Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 8 ,   sections 1-111


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.    

  ← Book 7

{1.} L   [1] Let us pass to the rest of the animals, and first those that live on land.

The largest land animal is the elephant, and it is the nearest to man in intelligence: it understands the language of its country and obeys orders, remembers duties that it has been taught, is pleased by affection and by marks of honour, nay more it possesses virtues rare even in man, honesty, wisdom, justice, also respect for the stars and reverence for the sun and moon. [2] Authorities state that in the forests of Mauretania, when the new moon is shining, herds of elephants go down to a river named Amilo and there perform a ritual of purification, sprinkling themselves with water, and after thus paying their respects to the moon return to the woods carrying before them those of their calves who are tired. [3] They are also believed to understand the obligations of another's religion in so far as to refuse to embark on board ships when going overseas before they are lured on by the mahout's sworn promise in regard to their return. And they have been seen when exhausted by suffering (as even those vast frames are attacked by diseases) to lie on their backs and throw grass up to the heaven, as though deputing the earth to support their prayers. Indeed so far as concerns docility, they do homage to their king by kneeling before him and proffering garlands. The Indians employ the smaller breed, which they call the bastard elephant, for ploughing.

{2.} L   [4] At Rome they were first used in harness to draw the chariot of Pompey the Great in his African triumph {81 BC}, as they are recorded to have been used before when Father Liber went in triumph after his conquest of India. Procilius states that at Pompey's triumph the team of elephants were unable to pass out through the gate. At the gladiatorial show given by Germanicus Caesar some even performed clumsy movements in figures, like dancers. [5] It was a common display for them to hurl weapons through the air without the wind making them swerve, and to perform gladiatorial matches with one another or to play together in a sportive war-dance. Subsequently they even walked on tightropes, four at a time actually carrying in a litter one that pretended to be a lady lying-in; and walked among the couches in dining-rooms full of people to take their places among the guests, planting their steps carefully so as not to touch any of the drinking party.

{3.} L   [6] It is known that one elephant which was rather slow-witted in understanding instructions given to it and had been punished with repeated beatings, was found in the night practising the same. It is surprising that they can even climb up ropes, but especially that they can come down them again, at all events when they are stretched at a slope. Mucianus who was three times consul states that one elephant actually learnt the shapes of the Greek letters, and used to write out in words of that language: 'I myself wrote this and dedicated these spoils won from the Celts;' and also that he personally had seen elephants that, when having been brought by sea to Puteoli they were made to walk off the ship, were frightened by the length of the gangway stretching a long way out from the land and turned round and went backwards, so as to cheat themselves in their estimation of the distance.

{4.} L   [7] They themselves know that the only thing in them that makes desirable plunder is in their weapons which Juba calls 'horns,' but which the author so greatly his senior, Herodotus, and also common usage better term 'tusks;' consequently when these fall off owing to some accident or to age they bury them in the ground. The tusk alone is of ivory: otherwise even in these animals too the skeleton forming the framework of the body is common bone; albeit recently owing to our poverty even the bones have begun to be cut into layers, inasmuch as an ample supply of tasks is now rarely obtained except from India, all the rest in our world having succumbed to luxury. A young elephant is known by the whiteness of its tusks. [8] The beasts take the greatest care of them; they spare the point of one so that it may not be blunt for fighting and use the other as an implement for digging roots and thrusting massive objects forward; and when surrounded by a party of hunters they post those with the smallest tusks in front, so that it may be thought not worthwhile to fight them, and afterwards when exhausted they break their tusks by dashing them against a tree and ransom themselves at the price of the desired booty.

{5.} L   [9] It is remarkable in the case of most animals that they know why they are hunted, but also that almost all know what they must beware of. It is said that when an elephant accidentally meets a human being who is merely wandering across its track in a solitary place it is good-tempered and peaceful and will actually show the way; but that when on the other hand it notices a man's footprint before it sees the man himself it begins to tremble in fear of an ambush, stops to sniff the scent, gazes round, trumpets angrily, and avoids treading on the footprint but digs it up and passes it to the next elephant, and that one to the following, and on to the last of all with a similar message, and then the column wheels round and retires and a battle line is formed: since the smell in question lasts to be scented by them all, though in the majority of cases it is not even the smell of bare feet. [10] Similarly a tigress also, It is said, even though savage to all other animals and herself scorning the footprints even of an elephant, when she sees the track of a human being at once carries her cubs elsewhere. Though how has she recognized or where has she seen before the person that she fears? For it is certain that such forests are very little frequented. Granted that no doubt they may be surprised by the mere rarity of the print; but how do they know that it is something to be afraid of? Indeed there is a further point, why should they dread even the sight of a man himself when they excel him so greatly in strength, size and speed? Doubtless it is Nature's law and shows her power, that the fiercest and largest wild beasts may have never seen a thing that they ought to fear and yet understand immediately when they have to fear it.

[11] Elephants always travel in a herd; the oldest leads the column and the next oldest brings up the rear. When going to ford a river they put the smallest in front, so that the bottom may not be worn away by the tread of the larger ones, thus increasing the depth of the water. Antipater states that two elephants employed for military purposes by King Antiochus were known to the public even by name; indeed they know their own names. It is a fact that Cato, although he has removed the names of military commanders from his Annals, has recorded that the elephant in the Carthaginian army that was the bravest in battle was called the Syrian, and that it had one broken tusk. [12] When Antiochus was trying to ford a river his elephant Ajax refused, though on other occasions it always led the line; thereupon Antiochus issued an announcement that the elephant that crossed should have the leading place and he rewarded Patroclus, who made the venture, with the gift of silver harness, an elephant's greatest delight, and with every other mark of leadership. The one disgraced preferred death by starvation to humiliation; for the elephant has a remarkable sense of shame, and when defeated shrinks from the voice of its conqueror, and offers him earth and foliage. [13] Owing to their modesty, elephants never mate except in secret, the male at the age of five and the female at ten; and mating takes place for two years, on five days, so it is said, of each year and not more; and on the sixth day they give themselves a shower-bath in a river, not returning to the herd before. Adultery is unknown among them, or any of the fighting for females that is so disastrous to the other animals - though not because they are devoid of strong affection, for it is reported that one elephant in Egypt fell in love with a girl who was selling flowers, and (that nobody may think that it was a vulgar choice) who was a remarkable favourite of the very celebrated scholar Aristophanes; and [14] another elephant is said to have fallen in love with a young soldier in Ptolemy's army, a Syracusan named Menander, and whenever it did not see him to have shown its longing for him by refusing food. Also Juba records a girl selling scent who was loved by an elephant. In all these cases the animals showed their affection by their delight at the sight of the object and their clumsy gestures of endearment, and by keeping the branches given to them by the public and showering them in the loved one's lap. Nor is it surprising that animals possessing memory are also capable of affection. [15] For the same writer records a case of an elephant's recognizing many years later in old age a man who had been its mahout in its youth, and also an instance of a sort of insight in to justice, when King Bocchus tied to stakes thirty elephants which he intended to punish and exposed them to a herd of the same number, men running out among them to provoke them to the attack, and it proved impossible to make them perform the service of ministering to another's cruelty.

