The paradoxographical work of Antigonus survives in 173 generally very short chapters, though the end (and possibly the beginning) has been lost. Apart from a handful of the author’s own observations, the ἱστοριῶν παραδόξων συναγωγή is entirely the product of compilation. The work deals primarily with natural-historical and topographical curiosities, but also includes a series of chapters on aspects of human biology.

ἱστοριῶν παραδόξων συναγωγή – Compilation of Marvellous Accounts




1[1] Timaeus, who wrote the history of Sicily, says that where the river called Alex forms a boundary between the Locrians and the people of Rhegium, the cicadas on the Locrian side sing while those on the Rhegine side are voiceless. [2] And he narrates something yet more fabulous than this: for when the citharodes Ariston from Rhegium and Eunomus from Locri arrived at Delphi, they disagreed between themselves about their allotted order of performance — the former thought that he ought not to draw the inferior position since all of Rhegium was colonized from Delphi and had been set up by the god, while the latter inveighed against him that it was entirely unsuitable for those to sing to the cithara among whom even the cicadas did not sing. So although the Rhegine was the favourite to win the contest, Eunomus the Locrian was victorious for this reason: while he was singing, a cicada which had flown onto his cithara began to sing, and the assembled multitude acclaimed the occurrence and demanded his victory.

2 Another such fabulous thing is recorded at Rhegium: that Heracles, when he was disturbed by cicadas after falling asleep at some spot in the region, prayed that they would become voiceless.

3 In Cephallenia, too, a river partitions the land, and while on the near side there are cicadas, there are none on the far side.

4 Nor do the frogs give voice in Seriphus: and a similar also myth prevails among the Seriphians, except that while the Rhegines tell it about Heracles, the Seriphians tell it about Perseus.

5 Myrsilus, who wrote the Lesbiaca, says of the region around Antissa — where the inhabitants point out the tomb of the head of Orpheus and tell its story — that its nightingales are more sweet-voiced than others.


1: Timaeus fr 43 J — Conon fr 1 c 5 J — Pliny XI 95 — Aelian NA V 9 Gk/Lat — Solinus 2 40 Lat — Strabo VI 1 9 p260 — Pausanias VI 6 4 — Aristotle HA VIII 28, 605b 25–26 [cf]

2: Diodorus IV 22, 5 — Solinus 2 40 Lat — Aristotle HA VIII 28, 605b 27–29

3: Aristotle HA VIII 28, 605b 27–29 — Aelian NA V 9 Gk/Lat

4: MA 70 — =Theophrastus fr 186 — Aelian NA III 37 — Pliny VIII 227

5: =Myrsilus F2 — Pausanias IX 30 6


1: Alex — Delphi — Locri — Rhegium

2: Rhegium

3: Cephallenia

4: Seriphus

5: Antissa


1: Ariston — Eunomus

2: Heracles

4: Heracles — Perseus

5: Myrsilus — Orpheus


1: Tettix (cicada)

2: Tettix (cicada)

3: Tettix (cicada)

4: Batrachos (frog)

5: Aedon (nightingale)


6 Our genre of compilation would include the partridges spoken of in Attica and Boeotia, of whom some are agreed to be melodious, others completely weak-voiced.

7[1] There is something singular, too, about the guts of sheep: those of the ram are soundless, while those of the ewe are melodious. [2] One might understand the Poet — who has a real thirst for knowledge and is exceedingly learned — to be referring to this this when he says:

he strung seven strings of female sheep

8[1] Something no less marvelous than this, but more familiar, is the fact about the thorn in Sicily called cardoon: whenever a deer treads on it and is injured, its bones are soundless and useless for the making of flutes. [2] Which Philetas, too, has interpreted, when he said

The fawn will sing after its departure from life

if it has guarded itself from the prick of the sharp cardoon

9[1] No partridges are to be found in the islands of the Lemnians called Neae: if anyone tries to introduce them, they die. [2] Some say something even more prodigious than this — that they die if they even see the land.

10[1] Boeotia has a great many mole-rats: in Coroneia alone this animal is not to be found, but dies if it is introduced. [2] The same is true of wolves and little owls in Crete, where they say that the region will not endure the presence of any deadly animal.


6: Aristotle HA IV 9, 536b 13–15 — Aristotle Probl. X 38–39, 895a 4–14 [cf] — =Theophrastus fr 181

7: [Homer] Hymn. in Merc. 51 — Par. Pal. 20

8: Philetas fr 3 (15), p65 Nowack — Theophrastus HP VI 4 10 — Hesychius s.v. κάκτος — Athenaeus II 71a

9: Pliny II 202 — Pliny IV 72 [cf] — Steph. Byz. s.v. Νέαι [Grk]

10: [1] Aristotle HA VIII 28, 605b 31–606a2 — MA 124 — Pliny VIII 226 — Aelian NA XVII 10. See Steier RE XIV 2 2341 29sqq. [2] MA 83 (q.v.) — Diodorus IV 17 3 (from Timaeus?) — Pliny VIII 227sq (re wolves?) — Solinus 11 11–13 [Lat] — Aelian NA V 2 — Priscianus Lydus p.92 25 Byw.


6: Attica — Boeotia

8: Sicily

9: Neae

10: [1] Boeotia — Coroneia [2] Crete


7: Ps.-Homer

8: Philetas


6: Perdix (partridge)

7: Probata (sheep)

8: Elaphos (deer)

9: Perdix (partridge)

10: [1] Aspalax (mole-rat) [2] Lykos (wolf) — Glaux (little owl)


8: Kaktos (cardoon)


11 There are no snakes in Astypalaea, nor are there hares in Ithaca, nor the wild boar nor deer in Libya, nor the weasel in Rheneia which is near Delos; and the guinea-fowl is not to be seen at all in any place <other than in Leros>.

12[1] Amelesagoras the Athenian, who wrote the Atthis, says that the crow does not fly towards the acropolis, and there is nobody who can say that they have seen one do so.

[2] He gives the reason in fabulous form. For he says that when Athena was given to Hephaestus, as she lay down with him she vanished and Hephaestus fell to the ground and emitted his sperm. The earth, says Amelesagora, afterwards bore to him Erichthonius, whom Athena reared and then shut up in a basket and handed over to Agraulos, Pandrosos and Herse, the daughters of Cecrops. Athena instructed them not to open the chest until she herself came back.

When she went to Pellene to fetch a mountain so that she might make a defence in front of the acropolis, two of the daughters of Cecrops, Agraulos and Pandrosos, opened the chest and saw two serpents around Erichthonius.

Amelesagoras says that a crow met Athena as she carried the mountain, which is now called Lycabettus, and told her that Erichthonius was out in the open. She, on hearing this, flung the mountain to its present position and said to the crow that because of the bad news it had brought, it was no longer lawful for it to approach the acropolis.

13 In the Scythian region, and likewise in that of Elis, there are no mules.

14 Theopompus says that there is in the neighbourhood of the Chalcidians in Thrace a place of the following nature, that whenever any other sort of animal enters it, it comes back unharmed, but that no dung-beetle escapes: it turns round and round in a circle and then it dies: indeed, the place is called Cantharolethrus (‘Beetle-death’) because of this.

15(a)[1] In Crannon in Thessaly they say that there are only two ravens: and because of this, on the city emblem attached to records of proxeny are depicted two ravens on a bronze cart, because more than this have never been seen (it is customary everywhere to attach the city emblem to such records).

[2] The cart is depicted for the following reason (and this, too, might seem outlandish): they have a bronze cart as a dedication which, whenever there is a drought, they shake while beseeching the god for water, and they say that their prayers are fulfilled. [3] Theopompus tells something more singular than this: for he says that while the ravens stay in Crannon until such time as they hatch their young, once they have done this, they leave the young and return.

