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Title: The Natural History of Pliny — Volume 2 of 6
Author: Pliny, the Elder
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Natural History of Pliny — Volume 2 of 6" ***

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Transcriber’s Notes:—

Italic text is denoted _thus_.

The spelling, hyphenation, punctuation and accentuation are as the
original, except for apparent typographical errors which have been

Further notes can be found at the end of the book.







  H. T. RILEY, Esq., B.A.,

  VOL. II.







  Chap.                                                         Page

  1. The Euxine and the Maryandini                                 1

  2. Paphlagonia                                                   3

  3. Cappadocia                                                    6

  4. The region of Themiscyra, and the nations therein             8

  5. The region of Colica, the nations of the Achæi, and other
       nations in the same parts                                  11

  6. The Cimmerian Bosporus                                       13

  7. Lake Mæotis and the adjoining nations                        14

  8. The situation of Cappadocia                                  16

  9. The Lesser and the Greater Armenia                           17

  10. The rivers Cyrus and Araxes                                 18

  11. Albania, Iberia, and the adjoining nations                  20

  12. The passes of the Caucasus                                  21

  13. The islands of the Euxine                                   22

  14. Nations in the vicinity of the Scythian Ocean               23

  15. The Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea                               24

  16. Adiabene                                                    27

  17. Media and the Caspian Gates                                 28

  18. Nations situate around the Hyrcanian Sea                    30

  19. The nations of Scythia and the countries on the Eastern
        Ocean                                                     33

  20. The Seres                                                   35

  21. The nations of India                                        38

  22. The Ganges                                                  43

  23. The Indus                                                   46

  24. Taprobane                                                   51

  25. The Ariani and the adjoining nations                        56

  26. Voyages to India                                            60

  27. Carmania                                                    66

  28. The Persian and the Arabian Gulfs                          _ib._

  29. The Parthian Empire                                         68

  30. Mesopotamia                                                 70

  31. The Tigris                                                  75

  32. Arabia                                                      82

  33. The Gulfs of the Red Sea                                    91

  34. Troglodytice                                                93

  35. Æthiopia                                                    97

  36. Islands of the Æthiopian Sea                               105

  37. The Fortunate Islands                                      107

  38. The comparative distances of places on the face of the
        earth                                                    108

  39. Division of the earth into parallels and shadows of equal
        length                                                   110



  1. Man                                                         117

  2. The wonderful forms of different nations                    122

  3. Marvellous births                                           135

  4. The generation of man; the unusual duration of pregnancy;
       instances of it from seven to twelve months               139

  5. Indications of the sex of the child during the pregnancy
       of the mother                                             141

  6. Monstrous births                                            142

  7. Of those who have been cut out of the womb                  143

  8. Who were called Vopisci                                     144

  9. The conception and generation of man                        _ib._

  10. Striking instances of resemblance                          145

  11. What men are suited for generation. Instances of very
        numerous offspring                                       148

  12. At what age generation ceases                              150

  13. Remarkable circumstances connected with the menstrual
        discharge                                                _ib._

  14. The theory of generation                                   153

  15. Some account of the teeth, and some facts concerning
        infants                                                  _ib._

  16. Examples of unusual size                                   155

  17. Children remarkable for their precocity                    158

  18. Some remarkable properties of the body                     _ib._

  19. Instances of extraordinary strength                        160

  20. Instances of remarkable agility                            161

  21. Instances of acuteness of sight                            162

  22. Instances of remarkable acuteness of hearing               163

  23. Instances of endurance of pain                             164

  24. Memory                                                     _ib._

  25. Vigour of mind                                             166

  26. Clemency and greatness of mind                             _ib._

  27. Heroic exploits                                            167

  28. Union in the same person of three of the highest
        qualities with the greatest purity                       169

  29. Instances of extreme courage                               170

  30. Men of remarkable genius                                   173

  31. Men who have been remarkable for wisdom                    174

  32. Precepts the most useful in life                           178

  33. Divination                                                 179

  34. The man who was pronounced to be the most excellent        _ib._

  35. The most chaste matrons                                    180

  36. Instances of the highest degree of affection               _ib._

  37. Names of men who have excelled in the arts, astrology,
        grammar, and medicine                                    182

  38. Geometry and architecture                                  183

  39. Painting; engraving on bronze, marble, and ivory;
        carving                                                  184

  40. Slaves for which a high price has been given               185

  41. Supreme happiness                                          186

  42. Rare instances of good fortune continuing in the same
        family                                                   187

  43. Remarkable example of vicissitudes                         189

  44. Remarkable examples of honours                             _ib._

  45. Ten very fortunate circumstances which have happened to
        the same person                                          191

  46. The misfortunes of Augustus                                195

  47. Men whom the gods have pronounced to be the most happy     199

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

  49. The greatest length of life                                200

  50. The variety of destinies at the birth of man               203

  51. Various instances of diseases                              206

  52. Death                                                      208

  53. Persons who have come to life again after being laid out
        for burial                                               210

  54. Instances of sudden death                                  213

  55. Burial                                                     217

  56. The Manes, or departed spirits of the soul                 218

  57. The inventors of various things                            219

  58. The things about which mankind first of all agreed. The
        ancient letters                                          236

  59. When barbers were first employed                           _ib._

  60. When the first time-pieces were made                       237



  1. Elephants; their capacity                                   244

  2. When elephants were first put into harness                  245

  3. The docility of the elephant                                246

  4. Wonderful things which have been done by the elephant       247

  5. The instinct of wild animals in perceiving danger           248

  6. When elephants were first seen in Italy                     251

  7. The combats of elephants                                    252

  8. The way in which elephants are caught                       255

  9. The method by which they are tamed                          256

  10. The birth of the elephant, and other particulars
        respecting it                                            257

  11. In what countries the elephant is found; the antipathy
        of the elephant and the dragon                           259

  12. The sagacity of these animals                              260

  13. Dragons                                                    261

  14. Serpents of remarkable size                                _ib._

  15. The animals of Scythia; the bison                          262

  16. The animals of the north; the elk, the achlis, and the
        bonasus                                                  263

  17. Lions; how they are produced                               264

  18. The different species of lions                             266

  19. The peculiar character of the lion                         267

  20. Who it was that first introduced combats of lions at
        Rome, and who has brought together the greatest number
        of lions for that purpose                                269

  21. Wonderful feats performed by lions                         270

  22. A man recognized and saved by a dragon                     273

  23. Panthers                                                   274

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

  25. Tigers: when first seen at Rome; their nature              275

  26. Camels; the different kinds                                276

  27. The cameleopard; when it was first seen at Rome            277

  28. The chama, and the cepus                                   _ib._

  29. The rhinoceros                                             278

  30. The lynx, the sphinx, the crocotta, and the monkey         _ib._

  31. The terrestrial animals of India                           280

  32. The animals of Æthiopia; a wild beast which kills with
        its eye                                                  281

  33. The serpents called basilisks                              282

  34. Wolves; the origin of the story of Versipellis             _ib._

  35. Different kinds of serpents                                284

  36. The ichneumon                                              287

  37. The crocodile                                              _ib._

  38. The scincus                                                288

  39. The hippopotamus                                           290

  40. Who first exhibited the hippopotamus and the crocodile
        at Rome                                                  _ib._

  41. The medicinal remedies which have been borrowed from
        animals                                                  291

  42. Prognostics of danger derived from animals                 294

  43. Nations that have been exterminated by animals             295

  44. The hyæna                                                  296

  45. The crocotta; the mantichora                               _ib._

  46. Wild asses                                                 297

  47. Beavers; amphibious animals; otters                        _ib._

  48. Bramble-frogs                                              298

  49. The sea-calf; beavers; lizards                             _ib._

  50. Stags                                                      299

  51. The chameleon                                              302

  52. Other animals which change colour; the tarandus, the
        lycaon, and the thos                                     304

  53. The porcupine                                              305

  54. Bears and their cubs                                       _ib._

  55. The mice of Pontus and of the Alps                         308

  56. Hedgehogs                                                  _ib._

  57. The leontophonus, and the lynx                             310

  58. Badgers and squirrels                                      _ib._

  59. Vipers and snails                                          311

  60. Lizards                                                    312

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

  62. The generation of the dog                                  316

  63. Remedies against canine madness                            _ib._

  64. The nature of the horse                                    317

  65. The disposition of the horse; remarkable facts concerning
        chariot horses                                           319

  66. The generation of the horse                                320

  67. Mares impregnated by the wind                              322

  68. The ass; its generation                                    _ib._

  69. The nature of mules, and of other beasts of burden         324

  70. Oxen; their generation                                     326

  71. The Egyptian Apis                                          330

  72. Sheep, and their propagation                               331

  73. The different kinds of wool, and their colours             333

  74. Different kinds of cloth                                   336

  75. The different shapes of sheep; the musmon                  338

  76. Goats, and their propagation                               339

  77. The hog                                                    342

  78. The wild boar; who was the first to establish parks for
        wild animals                                             344

  79. Animals in a half-wild state                               346

  80. Apes                                                       347

  81. The different species of hares                             348

  82. Animals which are tamed in part only                       350

  83. Places in which certain animals are not to be found        352

  84. Animals which injure strangers only, as also animals
        which injure the natives of the country only, and where
        they are found                                           353



  1. Why the largest animals are found in the sea                358

  2. The sea monsters of the Indian Ocean                        359

  3. The largest animals that are found in each ocean            361

  4. The forms of the Tritons and Nereids. The forms of
       sea-elephants                                             362

  5. The balæna and the orca                                     365

  6. Whether fishes respire, and whether they sleep              367

  7. Dolphins                                                    369

  8. Human beings who have been beloved by dolphins              371

  9. Places where dolphins help men to fish                      374

  10. Other wonderful things relating to dolphins                376

  11. The tursio                                                 377

  12. Turtles; the various kinds of turtles, and how they are
        caught                                                   _ib._

  13. Who first invented the art of cutting tortoise-shell       379

  14. Distribution of aquatic animals into various species       _ib._

  15. Those which are covered with hair, or have none, and
        how they bring forth. Sea-calves, or phocæ               380

  16. How many kinds of fish there are                           381

  17. Which of the fishes are of the largest size                382

  18. Tunnies, cordyla, and pelamides, and the various parts
        of them that are salted. Melandrya, apolecti, and cybia  385

  19. The aurias and the scomber                                 386

  20. Fishes which are never found in the Euxine; those which
        enter it and return                                      387

  21. Why fishes leap above the surface of the water             390

  22. That auguries are derived from fishes                      391

  23. What kinds of fishes have no males                         _ib._

  24. 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            392

  25. Fishes which conceal themselves during the summer; those
        which are influenced by the stars                        396

  26. The mullet                                                 397

  27. The acipenser                                              398

  28. The lupus, the asellus                                     399

  29. The scarus, the mustela                                    400

  30. The various kinds of mullets, and the sargus that attends
        them                                                     401

  31. Enormous prices of some fish                               403

  32. That the same kinds are not everywhere equally esteemed    404

  33. Gills and scales                                           405

  34. Fishes which have a voice.—Fishes without gills            406

  35. Fishes which come on land; the proper time for catching
        fish                                                     _ib._

  36. Classification of fishes, according to the shape of the
        body                                                     407

  37. The fins of fish, and their mode of swimming               408

  38. Eels                                                       409

  39. The murena                                                 _ib._

  40. Various kinds of flat fish                                 411

  41. The echeneis, and its uses in enchantments                 412

  42. Fishes which change their colour                           414

  43. Fishes which fly above the water—the sea-swallow—the
        fish that shines in the night—the horned fish—the
        sea-dragon                                               415

  44. Fishes which have no blood.—Fishes known as soft fish      416

  45. The sæpia, the loligo, the scallop                         417

  46. The polypus                                                _ib._

  47. The nautilus, or sailing polypus                           419

  48. The various kinds of polypi; their shrewdness              _ib._

  49. The sailing nauplius                                       422

  50. Sea-animals which are enclosed with a crust; the
        cray-fish                                                423

  51. The various kinds of crabs; the pinnotheres, the sea
        urchin, cockles, and scallops                            424

  52. Various kinds of shell-fish                                428

  53. What numerous appliances of luxury are found in the sea    429

  54. Pearls; how they are produced, and where                   430

  55. How pearls are found                                       433

  56. The various kinds of pearls                                434

  57. Remarkable facts connected with pearls—their nature        436

  58. Instances of the use of pearls                             437

  59. How pearls first came into use at Rome                     440

  60. The nature of the murex and the purple                     441

  61. The different kinds of purples                             443

  62. How wools are dyed with the juices of the purple           445

  63. When purple was first used at Rome; when the laticlave
        vestment and the prætexta were first worn                447

  64. Fabrics called conchyliated                                448

  65. The amethyst, the Tyrian, the hysginian, and the crimson
        tints                                                    449

  66. The pinna, and the pinnotheres                             450

  67. The sensitiveness of water-animals; the torpedo, the
        pastinaca, the scolopendra, the glanis, and the
        ram-fish                                                 451

  68. Bodies which have a third nature, that of the animal and
        vegetable combined—the sea-nettle                        453

  69. Sponges; the various kinds of them, and where they are
        produced: proofs that they are gifted with life by
        nature                                                   454

  70. Dog-fish                                                   456

  71. Fishes which are enclosed in a stony shell—sea-animals
        which have no sensation—other animals which live in
        the mud                                                  458

  72. Venomous sea-animals                                       459

  73. The maladies of fishes                                     460

  74. The generation of fishes                                   461

  75. Fishes which are both oviparous and viviparous             465

  76. Fishes the belly of which opens in spawning, and then
        closes again                                             466

  77. Fishes which have a womb; those which impregnate
        themselves                                               _ib._

  78. The longest lives known amongst fishes                     467

  79. The first person that formed artificial oyster-beds        _ib._

  80. Who was the first inventor of preserves for other fish     469

  81. Who invented preserves for murenæ                          _ib._

  82. Who invented preserves for sea-snails                      470

  83. Land-fishes                                                471

  84. The mice of the Nile                                       472

  85. How the fish called the anthias is taken                   473

  86. Sea-stars                                                  474

  87. The marvellous properties of the dactylus                  475

  88. The antipathies and sympathies that exist between aquatic
        animals                                                  _ib._



  1. The ostrich                                                 478

  2. The phœnix                                                  479

  3. The different kinds of eagles                               481

  4. The natural characteristics of the eagle                    484

  5. When the eagle was first used as the standard of the Roman
       legions                                                   485

  6. An eagle which precipitated itself on the funeral pile of
       a girl                                                    486

  7. The vulture                                                 _ib._

  8. The birds called sangualis and immusulus                    487

  9. Hawks. The buteo                                            _ib._

  10. In what places hawks and men pursue the chase in company
        with each other                                          488

  11. The only bird that is killed by those of its own kind.—A
        bird that lays only one egg                              489

  12. The kite                                                   490

  13. The classification of birds                                _ib._

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

  15. The raven                                                  491

  16. The horned owl                                             492

  17. Birds, the race of which is extinct, or of which all
        knowledge has been lost                                  _ib._

  18. Birds which are born with the tail first                   493

  19. The owlet                                                  494

  20. The wood-pecker of Mars                                    _ib._

  21. Birds which have hooked talons                             495

  22. The peacock                                                _ib._

  23. Who was the first to kill the peacock for food. Who first
        taught the art of cramming them                          496

  24. The dunghill cock                                          _ib._

  25. How cocks are castrated. A cock that once spoke            498

  26. The goose                                                  _ib._

  27. Who first taught us to use the liver of the goose for food 499

  28. The Commagenian medicament                                 500

  29. The chenalopex, the cheneros, the tetrao, and the otis     _ib._

  30. Cranes                                                     501

  31. Storks                                                     502

  32. Swans                                                      _ib._

  33. Foreign birds which visit us; the quail, the glottis, the
        cychramus, and the otus                                  503

  34. Swallows                                                   505

  35. 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                                _ib._

  36. Birds which remain with us throughout the year; birds
        which remain with us only six or three months;
        whitwalls and hoopoes                                    506

  37. The Memnonides                                             _ib._

  38. The Meleagrides                                            507

  39. The Seleucides                                             _ib._

  40. The ibis                                                   _ib._

  41. Places in which certain birds are never found              _ib._

  42. The various kinds of birds which afford omens by their
        note. Birds which change their colour and their voice    509

  43. The nightingale                                            _ib._

  44. The melancoryphus, the erithacus, and the phœnicurus       511

  45. The œnanthe, the chlorion, the blackbird, and the ibis     _ib._

  46. The times of incubation of birds                           512

  47. The halcyones: the halcyon days that are favourable to
        navigation                                               _ib._

  48. Other kinds of aquatic birds                               513

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

  50. The acanthyllis and other birds                            515

  51. The merops—partridges                                      516

  52. Pigeons                                                    517

  53. Wonderful things done by them; prices at which they
        have been sold                                           519

  54. Different modes of flight and progression in birds         520

  55. The birds called apodes or cypseli                         521

  56. Respecting the food of birds—the caprimulgus, the platea   _ib._

  57. The instincts of birds—the carduelis, the taurus, the
        anthus                                                   522

  58. Birds which speak—the parrot                               _ib._

  59. The pie which feeds on acorns                              523

  60. A sedition that arose among the Roman people, in
        consequence of a raven speaking                          524

  61. The birds of Diomedes                                      526

  62. Animals that can learn nothing                             _ib._

  63. The mode of drinking with birds. The porphyrio             527

  64. The hæmatopous                                             _ib._

  65. The food of birds                                          _ib._

  66. The pelican                                                _ib._

  67. Foreign birds: the phalerides, the pheasant, and the
        numidicæ                                                 528

  68. The phœnicopterus, the attagen, the phalacrocorax, the
        pyrrhocorax, and the lagopus                             _ib._

  69. The new birds. The vipio                                   529

  70. Fabulous birds                                             530

  71. Who first invented the art of cramming poultry: why the
        first Censors forbade this practice                      531

  72. Who first invented aviaries. The dish of Æsopus            _ib._

  73. The generation of birds: other oviparous animals           532

  74. The various kinds of eggs, and their nature                _ib._

  75. Defects in brood-hens, and their remedies                  535

  76. An augury derived from eggs by an empress                  _ib._

  77. The best kinds of fowls                                    536

  78. The diseases of fowls, and their remedies                  537

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

  80. What eggs are called hypenemia, and what cynosura. How
        eggs are best kept                                       539

  81. The only winged animal that is viviparous, and nurtures
      its young with its milk                                    540

  82. Terrestrial animals that are oviparous. Various kinds of
        serpents                                                 _ib._

  83. Generation of all kinds of terrestrial animals             _ib._

  84. The position of animals in the uterus                      544

  85. Animals whose origin is still unknown                      _ib._

  86. Salamanders                                                545

  87. 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        546

  88. 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                                         _ib._

  89. Which fishes have the best hearing                         547

  90. Which fishes have the finest sense of smell.               _ib._

  91. Diversities in the feeding of animals                      548

  92. Animals which live on poisons                              _ib._

  93. Animals which live on earth—animals which will not die of
        hunger or thirst                                         549

  94. Diversities in the drinking of animals                     550

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

  96. Instances of affection shown by serpents                   552

  97. The sleep of animals                                       _ib._

  98. What animals are subject to dreams                         553





The Euxine[1] 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
lakes[3] 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 of nature—that of the
Hellespont,[4] being only eight hundred and seventy-five paces in
width, while at the two Bospori[5] the passage across may be effected
by oxen[6] 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

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 famous river, which rises
in Phrygia and receives the waters of other rivers of vast magnitude,
among which are the Tembrogius[13] and the Gallus,[14] the last of
which is by many called the Sangarius. After leaving the Sagaris
the Gulf of the Mariandyni[15] 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 Acone[18] 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 the 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 Cimolis[28] 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,[33] and after that a people of the Cappadocians, the towns
of Gaziura[34] and Gazelum,[35] the river Halys,[36] which runs from
the foot of Mount Taurus through Cataonia and Cappadocia, the towns of
Gangre[37] 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 extent[40] as to make Asia assume the form of a peninsula,
the isthmus of which is only some two hundred[41] 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.


Cappadocia[44] 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,[55] Zela,[56] and at the foot of Mount Argæus[57] 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 Themiscyra[65] 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
Triarius[67] 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,[76] the town of Cerasus,[77] the port
of Chordule, the nations called the Bechires[78] and the Buzeri, the
river Melas,[79] the people called the Macrones, and Sidene with its
river Sidenus,[80] by which the town of Polemonium[81] is washed, at
a distance from Amisus of one hundred and twenty miles. We next come
to the rivers Iasonius[82] 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
Armenochalybes[87] and the 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 Sanni[88] 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 Phasis[97] at its
mouth. But the most celebrated of them all was Æa, fifteen miles[98]
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, which 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 already[100]
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
Chobus[105] 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] in
which the mountain chain of Caucasus bends away towards the Riphæan
mountains, as we have previously[114] 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 charioteers[117] 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 part[123] of this district there
was Pityus,[124] a city of very considerable opulence, but 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 Mithridates[125] took refuge
in the reign of the Emperor Claudius: and from him we learn that the
Thalli[126] join up to them, a people who border on the eastern side
upon the mouth[127] 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
Sindos[129] 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 peninsula[130] which projects between the 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 mentioned[138] in the
description of Europe.


After passing Cimmerium, the coast[139] 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 discharges 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 is[149] a city also at the mouth of the Tanais. 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 Cathæan[152] 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 the Inner[153] 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, this[155] extends the greatest distance
into the interior.[156] On the left[157] 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 Asia[158] here is twelve
hundred and fifty miles, its breadth six hundred and forty.[159]


Greater Armenia,[160] beginning at the mountains known as the
Paryadres,[161] is separated, as we have already stated,[162] from
Cappadocia by the river Euphrates, and, where that river turns off[163]
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 Cyrus[168] 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 waters 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, Carcathiocerta[174] upon the Tigris, Tigranocerta[175]
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 Dascusa[177] to the borders of the Caspian Sea,
thirteen[178] 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 hundred 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 left[182] 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 Caucasian chain. The chief cities are
Cabalaca,[188] in Albania, Harmastis,[189] near a river[190] 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
these[191] 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 pair 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 instance[195] 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
fifty[196] miles, and that Nicator Seleucus[197] 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 name[200] in Europe; it is
four miles in circumference, and one mile distant from the mainland.
Opposite to Pharnacea[201] is Chalceritis, to which the Greeks have
given the name of Aria,[202] and consecrated it to Mars; here, they
say, there were birds that used to attack strangers with blows of their


Having now stated all that bears reference to the interior of Asia,
let us cross in imagination the Riphæan[203] 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 point[204] where
the sun rises in the summer, it is the country of the Scythians. Still
further than them, and beyond[205] 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,[207] 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 sacred[212] 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 the 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 Cadusia[216] 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 Jaxartes[217] 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 first[221] 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 into 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
along[224] 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
Casius[227] 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

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 mentioned[231]
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, whereas 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
descent[232] 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 Mygdonia[234] 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] which is separated from Otene, a region
of Armenia, by the river Araxes; Gazæ[239] 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 built[241] 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, 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 side[247]
of these gates we come to the deserts[248] of Parthia and the mountain
chain of Cithenus; and after that, the most pleasant locality of all
Parthia, Choara[249] 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 formerly[251] 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 left there is a mountainous
district. Turning back[253] 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
hundred[254] 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 eighty[255] stadia, to the
city of Bactra,[256] commonly called Zariaspa, three thousand seven
hundred, and thence to the river Jaxartes[257] 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 Sideris[261] 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 comes 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 the
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 Oxus[276] 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 river[278] there.
This last nation lies at the 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


Beyond this river are the peoples of Scythia. The Persians have called
them by the general name of Sacæ,[284] which properly 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 the Œtei;
among them the Napæi[292] 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 sea[293] 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 it[296] 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 the turn here taken by the
line of the coast. The first portion[298] 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

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 task[303]
of unravelling their textures, and of weaving 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
display[304] 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 approach[305]
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 feed 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 Cicones[308] and the Brysari.


But we come now to nations as to which there is a more general
agreement among writers. Where the chain of Emodus[309] rises, the
nations of India begin, which borders not only on the Eastern sea,
but on the Southern as well, which we have already mentioned[310] 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 refreshed 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 Etesian[313] 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 they 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 Liber[316] 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 stadia[317] 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 treatise[319]
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 already[320] 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, one 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 Cophes[326] and
Peucolaitis, a city of India, is two hundred and thirty-seven miles;
from thence to the river Indus and the city of Taxilla[327] sixty; from
thence to the famous river Hydaspes[328] 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 altars[330] 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, add 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
Jomanes[333] 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 Calingæ[338]
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, and 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 Gangarides[345] 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, always[349] end their life by a voluntary death upon
the lighted pile. In addition to these, there is a class[350] 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 hunt[351] 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 conveyed 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 Dardæ[354] 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 these 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 Bear[357] 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 Methora[358] and Chrysobora.[359]
In the regions which lie to the south[360] 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 nearer[361] 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,[362] 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 thirty 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 who 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 nations 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 Cophes[379] 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 circumstance[381]
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 proper 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 their 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 Bear[393] 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

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
also 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 horizon[399] 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
hemisphere[400] 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 towards[402]
the Seræ, whose 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 information[403] 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; 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 celebrated[405] 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 shells[406] 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 particulars relative to the
four Satrapies, of which we have postponed further mention[407] 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.
Arachosia[409] 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 Erymanthus[410] 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 Cartana[412] 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] the Dangalæ,[416] the Parapinæ,[417]
the Catuces, and the Mazi: and then at the foot of Caucasus, to the
Cadrusi, whose town[418] was built by Alexander.

Below all these countries, is the line of coast which we come to
after leaving the Indus. Ariana[419] 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 Tonberos[420] 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,[426] 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 Daritis[435] forms part of Ariana, and give
the length of them both as nineteen hundred and fifty miles, and the
breadth one half of that[436] 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 Ichthyophagi[438] to live any 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 Onesicritus[439] has stated, who
commanded the fleet of Alexander, and sailed from India[440] 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 Leonnatus[442] 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 days[444]
to sail past their territory; and an island known by the names of the
“Island of the Sun”[445] and the “Bed 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

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 Oracla[451] 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-serpents[452] 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 river Sitiogagus, from which to Pasargadæ[454] 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 Eulæus[456] 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

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 the 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

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 millions[461] 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 distant[464]
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,
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 Ocelis[466] in Arabia, or else at Cane,[467] in the region which
bears frankincense. There is also a third port of Arabia, Muza[468] 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 best
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, Muziris[471] 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 as[474] 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.


Nearchus states in his writings that the coast of Carmania[475] extends
a distance of twelve hundred and fifty miles. From its frontier to
the river Sabis[476] 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 indentation[479] in the land upon
these coasts, under the name of Rubrum[480] 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 enters this gulf is called the
Azanian[482] Sea. The Persian Gulf, at the entrance, is only five[483]
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
resembles[484] 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 promontory[487] 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] which
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. Persis[494]
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 kingdoms[496] 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, Parthia[497] always lay at the foot of the
mountains[498] 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 the 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. Media[503] lies crosswise to the west,
and so presenting itself obliquely to Parthia, closes the entrance
of both kingdoms[504] 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 by 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 Babylonia[513]
and Ninus.[514] The Macedonians 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 Orei[518] 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
Gordyæi[520] 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 Absithris[522] 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 have[525] already
stated that Alexander, struck with the favourable situation of the
spot, ordered it to be built. We have also similarly made mention[526]
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 stated[527] 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 there[530] of Jupiter Belus[531] is still in
existence; he was the first 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
Vologesus[534] has of late years founded another city in its vicinity,
Vologesocerta[535] by name. Besides the above, there are still the
following towns in Mesopotamia: Hipparenum,[536] rendered famous,
like Babylon, by the learning of 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

When the Euphrates ceases, by running in its channel, to afford
protection[539] 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 twenty-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
Seleucia[543] in Syria, on the shores of our sea, one hundred and
seventy-five[544] 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 to
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 disappears[552] 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 Arrene[555] 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 Orei[557] 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, one hundred and twenty-five miles on this side of Babylonian
Seleucia, and then divides into two channels, one[560] 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.
Dabithac[565] is a town there, adjoining to which is 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
Zagrus[567] reaches as far as this district, and extends from Armenia
between the Medi and the Adiabeni; above Parætacene and Persis.
Chalonitis[568] 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
Arbelitis[569] and Palæstine. Its city of Sittace[570] is of Greek
origin; this and Sabdata[571] 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 Antiochus[575] gave this name, being that
of his mother. The Tigris surrounds this city, which is also traversed
by the waters of the Archoüs. Below[576] 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 mentioned[581] 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 up[582] 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 Susa[585] and the 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. Magoa[588] 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 Orates[590] to Charax, a distance of two
hundred and forty miles. Its towns are Seleucia[591] 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. Of 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 harbour[597] 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 of 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 eldest[599] 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 work[600] 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 sea[603] and the coast of Egypt, as we have already
mentioned.[604] The Nubei[605] 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, 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 size[606] 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 mentioned[608] 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 dwelling 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 Apamea[612] 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, 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, the 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 name[628]
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,[632] 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] whose 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 Elamitæ[641] 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 Nabatæi[646] 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 of 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 origin[652]
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
Nessa[655] 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.”
Ampelome[657] 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 name
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 son[661] 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 Mariva[662]
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 Nomades[663] 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 for 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 Straits[669] 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 called Sœa, upon which
is situate the city of Heroön.[670] The town of Cambysu[671] 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 all 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 governors[682] appointed by the kings. In the
interior are the Candei, also called Ophiophagi, a people in the habit
of eating serpents; there is no region in existence more productive of

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 first[689]
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, which 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 Azanian[690] 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 by 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 led[700] his

Some writers place even beyond this, upon the shore, one town of
Æthiopia, called Baricaza. Juba will have it that at the Promontory
of Mossylum[701] the Atlantic Sea begins, and that with a north-west
wind[702] 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
distance to the open sea[704] 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 mentioned[707] 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 side[710] 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 the 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 side[715] 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 troops that were sent by the Emperor
Nero[717] 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 Memnon[721] 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, 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 Sycaminos[724]
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 sphingium[726] 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 the 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,[729] 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, 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, 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 spoken[742] 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 length[744] 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 ocean[745] 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 it 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 Ægipans[748] 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 another[749]
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. Cerne[750] 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 Columnæ[751] there, some little islands so called. Polybius says
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 skins[754] 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 Junonia[757] is an island
seven hundred and fifty miles distant from Gades. He states also
that Pluvialia[758] and Capraria[759] 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 peculiarity[763] 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 giant 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, island[767] 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 without[771] 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 of 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

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 exceeds 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
admitted[776] 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


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 which 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, 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 Caspian 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, 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,[803]
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] the Younger Simonides,[832] Basilis,[833] Xenophon[834]
of Lampsacus.

BOOK VII.[835]



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

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 of 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
day[841] 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 animated 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
annihilated[848] 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, to 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 given[856] 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; 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 themselves
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,
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 commonly[868] 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 to this effect,
among the most illustrious of whom are Herodotus and Aristeas of

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 mentioned[873] 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 also 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 the
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, that 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. Damon gives an account of a race of people, not
very much unlike them, the Pharnaces of Æthiopia, whose perspiration
is productive of consumption[889] 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 reduced 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-tree[896] 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 account 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

Megasthenes places among the Nomades[911] 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
down[912] plucked from the leaves of trees. These people subsist only
by breathing and by the odours which they inhale through the 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
Trispithami[915] 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 Homer[916] 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 these 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
live[925] 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

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 about 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

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 five[938] children at
a birth four successive times, and that the greater part of all these
children survived. Trogus informs us, that in 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 highest 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, Alcippe[948] was delivered of
an elephant[949]—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, also, of a child at Saguntum, which returned immediately into
its mother’s womb, the same year in which that place was destroyed by

(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 Casinum[954]
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
rarely 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 happen 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, 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.
Agrippa[977] is said to have been born; the 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 embryos[983] 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 embryo 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

(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 undoubted 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

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 thought[990]
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 man[993]
to recommend 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 countenance[995] 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 mime[998] 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 even 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 bodies 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 the 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 female 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; 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

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


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 the 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 soften 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 seed 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 Annals 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 Gabbaras[1045] 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

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 procurator[1051] 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 the 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 in 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 Samnite[1062] 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 then 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
‘bumpkin[1066] 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 are 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] Callicrates[1075] used
to carve ants and other small animals in ivory, so minute in size,
that other persons were unable to distinguish their individual parts.
Myrmecides[1076] 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 Sybaris[1079] 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 hope[1084] 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.
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 pirates[1093] 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 remarkable 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 Liber[1095] 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 most 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 calends[1102] of October,[1103]
in the consulship of M. Piso and 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 consequence 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
Denter[1110] 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-three torcs,[1115] one hundred
and sixty bracelets,[1116] twenty-six crowns, (of which fourteen were
civic, eight golden, three mural, and one obsidional), a fisc[1117] 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

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 had 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 of 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 escaped[1124]
from the enemy? Other persons have been conquerors of men, no doubt,
but Sergius[1125] 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
the descendants and house of the poet Pindar[1128] should be spared,
at the taking of Thebes. He likewise rebuilt the native city[1129] 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 Archilochus[1130]
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
himself;”[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 sent 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 one[1137] 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. Varro[1140] is the only person, who, during his lifetime, saw 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 the
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 Corculus[1148] 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 of joy, on hearing that his son had been
victorious in the Olympic games, and all Greece assisted at his funeral


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


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


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
introducing 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 consulship[1158]
of C. Quintius and M. Acilius, where the theatre of Marcellus[1159] now

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 arrow[1166] from the eye of King Philip with so 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
placed[1169] 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 famous 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 to 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.
Praxiteles[1180] 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 Pisaurum[1184] 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 of the
army commissary[1186] 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 were 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
_weight_[1193] 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.[1194] Berenice was the only woman
who was daughter, sister, and mother of conquerors in the Olympian
games.[1195] The family of the Curios[1196] 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 shoes[1201] of the common soldier. Balbus Cornelius, 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 not 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


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 first 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 addition 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 consecrated[1220] by the
very man whom he had 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 time[1224]—dragged to that 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 Triumvirate[1228] with some among the very worst of the citizens,
and that, too, with an unequal share of influence, he himself being
entirely borne down by the power of Antony; his illness[1229] 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 shipwreck[1231] 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 Proculeius[1232] 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 entertained 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 adultery[1243] 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] to
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
slanders[1250] 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 a loss to say whether
deservedly or not, died, leaving the son of his own enemy his


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 Psophis[1256]
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, 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 gives[1262] one hundred and fifty
years to Arganthonius,[1263] the king of the Tartessii; ten more to
Cinaras,[1264] the king of Cyprus, and two 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 Gades[1267] 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 and 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

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 stage 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 have[1280] 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 me some
opinion upon the science of the stars. Epigenes[1282] used to
maintain that human life could not be possibly prolonged to one
hundred and twelve years, and Berosus[1283] that it could exceed
one hundred and seventeen. The system is still in existence which
Petosiris and Necepsos[1284] 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. 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
of 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 Polydamas[1294] were born on
the same night,[1295] and yet how different was their fate! M. Cælius
Rufus[1296] 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] the 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;[1307]
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,[1318] 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 Epimenides[1320] 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 Heraclides[1324] 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

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, 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, died 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

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 every 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 boy[1340] what time it was: Aulus Pompeius[1341]
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 Forum[1346] 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;[1349]
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, 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, 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 to 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 spirits[1361] 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 Liber[1363] was the first to establish
the practice of buying and selling; he also invented the diadem, the
emblem of royalty, and the triumphal procession. Ceres[1364] introduced
corn, the acorn having been previously used by man for food; it was
she, also, who introduced into Attica the art of grinding corn[1365]
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] From 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 Hyperbius[1375] were the first who
constructed brick-kilns and houses at Athens; before which, caves
in the ground served for houses. Gellius[1376] 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. Cecrops[1377]
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 discovered
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] the 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 working 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. Midacritus[1396] 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, the Scythian, or, according
to others, Hyperbius, the Corinthian, first invented the potter’s
wheel. Dædalus[1400] 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

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 the plough
to Buzyges, the Athenian,[1410] or, according to other accounts, to

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 tyrant[1413] 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
Acrisius[1416] 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 the thong[1419] attached, by
Ætolus,[1420] the son of Mars; the spear of the light infantry[1421]
by Tyrrhenus; the dart[1422] 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, 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 birds[1433] we owe to Car, from
whom Caria derives its name; Orpheus extended it to other animals.
Delphus taught us the art of divining by the inspection of entrails;
Amphiaraüs[1434] divination by fire; and Tiresias, the Theban,
presages from the entrails of birds. We owe to Amphictyon[1435] 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, 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]

Lycaon[1449] 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, a kinsman[1456]
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

We learn from Philostephanus, that Jason was the first person who
sailed in a long vessel;[1461] Hegesias says it was Paralus,
Ctesias,[1462] Semiramis,[1463] and Archemachus, Ægæon. According to
Damastes,[1464] the Erythræi[1465] 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 earliest[1478] 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 from 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 Africanus[1485] 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 summoner[1488] 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 the sun had gone down from the
Mænian column[1490] 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. Varro[1493] 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 weather 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

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,[1509] 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] Hippocrates[1541] the physician,
Asclepiades[1542] 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] Diyllus[1557] 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,[1563] Thucydides,[1564] Mnesigiton,[1565]
Xenagoras,[1566] Metrodorus[1567] of Scepsos, Anticlides,[1568]




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 them[1572] the young ones which are fatigued. They are
supposed to have a notion, too, of the differences of religion;[1573]
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. Procilius[1577] 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, 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 Puteoli[1585] 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 luxury[1588] 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, by 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 superior 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 of 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, 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-two[1605] 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,
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 consulship[1609] of 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 trenches[1613] of water, which were lately filled up
by the Emperor Nero,[1614] when he added the seats for 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 exploit[1618] that the gladiators performed was fighting
single-handed[1619] 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 trunk[1620] those that are
in the way, lest it should unintentionally 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 India[1623] 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 Africa[1624] 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 the 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 hunger[1625] 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 herds 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, but 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, 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, a 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,[1653] 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 wild 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 produced
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, 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 sometimes 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. There 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 the 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


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
cloak[1677] 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
Lysimachus[1678] 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
that 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

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 to 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 one 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 varia[1691] 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 prohibited 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


The same emperor was the first person who exhibited at Rome a tame
tiger[1695] 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 the 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


There are two other[1704] 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 chama[1709] 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 lynx[1713] in abundance, and the sphinx, 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 tawny 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 hoofs[1721] and a single
horn;[1722] and a wild beast called the axis, which has a skin 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 white[1724] 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 of 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 take 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 Fabius[1737] adds, that he takes his former clothes as well. It is
really wonderful to what a length the credulity[1738] of 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 Lycæan[1740] 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
said[1743] 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 they
assume the colour of the soil in which they conceal themselves. The
different species of them are innumerable. The cerastes[1745] 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 amphisbæna[1747] 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
jaculus[1749] 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 asp[1751] puffs out,[1752] and there is no remedy whatever 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 enemy[1755] to the very


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, 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 enter 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] The 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 water[1771] which had been temporarily prepared for the
purpose. The hippopotamus has even been 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 being 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 plant[1776]
with which lizards treat their wounds when injured in fighting with
each other. The swallow has shown us that the chelidonia[1777] 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 body 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 continue 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


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 it[1788]
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 covered 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.[1795] and Theophrastus informs us, that the people of
Rhœteum[1796] 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, the 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 trees 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. Theophrastus informs
us, that lizards[1808] 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 seselis[1814] and aros,[1815] and then return
to the fawn; they seem desirous, for 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
they 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,
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

(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


Africa is almost the only country that does not produce[1826] 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-days[1830] 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 a 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 lycaon[1834] 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 its 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


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


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 being 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 as 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


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 they 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
leontophonus[1859] 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 countries[1860] 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, 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] the 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 Colophon[1875] and Castabala[1876] 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, 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 Sabinus[1881] was put to 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

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 leash[1883] 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 forests 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 days[1893] that this star exerts its influence, we try to
prevent the disease by mixing dung from 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, which 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 Cæsar[1901] 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 tears[1905] of regret for them. When
King Nicomedes was slain, his horse put an end to its life by fasting.
Phylarchus relates, 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, that 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 work[1914] 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 covering 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 Olisipo[1921] 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 am 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 Arcadia[1932] 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 smallest
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 produced 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] Theophrastus 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 height 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 being 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 unsightly[1955] 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

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 tail[1960] 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 the 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 appropriate 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


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 of 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

There are two principal kinds of sheep, the covered[1981] and the
colonic,[1982] or common sheep; the former is the more tender animal,
but the latter is more nice about its pastures, for the 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 cloaks[1986] 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 called 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 is 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 mattresses[2006] 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 straw[2007] for
the purpose of sleeping upon, just as they do at present when in camp.
The gausapa[2008] has been brought into use in my father’s memory, and
I myself recollect the amphimalla[2009] and the long shaggy apron[2010]
being introduced; but at the present day, the laticlave tunic[2011] is
beginning to be manufactured, in imitation of the gausapa.[2012] Black
wool will take no colour. 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 waved[2017] 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 colours[2020] came into vogue.
Fenestella informs us, that togas with a smooth surface, as well
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
poppy[2022] was used, are of more ancient date, being mentioned by the
poet Lucilius, in his lines on Torquatus. The prætexta[2023] had its
origin among the Etrurians. I find that the trabea[2024] 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 invented 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
half[2036] 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 very 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 umbri[2040] 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, 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 covered with very thick
shaggy hair; the mark of the most valuable among the females is the
having two folds[2048] 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 same 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 for 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 quinsy[2067] 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 to 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. Apicius[2073] 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, 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 parks[2079] 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 India[2081] 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 the 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 the 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.[2094] 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 ape[2095] is of a much fiercer nature, as is the case with
the satyr. The callitriche[2096] 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 the 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 ferret[2100] 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. Attempts
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
Gyara[2109] 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, their 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 singing[2113]
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 person[2117] 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 an end to by their winter’s rest, when they
conceal themselves and sleep; they are young again by the summer. The
field-mouse[2118] 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
Arginussa[2122] 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, 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-mouse[2126] 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 are 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 mountain[2133] 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,[2144] Virgil,[2145] Varro,[2146]
Lucilius,[2147] Metellus Scipio,[2148] Cornelius Celsus,[2149]
Nigidius,[2150] Trebius Niger,[2151] Pomponius Mela,[2152] Mamilius

       *       *       *       *       *

Foreign authors quoted.—King Juba,[2154] Polybius,[2155]
Herodotus,[2156] Antipater,[2157] Aristotle,[2158] Demetrius[2159]
the physician, Democritus,[2160] Theophrastus,[2161] Euanthes,[2162]
Agriopas,[2163] who wrote the “Olympionicæ,” King Hiero,[2164]
King Attalus,[2165] Philometor, Ctesias,[2166] Duris,[2167]
Philistus,[2168] Archytas,[2169] Phylarchus,[2170] Amphilochus[2171]
of Athens, Anaxapolis[2172] the Thasian, Apollodorus[2173] of
Lemnos, Aristophanes[2174] the Milesian, Antigonus[2175] the
Cumæan, Agathocles[2176] of Chios, Apollonius[2177] of Pergamus,
Aristander[2178] of Athens, Bacchius[2179] of Miletus, Bion[2180]
of Soli, Chæreas[2181] the Athenian, Diodorus[2182] of Priene,
Dion[2183] the Colophonian, Epigenes[2184] the Rhodian, Euagon[2185]
of Thasos, Euphronius[2186] of Athens, Hegesias[2187] of Maronea, the
Menanders[2188] of Priene and of Heraclea, Menecrates[2189] the poet,
Androtion[2190] who wrote on Agriculture, Æschrion[2191] who wrote on
Agriculture, Lysimachus[2192] who wrote on Agriculture, Dionysius[2193]
who translated Mago, Diophanes[2194] 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 principles[2197] 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 the 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-fish[2202] 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
jugera[2204] in extent, and the pristis,[2205] two hundred cubits
long: here also are found cray-fish[2206] four cubits in length, and
in the river Ganges there are to be seen eels three hundred[2207]
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 Ptolemy[2209] 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,[2211] are in the habit of making the doors of their houses
with the jaw-bones[2212] 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 physeter[2215] is 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 usually represented. Nor yet is
the figure generally attributed to the nereids[2220] 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
Lugdunum[2223] 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 the Santones;[2224] among the rest there
were elephants[2225] 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 monster[2226] 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

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
half[2227] in thickness.


