Plutarch: Symposiacs, Book II, Question 9. From The Philosophie commonlie called, The Morals. Translated out of Greeke into English, by Philemon Holland of Coventrie, Doctor in Physicke. London:1603. Pages 677-678.


What is the cause that the flesh of those sheepe which have beene wolfe-bitten, is tenderer, but their wooll more subject to breed lice and vermin, than others?

UPON THE FORMER DISCOURSE of horses, inferred there was a speech also, concerning sheepe that had bene bitten by the wolfe; for that it is a received opinion, that this biting of theirs maketh their flesh more delicate in the eating, but their wooll apt to ingender lice. As for the reason hat my sonne in law Patrocles yeelded, as touching the sweetnesse of their flesh, it seemed to be true; for thus he argued: That this beast by meanes of biting, caused the flesh to eat more short and tender, for that his breath is so ardent and fierie-hot, that it is able to resolve and digest within his stomacke, the hardest bones that be; which is the reason (quoth he) that such flesh as the wolfe hath bitten, is sooner mortified, and doth putrifie more quickly than others: mary, for the wooll we were not so well resolved, as suppoing that the same did not breed lice, but rather draw them forth, and let them out to be seene, by a certeine incisive or abstersive facultie that it hath; as also through the heat thereof, whereby it openeth the pores of the skinne; which propertie is infused into the wooll of a sheepe, by meanes of the tooth and breath of the wolfe, which altereth not onely the flesh, but even the very wooll and shag-haire of the beast which he hath worried and killed. And this reason is confirmed by experience and example; for it is well knowen unto us all, that hunters, butchers, and cooks, sometimes with one blow knocke downe their beasts, and lay them along soone dead and breathlesse in a moment; others againe, hardly and with much ado are able to kill them, after many a stroake; and that which yet is more woonderfull than so, some of them infuse together with the axe or knife of iron, wherewith the beast is slaine, such a qualitie that the same putrifieth presently, and will not last sweet one day to an end: others againe, though they be not longer about the killing of a beast than the other, yet the flesh of beasts so slaine, doth not so soone corrupt, but continueth sound and sweet a good while after. And that true it is, that the varietie & alteration occasioned by the sundry sorts of death, and killing of beasts, passeth and extendeth as farre as to their very skin, their haire, nailes, houfes and clees; Homer himselfe doth testifie, who of their hides and skinnes is wont thus expresly to write:

The hide it was of sturdy ox,
Sticked with knife, or brain'd by knocks.

For the skinne of those beasts which die not for age, nor of long maladie, but are killed violently, is more firme, fast, and tough: and true it is, that of those tame-living creatures, which have beene bitten by wilde beasts, the houfes, clees, and nailes turne blacke, the haire sheadeth, and the skinnes become riveled, soone teare and fall a pieces.

James Eason