(b)(16) Ctesias narrates something similar in respect of the people of Ecbatana and Persia. But I disregarded the excerpt because of his many lies: in fact, it seemed freakish.

(c)(17) Myrsilus of Lesbos says that there is a sanctuary of Apollo and a heroön of Lepetymnus in Mt. Lepetymnus, on which, just as in Crannon, there are only two ravens, although there are not a few in the nearby areas.


11: Herodotus IV 192 — Aristotle HA VIII 28, 606a 2sq 6sq — Pliny VIII 120, 226, 228 — Antoninus Liberalis II 6 21sq Cazzaniga. Contra: Virgil Aen. I 184sq — Oppian cyneg. II 259. See J.B. Meyer Aristoteles Tierkunde 1855 p.308

12: = Amelesagoras fr.3 J — Apollonius 8.1 — Pliny X 30 — Aelian NA V 8 — Ovid Met. II 552sqq (cf. Euphor. fr. 9 Powell). Contra: Lucretius VI 749–755. — Also elsewhere (cf Philostratus Apoll. II 10)

13: Herodotus IV 30 — Aelian NA V 8

14: [=Theopompus F6] — MA 120 — Pliny XI 99 — Plutarch de an. tranq. 15 473e — Strabo VII fr.330

15: (a) [=Theopompus F7] — Callimachus F7 — Aristotle HA IX 31, 618b 9–12 — MA 126 — Pliny X 31 — Aelian NA II 49 (cf VII 18) — (b): [=Ctesias fr.36* J.] — (c): [=Myrsilus F3]


11: Astypalaea — Ithaca — Leros — Libya — Rheneia

12: Athens — Lycabettus — Pellene

13: Scythia — Elis

14: Cantharolethrus — Chalcidice

15: (a) Crannon (b) Ecbatana — Persia (c) Mt. Lepetymnus


12: Agraulos — Amelesagoras — Athena — Cecrops — Erichthonius — Hephaestus — Herse — Pandrosos

14: Theopompus

15: (a) Theopompus (b) Ctesias (c) Apollo — Myrsilus


11: Elaphos (deer) — Hys (wild boar) — Lagos (hare) — Meleagris (guinea-fowl) — Ophis (snake)

12: Drakon (serpent) — Korone (crow)

13: Hemionos (mule)

14: Kantharos (dung-beetle)

15: Korax (raven)


16(a)(18) In Latmos in Caria, Aristotle says that the scorpions cause only moderate pain if they sting some stranger, but torment to death if it is a local.

(b)(19) Of the Libyans, there are some called Psylli, with whom something happens in the opposite fashion to this: for they suffer nothing when struck by asps, but of the other Libyans, not one can escape once bitten.

17(20) In Lycia there grows a plant called goat's bane, which none of the local goats will taste, but whenever a foreign goat comes upon it and eats the plant through ignorance, it dies as a result of the destruction of that compartment of its stomach called the 'echinus'.

18(a)(21)[1] There is an island near the regions of Carystia and Andria which is called Gyaros; there, the mice eat through iron. [2] In the island of Ceos, the wild pear is lethal, and if you were to graft it onto another tree, it would cause it to wither.

(b)(22) The sting of the marine stingray does the same thing: if you apply it to the teeth, it rots them.

19(23)[1] There are singular things, too, concerning the formation and transformations of animals, particularly concerning their genesis. Thus, in Egypt if an ox is buried in a certain place so that the horns protrude above the earth and are afterwards sawn off, they say that bees fly out of them: for in the course of rotting they are converted into this insect. [2] And Philetas, who is pretty inquisitive, seems to turn his attention to this; so he addresses the bees as "ox-born" when he says

With long strides first you reached the ox-born bees*

[3](a) They say, too, that the crocodile generates scorpions, (b) and that wasps are generated from horses. [4] And a certain Archelaus, an Egyptian who interpreted paradoxa for Ptolemy in epigrams, spoke thus concerning scorpions:

(a) Into you, scorpions, does nature who gives life to all

things dissolve the crocodile when it has died

and about wasps

(b) From the body of a horse you author this offspring,

wasps: see what nature creates from what!

[5] Aristotle says that scorpions are generated from rotting bergamot-mint [sisymbrios].

*J.L. Lightfoot's Loeb translation

20(24)[1] No less amazing than these examples is the usefulness of cast-off materials. For example, the gecko, whenever it sheds its skin, turns around and swallows it: for it is, they say, as Aristotle writes, a cure for epilepsy.

[2] Likewise, the seal is said to disgorge its whey — this, indeed, is useful for the same disease. [3] Mares eat off the excrescence on their newly born young called 'hippomanes': this is situated on the forehead and is sought for many purposes. [4] The doe buries her right antler in the earth: this, too, is useful in many ways.

These things — whether they be by choice or by chance — demand a great deal of attention.


16(a): =Aristotle fr. 605 R.3 — cf HA VIII 29, 607a 13sqq — Apollonius 11 — Pliny VIII 229 — Aelian NA V 14 — (b) Agatharchides F1

17: Pliny XXI 74 — Dioscorides II 103

18(a)[1]: Theophrastus fr.174 8 — MA 25 — Pliny VIII 222 — Aelian NA V 14 — Steph. Byz. s.v. Γύαρος — cf. Livy XXVII 23 2; XXX 2 9 — [2] cf. MA 143 — (b): Aelian NA II 36 — Oppian halieut. II 470sqq

19[1]–[2] Philetas fr.10(22), p.76 Nowack — Virgil Georg. IV 295sqq — Ovid Met. XV 364sqq — Pliny XI 70 — Aelian NA II 57 — Bolus F42 [3]–[4] [=Archelaus F4] — [=Archelaus F10] — Nicander Ther. 740sq — Pliny XI 70 — Galen Alim. Fac. VI 640 — Aelian NA II 33 — Aelian NA I 28 [5] Ar. fr 367 R3 — Aelian NA VI 20

20[1] [=Ar. fr 370 R.3] — MA 66 — Pliny VIII 111 [2] MA 77 — Pliny VIII 111 [3] Aristotle HA VI 22 577a 7–13 — Aristotle HA VIII 24 605a 2–4 — Virgil Aeneid IV 515sq — Pliny VIII 165 — Aelian NA III 17 — Aelian NA XIV 18 [4] Aristotle HA IX 5 611a 29sq — MA 75 — Varro RR III 9 14 — Pliny VIII 115 — Pliny VIII 118 — Pliny X 195 — Pliny XXVIII 149 — Pliny XXVIII 226


16: (a) Latmos (b) Libya

17: Lycia

18: (a)[1] Gyarus [2] Ceos

19: [1] Egypt


16: (b) Psylli

19: [2] Philetas [4] Archelaus — Ptolemy


16: (a) Skorpios (scorpion) (b) Aspis (cobra)

17: Animal Aix (goat)

18: (a)[1] Mys (mouse) (b) Trygon (marine stingray)

19: [1,2] Bous (ox) — Melitta (bee) [3] Krokodeilos (crocodile) — Hippos (horse) — Sphex (wasp) [3.4] Skorpios (scorpion)

20: [1] Galeotes (gecko) [2] Phoke (seal) [3] Hippos [horse] [4] Elaphos [deer]


17: Aigolethros (goat's bane)

18: (a)[2] Acherdos (prickly pear)

19: [4] Sisymbrios (bergamot-mint)


21(25)[1] The octopus [polypous] eats its own tentacles in Winter. As the poem has it,

On the wintry day, when the boneless one gnaws its foot.

