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Part 2

This webpage reproduces the essay
De sollertia animalium

by
ps‑Plutarch

as published in Vol. XII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1957

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!

[image ALT: a blank space]

(Vol. XII) Plutarch, Moralia

Whether Land or Sea Animals are Cleverer

p415 (975) 23 1 Heracleon. Raise your brows, dear Phaedimus, and rouse yourself to defend us the sea folk, the island-dwellers! This bout of argument has become no child's play, but a hard-fought contest, a debate which lacks only the actual bar and platform.240

Phaedimus. Not so, Heracleon, but an ambush laid with malice aforethought has been disclosed. While we are still tipsy and soused from yesterday's bout, this gentleman, as you see, has attacked us with premeditation, cold sober. Yet there can be no begging off. Devotee of Pindar241 though I am, I do not want to be addressed with the quotation

DTo excuse oneself when combat is offered

Has consigned valour to deep obscurity;

for we have much leisure;242 and it is not our discourse that will be idle, but our dogs and horses, our nets and seines of all kinds, for a truce is granted for to‑day because of our argument to every creature both on land and sea. Yet do not fear: I shall use it243 with moderation, introducing no opinions of philosophers or Egyptian fables or unattested tales of Indians or Libyans. But those facts that may be observed p417 everywhere and have as witnesses the men who exploit the sea and acquire their credit from direct observation, of these I shall present a few. EYet there is nothing to impede illustrations drawn from land animals: the land is wide open for investigation by the senses. The sea, on the other hand, grants us but a few dubious glimpses. She draws a veil over the birth and growth, the attacks and reciprocal defences, of most of her denizens. Among these there are no few feats of intelligence and memory and community spirit that remain unknown to us and so obstruct our argument. Then too, land animals244 by reason of their close relationship and their cohabitation have to some extent been imbued with human manners; Fthey have the advantage of their breeding and teaching and imitation, which sweetens all their bitterness and sullenness, like fresh water mixed with brine, while their lack of understanding and dullness are roused to life by human contacts. Whereas the life of sea creatures, being set apart by mighty bounds from intercourse with men and having nothing adventitious or acquired from human usage, 976 is peculiar to itself, indigenous and uncontaminated by foreign ways, not by distinction of Nature, but of location. For their Nature is such as to welcome and retain such instruction as reaches them. This it is that renders many eels tractable, like those that are called sacred in Arethusa;245 and in many places there are fish which p419will respond to their own names,246 as the story goes of Crassus'247 moray, upon the death of which he wept. And once when Domitius248 said to him, "Isn't it true that you wept when a moray died?" he answered, "Isn't it true that you buried three wives and didn't weep?'

The priests' crocodiles249 not only recognize the voice of those who summon them Band allow themselves to be handled, but open their mouths to let their teeth be cleaned by hand and wiped with towels. Recently our excellent Philinus came back from a trip to Egypt and told us that he had seen in Antaeopolis an old woman sleeping on a low bed beside a crocodile, which was stretched out beside her in a perfectly decorous way.

They have long been telling the tale that when King Ptolemy250 summoned the sacred crocodile and it would not heed him or obey in spite of his entreaties and requests, it seemed to the priests an omen of his death, which came about not long after; Cwhence it appears that the race of water creatures is not wholly unendowed with your precious gift of divination.251 Indeed, I have heard that near Sura,252 a village in Lycia between Phellus and Myra, men sit and watch the gyrations and flights and pursuits of fish and p421divine from them by a professional and rational system, as others do with birds.

24 1 But let these examples suffice to show that sea animals are not entirely unrelated to us or cut off from human fellowship. Of their uncontaminated and native intelligence their caution is strong evidence. For nothing that swims and does not merely stick or cling to rocks Dis easily taken or captured without trouble by man as are asses by wolves, bees by bee-eaters,253 cicadas by swallows, and snakes by deer, which easily attract them.254 This, in fact, is why deer are called elaphoi, not from their swiftness,255 but from their power of attracting snakes.256 So too the ram draws the wolf by stamping and they say that very many creatures, and particularly apes, are attracted to the panther by their pleasure in its scent.257 But in practically all sea-creatures any sensation is suspect and evokes an intelligently inspired defensive reaction against attack, so that fishing has been rendered no simple or trivial task, Ebut needs all manner of implements and clever and deceitful tricks to use against the fish.

This is perfectly clear from ready examples: no one wants to have an angler's rod too thick, though it needs elasticity to withstand the thrashing of such fish as are caught; men select, rather, a slender rod so that it may not cast a broad shadow and arouse suspicion.258 In the next place, they do not thicken p423 the line with many plies when they attach the loop and do not make it rough; for this, too, betrays the lure to the fish. They also contrive that the hairs which form the leader shall be as white as possible; Ffor in this way they are less conspicuous in the sea because of the similarity of colour. The remark of the Poet:259

Like lead she260 sank into the great sea depths,

Like lead infixed in horn of rustic ox

Which brings destruction to the ravenous fish —

some misunderstand this and imagine that the ancients used ox-hair for their lines, alleging that keras261 means "hair" and for this reason keirasthai means "to have one's hair cut" and koura is a "haircut"262 and the keroplastes263 in Archilochus264 is one who is fond 977 of trimming and beautifying the hair. But this is not so: they use horse-hair which they take from males, for mares by wetting the hair with their urine make it weak.265 Aristarchus266 declares that there is nothing erudite or subtle in these lines; the fact is that a small piece of horn was attached to the line in front of the hook, since the fish, when they are confronted by anything else, chew the line p425in two.267 They use rounded hooks268 to catch mullets and bonitos, whose mouths are small;269 for they are wary of a broader hook. Often, indeed, the mullet suspects even a rounded hook and swims around it, flipping the bait with its tail Band snatching up bits it has dislodged; or if it cannot do this, it closes its mouth and purses it up and with the tips of its lips nibbles away at the bait.270

The sea-bass is braver than your elephant:271 it is not from another, but from himself without assistance, that he extracts the barb when he is caught by the hook; he swings his head from side to side to widen the wound, enduring the pain of tearing his flesh until he can throw off the hook.272 The fox-shark273 does not often approach the hook and shuns the lure; but if he is caught, he immediately turns himself inside out, for by reason of the elasticity and flexibility of his body he can naturally shift and twist it about, so that when he is inside out, Cthe hook falls away.

25 1 Now the examples I have given indicate intelligence and an ingenious, subtle use of it for opportune p427profit; but there are others that display, in combination with understanding, a social sense and mutual affection, as is the case with the barbier274 and the parrot-fish. For if one parrot-fish swallows the hook, the others present swarm upon the line and nibble it away; and the same fish, when any of their kind have fallen into the net, give them their tails from outside; when they eagerly fix their teeth in these, the others pull on them and bring them through in tow.275 And barbiers are even more strenuous in rescuing their fellows: getting under the line with their backs, Dthey erect their sharp spines and try to saw the line through and cut if off with the rough edge.276

Yet we know of no land animal that has the courage to assist another in danger — not bear or boar or lioness or panther. True it is that in the arena those of the same kind draw close together and huddle in a circle; yet they have neither knowledge nor desire to help each other. Instead, each ones flees to get as far as possible from a wounded or dying fellow. That tale of the elephants277 carrying brushwood to the pits and giving their fallen comrade a ramp to p429 mount is monstrous and far-fetched and dictates, as it were, that we are to believe it on a king's prescription — that is, on the writs of Juba.278 ESuppose it to be true: it merely proves that many sea creatures are in no way inferior in community spirit and intelligence to the wisest of the land animals. As for their sociability, I shall soon make a special plea on that topic.

