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Of the Divisions of the Seasons and Four Quarters of the Year, according , unto Astronomers and Physicians ; that the common compute of the Ancients, and which is still retained by some, is very questionable.
As for the divisions of the year, and the quartering out this remarkable standard of time, there have passed especially two distinctions. The first in frequent use with astronomers according to the cardinal intersections of the zodiack, that is, the two equinoctials and both the solstitial points, defining that time to be the spring of the year, wherein the sun doth pass from the equinox of Aries unto the solstice of Cancer; the time between the solstice and the equinox of Libra, summer; from thence unto the solstice of Capricornus, autumn; and from thence unto the equinox of Aries again, winter. Now this division, although it be regular and equal, is not universal; for it includeth not those latitudes which have the seasons of the year double; as have the inhabitants under the equator, or else between the tropicks. For unto them the sun is vertical twice a year, making two distinct summers in the different points of verticality. So unto those which live under the equator, when the sun is in the equinox, it is summer, in which points it maketh spring or autumn unto us; and unto them it is also winter when the sun is in either tropick, whereas unto us it maketh always summer in the one. And the like will happen unto those habitations, which are between the tropicks and the equator.
A second and more sensible division there is observed by Hippocrates, and most of the ancient Greeks, according to the rising and setting of divers stars; dividing the year, and establishing the account of seasons from usual alterations, and sensible mutations in the air, discovered upon the rising and setting of those stars : accounting the spring from the equinoctial point of Aries; from the rising of the Pleiades, or the several stars on the back of Taurus, summer; from the rising of Arcturus, a star between the thighs of Boëtes, autumn; and from the setting of the Pleiades, winter. Of these divisions, because they were unequal, they were fain to subdivide the two larger portions, that is, of the summer and
winter quarters; the first part of the summer they named Gépoç, the second unto the rising of the dog-star, öpa, from thence unto the setting of Arcturus, órápa. The winter they divide also into three parts; the first part, or that of seed-time, they named otopetov, the middle or proper winter, Xeeuwv, the last, which was their planting or grafting time, Auraliáv. This way of division was in former ages received,
often mentioned in poets, translated from one nation to another; from the Greeks unto the Latins, as is received by good authors; and delivered by physicians, even unto our times.
Now of these two, although the first in some latitude may be retained, yet is not the other in any way to be admitted. For in regard of time (as we elsewhere declare) the stars do vary their longitudes, and consequently the times of their ascension and descension. That star which is the term of numeration, or point from whence we commence the account, altering his site and longitude in process of time, and removing from west to east, almost one degree in the space of seventy-two years, so that the same star, since the age of Hippocrates, who used this account, is removed in consequentia about twenty-seven degrees. Which difference of their longitudes doth much diversify the times of their ascents, and rendereth the account unstable which shall proceed thereby.
Again, in regard of different latitudes, this cannot be a settled rule, or reasonably applied unto many nations. For, whereas the setting of the Pleiades, or seven stars, is designed the term of autumn, and the beginning of winter, unto some latitudes these stars do never set, as unto all beyond 67 degrees. And if in several and far distant latitudes we observe the same star as a common term of account unto both, we shall fall upon an unexpected, but an unsufferable absurdity; and by the same account it will be summer unto us in the north, before it be so unto those, which unto us are southward, and many degrees approaching nearer the
For if we consult the doctrine of the sphere, and observe the ascension of the Pleiades, which maketh the beginning of summer, we shall discover that in the latitude of 40 these stars arise in the 16th degree of Taurus, but in the latitude of 50, they ascend in the eleventh degree of the same sign, that is, five days sooner; so shall it be summer unto London, before it be unto Toledo, and begin to scorch in England, before it grow hot in Spain.
This is therefore no general way of compute, nor reasonable to be derived from one nation unto another; the defect of which consideration hath caused divers errors in Latin poets, translating these expressions from the Greeks; and many difficulties even in the Greeks themselves, which, living in divers latitudes, yet observed the same compute. So that, to make them out, we are fain to use distinctions; sometimes computing cosmically what they intended heliacally, and sometimes in the same expression accounting the rising heliacally, the setting cosmically. Otherwise it will be hardly made out, what is delivered by approved authors; and is an observation very considerable unto those which meet with such expressions, as they are very frequent in the poets of elder times, especially Hesiod, Aratus, Virgil, Ovid, Manilius, and authors geoponical, or which have treated de re rustica, as Constantine, Marcus Cato, Columella, Palladius, and Varro.
