
and, secondly, why it is not mine. The Etesians,
say they, do not blow in winter, because at the
season of the shortest days the effect of the sun
ceases before the cold is overcome. So, snow
accumulates then and freezes hard. In summer
the Etesian winds begin to blow at the time
when the day is lengthened out and the sun s
rays come down straight upon us. Probably, there
fore, the snows smitten by the greater heat exhale
more moisture. The earth likewise breathes more
freely when uncovered and relieved of the snow.
So more particles issue from the northern portion of 2
the heavens, and are wafted toward our quarter,
which lies lower and is warmer. From this the
Etesians derive their impulse ; wherefore they begin
at the summer solstice, and do not blow strongly


after the rise of the Dog-star, because by that time
a great part of the cold northern exhalations has
been.carried down to our regions. But when the sun
has changed his course he still directs his beams
straight down on our hemisphere ; and one part of
the airj he attracts, but another he thrusts before
him. 1 Thus the blast of the Etesians breaks the
force of the summer heat, protecting us from the
full severity of the most broiling months.


I MUST now, as I promised, tell you why the Etesian
winds do not give any assistance to their advocates
nor contribute aught to their argument. We have
said that the breeze is stirred by the morning light,
but it no less surely subsides when the full sun has
touched it. And yet the Etesians are called by sailors
sleepy-headed and dainty, for the very reason that, as
my brother Gallio puts it, they cannot get up in the
morning. They begin to show face at the time when
even the most persistent morning breeze has fallen.
This would not occur if the sun reduced the force
of the Etesians as he does that of the morning
breezes. Add also that, if the cause of their rise
was the lengthened space of the day, they would
blow even prior to the solstice when the days are at
their longest, and when the thaw of the snow is at
its height. By the month of July everything is
clear of snow, or, at any rate, very few places are
still covered with it.

1 The meaning is very obscure. The text has been suspected, not
without cause : the words " he still . . . hemisphere " are out of place, to
say the least of it.



THERE are some species of winds which issue i
from clouds that are rent and pour down their
contents. They are called by the Greeks cloud
winds (etcvetyas). Their method of formation, as
I suppose, is this : among the particles given off
by the earth s vapour and carried aloft there is great
inequality and dissimilarity, some being dry and
others moist. When the particles have massed in
one body there is great discord and internal strife,
which probably leads to the forming of certain hollow
clouds with narrow pipe-shaped spaces left between,
much like a flute in shape. In these gaps there 2
is shut up rarefied air, which, being buffeted about
in the confined space and becoming heated, strives to
get more room. It expands and rends its envelope,
breaking forth in wind, which, as a rule, is squally,
since it descends from above and falls on us with
fierce vehemence. It is not diffused, nor does it
come through a wide open space, but it struggles
and opens up its way by main force. As a rule, it 3
is a brief gust. As it bursts through the cloudy
receptacle by which it was confined and overleaps
the battlements, it comes in tumultuous energy,
sometimes not unattended with fire and the sound
of thunder in the heavens. Such winds are much
more violent and of longer duration if they have
taken up in their course other gusts proceeding
from a like cause, and thus several have conspired
to form one. It is just like the flow of torrents of
moderate size, not serious as long as each has its
separate course. But when a number of them have 4


combined their streams, they surpass in size regular,
constant rivers. The same thing may probably
happen in squalls ; they are short-lived whenever
they are alone. But when they have joined forces,
and the air expelled from several parts of the sky
at once has all combined in one, both force and
duration are added to them.


1 So, then, wind results from the breaking up of a
cloud, which breach is effected in several different
ways. The accumulation of air is burst sometimes
by the internal struggle, as it seeks to gain an exit ;
sometimes by the heat produced either simply by
the sun or else by the mutual ramming and friction
of the roaming bodies.

