Wondrous Wednesday: Partridges, Sheep-gut, And Lands Free of Snakes and Boars

Antigonus Paradoxographus, Hist. Mirab. 6-11

6 “This genre of list-making might touch upon those partridges which are described in Attica and Boiotia. Some of them are melodious, while some of them are agreed to be completely weak-voiced.”

Πίπτοι δ’ ἂν τὸ γένος τῆς ἐκλογῆς εἰς τοὺς λεγομένους ἐν τῇ ᾿Αττικῇ καὶ Βοιωτίᾳ πέρδικας, ὧν τοὺς μὲν εὐφώνους, τοὺς δὲ τελείως ἰσχνοφώνους ὁμολογεῖται γίγνεσθαι.

7 “There is a particular thing about sheep intestines—those of rams are silent, but those of females are euphonious. Some suppose this is why that poet—who is a busybody and way too specific—wrote “he stretched the seven strings of female sheep.”

῎Ιδιον δὲ καὶ τὸ περὶ τὰ ἔντερα τῶν προβάτων· τὰ μὲν γὰρ τῶν κριῶν ἐστιν ἄφωνα, τὰ δὲ τῶν θηλέων εὔφωνα. ὅθεν καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν ὑπολάβοι τις εἰρηκέναι, πολυπράγμονα πανταχοῦ καὶ περιττὸν ὄντα, ἑπτὰ δὲ θηλυτέρων ὀΐων ἐτανύσσατο χορδάς.

8 “No less amazing than this but a little more well known concerns the thorn in Sicily which is called kaktos. Whenever a deer stumbles onto it and is wounded, its bones become soundless and useless for flutes. This is how Philêtas also has explained it when he said “The fawn could sing once it loses its life / if it has guarded against the strike of the sharp kaktos.”

8 Οὐχ ἧττον δὲ τούτου θαυμαστόν, καθωμιλημένον δὲ μᾶλλον τὸ περὶ τὴν ἐν τῇ Σικελίᾳ ἄκανθαν τὴν καλουμένην κάκτον· εἰς ἣν ὅταν ἔλαφος ἐμβῇ καὶ τραυματισθῇ, τὰ ὀστᾶ ἄφωνα καὶ ἄχρηστα πρὸς αὐλοὺς ἴσχει.  ὅθεν καὶ ὁ Φιλητᾶς  ἐξηγήσατο περὶ αὐτῆς εἴπας·

          γηρύσαιτο δὲ νεβρὸς ἀπὸ ζωὴν ὀλέσασα, / ὀξείης κάκτου τύμμα φυλαξαμένη.

9 “In the Islands of the Lemnians, which are called the Neai, there are no partridges and if anyone brings some, they die. Some report a situation more ominous than this—that [they die] when they see the land.”

9᾿Εν δὲ ταῖς τῶν Λημνίων νήσοις ταῖς καλουμέναις Νέαις πέρδικες οὐ γίνονται, ἀλλὰ κἂν κομίσῃ τις ἀπόλλυνται. ἔνιοι δὲ τούτου τερατωδέστερον ἱστοροῦσιν, ὅτι κἂν ἴδωσιν τὴν χώραν.

10“Even though Boiotia possesses a multitude of molerats, this animal is absent only in Korôneia and it dies if it is brought in. It is the same way with wolves and owls in Crete, a place where they say the land will not abide any deadly animals.”

10 Τῆς δὲ Βοιωτίας ἐχούσης πλήθει πολλοὺς ἀσπάλακας, ἐν τῇ Κορωνικῇ μόνῃ οὐ γίνεσθαι τοῦτο τὸ ζῷον, ἀλλὰ κἂν εἰσαχθῇ τελευτᾶν. καθάπερ οἱ <λύκοι καὶ αἱ> γλαῦκες ἐν Κρήτῃ, ἐν ᾗ λέγουσιν οὐδὲ ζῷον θανάσιμον οὐδὲν τὴν χώραν φέρειν.

11 “In Astupalaia there are no snakes, nor hares in Ithaka, nor a wild boar in Libya nor deer, nor is there a weasel in Rheneia near Delos, nor is there a guinea-fowl to be seen anywhere on Leros.”

 ᾿Εν ᾿Αστυπαλαίᾳ δὲ ὄφεις οὐ γίνονται, οὐδὲ ἐν ᾿Ιθάκῃ λαγῶς, οὐδὲ ἐν Λιβύῃ ὗς ἀγρία οὐδὲ ἔλαφοι, οὐδ’ ἐν ῾Ρηνείᾳ τῇ πρὸς Δήλῳ γαλῆ, οὐδὲ μελεαγρὶς οὐδαμοῦ ἄλλῃ <ἢ ἐν Λέρῳ> ὁρᾶται.

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