Flammable Bones and Renewable Eyes: Some Amazing Animal Facts

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 4-8

4 “Aristotle says in his work On Animals that all land animals have respiration—as many as have lungs—except for the wasp and bee which do not breathe. However many animals have a bladder also have bowels. But not all animals who have bowels also have a bladder.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν τοῖς περὶ ζῴων τὰ χερσαῖα πάντα ἀναπνεῖν, ὅσα πνεύμονας ἔχει, σφῆκαν δὲ καὶ μέλισσαν οὐκ ἀναπνεῖν. ὅσα τε κύστιν ἔχει, πάντα καὶ κοιλίαν· οὐχ ὅσα δὲ κοιλίαν καὶ κύστιν.

5 “Many of the animals are bloodless, and and, in general they are animals who have more than four feet.”

῎Αναιμα πολλὰ τῶν ζῴων, καθόλου δὲ ὅσα πλείους πόδας ἔχουσι τῶν τεσσάρων.

6 “Fish do not have a throat[?]. For this reason, if a smaller fish is pursued by a bigger one, it pushes the stomach under the mouth [?]”

Οἱ ἰχθύες οὐκ ἔχουσι στόμαχον· διό, ἐὰν διώκηται ὁ ἐλάττων ὑπὸ μείζονος, ἄγει τὴν κοιλίαν ὑπὸ τὸ στόμα.

7 “Snakes have thirty ribs, and their eyes, if anyone strikes them, grow back again. The swallow’s qualities are similar.”

Οἱ ὄφεις πλευρὰς ἔχουσι τριάκοντα. καὶ τὰ ὄμματα αὐτῶν, ἐάν τις ἐκκεντήσῃ, πάλιν γίνονται, καθὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν χελιδόνων.

8 “The bones of a lion are so stiff that when they are struck often they burst into fire.”

Τοῦ λέοντος τὰ ὀστᾶ οὕτως εἰσὶ στερεά, ὥστε πολλάκις κοπτόμενα πῦρ ἐκλάμπειν.

Image result for medieval manuscript lion fire
British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 6r. Lion

An Elephant’s Love for a Child

 

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 13.85, 606F–607A [BNJ 81 F36]

“The same Phylarkhos also reports in his twentieth book how great a love an elephant once had for a child. He writes this: “There was a female elephant which was tended with that elephant, and they used to call her Nikaia. When the wife of the Indian who cared for her was dying, she handed her child who was 30 days old to her.

After she died, the animal’s love for the child was striking. It could not endure the child being separated from her; and whenever she did not see the child, she despaired. When the nurse fed the child milk, she put it in a cradle in the middle of the animal’s feet. If she failed to do this, the elephant would refuse to eat. After this, all day long the elephant would take reeds from the nearby grasses and chase away flies while the child was sleeping. Whenever the child cried, the elephant would move the cradle with her trunk and help him sleep. The male elephant often did the same thing.”

ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς ἱστορεῖ Φύλαρχος διὰ τῆς εἰκοστῆς ὅσην ἐλέφας τὸ ζῶιον φιλοστοργίαν ἔσχεν εἰς παιδίον. γράφει δὲ οὕτως· «τούτωι δὲ τῶι ἐλέφαντι συνετρέφετο θήλεια ἐλέφας, ἣν Νίκαιαν ἐκάλουν· ἧι τελευτῶσα ἡ τοῦ τρέφοντος ᾽Ινδοῦ γυνὴ παιδίον αὑτῆς τριακοσταῖον παρακατέθετο. ἀποθανούσης δὲ τῆς ἀνθρώπου δεινή τις φιλοστοργία γέγονε τοῦ θηρίου πρὸς τὸ παιδίον· οὐτε γὰρ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ χωριζόμενον τὸ βρέφος ὑπέμενεν, τὸ δὲ εἰ μὴ βλέποι τὸ παιδίον ἤσχαλλεν. ὅτ᾽ οὖν ἡ τροφὸς ἐμπλήσειεν αὐτὸ τοῦ γάλακτος, ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ποδῶν τοῦ θηρίου ἐτίθει αὐτὸ ἐν σκάφηι. εἰ δὲ μὴ τοῦτο πεποιήκοι, τροφὴν οὐκ ἐλάμβανεν ἡ ἐλέφας. καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα δι᾽ ὅλης τῆς ἡμέρας [τοὺς] καλάμους λαμβάνων ἐκ τῶν παρατιθεμένων χορτασμάτων καθεύδοντος τοῦ βρέφους τὰς μυίας ἀπεσόβει· ὅτε δὲ κλαίοι, τῆι προβοσκίδι τὴν σκάφην ἐκίνει καὶ κατεκοίμιζεν αὐτό. τὸ δ᾽ αὐτὸ ἐποίει καὶ ὁ ἄρρην ἐλέφας πολλάκις.»