The balæna[2228] 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 Liburnian[2230] 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 flight 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
harbour[2231] there that this orca came, attracted by some hides which,
having been brought from Gaul, had happened to fall overboard[2232]
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 boats[2233] sunk by the water which the animal, as it
respired, showered down upon it.


Balænæ have the mouth[2234] 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 animals[2235] 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
researches[2237] 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 organs[2238] 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 he sees that it is even exhaled[2240] 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 sleeping[2242] 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 shells[2243] grow
in bulk.

But the most convincing reason of all is, the undoubted fact that
fishes have the power of hearing[2244] 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] Both of these
animals respire[2247] 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 swiftest[2251] not only of the sea animals, but of all animals
whatever, is the dolphin.[2252] He is more rapid in his movements 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
sails[2256] 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 dolphin
lives thirty years; a fact that has been ascertained from cutting
marks[2258] 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 known[2259] 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 sound[2260] similar to that
made by a human being; the back is arched, and the nose turned up. For
this reason[2261] 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,[2262] 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 reign[2264] of the late Emperor Augustus, a dolphin which had
been carried to the Lucrine Lake[2265] 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 Puteoli[2266] 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 fins[2267] in their sheath, as it were; and so, sportively taking
him up on his back, he would carry him over a wide expanse 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 boy[2272] high priest of Neptune at Babylon, interpreting this
extraordinary attachment as a convincing proof of the favour of that

Hegesidemus has also informed us, that in the same city[2273] of 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.

Theophrastus[2274] informs us, that the very same thing happened at
Naupactus also; nor, in fact, is there any limit to similar instances.
The Amphilochians[2275] and the Tarentines[2276] 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
Nemausus[2279] a lake known by the name of Latera,[2280] where dolphins
fish in company with men. At the narrow outlet[2281] 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;[2282] 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
light[2284] of torches.

Dolphins, also, form among themselves[2285] 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
attended[2286] by a larger one, who acts as a guardian to them; and
before now, they have been seen[2287] 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 Sea[2291] produces turtles of such vast[2292] size, that
with the shell of a single animal they are able to roof a habitable
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 sensations[2294]
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 a 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 straw[2297]
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 cabinets[2302] with it.


The integuments of the aquatic animals are many in number. 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,
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
sleep[2310] 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 reflux[2311] 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-four[2313] species of fishes, exclusive of those
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 fifteen[2315] 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 silurus[2317] of
the Nile, the isox[2318] of the Rhenus, and the attilus[2319] 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 it[2320] 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, that in
the Mœnus,[2322] a river of Germany, a fish that bears[2323] 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
fishes[2326] found, called worms; these have two gills,[2327] and are
sixty cubits in length; they are 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 main[2329] 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, however, the parts about the tail have the most
nutriment[2335] 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 grow[2338] with remarkable rapidity, and more
especially those in the Euxine; the reason[2339] 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 scomber[2342] appears, which is of a sulphureous tint
when in the water, but when out of it resembles other fish in colour.
The salt-water preserves[2343] 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 animal[2345] that is
noxious to fish, with the exception of the sea-calf and the small
dolphin. On entering, the tunnies range along[2346] 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 separate
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 on the other
hand, the turbot[2352] enters it. The sepia[2353] is not found in
this sea, although the loligo[2354] is. Among the rock-fish, the
sea-thrush[2355] 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 not[2356] 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 is 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
Vergiliæ[2360] 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 fatten[2362] to such an extraordinary degree as
to burst. The longest period of their life[2363] 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-fish[2366] 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 Augustus[2367] 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 adopted[2368] Neptune as his father, so
elated was he with his successes by sea.


The females of fishes are larger[2369] in size than the males, and in
some kinds there are no males[2370] at all, as in the erythini[2371]
and the channi;[2372] for all of these that are taken are found to 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 haul[2374] 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 stone[2376] 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, 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 already[2382] mentioned; and more especially the
hippurus,[2383] and the coracinus,[2384] which are never taken during
the winter, except only on a few stated days, which are always the
same. The same with the muræna[2385] also, and the orphus,[2386] the
conger,[2387] the perch,[2388] and all 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,[2393] and the dorade.[2394] Among the river-fish, the
silurus[2395] 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 sensible[2397] 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 mullet[2398] 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
propensities[2400] render them so unguarded, that in Phœnicia and in
the province of Gallia Narbonensis, at the time of coupling, 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 acipenser[2401] was esteemed the most 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 lupus[2402] 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. CHAP.

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 the 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
mullet[2410] 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; some[2412] live upon sea-weed, while others
feed on the oyster, slime, and the flesh of other fish. The more
distinctive mark is a forked 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 accompanied[2414] 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 not[2415] highly esteemed, and the most esteemed of all have a
strong flavour[2416] 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
three[2418] 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.[2419] 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 eighty[2425] pounds in weight. What a price 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
coracinus[2426] 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 nowhere[2431] be
thoroughly cooked, wherever found, without being first beaten with a
stick: in Aquitania, again, the river salmon[2432] is preferred to all
the fish that swim in the sea.


Some fishes have numerous gills, others again single[2433] ones,
others double; it is by means of these that they discharge the water
that has entered the mouth. A sign of old age[2434] is the hardness of
the scales, which are not alike in all. There are two lakes[2435] 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
sharpness[2437] of them, strongly resembling hob-nails[2438] 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,[2443] as
well as the polypi[2444] and the murænæ,[2445] are in the habit of
coming ashore—besides which, there is in the rivers of India[2446]
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 from
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 two[2454] only, and others none.[2455]
It is in Lake Fucinus[2456] only that there is a fish found that
has eight fins[2457] 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 fish[2459] 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 feet[2461] serve them in stead of fins.

CHAP. 38. (21.)—EELS.

Eels live eight[2462] 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 float[2466] 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 constellations[2469]
of autumn, and the eels are heaped together[2470] 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 chambers[2471] which are formed in the bed of the river for that

CHAP. 39. (23.)—THE MURÆNA.

The muræna brings forth every month, while all the other fishes
spawn only at stated periods: the eggs of this fish increase with
the greatest rapidity.[2472] It is a vulgar[2473] belief that the
muræna comes on shore, and is there impregnated by intercourse with
serpents. Aristotle[2474] calls the male, which impregnates the female,
by the name of “zmyrus;” and says that there is a difference between
them, the muræna being spotted[2475] 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
land 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 penalty[2480] 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] and the frog.[2488] In this number, also, the
squali[2489] 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 already[2492] 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


There is a very small fish[2495] 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 progress
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] Aristotle[2500] 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 murex[2501] 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
children[2503] 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 further 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 changes[2506] its white colour, and in summer becomes swarthy.
The phycis[2507] also changes its colour, and 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-kite[2509] 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 a 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 kinds[2513]—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 long[2517] 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. discharge[2520] 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 land[2522] polypus is larger
than that of the sea; they all of them use their arms[2523] as feet
and hands; and in coupling they employ the tail, which is forked[2524]
and sharp. The polypus has a sort of passage in the back,[2525] by
which it lets in and discharges the water, and which 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 cavities[2528] 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 only[2529] 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 colour[2530] according to the aspect of the place where it is, and
more especially when it is alarmed. The notion is entirely unfounded
that it gnaws[2531] its own arms; for it is from the congers that this
mischance befalls it; but it is no other than true that its arms shoot
forth again, like the tail in the colotus[2532] and the lizard.[2533]


Among the most remarkable curiosities is the animal which has the
name[2534] 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 membrane[2535] 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 Liburnian[2536] 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 the
ozæna,[2538] being so called from the peculiarly strong smell exhaled
by the head;[2539] in consequence of which, the murænæ[2540] pursue it
with the greatest eagerness. The polypi keep themselves concealed for
two months in the year; they do not live beyond two[2541] 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 ambush[2543] 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

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 being[2544] when in the water. 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 the[2546] 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-kipes[2547] 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 over 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 seas[2552] 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 is 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 beak[2555] 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 both[2558] of them, after the 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 alarm[2559] 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 use[2560] 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 crab[2561] 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, renders[2562] the
temperature of the weather more moderate.


There are various kinds of crabs,[2563] known as carabi,[2564]
astaci,[2565] maiæ,[2566] paguri,[2567] heracleotici,[2568]
lions,[2569] and others of less note. The carabus differs[2570]
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 female[2572] the first
foot is 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 have[2576] a mode of curing themselves of the bites of
serpents. It is said,[2577] that 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 class[2578] 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 Torone[2582] they are white,[2583]
with very short spines. The eggs[2584] 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 said[2586] that these creatures
foreknow the approach of a storm at sea, and that they take up little
stones with which they cover[2587] 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 genus[2588] also belong both land and water[2589]
snails, which thrust the body forth from their abode, and extend or
contract two horns, as it were. They are without eyes,[2590] and have,
therefore, to feel their way, by means of these horns.

(33.) Sea-scallops[2591] 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 murex[2593] 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, cut[2598]
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 distinctions[2601]
of rayed shells, long-haired[2602] 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 leap[2606] 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, 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 mentioned[2610] in the description of the 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 origin[2613] and production of the shell-fish is not very different
from that of the shell of the oyster. When the genial season of the
year[2614] 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

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 thunder[2615] 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 soft[2620] 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 precautions 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 disengaged[2627] 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 scales[2631]
of the mirror-stone, but exceeds all the others in size. The colour
that is most highly prized of all, is that of those which are thence
called alum-coloured[2632] pearls. Long pearls also have their peculiar
value; those are called “elenchi,” which are of a long tapering shape,
resembling our alabaster[2633] 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 lictor[2636] 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 the
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 hair[2641] 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 Sudines[2643] 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, 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 Britannia[2644] pearls are found, though
small, and of a bad colour; for the deified Julius Cæsar[2645] 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 Caius[2648]—it
was not at any public festival, or any solemn ceremonial, but only at
an ordinary wedding entertainment[2649]—covered 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 millions[2650]
of sesterces; indeed[2651] 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. Lollius[2652] 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 bit[2655] 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 millions[2656] 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 appendage[2657] to the real banquet,
and that she alone[2658] 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 able[2659] to dissolve 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 the 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 murex[2663] 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

(36.) Purples live mostly seven[2664] 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 purple[2665]
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 Meninx[2666]
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 axes[2667]
of Rome make way in the crowd; it is this that asserts the majesty
of childhood;[2668] it is this that distinguishes the senator[2669]
from the man of equestrian rank; by persons arrayed in this colour are
prayers[2670] addressed to propitiate the gods; on every garment[2671]
it sheds a lustre, and in the triumphal vestment[2672] 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 finger[2673] 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
disposed[2678] 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 mud[2680] purple, which is nurtured upon
putrid mud; and the sea-weed[2681] 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, better 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 kipe[2685] 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 discharged[2686] 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 have[2687] previously spoken of, to
which it is requisite to add salt, a sextarius[2688] about to every
hundred pounds of juice. It is sufficient to leave them to steep for
a period of three days, and no 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 amphoræ[2690] 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
blends[2691] 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. 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 laticlave[2695] 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 Tarentine[2696] red was all the fashion. This last was 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 hangings[2698] 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-half[2700] 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 clearer[2701] it is, the less of it the wool has

(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 of the pelagiæ to exceed fifty,[2702]
and that of the buccinum one hundred sesterces for one hundred


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 name[2708] 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 has 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 hysginian[2709] tint. The kermes of
Galatia, a red berry which we shall mention when we come to speak[2710]
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
grain[2712] 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 pinna[2713] also: it is
found[2714] in slimy spots, always lying upright, and never 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.


Upon[2717] 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
torpedo[2718] 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 in 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 delicate[2719] morsel in existence that is preferred to the liver
of this fish. And no less wonderful, too, is the shrewdness[2720]
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 rhombus[2722] 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 resemblance[2725]
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-fox[2726] 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 glanis[2727] 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-ram[2728] 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 nature[2729] of neither animals
nor vegetables, but a third which partakes of them both:—sea-nettles
and sponges, I mean. The sea-nettle[2730] 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 an 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 devour[2733] it. At another time it will
assume the appearance of being quite withered away, and let itself be
tossed[2734] 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 excrements[2736] are discharged by a small
canal situated above.


We find three[2737] kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are 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 upon[2741] shell- and other fish, and slime. It would appear that
these creatures, too, have some intelligence; for as soon as ever they
feel[2742] 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 Torone[2743] it
is even said that they will survive after they have been detached, and
that they grow again from the roots 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 their[2748]
heads, bearing the resemblance of some kind of 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 so wage the warfare in safety. Consequently,
every possible care is taken by the divers to look out[2751] 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 divers[2752] 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 production which has not its
like in the sea;[2757] no, not even those insects which frequent our
public-houses[2758] 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 mass[2759] 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 breed[2760] 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-hare[2762] of the Indian seas, 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: but it
is evidently the fact that individuals[2766] 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
bellies[2767] against one another; an operation, however, that is
performed with such extraordinary celerity as to escape the sight.
Dolphins[2768] 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
devours[2769] the eggs. But with them, the simple act of coupling is
not sufficient[2770] 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 eggs[2772] 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 nostrils[2774] 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 soft[2776]
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 only 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 away[2778] 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 were[2779]
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
spontaneous[2780] 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] that the animal discharges an
impregnating liquid,[2785] which has the appearance of milk. Eels,
again, rub themselves against rocks, upon which, the particles[2786]
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-fish[2789] and the trichias[2790] bring forth
twice in the year, as also do all kinds of rock-fish; the mullet and
the chalcis[2791] thrice in the year, the cyprinus[2792] six times,
the scorpæna[2793] twice, and the sargus in spring and autumn. Among
the flat-fish, the squatina brings forth twice a year, being the
only[2794] one that does so at the setting of the[2795] 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 squalus[2796] about the time of the autumnal equinox. The soft
fishes[2797] 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 breathe[2798] 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 multitude[2799] 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-snails[2801] also are produced during the winter season.


The torpedo is known to have as many as eighty young ones. It
produces within itself[2802] 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 silurus[2803] 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-mouse[2805] 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 erythinus[2806] and the channe[2807] are said to
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. Pausilypum[2810] 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 Cæsar[2811] 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 Sergius
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 British[2817] 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 rivalry[2818] between the two flavours,
a plan has been 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 Murena[2819] 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


C. Hirrus[2822] 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 millions[2823] 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 territory
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 Lupinus[2827] 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 Sun[2830] 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 fishes[2833]
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
fish[2836] 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
this 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-tortoise[2838]. 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 mice[2841] are found,
the first rudiments of which have been 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 mentioned[2842] 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 know 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

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 flesh[2845] 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 experiments[2846] 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-fish[2848]
are animated with a mutual hatred; and so too, the conger and the
murena gnaw each other’s[2849] 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,[2850]
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

       *       *       *       *       *

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]
Ælius 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




The history of the birds[2878] follows next, the very largest of which,
and indeed almost approaching to the nature of quadrupeds, is the
ostrich[2879] of Africa or[2880] 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 hoof[2881] of the
stag; with these they fight, and they also employ them in seizing
stones for the purpose of throwing[2882] at those who pursue them.
They have the marvellous property of being able to digest[2883] every
substance without distinction, but their stupidity[2884] 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 eggs[2885] 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, produce[2886] birds of diversified
plumage, and such as quite surpass all description. In the front rank
of these is the phœnix,[2887] that famous bird of 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
year[2891] is completed with the life of this bird, and that 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 consulship[2892] 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 consulship[2893] 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


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
six[2895] different kinds; the one called “melanaetos”[2896] by the
Greeks, and “valeria” in our language, 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, 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 haliætus[2902] 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, with its wings, and forces[2903] 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
haliætus[2904] 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 their 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 places[2907] 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 upon 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 ones[2912] 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 of these eggs[2915] it purifies the others and its
nest, and then throws it away: he states also that they hover about for
three[2916] 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 sixteen[2918] kinds of hawks mentioned; among
these are the ægithus, which is lame[2919] 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 family[2921]
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 one kind[2922] “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, men[2924] 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 pick[2925] 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 not[2927] eat the heart of a bird. The night-hawk is called
cybindis;[2928] it is rarely found, even in the 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-dove[2930]
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 aware[2931] 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
fine 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 devouring[2932] 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, 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


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 two[2935] 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; 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 Medus[2937] 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 nones[2939] of March in that year.


An inauspicious bird also is that known as the “incendiary;”[2940]
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 tail[2943] 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 king[2945] 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 befall the prætor;
in an instant he tore the bird to pieces, and before long the omen was


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 omens[2947] 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 eyes[2948] depicted upon its
feathers in a single 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 Lurco[2950]
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 their 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 Melos[2953] 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
omens[2954] by fowls are derived; it is these that regulate[2955] 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 famous victory[2956] 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

We find it stated in the Roman Annals, that in the[2958] 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 of them was
the constant companion of the philosopher, Lacydes, and would never
leave him, either in public or when at the bath, by night or by day.


Our people, however, are more wise; for they only esteem the goose for
the goodness of its liver.[2962] When they are crammed, this grows to
a very large size, and on being taken from the animal, is made still
larger by being soaked in honeyed milk.[2963] And, indeed, it is
not without good reason that it is matter of debate who it was that
first discovered so great a delicacy; whether, in fact, it was Scipio
Metellus, a man of consular dignity, or M. Seius, a contemporary of
his, and a Roman of equestrian rank. However, a thing about which there
is no dispute, it was Messalinus Cotta, the son of the orator Messala,
who first discovered the art of roasting the webbed feet of the
goose, and of cooking them in a ragout with cocks’ combs: for I shall
faithfully award each culinary palm to such as I shall find deserving
of it. It is a wonderful fact, in relation to this bird, that it comes
on foot all the way from the country of the Morini[2964] to Rome; those
that are tired are placed in the front rank, while the rest, taught by
a natural instinct to move in a compact body, drive them on.

A second income, too, is also to be derived from the feathers of the
white goose. In some places, this animal is plucked twice a year, upon
which the feathers quickly grow again. Those are the softest which lie
nearest to the body, and those that come from Germany are the most
esteemed: the geese there are white, but of small size, and are called
gantæ.[2965] The price paid for their feathers is five denarii per
pound. It is from this fruitful source that we have repeated charges
brought against the commanders of our auxiliaries, who are in the habit
of detaching whole cohorts from the posts where they ought to be on
guard, in pursuit of these birds: indeed, we have come to such a pitch
of effeminacy, that now-a-days, not even the men can think of lying
down without the aid of the goose’s feathers, by way of pillow.


The part of Syria which is called Commagene, has discovered another
invention also; the fat of the goose[2966] is enclosed with some
cinnamon in a brazen vessel, and then covered with a thick layer of
snow. Under the influence of the excessive cold, it becomes macerated,
and fit for use as a medicament, remarkable for its properties: from
the country which produces it, it is known to us as “Commagenum.”[2967]


To the goose genus belong also the chenalopex,[2968] and the
cheneros,[2969] a little smaller than the common goose, and which forms
the most exquisite of all the dainties that Britannia provides for the
table. The tetrao[2970] is remarkable for the lustre of its plumage,
and its extreme darkness, while the eyelids are of a scarlet colour.
Another species[2971] of this last bird exceeds the vulture in size,
and is of a similar colour to it; and, indeed, there is no bird, with
the exception of the ostrich, the body of which is of a greater weight;
for to such a size does it grow, that it becomes incapable of moving,
and allows itself to be taken on the ground. The Alps and the regions
of the North produce these birds; but when kept in aviaries, they lose
their fine flavour, and by retaining their breath, will die of mere
vexation. Next to these in size are the birds which in Spain they call
the “tarda,”[2972] and in Greece the “otis;” they are looked upon
however as very inferior food; the marrow,[2973] when disengaged from
the bones, immediately emits a most noisome smell.

CHAP. 30. (23.)—CRANES.

By the departure of the cranes, which, as we have already stated,[2974]
were in the habit of waging war with them, the nation of the Pygmies
now enjoys a respite. The tracts over which they travel must be
immense, if we only consider that they come all the way from the
Eastern Sea.[2975] These birds agree by common consent at what moment
they shall set out, fly aloft to look out afar, select a leader for
them to follow, and have sentinels duly posted in the rear, which
relieve each other by turns, utter loud cries, and with their voice
keep the whole flight in proper array. During the night, also, they
place sentinels on guard, each of which holds a little stone in its
claw: if the bird should happen to fall asleep, the claw becomes
relaxed, and the stone falls to the ground, and so convicts it of
neglect. The rest sleep in the meanwhile, with the head beneath the
wing, standing first on one leg and then on the other: the leader looks
out, with neck erect, and gives warning when required. These birds,
when tamed, are very frolicsome, and even when alone will describe a
sort of circle, as they move along, with their clumsy gait.

It is a well-known fact, that these birds, when about to fly over the
Euxine, first of all repair to the narrowest part of it, that lies
between the two[2976] Promontories of Criumetopon and Carambis, and
then ballast themselves with coarse sand. When they have arrived midway
in the passage, they throw away the stones from out of their claws,
and, as soon as they reach the mainland, discharge the sand by the

Cornelius Nepos, who died in the reign of the late Emperor Augustus,
after stating that thrushes had been fattened for the first time
shortly before that period, has added that storks were more esteemed as
food than cranes: whereas at the present day, this last bird is one of
those that are held in the very highest esteem, while no one will so
much as touch the other.


Up to the present time it has not been ascertained from what place the
storks come, or whither they go when they leave us. There can be no
doubt but that, like the cranes, they come from a very great distance,
the cranes being our winter, the storks our summer, guests. When about
to take their departure, the storks assemble at a stated place, and
are particularly careful that all shall attend, so that not one of
their kind may be left behind, with the exception of such as may be in
captivity or tamed; and then on a certain day they set out, as though
by some law they were directed to do so. No one has ever yet seen a
flight of cranes taking their departure, although they have been often
observed preparing to depart; and in the same way, too, we never see
them arrive, but only when they have arrived; both their departure as
well as their arrival take place in the night. Although, too, we see
them flying about in all directions, it is still supposed that they
never arrive at any other time but in the night. Pythonoscome[2977] is
the name given to some vast plains of Asia, where, as they assemble
together, they keep up a gabbling noise, and tear to pieces the one
that happens to arrive the last; after which they take their departure.
It has been remarked that after the ides of August,[2978] they are
never by any accident to be seen there.

There are some writers who assure us that the stork has no tongue. So
highly are they esteemed for their utility in destroying serpents, that
in Thessaly, it was a capital crime for any one to kill a stork, and by
the laws the same penalty was inflicted for it as for homicide.


Geese, and swans also, travel in a similar manner, but then they are
seen to take their flight. The flocks, forming a point, move along
with great impetus, much, indeed, after the manner of our Liburnian
beaked galleys; and it is by doing so that they are enabled to cleave
the air more easily than if they presented to it a broad front. The
flight gradually enlarges in the rear, much in the form of a wedge,
presenting a vast surface to the breeze, as it impels them onward;
those that follow place their necks on those that go before, while the
leading birds, as they become weary, fall to the rear. Storks return
to their former nests, and the young, in their turn, support their
parents when old. It is stated that at the moment of the swan’s death,
it gives utterance to a mournful song;[2979] but this is an error, in
my opinion, at least I have tested the truth of the story on several
occasions. These birds will eat the flesh of one another.


Having spoken of the emigration of these birds over sea and land, I
cannot allow myself to defer mentioning some other birds of smaller
size, which have the same natural instinct: although in the case of
those which I have already mentioned, their very size and strength
would almost seem to invite them to such habits. The quail, which
always arrives among us even before the crane, is a small bird, and
when it has once arrived, more generally keeps to the ground than
flies aloft. These birds fly also in a similar manner to those I have
already spoken of, and not without considerable danger to mariners,
when they come near the surface of the earth: for it often happens
that they settle on the sails of a ship, and that too always in the
night: the consequence of which is, that the vessel often sinks.
These birds pursue their course along a tract of country with certain
resting-places. When the south wind is blowing, they will not fly, as
that wind is always humid, and apt to weigh them down. Still, however,
it is an object with them to get a breeze to assist them in their
flight, the body being so light, and their strength so very limited:
hence it is that we hear them make that murmuring noise as they fly, it
being extorted from them by fatigue. It is for this reason also, that
they take to flight more especially when the north wind is blowing,
having the ortygometra[2980] for their leader. The first of them that
approaches the earth is generally snapped up by the hawk. When they are
about to return from these parts, they always invite other birds to
join their company, and the glottis, otus, and cychramus, yielding to
their persuasions, take their departure along with them.

The glottis[2981] protrudes a tongue of remarkable length, from which
circumstance it derives its name: at first it is quite pleased with the
journey, and sets out with the greatest ardour; very soon, however,
when it begins to feel the fatigues of the flight, it is overtaken by
regret, while at the same time it is equally as loth to return alone,
as to accompany the others. Its travels, however, never last more than
a single day, for at the very first resting-place they come to, it
deserts: here too it finds other birds, which have been left behind
in a similar manner in the preceding year. The same takes place with
other birds day after day. The cychramus,[2982] however, is much more
persevering, and is quite in a hurry to arrive at the land which is its
destination: hence it is that it arouses the quails in the night, and
reminds them that they ought to be on the road.

The otus is a smaller bird than the horned owl, though larger than the
owlet; it has feathers projecting like ears, whence its name. Some
persons call it in the Latin language the “asio;”[2983] in general it
is a bird fond of mimicking, a great parasite, and, in some measure,
a dancer as well. Like the owlet, it is taken without any difficulty;
for while one person occupies its attention, another goes behind, and
catches it.

If the wind, by its contrary blasts, should begin to prevent the onward
progress of the flight, the birds immediately take up small stones,
or else fill their throats with sand, and so contrive to ballast
themselves as they fly. The seeds of a certain venomous plant[2984] are
most highly esteemed by the quails as food; for which reason it is
that they have been banished from our tables; in addition to which, a
great repugnance is manifested to eating their flesh, on account of the
epilepsy,[2985] to which alone of all animals, with the exception of
man, the quail is subject.

CHAP. 34. (24.)—SWALLOWS.

The swallow, the only bird that is carnivorous among those which have
not hooked talons, takes its departure also during the winter months;
but it only goes to neighbouring countries, seeking sunny retreats
there on the mountain sides; sometimes they have been found in such
spots bare and quite unfledged. This bird, it is said, will not enter
a house in Thebes, because that city has been captured so frequently;
nor will it approach the country of the Bizyæ, on account of the crimes
committed there by Tereus.[2986] Cæcina[2987] of Volaterræ, a member of
the equestrian order, and the owner of several chariots, used to have
swallows caught, and then carried them with him to Rome. Upon gaining
a victory, he would send the news by them to his friends; for after
staining them the colour[2988] of the party that had gained the day,
he would let them go, immediately upon which they would make their way
to the nests they had previously occupied. Fabius Pictor also relates,
in his Annals, that when a Roman garrison was being besieged by the
Ligurians, a swallow which had been taken from its young ones was
brought to him, in order that he might give them notice, by the number
of knots on a string tied to its leg, on what day succour would arrive,
and a sortie might be made with advantage.


In a similar manner also, the blackbird, the thrush, and the starling
take their departure to neighbouring countries; but they do not lose
their feathers, nor yet conceal themselves, as they are often to be
seen in places where they seek their food during the winter: hence
it is that in winter, more especially, the thrush is so often to be
seen in Germany. It is, however, a well-ascertained fact, that the
turtle-dove conceals itself, and loses its feathers. The ring-dove,
also, takes its departure: and with these too, it is a matter of doubt
whither they go. It is a peculiarity of the starling to fly in troops,
as it were, and then to wheel round in a globular mass like a ball, the
central troop acting as a pivot for the rest. Swallows are the only
birds that have a sinuous flight of remarkable velocity; for which
reason it is that they are not exposed to the attacks of other birds
of prey: these too, in fine, are the only birds that take their food
solely on the wing.


The time during which birds show themselves differs very considerably.
Some remain with us all the year round, the pigeon, for instance;
some for six months, such as the swallow; and some, again, for three
months only, as the thrush, the turtle-dove, and those which take their
departure the moment they have reared their young, the witwall[2989]
and the hoopoe, for instance.


There are some authors who say that every year certain birds[2990]
fly from Æthiopia to Ilium, and have a combat at the tomb of Memnon
there; from which circumstance they have received from them the name
of Memnonides, or birds of Memnon. Cremutius states it also as a fact,
ascertained by himself, that they do the same every fifth year in
Æthiopia, around the palace of Memnon.


In a similar manner also, the birds called meleagrides[2991] fight in
Bœotia. They are a species of African poultry, having a hump on the
back, which is covered with a mottled plumage. These are the latest
among the foreign birds that have been received at our tables, on
account of their disagreeable smell. The tomb, however, of Meleager has
rendered them famous.


Those birds are called seleucides, which are sent by Jupiter at the
prayers offered up to him by the inhabitants of Mount Casius,[2992]
when the locusts are ravaging their crops of corn. Whence they[2993]
come, or whither they go, has never yet been ascertained, as, in fact,
they are never to be seen but when the people stand in need of their

CHAP. 40. (28.)—THE IBIS.

The Egyptians also invoke their ibis against the incursions of
serpents; and the people of Elis, their god Myiagros,[2994] when the
vast multitudes of flies are bringing pestilence among them; the flies
die immediately the propitiatory sacrifice has been made to this god.


With reference to the departure of birds, the owlet, too, is said to
lie concealed for a few days. No birds of this last kind are to be
found in the island of Crete, and if any are imported thither, they
immediately die. Indeed, this is a remarkable distinction made by
Nature; for she denies to certain places, as it were, certain kinds of
fruits and shrubs, and of animals as well; it is singular that when
introduced into these localities they will be no longer productive, but
die immediately they are thus transplanted. What can it be that is thus
fatal to the increase of one particular species, or whence this envy
manifested against them by Nature? What, too, are the limits that have
been marked out for the birds on the face of the earth?

Rhodes[2995] possesses no eagles. In Italy beyond the Padus there is,
near the Alps, a lake known by the name of Larius beautifully situate
amid a country covered with shrubs; and yet this lake is never visited
by storks, nor, indeed, are they ever known to come within eight miles
of it; while, on the other hand, in the neighbouring territory of the
Insubres[2996] there are immense flocks of magpies and jackdaws, the
only[2997] bird that is guilty of stealing gold and silver, a very
singular propensity.

It is said that in the territory of Tarentum, the woodpecker of Mars
is never found. It is only lately too, and that but very rarely, that
various kinds of pies have begun to be seen in the districts that lie
between the Apennines and the City; birds which are known by the name
of “variæ,”[2998] and are remarkable for the length of the tail. It
is a peculiarity of this bird, that it becomes bald every year at the
time of sowing rape. The partridge does not fly beyond the frontiers
of Bœotia, into Attica; nor does any bird, in the island[2999] in the
Euxine in which Achilles was buried, enter the temple there consecrated
to him. In the territory of Fidenæ, in the vicinity of the City,
the storks have no young nor do they build nests: but vast numbers
of ringdoves arrive from beyond sea every year in the district of
Volaterræ. At Rome, neither flies nor dogs ever enter the temple of
Hercules in the Cattle Market. There are numerous other instances of a
similar nature in reference to all kinds of animals, which from time
to time I feel myself prompted by prudent considerations to omit, lest
I should only weary the reader. Theophrastus, for example, relates
that even pigeons, as well as peacocks and ravens, have been introduced
from other parts into Asia,[3000] as also croaking frogs[3001] into


There is another remarkable fact too, relative to the birds which give
omens by their note; they generally change their colour and voice at
a certain season of the year, and suddenly become quite altered in
appearance; a thing that, among the larger birds, happens with the
crane only, which grows black in its old age. From black, the blackbird
changes to a reddish colour, sings in summer, chatters in winter, and
about the summer solstice loses its voice; when a year old, the beak
also assumes the appearance of ivory; this, however, is the case only
with the male. In the summer, the thrush is mottled about the neck, but
in the winter it becomes of one uniform colour all over.


The song of the nightingale is to be heard, without intermission,
for fifteen days and nights, continuously,[3002] when the foliage
is thickening, as it bursts from the bud; a bird which deserves our
admiration in no slight degree. First of all, what a powerful voice in
so small a body! its note, how long, and how well sustained! And then,
too, it is the only bird the notes of which are modulated in accordance
with the strict rules of musical science.[3003] At one moment, as it
sustains its breath, it will prolong its note, and then at another,
will vary it with different inflexions; then, again, it will break into
distinct chirrups, or pour forth an endless series of roulades. Then
it will warble to itself, while taking breath, or else disguise its
voice in an instant; while sometimes, again, it will twitter to itself,
now with a full note, now with a grave, now again sharp, now with a
broken note, and now with a prolonged one. Sometimes, again, when it
thinks fit, it will break out into quavers, and will run through, in
succession, alto, tenor, and bass: in a word, in so tiny a throat is to
be found all the melody that the ingenuity of man has ever discovered
through the medium of the invention of the most exquisite flute: so
much so, that there can be no doubt it was an infallible presage of his
future sweetness as a poet, when one of these creatures perched and
sang on the infant lips of the poet Stesichorus.

That there may remain no doubt that there is a certain degree of art
in its performances, we may here remark that every bird has a number
of notes peculiar to itself; for they do not, all of them, have the
same, but each, certain melodies of its own. They vie with one another,
and the spirit with which they contend is evident to all. The one that
is vanquished, often dies in the contest, and will rather yield its
life than its song. The younger birds are listening in the meantime,
and receive the lesson in song from which they are to profit. The
learner hearkens with the greatest attention, and repeats what it
has heard, and then they are silent by turns; this is understood to
be the correction of an error on the part of the scholar, and a sort
of reproof, as it were, on the part of the teacher. Hence it is that
nightingales fetch as high a price as slaves, and, indeed, sometimes
more than used formerly to be paid for a man in a suit of armour.

I know that on one occasion six thousand sesterces[3004] were paid for
a nightingale, a white one it is true, a thing that is hardly ever to
be seen, to be made a present of to Agrippina, the wife of the Emperor
Claudius. A nightingale has been often seen that will sing at command,
and take alternate parts with the music that accompanies it; men, too,
have been found who could imitate its note with such exactness, that
it would be impossible to tell the difference, by merely putting water
in a reed held crosswise, and then blowing into it, a languette being
first inserted, for the purpose of breaking the sound and rendering it
more shrill.[3005] But these modulations, so clever and so artistic,
begin gradually to cease at the end of the fifteen days; not that you
can say, however, that the bird is either fatigued or tired of singing;
but, as the heat increases, its voice becomes altogether changed, and
possesses no longer either modulation or variety of note. Its colour,
too, becomes changed, and at last, throughout the winter, it totally
disappears. The tongue of the nightingale is not pointed at the tip, as
in other birds. It lays at the beginning of the spring, six eggs at the


The change is different that takes place in the ficedula,[3006] for
this bird changes its shape as well as its colour. “Ficedula” is the
name by which it is called in autumn, but not after that period; for
then it is called “melancoryphus.”[3007] In the same manner, too, the
erithacus[3008] of the winter is the “phœnicurus” of the summer. The
hoopoe also, according to the poet Æschylus, changes its form; it is a
bird that feeds upon filth[3009] of all kinds, and is remarkable for
its twisted top-knot, which it can contract or elevate at pleasure
along the top of the head.


The œnanthe,[3010] too, is a bird that has stated days for its
retreat. At the rising of Sirius it conceals itself, and at the
setting of that star comes forth from its retreat: and this it does, a
most singular thing, exactly upon both those days. The chlorion,[3011]
also, the body of which is yellow all over, is not seen in the winter,
but comes out about the summer solstice.

(30.) The blackbird is found in the vicinity of Cyllene, in Arcadia,
with white[3012] plumage; a thing that is the case nowhere else. The
ibis, in the neighbourhood of Pelusium[3013] only is black, while in
all other places it is white.


The birds that have a note, with the exception of those previously
mentioned,[3014] do not by any chance produce their young before the
vernal or after the autumnal equinox. As to the broods produced before
the summer solstice, it is very doubtful if they will survive, but
those hatched after it thrive well.


It is for this that the halcyon[3015] is more especially remarkable;
the seas, and all those who sail upon their surface, well know the
days of its incubation. This bird is a little larger than a sparrow,
and the greater part of its body is of an azure blue colour, with only
an intermixture of white and purple in some of the larger feathers,
while the neck[3016] is long and slender. There is one kind that is
remarkable for its larger size and its note; the smaller ones are
heard singing in the reed-beds. It is a thing of very rare occurrence
to see a halcyon, and then it is only about the time of the setting
of the Vergiliæ, and the summer and winter solstices; when one is
sometimes to be seen to hover about a ship, and then immediately
disappear. They hatch their young at the time of the winter solstice,
from which circumstance those days are known as the “halcyon days:”
during this period the sea is calm and navigable, the Sicilian sea
in particular. They make their nest during the seven days before
the winter solstice, and sit the same number of days after. Their
nests[3017] are truly wonderful; they are of the shape of a ball
slightly elongated, have a very narrow mouth, and bear a strong
resemblance to a large sponge. It is impossible to cut them asunder
with iron, and they are only to be broken with a strong blow, upon
which they separate, just like foam of the sea when dried up. It has
never yet been discovered of what material they are made; some persons
think that they are formed of sharp fish-bones, as it is on fish that
these birds live. They enter rivers also; their eggs are five in number.


The sea-mew also builds its nest in rocks, and the diver[3018] in trees
as well. These birds produce three at the very most; the sea-mew in
summer, the diver at the beginning of spring.


The form of the nest built by the halcyon reminds me also of the
instinctive cleverness displayed by other birds; and, indeed, in no
respect is the ingenuity of birds more deserving of our admiration. The
swallow builds its nest of mud, and strengthens it with straws. If mud
happens to fail, it soaks itself with a quantity of water, which it
then shakes from off its feathers into the dust. It lines the inside
of the nest with soft feathers and wool, to keep the eggs warm, and
in order that the nest may not be hard and rough to its young when
hatched. It divides the food among its offspring with the most rigid
justice, giving it first to one and then to another. With a remarkable
notion of cleanliness, it throws out of the nest the ordure of the
young ones, and when they have grown a little older, teaches them how
to turn round, and let it fall outside of the nest.