[2] The young of dog-fish, on being born, are dispensed from the belly but crawl back into the mouth. [3] The lioness does not conceive twice: for, as Herodotus says, she ejects the womb with the new-born. [4] Nor does the viper, for the emerging young eat through its belly.

22(26)[1] The bat alone of birds has teeth and breasts and milk. [2] Aristotle says that the seal, too, and the whale have milk. [3] He writes down something no less monstrous than these, for he says that in Lemnos milk was extracted from a he-goat in sufficient quantities to make cheese.

23(27)[1] The male of the halcyon are called 'keryloi': when they become weak through old age and are no longer able to fly, the females carry them by taking them upon their wings. [2] The saying of Alcman is connected with this, for he says that he is weak from old age and unable to go around with the choruses or with the dances of the maidens:

No longer, maidens of honeyed speech, divine-voiced,

are my limbs able to carry me: would, oh would that I were a kerylos,

which over the foam of the wave flies with the halcyons

with resolute heart — the sea-purple bird of Spring.

24(28) The Poet, too, is said by everyone to be pretty painstaking and full of curiosity, for Odysseus, when the dogs had attacked him on the way up to the swineherd,

crouched in cunning, and cast the staff from his hand.

For they say that whenever anyone who is being chased crouches down, the dogs do him no harm.

25(a)(29)[1] Another cause for amazement are those animals which, like the octopus, make themselves similar to their surrounding: for it becomes indistinguishable from the colour of the sea-bed and from that of anything which it might entwine, so that it is difficult to hunt. [2] It is clearly from this fact that the poet wrote the oft-quoted verse::

Having the spirit of the octopus in your breast, child,

adapt yourself to <whatever is in accordance with popular sentiment>.

(b)(30) The same thing happens with the chamæleon, for it changes its skin-colour to that of tree-trunks and leaves and earth, and in the same way to any background at all.

(c)(31) Aristotle says that the animal called the elk undergoes this as well: it is a quadruped almost equal in size to the ass, thick-skinned and hairy, and he says that it is remarkable how its hair changes colour so rapidly.


21[1] =Hesiod Op. 524 — Pherecrates Fr 13 — Diphilus Fr 34 K. — Aelian NA I 27 — Contra: Aristotle HA VIII 2 591a4 — Pliny IX 87 [2] Aristotle HA VI 10 565b1 sqq — Aelian NA II 55 [3] Herodotus III 108 Contra: Aristotle HA VI 31 579b2–4 [4] MA 165 — Nicander Ther. 182 sqq — Pliny X 170 — Aelian I 24

22[1] cf Aristotle HA III 1 511a 28 sqq [2] Aristotle HA III 19 521b 21–25 [3] Aristotle HA III 20 522a 11–16

23 =Alcman fr 26 Page — Hesychius s.v. κείρυλος — Lex. Sud. III 112 Adler — Schol. Theocr. VII 57 — Eustathius ad Hom. Il. I 558 (ex Pausania) — cf Antigonus F5

24: [=Homer Od. XIV 31]

25(a) Aristotle HA IX 37 622a 8–10 — Pliny IX 87 — Plutarch de soll. an. 27 978e — Athenaeus VII 317a — cf Theognis 215sq Young — (b) b+c = Aristotle fr 371 R3 — cf Theophrastus fr 172 1, fr 173 — (c) Aristotle fr laud. — MA 30 — Theophrastus fr 172 2–3 — Caesar BG VI 26 — Pliny VIII 123sq — Solinus 30 25 — Aelian NA II 16 — Steph. Byz. s.v. Γελωνός — cf Antigonus F6


22: [3] Lemnos


21: [3] Herodotus

23: [2] Alcman

24: Odysseus


21: [1] Polypous (octopus) [2] Galeos [dog-fish) [3] Leaina [lioness) [4] Echidna [viper]

22: [1] Nykteris (bat) [2] Phoke (seal) — Phalaina (whale) [3] Tragos (goat)

23: Halkyon/Kerylos (halcyon)

24: Kyon (dog)

25: (a) Polypous (octopus) (b) Chamaileon (chamaeleon) (c) Tarandos (elk)


26(32) There is a certain plant, called sea-starwort: it grows on the seashore on rocks and puts forth a flower which changes its colour three times a day — it is now white, now purple and now apple-yellow.

The other instincts of living creatures — such as pertain to conflicts, to healing of wounds, to the preparation of the necessities of life, to affections, to memory — would certainly be learned most accurately from the collection of Aristotle, from which I will at first make my excerpt.

27(33) He says that around Conopeium near Lake Maeotis the wolves procure their sustenance from the fishermen and guard their catch in return; but if they suspect that they have been cheated in any way, they ruin the nets and the fish.

28(34) In Thrace, in the city once called Cedripolis, men and hawks jointly hunt small birds: the former beat the trees while the hawks pursue closely and the little birds fall towards the men as they flee. Because of this, they share their prey with the hawks.

29(35)[1] He says that does give birth by the roadside, to avoid predatory animals, for wolves are least likely to attack them there. They also lead their offspring to their lair, so as to accustom them to their place of refuge — this is a precipitous rock with only one exit. [2] A female deer had previously been captured which had ivy on its antlers as though they were moist. [3] Deer are captured by piping and singing so that they lie down, overcome with pleasure.

30(36) The wild goats in Crete, whenever they are struck by an arrow, seek dittany, for it seems to be effective in casting out arrows.


26: Dioscorides IV 135 — cf Pliny XXVI 22

27: Aristotle HA IX 36 620b 5–8 — Aelian NA VI 65 — Pliny X 23

28: Aristotle HA IX 36 620a 33–620b 4 — MA 118 — Pliny X 23 — Aelian NA II 42

29: Aristotle: HA: VI 29 578b 17–23 — HA IX 5 611a 15–22 — HA IX 5 611b 17–20 — HA IX 5 611b 26–28 — MA 5 — Pliny VIII 112–117 — Plutarch: de soll. an. 3 961d–e — de soll. an. 16 971e — Aelian NA VI 11

30: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 3–5 — MA 4 — Cicero de nat. deor. II 126 — Pliny VIII 97 — Plutarch Gryll. IX 3 991e — cf Pliny XXV 92sq


28: Cedripolis

30: Crete


27: Lykos (wolf)

28: Hierax (hawk)

29: Elaphos (deer) [1] Lykos (wolf)

30: Aix [goat]


26: Tripolion (sea-starwort)

29: [2] Kittos (ivy)

30: Diktamnos (dittany)


31(37) Some say that the leopard has been observed — since living things delight in its scent — to hide itself and thus prey on animals which come close to it.

32(38) The Egyptian mongoose, whenever it sees an asp, does not attack it before calling upon others to help. They plaster themselves in mud as a protection against its bites and blows: first they moisten their skin, then they roll about in the dust.

33(39) He says that the Egyptian plover cleans out the teeth of crocodiles and gains its nourishment from them. The crocodile perceives it as useful and whenever the trochilos wants to get out, the crocodile moves its neck so that the bird is not bitten by the closing teeth.

34(40) The tortoise, whenever it eats a snake, eats oregano as an antidote. Someone once observed this closely and stripped the plant of its leaves: the tortoise died since it did not have oregano to eat.

35(41)[1] The weasel, whenever it fights with a snake, eats mountain rue beforehand, for its smell is repugnant to the snake. [2] In addition, rue helps against snake-bite when it is placed in unmixed wine and drunk. [3] And a pig, when it is bitten by a snake, takes itself at once to rivers and seeks the crab: this, too, has been recorded and is extremely efficacious for snake-bite.


