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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 1, 2014

Meteorology I.3 340b6–10: An ambiguous passage

István Baksa
From the journal Rhizomata


Aristotle’s cosmology divides his finite, spherical universe into two main parts: the sublunary and the supralunary world. The former reaches from the middle of the Earth to the sphere of the Moon and is a domain of constant change, as the four sublunary elements, earth, water, air and fire endlessly change into one another. The latter starts with the sphere of the Moon and ends at the edge of the cosmos, that is, with the sphere of the fixed stars. There is only one element in this realm, the one that Aristotle calls the “first element” – an unchangeable, imperishable principle that guarantees the everlasting motion of heavenly bodies.

There is, however, a short passage in the Meteorology which seems to be indicating that the supralunary domain is not entirely uniform and pure. In the article, I argue that we ought to take the phrase μέχρι σελήνης as meaning “up as far as the Moon”, in accordance with the picture that Aristotle sketches about the heavenly realm in De caelo, and not as “down as far as the Moon”, as some of the ancient and modern interpreters have thought.

Online erschienen: 2014-12-1
Erschienen im Druck: 2014-12-1

© De Gruyter 2014