At this point, if you have no objection, one may
raise the question why a whirlwind occurs. In
rivers, when their course has been without any
obstacle for a long distance, the channel is a straight,

2 uniform one. But when they meet some boulder
that juts from the bank, the stream is driven back
and whirls the waters in a circle without a way of
escape, so that in their revolution they are con
stantly sucked in toward the centre to form a
whirlpool. In like manner the wind pours out in
full force as long as no obstacle stands in the way.
But when it is reflected from some jutting pro
jection, or is massed in a quarter which com
bines to form a thin downward channel, then it
revolves upon its own axis, and produces an
eddy similar to that in which, as we have just

3 said, the water revolves. This revolving wind,


which always traverses the same spot and is
roused to fury by the mere giddy whirling, is a
whirlwind. If it is a very fierce one, and revolves
longer than ordinary, it ignites and causes what
the Greeks call a fire-wind (irprja-Tijp), which is
just a fiery whirlwind. The bursting of such
winds from the clouds produces almost all the
disasters by which herds are carried off and ships
lifted, bodily, right out of the water. Further,
some winds produce different ones by dispersing
the air and driving it before them in other directions
than that toward which they themselves have bent
their course.

It occurs to me at the moment to mention 4
a parallel to wind that may be drawn from drops
of moisture. The single drops may begin to
incline downwards and be on the verge of giving
way, but yet do not manage to fall. When, how
ever, several have united and the mass has imparted
strength, then they are said to flow and to move.
So, as long as there are slight movements of the
atmosphere disturbed at several points, they do not
produce wind. The latter begins only when all
those movements are united and concentrated in a
single effort. Air differs from wind in degree alone.
A more violent air is a wind ; air in turn is gently
flowing atmosphere.


LET me now recall a remark that I had made early i
in this book, namely, that wind issues from cave or
inner recess of earth. The whole earth is not of
solid compact constitution down to its lowest
foundations, but at many points is hollow,


. . . hung over dark retreats.

In some places it contains voids that have no
moisture. Though there is no light there to
show the distinctions in the air, yet I venture to

2 assert that cloud and mist settle in that gloom.
Above ground cloud and mist surely do not
exist because they are seen ; but, rather, they
are seen because they exist. Well, there too rivers
none the less exist that they are not seen. You
must understand that down there rivers flow equal
in size to our own. Some glide gently, others
resound as they tumble down headlong over the
broken ground. So must not you equally allow
that there are some lakes underground and some

3 water in pools without an exit ? This being so, it
is of necessity that the air be charged with moisture,
and that, being charged, it lean in one direction, rais
ing the wind by its propulsion. We must recognise,
therefore, that from those subterranean clouds blasts
of wind are raised in the dark, what time they have
gathered strength sufficient to remove the obstacles
presented by the earth, or can seize upon some open
path for their exit, and from this cavernous retreat

4 can escape toward the abodes of men. Now it is
obvious that underground there are large quantities
of sulphur and other substances no less inflammable.
When the air in search of a path of escape works its
tortuous way through ground of this nature, it
necessarily kindles fire by the mere friction. By
and by, as the flames spread more widely, any
sluggish air there may be is also rarefied and set in
motion ; a way of escape is sought with great
roaring and violence. This point I will elaborate
in more detail when I go on to treat of earthquakes.




You must now allow me to tell you a little story ! i
Asclepiodotus vouches for the tale. Once on a time
a large party of miners was sent down by Philip
into an old mine, long since abandoned, to ascertain
its prospects and condition, and to see whether
ancient avarice had left anything for posterity to
glean. Down they went with plenty of light to last
for days. In due time, when they were quite tired
by the length of the road, they saw a sight to make
their hair stand on end huge rivers and vast
reservoirs of sluggish waters, equal in size to any
above ground, not pressed down either with a
weight of earth above, but overarched with an open
vault. I confess I felt lively satisfaction in reading
the story. It showed me that the vices from which 2
our age suffers are not new ; they have been handed
down from ancient days. Nor is it in our age that
avarice has for the first time ransacked the reefs of
soil and stone, searching in the dark for treasure
badly hidden. Those ancestors of ours, whom we
are always vaunting, our declension from whose
standard we constantly bemoan, were also lured
by hope to cut down the mountains and stand
beneath the ruins to gloat over their filthy lucre.

Before the time of Philip of Macedon there were 3
kings who pursued treasure down to its deepest
lurking-places ; leaving the free air and light of day
behind, they lowered themselves into those caverns,
which no distinction of night from day could reach.
What expectation could lead them on ? What
necessity caused man, whose head points to the


stars, to stoop below, burying him in mines and
plunging him in the very bowels of innermost earth
to root up gold ? The quest for the precious bane
4 is no less perilous than its possession. For this he
drove shafts and crawled round his dirty, uncertain
booty, forgetful of day, forgetful of his better
nature, which he abjured. On no dead man does
earth lie so heavily as it lies on those on whom
insistent avarice has cast earth s weight, from whom
it has withdrawn the light of day, whom it has
buried in the depths where that noxious poison
lurks. They had the hardihood to descend to a
region where they found a new order of nature,
forms of overhanging earth and winds raving
through the blind void, where are dread fountains
of waters whose streams none drink, and night
reigns deep and unbroken. And then, after all that
has come and gone, they dread the gods of the
nether world !


