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Text #1664

Pliny. Natural History. Series: Natural History. Vol. 1
[Plin. Nat. 2.25. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press. 1967. (10 Vols.) p. 241]

Other similar meteoric lights are ‘beams,’ in Greek dokoi, for example one that appeared when the Spartans were defeated at sea and lost the empire of Greece. (394 BC) There also occurs a yawning of the actual sky, called chasma, (XXVII) and also something that looks like blood, and a fire that falls from it to the earth – the most alarming possible cause of terror to mankind; as happened in the third year of the 107th Olympiad, when King Philip was throwing Greece into disturbance.

Text #1665

Kronk. Cometography: A Catalog of Comets. Series: Cometography. Vol. 1
[p. 511]

-393. Cnidus was an ancient city located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Kos, which is now the southwest corner of Turkey. During -393 a naval battle occurred just off the coast which resulted in the defeat of the Spartans. According to Pliny the Elder, “beams” appeared in the sky upon the defeat of the Spartans. A. G. Pingre (1783) included this among the observations of the comet of -371.

Text #9111

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Pliny’s description could also fit a display of aurora borealis. My own view is that these occurrences take place at fixed dates owing to natural forces, like all other events, and not, as most people think, from the variety of causes invented by the cleverness of human intellects; it is true that they were the harbingers of enormous misfortunes, but I hold that those did not happen because the marvelous occurrences took place but that these took place because the misfortunes were going to occur, only the reason for their occurrence is concealed by their rarity, and consequently is not understood as are the risings and setting of the planets described above and many other phenomena.

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