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If you find a mistake though, please let me know! Details here on the copyright law involved. 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. 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. Apparently the colt completed the mating, but soon after bit the camel-driver to death. 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.
When they have eaten it, they immediately pull out the arrows. They do this because they have nothing to defend themselves with, a and 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.
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. 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.
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. They say that it is an excellent cure for strangury and is administered in powdered form. 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. 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. For they say that the greatest quantity is produced from them.
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. 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. For this reason apparently they cut up the mice which they catch in mines. 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.
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 its head is of the same kind as a deer. 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. And among the Bithynians in Thrace there is in the mines a stone called " spinos ," from which they say that fire is kindled. 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.
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. They say that the flow of lava in Etna is neither flaming nor continuous, but that it appears after an interval of many years.
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. 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.
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. 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. Taking a cutting from this the Eleians planted it at Olympia, and gave crowns from it. These being filled with some liquid were petrified, and so were the bones of the men. 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. So the priest takes security from him that someone shall purify the temple. 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.
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. This is proved by the fact that no one has ever seen a nest of large vultures.
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.
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. The cicala seems to sing after the solstice. For men will often approach, and even torment them. 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. 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. 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.
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. The local inhabitants say that Phaethon fell into this lake when he was struck by a thunderbolt.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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East Adriatic in Pseudo-Aristotle’s De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus
Although the work is certainly not by Aristotle, it is nevertheless a very curious and useful compendium of ancient lore, and an important representative of the paradoxography genre. The book will be of interest to anyone with a penchant for paradoxography, with its legends of marvelous plants and animals, along with fantastic tales of myth, history and the geography of the ancient Mediterranean world. The Greek text consists of short chapters. The nature lore portion of the work is clearly indebted to the work of Theophrastus and other scholars of the Peripatetic School and its heirs.
De mirabilibus auscultationibus
If you find a mistake though, please let me know! Details here on the copyright law involved. 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. 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.