Site Section Links
KRONOS Vol V, No. 1
VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF PHILOLAOS
LYNN E. ROSE
Copyright 1979 by Lynn E. Rose
Philolaos of Southern Italy was a Pythagorean philosopher, and a contemporary of Socrates and Democritus. Three Southern Italian cities claimed him: Kroton, Metapontum, and Tarentum. Toward the end of the fifth century he taught at Thebes in Greece, and two of his students from Thebes – Simmias and Cebes – appear as characters in Plato's Phaedo.
The views of Philolaos have been preserved only in later accounts by other writers and in a score or so of "fragments" (that is, direct quotations attributed to Philolaos himself). There has been much controversy about the authenticity of the fragments, but that controversy is of little importance here: except for several brief allusions in the fragments, all of our information about the cosmology of Philolaos is from the later accounts in their own words by a number of other ancient writers, of whom perhaps Aetius deserves special mention.
According to the conventional interpretation, the system of Philolaos had Earth in orbit around a Central Fire, with the same face turned at all times toward that Central Fire. Those living on the side of Earth turned away from the Central Fire never see it. The Sun, which is farther out from the Central Fire than is Earth, has a slow orbital motion around the Central Fire that produces the year. The orbital motion of Earth produces daylight and night, because the Sun appears to rise and set as the inhabitants of Earth are turned toward the Sun and then away from the Sun. Each synodic revolution of Earth around the Central Fire constitutes one day.
Earth's revolution around the Central Fire would thus be analogous to the present revolution of the Moon around Earth: the same hemisphere of the orbiting body is always turned toward its primary.
The status of the Central Fire was colorfully expressed: it was "the Tower of Zeus", "the Fortress of Zeus", "the Throne of Zeus", "the Hearth of All", "the House of Zeus", "the Mother of the Gods", and "the Altar and Bond and Measure of Nature". The interpretation of some of these descriptions may be difficult and controversial, but clearly the center was an honored and privileged position. Even the Sun was said to have borrowed part of its light from the Central Fire.
In such a system, whether Earth rotates or not is merely a matter of definition. Since Earth always turns its same face toward the Central Fire, the ancients would consider it not to rotate, although from the modern point of view Earth would have completed one sidereal rotation (that is, one rotation with respect to the stars) during each revolution. But the important point to be noticed here is that day and night are explained in terms of an orbital movement, not in terms of an axial rotation. Similarly, the year is explained in terms of an orbital movement of the Sun around the Central Fire, and the month is explained in terms of an orbital movement of the Moon around the Central Fire. Neither Earth nor the Sun is identified as the center of the orbit of any other body; both Earth and the Sun as well as the Moon, the planets (more of which later), and the fixed stars – are described as being in orbit around the Central Fire. Thus the system of Philolaos is neither heliocentric nor heliostatic, but also is neither geocentric nor geostatic. (Copernicus and Bruno were well aware that the concept of a moving Earth derived from antiquity, and both of them explicitly mention Philolaos; see Copernicus' dedicatory preface to De Revolutionibus, and see Bruno's La Cena de le Ceneri, Dialogue Three.)
An especially mysterious component of the system of Philolaos was the so-called Counter-Earth. According to some sources, the Counter-Earth was a body located between Earth and the Central Fire. Those who live on the side of Earth that is turned outward from the Central Fire would never see the Counter-Earth, for the same reason that they would never see the Central Fire itself. There are conflicting ancient reports about whether the Counter-Earth was a separate body pursuing a separate orbit from that of Earth or whether the Counter-Earth was simply the other half of Earth. (Some of the Pythagoreans even seem to have been geocentrists, with the Central Fire inside our globe; for them, "Earth" and Counter-Earth appear to have been the two hemispheres of a single globe, with the Central Fire at the center of that globe as well as at the center of the cosmos.) It is also unclear, if the Counter-Earth is on an independent orbit, whether it remains between Earth and the Central Fire, in a permanent state of inferior conjunction, or whether it remains on the opposite side of the Central Fire, in a permanent state of superior conjunction. (Placing the Counter-Earth on the other side of the Central Fire would not help to explain why those who live on the side of Earth that is turned outward from the Central Fire do not see the Counter-Earth, since they do not see the Central Fire anyway.) Whichever of these alternative views we select, it is clear that the Counter-Earth was supposed to be closer to the Central Fire than is Earth (except, of course, for those Pythagorean geocentrists mentioned above).
Some of the ancient commentators, such as Aristotle, thought that this system was devised as a means of justifying the Pythagorean emphasis on ten. The Pythagoreans had noted that ten is the sum of the first four integers. They saw one as the number of the point, two the number of the line (because two points determine a straight line), three the number of the plane (because three points not on a straight line determine a plane), and four the number of the solid (because four points not all on the same plane determine a solid). They also knew that the ratio of one to two gives the octave, the ratio of two to three gives the fifth, and the ratio of three to four gives the fourth. Thus the first four integers provide the basic structure of music as well as of the world. Indeed, the Pythagoreans said that all things are numbers. They assigned a sacred role to the tetractys – a triangular arrangement of ten dots or units, such that, beginning from any corner, you encounter one, then two, then three, and then four, adding up to ten. Oaths were taken on this tetractys.
The movements of the heavenly bodies were regarded as a harmony, and these bodies actually made sounds – the "music of the spheres" – as they moved. We are not aware of these sounds because we have always heard them. What we call silence is the music of the spheres; we have never experienced true silence.
The ancient accounts of the system of Philolaos make it clear that there were supposed to be ten bodies circling around the Central Fire: the fixed stars, the five visible planets, the Sun, the Moon, Earth itself, and the Counter-Earth. It is also clear that the system was viewed by the ancient commentators as descriptive of the present arrangement of the planetary system. Whether that was or was not the intention of Philolaos remains to be seen.
The Pythagorean emphasis on ten seems to be related to this belief in ten bodies that move around the Central Fire. But let us not be overhasty in deciding which came first. The usual view, going back at least as far as Aristotle, is that the number of moving bodies in the cosmos – the Sun, the Moon, the five planets, and the sphere of fixed stars – was so temptingly close to ten that every effort was made to find two more such moving bodies. Hence Earth itself was put in motion, making nine, and then the Counter-Earth was invented, making ten. But there are many problems and puzzles about this view, and about the Philolaos system in genera] Let us now examine some of these outstanding problems and puzzles. (The reader may wish to bear in mind that later in the paper I will argue that from a Velikovskian perspective all of these difficulties can be resolved.)
* * *
After the popularization of the doctrine of homocentric spheres at the hands of Eudoxus, Kallippus, and Aristotle, it was rather commonplace to treat a sphere that carried a planet or that carried the Sun or the Moon as the same sort of thing as the sphere of fixed stars. But if we put ourselves into a pre-Eudoxan frame of mind, the analogy between a single body and the sphere of fixed stars is far from obvious. Indeed, we may well question the appropriateness of including at all the sphere of fixed stars as one of the ten moving bodies in the system of Philolaos. (It may be significant that Aristotle is our earliest source for the view that Philolaos counted the sphere of fixed stars as an orbiting body.) These are, after all, radically different sorts of things. Why think of the Sun, the Moon, or a planet as set like a jewel on the equator of an invisible sphere that has Earth as its center? What seems natural for the fixed stars is most unnatural for the Sun, the Moon, or a planet. Why treat a single, ecliptic-oriented source of light that moves irregularly and yet never leaves the zodiac in the same way that we treat a myriad of regularly moving, equatorially-oriented points of light lying in all directions from us?
One answer, of course, is that the Pythagorean preoccupation with ten was ample motivation for including the sphere of fixed stars along with the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, thus raising the total nearer ten. Later, however, we will see that there is perhaps a better way of approaching this sort of question.
A traditional explanation even in ancient times for the introduction of the Counter-Earth went like this. Since an observer at a given location sees more eclipses of the Moon than eclipses of the Sun, it is necessary to postulate the existence of some additional body that can cause eclipses of the Moon. Since the Counter-Earth could be directly between the Sun and the Moon, its shadow could eclipse the Moon. But since the Counter-Earth could never be directly between Earth and the Sun during the daytime, it could not be responsible for an eclipse of the Sun. This sort of explanation presupposes considerable ignorance on the part of Philolaos. There is no reason why reports of travelers could not have made it clear that an eclipse of the Sun may be total at one location on Earth, partial at another location, and not visible at all at another location. Such reports could also have suggested that while from any one point on the surface of Earth one sees more eclipses of the Moon than eclipses of the Sun, the frequency of solar eclipses – visible from somewhere on Earth – is no less than the frequency of lunar eclipses. The only difference is that the zone of visibility is rather small for a solar eclipse, but covers more than half of Earth's surface for a lunar eclipse. Anyone who can see the Moon at all can see a lunar eclipse, but in order to see a solar eclipse, especially a total eclipse, one must be at the right location. Thus there isn't any real need for additional bodies that could cause eclipses of the Moon, and those who suppose that the adherents of the Counter-Earth felt such a need are also supposing that those adherents had no grasp of the real reasons for the different frequencies from any one observation point. Neither supposition is plausible. The ancients typically knew much more than modern writers wish to give them credit for. (As an example of the state of knowledge at the time of the Pythagorean school, we should remember that it seems to have been already determined not only that Earth is a sphere but that Earth's orientation to the Sun divides Earth's surface into five zones by means of four circles; we now call those circles the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles.)
