We have posted about the strange story of Erikhthonios before, but this account not only contains an aetiological myth for the absence of crows but also has some strange details, like Athena trying to bring a mountain to Athens. Antigonus of Carystus allegedly compiled his collections of wonders in the 3rd Century BCE.
Antigonus Paradoxographus, Historiae Mirabiles 12
“Amelêsagoras the Athenian, author of the Atthis, claims that the crow does not fly to the Akropolis and that no one can say he has seen it happen. He provides the cause of this as a myth.
For he says that when Athena was given to Hephaestos that she disappeared right after she laid down with him and Hephaistos ejaculated his seed on the ground. The earth later produced for Hephaestos Erikhthonios whom Athena cared for but then closed in a basket and handed over to the daughters of Kekrops, Agraulos, Pandrosos, and Hersê. She told them not to open the basket until she returned.
When she left for Pellênê to bring back a mountain in order to make a defensive barrier before the city, two of Kekrops’ daughters—Agraulos and Pandrosos—opened the basket and saw two snakes around Erikhthonios.
[Amelêsagoras] claims that a crow went to Athena as she was carrying the mountain which is now called Lykabettos and told her that Erikhthonios was in the open. When she heard this, she threw the mountain to where it is now, said tat it would no longer right for the crow to go to the Akropolis because of his evil message.”
Here is the second half of the Paradoxographus Palatinus: Admiranda.This collection is extremely difficult to date and may hail from Byzantine Greece. As with some of the other paradoxographoi these are new translations, so corrections or questions are welcome.
11 “Artemidoros says that among the Liparitanoi fish are found by digging and that the people there use the dug fish unsparingly for snacking.”
12 “Andronikos says that in Hispania in some place pebbles are found strewn about with many angles, grown on their own—some are white and others are wax-colored; they give birth to pebbles like them.
I also used to have one of these for testing which was produced at my home which showed that the story was not a lie. He also says that there is a certain spring in Hispania which has water which is sweet and potable. If someone puts his hands in the water and holds them their for a short time he will find white salt embedded around his hands.”
14 “In Selasphoros an herb is found which when people use it in the spring there they rid themselves of yellow bile, but in the spring black bile, and phlegm if they use it in the winter. It leads out the portion of those which is unmixed of every other. [?]”
15 “Kallimachus says that in Thrace there are two rivers named Keron and Neleus. He adds that flocks who are there for grazing turn white from the Neleus, but those who take from both waters become multi-colored.”
18 “Athenaios says that there is a tree among the Persians which bears some kind of deadly fruit, which the Persians, when Kambyses led his army against Egypt, took to Egypt and planted in many places so that the Egyptians died when they encountered the fruit. The tree transforms the earth to endure the fruit unharmed and they call it Persaia because it was planted by the Persians”
19 “Theopompos says that in the land of the Agrioi of Thrace there is a river called Pontos which carries burning stones. When these are lit they do not burn as they are turned under the rapids but when they appear from under the water they reignite. Nothing that moves can endure the smell of these stones.”
20 “Antigonos says [of sheep intestines] that those of rams are voiceless, but those from females can sing. This fact has not escaped the poet, for he says “He stretching the seven strings from female sheep.”
Apollonios the Paradoxographer is credited with a text of 51 anecdotes usually dated to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. Some of these translations are pretty rough. Here I am pretty uncertain about number 22
Apollonius, Historiae Mirabiles 21-27
21 “Of those observed animals there is the fact that cloven-hoofed creatures alone of the animals have backward-facing ankles. In his Natural Problems, Aristotle explains that the reason for this is in the hind-legs and not the front legs. For nature has made nothing in vain.”
23“It is especially wondrous how the sun shines upon us—that it is not holy fire, and the adamant does not warm when it is inflamed; and also marvelous is the fact that the magnet stone attracts when it is day and at night it attracts less or not completely” [?]
