a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
Title: Birds and Beasts of the Greek Anthology Author: Norman Douglas * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0300611h.html Edition: 1 Language: English Character set encoding: Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit (HTML) Date first posted: April 2003 Date most recently updated: March 2009 Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE
Hunter of hares, may fortune smile on thee:
Such is the gift of Pan.
And thou, O fowler, who with lime and reeds
Seekest to capture winged and feathered breeds
That roost beneath this hill--praise Pan!
Pan from his eyrie guards yon sacred copse;
Bid him descend to join the chase, that he
With hounds and reeds may thy companion be.
--LEONIDAS OF TARENTUM (F. W. M.).
TO HIS FRIEND
J. E. B.
WHOSE VERSES HAVE ENLIVENED
THIS DISMAL DISCOURSE
Florence--Printed by the Tipografia Giuntina, directed by L.
Reptiles and Batrachians
Books have been written on the Natural History of the Bible, on that of Shakespeare, of Homer, Virgil and so forth: why not a similar one on the fauna of the Greek Anthology--though the flora, perhaps, would be even more interesting? So I often thought, while reading and re-reading this marvellous collection which had been my companion for many months past. Three years, I finally concluded, might suffice for the venture. Three years, under some vine-wreathed arbour, with the necessary books at one's elbow, and one's soul at ease...Such a thing, it is obvious, should be a holiday performance; written con amore and not otherwise; in reverential, playfully-erudite fashion. Three years or even more; for I soon realized that the enterprise might well blossom--why not?--into a general treatise on ancient Natural History and the changes in animal economy which have occurred in the interval between then and now; that it would open up, incidentally, a number of questions social, aesthetic and humanitarian, showing how the attitude of mankind towards birds and beasts has altered since those days. Three years, I kept on saying to myself--where shall they be found?
I shall not find them.
Be that a pretext for putting together the following notes which may serve as material for some one more fortunately situated. The pencillings then scrawled in my Anthology are fast fading; I amplified them later with references to such authorities as were accessible, but a good many others would have to be consulted if the undertaking were to be brought up to date, such as, for instance, von der Mähle's book on the Birds of Greece, which I have not been able to procure.
An undertaking, for the rest, of the gentlemanly kind; quite useless. No doubt an interesting little paper might be written, were we to investigate nothing but the Natural History of a single period or of a single poet, such as Meleager; or that of a well-marked group of them, like Lucilius and those other wits who introduced the animal world chiefly for the sake of the amusing similes they could extract therefrom; or if we devoted ourselves to one particular beast, say, the lion or the bee, and traced its progress through the Anthology from the earliest to the latest references. A monograph of this kind would be brief indeed but not without a certain value from a scientific point of view. To compile, on the other hand, a long list of creatures mentioned only at hazard (some of the most conspicuous animals are not so much as named in this collection); a list of creatures mentioned by poets good and bad, poets of divers nationalities, poets scattered over a large geographical area and over a period of fifteen hundred years of time--to compile such a list: what more exquisitely unprofitable?
Nevertheless, now that the thing is done, it strikes me that these utterances of a considerable section--segment, rather--of the ancient world present, for all their variety, a certain inner coherence. That must be because the writers happened to be poets, who view life from more or less the same angle through all the ages; poets, whose observations of natural phenomena were casual and unsystematic, whose interpretation of such things shifts more slowly than that of the scientists, and shifts, when it does so, along a plane different from theirs. Not one of them can be called a poet-naturalist in the sense of some half-dozen English ones; Aristotle is modern, compared to the latest of them; indeed, he belongs to another world of thought. How birds and beasts affect these men, what they say about them and what they fail to say, reveal, when taken as a whole, an outlook that is well riveted together--an outlook harmonious, and yet, with a faint persistence, dissimilar to that of the present day; it is as if we were glancing from a window upon some unfamiliar landscape.
Like our own poets, they are quite ready to introduce the animal creation into their pages, and in so doing they often register what seem to be the most irrelevant and wearisome trivialities; some of their lines are sheer doggerel. But these trivialities, I think, have their significance. That is why the reader of the following pages cannot but notice that I have chronicled them one after the other with pedantic deliberation, to the verge of tediousness and possibly beyond it. My reason is this: it is trivialities, mere trivialities, which betray them in the long run; nothing but the cumulative weight of trifles can turn the scale and demonstrate the particular detail wherein our point of view has come to change from that of their time. For we find no Natural History, properly speaking, in the Greek Anthology; what its authors say about animals constitutes a human rather than a scientific document; it is a minute but clearly demarcated province in the history of feeling--which is only another way of saying once more that its writers were poets. All such history changes slowly,, since, unconcerned with political or social or scientific movements, it can but reflect the almost imperceptible interaction between nature, a relatively stable environment, and that old and yet relatively unstable heart of man.
Glancing in cursory fashion through the Anthology, one might be tempted to formulate some theory such as this: that the poets' interest in--or at least mention of--wild animals is not constant in its intensity but follows, rather, a curved line: low at first, in the grand era, and confined chiefly to decorative ones such as lions, it rises high, declines awhile, rises again in the Hellenistic and rhetorical period, drops almost to zero towards the close (Byzantinism). The theory will not hold water. Though none of its writers is preeminent as an observer of wild creatures, there is also no gulf in the long stretch of years; every single century, from Anyte to Agathias, produces its crop.
It was my intention to include the domestic animals in this survey. The project has been abandoned not without reluctance, because a mass of material had already been accumulated, and because, as a matter of fact, a study of this group would throw more intimate side-lights upon the lore and home life of the ancients than does the other; it would have an ethical import of its own. The wild animals must suffice for the moment; there are some hundred and fifty-three of them, and the references to them amount to close upon six hundred.
I had intended also to give, in the shape of footnotes, proper references to Aristotle and so forth, and had actually proceeded awhile with the ponderous task before realizing that such a method would be like attaching a lump of lead to a soap-bubble. For it became more and more evident that the notes were going to outweigh my text in sheer bulk, besides giving to this trifle an insupportable air of documentation, of Teutonic Gediegenheit. Hence their omission from the pages which follow. I content myself with giving most of the Anthology references, and even them I have quite omitted in three little sections (on the dolphin, bee, and cicada); they run more pleasantly without the distracting numerals in brackets. The reader who distrusts my statements about these animals can verify them by going through the text himself, and I wish him joy of his labours.
A short bibliography is added; it avoids the repetition of long book-titles.
Many are the references to lions; they were slain with lances and spears, as they are to this day by the natives of Africa. A poem (6,217) relates how a eunuch priest of Cybele, sheltering during a snowstorm in a cave, saves himself from a lion's attack by beating the great kettle-drum which was used in the worship of that goddess and which scares it away; perhaps the strange sight of this fellow helped to discomfit the monster. Here we have one of numerous cases where a single story has appealed to several writers, who paraphrase it with variations and elaborations of their own: Alcaeus, Simonides, Dio-scorides, Antipater and Antistius all dwell upon the same theme. Another poem (6,221) tells of an old and decrepit lion seeking refuge on a rough night with some shepherds and their flock, and leaving them next morning unharmed. That particular lion, at his time of life, should have been a man-eater--a variety already known to Aristotle, who rightly remarks that it is a question of age.
An Arab dedicates to Pan the skin of a lion, together with the lance that slew it, which still bears the marks of its teeth (6,57). Panopeus, hunter of lions and leopards, dies from the sting of a scorpion (7,578); the accident is not impossible, though this may be merely a rhetorical exercise, showing how the boldest man may be overcome by the most ignoble of beasts:
'Tis in this tomb strong Panopeus rests, Lion-hunter, piercer of rough panthers' breasts. On the hills a scorpion from earth issuing Wounded his heel with its death-giving sting. Upon the ground lie his poor darts and spear, Alas!--the playthings of audacious deer.
Other lion-killers are named--such as in 6,262.
Hercules, slayer of the Nemean lion, is frequently hymned; so are the lions associated with Cybele; brave men like Leonidas have lions sculptured on their tombs (in this case there is also a play on the name); oracles refer to the beast more than once, as does a problem (14,7) about a lion of brass which spouted water from its eyes and from other parts of its body; we have the well-known lines from Aristophanes comparing Alcibiades to a lion-cub which should not have been reared in the city; a figure of Eros, driving a chariot drawn by lions--a favourite motif--is noted by Marcus Argentarius (9,221) as forming the device on a ring--
Upon this seal Love whom none e'er withstands I see, guiding strong lions with his hands; One flaunts o'er them a whip, the other holds The reins; and grace abundant him enfolds. I fear this bane of men; he who wild beast Can tame won't pity mortals in the least.
Besides these, there is an anonymous poem (7,626) praising the Roman Emperor because he emptied Libya of her lions and other prowling monsters, and sent them to Rome to fight in the Circus. Such beast-fights are alluded to more than once in the Anthology, and we have a noteworthy epigram (9,581) put into the mouth of a Byzantine Emperor, deprecating the bloodshed connected with these shows. I find no reference to performing animals, to lions jumping through hoops or elephants on tight ropes: it may be that the poets were sensible of the ineptitude of such exhibitions. Nor is there mention of menageries, of those paradises or vivaria for which men like Lucullus and Hortensius were famous, and concerning which Aulus Gellius has left us one of his usual dry dissertations.
I cannot say when the lion became extinct in Europe, Herodotus speaks
of the lions and wild bulls in his description of Xerxes' march through
Macedonia; he says the former were ferociously destructive to the camels
that carried the army provisions, and then proceeds to give other details
about them and to note the exact geographical range to which they were
then confined. How like Herodotus! Aristotle and Xenophon both confirm
the existence of these Macedonian lions. There seems to be little doubt
that they also existed in Greece at an early period, on Mount Olympus,
Cithaeron and Parnassus; Pau-sanias gives some information on this
subject, and the Nemean lion's den is pointed out to this day. A
well-known scholar denies that lions were ever found in the Peloponnese:
he regards the Nemean story as an importation. But if the beast inhabited
Thessaly, there is no reason why it should not have spread southward;
indeed, I fail to see by what means it could have been kept out of the
Morea. Dion Chry-sostom speaks of it as extinct in Europe. Three hundred
years later, at the tail end of antiquity, Them-istius regrets that
Thessaly can furnish no more lions for beast-shows.
Besides the previously-mentioned leopard-killer another one is named (Didot III, 2, 565). And No. 633 of the same section consists of a two-line epitaph on a boxer who was killed in a fight with a leopard, which shared the same fate--
See me, Lascepius, a boxer, who Was slain by the same leopard that I slew.
So far as I can discover, the only other mention of this animal is in
the inscription over the gateway of Smyrna citadel (Jacobs' Appendix,
336) which speaks of the cruel hand of time devouring this once famous
city even as a leopard devours a fawn. The beast may perhaps be found, as
in the days of Spratt and Forbes (Travels in Lycia, 1858), in the
Lycian mountains, where it is known by the Turkish name of kaplan.
There is a hint of the leopard, as "panther" in an enigma (14,24). Erhard
(p. 79) says "On Samos a panther was shot"--he gives no further
The lynx, enemy of goats, occurs in a ten-line address to Eros (5, 179) by Meleager, who refuses the God of Love a dwelling near his heart; it would be, he says, like keeping a lynx beside the goats. The lynx's eye is also mentioned (Didot III, 3, 79); that is all.
I have never heard of lynxes in Greece proper, and doubt whether they
still exist anywhere, although their reputation for keen sight survives
as a. proverb. The Athens Museum contains a woefully stuffed specimen
which was killed on the Parnes, a few hours from the capital, on the 18
March, 1862, and Heldreich (p. 11) mentions one or two localities.
A bear-hunter is named (Didot III, 2, 565). There is no other mention of the bear--Homer also has only a single reference to it--save in a punning epigram by Ammianus (i i, 23 i) on a certain objectionable person called Markos, the first letter of whose name, he suggests, should be taken away, leaving Arkos, a bear, "of which he deserves many" (to tear him in pieces).
I know nothing of the present distribution of bears in the Anthology regions; a few were still to be found on Pindus and Olympus in 1844, and there is a Macedonian proverb to the effect that "once you catch your bear, it will dance for you". As to the Peloponnesus, Leake says that the occasional appearance of bears in the mountains both of Arcadia and Laconia is "generally attested by the inhabitants" and they are now "seldom seen in any part of the Morea" (1833). I have enquired about them, but could elicit nothing; they have doubtless been driven out by this time, although Arcadia derives its name from them. The Morea, being now turned into an island, would in any case not harbour such monsters for long. They were common in the days of Pausa-nias; Taygetus, he says, was full of them. Tristram is therefore mistaken when he tells us that bears became extinct early in the historic period in southern Greece.
The Emperor Hadrian killed a bear, and hung its skin in the temple of
Eros at Thespiae with a dedication by himself which in still extant
The ravening wolf, on the other hand, was a popular subject as he continues to be. So in the lines (9, 432) by Theocritus, consoling poor Thyrsis for the loss of a kid, which has been laid hold of by the wolf in its claws (in its claws: how unlike Theocritus! It has been proposed to substitute the word gnathos, jaw)--
What use, poor Thyrsis, to cry out thine eyes And to consume thyself with doleful sighs? The pretty kid in Hades found her bourne, For with his claws a rough wolf has her torn. The dogs bay, now she's dead, but bay in vain, Since bone nor vestige more of her remain.
Crooked claws are attributed to the wolf in an oracle (Didot III, 6, 217), but only for the sake of symmetry; the lion, a few lines earlier, having set the example of being gampsonyx, crook-clawed. In _the same oracle occurs the compound ainolykos, dreadful-wolf.
There is also an epitaph on the shipwrecked mariner who, swimming ashore and thinking himself safe at last, is slain by a wolf as he sets foot on land--a poem of which there is an imitation. Both of them perhaps were exercises, since a single wolf could hardly overpower the weakest man (7, 289 and 550).
We have further an anonymous quatrain, supposed to be spoken by a goat which has been compelled by a foolish shepherd to suckle a young wolf, to its own future detriment; and a strange account of how a pack of wolves, pursuing a traveller into the Nile, formed a bridge across the river by holding each others' tails in their mouths. The same unlikely yarn is told about wolves, and also about mice, by Aelian. The she-wolf that nursed Romulus and Remus is commemorated in the last of the Cyzicene epigrams, and Ion mentions the wolf-hounds which were traditionally, responsible for the death of Euripides. Two dedicatory poems (6, 35 and 106) describe hunters suspending on a wild plane tree, in honour of Pan, a skin and the stout crook-handed staff used for throwing at wolves; Phaedimus hymns Apollo's wolf-slaying quiver; Meleager talks of "sheep catching a wolf" and Strato, on a certain disreputable occasion, compares himself to a wolf that finds a lamb standing at the door and waiting for him. As to its voracity, Diphilus, an early comic poet, calls the inhabitants of Argos wolves; Lucilius accuses one Gamus of having the appetite of five wolves.
There is no reference to werewolves, for which Arcadia was famous.
Strange that the fox should barely be mentioned by name, since the ancients knew its habits so well, and contrived many stories about it, and valued its skin and ate its flesh, and protected their vineyards against its attacks. The word occurs in an oracle (Didot III, 6, 132) that mentions the hill Orchalides "which the fox never leaves". Little foxes or fox-cubs, alopekideus, are named elsewhere (ibid. 6, 277) as gaining the confidence of doves, and the opprobrious term kynalopex, dog-fox, is found more than once.
There is little doubt, mereover, that the robber beast which Anyte describes as stealing upon a cock in his sleep (7, 202) was a fox--
No longer as of old shalt thou so early stir And rouse me from my bed with thy wings' rapid whirr; For on thy sleep soft crept the Spoiler and thus slew Thee as across thy throat his claws he sudden drew.
The bird's throat, she says, was rent by its talons; an odd little blunder for the wise and tuneful Anyte to make, unless the animal in question was something of the cat species. This is doubtful, for she calls it sinis, the destroyer (there was a legendary robber called Sinis); and it is a singular coincidence that the Greek word for fox, alopex, should be derived from the Sanscrit lopakas, which is taken to mean "the destroyer" (A. de Gubernatis, vol. II, p. 122).
The cat, ailouros, hardly appears at all--a good deal of the mouse-catching in ancient households being done by tame ferrets or weasels as late, at least, as the days of Petronius (Satyricon, 46). Some prince is accused of stealing gold like a cat (11, 359). A fatal accident is recorded as happening to a partridge which had left its native rocks--perdix graeca therefore, a prettier but less well flavoured fowl than ours--to become the property, the pet, of Agathias Scholasticus. Its head was bitten off by the cat. Both master and a disciple of his bewail the sad event and hurl imprecations upon the assassin, whom Agathias vows he will solemnly slaughter over the mangled corpse of his victim. Here (7, 206) is what Damo-charis, the disciple, has to say--
Companion thou of the man-eating horde; One of Actaeon's hounds, cat most abhorred! Eating Agathias' partridge thou at least Hurt him, thy lord, as if he'd been thy feast. Thy whim's now partridges! Meanwhile the mice Dance, and run off with all thy dainties nice.
They seem to have made no pet of this ailouros, a name derived from its wavy tail, a name which, if not puzzling, would perhaps, be more appropriate for the dog than for our modern cat. Their cats may have resembled the Angora or Persian breed; they were obviously not of the Manx variety. These men kept their eye on caudal appendages: witness the fish silouros, from its habit of shaking its tail as it moves along; the crab (also a kind of fish) pagouros, because its tail is fast; hippouros, the horse-tail fish; irachouros and melanouros, the rough and black tail; lampcuros, the fox with shining tail; skiouros and kampsiourus, the squirrel, the shadytailed one...Arcturus is hardly to the point, nor the pilot Palinurus, nor the thorny plant Paliouros, nor the town Kerkesoura mentioned by Strabo (now Aksas) on the West bank of the Nile.
My friend D. P. Petrocochino of Athens, who kindly encourages such fancies of mine, has collected, with the help of Mr. Philintas (a well-known linguist and contributor to the new Greek encyclopedia), some more of these tail-words, mostly non-zoological, ancient and modern, substantives and adjectives: kynosoura, kolouros, kolobouros, seiouros, kountouros, leukouros, malouros, meiouros, lykoura, lykosoura, ankhouros, sainouros, ouragos, ouriachos, ourakos, ouraios, triko-louros, ouropygion, ophiouros or ophisouros, kakouros, seisoura, platyouros, diouros. The Greek family of Coundoariotis derives its name from a postal service they had, in which short-tailed horses--kountoura aloga--were used.
Modern zoology has invented a few more, such as brachyurus which would correspond to the last-named, and panurus (all-tail: the bearded tit)...
The cat's other name gattos or katta, of Nubian origin
like our "cat", does not occur in the Anthology. The modern gatta is
still no great favourite in Greek households. But I am encroaching on the
province of domestic animals.
Erymanthus was famous for its deer, likewise the Arcadian forest region of Maenalus--the district beloved of Apollo and Pan, now bleak save on the North side, which in the days of our fathers became celebrated for something else as well: the Maenalus fir, that interesting growth which aptly bears the name of the tree-loving Queen Amalia under whose reign it was discovered. There is no mention of Actaeon, but we have an anonymous epigram on a statue of the slaughter by Hercules of the fabled Maenalian hind; Perses tells of the three doughty sons of Leontiades, each of whom shot a stag from horseback in Maenalus and hung up its head in the temple of Apollo.
According to these poets--Xenophon gives more details--deer were hunted with hounds, and killed with spears and arrows, or driven into nets. They were also tracked by their slots in winter, as appears from the following poem by Callimachus (12, 102) which contains a considerable amount of truth--
O Epicedes, through the frost and snow The hunter follows where the hares' runs go, And tracks the slot of hinds. But should one say: "Look! there's one wounded!" for it he'll not stay. Thus too my love. The fleeing he pursues, And that which lies before him he eschews.
Their antlers, like the trophies of other wild animals, were suspended on trees, on the pine, beech, plane, and the juniper "sacred among hunters" (6, 253). This last gives some food for reflection. The tree is called arkeuthos--a name which occurs more than once in these pages; and Theophrastus, our first authority, has described it so well that there can be little chance of identifying it with anything save the modern kentros, juniperus phoenicia, as was done long ago. Now, firstly, I do not remember seeing a juniper of this species--the Syrian juniperus excelsa grows taller--more than thirty feet in height and that not in Greece (one I planted myself, under favourable conditions of soil and exposure, is now nearly twenty), and the trunk is so relatively slender that a stag's head nailed against it would present an absurd spectacle. Not that there is any mention in these poems of a stag's head actually attached to one of them; but this animal constituting the sportsman's greatest prize, it would follow that the favourite juniper was preferred to all other trees. Secondly, I should not call it a forest growth--Theophrastus himself insists upon its fondness for rocks; it avoids those wooded and shady regions which the deer loves. Thirdly, so far as I can recollect, I have never yet seen the natural stump of a juniper--if the poet meant its stump rather than its trunk--great or small. They seem to be not only of uncommonly tough texture, but of uncommonly long life.
I cannot guess the size of the "high-stemmed junipers" mentioned by Philippson (p. 282); my friend Mr. Shirley Atchley of Athens, who has walked over most parts of Greece, tells me that the tallest juniper of this kind which he has ever seen may have been fifteen feet high (some on Parnassus struck me as higher); that, for example, on the foothills of Aigalion opposite Salamis something like a wood of them might spring up, if the plants were left undisturbed; and that Thompson, in his "Flowering Plants of the Riviera" gives twenty feet as its greatest height, and refers to an unusually large -specimen with a trunk three feet in circumference. Both Thisleton Dyer and Sir A. Hort maintain the old identification of arkeu-thos with juniperus Phoenicia.
There, I suppose, we must leave the matter, unless--unless these writers were alluding not to the juniper but to one of the six larger conifers of Greece: abies cephalonica, panachaica and R-Amaliae, and pinus halepensis, laricio and pinea (the former of which were, and still are, known as elate, whereas their other ancient name, peuke, is now applied to the pine--called pitys in antiquity). Firs would be appropriate in relation to the stag, which is the most fir-haunting beast in Europe; they are liable to mortal accidents from snow and wind and--owing to their height--from lightning, when they leave a slowly decaying trunk such as hunters might find convenient for their purpose.
The hunters, yes; the poets, perhaps no; and that is why I dwell on this trifle. We must be on our guard with these poets, and not only in the matter of plants. Exigencies of versification are responsible for some little botanical and zoological confusion in nearly all poetry, and one really cannot expect these charming people to be meticulous about such trifles; they have enough to do avoiding hiatuses and minding their quantities. So one of these epigrams (10, 12) bids the weary wanderer rest his limbs under a juniper, where there was a bench. It is not the kind of tree I should choose for a siesta or under which I should place a bench; its limbs are often so low that one would have to crawl there on all fours. Enough of junipers.
Old huntsmen, grown weary of the chase, dedicate the manifold implements of their calling, including the dogs' collars, to some appropriate deity, as do fishermen and fowlers and other craftsmen--cooks and sailors and schoolmasters and musicians and prostitutes and farmers and blacksmiths and carpenters and eunuchs and soldiers and several more--under the same conditions. Significant reading they make, these little catalogues, for the social history of their day.
The poets of the Anthology draw no clearer distinction as to species than do some of ours. Elaphos = red deer (cervus elaphus); so much is certain. But when (6,336) it receives the epithet balios, dappled, we are to understand, I think, the fallow-deer. This was the common stag of Western Asia and, according to Keller, not found wild in Greece or any other part of Europe in historical times, though it may have existed there previously (Forsyth Major, in his "Tyr-rhenis", marks it down as occurring in Sardinia, Heldreich in Akarnania).
Seeing that a certain proportion of the Anthology poets, some of the best, came from regions East of Greece, we may take it for granted that cervus damn was the deer they had in mind. Indeed, it must have been this species in the case of Phalaecus, unless he was indulging in poetic licence. He speaks (6, 165) of the "spotted (stiktos) skin of a completely flayed achaines". This animal, according to the dictionaries, is the young of the deer at a life-period when it has single points to its horns. Now these points in cervus elephus are not there until the beast is a brocket, in its third year; the spots, on the other hand, disappear in the fourth month after birth. If achaines, therefore, has horns and is still spotted, it must be cervus dama and cannot be the red deer. Sundevall, on the other hand, supported by the evidence of various ancient writers, says that the word achaines applies to the red deer and to no other kind; that it was the deer "common to the Greek landscape of Achaia" (whence the name of that province); and Sundevall's authority counts for much. This is tedious to read, and still more tedious to unravel, but I am going through with it.
The term prox is found, I believe, only once in the Anthology (14, 24). It is taken to mean "Gazelle, or roe". One cannot decide from the context which of these is intended; I should say the latter, or possibly the fawn. The word is allied to prokas.
Dorkas, again (a girl's name in more than one poem), is the gazelle or antelope; and in the case of Nikis the Lybian (Isopsepha of Leonidas of Alexandria), who dedicates to Artemis the weapons wherewith he killed such animals, the gazelle, native of Lybia, may be intended. In most instances dorkas can mean nothing but roe or fawn, although, firstly, it is impossible in any one case to say which of the two is signified, and although, secondly, the correct terms for young deer, nebros and kemas (not hellos), both occur, and will allow conversely of being rendered as roe (cervus capreolus] or even as full-grown red deer. A nebros is described as spotted, stiktos(\\, 40): what are we to make of this? The skins of young deer were often worn, but they are of uniform colour save in those first four months. The passage in question may refer to the fallow-deer--
Cleodemus is still small, albeit this tiny son Of Eumenes to dance with the young boys has begun. Look! Even a dappled fawn's skin has he girded on, And nodding ivy sits his yellow curls upon. Big make him, Theban King, that this wee acolyte May soon the full-grown youths lead in the holy rite!
In short, we cannot definitely say of any of the six names here given to deer (daphos, achaines, prox, dorkas, nebros and kemas) that they apply to one animal and to no other--which is a record in the matter of poetical confusion; a confusion, for the rest, that repeats itself among prose writers, who have no pretext for being inexact in such matters. So Strabo, in speaking of the dorkades as one of the great rarities of Spain, can have been thinking not of the roe nor of the fawn, both of which were common, nor yet of antelopes or gazelles, neither of which existed there, but of the Pyrenean ibex; the "wild goats" of Taygetus mentioned by Pausanias were probably chamois; and Aelian, when he talks of the straight horns which the kemas uses for attacking hunters, must have meant a species of antelope rather than a deer-calf, which has no horns at all.