26 1 Now fishermen, observing that most fish evade the striking of the hook by such countermoves as wrestlers use, resorted, like the Persians,279 to force and used the dragnet, since for those caught in it there could be no escape with the help of reason or cleverness. For mullet and rainbow-wrasse280 are caught by casting-nets and round nets, as are also the bream281 and the sargue282 and the goby283 and the sea-bass. FThe so‑called net fish, that is surmullet284 p431and gilthead285 and sculpin,286 are caught in seines by trawling: accordingly it was quite correct for Homer287 to call this kind of net a "catch-all." Codfish,288 like bass,289 have devices even against these. For when the bass perceives that the trawl is approaching, it forces the mud apart and hammers a hollow in the bottom. When it has made room enough to allow the net to overrun it, it thrusts itself in and waits until the danger is past.

Now when the dolphin is caught and perceives itself to be trapped in the net, it bides its time, not at all disturbed but well pleased, for it feasts without stint on the fish that have been gathered with no trouble to itself. But as soon as it comes near the shore, it bites its way through the net and makes its escape. 978Yet if it should not get away in time, on the first occasion it suffers no harm: the fishermen merely sew rushes to its crest and let it go. But if it is taken a second time, they recognize it from the seam and punish it with a beating. This, however, rarely occurs: most dolphins are grateful for their pardon in the first instance and take care to do no harm in the future.290

Further, among the many examples of wariness, p433 precaution, or evasion, we must not pass over that of the cuttlefish:291 it has the so‑called mytis292 beside the neck293 full of black liquid, which they call "ink."294 When it is come upon, it discharges the liquid Bto the purpose that the sea shall be inked out and create darkness around it while it slips through and eludes the fisherman's gaze. In this it imitates Homer's295 gods who often "in a dark cloud" snatch up and smuggle away those whom they are pleased to save. But enough of this.

27 1 As for cleverness in attacking and catching prey, we may perceive subtle examples of it in many different species. The starfish,296 for example, knowing that everything with which it comes in contact dissolves and liquefies, offers its body and is indifferent to the contact of those that overtake or meet it. You know, of course, the property of the torpedo:297 not only does it paralyse all those who touch it, Cbut even through the net creates a heavy numbness in the hands of the trawlers. And some who have experimented further with it report that if it is washed ashore alive and you pour water on it from above, you may perceive the numbness mounting to the hand and dulling your sense of touch by way of p435the water which, so it seems, suffers a change and is first infected.298 Having, therefore, an innate sense of this power, it never makes a frontal attack or endangers itself; rather, it swims in a circle around its prey and discharges its shocks as if they were darts, thus poisoning first the water, then through the water the creature Dwhich can neither defend itself nor escape, being held fast as if by chains and frozen stiff.

The so‑called fisherman299 is known to many; he gets his name from his actions. Aristotle300 says that the cuttlefish also makes use of this stratagem: he lets down, like a fishing line, a tentacle from his neck which is naturally designed to extend to a great length when it is released, or to be drawn to him when it is pulled in. So when he espies a little fish, he gives it the feeler to bite and then by degrees imperceptibly draws it back toward himself until the prey attached to the arm is within reach of his mouth.

EAs for the octopus' change of colour,301 Pindar302 has made it celebrated in the words

To all the cities to which you resort

Bring a mind like the changing skin of the seabeast;

p437 and Theognis303 likewise:

Be minded like the octopus' hue:

The colour of its rock will meet the view.304

The chameleon,305 to be sure, is metachromatic, but not from any design or desire to conceal itself; it changes colour uselessly from fear, being naturally timid and cowardly. And this is consistent with the abundance of air in it, as Theophrastus306 says; for nearly the whole body of the creature is occupied by its lungs,307 Fwhich shows it to be full of air and for this reason easily moved to change colour. But this same action on the part of the octopus is not an emotional response, but a deliberate change, since it uses this device to escape what it fears and to capture what it feeds on: by this deceit it can both seize the latter, which does not try to escape, and avoid the former, which proceeds on its way. Now the story that it eats its own tentacles308 is a lie, but it is true that it fears the moray and the conger. It is, in fact, maltreated by them; for it cannot do them harm, since they slip from its grasp. 979On the other hand, when the crawfish309 has once got them in its grasp, p439 it wins the victory easily, for smoothness is no aid against roughness; yet when the octopus has once thrust its tentacles inside the crawfish, the latter succumbs. And so Nature has created this cycle310 and succession of mutual pursuit and flight as a field for the exercise and competitive practice of adroitness and intelligence.

28 1 We have, to be sure, heard Aristotimus311 telling us about the hedgehog's foreknowledge of the winds; and our friend also admired the V‑shaped flight of cranes.312 I can produce no hedgehog of Cyzicus or Byzantium,313 but instead the whole body of sea-hedgehogs,314 Bwhich, when they perceive that storm and surf are coming, ballast themselves with little stones315 in order that they may not be capsized by reason of their lightness or be swept away by the swell, but may remain fixed in position through the weight of their little rocks.

Again, the cranes' change of flight against the wind316 is not merely the action of one species: all fish generally have the same notion and always swim against wave and current, taking care that a blast from the rear does not fold back their scales and expose and roughen their bodies. For this reason they always present the prow of their bodies to the waves, Cfor in that way head first they cleave the sea, which depresses p441their gills and, flowing smoothly over the surface, keeps down, instead of ruffling up, the bristling kin. Now this, as I have said, is common to all fish except the sturgeon,317 which, they say, swims with wind and tide and does not fear the harrowing of its scales since the overlaps are not in the direction of the tail.

29 1 The tunny318 is so sensitive to equinox and solstice that it teaches even men themselves without the need of astronomical tables; for wherever it may be when the winter solstice overtakes it, in that same place it stands and stays Duntil the equinox. As for that clever device of the crane,319 the grasping of the stone by night so that if it falls, she may awake from sleep — how much cleverer, my friend, is the artifice of the dolphin, for whom it is illicit to stand still or to cease from motion.320 For its nature is to be ever active:321 the termination of its life and its movement is one and the same. When it needs sleep, it rises to the surface of the sea and allows itself to sink deeper and deeper on its back, lulled to rest by the swinging motion of the ground swell322 until it touches the bottom. Thus roused, it goes whizzing up, and when it reaches the surface, again goes slack, devising for itself a kind of rest combined p443 with motion.323 EAnd they say that tunnies do the same thing for the same reason.

Having just a moment ago given you an account of the tunny's mathematical foreknowledge of the reversal of the sun, of which Aristotle324 is a witness, I beg you to hear the tale of their arithmetical learning. But first, I swear, I must mention their knowledge of optics, of which Aeschylus325 seems not to have been ignorant, for these are his words:

Squinting the left eye like a tunny fish.

They seem, indeed, to have poor sight in one eye. And it is for this reason that when they enter the Black Sea, they hug one bank on the right, and the other326 when they are going out, it being very prudent and sagacious of them always to entrust the protection of themselves to the better eye. Now since they apparently need arithmetic to preserve their consociation and affection for each other, Fthey have attained such perfection of learning that, since they take great pleasure in feeding and schooling together,327 they always form the school into a cube, making it an altogether solid figure with a surface of six equal solid plane sides; then they swim on their way preserving their formation, a square that faces p445both ways. 980Certainly a hooer328 watching for tunnies who counts the exact number of the surface at once makes known the total number of the shoal, since he knows that the depth is equal one to one with the breadth and the length.

