JF Ptak Science Books Poat 1871 [Part of a series on The History of Holes.]
“Water, Fire; Fire, Water; mutually, as it were, cherish one another; and by a certain unanimous consent, conspire to the Conservation of the Geocosm, or Terrestrial World.”--A. Kircher, Mundus Subterraneus, 1665 (quoting a source on the University of Oklahoma library blog, here.)
The great Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) pride of the Jesuits (and a member of the Collegio Romano, where he also was curator of the natural history collection there) and very forward thinker, was a prolific writer of vast ideas, thought about teh origins and circulation of water (among many other things) in his semi-encyclopedic Mundus Subterraneus (1665). The Mundus--one of Kircher's forty books--was one of the most beautiful books produced in the 17th century, and was chock-filled with ingenuity and insight and good thinking that went everywhere, though some of that "everywhere" went nowhere. In any event the man reached very high in an absolutely varied way, writing in the fields of language, optics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, math, magnetism, music, zoology and so on through the alphabet of wonder.
In this case, Kircher worked on the problem of water--where it came from, where it went, and how the process unfolded, which was part of an overall theory of the physical construction of the Earth. Kircher's idea--which relative to other theories of the time was pretty scientific--was that the Earth was a solid mass save for interludes of caves and pockets of water and fire. The fire ('pyrophylacia") represented the origins of earthquakes and volcanoes, and was complemented by a system of underground lakes and rivers ("hydrophylacia") which was the basis for the movement of all water
The "holes" part of this post comes in right now, as we see in the engraving that depicts polar portal for water to descend into, great holes (like Spongebob Squarepant's encounter with the main drain of the oceans) that allowed the water to continue its endless migration. Water would rise and fall in accordance with the tides, which would act as the power source for raising water to mountainous heights, where it would start its life again, flowing down via creeks and streams into lakes and rivers and then to the ocean where it would ultimately make its way to some severe maelstrom, and down into the Earth to come back up again. And I think that the primum mobile for this action was the wind produced by the interaction of the fire and water.
I'm unsure thus far about the placement of this primal hole.
Next: Descartes Firehole.
Below: images of the fire- and water-based subterranean worlds of necessity to Kircher's geocosm.
Here's an interesting definition: "PYROPHYLACIA, a term ufed by Kircher and fome others to exprefs thofe magazines of fire which are placed in
the cavities of mountains and other hollows of the earth, and ferve to fupply the feveral volcanos in the different
parts of the world." An almost-contemorary definition found in Chambers, Ephraim, 1680 (ca.)-1740, et al. /
A supplement to Mr. Chambers's cyclopædia: or, universal dictionary of arts and sciences. In two volumes
(1753) . There was no entry for hydrophylacia.