If we were to assume, just for the sake of discussion, that the Counter-Earth theory was somehow derived from a real situation, then we would run into an orbital problem involving Kepler's third law of planetary motion (that the square of the period is proportional to the cube of the semimajor axis). This is more a problem for us than for Philolaos, who may be presumed not to have been worried about Kepler's third law. (Perhaps we should not expect Kepler's third law to fit all orbital situations anyway: barred spiral galaxies seem to stand in clear violation of Kepler's third law!) But if we do assume that the ten moving bodies of the Philolaos system followed Keplerian orbits, then we run into a problem. For if the Counter-Earth was a planet-sized body on an independent but smaller orbit, its having the same period as Earth would be inconsistent with Kepler's third law. If the distance of the Counter-Earth from the center is less than the distance of Earth from the center, then the orbital period of the Counter-Earth should be shorter than the orbital period of Earth. The two bodies could not move around the Central Fire in tandem, with the Counter-Earth pursuing an independent orbit entirely within the orbit of Earth.
Some would interpret the Counter-Earth not as a separate body but as the other half or the other hemisphere of Earth, the one turned always toward the Central Fire. That would solve the Keplerian orbital problem, but if the Counter-Earth is merely the other half of Earth, why should it be counted as if it were another world?
The Counter-Earth is not even needed in order to reach the number ten. For if there is to be a Central Fire, why not simply count it as one of the ten bodies, rather than go to the trouble of manufacturing an imaginary Counter-Earth? The usual supposition is that ten moving bodies are needed, and that the Central Fire does not move and therefore cannot be counted. This supposition seems rather weak. There is no real evidence that Philolaos or the other Pythagoreans needed ten moving bodies anyway. Perhaps the best argument for having ten moving bodies is that they were supposed to "dance" around the Central Fire.
Since it is the diurnal apparent motion of the heavens that is explained by the orbital motion of Earth, clearly the plane of Earth's orbit must be equatorial, inclined by 23½ degrees to the plane of the ecliptic. Yet there is no evidence in any of our ancient sources that Philolaos recognized such an inclination. On the contrary, our sources leave the impression that all orbits are coplanar, and that all of the "dancers" move on the same floor. Earth is thus on the same plane as the Moon, the Sun, and the others. For purposes of discussion, however, let us assume the inclination of 23½ degrees. If the plane of Earth's orbit is fixed in space – and there is no hint otherwise – then precession would have to be explained by a motion of the sphere of fixed stars. The equinoxes and solstices would be determined by the Sun's position with respect to the plane of Earth's orbit. Precession would require a slow turning of the stellar sphere on the pole of the ecliptic. The seven other moving bodies, excluding Earth and presumably the Counter-Earth, would move approximately in the plane of the ecliptic. If we ignore planetary retrogradation for now, their motion would be prograde or right-handed (with the right thumb up and the fingers curled, the thumb points north and the fingers curl in the direction of planetary or stellar movement).
The Philolaos system explains the apparent daily motion of the heavens as due to the orbital motion of Earth around the Central Fire. There is no need whatsoever for the fixed stars to move. If the Pythagoreans had known about the phenomenon of precession, perhaps a very slow movement of the fixed stars would have been used to explain precession. But with the exception of a few people like Lockyer or de Santillana and von Dechend, most uniformitarians are extremely reluctant to say that precession was discovered any earlier than Hipparchus, who lived in the second century before this era.
From a Velikovskian perspective, the ancients would have had greater motivation to study such matters as precession, but shorter intervals within which to do it. Precession is the sort of thing that is not likely to be detected except after long observation of an undisturbed planetary system. The last disturbance was in the early seventh century, and it is unlikely that Pythagoras or his immediate successors, all of whom came relatively soon after that disturbance, would have had time to notice precession. Hipparchus, who lived just over half a millennium after that disturbance, would have had several more centuries of prior observations to draw upon, and it is feasible that he was indeed the first to discover precession. But I would not want to rule out the possibility that some earlier people might have discovered the variety of precession that characterized the arrangement of the solar system during their world age. For example, the Egyptians of the Eighteenth Dynasty might well have had the ability and the several centuries of prior observations that would have enabled them to detect whatever kind of precession obtained at that time. A careful reexamination of the alinements of the Egyptian temples, from a Velikovskian point of view, might settle this question. Nor would I want to rule out absolutely the possibility that the Pythagoreans did know about the precession that we observe today. It is possible in principle, though very unlikely, that one observer, looking in just the right places, could accumulate enough personal observations to detect precession within the course of a lifetime. But it is doubtful that this has ever happened.
Yet if the Pythagoreans did not know about precession, we still face the same unanswered question: Why did Philolaos have the sphere of fixed stars move? The issue is not whether the system of Philolaos allows for a movement of the sphere of fixed stars; it does. The issue, rather, is why Philolaos need have bothered to have a movement of the sphere of fixed stars? Once Earth has a daily orbital movement of the kind that Philolaos proposes, there is no longer any point to having the sphere of fixed stars move. The usual explanation is that the Pythagoreans wanted ten moving bodies. But perhaps there once were ten bodies in the cosmos, and the Pythagorean preoccupation with ten was the result of this fact, rather than being the cause of their search for ten bodies.
It is usually not the case that mathematical gimmickry comes first, and that an inventory of the heavens is taken later. Usually the heavenly body count comes first, and the tissue of mathematical rationalization is developed later. Thus Kepler first considered that there were six bodies orbiting the Sun – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – and then invented his scheme involving the five regular solids to explain why there could be only those six bodies. And in the eighteenth century, when Titius was working on his law and Bode was stealing it, the properties of the known bodies were examined first, and then the artificial mathematical formula now known as "Bode's Law" – was developed in an effort to rationalize what was already known (see C. J. Ransom, "Bode's Law Without Venus," Pensée IVR VIII, page 7).
Very little in the way of human art, custom, religion, or science is based on free invention or imagination. Most of it is patterned after what we see and feel. The planetary gods, more than all other factors put together, have made us the way we are. What is usually called human "creativity" tends to be more mimesis than genesis: we mold and duplicate what we find; we do not bring into being from nothing. Authentic human creativity does occur, but it is much less common than we might like to think.
Did the Pythagoreans emphasize the number ten because at some point there were ten heavenly bodies? Could this too be mimesis rather than genesis? Was it reportage rather than imagination? In spite of all the arguments that the Pythagoreans offer, their preoccupation with ten still seems arbitrary. Some would say that a number system based on ten is natural, because we have ten fingers and ten toes. They suggest that the Pythagoreans simply carried this natural emphasis on ten to extremes, and sought to have ten bodies moving through the cosmos. But a number system based on ten is neither natural nor rational. Human beings may have ten fingers and ten toes, but that has not stopped some of them from using binary systems, sexagesimal systems, and a number of other systems. Thus various societies in Africa and in Australia have used the binary system; the binary system is widely used today in computers (a development that would have pleased Leibniz, who was particularly attracted to the binary system); and various forms of the sexagesimal system were used in the Mesopotamian societies of antiquity. The decimal system has by no means been universal, even though it is today by far the most widely used. The decimal system is not innate or natural, and it is not even intelligent.
What sort of base should we use? If we were to select an intelligent base for a number system, there are two alternative strategies. We might choose a prime (as Lagrange proposed), like seven or eleven or thirteen, so as to minimize the alternative fractional interpretations of a "decimal" expression. (I refer to a string of digits with a point to the right of the units position, regardless of what the base is, and with one or more further digits to the right of the "decimal" point.) Or we might choose a number like twelve (as Buffon proposed), so as to permit finite "decimal" expression of a maximum number of fractions with small denominators, namely, halves, thirds, fourths, sixths, eighths, ninths, and twelfths. By contrast, the base of ten only permits halves, fourths, fifths, eighths, and tenths, and the price of the fifths and tenths is that we must give up the thirds, sixths, ninths, and twelfths. (This duodecimal system would not be entirely new to us; many things are already counted by the dozen and by the gross.)
What all this amounts to is that ten is one of the worst numbers we could use as a base for a numbering system. The triumph of ten can hardly be explained sufficiently by our ten fingers and ten toes. A powerful tradition must have been partial to ten. The Pythagorean arguments about ten, based on music and the tetractys and so on, seem to have been reinforcements of an established position, rather than reasons for an initial stance.
Could it be that the number of celestial bodies was once equal to ten? Could it be that the Central Fire and the Counter-Earth were ever empirical facts, not just inventions of somebody playing number games? That would make a lot more sense than that the Pythagoreans should have converted the number of their fingers and the number of their toes into a cosmic principle!
