Otto von Guericke, in Experimenta Nova (1672), is describing how a feather floats above a globe of sulphur. In this quote, I'm interested in the phrase "pro temperiei diversitate", which I initially translated as "before different things of the right mixture":

Virtus etiam Expulsiva in hoc globo evidenter videnda (dum scil. ex machinula ad manus sumatur & dicto modo palmâ sicca atteratur seu perstringatur) attrahit enim non solum, sed & eiusmodi corpuscula (pro temperiei diversitate) à se iterum propellit, nec prius recipit, quàm aliud corpus attigerint.

A translation I found instead phrases it in terms of weather, translating "temperies" not as an appropriate mixture, but as clear and fair weather (which makes sense, these experiments can only be performed when the weather is cool, crisp, and dry). But then I don't understand how the translation is obtained:

One can clearly demonstrate the presence of the expulsive virtue in this globe when it is removed from the aforementioned stand and being held in the hand,is rubbed or stroked in the manner already described. Then it not only attracts, but also again repels from itself small bodies of the kind mentioned above (depending upon the prevailing weather). Once it has touched these bodies it does not attract them again until they have subsequently touched some other body.

Why use the word diversitate, what is the role of pro, and does temperiei refer to a mixture or to a temperate climate?

1 Answer 1


Pro means “in proportion to” (L&S II.B.6), temperies in later Latin can refer to atmospheric conditions (DMLBS), and diversitas simply means “variety, diversity”.

The parenthetical pro phrase indicates that the phenomenon described varies in extent or degree in correlation with certain atmospheric conditions.

  • Thanks for this answer. So is there no ambiguity that he's referring to weather, and not a "proper mixture of things"? Or at least, the weather reading is most natural? Sep 13, 2022 at 23:25
  • @SamGallagher I don’t see any mixture in the context, so I would expect at least a genitive to clarify what kind of mixture. temperies by itself quite naturally in neo-Latin refers to weather conditions, and you yourself mentioned that the weather effects these experiments. Sep 14, 2022 at 10:26

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