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Bill Thayer

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On the Intelligence of Animals​a
(Πότερα τῶν ζῴων φρονιμωτέρα, τὰ χερσαῖα ἢ τὰ ἔνυδρα)


The essay appears in pp309‑491 of Vol. XII of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1957. The Greek text and the English translation (by William Helmbold) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1985 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.)

The Text on LacusCurtius

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

The work is long enough to warrant presenting it in several webpages. Although divided at what I feel are natural breaks, these "Parts" are my own, and merely for convenience: they have no authority.

The Greek text is not yet onsite.

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the little table of contents below, the pages are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Editor's Introduction


        page numbers
Casaubon Loeb

Μέρος Α´

Part 1



Μέρος Β´

Part 2



Μέρος Γ´

Part 3



[image ALT: A close‑up photograph of a Labrador-mix Dog in a pensive mood. It is my icon for Plutarch's essay on the Intelligence of Animals.]

The background of the icon I use to indicate this work is in the same hue of purple I use in the Roman Gazetteer section of the site as the background for Roman monuments of the Imperial period, to which our author belongs; the intelligent animal is my dog WhiteSox. (He was not always this alert.)


a The obvious intelligence of animals is such that only human ego can deny it (my Dog, above, understood at least eighty words of English and two or three in French and Italian — and sometimes got the drift of conversations not addressed to him — so tell me, how many words of Dog do you understand?); not surprising, therefore, that Plutarch has by no means exhausted the instances that might be told. Here is one of my favorites, from the wilderness of 18c Tennessee.

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Page updated: 31 May 19