{6.} L   [16] Italy saw elephants for the first time in the war with King Pyrrhus, and called them Lucanian oxen because they were seen in Lucania {280 BC}; but Rome first saw them at a date five years later, in a triumph, and also a very large number that were captured from the Carthaginians in Sicily by the victory of the pontiff Lucius Metellus {252 BC}. There were 142 of them, or by some accounts 140, and they had been brought over on rafts that Metellus constructed by laying decks on rows of casks lashed together. [17] Verrius records that they fought in the Circus and were killed with javelins, because it was not known what use to make of them, as it had been decided not to keep them nor to present them to native kings; Lucius Piso says that they were merely led into the Circus, and in order to increase the contempt felt for them were driven all round it by attendants carrying spears with a button on the point. The authorities who do not think that they were killed do not explain what was done with them afterwards.

{7.} L    [18] There is a famous story of one of the Romans fighting single-handed against an elephant, on the occasion when Hannibal had compelled his prisoners from our army to fight duels with one another. For he pitted one survivor against an elephant, and this man, having secured a promise of his freedom if he killed the animal, met it single-handed in the arena and much to the chagrin of the Carthaginians dispatched it. Hannibal realized that reports of this encounter would bring the animals into contempt, so he sent horsemen to kill the man as he was departing. Experiences in our battles with Pyrrhus made it clear that it is very easy to lop off an elephant's trunk. [19]  Fenestella states that the first elephant fought in the circus at Rome in the curule aedileship of Claudius Pulcher and the consulship of Marcus Antonius and Aulus Postumius {99 BC}, and also that the first fight of an elephant against bulls was twenty years later in the curule aedileship of the Luculli. [20] Also in Pompey's second consulship, at the dedication of the Temple of Venus Victrix, twenty, or, as some record, seventeen, fought in the Circus, their opponents being Gaetulians armed with javelins, one of the animals putting up a marvellous fight - its feet being disabled by wounds it crawled against the hordes of the enemy on its knees, snatching their shields from them and throwing them into the air, and these as they fell delighted the spectators by the curves they described, as if they were being thrown by a skilled  juggler and not by an infuriated wild animal. There was also a marvellous occurrence in the case of another, which was killed by a single blow, as the javelin striking it under the eye had reached the vital parts of the head. [21] The whole band attempted to burst through the iron palisading by which they were enclosed and caused considerable trouble among the public. Owing to this, when subsequently Caesar in his dictatorship was going to exhibit a similar show he surrounded the arena with channels of water; these the emperor Nero removed when adding special places for the Knighthood. But Pompey's elephants when they had lost all hope of escape tried to gain the compassion of the crowd by indescribable gestures of entreaty, deploring their fate with a sort of wailing, so much to the distress of the public that they forgot the general and his munificence carefully devised for their honour, and bursting into tears rose in a body and invoked curses on the head of Pompey for which he soon afterwards paid the penalty. [22] Elephants also fought for the dictator Caesar in his third consulship, twenty being matched against 500 foot soldiers, and on a second occasion an equal number carrying castles each with a garrison of 60 men, who fought a pitched battle against the same number of infantry as on the former occasion and an equal number of cavalry; and subsequently for the emperors Claudius and Nero elephants versus men single-handed, as the crowning exploit of the gladiators' careers.

[23] A story is told that the animal's natural gentleness towards those not so strong as itself is so great that if it gets among a flock of sheep it will remove with its trunk those that come in its way, so as not unwittingly to crush one. Also they never do any harm unless provoked, and that although they go about in herds, being of all animals the least solitary in habit. When surrounded by horsemen they withdraw. The weak ones or those that are exhausted or wounded into the middle of their column, and advance into the fighting line in relays as if by command or strategy.

[24] When captured they are very quickly tamed by means of barley juice.

{8.} L   The method of capturing them in India is for a mahout riding one of the domesticated elephants to find a wild elephant alone or detach it from the herd and to flog it, and when it is tired out he climbs across on to it and manages it as he did his previous mount. Africa captures elephants by means of pitfalls; when an elephant straying from the herd falls into one of these all the rest at once collect branches of trees and roll down rocks and construct ramps, exerting every effort in the attempt to get it out. [25] Previously for the purpose of taming them the kings used to round them up with horsemen into a trench made by hand so as to deceive them by its length, and when they were enclosed within its banks and ditches they were starved into submission; the proof of this would be if when a man held out a branch to them they gently took it from him. [26] At the present day hunters for the sake of their tusks shoot them with javelins in the foot, which in fact is extremely soft. The Trogodytae on the frontier of Ethiopia, whose only food is elephant meat obtained by hunting, climb up trees near the elephants' track and there keep a look out for the last of the whole column and jump down on to the hind part of its haunches; the tail is grasped in the man's left hand and his feet are planted on the animal's left thigh, and so hanging suspended, with his right hand and with a very sharp axe he hamstrings one leg, and as the elephant runs forward with its leg crippled he strikes the sinews of the other leg, performing the whole of these actions with extreme rapidity. Others employing a safer but less reliable method fix great bows rather deep in the ground, unbent; these are held in position by young men of exceptional strength, while others striving with a united effort bend them, and as the elephants pass by they shoot them with hunting-spears instead of arrows and afterwards follow the tracks of blood.

{9.} L   [27] The females of the genus elephant are much more timid than the males. Mad elephants can be tamed by hunger and blows, other elephants being brought up to one that is unmanageable to restrain it with chains. Besides this they get very wild when in heat and overthrow the stables of the Indians with their tusks. Consequently they prevent them from coupling, and keep the herds of females separate, in just the same way as droves of cattle are kept. Male elephants when broken in serve in battle and carry castles manned with armed warriors on their backs; they are the most important factor in eastern warfare, scattering the ranks before them and trampling armed soldiers underfoot. Nevertheless they are scared by the smallest squeal of a pig; and when wounded and frightened they always give ground, doing as much damage to their own side as to the enemy. African elephants are afraid of an Indian elephant, and do not dare to look at it, as Indian elephants are indeed of a larger size.