1 BUT to return to the matter in hand ; there are
four winds, divided, according to the cardinal points,
into east, west, south, and north. The rest of the
winds, which are called by different names, are
attached to these :

Eurus has gone toward the dawn and the realms of Nebaioth
And Persia and the peaks that lie beneath the rays of morn.
Evening and the coasts that are warmed by the setting sun
Are close to Zephyrus. Scythia and the Great Bear
Are under the sway of dread Boreas. The land that faces these
Is bathed in unbroken cloud and rainy Auster.

2 Or, if you prefer a briefer enumeration, you may
gather them in one great storm a physical im
possibility, by the way :


Eurus and Notus (south) rush together, and with squall upon

Africus (south-west).

And we may add Aquilo (north), which has no place
in the famous battle of the winds to which Virgil
refers. Some make the number of the winds twelve.
They divide the four quarters of heaven into three
parts each, adding two subsidiary winds to each of
the principal ones. On this principle that diligent 3
author, Varro, classifies them. And there is good
ground for it ; the other method, which refers them
to seasonal changes, is very unsatisfactory. For
instance, the sun does not always rise or set at the
same point. He has one place of rising at the
equinox indeed, the equinox occurs twice a year
another at the summer, and still another at the
winter, solstice. The wind which sets in from the
direction of sunrise at the equinoxes is with us
called Subsolane (near the sun) ; the Greeks call it
a</>?7Xtft)T779 (from the sun). From sunrise in winter
Eurus comes, named by our countrymen Vulturnus
(i.e. from Mt. Vultur in the S.E.). Livy also calls it 4
by this name, in connection with that famous battle
of Cannae, which proved so disastrous to Rome.
Hannibal on that occasion managed to get our
army with its face to the rising sun and to the
wind ; by the aid of the wind and the glare that
dazzled the eyes of the enemy he snatched the
victory. Varro likewise uses the same name. But
Eurus is a name now naturalised, and has a place in
our vocabulary that does not suggest any foreign
origin. The wind that is raised by sunrise at the 5
summer solstice was called by the Greeks /eat/aa? ; 1
we have no name for it. Sunset at the equinox sends

1 No explanation of this name of the nor -easter is forthcoming.



us Favonius, which even people who cannot speak
Greek will tell you is called the Zephyr. Corns,
which is by some called Argestes [from its clear
ness], comes from the sunset at the summer solstice.
I do not approve of the identification ; Corus is a
vehement wind, rushing in one uniform direc
tion, while Argestes is, as a rule, a gentle wind,
and blows impartially on travellers coming and
going along the same road (i.e. is constantly
6 shifting). From sunset in midwinter comes the
rushing furious Africus (African wind), named by
the Greeks the Libyan (Xn/r). In the northern
quarter the highest (i.e. most easterly) is Aquilo,
the central one is Septemtrio, the lowest Thracias, 1
for which there is no corresponding word in Latin.
In the southern region there is Euronotus, then
Notus, or in Latin Auster, then Libonotus, which
has no Latin name.


1 WE Stoics hold that there are twelve winds ; not
that there are everywhere so many (the slope of the
earth [i.e. of the earth s axis] excludes some), but
because there are nowhere more than twelve. We
speak of six cases in the same way, not because
every noun possesses six, but because none has
more than six. Those who assert the number
of the winds to be twelve adopt the principle
that the number must be the same as the divisions
of the heavens. Now the heavens are divided
into five zones passing through the cardinal points