There is another[3019] kind of swallow, also, that frequents the
fields and the country; its nest is of a different shape, though of
the same materials, but it rarely builds it against houses. The nest
has its mouth turned straight upwards, and the entrance to it is long
and narrow, while the body is very capacious. It is quite wonderful
what skill is displayed in the formation of it, for the purpose of
concealing the young ones, and of presenting a soft surface for them to
lie upon. At the Heracleotic Mouth of the Nile in Egypt, the swallows
present an insuperable obstacle to the inroads of that river, in the
embankment which is formed by their nests in one continuous line,
nearly a stadium in length; a thing that could not possibly have been
effected by the agency of man. In Egypt, too, near the city of Coptos,
there is an island sacred to Isis. In the early days of spring, the
swallows strengthen the angular corner of this island with chaff and
straw, thus fortifying it in order that the river may not sweep it
away. This work they persevere in for three days and nights together,
with such unremitting labour, that it is a well-known fact that many
of them die with their exertions. This, too, is a toil which recurs
regularly for them every year.

There is, again, a third kind[3020] of swallow, which makes holes in
the banks of rivers, to serve for its nest. The young of these birds,
reduced to ashes, are a good specific against mortal maladies of the
throat, and tend to cure many other diseases of the human body. These
birds do not build nests, and they take care to migrate a good many
days before, if it so happens that the rise of the river is about to
reach their holes.


Belonging to the genus of birds known as the “vitiparræ,” there is
one[3021] whose nest is formed of dried moss,[3022] and is in shape so
exactly like a ball, that it is impossible to discover the mouth of it.
The bird, also, that is known as the acanthyllis,[3023] makes its nest
of a similar shape, and interweaves it with pieces of flax. The nest of
one of the woodpeckers, very much like a cup in shape, is suspended by
a twig from the end of the branch of a tree, so that no quadruped may
be able to reach it. It is strongly asserted, that the witwall[3024]
sleeps suspended by its feet, because it fancies that by doing so it
is in greater safety. A thing, indeed, that is well-known of them all,
is the fact that, in a spirit of foresight, they select the projecting
branches of trees that are sufficiently strong, for the purpose of
supporting their nests, and then arch them over to protect them from
the rain, or else shield them by means of the thickness of the foliage.

In Arabia there is a bird known as the “cinnamolgus.”[3025] It builds
its nest with sprigs of cinnamon; and the natives knock them down with
arrows loaded with lead, in order to sell them. In Scythia there is a
bird, the size of the otis, which produces two young ones always, in
a hare’s skin suspended[3026] from the top branches of a tree. Pies,
when they have observed a person steadily gazing at their nest, will
immediately remove their eggs to another place. This is said to be
accomplished in a truly wonderful manner, by such birds as have not
toes adapted for holding and removing their eggs. They lay a twig upon
two eggs, and then solder them to it by means of a glutinous matter
secreted from their body; after which, they pass their neck between the
eggs, and so forming an equipoise, convey them to another place.


No less, too, is the shrewdness displayed by those birds which make
their nests upon the ground, because, from the extreme weight of their
body, they are unable to fly aloft. There is a bird, known as the
“merops,”[3027] which feeds its parents in their retreat: the colour of
the plumage on the inside is pale, and azure without, while it is of a
somewhat reddish hue at the extremity of the wings: this bird builds
its nest in a hole which it digs to the depth of six feet.

Partridges[3028] fortify their retreat so well with thorns and shrubs,
that it is effectually protected against beasts of prey. They make a
soft bed for their eggs by burying them in the dust, but do not hatch
them where they are laid: that no suspicion may arise from the fact
of their being seen repeatedly about the same spot, they carry them
away to some other place. The females also conceal themselves from
their mates, in order that they may not be delayed in the process
of incubation, as the males, in consequence of the warmth of their
passions, are apt to break the eggs. The males, thus deprived of the
females, fall to fighting among themselves; and it is said that the one
that is conquered, is treated as a female by the other. Trogus Pompeius
tells us that quails and dunghill cocks sometimes do the same; and
adds, that wild partridges, when newly caught, or when beaten by the
others, are trodden promiscuously by the tame ones. Through the very
pugnacity thus inspired by the strength of their passions, these birds
are often taken, as the leader of the whole covey frequently advances
to fight with the decoy-bird of the fowler; as soon as he is taken,
another and then another will advance, all of which are caught in their
turn. The females, again, are caught about the pairing season; for then
they will come forward to quarrel with the female decoy-bird of the
fowler, and so drive her away. Indeed, in no other animal is there any
such susceptibility in the sexual feelings; if the female only stands
opposite to the male, while the wind is blowing from that direction,
she[3029] will become impregnated; and during this time she is in a
state of the greatest excitement, the beak being wide open and the
tongue thrust out. The female will conceive also from the action of
the air, as the male flies above her, and very often from only hearing
his voice: indeed, to such a degree does passion get the better of her
affection for her offspring, that although at the moment she is sitting
furtively and in concealment, she will, if she perceives the female
decoy-bird of the fowler approaching her mate, call him back, and
summon him away from the other, and voluntarily submit to his advances.

Indeed, these birds are often carried away by such frantic madness,
that they will settle, being quite blinded by fear,[3030] upon the
very head of the fowler. If he happens to move in the direction of the
nest, the female bird that is sitting will run and throw herself before
his feet, pretending to be over-heavy, or else weak in the loins, and
then, suddenly running or flying for a short distance before him, will
fall down as though she had a wing broken, or else her feet; just as
he is about to catch her, she will then take another fly, and so keep
baffling him in his hopes, until she has led him to a considerable
distance from her nest. As soon as she is rid of her fears, and free
from all maternal disquietude, she will throw herself on her back in
some furrow, and seizing a clod of earth with her claws, cover herself
all over. It is supposed that the life of the partridge extends to
sixteen years.

CHAP. 52. (34.)—PIGEONS.

Next to the partridge, it is in the pigeon that similar tendencies
are to be seen in the same respect: but then, chastity is especially
observed by it, and promiscuous intercourse is a thing quite unknown.
Although inhabiting a domicile in common with others, they will none
of them violate the laws of conjugal fidelity: not one will desert
its nest, unless it is either widower or widow. Although, too, the
males are very imperious, and sometimes even extremely exacting, the
females put up with it: for in fact, the males sometimes suspect them
of infidelity, though by nature they are incapable of it. On such
occasions the throat of the male seems quite choked with indignation,
and he inflicts severe blows with the beak: and then afterwards, to
make some atonement, he falls to billing, and by way of pressing his
amorous solicitations, sidles round and round the female with his feet.
They both of them manifest an equal degree of affection for their
offspring; indeed, it is not unfrequently that this is a ground for
correction, in consequence of the female being too slow in going to her
young. When the female is sitting, the male renders her every attention
that can in any way tend to her solace and comfort. The first thing
that they do is to eject from the throat some saltish earth, which they
have digested, into the mouths of the young ones, in order to prepare
them in due time to receive their nutriment. It is a peculiarity of
the pigeon and of the turtle-dove, not to throw back the neck when
drinking, but to take in the water at a long draught, just as beasts of
burden do.

(35.) We read in some authors that the ring-dove lives so long as
thirty years, and sometimes as much as forty, without any other
inconvenience than the extreme length of the claws, which with them, in
fact, is the chief mark of old age; they can be cut, however, without
any danger. The voice of all these birds is similar, being composed
of three notes, and then a mournful noise at the end. In winter they
are silent, and they only recover their voice in the spring. Nigidius
expresses it as his opinion that the ring-dove will abandon the place,
if she hears her name mentioned under the roof where she is sitting on
her eggs: they hatch their young just after[3031] the summer solstice.
Pigeons and turtle-doves live eight years.

(36.) The sparrow, on the other hand, which has an equal degree of
salaciousness, is short-lived in the extreme. It is said that the male
does not live beyond a year; and as a ground for this belief, it is
stated that at the beginning of spring, the black marks are never to be
seen upon the beak which began to appear in the summer. The females,
however, are said to live somewhat longer.

Pigeons have even a certain appreciation of glory. There is reason for
believing that they are well aware of the colours of their plumage,
and the various shades which it presents, and even in their very
mode of flying they court our applause, as they cleave the air in
every direction. It is, indeed, through this spirit of ostentation
that they are handed over, fast bound as it were, to the hawk; for
from the noise that they make, which, in fact, is only produced by
the flapping of their wings, their long feathers become twisted and
disordered: otherwise, when they can fly without any impediment, they
are far swifter in their movements than the hawk. The robber, lurking
amid the dense foliage, keeps on the look-out for them, and seizes
them at the very moment that they are indulging their vainglorious

(37.) It is for this reason that it is necessary to keep along with
the pigeons the bird that is known as the “tinnunculus;”[3032] as it
protects them, and by its natural superiority scares away the hawk: so
much so, indeed, that the hawk will vanish at the very sight of it,
and the instant it hears its voice. Hence it is that the pigeons have
an especial regard for this bird; and, it is said, if one of these
birds is buried at each of the four corners of the pigeon-house in
pots that have been newly glazed, the pigeons will not change their
abode—a result which has been obtained by some by cutting a joint of
their wings with an instrument of gold; for if any other were used,
the wounds would be not unattended with danger.—The pigeon in general
may be looked upon as a bird fond of change; they have the art, too,
among themselves of gaining one another over, and so seducing their
companions: hence it is that we frequently find them return attended by
others which they have enticed away.


In addition to this, pigeons have acted as messengers in affairs of
importance. During the siege of Mutina, Decimus Brutus, who was in the
town, sent despatches to the camp of the consuls[3033] fastened to
pigeons’ feet. Of what use to Antony then were his intrenchments, and
all the vigilance of the besieging army? his nets, too, which he had
spread in the river, while the messenger of the besieged was cleaving
the air?

Many persons have quite a mania for pigeons—building towns for them on
the top of their roofs, and taking a pleasure in relating the pedigree
and noble origin of each. Of this there is an ancient instance that is
very remarkable; L. Axius, a Roman of the equestrian order, shortly
before the Civil War of Pompeius, sold a single pair for four hundred
denarii, as we learn from the writings of M. Varro.[3034] Countries
even have gained renown for their pigeons; it is thought that those of
Campania attain the largest size.


The flight of the pigeon also leads me to consider that of other birds
as well. All other animals have one determinate mode of progression,
which in every kind is always the same; it is birds alone that have
two modes of moving—the one on the ground, the other in the air.
Some of them walk, such as the crow, for instance; some hop, as the
sparrow and the blackbird; some, again, run, as the partridge and the
woodhen; while others throw one foot before the other, the stork and
the crane, for instance. Then again, in their flight, some birds expand
their wings, and, poising themselves in the air, only move them from
time to time; others move them more frequently, but then only at the
extremities; while others expand them so as to expose the whole of the
side. On the other hand, some fly with the greater part of the wings
kept close to the side; and some, after striking the air once, others
twice, make their way through it, as though pressing upon it enclosed
beneath their wings; other birds dart aloft in a vertical direction,
others horizontally, and others come falling straight downwards. You
would almost think that some had been hurled upwards with a violent
effort, and that others, again, had fallen straight down from aloft;
while others are seen to spring forward in their flight. Ducks alone,
and the other birds of that kind, in an instant raise themselves aloft,
taking a spring from the spot where they stand straight upwards towards
the heavens; and this they can do from out of the water even; hence it
is that they are the only birds that can make their escape from the
pitfalls which we employ for the capture of wild beasts.

The vulture and the heavier wild birds can only fly after taking a
run, or else by commencing their flight from an elevated spot. They
use the tail by way of rudder. There are some birds that are able to
see all around them; others, again, have to turn the neck to do so.
Some of them eat what they have seized, holding it in their feet. Many,
as they fly, utter some cry; while on the other hand, many, in their
flight, are silent. Some fly with the breast half upright, others with
it held downwards, others fly obliquely, or else side-ways, and others
following the direction of the bill. Some, again, are borne along with
the head upwards; indeed the fact is, that if we were to see several
kinds at the same moment, we should not suppose that they have to make
their way in the same element.


Those birds which are known as “apodes”[3035] fly the most of all,
because they are deprived of the use of their feet. By some persons
they are called “cypseli.” They are a species of swallow which build
their nests in the rocks, and are the same birds that are to be seen
everywhere at sea; indeed, however far a ship may go, however long its
voyage, and however great the distance from land, the apodes never
cease to hover around it. Other birds settle and come to a stand,
whereas these know no repose but in the nest; they are always either on
the wing or else asleep.


The instincts, also, of birds are no less varied, and more especially
in relation to their food. “Caprimulgus”[3036] is the name of a bird,
which is to all appearance a large blackbird; it thieves by night, as
it cannot see during the day. It enters the folds of the shepherds,
and makes straight for the udder of the she-goat, to suck the milk.
Through the injury thus inflicted the udder shrivels away, and the goat
that has been thus deprived of its milk, is afflicted with incipient

“Platea”[3037] is the name of another, which pounces upon other birds
when they have dived in the sea, and, seizing the head with its bill,
makes them let go their prey. This bird also swallows and fills itself
with shell-fish, shells and all; after the natural heat of its crop has
softened them, it brings them up again, and then picking out the shells
from the rest, selects the parts that are fit for food.


The farm-yard fowls have also a certain notion of religion; upon laying
an egg they shudder all over, and then shake their feathers; after
which they turn round and purify[3038] themselves, or else hallow[3039]
themselves and their eggs with some stalk or other. (42.) The
carduelis,[3040] which is the very smallest bird of any, will do what
it is bid, not only with the voice but with the feet as well, and with
the beak, which serves it instead of hands. There is one bird, found
in the territory of Arelate, that imitates the lowing of oxen, from
which circumstance it has received the name of “taurus.”[3041] In other
respects it is of small size. Another bird, called the “anthus,”[3042]
imitates the neighing of the horse; upon being driven from the pasture
by the approach of the horses, it will mimic their voices—and this is
the method it takes of revenging itself.


But above all, there are some birds that can imitate the human voice;
the parrot, for instance, which can even converse. India sends us
this bird, which it calls by the name of “sittaces;”[3043] the body
is green all over, only it is marked with a ring of red around the
neck. It will duly salute an emperor, and pronounce the words it has
heard spoken; it is rendered especially frolicsome under the influence
of wine. Its head is as hard as its beak; and this, when it is being
taught to talk, is beaten with a rod of iron, for otherwise it is quite
insensible to blows. When it lights on the ground it falls upon its
beak, and by resting upon it makes itself all the lighter for its feet,
which are naturally weak.


The magpie is much less famous for its talking qualities than the
parrot, because it does not come from a distance, and yet it can speak
with much more distinctness. These birds love to hear words spoken
which they can utter; and not only do they learn them, but are pleased
at the task; and as they con them over to themselves with the greatest
care and attention, make no secret of the interest they feel. It is a
well-known fact, that a magpie has died before now, when it has found
itself mastered by a difficult word that it could not pronounce. Their
memory, however, will fail them if they do not from time to time hear
the same word repeated; and while they are trying to recollect it, they
will show the most extravagant joy, if they happen to hear it. Their
appearance, although there is nothing remarkable in it, is by no means
plain; but they have quite sufficient beauty in their singular ability
to imitate the human speech.

It is said, however, that it is only the kind[3044] of pie which feeds
upon acorns that can be taught to speak; and that among these, those
which[3045] have five toes on each foot can be taught with the greatest
facility; but in their case even, only during the first two years of
their life. The magpie has a broader tongue than is usual with most
other birds; which is the case also with all the other birds that can
imitate the human voice; although some individuals of almost every kind
have the faculty of doing so.

Agrippina, the wife of Claudius Cæsar, had a thrush that could imitate
human speech, a thing that was never known before. At the moment
that I am writing this, the young Cæsars[3046] have a starling and
some nightingales that are being taught to talk in Greek and Latin;
besides which, they are studying their task the whole day, continually
repeating the new words that they have learnt, and giving utterance
to phrases even of considerable length. Birds are taught to talk in a
retired spot, and where no other voice can be heard, so as to interfere
with their lesson; a person sits by them, and continually repeats the
words he wishes them to learn, while at the same time he encourages
them by giving them food.


Let us do justice, also, to the raven, whose merits have been attested
not only by the sentiments of the Roman people, but by the strong
expression, also, of their indignation. In the reign of Tiberius,
one of a brood of ravens that had bred on the top of the temple of
Castor,[3047] happened to fly into a shoemaker’s shop that stood
opposite: upon which, from a feeling of religious veneration, it was
looked upon as doubly recommended by the owner of the place. The bird,
having been taught to speak at an early age, used every morning to
fly to the Rostra, which look towards the Forum; here, addressing
each by his name, it would salute Tiberius, and then the Cæsars[3048]
Germanicus and Drusus, after which it would proceed to greet the Roman
populace as they passed, and then return to the shop: for several years
it was remarkable for the constancy of its attendance. The owner of
another shoemaker’s shop in the neighbourhood, in a sudden fit of anger
killed the bird, enraged, as he would have had it appear, because with
its ordure it had soiled some shoes of his. Upon this, there was such
rage manifested by the multitude, that he was at once driven from that
part of the city, and soon after put to death. The funeral, too, of the
bird was celebrated with almost endless obsequies; the body was placed
upon a litter carried upon the shoulders of two Æthiopians, preceded
by a piper, and borne to the pile with garlands of every size and
description. The pile was erected on the right-hand side of the Appian
Way, at the second milestone from the City, in the field generally
known as the “field of Rediculus.”[3049] Thus did the rare talent of
a bird appear a sufficient ground to the Roman people for honouring
it with funeral obsequies, as well as for inflicting punishment on a
Roman citizen; and that, too, in a city in which no such crowds had
ever escorted the funeral of any one out of the whole number of its
distinguished men, and where no one had been found to avenge the death
of Scipio Æmilianus,[3050] the man who had destroyed Carthage and
Numantia. This event happened in the consulship of M. Servilius and
Caius Cestius, on the fifth day[3051] before the calends of April.

At the present day also, the moment that I am writing this, there is in
the city of Rome a crow which belongs to a Roman of equestrian rank,
and was brought from Bætica. In the first place, it is remarkable[3052]
for its colour, which is of the deepest black, and at the same time it
is able to pronounce several connected words, while it is repeatedly
learning fresh ones. Recently, too, there has been a story told about
Craterus, surnamed Monoceros,[3053] in Erizena,[3054] a country of
Asia, who was in the habit of hunting with the assistance of ravens,
and used to carry them into the woods, perched on the tuft of his
helmet and on his shoulders. The birds used to keep on the watch
for game, and raise it; and by training he had brought this art to
such a pitch of perfection, that even the wild ravens would attend
him in a similar manner when he went out. Some authors have thought
the following circumstance deserving of remembrance:—A crow that was
thirsty was seen heaping stones into the urn on a monument, in which
there was some rain-water which it could not reach: and so, being
afraid to go down to the water, by thus accumulating the stones, it
caused as much water to come within its reach as was necessary to
satisfy its thirst.


Nor yet must I pass by the birds[3055] of Diomedes in silence. Juba
calls these birds “cataractæ,” and says that they have teeth and eyes
of a fiery colour, while the rest of the body is white: that they
always have two chiefs, the one to lead the main body, the other to
take charge of the rear; that they excavate holes with their bills,
and then cover them with hurdles, which they cover again with the
earth that has been thus thrown up; that it is in these places they
hatch their young; that each of these holes has two outlets; that one
of them looks towards the east, and that by it they go forth to feed,
returning by the one which looks towards the west; and that when about
to ease themselves, they always take to the wing, and fly against the
wind. In one spot only throughout the whole earth are these birds to be
seen, in the island, namely, which we have mentioned[3056] as famous
for the tomb and shrine of Diomedes, lying over against the coast of
Apulia: they bear a strong resemblance to the coot. When strangers who
are barbarians arrive on that island, they pursue them with loud and
clamorous cries, and only show courtesy to Greeks by birth; seeming
thereby, with a wonderful discernment, to pay respect to them as the
fellow-countrymen of Diomedes. Every day they fill their throats,
and cover their feathers, with water, and so wash and purify the
temple there. From this circumstance arises the fable[3057] that the
companions of Diomedes were metamorphosed into these birds.


We ought not to omit, while we are speaking of instincts, that among
birds the swallow[3058] is quite incapable of being taught, and among
land animals the mouse; while on the other hand, the elephant does what
it is ordered, the lion submits to the yoke, and the sea-calf and many
kinds of fishes are capable of being tamed.


Birds drink by suction; those which have a long neck taking their drink
in a succession of draughts, and throwing the head back, as though
they were pouring the water down the throat. The porphyrio[3059] is
the only bird that seems to bite at the water as it drinks. The same
bird has also other peculiarities of its own; for it will every now and
then dip its food in the water, and then lift it with its foot to its
bill, using it as a hand. Those that are the most esteemed are found in
Commagene. They have beaks and very long legs, of a red colour.


There are the same characteristics in the hæmatopous[3060] also, a bird
of much smaller size, although standing as high on the legs. It is a
native of Egypt, and has three toes on each foot; flies[3061] forming
its principal food. If brought to Italy, it survives for a few days


All the heavy birds are frugivorous; while those with a higher flight
feed upon flesh only. Among the aquatic birds, the divers[3062] are in
the habit of devouring what the other birds have disgorged.


The pelican is similar in appearance to the swan, and it would be
thought that there was no difference between them whatever, were
it not for the fact that under the throat there is a sort of second
crop, as it were. It is in this that the ever-insatiate animal stows
everything away, so much so, that the capacity of this pouch is quite
astonishing. After having finished its search for prey, it discharges
bit by bit what it has thus stowed away, and reconveys it by a sort of
ruminating process into its real stomach. The part of Gallia that lies
nearest to the Northern Ocean produces this bird.


In the Hercynian Forest, in Germany, we hear of a singular[3063]
kind of bird, the feathers of which shine at night like fire; the
other birds there have nothing remarkable beyond the celebrity which
generally attaches to objects situate at a distance.

(48.) The phalerides,[3064] the most esteemed of all the aquatic birds,
are found at Seleucia, the city of the Parthians of that name, and in
Asia as well; and again, in Colchis, there is the pheasant,[3065] a
bird with two tufts of feathers like ears, which it drops and raises
every now and then. The numidicæ[3066] come from Numidia, a part of
Africa: all these varieties are now to be found in Italy.


Apicius, that very deepest whirlpool of all our epicures, has informed
us that the tongue of the phœnicopterus[3067] is of the most exquisite
flavour. The attagen,[3068] also, of Ionia is a famous bird; but
although it has a voice at other times, it is mute in captivity. It was
formerly[3069] reckoned among the rare birds, but at the present day it
is found in Gallia, Spain, and in the Alps even; which is also the case
with the phalacrocorax,[3070] a bird peculiar to the Balearic Isles, as
the pyrrhocorax,[3071] a black bird with a yellow bill, is to the Alps,
and the lagopus,[3072] which is esteemed for its excellent flavour.
This last bird derives its name from its feet, which are covered, as
it were, with the fur of a hare, the rest of the body being white, and
the size of a pigeon. It is not an easy matter to taste it out of its
native country, as it never becomes domesticated, and when dead it
quickly spoils.

There is another[3073] bird also, which has the same name, and only
differs from the quail in size; it is of a saffron colour, and is most
delicate eating. Egnatius Calvinus, who was prefect there, pretends
that he has seen[3074] in the Alps the ibis also, a bird that is
peculiar to Egypt.


During the civil wars that took place at Bebriacum, beyond the river
Padus, the “new birds”[3075] were introduced into Italy—for by that
name they are still known. They resemble the thrush in appearance, are
a little smaller than the pigeon in size, and of an agreeable flavour.
The Balearic islands also send us a porphyrio,[3076] that is superior
to the one previously mentioned. There the buteo, a kind of hawk, is
held in high esteem for the table, as also the vipio,[3077] the name
given to a small kind of crane.


I look upon the birds as fabulous which are called “pegasi,” and are
said to have a horse’s head; as also the griffons, with long ears and
a hooked beak. The former are said to be natives of Scythia,[3078]
the latter of Æthiopia. The same is my opinion, also, as to the
tragopan;[3079] many writers, however, assert that it is larger than
the eagle, has curved horns on the temples, and a plumage of iron
colour, with the exception of the head, which is purple. Nor yet do the
sirens[3080] obtain any greater credit with me, although Dinon, the
father of Clearchus, a celebrated writer, asserts that they exist in
India, and that they charm men by their song, and, having first lulled
them to sleep, tear them to pieces. The person, however, who may think
fit to believe in these tales, may probably not refuse to believe also
that dragons licked the ears of Melampodes, and bestowed upon him the
power of understanding the language of birds; as also what Democritus
says, when he gives the names of certain birds, by the mixture of whose
blood a serpent is produced, the person who eats of which will be able
to understand the language of birds; as well as the statements which
the same writer makes relative to one bird in particular, known as the
“galerita,”[3081]—indeed, the science of augury is already too much
involved in embarrassing questions, without these fanciful reveries.

There is a kind of bird spoken of by Homer as the “scops:”[3082] but
I cannot very easily comprehend the grotesque movements which many
persons have attributed to it, when the fowler is laying snares for
it; nor, indeed, is it a bird that is any longer known to exist.
It will be better, therefore, to confine my relation to those the
existence of which is generally admitted.


The people of Delos were the first to cram poultry; and it is with them
that originated that abominable mania for devouring fattened birds,
larded with the grease of their own bodies. I find in the ancient
sumptuary regulations as to banquets, that this was forbidden for the
first time by a law of the consul Caius Fannius, eleven years before
the Third Punic War; by which it was ordered that no bird should be
served at table beyond a single pullet, and that not fattened; an
article which has since made its appearance in all the sumptuary[3083]
laws. A method, however, has been devised of evading it, by feeding
poultry upon food that has been soaked in milk: prepared in this
fashion, they are considered even still more delicate. All pullets,
however, are not looked upon as equally good for the purposes of
fattening, and only those are selected which have a fatty skin about
the neck. Then, too, come all the arts of the kitchen—that the thighs
may have a nice plump appearance, that the bird may be properly divided
down the back, and that poultry may be brought to such a size that a
single leg shall fill a whole platter.[3084] The Parthians, too, have
taught their fashions to our cooks; and yet after all, in spite of
their refinements in luxury, no article is found to please equally in
every part, for in one it is the thigh, and in another the breast only,
that is esteemed.


The first person who invented aviaries for the reception of all kinds
of birds was M. Lænius Strabo, a member of the equestrian order,
who resided at Brundisium. It was in his time that we thus began to
imprison animals to which Nature had assigned the heavens as their

(51.) But more remarkable than anything in this respect, is the story
of the dish of Clodius Æsopus,[3085] the tragic actor, which was valued
at one hundred thousand sesterces, and in which were served up nothing
but birds that had been remarkable for their song, or their imitation
of the human voice, and purchased, each of them, at the price of six
thousand sesterces; he being induced to this folly by no other pleasure
than that in these he might eat the closest imitators of man; never for
a moment reflecting that his own immense fortune had been acquired by
the advantages of his voice; a parent, indeed, right worthy of the son
of whom we have already made mention,[3086] as swallowing pearls. It
would not, to say the truth, be very easy to come to a conclusion which
of the two was guilty of the greatest baseness; unless, indeed, we
are ready to admit that it was less unseemly to banquet upon the most
costly of all the productions of Nature, than to devour[3087] tongues
which had given utterance to the language of man.


The generation of birds would appear to be very simple, while at the
same time it has its own peculiar marvels. Indeed, there are quadrupeds
as well that produce eggs, the chameleon, for instance, the lizard, and
those of the serpent tribe of which we have previously spoken.[3088] Of
the feathered race, those which have hooked talons are comparatively
unprolific; the cenchris[3089] being the only one among them that lays
more than four eggs. Nature has so ordained it in the birds, that the
timid ones should be more prolific than those which are courageous. The
ostrich, the common fowl, and the partridge, are the only birds that
lay eggs in considerable numbers. Birds have two modes of coupling,
the female crouching on the ground, as in the barn-door fowl, or else
standing, as is the case with the crane.


Some eggs are white, as those of the pigeon and partridge, for
instance; others are of a pale colour, as in the aquatic birds: others,
again, are dotted all over with spots, as is the case with those of the
meleagris; others are red, like those of the pheasant and the cenchris.
In the inside, the eggs of all birds are of two colours; those of the
aquatic kind have more of the yellow than the white, and the yellow is
of a paler tint than in those of other birds. Among fish, the eggs are
of the same colour throughout, there being, in fact, no white. The eggs
of birds are of a brittle nature, in consequence of the natural heat
of the animal, while those of serpents are supple, in consequence of
their coldness, and those of fish soft, from their natural humidity.
Again, the eggs of aquatic birds are round, while those of most other
kinds are elongated, and taper to a point. Eggs are laid with the round
end foremost, and at the moment that they are laid the shell is soft,
but it immediately grows hard, as each portion becomes exposed to the
air. Horatius Flaccus[3090] expresses it as his opinion that those eggs
which are of an oblong shape are of the most agreeable flavour. The
rounder eggs are those which produce[3091] the female, the others the
male. The umbilical[3092] cord is in the upper part of the egg, like a
drop floating on the surface in the shell.

(53.) There are some birds that couple at all seasons of the year,
barn-door fowls, for instance; they lay, too, at all times, with the
exception of two months at mid-winter. Pullets lay more eggs than the
older hens, but then they are smaller. In the same brood those chickens
are the smallest that are hatched the first and the last. These
animals, indeed, are so prolific, that some of them will lay as many as
sixty eggs, some daily, some twice a day, and some in such vast numbers
that they have been known to die from exhaustion. Those known as the
“Adrianæ,”[3093] are the most esteemed. Pigeons sit ten times a year,
and some of them eleven, and in Egypt during the month of the winter
solstice even. Swallows, blackbirds, ring-doves, and turtle-doves sit
twice a year, most other birds only once. Thrushes make their nests
of mud, in the tops of trees, almost touching one another, and lay
during the time of their retirement. The egg comes to maturity in the
ovary ten days after treading; but if the hen or pigeon is tormented
by pulling out the feathers, or by the infliction of any injury of a
similar nature, the maturing of the egg is retarded.

In the middle of the yolk of every egg there is what appears to be a
little drop[3094] of blood; this is supposed to be the heart of the
chicken, it being the general belief that that part is formed the first
in every animal: at all events, while in the egg this speck is seen
to throb and palpitate. The body of the animal itself is formed from
the white fluid[3095] in the egg; while the yellow part constitutes
its food. The head in every kind, while in the shell, is larger than
the rest of the body; the eyes, too, are closed, and are larger than
the other parts of the head. As the chicken grows, the white gradually
passes to the middle of the egg, while the yellow is spread around
it. On the twentieth day, if the egg is shaken, the voice of the now
living animal can be heard in the shell. From this time it gradually
becomes clothed with feathers; and its position is such that it has
the head above the right foot, and the right wing above the head: the
yolk in the meantime gradually disappears. All birds are born with the
feet first, while with every other animal the contrary is the case.
Some hens lay all their eggs with two yolks, and sometimes hatch twin
chickens from the same egg, one being larger than the other, according
to Cornelius Celsus: other writers, however, deny[3096] the possibility
of twin chickens being hatched. It is a rule never to give a brood hen
more than twenty-five[3097] eggs to sit upon at once. Hens begin to lay
immediately after the winter solstice. The best broods are those which
are hatched before the vernal equinox: chickens that are hatched after
the summer solstice, never attain their full growth, and the more so,
the later they are produced.


Those eggs which have been laid within the last ten days, are the
best for putting under the hen; old ones, or those which have just
been laid, will be unfruitful; an uneven number[3098] also ought to
be placed. On the fourth day after the hen has begun to sit, if,
upon taking an egg with one hand by the two ends and holding it up
to the light, it is found to be clear and of one uniform colour, it
is most likely to be barren, and another should be substituted in
its place. There is also a way of testing them by means of water; an
empty egg will float on the surface, while those that fall to the
bottom, or, in other words, are full, should be placed under the hen.
Care must be taken, however, not to make trial by shaking them, for
if the organs which are necessary for life become confused, they will
come to nothing.[3099] Incubation ought to begin just after the new
moon; for, if commenced before, the eggs will be unproductive. The
chickens are hatched sooner if the weather is warm: hence it is that
in summer they break the shell on the nineteenth day, but in winter
on the twenty-fifth only. If it happens to thunder during the time of
incubation, the eggs are addled, and if the cry of a hawk is heard
they are spoilt. The best remedy against the effects of thunder, is to
put an iron nail beneath the straw on which the eggs are laid, or else
some earth from off a ploughshare. Some eggs, however, are hatched by
the spontaneous action of Nature, without the process of incubation,
as is the case in the dung-hills of Egypt. There is a well-known story
related about a man at Syracuse, who was in the habit of covering eggs
with earth,[3100] and then continuing his drinking bout till they were


And, what is even more singular still, eggs can be hatched also by
a human being. Julia Augusta, when pregnant in her early youth of
Tiberius Cæsar, by Nero, was particularly desirous that her offspring
should be a son, and accordingly employed the following mode of
divination, which was then much in use among young women: she carried
an egg in her bosom, taking care, whenever she was obliged to put it
down, to give it to her nurse to warm in her own, that there might be
no interruption in the heat: it is stated that the result promised by
this mode of augury was not falsified.

It was perhaps from this circumstance, that the modern invention took
its rise, of placing eggs in a warm spot and covering them with chaff,
the heat being maintained by a moderate fire, while in the meantime
a man is employed in turning them. By the adoption of this plan, the
young, all of them, break the shell on a stated day. There is a story
told of a breeder of poultry, of such remarkable skill, that on seeing
an egg he could tell which hen had laid it. It is said also that when
a hen has happened to die while sitting, the males have been seen
to take her place in turns, and perform all the other duties of a
brood-hen, taking care in the meantime to abstain from crowing. But
the most remarkable thing of all, is the sight of a hen, beneath which
ducks’ eggs have been put and hatched.—At first, she is unable to
quite recognize the brood as her own, while in her anxiety she gives
utterance to her clucking as she doubtfully calls them; then at last
she will stand at the margin of the pond, uttering her laments, while
the ducklings, with Nature for their guide, are diving beneath the


The breed of a fowl is judged of by the erectness of the crest, which
is sometimes double, its black wings, reddish beak, and toes of unequal
number, there being sometimes a fifth placed transversely above the
other four. For the purposes of divination, those that have a yellow
beak and feet are not considered pure; while for the secret rites of
Bona Dea, black ones are chosen. There is also a dwarf[3101] species
of fowl, which is not barren either; a thing that is the case with no
other kind of bird. These dwarfs, however, rarely lay at any stated
periods, and their incubation is productive of injury[3102] to the


The most dangerous malady with every kind of fowl is that known as the
“pituita;;”[3103] which is prevalent more particularly between the
times of harvest and vintage. The mode of treatment is to put them on a
spare diet, and to expose them, while asleep, to the action of smoke,
and more especially that of bay leaves or of the herb called savin. A
feather also is inserted, and passed across through the nostrils, care
being taken to move it every day; while their food consists of leeks
mixed with speltmeal, or else is first soaked in water in which an
owlet has been dipped, or boiled together with the seeds of the white
vine. There are also some other receipts besides.


Pigeons have the peculiarity of billing before they couple; they
generally lay two eggs, Nature so willing it, that among birds the
produce should be more frequent with some, and more numerous with
others. The ring-dove and turtle-dove mostly lay three eggs, and never
more than twice, in the spring; such being the case when the first
brood has been lost. Although they may happen to lay three eggs, they
never hatch more than two; the third egg, which is barren, is generally
known by the name of “urinum.”[3104] The female ring-dove sits on the
eggs from mid-day till morning, the male the rest of the time. Pigeons
always produce a male and a female; the male first, the female the
day after. Both the male and the female pigeon sit on the eggs; the
male in the day-time, the female during the night. They hatch on the
twentieth day of incubation, and lay the fifth day after coupling.
Sometimes, indeed, in summer, these birds will rear three couples in
two months; for then they hatch on the eighteenth day of incubation,
and immediately conceive again; hence it is that eggs are often found
among the young ones, some of which last are just taking wing, while
others are only bursting the shell. The young ones, themselves, begin
to produce at the age of five months. The females, if there should
happen to be no male among them, will even tread each other, and lay
barren eggs, from which nothing is produced. By the Greeks, these eggs
are called “hypenemia.”[3105]

(59.) The pea-hen produces at three years old. In the first year
she will lay one or two eggs, in the next four or five, and in the
remaining years twelve, but never beyond that number. She lays for two
or three days at intervals, and will produce three broods in the year,
if care is taken to put the eggs under a common hen. The males are apt
to break the eggs in getting at the females while sitting, and hence it
is that the pea-hen lays by night, and in secret places, or else sits
on her eggs in an elevated spot; the eggs will break, too, unless they
are received upon some surface that is soft. One male is sufficient for
every five females; when there are only one or two females to a male,
all chance of their being prolific is spoilt through their extreme
salaciousness. The young breaks the shell in twenty-seven days, or, at
the very latest, on the thirtieth.

Geese pair in the water, and lay in spring; or, if they have paired
in the winter, they lay about forty eggs, after the summer solstice.
The hatching takes place twice in the year, if a hen hatches the first
brood; otherwise, their greatest number of eggs will be sixteen,
their lowest seven. If their eggs are taken away from them, they will
keep on laying until they burst; they will not hatch the eggs of any
other birds. The best number of eggs for placing under the goose for
hatching, is nine, or else eleven. The females only sit, and that for
thirty days; but if they are kept very warm, then only twenty-five. The
contact of the nettle is fatal to their young, and their own greediness
is no less so—sometimes, through over-eating, and sometimes through
over-exertion; for seizing the root of a plant with the bill, they will
make repeated efforts to tear it out of the ground, and so, at last,
dislocate the neck. A remedy against the noxious effects of the nettle,
is to place the root of that plant under the straw of their nest.

(60.) There are three kinds of herons, called, respectively, the
leucon,[3106] the asterias,[3107] and the pellos.[3108] These birds
experience great pain in coupling; uttering loud cries, the males
bleed from the eyes, while the females lay their eggs with no less

The eagle sits for thirty days, as do most of the larger birds; the
smaller ones, the kite and the hawk for instance, only twenty. The
eagle mostly lays but one egg, never more than three. The bird which
is known as the “ægolios,”[3109] lays four, and the raven sometimes
five; they sit, too, the same number of days as the kite and the hawk.
The male crow provides the female with food while she is sitting. The
magpie lays nine eggs, the malancoryphus more than twenty, but always
an uneven number, and no bird of this kind ever lays more; so much
superior in fecundity are the smaller birds. The young ones of the
swallow are blind at first, as is the case also with almost all the
birds the progeny of which is numerous.


The barren eggs, which we have mentioned as “hypenemia,” are either
conceived by the females when they are influenced by libidinous
fancies, and couple with one another, or else at the moment when they
are rolling themselves in the dust; they are produced not only by the
pigeon, but by the common hen as well, the partridge, the pea-hen, the
goose, and the chenalopex; these eggs are barren, smaller than the
others, of a less agreeable flavour, and more humid. There are some who
think that they are generated by the wind, for which reason they give
them the name of “zephyria.” The eggs known as “urina,” and which by
some are called “cynosura,”[3110] are only laid in the spring, and at a
time when the hen has discontinued sitting. Eggs, if soaked in vinegar,
are rendered so soft thereby, that they may be twisted[3111] round the
finger like a ring. The best method of preserving them is to keep them
packed in bean-meal, or chaff, during the winter, and in bran during
the summer. It is a general belief, that if kept in salt, they will
lose their contents.


Among the winged animals, the only one that is viviparous is the bat;
it is the only one, too, that has wings formed of a membrane. This is,
also, the only winged creature that feeds its young with milk from
the breast. The mother clasps her two young ones as she flies, and so
carries them along with her. This animal, too, is said to have but one
joint in the haunch, and to be particularly fond of gnats.


Again, among the terrestrial animals, there are the serpents that are
oviparous; of which, as yet, we have not spoken. These creatures couple
by clasping each other, and entwine so closely around one another, that
they might be taken for only one animal with two heads. The male viper
thrusts[3112] its head into the mouth of the female, which gnaws it in
the transports of its passion. This, too, is the only one among the
terrestrial animals that lays eggs within its body—of one colour, and
soft, like those of fishes. On the third day it hatches its young in
the uterus, and then excludes them, one every day, and generally twenty
in number; the last ones become so impatient of their confinement,
that they force a passage through the sides of their parent, and so
kill her. Other serpents, again, lay eggs attached to one another, and
then bury them in the earth; the young being hatched in the following
year. Crocodiles sit on their eggs in turns, first the male, and then
the female. But let us now turn to the generation of the rest of the
terrestrial animals.


The only one among the bipeds that is viviparous is man. Man is the
only animal that repents of his first embraces; sad augury, indeed, of
life, that its very origin should thus cause repentance! Other animals
have stated times in the year for their embraces; but man, as we have
already[3113] observed, employs for this purpose all hours both of
day and night; other animals become sated with venereal pleasures,
man hardly knows any satiety. Messalina,[3114] the wife of Claudius
Cæsar, thinking this a palm quite worthy of an empress, selected, for
the purpose of deciding the question, one of the most notorious of
the women who followed the profession of a hired prostitute; and the
empress outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at
the twenty-fifth embrace. In the human race also, the men have devised
various substitutes for the more legitimate exercise of passion, all of
which outrage Nature; while the females have recourse to abortion. How
much more guilty than the brute beasts are we in this respect! Hesiod
has stated that men are more lustful in winter, women in summer.