There are two epigrams about the death of deer, one more strange than the other. The first, by Apol-lonides (9, 244), relates how a herd of deer sought refuge from their snow-clad mountains in the moist warmth of a river and were held fast there, to the delight of the country-folk, by a sudden frost which covered the river with ice. Tiberius Illustrius (9, 370) tells the fate of a dorkas which, escaping from hounds into the sea, is drawn to land by fishermen in their nets; and in Didot III (2, 387) is an epitaph on a hind which was captured in similar fashion. Xeno-phon says that one can sometimes drive stags into the sea, an occurence which is frequently observed, since deer are excellent swimmers. Macedonius has a quatrain (9, 275) about a certain Codrus who caught a swift deer out of the waves of the sea. The myth of Saron is connected with a stag which took to the water of what was afterwards the Saronic Gulf; he pursued it into the waves and was drowned. Neither stags nor hinds are so lucky nowadays, as can be seen from the following newspaper account (14 November, 1926) which deserves to be rescued from oblivion, testifying, as it does, to the sportsmanlike instincts for which some Englishmen are famed. "Residents at Minehead witnessed a thrilling scene yesterday, when a hind entered the sea near Warren Point, hotly pursued by followers of the Devon and Somerset staghounds. An exciting chase in the surf followed, the huntsmen pursuing the deer in two motor boats. The pursuit continued for nearly a mile before the animal was caught. Ultimately it was landed on the quay and there killed. Many hundreds of people watched the proceedings".
The deer's fleetness of foot is often commemorated; also its longevity, which was supposed to be four times that of the crow, which was nine times that of man. As a matter of fact, forty years appears to be the age-limit of a stag. Out of the shin-bone of the fawn they made flutes, tibiae, which seem to have given forth feeble sounds--whereas Sardinians used to make particularly good ones out of the leg-bones of flamingoes; Pindar's lyre is described (App. Plan. 305) as outringing all the others, even as the Etruscan trumpet outblares this flute--flageolet or pipe, I should say. The skins of deer were worn at Bacchic festivals, and one of the five performers thereat is pictured (9, 603) as holding aloft the body of a stag--rather a cumbrous partner for a dance, since a warrantable English stag weighs, according to the Master of the Devon and Somerset staghounds, between 530 and 580 pounds, and continental ones are a good deal heavier.
Rufinus, alluding to his sudden and almost incredible change of taste in matters erotical, talks of dolphins browsing on the slopes of Erymanthus and deer in the grey billowy ocean (5, 19). Rhianus, like some English poets, uses the word nebros, fawn, in a prettily metaphorical sense (12, 146), while Agathias does the same with dorkas; and Antipater of Sidon credits the hind with horns (6, ni), which would be correct only if he referred to the female reindeer. Of the ordinary stag species, none save the Maenalian hind can lay claim to such an ornament; antlers of gold, into the bargain. The modern Cypriote peasant still has a song about a stag with golden horns (Neo. kellenica, by Prof. M. Constantinides). It is a popular motif--cf. the Golden Ass, the Goose with Golden Eggs, etc. All folklore is saturated with lust of gold and earthly possessions, like the talk of common people in every part of the world.
We might note, since we are on this horny subject, that a couplet of Callicter (11, 5) contains what may be the first allusion in literature to the emblem of complacent husbands, though I cannot guess which animal he had in mind. Moderns prefer the stag; the horns of the goat being already marked down, by Christianity, as a diabolical symbol. Yet the goat was, known in this character to antiquity (aix = a woman of loose life), and this at first sight is odd, considering the strong sexual passions of the male, which suggest jealousy of rivals on his part. Colu-mella clears up the difficulty when he says that the he-goat, by reason of its very amorousness, exhausts its powers at an early age and becomes a spectator of the wife's faithlessness from impotence rather than from indifference. This means nothing more than that it wears its horns, like certain other creatures, not unconsciously, but with open-eyed resignation.
The red deer is now extinct in the Peloponnesus.
There is no mention of the elk, which has been well described by several Greek writers.
Strange that the ibex, a beast famous in antiquity, should be so little noticed by these poets. We have a sepulchral epigram by Erycius (7,397) on a-certain Satyrus who was drowned in a northerly gale off the rocky promontory of Mycale (the mainland opposite Samos, famous for a battle between Greeks and Persians)--Mycale, "where the goats browse"; he uses the term applied to tame goats, but the ibex may be meant, in view of the facts that ancient writers frequently confused the two animals or at least their names, that the district was rugged and wild, and that the ibex is known to have existed all along this coast of Asia Minor, as it still does in parts of the interior--
Poor Satyrus lies not in this tomb, nor yet below This pyre sleeps he, although men may say so. But if you've heard tell of a sea, a bitter sea, Which breaks upon goat-feeding Mycale, 'Tis in that sterile swirl of waters yet I 'm laid, And I there raging Boreas upbraid.
A quatrain by Callimachus (6, 121) may also refer to this beast, since the Cretan archer in question would hardly amuse himself shooting tame goats; it is thus translated in the Loeb Callimachus--
Ye goats of Cynthus, be of good cheer! for now the bow of Cretan Echemmas is laid up in Ortygia in the temple of Artemis--the bow wherewith he made the great hill empty of you. But now he hath ceased, ye goats, since the goddess hath wrought a truce.
His Hymn to Apollo also mentions these Cynthian goats, whose horns were employed for the foundations of Delos.
An indubitable ibex is named only in a quatrain by Simmias (6, 113) relative to an ibex horn which, after being used as a hook for suspending fresh wreaths or some such purpose, was fashioned into a bow by having the tendon of an ox stretched across it. The beast is here given the old name of ixalos, by reason of its almost unbelievable jumping powers (a young one can leap from the ground, without any run, on to a man's head, and stand there fast; old o nes stand fast on four legs, on the upper ledge of an open door). Simmias may have remembered that passage in Homer describing a similar transformation--a passage which led to an excellent little commentary on the part of de Quincey (in Homer and the Homeridae)--
Being one horn of a long-haired Wild ibex, double-horned, With festoons of leafed greenery Was I at first adorned. But fitted by a craftsman's skill For Nichomachus I now Bear the strong sinews on me strung Of a crook-horned cow.
It seems, then, that these cumbersome-looking horns of the ibex were not without their uses. We have already seen them employed in the foundations of an island, as something in the nature of a hat-rack, and as bows. Oppian, furthermore, tells us that the animal breathes through them, and that if you close their orifices with wax, it is suffocated (Archelaus, quoted by Varro, says that goats respire through their ears). They are useful, fifthly, as an aid to locomotion; according to Pliny, the ibex throws itself on its horns which, being elastic, enable it to hop about from place to place:--a performance that must be pretty to watch. They were also considered valuable, even in antiquity, as a protection against evil influences. Seventhly, Conrad Gesner says that the animal employs them to ward off falling stones. This is not as unlikely as it sounds.
The ibex seems never to have been an inhabitant of Greece proper, though there is some confusion between it and the chamois, which still lives in parts of that country (Heldreich) such as Parnassus and Olympus. Crete was, and is, famous for the beast, and here the old belief of the wounded ibex curing itself with the juice of a certain herb has not yet died out. It lingers also on certain of the islands--lingered, at least, in the days of Erhard who has a lengthy disquisition on the subject and found, in the islet of Antimelos, a new variety which he called Aegocerus pictus.
As this animal, soon to be extinct in Europe, played such an important role in the decorative art not only of the Anthology regions but of countries further east, I will draw attention to what may be a plastic representation of it which, by some chance or other, has survived to this day in the potteries--established God knows when--of the little town of Vietri near Salerno. The very name of this place (vetus, cf. Orvieto) testifies to its antiquity; its historian Casaburi has unearthed an authority who claims that it was founded in 1243 B. C.; seven hundred years later may be the approximate date, and here is what Cluver has to say: Marcinae oppidum illud est quod nunc Veteri diciiur ipso nomine antiqui-tatem suam indicans. Veteri or Vietri lies on an old, a prehistoric, trade-route; its glazed tiles etc. have always been in highest repute. Among the animal forms still manufactured there may be found also the sag, a beast which has not been heard of in those regions for many long centuries--for a thousand years, I should say.
This figure of an ibex, conventionalized and indeed comical as it is, and measuring only 8 1/2, centrimetres from nose to tail, bears a sufficiently close resemblance to some that were done in antiquity (see, for example, Imhoof-Blumer, Plate XVIII. 22). It is here modelled in the act of sniffing the wind--a characteristic pose, according to observers; I will add, as a curious coincidence and as nothing more, that on its horns are painted eighteen rings, which happens to be the precise number of those on a full-grown ibex whether from Crete or from the Alps. (Scaliger says their number sometimes reaches twenty-four, but I have never heard this corroborated).
Now there are no ancient or mediaeval references whatever, not a single one, to the occurrence of this beast in Italy south of the Alps--though it was i mported in large quantities for beast-shows: 200 at a time, by Gordian--and therefore, while it may be gratifying to re-discover an animal in a country where it never existed, it would be more to the point if one could elucidate how this traditional image of it came to reach Vietri. O. Keller (p. 48) tells us that the ibex found its way, as vase-decoration, "a hundred and a thousand times" from the Phoenician factories into Western Europe, to Veji and other places. This may supply a key. Or the figure may represent the bezoar-goat, which lived even on Mount Soracte (Varro).
I observe that the Vietri caricature--such it almost is--possesses no beard; in ancient art the animal is sometimes portrayed thus, though the Alpine ibex alone lacks, or nearly lacks, this ornamental distinction. The horns are made to touch the tail; this is likewise no novelty in art, and in the present case, without a doubt, is the potter's device for diminishing risk of breakage. For the same reason the two horns both of ibex and stag are merged together so as to form a single one.
Far from quarrelling with any one who prefers to interpret the figure as that of a common goat, I will present him with the information that old Mar-cina seems to have been famous for a sanctuary of Priapus. There may be some connection between the two; there ought to be. No self-respecting goat, however, would be seen in public without its beard; and I should add that among the Vietri figurines are orthodox goats in various poses, with truthfully fashioned horns.
Wild boars were a nuisance to the crops and vineyards, as they still are in regions where they abound; nuisance, indeed, is an inadequate term, seeing that they can annihilate in a single night all the work of the farmer and his hopes for the whole year. Their numbers in Greece proper must have shrunk conside-rably; I have heard of them in the lonely Geranean mountains, and a few are said to survive in Euboea; lack of water and thickets sends them in search of new quarters. The best time for destroying the boar singly--that is, unless they are driven--is in earliest morning, "fresh from its lair in the thick undergrowth", as Paulus Silentiarius says; German sportsmen know well the importance of encountering the beast in the timid stage, that is, before it has had time to void its bladder.
There is mention of a boar striking its tusks into a ram which was about to butt a child with its twisted horns (9, 240). Then, as now, boars were renowned for their savage and reckless bravery; a special breed of hounds--it is mentioned by Philippus--was employed against them, since they put to flight the ordinary sheep-dogs--which, by the way, cannot have been of the Molossian race, as they should. Xenophon names four different breeds of boar hounds, and it is sad to think that the last boar, and the last deer, have now been extirpated in Elis, his home. We read of a live boar sacrificed to Artemis the huntress; I see no mention of boar's flesh as an article of diet, excellent food as it is, when prepared according to my recipe. In later times, under the Romans, these animals were kept in parks for the sake of their flesh; they came to be fed to the sound of a trumpet, as I have seen done in India.
Famous boar-hunters, such as Polyaenus and Xe-nophilus, dedicate to sylvan gods the trophies of their chase, the animal's feet or its hide (6, 34)--
This club, this bow, and these boar's feet here now Polyaenus as a gift to Pan doth vow;
Quiver, dog-collar, to the mountain's lord, His thanks for good boar-hunting to record. Hill-scouting Pan! To Symylas' son this grace In future grant, of good luck in the chase.
These trophies were suspended on appropriate trees, like deers' antlers; and Lucilius (ir, 194) contrives a solemn skit after this fashion about a certain boar-hunter who, enraged at being unsuccessful with both hounds and spear, hangs up, as an offering to the woodland deities, the hounds themselves--
To the hill-haunting Nymphs,cave-loving Pan, The grot's blest Hamadryads, Satyr clan, Having no luck with either hound or spear, Marcus the dogs themselves hath hung up here.
We have the unavoidable reference to Hercules and the Erymanthian boar. The feat of Admetus in yoking a lion and boar to his chariot is alluded to (9, 466); there is also a poem by Archias describing a bronze effigy of the CalydonSan boar, that monster large as a bull and with tusks like those of an elephant, which ravaged the land till Meleager and a chosen company of heroes and heroines put an end to it. The tusks and skin were at first preserved, like any other precious relic, in the shrine of Artemis at Tegea; then Augustus, who had a weakness for such curiosities, caused one of the teeth--the other was broken--to be transported into a temple of Bacchus at Rome. Pausanias tells us that its length was half a fathom. The hide, meanwhile, remained in the museum-shrine at Tegea, where that traveller saw it in a sadly decayed condition and deprived of all its bristles, as it may well have been after a thousand years or more.
Now had this skin been a saintly relic deposited in some Roman Catholic church, it would have been kept up to date and periodically renewed--a system which is more spectacular but less conformable to reason, and which therefore furnishes a microscopic illustration of the difference between the religion of Hellas and that of Saint Peter.
POSTSCRIPT. A friend who has glanced through the MS of what has gone before, writes to say that the allusion to my recipe for boar's flesh is "tantalizing"; he would like to know "more details". The dish is not likely to appear on an English table, but it is no professional secret. Of course you can make an appetizing ragout of boar in almost any way: preferably salmi. What I was thinking about, however, was something distinguished:
Trim a saddle of boar and give it a good shape; salt and pepper it, and steep it for 12--14 hours in one litre of dry white wine, together with the following seasoning:
100 grammes chopped onions
2 heads of garlic
1 head of celery cut in slices
1 bay leaf
10 grammes black pepper
a pinch of parsley and thyme.
The saddle should be turned at frequent intervals, to absorb the ingredients.
Now braise it in a stewpan over a slow fire together with the above vegetable seasoning, adding 100 grammes of butter. Baste the saddle with the liquor in which it was lying, and, when this is at an end, with jus de viande. The operation should take about two hours, according to the size of the saddle. Then remove from the fire and strain through a sieve the liquor in which it was lying.
The following hot and thick sauce must meanwhile be held in readiness:
Put 30 grammes of sugar into a saucepan and melt brown over the fire; then add a claret-glass of wine-vinegar and bring to the boil. Now add the above strained liquor, together with 25 grammes of roasted pine nuts, 20 grammes each of dried raisins, candied citron peel cut into small squares, and currants (the latter having previously been soaked in water), and 100 grammes of best powdered chocolate. Stir well over the fire. If not sufficiently thick, a little potato flour should be added.
Serve both as hot as may be. The saddle must be cut in slices immediately, and the sauce poured over the whole. A single non-assertive vegetable, such as puree of chestnuts or lentils--not mashed potatoes: they have no cachet--should be served with this, and a rough red wine will be found to marry well with the rather cloying sauce.
"Not a dish for every day", some one may remark. Assuredly not. The longer one lives, the more one realizes that nothing is a dish for every day. And if anybody will take the trouble to dress a saddle of mutton in the same manner, he will be pleasantly surprised at the result. But I fear we shall go on roasting the beast to the end of time.
The wild bull, the largest European animal, the urus of Caesar, and possibly the bison as well, are referred to more than once--in some noteworthy lines (6, 332) by the Emperor Hadrian, for instance, which recount how Trajan offered to Zeus part of the booty he won from the Getae in Hungary, including the horn of a wild bull, bous ouros, artfully wrought about with glittering gold.
And three poets--Antipater, Samus, and Philip of Thessalonica--sing the praises of the King of Macedon, who killed a monster of this kind by transfixing its forehead with his spear in the mountain range of Orbelus, now Perim Dagh; the monarch dedicated its hide and vast horns to Hercules, aptly enough, since he traced his own descent from that heroic race. They speak of it as bous, an ox; and Philip says that the horns measured fourteen palms in length.
Addaeus, furthermore, tells of a certain brave Peukestes who, in the same geographical region, at Doberus, encountered on horseback a wild bull--he calls it tauros, a bull--which hurled itself at him like a mass of rock. He drove his spear into the soft temples; and ever afterwards, in memory of this exploit, "quaffs wine out of its horns" (9, 300)--'
On horseback stout Peucestes the bull met As from Doberus glen in wild onset It crashed its bulk. Quick his Paeonian spear He hurtled through its tender temples sheer. Taking the horns as trophy, from out them he Quaffs wine, and vaunts o'er his dead enemy.
This last is quite a Nordic touch. It also suggests, though it does not prove, that the beast in question was not the bison but once more the urus, whose horns were of great length and are described by Caesar as being encircled with silver at the rim and used at drinking-bouts instead of tankards; an inference which is supported by a passage in Herodotus, to the effect that the horns of Macedonian wild bulls were exported to Greece. But the European bison, the bonasos of Aristotle and vison of Latin writers and Wisent of Germans, whose horns were so short that nobody would think of exporting them, though it boasted of a shaggy mane, occurred likewise in these same regions--occurred so frequently that they were called "Paeonian oxen" according to Pau-sanias, who adds that they are the most difficult of all animals to take alive, because no net is strong enough to withstand their charge. The Bistonian district of Thrace (= Bisontonian) derives its name from them, as does the modern town of Besanaon and several others. Oppian describes this Bistonian race as terrible beasts resembling oxen, with manes like lions, and pointed, crooked horns wherewith they toss men and animals into the air; and Solinus contradistinguishes them from the urus. Homer's boagrios seems to have been a bison rather than a urus.
These two species, spread over a considerable part of ancient Europe, were in great request at beast-fights. There is an inscription in three Greek hexameters still extant--not in the Anthology--on the death of some toreador of antiquity who, after killing many wild bulls in the stadium, at last fell a victim to one of them. The Planudean Appendix contains an anonymous epigram on a statue depicting the combat of Theseus and the Bull of Marathon--a dim memory, maybe, of pre-historic days when these animals were still to be found in Greece itself. This is likely enough, since remains of their ancestor, bos primigenius, have actually been found in that country, near Megalopolis (Heldreich p. 6). I cannot guess whether wild or tame bulls are intended in that poem (9, 543) on the mounted Thessalian bull-fighters who used no weapons save their hands; probably the latter. In this case, it is the same exhibition as the "rodeo" recently produced in London--
The Thessalian bull-fighters' well-mounted bands Go out to meet the beasts with no arms in their hands, But spurring on beside the coursing bull they bend Over, and round his head like noose their arms protend; With this their supple grasp they bring his high crest low, And even such a mighty brute upon the ground they throw.
O. Keller has gone into the question of these two races of wild cattle with his usual heart-rending thoroughness. He gives documentary evidence to show that both of them lingered up to the tenth century and later, their flesh being eaten as late as the eleventh; then the urus became gradually absorbed into the descendants of its own ancestors, namely, into tame cattle (it was the link between them and bos primigenius); while the bison, less tractable, died out everywhere save in the Causasus and the Lithuanian forest of Bialystock where, to my own knowledge, it was protected thirty years ago.
Fired by Keller's example, I have collected the following further notes on these beasts, which may be of use to some student. As more of a curiosity than anything else may be mentioned the fact that Olaus Magnus, who died in 1558, names the "black urus"--it was not black--among the animals of Scandinavia. That is in the Introduction to his seventeenth chapter. He seems to have thought better of it, for in the following chapter, where the description ought to come, there is no mention of the animal. He is not always reliable.
According to Gasparus Schottus' Physica Curiosa, 1667, p. 807, descriptions both of urus and bison are to be found in Laurentius Surius (better known as Lipomanus) who is said to contradistinguish between them and to declare that both still occur in Lithuania. I leave it to others to go through the ponderous folios of this hagiologist.
Prof. Sernander of Upsala kindly tells me that one of the latest reliable accounts of the urus living in Poland is to be found in Sigismund Heberstein's Moscoviter wunderbare Historien, Bale, 1567; that Mr. N. O. Hoist, writing in the Proceedings of the Stockholm Geological Society in 1889, mentions a specimen of the urus--perhaps the last--which was shot in Masovia in 1620; and that Adam of Bremen's account of both these species living in Sweden, regarded as trustworthy by Keller (p. 60), is open to grave question. In this he is supported by the well-known zoologist W. Leche, whose article in the Swedish encyclopedia runs to the effect that big herds of uruses arrived in the Scandinavian peninsula after the end of the ice age, but did not survive there up to the bronze or even later stone ages, though their bones have been found together with flint implements of earlier periods.
The present South European buffalo has nothing to do with either of these. It came to us from the East about 600 A. D. But it was known already to Aristotle, if Aubert and Wimmer are right (as I think they are) in identifying his bous agrios with this buffalo.
Since we are in relatively boreal regions, what of the Scythian Ass (Jacobs' Appendix, 324) whose marvellous horn, a godlike ornament, was dedicated to Paian by Alexander of Macedon? Have we here a fragment of a unicorn such as, in England, the tusk of the narwhal, known as monoceros to mediaeval writers, was thought to be? Keras is the word used; an uncompromising one; it means a horn; indeed, the Greek and English words are etymologically one and the same. And if it could be tortured into signifying the horny substance of the hoof, such as every ass may be supposed to possess--well, then the article in question, a donkey's hoof, whether Scythian or not, would hardly constitute a decorous gift for a reigning monarch to present to the Physician of the Gods.
And the word employed for ass is equally unequivocal: kanthon, that is a common pack ass. A horned pack ass, in short. Or a unicorn?
There is a good deal of ancient unicorn-literature extant: I will try to sum it up in a few words. The horse or ass element of this beast is almost submerged in some old writers, who overload their monoceros under a mass of fantastic items as to its moral and physical attributes. Others, such as Phi-lostratus, seem to have had the rhinoceros in mind, whereas Solinus distinguishes one from the other. Two of the best describers of antiquity or of any age, Herodotus and Aristotle, have left us the most convincing and the simplest statements as to the mono-ceros. The former locates its home in Africa; he has been followed by many others, such as John Leo; the latest reliable account of its existence in that continent dating from 1849 (see P. H. Gosse, The Romance of Natural History, p. 289). Aristotle and his Indian Ass, and Aelian and his Scythian Ass (which holds in its horn the water of the Styx), followed by the trustworthy Abbe Hue and a good many more recent writers--Prejevalski has a questionable reference--speak of it as inhabiting not Africa but Asia; that is, China, Tartary, Thibet and "India", which used to be a much looser term that it now is, almost as loose as " Scythia " itself.
Perhaps European Scythia is here meant. In t hat case, it is gratifying to find this splendid and u ncommon beast so near home.
I must leave the reader of the epigram to decide for himself whether it be a question of a genuine monoceros, or of an "honest Indian ass, going for a u nicorn"; he can take his choice of entering the domain of mythological (or extinct, or yet undiscovered) animals, or of domestic ones. The following is the close Latin rendering in Didot (III, 1, 99):
Tibi hocce Alekander Macedo cornu dedicavit, Paean,
asini Scythici, rem quamdam mirabilem,
quod Stygis puro Luseidis non domitum est
liquore, sustinuitque aquae robur.
The mention of unicorns reminds me that there are singularly few epigrams dealing with fabulous creatures of this kind and their histories and transformations, which are such a charming ingredient of Greek mythology. And those we have--on the Centaur, Minotaur and suchlike--are devoted for the most part to describing works of art. Here is a whole world of wonder left unexploited. The tragela-phos is once named (Didot III, 5, 65).
The hare, lagos or plox (because it cowers), is often named as one of the chief objects of the sportsman. It was tracked with hounds--of two kinds, says Xenophon; a farmer knocks out its brains with a stone, because it was seen nibbling his grapes; hunters caught it in snares and complicated nets; they also had a special staffer club for throwing at hares, the so-called lagobolon. We have a reference (App. Plan. 358) to a bronze statue of Pan, patron of hunters, clothed in a skin--he preferred that of the lynx--and holding in his hand two of these throw-sticks, an important missile once upon a time. The invention of gunpowder has sent them out of fashion, and I, for one, should be glad to know what the precise shape of such implements used to be. Xenophon only mentions the weapon without describing either it or the method of throwing; he says it should be held high.
Any stick, may be good enough to beat a dog with, but some sticks are obviously better than others for casting at hares with intent to kill or wound them. What kind of stick? Scholars have presumably thrashed the matter out; by no means to my satisfaction, if we are to take as an example Smith's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities which tells us that this lagobolon was the same as the Greek korune. and the Latin pedum, a shepherd's crook. Rich's Antiquities is somewhat more explicit and convincing; Dar-ernberg and Saglio's dictionary does not contain the word.
The korune, like the Arab matraque of today and the kalaurops of Homer (which is mentioned at least twice in the Anthology, 6, 106 and App. Plan. 74, whereas the word chaios does not occur) seems to have served three purposes: as a weapon of offence, for throwing at sheep etc. with a view to guiding them, and for catching them by the leg or the neck. While therefore such a contrivance might be preferable to no stick at all, the experience not of Theocritan neatherds but of professional sportsmen must have suggested something more adapted for the particular purpose of killing hares. They are easily disabled, once hit; and whoever wishes to manufacture a serviceable lagobolon will perhaps begin by shortening the korune and making it lighter, so that two or more can be conveniently carried about by one person. He will also place the curve nearer the centre; see 6, 296, where it is called gyron, rounded; Theocritus calls it rhoikon, crooked, and Oppian har-palagon, which seems to mean the same thing. I daresay he would give the missile a flattened construction on the principle of the boomerang or maple seed, in order to facilitate that whirling motion on which its success would largely depend, and which seems to have been in the mind of Agis (6, 152) when he calls the lagobolon winged or feathered, ptenon. I should be inclined to stain it to a bright colour; this would minimize the chance of loss among thick grass or brushwood. In any case, no attention need be paid, I think, to the fact that korune and lagobolon are actually treated as synonyms on occasion, since we may take it for granted that the latter began by being a specialized variety of the former, fashioned to a certain end--that of killing hares, for which the korune was found to be relatively unfitted. A modern instance: golfers might have something to say if one gave them an instrument like the "club" of Hercules to play with.
Canon Tristram describes the throw-stick still used in the East as "about eighteen inches long and half an inch in diameter, which is hurled with a revolving motion so as to strike the legs of a bird as it runs, or, more frequently, at a little higher elevation, so that when the game, alarmed at the approach of the missile, begins to take wing, it is struck and slightly disabled. The pursuers let fly a rapid succession of sticks"...My friend Mr. Atchley writes: "I have never heard of any one's using a lagobolon. I agree that a shepherd's crook would have small chance against a hare. Possibly the crooks were shorter and heavier in those days, something more like the cudgels or hockey-sticks shown in the recently discovered hockey relief in the museum here. They are there represented as knotted crooked cudgels, and personally I should prefer such a weapon for use if my dinner depended on my first catching my hare and then cooking him". So much for lagobolon. I find no record here of that artful method of calling up the hare by means of a special whistle, which I have seen practised in some of the islands and which was in use round Athens in the days of Chandler.
