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Title: The Natural History of Pliny -- Volume 2 of 6

Author: Pliny the Elder

Translator: John Bostock
            Henry T. Riley

Release Date: September 3, 2019 [EBook #60230]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Turgut Dincer, Tony Browne, Stephen Rowland
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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H. T. RILEY, Esq., B.A.,






Chap.   Page

The Euxine and the Maryandini






The region of Themiscyra, and the nations therein


The region of Colica, the nations of the Achæi, and other nations in the same parts


The Cimmerian Bosporus


Lake Mæotis and the adjoining nations


The situation of Cappadocia


The Lesser and the Greater Armenia


The rivers Cyrus and Araxes


Albania, Iberia, and the adjoining nations


The passes of the Caucasus


The islands of the Euxine


Nations in the vicinity of the Scythian Ocean


The Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea




Media and the Caspian Gates


Nations situate around the Hyrcanian Sea


The nations of Scythia and the countries on the Eastern Ocean


The Seres


The nations of India


The Ganges


The Indus




The Ariani and the adjoining nations


Voyages to India




The Persian and the Arabian Gulfs


The Parthian Empire



70 iv

The Tigris




The Gulfs of the Red Sea






Islands of the Æthiopian Sea


The Fortunate Islands


The comparative distances of places on the face of the earth


Division of the earth into parallels and shadows of equal length




The wonderful forms of different nations


Marvellous births


The generation of man; the unusual duration of pregnancy; instances of it from seven to twelve months


Indications of the sex of the child during the pregnancy of the mother


Monstrous births


Of those who have been cut out of the womb


Who were called Vopisci


The conception and generation of man


Striking instances of resemblance


What men are suited for generation. Instances of very numerous offspring


At what age generation ceases


Remarkable circumstances connected with the menstrual discharge


The theory of generation


Some account of the teeth, and some facts concerning infants


Examples of unusual size


Children remarkable for their precocity


Some remarkable properties of the body


Instances of extraordinary strength


Instances of remarkable agility


Instances of acuteness of sight


Instances of remarkable acuteness of hearing


Instances of endurance of pain




Vigour of mind


Clemency and greatness of mind


Heroic exploits


Union in the same person of three of the highest qualities with the greatest purity


Instances of extreme courage


Men of remarkable genius


Men who have been remarkable for wisdom

v 32.

Precepts the most useful in life




The man who was pronounced to be the most excellent


The most chaste matrons


Instances of the highest degree of affection


Names of men who have excelled in the arts, astrology, grammar, and medicine


Geometry and architecture


Painting; engraving on bronze, marble, and ivory; carving


Slaves for which a high price has been given


Supreme happiness


Rare instances of good fortune continuing in the same family


Remarkable example of vicissitudes


Remarkable examples of honours


Ten very fortunate circumstances which have happened to the same person


The misfortunes of Augustus


Men whom the gods have pronounced to be the most happy


The man whom the gods ordered to be worshipped during his life-time; a remarkable flash of lightning


The greatest length of life


The variety of destinies at the birth of man


Various instances of diseases




Persons who have come to life again after being laid out for burial


Instances of sudden death




The Manes, or departed spirits of the soul


The inventors of various things


The things about which mankind first of all agreed. The ancient letters


When barbers were first employed


When the first time-pieces were made


Elephants; their capacity


When elephants were first put into harness


The docility of the elephant


Wonderful things which have been done by the elephant


The instinct of wild animals in perceiving danger


When elephants were first seen in Italy


The combats of elephants


The way in which elephants are caught


The method by which they are tamed


The birth of the elephant, and other particulars respecting it

vi 11.

In what countries the elephant is found; the antipathy of the elephant and the dragon


The sagacity of these animals




Serpents of remarkable size


The animals of Scythia; the bison


The animals of the north; the elk, the achlis, and the bonasus


Lions; how they are produced


The different species of lions


The peculiar character of the lion


Who it was that first introduced combats of lions at Rome, and who has brought together the greatest number of lions for that purpose


Wonderful feats performed by lions


A man recognized and saved by a dragon




The decree of the Senate, and laws respecting African animals; who first brought them to Rome, and who brought the greatest number of them


Tigers: when first seen at Rome; their nature


Camels; the different kinds


The cameleopard; when it was first seen at Rome


The chama, and the cepus


The rhinoceros


The lynx, the sphinx, the crocotta, and the monkey


The terrestrial animals of India


The animals of Æthiopia; a wild beast which kills with its eye


The serpents called basilisks


Wolves; the origin of the story of Versipellis


Different kinds of serpents


The ichneumon


The crocodile


The scincus


The hippopotamus


Who first exhibited the hippopotamus and the crocodile at Rome


The medicinal remedies which have been borrowed from animals


Prognostics of danger derived from animals


Nations that have been exterminated by animals


The hyæna


The crocotta; the mantichora


Wild asses


Beavers; amphibious animals; otters




The sea-calf; beavers; lizards




The chameleon


Other animals which change colour; the tarandus, the lycaon, and the thos


The porcupine


Bears and their cubs

vii 55.

The mice of Pontus and of the Alps




The leontophonus, and the lynx


Badgers and squirrels


Vipers and snails




The qualities of the dog; examples of its attachment to its master; nations which have kept dogs for the purposes of war


The generation of the dog


Remedies against canine madness


The nature of the horse


The disposition of the horse; remarkable facts concerning chariot horses


The generation of the horse


Mares impregnated by the wind


The ass; its generation


The nature of mules, and of other beasts of burden


Oxen; their generation


The Egyptian Apis


Sheep, and their propagation


The different kinds of wool, and their colours


Different kinds of cloth


The different shapes of sheep; the musmon


Goats, and their propagation


The hog


The wild boar; who was the first to establish parks for wild animals


Animals in a half-wild state




The different species of hares


Animals which are tamed in part only


Places in which certain animals are not to be found


Animals which injure strangers only, as also animals which injure the natives of the country only, and where they are found


Why the largest animals are found in the sea


The sea monsters of the Indian Ocean


The largest animals that are found in each ocean


The forms of the Tritons and Nereids. The forms of sea-elephants


The balæna and the orca


Whether fishes respire, and whether they sleep




Human beings who have been beloved by dolphins


Places where dolphins help men to fish


Other wonderful things relating to dolphins


The tursio

viii 12.

Turtles; the various kinds of turtles, and how they are caught


Who first invented the art of cutting tortoise-shell


Distribution of aquatic animals into various species


Those which are covered with hair, or have none, and how they bring forth. Sea-calves, or phocæ


How many kinds of fish there are


Which of the fishes are of the largest size


Tunnies, cordyla, and pelamides, and the various parts of them that are salted. Melandrya, apolecti, and cybia


The aurias and the scomber


Fishes which are never found in the Euxine; those which enter it and return


Why fishes leap above the surface of the water


That auguries are derived from fishes


What kinds of fishes have no males


Fishes which have a stone in the head; those which keep themselves concealed during winter; and those which are not taken in winter, except upon stated days


Fishes which conceal themselves during the summer; those which are influenced by the stars


The mullet


The acipenser


The lupus, the asellus


The scarus, the mustela


The various kinds of mullets, and the sargus that attends them


Enormous prices of some fish


That the same kinds are not everywhere equally esteemed


Gills and scales


Fishes which have a voice.—Fishes without gills


Fishes which come on land; the proper time for catching fish


Classification of fishes, according to the shape of the body


The fins of fish, and their mode of swimming




The murena


Various kinds of flat fish


The echeneis, and its uses in enchantments


Fishes which change their colour


Fishes which fly above the water—the sea-swallow—the fish that shines in the night—the horned fish—the sea-dragon


Fishes which have no blood.—Fishes known as soft fish


The sæpia, the loligo, the scallop


The polypus


The nautilus, or sailing polypus


The various kinds of polypi; their shrewdness


The sailing nauplius


Sea-animals which are enclosed with a crust; the cray-fish


The various kinds of crabs; the pinnotheres, the sea urchin, cockles, and scallops


Various kinds of shell-fish


What numerous appliances of luxury are found in the sea

ix 54.

Pearls; how they are produced, and where


How pearls are found


The various kinds of pearls


Remarkable facts connected with pearls—their nature


Instances of the use of pearls


How pearls first came into use at Rome


The nature of the murex and the purple


The different kinds of purples


How wools are dyed with the juices of the purple


When purple was first used at Rome; when the laticlave vestment and the prætexta were first worn


Fabrics called conchyliated


The amethyst, the Tyrian, the hysginian, and the crimson tints


The pinna, and the pinnotheres


The sensitiveness of water-animals; the torpedo, the pastinaca, the scolopendra, the glanis, and the ram-fish


Bodies which have a third nature, that of the animal and vegetable combined—the sea-nettle


Sponges; the various kinds of them, and where they are produced: proofs that they are gifted with life by nature




Fishes which are enclosed in a stony shell—sea-animals which have no sensation—other animals which live in the mud


Venomous sea-animals


The maladies of fishes


The generation of fishes


Fishes which are both oviparous and viviparous


Fishes the belly of which opens in spawning, and then closes again


Fishes which have a womb; those which impregnate themselves


The longest lives known amongst fishes


The first person that formed artificial oyster-beds


Who was the first inventor of preserves for other fish


Who invented preserves for murenæ


Who invented preserves for sea-snails




The mice of the Nile


How the fish called the anthias is taken




The marvellous properties of the dactylus


The antipathies and sympathies that exist between aquatic animals


The ostrich


The phœnix


The different kinds of eagles


The natural characteristics of the eagle

x 5.

When the eagle was first used as the standard of the Roman legions


An eagle which precipitated itself on the funeral pile of a girl


The vulture


The birds called sangualis and immusulus


Hawks. The buteo


In what places hawks and men pursue the chase in company with each other


The only bird that is killed by those of its own kind.—A bird that lays only one egg


The kite


The classification of birds


Crows. Birds of ill omen. At what seasons they are not inauspicious


The raven


The horned owl


Birds, the race of which is extinct, or of which all knowledge has been lost


Birds which are born with the tail first


The owlet


The wood-pecker of Mars


Birds which have hooked talons


The peacock


Who was the first to kill the peacock for food. Who first taught the art of cramming them


The dunghill cock


How cocks are castrated. A cock that once spoke


The goose


Who first taught us to use the liver of the goose for food


The Commagenian medicament


The chenalopex, the cheneros, the tetrao, and the otis








Foreign birds which visit us; the quail, the glottis, the cychramus, and the otus




Birds which take their departure from us, and whither they go; the thrush, the blackbird, and the starling—birds which lose their feathers during their retirement—the turtle-dove and the ring-dove—the flight of starlings and swallows


Birds which remain with us throughout the year; birds which remain with us only six or three months; whitwalls and hoopoes


The Memnonides


The Meleagrides


The Seleucides


The ibis


Places in which certain birds are never found


The various kinds of birds which afford omens by their note. Birds which change their colour and their voice

xi 43.

The nightingale


The melancoryphus, the erithacus, and the phœnicurus


The œnanthe, the chlorion, the blackbird, and the ibis


The times of incubation of birds


The halcyones: the halcyon days that are favourable to navigation


Other kinds of aquatic birds


The instinctive cleverness displayed by birds in the construction of their nests. The wonderful works of the swallow. The bank-swallow


The acanthyllis and other birds


The merops—partridges




Wonderful things done by them; prices at which they have been sold


Different modes of flight and progression in birds


The birds called apodes or cypseli


Respecting the food of birds—the caprimulgus, the platea


The instincts of birds—the carduelis, the taurus, the anthus


Birds which speak—the parrot


The pie which feeds on acorns


A sedition that arose among the Roman people, in consequence of a raven speaking


The birds of Diomedes


Animals that can learn nothing


The mode of drinking with birds. The porphyrio


The hæmatopous


The food of birds


The pelican


Foreign birds: the phalerides, the pheasant, and the numidicæ


The phœnicopterus, the attagen, the phalacrocorax, the pyrrhocorax, and the lagopus


The new birds. The vipio


Fabulous birds


Who first invented the art of cramming poultry: why the first Censors forbade this practice


Who first invented aviaries. The dish of Æsopus


The generation of birds: other oviparous animals


The various kinds of eggs, and their nature


Defects in brood-hens, and their remedies


An augury derived from eggs by an empress


The best kinds of fowls


The diseases of fowls, and their remedies


When birds lay, and how many eggs. The various kinds of herons


What eggs are called hypenemia, and what cynosura. How eggs are best kept


The only winged animal that is viviparous, and nurtures its young with its milk


Terrestrial animals that are oviparous. Various kinds of serpents


Generation of all kinds of terrestrial animals


The position of animals in the uterus

xii 85.

Animals whose origin is still unknown




Animals which are born of beings that have not been born themselves—animals which are born themselves, but are not reproductive—animals which are of neither sex


The senses of animals—that all have the senses of touch and taste—those which are more remarkable for their sight, smell, or hearing—moles—whether oysters have the sense of hearing


Which fishes have the best hearing


Which fishes have the finest sense of smell.


Diversities in the feeding of animals


Animals which live on poisons


Animals which live on earth—animals which will not die of hunger or thirst


Diversities in the drinking of animals


Antipathies of animals. Proofs that they are sensible of friendship and other affections


Instances of affection shown by serpents


The sleep of animals


What animals are subject to dreams






THE Euxine1 Sea, which in former times had the name of Axenus,2 from the savage and inhospitable character of the nations living on its borders, by a peculiar whim of nature, which is continually giving way before the greedy inroads of the sea, lies between Europe and Asia. It was not enough for the ocean to have surrounded the earth, and then deprived us of a considerable portion of it, thus rendering still greater its uninhabitable proportion; it was not enough for it to have forced a passage through the mountains, to have torn away Calpe from Africa, and to have swallowed up a much larger space than it left untouched; it was not enough for it to have poured its tide into the Propontis through the Hellespont, after swallowing up still more of the dry land—for beyond the Bosporus, as well, it opens with its insatiate appetite upon another space of immense extent, until the Mæotian lakes3 unite their ravening waters with it as it ranges far and wide.

That all this has taken place in spite, as it were, of the earth, is manifested by the existence of so many straits and such numbers of narrow passages formed against the will of2 nature—that of the Hellespont,4 being only eight hundred and seventy-five paces in width, while at the two Bospori5 the passage across may be effected by oxen6 swimming, a fact from which they have both derived their name. And then besides,7 although they are thus severed, there are certain points on which these coasts stand in the relation of brotherhood towards each other—the singing of birds and the barking of dogs on the one side can be heard on the other, and an intercourse can be maintained between these two worlds by the medium even of the human voice,8 if the winds should not happen to carry away the sound thereof.

The length of the borders of the Euxine from the Bosporus to the Lake Mæotis has been reckoned by some writers at fourteen hundred and thirty-eight miles; Eratosthenes, however, says that it is one hundred less. According to Agrippa, the distance from Chalcedon to the Phasis is one thousand miles, and from that river to the Cimmerian Bosporus three hundred and sixty. We will here give in a general form the distances as they have been ascertained in our own times; for our arms have even penetrated to the very mouth of the Cimmerian Straits.

After passing the mouth of the Bosporus we come to the river Rhebas,9 by some writers called the Rhesus. We next come to Psillis,10 the port of Calpas,11 and the Sagaris,12 a famous3 river, which rises in Phrygia and receives the waters of other rivers of vast magnitude, among which are the Tembrogius13 and the Gallus,14 the last of which is by many called the Sangarius. After leaving the Sagaris the Gulf of the Mariandyni15 begins, and we come to the town of Heraclea,16 on the river Lycus;17 this place is distant from the mouth of the Euxine two hundred miles. The sea-port of Acone18 comes next, which has a fearful notoriety for its aconite or wolf’s-bane, a deadly poison, and then the cavern of Acherusia,19 the rivers Pædopides, Callichorus, and Sonautes, the town of Tium,20 distant from Heraclea thirty-eight miles, and the river Billis.


Beyond this river begins the nation of Paphlagonia,21 by some writers called Pylæmenia;22 it is closed in behind by the country of Galatia. In it are Mastya,23 a town founded by the4 Milesians, and then Cromna,24 at which spot Cornelius Nepos also places the Heneti,25 from whom he would have us believe that the Veneti of Italy, who have a similar name, are descended. The city also of Sesamon, now called Amastris,26 Mount Cytorus,27 distant sixty-three miles from Tium, the towns of Cimolis28 and Stephane,29 and the river Parthenius.30 The promontory of Carambis,31 which extends a great distance into the sea, is distant from the mouth of the Euxine three hundred and twenty-five miles, or, according to some writers, three hundred and fifty, being the same distance from the Cimmerian Bosporus, or, as some persons think, only three hundred and twelve miles. There was formerly also a town of the same name, and another near it called Armene; we now find there the colony of Sinope,32 distant from Mount Cytorus one hundred and sixty-four miles. We then come to the river Evarchus,335 and after that a people of the Cappadocians, the towns of Gaziura34 and Gazelum,35 the river Halys,36 which runs from the foot of Mount Taurus through Cataonia and Cappadocia, the towns of Gangre37 and Carusa,38 the free town of Amisus,39 distant from Sinope one hundred and thirty miles, and a gulf of the same name, of such vast extent40 as to make Asia assume the form of a peninsula, the isthmus of which is only some two hundred41 miles in breadth, or a little more, across to the gulf of Issus in Cilicia. In all this district there are, it is said, only three races that can rightly be termed Greeks, the Dorians, the Ionians, and the Æolians, all the rest being of barbarian origin.42 To Amisus was joined the town of Eupatoria,43 founded by Mithridates: after his defeat they were both included under the name of Pompeiopolis.



Cappadocia44 has in the interior Archelais,45 a colony founded by Claudius Cæsar, and past which the river Halys flows; also the towns of Comana,46 watered by the Sarus, Neocæsarea,47 by the Lycus,48 and Amasia,49 in the region of Gazacene, washed by the Iris. In Colopene it has Sebastia and Sebastopolis;50 these are insignificant places, but still equal in importance to those just mentioned. In its remaining districts there is Melita,51 founded by Semiramis, and not far from the Euphrates, Diocæsarea,52 Tyana,53 Castabala,54 Magnopolis,557 Zela,56 and at the foot of Mount Argæus57 Mazaca, now called Cæsarea.58 That part of Cappadocia which lies stretched out before the Greater Armenia is called Melitene, before Commagene Cataonia, before Phrygia Garsauritis, Sargarausene,59 and Cammanene, before Galatia Morimene, where their territories are divided by the river Cappadox,60 from which this people have taken their name; they were formerly known as the Leucosyri.61 From Neocæsarea above mentioned, the lesser Armenia is separated by the river Lycus. In the interior also there is the famous river Ceraunus,62 and on the coast beyond the town of Amisus, the town and river of Chadisia,63 and the town of Lycastum,64 after which the region of Themiscyra65 begins.



The river Iris brings down to the sea the waters of the Lycus. In the interior is the city of Ziela,66 famous for the defeat of Triarius67 and the victory of C. Cæsar.68 Upon the coast there is the river Thermodon, which rises at the fortified place called Phanarœa,69 and flows past the foot of Mount Amazonius.70 There was formerly a town of the same name as the river, and five others in all, Amazonium, Themiscyra, Sotira, Amasia, and Comana,71 now only a Manteium. (4.) We find here the nations of the Genetæ,72 the Chalybes,73 the town of Cotyorum,74 the nations of the Tibareni and the Mossyni, who make marks upon their bodies,75 the people called Macrocephali,769 the town of Cerasus,77 the port of Chordule, the nations called the Bechires78 and the Buzeri, the river Melas,79 the people called the Macrones, and Sidene with its river Sidenus,80 by which the town of Polemonium81 is washed, at a distance from Amisus of one hundred and twenty miles. We next come to the rivers Iasonius82 and Melanthius,83 and, at a distance of eighty miles from Amisus, the town of Pharnacea,84 the fortress and river of Tripolis;85 the fortress and river of Philocalia, the fortress of Liviopolis, but not upon a river, and, at a distance of one hundred miles from Pharnacea, the free city of Trapezus,86 shut in by a mountain of vast size. Beyond this town is the nation of the Armenochalybes87 and the10 Greater Armenia, at a distance of thirty miles. On the coast, before Trapezus, flows the river Pyxites, and beyond it is the nation of the Sanni88 Heniochi. Next comes the river Absarus,89 with a fortress of the same name at its mouth, distant from Trapezus one hundred and forty miles.

At the back of the mountains of this district is Iberia, while on the coast are the Heniochi, the Ampreutæ,90 the Lazi, the rivers Acampsis,91 Isis,92 Mogrus, and Bathys,93 the nations of the Colchi, the town of Matium,94 the river Heracleum and the promontory of the same name,95 and the Phasis,96 the most celebrated river of Pontus. This river rises among the Moschi, and is navigable for the largest vessels a distance of thirty-eight miles and a half, and for small ones very much higher up; it is crossed by one hundred and twenty bridges. It formerly had many cities of note on its banks, the more famous of which were Tyndaris, Circæum, Cygnus, and Phasis97 at its mouth. But the most celebrated of them all was Æa, fifteen miles98 distant from the sea, where the Hippos and the Cyaneos,99 rivers of vast size, flow into it from opposite directions. At the present day its only place of note is Surium, which11 derives its name from the river which flows at that spot into the Phasis, and up to which place the Phasis is navigable for large vessels, as we have already100 mentioned. It receives also some other rivers, wonderful for their number and magnitude, and among them the Glaucus.101 At the mouth of the Phasis, at a distance of seventy miles from Absarus, are some islands, which, however, have no name. After passing this, we come to another river, the Charieis,102 and the nation of the Salæ, by the ancients called Phthirophagi,103 as also Suani.104 The river Chobus105 flows from the Caucasus through the country of the Suani. The river Rhoas comes next, then the region of Ecrectice, the rivers Singames,106 Tarsuras,107 Astelephus,108 Chrysorrhoas, the nation of the Absilæ, the castle of Sebastopolis,109 one hundred miles distant from Phasis, the nation of the Sannigæ, the town of Cygnus,110 and the river and town of Penius.111 We then come to the tribes of the Heniochi,112 who are distinguished by numerous names.


Below this lies the region of Pontus known as Colica,113 in12 which the mountain chain of Caucasus bends away towards the Riphæan mountains, as we have previously114 mentioned; one side running down towards the Euxine and the Lake Mæotis, the other towards the Caspian and the Hyrcanian sea. The remaining portion of these shores is peopled by savage nations, the Melanchlæni,115 and the Coraxi, who formerly dwelt in Dioscurias,116 near the river Anthemus, now deserted, but once a famous city; so much so, indeed, that we learn from Timosthenes, that three hundred nations, all of different languages, were in the habit of resorting to it, and in later times we had there one hundred and thirty interpreters for the purpose of transacting business. There are some authors who are of opinion that this place was built by Amphitus and Telchius, the charioteers117 of Castor and Pollux, from whom it is generally understood that the nation of the Heniochi sprang. After passing Dioscurias we come to the town of Heracleium,118 seventy miles distant from Sebastopolis, and then the Achæi,119 the Mardi,120 and the Cercetæ,121 and, behind them, the Cerri and the Cephalotomi.122 In the innermost part123 of this district there was Pityus,124 a city of very considerable opulence, but13 destroyed by the Heniochi: behind it are the Epageritæ, a people of Sarmatian origin, dwelling upon the range of the Caucasus, and beyond them, the Sauromatæ. It was with these people that Mithridates125 took refuge in the reign of the Emperor Claudius: and from him we learn that the Thalli126 join up to them, a people who border on the eastern side upon the mouth127 of the Caspian sea: he tells us also that at the reflux the channel is dry there. Upon the coast of the Euxine, near the country of the Cercetæ, is the river Icarusa,128 with the town and river of Hierus, distant from Heracleium one hundred and thirty-six miles. Next to this, is the promontory of Cruni, after passing which, we find the Toretæ upon a lofty ridge of mountains. The city of Sindos129 is distant from Hierus sixty-seven miles and a half; after passing which, we come to the river Setheries. (6.) From thence to the entrance of the Cimmerian Bosporus the distance is eighty-eight miles and a half.


The length of the peninsula130 which projects between the14 Euxine and Lake Mæotis, is not more than sixty-seven miles and a half, and the width across never less than two jugera:131 it has the name of Eion.132 The shores of the Bosporus then take a curve both on the side of Europe and of Asia, thus forming the Mæotis. The towns at the entrance of the Bosporus are, first Hermonassa,133 next Cepi,134 founded by the Milesians, and then Stratoclia and Phanagoria,135 and the almost deserted town of Apaturos,136 and, at the extremity of the mouth, Cimmerium,137 which was formerly called Cerberion. (7.) We then come to Lake Mæotis, which has been already mentioned138 in the description of Europe.


After passing Cimmerium, the coast139 is inhabited by the Mæotici, the Vali, the Serbi,140 the Arrechi, the Zingi, and the Psessi. We then come to the river Tanais,141 which discharges15 itself into the sea by two mouths, and the banks of which are inhabited by the Sarmatæ, the descendants of the Medi, it is said, a people divided into numerous tribes. The first of these are the Sauromatæ Gynæcocratumeni,142 the husbands of the Amazons. Next to them are the Ævazæ,143 the Coitæ,144 the Cicimeni, the Messeniani, the Costobocci, the Choatræ, the Zigæ,145 the Dandarii, the Thyssagetæ, and the Iyrcæ,146 as far as certain rugged deserts and densely wooded vallies, beyond which again are the Arimphæi,147 who extend as far as the Riphæan Mountains.148 The Scythians call the river Tanais by the name of Silis, and the Mæotis the Temarunda, meaning the “mother of the sea.” There is149 a city also at the mouth of the Tanais.16 The neighbouring country was inhabited first by the Carians, then by the Clazomenii and Mæones, and after them by the Panticapenses.150

There are some writers who state that there are the following nations dwelling around the Mæotis, as far as the Ceraunian mountains;151 at a short distance from the shore, the Napitæ, and beyond them, the Essedones, who join up to the Colchians, and dwell upon the summits of the mountains: after these again, the Camacæ, the Orani, the Autacæ, the Mazacasi, the Cantiocæ, the Agamathæ, the Pici, the Rimosoli, the Acascomarci, and, upon the ridges of the Caucasus, the Itacalæ, the Imadochi, the Rami, the Anclacæ, the Tydii, the Carastasei, and the Anthiandæ. The river Lagoüs runs from the Cathæan152 mountains, and into it flows the Opharus. Upon it are the tribes of the Cauthadæ, and the Opharitæ. Next to these are the rivers Menotharus and Imityes, which flow from the Cissian mountains, among the peoples called the Acdei, the Carnæ, the Oscardei, the Accisi, the Gabri, the Gogari, and, around the source of the Imityes, the Imityi, and the Apatræi. Some writers say that the Auchetæ, the Athernei, and the Asampatæ, Scythian tribes, have made inroads upon this territory, and have destroyed the Tanaitæ and the Inapæi to a man. Others again represent the Ocharius as running through the Cantici and the Sapæi, and the Tanais as passing through the territories of the Sarcharcei, the Herticei, the Spondolici, the Synhietæ, the Anasi, the Issi, the Catetæ, the Tagoræ, the Caroni, the Neripi, the Agandei, the Mandarei, the Satarchei, and the Spalei.


We have now gone over the coast which borders upon the17 Inner153 Sea, and have enumerated the various nations that dwell thereon; let us now turn to those vast tracts of land which lie further in the interior. I do not deny that in my description I shall differ very materially from the ancient writers, but still it is one that has been compiled with the most anxious research, from a full examination into the events which have transpired of late in these countries under the command of Domitius Corbulo,154 and from information received either from kings who have been sent thence to Rome, as suppliants for our mercy, or else the sons of kings who have visited us in the character of hostages.

We will begin then with the nation of the Cappadocians.

Of all the countries of Pontus, this155 extends the greatest distance into the interior.156 On the left157 it leaves behind the Lesser and the Greater Armenia, as well as Commagene, and on the right all the nations of the province of Asia which we have previously described. Spreading over numerous peoples, it rises rapidly in elevation in an easterly direction towards the range of Taurus. Then passing Lycaonia, Pisidia, and Cilicia, it advances above the district of Antiochia, the portion of it known as Cataonia extending as far as Cyrrhestica, which forms part of that district. The length of Asia158 here is twelve hundred and fifty miles, its breadth six hundred and forty.159


Greater Armenia,160 beginning at the mountains known as the18 Paryadres,161 is separated, as we have already stated,162 from Cappadocia by the river Euphrates, and, where that river turns off163 in its course, from Mesopotamia, by the no less famous river Tigris. Both of these rivers take their rise in Armenia, which also forms the commencement of Mesopotamia, a tract of country which lies between these streams; the intervening space between them being occupied by the Arabian Orei.164 It thus extends its frontier as far as Adiabene, at which point it is stopped short by a chain of mountains which takes a cross direction; whereupon the province extends in width to the left, crossing the course of the Araxes,165 as far as the river Cyrus;166 while in length it reaches as far as the Lesser Armenia,167 from which it is separated by the river Absarus, which flows into the Euxine, and by the mountains known as the Paryadres, in which the Absarus takes its rise.


The river Cyrus168 takes its rise in the mountains of the Heniochi, by some writers called the Coraxici; the Araxes rises in the same mountains as the river Euphrates, at a distance from it of six miles only;169 and after being increased by the waters19 of the Usis, falls itself, as many authors have supposed, into the Cyrus, by which it is carried into the Caspian Sea.

The more famous towns in Lesser Armenia are Cæsarea,170 Aza,171 and Nicopolis;172 in the Greater Arsamosata,173 which lies near the Euphrates, Carcathiocerta174 upon the Tigris, Tigranocerta175 which stands on an elevated site, and, on a plain adjoining the river Araxes, Artaxata.176 According to Aufidius, the circumference of the whole of Armenia is five thousand miles, while Claudius Cæsar makes the length, from Dascusa177 to the borders of the Caspian Sea, thirteen178 hundred miles, and the breadth, from Tigranocerta to Iberia,179 half that distance. It is a well-known fact, that this country is divided into prefectures, called “Strategies,” some of which singly formed a kingdom in former times; they are one hundred20 and twenty in number, with barbarous and uncouth names.180 On the east, it is bounded, though not immediately, by the Ceraunian Mountains and the district of Adiabene. The space that intervenes is occupied by the Sopheni, beyond whom is the chain of mountains,181 and then beyond them the inhabitants of Adiabene. Dwelling in the valleys adjoining to Armenia are the Menobardi and the Moscheni. The Tigris and inaccessible mountains surround Adiabene. To the left182 of it is the territory of the Medi, and in the distance is seen the Caspian Sea; which, as we shall state in the proper place, receives its waters from the ocean,183 and is wholly surrounded by the Caucasian Mountains. The inhabitants upon the confines of Armenia shall now be treated of.


The whole plain which extends away from the river Cyrus is inhabited by the nation of the Albani,184 and, after them,185 by that of the Iberi,186 who are separated from them by the river Alazon,187 which flows into the Cyrus from the Caucasian21 chain. The chief cities are Cabalaca,188 in Albania, Harmastis,189 near a river190 of Iberia, and Neoris; there is the region also of Thasie, and that of Triare, extending as far as the mountains known as the Paryadres. Beyond these191 are the deserts of Colchios, on the side of which that looks towards the Ceraunian Mountains dwell the Armenochalybes;192 and there is the country of the Moschi, extending to the river Iberus, which flows into the Cyrus; below them are the Sacassani, and after them the Macrones, upon the river Absarus. Such is the manner in which the plains and low country are parcelled out. Again, after passing the confines of Albania, the wild tribes of the Silvi inhabit the face of the mountains, below them those of the Lubieni, and after them the Diduri and the Sodii.


After passing the last, we come to the Gates of Caucasus,193 by many persons most erroneously called the Caspian Passes; a vast work of nature, which has suddenly wrenched asunder in this place a chain of mountains. At this spot are gates barred up with beams shod with iron, while beneath the middle there runs a stream which emits a most fetid odour; on this side of it is a rock, defended by a fortress, the name of which is Cumania,194 erected for the purpose of preventing the passage of the innumerable tribes that lie beyond. Here, then, we may see the habitable world severed into two parts by a pair22 of gates; they are just opposite to Harmastis, a town of the Iberi.

Beyond the Gates of Caucasus, in the Gordyæan Mountains, the Valli and the Suani, uncivilized tribes, are found; still, however, they work the mines of gold there. Beyond these nations, and extending as far away as Pontus, are numerous nations of the Heniochi, and, after them, of the Achæi. Such is the present state of one of the most famous tracts upon the face of the earth.

Some writers have stated that the distance between the Euxine and the Caspian Sea is not more than three hundred and seventy-five miles; Cornelius Nepos makes it only two hundred and fifty. Within such straits is Asia pent up in this second instance195 by the agency of the sea! Claudius Cæsar has informed us that from the Cimmerian Bosporus to the Caspian Sea is a distance of only one hundred and fifty196 miles, and that Nicator Seleucus197 contemplated cutting through this isthmus just at the time when he was slain by Ptolemy Ceraunus. It is a well-known fact that the distance from the Gates of Caucasus to the shores of the Euxine is two hundred miles.


The islands of the Euxine are the Planctæ or Cyaneæ,198 otherwise called Symplegades, and Apollonia, surnamed Thynias,199 to distinguish it from the island of that name200 in Europe; it is four miles in circumference, and one mile distant from the mainland. Opposite to Pharnacea201 is Chalceritis, to which the Greeks have given the name of Aria,20223 and consecrated it to Mars; here, they say, there were birds that used to attack strangers with blows of their wings.


Having now stated all that bears reference to the interior of Asia, let us cross in imagination the Riphæan203 Mountains, and traverse the shores of the ocean to the right. On three sides does this ocean wash the coasts of Asia, as the Scythian Ocean on the north, the Eastern Ocean on the east, and the Indian Ocean on the south; and it is again divided into various names, derived from the numerous gulfs which it forms, and the nations which dwell upon its shores. A great part of Asia, however, which lies exposed to the north, through the noxious effects of those freezing climates, consists of nothing but vast deserts. From the extreme north north-east to the point204 where the sun rises in the summer, it is the country of the Scythians. Still further than them, and beyond205 the point where north north-east begins, some writers have placed the Hyperborei, who are said, indeed, by the majority to be a people of Europe.206 After passing this point,20724 the first place that is known is Lytarmis,208 a promontory of Celtica, and next to it the river Carambucis,209 where the chain of the Riphæan Mountains terminates, and with it the extreme rigour of the climate; here, too, we have heard of a certain people being situate, called the Arimphæi,210 a race not much unlike the Hyperborei.211 Their habitations are the groves, and the berries their diet; long hair is held to be disgraceful by the women as well as the men, and they are mild in their manners. Hence it is that they are reported to be a sacred212 race, and are never molested even by the savage tribes which border upon them, and not only they, but such other persons as well as may have fled to them for refuge. Beyond these we come straight to the Scythians, the Cimmerii, the Cisianthi, the Georgi, and a nation of Amazons.213 These last extend to the Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea.214


Bursting through, this sea makes a passage from the Scythian Ocean into the back of Asia,215 receiving various names from the25 nations which dwell upon its banks, the two most famous of which are the Caspian and the Hyrcanian races. Clitarchus is of opinion that the Caspian Sea is not less in area than the Euxine. Eratosthenes gives the measure of it on the south-east, along the coast of Cadusia216 and Albania, as five thousand four hundred stadia; thence, through the territories of the Anariaci, the Amardi, and the Hyrcani, to the mouth of the river Zonus he makes four thousand eight hundred stadia, and thence to the mouth of the Jaxartes217 two thousand four hundred; which makes in all a distance of one thousand five hundred and seventy-five miles. Artemidorus, however, makes this sum smaller by twenty-five miles. Agrippa bounds the Caspian Sea and the nations around it, including Armenia, on the east by the Ocean of the Seres,218 on the west by the chain of the Caucasus, on the south by that of Taurus, and on the north by the Scythian Ocean; and he states it, so far as its extent is known, to be four hundred and eighty miles in length, and two hundred and ninety in breadth. There are not wanting, however, some authors who state that its whole circumference, from the Straits,219 is two thousand five hundred miles.

Its waters make their way into this sea by a very narrow mouth,220 but of considerable length; and where it begins to enlarge, it curves obliquely with horns in the form of a crescent, just as though it would make a descent from its mouth into Lake Mæotis, resembling a sickle in shape, as M. Varro says. The first221 of its gulfs is called the Scythian Gulf; it is inhabited on both sides, by the Scythians, who hold communication with each other across the Straits,222 the Nomades being on one side, together with the Sauromatæ, divided into26 tribes with numerous names, and on the other, the Abzoæ, who are also divided into an equal number. At the entrance, on the right hand side,223 dwell the Udini, a Scythian tribe, at the very angle of the mouth. Then along224 the coast there are the Albani, the descendants of Jason, it is said; that part of the sea which lies in front of them, bears the name of ‘Albanian.’ This nation, which lies along the Caucasian chain, comes down, as we have previously stated,225 as far as the river Cyrus, which forms the boundary of Armenia and Iberia. Above the maritime coast of Albania and the nation of the Udini, the Sarmatæ, the Utidorsi, and the Aroteres stretch along its shores, and in their rear the Sauromatian Amazons, already spoken of.226

The rivers which run through Albania in their course to the sea are the Casius227 and the Albanus,228 and then the Cambyses,229 which rises in the Caucasian mountains, and next to it the Cyrus, rising in those of the Coraxici, as already mentioned.230 Agrippa states that the whole of this coast, inaccessible from rocks of an immense height, is four hundred and twenty-five miles in length, beginning from the river Casius. After we pass the mouth of the Cyrus, it begins to be called the ‘Caspian Sea;’ the Caspii being a people who dwell upon its shores.

In this place it may be as well to correct an error into which many persons have fallen, and even those who lately took part with Corbulo in the Armenian war. The Gates of Iberia, which we have mentioned231 as the Caucasian, they have spoken of as being called the ‘Caspian,’ and the coloured plans which have been sent from those parts to Rome have that name written upon them. The menaced expedition, too, that was contemplated by the Emperor Nero, was said to be designed to extend as far as the Caspian Gates, whereas27 it was really intended for those which lead through Iberia into the territory of the Sarmatæ; there being hardly any possibility of approach to the Caspian Sea, by reason of the close juxtaposition of the mountains there. There are, however, other Caspian Gates, which join up to the Caspian tribes; but these can only be distinguished from a perusal of the narrative of those who took part in the expedition of Alexander the Great.


The kingdom of the Persians, by which we now understand that of Parthia, is elevated upon the Caucasian chain between two seas, the Persian and the Hyrcanian. To the Greater Armenia, which in the front slopes towards Commagene, is joined Sophene, which lies upon the descent232 on both sides thereof, and next to it is Adiabene, the most advanced frontier of Assyria; a part of which is Arbelitis,233 where Alexander conquered Darius, and which joins up to Syria. The whole of this country was called Mygdonia by the Macedonians, on account of the resemblance it bore to Mygdonia234 in Europe. Its cities are Alexandria,235 and Antiochia, also called Nisibis;236 this last place is distant from Artaxata seven hundred and fifty miles. There was also in former times Ninus,237 a most renowned city, on the banks of the Tigris, with an aspect towards the west. Adjoining the other front of Greater Armenia, which runs down towards the Caspian Sea, we find Atropatene,238 which28 is separated from Otene, a region of Armenia, by the river Araxes; Gazæ239 is its chief city, distant from Artaxata four hundred and fifty miles, and the same from Ecbatana in Media, to which country Atropatene belongs.


Ecbatana,240 the capital of Media, was built241 by king Seleucus, at a distance from Great Seleucia of seven hundred and fifty miles, and twenty miles from the Caspian Gates. The remaining towns of the Medians are Phazaca, Aganzaga, and Apamea,242 surnamed Rhagiane. The reason of these passes receiving the name of “Gates,” is the same that has been stated above.243 The chain of mountains is suddenly broken by a passage of such extreme narrowness that, for a distance of eight miles, a single chariot can barely find room to move along: the whole of this pass has been formed by artificial means. Both on the right hand and the left are overhanging rocks, which look as though they had been exposed to the action of fire; and there is a tract of country, quite destitute of water,29 twenty-eight miles in extent. This narrow pass, too, is rendered still more difficult by a liquid salt which oozes from the rocks, and uniting in a single stream, makes its way along the pass. Besides this, it is frequented by such multitudes of serpents, that the passage is quite impracticable except in winter.

(15.) Joining up to Adiabene are the people formerly known as the ‘Carduchi,’ now the Cordueni,244 in front of whom the river Tigris flows: and next to them are the Pratitæ, entitled the Par Odon,245 who hold possession of the Caspian Gates.246 On the other side247 of these gates we come to the deserts248 of Parthia and the mountain chain of Cithenus; and after that, the most pleasant locality of all Parthia, Choara249 by name. Here were two cities of the Parthians, built in former times for their protection against the people of Media, Calliope,250 and Issatis, the last of which stood formerly251 on a rock. Hecatompylos,252 the capital of Parthia, is distant from the Caspian Gates one hundred and thirty-three miles. In such an effectual manner is the kingdom of Parthia shut out by these passes. After leaving these gates we find the nation of the Caspii, extending as far as the shores of the Caspian, a race which has given its name to these gates as well as to the sea: on the left30 there is a mountainous district. Turning back253 from this nation to the river Cyrus, the distance is said to be two hundred and twenty miles; but if we go from that river as far down as the Caspian Gates, the distance is seven hundred254 miles. In the itineraries of Alexander the Great these gates were made the central or turning point in his expeditions; the distance from the Caspian Gates to the frontier of India being there set down as fifteen thousand six hundred and eighty255 stadia, to the city of Bactra,256 commonly called Zariaspa, three thousand seven hundred, and thence to the river Jaxartes257 five thousand stadia.


Lying to the east of the Caspii is the region known as Apavortene,258 in which there is a place noted for its singular fertility, called Dareium.259 We then come to the nations of the Tapyri,260 the Anariaci, the Staures, and the Hyrcani, past whose shores and beyond the river Sideris261 the Caspian begins to take the name of the ‘Hyrcanian’ Sea: on this side of that stream are also the rivers Maxeras and Strato; all of them take their rise in the Caucasian chain. Next comes31 the district of Margiane,262 so remarkable for its sunny climate. It is the only spot in all these regions that produces the vine, being shut in on every side by verdant and refreshing hills. This district is fifteen hundred stadia in circumference, but is rendered remarkably difficult of access by sandy deserts, which extend a distance of one hundred and twenty miles: it lies opposite to the country of Parthia, and in it Alexander founded the city of Alexandria. This place having been destroyed by the barbarians, Antiochus,263 the son of Seleucus, rebuilt it on the same site as a Syrian city.264 For, seeing that it was watered by the Margus,265 which passes through it, and is afterwards divided into a number of streams for the irrigation of the district of Zothale, he restored it, but preferred giving it the name of Antiochia.266 The circumference of this city is seventy stadia: it was to this place that Orodes conducted such of the Romans as had survived the defeat of Crassus. From the mountain heights of this district, along the range of Caucasus, the savage race of the Mardi, a free people, extends as far as the Bactri.267 Below the district inhabited by them, we find the nations of the Orciani, the Commori, the Berdrigæ, the Harmatotropi,268 the Citomaræ, the Comani, the Marucæi, and the Mandruani. The rivers here are the Mandrus and the Chindrus.269 Beyond the nations already mentioned, are the32 Chorasmii,270 the Candari,271 the Attasini, the Paricani, the Sarangæ, the Marotiani, the Aorsi,272 the Gaëli, by the Greek writers called Cadusii,273 the Matiani, the city of Heraclea,274 which was founded by Alexander, but was afterwards destroyed, and rebuilt by Antiochus, and by him called Achaïs; the Derbices also,275 through the middle of whose territory the river Oxus276 runs, after rising in Lake Oxus,277 the Syrmatæ, the Oxydracæ, the Heniochi, the Bateni, the Saraparæ, and the Bactri, whose chief city is Zariaspe, which afterwards received the name of Bactra, from the river278 there. This last nation lies at the33 back of Mount Paropanisus,279 over against the sources of the river Indus, and is bounded by the river Ochus.280 Beyond it are the Sogdiani,281 the town of Panda, and, at the very extremity of their territory, Alexandria,282 founded by Alexander the Great. At this spot are the altars which were raised by Hercules and Father Liber, as also by Cyrus, Semiramis, and Alexander; for the expeditions of all these conquerors stopped short at this region, bounded as it is by the river Jaxartes, by the Scythians known as the Silis, and by Alexander and his officers supposed to have been the Tanais. This river was crossed by Demodamas, a general of kings Seleucus and Antiochus, and whose account more particularly we have here followed. He also consecrated certain altars here to Apollo Didymæus.283


Beyond this river are the peoples of Scythia. The Persians have called them by the general name of Sacæ,284 which properly34 belongs to only the nearest nation of them. The more ancient writers give them the name of Aramii. The Scythians themselves give the name of “Chorsari” to the Persians, and they call Mount Caucasus Graucasis, which means “white with snow.” The multitude of these Scythian nations is quite innumerable: in their life and habits they much resemble the people of Parthia. The tribes among them that are better known are the Sacæ, the Massagetæ,285 the Dahæ,286 the Essedones,287 the Ariacæ,288 the Rhymmici, the Pæsici, the Amardi,289 the Histi, the Edones, the Camæ, the Camacæ, the Euchatæ,290 the Cotieri, the Anthusiani, the Psacæ, the Arimaspi,291 the Antacati, the Chroasai, and the35 Œtei; among them the Napæi292 are said to have been destroyed by the Palæi. The rivers in their country that are the best known, are the Mandragæus and the Carpasus. Indeed upon no subject that I know of are there greater discrepancies among writers, from the circumstance, I suppose, of these nations being so extremely numerous, and of such migratory habits. Alexander the Great has left it stated that the water of this sea293 is fresh, and M. Varro informs us, that some of it, of a similar character, was brought to Pompey, when holding the chief command in the Mithridatic war in its vicinity; the salt,294 no doubt, being overpowered by the volume of water discharged by the rivers which flow into it. He adds also, that under the direction of Pompey, it was ascertained that it is seven days’ journey from India to the river Icarus,295 in the country of the Bactri, which discharges itself into the Oxus, and that the merchandize of India being conveyed from it296 through the Caspian Sea into the Cyrus, may be brought by land to Phasis in Pontus, in five days at most. There are numerous islands throughout the whole of the Caspian sea: the only one that is well known is that of Tazata.297


After we have passed the Caspian Sea and the Scythian Ocean, our course takes an easterly direction, such being the36 turn here taken by the line of the coast. The first portion298 of these shores, after we pass the Scythian Promontory, is totally uninhabitable, owing to the snow, and the regions adjoining are uncultivated, in consequence of the savage state of the nations which dwell there. Here are the abodes of the Scythian Anthropophagi,299 who feed on human flesh. Hence it is that all around them consists of vast deserts, inhabited by multitudes of wild beasts, which are continually lying in wait, ready to fall upon human beings just as savage as themselves. After leaving these, we again come to a nation of the Scythians, and then again to desert tracts tenanted by wild beasts, until we reach a chain of mountains which runs up to the sea, and bears the name of Tabis.300 It is not, however, before we have traversed very nearly one half of the coast that looks towards the north-east, that we find it occupied by inhabitants.

The first people that are known of here are the Seres,301 so famous for the wool that is found in their forests.302 After steeping it in water, they comb off a white down that adheres to the leaves; and then to the females of our part of the world they give the twofold task303 of unravelling their textures, and of weaving37 the threads afresh. So manifold is the labour, and so distant are the regions which are thus ransacked to supply a dress through which our ladies may in public display304 their charms. The Seres are of inoffensive manners, but, bearing a strong resemblance therein to all savage nations, they shun all intercourse with the rest of mankind, and await the approach305 of those who wish to traffic with them. The first river that is known in their territory is the Psitharas,306 next to that the Cambari, and the third the Laros; after which we come to the Promontory of Chryse,307 the Gulf of Cynaba, the river Atianos, and the nation of the Attacori on the gulf of that name, a people protected by their sunny hills from all noxious blasts, and living in a climate of the same temperature as that of the Hyperborei. Amometus has written a work entirely devoted to the history of these people, just as Hecatæus has done in his treatise on the Hyperborei. After the Attacori, we find the nations of the Phruri and the Tochari, and, in the interior, the Casiri, a people of India, who look toward the Scythians, and feed38 on human flesh. Here are also numerous wandering Nomad tribes of India. There are some authors who state that in a north-easterly direction these nations touch upon the Cicones308 and the Brysari.


But we come now to nations as to which there is a more general agreement among writers. Where the chain of Emodus309 rises, the nations of India begin, which borders not only on the Eastern sea, but on the Southern as well, which we have already mentioned310 as being called the Indian Ocean. That part which faces the east runs in a straight line a distance of eighteen hundred and seventy-five miles until it comes to a bend, at which the Indian Ocean begins. Here it takes a turn to the south, and continues to run in that direction a distance of two thousand four hundred and seventy-five miles, according to Eratosthenes, as far as the river Indus, the boundary of India on the west.311 Many authors have represented the entire length of the Indian coast as being forty days’ and nights’ sail, and as being, from north to south, two thousand eight hundred and fifty miles. Agrippa states its length to be three thousand three hundred miles, and its breadth, two thousand three hundred. Posidonius has given its measurement as lying from north-east to south-east, placing it opposite to Gaul, of which country he has given the measurement as lying from north-west to south-west; making the whole of India to lie due west of Gaul. Hence, as he has shewn by undoubted proofs, India lying opposite to Gaul must be refreshed39 by the blowing of that wind,312 and derive its salubrity therefrom.

In this region, the appearance of the heavens is totally changed, and quite different is the rising of the stars; there are two summers in the year, and two harvests, while the winter intervenes between them during the time that the Etesian313 winds are blowing: during our winter too, they enjoy light breezes, and their seas are navigable. In this country there are nations and cities which would be found to be quite innumerable, if a person should attempt to enumerate them. For it has been explored not only by the arms of Alexander the Great and of the kings who succeeded him, by Seleucus and Antiochus, who sailed round even to the Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea, and by Patrocles,314 the admiral of their fleet, but has been treated of by several other Greek writers who resided at the courts of Indian kings, such, for instance, as Megasthenes, and by Dionysius, who was sent thither by Philadelphus, expressly for the purpose: all of whom have enlarged upon the power and vast resources of these nations. Still, however, there is no possibility of being rigorously exact, so different are the accounts given, and often of a nature so incredible. The followers of Alexander the Great have stated in their writings, that there were no less than five thousand cities in that portion of India which they40 vanquished by force of arms, not one of which was smaller than that of Cos;315 that its nations were eight in number, that India forms one-third of the whole earth, and that its populations are innumerable—a thing which is certainly far from improbable, seeing that the Indians are nearly the only race of people who have never migrated from their own territories. From the time of Father Liber316 to that of Alexander the Great, one hundred and fifty-three kings of India are reckoned, extending over a period of six thousand four hundred and fifty-one years and three months. The vast extent of their rivers is quite marvellous; it is stated that on no one day did Alexander the Great sail less than six hundred stadia317 on the Indus, and still was unable to reach its mouth in less than five months and some few days: and yet it is a well-known fact that this river is not so large as the Ganges.318 Seneca, one of our fellow-countrymen, who has written a treatise319 upon the subject of India, has given its rivers as sixty-five in number, and its nations as one hundred and eighteen. The difficulty too would be quite as great, if we were to attempt to enumerate its mountains. The chains of Emaüs, of Emodus, of Paropanisus, and of Caucasus, are all connected, the one with the other; and from their foot, the country of India runs down in the form of a vast plain, bearing a very considerable resemblance to that of Egypt.

However, that we may come to a better understanding relative to the description of these regions, we will follow in the track of Alexander the Great. Diognetus and Bæton, whose duty it was to ascertain the distances and length of his expeditions, have written that from the Caspian Gates to Hecatompylon, the city of the Parthians, the distance is the number of miles which we have already320 stated; and that from thence to Alexandria,321 of the Arii, which city was founded by the same king, the distance is five hundred and seventy-five miles; from thence to Prophthasia,322 the city of the Drangæ, one41 hundred and ninety-nine; from thence to the city of the Arachosii,323 five hundred and sixty-five; from thence to Ortospanum,324 one hundred and seventy-five; and from thence to the city built by Alexander,325 fifty, miles. In some copies, however, the numbers are found differently stated; and we find this last city even placed at the very foot of Mount Caucasus! From this place to the river Cophes326 and Peucolaitis, a city of India, is two hundred and thirty-seven miles; from thence to the river Indus and the city of Taxilla327 sixty; from thence to the famous river Hydaspes328 one hundred and twenty; and from thence to the Hypasis,329 a river no less famous, two hundred and ninety miles, and three hundred and ninety paces. This last was the extreme limit of the expedition of Alexander, though he crossed the river and dedicated certain altars330 on the opposite side. The dispatches written by order of that king fully agree with the distances above stated.

The remaining distances beyond the above point were ascertained on the expedition of Seleucus Nicator. They are, to the river Sydrus,331 one hundred and sixty-eight miles; to the river Jomanes, the same; some copies, however, add42 to this last distance five miles; thence to the Ganges, one hundred and twelve miles; to Rhodapha, five hundred and sixty-nine—though, according to some writers, this last distance is only three hundred and twenty-five miles; to the town of Calinipaxa,332 one hundred and sixty-seven, according to some, two hundred and sixty-five; thence to the confluence of the river Jomanes333 and Ganges, six hundred and twenty-five; most writers, however, add thirteen miles to this last distance; thence to the city of Palibothra,334 four hundred and twenty-five—and thence to the mouth of the Ganges, six hundred and thirty-seven miles and a half.

The nations whom it may be not altogether inopportune to mention, after passing the Emodian Mountains, a cross range of which is called “Imaus,” a word which, in the language of the natives, signifies “snowy,”335 are the Isari, the Cosyri, the Izi, and, upon the chain of mountains, the Chisiotosagi, with numerous peoples, which have the surname of Brachmanæ,336 among whom are the Maccocalingæ. There are also the rivers Prinas and Cainas,337 which last flows into the Ganges, both of them navigable streams. The nation of the Calingæ33843 comes nearest to the sea, and above them are the Mandei and the Malli.339 In the territory of the last-named people is a mountain called Mallus: the boundary of this region is the river Ganges.

CHAP. 22. (18.)—THE GANGES.

Some writers have stated that this river, like the Nile, takes its rise from unknown sources,340 and, in a similar manner, waters the neighbouring territory; others, again, say that it rises in the mountains of Scythia. They state also that nineteen rivers discharge their waters into it; those among them that are navigable, besides the rivers already mentioned,341 are the Condochates,342 the Erannoboas,343 the Cosoagus,344 and the Sonus. Other writers again say that it bursts forth at its very source with a loud noise, hurling itself over rocks and precipices; and that after it has reached the plains, its waters become more tranquil, and it pauses for a time in a certain lake, after which it flows gently on. They say also that it is eight miles in breadth, where it is the very narrowest, and44 one hundred stadia where it is but moderately wide, and that it is nowhere less than twenty paces in depth. The last nation situate on the banks of the Ganges is that of the Gangarides345 Calingæ; the city where their king dwells has the name of Protalis.346

(19.) This king has sixty thousand foot-soldiers, one thousand horse, and seven hundred elephants, always caparisoned ready for battle. The people of the more civilized nations of India are divided into several classes.347 One of these classes till the earth, another attends to military affairs, others again are occupied in mercantile pursuits, while the wisest and the most wealthy among them have the management of the affairs of state—act as judges, and give counsel to the king. The fifth class,348 entirely devoting themselves to the pursuit of wisdom, which in these countries is almost held in the same veneration as religion, always349 end their life by a voluntary death upon the lighted pile. In addition to these, there is a class350 in a half-savage state, and doomed to endless labour; by means of their exertions, all the classes previously mentioned are supported. It is their duty to hunt351 the elephant, and to tame him when captured; for it is by the aid of these animals that they plough; by these animals they are conveyed45 from place to place; these in especial they look upon as constituting their flocks and herds; by their aid they wage their wars, and fight in defence of their territories. Strength, age, and size, are the points usually considered in making choice of these animals.

In the Ganges there is an island of very considerable size, inhabited by a single nation; it is called Modogalinga.352 Beyond the Ganges are situate the Modubæ, the Molindæ, the Uberæ, with a magnificent city of the same name, the Modresi, the Preti, the Caloæ, the Sasuri, the Passalæ, the Colobæ, the Orumcolæ, the Abali, and the Thalutæ. The king of the last-named people has fifty thousand foot-soldiers, four thousand horse, and four hundred armed elephants. We next come to a still more powerful nation, the Andaræ,353 who dwell in numerous villages, as well as thirty cities fortified with walls and towers. They furnish for their king one hundred thousand foot, two thousand horse, and a thousand elephants. The country of the Dardæ354 is the most productive of gold, that of the Setæ of silver.

But more famous and more powerful than any nation, not only in these regions, but throughout almost the whole of India, are the Prasii, who dwell in a city of vast extent and of remarkable opulence, called Palibothra;355 from which circumstance some writers have given to the people themselves the name of Palibothri, and, indeed, to the whole tract of country between the Ganges and the Indus. These people keep on daily pay in their king’s service an army, consisting of six hundred thousand foot, thirty thousand horse, and nine thousand elephants, from which we may easily form a conjecture as to the vast extent of their resources. Behind these46 people, and lying still more in the interior, are the Monedes, and the Suari,356 among whom is a mountain known as Maleus, upon which the shadow falls to the north in winter, and to the south in summer, six months alternately. In this district the Constellation of the Greater Bear357 is seen at only one period in the year, and then but for fifteen days, according to what Bæton states. Megasthenes, however, informs us that the same is the case also in many other localities of India. The South Pole is by the Indians called Diamasa.

The river Jomanes runs into the Ganges through the territory of the Palibothri, between the cities of Methora358 and Chrysobora.359 In the regions which lie to the south360 of the Ganges, the people are tinted by the heat of the sun, so much so as to be quite coloured, but yet not burnt black, like the Æthiopians. The nearer361 they approach the Indus, the deeper their colour, a proof of the heat of the climate. After leaving the nation of the Prasii, we immediately come to the Indus; in the mountains of the Prasii a race of Pygmies is said to exist. Artemidorus says that between these two rivers there is a distance of two thousand one hundred miles.

CHAP. 23. (20.)—THE INDUS.

The Indus, called Sindis by the natives, rises in that branch of the Caucasian range which bears the name of Paropanisus,36247 and runs in an easterly direction, receiving in its course the waters of nineteen rivers. The most famous of these are the Hydaspes,363 into which four other rivers have already discharged themselves, the Cantaba,364 which receives three other rivers, the Acesinus, and the Hypasis,365 which last two are navigable themselves. Still however, so moderate, as it were, do the waters of this river show themselves in their course, that it is never more than fifty stadia in width, nor does it ever exceed fifteen paces in depth. Of two islands, which it forms in its course, the one, which is known as Prasiane, is of very considerable size; the other, which is smaller, is called Patale. According to the accounts given by the most moderate writers, this river is navigable for a distance of twelve hundred and fifty miles, and after following the sun’s course to the west, in some degree, discharges itself into the ocean. I will here give the distances of various places situate on the coast to the mouth of this river, in a general way, just as I find them stated, although they none of them tally with each other.

From the mouth of the Ganges to the Promontory of the Calingi and the town of Dandaguda,366 is six hundred and twenty-five miles; from thence to Tropina twelve hundred and twenty-five; from thence to the promontory of Perimula, where is held the most celebrated mart in all India, seven hundred and fifty, and from thence to the city of Patala, in the island just mentioned, six hundred and twenty miles.

The mountain races between the Indus and the Jomanes are the Cesi,367 the Cetriboni, who dwell in the woods, and after them the Megallæ, whose king possesses five hundred elephants, and an army of horse and foot, the numbers of which are unknown; then the Chrysei, the Parasangæ, and the Asmagi,368 whose territory is infested by wild tigers; these people keep in arms thirty48 thousand foot, three hundred elephants, and eight hundred horse. They are bounded by the river Indus, and encircled by a range of mountains and deserts for a distance of six hundred and twenty-five miles. Below these deserts are the Dari and the Suræ, and then deserts again for one hundred and eighty-seven miles, sands in general encircling these spots just as islands are surrounded by the sea. Below these deserts, again, are the Maltecoræ, the Singæ, the Marohæ, the Rarungæ, and the Morontes. These last peoples, who possess the mountains throughout the whole range of country as far as the shores of the ocean, are free, and independent of all kings, and hold numerous cities upon the declivities of the mountains. After them come the Nareæ,369 who are bounded by Capitalia, the most lofty of all the Indian peaks: the inhabitants who dwell on the other side of it have extensive mines of gold and silver. After these again are the Oratæ, whose king possesses only ten elephants, but a large army of foot; next come the Suarataratæ, who live under the rule of a king as well, but breed no elephants, as they depend solely on their horse and foot; then the Odonbeores, the Arabastræ, and the Horacæ, which last inhabit a fine city fortified by trenches cut in the marshes. It is quite impossible to approach the city, except by the bridge, as the water in the trenches is full of crocodiles, an animal most insatiate for human flesh. There is another city also in their territory, which has been greatly extolled, Automula by name, situate on the sea-shore, a famous mart, lying at the point of confluence of five rivers: their king possesses sixteen hundred elephants, one hundred and fifty thousand foot, and five thousand horse. The king of the Charmæ is a less opulent potentate; he has only sixty elephants and some small remains of his former strength. After these we come to the nation of the Pandæ,370 the only one throughout all India which is ruled by women. It is said that Hercules had but one child of the female sex, for which reason she was his especial favourite, and he bestowed upon her the principal one of these kingdoms. The sovereigns who49 derive their origin from this female, rule over three hundred towns, and have an army of one hundred and fifty thousand foot, and five hundred elephants. After passing through this list of three hundred cities, we come to the Darangæ,371 the Posingæ, the Butæ, the Gogaræi, the Umbræ, the Nereæ, the Brancosi, the Nobundæ, the Cocondæ, the Nesei, the Palatitæ, the Salobriasæ, and the Olostræ, who reach up to the island of Patala, from the extremity of whose shores to the Caspian Gates it is a distance of nineteen hundred and twenty-five miles.

After passing this island, the other side of the Indus is occupied, as we know by clear and undoubted proofs, by the Athoæ, the Bolingæ, the Gallitalutæ, the Dimuri, the Megari, the Ardabæ, the Mesæ, and after them, the Uri and the Silæ; beyond which last there are desert tracts, extending a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. After passing these nations, we come to the Organagæ, the Abortæ, the Bassuertæ, and, after these last, deserts similar to those previously mentioned. We then come to the peoples of the Sorofages, the Arbæ, the Marogomatræ, the Umbrittæ, of whom there are twelve nations, each with two cities, and the Asini, a people who dwell in three cities, their capital being Bucephala,372 which was founded around the tomb of the horse belonging to king Alexander, which bore that name. Above these peoples there are some mountain tribes, which lie at the foot of Caucasus, the Soseadæ and the Sondræ, and, after passing the Indus and going down its stream, the Samarabriæ, the Sambraceni, the Bisambritæ, the Orsi, the Anixeni, and the Taxilæ, with a famous city,373 which lies on a low but level plain, the general name of the district being Amenda: there are four nations50 here, the Peucolaitæ,374 the Arsagalitæ, the Geretæ, and the Assoï.

The greater part of the geographers, in fact, do not look upon India as bounded by the river Indus, but add to it the four Satrapies of the Gedrosi,375 the Arachotæ,376 the Arii,377 and the Paropanisidæ,378 the river Cophes379 thus forming the extreme boundary of India. All these territories, however, according to other writers, are reckoned as belonging to the country of the Arii. (21.) Many writers, too, place in India the city of Nysa,380 and the mountain of Merus, sacred to Father Bacchus; in which circumstance381 originated the story that he sprang from the thigh of Jupiter. They also place here the nation of the Astacani, whose country abounds in the vine, the laurel, the box-tree, and all the fruits which are produced in Greece. As to those wonderful and almost fabulous stories which are related about the fertility of the soil, and the various kinds of fruits and trees, as well as wild beasts, and birds, and other sorts of animals, they shall be mentioned each in its proper51 place, in a future portion of this work. I shall also very shortly have to make some further mention of the four Satrapies, it being at present my wish to hasten to a description of the island of Taprobane.

But first there are some other islands of which we must make mention. Patala,382 as we have already stated, lies at the mouth of the Indus: it is of a triangular figure, and is two hundred and twenty miles in breadth. Beyond the mouth of the Indus are the islands of Chryse and Argyre,383 abounding in metals, I believe; but as to what some persons have stated, that their soil consists of gold and silver, I am not so willing to give a ready credence to that. After passing these islands we come to Crocala,384 twenty miles in breadth, and then, at twelve miles’ distance from it, Bibraga,385 abounding in oysters and other shell-fish. At eight miles’ distance from Bibraga we find Toralliba, and many others of no note.

CHAP. 24. (22.)—TAPROBANE.

