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”
“[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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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].”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Of the collections, the Vaticanus is the most interesting and strange. Here are a few sections that jumped out while I translated them today.
15 “In a certain part of the region before Olympos there are trees similar to a tender-leafed willow which people say were once virgins. They changed into these trees when they were fleeing Boreas who was lusting after them. Even to this day, if someone touches the leaves, people claim that the wind gets enraged and immediately blows with a fury and barely stops before the third day”
16 “In the middle of Thrace there is a river which reveals women who have been corrupted through adultery. When their husbands have them drink from the water they also say ‘If you were not corrupted by that water, may you have a son; but if you were, have a daughter’ “
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.”