There is an epigram by Philippus of Thessalonica (6, 92) on a certain goldsmith who, grown shortsighted with age, dedicates to Hermes the implements of his calling, among them being the hares' pads with which he was wont to gather up the shavings. And Me-leager (7, 207) has written a lament on a pet leveret which the fair-skinned Phanion cherished in her bosom and reared so lovingly that it died of over-eating, fattened by too many dainties, and was buried close to her couch in order that, dreaming, she might always think of its grave close at hand--
Me yet a baby leveret did they wrest Swift-footed, long-eared, from my mother's breast; In her sweet bosom Phanion sheltering Reared me on all the flowerets of the spring. No more I wept my mother, yet I died From surfeit of the too rich feast supplied. Beside her couch I'm buried, so that she Ever in dreams my grave near by may see.
The wounded Hector is made to compare himself to a dead lion insulted by hares; he was thinking of the Latin proverb "mortuo leoni lepores insultant". Rabbits or "Spanish hares" are not mentioned, although they were well known, Polybius having left us an adequate description of them which takes note of their burrowing propensities. These propensities gave rise to a notable rabbit-plague in antiquity; Pliny and Strabo tell of an embassy sent to the Emperor Augustus by the Balearic islanders complaining that the beasts undermined houses and trees till they fell down, and asking for the help of the military to cope with them. Ferrets were employed against them, as today.
Erhard gives a coloured map which shows the singular distribution of hares and rabbits throughout the Cyclades. Strange that he should have overlooked the existence of the latter quadruped on Santorin; perhaps the pest was introduced on that island after his death. He says that the Cyclades rabbits sometimes surpass in size the average hare, and that the natives prefer their flesh to that of the other. De gustibus...
The word dasypous is not found in the Anthology.
The treatise on Hunting ascribed to the Oppian of the Halieutica tells us a good deal about hares; among other things, that they run faster in winter than in summer. We have an eight-line poem in honour of this book (Didot III, 3, 142).
The list of the remaining wild animals is not a long one, for the Anthology poets have found no occasion to mention many other common or conspicuous ones, such as the weasel, fish otter, mole, jackal, or the beaver, well known to the ancients and found at one time on the banks of the Alpheus, or the dormouse--a table delicacy--or that strange hooded seal which attracted much attention in their day.
They did not always distinguish between porcupine and hedgehog, and the pig-element in both these words will demonstrate that moderns are also prone to connect, if not confuse, one with the other. Yet two anonymous epigrams about Comaulus presumably refer to the latter, the true echinos. In the first one (6, 45) he hangs up alive, in honour of Bacchus, a bristling hedgehog which he caught, rolled in a ball, sphairedon, while it was attaching his grapes--
This hedgehog bristling with its pointed spines, Gatherer of grapes and spoiler of the vines, Having caught rolled like a ball his grapes among, Comaulus has alive here up to Bacchus hung.
In the second (6, 169) he detects the beast carrying off grapes on its spines, slays it, and dedicates it once more to Bacchus, because it was stealing his gift to mankind. These are queer statements. I should doubt whether a hedgehog ever ate grapes, even if they grew within its reach, though it may well devour the insects which cluster round the ripe ones. But Pliny repeats the story and, what is more to the point, Lenz adduces modern evidence to the same effect.
There is no reference in the Anthology to the porcupine under its name of hystrix or akanthion (which corresponds to the Italian vernacular substantive "spinoso") or akanthochoiros (pricklepig). Both the latter, by the w.ay, apply likewise to the hedgehog, and the modern Greek skantzohoiros is a corruption of the last of these words. Tristram says that the porcupine exists in Greece. I have never heard of it there, nor does Heldreich include it in his list of native mammals.
"You will never give the prickly hedgehog a smooth coat" (Didot III, 6, 277).
Mice are often named; they are greedy, omnivorous, lovers of darkness, of cheese and figs and bread and meal. They were caught in traps. Ariston (6, 303) accuses them of gnawing his books--a habit of theirs which has been responsible for a good deal of mischief and for the loss of countless valuable documents in days gone by--
Be it for bread, ye mice, you come, elsewhere Then go (my hut houses but scanty fare) Where you shall gnaw fat cheese and dried figs find, Full satisfied when on these scraps you've dined. If on my books again your teeth you whet, Poor feast you'll have, and one you will regret.
There is also a poem (9, 310) about a mouse eating gold-dust--a dinner which proved indigestible and too heavy for its stomach. It was caught and cut open, and the stolen gold recovered, which enables the writer to say that "even to dumb brutes is gold a cause of evil". Theophrastus tells the same story of mice which live in gold mines. And Tullius Sabinus (9, 410) records the impudence of a mouse which gnawed through the string of a lyre. The strained chord rebounded, throttling the mouse; plainly at the inspiration of Apollo, to whom the lyre was sacred. The Anthology contains a goodly number of these elaborate and insipid trivialities, generally with a moral purpose in the background; there seems to have been a craze for them at a certain period.
Lucilius has two mouse-pieces. Macron, a tiny little man, while fast asleep, is dragged by a mouse into its hole. He wakes up and, though unarmed, strangles his enemy, saying: "Father Zeus, here you behold a second Hercules". The other (11, 391) is about a miser--
Miser Asclepiades seeing in his house A mouse, said "Dearest friend, what dost thou here by me?" "Friend, fear thou nothing", smiling sweet replied the mouse, "Not board, but only lodging 'tis, I seek by thee".
We have an enigma (Didot III, 7, 70) on the mouse--an uneatable little beast whose name is formed of three letters; take away the first of them, and you obtain a big eatable one (a pig).
The rat is not alluded to, which need not surprise us, since the popular and poetic mind of Mediterranean countries contents itself with observing the genera of animals; besides, their rat was a small beast. The Italians of today do not distinguish between a mouse and the imposing Norway rat except in scientific treatises, and their word "topo" testifies to a further confusion, being derived from talpa--a mole. So the modern Greek pontikos signifies both mouse and rat.
Bats are twice mentioned; once in a feeble enigma about a "bird which is not a bird, etc.", and again by Nicarchus (n, 96) who complains bitterly at having to eat a dish of ten lean thrushes, which he calls skeletons, bats of the field--
The woes that from Stymphalian Birds Arcadians knew I feel, when these dead thrushes' bones I chew: Like ten dry harpies they, an arid drachma's worth. Out on you, wretched things! Field bats were you by birth.
He seems to have shared the taste of Horace and Martial, both of whom declare thrushes to be a favourite dish of theirs. The birds were fattened in cages by the ancients, and Columella gives the little detail that their food, pounded figs and flour, was sometimes chewed in the human mouth to make it more palatable to them, and that many thrush-owners did this chewing themselves, because men, whom one hired for the purpose, not only charged exorbitant prices, but swallowed a good deal of the birds' sweet food during the operation.
Of exotics, the monkey, pithekos, is named by Lucilius, making fun of a woman called Bito with a snout three times as hideous as that of a monkey, and who is therefore so unutterably chaste that she dare not call herself a virgin; by Palladas, when he tells of a woman that married a great monkey or ape--an ugly and hirsute man, apparently--and produced a numerous brood of little apes; and by Rufinus (5, 76) who talks of an old woman with false hair and a face wrinkled like a monkey's--
Once full like spring her breasts and fair her face, Ankles, height, brow, and hair, all full of grace: But time, old age, grey locks, such change have wrought That of her former self remains now naught. Her hair is false, her face of wrinkles full, No ancient ape could look so horrible.
Elephants (several references) are turreted for warlike purposes and draw the Emperor's chariot; the rhetor Maurus has a proboscis like an elephant.(11, 204). Ivory takes the place of our vulcanite; so in a very curious enigma (14, 55) about a clyster.
There is an allusion (i, 69) to the camel's "not clean body" in a Christian epigram about Rebecca. This has led us to domestic animals once more.
Eagles, the creature of Zeus, the only bird which dwells in Heaven (9, 223), are named in the Anthology over and over again. As emblematic of bravery, this bird, like the lion, was sculptured on the tombs of brave men; its figure on that of Plato (6, 229) represented the aspiring element of his soul, that gazed into the starry home of the gods. This poem has been translated several times--by Shelley, among others. Here is a new rendering--
(a) Eagle! Whose is this tomb, why o'er it hoverest? Why to the gods' starred home is thus thy gaze addressed? (b) I'm Plato's imaged soul, which to Olympus flies, While still in Attic soil his earth-born body lies.
Apollonides hymns the "holy eagle", that fowl of good omen, which perched on the house of Tiberius just before he was recalled from Rhodes; and two epigrams tell of an eagle which, pierced by an arrow from a Cretan archer, fell upon the destroyer in its descent to earth and killed him as well: such was the justice of Zeus. A famous race-horse called "Eagle", which had won many prizes, is described by Archias as now, in old age, fettered with a collar and condemned to turn the rough stone which grinds the corn. There are three oracles which play upon the word Eetion (aietos, an eagle) and foretell what will happen to Corinth when Cypselus, son of Eetion, becomes its tyrant.
The Ganymede escapade is worthily commemorated (12, 221)--
Soar, eagle, soar, to holy heaven convey The boy upon thy pinions twain away: Soar with soft Ganymede, nor let him fall, Page of Jove's sweetest nectared carnival. And, lest the god be grieved, do thou take heed That thy bent claws make not the young lad bleed.
Crinagoras, who always does the right thing, whether he sends flowers with his compliments to the ladies, or flasks of Indian workmanship to gentlemen friends, or pen-nibs to industrious schoolboys, has a polite effusion (6, 229) which accompanies a little Sift of another kind, to wit, a toothpick--a noble toothpick, fashioned from an eagle's quill and dyed to a lordly purple colour: an attractive and efficient implement, very different from what nowadays goes under the name of toothpick in the Mediterranean basin--
This crook-beaked eagle's quill, sharpened by steel, Stained with blue lacquer, which, after a meal, Will deftly with its gentle point remove The fragments that remain in a tooth's groove, Your friend Crinagoras sends, Lucius, to you, Trite festal token, sign of much love too.
The queer word bytsaetos, leather-eagle, is applied to Kleon the tanner in a spurious oracle (Didot III, 6, 208) which tells what will happen when the crook-heaked leather-eagle shall seize the stupid dragon, the blood-drinker, etc.
Nothing of importance is said of vultures. The word aigypios occurs, I think, only once, in an oracle (Didot III, 6, 167) about the aigypios "with bent claws"--its old Homeric epithet--snatching up the cricket, akris, and what will then happen. Aristotle, speaking of this bird, says nothing more than that it fights with the aisalon, falcon, and with the eagle. Aigypios does not represent any particular species. The etymology is doubtful; the word old and poetic, and sometimes applied to the eagle (Thompson).
Gyps is the term generally used for this fowl; it stands for all kinds of vultures, which were commoner in Greece both then and under the rule of the Turks, who appreciated, and doubtless required, their services as scavengers. Lindermayer (1860) says of vullur fulvus that it is so common a summer bird in that country that one can see 20-25 of them sailing about the sky together. Those days are over. Vultures are called eaters of carrion in the Anthology, which is not surprising; there is a flabby enigma about the gyps and its one-syllable name (Didot III, 7, 59); the bird is also hinted at in some lines by Julianus describing a statue of Prometheus. Strato suggests (12, 185) that vultures can eat figs:
Those youths who purple-clad so proud appear, Whom, Diphilus, none of us can get near, Are like ripe figs that on the high cliffs grow, Devoured by vulture only or by crow--
and Lucilius, depicting the shop of a clumsy barber who hacks his clients about with the razor, says that the establishment is already full of flies, and, if he persists at the business, the ravens and vultures will presently arrive.
There is no mention of the lammergeier, whose fateful blunder in mistaking the bald head of Aeschylus for a stone and dropping a tortoise on it, to break the shell, might have appealed to one or the other of these poets. It is still to be seen in Greece, and one of the minor griefs of my life is the loss of a lammergeier's egg from Parnassus which Dr. Kriiper gave me long years ago.
The kite, iktinos, is barely named in Didot III (6, 277) and again by Automedon (u, 324) when he compares to its rapacious claws the hands of a certain Arrius who carries off all the food he can snatch. Some of the qualities attributed by ancient writers to the iktinos seem to me to apply with more propriety to the goshawk or harrier species. Aristotle's iklinos is not described with sufficient clearness to enable us to identify it for certain with the kite. Two other hawks are named, each in a single passage. The kirkos is found in an oracular reply to those who asked concerning Aurelian's expedition against Palmyra (Didot III, 6, 142). They were told that "the kirkos brings vast grief to the doves, one to many; and they shudder at the murderer". Kirkos is a poetic word, applicable to no particular species; the root might lie in the onomatopoeic krizo--from the peculiar cry of certain hawks. The falcon hierax occurs in another oracle (Didot III, 6, 284). This is a generic term and includes all the lesser birds of prey, even as does its modern form geraki.
We have no allusion to other hawk-like birds. Yet all of them must have been commoner in olden times, their rapid flight protecting them against sling-stones and arrows--though not against traps nor yet against birdlime which, according to Demetrius of Constantinople (1270), was employed for catching hawks by the Greek fowlers of his time; so common, maybe, that one took no particular notice of them, as happens in the East today.
Nor is there any mention of falconry, a pastime familiar to Aristotle and others.
I fail to discover more than a single reference (9, 380) to the owl as shops ("if owls can sing like nightingales", etc.) and only one to its other name of glaux, in a sepulchral epigram by Dionysius (7, 716) who says that even this "tearless" bird, the glaux, cannot but lament over the grave of a certain Phaen-ocritus: which is disheartening, when one considers the fame of the owl, past and present--
Too soon, Phaenocritus, and much desired of all Who in Ialysus do sojourn, did'st thou fall In Lethe's sea, after lettered harvesting so brief. Even the tearless owls over thy tomb showed grief. No singer's voice again new races e'er will greet As sweet as thine has done, while men walk on their feet.
Glaux is the little owl, Athene noctua, emblem of old and new Athens; the other, the still smaller Ephialtes scops. The word nykteris, in the sense of owl, occurs is one passage (Didot III. 2, 234).
The little owl has become far rarer on the Akro-polis of Athens than it used to be; and so has the lesser kestrel--both charming and characteristic birds. Perhaps the place is once more accessible to sportsmen like Lindermayer, who tells us that in the space of two hours, and without changing position, he shot fourteen of the latter at its entrance.
Ravens and crows, on the other hand, are frequently named. I take korax to be the former and korone the latter; they are the words applied to these respective fowl in Greece today, and that should suffice; though which of the crow tribe is meant by korone may be left undecided; all or any of them, I should say--not excluding either the hooded crow, a common Mediterranean bird, which seems to be slowly supplanting the carrion crow, or even the raven itself, since the terms are apt to be used indiscriminately by poets, according to the requirements of their metre. They are well defined, however, in the ancient Precepts of Chiron, which lay it down that a crow, korone, lives for nine generations of old men; a stag for four generations of crows; a raven, korax, for three of stags; and the phoenix for nine of ravens. Supposing a man to be old at sixty, the phoenix would therefore--if I can still multiply correctly--live for 58,320 years. Ovid and others cut this figure down considerably.
The old belief that the cawing of crows portends rain is expressed in the epithet ombrophoros (Didot III, 6, 167) applied to them; another epithet is polios (ibid. 6, 278) which, taken in its primary colour-signification of grey, would point to the hooded crow.
The word korakinos occurs once, in a three-line oracle (Didot, III, 6, 284). It means either a young raven or a small black fish of which I have spoken elsewhere (Siren Land, 2nd Edition, p. 167); it may also signify the same as korakias, a chough, alpine or marine. I should think the word, as used in this oracle, might be translated "raven-brood". Didot gives two Latin versions, in the second of which it is rendered as "fish"; here are both of them, and the reader can take his choice:
Ne credas: invidae enim cornices crocitant: at tu accipitrem amare memento, qui tibi adduxit vinctos Lacedaemoniorum coracinos. Ne credas, odio crocitat quae percita cornix: accipitrem sed ama, memor ut Lacedaemone multos egerit ille tibi captos indagine pisces.
We have several jokes about old people living to thrice a crow's age, trikoronos, and two references to white ravens, that is, a prodigy (as we used to talk, in pre-Australian days, of black swans), e.g. in the following anonymous lines (11, 417) in which an elderly woman, who endeavours to gain the favour of a young man, is compared to some one trying to do what is out of the question: discover a white crow--
Acorns from other oaks, Menesthion, go and shake, For wrinkled apples past their season I'll not take. My fruit I've always liked in its best prime to be, As I'm myself: why then a white crow try to see?
Albino ravens were known to Aristotle. White, the original colour of this bird, was changed into black by Apollo, because he was annoyed with it for bringing him some unsatisfactory news about a girl called Koronis, in whom he had taken more interest than may have been needful. Little of note is here said about either raven or crow. Dioscorides applies the term paidokorax, boy-raven, to a shameless youth; Korax was the name of a slave-child, possibly a negro, which broke its neck falling down from a ladder (7, 632). The name Korax was also given--not in the Anthology--to black horses.
The raven is called a devourer of carrion, and Bianor (9, 272) speaks of it as the servant of Phoebus (it afterwards became that of Saint Oswald) in some lines which relate the fable of how a thirsty raven filled up with pebbles a pitcher half full of rain water, till the liquid could be reached by its beak--a proceeding which would surpass the ingenuity of any bird. I daresay this epigram is connected with a pretty old legend to the effect that the raven was condemned by Phoebus, for dawdling on some errand, to everlasting thirst. The origin of the legend may lie in the fact--Oppian gives another explanation--that it likes living in stony, waterless regions; and it requires little sagacity to perceive that such a mode of life proves, not that it is always thirsty, but that it is never thirsty.
With the exception of the Rhodian eagle above-named, I find no reference here to those bird-omens in which the flight of crows figured largely. The Greeks outgrew the augury-nonsense--it is already derided by one character in Homer--more quickly than did the Romans, whose cast of religion was sterner and accordingly less reasonable; the practice was kept up by temple priests whenever possible, as a source of revenue.
Nor is there any hint of those fables wherein the raven also plays a conspicuous part--those fables, I mean, which consist in making birds or beasts talk and act as if they were human beings: a poor form of literature, which crept into Europe from the East where it might well have remained, and whose antiquity is its sole recommendation. Rutherford claims for the fables of Babrius that they are not an importation, but indigenous to Greece. I am sorry to hear it. In this connexion may be mentioned a curious Greek bird-poem in 650 verses by an anonymous writer, presumably of the fourteenth century, to which my friend D. P. Petrocochino has drawn my attention. It is called Poulologos--a talking of birds, a "bird-parliament", and sets forth the tale of a festival given by the eagle in honour of his son's wedding, to which all the birds, about forty in number, are invited. While feasting, they begin to quarrel and abuse each other, till the eagle threatens to send the falcon and the vulture to punish them; they finish proceedings in peace and good humour. The poem, which contains many allusions to contemporary life and events, was first published by W. Wagner with other mediaeval Greek poems in 1874 (Carmina Graeca Medii Aevi. Leipzig, p. 195-198); afterwards in Athens (1897) in the annual of the literary association "Par-nassos", with notes by N. X. Apostolides, Professor of Natural History in the Athens University, who identifies all the birds named and says that the poem reveals a close observation of nature. Among these fowls is included the bat (poutiki).
As to the jackdaw, koloios--it is mentioned in an oracle (Didot, III, 6, 281) and again by Antipater of Sidon (7, 713) who contrasts unfavourably its multitudinous aerial cawing (no unpleasant sound, to my ears) with the soft murmur of the swan; even as the legions of contemporary poets, he adds, are not worth remembering when compared with the scanty but inspired utterances of Erinna. This poem about a muse among the jackdaws may have been suggested by the Greek proverb "jackdaw among the Muses"--
Few are Erinna's lays, nor wordy are her songs, But this her little work unto the Muse belongs. Thus in remembrance she is held, no hidden thing, That the black night conceals beneath its shadowy wing. But we, the countless bards, O stranger, of today-- Our heaped-up myriads in oblivion pass away. The low croon of the swan is better than in crowds The jackdaws cawing far and wide through spring-time's clouds.
The talkativeness of the jay, kissa or kitta, and its gift of imitating human or animal voices, is noted on three occasions, one of them being a lament by Archias (7, 191) over a dead bird of this garrulous kind--
To shepherds, woodmen and to fishers I Of old would often, screeching loud, reply; Oft like some Echo, many-voiced, again, I'd strike with answering bill a mocking strain. Me, tongueless, speechless, on the ground now see, Having renounced my zeal for mimicry.
Kissa is also translated as magpie in the dictionaries, and the modern word karakaxa is similarly applied to both of them on occasion, unlike as they are to each other. A plausible solution of this difficulty is given on p. XLII of B. J. Rogers' Birds of Aristophanes. The jay is the better mimic of outdoor animal voices; in fact, I have never heard a wild magpie, the most familiar of Greek birds, imitate them at all. Plutarch who, like Cicero and other moralists, was not above telling a tall story now and then, relates that a certain barber in Rome owned an unusually intelligent jay, capable of imitating even the sound of musical instruments. Once, during the funeral of a rich man, the procession had a band which included trumpets; they were admirably blown and remained for some little time in the barber's square. From that moment onward the jay was stricken dumb. Neighbours imagined that it had been bewitched by an envious trade-rival of its owner, or that the resounding notes of the trumpets had temporarily deafened it. They were mistaken. The bird was practicing trumpet-notes all by itself. As soon as it had become proficient it gave a perfect reproduction of them in public.
Starlings are the "devourers of seeds", the farmer's curse, pilferers of the country's wealth; they are twice named as such, and they share this distinction with the crane, blackbird and thrush (wild geese might have been included), the crops being protected against their inroads by a man armed with a sling, as in some Oriental regions today. Babrius hints at this custom: "And a lad ran at his heels with a sling. But the starlings from long use would listen if he ever asked for the sling, and made oft before he ever had it in his hand". A certain Alcimenes, while thus engaged, with his eyes in the air rather than on the ground, was bitten about the ankle by a dipsas viper, and perished miserably (7, 172).
The Anthology poets make a clear distinction between the songs blackbird and of thrush; they attach much importance to the former's music and none to that of the thrush which, indeed, is rather a noisy and spasmodic rhapsody. Marcus Argentarius warns the blackbird not to sing on an oak, because it bears the mistletoe, whence they made birdlime; Theocritus hits upon an epithet worthy of himself, poikilotraulos, to describe its variously modulated notes (9, 437), and Rhianus (12, 143) wishes he were that blackbird which, loudly complaining, was held in the hand of one of his favourites--
Dexionicus, grasping blackbird he Had limed and taken in a green plane-tree, Made the holy bird shrill wail and piercing cry. Know, Eros and ye Graces fair, that I A thrush or blackbird in his hand were fain To be, and ease with tearful voice my pain.
He calls the bird hieros, sacred, and a modern commentator suggests that this should read ammoros, luckless. The emendation might be happy, but for the fact that the same adjective is applied to singing birds in two other epigrams as well, by Archias and Antipater of Sidon; and also in the epitaph on the fowler of Melos (see later). The blackbird was doubtless holy, or consecrated to the gods, by reason of its sweet voice. We have no exact equivalent for the word hieros; it is a more cordial term than holy or sacred. In many cases blessed comes nearest to the idea.
Pausanias, who mentions white deer, eagles, hares, bears and even white boars, speaks of a race of white blackbirds on Mt. Kyllene. Strange to say, Lindermayer (p. 86) confirms this. He says "Albino blackbirds are pretty common on the Kyllene range in the Peloponnese, a fact which Aristotle already noticed".
The above-named two poems by Archias and Antipater, as well as a third by Paul the Silentiary, tell how a blackbird escapes miraculously out of a snare, while thrushes are held fast--even dumb traps showing their reverence for songsters. The fact that the voice of the kichle, thrush, was not appreciated at all, and that it seems to have appeared in numbers, offers some ground for the suspicion that these writers may have been speaking of the fieldfare--dictionaries give both meanings--or possibly of the missel thrush, which also moves flockwise and whose song is an indifferent performance. Aristotle has a separate word, trichas, to denote what is unquestionably the song thrush. There is a delightful account of thrush-catching, with snares and birdlime, in the Daphnis and Chloe of Longus. The sport was known to Homer.
Such birds, with us, might be called plunderers of fruit; were we asked to name seed-destroyers we should probably call to mind the finch tribe and the sparrow. Only three finchlike birds are named in the whole Anthology, each of them only in a single passage; and their three names may well stand for a single species, namely, the goldfinch, which eats not seeds but thistle-down and suchlike. This corroborates so far as it goes (it is not far) a theory of mine to the effect that seed-eating' birds have increased of late both in actual numbers and in breadth of range: the Southern ones, like the serin, spreading to the North, and certain others, like the redpoll, southwards.
The first of these three birds is the akanthis. It is mentioned in a. poem (5, 292) to which I shall recur later, when speaking of the tree-frog; it "twitters shrilly". Akanthis is generally rendered as goldfinch; Didot translates it thus (carduelis]; Sundevall suggests the linnet, and modern naturalists have given the name akanthis to the whole linnet-tribe. It seems to me that Bikelas is right in identifying the akanthis with the siskin, still called skathi--a noticeable little spring visitor, more noticeable than the linnet. The ahanthis of Aristotle is "poorly coloured"; it cannot therefore be the goldfinch, which also does not "twitter shrilly", whereas the siskin does.
The second of them is the akanthylis. "The akanthylis sings more sweetly": this occurs in a summer-song (Didot III, 3, 189) written in imitation of those earlier ones by Meleager and others. D'Arcy Thompson takes it to be the goldfinch in all probability; Didot once more renders carduelis. What Aristotle says as to its nest, however, inclines others to believe it may be the long-tailed tit. These are his words: "The nest of the akanthyllis is artfully constructed, for it is woven together like a flaxen globe (sphaira), having a small entrance".
The third is the mythical akalanthis (Didot III, 6, 277). It figures in some lines from Aristophanes' Peace which are full of zoological conundrums, and that particular line is pure nonsense: "When the bell-akalanthis (? bell-voiced) in a hurry brings forth a blind brood". Dictionaries render akalanthis as synonymous with akanthis, that is, goldfinch or linnet. The word is found in Vergil's Georgics and is usually translated as goldfinch.