It is often suggested that Philolaos was greatly influenced by the example of the Moon. The Moon always turns the same face toward Earth as it revolves around Earth, and Philolaos is supposed to have realized that if he allowed Earth to move in this same way around some center, he could explain daylight and night and, generally, the diurnal motion of the heavens, without having to have all the bodies in the heavens complete a diurnal circuit around Earth. But if that was his only purpose, why didn't he simply have Earth rotate on its axis? The answer that is often given is that the concept of axial rotation was somehow beyond the grasp of Philolaos, and that all he could think of was a Moon-like movement of Earth through space. This argument is difficult to accept. For one thing, the concept of rotation of a sphere in situ is not insuperably difficult, as is indicated by the fact that various people did conceive of it. Plato clearly distinguished seven basic types of motion, one of which was rotation in situ. The Sicilian Pythagoreans Hiketas and Ekphantos, both of whom were from Syracuse, spoke explicitly of Earth's rotation in situ. The cosmology of Herakleides of Pontus (more of whom in a moment) featured that same basic device. Greek children did play with tops, and it is difficult to see why Philolaos could not have had Earth rotate in situ, if he had so wished, rather than have it in orbit with the same face toward the center.
Many commentators take it for granted that rotation in situ would have been far better than the orbital movement that Philolaos favors. For if the orbit of Earth is large enough in comparison to the orbit of the Moon, we might expect to see a retrograde movement of the Moon each day, just as today we see retrograde movements of the outer planets. Not only does the Moon not display a diurnal retrograde cycle, it does not even slow down appreciably with respect to the stars in the course of a day. Its speed does vary on a monthly basis, but during the day it moves rather steadily from west to east with respect to the background stars. A Moon that is high in the sky does not move appreciably slower sidereally than does a Moon low on the horizon. The only way to account for this is to hold down the size of Earth's orbit with respect to the Moon's orbit, and a fortiori to hold down the size of Earth itself.
Some have suggested that the entire space within which Earth moves orbitally was not considered to be any larger than what we now know to be the actual size of Earth. This point of view has been repeated ad nauseum, but no one seems to have examined it critically. Such a tiny Earth is simply not plausible.
Let us suppose that a defender of the theory of the Central Fire and the Counter-Earth knew that the distance from the Atlantic to eastern Persia is roughly 5000 miles, and that that span lies roughly at latitude 35 or 40. If no one in those places had seen the Central Fire or the Counter-Earth, that span could not have extended more than half way around the globe at that latitude. But if latitude 35 or 40 is at least 10,000 miles around, then even the roughest approximation would show that the diameter of that circle is about 75 or 80 percent as long as the diameter of Earth itself, and that the diameter of Earth must therefore be at least 4000 miles or so. Such an estimate would be much too small, but it does seem large enough to rule out the suggestion that in the Philolaos system Earth moves within a smaller space than that which we now know to be occupied by Earth itself. The orbit of Earth may be small compared to the orbit of the Moon, but Earth and its orbit are by no means as small as this suggestion would require. (Even if the figure for the distance from the Atlantic to eastern Persia and the figure for the latitude were much less accurate, this sort of argument would still show that a spherical space 7900 miles in diameter couldn't have contained the Central Fire, the orbiting Counter-Earth, and the orbiting Earth.)
If the orbit of Earth is nevertheless quite small in comparison to the orbit of the Moon, and if the Moon and the other orbiting bodies proceed at nearly uniform speeds around their circular orbits, what becomes of planetary retrogradation? By avoiding lunar and solar retrogradation, we seem to have lost any means of providing for the retrograde movements of the five planets. In other words, the system does not help at all when we seek to explain the distinguishing movements of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But if the system does not work, why was it accepted?
There is an ancient tradition that Philolaos put the orbits of Mercury and Venus nearer the Central Fire than was the orbit of the Sun, and left the orbits of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn outside of the Sun. This may be a garbled reflection of Philolaos' use of the "Egyptian" system – more of which in a moment - but if he did indeed place the Sun farther away from us than are Mercury and Venus, how could he preserve the retrogradation of Mercury and Venus, while avoiding any solar retrogradation? There are ways to answer such a question, but all of them are somewhat ad hoc.
Having the planets orbit the Sun while the Sun orbits Earth (in the manner of Tycho Brahe) would save retrogradation. There is no evidence whatsoever that any ancient writer ever favored this Tychonic system for all the planets, but there is another aspect to this entire matter.
Let us pursue these retrogradation problems with the help of Herakleides of Pontus. This fourth-century philosopher, who studied both with the Platonists (possibly including Plato himself) and with the Pythagoreans, is reported to have taught that Earth was at the center of the planetary system, but rotated on its axis from west to east in twenty-four hours, thus producing the diurnal apparent circling of the heavens. Not all of the planets revolved directly around Earth, however: Herakleides let Mercury and Venus revolve around the Sun, while the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon all revolved around Earth. This system has traditionally been called the Egyptian system. Yet there is no proof that this system originated in Egypt; our earliest trace of it is in Herakleides of Pontus. It is even possible that Herakleides derived his knowledge of the Egyptian system from his Pythagorean teachers. Nor should we exclude the possibility that the Egyptian system is related to the system of Philolaos, or at least to the latter in its original form.
This Egyptian system may well have inspired the theory of epicycles that is usually attributed to Apollonius of Perge (the mathematician of the late third century who, ironically, also developed the theory of the conic sections – ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas – that eventually, eighteen centuries later, replaced such circle-dominated devices as epicycles). If Mercury and Venus could revolve around the Sun while the Sun revolved around Earth, it is but one further step to the epicyclic arrangement in which a planet revolves around an empty mathematical point that in turn revolves around Earth. (The mathematics would be the same, whether that point is occupied or empty.) Schiaparelli, the greatest of the historians of science, even argued that the idea of motion around a moving but empty point must have been preceded by the idea of motion around a moving body. In any case, the epicyclic theory is much more likely to have arisen against the background of the Egyptian system than not, and the Egyptian system itself may be related to the original form of the system of Philolaos.
The Egyptian system is quite intriguing. The most puzzling question about it is: Why would anyone ever accept it? Suppose that someone were bold enough to see that putting Mercury and Venus on heliocentric orbits carrying them between us and the Sun and then around the far side of the Sun would solve the retrogradation puzzles posed by those two planets. Surely that same person could also see that putting Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn on heliocentric orbits carrying them around the far side of the Sun and then around to the opposite side of Earth from the Sun would solve the even more severe retrogradation problems posed by those three planets. In other words, the Egyptian system is not likely to have been anyone's definitive position: it is but a step or stage that someone might quickly pass through either on the way to a Tychonic system (with all planets orbiting the Sun and with the Sun orbiting the central Earth) or on the way to an Aristarchian or Copernican system (with Earth as one of the planets orbiting the central Sun). It is most peculiar that anyone clever enough to devise an Egyptian system would be satisfied with it. Why then do the ancients seem to have been so inordinately fond of the Egyptian system?
Whether or not Philolaos used the Egyptian system, we may ask: Why is there not the slightest hint that Philolaos explained or even noticed the retrogradation of the outer planets? It is easy enough to say that he did notice retrogradation, but that the record is lost, or to say that early writers like Philolaos overlooked many such things, anyway. But these approaches may be too easy. Later, we shall see that there is a much better explanation.
The Sun is said to borrow part of its light from the Central Fire. The Sun is also said to borrow light from an aethereal fire, which Aetius describes as "alone" and as the "highest" and as "cone-shaped". How can the Sun be said to borrow the light of the Central Fire? Does the Sun reflect light? Why is it that we today see no high, solitary, and cone-shaped fire in our sky?
For that matter, why should the ancients have spoken of aether at all? The aether was neither Sun nor Moon nor planet nor star, but an area or region of clear, shining brightness above the air. (Some ancient writers spoke of a layer of fire above a layer of air.) Where did this aether go at night? Was the ancient sky bright and shining even at night? Why do we not find any aether in our sky?
* * *
This is a formidable list of problems. The system of Philolaos probably has more apparent defects in it than any other astronomical system that one could cite. But we will see that with a Velikovskian perspective all of these various problems, puzzles, and apparent defects can be dissolved, leaving the system of Philolaos in its original and entirely tenable condition.
* * *
Velikovsky has suggested that, many thousands of years ago but still within human memory, Earth might have been a satellite of Saturn. This would have been before the near-collisions between Saturn and Jupiter, before the explosion of Saturn, before the Deluge, and before the birth of Venus from Jupiter (and long before Philolaos). We would be speaking of a mostly peaceful period, known as the Age of Kronos (Saturn). Velikovsky has also found abundant evidence that Saturn was once a "Sun".
I agree with Greenberg and Sizemore and with Cardona that Saturn was not only a "Sun", but also a "Sun of Night". (Velikovsky, how ever, has never committed himself regarding this last point.)
