The History of Animals, by Aristotle

Book IX


OF the animals that are comparatively obscure and short-lived the characters or dispositions are not so obvious to recognition as are those of animals that are longer-lived. These latter animals appear to have a natural capacity corresponding to each of the passions: to cunning or simplicity, courage or timidity, to good temper or to bad, and to other similar dispositions of mind.

Some also are capable of giving or receiving instruction-of receiving it from one another or from man: those that have the faculty of hearing, for instance; and, not to limit the matter to audible sound, such as can differentiate the suggested meanings of word and gesture.

In all genera in which the distinction of male and female is found, Nature makes a similar differentiation in the mental characteristics of the two sexes. This differentiation is the most obvious in the case of human kind and in that of the larger animals and the viviparous quadrupeds. In the case of these latter the female softer in character, is the sooner tamed, admits more readily of caressing, is more apt in the way of learning; as, for instance, in the Laconian breed of dogs the female is cleverer than the male. Of the Molossian breed of dogs, such as are employed in the chase are pretty much the same as those elsewhere; but sheep-dogs of this breed are superior to the others in size, and in the courage with which they face the attacks of wild animals.

Dogs that are born of a mixed breed between these two kinds are remarkable for courage and endurance of hard labour.

In all cases, excepting those of the bear and leopard, the female is less spirited than the male; in regard to the two exceptional cases, the superiority in courage rests with the female. With all other animals the female is softer in disposition than the male, is more mischievous, less simple, more impulsive, and more attentive to the nurture of the young: the male, on the other hand, is more spirited than the female, more savage, more simple and less cunning. The traces of these differentiated characteristics are more or less visible everywhere, but they are especially visible where character is the more developed, and most of all in man.

The fact is, the nature of man is the most rounded off and complete, and consequently in man the qualities or capacities above referred to are found in their perfection. Hence woman is more compassionate than man, more easily moved to tears, at the same time is more jealous, more querulous, more apt to scold and to strike. She is, furthermore, more prone to despondency and less hopeful than the man, more void of shame or self-respect, more false of speech, more deceptive, and of more retentive memory. She is also more wakeful, more shrinking, more difficult to rouse to action, and requires a smaller quantity of nutriment.

As was previously stated, the male is more courageous than the female, and more sympathetic in the way of standing by to help. Even in the case of molluscs, when the cuttle-fish is struck with the trident the male stands by to help the female; but when the male is struck the female runs away.

There is enmity between such animals as dwell in the same localities or subsist on the food. If the means of subsistence run short, creatures of like kind will fight together. Thus it is said that seals which inhabit one and the same district will fight, male with male, and female with female, until one combatant kills the other, or one is driven away by the other; and their young do even in like manner.

All creatures are at enmity with the carnivores, and the carnivores with all the rest, for they all subsist on living creatures. Soothsayers take notice of cases where animals keep apart from one another, and cases where they congregate together; calling those that live at war with one another ‘dissociates’, and those that dwell in peace with one another ‘associates’. One may go so far as to say that if there were no lack or stint of food, then those animals that are now afraid of man or are wild by nature would be tame and familiar with him, and in like manner with one another. This is shown by the way animals are treated in Egypt, for owing to the fact that food is constantly supplied to them the very fiercest creatures live peaceably together. The fact is they are tamed by kindness, and in some places crocodiles are tame to their priestly keeper from being fed by him. And elsewhere also the same phenomenon is to be observed.

The eagle and the snake are enemies, for the eagle lives on snakes; so are the ichneumon and the venom-spider, for the ichneumon preys upon the latter. In the case of birds, there is mutual enmity between the poecilis, the crested lark, the woodpecker (?), and the chloreus, for they devour one another’s eggs; so also between the crow and the owl; for, owing to the fact that the owl is dim-sighted by day, the crow at midday preys upon the owl’s eggs, and the owl at night upon the crow’s, each having the whip-hand of the other, turn and turn about, night and day.

There is enmity also between the owl and the wren; for the latter also devours the owl’s eggs. In the daytime all other little birds flutter round the owl-a practice which is popularly termed ‘admiring him’-buffet him, and pluck out his feathers; in consequence of this habit, bird-catchers use the owl as a decoy for catching little birds of all kinds.

The so-called presbys or ‘old man’ is at war with the weasel and the crow, for they prey on her eggs and her brood; and so the turtle-dove with the pyrallis, for they live in the same districts and on the same food; and so with the green wood pecker and the libyus; and so with kite and the raven, for, owing to his having the advantage from stronger talons and more rapid flight the former can steal whatever the latter is holding, so that it is food also that makes enemies of these. In like manner there is war between birds that get their living from the sea, as between the brenthus, the gull, and the harpe; and so between the buzzard on one side and the toad and snake on the other, for the buzzard preys upon the eggs of the two others; and so between the turtle-dove and the chloreus; the chloreus kills the dove, and the crow kills the so-called drummer-bird.

The aegolius, and birds of prey in general, prey upon the calaris, and consequently there is war between it and them; and so is there war between the gecko-lizard and the spider, for the former preys upon the latter; and so between the woodpecker and the heron, for the former preys upon the eggs and brood of the latter. And so between the aegithus and the ass, owing to the fact that the ass, in passing a furze-bush, rubs its sore and itching parts against the prickles; by so doing, and all the more if it brays, it topples the eggs and the brood out of the nest, the young ones tumble out in fright, and the mother-bird, to avenge this wrong, flies at the beast and pecks at his sore places.

The wolf is at war with the ass, the bull, and the fox, for as being a carnivore, he attacks these other animals; and so for the same reason with the fox and the circus, for the circus, being carnivorous and furnished with crooked talons, attacks and maims the animal. And so the raven is at war with the bull and the ass, for it flies at them, and strikes them, and pecks at their eyes; and so with the eagle and the heron, for the former, having crooked talons, attacks the latter, and the latter usually succumbs to the attack; and so the merlin with the vulture; and the crex with the eleus-owl, the blackbird, and the oriole (of this latter bird, by the way, the story goes that he was originally born out of a funeral pyre): the cause of warfare is that the crex injures both them and their young. The nuthatch and the wren are at war with the eagle; the nuthatch breaks the eagle’s eggs, so the eagle is at war with it on special grounds, though, as a bird of prey, it carries on a general war all round. The horse and the anthus are enemies, and the horse will drive the bird out of the field where he is grazing: the bird feeds on grass, and sees too dimly to foresee an attack; it mimics the whinnying of the horse, flies at him, and tries to frighten him away; but the horse drives the bird away, and whenever he catches it he kills it: this bird lives beside rivers or on marsh ground; it has pretty plumage, and finds its without trouble. The ass is at enmity with the lizard, for the lizard sleeps in his manger, gets into his nostril, and prevents his eating.

Of herons there are three kinds: the ash coloured, the white, and the starry heron (or bittern). Of these the first mentioned submits with reluctance to the duties of incubation, or to union of the sexes; in fact, it screams during the union, and it is said drips blood from its eyes; it lays its eggs also in an awkward manner, not unattended with pain. It is at war with certain creatures that do it injury: with the eagle for robbing it, with the fox for worrying it at night, and with the lark for stealing its eggs.

The snake is at war with the weasel and the pig; with the weasel when they are both at home, for they live on the same food; with the pig for preying on her kind. The merlin is at war with the fox; it strikes and claws it, and, as it has crooked talons, it kills the animal’s young. The raven and the fox are good friends, for the raven is at enmity with the merlin; and so when the merlin assails the fox the raven comes and helps the animal. The vulture and the merlin are mutual enemies, as being both furnished with crooked talons. The vulture fights with the eagle, and so, by the way, does does swan; and the swan is often victorious: moreover, of all birds swans are most prone to the killing of one another.

In regard to wild creatures, some sets are at enmity with other sets at all times and under all circumstances; others, as in the case of man and man, at special times and under incidental circumstances. The ass and the acanthis are enemies; for the bird lives on thistles, and the ass browses on thistles when they are young and tender. The anthus, the acanthis, and the aegithus are at enmity with one another; it is said that the blood of the anthus will not intercommingle with the blood of the aegithus. The crow and the heron are friends, as also are the sedge-bird and lark, the laedus and the celeus or green woodpecker; the woodpecker lives on the banks of rivers and beside brakes, the laedus lives on rocks and bills, and is greatly attached to its nesting-place. The piphinx, the harpe, and the kite are friends; as are the fox and the snake, for both burrow underground; so also are the blackbird and the turtle-dove. The lion and the thos or civet are enemies, for both are carnivorous and live on the same food. Elephants fight fiercely with one another, and stab one another with their tusks; of two combatants the beaten one gets completely cowed, and dreads the sound of his conqueror’s voice. These animals differ from one another an extraordinary extent in the way of courage. Indians employ these animals for war purposes, irrespective of sex; the females, however, are less in size and much inferior in point of spirit. An elephant by pushing with his big tusks can batter down a wall, and will butt with his forehead at a palm until he brings it down, when he stamps on it and lays it in orderly fashion on the ground. Men hunt the elephant in the following way: they mount tame elephants of approved spirit and proceed in quest of wild animals; when they come up with these they bid the tame brutes to beat the wild ones until they tire the latter completely. Hereupon the driver mounts a wild brute and guides him with the application of his metal prong; after this the creature soon becomes tame, and obeys guidance. Now when the driver is on their back they are all tractable, but after he has dismounted, some are tame and others vicious; in the case of these latter, they tie their front-legs with ropes to keep them quiet. The animal is hunted whether young or full grown.

Thus we see that in the case of the creatures above mentioned their mutual friendship or the is due to the food they feed on and the life they lead.


Of fishes, such as swim in shoals together are friendly to one another; such as do not so swim are enemies. Some fishes swarm during the spawning season; others after they have spawned. To state the matter comprehensively, we may say that the following are shoaling fish: the tunny, the maenis, the sea-gudgeon, the bogue, the horse-mackerel, the coracine, the synodon or dentex, the red mullet, the sphyraena, the anthias, the eleginus, the atherine, the sarginus, the gar-fish, (the squid,) the rainbow-wrasse, the pelamyd, the mackerel, the coly-mackerel. Of these some not only swim in shoals, but go in pairs inside the shoal; the rest without exception swim in pairs, and only swim in shoals at certain periods: that is, as has been said, when they are heavy with spawn or after they have spawned.

The basse and the grey mullet are bitter enemies, but they swarm together at certain times; for at times not only do fishes of the same species swarm together, but also those whose feeding-grounds are identical or adjacent, if the food-supply be abundant. The grey mullet is often found alive with its tail lopped off, and the conger with all that part of its body removed that lies to the rear of the vent; in the case of the mullet the injury is wrought by the basse, in that of the conger-eel by the muraena. There is war between the larger and the lesser fishes: for the big fishes prey on the little ones. So much on the subject of marine animals.


The characters of animals, as has been observed, differ in respect to timidity, to gentleness, to courage, to tameness, to intelligence, and to stupidity.

The sheep is said to be naturally dull and stupid. Of all quadrupeds it is the most foolish: it will saunter away to lonely places with no object in view; oftentimes in stormy weather it will stray from shelter; if it be overtaken by a snowstorm, it will stand still unless the shepherd sets it in motion; it will stay behind and perish unless the shepherd brings up the rams; it will then follow home.

If you catch hold of a goat’s beard at the extremity-the beard is of a substance resembling hair-all the companion goats will stand stock still, staring at this particular goat in a kind of dumbfounderment.

You will have a warmer bed in amongst the goats than among the sheep, because the goats will be quieter and will creep up towards you; for the goat is more impatient of cold than the sheep.

Shepherds train sheep to close in together at a clap of their hands, for if, when a thunderstorm comes on, a ewe stays behind without closing in, the storm will kill it if it be with young; consequently if a sudden clap or noise is made, they close in together within the sheepfold by reason of their training.