Red elephant outline at the Jain temple of Sravanabelagola.

Festivals for Women and Different Marriage Customs

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 25-28, 45

25 “Among the Iberians there is a tribe [and] and in a certain festival they honor women with gifts, however so many demonstrate at that time that they can weave the most numerous and beautiful cloaks.”

Παρὰ τοῖς ῎Ιβηρσιν ἔθνος ἐστὶ ἐν ἑορτῇ τινι τὰς γυναῖκας τιμῶν δώροις, ὅσαι ἂν πλεῖστα καὶ κάλλιστα ἱμάτια ὑφήνασαι τότε ἐπιδείξωσιν.

26 “Among the Krobuzoi it is the custom to mourn when an infant is born and consider the one who dies lucky”

Παρὰ Κροβύζοις ἔθος ἐστὶ τὸ μὲν γεννώμενον βρέφος θρηνεῖν, τὸν δὲ θανόντα εὐδαιμονίζειν.

27 “Among the Nasamoi in Libya it is the custom that on the first day a woman is married that she has sex with everyone who is present and then take gifts from them. After that, she has sex only with the one who marries her.”

Παρὰ Νασαμῶσι τοῖς ἐν Λιβύῃ νόμος ἐστὶ τὴν γαμουμένην τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ συγγίνεσθαι πᾶσι τοῖς παροῦσι καὶ παρ’ αὐτῶν δῶρα λαμβάνειν καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο τῷ γήμαντι μόνῳ μίγνυσθαι.

28 “The women of the Sauromatoi do not get married unless they kill an enemy man.”

Αἱ τῶν Σαυροματῶν γυναῖκες οὐ πρότερον γαμοῦνται, ἂν μὴ ἄνδρα κτάνωσι πολέμιον.

45 “The Liburnians have shared wives and they raise their children in common for five years. When they make it to the eighth year, they compare the children for their similarity to the men and they distribute to each one who is similar. And that one keeps him as a son.”

Λιβύρνιοι κοινὰς τὰς γυναῖκας ἔχουσι καὶ τὰ τέκνα ἐν κοινῷ τρέφουσι μέχρι ἐτῶν πέντε· εἶτα τῷ ἔκτῳ συνενέγκαντες ἅπαντα τὰ παιδία τὰς ὁμοιότητας πρὸς τοὺς ἄνδρας εἰκάζουσι, καὶ ἑκάστῳ τὸν ὅμοιον ἀποδιδόασι, καὶ λοιπὸν ἐκεῖνος ὡς υἱὸν ἔχει.

51 “The Assyrians sell their daughters in the marketplace to whoever wants to settle down with them. First the most well-born and most beautiful and then the rest in order. Whenever they get to the least attractive, they announce how much someone is willing to take to live with them and they add this consolation price from the fee charged for the desirable girls to these [last ones].”

᾿Ασσύριοι τὰς παρθένους ἐν ἀγορᾷ πωλοῦσι τοῖς θέλουσι συνοικεῖν, πρῶτον μὲν τὰς εὐγενεστάτας καὶ καλλίστας, εἶτα τὰς λοιπὰς ἐφεξῆς· ὅταν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐπὶ τὰς φαυλοτάτας, κηρύττουσι πόσον τις θέλει προσλαβὼν ταύταις συνοικεῖν, καὶ τὸ συναχθὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν εὐπρεπῶν τιμῆς ταύταις προστίθενται [ταῖς παρθένοις].