Let us compose some variations on the system of Philolaos. Let us suppose that the Central Fire around which Earth revolved was Saturn, and that the inhabitants of "Earth" who passed the story down to us lived on the side of the planet that always faced Saturn. The Counter-Earth could have been the hemisphere of the planet that was always turned away from Saturn.
The Pythagorean notion that the "spheres" emitted "music" may have been based on sounds that seemed to come from Saturn. Whether these sounds came all the way from Saturn, or originated in the area between Earth and Saturn, they would still come from the direction of Saturn. (Velikovsky has suggested that charged planets or "spheres" could have emitted sounds during near-collisions. These two explanations of the "music of the spheres" are not inconsistent, and could both be true.)
For purposes of discussion, let us assume that Earth was in orbit around Saturn; that Saturn was in orbit around the Sun; that Earth's axis of rotation (in the modern sense) was perpendicular to its plane of revolution around Saturn (as in the Philolaos model anyway); that Earth's period of revolution and period of rotation were equal; that its revolution and its rotation were either both right-handed, in the sense explained earlier, or both left-handed (probably both were lefthanded, so that the Sun and other such bodies rose in the west and set in the east); that Earth's plane of revolution around Saturn coincided with Saturn's equatorial plane; that Earth's plane of revolution around Saturn was not greatly inclined to the plane of revolution of Saturn around the Sun (that is, that the inclination of the two planes was much smaller than the present obliquity of 23½ degrees); that this was the "Earth without a Moon" that Bruno, Paterson, and Velikovsky have described (see Velikovsky Reconsidered, Part II); that Saturn was indeed a low level "Sun", giving off light of its own; and, finally, that Saturn's own light, combined with the light that Saturn reflected from the Sun, was sufficient to obliterate the light of the fixed stars, even though Saturn was not nearly as bright as the Sun.
If any of these conditions did not obtain, then of course some of the remarks that follow would have to be modified. It will be helpful, however, to focus the discussion on what seems to be the most likely state of affairs.
Earlier I objected to efforts to explain the orbiting Earth of Philolaos on the basis of the example of the Moon. But now, in a different way, the example of the Moon may prove instructive: the lunar day - for the part of the Moon that lies near longitude zero – is such that at noon the phase of Earth is new and there is little light coming from Earth. But at midnight the phase of Earth is full and Earth provides much reflected light. On Earth, we sometimes have Moonlight and sometimes not, but on the Moon there is Earthlight every night, at least for the part of the Moon that faces us.
We are now supposing that the Central Fire was Saturn, that Earth was in orbit around Saturn and always kept the same face toward Saturn, and that Saturn (with Earth) revolved around the Sun in one "year". Day and night would be solar phenomena, but caused by the revolution of Earth around Saturn. Even at night Saturn would provide illumination to the part of Earth that always faced Saturn. If all orbits were nearly co-planar; Saturn would be full at midnight and would be new at noon, for those observers situated near the meridian that lay directly under Saturn. The role of Saturn as a night "Sun" would be very conspicuous. (If Saturn was entitled to be called a "Sun", then of course the satellites of Saturn would be entitled to be called "planets". Even what we now call the Moon, if it was then in orbit around Saturn, would have been a "planet" of the Sun of Night.)
Historians of philosophy are fond of referring to the "dark sayings" of Heraclitus. If Heraclitus was at times reflecting back to conditions during the Age of Kronos, perhaps we are now in a position to understand some of his mysterious remarks. The Central Fire is always at the same location in the sky (as viewed from one spot); this may be why Heraclitus asks, "How can anyone hide from that which never sets?" Since Saturn is a second "Sun" whose phase is new at solar noon (for those near the meridian directly under Saturn), Heraclitus may even be referring to the phase of Saturn when he says, "The Sun is new each day".(This is by no means definite, but it is a reasonable alternative interpretation.) Saturn was not only a luminous body, but one that displayed regular phases of solar illumination. Saturn by itself was like a glowing ember; at night, and with solar illumination, it would seem to blaze up. (It could have been the prototype of the later cloud by day, fire by night.) Perhaps Heraclitus is referring to Saturn when he speaks of "an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures" and when he says that "it advances and retires". Aëtius associates such talk with a Pythagorean view of the Moon's phases. Obviously, once the phases of Saturn were no longer seen, these accounts were transferred to the Moon - where they no longer fit, since the Moon is a non-luminous reflector, rather than "an ever-living fire".
Even some of the Philolaos fragments, although their authenticity has been questioned, make more sense now. Philolaos (or someone) says that "the One, which is in the center of the sphere, is called Hearth" and that "the One is the beginning of everything". We are also told that "it is ruler and teacher of all things; it is God, One ever-existing, stable, unmoving, itself like to itself, different from the rest", and that it "remains One for ever in the same position and condition". When it is said that "The Dyad is the Bride of Kronos", this could refer to the intimate relationship between Kronos and our dual-natured planet, divided into "Earth" and Counter-Earth. (It should be emphasized that nothing said in this paper presumes the authenticity of the Philolaos fragments – that is, the alleged direct quotations from Philolaos. I have taken no stand on the question of whether they are authentic.)
Just as the Philolaos fragments describe the Central Fire as a divine "ruler and teacher" and as "stable" and "unmoving", so Plato in the Statesman says that during the Age of Kronos the god was present at the helm of the universe and was in personal charge of the turning of the heavens: according to Plato, Kronos was a god, a shepherd, and a king all in one, and became the model for later human monarchs. "God superintended the whole revolution of the universe." "Under him there were no forms of govemment." "God himself was their shepherd, and ruled over them." Plato even tells us that "the earth gave them fruits in abundance" and that "the temperature of their seasons was mild". After the Age of Kronos came to an end and "the pilot of the universe let the helm go, and retired", the heavens, left on their own, turned in the opposite direction. Since the fixed stars were invisible and the change of direction could not have been referred to the background of constellations, I assume that Plato's report means that, before the god left, the heavenly bodies other than Saturn rose in the west and set in the east. Indeed, Plato explicitly associates the reign of Kronos with a time when "the Sun and the stars [the Greek term covers Sun, Moon, and planets, as well as fixed stars] once set where they now rise, and rose in the opposite place", although he also associates the reversal of this motion with the time of Atreus and Thyestes, which would raise problems. In order for these bodies to rise in the west and set in the east, both the rotation and the revolution of Earth would have to have been left-handed. But then the god retired, and the revolution was reversed; human beings "had to order their course of life for themselves, and were their own masters". By comparing "the kingship of to-day and the rule of Kronos", Plato can then elucidate the nature of "the royal or political art" and the "king and statesman of the present cycle". He notes that "the divine shepherd" is higher than the kings or statesmen "who now exist here", and that "all others are rivals of the true shepherd". What is of greatest importance for our present purposes, however, aside from Plato's comparison of Kronos and later human rulers, is that Plato's account of the presence of Kronos "at the helm" during the Age of Kronos is in good accord with our efforts to recover the original character of the system of Philolaos.
* * *
There was an ample supply of bodies that could have been counted and could have totaled ten: "Earth", the Counter-Earth (for the other hemisphere of Earth was virtually another world, so different were conditions there), Saturn, perhaps the Moon (though not yet an Earth satellite), perhaps Mercury or Mars, perhaps Titan (the one large satellite of Saturn yet today), and perhaps even Uranus or Neptune, depending upon where they were located at the time. Also, the Sun and Jupiter were presumably visible. All this is extremely speculative, but the main point I want to make is that it is very easy to imagine that there were ten bodies visible at that time. More than enough candidates are available. I just named ten bodies that still exist independently (taking "Earth" and Counter-Earth as one). Other once-independent bodies that we no longer see, or no longer see in the same way, include: lunar-sized bodies that are now moons of larger planets; bodies that were either completely expelled from the solar system or else thrown onto such long orbits that they have not recently been seen; bodies that were demolished in head-on collisions; and bodies that crashed onto larger planets. Thus the problem is not (as it would be today) one of finding ten naked-eye bodies, but rather one of determining which ten were involved. This surplus is a good thing anyway, since the Sun of Night would permit us to see only the nearer and/or larger of such bodies.
It should be noted that the larger satellites of Jupiter and Saturn have appreciable angular diameters as seen from the surfaces of their primaries. One of these satellites – Jupiter's Io – has a larger angular diameter than does the Moon as seen from Earth. The four largest satellites of Jupiter have angular diameters ranging from about eight and one-half to about thirty-two and one-third minutes of arc, and the six largest satellites of Saturn have angular diameters ranging from about eleven to about seventeen minutes of arc. If Earth once was one of the closer satellites of Saturn, there might easily have been, say, four or five other Saturnian satellites large enough and/or near enough to be seen, even in a perpetually "sunny" sky. (One of these satellites was probably the Moon, since it would have been easier for Earth to capture the Moon while both were still within Saturn's sphere of influence than to do so later, when both were, say, on solar orbits.) These four or five Saturnian satellites, plus "Earth" and Counter-Earth, Saturn itself, the Sun, and one or two larger members of the Sun's family – probably Jupiter and perhaps Uranus or Neptune – would bring the total up to the magic number of ten.