Even bulls, when they are roaming by themselves apart from the herd, are killed by wild animals.

Sheep and goats lie crowded together, kin by kin. When the sun turns early towards its setting, the goats are said to lie no longer face to face, but back to back.


Cattle at pasture keep together in their accustomed herds, and if one animal strays away the rest will follow; consequently if the herdsmen lose one particular animal, they keep close watch on all the rest.

When mares with their colts pasture together in the same field, if one dam dies the others will take up the rearing of the colt. In point of fact, the mare appears to be singularly prone by nature to maternal fondness; in proof whereof a barren mare will steal the foal from its dam, will tend it with all the solicitude of a mother, but, as it will be unprovided with mother’s milk, its solicitude will prove fatal to its charge.


Among wild quadrupeds the hind appears to be pre-eminently intelligent; for example, in its habit of bringing forth its young on the sides of public roads, where the fear of man forbids the approach of wild animals. Again, after parturition, it first swallows the afterbirth, then goes in quest of the seseli shrub, and after eating of it returns to its young. The mother takes its young betimes to her lair, so leading it to know its place of refuge in time of danger; this lair is a precipitous rock, with only one approach, and there it is said to hold its own against all comers. The male when it gets fat, which it does in a high degree in autumn, disappears, abandoning its usual resorts, apparently under an idea that its fatness facilitates its capture. They shed their horns in places difficult of access or discovery, whence the proverbial expression of ‘the place where the stag sheds his horns’; the fact being that, as having parted with their weapons, they take care not to be seen. The saying is that no man has ever seen the animal’s left horn; that the creature keeps it out of sight because it possesses some medicinal property.

In their first year stags grow no horns, but only an excrescence indicating where horns will be, this excrescence being short and thick. In their second year they grow their horns for the first time, straight in shape, like pegs for hanging clothes on; and on this account they have an appropriate nickname. In the third year the antlers are bifurcate; in the fourth year they grow trifurcate; and so they go on increasing in complexity until the creature is six years old: after this they grow their horns without any specific differentiation, so that you cannot by observation of them tell the animal’s age. But the patriarchs of the herd may be told chiefly by two signs; in the first place they have few teeth or none at all, and, in the second place, they have ceased to grow the pointed tips to their antlers. The forward-pointing tips of the growing horns (that is to say the brow antlers), with which the animal meets attack, are technically termed its ‘defenders’; with these the patriarchs are unprovided, and their antlers merely grow straight upwards. Stags shed their horns annually, in or about the month of May; after shedding, they conceal themselves, it is said, during the daytime, and, to avoid the flies, hide in thick copses; during this time, until they have grown their horns, they feed at night-time. The horns at first grow in a kind of skin envelope, and get rough by degrees; when they reach their full size the animal basks in the sun, to mature and dry them. When they need no longer rub them against tree-trunks they quit their hiding places, from a sense of security based upon the possession of arms defensive and offensive. An Achaeine stag has been caught with a quantity of green ivy grown over its horns, it having grown apparently, as on fresh green wood, when the horns were young and tender. When a stag is stung by a venom-spider or similar insect, it gathers crabs and eats them; it is said to be a good thing for man to drink the juice, but the taste is disagreeable. The hinds after parturition at once swallow the afterbirth, and it is impossible to secure it, for the hind catches it before it falls to the ground: now this substance is supposed to have medicinal properties. When hunted the creatures are caught by singing or pipe-playing on the part of the hunters; they are so pleased with the music that they lie down on the grass. If there be two hunters, one before their eyes sings or plays the pipe, the other keeps out of sight and shoots, at a signal given by the confederate. If the animal has its ears cocked, it can hear well and you cannot escape its ken; if its ears are down, you can.


When bears are running away from their pursuers they push their cubs in front of them, or take them up and carry them; when they are being overtaken they climb up a tree. When emerging from their winter-den, they at once take to eating cuckoo-pint, as has been said, and chew sticks of wood as though they were cutting teeth.

Many other quadrupeds help themselves in clever ways. Wild goats in Crete are said, when wounded by arrows, to go in search of dittany, which is supposed to have the property of ejecting arrows in the body. Dogs, when they are ill, eat some kind of grass and produce vomiting. The panther, after eating panther’s-bane, tries to find some human excrement, which is said to heal its pain. This panther’s-bane kills lions as well. Hunters hang up human excrement in a vessel attached to the boughs of a tree, to keep the animal from straying to any distance; the animal meets its end in leaping up to the branch and trying to get at the medicine. They say that the panther has found out that wild animals are fond of the scent it emits; that, when it goes a-hunting, it hides itself; that the other animals come nearer and nearer, and that by this stratagem it can catch even animals as swift of foot as stags.

The Egyptian ichneumon, when it sees the serpent called the asp, does not attack it until it has called in other ichneumons to help; to meet the blows and bites of their enemy the assailants beplaster themselves with mud, by first soaking in the river and then rolling on the ground.

When the crocodile yawns, the trochilus flies into his mouth and cleans his teeth. The trochilus gets his food thereby, and the crocodile gets ease and comfort; it makes no attempt to injure its little friend, but, when it wants it to go, it shakes its neck in warning, lest it should accidentally bite the bird.

The tortoise, when it has partaken of a snake, eats marjoram; this action has been actually observed. A man saw a tortoise perform this operation over and over again, and every time it plucked up some marjoram go back to partake of its prey; he thereupon pulled the marjoram up by the roots, and the consequence was the tortoise died. The weasel, when it fights with a snake, first eats wild rue, the smell of which is noxious to the snake. The dragon, when it eats fruit, swallows endive-juice; it has been seen in the act. Dogs, when they suffer from worms, eat the standing corn. Storks, and all other birds, when they get a wound fighting, apply marjoram to the place injured.

Many have seen the locust, when fighting with the snake get a tight hold of the snake by the neck. The weasel has a clever way of getting the better of birds; it tears their throats open, as wolves do with sheep. Weasels fight desperately with mice-catching snakes, as they both prey on the same animal.

In regard to the instinct of hedgehogs, it has been observed in many places that, when the wind is shifting from north to south, and from south to north, they shift the outlook of their earth-holes, and those that are kept in domestication shift over from one wall to the other. The story goes that a man in Byzantium got into high repute for foretelling a change of weather, all owing to his having noticed this habit of the hedgehog.

The polecat or marten is about as large as the smaller breed of Maltese dogs. In the thickness of its fur, in its look, in the white of its belly, and in its love of mischief, it resembles the weasel; it is easily tamed; from its liking for honey it is a plague to bee-hives; it preys on birds like the cat. Its genital organ, as has been said, consists of bone: the organ of the male is supposed to be a cure for strangury; doctors scrape it into powder, and administer it in that form.


In a general way in the lives of animals many resemblances to human life may be observed. Pre-eminent intelligence will be seen more in small creatures than in large ones, as is exemplified in the case of birds by the nest building of the swallow. In the same way as men do, the bird mixes mud and chaff together; if it runs short of mud, it souses its body in water and rolls about in the dry dust with wet feathers; furthermore, just as man does, it makes a bed of straw, putting hard material below for a foundation, and adapting all to suit its own size. Both parents co-operate in the rearing of the young; each of the parents will detect, with practised eye, the young one that has had a helping, and will take care it is not helped twice over; at first the parents will rid the nest of excrement, but, when the young are grown, they will teach their young to shift their position and let their excrement fall over the side of the nest.

Pigeons exhibit other phenomena with a similar likeness to the ways of humankind. In pairing the same male and the same female keep together; and the union is only broken by the death of one of the two parties. At the time of parturition in the female the sympathetic attentions of the male are extraordinary; if the female is afraid on account of the impending parturition to enter the nest, the male will beat her and force her to come in. When the young are born, he will take and masticate pieces of suitable food, will open the beaks of the fledglings, and inject these pieces, thus preparing them betimes to take food. (When the male bird is about to expel the the young ones from the nest he cohabits with them all.) As a general rule these birds show this conjugal fidelity, but occasionally a female will cohabit with other than her mate. These birds are combative, and quarrel with one another, and enter each other’s nests, though this occurs but seldom; at a distance from their nests this quarrelsomeness is less marked, but in the close neighbourhood of their nests they will fight desperately. A peculiarity common to the tame pigeon, the ring-dove and the turtle-dove is that they do not lean the head back when they are in the act of drinking, but only when they have fully quenched their thirst. The turtle-dove and the ring-dove both have but one mate, and let no other come nigh; both sexes co-operate in the process of incubation. It is difficult to distinguish between the sexes except by an examination of their interiors. Ring-doves are long-lived; cases have been known where such birds were twenty-five years old, thirty years old, and in some cases forty. As they grow old their claws increase in size, and pigeon-fanciers cut the claws; as far as one can see, the birds suffer no other perceptible disfigurement by their increase in age. Turtle-doves and pigeons that are blinded by fanciers for use as decoys, live for eight years. Partridges live for about fifteen years. Ring-doves and turtle-doves always build their nests in the same place year after year. The male, as a general rule, is more long-lived than the female; but in the case of pigeons some assert that the male dies before the female, taking their inference from the statements of persons who keep decoy-birds in captivity. Some declare that the male sparrow lives only a year, pointing to the fact that early in spring the male sparrow has no black beard, but has one later on, as though the blackbearded birds of the last year had all died out; they also say that the females are the longer lived, on the grounds that they are caught in amongst the young birds and that their age is rendered manifest by the hardness about their beaks. Turtle-doves in summer live in cold places, (and in warm places during the winter); chaffinches affect warm habitations in summer and cold ones in winter.


Birds of a heavy build, such as quails, partridges, and the like, build no nests; indeed, where they are incapable of flight, it would be of no use if they could do so. After scraping a hole on a level piece of ground-and it is only in such a place that they lay their eggs-they cover it over with thorns and sticks for security against hawks and eagles, and there lay their eggs and hatch them; after the hatching is over, they at once lead the young out from the nest, as they are not able to fly afield for food for them. Quails and partridges, like barn-door hens, when they go to rest, gather their brood under their wings. Not to be discovered, as might be the case if they stayed long in one spot, they do not hatch the eggs where they laid them. When a man comes by chance upon a young brood, and tries to catch them, the hen-bird rolls in front of the hunter, pretending to be lame: the man every moment thinks he is on the point of catching her, and so she draws him on and on, until every one of her brood has had time to escape; hereupon she returns to the nest and calls the young back. The partridge lays not less than ten eggs, and often lays as many as sixteen. As has been observed, the bird has mischievous and deceitful habits. In the spring-time, a noisy scrimmage takes place, out of which the male-birds emerge each with a hen. Owing to the lecherous nature of the bird, and from a dislike to the hen sitting, the males, if they find any eggs, roll them over and over until they break them in pieces; to provide against this the female goes to a distance and lays the eggs, and often, under the stress of parturition, lays them in any chance spot that offers; if the male be near at hand, then to keep the eggs intact she refrains from visiting them. If she be seen by a man, then, just as with her fledged brood, she entices him off by showing herself close at his feet until she has drawn him to a distance. When the females have run away and taken to sitting, the males in a pack take to screaming and fighting; when thus engaged, they have the nickname of ‘widowers’. The bird who is beaten follows his victor, and submits to be covered by him only; and the beaten bird is covered by a second one or by any other, only clandestinely without the victor’s knowledge; this is so, not at all times, but at a particular season of the year, and with quails as well as with partridges. A similar proceeding takes place occasionally with barn-door cocks: for in temples, where cocks are set apart as dedicate without hens, they all as a matter of course tread any new-comer. Tame partridges tread wild birds, pecket their heads, and treat them with every possible outrage. The leader of the wild birds, with a counter-note of challenge, pushes forward to attack the decoy-bird, and after he has been netted, another advances with a similar note. This is what is done if the decoy be a male; but if it be a female that is the decoy and gives the note, and the leader of the wild birds give a counter one, the rest of the males set upon him and chase him away from the female for making advances to her instead of to them; in consequence of this the male often advances without uttering any cry, so that no other may hear him and come and give him battle; and experienced fowlers assert that sometimes the male bird, when he approaches the female, makes her keep silence, to avoid having to give battle to other males who might have heard him. The partridge has not only the note here referred to, but also a thin shrill cry and other notes. Oftentimes the hen-bird rises from off her brood when she sees the male showing attentions to the female decoy; she will give the counter note and remain still, so as to be trodden by him and divert him from the decoy. The quail and the partridge are so intent upon sexual union that they often come right in the way of the decoy-birds, and not seldom alight upon their heads. So much for the sexual proclivities of the partridge, for the way in which it is hunted, and the general nasty habits of the bird.