25 “Aristotle says in his work On Drunkenness that Andrôn the Argive ate many salty things through his entire life and died without thirst and without drinking. While he was going to Ammon for a second time on a road without water and dining on dry grain, he brought no liquid. He did this for his entire life.”
26 “In his work On Life and Death, Aristotle says that a tortoise lives when deprived of a heart. But he nevertheless does not specify what kind of tortoise, whether it is a land animal or one who lives in the sea.”
27 “Aristotle, in his works on Animal Matters—for he has two publications, one On Animals and another, On Animal Matters—says that lice do not die on heads because of disease in long lives, but when they are about to die while they are suffering, they are find their way to the base of the head and leave it.”
Apollonius Paradoxographus, Historiae Mirabiles 49
“These things are worth knowing. Theophrastos has explained them in is work On Enthusiasm. For he says that music heals when suffering afflicts the soul and the body such as desperation, phobias, and the madnesses of belief which are more serious. For instrumental flute music, he continues, heals both hip pain and epilepsy.
Similarly is the power attributed to Aristoxenos the musician when he came—for he was getting a prophecy from the prophet of his sister Pasiphilê—for resuscitated a person in Thebes who was bewitched by the sound of a trumpet. For when he heard it he yelled out so much that he behaved indecently. If someone at any point even in war should blow the trumpet, then he should suffer much worse in his madness. So, he exposed him bit by bit to the flute—and, as one might say, he used this as an introduction for him to endure the trumpet as well.
The flute heals even if some part of the body is in pain. When the body is subject to flute music, let the instrumental music persist for five days at least. The toil will be surprisingly less on the first day and the second. This application of the flute treatment is common even elsewhere, but especially so in Thebes up to this day.”
There are similar accounts from Pythagorean Traditions
Porphyry, On the Life of Pythagoras
30. “[Pythagoras] healed psychic and bodily sufferings with rhythm, songs, and incantations. He adapted these treatments to his companions, while he himself heard the harmony of everything because he could understand the unity of the spheres and the harmonies of the stars moving with them. It is not our nature to hear this in the least.”
32. “Diogenes says that Pythagoras encouraged all men to avoid ambition and lust for fame, because they especially inculcate envy, and also to stay away from large crowds. He used to convene gatherings at his house at dawn himself, accompanying his singing to the lyre and singing some ancient songs of Thales. And he also sang the songs of Hesiod and Homer, as many as appeared to calm his spirit. He would also dance some dances which he believed brought good mobility and health to the body. He used to take walks himself but not with a crowd, taking only two or three companions to shrines or groves, finding the most peaceful and beautiful places.”
33. “He loved his friends overmuch and was the first to declare that friends possessions are common and that a friend is another self. When they were healthy, he always talked to them; when they were sick, he took care of their bodies. If they were mentally ill, he consoled them, as we said before, some with incantations and spells, others by music. He had songs and paeans for physical ailments: when he sang them, he relieved fatigue. He also could cause forgetfulness of grief, calming of anger, and redirection of desire.”
“Pythagoras believed that music produced great benefits for health, should someone apply it in the appropriate manner. For he was known to use this kind of cleansing and not carelessly. And he also called the healing from music that very thing, a purification. And he used a melody as follows during the spring season. He sat in the middle someone who could play the lyre and settled around him in a circle people who could sing. They would sing certain paeans as he played and through this they seemed to become happy, unified, and directed.
At another time they used music in the place of medicine, and there were certain songs composed against sufferings of the mind, especially despair and bitterness—songs which were created as the greatest aids. He also composed others against rage, desires, and every type of wandering of the soul. There was also another kind of performance he discovered for troubles: he also used dancing.
He used the lyre as an instrument since he considered flutes to induce arrogance as a dramatic sound which had no type of freeing resonance. He also used selected words from Homer and Hesiod for the correction of the soul.”
“Pythagoras the son of Mnêsarkhos was present among these men, and first he was toiling over learning and arithmetic and later he did not condemn the omen reading of Pherecydes.