The satellites of a body like Saturn have to remain relatively close to their primary, else they will be captured by the Sun. Even if Saturn was several times as massive as it is today, it would be able to keep control of its satellites only out to a small fraction of the distance to the Sun. Thus those satellites might have had relatively large angular diameters, large enough to have been observed from Earth, even in a "sunny" sky.
Aristotle says that the Pythagoreans were not trying to find theories that would fit the phenomena, but were tampering with the phenomena so as to make the phenomena fit their own theories. That may be exactly the way many investigations, including some by the Pythagoreans and many by Aristotle himself, were actually conducted, but is that what happened here? The truth may be just the opposite of how Aristotle described it: that is, the ten cosmic bodies may have been an empirical fact, and all the later theories about ten may have been based on that fact.
We have supposedly been composing variations on a theme of Philolaos, but if there is truth in these variations, it will emerge that Philolaos or someone else was composing variations on an older theme, and that what we know as the system of Philolaos is a garbled and misapplied version of or variation on what was once fact. The garbling is the inevitable result of efforts to apply the original system to the present cosmos, where Earth is not a satellite of Saturn. The natural division of our planet into "Earth" and Counter-Earth is today neither natural nor tenable, since all longitudes of Earth are exposed to much the same sort of view of the heavens. There is no longer a huge body poised permanently at the same point in the sky, since Earth no longer keeps the same face turned toward its primary. And one does have to depart considerably from the observable realities if one hopes to name ten moving bodies that are part of the present cosmos.
Nor is this the only time when efforts to apply old wisdom to current circumstances have produced a garbled account. Nearly all of the ancient mythology that told of the activities of the planetary deities was badly garbled by those later interpreters who insisted upon reading everything as pertaining to the Sun. In some books on mythology, virtually every ancient myth becomes a solar myth, although Velikovsky has now made it clear that these myths are primarily planetary in origin. The Sun is strictly a second class power when near collisions of planets occur; indeed, the planets are seen as diverting the Sun from its former path, in addition to all the other havoc they wreak. The planets are the actors in these dramas; the Sun is passive.
It is obvious that there was a similar garbling in the case of Saturn. The traditions about an immovable Saturn atop some special pole made little sense after the Age of Kronos had come to an end. Those traditions were later revised and were attributed to the only "immovable" point (assuming that precession was not taken into account) that could be found in the newer sky. To people in the northern hemisphere (which seems to have provided most of our myths, simply because it has more land and less water than the southern hemisphere), this was the north celestial pole, although de Santillana and von Dechend propose the pole of the ecliptic as well, The Saturn myths no more pertain to the north than do the Venus and Mars myths pertain to the Sun.
Velikovsky suggests that the Pythagoreans especially, but other secret societies as well, may have had access to ancient knowledge and lore. These were the "mysteries" to which their members were initiated. Such societies may thus have preserved remembrances of older cosmoi, older planetary systems. Philolaos is said to have been the first Pythagorean to publish a book. As a result, the cosmological or planetary system that we have been examining is sometimes regarded as his invention. But it may be that he was merely revealing some of the secret traditions that earlier generations of Pythagoreans had so jealously guarded. Perhaps the attitudes of the Pythagoreans about secrecy had changed. In any case, there is no record that Philolaos was ever criticized by his colleagues for publishing Pythagorean doctrines. This is in marked contrast to the story of Hippasos, who was taken for a ride – one way, in a boat – by his fellow Pythagoreans, because he had spoken of their doctrines outside the school; in particular, he had revealed the incommensurability of the diagonal of the square with the side, a matter that seems to have been viewed within the school as something of a scandal and an embarrassment: since every line was supposed to consist of an integral number of points, the diagonal and the side had to be regarded as standing in an "irrational" ratio. But Hippasos was one of the early Pythagoreans. Perhaps his execution for revealing secrets was due to the strict code of secrecy followed by the original school of Pythagoreans at Kroton. After the people of Kroton rebelled, killing all but two of the Pythagoreans who were in residence at the time, the school never fully recovered. By the time Philolaos was active, a number of decades later, the code may no longer have applied, so that Philolaos was free to publish as he wished.
This may explain the ancient confusion about whether the system that we are examining is that of the Pythagoreans in general or of Philoloas in particular. If he published an older doctrine, then his name would come to be closely associated with it simply because he was the one who first presented it openly to the world. But it need not have been his own invention. It is even possible that what he published was not the system as we have it, but rather an accurate description of the arrangement of the cosmos during the Age of Kronos. That account could easily have been interpreted along uniformitarian lines, that is, it could have been forced to fit the present cosmos. Our earliest source for the cosmology of Philolaos is Aristotle, an arch-uniformitarian and a highly unsympathetic reader and reporter of earlier views. He had no interest in fair treatment of his predecessors and usually wrote what he thought they would have said if only they had known how to express themselves. He wrote many decades after the work of Philolaos. We do not know when Philolaos died, but it is possible that he died even before Aristotle was born. There was plenty of time for garbling, plenty of time for converting a system that was not even intended to be a description of the present state of affairs into a tortured account of the present cosmos.
But we cannot be sure, so little is known about who did what. The main possibilities are: (1) that Philolaos published an accurate account of the Age of Kronos that had been preserved for generations by earlier peoples, of whom the Pythagoreans were simply the latest, and that this publication was then distorted by others, such as Aristotle, before it was reported to us; (2) that Philolaos himself garbled the doctrine, in order to make it fit the present cosmos, even though the Pythagoreans had been preserving the correct account; and (3) that Philolaos simply published the already garbled account that had been known among the Pythagoreans. If (3) is the case, then we could distinguish two further situations: (3a) that the garbling was done by the earlier Pythagoreans; and (3b) that the garbling was done by someone still earlier, before the Pythagoreans came along. Since I have much admiration for Philolaos, and little admiration for Aristotle, my own preference is for alternative (1), even though I cannot eliminate any of the other alternatives. Preferences aside, (3b) appears to be the most likely of these scenarios. But perhaps it doesn't really matter which alternative is true, just as long as there was an old tradition about the Age of Kronos and just as long as someone at some point garbled that account into what has come down to us as the system of Philolaos.
Velikovsky has called attention to traditions that the Age of Kronos was a time of perpetual spring and that there was little or no rain at that epoch. He has also found various kinds of evidence that in early times there was weight reduction and that this condition led to certain forms of giantism. He suggests that this weight reduction was the result of a change in Earth's electrical charge. Under such conditions, various objects on Earth's surface – such as people, animals, and monoliths – would have weighed less than they would weigh today.
With a "night Sun" (Saturn) as well as a day Sun, the side of our planet that faced Saturn ("Earth", as opposed to Counter-Earth) would have had little or no cloud cover, and little or no rain. The Counter-Earth, by contrast, would have no second "Sun" overhead day and night to burn off the cloud cover; so the Counter-Earth would presumably have both clouds and rain. It is significant that the "edge" of "Earth" was traditionally a place of "mist", as well as of darkness.
I have suggested that Earth's axis of rotation (in the modern sense) was virtually perpendicular to Earth's plane of revolution around Saturn; in other words, that Earth's orbit was equatorial in the sense that Saturn was always over Earth's equator. I have also suggested that the inclination of Earth's orbital plane around Saturn to Saturn's orbital plane around the Sun was fairly low. Thus neither the north-south direction of Saturn nor the north-south direction of the Sun would be variable enough to produce a variation of seasons. If the orbits of Earth and of Saturn were sufficiently eccentric, then the changing distances of Earth from Saturn and of Saturn and Earth from the Sun would have some effect, but, with two orbits involved and with two Suns involved, the combination of these factors would most likely result in something of a blur, still with no particular seasonal variations. Besides, the ancient emphasis on the immobility of Saturn, with no side-to-side shifting, suggests that the eccentricity of Earth's orbit was negligible, anyway: Saturn would thus smooth out the seasons, even if the Sun did not. (The four Galilean moons of Jupiter also have negligible eccentricities.)
It should be noted that the "year" would not have been as conspicuous a cycle as is the present year. If the constellations were invisible, no annual movement through the constellations would be involved. With no significant seasonal changes, perhaps the only criteria of the passing of the "year" would be the changing altitude and the changing distance (or angular size) of the Sun. Even those two cycles were probably not in phase with each other.
The proximity of Saturn to Earth would have caused a considerable weight reduction,most noticeably at the sub-Saturnian point. (This would be in addition to, or supplementary to, the electrical phenomenon proposed by Velikovsky.) Depending upon the mass and distance of Saturn, it is possible that people, animals, rocks, and so on, at or near the sub-Saturnian point, would have had only a fraction of their comparable weight today. (Just for illustration, let us consider some rather extreme circumstances: if Saturn was four hundred times as massive as Earth, and if the centers of Saturn and Earth were separated by only twenty-one Earth-radii, then people and objects at the sub-Saturnian point were virtually weightless!) Any significant weight reduction would have had dramatic ramifications: we might expect organisms of greater size in both the plant and animal kingdoms (including humans); megalithic projects would be much easier to execute; and, without all that weight to carry around, people and animals might even have lived longer.