As has been said, quails and partridges build their nests upon the ground, and so also do some of the birds that are capable of sustained flight. Further, for instance, of such birds, the lark and the woodcock, as well as the quail, do not perch on a branch, but squat upon the ground.


The woodpecker does not squat on the ground, but pecks at the bark of trees to drive out from under it maggots and gnats; when they emerge, it licks them up with its tongue, which is large and flat. It can run up and down a tree in any way, even with the head downwards, like the gecko-lizard. For secure hold upon a tree, its claws are better adapted than those of the daw; it makes its way by sticking these claws into the bark. One species of woodpecker is smaller than a blackbird, and has small reddish speckles; a second species is larger than the blackbird, and a third is not much smaller than a barn-door hen. It builds a nest on trees, as has been said, on olive trees amongst others. It feeds on the maggots and ants that are under the bark: it is so eager in the search for maggots that it is said sometimes to hollow a tree out to its downfall. A woodpecker once, in course of domestication, was seen to insert an almond into a hole in a piece of timber, so that it might remain steady under its pecking; at the third peck it split the shell of the fruit, and then ate the kernel.


Many indications of high intelligence are given by cranes. They will fly to a great distance and up in the air, to command an extensive view; if they see clouds and signs of bad weather they fly down again and remain still. They, furthermore, have a leader in their flight, and patrols that scream on the confines of the flock so as to be heard by all. When they settle down, the main body go to sleep with their heads under their wing, standing first on one leg and then on the other, while their leader, with his head uncovered, keeps a sharp look out, and when he sees anything of importance signals it with a cry.

Pelicans that live beside rivers swallow the large smooth mussel-shells: after cooking them inside the crop that precedes the stomach, they spit them out, so that, now when their shells are open, they may pick the flesh out and eat it.


Of wild birds, the nests are fashioned to meet the exigencies of existence and ensure the security of the young. Some of these birds are fond of their young and take great care of them, others are quite the reverse; some are clever in procuring subsistence, others are not so. Some of these birds build in ravines and clefts, and on cliffs, as, for instance, the so-called charadrius, or stone-curlew; this bird is in no way noteworthy for plumage or voice; it makes an appearance at night, but in the daytime keeps out of sight.

The hawk also builds in inaccessible places. Although a ravenous bird, it will never eat the heart of any bird it catches; this has been observed in the case of the quail, the thrush, and other birds. They modify betimes their method of hunting, for in summer they do not grab their prey as they do at other seasons.

Of the vulture, it is said that no one has ever seen either its young or its nest; on this account and on the ground that all of a sudden great numbers of them will appear without any one being able to tell from whence they come, Herodorus, the father of Bryson the sophist, says that it belongs to some distant and elevated land. The reason is that the bird has its nest on inaccessible crags, and is found only in a few localities. The female lays one egg as a rule, and two at the most.

Some birds live on mountains or in forests, as the hoopoe and the brenthus; this latter bird finds his food with ease and has a musical voice. The wren lives in brakes and crevices; it is difficult of capture, keeps out of sight, is gentle of disposition, finds its food with ease, and is something of a mechanic. It goes by the nickname of ‘old man’ or ‘king’; and the story goes that for this reason the eagle is at war with him.


Some birds live on the sea-shore, as the wagtail; the bird is of a mischievous nature, hard to capture, but when caught capable of complete domestication; it is a cripple, as being weak in its hinder quarters.

Web-footed birds without exception live near the sea or rivers or pools, as they naturally resort to places adapted to their structure. Several birds, however, with cloven toes live near pools or marshes, as, for instance, the anthus lives by the side of rivers; the plumage of this bird is pretty, and it finds its food with ease. The catarrhactes lives near the sea; when it makes a dive, it will keep under water for as long as it would take a man to walk a furlong; it is less than the common hawk. Swans are web-footed, and live near pools and marshes; they find their food with ease, are good-tempered, are fond of their young, and live to a green old age. If the eagle attacks them they will repel the attack and get the better of their assailant, but they are never the first to attack. They are musical, and sing chiefly at the approach of death; at this time they fly out to sea, and men, when sailing past the coast of Libya, have fallen in with many of them out at sea singing in mournful strains, and have actually seen some of them dying.

The cymindis is seldom seen, as it lives on mountains; it is black in colour, and about the size of the hawk called the ‘dove-killer’; it is long and slender in form. The Ionians call the bird by this name; Homer in the Iliad mentions it in the line:

Chalcis its name with those of heavenly birth,
But called Cymindis by the sons of earth.

The hybris, said by some to be the same as the eagle-owl, is never seen by daylight, as it is dim-sighted, but during the night it hunts like the eagle; it will fight the eagle with such desperation that the two combatants are often captured alive by shepherds; it lays two eggs, and, like others we have mentioned, it builds on rocks and in caverns. Cranes also fight so desperately among themselves as to be caught when fighting, for they will not leave off; the crane lays two eggs.


The jay has a great variety of notes: indeed, might almost say it had a different note for every day in the year. It lays about nine eggs; builds its nest on trees, out of hair and tags of wool; when acorns are getting scarce, it lays up a store of them in hiding.

It is a common story of the stork that the old birds are fed by their grateful progeny. Some tell a similar story of the bee-eater, and declare that the parents are fed by their young not only when growing old, but at an early period, as soon as the young are capable of feeding them; and the parent-birds stay inside the nest. The under part of the bird’s wing is pale yellow; the upper part is dark blue, like that of the halcyon; the tips of the wings are About autumn-time it lays six or seven eggs, in overhanging banks where the soil is soft; there it burrows into the ground to a depth of six feet.

The greenfinch, so called from the colour of its belly, is as large as a lark; it lays four or five eggs, builds its nest out of the plant called comfrey, pulling it up by the roots, and makes an under-mattress to lie on of hair and wool. The blackbird and the jay build their nests after the same fashion. The nest of the penduline tit shows great mechanical skill; it has the appearance of a ball of flax, and the hole for entry is very small.

People who live where the bird comes from say that there exists a cinnamon bird which brings the cinnamon from some unknown localities, and builds its nest out of it; it builds on high trees on the slender top branches. They say that the inhabitants attach leaden weights to the tips of their arrows and therewith bring down the nests, and from the intertexture collect the cinnamon sticks.


The halcyon is not much larger than the sparrow. Its colour is dark blue, green, and light purple; the whole body and wings, and especially parts about the neck, show these colours in a mixed way, without any colour being sharply defined; the beak is light green, long and slender: such, then, is the look of the bird. Its nest is like sea-balls, i.e. the things that by the name of halosachne or seafoam, only the colour is not the same. The colour of the nest is light red, and the shape is that of the long-necked gourd. The nests are larger than the largest sponge, though they vary in size; they are roofed over, and great part of them is solid and great part hollow. If you use a sharp knife it is not easy to cut the nest through; but if you cut it, and at the same time bruise it with your hand, it will soon crumble to pieces, like the halosachne. The opening is small, just enough for a tiny entrance, so that even if the nest upset the sea does not enter in; the hollow channels are like those in sponges. It is not known for certain of what material the nest is constructed; it is possibly made of the backbones of the gar-fish; for, by the way, the bird lives on fish. Besides living on the shore, it ascends fresh-water streams. It lays generally about five eggs, and lays eggs all its life long, beginning to do so at the age of four months.


The hoopoe usually constructs its nest out of human excrement. It changes its appearance in summer and in winter, as in fact do the great majority of wild birds. (The titmouse is said to lay a very large quantity of eggs: next to the ostrich the blackheaded tit is said by some to lay the largest number of eggs; seventeen eggs have been seen; it lays, however, more than twenty; it is said always to lay an odd number. Like others we have mentioned, it builds in trees; it feeds on caterpillars.) A peculiarity of this bird and of the nightingale is that the outer extremity of the tongue is not sharp-pointed.

The aegithus finds its food with ease, has many young, and walks with a limp. The golden oriole is apt at learning, is clever at making a living, but is awkward in flight and has an ugly plumage.


The reed-warbler makes its living as easily as any other bird, sits in summer in a shady spot facing the wind, in winter in a sunny and sheltered place among reeds in a marsh; it is small in size, with a pleasant note. The so-called chatterer has a pleasant note, beautiful plumage, makes a living cleverly, and is graceful in form; it appears to be alien to our country; at all events it is seldom seen at a distance from its own immediate home.


The crake is quarrelsome, clever at making a living, but in other ways an unlucky bird. The bird called sitta is quarrelsome, but clever and tidy, makes its living with ease, and for its knowingness is regarded as uncanny; it has a numerous brood, of which it is fond, and lives by pecking the bark of trees. The aegolius-owl flies by night, is seldom seen by day; like others we have mentioned, it lives on cliffs or in caverns; it feeds on two kinds of food; it has a strong hold on life and is full of resource. The tree-creeper is a little bird, of fearless disposition; it lives among trees, feeds on caterpillars, makes a living with ease, and has a loud clear note. The acanthis finds its food with difficulty; its plumage is poor, but its note is musical.


Of the herons, the ashen-coloured one, as has been said, unites with the female not without pain; it is full of resource, carries its food with it, is eager in the quest of it, and works by day; its plumage is poor, and its excrement is always wet. Of the other two species-for there are three in all-the white heron has handsome plumage, unites without harm to itself with the female, builds a nest and lays its eggs neatly in trees; it frequents marshes and lakes and Plains and meadow land. The speckled heron, which is nicknamed ‘the skulker’, is said in folklore stories to be of servile origin, and, as its nickname implies, it is the laziest bird of the three species. Such are the habits of herons. The bird that is called the poynx has this peculiarity, that it is more prone than any other bird to peck at the eyes of an assailant or its prey; it is at war with the harpy, as the two birds live on the same food.


There are two kinds of owsels; the one is black, and is found everywhere, the other is quite white, about the same size as the other, and with the same pipe. This latter is found on Cyllene in Arcadia, and is found nowhere else. The laius, or blue-thrush, is like the black owsel, only a little smaller; it lives on cliffs or on tile roofings; it has not a red beak as the black owsel has.


Of thrushes there are three species. One is the misselthrush; it feeds only on mistletoe and resin; it is about the size of the jay. A second is the song-thrush; it has a sharp pipe, and is about the size of the owsel. There is another species called the Illas; it is the smallest species of the three, and is less variegated in plumage than the others.


There is a bird that lives on rocks, called the blue-bird from its colour. It is comparatively common in Nisyros, and is somewhat less than the owsel and a little bigger than the chaffinch. It has large claws, and climbs on the face of the rocks. It is steel-blue all over; its beak is long and slender; its legs are short, like those of the woodpecker.


The oriole is yellow all over; it is not visible during winter, but puts in an appearance about the time of the summer solstice, and departs again at the rising of Arcturus; it is the size of the turtle-dove. The so-called soft-head (or shrike) always settles on one and the same branch, where it falls a prey to the birdcatcher. Its head is big, and composed of gristle; it is a little smaller than the thrush; its beak is strong, small, and round; it is ashen-coloured all over; is fleet of foot, but slow of wing. The bird-catcher usually catches it by help of the owl.


