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Harmonies of the World, by Johannes Kepler, tr. Charles Glenn Wallis [1939], at


From the celestial music to the hearer, from the Muses to Apollo the leader of the Dance, from the six planets revolving and making consonances to the Sun at the centre of all the circuits, immovable in place but rotating into itself. For although the harmony is most absolute between the extreme planetary movements, not with respect to the true speeds through the ether but with respect to the angles which are formed by joining with the centre of the sun the termini of the diurnal arcs of the planetary orbits; while the harmony does not adorn the termini, i.e., the single movements, in so far as they are considered in themselves but only in so far as by being taken together and compared with one another, they become the object of some mind; and although no object is ordained in vain, without the existence of some thing which may be moved by it, while those angles seem to presuppose some action similar to our eyesight or at least to that sense-perception whereby, in Book IV, the sublunary nature perceived the angles of rays formed by the planets on the Earth: still it is not easy for dwellers on the Earth to conjecture what sort of sight is present in the sun, what eyes there are, or what other instinct there is for perceiving those angles

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even without eyes and for evaluating the harmonies of the movements entering into the antechamber of the mind by whatever doorway, and finally what mind there is in the sun. None the less, however those things may be, this composition of the six primary spheres around the sun, cherishing it with their perpetual revolutions and as it were adoring it (just as, separately, four moons accompany the globe of Jupiter, two Saturn, but a single moon by its circuit encompasses, cherishes, fosters the Earth and us its inhabitants, and ministers to us) and this special business of the harmonies, which is a most clear footprint of the highest providence over solar affairs, now being added to that consideration, [324] wrings from me the following confession: not only does light go out from the sun into the whole world, as from the focus or eye of the world, as life and heat from the heart, as every movement from the King and mover, but conversely also by royal law these returns, so to speak, of every lovely harmony are collected in the sun from every province in the world, nay, the forms of movements by twos flow together and are bound into one harmony by the work of some mind, and are as it were coined money from silver and gold bullion; finally, the curia, palace, and praetorium or throne-room of the whole realm of nature are in the sun, whatsoever chancellors, palatines, prefects the Creator has given to nature: for them, whether created immediately from the beginning or to be transported hither at some time, has He made ready those seats. For even this terrestrial adornment, with respect to its principal part, for quite a long while lacked the contemplators and enjoyers, for whom however it had been appointed; and those seats were empty. Accordingly the reflection struck my mind, what did the ancient Pythagoreans in Aristotle mean, who used to call the centre of the world (which they referred to as the "fire" but understood by that the sun) "the watchtower of Jupiter," Διος φυλακὴν; what, likewise, was the ancient interpreter pondering in his mind when he rendered the verse of the Psalm as: "He has placed His tabernacle in the sun."

But also I have recently fallen upon the hymn of Proclus the Platonic philosopher (of whom there has been much mention in the preceding books), which was composed to the Sun and filled full with venerable mysteries, if you excise that one κλῦθ (hear me) from it; although the ancient interpreter already cited has explained this to some extent, viz., in invoking the sun, he understands Him Who has placed His tabernacle in the sun. For Proclus lived at a time in which it was a crime, for which the rulers of the world and the people itself inflicted all punishments, to profess Jesus of Nazareth, God Our Savior, and to contemn the gods of the pagan poets (under Constantine, Maxentius, and Julian the Apostate). Accordingly Proclus, who from his Platonic philosophy indeed, by the natural light of the mind, had caught a distant glimpse of the Son of God, that true light which lighteth every man coming into this world, and who already knew that divinity must never be sought with a superstitious mob in sensible things, nevertheless preferred to seem to look for God in the sun rather than in Christ a sensible man, in order that at the same time he might both deceive the pagans by honoring verbally the Titan of the poets and devote himself to his philosophy, by drawing away both the pagans and the Christians from sensible beings, the pagans from the visible sun, the Christians from the Son of Mary, because, trusting too much to the natural light of reason, he spit out the mystery of the Incarnation; and finally that at the same time he might take over from them and adopt into his own philosophy whatever the Christians

