Libri quinti, à Poeta non absoluti, Supplementum

This supplement to book five finishes the largely complete description of eclipses and their causes found in Buchanan. Of note is King's continuation of Buchanan's attack upon superstition, specifically astrology. For further discussion about the significance of this stance, see: McOmish, 'A community of scholarship: scientific discourse in early-modern Scotland' in Neo-Latin Literature and the Republic of Letters in Early Modern Scotland, Eds. Reid and McOmish (forthcoming)). See introduction to d2_KinA_008 for more details on King's astronomical background and the background to the supplements. Metre: hexameter.

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Libri Quinti, a Poeta non absoluti, Supplementum

1Ast ubi flammivomis iterum expugnata sagittis
Delius haec repetit, 1 lucemque in regna reduxit;
in Noton illa suas alioque sub axe jacentes
ducit in Antipodes tenebrarum hyemisque cohortes
5frigoribus somnoque graves: loca squalida castris
occupat obscuris; imbelliaque agmina campis
latius effundit, propiusque minatur Olympo
cuspide promota si longe aspide sub alta
distiterit terris Titan: sin orbis in imis
10sedibus eccentri vicinior obsidet umbras,
ignavum illa metu populum trepidasque catervas
aggeribus claudit brevibus valloque minore:
contractoque subit caelum jam parcius axe:
vicino semper metuens concurre Phoebo.
15Se nisi fraternos propius Latonia Phoebe
quum dat in amplexus, collo caudave Draconis
implicitam, nox atra suis obtenderit umbris:
ut quae non potuit Titani lumina, terris
eripiat: quanquam non omnibus omnia possit:
20his tamen, aut illis Phoebaei corporis orbem
aut totum, interdum aut aliquam tegit invida partem. 2

At quoties pleno fraternos induit ignes
ore, atque adversis referitur Cynthia flammis: 3
si nimium fidens animi, telisque superba
25non propriis; volucri propius jam concita biga,
castra inimica subit, positumque inscendere vallum,
et fossas superare audet secura pericli:
nunquam impune vagas umbras, noctemque soporam
sollicitat; 4 quin aut faciem maculata decoram
Link to an image of this page  [p253] 30parte aliqua tabo linet; 5 fractisque sagittis
consternata metu: pulso vix aere venenum
excutitur, 6 celerique fuga sese eripit hosti.
At si quando humili subvecta per aethera biga
armorum fulgore tumens, plenaque pharetra,
35intima castrorum penetret: mediisque Draconem
pervigilem tenebris incurreret: ilicet ille
deprensam tenet, intortoque volumine caudae
implicat, aut morsu infestat, linguaque trisulca.
Tum totam infuso faciem foedata veneno
40illa tremit, palletque metu incursantibus umbris,
injectaque mora trahitur per opaca viarum: 7
donec Avernales tandem eluctata per umbras
fratris in aspectum rursus se vindicet: ignes
iamque novos posito sensim pallore resumat.
45Temporibus sic astra statis, caelumque tenebras
exercere odiis; 8 et certis lumina causis
deficere, ac retegi voluit natura; 9 nec unquam
hos Lunam temere, Solemve subire labores:
non magicis caelo duci, aut squalere susurris:
50non iras monstrare Deum; vel poscere pulsi
aeris opem; 10 sibi quae vulgi male credulus error,
vana superstitio, et veri mens nescia finxit. 11
Haec animos Mecedum sternat formido; luantque,
quicquid habent Divi irarum cladisque futurae.