There is also the pardalus. As a rule, it is seen in flocks and not singly; it is ashen-coloured all over, and about the size of the birds last described; it is fleet of foot and strong of wing, and its pipe is loud and high-pitched. The collyrion (or fieldfare) feeds on the same food as the owsel; is of the same size as the above mentioned birds; and is trapped usually in the winter. All these birds are found at all times. Further, there are the birds that live as a rule in towns, the raven and the crow. These also are visible at all seasons, never shift their place of abode, and never go into winter quarters.


Of daws there are three species. One is the chough; it is as large as the crow, but has a red beak. There is another, called the ‘wolf’; and further there is the little daw, called the ‘railer’. There is another kind of daw found in Lybia and Phrygia, which is web-footed.


Of larks there are two kinds. One lives on the ground and has a crest on its head; the other is gregarious, and not sporadic like the first; it is, however, of the same coloured plumage, but is smaller, and has no crest; it is an article of human food.


The woodcock is caught with nets in gardens. It is about the size of a barn-door hen; it has a long beak, and in plumage is like the francolin-partridge. It runs quickly, and is pretty easily domesticated. The starling is speckled; it is of the same size as the owsel.


Of the Egyptian ibis there are two kinds, the white and the black. The white ones are found over Egypt, excepting in Pelusium; the black ones are found in Pelusium, and nowhere else in Egypt.


Of the little horned owls there are two kinds, and one is visible at all seasons, and for that reason has the nickname of ‘all-the-year-round owl’; it is not sufficiently palatable to come to table; another species makes its appearance sometimes in the autumn, is seen for a single day or at the most for two days, and is regarded as a table delicacy; it scarcely differs from the first species save only in being fatter; it has no note, but the other species has. With regard to their origin, nothing is known from ocular observation; the only fact known for certain is that they are first seen when a west wind is blowing.


The cuckoo, as has been said elsewhere, makes no nest, but deposits its eggs in an alien nest, generally in the nest of the ring-dove, or on the ground in the nest of the hypolais or lark, or on a tree in the nest of the green linnet. it lays only one egg and does not hatch it itself, but the mother-bird in whose nest it has deposited it hatches and rears it; and, as they say, this mother bird, when the young cuckoo has grown big, thrusts her own brood out of the nest and lets them perish; others say that this mother-bird kills her own brood and gives them to the alien to devour, despising her own young owing to the beauty of the cuckoo. Personal observers agree in telling most of these stories, but are not in agreement as to the instruction of the young. Some say that the mother-cuckoo comes and devours the brood of the rearing mother; others say that the young cuckoo from its superior size snaps up the food brought before the smaller brood have a chance, and that in consequence the smaller brood die of hunger; others say that, by its superior strength, it actually kills the other ones whilst it is being reared up with them. The cuckoo shows great sagacity in the disposal of its progeny; the fact is, the mother cuckoo is quite conscious of her own cowardice and of the fact that she could never help her young one in an emergency, and so, for the security of the young one, she makes of him a supposititious child in an alien nest. The truth is, this bird is pre-eminent among birds in the way of cowardice; it allows itself to be pecked at by little birds, and flies away from their attacks.


It has already been stated that the footless bird, which some term the cypselus, resembles the swallow; indeed, it is not easy to distinguish between the two birds, excepting in the fact that the cypselus has feathers on the shank. These birds rear their young in long cells made of mud, and furnished with a hole just big enough for entry and exit; they build under cover of some roofing-under a rock or in a cavern-for protection against animals and men.

The so-called goat-sucker lives on mountains; it is a little larger than the owsel, and less than the cuckoo; it lays two eggs, or three at the most, and is of a sluggish disposition. It flies up to the she-goat and sucks its milk, from which habit it derives its name; it is said that, after it has sucked the teat of the animal, the teat dries up and the animal goes blind. It is dim-sighted in the day-time, but sees well enough by night.


In narrow circumscribed districts where the food would be insufficient for more birds than two, ravens are only found in isolated pairs; when their young are old enough to fly, the parent couple first eject them from the nest, and by and by chase them from the neighbourhood. The raven lays four or five eggs. About the time when the mercenaries under Medius were slaughtered at Pharsalus, the districts about Athens and the Peloponnese were left destitute of ravens, from which it would appear that these birds have some means of intercommunicating with one another.


Of eagles there are several species. One of them, called ‘the white-tailed eagle’, is found on low lands, in groves, and in the neighbourhood of cities; some call it the ‘heron-killer’. It is bold enough to fly to mountains and the interior of forests. The other eagles seldom visit groves or low-lying land. There is another species called the ‘plangus’; it ranks second in point of size and strength; it lives in mountain combes and glens, and by marshy lakes, and goes by the name of ‘duck-killer’ and ‘swart-eagle.’ It is mentioned by Homer in his account of the visit made by Priam to the tent of Achilles. There is another species with black Plumage, the smallest but boldest of all the kinds. It dwells on mountains or in forests, and is called ‘the black-eagle’ or ‘the hare-killer’; it is the only eagle that rears its young and thoroughly takes them out with it. It is swift of flight, is neat and tidy in its habits, too proud for jealousy, fearless, quarrelsome; it is also silent, for it neither whimpers nor screams. There is another species, the percnopterus, very large, with white head, very short wings, long tail-feathers, in appearance like a vulture. It goes by the name of ‘mountain-stork’ or ‘half-eagle’. It lives in groves; has all the bad qualities of the other species, and none of the good ones; for it lets itself be chased and caught by the raven and the other birds. It is clumsy in its movements, has difficulty in procuring its food, preys on dead animals, is always hungry, and at all times whining and screaming. There is another species, called the ‘sea-eagle’ or ‘osprey’. This bird has a large thick neck, curved wings, and broad tailfeathers; it lives near the sea, grasps its prey with its talons, and often, from inability to carry it, tumbles down into the water. There is another species called the ‘true-bred’; people say that these are the only true-bred birds to be found, that all other birds-eagles, hawks, and the smallest birds-are all spoilt by the interbreeding of different species. The true-bred eagle is the largest of all eagles; it is larger than the phene; is half as large again as the ordinary eagle, and has yellow plumage; it is seldom seen, as is the case with the so-called cymindis. The time for an eagle to be on the wing in search of prey is from midday to evening; in the morning until the market-hour it remains on the nest. In old age the upper beak of the eagle grows gradually longer and more crooked, and the bird dies eventually of starvation; there is a folklore story that the eagle is thus punished because it once was a man and refused entertainment to a stranger. The eagle puts aside its superfluous food for its young; for owing to the difficulty in procuring food day by day, it at times may come back to the nest with nothing. If it catch a man prowling about in the neighbourhood of its nest, it will strike him with its wings and scratch him with its talons. The nest is built not on low ground but on an elevated spot, generally on an inaccessible ledge of a cliff; it does, however, build upon a tree. The young are fed until they can fly; hereupon the parent-birds topple them out of the nest, and chase them completely out of the locality. The fact is that a pair of eagles demands an extensive space for its maintenance, and consequently cannot allow other birds to quarter themselves in close neighbourhood. They do not hunt in the vicinity of their nest, but go to a great distance to find their prey. When the eagle has captured a beast, it puts it down without attempting to carry it off at once; if on trial it finds the burden too heavy, it will leave it. When it has spied a hare, it does not swoop on it at once, but lets it go on into the open ground; neither does it descend to the ground at one swoop, but goes gradually down from higher flights to lower and lower: these devices it adopts by way of security against the stratagem of the hunter. It alights on high places by reason of the difficulty it experiences in soaring up from the level ground; it flies high in the air to have the more extensive view; from its high flight it is said to be the only bird that resembles the gods. Birds of prey, as a rule, seldom alight upon rock, as the crookedness of their talons prevents a stable footing on hard stone. The eagle hunts hares, fawns, foxes, and in general all such animals as he can master with ease. It is a long-lived bird, and this fact might be inferred from the length of time during which the same nest is maintained in its place.


In Scythia there is found a bird as large as the great bustard. The female lays two eggs, but does not hatch them, but hides them in the skin of a hare or fox and leaves them there, and, when it is not in quest of prey, it keeps a watch on them on a high tree; if any man tries to climb the tree, it fights and strikes him with its wing, just as eagles do.


The owl and the night-raven and all the birds see poorly in the daytime seek their prey in the night, but not all the night through, but at evening and dawn. Their food consists of mice, lizards, chafers and the like little creatures. The so-called phene, or lammergeier, is fond of its young, provides its food with ease, fetches food to its nest, and is of a kindly disposition. It rears its own young and those of the eagle as well; for when the eagle ejects its young from the nest, this bird catches them up as they fall and feeds them. For the eagle, by the way, ejects the young birds prematurely, before they are able to feed themselves, or to fly. It appears to do so from jealousy; for it is by nature jealous, and is so ravenous as to grab furiously at its food; and when it does grab at its food, it grabs it in large morsels. It is accordingly jealous of the young birds as they approach maturity, since they are getting good appetites, and so it scratches them with its talons. The young birds fight also with one another, to secure a morsel of food or a comfortable position, whereupon the mother-bird beats them and ejects them from the nest; the young ones scream at this treatment, and the phene hearing them catches them as they fall. The phene has a film over its eyes and sees badly, but the sea-eagle is very keen-sighted, and before its young are fledged tries to make them stare at the sun, and beats the one that refuses to do so, and twists him back in the sun’s direction; and if one of them gets watery eyes in the process, it kills him, and rears the other. It lives near the sea, and feeds, as has been said, on sea-birds; when in pursuit of them it catches them one by one, watching the moment when the bird rises to the surface from its dive. When a sea-bird, emerging from the water, sees the sea-eagle, he in terror dives under, intending to rise again elsewhere; the eagle, however, owing to its keenness of vision, keeps flying after him until he either drowns the bird or catches him on the surface. The eagle never attacks these birds when they are in a swarm, for they keep him off by raising a shower of water-drops with their wings.


The cepphus is caught by means of sea-foam; the bird snaps at the foam, and consequently fishermen catch it by sluicing with showers of sea-water. These birds grow to be plump and fat; their flesh has a good odour, excepting the hinder quarters, which smell of shoreweed.


Of hawks, the strongest is the buzzard; the next in point of courage is the merlin; and the circus ranks third; other diverse kinds are the asterias, the pigeon-hawk, and the pternis; the broaded-winged hawk is called the half-buzzard; others go by the name of hobby-hawk, or sparrow-hawk, or ‘smooth-feathered’, or ‘toad-catcher’. Birds of this latter species find their food with very little difficulty, and flutter along the ground. Some say that there are ten species of hawks, all differing from one another. One hawk, they say, will strike and grab the pigeon as it rests on the ground, but never touch it while it is in flight; another hawk attacks the pigeon when it is perched upon a tree or any elevation, but never touches it when it is on the ground or on the wing; other hawks attack their prey only when it is on the wing. They say that pigeons can distinguish the various species: so that, when a hawk is an assailant, if it be one that attacks its prey when the prey is on the wing, the pigeon will sit still; if it be one that attacks sitting prey, the pigeon will rise up and fly away.

In Thrace, in the district sometimes called that of Cedripolis, men hunt for little birds in the marshes with the aid of hawks. The men with sticks in their hands go beating at the reeds and brushwood to frighten the birds out, and the hawks show themselves overhead and frighten them down. The men then strike them with their sticks and capture them. They give a portion of their booty to the hawks; that is, they throw some of the birds up in the air, and the hawks catch them.

In the neighbourhood of Lake Maeotis, it is said, wolves act in concert with the fishermen, and if the fishermen decline to share with them, they tear their nets in pieces as they lie drying on the shore of the lake.


So much for the habits of birds.