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had which was most divine and especially consonant with Platonic philosophy. 1 And so the accusation of the teaching of the Gospel concerning Christ is laid against this hymn of Proclus, in its own matters: let that Titan keep as his private possessions χρῦσα ἡνία [golden reins] and ταμιεῖυν φαοῦς, μεσσατὶην, αἰθερος ἓδρην, κοδμοῡ κραδιαῖον ἐριφεγγεᾲ κυκλὸν [a treasury of light, a seat at the midpart of the ether, a radiant circle at the heart of the world], which visible aspect Copernicus too bestows upon him; let him even keep his παλιννοστοὺς διφρείς [cyclical chariot-drivings], although according to the ancient Pythagoreans he does not possess them but in their place τὸ κέντρον, Διὸς φυλακήν [the centre, the watchtower of Zeus]—which doctrine, misshapen by the forgetfulness of ages, as by a flood, was not recognized by their follower Proclus; let him also keep his γενεθλὴν Βλαστησασαν [offspring born] of himself, and whatever else is of nature; in turn, let the philosophy of Proclus yield to Christian doctrines, [325] let the sensible sun yield to the Son of Mary, the Son of God, Whom Proclus addresses under the name of the Titan, ζωαρκεὸς, ὢ ἂνα, πηγὴς αὐτὸς ἔχων κλήδα [O lord, who dost hold the key of the life-supporting spring], and that πᾴντα τεῆς ἔπλήσας ἐλερσινοοῖο προνόιης [thou didst fulfill all things with thy mind-awakening foresight], and that immense power over the μοιρὰων [fates], and things which were read of in no philosophy before the promulgation of the Gospel 2, the demons dreading him as their threatening scourge, the demons lying in ambush for souls, ὂφρα ὐφιτενοῦς λαθοῖντο πατρὸς περιφέγγεος αὐλής [in order that they might escape the notice of the light-filled hall of the lofty father]; and who except the Word of the Father is that εἰκὼν παγγεντετᾴο θεοῦ, οὖ φᾴεντος ἀπ᾽ ἀῤῥητου γενετῆρος παύσατο στοιχεῖων ο̃ρυμᾴγδος ἐπ ἀλληλοῖσιν ἰὀντων [image of the all-begetting father, upon whose manifestation from an ineffable mother the sin of the elements changing into one another ceased], according to the following: The Earth was unwrought and a chaotic mass, and darkness was upon the face of the abyss, and God divided the light from the darkness, the waters from the waters, the sea from the dry land; and: all things were made by the very Word. Who except Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God, ψυχῶν ἀναγωγεύς [the shepherd of souls], to whom ἱκεσιὴ πολυδὰκρους [the prayer of a tearful suppliant] is to be offered, in order that He cleanse us from sins and wash us of the filth τῆς γενεθλὴς [of generation]—as if Proclus acknowledged the forms of original sin—and guard us from punishment and evil, πρηυνὼν θόον ὀμμα δικῆς [by making mild the quick eye of justice], namely, the wrath of the Father? And the other things we read of, which are as it were taken from the hymn of Zacharias (or, accordingly, was that hymn a part of the Metroace?) Αχλυν ἀποσκεδὰσας ὀλεσὶμβροτον ὶολοχεύτον [dispersing the poisonous, man-destroying mist], viz., in order that He may give to souls living in darkness and the shadows of death the φάος ἁγνο̃ν [holy light] and ὂλβο̃ν ἀστυφελικτὸν ἀπ᾽ ἐυσεβίνἐρατείης [unshaken happiness from

