Fantastic Friday: Strange Diets and Xenophobic Snakes

Apollonios Paradoxographus,  Historiae Mirabiles 7-12

“Aristotle in his Natural Problems says that those who are born around the planting of barley are paler and have bodies <subject to excessive mucus> more than those who have exposure to wheat.”

7᾿Αριστοτέλης δ’ ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν τοὺς περὶ τὴν φυτείαν τῆς κριθῆς γινομένους χλωρότερα ἴσχειν καὶ <καταρροϊκὰ> τὰ σώματα μᾶλλον ἢ περὶ τὸν πυρὸν κατασχολουμένους.

“Andron [includes this] in the fourth of is books On Sacrifices, to Phillip. In Attika, no crow is ever seen ascending to the Akropolis. Similarly, in Paphos, the flies are never [seen] flitting about the sacrifices of Aphrodite.”

8 ῎Ανδρων ἐν τῇ δ′ τῶν πρὸς Φίλιππον θυσιῶν· κορώνη ἐν τῇ ᾿Αττικῇ εἰς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν οὐδεμία ἑώραται εἰσερχομένη. καθάπερ οὐδὲ ἐν Πάφῳ περὶ τὰ θυρώματα τὰ τῆς ᾿Αφροδίτης μυῖα ἐφιπταμένη.

The crow motif occurs elsewhere among the paradoxographers

9 “Aristotle writes in his Natural Problems: Those who eat only one thing have more difficult customs than those who eat two types of foods.”

9  ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς προβλήμασί φησιν· οἱ μονοσιτοῦντες πικρότερα τὰ ἤθη ἔχουσιν μᾶλλον ἢ οἱ δὶς τροφαῖς χρώμενοι.

10 “Theopompos [records] in his Wonders that when many kites were struggling in a great gathering in the contest of the Olympic games, and they were tearing many different kinds of meat to pieces, the meat of the sacrifices remained untouched.”

10 Θεόπομπος δὲ ἐν τοῖς θαυμασίοις, ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι τῶν ᾿Ολυμπίων πολλῶν ἐπιπολαζόντων ἰκτίνων ἐν τῇ πανηγύρει καὶ διασυρόντων τὰ διαφερόμενα κρέα, <τὰ> τῶν ἱεροθυτῶν ἀθιγῆ μένειν.

11 “Aristotle [writes] in his Foreign Customs that in Latmos in Karia there are scorpions who don’t hurt the foreigners they strike very much but kill the natives immediately [upon hitting them].”

11 ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ ἐν νομίμοις βαρβαρικοῖς· <ἐν Λάτμῳ> τῆς Καρίας σκορπίοι γίνονται, οἳ τοὺς μὲν ξένους πατάξαντες οὐ λίαν ἀδικοῦσι, τοὺς δὲ ἐπιχωρίους παραυτὰ ἀποκτείνουσιν.

12 “Near Babylon at the crossing of the Euphrates river, there are serpents who strike strangers but not do not harm the indigenous peoples.”

12 Περὶ Βαβυλῶνα δὲ διαβάντι τὸν Εὐφράτην ποταμὸν ὀφίδια γίγνεται καὶ τοὺς μὲν ξένους τύπτει, τοὺς δ’ ἐντοπίους οὐκ ἀδικεῖ.

Book of Hours, MS G.55 fol. 11r - Images from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts - The Morgan Library & Museum
Book of Hours, MS G.55 fol. 11r -from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts – The Morgan Library & Museum

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