Taprobane,386 under the name of the “land of the Antichthones,”387 was long looked upon as another world: the age and the arms of Alexander the Great were the first to give satisfactory proof that it is an island. Onesicritus, the commander of his fleet, has informed us that the elephants of this island are larger, and better adapted for warfare than those of India; and from Megasthenes we learn that it is divided by a river, that the inhabitants have the name of Palæogoni,388 and that their52 country is more productive of gold and pearls of great size than even India. Eratosthenes has also given the dimensions of this island, as being seven thousand stadia in length, and five thousand in breadth: he states also that there are no cities, but villages to the number of seven hundred.389 It begins at the Eastern sea, and lies extended opposite to India, east and west. This island was in former times supposed to be twenty days’ sail from the country of the Prasii,390 but in later times, whereas the navigation was formerly confined to vessels constructed of papyrus with the tackle peculiar to the Nile, the distance has been estimated at no more than seven days’391 sail, in reference to the speed which can be attained by vessels of our construction. The sea that lies between the island and the mainland is full of shallows, not more than six paces in depth; but in certain channels it is of such extraordinary depth, that no anchor has ever found a bottom. For this reason it is that the vessels are constructed with prows at either end; so that there may be no necessity for tacking while navigating these channels, which are extremely narrow. The tonnage of these vessels is three thousand amphoræ.392 In traversing their seas, the people of Taprobane take no observations of the stars, and indeed the Greater Bear393 is not visible to them; but they carry birds out to sea, which they let go from time to time, and so follow their course as they make for the land. They devote only four months in the year to the pursuits of navigation, and are particularly careful not to trust themselves on the sea during the next hundred days after our summer solstice, for in those seas it is at that time the middle of winter.


Thus much we learn from the ancient writers; it has fallen to our lot, however, to obtain a still more accurate knowledge of these people; for during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, an embassy came from even this distant island to Rome. The circumstances under which this took place were as follow: Annius Plocamus had farmed from the treasury the revenues arising from the Red Sea. A certain freedman of his, while sailing around Arabia, was carried away by a gale from the north beyond the coast of Carmania. In the course of fifteen days he had drifted to Hippuros, a port of Taprobane, where he was most kindly and hospitably received by the king; and having, after a study of six months, become well acquainted with the language, was enabled to answer all his enquiries relative to the Romans and their emperor. But of all that he heard, the king was more particularly struck with surprise at our rigid notions of justice, on ascertaining that among the money found on the captive, the denarii were all of equal weight, although the different figures on them plainly showed that they had been struck in the reigns of several emperors. By this circumstance in especial, the king was prompted to form an alliance with the Romans, and accordingly sent to Rome an embassy, consisting of four persons, the chief of whom was Rachias.394

From these persons we learned that in Taprobane there are five hundred towns, and that there is a harbour that lies facing the south, and adjoining the city of Palæsimundus,395 the most famous city in the isle, the king’s place of residence, and containing a population of two hundred thousand. They also informed us that in the interior there is a lake called Megisba, three hundred and seventy-five miles in circumference, and containing islands which are fertile, though for pasturage only. In this lake they informed us two rivers take their rise, one of which, called Palæsimundus, flows into the harbour near the city of that name, by three channels, the narrowest of which is five stadia in width, the largest fifteen; while the other, Cydara by name, takes a direction northward, towards the Indian coast. We learned also54 that the nearest point of the Indian coast is a promontory known as Coliacum,396 distant from the island four days’ sail, and that midway between them lies the island of the Sun. They stated also that those seas are of a deep green tint; besides which, there are numerous trees growing at the bottom, so much so, that the rudders of the vessels frequently break off portions of their foliage.397 They were much astonished at the constellations which are visible to us, the Greater Bear and the Pleiades,398 as though they had now beheld a new expanse of the heavens; and they declared that in their country the moon can only be seen above the horizon399 from the eighth to its sixteenth day. They also stated that Canopus, a large bright star, gives light to them by night. But what surprised them more than anything, was that the shadow of their bodies was thrown towards our hemisphere400 and not theirs, and that the sun arose on the left hand and set on the right, and not in the opposite direction.401 They also informed us that the side of their island which lies opposite to India is ten thousand stadia in length, and runs in a south-easterly direction—that beyond the Emodian Mountains they look towards402 the Seræ, whose55 acquaintance they had also made in the pursuits of commerce; that the father of Rachias had frequently visited their country, and that the Seræ always came to meet them on their arrival. These people, they said, exceeded the ordinary human height, had flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and made an uncouth sort of noise by way of talking, having no language of their own for the purpose of communicating their thoughts. The rest of their information403 was of a similar nature to that communicated by our merchants. It was to the effect that the merchandize on sale was left by them upon the opposite bank of a river on their coast, and it was then removed by the natives, if they thought proper to deal on terms of exchange. On no grounds ought luxury with greater reason to be detested by us, than if we only transport our thoughts to these scenes, and then reflect, what are its demands, to what distant spots it sends in order to satisfy them, and for how mean and how unworthy an end!

But yet Taprobane even, isolated as it is by nature from the rest of the world, is not exempt from our vices. Gold and silver are held in esteem even there. They have a marble which resembles tortoise-shell in appearance; this, as well as their pearls and precious stones, is highly valued; all our luxuries in fact, those even of the most exquisite nature, are there carried to the very highest pitch. They asserted that their wealth is much greater than ours, but admitted that we know better than they how to obtain real enjoyment from opulence.

In this island no slavery exists; they do not prolong their sleep to day-break, nor indeed during any part of the day; their buildings are only of a moderate height from the ground; the price of corn is always the same; they have no courts of law and no litigation. Hercules is the deity whom they worship;56 and their king is chosen by the people, an aged man always, distinguished for his mild and clement disposition, and without children. If after he has been elected king, he happens to become the father of children, his abdication is the consequence; this is done that there may be no danger of the sovereign power becoming hereditary. Thirty advisers are provided for him by the people, and it is only by the advice of the majority of them that any man is condemned to capital punishment. Even then, the person so condemned has a right of appealing to the people, in which case a jury consisting of seventy persons is appointed. Should these acquit the accused, the thirty counsellors are no longer held in any estimation, but are visited with the greatest disgrace. The king wears the costume of Father Liber,404 while the rest of the people dress like the natives of Arabia. The king, if he is found guilty of any offence, is condemned to death; but no one slays him; all turn their backs upon him, and refuse to hold any communication or even discourse with him. Their festivals are celebrated405 with the chase, the most valued sports being the pursuit of the tiger and the elephant. The lands are carefully tilled; the vine is not cultivated there, but of other fruits there is great abundance. They take great delight in fishing, and especially in catching turtles; beneath the shells406 of which whole families find an abode, of such vast size are they to be found. These people look upon a hundred years as a comparatively short life. Thus much have we learned respecting Taprobane.


We will now proceed to give some further particulars57 relative to the four Satrapies, of which we have postponed further mention407 till the present occasion.

(23). After passing the nations in the vicinity of the Indus, we come to the mountain districts. The territory of Capisene formerly had a city, called Capisa,408 which was destroyed by Cyrus. Arachosia409 has a river and a city of the same name; the city was built by Semiramis; by some writers it is called Cophen. The river Erymanthus410 flows past Parabeste,411 which belongs to the Arachosii. Writers make the Dexendrusi come next, forming the boundary of the Arachotæ on the southern side, and of the Paropanisadæ on the north. The city of Cartana412 lies at the foot of Caucasus; in later times it has been called Tetragonis.413 This region lies over against that of the Bactri, who come next, and whose chief city is Alexandria,414 so called from the name of its founder. We then come to the Syndraci,415 the58 Dangalæ,416 the Parapinæ,417 the Catuces, and the Mazi: and then at the foot of Caucasus, to the Cadrusi, whose town418 was built by Alexander.

Below all these countries, is the line of coast which we come to after leaving the Indus. Ariana419 is a region parched by the sun and surrounded by deserts; still, however, as the face of the country is every here and there diversified with well-shaded spots, it finds communities grouped together to cultivate it, and more especially around the two rivers, known as the Tonberos420 and the Arosapes.421 There is also the town of Artacoana,422 and the river Arius,423 which flows past Alexandria,424 a city founded by Alexander; this place is thirty stadia in extent. Much more beautiful than it, as well as of much greater antiquity, is Artacabane,425 fortified a second time by Antiochus, and fifty stadia in breadth. We then come to the nation of the Dorisdorsigi, and the rivers Pharnaracotis,42659 and Ophradus; and then to Prophthasia,427 a city of the Zaraspades, the Drangæ,428 the Evergetæ,429 the Zarangæ, and the Gedrusi;430 the towns of Pucolis, Lyphorta, the desert of the Methorgi,431 the river Manais,432 the nation of the Acutri, the river Eorum, the nation of the Orbi, the Pomanus, a navigable river in the territories of the Pandares, the Apirus in the country of the Suari, with a good harbour at its mouth, the city of Condigramma, and the river Cophes;433 into which last flow the navigable streams of the Saddaros,434 the Parospus, and the Sodanus. Some writers will also have it that Daritis435 forms part of Ariana, and give the length of them both as nineteen hundred and fifty miles, and the breadth one half of that436 of India. Others again have spread the Gedrusi and the Pasires over an extent of one hundred and thirty-eight miles, and place next to them the Ichthyophagi Oritæ,437 a people who speak a language peculiar to themselves, and not the Indian dialect, extending over a space of two hundred miles. Alexander forbade the whole of the Ichthyophagi438 to live any60 longer on fish. Next after these the writers have placed extensive deserts, and then Carmania, Persia, and Arabia.


But before we enter into any details respecting these countries, it will be as well to mention what Onesicritus439 has stated, who commanded the fleet of Alexander, and sailed from India440 into the heart of Persia, and what has been more recently related by Juba; after which I shall speak of the route along these seas which has been discovered in later years and is followed at the present day. The journal of the voyage of Onesicritus and Nearchus has neither the names of the stations, nor yet the distances set down in it; and, first of all, it is not sufficiently explained where Xylenepolis was, and near what river, a place founded by Alexander, and from which, upon setting out, they took their departure. Still, however, the following places are mentioned by them, which are worthy of our notice. The town of Arbis, founded by Nearchus on the occasion of this voyage; the river Nabrus,441 navigable for vessels, and opposite to it an island, at a distance of seventy stadia; Alexandria, built by Leonnatus442 by order of Alexander in the territories of this people; Argenus, with a very convenient harbour; the river Tonberos,443 a navigable stream, around whose banks are the Pasiræ; then come the Ichthyophagi, who extend over so large a tract of coast that it took thirty days444 to sail past their territory; and an island known by the names of the “Island of the Sun”445 and the “Bed61 of the Nymphs,” the earth of which is red, and in which every animal instantly dies; the cause of which, however, has not been ascertained.446 Next to these is the nation of the Ori, and then the Hyctanis,447 a river of Carmania, with an excellent harbour at its mouth, and producing gold; at this spot the writers state that for the first time they caught sight of the Great Bear.448 The star Arcturus too, they tell us, was not to be seen here every night, and never, when it was seen, during the whole of it. Up to this spot extended the empire of the Achæmenidæ,449 and in these districts are to be found mines of copper, iron, arsenic, and red lead.

They next came to the Promontory of Carmania,450 from which the distance across to the opposite coast, where the Macæ, a nation of Arabia, dwell, is fifty miles; and then to three islands, of which that of Oracla451 is alone inhabited, being the only one supplied with fresh water; it is distant from the mainland twenty-five miles; quite in the Gulf, and facing Persia, there are four other islands. About these islands sea-serpents452 were seen swimming towards them, twenty cubits in length, which struck the fleet with great alarm. They then came to the island of Athothradus, and those called the Gauratæ, upon which dwells the nation of the Gyani; the river Hyperis,453 which discharges itself midway into the Persian Gulf, and is navigable for merchant ships; the river62 Sitiogagus, from which to Pasargadæ454 is seven days’ sail; a navigable river known as the Phristimus, and an island without a name; and then the river Granis,455 navigable for vessels of small burden, and flowing through Susiane; the Deximontani, a people who manufacture bitumen, dwell on its right bank. The river Zarotis comes next, difficult of entrance at its mouth, except by those who are well acquainted with it; and then two small islands; after which the fleet sailed through shallows which looked very much like a marsh, but were rendered navigable by certain channels which had been cut there. They then arrived at the mouth of the Euphrates, and from thence passed into a lake which is formed by the rivers Eulæus456 and Tigris, in the vicinity of Charax,457 after which they arrived at Susa,458 on the river Tigris. Here, after a voyage of three months, they found Alexander celebrating a festival, seven months after he had left them at Patale.459 Such was the voyage performed by the fleet of Alexander.

In later times it has been considered a well-ascertained fact that the voyage from Syagrus,460 the Promontory of Arabia, to Patale, reckoned at thirteen hundred and thirty-five miles, can be performed most advantageously with the63 aid of a westerly wind, which is there known by the name of Hippalus.

The age that followed pointed out a shorter route, and a safer one, to those who might happen to sail from the same promontory for Sigerus, a port of India; and for a long time this route was followed, until at last a still shorter cut was discovered by a merchant, and the thirst for gain brought India even still nearer to us. At the present day voyages are made to India every year: and companies of archers are carried on board the vessels, as those seas are greatly infested with pirates.

It will not be amiss too, on the present occasion, to set forth the whole of the route from Egypt, which has been stated to us of late, upon information on which reliance may be placed, and is here published for the first time. The subject is one well worthy of our notice, seeing that in no year does India drain our empire of less than five hundred and fifty millions461 of sesterces, giving back her own wares in exchange, which are sold among us at fully one hundred times their prime cost.

Two miles distant from Alexandria is the town of Juliopolis.462 The distance thence to Coptos, up the Nile, is three hundred and eight miles; the voyage is performed, when the Etesian winds are blowing, in twelve days. From Coptos the journey is made with the aid of camels, stations being arranged at intervals for the supply of fresh water. The first of these stations is called Hydreuma,463 and is distant464 twenty-two miles; the second is situate on a mountain, at a distance of one day’s journey from the last; the third is at a second Hydreuma,64 distant from Coptos ninety-five miles; the fourth is on a mountain; the next to that is at another Hydreuma, that of Apollo, and is distant from Coptos one hundred and eighty-four miles; after which, there is another on a mountain. There is then another station at a place called the New Hydreuma, distant from Coptos two hundred and thirty miles: and next to it there is another, called the Old Hydreuma, or the Troglodytic, where a detachment is always on guard, with a caravansary that affords lodging for two thousand persons. This last is distant from the New Hydreuma seven miles. After leaving it we come to the city of Berenice,465 situate upon a harbour of the Red Sea, and distant from Coptos two hundred and fifty-seven miles. The greater part of this distance is generally travelled by night, on account of the extreme heat, the day being spent at the stations; in consequence of which it takes twelve days to perform the whole journey from Coptos to Berenice.

Passengers generally set sail at midsummer, before the rising of the Dog-star, or else immediately after, and in about thirty days arrive at Ocelis466 in Arabia, or else at Cane,467 in the region which bears frankincense. There is also a third port of Arabia, Muza468 by name; it is not, however, used by persons on their passage to India, as only those touch at it who deal in incense and the perfumes of Arabia. More in the interior there is a city; the residence of the king there is called Sapphar,469 and there is another city known by the name of Save. To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best65 place for embarcation. If the wind, called Hippalus,470 happens to be blowing, it is possible to arrive in forty days at the nearest mart of India, Muziris471 by name. This, however, is not a very desirable place for disembarcation, on account of the pirates which frequent its vicinity, where they occupy a place called Nitrias; nor, in fact, is it very rich in articles of merchandize. Besides, the road-stead for shipping is a considerable distance from the shore, and the cargoes have to be conveyed in boats, either for loading or discharging. At the moment that I am writing these pages, the name of the king of this place is Cælobothras. Another port, and a much more convenient one, is that which lies in the territory of the people called Neacyndi, Barace by name. Here king Pandion used to reign, dwelling at a considerable distance from the mart in the interior, at a city known as Modiera. The district from which pepper is carried down to Barace in boats hollowed out of a single tree,472 is known as Cottonara.473 None of these names of nations, ports, and cities are to be found in any of the former writers, from which circumstance it would appear that the localities have since changed their names. Travellers set sail from India on their return to Europe, at the beginning of the Egyptian month Tybis, which is our December, or at all events before the sixth day of the Egyptian month Mechir, the same as474 our ides of January: if they do this, they can go and return in the same year. They set sail from India with a south-east wind, and upon entering the Red Sea, catch the south-west or south. We will now return to our main subject.

66 CHAP.


Nearchus states in his writings that the coast of Carmania475 extends a distance of twelve hundred and fifty miles. From its frontier to the river Sabis476 is one hundred miles. At this spot begins the cultivation of the vine; which with the tillage of the fields, extends as far as the river Ananis,477 a distance of twenty-five miles. This region is known by the name of Armuzia. The cities of Carmania are Zetis and Alexandria.478


The sea then makes a two-fold indentation479 in the land upon these coasts, under the name of Rubrum480 or “Red,” given to it by our countrymen; while the Greeks have called it Erythrum, from king Erythras,481 or, according to some writers, from its red colour, which they think is produced by the reflection of the sun’s rays; others again are of opinion that it arises from the sand and the complexion of the soil, others from some peculiarity in the nature of the water. (24.) Be this as it may, this body of water is divided into two gulfs. The one which lies to the east is called the Persian Gulf, and is two thousand five hundred miles in circumference, according to Eratosthenes. Opposite to it lies Arabia, the length of which is fifteen hundred miles. On the other side again, Arabia is bounded by the Arabian Gulf. The sea as it enters67 this gulf is called the Azanian482 Sea. The Persian Gulf, at the entrance, is only five483 miles wide; some writers make it four. From the entrance to the very bottom of the gulf, in a straight line, has been ascertained to be nearly eleven hundred and twenty-five miles: in outline it strongly resembles484 the human head. Onesicritus and Nearchus have stated in their works that from the river Indus to the Persian Gulf, and from thence to Babylon, situate in the marshes of the Euphrates, is a distance of seventeen hundred miles.

In the angle of Carmania are the Chelonophagi,485 who cover their cabins with the shells of turtles, and live upon their flesh; these people inhabit the next promontory that is seen after leaving the river Arbis;486 with the exception of the head, they are covered all over with long hair, and are clothed in the skins of fishes.

(25.) Beyond their district, in the direction of India, is said to be the desert island of Caicandrus, fifty miles out at sea; near to which, with a strait flowing between them, is Stoidis, celebrated for its valuable pearls. After passing the promontory487 are the Armozei,488 joining up to the Carmani; some writers, however, place between them the Arbii,489 extending along the shore a distance of four hundred and twenty-one miles. Here is a place called Portus Macedonum,490 and the Altars of Alexander, situate on a promontory, besides the rivers Saganos, Daras, and Salsa. Beyond the last river we come to the promontory of Themisteas, and the island of Aphrodisias, which is peopled. Here Persis begins, at the river Oratis,491 which68 separates it from Elymais.492 Opposite to the coast of Persis, are the islands of Psilos, Cassandra, and Aracia, the last sacred to Neptune,493 and containing a mountain of great height. Persis494 itself, looking towards the west, has a line of coast five hundred and fifty miles in length; it is a country opulent even to luxury, but has long since changed its name for that of “Parthia.”495 I shall now devote a few words to the Parthian empire.


The kingdoms496 of Parthia are eighteen in all: such being the divisions of its provinces, which lie, as we have already stated, along the Red Sea to the south, and the Hyrcanian to the north. Of this number the eleven, called the Higher provinces, begin at the frontiers of Armenia and the shores of the Caspian, and extend to the Scythians, whose mode of life is similar in every respect. The other seven kingdoms of Parthia bear the name of the Lower provinces. As to the Parthi themselves, Parthia497 always lay at the foot of the mountains498 so often mentioned, which overhang all these nations. On the east it is bounded by the Arii, on the south by Carmania and the Ariani, on the west by the Pratitæ, a people of the Medi, and on the north by the Hyrcani: it is surrounded by deserts on every side. The more distant of the Parthi are called Nomades;499 on this side of them there are deserts. On the69 west are the cities of Issatis and Calliope, already mentioned,500 on the north-east Europus,501 on the south-east Maria; in the middle there are Hecatompylos,502 Arsace, and Nisiæa, a fine district of Parthiene, in which is Alexandropolis, so called from its founder.

(26.) It is requisite in this place to trace the localities of the Medi also, and to describe in succession the features of the country as far as the Persian Sea, in order that the account which follows may be the better understood. Media503 lies crosswise to the west, and so presenting itself obliquely to Parthia, closes the entrance of both kingdoms504 into which it is divided. It has, then, on the east, the Caspii and the Parthi; on the south, Sittacene, Susiane, and Persis; on the west, Adsiabene; and on the north, Armenia. The Persæ have always inhabited the shores of the Red Sea, for which reason it has received the name of the Persian Gulf. This maritime region of Persis has the name of Ciribo;505 on the side on which it runs up to that of the Medi, there is a place known by the name of Climax Megale,506 where the mountains are ascended by a steep flight of stairs, and so afford a narrow passage which leads to Persepolis,507 the former capital of the kingdom, destroyed by70 Alexander. It has also, at its extreme frontier, Laodicea,508 founded by Antiochus. To the east of this place is the fortress of Passagarda,509 held by the Magi, at which spot is the tomb of Cyrus; also Ecbatana,510 a city of theirs, the inhabitants of which were removed by Darius to the mountains. Between the Parthi and the Ariani projects the territory of the Parætaceni.511 By these nations and the river Euphrates are the Lower kingdoms of Parthia bounded; of the others we shall speak after Mesopotamia, which we shall now describe, with the exception of that angle of it and the peoples of Arabia, which have been already mentioned in a former book.512


The whole of Mesopotamia formerly belonged to the Assyrians, being covered with nothing but villages, with the exception of Babylonia513 and Ninus.514 The Macedonians71 formed these communities into cities, being prompted thereto by the extraordinary fertility of the soil. Besides the cities already mentioned, it contains those of Seleucia,515 Laodicea,516 Artemita;517 and in Arabia, the peoples known as the Orei518 and the Mardani, besides Antiochia,519 founded by Nicanor, the governor of Mesopotamia, and called Arabis. Joining up to these in the interior is an Arabian people, called the Eldamani, and above them, upon the river Pallaconta, the town of Bura, and the Arabian peoples known as the Salmani and the Masei. Up to the Gordyæi520 join the Aloni, through whose territory runs the river Zerbis, which falls into the Tigris; next are the Azones, the Silici, a mountain tribe, and the Orontes, to the west of whom lies the town of Gaugamela,521 as also Suë, situate upon the rocks. Beyond these are the Silici, surnamed Classitæ, through whose district runs the river Lycus on its passage from Armenia, the Absithris522 running south-east, the town of Accobis, and then in the plains the towns of Diospage, Polytelia,523 Stratonice, and Anthermis.524 In the vicinity of the Euphrates is Nicephorion, of which we have525 already stated that Alexander, struck with72 the favourable situation of the spot, ordered it to be built. We have also similarly made mention526 of Apamea on the Zeugma. Leaving that city and going eastward, we come to Caphrena, a fortified town, formerly seventy stadia in extent, and called the “Court of the Satraps.” It was to this place that the tribute was conveyed; now it is reduced to a mere fortress. Thæbata is still in the same state as formerly: after which comes Oruros, which under Pompeius Magnus formed the extreme limit of the Roman Empire, distant from Zeugma two hundred and fifty miles. There are writers who say that the Euphrates was drawn off by an artificial channel by the governor Gobares, at the point where we have stated527 that it branches off,528 in order that it might not commit damage in the city of Babylonia, in consequence of the extreme rapidity of its course. The Assyrians universally call this river by the name of Narmalcha,529 which signifies the “royal river.” At the point where its waters divide, there was in former times a very large city, called Agranis, which the Persæ have destroyed.

Babylon, the capital of the nations of Chaldæa, long enjoyed the greatest celebrity of all cities throughout the whole world: and it is from this place that the remaining parts of Mesopotamia and Assyria received the name of Babylonia. The circuit of its walls, which were two hundred feet in height, was sixty miles. These walls were also fifty feet in breadth, reckoning to every foot three fingers’ breadth beyond the ordinary measure of our foot. The river Euphrates flowed through the city, with quays of marvellous workmanship erected on either side. The temple there530 of Jupiter Belus531 is still in existence; he was the first73 inventor of the science of Astronomy. In all other respects it has been reduced to a desert, having been drained of its population in consequence of its vicinity to Seleucia,532 founded for that purpose by Nicator, at a distance of ninety miles, on the confluence of the Tigris and the canal that leads from the Euphrates. Seleucia, however, still bears the surname of Babylonia: it is a free and independent city, and retains the features of the Macedonian manners. It is said that the population of this city amounts to six hundred thousand, and that the outline of its walls resembles an eagle with expanded wings: its territory, they say, is the most fertile in all the East. The Parthi again, in its turn, founded Ctesiphon,533 for the purpose of drawing away the population of Seleucia, at a distance of nearly three miles, and in the district of Chalonitis; Ctesiphon is now the capital of all the Parthian kingdoms. Finding, however, that this city did not answer the intended purpose, king Vologesus534 has of late years founded another city in its vicinity, Vologesocerta535 by name. Besides the above, there are still the following towns in Mesopotamia: Hipparenum,536 rendered famous, like Babylon, by the learning of74 the Chaldæi, and situate near the river Narraga,537 which falls into the Narroga, from which a city so called has taken its name. The Persæ destroyed the walls of Hipparenum. Orchenus also, a third place of learning of the Chaldæi, is situate in the same district, towards the south; after which come the Notitæ, the Orothophanitæ, and the Grecichartæ.538 From Nearchus and Onesicritus we learn that the distance by water from the Persian Sea to Babylon, up the Euphrates, is four hundred and twelve miles; other authors, however, who have written since their time, say that the distance to Seleucia is four hundred and forty miles: and Juba says that the distance from Babylon to Charax is one hundred and seventy-five. Some writers state that the Euphrates continues to flow with an undivided channel for a distance of eighty-seven miles beyond Babylon, before its waters are diverted from their channel for the purposes of irrigation; and that the whole length of its course is not less than twelve hundred miles. The circumstance that so many different authors have treated of this subject, accounts for all these variations, seeing that even the Persian writers themselves do not agree as to what is the length of their schæni and parasangæ, each assigning to them a different length.

When the Euphrates ceases, by running in its channel, to afford protection539 to those who dwell on its banks, which it does when it approaches the confines of Charax, the country is immediately infested by the Attali, a predatory people of Arabia, beyond whom are found the Scenitæ.540 The banks along this river are occupied by the Nomades of Arabia, as far as the deserts of Syria, from which, as we have already stated,541 it takes a turn to the south,542 and leaves the solitary deserts of Palmyra. Seleucia is distant, by way of the Euphrates, from the beginning of Mesopotamia, eleven hundred and twenty75-five; from the Red Sea, by way of the Tigris, two hundred and twenty; and from Zeugma, seven hundred and twenty-three, miles. Zeugma is distant from Seleucia543 in Syria, on the shores of our sea, one hundred and seventy-five544 miles. Such is the extent of the land that lies in these parts between the two seas.545 The length of the kingdom of Parthia is nine hundred and eighteen miles.


There is, besides the above, another town in Mesopotamia, on the banks of the Tigris and near its confluence with the Euphrates, the name of which is Digba.546 (27.) But it will be as well now to give some particulars respecting the Tigris itself. This river rises in the region of Greater Armenia,547 from a very remarkable source, situate on a plain. The name of the spot is Elegosine,548 and the stream, as soon as it begins to flow, though with a slow current, has the name of Diglito.549 When its course becomes more rapid, it assumes the name of Tigris,550 given to it on account of its swiftness, that word signifying an arrow in the Median language. It then flows into Lake Arethusa,551 the waters of which are able to76 support all weighty substances thrown into them, and exhale nitrous vapours. This lake produces only one kind of fish, which, however, never enter the current of the river in its passage through the lake: and in a similar manner, the fish of the Tigris will never swim out of its stream into the waters of the lake. Distinguishable from the lake, both by the rapidity and the colour of its waters, the tide of the river is hurried along; after it has passed through and arrived at Mount Taurus, it disappears552 in a cavern of that mountain, and passing beneath it, bursts forth on the other side; the spot bears the name of Zoroande.553 That the waters on either side of the mountain are the same, is evident from the fact, that bodies thrown in on the one side will reappear on the other. It then passes through another lake, called Thospites, and once more burying itself in the earth, reappears, after running a distance of twenty-two miles, in the vicinity of Nymphæum.554 Claudius Cæsar informs us that, in the district of Arrene555 it flows so near to the river Arsanias,556 that when their waters swell they meet and flow together, but without, however, intermingling. For those of the Arsani, as he says, being lighter, float on the surface of the Tigris for a distance of nearly four miles, after which they separate, and the Arsanias flows into the Euphrates. The Tigris, after flowing through Armenia and receiving the well-known rivers Parthenias and Nicephorion, separates the Arabian Orei557 from the Adiabeni, and then forms by its course, as previously mentioned, the country of Mesopotamia. After traversing the mountains of the Gordyæi,558 it passes round Apamea,559 a town of Mesene, one77 hundred and twenty-five miles on this side of Babylonian Seleucia, and then divides into two channels, one560 of which runs southward, and flowing through Mesene, runs towards Seleucia, while the other takes a turn to the north and passes through the plains of the Cauchæ,561 at the back of the district of Mesene. When the waters have reunited, the river assumes the name of Pasitigris. After this, it receives the Choaspes,562 which comes from Media; and then, as we have already stated,563 flowing between Seleucia and Ctesiphon, discharges itself into the Chaldæan Lakes, which it supplies for a distance of seventy miles. Escaping from them by a vast channel, it passes the city of Charax to the right, and empties itself into the Persian Sea, being ten miles in width at the mouth. Between the mouths of the two rivers Tigris and the Euphrates, the distance was formerly twenty-five, or, according to some writers, seven miles only, both of them being navigable to the sea. But the Orcheni and others who dwell on its banks, have long since dammed up the waters of the Euphrates for the purposes of irrigation, and it can only discharge itself into the sea by the aid of the Tigris.

The country on the banks of the Tigris is called Parapotamia;564 we have already made mention of Mesene, one of its districts. Dabithac565 is a town there, adjoining to which is78 the district of Chalonitis, with the city of Ctesiphon,566 famous, not only for its palm-groves, but for its olives, fruits, and other shrubs. Mount Zagrus567 reaches as far as this district, and extends from Armenia between the Medi and the Adiabeni; above Parætacene and Persis. Chalonitis568 is distant from Persis three hundred and eighty miles; some writers say that by the shortest route it is the same distance from Assyria and the Caspian Sea.

Between these peoples and Mesene is Sittacene, which is also called Arbelitis569 and Palæstine. Its city of Sittace570 is of Greek origin; this and Sabdata571 lie to the east, and on the west is Antiochia,572 between the two rivers Tigris and Tornadotus,573 as also Apamea,574 to which Antiochus575 gave this name, being that of his mother. The Tigris surrounds this city, which is also traversed by the waters of the Archoüs.79 Below576 this district is Susiane, in which is the city of Susa,577 the ancient residence of the kings of Persia, built by Darius, the son of Hystaspes; it is distant from Seleucia Babylonia four hundred and fifty miles, and the same from Ecbatana of the Medi, by way of Mount Carbantus.578 Upon the northern channel of the river Tigris is the town of Babytace,579 distant from Susa one hundred and thirty-five miles. Here, for the only place in all the world, is gold held in abhorrence; the people collect it together and bury it in the earth, that it may be of use to no one.580 On the east of Susiane are the Oxii, a predatory people, and forty independent savage tribes of the Mizæi. Above these are the Mardi and the Saitæ, subject to Parthia: they extend above the district of Elymais, which we have already mentioned581 as joining up to the coast of Persis. Susa is distant two hundred and fifty miles from the Persian Sea. Near the spot where the fleet of Alexander came up582 the Pasitigris to Susa, there is a village situate on the Chaldæan Lake, Aple by name, from which to Susa is a distance of sixty miles and a half. Adjoining to the people of Susiane, on the east, are the Cossiæi;583 and above them, to the north, is Mesabatene, lying at the foot of Mount Cambalidus,584 a branch of the Caucasian chain: from this point the country of the Bactri is most accessible.

Susiane is separated from Elymais by the river Eulæus, which rises in Media, and, after concealing itself in the earth for a short distance, rises again and flows through Mesabatene. It then flows round the citadel of Susa585 and the80 temple of Diana, which is held in the highest veneration by all these nations; the river itself being the object of many pompous ceremonials; the kings, indeed, will drink of no other water,586 and for that reason carry it with them on their journies to any considerable distance. This river receives the waters of the Hedypnos,587 which passes Asylus, in Persis, and those of the Aduna, which rises in Susiane. Magoa588 is a town situate near it, and distant from Charax fifteen miles; some writers place this town at the very extremity of Susiane, and close to the deserts.

Below the Eulæus is Elymais,589 upon the coast adjoining to Persis, and extending from the river Orates590 to Charax, a distance of two hundred and forty miles. Its towns are Seleucia591 and Socrate,592 upon Mount Casyrus. The shore which lies in front of this district is, as we have already stated, rendered inaccessible by mud,593 the rivers Brixa and Ortacea bringing down vast quantities of slime from the interior,—Elymais itself being so marshy that it is impossible to reach Persis that way, unless by going completely round: it is also greatly infested with serpents, which are brought down by the waters of these rivers. That part of it which is the most inaccessible of all, bears the name of Characene, from Charax,594 the frontier city of the kingdoms of Arabia. Of81 this place we will now make mention, after first stating the opinions of M. Agrippa in relation to this subject. That author informs us that Media, Parthia, and Persis, are bounded on the east by the Indus, on the west by the Tigris, on the north by Taurus and Caucasus, and on the south by the Red Sea; that the length of these countries is thirteen hundred and twenty miles, and the breadth eight hundred and forty; and that, in addition to these, there is Mesopotamia, which, taken by itself, is bounded on the east by the Tigris, on the west by the Euphrates, on the north by the chain of Taurus, and on the south by the Persian Sea, being eight hundred miles in length, and three hundred and sixty in breadth.

Charax is a city situate at the furthest extremity of the Arabian Gulf, at which begins the more prominent portion of Arabia Felix:595 it is built on an artificial elevation, having the Tigris on the right, and the Eulæus on the left, and lies on a piece of ground three miles in extent, just between the confluence of those streams. It was first founded by Alexander the Great, with colonists from the royal city of Durine, which was then destroyed, and such of his soldiers as were invalided and left behind. By his order it was to be called Alexandria, and a borough called Pella, from his native place, was to be peopled solely by Macedonians; the city, however, was destroyed by inundations of the rivers. Antiochus,596 the fifth king of Syria, afterwards rebuilt this place and called it by his own name; and on its being again destroyed, Pasines, the son of Saggonadacus, and king of the neighbouring Arabians, whom Juba has incorrectly described as a satrap of king Antiochus, restored it, and raised embankments for its protection, calling it after himself. These embankments extended in length a distance of nearly three miles, in breadth a little less. It stood at first at a distance of ten stadia from the shore, and even had a harbour597 of its own. But according to Juba, it is fifty miles from the sea; and at the present day, the ambassadors from Arabia, and our own merchants who have visited the place, say that it stands at a distance of one hundred and twenty miles from the sea-shore. Indeed, in no part of82 the world have alluvial deposits been formed more rapidly by the rivers, and to a greater extent than here; and it is only a matter of surprise that the tides, which run to a considerable distance beyond this city, do not carry them back again. At this place was born Dionysius,598 the most recent author of a description of the world; he was sent by the late emperor Augustus to gather all necessary information in the East, when his eldest599 son was about to set out for Armenia to take the command against the Parthians and Arabians.

The fact has not escaped me, nor indeed have I forgotten, that at the beginning of this work600 I have remarked that each author appeared to be most accurate in the description of his own country; still, while I am speaking of these parts of the world, I prefer to follow the discoveries made by the Roman arms, and the description given by king Juba, in his work dedicated to Caius Cæsar above-mentioned, on the subject of the same expedition against Arabia.

CHAP. 32. (28.)—ARABIA.

Arabia, inferior to no country throughout the whole world, is of immense extent, running downwards, as we have previously stated,601 from Mount Amanus, over against Cilicia and Commagene; many of the Arabian nations having been removed to those countries by Tigranes the Great,602 while others again have migrated of their own accord to the shores of our sea603 and the coast of Egypt, as we have already mentioned.604 The Nubei605 have even penetrated as far as Mount Libanus in the middle of Syria; in their turn they are bounded by the Ramisi, these by the Taranei, and these again by the Patami.

As for Arabia itself, it is a peninsula, running out between the Red and the Persian Seas; and it is by a kind of design,83 apparently on the part of nature, that it is surrounded by the sea in such a manner as to resemble very much the form and size606 of Italy, there being no difference either in the climate of the two countries, as they lie in the same latitudes.607 This, too, renders it equally fertile with the countries of Italy. We have already mentioned608 its peoples, which extend from our sea as far as the deserts of Palmyrene, and we shall now proceed to a description of the remainder. The Scenitæ, as we have already stated,609 border upon the Nomades and the tribes that ravage the territories of Chaldæa, being themselves of wandering habits, and receiving their name from the tents which constitute their dwellings; these are made of goats’ hair, and they pitch them wherever they please. Next after them are the Nabatæi, who have a city called Petra,610 which lies in a deep valley, somewhat less than two miles in width, and surrounded by inaccessible mountains, between which a river flows: it is distant from the city of Gaza, on our shores, six hundred miles, and from the Persian Gulf one hundred and thirty-five. At this place two roads meet, the one leading from Syria to Palmyra, and the other from Gaza. On leaving Petra we come to the Omani,611 who dwell as far as Charax, with their once famous cities which were built by Semiramis, Besannisa and Soractia by name; at the present day they are wildernesses. We next come to a city situate on the banks of the Pasitigris, Fora by name, and subject to the king of Charax: to this place people resort on their road from Petra, and sail thence to Charax, twelve miles distant, with the tide. If you are proceeding by water from the Parthian territories, you come to a village known as Teredon; and below the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris, you have the Chaldæi dwelling84 on the left side of the river, and the Nomadic tribes of the Scenitæ on the right. Some writers also make mention of two other cities situate at long intervals, as you sail along the Tigris, Barbatia, and then Thumata, distant from Petra, they say, ten days’ sail; our merchants report that these places are subject to the king of Charax. The same writers also state, that Apamea612 is situate where the overflow of the Euphrates unites with the Tigris; and that when the Parthians meditate an incursion, the inhabitants dam up the river by embankments, and so inundate their country.

We will now proceed to describe the coast after leaving Charax,613 which was first explored by order of king Epiphanes. We first come to the place where the mouth of the Euphrates formerly existed, the river Salsus,614 and the Promontory of Chaldone,615 from which spot, the sea along the coast, for an extent of fifty miles,616 bears more the aspect of a series of whirlpools than of ordinary sea; the river Achenus, and then a desert tract for a space of one hundred miles, until we come to the island of Ichara; the gulf of Capeus, on the shores of which dwell the Gaulopes and the Chateni, and then the gulf of Gerra.617 Here we find the city of Gerra, five miles in circumference, with towers built of square blocks of salt. Fifty miles from the coast, lying in the interior, is the region of Attene,85 and opposite to Gerra is the island of Tylos,618 as many miles distant from the shore; it is famous for the vast number of its pearls, and has a town of the same name; in its vicinity there is a smaller island,619 distant from a promontory on the larger one twelve miles and a half. They say that beyond this large islands may be seen, upon which no one has ever landed: the circumference of the smaller island is one hundred and twelve miles and a half, and it is more than that distance from the Persian coast, being accessible by only one narrow channel. We then come to the island of Asclie, and the nations of the Nocheti, the Zurazi, the Borgodi, the Catharrei, the Nomades, and then the river Cynos.620 Beyond this, the navigation is impracticable on that side,621 according to Juba, on account of the rocks; and he has omitted all mention of Batrasave,622 a town of the Omani, and of the city of Omana,623 which former writers have made out to be a famous port of Carmania;624 as also of Homna and Attana, towns which at the present day, our merchants say, are by far the most famous ones in the Persian Sea. Passing the river Cynos,625 there is a mountain, Juba says, that bears marks of the action of fire; also, the nation of the Epimaranitæ, then a nation of Ichthyophagi, and then a desert island, and the nation of the Bathymi. We then come to the Eblitæan Mountains, the island of Omoënus, the port of Mochorbe, the islands of Etaxalos and Inchobrice, and the nation of the Cadæi. There are many islands also that have no name, but the better known ones are Isura, Rhinnea, and another still nearer the shore, upon which there are some stone pillars with an inscription in unknown characters. There are also the port of Gobœa, the desert islands called Bragæ, the nation of the Thaludæi, the86 region of Dabanegoris, Mount Orsa, with a harbour, the gulf of Duatus, with numerous islands, Mount Tricoryphos,626 the region of Cardaleon, and the islands called Solanades, Cachinna, and that of the Ichthyophagi. We then find the Clari, the shore of Mamæum, on which there are gold mines, the region of Canauna, the nations of the Apitami and the Casani, the island of Devade, the fountain of Coralis, the Carphati, the islands of Calaëu and Amnamethus, and the nation of the Darræ. Also, the island of Chelonitis,627 numerous islands of Ichthyophagi, the deserts of Odanda, Basa, many islands of the Sabæi, the rivers Thanar and Amnume, the islands of Dorice, and the fountains of Daulotos and Dora. We find also the islands of Pteros, Labatanis, Coboris, and Sambrachate, with a town of the same name628 on the mainland. Lying to the south are a great number of islands, the largest of which is Camari; also the river Musecros, and the port of Laupas. We then come to the Sabæi, a nation of Scenitæ,629 with numerous islands, and the city of Acila,630 which is their mart, and from which persons embark for India. We next come to the region of Amithoscutta, Damnia, the Greater and the Lesser Mizi, and the Drimati. The promontory of the Naumachæi, over against Carmania, is distant from it fifty miles. A wonderful circumstance is said to have happened here; Numenius, who was made governor of Mesena by king Antiochus, while fighting against the Persians, defeated them at sea, and at low water, by land, with an army of cavalry, on the same day; in memory of which event he erected a twofold trophy on the same spot, in honour of Jupiter and Neptune.631

Opposite to this place, in the main sea, lies the island of Ogyris,63287 famous for being the burial-place of king Erythras;633 it is distant from the mainland one hundred and twenty miles, being one hundred and twelve in circumference. No less famous is another island, called Dioscoridu,634 and lying in the Azanian Sea;635 it is distant two hundred and eighty miles from the extreme point of the Promontory of Syagrus.636

The remaining places and nations on the mainland, lying still to the south, are the Ausaritæ, to whose country it is seven days’ journey among the mountains, the nations of the Larendani and the Catabani, and the Gebanitæ, who occupy a great number of towns, the largest of which are Nagia, and Thomna with sixty-five temples, a number which fully bespeaks its size. We then come to a promontory, from which to the mainland of the Troglodytæ it is fifty miles, and then the Thoani, the Actæi, the Chatramotitæ, the Tonabei, the Antidalei, the Lexianæ, the Agræi, the Cerbani, and the Sabæi,637 the best known of all the tribes of Arabia, on account of their frankincense; these nations extend from sea to sea.638 The towns which belong to them on the Red Sea are Marane, Marma, Corolia, and Sabatha; and in the interior, Nascus, Cardava, Carnus, and Thomala, from which they bring down their spices for exportation. One portion of this nation is the Atramitæ,639 whose88 capital, Sabota, has sixty temples within its walls. But the royal city of all these nations is Mariaba;640 it lies upon a bay, ninety-four miles in extent, and filled with islands that produce perfumes. Lying in the interior, and joining up to the Atramitæ, are the Minæi; the Elamitæ641 dwell on the sea-shore, in a city from which they take their name. Next to these are the Chaculatæ; then the town of Sibi, by the Greeks called Apate;642 the Arsi, the Codani, the Vadei, who dwell in a large town, the Barasasæi, the Lechieni, and the island of Sygaros,643 into the interior of which no dogs are admitted, and so being exposed on the sea-shore, they wander about there and are left to die. We then come to a gulf which runs far into the interior, upon which are situate the Læenitæ, who have given to it their name; also their royal city of Agra,644 and upon the gulf that of Læana, or as some call it Ælana;645 indeed, by some of our writers this has been called the Ælanitic Gulf, and by others again, the Ælenitic; Artemidorus calls it the Alenitic, and Juba the Lænitic. The circumference of Arabia, measured from Charax to Læana, is said to be four thousand six hundred and sixty-six miles, but Juba thinks that it is somewhat less than four thousand. Its widest part is at the north, between the cities of Heroopolis and Charax. We will now mention the remaining places and peoples of the interior of Arabia.

Up to the Nabatæi646 the ancients joined the Thimanei; at present they have next to them the Taveni, and then the Suelleni, the Arraceni,647 and the Areni,648 whose town is the centre of89 all the commerce of these parts. Next come the Hemnatæ, the Aualitæ, the towns of Domata and Hegra, the Tamudæi,649 with the town of Badanatha, the Carrei, with the town of Cariati,650 the Achoali, with the town of Foth, and the Minæi, who derive their origin, it is supposed,651 from Minos, king of Crete, and of whom the Carmæi are a tribe. Next comes a town, fourteen miles distant, called Marippa, and belonging to the Palamaces, a place by no means to be overlooked, and then Carnon. The Rhadamæi also—these too are supposed to derive their origin652 from Rhadamanthus, the brother of Minos—the Homeritæ,653 with their city of Masala,654 the Hamirei, the Gedranitæ, the Amphyræ, the Ilisanitæ, the Bachilitæ, the Samnæi, the Amitæi, with the towns of Nessa655 and Cennesseris, the Zamareni, with the towns of Sagiatta and Canthace, the Bacascami, the town of Riphearma, the name by which they call barley, the Autei, the Ethravi, the Cyrei and the Mathatæi, the Helmodenes, with the town of Ebode, the Agacturi, dwelling in the mountains, with a town twenty miles distant, in which is a fountain called Ænuscabales,656 which signifies “the town of the camels.” Ampelome657 also, a Milesian colony, the town of Athrida, the Calingii, whose city is called Mariva,658 and signifies “the lord of all men;” the towns of Palon and Murannimal, near a river by which it is thought that the Euphrates discharges itself, the nations of the Agrei and the Ammonii, the town of Athenæ, the Caunaravi, a name90 which signifies “most rich in herds,” the Coranitæ, the Œsani, and the Choani.659 Here were also formerly the Greek towns of Arethusa, Larisa, and Chalcis, which have been destroyed in various wars.

Ælius Gallus,660 a member of the Equestrian order, is the sole person who has hitherto carried the Roman arms into these lands, for Caius Cæsar, the son661 of Augustus, only had a distant view of Arabia. In his expedition, Gallus destroyed the following towns, the names of which are not given by the authors who had written before his time, Negrana, Nestum, Nesca, Masugum, Caminacum, Labecia, and Mariva662 above-mentioned, six miles in circumference, as also Caripeta, the furthest point of his expedition. He brought back with him the following discoveries—that the Nomades663 live upon milk and the flesh of wild beasts, and that the other nations, like the Indians, extract a sort of wine from the palm-tree, and oil from sesame.664 He says that the most numerous of these tribes are the Homeritæ and the Minæi, that their lands are fruitful in palms and shrubs, and that their chief wealth is centred in their flocks. We also learn from the same source that the Cerbani and the Agræi excel in arms, but more particularly the Chatramotitæ;665 that the territories of the Carrei are the most extensive and most fertile; but that the Sabæi are the richest of all in the great abundance of their spice-bearing groves, their mines of gold,666 their streams for91 irrigation, and their ample produce of honey and wax. Of their perfumes we shall have to treat more at large in the Book devoted to that subject.667 The Arabs either wear the mitra,668 or else go with their hair unshorn, while the beard is shaved, except upon the upper lip: some tribes, however, leave even the beard unshaved. A singular thing too, one half of these almost innumerable tribes live by the pursuits of commerce, the other half by rapine: take them all in all, they are the richest nations in the world, seeing that such vast wealth flows in upon them from both the Roman and the Parthian Empires; for they sell the produce of the sea or of their forests, while they purchase nothing whatever in return.


We will now trace the rest of the coast that lies opposite to that of Arabia. Timosthenes has estimated the length of the whole gulf at four days’ sail, and the breadth at two, making the Straits669 to be seven miles and a half in width. Eratosthenes says that the length of the shore from the mouth of the gulf is thirteen hundred miles on each side, while Artemidorus states that the length on the Arabian side is seventeen hundred and fifty miles, (29.) and that along the Troglodytic coast, to Ptolemais, the distance is eleven hundred and thirty-seven and a half. Agrippa, however, maintains that there is no difference whatever in the length of the two sides, and makes it seventeen hundred and twenty-two miles. Most writers mention the length as being four hundred and seventy-five miles, and make the Straits to face the south-east, being twelve miles wide according to some, fifteen according to others.

The localities of this region are as follow: On passing the Ælanitic Gulf there is another gulf, by the Arabians called92 Sœa, upon which is situate the city of Heroön.670 The town of Cambysu671 also stood here formerly, between the Neli and the Marchades, Cambyses having established there the invalids of his army. We then come to the nation of the Tyri, and the port of the Danei, from which place an attempt has been made to form a navigable canal to the river Nile, at the spot where it enters the Delta previously mentioned,672 the distance between the river and the Red Sea being sixty-two miles. This was contemplated first of all by Sesostris,673 king of Egypt, afterwards by Darius, king of the Persians, and still later by Ptolemy II.,674 who also made a canal, one hundred feet in width and forty deep, extending a distance of thirty-seven miles and a half, as far as the Bitter Springs.675 He was deterred from proceeding any further with this work by apprehensions of an inundation, upon finding that the Red Sea was three cubits higher than the land in the interior of Egypt. Some writers, however, do not allege this as the cause, but say that his reason was, a fear lest, in consequence of introducing the sea, the water of the Nile might be spoilt, that being the only source from which the Egyptians obtain water for drinking. Be this as it may, the whole of the journey from the Egyptian Sea is usually performed by land one of the three following ways:—Either from Pelusium across the sands, in doing which the only method of finding the way is by means of reeds fixed in the earth, the wind immediately effacing all93 traces of footsteps: by the route which begins two miles beyond Mount Casius, and at a distance of sixty miles enters the road from Pelusium, adjoining to which road the Arabian tribe of the Autei dwell; or else by a third route, which leads from Gerrum, and which they call Adipsos,676 passing through the same Arabians, and shorter by nearly sixty miles, but running over rugged mountains and through a district destitute of water. All these roads lead to Arsinoë,677 a city founded in honour of his sister’s name, upon the Gulf of Carandra, by Ptolemy Philadelphus, who was the first to explore Troglodytice, and called the river which flows before Arsinoë by the name of Ptolemæus. After this comes the little town of Enum, by some writers mentioned as Philotera; next to which are the Abasæi, a nation sprung from intermarriages with the Troglodytæ, then some wild Arabian tribes, the islands of Sapirine and Scytala, and after these, deserts as far as Myoshormon, where we find the fountain of Tatnos, Mount Æas, the island of Iambe, and numerous harbours. Berenice also, is here situate, so called after the name of the mother of Philadelphus, and to which there is a road from Coptos, as we have previously stated;678 then the Arabian Autei, and the Zebadei.


Troglodytice comes next, by the ancients called Midoë, and by some Michoë; here is Mount Pentedactylos, some islands called Stenæ Deiræ,679 the Halonnesi,680 a group of islands not less in number, Cardamine, and Topazos,681 which last has given its name to the precious stone so called. The gulf is full of islands; those known as Mareu are supplied with fresh water, those called Erenos, are without it; these were ruled by governors682 appointed by the kings. In the interior94 are the Candei, also called Ophiophagi, a people in the habit of eating serpents; there is no region in existence more productive of them.

Juba, who appears to have investigated all these matters with the greatest diligence, has omitted, in his description of these regions—unless, indeed, it be an error in the copying—another place called Berenice and surnamed Panchrysos,683 as also a third surnamed Epidires,684 and remarkable for the peculiarity of its site; for it lies on a long projecting neck of land, at the spot where the Straits at the mouth of the Red Sea separate the coast of Africa from Arabia by a distance of seven miles only: here too is the island of Cytis,685 which also produces the topaz.

Beyond this are forests, in which is Ptolemais,686 built by Philadelphus for the chase of the elephant, and thence called Epitheras,687 situate near Lake Monoleus. This is the same region that has been already mentioned by us in the Second Book,688 and in which, during forty-five days before the summer solstice and for as many after, there is no shadow at the sixth hour, and during the other hours of the day it falls to the south; while at other times it falls to the north; whereas at the Berenice of which we first689 made mention, on the day of the summer solstice the shadow totally disappears at the sixth hour, but no other unusual phænomenon is observed. That place is situate at a distance of six hundred and two miles from Ptolemais, which95 has thus become the subject of a remarkable theory, and has promoted the exercise of a spirit of the most profound investigation; for it was at this spot that the extent of the earth was first ascertained, it being the fact that Erastosthenes, beginning at this place by the accurate calculation of the length of the shadow, was enabled to determine with exactness the dimensions of the earth.

After passing this place we come to the Azanian690 Sea, a promontory by some writers called Hispalus, Lake Mandalum, and the island of Colocasitis, with many others lying out in the main sea, upon which multitudes of turtles are found. We then come to the town of Suche, the island of Daphnidis,691 and the town of the Adulitæ,692 a place founded by Egyptian runaway slaves. This is the principal mart for the Troglodytæ, as also for the people of Æthiopia: it is distant from Ptolemais five days’ sail. To this place they bring ivory in large quantities, horns of the rhinoceros, hides of the hippopotamus, tortoise-shell, sphingiæ,693 and slaves. Beyond the Æthiopian Aroteræ are the islands known by the name of Aliæu,694 as also those of Bacchias, Antibacchias, and Stratioton. After passing these, on the coast of Æthiopia, there is a gulf which remains unexplored still; a circumstance the more to be wondered at, seeing that merchants have pursued their investigations to a greater distance than this. We then come to a promontory, upon which there is a spring called Cucios,695 much resorted to by96 mariners. Beyond it is the Port of Isis, distant ten days’ rowing from the town of the Adulitæ: myrrh is brought to this port by the Troglodytæ. The two islands before the harbour are called Pseudepylæ,696 and those in it, the same in number, are known as Pylæ;697 upon one of these there are some stone columns inscribed with unknown characters. Beyond these is the Gulf of Abalites, the island of Diodorus,698 and other desert islands; also, on the mainland, a succession of deserts, and then the town of Gaza, and the promontory and port of Mossylum,699 to the latter of which cinnamon is brought for exportation: it was thus far that Sesostris led700 his army.

Some writers place even beyond this, upon the shore, one town of Æthiopia, called Baricaza. Juba will have it that at the Promontory of Mossylum701 the Atlantic Sea begins, and that with a north-west wind702 we may sail past his native country, the Mauritanias, and arrive at Gades. We ought not on this occasion to curtail any portion of the opinions so expressed by him. He says that after we pass the promontory of the Indians,703 known as Lepteacra, and by others called Drepanum, the distance, in a straight line, beyond the island of Exusta and Malichu, is fifteen hundred miles; from thence to a place called Sceneos two hundred and twenty-five; and from thence to the island of Adanu one hundred and fifty miles; so that the distance97 to the open sea704 is altogether eighteen hundred and seventy-five miles. All the other writers, however, are of opinion that, in consequence of the intensity of the sun’s heat, this sea is not navigable; added to which, commerce is greatly exposed to the depredations of a piratical tribe of Arabians called Ascitæ,705 who dwell upon the islands: placing two inflated skins of oxen beneath a raft of wood, they ply their piratical vocation with the aid of poisoned arrows. We learn also from the same author that some nations of the Troglodytæ have the name of Therothoæ,706 being so called from their skill in hunting. They are remarkable for their swiftness, he says, just as the Ichthyophagi are, who can swim like the animals whose element is the sea. He speaks also of the Bangeni, the Gangoræ, the Chalybes, the Xoxinæ, the Sirechæ, the Daremæ, and the Domazames. Juba states, too, that the inhabitants who dwell on the banks of the Nile from Syene as far as Meroë, are not a people of Æthiopia, but Arabians; and that the city of the Sun, which we have mentioned707 as situate not far from Memphis, in our description of Egypt, was founded by Arabians. There are some writers who take away the further bank of the Nile from Æthiopia,708 and unite it to Africa;709 and they people its sides with tribes attracted thither by its water. We shall leave these matters, however, to the option of each, to form his opinion on them, and shall now proceed to mention the towns on each side710 in the order in which they are given.


On leaving Syene,711 and taking first the Arabian side, we find the nation of the Catadupi, then the Syenitæ, and the98 town of Tacompsos,712 by some called Thatice, as also Aramasos, Sesamos, Sanduma, Masindomacam, Arabeta and Boggia, Leupitorga, Tantarene, Mecindita, Noa, Gloploa, Gystate, Megada, Lea, Renni, Nups, Direa, Patiga, Bacata, Dumana, Rhadata, at which place a golden cat was worshipped as a god, Boron, in the interior, and Mallos, near Meroë; this is the account given by Bion.

Juba, however, gives another account; he says that there is a city on Mount Megatichos,713 which lies between Egypt and Æthiopia, by the Arabians known as Myrson, after which come Tacompsos, Aramus, Sesamos, Pide, Mamuda, Orambis, situate near a stream of bitumen, Amodita, Prosda, Parenta, Mama, Tesatta, Gallas, Zoton, Graucome, Emeus, the Pidibotæ, the Hebdomecontacometæ,714 Nomades, who dwell in tents, Cyste, Macadagale, Proaprimis, Nups, Detrelis, Patis, the Ganbreves, the Magasnei, Segasmala, Crandala, Denna, Cadeuma, Thena, Batta, Alana, Mascoa, the Scammi, Hora, situate on an island, and then Abala, Androgalis, Sesecre, the Malli, and Agole.

On the African side715 we find mentioned, either what is another place with the same name of Tacompsos, or else a part of the one before-mentioned, and after it Moggore, Sæa, Edos, Plenariæ, Pinnis, Magassa, Buma, Linthuma, Spintum, Sydop, the Censi, Pindicitora, Acug, Orsum, Sansa, Maumarum, Urbim, the town of Molum, by the Greeks called Hypaton,716 Pagoarca, Zmanes, at which point elephants begin to be found, the Mambli, Berressa, and Acetuma; there was formerly a town also called Epis, over against Meroë, which had, however, been destroyed before Bion wrote.

These are the names of places given as far as Meroë; but at the present day hardly any of them on either side of the river are in existence; at all events, the prætorian troops99 that were sent by the Emperor Nero717 under the command of a tribune, for the purposes of enquiry, when, among his other wars, he was contemplating an expedition against Æthiopia, brought back word that they had met with nothing but deserts on their route. The Roman arms also penetrated into these regions in the time of the late Emperor Augustus, under the command of P. Petronius,718 a man of Equestrian rank, and prefect of Egypt. That general took the following cities, the only ones we now find mentioned there, in the following order; Pselcis,719 Primis, Abuncis, Phthuris, Cambusis, Atteva, and Stadasis, where the river Nile, as it thunders down the precipices, has quite deprived the inhabitants of the power of hearing: he also sacked the town of Napata.720 The extreme distance to which he penetrated beyond Syene was nine hundred and seventy miles; but still, it was not the Roman arms that rendered these regions a desert. Æthiopia, in its turn gaining the mastery, and then again reduced to servitude, was at last worn out by its continual wars with Egypt, having been a famous and powerful country even at the time of the Trojan war, when Memnon721 was its king; it is also very evident from the fabulous stories about Andromeda,722 that it ruled over Syria in the time of king Cepheus, and that its sway extended as far as the shores of our sea.

In a similar manner, also, there have been conflicting accounts as to the extent of this country: first by Dalion,100 who travelled a considerable distance beyond Meroë, and after him by Aristocreon and Basilis, as well as the younger Simonides, who made a stay of five years at Meroë,723 when he wrote his account of Æthiopia. Timosthenes, however, the commander of the fleets of Philadelphus, without giving any other estimate as to the distance, says that Meroë is sixty days’ journey from Syene; while Eratosthenes states that the distance is six hundred and twenty-five miles, and Artemidorus six hundred. Sebosus says that from the extreme point of Egypt, the distance to Meroë is sixteen hundred and seventy-five miles, while the other writers last mentioned make it twelve hundred and fifty. All these differences, however, have since been settled; for the persons sent by Nero for the purposes of discovery have reported that the distance from Syene to Meroë is eight hundred and seventy-one miles, the following being the items. From Syene to Hiera Sycaminos724 they make to be fifty-four miles, from thence to Tama seventy-two, to the country of the Evonymitæ,725 the first region of Æthiopia, one hundred and twenty, to Acina fifty-four, to Pittara twenty-five, and to Tergedus one hundred and six. They state also that the island of Gagaudes lies at an equal distance from Syene and Meroë, and that it is at this place that the bird called the parrot was first seen; while at another island called Articula, the animal known as the sphingium726 was first discovered by them, and after passing Tergedus, the cynocephalus.727 The distance from thence to Napata is eighty miles, that little town being the only one of all of them that now survives. From thence to the island of Meroë the distance is three hundred and sixty miles. They also state that the grass in the vicinity of Meroë becomes of a greener and fresher colour, and that there is some slight appearance of forests, as also traces of the rhinoceros and elephant. They reported also that the city of Meroë stands at a distance of seventy miles from the first entrance of the island of Meroë, and that close to it is another island, Tadu by name, which forms a harbour facing those who enter the101 right hand channel of the river. The buildings in the city, they said, were but few in number, and they stated that a female, whose name was Candace, ruled over the district, that name having passed from queen to queen for many years. They related also that there was a temple of Jupiter Hammon there, held in great veneration, besides smaller shrines erected in honour of him throughout all the country. In addition to these particulars, they were informed that in the days of the Æthiopian dominion, the island of Meroë enjoyed great renown, and that, according to tradition, it was in the habit of maintaining two hundred thousand armed men, and four thousand artisans. The kings of Æthiopia are said even at the present day to be forty-five in number.

(30.) The whole of this country has successively had the names of Ætheria,728 Atlantia, and last of all, Æthiopia, from Æthiops, the son of Vulcan. It is not at all surprising that towards the extremity of this region the men and animals assume a monstrous form, when we consider the changeableness and volubility of fire, the heat of which is the great agent in imparting various forms and shapes to bodies. Indeed, it is reported that in the interior, on the eastern side, there is a people that have no noses, the whole face presenting a plane surface; that others again are destitute of the upper lip, and others are without tongues. Others again, have the mouth grown together, and being destitute of nostrils, breathe through one passage only, imbibing their drink through it by means of the hollow stalk of the oat, which there grows spontaneously and supplies them with its grain for food. Some of these nations have to employ gestures by nodding the head and moving the limbs, instead of speech. Others again were unacquainted with the use of fire before the time of Ptolemy Lathyrus, king of Egypt. Some writers have also stated that there is a nation of Pygmies, which dwells among the marshes in which the river Nile takes its rise; while on the coast of Æthiopia, where we paused,729102 there is a range of mountains, of a red colour, which have the appearance of being always burning.

All the country, after we pass Meroë, is bounded by the Troglodytæ and the Red Sea, it being three days’ journey from Napata to the shores of that sea; throughout the whole of this district the rain water is carefully preserved at several places, while the country that lies between is extremely productive of gold. The parts beyond this are inhabited by the Adabuli, a nation of Æthiopia; and here, over against Meroë, are the Megabarri,730 by some writers called the Adiabari; they occupy the city of Apollo; some of them, however, are Nomades, living on the flesh of elephants. Opposite to them, on the African side, dwell the Macrobii,731 and then again, beyond the Megabarri, there are the Memnones and the Dabeli, and, at a distance of twenty days’ journey, the Critensi. Beyond these are the Dochi, and then the Gymnetes, who always go naked; and after them the Andetæ, the Mothitæ, the Mesaches, and the Ipsodoræ, who are of a black tint, but stain the body all over with a kind of red earth. On the African side again there are the Medimni, and then a nation of Nomades, who live on the milk of the cynocephalus, and then the Aladi and the Syrbotæ,732 which last are said to be eight cubits in height.

Aristocreon informs us that on the Libyan side, at a distance of five days’ journey from Meroë, is the town of Tolles, and then at a further distance of twelve days’ journey, Esar, a town founded by the Egyptians who fled from Psammetichus;733 he states also that they dwelt there for a period of three hundred years, and that opposite, on the Arabian side, there is a town of theirs called Daron.734 The town, however, which he calls Esar, is by Bion called Sape, who says that the name means “the strangers:” their capital being Sembobitis, situate on an island, and a third place of theirs, Sinat in Arabia. Between the mountains and the river Nile are the Simbarri, the Palugges, and, on the mountains themselves, the Asachæ,103 who are divided into numerous peoples; they are said to be distant five days’ journey from the sea, and to procure their subsistence by the chase of the elephant. An island in the Nile, which belongs to the Semberritæ, is governed by a queen; beyond it are the Æthiopian Nubei,735 at a distance of eight days’ journey: their town is Tenupsis, situate on the Nile. There are the Sesambri also, a people among whom all the quadrupeds are without ears, the very elephants even. On the African side are the Tonobari, the Ptoenphæ, a people who have a dog for their king, and divine from his movements what are his commands; the Auruspi, who have a town at a considerable distance from the Nile, and then the Archisarmi, the Phaliges, the Marigerri, and the Casmari.