Image result for ancient greek wedding

Krokotta: A Beast Worthy of October

Paradoxographus Vaticanus 2

2 “Daliôn says in the first book of his Ethiopian Matters that there is an animal in Ethiopia called a krokotta. When that creature goes near backyards it hears people chattering, and especially the words/names of children. But when it goes out at night, it speaks words/names and the children who come out are devoured by it”

Δαλίων φησίν, ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ τῶν Αἰθιοπικῶν ἐν τῇ Αἰθιοπίᾳ θηρίον γίνεσθαι κροκότταν καλούμενον· τοῦτο ἐρχόμενον πρὸς τὰς ἐπαύλεις κατακούειν τῶν λαλουμένων, καὶ μάλιστα τὰ ὀνόματα τῶν παιδίων. νυκτὸς δὲ ἐρχόμενον λαλεῖ τὰ ὀνόματα καὶ ἐξερχόμενα τὰ παιδία καταβιβρώσκονται ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ.

Photios adds the following horror:

“[We should note the fact that] there is a creature in Ethiopia which is named krokottas which is like a combination of wolf and a dog, but it is more savage than both and is heavier in its face and at the end of its feet. It is also amazing for its boldness, and it is extremely capable compared to the rest in its teeth and its belly. For they also tear to pieces easily every type of bone and whatever they take up is consumed easily and their digestion is indescribable. In addition, while some of them have been described as imitating human language, we don’t believe it. Nevertheless, some have added that they call out people by name at night—and that they try to use a human voice in doing this—and then they gobble up whoever comes out as they fall upon them.”

     ῞Οτι ὁ κατὰ τὴν Αἰθιοπίαν ὀνομαζόμενος κροκόττας ἐστὶ μὲν ὡς ἐκ λύκου καὶ κυνὸς σύνθετον, ἀμφοῖν δὲ ἀγριώτερον καὶ πολλῷ βαρύτερον ἀπό τε τοῦ προσώπου καὶ τῶν ἄκρων ποδῶν, ἀλκῇ δὲ θαυμαστόν, ὀδοῦσι δὲ καὶ κοιλίᾳ δυνατώτατον τῶν ἄλλων. Καὶ γὰρ κατάγνυσιν εὐπόρως πᾶν ὀστοῦ γένος, καὶ τὸ διαιρεθὲν εὐθέως δεδαπάνηται, καὶ περὶ τὰς πέψεις ἀδιήγητον. Τοῦτο δὲ καὶ μιμεῖσθαί τινες τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην διάλεκτον διηγούμενοι ἡμᾶς μὲν οὐ πείθουσιν· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ καὶ τοῦτο προστιθέασιν, ὡς καὶ ἐξ ὀνόματος κατὰ τὰς νύκτας καλοῦντες, τοὺς δὲ ὡς ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπου φωνῇ προσιόντας, οἱ δὲ ἀθρόον ἐπεισπίπτοντες κατεσθίουσιν.

The crocotta shows up elsewhere as well (Pliny, Aelian, etc).

Wondrous Wednesday: How Sicily Became an Island and Shooting Arrows at the Gods

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 39-46

39 “Akulios the Roman Historian says that before a cataclysm Sicily was not an island as it is today but it was part of the mainland connected to what later became Italy. It was cut off from the Apennines from a deluge of floods at their roots, and the land was broken at Skullaion and the island was made. This is why that side of Italy is called Rhêgion.”

᾿Ακύλιος ὁ ῾Ρωμαῖος ἱστορικός φησι τὴν Σικελίαν πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ μὴ νῆσον εἶναι ὡς σήμερον, ἀλλ’ ἤπειρον γενέσθαι συνημμένην τῇ ὕστερον ᾿Ιταλίᾳ· ἐκ δὲ τῆς ἐπικλύσεως τῶν ῥευμάτων τῶν ῥιζῶν ἀποσπασθεῖσαν τοῦ ᾿Απεννίνου, κατὰ τὸ Σκύλλαιον ῥαγείσης τῆς ἠπείρου, νῆσον ἀποκαταστῆναι καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ῾Ρήγιον ἀποκληθῆναι τὸ πλευρὸν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ἐκεῖνο.