30 1 Schooling together has also given the bonitos their name of amia329 and I think this is true of year-old tunnies as well.330 As for the other kinds which are observed to live in shoals in mutual society, it is impossible to state their number. Let us rather, therefore, proceed to examine those that have a special partnership, that is, symbiosis. One of these is the pinna-guard,331 over which Chrysippus332 spilled a very great deal of ink; indeed it has a reserved seat in every single book of his, whether ethical or physical.333 BChrysippus has obviously not investigated the sponge-guard;334 otherwise he could hardly have left it out. Now the pinna-guard is a crab-like creature, so they say, who lives with the pinna335 and p447sits in front of the shell guarding the entrance. It allows the pinna to remain wide open and agape until one of the little fish that are their prey gets within; then the guard nips the flesh of the pinna and slips inside; the shell is closed and together they feast on the imprisoned prey.

The sponge is governed by a little creature not resembling a crab, but much like a spider.336 Now the sponge337 is no lifeless, insensitive, bloodless thing; though it clings to the rocks,338 as many other animals do, Cit has a peculiar movement outward and inward which needs, as it were, admonition and supervision. In any case it is loose in texture and its pores are relaxed because of its sloth and dullness; but when anything edible enters, the guard gives the signal, and it closes up and consumes the prey. Even more, if a man approaches or touches it, informed by the scratching of the guard, it shudders, as it were, and so closes itself up by stiffening and contracting that it is not an easy, but a very difficult, matter for the hunters to undercut it.

The purplefish339 lives in colonies which build up a comb together, like bees. In this the species is said to propagate; Dthey catch at edible bits of oyster-green and seaweed that stick to shells, and furnish each other with a sort of periodic rotating banquet, as they feed one after another in series.

31 1 And why should anyone be surprised at the p449 community life of these when the most unsociable and brutal of all creatures bred in river, lake, or sea, the crocodile, shows himself marvellously proficient at partnership and goodwill in his dealings with the Egyptian plover?340 The plover is a bird of the swamps and river banks and it guards the crocodile, not supplying its own food, but as a boarder making a meal of the crocodile's scraps.341 Now when it perceives that, during the crocodile's sleep, Ethe ichneumon342 is planning to attack it, smearing itself with mud like an athlete dusting himself for the fray, the bird awakes the crocodile by crying and pecking at it. And the crocodile becomes so gentle with it that it will open its mouth and let it in and is pleased that the bird quietly pecks out, with its bill, bits of flesh which are caught in the teeth and cleans them up. When it is now satisfied and wants to close its mouth, it tilts its snout upward as an indication of its desire and does not let it down until the plover, at once perceiving the intention, flies out.

FThe so‑called "guide"343 is a small fish, in size and shape like a goby; but by reason of the roughness of its scales it is said to resemble a ruffled bird. It always accompanies one of the great whales, swimming in front of it and directing its course so that it p451may not go aground in shallows or be cut off in some lagoon or strait from which exit may be difficult. 981 The whale follows it, as a ship obeys the helm, changing course with great docility. And whatever else, creature or boat or stone, it embraces in its gaping jaws is at once destroyed and goes to its ruin completely engulfed; but the little fish it knows and receives inside its mouth as in a haven. While the fish sleeps within, the whale remains motionless and lies by; but when it comes out again, the beast accompanies it and does not depart from it day or night; or, if it does, it gets lost and wanders at random. Many, indeed, have been cast up on the land and perished, being, as it were, without a pilot.344 We, in fact, were witnesses of such a mishap near Anticyra not long ago; Band they relate that some time ago, when a whale came aground not far from Boulis345 and rotted, a plague ensued.

Is it, then, justifiable to compare with these associations and companionships those friendships which Aristotle346 says exist between foxes and snakes because of their common hostility to the eagle; or those between bustards and horses347 because the former like to approach and pick over the dung? As for me, I perceive even in ants or bees no such concern for each other. It is true that every one of p453 them promotes the common task, yet none of them has any interest in or regard for his fellow individually.

32 1 And we shall observe this difference even more clearly when we turn our attention Cto the oldest and most important of social institutions and duties, those concerned with generation and procreation. Now in the first place those fish that inhabit a sea that borders on lagoons or receives rivers resort to these when they are ready to deposit their eggs, seeking the tranquillity and smoothness of fresh water, since calm is a good midwife. Besides, lagoons and rivers are devoid of sea monsters,348 so that the eggs and fry may survive. This is the reason why the Black Sea is most favoured for spawning by very many fish. It breeds no large sea beasts at all except an infrequent seal and a small dolphin;349 besides, the influx of rivers — and those which empty into the Black Sea are numerous and very large — Dcreates a gentle blend conducive to the production of offspring. The most wonderful tale is told about the anthias,350 which Homer351 calls "Sacred Fish."352 Yet some think that "sacred" means "important," just as we call the important bone os sacrum353 and epilepsy, an important disease, the sacred disease.354 Others interpret it in the ordinary sense as meaning "dedicated" or "consecrated." p455Eratosthenes355 seems to refer to the gilthead356 when he says

Swift courser golden-browed, the sacred fish.

Many say that this is the sturgeon,357 which is rare and hard to catch, though it is often seen off the coast of Pamphylia. If any ever do succeed in catching it, they put on wreaths themselves and wreathe their boats; Eand, as they sail past, they are welcomed and honoured with shouts and applause. But most authorities hold that it is the anthias that is and is called "sacred," for wherever this fish appears there are no sea monsters. Sponge-fishers358 may dive in confidence and fish may spawn without fear, as though they had a guarantor of their immunity. The reason for this is a puzzle: whether the monsters avoid the anthias as elephants do a pig359 and lions a cock,360 or whether there are indications of places free from monsters, which the fish comes to know and frequents, being an intelligent creature with a good memory.

33 1 Then again the care of the young is shared by both parents: the males do not eat their own young, Fbut stand by the spawn to guard the eggs, as Aristotle361 relates. Some follow the female and sprinkle the eggs gradually with milt, for otherwise p457 the spawn will not grow, but remains imperfect and undeveloped. In particular the wrasse362 makes a sort of nest of seaweed, envelops the spawn in it, and shelters it from the waves.

982The affection of the dogfish363 for its young is not inferior in warmth and kindliness to that of any of the tamest animals; for they lay the egg, then sustain and carry the newly hatched young, not without, but within themselves, as if from a second birth. When the young grow larger, the parents let them out and teach them to swim close by; then again they collect them through their mouths and allow their bodies to be used as dwelling-places, affording at once room and board and sanctuary until the young become strong enough to shift for themselves.364

BWonderful also is the care of the tortoise for the birth and preservation of her young. To bear them she comes out of the sea to the shore near at hand; but since she is unable to incubate the eggs or to remain on dry land for long, she deposits them on the strand and heaps over them the smoothest and softest part of the sand. When she has buried and concealed them securely,365 some say that she scratches and scribbles the place with her feet, making it easy p459for her to recognize; others affirm that it is because she has been turned on her back by the male that she leaves peculiar marks and impressions about the place. But what is more remarkable than this, she waits for the fortieth day366 (for that is the number required to develop and hatch out the eggs) Cand then approaches. And each tortoise recognizes her own treasure and opens it more joyously and eagerly than a man does a deposit of gold.