Bion makes mention also of some other towns situate on islands, the whole distance being twenty days’ journey from Sembobitis to Meroë; a town in an adjoining island, under the queen of the Semberritæ, with another called Asara, and another, in a second island, called Darde. The name of a third island is Medoë, upon which is the town of Asel, and a fourth is called Garodes, with a town upon it of the same name. Passing thence along the banks of the Nile, are the towns of Navi, Modunda, Andatis, Secundum, Colligat, Secande, Navectabe, Cumi, Agrospi, Ægipa, Candrogari, Araba, and Summara.736

Beyond is the region of Sirbitum, at which the mountains terminate,737 and which by some writers is said to contain the maritime Æthiopians, the Nisacæthæ, and the Nisyti, a word which signifies “men with three or four eyes,”—not that the people really have that conformation, but because they are remarkable for the unerring aim of their arrows. On that side of the Nile which extends along the borders of the Southern Ocean beyond the Greater Syrtes,738 Dalion says that the people, who use rain-water only, are called the Cisori, and that the other nations are the Longompori,104 distant five days’ journey from the Œcalices, the Usibalci, the Isbeli, the Perusii, the Ballii, and the Cispii, the rest being deserts, and inhabited by the tribes of fable only. In a more westerly direction are the Nigroæ, whose king has only one eye, and that in the forehead, the Agriophagi,739 who live principally on the flesh of panthers and lions, the Pamphagi,740 who will eat anything, the Anthropophagi, who live on human flesh, the Cynamolgi,741 a people with the heads of dogs, the Artabatitæ, who have four feet, and wander about after the manner of wild beasts; and, after them, the Hesperiæ and the Perorsi, whom we have already spoken742 of as dwelling on the confines of Mauritania. Some tribes, too, of the Æthiopians subsist on nothing but locusts,743 which are smoke-dried and salted as their provision for the year; these people do not live beyond their fortieth year.

M. Agrippa was of opinion that the length744 of the whole country of the Æthiopians, including the Red Sea, was two thousand one hundred and seventy miles, and its breadth, including Upper Egypt, twelve hundred and ninety-seven. Some authors again have made the following divisions of its length; from Meroë to Sirbitum eleven days’ sail, from Sirbitum to the Dabelli fifteen days’, and from them to the Æthiopian Ocean six days’ journey. It is agreed by most authors, that the distance altogether, from the ocean745 to Meroë, is six hundred and twenty-five miles, and from Meroë to Syene, that which we have already mentioned. Æthiopia lies from south-east to south-west. Situate as it is, in a southern hemisphere, forests of ebony are to be seen of the brightest verdure; and in the midst of these regions there is a mountain of immense height, which overhangs the sea, and emits a perpetual flame. By the Greeks this mountain is called Theon Ochema,746 and at a distance of four days’ sail from it105 is a promontory, known as Hesperu Ceras,747 upon the confines of Africa, and close to the Hesperiæ, an Æthiopian nation. There are some writers who affirm that in these regions there are hills of a moderate height, which afford a pleasant shade from the groves with which they are clad, and are the haunts of Ægipans748 and Satyrs.


We learn from Ephorus, as well as Eudoxus and Timosthenes, that there are great numbers of islands scattered all over this sea; Clitarchus says that king Alexander was informed of an island so rich that the inhabitants gave a talent of gold for a horse, and of another749 upon which there was found a sacred mountain, shaded with a grove, the trees of which emitted odours of wondrous sweetness; this last was situate over against the Persian Gulf. Cerne750 is the name of an island situate opposite to Æthiopia, the size of which has not been ascertained, nor yet its distance from the main land: it is said that its inhabitants are exclusively Æthiopians. Ephorus states that those who sail from the Red Sea into the Æthiopian Ocean cannot get beyond the Columnæ751 there, some little islands so called. Polybius says106 that Cerne is situate at the extremity of Mauritania, over against Mount Atlas, and at a distance of eight stadia from the land; while Cornelius Nepos states that it lies very nearly in the same meridian as Carthage, at a distance from the mainland of ten miles, and that it is not more than two miles in circumference. It is said also that there is another island situate over against Mount Atlas, being itself known by the name of Atlantis.752 Five days’ sail beyond it there are deserts, as far as the Æthiopian Hesperiæ and the promontory, which we have mentioned as being called Hesperu Ceras, a point at which the face of the land first takes a turn towards the west and the Atlantic Sea. Facing this promontory are also said to be the islands called the Gorgades,753 the former abodes of the Gorgons, two days’ sail from the mainland, according to Xenophon of Lampsacus. Hanno, a general of the Carthaginians, penetrated as far as these regions, and brought back an account that the bodies of the women were covered with hair, but that the men, through their swiftness of foot, made their escape; in proof of which singularity in their skin, and as evidence of a fact so miraculous, he placed the skins754 of two of these females in the temple of Juno, which were to be seen there until the capture of Carthage. Beyond these even, are said to be the two islands of the Hesperides; but so uncertain are all the accounts relative to this subject, that Statius Sebosus says that it is forty days’ sail, past the coast of the Atlas range, from the islands of the Gorgons to those of the Hesperides, and one day’s sail from these to the Hesperu Ceras. Nor have we any more certain information relative to the islands of Mauritania. We only know, as a fact well-ascertained, that some few were discovered by Juba over against the country of the Autololes, upon which he established a manufactory of Gætulian purple.755



There are some authors who think that beyond these are the Fortunate Islands,756 and some others; the number of which Sebosus gives, as well as the distances, informing us that Junonia757 is an island seven hundred and fifty miles distant from Gades. He states also that Pluvialia758 and Capraria759 are the same distance from Junonia, to the west; and that in Pluvialia the only fresh water to be obtained is rain water. He then states that at a distance of two hundred and fifty miles from these, opposite the left of Mauritania, and situate in the direction of the sun at the eighth hour, are the Fortunate Islands,760 one of which, from its undulating surface, has the name of Invallis,761 and another that of Planasia,762 from the peculiarity763 of its appearance. He states also that the circumference of Invallis is three hundred miles, and that trees grow to a height of one hundred and fourteen feet.

Relative to the Fortunate Islands, Juba has ascertained the following facts: that they are situate to the south in nearly a due westerly direction, and at a distance from the Purple Islands of six hundred and twenty-five miles, the sailing being made for two hundred and fifty miles due west, and then three hundred and seventy-five towards the east.764 He states that the first is called Ombrios,765 and that it presents no traces of buildings whatever; that among the mountains there is a lake, and some trees,766 which bear a strong resemblance to giant108 fennel, and from which water is extracted; that drawn from those that are black is of a bitter taste, but that produced by the white ones is agreeable and good for drinking. He states also that a second island has the name of Junonia, but that it contains nothing beyond a small temple of stone: also that in its vicinity there is another, but smaller, island767 of the same name, and then another called Capraria, which is infested by multitudes of huge lizards. According to the same author, in sight of these islands is Ninguaria,768 which has received that name from its perpetual snows; this island abounds also in fogs. The one next to it is Canaria;769 it contains vast multitudes of dogs of very large size, two of which were brought home to Juba: there are some traces of buildings to be seen here. While all these islands abound in fruit and birds of every kind, this one produces in great numbers the date palm which bears the caryota, also pine nuts. Honey too abounds here, and in the rivers papyrus, and the fish called silurus,770 are found. These islands, however, are greatly annoyed by the putrefying bodies of monsters, which are constantly thrown up by the sea.


Having now fully described the earth, both without771 as well as within, it seems only proper that we should succinctly state the length and breadth of its various seas.

(33.) Polybius has stated, that in a straight line from the Straits of Gades to the mouth of the Mæotis, it is a distance of109 three thousand four hundred and thirty-seven miles and a half, and that, starting from the same point,772 the distance in a straight line to Sicily is twelve hundred and fifty miles, from thence to Crete three hundred and seventy-five, to Rhodes one hundred and eighty-seven and a half, to the Chelidonian Islands the same distance, to Cyprus two hundred and twenty-five, and from thence to Seleucia Pieria, in Syria, one hundred and fifteen miles: the sum of all which distances amounts to two thousand three hundred and forty miles. Agrippa estimates this same distance, in a straight line from the Straits of Gades to the Gulf of Issus, at three thousand three hundred and forty miles; in which computation, however, I am not certain that there is not some error in the figures, seeing that the same author has stated that the distance from the Straits of Sicily to Alexandria is thirteen hundred and fifty miles. Taking the whole length of the sea-line throughout the gulfs above-mentioned, and beginning at the same point,773 he makes it ten thousand and fifty-eight miles; to which number Artemidorus has added seven hundred and fifty-six: the same author, including in his calculation the shores of the Mæotis, makes the whole distance seventeen thousand three hundred and ninety miles. Such is the measurement given by men who have penetrated into distant countries, unaided by force of arms, and have, with a boldness that exhibits itself in the times of peace even, challenged, as it were, Fortune herself.

I shall now proceed to compare the dimensions of the various parts of the earth, however great the difficulties which may arise from the discrepancy of the accounts given by various authors: the most convenient method, however, will be that of adding the breadth to the length.774 Following this mode of reckoning, the dimensions of Europe will be eight thousand two hundred and ninety-four miles; of Africa, to adopt a mean between all the various accounts given by authors, the length is three thousand seven hundred and ninety-four miles, while the breadth, so far as it is inhabited, in no part exceeds110 two hundred and fifty miles.775 But, as Agrippa, including its deserts, makes it from Cyrenaica, a part of it, to the country of the Garamantes, so far as was then known, a further distance of nine hundred and ten miles, the entire length, added together, will make a distance of four thousand six hundred and eight miles. The length of Asia is generally admitted776 to be six thousand three hundred and seventy-five miles, and the breadth, which ought, properly, to be reckoned from the Æthiopian Sea to Alexandria,777 near the river Nile, so as to run through Meroë and Syene, is eighteen hundred and seventy-five. It appears then that Europe is greater than Asia, by a little less than one half of Asia, and greater than Africa by as much again of Africa and one-sixth. If all these sums are added together, it will be clearly seen that Europe is one-third, and a little more than one-eighth part of one-third, Asia one-fourth and one-fourteenth part of one-fourth, and Africa, one-fifth and one-sixtieth part of one-fifth of the whole earth.778


To the above we shall add even another instance of ingenious discovery by the Greeks, and indeed of the most minute skilfulness; that so nothing may be wanting to our investigation of the geographical divisions of the earth, and the various countries thereof which have been pointed out; that it may be the better understood, too, what affinity, or relationship as it were, exists between one region and another, in respect to the length of their days and nights, and in which of them the shadows are of equal length, and the distance from the pole is the same. I shall therefore give these particulars as well, and shall state the divisions of the whole earth in accordance with the various sections of the heavens. The lines or segments which111 divide the world are many in number; by our people they are known as “circuli” or circles, by the Greeks they are called “paralleli” or parallels.

(34.) The first begins at that part of India which looks towards the south, and extends to Arabia and those who dwell upon the borders of the Red Sea. It embraces the Gedrosi, the Carmanii, the Persæ, the Elymæi, Parthyene, Aria, Susiane, Mesopotamia, Seleucia surnamed Babylonia, Arabia as far as Petra, Cœle Syria, Pelusium, the lower parts of Egypt called the Chora of Alexandria, the maritime parts of Africa, all the cities of Cyrenaica, Thapsus, Adrumetum, Clupea, Carthage, Utica, the two Hippo’s, Numidia, the two Mauritanias, the Atlantic Sea, and the Pillars of Hercules. Within the meridian of this parallel, on the middle day of the equinox, the pin of the dial, usually called the gnomon, if seven feet in length, throws a shadow at mid-day no more than four feet long: the longest day and night are fourteen equinoctial hours respectively, the shortest being only ten.

The next circle or parallel begins with the western parts of India, and runs through the middle of Parthia, through Persepolis, the nearer parts of Persis, the nearer Arabia, Judæa, and the people who live near Mount Libanus, and it embraces Babylon, Idumæa, Samaria, Hierosolyma, Ascalon, Joppa, Cæsarea in Phœnicia, Ptolemais, Sidon, Tyre, Berytus, Botrys, Tripolis, Byblus, Antiochia, Laodicea, Seleucia, the maritime parts of Cilicia, the southern parts of Cyprus, Crete, Lilybæum in Sicily, and the northern parts of Africa and Numidia. In these regions, at the time of the equinox, a gnomon of thirty-five feet in length gives only a shadow twenty-four feet long; and the longest day and night are respectively fourteen equinoctial hours, and one-fifth of an hour, in length.

The third circle or parallel begins at the part of India which lies in the vicinity of Mount Imaüs, and runs through the Caspian Gates and the nearer parts of Media, Cataonia, Cappadocia, Taurus, Amanus, Issus, the Passes of Cilicia, Soli, Tarsus, Cyprus, Pisidia, Side in Pamphylia, Lycaonia, Patara in Lycia, Xanthus, Caunus, Rhodes, Cos, Halicarnassus, Cnidos, Doris, Chios, Delos, the middle of the Cyclades, Gythium, Malea, Argos, Laconia, Elis, Olympia, Messenia in Peloponnesus, Syracuse, Catina, the middle of Sicily, the southern parts of Sardinia, Carteia, and Gades. A gnomon,112 one hundred inches in length, throws a shadow seventy-seven inches long; the length of the longest day is fourteen equinoctial hours and a half, plus one thirtieth of an hour.

Under the fourth circle or parallel lie those parts of India which are on the other side of the Imaüs, the southern parts of Cappadocia, Galatia, Mysia, Sardis, Smyrna, Sipylus, Mount Tmolus, Lydia, Caria, Ionia, Tralles, Colophon, Ephesus, Miletus, Chios, Samos, the Icarian Sea, the northern part of the Cyclades, Athens, Megara, Corinth, Sicyon, Achaia, Patræ, the Isthmus, Epirus, the northern parts of Sicily, the eastern parts of Gallia Narbonensis, and the sea-coast of Spain, from New Carthage westward. In these districts a gnomon of twenty-one feet throws a shadow of sixteen feet in length; the longest day contains fourteen equinoctial hours and two-thirds of an hour.

Under the fifth zone are included, from the entrance to the Caspian Sea, the Bactri, Iberia, Armenia, Mysia, Phrygia, the Hellespont, Troas, Tenedos, Abydos, Scepsis, Ilium, Mount Ida, Cyzicus, Lampsacus, Sinope, Amisus, Heraclea in Pontus, Paphlagonia, Lemnos, Imbros, Thasos, Cassandria, Thessaly, Macedonia, Larissa, Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Pella, Edessa, Berœa, Pharsalia, Carystus, Eubœa in Bœotia, Chalcis, Delphi, Acarnania, Ætolia, Apollonia, Brudisium, Tarentum, Thurii, Locri, Rhegium, the Lucani, Neapolis, Puteoli, the Tuscan Sea, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, and the middle of Spain. A gnomon, seven feet in length, in these countries gives a shadow of six feet, and the length of the day is fifteen equinoctial hours.

The sixth division, in which Rome is included, embraces the Caspian nations, Caucasus, the northern parts of Armenia, Apollonia on the Rhyndacus, Nicomedia, Nicæa, Chalcedon, Byzantium, Lysimachia, the Chersonnesus, the Gulf of Melas, Abdera, Samothracia, Maronea, Ænus, Bessica, Thracia, Mædica, Pæonia, the Illyrii, Dyrrhachium, Canusium, the extreme parts of Apulia, Campania, Etruria, Pisæ, Luna, Luca, Genua, Liguria, Antipolis, Massilia, Narbo, Tarraco, the middle parts of Hispania Tarraconensis, and thence through Lusitania. A gnomon of nine feet here throws a shadow eight feet long; the greatest length of the day is fifteen equinoctial hours, plus one-ninth part of an hour, or, according to Nigidius, one-fifth.

The seventh division begins on the other side of the Caspian113 Sea, and the line runs above Callatis, and through the Bosporus, the Borysthenes, Tomi, the back part of Thrace, the Triballi, the remainder of Illyricum, the Adriatic Sea, Aquileia, Altinum, Venetia, Vicetia, Patavium, Verona, Cremona, Ravenna, Ancona, Picenum, the Marsi, the Peligni, the Sabini, Umbria, Ariminum, Bononia, Placentia, Mediolanum, all the districts at the foot of the Apennines, and, beyond the Alps, Gallia Aquitanica, Vienna, the Pyrenæan range, and Celtiberia. A gnomon thirty-five feet in length here throws a shadow of thirty-six feet, except in some parts of Venetia, where the shadow just equals the length of the gnomon; the longest day is fifteen equinoctial hours, plus three-fifths of an hour.

Thus far we have set forth the results of observations made by the ancients. The remaining part of the earth has been divided, through the careful researches of those of more recent times, by three additional parallels. The first runs from the Tanais through the Mæotis and the country of the Sarmatæ, as far as the Borysthenes, and so through the Daci and part of Germany, and the Gallic provinces, as far as the shores of the ocean, the longest day being sixteen hours.

The second parallel runs through the country of the Hyperborei and the island of Britannia, the longest day being seventeen hours in length.

The last of all is the Scythian parallel, which runs from the Riphæan range to Thule, in which, as we have already stated,779 the year is divided into days and nights alternately, of six months’ duration. The same authors have also placed before the first parallel, which we have here given,780 two other parallels or circles; the first running through the island of Meroë and the city of Ptolemais which was built on the Red Sea for the chase of the elephant; where the longest day is twelve hours and a half in length; and the second passing through Syene in Egypt, in which the longest day is thirteen hours in length. The same authors have also added half an hour to each of the parallels, till they come to the last.

Thus far on the Geography of the earth.

Summary.—Towns mentioned, eleven hundred and ninety-four. Nations, five hundred and seventy-six. Noted rivers,114 one hundred and fifteen. Famous mountains, thirty-eight. Islands, one hundred and eight. Peoples or towns no longer in existence, ninety-five. Remarkable events, narratives, and observations, two thousand two hundred and fourteen.

Roman authors quoted.—M. Agrippa,781 M. Varro,782 Varro Atacinus,783 Cornelius Nepos,784 Hyginus,785 L. Vetus,786 Mela Pomponius,787 Domitius Corbulo,788 Licinius Mucianus,789 Claudius Cæsar,790 Arruntius,791 Sebosus,792 Fabricius Tuscus,793 T. Livius,794 Seneca,795 Nigidius.796

Foreign authors quoted.—King Juba,797 Hecatæus,798 Hellenicus,799 Damastes,800 Eudoxus,801 Dicæarchus,802 Bæton,803115 Timosthenes,804 Patrocles,805 Demodamas,806 Clitarchus,807 Eratosthenes,808 Alexander the Great,809 Ephorus,810 Hipparchus,811 Panætius,812 Callimachus,813 Artemidorus,814 Apollodorus,815 Agathocles,816 Polybius,817 Eumachus,818 Timæus Siculus,819 Alexander Polyhistor,820 Isidorus,821 Amometus,822 Metrodorus,823 Posidonius,824 Onesicritus,825 Nearchus,826 Megasthenes,827 Diognetus,828 Aristocreon,829 Bion,830 Dalion,831 116the Younger Simonides,832 Basilis,833 Xenophon834 of Lampsacus.





Such then is the present state of the world, and of the countries, nations, more remarkable seas, islands, and cities which it contains.836 The nature of the animated beings which exist upon it, is hardly in any degree less worthy of our contemplation than its other features; if, indeed, the human mind is able to embrace the whole of so diversified a subject. Our first attention is justly due to Man, for whose sake all other things appear to have been produced by Nature; though, on the other hand, with so great and so severe penalties for the enjoyment of her bounteous gifts, that it is far from easy to determine, whether she has proved to him a kind parent, or a merciless step-mother.

In the first place, she obliges him alone, of all animated beings, to clothe himself with the spoils of the others; while, to all the rest, she has given various kinds of coverings, such as shells, crusts, spines, hides, furs, bristles, hair, down, feathers, scales, and fleeces.837 The very trunks of the trees even, she has protected against the effects of heat and cold by a bark, which is, in some cases, twofold.838 Man alone, at the very moment of118 his birth cast naked upon the naked earth,839 does she abandon to cries, to lamentations, and, a thing that is the case with no other animal whatever, to tears: this, too, from the very moment that he enters upon existence.840 But as for laughter, why, by Hercules!—to laugh, if but for an instant only, has never been granted to man before the fortieth day841 from his birth, and then it is looked upon as a miracle of precocity. Introduced thus to the light, man has fetters and swathings instantly put upon all his limbs,842 a thing that falls to the lot of none of the brutes even that are born among us. Born to such singular good fortune,843 there lies the animal, which is destined to command all the others, lies, fast bound hand and foot, and weeping aloud! such being the penalty which he has to pay on beginning life, and that for the sole fault of having been born. Alas! for the folly of those who can think after such a beginning as this, that they have been born for the display of vanity!

The earliest presage of future strength, the earliest bounty of time, confers upon him nought but the resemblance to a quadruped.844 How soon does man gain the power of walking? How soon does he gain the faculty of speech? How soon is his mouth fitted for mastication? How long are the pulsations of the crown of his head to proclaim him the weakest of all animated119 beings?845 And then, the diseases to which he is subject, the numerous remedies which he is obliged to devise against his maladies, and those thwarted every now and then by new forms and features of disease.846 While other animals have an instinctive knowledge of their natural powers; some, of their swiftness of pace, some of their rapidity of flight, and some again of their power of swimming; man is the only one that knows nothing, that can learn nothing without being taught; he can neither speak, nor walk, nor eat,847 and, in short, he can do nothing, at the prompting of nature only, but weep. For this it is, that many have been of opinion, that it were better not to have been born, or if born, to have been annihilated848 at the earliest possible moment.

To man alone, of all animated beings, has it been given, to grieve,849 to him alone to be guilty of luxury and excess; and that in modes innumerable, and in every part of his body. Man is the only being that is a prey to ambition, to avarice, to120 an immoderate desire of life,850 to superstition,851—he is the only one that troubles himself about his burial, and even what is to become of him after death.852 By none is life held on a tenure more frail;853 none are more influenced by unbridled desires for all things; none are sensible of fears more bewildering; none are actuated by rage more frantic and violent. Other animals, in fine, live at peace with those of their own kind; we only see them unite to make a stand against those of a different species. The fierceness of the lion is not expended in fighting with its own kind; the sting of the serpent is not aimed at the serpent;854 and the monsters of the sea even, and the fishes, vent their rage only on those of a different species. But with man,—by Hercules! most of his misfortunes are occasioned by man.855

(1.) We have already given856 a general description of the human race in our account of the different nations. Nor, indeed, do I now propose to treat of their manners and customs, which are of infinite variety and almost as numerous as the various groups themselves, into which mankind is divided; but yet there are some things, which, I think, ought not to be omitted;121 and more particularly, in relation to those peoples which dwell at a considerable distance from the sea;857 among which, I have no doubt, that some facts will appear of an astounding nature, and, indeed, incredible to many. Who, for instance, could ever believe in the existence of the Æthiopians, who had not first seen them? Indeed what is there that does not appear marvellous, when it comes to our knowledge for the first time?858 How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible, until they have been actually effected?859 But it is the fact, that every moment of our existence we are distrusting the power and the majesty of Nature, if the mind, instead of grasping her in her entirety, considers her only in detail. Not to speak of peacocks, the spotted skins of tigers and panthers, and the rich colours of so many animals, a trifling thing apparently to speak of, but of inestimable importance, when we give it due consideration, is the existence of so many languages among the various nations, so many modes of speech, so great a variety of expressions; that to another, a man who is of a different country, is almost the same as no man at all.860 And then, too, the human features and countenance, although composed of but some ten parts or little more, are so fashioned, that among so many thousands of men, there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another, a result which no art could possibly have produced, when confined to so limited a number of combinations. In most points, however, of this nature, I shall not be content to pledge my own credit only, but shall confirm it in preference by referring to my authorities, which shall be given on all subjects of a nature to inspire doubt. My readers, however, must make no objection to following the Greeks, who have proved them122selves the most careful observers, as well as of the longest standing.861


We have already stated, that there are certain tribes of the Scythians, and, indeed, many other nations, which feed upon human flesh.862 This fact itself might, perhaps, appear incredible, did we not recollect, that in the very centre of the earth, in Italy and Sicily, nations formerly existed with these monstrous propensities, the Cyclopes,863 and the Læstrygones, for example; and that, very recently, on the other side of the Alps, it was the custom to offer human sacrifices, after the manner of those nations;864 and the difference is but small between sacrificing human beings and eating them.865

In the vicinity also of those who dwell in the northern regions,123 and not far from the spot from which the north wind arises, and the place which is called its cave,866 and is known by the name of Geskleithron, the Arimaspi are said to exist, whom I have previously mentioned,867 a nation remarkable for having but one eye, and that placed in the middle of the forehead. This race is said to carry on a perpetual warfare with the Griffins, a kind of monster, with wings, as they are commonly868 represented, for the gold which they dig out of the mines, and which these wild beasts retain and keep watch over with a singular degree of cupidity, while the Arimaspi are equally desirous to get possession of it.869 Many authors have stated to124 this effect, among the most illustrious of whom are Herodotus and Aristeas of Proconnesus.870

Beyond the other Scythian Anthropophagi, there is a country called Abarimon, situate in a certain great valley of Mount Imaus,871 the inhabitants of which are a savage race, whose feet are turned backwards,872 relatively to their legs: they possess wonderful velocity, and wander about indiscriminately with the wild beasts. We learn from Beeton, whose duty it was to take the measurements of the routes of Alexander the Great, that this people cannot breathe in any climate except their own, for which reason it is impossible to take them before any of the neighbouring kings; nor could any of them be brought before Alexander himself.

The Anthropophagi, whom we have previously mentioned873 as dwelling ten days’ journey beyond the Borysthenes, according to the account of Isigonus of Nicæa, were in the habit of drinking out of human skulls,874 and placing the scalps, with the hair attached, upon their breasts, like so many napkins. The same author relates, that there is, in Albania, a certain race of men, whose eyes are of a sea-green colour, and who have white hair from their earliest childhood,875 and that these people see better in the night than in the day. He states also125 that the Sauromatæ, who dwell ten days’ journey beyond the Borysthenes, only take food every other day.876

Crates of Pergamus relates, that there formerly existed in the vicinity of Parium, in the Hellespont, a race of men whom he calls Ophiogenes, and that by their touch they were able to cure those who had been stung by serpents, extracting the poison by the mere imposition of the hand.877 Varro tells us, that there are still a few individuals in that district, whose saliva effectually cures the stings of serpents. The same, too, was the case with the tribe of the Psylli,878 in Africa, according to the account of Agatharchides; these people received their name from Psyllus, one of their kings, whose tomb is in existence, in the district of the Greater Syrtes. In the bodies of these people there was by nature a certain kind of poison, which was fatal to serpents, and the odour of which overpowered them with torpor: with them it was a custom to expose children immediately after their birth to the fiercest serpents, and in this manner to make proof of the fidelity of their wives, the serpents not being repelled by such children as were the offspring of adultery.879 This nation, however, was almost entirely extirpated by the slaughter made of them by the126 Nasamones, who now occupy their territory.880 This race, however, still survives in a few persons who are descendants of those who either took to flight or else were absent on the occasion of the battle. The Marsi, in Italy, are still in possession of the same power, for which, it is said, they are indebted to their origin from the son of Circe, from whom they acquired it as a natural quality. But the fact is, that all men possess in their bodies a poison which acts upon serpents, and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as though they had been touched with boiling water. The same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment it enters their throat, and more particularly so, if it should happen to be the saliva of a man who is fasting.881

Above the Nasamones,882 and the Machlyæ, who border upon them, are found, as we learn from Calliphanes, the nation of the Androgyni, a people who unite the two sexes in the same individual, and alternately perform the functions of each. Aristotle also states, that their right breast is that of a male, the left that of a female.883

Isigonus and Nymphodorus inform us that there are in Africa certain families of enchanters,884 who, by means of their charms, in the form, of commendations, can cause cattle to perish, trees to wither, and infants to die. Isigonus adds, that127 there are among the Triballi and the Illyrii, some persons of this description, who also have the power of fascination with the eyes, and can even kill those on whom they fix their gaze for any length of time, more especially if their look denotes anger; the age of puberty is said to be particularly obnoxious to the malign influence of such persons.885

A still more remarkable circumstance is, the fact that these persons have two pupils in each eye.886 Apollonides says, that there are certain females of this description in Scythia, who are known as Bythiæ, and Phylarchus states that a tribe of the Thibii in Pontus, and many other persons as well, have a double pupil in one eye, and in the other the figure of a horse.887 He also remarks, that the bodies of these persons will not sink in water,888 even though weighed down by their garments.128 Damon gives an account of a race of people, not very much unlike them, the Pharnaces of Æthiopia, whose perspiration is productive of consumption889 to the body of every person that it touches. Cicero also, one of our own writers, makes the remark, that the glances of all women who have a double pupil is noxious.890

To this extent, then, has nature, when she produced in man, in common with the wild beasts, a taste for human flesh, thought fit to produce poisons as well in every part of his body, and in the eyes even of some persons, taking care that there should be no evil influence in existence, which was not to be found in the human body. Not far from the city of Rome, in the territory of the Falisci, a few families are found, who are known by the name of Hirpi. These people perform a yearly sacrifice to Apollo, on Mount Soracte, on which occasion they walk over a burning pile of wood, without being scorched even. On this account, by virtue of a decree of the senate, they are always exempted from military service, and from all other public duties.891

Some individuals, again, are born with certain parts of the body endowed with properties of a marvellous nature. Such was the case with King Pyrrhus, the great toe of whose right foot cured diseases of the spleen, merely by touching the patient.892 We are also informed, that this toe could not be reduced129 to ashes together with the other portions of his body; upon which it was placed in a coffer, and preserved in a temple.

India, and the region of Æthiopia more especially, abounds in wonders.893 In India the largest of animals are produced; their dogs,894 for example, are much bigger than those of any other country.895 The trees, too, are said to be of such vast height, that it is impossible to send an arrow over them. This is the result of the singular fertility of the soil, the equable temperature of the atmosphere, and the abundance of water; which, if we are to believe what is said, are such, that a single fig-tree896 is capable of affording shelter to a whole troop of horse. The reeds here are also of such enormous length, that each portion of them, between the joints, forms a tube, of which a boat is made that is capable of holding three men.897 It is a well-known fact, that many of the people here are more than five cubits in height.898 These people never expectorate, are subject to no pains, either in the head, the teeth, or the eyes, and rarely in any other parts of the body; so well is the heat of the sun calculated to strengthen the constitution. Their philosophers, who are called Gymnosophists, remain in one posture, with their eyes immovably fixed upon the sun, from its rising to its setting, and, during the whole of the day, they are accustomed to stand in the burning sands on one foot, first one and then the other.899 According to the account130 of Megasthenes, dwelling upon a mountain called Nulo, there is a race of men who have their feet turned backwards,900 with eight toes on each foot.901

On many of the mountains again, there is a tribe of men who have the heads of dogs,902 and clothe themselves with the skins of wild beasts. Instead of speaking, they bark; and, furnished with claws, they live by hunting and catching birds. According to the story, as given by Ctesias, the number of these people is more than a hundred and twenty thousand: and the same author tells us, that there is a certain race in India, of which the females are pregnant once only in the course of their lives, and that the hair of the children becomes white the instant they are born. He speaks also of another race of men, who are known as Monocoli,903 who have only one leg, but are able to leap with surprising agility.904 The same people are also called Sciapodæ,905 because they are in the habit of lying on their backs, during the time of the extreme heat, and protect themselves from the sun by the shade of their feet. These people, he says, dwell not very far from the Troglodytæ;906 to the west of whom again there is a tribe who are without necks, and have eyes in their shoulders.907


Among the mountainous districts of the eastern parts of India, in what is called the country of the Catharcludi, we find the Satyr,908 an animal of extraordinary swiftness. These go sometimes on four feet, and sometimes walk erect; they have also the features of a human being. On account of their swiftness, these creatures are never to be caught, except when they are either aged or sickly. Tauron gives the name of Choromandæ to a nation which dwell in the woods and have no proper voice. These people screech in a frightful manner; their bodies are covered with hair, their eyes are of a sea-green colour, and their teeth like those of the dog.909 Eudoxus tells us, that in the southern parts of India, the men have feet a cubit in length; while those of the women are so remarkably small, that they are called Struthopodes.910

Megasthenes places among the Nomades911 of India, a people who are called Scyritæ. These have merely holes in their faces instead of nostrils, and flexible feet, like the body of the serpent. At the very extremity of India, on the eastern side, near the source of the river Ganges, there is the nation of the Astomi, a people who have no mouths; their bodies are rough and hairy, and they cover themselves with a down912 plucked from the leaves of trees. These people subsist only by breathing and by the odours which they inhale through the132 nostrils. They support themselves upon neither meat nor drink; when they go upon a long journey they only carry with them various odoriferous roots and flowers, and wild apples,913 that they may not be without something to smell at. But an odour, which is a little more powerful than usual, easily destroys them.914

Beyond these people, and at the very extremity of the mountains, the Trispithami915 and the Pygmies are said to exist; two races which are but three spans in height, that is to say, twenty-seven inches only. They enjoy a salubrious atmosphere, and a perpetual spring, being sheltered by the mountains from the northern blasts; it is these people that Homer916 has mentioned as being waged war upon by cranes. It is said, that they are in the habit of going down every spring to the sea-shore, in a large body, seated on the backs of rams and goats, and armed with arrows, and there destroy the eggs and the young of those birds; that this expedition occupies them for the space of three months, and that otherwise it would be impossible for them to withstand the increasing multitudes of the cranes. Their cabins, it is said, are built of mud, mixed with feathers and egg-shells. Aristotle, indeed, says, that they dwell in caves; but, in all other respects, he gives the same details as other writers.917

Isigonus informs us, that the Cyrni, a people of India, live to their four hundredth year; and he is of opinion that the same is the case also with the Æthiopian Macrobii,918 the Seræ, and the inhabitants of Mount Athos.919 In the case of these133 last, it is supposed to be owing to the flesh of vipers, which they use as food;920 in consequence of which, they are free also from all noxious animals, both in their hair and their garments.

According to Onesicritus, in those parts of India where there is no shadow,921 the bodies of men attain a height of five cubits and two palms,922 and their life is prolonged to one hundred and thirty years; they die without any symptoms of old age, and just as if they were in the middle period of life. Crates of Pergamus calls the Indians, whose age exceeds one hundred years, by the name of Gymnetæ;923 but not a few authors style them Macrobii. Ctesias mentions a tribe of them, known by the name of Pandore, whose locality is in the valleys, and who live to their two hundredth year; their hair is white in youth, and becomes black in old age.924 On the other hand, there are some people joining up to the country of the Macrobii, who never live beyond their fortieth year, and their females have children once only during their lives. This circumstance is also mentioned by Agatharchides, who states, in addition, that they live925 on locusts,926 and are very swift of foot. Clitarchus and Megasthenes give these people the name of Mandi, and enumerate as many as three hundred villages which belong to them. Their women are capable of bearing children in the seventh year of their age, and become old at forty.927


Artemidorus states that in the island of Taprobane,928 life is prolonged to an extreme length, while, at the same time, the body is exempt from weakness. According to Durisis, some of the Indians have connection with beasts, and from this union a mixture of half man, half beast, is produced.929 Among the Calingæ, a nation also of India, the women conceive at five years of age, and do not live beyond their eighth year.930 In other places again, there are men born with long hairy tails,931 and of remarkable swiftness of foot; while there are others that have ears so large as to cover the whole body.932

The Oritæ are divided from the Indians by the river Arabis;933 they are acquainted with no food whatever except fish, which they are in the habit of tearing to pieces with their nails, and drying in the sun.934 Crates of Pergamus states, that the Troglodytæ, who dwell beyond Æthiopia, are able to outrun the horse; and that a tribe of the Æthiopians, who are known as the Syrbotæ, exceed eight cubits in height.

There is a tribe of Æthiopian Nomades dwelling on the banks of the river Astragus, towards the north, and about135 twenty days’ journey from the ocean. These people are called Menismini; they live on the milk of the animal which we call cynocephalus,935 and rear large flocks of these creatures, taking care to kill the males, except such as they may preserve for the purpose of breeding. In the deserts of Africa, men are frequently seen to all appearance, and then vanish in an instant.936

Nature, in her ingenuity, has created all these marvels in the human race, with others of a similar nature, as so many amusements to herself, though they appear miraculous to us. But who is there that can enumerate all the things that she brings to pass each day, I may almost say each hour? As a striking evidence of her power, let it be sufficient for me to have cited whole nations in the list of her prodigies.

Let us now proceed to mention some other particulars connected with Man, the truth of which is universally admitted.


(3.) That three children are sometimes produced at one birth, is a well-known fact; the case, for instance, of the Horatii and the Curiatii. Where a greater number of children than this is produced at one birth, it is looked upon as portentous, except, indeed, in Egypt, where the water of the river Nile, which is used for drink, is a promoter of fecundity.937 Very recently, towards the close of the reign of the Emperor Augustus, now deified, a certain woman of the lower orders, at Ostia, whose name was Fausta, brought into the world, at one birth, two male children and two females, a presage, no doubt, of the famine which shortly after took place. We find it stated, also, that in Peloponnesus, a woman was delivered of five938 children at a birth four successive times, and that the greater part of all these children survived. Trogus informs us, that in136 Egypt,939 as many as seven children are occasionally produced at one birth.940

Individuals are occasionally born, who belong to both sexes; such persons we call by the name of hermaphrodites;941 they were formerly called Androgyni, and were looked upon as monsters,942 but at the present day they are employed for sensual purposes.943

Pompeius Magnus, among the decorations of his theatre,944 erected certain statues of remarkable persons, which had been executed with the greatest care by artists of the very highest137 reputation. Among others, we here read an inscription to the following effect: “Eutychis,945 of Tralles,946 was borne to the funeral pile by twenty of her children, having had thirty in all.”947 Also, Alcippe948 was delivered of an elephant949—but then that must be looked upon as a prodigy; as in the case, too, where, at the commencement of the Marsian war,950 a female slave was delivered of a serpent.951 Among these monstrous births, also, there are beings produced which unite in one body the forms of several creatures. For instance, Claudius Cæsar informs us, in his writings, that a Hippocentaur was born in Thessaly, but died on the same day: and indeed I have seen one myself, which in the reign of that emperor was brought to him from Egypt, preserved in honey.952 We have a case,138 also, of a child at Saguntum, which returned immediately into its mother’s womb, the same year in which that place was destroyed by Hannibal.

(4.) The change of females into males is undoubtedly no fable. We find it stated in the Annals, that, in the consulship of P. Licinius Crassus and C. Cassius Longinus,953 a girl, who was living at Casinum954 with her parents, was changed into a boy; and that, by the command of the Aruspices, he was conveyed away to a desert island. Licinius Mucianus informs us, that he once saw at Argos a person whose name was then Arescon, though he had been formerly called Arescusa: that this person had been married to a man, but that, shortly after, a beard and marks of virility made their appearance, upon which he took to himself a wife. He had also seen a boy at Smyrna,955 to whom the very same thing had happened. I myself saw in Africa one L. Cossicius, a citizen of Thysdris,956 who had been changed into a man the very day on which he was married to a husband.957 When women are delivered of twins, it rarely139 happens but that either the mother herself, or one, at least, of the twins perishes.958 If, however, the twins should happen to be of different sexes, it is less probable that both of them will survive. Female children are matured more quickly than males,959 and become old sooner. Of the two, male children most frequently are known to move in the womb;960 they mostly lie on the right side of the body, females on the left.961


In other animals the period of gestation and of birth is fixed and definite, while man, on the other hand, is born at all seasons of the year,962 and without any certain period of gestation;963 for one child is born at the seventh month, another at the eighth, and so on, even to the beginning of the tenth and eleventh. Those children which are born before the seventh month are never known to survive;964 unless, indeed, they happen140 to have been conceived the day before or the day after the full moon, or at the change of the moon. In Egypt it is not an uncommon thing for children to be born at the eighth month; and in Italy, too, children that are born at this period live just as long as others, notwithstanding the opinions of the ancients to the contrary. There are great variations in this respect, which occur in numerous ways. Vestilia, for instance, who was the wife of C. Herdicius, and was afterwards married, first, to Pomponius,965 and then to Orfitus, very eminent citizens, after having brought forth four children, always at the seventh month, had Suillius Rufus at the eleventh month, and then Corbulo at the seventh, both of whom became consuls; after which, at the eighth month, she had Cæsonia, who became the wife of the Emperor Caius.966 As for children who are born at the eighth month, the greatest difficulty with them is to get them over the first forty days.967 Pregnant women, on the other hand, are in the greatest danger during the fourth and the eighth month, and abortions during these periods are fatal. Masurius informs us, that L. Papirius, the prætor, on one occasion, when the next but one in succession was urging his suit at law, decided against him, in favour of the heir,968 although his mother declared that her period of gestation had lasted thirteen months—upon the ground that it did not appear that there was any fixed and definite period of gestation.969



On the tenth day after conception, pains are felt in the head, vertigo, and dimness of the sight; these signs, together with loathing of food and rising of the stomach, indicate the formation of the future human being. If it is a male that is conceived, the colour of the pregnant woman is more healthy,971 and the birth less painful: the child moves in the womb upon the fortieth day. In the conception of a child of the other sex, all the symptoms are totally different: the mother experiences an almost insupportable weight, there is a slight swelling of the legs and the groin, and the first movement of the child is not felt until the ninetieth day. But, whatever the sex of the child, the mother is sensible of the greatest languor at the time when the hair of the fœtus first begins to grow, and at the full moon; at which latter time it is that children newly born are exposed to the greatest danger. In addition to this, the mode of walking, and indeed everything that can be mentioned, is of consequence in the case of a woman who is pregnant. Thus, for instance, women who have used too much salted meat will bring forth children without nails: parturition, too, is more difficult, if they do not hold their breath. It is fatal, too, to yawn during labour;972 and abortion ensues, if the female should happen to sneeze just after the sexual congress.

(7.) It is a subject for pity, and even for a feeling of shame, when one reflects that the origin of the most vain of all animated beings is thus frail: so much so, indeed, that very often the smell even of a lamp just extinguished is a cause of abortion.973 From such beginnings as these springs the tyrant,142 from such the murderous dispositions of men. Thou man, who placest thy confidence in the strength of thy body, thou, who dost embrace the gifts of Fortune, and look upon thyself, not only as her fosterling, but even as her own born child, thou, whose mind is ever thirsting for blood,974 thou who, puffed up with some success or other, dost think thyself a god—by how trifling a thing might thy life have been cut short! Even this very day, something still less even may have the same effect, the puncture, for instance, of the tiny sting of the serpent; or even, as befell the poet Anacreon,975 the swallowing of the stone of a raisin, or of a single hair in a draught of milk, by which the prætor and senator, Fabius, was choked, and so met his death. He only, in fact, will be able to form a just estimate of the value of life, who will always bear in mind the extreme frailty of its tenure.


It is contrary to nature for children to come into the world with the feet first, for which reason such children are called Agrippæ, meaning that they are born with difficulty.976 In this manner, M. Agrippa977 is said to have been born; the143 only instance, almost, of good fortune, out of the number of all those who have come into the world under these circumstances. And yet, even he may be considered to have paid the penalty of the unfavourable omen produced by the unnatural mode of his birth, in the unfortunate weakness of his legs, the misfortunes of his youth, a life spent in the very midst of arms and slaughter, and ever exposed to the approaches of death; in his children, too, who have all proved a very curse to the earth, and more especially, the two Agrippinas, who were the mothers respectively of Caius and of Domitius Nero,978 so many firebrands hurled among the human race. In addition to all this, we may add the shortness of his life, he being cut off in his fifty-first year, the distress which he experienced from the adulteries of his wife,979 and the grievous tyranny to which he was subjected by his father-in-law. Agrippina, too, the mother of Nero, who was lately Emperor, and who proved himself, throughout the whole of his reign, the enemy of the human race, has left it recorded in writing, that he was born with his feet first. It is in the due order of nature that man should enter the world with the head first, and be carried to the tomb in a contrary fashion.


Those children, whose birth has cost the mother her life, are evidently born under more favourable auspices; for such was the case with the first Scipio Africanus; the first, too, of the Cæsars was so named, from his having been removed by an incision in his mother’s womb. For a similar reason, too, the Cæsones were called by that name.980 Manilius, also, who entered Carthage with his army, was born in a similar manner.



A child used to be called Vopiscus,981 who, when twins had been conceived, had been retained in the womb and born alive, the other having perished by abortion. There are, too, some very remarkable instances of this kind, although they are singularly rare and uncommon.


Few animals, except the female of the human species, receive the male when pregnant. In only one or two species, and no more, does superfœtation ever take place.982 Cases are to be found stated in the journals of physicians, and of others who have paid particular attention to the subject, in which twelve embryos983 have been removed at a single abortion. When, however, but a very short time has intervened between two conceptions, the embryos both of them proceed to maturity; as was seen to be the case with Hercules and his brother Iphicles.984 This was the case also with the woman who brought forth two children at a birth, one of whom bore a resemblance to her husband, and the other to her paramour. So too, with a female slave in Proconnesus,985 who was delivered of two children at one birth, one of whom bore a strong resemblance to her master, and the other to her master’s steward, with both of whom she had had connection on the same day; with another woman who was delivered of two children at a birth, the one after the usual period of gestation, the other an embryo145 only five months old: and again, with another female, who, having been delivered of one child at the end of seven months, in due course, two months afterwards, brought forth twins.986


It is universally known that well-formed parents often produce defective children; and on the other hand, defective parents children who are well formed, or else imperfect in the same part of the body as the parents. It is a well-known fact also, that marks, moles, and even scars, are reproduced in members of the same family in successive generations. The mark which the Daci make on their arms for the purpose of denoting their origin, is known to last even to the fourth generation.987

(12.) We have heard it stated that three members of the family of the Lepidi have been born, though not in an uninterrupted succession, with one of the eyes covered with a membrane.988 We observe, too, that some children strongly resemble their grandfather, and that of twins one child is like the father, while the other resembles the mother; and have known cases where a child that was born a year after another, resembled him as exactly as though they had been twins. Some women have children like themselves, some like their husband, while others again bear children who resemble neither the one nor the other. In some cases the female children resemble the father, and the males the mother. The case of Nicæus, the celebrated wrestler of Byzantium, is a well-known and undoubted146 instance. His mother was the produce of an act of adultery, committed with a male of Æthiopia; and although she herself differed in no way from the ordinary complexion of other females, he was born with all the swarthy complexion of his Æthiopian grandfather.989

These strong features of resemblance proceed, no doubt, from the imagination of the parents, over which we may reasonably believe that many casual circumstances have a very powerful influence; such, for instance, as the action of the eyes, the ears, or the memory, or impressions received at the moment of conception. A thought990 even, momentarily passing through the mind of either of the parents, may be supposed to produce a resemblance to one of them separately, or else to the two combined. Hence it is that the varieties are much more numerous in the appearance of man than in that of other animals; seeing that, in the former, the rapidity of the ideas, the quickness of the perception, and the varied powers of the intellect, tend to impress upon the features peculiar and diversified marks; while in the case of the other animals, the mind is immovable, and just the same in each and all individuals of the same species.991 A man named Artemon, one of the common people,992 bore so strong a resemblance to Antiochus, the king of Syria, that his queen Laodice, after her husband Antiochus was slain, acted the farce of getting this man993 to recommend147 her as the successor to the crown. Vibius, a member of the plebeian order,994 and Publicius as well, a freedman who had formerly been a slave, so strongly resembled Pompeius Magnus in appearance as to be scarcely distinguishable from him; they both had that ingenuous countenance995 of his, and that fine forehead,996 which so strongly bespoke his noble descent. It was a similar degree of resemblance to this, that caused the surname of his cook, Menogenes, to be given to the father of Pompeius Magnus, he having already obtained that of Strabo, on account of the cast in his eye,997 a defect which he had contracted through imitating a similar one in his slave. Scipio, too, had the name of Serapion given him, after the vile slave of a pig-jobber: and after him, another Scipio of the same family was surnamed Salvitto, after a mime998 of that name. In the same way, too, Spinther and Pamphilus, who were respectively actors of only second and third rate parts, gave their names to Lentulus and Metellus, who were at that time colleagues in the consulship; so that, by a very curious but disagreeable coincidence, the likenesses of the two consuls were to be seen at the same moment on the stage.

On the other hand again, L. Plancus, the orator, bestowed his surname on the actor Rubrius: the player, Burbuleius, again, gave his name to the elder Curio, and the player, Menogenes, to Messala, the censor.999 There was a certain fisherman, too, a native of Sicily, who bore a strong resemblance to the proconsul, Sura, not only in his features, but in the mode even148 of opening his mouth, and the spasmodic contraction of his tongue, and his hurried and indistinct utterance when speaking. Cassius Severus,1000 the celebrated orator, had it thrown in his teeth how strongly he resembled Armentarius, the gladiator.1001 Toranius, a slave-dealer, sold to Antony, while he was one of the Triumvirs, two boys of remarkable beauty, as being twins, so strong was their resemblance; whereas, in reality, one of them was born in Asia, and the other beyond the Alps. The fraud, however, having been soon afterwards discovered through the difference in the language of the youths, Antony, who was greatly exasperated, violently upbraided the dealer, and, among other things, complained that he had fixed the price at so high a sum as two hundred thousand sesterces.1002 The crafty slave-merchant, however, made answer that that was the very reason for his having set so high a price upon them; for, as he said, there would have been nothing particularly striking in the resemblance of the boys, if they had been born of the same mother, whereas, children found to be so exactly like each other, though natives of different countries, ought to be deemed above all price; an answer which produced such a reasonable feeling of surprise and admiration in the mind of the proscriber,1003 that he who was but just before frantic under the injury he had received, was led to set a higher value on no part whatever of all the property in his possession.


There exists a kind of peculiar antipathy between the bodies149 of certain persons, which, though barren with respect to each other, are not so when united to others;1004 such, for instance, was the case with Augustus and Livia.1005 Certain individuals, again, both men and women, produce only females, others males; and, still more frequently, children of the two sexes alternately; the mother of the Gracchi, for instance, who had twelve children, and Agrippina, the mother of Germanicus, who had nine. Some women, again, are barren in their youth, while to others it is given to bring forth once only during their lives. Some women never go to their full time, or if, by dint of great care and the aid of medicine, they do give birth to a living child, it is mostly a girl. Among other instances of rare occurrence, is the case of Augustus, now deified, who, in the year in which he departed this life, witnessed the birth of M. Silanus,1006 the grandson of his grand-daughter: having obtained the government of Asia, after his consulship, he was poisoned by Nero, on his accession to the throne.

Q. Metellus Macedonicus,1007 leaving six children, left eleven grandsons also, with daughters-in-law and sons-in-law,1008 twenty-seven individuals in all, who addressed him by the name and title of father. In the records of the times of the Emperor Augustus, now deified, we find it stated that, in his twelfth consulship, Lucius Sylla being his colleague, on the150 third day before the ides of April,1009 C. Crispinus Hilarus, a man of a respectable family of the plebeian order, living at Fæesulæ,1010 came to the Capitol, to offer sacrifice, attended by eight children (of whom two were daughters), twenty-eight grandsons, nineteen great-grandsons, and eight granddaughters, who all followed him in a lengthened train.


Women cease to bear children at their fiftieth year, and, with the greater part of them, the monthly discharge ceases at the age of forty. But with respect to the male sex, it is a well-known fact, that King Masinissa, when he was past his eighty-sixth year, had a son born to him, whom he named Metimanus,1011 and that Cato the Censor, after he had completed his eightieth year, had a son by the daughter of his client, Salonius: a circumstance from which, while the descendants of his other sons were surnamed Liciniani, those of this son were called Saloniani, of whom Cato of Utica was one.1012 It is equally well known, too, that L. Volusius Saturninus,1013 who lately died while prefect of the city, had a son when he was past his seventy-second year,1014 by Cornelia, a member of the family of the Scipios, Volusius Saturninus, who was afterwards consul. Among the lower classes of the people, we not uncommonly meet with men who become the fathers of children after the age of seventy-five.


Among the whole range of animated beings, the human female151 is the only one that has the monthly discharge,1015 and in whose womb are found what we term “moles.” These moles consist of a shapeless mass of flesh, devoid of all life, and capable of resisting either the edge or the point of the knife; they are movable in the body, and obstruct the menstrual discharge; sometimes, too, they are productive of fatal consequences to the woman, in the same manner as a real fœtus; while, at other times, they remain in the body until old age; in some cases, again, they are discharged, in consequence of an increased action of the bowels.1016 Something of a very similar nature is produced in the body of the male, which is called a “schirrus;”1017 this was the case with Oppius Capito, a man of prætorian rank.

It would indeed be a difficult matter to find anything which is productive of more marvellous effects than the menstrual discharge.1018 On the approach of a woman in this state, must will become sour, seeds which are touched by her become sterile, grafts wither away, garden plants are parched up, and the fruit will fall from the tree beneath which she sits. Her very look, even, will dim the brightness of mirrors, blunt the edge of steel, and take away the polish from ivory. A swarm of bees, if looked upon by her, will die immediately;152 brass and iron will instantly become rusty, and emit an offensive odour; while dogs which may have tasted of the matter so discharged are seized with madness, and their bite is venomous and incurable.

In addition to this, the bitumen which is found at certain periods of the year, floating on the lake of Judæa, known as Asphaltites, a substance which is peculiarly tenacious, and adheres to everything that it touches, can only be divided into separate pieces by means of a thread which has been dipped in this virulent matter.1019 It is said that the ant, even an insect so extremely minute, is sensible of its presence, and rejects the grains which it has been carrying, and will not return to them again.1020

This discharge, which is productive of such great and singular effects, occurs in women every thirty days, and in a greater degree every three months.1021 In some individuals it occurs oftener than once a month, and in others, again, it never takes place. Women of this nature, however, are not capable of bearing children, because it is of this substance that the infant is formed.1022 The seed of the male, acting as a sort of leaven, causes it to unite and assume a form, and in due time it acquires life, and assumes a bodily shape. The consequence is, that if the flow continues during pregnancy, the child will be weak, or else will not live; or if it does, it will be full of gross humours, Nigidius says.

(16.) The same author is also of opinion, that the milk of a woman who is giving suck will not become impure, if she should happen to become pregnant again by the same man.1023



Conception is generally said to take place the most readily, either at the beginning or the end of the menstrual discharge.1024 It is said, too, that it is a certain sign of fecundity in a woman, when her saliva becomes impregnated with any medicament which has been rubbed upon her eye-lids.1025


It is a matter beyond doubt, that in young children the front teeth are produced at the seventh month, and, nearly always, those in the upper jaw the first. These are shed in the seventh year, and are then replaced by others.1026 Some infants are even born with teeth:1027 such was the case with Manius Curius, who, from this circumstance, received the name of Dentatus; and also with Cn. Papirius Carbo, both of them distinguished men. When this phenomenon happened in the case of a female, it was looked upon in the time of the kings as an omen of some inauspicious event. At the birth of Valeria, under such circumstances as these, it was the answer of the154 soothsayers, that any city to which she might happen to be carried, would be destroyed; she was sent to Suessa Pometia,1028 at that time a very flourishing place, but the prediction was ultimately verified by its destruction. Some female children are born with the sexual organs closed,1029 a thing of very unfavourable omen; of which Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, is an instance. Some persons are born with a continuous bone in the mouth, in place of teeth; this was the case with the upper jaw of the son of Prusias, the king of Bithynia.1030

The teeth are the only parts of the body which resist the action of fire, and are not consumed along with the rest of it.1031 Still, however, though they are able thus to resist flame, they become corroded by a morbid state of the saliva. The teeth are whitened by certain medicinal agents.1032 They are worn down by use, and fail in some persons long before any other part of the body. They are necessary, not only for the mastication of the food, but for many other purposes as well. It is the office of the front teeth to regulate the voice and the speech; by a certain arrangement, they receive, as if in concert, the stroke communicated by the tongue, while by their structure in such regular order, and their size, they cut short, moderate, or soften155 the utterance of the words. When they are lost, the articulation becomes altogether confused and indistinct.1033

In addition to this, it is generally supposed that we may form prognostics from the teeth. The number of teeth allotted to all men, with the exception of the nation of the Turduli,1034 is thirty-two; those persons who have a greater number, are thought to be destined to be long-lived. Women have fewer teeth than men.1035 Those females who happen to have two canine teeth on the right side of the upper jaw, have promise of being the favourites of fortune, as was the case with Agrippina,1036 the mother of Domitius Nero: when they are on the left side, it is just the contrary. It is the custom of most nations not to burn the bodies of children who die before they have cut their teeth. We shall have more to say on this subject when we give an account of the different parts of the body.1037

We find it stated that Zoroaster was the only human being who ever laughed on the same day on which he was born. We hear, too, that his brain pulsated so strongly that it repelled the hand when laid upon it, a presage of his future wisdom.


It is a well-known fact, that, at the age of three years, the body of each person is half the height that it will ever attain. Taking it all in all, it is observed that in the human race, the stature is almost daily becoming less and less, and that sons are rarely taller than their parents, the fertility of the seed156 being dried up by the heat of that conflagration to which the world is fast approaching.1038 A mountain of the island of Crete having been burst asunder by the action of an earthquake, a body was found there standing upright, forty-six cubits in height;1039 by some persons it is supposed to have been that of Orion;1040 while others again are of opinion that it was that of Otus.1041 It is generally believed, from what is stated in ancient records, that the body of Orestes, which was disinterred by command of an oracle, was seven cubits in height.1042 It is now nearly one thousand years ago, that that divine poet Homer was unceasingly complaining, that men were of less stature in his day than they had formerly been.1043 Our Annals157 do not inform us what was the height of Nævius Pollio;1044 but we learn from them that he nearly lost his life from the rush of the people to see him, and that he was looked upon as a prodigy. The tallest man that has been seen in our times, was one Gabbaras1045 by name, who was brought from Arabia by the Emperor Claudius; his height was nine feet and as many inches.1046 In the reign of Augustus, there were two persons, Posio and Secundilla by name, who were half a foot taller than him; their bodies have been preserved as objects of curiosity in the museum of the Sallustian family.1047

In the reign of the same emperor, there was a man also, remarkable for his extremely diminutive stature, being only two feet and a palm in height; his name was Conopas, and he was a great pet with Julia, the grand-daughter of Augustus. There was a female also, of the same size, Andromeda by name, a freed-woman of Julia Augusta. We learn from Varro, that Manius Maximus and M. Tullius, members of our equestrian order, were only two cubits in height; and I have myself seen them, preserved in their coffins.1048 It is far from an unknown fact, that children are occasionally born a foot and a half in height, and sometimes a little more; such children, however, have finished their span of existence by the time they are three years old.1049



We find it stated by the historians, that the son of Euthymenes of Salamis had grown to be three cubits in height, at the age of three years; that he was slow of gait and dull of comprehension; that at that age he had attained puberty even, and his voice had become strong, like that of a man. We hear, also, that he died suddenly of convulsions of the limbs, at the completion of his third year.1050 I myself, not very long ago, was witness to exactly similar appearances, with the exception of the state of puberty, in a son of Cornelius Tacitus, a member of the equestrian order, and procurator1051 of Belgic Gaul.1052 The Greeks call such children as these, Ἐκτραπέλοι; we have no name for them in Latin.

(17.) It has been observed, that the height of a man from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, is equal to the distance between the tips of the middle fingers of the two hands when extended in a straight line; the right side of the body, too, is generally stronger than the left; though in some, the strength of the two sides is equal; while in others again, the left side is the strongest. This, however, is never found to be the case in women.1053


Males are heavier than females, and the bodies of all animals are heavier when they are dead than when alive; they also weigh more when asleep than when awake. The dead bodies of men float upon the back, those of women with the159 face downwards; as if, even after death, nature were desirous of sparing their modesty.1054

(18.) We find it stated, that there are some men whose bones are solid, and devoid of marrow,1055 and that one mark of such persons is the fact that they are never thirsty, and emit no perspiration. At the same time, we know that by the exercise of a resolute determination, any one may resist the feeling of thirst; a fact which was especially exemplified in the case of Julius Viator, a Roman of equestrian rank, but by birth one of the Vocontii, a nation on terms of alliance with us. Having, in his youth, been attacked by dropsy, and forbidden the use of liquids by his physicians,1056 use with him became a second nature, and so, in his old age, he never took any drink at all. Other persons also, have, by the exercise of a strong determination, laid similar restraints upon themselves.

(19.) It is said that Crassus, the grandfather of Crassus, who was slain by the Parthians, was never known to laugh; from which circumstance he obtained the name of Agelastus.1057 There are other persons again, who have never been seen to weep. Socrates, who was so famous for his wisdom, always appeared with the same countenance, and was never known to appear either more gay or more sad than ordinary. This even tenor of the mind, however, sometimes degenerates into a sort of harshness, and a rigorous and inflexible sternness of nature, entirely effacing all the human affections. The Greeks, among whom there have been many persons of this description, are in160 the habit of calling them Ἀπαθεῖς.1058 A very remarkable thing, too, is the fact, that among these persons are to be found some of the greatest masters of philosophy. Diogenes the Cynic, for instance, Pyrrho, Heraclitus, and Timon, which last allowed himself to be so entirely carried away by this spirit, as to become a hater of all mankind. Less important peculiarities of nature, again, are to be observed in many persons; Antonia,1059 for instance, the wife of Drusus, was never known to expectorate; and Pomponius, the poet, a man of consular rank, was never troubled with eructation. Those rare instances of men,1060 whose bones are naturally solid and without marrow, are known to us as men “of horn.”1061


Varro, speaking of persons remarkable for their strength, gives us an account of Tributanus, a celebrated gladiator, and skilled in the use of the Samnite1062 arms;1063 he was a man of meagre person, but possessed of extraordinary strength. Varro makes mention of his son also, who served in the army of Pompeius Magnus. He says, that in all parts of his body, even in the arms and hands, there was a network of sinews,1064 extending across and across. The latter of these men, having been challenged by an enemy, with a single finger of the right hand, and that unarmed,1065 vanquished him, and then161 seized and dragged him to the camp. Vinnius Valens, who served as a centurion in the prætorian guard of Augustus, was in the habit of holding up waggons laden with casks, until they were emptied; and of stopping a carriage with one hand, and holding it back, against all the efforts of the horses to drag it forward. He performed other wonderful feats also, an account of which may still be seen inscribed on his monument. Varro, also, gives the following statement: “Fusius, who used to be called the ‘bumpkin1066 Hercules,’ was in the habit of carrying his own mule; while Salvius was able to mount a ladder, with a weight of two hundred pounds attached to his feet, the same to his hands, and two hundred pounds on each shoulder.” I myself once saw,—a most marvellous display of strength,—a man of the name of Athanatus walk across the stage, wearing a leaden breast-plate of five hundred pounds weight, while shod with buskins of the same weight. When Milo, the wrestler, had once taken his stand, there was not a person who could move him from his position; and when he grasped an apple in his hand, no one could so much as open one of his fingers.


It was considered a very great thing for Philippides to run one thousand one hundred and sixty stadia, the distance between Athens and Lacedæmon, in two days, until Amystis, the Lacedæmonian courier, and Philonides,1067 the courier of Alexander the Great, ran from Sicyon to Elis in one day, a distance of thirteen hundred and five stadia.1068 In our own times, too, we are162 fully aware that there are men in the Circus, who are able to keep on running for a distance of one hundred and sixty miles; and that lately, in the consulship of Fonteius and Vipstanus,1069 there was a child eight years of age, who, between morning and evening, ran a distance of seventy-five miles.1070 We become all the more sensible of these wonderful instances of swiftness, upon reflecting that Tiberius Nero, when he made all possible haste to reach his brother Drusus, who was then sick in Germany, reached him in three stages, travelling day and night on the road; the distance of each stage was two hundred miles.1071


Instances of acuteness of sight are to be found stated, which, indeed, exceed all belief. Cicero informs us,1072 that the Iliad of Homer was written on a piece of parchment so small as to be enclosed in a nut-shell. He makes mention also of a man who could distinguish objects at a distance of one hundred and thirty-five miles.1073 M. Varro says, that the name of this man was Strabo; and that, during the Punic war, from Lilybæum, the promontory of Sicily, he was in the habit of seeing the fleet come out of the harbour of Carthage, and could even count the number of the vessels.1074 Callicrates1075 used to carve ants and163 other small animals in ivory, so minute in size, that other persons were unable to distinguish their individual parts. Myrmecides1076 also was famous in the same line;1077 this man made, of similar material, a chariot drawn by four horses, which a fly could cover with its wings; as well as a ship which might be covered by the wings of a tiny bee.1078


We have one instance on record of remarkable acuteness of hearing; the noise of the battle, on the occasion when Sybaris1079 was destroyed, was heard, the day on which it took place, at Olympia.1080 But, as to the victory over the Cimbri,1081 and that over Perseus, the news of which was conveyed to Rome by the Castors,1082 they are to be looked upon in the light of visions and presages proceeding immediately from the gods.



Of patience in enduring pain, that being too frequently the lot of our calamitous fate, we have innumerable instances related. One of the most remarkable instances among the female sex is that of the courtesan Leæna, who, although put to the torture, refused to betray the tyrant-slayers, Harmodius and Aristogiton.1083 Among those of men, we have that of Anaxarchus, who, when put to the torture for a similar reason, bit off his tongue and spit it into the face of the tyrant, thus destroying the only hope1084 of his making any betrayal.

CHAP. 24. (24.)—MEMORY.