Coupling is performed back to back by the elephant, the camel, the
tiger, the lynx, the rhinoceros, the lion, the dasypus, and the rabbit,
the genital parts of all which animals lie far back. Camels even seek
desert places, or, at all events, spots of a retired nature; and to
come upon them on such an occasion is not unattended with danger.
Coupling, with them, lasts a whole day; the only animal, indeed, of
all those with solid hoofs, with which such is the case. Among the
quadrupeds, it is the smell that excites the passions of the male. In
this act, dogs also, seals, and wolves turn back to back, and remain
attached, though greatly against their will. In the greater part of
the animals above mentioned, the females solicit the males; in some,
however, the males the females. As to bears, they lie down, like the
human race, as previously[3115] mentioned by us; while hedgehogs
embrace standing upright. In cats, the male stands above, while the
female assumes a crouching posture; foxes lie on the side, the female
embracing the male. In the case of the cow and the hind, the female
is unable to endure the violence of the male, consequently she keeps
in motion during the time of coupling. The buck goes from one hind
to another in turn, and then comes back to the first. Lizards couple
entwined around each other, like the animals without feet.

All animals, the larger they are in bulk, are proportionably less
prolific: the elephant, the camel, and the horse produce but one,
while the acanthis,[3116] a very small bird, produces twelve. Those
animals, also, which are the most prolific, are the shortest time in
breeding. The larger an animal is, the longer is the time required for
its formation in the womb; those, also, which are the longest-lived,
require the longest gestation; the growing age, too, is not suitable
for the purposes of generation. Those animals which have solid hoofs
bear but a single young one, while those which have cloven hoofs bear
two. Those, again, whose feet are divided into toes, have a still more
numerous offspring; but, while the others bring forth their young
perfect, these last bear them in an unformed state, such, for instance,
as the lioness and the she-bear. The fox also brings forth its young in
an even more imperfect state than these; it is a very uncommon thing,
however, to find it whelping. After the birth, these animals warm their
young by licking them, and thereby give them their proper shape; they
mostly produce four at a birth.

The dog, the wolf, the panther, and the jackal produce their young
blind. There are several kinds of dogs; those of Laconia,[3117] of both
sexes, are ready for breeding in the eighth month, and the females
carry their young sixty or sixty-three days at most; other dogs are
fit for breeding when only six months old; the female, in all cases,
becomes pregnant at the first congress. Those which have conceived
before the proper age, bear pups which are longer blind, though not
all the same number of days. It is thought that dogs, in general, lift
the leg when they water at six months old; this, too, is looked upon
as a sign that they have attained their full growth and strength; when
doing this, the female squats. The most numerous litters known consist
of twelve, but more generally five or six is the number; sometimes,
indeed, only one is produced, but then it is looked upon as a prodigy,
and the same is the case, too, when all the pups are of one sex. In the
dog, the males come into the world first, but in other animals, the two
sexes are born alternately. The female admits the male again six months
after she has littered. Those of the Laconian breed bear eight young
ones. It is a peculiarity in this kind, that after undergoing great
labour, the males are remarkable for their salacity. In the Laconian
breed the male lives ten years, the female twelve; while other kinds,
again, live fifteen years, and sometimes as much as twenty; but they
are not fit for breeding to the end of their life, as they generally
cease at about the twelfth year. The cat and the ichneumon are, in
other respects,[3118] like the dog; but they only live six years.

The dasypus[3119] brings forth every month in the year, and is subject
to superfœtation, like the hare. It conceives immediately after it has
littered, even though it is still suckling its young, which are blind
at their birth. The elephant, as we have already[3120] stated, produces
but one, and that the size of a calf three months old. The gestation of
the camel lasts twelve months; the female conceives when three years
old, and brings forth in the spring; at the end of a year from that
time, she is ready to conceive again. It is thought advisable to have
the mare covered so soon as three days, and indeed, sometimes, only
one, after she has foaled; and, however unwilling she may be, means
are taken to compel her. It is believed also, that it is by no means
an uncommon thing for a woman to conceive on the seventh day after her
delivery. It is recommended that the manes of mares should be cut, so
as to humble their pride, in order to make them submit to be covered by
the male ass; for when the mane is long, they are liable to be proud
and vain. This is the only animal, the female of which, after covering,
runs, facing the north or the south, according as she has conceived
a male or a female. They change their colour immediately after, and
the hair becomes of a redder hue, and deeper, whatever the colour may
naturally be; it is this that indicates that they must no longer be
covered, and they, themselves, will even resist it. Gestation does not,
however, preclude some of them from being worked, and they are often
with foal long before it is known. We read that the mare of Echecrates,
the Thessalian, conquered at the Olympic games, while with foal.

Those who are more careful enquirers into these matters, tell us that
in the horse, the dog, and the swine, the males are most ardent for
sexual intercourse in the morning, while the female seeks the society
of the male after mid-day. They say also, that mares in harness desire
the horse sixty days sooner than those that live in herds; that it is
swine only that foam at the mouth during the time of coupling; and that
a boar, if it hears the voice of a sow in heat, will refuse to take
its food,—to such a degree, indeed, as to starve itself, if it is not
allowed to cover—while the female is reduced to such a state of frantic
madness, as to attack and tear a man, more especially if wearing a
white garment. This frenzy, however, is appeased by sprinkling vinegar
on the sexual parts. It is supposed also that salacity is promoted by
certain aliments; the herb rocket, for instance, in the case of man,
and onions in that of cattle. Wild animals that have been tamed, do
not conceive, the goose, for instance; the wild boar and the stag will
only produce late in life, and even then they must have been taken and
tamed when very young; a singular fact. The pregnant females, among
the quadrupeds, refuse the male, with the exception, indeed, of the
mare and the sow; superfœtation, however, takes place in none but the
dasypus and the hare.


All those animals that are viviparous produce their young with the head
first, the young animal about the time of yeaning turning itself round
in the womb, where at other times it lies extended at full length.
Quadrupeds during the time of gestation have the legs extended, and
lying close to the belly; while, on the other hand, man is gathered up
into a ball, with the nose between the knees. With reference to moles,
of which we have previously[3121] spoken, it is supposed that they are
produced when a female has conceived, not by a male, but of herself
only. Hence it is that there is no vitality in this false conception,
because it does not proceed from the conjunction of the two sexes; and
it has only that sort of vegetative existence in itself which we see in
plants and trees.

(65.) Of all those which produce their young in a perfect state, the
swine is the only one that bears them in considerable numbers as well;
and, indeed, several times in the year—a thing that is contrary to the
usual nature of animals with a solid or cloven hoof.


But it is mice that surpass all the other animals in fecundity; and
it is not without some hesitation that I speak of them, although I
have Aristotle and some of the officers of Alexander the Great for
my authority. It is said that these animals generate by licking one
another, and not by copulation. They have related cases where a single
female has given birth to one hundred and twenty young ones, and in
Persia some were found, even pregnant themselves,[3122] while yet in
the womb of the parent. It is believed also that these animals will
become pregnant on tasting salt. Hence we find that we have no longer
any reason to wonder how such vast multitudes of field-mice devastate
the standing corn; though it is still a mystery, with reference to
them, in what way it is that such multitudes die so suddenly; for
their dead bodies are never to be found, and there is not a person in
existence that has ever dug up a mouse in a field during the winter.
Multitudes of these animals visit Troas, and before this they have
driven away the inhabitants in consequence of their vast numbers.

They multiply greatly during times of drought; it is said also that
when they are about to die, a little worm grows in their head. The mice
of Egypt have hard hairs, just like those of the hedge-hog. They walk
on their hind feet, as also do those of the Alps. When two animals
couple of different kinds, the union is only prolific if the time of
gestation is the same in both. Among the oviparous quadrupeds, it is
generally believed that the lizard brings forth by the mouth, though
Aristotle denies the fact. These animals, too, do not sit upon their
eggs, as they forget in what place they have laid them, being utterly
destitute of memory; hence it is that the young ones are hatched


We find it stated by many authors,[3123] that a serpent is produced
from the spinal marrow of a man. Many creatures, in fact, among the
quadrupeds even, have a secret and mysterious origin.

(67) Thus, for instance, the salamander, an animal like a lizard in
shape, and with a body starred all over, never comes out except during
heavy showers, and disappears the moment it becomes fine. This animal
is so intensely cold as to extinguish fire by its contact, in the same
way as ice does. It spits forth a milky matter from its mouth; and
whatever part of the human body is touched with this, all the hair
falls off, and the part assumes the appearance of leprosy.


Some animals, again, are engendered of beings that are not engendered
themselves, and have no such origin as those above mentioned, which are
produced in the spring, or at some stated period of the year. Some of
these are non-productive, the salamander, for instance, which is of no
sex, either male or female; a distinction also, which does not exist in
the eel and the other kinds that are neither viviparous nor oviparous.
The oyster also, as well as the other shell-fish that adhere to the
bottom of the sea or to rocks, are of neither sex. Again, as to those
animals which are able to engender of themselves, if they are looked
upon as divided into male and female, they do engender something, it is
true, by coupling, but the produce is imperfect, quite dissimilar to
the animal itself, and one from which nothing else is reproduced; this
we find to be the case with flies, when they give birth to maggots.
This fact is better illustrated by the nature of those animals which
are known as insects; a subject, indeed, very difficult of explanation,
and one which requires to be treated of in a Book[3124] by itself. We
will, therefore, proceed for the present with our remarks upon the
instincts of the animals that have been previously mentioned.


Man excels more especially in his sense of touch, and next, in that
of taste. In other respects, he is surpassed by many of the animals.
Eagles can see more clearly than any other animals, while vultures
have the better smell; moles hear more distinctly than others,
although buried in the earth, so dense and sluggish an element as
it is; and what is even more, although every sound has a tendency
upwards, they can hear the words that are spoken; and, it is said,
they can even understand it if you talk about them, and will take to
flight immediately. Among men, a person who has not enjoyed the sense
of hearing in his infancy, is deprived of the powers of speech as
well; and there are none deaf from their birth who are not dumb also.
Among the marine animals, it is not probable that oysters enjoy the
sense of hearing, but it is said that immediately a noise is made the
solen[3125] will sink to the bottom; it is for this reason, too, that
silence is observed by persons while fishing at sea.


Fishes have neither organs of hearing, nor yet the exterior orifice.
And yet, it is quite certain that they do hear; for it is a well-known
fact, that in some fish-ponds they are in the habit of being assembled
to be fed by the clapping of the hands. In the fish-ponds, too, that
belong to the Emperor, the fish are in the habit of coming, each
kind as it bears its name.[3126] So too, it is said, the mullet, the
wolf-fish, the salpa, and the chromis, have a very exquisite sense of
hearing, and that it is for this reason that they frequent shallow


It is quite manifest that fishes have the sense of smell also; for they
are not all to be taken with the same bait, and are seen to smell at
it before they seize it. Some, too, that are concealed in the bottom
of holes, are driven out by the fisherman, by the aid of the smell of
salted fish; with this he rubs the entrance of their retreat in the
rock, immediately upon which they take to flight from the spot, just as
though they had recognized the dead carcases of those of their kind.
Then, again, they will rise to the surface at the smell of certain
odours, such, for instance as roasted sæpia and polypus; and hence it
is that these baits are placed in the osier kipes used for taking fish.
They immediately take to flight upon smelling the bilge water in a
ship’s hold, and more especially upon scenting the blood of fish.

The polypus cannot possibly be torn away from the rock to which it
clings; but upon the herb cunila[3127] being applied, the instant it
smells it the fish quits its hold. Purples also are taken by means of
fetid substances. And then, too, as to the other kinds of animals,
who is there that can feel any doubt? Serpents are driven away by the
smell of harts’ horns, and more particularly by that of storax. Ants,
too, are killed by the odours of origanum, lime, or sulphur. Gnats are
attracted by acids, but not by anything sweet.

(71.) All animals have the sense of touch, those even which have no
other sense; for even in the oyster, and, among land animals, in the
worm, this sense is found.


I am strongly inclined to believe, too, that the sense of taste exists
in all animals; for why else should one seek one kind of food, and
another another? And it is in this more especially that is to be seen
the wondrous power of Nature, the framer of all things. Some animals
seize their prey with their teeth, others, again, with their claws;
some tear it to pieces with their hooked beak; others, that have a
broad bill, wabble in their food; others, with a sharp nib, work holes
into it; others suck at their food; others, again, lick it, others
sup it in, others chew it, and others bolt it whole. And no less a
diversity is there in the uses they make of their feet, for the purpose
of carrying, tearing asunder, holding, squeezing, suspending[3128]
their bodies, or incessantly scratching the ground.


Roe-bucks and quails[3129] grow fat on poisons, as we have already
mentioned, being themselves the most harmless of animals. Serpents
will feed on eggs, and the address displayed by the dragon is quite
remarkable.—For it will either swallow the egg whole, if its jaws will
allow of it, and roll over and over so as to break it within, and then
by coughing eject the shells: or else, if it is too young to be able to
do so, it will gradually encircle the egg with its coils, and hold it
so tight as to break it at the end, just, in fact, as though a piece
had been cut out with a knife; then holding the remaining part in its
folds, it will suck the contents. In the same manner, too, when it has
swallowed a bird whole, it will make a violent effort, and vomit the


Scorpions live on earth. Serpents, when an opportunity presents itself,
show an especial liking for wine, although in other respects they need
but very little drink. These animals, also, when kept shut up, require
but little aliment, hardly any at all, in fact. The same is the case
also with spiders, which at other times live by suction. Hence it is,
that no venomous animal will die of hunger or thirst; it being the fact
that they have neither heat, blood, nor sweat; all which humours, from
their natural saltness, increase the animal’s voracity. In this class
of animals all those are the most deadly, which have eaten some of
their own kind just before they inflict the wound. The sphingium and
the satyr[3130] stow away food in the pouches of their cheeks, after
which they will take it out piece by piece with their hands and eat it;
and thus they do for a day or an hour what the ant usually does[3131]
for the whole year.

(73.) The only animal with toes upon the feet that feeds upon grass is
the hare, which will eat corn as well; while the solid-hoofed animals,
and the swine among the cloven-footed ones, will eat all kinds of
food, as well as roots. To roll over and over is a peculiarity of the
animals with a solid hoof. All those which have serrated teeth are
carnivorous. Bears live also upon corn, leaves, grapes, fruit, bees,
crabs even, and ants; wolves, as we have already[3132] stated, will eat
earth even when they are famishing. Cattle grow fat by drinking; hence
it is that salt agrees with them so well; the same is also the case
with beasts of burden, although they live on corn as well as grass; but
they eat just in proportion to what they drink. In addition to those
already spoken of, among the wild animals, stags ruminate, when reared
in a domesticated state. All animals ruminate lying in preference to
standing, and more in winter than in summer, mostly for seven months
in the year. The Pontic mouse[3133] also ruminates in a similar manner.


In drinking, those animals which have serrated[3134] teeth, lap; and
common mice do the same, although they belong to another class. Those
which have the teeth continuous, horses and oxen, for instance, sup;
bears do neither the one nor the other, but seem to bite at the water,
and so devour it. In Africa, the greater part of the wild beasts do
not drink in summer, through the want of rain; for which reason it
is that the mice of Libya, when caught, will die if they drink. The
ever-thirsting plains of Africa produce the oryx,[3135] an animal
which, in consequence of the nature of its native locality, never
drinks, and which, in a remarkable manner, affords a remedy against
drought: for the Gætulian bandits by its aid fortify themselves
against thirst, by finding in its body certain vesicles filled with a
most wholesome liquid. In this same Africa, also, the pards conceal
themselves in the thick foliage of the trees, and then spring down from
the branches on any creature that may happen to be passing by, thus
occupying what are ordinarily the haunts of the birds. Cats too, with
what silent stealthiness, with what light steps do they creep towards
a bird! How slily they will sit and watch, and then dart out upon a
mouse! These animals scratch up the earth and bury their ordure, being
well aware that the smell of it would betray their presence.


Hence there will be no difficulty in perceiving that animals are
possessed of other instincts besides those previously mentioned. In
fact, there are certain antipathies and sympathies among them, which
give rise to various affections besides those which we have mentioned
in relation to each species in its appropriate place. The swan and the
eagle are always at variance, and the raven and the chloreus[3136]
seek each other’s eggs by night. In a similar manner, also, the raven
and the kite are perpetually at war with one another, the one carrying
off the other’s food. So, too, there are antipathies between the crow
and the owl, the eagle and the trochilus;[3137]—between the last two,
if we are to believe the story, because the latter has received the
title of the “king of the birds:” the same, again, with the owlet and
all the smaller birds.

Again, in relation to the terrestrial animals, the weasel is at enmity
with the crow, the turtle-dove with the pyrallis,[3138] the ichneumon
with the wasp, and the phalangium with other spiders. Among aquatic
animals, there is enmity between the duck and the sea-mew, the falcon
known as the “harpe,” and the hawk called the “triorchis.” In a similar
manner, too, the shrew-mouse and the heron are ever on the watch for
each other’s young; and the ægithus,[3139] so small a bird as it is,
has an antipathy to the ass; for the latter, when scratching itself,
rubs its body against the brambles, and so crushes the bird’s nest;
a thing of which it stands in such dread, that if it only hears the
voice of the ass when it brays, it will throw its eggs out of the
nest, and the young ones themselves will sometimes fall to the ground
in their fright; hence it is that it will fly at the ass, and peck at
its sores with its beak. The fox, too, is at war with the nisus,[3140]
and serpents with weasels and swine. Æsalon[3141] is the name given
to a small bird that breaks the eggs of the raven, and the young of
which are anxiously sought by the fox; while in its turn it will peck
at the young of the fox, and even the parent itself. As soon as the
ravens espy this, they come to its assistance, as though against a
common enemy. The acanthis, too, lives among the brambles; hence it
is that it also has an antipathy to the ass, because it devours the
bramble blossoms. The ægithus and the anthus,[3142] too, are at such
mortal enmity with each other, that it is the common belief that their
blood will not mingle; and it is for this reason that they have the bad
repute of being employed in many magical incantations. The thos and
the lion are at war with each other; and, indeed, the smallest objects
and the greatest just as much. Caterpillars will avoid a tree that is
infested with ants. The spider, poised in its web, will throw itself
on the head of a serpent as it lies stretched beneath the shade of the
tree where it has built, and with its bite pierce its brain; such is
the shock, that the creature will hiss from time to time, and then,
seized with vertigo, coil round and round, while it finds itself unable
to take to flight, or so much as to break the web of the spider, as it
hangs suspended above; this scene only ends with its death.


On the other hand, there is a strict friendship existing between the
peacock and the pigeon, the turtle-dove and the parrot, the blackbird
and the turtle, the crow and the heron, all of which join in a common
enmity against the fox. The harpe also, and the kite, unite against the

And then, besides, have we not seen instances of affection in the
serpent even, that most ferocious of all animals? We have already[3143]
related the story that is told of a man in Arcadia, who was saved by a
dragon which had belonged to him, and of his voice being recognized by
the animal. We must also make mention here of another marvellous story
that is related by Phylarchus about the asp. He tells us, that in Egypt
one of these animals, after having received its daily nourishment at
the table of a certain person, brought forth, and that it so happened
that the son of its entertainer was killed by one of its young ones;
upon which, returning to its food as usual, and becoming sensible of
the crime, it immediately killed the young one, and returned to the
house no more.


The question as to their sleep, is one that is by no means difficult
to solve. In the land animals, it is quite evident that all that have
eyelids sleep. With reference to aquatic animals, it is admitted that
they also sleep, though only for short periods, even by those writers
who entertain doubts as to the other animals; and they come to this
conclusion, not from any appearance of the eyes, for they have no
eyelids, indeed, to close, but because they are to be seen buried in
deep repose, and to all appearance fast asleep, betraying no motion in
any part of the body except the tail, and by starting when they happen
to hear a noise. With regard to the thunny, it is stated with still
greater confidence that it sleeps; indeed, it is often found in that
state near the shore, or among the rocks. Flat fish are also found fast
asleep in shallow water, and are often taken in that state with the
hand: and, as to the dolphin and the balæna, they are even heard to

It is quite evident, also, that insects sleep, from the silent
stillness which they preserve; and even if a light is put close to
them, they will not be awoke thereby.


Man, just after his birth, is hard pressed by sleep for several months,
after which he becomes more and more wakeful, day by day. The infant
dreams[3144] from the very first, for it will suddenly awake with every
symptom of alarm, and while asleep will imitate the action of sucking.
There are some persons, however, who never dream; indeed, we find
instances stated where it has been a fatal sign for a person to dream,
who has never done so before. Here we find ourselves invited by a grand
field of investigation, and one that is full of alleged proofs on both
sides of the question, whether, when the mind is at rest in sleep, it
has any foreknowledge of the future, and if so, by what process this
is brought about, or whether this is not altogether a matter quite
fortuitous, as most other things are? If we were to attempt to decide
the question by instances quoted, we should find as many on the one
side as on the other.

It is pretty generally agreed, that dreams, immediately after we have
taken wine and food, or when we have just fallen asleep again after
waking, have no signification whatever. Indeed, sleep is nothing else
than the retiring[3145] of the mind into itself. It is quite evident
that, besides man, horses, dogs, oxen, sheep, and goats have dreams;
consequently, the same is supposed to be the case with all animals that
are viviparous. As to those which are oviparous, it is a matter of
uncertainty, though it is equally certain that they do sleep. But we
must now pass on to a description of the insects.

       *       *       *       *       *

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, seven hundred
and ninety-three.

       *       *       *       *       *

Roman authors quoted.—Manilius,[3146] Cornelius Valerianus,[3147]
the Acta Triumphorum,[3148] Umbricius Melior,[3149] Massurius
Sabinus,[3150] Antistius Labeo,[3151] Trogus,[3152] Cremutius,[3153]
M. Varro,[3154] Macer Æmilius,[3155] Melissus,[3156] Mucianus,[3157]
Nepos,[3158] Fabius Pictor,[3159] T. Lucretius,[3160] Cornelius
Celsus,[3161] Horace,[3162] Deculo,[3163] Hyginus,[3164] the
Sasernæ,[3165] Nigidius,[3166] Mamilius Sura.[3167]

       *       *       *       *       *

Foreign authors quoted.—Homer, Phemonoë,[3168] Philemon,[3169]
Bœus[3170] who wrote the Ornithogonia, Hylas[3171] who wrote an
augury, Aristotle,[3172] Theophrastus,[3173] Callimachus,[3174]
Æschylus,[3175] King Hiero,[3176] King Philometor,[3177] Archytas[3178]
of Tarentum, Amphilochus[3179] of Athens, Anaxipolis[3180] of
Thasos, Apollodorus[3181] of Lemnos, Aristophanes[3182] of Miletus,
Antigonus[3183] of Cymæ, Agathocles[3184] of Chios, Apollonius[3185]
of Pergamus, Aristander[3186] of Athens, Bacchius[3187] of Miletus,
Bion[3188] of Soli, Chæreas[3189] of Athens, Diodorus[3190] of Priene,
Dion[3191] of Colophon, Democritus,[3192] Diophanes[3193] of Nicæa,
Epigenes[3194] of Rhodes, Euagon[3195] of Thasos, Euphronius[3196]
of Athens, Juba,[3197] Androtion[3198] who wrote on Agriculture,
Æschrion[3199] who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus[3200] who wrote
on Agriculture, Dionysius[3201] who translated Mago, Diophanes[3202]
who made an Epitome of Dionysius, Nicander,[3203] Onesicritus,[3204]
Phylarchus,[3205] Hesiod.[3206]


[1] Or the “Hospitable” Sea, now the Black Sea.

[2] Or the “Inhospitable.”

[3] The streams which discharge their waters into the Palus Mæotis, or
Sea of Azof.

[4] Straits of the Dardanelles or of Gallipoli, spoken of in B. iv. c.
18, as seven stadia in width.

[5] The Thracian Bosporus, now the Channel or Straits of
Constantinople, and the Cimmerian Bosporus or Straits of Kaffa, or Yeni

[6] From βοῦς, an ox, and πορός, “a passage.” According to the legend,
it was at the Thracian Bosporus that the cow Io made her passage from
one continent to the other, and hence the name, in all probability,
celebrated alike in the fables and the history of antiquity. The
Cimmerian Bosporus not improbably borrowed its name from the Thracian.
See Æsch. Prom. Vinc. l. 733.

[7] This sentence seems to bear reference to the one that follows, and
not, as punctuated in the Latin, to the one immediately preceding it.

[8] It is not probable that this is the case at the Straits of Kaffa,
which are nearly four miles in width at the narrowest part.

[9] Now the Riva, a river of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, falling into the
Euxine north-east of Chalcedon.

[10] Probably an obscure town.

[11] On the river Calpas or Calpe, in Bithynia. Xenophon, in the
Anabasis, describes it as about half way between Byzantium and
Heraclea. The spot is identified in some of the maps as Kirpeh Limán,
and the promontory as Cape Kirpeh.

[12] Still known as the Sakaria.

[13] Now called the Sursak, according to Parisot.

[14] Now the Lef-ke. See the end of c. 42 of the last Book.

[15] The modern Gulf of Sakaria. Of the Mariandyni, who gave the
ancient name to it, little or nothing is known.

[16] Its site is now known as Harakli or Eregli. By Strabo it is
erroneously called a colony of Miletus. It was situate a few miles to
the north of the river Lycus.

[17] Now called the Kilij.

[18] Stephanus Byzantinus speaks of this place as producing whetstones,
or ἀκοναὶ, as well as the plant aconite.

[19] This name was given to the cavern in common with several other
lakes or caverns in various parts of the world, which, like the various
rivers of the name of Acheron, were at some time supposed to be
connected with the lower world.

[20] Now called Falios (or more properly Filiyos), according to
D’Anville, from the river of that name in its vicinity, supposed by
him and other geographers to be the same as the ancient Billis, here
mentioned by Pliny. By others of the ancient writers it is called

[21] Paphlagonia was bounded by Bithynia on the west, and by Pontus
on the east, being separated from the last by the river Halys; on the
south it was divided by the chain of Mount Olympus from Phrygia in the
earlier times, from Galatia at a later period; and on the north it
bordered on the Euxine.

[22] In the Homeric catalogue we find Pylæmenes leading the
Paphlagonians as allies of the Trojans; from this Pylæmenes the later
princes of Paphlagonia claimed their descent, and the country was
sometimes from them called Pylæmenia.

[23] Suspected by Hardouin to have been the same as the Moson or Moston
mentioned by Ptolemy as in Galatia.

[24] It is mentioned by Homer, Il. ii. 855, as situate on the coast of

[25] Strabo also, in B. xii., says that these people afterwards
established themselves in Thrace, and that gradually moving to the
west, they finally settled in the Italian Venetia, which from them
took its name. But in his Fourth Book he says that the Veneti of Italy
owe their origin to the Gallic Veneti, who came from the neighbourhood
known as the modern Vannes.

[26] This city, ninety stadia east of the river Parthenius, occupied a
peninsula, and on each side of the isthmus was a harbour. The original
city, as here mentioned, seems to have had the name of Sesamus or
Sesamum, and it is spoken of by that name in Homer, Il. ii. 853, in
conjunction with Cytorus. The territory of Amastris was famous for its
growth of the best box-wood, which grew on Mount Cytorus. The present
Amasra or Hanasserah occupies its site.

[27] See the last Note.

[28] Otherwise called “Cinolis.” There is a place called Kinla or
Kinoglu in the maps, about half-way between Kerempeh and Sinope, which
is the Kinuli of Abulfeda, and probably the Cirolis or Cimolis of the
Greek geographers.

[29] The modern Estefan or Stefanos.

[30] Now known by the name of Bartin, a corruption of its ancient

[31] It still retains its ancient appellation in its name of Cape
Kerempeh: of the ancient town nothing is known.

[32] Now called Sinope, or Sinoub. Some ruins of it are still to be
seen. The modern town is but a poor place, and has probably greatly
declined since the recent attack upon it by the Russian fleet.
Diogenes, the Cynic philosopher, was a native of ancient Sinope.

[33] The boundary, according to Stephanus Byzantinus, also of the
nations of Paphlagonia and Cappadocia. As Parisot remarks, this is an
error, arising from the circumstance of a small tribe bearing the name
of Cappadocians, having settled on its banks, between whom and the
Paphlagonians it served as a limit.

[34] On the river Iris. It was the ancient residence of the kings of
Pontus, but in Strabo’s time it was deserted. It has been suggested
that the modern Azurnis occupies its site.

[35] In the north-west of Pontus, in a fertile plain between the rivers
Halys and Amisus. It is also called Gadilon by Strabo. D’Anville makes
it the modern Aladgiam; while he calls Gaziura by the name of Guedes.

[36] Now called the Kisil Irmak, or Red River. It has been remarked
that Pliny, in making this river to come down from Mount Taurus and
flow at once from south to north, appears to confound the Halys with
one of its tributaries, now known as the Izchel Irmak.

[37] Its site is now called Kiengareh, Kangreh, or Changeri. This was
a town of Paphlagonia, to the south of Mount Olgasys, at a distance of
thirty-five miles from Pompeiopolis.

[38] A commercial place to the south of Sinope. Its site is the modern
Gherseh on the coast.

[39] Now called Eski Samsun; on the west side of the bay or gulf,
anciently called Sinus Amisenus. According to Strabo, it was only 900
stadia from Sinope, or 112-1/2 Roman miles. The walls of the ancient
city are to be seen on a promontory about a mile and a half from the
modern town.

[40] He means the numerous indentations which run southward into the
coast, from the headland of Sinope to a distance of about one degree to
the south.

[41] On examining the map, we shall find that the distance is at least
300 miles across to the gulf of Issus or Iskenderoon.

[42] Not speaking the Greek language.

[43] A part of it only was added to Eupatoria; and it was separated
from the rest by a wall, and probably contained a different population
from that of Amisus. This new quarter contained the residence of the
king, Mithridates Eupator, who built Eupatoria.

[44] The boundaries of Cappadocia varied under the dominion of the
Persians, after the Macedonian conquest, and as a Roman province under
the emperors.

[45] Founded by Archelaüs, the last king of Cappadocia. In Hamilton’s
_Researches_, the site has been assumed to be the modern Ak-serai,
but that place is not on the river Halys, as Leake supposes. It is,
however, considered that Ak-serai agrees very well with the position of
Archelais as laid down in the Itineraries, and that Pliny may have been
misled in supposing that the stream on which it stood was the Halys.

[46] Also called by the name of Chryse, or “Golden,” to distinguish it
from another place of the same name in Pontus. It is generally supposed
that the town of Al-Bostan, on the Sihoon or Sarus, is on or near the
site of this Comana.

[47] Now called Niksar, according to D’Anville, though Hardouin says
that it is Tocat. Parisot remarks, that this place belonged rather to
Pontus than to Cappadocia.

[48] A small tributary of the Iris, or Yeshil-Irmak, mentioned in the
next Chapter.

[49] Still called Amasia, or Amasiyeh, and situate on the river Iris,
or Yeshil Ermak. It was at one time the residence of the princes of
Pontus, and the birth-place of the geographer Strabo. The remains of
antiquity here are very considerable, and extremely interesting.

[50] Both to the west of Neo-Cæsarea. According to Tavernier, as quoted
by Hardouin, the modern name of Sebastia is Sivas.

[51] Which gave name to the district of Melitene, mentioned in c. 20 of
the last Book.

[52] Near Nazianzus, in Cappadocia, the birth-place of Gregory
Nazianzen. The traveller Ainsworth, on his road from Ak-Serai to Kara
Hissar, came to a place called Kaisar Koi, and he has remarked that
by its name and position it might be identified with Diocæsarea. Some
geographers, indeed, look upon Diocæsarea and Nazianzus as the same

[53] Its ruins are still to be seen at Kiz Hisar. It stood in the south
of Cappadocia, at the northern foot of Mount Taurus. Tyana was the
native place of Apollonius, the supposed worker of miracles, whom the
enemies of Christianity have not scrupled to place on a par with Jesus

[54] Some ruins, nineteen geographical miles from Ayas, are supposed to
denote the site of ancient Castabala or Castabulum.

[55] This place was first called Eupatoria, but not the same which
Mithridates united with a part of Amisus. D’Anville supposes that the
modern town of Tchenikeb occupies its site.

[56] Or Ziela, now known as Zillah, not far south of Amasia. It was
here that Julius Cæsar conquered Pharnaces, on the occasion on which he
wrote his dispatch to Rome, “Veni, vidi, vici.”

[57] Still known by the name of Ardgeh-Dagh.

[58] Its site is still called Kaisiriyeh. It was a city of the district
Cilicia, in Cappadocia, at the base of the mountain Argæus. It was
first called Mazaca, and after that, Eusebeia. There are considerable
remains of the ancient city.

[59] Hardouin remarks, that the district of Sargarausene was not
situate in front of Phrygia, but lay between Morimene and Colopenene,
in the vicinity of Pontus.

[60] Now known as the Konax, a tributary of the Halys, rising in Mount
Littarus, in the chain of Paryadres.

[61] Or “White Syrians.” Strabo says that in his time both the
Cappadocian peoples, those situate above the Taurus and those on the
Euxine, were called Leucosyri, or _White_ Syrians, as there were some
Syrians who were black, and who dwelt to the east of the Amanus.

[62] It is doubtful whether this is the name of a river or a town.
Notwithstanding its alleged celebrity, nothing is known of it.

[63] Hecatæus, as quoted by Stephanus Byzantinus, speaks of Chadisia
as a city of the Leucosyri, or Cappadocians. Neither the river nor the
town appears to have been identified.

[64] Probably on the river of that name, which has been identified with
the Mers Imak, a river two or three miles east of the Acropolis of

[65] The extensive plain on the coast of Pontus, extending east of
the river Iris beyond the Thermodon, and celebrated as the country
of the Amazons. At the mouth of the Thermodon was a city of the same
name, which had been destroyed by the time of Augustus. It is doubtful
whether the modern Thermeh occupies its site.

[66] The same place apparently as is mentioned in the last Chapter
under the name of Zela.

[67] Valerius Triarius, one of the legates of Lucullus, in the war
against Mithridates. Plutarch tells us that Lucullus was obliged to
conceal Triarius from the fury of his troops.

[68] Over Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates.

[69] Now called the Thermea.

[70] Still called Mason-Dagh.

[71] He alludes to Comana, in Pontus, the site of which is now called
Gumenek, near to which, on the Tocat-su, the modern name of the Iris,
Hamilton found some remains of a Roman town, and part of a bridge
apparently of Roman construction. The language of Pliny seems to imply
that it had become in his day nothing beyond a _manteium_ or seat of an

[72] Strabo speaks of a promontory called Genetes; and Stephanus
Byzantinus mentions a river and port of the same name.

[73] Strabo places the Chaldei, who, he says, were originally called
Chalybes, in that part of the country which lies above Pharnacia (the
modern Kerasunt).

[74] Or Cotyora. According to Xenophon, this was a colony of Sinope
which furnished supplies for the Ten Thousand in their retreat.
The place was on a bay called after the town. Hamilton, in his
_Researches_, &c., Vol. i., is of opinion that Cotyorum may have stood
on the site of Ordou, where some remains of an ancient port, cut out
of the solid rock are still visible. He remarks, however, that some
writers suppose that Cotyora was the modern bay of Pershembah, which is
more sheltered than Ordou. Cotyora was the place of embarkation of the
Ten Thousand.

[75] Similar to what we call tatooing. Parisot suggests that these
people may have been the ancestors of the Mongol tribes who still dwell
in tents similar to those mentioned by Mela as used by the Mossyni.

[76] Or the “long-headed people.”

[77] Its site is not improbably that of the modern Kheresoun, on the
coast of Asia Minor, and west of Trebizond. Lucullus is said to have
brought thence the first cherry-trees planted in Europe.

[78] It has been remarked, that Pliny’s enumeration of names often
rather confuses than helps, and that it is difficult to say where he
intends to place the Bechires. We may perhaps infer from Mela that they
were west of Trapezus and east of the Thermodon.

[79] Now the Kara Su, or Black River, still retaining its ancient
appellation. It rises in Cappadocia, in the chain of Mount Argæus.

[80] Still called by the same name, according to Parisot, though
sometimes it is called the river of Vatisa. More recent authorities,
however, call it Poleman Chai.

[81] On the coast of Pontus, built by king Polemon, perhaps the Second,
on the site of the older city of Side, at the mouth of the Sidenus.

[82] Probably near the promontory of Jasonium, 130 stadia to the
north-east of Polemonium. It was believed to have received its name
from Jason the Argonaut having landed there. It still bears the name of
Jasoon, though more commonly called Bona or Vona.

[83] Sixty stadia, according to Arrian, from the town of Cotyora.

[84] Supposed to have stood on almost the same site as the modern
Kheresoun or Kerasunda. It was built near, or, as some think, on the
site of Cerasus.

[85] Still known by the name of Tireboli, on a river of the same name,
the Tireboli Su.

[86] Now called Tarabosan, Trabezun, or Trebizond. This place was
originally a colony of Sinope, after the loss of whose independence
Trapezus belonged, first to Lesser Armenia, and afterwards to the
kingdom of Pontus. In the middle ages it was the seat of the so-called
empire of Trebizond. It is now the second commercial port of the Black
Sea, ranking next after Odessa.

[87] The “Chalybes of Armenia.” See p. 21.

[88] Theodoret says that the Sanni, and the Lazi, subsequently
mentioned, although subdued by the Roman arms, were never obedient to
the Roman laws. The Heniochi were probably of Grecian origin, as they
were said to have been descended from the charioteers of the Argonauts,
who had been wrecked upon these coasts.

[89] Or Apsarus, or Absarum. Several geographers have placed the
site of this town near the modern one known as Gonieh. Its name was
connected with the myth of Medea and her brother Absyrtus. It is not
improbable that the names Acampsis and Absarus have been given to the
same river by different writers, and that they both apply to the modern

[90] It is suggested by Hardouin that these are the same as the Zydretæ
mentioned in the Periplus of Arrian, and by him placed between the
Heniochi and the Lazi.

[91] See note [89].

[92] Supposed to be the same as the modern Tshorok.

[93] Or “Deep” River. This stream may possibly be identified by
observing that Pliny places only one river between it and the Phasis.

[94] Probably the Madia of Ptolemy, who places it in the interior.

[95] At the present day called Eraklia, according to Parisot.

[96] Now called the Faz or Rhioni.

[97] Still called El Faz or Poti.

[98] This place was in reality thirty-seven miles and a half from the
sea. It was said to have been the native place of the enchantresses
Circe and Medea.

[99] The rivers Hippos and Cyaneos do not appear to have been

[100] In the previous page.

[101] Now called the Tchorocsu.

[102] It is doubtful whether this is the same river as that mentioned
by Strabo under the name of Chares. D’Anville says that its modern name
is Enguri.

[103] Or “Feeders on Lice;” so called, according to Strabo, from the
extreme filthiness of their habits.

[104] There is a nation in this vicinity still called by a similar
name. Professor Pallas, who visited them, says that nothing can equal
their dishonesty, rapacity, and voracity. Parisot suggests that they
are probably the descendants of the Phthirophagi of Pliny.

[105] Now called the Khalira, according to D’Anville.

[106] Now called the Hati-Scari, according to D’Anville.

[107] Now the Okhum, according to D’Anville.

[108] Now the Mosti-Skari, according to D’Anville.

[109] Still called Savastopoli, according to Hardouin.

[110] This must not be confounded with the other place of the same name
mentioned in the present Chapter. See p. 10.

[111] Hermoläus suggests Pityus as the correct reading.

[112] The Sanni Heniochi; one of these nations has been already
mentioned in the last page.

[113] Inhabited anciently by the Coli, and constituting the northern
portion of ancient Colchis.

[114] In B. v. c. 27.

[115] Or nation “with the black cloaks,” from some peculiarity in their

[116] This was the great trading-place of the wild tribes in the
interior; and so numerous were they, that the Greeks asserted that
there were seventy different languages spoken in the market of

[117] Whence the appellation _Heniochi_, from the Greek ἡνιοχὸς.

[118] There were two places called Heracleium on this coast, one north
and the other south of the river Achæus: probably the latter is here

[119] Said to have been descended from the Achæans or Greeks who
accompanied Jason in the Argonautic Expedition, or, according to
Ammianus, who resorted thither after the conclusion of the Trojan war.

[120] Probably meaning the “martial people,” or the “people of Mars.”
This was the title, not of a single nation, but of a number of peoples
distinguished for their predatory habits.

[121] This people occupied the N.E. shore of the Euxine, between the
Cimmerian Bosporus and the frontier of Colchis. Their name is still
in existence, and is applied to the whole western district of the
Caucasus, in the forms of Tcherkas, as applied to the people, and
Tcherkeskaia or Circassia, to the country.

[122] Hardouin suggests that these ought to be read as forming one
name, the “Cerri Cephalatomi,” and suggests that they were so called
from their habit of cutting off the heads of their slain enemies.

[123] Meaning, nearly in the extreme corner of Pontus.

[124] In the time of Strabo this was a considerable sea-port, and after
its destruction by the Heniochi, it was restored, and served as an
important frontier fortress of the Roman empire against the Scythians.

[125] This was Mithridates, king of Bosporus, which sovereignty he
obtained by the favour of the emperor Claudius, in A.D. 41. The
circumstances are unknown which led to his subsequent expulsion by the
Romans, who placed his younger brother Cotys on the throne in his stead.

[126] Hardouin thinks that the Thalli inhabited the present country of

[127] It was the ancient opinion, to which we shall find frequent
reference made in the present Book, that the northern portion of the
Caspian communicated with the Scythian or Septentrional ocean.

[128] Mentioned only by Pliny. It is supposed to answer to the present
Ukrash river; and the town and river of Hierus are probably identical
with the Hieros Portus of Arrian, which has been identified with the
modern Sunjuk-Kala.