{10.} L   [28] Their period of gestation is commonly supposed to be ten years, but Aristotle puts it at two years, and says that they never bear more than one at a time, and that they live 200 and in some cases 300 years. Their adult life begins at 60. They take the greatest pleasure in rivers and roam in the neighbourhood of streams, although at the same time they are unable to swim because of the size of their bodies, and also as they are incapable of enduring cold: this is their greatest infirmity; they are also liable to flatulence and diarrhoea, but not to other kinds of disease. I find it stated that missiles sticking in their body fall out when they drink oil, but that perspiration makes it easier for them to keep their hold. [29] It also causes them disease to eat earth unless they chew it repeatedly; but they devour even stones, consider trunks of trees a great delicacy, and bend down the loftier palm trees by butting against them with their foreheads and when thus prostrate consume their fruit. They eat with the mouth, but they breathe and drink and smell with the organ not unsuitably called their hand. They hate the mouse worst of living creatures, and if they see one merely touch the fodder placed in their stall they refuse it with disgust. They are liable to extreme torture if in drinking they swallow a leech (the common name for which I notice has now begun to be 'blood-sucker'); when this attaches itself in the actual breathing passage it causes intolerable pain.

[30] The hide of the back is extremely hard, but that of the belly is soft; it has no covering of bristles, not even on the tail as a guard for driving away the annoyance of flies - for even that huge bulk is sensitive to this - but the skin is creased, and is inviting to this kind of creature owing to its smell; consequently they stretch the creases open and let the swarms get in, and then crush them to death by suddenly contracting the creases into wrinkles. This serves them instead of tail, mane and fleece.

[31] The tusks fetch a vast price, and supply a very elegant material for images of the gods. Luxury has also discovered another thing that recommends the elephant, the flavour in the hard skin of the trunk, sought after, I believe, for no other reason than because the epicure feels that he is munching actual ivory. Exceptionally large specimens of tusks can indeed be seen in the temples, but nevertheless Polybius has recorded on the authority of the chieftain Gulusa, that in the outlying parts of the province of Africa where it borders on Ethiopia elephants' tusks serve instead of doorposts in the houses, and partitions in these buildings and in stabling for cattle are made by using elephants' tusks for poles.

{11.} L   [32] Elephants are produced by Africa beyond the deserts of Syrtis and by the country of the Moors; also by the land of Ethiopia and the Trogodytae, as has been said; but the biggest ones by India, as well as serpents that keep up a continual feud and warfare with them, the serpents also being of so large a size that they easily encircle the elephants in their coils and fetter them with a twisted knot. In this duel both combatants die together, and the vanquished elephant in falling crushes with its weight the snake coiled round it.

{12.} L   [33] Every species of animal is marvellously cunning for its own interests, as are those which we are considering. One difficulty that the serpent has is in climbing to such a height; consequently it keeps watch on the track worn by the elephant going to pasture and drops on him from a lofty tree. The elephant knows that he is badly handicapped in fighting against the snake's coils, and therefore seeks to rub it against trees or rocks. The snakes are on their guard against this, and consequently begin by shackling the elephants' steps with their tail. The elephants untie the knots with their trunk. But the snakes poke their heads right into the elephants' nostrils, hindering their breathing and at the same time lacerating their tenderest parts; also when caught in the path of the elephants they rear up against them, going specially for their eyes: this is how it comes about that elephants are frequently found blind and exhausted with hunger and wasting misery.

[34] What other cause could anybody adduce for such quarrel save Nature arranging a match between a pair of combatants to provide herself with a show? There is also another account of this contest - that elephants are very cold-blooded, and consequently in very hot weather are specially sought after by the snakes; and that for this reason they submerge themselves in rivers and lie in wait for the elephants when drinking, and rising up coil round the trunk and imprint a bite inside the ear, because that place only cannot be protected by the trunk; and that the snakes are so large that they can hold the whole of an elephant's blood, and so they drink the elephants dry, and these when drained collapse in a heap and the serpents being intoxicated are crushed by them and die with them.

{13.} L   [35] Ethiopia produces elephants that rival those of India, being 30 ft. high; the only surprising thing is what led Juba to believe them to be crested. The Ethiopian tribe in whose country they are chiefly bred are called the Asachaeans; it is stated that in the coast districts belonging to this tribe the elephants link themselves four or five together into a sort of raft and holding up their heads to serve as sails are carried on the waves to the better pastures of Arabia.

{14.} L   [36] Megasthenes writes that in India snakes grow so large as to be able to swallow stags and bulls whole; and Metrodorus that in the neighbourhood of the river Rhyndacus in Pontus they catch and gulp down birds passing over them even though they are flying high and fast. [37] There is the well-known case of the snake 120 ft. long that was killed during the Punic Wars on the River Bagradasa by General Regulus, using ordnance and catapults just as if storming a town; its skin and jawbones remained in a temple at Rome down to the Numantine War. Credibility attaches to these stories on account of the serpents in Italy called boas, which reach such dimensions that during the principate of the deified Claudius of a whole child was found in the belly of one that was killed on the Vatican Hill. Their primary food is milk sucked from a cow; from this they derive their name.

{15.} L   [38] It is not our concern to give a meticulous account of all the other species of animals that recently have reached Italy more frequently by importation from all quarters. Scythia, owing to its lack of vegetation, produces extremely few; its neighbour Germany few, but some remarkable breeds of wild oxen, the maned bison and the exceptionally powerful and swift aurochs to which the ignorant masses give the name of buffalo, though the buffalo is really a native of Africa and rather bears some resemblance to the calf and the stag.

{16.} L   [39] The North also produces herds of wild horses, as do Asia and Africa of wild asses, and also the elk, which resembles a bullock save that it is distinguished by the length of its ears and neck; also the achlis, born in the island of Scadinavia and never seen in Rome, although many have told stories of it - an animal that is not unlike the elk but has no joint at the hock and consequently is unable to lie down but sleeps leaning against a tree, and is captured by the tree being cut through to serve as a trap, but which nevertheless has a remarkable turn of speed. Its upper lip is exceptionally big; on account of this it walks backward when grazing, so as to avoid getting tripped up by it in moving forward. [40] There are reports of a wild animal in Paeonia called the bonasus, which has the mane of a horse but in all other respects resembles a bull; its horns are curved back in such a manner as to be of no use for fighting, and it is said that because of this it saves itself by running away, meanwhile emitting a trail of dung that sometimes covers a distance of as much as three iugera, contact with which scorches pursuers like a sort of fire.

