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Text #82

Diodorus Siculus. The Library of History. Vol. 1
[Diod. 8.66. Translated by C. H. Oldfather. Harvard University Press. 1935. (12 Vols.)]

In this year Timoleon the Corinthian, who had been chosen by his fellow-citizens to command in Syracuse, made ready for his expedition to Sicily. […]

During this voyage, a peculiar and strange event happened to Timoleon. Heaven came to the support of his venture and foretold his coming fame and the glory of his achievements, for all through the night he was preceded by a torch blazing in the sky up to the moment when the squadron made harbour in Italy. Now Timoleon had heard already in Corinth from the priestesses of Demeter and Persephonê that, while they slept, the goddesses had told them that they would accompany Timoleon on his voyage to their sacred island. He and his companions were, in consequence, delighted, recognizing that the goddesses were in fact giving them their support. He dedicated his best ship to them, calling it “The Sacred Ship of Demeter and Persephonê.”

Text #9129

Pliny. Natural History. Vol. 1
[Plin. Nat. 2. Translated by John Bostock and H. T. Riley. George Bell and Sons. 1900. (6 Vols.) p. 233]


Once hitherto it has happened that a ‘Mane-shaped’ comet changed into a spear; this was in the 108th Olympiac, A.U.C. 408. 1

  1. Pliny’s date, given both as an Olympiad and ab urbe condita, is confused. Some manuscripts give Olympiad 108 (348-5 BC) others Olympiad 109 (344-1 BC, or Olympiad 105 (360-57 BC). The manuscripts read AUC 398 (356 BC in the Varronian scheme), which corresponds to none of the Olympiad dates, and this is generally emended to AUC 408 (346 BC). [nE]

Text #83

Plutarch. Lives. Series: Plutarch's Parallel Lives. Vol. 6
[Plut. Tim. 8. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Cambridge University Press. 1918. (11 Vols.) p. 279]

And now, with seven Corinthian ships, and two from Corcyra, and a tenth which the Leucadians furnished, he (Timoleon) set sail. And at night, after he had entered the open sea and was enjoying a favouring wind, the heavens seemed to burst open on a sudden above his ship, and to pour forth an abundant and conspicuous fire. From this a torch lifted itself on high, like those which the mystics bear, and running along with them on their course, darted down upon precisely that part of Italy towards which the pilots were steering. The soothsayers declared that the apparition bore witness to the dreams of the priestesses, and that the goddesses were taking part in the expedition and showing forth the light from heaven; for Sicily, they said, was sacred to Persephone, since mythology makes it the scene of her rape; and the island was given to her as a wedding present.

Text #9128

Yeomans. Comets
[p. 363]

345-344 BC; Italy. Comet seen in the west. Uncertain event. Source: Barrett (6) P264.

Text #9130

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

The Roman text Natural History, which was written by Pliny the Elder around 77, says, “Once hitherto it has happened that a ‘Mane-shaped’ comet changed into a spear; this was in the 108th Olympiad, A.U.C. 398.” This dating is in error. The 108th Olympiad occurred during the period -347 to -344, while AUC 398 occurred in -355. The most commonly accepted correction is that the AUC should have been 408, thus indicating a year of -345. A. A. Barrett (1978) said this might be confirmation of the comet of -344.

Text #9131

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

One wonders if this describes a comet breaking apart?

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