[129] Inhabited by the Sindi, a people of Asiatic Sarmatia. They
probably dwelt in and about the modern peninsula of Taman, between the
Sea of Azof and the Black Sea, to the south of the river Hypanis, the
modern Kouban. The site of their capital, Sindos, or Sinda, is supposed
to have been the modern Anapa. Parisot conjectures that this place was
one of the ancient settlements of the Zigeunes, the modern Bohemians or
Gypsies. He seems to found his opinion upon some observations of Malte
Brun (_Précis de Geographie_, vol. vi.) upon the origin of the Gypsy
race, which will amply repay the perusal.

[130] The peninsula on which Taman or Timoutarakan is situate.

[131] The _jugerum_ was 100 Grecian or 104 Roman feet in length.

[132] Signifying in Greek the “sea-shore.”

[133] Lying between Singa and Phanagoria. Rennell fixes it at the
opening of the lake into which the Kouban flows.

[134] Or the “gardens,” from the Greek κῆποι. A town of the Cimmerian
Bosporus, founded by the Milesians. Dr. Clarke identifies the modern
Sienna with it, and the curious Milesian sculptures found there confirm
the supposition.

[135] Its ruins are supposed to be those near Taman, on the eastern
side of the Straits of Kaffa. It was the great emporium for all the
traffic between the coasts of the Palus Mæotis and the countries on the
south of the Caucasus, and was chosen by the kings of Bosporus as their
capital in Asia.

[136] A town of the Sindæ; it possessed, like Phanagoria, a celebrated
temple of Aphrodite Apaturos, or Venus “the Deceiver,” whence probably
its name.

[137] Clarke identifies it with the modern Temruk, but Forbiger with

[138] See B. iv. c. 24.

[139] That lying on the east of the Sea of Azof. It seems impossible to
identify the spot inhabited by each of these savage tribes. Hardouin
says that the modern name of that inhabited by the Mæotici is Coumania.

[140] Parisot suggests that this tribe afterwards emigrated to the
west, and after establishing themselves in Macedonia, finally gave its
name to modern Servia. He remarks, that most of these names appear to
have been greatly mutilated, through the ignorance or carelessness of
the transcribers, no two of the manuscripts agreeing as to the mode in
which they should be spelt.

[141] Or Don. It flows into the Sea of Azof by two larger mouths and
several smaller ones. Strabo says that the distance between the two
larger mouths is sixty stadia.

[142] From the Greek γυναικοκρατουμενοὶ, “ruled over by women.” It is
not improbable that this name was given by some geographer to these
Sarmatian tribes on finding them, at the period of his visit, in
subjection to the rule of a queen. Parisot remarks, that this passage
affords an instance of the little care bestowed by Pliny upon procuring
the best and most correct information, for that the Roman writers had
long repudiated the use of the term “Sauromatæ.” He also takes Pliny to
task for his allusion to these tribes as coupling with the Amazons, the
existence of such a people being in his time generally disbelieved.

[143] Hardouin suggests from εὐάζω, “to celebrate the orgies of

[144] Perhaps from κοίτη, a “den” or “cavern,” their habitation.

[145] Parisot suggests that they may have been a Caucasian or
Circassian tribe, because in the Circassian language the word _zig_
has the meaning of “man.” He also suggests that they were probably a
distinct race from the Zingi previously mentioned, whom he identifies
with the ancestors of the Zingari or Bohemians, the modern Gypsies.

[146] The more common reading is “Turcæ,” a tribe also mentioned by
Mela, and which gave name to modern Turkistan.

[147] The Argippæi of Herodotus and other ancient authors. These people
were bald, flat-nosed, and long-chinned. They are again mentioned
by Pliny in C. 14, who calls them a race not unlike the Hyperborei,
and then, like Mela, abridges the description given by Herodotus. By
different writers these people have been identified with the Chinese,
the Brahmins or Lamas, and the Calmucks. The last is thought to be
the most probable opinion, or else that the description of Herodotus,
borrowed by other writers, may be applied to the Mongols in general.
The mountains, at the foot of which they have been placed, are
identified with either the Ural, the western extremity of the Altaï
chain, or the eastern part of the Altaï.

[148] Generally regarded as the western branch of the Ural Mountains.

[149] The former editions mostly have “there _was_,” implying that in
the time of Pliny it no longer existed. The name of this place was
Tanais; its ruins are still to be seen in the vicinity of Kassatchei.
It was founded by a colony from Miletus, and became a flourishing seat
of trade. The modern town of Azof is supposed to occupy nearly its site.

[150] The people of Panticapæum, on the opposite side of the Palus
Mæotis, occupying the site of the present Kertch. It was founded by
the Milesians B.C. 541, and took its name from the neighbouring river

[151] The Ceraunian mountains were a range belonging to the Caucasian
chain, and situate at its eastern extremity; the relation of this range
to the chain has been variously stated by the different writers.

[152] He may possibly allude to a range of mountains in the Punjaub and
the vicinity of the modern Lahore, by his reference to the Cathæi, who
are supposed to have been the ancient inhabitants of that district. The
localities of the various races here mentioned are involved in great

[153] Or Mediterranean.

[154] See Vol. i. p. 497.

[155] He includes under the term “Cappadocia,” the northern part
originally called “Cappadocia ad Pontum,” and in later times simply
Pontus, and the southern part, originally called “Cappadocia ad
Taurum,” and more recently simply Cappadocia.

[156] Running from the shores of the Euxine to the borders of Syria.

[157] _I. e._ on the eastern side.

[158] Meaning that part of Asia which we now call Asia Minor.

[159] This ill agrees with what he has said in c. 2, that the distance
across from Sinope to the Gulf of Issus is but 200 miles.

[160] Greater Armenia, now known as Erzeroum, Kars, Van, and Erivan,
was bounded on the north-east and north by the river Cyrus, or Kur of
the present day; on the north-west and west by the Moschian mountains,
the prolongation of the chain of the Anti-Taurus, and the Euphrates,
or Frat of the present day; and on the south and south-east by the
mountains called Masius, Niphates, and Gordiæi (the prolongation of the
Taurus), and the lower course of the Araxes. On the east the country
comes to a point at the confluence of the Syrus and Araxes.

[161] Now known as the Kara-bel-Dagh, or Kut-Tagh, a mountain chain
running south-west and north-east from the east of Asia Minor into the
centre of Armenia, and forming the chief connecting link between the
Taurus and the mountains of Armenia.

[162] In B. v. c. 20.

[163] He means, where the river Euphrates runs the farthest to the west.

[164] Littré suggests that the reading should be “Aroei.”

[165] The modern Eraskh or Aras.

[166] The modern Kur.

[167] This district was bounded on the east by the Euphrates, on
the north and north-west by the mountains Scodises, Paryadres, and
Anti-Taurus, and on the south by the Taurus.

[168] This river is said by Ammianus to have taken its name from Cyrus.
It appears, however, to have been a not uncommon name of the rivers of

[169] It is probable that these rivers take their rise near each other,
but it is not improbable that the intervening distance mentioned in the
present passage is much too small.

[170] Hardouin thinks that this is Neo-Cæsarea, mentioned as having
been built on the banks of the Euphrates.

[171] Now called Ezaz, according to D’Anville. Parisot suggests that
it ought to be Gaza or Gazaca, probably a colony of Median Gaza, now

[172] Originally called Tephrice. It stood on the river Lycus, and not
far from the sources of the Halys, having been founded by Pompey, where
he gained his first victory over Mithridates, whence its name, the
“City of Victory.” The modern Enderez or Devrigni, probably marks its

[173] Ritter places it in Sophene, the modern Kharpat, and considers
that it may be represented by the modern Sert, the Tigranocerta of

[174] The capital of Sophene, one of the districts of Armenia. St.
Martin thinks that this was the ancient heathen name of the city of
Martyropolis, but Ritter shows that such cannot be the case. It was
called by the Syrians Kortbest; its present name is Kharput.

[175] Generally supposed, by D’Anville and other modern geographers, to
be represented by the ruins seen at Sert. It was the later capital of
Armenia, built by Tigranes.

[176] The ancient capital of Armenia. Hannibal, who took refuge at
the court of Artaxias when Antiochus was no longer able to afford
him protection, superintended the building of it. Some ruins, called
Takt Tiridate, or Throne of Tiridates, near the junction of the Aras
and the Zengue, were formerly supposed to represent Artaxata, but
Colonel Monteith has fixed the site at a bend in the river lower down,
at the bottom of which were the ruins of a bridge of Greek or Roman

[177] A fortress in Lesser Armenia, upon the Euphrates, seventy-five
miles from Zimara, as mentioned in B. v. c. 20. It has been identified
with the modern ferry and lead mines of Kebban Ma’den, the points where
the Kara Su is joined by the Murad Chaï, 270 miles from its source.

[178] Justin makes it only 1100, and that estimate appears to be
several hundreds too much.

[179] A country lying to the north of Armenia.

[180] We find in Strabo the names of some of them mentioned, such
as Sophene, Acilisene, Gorgodylene, Sacassene, Gorgarene, Phanene,
Comisene Orchestene, Chorsene, Cambysene, Odomantis, &c.

[181] The Ceraunian Mountains. Parisot remarks that in this
description, Pliny, notwithstanding his previous professions, does not
appear to have made any very great use of the list drawn up by Corbulo.

[182] That is, looking towards the south.

[183] The Septentrional Ocean, with which the ancients imagined that
the northern part of the Caspian Sea is connected. See c. 15.

[184] According to Strabo, Albania was bounded on the east by the
Caspian, and on the north by the Caucasus. On the west it joined
Iberia, while on the south it was divided from the Greater Armenia by
the river Cyrus. By later writers, the northern and western boundaries
are differently given. It was found to be the fact that the Albani
occupied the country on both sides of the Caucasus, and accordingly
Pliny, in c. 15, carries the country further north, as far as the river
Casius, while in this Chapter he makes the river Alazon, the modern
Alasan, the western boundary towards Iberia.

[185] To the west of Albania.

[186] Iberia lay south of the great chain of the Caucasus, forming
an extensive tract bounded on the west by Colchis, on the east by
Albania, and on the south by Armenia, and watered by the river Cyrus.
It corresponded very nearly with modern Georgia.

[187] The modern Alasan.

[188] Now called Kablas-Var, according to Parisot.

[189] Parisot says that this can be no other than Harmoza on the river
Cyrus, in the vicinity of the modern Akhalzik.

[190] Probably meaning “of the same name.”

[191] To the west.

[192] “The Armenian workers in iron,” or “Chalybes of Armenia.” See p.

[193] There are two chief passes over the chain of the Caucasus, both
of which were known to the ancients. The first is between the eastern
extremity of its chief north-eastern spur and the Caspian sea, near
the modern Derbend. This was called “Albaniæ,” and sometimes, “Caspiæ
Pylæ,” the “Albanian” or “Caspian Gates.” The other, which was nearly
in the centre of the Caspian range, was called “Caucasiæ” or “Sarmaticæ
Pylæ,” being the same as the modern pass of Dariyel, and probably the
one here referred to.

[194] Probably the same as the present fortress of Dariyel.

[195] The first instance was that of the narrow isthmus to which the
continent of Asia is reduced from Sinope across to the Gulf of Issus,
as mentioned in c. 2.

[196] The shortest distance across, in a straight line, is in reality
little less than 600 miles.

[197] The ancestor of the Seleucidæ, kings of Syria, treacherously
slain by Ptolemy Ceraunus, brother of Ptolemy Philadelphus.

[198] Already mentioned in B. iv. c. 27.

[199] Mentioned in c. 44 of the last Book.

[200] The one lying at the mouth of the Danube, and mentioned in B. iv.
c. 27.

[201] Mentioned in c. 4 of the present Book. See p. 9.

[202] Or “Mars’ Island,” also called Aretias; at this island, in the
south of the Euxine, the two queens of the Amazons, Otrere and Antiope,
built a temple in honour of Ares or Mars. It is thought to be the rocky
islet called by the Turks Kerasunt Ada, between three and four miles
from Kerasunt, the ancient Pharnacea.

[203] It is difficult to say what chain of mountains, if indeed any
in particular, he would designate by this name. Parisot remarks that
these mountains would seem to belong rather to the region of poetry and
fable than of fact, and states that it is pretty clear that the Balkan
chain, the districts in which the Danube takes its rise, the Alps, the
Pyrenees, the Hercynian mountains, and even the chain of Taurus and
Caucasus, have at different times been described or mentioned under
the name of Riphæan Mountains. It was evidently Pliny’s belief that
the great Northern or Scythian Ocean skirted the northern shores of
Asia, a little above the latitude perhaps of the northern extremity
of the Caspian. In B. iv. c. 26, we find him crossing these, perhaps
imaginary, mountains, and then proceeding to the left, along, as he
supposes, the extreme northern shores of Europe; here he seems to start
from the same point, but turns to the right, and proceeds along the
northern, eastern, and southern shores of Asia.

[204] North-east.

[205] _I. e._ more to the west.

[206] See B. iv. c. 26.

[207] The extremity of the supposed shores of the Hyperborei.

[208] D’Anville supposes that he means the headland called Cande-Noss
or Kanin-Noss, in the White Sea. Parisot, who thinks that Pliny had no
idea of the regions which lie in those high latitudes, supposes that
he refers to Domnes-Ness in the Baltic, and that by the Carambucis he
means the river Niemen.

[209] Ansart thinks that he means the Dwina, which falls into the Gulf
of Archangel.

[210] Previously mentioned in c. 7.

[211] For a full description of them, see B. iv. c. 26.

[212] See the Note to c. 7, p. 15. This description is borrowed from
that given by Herodotus. Their sacred character has been explained as
referring to the class or caste of priests among this Eastern people,
whoever they may have been.

[213] Ansart thinks that the Cicianthi, the Georgi, and the Amazons,
inhabited the modern governments of Archangel and Vologda. It seems
almost akin to rashness to hazard a conjecture.

[214] It has been already stated that the Caspian Sea was, in one
portion of it, so called, and in another the Hyrcanian Sea.

[215] His meaning is, that the Scythian ocean communicates on the
northern shores of Asia with the Caspian Sea. Hardouin remarks, that
Patrocles, the commander of the Macedonian fleet, was the first to
promulgate this notion, he having taken the mouth of the river Volga
for a narrow passage, by means of which the Scythian or Northern Ocean
made its way into the Caspian Sea.

[216] The country of the Cadusii, in the mountainous district of Media
Atropatene, on the south-west shores of the Caspian Sea, between
the parallels of 390 and 370 north latitude. This district probably
corresponds with the modern district of Gilan.

[217] Now the Syr-Daria or Yellow River, and watering the barren
steppes of the Kirghiz-Cossacks. It really discharges itself into the
Sea of Aral, and not the Caspian.

[218] The supposed Eastern Ocean of the ancients.

[219] The imaginary passage by which it was supposed to communicate
with the Scythian Ocean.

[220] This being in reality the mouth of the Rha or Volga, as mentioned
in Note 18, p. 24.

[221] On the eastern side.

[222] Across the mouths of the Volga.

[223] On a promontory, on the right or eastern side of the mouth of the
river Volga.

[224] He here means the western shores of the Caspian, after leaving
the mouth of the Volga.

[225] In c. 11.

[226] See the end of c. 14.

[227] The Cæsius of Ptolemy, and the Koisou of modern times.

[228] Probably the modern river Samour.

[229] It is difficult to determine the exact locality of this river,
but it would seem to have been near the Amardus, the modern Sefid-Rúd.

[230] In c. 10.

[231] See the beginning of c. 12, and the Note, p. 21.

[232] See c. 10.

[233] He alludes to the town of Arbela, where, as it is generally
said, the army of Darius was defeated by Alexander the Great; by which
engagement the conflict was terminated. It was the fact, however, that
Darius left his baggage and treasures at Arbela, while the battle
really took place near the village of Gaugamela, about twenty miles to
the north-west of Arbela. This place still retains its name of Arbil.

[234] A district in the east of Macedonia, bordering on the Thermaic
gulf and the Chalcidic peninsula.

[235] Nothing is known of this place. Hardouin suggests that it may
have been built on the spot where Alexander defeated Darius.

[236] Also known as Antiochia Mygdoniæ, the capital of Mygdonia. Its
ruins are still to be seen near a place called Nisibin. It stood on the
river Mygdonius, now the Nahral Huali.

[237] Or Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian monarchy, destroyed
by the Medes and Babylonians about B.C. 606.

[238] There is great difficulty in ascertaining, from the accounts
given by the ancient writers, the exact limits of this district, but it
is supposed to have included a considerable portion of the province now
known by the name of Azerbaijan. It derived its name from Atropates or
Atropes, who was governor of this district under the last Darius.

[239] Most probably the place now known as Gazæa, the royal residence
of the Parthian kings, and, as its name would imply, their treasure
city. Colonel Rawlinson thinks that this place underwent many changes
of name according to the rulers who successively occupied it; among
other names, it appears to have borne that of Ecbatana.

[240] A city of great magnitude, pleasantly situate near the foot of
Mount Orontes, in the northern part of Greater Media. Its original
foundation was attributed by Diodorus Siculus to Semiramis, and by
Herodotus to Deioces. It was the capital of the Median kingdom, and
afterwards the summer residence of the Persian and Parthian kings. The
genuine orthography of the name seems to be Agbatana. The ruins seen
at the modern Hamadan are generally supposed to represent those of the
ancient Ecbatana; but it is most probable that at different times, if
not contemporaneously, there were several cities of this name in Media.

[241] Pliny in this statement, as also in the distances which he here
assigns to Ecbatana, is supposed to have confounded Ecbatana with
Europus, now Veramin, rebuilt by Seleucus Nicator.

[242] This was a city in the vicinity of Rhagæ, which was distant about
500 stadia from the Caspian Gates. It was built by the Greeks after the
Macedonian conquest of Asia. The other places here mentioned do not
appear to have been identified.

[243] See the beginning of c. 12, p. 21.

[244] This was the name of the wild tribes which occupied the high
mountainous district between the great upland of Persia and the low
plains of Mesopotamia. In addition to the name mentioned by Pliny, they
were called Gordyæ, Cardaces, and Curtii. The present Kurds, inhabiting
Kurdistan, are supposed to be descended from them.

[245] The Greek παρ’ ὁδὸν, “on the road”—meaning, probably, to the
Caspian Gates. Hardouin says that the Pratitæ were so called from the
Greek πρατῖται, “merchants.”

[246] Although dwelling at a considerable distance, the custody of
these gates was delivered to them, Hardouin says, by the kings of Media.

[247] To the south-east of them.

[248] Mentioned in c. 29 of the present Book.

[249] Or Choarene.

[250] Its site is unknown; but it is mentioned by Appian as one of the
many towns erected by Seleucus.

[251] By the use of the word “quondam,” he implies that in his time it
was in ruins.

[252] A place of considerable importance, which seems to have derived
its name from its “hundred gates.” It was one of the capitals of the
Arsacidan princes; but, extensive though it may have been, there is
great doubt where it was situate, the distance recorded by ancient
writers not corresponding with any known ruins.

[253] In a northern direction, along the western shores of the Caspian.

[254] According to Hardouin, Eratosthenes, as quoted by Strabo,
makes the distance 5060 stadia, or about 633 miles. He has, however,
mis-translated the passage, which gives 5600 stadia, or 700 miles
exactly, as stated by Pliny.

[255] Or 1960 miles.

[256] Bactra, Bactrum, or Bactrium, was one of the chief cities, if
not the capital, of the province of Bactriana. It was one of the most
ancient cities in the world, and the modern Balkh is generally supposed
to occupy its site. Strabo, as well as Pliny, evidently considers that
Bactra and Zareispa were the same place, while Appian distinguishes
between the two, though he does not clearly state their relative

[257] The modern Syr-Daria, mentioned in c. 15. See p. 25.

[258] By some writers called Apavareticene, in the south-eastern part
of Parthia. Ansart says that it is now known as Asterabad and Ghilan.

[259] Or Dara. A strongly fortified place, built by Arsaces I., and
situate on the mountains of the Zapaorteni.

[260] According to Ansart, the district now known as Tabaristan, or
Mazanderan, derives the first of those names from the Tapyri.

[261] D’Anville remarks that this river still retains its “starry”
name, being the modern Aster or Ester, on which Asterabad is situate.

[262] This district occupied the southern part of modern Khiva, the
south-western part of Bokhara, and the north-eastern part of Khorassan.
This province of the ancient Persian empire received its name from the
river Margus, now the Moorghab. It first became known to the Greeks by
the expeditions of Alexander and Antiochus I.

[263] Antiochus Soter, the son of Seleucus Nicator.

[264] The meaning of this, which has caused great diversity of opinion
among the Commentators, seems to be, that on rebuilding it, he
preferred giving it a name borne by several cities in Syria, and given
to them in honour of kings of that country. To this he appears to have
been prompted by a supposed resemblance which its site on the Margus
bore to that of Antiochia on the Orontes.

[265] The modern Moorghab; it loses itself in the sands of Khiva.

[266] Its remains are supposed to be those of an ancient city, still to
be seen at a spot called Merv, on the river Moorghab.

[267] The people of modern Bokhara.

[268] This appears to mean the nations of “Chariot horse-breeders.”

[269] In former editions, called the ‘Gridinus.’ It is impossible to
identify many of these nations and rivers, as the spelling varies
considerably in the respective MSS.

[270] An extensive tribe of Sogdiana, now represented by the district
of Khawarezm, in the desert country of Khiva.

[271] A tribe in the north-western part of Sogdiana. They appear to
have been situate to the east of the district of Khawarezm. It has been
suggested that they derived their name from the Sanscrit Gandharas, a
tribe beyond the Indus.

[272] The chief seat of the Aorsi, who appear to have been a numerous
and powerful people both of Europe and Asia, was in the country between
the Tanais, the Euxine, the Caspian, and the Caucasus. It seems
doubtful, however, whether it is these people who are alluded to in the
present passage.

[273] These would almost seem to be a different people from those
mentioned in c. 15 of the present Book, as dwelling in Atropatene. The
present appears to have been a tribe of Sogdiana.

[274] Strabo mentions a town of this name, which he places, together
with Apamea, in the direction of Rhagæ. If Pliny has observed anything
like order in his recital of nations and places, the Heraclea here
mentioned cannot be that spoken of by Strabo, but must have been
distant nearly 1000 miles from it.

[275] This was a tribe, apparently of Scythian origin, settled
in Margiana, on the left bank of the Oxus. Strabo says that they
worshipped the earth, and forbore to sacrifice or slay any female;
but that they put to death their fellow-creatures as soon as they had
passed their seventieth year, it being the privilege of the next of kin
to eat the flesh of the deceased person. The aged women, however, they
used to strangle, and then consign them to the earth.

[276] The modern Jihoun or Amou. It now flows into the Sea of Aral, but
the ancients universally speak of it as running into the Caspian; and
there are still existing distinct traces of a channel extending in a
south-westerly direction from the sea of Aral to the Caspian, by which
at least a portion, and probably the whole of the waters of the Oxus
found their way into the Caspian; and not improbably the Sea of Aral
itself was connected with the Caspian by this channel.

[277] Most probably under this name he means the Sea of Aral.

[278] The Bactrus. This river is supposed to be represented by the
modern Dakash. Hardouin says that Ptolemy, B. vi. c. 11, calls this
river the Zariaspis, or Zariaspes. See the Note at the end of c. 17, p.

[279] Now known as the Hindoo-Koosh; a part of the great mountain-chain
which runs from west to east through the centre of the southern portion
of the highlands of Central Asia, and so divides the part of the
continent which slopes down to the Indian ocean from the great central
table-land of Tartary and Thibet. The native term, Hindoo-Koosh, is
only a form of the ancient name “Indicus Caucasus,” which was sometimes
given to this chain. The ancient name was derived probably from the
Persian word _paru_, a “mountain.”

[280] Flowing from the north side of the Paropanisus. According to
Pliny and Ptolemy, this river flowed through Bactria into the Oxus;
but according to Strabo, through Hyrcania into the Caspian Sea. Some
suppose it to have been only another name for the Oxus. Ansart suggests
that it may have been the river now known as the Bash.

[281] D’Anville says that there is still the valley of Al Sogd, in
Tartary, beyond the Oxus. The district called Sogdiana was probably
composed of parts of modern Turkistan and Bokhara. The site of Panda
does not appear to be known.

[282] It was built on the Jaxartes, to mark the furthest point reached
by Alexander in his Scythian expedition. It has been suggested that the
modern Kokend may possibly occupy its site.

[283] The “twin,” of the same birth with Diana.

[284] The Sacæ probably formed one of the most numerous and most
powerful of the Scythian Nomad tribes, and dwelt to the east and
north-east of the Massagetæ, as far as Servia, in the steppes of
Central Asia, which are now peopled by the Kirghiz Cossacks, in whose
name that of their ancestors, the Sacæ, is traced by some geographers.

[285] Meaning the “Great Getæ.” They dwelt beyond the Jaxartes and the
Sea of Aral, and their country corresponds to that of the Khirghiz
Tartars in the north of Independent Tartary.

[286] The Dahæ were a numerous and warlike Nomad tribe, who wandered
over the vast steppes lying to the east of the Caspian Sea. Strabo has
grouped them with the Sacæ and Massagetæ, as the great Scythian tribes
of Inner Asia, to the north of Bactriana.

[287] See also B. iv. c. 20, and B. vi. c. 7. The position of the
Essedones, or perhaps more correctly, the Issedones, may probably be
assigned to the east of Ichim, in the steppes of the central border of
the Kirghiz, in the immediate vicinity of the Arimaspi, who dwelt on
the northern declivity of the Altaï chain. A communication is supposed
to have been carried on between these two peoples for the exchange of
the gold that was the produce of those mountain districts.

[288] They dwelt, according to Ptolemy, along the southern banks of the

[289] Or the Mardi, a warlike Asiatic tribe. Stephanus Byzantinus,
following Strabo, places the Amardi near the Hyrcani, and adds, “There
are also Persian Mardi, without the _a_;” and, speaking of the Mardi,
he mentions them as an Hyrcanian tribe, of predatory habits, and
skilled in archery.

[290] D’Anville supposes that the Euchatæ may have dwelt at the modern
Koten, in Little Bukharia. It is suggested, however, by Parisot, that
they may have possibly occupied a valley of the Himalaya, in the midst
of a country known as “Cathai,” or the “desert.”

[291] The first extant notice of them is in Herodotus; but before him
there was the poem of Aristeas of Proconnesus, of which the title
was ‘Arimaspea;’ and it is mainly upon the statements in it that the
stories told relative to this people rest—such as their being one-eyed,
and as to their stealing the gold from the Gryphes, or Griffins, under
whose custody it was placed. Their locality is by some supposed to have
been on the left bank of the Middle Volga, in the governments of Kasan,
Simbirsk, and Saratov: a locality which is sufficiently near the gold
districts of the Uralian chain to account for the legends connecting
them with the Gryphes, or guardians of the gold.

[292] The former reading was, “The Napæi are said to have perished as
well as the Apellæi.” Sillig has, however, in all probability, restored
the correct one. “Finding,” he says, “in the work of Diodorus Siculus,
that two peoples of Scythia were called, from their two kings, who
were brothers, the Napi and the Pali, we have followed close upon the
footsteps of certain MSS. of Pliny, and have come to the conclusion
that some disputes arose between these peoples, which ultimately led to
the destruction of one of them”.

[293] Of the Caspian Sea.

[294] Said on the supposition that it is a bay or gulf of the Scythian
or Septentrional Ocean.

[295] Ansart suggests that this is the modern Rocsha.

[296] From the Oxus.

[297] Ansart suggests that this island is that now called Idak, one of
the Ogurtchinski group.

[298] This would apply to the north-eastern coasts of Siberia, if Pliny
had had any idea of land situate in such high latitudes; but, on the
contrary, as already remarked, he appears to have supposed that the
continent of Asia terminated a little above the northern extremity of
the Caspian. It would be a loss of time to guess what locality is meant
by the Scythian Promontory.

[299] Or “man-eaters.”

[300] This, it would appear, he looks upon as the extreme north-eastern
point of Asia. Parisot suggests that the word Tabis is allied to the
Mongol Daba, which signifies “mountain;” or else that it may have some
affinity with “Thibet.”

[301] The people of Serica, which country with Ptolemy corresponds to
the north-western part of China, and the adjacent portions of Thibet
and Chinese Tartary. The capital, Sera, is by most supposed to be
Singan, on the Hoang-ho, but by some Peking. Pliny evidently refers to
the same people, and has some notion of the locality of their country.

[302] This is generally supposed to bear reference to the cloths
exported by the Seres, as _Serica_, and corresponding to our silks.
On examination, however, it will appear that he rather refers to some
textures of cotton, such as calicos or muslins; it being not unknown
to Pliny that silks or _bombycina_ were the produce of the bombyx or
silk-worm; see B. xi. c. 22. The use of the word “canities” points
strongly to cotton as being the substance meant.

[303] Whether it is silk or cotton that is here referred to, Pliny
seems in this passage to allude to some peculiarity in the texture,
which was perhaps so close, that when brought to the Western world
it was the custom to draw out a portion of the threads. In such case
it perhaps strongly resembled the Chinese crapes of the present day.
Speaking of Cleopatra in B. x. 141, of the Pharsalia, Lucan says, “Her
white breasts are resplendent through the Sidonian fabric, which,
wrought in close texture by the sley of the Seres, the needle of
the workman of the Nile has separated, and has loosened the warp by
stretching out the web.”

[304] He either refers to dresses consisting of nothing but open work,
or what we may call fine lace, and made from the closely woven material
imported from China, or else to the ‘Coan vestments’ which were so
much worn by the Roman women, especially those of light character,
in the Augustan age. This Coan tissue was remarkable for its extreme
transparency. It has been supposed that these dresses were made of
silk, as in the island of Cos silk was spun and woven at an early
period, so much so as to obtain a high celebrity for the manufactures
of that island. Seneca, B. vii. De Benef. severely censures the
practice of wearing these thin garments. For further information on
this subject, see B. xi. c. 26, 27, and B. xii. c. 22.

[305] Meaning that they do not actively seek intercourse with the rest
of the world, but do not refuse to trade with those who will take the
trouble of resorting to them. This coincides wonderfully with the
character of the Chinese even at the present day.

[306] Ptolemy speaks of it as the Œchordas.

[307] The headland of Malacca, in the Aurea Chersonnesus, was also
called by this name, but it is hardly probable that that is the place
here meant.

[308] See B. iv. c. 18.

[309] The Emodi Montes (so called probably from the Indian _hemâdri_,
or the “golden”) are supposed to have formed that portion of the great
lateral branch of the Indian Caucasus, the range of the Himalaya, which
extends along Nepaul, and probably as far as Bhotan.

[310] In c. 14 of the present Book.

[311] The whole of this passage seems very intricate, and it is
difficult to make sense of it. His meaning, however, is probably this:
that the coast of India, running from extreme north-east to south-east,
relatively to Greece, the country of Eratosthenes, is exactly
opposite to the coast of Gaul, running from extreme north-west to
south-west—India thus lying due west of Gaul, without any intervening
land. This, it will be remembered, was the notion of Columbus, when
contemplating the possibility of a western passage to India.

[312] This appears also to be somewhat obscure. It is clear that if
India lies to the west of Gaul, it cannot be Pliny’s meaning that it
is refreshed by the _west_ wind blowing _to_ it _from_ Gaul. He may
possibly mean that the west wind, which is so refreshing to the west
of Europe, and Gaul in particular, first sweeps over India, and thus
becomes productive of that salubrity which Posidonius seems to have
discovered in India, but for which we look in vain at the present
day. Amid, however, such multiplied chances of a corrupt text, it is
impossible to assume any very definite position as to his probable
meaning. The French translators offer no assistance in solving the
difficulty, and Holland renders it, “This west wind which _from behind_
Gaul bloweth upon India, is very healthsome,” &c.

[313] As to the Etesian winds, see B. ii. c. 48.

[314] In the geographical work which Patrocles seems to have published,
he is supposed to have given some account of the countries bordering
on the Caspian Sea, and there is little doubt that, like other writers
of that period, he regarded that sea as a gulf or inlet of the
Septentrional Ocean, and probably maintained the possibility of sailing
thither by sea from the Indian Ocean. This statement, however, seems to
have been strangely misinterpreted by Pliny in his present assertion,
that Patrocles had himself accomplished this circumnavigation.

[315] Sec B. v. c. 36.

[316] Or Bacchus.

[317] Or seventy-five miles.

[318] This is the statement of Arrian.

[319] Among the lost works of that philosopher.

[320] In c. 17 of the present Book.

[321] See c. 25 of the present Book.

[322] See c. 25 of the present Book.

[323] See c. 25 of the present Book.

[324] A town placed by Strabo on the confines of Bactriana, and by
Ptolemy in the county of the Paropanisidæ.

[325] See c. 25 of the present Book.

[326] See c. 24 of the present Book.

[327] The present Attok, according to D’Anville.

[328] One of the principal rivers of that part of India known as the
Punjaub. It rises in the north-western Himalayah mountains in Kashmere,
and after flowing nearly south, falls into the Acesines or Chenab. Its
present most usual name is the Jhelum.

[329] The most eastern, and most important of the five rivers which
water the country of the Punjaub. Rising in the western Himalaya, it
flows in two principal branches, in a course nearly south-west (under
the names respectively of Vipasa and Satadru), which it retains till it
falls into the Indus at Mittimkote. It is best known, however, by its
modern name of Sutlej, probably a corrupt form of the Sanscrit Satadru.

[330] See c. 18 of the present Book. The altars there spoken of, as
consecrated by Alexander the Great, appear to have been erected in
Sogdiana, whereas those here mentioned were dedicated in the Indian

[331] It does not appear that this river has been identified. In most
of the editions it is called Hesidrus; but, as Sillig observes, there
was a town of India, near the Indus, called Sydros, which probably
received its name from this river.

[332] It has been suggested that this place is the modern Kanouge, on
the Ganges.

[333] The modern Jumna. It must be borne in mind by the reader, that
the numbers given in this Chapter vary considerably in the different

[334] See the next Chapter.

[335] The Sanscrit for “snowy” is “_himarat_.” The name of Emodus,
combined with Imaüs, seems here to be a description of the knot of
mountains formed by the intersections of the Himalaya, the Hindoo
Koosh, and the Bolor range; the latter having been for many ages the
boundary between the empires of China and Turkistan. It is pretty
clear, that, like Ptolemy, Pliny imagined that the Imaüs ran from south
to north; but it seems hardly necessary, in this instance at least,
to give to the word “promontorium” the meaning attached to our word
“promontory,” and to suppose that he implies that the range of the
Imaüs runs down to the verge of the eastern ocean.

[336] A name evidently given to numerous tribes of India, from the
circumstance that Alexander and his followers found it borne by the
Brahmins or priestly caste of the Hindoos.

[337] Still called the Cane, a navigable river of India within the
Ganges, falling into the Ganges, according to Arrian as well as Pliny,
though in reality it falls into the Jumna.

[338] The Calingæ, who are further mentioned in the next Chapter,
probably dwelt in the vicinity of the promontory of Calingon, upon
which was the town of Dandaguda, mentioned in c. 23 of the present
Book. This promontory and city are usually identified with those of
Calinapatnam, about half-way between the rivers Mahanuddy and Godavery;
and the territory of the Calingæ seems to correspond pretty nearly to
the district of Circars, lying along the coast of Orissa.

[339] By the Malli, Parisot is of opinion that the people of Moultan
are meant.

[340] So much so, indeed, that its sources were unknown to the learned
world till the beginning of the present century, although the Chinese
emperor Tang-Hi on one occasion sent a body of Llamas for the purpose
of inquiring into the subject. It is now ascertained that the river
Ganges is the result of the confluence of three separate streams, which
bear the respective names of the Gannavi, the Bhagirathi, and the
Alakananda. The second is of the most sacred character, and is the one
to which the largest concourse of pilgrims resort. The ancients held
various opinions as to the sources of the river.

[341] The Cainas and the Jomanes, mentioned in the last Chapter.

[342] The modern Gandaki or Gundûk is generally supposed to be
represented by the Condochates.

[343] Represented as flowing into the Ganges at Palimbothra, the modern
Patna. There has been considerable discussion among the learned as to
what river is indicated by this name. It has, however, been considered
most probable that it is the same as the Sonus of Pliny, the modern
Soane, though both that author, as well as Arrian, speaks of two
rivers, which they call respectively Erannoboas and Sonus. The name was
probably derived from the Sanscrit Hyranyavahas, the poetical name of
the Sonus.

[344] Supposed to be the same as the river Cosi or Coravaha.

[345] The wide diffusion of the Calingæ, and their close connection
with the Gangaridæ, are shown by the fact that Pliny here calls them
“Calingæ Gangarides,” and mentions the Modogalingæ on a large island in
the Ganges, and the Maccocalingæ on the upper course of that river. See
note [338], p. 42.

[346] Called Parthalis in most of the editions.

[347] Or _castes_, as we call them. These institutions prevail equally
at the present day, and the divisions of the duties of the respective
castes are pretty much as Pliny states them to be, except that the
husbandmen and merchants form one class, called the Vaisya, the
Brahmins being the ministers of religion, the Kshatriya forming the
warlike class, the Sudra constituting the menial or servant class.
Pliny here represents the rulers and councillors as forming a distinct
class. Such, however, does not appear to be the fact; for we find that
the sovereign is chosen from the Kshatriya or military class, while
from the Brahmins are selected the royal councillors, judges, and
magistrates of the country.

[348] He alludes to the Brahmins, who seem to have been called by the
Greek writers “Gymnosophists,” or “naked wise men.” The Brahmin Calanus
is a memorable example of this kind of self-immolation.

[349] It is extremely doubtful if, even in his own day, Pliny was
correct in venturing upon so sweeping an assertion.

[350] The Sudra or menial caste.

[351] He is incorrect here; these duties devolve on the Vaisya class.

[352] Inhabited, probably, by a branch of the Calingæ previously

[353] Ansart suggests that this may be the modern kingdom of Pegu. He
thinks also that the preceding kingdom may be that now called Arracan.

[354] These may possibly be the Daradræ of Ptolemy, but it seems
impossible to guess their locality.

[355] Probably the present Patna. D’Anville, however, identifies it
with Allahabad, while Welford and Wahl are inclined to think it the
same as Radjeurah, formerly called Balipoutra or Bengala. The Prasii
are probably the race of people mentioned in the ancient Sanscrit
books under the name of the “Pragi” or the Eastern Empire, while
the Gangarides are mentioned in the same works under the name of
“Gandaressa” or Kingdom of the Ganges.

[356] Hardouin is of opinion that these nations dwelt in the localities
occupied by the districts of Gwalior and Agra.

[357] The Septentriones or “Seven Trions,” in the original. Parisot
is of opinion that under this name of Mount Maleus he alludes to the
Western Ghauts, and that the name still survives in the word Malabar.
He also remarks that this statement of Pliny is not greatly exaggerated.

[358] Ansart says that this is the same as the modern town of Muttra or
Matra upon the Jumna, and to the north of Agra.

[359] Or Clisobora, according to Hardouin. It does not appear to have
been identified.

[360] In the Indian Peninsula, constituting more especially the
presidency of Madras.

[361] It is clear that he looks upon the countries of the Indus as
lying to the south of the Ganges.

[362] Or Hindoo Koosh. In this statement he is supported by Arrian,
Strabo, Mela, and Quintus Curtius. It rises, however, a considerable
distance on the north-east side of the Himalaya.

[363] The modern Jhelum.

[364] Some writers suppose that this must be the same as the Hydraotes,
or modern Ravi, because the latter is not otherwise found mentioned
in the list given by Pliny. The name, however, leaves but little
doubt that Pliny had heard of the Acesines under its Indian name of
Chandabragha, and out of it has made another river.

[365] The modern Sutlej.

[366] Probably in the vicinity of the modern Calingapatam; none of the
other places seem to be identified.

[367] Ansart suggests that the Cesi may be the same race as the modern

[368] Perhaps the people of modern Ajmere.

[369] These peoples are supposed by Hardouin to have occupied the
southern parts of the peninsula now known as Bisnagar, Calicut, and the
Deccan, with the Malabar and Coromandel coasts.

[370] Hardouin suggests that this people dwelt on the present peninsula
of Guzerat.

[371] None of these appear to have been identified; indeed, it appears
to be next to impossible, owing to the corrupt state in which they have
come down to us.

[372] Built on the Hydaspes by Alexander after his victory over Porus,
B.C. 326, at the spot where he had crossed the river before the battle,
and in memory of his celebrated charger Bucephalus, who had expired
during the battle from fatigue and old age, or from wounds. The exact
site of this place is not known, but the probabilities appear in favour
of Jhelum, at which place is the usual passage of the river, or else of
Jellapoor, about sixteen miles lower down.

[373] Probably the same that is mentioned in c. 21 of the present Book.

[374] Parisot supposes that these were the inhabitants of the district
which now bears the name of Pekheli.

[375] Gedrosia comprehended probably the same district as is now known
by the name of Mekran, or, according to some, the whole of modern

[376] The people of the city and district of Arachotus, the capital of
Arachosia. M. Court has identified some ruins on the Argasan river,
near Kandahar, on the road to Shikarpur, with those of Arachotus; but
Professor Wilson considers them to be too much to the south-east.
Colonel Rawlinson thinks they are those to be seen at a place called
Ulan Robat. He states that the most ancient name of the city, Cophen,
(mentioned by Pliny in c. 25 of the present Book), has given rise to
the territorial designation. See p. 57.