Be these three birds what they may--and Warde Fowler is inclined to identify all of them with the warbler rather than the finch tribe--it is certainly surprising that a species so common as the goldfinch, of such bright coloration and pronounced habits, so marked and popular a bird, in short, should be not clearly defined by Aristotle. Two vague ones of his suggest the goldfinch, and not only by reason of their significant names: the poikilis which is at enmity with the lark (? because both goldfinch and lark are lovers of open spaces), and the chrysometris which lives on thistledown.
And although the early-chattering swallow is more than once alluded to, there is no talk whatever of that pest, the early-chattering sparrow. Yet they ate the sparrow and studied its habits; they noted its amorous propensities and distinguished between the house and the tree sparrow (Alexander the Myn-dian, quoted by Athenaeus). One would like to know when this horrible little fowl began to attach itself to mankind, ousting, with its pertinacious vulgarity, so many more attractive ones. Some of those mentioned in early literature, beginning with the Bible, may not have been sparrows at all but the passer solitaries, the rock thrush. Homer's "sparrow" was any species of small bird, even as modern Italians speak of "passerotti" in exactly the same sense. I shall risk no opinion as to the species of Lesbia's pet; certain it is that sparrows are reared in cages to this day for the sake of their song. And when taken young out of the nest and so kept apart from the crowd of their fellows--and not over-fed, else they burst inside--they do begin to strike up a little tune of their own (I have heard it) and to conduct themselves after the reasonable fashion of other birds; they unlearn their gregariously screeching habits, even as men might do, if they were brought up among surroundings that foster more self-respect.
Though the ancients had a great affection for both nightingale and swallow, and bound one to the other by a complicated and tragic association, I find nothing here of outstanding merit on either of these birds. Northern poets have sung of the former with more depth of feeling than have those of the Anthology, who content themselves for the most part with similes, or with references to the tale of Procne and Philomela (such as 9, 451 and 452)--a domestic scandal which puts the claim of these birds to our sympathy on a broader and, so to speak, humanitarian basis; it would have us love their music not for its sound alone but for its sad legendary memories as well.
Christodorus says that a nightingale settled on the lips of Stesichorus at birth (to explain the melodiousness of his verse); Herodotus is described as the "inspired nightingale of Halicarnassus"; Alcman is also compared to this bird; Nossis speaks of the comic writer Rhintho as a "small nightingale of the Muses"; a mother too bereaved of her six children mourns like a "nightingale on the grave-stones"; in the well-known lines by Callimachus the poems of Heraclitus are called "Nightingales", and Marianus Scholasticus tells of the nightingales and cicadas answering each other in a famous pleasaunce called Eros.
The song of this bird, as well as that of the swallow, is likened (for instance, in 6, 247) to something not very intelligible--the regular noise made in weaving by the kerkis, which small dictionaries translate as "the weaver's comb, the shuttle containing the spindle". I should observe that these are two quite different objects, and that with old-fashioned looms, whether high-warp or low-warp, I have never heard any noise save the irregular creaking of the woodwork. Be that as it may, no modern poet would contrive such a metaphor, nor dream of bringing what seems to have been a purely mechanical sound into connection with the music of any song-bird. That the nightingale's voice, in spite of its beauty, can become a source of annoyance by driving away sleep, is discovered--not for the first time, I should think--by an anonymous writer (12, 136); he inveighs against the nocturnal concert of these birds, which he calls "talkative women" in allusion to Philomela, and in disregard of the fact that the male alone is responsible for the uproar--
Ye chattering birds, why clamour so? Don't vex Me as I lie warmed by my love's soft skin: Leaf-loving nightingales, loquacious sex, Sleep quietly, I beg, and cease your din!
I delay a moment, to refer to what might be said of the danger of diluting the "epigraphical flavour" of such poems. In the version just quoted the quatrain is translated as I think it should be. Here is another rendering, printed some twelve years ago in London, in which that pitfall of redundancy has not been avoided--
Ye chattering birds, O why disturb my rest, AVhile I am lying nigh the tender breast Of my dear lad? I pray ye cease to vex: Though, songsters by the ivy hid, the female sex May always chatter loud, 1 pray that ye Will cease your song and bring back peace to me.
If Simmias of Rhodes be author of the lines known as the "Dorian Nightingale's Egg" (15, 27) and others of that kind, he is a literary phenomenon; the precursor of those later poets who indulged in similar vers figures. He cut his poems into the shape of what they described, besides inventing other complexities which make them read like nonsense until you hit upon the key. This particular freak of his imitates with success the form of a nightingale's egg; it contains approximately the same amount of substance.
The swallow was to the ancients what the robin is to us. Its friendliness to man, its graceful shape and movement, its cleverness at nest-building and charming home life--they were all lovingly observed; besides and beyond all this, it was the herald of spring. The swallow-song preserved by Athenaeus is among the happiest inspirations of bird-poetry. Here, in the Anthology, there is nothing like this, save the playful and neatly turned lines (4, 122) to a swallow which are attributed to Evenus--
Child of Athens, honey-nurtured, wouldst thou for thy feathered brood A prattling cicada capture, feasting them upon such food? Shall garrulous on garrulous, winged on the winged prey, And shall the guest of summertime be summer-guest's purvey? (A new substantive. No matter!) Wil'st thou not drop it instantly? Neither just nor meet this wrong That singer's mouth should swallow up another skilled in song.
This poem has been happily paraphrased by William Cowper. I prefer the above version; it is closer to the original. We have a fine quatrain, moreover, by Mnasalcas on that deplorable little affair of Tereus, and another (9, 57) by Pamphilus--
Why all day long, Pandion's ill-starred child, Dost twitter mournfully? Is this thy plaint Grief which thou feelest that thou wert defiled By Thracian Tereus, using dire constraint?
Two other poets, Leonidas of Alexandria and Philippus, write of a swallow which has dared to build its house in the corner of a picture of Medea, murderess of her children; they warn it to forsake the accursed spot. Agathias, in some tearful lines about his beloved Rhodanthe (5, 237), complains, like the writer in the Anacreontea, of the chatter of these birds which keeps him awake in the early dawn.
The ancients seem to have taken little account of the swallow's value as insect-destroyer.
Turning to other birds, we find the conspicuous hoopoe not exalted as it is elsewhere. Its rocky abode is mentioned (it nests in crevices and tree-holes) by Agathias, in the tearful verses above referred to; and the bird re-appears in a ten-line poem about two men who consult it in its human character of Epops (Didot III, 3, 89). I can find nothing more about the hoopoe.
There is an interesting epigram (5, 205) on the figure of a wryneck, jynx, engraved upon an amethyst and set in gold as a love-charm. The real bird was subjected to this indignity, and the charm became operative when it was spread out upon a wheel so that its wings and feet should form the four spokes; this was the magical wheel which, on being spun round to an incantatory song, had compelling powers and was employed for recovering unfaithful lovers. The practice, for which there was a technical expression, is mentioned more than once in ancient literature; for the first time, I believe, by Pindar: "And there the Queen of keenest darts, the Cyprus-born, first brought to men from Olympus the frenzied bird, the speckled wryneck, binding it to a four-spoked wheel without deliverance, and taught the son of Aison to be wise in prayers and charms etc." I am not sure whether the writer of this poem was referring in line 2 to boys or girls; the potency of the charm may have been such as to lure brides from their nuptial chambers, or little children out of the women's apartments, or as translated here (Didot's Latin version has putros)--
Niko's wryneck, which can draw from over-sea A man, or boys from their shy privacy, Carved in clear amethyst, with a gold border round, And in soft flocks of purple lamb's wool bound, The witch of Larissa to thee, Kypris, presents, To be one of thy treasured ornaments.
According to Kruper, the wryneck is a rare bird in Greece and Asia Minor. I have seen it on the islands during migration, but not on the continent. "Not rare in olive groves", says Lindermayer.
The woodpecker, under the somewhat unusual appelation of dryokolaptes, figures in an oracle (Didot III, 6, 278).
Both the cuckoo and the lark are described as poor songsters (9, 380), which sounds less strange when we realize that the commonest Greek lark is the crested kind. Aesop credits this bird with cunning, and Antiphilus in the following lines with simplicity (5, 307): neither of them is wrong--
By Sparta's stream, the Eurotas, with naught on Stands Leda, near her Zeus disguised as swan. Love-laggard I, what bird must I change to, With Zeus a swan? Perhaps a lark would do.
A parrot is hymned in some fulsome verses (9, 562) by the courtly Crinagoras--so loyal a parrot that, having learnt to say "Hail" to the Emperor, it taught the wild woodland fowls to do the same--
A parrot, bird that can Talk with the voice of man, Leaving his wicker cage Spread out towards the woods his gay plumage. And as he'd always been Assiduously keen To greet great Caesar's name, Upon the hills he did it just the same. The birds, anxious to learn, With rivalry then burn, Striving who first should be To cry "Hail" unto the deity. Orpheus on the mountains wild The animals made mild, But now, unbidden, all The birds on thee, Caesar, melodious call.
There was a fashionable cult of parrots in Imperial Rome; both Ovid and Statius have written poems on the death of parrots, and Apicius gives an appetizing recipe for cooking them. This concludes the list of birds mentioned in the Anthology, save such as are noticed hereafter.
We have a number of allusions, however, to fowling, to snares of various kinds for feet and necks of birds, to traps and nets, and to birdlime which the fowler carried about with him, spread on canes--canes that could be fitted into each other and so lengthened out after the manner (says Mr. W. R. Paton) of a fishing-rod. The practice is referred to in Bion's idyll of Love and the boy-fowler. The invention of gunpowder has brought most of these implements into disuse, besides making the birds both shyer and scarcer. Decoy-birds and birdlime, for which the old name ixos has been revived, though prohibited, are still used in Greece to catch chiefly goldfinches, and also chaffinches and green linnets.
The reader will find some notes on modern Greek fowling in Macpherson, pp. 22, 248, 309, 377, and 393. A great destruction of bird life now goes on in Greece, and one wonders what percentage of the 354 species claimed for that country by Lindermayer in 1860 are still to be found. He, by the way, describes (p. i6c) how they used to catch duck in what was then the Kopais lake, and was a miserable sinner himself in this respect. Of the lovely whiskered tern he writes: "They take not the slightest notice of the sportsman; if he keeps quiet, they will fly right over his head. When the first shot is fired and the bird drops into the water or on the ground, the whole flock of them draw near with lamentable cries, and bewail the unhappy fate of their comrade. In such moments one can fire off fifty shots, and each shot will bring down one or two or three of them".
There is an epigram by Isidorus of Aegae (7, 156) on a bird-catcher called Eumelus who, well supported by his craft, died at the patriarchal age of ninety after a life of happy freedom. An anonymous poem is in the shape of a pretty address by a fowler to some bird (9, 209). Two other writers have done epitaphs on a famous fowler, Poernander of Melos. This is what Mnasalcas (7, 171) says of him, in the free version of my friend Dr. F. W. Mann, to whom I am also indebted for the invocation to Pan on the title-page--
Amid the foliage of this solemn plane The holy bird now rests his rapid wing. Hark, how they all in merry tumult sing: "Poemander's dead! Harmless his fowling-cane!"
We find epitaphs on the following birds: a cock, a decoy partridge, jay, sweillow, and elaios. The last-named, a quatrain by Tymnes (7, 199), in the rendering of the friend I have just mentioned, will give some idea of their quality--
Elaios bird, on whom the Graces dote, Thou who didst modulate thy tender note To wail of Halcyon-- Among the pathways of the star-strewn skies Linger sweet echoes of thy lullabies, But thou, dear bird, hast gone!
I pause again, to say that this is what one might call a "transfusion" rather than a translation: a method that has perils of its own, as can be seen by the following colourless lines on the same theme which were printed in America some years ago--
Thou favourite of the Graces, Who into air did send Glad carols without end, Now thou art snatched away, All the dear sunlit places That were thy haunts of old, And thy sweet roundelay, The paths of darkness hold.
The names elaios, eleia, eleas and elea represent, I think, two separate birds. The last-named, described by Aristotle, has been identified by Sundevall and other scholars as a kind of reed-warbler--rightly, I should say. Aristotle notes, among other things, that it is small but has a good voice, which is exactly what Callimachus says of his eleia. The reedwarbler is common in Anthology regions, but I question whether its voice deserves the unusual praise given to it in this particular poem; a pleasantly scolding little song, I call it, which you can imitate fairly well by writing with an old-fashioned quill pen. It is not the elaios of these verses.
What that bird was, comes out clearly in a statement quoted by Athenaeus from Alexander the Myndian, who tells us that the elaios is the same as the sykalis, the fig-pecker or beccafico. Now the fig-pecker is the garden warbler, whose lay is without a question superior to that of the reed-warbler. The passage runs to this effect: "One of the tits is called by some people elaios and by others pirrias; but when the figs become ripe, it gets the name of sykalis (sykos, a fig.). And there are two species of this bird, the sykalis and the melankoryphos". This, in my opinion, should settle the question, besides testifying to the intelligence of him who realized the close relationship between the garden warbler and the blackcap (melankoryphos: a name which was certainly also applied to some species of blackheaded titmouse). The blackcap in movement might well be mistaken for a kind of tit; not when it sings its exquisite melody.
Martial calls the elaios by its Latin name of ficedula, fig-eater. It is still known as "fucetola" in South Italy, and Linneaus introduced ficedula into scientific nomenclature. Martial says that because the bird eats also grapes, it should rather be known as uvedula, grapes being the worthier food. This statement is founded on bad observation. The bird devours neither figs nor grapes, but only the insects which cluster round them when they are ripe. It was a great table delicacy, and the only fowl which the epicures considered should be eaten bones and all (Aulus Gellius, quoting old Favorinus). As a curiosity may be mentioned that an English translator renders elaios "sea-mew".
One point is worth noting. Be the elaios reed-warbler or garden warbler, the song here commemorated must have been listened to in the open country, since (unless I am mistaken) neither of these birds can be kept in cages. Indeed, the Anthology contains no reference to the custom of keeping birds in ca'ges for the sake of their song, much as its poets delighted in their music out of doors. Yet aviaries were well known to antiquity, and the cult of tame song birds, chiefly nightingales, grew to a mania under the Roman Empire. Nor is there mention here of birds' plumage being used for any kind of ornament. Cleopatra wore a few peacocks' feathers as a state robe. Perhaps she wore something else as well.
When one considers its poetic nature and the other qualities which endeared it to the ancients of various nationalities, it is surprising to find the turtle dove, trygon, barely mentioned in the Anthology. It occurs, as a symbol of chastity, in a Christian epitaph (Didot III, 2, 734); in a spurious oracle (ibid. 6, 278); and again in the diminutive form trygonion--the pet name, here, of a dancing eunuch, votary of Cybele, whose death is commemorated by Philodemus in some strangely touching lines, which compare his charms to those of Lais (7, 222). That is all I have been able to discover.
Peleia might be either the wild rock dove or its tame descendant. There are two sepulchral epigrams (Didot III, 2, 669 and 670) which tell of pigeon-lofts that were built on the summit of high tombs, presumably for the sake of security. The bird is called the "well-winged peleia". It was also an emblem of timidity (7. 161).
The same bird is mentioned twice under its other name of treron; it is the prey of hawks, and of foxes (Didot III, 6, 142 and 277).
Here is also the woodpigeon, phassa, which makes its home in the leafy foliage of the oak (9, 71). It is translated as "dove" in Goldwin Smith's version of this poem,.which I will quote by way of a change: its succinctness is not its only charm--
Aerial branches of tall oak, retreat Of loftiest shade for those who shun the heat, With foliage full, more close than tiling, where Dove and cicada dwell aloft in air, Me too, that thus my head beneath you lay, Protect, a fugitive from noon's fierce ray.
The oinas, which is generally taken to be columba oenas, though Thompson prefers to identify it with the rock-pigeon, does not occur in these pages, nor yet peristera, save as the name of a little girl who died at the age of seven, lamented by Leonidas of Tarentum (7, 662).
Of game birds proper, we have three kinds here. Quails were given as presents to boys (like geese or nightingales or doves or fighting cocks or other birds), with the alleged object, I imagine--whatever the real one may have been--of their figuring in the then popular quail-fights, nowthe delight of the Chinese, which young people were encouraged and even obliged by law to attend, in order to learn plucky habits; though nowadays, adds the poet Glaucus (12, 44), youngsters have grown too sophisticated and rapacious for such simple gifts. They were appreciated as food, after being lured by means of a special whistle towards the fowler who then threw his net over them, as he does to this day. These whistles are often used in the South, although the call-note of the quail is so easy to imitate after a little practice that they are scarcely required. There is no reference to blinded decoy-birds, a system which is still common in the case of quails. The ancients blinded pigeons for this purpose, and Arabs of today sew together the eyelids of their decoy-doves (Tristram).
As to partridges, Simmias has an epitaph (7,203) on the death of his favourite decoy partridge--
No longer, my decoy wild partridge, from thy throat Rings through the umbrageous wood that resonant clear note, Luring thy pencilled mates that feed beneath the glade; For thy last journey thou to Acheron hast made.
I have already referred to the death of another pet partridge, that of Agathias, which was devoured by a cat.
Pheasants--phasianos: the word tetrax does not occur--are only once mentioned, their digested remains figuring among the human excreta of a public convenience near Smyrna (9, 642). I doubt whether pheasants still occur wild in Greece, as they did in the days of Lindermayer (p. 123).
Strange that the woodcock should not be named, nor even peacocks, in view of their manifold uses to the poets, such as in the tale of Argos. They were introduced into Athens from Samos, and people came all the way from Sparta and Thessaly to look at them. While still uncommon, says Aelian, a pair was exhibited at the beginning of each month to Athenian lovers of beauty, and the charge for admission was a considerable source of gain.
The ostrich, on the other hand, is noted several times; somebody is accused by Julian Antecessor (u, 367) of having a face like an ostrich. It must have been a face worth looking at, for this bird has certainly the most brainless expression of any on earth--
Like ostrich's thy face! Has Circe stirred For thee some potion, which made thee a bird?
Ducks, which were kept tame and eaten, are not mentioned here; we have water-loving geese, however, with the unfortunate epithets of polios and charopos, which give no sure clue to their colour. Their fat, which was used as an aphrodisiac--it is an emetic to me--is here described as a delicacy (9, 377). There are no references to foie gras, although it was so fashionable at one time that the Romans went to the trouble of importing it from Germany, because that country produced larger livers than their own_
The ancients never shared our notion as to the stupidity of the goose, which is not only a most affectionate bird but an unusually intelligent one as well. Ovid calls it wiser than the dog. On the tomb of a certain house-wife (7, 425) was figured a goose, as symbol of her careful guardianship. Those that were viewed as "protectors of the house" or sacrificed to the gods must have been of the tame kind; from the epitaph on a fowler called Ariston (7, 546) we also learn that the greylag1, or perhaps the bean goose, was stalked while feeding warily, and then shot with a sling--an undertaking which would require no little patience and cunning nowadays; would be, in fact, a hopeless business, a wild-goose chase. It makes one realize that certain birds were either more abundant than they are at present, or more confiding, or both--
Sling had Ariston, furnishing scant food. Wherewith to shoot wild geese through the devise Of stealing by hid way, and thus elude Them as they fed with sidelong-glancing eyes. Now he is in Hades; unhandled his sling Hangs mute, and o'er his tomb the game takes wing.
There is no word in the Anthology about pelican or ibis or flamingoes, noticeable waterfowl though they be.
The crane is mentioned several times. We have the inevitable reference to Ibycus and his cranes, and to the battles between cranes and pigmies; we learn that the bird was trapped in nooses which caught it by the neck. Macpherson alludes to this system (p. 444): "Another ruse of Greek origin was that of baiting a snare with a bean placed on some straw at the top of a reed. The crane endeavoured to appropriate this morsel of food and unwittingly thrust its head into the noose, which, by the way, was weighted with a stone, so that the bird might not fly away".
The crane was called Bistonian, from its home about the lake of that name, now Burughiul; its habits of plundering the crops, of screaming loud, of moving its head from side to side as it walks, and of flying at a great height, are noticed by these writers; not so the curious triangular formation while in flight, nor its qualities as an article of food.
As in England under Henry VIII, it was appreciated by both Greeks and Romans who kept it in aviaries for the market, and sometimes sewed up its eyes to fatten it better (Plutarch), though it is difficult to understand why those from Melos (Varro) should taste better than others. Apicius gives the recipe of one or two sauces for roasted cranes. I suspect that fowls of this kind were eaten, like swans or peacocks, rather on account of their imposing size than for any flavour which their flesh might possess. The bird must have been far commoner than it is now, to judge by the many allusions to it in older literature. It used, for instance, to be a regular spring visitor to Italy; Redi (1671) notes the extraordinary punctuality with which the flocks arrived year after year in the plain of Pisa, where nowadays nobody has ever heard of such a fowl.
I hesitate what to think of the anonymous sepulchral epigram (7, 543) which recounts the fate of sea-faring Theogenes whose ship, while in the Libyan sea, was sent to the bottom by an immense flock of tired cranes alighting on her "like a cloud". What were the crew about? Rather than be drowned by the weight of these birds, they should have wrung their necks and thrown them overboard. It is difficult to conceive a flock of cranes grown weary from flying; they move like clockwork and know to an inch the distance they have to traverse. A persistent gale of wind may have driven these out of their course, and tired them out at sea. Once on the ship, if it was a small one, the disaster is within range of possibility. The passenger pigeon weighs far less than the crane, and Alexander Wilson (quoted in Wallace's Darwinism) says of a breeding-place of these birds in Kentucky that "it was dangerous to walk under these flying and fluttering millions, from the frequent fall of large branches, broken down by the weight of the multitudes above, and which in their descent often destroyed numbers of the birds themselves". Audubon gives a similar account of the. passenger pigeon. And Pliny says that quails migrating by night sometimes rush in such quantities into ships' sails as to cause them to sink.
Antiphilus has the only reference to the heron, erodios, which I can discover (9, 551). It tells how the bird came to be unpopular at Chalcedon--opposite Byzantium--and to earn the epithet of traitor; because by standing in the shallow part of the sea and fishing there it showed to some enemies of the town where the water could be forded. Whatever this water was, it cannot have been the deep Bos-phorus. The ancients often speak of the heron as a sea-bird; it certainly has a fondness for salt lagoons connected with the sea. This poem is not altogether intelligible, and there is a formidable note on it in the Didot edition of the Anthology--
The ill-omened heron doth Chalcedon scourge with hate: Why always traitor-bird 'tis called, let Phoebus state. When in the shallow sea, standing on its slim legs And pecking up the food from out the sandy dregs, There to the city crossed from opposite the foe, Having seen that through the shoal 'twas possible to go. Stone the bad bird, for it from the enemy full meed Obtained, the traitor-fowl--both conches and sea-weed.
There is only one mention, too, of the stork, pelargos, a bird to which I shall return when speaking of the lizard. This is in a derisively humorous and obscure epigram addressed to a certain Metrophanes and calling him, among other things, an exquisite stork (n, 345). He may have been a long-legged dandy of some kind--
A stork divine art thou, Metrophanes, swan-face, Shock-head, waggling thy pate around with crane-like grace, And letting thy long hood trail all about the place.
And the same with the night raven, nycticorax griseus. It is once named, but it gives Nicarchus (11, 186) occasion for an excellent couplet:
The night raven's song bodes death, but when Demophilus sings, the night raven itself dies.
I am aware that this nycticorax has been identified with the eagle owl. The eagle owl, however, does not croak like a raven--not at all; it says "Oohoo" in deep and solemn tones; whereas the note of nycticorax is almost undistinguishable from that of the raven, and disquieting music in the darkness. (Of course it never "sings", as Milton makes it do, any more than does the common raven). For the rest, the bird is still held to be of bad omen, and is called nyktokorax in Greece to this day; cf. also the German Nachtrabe. I think any one who has heard the nocturnal cry of this fowl, and been in a position to compare it with the diurnal one of the raven, will discard the owl theory, which began, I think, with Aldrovandus. Like all waders, the night raven must have been far commoner in days when there were so many undrained swamps and lakes, and when rivers were allowed to flow as they pleased.
Posidippus (Jacobs' Appendix, 68) falls into an odd error. He speaks of a glutton who engulfs his food like a night crow--the words used being korone (crow), and pannychike (fit for a night festival): an expression which is used, according to the dictionaries, of a "greedy night reveller" . Neither the crow nor the night raven is famous for its appetite. The poet, I take it, had in mind the cormorant, whose resemblance to a crow or raven is borne out not only by its English name (cormorant = corvus marinus: Olaus Magnus has a dissertation de Corvis Marinis) but also by its scientific one of phalacrocorax, and whose devouring capacities are proverbial to this day. It is known as "water-crow" in parts of the English coast. Aristotle calls it korax kaloumenos, and it is fairly common in Greece and other parts of the Anthology regions. Korone, in Homer, was a kind of sea-bird.
The gulls, aithyia, haunt spray-beaten promontories or rest, carelessly floating, upon the waves; there is also laros, still called glaros, which, for the sake of variety, might be rendered as sea-mew or tern; a third kind is alluded to in that noble epitaph by Leonidas of Tarentum (7, 652) on the drowned Teleutagoras whose body, he says, is now stranded on some desert beach and bemoaned by kauexin and laridessin. The first of these terms is rare; it occurs, for instance, in a (non-Anthology) fragment of Cal-limachus, where, from the context, it would seem to signify a kind of diver. To my way of thinking the word is onomatopoeic, like jynx and glaux and others: it reproduces pretty accurately the note of the Mediterranean herring gull, larus cachinnans.
Tha name Aithyia was given to a swift-footed mare commemorated by Mnasalcas--not very appositely, if one considers the wayward and flapping flight of this bird (7, 212). I should not back "Gull" for the Derby--
Stranger, of Aithya, whose feet as swift wind sped Say this the tomb is. Horse none fleeter earth e'er bred; Like her namesake the gull, oft o'er the long course she Equalled in tireless sweep the ships upon the sea.
The poet, therefore, alluded to her tirelessness rather than to her speed. Indeed, a friend suggests that the mare's name was probably connected with the obscure word aitho, either from her sleek (or flaming sorrel) coat, or from her fierce movements, and that the homonymous gull was dragged in by way of a pun.
The word brenthos is not found in the Anthology.
Kepthos is an unidentified sea-bird mentioned by a good many writers; like our "gull" or "noddy", it had a reputation for simplicity. In Didot III (6, 277) it is applied in adjectival form to doves which allow themselves to be deceived by foxes.
Swans are frequently mentioned, and a good deal of fun is extracted out of the adventure of Jupiter and Leda--legitimate fun. Here is what Bassus (6, 125) says--
I'll never turn to gold; let some one else become A bull, or a shore-haunting swan that tuneful sings; Such tricks I leave to Zeus: two obols is the sum Corinna I will give, instead of sprouting wings.