40 “The Persians punish those who bring harm to a pyre or piss in a river wash clean in it with death.”

Πέρσαι τοὺς προσφέροντας τῷ πυρὶ βλάβος ἢ ποταμῷ ἐνουροῦντας ἢ ἐναπονιζομένους θανάτῳ ζημιοῦσιν.

41 “They say that the Getai play drums along with Zeus’ thunder and shoot arrows into the sky to threaten the god.”

Γέτας φασὶ ταῖς τοῦ Διὸς βρονταῖς ἐπιτυμπανίζειν καὶ τοξεύοντας εἰς τὸν ἀέρα ἀπειλεῖν τῷ θεῷ.

42 “Among the Padaioi, an Indian tribe, the wisest of those who are present begin the sacrifices. And he asks from the gods for noting other than a sense of justice.”

᾿Εν Παδαίοις, ᾿Ινδικῷ ἔθνει, ὁ συνετώτατος τῶν παρόντων κατάρχεται τῶν ἱερῶν· αἰτεῖται δὲ παρὰ τῶν θεῶν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν δικαιοσύνης.

“Alexander the son of Philip ruled the Macedonians for 14 years. He conquered the Persians at the Granicus in his [24th year]. For this reason he used to honor that day especially and sacrified to the gods because it seem that the greatest things were accomplished in that fourth. And if he ever wanted to do something he waited for the fourth.”

43᾿Αλέξανδρος ὁ Φιλίππου τὴν τῶν Μακεδόνων ἀρχὴν <ἦρξεν> τεσσαρεσκαιδέκατος. ἐνίκησε δὲ Πέρσας ἐπὶ Γρανικῷ κδ’· διὸ καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν σφόδρα ἐτίμα καὶ θεοῖς ἔθυεν, ὅτι ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ τετάρτῃ δηλονότι τὰ μέγιστα κατεπράχθη. καὶ εἴ ποτέ τι δρᾶν ἐβούλετο, περιέμενε τὴν τετράδα.

44 Among the Galataians, whoever flees after committing injustice in the worst ways, resolved it if he gave a horse or a trumpet.”

Παρὰ Γαλάταις ἐάν, <ὅσ>τις τὰ μέγιστα ἀδικήσας κατέφυγεν, ἐπι<δῷ> ἵππον ἢ σάλπιγγα, ἀπελύετο.

45 “These same people, when they are making plans about war, communicate with women and whatever the women decide wins the day. If they are defeated while they battle, they cut off the heads of the women who gave them advice about conducting the war, and they throw them from the land.”

οὗτοι περὶ πολέμου βουλευόμενοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἀνακοινοῦνται, καὶ ὅ τι ἂν γνῶσιν αἱ γυναῖκες, τοῦτο κρατεῖ· ἐὰν δὲ ἡττηθῶσι πολεμοῦντες, τῶν γυναικῶν, αἳ συνεβουλεύσαντο πόλεμον ἄρασθαι, τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀποτεμόντες ἔξω ῥίπτουσι
τῆς γῆς.

Image result for medieval manuscript drums
Book of Hours, MS M.1004 fol. 43v -The Morgan Library & Museum

Fantastic Friday 3: Final Adventures in Ethnography

 

Paradoxographus Vaticanus. 56-62 

56 “Among the Carthaginians it is impossible for those who have not served in the army to receive gold tribute. They receive as many payments in perpetuity as expeditions they served on.”

Παρὰ Καρχηδονίοις οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς ἀστρατεύτοις φορεῖν ἐνώτιον χρυσοῦν· ὅσας δ’ ἂν στρατεύσωνται στρατείας, τοσαῦτα ἀεὶ φοροῦσιν ἐνώτια.

