|Back to . . .||
This section . . .
. . . he [Gallus] ordered the celestial globe to be brought out which the grandfather of Marcellus had carried off from Syracuse, when that very rich and beautiful city was taken, though he took home with him nothing else out of the great store of booty captured. Though I had heard this globe mentioned quite frequently on account of the fame of Archimedes, when I actually saw it I did not particularly admire it; for that other celestial globe, also constructed by Archimedes, which the same Marcellus placed in the temple of Virtue, is more beautiful as well as more widely known among the people. But when Gallus began to give a very learned explanation of the device, I concluded that the famous Sicilian had been endowed with greater genius that one would imagine it possible for a human being to possess. For Gallus told us that the other kind of celestial globe, which was solid and contained no hollow space, was a very early invention, the first one of that kind having been constructed by Thales of Miletus, and later marked by Eudoxus of Cnidus (a disciple of Plato, it was claimed) with the constellations and stars which are fixed in the sky. He also said that many years later Aratus, borrowing this whole arrangement and plan from Eudoxus, had described it in verse, without any knowledge of astronomy, but with considerable poetic talent. But this newer kind of globe, he said, on which were delineated the motions of the sun and moon and of those five stars which are called wanderers [the five visible planets], or, as we might say, rovers, contained more than could be shown on the solid globe, and the invention of Archimedes deserved special admiration because he had thought out a way to represent accurately by a single device for turning the globe those various and divergent movements with their different rates of speed. And when Gallus moved the globe, it was actually true that the moon was always as many revolutions behind the sun on the bronze contrivance as would agree with the number of days it was behind in the sky. Thus the same eclipse of the sun happened on the globe as would actually happen, and the moon came to the point where the shadow of the earth was at the very time when the sun . . . out of the region . . .(Translation by Clinton W. Keyes in Cicero: De Re Publica, De Legibus, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1928.)
For when Archimedes fastened on a globe the movements of moon, sun and five wandering stars, he, just like Plato's God who built the world in the Timaeus, made one revolution of the sphere control several movements utterly unlike in slowness and speed. Now if in this world of ours phenomena cannot take place without the act of God, neither could Archimedes have reproduced the same movements upon a globe without divine genius.(Translation by J. E. King in Cicero: Tusculan Disputations, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1927.)
There stands a globe [in the Hall of Vesta] hung by Syracusan art in closed air, a small image of the vast vault of heaven, . . .(Translation by James G. Frazer in Ovid: Fasti, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1931.)
Was Archimedes of Sicily able to contrive a likeness and representation of the universe in hollow brass, in which he so arranged the sun and moon, that they effected, as it were every day, motions unequal and resembling the revolutions of the heavens, and that sphere, while it revolved, exhibited not only the approaches and withdrawings of the sun, or the increase and waning of the moon, but also the unequal courses of the stars, whether fixed or wandering? Was it then impossible for God to plan and create the originals, when the skill of man was able to represent them by imitation? Would the Stoic, therefore, if he should have seen the figures of the stars painted and fashioned in that brass, say that they moved by their own design, and not by the genius of the artificer?
When Jove looked down and saw the heavens figured in a sphere of glass he laughed and said to the other gods: "Has the power of mortal effort gone so far? Is my handiwork now mimicked in a fragile globe? An old man of Syracuse has imitated on earth the laws of the heavens, the order of nature, and the ordinances of the gods. Some hidden influence within the sphere directs the various courses of the stars and actuates the lifelike mass with definite motions. A false zodiac runs through a year of its own, and a toy moon waxes and wanes month by month. Now bold invention rejoices to make its own heaven revolve and sets the stars in motion by human wit. Why should I take umbrage at harmless Salmoneus and his mock thunder? Here the feeble hand of man has proved Nature's rival."(Translation by M. Platnauer in Claudian, Volume II, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1922.)
Archimedes of Syracuse made a heaven of brass in which all the movements of the seven planets could be truly performed as in the heavens, and the whole thing moved like the heavens. . . . Thus man imitates all the works of the divine nature, and perfects, corrects and improves the works of the lower nature.(Translation by Josephine L. Burroughs in Journal of the History of Ideas, Volume 5, Number 2, (April 1944), Pages 227-242.)
One point above all should be noted, that not every man can understand how and in what manner the skillful work of a clever artisan is constructed, but only he who possesses a like artistic genius. Certainly no one could understand how Archimedes constructed his brazen spheres and gave them motions like the heavenly motions, unless he were endowed with a similar genius.
Under mechanics also falls the science of equilibrium in general and the study of the so-called center of gravity, as well as the art of making spheres imitating the revolutions of the heavens, such as was cultivated by Archimedes, and in general every art concerned with the moving of material things.(Translation by Glenn R. Morrow (1895-1976) in Proclus: A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1970, Page 34.)