{17.} L   [41] It is remarkable that leopards, panthers, lions and similar animals walk with the point of their claws sheathed inside the body so that they may not get broken or blunted, and run with their talons turned back and do not extend them except when attempting to catch something.

[42] The lion is specially high-spirited at the time when its neck and shoulders are clothed with a mane - for this occurs at maturity in the case of those sired by a lion, though those begotten by leopards always lack this characteristic; and the females likewise. Sexual passion is strong in this species, with its consequence of quarrelsomeness in the males; this is most observed in Africa, where the shortage of water makes the animals flock to the few rivers. There are consequently many varieties of hybrids in that country, either violence or lust mating the males with the females of each species indiscriminately. This is indeed the origin of the common saying of Greece that Africa is always producing some novelty. [43] A lion detects intercourse with a leopard in the case of an adulterous mate by scent, and concentrates his entire strength on her chastisement; consequently this guilty stain is washed away in a stream, or else she keeps her distance when accompanying him. But I notice that there used to be a popular belief that the lioness only bears a cub once, as her womb is wounded by the points of its claws in delivery. Aristotle, however, whose authority I feel bound to cite first as I am going in great part to follow him on these subjects, gives a different account. [44] King Alexander the Great being fired with a desire to know the natures of animals and having delegated the pursuit of this study to Aristotle as a man of supreme eminence in every branch of science, orders were given to some thousands of persons throughout the whole of Asia and Greece, all those who made their living by hunting, fowling, and fishing and those who were in charge of warrens, herds, apiaries, fishponds and aviaries, to obey his instructions, so that he might not fail to be informed about any creature born anywhere. His enquiries addressed to those persons resulted in the composition of his famous works on zoology, in nearly 50 volumes. To my compendium of these, with the addition of facts unknown to him, I request my readers to give a favourable reception, while making a brief excursion under our direction among the whole of the works of Nature, the central interest of the most glorious of all sovereigns. [45] Aristotle then states that a lioness at the first birth produces five cubs, and each year one fewer, and after bearing a single cub becomes barren; and that the cubs are mere lumps of flesh and very small, at the beginning of the size of weasels, and at six months are scarcely able to walk, not moving at all until they are two months old; also that lions are found in Europe only between the rivers Achelous and Mestus, but that these far exceed in strength those produced by Africa and Syria.

{18.} L   [46] He states that there are two kinds of lions, one thickset and short, with comparatively curly manes - these being more timid than the long, straight-haired kind; the latter despise wounds. The males lift one leg in making water, like dogs. Their smell is disagreeable, and not less their breath. They are infrequent drinkers, and they feed every other day, after a full meal occasionally abstaining from food for three days; when chewing they swallow whole what they can, and when their belly will not contain the result of their gluttony, they insert their clenched claws into their throats and drag it out, so that if they have to run away they may not go in a state of repletion. [47] From the fact that many specimens are found lacking teeth he infers that they are long-lived. Aemilianus's companion Polybius states that in old age their favourite prey is a human being, because their strength is not adequate to hunting wild animals; and that at this period of their lives they beset the cities of Africa, and consequently when he was with Scipio he saw lions crucified, because the others might be deterred from the same mischief by fear of the same penalty.

{19.} L   [48] The lion alone of wild animals shows mercy to suppliants; it spares persons prostrated in front of it, and when raging it turns its fury on men rather than women, and only attacks children when extremely hungry. Juba believes that the meaning of entreaties gets through to them: at all events he was informed that the onset of a herd of lions in the forests upon a woman of Gaetulia who was captured and got away again had been checked by a speech in which she dared to say that she was a female, a fugitive, a weakling a suppliant to the most generous of all the animals, the lord of all the rest, a booty unworthy of his glory. Opinion will vary in accordance with each person's as experience has not decided whether it be true or false that even serpents can be enticed out by song and forced to submit to chastisement. [49] Lions indicate their state of mind by means of their tail, as horses do by their ears: for Nature has assigned even these means of expression to all the noblest animals. Consequently the lion's tail is motionless when he is calm, and moves gently when he wishes to cajole - which is seldom, since anger is more usual; at the onset of which the earth is lashed, and as the anger grows, his back is lashed as if for a mode of incitement. A lion's greatest strength is in the chest. Black blood flows from every wound, whether made by claw or tooth. Yet when lions are glutted they are harmless. [50] The lion's nobility of spirit is detected most in dangers, not merely in the way that despising weapons he protects himself for a long time only by intimidation, and protests as it were that he is acting under compulsion, and rises to the encounter not as if forced by danger but as though enraged by madness; but a nobler indication of this spirit is this, that however large a force of hounds and hunters besets him, in level plains and where he can be seen he retires contemptuously and constantly halting, but when he has made his way into brushwood and forest he proceeds at top speed, as if aware that the lie of the land conceals his disgrace. When pursuing he advances by leaps and bounds, but he does not use this gait when in flight. [51] When he has been wounded he marks down his assailant in a marvellous way, and knows him and picks him out in however large a crowd. Yet a person who discharges a weapon at him but fails to wound him he seizes and whirling him round flings him on the ground, but does not wound him. It is said that when a mother lion is fighting in defence of her cubs she fixes the gaze of her eyes upon the ground so as not to flinch from the hunting spears. [52] Otherwise lions are devoid of craft and suspicion, and they do not look at you with eyes askance and dislike being looked at in a similar way. The belief has been held that a dying lion bites the earth and bestows a tear upon death. Yet though of such a nature and of such ferocity this animal is frightened by wheels turning round and by empty chariots, and even more by the crested combs and the crowing of cocks, but most of all by fires. The only malady to which it is liable is that of distaste for food; in this condition it can be cured by insulting treatment, the pranks of monkeys tied to it driving it to fury; and then tasting their blood acts as a remedy.

{20.} L   [53] A fight with several lions at once was first the bestowed on Rome by Quintus Scaevola, son of Publius, when curule aedile, but the first of all who exhibited a combat of 100 maned lions was Lucius Sulla, later dictator, in his praetorship. After Sulla Pompey the Great showed in the Circus 600, including 315 with manes, and Caesar when dictator 400.