In marine creatures, also, one In marine creatures, also, one may observe many ingenious devices adapted to the circumstances of their lives. For the accounts commonly given of the so-called fishing-frog are quite true; as are also those given of the torpedo. The fishing-frog has a set of filaments that project in front of its eyes; they are long and thin like hairs, and are round at the tips; they lie on either side, and are used as baits. Accordingly, when the animal stirs up a place full of sand and mud and conceals itself therein, it raises the filaments, and, when the little fish strike against them, it draws them in underneath into its mouth. The torpedo narcotizes the creatures that it wants to catch, overpowering them by the power of shock that is resident in its body, and feeds upon them; it also hides in the sand and mud, and catches all the creatures that swim in its way and come under its narcotizing influence. This phenomenon has been actually observed in operation. The sting-ray also conceals itself, but not exactly in the same way. That the creatures get their living by this means is obvious from the fact that, whereas they are peculiarly inactive, they are often caught with mullets in their interior, the swiftest of fishes. Furthermore, the fishing-frog is unusually thin when he is caught after losing the tips of his filaments, and the torpedo is known to cause a numbness even in human beings. Again, the hake, the ray, the flat-fish, and the angelfish burrow in the sand, and after concealing themselves angle with the filaments on their mouths, that fishermen call their fishing-rods, and the little creatures on which they feed swim up to the filaments taking them for bits of sea-weed, such as they feed upon.

Wherever an anthias-fish is seen, there will be no dangerous creatures in the vicinity, and sponge-divers will dive in security, and they call these signal-fishes ‘holy-fish’. It is a sort of perpetual coincidence, like the fact that wherever snails are present you may be sure there is neither pig nor partridge in the neighbourhood; for both pig and partridge eat up the snails.

The sea-serpent resembles the conger in colour and shape, but is of lesser bulk and more rapid in its movements. If it be caught and thrown away, it will bore a hole with its snout and burrow rapidly in the sand; its snout, by the way, is sharper than that of ordinary serpents. The so-called sea-scolopendra, after swallowing the hook, turns itself inside out until it ejects it, and then it again turns itself outside in. The sea-scolopendra, like the land-scolopendra, will come to a savoury bait; the creature does not bite with its teeth, but stings by contact with its entire body, like the so-called sea-nettle. The so-called fox-shark, when it finds it has swallowed the hook, tries to get rid of it as the scolopendra does, but not in the same way; in other words, it runs up the fishing-line, and bites it off short; it is caught in some districts in deep and rapid waters, with night-lines.

The bonitos swarm together when they espy a dangerous creature, and the largest of them swim round it, and if it touches one of the shoal they try to repel it; they have strong teeth. Amongst other large fish, a lamia-shark, after falling in amongst a shoal, has been seen to be covered with wounds.

Of river-fish, the male of the sheat-fish is remarkably attentive to the young. The female after parturition goes away; the male stays and keeps on guard where the spawn is most abundant, contenting himself with keeping off all other little fishes that might steal the spawn or fry, and this he does for forty or fifty days, until the young are sufficiently grown to make away from the other fishes for themselves. The fishermen can tell where he is on guard: for, in warding off the little fishes, he makes a rush in the water and gives utterance to a kind of muttering noise. He is so earnest in the performance of his parental duties that the fishermen at times, if the eggs be attached to the roots of water-plants deep in the water, drag them into as shallow a place as possible; the male fish will still keep by the young, and, if it so happen, will be caught by the hook when snapping at the little fish that come by; if, however, he be sensible by experience of the danger of the hook, he will still keep by his charge, and with his extremely strong teeth will bite the hook in pieces.

All fishes, both those that wander about and those that are stationary, occupy the districts where they were born or very similar places, for their natural food is found there. Carnivorous fish wander most; and all fish are carnivorous with the exception of a few, such as the mullet, the saupe, the red mullet, and the chalcis. The so-called pholis gives out a mucous discharge, which envelops the creature in a kind of nest. Of shell-fish, and fish that are finless, the scallop moves with greatest force and to the greatest distance, impelled along by some internal energy; the murex or purple-fish, and others that resemble it, move hardly at all. Out of the lagoon of Pyrrha all the fishes swim in winter-time, except the sea-gudgeon; they swim out owing to the cold, for the narrow waters are colder than the outer sea, and on the return of the early summer they all swim back again. In the lagoon no scarus is found, nor thritta, nor any other species of the spiny fish, no spotted dogfish, no spiny dogfish, no sea-crawfish, no octopus either of the common or the musky kinds, and certain other fish are also absent; but of fish that are found in the lagoon the white gudgeon is not a marine fish. Of fishes the oviparous are in their prime in the early summer until the spawning time; the viviparous in the autumn, as is also the case with the mullet, the red mullet, and all such fish. In the neighbourhood of Lesbos, the fishes of the outer sea, or of the lagoon, bring forth their eggs or young in the lagoon; sexual union takes place in the autumn, and parturition in the spring. With fishes of the cartilaginous kind, the males and females swarm together in the autumn for the sake of sexual union; in the early summer they come swimming in, and keep apart until after parturition; the two sexes are often taken linked together in sexual union.

Of molluscs the sepia is the most cunning, and is the only species that employs its dark liquid for the sake of concealment as well as from fear: the octopus and calamary make the discharge solely from fear. These creatures never discharge the pigment in its entirety; and after a discharge the pigment accumulates again. The sepia, as has been said, often uses its colouring pigment for concealment; it shows itself in front of the pigment and then retreats back into it; it also hunts with its long tentacles not only little fishes, but oftentimes even mullets. The octopus is a stupid creature, for it will approach a man’s hand if it be lowered in the water; but it is neat and thrifty in its habits: that is, it lays up stores in its nest, and, after eating up all that is eatable, it ejects the shells and sheaths of crabs and shell-fish, and the skeletons of little fishes. It seeks its prey by so changing its colour as to render it like the colour of the stones adjacent to it; it does so also when alarmed. By some the sepia is said to perform the same trick; that is, they say it can change its colour so as to make it resemble the colour of its habitat. The only fish that can do this is the angelfish, that is, it can change its colour like the octopus. The octopus as a rule does not live the year out. It has a natural tendency to run off into liquid; for, if beaten and squeezed, it keeps losing substance and at last disappears. The female after parturition is peculiarly subject to this colliquefaction; it becomes stupid; if tossed about by waves, it submits impassively; a man, if he dived, could catch it with the hand; it gets covered over with slime, and makes no effort to catch its wonted prey. The male becomes leathery and clammy. As a proof that they do not live into a second year there is the fact that, after the birth of the little octopuses in the late summer or beginning of autumn, it is seldom that a large-sized octopus is visible, whereas a little before this time of year the creature is at its largest. After the eggs are laid, they say that both the male and the female grow so old and feeble that they are preyed upon by little fish, and with ease dragged from their holes; and that this could not have been done previously; they say also that this is not the case with the small and young octopus, but that the young creature is much stronger than the grown-up one. Neither does the sepia live into a second year. The octopus is the only mollusc that ventures on to dry land; it walks by preference on rough ground; it is firm all over when you squeeze it, excepting in the neck. So much for the mollusca.

It is also said that they make a thin rough shell about them like a hard sheath, and that this is made larger and larger as the animal grows larger, and that it comes out of the sheath as though out of a den or dwelling place.

The nautilus (or argonaut) is a poulpe or octopus, but one peculiar both in its nature and its habits. It rises up from deep water and swims on the surface; it rises with its shell down-turned in order that it may rise the more easily and swim with it empty, but after reaching the surface it shifts the position of the shell. In between its feelers it has a certain amount of web-growth, resembling the substance between the toes of web-footed birds; only that with these latter the substance is thick, while with the nautilus it is thin and like a spider’s web. It uses this structure, when a breeze is blowing, for a sail, and lets down some of its feelers alongside as rudder-oars. If it be frightened it fills its shell with water and sinks. With regard to the mode of generation and the growth of the shell knowledge from observation is not yet satisfactory; the shell, however, does not appear to be there from the beginning, but to grow in their cases as in that of other shell-fish; neither is it ascertained for certain whether the animal can live when stripped of the shell.


Of all insects, one may also say of all living creatures, the most industrious are the ant, the bee, the hornet, the wasp, and in point of fact all creatures akin to these; of spiders some are more skilful and more resourceful than others. The way in which ants work is open to ordinary observation; how they all march one after the other when they are engaged in putting away and storing up their food; all this may be seen, for they carry on their work even during bright moonlight nights.


Of spiders and phalangia there are many species. Of the venomous phalangia there are two; one that resembles the so-called wolf-spider, small, speckled, and tapering to a point; it moves with leaps, from which habit it is nicknamed ‘the flea’: the other kind is large, black in colour, with long front legs; it is heavy in its movements, walks slowly, is not very strong, and never leaps. (Of all the other species wherewith poison-vendors supply themselves, some give a weak bite, and others never bite at all. There is another kind, comprising the so-called wolf-spiders.) Of these spiders the small one weaves no web, and the large weaves a rude and poorly built one on the ground or on dry stone walls. It always builds its web over hollow places inside of which it keeps a watch on the end-threads, until some creature gets into the web and begins to struggle, when out the spider pounces. The speckled kind makes a little shabby web under trees.

There is a third species of this animal, preeminently clever and artistic. It first weaves a thread stretching to all the exterior ends of the future web; then from the centre, which it hits upon with great accuracy, it stretches the warp; on the warp it puts what corresponds to the woof, and then weaves the whole together. It sleeps and stores its food away from the centre, but it is at the centre that it keeps watch for its prey. Then, when any creature touches the web and the centre is set in motion, it first ties and wraps the creature round with threads until it renders it helpless, then lifts it and carries it off, and, if it happens to be hungry, sucks out the life-juices — for that is the way it feeds; but, if it be not hungry, it first mends any damage done and then hastens again to its quest of prey. If something comes meanwhile into the net, the spider at first makes for the centre, and then goes back to its entangled prey as from a fixed starting point. If any one injures a portion of the web, it recommences weaving at sunrise or at sunset, because it is chiefly at these periods that creatures are caught in the web. It is the female that does the weaving and the hunting, but the male takes a share of the booty captured.

Of the skilful spiders, weaving a substantial web, there are two kinds, the larger and the smaller. The one has long legs and keeps watch while swinging downwards from the web: from its large size it cannot easily conceal itself, and so it keeps underneath, so that its prey may not be frightened off, but may strike upon the web’s upper surface; the less awkwardly formed one lies in wait on the top, using a little hole for a lurking-place. Spiders can spin webs from the time of their birth, not from their interior as a superfluity or excretion, as Democritus avers, but off their body as a kind of tree-bark, like the creatures that shoot out with their hair, as for instance the porcupine. The creature can attack animals larger than itself, and enwrap them with its threads: in other words, it will attack a small lizard, run round and draw threads about its mouth until it closes the mouth up; then it comes up and bites it.


So much for the spider. Of insects, there is a genus that has no one name that comprehends all the species, though all the species are akin to one another in form; it consists of all the insects that construct a honeycomb: to wit, the bee, and all the insects that resemble it in form.

There are nine varieties, of which six are gregarious-the bee, the king-bee, the drone bee, the annual wasp, and, furthermore, the anthrene (or hornet), and the tenthredo (or ground-wasp); three are solitary-the smaller siren, of a dun colour, the larger siren, black and speckled, and the third, the largest of all, that is called the humble-bee. Now ants never go a-hunting, but gather up what is ready to hand; the spider makes nothing, and lays up no store, but simply goes a-hunting for its food; while the bee — for we shall by and by treat of the nine varieties — does not go a-hunting, but constructs its food out of gathered material and stores it away, for honey is the bee’s food. This fact is shown by the beekeepers’ attempt to remove the combs; for the bees, when they are fumigated, and are suffering great distress from the process, then devour the honey most ravenously, whereas at other times they are never observed to be so greedy, but apparently are thrifty and disposed to lay by for their future sustenance. They have also another food which is called bee-bread; this is scarcer than honey and has a sweet figlike taste; this they carry as they do the wax on their legs.