31: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 12–15 — Aristotle Probl. XII 4 907b 35–37 — Theophrastus de caus. pl. VI 5 2 — Pliny VIII 62 — Pliny XXI 39 — Aelian NA V 40

32: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 15-20 — Pliny VIII 88 — Plutarch de soll. an. 10 966d — Aelian NA III 22 — Strabo XVII 1 39 p.812

33: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 20–24c — MA 7 — Herodotus II 68 — Pliny VIII 90 — Plutarch de soll. an. 31 980e — Solinus 32 25 — Ammianus Marcellinus XXII 15 19 — Aelian: NA III 11 — NA VIII 25 — NA XII 15

34: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 24–28 — MA 11 — Pliny VIII 98 — Aelian: NA III 5 — NA VI 12

35[1]: Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 28–30 — [1–2] Pliny XX 132 [3] Pliny VIII 98 — Plutarch Gryll. IX 3 991e


31: Pardalis (lepoard)

32: Aspis (asp) — Ichneumon (Egyptian mongoose)

33: Krokodeilos (crocodile) — Trochilos (Egyptian plover)

34: Chelone (tortoise) — Ophis (snake)

35: Ophis (snake) [1] Gale (weasel) [3] Hys (pig) — Karkinos (crab)


34: Origanon (oregano)

35: [1,2] Peganon (rue)


36(42) The ring-dove, whenever it is struck, packs oregano into the wound and regains its healthy thereby.

37(43)[1] Aristotle says that the swallow, when building its nest, plaits mud together with twigs. If mud is lacking, it gets itself wet and rolls about and picks it up with its wings, and makes itself a bed of straw using the same techniques as a human being, putting hard material underneath. [2] It gives its young their food in turn, watching carefully lest it feed the same ones twice. [3] When they are small, it throws their excrement out itself, but when they have grown, it teaches the young to turn around and discharge the excrement outside.

38(44)[1] Pigeons do not like to have multiple mating partners nor to leave their pairing unless they are widowed. [2] For their young, they chew up salty earth and spit the food which they have prepared into their mouths.

39(45)[1] Partridges, whenever anyone hunts their young, roll about in front of the hunter as though they are disabled and draw them on, until the young escape. [2] Because of their passion for sex, the males destroy the eggs so that the female does not incubate them; but she plots against this and runs off elsewhere to lay them. [3] The 'widowers'* fight among themselves and the one which is worsted follows the victor and is mounted by him alone.

*i.e., those males successfully eluded by their brooding mate.

40(46)[1] The cranes fly to a great height so that they can look down on a wide area; and if they see clouds and storm, they rest. [2] They have a leader, too: while the others sleep with their heads placed beneath their wings, the leader keeps his exposed so as to watch ahead, and if he perceives anything, he signals the others by crying out.


36 Aristotle HA IX 6 612a 32–34 — Aelian NA V 46

37 Aristotle HA IX 7 612b 22–31 — Pliny X 92 — Aelian NA III 24sq

38 Aristotle HA IX 7 612b 32–34 — IX 7 613a 2–5 — Aelian NA III 44

39 Aristotle: HA IX 8 613b 17–20; 25–28 — HA IX 8 614a 1–3 — Pliny X 100; 101; 103 — Solinus 7 30 — Aelian NA III 16 — cf Athenaeus IX 389a

40 Aristotle: HA IX 10 614b 19–21 — HA IX 10 614b 23–26 — Pliny X 58sq — Plutarch de soll. an. 10 967b–c — Aelian NA III 13


36: Phatta (ring-dove)

37: Chelidon (swallow) (Egyptian mongoose)

38: Peristera (pigeon)

39: Perdix (partridge)

40: Geranos (crane)


36: Origanon (oregano)


41(47) [Aristotle] relates that pelicans swallow down smooth mussels. They hold them down for a while in the crop above their stomachs, then aftwerward — when the shells have opened — regurgitate them and eat the meat now that they have separated it in this way.

42(48)[1] It is said by some that no-one has seen either the young of the vulture or its nest. [2] And because of this, Herodorus, the father of Bryson the sophist, says that they are from some foreign high land, for they lay their eggs on inaccessible rocks.

43(49)[1] Some say, too, that 'cinnamon' refers to a bird and that it carries the spice and makes its nest from this. [2] It nests in high and unclimbable trees, and the locals tip their arrows with lead to shoot at and break up the nests.

44(50) It seems that the cuckoo sneaks its young into other birds' nests because of its cowardice and inability to defend them, for cuckoos have their feathers plucked by the least of birds. Those birds that take in the young throw out their own because the cuckoo’s are so beautiful.

45(51)[1] The aigithos flies to the female goat and suckles her: it has taken its name from this fact. The udder <dries out> whenever it suckles <and the goat> goes blind. [2] The bird is lame, from which Callimachus of Egypt, wishing to be very clear, said (having spoken previously of some other bird) “αἴγιθος ἀμφιγυήεις.” His account is not confirmed, for it is not lame in both feet. “ἀμφιγυήεις” means not lameness of the type in question, but that which is spoken of in connexion with Hephaestus — when one has been lamed in both limbs. I have been led to speak of Callimachus because of his implausibility.


41 Aristotle HA IX 10 614b 26–30 — MA 14 — Cicero de nat. deor. II 124 — Pliny X 115 — cf Pliny X 131 — Aelian NA III 20

42 Aristotle: HA IX 11 615a 8–11 — HA IX 11 615a 13 — HA VI 5 563a 4–8

43 Aristotle HA IX 13 616a 6–12 — Herodotus III 111 — Pliny X 97 — Pliny XII 85 — Solinus 33 15 — Aelian NA II 34 — Aelian NA XVII 21 — Eustathius ad Dion. per. 954

44 Aristotle: HA IX 29 618a 26–30 — cf HA IX 29 618a 14–16 — MA 3 — Pliny X 26 — Pliny X 27 — Aelian NA III 30

45[1] Aristotle: HA IX 15 616b 10 — HA IX 30 618b 5–8 — Pliny X 115 — Aelian NA III 39 — [2] Callimachus fr. 469 Pf.


42: [2] Herodorus

45: [2] Callimachus — Hephaestus


41: Konche (mussel) — Pelekan (pelican)

42: Gyps (vulture)

43: Kinnamomon (cinnamon)

44: Kokkyx (cuckoo)

45: Aigithos [1] Aix (goat)


43: Kinnamomon (cinnamon)


46(52)[1] Aristotle says that when the eagle grows old, its beak grows and curves and it finally dies of starvation. [2] The vulture takes the young cast out by the eagle and brings them up. [3] The sea-eagle compels its young while still unfeathered to look towards the sun, and whichever one of them gets watery eyes and is unwilling to face the sun, it kills.

47(52)[4] The fish called the ‘fishing frog’ hunts little fish with the appendages from its eyes, which are like hair in length, but with an attachment at the tip like round bait: so it hides itself and sticks this out.

48(53) The electric ray hides itself in the sand and seizes the fish that, whenever they come near, are rendered incapable of swimming because of the torpor it induces.

49(54) The so-called ‘foxes’, whenever they sense that they have swallowed a fish-hook, run back and bite off the line from above it.

50(55) [1] The octopus puts food into its den and whenever the useful bits are used up, it expels the unusable and preys on those little fish which come to feed on the cast-offs by changing its colour to closely resemble that of the stones it happens to be nearby. [2] It does the same thing whenever it is frightened.


