Page 92

The Four Elements

35

towards it; and its waters came up to the foot of the mountains that surrounded it and formed its banks. And the peaks of the Apennines stood up in this sea like islands surrounded by salt water. Nor did Africa as yet, behind its Atlas mountains, reveal the earth of its great plains uncovered to the sky some 3,000 miles in extent. And Memphis stood on the shore of this sea, and above the plains of Italy where flocks of birds are flying today, fishes were wont to wander in large shoals.41 Of the consumption or evaporation of the water of the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea, a vast river placed between Africa, Asia, and Europe, gathers within itself about three hundred principal rivers, and in addition to that it receives the rains which fall upon it over a space of three thousand miles. It returns to the mighty ocean its own waters and those that it has received; but doubtless it returns less to the sea than what it receives; for from it descend many springs which flow through the bowels of the earth and vivify this terrestrial machine. This is so because the surface of this Mediterranean is further from the centre of the world than the surface of this ocean . . . and in addition to this the heat of the sun is continually evaporating a portion of the water of the Mediterranean, and as a consequence this sea can acquire but little increase from the aforesaid rains.42 How the flow and ebb of the tide is not uniform, for on the coast of Genoa there is none; at Venice it makes a variation of two braccia; between England and France of eighteen braccia. How the current that flows through the straits of Sicily is very powerful because through these there pass all the waters of the rivers which discharge themselves into the Adriatic.43 The Danube or Donau flows into the Black Sea, which formerly extended almost to Austria and covered all the plain

Leonardo da vinci  
Leonardo da vinci  
Advertisement