57 “The Spartans shame/disfigure their elderly men no less than their fathers. And virgins have the same nude training as men do. It is not allowed for foreigners to live in Sparta nor for Spartans to offer them hospitality. These order women to get pregnant by the most well-formed men, both citizens and foreigners.”

Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς γέροντας αἰσχύνονται οὐδὲν ἧττον ἢ πατέρας. γυμνάσια δ’ ὥσπερ ἀνδρῶν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ παρθένων. ξένοις δ’ ἐμβιοῦν οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἐν Σπάρτῃ
οὔτε Σπαρτιάταις ξενιτεύειν. οὗτοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν παρακελεύονται ἐκ τῶν εὐειδεστάτων κύειν καὶ ἀστῶν καὶ ξένων.

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with on another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

59 “The Ligues hurl their parents from a cliff when they are no longer useful because of old age.”

Λίγυες τοὺς γονεῖς, ὅταν μηκέτι ὦσι διὰ γῆρας χρήσιμοι, κατακρημνίζουσιν.

60 “The Tauroi, a Skythian tribe, bury the kindest of the friends to the kings along with them. And the king, when a friend dies, cuts a little bit from his ear and takes away more when someone closer dies. When it is one of the closest companions of all, he takes the whole thing.”

<Ταῦροι, Σκυθικὸν ἔθνος, τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τοὺς εὐνουστάτους τῶν φίλων συγκαταθάπτουσιν>. ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἀποθανόντος φίλου μικρόν τι τοῦ ὠτίου ἀποτέμνει, ἀναγκαιοτέρου δὲ τελευτήσαντος πλεῖον ἀφαιρεῖ· ὅταν δὲ ὁ πάντων
εὐνούστατος ἀποθάνῃ, <τὸ ὅλον>.

61 “Some of the Skythians, after they butcher and salt one who has died, leave him out to dry in the sun. After that, they string the meat on a cord and tie it to their own neck. Then, whenever they meet one of their friends, they take out a little dagger,  cut some of the meat and give it to them. They do this until they consume it all.”

Σκυθῶν τινες τὸν τελευτήσαντα κρεονομήσαντες καὶ ἁλίσαντες ξηραίνουσιν ἐν ἡλίῳ· μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ ἐνείραντες ἁρπεδόνι τὰ κρέα ἐξάπτουσι τῷ ἑαυτῶν τραχήλῳ, καὶ μαχαίριον λαβόντες, ᾧ ἂν ἐντύχωσι τῶν φίλων, τεμόντες κρέα διδόασι. καὶ τοῦτο ποιοῦσι μέχρις ἂν πάντα δαπανήσωσιν.

62 “The Athenians when they are completing these [rites] to the grave and they bring all the grain, a sign of the discovery of by them of fruits of all kinds”

᾿Αθηναῖοι τοὺς τελευτήσαντες ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἄγοντες καὶ πᾶν ὄσπριον ἐπέφερον, σύμβολον τῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν εὑρέσεως τῶν καρπῶν τῶν ἁπάντων.

Miniature object
BNF Latin 9187 Coutumes de Toulouse, F34v

Fantastic Friday: Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Palatinus 46-50

46 “The Dardanians, an Illyrian tribe, bathe themselves three times in their lives, when they are born and when they die. When they send an embassy to their enemies, they take a lamb and a branch of a tree. If their enemies accept their treaties, they leave what they brought. If they don’t, they take it back again.”

Δαρδανεῖς, ᾿Ιλλυρικὸν ἔθνος, τρὶς ἐν τῷ βίῳ λούονται, ὅταν γεννῶνται καὶ ὅταν τελευτῶσιν. ὅταν δὲ ἐπικηρυκεύωνται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἄρνα κομίζουσι καὶ κλάδον δένδρου· καὶ ἐὰν μὲν δέχωνται οἱ πολέμιοι τὰς σπονδάς, καταλείπουσιν ἃ ἐκόμισαν, εἰ δὲ μή, πάλιν αὐτὰ ἀποφέρουσιν.

47 “Some of the Skythians are called man-eaters because they drink from human skulls. They also make handtowels by working the skin of the heads of their enemies. Then they flay the rest of the body with claws and put them on their horses.”