* * *
There is a certain sloppiness about the way the words "eclipse" and "occultation" are used by astronomers and others. When the Moon blocks off the light of a star or of a planet, that is called an "occultation". But when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, and either partially or totally blocks off the light of the Sun, that is called an "eclipse of the Sun. When one member of an "eclipsing" binary star system either partially or totally blocks off the light of the other member, that too is called an "eclipse". It is a completely different sort of phenomenon when Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, and Earth's shadow (umbral or penumbral) falls upon the Moon; yet this also is called an "eclipse", of the Moon. Thus some eclipses are shadings and others are blockings! Also, some blockings are eclipses and others are occultations! The only point of consistency here is that all occultations are blockings.
What we need is a reassessment of the entire eclipse and occultation situation, no less radical than Bruno's investigation of a variety of situations involving luminous and opaque bodies of different sizes and their possible interrelationships. See La Cena de le Ceneri, Dialogue Three.
Let us stipulate that an "occultation" is when one body partially or totally blocks our view of another body, and that an "eclipse" is when the shadow of one body (not necessarily Earth) falls upon and shades another body. This will give our language both consistency and flexibility. If the Moon, or Saturn, or any other body moves between Earth and some other body, such as the Sun, or a planet, or a star, and blocks our view of that body, we can call that an "occultation". And if the shadow of Earth, or of Saturn, or of any other body falls on the Moon, or on Saturn, or on any other body, we can call that an "eclipse". (This distinction would still be relative to the place of observation: with the Moon directly between Earth and the Sun, an observer on Earth would see an occultation of the Sun, but an observer on the Moon would see an eclipse of Earth.)
If Earth were in a fairly close orbit around Saturn, there would be a considerable variety of eclipse and occultation phenomena. Such phenomena would also be much more frequent and much more dramatic than any comparable phenomena observed today. (The "eclipse zones" would be enormous, compared to those of today.)
The great angular size of Saturn would enable it to occult the Sun relatively easily, especially if the orbital plane of Earth around Saturn were not excessively inclined to the orbital plane of Saturn around the Sun. Any such occultation would occur at noon, for those situated near the meridian that lay directly under Saturn. If the inclination were low enough, there would be such an occultation every day at noon. (We do not know the amount of the inclination, but it does seem to have been fairly low.) At noon the phase of Saturn would be new: it would not reflect any light from the Sun, but it would of course still emit its own light.
Saturn could also occult other bodies than the Sun, such as planets or moons. These occultations, unlike the noon-time occultations of the Sun, could occur at any time of day or night. The large angular size of Saturn would have facilitated such occultations, since Saturn would have cut off a quite significant portion of Sky.
The Moon could occult other bodies (if it was near enough to be conspicuous), and so, in principle, could the planets: the angular sizes of some of the planets could well have been large enough to enable them to occult other bodies on occasion. These occultations, too, could occur at any time of day or night. (Daytime occultations might require greater proximity in order to be visible.)
At the distance of Saturn from Earth, the umbra of Earth's shadow would be much smaller than the disc of Saturn. The umbra could be seen crossing the disc of Saturn from side to side. Surrounding the umbra would be the penumbra of Earth's shadow, but even the penumbra would be much smaller than the disc of Saturn. The entire shadow would look something like an "eye" crossing the face of Saturn, with an umbral pupil surrounded by a lighter penumbral iris. (This could have been the origin of the [*!* Image] symbol for Saturn, later used for the Sun; the dot would be the "eye" and the circle would be the face of Saturn.) Such an eclipse of Saturn would occur at no other time but midnight, when the face of Saturn was always full. Indeed, if the inclination of Earth's orbital plane to Saturn's orbital plane was low enough, there would have been an eclipse of Saturn every midnight, as well as an occultation of the Sun by Saturn every noon. (This would facilitate accurate timekeeping.) As before, "noon" and "midnight" refer to the meridian that lay directly under Saturn.
The shadow of Earth could also fall on other bodies besides Saturn, such as the Moon (if it was then in a Saturnian orbit) or even other planets. Such eclipses could occur at any time of day or night, but they could be witnessed only at night. During the day one could not witness Earth's shadow falling on anything.
Eclipses and occultations would thus have been frequent and familiar. Some commonplace things, known to be dangerous or harmful, are indeed feared. But most of our fear is of the unfamiliar and unusual. There is no reason to suppose that all these varieties of eclipses and occultations would have inspired fear. Animals and people view sunrise and sunset calmly. Drastic and dramatic as sunrises and sunsets may be, they are also routine and undisturbing; so were eclipses and occultations. (Only one such phenomenon, a rare and special kind of occultation, would have caused terror; more of this a little later.)
If Saturn gave off sufficient light, it too might cast shadows, particularly at night. Whether that light would have been strong enough to permit a second body noticeably to eclipse or shade a third body from that light is not clear. But it does seem likely that the light of Saturn could have been strong enough that only the brightest of the fixed stars, if even those, could have been seen. Indeed, our working assumption, as already indicated, is that none of the fixed stars was perceptible from the side of Earth facing Saturn. (If this assumption turns out to be false, then some of the remarks that follow will of course have to be revised.)
Since conditions on the Counter-Earth, the side of Earth turned away from Saturn, were so vastly different, with true cosmic silence and truly dark night skies, and since the Counter-Earth seems to have been viewed as an undesirable place either to live or to visit (thus Virgil in the Georgics reflects concern that the opposite part of the world might experience perpetual darkness, silence, and night), we may assume that few people, if any, on the side of Earth facing Saturn had ever experienced the sight of the fixed stars.
Centuries or even millennia of the Age of Kronos could have passed, with no sight of the fixed stars. If there were uniformitarians among those ancient observers, they would have argued that memories of uncountable twinkling objects in all directions in the sky were but myths and legends, and that their ancestors could not have seen any phenomena that they themselves were unable to detect!
But even the generally peaceful Age of Kronos had to come to an end. Zeus was to overthrow the old cosmos and establish a new cosmos of his own. Whatever the details of that struggle, it was inevitable that various bodies would have left their accustomed haunts, and followed new courses. Let us focus on a lesser event, not a major catastrophe at all, but very traumatic. This sort of event might not even have occurred only at the end of the Age of Kronos. Indeed, it is possible that such events occurred at rare intervals during the Age of Kronos, without bringing about a new world age.
Even though we have supposed that Earth was fairly near Saturn, it is still possible that some third body (perhaps no larger than, say, the Moon) could pass between them. Such a body could produce a complete occultation of Saturn for at least some observers on the side of Earth facing Saturn. If such an occultation occurred at night, it would give those observers their first look at a dark sky, their first look at a starry sky, and perhaps their first experience of a silent sky (assuming that the sounds from the direction of Saturn were impeded).
In that ominous silence they would find themselves surrounded by uncountable points of light. Those lights would seem near. Suddenly, the night would have a thousand eyes, nay, far more. Those lights would be silent, panoramic, pervasive, proximate, surprising, and threatening. Even their twinkling was enough of an activity to be perceived as a menace and a threat. They would seem to have been Iying in ambush for us throughout history, unseen, yet just over our heads, as if close enough to touch.
In this connection, it should be noted that Anaximander in the sixth century thought that the fixed stars were closer than the Moon and the Sun. It is usually supposed that Anaximander was just not much of an observer, and was unaware of the fact that the Moon occults fixed stars. But it may be that his viewpoint is a relic of much earlier times, when, except for those brief and rare occasions when Saturn was occulted by some third body passing between Earth and Saturn, the fixed stars were not visible at all and were therefore not studied; that is, even when the fixed stars were briefly visible, no one had time to see them being occulted, and thus could not infer that they were farther away. Indeed, they are more likely to have been viewed as the nearest of celestial objects, just as Anaximander suggests.
When the fixed stars were gone again, and when the celestial music had resumed, such experiences would be remembered, perhaps consciously for a time, and eventually only unconsciously. A deep impression would have been made on the human psyche. Even in our own time there are writers of "science-fiction" who not only describe the age-retarding effects of low-gravity environments, but also describe situations in which there are at most a handful of stars, and still other situations in which multiple-Sunned civilizations never see the fixed stars or experience true Nightfall except at long intervals, and are then terrified at the sight of the surrounding stellar host. The greatest feat of imagination by such writers of "fiction" is their imagining themselves imaginative. (It was of such "creative writing" as this that I was thinking when I said that much of what is called "creativity" is mere mimesis of the past. It is not creation, but recreation.)