Lastly, the absurdity in making common unto many nations those considerations whose verity is but particular unto some, will more evidently appear, if we examine the rules and precepts of some one climate, and fall upon consideration with what incongruity they are transferable unto others. Thus it is advised by Hesiod :
Pleiadibus Atlante natis orientibus
Incipe Messem, Arationem vero occidentibus,implying hereby the heliacal ascent and cosmical descent of those stars. Now herein he setteth down a rule to begin harvest at the arise of the Pleiades; which in his time was in the beginning of May. This indeed was consonant unto the clime wherein he lived, and their harvest began about that season ; but is not appliable unto our own, for therein we are so far from expecting an harvest, that our barleyseed is not ended. Again, correspondent unto the rule of Hesiod, Virgil affordeth another:
Ante tibi Eoæ Atlantides abscondantur,
understanding hereby their cosmical descent, or their setting when the sun ariseth ; and not their heliacal obscuration, or their inclusion in the lustre of the sun, as Servius upon this place would have it; for at that time these stars are many signs removed from that luminary. Now herein he strictly adviseth, not to begin to sow before the setting of these stars; which notwithstanding, without injury to agriculture cannot be observed in England; for they set unto us about the 12th of November, when our seed-time is almost ended.
And this diversity of clime and celestial observations, precisely observed unto certain stars and months, hath not only overthrown the deductions of one nation to another, but hath perturbed the observation of festivities and statary solemnities, even with the Jews themselves. For unto them it was commanded, that at their entrance into the land of Canaan, in the fourteenth of the first month (that is Abib or Nisan, which is spring with us), they should observe the celebration of the passover; and on the morrow after, which is the fifteenth day, the feast of unleavened bread; and in the sixteenth of the same month, that they should offer the first sheaf of the harvest. Now all this was feasible and of an easy possibility in the land of Canaan, or latitude of Jerusalem ; for so it is observed by several authors in later times; and is also testified by Holy Scripture in times very far before.* For when the children of Israel passed the river Jordan, it is delivered by way of parenthesis, that the river overfloweth its banks in the time of harvest; which is conceived the time wherein they passed; and it is after delivered, that in the fourteenth day they celebrated the passover: which according to the law of Moses, was to be observed in the first month, or month of Abib.
And therefore it is no wonder, what is related by Luke, that the disciples upon the deuteroproton, as they passed by, plucked the ears of corn. For the deuteroproton or second first sabbath, was the first sabbath after the deutera or second of the passover, which was the sixteenth of Nisan or Abib. And this is also evidenced from the received construction of the first and latter rain: “I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain :'* for the first rain fell upon the seed-time about October, and was to make the seed to root; the latter was to fill the ear, and fell in Abib or March, the first month: according as is expressed, “ And he will cause to come down for
* Josh. iii.
+ Josh. v.
the rain, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month,”'t that is, the month of Abib, wherein the passover was observed. This was the law of Moses, and this in the land of Canaan was well observed, according to the first institution: but since their dispersion, and habitation in countries, whose constitutions admit not such tempestivity of harvests (and many not before the latter end of summer), notwithstanding the advantage of their lunary account, and intercalary month Veader, affixed unto the beginning of the year, there will be found a great disparity in their observations, nor can they strictly, and at the same season with their forefathers, observe the commands of God.
To add yet further, those geoponical rules and precepts of agriculture, which are delivered by divers authors, are not to be generally received, but respectively understood unto climes whereto they are determined. For whereas one adviseth to sow this or that grain at one season, a second to set this or that at another, it must be conceived relatively, and every nation must have its country farm; for herein we may observe a manifest and visible difference, not only in the seasons of harvest, but in the grains themselves. For with us barley-harvest is made after wheat-harvest, but with the Israelites and Egyptians it was otherwise. So is it expressed by way of priority, Ruth ii.; “So Ruth kept fast by the maidens of Boaz, to glean unto the end of barley-harvest and of wheat-harvest;" which in the plague of hail in Egypt is more plainly delivered, Exod. ix. ; “ And the flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled; but the wheat and the rye were not smitten, for they were not grown up.” And thus we see, the account established upon
the arise or descent of the stars can be no reasonable rule unto distant nations at all; and, by reason of their retrogression, but temporary unto any one. Nor must these respective expres
* Deut. xi.
of Joel ü.