2 of the world. These are the northern, the solstitial,

1 I.e. the Thracian ; Thrace must have been N.W. of the region in which
the name had its origin.

xvii LOCAL WINDS 211

the equinoctial, the wintry, the one that faces
the northern. A sixth is added in the zone which
separates the upper part of the world from the
lower. As you know, there is always one -half
the world above our head, and one -half beneath
our feet. This line which lies between the visible
and the concealed parts of the sky is called
by the Greeks the Horizon (opifav = bounding
line) : our school call it the Bounder ; others, the
Bounding [line]. To this must be added the 3
meridian circle, which cuts the horizon at right
angles. Some of these zones run transversely,
intersecting others. Now there must necessarily
be as many divisions of the heavens as there are
parts. So, then, the horizon or bounding circle
cuts those five zones, of whose position I have
just spoken, making ten parts, five to east and five
to west. The meridian circle which meets the
horizon gives two additional divisions. Thus the 4
air receives its twelve divisions, and yields a like
number of winds.

There are some of the winds that are peculiar to
certain localities; they do not carry far, but reach only
the immediate vicinity. They do not derive their
impulse from a particular quarter of the world at large.
For example, the wind Atabulus haunts Apulia ; the
lapygian, Calabria ; the Scironian, Athens ; Cataegis,
Pamphylia ; Circius, Gaul. To the last mentioned,
though it shakes their houses, the people are very
grateful, believing they are indebted to it for the
healthiness of their climate. At any rate, the late
Emperor Augustus, when he was staying in Gaul,
erected to it a temple he had vowed. My task
would never be done if I were to attempt to
enumerate the individual winds. There is hardly


any district that has not some particular wind that
arises in it and falls not far from it.


1 WHEREFORE among the other works of Providence
this one must be regarded as worthy of all admira
tion. Heaven had many purposes in view in
devising the winds and distributing them through
all the varied quarters of the earth. The first object
was to prevent the atmosphere from becoming
gross ; by their constant tossing the winds were
meant to render it beneficial, a source of life to
those who were to breathe it. In the second place,
they were to supply the earth with rain, and at the

2 same time to restrain excess of rain. This they
accomplish by now gathering, now scattering the
clouds, so that the rainfall should be fairly distributed
over the whole world. The south wind drives it
toward Italy, the north sends it back to Africa.
The Etesian winds will not suffer the clouds to settle
in our quarter ; but yet the whole of India and
Ethiopia are watered with constant rain during the
period of their prevalence. Moreover, crops could
not be gathered in unless the worthless elements
were winnowed by the blast from the good grain
with which it is mixed. The breeze is needed, too,
to rouse the seed and bring to light the latent
fruit, by causing it to burst through its covering,
those wrappings which the farmers call follicles.

3 Furthermore, the wind has established intercom
munication among all the different nations, and has
united tribes far removed from each other in place.

A great service is this that nature here renders, did


not man s madness turn it to his own injury ! As it
is, the remark may be applied to the winds which
was commonly made regarding Caesar the Elder
(Julius), as recorded by Titus Livius (Livy) ; it was
doubtful whether his birth was a blessing or a
curse to the state. In like manner all the useful
and necessary services performed by the winds can
not outweigh the devices which man s madness has
through them framed for his own destruction. But 4
they do not cease to be inherently good, even
though, through fault of those who degrade their
use, they are turned to instruments of harm.
Surely Providence and God, the great Disposer of
the world, had a beneficent aim in establishing the
winds, and diffusing them on every side, to wit,
that the atmosphere might be kept in motion
by them, that no part of the world should become
unsightly through inactivity. Pi is object was not
that we might man our fleet with armed soldiers to
seize every quarter of the main, and that we might
go in search of foes either in or beyond the sea.
What frenzy goads us on, and matches us in strife
for our mutual destruction ? We spread the sails 5
to the winds to go in quest of war, and we run
risks of sea for the sake of meeting risks of battle !
We tempt the uncertainty of fortune, the force of
tempests that no human effort can overcome, death
without hope of burial. The prize would not be
worth the toil if the voyage conducted us to
peace. As it is, when we have passed so many
hidden rocks and hidden shoals of a treacherous
sea ; when we have escaped the billows that rise
like mountains above us, into which the raging wind
forces all voyagers ; when we have passed through 6
days enveloped in mist, and nights rendered still


more awful by cloud and thunder, and by whirlwinds
that rend the frail bark in pieces ; what reward shall
we have for all the toil and anxiety ? What harbour
will give us hospitable shelter, worn out as we are
with so many sufferings ? War, I trow, will meet
us, and an enemy ready prepared on shore and
tribes destined to cruel slaughter, but not without
much damage to the conqueror, and ancient cities
in flames. Why do we press whole nations into
arms ? Why do we enrol armies to marshal