{21.} L   [54] Capturing lions was once a difficult task, chiefly effected by means of pitfalls. In the principate of Claudius accident taught a Gaetulian shepherd a method that was almost one to be ashamed of in the case of a wild animal of this nature: when it charged he flung a cloak against its onset -a feat that was immediately transferred to the arena as a show - the creature's great ferocity abating in an almost incredible manner when its head is covered with even a light wrap, with the result that it is vanquished without showing fight. The fact is that all its strength is concentrated in its eyes, which makes it less remarkable that when Lysimachus by order of Alexander was shut up in a lion's cage he succeeded in strangling it. [55] Marcus Antonius broke lions to the yoke and was the first person at Rome to harness them to a chariot, and this in fact during the civil war, after the decisive battle in the plains of Pharsalia, not without some intention of exhibiting the position of affairs, the portentous feat signifying that generous spirits can bow to a yoke. For his riding in this fashion with the actress Cytheris at his side was a thing that outdid even the portentous occurrences of that disastrous period. It is recorded that Hanno, one of the most distinguished of the Carthaginians, was the first human being who dared to handle a lion and exhibit it as tamed, and that this supplied a reason for his impeachment, because it was felt that a man of such an artful character might persuade the public to anything, and that their liberty was ill entrusted to one to whom even ferocity had so completely submitted.

[56] But there are also instances of occasional mercifulness even in lions.  Mentor of Syracuse met a lion in Syria that rolled on the ground in suppliant wise and struck such terror into him that he was running away, when the lion stood in his way wherever he turned, and licked his footsteps as if fawning on him; he noticed a swelling and a wound in its foot, and by pulling out a thorn set the creature free from torment: a picture at Syracuse is evidence of this occurrence. [57] In a similar manner a native of Samos named Elpis on landing from a ship in Africa, saw near the coast a lion opening its jaws in a threatening way, and took refuge up a tree, calling on Father Liber for help, since the chief occasion for praying is an emergency where there is no room for hope. The beast had not stood in his way when he tried to run away although it might have done, and lying down by the tree began to beg for compassion with the gaping jaws by which it had scared the man. Owing to its biting its food too greedily a bone had stuck in its teeth, and was tormenting it with starvation and not merely with the punishment contained in the actual prickles, as it gazed up and looked as if making a silent prayer for aid - while chance events are not to be relied on in face of a wild animal, and much longer hesitation is caused by surprise than by alarm. [58] But finally he came down and pulled out the bone for the lion, which held out its foot to him and adjusted it at the most necessary angle; and they say that as long as that vessel remained on the coast the lion displayed its gratitude by bringing its catches to its benefactor. This led Elpis to consecrate in Samos a temple to Father Liber, to which from that occurrence the Greeks have given the name of Temple of Dionysus with his Mouth Open. After this do not let us be surprised that men's tracks are recognized by wild beasts when they actually hope for assistance from one of the animal race: for why did they not go to other animals, or how do they know of man's healing touch? Unless perchance violent maladies force even wild animals to every expedient.

[59] The natural philosopher Demetrius also records an equally remarkable story about a panther, which out of desire for human aid lay in the middle of a road, where the father of a certain student of philosophy named Philinus suddenly came in sight of it. The man, so the story goes, began to retreat, but the animal rolled over on its back, obviously trying to cajole him, and tormented by sorrow that was intelligible even in a panther: she had a litter of cubs that had fallen into a pit some distance away. [60] The first result of his compassion therefore was not to be frightened, and the next to give her his attention; and he followed where she drew him by lightly touching his clothes with her claws, and when he understood the cause of her grief and at the same time the recompense due for his own security, he got the cubs out of the pit; and the panther with her young escorted him right to the edge of the desert, guiding him with gestures of delight that made it quite clear that she was expressing gratitude and not reckoning on any recompense, which is rare even in a human being.

{22.} L   [61] These stories give credibility to Democritus also, who tells a tale of Thoas in Arcadia being saved by a snake. When a boy he had fed it and made a great pet of it, and his parent being afraid of the snake's nature and size had taken it away into an uninhabited region, where it recognized Thoas's voice and came to his rescue when he was entrapped by an ambush of brigands. For as to the reports about infants when they had been exposed being fed by the milk of wild animals, as well as those about our founders being nursed by a she-wolf, I deem it more reasonable for them to be credited to the grandeur of their destinies than to the nature of the wild animals.

{23.} L   [62] The panther and the tiger almost alone of beasts are distinguished by a variety of markings, whereas the rest have a single colour, each kind having its own - black in the case of lions in Syria only. Panthers have small spots like eyes on a light ground. It is said that all four-footed animals are wonderfully attracted by their smell, but frightened by the savage appearance of their head; for which they catch them by hiding their head and enticing them to approach by their other attractions. Some authorities report that they have a mark on the shoulder resembling a moon, expanding into a circle and hollowed out in a similar manner. [63] As it is, people use the name 'spotted ladies', and for the males 'pards', in the whole of this genus, which occurs most frequently in Africa and Syria; some persons distinguish panthers from these by their light colour only, nor have I hitherto discovered any other difference.

{24.} L   [64] There was an old Resolution of the Senate prohibiting the importation of African elephants into Italy. Gnaeus Aufidius when Tribune of the Plebs carried in the Assembly of the People a resolution repealing this and allowing them to be imported for shows in the Circus. But Scaurus in his aedileship first sent in procession 150 female leopards in one flock, then Pompey the Great 410, and the deified Augustus 420.

{25.} L   [65] Augustus also, in the consulship of Marcus Tubero and Paullus Fabius, at the dedication of the Theatre of Marcellus, on May 7 {11 BC}, was the first of all persons at Rome who exhibited a tamed tiger in a cage, although the deified Claudius exhibited four at one time.

[66] Hyrcania and India produce the tiger, au animal of terrific speed, which is most noticeable when the whole of its litter, which is always numerous, is being captured. The litter is taken by a man lying in wait with the swiftest horse obtainable, and is transferred successively to fresh horses. But when the mother tiger finds the lair empty (for the males do not look after their young) she rushes off at headlong speed, tracking them by scent. The captor when her roar approaches throws away one of the cubs. She snatches it up in her mouth, and returns and resumes the pursuit at even a faster pace owing to her burden, and so on in succession until the hunter has regained the ship and her ferocity rages vainly on the shore.

{26.} L   [67] The East pastures camels among its flocks of cattle; of these there are two kinds, the Bactrian and the Arabian, which differ in that the former have two humps on the back and the latter one, with a second hump beneath the chest on which they can rest their weight; but both kinds resemble oxen in having no teeth in the upper jaw. All however perform the services of beasts of burden, and also of cavalry in battles; their speed is below that of horses. But the two kinds differ in dimensions, as also in strength; and a camel will not travel beyond its customary march, nor carry more than the regulation load. They possess an innate hatred for horses. [68] They can endure thirst for as much as four days, and when they have an opportunity they replenish themselves both for the past interval and for the future, stirring up the water by trampling with their fore feet before they drink - otherwise they do not enjoy the draught. They live for fifty years, some even for a hundred; although even camels are liable to rabies. A method has been discovered of gelding even the females intended for war; this by denying them intercourse increases their strength.

{27.} L   [69] Some resemblance to these is passed on to two animals. The Ethiopians give the name of nabun to one that has a neck like a horse, feet and legs like an ox, and a head like a camel, and is of a ruddy colour picked out with white spots, owing to which it is called a camelopard; it was first seen at Rome at the games in the Circus given by Caesar when dictator. From this it has subsequently been recognized to be more remarkable for appearance than for ferocity, and consequently it has also got the name of wild sheep.

{28.} L   [70] The games of Pompey the Great first displayed the chama, which the Gauls used to call the lynx, with the shape of a wolf and leopard's spots; the same show exhibited what they call cephi from Ethiopia, which have hind feet resembling the feet of a man and legs and fore feet like hands. Rome has not seen this animal subsequently.

{29.} L   [71] At the same games there was also a rhinoceros with one horn on the nose such as has often been seen. Another bred here to fight matches with an elephant gets ready for battle by filing its horns on rocks, and in the encounter goes specially for the belly, which it knows to be softer. It equals an elephant in length, but its legs are much shorter, and it is the colour of box-wood.

{30.} L   [72] Ethiopia produces lynxes in great numbers, and sphinxes with brown hair and a pair of udders on the breast, and many other monstrositieswinged homes armed with horns, called pegasi, hyenas like a cross between a dog and a wolf, that break everything with their teeth, swallow it at a gulp and masticate it in the belly; tailed monkeys with black heads, ass's hair and a voice unlike that of any other species of ape; Indian oxen a with one and with three horns; the leucrocota, swiftest of wild beasts, about the size of an ass, with a stag's haunches, a lion's neck, tail and breast, badger's head, cloven hoot mouth opening right back to the ears, and ridges of bone in place of rows of teeth - this animal is reported to imitate the voices of human beings. [73] Among the same people is also found the animal called the Yale (mythical eale, the size of a hippopotamus, with an elephant's tail, of a black or tawny colour, with the jaws of a boar and movable horns more than a cubit in length which in a fight are erected alternately, and presented to the attack or sloped backward in turn as policy directs. [74] But its fiercest animals are forest bulls, larger than the bulls of the field, surpassing all in speed, of a tawny colour, with blue eyes, hair turned backward, mouth gaping open to the ears, along with mobile horns; the hide has the hardness of flint, rejecting every wound. They hunt all wild animals, but themselves can only be caught in pits, and when caught always die game. [75] Ctesias writes that in the same country is born the creature that he calls the mantichora, which has a triple row of teeth meeting like the teeth of a comb, the face and ears of a human being, grey eyes, a blood-red colour, a lion's body, inflicting stings with its tail in the manner of a scorpion, with a voice like the sound of a panpipe blended with a trumpet, of great speed, with a special appetite for human flesh.

{31.} L   [76] He says that in India there are also oxen with solid hoofs and one horn and a wild animal named axis, with the hide of a fawn but with more spots and whiter ones, belonging to the ritual of Father Liber (the Orsaean Indians hunt monkeys that are a bright white all over the body); but that the fiercest animal is the unicorn, which in the rest of the body resembles a horse, but in the head a stag, in the feet an elephant, and in the tail a boar, and has a deep bellow, and a single black horn three feet long projecting from the middle of the forehead. They say that it is impossible to capture this animal alive.

{32.} L   [77] In Western Ethiopia there is a spring, the Nigris, which most people have supposed to be the source of the Nile, as they try to prove by the arguments that we have stated. In its neighbourhood there is an animal called the catoblepas, in other respects of moderate size and inactive with the rest of its limbs, only with a very heavy head which it carries with difficulty - it is always hanging down to the ground; otherwise it is deadly to the human race, as all who see its eyes expire immediately.

{33.} L   [78] The basilisk serpent also has the same power. It is a native of the province of Cyrenaica, not more than 12 inches long, and adorned with a bright white marking on the head like a sort of diadem. It routs all snakes with its hiss, and does not move its body forward in manifold coils like the other snakes but advancing with its middle raised high. It kills bushes not only by its touch but also by its breath, scorches up grass and bursts rocks. Its effect on other animals is disastrous: it is believed that once one was killed with a spear by a man on horseback and the infection rising through the spear killed not only the rider but also the horse. [79] Yet to a creature so marvellous as this - indeed kings have often wished to see a specimen when safely dead - the venom of weasels is fatal: so fixed is the decree of nature that nothing shall be without its match. They throw the basilisks into weasels' holes, which are easily known by the foulness of the ground, and the weasels kill them by their stench and die themselves at the same time, and nature's battle is accomplished.

{34.} L   [80] But in Italy also it is believed that the sight of wolves is harmful, and that if they look at a man before he sees them, it temporarily deprives him of utterance. The wolves produced in Africa and Egypt are feeble and small, but those of colder regions are cruel and fierce. We are bound to pronounce with confidence that the story of men being turned into wolves and restored to themselves again is false - or else we must believe all the tales that the experience of so many centuries has taught us to be fabulous; nevertheless we will indicate the origin of the popular belief, which is so firmly rooted that it classes werewolves among persons under a curse. [81] Euanthes, who holds no contemptible position among the authors of Greece, writes that the Arcadians have a tradition that someone chosen out of the clan of a certain Anthus by casting lots among the family is taken to a certain marsh in that region, and hanging his clothes on an oak-tree swims across the water and goes away into a desolate place and is transformed into a wolf and herds with the others of the same kind for nine years; and that if in that period he has refrained from touching a human being, he returns to the same marsh, swims across it and recovers his shape, with nine years' age added to his former appearance; Euanthes also adds the more fabulous detail that he gets back the same clothes. [82] It is astounding to what lengths Greek credulity will go; there is no lie so shameless as to lack a supporter. Similarly Apollas the author of Olympic Victors relates that at the sacrifice which even at that date the Arcadians used to perform in honour of Lycaean Zeus with a human victim, Daemenetus of Parrhasia tasted the vitals of a boy who had been offered as a victim and turned himself into a wolf, and furthermore that he was restored ten years later and trained himself in athletics for boxing and returned a winner from Olympia. [83] Moreover it is popularly believed that even the tail of this animal contains a love-poison in a small tuft of hair, and when it is caught it sheds the tuft, which has not the same potency unless plucked from the animal while it is alive; that the days on which it breeds are not more than twelve in a whole year; also that for it to feed on earth when it is hungry counts as an augury: if it does this in large mouthfuls when barring the path of travellers who come upon it on their right hand side, this is the finest of all omens. [84] Some members of the genus are called stag-wolves; a specimen from Gaul was seen in the arena of Pompey the Great, as we have stated { 8.70 }. They say that if this animal while devouring its food looks behind it, however hungry it is, forgetfulness of what it is eating creeps over it and it goes off to look for something else.

{35.} L   [85] As concerning serpents, it is generally stated that most of them have the colour of the earth that they usually lurk in; that there are innumerable kinds of them; that horned snakes have little horns, often a cluster of four, projecting from the body, by moving which so as to hide the rest of the body they lure birds to them; that the amphisbaena has a twin head, that is one at the tail-end as well, as though it were not enough for poison to be poured out of one mouth; that some have scales, others coloured markings, and all a deadly venom; that the javelin-shake hurls itself from the branches of trees, and at serpents are not only formidable to the feet but fly like a missile from a catapult; that when asps' necks swell, up there is no remedy for their sting except the immediate amputation of the parts stung. [86] Although so pestilential, this animal has one emotion or rather affection: they usually roam in couples, male and female, and only live with their consort. Accordingly when either of the pair has been destroyed the other is incredibly anxious for revenge: it pursues the murderer and by means of some mark of recognition attacks him and him only in however large a throng of people, bursting through all obstacles and traversing all distances, and it is only debarred by rivers or by very rapid flight. [87] It is impossible to declare whether Nature has engendered evils or remedies more bountifully. In the first place she has bestowed on this accursed creature dim eyes, and those not in the forehead for it to look straight in front of it, but in the temples - and consequently it is more quickly excited by hearing than by sight; and in the next place she has given it war to the death with the ichneumon.

{36.} L   [88] That animal, which is also a native of Egypt, is specially known because of this exploit. The ichneumon repeatedly plunges into mud and dries itself in the sun, and then when it has equipped itself with a cuirass of several coatings by the same method, it proceeds to the encounter. In this it raises its tail and renders the blows it receives ineffectual by turning away from them, till after watching for its opportunity, with head held sideways it attacks its adversary's throat. And not content with this victim it vanquishes another animal no less ferocious, the crocodile.

{37.} L   [89] The crocodile belongs to the Nile; it is a curse on four legs, and equally pernicious on land and in the river. It is the only land animal not furnished with a tongue and the only one that bites by pressing down the mobile upper jaw, and it is also formidable because of its row of teeth set close together like a comb. In size it usually exceeds 18 cubits. It lays as many eggs as a goose, and by a kind of prophetic instinct incubates them always outside the line to which the Nile in that year is going to rise at full flood. Nor does any other animal grow to greater dimensions from a smaller original size; however, it is armed with talons as well, and its hide is invincible against all blows. It passes its days on land and its nights in the water, in both eases for reasons of warmth. [90] This creature when sated with a meal of fish and sunk in sleep on the shore with its mouth always full of food, is tempted by a small bird (called there the trochilus, but in Italy the king-bird) to open its mouth wide to enable the bird to feed; and first it hops in and cleans out the mouth, and then the teeth and inner throat also, which yawns open as wide as possible for the pleasure of this scratching; and the ichneumon watches for it to be overcome by sleep in the middle of this gratification and darts like a javelin through the throat so opened and gnaws out the belly.

{38.} L   [91] A native of the Nile resembling the crocodile but smaller even than the ichneumon is the skink, which is an outstanding antidote against poisons, and also an aphrodisiac for males.

But the crocodile constituted too great a plague for Nature to be content with a single enemy for it. Accordingly dolphins also, which have on their backs a sharp fin shaped like a knife as if for this purpose, enter the mouth of the Nile, and when the crocodiles drive them away from their prey and lord it in the river as merely their own domain, kill them by craft, as they are otherwise in themselves no match for them in strength. For all animals are skilful in this, and know not only the things advantageous for themselves but also those detrimental for their enemies, and are acquainted with their own weapons and recognize their opportunities and the unwarlike parts of their adversaries. The crocodile's hide is soft and thin over the belly; consequently the dolphins pretending to be frightened dive and going under them rip the belly with the spine described. [92] Moreover there is also a tribe of human beings right on the Nile, named after the Island of Tentyris on which it dwells, that is hostile to this monster. They are of small stature but have a readiness of mind in this employment only that is remarkable. The creature in question is terrible against those who run away but runs away from those who pursue it. [93] But these men alone dare to go against them; they actually dive into the river and mounting on their back as if riding a horse, when they yawn with the head thrown backward to bite, insert a staff into the month, and holding the staff at both ends with their right and left hands, drive their prisoners to the land as if with bridles, and by terrifying them even merely with their shouts compel them to disgorge the recently swallowed bodies for burial. Consequently this island only is not visited by crocodiles, and the scent of this race of men drives them away, as that of the Psylli does snakes. [94] This animal is said to have dim sight in the water, but to be very keen-sighted when out of it; and to pass four months of the winter in a cave continuously without food. Some persons think that this alone of animals goes on growing in size as long as it lives; but it lives a long time.

{39.} L   [95] A monster of still greater height is also produced in the Nile, the hippopotamus, which has cloven hoofs like those of oxen, a horse's back, mane and neigh, a snub snout, a boar's tail and curved-tusks, though these are less formidable, and with a hide that supplies an impenetrable material for shields and helmets, except if they are soaked in moisture. It feeds on the crops, marking out a definite portion beforehand for each day, so it is said, and making its footprints lead out of the field, so that no traps may be laid for it when it returns.

{40.} L   [96] A hippopotamus was exhibited at Rome for the first time, together with five crocodiles, by Marcus Scaurus at the games which he gave when aedile; a temporary channel was made to hold them. The hippopotamus stands out as an actual master in one department of medicine; for when its unceasing voracity has caused it to overeat itself it comes ashore to reconnoitre places where rushes have recently been cut, and where it sees an extremely sharp stalk it squeezes its body down on to it and makes a wound in a certain vein in its leg, and by thus letting blood unburdens its body, which would otherwise be liable to disease, and plasters up the wound again with mud.

{41.} L   [97] A somewhat similar display has also been made in the same country of Egypt by the bird called the ibis, which makes use of the curve of its beak to purge itself through the part by which it is most conducive to health for the heavy residue of foodstuffs to be excreted. Nor is the ibis alone, but many animals have made discoveries destined to be useful for man as well. The value of the herb dittany for extracting arrows was shown by stags when wounded by that weapon and ejecting it by grazing on that herb; likewise stags when bitten by the phalangium, a kind of spider, or any similar animal cure themselves by eating crabs. There is also a herb that is particularly good for snakebites, with which lizards heal themselves whenever they fight a battle with snakes and are wounded. [98] Celandine was shown to be very healthy for the sight by swallows using it as a medicine for their chicks' sore eyes. The tortoise eats cunila, called ox-grass, to restore its strength against the effect of snake-bites; the weasel cures itself with rue when it has had a fight with mice in hunting them. The stork drugs itself with marjoram in sickness, and goats use ivy and a diet consisting mostly of crabs thrown up from the sea. [99] When a snake's body gets covered with a skin owing to its winter inactivity it sloughs this hindrance to its movement by means of fennel-sap and comes out all glossy for spring; but it begins the process at its head, and takes at least 24 hours to do it, folding the skin backward so that what was the inner side of it becomes the outside. Moreover as its sight is obscured by its hibernation it anoints and revives its eyes by rubbing itself against a fennel plant, but if its scales have become numbed it scratches itself on the spiny leaves of a juniper. A large snake quenches its spring nausea with the juice of wild lettuce. [100] Barbarian hunters catch leopards by means of meat rubbed over with wolfs-bane; their throats are at once attacked by violent pain (in consequence of which some people have given this poison a Greek name meaning choke-leopard), but to cure this the creature doses itself with human excrement, and in general it is so greedy for this that shepherds have a plan of hanging up some of it in a vessel too high for the leopard to be able to reach it by jumping up, and the animal keeps springing up and trying to get it till it is exhausted and finally dies, although otherwise its vitality is so persistent that it will go on fighting for a long time after its entrails have been torn out. [101] When an elephant swallows a chameleon (which is poisonous to it) because it is of the same colour as a leaf, it uses the wild olive as a remedy. When bears have swallowed the fruit of the mandrake they lick up ants. A stag uses wild artichoke as an antidote to poisoned fodder. Pigeons, jays, blackbirds and partridges cure their yearly distaste for food with bay-leaves; doves, turtle-doves and domestic fowls use the plant called helxine, ducks, geese and other water-fowl water-starwort, cranes and the like marsh-rushes. When a raven has killed a chameleon lizard, which is noxious even to its conqueror, it stanches the poisonous infection with bay-leaves.

{42.} L   [102] There are thousands of points besides, inasmuch as Nature has likewise also bestowed upon very many animals the faculty of observing the sky, and a variety of different modes of prognosticating winds, rain and storms, a subject which it would be an immense task to pursue, just as much so no doubt as the other points of alliance between particular animals and human beings. For in fact animals even give warning of dangers in advance, not only by means of their entrails and internal organs, a thing that much intrigues a great part of mankind, but also by another mode of indication. [103] When the collapse of a building is imminent, the mice migrate in advance, and spiders with their webs are the first things to fall. Indeed auguries have constituted a science at Rome and have given rise to a priestly college of the greatest dignity. In frost-bound countries, the fox also is among the creatures believed to give omens, being an animal of formidable sagacity in other respects; people only cross frozen rivers and lakes at points where it goes or returns: it has been observed to put its ear to the frozen surface and to guess the thickness of the ice.

{43.} L   [104] Nor are there less remarkable instances of destructiveness even in the case of contemptible animals. Marcus Varro states that a town in Spain was undermined by rabbits and one in Thessaly by moles, and that a tribe in Gaul was put to flight by frogs and one in Africa by locusts, and the inhabitants were banished from the island of Gyara in the Cyclades by mice, and Amynclae in Italy was completely destroyed by snakes. North of the Ethiopic tribe of the Bitch-milkers there is a wide belt of desert where a tribe was wiped out by scorpions and poisonous spiders, and Theophrastus states that the Rhoetienses were driven away by a kind of centipede.

But let us return to the remaining kinds of wild animals.

{44.} L   [105] The hyena is popularly believed to be bisexual and to become male and female in alternate years, the female bearing offspring without a male; but this is denied by Aristotle. Its neck stretches right along the backbone like a mane, and cannot bend without the whole body turning round. [106] A number of other remarkable facts about it are reported, but the most remarkable are that among the shepherds' homesteads it simulates human speech, and picks up the name of one of them so as to call him to come out of doors and tear him in pieces, and also that it imitates a person being sick, to attract the dogs so that it may attack them; that this animal alone digs up graves in search of corpses; that a female is seldom caught; that its eyes have a thousand variations and alterations of colour; moreover that when its shadow falls on dogs they are struck dumb; and that it has certain magic arts by which it causes every animal at which it gases three times to stand rooted to the spot.

{45.} L   [107] When crossed with this race of animals the Ethiopian lioness gives birth to the corocotta, that mimics the voices of men and cattle in a similar way. It has an unbroken ridge of bone in each jaw, forming a continuous tooth without any gum, which to prevent its being blunted by contact with the opposite jaw is shut up in a sort of case. Juba states that in Ethiopia the mantichora also mimics human speech.

{46.} L    [108] Hyenas occur most numerously in Africa, which also produces a multitude of wild asses. In that species each male is lord of a separate herd of females. They are afraid of rivals in their affections, and consequently they keep a watch on their females when in foal, and geld their male offspring with a bite; to guard against this the females when in foal seek hiding-places and are anxious to give birth by stealth. Also they are fond of a great deal of sexual indulgence.

{47.} L    [109] The beavers of the Black Sea region practise self-amputation of the same organ when beset by danger, as they know that they are hunted for the sake of its secretion, the medical name for which is beaver-oil. Apart from this the beaver is an animal with a formidable bite, cutting down trees on the river banks as if with steel; if it gets hold of part of a man's body it does not relax its bite before the fractured bones are heard grinding together. The beaver has a fish's tail, while the rest of its conformation resembles an otter's; both species are aquatic, and both have fur that is softer than down.

{48.} L    [110] Also the bramble-frog, which is amphibious in its habit, is replete with a great number of drugs, which it is said to evacuate daily and to replace by the food that it eats, always keeping back only the poisons for itself.

{49.} L    [111] The seal also resembles the beaver both in its amphibious habits and in its nature. It gets rid of its gall, which is useful for many drugs, by vomiting it up, and also its rennet, a cure for epileptic attacks; it does this because it knows that it is bunted for the sake of these products. Theophrastus states that geckoes also slough off their old skin as a snake does, and similarly swallow the slough at once, it being a cure for epilepsy if one snatches it from them. It is also said that their bite is harmless in Greece but that they are noxious in Sicily.

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