[377] The people of Aria, consisting of the eastern part of Khorassan,
and the western and north-western part of Afghanistan. This was one of
the most important of the eastern provinces or satrapies of the Persian

[378] This was the collective name of several peoples dwelling on the
southern slopes of the Hindoo Koosh, and of the country which they
inhabited, which was not known by any other name. It corresponded to
the eastern part of modern Afghanistan and the portion of the Punjaub
lying to the west of the Indus.

[379] It is supposed that the Cophes is represented by the modern river
of Kabul.

[380] The place here alluded to was in the district of Goryæa, at
the north-western corner of the Punjaub, near the confluence of the
rivers Cophen and Choaspes, being probably the same place as Nagara or
Dionysopolis, the modern Nagar or Naggar.

[381] The word μήρος, in Greek, signifying a “thigh.”

[382] Supposed by some to have been Lower Scinde, and the vicinity of
Kurrachee, with its capital Potala.

[383] Ansart suggests that these may be the Laccadives. Their name
means the “gold” and “silver” islands.

[384] Probably an island near the mouths of the Indus.

[385] Probably the same as the Bibacta of Arrian. The present name of
it is Chilney Isle.

[386] Although Poinsinet will not admit its identity, it is now
universally agreed among the learned that the island of Taprobana is
the modern Ceylon. As Gosselin observes, in the accounts said to have
been given of Ceylon by the ambassadors to Claudius, great allowance
must be made for the wrong interpretation which, owing to their
ignorance of the language, the Romans must have given to much of their

[387] From ἀντὶ, “opposite,” and χθών, “the earth.” Its people being
supposed to be the _antipodes_ of those of Europe.

[388] “The ancient race.” As Ansart observes, the island contains a
mountain, the name of which is “Adam’s” Peak.

[389] Ælian makes the villages to be 750 in number.

[390] A general term probably, as already stated, for the great
peninsula of India, below the Ganges.

[391] This expression has been relied upon by those who do not admit
that Ceylon is identical with the ancient Taprobana. But it is not
improbable that the passage here referred to is from Cape Comorin
to Ceylon, and not from Cape Ramanan Cor, the nearest part of the
continent. In such case, the distance would be sixty-five or sixty-six
leagues, and we can easily conceive that Greek vessels, sailing from
nine to ten leagues per day, might occupy seven days in making the
passage from Cape Comorin, past Ramanan Cor, to the coasts of Ceylon.

[392] The amphora, as a measure, contained eight congii, or forty-eight

[393] Or “Septentrio;” “the Seven Trions,” which was more especially
employed by the nations of Europe for the purposes of navigation.

[394] Parisot suggests that the word “Radijah,” or “Rajah,” denoting
the rank which he held, may have been here taken by Pliny for his name.

[395] Ptolemy says that the ancient name of the island was Simundi, or
Palæsimundi, but speaks of no such city as the one here mentioned, nor
indeed of any other of the localities described by Pliny.

[396] It is difficult to say whether by this name is meant the modern
Cape Comorin, or that known as Ramanan Cor, which is in reality the
nearest point to the coast of Ceylon. Perhaps the latter is meant; in
which case it is not improbable that the Island of the Sun will be
represented by the islet called Rameserum in the maps, or else the one
adjoining called Manaar. It must not be confounded with the Island of
the Sun, mentioned in c. 26. See p. 60.

[397] It is not improbable that he alludes to coral reefs.

[398] This assertion Gosselin would either reject as a fabulous
falsehood, or as having originated in some misconception on the part
of the Romans; for, as he remarks, it is quite impossible that the
Pleiades should be a constellation unknown at that time to the people
of Ceylon; but, on the other hand, it would be equally true that the
Greater Bear was concealed from them.

[399] This was also a fable, or else originated in misapprehension of
their language on the part of the Romans.

[400] Gosselin remarks that their story may have been that for about
seven months in the year the shadows fell to the north, and during the
remaining five to the south, which would not have been inconsistent
with the truth.

[401] This also is classed by Gosselin under the head either of
fabulous stories or misapprehensions.

[402] “Seras—ab ipsis aspici.” It is difficult to say whether this does
not mean that they were in sight of the coast of the Seræ. Under any
circumstances, the Seræ here spoken of must not be taken for the Seres
or supposed Chinese. Gosselin remarks that under this name the people
of a district called Sera are probably referred to, and that in fact
such is the name of a city and a whole province at the present day,
situate on the opposite coast, beyond the mountains which terminate the
plains of the Carnatic. It is equally impossible that under the name
of “Emodi” Pliny can allude to the Himalaya chain, distant more than
2000 miles. The mountains, on the verge of the plains of the Carnatic,
are not improbably those here referred to, and it is not impossible
that they may be discerned from the shores of Ceylon. Gosselin is of
opinion that the name of the ancient Seræ may still be traced in that
of Seringapatam, and of the city of Seringham, situate on the river

[403] Relative to the Seræ, or inhabitants of the opposite shores.

[404] Or “Bacchus.” This means that he wears a long robe with a train;
much like the dress, in fact, which was worn on the stage by tragic

[405] “Festa venatione absumi, gratissimam eam tigribus elephantisque
constare.” Holland gives this sentence quite a different meaning,
fancying that it bears reference to the mode in which the guilty king
comes to his end, which, indeed, otherwise does not appear to be
stated. “But to doe him to death in the end, they appoint a solemne
day of hunting, right pleasant and agreable unto tigres and elephants,
before which beasts they expose their king, and so he is presently by
them devoured.” It is difficult to say, however, where he finds all

[406] It is much more probable that they used the shells for the
purpose of making roofs for their habitations.

[407] Mentioned already, towards the conclusion of c. 23 of the present
Book. See p. 51.

[408] This place was included in the district of the Paropanisus or
Hindoo Koosh. It is doubtful whether Pliny is correct in saying that
it was destroyed by Cyrus, as we have no reason for supposing that he
ever advanced so far to the north-east. It is supposed by some that
Capisene represents the valley of the Kabul river, and Capisa the town
on the Indus, now known as Peshawar. Lassen, in his researches, has
found in the Chinese annals a kingdom called Kiapiche, in the valley of
Ghurbend, to the east of Bamian. It is not improbable that Capisa and
Kiapiche were different forms of the same name.

[409] See the Notes in p. 50.

[410] The principal river of Drangiana, which rises in the lower range
of the Paropanisus or Hindoo Koosh, and enters Lake Zarah. Its present
name is Ilmend or Helmend. Burnouf has supposed it to be the same as
the Arachotus; but Professor Wilson is of opinion that the Arachotus
was one of the tributaries of the Erymanthus or Erymandrus, and
probably the modern Arkand-Ab.

[411] Parisot takes the meaning of this word to be “valley,” and is of
opinion that it is the modern Chabul; not to be confounded, however,
with the country of Cabul, to the east of which it is situate.

[412] Now called Birusen, according to Parisot, and not the city of
Cabul, as supposed by Hardouin.

[413] Or the “four-cornered city.”

[414] This place has not been identified. It has been suggested that
it is the same as the modern city of Candahar; but that was really
Alexandria of the Paropanisadæ, quite a different place.

[415] Inhabiting the district now called Arassen, according to Parisot.

[416] Inhabiting the modern Danra, according to Parisot.

[417] Inhabitants of the modern Parasan, according to Parisot.

[418] The modern Candahar is generally supposed to occupy its site.

[419] Pliny is thought to have here confounded the extensive district
of Ariana with the smaller province of Aria, which only formed a
portion of it. Ariana comprehended nearly the whole of what had been
previously ancient Persia.

[420] The river known in modern times as the Ilincut, according to

[421] This is supposed by Forbiger to be the modern Arghasan, one of
the tributaries of the Helmend. Parisot says that it was the same as
the modern Sat.

[422] Supposed to be the same as the “Aria civitas,” or “city of Aria”
of other authors, which, however, is most probably represented by
Alexandria, the modern Herat, situate on the small stream now called
the Heri-Rud. At all events, Artacoana (proved by M. Court to be a
word of Persian origin—Arde Koun) was, if not the same place, at a
very small distance from it. M. Barbie de Bocage is of opinion that it
occupied the site of Fushing, a town on the Heri river, one stage from
Herat; and by M. Court it is thought to have been at Obeh, near the
same place.

[423] Now called the Heri-Rud, which runs to the west of Herat.

[424] It is said that, judging from a traditional verse still current
among the people of Herat, that town is believed to unite the claims
of the ancient capital built by Alexander the Great, or indeed,
more properly, repaired by him, as he was but a short time in Aria.
The distance also from the Caspian Gates to Alexandria favours its
identification with the modern Herat.

[425] This place does not appear to have been identified.

[426] Ansart suggests that the river Pharnacotis is the same as the
modern Ferrichround, and the Ophradus probably the Kouchround.

[427] Ansart suggests that the modern name is Zarang. Parisot says that
it is Corcharistan.

[428] The inhabitants of Drangiana, a district at the eastern end of
the modern kingdom of Persia, and comprehending part of the present
Sejestan or Seistan.

[429] They gave its name to the modern Eudras, according to Parisot.

[430] It is doubtful whether these are the same as the Gedrosi,
mentioned by Pliny in c. 23, 24. Parisot censures Hardouin for
confounding them, and says that these inhabited the modern Bassar. In
Dr. Smith’s _Dictionary_, they are looked upon as the same people.

[431] Parisot says that this is the desert region now known as
Eremaier, to the east of Mount Maugracot.

[432] As Parisot remarks, our author is now approaching the sea-shore;
these places, however, do not appear to have been identified.

[433] Not the same as the river Cophen or Cophes mentioned in c. 24,
the modern Kabul. Hardouin takes it to be the same as the Arbis or
Arabius of Ptolemy, the modern Hilmend or Ilmend.

[434] Parisot seems to think that the modern names of these rivers are
the Sal, the Ghir, and the Ilmentel, which, according to him, flow into
the Ilmend.

[435] Situate, according to Ptolemy, in the eastern parts of Media.

[436] For this measurement see c. 21.

[437] Meaning the “Fish-eating Mountaineers.” According to Parisot they
occupied the site of the modern Dulcidan, and Goadel, which are bounded
by mountains, whence the name.

[438] Not only the Oritæ, but all those mentioned in the following
Chapter. For further particulars as to the Ichthyophagi, see B. vii. c.

[439] See the Notes at the end of this Book.

[440] By descending the Indus, and going up the Persian Gulf.

[441] Near the mouth of the Indus, Hardouin says.

[442] One of Alexander’s most distinguished officers, and a native of
Pella. He commanded the division of cavalry and light-armed troops
which accompanied the fleet of Alexander down the Indus, along the
right bank of the river. The Alexandria here mentioned does not appear
to have been identified. It is not to be confounded with Alexandria
in Arachosia, nor yet with a place of the same name in Carmania, the
modern Kerman.

[443] A river Tomerus is spoken of by Arrian as lying between the Indus
and the river Arabis or Arbis.

[444] They seem to have dwelt along the shores of the modern Mukran,
south of Beloochistan, and probably part of Kerman.

[445] Called Nosala by Arrian. Ansart suggests that it is the island
now known by the name of Sengadip. It lay probably off the promontory
or headland of the Sun, on the eastern coast of Arabia.

[446] Mela suggests the reason, but gives to the island a different
locality—“over against the mouth of the Indus.” He says that the air of
the island is of such a nature as to take away life instantaneously,
and appears to imply that the heat is the cause.

[447] Possibly that now known as the Rud Shur.

[448] Properly the “Seven Trions.”

[449] The Persian kings, descendants of Achæmenes. He was said to have
been reared by an eagle.

[450] Called the Promontory of Harmozon by Strabo, Hardouin says that
the modern name is Cape Jash, but recent writers suggest that it is
represented by the modern Cape Bombaruk, nearly opposite Cape Mussendom.

[451] Perhaps the modern Kishon, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf;
or that may be one of the four islands next mentioned.

[452] The story of Pontoppidan’s Kraken or Korven, the serpent of the
Norwegian Seas, is as old as Pliny, we find, and _he_ derived his
information from older works.

[453] Forbiger has suggested that this may be the same as the modern

[454] Mentioned again in c. 29 of the present Book. Its modern name is
Pasa or Fasa-Kuri, according to Parisot.

[455] Supposed to be the stream called by D’Anville and Thevenot the
Boschavir, the river of Abushir or Busheer.

[456] A river of ancient Susiana, the present name of which is Karun.
Pliny states, in c. 31 of the present Book, that the Eulæus flowed
round the citadel of Susa; he mistakes it, however, for the Coprates,
or, more strictly speaking, for a small stream now called the Shapúr
river, the ancient name of which has not been preserved. He is also
in error, most probably, in making the river Eulæus flow through
Messabatene, it being most likely the present Mah-Sabaden, in Laristan,
which is drained by the Kerkbah, the ancient Choaspes, and not by the

[457] Called, for the sake of distinction, Charax Spasinu, originally
founded by Alexander the Great. It was afterwards destroyed by a flood,
and rebuilt by Antiochus Epiphanes, under the name of Antiochia. It is
mentioned in c. 31.

[458] The Shushan of Scripture, now called Shu. It was the winter
residence of the kings of Persia, and stood in the district Cersia of
the province Susiana, on the eastern bank of the river Choaspes. The
site of Susa is now marked by extensive mounds.

[459] The island of Patala or Patale, previously mentioned in c. 23.

[460] Most probably the Cape Ras-el-Bad, the most easterly peninsula of

[461] 35,000,000 francs, according to Ansart, which would amount to
£1,400,000 of our money.

[462] Pliny is the only writer that mentions this place among the
towns of Lower Egypt. Some suppose it to have been Nicopolis, or the
City of Victory, founded by Augustus B.C. 29, partly to commemorate
the reduction of Egypt to a Roman province, and partly to punish the
Alexandrians for their adhesion to the cause of Antony and Cleopatra.
Mannert, however, looks upon it as having been merely that suburb of
Alexandria which Strabo (B. xvii.) calls Eleusis.

[463] From the Greek ὕδρευμα, a “watering-place.”

[464] From Coptos, the modern Kouft or Keft. Ptolemy Philadelphus, when
he constructed the port of Berenice, erected several caravansaries or
watering-places between the new city and Coptos. Coptos was greatly
enriched by the commerce between Lybia and Egypt on the one hand, and
Arabia and India on the other.

[465] Belzoni found traces of several of the stations here mentioned.
The site of Berenice, as ascertained by Moresby and Carless, 1830-3,
was nearly at the bottom of the inlet known as the Sinus Immundus, or
Foul Bay. Its ruins still exist.

[466] Now called Gehla, a harbour and emporium at the south-western
point of Arabia Felix.

[467] An emporium or promontory on the southern coast of Arabia, in the
country of the Adramitæ, and, as Arrian says, the chief port of the
incense-bearing country. It has been identified by D’Anville with Cava
Canim Bay, near a mountain called Hissan Ghorab, at the base of which
there are ruins to be seen.

[468] Probably the modern Mosch, north of Mokha, near the southern
extremity of Arabia Felix.

[469] Its ruins are now known as Dhafar. It was one of the chief cities
of Arabia, standing near the southern coast of Arabia Felix, opposite
the modern Cape Guardafui.

[470] Or Favonius, the west wind, previously mentioned in the present

[471] The modern Mangalore, according to Du Bocage.

[472] Or canoes.

[473] The Cottiara of Ptolemy, who makes it the chief city of the Æi, a
tribe who occupied the lower part of the peninsula of Hindostan. It has
been supposed to be represented by the modern Calicut or Travancore.
Cochin, however, appears to be the most likely.

[474] Marcus observes that we may conclude that either Pliny or the
author from whom he transcribed, wrote this between the years of the
Christian era 48 and 51; for that the coincidence of the 6th of the
month Mechir with the Ides of January, could not have taken place
in any other year than those on which the first day of Thoth or the
beginning of the year fell on the 11th of August, which happened in the
years 48, 49, 50, and 51 of the Christian era.

[475] An extensive province of Asia, along the northern shores of the
Persian Gulf, supposed to have comprehended the coast-line of the
modern Laristan, Kirman, and Moghostan.

[476] Ptolemy mentions an inland town of Carmania of the same name.

[477] Supposed to be that known now as the Ibrahim Rud, which falls
into the Persian Gulf.

[478] These sites are unknown.

[479] Forms two bays or gulfs in succession.

[480] He gives this name to the whole expanse of sea that lies between
Arabia and Africa on the west, and India on the east, including the Red
Sea and the Persian Gulf.

[481] Or Erythrus. In all probability entirely a mythical personage.
The sea having been called in Greek ἐρυθραῖα, or “red”—the legend most
probably thence took its rise. No very satisfactory reason has yet been
given for its being so called. The Hebrew name of it signifies the
“Sedgy Sea.”

[482] From Azania in Æthiopia, mentioned again in c. 34 of the present

[483] The maps appear to make it considerably more.

[484] The only feature of resemblance appears to be its comparative
narrowness at the neck.

[485] Or “turtle-eaters.”

[486] Different probably from the Cophis mentioned in c. 25, which was
also called Arabius or Arbis, and probably represented by the modern

[487] Of Harmozon, probably the modern Bombareek.

[488] Their district is supposed to denote the vicinity of the modern
Ormuz, an island off this coast, which is now known as Moghostan.

[489] Taking their name probably from the river Arbis, previously

[490] The “Port of the Macedonians.”

[491] Now the Tab, falling into the Persian Gulf.

[492] A district of Susiana, extending from the river Eulæus on the
west, to the Oratis on the east, deriving its name perhaps from the
Elymæi, or Elymi, a warlike people found in the mountains of Greater
Media. In the Old Testament this country is called Elam.

[493] Ptolemy says that this last bore the name of “Alexander’s Island.”

[494] Persis was more properly a portion only or province of the
ancient kingdom of Persia. It gave name to the extensive Medo-Persian
kingdom under Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire, B.C. 559.

[495] The Parthi originally inhabited the country south-east of the
Caspian, now Khorassan. Under Arsaces and his descendants, Persis and
the other provinces of ancient Persia became absorbed in the great
Parthian empire. Parthia, with the Chorasmii, Sogdii, and Arii, formed
the sixteenth satrapy under the Persian empire. See c. 16 of this Book.

[496] The provinces of Parthia have been already mentioned in detail in
the preceding Chapters, except Susiana and Elymais, which are mentioned
in c. 31.

[497] The original Parthia, the modern Khorassan.

[498] The so-called Caucasian chain. See c. 16 of the present Book.

[499] Or “Wandering Parthians,” lying far to the east.

[500] In c. 17 of the present Book.

[501] Not to be confounded with the place in Atropatene, mentioned in
c. 21 of the present Book.

[502] It has been supposed that the modern Damgham corresponds with
this place, but that is too near the Portæ Caspiæ. It is considered
most probable that the remains of Hecatompylos ought to be sought in
the neighbourhood of a place now known as Jah Jirm. It is mentioned in
c. 17 and 21 of the present Book.

[503] Media occupied the extreme west of the great table-land of the
modern Iran. It corresponded very nearly to the modern province of

[504] The Upper and the Lower, as already mentioned.

[505] Hardouin suggests that this should be Syrtibolos. His reasons for
so thinking will be found alluded to in a note to c. 31. See p. 80,
Note [593].

[506] Or the “Great Ladder.” The Baron de Bode states, in his _Travels
in Luristan and Arabistan_, that he discovered the remains of a
gigantic causeway, in which he had no difficulty in recognizing one
of the most ancient and most mysterious monuments of the East. This
causeway, which at the present day bears the name of Jaddehi-Atabeg, or
the “road of the Atabegs,” was looked upon by several historians as one
of the wonders of the world, who gave it the name of the Climax Megale
or “Great Ladder.” At the time even of Alexander the Great the name of
its constructor was unknown.

[507] Which was rebuilt after it was burnt by Alexander, and in
the middle ages had the name of Istakhar; it is now called Takhti
Jemsheed, the throne of Jemsheed, or Chil-Minar, the Forty Pillars. Its
foundation is sometimes ascribed to Cyrus the Great, but more generally
to his son, Cambyses. The ruins of this place are very extensive.

[508] Its site is unknown; but Dupinet translates it the “city of Lor.”

[509] The older of the two capitals of Persia, Persepolis being the
later one. It was said to have been founded by Cyrus the Great, on
the spot where he gained his victory over Astyages. Its exact site
is doubtful, but most modern geographers identify it with Murghab,
to the north-east of Persepolis, where there are the remains of a
great sepulchral monument of the ancient Persians, probably the tomb
of Cyrus. Others place it at Farsa or at Dorab-Gherd, both to the
south-east of Persepolis, the direction mentioned by Strabo, but not in
other respects answering his description so well as Murghab.

[510] It is most probable that he does not allude here to the Ecbatana,
mentioned in c. 17 of this Book.

[511] There were several mountainous districts called Parætacene in the
Persian empire, that being the Greek form of a Persian word signifying

[512] In B. v. c. 21. He returns to the description of Susiana,
Elymaïs, and Characene in c. 31 of the present Book.

[513] The great seat of empire of the Babylonio-Chaldæan kingdom. It
either occupied the site, it is supposed, or stood in the immediate
vicinity of the tower of Babel. In the reign of Labynedus, Nabonnetus,
or Belshazzar, it was taken by Cyrus. In the reign of Augustus, a
small part only of Babylon was still inhabited, the remainder of the
space within the walls being under cultivation. The ruins of Babylon
are found to commence a little south of the village of Mohawill, eight
miles north of Hillah.

[514] Nineveh. See c. 16 of the present Book.

[515] On the left bank of the Euphrates, opposite to the ford of
Zeugma; a fortress of considerable importance.

[516] Its site is unknown. Dupinet confounds it with the place of this
name mentioned in the last Chapter, calling them by the name of Lor.

[517] Pliny is wrong in placing Artemita in Mesopotamia. It was a city
of Babylonia, in the district of Apolloniatis. The modern Sherbán is
supposed to occupy its site.

[518] Burnouf, having found the name of these people, as he supposes,
in a cuneiform inscription, written “Ayura,” would have them to be
called Aroei. The Orei are also mentioned in B. v. c. 20.

[519] This Antioch does not appear to have been identified.

[520] The mountains of the Gordyæi are mentioned in c. 12.

[521] This, as previously mentioned in a Note to c. 16, was the scene
of the last great battle between Alexander and Darius, and known as
the battle of Arbela. It has been suggested that it may perhaps be
represented by a place now called Karnelis. See p. 27.

[522] According to Ansart, now called the Lesser Zab, and by the
inhabitants the Altun-su, meaning the “Golden river.”

[523] According to Parisot, the modern name is Calicala.

[524] Strabo speaks of the Aborras, or modern Khabur, as flowing in
the vicinity of Anthemusia, the district probably in which the town of
Anthermis was situate. According to Isidorus of Charax, it lay between
Edessa and the Euphrates. Its site does not appear to have been any
further identified. It is called Anthemusia in B. v. c. 21.

[525] In B. v. c. 21.

[526] In B. v. c. 21.

[527] In B. v. c. 21.

[528] This canal, leading from the Euphrates to the Tigris, is by
some thought, according to Hardouin, to have been the river Chobar,
mentioned in Ezekiel, c. i. v. 3.

[529] For Arar-Melik, meaning the “River King,” according to Parisot.

[530] As to the identity of this, see a Note at the beginning of this

[531] Meaning Jupiter Uranius, or “Heavenly Jupiter,” according to
Parisot, who observes that Eusebius interprets _baal_, or _bel_,
“heaven.” According to one account, he was the father of king Ninus and
son of Nimrod. The Greeks in later times attached to his name many of
their legendary fables.

[532] The city of Seleucia ad Tigrin, long the capital of Western
Asia, until it was eclipsed by Ctesiphon. Its site has been a matter
of considerable discussion, but the most probable opinion is, that it
stood on the western bank of the Tigris, to the north of its junction
with the royal canal (probably the river Chobar above mentioned),
opposite to the mouth of the river Delas or Silla (now Diala), and
to the spot where Ctesiphon was afterwards built by the Parthians.
It stood a little to the south of the modern city of Baghdad; thus
commanding the navigation of the Tigris and Euphrates, and the whole
plain formed by those two rivers.

[533] Ammianus, like Pliny, has ascribed its foundation to the
Parthians under Varanes, or Vardanes, of whom, however, nothing is
known. It stood in the south of Assyria, on the eastern or left bank of
the Tigris. Strabo speaks of it as being the winter residence of the
Parthian kings, who lived there at that season, owing to the mildness
of the climate. In modern times the site of this place has been
identified with that called by the Arabs Al Madain, or the “two cities.”

[534] Or Vologeses. This was the name of five kings of Parthia, of the
race of the Arsacidæ, Arsaces XXIII., XXVII., XXVIII., XXIX., XXX. It
was the first of these monarchs who founded the place here mentioned by

[535] Or the “City of Vologesus;” _certa_ being the Armenian for “city.”

[536] Nothing appears to be known of this place; but Hardouin thinks
that it is the same with one called Maarsares by Ptolemy, and situate
on the same river Narraga.

[537] Parisot says that this river is the one set down in the maps as
falling into the Tigris below its junction with the Euphrates, and near
the mouths of the two rivers. He says that near the banks of it is
marked the town of Nabrahan, the Narraga of Pliny.

[538] There is great doubt as to the correct spelling of these names.

[539] Against the attacks of robbers dwelling on the opposite side; the
Attali, for instance.

[540] Or “dwellers in tents,” Bedouins, as we call them.

[541] B. v. c. 20 and 21.

[542] Towards Mahamedieh.

[543] Near Antioch and the Orontes: now Seleukeh, or Kepse, near

[544] See B. v. c. 13.

[545] The Mediterranean and the Red Sea; the latter including the
modern Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

[546] Forbiger is of opinion that this is the same as the Didigua or
Didugua of Ptolemy. It was situate below Alpamea. D’Anville takes it to
be the modern Corna.

[547] The modern Turcomania.

[548] Now known as the Plain of Chelat, according to Parisot, extending
between Chelat, a city situate on a great lake and the river Rosso,
falling into the Caspian Sea.

[549] Called Diglith by Josephus. Hardouin states that in his time the
name given to the river by the natives was Daghela. This name is also
supposed to be another form of the Hiddekel of Scripture. See Genesis
ii. 14.

[550] According to Bochart, this was a corruption of the Eastern name
Deghel, from which were derived the forms Deger, Teger, and ultimately

[551] Ritter has identified this with the modern lake Nazuk, in
Armenia, about thirteen miles in length and five in breadth. The water
at the present day is said to be sweet and wholesome.

[552] Seneca, however, in his _Quæst. Nat._ B. vi., represents the
Tigris here as gradually drying up and becoming gradually smaller, till
it disappears.

[553] This spot is considered by Parisot to be the modern city of

[554] A spot where liquid bitumen or naphtha was found.

[555] Or probably Arzarene, a province of the south of Armenia, situate
on the left bank of the Tigris. It derived its name from the lake
Arsene, or the town Arzen, situate on this lake. It is comprehended in
the modern Pashalik of Dyár Bekr.

[556] Now called the Myrád-chaï. See B. v. c. 24. Ritter considers it
to be the southern arm of the Euphrates.

[557] Or Aroei, as Littré suggests. See Note to c. 30 in p. 71.

[558] See c. 17 of the present Book.

[559] The site of this place seems to be unknown. It has been remarked
that it is difficult to explain the meaning of this passage of Pliny,
or to determine the probable site of Apamea.

[560] Hardouin remarks that this is the right arm of the Tigris, by
Stephanus Byzantinus called Delas, and by Eustathius Sylax, which last
he prefers.

[561] According to Ammianus, one of the names of Seleucia on the Tigris
was Coche.

[562] A river of Susiana, which, after passing Susa, flowed into the
Tigris, below its junction with the Euphrates. The indistinctness of
the ancient accounts has caused it to be confused with the Eulæus,
which flows nearly parallel with it into the Tigris. It is pretty
clear that they were not identical. Pliny here states that they were
different rivers, but makes the mistake below, of saying that Susa was
situate upon the Eulæus, instead of the Choaspes. These errors may be
accounted for, it has been suggested, by the fact that there are two
considerable rivers which unite at Bund-i-Kir, a little above Ahwaz,
and form the ancient Pasitigris or modern Karun. It is supposed that
the Karun represents the ancient Eulæus, and the Kerkhah the Choaspes.

[563] In c. 26 of the present Book. The custom of the Persian kings
drinking only of the waters of the Eulæus and Choaspes, is mentioned in
B. xxxi. c. 21.

[564] Or the country “by the river.”

[565] Pliny is the only writer who makes mention of this place. Parisot
is of opinion that it is represented by the modern Digil-Ab, on the
Tigris, and suggests that Digilath may be the correct reading.

[566] Mentioned in the last Chapter.

[567] Now called the Mountains of Luristan.

[568] The name of the district of Chalonitis is supposed to be still
preserved in that of the river of Holwan. Pliny is thought, however, to
have been mistaken in placing the district on the river Tigris, as it
lay to the east of it, and close to the mountains.

[569] From Arbela, in Assyria, which bordered on it.

[570] A great and populous city of Babylonia, near the Tigris, but
not on it, and eight parasangs within the Median wall. The site is
that probably now called Eski Baghdad, and marked by a ruin called the
Tower of Nimrod. Parisot cautions against confounding it with a place
of a similar name, mentioned by Pliny in B. xii. c. 17, a mistake into
which, he says, Hardouin has fallen.

[571] Now called Felongia, according to Parisot. Hardouin considers it
the same as the Sambana of Diodorus Siculus, which Parisot looks upon
as the same as Ambar, to the north of Felongia.

[572] Of this Antiochia nothing appears to be known. By some it has
been supposed to be the same with Apollonia, the chief town of the
district of Apolloniatis, to the south of the district of Arbela.

[573] Also called the Physcus, the modern Ordoneh, an eastern tributary
of the Tigris in Lower Assyria. The town of Opis stood at its junction
with the Tigris.

[574] D’Anville supposes that this Apamea was at the point where the
Dijeil, now dry, branched off from the Tigris, which bifurcation
he places near Samurrah. Lynch, however, has shown that the Dijeil
branched off near Jibbarah, a little north of 34° North lat., and
thinks that the Dijeil once swept the end of the Median wall, and
flowed between it and Jebbarah. Possibly this is the Apamea mentioned
by Pliny in c. 27.

[575] The son of Seleucus Nicator.

[576] More to the south, and nearer the sea.

[577] Previously mentioned in c. 26.

[578] A part of Mount Zagrus, previously mentioned, according to

[579] Its site appears to be unknown. According to Stephanus, it was
a city of Persia. Forbiger conjectures that it is the same place as
Badaca, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, B. xix. c. 19; but that was
probably nearer to Susa.

[580] The buryer excepted, perhaps.

[581] In c. 28 of the present Book.

[582] As mentioned in c. 26 of the present Book.

[583] A warlike tribe on the borders of Susiana and the Greater Media.
In character they are thought to have resembled the Bakhtiara tribes,
who now roam over the mountains which they formerly inhabited. It has
been suggested that their name may possibly be connected with the
modern Khuzistan.

[584] Supposed to be the same as the modern Kirmánshah mountains.

[585] As mentioned in a previous Note, (67 in p. 77), Pliny mistakes
the Eulæus for the Choaspes. In c. 26 he says that Susa is on the river

[586] Pliny says this in B. xxxi. c. 21 of both the Eulæus and the

[587] Most probably the Hedyphon of Strabo, supposed to be the same as
that now called the Djerrabi.

[588] Parisot thinks that this is the modern Jessed, in the vicinity of
the desert of Bealbanet.

[589] Previously mentioned in c. 28.

[590] The modern Tab.

[591] Now called Camata, according to Parisot.

[592] The modern Saurac, according to Parisot. The more general reading
is “Sosirate.”

[593] Our author has nowhere made any such statement as this, for which
reason Hardouin thinks that he here refers to the maritime region
mentioned in c. 29 of the present Book (p. 69), the name of which
Sillig reads as Ciribo. Hardouin would read it as Syrtibolos, and would
give it the meaning of the “muddy district of the Syrtes.” It is more
likely, however, that Pliny has made a slip, and refers to something
which, by inadvertence, he has omitted to mention.

[594] Charax Spasinu, or Pasinu, previously mentioned in c. 26 (see p.
62). The name Charax applied to a town, seems to have meant a fortified

[595] Called “Eudæmon” by Pliny.

[596] The Great, the father of Antiochus Epiphanes.

[597] Though this passage is probably corrupt, the reading employed
by Sillig is inadmissible, as it makes nothing but nonsense. “Et jam
Vipsanda porticus habet;” “and even now, Vipsanda has its porticos.”

[598] Dionysius of Charax. No particulars of him are known beyond those
mentioned by Pliny.

[599] Caius, the son of Marcus Agrippa and Julia, the daughter of
Augustus. He was the adopted son of Augustus.

[600] See B. iii. c. 1, p. 151, in vol. 1.

[601] In B. v. c. 21 and 22.

[602] Who called himself the King of kings, and was finally conquered
by Pompey.

[603] The Mediterranean.

[604] See B. v. c. 12.

[605] Salmasius thinks that this should be written “Nombei;” but
Hardouin remarks that the Nombæi were not of Arabian but Jewish
extraction, and far distant from Mount Libanus.

[606] The only resemblance between them is, that each is a peninsula;
that of Arabia being of far greater extent than Italy. It will be
remarked that here, contrary to his ordinary practice, Pliny makes a
distinction between the Red Sea and the Persian Sea or Gulf.

[607] “In eandem etiam cœli partem nulla differentia spectat.” A glance
at the map will at once show the fallacy of this assertion.

[608] In B. v. c. 12 and 21.

[609] In c. 30 of the present Book.

[610] Mentioned in B. v. c. 21, if, indeed, that is the same Petra.

[611] Omana or Omanum was their chief place, a port on the north-east
coast of Arabia Felix, a little above the promontory of Syagros,
now Ras el Had, on a large gulf of the same name. The name is still
preserved in the modern name Oman.

[612] In Sitacene, mentioned in the preceding Chapter.

[613] Or rather, as Hardouin says, the shore opposite to Charax, and on
the western bank of the river.

[614] Called Core Boobian, a narrow salt-water channel, laid down for
the first time in the East India Company’s chart, and separating a
large low island, off the mouth of the old bed of the Euphrates, from
the mainland.

[615] The great headland on the coast of Arabia, at the entrance of the
bay of Doat-al-Kusma from the south, opposite to Pheleche Island.

[616] This is the line of coast extending from the great headland last
mentioned to the river Khadema, the ancient Achenus.

[617] So called from the city of Arabia Felix, built on its shores.
Strabo says of this city, “The city of Gerra lies in a deep gulf, where
Chaldæan exiles from Babylon inhabit a salt country, having houses
built of salt, the walls of which, when they are wasted by the heat of
the sun, are repaired by copious applications of sea-water.” D’Anville
first identified this place with the modern El Khatiff. Niebuhr finds
its site on the modern Koneit of the Arabs, called “Gran” by the
Persians; but Foster is of opinion that he discovered its ruins in the
East India Company’s Chart, situate where all the ancient authorities
had placed it, at the end of the deep and narrow bay at the mouth of
which are situated the islands of Bahrein. The gulf mentioned by Pliny
is identified by Foster with that of Bahrein.

[618] The modern island of Bahrein, according to Brotier, still famous
for its pearl-fishery.

[619] Now Samaki, according to Ansart. Its ancient name was Aradus.

[620] Hardouin takes this to be that which by the Arabians is called by
the name of Falg.

[621] On the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf.

[622] Considered by modern geographers to be identical in situation
with the Black Mountains and the Cape of Asabi, and still marked by a
town and district named Sabee, close to Cape Mussendom.

[623] In the modern district still called Oman.

[624] On the opposite coast.

[625] He calls it Canis, evidently thinking that “Cynos” was its Greek
appellation only: as meaning the “Dogs’” river.

[626] Or the mountain “with the Three Peaks.”

[627] Stephanus mentions this as an island of the Erythræan Sea. Hardly
any of these places appear to have been identified; and there is great
uncertainty as to the orthography of the names.

[628] From which came the myrrh mentioned by Pliny in B. xii. c. 36.

[629] Or the Tent-Dwellers, the modern Bedouins.

[630] By some geographers identified with the Ocelis or Ocila,
mentioned in c. 26, the present Zee Hill or Ghela, a short distance to
the south of Mocha, and to the north of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.
Hardouin says, however, that it was a different place, Acila being in
the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, in which he appears to be correct.

[631] Nothing relative to Numenius beyond this fact has been recorded.

[632] Hardouin and Ansart think that under this name is meant the
island called in modern times Mazira or Maceira.

[633] There seem to have been three mythical personages of this name;
but it appears impossible to distinguish the one from the other.

[634] Or “Dioscoridis Insula,” an island of the Indian Ocean, of
considerable importance as an emporium or mart, in ancient times.
It lay between the Syagrus Promontorium, in Arabia, and Aromata
Promontorium, now Cape Guardafui, on the opposite coast of Africa,
somewhat nearer to the former, according to Arrian, which cannot be the
case if it is rightly identified with Socotorra, 200 miles distant from
the Arabian coast, and 110 from the north-east promontory of Africa.

[635] So called from Azania, or Barbaria, now Ajan, south of Somauli,
on the mainland of Africa.

[636] Now Cape Fartash, in Arabia.

[637] Their country is supposed to have been the Sheba of Scripture,
the queen of which visited king Solomon. It was situate in the
south-western corner of Arabia Felix, the north and centre of the
province of Yemen, though the geographers before Ptolemy seem to give
it a still wider extent, quite to the south of Yemen. The Sabæi most
probably spread originally on both sides of the southern part of the
Red Sea, the shores of Arabia and Africa. Their capital was Saba,
in which, according to their usage, their king was confined a close

[638] The Persian Gulf to the Red Sea.

[639] The modern district of Hadramaut derives its name from this
people, who were situate on the coast of the Red Sea to the east of
Aden. Sabota, their capital, was a great emporium for their drugs and

[640] Still known as Mareb, according to Ansart.

[641] Hardouin is doubtful as to this name, and thinks that it ought to
be Elaïtæ, or else Læanitæ, the people again mentioned below.

[642] A name which looks very much like “fraud,” or “cheating,” as
Hardouin observes, from the Greek ἀπάτη.

[643] Off the Promontory of Ras-el-Had.

[644] Probably in the district now known as Akra. It was situate on the
eastern coast of the Red Sea, at the foot of Mount Hippus.

[645] See B. v. c. 12, where this town is mentioned.

[646] Whose chief city was Petra, previously mentioned.

[647] Supposed by some writers to have been the ancestors of the
Saracens, so famous in the earlier part of the middle ages. Some of the
MSS., indeed, read “Sarraceni.”

[648] Their town is called Arra by Ptolemy.

[649] Their district is still called Thamud, according to Ansart.

[650] Still called Cariatain, according to Ansart.

[651] A ridiculous fancy, probably founded solely on the similarity of
the name.

[652] A story as probable, Hardouin observes, as that about the
descendants of Minos.

[653] The Arabs of Yemen, known in Oriental history by the name of
Himyari, were called by the Greeks Homeritæ.

[654] An inland city, called Masthala by Ptolemy.

[655] Agatharchides speaks of a town on the sea coast, which was so
called from the multitude of ducks found there. The one here spoken of
was in the interior, and cannot be the same.

[656] Hardouin observes, that neither this word, nor the name
Riphearma, above mentioned, has either a Hebrew or an Arabian origin.

[657] Probably the same place as we find spoken of by Herodotus as
Ampe, and at which Darius settled a colony of Miletians after the
capture of Miletus, B.C. 494.

[658] Hardouin remarks that Mariaba, the name found in former editions,
has no such meaning in the modern Arabic.

[659] Mentioned by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, B. v. l. 165, _et seq._
Sillig, however, reads “Ciani.”

[660] An intimate friend of the geographer Strabo. He was prefect of
Egypt during part of the reign of Augustus, and in the years B.C. 24
and 25. Many particulars have been given by Strabo of his expedition
against Arabia, in which he completely failed. The heat of the sun,
the badness of the water, and the want of the necessaries of life,
destroyed the greater part of his army.

[661] By adoption, as previously stated.

[662] The town of the Calingii, mentioned above.

[663] Or wandering tribes.

[664] Its uses in medicine are stated at length in the last Chapter of
B. xxi.

[665] Another form of the name of Atramitæ previously mentioned, the
ancient inhabitants of the part of Arabia known as Hadramant, and
settled, as is supposed, by the descendants of the Joctanite patriarch

[666] Arabia at the present day yields no gold, and very little silver.
The queen of Sheba is mentioned as bringing gold to Solomon, _1 Kings_,
x. 2, _2 Chron._ ix. i. Artemidorus and Diodorus Siculus make mention,
on the Arabian Gulf, of the Debæ, the Alilæi, and the Gasandi, in whose
territories native gold was found. These last people, who did not know
its value, were in the habit of bringing it to their neighbours, the
Sabæi, and exchanging it for articles of iron and copper.

[667] B. xii.

[668] The “mitra,” which was a head-dress especially used by the
Phrygians, was probably of varied shape, and may have been the early
form of the eastern turban.

[669] The Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.

[670] Or Heroöpolis, a city east of the Delta, in Egypt, and situate
near the mouth of the royal canal which connected the Nile with the
Red Sea. It was of considerable consequence as a trading station upon
the arm of the Red Sea, which runs up as far as Arsinoë, the modern
Suez, and was called the “Gulf” or “Bay of the Heroes.” The ruins of
Heroöpolis are still visible at Abu-Keyscheid.