Very remarkable diversity is observed in their methods of working and their general habits. When the hive has been delivered to them clean and empty, they build their waxen cells, bringing in the juice of all kinds of flowers and the ‘tears’ or exuding sap of trees, such as willows and elms and such others as are particularly given to the exudation of gum. With this material they besmear the groundwork, to provide against attacks of other creatures; the bee-keepers call this stuff ‘stop-wax’. They also with the same material narrow by side-building the entrances to the hive if they are too wide. They first build cells for themselves; then for the so-called kings and the drones; for themselves they are always building, for the kings only when the brood of young is numerous, and cells for the drones they build if a superabundance of honey should suggest their doing so. They build the royal cells next to their own, and they are of small bulk; the drones’ cells they build near by, and these latter are less in bulk than the bee’s cells.

They begin building the combs downwards from the top of the hive, and go down and down building many combs connected together until they reach the bottom. The cells, both those for the honey and those also for the grubs, are double-doored; for two cells are ranged about a single base, one pointing one way and one the other, after the manner of a double (or hour-glass-shaped) goblet. The cells that lie at the commencement of the combs and are attached to the hives, to the extent of two or three concentric circular rows, are small and devoid of honey; the cells that are well filled with honey are most thoroughly luted with wax. At the entry to the hive the aperture of the doorway is smeared with mitys; this substance is a deep black, and is a sort of dross or residual by-product of wax; it has a pungent odour, and is a cure for bruises and suppurating sores. The greasy stuff that comes next is pitch-wax; it has a less pungent odour and is less medicinal than the mitys. Some say that the drones construct combs by themselves in the same hive and in the same comb that they share with the bees; but that they make no honey, but subsist, they and their grubs also, on the honey made by the bees. The drones, as a rule, keep inside the hive; when they go out of doors, they soar up in the air in a stream, whirling round and round in a kind of gymnastic exercise; when this is over, they come inside the hive and feed to repletion ravenously. The kings never quit the hive, except in conjunction with the entire swarm, either for food or for any other reason. They say that, if a young swarm go astray, it will turn back upon its route and by the aid of scent seek out its leader. It is said that if he is unable to fly he is carried by the swarm, and that if he dies the swarm perishes; and that, if this swarm outlives the king for a while and constructs combs, no honey is produced and the bees soon die out.

Bees scramble up the stalks of flowers and rapidly gather the bees-wax with their front legs; the front legs wipe it off on to the middle legs, and these pass it on to the hollow curves of the hind-legs; when thus laden, they fly away home, and one may see plainly that their load is a heavy one. On each expedition the bee does not fly from a flower of one kind to a flower of another, but flies from one violet, say, to another violet, and never meddles with another flower until it has got back to the hive; on reaching the hive they throw off their load, and each bee on his return is accompanied by three or four companions. One cannot well tell what is the substance they gather, nor the exact process of their work. Their mode of gathering wax has been observed on olive-trees, as owing to the thickness of the leaves the bees remain stationary for a considerable while. After this work is over, they attend to the grubs. There is nothing to prevent grubs, honey, and drones being all found in one and the same comb. As long as the leader is alive, the drones are said to be produced apart by themselves; if he be no longer living, they are said to be reared by the bees in their own cells, and under these circumstances to become more spirited: for this reason they are called ‘sting-drones’, not that they really have stings, but that they have the wish without the power, to use such weapons. The cells for the drones are larger than the others; sometimes the bees construct cells for the drones apart, but usually they put them in amongst their own; and when this is the case the bee-keepers cut the drone-cells out of the combs.

There are several species of bees, as has been said; two of ‘kings’, the better kind red, the other black and variegated, and twice as big as the working-bee. The best workingbee is small, round, and speckled: another kind is long and like an anthrene wasp; another kind is what is called the robber-bee, black and flat-bellied; then there is the drone, the largest of all, but devoid of sting, and lazy. There is a difference between the progeny of bees that inhabit cultivated land and of those from the mountains: the forest-bees are more shaggy, smaller, more industrious and more fierce. Working-bees make their combs all even, with the superficial covering quite smooth. Each comb is of one kind only: that is, it contains either bees only, or grubs only, or drones only; if it happen, however, that they make in one and the same comb all these kinds of cells, each separate kind will be built in a continuous row right through. The long bees build uneven combs, with the lids of the cells protuberant, like those of the anthrene; grubs and everything else have no fixed places, but are put anywhere; from these bees come inferior kings, a large quantity of drones, and the so-called robber-bee; they produce either no honey at all, or honey in very small quantities. Bees brood over the combs and so mature them; if they fail to do so, the combs are said to go bad and to get covered with a sort of spider’s web. If they can keep brooding over the part undamaged, the damaged part simply eats itself away; if they cannot so brood, the entire comb perishes; in the damaged combs small worms are engendered, which take on wings and fly away. When the combs keep settling down, the bees restore the level surface, and put props underneath the combs to give themselves free passage-room; for if such free passage be lacking they cannot brood, and the cobwebs come on. When the robber-bee and the drone appear, not only do they do no work themselves, but they actually damage the work of the other bees; if they are caught in the act, they are killed by the working-bees. These bees also kill without mercy most of their kings, and especially kings of the inferior sort; and this they do for fear a multiplicity of kings should lead to a dismemberment of the hive. They kill them especially when the hive is deficient in grubs, and a swarm is not intended to take place; under these circumstances they destroy the cells of the kings if they have been prepared, on the ground that these kings are always ready to lead out swarms. They destroy also the combs of the drones if a failure in the supply be threatening and the hive runs short of provisions; under such circumstances they fight desperately with all who try to take their honey, and eject from the hive all the resident drones; and oftentimes the drones are to be seen sitting apart in the hive. The little bees fight vigorously with the long kind, and try to banish them from the hives; if they succeed, the hive will be unusually productive, but if the bigger bees get left mistresses of the field they pass the time in idleness, and no good at all but die out before the autumn. Whenever the working-bees kill an enemy they try to do so out of doors; and whenever one of their own body dies, they carry the dead bee out of doors also. The so-called robber-bees spoil their own combs, and, if they can do so unnoticed, enter and spoil the combs of other bees; if they are caught in the act they are put to death. It is no easy task for them to escape detection, for there are sentinels on guard at every entry; and, even if they do escape detection on entering, afterwards from a surfeit of food they cannot fly, but go rolling about in front of the hive, so that their chances of escape are small indeed. The kings are never themselves seen outside the hive except with a swarm in flight: during which time all the other bees cluster around them. When the flight of a swarm is imminent, a monotonous and quite peculiar sound made by all the bees is heard for several days, and for two or three days in advance a few bees are seen flying round the hive; it has never as yet been ascertained, owing to the difficulty of the observation, whether or no the king is among these. When they have swarmed, they fly away and separate off to each of the kings; if a small swarm happens to settle near to a large one, it will shift to join this large one, and if the king whom they have abandoned follows them, they put him to death. So much for the quitting of the hive and the swarmflight. Separate detachments of bees are told off for diverse operations; that is, some carry flower-produce, others carry water, others smooth and arrange the combs. A bee carries water when it is rearing grubs. No bee ever settles on the flesh of any creature, or ever eats animal food. They have no fixed date for commencing work; but when their provender is forthcoming and they are in comfortable trim, and by preference in summer, they set to work, and when the weather is fine they work incessantly.

The bee, when quite young and in fact only three days old, after shedding its chrysalis-case, begins to work if it be well fed. When a swarm is settling, some bees detach themselves in search of food and return back to the swarm. In hives that are in good condition the production of young bees is discontinued only for the forty days that follow the winter solstice. When the grubs are grown, the bees put food beside them and cover them with a coating of wax; and, as soon as the grub is strong enough, he of his own accord breaks the lid and comes out. Creatures that make their appearance in hives and spoil the combs the working-bees clear out, but the other bees from sheer laziness look with indifference on damage done to their produce. When the bee-masters take out the combs, they leave enough food behind for winter use; if it be sufficient in quantity, the occupants of the hive will survive; if it be insufficient, then, if the weather be rough, they die on the spot, but if it be fair, they fly away and desert the hive. They feed on honey summer and winter; but they store up another article of food resembling wax in hardness, which by some is called sandarace, or bee-bread. Their worst enemies are wasps and the birds named titmice, and furthermore the swallow and the bee-eater. The frogs in the marsh also catch them if they come in their way by the water-side, and for this reason bee-keepers chase the frogs from the ponds from which the bees take water; they destroy also wasps’ nests, and the nests of swallows, in the neighbourhood of the hives, and also the nests of bee-eaters. Bees have fear only of one another. They fight with one another and with wasps. Away from the hive they attack neither their own species nor any other creature, but in the close proximity of the hive they kill whatever they get hold of. Bees that sting die from their inability to extract the sting without at the same time extracting their intestines. True, they often recover, if the person stung takes the trouble to press the sting out; but once it loses its sting the bee must die. They can kill with their stings even large animals; in fact, a horse has been known to have been stung to death by them. The kings are the least disposed to show anger or to inflict a sting. Bees that die are removed from the hive, and in every way the creature is remarkable for its cleanly habits; in point of fact, they often fly away to a distance to void their excrement because it is malodorous; and, as has been said, they are annoyed by all bad smells and by the scent of perfumes, so much so that they sting people that use perfumes.

They perish from a number of accidental causes, and when their kings become too numerous and try each to carry away a portion of the swarm.

The toad also feeds on bees; he comes to the doorway of the hive, puffs himself out as he sits on the watch, and devours the creatures as they come flying out; the bees can in no way retaliate, but the bee-keeper makes a point of killing him.

As for the class of bee that has been spoken of as inferior or good-for-nothing, and as constructing its combs so roughly, some bee-keepers say that it is the young bees that act so from inexperience; and the bees of the current year are termed young. The young bees do not sting as the others do; and it is for this reason that swarms may be safely carried, as it is of young bees that they are composed. When honey runs short they expel the drones, and the bee-keepers supply the bees with figs and sweet-tasting articles of food. The elder bees do the indoor work, and are rough and hairy from staying indoors; the young bees do the outer carrying, and are comparatively smooth. They kill the drones also when in their work they are confined for room; the drones, by the way, live in the innermost recess of the hive. On one occasion, when a hive was in a poor condition, some of the occupants assailed a foreign hive; proving victorious in a combat they took to carrying off the honey; when the bee-keeper tried to kill them, the other bees came out and tried to beat off the enemy but made no attempt to sting the man.

The diseases that chiefly attack prosperous hives are first of all the clerus-this consists in a growth of little worms on the floor, from which, as they develop, a kind of cobweb grows over the entire hive, and the combs decay; another diseased condition is indicated in a lassitude on the part of the bees and in malodorousness of the hive. Bees feed on thyme; and the white thyme is better than the red. In summer the place for the hive should be cool, and in winter warm. They are very apt to fall sick if the plant they are at work on be mildewed. In a high wind they carry a stone by way of ballast to steady them. If a stream be near at hand, they drink from it and from it only, but before they drink they first deposit their load; if there be no water near at hand, they disgorge their honey as they drink elsewhere, and at once make off to work. There are two seasons for making honey, spring and autumn; the spring honey is sweeter, whiter, and in every way better than the autumn honey. Superior honey comes from fresh comb, and from young shoots; the red honey is inferior, and owes its inferiority to the comb in which it is deposited, just as wine is apt to be spoiled by its cask; consequently, one should have it looked to and dried. When the thyme is in flower and the comb is full, the honey does not harden. The honey that is golden in hue is excellent. White honey does not come from thyme pure and simple; it is good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds. Poor honey always floats on the surface and should be skimmed off; the fine clear honey rests below. When the floral world is in full bloom, then they make wax; consequently you must then take the wax out of the hive, for they go to work on new wax at once. The flowers from which they gather honey are as follows: the spindle-tree, the melilot-clover, king’s-spear, myrtle, flowering-reed, withy, and broom. When they work at thyme, they mix in water before sealing up the comb. As has been already stated, they all either fly to a distance to discharge their excrement or make the discharge into one single comb. The little bees, as has been said, are more industrious than the big ones; their wings are battered; their colour is black, and they have a burnt-up aspect. Gaudy and showy bees, like gaudy and showy women, are good-for-nothings.

