Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
An Irish Astronomical Tract (Author: [unknown])

Caibidil 40

Concerning animate, growing objects, destitute of sensation.

Universa animata insensibilia, etcetera.

Every thing which has life, and which is destitute of sensation, can grow of itself, for we perceive many kinds of trees on which fruit grows of itself in the woods and hills, although the fruit of trees which human hands plant is more carefully and better cultivated than they. No tree in the world can grow except in its own natural place and climate. It is the seed of objects which have vegetable life, and are without sensation, which gives them material creation (?) because God, who made them, desired that they should contain the power of propagation whence would grow for ever in succession their own like corresponding kind; and thus when that seed falls above the earth, it becomes swollen from the wet rain falling upon it.

It is the nature of water to penetrate every body, except an impenetrable one, and the sun having heated that seed, draws its moisture out of it, because it is the nature of the Sun to draw up every moisture, and then there grows from that grain, after its being heated and moistened, the natural growth which was contained in its hidden powers within it, i.e., the germ of a plant like unto the plant from which it originally sprang; and the earth is ever supplying it with moisture in place of the moisture which the sun draws from it, and then a force is generated from those two things called ‘vegetable life’, and veins grow down out of it, the plant called roots, through which it draws to itself the nutriment of the soil. When the sun draws up the aforesaid moisture, it draws with it the hidden force, and from it are created boughs, foliage, blossoms


and fruit, and it continues ever thus growing, until it ceases to grow, and the fruit which is upon it is its seed, and is the germ of a similar plant again.

There are three kinds of growing things i.e., plants: some of them lose their foliage in winter and it comes on them again in summer. The second kind, which does not lose its foliage, either in winter or summer. The third kind dies, except for one thing, in winter, and from that seed a similar one grows in summer. The great master of philosophers, i.e., Aristotle, says that objects with growth and devoid of sensation are of three kinds:—[...]32




Glory to God; whose beginning is without beginning, and whose end is without end, to the Person who existed always before everything, who will be eternal after everything, and to Him whom sense or human reason does not attain, to know or recognise what He is.And since he did not wish to remain for ever without manifesting Himself to men, He instructed the learned in His works and arts, so that the worker would be known from the works and the creator from the deeds, and therefore, it is fitting for the learned ones to whom He revealed His secrets to glorify Him above everything.Therefore, let us here begin to examine the difficult, obscure questions of the ancients concerning the works, and in particular we discuss, with the help of the Creator of whom I speak, the characteristics of the firmament and of the four elements, and of their situation and their creation, with very just, forcible arguments and indisputable, irrefutable reasons and conclusions.There are in this book, inclusive, forty chapters, and this is the first chapter of them:—
  1. The creation and manifestation of the firmament. (1)34
  2. The four elements and their positions as the Creator ordained them.(2)
  3. Their motions and natures. (3)
  4. Their natures and motions. 35
  5. The roundness of the four elements. (5)
  6. The disagreement of the four elements and the nature of them. (6)
  7. The rotundity of the earth and the knowledge of day and night. (7)
  8. The change of the sea and the rivers. (8)
  9. The characteristics of the earth and the hills. (8)
  10. The characteristics of the waters and the motion of the earth. (9)
  11. The two burning volcanoes. (10)
  12. The flow and ebb of the tide. (11)
  13. The flood of the river Nile in Egypt. (12)
  14. The roundness of the firmament; its motion and its natures. (13)
  15. The revolution of the firmament and of the sun. (14)
  16. The change of the firmament. (15)
  17. The circles lines and points of the firmament.(16)
  18. The difference in sunrise and sunset. (17)
  19. The knowledge of the size of the sun. (18)
  20. The light of the moon, which borrows from the sun. (21)
  21. The eclipse of the moon. (22)

  22. p.135

  23. The light of the constellations. (23)
  24. The eclipse of the sun. (24)
  25. The reason why the moon appears small, and large at its prime. (25)
  26. The characteristics of the light of the moon. (26)
  27. The number of circles of the moon.(27)
  28. The two spheres of the sun. (28)
  29. All the circles and their motion. (29)
  30. The motion of the Great Sphere. (30)
  31. The motion of the Sphere of the Signs. (31)
  32. The change of nature and the seasons. (31)
  33. The number of the circles of Saturn and the other planets. (32)
  34. The retrograde movement of Saturn and the other planets. (32)
  35. The Sphere of the Stars. (34)
  36. The number of miles around the earth. (35)
  37. The change of the stars in different countries.36
  38. The eight habitable regions of the earth. (36)
  39. The two places where the whole year is one day and one night. (37)
  40. The winds and their nature. (38)
  41. Thunder, clouds, rain and lightning. (39)
  42. The plants. (40)