And this anonymous couplet (9, 108) strikes me as still better--
Said Zeus to Love: "Thy darts from thee shall all be ta'en". The Winged One: "Thunder once, and swan you are again!"
What of those allusions to the song of the swan, which is described sometimes as loud (by Antipater of Thessalonica), sometimes as soft (by Antipater of Sidon), and always as beautiful? For the music of this bird is here treated not as a poetic fable, but as a bald fact. Many poets--Pindar, Erinna, Alcman, Anacreon, Virgil--are likened to swans, by reason of their sweet voices; Zeno the philosopher, is a "learned swan"; Dioscorides mocks the song of the lark, when compared to that of the swan. "If larks can sing like swans, and owls like nightingales--" (a simile which occurs more than once, and shows how poetic imagery tends to become stereotyped)--what can the poet have meant by this seeming disregard for truth? I hold no brief for the song of the lark, a brain-feverish utterance, enjoyable chiefly because of the associations it conjures up: is that of the swan so immeasurably superior?
Dioscorides may have meant the same as Meleager and others when they praised the voice of the halcyon. The halcyon is generally taken to be the kingfisher, and kingfishers have no voice at all: just a squeak or whistle. So far as I know, there is only one species of singing kingfisher, and Meleager is not likely to have known this bird, since it lives in South America. The blunder is all the more difficult to explain, because Meleager and the rest of them were pretty close observers, full of impartial sympathy for birds and beasts. Perhaps there is no blunder at all. Perhaps we find ourselves here face to face with a change in literary taste. Swans and kingfishers--always supposing halcyon to represent the kingfisher--being birds of beautiful plumage were credited with voices to match.
Athenaeus has a good deal to say on the subject of the "swan song", and he quotes Alexander the Myndian as declaring^ that he has followed many dying swans, but never heard one sing. Alexander was a naturalist, a remarkable one--not a poet. Lucian also pokes fun at this swan song. Says his countryman: "We have worked all our lives on the Eridanus (Po); well, we do see a swan now and again in the marshes; and a harsh feeble croak their note is; crows or jackdaws are sirens to it; as for sweet singing such as you tell of, not a ghost of it". (Translation of E. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler).
Doubtless the whooper or whistling swan, cygnus musieus, has a voice of a kind. It is often lauded in Russian popular poetry, and Pallas says the bird is kept tame in that country on account of its song which has a sweet tone like silver bells. My old friend J. E. Harting wrote that its note is "soft and plaintive, monotonous, but not disagreeable". Lenz has devoted seventeen pages to the subject of the swan-song, wherein the reader will find all the old lore and much of the modern. Kriiper describes cygnus musicus as a winter visitor. According to Lindermayer it was fairly common on the Kopais and other lakes, where he found it breeding. Certain it is that swans of every kind have grown much scarcer in the whole Mediterranean basin. A flock of them such as Diodorus Siculus describes alighting on the public fishpond at Girgenti, where they gave "a most pleasant and delightful prospect to the eye", is never heard of nowadays. Were they foolish enough to alight in Sicily, they would not be encouraged to prolong their stay. And who would believe that they were found in olden days on Lake Avernus?
As regards to the songs of halcyon and swan, we shall perhaps come round to Prof. D'Arcy Thompson's view that both of them "veiled, and still hide, some mystical allusion". It is a puzzling chapter in birdlore.
This is noticeable:---on the one hand, the halcyon described by Aristotle, whom Pliny copies almost literally, can be nothing but the common kingfisher, in spite of one or two fanciful details; were we to judge, on the other, by the ten odd references to this bird which are contained in the Anthology, we could not but agree with a recent editor of Theocritus, Kynaston, when he says that the halcyon is "certainly not the kingfisher": a singular state of affairs, which would make two or more birds out of a single one. What do these Anthology references tell us? Nothing in regard to its size, but only this: it sips running water with its beak; its note is beautiful and generally plaintive, resembling, if Phalaecus (13, 27) means the halcyon--the human wail "ai, ai"; there is a suggestion of a certain aloofness from man and his ways wherein it differs from favourites like the swallow; it is both a river and a sea bird; and its colour, according to Mnasalcas--an excellent poet--is xouthos, a tint which, however rendered in English, cannot fairly be twisted into the blue of the kingfisher (9, 333). This word, xouthos, may be allied to xanthos: it seems to represent every gradation of brown--russet or tawny or dun or suchlike; the colour of the fawn, in the Anthology, or of the nightingale, or of a boy's hair. It is also here applied to the cicada, and, by quite a number of poets--Diodorus Zonas, Antipater of Sidon, Plato, Nicias and others--to the bee; one might call it a stock epithet of the bee. Could it be interpreted, therefore, as flashing or gleaming or -burnished or glossy, it might possibly pass for a bright bird like the kingfisher, besides adding another item to various indications which suggest, firstly, that the ancients had eyes that saw differently from ours--eyes that sometimes failed to distinguish between lustre and tint--and, secondly, that being unprovided with the many colour-epithets of today, they made a single one do the work of several. A debatable passage in 6, 160, halkyon histon, if it referred to the swift glint of the shuttle as if passes through the warp, would have some bearing on this point, besides being an outrageous metaphor.
Xouthos has also been translated as signifying shrill, of sounds; we pursue an analogous train of thought when we speak of "screaming colours". Shrill would never fit the bee, but could reasonably be applied to the cicada. Another (non-Anthology) writer talks of the swallow as xouthos. Here the word is inappropriate both as a sound and a colour epithet, unless he was referring to the swift, in which case "shrill" would be quite in its place. Perhaps this term was conferred on the swallow because the nightingale, to which it was bound in a mystical union, is also xouthos. I see that Dr. W. H. D. Rouse, in his version of the above-named quatrain by Mnasalcas (An Echo of Greek Song, p. 50), has rendered xouthos in the sense of shrill, and that should be good enough for the rest of us--
Upon the low brine-sprinkled shore stand we, Beside the shrine of Cypris of the Sea, And poplar-shaded spring, whence piping shrill, The kingfisher draws water with its bill.
There is doubtless a difference between shrillness and the plaintive mournfulness attributed to the halcyon, but it may be observed that Mediterranean people are apt to mourn in quite a shrill fashion. Oppian says that the halcyon ends its song by crying out its former human name--Ceyx! Ceyx!--which sounds rather shrill than otherwise.
So far these are passably a-vian features, though I can think of no living fowl which possesses all of them together. A halcyon built on these lines, if it ever existed, may have died out like the Great Auk, or like the mysterious Liver from which Liverpool is said to derive its name. In every case it is reasonable to infer that, were the bird a creation of fancy from beginning to end, the poet would have chosen for it some colour other than xouthos which, in its ordinary interpretation, is neither a startling nor a lovely one, such as we might expect a fabulous creature to display. Xouthos, in my opinion, would point to a prototype in nature, if it pointed to anything definite at all.
Does it? For the word presents peculiarities to which I have not alluded. It contains, for example, an obscure ingredient suggestive of motion; and one scholar (Rutherford), confronted by difficulties such as these, solves them, perhaps rightly, by saying that the word xouthos long ago lost its precise signification, and was thereafter used by writers in that sense which seemed to them most suited to certain classical passages, regardless of whether it really fitted them or not; while D'Arcy Thompson tells us that the meaning of xouthos is "quite unknown". This, when one comes to think of it, is a most desirable state of affairs for the translator of Greek adjectives, who can make them say what he pleases. I wish there were many more of the same kind, and a few dozen verbs into the bargain.
Be xouthos what it may, it is curious to observe that these modern birdlike attributes have been grafted in the Anthology upon that earlier and mythical conception of the halcyon with which we are Jill familiar--or rather, not grafted upon it but only scored, so to speak, over its surface: to what end? In order, maybe, to give to that other one, that old and hazy one, an air of probability, of tangibility, of modernity. If this be correct, we have in the non-Aristotelean halcyon of the Anthology an interesting phenomenon. It is a kind of palimpsest; or a composite fowl into which the tern-element (Tristram) has been made to enter; a fowl which these poets were determined should be alive, in order that they might project into it certain fond dreams and aspirations of their own. They seem to have argued that such a creature, if it did not exist in nature, ought to be made to exist. Hence its resuscitation from the shadowy realms of legend; hence those flesh-and-blood characteristics. And we cannot but agree with the poets, supposing this to have been their intention. To invest a dream with life, with actuality, has always been their privilege. Here is an epitaph (7, 292) on a drowned man by Theon, father of Hypatia:
Lenaeus! Thee perhaps the halcyons cherished keep, But mute o'er a dank tomb thy mother tears doth weep.
In another passage (Didot III, 2, 634) a mother deprived by death of her children is pictured as lamenting like a "halcyon by the shore"; see also 9, 262.
Macpherson (p. 152) says that the halcyon was "well known to the people of Etruria, who figured its graceful form upon their coins". This is a blunder; he means Eretria, which is not the same thing. The coin in question is one portraying a bird on the back of a cow, a bird which Canon Tristram in an article I have not seen (Ibis, 1893; see Warde Fowler, p. 241) identified with a tern: Tristram's contention being that the halcyon of the ancients was not a kingfisher but a tern. Here is a reproduction, natural size, of the coin in question, which D'Arcy Thompson (p. 31) explains in an astronomical sense. I confess that both its relative size, and its peculiar pose, remind me strongly of the tern. The British Museum authorities tell me it is generally taken to be a swallow or a starling (the latter of which is often seen in company of cows). What mitigates against Tristram's tern-theory is that the halcyon has been described by ancient writers--by most of them; but see, for instance, 9 151--as rare, and of lonely habits. Both these attributes apply to the kingfisher; neither to the tern. It should be remembered that the kingfisher, in these regions, is nearly always seen on or near the sea.
The list of reptiles and batrachians mentioned in the Anthology is fajrly extensive: fourteen in all, not including the term herpeton which occurs in a passage (Didot III, 6, 264) about the "arrow-darting brood of reptiles", that is, poisonous snakes. There are three kinds of vipers: the echis or echidna, to begin with. Its venom was considered dangerous to man. Such is the noisome blood of the Cappadocians, however, that the echis is described as dying if it bites one of them (u, 237). Anyte has a lament, charmingly rendered by Dr. Rouse (An Echo of Greek Song, p. 60), on the death of her Locrian hound called Maera, which was killed by one of these reptiles--
Thou'rt dead then, Locrian Maera, by the brake, Swiftest of all the belling pack, dear hound! For there a pitiless and spotted snake Bit thy light heel, and poisoned all the wound.
This animal doubtless corresponds to the Vipera ammodyles. It is the most poisonous of European snakes and well known all over these regions. It was called Echidna ammodyles by Merrem in 1820.
I will delay a moment to advert to a passage in Pausanias, who tells how a certain Aipytus was killed in Arcadia by a snake which he calls seps--a snake identified with Vipera ammodytes--and of which he writes (Frazer's translation): "I have myself seen this species of snake (ophis). It is like a very small adder (echis), is ash-coloured and spotted irregularly: its head is flat, neck thin, belly large, tail short. Like the crested snake (kerastes), it moves with a sidelong motion, crab-fashion". This description has been highly praised, and I admit that, apart from the crab-like movement of which no snake is capable, it wears an insidious air of scientific precision. Two points, however, should be noted: the beast in question is said to be like an echis but smaller--it is therefore not an echis; secondly, it is contradistinguished from the crested (keras = a horn) snake; it is therefore not the horned snake. Only two horned snakes can come under consideration: the Egyptian two-horned (Solinus calls it four horned) cerastes which is not found in Europe, and the European one-horned ammodytes.
The seps of Pausanias is therefore, according to his definition, neither of these two. Had it been the latter, he could never have avoided mentioning its characteristic feature, the nasal projection--quite apart from the fact that in excluding the echis he has already excluded the ammodytes. What snake, then, could it be? For the latest authorities concur in saying that there can be only one other poisonous species in the Peloponnesus, namely the Vipera eiiphratica. which is sometimes, and perhaps rightly, identified with V. Redi (V. aspis). Now this viper, if it exists in Greece, is scarcer and more local than the horned one. It is not at all "small" , but of approximately the same length as the other. Lastly, its poison is so weak that fatal accidents are rare; Redi, who made the classical experiments with it, declares that no man dies from its bite, six or seven of these reptiles being requisite to kill him. It follows that if the description of Pausanias is to be regarded as a strictly scientific one, it applies to neither of the two poison snakes at present living in Southern Greece, if indeed there be two of them; for Bedriaga doubts whether the mainland possesses more than the single V. ammodytes. I observe that in a passage later on he gives us the name of the mountain where Aipytus was bitten by the seps; the place was called Mount Sepia. Students may draw what inferences they please from this verbal coincidence. It is worth remembering that the word seps, which does not occur in the Anthology (the creature was known as seps because the wounds it made were liable to fester: see Lucan's Pharsalia for a blood-curdling account of it) might give rise to some confusion, since later Roman writers applied the same name to a pretty reptile of the blindworm type which the Greeks called chaikis--there was also a fish of that name--from its glittering bronze colour. This is the Seps chalcides of our naturalists--quite a harmless animal, though furiously persecuted, both in antiquity and now, on account of its fabled venom. The innocuous seps happens not to occur in Greece, where its place is taken by the allied species Ablepharus pannonicus; the seps in the Athens Museum are, or were, all wrongly named (J. v. Bedriaga).
So much for Pausanias. I think his seps and the echis of the Anthology will be found to be one and the same beast. If he had given it a horn and the correct length, and taken away that crab-like gait, he would have left us a creditable and even admirable description of Vipera ammodyles.
Then there is asp, aspis. Its venom was held to be invariably fatal. This is not the Vipera aspis of modern zoologists, whose bite is no worse than that of our adder, but in every probability the Egyptian cobra which then, as now, was often displayed by snake-charmers and under their influence seemed to grow more gentle than its savage nature led one to expect. Maecius may have had this trait in mind (5, 114) when he wrote of a certain girl--
Philistion, the ever hard, who suffered not A lover if he had not money got, Seems more amenable than formerly. No miracle! Her nature changed can't be. The cruel asp at times may grow more tame, But when it bites, death follows just the same.
Among the sepulchral epigrams of Diogenes Laertius is one on Demetrius Phalereus (7, 113) who died from the bite of an asp--Cicero had already told this story; whereas that Alcimenes, whom I have previously mentioned as scaring away birds from the crops (7, 172), was bitten to death by the third kind of viper, the mysterious dipsas or thirst-snake, a reptile which appears for the second and last time in an anonymous epigram in Jacobs' Appendix (No. 350). The thirst of its victim is there compared to that of Tantalus--
I deem with like hot poison's pain was Tantalus cursed, Which in no wise would let him slake his thirst; And Danaus' daughters in like jar could never pour Water enough to fill, but there was room for more.
Aelian tells us that the dipsas is "smaller than the viper, but more dangerous. Those who have been bitten suffer from dreadful thirst, and drink and drink till they burst". I cannot say whether the attempt has been made to identify the dipsas of the ancients with any existing species. It would be a difficult task, if one followed Lucian's wonderful account of the beast --or Lucan's, for that matter. A snake common in Greece, Tarbophis vivax, used to be known as Dipsas fallax, and a nocturnal tree-snake of the East Indies now bears the name (Dipsas dendrophild). This reminds me that Antiphilus (n, 348) talks of a tree-climbing asp--an asp "in the branches overhead"--waiting to destroy the parricide even if he mounts into the highest trees to escape his fate. There are no poisonous tree-climbing snakes in the Anthology regions.
For the rest, these terms are used indiscriminately, as they are in England. So Bianor warns the fowler not to walk with bare feet among the forests of Egypt on account of the snakes, ophis, which, in general, signifies the harmless kind. In a poem by Statylius Flaccus a shipwrecked sailor is described as being killed, while he lies fast asleep on the Libyan sands, by an echis: asp would have been a little more appropriate; and still more appropriate the cerastes viper, a nocturnal and sand-loving horror, common in North Africa, which may also be responsible for the death of Cleopatra, since an asp, an Egyptian cobra, would hardly allow-itself to be hidden in a basket of flowers. The whole episode may be apocryphal.
We have also two poems (9, 1 and 2) alluding to the belief that a viper's poison, injected into the udder of a doe or cow, can kill her suckling offspring; it sounds unlikely, but is doubtless correct. "A mother, even if suffering in a slight degree from snake poison, should not attempt to suckle her infant, else it may die in convulsions. The reason is, that the digestive fluids of an infant have not the power of chemically changing the venom" (T. W. Fitzsimons: The Snakes of South Africa).
The bitterness of "vipers' gall" is ascribed to the poems of Archilochus (7, 71)--
This sea-shore tomb is of Archilochus, who made first Mordant the Muse, and her in vipers' gall immersed, Bloodstaining thus mild Helicon. Lycambes he Well knows it, and doth mourn for his hanged daughters three. Pass light, O wayfarer, lest thou by chance awake The wasps that on his tomb their habitation make.
There are allusions to Philoctetes and his putrefying snake wound in two or three epigrams which deal with statues and pictures of that tiresome hero. His wound was caused, according to the Cyprian Lays, by a hydros or water-snake. Pliny, who may have heard of, or even seen, certain Eastern water-snakes, declares the hydros to be the most beautiful and baneful snake on earth, which, when applied to some of these, is not very far from the truth. But there are no poisonous water-snakes in the Anthology regions, although a harmless one, Tropidonotus viperinus, bears so close a resemblance to the viper that it is still called oichendra (= echidna: sometimes used as a generic term for all snakes) and considered to be highly venomous. Archelaus (Didot III, 3, 52) tells us that serpents are generated out of the spinal cord of a corpse. It is a pity he has left us no larger treatise on Natural History, to judge by the few samples of his learning which are preserved in the Anthology. Serpents in general, ophis, are named more than once. A four-coiled one is accused of devouring a nestful of young swallows--an event which has been known to occur. We find commemorated the story of Apollo and the Python, of Ammon and Olympias, Hercules and the Hydra. That of the baby Hercules and his serpents is told by Gaetulicus of another child as well--Cicero tells it of the actor Roscius--and may have some foundation in fact, since these animals are sufficiently confiding and like the warmth of the human body; it may even explain what John Lithgow (1632) wrote of the island of Cos: "There is a kind of Serpent said to be in it, so friendly unto the Inhabitants, that when the men are sleeping under the shadow of trees, they come cralling, and will lincke or clasp themselves about their necks and bodies, without doing any harm, neither when they wake are the beasts affraid". A water-snake, hydros, is mentioned on one occasion (in the Cyzicene epigrams). Serpents of gold were worn as anklets, as they have been from time immemorial in many parts of the world (6, 207).
The Anthology and other Greek literature is apt to treat the dragon as synonymous with ophis, which is not surprising, seeing that both words are derived from stems which mean the same thing; in an epigram (7, 114) on Heraclides Ponticus, for example, who told his friends to put a snake, drakon, into his bed after death, in order to convince the world that his soul had taken this form; or in Strato's scandalous distich (u, 22) on a youth called Drako. No authentic dragon is named save in a fragment of Nestor of Laranda--how a thirsty dragon engulfed the whole Kephisus brook, to the disgust of its nymphs. Here is another fragment of his (9, 128), presumably from the same lost poem--
Creeping down the dragon drank. The sources were all dried. To dust the river turned. The brute for drink still cried.
Lysander is warned in a Dephic oracle (Didot III, 6, 72; for another dragon oracle see 6, 253) to beware of the dragon, treacherous son of earth, coming up from behind (it was the device on a man's shield). As symbol of evil, the dragon occurs in a Christian epigram on baptism (ibid. 3, 346); and Posidippus (ibid. 3, 79) has eight lines on the dragon-stone, drakontia or drakontitis, which exercised the ingenuity of many enquiring minds down to the days--and probably later--of the grave Marsilius Ficinus, who claims to have handled the authentic article but was taken to task in 1636 by Boetius de Boot or his editor Toll for confusing it with the lapis slellaris. I shall resist the temptation of quoting from Albertus Magnus or any of them.
Posidippus may be the earliest writer to mention this much-discussed product of nature. As his lines are very forced and altogether too tough for me, my friend Dr. Rouse has kindly stepped into the breach--
Not a river roaring upon its banks once held this stone, but the bearded head of a dragon. See it speckled with white! but the chariot graven on it was engraved by the eye of a lynx, like mimicry of man's handiwork: for when impressed, the engraving can be seen, but over the flat projection you could not see it (i. e. there must be a projection with a flat top). Truly it is a great miracle of labour, how the lapidary did not hurt his straining eyes.
One of the problems arising out of this epigram is: how could a lynx-eye carve? Enough of Posidippus.
The pottery of the island of Skyros is embellished by a graceful dragon-design--white figures on red ground. One would like to know its origin.
The crocodile is mentioned, though its hypocritical tears, an ancient conceit, are not alluded to. It is credited with a sense of justice (n, 348). Archelaus, who lived in Egypt, describes in one of his epigrams (Didot III, 3, 50) the fabulous metamorphosis, that a dead crocodile, dissolving away, changes itself into scorpions--
Life-giving Nature, which works over everything, From out dead crocodiles live scorpions doth bring.
The tortoise is not commemorated in a manner worthy of so legendary a beast. All that we find is a reference to the lyre--the shell of a tortoise, and, in a couplet by Lucian (u, 436), to a flying tortoise, a phenomenon which is never seen.
Poikilos, many-hued or changeful, is the epithet applied to the chameleon in an oracle (Didot III, 6, 274) about Andronicus Comnenus, "livid man, fierce of temper, hateful, grey-haired, variable chameleon", which ends by saying that whoso bears the sword shall not escape the sword. It is the only passage in which this interesting beast is named, though Andronicus comes in for more hard words in the next oracle, and Joannes, a little earlier, is to be "food for horrid ravens". The chameleon occurs on European soil nowhere save in South Spain, which it reached, presumably, in company with the Gibraltar apes. It has been said to exist both in Greece and in Sicily, but these reports are based on error.
Strange, that there should be no word about the lizard--not until the age of Hadrian, when it is introduced (11, 21; and 12, 3 and 207) in a metaphorical and equivocal, not to say improper, sense. It was of course observed and described and sometimes used in the concoction of drugs, and pictured on gems, but one or two indications lead me to believe that this animal was less common than it is to-day. Aristotle has only one name for all the lizard-species, some of which differ vastly from others. And there are at present certain Mediterranean regions, such as Asia Minor, where reptiles in general are surprisingly scarce--many species, but few individuals--owing to the abundance of birds which feed on them, chiefly storks, but also the crow tribe and kestrels and other hawks.
The same applies in a lesser sense to Greece. You will see more lizards round Naples in a week than round Athens in a year, and certainly not from lack of food in the shape of flies etc.; those you do see are far shyer. (We have an exception--the emerald lizard, which in Greece has been known to attain the enormous length of sixty-three centimetres. This creature, more often heard than seen, is secure from attacks, because it seldom quits the precincts of its fixed abode, its fortress--the tangled roots of some tree or a thorny shrub inaccessible to birds of any kind, into which it dashes with noisy rustle on the approach of an enemy. It can also put up a good fight when cornered).
The abundance of lizards in Italy, when compared to Greece, is explained by the fact that the lizard-eating birds above named are not allowed to survive among Italians--merciless enemies, as they are, of all living beauty other than human.
It is probable, I think certain, that birds of this kind used to be more frequent in the Apennine peninsula, before its inhabitants had grown as brutal as they now are towards the animal creation. The inference is obvious: lizards and other reptiles must then have been scarcer, as scarce as they are in Asia Minor to-day. Pliny notes that the Italian countrymen regulated certain agricultural operations according to the departure of the storks in autumn (even as Hesiod gives the "voice of the crane, crying year after year from the clouds above" as the signal for ploughing to begin), which implies that they bred numerously in that country. Warde Fowler (p. 231) has some further confirmatory evidence on this head. Owing to persecution, there is not a single resident stork in Italy at this moment; hence, no doubt, the present relative abundance of lizards. Such birds do not seem to have been persecuted in any manner during the long stretch of time covered by the Greek Anthology, nor in any of its countries (Romans after the days of Horace took to eating young storks); hence, I take it, the former relative scarcity of lizards. This is one of several cases in which a certain shifting in the economy of nature can be presumed to have taken place.
In Greece proper the stork has grown much rarer of late; it used to nest both on the Akropolis and on the columns of the Jupiter temple. Tristram writes: "It has also been nearly extirpated in Greece, where the Christians have not the reverence for it which is maintained by the Turks. Before the war of Independence it was as common in Greece as in the neighbouring- countries" . According- to Aristotle storks were protected by law in Thessaly, on account of their reptile-destroying propensities (Solinus copies this information, as he does a good many other things). In Imhoof-Blumer--plate XXII--can be seen reproductions of gems portraying a stork with a lizard in its beak, a crane with a lizard, another stork with a snake, and a heron attacking a snake. Protestants alone, among Christians, now cherish the stork, and we had better not labour this point, since it has been driven likewise out of England. Whoso does wilful bodily injury to a stork is liable to a fine in Germany; to take young storks out of their nest is "verboten". As to the kestrels, I admit that it is invidious to say unkind things about them. Yet a town like Argos, which is infested with these elegant birds, cannot derive as much benefit from them as it would from the swallows, for kestrels devour the useful lizards, if any of them are left, whereas swallows would content themselves with the worse than useless mosquito. The lesser kestrel, equally abundant in Argos, is said to eat nothing but insects: "sometimes small lizards", says Lindermayer.
In this connexion a certain work of art should not be overlooked: the Apollo Sauroctonus, the Lizard-Slayer, known to most people as a graceful statue in Rome and in the Louvre, which differs, they say, from the earlier and harsher Praxitelean conception of the scene. Apollo, as Lord and Destroyer of vermin like locusts or field mice, is supposed to have acted in the same capacity towards another summer scourge--lizards. (Hercules, Inspector-General of Nuisances, was figured on coins and statues of Thasos with a lizard). Such is the conventional explanation of this piece; and it does not strike me as convincing. The Louvre statue certainly admits af another interpretation; a German naturalist, Th. Eimer, offers a suggestive one in his book on the wall lizard.
