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On The Heavens   



from the centre and thus nearer to the primary body than they, as

observation has itself revealed. For we have seen the moon, half-full,

pass beneath the planet Mars, which vanished on its shadow side and

came forth by the bright and shining part. Similar accounts of other

stars are given by the Egyptians and Babylonians, whose observations

have been kept for very many years past, and from whom much of our

evidence about particular stars is derived. A second difficulty

which may with equal justice be raised is this. Why is it that the

primary motion includes such a multitude of stars that their whole

array seems to defy counting, while of the other stars each one is

separated off, and in no case do we find two or more attached to the

same motion?

On these questions, I say, it is well that we should seek to

increase our understanding, though we have but little to go upon,

and are placed at so great a distance from the facts in question.

Nevertheless there are certain principles on which if we base our

consideration we shall not find this difficulty by any means

insoluble. We may object that we have been thinking of the stars as

mere bodies, and as units with a serial order indeed but entirely

inanimate; but should rather conceive them as enjoying life and

action. On this view the facts cease to appear surprising. For it is

natural that the best-conditioned of all things should have its good

without action, that which is nearest to it should achieve it by

little and simple action, and that which is farther removed by a

complexity of actions, just as with men's bodies one is in good

condition without exercise at all, another after a short walk, while

another requires running and wrestling and hard training, and there

are yet others who however hard they worked themselves could never

secure this good, but only some substitute for it. To succeed often or

in many things is difficult. For instance, to throw ten thousand

Coan throws with the dice would be impossible, but to throw one or two

is comparatively easy. In action, again, when A has to be done to

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