34 1 The accounts given of the crocodile are similar in other respects, but the animal's ability to estimate the right place goes beyond man's power to guess or calculate the cause. Hence they affirm that this creature's foreknowledge is divine and not rational. For neither to a greater or a less distance, but just so far as the Nile will spread that season and cover the land in flood, just so far does she go to deposit her eggs, with such accuracy that any farmer finding the eggs may know himself Dand predict to others how far the river will advance.367 And her purpose in being so exact is to prevent either herself or her eggs getting wet when she sits on them. When they are hatched, the one which, upon emerging, does not immediately seize in its mouth anything that comes along, fly or midge or worm or straw or plant, the mother tears to pieces and bites to death;368 but those that are bold and active she loves and tends, thus p461 bestowing her affection by judgement, as the wisest of men think right, not by emotion.369

Furthermore, seals370 too bear their young on dry land and little by little induce their offspring to try the sea, then quickly take them out again. EThis they do often at intervals until the young are conditioned in this way to feel confidence and enjoy life in the sea.

Frogs in their coupling use a call, the so‑called ololygon,371 a cry of wooing and mating. When the male has thus attracted the female, they wait for the night together, for they cannot consort in the water and during the day they are afraid to do so on land; but when the darkness falls, they come out and embrace with impunity. On other occasions when their cry is shrill, it is because they expect rain.372 And this is among the surest of signs.

35 1 But, dear Poseidon! What an absurd and ridiculous error I have almost fallen into: while I am spending my time on seals and frogs, FI have neglected and omitted the wisest of sea creatures, the most beloved of the gods!373 For what nightingales are to be compared with the halcyon374 for its love of sweet sound, or what swallows for its love of offspring, or what doves for its love of its mate, or what bees for its skill in construction? What creature's procreation p463and birth pangs has the god375a so honoured? For Leto's parturition,376 so they say, only one island377 was made firm to receive her; but when the halcyon lays her eggs, about the time of the winter solstice, the god375b brings the whole sea to rest, without a wave, without a swell. 983And this is the reason why there is no other creature that men love more. Thanks to her they sail the sea without a fear in the dead of winter for seven days and seven nights.378 For the moment, journey by sea is safer for them than by land. If it is proper to speak briefly of her several virtues, she is so devoted to her mate that she keeps him company, not for a single season, but throughout the year. Yet it is not through wantonness that she admits him to her company, for she never consorts at all with any other male; it is through friendship and affection, as with any lawful wife. When by reason of old age the male becomes too weak and sluggish to keep up with her, she takes the burden on herself, Bcarries him and feeds him, never forsaking, never abandoning him; but mounting him on her own shoulders, she conveys him everywhere she goes and looks after him, abiding with him until the end.379

As for love of her offspring and care for their preservation, as soon as she perceives herself to be pregnant, she applies herself to building the nest,380 not making pats of mud or cementing it on walls and p465roofs like the house-martin;381 nor does she use the activity of many different members of her body, as when the bee employs its whole frame to enter and open the wax, with all six feet pressing at the same time to fashion the whole mass into hexagonal cells. CBut the halcyon, having but one simple instrument, one piece of equipment, one tool — her bill and nothing else, co‑operating with her industry and ingenuity — what she contrives and constructs would be hard to believe without ocular evidence, seeing the object that she moulds — or rather the ship that she builds. Of many possible forms, this alone cannot be capsized382 or even wet its cargo. She collects the spines of garfish383 and binds and weaves them together, some straight, others transverse, as if she were thrusting woven threads through the warp, adding such bends and knots of one with another that a compact, round unit is formed, slightly prolate in shape, like a fisherman's weel. DWhen it is finished, she brings and deposits it beside the surging waves, where the sea beats gently upon it and instructs her how to mend and strengthen whatever is not yet good and tight, as she observes it loosened by the blows. She so tautens and secures the joints that it is difficult even for stones or iron to break or pierce it. The proportions and shape of the hollow interior are as p467 admirable as anything about it; for it is so constructed as to admit herself only, while the entrance remains wholly hidden and invisible to others — Ewith the result that not even a drop of water can get in. Now I presume that all of you have seen this nest; as for me, since I have often seen and touched it, it comes to my mind to chant the words

Once such a thing in Delos near Apollo's shrine384

I saw, the Altar of Horn, celebrated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World385 because it needs no glue or any other binding, but is joined and fastened together, made entirely of horns taken from the right side of the head.386 Now may the god387 be propitious to me while I sing of the Sea Siren388 — and indeed, being both a musician and an islander, he should laugh good-naturedly at my opponents' scoffing questions. Why should he not be called a "conger-slayer" or Artemis be termed a "surmullet-slayer"?389 Since he well knows that Aphrodite, born of the sea, Fregards practically all sea creatures as sacred and related to herself and relishes the p469slaughter of none of them. In Leptis,390 you know, the priests of Poseidon refrain entirely from any sea food, and those initiated into the mysteries at Eleusis hold the surmullet in veneration, while the priestess of Hera at Argos abstains from this fish to pay it honour. For surmullets are particularly good at killing and eating the sea-hare, which is lethal to man.391 It is for this reason that surmullets possess this immunity, as being friendly and life-saving creatures.

36 1 984Furthermore, many of the Greeks have temples and altars to Artemis Dictynna392 and Apollo Delphinios; and that place which the god had chosen for himself the poet393 says was settled by Cretans under the guidance of a dolphin. It was not, however, the god who changed his shape and swam in front of the expedition, as tellers of tales relate; instead, he sent a dolphin to guide the men and bring them to Cirrha.394 They also relate that Soteles and Dionysius, the men sent by Ptolemy Soter395 to Sinope to bring back Serapis, were driven against their will by a violent wind out of their course beyond Malea, Bwith the Peloponnesus on their right. When they were lost and discouraged, a dolphin appeared by the p471prow and, as it were, invited them to follow and led them into such parts as had safe roadsteads with but a gentle swell until, by conducting and escorting the vessel in this manner, it brought them to Cirrha. Whence it came about that when they had offered thanksgiving for their safe landing, they came to see that of the two statues they should take away the one of Pluto, but should merely take an impress of that of Persephone and leave it behind.396

Well might the god be fond of the music-loving character of the dolphin,397 to which Pindar398 likens himself, saying that he is roused

CLike a dolphin of the sea

Who on the waveless deep of ocean

Is moved by the lovely sound of flutes.

Yet it is even more likely that its affection for men399 renders it dear to the gods; for it is the only creature who loves man for his own sake.400 Of the land animals, some avoid man altogether, others, the tamest kind, pay court for utilitarian reasons only to those who feed them, as do dogs and horses and elephants to their familiars. Martins take to houses to get what they need, darkness and a minimum of security, but p473 avoid and fear man as a dangerous wild beast.401 To the dolphin alone, beyond all others, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage. DThough it has no need at all of any man, yet it is a genial friend to all and has helped many. The story of Arion402 is familiar to all and widely known; and you, my friend, opportunely put us in mind of the tale of Hesiod,403

But you failed to reach the end of the tale.404

When you told of the dog, you should not have left out the dolphins, for the information of the dog that barked and rushed with a snarl on the murderers would have been meaningless if the dolphins had not taken up the corpse as it was floating on the sea near the Nemeon405 and zealously passed it from group to group until they put it ashore at Rhium and so made it clear that the man had been stabbed.

EMyrsilus406 of Lesbos tells the tale of Enalus the Aeolian who was in love with that daughter of Smintheus who, in accordance with the oracle of Amphitrite, was cast into the sea by the Penthilidae, whereupon Enalus himself leaped into the sea and was brought out safe on Lesbos by a dolphin.