Bees seem to take a pleasure in listening to a rattling noise; and consequently men say that they can muster them into a hive by rattling with crockery or stones; it is uncertain, however, whether or no they can hear the noise at all and also whether their procedure is due to pleasure or alarm. They expel from the hive all idlers and unthrifts. As has been said, they differentiate their work; some make wax, some make honey, some make bee-bread, some shape and mould combs, some bring water to the cells and mingle it with the honey, some engage in out-of-door work. At early dawn they make no noise, until some one particular bee makes a buzzing noise two or three times and thereby awakes the rest; hereupon they all fly in a body to work. By and by they return and at first are noisy; then the noise gradually decreases, until at last some one bee flies round about, making a buzzing noise, and apparently calling on the others to go to sleep; then all of a sudden there is a dead silence.

The hive is known to be in good condition if the noise heard within it is loud, and if the bees make a flutter as they go out and in; for at this time they are constructing brood-cells. They suffer most from hunger when they recommence work after winter. They become somewhat lazy if the bee-keeper, in robbing the hive, leave behind too much honey; still one should leave cells numerous in proportion to the population, for the bees work in a spiritless way if too few combs are left. They become idle also, as being dispirited, if the hive be too big. A hive yields to the bee-keeper six or nine pints of honey; a prosperous hive will yield twelve or fifteen pints, exceptionally good hives eighteen. Sheep and, as has been said, wasps are enemies to the bees. Bee-keepers entrap the latter, by putting a flat dish on the ground with pieces of meat on it; when a number of the wasps settle on it, they cover them with a lid and put the dish and its contents on the fire. It is a good thing to have a few drones in a hive, as their presence increases the industry of the workers. Bees can tell the approach of rough weather or of rain; and the proof is that they will not fly away, but even while it is as yet fine they go fluttering about within a restricted space, and the bee-keeper knows from this that they are expecting bad weather. When the bees inside the hive hang clustering to one another, it is a sign that the swarm is intending to quit; consequently, occasion, when a bee-keepers, on seeing this, besprinkle the hive with sweet wine. It is advisable to plant about the hives pear-trees, beans, Median-grass, Syrian-grass, yellow pulse, myrtle, poppies, creeping-thyme, and almond-trees. Some bee-keepers sprinkle their bees with flour, and can distinguish them from others when they are at work out of doors. If the spring be late, or if there be drought or blight, then grubs are all the fewer in the hives. So much for the habits of bees.


Of wasps, there are two kinds. Of these kinds one is wild and scarce, lives on the mountains, engenders grubs not underground but on oak-trees, is larger, longer, and blacker than the other kind, is invariably speckled and furnished with a sting, and is remarkably courageous. The pain from its sting is more severe than that caused by the others, for the instrument that causes the pain is larger, in proportion to its own larger size. These wild live over into a second year, and in winter time, when oaks have been in course of felling, they may be seen coming out and flying away. They lie concealed during the winter, and live in the interior of logs of wood. Some of them are mother-wasps and some are workers, as with the tamer kind; but it is by observation of the tame wasps that one may learn the varied characteristics of the mothers and the workers. For in the case of the tame wasps also there are two kinds; one consists of leaders, who are called mothers, and the other of workers. The leaders are far larger and milder-tempered than the others. The workers do not live over into a second year, but all die when winter comes on; and this can be proved, for at the commencement of winter the workers become drowsy, and about the time of the winter solstice they are never seen at all. The leaders, the so-called mothers, are seen all through the winter, and live in holes underground; for men when ploughing or digging in winter have often come upon mother-wasps, but never upon workers. The mode of reproduction of wasps is as follows. At the approach of summer, when the leaders have found a sheltered spot, they take to moulding their combs, and construct the so-called sphecons,-little nests containing four cells or thereabouts, and in these are produced working-wasps but not mothers. When these are grown up, then they construct other larger combs upon the first, and then again in like manner others; so that by the close of autumn there are numerous large combs in which the leader, the so-called mother, engenders no longer working-wasps but mothers. These develop high up in the nest as large grubs, in cells that occur in groups of four or rather more, pretty much in the same way as we have seen the grubs of the king-bees to be produced in their cells. After the birth of the working-grubs in the cells, the leaders do nothing and the workers have to supply them with nourishment; and this is inferred from the fact that the leaders (of the working-wasps) no longer fly out at this time, but rest quietly indoors. Whether the leaders of last year after engendering new leaders are killed by the new brood, and whether this occurs invariably or whether they can live for a longer time, has not been ascertained by actual observation; neither can we speak with certainty, as from observation, as to the age attained by the mother-wasp or by the wild wasps, or as to any other similar phenomenon. The mother-wasp is broad and heavy, fatter and larger than the ordinary wasp, and from its weight not very strong on the wing; these wasps cannot fly far, and for this reason they always rest inside the nest, building and managing its indoor arrangements. The so-called mother-wasps are found in most of the nests; it is a matter of doubt whether or no they are provided with stings; in all probability, like the king-bees, they have stings, but never protrude them for offence. Of the ordinary wasps some are destitute of stings, like the drone-bees, and some are provided with them. Those unprovided therewith are smaller and less spirited and never fight, while the others are big and courageous; and these latter, by some, are called males, and the stingless, females. At the approach of winter many of the wasps that have stings appear to lose them; but we have never met an eyewitness of this phenomenon. Wasps are more abundant in times of drought and in wild localities. They live underground; their combs they mould out of chips and earth, each comb from a single origin, like a kind of root. They feed on certain flowers and fruits, but for the most part on animal food. Some of the tame wasps have been observed when sexually united, but it was not determined whether both, or neither, had stings, or whether one had a sting and the other had not; wild wasps have been seen under similar circumstances, when one was seen to have a sting but the case of the other was left undetermined. The wasp-grub does not appear to come into existence by parturition, for at the outset the grub is too big to be the offspring of a wasp. If you take a wasp by the feet and let him buzz with the vibration of his wings, wasps that have no stings will fly toward it, and wasps that have stings will not; from which fact it is inferred by some that one set are males and the other females. In holes in the ground in winter-time wasps are found, some with stings, and some without. Some build cells, small and few in number; others build many and large ones. The so-called mothers are caught at the change of season, mostly on elm-trees, while gathering a substance sticky and gumlike. A large number of mother-wasps are found when in the previous year wasps have been numerous and the weather rainy; they are captured in precipitous places, or in vertical clefts in the ground, and they all appear to be furnished with stings.


So much for the habits of wasps.

Anthrenae do not subsist by culling from flowers as bees do, but for the most part on animal food: for this reason they hover about dung; for they chase the large flies, and after catching them lop off their heads and fly away with the rest of the carcases; they are furthermore fond of sweet fruits. Such is their food. They have also kings or leaders like bees and wasps; and their leaders are larger in proportion to themselves than are wasp-kings to wasps or bee-kings to bees. The anthrena-king, like the wasp-king, lives indoors. Anthrenae build their nests underground, scraping out the soil like ants; for neither anthrenae nor wasps go off in swarms as bees do, but successive layers of young anthrenae keep to the same habitat, and go on enlarging their nest by scraping out more and more of soil. The nest accordingly attains a great size; in fact, from a particularly prosperous nest have been removed three and even four baskets full of combs. They do not, like bees, store up food, but pass the winter in a torpid condition; the greater part of them die in the winter, but it is uncertain whether that can be said of them all, In the hives of bees several kings are found and they lead off detachments in swarms, but in the anthrena’s nest only one king is found. When individual anthrenae have strayed from their nest, they cluster on a tree and construct combs, as may be often seen above-ground, and in this nest they produce a king; when the king is full-grown, he leads them away and settles them along with himself in a hive or nest. With regard to their sexual unions, and the method of their reproduction, nothing is known from actual observation. Among bees both the drones and the kings are stingless, and so are certain wasps, as has been said; but anthrenae appear to be all furnished with stings: though, by the way, it would well be worth while to carry out investigation as to whether the anthrena-king has a sting or not.


Humble-bees produce their young under a stone, right on the ground, in a couple of cells or little more; in these cells is found an attempt at honey, of a poor description. The tenthredon is like the anthrena, but speckled, and about as broad as a bee. Being epicures as to their food, they fly, one at a time, into kitchens and on to slices of fish and the like dainties. The tenthredon brings forth, like the wasp, underground, and is very prolific; its nest is much bigger and longer than that of the wasp. So much for the methods of working and the habits of life of the bee, the wasp, and all the other similar insects.


As regards the disposition or temper of animals, as has been previously observed, one may detect great differences in respect to courage and timidity, as also, even among wild animals, in regard to tameness and wildness. The lion, while he is eating, is most ferocious; but when he is not hungry and has had a good meal, he is quite gentle. He is totally devoid of suspicion or nervous fear, is fond of romping with animals that have been reared along with him and to whom he is accustomed, and manifests great affection towards them. In the chase, as long as he is in view, he makes no attempt to run and shows no fear, but even if he be compelled by the multitude of the hunters to retreat, he withdraws deliberately, step by step, every now and then turning his head to regard his pursuers. If, however, he reach wooded cover, then he runs at full speed, until he comes to open ground, when he resumes his leisurely retreat. When, in the open, he is forced by the number of the hunters to run while in full view, he does run at the top of his speed, but without leaping and bounding. This running of his is evenly and continuously kept up like the running of a dog; but when he is in pursuit of his prey and is close behind, he makes a sudden pounce upon it. The two statements made regarding him are quite true; the one that he is especially afraid of fire, as Homer pictures him in the line-’and glowing torches, which, though fierce he dreads,’-and the other, that he keeps a steady eye upon the hunter who hits him, and flings himself upon him. If a hunter hit him, without hurting him, then if with a bound he gets hold of him, he will do him no harm, not even with his claws, but after shaking him and giving him a fright will let him go again. They invade the cattle-folds and attack human beings when they are grown old and so by reason of old age and the diseased condition of their teeth are unable to pursue their wonted prey. They live to a good old age. The lion who was captured when lame, had a number of his teeth broken; which fact was regarded by some as a proof of the longevity of lions, as he could hardly have been reduced to this condition except at an advanced age. There are two species of lions, the plump, curly-maned, and the long-bodied, straight maned; the latter kind is courageous, and the former comparatively timid; sometimes they run away with their tail between their legs, like a dog. A lion was once seen to be on the point of attacking a boar, but to run away when the boar stiffened his bristles in defence. It is susceptible of hurt from a wound in the flank, but on any other part of its frame will endure any number of blows, and its head is especially hard. Whenever it inflicts a wound, either by its teeth or its claws, there flows from the wounded parts suppurating matter, quite yellow, and not to be stanched by bandage or sponge; the treatment for such a wound is the same as that for the bite of a dog.

The thos, or civet, is fond of man’s company; it does him no harm and is not much afraid of him, but it is an enemy to the dog and the lion, and consequently is not found in the same habitat with them. The little ones are the best. Some say that there are two species of the animal, and some say, three; there are probably not more than three, but, as is the case with certain of the fishes, birds, and quadrupeds, this animal changes in appearance with the change of season. His colour in winter is not the same as it is in summer; in summer the animal is smooth-haired, in winter he is clothed in fur.