55Haec ubi differuit Gallus, populoque profano 12
eventu factura fidem secreta reclusit:
tantarum attonitae rerum novitate cohortes
Romulidum, nunc ora viri, mentemque sagacem
suspiciunt, nunc jura animis caelestia versant;
60impositasque astris leges; et numina fatis
vincta suis. Sed adhuc pars vani incredula vulgi
spemque metumque inter dum haeret, 13 magnisque tenebras
exposcunt votis: prono lux aurea caelo
occubat, et fuscis nox atra adremigat alis: 14
65aemula cum fratris mundo subvecta silenti 15
Titanis sudum pleno subit aethera vultu:
moxque trahit rugas. 16 Tum Gallum protinus omnes
circumstant: qui monstrat, uti occursantibus umbris,
Link to an image of this page  [p254] auricomae frontis paulatim exuta decorem
70livescat: totum donec ferrugine vultum
induat; 17 et densas vix tandem emensa tenebras
incipiat puros qua primum expalluit ignes
concipere, et totis sensim se liberet umbris.
Olli continuo posita formidine certi
75has caelo aeternas naturam figere leges;
dia nec incertos moliri sidera cursus:
spe magna attollunt animos, pugnaeque futurae
expediunt sese; atque alacres jam praelia poscunt.
Ex illo Aeneadae tabentia sidera nullo
80perculsi spectare metu; nec credere coelo
carmine deduci; aut magicos hausura susurros
aera laboranti crepitu succurrere Lunae. 18

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A Supplement to the unfinished Fifth Book of George Buchanan's De Sphaera

1Yet, when the Delian a once again turns back and has subdued these lands with his fire-spitting arrows, and has restored his light to them, the other Titan (the moon) leads out her army of darkness and winter, who oppress with cold and sleep, into the South and against the Antipodes who dwell under the other pole. Here she surrounds the towns with her dark standards, and she spreads out her becalming army across the fields, and she menaces heaven close-at-hand with her point advanced, whenever she is far removed from the land at her highest orbit. Yet if she occupies the shadows while closer to the lowest regions of her eccentric orbit, she surrounds the people who are ignorant with fear and the trembling mobs with smaller walls and a smaller rampart; and then steals across heaven on a truncated revolution, always fearing to run across upon Phoebus when close by. Except when Latonian Phoebe close-by gives herself to her brother's embrace and is held by either the dragon's neck or tail, then black night will cover all with its shadows, so that it will snatch away from the earth whatever light it can from the Titan (Sun); although it cannot snatch away all of it from everywhere, nevertheless for one people, or another she jealously conceals either the entire disc of Phoebus' mass, or some part of it. b

22However, she so often Cynthia assumes her brother's bright fire across her entire face, and is struck by his facing flames. If too confident in spirit and proud with weapons not her own, now roused in her swift chariot she approaches the enemy's camp, and she fearlessly dares to scale the set-up ramparts and overrun the trenches. She never disturbs sleep-bringing night and the wandering shades with impunity: but rather tainted in her beautiful face,Link to an image of this page  [p253]and with her arrows broken and overcome by fear, she becomes discoloured; and the poisonous spell is broken by lightly struck bronze, and in flight she frees herself from her swift host. Yet sometimes, as she is borne across the sky on her lowly chariot, swollen by the brightness of her arms, and with a full quiver, she may enter the very heart of his camp, and would attack the ever-watchful dragonin the middle of the darkness. He instantly grabs her, and envelops her in his tail's swirling coils, or he assails her with a bite and his three-forked tongue. Then completely defaced by the administered poison she trembles, is pale with fear at the approaching shades, and she is dragged along a darkened course for a moment, until finally, after she has struggled out through the underworld's shadows, she delivers herself back into her brother's view, and by degrees she puts aside her pallor and takes up his fires anew. In this way nature wished to manage the stars within appointed cycles, and that heaven control the darkness with animosity, and that the light disappear and reappear by fixed reason. Moreover she wished that the Sun and Moon never undertook these tasks by chance; nor that they be drawn from the sky or defaced by magic whispers; nor that God betray his anger in it, or seek the aid of struck bronze - these things the deviant credulity of the mob, their vain superstition, and a mind unfamiliar with the truth has fashioned for itself. This holy terror spread among the minds of the Macedonians; and the Gods receive then own whatever anger and future disaster they appease.