And the goodwill and friendship of the dolphin for p475 the lad of Iasus407 was thought by reason of its greatness to be true love. For it used to swim and play with him during the day, allowing itself to be touched; and when the boy mounted upon its back, it was not reluctant, but used to carry him with pleasure wherever he directed it to go, while all the inhabitants of Iasus flocked to the shore each time this happened. Once a violent storm of rain and hail occurred and the boy slipped off and was drowned. FThe dolphin took the body and threw both it and itself together on the land and would not leave until it too had died, thinking it right to share a death for which it imagined that it shared the responsibility. And in memory of this calamity the inhabitants of Iasus have minted their coinsa with the figure of a boy riding a dolphin.408

From this the wild tales about Coeranus409 gained credence. 985He was a Parian by birth who, at Byzantium, bought a draught of dolphins which had been caught in a net and were in danger of slaughter, and set them all free. A little later he was on a sea voyage in a penteconter, so they say, with fifty pirates aboard; in the strait between Naxos and Paros the ship capsized and all the others were lost, while Coeranus, they relate, because a dolphin sped beneath him and buoyed him up, was put ashore at p477 Sicinus,410 near a cave which is pointed out to this day and bears the name of Coeraneum.411 It is on this man that Archilochus is said to have written the line

Out of fifty, kindly Poseidon left only Coeranus.412

BWhen later he died, his relatives were burning the body near the sea when a large shoal of dolphins appeared off shore as though they were making it plain that they had come for the funeral, and they waited until it was completed.413

That the shield of Odysseus had a dolphin emblazoned on it, Stesichorus414 also has related; and the Zacynthians perpetuate the reason for it, as Critheus415 testifies. For when Telemachus was a small boy, so they say, he fell into the deep inshore water and was saved by dolphins who came to his aid and swam with him to the beach; and that was the reason why his father had a dolphin engraved on his ring and emblazoned on his shield, Cmaking this requital to the animal.

Yet since I began by saying that I would not tell you any tall tales and since, without observing what I was up to, I have now, besides the dolphins, run aground on both Odysseus and Coeranus to a point beyond belief, I lay this penalty upon myself: to conclude here and now.

37 1 Aristotimus.416 So, gentlemen of the jury, you may now cast your votes.

p479 Soclarus. As for us, we have for some time held the view of Sophocles:417

It is a marvel how of rival sides

The strife of tongues welds both so close together.

For by combining what you have said against each other, you will together put up a good fight against those418 who would deprive animals of reason and understanding.419


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

240 That is, it is so realistic that one might imagine oneself in the lawcourts or the public assembly.

241 Frag. 272, ed. Turyn (228 Schroeder, 215 Bowra); cf. Mor. 783B; Leutsch and Schneidewin, Paroemiographi Graeci, I, p44; Plato, Cratylus, 421D.

242 Perhaps merely a passing allusion to some such passage as Plato, Phaedrus, 258E rather than, as Bernardakis thought, a quotation from an unknown tragic poet (Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. p869, Adesp. 138).

243 Either "our leisure" or "the truce," i.e. the holiday Plutarch has given his pupils (see the Introduction to this essay).

244 Cf.  Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.1.

245 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.4.

246 Cf.  Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.193; Aelian, De Natura Animal. XII.30.

247 Not in the Life of Crassus, but derived from the same source as Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.4; cf. the remarks in the Life of Solon, vii.4 (82A). The story is also recounted in Mor. 89A, 811A; Macrob. Sat. III.15.4; Porphyry, De Abstinentia, III.5. Hortensius, too, wept bitterly at the death of his pet moray (Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.172).

248 L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, consul in 54 B.C., a bitter political opponent of Crassus and the Triumvirate.

249 Cf. Aelian, loc. cit.

250 Aelian, loc. cit., does not know which Ptolemy is meant; cf. the story of Apis and Germanicus in Pliny, Nat. Hist. VIII.185; Amm. Marc. XXII.14.8.

251 Cf. 975B supra; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.55.

252 Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.5; Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXXII.17.

253 A bird: Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.13 (615 B25); Aelian, De Natura Animal. V.11; Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.99.

254 Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.6; V.48.

255 Elaphrotes.

256 Helxis opheos, a fantastic etymology. Neither derivation is correct, elaphos being related to the Lithuanian elnis, "deer." For the references see Mair on Oppian, Cyn. II.234.

257 See Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.6 (612 A13); add Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.6; V.40.

258 Cf. Gow on Theocritus, XXI.10.

259 Homer, Iliad, XXIV.80‑82.

260 Iris going to visit Thetis.

261 It means, of course, "horn" as above in Homer, Iliad, XXIV.81.

262 Or "lock of hair."

263 "Horn-fashioner," so called from the horn-like bunching together of the hair: see the scholia on Iliad, XXIV.81.

264 Edmonds, Elegy and Iambus, II, p126, frag. 57; Diehl, Anth. Lyrica, I, p228, frag. 59. See the note on 967F supra.

265 Cf. Mor. 915F‑916A.

266 Not Aristotle, as the MSS. read. See Platt,  Class. Quart. V.255.

267 "The section of horn was put around the line. It was therefore a tube. It was in front of the hook as one held it in his hand and attached it to the line. It was therefore at the hook end of the leader. Its hardness prevented the line from being severed. Its neutral coloration prevented the fish from being frightened off. Note that Oppian (Hal. III.147) comments on the use of a hook with an abnormally long shank for the same purpose" (Andrews).

268 A prototype of the Sobey hook.

269 See Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (621 A19); Mair on Oppian, Hal. III.144.

270 Cf.  Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.145; Oppian, Hal. III.524 ff.

271 Cf. 974D supra.

272 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.140, of the tunny; Ovid, Hal. 39 f. and Oppian, Hal. III.128 ff., of the bass.

273 Plutarch seems here to have confused this fish with the so‑called scolopendra (of which he writes correctly in Mor. 567B; see also Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.424). Cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (621 A11); Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.12; Varia Hist. I.5; Mair on Oppian, Hal. III.144; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.145. "There are fish (but not sharks) which can disgorge their stomachs and swallow them again. Note that hasty reading of Aristotle l.c. could easily cause this misstatement" (Andrews).

274 The anthias of the above passage is probably the Mediterranean barbier, Serranus anthias C.V., although elsewhere it is sometimes obviously a much larger fish of uncertain identity. On the identification cf. Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VI.17 (570 B19); Glossary of Greek Fishess.v.; Mair, introd. to his ed. of Oppian, pp. liii‑lxi; Marx, RE, I.2375‑2377; II.2415; Schmid, Philologus, Suppb. XI, 1907‑1910, p273; Brands, Grieksche Diernamen, pp147 f.; Cotte, Poissons et animaux aquatiques au temps de Pline, pp69‑73; Saint-Denis, Le Vocabulaire des animaux marins en latin classique, pp5‑7. Cf. also 981E infra.

275 On this story cf. also Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.4; Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXXII.11; Ovid, Hal. 9 ff.; Oppian, Hal. IV.40 ff. Note also Aelian, De Natura Animal. V.22, on mice.

276 Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.182; XXXII.13; Ovid, Hal. 45 ff.; Oppian, Hal. III.321 ff.

277 Cf. 972B supra; Jacoby, Frag. der griech. Hist. III, p146, frag. 51B. On the community spirit of elephants see also Aelian, De Natura Animal. V.49; VI.61; VII.15al.

