The Birthday Book

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 120 pages
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Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Roman scholar Censorinus bestowed upon his best friend a charming birthday present: The Birthday Book, which appears here in its long-awaited first English translation. Laying out everything he knew about birthdays, the book starts simply, but by the conclusion of this brief yet brilliant gem, Censorinus has sketched a glorious vision of a universe ruled by harmony and order, where the microcosm of the child in the womb corresponds to the macrocosm of the planets. Alternately serious and playful, Censorinus touches on music, history, astronomy, astrology, and every aspect of time as it was understood in third-century Rome. He also provides ancient answers to perennial questions: Why does the day begin at midnight? Where did Leap Year come from? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Embodying the proverbial gift that keeps on giving, The Birthday Book has long been treasured by scientists, poets, and scholars, and Holt Parker’s graceful and lively new translation—accompanied by an illuminating introduction and detailed notes—is itself a present for Latinists, historians of science, and anyone looking for an unusual birthday gift.

 

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Contents

1 Happy Birthday
1
2 How to Honor the Genius of the Birthday
3
3 What Is the Spirit of the Birthday?
4
4 Seed and Conception
5
5 Pregnancy
8
6 The Fetus
9
7 Growth in theWomb
11
8 The Origins of Astrology
12
15 The Praise of Caerellius
31
16 Time and Eternity
33
17 Ages and Centuries The Roman Secular Games
34
18 The Great Year
40
19 The Year
44
20 The Calendar
45
21 The History of the World
48
22 Months
51

9 The Teachings of the Pythagoreans
17
11 Harmony in the Womb
21
12 Harmony in the Mind and Body
24
13 Harmony in the Universe
25
14 Crisis Years and the Length of Life
27
23 Days
54
24 Hours
55
Glossary
59
Notes
69
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About the author (2008)

Holt Parker is professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati.

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