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lovely piety]; for that is to serve God in holiness and justice all our days. Accordingly, let us separate out these and similar things and restore them to the doctrine of the Catholic Church to which they belong. But let us see what the principal reason is why there has been mention made of the hymn. For this same sun which ὕψοθεν ἁρμνίης ῥῦμα πλοῦσιον ἐξοτεύει [sluices the rich flow of harmony from on high]—so too Orpheus κόσμου τὸν ἐναρμόνιον δρόμον ἕλκων [making move the harmonious course of the world]—the same, concerning whose stock Phoebus about to rise κιθαρῇ ὑπὸ θέσκελα μελπῶν εὐνάξει μεγὰ κῦμα βαρυφλσισβοῖο γενεθλής [sings marvellous things on his lyre and lulls to sleep the heavy-sounding surge of generation] and in whose dance Paean is the partner, πλήσας ἁρμονὶης παναπήμονος εὔρεα κο̃σμν [striking the wide sweep of innocent harmony]—him, I say, does Proclus at once salute in the first verse of the hymn as πῦρος νοεροῦ βασιλέα [king of intellectual fire]. By that commencement, at the same time, he indicates what the Pythagoreans understood by the word of fire (so that it is surprising that the pupil should disagree with the masters in the position of the centre) and at the same time he transfers his whole hymn from the body of the sun and its quality and light, which are sensibles, to the intelligibles, and he has assigned to that πῦρ νοερὸς [intellectual fire] of his—perhaps the artisan fire of the Stoics—to that created God of Plato, that chief or self-ruling mind, a royal throne in the solar body, confounding into one the creature and Him through Whom all things have been created. But we Christians, who have been taught to make better distinctions, know that this eternal and untreated "Word," Which was "with God" and Which is contained by no abode, although He is within all things, excluded by none, although He is outside of all things, took up into unity of person flesh out of the womb of the most glorious Virgin Mary, and, when the ministry of His flesh was finished, occupied as His royal abode the heavens, wherein by a certain excellence over and above the other parts of the world, viz., through His glory and majesty, His celestial Father too is recognized to dwell, and has also promised to His faithful, mansions in that house of His Father: as for the remainder concerning that abode, we believe it superfluous to inquire into it too curiously or to forbid the senses or natural reasons to investigate that which the eye has not seen nor the ear heard and into which the heart of man has not ascended; but we duly subordinate the created mind—of whatsoever excellence it may be—to its Creator, and we introduce neither God-intelligences with Aristotle and the pagan philosophers nor armies of innumerable planetary spirits with the Magi, nor do we propose that they are either to be adored or summoned to intercourse with us by theurgic superstitions, for we have a careful fear of that; but we freely inquire by natural reasons what sort of thing each mind is, especially if in the heart of the world [326] there is any mind bound rather closely to the nature of things and performing the function of the soul of the world—or if also some intelligent creatures, of a nature different from human perchance do inhabit or will inhabit the globe thus animated (see my book on the New Star, Chapter 24, "On the Soul of the World and Some of Its Functions"). But if it is permissible, using the thread of analogy as a guide, to traverse the labyrinths of the mysteries of nature, not ineptly, I think, will someone have argued as follows: The relation of the six spheres to their common centre, thereby the centre of the whole world, is also the same as that of διανοὶα [discussive intellection] to νοῦς [intuitive intellection], according as these faculties

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are distinguished by Aristotle, Plato, Proclus, and the rest; and the relation of the single planets' revolutions in place around the sun to the ἀμετᾴθεδον [unvarying] rotation of the sun in the central space of the whole system (concerning which the sun-spots are evidence; this has been demonstrated in the Commentaries on the Movement of Mars) is the same as the relation of τὸ διανοητικὸν to τὸ νοερὸν, that of the manifold discourses of ratiocination to the most simple intellection of the mind. For as the sun rotating into itself moves all the planets by means of the form emitted from itself, so too—as the philosophers teach—mind, by understanding itself and in itself all things, stirs up ratiocinations, and by dispersing and unrolling its simplicity into them, makes everything to be understood. And the movements of the planets around the sun at their centre and the discourses of ratiocinations are so interwoven and bound together that, unless the Earth, our domicile, measured out the annual circle, midway between the other spheres—changing from place to place, from station to station—never would human ratiocination have worked its way to the true intervals of the planets and to the other things dependent from them, never would it have constituted astronomy. (See the Optical Part of Astronomy, Chapter 9.)

On the other hand, in a beautiful correspondence, simplicity of intellection follows upon the stillness of the sun at the centre of the world, in that hitherto we have always worked under the assumption that those solar harmonies of movements are defined neither by the diversity of regions nor by the amplitude of the expanses of the world. As a matter of fact, if any mind observes from the sun those harmonies, that mind is without the assistance afforded by the movement and diverse stations of his abode, by means of which it may string together ratiocinations and discourse necessary for measuring out the planetary intervals. Accordingly, it compares the diurnal movements of each planet, not as they are in their own orbits but as they pass through the angles at the centre of the sun. And so if it has knowledge of the magnitude of the spheres, this knowledge must be present in it a priori, without any toil of ratiocination: but to what extent that is true of human minds and of sublunary nature has been made clear above, from Plato and Proclus.