46 Aristotle: HA IX 32 619a 16–18 — HA IX 34 619b 24–26 — HA IX 32 620a 2–5 — Pliny X 13 — Pliny X 15 — Aelian NA II 26

47 Aristotle HA IX 37 620b 13–17 — Pliny IX 143 — Plutarch de soll. an. 27 978b–d — Aelian NA IX 24 — cf Cicero de nat. deor. II 125

48 Aristotle HA IX 37 620b 19–23 — Theophrastus fr.178 — Pliny IX 143 — Plutarch de soll. an. 27 978b–d — cf Cicero de nat. deor. II 125

49 Aristotle HA IX 37 621a 12–15 — Pliny IX 145 — Aelian: NA IX 12 — cf VH I 5

50 Aristotle HA IX 37 622a 5–10 — Pliny IX 86–87 — cf Theophrastus: fr.173; fr.188


46: [1] Aetos (eagle) [2] Phene (Vulture) [3] Haliaetos [sea-eagle)

47: Batrachos halieus (fishing-frog)

48: Narke (electric ray)

49: Alopex (fox [fish])

50: Polypous (octopus)


51(56) See, too, how the nautilus octopus is also unusual in what it does, for it has a shell which it turns downward on ascending so that it might more easily be propelled with it empty, but when it descends from above, it reverses the shell. It has a degree of webbing like a membrane between its tentacles up to a certain point and this, whenever there is a breeze, it uses as a sail; and instead of steering-oars lets down <two> of its tentacles alongside.

52(a)(57)[1] When bees have been fumigated and are badly affected by the smoke, it is then most of all that they eat <honey>, but for the rest of the time they use it sparingly so as to store it by as food. [2] They smear the hive with drops from the trees as a protection against other animals.

[3] When the worker bees kill other bees, they try to do it outside: if they kill within the hive, they carry out the body. [4] The so-called ‘robber’ bees do damage if they come in unnoticed. But they seldom enter—for they are watched out for and guards are placed everywhere.

[5] There are bees appointed to each of the tasks: some gather nectar, others smooth the combs. [6] They are disgusted both by the bad smell of food and by perfume, and go some distance from the hive to discharge their excrement. [7] And the elders work inside < . . . . . >

(b) If one takes a wasp by the legs and lets its wings buzz, Aristotle says that stingless wasps fly towards it but none of those with stings do so.

53(58)[1] They say that the bison is found in Paeonia on the mountain of Marsanos and that it has no upper teeth, like the ox or any other two-horned beast, and in other respects is similar to the bull. [2] When it is pursued, it projects its excrement quite a distance; whenever it does this in fright, its dung burns in such a way that the hounds’ hair falls out, but if it does it free from fear, nothing suffers or is injured.

54(a)(58[3]) < . . . . . > if <a bull elephant> mates with a female and makes it pregnant, it does not touch that one again.

(b)(59) They say that the King of Scythia had a noble mare: he led a foal of her own to her so that it might mate, but the foal was unwilling. When they put a covering over the mare and then led her in, the foal mounted her; but when she had been unveiled and he saw her face, he fled and threw himself off the cliffs.

55(60)[1] Of marine creatures, the dolphin is the tamest — indeed, they behave in a passionate manner towards boys, as has happened around Tarentum, Caria and many other places. [2] In Caria, when a dolphin had been captured and inflicted with many wounds, a large number of them came into the harbour to its aid until the fisherman released it.


51 Aristotle HA IX 37 622b 5–7 — Pliny IX 88 — Oppian halieut. I 340-342 — Aelian NA IX 34

52(a) Aristotle HA IX 40 623b–627b (passim) — Pliny XI 13–15; 25 (passim) — Aelian NA I 10 (b) Aristotle HA IX 41 628b 20–22

53 Aristotle HA IX 45: 630a 19–20; 630a 24; 630b 2–4; 630b 9–14 — MA 1 — Pliny VIII 40 — Aelian NA VII 3

54(a) Aristotle HA IX 46 630b 22–23 (b) Aristotle HA IX 47 631a 1–8 — Pliny VIII 156 — cf MA 2 — Aristotle HA VI 22 576a 18–20

55 Aristotle HA IX 48 631a 9–14 — Pliny IX 24; 27; 28; 33 — Aelian NA V 6


53 [1] Mt. Marsanus/Messapium

54 (a) Scythia

55 Caria [1] Tarentum


51: Nautilos polypous (nautilus octopus)

52: (a) Melitta (bee) (b) Sphex (wasp)

53: Monapos (bison, aurochs) [2] Kyon (hound)

54: (a) Elephas (elephant) (b) Hippos (horse)

55: Delphis (dolphin)


56(61) Concerning the parturition of wolves, Aristotle makes a relation of something thoroughly fabulous (though he does so as one who is conscious of this): for he says that they all give birth in a single twelve-day period of the year. The reason for this, as the story goes, is that they brought Leto from the Hyperboreans to Delos in twelve days, during which time she was in the form of a wolf.

57(62) The little owl and the crow are enemies: while the crow <steals away the eggs> of the owl by day because the owl cannot see, the owl does the same to the crow by night when the crow cannot see. So while one rules by night, the other does by day.

58(63) The ass and the aigithos, too, are at war with one another: for the ass comes by and scratches itself on thorns and because of this, especially whenever it brays, it throws out the eggs of the aigithos and the nestlings fall out in fright. Because of this injury, the aigithos flies at it and pecks its sores.

59(64) And the merlin is enemy to the fox, but the raven and the fox are friends — the raven, too, makes war on the merlin, which is why it comes to the aid of the fox when the latter is struck.

60(a)(65) [Aristotle] says that the goatherds say that when the sun turns most quickly*, the she-goats lie down facing it.

(b)(66) Lycus narrates something similar to this. He says that in Libya the flocks generally sleep with some facing one another while others sleep in whatever way they chance to lie down, but on the night on which the dog-star rises, they are all turned facing that same star. The inhabitants use this as evidence of its rising.

Aristotle also goes through other such matters, apart from the instincts of animals concerning their way of life, using a great deal of care for the most part, since he is concerned with a major task and not a by-work in his explanation of them. In total, he has written nearly seventy books on these matters, and has tried to dwell more on explanation than on narrative in each. As regards my excerpt, it is sufficient for it to summarize the strange and paradoxical content of both the aforementioned and other writings.

*The meaning of this is, as in the corresponding passage of the HA, uncertain.


56 Aristotle HA VI 35 580a 14–19 — Pliny VIII 83 — Aelian NA IV 4

57 Aristotle HA IX 1 609a 8–12 — Pliny X 203 — Plutarch de inv. et od. 4 537b — Aelian NA III 9

58 Aristotle HA IX 1 609a 31–35 — Pliny X 204 — Aelian NA V 48 — Anon. Matth. 31

59 Aristotle HA IX 1 609b 30–34 — Pliny X 205 — Aelian NA II 51 — Hesychius s.v. αἰσάρων

60(a) Aristotle HA IX 3 611a 4–6 — Pliny VIII 203 — Plutarch de soll. an. 21 974f (b) Lycus fr. 13 J — cf Pliny VIII 44


56 Delos

60 (b) Libya


56: Hyperboreans — Leto)


56: Lykos (wolf)

57: Glaux (little owl) — Korone (crow)

58: Aigithos — Onos (ass)

59: Aisalon (merlin) — Alopex (fox) — Korax (raven)

60: (a) Aix (goat) (b) Ktene (flocks)


61(67) He says that all the land animals that have lungs breathe but that wasps and bees do not breathe.

62(68) Of those animals that have bladders, all have intestines as well, but of those that have intestines, not all have bladders.

63(69) While many animals are bloodless, on the whole this is true for those that have more than four feet.

64(70) Of those that have hair, all give birth to living offspring, but the reverse is not the case.

65(71) All creatures can move their lower jaw except the river crocodile, which can only move its upper jaw.