It would be far from easy to pronounce what person has been the most remarkable for the excellence of his memory, that blessing so essential for the enjoyment of life, there having been so many who have been celebrated for it. King Cyrus knew all the soldiers of his army by name:1085 L. Scipio the names of all the Roman people. Cineas, the ambassador of king Pyrrhus, knew by name all the members of the senate and the equestrian order, the day after his arrival at Rome.165 Mithridates,1086 who was king of twenty-two nations, administered their laws in as many languages, and could harangue each of them, without employing an interpreter. There was in Greece a man named Charmidas, who, when a person asked him for any book in a library, could repeat it by heart, just as though he were reading. Memory, in fine, has been made an art; which was first invented by the lyric poet, Simonides,1087 and perfected by Metrodorus of Scepsis, so as to enable persons to repeat word for word exactly what they have heard.1088 Nothing whatever, in man, is of so frail a nature as the memory; for it is affected by disease, by injuries, and even by fright; being sometimes partially lost, and at other times entirely so. A man, who received a blow from a stone, forgot the names of the letters only;1089 while, on the other hand, another person, who fell from a very high roof, could not so much as recollect his mother, or his relations and neighbours. Another person, in consequence of some disease, forgot his own servants even; and Messala Corvinus, the orator, lost all recollection of his own name. And so it is, that very often the memory appears to attempt, as it were, to make its escape from us, even while the body is at rest and in perfect health. When sleep, too, comes over us, it is cut off altogether; so much so, that the mind, in its vacancy, is at a loss to know where we are.1090


CHAP. 25. (25.)—VIGOR OF MIND.

The most remarkable instance, I think, of vigour of mind in any man ever born, was that of Cæsar, the Dictator. I am not at present alluding to his valour and courage, nor yet his exalted genius, which was capable of embracing everything under the face of heaven, but I am speaking of that innate vigour of mind, which was so peculiar to him, and that promptness which seemed to act like a flash of lightning. We find it stated that he was able to write or read, and, at the same time, to dictate and listen. He could dictate to his secretaries four letters at once, and those on the most important business; and, indeed, if he was busy about nothing else, as many as seven. He fought as many as fifty pitched battles, being the only commander who exceeded M. Marcellus,1091 in this respect, he having fought only thirty-nine.1092 In addition, too, to the victories gained by him in the civil wars, one million one hundred and ninety-two thousand men were slain by him in his battles. For my own part, however, I am not going to set it down as a subject for high renown, what was really an outrage committed upon mankind, even though he may have been acting under the strong influence of necessity; and, indeed, he himself confesses as much, in his omission to state the number of persons who perished by the sword in the civil wars.


With much more justice we may award credit to Pompeius Magnus, for having taken from the pirates1093 no less than eight hundred and forty-six vessels: though at the same time, over and above the great qualities previously mentioned, we must with equal justice give Cæsar the peculiar credit of a remarkable167 degree of clemency, a quality, in the exercise of which, even to repentance, he excelled all other individuals whatsoever. The same person has left us one instance of magnanimity, to which there is nothing that can be at all compared. While one, who was an admirer of luxury, might perhaps on this occasion have enumerated the spectacles which he exhibited, the treasures which he lavished away, and the magnificence of his public works, I maintain that it was the great proof, and an incomparable one, of an elevated mind, for him to have burnt with the most scrupulous carefulness the papers of Pompeius, which were taken in his desk at the battle of Pharsalia, and those of Scipio, taken at Thapsus, without so much as reading them.1094


But now, as it belongs fully as much to the glorious renown of the Roman Empire, as to the victorious career of a single individual, I shall proceed on this occasion to make mention of all the triumphs and titles of Pompeius Magnus: the splendour of his exploits having equalled not only that of those of Alexander the Great, but even of Hercules, and perhaps of Father Liber1095 even. After having recovered Sicily, where he first commenced his career as a partisan of Sylla, but in behalf of the republic, after having conquered the whole of Africa, and reduced it to subjection, and after having received for his share of the spoil the title of “Great,”1096 he was decreed the honours of a triumph; and he, though only of equestrian rank,1097 a thing that had never occurred before, re-entered the city in the triumphal chariot: immediately after which, he hastened to the west, where he left it inscribed on the trophy which he raised upon the Pyrenees, that he had, by his victories, reduced to subjection eight hundred and seventy-six cities, from the Alps to the borders of Farther Spain; at the same time he most168 magnanimously said not a word about Sertorius.1098 After having put an end to the civil war, which indeed was the primary cause of all the foreign ones, he, though still of only equestrian rank, again entered Rome in the triumphal chariot, having proved himself a general thus often before having been a soldier.1099 After this, he was dispatched to the shores of all the various seas, and then to the East, whence he brought back to his country the following titles of honour, resembling therein those who conquer at the sacred games—for, be it remembered, it is not they that are crowned, but their respective countries.1100 These honours then did he award to the City, in the temple of Minerva,1101 which he consecrated from the spoils that he had gained: “Cneius Pompeius Magnus, Imperator, having brought to an end a war of thirty years’ duration, and having defeated, routed, put to the sword, or received the submission of, twelve millions two hundred and seventy-eight thousand men, having sunk or captured eight hundred and forty-six vessels, having received as allies one thousand five hundred and thirty-eight cities and fortresses, and having conquered all the country from the Mæotis to the Red Sea, dedicates this shrine as a votive offering due to Minerva.” Such, in few words, is the sum of his exploits in the East. The following are the introductory words descriptive of the triumph which he obtained, the third day before the calends1102 of October,1103 in the consulship of M. Piso and169 M. Messala;1104 “After having delivered the sea-coast from the pirates, and restored the seas to the people of Rome, he enjoyed a triumph over Asia, Pontus, Armenia, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, the Scythians, Judæa, the Albanians, Iberia, the island of Crete, the Basterni, and, in addition to all these, the kings Mithridates and Tigranes.”

The most glorious, however, of all glories, resulting from these exploits, was, as he himself says, in the speech which he made in public relative to his previous career, that Asia, which he received as the boundary of the empire, he left its centre.1105 If any one should wish, on the other hand, in a similar manner, to pass in review the exploits of Cæsar, who has shown himself greater still than Pompeius, why then he must enumerate all the countries in the world, a task, I may say, without an end.


Many other men have excelled in different kinds of virtues. Cato, however, who was the first of the Porcian family,1106 is generally thought to have been an example of the three greatest of human endowments, for he was the most talented orator, the most talented general, and the most talented politician;1107 all which merits, if they were not perceptible before him, still shone forth, more refulgently even, in my opinion, in Scipio Æmilianus, who besides was exempted from that hatred on the part of many others under which Cato laboured:1108 in consequence170 of which it was, what must be owned to be a peculiarity in Cato’s career, that he had to plead his own cause no less than four and forty times;1109 and yet, though no person was so frequently accused, he was always acquitted.


A minute enquiry by whom the greatest valour has ever been exhibited, would lead to an endless discussion, more especially if all the fables of the poets are to be taken for granted. Q. Ennius admired T. Cæcilius Denter1110 and his brother to such a degree, that on their account he added a sixteenth book to his Annals. L. Siccius Dentatus, who was tribune of the people in the consulship of Spurius Tarpeius and A. Aterius,1111 not long after the expulsion of the kings, has also very numerous testimonies in his favour. This hero fought one hundred and twenty battles, was eight times victorious in single combat, and was graced with forty-five wounds in the front of the body, without one on the back. The same man also carried off thirty-four spoils,1112 was eighteen times presented with the victor’s spear,1113 and received twenty-five pendants,1114 eighty-three171 torcs,1115 one hundred and sixty bracelets,1116 twenty-six crowns, (of which fourteen were civic, eight golden, three mural, and one obsidional), a fisc1117 of money, ten prisoners, and twenty oxen altogether.1118 He followed in the triumphal processions of nine generals, who mainly owed their victories to his exertions; besides all which, a thing that I look upon as the most important of all his services, he denounced to the people T. Romilius,1119 one of the generals of the army, at the end of his consulship, and had him convicted of having made an improper use of his authority.1120

The military honours of Manlius Capitolinus would have been no less splendid than his, if they had not been all effaced at the close of his life. Before his seventeenth year, he had172 gained two spoils, and was the first of equestrian rank who received a mural crown; he also gained six civic crowns, thirty-seven donations, and had twenty-three scars on the fore-part of his body. He saved the life of P. Servilius, the master of the horse, receiving wounds on the same occasion in the shoulders and the thigh. Besides all this, unaided, he saved the Capitol, when it was attacked by the Gauls, and through that, the state itself; a thing that would have been the most glorious act of all, if he had not so saved it, in order that he might, as its king, become its master.1121 But in all matters of this nature, although valour may effect much, fortune does still more.

No person living, in my opinion at least, ever excelled M. Sergius,1122 although his great-grandson, Catiline, tarnished the honours of his name. In his second campaign he lost his right hand; and in two campaigns he was wounded three and twenty times; so much so, that he could scarcely use either his hands or his feet; still, attended by a single slave, he afterwards served in many campaigns, though but an invalided soldier. He was twice taken prisoner by Hannibal, (for it was with no ordinary enemy that he would engage,) and twice did he escape from his captivity, after having been kept, without a single day’s intermission, in chains and fetters for twenty months. On four occasions he fought with his left hand alone, two horses being slain under him. He had a right hand made of iron, and attached to the stump, after which he fought a battle, and raised the siege of Cremona, defended Placentia, and took twelve of the enemy’s camps in Gaul. All this we learn from an oration of his, which he delivered when, in his prætorship, his colleagues attempted to exclude him from the sacred rites, on the ground of his infirmities.1123 What heaps upon heaps of crowns would he have piled up, if he had only had other enemies! For, in matters of this nature, it is of the first importance to consider upon what times in especial the valour of173 each man has fallen. What civic crowns did Trebia, what did the Ticinus, what did Lake Thrasymenus afford? What crown was there to be gained at Cannæ, where it was deemed the greatest effort of valour to have escaped1124 from the enemy? Other persons have been conquerors of men, no doubt, but Sergius1125 conquered even Fortune herself.1126


Among so many different pursuits, and so great a variety of works and objects, who can select the palm of glory for transcendent genius? Unless perchance we should agree in opinion that no more brilliant genius ever existed than the Greek poet Homer, whether it is that we regard the happy subject of his work, or the excellence of its execution. For this reason it was that Alexander the Great—and it is only by judges of such high estate that a sentence, just and unbiassed by envy, can be pronounced in the case of such lofty claims—when he found among the spoils of Darius, the king of Persia, a casket for perfumes,1127 enriched with gold, precious stones, and pearls, covered as he was with the dust of battle, deemed it beneath a warrior to make use of unguents, and, when his friends were pointing out to him its various uses, exclaimed, “Nay, but by Hercules! let the casket be used for preserving the poems of Homer;” that so the most precious work of the human mind might be placed in the keeping of the richest work of art. It was the same conqueror, too, who gave directions that the174 descendants and house of the poet Pindar1128 should be spared, at the taking of Thebes. He likewise rebuilt the native city1129 of Aristotle, uniting to the extraordinary brilliancy of his exploits this speaking testimony of his kindliness of disposition.

Apollo impeached by name the assassins of the poet Archilochus1130 at Delphi. While the Lacedæmonians were besieging Athens, Father Liber ordered the funeral rites to be performed for Sophocles, the very prince of the tragic buskin; repeatedly warning their king, Lysander, in his sleep, to allow of the burial of his favourite. Upon this, the king made enquiry who had lately died in Athens; and understanding without any difficulty from the Athenians to whom the god referred, he allowed the funeral rites to be performed without molestation.


Dionysius the tyrant, who otherwise manifested a natural propensity for cruelty and pride, sent a vessel crowned with garlands to meet Plato, that high-priest of wisdom; and on his disembarcation, received him on the shore, in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Isocrates was able to sell a single oration of his for twenty talents.1131 Æschines, the great Athenian orator, after he had read to the Rhodians the speech which he had made on the accusation of Demosthenes, read the defence made by Demosthenes, through which he had been driven into exile among them. When they expressed their admiration of it, “How much more,” said he, “would you have admired it, if you had heard him deliver it him175self;”1132 a striking testimony, indeed, given in adversity, to the merit of an enemy! The Athenians sent their general, Thucydides, into banishment, but recalled him as their historian, admiring his eloquence, though they had punished his want of valour.1133 A strong testimony, too, was given to the merit of Menander, the famous comic poet, by the kings of Egypt and Macedonia, in sending to him a fleet and an embassy; though, what was still more honourable to him, he preferred enjoying the converse of his literary pursuits to the favour of kings.

The nobles too of Rome have given their testimonies in favour of foreigners, even. Cn. Pompeius, after having finished the war against Mithridates, when he went to call at the house of Posidonius, the famous teacher of philosophy, forbade the lictor to knock at the door, as was the usual custom;1134 and he, to whom both the eastern and the western world had yielded submission, ordered the fasces to be lowered before the door of a learned man. Cato the Censor, after he had heard the speech of Carneades,1135 who was one of the embassy sent176 from Athens, of three men famous for their learning, gave it as his opinion, that the ambassadors ought to be dismissed as soon as possible, because, in consequence of his ingenious method of arguing, it became extremely difficult to distinguish truth from falsehood.1136 What an extraordinary change too in our modes of thinking! This Cato constantly gave it out as his decided opinion that all Greeks ought to be expelled from Italy, while, on the other hand, his great-grandson, Cato of Utica, upon his return from his military tribuneship, brought back with him a philosopher, and a second one1137 when he returned from his embassy to Cyprus;1138 and it is a very remarkable fact, that the same language which had been proscribed by one of the Cato’s, was introduced among us by the other. But let us now give some account of the honours of our own countrymen.

The elder Africanus ordered that the statue of Ennius should be placed in his tomb, and that the illustrious surname, which he had acquired, I may say, as his share of the spoil on the conquest of the third part of the world, should be read over his ashes, along with the name of the poet.1139 The Emperor Augustus, now deified, forbade the works of Virgil to be burnt, in opposition to the modest directions to that effect, which the poet had left in his will: a prohibition which was a greater compliment paid to his merit, than if he himself had recommended his works.

M. Varro1140 is the only person, who, during his lifetime, saw177 his own statue erected. This was placed in the first public library that was ever built, and which was formed by Asinius Pollio with the spoils of our enemies.1141 The fact of this distinction being conferred upon him by one who was in the first rank, both as an orator and a citizen, and at a time, too, when there was so great a number of men distinguished for their genius, was not less honourable to him, in my opinion, than the naval crown which Pompeius Magnus bestowed upon him in the war against the pirates. The instances that follow among the Romans, if I were to attempt to reckon them, would be found to be innumerable; for it is the fact that this one nation has furnished a greater number of distinguished men in every branch than all the countries of the world taken together.1142

Put what atonement could I offer to thee, Marcus Tullius,1143 were I to be silent respecting thy name? or on what ground am I to pronounce thee as especially pre-eminent? On what, indeed, that can be more convincing than the most abundant testimony that was offered in thy favour by the whole Roman people? Contenting myself with the selection only of such of the great actions of the whole of your life, as were performed during your consulship.—You speak, and the tribes surrender the Agrarian law, or, in other words, their very subsistence;1144 you advise them to do so, and they pardon Roscius,1145 the author of the178 law for the regulation of the theatres, and, without any feelings of resentment, allow a mark to be put upon themselves by allotting them an inferior seat; you entreat, and the sons of proscribed men blush at having canvassed for public honours: before your genius, Catiline took to flight, and it was you who proscribed M. Antonius. Hail then to thee, who wast the first of all to receive the title of Father of thy country,1146 who wast the first of all, while wearing the toga, to merit a triumph, and who didst obtain the laurel for oratory. Great father, thou, of eloquence and of Latin literature! as the Dictator Cæsar, once thy enemy, wrote in testimony of thee,1147 thou didst require a laurel superior to every triumph! How far greater and more glorious to have enlarged so immeasurably the boundaries of the Roman genius, than those of its sway!

(31.) Those persons among the Romans, who surpass all others in wisdom, have the surnames of Catus and Corculus1148 given to them. Among the Greeks, Socrates was declared by the oracle of the Pythian Apollo to be superior to all others in wisdom.


Again, men have placed on an equality with those of the oracles the precepts uttered by Chilon,1149 the Lacedæmonian. These have been consecrated at Delphi in letters of gold, and are to the following effect: “That each person ought to know himself, and not to desire to possess too much;”1150 and “That misery is the sure companion of debt and litigation.” He died of179 joy, on hearing that his son had been victorious in the Olympic games, and all Greece assisted at his funeral rites.


A spirit of divination, and a certain communion with the gods, of the most exalted nature, was manifested—among women, in the Sibyl, and among men, in Melampodes,1151 the Greek, and in Marcius,1152 the Roman.


Scipio Nasica is the only individual who, since the commencement of the Roman era, has been declared, by a vote of the senate, confirmed by oath, to be the most excellent of men.1153 And yet, the same person, when he was a candidate for office, was twice stigmatized by a repulse of the Roman people. He was not allowed, in fine, to die in his native country,1154—no, by Hercules! no more than Socrates, who was declared by Apollo to be the wisest of men, was permitted to die outside of a prison.



Sulpicia, the daughter of Paterculus, and wife of Fulvius Flaccus, has been considered, in the judgment of matrons, to have been the chastest of women. She was selected from one hundred Roman ladies, who had been previously named, to dedicate a statue of Venus, in obedience to the precepts contained in the Sibylline books.1155 Again, Claudia gave strong proof of her piety and virtue, on the occasion of the introduction into Rome of the Mother of the gods.1156


Infinite is the number of examples of affection which have been known in all parts of the world: but one in particular occurred at Rome, to which no other can possibly be compared. A woman of quite the lower class, and whose name has consequently not come down to us, having lately given birth to a child, obtained permission to visit her mother,1157 who was confined in prison; but was always carefully searched by the gaoler before being admitted, to prevent her from introducing181 any food. At last, however, she was detected nourishing her mother with the milk of her breast; upon which, in consideration of the marvellous affection of the daughter, the mother was pardoned, and they were both maintained for the rest of their days at the public charge; the spot, too, was consecrated to Piety, a temple to that goddess being built on the site of the prison, in the consulship1158 of C. Quintius and M. Acilius, where the theatre of Marcellus1159 now stands.

The father of the Gracchi, on finding two serpents in his house, consulted the soothsayers, and received an answer to the effect, that he would survive if the serpent of the other sex was put to death.—“No,” said he, “rather kill the serpent of my own sex, for Cornelia is still young, and may yet bear children.”1160 Thus did he shew himself ready, at the same moment, to spare his wife and to benefit the state; and shortly after, his wish was accomplished. M. Lepidus died of regret for his wife, Apuleia, after having been divorced from her.1161 P. Rupilius,1162 who was at the time affected by a slight disease, instantly expired, upon news being brought to him that his brother had failed in obtaining the consulship. P. Catienus Plotinus was so much attached to his patron, that on finding himself named heir to all his property, he threw himself on the funeral pile.



Innumerable are the men who have excelled in the various arts; we may, however, take a cursory survey of them, by citing the names of the principal ones. Berosus excelled in astrology; and on account of his divinations and predictions, a public statue was erected in his honour by the Athenians. Apollodorus, for his skill as a grammarian, had public honours decreed him by the Amphictyonic Council of Greece. Hippocrates excelled in medicine; before its arrival, he predicted the plague, which afterwards came from Illyria, and sent his pupils to various cities, to give their assistance. As an acknowledgment of his merit, Greece decreed him the same honours as to Hercules.1163 King Ptolemy rewarded a similar degree of skill in the person of Cleombrotus of Ceos, by a donation of one hundred talents, at the Megalensian games,1164 he having succeeded in saving the life of King Antiochus.1165 Critobulus also rendered himself extremely famous, by extracting an arrow1166 from the eye of King Philip with so183 much skill, that, although the sight was lost, there was no defect to be seen.1167 Asclepiades of Prusa, however, acquired the greatest fame of all—he founded a new sect, treated with disdain the promises of King Mithridates conveyed to him by an embassy, discovered a method of successfully treating diseases by wine,1168 and, breaking in upon the funeral ceremony, saved the life of a man, who was actually placed1169 on the funeral pile. He rendered himself, however, more celebrated than all, by staking his reputation as a physician against Fortune herself, and asserting that he did not wish to be so much as looked upon as a physician, if he should ever happen in any way to fall sick; and he won his wager, for he met his death at an extreme old age, by falling down stairs.1170


M. Marcellus, too, at the taking of Syracuse, offered a remarkable homage to the sciences of geometry and mechanics, by giving orders that Archimedes was to be the only person who should not be molested; his commands, however, were disregarded, in consequence of the imprudence of one of the soldiers.1171 Chersiphron, also, the Cnossian,1172 was rendered famous184 by the admirable construction of the temple of Diana at Ephesus; Philon, by the construction of the basin at Athens, which was capable of containing one thousand vessels;1173 Ctesibius, by the invention of pneumatics and hydraulic machines; and Dinochares,1174 by the plan which he made of the city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander in Egypt. The same monarch, too, by public edict, declared that no one should paint his portrait except Apelles, and that no one should make a marble statue of him except Pyrgoteles, or a bronze one except Lysippus.1175 These arts have all been rendered glorious by many illustrious examples.


King Attalus gave one hundred talents,1176 at a public auction, for a single picture of Aristides, the Theban painter.1177 Cæsar, the Dictator, purchased two pictures, the Medea and the Ajax of Timomachus, for eighty talents,1178 it being his intention to dedicate them in the temple of Venus Genetrix. King Candaules gave its weight in gold for a large picture by Bularchus, the subject of which was the destruction of the Magnetes. Demetrius, who was surnamed the “taker of cities,”1179 refused to185 set fire to the city of Rhodes, lest he should chance to destroy a picture of Protogenes, which was placed on that side of the walls against which his attack was directed. Praxiteles1180 has been ennobled by his works in marble, and more especially by his Cnidian Venus, which became remarkable from the insane love which it inspired in a certain young man,1181 and the high value set upon it by King Nicomedes, who endeavoured to procure it from the Cnidians, by offering to pay for them a large debt which they owed. The Olympian Jupiter day by day bears testimony to the talents of Phidias,1182 and the Capitoline Jupiter and the Diana of Ephesus to those of Mentor;1183 to which deities, also, were consecrated vases made by this artist.


The highest price ever given for a man born in slavery, so far as I am able to discover, was that paid for Daphnus, the grammarian, who was sold by Natius of Pisaurum1184 to M. Scaurus, the first man in the state, for seven hundred thousand sesterces.1185 In our day, no doubt, comic actors have fetched a higher price, but then they were purchasing their own freedom. In the time of our ancestors, Roscius, the actor, gained five hundred thousand sesterces annually. Perhaps, too, a person might in the present instance refer to the case of186 the army commissary1186 in the Armenian war, which was of late years undertaken in favour of Tiridates; which officer, in our own time, received his manumission from Nero for the sum of thirteen million sesterces;1187 but, in this case, the consideration was the profit to be derived from the war,1188 and it was not the value of the man that was paid for. And so, too, when Lutorius Priscus bought of Sejanus, the eunuch, Pæzon, for fifty million sesterces,1189 the price was given, by Hercules! rather to gratify the passion of the purchaser, than in commendation of the beauty of the slave. Universal sorrow and consternation then reigning, the public were too much pre-occupied with it to put a stop to a bargain of so scandalous a nature.1190


Of all nations of the earth, the Romans have, without doubt, excelled every other in the display of valour.1191 The human judgment cannot, however, possibly decide what man has enjoyed the highest degree of happiness, seeing that every one defines a state of prosperity in a way different from another, and entirely in conformity with his own notions. If we wish to form a true judgment and come to a decision, casting aside all the allurements and illusions of fortune, we are bound to say that no mortal is happy. Fortune has dealt well, and, indeed, indulgently, to him who feels that he has a right to say that he is not unhappy. For if there is nothing else, at all events, there is the fear lest fortune should fail at last; which fear itself, when it has once fastened upon us, our happiness is no longer unalloyed. And then, too, is it not the case that there is no mortal who is always wise? Would that there were187 many to be found, who could feel a conviction that this is false, and that it had not been enunciated by an oracle itself, as it were! Mortals, vain as they are, and ingenious in deceiving themselves, calculate in the same way as the Thracians, who, according to their experience of each day, deposit in an urn a black or a white pebble; at the close of their life, these pebbles are separated, and from the relative number of each kind, they form their conclusions.1192 But really, may not that very day that has been complimented with a white pebble, have contained in itself the germ of some misfortune? How many a man has got into trouble by the very power which has been bestowed upon him? How many have been brought to ruin and plunged into the deepest misery by their own blessings? or rather, by what have been looked upon too fondly as blessings, for the hour during which they were in the full enjoyment of them. But most true it is, that it is the day after, that is the judge of the day before; and after all, it is only the last day that is to set its stamp on the whole; the consequence is, that we can put our trust in none of them. And then, too, is it not the fact that the blessings of life would not be equal to its evils, even though they were equal in number? For what pleasure is there that can compensate for the slightest grief? Alas! what a vain and unreasonable task we impose upon ourselves! We trouble ourselves with counting the number of days, when it is their weight1193 that ought to be taken into consideration.


During the whole course of ages, we find only one woman, and that, Lampido, the Lacedæmonian, who was the daughter of a king, the wife of a king, and the mother of a king.1194188 Berenice was the only woman who was daughter, sister, and mother of conquerors in the Olympian games.1195 The family of the Curios1196 has been the only one to produce three orators in succession; that of the Fabii alone has given three chiefs of the senate in succession, Fabius Ambustus, his son Fabius Rullianus, and his grandson Quintus Fabius Gurges.1197



As to examples of the vicissitudes of Fortune, they are innumerable. For what great pleasures has she ever given us, which have not taken their rise in misfortunes? And what extraordinary misfortunes have not taken their first rise in great pleasures? (43.) It was fortune that preserved the Senator, M. Fidustius,1198 who had been proscribed by Sylla, for a period of thirty-six years. And yet he was proscribed a second time; for he survived Sylla, even to the days of Antony, and, as it appears, was proscribed by him, for no other reason but because he had been proscribed before.


Fortune has determined that P. Ventidius alone should enjoy the honour of a triumph over the Parthians, and yet the same individual, when he was a child, she led in the triumphal procession of Cneius Pompeius, the conqueror of Asculum.1199 Indeed, Masurius says, that he had been twice led in triumph; and according to Cicero, he used to let out mules for the bakers of the camp.1200 Most writers, indeed, admit that his younger days were passed in the greatest poverty, and that he wore the hob-nailed shoes1201 of the common soldier. Balbus Cornelius,190 also, the elder, was elected to the consulate;1202 but he had previously been accused, and the judges had been charged to discuss the point whether he could or not lawfully be scourged with rods; he being the first foreigner,1203—born even on the very shores of the ocean,—who obtained that honour, which our ancestors denied even to the people of Latium.1204 Among other remarkable instances, also, we have that of L. Fulvius,1205 the consul of the rebellious Tusculani, who, immediately upon his coming over to the Romans, obtained from them the same honour. He is the only individual who, in the same year in which he had been its enemy, enjoyed the honour of a triumph in Rome, and that too, over the people whose consul he had previously been.

Down to the present time, L. Sylla is the only man who has claimed to himself the surname of “Happy;”1206 a name which he derived, forsooth, from the bloodshed of the citizens and the oppression of his country! But what claim had he on which to found his title to this happiness? Was it the power which he had of proscribing and massacreing so many thousands of his fellow-citizens? Oh interpretation most disgraceful, and which must stamp him as “Unhappy”1207 to all future time! Were not the men who perished in those times, of the two, to be looked upon as the more fortunate—seeing that with them we sympathize, while there is no one who does not191 detest Sylla? And then, besides, was not the close of his life more horrible than the sufferings which had been experienced by any of those who had been proscribed by him? his very flesh eating into itself, and so engendering his own punishment.1208 And this, although he may have thought proper to gloss it over by that last dream of his,1209 in the very midst of which he may be said, in some measure, to have died; and in which, as he pretended, he was told that his glory alone had risen superior to all envy; though at the same time, he confessed that it was still wanting to his supreme happiness, that he had not dedicated the Capitol.1210


Q. Metellus, in the funeral oration which he made in praise of his father, L. Metellus, who had been pontiff, twice consul,1211 dictator, master of the horse, one of the quindecemvirs for dividing the lands,1212 and the first who had elephants in his triumphal procession,1213 the same having been taken in the first192 Punic war, has left it written to the effect that his father had attained the ten greatest and best things, in the search after which wise men have spent all their lives. For, as he states, he was anxious to become the first warrior, the best orator, the bravest general, that the most important of all business should be entrusted to his charge, that he should enjoy the very highest honours, that he should possess consummate wisdom, that he should be regarded as the most distinguished senator, that he should by honourable means acquire a large fortune, that he should leave behind him many children, and that he should be the most illustrious person in the state. To refute this assertion, would be tedious and indeed unnecessary, seeing that it is contradicted more than sufficiently by the single fact, that Metellus passed his old age, deprived of his sight, which he had lost in a fire, while rescuing the Palladium from the temple of Vesta;1214 a glorious action, no doubt, although the result was unhappy: on which account it is, that although he ought not to be called unfortunate, still he cannot be called fortunate. The Roman people, however, granted him a privilege which no one else had ever obtained since the foundation of the city, that of being conveyed to the senate-house in a chariot whenever he went to the senate:1215 a great distinction, no doubt, but bought at the price of his sight.

(44.) The son also, of the same Q. Metellus, who has given the above account of his father, is considered himself to have been one of the rarest instances of human felicity.1216 For, in addition193 to the very considerable honours which he obtained, and the surname which he acquired from the conquest of Macedonia, he was carried to the funeral pile by his four sons,1217 one of whom had been prætor, three of them consuls, two had obtained triumphs, and one had been censor; each of which honours falls to the lot of a very few only. And yet, in the very full-blown pride of his dignity, as he was returning from the Campus Martius at mid-day, when the Forum and the Capitol are deserted, he was seized by the tribune, Caius Atinius Labeo,1218 surnamed Macerion, whom, during his censorship, he had ejected from the senate, and was dragged by him to the Tarpeian rock, for the purpose of being precipitated therefrom. The numerous band, however, who called him by the name of father, flew to his assistance, though tardily, and only just, as it were, at the very last moment, to attend his funeral obsequies, seeing that he could not lawfully offer resistance, or repel force by force in the sacred case of a tribune;1219 and he was just on the very point of perishing, the victim of his virtues and the strictness of his censorship, when he was saved by the intervention of another tribune,—only obtained with the greatest difficulty,—and so rescued from the very jaws of death. He afterwards had to subsist on the bounty of others, his property having been consecrated1220 by the very man whom he had194 degraded; and who, as if that had not satiated his vengeance, still farther wreaked his malice upon him, by throwing a rope around his neck,1221 and twisting it with such extreme violence that the blood flowed from out of his ears.1222 And for my part, too, I should look upon it as in the number of his misfortunes, to have been the enemy of the second Africanus; indeed, Macedonicus, in this instance, bears testimony against himself; for he said to his sons, “Go, my children, render the last duties to Scipio; you will never witness the funeral of a greater citizen than him;” and this speech he made to his sons, one of whom had already acquired the surname of Balearicus, and another of Diadematus,1223 he himself at the time bearing that of Macedonicus.

Now, if we take into account the above injury alone, can any one justly pronounce that man happy, whose life was thus endangered by the caprice of an enemy, and that enemy, besides, not an Africanus? What victories over enemies could possibly be counterbalanced by such a price as this? What honours, what triumphs, did not Fortune cancel, in suffering a censor to be dragged through the middle of the city—indeed, that was his only resource for gaining time1224—dragged to that195 Capitol, whither he himself, in his triumph, had forborne to drag in a similar manner even the very captives whom he had taken in his conquests? This crime, too, must be looked upon as all the greater, from its having so nearly deprived Macedonicus of the honours of his funeral, so great and so glorious, in which he was borne to the pile by his triumphant children, he himself thus triumphing, as it were, in his very obsequies. Most assuredly, there is no happiness that can be called unalloyed, when the terror of our life has been interrupted by any outrage, and much more by such an outrage as this. As for the rest, I really am at a loss whether we ought most to commend the manners of the age,1225 or to feel an increased degree of indignation, that, among so many members of the family of the Metelli, such wicked audacity as that of C. Atinius remained unpunished.


In the life of the now deified emperor Augustus even, whom the whole world would certainly agree to place in this class,1226 if we carefully examine it in all its features, we shall find remarkable vicissitudes of human fate. There was his rejection from the post of master of the horse, by his uncle,1227 and the preference which was given to Lepidus, and that, too, in opposition to his own requests; the hatred produced by the proscription; his alliance in the Triumvirate1228 with some among the very worst of the citizens, and that, too, with an unequal196 share of influence, he himself being entirely borne down by the power of Antony; his illness1229 at the battle of Philippi; his flight, and his having to remain three days concealed in a marsh,1230 though suffering from sickness, and, according to the account of Agrippa and Mecænas, labouring under a dropsy; his shipwreck1231 on the coast of Sicily, where he was again under the necessity of concealing himself in a cave; his desperation, which caused him even to beg Proculeius1232 to put him to death, when he was hard-pressed by the enemy in a naval engagement;1233 his alarm about the rising at Perusia;1234 his anxiety at the battle of Actium;1235 the extreme danger he was in from the falling of a tower during the Pannonian war;1236 seditions so numerous among his soldiers; so many attacks by dangerous diseases;1237 the suspicions which he entertained197 respecting the intentions of Marcellus;1238 the disgraceful banishment, as it were, of Agrippa;1239 the many plots against his life;1240 the deaths of his own children,1241 of which he was accused, and his heavy sorrows, caused not merely by their loss;1242 the adultery1243 of his daughter, and the discovery of her parricidal designs; the insulting retreat of his son-in-law, Nero;1244 another adultery, that of his grand-daughter;1245 to198 which there were added numerous other evils, such as the want of money to pay his soldiers; the revolt of Illyria;1246 the necessity of levying the slaves; the sad deficiency of young men;1247 the pestilence that raged in the City;1248 the famine in Italy; the design which he had formed of putting an end to his life, and the fast of four days, which brought him within a hair’s breadth of death. And then, added to all this, the slaughter of Varus;1249 the base slanders1250 whispered against his authority; the rejection of Posthumius Agrippa, after his adoption,1251 and the regret to which Augustus was a prey after his banishment;1252 the suspicions too respecting Fabius, to the effect that he had betrayed his secrets; and then, last of all, the machinations of his wife and of Tiberius, the thoughts of which occupied his last moments. In fine, this same god,1253 who was raised to heaven, I am at a199 loss to say whether deservedly or not, died, leaving the son of his own enemy his heir.1254


In reference to this point, two oracles of Delphi may come under our consideration, which would appear to have been pronounced as though in order to chastise the vanity of man. These oracles were the following: by the first, Pedius was pronounced to be the most happy of men, who had just before fallen in defence of his country.1255 On the second occasion, when it had been consulted by Gyges, at that time the most powerful king in the world, it declared that Aglaüs of Psophis1256 was a more happy man than himself.1257 This Aglaüs was an old man, who lived in a poor petty nook of Arcadia, and cultivated a small farm, though quite sufficient for the supply of his yearly wants;1258 he had never so much as left it, and, as was quite evident from his mode of living, his desires being of the most limited kind, he had experienced but an extremely small share of the miseries of life.


While still surviving, and in full possession of his senses, by the command of the same oracle, and with the sanction of Jupiter, the supreme Father of the gods, Euthymus,1259 the pugilist, who had always, with one exception, been victorious in the Olympic games, was deified. He was a native of Locri,200 in Italy. I find that Callimachus,1260 considering it a more wonderful circumstance than any he had ever known, that the two statues which had been erected to him, one at Locri, and the other at Olympia, were struck by lightning on the same day, ordered sacrifices to be offered up to him, which was accordingly done, both during his life-time, and after his death. Nothing, indeed, has appeared to me so remarkable, as this mark of approval given by the gods.


Not only the differences of climate, but the multitude of instances named, and the peculiar destiny attached to each of us from the moment of his birth,1261 tend to render one very uncertain in forming any general conclusion respecting the length and duration of human life. Hesiod, who was the first to make mention of this subject, while he states many circumstances about the age of man, which appear to me to be fabulous, gives to the crow nine times the ordinary duration of our life, to the stag four times the length of that of the crow, to the raven three times the length of that of the stag, besides other particulars with reference to the phœnix and the Nymphs of a still more fabulous nature. The poet Anacreon gives1262 one hundred and fifty years to Arganthonius,1263 the king of the Tartessii; ten more to Cinaras,1264 the king of Cyprus, and two201 hundred to Ægimius.1265 Theopompus gives one hundred and fifty-three years to Epimenides of Cnossus; according to Hellenicus, some of the nation of the Epii, in Ætolia, have completed their two hundredth year; and his account is confirmed by Damastes, who relates that Pictoreus, one of this nation, who was remarkable for his size and strength, lived even to his three hundredth year. Ephorus says that some kings of Arcadia have lived three hundred years; Alexander Cornelius, that there was one Dandon, in Illyricum, who lived five hundred years. Xenophon, in his Periplus, gives to a king of the island of the Lutmii six hundred years, and, as though in that instance he had lied too sparingly, to his son eight hundred.1266 All these statements, however, have originated in a want of acquaintance with the accurate measurement of time. For some nations reckon the summer as one year, and the winter as another; others again, consider each of the four seasons a year; the Arcadians, for instance, whose years were of three months each. Others, such as the Egyptians, calculate by the moon, and hence it is that some individuals among them are said to have lived as many as one thousand years.

Let us proceed, however, to what is admitted to be true. It is pretty nearly certain, that Arganthonius of Gades1267 reigned eighty years, and he is supposed to have commenced his reign when he was forty. Masinissa, beyond a doubt, reigned sixty years,1268 and Gorgias, the Sicilian, lived one hundred and202 eight.1269 Quintus Fabius Maximus was an augur for sixty-three years.1270 M. Perperna, and more recently, L. Volusius Saturninus, survived all those whose suffrages each had solicited on the occasion of his consulship;1271 Perperna lived ninety-eight years, and left after him only seven of those whose names, when censor, he had enrolled. Connected with this fact, it also suggests itself, and deserves to be remarked, that it has happened only once, that five successive years have ever passed without the death of a senator taking place; this was the case from the occasion on which the censors Flaccus and Albinus performed the lustration, in the year of the City 579, until the time of the succeeding censors.1272 M. Valerius Corvinus completed one hundred years, forty-six of which intervened between his first and sixth consulship.1273 He occupied the curule chair twenty-one times,1274 a thing that was never the case with any one besides. The pontiff Metellus also attained the same age.1275

Among women also, Livia, the wife of Rutilius, exceeded her ninety-sixth year; during the reign of Claudius, Statilia, a member of a noble family, died at the age of ninety-nine; Terentia, the wife of Cicero, lived one hundred and three years, and Clodia, the wife of Ofilius, one hundred and fifteen; she had fifteen children.1276

Lucceia, an actress in the mimes, performed on the stage203 when one hundred years old, and Galeria Copiola returned to the stage, to perform in the interludes,1277 at the votive games which were celebrated for the health of the deified Augustus, in the consulship of C. Poppæus and Q. Sulpicius.1278 She had made her first appearance when eight years of age, just ninety-one years before that time, when M. Pomponius was ædile of the people, in the consulship of C. Marius and Cn. Carbo.1279 When Pompeius Magnus dedicated his great theatre, he brought her upon the stage, as being quite a wonder, considering her old age. Asconius Pedianus informs us, that Sammula also lived one hundred and ten years. I consider it less wonderful that Stephanio, who was the first to dance on the stage in comedy descriptive of Roman manners, should have1280 danced at the two secular games, those celebrated by the deified Augustus, and by Claudius Cæsar, in his fourth consulship, considering that the interval that elapsed between them was no more than sixty-three years;1281 indeed, he lived a considerable time after the last period. We are informed by Mutianus, that, on the peak of Mount Tmolus, which is called Tempsis, the people live one hundred and fifty years, and that T. Fullonius, of Bononia, was set down as of the same age, in the registration which took place under the censorship of Claudius Cæsar; and this appeared to be confirmed by comparing the present with former registrations, as well as many other proofs that he had been alive at certain periods—for that prince greatly interested himself in ascertaining the exact truth of the matter.


The present conjuncture would appear to demand from me204 some opinion upon the science of the stars. Epigenes1282 used to maintain that human life could not be possibly prolonged to one hundred and twelve years, and Berosus1283 that it could exceed one hundred and seventeen. The system is still in existence which Petosiris and Necepsos1284 transmitted to us, and called by them “tartemorion,”1285 from the division of the signs into four portions; from which it would appear, that life, in the region of Italy, may possibly be extended to one hundred and twenty-four years. They maintain that, reckoning from the commencement of an ascending sign, no life can possibly exceed a period of ninety degrees from that point; which periods they call by the name of “anaphoræ;”1286 they say also, that these anaphoræ may be intercepted by meeting with malign stars or their rays even, or those of the sun.1287 To theirs the school of Æsculapius succeeded, which admits that the allotted duration of life is regulated by the stars, but that it is quite uncertain what is the greatest extent of the period. These say that long life is uncommon, because a very great number of persons are born at critical moments in the hours of the lunar days; for example, in the seventh and the fifteenth hours, both by day and night; these individuals are subject to the malign influence of that ascending scale of the years which is termed the “climacteric,”1288 and never hardly, when born under these circumstances, exceed the fifty-fourth year.205 First of all, however, it must strike us that the variations which have taken place in this science prove its uncertainty; and to this consideration may be added the experience of the very last census, which was made four years ago, under the direction of the Emperors Vespasian, father and son.1289 I shall not search through the registers;1290 I shall only cite some instances in the middle district that lies between the Apennines and the river Padus. At Parma, three persons declared themselves to be one hundred and twenty years of age; at Brixellum,1291 one was one hundred and twenty-five; at Parma, two were one hundred and thirty; at Placentia, one was one hundred and thirty; at Faventia, one woman was one hundred and thirty-two; at Bononia, L. Terentius, the son of Marcus, and at Ariminum, M. Aponius, were one hundred and forty, and Tertulla, one hundred and thirty-seven. In the hills which lie around Placentia is the town of Veleiacium,1292 in which six persons gave in their ages as one hundred and ten years, and four one hundred and twenty, while one person, M. Mucius, the son of Marcus, surnamed Felix, and of the Galerian tribe,1293 was aged one hundred and forty. Not, however, to dwell upon what is generally admitted, in the eighth region of Italy, there appeared by the register, to be fifty-four persons of206 one hundred years of age, fourteen of one hundred and ten, two of one hundred and twenty-five, four of one hundred and thirty, the same number of one hundred and thirty-five to one hundred and thirty-seven, and three of one hundred and forty.

Again, we have another illustration of the uncertain tenure of human life. Homer informs us that Hector and Polydamas1294 were born on the same night,1295 and yet how different was their fate! M. Cælius Rufus1296 and C. Licinius Calvus were born on the same day, the fifth before the calends of June, in the consulship of C. Marius and Cn. Carbo; they both of them lived to be orators, it is true, but how different their destiny! The same thing, too, happens every day, and in every part of the world, with respect to men that are born in the self-same hour; masters and slaves, kings and beggars, come into the world at the same moment.


P. Cornelius Rufus,1297 who was consul with M. Curio, lost his sight while he was asleep and dreaming that that accident had befallen him. On the other hand, Jason, of Pheræ, when he was labouring under an abscess and had been given up by the physicians, determined to end his life in battle, where he received a wound in the chest, and found, at the hands of the enemy, a remedy for his disease.1298 Q. Fabius Maximus,1299 the207 consul, having engaged in battle with the Allobroges and the Arverni, at the river Isara, on the sixth day before the ides of August, and having slain there one hundred and thirty thousand of the enemy, found himself cured, during the engagement, of a quartan fever.

This gift of life, which is bestowed upon us by nature, is extremely uncertain and frail, whatever portion of it may be allotted to us. The measure is, indeed, but scanty and brief, even when it is the largest, if we only reflect upon the extent of eternity. And then, besides, if we take into account our sleep during the night, we can only be properly said to live half the period of our life; seeing that just one half of it is passed, either in a state resembling death, or else of bodily suffering, if we are unable to sleep. Added to this, we ought not to reckon the years of infancy, during which we are not sensible of our existence, nor yet the years of old age, which is prolonged only for the punishment of those who arrive at it. There are so many kinds of dangers, so many diseases, so many apprehensions, so many cares, we so often invoke death, that really there is nothing that is so often the object of our wishes. Nature has, in reality, bestowed no greater blessing on man than the shortness of life. The senses become dull, the limbs torpid, the sight, the hearing, the legs, the teeth, and the organs of digestion, all of them die before us, and yet we reckon this state as a part of our life. The solitary instance of Xenophilus, the musician,1300 who lived one hundred and five years without any infirmity of body, must be regarded then as a kind of miracle; for, by Hercules! all other men are subject, at certain fixed periods, to recurring and deadly attacks by heat or cold, in every part of the body, a thing that is not the case with other animals; and these attacks, too, return not only at regular hours, but on certain days and certain nights—sometimes the third day, sometimes the fourth, sometimes every day throughout the year.


And then, too, there is another kind of fatal disease, that which is produced by over-exertion of the mental faculties.1301 Nature has appointed certain laws as well for our maladies; quartan fevers never commence at the winter solstice, nor yet during the winter months; some diseases never attack us after the sixtieth year; some again disappear at the age of puberty, especially in females;1302 while aged persons are but seldom affected by the plague. There are some diseases which attack whole nations; others prevail among classes; some among slaves,1303 others among the higher ranks, and others among other classes of society. It has been remarked, in reference to this subject, that the plague always takes a course from the south towards the west,1304 and scarcely ever in an opposite direction; it never appears in the winter, or lasts longer than three months.

CHAP. 52. (51.)—DEATH.

And now to speak of the premonitory signs of death. Among these are laughter, in madness;1305 in cases of delirium,1306 the patient carefully folding the fringe or the plaits of the bedclothes;1307209 insensibility to the attempts of those who would rouse them from sleep; and involuntary discharges from the body, which it is not necessary here to particularize; but the most unequivocal signs of all, are certain appearances of the eyes and the nose, a lying posture with the face continually upwards, an irregular and feeble motion of the pulse,1308 and the other symptoms, which have been observed by that prince of physicians, Hippocrates. At the same time that there are innumerable signs of death, there are none of health and safety; so much so, that Cato the Censor, when speaking to his son in relation to those who appear to be in good health, declared, as though it had been the enunciation of some oracle,1309 that precocity in youth is a sign of an early death.1310

The number of diseases is infinite. Pherecydes of Scyros died from vast numbers of worms issuing from his body.1311 Some persons are distressed by a perpetual fever; such was the case with C. Mæcenas; during the last three years of his life, he could never get a single moment’s sleep.1312 Antipater of Sidon, the poet, was attacked with fever every year, and that only on his birthday; he died of it at an advanced age.1313



Aviola,1314 a man of consular rank, came to life again when on the funeral pile; but, by reason of the violence of the flames, no assistance could be rendered him, in consequence of which he was burnt alive. The same thing is said to have happened to L. Lamia, a man of prætorian rank. Messala, Rufus,1315 and many other authors, inform us, that C. Ælius Tubero, who had filled the office of prætor, was also rescued from the funeral pile. Such then is the condition of us mortals: to these and the like vicissitudes of fortune are we born; so much so, that we cannot be sure of any thing, no, not even that a person is dead. With reference to the soul of man, we find, among other instances, that the soul of Hermotinus of Clazomenæ was in the habit of leaving his body, and wandering into distant countries, whence it brought back numerous accounts of various things, which could not have been obtained by any one but a person who was present. The body, in the meantime, was left apparently lifeless.1316 At last, however, his enemies, the Cantharidæ,1317 as they were called, burned the body, so that the soul, on its return, was deprived of its sheath, as it were. It is stated also, that in Proconnesus,1318211 the soul of Aristeas was seen to fly out of his mouth, under the form of a raven;1319 a most fabulous story, however, which may be well ranked with the one that follows. It is told of Epimenides1320 of Cnossus, that when he was a boy, being fatigued by heat and walking, he fell asleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven years; and that when he awoke, as though it had been on the following day, he was much astonished at the changes which he saw in the appearance of every thing around him: after this, old age, it is said, came upon him in an equal number of days with the years he had slept, but his life was prolonged to his hundred and fifty-seventh year.1321 The female sex appear more especially disposed to this morbid state,1322 on account of the misplacement of the womb;1323 when this is once corrected, they immediately come to themselves again. The volume of Heraclides1324 on this subject, which is highly esteemed among the Greeks, contains the account of a female, who was restored to life, after having appeared to be dead for seven days.


Varro informs us,1325 that when he was one of the “vigintiviri,” or twenty commissioners,1326 appointed to superintend the division of the lands at Capua, a man who had been carried to the funeral pile, returned on foot from the Forum to his own house, and that the very same thing happened also at Aquinum. He states also, that Corfidius, who had married his maternal aunt, came to life again, after the funeral had been all arranged, and that he afterwards attended the funeral of the person who had so arranged his own. He gives in addition some other marvellous relations, the whole of which it may be as well to set forth; he says that there were two brothers, members of the equestrian order, and named Corfidius:1327 it so happened that the elder of these was seen to breathe his last to all appearance, and on opening his will, it was found that he had named his brother his heir, who accordingly ordered his funeral. In the meanwhile, however, he who had been thought to be dead, clapping his hands,1328 summoned the servants, and told them that he was just come from his brother’s house, who had placed his daughter in his charge; in addition to which, he had mentioned to him the place where he had secretly buried some gold, and had requested that the funeral preparations which had been made, might be employed for himself. While he was stating to this effect, the servants of his brother came in the greatest haste, and informed them that he was dead: the gold too,213 was found in the place just as he had stated. But throughout the whole of our lives we are perpetually hearing of such predictions as these; they are not, however, worth collecting, seeing that they are almost always false, as we shall illustrate by the following remarkable instance.

In the Sicilian war, Gabienus, the bravest of all Cæsar’s naval commanders, was taken prisoner by Sextus Pompeius, who ordered his throat to be cut; after which, his head almost severed from his body, he lay the whole of the day upon the sea-shore. Towards evening, with groans and entreaties, he begged the crowds of people who had assembled, that they would prevail upon Pompeius to come to him, or else send one of his most confidential friends, as he had just returned from the shades below, and had some important news to communicate. Pompeius accordingly sent several of his friends, to whom Gabienus stated that the good cause and virtuous partisans of Pompeius were well pleasing to the infernal deities, and that the event would shortly prove such as he wished: that he had been ordered to announce to this effect, and that, as a proof of its truthfulness, he himself should expire the very moment he had fulfilled his commission; and his death actually did take place.

We have instances also of men who have been seen after their burial; but, for the present, we are treating of the operations of nature, and not of miracles.


Among the things that are looked upon as more especially singular, though of frequent occurrence, is sudden death, a thing that, in fact, is the greatest happiness of life, and, as we will shew, only a natural occurrence. Verrius has given many instances of it; we will limit ourselves by only making a selection. Besides Chilo, who has been already mentioned,1329 Sophocles,1330 and Dionysius,1331 the tyrant of Sicily, both of them, died214 of joy, on learning that they had obtained the prize for tragedy. After the defeat at Cannæ, a mother died of joy, on seeing that her son had returned in safety, she having heard a false report of his death.1332 Diodorus, the professor of logic,1333 died of mortification, because he could not immediately answer some question which had been put to him by Stilpo, by way of joke.

Two of the Cæsars,1334 one of whom was at the time prætor, and the other had previously discharged that office, and was the father of the Dictator Cæsar, died without any apparent cause, in the morning, while putting on their shoes; the former at Pisæ, the latter at Rome. Quintus Fabius Maximus died during his consulship, on the day before the calends of January,1335 and in his place C. Rebilus got himself elected consul for only a few hours.1336 The same thing happened also to the senator, C. Volcatius Gurges; these were all of them so well, and in such perfect health, that they were actually preparing to go from home. Q. Æmilius Lepidus,1337 just as he was leaving his house, struck his great toe against the threshold of his chamber door. C. Aufustius, having gone from home, was proceeding to the senate-house, when he stumbled in the Comitium,1338 and expired. Their ambassador, who had just been pleading the cause of the Rhodians in the senate, to the admiration of every215 one, suddenly expired at the door of the senate-house, just as he was about to retire. Cn. Bæbius Tamphilus,1339 who had been prætor also, expired while he was enquiring of a boy1340 what time it was: Aulus Pompeius1341 died just after saluting the gods in the Capitol; and M. Juventius Thalna,1342 the consul, while he was sacrificing. C. Servilius Pansa expired at the second hour of the day,1343 while he was standing in the Forum, near a shop there,1344 and leaning on the arm of his brother, Publius Pansa: the judge Bæbius, while he was giving an order for an enlargement of bail:1345 M. Terentius Corax, while he was making an entry in his note-book in the Forum: only last year too, a member of the equestrian order at Rome, while whispering in the ear of a man of consular rank, before the ivory Apollo, in the Forum1346 of Augustus;1347 and, what is more singular than all, C. Julius, the physician, while he was applying, with his probe,1348 some ointment to the eye of a patient. Aulus Manlius Torquatus, a man of consular rank, died in the act of reaching a cake at dinner; L. Tuscius Valla, the physician, while he was taking a draught of honeyed wine;1349216 Ap. Saufeius, while, on his return from the bath, after drinking some honeyed wine and water, he was swallowing an egg: P. Quinctius Scapula, while he was dining with Aquilius Gallus: Decimus Saufeius, the scribe, while he was breakfasting at his house. Corn. Gallus,1350 who had filled the office of prætor, and Titus Haterius,1351 a man of equestrian rank, died in the venereal act; and, a thing that was especially remarked by those of our day, two members of the equestrian order expired in the embraces of the same actor of pantomimes, Mysticus by name, who was remarkable for his singular beauty.

But the most perfect state, to all appearance, of security from death, was that of which we have an account given by the ancients, in the case of M. Ofilius Hilarus. He was an actor, and after having been very greatly applauded by the people, was giving, on his birthday, an entertainment. During dinner he called for a cup of warm drink; at the same time, looking at the masque which he had worn during the day, he placed upon it the chaplet,1352 which he had taken from his own head; and in that position he remained rigidly fixed, without moving, no one being aware of what had taken place, until the person who was reclining next to him reminded him that the drink was getting cold; upon which he was found to be dead.

These are instances of persons dying a happy death;1353 but,217 on the other hand, there are innumerable cases also of unfortunate ends. L. Domitius,1354 a member of a most illustrious family, having been conquered at Massilia by Cæsar, and taken prisoner by him at Corfinium, being weary of life, took poison; but, immediately after, he used every possible exertion to prolong his life. We find it stated in our Annals, that Felix, a charioteer of the red party,1355 being placed on the funeral pile, some one of the number of his admirers threw himself upon the pile; a most silly piece of conduct. Lest, however, this circumstance might be attributed to the great excellence of the dead man in his art, and so redound to his glory, the other parties all declared that he had been overpowered by the strength of the perfumes. Not long ago, M. Lepidus, a man of very noble birth, who died, as I have stated above,1356 of chagrin caused by his divorce, was hurled from the funeral pile by the violence of the flames, and in consequence of the heat, could not be replaced upon it; in consequence of which, his naked body was burnt with some other pieces of brushwood, in the vicinity of the pile.

CHAP. 55. (54.)—BURIAL.

The burning of the body after death, among the Romans, is not a very ancient usage; for formerly, they interred it.1357 After it had been ascertained, however, in the foreign wars, that bodies which had been buried were sometimes disinterred, the custom of burning them was adopted. Many families, however,218 still observed the ancient rites, as, for example, the Cornelian family, no member of which had his body burnt before Sylla, the Dictator; who directed this to be done, because, having previously disinterred the dead body of Caius Marius, he was afraid that others might retaliate on his own.1358 The term “sepultus”1359 applies to any mode whatever of disposing of the dead body; while, on the other hand, the word “humatus” is applicable solely when it is deposited in the earth.


After burial come the different quiddities as to the existence of the Manes. All men, after their last day,1360 return to what they were before the first; and after death there is no more sensation left in the body or in the soul than there was before birth. But this same vanity of ours extends even to the future, and lyingly fashions to itself an existence even in the very moments which belong to death itself: at one time it has conferred upon us the immortality of the soul; at another transmigration; and at another it has given sensation to the shades below, and paid divine honours to the departed spirit, thus making a kind of deity of him who has but just ceased to be a man. As if, indeed, the mode of breathing with man was in any way different from that of other animals, and as if there were not many other animals to be found whose life is longer than that of man, and yet for whom no one ever presaged anything of a like immortality. For what is the actual substance of the soul, when taken by itself? Of what material does it consist? Where is the seat of its thoughts? How is it to219 see, or hear, or how to touch? And then, of what use is it, or what can it avail, if it has not these faculties? Where, too, is its residence, and what vast multitudes of these souls and spirits1361 must there be after the lapse of so many ages? But all these are the mere figments of childish ravings, and of that mortality which is so anxious never to cease to exist. It is a similar piece of vanity, too, to preserve the dead bodies of men; just like the promise that he shall come to life again, which was made by Democritus;1362 who, however, never has come to life again himself. Out upon it! What downright madness is it to suppose that life is to recommence after death! or indeed, what repose are we ever to enjoy when we have been once born, if the soul is to retain its consciousness in heaven, and the shades of the dead in the infernal regions? This pleasing delusion, and this credulity, quite cancel that chief good of human nature, death, and, as it were, double the misery of him who is about to die, by anxiety as to what is to happen to him after it. And, indeed, if life really is a good, to whom can it be so to have once lived?

How much more easy, then, and how much more devoid of all doubts, is it for each of us to put his trust in himself, and guided by our knowledge of what our state has been before birth, to assume that that after death will be the same.


Before we quit the consideration of the nature of man, it appears only proper to point out those persons who have been the authors of different inventions. Father Liber1363 was the first to establish the practice of buying and selling; he also invented220 the diadem, the emblem of royalty, and the triumphal procession. Ceres1364 introduced corn, the acorn having been previously used by man for food; it was she, also, who introduced into Attica the art of grinding corn1365 and of making bread, and other similar arts into Sicily; and it was from these circumstances that she came to be regarded as a divinity. She was the first also to establish laws;1366 though, according to some, it was Rhadamanthus. I have always been of opinion, that letters were of Assyrian origin, but other writers, Gellius,1367 for instance, suppose that they were invented in Egypt by Mercury: others, again, will have it that they were discovered by the Syrians; and that Cadmus brought from Phœnicia sixteen letters into Greece. To these, Palamedes, it is said, at the time of the Trojan war, added these four, Θ, Ξ, Φ, and Χ. Simonides,1368 the lyric poet, afterwards added a like number, Ζ, Η, Ψ, and Ω; the sounds denoted by all of which are now received into our alphabet.1369


Aristotle, on the other hand, is rather of opinion, that there were originally eighteen letters,1370 Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ, and that two, Θ namely and Χ, were introduced by Epicharmus,1371 and not by Palamedes. Aristides says, that a certain person of the name of Menos, in Egypt, invented letters fifteen years before the reign of Phoroneus,1372 the most ancient of all the kings of Greece, and this he attempts to prove by the monuments there. On the other hand, Epigenes,1373 a writer of very great authority, informs us that the Babylonians have a series of observations on the stars, for a period of seven hundred and twenty thousand years, inscribed on baked bricks. Berosus and Critodemus, who make the period the shortest, give it as four hundred and ninety thousand years.1374 From222 this statement, it would appear that letters have been in use from all eternity. The Pelasgi were the first to introduce them into Latium.

The brothers Euryalus and Hyperbius1375 were the first who constructed brick-kilns and houses at Athens; before which, caves in the ground served for houses. Gellius1376 is inclined to think that Toxius, the son of Cælus, was the first inventor of mortar, it having been suggested to him by the nest of the swallow. Cecrops1377 gave to a town the name of Cecropia, after himself; this is now the citadel of Athens. Some persons will have it, that Argos had been founded before this period by King Phoroneus; others, again, that Sicyon had been previously built; while the Egyptians declare that their own city, Diospolis, had been in existence long before them. Cinyra,1378 the son of Agriopas,1379 invented tiles and discovered223 copper-mines,1380 both of them in the island of Cyprus; he also invented the tongs, the hammer, the lever, and the anvil. Wells were invented by Danaus,1381 who came from Egypt into that part of Greece which had been previously known as Argos Dipsion.

The first stone-quarries were opened by Cadmus at Thebes, or else, according to Theophrastus, in Phœnicia. Walls were first built by Thrason;1382 according to Aristotle, towers were first erected by the Cyclopes,1383 but according to Theophrastus, by the Tirynthii. The Egyptians invented weaving;1384 the224 Lydians of Sardis the art of dyeing wool.1385 Closter, the son of Arachne, invented the spindle for spinning wool;1386 Arachne herself, linen cloth and nets;1387 Nicias of Megara, the art of fulling cloth;1388 and Tychius, the Bœotian, the art of making shoes.1389 The Egyptians will have it that the medical art was first discovered among them, while others attribute it to Arabus, the son of Babylonis and Apollo; botany and pharmacy are ascribed to Chiron, the son of Saturn and Philyra.1390

Aristotle supposes that Scythes, the Lydian, was the first to fuse and temper copper, while Theophrastus ascribes the art to Delas, the Phrygian.1391 Some persons ascribe the working225 of copper to the Chalybes, others to the Cyclopes. Hesiod says, that iron was discovered in Crete, by the Idæan Dactyli.1392 Erichthonius, the Athenian, or, as some people say, Æacus, discovered silver.1393 Gold mines, and the mode of fusing that metal, were discovered by Cadmus, the Phœnician, at the mountain of Pangæus,1394 or, according to other accounts, by Thoas or Eaclis, in Panchaia;1395 or else by Sol, the son of Oceanus, whom Gellius mentions as having been the first who employed honey in medicine. Midacritus1396 was the first who brought tin from the island called Cassiteris.1397 The Cyclopes invented the art of working iron.1398 Choræbus, the Athenian, was the first who made earthen vessels;1399 but Anacharsis, the226 Scythian, or, according to others, Hyperbius, the Corinthian, first invented the potter’s wheel. Dædalus1400 was the first person who worked in wood; it was he who invented the saw, the axe, the plummet, the gimlet, glue, and isinglass;1401 the square, the level, the turner’s lathe, and the key, were invented by Theodorus, of Samos.1402 Measures and weights were invented by Phidon, of Argos,1403 or, according to Gellius, by Palamedes. Pyrodes, the son of Cilix, was the first to strike fire from the flint, and Prometheus taught us how to preserve it, in the stalk of giant-fennel.1404

The Phrygians first taught us the use of the chariot with four wheels;1405 the Carthaginians the arts of merchandize,1406 and Eumolpus, the Athenian,1407 the cultivation of the vine, and of trees in general. Staphylus, the son of Silenus,1408 was the first to mix water with wine; olive-oil and the oil-press, as also honey, we owe to Aristæus, the Athenian;1409 the use of oxen and the227 plough to Buzyges, the Athenian,1410 or, according to other accounts, to Triptolemus.1411

The Egyptians were the first who established a monarchical government, and the Athenians, after the time of Theseus, a democracy. Phalaris,1412 of Agrigentum, was the first tyrant1413 that existed; the Lacedæmonians were the introducers of slavery;1414 and the first capital punishment inflicted was ordered by the Areiopagus.1415 The first battles were fought by the Africans against the Egyptians, with clubs, which they are in the habit of calling phalangæ. Prœtus and Acrisius1416 were the first to use shields, in their contests with each other; or, as some say, Chalcus, the son of Athamas. Midias, the Messenian, invented the coat of mail, and the Lacedæmonians the helmet, the sword, and the spear.1417 Greaves and crests were first used by the Carians; Scythes, the son of Jupiter, it is said, invented the bow and arrows, though some say that arrows were invented by Perses, the son of Perseus.1418 Lances were invented by the Ætolians; the javelin, with the228 thong1419 attached, by Ætolus,1420 the son of Mars; the spear of the light infantry1421 by Tyrrhenus; the dart1422 by Penthesilea, the Amazon; the axe by Pisæus; the hunting-spear, and the scorpion to hurl missiles, by the Cretans;1423 the catapulta, the balista,1424 and the sling, by the Syrophœnicians.1425 Pisæus, the Tyrrhenian, was the first to invent the brazen trumpet,1426 and Artemon, of Clazomenæ, the use of the testudo.1427 The battering-horse,229 for the destruction of walls, which is at the present day styled the “ram,” was invented by Epeus, at Troy.1428 Bellerophon was the first who mounted the horse;1429 bridles and saddles for the horse were invented by Pelethronius.1430 The Thessalians, who are called Centauri, and who dwell along Mount Pelion, were the first to fight on horse-back. The people of Phrygia were the first who used chariots with two horses; Erichthonius first used four.1431 Palamedes, during the Trojan war, was the first who marshalled an army, and invented watchwords,1432 signals, and the use of sentinels. Sinon, at the same period, invented the art of correspondence by signals. Lycaon was the first to think of making a truce, and Theseus a treaty of alliance.

The art of divination by means of birds1433 we owe to Car,230 from whom Caria derives its name; Orpheus extended it to other animals. Delphus taught us the art of divining by the inspection of entrails; Amphiaraüs1434 divination by fire; and Tiresias, the Theban, presages from the entrails of birds. We owe to Amphictyon1435 the interpretation of portents and of dreams, and to Atlas,1436 the son of Libya, the art of astrology, or else, according to other accounts, to the Egyptians or the Assyrians. Anaximander,1437 the Milesian, invented the astronomical sphere; and Æolus, the son of Hellen, gave us the theory of the winds.

Amphion was the inventor of music;1438 Pan, the son of Mercury, the music of the reed, and the flute with the single pipe; Midas, the Phrygian,1439 the transverse flute;1440 and Marsyas,231 of the same country, the double-pipe.1441 Amphion invented the Lydian measures in music; Thamyris the Thracian, the Dorian, and Marsyas the Phrygian, the Phrygian style.1442 Amphion, or, according to some accounts, Orpheus, and according to others, Linus, invented the lyre.1443 Terpander, adding three to the former four, increased the number of strings to seven; Simonides added an eighth, and Timotheus a ninth.1444 Thamyris was the first who played on the lyre, without the accompaniment of the voice; and Amphion, or, as some say, Linus, was the first who accompanied it with the voice. Terpander was the first who composed songs expressly for the lyre; and Ardalus, the Trœzenian, was the first who taught us how to combine the voice with the music of the pipe.1445 The Curetes taught us the dance in armour,1446 and Pyrrhus, the Pyrrhic dance, both of them in Crete.