The bison is found in Paeonia on Mount Messapium, which separates Paeonia from Maedica; and the Paeonians call it the monapos. It is the size of a bull, but stouter in build, and not long in the body; its skin, stretched tight on a frame, would give sitting room for seven people. In general it resembles the ox in appearance, except that it has a mane that reaches down to the point of the shoulder, as that of the horse reaches down to its withers; but the hair in its mane is softer than the hair in the horse’s mane, and clings more closely. The colour of the hair is brown-yellow; the mane reaches down to the eyes, and is deep and thick. The colour of the body is half red, half ashen-grey, like that of the so-called chestnut horse, but rougher. It has an undercoat of woolly hair. The animal is not found either very black or very red. It has the bellow of a bull. Its horns are crooked, turned inwards towards each other and useless for purposes of self-defence; they are a span broad, or a little more, and in volume each horn would hold about three pints of liquid; the black colour of the horn is beautiful and bright. The tuft of hair on the forehead reaches down to the eyes, so that the animal sees objects on either flank better than objects right in front. It has no upper teeth, as is the case also with kine and all other horned animals. Its legs are hairy; it is cloven-footed, and the tail, which resembles that of the ox, seems not big enough for the size of its body. It tosses up dust and scoops out the ground with its hooves, like the bull. Its skin is impervious to blows. Owing to the savour of its flesh it is sought for in the chase. When it is wounded it runs away, and stops only when thoroughly exhausted. It defends itself against an assailant by kicking and projecting its excrement to a distance of eight yards; this device it can easily adopt over and over again, and the excrement is so pungent that the hair of hunting-dogs is burnt off by it. It is only when the animal is disturbed or alarmed that the dung has this property; when the animal is undisturbed it has no blistering effect. So much for the shape and habits of the animal. When the season comes for parturition the mothers give birth to their young in troops upon the mountains. Before dropping their young they scatter their dung in all directions, making a kind of circular rampart around them; for the animal has the faculty of ejecting excrement in most extraordinary quantities.


Of all wild animals the most easily tamed and the gentlest is the elephant. It can be taught a number of tricks, the drift and meaning of which it understands; as, for instance, it can taught to kneel in presence of the king. It is very sensitive, and possessed of an intelligence superior to that of other animals. When the male has had sexual union with the female, and the female has conceived, the male has no further intercourse with her.

Some say that the elephant lives for two hundred years; others, for one hundred and twenty; that the female lives nearly as long as the male; that they reach their prime about the age of sixty, and that they are sensitive to inclement weather and frost. The elephant is found by the banks of rivers, but he is not a river animal; he can make his way through water, as long as the tip of his trunk can be above the surface, for he blows with his trunk and breathes through it. The animal is a poor swimmer owing to the heavy weight of his body.


The male camel declines intercourse with its mother; if his keeper tries compulsion, he evinces disinclination. On one occasion, when intercourse was being declined by the young male, the keeper covered over the mother and put the young male to her; but, when after the intercourse the wrapping had been removed, though the operation was completed and could not be revoked, still by and by he bit his keeper to death. A story goes that the king of Scythia had a highly-bred mare, and that all her foals were splendid; that wishing to mate the best of the young males with the mother, he had him brought to the stall for the purpose; that the young horse declined; that, after the mother’s head had been concealed in a wrapper he, in ignorance, had intercourse; and that, when immediately afterwards the wrapper was removed and the head of the mare was rendered visible, the young horse ran way and hurled himself down a precipice.


Among the sea-fishes many stories are told about the dolphin, indicative of his gentle and kindly nature, and of manifestations of passionate attachment to boys, in and about Tarentum, Caria, and other places. The story goes that, after a dolphin had been caught and wounded off the coast of Caria, a shoal of dolphins came into the harbour and stopped there until the fisherman let his captive go free; whereupon the shoal departed. A shoal of young dolphins is always, by way of protection, followed by a large one. On one occasion a shoal of dolphins, large and small, was seen, and two dolphins at a little distance appeared swimming in underneath a little dead dolphin when it was sinking, and supporting it on their backs, trying out of compassion to prevent its being devoured by some predaceous fish. Incredible stories are told regarding the rapidity of movement of this creature. It appears to be the fleetest of all animals, marine and terrestrial, and it can leap over the masts of large vessels. This speed is chiefly manifested when they are pursuing a fish for food; then, if the fish endeavours to escape, they pursue him in their ravenous hunger down to deep waters; but, when the necessary return swim is getting too long, they hold in their breath, as though calculating the length of it, and then draw themselves together for an effort and shoot up like arrows, trying to make the long ascent rapidly in order to breathe, and in the effort they spring right over the a ship’s masts if a ship be in the vicinity. This same phenomenon is observed in divers, when they have plunged into deep water; that is, they pull themselves together and rise with a speed proportional to their strength. Dolphins live together in pairs, male and female. It is not known for what reason they run themselves aground on dry land; at all events, it is said that they do so at times, and for no obvious reason.


Just as with all animals a change of action follows a change of circumstance, so also a change of character follows a change of action, and often some portions of the physical frame undergo a change, occurs in the case of birds. Hens, for instance, when they have beaten the cock in a fight, will crow like the cock and endeavour to tread him; the crest rises up on their head and the tail-feathers on the rump, so that it becomes difficult to recognize that they are hens; in some cases there is a growth of small spurs. On the death of a hen a cock has been seen to undertake the maternal duties, leading the chickens about and providing them with food, and so intent upon these duties as to cease crowing and indulging his sexual propensities. Some cock-birds are congenitally so feminine that they will submit patiently to other males who attempt to tread them.


Some animals change their form and character, not only at certain ages and at certain seasons, but in consequence of being castrated; and all animals possessed of testicles may be submitted to this operation. Birds have their testicles inside, and oviparous quadrupeds close to the loins; and of viviparous animals that walk some have them inside, and most have them outside, but all have them at the lower end of the belly. Birds are castrated at the rump at the part where the two sexes unite in copulation. If you burn this twice or thrice with hot irons, then, if the bird be full-grown, his crest grows sallow, he ceases to crow, and foregoes sexual passion; but if you cauterize the bird when young, none of these male attributes propensities will come to him as he grows up. The case is the same with men: if you mutilate them in boyhood, the later-growing hair never comes, and the voice never changes but remains high-pitched; if they be mutilated in early manhood, the late growths of hair quit them except the growth on the groin, and that diminishes but does not entirely depart. The congenital growths of hair never fall out, for a eunuch never grows bald. In the case of all castrated or mutilated male quadrupeds the voice changes to the feminine voice. All other quadrupeds when castrated, unless the operation be performed when they are young, invariably die; but in the case of boars, and in their case only, the age at which the operation is performed produces no difference. All animals, if operated on when they are young, become bigger and better looking than their unmutilated fellows; if they be mutilated when full-grown, they do not take on any increase of size. If stags be mutilated, when, by reason of their age, they have as yet no horns, they never grow horns at all; if they be mutilated when they have horns, the horns remain unchanged in size, and the animal does not lose them. Calves are mutilated when a year old; otherwise, they turn out uglier and smaller. Steers are mutilated in the following way: they turn the animal over on its back, cut a little off the scrotum at the lower end, and squeeze out the testicles, then push back the roots of them as far as they can, and stop up the incision with hair to give an outlet to suppurating matter; if inflammation ensues, they cauterize the scrotum and put on a plaster. If a full-grown bull be mutilated, he can still to all appearance unite sexually with the cow. The ovaries of sows are excised with the view of quenching in them sexual appetites and of stimulating growth in size and fatness. The sow has first to be kept two days without food, and, after being hung up by the hind legs, it is operated on; they cut the lower belly, about the place where the boars have their testicles, for it is there that the ovary grows, adhering to the two divisions (or horns) of the womb; they cut off a little piece and stitch up the incision. Female camels are mutilated when they are wanted for war purposes, and are mutilated to prevent their being got with young. Some of the inhabitants of Upper Asia have as many as three thousand camels: when they run, they run, in consequence of the length of their stride, much quicker than the horses of Nisaea. As a general rule, mutilated animals grow to a greater length than the unmutilated.

All animals that ruminate derive profit and pleasure from the process of rumination, as they do from the process of eating. It is the animals that lack the upper teeth that ruminate, such as kine, sheep, and goats. In the case of wild animals no observation has been possible; save in the case of animals that are occasionally domesticated, such as the stag, and it, we know, chews the cud. All animals that ruminate generally do so when lying down on the ground. They carry on the process to the greatest extent in winter, and stall-fed ruminants carry it on for about seven months in the year; beasts that go in herds, as they get their food out of doors, ruminate to a lesser degree and over a lesser period. Some, also, of the animals that have teeth in both jaws ruminate; as, for instance, the Pontic mice, and the fish which from the habit is by some called ‘the Ruminant’, (as well as other fish).

Long-limbed animals have loose faeces, and broad-chested animals vomit with comparative facility, and these remarks are, in a general way, applicable to quadrupeds, birds, and men.


A considerable number of birds change according to season the colour of their plumage and their note; as, for instance, the owsel becomes yellow instead of black, and its note gets altered, for in summer it has a musical note and in winter a discordant chatter. The thrush also changes its colour; about the throat it is marked in winter with speckles like a starling, in summer distinctly spotted: however, it never alters its note. The nightingale, when the hills are taking on verdure, sings continually for fifteen days and fifteen nights; afterwards it sings, but not continuously. As summer advances it has a different song, not so varied as before, nor so deep, nor so intricately modulated, but simple; it also changes its colour, and in Italy about this season it goes by a different name. It goes into hiding, and is consequently visible only for a brief period. The erithacus (or redbreast) and the so-called redstart change into one another; the former is a winter bird, the latter a summer one, and the difference between them is practically limited to the coloration of their plumage. In the same way with the beccafico and the blackcap; these change into one another. The beccafico appears about autumn, and the blackcap as soon as autumn has ended. These birds, also, differ from one another only in colour and note; that these birds, two in name, are one in reality is proved by the fact that at the period when the change is in progress each one has been seen with the change as yet incomplete. It is not so very strange that in these cases there is a change in note and in plumage, for even the ring-dove ceases to coo in winter, and recommences cooing when spring comes in; in winter, however, when fine weather has succeeded to very stormy weather, this bird has been known to give its cooing note, to the astonishment of such as were acquainted with its usual winter silence. As a general rule, birds sing most loudly and most diversely in the pairing season. The cuckoo changes its colour, and its note is not clearly heard for a short time previous to its departure. It departs about the rising of the Dog-star, and it reappears from springtime to the rising of the Dog-star. At the rise of this star the bird called by some oenanthe disappears, and reappears when it is setting: thus keeping clear at one time of extreme cold, and at another time of extreme heat. The hoopoe also changes its colour and appearance, as Aeschylus has represented in the following lines:—

The Hoopoe, witness to his own distress,
Is clad by Zeus in variable dress:-
Now a gay mountain-bird, with knightly crest,
Now in the white hawk’s silver plumage drest,
For, timely changing, on the hawk’s white wing
He greets the apparition of the Spring.
Thus twofold form and colour are conferred,
In youth and age, upon the selfsame bird.
The spangled raiment marks his youthful days,
The argent his maturity displays;
And when the fields are yellow with ripe corn
Again his particoloured plumes are worn.
But evermore, in sullen discontent,
He seeks the lonely hills, in self-sought banishment.

Of birds, some take a dust-bath by rolling in dust, some take a water-bath, and some take neither the one bath nor the other. Birds that do not fly but keep on the ground take the dust-bath, as for instance the hen, the partridge, the francolin, the crested lark, the pheasant; some of the straight-taloned birds, and such as live on the banks of a river, in marshes, or by the sea, take a water-bath; some birds take both the dust-bath and the waterbath, as for instance the pigeon and the sparrow; of the crooked-taloned birds the greater part take neither the one bath nor the other. So much for the ways of the above-mentioned, but some birds have a peculiar habit of making a noise at their hinder quarters, as, for instance, the turtle-dove; and they make a violent movement of their tails at the same time that they produce this peculiar sound.

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