From the French Dictionnaire Philosophique, translated by William F. Fleming. The Philosophical Dictionary is not a sustained work, but a compilation of articles contributed to Diderot's Encyclopédie. The quality of the articles bear witness to the great genius and intellect of François-Marie Arouet, more known as Voltaire.
ancients, when they applied that term to the atmosphere; which, as M. de Fontenelle has well observed in his "Plurality of Worlds," is the down of our ball.
The vapors which rise from our seas and land, and which form the clouds, meteors, and thunder, were supposed, in the early ages of the world, to be the residence of gods. Homer always makes the gods descend in clouds of gold; and hence painters still represent them seated on a cloud. How can any one be seated on water? It was perfectly correct to place the master of the gods more at ease than the rest; he had an eagle to carry him, because the eagle soars higher than the other birds.
The ancient Greeks, observing that the lords of cities resided in citadels on the tops of mountains, supposed that the gods might also have their citadel, and placed it in Thessaly, on Mount Olympus, whose summit is sometimes hidden in clouds; so that their palace was on the same floor with their heaven.
Afterwards, the stars and planets, which appear fix