7 their lines amid the billows ? Why do we dis
quiet the seas ? The land, I suppose, is not wide
enough to compass our death. Fortune deals too
tenderly with us : she has given us too hardy
bodies, too sound health. No ravage of plague
cuts us off: each one may comfortably fill up the
measure of his years and reach the haven of old age.
So let us launch upon the deep and call toward us
the loitering fates. Poor wretches, what is it ye
seek ? Death, which is always too much with us ?
It will attack you, even in your couch ; well, see
that the victims it attacks are innocent of crime. It
will seize you in your house ; be sure it find you
planning no mischief.

s But what can one call it but plain insanity
actually to carry destruction in your train, to
rush in anger against men you never saw, to lay
waste without provocation all that comes in your
path, and, after the fashion of wild beasts, to kill
a man you do not hate ? We are worse than
beasts, for they bite only in retaliation or from
hunger ; but we, utterly lavish of our own and
others blood, harass the seas by the vessels we
launch, entrust our safety to the waves, and pray for
favouring winds, counting it our good fortune to be


borne in safety to the wars ! To what lengths have
our crimes hurried us criminals ? It is not enough 9
to vent one s madness within one s own sphere.
Your stupid King of Persia must cross into Greece,
filling it with an army with which he has failed to
conquer it. Your Alexander, leaving behind Bactra
and India, must needs seek to learn what lies
beyond the great sea, and will chafe that there is
any point beyond which he cannot go. Crassus in
like manner will fall a prey to the Parthians through
his lust of gold. He will not dread the imprecations
of the tribune who calls him back, nor the storms
of the tedious sea, nor the lightning by Euphrates
that foretold destruction, nor the resistance of heaven
itself. Through the wrath of man and God alike 10
gold shall be sought.

Not without good cause, therefore, it may be
said that nature would have done better by us
had she forbidden the winds to blow at all, had
she checked their roaming abroad in their fury,
and ordered each one to abide in his own land.
If this had served no other end, at any rate the
mischief of each human life would have been
restricted to itself and its own nation. As it is,
the ills of home are too little for us ; we must toil to
share those abroad as well. No land is so far re
moved from neighbours that it cannot send forth in
some direction its evil propensities. How do I know n
but that some ruler of a great nation meantime con
cealed from view, swollen by fortune s kindness,
may choose not to confine his arms within the
boundaries of his own realm, but with secret design
may even now be fitting out his fleet against us ?
How can I tell whether this wind or that shall
convey war to me ? It would go far to ensure


the peace of the world if the seas could be
shut up.

Still, as I said a little ago, we cannot put the
blame on God, our Author, if we corrupt His

12 blessings and turn them into curses. He gave us
the winds to maintain the equable temperature of
earth and sky, to call forth or to repress the
waters, to nourish the produce of field and tree ;
the crops are brought to maturity, among other
causes, by their mere tossing in the wind, which
attracts the nourishment to the top, and by move
ment prevents the stagnation of decay. He gave
the winds that we might gain acquaintance with
foreign lands. Man would have been an untutored
creature without much experience of the world if

13 circumscribed by the bounds of his native soil. He
gave the winds that the blessings of each region
might become common to all ; not to convey across
the sea regiments of horse and foot, nor arms for
the destruction of mankind. If w r e simply estimate
nature s boons by the degraded uses to which they
have been put, there is nothing that we have not
received for our own hurt. Who is aught the better
of the gift of sight ? or of speech ? To whom is
life itself not a torment ? I defy you to find any
thing of such undoubted utility that it cannot by
misuse be converted into a curse. So it is with the
winds : nature had designed them for a boon ; we

14 have ourselves made them the opposite. They all
lead us to some disaster : one man has not the
same motive as his neighbour for putting to sea, but
none has a good one. Diverse temptations lead us
to essay the way. Above all, we love to go to sea
in order to damage some one. Plato, with whose
testimony I may close, has observed, w r ith great


aptness, it is mere trifles that men purchase with
their lives. Yes, my dear Lucilius, if you estimate
aright man s madness, in other words, our own for
we all wallow in the same herd you will be
still more amused by the reflection that we amass
for life what in the end wears life out.


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