The Ten Books on Architecture, 9.5.4

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 9.5.3 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 9.6.1 ›››

Gwilt translation

4I have explained the constellations displayed and formed in the heavens by nature with a divine intelligence, according to the system of the philosopher Democritus, confining myself to those whose rising and setting are visible. Some, however, such as the two Bears turning round the pole, never set nor pass under the earth. So also, the constellations about the south pole, which from the obliquity of the heavens is under the earth, are always hidden, and their revolution never brings them above the horizon. Whence the interposition of the earth prevents a knowledge of their forms. The constellation Canopus proves this, which is unknown in these countries, though well known to merchants who have travelled to the extremity of Egypt and other boundaries of the earth.

Morgan translation

4These constellations, whose outlines and shapes in the heavens were designed by Nature and the divine intelligence, I have described according to the view of the natural philosopher Democritus, but only those whose risings and settings we can observe and see with our own eyes. Just as the Bears turn round the pivot of the axis without ever setting or sinking under the earth, there are likewise stars that keep turning round the southern pivot, which on account of the inclination of the firmament lies always under the earth, and, being hidden there, they never rise and emerge above the earth. Consequently, the figures which they form are unknown to us on account of the interposition of the earth. The star Canopus proves this. It is unknown to our vicinity; but we have reports of it from merchants who have been to the most distant part of Egypt, and to regions bordering on the uttermost boundaries of the earth.