E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Called St. Elmo fires by the French, Castor and Pollux by the Romans. A celestial light seen occasionally to play round mast-heads, etc.
(Latin, coma, hair.) Virgil makes good use of this phenomenon while Ænas is hesitating whether to leave burning Troy or not:
Ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli
Fundere lumen apex, tractuque innoxia \??\
Lambere flamma comas, et circum tempora pasci
Nos, pavidi trepidare metu, crinemque flagrantem
Excutere, et sanctos restinguere fontibus ignes.
When old Anchises interferes, and a falling star is interpreted to mean that Jupiter will lead them forth securely. (Ænid, ii. 682, etc.)