[671] This place, as here implied, took its name from Cambyses, the son
of Cyrus.

[672] In c. 9 of the preceding Book. “Dictum,” however, may only mean,
“called” the Delta.

[673] Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Tzetzes, mention this, not with
reference to Sesostris, but Necho, the grandson of Sesostris.

[674] Ptolemy Philadelphus, son of Ptolemy Soter, or Lagides.

[675] Now known by the name of Scheib. They derived their name from
the saline flavour and deposition of their waters. These springs were
strongly impregnated with alkaline salts, and with muriate of lime
washed from the rocks which separated the Delta from the Red Sea.
The salt which they produced being greatly valued, they were on that
account regarded as the private property of the kings.

[676] The “not thirsty” route, so called by way of antiphrasis.

[677] See B. v. c. 9.

[678] In c. 26 of the present Book.

[679] Or “narrow necks,” apparently, from the Greek στηναὶ δειραὶ. If
this be the correct reading, they were probably so called from the
narrow strait which ran between them.

[680] An island called Halonnesus has been already mentioned in B. iv.
c. 23. None of these islands appear to have been identified.

[681] See B. xxxvii. c. 32.

[682] This seems to be the meaning, though, literally translated, it
would be, “These were the prefects of kings.”

[683] It obtained this title of πάγχρυσος, or “all golden,” from its
vicinity to the gold mines of Jebel Allaki, or Ollaki, from which the
ancient Egyptians drew their principal supply of that metal, and in the
working of which they employed criminals and prisoners of war.

[684] Or ἐπὶ δειρῆς, “upon the neck.” It was situate on the western
side of the Red Sea, near the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.

[685] Ansart suggests that the modern island of Mehun is here meant.
Gosselin is of opinion that Pliny is in error in mentioning two islands
in the Red Sea as producing the topaz.

[686] Called Theron, as well as Epitheras. It was an emporium on the
coast of the Red Sea for the trade with India and Arabia. It was
chiefly remarkable for its position in mathematical geography, as, the
sun having been observed to be directly over it forty-five days before
and after the summer solstice, the place was taken as one of the points
for determining the length of a degree of a great circle on the earth’s

[687] From the Greek ἐπὶ θήρας, “for hunting.”

[688] In B. ii. c. 75.

[689] In the same Chapter.

[690] So called from Azania, the adjoining coast of Africa, now known
as that of Ajan. It was inhabited by a race of Æthiopians, who were
engaged in catching and taming elephants, and supplying the markets of
the Red Sea coast with hides and ivory.

[691] Now called Seyrman, according to Gosselin.

[692] Its name was Adule, being the chief haven of the Adulitæ, of
mixed origin, in the Troglodytic region, situate on a bay of the Red
Sea, called Aduliticus Sinus. It is generally supposed that the modern
Thulla or Zulla, still pronounced Azoole, occupies its site, being
situate in lat. 15° 35′ N. Ruins are said to exist there. D’Anville,
however, in his map of the Red Sea, places Adule at Arkeeko, on the
same coast, and considerably to the north of Thulla. According to
Cosmas, Adule was about two miles in the interior.

[693] Pliny gives a further description of this ape in B. viii. c. 21.,
and B. x. c. 72. They were much valued by the Roman ladies for pets,
and very high prices were given for them.

[694] Now called Dahal-Alley, according to Gosselin.

[695] Hardouin, from Strabo, suggests that the reading ought to be

[696] The “False Gates.”

[697] The “Gates.”

[698] D’Anville and Gosselin think that this is the island known as the
French Island.

[699] Ansart thinks that this promontory is that known as Cape de Meta,
and that the port is at the mouth of the little river called Soul or

[700] In his Æthiopian expedition. According to Strabo, he had altars
and pillars erected there to record it.

[701] Under the impression entertained by the ancients, that the
southern progress of the coast of Africa stopped short here, and that
it began at this point to trend away gradually to the north-west.

[702] Coro. Salmasius seems with justice, notwithstanding the censures
of Hardouin, to have found considerable difficulty in this passage. If
it is Pliny’s meaning that by sea round the south of the Promontory
of Mossylum there is a passage to the extreme north-western point of
Africa, it is pretty clear that it is not by the aid of a north-west
wind that it could be reached. “Euro,” “with a south-east wind,” has
been very properly suggested.

[703] By this name he means the Æthiopian Troglodytæ. Of course it
would be absurd to attempt any identification of the places here named,
as they must clearly have existed only in the imagination of the
African geographer.

[704] The supposed commencement of the Atlantic, to the west of the
Promontory of Mossylum.

[705] From the Greek ἀσκὸς, a “bladder,” or “inflated skin.” It is not
improbable that the story as to their mode of navigation is derived
only from the fancied origin of their name.

[706] Apparently meaning in the Greek the “jackal-hunters,” θηροθῶες.
For an account of this animal, see B. viii. c. 52, and B. xv. c. 95.

[707] Heliopolis, described in B. v. c. 4.

[708] Considering it as part of Asia.

[709] Conformably with the usage of modern geographers, and, one would
almost think, with that of common sense.

[710] Of the river Nile.

[711] As to Syene and the Catadupi, see B. v. c. 10.

[712] This place was also called in later times Contrapselcis. It was
situate in the Dodecaschœnus, the part of Æthiopia immediately above
Egypt, on an island near the eastern bank of the river, a little above
Pselcis, which stood on the opposite bank. It has been suggested that
this may have been the modern island of Derar. The other places do not
appear to have been identified, and, in fact, in no two of the MSS. do
the names appear to agree.

[713] Or the “Great Wall.”

[714] Meaning, “the people who live in seventy villages.”

[715] Or western side of the Nile, between Syene and Meroë.

[716] Ὕπατον, the “supreme,” or perhaps the “last.”

[717] Dion Cassius also mentions this expedition. From Seneca we learn
that Nero dispatched two centurions to make inquiry into the sources of
the Nile.

[718] Dion Cassius calls him Caius Petronius. He carried on the war in
B.C. 22 against the Æthiopians, who had invaded Egypt under their queen
Candace. He took many of their towns.

[719] Du Bocage is of opinion that this place stood not far from the
present Ibrim.

[720] Supposed by Du Bocage to have stood in the vicinity of the modern

[721] He was clearly a mythical personage, and nothing certain is known
with respect to him. Tombs of Memnon were shown in several places, as
at Ptolemais in Syria, on the Hellespont, on a hill near the mouth of
the river Æsepus, near Palton in Syria, in Æthiopia, and elsewhere.

[722] Her story has been alluded to in the account of Joppa, B. v. c.
34. Cepheus, the father of Andromeda, though possessing the coasts of
Syria, was fabled to have been king of Æthiopia.

[723] See B. v. c. 10, where Meroë is also mentioned.

[724] Or the sacred “sycamore tree.”

[725] Situate beyond the Great Cataract, and on the western bank.

[726] See the Notes to the preceding Chapter, in p. 95.

[727] Or dog’s-headed ape, described in B. viii. c. 80. It is supposed
to be the baboon.

[728] Hesychius says that it was also called Aëria, probably from the
time of its king Ægyptus, who was called Aërius.

[729] “Ubi desiimus.” This appears to be a preferable reading to “ubi
desinit,” adopted by Sillig, and apparently referring to the river
Nile. It is not improbable that our author here alludes, as Hardouin
says, to his words in the preceding Chapter, “Hinc in ora Æthiopiæ,”
&c. See p. 96.

[730] Ansart thinks that the country of this people was the modern
Kordofan. This, however, could not be the case, if the Macrobii,
_opposite_ to them, dwelt on the African side of the river.

[731] Or “long-livers.”

[732] Mentioned again in c. 2 of the next Book.

[733] Who is mentioned again in B. xxxvi. c. 19.

[734] Ptolemy, however, speaks of Esar and Daron as the names of towns
situate on the island of Meroë.

[735] On the eastern side of the Nile, and bearing no reference, as
Hardouin remarks, to the people of modern Nubia.

[736] There is considerable doubt as to the correctness of these names,
as they are differently spelt in the MSS.

[737] Marcus thinks that these mountains are those which lie to the
west of the Nile, in Darfour, and Dar-Sale, or Dizzela, mentioned by
Salt, in his _Travels in Abyssinia_.

[738] From this it would appear that Pliny, with Dalion, supposed that
the Nile ran down to the southern ocean, and then took a turn along the
coast in a westerly direction; the shore being skirted by Syrtes, or
quicksands, similar to those in the north of Africa.

[739] So called from the Greek—“Eaters of wild beasts.”

[740] The “all-eaters.”

[741] Or the “livers on the milk of the dog.”

[742] In c. 8 of the preceding Book.

[743] They were thence called by the Greeks “Acridophagi.” According
to Agatharchides, these people dwelt in what is modern Nubia, where
Burkhardt found the people subsisting on lizards.

[744] Hardouin remarks, that the length is measured from south-east to
south-west; and the breadth from south to north.

[745] The supposed Southern Ocean, which joins the Atlantic on the west.

[746] Or the “Chariot of the gods,” mentioned also in Book ii. c. 110,
and B. v. c. 1. It is supposed to have been some portion of the Atlas
chain; but the subject is involved in the greatest obscurity.

[747] Or the “Western Horn.” It is not known whether this was Cape de
Verde, or Cape Roxo. Ansart thinks that it is the same as Cape Non. It
is mentioned in c. 1 of B. v. as the “promontorium Hesperium.”

[748] See notes to B. v. c. 1, in vol. i. p. 378.

[749] Marcus says that these islands are those called the “Two
Sisters,” situate to the west of the Isle of Socotra, on the coast of
Africa. They are called by Ptolemy, Cocionati.

[750] The position of this island has been much discussed by
geographers, as being intimately connected with the subject of Hanno’s
voyage to the south of Africa. Gosselin, who carries that voyage no
further south than Cape Non, in about 28° north lat., identifies Cerne
with Fedallah, on the coast of Fez, which, however, is probably much
too far to the north. Major Rennell places it as far south as Arguin,
a little to the south of the southern Cape Blanco, in about 20° 5′
North latitude. Heeren, Mannert, and others, adopt the intermediate
portion of Agadir, or Souta Cruz, on the coast of Morocco, just below
Cape Ghir, the termination of the main chain of the Atlas. If we are to
trust to Pliny’s statement, it is pretty clear that nothing certain was
known about it in his day.

[751] The “Pillars.” Marcus thinks that these were some small islands
near the Isle of Socotra.

[752] Hardouin says that this is not the Atlantis rendered so famous
by Plato, whose story is distantly referred to in B. ii. c. 92 of this
work. It is difficult to say whether the Atlantis of Plato had any
existence at all, except in the imagination.

[753] Medusa and her sisters, the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. The
identity of their supposed islands seems not to have been ascertained.
For the poetical aspect of their story, see Ovid’s Met., B. iv.

[754] It is not improbable that these were the skins of a species of
uran-outang, or large monkey.

[755] The Purpurariæ, or “Purple Islands,” probably the Madeira group.

[756] Or Islands of the Blessed—the modern Canaries.

[757] Supposed to be the modern island of Fuerteventura.

[758] Supposed to be that now called Ferro.

[759] Probably the modern Gomera. In B. iv. c. 36, Pliny mentions them
as six in number, there being actually seven.

[760] He does not appear on this occasion to reckon those already
mentioned as belonging to the group of the Fortunatæ Insulæ.

[761] The present Isle of Teneriffe.

[762] Supposed to be that now called Gran Canaria.

[763] The smoothness of its surface.

[764] It is impossible to see clearly what he means. Littré says that
it has been explained by some to mean, that from the Purpurariæ,
or Madeira Islands, it is a course of 250 miles to the west to the
Fortunatæ or Canary Islands; but that to return from the Fortunatæ
to the Purpurariæ, required a more circuitous route in an easterly

[765] Or Pluvialia, the Rainy Island, previously mentioned.

[766] Salmasius thinks that the sugar-cane is here alluded to. Hardouin
says that in Ferro there still grows a tree of this nature, known as
the “holy tree.”

[767] Or the Lesser Junonia; supposed to be the same as the modern

[768] Or “Snow Island,” the same as that previously called Invallis,
the modern Teneriffe, with its snow-capped peak.

[769] So called from its canine inhabitants.

[770] As to the silurus, see B. ix. c. 17.

[771] Hardouin takes this to mean, both as to the continent, with the
places there situate, and the seas, with the islands there found;
the continent being the interior, and the seas the exterior part. It
is much more likely, however, that his description of the _interior_
of the earth is that given in the 2nd Book, while the account of the
exterior is set forth in the geographical notices contained in the 3rd,
4th, 5th, and 6th.

[772] The Straits of Gades or Cadiz.

[773] The Straits of Gades.

[774] Littré has the following remark: “Is it possible that Pliny can
have imagined that the extent of a surface could be ascertained by
adding the length to the breadth?” It is just possible that such may
not have been his meaning; but it seems quite impossible to divine what
it was.

[775] He means to say that the interior is not inhabited beyond a
distance of 250 miles from the sea-coast.

[776] See B. v. c. 9.

[777] He is probably speaking only of that part of Asia which included
Egypt, on the eastern side of the river Nile, according to ancient
geography. His mode, however, of reckoning the breadth of Asia, _i. e._
from south to north, is singular. See p. 104.

[778] On a rough calculation, these aliquot parts in all would make
42643/42900 parts of the unit. It is not improbable that the figures
given above as the dimensions are incorrect, as they do not agree with
the fractional results here given by Pliny.

[779] B. iv. c. 26.

[780] In p. 111.

[781] See end of B. iii.

[782] See end of B. ii.

[783] See end of B. iii.

[784] See end of B. ii.

[785] See end of B. iii.

[786] See end of B. iii.

[787] See end of B. iii.

[788] See end of B. v.

[789] See end of B. ii.

[790] See end of B. v.

[791] See end of B. iii.

[792] See end of B. ii.

[793] See end of B. iii.

[794] The famous Roman historian, a native of Padua. He died at his
native town, in the year A.D. 17, aged 76. Of his Annals, composed in
142, only 35 Books have come down to us.

[795] L. Annæus Seneca, the Roman philosopher and millionnaire. He was
put to death by Nero.

[796] P. Nigidius Figulus, a Roman senator, and Pythagorean
philosopher, skilled in astrology and other sciences. He was so
celebrated for his knowledge, that Aulus Gellius pronounces him, next
to Varro, the most learned of the Romans. He was an active partisan of
Pompey, and was compelled by Cæsar to live at a distance from Rome. He
died in exile, B.C. 44. There is a letter of consolation addressed to
him by Cicero in his Epistles “ad Familiares,” which contains a warm
tribute to his worth and learning.

[797] See end of B. v.

[798] For Hecatæus of Miletus, see end of B. iv. Hecatæus of Abdera
was a contemporary of Alexander the Great and Ptolemy Lagides. He is
thought to have accompanied the former in his Asiatic expedition as
far as Syria. He was a pupil of the sceptic Pyrrho, and is called a
philosopher, critic, and grammarian. He was the author of a History of
Egypt, a work on the Hyperborei, and a History of the Jews.

[799] See end of B. iv.

[800] See end of B. iv.

[801] For Eudoxus of Cnidos, see end of B. ii. Eudoxus of Cyzicus
was a geographer and a native of Egypt, who was employed by Ptolemy
Euergetes and his wife Cleopatra in voyages to India. He made attempts
to circumnavigate Africa by sailing to the south, but without success.
He is supposed to have lived about B.C. 130. See B. ii. c. 67 of the
present work.

[802] See end of B. ii.

[803] See end of B. v.

[804] See end of B. iv.

[805] He commanded the fleets of Ptolemy Philadelphia, and of Seleucus
Nicator, by whose orders he paid a visit to the coasts of India. Strabo
speaks of his account of India as the best guide to the geography of
that country.

[806] A native of Miletus—see the tenth Chapter of this Book. He
appears to have written a geographical work on Asia, from which Pliny
derived considerable assistance.

[807] Son of Deinon, the historian; he accompanied Alexander in his
Asiatic expedition, and wrote a history of it. Quintus Curtius censures
him for his inaccuracy. Cicero, Quintilian, and Longinus, also speak in
slighting terms of his performance.

[808] See end of B. ii.

[809] He alludes to the letters of that monarch, and the journals
which were kept on the occasion of his expeditions. In the middle ages
several forged works were current under his name.

[810] See end of B. iv.

[811] See end of B. ii.

[812] See end of B. v.

[813] See end of B. iv.

[814] See end of B. ii.

[815] See end of B. iv.

[816] See end of B. iv.

[817] See end of B. iv.

[818] See end of B. iv.

[819] See end of B. iv.

[820] See end of B. iii.

[821] See end of B. ii.

[822] A Greek writer of uncertain date, who wrote, as Pliny tells us,
(c. 20 of the present Book), a work on the people called Attaci or
Attacori. He also wrote another, describing a voyage, commenced at
Memphis in Egypt.

[823] See end of B. iii.

[824] See end of B. ii.

[825] See end of B. ii.

[826] The admiral of Alexander, who sailed down the river Indus, and
up the Persian Gulf. It is not known when or where he died. After the
death of Alexander, he supported the cause of Antigonus. He left a
history or journal of his famous voyage.

[827] See end of B. v.

[828] Mentioned by Pliny in c. 21. He measured the distances of the
marches of Alexander the Great, and wrote a book on the subject.

[829] See end of B. v.

[830] A native of Soli. He is mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, as
the author of a work on Æthiopia, of which some few fragments
are preserved. Varro and Pliny mention him, also, as a writer on

[831] A writer on geography and botany, again mentioned by Pliny in
B. xx. c. 73. He is supposed to have lived in the first century after
Christ. See also c. 35.

[832] Said to have been a native of Meroë, and to have written a
History of Æthiopia; nothing else seems to be known of him.

[833] The author of a work on India, of which the second Book is quoted
by Athenæus. From what Pliny says, in c. 35, he seems to have also
written on Æthiopia. He is mentioned by Agatharchides as one of the
writers on the East: but nothing more seems to be known of him.

[834] See end of B. iii.

[835] We here enter upon the third division of Pliny’s Natural History,
which treats of Zoology, from the 7th to the 11th inclusive. Cuvier has
illustrated this part by many valuable notes, which originally appeared
in Lemaire’s _Bibliotheque Classique_, 1827, and were afterwards
incorporated, with some additions, by Ajasson, in his translation of
Pliny, published in 1829; Ajasson is the editor of this portion of
Pliny’s Natural History, in Lemaire’s Edition.—B.

[836] This remark refers to the five preceding books, in which these
subjects have been treated in detail.—B.

[837] We have a similar remark in Cicero, De. Nat. Deor, ii. 47.—B.

[838] Ajasson remarks, that trees have two barks, an outer, and an
inner and thinner one; but seems to think that by the word “gemino”
here, Pliny only means that the bark of trees is sometimes double its
ordinary thickness.

[839] It seems to have been the custom among the ancients to place the
newborn child upon the ground immediately after its birth.

[840] Pliny appears to have followed Lucretius in this gloomy view of
the commencement of human existence. See B. v. l. 223, _et seq._

[841] This term of forty days is mentioned by Aristotle, in his Natural
History, as also by some modern physiologists.—B.

[842] We may hence conclude, that the practice of swathing young
infants in tight bandages prevailed at Rome, in the time of Pliny, as
it still does in France, and many parts of the continent; although
it has, for some years, been generally discontinued in this country.
Buffon warmly condemned this injurious system, eighty years ago, but
without effect.—B.

[843] “Feliciter natus;” this appears so inconsistent with what
is stated in the text, that it has been proposed to alter it into
_infeliciter_, although against the authority of all the MSS.; but it
may be supposed, that Pliny, as is not unusual with him, employs the
term ironically.—B.

[844] This reminds us of the terms of the riddle proposed to Œdipus
by the Sphinx: “What being is that, which, with four feet, has two
feet and three feet, and only one voice; but its feet vary, and where
it has most it is weakest?” to which he answered, That it is man, who
is a quadruped (going on feet and hands) in childhood, two-footed in
manhood, and moving with the aid of a staff in old age.

[845] He alludes to the gradual induration of the bones of the head
which takes place in the young of the human species, and imparts
strength to it. Aristotle, in his Hist. Anim., states the general
opinion of the ancients, that this takes place with the young of no
other class of animated beings.

[846] There is little doubt that new forms and features of disease are
continually making their appearance among mankind, and even the same
peoples, and have been from the earliest period; it was so at Rome,
in the days of the Republic and of the Emperors. It is not improbable
that these new forms of disease depend greatly upon changes in the
temperature and diet. The plagues of 1348, 1666, and the Asiatic
cholera of the present day, are not improbably various features of what
may be radically the same disease. At the first period the beverage of
the English was beer, or rather sweet-wort, as the hop does not appear
to have been used till a later period. At the present day, tea and
coffee, supported by ardent spirits, form the almost universal beverage.

[847] Pliny forgets, however, that infants do _not_ require to be
taught how to suck.

[848] According to Cicero, this opinion was more particularly expressed
by Silenus and Euripides. Seneca also, in his Consolation to Marcia,
expresses a very similar opinion. It was a very common saying, that
“Those whom the gods love, die young.” It will be observed that Pliny
here uses the significant word “aboleri,” implying utter annihilation
after death. It will be seen towards the end of this Book, that he
laughed to scorn the notion of the immortality of the soul.

[849] By the use of the word “luctus” he may probably mean “tears;”
but there is little doubt that all animals have their full share of
sorrows, brought upon them either by the tyranny and cruelty of man, or
their own unrestrained passions.

[850] This is said hyperbolically by Pliny. The brutes of the field
have as strong a love of life as man, although they may not be in fear
of death, not knowing what it is. That they know what pain is, is
evident from their instinctive attempts to avoid it.

[851] Under this name he evidently intends to include all systems of
religion, which he held in equal contempt.

[852] Ajasson seems to think that he alludes to man’s craving desire
for posthumous fame; but it is pretty clear that he has in view the
then prevalent notions of the life of the soul after the death of the

[853] Pascal has a similar thought; he says that “Man is a reed, and
the weakest reed of nature.” The machinery of his body is minute
and complex in the extreme, but it can hardly be said that his life
is exposed to as many dangers dependent on the volition of, or on
accidents arising from, other animated beings, as that of minute

[854] Ajasson refers to various classical authors for a similar
statement. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that it is contrary to
many well-known facts.—B. The cravings of hunger and of the sexual
appetite, are quite sufficient to preclude the possibility of such a
happy state of things among the brutes as Pliny here describes.

[855] It was this feeling that prompted the common saying among the
ancients, “Homo homini lupus”—“Man to man is a wolf;” and most true it
is, that

  “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.”

[856] He alludes to the description already given in his geographical
Books, of man taken in the aggregate, and grouped into nations.

[857] These are less known, as being less easy of access to travellers,
and it is accordingly in connection with these, that we always meet
with the most wonderful tales.—B.

[858] This feeling is well expressed in the old and hackneyed adage,
“Omne ignotum pro mirifico”—“Everything that is unknown is taken for

[859] Cuvier remarks, that Pliny generally employs this kind of
oratorical language when he is entering upon a part of his work in
which he betrays a peculiar degree of credulity, and a total want of
correct judgment on physical topics.—B.

[860] Being debarred from holding converse, the first great tie of

[861] Ajasson does not hesitate to style this remark, “ridiculum sane;”
as every one knows that the Greeks were more noted for their lively
imagination, than for the correctness of their observations.—B. Surely
Ajasson must have forgotten the existence of such men as Aristotle and

[862] Pliny has previously denominated the Scythians “Anthropophagi;”
and in B. iv. c. 26, and B. vi. c. 20, he employs the word as the
proper name of one of the Scythian tribes.—B.

[863] See B. iii. c. 9.

[864] See B. xxxvi. c. 5.

[865] There can be no doubt, that cannibalism has existed at all
times, and that it now exists in some of the Asiatic and Polynesian
islands; but we must differ from Pliny in his opinion respecting the
near connection between human sacrifices and cannibalism; the first
was strictly a religious rite, the other was the result of very
different causes; perhaps, in some cases, the want of food; but, in
most instances, a much less pardonable motive.—B. Still, however, if
nations go so far as to sacrifice human beings, there is an equal
chance that a religious impulse may prompt them to taste the flesh; and
when once this has been done, there is no telling how soon it may be
repeated, and that too for the gratification of the palate. According
to Macrobius, human sacrifices were offered at Rome, down to the time
of Brutus, who, on the establishment of the Republic, abolished them.
We read, however, in other authorities, that in 116, B.C., two Gauls,
a male and a female, were sacrificed by the priests in one of the
streets of Rome, shortly after which such practices were forbidden by
the senate, except in those cases in which they had been ordered by
the Sibylline books. Still we read, in the time of Augustus, of one
hundred knights being sacrificed by his orders, at Perusia, and of
a similar immolation in the time of the emperor Aurelian, A.D. 270.
These, however, were all exceptional cases, and do not imply a custom
of offering human sacrifices.

[866] Pliny, in describing the Riphæan mountains, B. iv. c. 26, calls
them “gelida Aquilonis conceptacula,” “the cold asylum of the northern
blasts;” but we do not find the cavern mentioned in this or any other
passage. The name here employed has been supposed to be derived from
the Greek words, γης κλειθρον, signifying the limit or boundary of the
earth.—B. “Specuque ejus dicto,” most probably means “the place called
its cave,” and not the “cave which I have described,” as Dr. B. seems
to have thought.

[867] They are merely enumerated among other tribes of Scythians,
inhabiting the country beyond the Palus Mæotis. See B. iv. c. 26, and
B. vi. c. 19.—B.

[868] The figures of the Gryphons or Griffins are found not uncommonly
on the friezes and walls at Pompeii. In the East, where there were no
safe places of deposit for money, it was the custom to bury it in the
earth; hence, for the purpose of scaring depredators, the story was
carefully circulated that hidden treasures were guarded by serpents and
dragons. There can be little doubt that these stories, on arriving in
the western world, combined with the knowledge of the existence of gold
in the Uralian chain and other mountains of the East, gave rise to the
stories of the Griffins and the Arimaspi. It has been suggested that
the Arimaspi were no other than the modern Tsheremis, who dwelt on the
left bank of the Middle Volga, in the governments of Kasan, Simbirsk,
and Saratov, not far from the gold districts of the Uralian range.

[869] It has been conjectured, that these fabulous tales of the combats
of the Arimaspi with the Griffins, were invented by the neighbouring
tribes of the Issedonæ or Essedones, who were anxious to throw a
mystery over the origin of the gold, that they might preserve the
traffic in their own hands. The Altai Mountains, in the north of Asia,
contain many gold mines, which are still worked, as well as traces of
former workings. The representation of an animal, somewhat similar to
the Griffin, has been found among the sculptures of Persepolis, and
is conceived to have had some allegorical allusion to the religion of
the ancient inhabitants of the place. Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 27,
gives an account of the Griffin, and its contests with the Indians, for
the gold, similar to that here given.—B.

[870] We have an account of the Arimaspi, and of Aristeas, in
Herodotus, B. iv. cc. 13, 15, and 27. Most of the wonderful tales
related in this Chapter may be found in Aulus Gellius, B. ix. c. 4. We
have an account, also, of the Arimaspi in Solinus, very nearly in the
words of Pliny. We have some valuable remarks by Cuvier, on the account
given by Pliny of the Arimaspi and the Griffins, and on the source from
which it appears to have originated, in Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 16, and
Ajasson, vol. vi. pp. 164, 165.—B.

[871] The modern Himalaya range.

[872] Aulus Gellius relates this, among other wonderful tales, which
are contained in his Chapter “On the Miraculous Wonders of Barbarous
Nations,” B. ix. c. 4. He cites, among his authorities, Aristeas and
Isigonus, whom he designates as “writers of no mean authority.”—B.

[873] In B. iv. c. 26, and B. vi. c. 29.

[874] One of the pleasures promised to the Gothic warriors, in the
paradise of Odin, was to drink out of the skulls of their enemies.—B.

[875] The variety of the human species to which the term Albino has
been applied, from the whiteness of their hair and skin, is supposed by
Cuvier to be more frequently found in the close valleys of mountainous
districts, and may therefore have been very often met with in Albania,
which is composed of valleys in the Caucasian range.—B.

[876] “Tertio die;” literally, “on the third day.” In reckoning the
time between two periods, the Romans included both of those periods in
the computation, whereas we include but one of them.

[877] In countries where serpents abound, there have been, at all
times, jugglers, who profess to have a supernatural power, by which
they are rendered insensible to the poison of these animals. This is
the case with the Egyptians, and some of the oriental nations. They
remove the poison-fang from the serpent, and in this way render it
perfectly harmless. Some of the feats which were performed by the
magicians in the court of Pharaoh, seem still to be practised in Egypt;
by pressing upon the upper part of the spine, the animal is rendered
rigid, while on removing the pressure, the animal is restored to its
original state. These jugglers were also in the habit, much to the
surprise of the ignorant spectators, of sucking the poison from the
wounds produced by the bite of the serpent, which they accompanied
by various ceremonies and incantations: but it is a well-known fact,
that this may be done with perfect safety, in reference to poisons of
all kinds, provided there be no breach in the cuticle of the mouth or

[878] See B. xxviii. c. 7. The best account, probably, of the Psylli,
is that found in Lucan’s Pharsalia, B. ix. c. 890, _et seq._

[879] This custom is referred to by Lucan, in his account of the
Psylli, B. ix. l. 890, _et seq._; and by Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. i. c.
57, and B. xvi. c. 27, 28.—B.

[880] Herodotus, B. iv. c. 173, gives a somewhat different account;
see also Aulus Gellius, B. xvi. c. 11, who follows the narrative of
Herodotus. Gellius also gives an account of the Marsi, which is similar
to that of Pliny.—B.

[881] It is scarcely necessary to remark, that this alleged effect of
the human saliva is without foundation. The saliva of a person who has
fasted for some time, is still, in this country, a popular remedy for
ophthalmia. It contains a greater proportion of saline matter than
saliva under ordinary circumstances.—B.

[882] The Nasamones have been enumerated among the inhabitants of
the northern part of Africa, near the Greater Syrtis, v. 5. See also
Herodotus, B. ii. c. 32, and B. vi. c. 172 and 190.—B.

[883] Certain individuals are occasionally met with, whose generative
organs exhibit an unusual formation, so as to give the idea of their
uniting both sexes in the same person; and there are instances, where
parts peculiar to both sexes actually appear to exist, but always in
an imperfect or rudimentary state; all beyond this is undoubtedly
fabulous. See _Todd’s Cyclop. of Anat._ _in loco_.—B.

[884] There are, at the present day, individuals among the negroes,
who profess to have the power of enchantment, which, however, appears
to consist in their possessing the knowledge of various poisons, which
they not unfrequently administer, and by these means obtain great
influence over the minds of the people.—B.

[885] This power of the eye is referred to by Virgil, Ecl. iii. l. 103:

  “What eye is it that has fascinated my tender lambs?”

The evil eye is still an article of belief in Egypt and in some parts
of the East. Witchcraft, in various forms, was greatly credited in the
most enlightened parts of Europe, not more than two centuries ago, and
is not yet excluded from the vulgar creed.—B.

[886] It is well known that nothing of this kind was ever observed in
any human eye, nor have we any method of accounting for the origin of
this singular notion.—B. Brand, in his Popular Antiquities, says that
he has no doubt whatever that the common expression “no one can say
‘black is my eye’” [or rather “black is the white of my eye”]—meaning
that no one can justly speak ill of me, was derived from the notion
of the _enchanting_, or _bewitching_, eye. He quotes from Reginald
Scott’s “Discovery of Witchcraft:” “Many writers agree with Virgil
and Theocritus in the effect of bewitching eyes, affirming ‘that in
Scythia there are women called the Bythiæ, having two balls, or rather
_blacks_, in the apples of their eyes.’ These, forsooth, with their
angry looks, do bewitch and hurt, not only young lambs, but young
children.” See Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. iii. pp. 44-46.
See also Ennemoser’s Hist. of Magic, vol. ii. pp. 160, 161. _Bohn’s

[887] Some of the commentators have supposed, that Pliny, or
Phylarchus, from whom he borrows, was misled by the ambiguity of the
Greek term ἵππος, which signifies either a horse, or a tremulous motion
of the eye. But, even admitting this to be the case, the wonder is
scarcely diminished; for we have the double pupil in one eye, while
this supposed tremulous motion is confined to the other.—B.

[888] In all ages, it has been a prevalent superstition, that those
endowed with magical qualities will not sink in water, encouraged, no
doubt, by the cunning of those who might wish to make the charge a
means of wreaking their vengeance. If they sank, they were to be deemed
innocent, but were drowned; if, on the other hand they floated, they
were deemed guilty, and handed over to the strong arm of the law. In
reference to this usage, Brand says (“Popular Antiquities,” vol. iii.),
“Swimming a witch was another kind of popular ordeal. By this method
she was handled not less indecently than cruelly: for she was stripped
naked and cross bound, the right thumb to the left toe, and the left
thumb to the right toe. In this state she was cast into a pond or
river, in which, if guilty, it was thought impossible for her to sink.”

[889] This is probably the meaning of the word “tabem” here; though it
may possibly signify “rottenness,” or “putrefaction.”

[890] This remark is not contained in any of the works of Cicero now

[891] Cuvier observes, that these people probably exercise some
deception, analogous to that practised by a Spaniard, who exhibited
himself in Paris, and professed to be incombustible, but who,
eventually, was the dupe of his own quackery, and paid the penalty with
his life. It would appear, that the Hirpi were not confined to one
district, but dispersed over different parts of Italy. See the note of
Heyne, on the prayer of Aruns, Æn. B. xi. l. 785, _et seq._—B.

[892] Plutarch relates these supposed facts in his life of Pyrrhus;
this statement may be considered analogous to what has been recorded
in modern times, respecting the efficacy of the royal touch in curing
certain diseases, especially what has been termed the “King’s evil.”—B.

[893] Horace, Odes, B. i. O. 22, characterises the Hydaspes, a river of
India, by the title of “fabulosus.”—B.

[894] See B. viii. c. 40.

[895] Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. xvi. c. 11, and B. xvii. c. 26, refers to
the large size of many of the animals of India; and in B. iv. c. 19, he
especially describes the size and fierceness of the Indian dog.—B.

[896] The _Ficus religiosa_ of Linnæus, the branches of which have the
property of taking root when they are bent down to the ground, and of
forming new stems, which again produce other branches, that may be
bent down in the same way, so as to cover an indefinite space.—B. More
popularly known as the “banyan tree.” See B. xii. c. 11.

[897] The _bambos arundinacea_, or bamboo cane, is a reed or plant
of the gramineous kind, which frequently grows to the height of the
tallest trees. The stem is hollow, and the parts of it between the
joints are used by the natives to form their canoes. We have an account
of them in Herodotus, B. iii. c. 98.—B. See also B. xvi. c. 65 of this

[898] It does not appear that the stature of the Indians exceeds that
of the inhabitants of the temperate zones.—B.

[899] Some practices very similar to these exist in certain parts of
India, by the Fakirs, a peculiar class of devotees, and are regarded
either in the light of religious ceremonies, or of modes of performing

[900] Henderson states, in his “Biblical Researches,” that there is a
race of people found in the Caucasus, and known as the Ingusch, and
that it is their belief that a race of dæmons exists, which assume the
appearance of armed men, and have the feet inverted.

[901] Cuvier remarks, that these wonderful tales are generally related
of the inhabitants of mountainous districts, as being less known and
less accessible to travellers.—B.

[902] This account probably originated in a species of monkey, with a
projecting muzzle, called, from this circumstance, “cynocephalus,” or
the “Dog’s head.” This account of the cynocephali is repeated by Aulus
Gellius, B. ix. c. 4.—B. The cynocephalus is generally considered to be
the baboon.

[903] So called, ἀπὸ τοῦ μονοῦ κώλου, “from having but one leg.” It
is not improbable that these stories were first told of these nations
from the resemblance of their names to the Greek words having these

[904] We have no method of explaining the origin of this story. It is
to be regretted, that Pliny should have adopted so many ridiculous
fables, on the doubtful authority of Ctesias.—B.

[905] From Σκιαποῦς, “making a shadow with his foot.”—B.

[906] Or “dwellers in caves.”

[907] It has been conjectured, that this account may have originated in
the dwarfish stature and short necks of the northern tribes, according
to the usual exaggerated statements of the ancient travellers. Aulus
Gellius also repeats this fable, B. ix. c. 4.—B.

[908] These are the great apes, which are found in some of the Oriental
islands; this name was given them from their salacious disposition,
which, it would seem, they have manifested in reference to even the
human species. We have an account of the Satyrs in Ælian, Hist. Anim.
B. xvi. c. 21.—B.

[909] We may suppose that this description is taken from some incorrect
account of a large kind of ape; but it seems impossible to refer it to
any particular species.—B.

[910] “Sparrow,” or “ostrich-footed;” it does not appear that the
commentators have attempted to explain this passage; may we not
conjecture that it refers to the Chinese? With respect to the word
employed, it has been generally derived from στροῦθος, “a sparrow;”
Dalechamps, however, as it would appear, with much plausibility,
thinks that it is derived from “struthio,” the ostrich.—B. It is not
improbable, however, that these were so called, from the resemblance of
their gait to that of a sparrow, as they would be unable to step out,
and be obliged to jump from place to place.

[911] Or “wandering tribes.”

[912] On this subject see B. vi. c. 20. It is clear that either silk or
cotton is here alluded to.

[913] In Eastern stories we find not uncommonly, wonderful effects
attributed to the smell of the apple. See the Arabian Nights, _passim_.

[914] Cuvier remarks, that these accounts of the Struthopodes, the
Scyritæ, and the Atomi, are not capable of any explanation, being mere

[915] From τρεῖς, “three,” and σπιθαμαὶ, “spans,” the span being about
nine inches English.

[916] He alludes to the wars between the Cranes and the Pygmies in the
Iliad, B. iii. l. 3-6. Their story is also referred to by Ovid and

[917] On the subject of the Pygmies, Cuvier remarks, “I am not
surprised at finding the Pygmies in the works of Homer; but to find
them in Pliny, I am surprised, indeed.”—B.

[918] Or the “long livers,” from the Greek μακρὸς, “long,” and βίος,

[919] Of course, there is no truth in this statement; there are,
no doubt, various circumstances in these countries favourable to
longevity; but these are more than counter-balanced by certain
peculiarities in their mode of life, and by the fatal epidemics to
which they are occasionally subject.—B.

[920] Pliny, in B. xxix. c. 38, speaks of the use of vipers’
flesh as an article of diet, and gives some minute directions for
its preparation. It was supposed to be peculiarly nutritive and
restorative, and it has been prescribed for the same purpose by modern
physicians. There is a medal in existence, probably struck by the
Emperor Commodus, in order to commemorate the benefit which he was
supposed to have derived from the use of the flesh of vipers.—B.

[921] See B. ii. c. 75.

[922] The cubitus and the palmus of the Romans, estimated,
respectively, at about one foot and-a-half and three inches; this would
make the height of these people eight feet.—B.

[923] From the Greek Γυμνητὴς, “one who takes much exercise of the

[924] There appears to be no foundation for this statement.—B.

[925] See B. vi. c. 35.

[926] In many of the warmer climates, where the locusts are of large
size and in great abundance, they are occasionally used as food; but we
have no reason to believe that they constitute the sole, or even the
principal article of the food of any tribe or people.—B.

[927] In warm climates, the females arrive at maturity considerably
earlier than in the more temperate regions, but the age here mentioned
is an exaggeration. The female also, in such climates, ceases to bear
at an earlier age, probably before the fortieth year.—B.

[928] This is the Island of Ceylon, of which Pliny has given an account
in the last Book, c. 24.

[929] Such unnatural unions may have taken place occasionally, but
nothing has ever been produced from them.—B.

[930] This is a still greater exaggeration than that mentioned above,
in Note 95.—B.

[931] Cuvier remarks that this story must have been originally told
with reference to the race of large apes. He says, however, that some
men have the “os coccygis” greatly prolonged, and mentions a painter
of celebrity in Paris who had this malformation. “But from this to an
actual tail,” says he, “the distance is very great.” In these times
we have the (perhaps doubtful) account by M. de Couret, of the Niam
Niams, a race in Abyssinia or Nubia, with tails at least two inches in
length. Few will fail to recollect Lord Monboddo’s theory, that mankind
originally had tails, but wore them off in lapse of time by climbing up
the trees.

[932] As far as there is any truth in this account, it must refer to
certain kinds of apes: but with respect to the size of the ears, it is,
of course, greatly exaggerated.—B.

[933] Or Cophes, see B. vi. c. 25.

[934] There are many tribes who live on the sea-coast, and who inhabit
a barren country, with a bad climate, whose diet is almost confined to
fish, and who feed their cattle on it. This is the case in some parts
of Iceland, and even, to a certain extent, among the people of the

[935] Or dog’s-headed ape, the baboon: see B. vi. c. 35, and Note [902],
p. 130.

[936] Perhaps these appearances may be referred to effects of what
is termed “mirage,” a phenomenon which is described by travellers in
different parts of the torrid zone.—B. And in the temperate regions as
well; Switzerland and the Hartz mountains, for instance.

[937] Columella, B. viii. c. 8, speaks of the fecundity of the
Egyptians, but without ascribing any particular cause for it.—B.

[938] “Quinos.” The old reading was “binos,” “two” children only; but
Aristotle, in reference, no doubt, to the same circumstance, says,
Hist. Anim. B. vii., “One woman, at four births, gave birth to twenty
children. For she brought forth five at a time, and the greater part of
them were reared.”