We are indebted to the Pythian oracle for the first heroic verse.1447 A very considerable question has arisen, as to what was the origin of poetry; it is well known to have existed before the Trojan war. Pherecydes of Scyros, in the time of King Cyrus, was the first to write in prose, and Cadmus, the Milesian, was the first historian.1448


Lycaon1449 first instituted gymnastic games, in Arcadia; Acastus funereal games,1450 at Iolcos;1451 and, after him, Theseus instituted them at the Isthmus.1452 Hercules first instituted the athletic contests at Olympia.1453 Pythus invented the game of ball.1454 Painting was invented in Egypt by Gyges, the Lydian,1455 or, according to Aristotle, in Greece, by Euchir, a233 kinsman1456 of Dædalus; according to Theophrastus, again, it was invented by Polygnotus, the Athenian.

Danaüs was the first who passed over in a ship from Egypt to Greece.1457 Before his time, they used to sail on rafts,1458 which had been invented by King Erythras,1459 to pass from one island to another in the Red Sea. There are some writers to be found, who are of opinion that they were first thought of by the Mysians and the Trojans, for the purpose of crossing the Hellespont into Thrace. Even at the present day, they are made in the British ocean, of wicker-work covered with hides;1460 on the Nile they are made of papyrus, rushes, and reeds.

We learn from Philostephanus, that Jason was the first person who sailed in a long vessel;1461 Hegesias says it was234 Paralus, Ctesias,1462 Semiramis,1463 and Archemachus, Ægæon. According to Damastes,1464 the Erythræi1465 were the first to construct vessels with two banks of oars; according to Thucydides,1466 Aminocles, the Corinthian, first constructed them with three banks of oars; according to Aristotle, the Carthaginians, those with four banks; according to Mnesigiton, the people of Salamis, those with five banks;1467 and, according to Xenagoras, the Syracusans, those with six; those above six, as far as ten, Mnesigiton says were first constructed by Alexander the Great. From Philostephanus, we learn that Ptolemy Soter made them as high as twelve banks; Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, with fifteen; Ptolemy Philadelphus, with thirty; and Ptolemy Philopater, who was surnamed Tryphon, with forty.1468 Hippus, the Tyrian, was the first who invented merchant-ships; the Cyrenians, the pinnace; the Phœnicians, the passage-boat; the Rhodians, the skiff; and the Cyprians, the cutter.1469


We are indebted to the Phœnicians for the first observation of the stars in navigation; the Copæ invented the oar, and the Platæans gave it its broad blade.1470 Icarus was the person who invented sails,1471 and Dædalus the mast and yards; the Samians, or else Pericles, the Athenian, transports for horses,1472 and the Thracians, long covered vessels,1473—before which time they used to fight only from the prow or the stern. Pisæus, the Tyrrhenian, added the beak to ships;1474 Eupalamus, the anchor; Anacharsis, that with two flukes; Pericles, the Athenian, grappling-irons, and hooks like hands;1475 and Tiphys,1476 the helm and rudder. Minos was the first who waged war by means of ships; Hyperbius, the son of Mars, the first who killed an animal; and Prometheus, the first who slew the ox.1477



There was at the very earliest1478 period a tacit consent among all nations to adopt the letters now used by the Ionians.1479 (58.) That the ancient Greek letters were almost the same with the modern Latin,1480 is proved by the ancient Delphic inscription on copper, which is now in the Palatine library, having been dedicated by the emperors to Minerva; this inscription is as follows:

[“Nausicrates offered this to the daughter of Zeus.”]1481


The next point upon which all nations appear to have agreed, was the employment of barbers.1483 The Romans, however, were more tardy in the adoption of their services. According to Varro, they were introduced into Italy from237 Sicily, in the year of Rome 454,1484 having been brought over by P. Titinius Mena: before which time the Romans did not cut the hair. The younger Africanus1485 was the first who adopted the custom of shaving every day. The late Emperor Augustus always made use of razors.1486


(60.) The third point of universal agreement was the division of time, a subject which afterwards appealed to the reasoning faculties. We have already stated, in the Second Book,1487 when and by whom this art was first invented in Greece; the same was also introduced at Rome, but at a later period. In the Twelve Tables, the rising and setting of the sun are the only things that are mentioned relative to time. Some years afterwards, the hour of midday was added, the summoner1488 of the consuls proclaiming it aloud, as soon as, from the senate-house, he caught sight of the sun between the Rostra and the Græcostasis;1489 he also proclaimed the last hour, when the238 sun had gone down from the Mænian column1490 to the prison. This, however, could only be done in clear weather, but it was continued until the first Punic war. The first sun-dial is said to have been erected among the Romans twelve years before the war with Pyrrhus, by L. Papirius Cursor,1491 at the temple of Quirinus,1492 on which occasion he dedicated it in pursuance of a vow which had been made by his father. This is the account given by Fabius Vestalis; but he makes no mention of either the construction of the dial or the artist, nor does he inform us from what place it was brought, or in whose works he found this statement made.

M. Varro1493 says that the first sun-dial, erected for the use of the public, was fixed upon a column near the Rostra, in the time of the first Punic war, by the consul M. Valerius Messala, and that it was brought from the capture of Catina, in Sicily: this being thirty years after the date assigned to the dial of Papirius, and the year of Rome 491. The lines in this dial did not exactly agree with the hours;1494 it served, however, as the regulator of the Roman time ninety-nine years, until Q. Marcius Philippus, who was censor with L. Paulus, placed one near it, which was more carefully arranged: an act which was most gratefully acknowledged, as one of the very best of his censorship. The hours, however, still remained a matter of uncertainty, whenever the weather239 happened to be cloudy, until the ensuing lustrum; at which time Scipio Nasica, the colleague of Lænas, by means of a clepsydra, was the first to divide the hours of the day and the night into equal parts: and this time-piece he placed under cover and dedicated, in the year of Rome 595;1495 for so long a period had the Romans remained without any exact division of the day. We will now return to the history of the other animals, and first to that of the terrestrial.

Summary.—Remarkable events, narratives, and observations, seven hundred and forty-seven.

Roman authors quoted.—Verrius Flaccus,1496 Cneius Gellius,1497 Licinius Mutianus,1498 Massurius Sabinius,1499 Agrippina, the wife of Claudius,1500 M. Cicero,1501 Asinius Pollio,1502 M. Varro,1503 Messala Rufus,1504 Cornelius Nepos,1505 Virgil,1506 Livy,1507 Cordus,1508 Melissus,1509240 Sebosus,1510 Cornelius Celsus,1511 Maximus Valerius,1512 Trogus,1513 Nigidius Figulus,1514 Pomponius Atticus,1515 Pedianus Asconius,1516 Fabianus,1517 Cato the Censor,1518 the Register of the Triumphs,1519 Fabius Vestalis.1520


Foreign authors quoted.—Herodotus,1521 Aristeas,1522 Bæton,1523 Isigonus,1524 Crates,1525 Agatharchides,1526 Calliphanes,1527 Aristotle,1528 Nymphodorus,1529 Apollonides,1530 Phylarchus,1531 Damon,1532 Megasthenes,1533 Ctesias,1534 Tauron,1535 Eudoxus,1536 Onesicritus,1537 Clitarchus,1538 Duris,1539 Artemidorus,1540 Hippocrates1541 the physician,242 Asclepiades1542 the physician, Hesiod,1543 Anacreon,1544 Theopompus,1545 Hellanicus,1546 Damastes,1547 Ephorus,1548 Epigenes,1549 Berosus,1550 Petosiris,1551 Necepsos,1552 Alexander Polyhistor,1553 Xenophon,1554 Callimachus,1555 Democritus,1556 Diyllus1557 the historian, Strabo,1558 who wrote against the Euremata of Ephorus, Heraclides Ponticus,1559 Aclepiades,1560 who wrote the Tragodoumena, Philostephanus,1561 Hegesias,1562 Archimachus,1563243 Thucydides,1564 Mnesigiton,1565 Xenagoras,1566 Metrodorus1567 of Scepsos, Anticlides,1568 Critodemus.1569





Let us now pass on to the other animals, and first of all to the land animals. The elephant is the largest of them all, and in intelligence approaches the nearest to man. It understands the language of its country, it obeys commands, and it remembers all the duties which it has been taught. It is sensible alike of the pleasures of love and glory, and, to a degree that is rare among men even, possesses notions of honesty, prudence, and equity; it has a religious respect also for the stars, and a veneration for the sun and the moon.1570 It is said by some authors, that, at the first appearance of the new moon, herds of these animals come down from the forests of Mauritania to a river, the name of which is Amilo;1571 and that they there purify themselves in solemn form by sprinkling their bodies with water; after which, having thus saluted the heavenly body, they return to the woods, carrying before them1572 the young ones which are fatigued. They are supposed to have a notion, too, of the differences of religion;1573245 and when about to cross the sea, they cannot be prevailed upon to go on board the ship, until their keeper has promised upon oath that they shall return home again. They have been seen, too, when worn out by disease, (for even these vast masses are liable to disease,) lying on their back, and throwing the grass up into the air, as if deputing the earth to intercede for them with its prayers.1574 As a proof of their extreme docility, they pay homage to the king, fall upon their knees, and offer him the crown. Those of smaller growth, which the Indians call bastards,1575 are employed by them in ploughing.1576


The first harnessed elephants that were seen at Rome, were in the triumph of Pompeius Magnus over Africa, when they drew his chariot; a thing that is said to have been done long before, at the triumph of Father Liber on the conquest of India. Procilius1577 says, that those which were used at the triumph of Pompeius, were unable to go in harness through the gate of the city. In the exhibition of gladiators which was given by Germanicus,1578 the elephants performed a sort of dance with their uncouth and irregular movements. It was a common thing to see them throw arrows with such strength, that the wind was unable to turn them from their course, to imitate among themselves the combats of the gladiators, and to frolic through the steps of the Pyrrhic dance.1579 After this,246 too, they walked upon the tight-rope,1580 and four of them would carry a litter in which lay a fifth, which represented a woman lying-in. They afterwards took their places at table, reclining upon couches which were filled with people; and so nicely did they manage their steps, that they did not so much as touch any of those who were drinking there.


It is a well-known fact,1581 that one of these animals, who was slower than usual in learning what was taught him, and had been frequently chastised with blows, was found conning over his lesson in the night-time.1582 It is a most surprising thing also, that the elephant is able not only to walk up the tight-rope backwards; but to come down it as well, with the head foremost.1583 Mutianus, who was three times consul, informs us that one of these animals had been taught to trace the Greek letters, and that he used to write in that language the following words: “I have myself written these words, and have dedicated the Celtic spoils.”1584 Mutianus states also, that he himself was witness to the fact, that when some elephants were being landed at Puteoli1585 and were compelled to leave the ship, being terrified at the length of the platform, which extended from the vessel to the shore, they walked backwards, in order to deceive themselves by forming a false estimate of the distance.



These animals are well aware that the only spoil that we are anxious to procure of them is the part which forms their weapon of defence, by Juba, called their horns, but by Herodotus, a much older writer, as well as by general usage and more appropriately, their teeth.1586 Hence it is that, when their tusks have fallen off, either by accident or from old age, they bury them in the earth.1587 These tusks form the only real ivory, and, even in these, the part which is covered by the flesh is merely common bone, and of no value whatever; though, indeed, of late, in consequence of the insufficient supply of ivory, they have begun to cut the bones as well into thin plates. Large teeth, in fact, are now rarely found, except in India, the demands of luxury1588 having exhausted all those in our part of the world. The youthfulness of the animal is ascertained by the whiteness of the teeth.1589 These animals take the greatest care of their teeth; they pay especial attention to the point of one of them, that it may not be found blunt when wanted for combat; the other they employ for various purposes, such as digging up roots and pushing forward heavy weights. When they are surrounded by the hunters, they place those in front which have the smallest teeth, that the enemy may think that the spoil is not worth the combat; and afterwards, when they are weary of resistance, they break off their teeth, by248 dashing them against a tree, and in this manner pay their ransom.1590


It is a wonderful thing, that most animals are aware why it is that they are sought after, and what it is, that, under all circumstances, they have to guard against. When an elephant happens to meet a man in the desert, who is merely wandering about, the animal, it is said, shows himself both merciful and kind, and even points out the way. But the very same animal, if he meets with the traces of a man,1591 before he meets the man himself, trembles in every limb, for fear of an ambush, stops short and scents the wind, looks around him, and snorts aloud with rage; and then, without trampling upon the object, digs it up,1592 and passes it to the next one, who again passes it to the one that follows, and so on from one to the other, till it comes to the very last. The herd then faces about, returns, and ranges itself in order of battle; so strongly does the odour, in all cases, attach itself to the human footstep, even though, as is most frequently the case, the foot itself is not naked. In the same way, too, the tigress, which is the dread of the other wild beasts, and which sees, without alarm, the traces even of the elephant itself, is said at once, upon seeing the footsteps of man, to carry off her whelps. How has the animal acquired this knowledge? And where has it seen him before, of whom it stands in such dread? Doubt there can be none, that forests such as it haunts are but little frequented by man! It is not to be wondered at, if they are astonished at the print of a footstep before unknown; but how should they know that there is anything that they ought to dread? And, what is still more, why should they dread even the very sight of man, seeing that they are so far superior249 to him in strength, size, and swiftness? No doubt, such is the law of Nature, such is the influence of her power—the most savage and the very largest of wild beasts have never seen that which they have reason to fear, and yet instantly have an instinctive feeling of dread, when the moment has come for them to fear.1593

(5.) Elephants always move in herds.1594 The oldest takes the lead, and the next in age brings up the rear. When they are crossing a river, they first send over the smallest, for fear lest the weight of the larger ones may increase the depth of the channel, by working away the bed of the river. We learn from Antipater, that King Antiochus had two elephants, which he employed in his wars, and to which he had given the names of celebrated men; and that they were aware too of this mark of distinction.1595 Cato, in his Annals, while he has passed over in silence the names of the generals, has given that of an elephant called Surus, which fought with the greatest valour in the Carthaginian army, and had lost one of its tusks. When Antiochus was sounding the ford of a river, an elephant named Ajax, which on other occasions had always led the van, refused to enter the stream; upon which proclamation was made, that the first rank should belong to the one which should take the lead in passing over. One called Patroclus hazarded the attempt, and as a reward, the king presented it with some silver pendants,1596 a kind of ornament with which these animals are particularly delighted, and assigned it all the other marks of250 command. Upon this, the elephant that had been degraded refused to take its food, and so preferred death to ignominy. Indeed their sense of shame is wonderful, and when one of them has been conquered, it flies at the voice of the conqueror, and presents him with earth and vervain.1597

These animals are sensible to feelings of modesty; they never couple but in secret:1598 the male after it has attained its fifth year, the female after the age of ten.1599 It is said, that their intercourse takes place only every second year, and for five days only, and no more; on the sixth day they plunge into a river, before doing which they will not rejoin the herd. Adulterous intercourse is unknown to them, and they have none of those deadly combats for the possession of the female, which take place among the other animals. Nor is this because they are uninfluenced by the passion of love. One in Egypt, we are told, fell in love with a woman, who was a seller of garlands; and let no one suppose that he made a vulgar choice, for she was the especial object of the love of Aristophanes, who held the very highest rank as a grammarian. Another became attached to the youth Menander, a native of Syracuse, in the army of Ptolemy; whenever it did not see him, it would manifest the regret which it experienced, by refusing its food. Juba gives an account also of a female who dealt in perfumes, to whom one of these creatures formed an attachment. All these animals manifested their attachment by their signs of joy at the sight of the person, by their awkward caresses, and by keeping for them and throwing into their bosom the pieces of money which the public had given them.1600 Nor, indeed,251 ought we to be surprised, that an animal which possesses memory should be sensible of affection: for the same author relates, that an elephant recognized, after the lapse of many years, an old man who had been its keeper in his youth. They would seem also to have an instinctive feeling of justice. King Bocchus once fastened thirty elephants to the stake, with the determination of wreaking his vengeance on them, by means of thirty others; but though men kept sallying forth among them to goad them on, he could not, with all his endeavours, force them to become the ministers of the cruelty of others.


Elephants were seen in Italy, for the first time, in the war with King Pyrrhus,1601 in the year of the City 472; they were called “Lucanian oxen,” because they were first seen in Lucania.1602 Seven years after this period, they appeared at Rome in a triumph.1603 In the year 502 a great number of them were brought to Rome, which had been taken by the pontiff Metellus, in his victory gained in Sicily over the Carthaginians;1604 they were one hundred and forty-two1605 in number, or, as some say, one hundred and forty, and were conveyed to our shores upon rafts, which were constructed on rows of hogsheads joined together. Verrius informs us, that they fought in the Circus,252 and that they were slain with javelins, for want of some better method of disposing of them; as the people neither liked to keep them nor yet to give them to the kings.1606 L. Piso tells us only that they were brought into the Circus; and for the purpose of increasing the feeling of contempt towards them, they were driven all round the area of that place by workmen, who had nothing but spears blunted at the point. The authors who are of opinion that they were not killed, do not, however, inform us how they were afterwards disposed of.


There is a famous combat mentioned of a Roman with an elephant, when Hannibal compelled our prisoners to fight against each other. The one who had survived all the others he placed before an elephant, and promised him his life if he should slay it; upon which the man advanced alone into the arena, and, to the great regret of the Carthaginians, succeeded in doing so.1607 Hannibal, however, thinking that the news of this victory might cause a feeling of contempt for these animals, sent some horsemen to kill the man on his way home. In our battles with Pyrrhus it was found, on making trial, that it was extremely easy to cut off the trunks of these animals.1608 Fenestella informs us, that they fought at Rome in the Circus for the first time during the curule ædileship of Claudius Pulcher, in the consulship of M. Antonius and A. Postumius, in the year of the City 655; and that twenty years afterwards, during the curule ædileship of the Luculli, they were set to fight against bulls. In the second consulship1609 of253 Pompeius, at the dedication of the temple of Venus Victrix,1610 twenty elephants, or, as some say, seventeen, fought in the Circus against a number of Gætulians, who attacked them with javelins. One of these animals fought in a most astonishing manner; being pierced through the feet, it dragged itself on its knees towards the troop, and seizing their bucklers, tossed them aloft into the air: and as they came to the ground they greatly amused the spectators, for they whirled round and round in the air, just as if they had been thrown up with a certain degree of skill,1611 and not by the frantic fury of a wild beast. Another very wonderful circumstance happened; an elephant was killed by a single blow. The weapon pierced the animal below the eye, and entered the vital part of the head. The elephants attempted, too, by their united efforts, to break down the enclosure, not without great confusion among the people who surrounded the iron gratings.1612 It was in consequence of this circumstance, that Cæsar, the Dictator, when he was afterwards about to exhibit a similar spectacle, had the arena surrounded with trenches1613 of water, which were lately filled up by the Emperor Nero,1614 when he added the seats for254 the equestrian order.1615 When, however, the elephants in the exhibition given by Pompeius had lost all hopes of escaping, they implored the compassion of the multitude by attitudes which surpass all description, and with a kind of lamentation bewailed their unhappy fate. So greatly were the people affected by the scene, that, forgetting the general altogether, and the munificence which had been at such pains to do them honour, the whole assembly rose up in tears, and showered curses on Pompeius, of which he soon afterwards became the victim. They fought also in the third consulship of the Dictator Cæsar, twenty of them against five hundred foot soldiers.1616 On another occasion twenty elephants, carrying towers,1617 and each defended by sixty men, were opposed to the same number of foot soldiers as before, and an equal number of horsemen. Afterwards, under the Emperors Claudius and Nero, the last exploit1618 that the gladiators performed was fighting single-handed1619 with elephants.

The elephant is said to display such a merciful disposition towards animals that are weaker than itself, that, when it finds itself in a flock of sheep, it will remove with its trunk1620 those that are in the way, lest it should unintentionally255 trample upon them.1621 They will never do any mischief except when provoked, and they are of a disposition so sociable, that they always move about in herds, no animal being less fond of a solitary life. When surrounded by a troop of horsemen, they place in the centre of the herd those that are weak, weary, or wounded, and then take the front rank each in its turn, just as though they acted under command and in accordance with discipline. When taken captive, they are very speedily tamed, by being fed on the juices of barley.1622


In India1623 they are caught by the keeper guiding one of the tame elephants towards a wild one which he has found alone or has separated from the herd; upon which he beats it, and when it is fatigued mounts and manages it just the same way as the other. In Africa1624 they take them in pit-falls; but as soon as an elephant gets into one, the others immediately collect boughs of trees and pile up heaps of earth, so as to form a mound, and then endeavour with all their might to drag it out. It was formerly the practice to tame them by driving the herds with horsemen into a narrow defile, artificially made in such a way as to deceive them by its length; and when thus enclosed by means of steep banks and trenches, they were rendered tame by the256 effects of hunger; as a proof of which, they would quietly take a branch that was extended to them by one of the men. At the present day, when we take them for the sake of their tusks, we throw darts at their feet, which are in general the most tender part of their body. The Troglodytæ, who inhabit the confines of Æthiopia, and who live entirely on the flesh of elephants procured by the chase, climb the trees which lie near the paths through which these animals usually pass. Here they keep a watch, and look out for the one which comes last in the train; leaping down upon its haunches, they seize its tail with the left hand, and fix their feet firmly upon the left thigh. Hanging down in this manner, the man, with his right hand, hamstrings the animal on one side, with a very sharp hatchet. The elephant’s pace being retarded by the wound, he cuts the tendons of the other ham, and then makes his escape; all of which is done with the very greatest celerity. Others, again, employ a much safer, though less certain method; they fix in the ground, at considerable intervals, very large bows upon the stretch; these are kept steady by young men remarkable for their strength, while others, exerting themselves with equal efforts, bend them, and so wound the animals as they pass by, and afterwards trace them by their blood. The female elephant is much more timid by nature than the male.


Elephants of furious temper are tamed by hunger1625 and blows, while other elephants are placed near to keep them quiet, when the violent fit is upon them, by means of chains. Besides this, they are more particularly violent when in heat,1626 at which time they will level to the ground the huts of the Indians with their tusks. It is on this account that they are prevented from coupling, and the females are kept in herds257 separate from the males, just the same way as with other cattle. Elephants, when tamed, are employed in war, and carry into the ranks of the enemy towers filled with armed men; and on them, in a very great measure, depends the ultimate result of the battles that are fought in the East. They tread under foot whole companies, and crush the men in their armour. The very least sound, however, of the grunting of the hog terrifies them:1627 when wounded and panic-stricken, they invariably fall back, and become no less formidable for the destruction which they deal to their own side, than to their opponents. The African elephant is afraid of the Indian, and does not dare so much as look at it, for the latter is of much greater bulk.1628


The vulgar notion is, that the elephant goes with young ten years;1629 but, according to Aristotle, it is two years only. He says also that the female only bears once, and then a single young one; that they live two hundred years, and some of them as much as three hundred. The adult age of the elephant begins at the sixtieth year.1630 They are especially fond of water, and wander much about streams, and this although they are unable to swim, in consequence of their bulk.1631 They are particularly sensitive to cold, and that, indeed, is their greatest enemy. They are subject also to flatulency, and to looseness of the bowels, but258 to no other kind of disease.1632 I find it stated, that on making them drink oil, any weapons which may happen to stick in their body will fall out; while, on the contrary, perspiration makes them the more readily adhere.1633 If they eat earth it is poison to them, unless indeed they have gradually become accustomed by repeatedly doing so. They also devour stones as well; but the trunks of trees are their most favourite food. They throw down, with a blow from their forehead, palms of exceeding height, and when lying on the ground, strip them of their fruit. They eat with the mouth, but they breathe, drink,1634 and smell with [the proboscis], which is not unaptly termed their “hand.” They have the greatest aversion to the mouse of all animals,1635 and quite loathe their food, as it lies in the manger, if they perceive that it has been touched by one of those animals. They experience the greatest torture if they happen to swallow, while drinking, a horseleech, an animal which people are beginning, I find, to call almost universally a “blood-sucker.”1636 The leech fastens upon the wind-pipe, and produces intolerable pain.

The skin of the back is extremely hard, that of the belly is softer. They are not covered with any kind of bristles, nor yet does the tail even furnish them with any protection from the annoyance of flies; for vast as these animals are, they suffer greatly from them. Their skin is reticulated, and invites these insects by the odour it exhales. Accordingly, when a swarm of them has settled on the skin, while extended and smooth, the elephant suddenly contracts it; and, in this way,259 the flies are crushed between the folds which are thus closed. This power serves them in place of tail, mane, and hair.1637

Their teeth are very highly prized, and from them we obtain the most costly materials for forming the statues of the gods. Luxury has discovered even another recommendation in this animal, having found a particularly delicate flavour in the cartilaginous part of the trunk, for no other reason, in my belief, than because it fancies itself to be eating ivory.1638 Tusks of enormous size are constantly to be seen in the temples; but, in the extreme parts of Africa, on the confines of Æthiopia, they are employed as door-posts for houses; and Polybius informs us, on the authority of the petty king Gulussa,1639 that they are also employed as stakes in making fences for the folds of cattle.


Africa produces elephants, beyond the deserts of the Syrtes, and in Mauritania; they are found also in the countries of the Æthiopians and the Troglodytæ, as mentioned above.1640 But it is India that produces the largest,1641 as well as the dragon,1642 which is perpetually at war with the elephant, and is itself of so enormous a size, as easily to envelope the elephants with its folds, and encircle them in its coils. The contest is equally fatal to both; the elephant, vanquished, falls to the earth, and by its weight, crushes the dragon which is entwined around it.1643



The sagacity which every animal exhibits in its own behalf is wonderful, but in these it is remarkably so. The dragon has much difficulty in climbing up to so great a height, and therefore, watching the road, which bears marks of their footsteps when going to feed, it darts down upon them from a lofty tree. The elephant knows that it is quite unable to struggle against the folds of the serpent, and so seeks for trees or rocks against which to rub itself. The dragon is on its guard against this, and tries to prevent it, by first of all confining the legs of the elephant with the folds of its tail; while the elephant, on the other hand, endeavours to disengage itself with its trunk. The dragon, however, thrusts its head into its nostrils, and thus, at the same moment, stops the breath and wounds the most tender parts. When it is met unexpectedly, the dragon raises itself up, faces its opponent, and flies more especially at the eyes; this is the reason why elephants are so often found blind, and worn to a skeleton with hunger and misery. What other cause can one assign for such mighty strifes as these, except that Nature is desirous, as it were, to make an exhibition for herself, in pitting such opponents against each other?

There is another story, too, told in relation to these combats—the blood of the elephant, it is said, is remarkably cold; for which reason, in the parching heats of summer,1644 it is sought by the dragon with remarkable avidity. It lies, therefore, coiled up and concealed in the rivers, in wait for the elephants, when they come to drink; upon which it darts out, fastens itself around the trunk, and then fixes its teeth behind the ear, that being the only place which the elephant cannot protect with the trunk. The dragons, it is said, are of such vast size, that they can swallow the whole of the blood; consequently, the elephant, being thus drained of its blood, falls to the earth exhausted; while the dragon, intoxicated with the draught, is crushed beneath it, and so shares its fate.


CHAP. 13. (13.)—DRAGONS.

Æthiopia produces dragons, not so large as those of India, but still, twenty cubits in length.1645 The only thing that surprises me is, how Juba came to believe that they have crests.1646 The Æthiopians are known as the Asachæi, among whom they most abound; and we are told, that on those coasts four or five of them are found twisted and interlaced together like so many osiers in a hurdle, and thus setting sail, with their heads erect, they are borne along upon the waves, to find better sources of nourishment in Arabia.


Megasthenes informs us, that in India, serpents grow to such an immense size, as to swallow stags and bulls;1647 while Metrodorus says, that about the river Rhyndacus,1648 in Pontus, they seize and swallow the birds that are flying above them, however high and however rapid their flight.1649 It is a well-known fact, that during the Punic war, at the river Bagrada, a262 serpent one hundred and twenty feet in length was taken by the Roman army under Regulus, being besieged, like a fortress, by means of balistæ and other engines of war.1650 Its skin and jaws were preserved in a temple at Rome, down to the time of the Numantine war. The serpents which in Italy are known by the name of boa, render these accounts far from incredible, for they grow to such a vast size, that a child was found entire in the stomach of one of them, which was killed on the Vaticanian Hill during the reign of the Emperor Claudius.1651 These are nourished, in the first instance, with the milk of the cow, and from this they take their name.1652 As to the other animals, which have been of late repeatedly brought to Italy from all parts of the world, it is quite unnecessary to give any minute account of their form.


Scythia produces but very few animals, in consequence of the scarcity of shrubs. Germany, which lies close adjoining it, has not many animals, though it has some very fine kinds of wild oxen: the bison, which has a mane, and the urus,1653263 possessed of remarkable strength and swiftness. To these, the vulgar, in their ignorance, have given the name of bubalus:1654 whereas, that animal is really produced in Africa, and rather bears a resemblance to the calf and the stag.


The North, too, produces herds of wild horses, as Africa and Asia do of wild asses;1655 there is, also, the elk, which strongly resembles our steers, except that it is distinguished by the length of the ears and of the neck. There is also the achlis,1656 which is produced in the island of Scandinavia;1657 it has never been seen in this city, although we have had descriptions of it from many persons; it is not unlike the elk, but has no joints in the hind leg. Hence, it never lies down, but reclines against a tree while it sleeps; it can only be taken by previously cutting into the tree, and thus laying a trap for it, as otherwise, it would escape through its swiftness. Its upper lip is so extremely large, for which reason it is obliged to go backwards when grazing; otherwise, by moving onwards, the lip would get doubled up. In Pæonia, it is said, there is a wild264 animal known as the bonasus;1658 it has the mane of the horse, but is, in other respects, like the bull, with horns, however, so much bent inwards upon each other, as to be of no use for the purposes of combat. It has therefore to depend upon its flight, and, while in the act of flying, it sends forth its excrements, sometimes to a distance of even three jugera;1659 the contact of which burns those who pursue the animal, just like a kind of fire.


It is a remarkable fact, that pards,1660 panthers, lions, and other animals of this kind, walk with the points of their nails concealed in a sheath in the body, lest they should be broken or blunted; and that, when they run, their hooked claws are turned backwards, and are never extended, except in the act of seizing their prey.1661

(16.) The noble appearance of the lion is more especially to be seen in that species which has the neck and shoulders covered with a mane, which is always acquired at the proper age by those produced from a lion; while, on the other hand, those that are the offspring of the pard, are always without this distinction. The female also has no mane. The sexual passions of these animals are very violent, and render the male quite furious. This is especially the case in Africa, where, in consequence of the great scarcity of water, the wild beasts assemble in great numbers on the banks of a few rivers. This is also the reason why so many curious varieties of animals are produced265 there, the males and females of various species coupling promiscuously with each other.1662 Hence arose the saying, which was common in Greece even, that “Africa is always producing something new.” The lion recognizes, by the peculiar odour of the pard, when the lioness has been unfaithful to him, and avenges himself with the greatest fury. Hence it is, that the female, when she has been guilty of a lapse, washes herself, or else follows the lion at a considerable distance. I find that it was a common belief, that the lioness is able to bear young no more than once, because, while delivering herself, she tears her womb with her claws.1663 Aristotle, however, gives a different account; a man of whom I think that I ought here to make some further mention, seeing that upon these subjects, I intend, in a great measure, to make him my guide. Alexander the Great, being inflamed with a strong desire to become acquainted with the natures of animals, entrusted the prosecution of this design to Aristotle, a man who held the highest rank in every branch of learning; for which purpose he placed under his command some thousands of men in every region of Asia and Greece, and comprising all those who followed the business of hunting, fowling, or fishing, or who had the care of parks, herds of cattle, the breeding of bees, fish-ponds, and aviaries, in order that no creature that was known to exist might escape his notice. By means of the information which he obtained from these persons, he was enabled to compose some fifty volumes, which are deservedly esteemed, on the subject of animals; of these I purpose to give an epitome, together with other facts with which Aristotle was unacquainted; and I beg the kind indulgence of my readers in their estimate of this work of mine, as by my aid they hastily travel through all the works of nature, and through the midst of subjects with which that most famous of all kings so ardently desired to be acquainted.

Aristotle then informs us, that the lioness, at the first birth, produces five whelps, and one less every succeeding year,266 until, after having produced one only, she ceases to bear.1664 The young ones, when first born, are shapeless and extremely small in flesh, being no larger than a weasel; for six months they are scarcely able to walk,1665 and until they are two months old, they cannot move. Lions, he says, are found in Europe, but only between the rivers Achelous and Nestus; being much superior in strength to those which are produced in Africa or Syria.1666


There are two species of lions; in the one the body is shorter and more compact, and the mane more crisp and curly;1667 these are more timid than those with a longer body and straight hair, which, in fact, have no fear of wounds. The males raise the leg like the dog, when they pass their urine;1668 which has a most disagreeable odour, the same being the case too with their breath. They seldom drink, and only take food every other day;1669 when they have gorged themselves, they will sometimes267 go without food for three days. They swallow their food whole, without mastication, so far as they are able; and when they have taken more than the stomach can possibly receive, they extract part of it by thrusting their claws into the throat; the same too, if, when full, they have occasion to take to flight. That they are very long-lived is proved by the fact, that many of them are found without teeth. Polybius,1670 the companion of Æmilianus, tells us, that when they become aged they will attack men, as they have no longer sufficient strength for the pursuit of wild beasts. It is then that they lay siege to the cities of Africa; and for this reason it was, that he, as well as Scipio, had seen some of them hung upon a cross; it being supposed that others, through dread of a similar punishment, might be deterred from committing the like outrages.


The lion is the only one of all the wild beasts that shows mercy to the suppliant; after it has conquered, it will spare,1671 and when enraged, it will vent its fury rather upon men than women, and never upon children, unless when greatly pressed by hunger. It is the belief in Libya, that it fully understands the entreaties which are addressed to it. At all events, I have heard it asserted as a fact, that a female slave, who was returning from Gætulia, was attacked by a number of lions in the forests; upon which she summoned sufficient courage to address them, and said that she was a woman, a fugitive, helpless creature, that she implored the compassion of the most generous of animals, the one that has the command of all the others, and that she was a prey unworthy of their high repute—and by these means effectually soothed their ferocity. There268 are various opinions on this point, as to whether it is through some peculiar disposition of the animal, or merely by accident, that their fury is thus soothed by addressing them. As to what is alleged, too, about serpents, that they can be drawn from their holes by singing, and thus be made to yield themselves up to death, the truth or falsity of it has not by any means been satisfactorily ascertained.1672

The tail of the lion gives indication of the state of his feelings, just as the ears do in the horse; for these are the distinguishing signs which Nature has given to each of the most generous of animals. Hence it is that, when pleased, the tail is without motion, and the animal fawns upon those who caress him; a thing, however, that very rarely happens, for his most frequent state is that of rage. He begins by beating the earth with his tail; and as he becomes more furious, he lashes his sides, as if trying to excite himself. His greatest strength is situate in the breast. From every wound that he makes, whether it is with his claws or his teeth, a black blood issues.1673 When his hunger is satisfied, he becomes harmless. The generous disposition of the lion is more especially manifested in time of danger; not only at the moment when, despising all weapons, he long defends himself solely by the terror which he inspires, and protests, as it were, that he is compelled thus to defend himself, but when he rises at last, not as though constrained by danger, but as if enraged by the mad folly of his adversaries. This, however, is a still more noble feature of his courage—however numerous the dogs and hunters may be that press upon him, as he makes his retreat he comes to a stand every now and then upon the level plain, while he is still in view, and scowls contemptuously upon them: but as soon as ever he has entered the thickets and dense forests, he scours away at the swiftest possible pace, as though aware that the place itself will shelter his shame. When in pursuit, the lion advances with a leap, but he does not do so when in flight. When wounded, he discovers, with wonderful sagacity, the person who struck the blow, and will find him out, however great may have been the269 multitude of his pursuers. If a person has thrown a dart at him, but has failed to inflict a wound, the animal seizes him, whirls him round and throws him to the ground, but without wounding him. When the lioness is defending her whelps, it is said that she fixes her eyes steadily on the ground, that she may not be frightened at the spears of the hunters. In all other respects, these animals are equally free from deceit and suspicion. They never look at an object obliquely, and they dislike being looked at themselves in such a manner. It is generally believed, that, when the lion is dying, he bites at the earth, and sheds tears at his fate.1674 Powerful, however, and fierce as this animal is, he is terrified by the motion of wheels or of an empty chariot, and still more on seeing the crest or hearing the crowing of a cock;1675 but most of all, is he afraid of fire. The only malady to which the lion is subject, is loss of appetite; this, however, is cured by putting insults upon him, by means of the pranks of monkeys placed about him, a thing which rouses his anger; immediately he tastes their blood, he is relieved.


Q. Scævola, the son of P. Scævola, when he was curule ædile, was the first to exhibit at Rome a combat of a number of lions; and L. Sylla, who was afterwards Dictator, during his prætorship, gave the spectacle of a fight of one hundred lions with manes.1676 After him, Pompeius Magnus exhibited six hundred lions in the Circus, three hundred and fifteen of which had manes; Cæsar, the Dictator, exhibited four hundred.



It was formerly a very difficult matter to catch the lion, and it was mostly done by means of pit-falls. In the reign, however, of the Emperor Claudius, accident disclosed a method which appears almost disgraceful to the name of such an animal; a Gætulian shepherd stopped a lion, that was rushing furiously upon him, by merely throwing his cloak1677 over the animal; a circumstance which afterwards afforded an exhibition in the arena of the Circus, when the frantic fury of the animal was paralyzed in a manner almost incredible by a light covering being thrown over its head, so much so, that it was put into chains without the least resistance; we must conclude, therefore, that all its strength lies in its eyes. This circumstance renders what was done by Lysimachus1678 less wonderful, who strangled a lion, with which he had been shut up by command of Alexander.1679

Antony subjected lions to the yoke, and was the first at Rome to harness them to his chariot;1680 and this during the civil war, after the battle on the plains of Pharsalia; not, indeed, without a kind of ominous presage, a prodigy that foretold at the time how that generous spirits were about to be subdued. But to have himself drawn along in this manner, in company with the actress Cytheris,1681 was a thing that271 surpassed even the most monstrous spectacles that were to be seen at that calamitous period. It is said that Hanno, one of the most illustrious of the Carthaginians, was the first who ventured to touch the lion with the hand, and to exhibit it in a tame state. It was on this account that he was banished; for it was supposed, that a man so talented and so ingenious would have it in his power to persuade the people to anything, and it was looked upon as unsafe to trust the liberties of the country to one who had so eminently triumphed over even ferocity itself. There are some fortuitous occurrences cited also, which have given occasion to these animals to display their natural clemency. Mentor, a native of Syracuse, was met in Syria by a lion, who rolled before him in a suppliant manner; though smitten with fear and desirous to escape, the wild beast on every side opposed his flight, and licked his feet with a fawning air. Upon this, Mentor observed on the paw of the lion a swelling and a wound; from which, after extracting a splinter, he relieved the creature’s pain.1682 There is a picture at Syracuse, which bears witness to the truth of this transaction.

In the same manner, too, Elpis, a native of Samos, on landing from a vessel on the coast of Africa, observed a lion near the beach, opening his mouth in a threatening manner; upon which he climbed a tree, in the hope of escaping, while, at the same time, he invoked the aid of Father Liber; for it is the appropriate time for invocations when there is no room left for hope. The wild beast did not pursue him as he fled, although he might easily have done so; but, lying down at the foot of the tree, by the open mouth which had caused so much terror, tried to excite his compassion. A bone, while he was devouring his food with too great avidity, had stuck fast between his teeth, and he was perishing with hunger; such being the punishment inflicted upon him by his own weapons, every now and then he would look up and supplicate him, as it were, with mute entreaties. Elpis,1683 not wishing to risk trusting himself to272 so formidable a beast, remained stationary for some time, more at last from astonishment than from fear. At length, however, he descended from the tree and extracted the bone, the lion in the meanwhile extending his head, and aiding in the operation as far as it was necessary for him to do. The story goes on to say, that as long as the vessel remained off that coast, the lion showed his sense of gratitude by bringing whatever he had chanced to procure in the chase. In memory of this circumstance, Elpis consecrated a temple at Samos to Father Liber, which the Greeks, from the circumstance above related, called “the temple κεχηνότος Διονύσου,” or “of the open-mouthed Bacchus.” Can we wonder, after this, that the wild beasts should be able to recognize the footsteps of man,1684 when of him alone of all animals they even hope for aid? For why should they not have recourse to others for assistance? Or how is it that they know that the hand of man has power to heal them? Unless, perhaps, it is that the violence of pain can force wild beasts even to risk every thing to obtain relief.

(17.) Demetrius, the natural philosopher, relates an equally remarkable instance, in relation to a panther.1685 The animal was lying in the middle of the road, waiting for some one to pass that way, when he was suddenly perceived by the father of one273 Philinus, an ardent lover of wisdom.1686 Seized with fear, he immediately began to retreat; while the beast rolled itself before him, evidently with the desire of caressing him, at the same time manifesting signs of grief, which could not be misunderstood in a panther even. The animal had young ones, which had happened to fall into a pit at some distance from the place. The first dictates of compassion banished all fear, and the next prompted him to assist the animal. He accordingly followed her, as she gently drew him on by fixing her claws in his garment; and as soon as he discovered what was the cause of her grief and the price of his own safety, he took the whelps out of the pit, and they followed her to the end of the desert; whither he was escorted by her, frisking with joy and gladness, in order that she might more appropriately testify how grateful she was, and how little she had given him in return; a mode of acting which is but rarely found, among men even.


Facts such as these induce us to give some credit to what Democritus relates, who says that a man, called Thoas, was preserved in Arcadia by a dragon.1687 When a boy, he had become much attached to it, and had reared it very tenderly; but his father, being alarmed at the nature and monstrous size of the reptile, had taken and left it in the desert. Thoas being here attacked by some robbers who lay in ambush, he was delivered from them by the dragon, which recognized his voice and came to his assistance. But as to what has been said respecting infants that have been exposed and nourished by the milk of wild beasts,1688 as in the case of the founders of our city by a wolf, I am disposed to attribute such cases as these rather to the greatness of the destinies which have to be fulfilled, than to any peculiarity in the nature of the animals themselves.



The panther and the tiger are nearly the only animals that are remarkable for a skin distinguished by the variety of its spots;1689 whereas others have them of a single colour, appropriate to each species. The lions of Syria alone are black. The spots of the panther are like small eyes, upon a white ground. It is said that all quadrupeds are attracted in a most wonderful manner by their odour,1690 while they are terrified by the fierceness of their aspect; for which reason the creature conceals its head, and then seizes upon the animals that are attracted to it by the sweetness of the odour. It is said by some, that the panther has, on the shoulder, a spot which bears the form of the moon; and that, like it, it regularly increases to full, and then diminishes to a crescent. At present, we apply the general names of varia1691 and pard, (which last belongs to the males), to all the numerous species of this animal, which is very common in Africa and Syria.1692 Some writers distinguish the panther, as being remarkable for its whiteness: but as yet I have not observed any other difference between them.


There was an ancient decree of the senate, which prohibited275 animals being imported from Africa into Italy; but Cn. Aufidius, the tribune of the people,1693 procured a law repealing this, which allowed of their being brought over for the games of the Circus. Scaurus, in his ædileship,1694 was the first who sent over the parti-coloured kind, one hundred and fifty in the whole; after which, Pompeius Magnus sent four hundred and ten, and the late Emperor Augustus four hundred and twenty.


The same emperor was the first person who exhibited at Rome a tame tiger1695 on the stage.1696 This was in the consulship of Q. Tubero and Fabius Maximus,1697 at the dedication of the theatre of Marcellus, on the fourth day before the nones of May: the late Emperor Claudius exhibited four at one time.1698

(18.) Hyrcania and India produce the tiger, an animal of tremendous swiftness, a quality which is more especially tested when we deprive it of all its whelps, which are always very numerous. They are seized by the hunter, who lies in wait for them, being provided with the fleetest horse he can possibly obtain, and which he frequently changes for a fresh one. As soon as the female finds her lair empty—for the male takes no care whatever of his offspring—headlong she darts forth, and traces them by the smell. Her approach is made known by her cries, upon which the hunter throws down one of the276 whelps; this she snatches up with her teeth, and more swift, even, under the weight, returns to her lair, and then again sets out in pursuit; and this she continues to do, until the hunter has reached his vessel, while the animal vainly vents her fury upon the shore.


Camels are found feeding in herds in the East. Of these there are two different kinds, those of Bactria and those of Arabia;1700 the former kind having two humps on the back, and the latter only one; they have also another hump under the breast, by means of which they support themselves when reclining. Both of these species, like the ox, have no teeth in the upper jaw.1701 They are all of them employed as beasts of burthen, in carrying loads on the back, and they answer the purpose of cavalry in battle. Their speed is the same with that of the horse, but their power of holding out in this respect is proportioned in each to its natural strength: it will never go beyond its accustomed distance, nor will it receive more than its usual load. The camel has a natural antipathy to the horse.1702 It can endure thirst for four days even, and when it has the opportunity of obtaining water, it drinks, as it were, both for past and future thirst, having first taken care to trouble the water by trampling in it; without doing which, it would find no pleasure in drinking. They live fifty years, some indeed as much as one hundred. These animals, too, are liable to fits of frenzy.1703 A peculiar mode of castrating them, and the females, even, when required for the purposes of war, has been discovered; it renders them more courageous, by the destruction of all sexual feelings.



There are two other1704 animals, which have some resemblance to the camel. One of these is called, by the Æthiopians, the nabun.1705 It has a neck like that of the horse, feet and legs like those of the ox, a head like that of the camel, and is covered with white spots upon a red ground; from which peculiarities it has been called the cameleopard.1706 It was first seen at Rome in the Circensian games held by Cæsar, the Dictator.1707 Since that time too, it has been occasionally seen. It is more remarkable for the singularity of its appearance than for its fierceness; for which reason it has obtained the name of the wild sheep.1708


It was at the games of Pompeius Magnus that the chama1709278 was first exhibited; an animal called rufius by the Gauls; having the figure of a wolf, with the spots of the pard. There were also exhibited some animals from Æthiopia, which they called by the Greek name, κήποι,1710 the hinder extremities of which resembled the human feet and legs, while the fore-feet were like hands. These animals have not been seen at Rome since that time.


At the same games the rhinoceros was also exhibited, an animal which has a single horn projecting from the nose;1711 it has been frequently seen since then. This too is another natural-born enemy of the elephant.1712 It prepares itself for the combat by sharpening its horn against the rocks; and in fighting directs it chiefly against the belly of its adversary, which it knows to be the softest part. The two animals are of equal length, but the legs of the rhinoceros are much the shorter: its skin is the colour of box-wood.


Æthiopia produces the lynx1713 in abundance, and the sphinx,279 which has brown hair and two mammæ on the breast,1714 as well as many monstrous kinds of a similar nature; horses with wings, and armed with horns, which are called pegasi;1715 the crocotta, an animal which looks as though it had been produced by the union of the wolf and the dog,1716 for it can break any thing with its teeth, and instantly on swallowing it digest it with the stomach; monkeys, too, with black heads, the hair of the ass, and a voice quite unlike that of any other animal.1717 There are oxen, too, like those of India, some with one horn, and others with three; the leucrocotta, a wild beast of extraordinary swiftness, the size of the wild ass, with the legs of a stag, the neck, tail, and breast of a lion, the head of a badger, a cloven hoof, the mouth slit up as far as the ears, and one continuous bone instead of teeth;1718 it is said, too, that this animal can imitate the human voice. Among the same people, there is also found an animal called eale; it is the size of the river-horse, has the tail of the elephant, and is of a black or tawny280 colour.1719 It has also the jaws of the wild boar, and horns that are moveable, and more than a cubit in length, so that, in fighting, it can employ them alternately, and vary their position by presenting them directly or obliquely, according as necessity may dictate. But the wild bulls which this country produces are the fiercest of all; they are larger than our domestic bull, and exceed all the others in swiftness; are of a tawny colour, with azure eyes, and the hair turned the contrary way; while the jaws open as far as the ears, and the horns are as moveable as those of the eale. The hide of this animal is as hard as flint, and effectually resists all wounds. These creatures pursue all the other wild beasts, while they themselves can only be taken in pitfalls, where they always perish from excess of rage. Ctesias informs us, that among these same Æthiopians, there is an animal found, which he calls the mantichora;1720 it has a triple row of teeth, which fit into each other like those of a comb, the face and ears of a man, and azure eyes, is of the colour of blood, has the body of the lion, and a tail ending in a sting, like that of the scorpion. Its voice resembles the union of the sound of the flute and the trumpet; it is of excessive swiftness, and is particularly fond of human flesh.


There are in India oxen also with solid hoofs1721 and a single horn;1722 and a wild beast called the axis, which has a skin281 like that of a fawn, but with numerous spots on it, and whiter;1723 this animal is looked upon as sacred to Bacchus. The Orsæan Indians hunt down a kind of ape, which has the body white1724 all over; as well as a very fierce animal called the monoceros,1725 which has the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the horse; it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black horn, which projects from the middle of its forehead, two cubits in length.1726 This animal, it is said, cannot be taken alive.


Among the Hesperian Æthiopians is the fountain of Nigris, by many, supposed to be the head of the Nile. I have already mentioned the arguments by which this opinion is supported.1727 Near this fountain, there is found a wild beast, which is called the catoblepas;1728 an animal of moderate size, and in other respects sluggish in the movement of the rest of its limbs; its head is remarkably heavy, and it only carries it with the greatest difficulty, being always bent down towards the earth. Were it not for this circumstance, it would prove the destruction of282 the human race; for all who behold its eyes, fall dead upon the spot.1729


There is the same power also in the serpent called the basilisk.1730 It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot on the head, strongly resembling a sort of a diadem.1731 When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from it: and it does not advance its body, like the others, by a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by its contact, but those even that it has breathed upon; it burns up all the grass too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence. It was formerly a general belief that if a man on horseback killed one of these animals with a spear, the poison would run up the weapon and kill, not only the rider, but the horse as well. To this dreadful monster the effluvium of the weasel is fatal, a thing that has been tried with success, for kings have often desired to see its body when killed; so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys the basilisk by its odour, but dies itself in this struggle of nature against its own self.1732


In Italy also it is believed that there is a noxious influence in the eye of a wolf; it is supposed that it will instantly take283 away the voice of a man,1733 if it is the first to see him. Africa and Egypt produce wolves of a sluggish and stunted nature;1734 those of the colder climates are fierce and savage. That men have been turned into wolves, and again restored to their original form,1735 we must confidently look upon as untrue, unless, indeed, we are ready to believe all the tales, which, for so many ages, have been found to be fabulous. But, as the belief of it has become so firmly fixed in the minds of the common people, as to have caused the term “Versipellis”1736 to be used as a common form of imprecation, I will here point out its origin. Euanthes, a Grecian author of no mean reputation, informs us that the Arcadians assert that a member of the family of one Anthus is chosen by lot, and then taken to a certain lake in that district, where, after suspending his clothes on an oak, he swims across the water and goes away into the desert, where he is changed into a wolf and associates with other animals of the same species for a space of nine years. If he has kept himself from beholding a man during the whole of that time, he returns to the same lake, and, after swimming across it, resumes his original form, only with the addition of nine years in age to his former appearance. To this Fabius1737 adds, that he takes his former clothes as well. It is really wonderful to what a length the credulity1738 of284 the Greeks will go! There is no falsehood, if ever so barefaced, to which some of them cannot be found to bear testimony.

So too, Agriopas, who wrote the Olympionics,1739 informs us that Demænetus, the Parrhasian, during a sacrifice of human victims, which the Arcadians were offering up to the Lycæan1740 Jupiter, tasted the entrails of a boy who had been slaughtered; upon which he was turned into a wolf, but, ten years afterwards, was restored to his original shape and his calling of an athlete, and returned victorious in the pugilistic contests at the Olympic games.

It is also commonly supposed, that the tail of this animal contains a small lock of hair, which possesses an amatory power; and that when the creature is caught, this hair is shed by it, but has no virtue whatever, unless it is procured from the animal while alive.1741 It is said that these animals couple for no more than twelve days in the year;1742 and that when pressed by hunger they will eat earth. Among the points of augury, to have our progress cut short to the right by a wolf, if at the time its mouth is full, is the best of omens. There is a species, which is known as the stag-wolf, such as we have already said1743 were brought from Gaul and exhibited in the Circus by Pompeius Magnus. It is said, that however hungry this animal may chance to be, if it only turns its head while eating, it immediately becomes oblivious of the food that is before it, and takes its departure to seek it elsewhere.1744


With reference to serpents, it is generally known, that they285 assume the colour of the soil in which they conceal themselves. The different species of them are innumerable. The cerastes1745 has little horns, often four in number, projecting from the body, by the movement of which it attracts birds, while the rest of its body lies concealed.1746 The amphisbæna1747 has two heads,1748 that is to say, it has a second one at the tail, as though one mouth were too little for the discharge of all its venom. Some serpents have scales, some a mottled skin, and they are all possessed of a deadly poison. The jaculus1749 darts from the branches of trees; and it is not only to our feet that the serpent is formidable, for these fly through the air even, just as though they were hurled from an engine.1750 The neck of the asp1751 puffs out,1752 and there is no remedy whatever286 against its sting, except the instant excision of the affected part.1753 This reptile, which is thus deadly, is possessed of this one sense, or rather affection; the male and the female are generally found together,1754 and the one cannot live without the other; hence it is that, if one of them happens to be killed, the other takes incredible pains to avenge its death. It follows the slayer of its mate, and will single him out among ever such a large number of people, by a sort of instinctive knowledge; with this object it overcomes all difficulties, travels any distance, and is only to be avoided by the intervention of rivers or an accelerated flight. It is really difficult to decide, whether Nature has altogether been more liberal of good or of evil. First of all, however, she has given to this pest but weak powers of sight, and has placed the eyes, not in the front of the head, so that it may see straight before it, but in the temples, so that it is more frequently put in motion by the approach of the footstep than through the sight. (24.) The ichneumon, too, is its enemy1755 to the very death.



This hostility is the especial glory of this animal, which is also produced in Egypt. It plunges itself repeatedly into the mud, and then dries itself in the sun: as soon as, by these means, it has armed itself with a sufficient number of coatings, it proceeds to the combat. Raising its tail, and turning its back to the serpent, it receives its stings, which are inflicted to no purpose, until at last, turning its head sideways, and viewing its enemy, it seizes it by the throat. Not content, however, with this victory, it conquers another creature also, which is no less dangerous.


The Nile produces the crocodile also,1756 a destructive quadruped, and equally dangerous on land and in the water. This is the only land animal that does not enjoy the use of its tongue,1757 and the only one that has the upper jaw moveable, and is capable of biting with it; and terrible is its bite, for the rows of its teeth fit into each other, like those of a comb.1758 Its length mostly exceeds eighteen cubits. It produces eggs about the size of those of the goose, and, by a kind of instinctive foresight, always deposits them beyond the limit to which the river Nile rises, when at its greatest height.1759 There is no animal that arrives at so great a bulk as this, from so small a beginning.1760 It is armed also with claws, and has a skin,288 that is proof against all blows. It passes the day on land, and the night in the water, in both instances on account of the warmth.1761 When it has glutted itself with fish, it goes to sleep on the banks of the river, a portion of the food always remaining in its mouth; upon which, a little bird, which in Egypt is known as the trochilus, and, in Italy, as the king of the birds, for the purpose of obtaining food, invites the crocodile to open its jaws; then, hopping to and fro, it first cleans the outside of its mouth, next the teeth, and then the inside, while the animal opens its jaws as wide as possible, in consequence of the pleasure which it experiences from the titillation.1762 It is at these moments that the ichneumon, seeing it fast asleep in consequence of the agreeable sensation thus produced, darts down its throat like an arrow, and eats away its intestines.1763


Like the crocodile, but smaller even than the ichneumon, is the scincus,1764 which is also produced in the Nile, and the flesh of which is the most effectual antidote against poisons, and acts as a powerful aphrodisiac upon the male sex. But so great a pest was the crocodile to prove, that Nature was not content with giving it one enemy only; the dolphins, therefore, which enter289 the Nile, have the back armed with a spine,1765 which is edged like a knife, as if for this very purpose; and although these animals are much inferior in strength, they contrive to destroy the crocodile by artifice, which on the other hand attempts to drive them from their prey, and would reign alone in its river as its peculiar domain. For all animals have an especial instinct in this respect, and are able to know not only what is for their own advantage, but also what is to the disadvantage of their enemies; they fully understand the use of their own weapons, they know their opportunity, and the weak parts of those with which they have to contend.

The skin of the belly of the crocodile is soft and thin; aware of this, the dolphins plunge into the water, as if in great alarm, and diving beneath its belly, tear it open with their spines. There is a race of men also, who are peculiarly hostile to this animal; they are known as the Tentyritæ, from an island in the Nile which they inhabit.1766 These men are of small stature, but of wonderful presence of mind, though for this particular object only. The crocodile is a terrible animal to those who fly from it, while at the same time it will fly from those who pursue it; these, however, are the only people who dare to attack it. They even swim in the river after it, and mount its back like so many horsemen; and just as the animal turns up its head for the purpose of biting them, they insert a club into its mouth, holding which at each end, with the two hands, it acts like a bit, and by these means they drive the captured animal on shore. They also terrify the crocodile so much by their voice alone even, as to force it to disgorge the bodies which it has lately swallowed, for the purpose of burial. This island, therefore, is the only place near which the crocodile never swims; indeed, it is repelled by the odour of this race of men, just as serpents are by that of the Psylli.1767 The290 sight of this animal is said to be dull when it is in the water, but, when out of the water, piercing in the extreme; it always passes the four winter months in a cave, without taking food.1768 Some persons say, that this is the only animal that continues to increase in size as long as it lives; it is very long-lived.


The Nile produces the hippopotamus, another wild beast, of a still greater size. It has the cloven hoof of the ox; the back, the mane, and the neighing of the horse; and the turned-up snout, the tail, and the hooked teeth of the wild boar, but not so dangerous.1769 The hide is impenetrable, except when it has been soaked with water; and it is used for making shields and helmets.1770 This animal lays waste the standing corn, and determines beforehand what part it shall ravage on the following day; it is said also, that it enters the field backwards, to prevent any ambush being laid for it on its return.


M. Scaurus was the first who exhibited this animal at Rome, together with five crocodiles, at the games which he gave in his ædileship, in a piece of water1771 which had been temporarily prepared for the purpose. The hippopotamus has even been291 our instructor in one of the operations of medicine.1772 When the animal has become too bulky by continued over-feeding, it goes down to the banks of the river, and examines the reeds which have been newly cut; as soon as it has found a stump that is very sharp, it presses its body against it, and so wounds one of the veins in the thigh; and, by the flow of blood thus produced, the body, which would otherwise have fallen into a morbid state, is relieved; after which, it covers up the wound with mud.


The bird also, which is called the ibis,1774 a native of the same country of Egypt, has shewn us some things of a similar nature. By means of its hooked beak, it laves the body through that part, by which it is especially necessary for health that the residuous food should be discharged. Nor, indeed, are these the only inventions which have been borrowed from animals, to prove of use to man. The power of the herb dittany, in extracting arrows, was first disclosed to us by stags that had been struck by that weapon; the weapon being292 discharged on their feeding upon this plant.1775 The same animals, too, when they happen to have been wounded by the phalangium, a species of spider, or by any insect of a similar nature, cure themselves by eating crabs. One of the very best remedies for the bite of the serpent, is the plant1776 with which lizards treat their wounds when injured in fighting with each other. The swallow has shown us that the chelidonia1777 is very serviceable to the sight, by the fact of its employing it for the cure of its young, when their eyes are affected. The tortoise recruits its powers of effectually resisting serpents, by eating the plant which is known as cunile bubula;1778 and the weasel feeds on rue, when it fights with the serpent in the pursuit of mice.1779 The stork cures itself of its diseases with wild marjoram, and the wild boar with ivy, as also by eating crabs, and more particularly those that have been thrown up by the sea.1780 The snake, when the membrane which covers its body293 has been contracted by the cold of winter, throws it off in the spring by the aid of the juices of fennel,1781 and thus becomes sleek and youthful in appearance. First of all, it disengages the head, and it then takes no less than a day and a night in working itself out, and divesting itself of the membrane in which it has been enclosed. The same animal, too, on finding its sight weakened during its winter retreat, anoints and refreshes its eyes by rubbing itself on the plant called fennel or marathrum; but if any of the scales are slow in coming off,1782 it rubs itself against the thorns of the juniper. The dragon relieves the nausea which affects it in spring, with the juices of the lettuce.1783 The barbarous nations go to hunt the panther, provided with meat that has been rubbed with aconite, which is a poison.1784 Immediately on eating it, compression of the throat overtakes them, from which circumstance it is, that the plant has received the name of pardalianches.1785 The animal, however, has found an antidote against this poison in human excrements; besides which, it is so eager to get at them, that the shepherds purposely suspend them in a vessel, placed so high, that the animal cannot reach them even by leaping, when it endeavours to get at them; accordingly, it continues to leap until it has quite exhausted itself, and at last expires: otherwise, it is so tenacious of life, that it will continue294 to fight long after its intestines have been dragged out of its body.

When an elephant has happened to devour a chameleon, which is of the same colour with the herbage, it counteracts this poison by means of the wild olive. Bears, when they have eaten of the fruit of the mandrake, lick up numbers of ants.1786 The stag counteracts the effect of poisonous plants by eating the artichoke. Wood-pigeons, jackdaws, blackbirds, and partridges, purge themselves once a year by eating bay leaves; pigeons, turtle-doves, and poultry, with wall-pellitory, or helxine; ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds, with the plant sideritis or vervain; cranes, and birds of a similar nature, with the bulrush. The raven, when it has killed a chameleon, a contest in which even the conqueror suffers, counteracts the poison by means of laurel.


There are a thousand other facts of this kind: and the same Nature has also bestowed upon many animals as well, the faculty of observing the heavens, and of presaging the winds, rains, and tempests, each in its own peculiar way. It would be an endless labour to enumerate them all; just as much as it would be to point out the relation of each to man.1787 For, in fact, they warn us of danger, not only by their fibres and their entrails, to which a large portion of mankind attach the greatest faith, but by other kinds of warnings as well. When a building is about to fall down, all the mice desert it1788 before-hand, and the spiders with their webs are the first to drop. Divination from birds has been made a science among the Romans, and the college of its priests is looked upon as peculiarly sacred.1789 In Thrace, when all parts are covered295 with ice, the foxes are consulted, an animal which, in other respects, is baneful from its craftiness. It has been observed, that this animal applies its ear to the ice, for the purpose of testing its thickness; hence it is, that the inhabitants will never cross frozen rivers and lakes until the foxes have passed over them and returned.


We have accounts, too, no less remarkable, in reference even to the most contemptible of animals. M. Varro informs us, that a town in Spain was undermined by rabbits, and one in Thessaly, by mice; that the inhabitants of a district in Gaul were driven from their country by frogs,1790 and a place in Africa by locusts;1791 that the inhabitants of Gyarus,1792 one of the Cyclades, were driven away by mice;1793 and the Amunclæ, in Italy, by serpents. There is a vast desert tract on this side of the Æthiopian Cynamolgi,1794 the inhabitants of which were exterminated by scorpions and venomous ants.1795296 and Theophrastus informs us, that the people of Rhœteum1796 were driven away by scolopendræ.1797 But we must now return to the other kinds of wild beasts.

CHAP. 44. (30.)—THE HYÆNA.

It is the vulgar notion, that the hyæna possesses in itself both sexes, being a male during one year, and a female the next, and that it becomes pregnant without the co-operation: of the male; Aristotle, however, denies this.1798 The neck, with the mane, runs continuously into the back-bone, so that the animal cannot bend this part without turning round the whole body. Many other wonderful things are also related of this animal; and strangest of all, that it imitates the human voice among the stalls of the shepherds; and while there, learns the name of some one of them, and then calls him away, and devours him. It is said also, that it can imitate a man vomiting, and that, in this way, it attracts the dogs, and then falls upon them. It is the only animal that digs up graves, in order to obtain the bodies of the dead. The female is rarely caught: its eyes, it is said, are of a thousand various colours and changes of shade. It is said also, that on coming in contact with its shadow, dogs will lose their voice, and that, by certain magical influences, it can render any animal immoveable, round which it has walked three times.


By the union of the hyæna with the Æthiopian lioness, the297 corocotta is produced, which has the same faculty of imitating the voices of men and cattle. Its gaze is always fixed and immoveable; it has no gums in either of its jaws, and the teeth are one continuous piece of bone; they are enclosed in a sort of box as it were, that they may not be blunted by rubbing against each other. Juba informs us, that the mantichora of Æthiopia can also imitate the human speech.


Great numbers of hyænas are produced in Africa, which also gives birth to multitudes of wild asses. In this species each male rules over a herd of females. Fearing rivals in their lust, they carefully watch the pregnant females, and castrate the young males with their teeth, as soon as they are born.1800 The pregnant females, on the other hand, seek concealment, and endeavour to bring forth in secret, being desirous to increase their opportunities of sexual indulgence.


