The Birthday Book
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.
2 How to Honor the Genius of the Birthday
3 What is the Spirit of the Birthday?
4 Seed and Conception
6 The Fetus
7 Growth in the Womb
8 The Origins of Astrology
9 The Teachings of the Pythagoreans
10 Harmony and Music
11 Harmony in the Womb
12 Harmony in the Mind and Body
13 Harmony in the Universe
14 Crisis Years and the Length of Life
15 The Praise of Caerellius
16 Time and Eternity
17 Ages and Centuries. The Roman Secular Games
18 The Great Year
19 The Year
20 The Calendar
21 The History of the World
“It was already incredible enough that English-language readers would have to wait until the twenty-first century for a complete translation of a book by an author so important to the history of science that he has a crater on the moon named after him. But it was just as incredible that, after the long wait, Censorinus would have the good fortune to fall into the hands of Holt Parker, whose crisp rendering of the original Latin is ingenious and lovingly accurate.”