Σκυθῶν οἱ ἀνδροφάγοι λεγόμενοι ἐκ μὲν κρανίων πίνουσιν ἀνθρωπίνων, τὸ δὲ δέρμα τῆς κεφαλῆς τῶν πο-λεμίων ἐργαζόμενοι ποιοῦσι χειρόμακτρον, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἐκδείραντες σὺν τοῖς ὄνυξιν ἐπιβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

48 “The Sauromatai dine for three days until they are full. They obey women in everything and themselves wear female vestments. If any of their enemies flee to the fire of their hearth and darken their forehead with ashes, they no longer harm them, as if they were a household slave. They do not allow a virgin to settle down with a man before she kills an enemy.”

Σαυρομάται διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν σιτοῦνται εἰς πλήρωσιν. ταῖς γυναιξὶ δὲ πάντα πείθονται, καὶ αὐτοὶ δὲ φοροῦσι γυναικεῖαν ἐσθῆτα. ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν πολεμίων
καταφύγῃ πρὸς τῷ ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας πυρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄνθραξι τὸ πρόσωπον μολύνῃ, οὐκέτι αὐτόν, ὡς οἰκέτην, ἀδικοῦσιν. παρθένον δὲ οὐ πρότερον συνοικίζουσιν εἰς ἄνδρα, πρὶν ἂν πολέμιον κτάνῃ.

49 “Among the Phrygians, if someone kills a farming ox or steals some of the equipment for farming, he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ Φρυξίν, ἐάν τις γεωργὸν βοῦν ἀποκτείνῃ ἢ σκεῦος τῶν περὶ τὴν γεωργίαν κλέψῃ, θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

50 “The Lykioi honor women more than men and are named from the mother not the father. They leave their inheritance to daughters not to sons. If anyone who is free is caught stealing, he becomes a slave. They do not provide witnesses in trials immediately, but after a month.”

Λύκιοι τὰς γυναῖκας μᾶλλον ἢ τοὺς ἄνδρας τιμῶσι καὶ καλοῦνται μητρόθεν, οὐ πατρόθεν· τὰς δὲ κληρονομίας ταῖς θυγατράσιν ἀπολείπουσιν, οὐ τοῖς υἱοῖς. ὃς δ’ ἂν ἐλεύθερος ἁλῷ κλέπτων, δοῦλος γίνεται. τὰς δὲ μαρτυρίας ἐν ταῖς δίκαις οὐκ εὐθὺς παρέχονται, ἀλλὰ μετὰ μῆνα.

Image result for medieval manuscript phrygians
KBR Ms.9961-62 Peterborough Psalter Folio 091v

Fantastic Friday 2: Further Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 51-55

51 “The Assyrians sell their daughters in the marketplace to whoever wants to settle down with them. First the most well-born and most beautiful and then the rest in order. Whenever they get to the least attractive, they announce how much someone is willing to take to live with them and they add this consolation price from the fee charged for the desirable girls to these [last ones].”

᾿Ασσύριοι τὰς παρθένους ἐν ἀγορᾷ πωλοῦσι τοῖς θέλουσι συνοικεῖν, πρῶτον μὲν τὰς εὐγενεστάτας καὶ καλλίστας, εἶτα τὰς λοιπὰς ἐφεξῆς· ὅταν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐπὶ τὰς φαυλοτάτας, κηρύττουσι πόσον τις θέλει προσλαβὼν ταύταις συνοικεῖν, καὶ τὸ συναχθὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν εὐπρεπῶν τιμῆς ταύταις προστίθενται [ταῖς παρθένοις].

52 “If it is impossible to do something, the Persians do not mention it. Among the Persians, whoever considers a new pleasure, obtains heaps of it. [Among the Persians] whoever is discovered by the king grieves throughout his life and drinks a stone draft. Whenever the king dies, all of his claims are released and people take what they want and act lawlessly for three days until, once they arrive at the royal doors, they seek a new king who will resolve the lawlessness. [Among the Persians] if the king designates someone to whip, he is thankful as if he received something good.”