There is also to be noted that a spotted lizard called galeotes was useful for divination, and thus came to be associated with Apollo. I am not sure whether this animal has been identified. It is said to correspond to the Greek askalabotes and the Latin stellio. The Slellio vulgaris of modern science, though speckled, does not occur in continental Greece. It may, and I think must, be one of the geckos, preferably the hemidactylus (called gekko ascalabotes by Merrem in 1820), which is found in houses all over South Europe--a spectral little beast that has a voice of its own, maculated like a corpse, fond of dark places, with translucent flesh and glassy eyes, and altogether so strange of aspect as to be a fit object for magical practices: as can be seen from this oracle of Hecate (Didot III, 6, 198): "Build a pure wooden image; make the body of wild rue, and adorn it with live, small, house-dwelling skalabotais (a rare form of the word); make a pounded mixture of myrrh, storax and frankincense together with those animals, and gathered when the moon is waxing; and yourself pray over it the following prayer, etc.". The epithet "house-dwelling" shows that in this case the animal was a gecko and not a modern stellio, which, by the way, is anything but "small". It is one of many cases of science taking over an ancient word (stellio) and applying it to a beast for which the ancients did not intend it.
Here lie the germs of another possible explanation of Apollo Sauroctonus.
If, on the other hand, the conventional one be correct, it would prove that lizards were then common enough to be regarded as a plague, and this would invalidate my theory as to their relative scarcity. My theory might go by the board, if the conventional one did not prove something else as well--something which is more important and more difficult to prove, namely, that these men were guilty of a deplorable lack of observation when they mistook for a pest the lizard, whose insect-destroying utility is manifest to the eyes of a child.
There we may leave the matter, for little is to be learnt from the ancients; their accounts of this statue present such discrepancies as to make it questionable whether the writers could be referring to one and the same work of art. Says Pliny: "Praxiteles wrought in metal a youthful Apollo lying in wait with an arrow for a creeping lizard near at hand, which they call Sauroctonus". Martial's epigram on the Sauroctonus of Corinthian Metal contains no hint of a divine personality engaged nor of the beast's (therefore) inevitable destruction; nor yet of an arrow; the lines might have been addressed to any lad of the countryside--
Ad te reptanti, puer insidiose, lacertae Parce; cupit digitis ilia perire tuis.
The toad is mentioned but once, in an anonymous distich (Jacobs' Appendix, 132) which bids us avoid the asp, the toad--
Of asps, toads, snakes, Laodiceans be shy, Mad dogs; but most from Laodiceans fly!
Little lore seems to have gathered about it in those days, although Apuleius perpetrates some rich nonsense anent its uses to the farmer, and Pliny recommends the chopped-up fragments of a river-crab as an antidote to its poison. It was also used in the manufacture of charms. Phile, who drew a good deal from Aelian and deserves a mellow English translation, has a poem on the toad, and another on the lizard.
Those friendly lines (4, 292) addressed by Agathias to Paulus Silentiarius, whose reply is very much to the point, contain the only discoverable reference to ololygon, the tree-frog. Cicero, in a youthful performance, started a little confusion by translating the "solitary and matutinal ololygon" of Aratus (Phaeno-mena, 948) as acredula, an unknown kind of bird, whose name was picked up by Koch in 1816 and given to the long-tailed titmouse, which has since retained it. Others--for reasons of poetic propriety, I suppose--render ololygon as thrush or turtle-dove. It is the latter in Butler's flowing version of this poem by Agathias, which I will take the liberty to transcribe, while noting that the "dear gazelle" is in reality a "sweet heifer", a term of affection not so consonant to English taste, though it has a pleasantly Biblical aroma--
The grass is green, buds on the bushes throng, The glory of the leaf is on the wood: Birds in the shady cypress ply their song, Tending the dewy nestlings of their brood: The finches twitter shrill: the turtle dove Coos from the shelter of his leafy choir. Yet what avail these charms? For I would love To hear your voice far more than Delos' lyre. Two loves there are upon me. Would I saw You once again, you and my dear gazelle Sad thoughts of whom devour me; but the law Constrains me far from my two loves to dwell.
The same word ololygon has given trouble to translators of the famous seventh idyll of Theocritus (line 139). Calverley renders it as "tree-frog", Way as "dwarf owl" and Andrew Lang as "little owl"--the two latter following, no doubt, the London Theocritus of 1829 (Vol. I. p. 376). A recent editor of that poet, Kynaston, likewise remarks that "it is difficult to imagine that a tree-frog can be meant by ololygon". Difficult to imagine, perhaps; especially for Englishmen unfamiliar with its music or for those who would draw hasty conclusions from the family likeness between ololygon and ulula (cf. the English "owl") and who know that the Scops owl often cries by day. The mention of a humble but melodious batrachian adds, I should say, an ingenuous and naturalistic touch to Agathias' letter.
It is clear, at all events, that in this letter to his friend he meant by ololygon whatever Theocritus meant in that idyll, be it dove or owl or frog. For, like all sensible people, he had just been reading it; among other things, he borrowed there from also the bird akanthis of which I have already spoken, and which is translated in the previous rendering as "finches".
Aristotle employs the substantive ololygon specifically to denote the croaking of frogs; he goes on to tell us how the noise is produced. Its root applies to cries of several kinds; so in Didot III (2, 234) the ololygaia nykteris cannot mean a bat, but the screeching or hooting owl. Now if nykteris signifies anything that flies by night, bat or owl, then ololygon, in a secondary and generic sense, might be interpreted to stand for anything that cries loudly or persistently, frog or bird or other creature. I have not, however, come across it in a passage where "tree-frog" would be obviously inappropriate, and the word, a rare one, has no place in Thompson's Glossary of Greek Birds.
Its verb is of wider interest as hinting at the difference which existed between the ears of the ancients and ours. It was used for that human joy-cry which may have resembled the "lullilooing" of Arab women--a cheery sound; it denoted also the owl's hoot, which we consider anything but cheery. We should not think of employing the same term for both these cries; the Greeks did so. On the other hand, moderns detect a similarity between the note of the frog and that of the raven; \ve talk of the croaking of both. No Greek, I fancy, would have used the verb ololyzo in connexion with the raven, yet it was Aristotle's term for the croaking of frogs.
Two poems deal with the common frog--Rana ridibunda, in all probability. One of them, attributed to Plato, speaks of a bronze model of a frog set up as a dedicatory offering at some fountain by a thirsty traveller, whom the croaking of this "rain-lover and devotee of the Nymphs" had led to the water's edge (6, 43): the last couplet being considered an interpolation (Didot)--
One who his raging thirst quenched in the heat, Moulded in bronze and set this offering here To the Nymphs' slave, that Muse of damp retreat, The frog, lover of rain and fountains clear. His strayed steps to the pool had turned, when so Timely uprose its song from the dank (lit: sunk) ground; (Nor did the traveller that guiding voice forego Till he the sweet and longed-for water found).
The other, by Antigonus the Carystian (9, 406), commemorates the figure of a frog which was carved on the inside of a bowl for mixing wine and water; of a frog, therefore, a natural lover of the Nymphs, of water, who became a wine-lover, a votary of Lyaius, too late in life. It gives the poet an occasion for hinting that he also writes better verses now that he has taken to Bacchus, and can "rage" with a less genteel madness.
The idea of this carved frog recalls those English beer-mugs of the eighteenth or early nineteenth century which likewise had a frog adhering to the inside of the vessel, near the bottom, to the surprise of the drinker when he emptied his mug. A note to a French edition of the Anthology (Hachette, 1863) talks here of a "grenouille tombe dans un cratere ou il y avait de 1'eau et du vin praepares", as though it were a question of a live frog, and proceeds to suggest that this epigram may have been in Gray's mind when he wrote of the cat which was drowned in a basin of goldfish. Gray knew his Anthology too well to take a hint where no hint is given. I detect no suggestion of a live frog. Here is the close Latin rendering of the first two lines:
Argenteus fons me, jam non longum clamentem ranam, vinariis habuit sub guttis.
And here is the looser one in verse by Grotius:
Factus ab argento saliens, sina more tacentem, Me ranam genito vitibus imbre rigat.
The croaking of frogs, that classical symphony, was heard also in the swamps of the Underworld (Didot III, 3, 84).
Small, relatively small, is the list of fishes and sea-beasts enumerated in the Anthology. Of fishes proper, if I have counted rightly, twenty-two are mentioned by their names, which are the following: skombros, glaukiskos, phykis, maine, melanouros, mormyros, kichle, spares, ellops, smaris, chalkis, thrissa, trigle, thynnos, skaros, perke, kallichthys, ioulis, boax, gongros and kyon halos (or enalios). There is also ketos which generally means a whale or seal, but in its Anthology context can only be a shark. Not all of these are identifiable. The ancients were sufficiently vague, and modern scientists, adopting the old Greek names into their nomenclature and applying them to any species which took their fancy, made confusion worse confounded.
Were it not for men like Aristotle, what should our ichthyologists do? They would hardly be able to identify a single one of them. Take, for instance, the skaros, the oft-named shares, declared by Pliny to be the most savoury of all of them, and held to be the modern Scarus creticus, the parrot wrasse. Here are some of the data which they, our zoologists, would have to face if Aristotle were non-existent: the skaros is carnivorous; it is a vegetable feeder; it chews the cud like a sheep; it is the only fish which has a voice (the above-named boax, a fish sacred to Hermes, was so called from its cry); it is the only fish which never sleeps; it sleeps at night; it pulls its companions out of nets and bites through the line which holds them fast; it is difficult to catch; it is caught with a piece of sea-weed, etc. etc. What would they make of this beast?
Monsieur M. D. Bikelas has gone to much trouble in this matter, and gives the scientific equivalents of about half the fishes mentioned in the Anthology. We can rely on those whose names (some are lost in modern Greek) have elsewhere remained unchanged to this day. Certain are therefore the following: perke, the perch; gongros, the conger; trigle with the delightful epithet anthemoessa, the Italian "triglia" or red mullet; thynnos, the tunny--then caught, as today, by means of a look-out man whose business it was to signal the approach of a shoal, which is driven into a complicated system of nets resembling a house with its different chambers (Oppian has left us a description of this) whence the struggling masses are dragged into shallow water and killed; skombros, the mackerel or perhaps the allied Trachurus trachurus (Casteln.), known as skoumpri both by modern Greeks and Turks, the latter of whom stuff it with raisins and pine nuts and suchlike, which greatly improve such flavour' as its ligneous flesh may possess, though the stuffing always remains the best part of the fish (Apicius gives a recipe for stuffed mackerel of which this may be the descendant: Mrs. Beeton's method of stuffing mackerel with veal forcemeat does not, a priori, appeal to me).
Melanouros is the Oblata mdanura, common in the Mediterranean; mormyros the modern Greek mour-mourion.themormillo of the Italians (Pagellus mormyrus); smarts the maridaor smarida of to-day (Smarts vulgaris); maine or mainis, a sprat; kuon halos a shark of one kind or another.
Kallichthys, according to Lenz (p. 515) might be the sterlet. The word means beauty-fish--a term which I, at least, would not think of applying to the sterlet. Some identify the kallichthys with the ancient anthias or ellops, the first of which is not mentioned in the Anthology. In Didot III, (5, 17) this beauty-fish in its Latin form is anthias, whose name also hints at pretty coloration; but Athenaeus says that Dorion, in his treatise on fish, declares the two to be different from each other. Kallichthys does not occur in Aristotle, and his anthias and ellops are beyond identification; he speaks of a certain aulopias-fish (? ellops-fish) "which some call anthias". The ellops is barely named in an enigma (Didot III, 7, 28) that plays upon its speechlessness; ellops meaning dumb. Gratius Faliscus, in his Halieutica, sings of "et pre-tiosus Helops, nostris incognitus undis" (line 120). This, so far as it goes, would do for the sterlet, since it can hardly be called a Mediterranean fish and is still, and rightly, considered to be "precious".
I suspect kichle, the sea-thrush--Doric kichela--may have survived in the South Italian "cicella" , one of the brown-tinted ophidiidae, though Aubert and Wimmer suggest a species of labrus, and others render it by wrasse. I shall touch upon ioulis and phykis later.
Twenty-two is a comparatively small list, to be sure, and not what we might have expected of a maritime and ichthyophagous people. Maybe the tribe of fishes does not lend itself readily to the purposes of the Anthology. It would be difficult to write a lament on the death of a favourite herring, or to compose a love-poem which should include an appropriate reference to fried soles. Other ancient sources amply atone for this deficiency. To read them, one would think that fish were the only things worth eating; a noteworthy change since the days of Homer whose heroes, if I remember rightly, ate them only out of necessity. (Homer mentions both fishing boats and various methods of catching fish). The unbelievable trouble and expense to which the Romans went with their piscinae rouses old Varro to a pitch of humorous indignation.
Yet Hedylus wrote one or two good epigrams about fish. "Have a good time, Clio; we'll wink at it, and, if you like, eat everything yourself; the whole conger costs only a drachma..." or the next one: "This kallichthys is done to perfection. Now quick! Bolt the door, for fear Agis should drop in..." (Didot III, 5, 16 and 17). Judging by his poems, he seems to have been something of a man-about-town, not only in the matter of turbots, and to have paid for his excesses, if a certain couplet of his in the Anthology applies to himself. "The daughter of limb-loosening Bacchus and limb-loosening Venus is limb-loosening Gouts. That was 300 B. C. How near they were to us, these men...
At the same time, one or the other of these poets might have found occasion to tell us something about conspicuous Mediterranean sea-creatures like whale, sea-turtle, torpedo, saw-fish, flying fish, the much-bepraised lamprey, or the wonder of the echineis or remora, with its fabled power of arresting the motion of ships. There is not a word of any kind of freshwater fish save in Bianor (7, 388), and in an epigram of Nicarchus (11, 405) making fun of a certain Nicon who has a wonderful nose for wine, though he cannot quickly pronounce upon its flavour, since it takes three long hours for the bouquet to mount up his proboscis--a nose, in short, of such formidable dimensions that when crossing a river he often catches little fish with it. Leonidas of Alexandria has another quatrain (n, 199) on a fish-catching nose--
Hook-nosed Sosiptolis need never buy his fish; The sea gives him good fare, according to his wish; Bringing no line or rod, with hook fixed to his nose, He pulls out everything that therein swimming goes.
Nor is there mention of sea-serpents or those many other monsters of the deep--Gaetulicus talks of "sea-beasts" devouring a drowned man (7, 275)--wherewith the water was peopled in our own mediaeval, and later, days. That is not hard to understand. For though Hellenic sea-deities are. remarkable, unique, for the radiant splendour of their conception, yet the ancients themselves, their creators, had a knack of keeping the sea, as such, in its proper place. They were indifferent to its mysteries. The poets of the Anthology, a dozen of whom represent the flowering of the finest civilization yet known on earth, had little of our sense of the wonder or beauty of this useless and monotonous mass of water. It was never "dear" to them save as a symbol of their sea-girt home (7, 256). The average of ail the epithets applied to it may be summed up in the word perfidious, Theirs was not Swinburne's point of view, but that of the British sailor of to day, who regards it solely in its relation to mankind; that is to say, either as a means of livelihood or as a menace to life--if we except some sporadic references in a choice spirit like Meleager, who has a place apart from the rest of them and may well compare the blue, or bright, eyes of Asclepias to the glad summer calm of Ocean, tempting the mariner to set forth on his love-voyage; or those memorable lines by Antiphilus (9, 546) which exhale such a breezy love of sea-faring that one marvels how sentiments like these came to find themselves in the Greek Anthology--
On a ship's poop I'd like to lie, if I could have my way, With over it the weather-cloths, thumped loudly by the spray; A sputtering fire between two stones, edging it like a mound, A pot perched on them, boiling brisk, with bubbling empty sound; An unwashed cabin-boy to serve; for table I would make Use of some handy plank; maybe a game of give-and-take With sailors gossiping around...Lately this chanced to me, Who always find myself at home in simple company.
Leonidas of Tarentum has left us two interesting epitaphs concerning fish. The first of them (7, 504) deals with a certain Parmis who had not his like among fishermen and who, while biting to death a ioulis-fish, allows it to slip down his throat and is choked. This creature is generally taken to be one of the modern iulis race, the most brilliantly tinted of all of them: no wonder Germans call it "Junker-fisch" or rainbow-fish, and North Italians "donzella" , and Neapolitans by a name which I should blush to print--
Fisher like Parmis, Callignotus' son, For wrasse or scarus was there few or none, Or greedy perch, or any fish that moves On rocky bottoms or in creviced grooves. But he, one day's first catch, drew from the sea His bane, when a rock-haunting ioulis he Biting to kill, let slip his fingers through, And wriggling down his narrow throat it flew. Then near where he his line, rod, hooks had cast, Rolling in agony he breathed his last, And, as the Fates had spun it, found his doom. Gripo, the fisher, built for him this tomb.
About four hundred years later Apollonides (7, 702) tells the same story of another man and another kind of fish, the phykis. He calls this fish red; others call it spotted; Aristotle says it is many-coloured in spring and white the rest of the year. The only modern phycis I know, P. blennoides, is silvery grey. The name (phykon, sea-weed) was taken from the Greek by Cuvier. Pliny, copying Aristotle, wrongly says that the phykis is the only fish that builds a nest. Lenz (p. 492) therefore inclines to identify it with a species of gobius which does build nests; Aubert and Wimmer, hesitatingly, with one of the sticklebacks which also build nests; Tristram translates it as hake. Hedylus names the phykis as being commended by an epicure (Didot III, 5, 18). This would hardly be the case with sticklebacks or even hakes.
Our fishermen generally avoid the risk of being choked in this fashion, because they allow the beasts to die of their own accord. Yet the Didot edition of the Anthology contains this note (to 7, 504) about an even stranger case in England: "Pari casu periit, sub finem Augusti mensis a. 1836, Errisii in Anglia piscator. Quum jaceret exanimis juxta arundines et situlam piscium plenam, qui cadaver inspexerunt ut mortis quae fuisset causa cognoscerent, repererunt pharyngi hominis inhaerentem pisciculum, quem opinati sunt propius piscatum considerantis in os insiluisse ac faucium aditum penitus obturasse".
The other of these epitaphs by Leonidas (7, 506) recounts the sad end of Tharsys the diver, who is "buried both on land and in the sea". He has descended into the depths of the Ionian to loosen an anchor, and is already rising to the surface again and holding out one hand to grasp his companions in the boat, when a terrible sea-monster--a "ketos", a shark rather than whale or seal--snaps him clean in two, and gulps down his lower half as far as the navel. The sailors, bringing to land the other half, a chill burden, bury it on the beach, and, adds the good Leonidas, "nevermore returned I to my country".
There are three more shark-poems, variants of each other, one anonymous (9, 371) and two by Ger-manicus Caesar (9, 17 and 18), which tell how a hare, escaping from the jaws of a land-dog, makes for the sea (Xenophon already noticed that pursued hares will cross a river, as I have seen rabbits do)--makes for the sea, only to find itself in those of a sea-dog, a shark; a most improbable state of affairs, although one of the authors has a neat point when he says that, earth and water being hostile to hares, the sky alone still seems to be open to them; there, too, lurks a dog (Sirius) among the stars.
We have still another shark story, equally absurd, with a moral attached to it (9, 269).
Then, as now, fishes were devourers of drowned men; so in three realistic epigrams by Hegesippus, Tullius Laureas, and Philippus (7, 276, 294 and 383). And the implements of this venerable calling have not greatly changed. There are pliant cane rods and lines of horse hair, and spears and tridents and fish-traps and curved hooks, and nets weighted with lead, nets for drawing and for casting, and creels of wicker, and floats. From poems by Satyrius and others it is clear that they practised the lucrative method of fishing by night, when the flare of pine torches which they lighted with flints--the "friend of mariners ", the "fire-producing stone of night-rowers" (acetylene lamps are now coming into fashion)--draws the inquisitive creatures to the surface. From one poem (9, 299) we learn that the seine was hauled ashore by means of ropes attached to oxen, an operation which is generally performed by a company of men and boys. The cattle are pictured as grumbling at their unaccustomed task.
An interesting expression occurs in the above-named verses by Satyrius (6, 11). He mentions the "mullet-catching tunic" of Kleitor, who fished by night. This might be either an additional garment worn as a safe-guard against the damp, or, were it not doing violence to a respectable word, a kind of overall such as is still worn to protect the ordinary clothing from the torch which, being fixed in the bow, sends its black and greasy fumes over the inmates of the boat. I daresay, however, that the fisher of those days went naked but for a loin-cloth; he would don a tunic only at night, and so become what was known as a monochiton.
And then, as now, the profession claimed its victims. Apollonides (7, 693) tells of a heap of stones, raised by his fellows, whereunder lies the body of sea-angling Glenis, who was swept off his rock and engulfed by the bitter swirl of a wave. Strange, too, is the death of fisherman Pyrrhus (7, 637). He was struck by lightning out at sea, and his boat drifted home of its own accord, bearing the news of his fate by sulphur and murky flame. Yet sometimes their end was peaceful. Andrew Lang's version of the poem on an old fisherman (7, 295) has the rare merit of possessing no more lines than the original by Leonidas--
Theris the old, the waves that harvested More keen than birds that labour in the sea, With spear and net, by shore and rocky bed, Not with the well-manned galley laboured he; Him not the star of storms, rior sudden sweep Of wind with all his years hath smitten and bent, But in his hut of reeds he fell asleep, As fades a lamp when all the oil is spent: This tomb nor wife nor children raised, but we His fellow-toilers, fishers of the sea.
Then too, as not now, appropriate offerings were made by the fisher-folk to render favourable their protecting divinities, as in 6, 33; or 6, 105--
This grilled red mullet I, fisher Menis, offering make, O Artemis of the Creeks, to thee; also this hake, And this wine-cup brimful, wherein there crumbled lies A bit of crusty bread. A meagre sacrifice! Grant in return my nets the fish may never shun, For all the nets are in thy keeping, Blessed One.
An anonymous author in the Planudean Appendix (311) contributes a couplet in praise of Oppian's Halieutics, wherein the reader of to-day will find as much ancient fish-lore as is good for him. There are three more lines on this book in Didot III, (3, 141).
Of those sauces and pickles for fish so beloved of antiquity there is no mention save in two enigmas (14, 23 and 36), and who would guess that the following means a fish served up in a sauce consisting of the blood of other fish? "Bitter is my life, my death is sweet, and both are water. I die pierced by bloodless spears. But if any one will cover me, dead, in a living tomb, I am first drenched in the blood of kinsmen". This strange and excellent recipe survives to-day in the islands where, if the fishermen are in a good humour and have made a good catch, they will cook a number of common fish together, squeeze the juice out of their bodies and then boil you, in this liquid, a red mullet.
Philodemus (n, 35) speaks of tarichos, smoked or dried or salted fish, as an article of diet. The word still means to dry or to embalm, and fish are still treated in this manner at Missolonghi and other places. You can buy as much as you please in the Athens market. It is a cheap and nasty product, which sounds a little more appetizing when translated as caviare in Philodemus' noteworthy menu of what is called, I believe, a Dutch picnic--
A kail Artemidorus gives, Aristarchus caviare, Philodemus a small liver, while little onions are The scot of Athenagoras; Apollophanes he may Two pounds of pork bring, though three remain from yesterday. Buy garlands, sandals and an egg, some perfume and, what's more, Say that I want them all to be here punctually at four.
Fine long names these epicures have; and their accents must be the joy of a versifying translator.
Wishing to learn more of tarichos and its possible connexion with avgotaraho, an expression which modern Greeks jokingly apply to two inseparable companions, I wrote to Mr. John Mavrogordato, a much-tried friend whose learning is only equalled by his affability. The reply will interest those who are curious in such matters:
"As far as I know there is no modern Greek word taraho meaning caviare or anything like it. The Greek for caviare is chaviari, and the word for dried or salted stuff (salume) is tarihos, which is not modern but ancient Greek. I doubt whether you would ever hear tarihos in genuine modern Greek; they would probably use some word like mpakala (baccala).
But avgotaraho is a very well known delicacy, not caviare, but the salted and dried roe of grey mullet or tunny or some other fish. Coated in wax, it looks rather like a dark brown banana, but much thinner, and when you have peeled off the wax, you cut the roe in very thin slices--it is about as hard as a plug of tobacco--and it has a delicious flavour of salt and smoke and beeswax. This is known as botargo. I had always believed that this word was a corruption of avgotaraho; the Oxford Dictionary, however, gives a plausible derivation from the Coptic outarakhon.
In any case avgotarahon obviously means pickled eggs--i.e. salted roe, and it shows that the correct modern form of the ancient tarihos would be taraho, if it were found uncompounded, but it isn't. This is confirmed by Ducange, who gives:
Augo tariho, Ova piscis condita, in Turcogr. Crusii, apud Hieron. Germanum, augotarahon (leg. tarihon) exponitur, ovum piscis. Italis Botarga.
This shows of course that his text read quite correctly the then as now avgotaraho, and that he wanted to correct it to the classical tariho, besides making it into two words.
Brigheriti's dictionary, by the way, gives augotarahon: bottarga.
So much for the ordinary meaning of avgotaraho, which you probably knew already. Now whether it has a figurative use denoting "two inseparable friends" I can't honestly say, but I think I have heard it; and it is a very possible expression, not from the grains of roe sticking together but because, now I come to think of it, botargo is always made in pairs like a twin banana, only flatter. They tell me that the botargo sold in England is made from the complete roe of the grey mullet and that consequently the pieces vary a good deal in size; and that all of it comes from Greece--usually from Preveza, at the mouth of the Gulf of Arta".
Thus far my friend. Botargo is also made in Tunis and doubtless elsewhere; I have heard that it was originally a Jewish invention.
The fish as a Christian symbol crops up in Di-dot III, (2, 718).
Grammarians are derided (11, 20) for using pompous and old-fashioned words like kamasenes (fish).
The ancients, although they knew the facts and classified the dolphin as half-way between mammal and fish, preferred to speak of it as wholly a fish--Bianor, recounting the story of how Arion, thrown overboard by pirates, was saved from a watery death by a dolphin, marvels that the sea should contain fishes which are juster than men. And he echoes this astonishment in a second poem, which describes a statue erected to commemorate this event (this may be the statue of Arion at Taenarus which is mentioned by Herodotus. The event is also recorded on certain coins of Lesbos; indeed the dolphin, in one shape or another, will be found engraved on the coins of at least forty different cities. A crowned dolphin represents the arms of the London Fishmon-gers' Compauy).
Christodorus tells of another statue which portrayed Poseidon in the act of giving a dolphin to his beloved Amymone. Yet another such work is hymned by Palladas: it figured the god of Love unarmed, and holding in his hands a dolphin and a flower--emblems of his dominion over earth and sea. Sometimes the same deity is discovered riding on a dolphin, a beast whose shape lends itself admirably to plastic represe n-tation.