For also in Metapontios when a ship was approaching carrying a cargo and there were people nearby praying for it to arrive safe because of its cargo, he stood and said this, “this ship will appear to you, like a corpse carrying a body”
And again in Kaulônia, as Aristotle says when he is writing about this, he says many other things, and in Turrênia, he says he bit the deadly snake who was biting him and killed him. He also foretold the strife that occurred among the Pythagoreans. For this reason he went to Metapontios and was seen by no one.
And after crossing the river near Kosa with others he heard a great voice beyond human ability: “Hello, Pythagoras.” And those present became very frightened. He also once appeared both in Kroton and Metapontios in the same day and hour.
While he was seated once in the theater, he stretched out and showed to those who were seated that his own thigh was gold. There are other impossible stories about him too. But we should stop the account about him because we don’t want to write only about him.”
Phlegon of Trailes, On Amazing Things: Multiple Births 28-32
“Antigonos also records that in Alexandria one woman gave birth to twenty children in four labors and that she raised most of them
Another woman in the same city produced five children in a single birth; three were male and two were female. The emperor Trajan ordered for them to be raised on his own funds.
Another woman gave birth to three different children in one year.
Hippostratos says in his work On Minos, that Aiguptos fathered fifty sons from Eururroê, the daughter of the Nile.
Similarly, Danaus had fifty daughters from one wife, Eurôpê, the daughter of the Nile.
Krateros, the brother of Antigonos that king, says that he knew of a certain person who in a seven year period was a child, an adolescent, a man and an old man and that he died after getting married and having children.
Megasthenes claims that the women who live in Padaia give birth when they are seven years old.”
From Heraclitus the Paradoxographer, 7 Concerning Pasiphae
“People claim that [Pasiphae] lusted after the Bull, not, as many believe, for an animal in a herd—for it would be ridiculous for a queen to desire such uncommon intercourse—instead she lusted for a certain local man whose name was Tauro [the bull]. She used as an accomplice for her desire Daidalos and she was impregnated. Then she gave birth to a son whom many used to call “Minos” but they would compare him to Tauro because of his similarity to him. So, he was nicknamed Mino-tauros from the combination.”
From Heraclitus the Paradoxographer 15 On the Chimaera
“Homer provides an image of the Khimaira when he says that in the front she was a lion, in the rear a serpent and in the middle a goat. This sort of thing could be the truth. A woman who ruled over those places had two brothers who helped her named Leo and Drako. Because she was an oath-breaker and guest-killer, she was killed by Bellerophon.”
From Heraclitus the Paradoxographer 16 Concerning Circe
“Myth has handed down the idea that Kirkê transformed people with a drink. But she was a prostitute and by charming guests at first with every kind of delight she would mold them towards good will, and once they were in a state of passion, she would keep them there by means of their desires as long as they were carried away with pleasures. Odysseus bested even her.”
14 “Similarly, near Kosê there is a spring which, if you place a container filled with wine in it until it covers the mouth, then it becomes more bitter than vinegar right away according to the same author.”
“Antigonos says [of sheep intestines] that those of rams are voiceless, but those from females can sing. This fact has not escaped the poet, for he says “He stretched the seven strings from female sheep.”
7 “Along a road in Syracuse there is a stream which is neither large nor carries a lot of water; but when a great mob comes to the place and there is a great sound it provides endless water, as Aristotle says.”
8 “In Paliakoi there is a spring which hurls water up six cubits high, making an impression that it is about to wash over the bordering places. But on the whole it doesn’t splash over anything. The people who live there swear their greatest oaths on this spring, as Isigonos records in the second book of his On Unbelievable Things.”
9 “Around the Skotoussa in Thessaly there is a little thing of a spring which heals all the wounds of unthinking animals. If someone breaks wood a little and throws it in after splitting it, it will be repaired. Thus the water is like glue, as Isigonos claims.”