278 Juba was king of Mauretania (25BC‑c. A.D. 23).

279 Cf. Herodotus, VI.31; III.149, Plato, Laws 698D; Fraenkel on Aesch. Agam. 358. On kinds of nets see Mair, L. C. L. Oppian, pp. xl ff.

280 Coris iulis Gth. Cf. Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.3 (610 B7); A Glossary of Greek Fishes, p91; Schmid, op. cit. p292; Brands, op. cit. p157; Cotte, op. cit. pp59‑60; Saint-Denis, op. cit. p52.

281 In particular, probably Pagellus mormyrus C.V. On the identification cf. Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VI.7 (570 B20); Glossary, p161; Cotte, op. cit. pp105‑107; Saint-Denis, op. cit. pp65‑66.

282 In particular, probably Sargus vulgaris Geoff. On the identification cf. Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. V.9 (543 A7); Glossary, pp227‑228; Cotte, op. cit. pp104‑105; Saint-Denis, op. cit. pp99, 107‑108; Keller, Die antike Tierwelt, II, p370; Gossen-Steier, RE, Second Series, II.365.

283 A term mostly for the black goby, Gobius niger L., the most common Mediterranean species. On the identification cf. Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VIII.13 (598 A12); Glossary, pp137‑139; Gossen, RE, Second Series, II.794‑796.

284 The red or plain surmullet, Mullus barbatus L., and the striped or common surmullet, Mullus surmuletus L. On this fish cf. Cotte, op. cit. pp98‑101; Keller, op. cit. II pp364 f.; Prechac, Revue d. Ét. Lat. XIV (1936), pp102‑105; XVII (1939), p279; Saint-Denis, op. cit. pp68 f.; Schmid, op. cit. pp310‑312; Steier, RE, XVI.496‑503; Thompson, Glossary, pp264‑268; Andrews, Class. Weekly, XLII (1949), pp186‑188.

285 Chrysophrys aurata C.V., called gilthead from the golden band that runs from eye to eye. On this fish cf. Wellmann, RE, III.2517‑2518; Keller, op. cit. II, pp369 ff.; RE, VII.1578; Schmid, op. cit. pp297‑298; Thompson, Glossary, pp292‑294; Cotte, op. cit. pp73‑74; Saint-Denis, op. cit. pp80‑81.

286 Scorpaena scrofa L. and S. porcus L. On this fish cf. Cotte, op. cit. pp111‑113; Saint-Denis, op. cit. pp103‑104; Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. V.9 (543 A7); Glossary, pp245 f.

287 Iliad, V.487; cf. Platt, Class. Quart. V, p255; Fraenkel, Aesch. Agam. II, p190.

288 Principally the hake and rockling, Phycis sp. and Motella sp. Not to be confused with γαλεός, a general term for sharks and dogfishes. Cf. Andrews, Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, XXXIX (1949), pp1‑16.

289 Cf. Oppian, Hal. III.121 ff.

290 On the alliance of dolphins and fisherman see Aelian, De Natura Animal. II.8; XI.12; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.29 ff.

291 Cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (621 B28); Athenaeus, 323D‑E; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.84; Hor. Sat. I.4.100; Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.34; Mair on Oppian, Hal. III.156.

292 Aristotle, Historia Animal. IV.1 (524 B15); De Part. Animal. IV.5 (679 A1).

293 "Under the mouth," says Aristotle.

294 Tholos, "mud," "turbidity."

295 For example, Iliad, V.345.

296 [Aristotle], Historia Animal. V.15 (548 A7 f.), an interpolated passage; nor can we be certain that it was known to Plutarch. See also Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.181.

297 Or "electric ray" or "crampfish": for the ancient references see Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (620 B12‑23); Glossary, pp169‑172; Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.36; IX.14; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.143; Mair, L. C. L. Oppian, p. lxix, and on Hal. II.56; III.149; Philo, 30 (p115); Antigonus, Hist. Mirab. 48; Boulenger, World Natural History, pp189 f.

298 Cf. the "upward infection" of the basilisk, Pliny, Nat. Hist. VIII.78.

299 The fishing-frog, Lophius piscatorius L.: Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (620 B12); Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.144; Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.86; Strömberg, Gr. Fischnamen, pp122 f.

300 Historia Animal. IX.37 (622 A1); cf. IV.1 (524 A3), IV.6 (531 B6); Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.83 ff.; Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.122.

301 Cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.37 (622 A8); Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.233. Athenaeus, 316F, 317F, 513D; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.87; Antigonus, Hist. Mirab. 25, 50; Aelian, Varia Hist. I.1; and Wellman, Hermes, LI, p40.

302 Frag. 43 Schroeder, 208 Turyn, 235 Bowra (p516, ed. Sandys L. C. L.); cf. Mor. 916C and Turyn's references.

303 215‑216; cf. Mor. 96F, 916C. There are many textual variants, but none alters the sense.

304 Or

"Keep a mind as multicoloured as the octopus,

With the rock whereon it sits homologous"

(Andrews).

305 See Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. II.11 (503 B2); Ogle on De Part. Animal. IV.11 (692 A22 ff.). See also Aelian, De Natura Animal. IV.33; and cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. VIII.122 for the chameleon's exclusive diet of "air"; nec alio quam aeris alimento.

306 Frag. 189 Wimmer (p225); Aristotle says merely, "The change takes place when it is inflated by air."

307 Which confirms Karsch's emendation of Aristotle, Historia Animal. II.11 (503 B21); for Theophrastus and Plutarch must have had "lungs" and not "membranes" in their text of Aristotle.

308 See 965E supra and the note; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.87; Mor. 1059E, 1098E, Comm. in Hes. fr. 53 (Bernardakis, vol. VII, p77).

309 The langouste as distinguished from the homard; see Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.32; IX.25; X.38; Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VIII.2 (590 B16); Glossary, pp102 ff.; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.185; Antigonus, Hist. Mirab. 92.

310 The octopus is worsted by the moray and the conger, which in turn are defeated by the crawfish, which (to complete the cycle) becomes the octopus' prey. The whole engagement is graphically portrayed in Oppian, Hal. II.253‑418. For Nature's battle see, e.g., Pliny, Nat. Hist. VIII.79.

311 Cf. 972A supra. Valentine rose, curiously enough, emended to Aristotle (see Historia Animal. IX.6, 612 B4) and included this passage in Frag. 342. See further Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.226.

312 Cf. 967B supra.

313 Perhaps he is learnedly confuting Aristotimus (972A supra) by drawing on Aristotle.

314 i.e. the sea-urchin, regarded by the ancients as a sort of marine counterpart of the hedgehog because of the similar spines.

315 Cf. 967B supra, of bees.

316 Cf. 967B supra.

317 Probably usually the common sturgeon, Acipenser sturio: see Thompson, Glossary, pp62 f.; Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.28, speaks of it as a rare and sacred fish; see 981D infra. Cf. Milton's "Ellops drear" (P. L. X.525).

318 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.42; Aristotle, Historia Animal. VIII.13 (598 B25 f.).

319 See 967C supra.

320 Reiske may have been right in suspecting a trimeter of unknown origin in these words.

321 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. XI.22. The dolphin even nurses its young while in motion: Pliny, Nat. Hist. XI.235; and cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. II.13 (504 B21 ff.).

322 As it were, the cradle of the deep.

323 But see Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.210, where it is reported that dolphins "are actually heard snoring."

324 Historia Animal. VIII.13 (598 B25).

325 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. p96, frag. 308; cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.42.