The beavers of the Euxine, when they are closely pressed by danger, themselves cut off the same part, as they know that it is for this that they are pursued. This substance is called castoreum by the physicians.1802 In addition to this, the bite of this animal is terrible; with its teeth it can cut down trees298 on the banks of rivers, just as though with a knife.1803 If they seize a man by any part of his body, they will never loose their hold until his bones are broken and crackle under their teeth. The tail is like that of a fish;1804 in the other parts of the body they resemble the otter;1805 they are both of them aquatic animals, and both have hair softer than down.


Bramble-frogs,1806 also, which live both on land and in water, are replete with various medicinal substances, which they are said to discharge each day, and to take in again with their food, of which they only retain the poisonous parts.


The sea-calf, too, lives equally in the sea and on land, being possessed of the same degree of intelligence as the beaver. It vomits forth its gall, which is useful for many purposes in medicine; also the rennet,1807 which serves as a remedy in epilepsy; for it is well aware that it is hunted for these substances.299 Theophrastus informs us, that lizards1808 also cast their skins like the serpent, and instantly devour them, thus depriving us of a powerful remedy for epilepsy; he says, too, that the bite of the lizard is fatal in Greece, but harmless in Italy.1809

CHAP. 50. (32.)—STAGS.

Stags, although the most mild of all animals, have still their own feelings of malignancy;1810 when hard pressed by the hounds, of their own accord they fly for refuge to man; and when the females bring forth, they are less anxious to avoid the paths which bear traces of human footsteps, than solitary spots which offer a retreat to wild beasts.1811 They become pregnant after the rising of the constellation Arcturus;1812 they bring forth after a gestation of eight months, and sometimes produce two young ones. They separate after conception, but the males, upon being thus abandoned, become maddened with the fury of their passion; they dig up the earth, and their muzzles become quite black, until they have been washed by the rain.1813 The females, before they bring forth, purge themselves by means of a certain herb, which is called seselis, by the use of which parturition is rendered more easy. After delivery, they take a mixture of the two plants called seselis1814 and aros,1815 and then return to the fawn; they seem desirous, for300 some reason or other, that their first milk, after parturition, should be impregnated with the juice of these plants. They then exercise the young ones in running, and teach them how to take to flight, leading them to precipices, and showing them how to leap. The sexual passion of the male having been now satisfied, he repairs to the pasture lands with the greatest eagerness. When they feel themselves becoming too fat, they seek some retired spot, thus acknowledging the inconvenience arising from their bulk. Besides this, they continually pause in their flight, stand still and look back, and then again resume their flight when the enemy approaches. This pause is occasioned by the intense pain which they feel in the intestines, a part which is so weak, that a very slight blow will cause them to break within. The barking of a dog instantly puts them to flight, and they always run with the wind, in order that no trace of them may be left. They are soothed by the shepherd’s pipe and his song;1816 when their ears are erect, their sense of hearing is very acute, but when dropped, they become deaf.1817

In other respects the stag is a simple animal, which regards every thing as wonderful, and with a stupid astonishment; so much so, indeed, that if a horse or cow happens to approach it, it will not see the hunter, who may be close at hand, or, if it does see him, it only gazes upon his bow and arrow. Stags cross the sea in herds, swimming in a long line, the head of each resting on the haunches of the one that precedes it, each in its turn falling back to the rear. This has been particularly remarked when they pass over from Cilicia to the island of Cyprus. Though they do not see the land, they still are able to direct themselves by the smell. The males have horns, and are the only animals that shed them every year, at a stated time in the spring; at which period they seek out with the greatest care the most retired places, and after losing them, remain concealed, as though aware that they301 are unarmed. Still, however, they envy us the good that these might do us; for it is said the right horn, which possesses, as it were, certain medicinal properties, can never be found, a circumstance the more astonishing, from the fact that they change their horns every year, even when kept in parks;1818 it is generally thought that they bury their horns in the ground. The odour of either horn, when burnt, drives away serpents and detects epilepsy. They also bear the marks of their age on the horns, every year, up to the sixth,1819 a fresh antler being added; after which period the horns are renewed in the same state, so that by means of them their age cannot be ascertained. Their old age, however, is indicated by their teeth, for then they have only a few, or none at all; and we then no longer perceive, at the base of their horns, antlers projecting from the front of the forehead, as is usually the case with the animal when young.

When this animal is castrated it does not shed its horns, nor are they reproduced. When the horns begin to be reproduced, two projections are to be seen, much resembling, at first, dry skin; they grow with tender shoots, having upon them a soft down like that on the head of a reed. So long as they are without horns, they go to feed during the night. As the horns grow, they harden by the heat of the sun, and the animal, from time to time, tries their strength upon the trees; when satisfied with their strength, it leaves its retreat.

Stags, too, have been occasionally caught with ivy green and growing on their horns,1820 the plant having taken root on them, as it would on any piece of wood, while the animal was rubbing them against the trees. The stag is sometimes found white, as is said to have been the case with the hind of Q. Sertorius, which he persuaded the nations of Spain to look upon as having the gift of prophecy.1821 The stag, too,302 fights with the serpent: it traces out the serpent’s hole, and draws it forth by the breath of its nostrils,1822 and hence it is that the smell of burnt stags’ horn has the remarkable power of driving away serpents. The very best remedy for the bite of a serpent is the rennet of a fawn that has been killed in the womb of its mother.

The stag is generally admitted to be very long lived; some were captured at the end of one hundred years with the golden collars which Alexander the Great had put upon them, and which were quite concealed by the folds of the skin, in consequence of the accumulation of fat.1823 This animal is not subject to fever, and, indeed, it is a preservative against that complaint. We know that of late some women of princely rank have been in the habit of eating the flesh of the stag every morning, and that they have arrived at an extreme old age, free from all fevers. It is, however, generally supposed that the animal must be killed by a single wound to make sure of it possessing this virtue.

(33.) Of the same species is an animal, which only differs from the stag in having a beard and long hair about the shoulders: it is called tragelaphus,1824 and is produced nowhere except on the banks of the Phasis.1825


Africa is almost the only country that does not produce1826303 the stag, but then it produces the chameleon,1827 although it is much more commonly met with in India. Its figure and size are that of a lizard, only that its legs are straight and longer. Its sides unite under its belly, as in fishes, and its spine projects in a similar manner. Its muzzle is not unlike the snout of a small hog, so far as in so small an animal it can be. Its tail is very long, and becomes smaller towards the end, coiling up in folds like that of the viper. It has hooked claws, and a slow movement like that of the tortoise; its body is rough like that of the crocodile; its eyes are deep sunk in the orbits, placed very near each other, very large, and of the same colour as the body. It never closes them, and when the animal looks round, it does so, not by the motion of the pupil, but of the white of the eye.1828 It always holds the head upright and the mouth open, and is the only animal which receives nourishment neither by meat nor drink, nor anything else, but from the air alone.1829 Towards the end of the dog-days1830 it is fierce, but at other times quite harmless. The nature of its colour, too, is very remarkable, for it is continually changing; its eyes, its tail, and its whole body always assuming the colour of whatever object is nearest, with the exception of white and red.1831 After death, it becomes of a304 pale colour. It has a little flesh about the head, the jaws, and the root of the tail, but none whatever on the rest of the body. It has no blood whatever, except in the heart and about the eyes, and its entrails are without a spleen.1832 It conceals itself during the winter months, just like the lizard.


The tarandrus,1833 too, of the Scythians, changes its colour, but this is the case with none of the animals which are covered with hair, except the lycaon1834 of India, which is said to have a mane on the neck. But with respect to the thos,1835 (which is a species of wolf, differing from the common kind in having a larger body and very short legs, leaping with great activity, living by the chase, and never attacking man); it changes its305 coat, and not its colour, for it is covered with hair in the winter, and goes bare in summer. The tarandrus is of the size of the ox; its head is larger than that of the stag, and not very unlike it; its horns are branched, its hoofs cloven, and its hair as long as that of the bear. Its proper colour, when it thinks proper to return to it, is like that of the ass. Its hide is of such extreme hardness, that it is used for making breast-plates. When it is frightened, this animal reflects the colour of all the trees, shrubs, and flowers, or of the spots in which it is concealed; hence it is that it is so rarely captured. It is wonderful that such various hues should be given to the body, but still more so that it should be given to the hair.


India and Africa produce the porcupine, the body of which is covered with prickles. It is a species of hedgehog, but the quills of the porcupine are longer, and when it stretches the skin, it discharges them like so many missiles. With these it pierces the mouths of the dogs which are pressing hard upon it, and even sends its darts to some distance further.1836 It conceals itself during the winter months, which, indeed, is the nature of many animals, and more especially the bear.


Bears couple in the beginning of winter,1837 and not after the fashion of other quadrupeds; for both animals lie down and embrace each other.1838 The female then retires by herself to a separate den, and there brings forth on the thirtieth day, mostly five young ones. When first born, they are shapeless masses of white flesh, a little larger than mice;1839 their claws alone being306 prominent. The mother then licks them gradually into proper shape. There is nothing more uncommon than to see a she-bear in the act of parturition.1840 The male remains in his retreat for forty days, the female four months. If they happen to have no den, they construct a retreat with branches and shrubs, which is made impenetrable to the rain and is lined with soft leaves. During the first fourteen days they are overcome by so deep a sleep, that they cannot be aroused by wounds even. They become wonderfully fat, too, while in this lethargic state. This fat is much used in medicine; and it is very useful in preventing the hair from falling off.1841 At the end of these fourteen days they sit up, and find nourishment by sucking their fore-paws.1842 They warm their cubs, when cold, by pressing them to the breast, not unlike the way in which birds brood over their eggs. It is a very astonishing thing, but Theophrastus believes it, that if we preserve the flesh of the bear, the animal being killed in its dormant state, it will increase in bulk, even though it may have been cooked.1843 During this period no signs of food are to be found in the stomach of the animal, and only a very slight quantity of liquid; there are a few drops of blood only near the heart, but none whatever in any other part of the body.1844 They leave their retreat in the spring, the males being remarkably fat: of this circumstance, however, we cannot give any satisfactory explanation, for the sleep, during which they increase so much in bulk, lasts, as we have already stated, only fourteen days.1845 When they come out, they eat a certain plant, which is known as307 aros,1846 in order to relax the bowels, which would otherwise become in a state of constipation; and they sharpen the edges of their teeth against the young shoots of the trees. Their eye-sight is dull, for which reason in especial, they seek the combs of bees, in order that from the bees stinging them in the throat and drawing blood, the oppression in the head may be relieved.1847 The head of the bear is extremely weak, whereas, in the lion, it is remarkable for its strength: on which account it is, that when the bear, impelled by any alarm, is about to precipitate itself from a rock, it covers its head with its paws. In the arena of the Circus they are often to be seen killed by a blow on the head with the fist. The people of Spain have a belief, that there is some kind of magical poison in the brain of the bear, and therefore burn the heads of those that have been killed in their public games; for it is averred, that the brain, when mixed with drink, produces in man the rage of the bear.1848 These animals walk on two feet, and climb down trees backwards.1849 They can overcome the bull, by suspending themselves, by all four legs, from its muzzle and horns, thus wearing out its powers by their weight. In no other animal is stupidity found more adroit in devising mischief. It is recorded in our Annals, that on the fourteenth day before the calends of October,1850 in the consulship of M. Piso and M. Messala, Domitius Ahenobarbus, the curule ædile, brought into the Circus one hundred Numidian bears, and as many Æthiopian hunters. I am surprised to find the word Numidian added, seeing that it is well known that there are no bears produced in Africa.1851



The mice of Pontus also conceal themselves during the winter; but only the white ones.1852 I wonder how those authors, who have asserted that the sense of taste in these animals is very acute, found out that such is the fact. The Alpine mice, which are the same size as badgers, also conceal themselves;1853 but they first carry a store of provisions into their retreat. Some writers, indeed, say that the male and female, lying on their backs alternately, hold in their paws a bundle of gnawed herbs, and, the tail of each in its turn being seized by the teeth of the other, in this way, they are dragged into their hole; hence it is, that at this season their hair is found to be rubbed off their backs. There is a similar animal also in Egypt,1854 which sits, in the same way, upon its haunches, and walks on two feet, using the fore feet as hands.


Hedgehogs also lay up food for the winter; rolling themselves on apples as they lie on the ground, they pierce one with their quills, and then take up another in the mouth, and so carry them into the hollows of trees. These animals also, when they conceal themselves in their holes, afford a sure sign that the wind is about to change from north-east to south.1855 When they309 perceive the approach of the hunter, they draw in the head and feet, and all the lower part of the body, which is covered by a thin and defenceless down only, and then roll themselves up into the form of a ball, so that there is no way of taking hold of them but by their quills. When they are reduced to a state of desperation, they discharge a corrosive urine, which injures their skin and quills, as they are aware that it is for the sake of them that they are hunted. A skilful hunter, therefore, will only pursue them when they have just discharged their urine. In this case the skin retains its value; while in the other case, it becomes spoilt and easily torn, the quills rotting and falling off, even though the animal should escape with its life. For this reason it is that it never moistens itself with this poisonous fluid, except when reduced to the last stage of desperation; for it has a perfect hatred for its own venomous distillation, and so careful is the animal, so determined to wait till the very last moment, that it is generally caught before it has employed this means of defence.

They force it to unroll itself, by sprinkling warm water upon it, and then, suspended by one of its hind legs, it is left to die of hunger; for there is no other mode of destroying it, without doing injury to its skin. This animal is not, as many of us imagine, entirely useless to man. If it were not for the quills which it produces, the soft fleece of the sheep would have been given in vain to mankind; for it is by means of its skin, that our woollen cloth is dressed. From the monopoly of this article, great frauds and great profits have resulted;1856 there is no subject on which the senate has more frequently passed decrees, and there is not one of the Emperors, who has not received from the provinces complaints respecting it.1857



There are also two other animals, whose urine possesses very wonderful properties. We have heard speak of a small animal, to which the name of leontophonus1859 has been given, and which is said to exist only in those countries where the lion is produced; if its flesh is only tasted by the lion, so intensely venomous is its nature, that this lord of the other quadrupeds instantly expires. Hence it is, that the hunters of the lion burn its body to ashes, and sprinkle a piece of flesh with the powder, and so kill the lion by means of the ashes even—so fatal to it is this poison! The lion, therefore, not without good reason hates the leontophonus, and after destroying its sight, kills it without inflicting a bite: the animal, on the other hand, sprinkles the lion with its urine, being well aware that this too is fatal to it.

The urine of the lynx, in the countries1860 where that animal is produced, either becomes crystallized, or else hardens into a precious stone, resembling the carbuncle, and which shines like fire.1861 This is called lyncurium;1862 and hence it is, that many persons believe that this is the way in which amber is produced. The lynx, being well aware of this property, envies us the possession of its urine, and therefore buries it in the earth;1863 by this, however, it becomes solid all the sooner.


The badger, when alarmed, shows its fear by a different kind of artifice; inflating the skin, it distends it to such a degree, as to repel equally the blows of men and the bite of dogs.1864 The squirrel, also, has the power of foreseeing storms,311 and so, stopping up its hole at the side from which the wind blows, it leaves the other side open; besides which, the tail, which is furnished with longer hair than the rest of the body, serves as a covering for it. It appears, therefore,1865 that some animals lay up a store of food for the winter, while others pass the time in sleep, which serves them instead of food.


It is said, that the viper is the only one among the serpents that conceals itself in the earth; the others lurking either in the hollows of trees or in holes in the rocks.1866 Provided they are not destroyed by cold, they can live there, without taking food, for a whole year.1867 During the time that they are asleep in their retreat, none of them are venomous.

A similar state of torpor exists also in snails. These animals again become dormant during the summer, adhering very powerfully to stones; and even, when turned up and pulled away from the stones, they will not leave their shells. In the Balearic isles, the snails which are known as the cave-snail,1868 do not leave their holes in the ground, nor do they feed upon any green thing, but adhere to each other like so many grapes. There is another less common species also, which is closed by an operculum that adheres to the shell.1869 These animals always burrow under the earth, and were formerly never found, except in the environs of the Maritime Alps: they have, however, of late been dug up in the territory of Liternum;1870 the312 most valued, however, of all, are those of the island of Astypalæa.1871

CHAP. 60.—LIZARDS.1872

It is said, that the lizard, the greatest enemy of all to the snail, never prolongs its life beyond six months. The lizards of Arabia are a cubit in length,1873 while those upon Nysa,1874 a mountain of India, are twenty-four feet long, their colour being either yellow, purple, or azure blue.


Among the animals, also, that are domesticated with mankind, there are many circumstances that are far from undeserving of being known: among these, there are more particularly that most faithful friend of man, the dog, and the horse. We have an account of a dog that fought against a band of robbers, in defending its master; and although it was pierced with wounds, still it would not leave the body, from which it drove away all birds and beasts. Another dog, again, in Epirus, recognized the murderer of its master, in the midst of an assemblage of people, and, by biting and barking at him, extorted from him a confession of his crime. A king of the Garamantes also was brought back from exile by two hundred dogs, which maintained the combat against all his opponents. The people of Colophon1875 and Castabala1876 kept troops of dogs, for the purposes of war; and these used to fight in the front rank, and never retreat; they were the most faithful of auxiliaries, and yet required no pay. After the defeat of the Cimbri, their dogs defended their moveable houses, which were carried upon waggons. Jason, the Lycian, having been slain,313 his dog refused to take food, and died of famine. A dog, to which Darius gives the name of Hyrcanus, upon the funeral pile of King Lysimachus being lighted, threw itself into the flames,1877 and the dog of King Hiero did the same. Philistus also gives a similar account of Pyrrhus, the dog of the tyrant Gelon: and it is said, also, that the dog of Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, tore Consingis,1878 the wife of that king, in consequence of her wanton behaviour, when toying with her husband.

Among ourselves, Volcatius, a man of rank, who instructed Cascellius in the civil law,1879 as he was riding on his Asturian jennet, towards evening, from his country-house, was attacked by a robber, and was only saved by his dog. The senator Cælius,1880 too, while lying sick at Placentia, was surprised by armed men, but received not a wound from them until they had first killed his dog. But a more extraordinary fact than all, is what took place in our own times, and is testified by the public register of the Roman people. In the consulship of Appius Junius and P. Silius, when Titius Sabinus1881 was put to314 death, together with his slaves, for the affair of Nero, the son of Germanicus, it was found impossible to drive away a dog which belonged to one of them from the prison; nor could it be forced away from the body, which had been cast down the Gemitorian steps;1882 but there it stood howling, in the presence of vast multitudes of people; and when some one threw a piece of bread to it, the animal carried it to the mouth of its master. Afterwards, when the body was thrown into the Tiber, the dog swam into the river, and endeavoured to raise it out of the water; quite a throng of people being collected to witness this instance of an animal’s fidelity.

Dogs are the only animals that are sure to know their masters; and if they suddenly meet him as a stranger, they will instantly recognize him. They are the only animals that will answer to their names, and recognize the voices of the family. They recollect a road along which they have passed, however long it may be. Next to man, there is no living creature whose memory is so retentive. By sitting down on the ground, we may arrest their most impetuous attack, even when prompted by the most violent rage.

In daily life we have discovered many other valuable qualities in this animal; but its intelligence and sagacity are more especially shown in the chase. It discovers and traces out the tracks of the animal, leading by the leash1883 the sportsman who accompanies it straight up to the prey; and as soon as ever it has perceived it, how silent it is, and how secret but significant is the indication which it gives, first by the tail and afterwards by the nose!1884 Hence it is, that even when worn out with old age, blind, and feeble, they are carried by the huntsman in his arms, being still able to point out the coverts where the game is concealed, by snuffing with their muzzles at the wind. The Indians raise a breed between the dog and the tiger,1885 and for this purpose tie up the females in the forests315 when in heat. The first two litters they look upon as too savage to be reared, but they bring up the third.

The Gauls do the same with the wolf and the dog;1886 and their packs of hounds have, each of them, one of these dogs, which acts as their guide and leader. This dog they follow in the chase, and him they carefully obey; for these animals have even a notion of subordination among themselves. It is asserted that the dogs keep running when they drink at the Nile, for fear of becoming a prey to the voracity of the crocodile.1887 When Alexander the Great was on his Indian expedition, he was presented by the king of Albania with a dog of unusual size; being greatly delighted with its noble appearance, he ordered bears, and after them wild boars, and then deer, to be let loose before it; but the dog lay down, and regarded them with a kind of immoveable contempt. The noble spirit of the general became irritated by the sluggishness thus manifested by an animal of such vast bulk, and he ordered it to be killed. The report of this reached the king, who accordingly sent another dog, and at the same time sent word that its powers were to be tried, not upon small animals, but upon the lion or the elephant; adding, that he had had originally but two, and that if this one were put to death, the race would be extinct. Alexander, without delay, procured a lion, which in his presence was instantly torn to pieces. He then ordered an elephant to be brought, and never was he more delighted with any spectacle; for the dog, bristling up its hair all over the body, began by thundering forth a loud barking, and then attacked the animal, leaping at it first on one side and then on the other, attacking it in the most skilful manner, and then again retreating at the opportune moment, until at last the elephant, being rendered quite giddy by turning round and round, fell to the earth, and made it quite re-echo with his fall.



This animal brings forth twice in the year; it is capable of bearing young when a year old, and gestation continues for sixty days. The young ones are born blind, and the greater the supply of nourishment from the mother’s milk, the more slowly do they acquire their sight; still, however, this never takes place later than the twentieth day, or earlier than the seventh. It is said by some writers, that if only one is born, it is able to see on the ninth day; and that if there are two, they begin to see on the tenth, every additional one causing the power of seeing to come a day later. It is said, too, that the females which are produced by the mother in her first litter, are subject to the night-mare.1889 The best dog of the litter is the one which is last in obtaining its sight, or else the one which the mother carries first into her bed.


Canine madness is fatal to man during the heat of Sirius,1891 and, as we have already said, it proves so in consequence of those who are bitten having a deadly horror of water.1892 For this reason, during the thirty days1893 that this star exerts its influence, we try to prevent the disease by mixing dung from317 the poultry-yard with the dog’s food; or else, if they are already attacked by the disease, by giving them hellebore.

(41.) We have a single remedy against the bite, which has been but lately discovered, by a kind of oracle, as it were—the root of the wild rose, which is called cynorrhodos,1894 or dog-rose. Columella informs us, that if, on the fortieth day after the birth of the pup, the last bone of the tail is bitten off, the sinew will follow with it; after which, the tail will not grow, and the dog will never become rabid.1895 It is mentioned, among the other prodigies, and this I take to be one indeed, that a dog once spoke;1896 and that when Tarquin was expelled from the kingdom, a serpent barked.


King Alexander had also a very remarkable horse;1897 it was called Bucephalus, either on account of the fierceness of its aspect, or because it had the figure of a bull’s head marked on its shoulder. It is said, that he was struck with its beauty when he was only a boy, and that it was purchased from the stud of Philonicus, the Pharsalian, for thirteen talents.1898 When it was equipped with the royal trappings, it would suffer no one except Alexander to mount it, although at other times it would allow any one to do so. A memorable circumstance connected with it in battle is recorded of this horse; it is said that when it was wounded in the attack upon Thebes, it would not allow Alexander to mount any other horse. Many other circumstances, also, of a similar nature, occurred respecting it; so that when it died, the king duly performed its obsequies, and built around its tomb a city, which he named after it.1899

It is said, also, that Cæsar, the Dictator, had a horse, which318 would allow no one to mount but himself, and that its fore-feet were like those of a man; indeed it is thus represented in the statue before the temple of Venus Genetrix.1900 The late Emperor Augustus also erected a tomb to his horse; on which occasion Germanicus Cæsar1901 wrote a poem, which still exists. There are at Agrigentum many tombs of horses, in the form of pyramids.1902 Juba informs us, that Semiramis was so greatly enamoured of a horse, as to have had connection with it.1903 The Scythian horsemen make loud boasts of the fame of their cavalry. On one occasion, one of their chiefs having been slain in single combat, when the conqueror came to take the spoils of the enemy, he was set upon by the horse of his opponent, and trampled on and bitten to death. Another horse, upon the bandage being removed from his eyes, found that he had covered his mother, upon which he threw himself down a precipice, and was killed. We learn, also, that for a similar cause, a groom was torn to pieces, in the territory of Reate.1904 For these animals have a knowledge of the ties of consanguinity, and in a stud a mare will attend to its sister of the preceding year, even more carefully than its mother.

Their docility, too, is so great, that we find it stated that the whole of the cavalry of the Sybarite army were accustomed to perform a kind of dance to the sound of musical instruments. These animals also foresee battles; they lament over their masters when they have lost them, and sometimes shed tears1905 of regret for them. When King Nicomedes was slain, his horse put an end to its life by fasting. Phylarchus relates,319 that Centaretus,1906 the Galatian, after he had slain Antiochus in battle, took possession of his horse, and mounted it in triumph; upon which the animal, inflamed with indignation, regardless of the rein and become quite ungovernable, threw itself headlong down a precipice, and they both perished together. Philistus relates, that Dionysius having left his horse stuck fast in a morass, the animal, as soon as it disengaged itself, followed the steps of its master, with a swarm of bees, which had settled on its mane; and that it was in consequence of this portent, that Dionysius gained possession of the kingdom.1907


These animals possess an intelligence which exceeds all description.1908 Those who have to use the javelin are well aware how the horse, by its exertions and the supple movements of its body, aids the rider in any difficulty he may have in throwing his weapon. They will even present to their master the weapons collected on the ground. The horses too, that are yoked to the chariots in the Circus, beyond a doubt, display remarkable proofs how sensible they are to encouragement and to glory. In the Secular games, which were celebrated in the Circus, under the Emperor Claudius, when the charioteer Corax, who belonged to the white party,1909 was thrown from his place at the starting-post, his horses took the lead and kept it, opposing the other chariots, overturning them, and doing every thing against the other competitors that could have been done, had they been guided by the most skilful charioteer; and while we quite blushed to behold the skill of man excelled by that of the horse, they arrived at the goal, after going over the whole of the prescribed course. Our ancestors considered it as a still more remarkable portent, that320 when a charioteer had been thrown from his place, in the plebeian games of the Circus,1910 the horses ran to the Capitol, just as if he had been standing in the car, and went three times round the temple there. But what is the greatest prodigy of all, is the fact that the horses of Ratumenna came from Veii to Rome, with the palm branch and chaplet, he himself having fallen from his chariot, after having gained the victory; from which circumstance the Ratumennian gate derived its name.1911

When the Sarmatæ are about to undertake a long journey, they prepare their horses for it, by making them fast the day before, during which they give them but little to drink; by these means they are enabled to travel on horseback, without stopping, for one hundred and fifty miles. Some horses are known to live fifty years; but the females are not so long-lived.1912 These last come to their full growth at the fifth year, the males a year later. The poet Virgil has very beautifully described the points which ought more especially to be looked for, as constituting the perfection of a horse;1913 I myself have also treated of the same subject, in my work1914 on the Use of the Javelin by Cavalry, and I find that pretty nearly all writers are agreed respecting them.1915 The points requisite for the Circus are somewhat different, however; and while horses are put in training for other purposes at only two years old, they are not admitted to the contests of the Circus before their fifth year.


The female of this animal carries her young for eleven months, and brings forth in the twelfth. The connection takes place at the vernal equinox, and generally in both sexes, at the age of two years; but the colt is much stronger when the parents are three years old. The males are capable of covering321 up to the thirty-third year, and it is not till after the twentieth that they are taken for this purpose from the Circus. At Opus,1917 it is said, a horse served as a stallion until his fortieth year; though he required some assistance in raising the fore part of the body. There are few animals, however, in which the generative powers are so limited, for which reason it is only admitted to the female at certain intervals;1918 indeed it cannot cover as many as fifteen times in the course of one year.1919 The sexual passion of the mare is extinguished by cropping her mane; she is capable of bearing every year up to the fortieth. We have an account of a horse having lived to its seventy-fifth year. The mare brings forth standing upright, and is attached, beyond all other animals, to her offspring. The horse is born with a poisonous substance on its forehead, known as hippomanes,1920 and used in love philtres; it is the size of a fig, and of a black colour; the mother devours it immediately on the birth of the foal, and until she has done so, she will not suckle it. When this substance can be rescued from the mother, it has the property of rendering the animal quite frantic by the smell. If a foal has lost its mother, the other mares in the herd that have young, will take charge of the orphan. It is said that the young of this animal cannot touch the earth with the mouth for the first three days after its birth. The more spirited a horse is, the deeper does it plunge its nose into the water while drinking. The Scythians prefer mares for the purposes of war, because they can pass their urine without stopping in their career.



It is well known that in Lusitania, in the vicinity of the town of Olisipo1921 and the river Tagus, the mares, by turning their faces towards the west wind as it blows, become impregnated by its breezes,1922 and that the foals which are conceived in this way are remarkable for their extreme fleetness; but they never live beyond three years. Gallicia and Asturia are also countries of Spain; they produce a species of horse known to us as thieldones,1923 and when smaller, asturcones;1924 they have a peculiar and not common pace of their own, which is very easy, and arises from the two legs of the same side being moved together;1925 it is by studying the nature of this step that our horses have been taught the movement which we call ambling.1926 Horses have very nearly the same diseases as men;1927 besides which, they are subject to an irregular action of the bladder, as, indeed, is the case with all beasts of burden.1928


M. Varro informs us that Quintus Axius, the senator, paid for an ass the sum of four hundred thousand sesterces;1929 I am323 not sure whether this did not exceed the price ever given for any other animal. It is certainly a species of animal singularly useful for labour and ploughing,1930 but more especially for the production of mules.1931 In these animals also, the country in which they are born is taken into consideration; in Greece, those from Arcadia1932 are the most valued; and in Italy, those of Reate.1933 The ass is an animal which is unable to endure cold,1934 for which reason it is that it is never produced in Pontus; nor is it allowed to cover at the vernal equinox, like other cattle, but at the summer solstice. The males are less proper for covering, when out of work. The earliest age at which the females are ever capable of bearing is the thirtieth month, but the usual time begins at the age of three years. The number to which it gives birth is the same as the mare, which it also resembles, in the length of its gestation, and in its mode of bringing forth; but the female will discharge the generative fluid from the womb, being unable to retain it, unless by blows she is forced to run immediately after being covered. They seldom bring forth two at one birth.1935 When the she-ass is about to bring forth, she shuns the light and seeks darkness, in order to escape the observation of man. Asses are capable of breeding throughout the whole of their life, which extends to thirty years. Their attachment to their young is great in the extreme, but their aversion to water is still greater. They will pass through fire to get at their foals, while the very same animal, if the smallest324 stream intervenes, will tremble, and not dare so much as to wet even its feet. Nor yet in their pastures will they ever drink at any but the usual watering-place, and they make it their care to find some dry path by which to get at it. They will not pass over a bridge either, when the water can be seen between the planks beneath.1936 Wonderful to relate, too, if their watering-places are changed, though they should be ever so thirsty, they will not drink without being either beaten or caressed. They ought always to have plenty of room for sleeping; for they are very subject to various diseases in their sleep, when they repeatedly throw out their feet, and would immediately lame themselves by coming in contact with any hard substance; so that it is necessary that they should be provided with an empty space. The profit which is derived from these animals exceeds that arising from the richest estate. It is a well-known fact, that in Celtiberia there are some she-asses which have produced to their owners as much as four hundred thousand sesterces.1937 In the rearing of she-mules it is said to be particularly necessary to attend to the colour of the hair of the ears and the eyelids, for, although the rest of the body be all of one colour, the mule that is produced will have all the colours that are found in those parts. Mæcenas was the first person who had the young of the ass served up at his table;1938 they were in those times much preferred to the onager or wild ass;1939 but, since his time, the taste has gone out of fashion. An ass, after witnessing the death of another ass, survives it but a very short time only.


From the union of the male ass and the mare a mule is produced325 in the thirteenth month, an animal remarkable for its strength in laborious work. We are told that, for this purpose, the mare ought not to be less than four years old, nor more than ten. It is said also that these two species will repulse each other, unless the male has been brought up, in its infancy, upon the milk of the other species; for which reason they take the foals away from the mare, in the dark, and substitute for them the male colts of the ass. A mule may also be produced from a horse and a female ass; but it can never be properly broken in, and is incorrigibly sluggish,1941 being in all respects as slow as an old animal. If a mare has conceived by a horse, and is afterwards covered by an ass, the first conception is abortive; but this is not the case when the horse comes after the ass. It has been observed, that the female is in the best state for receiving the male in the seventh day after parturition, and that the males are best adapted for the purpose when they are fatigued.1942 A female ass, which has not conceived before shedding what are called the milk-teeth, is considered to be barren; which is also looked upon as the case when a she-ass does not become pregnant after the first covering. The male which is produced from a horse and a female ass, was called by the ancients “hinnulus,” and that from an ass and a mare “mulus.”1943 It has been observed that the animal which is thus produced by the union of the two species is of a third species, and does not resemble either of the parents; and that all animals produced in this way, of whatever kind they may be, are incapable of reproduction; she-mules are therefore barren. It is said, indeed, in our Annals, that they have frequently brought forth;1944 but such cases must be looked upon only as prodigies.1945 Theophrastus326 says that they commonly bring forth in Cappadocia; but that the animal of that country is of a peculiar species.1946 The mule is prevented from kicking by frequently giving it wine to drink.1947 It is said in the works of many of the Greek writers, that from the union of a mule with a mare, the dwarf mule is produced, which they call “ginnus.” From the union of the mare and the wild ass, when it has been domesticated, a mule is produced which is remarkably swift in running, and has extremely hard feet, and a thin body, while it has a spirit that is quite indomitable. The very best stallion of all, however, for this purpose, is one produced from a union of the wild ass and the female domesticated ass. The best wild asses are those of Phrygia and Lycaonia. Africa glories in the wild foals which she produces, as excelling all others in flavour; these are called “lalisiones.”1948 It appears from some Athenian records, that a mule once lived to the age of eighty years. The people were greatly delighted with this animal, because on one occasion, when, on the building of a temple in the citadel,1949 it had been left behind on account of its age, it persisted in promoting the work by accompanying and assisting them; in consequence of which a decree was passed, that the dealers in corn were not to drive it away from their sieves.1950


We find it stated, that the oxen of India are of the height327 of camels, and that the extremity of their horns are four feet asunder. In our part of the world the most valuable oxen are those of Epirus, owing, it is said, to the attention paid to their breed by King Pyrrhus.1951 This perfection was acquired by not permitting them to breed until after their fourth year. By these means he brought them to a very large size, and descendants of this breed are still to be seen at the present day. But in our times, we set heifers to breed in their first year, or, at the latest, in their second. Bulls are fit for breeding in their fourth year; one being sufficient, it is said, for ten cows during the whole year. If the bull, after covering, goes to the right side, the produce will be a male; if to the left, a female.1952 Conception takes place after a single union; but if, by any accident, it should not have taken place, the cow seeks the male again, at the end of twenty days. She brings forth in the tenth month; whatever may be produced before that time cannot be reared. Some writers say, that the birth takes place the very day on which the tenth month is completed. This animal but rarely produces twins. The time of covering begins at the rising of the Dolphin, the day before the nones of January,1953 and continues for the space of thirty days. Sometimes it takes place in the autumn; and among those nations which live upon milk, they manage so as to have a supply of it at all times of the year. Bulls never cover more than twice in the same day. The ox is the only animal that walks backwards while it is feeding; among the Garamantes, they feed in no other manner.1954 The females live fifteen years at the longest, and the males twenty; they arrive at their full vigour in their fifth year. It is said that they are made fat by being328 washed in warm water, or by having the entrails inflated with air by means of a reed, introduced through an incision in the skin. We must not look upon those kinds as having degenerated, the appearance of which is not so favourable. Those that are bred in the Alps, although very small of body, give a great quantity of milk, and are capable of enduring much labour; they are yoked by the horns, and not by the neck. The oxen of Syria have no dewlap, but they have a hump on the back. Those of Caria also, which is in Asia, are unsightly1955 in appearance, having a hump hanging over the shoulders from the neck; and their horns are moveable;1956 they are said, however, to be excellent workers, though those which are either black or white are condemned as worthless for labour.1957 The horns of the bull are shorter and thinner than those of the ox. Oxen must be broken in when they are three years old; after that time it is too late, and before that time too early. The ox is most easily broken in by yoking it with one that has already been trained.1958 This animal is our especial companion, both in labour generally, and in the operations of agriculture. Our ancestors considered it of so much value, that there is an instance cited of a man being brought before the Roman people, on a day appointed, and condemned, for having killed an ox, in order to humour an impudent concubine of his, who said that she had never tasted tripe; and he was driven into exile, just as though he had killed one of his own peasants.1959


The bull has a proud air, a stern forehead, shaggy ears, and horns which appear always ready, and challenging to the combat; but it is by his fore feet that he manifests his threatening anger. As his rage increases, he stands, lashing back his tail1960 every now and then, and throwing up the sand against his belly; being the only animal that excites himself by these means. We have seen them fight at the word of command, and shown as a public spectacle; these bulls whirled about and then fell upon their horns, and at once were up again; then, at other times, they would lie upon the ground and let themselves be lifted up; they would even stand in a two-horsed chariot, while moving at a rapid rate, like so many charioteers.1961 The people of Thessaly invented a method of killing bulls, by means of a man on horseback, who would ride up to them, and seize one of the horns, and so twist their neck. Cæsar the Dictator was the first person who exhibited this spectacle at Rome.

Bulls are selected as the very choicest of victims, and are offered up as the most approved sacrifice for appeasing the gods.1962 Of all the animals that have long tails, this is the only one whose tail is not of proportionate length at the moment of birth; and in this animal alone it continues to grow until it reaches its heels. It is on this account, that in making choice of a calf for a victim, due care is taken that its tail reaches to the pastern joint; if it is shorter than this, the sacrifice is not deemed acceptable to the gods. This fact has also been remarked, that calves, which have been carried to the altar on men’s shoulders, are not generally acceptable to the gods; and also, if they are lame, or of a species which is not appropriate,1963 or if they struggle to get away from the330 altar. It was a not uncommon prodigy among the ancients, for an ox to speak;1964 upon such a fact being announced to the senate, they were in the habit of holding a meeting in the open air.

CHAP. 71. (46.)—THE EGYPTIAN APIS.1965

In Egypt an ox is even worshipped as a deity; they call it Apis. It is distinguished by a conspicuous white spot on the right side, in the form of a crescent. There is a knot also under the tongue, which is called “cantharus.”1966 This ox is not allowed to live beyond a certain number of years; it is then destroyed by being drowned in the fountain of the priests. They then go, amid general mourning, and seek another ox to replace it; and the mourning is continued, with their heads shaved, until such time as they have found one; it is not long, however, at any time, before they meet with a successor. When one has been found, it is brought by the priests to Memphis. There are two temples appropriated to it, which are called thalami,1967 and to these the people resort to learn the auguries. According as the ox enters the one or the other of these places, the augury is deemed favourable or unfavourable. It gives answers to individuals, by taking food from the hand of those who consult it. It turned away from the hand of Germanicus Cæsar, and not long after he died.1968 In general it lives in secret; but, when it comes forth in public, the multitudes make way for it, and it is attended by a crowd of boys, singing hymns in honour of it; it appears to be sensible of the adoration thus paid to it, and to court it. These crowds, too, suddenly become inspired, and predict future events. Once in the year a female is presented to the ox, which likewise has her appropriate331 marks, although different from those on the male; and it is said that she is always killed the very same day that they find her. There is a spot in the Nile, near Memphis, which, from its figure, they call Phiala;1969 here they throw into the water a dish of gold, and another of silver, every year upon the days on which they celebrate the birth of Apis.1970 These days are seven in number, and it is a remarkable thing, that during this time, no one is ever attacked by the crocodile; on the eighth day, however, after the sixth hour, these beasts resume all their former ferocity.


Many thanks, too, do we owe to the sheep, both for appeasing the gods, and for giving us the use of its fleece. As oxen cultivate the fields which yield food for man, so to sheep are we indebted for the defence of our bodies. The generative power lasts in both sexes from the second to the ninth year, sometimes to the tenth.1972 The lambs produced at the first birth are but small. The season for coupling, in all of them, is from the setting of Arcturus, that is to say, the third day before the ides of May,1973 to the setting of Aquila, the tenth day before the calends of August.1974 The period of gestation is one hundred and fifty days. The lambs that are produced after this time are feeble; the ancients called those that were born after it, cordi.1975 Many persons prefer the lambs that are born in the winter to those of the spring, because it is of much more consequence that they should have gained strength before the summer solstice than before the winter one; consequently, the sheep is the only animal that is benefitted by being born in the middle of winter. It is the nature of332 the ram to reject the young and prefer the old ones, and he himself is more serviceable when old,1976 and when deprived of his horns.1977 He is also rendered less violent by having one horn pierced towards the ear. If the right testicle is tied up, the ram will generate females, and if the left, males.1978 The noise of thunder produces abortion in sheep, if they are left alone; to prevent such accidents, they are brought together into flocks, that they may be rendered less timid by being in company. When the north-east wind blows, males are said to be conceived; and when the south wind, females. In this kind of animal, the mouth of the ram is especially looked to, for whatever may be the colour of the veins under the tongue, the wool of the young one will be of a similar colour.1979 If these veins are many in number, it will be mottled. Any change, too, in their water or drink, will render them mottled.1980

There are two principal kinds of sheep, the covered1981 and the colonic,1982 or common sheep; the former is the more tender animal, but the latter is more nice about its pastures, for the333 covered sheep will feed on brambles even. The best coverings for sheep are brought from Arabia.1983


The most esteemed wool of all is that of Apulia, and that which in Italy is called Grecian wool, in other countries Italian. The fleeces of Miletus hold the third rank.1985 The Apulian wool is shorter in the hair, and only owes its high character to the cloaks1986 that are made of it. That which comes from the vicinity of Tarentum and Canusium is the most celebrated; and there is a wool from Laodicea, in Asia, of a similar quality.1987 There is no white wool superior to that of the countries bordering on the Padus,1988 nor up to the present day has any wool exceeded the price of one hundred sesterces per pound.1989 The sheep are not shorn in all countries; in some places it is still the custom to pull off the wool.1990 There are various colours of wool; so much so, indeed, that we want terms to express them all. Several kinds, which are called334 native,1991 are found in Spain; Pollentia, in the vicinity of the Alps,1992 produces black fleeces of the best quality; Asia, as well as Bætica,1993 the red fleeces, which are called Erythræan; those of Canusium are of a tawny colour;1994 and those of Tarentum have their peculiar dark tint.1995 All kinds of wool, when not freed from the grease,1996 possess certain medicinal properties. The wool of Istria is much more like hair than wool, and is not suitable for the fabrication of stuffs that have a long nap;1997 so too is that which Salacia,1998 in Lusitania, finds the most useful for making its chequered cloths. There is a similar wool, too, found about Piscenæ,1999 in the province of Narbonensis, as also in Egypt; a garment, when it has been worn for some time, is often embroidered with this wool, and will last for a considerable time.

The thick, flocky wool has been esteemed for the manufacture of carpets from the very earliest times; it is quite clear, from what we read in Homer, that they were in use in his time.2000 The Gauls embroider them in a different manner from that which is practised by the Parthians.2001 Wool is335 compressed also for making a felt,2002 which, if soaked in vinegar,2003 is capable of resisting iron even; and, what is still more, after having gone through the last process,2004 wool will even resist fire; the refuse, too, when taken out of the vat of the scourer, is used for making mattresses,2005 an invention, I fancy, of the Gauls. At all events, it is by Gallic names that we distinguish the different sort of mattresses2006 at the present day; but I am not well able to say at what period wool began to be employed for this purpose. Our ancestors made use of straw2007 for the purpose of sleeping upon, just as they do at present when in camp. The gausapa2008 has been brought into use in my father’s memory, and I myself recollect the amphimalla2009 and the long shaggy apron2010 being introduced; but at the present day, the laticlave tunic2011 is beginning to be manufactured, in imitation of the gausapa.2012 Black wool will take no colour.336 I shall describe the mode of dyeing the other kinds of wool when speaking of the sea-purple,2013 or of the nature of various plants.2014


Varro informs us, he himself having been an eye-witness, that in the temple of Sancus,2015 the wool was still preserved on the distaff and spindle of Tanaquil,2016 who was also called Caia Cæcilia; and he says that the royal waved2017 toga, formerly worn by Servius Tullius, and now in the temple of Fortune, was made by her. Hence was derived the custom, on the marriage of a young woman, of carrying in the procession a dressed distaff and a spindle, with the thread arranged upon it. Tanaquil was the first who wove the straight tunic,2018 such as our young people wear with the white toga;2019 newly-married women also. Waved garments were at first the most esteemed of all: after which those composed of various colours2020 came into vogue. Fenestella informs us, that togas with a smooth surface, as well337 as the Phryxian togas,2021 began to be used in the latter part of the reign of Augustus. Thick stuffs, in the preparation of which the poppy2022 was used, are of more ancient date, being mentioned by the poet Lucilius, in his lines on Torquatus. The prætexta2023 had its origin among the Etrurians. I find that the trabea2024 was first worn by the kings; embroidered garments are mentioned by Homer,2025 and in this class originated the triumphal robes.2026 The Phrygians first used the needle for this purpose,2027 and hence this kind of garment obtained the name of Phrygionian. King Attalus, who also lived in Asia, invented the art of embroidering with gold, from which these garments have been called Attalic.2028 Babylon was very famous for making embroidery in different colours, and hence stuffs of this kind have obtained the name of Babylonian.2029 The method of weaving cloth with more than two threads was invented338 at Alexandria; these cloths are called polymita;2030 it was in Gaul that they were first divided into chequers.2031 Metellus Scipio, in the accusation which he brought against Cato,2032 stated that even in his time Babylonian covers for couches were selling for eight hundred thousand sesterces, and these of late, in the time of the Emperor Nero, had risen to four millions.2033 The prætextæ of Servius Tullius, with which the statue of Fortune, dedicated by him, was covered,2034 lasted until the death of Sejanus; and it is a remarkable fact, that, during a period of five hundred and sixty years, they had never become tattered,2035 or received injury from moths. I myself have seen the fleece upon the living animal dyed purple, scarlet, and violet,—a pound and a half2036 of dye being used for each,—just as though they had been produced by Nature in this form, to meet the demands of luxury.


In the sheep, it is considered a proof of its being of a very339 fair breed, when the legs are short, and the belly is covered with wool; when this part is bare, they used to be called apicæ, and were looked upon as worthless.2037 The tail of the Syrian sheep is a cubit in length,2038 and it is upon that part that most of the wool is found. It is considered too early to castrate lambs before they are five months old.

(49.) There is in Spain, and more especially in Corsica, a peculiar kind of animal called the musmon,2039 not very unlike a sheep, but with a fleece which more resembles the hair of the goat than the wool of the sheep. The ancients gave the name of umbri2040 to the breed between this animal and the sheep. The head of the sheep is the weakest part of all, on which account it is obliged, when it feeds, to turn away from the sun.2041 The animals which are covered with wool are the most stupid of all.2042 When they are afraid to enter any place, if one is only dragged into it by the horns, all the rest will follow. The longest duration of their life is ten years; but in Æthiopia it is thirteen. Goats live in that country eleven years, but in other parts of the world mostly eight years only. Both of these animals require to be covered not more than four times to ensure conception.


The goat occasionally brings forth as many as four at a birth; but this is rarely the case.2043 It is pregnant five months,340 like the sheep. Goats become barren when very fat. There is little advantage to be derived from their bringing forth before their third year, or after the fourth, when they begin to grow old.2044 They are capable of generating in the seventh month, and while they are still sucking. In both sexes those that have no horns are considered the most valuable.2045 A single coupling in the day is not sufficient; the second and the following ones are more effectual. They conceive in the month of November, so as to bring forth in the month of March, when the buds are bursting; this is sometimes the case with them when only one year old, and always with those of the second year; but the produce of those which are three years old is the most valuable.2046 They continue to bring forth for a period of eight years. Cold produces abortion. When their eyes are surcharged, the female discharges the blood from the eye by pricking it with the point of a bulrush, and the male with the thorn of a bramble.

Mutianus relates an instance of the intelligence of this animal, of which he himself was an eye-witness. Two goats, coming from opposite directions, met on a very narrow bridge, which would not admit of either of them turning round, and in consequence of its great length, they could not safely go backwards, there being no sure footing on account of its narrowness, while at the same time an impetuous torrent was rapidly rushing beneath; accordingly, one of the animals lay down flat, while the other walked over it.

Among the males, those are the most esteemed which have flat noses and long hanging ears,2047 the shoulders being covered341 with very thick shaggy hair; the mark of the most valuable among the females is the having two folds2048 hanging down the body from under the neck. Some of these animals have no horns; but where there are horns, the age of the animal is denoted by the number of knots on them. Those that have no horns give the most milk.2049 According to Archelaus,2050 they breathe, not through the nose, but the ears,2051 and they are never entirely free from fever,2052 from which circumstance it is, probably, that they are more animated than sheep, more ardent, and have stronger sexual passions. It is said also, that they have the power of seeing by night as well as in the day, for which reason those persons who are called Nyctalopes,2053 recover the power of seeing in the evening, by eating the liver of the he-goat. In Cilicia, and in the vicinity of the Syrtes, the inhabitants shear the goat for the purpose of clothing themselves.2054 It is said that the she-goats in the pastures will never look at each other at sun-set, but lie with their backs towards one another,2055 while at other times of the day they lie facing each other and in family groups. They all have long hair hanging down from the chin, which is called by us aruncus.2056 If any one of the flock is taken hold of and dragged by this hair, all the rest gaze on in stupid astonishment; and the same342 happens when any one of them has eaten of a certain herb.2057 Their bite is very destructive to trees, and they make the olive barren by licking it;2058 for which reason they are not sacrificed to Minerva.2059

CHAP. 77. (51.)—THE HOG.2060

The period for coupling the hog lasts from the return of the west wind to the vernal equinox; the proper age commences in the eighth month, indeed, in some places, in the fourth even, and continues until the eighth year.2061 They bring forth twice in the year, the time of gestation being four months; the number at a birth amounts to twenty even, but they cannot rear so large a number.2062 Nigidius informs us, that those which are produced within ten days of the winter solstice are born with teeth. One coupling is sufficient, but it is repeated, on account of their extreme liability to abortion; the remedy for which is not to allow coupling the first time the female is in heat, nor until its ears are flaccid and pendant. The males do not generate after they are three years old. When the females become feeble from old age, they receive the males lying down.2063 It is not looked upon as anything portentous when they eat their young. The young of the hog is considered in a state of purity for sacrifice when five days old,2064 the lamb on the seventh day, and the calf on the thirtieth. Coruncanius asserts, that ruminant animals are not proper for343 victims until they have two teeth.2065 It has been supposed, that when a pig has lost one eye, it will not live long;2066 otherwise, these animals generally live up to fifteen, or sometimes twenty years. They sometimes become mad; besides which, they are liable to other diseases, especially to quinsy2067 and to scrofula.2068 It is an indication that the hog is diseased, when blood is found at the root of a bristle pulled from its back, and when it holds its head on one side while walking. When the female becomes too fat, she has a deficiency of milk; the first litter is always the least numerous. Animals of this kind delight in rolling in the mud.2069 The tail is curled, and it has also been remarked, that those are a more acceptable offering to the gods, whose tail is turned to the right than those which have it turned to the left. They may be fattened in sixty days, and more especially if they have been kept without food for three days before fattening. The swine is by far the most brutish of all the animals, and it has been said, and not unaptly, that life has been given them in place of salt.2070 And yet it has been known, that these animals, when carried away by thieves, have recognized the voice of their keeper; and when a vessel has been under water through the inclination of one of its sides, they have had the sense to go over to the other side. The leader of the herd will even learn to go to market, and to344 different houses in the city. In the wild state also, they have the sense to pass their urine in plashy places, that they may destroy all traces of them, and so lighten themselves for flight.2071 The female is spayed, just as is done with the camel; after they have fasted two days, they are suspended by the hind feet, and the orifice of the womb is cut; after this operation, they fatten more quickly.2072

M. Apicius2073 made the discovery, that we may employ the same artificial method of increasing the size of the liver of the sow, as of that of the goose;2074 it consists in cramming them with dried figs, and when they are fat enough, they are drenched with wine mixed with honey, and immediately killed. There is no animal that affords a greater variety to the palate of the epicure; all the others have their own peculiar flavour, but the flesh of the hog has nearly fifty different flavours. Hence it is, that there are whole pages of regulations made by the censors, forbidding the serving up at banquets of the belly, the kernels,2075 the testicles, the womb, and the cheeks. However, notwithstanding all this, the poet Publius,2076 the author of the Mimes, when he ceased to be a slave, is said to have given no entertainment without serving up the belly of a sow, to which he also gave the name of “sumen.”


The flesh of the wild boar is also much esteemed. Cato,345 the Censor, in his orations, strongly declaimed against the use of the brawn of the wild boar.2077 The animal used to be divided into three portions, the middle part of which was laid by,2078 and is called boar’s chine. P. Servilius Rullus was the first Roman who served up a whole boar at a banquet; the father of that Rullus, who, in the consulship of Cicero, proposed the Agrarian law. So recent is the introduction of a thing which is now in daily use. The Annalists have taken notice of such a fact as this, clearly as a hint to us to mend our manners; seeing that now-a-days two or three boars are consumed, not at one entertainment, but as forming the first course only.

(52.) Fulvius Lupinus was the first Roman who formed parks2079 for the reception of these and other wild animals: he first fed them in the territory of Tarquinii: it was not long, however, that imitators were found in L. Lucullus and Q. Hortensius.2080 The wild sow brings forth once only in the year. The males are very fierce during the rutting time; they fight with each other, having first hardened their sides by rubbing them against the trees, and covered themselves with mud. The females, as is the case with animals of every kind, become more fierce just after they have brought forth. The wild boar is not capable of generating before the first year. The wild boar of India2081 has two curved teeth, projecting from beneath the muzzle, a cubit in length; and the same number projecting from the forehead, like the horns of the young bull. The hair of these animals, in a wild state, is the346 colour of copper, the others are black. No species whatever of the swine is found in Arabia.


In no species is the union with the wild animal so easy as in that of the swine; the produce of such unions was called by the ancients hybrid,2082 or half savage; which appellation has also been transferred to the human race, as it was to C. Antonius, the colleague of Cicero in his consulship. Not only, however, with respect to the hog, but all other animals as well, wherever there is a tame species, there is a corresponding wild one as well; a fact which is equally true with reference to man himself, as is proved by the many races of wild men of which we have already spoken.2083 There is no kind of animal, however, that is divided into a greater number of varieties than the goat. There are the capræa,2084 the rupicapra or rock-goat, and the ibex, an animal of wonderful swiftness, although its head is loaded with immense horns, which bear a strong resemblance to the sheath of a sword.2085 By means of these horns the animal balances itself, when it darts along the rocks, as though it had been hurled from a sling;2086 more especially when it wishes to leap from one eminence to another. There are the oryges also,2087 which are said to be the347 only animals that have the hair the contrary way, the points being turned towards the head. There are the dama also,2088 the pygargus,2089 and the strepsiceros,2090 besides many others which strongly resemble them. The first mentioned of these animals,2091 however, dwell in the Alps; all the others are sent to us from the parts beyond sea.

CHAP. 80. (54.)—APES.

The different kinds of apes, which approach the nearest to the human figure, are distinguished from each other by the tail.2092 Their shrewdness is quite wonderful. It is said that, imitating the hunters, they will besmear themselves with bird-lime, and put their feet into the shoes, which, as so many snares, have been prepared for them.2093 Mucianus says, that they have even played at chess, having, by practice, learned to distinguish the different pieces, which are made of wax.2094348 He says that the species which have tails become quite melancholy when the moon is on the wane, and that they leap for joy at the time of the new moon, and adore it. Other quadrupeds also are terrified at the eclipses of the heavenly bodies. All the species of apes manifest remarkable affection for their offspring. Females, which have been domesticated, and have had young ones, carry them about and shew them to all comers, shew great delight when they are caressed, and appear to understand the kindness thus shewn them. Hence it is, that they very often stifle their young with their embraces. The dog’s-headed ape2095 is of a much fiercer nature, as is the case with the satyr. The callitriche2096 has almost a totally different aspect; it has a beard on the face, and a tail, which in the first part of it is very bushy. It is said that this animal cannot live except in the climate of Æthiopia, which is its native place.


There are also numerous species of hares. Those in the Alps are white,2097 and it is believed that, during the winter, they live upon snow for food; at all events, every year, as the snow melts, they acquire a reddish colour; it is, moreover, an animal which is capable of existing in the most severe climates. There is also a species of hare, in Spain, which is called the349 rabbit;2098 it is extremely prolific, and produces famine in the Balearic islands, by destroying the harvests. The young ones, either when cut from out of the body of the mother, or taken from the breast, without having the entrails removed, are considered a most delicate food; they are then called laurices.2099 It is a well-known fact, that the inhabitants of the Balearic islands begged of the late Emperor Augustus the aid of a number of soldiers, to prevent the too rapid increase of these animals. The ferret2100 is greatly esteemed for its skill in catching them. It is thrown into the burrows, with their numerous outlets, which the rabbits form, and from which circumstance they derive their name,2101 and as it drives them out, they are taken above. Archelaus informs us, that in the hare, the number of cavernous receptacles in the body for the excrements always equals that of its years;2102 but still the numbers are sometimes found to differ. He says also, that the same individual possesses the characteristics of the two sexes, and that it becomes pregnant just as well without the aid of the male. It is a kind provision of Nature, in making animals which are both harmless and good for food, thus prolific. The hare, which is preyed upon by all other animals, is the only one, except the dasypus,2103 which is capable of superfœtation;2104 while the mother is suckling one of her young, she has another in the womb covered with hair, another without any covering at all, and another which is just beginning to be formed. Attempts350 have been made to form a kind of stuff of the hair of these animals; but it is not so soft as when attached to the skin, and, in consequence of the shortness of the hairs, soon falls to pieces.


Hares are seldom tamed, and yet they cannot properly be called wild animals; indeed, there are many species of them which are neither tame nor wild, but of a sort of intermediate nature; of the same kind there are among the winged animals, swallows and bees, and among the sea animals, the dolphin.

(57.) Many persons have placed that inhabitant of our houses, the mouse, in this class also; an animal which is not to be despised, for the portents which it has afforded, even in relation to public events. By gnawing the silver shields at Lanuvium,2105 mice prognosticated the Marsian war; and the death of our general, Carbo, at Clusium,2106 by gnawing the latchets with which he fastened his shoes.2107 There are many species of this animal in the territory of Cyrenaica; some of them with a wide, others with a projecting, forehead, and some again with bristling hair, like the hedgehog.2108 We are informed by Theophrastus, that after the mice had driven the inhabitants of Gyara2109 from their island, they even gnawed the iron; which they also do, by a kind of natural instinct, in the iron forges among the Chalybes. In gold mines, too, their351 stomachs are opened for this purpose, and some of the metal is always to be found there, which they have pilfered,2110 so great a delight do they take in stealing! We learn from our Annals, also, that at the siege of Casilinum,2111 by Hannibal, a mouse was sold for two hundred denarii,2112 and that the person who sold it perished with hunger, while the purchaser survived. To be visited by white mice is considered as indicative of a fortunate event; but our Annals are full of instances in which the singing2113 of a mouse has interrupted the auspices.2114 Nigidius informs us, that the field-mouse conceals itself during winter: this is also said to be the case with the dormouse, which the regulations of the censors, and of M. Scaurus, the chief of the senate, when he was consul,2115 have banished from our tables,2116 no less than shell-fish and birds, which are brought from a foreign country. The dormouse is also a half-wild animal, and the same person2117 made warrens for them in large casks, who first formed parks for wild boars. In relation to this subject, it has been remarked that dormice will not mate, unless they happen to be natives of the same forest; and that if those are put together that are brought from different rivers or mountains, they will fight and destroy each other. These animals nourish their parents, when worn out with old age, with a singular degree of affection. This old age of theirs is put an352 end to by their winter’s rest, when they conceal themselves and sleep; they are young again by the summer. The field-mouse2118 also enjoys a similar repose.


It is a remarkable fact, that nature has not only assigned different countries to different animals, but that even in the same country, it has denied certain species to peculiar localities.2119 In Italy the dormouse is found in one part only, the Messian forest.2120 In Lycia the gazelle never passes beyond the mountains which border upon Syria;2121 nor does the wild ass in that vicinity pass over those which divide Cappadocia from Cilicia. On the banks of the Hellespont, the stags never pass into a strange territory, and about Arginussa2122 they never go beyond Mount Elaphus; those upon that mountain, too, have cloven ears. In the island of Poroselene,2123 the weasels will not so much as cross a certain road. In Bœotia, the moles, which were introduced at Lebadea, fly from the very soil of that country, while in the neighbourhood, at Orchomenus, the very same animals tear up all the fields. We have seen coverlets for beds made of the skins of these creatures, so that our sense of religion does not prevent us from employing these ominous animals for the purposes of luxury. When hares have been brought to Ithaca, they die as soon as ever they touch the shore, and the same is the case with rabbits, on the shores of the island of Ebusus;2124 while they abound in the vicinity,353 Spain namely, and the Balearic isles. In Cyrene, the frogs were formerly dumb, and this species still exists, although croaking ones were carried over there from the continent. At the present day, even, the frogs in the island of Seriphos are dumb; but when they are carried to other places, they croak; the same thing is also said to have taken place at Sicandrus, a lake of Thessaly.2125 In Italy, the bite of the shrew-mouse2126 is venomous; an animal which is not to be found in any region beyond the Apennines. In whatever country it exists, it always dies immediately if it goes across the rut made by a wheel. Upon Olympus, a mountain of Macedonia, there are no wolves, nor yet in the isle of Crete.2127 In this island there are neither foxes, nor bears, nor, indeed, any kind of baneful animal,2128 with the exception of the phalangium, a species of spider, of which I shall speak in its appropriate place.2129 It is a thing still more remarkable, that in this island there are no stags, except in the district of Cydon;2130 the same is the case with the wild boar, the woodcock,2131 and the hedgehog. In Africa, there are neither wild boars, stags, deer, nor bears.


Besides this, there are certain animals, which are harmless to the natives of the country, but destroy strangers; such are354 the little serpents at Tirynthus,2132 which are said to spring from out of the earth. In Syria, also, and especially on the banks of the Euphrates, the serpents never attack the Syrians when they are asleep, and even if they happen to bite a native who treads upon them, their venom is not felt; but to persons of any other country they are extremely hostile, and fiercely attack them, causing a death attended with great torture. On this account, the Syrians never kill them. On the contrary, on Latmos, a mountain2133 of Caria, as Aristotle tells us, strangers are not injured by the scorpions, while the natives are killed by them. But I must now give an account of other animals as well, and of the productions of the earth.2134

Summary.—Remarkable events, narratives, and observations, seven hundred and eighty-seven.

Roman authors quoted.—Mucianus,2135 Procilius,2136 Verrius Flaccus,2137 L. Piso,2138 Cornelius Valerianus,2139 Cato the Censor,2140 Fenestella,2141 Trogus,2142 the Register of the Triumphs,2143 Columella,2144355 Virgil,2145 Varro,2146 Lucilius,2147 Metellus Scipio,2148 Cornelius Celsus,2149 Nigidius,2150 Trebius Niger,2151 Pomponius Mela,2152 Mamilius Sura.2153

Foreign authors quoted.—King Juba,2154 Polybius,2155 Herodotus,2156 Antipater,2157 Aristotle,2158 Demetrius2159 the physician, Democritus,2160 Theophrastus,2161 Euanthes,2162 Agriopas,2163 who wrote356 the “Olympionicæ,” King Hiero,2164 King Attalus,2165 Philometor, Ctesias,2166 Duris,2167 Philistus,2168 Archytas,2169 Phylarchus,2170 Amphilochus2171 of Athens, Anaxapolis2172 the Thasian, Apollodorus2173 of Lemnos, Aristophanes2174 the Milesian, Antigonus2175 the Cumæan, Agathocles2176 of Chios, Apollonius2177 of Pergamus, Aristander2178357 of Athens, Bacchius2179 of Miletus, Bion2180 of Soli, Chæreas2181 the Athenian, Diodorus2182 of Priene, Dion2183 the Colophonian, Epigenes2184 the Rhodian, Euagon2185 of Thasos, Euphronius2186 of Athens, Hegesias2187 of Maronea, the Menanders2188 of Priene and of Heraclea, Menecrates2189 the poet, Androtion2190 who wrote on Agriculture, Æschrion2191 who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus2192 who wrote on Agriculture, Dionysius2193 who translated Mago, Diophanes2194 who made an epitome of the work of Dionysius, King Archelaus,2195 Nicander.2196





We have now given an account of the animals which we call terrestrial, and which live as it were in a sort of society with man. Among the remaining ones, it is well known that the birds are the smallest; we shall therefore first describe those which inhabit the seas, rivers, and standing waters.

(2.) Among these there are many to be found that exceed in size any of the terrestrial animals even; the evident cause of which is the superabundance of moisture with which they are supplied. Very different is the lot of the winged animals, whose life is passed soaring aloft in the air. But in the seas, spread out as they are far and wide, forming an element at once so delicate and so vivifying, and receiving the generating principles2197 from the regions of the air, as they are ever produced by Nature, many animals are to be found, and indeed, most of those that are of monstrous form; from the fact, no doubt, that these seeds and first principles of being are so utterly conglomerated and so involved, the one with the other, from being whirled to and fro, now by the action of the winds and now by the waves. Hence it is that the vulgar notion may very possibly be true, that whatever is produced in any other department of Nature, is to be found in the sea as well; while, at the same time, many other productions are there to be found which nowhere else exist. That there are to be found in the sea the forms, not only of terrestrial animals, but of inanimate objects even, is easily to be understood by all who will take the359 trouble to examine the grape-fish,2198 the sword-fish,2199 the saw-fish,2200 and the cucumber-fish,2201 which last so strongly resembles the real cucumber both in colour and in smell. We shall find the less reason then to be surprised to find that in so small an object as a shell-fish2202 the head of the horse is to be seen protruding from the shell.


