Text #1684Natural History. Series: Natural History. Vol. 1 .
[Plin. Nat. 2.55. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press. 1938. (10 Vols.) p. 279]
It is certain that when thunder and lightning occur simultaneously, the flash is seen before the thunderclap is heard (this not being surprising, as light travels more swiftly than sound); but that Nature so regulates the stroke of a thunderbolt and the sound of the thunder that they occur together although the sound is caused by the bolt starting, not striking; moreover that the current of air travels faster than the bolt, and that consequently the object always is shaken and feels the blast before it is struck; and that nobody hit has ever seen the lightning or heard the thunder in advance. …
Accordingly it will be a portent of supreme happiness when they come from the first part of the sky and retire to the same part – a sign that history records to have been vouchsafed to the dictator Sulla; but all the others are less fortunate or actually direful, in accordance with the division of the actual firmament where they occur. Some people think it wrong to give or to listen to reports of thunderbolts, except if they are told to a guest or a parent.
The great folly of paying attention to these occurrences was discovered when the Temple of Juno at Rome was struck by a thunderbolt in the consulship of Scaurus, who was afterwards head of the state.