61 Aristotle HA I 1 487a 28–32 — Par. Vat. 4.1

62 Aristotle: HA I 1 489a 5–7 — PA III 8 671a 8–16 — Par. Vat. 4.2

63 Aristotle: HA I 4 489a 32–34 — HA I 5 490a 33 — Par. Vat. 5

64 Aristotle: HA I 5 489a 35–b1 — HA I 6 490b 25–27 — GA V 3 781b 32–33

65 Aristotle: HA I 11 492b 23–24 — PA IV 11 691b 5–7 — Herodotus II 68 — Pliny: VIII 89 — XI 159


61: Animals in general — Melitta (bee) — Sphex (wasp)

62–64: Animals in general

65: Animals in general — Krokodeilos (crocodile)


66(72) Among the Illyrians and in Paeonia there is a <pig> with uncloven feet. No two-horned animal has been found with uncloven hooves, and <few> one-horned beasts with uncloven hoof, like the Indian ass* (this animal alone of the uncloven-footed has a knucklebone, too).

*Unicorn, or possibly rhinoceros.

67(73) The genitals of the weasel are bony.

68(74) The male has more teeth than the female in both humans and the other animals.

69(75) The heart of the horse is bony, as is that of some cattle.

70(76) Of deer, the so-called achaïnai seem to have gall in the tail.


66 Aristotle: HA II 1 499b 12–13 — HA II 1 499b 18–21 — MA 68.2 — Pliny XI 255

67 Aristotle HA II 1 500b 24–25 — Pliny XI 261

68 Aristotle HA II 3 501b 20–21 — Pliny: VII 71 — XI 167

69 Aristotle: HA II 15 506a 9–10 — PA III 4 666b 19–21 — Pliny XI 183 — Galen de usu part. VI 19 p.445 H

70 Aristotle HA II 15 506a 23–24


66: Illyria — Paeonia


66: Animals in general — Hys (pig) — Indikos onos (Indian ass)

67: Gale (weasel)

68: Animals in general — Anthropos (human being)

69: Bous (cattle) — Hippos (horse)

70: Elaphos (deer)


71(77) Fish do not have a windpipe: because of this, the stomach of larger fish falls forward into their mouths when they chase smaller ones.

72(78)[1] Snakes have thirty ribs. [2] And if one pricks their eyes out, they grow back again, just like those of the swallow.

73(79) Of the fish, the parrot-wrasse is the only one which ruminates.

74(80) The bones of the lion are so hard that when they are struck frequently together they light fire.

75(81) In Phrygia there are cattle which can move their horns.


71 Aristotle: HA II 17 507a 27–30 — PA III 14 675a 9 — Par. Vat. 6

72 Aristotle HA II 17 508b 3–7 — Pliny XI 207 — Aelian NA II 3 — Par. Vat. 7 — Aristotle GA IV 6 774b 31–32 — Pliny: VIII 98 — XXV 89

73 Aristotle: HA II 17 508b 11–12 — PA III 14 675a 4

74 Aristotle: HA III 7 516b 10–12 — PA II 9 655a 14–16 — Pliny XI 214 — Aelian NA IV 34 — Par. Vat. 8

75 Aristotle HA III 9 517a 28–29 — Pliny XI 125 — Aelian NA II 20


75: Phrygia


71: Ichthys (fish)

72: Ophis (snake) [2] Chelidon (swallow)

73: Skaros (parrot-wrasse)

74: Leon (lion)

75: Bous (cattle)


76(82) Those creatures that have feet and are viviparous have hair, those that have feet and are oviparous, scales.

77(83) With some people, when they are sick their hair becomes grey, but when healthy grows black again.

78(84)[1] If sheep drink from the river called Psychros in the Chalcidice, by Thrace, it causes their offspring to be black. [2] And in Antandria there are two rivers, of which one makes offspring white, the other, black. [3] The Scamander is supposed to make them yellow, and because of this the Poet addressed it as “Xanthus” [i.e., 'yellow'] instead of “Scamandrus”. [4] And in Euboea, along the Histiaean boundary with Chalcis, there are two rivers, Ceron and Neleus: if goats drink about the time of conception from the Ceron, they give birth to black offspring but if from the Neleus, to white.

79(85) Aristotle says that ants, when sprinkled with oregano and sulphur, abandon their anthill.

80(86) The eel is neither male nor female.


81(87) With partridges, if the female stands downwind of the male, it becomes fertilized.

82(88) The so-called starfish is so hot that whatever fish it catches hold of is at once boiled.

83(89) And the sponge is capable of perception: if it becomes aware that someone is about to pull it away, it contracts and is a hard job to remove. The same thing happens when there is wind or a rough sea.

84(a)(90)[1] In the snow there are shaggy worm-like creatures. [2] In Cyprus, where copper ore is smelted, a creature slightly larger than a fly is generated: the same thing happens in the furnaces at Carystus. [3] These animals die when separated from snow and fire, respectively.

(b)(91) The salamander extinguishes fire.

85(92) Aristotle says that around the river Hypanis in the Cimmerian Bosphorus, about the Summer solstice, things like wallets, larger than grapes, are carried down, from which when they break open a four-footed animal emerges that lives for one day: it is singular as a winged creature in being four-legged.


86(93) Hives come to destruction if there are no leaders or, on the contrary, there are many.

87(94)[1] Land scorpions are killed by their children. [2] The venom-spider, too, kills its female parent and often the male as well, for they incubate the eggs jointly.

88(95) Things like small eruptions form in human flesh: if one pricks them, lice emerge; and if a person is moist, this disease can be fatal, as with Alcman the lyric poet and Pherecydes of Syros.

89(96)[1] This, too, is singular, that when the spinal chord of certain corpses rots, small snakes are generated from the spine, if the person breathed in the odour of a dead snake before death. [2] We have already encountered an epigram of Archelaus, of whom I have formerly made mention, who wrote this also about marvels and says:

All beings through each other does long eternity seal up;

From the cord of the hollow spine of a man

Comes a terrible serpent, when the worthless body has rotted;

Which monstrosity takes new breath from him,

Dragging living being from the dead: if this is so,

The birth of dual-formed Cecrops is no marvel.

So we make an established matter of this phenomenon — which is averred cursorily in hearsay and certain sayings in common currency — through the evidence of the epigram.

90(97) Aristotle says that a living thing is generated in wax, which is held to be the smallest of all and is called 'akari'.


91(98) The river-crocodile grows to a very great size from very small beginnings: for though its egg is no larger than that of the goose, the crocodile itself grows to seventeen cubits.

92(99)[1] Octopi rule over crayfish, for they suffer no injury from the latter’s shells. [2] And over octopi, the conger eels, for the octopi are unable to deal with them because of their smoothness. [3] And over the conger, the crayfish: for the conger does not glance off the crayfish but is lacerated by the the jaggedness of its shell.

93(100) He says that the mullet, whenever it is afraid, hides its head, as if it were hiding the whole of its body.

94(101) All birds of prey are given to mimicry.

95(102) Every creature bitten by a rabid dog becomes rabid, except man.


96(103) With animals, the larger are male and the lesser, female.

97(a)(104) In Egypt, birds make hatch chicks by burying the eggs in dung.

(b)(105) In Syracuse, a drunkard buried eggs deep in the ground and put a rush-mat over them and drank continuously until such time as the eggs hatched. (c) Already eggs laid in warm vessels have been rubbed out* and hatch.

*ἐκτριφθῆναι: Keller suggests ἐκτριφθῆναι, which would agree with Ar. & make more sense

98(106) The young of the swallow regain their sight if anyone should blind them.

99(a)(107) While the hawk bears three <eggs, it hatches only two>, and when the young have grown it selects one, for it is not able to feed both because throughout this time its talons are distorted and it cannot seize anything. The vulture takes over the care of the one left to wander.