But the most numerous and largest of all these animals are those found in the Indian seas; among which there are balænae,2203 four jugera2204 in extent, and the pristis,2205 two hundred cubits360 long: here also are found cray-fish2206 four cubits in length, and in the river Ganges there are to be seen eels three hundred2207 feet long. But at sea it is more especially about the time of the solstices that these monsters are to be seen. For then it is that in these regions the whirlwind comes sweeping on, the rains descend, the hurricane comes rushing down, hurled from the mountain heights, while the sea is stirred up from the very bottom, and the monsters are driven from their depths and rolled upwards on the crest of the billow. At other times again, there are such vast multitudes of tunnies met with, that the fleet of Alexander the Great was able to make head against them only by facing them in order of battle, just as it would have done an enemy’s fleet. Had the ships not done this, but proceeded in a straggling manner, they could not possibly have made their escape. No noises, no sounds, no blows had any effect on these fish; by nothing short of the clash of battle were they to be terrified, and by nothing less than their utter destruction were they overpowered.

There is a large peninsula in the Red Sea, known by the name of Cadara:2208 as it projects into the deep it forms a vast gulf, which it took the fleet of King Ptolemy2209 twelve whole days and nights to traverse by dint of rowing, for not a breath of wind was to be perceived. In the recesses of this becalmed spot more particularly, the sea-monsters attain so vast a size that they are quite unable to move. The commanders of the fleets of Alexander the Great have related that the Gedrosi,2210 who dwell upon the banks of the river Arabis,2211361 are in the habit of making the doors of their houses with the jaw-bones2212 of fishes, and raftering the roofs with their bones, many of which were found as much as forty cubits in length. At this place, too, the sea-monsters, just like so many cattle,2213 were in the habit of coming on shore, and, after feeding on the roots of shrubs, they would return; some of them, which had the heads of horses,2214 asses, and bulls, found a pasture in the crops of grain.


The largest animals found in the Indian Sea are the pistrix and the balæna; while of the Gallic Ocean the physeter2215 is362 the most bulky inhabitant, raising itself aloft like some vast column, and as it towers above the sails of ships, belching forth, as it were, a deluge of water. In the ocean of Gades there is a tree,2216 with outspread branches so vast, that it is supposed that it is for that reason it has never yet entered the Straits. There are fish also found there which are called sea-wheels,2217 in consequence of their singular conformation; they are divided by four spokes, the nave being guarded on every side by a couple of eyes.


A deputation of persons from Olisipo,2218 that had been sent for the purpose, brought word to the Emperor Tiberius that a triton had been both seen and heard in a certain cavern, blowing a conch-shell,2219 and of the form under which they are usually363 represented. Nor yet is the figure generally attributed to the nereids2220 at all a fiction; only in them, the portion of the body that resembles the human figure is still rough all over with scales. For one of these creatures was seen upon the same shores, and as it died, its plaintive murmurs were heard even by the inhabitants at a distance. The legatus of Gaul,2221 too, wrote word to the late Emperor Augustus that a considerable number of nereids had been found dead upon the sea-shore. I have, too, some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who state that they themselves once saw in the ocean of Gades a sea-man,2222 which bore in every part of his body a perfect resemblance to a human being, and that during the night he would climb up into ships; upon which the side of the vessel where he seated himself would instantly sink downward, and if he remained there any considerable time, even go under water.

In the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, a subsidence of the ocean left exposed on the shores of an island which faces the province of Lugdunum2223 as many as three hundred animals or more, all at once, quite marvellous for their varied shapes and enormous size, and no less a number upon the shores of the364 Santones;2224 among the rest there were elephants2225 and rams, which last, however, had only a white spot to represent horns. Turranius has also left accounts of several nereids, and he speaks of a monster2226 that was thrown up on the shore at Gades, the distance between the two fins at the end of the tail of which was sixteen cubits, and its teeth one hundred and twenty in number; the largest being nine, and the smallest six inches in length.

M. Scaurus, in his ædileship, exhibited at Rome, among other wonderful things, the bones of the monster to which Andromeda was said to have been exposed, and which he had brought from Joppa, a city of Judæa. These bones exceeded forty feet in length, and the ribs were higher than those of the Indian elephant, while the back-bone was a foot and a half2227 in thickness.



The balæna2228 penetrates to our seas even. It is said that they are not to be seen in the ocean of Gades before the winter solstice, and that at periodical seasons they retire and conceal themselves in some calm capacious bay, in which they take a delight in bringing forth. This fact, however, is known to the orca,2229 an animal which is peculiarly hostile to the balæna, and the form of which cannot be in any way adequately described, but as an enormous mass of flesh armed with teeth. This animal attacks the balæna in its places of retirement, and with its teeth tears its young, or else attacks the females which have just brought forth, and, indeed, while they are still pregnant; and as they rush upon them, it pierces them just as though they had been attacked by the beak of a Liburnian2230 galley. The female balænæ, devoid of all flexibility, without energy to defend themselves, and over-burdened by their own weight, weakened, too, by gestation, or else the pains of recent parturition, are well aware that their only resource is to take to flight366 in the open sea and to range over the whole face of the ocean; while the orcæ, on the other hand, do all in their power to meet them in their flight, throw themselves in their way, and kill them either cooped up in a narrow passage, or else drive them on a shoal, or dash them to pieces against the rocks. When these battles are witnessed, it appears just as though the sea were infuriate against itself; not a breath of wind is there to be felt in the bay, and yet the waves by their pantings and their repeated blows are heaved aloft in a way which no whirlwind could effect.

An orca has been seen even in the port of Ostia, where it was attacked by the Emperor Claudius. It was while he was constructing the harbour2231 there that this orca came, attracted by some hides which, having been brought from Gaul, had happened to fall overboard2232 there. By feeding upon these for several days it had quite glutted itself, having made for itself a channel in the shoaly water. Here, however, the sand was thrown up by the action of the wind to such an extent, that the creature found it quite impossible to turn round; and while in the act of pursuing its prey, it was propelled by the waves towards the shore, so that its back came to be perceived above the level of the water, very much resembling in appearance the keel of a vessel turned bottom upwards. Upon this, Cæsar ordered a great number of nets to be extended at the mouth of the harbour, from shore to shore, while he himself went there with the prætorian cohorts, and so afforded a spectacle to the Roman people; for boats assailed the monster, while the soldiers on board showered lances upon it. I myself saw one of the boats2233 sunk by the water which the animal, as it respired, showered down upon it.



Balænæ have the mouth2234 in the forehead; and hence it is that, as they swim on the surface of the water, they discharge vast showers of water in the air. (7.) It is universally agreed, however, that they respire, as do a very few other animals2235 in the sea, which have lungs among the internal viscera; for without lungs it is generally supposed that no animal can breathe. Those, too, who are of this opinion are of opinion also that no fishes that have gills are so constituted as to inhale and exhale alternately, nor, in fact, many other kinds of animals even, which are entirely destitute of gills. This, I find, was the opinion of Aristotle,2236 who, by his learned researches2237 on the subject, has induced many others to be of the same way of thinking. I shall not, however, conceal the fact, that I for one do not by any means at once subscribe to this opinion, for it is very possible, if such be the will of Nature, that there may be other organs2238 fitted for the purposes of respiration, and acting in the place of lungs; just as in many animals a different liquid altogether takes the place of blood.2239 And who, in fact, can find any ground for surprise that the breath of life can penetrate the waters of the deep, when he368 sees that it is even exhaled2240 from them? and when we find, too, that it can even enter the very depths of the earth, an element of so much greater density, a thing that is proved by the case of animals which always live under ground, the mole for instance? There are other weighty reasons as well, which induce me to be of opinion that all aquatic animals respire, conformably to their natural organization; for, in the first place, there has been often remarked in fishes a certain degree of anhelation during the heat of summer, and at other times again, a kind of leisurely gaping,2241 as it were. And then, besides, we have the admission of those who are of the contrary opinion, that fishes do sleep; but what possibility is there of sleeping2242 without respiring as well? And again, we see their breath disengaged in bubbles which rise to the water’s surface, and the influence too of the moon makes even the very shells2243 grow in bulk.

But the most convincing reason of all is, the undoubted fact that fishes have the power of hearing2244 and of smelling, two senses for the operation of both of which the air is a necessary vehicle; for by smell we understand nothing else than the air being charged with certain particles.2245 However, let every person form his own opinion on these subjects, just in such way as he may think best.

Neither the balæna nor the dolphin has any gills.2246 Both369 of these animals respire2247 through vent-holes, which communicate with the lungs; in the balæna they are on the forehead,2248 and in the dolphin on the back. Sea-calves, too, which we call “phocæ,”2249 breathe and sleep upon dry land—sea-tortoises also,2250 of which we shall have more to say hereafter.


The swiftest2251 not only of the sea animals, but of all animals whatever, is the dolphin.2252 He is more rapid in his movements370 than a bird, more instantaneous than the flight of an arrow, and were it not for the fact that his month is situate much below his muzzle,2253 almost, indeed, in the middle of the belly, not a fish would be able to escape his pursuit. But Nature,2254 in her prudence, has thrown certain impediments in his way; for unless he turns, and throws himself on his back, he can seize nothing, and it is this circumstance more especially that gives proof of his extraordinary swiftness. For, if pressed by hunger,2255 he will follow a fish, as it flies down, to the very bottom of the water, and then after holding his breath thus long, will dart again to the surface to respire, with the speed of an arrow discharged from a bow; and often, on such occasions, he is known to leap out of the water with such a bound, as to fly right over the sails2256 of a ship.

Dolphins generally go in couples; the females bring forth their young in the tenth month, during the summer season, sometimes two in number.2257 They suckle their young at the teat like the balæna, and even carry them during the weakness of infancy; in addition to which, long after they are grown up, they accompany them, so great is their affection for their progeny. The young ones grow very speedily, and in ten years are supposed to arrive at their full size. The dolphin371 lives thirty years; a fact that has been ascertained from cutting marks2258 on the tail, by way of experiment. It conceals itself for thirty days, at about the rising of the Dog-star, and hides itself so effectually, that it is not known whither it goes; a thing that is more surprising still, if it is unable to respire under water. Dolphins are in the habit of darting upon the shore, for some reason or other, it is not known2259 what. They do not die the moment that they touch the dry land, but will die much more speedily if the vent-hole is closed. The tongue, contrary to the nature of aquatic animals in general, is moveable, being short and broad, not much unlike that of the pig. Instead of a voice, they emit a moaning sound2260 similar to that made by a human being; the back is arched, and the nose turned up. For this reason2261 it is that they all recognize in a most surprising manner the name of Simo, and prefer to be called by that rather than by any other.


The dolphin is an animal not only friendly to man, but a lover of music as well; he is charmed by melodious concerts,2262372 and more especially by the notes of the water-organ.2263 He does not dread man, as though a stranger to him, but comes to meet ships, leaps and bounds to and fro, vies with them in swiftness, and passes them even when in full sail.

In the reign2264 of the late Emperor Augustus, a dolphin which had been carried to the Lucrine Lake2265 conceived a most wonderful affection for the child of a certain poor man, who was in the habit of going that way from Baiæ to Puteoli2266 to school, and who used to stop there in the middle of the day, call him by his name of Simo, and would often entice him to the banks of the lake with pieces of bread which he carried for the purpose. I should really have felt ashamed to mention this, had not the incident been stated in writing in the works of Mæcenas, Fabianus, Flavius Alfius, and many others. At whatever hour of the day he might happen to be called by the boy, and although hidden and out of sight at the bottom of the water, he would instantly fly to the surface, and after feeding from his hand, would present his back for him to mount, taking care to conceal the spiny projection of his fins2267 in their sheath, as it were; and so, sportively taking him up on his back, he would carry him over a wide expanse373 of sea to the school at Puteoli, and in a similar manner bring him back again. This happened for several years, until at last the boy happened to fall ill of some malady, and died. The dolphin, however, still came to the spot as usual, with a sorrowful air and manifesting every sign of deep affliction, until at last, a thing of which no one felt the slightest doubt, he died purely of sorrow and regret.

Within these few years also,2268 another at Hippo Diarrhytus,2269 on the coast of Africa, in a similar manner used to receive his food from the hands of various persons, present himself for their caresses, sport about among the swimmers, and carry them on his back. On being rubbed with unguents by Flavianus, the then proconsul of Africa, he was lulled to sleep, as it appeared, by the sensation of an odour so new to him, and floated about just as though he had been dead. For some months after this, he carefully avoided all intercourse with man, just as though he had received some affront or other; but at the end of that time he returned, and afforded just the same wonderful scenes as before. At last, the vexations that were caused them by having to entertain so many influential men who came to see this sight, compelled the people of Hippo to put the animal to death.

Before this, there was a similar story told of a child at the city of Iasus,2270 for whom a dolphin was long observed to have conceived a most ardent affection, until at last, as the animal was eagerly following him as he was making for the shore,2271 it was carried by the tide on the sands, and there expired. Alexander the Great appointed this boy2272 high priest of Neptune at Babylon, interpreting this extraordinary attachment as a convincing proof of the favour of that divinity.

Hegesidemus has also informed us, that in the same city2273 of374 Iasus there was another boy also, Hermias by name, who in a similar manner used to traverse the sea on a dolphin’s back, but that on one occasion a tempest suddenly arising, he lost his life, and was brought back dead; upon which, the dolphin, who thus admitted that he had been the cause of his death, would not return to the sea, but lay down upon the dry land, and there expired.

Theophrastus2274 informs us, that the very same thing happened at Naupactus also; nor, in fact, is there any limit to similar instances. The Amphilochians2275 and the Tarentines2276 have similar stories also about children and dolphins; and all these give an air of credibility to the one that is told of Arion,2277 the famous performer on the lyre. The mariners being on the point of throwing him into the sea, for the purpose of taking possession of the money he had earned, he prevailed upon them to allow him one more song, accompanied with the music of his lyre. The melody attracted numbers of dolphins around the ship, and, upon throwing himself into the sea, he was taken up by one of them, and borne in safety to the shore of the Promontory of Tænarum.2278


There is in the province of Gallia Narbonensis and in the territory of Nemausus2279 a lake known by the name of Latera,2280 where dolphins fish in company with men. At the375 narrow outlet2281 of this lake, at stated seasons of the year innumerable multitudes of mullets make their way into the sea, taking advantage of the turn of the tide; hence it is that it is quite impossible to employ nets sufficiently strong to bear so vast a weight, even though the fish had not the instinctive shrewdness to watch their opportunity. By a similar instinct the fish immediately make with all speed towards the deep water which is found in a gulf in that vicinity, and hasten to escape from the only spot that is at all convenient for spreading the nets. As soon as ever the fishermen perceive this, all the people—for great multitudes resort thither, being well aware of the proper time, and especially desirous of sharing in the amusement—shout as loud as they can, and summon Simo to the scene of action. The dolphins very quickly understand that they are in requisition, as a north-east wind speedily carries the sound to their retreats, though a south one would somewhat retard it by carrying it in an opposite direction. Even then however, sooner than you could have possibly supposed, there are the dolphins, in all readiness to assist. They are seen approaching in all haste in battle array, and, immediately taking up their position when the engagement is about to take place, they cut off all escape to the open sea, and drive the terrified fish into shallow water. The fishermen then throw their nets, holding them up at the sides with forks, though the mullets with inconceivable agility instantly leap over them;2282376 while the dolphins, on the other hand, are waiting in readiness to receive them, and content themselves for the present with killing them only, postponing all thoughts of eating till after they have secured the victory. The battle waxes hot apace, and the dolphins, pressing on with the greatest vigour, readily allow themselves to be enclosed in the nets; but in order that the fact of their being thus enclosed may not urge the enemy to find additional means of flight, they glide along so stealthily among the boats and nets, or else the swimmers, as not to leave them any opening for escape. By leaping, which at other times is their most favourite amusement, not one among them attempts to make its escape, unless, indeed, the nets are purposely lowered for it; and the instant that it has come out it continues the battle, as it were, up to the very ramparts. At last, when the capture is now completed, they devour those among the fish which they have killed;2283 but being well aware that they have given too active an assistance to be repaid with only one day’s reward, they take care to wait there till the following day, when they are filled not only with fish, but bread crumbs soaked in wine as well.


The account which Mucianus gives of a similar mode of fishing in the Iasian Gulf differs from the preceding one, in the fact that there the dolphins make their appearance of their own accord, and do not require to be called: they receive their share from the hands of the people, each boat having its own particular associate among the dolphins; and this, although the fishing is carried on at night-time by the light2284 of torches.


Dolphins, also, form among themselves2285 a sort of general community. One of them having been captured by a king of Caria and chained up in the harbour, great multitudes of dolphins assembled at the spot, and with signs of sorrow which could not be misunderstood, appealed to the sympathies of the people, until at last the king ordered it to be released. The young dolphins, also, are always attended2286 by a larger one, who acts as a guardian to them; and before now, they have been seen2287 carrying off the body of one which had died, that it might not be devoured by the sea-monsters.

CHAP. 11. (9.)—THE TURSIO.

There is a fish called the tursio,2288 which bears a strong resemblance to the dolphin; it differs from it, however, in a certain air of sadness, and is wanting in its peculiar vivacity. This animal most resembles the dog-fish,2289 however, in the shape and dangerous powers of the muzzle.


The Indian Sea2291 produces turtles of such vast2292 size, that with the shell of a single animal they are able to roof a habitable378 cottage;2293 and among the islands of the Red Sea, the navigation is mostly carried on in boats formed of these shells. They are to be caught in many ways; but they are generally taken when they have come up to the surface of the water just before midday, a season at which they experience great delight in floating on the calm surface, with the back entirely out of the water. Here the delightful sensations2294 which attend a free respiration beguile them to such a degree, and render them so utterly regardless of their safety, that their shell becomes dried up by the heat of the sun, so much so, indeed, that they are unable to descend, and, having to float against their will, become an easy prey to the fishermen. It is said also, that they leave the water at night for the purpose of feeding, and eat with such avidity as to quite glut themselves: upon which, they become weary, and the moment that, on their return in the morning, they reach the sea, they fall asleep on the surface of the water. The noise of their snoring betrays them, upon which the fishermen stealthily swim towards the animals, three to each turtle; two of them, in a moment, throw it on its back, while a third slings a noose around it, as it lies face upwards, and then some more men, who are ready on shore, draw it to land.

In the Phœnician Sea they are taken without the slightest difficulty, and, at stated periods of the year, come of their own accord to the river Eleutherus,2295 in immense numbers. The turtle has no teeth, but the edge of the mouth is sharp, the upper part shutting down over the lower just like the lid of a box. In the sea it lives upon shell-fish,2296 and such is the strength of its jaws, that it is able to break stones even; when on shore, it feeds upon herbage. The female turtle lays eggs like those of birds, one hundred in number; these she buries on the dry land, and covering them over with earth, pats it down with her breast, and then having thus rendered it smooth, sits on them during the night. The young are hatched in the course of a379 year. Some persons are of opinion that they hatch their eggs by means of the eyes, by merely looking at them, and that the female refuses to have any intercourse with the male until he has placed a wisp of straw2297 upon her back. The Troglodytæ have turtles with horns,2298 which resemble the branches of a lyre; they are large, but moveable, and assist the animal like so many oars while swimming. The name of this fine, but rarely-found turtle, is “chelyon;”2299 for the rocks, from the sharpness of their points, frighten away the Chelonophagi,2300 while the Troglodytæ, whose shores these animals frequent, worship them as sacred. There are some land turtles also, the shells of which, used for the purposes of art, are thence called by the name of “chersinæ;”2301 they are found in the deserts of Africa, in the parts where the scorched sands are more especially destitute of water, and subsist, it is believed, upon the moisture of the dews. No other animal is to be found there.


Carvilius Pollio, a man of prodigal habits and ingenious in inventing the refinements of luxury, was the first to cut the shell of the tortoise into laminæ, and to veneer beds and cabinets2302 with it.


The integuments of the aquatic animals are many in number.380 Some are covered with a hide and hair, as the sea-calf and hippopotamus, for instance; others again, with a hide only, as the dolphin; others again, with a shell,2303 as the turtle; others, with a coat as hard as a stone, like the oyster and other shell-fish; others, with a crust, such as the cray-fish; others, with a crust and spines, like the sea-urchin; others, with scales, as fishes in general; others, with a rough skin, as the squatina,2304 the skin of which is used for polishing wood and ivory; others, with a soft skin, like the muræna;2305 and others with none at all, like the polypus.2306


Those aquatic animals which are covered with hair are viviparous, such, for instance, as the pristis, the balæna,2307 and the sea-calf. This last brings forth its young on land, and, like the sheep, produces an after-birth. In coupling, they adhere after the manner of the canine species; the female sometimes produces even more than two, and rears her young at the breast. She does not take them down to the sea until the twelfth day, and after that time makes them become used to it by degrees.2308 These animals are killed with the greatest difficulty,381 unless the head is cut off at once. They make a noise which sounds like lowing, whence their name of “sea-calf.” They are susceptible, however, of training, and with their voice, as well as by gestures, can be taught to salute the public; when called by their name, they answer with a discordant kind of grunt.2309 No animal has a deeper sleep2310 than this; on dry land it creeps along as though on feet, by the aid of what it uses as fins when in the sea. Its skin, even when separated from the body, is said to retain a certain sensitive sympathy with the sea, and at the reflux2311 of the tide, the hair on it always rises upright: in addition to which, it is said that there is in the right fin a certain soporiferous influence, and that, if placed under the head, it induces sleep.

(14.) There are only two animals without hair that are viviparous, the dolphin and the viper.2312


There are seventy-four2313 species of fishes, exclusive of those382 that are covered with crusts; the kinds of which are thirty in number. We shall, on another occasion,2314 speak of each individually; but, for the present, we shall treat only of the nature of the more remarkable ones.


Tunnies are among the most remarkable for their size; we have found one weighing as much as fifteen2315 talents, the breadth of its tail being five cubits and a palm.2316 In some of the rivers, also, there are fish of no less size, such, for instance, as the silurus2317 of the Nile, the isox2318 of the Rhenus, and the383 attilus2319 of the Padus, which, naturally of an inactive nature, sometimes grows so fat as to weigh a thousand pounds, and when taken with a hook, attached to a chain, requires a yoke of oxen to draw it2320 on land. An extremely small fish, which is known as the clupea,2321 attaches itself, with a wonderful tenacity, to a certain vein in the throat of the attilus, and destroys it by its bite. The silurus carries devastation with it wherever it goes, attacks every living creature, and often drags beneath the water horses as they swim. It is also remarkable,384 that in the Mœnus,2322 a river of Germany, a fish that bears2323 a very strong resemblance to the sea-pig, requires to be drawn out of the water by a yoke of oxen; and, in the Danube, it is taken with large hooks of iron.2324 In the Boryrsthenes, also, there is said to be a fish of enormous size, the flesh of which has no bones or spines in it, and is remarkable for its sweetness.

In the Granges, a river of India, there is a fish found which they call the platanista;2325 it has the muzzle and the tail of the dolphin, and measures sixteen cubits in length. Statius Sebosus says, a thing that is marvellous in no small degree, that in the same river there are fishes2326 found, called worms; these have two gills,2327 and are sixty cubits in length; they are385 of an azure colour, and have received their name from their peculiar conformation. These fish, he says, are of such enormous strength, that with their teeth they seize hold of the trunks of elephants that come to drink, and so drag them into the water.


The male tunny has no ventral fin;2328 these fish enter the Euxine in large bodies from the main2329 sea, in the spring, and will spawn nowhere else. The young ones, which in autumn accompany the females to the open sea, are known as “cordyla.”2330 In the spring they are called “pelamides,”2331 from πηλὸς, the Greek for “mud,” and after they are a year old, “thynni.” When this fish is cut up into pieces, the neck, the belly, and the throat,2332 are the most esteemed parts; but they must be eaten only when they are quite fresh, and even then they cause severe fits of flatulence; the other parts; with the flesh entire, are preserved in salt. Those pieces, which bear a resemblance to an oaken board, have thence received the name of “melandrya.”2333 The least esteemed among these parts are those which are the nearest to the tail, because they have no fat upon them; while those parts are considered the most delicate, which lie nearest the neck;2334 in other fishes,386 however, the parts about the tail have the most nutriment2335 in them. The pelamides are cut up into small sections, known as “apolecti;”2336 and these again are divided into cubical pieces, which are thence called “cybia.”2337


All kinds of fish grow2338 with remarkable rapidity, and more especially those in the Euxine; the reason2339 of which is the vast number of rivers which discharge their fresh water into it. One fish, the growth of which is quite perceptible, day by day, is known as the amia.2340 This fish, and the pelamides, together with the tunnies,2341 enter the Euxine in shoals, for the purpose of obtaining a sweeter nutriment, each under the command of its own leader; but first of all the scomber2342 appears,387 which is of a sulphureous tint when in the water, but when out of it resembles other fish in colour. The salt-water preserves2343 of Spain are filled with these last fish, but the tunnies do not consort with them.2344


The Euxine, however, is never entered by any animal2345 that is noxious to fish, with the exception of the sea-calf and the small dolphin. On entering, the tunnies range along2346 the shores to the right, and on departing, keep to those on the left; this is supposed to arise from the fact that they have better sight with the right eye, their powers of vision with either being naturally very limited. In the channel of the Thracian Bosporus, by which the Propontis is connected with the Euxine, at the narrowest part of the Straits which separate388 Europe from Asia, there is, near Chalcedon, on the Asiatic side, a rock of remarkable whiteness, the whole of which can be seen from the bottom of the sea at the surface. Alarmed at the sudden appearance of this rock, the tunnies always hasten in great numbers, and with headlong impetuosity, towards the promontory of Byzantium, which stands exactly opposite to it, and from this circumstance has received the name of the Golden Horn.2347 Hence it is, that all the fishing is at Byzantium, to the great loss of Chalcedon,2348 although it is only separated from it by a channel a mile in width. They wait, however, for the blowing of the north wind to leave the Euxine with a favourable tide, and are never taken until they have entered the harbour of Byzantium. These fish do not move about in winter;2349 in whatever place they may happen to be surprised by it, there they pass the winter, till the time of the equinox.

Manifesting a wonderful degree of delight, they will often accompany a vessel in full sail, and may be seen from the poop following it for hours, and a distance of several miles. If a fish-spear even is thrown at them ever so many times, they are not in the slightest degree alarmed at it. Some writers call the tunnies which follow ships in this manner, by the name of “pompili.”2350

Many fishes pass the summer in the Propontis, and do not enter the Euxine; such, for instance, as the sole,2351 while on389 the other hand, the turbot2352 enters it. The sepia2353 is not found in this sea, although the loligo2354 is. Among the rock-fish, the sea-thrush2355 and the sea-blackbird are wanting, as also purples, though oysters abound here. All these, however, pass the winter in the Ægean Sea; and of those which enter the Euxine, the only ones that do not2356 return are the trichiæ.2357—It will be as well to use the Greek names which most of them bear, seeing that to the same species different countries have given different appellations.—These last, however, are the only ones that enter the river Ister,2358 and passing along its subterraneous passages, make their way from it to the Adriatic;2359 and this is390 the reason why they are to be seen descending into the Euxine Sea, but never in the act of returning from it. The time for taking tunnies is, from the rising of the Vergiliæ2360 to the setting of Arcturus:2361 throughout the rest of the winter season, they lie concealed at the bottom of deep creeks, unless they are induced to come out by the warmth of the weather or the full moon. These fish fatten2362 to such an extraordinary degree as to burst. The longest period of their life2363 is two years.


There is a little animal,2364 in appearance like a scorpion, and of the size of a spider.2365 This creature, by means of its sting, attaches itself below the fin to the tunny and the fish known as the sword-fish2366 and which often exceeds the dolphin in magnitude, and causes it such excruciating pain, that it will often leap on board of a ship even. Fish will also do the same at other times, when in dread of the violence of other fish, and mullets more especially, which are of such extraordinary swiftness, that they will sometimes leap over a ship, if lying crosswise.



Auguries are also derived from this department of Nature, and fishes afford presages of coming events. While Augustus2367 was walking on the sea-shore, during the time of the Sicilian war, a fish leapt out of the sea, and fell at his feet. The diviners, who were consulted, stated that this was a proof that those would fall beneath the feet of Cæsar who at that moment were in possession of the seas—it was just at this time that Sextus Pompeius had adopted2368 Neptune as his father, so elated was he with his successes by sea.


The females of fishes are larger2369 in size than the males, and in some kinds there are no males2370 at all, as in the erythini2371 and the channi;2372 for all of these that are taken are found to392 be full of eggs. Nearly all kinds of fish that are covered with scales are gregarious. They are most easily taken before sunrise;2373 for then more particularly their powers of seeing are defective. They sleep during the night; and when the weather is clear, are able to see just as well then as during the day. It is said, also, that it greatly tends to promote their capture to drag the bottom of the water, and that by so doing more are taken at the second haul2374 than at the first. They are especially fond of the taste of oil, and find nutriment in gentle showers of rain. Indeed, the very reeds,2375 even, although they are produced in swamps, will not grow to maturity without the aid of rain: in addition to this, we find that wherever fishes remain constantly in the same water, if it is not renewed they will die.


All fish have a presentiment of a rigorous winter, but more especially those which are supposed to have a stone2376 in the head, the lupus,2377 for instance, the chromis,2378 the sciæna,2379 and the phagrus.2380 When the winter has been very severe,393
many fish are taken in a state of blindness.2381 Hence it is, that during these months they lie concealed in holes, in the same manner as land animals, as we have already2382 mentioned; and more especially the hippurus,2383 and the coracinus,2384 which395 are never taken during the winter, except only on a few stated days, which are always the same. The same with the muræna2385 also, and the orphus,2386 the conger,2387 the perch,2388 and all396 the rock-fish. It is said that, during the winter, the torpedo,2389 the psetta,2390 and the sole, conceal themselves in the earth, or rather, I should say, in excavations made by them at the bottom of the sea.


Other fishes,2391 again, are unable to bear the heat of summer, and lie concealed during the sixty days of the hottest weather of midsummer; such, for instance, as the glaucus,2392 the asellus,2393397 and the dorade.2394 Among the river-fish, the silurus2395 is affected by the rising of the Dog-star, and at other times it is always sent to sleep by thunder. The same is also believed to be the case with the sea-fish called cyprinus.2396 In addition to this, the whole sea is sensible2397 of the rising of this star, a thing which is more especially to be observed in the Bosporus: for there sea-weeds and fish are seen floating on the surface, all of which have been thrown up from the bottom.

CHAP. 26. (17.)—THE MULLET.

One singular propensity of the mullet2398 has afforded a subject for laughter;2399 when it is frightened, it hides its head, and fancies that the whole of its body is concealed. Their salacious propensities2400 render them so unguarded, that in Phœnicia and in the province of Gallia Narbonensis, at the time of coupling,398 a male, being taken from out of the preserves, is fastened to a long line, which is passed through his mouth and gills; he is then let go in the sea, after which he is drawn back again by the line, upon which the females will follow him to the very water’s edge; and so, on the other hand, the male will follow the female, during the spawning season.


Among the ancients, the acipenser2401 was esteemed the most399 noble fish of all; it is the only one that has the scales turned towards the head, and in a contrary direction to that in which it swims. At the present day, however, it is held in no esteem, which I am the more surprised at, it being so very rarely found. Some writers call this fish the elops.


At a later period, they set the highest value on the lupus2402 and the asellus,2403 as we learn from Cornelius Nepos, and the poet, Laberius, the author of the Mimes. The most approved kinds of the lupus are those which have the name of “lanati,” or “woolly,” in consequence of the extreme whiteness and softness of the flesh. Of the asellus there are two sorts, the callarias, which is the smallest, and the bacchus,2404 which is only taken in deep water, and is hence much preferred to the former. On the other hand, among the varieties of the lupus, those are the most esteemed which are taken in rivers.



At the present day, the first place is given to the scarus,2405 the only fish that is said to ruminate, and to feed on grass and not on other fish. It is mostly found in the Carpathian Sea, and never of its own accord passes Lectum,2406 a promontory of Troas. Optatus Elipertius, the commander of the fleet under the Emperor Claudius, had this fish brought from that locality, and dispersed in various places off the coast between Ostia and the401 districts of Campania. During five years, the greatest care was taken that those which were caught should be returned to the sea; but since then they have been always found in great abundance off the shores of Italy, where formerly there were none to be taken. Thus has gluttony introduced these fish, to be a dainty within its reach, and added a new inhabitant to the seas; so that we ought to feel no surprise that foreign birds breed at Rome.

The fish that is next in estimation for the table is the mustela,2407 but that is valued only for its liver. A singular thing to tell of—the lake of Brigantia,2408 in Rhætia, lying in the midst of the Alps, produces them to rival even those of the sea.2409


Of the remaining fish that are held in any degree of esteem, the mullet2410 is the most highly valued, as well as the most abundant of all; it is of only a moderate size, rarely exceeds two pounds in weight, and will never grow beyond that weight in preserves or fish-ponds. These fish are only to be found in the Northern Ocean,2411 exceeding two pounds in weight, and even there in none but the more westerly parts. As for the other kinds, the various species are numerous; some2412 live upon sea-weed, while others feed on the oyster, slime, and the flesh of other fish. The more distinctive mark is a forked402 beard, that projects beneath the lower lip. The lutarius,2413 or mud-mullet, is held in the lowest esteem of all. This last is always accompanied2414 by another fish, known as the sargus, and where the mullet stirs up the mud, the other finds aliment for its own sustenance. The mullet that is found on the coast is not2415 highly esteemed, and the most esteemed of all have a strong flavour2416 of shell-fish. Fenestella is of opinion, that this fish received its name of mullet mullus from its resemblance to the colour of the red or mullet-coloured shoes.2417 The mullet spawns three2418 times a year: at all events, the fry makes its appearance that number of times. The masters in gastronomy inform us, that the mullet, while dying, assumes a variety of colours and a succession of shades, and that the hue of the red scales, growing paler and paler, gradually changes, more especially if it is looked at enclosed in glass.2419403 M. Apicius, a man who displayed a remarkable degree of ingenuity in everything relating to luxury, was of opinion, that it was a most excellent plan to let the mullet die in the pickle known as the “garum of the allies”2420—for we find that even this has found a surname—and he proposed a prize for any one who should invent a new sauce,2421 made from the liver of this fish. I find it much easier to relate this fact, than to state who it was that gained the prize.


Asinius Celer,2422 a man of consular rank, and remarkable for his prodigal expenditure on this fish, bought one at Rome, during the reign of Caius,2423 at the price of eight thousand sesterces.2424 A reflection upon such a fact as this will at once lead us to turn our thoughts to those who, making loud complaints against luxury, have lamented that a single cook cost more money to buy than a horse; while at the present day a cook is only to be obtained for the same sum that a triumph would cost, and a fish is only to be purchased at what was formerly the price for a cook! indeed, there is hardly any living being held in higher esteem than the man who understands how, in the most scientific fashion, to get rid of his master’s property.

(18.) Licinius Mucianus relates, that in the Red Sea there was caught a mullet eighty2425 pounds in weight. What a price404 would have been paid for it by our epicures, if it had only been found off the shores in the vicinity of our city!


There is this also in the nature of fish, that some are more highly esteemed in one place, and some in another; such, for instance, as the coracinus2426 in Egypt, the zeus,2427 also called the faber,2428 at Gades, the salpa,2429 in the vicinity of Ebusus,2430 which is considered elsewhere an unclean fish, and can nowhere2431 be thoroughly cooked, wherever found, without being first beaten with a stick: in Aquitania, again, the river salmon2432 is preferred to all the fish that swim in the sea.



Some fishes have numerous gills, others again single2433 ones, others double; it is by means of these that they discharge the water that has entered the mouth. A sign of old age2434 is the hardness of the scales, which are not alike in all. There are two lakes2435 of Italy at the foot of the Alps, called Larius and Verbanus, in which there are to be seen every year, at the rising of the Vergiliæ,2436 fish remarkable for the number of their scales, and the exceeding sharpness2437 of them, strongly resembling hob-nails2438 in appearance; these fish, however, are only to be seen during that month,2439 and no longer.



Arcadia produces a wonder in its fish called exocœtus,2440 from the fact that it comes ashore to sleep. In the neighbourhood of the river Clitorius,2441 this fish is said to be gifted with powers of speech, and to have no gills;2442 by some writers it is called the adonis.


Those fish, also, which are known by the name of sea-mice,2443407 as well as the polypi2444 and the murænæ,2445 are in the habit of coming ashore—besides which, there is in the rivers of India2446 one kind that does this, and then leaps back again into the water—for they are found to pass over into standing waters and streams. Most fishes have an evident instinct, which teaches them where to spawn in safety; as in such places there are no enemies found to devour their young, while at the same time the waves are much less violent. It will be still more a matter of surprise, to find that they thus have an appreciation of cause and effect, and understand the regular recurrence of periods, when we reflect how few persons there are that know that the most favourable time for taking fish is while the sun is passing through the sign of Pisces.2447


Some sea-fish are flat, such, for instance, as the rhombus,2448 the sole,2449 and the sea-sparrow;2450 which last only differs from408 the rhombus in the lateral position of the body. The rhombus lies with the right side upwards,2451 while in the sea-sparrow the left side is uppermost. Some sea-fish, again, are long, as the muræna and the conger.


Hence it is that there is a difference,2452 also, in the fins of fish, which have been given them to serve in place of feet, none having more than four,2453 some two2454 only, and others none.2455 It is in Lake Fucinus2456 only that there is a fish found that has eight fins2457 for swimming. Those fishes which are long and slimy, have only two at most, such, for instance, as eels and congers: others, again, have none, such as the muræna, which is also without gills.2458 All these fish2459 make their way in the sea by an undulatory motion of the body, just as serpents do on land; on dry land, also, they are able to crawl along, and hence those of this nature are more long-lived than the others. Some of the flat-fish, also, have no fins, the pastinacæ,2460 for instance—for these swim broad-wise—those, also, which are known as the “soft” fish, such as the polypi, for their feet2461 serve them in stead of fins.


CHAP. 38. (21.)—EELS.

Eels live eight2462 years; they are able to survive out of water as much as six days,2463 when a north-east wind blows; but when the south wind prevails, not so many. In winter,2464 they cannot live if they are in very shallow water, nor yet if the water is troubled. Hence it is that they are taken more especially about the rising of the Vergiliæ,2465 when the rivers are mostly in a turbid state. These animals seek their food at night; they are the only fish the bodies of which, when dead, do not float2466 upon the surface.

(22.) There is a lake called Benacus,2467 in the territory of Verona, in Italy, through which the river Mincius flows.2468 At the part of it whence this river issues, once a year, and mostly in the month of October, the lake is troubled, evidently by the constellations2469 of autumn, and the eels are heaped together2470 by the waves, and rolled on by them in such astonishing multitudes, that single masses of them, containing more than a thousand in number, are often taken in the chambers2471 which are formed in the bed of the river for that purpose.

CHAP. 39. (23.)—THE MURÆNA.

The muræna brings forth every month, while all the other410 fishes spawn only at stated periods: the eggs of this fish increase with the greatest rapidity.2472 It is a vulgar2473 belief that the muræna comes on shore, and is there impregnated by intercourse with serpents. Aristotle2474 calls the male, which impregnates the female, by the name of “zmyrus;” and says that there is a difference between them, the muræna being spotted2475 and weakly, while the zmyrus is all of one colour and hardy, and has teeth which project beyond the mouth. In northern Gaul all the murænæ have on the right jaw seven spots,2476 which bear a resemblance to the constellation of the Septentriones,2477 and are of a gold colour, shining as long as the animal is alive, but disappearing as soon as it is dead. Vedius Pollio,2478 a Roman of equestrian rank, and one of the friends of the late Emperor Augustus, found a method of exercising his cruelty by means of this animal, for he caused such slaves as had been condemned by him, to be thrown into preserves filled with murænæ; not that the land411 animals would not have fully sufficed for this purpose, but because he could not see a man so aptly torn to pieces all at once by any other kind of animal. It is said that these fish are driven to madness by the taste of vinegar. Their skin is exceedingly thin; while that of the eel, on the other hand, is much thicker. Verrius informs us that formerly the children of the Roman citizens, while wearing the prætexta,2479 were flogged with eel-skins, and that, for this reason, no pecuniary penalty2480 could by law be inflicted upon them.


There is another kind of flat fish, which, instead of bones, has cartilage, such, for instance, as the raia,2481 the pastinaca,2482 the squatina,2483 the torpedo,2484 and those which, under their respective Greek names, are known as the ox,2485 the lamia,2486 the eagle,2487 and412 the frog.2488 In this number, also, the squali2489 ought to be included, although they are not flat fish. Aristotle was the first to call these fish by the one generic name of σελάχη,2490 which he has given them: we, however, have no mode of distinguishing them, unless, indeed, we choose to call them the “cartilaginous” fishes. All these fish are carnivorous,2491 and feed lying on their backs, just as dolphins do, as already2492 noticed; while the other fishes,2493 too, are oviparous, this one kind, with the exception of that known as the sea-frog, is viviparous, like the cetacea.2494


There is a very small fish2495 that is in the habit of living among the rocks, and is known as the echeneis.2496 It is believed that when this has attached itself to the keel of a ship its progress413 is impeded, and that it is from this circumstance that it takes its name.2497 For this reason, also, it has a disgraceful repute, as being employed in love philtres,2498 and for the purpose of retarding judgments and legal proceedings—evil properties, which are only compensated by a single merit that it possesses—it is good for staying fluxes of the womb in pregnant women, and preserves the fœtus up to birth: it is never used, however, for food.2499 Aristotle2500 is of opinion that this fish has feet, so strong is the resemblance, by reason of the form and position of the fins.

Mucianus speaks of a murex2501 of larger size than the purple, with a head that is neither rough nor round; and the shell of which is single, and falls in folds on either side.2502 He tells us, also, that some of these creatures once attached themselves to a ship freighted with children2503 of noble birth, who were being sent by Periander for the purpose of being castrated, and that they stopped its course in full sail; and he further414 says, that the shell-fish which did this service are duly honoured in the temple of Venus,2504 at Cnidos. Trebius Niger says that this fish is a foot in length, and that it can retard the course of vessels, five fingers in thickness; besides which, it has another peculiar property—when preserved in salt, and applied, it is able to draw up gold which has fallen into a well, however deep it may happen to be.2505


The mæna changes2506 its white colour, and in summer becomes swarthy. The phycis2507 also changes its colour, and415 while at other times it is white, in spring it is parti-coloured. This last is the only fish that builds itself a nest; it makes it of sea-weed, and there deposits its eggs.


The sea-swallow,2508 being able to fly, bears a strong resemblance to the bird of that name; the sea-kite2509 too, flies as well.

(27.) There is a fish that comes up to the surface of the sea, known, from the following circumstance, as the lantern-fish:2510 thrusting from its mouth a tongue that shines like fire, it emits a most brilliant light on calm nights. Another fish, which, from its horns, has received its name,2511 raises them nearly a416 foot and a half above the surface of the water. The sea-dragon,2512 again, if caught and thrown on the sand, works out a hole for itself with its muzzle, with the most wonderful celerity.


The varieties of fish which we shall now mention are those which have no blood: they are of three kinds2513—first, those which are known as “soft;” next, those which have thin crusts; and, lastly, those which are enclosed in hard shells. The soft fish are the loligo,2514 the sæpia,2515 the polypus,2516 and others of a similar nature. These last have the head between the feet and the belly, and have, all of them, eight feet: in the sæpia and the loligo two of these feet are very long2517 and rough, and by means of these they lift the food to their mouth, and attach themselves to places in the sea, as though with an anchor; the others act as so many arms, by means of which they seize their prey.2518



The loligo is also able to dart above the surface of the water, and the scallop does the same, just like an arrow as it were. In the sæpia,2519 the male is parti-coloured, blacker than the female, and more courageous. If the female is struck with a fish-spear, the male comes to her aid; but the female, the instant the male is struck, takes to flight. Both of them, as soon as ever they find themselves in danger of being caught. discharge2520 a kind of ink, which with them is in place of blood,2521 and thus darkening the water, take to flight.


There are numerous kinds of polypi. The land2522 polypus is larger than that of the sea; they all of them use their arms2523 as feet and hands; and in coupling they employ the tail, which is forked2524 and sharp. The polypus has a sort of passage in the back,2525 by which it lets in and discharges the water, and which418 it shifts from side to side, sometimes carrying it on the right, and sometimes on the left. It swims obliquely,2526 with the head on one side, which is of surprising hardness while the animal is alive, being puffed out with air.2527 In addition to this, they have cavities2528 dispersed throughout the claws, by means of which, through suction, they can adhere to objects; which they hold, with the head upwards, so tightly, that they cannot be torn away. They cannot attach themselves, however, to the bottom of the sea, and their retentive powers are weaker in the larger ones. These are the only2529 soft fish that come on dry land, and then only where the surface is rugged: a smooth surface they will not come near. They feed upon the flesh of shell-fish, the shells of which they can easily break in the embrace of their arms: hence it is that their retreat may be easily detected by the pieces of shell which lie before it. Although, in other respects, this is looked upon as a remarkably stupid kind of animal, so much so, that it will swim towards the hand of a man, to a certain extent in its own domestic matters it manifests considerable intelligence. It carries its prey to its home, and after eating all the flesh, throws out the debris, and then pursues such small fish as may chance to swim towards them. It also changes its colour2530 according to the aspect of the place where it is, and more especially when it is alarmed. The notion is entirely unfounded that it gnaws2531 its own arms; for it is from the congers that this mischance befalls it; but it is no other419 than true that its arms shoot forth again, like the tail in the colotus2532 and the lizard.2533


Among the most remarkable curiosities is the animal which has the name2534 of nautilus, or, as some people call it, the pompilos. Lying with the head upwards, it rises to the surface of the water, raising itself little by little, while, by means of a certain conduit in its body, it discharges all the water, and this being got rid of like so much bilge-water as it were, it finds no difficulty in sailing along. Then, extending backwards its two front arms, it stretches out between them a membrane2535 of marvellous thinness, which acts as a sail spread out to the wind, while with the rest of its arms it paddles along below, steering itself with its tail in the middle, which acts as a rudder. Thus does it make its way along the deep, mimicking the appearance of a light Liburnian2536 bark; while, if anything chances to cause it alarm, in an instant it draws in the water, and sinks to the bottom.2537


Belonging to the genus of polypi is the animal known as the420 ozæna,2538 being so called from the peculiarly strong smell exhaled by the head;2539 in consequence of which, the murænæ2540 pursue it with the greatest eagerness. The polypi keep themselves concealed for two months in the year; they do not live beyond two2541 years, and always die of consumption, the females even sooner,2542 and mostly after bringing forth. I must not omit here the observations which L. Lucullus, the proconsul of Bætica, made with reference to the polypus, and which Trebius Niger, one of his suite, has published. He says that it is remarkably fond of shell-fish, and that these, the moment that they feel themselves touched by it, close their valves, and cut off the feelers of the polypus, thus making a meal at the expense of the plunderer. Shell-fish are destitute of sight, and, indeed, all other sensations but those which warn them of hunger and the approach of danger. Hence it is, that the polypus lies in ambush2543 till the fish opens its shell, immediately upon which, it places within it a small pebble, taking care, at the same time, to keep it from touching the body of the animal, lest, by making some movement, it should chance to eject it. Having made itself thus secure, it attacks its prey, and draws out the flesh, while the other tries to contract itself, but all in vain, in consequence of the separation of the shell, thus effected by the insertion of the wedge. So great is the instinctive shrewdness in animals that are otherwise quite remarkable for their lumpish stupidity.

In addition to the above, the same author states, that there is not an animal in existence, that is more dangerous for its powers of destroying a human being2544 when in the water.421 Embracing his body, it counteracts his struggles, and draws him under with its feelers and its numerous suckers, when, as often is the case, it happens to make an attack upon a shipwrecked mariner or a child. If, however, the animal is turned over, it loses all its power; for when it is thrown upon the back, the arms open of themselves.

The other particulars, which the same author has given, appear still more closely to border upon the marvellous. At Carteia,2545 in the preserves there, a polypus was in the habit of coming from the sea to the2546 pickling-tubs that were left open, and devouring the fish laid in salt there—for it is quite astonishing how eagerly all sea-animals follow even the very smell of salted condiments, so much so, that it is for this reason, that the fishermen take care to rub the inside of the wicker fish-kipes2547 with them.—At last, by its repeated thefts and immoderate depredations, it drew down upon itself the wrath of the keepers of the works. Palisades were placed before them, but these the polypus managed to get over by the aid of a tree,2548 and it was only caught at last by calling in the assistance of trained dogs, which surrounded it at night, as it was returning to its prey; upon which, the keepers, awakened by the noise, were struck with alarm at the novelty of the sight presented. First of all, the size of the polypus was enormous beyond all conception; and then it was covered all over422 with dried brine, and exhaled a most dreadful stench. Who could have expected to find a polypus there, or could have recognized it as such under these circumstances? They really thought that they were joining battle with some monster, for at one instant, it would drive off the dogs by its horrible fumes,2549 and lash at them with the extremities of its feelers; while at another, it would strike them with its stronger arms, giving blows with so many clubs, as it were; and it was only with the greatest difficulty that it could be dispatched with the aid of a considerable number of three-pronged fish-spears. The head of this animal was shewn to Lucullus; it was in size as large as a cask of fifteen amphoræ, and had a beard,2550 to use the expressions of Trebius himself, which could hardly be encircled with both arms, full of knots, like those upon a club, and thirty feet in length; the suckers or calicules,2551 as large as an urn, resembled a basin in shape, while the teeth again were of a corresponding largeness: its remains, which were carefully preserved as a curiosity, weighed seven hundred pounds. The same author also informs us, that specimens of the sæpia and the loligo have been thrown up on the same shores of a size fully as large: in our own seas2552 the loligo is sometimes found five cubits in length, and the sæpia, two. These animals do not live beyond two years.


Mucianus also relates that he had seen, in the Propontis, another curious resemblance to a ship in full sail.2553 There is423 a shell-fish, he says, with a keel, just like that of the vessel which we know by the name of acatium,2554 with the poop curving inwards, and a prow with the beak2555 attached. In this shell-fish there lies concealed also an animal known as the nauplius, which bears a strong resemblance to the sæpia, and only adopts the shell-fish as the companion of its pastimes. There are two modes, he says, which it adopts in sailing; when the sea is calm, the voyager hangs down its arms,2556 and strikes the water with a pair of oars as it were; but if, on the other hand, the wind invites, it extends them, employing them by way of a helm, and turning the mouth of the shell to the wind. The pleasure experienced by the shell-fish is that of carrying the other, while the amusement of the nauplius consists in steering; and thus, at the same moment, is an instinctive joy felt by these two creatures, devoid as they are of all sense, unless, indeed, a natural antipathy to man—for it is a well-known fact, that to see them thus sailing along, is a bad omen, and that it is portentous of misfortune to those who witness it.


The cray-fish,2557 which belongs to that class of animals which is destitute of blood, is protected by a brittle crust. This creature keeps itself concealed for five months, and the same is the case with crabs, which disappear for the same period. At the beginning of spring, however, they both2558 of them, after the424 manner of snakes, throw off old age, and renew their coverings. While other animals swim on the water, cray-fish float with a kind of action like creeping. They move onwards, if there is nothing to alarm2559 them, in a straight line, extending on each side their horns, which are rounded at the point by a ball peculiar to them; but, on the other hand, the moment they are alarmed, they straighten these horns, and proceed with a sidelong motion. They also use2560 these horns when fighting with each other. The cray-fish is the only animal that has the flesh in a pulpy state, and not firm and solid, unless it is cooked alive in boiling water.

(31.) The cray-fish frequents rocky places, the crab2561 spots which present a soft surface. In winter they both choose such parts of the shore as are exposed to the heat of the sun, and in summer they withdraw to the shady recesses of deep inlets of the sea. All fish of this kind suffer from the cold of winter, but become fat during autumn and spring, and more particularly during the full moon; for the warmth of that luminary, as it shines in the night, renders2562 the temperature of the weather more moderate.


There are various kinds of crabs,2563 known as carabi,2564 astaci,2565425 maiæ,2566 paguri,2567 heracleotici,2568 lions,2569 and others of less note. The carabus differs2570 from other crabs, in having a tail: in Phœnicia they are called hippoi,2571 or horses, being of such extraordinary swiftness, that it is impossible to overtake them. Crabs are long-lived, and have eight feet, all of which are bent obliquely. In the female2572 the first foot is426 double, in the male single; besides which, the animal has two claws with indented pincers. The upper part only of these fore-feet is moveable, the lower being immoveable: the right claw is the largest in them all.2573 Sometimes they assemble together in large bodies;2574 but as they are unable to cross the mouth of the Euxine, they turn back again and go round by land, and the road by which they travel is to be seen all beaten down with their foot-marks.

The smallest crab of any is that known as the pinnotheres,2575 and hence it is peculiarly exposed to danger; its shrewdness, however, is evinced by its concealing itself in the shell of the oyster; and as it grows larger, it removes to those of a larger size.

Crabs, when alarmed, go backwards as swiftly as when moving forwards. They fight with one another like rams, butting at each other with their horns. They have2576 a mode of curing themselves of the bites of serpents. It is said,2577 that427 while the sun is passing through the sign of Cancer, the dead bodies of the crabs, which are lying thrown up on the shore, are transformed into serpents.

To the same class2578 also belongs the sea-urchin,2579 which has spines in place of feet;2580 its mode of moving along is to roll like a ball, hence it is that these animals are often found with their prickles rubbed off. Those among them which have the longest spines of all, are known by the name of echinometræ,2581 while at the same time their body is the very smallest. They are not all of them of the same glassy colour; in the vicinity of Torone2582 they are white,2583 with very short spines. The eggs2584 of all of them are bitter, and are five in number; the mouth is situate in the middle of the body, and faces the earth.2585 It is said2586 that these creatures foreknow the approach of a storm at sea, and that they take up little stones with which they cover2587 themselves, and so provide a sort of ballast against their volubility, for they are very unwilling by rolling along to wear away their prickles. As soon as seafaring persons observe this, they at once moor their ship with several anchors.

(32.) To the same genus2588 also belong both land and water2589 snails, which thrust the body forth from their abode, and extend or contract two horns, as it were. They are without428 eyes,2590 and have, therefore, to feel their way, by means of these horns.

(33.) Sea-scallops2591 are considered to belong to the same class, which also conceal themselves during severe frosts and great heats; the onyches,2592 too, which shine in the dark like fire, and in the mouth even while being eaten.


Let us now pass on to the murex2593 and various kinds of shell-fish, which have a stronger shell, and in which Nature, in her sportive mood, has displayed a great variety—so many are the various hues of their tints, so numerous are their shapes, flat,2594 concave,2595 long,2596 crescent-shaped,2597 rounded into a globe, cut2598 through into a semi-globe, arched in the back, smooth, rough, indented, streaked, the upper part spirally wreathed, the edge projecting in a sharp point, the edge wreathed outwards,2599 or else folding inwards.2600 And then, too, there are the various distinctions2601429 of rayed shells, long-haired2602 shells, wavy-haired shells, channelled shells, pectinated shells, imbricated shells, reticulated shells, shells with lines oblique or rectilinear, thick-set shells, expanded shells, tortuous shells, shells the valves of which are united by one small knot, shells which are held together all along one side, shells which are open as if in the very act of applauding,2603 and shells which wind,2604 resembling a conch. The fish of this class, known as the shells of Venus,2605 are able to navigate the surface of the deep, and, presenting to the wind their concave side, catch the breeze, and sail along on the surface of the sea. Scallops are also able to leap2606 and fly above the surface of the water, and they sometimes employ their shell by way of a bark.


But why mention such trifles as these, when I am sensible that no greater inroads have been made upon our morals, and no more rapid advances have been made by luxury, than those effected through the medium of shell-fish? Of all the elements that exist, the sea is the one that costs the dearest to the belly; seeing that it provides so many kinds of meats,430 so many dishes, so many exquisite flavours derived from fish, all of which are valued in proportion to the danger undergone by those who have caught them.

(35.) But still, how insignificant is all this when we come to think of our purple, our azure,2607 and our pearls; it was not enough, forsooth, for the spoils of the sea to be thrust down the gullet—but they must be employed as well to adorn the hands, the ears, the head, the whole body, in fact, and that of the men pretty nearly as much as the women. What has the sea to do with our clothes?2608 What is there in common between waves and billows and a sheep’s fleece? This one element ought not to receive us, according to ordinary notions, except in a state of nakedness. Let there be ever so strong an alliance between it and the belly, on the score of gluttony, still, what can it possibly have to do with the back? It is not enough, forsooth, that we are fed upon what is acquired by perils, but we must be clothed, too, in a similar way; so true it is, that for all the wants of the body, that which is sought at the expense of human life, is sure to please us the most.


The first rank then, and the very highest position among all valuables, belongs to the pearl. It is the Indian Ocean that principally sends them to us: and thus have they, amid those monsters so frightful and so huge which we have already described,2609 to cross so many seas, and to traverse such lengthened tracts of land, scorched by the ardent rays of a burning sun: and then, too, by the Indians themselves they have to be sought in certain islands, and those but very few in number. The most productive of pearls is the island of Taprobane, and that of Stoïdis, as already mentioned2610 in the description of the431 world; Perimula,2611 also, a promontory of India. But those are most highly valued which are found in the vicinity of Arabia,2612 in the Persian Gulf, which forms a part of the Red Sea.

The origin2613 and production of the shell-fish is not very different from that of the shell of the oyster. When the genial season of the year2614 exercises its influence on the animal, it is said that, yawning, as it were, it opens its shell, and so receives a kind of dew, by means of which it becomes impregnated; and that at length it gives birth, after many struggles, to the burden of its shell, in the shape of pearls, which vary according to the quality of the dew. If this has been in a perfectly pure state when it flowed into the shell, then the pearl produced is white and brilliant, but if it was turbid, then the pearl is of a clouded colour also; if the sky should happen to have been lowering when it was generated, the pearl will be of a pallid colour; from all which it is quite evident that the quality of the pearl depends much more upon a calm state of the heavens than of the sea, and hence it is that it contracts a cloudy hue, or a limpid appearance, according to the degree of serenity of the sky in the morning.

If, again, the fish is satiated in a reasonable time, then the pearl produced increases rapidly in size. If it should happen to lighten at the time, the animal shuts its shell, and the pearl is diminished in size in proportion to the fast that the animal has to endure: but if, in addition to this, it should thunder2615432 as well, then it becomes alarmed, and closing the shell in an instant, produces what is known as a physema,2616 or pearl-bubble, filled with air, and bearing a resemblance to a pearl, but in appearance only, as it is quite empty, and devoid of body; these bubbles are formed by the abortion of the shell-fish. Those which are produced in a perfectly healthy state consist of numerous layers, so that they may be looked upon, not inappropriately, as similar in conformation to the callosities on the body of an animal; and they should therefore be cleaned by experienced hands. It is wonderful, however, that they should be influenced thus pleasurably by the state of the heavens, seeing that by the action of the sun the pearls are turned of a red colour, and lose all their whiteness, just like the human body. Hence it is that those which keep their whiteness the best are the pelagiæ, or main-sea pearls, which lie at too great a depth to be reached by the sun’s rays; and yet these even turn yellow with age, grow dull and wrinkled, and it is only in their youth that they possess that brilliancy which is so highly esteemed in them. When old, too, the coat grows thick, and they adhere to the shell,2617 from which they can only be separated with the assistance of a file.2618 Those pearls which have one surface flat and the other spherical, opposite to the plane side, are for that reason called tympania,2619 or tambour-pearls. I have seen pearls still adhering to the shell; for which reason the shells were used as boxes for unguents. In addition to these facts, we may remark that the pearl is soft2620 in the water, but that it grows hard the instant it is taken out.



The fish, as soon as ever it perceives the hand,2621 shuts its shell and covers up its treasures, being well aware that it is for them that it is sought; and if it happens to catch the hand,2622 it cuts it off with the sharp edge of the shell. And no punishment is there that could be more justly inflicted. There are other penalties added as well, seeing that the greater part of these pearls are only to be found among rocks and crags, while on the other hand, those which lie out in the main sea are generally accompanied by sea-dogs.2623 And yet, for all this, the women will not banish these gems from their ears! Some writers say,2624 that these animals live in communities, just like swarms of bees, each of them being governed by one remarkable for its size and its venerable old age;2625 while at the same time it is possessed of marvellous skill in taking all due precautions434 against danger; the divers, they say, take especial care to find these, and when once they are taken, the others stray to and fro, and are easily caught in their nets. We learn also that as soon as they are taken they are placed under a thick layer of salt in earthen-ware vessels; as the flesh is gradually consumed, certain knots,2626 which form the pearls, are disengaged2627 from their bodies, and fall to the bottom of the vessel.


There is no doubt that pearls wear with use, and will change their colour, if neglected. All their merit consists in their whiteness, large size, roundness, polish, and weight; qualities which are not easily to be found united in the same; so much so, indeed, that no two pearls are ever found perfectly alike; and it was from this circumstance, no doubt, that our Roman luxury first gave them the name of “unio,”2628 or the unique gem: for a similar name is not given them by the Greeks; nor, indeed, among the barbarians by whom they are found are they called anything else but “margaritæ.”2629 Even in the very whiteness of the pearl there is a great difference to be observed. Those are of a much clearer water that are found in the Red Sea,2630 while the Indian pearl resembles in tint the scales2631 of the mirror-stone, but exceeds all the others in size. The colour that is most highly prized of all, is that of those435 which are thence called alum-coloured2632 pearls. Long pearls also have their peculiar value; those are called “elenchi,” which are of a long tapering shape, resembling our alabaster2633 boxes in form, and ending in a full bulb.2634 Our ladies quite glory in having these suspended from their fingers, or two or three of them dangling from their ears. For the purpose of ministering to these luxurious tastes, there are various names and wearisome refinements which have been devised by profuseness and prodigality; for after inventing these ear-rings, they have given them the name of “crotalia,”2635 or castanet pendants, as though quite delighted even with the rattling of the pearls as they knock against each other; and now, at the present day, the poorer classes are even affecting them, as people are in the habit of saying, that “a pearl worn by a woman in public, is as good as a lictor2636 walking before her.” Nay, even more than this, they put them on their feet, and that, not only on the laces of their sandals, but all over the436 shoes;2637 it is not enough to wear pearls, but they must tread upon them, and walk with them under foot as well.

Pearls used formerly to be found in our sea, but more frequently about the Thracian Bosporus;2638 they were of a red colour, and small,2639 and enclosed in a shell-fish known by the name of “myes.” In Acarnania there is a shell-fish called “pina,”2640 which produces pearls; and from this it is quite evident that it is not one kind of fish only that produces them. Juba states also, that on the shores of Arabia there is a shell-fish which resembles a notched comb, and covered all over with hair2641 like a sea-urchin, and that the pearl lies imbedded in its flesh, in appearance bearing a strong resemblance to a hailstone.2642 No such shell-fish, however, as these are ever brought to Rome. Nor yet are any pearls of value found in Acarnania, being shapeless, rough, and of a marble hue; those are better which are found in the vicinity of Actium; but still they are small, which is the case also with those found on the coast of Mauritania. Alexander Polyhistor and Sudines2643 are of opinion that as they grow old their tints gradually fade.


It is quite clear that the interior of the pearl is solid, as no fall is able to break it. Pearls are not always found in the middle of the body of the animal, but sometimes in one place,437 and sometimes another. Indeed, I have seen some which lay at the edge of the shell, just as though in the very act of coming forth, and in some fishes as many as four or five. Up to the present time, very few have been found which exceeded half an ounce in weight, by more than one scruple. It is a well-ascertained fact, that in Britannia2644 pearls are found, though small, and of a bad colour; for the deified Julius Cæsar2645 wished it to be distinctly understood,2646 that the breast-plate which he dedicated to Venus Genetrix, in her temple, was made of British pearls.


I once saw Lollia Paulina,2647 the wife of the Emperor Caius2648—it was not at any public festival, or any solemn ceremonial, but only at an ordinary wedding entertainment2649—covered438 with emeralds and pearls, which shone in alternate layers upon her head, in her hair, in her wreaths, in her ears, upon her neck, in her bracelets, and on her fingers, and the value of which amounted in all to forty millions2650 of sesterces; indeed2651 she was prepared at once to prove the fact, by showing the receipts and acquittances. Nor were these any presents made by a prodigal potentate, but treasures which had descended to her from her grandfather, and obtained by the spoliation of the provinces. Such are the fruits of plunder and extortion! It was for this reason that M. Lollius2652 was held so infamous all over the East for the presents which he extorted from the kings; the result of which was, that he was denied the friendship of Caius Cæsar, and took poison;2653 and all this was done, I say, that his grand-daughter might be seen, by the glare of lamps, covered all over with jewels to the amount of forty millions of sesterces! Now let a person only picture to himself, on the one hand, what was the value of the habits worn by Curius or Fabricius in their triumphs, let him picture to himself the objects displayed to the public on their triumphal litters,2654 and then, on the other hand, let him think upon this Lollia, this one bit2655 of a woman, the head of an empire, taking her place at table, thus attired; would he not much rather that the conquerors had been torn from their very chariots, than that they had conquered for such a result as this?