55After Gallus explained these things, and revealed to the profane mob the mysteries that would prove it with a sign, so many Roman legions were astounded by this wonder of the universe - now men raised up their heads and wise minds, and now in their minds they reflected upon the celestial rules, and the laws imposed upon the stars, and the divinities tied to their fates. But while a still-disbelieving section of the false mob linger between hope and fear, and they seek out the darkness with great prayers, the golden day rests upon the lower part of the heaven, and black night rows forward with its dark oars. After the Moon has been borne up into the silent world, she approaches the cloudless sky with her face fully exposed; and soon she furrows her brow. Then all the people immediately surround Gallus, who shows them how, with the shadows appearing, Link to an image of this page  [p254]the moon, divested of the beauty of her gloden face, grows dark; until finally, little-by-little, she covers her entire face with dark rouge; and how, after having scarcely passed through the pitch black, she begins to receive again the bright fires from where she first grew pale, and gradually free herself from the darkness entirely. After they had placed aside their fear, and without delay, they affirmed that nature bound the sky with eternal laws, and that heavenly bodies did not move along disordered courses. They lifted up their minds with great hope, prepared themselves for the coming contest, and then eagerly sought out the battle. From that time the Romans were moved to look upon fading stars with no fear, nor to believe that the moon is brought down from the sky by a song, or that bronze wiil draw magic utterances with a clang to aid the moon's fall.



1: King's opening to this book presents a formulaic poetic picture of the Sun's rise that closely matches that of Johannes Pincier, De Sphaera, V.1-2. King also uses a very rare term 'flammivomis' (only used by Martianus Capella and Juvencus in antiquity) here that is also used by Pincier in his supplement to book IV, line 197.

2: This passage is a technical expansion of Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.384-393. King describes the lunar nodes, at which the moon crosses the ecliptic north to south (line 16: 'caudaque Draconis') and south to north (line 16: 'collo...Draconis') and marks eclipse. King's technical description and terminology follows Sacrobosco De Sphaera Mundi chapter IV (page 114 in Thorndike's edition): 'Intersectio...per quam movetur Luna ab austro in aquilonem appellatur caput Draconis...reliqua intersectio per quam movetur [Luna] a septentrione in austrum dicitur cauda Draconis.'

3: Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.296-9. However King is more compact and less diffuse here than Buchanan, and perhaps poetically closer to what is surely the inspiration for both passages: Ovid, Metamorphoses IV.348-9.

4: Cf. Buchanan, De Sphaera, II.106-7.

5: 'livet' in Adam King's manuscript

6: Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.45-7. See Ovid, Metamorphoses VII.207-9 for evidence of the association of this type of activity with eclipses and astronomical manipulation in the ancient world.

7: Buchanan, De Sphaera, II.107. See lines 28-9 above. However, also: Virgil, Aeneid VI.633.

8: Virgil, Aeneid, IV.623

9: This and the previous two lines: Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.230-5.

10: This and the previous two lines: Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.44-7.

11: This and the previous line: Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.40-1.

12: Cf. Buchanan, De Sphaera, I.20.

13: Virgil, Aeneid, I.218

14: Cf. Johannes Pincier, De Sphaera, IV.186; however, King is clearly also following Virgil, Aeneid VIII.369.

15: Statius, Thebaid, I.337

16: Juvenal, Satires, XIV.325; also used by King at d2_KinA_006 line 226.

17: This and the end of previous line: Buchanan, De Sphaera, I.112-3.

18: This and the end of previous line: Buchanan, De Sphaera, I.114-6. See note to line 70-1 for King's reuse of same passage.


a: The Delian is the Sun. The epithet refers to Apollo, the Sun God, who was born on the island of Delos. The epithet thus equates the Sun with Apollo, while also drawing our attention to his origins on Delos and thus his 'rising' - the physical action of which is presently being described.

b: This passage is a technical expansion of Buchanan, De Sphaera, V.384-393. See note to Latin for details.