The line from the center of Earth to the center of Saturn would have been the only major "pole" or "axis", and would have been used as the basis for all other coordinates. That line might even have been physically prominent, rather than just an imaginary geometrical line. It may be that various entities or phenomena (their possible natures are numerous) were strung out from Saturn toward Earth and/or from Earth toward Saturn, perhaps even joining to form a sort of trunk, with Saturn itself as an arboreal canopy or umbrella overhead. (This "Tower of Zeus" – Tower of Kronos? – might be compared to the recently discovered "flux tube" joining Jupiter and Io.) Distant observers – such as wise men to the east? – would have seen Saturn as cone-shaped, with the cone pointing down to a special spot on Earth's surface. This situation could have inspired everything from "Hamlet's mill" to the story of the giant at the top of Jack's beanstalk (even the giant's golden egg and his golden harp that played by itself have Saturnian associations).
Since the fixed stars remained invisible in the light of the night "Sun", or Saturn, there would have been little or no emphasis on the celestial north pole, or even on the terrestrial north pole. The ancients would not have thought in terms of a pole of rotation, anyway. Since Earth kept the same face turned toward the center of its orbit (that is, Saturn), it would be said not to rotate at all. The modern concept of sidereal rotation was not involved. How could it be, if no sidereal objects, or stars, were visible? Weather and climate would call attention to latitudinal differences, but there was no north star, no aurora borealis (at least none comparable to the aurora saturnalis), and no particular reason to look to the north. (I don't know where the magnetic poles of Earth were, but magnetic factors in the north would have paled beside the aurora saturnalis.)
The pole from the center of Earth to the center of Saturn would have been of great importance, serving among other things as a "Measure of Nature" and to define a center or navel on the surface of Earth, and thereby to provide a point of origin for the four cardinal directions. This was a natural and rather obvious mechanism for dividing the hemisphere of Earth that always faced Saturn into eastern and western halves. The equator, which passed through the navel or sub-Saturnian point, served to divide that same hemisphere into northern and southern halves. The sub-Saturnian point was a natural point of demarcation, not an arbitrary and artificial and ethnocentric one like the meridian of Greenwich. Thus there really were four "quarters" of "Earth" (where "Earth" is understood as the hemisphere facing Saturn). This explains why the symbol [*!* Image] was used for Earth: the horizontal line is the equator and the vertical line is the meridian of the navel or sub-Saturnian point. Each of the four lines emanating from the navel continued until it reached the Saturnian terminator that marked the boundary between "Earth" and Counter Earth. Thus there really were four "ends" or "corners" of the hemisphere that was called "Earth".
Velikovsky suggests in Worlds in Collision that the pole of rotation (in the modern sense) was once near the southern end of the Davis Strait, to the west of the southern tip of Greenland. Elsewhere, he identifies Aden as Eden, but he does not relate this to the position of the pole. I would point out that these two locations are separated by about ninety degrees. Thus it may be that the sub-Saturnian point was in Aden and that the north pole was at that same time near the southern end of the Davis Strait. The meridian involved would pass through or quite near some very intriguing ancient sites: Eden, Mecca, Sinai, Gizeh, Alexandria, Knossos, Delphi, Dodona, and even Stonehenge. If the Hyperboreans mentioned by the Greeks really were connected with the Stonehenge site, then calling them Hyperboreans or "northerners" would make much more sense, since during the Age of Kronos the Stonehenge site would have been almost straight north from Delphi and Dodona (rather than, as today, more west than north) .
In all of these cases we are mainly concerned with the sites, and not necessarily with any edifices later built there. But I would not want to exclude the possibility that some structures that are today still in existence were once alined on this meridian. Stonehenge has never been properly excavated, and no one knows how the oldest part of the structure was alined. (For that matter, no one knows how old Stonehenge is, anyway: Herbert's conclusion back in the 1840's that Stonehenge was a post-Roman Cyclops Christianus has never been refuted.) Another candidate is the Great Pyramid at Gizeh, whose northwest-to-southeast diagonal lies on this same meridian. One could always dismiss such an alinement as fortuitous, but how do we know that it is not the present north-south alinement of the sides of the Great Pyramid that is fortuitous?
Other sites could readily be added to the above list. But the geographical course of that meridian cannot be traced with precision, since the surface of Earth is likely to have undergone considerable stress during the cataclysms that occurred between the Age of Kronos and today.
Indeed, the very shape of Earth may have changed rather radically. It could have happened that the sub-Saturnian area of Earth (I refer to an area of a million or more square miles, with the sub-Saturnian point at its center) was elevated into the summit of a veritable "world mountain" as a result of the constant pull of Saturn. (The area of the Moon that faces us seems to be very slightly elevated because of the constant pull of Earth. The pull of a Saturn-sized body – Saturn was larger then – on Earth would presumably have been much greater, especially if the distance between Earth and Saturn was not too great.)
This sort of tidal distortion would have had an even greater effect on the atmosphere than on the lithosphere. I would not exclude the possibility that Earth's atmosphere was so stretched out toward Saturn that the atmospheres of Earth and Saturn were virtually continuous. This suggests that the celestial "music of the spheres" could have travelled atmospherically all the way from Saturn to Earth. In that case "the Hearth of All" really was a crackling hearth. Thin or not, and stretched or not, the medium could have been air, and the sound could have been of the ordinary air-borne sort; there is no need to look for anything esoteric.
Efforts to reach the four corners of the world would have been perilous. North lay an icecap. South lay six thousand miles of empty Indian Ocean and then another icecap. West lay the South Atlantic. East of Eden lay much land and then the Pacific. At these locations, far from the sub-Saturnian point, Earth and Saturn were no longer pulling against each other. Their combined pull involved a noticeable "tilt" from the vertical. People would feel heavier and would be concerned about an imminent fall, as if off the "world mountain". Also, since "Earth" and Counter-Earth were distinct, there would have been an understandable fear of falling off at the "end" or "edge" of "Earth".
As a traveler left the sub-Saturnian point, atmospheric refraction would cause Saturn to swell and redden. (To this day, red is a signal of warning.) Saturn's lighting and warming effect would diminish; even its shape would change, as its lower edge became still more severely refracted. The oracular music would gradually fade, with more air to traverse.
The increased size of Saturn seems to have been reflected by Ktesias, who spoke of a ten-fold increase in the size of the Sun as observed from India (that is, from the distant east), and by Artemidorus, who spoke of a one-hundred-fold increase in the size of the setting Sun as observed from Gades (Cadiz, in the far west). It is significant that one must travel far to the east or far to the west in order to see this increase. Why was it not visible from, say, the eastern Mediterranean? Perhaps these reports originally referred to Saturn, the Sun of Night. Even Artemidorus need not have been greatly exaggerating: the stretching of both lithosphere and atmosphere toward Saturn would by itself have exaggerated and enhanced the refraction effect (though there is also a psychological component in our impression of increased size near the horizon). Reports about Saturn must have been transferred to the Sun (just as was the o symbol).
For a variety of such reasons, the Counter-Earth may have been frightening to humans (but not necessarily to animal life). I suggest that there was little or no human habitation of the Americas during the Age of Kronos, and that human migration into the Americas followed the end of the Age of Kronos. (This is not to exclude human habitation of the Americas prior to the Age of Kronos.) Even if the Bering Strait was not an isthmus, it would no longer have been at the end of "Earth", and eastern Alaska and the Yukon would no longer have been covered by an impassable icecap. (The Old World and the New World have reputedly borne those names for only a few centuries, but such names would also apply, and perhaps were applied, when our planet lost its Sun of Night and when the natural division between "Earth" and Counter-Earth was obliterated.)
The story of the Confusion of Tongues at the Tower of Babel is traditionally dated some centuries after the Deluge (that is, well after the Age of Kronos), and is sometimes associated with Babylon. I suggest that such a construction project would make more sense during the Age of Kronos and at the sub-Saturnian point. (Even if there was some later but similar project, at Babylon or elsewhere, I suspect that it was carried out in imitation of or even in commemoration of an Age of Kronos project.) During the Age of Kronos, Saturn was quite close to Earth. It was indeed not so close that one could actually reach it by building a high tower, but that idea would be far more likely to occur then than, say, now. Saturn also appeared to be standing still and waiting; the builders knew the direction (up) in which to proceed and the place (the sub-Saturnian point) from which to begin. The weight reduction was greatest at the sub Saturnian point and the ancients may have been in a better position to construct a giant tower than we would be today; the weight reduction could have more than matched our presumed technological advances. But it was to no avail. All they did was build a giant "lightning rod", and thereby call down upon themselves a giant discharge. That bolt may even have affected the survivors' memories, as Velikovsky suggests happened in the later case. No orbital change need have been involved.