Meleager has six dainty lines, wishing he were a dolphin, that he might carry through the waves his boy-friend Andragathus, his "soul's half", to Rhodes, whither the lad was bound. There is also a queer verse about a dog losing its life because it jumped into the sea to catch the dolphins, and Lucilius, in his best hyperbolic vein, tells the skipper of a boat which lets in a good deal of water that dolphins and Nereids are already sporting about inside her saloon and that, if she continues to leak after this fashion, there will soon be no sea left in the sea--
O Diophantes, the sides of the ship Leak, and through the port-holes the sea doth slip: Dolphins in schools, and Nereus' children bright Are swimming in thy ship before our sight. If we delay, soon men in it will sail, For water in the sea begins to fail.
Three poets, Anyte, Archias and Antipater, lament the fate of a dolphin which was cast on land during a tempest and then (says one of them) reverently buried by the country-folk. Another such creature is praised for having conveyed a weary, storm-tossed nightingale, friend of man, from the ocean to the beach; a third for performing the same humanitarian office to a dripping corpse and thereby losing its life, since it was left stranded high and dry on the shore. The most famous of corpse-transporting dolphins was probably that which brought to land the body of Hesiod, thrown into the sea by the sons of Phegeus, who suspected him of seducing their sister (Contest of Homer and Hesiod). According to a--non-Anthology--Greek legend, a certain of these officious sea-beasts on one occasion made a lamentable gaffe. It picked up, in mistake for a man, a living monkey which had been washed overboard near the Attic coast, and only discovered its error at the last moment, when, disgusted with the blunder, it left the poor monkey to drown within a few yards of the shore. The souls of the human dead, in the form of butterflies, were borne to the Elysian Fields on the back of a dolphin.
Dolphins were originally men; the transformation was performed by Bacchus.
From these and many other sources, we may gather that there was supposed to exist an obscure but powerful bond of affection between this asimal and humanity, and that it was endowed with a certain kindheartedness and man-loving propensity. This is obviously not the case; the dolphin cares no more a bout us than cares the haddock. What is the origin of this belief? I conjecture that the beast was credited with these social sentiments out of what may be called poetic reciprocation. Mankind, loving the merry gambols and other endearing characteristics of the dolphin, which has a playful trick of escorting vessels for its own amusement, whose presence signified fair weather, and whose parental attachment to its offspring won their esteem--quite apart from its fabled, perhaps real, love of music or at least of noisy sounds--were pleased to invest it with feelings akin to their own. They were fond of the dolphin; what more natural and becoming than that the dolphin should be fond of them? A sympathy for man, equally charming and equally fanciful, was attributed to other creatures as well; to the nightingale, for instance, or to the swallow, which profits by our hospitality solely in order to satisfy its personal nesting instincts; and long may it do so.
There is no reference in the Anthology to the play of colours on the dying dolphin, a subject that might have appealed to some of its poets. "We got aboard a coryphene, the dolphin of sailors. It gave us in its death agony the famous display, beautiful, but rather painful to watch, for the wonderful hues, as they changed, stayed in the eye, and sent to the mind only a message of a creature in a violent death struggle" (H. M. Tomlinson: The Sea and the Jungle).
Four kinds of crustaceans are named, and they are not easy to disentangle. We have the karis (5, 185) which is presumably the langouste (Palinurus vulgaris), and may sometimes be applied to prawns or shrimps--
Demetrius, to market! And from Amyntas buy Three graylings and ten soles, and also don't forget Two dozen wriggly prawns--he'll count the right supply-- Then bring them home, but six rose garlands also get From Theuborius and--well! in passing, perhaps you might Step in and Tryphera ask to join us in a bite.
This sounds as if the beasts were prawns; two dozen shrimps is not enough for such a party, and two dozen langoustes almost too much.
These crustaceans were generally roasted by the ancients, since it was considered unhealthy to eat them boiled. Athenaeus quotes one old poet saying:
"I'll make them redder than a roasted karis" and another:
"And then they danced like crook-limbed karides Dance on the glowing embers".
On the islands they still roast the flesh of the langouste after removing its head, and preserve it pickled in brine. Karides (karidia) signifies shrimps nowadays; "bent karides" and "the small race of karides" were the shrimps of Aristotle. The word karis, in the singular, does not occur in his writings. There is a seven-line enigma on the karis (Didot III, 7, 54)-
Next, there is mention of a karabos, a spiky crab, Maecius Quintus (6, 8g) tells of a karabos, which was caught with a rod and eaten roasted by a certain old fisherman, who dedicated its empty shell to Priapus of the beach, in the hope of winning his good will. The karabos of Aristotle has been identified with the langouste (Aubert and Wimmer); that of Oppian with the Cancer elephas of Herbst (Lenz).
Another crab, pagouros, is commemorated by Statylius Flaccus (6, 196) in some quaint lines--
This sand-diver, crook-legged, with two-clawed gear, Neckless, eight-footed, who can backward steer, This strong-crouped swimmer, that hard shell doth wear, This crab, Copasus, a line-fisher, here To Pan doth as his catch's first fruits bear.
This species is said to be the Eriphia spinifrons of Herbst. According to Lenz, the pagouros of Oppian is probably Linne's Cancer maenas. Aubert and Wimmer despair of throwing any light upon the pagouroi of Aristotle. It is characteristic of the confusing ways of modern nomenclature that the name pagurus should now be given to the following species, the hermit-crab, which has been clearly described by the ancients; a doubly stupid proceeding, since the hermit-crab's tail is certainly not "fast".
Simonides has also the karkinos, which corresponds to Oppian's and Aristotle's description of the hermit-crab (I have lost the reference). It was the karkinos to whom fell the honour of putting an end to the battle of the Frogs and the Mice. Its flesh is described (not in the Anthology) as heavy and indigestible. "You will never make the karkinos walk straight" (Didot III, 6, 277).
I find no reference to fresh-water crayfish, nor yet to another species which must have struck the ancients--the land-crab, thelphusa, the fearsome creature that you will encounter chiefly in the serpentine districts, where moisture is more easily retained than on the limestone. Philippson (p. 558) says that this crab is a favourite Lenten dish. And, talking of crabs, an altogether new species will strike the modern traveller in the country districts of Greece--tinned ones bearing a label which speaks highly for Japanese enterprise: "These crabs are taken frota the cold water of the North Sea. Packed with greatest care in Japan by an improved process".
I am relieved to say that the old word astakos does not occur in the Anthology. The astakos of Aristotle is clearly a lobster, and a friend tells me that in modern Greece it still means the same. So it may do, and so it does. At the same time, if you ask for an astako, as I never fail to do when there is any chance of getting it, they will probably give you a langouste. And thank God for that. Far be it from me to say a word against any of the recipes, hot or cold, for dressing a langouste; in the long run, I think, the simple Greek method is the most appetizing--cold, with olive oil and lemon juice and herbs of different kinds. Here is a more Sybaritic one, which I owe to the kindness of my long-suffering friend in Athens:
For 1/2 oke of langouste, take: 100 drames of onions 200 " " tomatoes. 100 " " white wine 50 " " butter Salt, pepper, and a spoonful of chopped parsley. Cut the onions very fine and put them in a saucepan with the butter. Put the saucepan on the fire till the onions get a light brown colour. Then throw in the tomatoes, after having them cleaned and cut into fine slices, or made into a pulp. Mix the contents of the saucepan on the fire for a few minutes and add the wine, a little water, salt, pepper and the chopped parsley. Let the whole boil for a short time and then throw in the langouste after having removed with scissors the end of the feet and the horns, and let the langouste and the feet boil for 18-20 minutes. In case the sauce does not become thick enough, increase the intensity of the fire and let the contents boil till the sauce becomes sufficiently thick. If oil instead of butter be used, the dish can also be served cold. Here are the metrical values of Greek weights and measures: English ones are beyond me: 1 oke = 1,420 kilo, 50 drames = 0,133 kilo.
Cephalopods. There are two epigrams on a fragment of a scolopendra--probably, thinks Prof. Mackail, the tentacle of some huge squid--which was tossed ashore in a storm and hung up as a gift to the deities of Ocean. The following is one of them (6, 223)--
This broken body of sea-roaming beast, A scolopendra, on the sandy shore, Torn by the rocks, all fouled by the foam's yeast, And lengthened out to twice four poles or more, Hermonax found, as in his fisher's trade He drew the deep. This offering now hath he To Ino and her son Palaemon made, The sea-gods' due--a monster of the sea.
The sea-scolopendra of Aristotle seems to have been a worm of the Nereidae-family (bait-worm).
The ordinary cuttle-fish (teuthis; whence, I suppose, the Italian totano) is named (10, 16), as well as the octopus, whose colour changes have been admirably described by Aristotle and are also noticed by a couple of these Anthology poets. Of this animal two fantastic stories are told: how an eagle, pouncing upon an octopus, becomes entangled in its limbs and falls into the sea with its prey (9, 10), and how another octopus, thrown into the air by Phaedo the fisherman, accidentally alights upon a sleeping hare and holds it fast, whereby Phaedo gains one prize from the sea and another from the land. There are three variants of this last and peculiarly inept yarn (9, 14 and 94 and 227). The Greek word sepia is not found in the Anthology, nor is there any mention of sea-products like urchins or anemones or coral. I will mention later the argonaut, which Aristotle rightly classed among the cephalopods.
Sponges, "blossoms of the sea", the "watery couch of sea-roving Triton", are named about four times; there is a dedicatory epigram by Ariston (6, 306) showing that cooks used them for cleaning up, and three others, one by Phanias and two by Paul, in which sponges figure among the implements necessary to scribes of their period. Here is one of the latter's (6, 65) pedestrian but otherwise interesting poems, the "rough stone" in question being pumice--
Lead disk that, following the ruler straight, Correct its measured track can indicate; Hard steel that cuts the pens; the ruler too, Whose guiding keeps the line exactly true; And the rough stone which, when dulled by long use, The split-toothed reed with sharpened point renews; The sponge, whereon sea-roving Triton makes His submerged bed, which mends the pen's mistakes; The ink-box, whose pigeon-holes in one unite For the art of writing all that's requisite-- Callimenes to Hermes gives, now he Rests his worn hand, weak from senility.
Land-shells will have to find a place here. From an epigram of one of the poets called Automedon we learn that snails were eaten (11, 319). He is laughing at the ease with which Athenian citizenship was granted to outsiders--
Charcoal in sacks if you bring ten They'll make you straight a citizen, But if a pig, one so magnanimous Will then even be dubbed Triptolemus. Also your backer Heraclides With quite a small bribe satisfied is, Be it some cabbage kails, Lentils, or little snails. Furnished with some such bakshish small, Yourself Erechtheus, Cecrops, call, Or Codrus p'rhaps--that's your affair-- No one an obol's damn will care.
Crates of Thebes wishes to regulate his life accor-ding to the "humility of the snail and the economy of the ant"; he was a Cynic philosopher. There is a childishly simple enigma on the snail in Didot III (7, 17). The Romans had a cult of snails, and Varro describes how to set up a profitable snail-garden.
The purple dye of the murex is named four or five times; it was used for tinting hair-nets and suchlike. The only mollusc mentioned as being eaten is the ous, the ormer (= auris maris) or ear-shell (5, 181). Oysters were relished by men of antiquity, but the Anthology contains no reference to them from this point of view. Antiphilus (9, 86) describes how a greedy mouse, nibbling at an open oyster, is forthwith clapped up and entombed in its shell; the pearl is named in Christian times both by Saint Gregory and Paulus Silentiarius, the latter of whom has an elegant effusion addressed to a lady (5, 301), offering her the gift of a pearl. Its eight lines have been translated by J. A. Pott, and not badly, into sixteen English ones.
The portrait of Aphrodite is engraved on a sea. shell; another such cameo represents a sleeping Eros (9, 325)--
Of old on sea-washed rock my home was in the deep, With the luxuriance of sea-weed clad: But in my bosom now that winsome one doth sleep, Eros, the well-crowned Cyprian's dainty lad.
Shells of the paper nautilus, argonauta, served as ornaments for young girls who, when they were married, consecrated them to Venus together with their other childish toys. This comes out in some lines by Callimachus (Jacobs' Appendix, 45) which figure a nautilus telling its own history: how, after a seamanlike (nautilos) life on the waves--sailing with the breeze, or rowing in calm weather--it is shipwrecked on the shore of lulis (home of the great Simonides, in the island of Ceos) and, no longer a companion of water-loving halcyons, is given by Selenaea of Smyrna, on her marriage, to Venus Arsinoe, with a prayer for favours.
In the twenty-line version by Merivale of this twelve-line poem, I should have preferred if, instead of "polished shell", which suggests nothing, he had stuck to the original nautilus, since the point of the poem turns on it. I also think that this old name should have been retained by Linne for the beast--it is a Greek word for a Greek animal--instead of being conferred on an exotic (of however reputable lineage) that frequents the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Other shells were offered to other deities; one of the many-winding, labyrinthine species was dedicated by Dionysus, son of Protarchus, as a plaything to the nymphs of a certain sea-cave (6, 224); while a second, of the hard and trumpet-shaped variety, is given to the Phoebus of some cape in Bithynia by Damis the old fisherman, who, with this "humble offering from pious heart", implores the god that lie may encounter death without suffering disease (6, 230). One would like to linger over this aspect of ancient life, so different from that of our own day.
The catalogue of insects and creeping things mentioned in the Anthology is relatively long; longer than that of the mammals; some thirty in all. There was a notable accession to its numbers in Graeco-Roman days, when poets like Lucilius used these small deer for similes which to-day sound rather jejune. Yes; it must be confessed that Lucilius is not up to his usual mark in these particular epigrams; they would naturally have more point if, like his contemporaries, we knew something about the people whom he was caricaturing.
Here, meanwhile, is the list: ant and flying ant, spider, scorpion, wasp, beetle (kantharos and sphondyle), caterpillar, worm, maggot, silkworm (ser and bombyx), bookworm (ses and silphe), woodworm (thrips and teredon}, leech, bee, cricket, cicada, locust (attelabos), another such animal called kalamitis, fly, dogfly, gadfly, gnat, mosquito, tick, flea, louse, bug.
Philippus (g, 438) notes the cunning of ants who made a bridge of straw in order to reach some honey which had been placed out of their reach safely, as the owner thought, in a dish of water. Lucilius describes Menestratus astride upon an ant as if it were an elephant, and Adrastus, another little man, seated on a flying ant and addressing it in grandiloquent style as "Pegasus". He continues this kind of joke with spiders. Tiny Chaeremon was lifted up by the breeze and would have been blown away, had his foot not caught in a spider's web--again, the same person was knocked down by a poplar leaf and now lies flat on the ground "like Tityus" (the son of Earth, whose body covered nine furlongs) or rather, adds the poet, "like a caterpillar". Nicarchus is in the same vein. A spider spins Demas into its web and holds him fast; Diophantes, weary of life, hangs himself with the thread of a spider; another of these heroes (n, 407) is snatched up by a fly, dropped once more, and now hangs by his eyelids from a spider's web.
The cleverness of spiders at weaving is praised more than once. Young girls, on the occasion of their marriage, dedicate to Aphrodite, among other things, their face-veils "fine as spiders' webs". Erycius (9, 233) tells of a woodcutter called Mindon who was bitten by a spider (? a solpuga) in the left foot. The limb began to fester and was amputated at the knee; now he hobbles about on one leg with the help of a stick--
As thou, poor Mindon, wert cutting dry trees, A spider, hid there, did thy left foot seize And bit it from beneath. The venom spread, Eating the fresh flesh under the heel's tread; Then thy strong leg was cut off at the knee, And a wild olive staff now carries thee.
I have already mentioned Panopeus the lion-hunter, who was killed by a scorpion. A raven is described (9> 339) as swooping down on a scorpion and allowing itself to be stung by the beast. No raven would be such a fool. "Scorpion" was also used as a term of reproach; Ammianus (11, 227) thus addresses some unpleasant person--
Sooner beetles (kantharos) honey, mosquitoes milk supply Than, scorpion, an act of thine could edify: Doing no good thyself, others thou dost debar From doing it: thou'rt loathed by all, like Saturn's star.
The wasp was regarded as a symbol of malignity. Poets like Hipponax and Archilochus are compared to wasps for the cruelty of their verses. According to Archelaus (Didot III, 3, 51), this insect issued out of the dead body of a horse--
Out from the carcase of a horse engendered were These wasps. Note thus what things from what nature can rear.
There is only one reference to the moth, though not by name, in a pretty couplet by Meleager (5, 57), and none at all to the butterfly, not even the time-honoured metaphor likening its escape from the chrysalis to the flight of the human soul from earth. Ancient literature is somewhat niggard in its mention of the poetic butterfly. Regarding caterpillars, Anti-phanes is furious (9, 256), and rightly furious, with a certain hairy-backed caterpillar, because it devoured the last remaining apple on the highest branch of a half-dead tree--an apple on which he had set his heart.
The worm, skolex, and maggot, eule, are associated with the dead; so in two sepulchral epigrams by Leonidas of Tarentum (7, 472 and 480). The use of maggots which drop from the head of goats is explained in an oracle (14, 149) given to Timocrates of Athens, who went to enquire about epilepsy. Gregory (8, 105) mentions silk, the "delicate threads of the seres", the Seric--Indian or Chinese--worms; silkworms. The other word for silkworm, bombyx, is applied in the compound goniobombykes (Didot III, 5, 25) to bookworms, human ones, that labour or spin webs in dark corners. This particular poem is by Herodi-cus. In a similar one by Philippus (u, 321) the same grammarians are called setes akanthon, thorn-moths or thorn-worms, because they browse on thorny passages in books; in the following epigram they are setes akanthobatai, clambering about thorns; and elsewhere (IT, 347) akanthologoi, fond of thorny questions. So bookworm then had the same sense as to-day--those who feed on recondite learning. The ses of Aristotle, however, can be nothing but the clothes-moth, Tinea pellionella.
The Aristotelean silphe is not to be identified, though some think it may mean the cockroach. But silphe in the Anthology is again the bookworm, and one of the five poets called Evenus has a violent outburst against this pest, cursing the "bitterest enemy of the Muses" for his mischief (9, 251); the last line, still defective, has been slightly emended by Jacobs--
Page-eater thou, the Muses' bitterest foe, Hidden destroyer, feeding constantly On stolen wisdom, why, black worm, lurk low In holy works, emblem of jealousy? Far from the Muses fly! And do not show The envious tip of thy sharp probe to me--
to which the following is the obvious reply:
Quoth the bookworm "I don't care a bit If the writer has wisdom or wit. A volume must be Pretty tough to bore me As completely as I can bore it".
Lucilius remarks of a popular boxer (n, 78) that his head is so bashed about as to resemble a sieve or the lower part of a worm-eaten book; he is to go on boxing, none the less, for even if hit on the head again, he can only be hit in the same old dents; there is no room for any fresh ones. Still more far-fetched is the conceit of Strato who, viewing the portrait on wood of one of his many loves, wishes for nothing better than to be able to turn into a woodworm, thrips, or a crawling teredon, in order that he might eat it up (12, 190). Thrips seems to signify the larvae of moths that feed on wood, while teredon applies to any kind of boring worm.
The spondyle or sphondyle of Aristotle is also not to be identified; dictionaries call it an insect which lives on the roots of plants and has a strong smell when attacked. The word occurs once in Didot III (6, 277), in whose Latin version it figures as blatta; its evil smell is noted. Blatta in most cases signifies a cockroach. Here is the line: Donee blatta fugiendo pessimum flatum emittit; and a variant: Namque ut blatta jacit fugiens inamabile virus. Some cockroaches are found on plants; but so are also certain of the Heteroptera, of the shield bugs, which emit a far more pungent and offensive odour. The Keeper of the Insects in the British Museum tells me that the larvae of the modern genus spondylis live in old fir-stumps, but that the beetle does not seem to be characterized by any particular smell, although one of the Longicorns, to which this genus belongs--the musk beetle, Aromia moschata--has a fairly strong odour.
We have two mentions of the leech. A certain ruler is likened to a "cruel leech" (n, 359), and Flaccus (6, 193) talks of an old fisherman as a "leech of the sea-crags", presumably because he sat with his line day and night on a rock, as if glued to it.
There are fifty or more references in the Anthology to the bee and its products--no disproportionate-number, when one considers that, from time immemorial, men have held in veneration this cantankerous and fussy insect which, by dint of specializing in communistic habits, has lost every shred of individuality.
A swarm of bees settled upon the mouth of Pindar at birth, foretelling the sweetness of his verse--likewise on that of Menander. Plato writes of Love asleep, while bees sprinkle honey upon his divine lips--Cicero tells the same story of Plato himself, and perhaps (who knows?) somebody else has told it of Cicero by this time. Sappho and Erinna are likened to bees that gather honey from many blossoms; as to Nossis--Eros himself has melted the wax upon which her poems are inscribed. There are sundry metaphors on these lines. Oribasius the physician, a most learned person, is compared to a bee for his zeal in hiving the wisdom of predecessors. The poet Cyrus, exiled by his Emperor, talks of himself as a bee persecuted by drones; Lucian, always sensible, suggests that a man intent upon acquiring riches is like a bee whose honey will in due course be devoured by others: a sound parallel, which a good many p eople fail to take to heart. "To speak ill of others is Attic honey"--so ends a quatrain by Palladas. This looks as if he had been reading La Rochefoucauld.
There is a description of a primitive form of candle made with beeswax, which clients gave to their patrons at the Saturnalia festival; and the old belief that these creatures are "oxborn", that is, generated in the carcase of a bull, crops up more than once, in spite of the fact that the ancients themselves, beginning with Aristotle, noticed the dislike of the bee to any kind of strong smell. They were confusing the bee with the drone-fly, Eristalis tenax, to which it bears a close resemblance (T. F. Royds: The Beasts, Birds and Bees of Virgil, 1918).
Two sad accidents are recorded in connexion with this insect. Both Bianor and Antipater of Thessalonica lament the fate of baby Hermonax who, innocently toddling or crawling too near to the hives, was massacred by their inmates, that drove into him their wretched stings, more savage that those of vipers. The death of a certain rustic, mourned by Antiphilus, is more singular; so singular as to verge on the improbable. He had climbed a precipice with a rope after wild honey, and, while hanging there, was sent rolling down to death by his own dog, which bit through the rope because of the honey that trickled down it.
This same Antiphilus has also a neat poem in praise of the bee and its works; Nicias, friend of Theocritus, another; two more, by Meleager and Strato, warning the bee not to trouble their respective loves, are of unusual finish and charm. Marcus Ar-gentarius, in a different vein, has four lines about a girl called Melissa ("Bee") who, like her namesake, drops sweet honey when she gives her kisses, and then stings murderously (when it conies to paying for them). Statues of Pan were set up, as guardian of the hives. Cliton, the bee-keeper, is described as dedicating to the gods a honeycomb in place of the usual warm-blooded sacrifice; Diodorus Zonas, in some delightful lines, refers to the custom of smoking out the bees with deft hand. There is also an anonymous sepulchral epigram on an old bee-keeper who lived all by himself among the mountains--a poem remarkable from more than one point of view. I doubt whether it can be made to read better, more stonily, than in Mackail's prose translation--
Naiads and chill cattle-pastures, tell to the bees when they come on their springtide way, that old Leucippus perished on a winter's night, setting snares for scampering hares, and no longer is the tending of the hives dear to him; but the pastoral dells mourn sore for him who dwelt with the mountain peak for neighbour.
All this encroaches, I fear, upon the category of domestic animals. For the rest, I cannot say when bees were first domesticated--if such a word is applicable to them--in these regions. There are passages in Homer showing that honey was appreciated, as when Achilles deposes some on the pyre of Patroclus in accordance, I suppose, with the Eastern belief that the bee, descended from Heaven, is immortal and a symbol of immortality. His heroes also mixed it with wine, which is said to be an Indo-Germanic custom, though it may well have grown up in independent fashion all over the ancient world wherever the ingredients were simultaneously procurable. The compound, which the Romans called mulsum and which may be taken to be unfermented mead, is named by Diogenes Laertius and again in a felicitous quatrain by Strato, likening a friendship between two young boys to this oinomeli, this lovely union of twc lovely things, wine and honey--
'Tis sweet in undiluted wine bees' honeyed stream to pour, And sweet, while beautiful oneself, some young friend to adore, Even as curled Cleobulus is now Alexis' care: The immortal mead of Kypris--the blending of this pair!
A mixture of honey and wine and pepper named conditum is required for his stomach-trouble by Palladas, who peevishly asks what the word can mean, and, although a schoolmaster by trade, professes to be unaware of its derivation from the Latin condio. Whether Homer's countrymen built hives for the bees is not clear to me. In the Odyssey there is mention of a cavern of the Nymphs which contained marble amphoras and urns wherein the bees made their home: were the vessels specially constructed for this purpose? Wild honey must certainly have been commoner than at present, as common as it is in India or Africa to-day.
Indeed, the literature of the bee, even in olden days, is not easily exhausted. These men required wax for their tablets and statuary models and encaustic painting and what not, as did the Christians of later days for their church candles--whence those pious conjurations in mediaeval Latin (possibly reproduced from early heathen originals) imploring the mother of the bees not to fly far away, but to settle with her swarm on the tree prepared for her, where she may do her work in the name of the Lord. Furthermore, they thought mighty well of the bee's industry and of its orderly habits, and drew many edifying parables therefrom, forgetful of the fact that it loafs for nearly half the year and is orderly only because it lacks such independence of character and imagination as even a louse possesses.
Having no sugar--they knew sugar; it was called sakhar or meli to kalaminon, cane-honey, and is first mentioned by Theophrastus, later on by Strabo, Aelian, Seneca, Lucan and others; it came from India and was used, according to Pliny, for medicinal purposes; one of the Anthology poets, Ammianus, has a couplet about "licking the sugar-cane"--having no sugar worth speaking of, they also needed honey up to a recent period. The Romans actually imported it from north of the Alps, and that bee-maniac Charlemagne, later on, had sixty hives of his own. It is not surprising, therefore, that their poets from earliest to latest days should sing the praises of honey, an overrated article of diet which ruins with its perfumery flavour whatever it is used for sweetening, be it liquid or solid. An anonymous writer in the Planudean Appendix records that "too much of honey is gall". He had perhaps been living in Greece, like myself.
The ancients had a peculiar fondness for the cicada, fettix, and for the cricket, akris; it was a veritable cult, the fairest expression of which I take to be the well-known poem in the Anacreontea. Glyptic art also abounds in gracious images of them; one need only glance into works like those of Furtwangler and Imhoof-Blumer. The Anthology contains a great number of references to both, although Agathias, when he speaks of the akris as destructive to the harvest (11,365) must have had some other species in mind, since crickets are not likely to injure plants. He errs in good company, if he errs at all, for Theocritus--whom he copied closely, as we have seen in the case of the tree-frog--uses the same word in the sense, possibly, of locust (Idyll V, 108). Kynaston, therefore, commenting on another passage in Theocritus where the word akris occurs again (Idyll I, 52) calls akridoihera a "locust-trap"--because locusts may injure the vines. This strikes me as a scholarly misreading. The child in this Idyll is not building a trap for locusts (what bait could he use?); he is weaving a cage to contain crickets which he means to keep as pets.
