And thus is now explained the first principal part of this Song which flows from my hand.
Discourse on the first part of the Song has now made its meaning open and clear, and it is needful to proceed to the second; for the clearer perception of which, three divisions are desirable, according as it is contained in three sections. For in the first part I praise that Lady entirely and generally, as in the Soul so in the body; in the second part I descend to especial commendation of the Soul; and in the third, to especial praise of the body. The first part begins: “The Sun sees not in travel round the earth;” the second begins: “Her Maker saw that she was good;” the third begins: “Rain from her beauty little flames of fire,” and these parts or divisions in due order are to be discussed.
I say then: “The Sun sees not in travel round the earth;” where it is to be known, in order to have perfect understanding thereof, how the Earth is circled round by the Sun. In the first place, I say that by the Earth I do not here mean the whole body of the Universe, but only that part of the sea and land, following the common speech, which is thus wont to designate it, whereupon some one exclaims, “This man has seen all the World,” meaning “this part of the sea and land.” This World Pythagoras and his followers asserted to be one of the stars, and they also said that there was another opposite to it, similar to it: and they called that one Antictona; and he said that both were in one sphere which revolved from East to West, and by this revolution the Sun was circled round us, and now he was seen, and now he was not seen. And he said that the fire was in the centre of these, considering the fire to be a more noble body than the water and than the Earth, and giving the noblest centre to the four simple bodies; he said that the fire, when it appeared to ascend, according to strict truth descended to the centre. Then Plato was of another opinion, and he wrote in a book of his, which he called Timaeus, that the Earth with the sea was indeed the centre of all, but that its whole sphere revolved round its centre, following the first movement of the Heavens, but much slower on account of its gross material, and because of the immense distance from that first moved. These opinions are confuted in the second chapter, Of Heaven and the World, by that glorious Philosopher, to whom Nature opened her secrets most freely; and by him it is therein proved that this World, the Earth, is of itself stable and fixed to all eternity. And his reasons, which Aristotle states in order to break those other opinions and to affirm the truth, it is not my intention here to narrate; therefore, let it be enough for those to whom I speak, to know, upon his great authority, that this Earth is fixed, and does not revolve, and that it, with the sea, is the centre of the Heavens. These Heavens