As long as Saturn was atop its pole, the Age of Kronos endured. The immobility of that body was a sign of the stability of the cosmic order. Later, as Velikovsky has shown, the stability of the north star was seen as an indication that the world or the world age was not yet coming to an end. The Age of Kronos had ended when the only immobile body in the sky had left its position atop the axis of the world; that was the main reason that the later ancients looked to the north star: it was now the body that lay atop the axis of the world, and, as long as it remained there, the world was stable. Thus there was a transfer from Saturn to the north star, with much attendant garbling. Traditions that emphasize the north, and especially those traditions that associate Saturn with the north, need to be interpreted very carefully. After Saturn left us, or we left Saturn, there was only one fixed point in the sky: the celestial pole of rotation. The axis of the world changed from an axis of orientation to an axis of rotation. With no nearby Sun of Night to obliterate the light of the fixed stars, a virtually stationary pole star would have been recognized, faint or not. Much that had been said about Saturn would, in the absence of Saturn, have been transferred to the only thing in the new sky that displayed the sort of stability that Saturn had once displayed. (Some rather dramatic events would have occurred in the meantime, of course.) The "world mountain", the "cosmic tree", and other such notions and traditions from the Age of Kronos were moved to the north pole as the only point of immobility. These notions and traditions are out of place in their newly assigned home, and they make little sense there.
The old reports that described earlier cosmoi or transitional events between cosmoi had ceased to accord with the newer arrangements of the heavens. These old reports were regularly retold in such a way as to make them apply to the new arrangements. Thus we have seen that the swelling of Saturn near the horizon was transferred to the swelling of the Sun near the horizon; that the phases of Saturn became the phases of the Moon; that the immobility of Saturn was changed to the immobility of the celestial north pole, with such immobility taken as a criterion of the continuation of the world order (even the aurora saturnalis became the aurora borealis); that the planetary system that obtained during the Age of Kronos was garbled into what has come down to us as the system of Philolaos, with the visible Saturn being described now as an invisible Central Fire; and of course that planetary myths in general have been transferred from the planets to the Sun.
These transfers are vintage uniformitarianism: accounts from the past had to fit the current state of affairs. Those who choose to ignore such transfers are being led astray by uniformitarian rationalizations, and stand little chance of correctly interpreting the testimony of the ancient world.
(It should be noted that sometimes these transfers are temporal: the past is treated or interpreted as the future, and literal, straightforward historiography is transformed into prophetic eschatology. Thus the Age of Kronos belongs to the past, but such a "kingdom of god" is often looked for in the future. Similarly, many cataclysms of the past have been described or interpreted as Iying in the future.)
* * *
We are now in a position to resolve all of those troublesome puzzles about the system of Philolaos that we faced earlier. Indeed, at this point, the solutions to all those puzzles are so easy that they appear anticlimactic.
The other side of Earth was recognized as another world because conditions were so radically different there that it virtually was another world.
The tradition that Philolaos needed the Counter-Earth as an additional cause of eclipses reflects the situation during the Age of Kronos when a number of bodies – not only Sun, Moon, and Earth, but also Saturn and other planetary bodies – were involved in eclipse and occultation phenomena, which were much more frequent and much more dramatic during the Age of Kronos.
The reason Earth and Counter-Earth were reported to revolve around the Central Fire in tandem was that they were two hemispheres of a single body, and thus did revolve together.
The Philolaos system recognized ten revolving bodies because during the Age of Kronos there were ten bodies in the heavens.
The Philolaos system recognized no obliquity because Earth's orbit was not inclined to Saturn's orbit by a significant amount, compared to the present obliquity.
Philolaos used an orbital motion of Earth rather than a rotation in situ because during the Age of Kronos day and night were caused by an orbital movement of Earth. The Moon was not used as a paradigm; indeed, the Moon – if it was visible at all (probably it was, as an outer satellite of Saturn) – was not yet in orbit around Earth. Furthermore, the size of Earth's orbit around Saturn was many times the 7900 miles that some modern scholars have imagined.
It is possible that the report that the Sun borrowed light from the Central Fire has confused the two Suns; for it was Saturn – the Central Fire or Sun of Night – that borrowed or reflected the light of the Sun. But there is a sense in which the Sun could have seemed to borrow the light of Saturn. It would have appeared as if the Saturnian light was drained or borrowed by the Sun during the morning as the crescent of Saturn waned, and repaid or returned by the Sun during the afternoon as the crescent of Saturn waxed again. This would involve both the phase of Saturn – new at noon – and the relative dimness of Saturn (even though luminous) in the light of the Sun. It would have been noted that the lighted edge of Saturn was always in the direction of the Sun.
The aethereal fire was called cone-shaped because Saturn or the Central Fire was indeed cone-shaped as seen from a distance away from the sub-Saturnian point. This was due to a variety of particulate and electromagnetic phenomena spread out between Saturn and Earth, but may also have involved severe refraction of the lower edge of Saturn when near the horizon. The aether itself would simply be the pervasive minimal glow in the sky due to Saturn.
The fixed stars were invisible throughout the Age of Kronos (except during rare occultations of Saturn) and were not counted as one of the ten bodies of the system. Only when the traditions from the Age of Kronos were force-fitted to some later cosmos – such as ours, where the number of naked eye bodies (Sun, Moon, and five planets) falls short of ten – did it become necessary to count the sphere of fixed stars as one of the ten bodies, along with Earth and Counter Earth. The sphere of fixed stars was set in motion as a tenth body despite the fact that this was inconsistent with the explanation of the diurnal motion of the stars by means of an orbital motion of Earth, an explanation that had already been utilized. The motion of the fixed stars had nothing to do with precession. As far as we know, Hipparchus was still the first to detect precession.
It may be that Saturn was counted among the ten bodies, despite its immobility. The later reluctance to count the Central Fire as one of the ten may be traced to a realization that Saturn had already been counted, as one of the "planets".
I am unaware of any evidence that the rate of rotation of Saturn was noted during the Age of Kronos. Indeed, the ancient emphasis on Saturn's immobility leads me to suspect that Saturn's atmosphere was not such as to suggest rotation at all. (It may be significant that Kronos-Saturn was depicted as cowled and that the Egyptians depicted Osiris as shrouded in mummy wrappings; similarly, the Romans wrapped the feet of the statue of Saturn in woolen bindings.) The considerable variety of particulate and electromagnetic phenomena along the pole from Earth to Saturn also could have made it difficult to detect the rotation of Saturn. Another possibility is that features of Saturn at different latitudes rotated at different speeds. From an orbiting Earth, some features might appear stationary, and those nearer the equator might seem to move in one direction while those nearer the poles might seem to move in the other direction. (If these features were in the form of horizontal bands, the effect would be not unlike the mummy wrappings of Osiris.) In any case, no clear picture regarding Saturnian rotation would be expected. Besides, the most noticeable "period" of Saturn would have been, not the period of axial rotation, but rather the period of the changing phases, which, since it was equal to the solar day, would be less likely to receive separate mention.
Finally, the neglect of the retrogradation of the outer planets in the Philolaos system, as well as the popularity in ancient times of the Egyptian system and of the epicyclic devices, can be rather readily understood in terms of the arrangement of the heavens during the Age of Kronos.
The essential feature of the Egyptian system is that some planets – we need not be concerned, for now, about which ones these were revolved around the Sun and that the Sun and the other planets revolved around some central body – usually Earth, but, in the case of the Philolaos system (if it ever incorporated the Egyptian system), the Central Fire. The Egyptian system may thus derive from the situation during the Age of Kronos: some planets were in orbit around the Sun and other "planets" were in orbit around Saturn. (Since Earth was quite near Saturn, it could have been rather difficult to determine whether a given distant body was revolving around Saturn or around Earth. Assuming that Saturn was several orders of magnitude more massive than Earth, we can today be fairly confident that such bodies were revolving around Saturn, but observers at the time might not have been able to tell this, and might have presumed instead that such bodies revolved around Earth.) Those bodies - whatever their identities – could have been regarded, like the Sun, as revolving around Earth, and still other bodies could then have been regarded as revolving around the Sun. The circling of even one such other body around the Sun, with the Sun at the same time seeming to circle around Earth, would have been an obvious prototype for the epicyclic theory. (The geocentrists who, in this manner, were led to an epicyclic theory would of course have been different from those forerunners of Philolaos who seem to have regarded Saturn, not Earth, as the center of the Sun's orbit.)
We may assume that Saturn had only relatively recently been pulled into the solar system, or that that process of capture was still under way. In either case, Saturn could easily have been the outermost of the visible solar planets whose orbits lay not too far from Saturn's orbital plane. There would then be no outer members of the Sun's family that would display the usual sort of retrogradation. Nor from "Earth" could the retrogradation of any outer satellites of Saturn be seen: at the time the retrogradation was occurring, "Earth" was faced toward Saturn and the retrogradation was invisible. Thus residents of "Earth" would not have been able to see any typical cases of outer retrogradation, either solar or Saturnian. This explains why the Egyptian system focused on the retrogradation of the inner planets and ignored the retrogradation of the outer planets. No retrograde movement through the constellations would have been involved anyway, and no retrograde loops would have been traced against the stellar background; the fixed stars could not be discerned at all by those who lived beneath Saturn, the Sun of Night.
INSERT KV1_46.JPG HERE