Πέρσαι, ὃ μὴ ποιεῖν ἔξεστιν, οὐδὲ λέγουσιν. παρὰ Πέρσαις, ὃς ἂν ἡδονὴν καινὴν ἐπινοήσῃ, σῶρα λαμβάνει. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ὃς ἂν καταγνωσθῇ παρὰ
βασιλέως, πενθεῖ διὰ βίον καὶ ποτηρίῳ πίνει πετρίνῳ. ὅταν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀποθάνῃ, ἀφίενται τῶν ἐγκλημάτων πάντες καὶ ἁρπάζουσιν ἂ θέλουσι καὶ παρανομοῦσιν ἐπὶ
τρεῖς ἡμέρας, ἕως ἂν ἐπὶ τὰς βασιλείους θύρας ἐλθόντες αἰτήσωνται βασιλέα, ὅστις αὐτοὺς ἀπαλλάξει τῆς ἀνομίας. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ἐάν τινα προστάξῃ βασιλεὺς μαστιγῶσαι, εὐχαριστεῖ ὡς ἀγαθοῦ τυχών.

53 “Among the Indians, if anyone ruins the hand or eye of an artisan he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς ὁ τεχνίτου πηρώσας χεῖρα ἢ ὀφθαλμὸν θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

54 “Among the Egyptians it is not allowed for the illiterate to provide testimony.”

Παρ’ Αἰγυπτίοις μαρτυρεῖν ἀγραμμάτῳ οὐκ ἔξεστιν.

55 “the Libyan Atarantes judge the best of their daughters to be the ones who remained virgins for the longest time.”

᾿Ατάραντες Λίβυες τῶν θυγατέρων ἀρίστας κρίνουσι τὰς πλεῖστον χρόνον μεμενηκυίας παρθένους.

 

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The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 5, fol. 36v

Fantastic Friday: Truffles in Thunder and Other Things Worth Knowing

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, so suggestions and corrections are welcome.

46 “In the fifth book of his Natural Causes, Theophrastos says that the covering of beans when they are placed near the roots of trees dry out the things that are growing. He also adds that native birds who eat these things constantly become barren. Therefore, for this reason and eventually because of many others the Pythagoreans prohibited the use of the bean. For it makes someone flatulent, and dyspeptic, and brings us bad dreams.

46 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῇ ε′ τῶν φυτικῶν αἰτιῶν φησιν τὰ κελύφια τῶν κυάμων περὶ τὰς ῥίζας τῶν δένδρων περιτιθέμενα ξηραίνειν τὰ φυόμενα. καὶ αἱ κατοικίδιαι δὲ ὄρνιθες συνεχῶς ταῦτα ἐσθίουσαι ἄτοκοι γίγνονται. ὅθεν καὶ διὰ ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν, τάχα δὲ καὶ δι’ ἄλλας οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι ἀπηγορεύκασιν τῷ κυάμῳ χρῆσθαι· καὶ γὰρ πνευματοποιὸν καὶ δύσπεπτον, καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους τεταραγμένους ἡμῖν ἐμποιεῖ.

47 “Truffles become harder when there is continuous thunder, just as Theophrastos says in his work On Plants.”

47 Τὰ ὕδνα βροντῶν συνεχῶν γιγνομένων σκληρότερα γίγνεται, καθάπερ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν εἴρηκεν.

48“Theophrastos says in his work On Plants that when the frankincense plant is wrapped with cloths it hinders moths from implanting.”

48 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν φησιν· ἡ λιβανωτὶς βοτάνη συντιθεμένη μετὰ ἱματίων κωλύει σῆτας ἐγγίγνεσθαι.

50 “In his work On Plants, in the last part of the material, Theophrastos says that Eunomos, the Khian and purveyor of drugs, did not [cleanse himself/die] while drinking many doses of hellebore. Once, even, when together with his fellow craftsmen he took over 22 drinks in one day as he sat in the agora and he did not return from his implements. Then he left to wash and eat, as he was accustomed, and did not vomit. He accomplished this after being in this custom for a long time, because he started from small amounts until he got to so many large ones. The powers of all drugs are less severe for those used to them and for some they are even useless.”