326 See Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VIII.13 (598 B19 ff.); Glossary, p84; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.50. They follow the opposite shore when returning, thus keeping the same eye towards the land.

327 Cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.2 (610 B1 f.); Aelian, De Natura Animal. XV.35.

328 A watcher posted on a tall mast to warn fishermen of the approach of a shoal and to give a count. See Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IV.10 (537 A19); Glossary, p87; Gow on Theocritus, III.26; Mair on Oppian, Hal. III.638. Accounts of the ancient tunny fishery are given by Thompson, Glossary, pp84‑88; Pace, Atti R. Ac. Archeologia Napoli, N.S. XII (1931/2), pp326 ff.; and Rhode, Jahrb. f. class. Phil., Suppb. XVIII (1900), pp1‑78. An account of the ancient and the modern tunny fishery is given by Parona, R. Comitato Talasso-grafico Italiano, Memoria, no. 68, 1919.

329 Similarly, Athenaeus (VII.278A; cf. 324D) quotes Aristotle as defining amia as "not solitary," i.e. running in schools. Actually the term is probably foreign, perhaps of Egyptian origin (cf. Thompson, Glossary, p13).

330 Plutarch takes pēlamys to be compound of pelein "to be" and hama "with," with reference to their running in schools. It was also anciently presumed to be a compound of pēlos "mud" and myein "be shut in or enclosed," because of its habit of hiding in the mud (cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. 599 B18; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.47). Most scholars now regard it as a loan from the Mediterranean substratum, although Thompson (Glossary, p198) suggests that it may be of Asiatic origin, since it was used especially of the tunny in the Black Sea.

331 See Thompson, Glossary, p202.

332 Von Arnim, S. V. F. II, p208, frag. 729B (Athenaeus, 89D). Cf. also fragments 729, 729A, and 730. On the place of the pinna in Chrysippus' theology see A. S. Pease, Harv. Theol. Rev. XXXIV (1941), p177.

333 Cf. Mor. 1035B, 1038B.

334 A little crab that lives in the hollow chambers of a sponge. See Thompson, loc. cit.

335 On this bivalve shellfish see Thompson, Glossary, p200; Mair on Oppian, Hal. II.186.

336 Nevertheless, it is a crab, Typton spongicola.

337 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.16; Aristotle, Historia Animal. V.16 (548 A28 ff.); Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.148; Antigonus, 83; Mair on Oppian, Hal. V.656; Thompson, Glossary, pp249‑250.

338 Cf. W. Jaeger, Nemesios von Emesa, p116, n. 1.

339 See Aristotle, Historia Animal. V.15 (546 B19 ff.) quoted in Athenaeus, 88D‑89A; De Gen. Animal. III.11 (761 B32 ff.); Thompson, Glossary, pp209‑218.

340 See Herodotus, II.68; Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.6 (612 A20); Glossary of Greek Birds, p287. Some authorities such as Pliny, Nat. Hist. VIII.90 and Oppian, Cyn. III.415 ff., state that the ichneumon attacks the crocodile while its mouth is open for the plover's operations. Cf. Boulenger, Animal Mysteries, p104, for a modern factual account (see also his World Natural History, p146).

341 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. III.11; XII.15; [Aristotle], Mir. Ausc. 7.

342 Cf. 966D supra.

343 The name and the activity are appropriate to the pilot-fish (cf. Oppian, Hal. V.62 ff.; Aelian, De Natura Animal. II.13), but the description fits rather one of the globe-fishes, such as Diodon hystrix (cf. Thompson, Glossary, p75). See also Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.186; XI.165, who calls it the sea mouse. "Actually the . . . pilot is just a 'sponger' and accompanies the shoals . . . with the sole object of picking up such crumbs as may fall from their table." Boulenger, Animal Mysteries, p105.

344 Cf. the whole passage in Oppian, Hal. V.70‑349 on the destruction of whales.

345 For the unknown Bouna or Bounae of the MSS. C. O. Müller (Orchomenos2, p482) proposed Boulis, a town to the east of Anticyra on the Phocian Gulf.

346 Frag. 354, ed. V. Rose.

347 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. II.28 and Mair on Oppian, Cyn. II.406.

348 See 981A infra; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.71.

349 Cf. Aristotle, Historia Animal. VIII.13 (598 B2); Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.49 f.; Aelian, De Natura Animal.IV.9; IX.59; Mair on Oppian, Hal. I.599; Amm. Marc. XXII.8.47; Thompson, Glossary, pp54, 281.

350 On the identity see note on 977C supra.

351 Iliad, XVI.407.

352 See Gow on Theocritus, frag. 3. Homer does not call the anthias a "Sacred Fish," but merely alludes to a sacred fish; and in later times several were so regarded.

353 The last bone of the spine.

354 Cf. [Hippocrates], De Morbo Sacro (L. C. L., vol. II, pp138 ff.); Herodotus, III.33; Plato, Timaeus, 85A‑B.

355 Powell, Collectanea Alexandrina, p60, frag. 12.3; Hiller, frag. 14 (p31).

356 See Mair on Oppian, Hal. I.169.

357 See 979C supra. They are wrong, for while both the gilthead and the sturgeon were sacred fish, the description points clearly to the gilthead.

358 Cf. 950C supra; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.153; Thompson, Glossary, p15.

359 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.38; VIII.28; XVI.36al. 

360 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. III.31; VI.22; VIII.28al.

For full details, citations, opinions and investigations, entertainingly written in handsome prose, see Sir Thomas Browne, Pseud. Ep. III.27.7.

361 Historia Animal. IX.37 (621 A21 ff.); cf.  Herodotus, II.93.

362 The phycis is almost certainly one of the wrasses, probably in particular Crenilabrus pavo C.V. See Mair, L. C. L. Oppian, p. liii; Thompson, Glossary, pp276‑278; Andrews, Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, XXXIX (1949), pp12‑14.

363 Cf. Mor. 494C; 730E; Thompson on Aristotle, Historia Animal. VI.10 (565 A22 ff., B 2 ff.); Glossary, pp39‑42; Mair on Oppian, Hal. I.734.

364 "Aristotle (Historia Animal. 565 B24) reports that some dogfish brought forth their young by the mouth and took them therein again. Athenaeus (VII 294E) says that the dogfish took the young just hatched into its mouth and emitted them again. Plutarch has a somewhat garbled version of this presumed process, blended with data on the parental care of dolphins (cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.21)" (Andrews).

365 Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.37; contrast the forgetful lizard (X.187).

366 Cf. Aelian, Varia Hist. I.6.

367 See Aelian, De Natura Animal. V.52; and compare B. Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense, p33.

368 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.3; contrast Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.10; Antigonus, 46, of the sea eagle; Lucan, IX.902 ff., of the eagle. See also Julian, Epistle 59 (383C); 78 (418D) with Wright's note (L. C. L., vol. III, p259, n. 2).

369 Apparently with reference to Theophrastus, frag. 74 (cf. Mor. 482B).

370 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.9; Oppian, Hal. I.686 ff.; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.41.

371 See Gow on Theocritus, VII.139; Boulenger, Animal Mysteries, pp67 f.

372 Cf. Mor. 912C‑D; Aratus, Phaenomena, 846 ff.; cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. VI.19; IX.13.

373 As it is to Thetis: Virgil, Georgics, I.399.

374 See Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birdss.v.; Kraak, Mnemosyne (3rd series), VII.142; Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.89 ff.; Aelian, De Natura Animal. VII.17; Gow on Theocritus, VII.57; and the pleasant work Halcyon found in MSS. of Lucian and Plato.