Nor, indeed, are these the most supreme evidences of luxury. There were formerly two pearls, the largest that had been ever seen in the whole world: Cleopatra, the last of the queens of Egypt, was in possession of them both, they having come to her by descent from the kings of the East. When Antony had been sated by her, day after day, with the most exquisite banquets, this queenly courtesan, inflated with vanity and disdainful arrogance, affected to treat all this sumptuousness and all these vast preparations with the greatest contempt; upon which Antony enquired what there was that could possibly be added to such extraordinary magnificence. To this she made answer, that on a single entertainment she would expend ten millions2656 of sesterces. Antony was extremely desirous to learn how that could be done, but looked upon it as a thing quite impossible; and a wager was the result. On the following day, upon which the matter was to be decided, in order that she might not lose the wager, she had an entertainment set before Antony, magnificent in every respect, though no better than his usual repast. Upon this, Antony joked her, and enquired what was the amount expended upon it; to which she made answer that the banquet which he then beheld was only a trifling appendage2657 to the real banquet, and that she alone2658 would consume at the meal to the ascertained value of that amount, she herself would swallow the ten millions of sesterces; and so ordered the second course to be served. In obedience to her instructions, the servants placed before her a single vessel, which was filled with vinegar, a liquid, the sharpness and strength of which is able2659 to dissolve440 pearls. At this moment she was wearing in her ears those choicest and most rare and unique productions of Nature; and while Antony was waiting to see what she was going to do, taking one of them from out of her ear, she threw it into the vinegar, and directly it was melted, swallowed it. Lucius Plancus,2660 who had been named umpire in the wager, placed his hand upon the other at the very instant that she was making preparations to dissolve it in a similar manner, and declared that Antony had lost—an omen which,2661 in the result, was fully confirmed. The fame of the second pearl is equal to that which attends its fellow. After the queen, who had thus come off victorious on so important a question, had been seized, it was cut asunder, in order that this, the other half of the entertainment, might serve as pendants for the ears of Venus, in the Pantheon at Rome.


Antony and Cleopatra, however, will not bear away the palm of prodigality in this respect, and will be stripped of even this boast in the annals of luxury. For before their time, Clodius, the son of the tragic actor Æsopus,2662 had done the441 same at Rome; having been left by his father heir to his ample wealth and possessions. Let not Antony then be too proud, for all his triumvirate, since he can hardly stand in comparison with an actor; one, too, who had no wager to induce him—a thing which adds to the regal munificence of the act—but was merely desirous of trying, by way of glorification to his palate, what was the taste of pearls. As he found it to be wonderfully pleasing, that he might not be the only one to know it, he had a pearl set before each of his guests for him to swallow. After the surrender of Alexandria, pearls came into common and, indeed, universal use at Rome; but they first began to be used about the time of Sylla, though but of small size and of little value, Fenestella says—in this, however, it is quite evident that he is mistaken, for Ælius Stilo tells us, that it was in the time of the Jugurthine war, that the name of “unio” was first given to pearls of remarkable size.


And yet pearls may be looked upon as pretty nearly a possession of everlasting duration—they descend from a man to his heir, and they are alienated from one to another just like any landed estate. But the colours that are extracted from the murex2663 and the purple fade from hour to hour; and yet luxury, which has similarly acted as a mother to them, has set upon them prices almost equal to those of pearls.


(36.) Purples live mostly seven2664 years. Like the murex, they keep themselves in concealment for thirty days, about the time of the rising of the Dog-star; in the spring season they unite in large bodies, and by rubbing against each other, produce a viscous spittle, from which a kind of wax is formed. The murex does the same; but the purple2665 has that exquisite juice which is so greatly sought after for the purpose of dyeing cloth, situate in the middle of the throat. This secretion consists of a tiny drop contained in a white vein, from which the precious liquid used for dyeing is distilled, being of the tint of a rose somewhat inclining to black. The rest of the body is entirely destitute of this juice. It is a great point to take the fish alive; for when it dies, it spits out this juice. From the larger ones it is extracted after taking off the shell; but the small fish are crushed alive, together with the shells, upon which they eject this secretion.

In Asia the best purple is that of Tyre, in Africa that of Meninx2666 and the parts of Gætulia that border on the Ocean, and in Europe that of Laconia. It is for this colour that the fasces and the axes2667 of Rome make way in the crowd; it is this that asserts the majesty of childhood;2668 it is this that distinguishes the senator2669 from the man of equestrian rank; by persons arrayed in this colour are prayers2670 addressed443 to propitiate the gods; on every garment2671 it sheds a lustre, and in the triumphal vestment2672 it is to be seen mingled with gold. Let us be prepared then to excuse this frantic passion for purple, even though at the same time we are compelled to enquire, why it is that such a high value has been set upon the produce of this shell-fish, seeing that while in the dye the smell of it is offensive, and the colour itself is harsh, of a greenish hue, and strongly resembling that of the sea when in a tempestuous state?

The tongue of the purple is a finger2673 in length, and by means of this it finds subsistence, by piercing other shell-fish,2674 so hard is the point of it. They die in fresh water, and in places where rivers discharge themselves into the sea; otherwise, when taken, they will live as long as fifty days on their saliva. All shell-fish grow very fast, and purples more especially; they come to their full size at the end of a year.


Were I at this point to pass on to other subjects, luxury, no doubt would think itself defrauded of its due, and so accuse me of negligence; I must therefore make my way into the very workshops even, so that, just as among articles of food the various kinds and qualities of corn are known, all those who place the enjoyment of life in these luxuries, may have a still better acquaintance with the objects for which they live.2675


There are two kinds of fish that produce the purple colour; the elements in both are the same, the combinations only are different; the smaller fish is that which is called the “buccinum,” from its resemblance to the conch by which the sound of the buccinus or trumpet is produced, and to this circumstance it owes its name: the opening in it is round, with an incision in the margin.2676 The other fish is known as the “purpura,” or purple, and has a grooved and projecting muzzle, which being tubulated on one side in the interior, forms a passage for the tongue;2677 besides which, the shell is studded with points up to the very apex, which are mostly seven in number, and disposed2678 in a circle; these are not found on the buccinum, though both of them have as many spirals as they are years old. The buccinum attaches itself only to crags, and is gathered about rocky places.

(37.) Purples also have another name, that of “pelagiæ”2679 there are numerous kinds of them, which differ only in their element and place of abode. There is the mud2680 purple, which is nurtured upon putrid mud; and the sea-weed2681 purple, which feeds on sea-weed; both of which are held in the very lowest esteem. A better kind is the reef-purple,2682 which is collected on the reefs or out at sea; still, however, the colour extracted from this is too light and thin. Then, again, there is the variety known as the pebble-purple,2683 so called from the pebbles of the sea, and wonderfully well adapted for dyeing; and, better445 than any of them, that known by the name of “dialutensis,”2684 because of the various natures of the soil on which it feeds. Purples are taken with a kind of osier kipe2685 of small size, and with large meshes; these are cast into the sea, and in them cockles are put as a bait, that close the shell in an instant, and snap at an object, just as we see mussels do. Though half dead, these animals, as soon as ever they are returned to the sea, come to life again, and open their shells with avidity; upon which the purples seek them, and commence the attack, by protruding their tongues. The cockles, on the other hand, the moment they feel themselves pricked, shut their shells, and hold fast the object that has wounded them: in this way, victims to their greediness, they are drawn up to the surface hanging by the tongue.


The most favourable season for taking these fish is after the rising of the Dog-star, or else before spring; for when they have once discharged2686 their waxy secretion, their juices have no consistency: this, however, is a fact unknown in the dyers’ workshops, although it is a point of primary importance. After it is taken, the vein is extracted, which we have2687 previously spoken of, to which it is requisite to add salt, a sextarius2688 about to every hundred pounds of juice. It is sufficient to leave them to steep for a period of three days, and no446 more, for the fresher they are, the greater virtue there is in the liquor. It is then set to boil in vessels of tin,2689 and every hundred amphoræ2690 ought to be boiled down to five hundred pounds of dye, by the application of a moderate heat; for which purpose the vessel is placed at the end of a long funnel, which communicates with the furnace; while thus boiling, the liquor is skimmed from time to time, and with it the flesh, which necessarily adheres to the veins. About the tenth day, generally, the whole contents of the cauldron are in a liquified state, upon which a fleece, from which the grease has been cleansed, is plunged into it by way of making trial; but until such time as the colour is found to satisfy the wishes of those preparing it, the liquor is still kept on the boil. The tint that inclines to red is looked upon as inferior to that which is of a blackish hue. The wool is left to lie in soak for five hours, and then, after carding it, it is thrown in again, until it has fully imbibed the colour. The juice of the buccinum is considered very inferior if employed by itself, as it is found to discharge its colour; but when used in conjunction with that of the pelagiæ, it blends2691 with it very well, gives a bright lustre to its colour, which is otherwise too dark, and imparts the shining crimson hue of the kermes-berry, a tint that is particularly valued. By the admixture of their respective virtues these colours are thus heightened or rendered sombre by the aid of one another. The proper proportions for mixing are, for fifty pounds of wool, two hundred pounds of juice of the buccinum and one hundred and eleven of juice of the pelagiæ.447 From this combination is produced the admirable tint known as amethyst colour.2692 To produce the Tyrian hue the wool is soaked in the juice of the pelagiæ while the mixture is in an uncooked and raw state; after which its tint is changed by being dipped in the juice of the buccinum. It is considered of the best quality when it has exactly the colour of clotted blood, and is of a blackish hue to the sight, but of a shining appearance when held up to the light; hence it is that we find Homer speaking of “purple blood.”2693


I find that, from the very first, purple has been in use at Rome, but that Romulus employed it for the trabea.2694 As to the toga prætexta and the laticlave2695 vestment, it is a fact well ascertained, that Tullus Hostilius was the first king who made use of them, and that after the conquest of the Etruscans. Cornelius Nepos, who died in the reign of the late Emperor Augustus, has left the following remarks: “In the days of my youth,” says he, “the violet purple was in favour, a pound of which used to sell at one hundred denarii; and not long after, the Tarentine2696 red was all the fashion. This last was448 succeeded by the Tyrian dibapha,2697 which could not be bought for even one thousand denarii per pound. P. Lentulus Spinther, the curule ædile, was the first who used the dibapha for the prætexta, and he was greatly censured for it; whereas now-a-days,” says he, “who is there that does not have purple hangings2698 to his banqueting-couches, even?”

This Spinther was ædile in the consulship of Cicero, and in the year from the Building of the City, 691. “Dibapha” was the name given to textures that had been doubly dyed, and these were looked upon as a mighty piece of costly extravagance; while now, at the present day, nearly all the purple cloths that are reckoned of any account are dyed in a similar manner.


Fabrics that are called conchyliated are subjected to the same process in all other respects, but without any admixture of the juice of the buccinum; in addition to which, the liquid is mixed with water and human urine in equal parts,2699 one-half2700 only of the proportion of dye being used for the same quantity of wool. From this mixture a full colour is not obtained, but that pale tint, which is so highly esteemed; and the clearer2701 it is, the less of it the wool has imbibed.

(40.) The prices of these dyes vary in proportion to the quantity produced by the various shores; still, however, those who are in the habit of paying enormous prices for them, may as well be informed that on no occasion ought the juice of449 the pelagiæ to exceed fifty,2702 and that of the buccinum one hundred sesterces for one hundred pounds.2703


But no sooner have we finished with one branch of this subject than we have to begin upon another, for we find that it is made quite a matter of sport to create expense; and not only this, but the sport must be doubled by making new mixtures and combinations, and falsifying over again what was a falsification of the works of Nature already; such, for instance, as staining tortoise-shell,2704 alloying gold with silver for the purpose of making electrum,2705 and then adding copper to the mixture to make Corinthian metal.2706

(41.) It was not sufficient to have borrowed from a precious stone the name of “amethyst” for a dye, but when we have obtained this colour we must drench it over again with Tyrian tints,2707 so that we may have an upstart name2708 compounded of both, and at the same moment a two-fold display of luxury; for as soon as ever people have succeeded in obtaining the conchyliated colour, they immediately begin to think that it will do better as a state of transition to the Tyrian hues. There can be little doubt that this invention is due to some artist who happened to change his mind, and alter a tint with which he was not pleased: hence a system has taken its rise, and spirits, ever on the rack for creating wonders, have transformed what was originally a blunder into something quite desirable; while, at the same time, a double path has450 been pointed out to luxury, in thus making one colour carry another, and thereby become, as they say, softer and more mellow. And what is even more than this, human ingenuity has even learned to mingle with these dyes the productions of the earth, and to steep in Tyrian purple fabrics already dyed crimson with the berry of the kermes, in order to produce the hysginian2709 tint. The kermes of Galatia, a red berry which we shall mention when we come to speak2710 of the productions of the earth, is the most esteemed of all, except, perhaps, the one that grows in the vicinity of Emerita,2711 in Lusitania. However, to make an end, once for all, of my description of these precious dyes, I shall remark, that the colour yielded by this grain2712 when a year old, is of a pallid hue, and that if it is more than four years old, it is quickly discharged: hence we find that its energies are not developed either when it is too young or when old.

I have now abundantly treated of an art, by means of which men, just as much as women, have an idea that their appearance may be set off to the greatest possible advantage.


Belonging to the shell-fish tribe there is the pinna2713 also: it is found2714 in slimy spots, always lying upright, and never451 without a companion, which some writers call the pinnotheres,2715 and others, again, pinnophylax, being a small kind of shrimp, or else a parasitical crab. The pinna,2716 which is destitute of sight, opens its shell, and in so doing exposes its body within to the attacks of the small fish, which immediately rush upon it, and finding that they can do so with impunity, become bolder and bolder, till at last they quite fill the shell. The pinnotheres, looking out for the opportunity, gives notice to the pinna at the critical moment by a gentle bite, upon which the other instantly closes its shell, and so kills whatever it has caught there; after which, it divides the spoil with its companion.


Upon2717 reflecting on such facts as these, I am the more inclined to wonder at the circumstance that some persons have been found who were of opinion that the water animals are devoid of all sense. The torpedo2718 is very well aware of the extent of its own powers, and that, too, although it experiences no benumbing effects from them itself. Lying concealed in452 the mud, it awaits the approach of the fish, and, at the moment that they are swimming above in supposed security, communicates the shock, and instantly darts upon them: there is no delicate2719 morsel in existence that is preferred to the liver of this fish. And no less wonderful, too, is the shrewdness2720 manifested by the sea-frog,2721 which is known by us as the “fisher.” Stirring up the mud, it protrudes from the surface two little horns, which project from beneath the eyes, and so attracts the small fish which are sporting around it, until at last they approach so close that it is able to seize them. In a similar manner, too, the squatina and the rhombus2722 conceal themselves, but extend their fins, which, as they move to and fro, resemble little worms; the ray also does the same. The pastinaca,2723 too, lies lurking in ambush, and pierces the fish as they pass with the sting with which it is armed. Another proof of instinctive shrewdness is the fact, that although the ray is the very slowest of all the fish in its movements, it is found with the mullet in its belly, which is the swiftest of them all.

(43.) The scolopendra,2724 which bears a strong resemblance2725453 to the land insect which we call a centipede, if it chances to swallow a hook, will vomit forth all its intestines, until it has disengaged itself, after which it will suck them in again. The sea-fox2726 too, when exposed to a similar peril, goes on swallowing the line until it meets with a weak part of it, and then with its teeth snaps it asunder with the greatest ease. The fish called the glanis2727 is more cautious; it bites at the hooks from behind, and does not swallow them, but only strips them of the bait.

(44.) The sea-ram2728 commits its ravages just like a wary robber; at one time it will lurk in the shadow of some large vessel that is lying out at sea, and wait for any one who may be tempted to swim; while at another, it will raise its head from the surface of the water, survey the fishermen’s boats, and then slily swim towards them and sink them.


Indeed, for my own part, I am strongly of opinion that there is sense existing in those bodies which have the nature2729 of neither animals nor vegetables, but a third which partakes of them both:—sea-nettles and sponges, I mean. The sea-nettle2730 wanders to and fro by night, and at night changes its locality. These creatures are by nature a sort of fleshy branch,2731 and are nurtured upon flesh. They have the power of producing an454 itching, smarting pain,2732 just like that caused by the nettle found on land. For the purpose of seeking its prey, it contracts and stiffens itself to the utmost possible extent, and then, as a small fish swims past, it will suddenly spread out its branches, and so seize and devour2733 it. At another time it will assume the appearance of being quite withered away, and let itself be tossed2734 to and fro by the waves like a piece of sea-weed, until it happens to touch a fish. The moment it does so, the fish goes to rub itself against a rock, to get rid of the itching; immediately upon which, the nettle pounces upon it. By night also it is on the look-out for scallops and sea-urchins. When it perceives a hand approaching it, it instantly changes its colour, and contracts itself; when touched it produces a burning sensation, and if ever so short a time is afforded, makes its escape. Its mouth is situate, it is said, at the root or lower part,2735 and the excrements2736 are discharged by a small canal situated above.


We find three2737 kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are455 thick, very hard, and rough, and are called “tragi:”2738 the second, are thick, and much softer, and are called “mani;”2739 of the third, being fine and of a closer texture, tents for sores are made; this last is known as “Achillium.”2740 All of these sponges grow on rocks, and feed upon2741 shell- and other fish, and slime. It would appear that these creatures, too, have some intelligence; for as soon as ever they feel2742 the hand about to tear them off, they contract themselves, and are separated with much greater difficulty: they do the same also when the waves buffet them to and fro. The small shells that are found in them, clearly show that they live upon food: about Torone2743 it is even said that they will survive after they have been detached, and that they grow again from the roots456 which have been left adhering to the rock. They leave a colour similar to that of blood upon the rock from which they have been detached, and those more especially which are produced in the Syrtes of Africa.2744

The manos is the one that grows to the largest size, but the softest of all are those found in the vicinity of Lycia. Where the sea is deep and calm, they are more particularly soft, while those which are found in the Hellespont are rough, and those in the vicinity of Malea coarse.2745 When lying in places exposed to the sun, they become putrid: hence it is that those which are found in deep water are the best. While they are alive, they are of the same blackish colour that they are when saturated with water. They adhere to the rock not by one part only, nor yet by the whole body: and within them there are a number of empty tubes, generally four or five in number, by means of which, it is thought, they take their food. There are other tubes also, but these are closed at the upper extremity; and a sort of membrane is supposed to be spread beneath the roots by which they adhere. It is well known that sponges are very long-lived. The most inferior kind of all are those which are called “aplysiæ,”2746 because it is impossible to clean them: these have large tubes, while the other parts of them are thick and coarse.

CHAP. 70. (46.)—DOG-FISH.2747

Vast numbers of dog-fish infest the seas in the vicinity of the sponges, to the great peril of those who dive for them. These persons say that a sort of dense cloud gradually thickens over their2748 heads, bearing the resemblance of some kind of457 animal like a flat-fish,2749 and that, pressing downward upon them, it prevents them from returning to the surface. It is for this reason that they carry stilettos with them,2750 which are very sharp at the point, and attached to them by strings; for if they did not pierce the object with the help of these, it could not be got rid of. This, however, is entirely the result, in my opinion, of the darkness and their own fears; for no person has ever yet been able to find, among living creatures, the fish-cloud or the fish-fog, the name which they give to this enemy of theirs.

The divers, however, have terrible combats with the dog-fish, which attack with avidity the groin, the heels, and all the whiter parts of the body. The only means of ensuring safety, is to go boldly to meet them, and so, by taking the initiative, strike them with alarm: for, in fact, this animal is just as frightened at man, as man is at it; and they are on quite an equal footing when beneath the water. But the moment the diver has reached the surface, the danger is much more imminent; for he loses the power of boldly meeting his adversary while he is endeavouring to make his way out of the water, and his only chance of safety is in his companions, who draw him along by a cord that is fastened under his shoulders. While he is engaging with the enemy, he keeps pulling this cord with his left hand, according as there may be any sign of immediate peril, while with the right he wields the stiletto, which he is using in his defence. At first they draw him along at a moderate pace, but as soon as ever they have got him close to the ship, if they do not whip him out in an instant, with the greatest possible celerity, they see him snapped asunder; and many a time, too, the diver, even when already drawn out, is dragged from their hands, through neglecting to aid the efforts of those who are assisting him, by rolling up his body in the shape of a ball. The others, it is true, are in the meantime brandishing their pronged fish-spears; but the monster has the craftiness to place himself beneath the ship, and so458 wage the warfare in safety. Consequently, every possible care is taken by the divers to look out2751 for the approach of this enemy.

(47.) It is the surest sign of safety to see flat-fish, which never frequent the spots where these noxious monsters are found: and it is for this reason that the divers2752 call them sacred.


Those animals, however, it must be admitted, which lie enclosed in a stony shell, have no sensation whatever—such as the oyster,2753 for instance. Many, again, have the same nature as vegetables; such as the holothuria,2754 the pulmones,2755 and the sea-stars.2756 Indeed, I may say that there is no land production459 which has not its like in the sea;2757 no, not even those insects which frequent our public-houses2758 in summer, and are so troublesome with their nimble leaps, nor yet those which more especially make the human hair their place of refuge; for these are often drawn up in a mass2759 collected around the bait. This, too, is supposed to be the reason why the sleep of fish is sometimes so troubled in the night. Upon some fish, indeed, these animals breed2760 as parasites: among these, we find the fish known as the chalcis.2761


Nor yet are dire and venomous substances found wanting in the sea: such, for instance, as the sea-hare2762 of the Indian seas,460 which is even poisonous by the very touch, and immediately produces vomiting and disarrangement of the stomach. In our seas it has the appearance of a shapeless mass, and only resembles the hare in colour; in India it resembles it in its larger size, and in its hair, which is only somewhat coarser: there it is never taken alive. An equally deadly animal is the sea-spider,2763 which is especially dangerous for a sting which it has on the back: but there is nothing that is more to be dreaded than the sting which protrudes from the tail of the trygon,2764 by our people known as the pastinaca, a weapon five inches in length. Fixing this in the root of a tree, the fish is able to kill it; it can pierce armour too, just as though with an arrow, and to the strength of iron it adds all the corrosive qualities of poison.


We do not find it stated that all kinds of fishes are subject to epizoötic diseases,2765 like other animals of a wild nature:461 but it is evidently the fact that individuals2766 among them are attacked by maladies, from the emaciated appearance that many present, while at the same moment others of the same species are taken quite remarkable for their fatness.


The curiosity and wonder which have been excited in mankind by this subject, will not allow me any longer to defer giving an account of the generation of these animals. Fishes couple by rubbing their bellies2767 against one another; an operation, however, that is performed with such extraordinary celerity as to escape the sight. Dolphins2768 also, and other animals of the cetaceous kind, couple in a similar manner, though the time occupied in so doing is somewhat longer. The female fish, at the season for coupling, follows the male, and strikes against its belly with its muzzle; while the male in its turn, when the female is about to spawn, follows it and devours2769 the eggs. But with them, the simple act of coupling is not sufficient2770 for the purposes of reproduction; it is necessary for the male to pass among the eggs which the female has produced, in order to sprinkle them with its vitalizing fluid. This does not, however, reach all the eggs out of so vast a multitude; indeed, if it did, the seas and lakes would soon be filled, seeing that each female produces these eggs in quantities innumerable.2771


(51.) The eggs2772 of fishes grow in the sea; some of them with the greatest rapidity, those of the muræna, for instance; others, again, somewhat more slowly. Those among the flat fishes,2773 whose tails or stings are not in the way, as well as those of the turtle kind, couple the one upon the other: the polypus by attaching one of its feelers to the nostrils2774 of the female, the sæpia and loligo, by means of the tongue; uniting the arms, they then swim contrary ways; these last also bring forth at the mouth. The polypi,2775 however, couple with the head downwards towards the ground, while the rest of the soft2776 fish couple backwards in the same manner as the dog; cray-fish and shrimps do the same, and crabs employ the mouth.

Frogs leap the one upon the other, the male with its fore-feet clasping the armpits of the female, and with its hinder ones the haunches. The female produces tiny pieces of black flesh, which are known by the name of gyrini,2777 and are only463 to be distinguished by the eyes and tail; very soon, however, the feet are developed, and the tail, becoming bifurcate, forms the hind legs. It is a most singular thing, but, after a life of six months’ duration, frogs melt away2778 into slime, though no one ever sees how it is done; after which they come to life again in the water during the spring, just as they were2779 before. This is effected by some occult operation of Nature, and happens regularly every year.

Mussels, also, and scallops are produced in the sand by the spontaneous2780 operations of nature. Those which have a harder shell, such as the murex and the purple, are formed from a viscous fluid like saliva, just as gnats are produced from liquids turned sour,2781 and the fish called the apua,2782 from the foam of the sea when warm, after the fall of a shower.

Those fish, again, which are covered with a stony coat, such as the oyster, are produced from mud in a putrid state, or else from the foam that has collected around ships which have been lying for a long time in the same position, about posts driven into the earth, and more especially around logs of wood.2783 It has been discovered, of late years, in the oyster-beds,2784 that464 the animal discharges an impregnating liquid,2785 which has the appearance of milk. Eels, again, rub themselves against rocks, upon which, the particles2786 which they thus scrape from off their bodies come to life, such being their only means of reproduction. The various kinds of fishes do not couple out of their own kind, with the exception of the squatina and the ray.2787 The fish that is produced from the union of these two, resembles a ray in the fore part, and bears a name among the Greeks compounded of the two.2788

Certain animals are produced only at certain seasons of the year, both in water and on the land, such, for instance, as scallops, snails, and leeches, in the spring, which also disappear at stated periods. Among fishes, the wolf-fish2789 and the trichias2790 bring forth twice in the year, as also do all kinds of rock-fish; the mullet and the chalcis2791 thrice in the year, the cyprinus2792 six times, the scorpæna2793 twice, and the sargus in spring and autumn. Among the flat-fish, the squatina brings forth twice465 a year, being the only2794 one that does so at the setting of the2795 Vergiliæ in autumn. Most fish spawn in the three months of April, May, and June. The salpa brings forth in the autumn, the sargus, the torpedo, and the squalus2796 about the time of the autumnal equinox. The soft fishes2797 bring forth in spring, the sæpia every month in the year; its eggs adhere together with a kind of black glutinous substance, in appearance like a bunch of grapes, and the male is very careful to go among them and breathe2798 upon them, as otherwise they would be barren. The polypi couple in winter, and produce eggs in the spring twisted in spiral clusters, in a similar manner to the tendrils of the vine; and so remarkably prolific are they, that when the animal is killed in a state of pregnancy, the cavities of the head are quite unable to contain the multitude2799 of eggs enclosed therein. They bring forth these eggs at the fiftieth day, but in consequence of the vast number of them, great multitudes perish. Cray-fish, and other sea-animals with a thinner crust, lay their eggs one upon the other, and then sit upon them. The female polypus sometimes sits upon its eggs, and at other times closes the entrance of its retreat by spreading out its feelers, interlaced like a net. The sæpia brings forth on dry land, among reeds or such sea-weed as it may find growing there, and hatches its eggs on the fifteenth day. The loligo produces its eggs out at sea, clustered together like those of the sæpia. The purple,2800 the murex, and other fishes of the same kind, bring forth in the spring. Sea-urchins have their eggs at full moon during the winter; sea-snails2801 also are produced during the winter season.


The torpedo is known to have as many as eighty young466 ones. It produces within itself2802 very soft eggs, which it then transfers to another place in the uterus, and from that part ejects them. The same is the case with all those fish to which we have given the name of cartilaginous; hence it is, that these alone of all the fishes are at once viviparous and oviparous. The male silurus2803 is the only fish among them all that watches the eggs after they are brought forth, often for as long a period as fifty days, that they may not be devoured by other fish. The females of other kinds bring forth their eggs in the course of three days, if the male has only touched them.


The sea-needle,2804 or the belone, is the only fish in which the multitude of its eggs, in spawning, causes the belly to open asunder; but immediately after it has brought forth, the wound heals again: a thing which, it is said, is the case with the blind-worm as well. The sea-mouse2805 digs a hole in the earth, deposits its eggs there, and then covers them up. On the thirtieth day it opens the hole, and leads its young to the water.


The fishes called the erythinus2806 and the channe2807 are said to467 have a womb; and those which by the Greeks are called trochi,2808 it is said, impregnate themselves. The young of all aquatic animals are without sight at their birth.2809


We have lately heard of a remarkable instance of length of life in fish. Pausilypum2810 is the name of a villa in Campania, not far from Neapolis; here, as we learn from the works of M. Annæus Seneca, a fish is known to have died sixty years after it had been placed in the preserves of Cæsar2811 by Vedius Pollio; while others of the same kind, and its equals in age, were living at the time that he wrote. This mention of fish-preserves reminds me that I ought to mention a few more particulars connected with this subject, before we leave the aquatic animals.


The first person who formed artificial oyster-beds was Sergius468 Orata,2812 who established them at Baiæ, in the time of L. Crassus, the orator, just before the Marsic War. This was done by him, not for the gratification of gluttony, but of avarice, as he contrived to make a large income by this exercise of his ingenuity. He was the first, too, to invent hanging baths,2813 and after buying villas and trimming them up, he would every now and then sell them again.2814 He, too, was the first to adjudge the pre-eminence for delicacy of flavour to the oysters of Lake Lucrinus;2815 for every kind of aquatic animal is superior in one place to what it is in another. Thus, for instance, the wolf-fish of the river Tiber is the best that is caught between the two bridges,2816 and the turbot of Ravenna is the most esteemed, the murena of Sicily, the elops of Rhodes; the same, too, as to the other kinds, not to go through all the items of the culinary catalogue. The British2817 shores had not as yet sent their supplies, at the time when Orata thus ennobled the Lucrine oysters: at a later period, however, it was thought worth while to fetch oysters all the way from Brundisium, at the very extremity of Italy; and in order that there might exist no rivalry2818 between the two flavours, a plan has been469 more recently hit upon, of feeding the oysters of Brundisium in Lake Lucrinus, famished as they must naturally be after so long a journey.


In the same age, also, Licinius Murena2819 was the first to form preserves for other fish; and his example was soon followed by the noble families of the Philippi and the Hortensii. Lucullus had a mountain pierced near Naples, at a greater outlay even, than that which had been expended on his villa; and here he formed a channel,2820 and admitted the sea to his preserves; it was for this reason that Pompeius Magnus gave him the name of “Xerxes in a toga.”2821 After his death, the fish in his preserves was sold for the sum of four million sesterces.


C. Hirrus2822 was the first person who formed preserves for the murena; and it was he who lent six thousand of these fishes for the triumphal banquets of Cæsar the Dictator; on which occasion he had them duly weighed, as he declined to receive the value of them in money or any other commodity. His villa, which was of a very humble character in the interior, sold for four millions2823 of sesterces, in consequence of the valuable nature of the stock-ponds there. Next after this, there arose a passion for individual fish. At Bauli,2824 in the territory470 of Baiæ, the orator Hortensius had some fish-preserves, in which there was a murena to which he became so much attached, as to be supposed to have wept on hearing of its death.2825 It was at the same villa that Antonia,2826 the wife of Drusus, placed earrings upon a murena which she had become fond of; the report of which singular circumstance attracted many visitors to the place.


Fulvius Lupinus2827 first formed preserves for sea-snails,2828 in the territory of Tarquinii, shortly before the civil war between Cæsar and Pompeius Magnus. He also carefully distinguished them by their several species, separating them from one another. The white ones were those that are produced in the district of Reate;2829 those of Illyria were remarkable for the largeness of their size; while those from Africa were the most prolific; those, however, from the Promontory of the Sun2830 were the most esteemed of all. For the purpose, also, of fattening them, he invented a mixture of boiled wine,2831 spelt-meal, and other substances; so that fattened periwinkles even became quite an object of gastronomy; and the art of breeding them was brought to such a pitch of perfection, that the shell of a single animal would hold as much as eighty quadrantes.2832 This we learn from M. Varro.


CHAP. 83. (57.)—LAND FISHES.

Besides these, there are still some wonderful kinds of fishes2833 which we find mentioned by Theophrastus: he says, that when the waters subside, which have been admitted for the purposes of irrigation in the vicinity of Babylon, there are certain fish which remain in such holes as may contain water; from these they come forth for the purpose of feeding, moving along with their fins by the aid of a rapid movement of the tail. If pursued, he says, they retreat to their holes, and, when they have reached them, will turn round and make a stand. The head is like that of the sea-frog, while the other parts are similar to those of the gobio,2834 and they have gills like other fish. He says also, that in the vicinity of Heraclea and Cromna,2835 and about the river Lycus, as well as in many parts of the Euxine, there is one kind of fish2836 which frequents the waters near the banks of the rivers, and makes holes for itself, in which it lives, even when the water retires and the bed of the river is dry; for which reason these fishes have to be dug out of the ground, and only show by the movement of the body that they are still alive. He says also, that in the vicinity of the same Heraclea, when the river Lycus ebbs, the eggs are left in the mud, and that the fish, on being produced from these, go forth to seek their food by means of a sort of fluttering motion,—their gills being but very small, in consequence of which they are not in need of water; for this472 reason it is that eels also can live so long out of water;2837 and that their eggs come to maturity on dry land, like those of the sea-tortoise2838. In the same regions also of the Euxine, he says, various kinds of fishes are overtaken by the ice, the gobio more particularly, and they only betray signs of life, by moving when they have warmth applied by the saucepan. All these things, however, though very remarkable, still admit of some explanation. He tells us also, that in Paphlagonia, land fishes are dug up that are most excellent eating; these, he says, are found in deep holes or spots where there is no standing water whatever, and he expresses his surprise at their being thus produced without any contact with moisture, stating it as his opinion, that there is some innate virtue in these holes,2839 similar to that of wells; as if, indeed, fishes really were to be found in wells.2840 However this may be, these facts, at all events, render the life of the mole under ground less a matter for surprise; unless, perhaps, these fishes mentioned by Theophrastus are similar in nature to the earth-worm.


But all these things, singular as they are, are rendered credible by a marvel which exceeds them all, at the time of the inundation of the Nile; for, the moment that it subsides, little mice2841 are found, the first rudiments of which have been473 formed by the generative powers of the waters and the earth: in one part of the body they are already alive, while in that which is of later formation, they are still composed of earth.


Nor would it be right to omit what is said about the fish called anthias, and which I find is looked upon as true by most writers. I have already mentioned2842 the Chelidoniæ, certain islands off the coast of Asia; they are situate off a promontory there, in the midst of a sea full of crags and reefs. These parts are much frequented by this fish, which is very speedily taken by the employment of a single method of catching it. A fisherman pushes out in a little boat, dressed in a colour resembling that of his boat; and every day, for several days together, at the same hour, he sails over the same space, while doing which he throws a quantity of bait into the sea. Whatever is thrown from the boat is an object of suspicion to the fish, who keep at a distance from what causes them so much alarm; but after this has been repeated a considerable number of times, one of the fish, reassured by becoming habituated to the scene, at last snaps at the bait. The movements of this one are watched with the greatest care and attention, for in it are centred all the hopes of the fishermen, as it is to be the means of securing them their prey; nor, indeed, is it difficult to recognize it, seeing that for some days it is the only one that ventures to come near the bait. At last, however, it finds some others to follow its example, and by degrees it is better and better attended, till at last it brings with it shoals innumerable. The older ones, at length becoming quite accustomed to the fisherman, easily recognize him, and will even take food from his hands. Upon this, the man throws out, a little way beyond the tips of his fingers, a hook concealed in a bait, and smuggles them out one by one, rather than catches them, standing in the shadow of the boat and whipping them out of the water with a slight jerk, that the others may not perceive it; while another fisherman is ready inside to receive them upon pieces of cloth, in order that no floundering about or other noise may scare the others away. It is of importance to know474 which has been the betrayer of the others, and not to take it, otherwise the shoal will take to flight, and appear no more for the future.2843 There is a story that a fisherman, having quarrelled once with his mate, threw out a hook to one of these leading fishes, which he easily recognized, and so captured it with a malicious intent. The fish, however, was recognized in the market by the other fisherman, against whom he had conceived this malice; who accordingly brought an action against him for damages;2844 and, as Mucianus adds, he was condemned to pay them on the hearing of the case. These anthiæ, it is said, when they see one of their number taken with a hook, cut the line with the serrated spines which they have on the back, the one that is held fast stretching it out as much as it can, to enable them to cut it. But among the sargi, the fish itself, that is held fast, rubs the line asunder against the rocks.

CHAP. 86. (60.)—SEA-STARS.

In addition to what I have already stated, I find that authors, distinguished for their wisdom, express surprise at finding a star in the sea—for such, in fact, is the form of the animal, which has but very little flesh2845 within, and nothing but a hard skin without. It is said that in this fish there is such a fiery heat, that it scorches everything it meets with in the sea, and instantaneously digests its food. By what experiments2846 all this came to be known, I cannot so easily say; but I am about to make mention of one fact which is more remarkable still, and which we have the opportunity of testing by every day’s experience.



Belonging also to the class of shell-fish is the dactylus,2847 a fish so called from its strong resemblance to the human nails. It is the property of these fish to shine brightly in the dark, when all other lights are removed, and the more moisture they have, the brighter is the light they emit. In the mouth even, while they are being eaten, they give forth their light, and the same too when in the hands; the very drops, in fact, that fall from them on the ground, or on the clothes, are of the same nature. Hence it is beyond a doubt, that it is a liquid that possesses this peculiar property, which, even in a solid body, would be a ground for considerable surprise.


There are also marvellous instances to be found of antipathies and sympathies existing between them. The mullet and the wolf-fish2848 are animated with a mutual hatred; and so too, the conger and the murena gnaw each other’s2849 tails. The cray-fish has so great a dread of the polypus, that if it sees it near, it expires in an instant: the conger dreads the cray-fish; while, again, the conger tears the body of the polypus. Nigidius informs us that the wolf-fish gnaws the tail of the mullet, and yet that, during certain months, they are on terms of friendship; all those, however, which thus lose their tails, survive their misfortune. On the other hand, in addition to those which we have already mentioned as going in company together, an instance of friendship is found in the balæna and the musculus,2850476 for, as the eye-brows of the former are very heavy, they sometimes fall over its eyes, and quite close them by their ponderousness, upon which the musculus swims before, and points out the shallow places which are likely to prove inconvenient to its vast bulk,2851 thus serving it in the stead of eyes. We shall now have to speak of the nature of the birds.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 650.

Roman authors quoted.—Turranius Gracilis,2852 Trogus,2853 Mæcenas,2854 Alfius Flavus,2855 Cornelius Nepos,2856 Laberius the Mimographer,2857 Fabianus,2858 Fenestella,2859 Mucianus,2860 Ælius477 Stilo,2861 Statius Sebosus,2862 Melissus,2863 Seneca,2864 Cicero,2865 Æmilius Macer,2866 Messala Corvinus,2867 Trebius Niger,2868 Nigidius.2869

Foreign authors quoted.—Aristotle,2870 King Archelaus,2871 Callimachus,2872 Democritus,2873 Theophrastus,2874 Thrasyllus,2874 Hegesidemus,2875 Cythnius,2876 Alexander Polyhistor.2877





The history of the birds2878 follows next, the very largest of which, and indeed almost approaching to the nature of quadrupeds, is the ostrich2879 of Africa or2880 Æthiopia. This bird exceeds in height a man sitting on horseback, and can surpass him in swiftness, as wings have been given to aid it in running; in other respects ostriches cannot be considered as birds, and do not raise themselves from the earth. They have cloven talons, very similar to the hoof2881 of the stag; with these they fight, and they also employ them in seizing stones for the purpose of479 throwing2882 at those who pursue them. They have the marvellous property of being able to digest2883 every substance without distinction, but their stupidity2884 is no less remarkable; for although the rest of their body is so large, they imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of the body is concealed. Their eggs2885 are prized on account of their large size, and are employed as vessels for certain purposes, while the feathers of the wing and tail are used as ornaments for the crest and helmet of the warrior.


Æthiopia and India, more especially, produce2886 birds of diversified plumage, and such as quite surpass all description. In the front rank of these is the phœnix,2887 that famous bird of480 Arabia; though I am not quite sure that its existence is not all a fable. It is said that there is only one in existence in the whole world, and that that one has not been seen very often. We are told that this bird is of the size of an eagle,2888 and has a brilliant golden plumage around the neck, while the rest of the body is of a purple colour; except the tail, which is azure, with long feathers intermingled of a roseate hue; the throat is adorned with a crest, and the head with a tuft of feathers. The first Roman who described this bird, and who has done so with the greatest exactness, was the senator Manilius, so famous for his learning; which he owed, too, to the instructions of no teacher. He tells us that no person has ever seen this bird eat, that in Arabia it is looked upon as sacred to the sun, that it lives five hundred and forty years,2889 that when it becomes old it builds a nest of cassia and sprigs of incense, which it fills with perfumes, and then lays its body down upon them to die; that from its bones and marrow there springs at first a sort of small worm, which in time changes into a little bird: that the first thing that it does is to perform the obsequies of its predecessor, and to carry the nest entire to the city of the Sun near Panchaia,2890 and there deposit it upon the altar of that divinity.

The same Manilius states also, that the revolution of the great year2891 is completed with the life of this bird, and that481 then a new cycle comes round again with the same characteristics as the former one, in the seasons and the appearance of the stars; and he says that this begins about mid-day of the day on which the sun enters the sign of Aries. He also tells us that when he wrote to the above effect, in the consulship2892 of P. Licinius and Cneius Cornelius, it was the two hundred and fifteenth year of the said revolution. Cornelius Valerianus says that the phœnix took its flight from Arabia into Egypt in the consulship2893 of Q. Plautius and Sextus Papinius. This bird was brought to Rome in the censorship of the Emperor Claudius, being the year from the building of the City, 800, and it was exposed to public view in the Comitium.2894 This fact is attested by the public Annals, but there is no one that doubts that it was a fictitious phœnix only.


Of all the birds with which we are acquainted, the eagle is looked upon as the most noble, and the most remarkable for its strength. There are six2895 different kinds; the one called “melanaetos”2896 by the Greeks, and “valeria” in our language,482 the least in size of them all, but the most remarkable for its strength, is of a blackish colour. It is the only one among all the eagles that feeds its young; for the others, as we shall mention just now, drive them away; it is the only one too that has neither cry nor murmur; it is an inhabitant of the mountains. The second kind is the pygargus,2897 an inhabitant of the cities and plains, and distinguished by the whiteness of its tail. The third is the morphnos,2898 which Homer also calls the “percnos,” while others, again, call it the “plangus” and the “anataria;” it is the second in size and strength, and dwells in the vicinity of lakes. Phemonoë, who was styled the “daughter of Apollo,” has stated that this eagle has teeth, but that it has neither voice nor tongue; she says also that it is the blackest of all the eagles, and has a longer tail than the rest; Bœus is of the same opinion. This eagle has the instinct to break the shell of the tortoise by letting it fall from aloft, a circumstance which caused the death of the poet Æschylus. An oracle, it is said, had predicted his death on that day by the fall of a house, upon which he took the precaution of trusting himself only under the canopy of the heavens.

The fourth kind of eagle is the “percnopterus,”2899 also called the “oripelargus;”2900 it has much the appearance of the vulture,483 with remarkably small wings, while the rest of the body is larger than the others; but it is of a timid and degenerate nature, so much so, that even a raven can beat it. It is always famishing and ravenous, and has a plaintive murmuring cry. It is the only one among the eagles that will carry off the dead carcase; the others settle on the spot where they have killed their prey. The character of this species causes the fifth one to be known by the distinctive name of “gnesios,”2901 as being the genuine eagle, and the only one of untainted lineage; it is of moderate size, of rather reddish colour, and rarely to be met with. The haliætus2902 is the last, and is remarkable for its bright and piercing eye. It poises itself aloft, and the moment it catches sight of a fish in the sea below, pounces headlong upon it, and cleaving the water with its breast, carries off its prey.

The eagle which we have mentioned as forming the third species, pursues the aquatic birds in the vicinity of standing waters: in order to make their escape they plunge into the water every now and then, until at length they are overtaken by lassitude and sleep, upon which the eagle immediately seizes them. The contest that takes place is really a sight worthy to be seen. The bird makes for the shore to seek a refuge, and especially if there should happen to be a bed of reeds there; while in the meantime the eagle endeavours to drive it away with repeated blows of its wings, and tumbles into the water in its attempts to seize it. While it is standing on the shore its shadow is seen by the bird, which immediately dives beneath, and then making its way in an opposite direction, emerges at some point at which it thinks it is the least likely to be looked for. This is the reason why these birds swim in flocks, for when in large numbers they are in no danger from the enemy; as by dashing up the spray with their wings they blind him.

Again, it often happens that the eagle is not able to carry the bird aloft on account of its weight, and in consequence they both of them sink together. The haliætus, and this one only, beats its young ones while in an unfledged state,484 with its wings, and forces2903 them from time to time to look steadily upon the rays of the sun; and if it sees either of them wink, or even its eye water, it throws it headlong out of the nest, as being spurious and degenerate, while, on the other hand, it rears the one whose gaze remains fixed and steady. The haliætus2904 is not a species of itself, but is an eagle of mixed breed: hence their produce are of the species known as the ossifrage, from which again is produced the smaller vulture; while this in its turn produces the large vulture, which, however, is quite barren.

Some writers add to the above a seventh kind, which they call the “bearded”2905 eagle; the Tuscans, however, call it the ossifrage.


The first three and the fifth class of eagles employ in the construction of their aerie the stone aëtites,2906 by some known as “gangites;” which is employed also for many remedial purposes, and is proof against the action of fire. This stone has the quality also, in a manner, of being pregnant, for when shaken, another stone is heard to rattle within, just as though it were enclosed in its womb; it has no medical properties, however, except immediately after it has been taken from the nest.

Eagles build among rocks and trees; they lay three eggs, and generally hatch but two young ones, though occasionally as many as three have been seen. Being weary of the trouble of rearing both, they drive one of them from the nest: for just at this time the providential foresight of Nature has denied them a sufficiency of food, thereby using due precaution that the young of all the other animals should not become their prey. During this period, also, their talons become reversed, and their feathers grow white from continued hunger, so that it is not to be wondered at that they take a dislike to their485 young. The ossifrage, however, a kindred species, takes charge of the young ones thus rejected, and rears them with its own; but the parent bird still pursues them with hostility, even when grown up, and drives them away, as being its rivals in rapine. And indeed, under any circumstances, one pair of eagles requires a very considerable space of ground to forage over, in order to find sufficient sustenance; for which reason it is that they mark out by boundaries their respective allotments, and seek their prey in succession to one another. They do not immediately carry off their prey, but first deposit it on the ground, and it is only after they have tested its weight that they fly away with it.

They die, not of old age, nor yet of sickness, or of hunger; but the upper part of the beak grows to such an extent, and becomes so curved, that they are unable to open it. They take the wing, and begin upon the labours of the chase at mid-day; sitting in idleness during the hours of the morning, until such time as the places2907 of public resort are filled with people. The feathers of the eagle, if mixed with those of other birds, will consume them.2908 It is said that this is the only bird that has never been killed by lightning; hence it is, that usage has pronounced it to be the armour-bearer of Jove.


Caius Marius, in his second consulship, assigned the eagle exclusively to the Roman legions. Before that period it had only held the first rank, there being four others as well, the wolf, the minotaur, the horse, and the wild boar, each of which preceded a single division.2909 Some few years before his time it had begun to be the custom to carry the eagle only into battle, the other standards being left behind in camp; Marius, however, abolished the rest of them entirely. Since then, it has been remarked that hardly ever has a Roman legion encamped for the winter, without a pair of eagles making their appearance at the spot.

The first and second species of eagle, not only prey upon486 the whole of the smaller quadrupeds, but will attack deer even. Rolling in the dust, the eagle covers its body all over with it, and then perching on the antlers of the animal, shakes the dust into its eyes, while at the same time it beats it on the head with its wings, until the creature at last precipitates itself down the rocks. Nor, indeed, is this one enemy sufficient for it; it has still more terrible combats with the dragon,2910 and the issue is much more doubtful, although the battle is fought in the air. The dragon seeks the eggs of the eagle with a mischievous avidity; while the eagle, in return, carries it off whenever it happens to see it; upon these occasions, the dragon coils itself about the wings of the bird in multiplied folds, until at last they fall to the earth together.


There is a very famous story about an eagle at the city of Sestos. Having been reared by a little girl, it used to testify its gratitude for her kindness, first by bringing her birds, and in due time various kinds of prey: at last she died, upon which the bird threw itself on the lighted pile, and was consumed with her body. In memory of this event, the inhabitants raised upon the spot what they called an heroic monument,2911 in honour of Jupiter and the damsel, the eagle being a bird consecrated to that divinity.


Of the vultures, the black ones2912 are the strongest. No person has yet found a vulture’s nest: hence it is that there are some who have thought, though erroneously, that these birds come from the opposite hemisphere.2913 The fact is, that they build their nest upon the very highest rocks; their young ones, indeed, are often to be seen, being generally two in number. Umbricius, the most skilful among the aruspices of our time, says that the vulture lays thirteen eggs,2914 and that with one of487 these eggs2915 it purifies the others and its nest, and then throws it away: he states also that they hover about for three2916 days, over the spot where carcases are about to be found.


There has been considerable argument among the Roman augurs about the birds known as the “sangualis” and the “immusulus.” Some persons are of opinion that the immusulus is the young of the vulture, and the sangualis that of the ossifrage. Massurius says,2917 that the sangualis is the same as the ossifrage, and that the immusulus is the young of the eagle, before the tail begins to turn white. Some persons have asserted that these birds have not been seen at Rome since the time of the augur Mucius; for my part, I think it much more likely, that, amid that general heedlessness as to all knowledge, which has of late prevailed, no notice has been taken of them.


We find no less than sixteen2918 kinds of hawks mentioned; among these are the ægithus, which is lame2919 of one leg, and is looked upon as the most favourable omen for the augurs on the occasion of a marriage, or in matters connected with property in the shape of cattle: the triorchis also, so called from the number of its testicles,2920 and to which Phemonoë has assigned the first rank in augury. This last is by the Romans known as the “buteo;” indeed there is a family2921 that has taken its surname from it, from the circumstance of this bird having given a favourable omen by settling upon the ship of one of them when he held a command. The Greeks call one488 kind2922 “epileus;” the only one, indeed, that is seen at all seasons of the year, the others taking their departure in the winter.

The various kinds are distinguished by the avidity with which they seize their prey; for while some will only pounce on a bird while on the ground, others will only seize it while hovering round the trees, others, again, while it is perched aloft, and others while it is flying in mid air. Hence it is that pigeons, on seeing them, are aware of the nature of the danger to which they are exposed, and either settle on the ground or else fly upwards, instinctively protecting themselves by taking due precautions against their natural propensities. The hawks of the whole of Massæsylia, breed in Cerne,2923 an island of Africa, lying in the ocean; and none of the kinds that are accustomed to those parts will breed anywhere else.


In the part of Thrace which lies above Amphipolis, men2924 and hawks go in pursuit of prey, in a sort of partnership as it were; for while the men drive the birds from out of the woods and the reed-beds, the hawks bring them down as they fly; and after they have taken the game, the fowlers share it with them. It has been said, that when sent aloft, they will pick2925 out the birds that are wanted, and that when the opportune moment for taking them has come, they invite the fowler to seize the opportunity by their cries and their peculiar mode of flying. The sea-wolves, too, in the Palus Mæotis, do something of a very similar nature; but if they do not receive their fair share from the fishermen, they will tear their nets as they lie extended.2926 Hawks will not2927 eat the heart of a bird. The night-hawk is called cybindis;2928 it is rarely found, even in the489 woods, and in the day-time its sight is not good; it wages war to the death with the eagle, and they are often to be found clasped in each other’s talons.


The cuckoo seems to be but another form of the hawk,2929 which at a certain season of the year changes its shape; it being the fact that during this period no other hawks are to be seen, except, perhaps, for a few days only; the cuckoo, too, itself is only seen for a short period in the summer, and does not make its appearance after. It is the only one among the hawks that has not hooked talons; neither is it like the rest of them in the head, or, indeed, in any other respect, except the colour only, while in the beak it bears a stronger resemblance to the pigeon. In addition to this, it is devoured by the hawk, if they chance at any time to meet; this being the only one among the whole race of birds that is preyed upon by those of its own kind. It changes its voice also with its appearance, comes out in the spring, and goes into retirement at the rising of the Dog-star. It always lays its eggs in the nest of another bird, and that of the ring-dove2930 more especially,—mostly a single egg, a thing that is the case with no other bird; sometimes however, but very rarely, it is known to lay two. It is supposed, that the reason for its thus substituting its young ones, is the fact that it is aware2931 how greatly it is hated by all the other birds; for even the very smallest of them will attack it. Hence it is, that it thinks its own race will stand no chance of being perpetuated unless it contrives to deceive them, and for this reason builds no nest of its own: and besides this, it is a very timid animal. In the meantime, the female bird, sitting on her nest, is rearing a supposititious and spurious progeny; while the young cuckoo, which is naturally craving and greedy, snatches away all the food from the other young ones, and by so doing grows plump and sleek, and quite gains the affections of his foster-mother; who takes a great pleasure in his fine490 appearance, and is quite surprised that she has become the mother of so handsome an offspring. In comparison with him, she discards her own young as so many strangers, until at last, when the young cuckoo is now able to take the wing, he finishes by devouring2932 her. For sweetness of the flesh, there is not a bird in existence to be compared to the cuckoo at this season.

CHAP. 12. (10.)—THE KITE.

The kite, which belongs to the same genus, is distinguished from the rest of the hawks by its larger size. It has been remarked of this bird, extremely ravenous as it is, and always craving, that it has never been known to seize any food either from among funereal oblations or from the altar of Jupiter at Olympia; nor yet, in fact, does it ever seize any of the consecrated viands from the hands of those who are carrying them; except where some misfortune is presaged for the town that is offering the sacrifice. These birds seem to have taught man the art of steering, from the motion of the tail, Nature pointing out by their movements in the air the method required for navigating the deep. Kites also disappear during the winter months, but do not take their departure before the swallow. It is said, also, that after the summer solstice they are troubled with the gout.


The first distinctive characteristic among birds is that which bears reference more especially to their feet: they have either hooked talons, or else toes, or else, again, they belong to the web-footed class, geese for instance, and most of the aquatic birds. Those which have hooked talons feed, for the most part, upon nothing but flesh.


Crows, again, have another kind of food. Nuts being too hard for their beak to break, the crow flies to a great height,491 and then lets them fall again and again upon the stones or tiles beneath, until at last the shell is cracked, after which the bird is able to open them. This is a bird with a very ill-omened garrulity, though it has been highly praised by some.2933 It is observed, that from the rising of the constellation Arcturus until the arrival of the swallow, it is but rarely to be seen about the sacred groves and temples of Minerva; in some places, indeed, not at all, Athens for instance.2934 In addition to these facts, it is the only one that continues to feed its young for some time after they have begun to fly. The crow is most inauspicious at the time of incubation, or, in other words, just after the summer solstice.


All the other birds of the same kind drive their young ones from their nest, and compel them to fly; the raven, for instance, which not only feeds on flesh, but even drives its young, when able to fly, to a still greater distance. Hence it is that in small hamlets there are never more than two2935 pairs to be found; and in the neighbourhood of Crannon, in Thessaly, never more than one, the parents always quitting the spot to give place to their offspring. There have been some differences observed between this and the bird last mentioned. Ravens breed before the summer solstice, and continue in bad health for sixty days—being afflicted with a continual thirst more particularly—before the ripening of the fig in autumn; while, on the other hand, the crow is attacked by disease after that period. The raven lays, at most, but five eggs. It is a vulgar belief, that they couple, or else lay, by means of the beak; and that, consequently, if a pregnant woman happens to eat a raven’s egg, she will be delivered by the mouth. It is also believed, that if the eggs are even so much as brought beneath the roof, a difficult labour will be the consequence. Aristotle denies it, and assures us in all good faith that there is no more truth in this than in the same story about the ibis in Egypt;492 he says that it is nothing else but that same sort of billing that is so often seen in pigeons.2936 Ravens are the only birds that seem to have any comprehension of the meaning of their auspices; for when the guests of Medus2937 were assassinated, they all took their departure from Peloponnesus and the region of Attica. They are of the very worst omen when they swallow their voice, as if they were being choked.


The birds of the night also have crooked talons, such as the owlet,2938 the horned owl, and the screech-owl, for instance; the sight of all of which is defective in the day-time. The horned owl is especially funereal, and is greatly abhorred in all auspices of a public nature: it inhabits deserted places, and not only desolate spots, but those of a frightful and inaccessible nature: the monster of the night, its voice is heard, not with any tuneful note, but emitting a sort of shriek. Hence it is that it is looked upon as a direful omen to see it in a city, or even so much as in the day-time. I know, however, for a fact, that it is not portentous of evil when it settles on the top of a private house. It cannot fly whither it wishes in a straight line, but is always carried along by a sidelong movement. A horned owl entered the very sanctuary of the Capitol, in the consulship of Sextus Palpelius Hister and L. Pedanius; in consequence of which, Rome was purified on the nones2939 of March in that year.


An inauspicious bird also is that known as the “incendiary;”2940493 on account of which, we find in the Annals, the City has had to be repeatedly purified; as, for instance, in the consulship of L. Cassius and C. Marius,2941 in which year also it was purified, in consequence of a horned owl being seen. What kind of bird this incendiary bird was, we do not find stated, nor is it known by tradition. Some persons explain the term this way; they say that the name “incendiary” was applied to every bird that was seen carrying a burning coal from the pyre, or altar; while others, again, call such a bird a “spinturnix”;2942 though I never yet found any person who said that he knew what kind of bird this spinturnix was.

(14.) I find also that the people of our time are ignorant what bird it was that was called by the ancients a “clivia.” Some persons say that it was a clamatory, others, again, that it was a prohibitory, bird. We also find a bird mentioned by Nigidius as the “subis,” which breaks the eggs of the eagle.

(15.) In addition to the above, there are many other kinds that are described in the Etruscan ritual, but which no one now living has ever seen. It is surprising that these birds are no longer in existence, since we find that even those kinds abound, among which the gluttony of man commits such ravages.


Among foreigners, a person called Hylas is thought to have written the best treatise on the subject of augury. He informs us that the owlet, the horned owl, the woodpecker, which makes holes in trees, the trygon, and the crow, are produced from the egg with the tail2943 first; for the egg, being turned upside down through the weight of the head of the chick, presents the wrong end to be warmed by the mother as she sits upon it.


CHAP. 19. (17.)—THE OWLET.

The owlet shows considerable shrewdness in its engagements with other birds; for when surrounded by too great a number, it throws itself on its back, and so, resisting with its feet, and rolling up its body into a mass, defends itself with the beak and talons; until the hawk, attracted by a certain natural affinity, comes to its assistance, and takes its share in the combat. Nigidius says, that the incubation of the owlet lasts sixty days, during the winter, and that it has nine different notes.


There are some small birds also, which have hooked talons; the wood-pecker, for example, surnamed “of Mars,” of considerable importance in the auspices. To this kind belong the birds which make holes in trees, and climb stealthily up them, like cats; mounting with the head upwards, they tap against the bark, and learn by the sound whether or not their food lies beneath; they are the only birds that hatch their young in the hollows of trees. It is a common belief, that if a shepherd drives a wedge into their holes, they apply a certain kind of herb,2944 immediately upon which it falls out. Trebius informs us that if a nail or wedge is driven with ever so much force into a tree in which these birds have made their nest, it will instantly fly out, the tree making a loud cracking noise the moment that the bird has lighted upon the nail or wedge.

These birds have held the first rank in auguries, in Latium, since the time of the king2945 who has given them their name. One of the presages that was given by them, I cannot pass over in silence. A woodpecker came and lighted upon the head of Ælius Tubero, the City prætor, when sitting on his tribunal dispensing justice in the Forum, and showed such tameness as to allow itself to be taken with the hand; upon which the augurs declared that if it was let go, the state was menaced with danger, but if killed, disaster would befall495 the prætor; in an instant he tore the bird to pieces, and before long the omen was fulfilled.2946


Many birds of this kind feed also on acorns and fruit, but only those which are not carnivorous, with the exception of the kite; though when it feeds on anything but flesh, it is a bird of ill omen.

The birds which have hooked talons are never gregarious; each one seeks its prey by itself. They nearly all of them soar to a great height, with the exception of the birds of the night, and more especially those of larger size. They all have large wings, and a small body; they walk with difficulty, and rarely settle upon stones, being prevented from doing so by the curved shape of their talons.

CHAP. 22. (20.)—THE PEACOCK.

We shall now speak of the second class of birds, which is divided into two kinds; those which give omens2947 by their note, and those which afford presages by their flight. The variation of the note in the one, and the relative size in the other, constitute the differences between them. These last, therefore, shall be treated of first, and the peacock shall have precedence of all the rest, as much for its singular beauty as its superior instinct, and the vanity it displays.

When it hears itself praised, this bird spreads out its gorgeous colours, and especially if the sun happens to be shining at the time, because then they are seen in all their radiance, and to better advantage. At the same time, spreading out its tail in the form of a shell, it throws the reflection upon the other feathers, which shine all the more brilliantly when a shadow is cast upon them; then at another moment it will contract all the eyes2948 depicted upon its feathers in a single496 mass, manifesting great delight in having them admired by the spectator. The peacock loses its tail every year at the fall of the leaf, and a new one shoots forth in its place at the flower season; between these periods the bird is abashed and moping, and seeks retired spots. The peacock lives twenty-five years, and begins to show its colours in the third. By some authors it is stated that this bird is not only a vain creature, but of a spiteful disposition also, just in the same way that they attribute bashfulness to the goose.2949 The characteristics, however, which they have thus ascribed to these birds, appear to me to be utterly unfounded.


The orator Hortensius was the first Roman who had the peacock killed for table; it was on the occasion of the banquet given by him on his inauguration in the college of the priesthood. M. Aufidius Lurco2950 was the first who taught the art of fattening them, about the time of the last war with the Pirates. From this source of profit he acquired an income of sixty thousand sesterces.2951


Next after the peacock, the animal that acts as our watchman by night, and which Nature has produced for the purpose of arousing mortals to their labours, and dispelling their slumbers, shows itself most actuated by feelings of vanity. The cock knows how to distinguish the stars, and marks the different periods of the day, every three hours, by his note. These animals go to roost with the setting of the sun, and at the fourth watch of the camp recall man to his cares and toils. They do not allow the rising of the sun to creep upon us unawares, but by their note proclaim the coming day, and they prelude their crowing by clapping their sides with their wings. They exercise a rigorous sway over the other birds of their497 kind, and, in every place where they are kept, hold the supreme command. This, however, is only obtained after repeated battles among themselves, as they are well aware that they have weapons on their legs, produced for that very purpose, as it were, and the contest often ends in the death of both the combatants at the same moment. If, on the other hand, one of them obtains the mastery, he instantly by his note proclaims himself the conqueror, and testifies by his crowing that he has been victorious; while his conquered opponent silently slinks away, and, though with a very bad grace, submits to servitude. And with equal pride does the throng of the poultry yard strut along, with head uplifted and crest erect. These, too, are the only ones among the winged race that repeatedly look up to the heavens, with the tail, which in its drooping shape resembles that of a sickle, raised aloft: and so it is that these birds inspire terror even in the lion,2952 the most courageous of all animals.

Some of these birds, too, are reared for nothing but warfare and perpetual combats, and have even shed a lustre thereby on their native places, Rhodes and Tanagra. The next rank is considered to belong to those of Melos2953 and Chalcis. Hence, it is not without very good reason that the consular purple of Rome pays these birds such singular honours. It is from the feeding of these creatures that the omens2954 by fowls are derived; it is these that regulate2955 day by day the movements of our magistrates, and open or shut to them their own houses, as the case may be; it is these that give an impulse to the fasces of the Roman magistracy, or withhold them; it is these that command battles or forbid them, and furnish auspices for victories to be gained in every part of the world. It is these that hold supreme rule over those who are themselves the rulers of the earth, and whose entrails and fibres are as pleasing to the gods as the first spoils of victory. Their note, when heard at an unusual hour or in the evening, has also its peculiar presages; for, on one occasion, by crowing the whole night through for several nights, they presaged to the Bœotians that famous498 victory2956 which they gained over the Lacedæmonians; such, in fact, being the interpretation that was put upon it by way of prognostic, as this bird, when conquered, is never known to crow.


When castrated, cocks cease to crow. This operation is performed two different ways. Either the loins of the animal are seared with a red-hot iron, or else the lower part of the legs; after which, the wound is covered up with potter’s clay: this way they are fattened much more easily. At Pergamus,2957 there is every year a public show of fights of game-cocks, just as in other places we have those of gladiators.

We find it stated in the Roman Annals, that in the2958 consulship of M. Lepidus and Q. Catulus a dung-hill cock spoke, at the farm-house of Galerius; the only occasion, in fact, that I know of.

CHAP. 26. (22.)—THE GOOSE.

The goose also keeps a vigilant guard; a fact which is well attested by the defence of the Capitol, at a moment when, by the silence of the dogs, the commonwealth had been betrayed:2959 for which reason it is that the Censors always, the first thing of all, attend to the farming-out of the feeding of the sacred geese. What is still more, too, there is a love-story about this animal. At Ægium one is said to have conceived a passion for a beautiful boy, a native of Olenos,2960 and another for Glauce, a damsel who was lute-player to King Ptolemy; for whom at the same time a ram is said also to have conceived a passion. One might almost be tempted to think that these creatures have an appreciation of wisdom:2961 for it is said, that one of499 them was the