[939] It was a very general opinion, that the waters of the Nile
possess the property of promoting fecundity. Seneca mentions it as an
acknowledged fact, Nat. Quæst. B. iii. c. 25.—B.

[940] There are well-authenticated accounts of four children having
been produced at one birth; but, beyond this, we have no statements in
which we can place much confidence. In a note by Dalechamps, we have
an example of the credulity of the authors who have treated on this
topic, as well modern as ancient.—B. In the recent volumes, however, of
“Notes and Queries,” we find some apparently well-authenticated cases
of women being delivered of five children at a birth. Nathaniel Wanley,
in his “Wonders of the Little World,” also gives some apparently
authentic instances of as many as five children being born at a birth:
but we must be excused giving credit to the story, quoted by him, of
Matilda or Margaret, Countess of Henneberg, who was said to have been
delivered, on the Friday before Palm-Sunday, in 1276, “of 365 children,
half sons and half daughters, with the exception of one, which was
an hermaphrodite, all complete and well-fashioned, of the bigness of
chickens new hatched, saith Camerarius.”

[941] From Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes or Mercury, and Aphrodite
or Venus. According to the poetic story as told by Ovid, Met. B. iv.,
he was united in one body, which bore the characteristics of both
sexes, with the nymph Salmacis.

[942] Two cases of this description are mentioned by Livy, B. xxvii.
c. 37, and B. xxxi. c. 12. In this latter passage, Livy enumerates
the following prodigious births; among the Sabines, two children of
doubtful sex; at Frusino, a lamb with a sow’s head; at Sinuessa, a pig
with a human head; and among the Lucani, a foal with five feet. He
informs us that the hermaphrodites were thrown into the sea.—B.

[943] Cuvier says, “From time to time we do see persons of this nature;
and it is not long ago that such a being was exhibited in Paris, though
certainly not of a nature to have been ‘in deliciis,’ at the present

[944] Pliny gives further particulars of this theatre in B. xxxvi. c.
24. It was the first stone theatre erected at Rome, and was built B.C.
55, and contained 40,000 spectators.

[945] Solinus, the ape of Pliny, absolutely takes the meaning of this
passage to be, that Eutychis herself was exhibited on the stage by the
orders of Pompey.

[946] For Tralles, in Asia Minor, see B. v. c. 29.

[947] Cuvier speaks of the wife of a porter at the Jardin du Roi, at
Paris, who, to his knowledge, had been the mother of thirty children.

[948] It seems doubtful whether Pliny means that the statue of Alcippe
was also to be seen in the Theatre of Pompey. Tatianus tells the same
story of one Glaucippe, and it is not improbable that under that name
he refers to the same person. He says that a bronze statue of her was
made by Niceretus, the Athenian. Hardouin suggests that this is the
story alluded to by Livy, B. xxvii., and by Valerius Maximus, B. i. c.
6, in their statement that, among other portents, a boy was born with
the head of an elephant.

[949] Cuvier remarks, that it is not an uncommon circumstance, both
in man and in other animals, for an atrophy of the maxillary bones to
cause the nose to sink down, and produce some resemblance to the trunk
of an elephant. To this circumstance, he refers the tales met with, of
women, sows, and dogs having produced elephants; see also Val. Maximus,
B. vi. c. 5.—B.

[950] As to this war, see B. ii. c. 85. The portents observed on this
occasion were collected by the historian Sisenna, as we learn from
Cicero, De Divin. B. ii.

[951] We find that this incredible tale is not only told by Julius
Obsequens, but, according to Dalechamps, by Cornelius Gemma, a
comparatively modern writer.—B.

[952] Cuvier remarks, that, in certain quadrupeds, individuals are
occasionally born with the upper jaw preternaturally small, so much
so, that the lower jaw, by its projection, bears some resemblance to
a human chin. He had seen a case of this description at Geneva, in a
calf, supposed, even by persons of information, to be the produce of an
unnatural connection of a cow with a Savoyard shepherd. This subject is
treated very philosophically by Lucretius, B. v. c. 876, _et seq._ With
respect to the supposed Hippocentaur of Thessaly, Cuvier remarks upon
the successive additions which the story had gained, in the writings of
various authors. Cicero, in various parts of his writings, refers to
the account of the Hippocentaur as a fabulous tale; Tusc. Quæst. B. i.
c. 27; de Nat. Deor. B. i. c. 38, and B. ii. c. 2; De Divin. B. ii. c.

[953] Consuls A.U.C. 581.

[954] See B. iii. c. 9. Hardouin remarks that Aulus Gellius, in copying
from this passage, seems to have read the word “Casini,” as though
it were C. Asinii, meaning that the boy belonged to one C. Asinius.
However, it is pretty clear that the reading adopted is the right one,
Pliny having been careful to give the various localities at which these
wonderful facts occurred.

[955] Phlegon tells us that this happened in the first year of Nero,
and that the name of the youth, while supposed to be a girl, was

[956] See B. v. c. 4, 5.

[957] A case of this description is mentioned by Ambrose Paré. The
individual was brought up as a girl, but, in consequence of a sudden
muscular exertion, the organs of the male were developed, which had
previously been concealed internally. It may be remarked, that a great
proportion of the well-authenticated cases of a supposed change of sex
have been from the female to the male, evidently of the kind mentioned
by Paré, where the male organs have been concealed in childhood, and
become subsequently developed. Cases, however, have occasionally
occurred of the contrary kind, arising probably from the unusual
size of the clitoris; there are also certain cases, where, from the
malformation of the parts, the sex is actually doubtful, or where
even a certain degree of the two may exist, as has been stated above,
in Note 51 to Chapter 2. This paragraph of Pliny is quoted by Aulus
Gellius, B. ix. c. 4.—B.

[958] This does not correspond with the fact, as it exists in our time;
a circumstance which may probably depend upon our improvement in the
obstetrical art. Nor is the opinion, that both twins are less likely to
live, if of different sexes, sanctioned by modern experience.—B.

[959] “Feminas gigni celerius quam mares;” there has been much
discussion among the commentators, both with respect to the meaning of
these words, and the fact to which they are supposed to refer. Hardouin
interprets the phrase, “crescere, perfici, vigere, adolescere;”
Cuvier translates it, “les filles sont portées moins long-temps par
leur mère.” There is, however, no foundation for this opinion as to a
difference in the period of the gestation.—B.

[960] There may be some ground for this opinion; it is maintained by
Aristotle in his Hist. Anim.—B. As also by Galen.

[961] This statement is made upon the authority of Hippocrates, Aphor.
B. v. c. 48, and Aristotle, Hist. Anim.; but is probably without

[962] Animals have a certain period for generation, because they are
more immediately affected by the seasons, whereas, in the human race,
the arts of life render these fixed terms unnecessary.—B.

[963] Notwithstanding all the observations of the moderns, the
question is scarcely decided respecting the length of time to which
pregnancy may be prolonged. Cuvier says, that the experiments of
Tessier have shewn, that there is a greater latitude in animals than
had previously been supposed; he also remarks, that the same animals
when domesticated, become less regular in this respect than in the wild

[964] Dalechamps has collected authorities to prove, that a child may
survive, when born even at an earlier period; but this, although not
absolutely impossible, is improbable in the highest degree.—B.

[965] Ajasson expresses himself at a loss to identify this Pomponius;
but thinks that it may have been either Julius Pomponius Græcinus,
consul A.U.C. 759, or L. Pomponius, consul A.U.C. 794, A.D. 41.

[966] Caius Caligula. The name of this woman, who was first his
mistress and then his wife, was Milonia Cæsonia. She was neither
handsome nor young when Caligula first admired her: but was noted for
her extreme licentiousness, and at the time when she first became
intimate with Caligula, had already had three children. She and
her daughter, by him, were put to death on the day on which he was
murdered. Corbulo has been mentioned in B. vi. c. 8.

[967] Celsus, B. ii. c. 1, speaks of the fortieth day, as one of the
critical periods of childhood; the others are the seventh month, the
seventh year, and the period of puberty.—B.

[968] Who appears to have urged the great lapse of time that had
intervened between the death of the alleged father and the birth of his

[969] Questions of this nature, of great importance, involving property
and title, have been the subject of judicial consideration in our
times; the longest period to which pregnancy may be protracted seems
still not to be determined, but the general result has been to shorten
it. Aulus Gellius, B. iii. c. 16, has collected the opinions of many of
the ancients on this subject.—B.

[970] Most of the statements made in this Chapter appear to be taken
from Aristotle’s History of Animals; they are, however, either without
foundation or much exaggerated, and very incorrect.—B.

[971] This opinion, although without foundation, is supported by the
authority of Hippocrates, Aphor. B. v. c. 42.—B.

[972] This singular opinion is referred to by Aulus Gellius, B. iii. c.

[973] Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 54, mentions the smell of an
extinguished lamp, as producing abortion in a mare.—B.

[974] “Tinctoria mens;” there has been much discussion, whether
the text does not require correction here; and various conjectural
emendations have been proposed, but not with much success. If the word
“tinctoria” was employed by Pliny, it may be regarded as one of those
bold, and somewhat metaphorical expressions, which are not unfrequently
found in his writings.—B.

[975] Valerius Maximus makes the same statement as to the death of
Anacreon, and says that “having lived to an extreme old age, he was
supporting his decayed strength by chewing raisins, when one grain,
more obstinate than the rest, stuck in his parched throat, and so
ended his life.” This story has been looked upon by some of the modern
scholars as a fiction of the poets.

[976] This explanation of the name is given by Aulus Gellius, B.
xvi. c. 6.—B. It is very doubtful what are the roots from which it
is formed; though Pliny evidently thinks that the word is only a
corruption of the Latin “ægre partus,” “born with difficulty;” a notion
savouring of absurdity.

[977] M. Vipsanius Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus, having married
his dissolute daughter, Julia. He was the son of Lucius Agrippa,
and was descended from a very obscure family. He divorced his wife
Marcella, to marry Julia, the widow of Marcellus, and the daughter of
Augustus, by his third wife, Scribonia.

[978] Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippa and Julia, was the mother of
the Emperor Caligula; and of a second Agrippina, who became the mother
of Nero, by whose order she was put to death.—B.

[979] Julia, the daughter of Augustus, so notorious for her depravity,
who, as already stated, was the wife of Agrippa.—B. See c. 46 of the
present Book.

[980] From cædo, “to cut,” apparently. The Cæsones were a branch of
the Fabian family. There has been considerable difference of opinion
among the commentators respecting the individuals referred to in this
Chapter. The subject is discussed at length in the Notes of Hardouin,
Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 62.—B. So in Macbeth, act v. sc. 7, Macduff says
to Macbeth—

  “And let the angel whom thou still hast serv’d,
  Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
  Untimely ripp’d.”

[981] The commentators are not agreed respecting the origin of this
name; Dalechamps suggests, that it was originally Opiscus, from
ὀπίσθιον, “because one follows close upon another.”—B.

[982] Hardouin says, that this is the case with the hare and the
dasypus, which is a species of hare; but there is probably no
foundation for the statement. Pliny repeats it in a subsequent passage,
B. viii. c. 81.—B.

[983] Pliny evidently considers this a case of superfœtation, and
looks upon it as not uncommon in the human species: whereas it is now
considered impossible.

[984] This refers to the mythological tale of Jupiter and Amphitryon.—B.

[985] See B. v. c. 44.

[986] Most of these statements appear to be taken from Aristotle, Hist.

[987] There has been much discussion respecting the meaning of this
passage and the fact to which it refers. Aristotle, Hist. Anim., says,
that marks made on the arm are transmitted for three generations; and
Pliny, in B. xxii. c. 2, informs us, that the Daci and the Sarmatæ
“make written marks upon their bodies.” The same custom prevails among
the lower orders, sailors especially, in our own times. We may also
remark the analogy which it hears to the practice of tattooing, so
general among the Polynesian and other barbarous nations.—B.

[988] The reader may be amused by a perusal of the collection of
wonderful cases of this kind, which has been made by Dalechamps; see
Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 65, note 4.—B.

[989] Aristotle, in his History of Animals, relates a similar, but
not the same, story; he says that it occurred in Sicily, though he
afterwards speaks of it as having happened in Elis. It is conjectured
by Ajasson, that the individual might have been born in Sicily, and
have exhibited himself in Elis, as a wrestler. If we are really to
believe that his complexion was that of an Æthiopian, it is much more
probable that his mother may have had connection with a negro.—B.

[990] Few readers will fail here to recall to mind the story about the
clock, in the opening chapter of “Tristram Shandy.”

[991] Dalechamps refers us to a remark of the same kind in Cicero,
Tusc. Quæst. B. i. c. 80; but Ajasson remarks, that the resemblance
mentioned by Cicero refers to the mind and manners, not to the body;
Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 67.—B.

[992] Aulus Gellius says, that he was one of the royal family.

[993] This man resembled Antiochus III., surnamed the Great, to
such a degree, that when that monarch had been slain in a tumult by
his people, his wife, Laodice, daughter of Mithridates V., King of
Pontus, put Artemon into a bed, pretending that he was the king,
but dangerously ill. Many persons were admitted to see him; and all
believed that they were listening to the words of their king, when he
recommended to them Laodice and her children.

[994] This circumstance is related by Valerius Maximus, but he speaks
of Vibius as being “ingenuæ stirpis,” “of good family.”—B.

[995] Hardouin expands the words “os probum,” into “liberale, venustum,
gratum, venerandum, probandum,” B. xxxvii. c. 6.—B.

[996] See B. xxxvii. c. 6.

[997] The Latin word “strabo,” means “squinting,” or “having a cast” or
“defect in the eye.”

[998] The word “mimus” was applied by the Romans to a species of
dramatic performance, as well as to the persons who acted in them.
The Roman mimes were imitations of trivial and sometimes indecent
occurrences in life, and scarcely differed from comedy, except in
consisting more of gestures and mimicry than of spoken dialogue. Sylla
was very fond of these performances, and they had more charms for the
Roman populace than the regular drama. As to the mime Salvitto, here
mentioned, see B. xxxv. c. 2.

[999] This anecdote, and the one respecting Spinther and Pamphilus, are
mentioned also by Val. Maximus, B. ix. c. 24.—B.

[1000] A celebrated orator and satirical writer of the time of Augustus
and Tiberius. He is mentioned in the Index of authors at the end of B.
xxxvi., where he is called Longulanus, as being a native of Longula,
a town of Latium. It was even thrown in his teeth, that he was the
offspring of adultery, and that this low-born person was his father.

[1001] “Mirmillonis.” Many of the editions make this word to be a
proper name, and “Armentarius” to signify the calling of the person
described, as being a herdsman. The “Mirmillones” were a peculiar class
of gladiators, said to have been so called from their having the image
of a fish, called “mormyr,” on their helmets.

[1002] We assume the sestertium to be equivalent to somewhat more than
eight pounds sterling; this sum will be about £1600.—B.

[1003] “Proscripter animus.” According to Hardouin, this means
“delighting in proscription,” alluding to the well-known proscriptions
of the triumvirate, in which Antony acted so conspicuous a part.—B.

[1004] This opinion is maintained by Hippocrates, and by Aristotle,
Hist. Anim. B. vii. c. 8, and is referred to by Lucretius, B. iv. c.
1242, _et seq._—B.

[1005] The case of Livia and that of Agrippina, referred to by Pliny,
are mentioned by Suetonius, in the Life of Augustus, c. 63; and that of
Caligula, c. 7.—B.

[1006] M. Junius Silanus, consul under Claudius, A.D. 46, with Valerius
Asiaticus. He was poisoned by order of the younger Agrippina, that he
might not stand in the way of Nero.

[1007] He is first mentioned in B.C. 168, when he was serving in the
army of Æmilius Paulus, in Macedonia, and was sent to Rome with two
other envoys to announce the defeat of Perseus. He united with the
aristocracy in opposing the measures of the Gracchi; and the speech
which he delivered against Tiberius Gracchus, is spoken of by Cicero in
high terms, as replete with true eloquence.

[1008] He left four sons and two daughters; some writers say three.
The ten individuals, over and above his children and grandchildren,
may have consisted of the wives and husbands of his sons and daughters
_then_ living, as also of others who had died in his lifetime.

[1009] 11th of April.

[1010] See B. iii. c. 8.

[1011] This fact is mentioned by Valerius Maximus, B. viii. c. 13.
There is some variation in the spelling of the name of the son of
Masinissa; Solinus calls him Mathumannus.—B.

[1012] Hardouin gives a detailed account of the children of Cato, by
which it appears that the Licinian branch descended from the issue by
his wife Licinia, and the Saloniani, of whom Cato of Utica was one,
from his son Salonianus, by his second wife, Salonia.—B.

[1013] Volusius Saturninus is again mentioned in the 49th Chapter, as a
remarkable instance of longevity; also by Tacitus, B. xiii. c. 30.—B.

[1014] This reading seems preferable to sixty-second, adopted by
Sillig; as there would be nothing very remarkable in a man becoming a
father when sixty-two years of age.

[1015] Some of the “simiæ” are subject to a periodical discharge,
analogous to that of the human female; but, according to Cuvier, it is
in smaller quantity, and not at stated periods. The females of various
other animals, when in a state to receive the male, have a discharge
from the same parts, but totally different in its properties, and the
mode in which it makes its appearance. Virgil, Geor. B. iii. l. 280,
_et seq._, refers to this subject.—B.

[1016] Pliny makes some further remarks on these substances in a
subsequent place, see B. x. c. 84; where he says they are produced
without the intercourse of the male; this point has been much
discussed, and is perhaps scarcely yet decided.—B.

[1017] There is no actual resemblance between moles and schirri; they
are produced by different causes, and exist in different parts of the
body. Moles are always formed in the womb, and probably have some
connection with the generative functions; while schirri are morbid
indurations, which make their appearance in various parts of the body.
Hippocrates gives some account of moles, in his work on the Diseases of
Women. They are also noticed by Aristotle.—B.

[1018] All the poisonous and noxious effects which were attributed by
the ancients to the menstrual discharge, are without the slightest
foundation. The opinions entertained on this point by the Jews, may be
collected from Leviticus, c. xv. ver. 19, _et seq._ Pliny enlarges upon
this subject in a subsequent place. See B. xxviii. c. 23.—B.

[1019] Both Josephus, Bell. Jud. B. iv. c. 9, and Tacitus, Hist. B.
v. c. 6, give an account of this supposed action of this fluid on
the bitumen of Lake Asphaltites; the statement is no doubt entirely
unfounded, but it is a curious instance of popular credulity.—B.

[1020] There are still somewhat similar superstitions in existence,
even in this country among others; it is not uncommonly believed that
meat will not take salt from the hands of a female during the discharge
of the catamenia.

[1021] This statement is without foundation.—B.

[1022] The fact is true, that females in whom the menstrual discharge
does not take place, are seldom, if ever, capable of conception; but it
does not depend on the cause here assigned. See the remarks of Cuvier,
Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 82, and Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 173.—B.

[1023] Pliny clearly alludes to an opinion expressed by Galen, in which
he says, “that if women while giving suck, have sexual intercourse, the
milk becomes tainted.” Hardouin remarks, that Pliny shows considerable
caution here in bringing forward Nigidius as the propounder of these
opinions, the truth of which he himself seems to have doubted.

[1024] It is generally admitted, that the female is more disposed to
conceive just after the cessation of each periodical discharge. We are
informed by the French historians, that their king, Henry II., and his
wife Catharine, having been childless eleven years, made a successful
experiment of this description, by the advice of the physician Fernel;
see Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 83.—B.

[1025] This is one of the many idle tales referred to by Pliny,
entirely without foundation.—B.

[1026] This account is correct, to the extent that the first teeth that
appear are the two central incisors of the upper jaw; the next are the
two lower central incisors, then the upper lateral incisors, the lower
lateral incisors, and the upper and lower canines. The molars follow a
different order, the lower ones appearing before the upper.—B.

[1027] Hardouin mentions a number of authors who relate cases of this
nature. It is said to have taken place with our king Richard III.
See Shakespeare, Richard III., Act i. Scene 4. An individual of very
different character and fortune, Louis XIV., is said to have been born
with two teeth in the upper jaw.—B.

[1028] A town of Latium; we learn from Livy, B. i. c. 53, that it was
captured and plundered by Tarquinius Superbus, but he makes no mention
of Valeria. See B. iii. c. 9.

[1029] It is stated by Seneca, De Consol. c. 16, that Cornelia survived
a large family of children, all of whom were carried off early in life;
of these the two celebrated Gracchi, Tiberius and Caius, met with
violent deaths. The peculiarity here referred to, probably consisted
in an imperforated hymen, a mal-formation which not very unfrequently
exists, and requires a surgical operation.—B.

[1030] This circumstance is mentioned by Val. Maximus, B. i. c. 8.—B.
We learn from Plutarch, that the same was the case also with Pyrrhus,
king of Epirus: Euryphæus also, the Cyrenian, and Euryptolemus, the
king of Cyprus. Herodotus, B. ix., speaks of a skull found on the plain
of Platæa, with a similar conformation.

[1031] Although the teeth, and especially their enamel, form the most
indestructible substance which enters into the composition of the body,
it is not absolutely so; a certain proportion of them consisting of
animal matter, which is consumed, when exposed to a sufficient heat;
the earthy part may also be dissolved by the appropriate chemical

[1032] Powerful acids for instance; but they destroy the enamel. Lord
Bacon recommends the ashes of tobacco as a whitener of the teeth; but
that has been found to have a similar effect.

[1033] We find in Haller, El. Phys. B. ix. c. 2, 4, 8, and in other
physiologists, a minute account of the effects produced by the teeth in
the articulation of the various letters which compose the alphabet.—B.

[1034] See B. iii. c. 3, and B. iv. c. 35. He does not say how many
teeth the Turduli naturally had, but no doubt he is mistaken.

[1035] Pliny repeats this statement in B. xi. c. 63, and extends it
to the females of the sheep, goat, and hog. In the natural condition
of the mouth, the number of the teeth is the same in both sexes; but,
according to the observations of Cuvier, what are called the “wisdom”
teeth, though occasionally deficient in both sexes, are most frequently
so in the female.—B.

[1036] He seems to allude to the younger Agrippina, the mother of
the emperor Domitius Nero; neither her life, her character, nor her
ultimate fate seem, however, to have entitled her to be called a
favourite of Fortune. Her mother, the first Agrippina, grand-daughter
of Augustus, appears, on the other hand, to have been a woman of
virtuous character, and spotless chastity, without a vice, with the
exception, perhaps, of ambition.

[1037] See B. x. c. 10.

[1038] It was one of the tenets of the Stoics, that the world was to be
alternately destroyed by water and by fire. The former element having
laid it waste on the occasion of the flood of Deucalion, the next great
catastrophe, according to them, is to be produced by fire. Pliny has
previously alluded to this opinion, B. ii. c. 110.—B.

[1039] Cuvier remarks, that in the alluvial tracts throughout Europe,
Siberia, and America, and probably also in other parts of the world,
bones have been found, which have belonged to very large animals, such
as elephants, mastodons, and whales; and when discovered, the common
people, and sometimes even anatomists, have mistaken them for the bones
of giants. He especially mentions the case of the bones of an elephant,
found near Lucerne, in the sixteenth century, and supposed by Plater
to have belonged to a man seventeen feet in height. Cuvier conceives
that no man in modern times has exceeded the height of seven feet,
and even these cases are extremely rare; for further information he
refers to his _Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles_. Some of the best
authenticated facts of unusually tall men are in Buffon, Nat. Hist.
vol. ii. p. 276, and vol. iii. p. 427.—B. The skeleton of O’Brien, in
the Museum of the College of Surgeons, in London, is about seven feet
and a half in height.

[1040] The story of the birth of Orion is beautifully told by Ovid,
Fasti, B. v. l. 493. _et seq._ He was often represented by the poets as
of gigantic stature, and after his death was fabled to have been placed
among the stars, where he appears as a giant. It is not improbable
that, like the Cyclopes, Hercules, and Atlas, he may have been one of
the earliest benefactors of mankind, and an assiduous improver of their
condition; whence the story of his gigantic size.

[1041] A gigantic son of Poseidon or Neptune, and Iphimedeia, one of
the Alöeidæ.

[1042] We have an account of this supposed discovery of the body of
Orestes in Herodotus, B. i. c. 68, and a reference to it, with some
pertinent remarks, in Aulus Gellius, B. iii. c. 10.—B.

[1043] Il. B. v. l. 303, 4, B. xii. l. 449: this opinion of Homer was
adopted by many of the Latin poets; for example, by Virgil, B. xii. l.
900; by Juvenal, Sat. xv. l. 69, 70; and by Horace, Od. B. iii. O. 6,
_sub finem_.

[1044] Columella speaks of Cicero as mentioning this Pollio, and
stating that he was a foot taller than any one else. It is most
probably in Cicero’s lost book, “De Admirandis,” that this mention was
made of him.

[1045] Hardouin supposes that this was not an individual name, but a
term derived from the Hebrew, descriptive of his remarkable size.—B. He
supposes also that not improbably this was the same individual that is
mentioned by Tacitus, Annals, B. xii. c. 12, as Acharus, a king of the

[1046] According to our estimate of the Roman measures, this would
correspond to about nine feet four and a half inches of our standard.—B.

[1047] “Conditorio Sallustianorum.” The more general meaning attributed
to the word “conditorium,” is “tomb” or burial-place. We learn from
other sources that the famous “gardens of Sallust” belonged to the
emperor Augustus, and it is not improbable that there was a museum
there of curiosities, in which these remarkable skeletons were kept.

[1048] “Loculis.” It is not quite clear whether this word has the
meaning here of chest or coffin, or of a niche or cavity made in the
wall of the tomb.

[1049] Among the objects of curiosity which were exhibited by Augustus
to the Roman people, as related by Suetonius, c. 43, was a dwarf named
Lucius, who is there described; but he would appear to be a different
person from any of those here mentioned.—B.

[1050] Seneca also mentions him in his Consolation to Marcia, c. 23.

[1051] The procurator of a province was an officer appointed by the
Cæsar to perform the duties discharged by the quæstor in the other

[1052] We have an ingenious dissertation by Ajasson, the object of
which is to show, that the Tacitus here referred to, is not the
historian, but his father, and consequently, that the boy prematurely
born must have been the historian’s brother, not his son.—B.

[1053] It is not clear whether Pliny intended to apply all these three
observations to the female, or only the last of them; it appears,
however, that the remark is, in either case, without foundation.—B. He
appears to intend that his observations should apply more especially to
the strength of the arm.

[1054] This is incorrect; the human body, after death, does not float
until decomposition has commenced, when it becomes more or less
buoyant, in consequence of the formation of gases, which partially
distend the cavities; but we do not observe any difference in the two
sexes in this respect.—B.

[1055] This statement is altogether incorrect.—B.

[1056] The total abstinence from liquids in dropsy, was a point much
insisted upon by medical practitioners, even in modern times; but it is
now generally conceived to have been derived from a false theory, and
not to be essential to the cure of the disease, while it imposes upon
the patient a most severe privation. A moderate use of fluids is even
favourable to the operation of the remedies that are employed in this

[1057] From the Greek ἀγελαστὸς, “one who does not laugh.” Cicero
refers to this peculiarity in the character of Crassus, in his treatise
De Finibus, B. v. c. 92; and in the Tusc. Quest. B. iii. c. 3, he
informs us, on the authority of Lucilius, that Crassus never laughed
but once in his life.—B. And then, on seeing a donkey eating thistles;
upon which he exclaimed, “Similem habent labia lactucam,” “Like lips,
like lettuce.”

[1058] “Without passion;” equivalent to our English word

[1059] The daughter of M. Antony by Octavia. She was the mother of
Germanicus Cæsar, and the grandmother of the emperor Caligula, whom she
lived to see on the throne, and who is supposed to have hastened her
death. She was celebrated for her beauty and chastity—a rare virtue in
those days.

[1060] Pliny, B. xxxi. c. 45, says, that this state of the bones is
found in fishermen, from their being exposed to the action of the sea
and salt water; but both the fact and the supposed cause are without

[1061] “Cornei.”

[1062] It would appear that the Samnites were not only one of the
most warlike people, with whom the Romans had to contest in the
infancy of their state, but that they were particularly celebrated as

[1063] The gladiators, called Samnites, were armed with the peculiar
“scutum,” or oblong shield, used by the Samnites, a greave on the left
leg, a sponger on the breast, and a helmet with a crest.

[1064] The term “nervus” was generally applied by the ancients to the
sinews or tendons; they had a very indistinct knowledge of what are
properly called the “nerves.”—B.

[1065] Pintianus suggests another reading here, which would appear to
be much more consistent with probability. “Inermi dextrâ superatum, et
uno digito postremo correptum in castra,” &c.—“Conquered him with the
right hand, and that unarmed, and then with a single finger dragged him
to the camp.”

[1066] “Rusticellus.”

[1067] Philonides has been already mentioned, B. ii. c. 73, as being in
the habit of going from Sicyon to Elis in nine hours.—B.

[1068] We may consult the learned notes of Ajasson, Lemaire, vol. iii.
p. 99, respecting the exact distances here indicated by Pliny. We
may remark, that a stadium is about one-eighth of a mile, according
to which estimate, Philippides must have gone 142 miles in two days,
and the other 150 miles in one day; as it is implied, that these
journeys were performed on foot, even the former of them is obviously
impossible.—B. Query, however, as to this last assertion; according to
recent pedestrian feats, it does not appear to be absolutely impossible.

[1069] See B. ii. c. 72.

[1070] This feat is no less incredible than those mentioned above.—B.

[1071] We have an account of this journey of Tiberius in Dion Cassius.
Val. Maximus, B. v. c. 6, also enumerates this among the extraordinary
examples of fraternal affection.—B. We learn also from Suetonius, that
on learning the accident, a fall from his horse, which had happened to
his brother Drusus, Tiberius took horse at Ticinum, and travelled night
and day till he reached his brother, who was then in Germany, near the
Rhine. He accompanied the body to Rome, preceding it on foot all the
way. There is extant a “Consolation to Livia Augusta,” written on this
occasion, some have thought, by Pedo Albinovanus, but it is more likely
to have been the work of Ovid.

[1072] This statement must have been in some of his lost works.

[1073] Pliny probably here refers to a passage in the Acad. Quæst. B.
iv. c. 81, where Cicero speaks of a person who could see objects, it
was said, at a distance of 1800 stadia, equal exactly to 125 miles.—B.

[1074] The actual distance between the promontory of Sicily and the
nearest part of Carthage is between fifty and sixty miles. The acute
vision of Strabo is mentioned by Val. Maximus, B. i. c. 8.—B.

[1075] See also B. xxxvi. c. 4. He was a Lacedæmonian sculptor, who,
according to Athenæus, also executed embossed work on vases.

[1076] His works in ivory were said to have been so small, that they
could scarcely be seen without placing them on black hair.

[1077] Cicero, Acad. Quæst. B. iv. c. 120, speaks of “one Myrmecides,
a maker of minute objects of art;” Ælian, Vac. Hist. B. i. c. 17, also
speaks of these minute performances of Myrmecides, and styles them “a
waste of time.” Pliny, in a subsequent part of his work, B. xxxi. c. 4,
speaks of similar minute works, executed by these artists in marble;
but the account which he gives is scarcely credible.—B.

[1078] See B. xxxvi. c. 5.

[1079] It would appear that there is a little confusion here of events.
Sybaris, so noted for its luxury and effeminacy, was destroyed by the
people of Crotona, under the command of the athlete Milo, B.C. 510.
In B.C. 360. the Crotoniats were defeated at the river Sagras, by the
Locrians and Rhegians, 10,000 in number, although they are said to
have amounted to 130,000. Now it was on the occasion of this _latter
battle_, that, according to Cicero, De Nat. Deor. B. ii., the noise was
heard at Olympia, where the games were being celebrated. Be it as it
may, the story is clearly fabulous.

Evelyn is much more deserving of credit, where we find him stating in
his Diary, that in his garden, at Say’s Court, at Deptford, he heard
the guns fired in one of our engagements with the Dutch fleet, at a
distance thence of nearly 200 miles.]

[1080] Ajasson discusses at some length, the possibility of the fact
here mentioned, and concludes, that it is not to be credited: he
estimates the distance between these two places at 120 miles.—B.

[1081] As to the miraculous annunciation of the victory of Marius and
Catulus over the Cimbri, see B. ii. c. 58.

[1082] Meaning, thereby, the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux; who were
said to have announced at Rome the victory gained the day before by
Paulus Æmilius over King Perseus.

[1083] This circumstance is mentioned by Pausanias, in his Attica.
She was an Athenian hetæra, or courtesan, beloved by Aristogiton, or,
according to Athenæus, by Harmodius. On the murder of Hipparchus, the
son of Pisistratus, she was put to the torture, being supposed to have
been privy to the conspiracy; but she died under her sufferings without
making any disclosure, and, according to one account, bit off her
tongue, that no secret might be betrayed by her. The Athenians erected
in her honour a bronze statue of a lioness (in reference to her name),
without a tongue, in the vestibule of the Acropolis.

[1084] This story is related by Val. Maximus, B. iii. c. 3, it is also
alluded to by Cicero, Tus. Quæst. B. ii. c. 22, and De Nat. Deor. B.
ii. c. 33; but he only speaks of his tortures, without mentioning what
Pliny states of his biting off his tongue.—B. He was a philosopher of
Abdera, of the school of Democritus, and flourished about B.C. 340.
Towards Alexander the Great, whom he accompanied into Asia, he acted
the part of a base flatterer. He was pounded to death in a mortar, by
order of Nicocreon, king of Cyprus.

[1085] This statement is also made by Val. Maximus, B. viii. c. 7.
Xenophon, Cyropædia, B. v., speaks of the retentive memory of Cyrus,
but considerably qualifies the account here given: he says that Cyrus
knew the names of all his commanders or prefects, and of all those to
whom he had occasion to give particular orders.—B.

[1086] This account is similar to that given by Val. Maximus, B.
viii. c. 7, and by Aulus Gellius, B. xvii. c. 7. We have a learned
dissertation by Ajasson, in which he discusses the possibility of one
individual understanding so great a number of languages, as well as the
question, whether it is possible that so great a number of languages
were spoken by the subjects of Mithridates. His conclusions greatly
tend to prove both these points; Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 295.—B.

[1087] This invention is referred to by Cicero, De Nat. Deor., B. ii.
c. 86. Cicero also speaks of the remarkable powers of memory possessed
by Charmidas and Metrodorus, De Oratore, B. ii. c. 88, and Tusc. Quæst.
B. i. c. 24.—B.

[1088] Ajasson gives an account of some of the principal writers in
what has been termed the science of Mnemonics, or artificial memory:
he particularly commends the lectures of Aimé of Paris on the subject;
Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 310, _et seq._—B.

[1089] This circumstance is related by Val. Maximus, B. i. c. 8.—B.

[1090] This is not always the case. In dreams we often recollect past
events and localities; we know in what part of the world we are, and
even remember the substance of former dreams, and the fact that we have
dreamt of a similar subject before.

[1091] The conqueror of Syracuse, and five times consul at Rome. He was
Born B.C. 268, and was slain in an engagement with Hannibal, B.C. 208,
in the vicinity of Venusia.

[1092] Ajasson remarks concerning the number of battles in which
Cæsar is said to have been engaged, that it has probably been much
exceeded by some of the great warriors of later times. He says that an
individual, “who was raised over our heads and over all Europe, and so
reigned much too long,” was personally engaged in nearly 300 battles.—B.

[1093] Who infested the coasts of Cilicia, and whom he dislodged from
their strongholds, and almost utterly extirpated.

[1094] This fact is mentioned by Seneca, de Ira, B. ii. c. 26. Plutarch
mentions a similar circumstance with respect to Pompey.—B.

[1095] Or Bacchus.—“Father Liber” is the name always given to him by

[1096] “Magnus.” Plutarch states, that, on his return from Africa,
Sylla saluted him with the name of “Magnus,” which surname he ever
afterwards retained.—B.

[1097] Plutarch says, that the law did not allow a triumph to be
granted to any one who was not either consul or prætor.—B.

[1098] Sertorius had joined the party of Marius and Cinna, in
opposition to that of Sylla. He fled into Spain, and maintained the war
successfully in that country, until he was treacherously assassinated
by one of his supposed partisans. This may appear a sufficient reason
for his not being mentioned by Pompey.—B.

[1099] “Toties imperator antequam miles.” He had been raised to the
highest rank without passing through the various gradations of military

[1100] Speaking of this honorary crown, Pliny says, B. xvi. c. 4, “At
the present day it is not given to the victor himself, but proclamation
is made that he confers the crown upon his country.”

[1101] It is noticed by the commentators, that Aulus Gellius, speaking
of this building, calls it the Temple of Victory, B. x. c. 1; the
error, it is supposed, may have arisen from Pompey having placed a
statue of Victory in the Temple.—B.

[1102] 29th of September.

[1103] Pliny, referring to these events, in a subsequent place, B.
xxvii. c. 6, says that it took place “pridie Kalend. Octob. die
natalis sui.” Plutarch informs us, that the triumph lasted two days, a
circumstance which may assist us in reconciling these dates. The same
author gives a very minute detail of all the transactions here referred

[1104] According to the chronology ordinarily adopted, this would be in
the year of the City 692.—B.

[1105] By Asia, as we see from the geographical portion of this work,
the ancients often designated not the large tract to which we now apply
the name, but a comparatively small district lying on the east of the
Ægean sea.—B.

[1106] See B. xiv. c. 5.

[1107] Val. Maximus adds, that he was the best lawyer of his time.—B.

[1108] We meet with a passage in Livy, B. xxxix. c. 44, illustrative
of this view of Cato’s character. In Cicero’s treatise, De Senectute,
where Cato bears a prominent part, frequent allusion is made to the
strictness and even severity of his principles, although the general
impression which we receive of his character and manners is highly
interesting, and, upon the whole, not unamiable.—B.

[1109] Plutarch says, that nearly fifty impeachments were brought
against him, the last when he was eighty-six years of age.—B.

[1110] There has been considerable difficulty in ascertaining who was
the individual here referred to; the subject is discussed at some
length by Hardouin, who shows that it is probable, that it was Lucius
Cæcilius, who was slain in a battle with the Gauls, A.U.C. 470, and in
the consulship of Dolabella and Domitius.—B.

[1111] The name of this consul has been the subject of much discussion
among the commentators. Livy, B. iii. c. 31, has been referred to, as
calling him Atermius; but in some of the best editions, he is named
Aterius. The tribunate of Dentatus took place A.U.C. 299, fifty-five
years after the expulsion of the kings.—B.

[1112] When a Roman overcame an enemy with whom he had been personally
engaged, he took possession of some part of his armour and dress, which
might bear testimony to the victory; this was termed the “spolium.”—B.

[1113] “Hasta pura;” these words, according to Hardouin, signify a
lance without an iron head. We are told that it was given to him who
gained the first victory in a battle; it was also regarded as an emblem
of supreme power, and as a mark of the authority which one nation
claimed over another.—B.

[1114] “Phaleris.” These were bosses, discs or crescents of metal,
sometimes gold. They were mostly used in pairs, and as ornaments for
the helmet; but we more commonly read of them as attached to the
harness of horses, and worn as pendants from the head, so as to produce
a terrific effect when shaken by the rapid movements of the horse.

[1115] The “torques” was an ornament of gold, twisted spirally and bent
into a circular form, and worn among the upper classes of the Persians,
the Gauls, and other Asiatic and northern nations. They are often found
both in France and Ireland, as well as in this country, but varying
greatly in size and weight.

[1116] Golden “armillæ,” or bracelets, were worn by the Gauls on the
arms and the legs. The Sabines also wore them on the left arm, at the
time of the foundation of Rome.

[1117] The word “fiscus” signifies a wicker basket or pannier, probably
of peculiar construction, in which the Romans were accustomed to keep
and carry about large sums of money. In process of time the word came
to signify a treasure or money-chest.

[1118] We have nearly the same detail of the honours bestowed on
Dentatus by Val. Maximus, B. iii. c. 2. Pliny again speaks of Dentatus,
and the honours bestowed upon him, B. xxii. c. 5; and especially
notices the “corona graminea,” the grass or obsidional crown, as the
highest of his honours. The different kinds of honorary crowns are
very fully described in B. xvi. c. 3, 4, and 5; in B. xxii. c. 4, we
have a particular account of the “corona graminea;” in c. 5, mention
is made of its having been given to Dentatus, and, in the next, other
individuals are enumerated to whom it had been presented.—B.

[1119] T. Romilius Rocus Vaticanus was consul B.C. 455. Having defeated
the Æqui, and gained immense booty, instead of distributing it among
the soldiers, he and his colleague sold it, on account of the poverty
of the treasury. They were, in consequence, brought to trial, and
Veturius was sentenced to pay 10,000 asses. He was, however, elected
augur in 453, as some compensation for the ill-treatment he had

[1120] Livy, B. iii. c. 31, gives an account of the conviction of
Romilius, but says, that it was effected by C. Claudius Cicero, the
tribune of the people. To obviate the discordance in the names, some
commentators have proposed to substitute the words “Lucio Siccio” for
“Claudio Cicerone.”—B.

[1121] We have an account of the victories, honours, and unfortunate
fate of Manlius in Livy, B. vi. c. 14-20. In enumerating the honours
conferred upon him, the numbers are given somewhat differently in c.
20; thirty spoils of enemies slain, forty donations from the generals,
two mural and eight civic crowns.—B.

[1122] M. Sergius Silus. He was