(b)(108) In practically all cases, the crooked-clawed birds eject their young when they are able to fly swiftly, except the crow which even when they can fly feeds them for some time.

100(109) No-one has seen the chicks of the cuckoo, for it does not lay its eggs in its own nest but flies into those of small birds, either those of the wild pigeon or those of the hypolaïs, after it has consumed the eggs already there.


101(110) Partridges build <two> compartments in the nest for their eggs and each of them [i.e. male and female] incubates and rears the chicks, and they copulate with the young when they first lead them out.

102(110)[1] <Boars> fight each other armoured in their own hide, which they make rough in preparation by rubbing against trees and wallowing in mud and letting it dry. [2] He records that some say (as if he himself had no direct experience of it) that if a pig has one of its eyes knocked out, it dies soon after.

103(111)[1] Goats and sheep give birth, for the most part, to male offspring if they copulate while there is a north wind, but to female in the case of a south wind. [2] The offspring are white if there are white veins under the tongue of the ram, but black if the veins are black. The same principle holds for red offspring. [3] <Those> that drink salted water are the first to be mounted.

104(112) Laconian dogs copulate better when tired out.

105(113)[1] The procreation of mice is amazing because of its speed: a pregnant female once got trapped in a jar and after a short time one hundred and twenty mice came to light. [2] In some places in Persia, when the female mouse is dissected the embryos are discovered to be already pregnant.


106(114) It is said that the blood of the aigithos and the goldfinch scarcely mix.

107(115) Whenever a she-goat] touches the tip of the beard — which is like hair — the others stand as if stupefied and stare at her.

108(116) The genitals of the yellow-breasted marten are bony, and are supposed to be a remedy for strangury.

109(a)(117) No eunuch becomes bald. (b)(118) The second growth of hair in eunuchs who are castrated as children does not take hold, while in those castrated later, it all falls out except for the pubic hair.

110(119)[1] A woman gives birth to five at a time at most; though one is memorable because from four births, she had twenty children and reared most of them. [2] If a woman uses an over-abundance of salt while pregnant, the children are born without nails.


111(120) There are both men and women who have female and male offspring, respectively, as is told about Heracles: for out of seventy-two children, he begot just one daughter.

112(a)(121) There are those born from lame or blind parents who are likewise lame or blind; there are some cases where even marks have been inherited. (b)(122) In Elis a woman who had committed adultery with an Ethiopian bore a white daughter, but the daughter's child was Ethiopian.

113(123) Children, up until forty days, neither laugh nor cry while awake but do both in their sleep.

114(a)(124) He derives character from some features as follows: those who have a large forehead are sluggish, while those with a small one are agile – adding that it is for the most part in each case; those who have broad foreheads are excitable.

(b)(125) Level eyebrows are indicative of a gentle nature; those bent towards the nose, a harsh; towards the temples, a mocking and ironic. (c)(126) If the corner of the eye is fleshy, it indicates a dishonest nature; middling ears are indicative of the finest character, but those which are large and protruding, of foolish talk and prattling.

115(127)[1] He says that, of female creatures, the horse is quite inclined towards sex and goes extremely “horse-mad”, from which the word is also transferred as an insult and used to censure women who are highly-sexed. [2] Aeschylus, too, seems to have said from personal experience much the same sort of thing in relation to maidens in The Archer Women:

While I sing, in chaste maidens without experience* of the marriage

bed the glance of the eyes is cast downwards.

and after an interval he adds

her eye does not blaze unnoticed

by me, whoever she might be who has tasted of a man:

I have a horse-judge’s spirit in such matters.

The things being many of which Aristotle wrote, so far we have been able at this point to excerpt some of them and note others.

*reading ἀπέιροις rather than Giannini’s ἀτειρὴς


116(128) < · · · · · > the historian says that Arsames the Persian had teeth right from birth.

117(129) Myrsilus of Lesbos says that The Ozolian Locrians came by their common nickname because <the water> of their land gave off an odour, most of all the waters of the mountain called Taphion, and that it flows from that place into the sea like pus. Nessus the Centaur, whom Heracles slew, is buried in this mountain.

118(130) The Lemnian women became malodorous when Medeia arrived with Jason and cast poison into the island: at certain times and particularly on those days in which they relate that Medeia was present, the women become so foul-smelling that no-one will approach them.

119(131)[1] Theopompus the historian says that the so-called “leopard’s bane” originates in the place named Akonai around Heracleia in Pontus, from where it also happened upon its name akoniton. Although it is plainly efficacious, it no effect if one drinks rue on the same day.

[2] When Clearchus the tyrant killed many with poison and tried to avoid detection, once the situation became clear, the majority of the Heracleians did not leave their houses until they had eaten rue. Theopompus writes both the cause and the origin of how this became manifest at great length, for which reason I have skipped over it.

120(132) The writer of the Samian Annals says that a white swallow appeared in the presence the first of those called †students of Herostratus†.


121(133) Hippys of Rhegium [concerning places said to kill those that come into them] writes this sort of thing. He says [that when Epainetus was Basileus at Athens in the 38th Olympiad in which Arytamas the Laconian won the stadion] that in Palice in Sicily a place was built into which anyone who entered died if they lay down, but suffered nothing if they walked around.

122(134) It is also recorded about the island of Leuce that none of the birds is able to rise up in flight over the temple of Achilles.

123(135) It seems that in many places there is a pit of the type called 'barathron' or 'Charonian', such as the cleft called Cimmerus around Phrygia, as Eudoxus says, and the 'orygma' in Latmos.

124(a)(136) Those things that wax and wane with the moon are singular — such as the livers of mice, of which it is told that they grow full and wane and wax with the month. For this reason, many people when speaking in proverbs use the phrase "mice's livers' to signify matters falling under the class of wondrous prodigies.

(b)(137)[1] The eggs of the sea-urchin also wax and wane with the moon. [2] It is singular that all sea urchins have five eggs, set apart at equal intervals from one another and in a circle around the periphery of the shell <.....>, so that equal [radii] meet them from the spines.

125(138) They say, too, that the strait of Italy wanes and fills according to the waning and waxing of the moon.


126(a)(139) Hellanicus of Lesbos states that there is a cave in the city of Thebes in Egypt, where on the thirtieth day of the month alone there is no wind, but a wind blows on the other days.

(b)(140)[1] The Euripus does not turn on the seventh day of the month — an excerpt that might seem impossible to investigate and difficult to observe. [2] And that ants take a rest at the new moon.

127(141)[1] The Delphians say that in Parnassus the Corycium seems golden at certain times. [2] Because of this, no-one could hold that Philoxenus is speaking figuratively when he says the following:

for they themselves through Parnassos

in the golden-roofed chambers of the nymphs.

128(a)(142) Among †the Phylloi† it is said that the sheep drink every four days. (b)(143) Something more prodigious than this is said to happen in Zacynthus: when the Etesian winds are blowing, the mountain goats stand with mouths agape towards the north wind and by doing this they do not require water, nor do they drink.

129(144) Callimachus of Cyrene also made a compilation of paradoxa, from which I will write down as many as seem to me to be worth hearing. [1] He says that Eudoxus records that every so often asphalt rises to the surface of the Sea of Thrace below Hieron Oros. [2] The sea below the Chelidoniae has sweet springs over a large area.

130(145) He says that Theophrastus says that the sea around the islands of Aeolus is boiling for the space of two plethra, so that it is impossible to go ashore because of the heat.


131(146) From the sea below Demonesus near Chalcedon, divers brought up bronze of two fathoms’ length, from which were made the statues dedicated by Heracles in Pheneus.

132(147) He says that Megasthenes who wrote the Indica reported that trees grow in the sea around India.