375a 375b Poseidon.

376 For the birth of Apollo and Artemis.

377 Delos, the wandering island.

378 The Halcyon Days (Suidas, s.v.); Aristotle, Historia Animal. V.8 (542 B6 ff.); Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.36; Pliny, Nat. Hist. XVIII.231al.

379 Cf. Alcman's famous lines: frag. 26 Edmonds (Lyra Graeca, I, p72, L. C. L.), frag. 94 Diehl (Anth. Lyrica, II, p34); Antigonus, Hist. Mirab. 23al.

380 Cf. Mor. 494A‑B; Aristotle, Historia Animal. IX.3 (616 A19 ff.); Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.17.

381 Cf. 966D‑E supra.

382 Aristotle (loc. cit.), on the contrary, seems to say (though his text is corrupt; see Thompson ad loc.): "The opening is small, just enough for a tiny entrance, so that even if the nest is upset, the sea does not enter."

383 Belone was usually a term for the garfish and the needlefish, neither of which has spines of any size. Thompson (Glossary, pp31‑32) rightly regards the meaning of belone here as indeterminable. Cf. also Mor. 494A, which is almost certainly mistranslated in the L. C. L. edition.

384 Homer, Odyssey, VI.162. "That there was some religious mystery associated with the so‑called nest is indicated by the close of Plutarch's description." (Thompson on Aristotle, loc. cit.).

385 Cf. Strabo, XIV.2.5.

386 Curiously enough, the Life of Theseus, xxi.2 (9E) says the "left side."

387 Apollo. From this point on the text of the rest of this chapter is very bad and full of lacunae. The restorations adopted here are somewhat less than certain.

388 This is not fulfilled and so is presumably an indication of another lacuna toward the end of Phaedimus's speech, the location of which we cannot even guess.

389 Cf. 966A supra.

390 Andrews suspects a confusion here and at Mor. 730D with Lepidontopolis on the Nile, not far below Thebes, apparently a focal point of a taboo on eating the bynni, allegedly due to its consumption of the private parts of Osiris when they were thrown into the river (cf. Mor. 358B).

391 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. II.45; IX.51; XVI.19; Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.155; Philostratus, Vita Apoll. VI.32.

392 As though "Artemis of the Net"; see Callimachus, Hymn III.198.

393 Homer, Hymn to Apollo, III.393 ff. (as restored by van Herwerden). For Delphinian Apollo see lines 495 f.

394 The port of Delphi.

395 Cf. Mor. 361F; Tacitus, Histories, IV.83‑84.

396 That is, in Sinope.

397 Cf. Mor. 162F; Pliny, Nat. Hist. XI.137.

398 Page 597, ed. Sandys (L. C. L.); frag. 125, lines 69‑71 ed. Bowra (O. C. T.); frag. 222.14‑17, ed. Turyn. The quotation is found also in Mor. 704F‑705A. The lines were partially recovered in Oxyrhynchus Papyri, III.408B (1903); for the critical difficulties see Turyn's edition.

399 Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.24. For Dionysus and the pirate-dolphins see the seventh Homeric Hymn and Frazer on Apollodorus, III.5.3 (L. C. L., vol. I, p332).

400 "The hunting of dolphins is immoral": Oppian, Hal. V.416 (see the whole passage).

401 Cf. Mor. 728A; but see Aelian, De Natura Animal. I.52; Arrian, Anabasis, I.25.8.

402 Herodotus, I.24; Mair on Oppian, Hal. V.448. In Mor. 161A ff. the story is told by an eye-witness at the banquet of the Seven Wise Men.

403 Cf. 969E supra.

404 Homer, Iliad, IX.56.

405 The shrine of Zeus at Oeneon in Locris.

406 Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. IV, p459; Jacoby, Frag. d. griech. Hist. II, frag. 12; cf. Mor. 163B‑D; Athenaeus, 466C gives as his authority Anticleides.

407 Aelian, De Natura Animal. VI.15 (cf. VIII.11), tells the story in great detail and with several differences; cf. also the younger Pliny's famous letter (IX.33) on the dolphin of Hippo and the vaguer accounts in Aelian, De Natura Animal. II.6; Antigonus, 55; Philo, 67 (p132). Gulick on Athenaeus, 606C‑D collects the authorities; see also the dolphin story in Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.25 ff. and Mair on Oppian, Hal. V.458; Thompson, Glossary, pp54 f. Iasus is a city in Ionian Caria on the gulf of the same name.

408 The story has a happier ending in one version found in Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.27: the dolphin dies, but Alexander the Great makes the boy head of the priesthood of Poseidon in Babylon.

409 Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.3; Athenaeus, 606E‑F cites from Phylarchus, Book XII (Jacoby, Frag. d. griech. Hist. I, p340). There are many other examples of dolphins rescuing people, such as the fragment of Euphorion in Page, Greek Literary PapyriI, p497 (L. C. L.).

410 An island south of Paros.

411 Cf. Edmonds, Elegy and IambusII, p321 (L. C. L.).

412 Edmonds, op. cit. II, p164; Diehl, Anth. LyricaI, p243, frag. 117.

413 On the grief of dolphins see Pliny, Nat. Hist. IX.25, 33.

414 Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, II, p66, frag. 71.

415 Nothing whatever is known about this author, whose name may be given incorrectly in our MSS.

416 Perhaps rather Heracleon (975C) or Optatus (965D).

417 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. p314, frag. 783; Pearson, III, p69, frag. 867.

418 The Stoics, as always in this essay.

419 To some critics the ending is suspicious because of its brevity and vagueness; they regard it as added by an ancient editor who could not find the original termination. But the sudden turn at the end may merely indicate that the whole debate is in reality a single argument to prove the thesis that animals do have some degree of rationality (see also the Introduction to this dialogue).


Thayer's Note:

a Iasus was a small and obscure place, and its coins are rare; they do bear the image of a naked youth on a dolphin. A writer in the Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society for 1847, pp155‑156, after describing three of them in different British collections, says:

Thucydides27 speaks of Iasus, as a place which had enjoyed considerable opulence, before it was pillaged by the soldiers of the Peloponnese. Its situation is marked by Polybius,28 as being on the Carian coast, on a gulf terminating on one side by the temple of Neptune, in the territory of Miletus; and on the other, by the city of Myndus. Ancient authors are disagreed, whether Iasus was situated on an island, or on the Carian continent; Pliny,29 Ptolemy,30 and others, give it the latter; Strabo31 and Stephanus,32 the former position.

The silver coins of Iasus were known neither to Eckhel, Pellerin, nor Mionnet: the only one published, hitherto, is to be found in Sestini,33 from the royal collection at Munich. The types on Sestini's coin are similar to those on mine: it only differs by the absence of a magistrate's name, and the name of the city being inscribed at full length.

The type on the reverse of the major part of the autonomous coins of this city, confirm what is related by Pollux34 and Aelian,35 that the Iasians stamped on their money, a youth on a dolphin. The origin of this device is variously stated by ancient writers [and the journal author concludes by following Pliny's account].


27 Lib. VIII cap. 28.

28 Lib. XVI.

29 Lib. V cap. 29.

30 Lib. V cap. 2.

31 Lib. XIV p658.

32 Steph. Byz. v. Ἰασσὸς.

33 Lett. e Diss. Num. tom. V p45.

34 Onomast. lib. IX cap. 6.

35 Nat. Anim. lib. VI cap. 15.


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