50 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ τῆς πραγματείας· Εὔνομος, φησίν, ὁ Χῖος, ὁ φαρμακοπώλης, ἐλλεβόρου πίνων πλείονας πόσεις οὐκ ἐκαθαίρετο. καὶ ποτέ, ἔφη, ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ συνθέμενος τοῖς ὁμοτέχνοις περὶ δύο καὶ εἴκοσι πόσεις ἔλαβεν ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ καθήμενος καὶ οὐκ ἐξανέστη ἀπὸ τῶν σκευῶν <μέχρι δείλης>. τότε δ’ ἀπῆλθεν λούσασθαι καὶ δειπνῆσαι, ὥσπερ εἰώθει, καὶ οὐκ ἐξήμεσεν.

 τοῦτο δὲ ἔπραξεν ἐν πολυχρονίῳ συνηθείᾳ γεγονώς, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ ὀλίγων ἕως τοσούτων πόσεων.πάντων δὲ τῶν φαρμάκων αἱ δυνάμεις ἀσθενέστεραι τοῖς συνειθισμένοις, ἐνίοις δὲ καὶ ἄπρακτοί εἰσιν.

51 “This is a matter worth knowing which Aristotle mentions in his Natural Problems. He says that a person who has eaten and drunk weighs the same as when he is fasting. He tries to provide a reason for this occurrence.”

51῎Αξιον δὲ ἐπιστῆσαι πρᾶγμα <ὃ> ᾿Αριστοτέλης, ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν, εἴρηκεν· τὸν ἄνθρωπόν φησιν βεβρωκότα καὶ πεπωκότα τὸν αὐτὸν σταθμὸν ἄγειν καὶ ὅτε νήστης ὑπῆρχεν. πειρᾶται δὲ καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ γιγνομένου ἀποδιδόναι.

 

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Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

Flammable Bones and Renewable Eyes: Some Amazing Animal Facts

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 4-8

4 “Aristotle says in his work On Animals that all land animals have respiration—as many as have lungs—except for the wasp and bee which do not breathe. However many animals have a bladder also have bowels. But not all animals who have bowels also have a bladder.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν τοῖς περὶ ζῴων τὰ χερσαῖα πάντα ἀναπνεῖν, ὅσα πνεύμονας ἔχει, σφῆκαν δὲ καὶ μέλισσαν οὐκ ἀναπνεῖν. ὅσα τε κύστιν ἔχει, πάντα καὶ κοιλίαν· οὐχ ὅσα δὲ κοιλίαν καὶ κύστιν.

5 “Many of the animals are bloodless, and and, in general they are animals who have more than four feet.”

῎Αναιμα πολλὰ τῶν ζῴων, καθόλου δὲ ὅσα πλείους πόδας ἔχουσι τῶν τεσσάρων.

6 “Fish do not have a throat[?]. For this reason, if a smaller fish is pursued by a bigger one, it pushes the stomach under the mouth [?]”

Οἱ ἰχθύες οὐκ ἔχουσι στόμαχον· διό, ἐὰν διώκηται ὁ ἐλάττων ὑπὸ μείζονος, ἄγει τὴν κοιλίαν ὑπὸ τὸ στόμα.

7 “Snakes have thirty ribs, and their eyes, if anyone strikes them, grow back again. The swallow’s qualities are similar.”

Οἱ ὄφεις πλευρὰς ἔχουσι τριάκοντα. καὶ τὰ ὄμματα αὐτῶν, ἐάν τις ἐκκεντήσῃ, πάλιν γίνονται, καθὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν χελιδόνων.

8 “The bones of a lion are so stiff that when they are struck often they burst into fire.”

Τοῦ λέοντος τὰ ὀστᾶ οὕτως εἰσὶ στερεά, ὥστε πολλάκις κοπτόμενα πῦρ ἐκλάμπειν.

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British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 6r. Lion