Owls, Or Maybe Witches

Aelian, on Animals 1.29

“An owl is a clever creature who is really like witches. It captures its hunters whenever it is caught. So they carry it around like a pet, or, by Zeus, a special charm on their shoulders. At night it guards over them and uses its call like an incantation to release a complex, comforting spell. This attracts birds to come near it. During the day too it tempts birds with a different kind of bait to fool them. It changes its facial expressions as you look and the birds are enchanted and stay frozen with horror while watching, filled with fear by these changes of shape.”

    1. Αἱμύλον ζῷον καὶ ἐοικὸς ταῖς φαρμακίσιν ἡ γλαῦξ. καὶ πρώτους μὲν αἱρεῖ τοὺς ὀρνιθοθήρας ᾑρημένη. περιάγουσι γοῦν αὐτὴν ὡς παιδικὰ ἢ καὶ νὴ Δία περίαπτα ἐπὶ τῶν ὤμων. καὶ νύκτωρ μὲν αὐτοῖς ἀγρυπνεῖ καὶ τῇ φωνῇ οἱονεί τινι ἐπαοιδῇ γοητείας ὑπεσπαρμένης αἱμύλου τε καὶ θελκτικῆς τοὺς ὄρνιθας ἕλκει καὶ καθίζει πλησίον ἑαυτῆς· ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ θήρατρα ἕτερα τοῖς ὄρνισι προσείει μωκωμένη καὶ ἄλλοτε ἄλλην ἰδέαν προσώπου στρέφουσα, ὑφ᾿ ὧν κηλοῦνται5 καὶ παραμένουσιν ἐνεοὶ6 πάντες ὄρνιθες, ᾑρημένοι δέει καὶ μάλα γε ἰσχυρῷ ἐξ ὧν ἐκείνη μορφάζει.
British Library, Sloane MS 278 (Aviarium / Dicta Chrysostomi), folio 31v from bestiary.ca

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