In saying this, I know I have weighty authority against me, and as the matter concerns no less a person than Theocritus, I will go into it a little more carefully. I admit, then, that (1) the suspicious word akridothera means, literally translated, a contrivance for catching akrides, and that (2) in Idyll V. 108 it looks as if the akris were not a cricket but a grasshopper or locust of some species which may leap over a hedge and, for all I know, damage the vines--while not forgetting (a) that a cricket can, and does, leap too, and could likewise cross a hedge in a series of two or three jumps, and (b) that Theocritus may have shared the common opinion as to crickets injuring plants, and (c) that, as the keeper of the insects in the British Museum informs me, the large green or long-horned grasshopper, which one would suppose to be the plant-destroying insect in question, "prefers an animal diet", and (d) that the requirements of verse or common usage may have suggested to Theocritus the employment of the word akris in preference to something like mastax or parnops or achetas or whatever else insects of this tribe were called, and (e) that akris is elsewhere used to designate what is unquestionably the locust, as in Diodorus' account (III, 2) of the akridophagi of the desert and their woeful deaths, and (f) that akris, nowadays at least, is the correct term for the destructive locust--witness the current modern proverb: "San na perasane akridhes", as if locusts had passed by.
Up to this point there may be room for dispute. But the learned author of the Doric lexicon (Theocritus, London, 1829) whom Kynaston followed in his interpretation of akridothera ("decipula ad locustas capiendas", that is, a locust-trap) goes further than I care to go. He says "akris enim locustam significat, quam Galli a saltando vocant Sauterelle". In this he has all antiquity against him; to say nothing of common sense. To begin with: the French for akris is grillon rather than sauterelle; and then, although the Greeks may have had some queer sports and hobbies, I feel sure that none of them ever indulged in the nightmarish pastime of trying to catch grasshoppers (sauterelles) in traps. The boy who in Idyll I. 52 plaits the akridothera is doubtless plaiting what other boys or other poets would call by the ordinary word akridotheke.
No importance need be attached to the fact that Heredia, in one of his Trophees, renders cricket or cicada as "verte sauterelle"--
Ici gaet, Etranger, la verte sauterelle Que durant deux saisons nourrit la jeune Hellae, etc.
--such accidents are liable to happen to the best of us, when we try to stretch Natural History upon the Procrustean couch of the sonnet-form.
A third insect of the same class is once named, the attelabos, a kind of wingless grasshopper, according to the dictionaries. It seems to have appeared in multitudes, and was possibly the young of the true locust, whose unformed wings allow them only to hop about. Grotius has rendered it in this passage as bruchus, equivalent to the Greek brouchos, and the poem in question, by Lucilius (n, 265), runs as follows--
If against locusts or dogflies there be crusade, Or against mice, or frogs, or the fleas' horse brigade, Fear, Caius, lest some one should come and enlist thee, As being fit to fight against such enemy. But if 'tis question of brave men--keep on thy games; 'Tis not a Pigmies' war on cranes that Rome proclaims
Bruco, nowadays, is the Italian for caterpillar, which shows how the meanings of these words shift about.
These creatures, attelaboi, are mentioned by Herodotus when he says that a certain Libyan tribe dries them, reduces them to powder, and, sprinkling their, in milk, drinks them. I fail to see why his description should not apply to the full-grown locust, which unfortunately is not wingless. Sundevall identifies the attelabos of Aristotle with the true locust (Gryllus migratorius). Be that as it may, such customs are wondrously slow to change. Here is Doughty, more than two thousand years later, writing of the Bedouin women of Arabia, with their dried locust meat stived in sacks--"they mingle this, brayed small, with their often only liquid diet of sour buttermilk. Locust powder is not victual to set before guests".
The word kalamitis is used by Leonidas of Tar-entum (7, 198) as synonymous with akris. Perhaps it is the same as kalamaia which, from its colour and slender form, may stand for the praying mantis. Or perhaps it means something else, for Didot's Latin rendering of the passage in which the word occurs (Ephilato kalamitiri) is "dilexit me in-culmis-degentem".
The tettix and the akris, then, were kept in cages as pets and fed on moist green stuff, which is not their natural food, since the former lives on the juice it obtains by boring into tree-branches, and the latter prefers an animal to a vegetable diet. They were thus kept for the sake of their "music". Now the song of the cicada is as nerve-racking to most English people as that of the canary bird, or more so. Other facts point in the same direction, to wit, that the ancients possessed ears different from our own, ears both coarser and more refined. For they claim to detect subtle modulations in the cicada's melody, which they call sweeter than that of the cuckoo and which was supposed to provoke noonday sleep (the cicada, unlike the cricket, is silent at night--with the rarest exceptions). I can perceive at the utmost two variants in that song which, needless to say, is no song at all but a loud and persistent, though to me not disagreeable, rasping sound; the idea of keeping one of these ear-splitting musicians caged in his room will not occur to everybody. We are delighted to hear them out of doors, not so much for the sake of their chant itself as because it proclaims the plenitude, the full summer glory, of earth and sky; what memories of other summers, long gone by, does not that first cicada's chirp evoke! None the less one calls to mind, even on such occasions, another saying of the ancients: "Happy are the cicadas, for they have voiceless wives", since, were the ladies gifted with the strident notes of their husbands, many districts would be almost uninhabitable after June.
There is no doubt about it: these men of antiquity, like their modern descendants, loved noise as such--it is one aspect of a rowdy-dowdy element which interpenetrates even the best period of Greek history; and not only that. As Professor Mahaffy and others have pointed out, they could no more bear solitude and silence than can any Mediterranean race of today. The cicada made a cheerful din, and kept it up without a moment's respite; it gave them what they craved for--company; and they were duly grateful to that beast which, although consecrated to Apollo, became at the same time the emblem of bad poets, by reason of its ceaseless chatter. So Plato tells us somewhere that those men who preferred singing even to food and drink--and there are such men in the South--were changed by the Muses into cicadas. Shepherds are credited in the Anthology with preferring its music to that of the lyre. These writers hold it to be the "nightingale of the Muses" striking sweet melody from its wings or back (chirping with tongueless mouth, says one of them; with two-tongued mouth, says another); in fact, so many polite things are said that it is quite a relief to find Meleager begging the cicada to "sing a new song" by way of a change.
It is otherwise with the akris race, those terrestrial crickets, the "Muses of the fields" whose note, however monotonous, is softer and has a clear ring, like metal or glass--according to the species--that is struck, besides being broken by more or less regular pauses. They are still kept as pets in many countries; the Chinese, for instance, match them for money against each other, the Japanese cult of them has been described by Hearn, and the festival of the crickets on Ascension Day at Florence is known to all visitors. There is an enigmatical couplet by Simonides about the cicada's contest in Athenaeus, who, after saying that it gives trouble to those not conversant with history, proceeds to explain it. The same verse figures twice in Didot, who supplies a note.
A cicada, according to Leonidas, was figured on the spear of Athene. In an epigram by Theodoridas the lad Charixenos dedicates to the Nymphs his childish locks together with a pretty hair-pin shaped like a cicada--the old Athenians, before the Persian War, wore golden cicadas in their bonnets--and two other poems tell how a cicada of brass was offered to Apollo by the winner in a lyre-playing contest, because such a creature happened to alight on his instrument at the moment when one of ths strings snapped, and, miraculously carrying on with its tender voice the interrupted note--rather a miraculous affair altogether--enabled him to win the prize. Here is Paul's version of this incident in the shape of an English sonnet--
Hear me my match with Parthes now repeat! Lo! scarce my Locrian strain began to ring, When, 'neath the plectrum, jangling, snapped a string, And my sure triumph menaced a defeat; Yet ere the wanting notes failed incomplete I on the bridge saw a cicada spring, Who, with the other chords alternating, Added his rustic voice in measured beat. To thee, Apollo, blest Latona's son, I, Locrian Eunomos, this offering made In memory of the victory I won; And that my debt to him be also paid, See on my lyre in bronze the singer done, Who brought me at my need such tuneful aid.
Another two poems speak of a certain hunter to whom no game came amiss, and who was punished for catching a cicada with birdlime by having bad luck for the rest of his life. Boys are sternly admonished for the same offense, and an inconsiderate swallow which had captured a cicada as food for its young--a thing no swallow in its senses would dream of doing, though several ancient writers accuse it of this crime (Plutarch writes the same of a sparrow, which is more probable)--is bidden to let it drop again, since it is not right for one songster to prey on another. There is also a lament for a cicada which has entangled itself in a spider's web. Now this may be a strain on the imagination of any one who has e xperienced the bullet-like impact of a flying cicada in his face, but some of these southern spiders' webs are of such a texture that a friend of mine rescued not a cicada, but a titmouse, out of their tough and sticky strands. One modern author, whose name I have forgotten to note, speaks of a lizard held fast by a spider's web.
In short, the cicada has this in common with the dolphin that both creatures are supposed to be endowed with sentiments towards humanity of the same nature as those which humanity cherished for them. There was a link of affection between the two. Men loved the cicada; what more reasonable than that it should requite the feeling? They loved it; and they ate it. Aristotle says that early in the season the males are the most savoury; afterwards, the females; and that the larva of the cicada tastes best before it has burst its covering. A disgusting banqviet...Suggestive are the epitaphs on these little favourites. We read of a pet cricket buried in a coffin of clay; another, after being kept tame for two years, has a small monument erected over its grave. Archias writes a lament about a cricket which was devoured by ants; Anyte tells of a beloved cricket and cicada which were interred in the same tomb--
For her cicada, who the oaks clung near, And the fields' nightingale, her cricket, here One common grave Maid Myrto gave. And with young girlish tears her eyes grew dim, When both her pets were snatched by Hades grim.
Such verses are by writers of standing, writers like Leonidas of Tarentum, who has an individual note and never says anything which another poet could have expressed more happily. They betray both intensity and diversity of feeling, and are no more to be regarded as rhetorical exercises than our own epitaphs on pet dogs or birds, heartfelt to the verge of absurdity as some of them are. Even supposing them to be such, even supposing them to be artificial, it would not alter the fact that we are confronted by a change in literary taste. For rhetoric must approximate to reality, even as imagination must have its roots in fact. Rhetoric serves as a sign-post to true sentiment; it corresponds to some underlying state of mind and dare not express; what is palpably incongruous or inept.
Here, for example, among the rest of such epitaphs, is a significant one by no mean poet--on what? On an ant. Who would compose such an inscrip-tion nowadays? The proceeding would overstep that limit of quaintness which is a legitimate and often delectable ingredient in lyric poetry. It would verge on the inane; I think we should fail to see the point. Antipater of Sidon's farewell verses to an ant prove that his readers must have seen some point. A good many of them, and a good many of us moderns, might be glad to be commemorated after life in so worthy a fashion as this minute' insect, which may have been crushed to death by the poet's foot while busily carrying away the grains of corn from some threshing area--
Here by this threshing floor, ant of much toil, A mound I build thee of the thirsty soil, That even in death Demeter's furrowed grain May cheer thee in the glebe where housed thou'rt lain. (Should perhaps be laid; but what does it matter?)
These Anthology people, like most of us, were bothered by flies; they used fly-traps and kept special slaves to drive away the nuisance, as do the sensible Orientals of to-day. Nicarchus tells of that uncommonly lean person Menestratus that he was carried off by a fly after the fashion of Ganymede and his eagle; Lucilius makes a mosquito do the same with a child called Erotion, A dog-fly, kynomyia, is also named; Lucilius (n, 265) mentions it, and an anonymous couplet in the Planudean Appendix (9) alludes to its pestering habits. There is mention of the gadfly, myops, in one of the many epigrams (9, 739) on Myron's bronze statue of a heifer, which was so wonderfully true to nature that even herdsmen mistook it for a live one--
Myron duped thee, gadfly, that thou dost thrust Thy sting against his heifer's brazen crust. No fault the gadfly's, that! Since Myron knew How to deceive the eyes of herdsmen too.
None of these poets seem to make a distinction between a gnat and a mosquito, konops--none save Palladas (10, 49) who refers to the belief that "even ants and gnats (serphos) have bile". Yet the mosquitoes which Dionysius (12, 108) describes as buzzing about the vinegar jar must have been either gnats or else the little Drosophila ampelophila whose name testifies to its bibulous habits, and which drowns itself with gusto in whatever vinegar or wine--or whisky and soda--is left uncovered. Meleager addresses the mosquito in some of his best lines about Zenophila (5, 151 and 152). We have also three epigrams (9, 764-766) anent the blessings of mosquito nets that permit sound slumber; they are of a late period (Paulus and Agathias); here is one of the former's--
Not net of Artemis am I. I screen Fair bridal beds for the soft Paphian Queen. Covered by my webbed mesh the sleepers feel Still the life-giving breezes o'er them steal.
A propos of mosquitoes--hints of malaria are scattered about the Anthology, as about many other old writings. The following are what I have noted: Antipater of Sidon speaks of it as coming in waves (6, 291), and this poet himself, according to Pliny, was subject to recurrent attacks of fever that began every year on his birthday. Ammianus (11, 13) tells of sick men who die from being roasted (by fevers); Agathias (it, 382) mentions the disease in some heavily jocular lines about a doctor; the physician Praxagoras is praised (App. Plan. 273) for his skill in dealing with fevers, and the next epigram deals with Oribasius, another and more famous doctor, some of whose writings on malaria are still extant (a second mention of Oribasius in 9, 199). Palladas reads malarious or at least atrobilious at times, and in one of his verses (9, 503) talks of administering a certain kind of fruit (?) to a patient suffering from a quartan--
I was not wrong when I the virtue cried Divine of jujubes. For late I applied One to a man with quartan ague sick, And straight was he as fit as a dog-tick.
The gay Lucilius also talks of fever in a quatrain on Pantaenetus (11, 311), and Callicter, who can squeeze as much fun into a couplet as most of them, has one (11, 118) after this fashion: "Feeling slightly feverish, I happened to remember the name of Doctor Pheidon; and straightway died". In Didot III (2, 588) is an eight-line epitaph on a boy of thirteen called Cladus who died of fever, and whose tomb, adorned with a bust of him, was erected by Apphia his nurse.
Then comes the tick, kroton, whose healthiness is noted in the above lines by Palladas. There is a play on words here, the town of Kroton, the modern Cotrone, being also famous for a good climate and its inhabitants a proverbially healthy race. That was because, long ago, one of them told the oracle at Delphi that he preferred health to riches, whereas his companion from Syracuse was in favour of riches; both got what they wanted.
We have also two references to fleas, one by Lucian (i i, 432) about a man who, tortured by fleas at night, puts out the lamp, saying "Now you cannot see me any more". It will go into an English limerick, a verse-form that would have appealed to Lucian--
A philosopher called Stesichore Was bitten by fleas till he swore. So he put out the light, And said: "Now you won't bite, Because you can't see me no more".
Lice of one kind or another are named more frequently in the Anthology; they seem, indeed, to have been something of a plague in antiquity, and to have caused the death of several eminent men--Alcman, Pherecides, Sulla and others. Ammianus (ii, 156) tells a sophist to shave his beard, since it generates not wisdom but lice--
Thou think'st that beard of thine brains can create, And so that fly-flapper dost cultivate. Shave it off quick, dear maa, is my advice; A beard like that creates not brains, but lice.
There are also a couple of riddles about lice, one being the venerable conundrum of Homer: "Hunters of Arcadia (or of deep sea prey), have we caught anything?" To which they reply: "All that we caught we left behind, and all that we did no't catch we carry home"--namely, lice.
As to bugs, Antiphanes (n, 322) likens the grammarians to a race of bugs that with their criticisms secretly bite good writers, and Parmenio (9, 113) has a punning epigram on this beast which a translator would be puzzled to render into English verse. Here is Mr. Paton's version in the Loeb Anthology--
The bugs fed on me with gusto till they were disgusted, but I myself laboured till I was disgusted, dislodging the bugs.
Unlike the bear, the bug has not yet been driven out of the Peloponnese--a region which is apt to pue-la-punaise, as some Frenchman may have said: far from it. If they had only left the bear, and driven out the bug! It also takes us back once more into the category of domestic animals; never with greater regret.
AUBERT UND WIMMER, Aristoteles' Thierkunde. Leipzig, 1868. BEDRIAGA, J. VON. Die Amphibien und Reptilien Griechenlands. Moscow, 1882. BIKALAS M. D. La nomenclature de la Faune Grecque. Paris, 1879. ERHARD, DR. Fauna der Cycladen. Leipzig, 1858. FOWLER, W. WARDE. A Year with the Birds. London, 1914. GUBERNATIS. A. DE. Zoological Mythology. London, 1872. HELDREICH, TH. DE. La Fauna de Graece. Athanes, 1878. IMHOOF-BLUMER UND O. KELLER. Tier und Pflanzenbilder auf Maenzen und Gemmen. Leipzig, 1889. KELLER, O. Thiere des klassischen Alterthums. Innsbruck, 1887. KRAPER UND HARTLAUB. Zeiten des Gehens und Kommens und des Braetens der Vaegel in Griechenland (Mommsens Griech). Jahreszeiten III). Schleswig, 1875. LENZ, H. O. Zoologie der alten Griechen und Raemer. Gotha, 1856. LINDERMAYER, A. Die Vaegel Griechenlands. Passau, 1860. MACPHERSON, H. A. A History of Fowling. Edinburgh, 1897. PHILIPPSON, A Der Peloponnes. Berlin, 1892. SUNDEVALL, C. J. Thierarten des Aristoteles. Stockholm, 1863. THOMPSON, D'A. W. A Glossary of Greek Birds. Oxford, 1895. TRISTRAM, H. B. The Natural History of the Bible. London, 1898. I have also consulted an article of Canon Tristram's which appeared in some Hellenic miscellany whose title escapes me.
[Note: page numbers have not been included in this ebook. Use the search function, in the software you are using to view this ebook, to locate words listed in this index.] Ablepharus pannonicus achaines acredula ADAM OF BREMEN ADDAEUS adder aegocerus pictus AELIAN AESOP AGATHIAS SCHOLASTICUS AGIS aietos aigypios ailouros ainolykos aisalon aithyia in aix akalanthis akanthion akanthis akanthochoiros akanthylis akris (see cricket) ALCAEUS OF MESSENE ALDROVANDUS U ALEXANDER THE MYNDIAN alopex AMMIANUS ANACREONTEA ant antelope anthias ANTIGONUS THE CARYSTIAN ANTIPATER OF SIDON ANTIPATER OF THESSALONICA ANTIPHANES ANTIPHILUS ANTISTIUS ANYTE ape APICIUS APOLLONIDES APOSTOLIDES N X APULEIUS ARATUS ARCHELAUS ARCHIAS argonaut ARISTON ARISTOPHANES ARISTOTLE arkos aromia moschata askalabotes asp (aspis) ass Indian and Scythian aslakos ATHENAEUS athene noctua attelabos AUBERT UND WIMMER AUDUDON J J AULUS GELLIUS AUTOMEDON BABRIUS BASSUS bat bear BEDRIAGA J DE bee beetle BEETON MRS bezoar goat BIANOR BIKELAS M D BION bison blackbird blatta boagrios (bison) boar wild boax bombyx bonasos bookworm BOOT B DE bos primigenius bous; agrios (buffalo) bronchos bruchus bruco buffalo bug bull wild BUTLER A J butterfly byrsaetos CAESAR JULIUS CALL1CTER CALUMACIIUS CALVERLEY C S camel cancer elephas and maenas carduclis CASABURI cat caterpillar cephalopods cervus capreolus; dama; elephus; (see deer) chalkis (fish); (reptile) chameleon chamois CHANDLER R chough CHRISTODORUS chrysometris cicada cicella CICERO clothesmoth CLUVER P cobra Egyptian cock cockroach columba oenas COLUMELLA conger CONSTANT1NIDES M CONTEST OF HOMER AND HESIOD cormorant COWPER crane CRATES OF THEBES crayfish cricket CR1NAGORAS crocodile crow; hooded crustaceans cuckoo cuttlefish CUVIER cygnus musicus CYPRIAN LAYS CYRUS DAMOCHARIS DAREMBERG AND SAGLIO deer fallow; red DEMETRIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE DIODORUS SICULUS DIODORUS ZONAS DIOGENES LAERTIUS DION CHRYSOSTOM DIONYSIUS DIOSCORIDES DIPHILUS dipsas viper diver dogfly dolphin DORION dorkas DOUGHTY C dove dragon (drakori) dronefly drosophila ampelophila dryokolaptis duck Eagle echidna echis echinos EIMER T elaios eleia eleas elea elaphos elephant elk ellops ephialtes scops ERHARD DR eriphia spinifrons eristalis tenax erodios ERYCIUS eule EVENUS Ferret ficedula fieldfare figpecker finches fishes FITZSIMMONS T W FLACCUS flea fly FOWLER E W AND F G FOWLER W W fox FRAZER SIR J G frog fucetola FURTWANGLER A Gadfly GAETULICUS galeotes gatia gazelle gecko geraki GERMANICUS CAESAR GESNER C glares GLAUCUS glaukiskos glaux gnat goat gobius goldfinch gongros goose; wild GOSSE P H grasshopper GRATIUS FALISCUS GRAY T GREGORY SAINT GROTIUS H gryllus migratorius GUBERNATIS A DE gull gyps HADRIAN EMPEROR hake halcyon hare HARTING E hawks HEARN L HEBERSTEIN S hedgehog HEDYLUS HEGESIPPUS HELDREICH T DE hemidactylus HEREDIA J M DE hermit crab HERODICUS HERODOTUS heron herpelon HESIOD hierax hipbouros HOLST N D HOMER hoopoe HORACE HORT SIK HUC ABBE hydros hystris Ibex iktinos IMHOOFBLUMER F ION ioulos iulis ISIDORUS OF AKGAE ixalos Jackdaw JACOBS F jay JOHN LEO JULIAN ANTKCESSOR JULIANUS jynx KAIBEL G kalamitis (kalcunaia) kallichthys kamasenes kampsiouros kantharos karabos karakaxa karis (karides) karkinos kattos kauex KKLLER kemas kepthos kestrel kichle kichela (bird); (fish) kingfisher kirkos kissa kitta kite KOCH KARL L koloios konops korakms korakinos korax korone kroton KRUPER DR kynalopex KYNASTON H kynomyia kyon halos Labrus lammergeier lagos lampouros LANG A langouste lark laros larus cachinnans LEAKE W M LECHE W leech LENZ H LEONIDAS OF ALEXANDRIA LEONIDAS OF TARENTUM leopard LINDERMAYER A LINNE C VON linnet lion LITHGOW J lizard lobster locust LONGUS lopakas louse LUCAN LUCIAN LUCILIOS lynx MACEDONIUS MACKAIL J W mackerel MACPHERSON H A MAECIUS QUTNTUS maggot magpie MAHAFFY J P maine mainis MAJOR C I F MANN FW mantis MARCUS ARGENTARIUS MARIANUS SCHOLASTICUS MARSILIUS FICINUS MARTIAL melankoryphos melanouros MELEAGER MERIVALE J H MERREM B MILTON J missel thrush MNASALCAS molluscs monkey monoceros mormillo mormyros mosquito moth mourmourion mouse mullet red murex myops Nautilus nebros NESTOR OF LARANDA NICARCHUS NIC1AS nightingale night raven NOSSIS nycticorax griseus nykteris Oblata melanura octopus oichendra OLAUS MAGNUS ololygon ophis OPPIAN ormer shell ostrich ouros ous OVID owl oyster Pagellus mormyrus pagouros palinurus vulgaris PALLADAS PALLAS M P S PAMPHILUS panther (see leopard) PARMKNIO parrot partridge passer solitarius PATON w R PAULUS SILENTIARIUS PAUSANIAS peacock pelargos peleia perch perdrix graeca peristera perke PERSES PETRONIUS PHAEDIMUS phalacrocorax PHALAECUS PHANIAS phasianos phassa phatta pheasant PHILE PHIL1PPUS OF THESSALONICA PHILIPPSON A PHILODEMUS PHILOSTRATUS phykis (phycis) pigeons PINDAR pirrias pithekos PLATO PLINY PLUTARCH poikills POLYBIUS pontikos porcupine POSIDIPPUS POTT J A "POULOLOGOS" prawn PRECEPTS OF CHIRON PREJEVALSKI N prokas prox ptox Quail QUINCEY T DE Rabbit rana ridibunda rat raven albino REDI F RHIANUS RICH A rock dove ROGERS B J ROUSK W H D ROYDS T F RUFINUS RUTHERFORD W G SAMUS SATYRIUS SCALIGER J C scarus creticus SCHOTTUS GASPARUS scolopeudra scorpion SENECA sepia seps ser ses shark SHELLEY P B shrimp silkworm silouros silpke SIMMIAS SIMONIDES SIMONIDES OF MAGNESIA siskin skanlzohoiros skaros skathi skiouros skolex skombros shops smarts SMITH GOLDWIN snails snakes; water SOLINUS spares sparrow sphondyle (spondylis) spider sponge sprat SPRATT AND FORBES squid stag (see deer) starling STATIUS STATYL1US FLACCUS stellio vulgar sterlet stickleback stork STRABO STRATO SUNDEVALL C J SURIUS LAURENTIOS swallow swan swift sykalis Tarbophis vivax tauros teredon tern tettix (see cicada) teuthis thelphusa THEMISTIUS THEOCRITUS THEODORIDAS THEON THEOPHRASTUS THISLETON DYER SIR W T THOMPSON D THOMPSON H S thrips thrissa thrush; rock thynnos TIBERIUS ILLUSTRIS tick tinea pellionella titmouse bearded; long-tailed; black-headed toad TOMLINSON H M tortoise totano trachouros (trachurus) tree-frog treron trie has trigle TRISTRAM H B tropidonotus viperinus tryg on TULLIUS LAUREAS TULLIUS SABINUS tunny turtle dove TYMNKS Unicorn urus uvedula VARRO VIRGIL vipera: ammodytes; aspis; cerastes; (dipsas); eupfiratica; Redi vison vulture WAGNER W warbler blackcap; garden; reed wasp WAY A s whooper WILSON A Wisent wolf woodpecker woodpigeon woodworm worm wrasse wryneck XENOPHON
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia