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This is a complete transcription of
de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus

sometimes attributed to
Aristotle

as published in the
Loeb Classical Library
Cambridge (Mass.) and London, 1936

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

Aristotle: Minor Works

p235 On Marvellous Things Heard
(de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus)

Copyright

The work appears in pp235‑325 of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of Aristotle's Minor Works, first published in 1936. It is now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1964 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Loeb Edition Introduction

p237 This curious collection of "marvels" reads like the jottings from a diary. All authorities are agreed that it is not the work of Aristotle, but it is included in this volume as it forms part of the "Corpus" which has come down to us; most Aristotelian scholars believe that it emanated from the Peripatetic School. Some of the notes are puerile, but some on the other hand are evidently the fruit of direct and accurate observation.

p239 1 [link to original Greek text] 830aIn Paeonia they say that in the mountain called Hesaenus, which divides Paeonia from Maedice, there is a wild beast called "bolinthus," which the Paeonians call "monaepus." They say that beast is in general character like an ox, but that it is larger and stronger, and also more hairy; for it has a mane on its neck like a horse, stretching down very thickly, and spreading from its brow to its eyes. Its horns are not like those of oxen, but are turned downwards, and come to a sharp point by the ears; each of these holds more than three pints and is pitch black, but they shine as though they were peeled. But when the hide is skinned it covers the space of eight couches. But when the beast is hit it flees, and even if incapacitated continues to do so; its flesh is sweet. It protects itself by kicking and voiding excrement over a distance of forty feet; it easily and often employs this form of defence, which scorches so fiercely that it will scrape off a dog's hair. They say that it has this effect when the animal is disturbed, but that it does not scorch when it is undisturbed. When they bring forth their young they meet in large numbers, and collecting in a herd all the biggest bring forth young and void excrement in a circle. For the beast voids a great deal of such excrement.

p241 2 [link to original Greek text] bThey say that camels in Arabia do not mate with their dams, and will not do so even if force is used. A story is told that once, when no stallion was available, the man in charge secretly introduced a colt. Apparently the colt completed the mating, but soon after bit the camel-driver to death.

3 [link to original Greek text] They say that the cuckoos in Helice, when they are going to lay eggs, do not make a nest, but lay them in the nests of doves or pigeons, and do not sit, nor hatch, nor bring up their young; but when the young bird is born and has grown big, it casts out of the nest those with whom it has so far lived. It becomes apparently a fine strong bird, so it can easily master the others. They say that the ring-doves so delight in this, that they join in turning out their own young.

4 [link to original Greek text] Goats in Crete when they are wounded with an arrow appear to hunt for dittany, which grows there. When they have eaten it, they immediately pull out the arrows.

5 [link to original Greek text] They say that some deer in Achaea, when they shed their horns, go in to such places that they cannot easily be found. They do this because they have nothing to defend themselves with, 831aand because the points from which they have cast off their horns are painful. In the place of the horns ivy may often be seen to have grown on them.

6 [link to original Greek text] In Armenia they say that a plant grows which is called leopard's bane. When a leopard has been seen, they anoint a victim with this, and set him free. When the leopard has touched this, he apparently seeks human excrement. So the hunters, putting p243this in a vessel, hang it from a tree, in order that he may get tired of jumping for it, and so may be captured.

7 [link to original Greek text] In Egypt they say that sandpipers fly into the mouths of crocodiles, and pick their teeth, picking out the small pieces of flesh that adhere to them with their beaks; the crocodiles like this, and do them no harm.

8 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Byzantium the hedgehogs can distinguish when the wind blows from the north and from the south, and promptly change their holes; when the south wind blows, they make the openings from the bottom, and when the north wind from the sides.

9 [link to original Greek text] The goats in Cephallenia apparently do not drink like other quadrupeds, but every day turn their faces to the sea, open their mouths, and inhale the air.

10 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Syria there is always one leader of a herd of wild asses. When one of the younger animals wishes to mate with a female, the leader is enraged and pursues the young one until he catches him, and then stooping between his hind legs tears out his organs.

11 [link to original Greek text] They say that tortoises when they have eaten a snake eat marjoram on top, and that if they do not find any they die quickly. Many shepherds have experimented to see if this is true, and when they see a tortoise eating a snake pull up the marjoram; whenever they do this they see the tortoise die in a short space of time.

12 [link to original Greek text] bThe organ of the marten is said to be unlike that of other animals, being as hard as a bone, in p245whatever condition it is. They say that it is an excellent cure for strangury and is administered in powdered form.

13 [link to original Greek text] They say that the woodpecker climbs up trees like a lizard, upside down and on its belly. It is said to feed on insects from the trees, and to dig so deep into the trees in its search for worms, that it actually brings them down.

14 [link to original Greek text] They say that pelicans dig up the mussels which live in rivers and swallow them; then when they have taken in a quantity they vomit, and so eat the flesh of the mussels without dealing with their shells.

15 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Cyllene in Arcadia the blackbirds are white, but not in any other place, and that they have harmonious voices and come out into the moonshine; and that if one were to try by day, they are very hard to catch.

16 [link to original Greek text] It is said that the honey called flower honey at Melos and Cnidos is sweet-scented, but only lasts for a short time, but that there is bee‑bread in it.

17 [link to original Greek text] In certain parts of Cappadocia they say that honey is made without wax, and that it is of the consistency of oil.

18 [link to original Greek text] At Trapezus in Pontus honey from boxwood has a heavy scent; and they say that healthy men go mad, but that epileptics are cured by it immediately.

19 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Lydia much honey is collected from trees, and that the inhabitants make small balls p247out of it without wax, that they cut pieces off by violent friction, and use them. The same thing is done in Thrace, but it is not so hard though rather gritty. They say that all the honey that sets retains the same bulk, not like water and other liquids.

20 [link to original Greek text] 832aChalcidian grass and almond are most useful for making honey. For they say that the greatest quantity is produced from them.

21 [link to original Greek text] They say that bees are stupefied by myrrh, and cannot bear its smell; some say that bees sting violently those smeared with myrrh.

22 [link to original Greek text] Among the Illyrians they say that the people called Taulantii make wine out of honey. When they have squeezed out the wax, they pour in water and boil in a cauldron, until only half the liquid is left; then they pour it into earthenware vessels; they say that it ferments in these for a long time, and that it becomes vinous, sweet and strong. They say that this has occurred even among some people in Greece, so that it shows no difference from old wine; but that when they sought for the mixture later they could not find it.

23 [link to original Greek text] In Thessaly they record that snakes are born alive in such quantities that if they were not eaten by storks the people would leave. Consequently they honour storks, and it is unlawful to kill them; if anyone does so, he is liable to the same penalties as a murderer.

24 [link to original Greek text] In the same way at certain times in Sparta, it is said that there is such a crowd of snakes, that in times of famine the Spartans use them as food; p249hence they say that the Pythian oracle called them "serpent-necked."

25 [link to original Greek text] In Cyprus they say that mice eat iron.

26 [link to original Greek text] And they say that the Chalybes, in one of the islands lying above them, collect gold from many of these creatures. For this reason apparently they cut up the mice which they catch in mines.

27 [link to original Greek text] It is said that when one goes from Susa to Media in the second stage there is a large quantity of scorpions. Consequently the king of the Persians, whenever he went through the district, stayed there three days, ordering all his men to hunt; and he gave a prize to the man who caught most.

28 [link to original Greek text] In Cyrene they say that there is not one kind of mouse bbut many, differing in shape and colour; for some have flat heads like polecats, and others are shaped like hedgehogs, which they call "echines."

29 [link to original Greek text] In Cilicia they say that there is a whirlpool; when birds and other creatures which have been drowned are put into it, they come to life again.

30 [link to original Greek text] Among the Scythians called Geloni they say that there is a beast, excessively rare, which is called "tarandos";1 they say that it changes the colour of its hair according to the place it is in. For this reason it is difficult to catch; for it becomes the same colour as the trees and the ground, and generally of the place in which it is. But the changing of the colour of the hair is most remarkable; other creatures change their skin like the chameleon and polypus, p251but this animal is of the size of an ox. But its head is of the same kind as a deer.

31 [link to original Greek text] It is said that at Abydus a man who was mad went into the theatre and watched for many days, as if there were people acting, and showed his approval; and when he recovered from his madness, he said that he had enjoyed the best time of his life.

32 [link to original Greek text] In Tarentum they say that a seller of wine went mad at night, but sold wine by day. For he kept the key of his room at his girdle, and, though many tried to get it from him and take it, he never lost it.

33 [link to original Greek text] In the island of Tenos they say there is a cup containing a mixture, from which they very easily kindle a fire. And among the Bithynians in Thrace there is in the mines a stone called "spinos," from which they say that fire is kindled.

34 [link to original Greek text] In the island of Lipara they say that there is a place with a down draught, in which if they hide a pipkin, anything they put into it boils.

35 [link to original Greek text] 833aIn Media and in the district of Psittacus in Persia there are fires burning, a small one in Media, but a large one in Psittacus with a clear flame. For this reason the Persian king built his kitchen near it. Both are on level ground and not in high places. These can be seen both by night and by day, but those in Pamphylia only by night.

36 [link to original Greek text] Also they say that in Atitania, near the boundaries of Apolloniatis, there is a rock, from which the fire which rises cannot be seen, but when oil is poured over it, it blazes.

p253 37 [link to original Greek text] It is said also that the district outside the Pillars of Heracles burns, part of it all the time, and part only at night, as is narrated in Hanno's Voyages. The fire in Lipara can be seen flaming, not by day, but only by night. In Pithecusae they say it is fiery and hot, but not burning.

38 [link to original Greek text] Xenophanes says that the one in Lipara faded for sixteen years, but reappeared in the seventeenth. They say that the flow of lava in Etna is neither flaming nor continuous, but that it appears after an interval of many years.

39 [link to original Greek text] In Lydia it is said that the fire is very strong, and burns for seven days on end.

40 [link to original Greek text] A remarkable story is told about the lava flow in Sicily; for the width of the boiling flame is forty stades, and the height to which it travels is three.

41 [link to original Greek text] They say the stone in Thrace called "spinos" burns when split in half, and joins together again, like charcoal embers, and that this, when joined together and sprinkled with water, burns; and that the "marieus" does the same thing.

42 [link to original Greek text] Near Philippi in Macedonia they say that there are mines, the dross from which when cast out grows and produces gold, and that this can be seen.

43 [link to original Greek text] They also say that in Cyprus in the district called Tyrrias bronze behaves in a similar way. bFor apparently they cut it into small pieces and sow it; then when the rain comes it grows, and puts out shoots and so is collected.

p255 44 [link to original Greek text] They say also that in the island of Melos places that are excavated automatically fill up again.

45 [link to original Greek text] In Paeonia they say that when showers of rain fall continuously, as the soil melts away, gold is found called unfired gold. They say that in Paeonia the ground is so full of gold that many have found more than a mina's weight. They say that one man found two lumps and took them to the king, one weighing three minae and one five; these were laid by him on the table, and, if he ate anything, he first poured a libation on these.

46 [link to original Greek text] They also say that among the Bactrians the river Oxus brings down lumps of gold in huge quantities, and that in Iberia the river called Theodorus silts up quantities of gold at its mouth, and similarly washes it down.

47 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Pieria in Macedonia uncoined gold was dug into the earth by the ancient kings in four holes, and that from one of them gold a span high grew up.

48 [link to original Greek text] It is said that the origin of Chalybian and Amisenian iron is most extraordinary. For it grows, so they say, from the sand which is borne down by the rivers. Some say that they simply wash this and heat it in a furnace; others say that they repeatedly wash the residue which is left after the first washing and heat it, and that they put into it a stone which is called fire-proof; and there is much of this in the district. This iron is much superior to all other kinds. If it were not burned in a furnace, it would not apparently be very different from silver. They say that it p257alone is not liable to rust, but that there is not much of it.

49 [link to original Greek text] 834aThey say that among the Indians copper is so bright, clean, and rustless that it is indistinguishable in appearance from gold, but that among the cups of Darius there are a considerable number which could not be determined as copper or gold except by the smell.

50 [link to original Greek text] They say that Celtic tin melts much more easily than lead. A proof of its solubility may be seen from the fact that it seems to melt even in water; for instance, apparently it stains very quickly. It melts even in the cold, when there is frost, owing, so they say, to the heat stored up and compressed with it because of its weakness.

51 [link to original Greek text] There is a wild olive at Pantheion called the "beautiful crown" olive. All its leaves have characteristics contrary to those of other olives; for they have the grey colour on the upper and not the under side. They put out branches like the myrtle suitable for crowns. Taking a cutting from this Heracles planted it at Olympia, and from it crowns are given to the victorious athletes. This is by the river Ilissus, about 60 stades away from the river; it has a wall round it and there is a heavy penalty for anyone who touches it. Taking a cutting from this the Eleians planted it at Olympia, and gave crowns from it.

52 [link to original Greek text] In the mines in Lydia about Pergamum, which Croesus worked, when war broke out, the workers fled to them, and when the mouth was closed up p259were suffocated; much later on when the mines were cleared out the vessels which they used for their handiwork were found petrified, such as amphorae and similar vessels. These being filled with some liquid were petrified, and so were the bones of the men.

53 [link to original Greek text] In the lake Ascania the water is so full of soda that clothes need no further cleansing, and if one lets them stay long in the water they crumble to pieces.

54 [link to original Greek text] Near the lake Ascania there is a village called Pythopolis, about a hundred and twenty stades from Cios, in which all the wells go dry in the winter, so that it is impossible to dip a vessel into them, bbut in the summer they are full to the brim.

55 [link to original Greek text] The strait between Sicily and Italy grows bigger and smaller according to the moon.

56 [link to original Greek text] Also on the road to Syracuse there is a spring in a meadow neither large nor with much water; but when a large crowd met at the place it supplied ample water.

57 [link to original Greek text] There is a spring among the Palici in Sicily, covering the space of ten couches; this throws up water to the height of six cubits, so that the whole place is thought by observers to be inundated; and it falls back again to the same spot. There is an oath which is regarded as very sacred there; for a man writes down the oath he takes on a small tablet and casts it into the water. If he swears truly, the tablet floats. If he swears falsely, the tablet is said to grow heavy and disappear, and the man is p261burned. So the priest takes security from him that someone shall purify the temple.

58 [link to original Greek text] Demonesus, the Chalcedonian island, took its name from Demonesus who first worked there; the place has a mine of cyanus and malachite. The best of this fetches price comparable with gold; for it is a drug used for the eyes. There is also copper to be dived for in two fathoms of sea; from this is made the statue in Sicyon in the ancient temple of Apollo, and also those in Pheneus called yellow-copper. On them is inscribed "Heracles, son of Amphitryon, dedicated these on capturing Elis." He captured Elis under the guidance of a woman, in accordance with the oracle, whose father Augeas he had killed. Those who dig for copper become very keen-sighted, and those who have no eyelashes grow them; hence doctors also use the flower of copper and Phrygian ash for the eyes.

59 [link to original Greek text] There is a cave called the "hollow cave"; in it are pillars made of stalagmites; these can be seen joined to the floor, for it is very narrow there.

60 [link to original Greek text] 835aFrom a pair of eagles one of typography is alternately a sea‑eagle, as long as they are mated. From sea‑eagles are born the osprey and from these hawks and vultures; these do not stop as vultures, but produce large vultures; these have no young. This is proved by the fact that no one has ever seen a nest of large vultures.

61 [link to original Greek text] Among the Indians an extraordinary occurrence is told of the lead there; for when it is melted and poured into cold water it leaps out of the water.

p263 62 [link to original Greek text] They say that Mossynecian copper is very shiny and white, not because there is tin mixed with it, but because some earth is combined and molten with it. But they say that the man who discovered the mixture never taught anyone; so the copper vessels which were made in earlier days have this distinction, but subsequent ones have not.

63 [link to original Greek text] They say in Pontus that some birds are found retiring into holes in winter and do not void, nor do they feel it when their wings are plucked, nor when they are put on to a small spit, but they do when they are roasted by the fire. They also say that many fish cannot feel when they are cut up and sliced, but they can feel when they are heated by the fire.

64 [link to original Greek text] The bee appears to herald the winter solstice by walking to his work, a sign of which bee‑keepers make use; for it is their quiet time. The cicala seems to sing after the solstice.

65 [link to original Greek text] They say that the hedgehog can go without food for a year.

66 [link to original Greek text] The spotted lizard, when it has sloughed its skin like a snake, is said to turn round and devour it; for it is watched for by physicians because of its value for epileptics.

67 [link to original Greek text] They say that the fat of the she‑bear, when it becomes set in winter, during the time that the bear lives in a cave, grows, and overflows the vessels in which it is placed.

68 [link to original Greek text] In Cyrene they say that frogs are entirely voiceless; and in Macedonia, in the country of the Emathiotae, that pigs are solid-hooved.

p265 69 [link to original Greek text] bIn Cappadocia they say that mules breed and in Crete that poplars bear fruit.

70 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Seriphus frogs do not croak, but if they are removed to another place they do.

71 [link to original Greek text] Among the Indians in the part called Keras, they say that there are small fish which wander about on dry land, and then run back again to the river.

72 [link to original Greek text] Some say that in Babylonia certain fishes remain in holes which retain moisture when the river dries up; these come out on to the threshing-floor to feed, and walk on their fins and wave their tails; when they are pursued they flee, and diving down stand to face the pursuer. For men will often approach, and even torment them. They have a head like a sea‑frog, but the rest of their body is like a gudgeon, but they have gills like other fish.

73 [link to original Greek text] In Heraclea in Pontus and in Rhegium they say that some fish are caught by digging, and that these are mostly found in riverside and watery places. Where these places dry up they can be caught in certain places on land, and then when the ground dries still more they penetrate into the mud in search of moisture; then when that grows dry they remain in the moisture, like those that survive in holes. But when they are dug up before the water comes they move.

74 [link to original Greek text] And they say that in Paphlagonia those fishes which are dug up are bred deep down, and that they are good in quality; although no water is to be seen p267near by, nor any river flowing in, but the earth itself propagates the creatures.

75 [link to original Greek text] They say that the deer in Epirus dig down and bury the right horn, when they shed it, and that this is valuable for many purposes.

76 [link to original Greek text] They say that the lynx conceals his urine because it is used for many purposes, especially for making signets.

77 [link to original Greek text] They say that the seal vomits beestings when caught; this has curative properties, and is good for epileptics.

78 [link to original Greek text] It is said that in Italy near the mountain Circe a fatal drug grows, which has this property, that when it is sprinkled on anyone, it makes him fall immediately 836aand causes his hair to fall out; all the limbs of his body grow weak, so that the appearance of the body of those who are dying is pitiful. They say that Aulus the Peucestrian and Gaius who were going to give it to Cleonymus the Spartan were detected, and after cross-examination were put to death by the Tarentines.

79 [link to original Greek text] They say that in the island of Diomedeia in the Adriatic there is a remarkable and hallowed shrine of Diomedes, and that birds of vast size sit round this shrine in a circle, having large hard beaks. They say moreover that if ever Greeks disembark on the spot they keep quiet, but if any of the barbarians that live round about land there, they rise and wheeling round attack their heads, and wounding them with their bills kill them. The legend is that these birds are descended from the companions of p269Diomedes, who were wrecked near the island, when Diomedes was treacherously murdered by Aeneas, the king of those parts at the time.

80 [link to original Greek text] Among the Umbrians they say that the cattle bear three times in the year, and the earth bears many times as many fruits as that which is sown; also that women have many children and seldom bear one (at a time), but most of them two or three.

81 [link to original Greek text] In the Electrides Islands, which lie in the gulf of the Adriatic, they say that two statues have been dedicated, one of tin and one of copper, wrought in the old‑fashioned style. It is said that these are the works of Daedalus, a reminder of the old days, when escaping from Minos he came to this district from Sicily and Crete. They say that the river Eridanus silted up these islands. There is a lake apparently near the river, containing hot water. A heavy and unpleasant smell comes from it, and no animal ever drinks from it nor does bird fly over it without falling and dying. bIt has a circumference of two hundred stades, and a breadth of ten. The local inhabitants say that Phaethon fell into this lake when he was struck by a thunderbolt. There are many poplars in it, from which oozes the so‑called electron.a They say that this is like gum, and hardens like a stone; it is collected by the inhabitants and brought to the Greeks. They say that Daedalus came to these islands, and putting in there set up in one of them his own image, and in the other that of his son Icarus. Later on, when the Pelasgians, who p271were expelled from Argos, sailed there, Daedalus fled, and sailed to the island of Icarus.

82 [link to original Greek text] In Sicily in the district called Enna there is said to be a cave, around which is an abundance of flowers at every season of the year, and particularly that a vast space is filled with violets, which fill the neighbourhood with sweet scent, so that hunters cannot chase hares, because the dogs are overcome by the scent. Through this cave there is an invisible underground passage, by means of which Pluto is said to have made the rape of Core. They say that wheat is found in this place unlike the local grain, which they use, and unlike any that is imported, but having great peculiarities. They say that this was the first place in which wheat appeared among them. They also claim Demeter, saying that the goddess was born among them.

83 [link to original Greek text] They say that there are no wolves, bears or snakes in Crete, and, generally speaking, no beasts of the kind, because Zeus was born there.

84 [link to original Greek text] In the sea outside the Pillars of Heracles they say that a desert island was found by the Carthaginians, having woods of all kinds and navigable rivers, remarkable for all other kinds of fruits, and a few days' voyage away; as the Carthaginians frequented it often owing to its prosperity, and some even lived there, 837athe chief of the Carthaginians announced that they would punish with death any who proposed to sail there, and that they massacred all the inhabitants, that they might not tell the story, and p273that a crowd might not resort to the island, and get possession of it, and take away the prosperity of the Carthaginians.

85 [link to original Greek text] They say that there is a road called "the Heraclean" from Italy as far as the Celts, Celtoligyes, and Iberians, through which, if a Greek or native travels, he is guarded by the inhabitants, that no harm may befall him; and that they exact punishment from those through whom such harm comes.

86 [link to original Greek text] They say that among the Celts there is a drug called by them the "arrow drug"; this produces so swift a death that the Celtic hunters, when they have shot at a deer or other beast, run hastily, and cut out the wounded part of the flesh before the poison sinks in, both for the sake of its use, and to prevent the animal from rotting. They say that the bark of the oak‑tree has been discovered to be an antidote to this; others, however, speak of another leaf which they call "raven," because a raven has been seen by them, after tasting the drug and becoming ill, to run to this leaf, and after swallowing it to cease from its pain.

87 [link to original Greek text] In Iberia they say that when the undergrowth has been burned by shepherds, and the earth heated by the wood, that the ground can be seen to flow with silver, and that after a time when earthquakes have occurred and the ground split, that much silver has been collected, which supplied the Massaliots with considerable revenue.

88 [link to original Greek text] In the islands of Gymnesiae, which lie off Iberia, which they say are the greatest after the so‑called p275"seven,"b oil is said to have come not from olives, but from the terebinth, which corresponds in every respect to olive‑oil. They also say that the Iberians who live there are so much given to women, that they will give the merchants four or five male persons in exchange for one female. bOn service with the Carthaginians, when they receive their pay, they apparently buy nothing but women. None of them is allowed to possess any gold or silver article. It is added that this is done with a view to preventing them from bringing in gold, because Heracles made an expedition against Iberia because of the wealth of the inhabitants.

89 [link to original Greek text] In the country of the Massaliots about Liguria they say there is a lake, and that this boils up and overflows, and throws up an incredible quantity of fish. But when the etesian winds blow they heap the ground up over it, and so much dust arises there, that the surface of the lake vanishes and becomes like solid ground. Then the inhabitants easily raise fish out of the lake by spearing them with a three-pronged fork.

90 [link to original Greek text] Some of the Ligurians are said to use the sling so well that, when they see a number of birds, they discuss with each other which each of them shall prepare to hit, on the assumption that they will easily get them all.

91 [link to original Greek text] They tell also of another peculiarity among them: the women bear children while at work; after washing the infant in water, they immediately dig, p277and hoe, and do all the household jobs which they have to do when not bearing children.

92 [link to original Greek text] This is another marvel among the Ligurians: they say that there is a river among them whose stream is raised so high that it is impossible to see people on the further bank.c

93 [link to original Greek text] In Tyrrhenia there is said to be an island called Aethaleia, in which in olden days copper was dug from a mine, from which all their copper vessels come; after that it was found no longer, but, after the lapse of considerable time, iron appeared from the same mine, which the Tyrrhenians who live in the district called Poplonium still use.

94 [link to original Greek text] In Tyrrhenia also there is a city called Oenaria, which they say is remarkably strong: for in the middle of it is a wide hill, stretching up to a height of thirty stades, and below wood of all kinds, and water. 838aThey say that the inhabitants, fearing lest there should be a tyrant, set over themselves those of the household slaves who were freed, and these rule over them, and every year they set up others of the same kind.

95 [link to original Greek text] In Cyme in Italy an underground chamber is shown apparently of the Sibyl, the reciter of the oracles, who they say was long-lived and remained a maiden, a native of Erythrae, but by some of those who live in Italy is said to come from Cyme, and by others called Melancraera. This place is said to be controlled by Leucanians. And they say that in those places about Cyme there is a river called Cetus, into which what is cast for a long time first grows a layer on top, and then becomes petrified.

p279 96 [link to original Greek text] They say that a cloak was made for Alcimenes, the Sybarite, so expensive that it was produced at Lacinium at the festival of Hera, to which all Italiots come, and was admired more than anything else displayed there; they say that Dionysius the Elder acquired it, and sold it to the Carthaginians for a hundred and twenty talents. It was purple, fifteen cubits in size, and on each side it was ornamented with embroidered figures, of Susa above, and of the Persians below; in the centre were Zeus, Hera, Themis, Athene, Apollo and Aphrodite. At one extremity was Alcimenes, and on either side Sybaris.

97 [link to original Greek text] Near the promontory of Iapygia is a spot, in which it is alleged, so runs the legend, that the battle between Heracles and the giants took place; from here flows such a stream of ichor that the sea cannot be navigated at the spot owing to the heaviness of the scent. They say that in many parts of Italy there are many memorials of Heracles on the roads over which he travelled. But about Pandosia in Iapygia footprints of the god are shown, upon which no one may walk.

98 [link to original Greek text] bAlso near the promontory of Iapygia is a stone large enough to load a wagon, which they say was lifted up and moved by him, and that too with one finger.

99 [link to original Greek text] In the city of Orchomenus in Boeotia they say that a fox was seen, which, when pursued by a dog, dived into an underground passage, and that the dog dived in after it, and made a loud noise of barking, as if it had found a wide open space; the huntsmen, assuming some supernatural agency, broke down the entrance, and forced their way in as well; p281but seeing by some openings that light was coming in they had a complete view of the whole, and went and reported it to the magistrates.

100 [link to original Greek text] In the island of Sardinia they say that there are many fine buildings arranged in the ancient Greek style, and among others domed buildings, carved with many shapes; these are said to have been built by Iolaus the son of Iphicles, when he took the Thespians, descended from Heracles, and sailed to those parts to colonize them, on the grounds that they belonged to him by his kinship with Heracles, because Heracles was master of all the country towards the west. Apparently the island was originally called Ichnussa, because its circumference made a shape like a man's footstep (Greek ἴχνος), and it is said before this time to have been prosperous and fruitful; for the legend was that Aristaeus, who, they say, was the most efficient husbandman in ancient times, ruled them, in a district previously full of many great birds. Now the island no longer bears anything, because the Carthaginians who got possession of it cut down all the fruits useful for food, and prescribed the penalty of death to the inhabitants, if any of them replanted them.

101 [link to original Greek text] In one of the seven islands called those Aeolus, which is known as Lipara, runs a legend that there is a tomb, concerning which they tell many marvels; among other things they agree that it is not safe to approach the place by night, for the sound of drums and cymbals can be heard, and distinct laughter, with noise and the clapping of castanets. p283839aThere is a still more remarkable story about the cave; for someone once slept here drunk before dawn, and was sought for by his servants for three days, and on the fourth was found, and taken away for dead by the servants and put into his own tomb; after receiving all the usual rites he suddenly arose and told all that had happened to him. This strikes us as more like legend; but at the same time one must not pass over it without record, when making a catalogue of events on the spot.

102 [link to original Greek text] Near Cyme in Italy there is a lake called Aornos; in itself it has no remarkable properties; but they say that hills lie round it in a circle not less than three stades high, and that the lake itself is circular in shape, having an incredible depth. But this seems remarkable; for though thick trees grow over it, and some even bend down to it, one can never see a leaf lying on the water, but the water is so clear that those who look into it are amazed. But on the land not far away from it hot water flows in many places, and the whole region is called Pyriphlegethon. It is not true that no bird flies over it; for those who have been there assert that there are a quantity of swans on it.

103 [link to original Greek text] They say that the islands of Seirenusae lie near Italy off the promontory itself near the strait, which lies in front of the place, and separates the strait which surrounds Cyme, and that which cuts off the promontory called Poseidonia; on which p285stands a temple of the Sirens, and they are honoured very highly by the inhabitants with sacrifices punctually. In remembrance of their names they call one Parthenope, one Leuconia, and a third Ligeia.

104 [link to original Greek text] bThere is said to be a mountain between Mentorice and Istriane called Delphium, having a high peak. When the Mentores who live near the Adriatic climb this peak they can apparently see ships sailing in the Pontus. There is a spot in the middle in which, when a common market is held, Lesbian, Chian and Thasian goods are bought from the merchants who come up from Pontus, and Corcyraean amphorae from those who come from the Adriatic.

105 [link to original Greek text] They say that the Ister flowing from the forests called Hercynian divides, and one part flows into the Pontus, and the other into the Adriatic. We can see proof not only at the present time, but still more in ancient days that the river at these points is not navigable; for they say that Jason made his entry to the Pontus by the Cyanean rocks, but his exit by the Ister; and they produce a considerable number of other proofs, and in particular they show altars in the district dedicated by Jason, and in one of the islands of the Adriatic a temple of Artemis built by Medea. They also say that he could not have sailed past the so‑called Planktae, unless he had journeyed from there. Also in the island of Aethaleia, which lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea, they show other memorials of the heroes, and one which p287is called the "Pebble" memorial; for by the seashore they say that there are painted pebbles, and the Greeks who inhabit the island say that these derive their colour from the dirt removed by the scrapers when they oiled themselves; they say that these pebbles were to be seen from that date and not before, nor were they found afterwards. But they quote even more convincing evidence than this, that the voyage out did not take place through the Symplegades, using the poet himself in that place as a witness. For in explaining the seriousness of the danger he says that it is impossible to sail past the place.

The waves of the sea carry the timber of ships and the bodies of men all together, and so do the storms of destructive fire.2

840aNow it is not said that fire issues from about the Cyaneae, but about the strait which divides Sicily (from Italy), where there are eruptions of fire on both sides of the strait, and the island burns continuously and the lava about Etna frequently flows over the district.

106 [link to original Greek text] At Tarentum it is said that at certain times sacrifices are offered to the spirits of the Atreidae, Tydidae, Aeacidae and Laertiadae, but that they offer sacrifice to the Agamemnonidae separately on another special day, upon which it is the custom for the women not to taste the victims sacrificed to them. They also possess Achilles' temple. It is also said that after the Tarentines took the place in which they now live it was called Heracleia, but in early time when the Ionians held it, Pleion; even before this date it was called Sigeum by the Trojans, who possessed it.

p289 107 [link to original Greek text] It is said that Philoctetes is honoured among the Sybarites. For when he was brought back from Troy, he lived in a place called Macallad in the region of Croton, which they say is a hundred and twenty stades away, and they relate that he dedicated Heracles' bow and arrows at the temple of Apollo the sea god. There they say that the Crotoniates during their supremacy dedicated them at the Apollonium in their own district. It is also said that, when he died, he was buried there by the river Sybaris, after helping the Rhodians who landed at the spot with Tlepolemus, and joined battle with the barbarians, who dwelt in that part of the country.

108 [link to original Greek text] In Italy in the district called Gargaria, near Metapontum, they say that there is a temple of the Hellenian Athene, where the tools of Epeius are dedicated, which he made for the wooden horse, giving the goddess this name. For they say that Athene appeared to him in a dream, and demanded that he should dedicate the tools to her, and that, having delayed his setting out on this account, he was shut up in the place and unable to set out; whence the temple of Hellenian Athene derived its name.

109 [link to original Greek text] bIn the region called Daunia there is said to be a temple of Athene called Achaean, in which are dedicated the bronze axes and the arms of Diomedes' companions and his own. In this place they say there are dogs which do no harm to any Greeks who come there, but fawn on them as though they were their dearest friends. But all the Daunians and their neighbours dress in black, both men and women, apparently for the following reason. The Trojan p291women who were taken prisoners and came to that district, in their anxiety to avoid bitter slavery at the hands of the women who belonged to the Greeks before in their own country, burned their ships according to the story, that they might at the same time escape the slavery which they expected, and that, joined with them as husbands, as they were compelled to remain, they might keep them. A very fine account of them is given by the poet; for one can see that they were "long-robed" and "deep-bosomed."

110 [link to original Greek text] Among the Peucetini they say that there is a temple of Artemis, in which is dedicated what is called the bronze necklet, bearing the legend "Diomedes to Artemis." The story goes that he hung it about the neck of a deer, and that it grew there, and in this way being found later by Agathocles, king of the Siceliots, they say that it was dedicated at the temple of Zeus.e

111 [link to original Greek text] On the promontory in Sicily called Pelorias there is said to be a crocus which grows so large that among some of the inhabitants of the district the Greeks do not know what kind of flower it is, but at Pelorias any who wish bring large wagons, and in the season of spring make beds and platforms out of the crocus.

112 [link to original Greek text] Polycritus, who wrote the Sicilian history, says in his story that in a certain part of the interior there is a little lake having a circumference of a shield, and this has water which is transparent, but the surface is somewhat ruffled. 841aIf anyone goes into p293it needing to wash, it increases in width, and if a second man goes in, it grows still broader. But the limit of its expansion is reached when it has received fifty men. But when it has received this number, it swells up from the bottom and casts up the bodies of the bathers high and dry on the land; when this has occurred it reverts again to its original size in circumference. This does not occur merely in the case of men, but if a quadruped goes into it the same thing happens.

113 [link to original Greek text] In the empire of the Carthaginians they say that there is a mountain called Uranium, full of every kind of timber, and made beautiful by many-coloured flowers, so that a succession of places sharing the sweet scent over a large district gives a most delightful air to travellers. At this place they say that there is a spring of oil, which has a scent like the cuttings of cedar. But he who approaches it must be pure, and when this is the case the oil bubbles up more than before, so that it can be safely drawn off.

114 [link to original Greek text] They say that near this spring there is a natural rock, of vast size. When it is summer it sends up a flame of fire, but in winter a spring of water flows from the same source, so cold that, when compared with snow, its temperature is the same. They say that this is in no way concealed, nor happens for a short time, but that the fire rises all the summer time, and water all the winter.

115 [link to original Greek text] The story goes that in the district of Thrace p295called the Sintian and Maedian there is a river called Pontus, which rolls down stones which burn and behave in the opposite way to embers made from wood; for when the flame is fanned these stones are quickly quenched, but when soaked in water they light up and kindle finely. When they burn they have a smell like pitch, just as unpleasant and acrid, bso that no reptile can stay in the place while they are burning.

116 [link to original Greek text] They also say that there is a district there, not very large, but somewhere about twenty stades, which bears the barley which men use, but horses and cattle will not eat it, nor will any other animal; nor will any pigs nor dogs venture to touch the excrement of men who void after eating meal or bread made from this barley, because death follows.

117 [link to original Greek text] In Scotussae in Thessaly they say that there is a little spring, from which a kind of water flows, which quickly heals wounds and bruises both of men and beasts, but if one puts a log of wood into it without completely crushing it, but only breaking it in half, it grows again and returns to its original state.

118 [link to original Greek text] In Thrace above Amphipolis they say that there is a remarkable occurrence, which is incredible to those who have not seen it. For boys, coming out of the villages and places round to hunt small birds, take hawks with them, and behave as follows: when they have come to a suitable spot, they call the hawks addressing them by name; when they hear the boys' p297voices, they swoop down on the birds. The birds fly in terror into the bushes, where the boys catch them by knocking them down with sticks. But there is one most remarkable feature in this; when the hawks themselves catch any of the birds, they throw them down to the hunters, and the boys after giving a portion of all that is caught to the hawks go home.

119 [link to original Greek text] They relate a remarkable occurrence among the Heneti; for countless thousands of jackdaws come to their country and consume their grain, when they have sown it; before they are about to fly over there the Heneti put out gifts for the birds on their boundaries, putting down seeds of all kinds of fruits; if the jackdaws taste these, 842athey do not pass over the border into their country, and the Heneti know that they will be in peace; but if they do not taste them, they expect as it were an invasion of the enemy.

120 [link to original Greek text] In Thracian Chalcidice near Olynthus they say that there is a place called Cantharolethros, a little larger in size than a threshing-floor; when any other animal comes to it, it immediately retires, but none of the cantharus beetles do, but wheeling round and round the place die of hunger.

121 [link to original Greek text] Among the Cyclopes in Thrace there is a small spring with water which is clear and transparent to look at, and just like any other water, but, when any animal drinks of it, it immediately dies.

122 [link to original Greek text] They say that in Crastonia near the country of the Bisaltae hares which are caught have two livers, and that there is a place there about an acre in extent, p299into which if any animal enters it dies. There is also there a fine large temple of Dionysus, in which when a sacrifice and feast takes place, should the god intend to give a good season, it is said that a huge flame of fire appears and that all who go to the sacred enclosure see this, but when the season is going to be very bad, this light does not appear, but darkness covers the place, just as on other nights.

123 [link to original Greek text] In Elis they say there is a building about eight stades from the city into which at the Dionysia they place three empty bronze cauldrons. When they have done this they call upon any of the visiting Greeks who wishes to examine the vessels, and seal up the doors of the house. When they are going to open it, they show the seals to citizens and strangers, and then open it. Those that go in find the cauldrons full of wine, but the ceiling and walls intact, so that there is no suspicion that they effect it by any artifice. They also say that there are kites among them which seize pieces of meat from those who are carrying them through the market-place, bbut they do not touch those which are offerings to the gods.

124 [link to original Greek text] In Coroneia in Boeotia it is said that the moles cannot live, nor dig in the earth, though the rest of Boeotia has many of them.

125 [link to original Greek text] At Lusi in Arcadia they say there is a spring in which there are land mice; they dive and live in it. The same thing is said to occur at Lampsacus.

126 [link to original Greek text] At Crannon in Thessaly they say that there are only two ravens in the city. After they have nested p301apparently they migrate, and leave behind just the same number of the young birds they hatch.

127 [link to original Greek text] At Apollonia, which lies near to the country of the Atlantini, they say that bitumen and pitch is buried, and springs up out of the earth in the same way as water, in no way different from that in Macedonia, except that it is blacker and thicker. Not far from this spot is a fire which burns perpetually, as those who live in the district testify. The burning place is apparently not large, about enough to give room for five couches. It smells of sulphur and vitriol, and round it grows thick grass, which is a most surprising fact, and there are huge trees not more than four cubits away from the fire. There is also continuous burning in Lycia and near Megalopolis in the Peloponnese.

128 [link to original Greek text] Cattle in Illyria are saidto breed twice during the year, and most commonly of all to have twins, and that goats often bear three or four, and some five or even more; they readily yield a gallon of milk. They also say that hens do not lay once a day, as they do elsewhere, but two or three times.

129 [link to original Greek text] It is also said in Paeonia that the wild bulls are bigger than in any of the other races, and that their horns will hold two gallons, and some of them even more.

130 [link to original Greek text] 843aAbout the Sicilian strait many others have written, and this author says that a marvellous thing happens. For the waves from the Tyrrhenian Sea p303are borne with much surge to both the promontories, the one on the Sicilian side and the other on the Italian side called Rhegium, and being carried from the great sea into a narrow one are compressed. When this happens the wave is carried high in the air with a loud noise over a wide space upwards, so that, when hurled high in the air, it can be seen by those who are a long way off, not like the high travel of the sea but white and foamy, and like the tracks which are made by violent storms. Sometimes the waves crash against each other on both promontories and come together with a crash impossible to describe, and unbearable to look at; and sometimes, when they have parted after dashing against each other, so deep and terrifying is the appearance to those who are forced to see it that many cannot control themselves, but grow dizzy and fall down from fear. But when the wave falling on either of the spots, and flung as high as promontories, dashes back again into the sea flowing below, with a vast roar and with huge swift eddies the sea boils up and is hurled high, seething from the depths and changing to every kind of colour; sometimes it appears black and sometimes blue, and then again purple. No beast can bear either to hear or to see the race and length of it, and in addition to this the upward flow, but all flee to the foot of the mountain. When the wave ceases, the eddies are carried up into the air and make such varied whirlings that the movements p305look like the coils of sea‑serpents, or some other huge snakes.

131 [link to original Greek text] bThey say that while the Athenians were building the temple of Demeter at Eleusis, a brazen pillar was found surrounded by stones, upon which was inscribed "This is the tomb of Deiope," whom some say was the wife of Musaeus, and others the mother of Triptolemus.

132 [link to original Greek text] In one of the islands called Aeolian they say that there are a number of date-palms, whence it is called "Phoenicodes." The statement of Callisthenes cannot be true, that the plant took its name from the Phoenicians of Syria, who inhabit the sea coast. But some say that the Phoenicians were so‑called by the Greeks because they were the first to sail the sea, and killed and murdered everyone at the point at which they disembarked: for in the language of the Perrhaebi to shed blood is "phoenixai."

133 [link to original Greek text] In the country called Aeniac, in that part called Hypate, an ancient pillar is said to have been found; as it bore an inscription in archaic characters of which the Aenianes wished to know the origin, they sent messengers to Athens to take it there. But as they were travelling through Boeotia, and discussing their journey from home with some strangers, it is said that they were escorted into the so‑called Ismenium in Thebes. For they were told that the inscription was most likely to be deciphered there, as they possessed certain offerings having ancient letters similar in form. There having discovered what they were p307seeking from the known letters they transcribed the following lines:

I Heracles dedicated a sacred grove to Cythera Persephassa,

when I was driving the flocks of Geryon and Erythea.

The goddess Persephassa subdued me with desire for her.

Here my newly wed Erythe brought forth a son Erython; then I gave her the plain in memory of our love under a shady beech-tree.

844aThe place called Erythus answered to this inscription and also the fact that he brought the cows from there, and not from Erytheia; for they say that the name Erytheia does not occur in the districts of Libya and Iberia.

134 [link to original Greek text] In that part of Libya called Ityce, which lies, as they say, in the gulf between the promontories of Hermaeum and Hippus opposite Carthage at a distance of about 200 stades (which was said to have been founded by Phoenicians two hundred and eighty-seven years before Carthage itself, as is recorded in the Phoenician histories) they say there is salt buried at a depth of three fathoms, white in appearance but not hard, but like very sticky gum; when it is brought out into the sun, there is hardens and becomes like Parian marble. They say that small figures and other objects are carved out of it.

135 [link to original Greek text] It is said that the first Phoenicians who sailed to Tartessus took away so much silver as cargo, carrying there olive‑oil and other petty wares, that no one could keep or receive the silver, but that on sailing p309away from the district they had to make all the other vessels of silver, and even all their anchors.

136 [link to original Greek text] They say that Phoenicians who live in what is called Gades, on sailing outside the Pillars of Heracles with an east wind for four days, came at once some desert lands, full of rushes and seaweed, which were not submerged when the tide ebbed, but were covered when the tide was full, upon which were found a quantity of tunny-fish, of incredible size and weight when brought to shore; pickling these and putting them into jars they brought them to Carthage. These alone the Carthaginians do not export, but owing to their value as food they consume them themselves.

137 [link to original Greek text] bIn Pedasia in Caria sacrifices are offered to Zeus, in which they take a she‑goat in procession, concerning which a marvel is related. For, when walking seventy stades from the Pedasi through a large crowd of watchers, it is not disturbed on its journey, nor does it turn out of the road, but tied with a rope it walks in front of the man who is conducting the sacrifice. There is also a wonderful thing, in that there are two ravens always about the temple of Zeus, and that no other approaches the spot, and that one of them has a white patch in the front of its neck.

138 [link to original Greek text] Among the Illyrians who are called Ardiaeans along the boundary between them and the Autaritae, they say there is a high mountain, and near to it a glen from which the water rises, not at all seasons but in the spring, in considerable quantity, which they p311take and keep under cover by day, but put in the open at night. After they have done this for five or six days, the water hardens and becomes very fine salt, which they keep especially for the cattle; for salt is not imported to them because they live far from the sea and do not associate with others. Consequently they need it very much for the cattle; for they give them salt twice a year. If they fail to do this, most of the cattle are found to die.

139 [link to original Greek text] They say that there is a class of locust in Argos which is called the "scorpion-fighter." For the moment it sees a scorpion, it attacks it, and the scorpion does exactly the same thing. It flies in a circle round the scorpion and chirps; the scorpion raises its sting and turns it round in the same place, then gradually raises its sting and stretches it to its full length, while the locust circles round. At last the locust approaches and eats it. They say it is a good thing to eat a locust as a protection against the scorpion's sting.

140 [link to original Greek text] They say that wasps in Naxos, when they have eaten adder's flesh (and apparently they are very partial to it), should they sting anyone, produce so much pain, that the sting is worse than the adder's bite.

141 [link to original Greek text] 845aThey say that they make the Scythian poison with which they smear arrows, out of the snake. Apparently the Scythians watch for those that have just borne young, and taking them let them rot for some days. When they think that they are completely decomposed, they pour a man's blood into a p313small vessel, and dig it into a dunghill, and cover it up. When this has also decomposed they mix the part which stands on the blood, which is watery, with the juice of the snake, and so make a deadly poison.

142 [link to original Greek text] They say that there is a kind of snake in Curium in Cyprus which has the same power as the asp in Egypt, except that, if it bites in the winter, it has no effect, either for some other reason, or because the animal does not move easily when numbed by the cold, and is quite powerless, unless it is warmed.

143 [link to original Greek text] They say that there is a kind of prickly pear in Ceos, and that, if one is pricked by a thorn, one dies.

144 [link to original Greek text] In Mysia they say that there is a species of white bear which lets out so foul a breath when it is hunted that it causes the flesh of the dogs to decompose: it has the same effect upon all other kinds of animals, and makes them uneatable. But if one forces one's way close to them, they let out of their mouths a quantity of phlegm, which apparently blows at the faces of dogs and men alike, so as to choke and blind them.

145 [link to original Greek text] In Arabia they say there is a species of hyaena, which, when it sees a beast in front, or comes into the shadow of a man, produces dumbness, and such paralysis that it is impossible to move the body. It has the same effect on dogs.

146 [link to original Greek text] In Syria they say there is a beast called the lion-killer; for the lion apparently dies when it eats of it. The lion does not do this deliberately but avoids the animal; but when the hunters catch the animal and sprinkle white meal over it to cook it, as p315they would with another animal, on tasting it they are said to die at once. This beast hurts a lion if it even makes water on it.

147 [link to original Greek text] bVultures are said to die from the scent of myrrh, if anyone smears it on them, or gives them anything steeped in myrrh to eat. In the same way beetles are said to die from the scent of roses.

148 [link to original Greek text] In Sicily and in Italy they say that the bite of the spotted lizard is mortal, and not harmless and slight as with us. There is also a kind of mouse which when it bites, causes death.

149 [link to original Greek text] In Mesopotamia in Syria, and in Istrus, there is said to be a small snake, which does not bite the natives, but does grievous harm to strangers.

150 [link to original Greek text] They say this happens particularly about the Euphrates. They say that apparently they often swim about the mouths of the river, and to one of the banks, so that, though seen there in the evening, at dawn they appear on the other side, and do not bite the Syrians who rest there, but do not refrain from the Greeks.

151 [link to original Greek text] In Thessaly they say that the sacred snake destroys everyone, not only if it bites, but even if it touches them. Consequently, when it appears and they hear the sound it makes (it appears but rarely), snakes, vipers, and all other wild beasts avoid it. It is not of great, but only moderate size. They say that once in Tenos, the Thessalian city, one was killed by a woman, and this was the manner of its death.f A woman drew a circle on the ground and putting drugs in the circle, entered it, she and her son, and p317then imitated the cry of the creature; the snake replied and approached. While it was replying the woman became sleepy, and as it approached still nearer she could not control her sleepiness. But her son sat by her side, and aroused her by striking her at her command, and said that, if she went to sleep., both she and he would die; but that if she restrained herself and attracted the creature they would be saved. But when the snake approached the circle, it was immediately withered up.

152 [link to original Greek text] It is said about Tyana that there is some water sacred to Zeus, God of oaths (they call it Asbamaeum) from which a very cold stream arises and bubbles as cauldrons do. 846aTo men who keep their oaths this water is sweet and kindly, but to perjurers judgement is close at their heels. For the water leaps at their eyes, their hands and their feet, and they are seized with dropsy and consumption; and it is impossible for them to get away before it happens, but they are rooted to the spot lamenting by the water, and confessing their perjuries.

153 [link to original Greek text] At Athens they say that the sacred olive branch sprouted in a single day, and became bigger, and then quickly contracted again.

154 [link to original Greek text] When the crater on Etna erupted, and lava was carried here and there over the land like a swollen stream, all the pious paid honour to the god. Some young men were encircled by the stream, because they were bearing their aged parents on their shoulders, and saving them; but the fiery stream parted in two, and part of the flame went one side and part the other, and preserved the young men unharmed together with their parents.g

p319 155 [link to original Greek text] It is said that Pheidias the sculptor, when he was making the statue of Athene on the Acropolis, carved his own head in the centre of the shield, and fastened it to the statue by some mysterious craftsmanship, so that anyone wishing to remove it could only do so by breaking up and spoiling the whole statue.

156 [link to original Greek text] They say that the statue of Bitys in Argos killed the man who was responsible for the death of Bitys by falling on him when he was looking at it. One would suppose that this kind of thing does not happen at random.

157 [link to original Greek text] They say that dogs only pursue wild beasts as far as the peaks of the so‑called Black Mountains, and that, when they have followed them as far as this, they turn back.

158 [link to original Greek text] At the river Phasis they say that a stick grows called "white leaf," which jealous husbands pluck, and put round the bridal chamber and so preserve their marriage inviolate.

159 [link to original Greek text] At the Tigris they say there is a stone, called in foreign tongue "Modon," of a very white colour; any man who holds it suffers no harm from wild beasts.

160 [link to original Greek text] At the Scamander there is said to be a wild herb called sistrus, very like the chick‑pea, and it has seeds that shake, whence it derives its name.h Those who possess it need not fear anything supernatural or any apparition.

161 [link to original Greek text] In Libya there is a vine which some call mad, bwhich ripens some of its fruit, but keeps the rest unripe, and some even in flower for a short time.

162 [link to original Greek text] Near the mountain Sipylus they say that there p321is a stone in the shape of a cylinder, which when pious sons find it they place in the shrine of the mother of the gods, and never err in the matter of impiety, but are always affectionate to their fathers.

163 [link to original Greek text] In the mountain Taygetus they say there is a wild herb called "charisia" which women hang round their necks at the beginning of spring, and are more affectionately loved by their husbands.

164 [link to original Greek text] Othrys is a mountain in Thessaly, which breeds snakes called Sepes, which have not one colour, but are always like the ground on which they live. Some of them have the colour of land snails. In others the scales are green. But those that live in sandy places are like the sand in colour. When they bite they produce thirst. Their bite is not fierce and fiery, but it is unpleasant.

165 [link to original Greek text] When the male adder associates with the female, the female bites off its head. And so the young ones, as though avenging the death of their father, bite through their mother's belly.

166 [link to original Greek text] In the river Nile they say that there is a stone like a bean: if dogs see it, they do not bark. But this helps those who are possessed by an evil spirit; for, as soon as their noses are put against it, the evil spirit leaves them.

167 [link to original Greek text] In the river Maeander there is said to be a stone called "wise" by contradiction; for, if one puts it into anyone's lap, he goes mad, and murders one of his relations.

168 [link to original Greek text] The rivers Rhenus and Ister flow northwards, p323the one past the Germans, the other past the Paeonians. In summer their stream is navigable, but in winter, when it is frozen by ice, they ride on it, as though it were dry land.

169 [link to original Greek text] Near the city of Thurium they say that there are two rivers, Sybaris and Crathis. The Sybaris makes those who drink from it timorous, but the Crathis makes men who bathe in it golden-haired.

170 [link to original Greek text] In Euboea there are two rivers; cattle that drink from one become white; it is called Cerbes; the other is called Neleus, which makes them black.

171 [link to original Greek text] 847aBy the river Lycormas a wild herb grows in the shape of a spear, which is very valuable as a cure for blindness.

172 [link to original Greek text] They say that the spring at Syracuse in Sicily called Arethusa only moves every five years.

173 [link to original Greek text] On the mountain Berecynthus there is said to be a stone called "Dagger." If anyone finds it when the mysteries of Hecate are being celebrated, he becomes mad, as Eudoxus says.

174 [link to original Greek text] On Mount Tmolus they say that there is a stone like ivy which changes its colour four times a day; it is seen by girls who have not reached the age of discretion.

175 [link to original Greek text] bAt the altar of Artemis Orthosia a golden bull is set up, which bellows when hunters come in.

176 [link to original Greek text] Among the Aetolians they say that moles can see indistinctly, and do not eat earth but locusts.

177 [link to original Greek text] They say that elephants go two years with young, but others say eighteen months; they have much difficulty in producing their young.

p325 178 [link to original Greek text] They say that Demaratus, a disciple of Timaeus the Locrian, fell ill, and became dumb for ten days; on the eleventh, having recovered slowly from his affliction, he said that he had had the happiest time of his life.


The Author's Notes:

1 Probably reindeer or moose.

2 Homer, Od. XII.67.


Thayer's Notes:

a Often also in English, electrum: not the metallic alloy, but, as will be seen by the quick description, amber. See the article Electrum in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

b The Gymnesiae = the Balearic Islands. The "seven" are the seven largest islands in the Mediterranean: Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, Crete, Euboea, and Lesbos (although Lesbos is in fact smaller than Mallorca, the largest of the Baleares).

c A persistent canard in the ancient writers. Strabo (V.2.5) puts it in Etruria rather than in Liguria, and adds a fair amount of entertaining, spuriously precise information.

d The facing Greek text has Μύκαλλα, Mucalla.

e The amazing thing is the time span involved. Diomedes fought in the Trojan War, traditionally dated to the early 12c B.C.; Agathocles lived 800 years later, and that deer lived a very long time.

A similar tale is told of Charles VI of France, who in 1390 as a twelve-year‑old boy already fond of the chase is said to have come upon a deer bearing a collar inscribed Hoc michi Caesar donavit — most often ungrammatically quoted as Hoc me Caesar donavit — when Caesar had been dead for 1400 years. It can be remarked that if michi was the exact reading on the collar, it's a medieval spelling of the word, and the boy's uncle Louis d'Anjou, who organized the hunt, becomes a prime suspect; the aim of the imposture possibly being to raise the boy's self-esteem.

f Thessaly was notorious for her technically accomplished witches; see for example Dio Chrysostom, 47.8 and the note there.

g The story was picked up by many ancient writers, and the brothers memorialized on coins. See the editor's note on Aetna 625 ff.

h From the sistrum, a percussion instrument.


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Page updated: 9 Nov 12