Under these circumstances, it will not have been surprising if anyone who has been thoroughly warmed by taking a fairly liberal draft from that bowl of Pythagoras which Proclus gives to drink from in the very first verse of the hymn, and who has been made drowsy by the very sweet harmony of the dance of the planets begins to dream (by telling a story he may imitate Plato's Atlantis and, by dreaming, Cicero's Scipio): throughout the remaining globes, which follow after from place to place, there have been disseminated discursive or ratiocinative faculties, whereof that one ought assuredly to be judged the most excellent and absolute which is in the middle position among those globes, viz., in man's earth, while there dwells in the sun simple intellect, πῦρ νοερὸν, or νοῦς, the source, whatsoever it may be, of every harmony.

For if it was Tycho Brahe's opinion concerning that bare wilderness of globes that it does not exist fruitlessly in the world but is filled with inhabitants: with how much greater probability shall we make a conjecture as to God's works and designs even for the other globes, from that variety which we discern in this globe of the Earth. For He Who created the species which should inhabit the waters, beneath which however there is no room for the air [327] which living

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things draw in; Who sent birds supported on wings into the wilderness of the air; Who gave white bears and white wolves to the snowy regions of the North, and as food for the bears the whale, and for the wolves, birds' eggs; Who gave lions to the deserts of burning Libya and camels to the wide-spread plains of Syria, and to the lions an endurance of hunger, and to the camels an endurance of thirst: did He use up every art in the globe of the Earth so that He was unable, every goodness so that he did not wish, to adorn the other globes too with their fitting creatures, as either the long or short revolutions, or the nearness or removal of the sun, or the variety of eccentricities or the shine or darkness of the bodies, or the properties of the figures wherewith any region is supported persuaded?

Behold, as the generations of animals in this terrestrial globe have an image of the male in the dodecahedron, of the female in the icosahedron—whereof the dodecahedron rests on the terrestrial sphere from the outside and the icosahedron from the inside: what will we suppose the remaining globes to have, from the remaining figures? For whose good do four moons encircle Jupiter, two Saturn, as does this our moon this our domicile? But in the same way we shall ratiocinate concerning the globe of the sun also, and we shall as it were incorporate conjectures drawn from the harmonies, et cetera—which are weighty of themselves—with other conjectures which are more on the side of the bodily, more suited for the apprehension of the vulgar. Is that globe empty and the others full, if everything else is in due correspondence? If as the Earth breathes forth clouds, so the sun black smoke? If as the Earth is moistened and grows under showers, so the sun shines with those combusted spots, while clear flame-lets sparkle in its all fiery body. For whose use is all this equipment, if the globe is empty? Indeed, do not the senses themselves cry out that fiery bodies dwell here which are receptive of simple intellects, and that truly the sun is, if not the king, at least the queen πῦρος νοεροῦ [of intellectual fire]?

Purposely I break off the dream and the very vast speculation, merely crying out with the royal Psalmist: Great is our Lord and great His virtue and of His wisdom there is no number: praise Him, ye heavens, praise Him, ye sun, moon, and planets, use every sense for perceiving, every tongue for declaring your Creator. Praise Him, ye celestial harmonies, praise Him, ye judges of the harmonies uncovered (and you before all, old happy Mastlin, for you used to animate these cares with words of hope): and thou my soul, praise the Lord thy Creator, as long as I shall be: for out of Him and through Him and in Him are all things, καὶ τἀ αἰσθητὰ καὶ τὰ νοερὰ [both the sensible and the intelligible]; for both whose whereof we are utterly ignorant and those which we know are the least part of them; because there is still more beyond. To Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.


This work was completed on the 17th or 27th day of May, 1618; but Book V was reread (while the type was being set) on the 9th or 19th of February, 1619. At Linz, the capital of Austria—above the Enns.



1080:1 See Kepler's commentary on this epilogue in the Epitome, page 850-51.

1082:1 It was the judgment of the ancients concerning his book Metroace that in it he set forth, not without divine rapture, his universal doctrine concerning God; and by the frequent tears of the author apparent in it all suspicion was removed from the hearers. None the less this same man wrote against the Christians eighteen epichiremata, to which John Philoponus opposed himself, reproaching Proclus with ignorance of Greek thought, which none the less lie had undertaken to defend. That is to say, Proclus concealed those things which did not make for his own philosophy.

1082:2 Nevertheless in Suidas some similar things are attributed to ancient Orpheus, nearly equal to Moses, as if his pupil; see too the hymns of Orpheus, on which Proclus wrote commentaries.