133(148)[1] He says that Lycus says, concerning rivers and springs, that the Camicus flows <into> a boiling sea; [2] and, of the †Kapaios† and Crinisus, that the water on the surface is cold while that underneath is hot. [3] The Himera divides into two streams from one source, one channel having salty water, the other, drinkable water.

134(149) He says that Timaeus says of the rivers in Italy that the Crathis turns the hair yellow.

135(150)[1] He says that Polycritus has written down that the Liparis in Soli is not misnamed, but is so oily that one does not require unguent. [2] The Mouabis in Pamphylia turns straw or brick to stone, if one throws them in.


136(151)[1] He says that in the region of Agriean Thrace the river called Pontus brings down coal-like stones and that while these burn, they do so in an entirely opposite way from charcoal taken from wood: for when they are blown on by the bellows, they are quenched, but when sprinkled with water, they burn all the better. [2] No creeping thing can abide their smell.

137(152) The spring in Lusi, just like that of the Lampsacenes, has in it a mouse like the domestic variety. He says that Theopompus relates this.

138(153) He says that Eudoxus says that the Ophioussa in Alus stops white leprosy.

139(154)[1] He says that Lycus of Rhegium says that the spring in the region of the Sicanians carries vinegar, which they use on their food. [2] The spring in Mytistratus flows like olive oil: this is burned in lamps and can cure tumours and the mange, and is called Mytistration. [3] Nearby there is a spring which from the rising of Arcturus to the Pleiades flows with water no worse than any other source; but from the Pleiades to Arcturus puts out smoke during the day and exhales heat, while in the night it is full of flame.

140(155)[1] The Arethusa in Syracuse, as Pindar and others tell, has its fount in the Alpheius in Elis. Because of this, when they wash the entrails of the sacrificial victims in the river while the Olympic Games are being held, the spring in Sicily is not pure but flows with dung. [2] He says, too, that a bowl once thrown into the Alpheius appeared in the Arethusa. Timaeus relates this as well.


141(156) He says that Theopompus writes that if anyone tastes from the spring in the lands of the Cinchropes in Thrace, they die instantly.

142(157)[1] In Scotussa there is a singular spring which can cure ulcers not just in humans but in livestock as well. [2] And if you throw split or broken wood into it, it grows together.

143(158) Salt is obtained from the spring at Chaonia, if the water is boiled off.

144(159) He says that Aristotle says of the springs in Hammon that one of them is considered to belong to the sun: it becomes hot around midnight and noon, though it is like ice at dawn or in the evening. The other belongs to Zeus and rushes forth when the sun is visible but subsides at its setting.

145(160) He says that Ctesias says that the spring in Ethiopia has red water, as if it were cinnabar, and that those who drink from it go mad. This is told, too, by Philon, who wrote the Aethiopica.


146(161) The spring Sila in India does not allow even the lightest of things to float on top but drags down everything. Many more have spoken on these matters, and concerning yet more waters.

147(162) He says that Eudoxus relates that little crocodiles, like those in Egypt, live in the spring in Chalcedon.

148(163) In Athamania there is a shrine to the nymphs, the spring in which has water that is unspeakably cold, but if you were to put something over it, it becomes hot — if one brings a dry stick or anything else of that sort up to it, it is set on fire.

149(164) In Arabia in the city of Leucothea, he says that Amometus — who composed the Sailing Up from Memphis — writes that if one pours a cup of wine into the so-called Spring of Isis, one gets a well-mixed draught thereby.

150(165)[1] He says that Ctesias relates, concerning pools, that there is a pool in India which does not take down things thrown into it — just like those in Sicily and Media — except objects made of gold or iron or bronze; and if something falls into it obliquely, it is cast out straight up. [2] It cures the so-called ‘white disease’. [3] In another one, oil floats on top on calm days.


151(166) He says that Xenophilus says that in the spring near Joppa not only does an object of any weight float, but that every third year it bears liquid asphalt: whenever this happens, bronze objects belonging to those who live within thirty stadia are tarnished.

152(a)(167) He says that Heraclides writes of the pool among the Sarmatians that no bird flies over it and that any that approaches dies from the smell.

(b)[1] Indeed, this seems to also happen around Aornis and the legend is prevalent among the majority. [2](168) But Timaeus considers this to be false; for the majority of birds that are accustomed to live beside it are successful in leading their lives. However, he says the following: that because a thickly-wooded area abuts it and that of the many branches and leaves some are respectively broken or shaken off by the wind, nothing can be seen upon the lake but it remains clear.

153(169) He says that Eudoxus tells that pitch is brought up from the pool at Zacynthus though it nonetheless supplies fish; if you throw anything into it, it appears on the sea, although there are four stadia intervening.

154(170) He says that Lycus says that trees grow about the pool at Mylae in Sicily, and that in the middle of it rises water that is at times cold, and at times the opposite.

155(171) He says that Phanias says of the pool of the †Pyrakoi† that whenever it dries up, it burns.


156(172) Anything brought to the lake Ascania, which is drinkable, can be washed without soap, but if it is left in it for too long, it falls apart of its own accord.

157(173) He says that Nicagoras asserts of the pool in Citium, that when the earth is drawn up from a little way down, salt is found.

158(174)[1] Concerning the [same] waters, he says that Theophrastus says of the so-called ‘water of the Styx’ that it is in Pheneus and that it trickles from a rock, and that those who wish to draw water from it hold sponges fastened to pieces of wood. [2] It breaks all vessels except those made of horn. [3] He who tastes of it dies.

159(174)[1] He says that Lycus relates that the waters named <Delloi> in Leontinoi bubble up as though the hottest of boiling matter, but the springs are cold. [2] Of those that come near to the waters, those of the genus of birds die at once, while men die on the third day.

160(176) The same thing happens with the Chytrinos in Cos, for though it casts out a vapour and has the appearance of boiling, the underlying waters are exceedingly cold.


161(177)[1] There is also another stream at Cos which has turned all the pipes through which it flows into stone. [2] Both Eudoxus and Callimachus leave out the fact that, so securely does this water petrify any sort of thing, the Coans quarried stone from it to build their theatre.

162(178) He says that Eudoxus also writes about the wells in Pythopolis, that they experience something similar to the Nile: for during the Summer they overflow their banks but in winter they withdraw to such an extent that it is not easy to dip a bucket in them.

163(179) And concerning the little stream in Crete, those who sit above it whenever it is raining remain dry: the tradition is handed down by the Cretans that Europa washed herself in it after she had had intercourse with Zeus.

164(180) He says that Theopompus asserts that in Lyncestis there is an acid water, and that those who drink from it are transformed as if they had drunk wine. This is attested by many.

165(181) He says that Ctesias relates of that water which falls from the rock in Armenia that it contributes black fish, which whoever eats, dies.


166(182) He says that Ctesias relates concerning fire that in the region of Phaselis on Mount Chimaera there is the so-called immortal fire; and that this, if one throws water into it, burns better, but if one congeals it by throwing rubbish in, it is quenched.

167(183) Something similar can be seen to happen with salt; for a Sicilian guest gave me a present of a salt of such a type as was dissolved by fire but leapt about in water.

168(184) Concerning stones, he says that the same writer says, that there is a type among the Bottiaeans in Thrace from which, whenever it is struck by the sun, fire is given off in fumes. There are stones there which serve the function of coal but remain unimpaired, and if one were to quench them again, as has been attempted, they carry out the same operation.

169(185)[1] He says that Aristotle asserts that, regarding plants, there is a genus of thorn to be found in Erytheia which has multi-coloured skin, from which plectrums are made. [2] Timon the citharode had some and showed them to many, asserting that his teacher, Aristocles, had given them to him as a gift, and that in use their touch on the strings was hard.

170(186) He says that Theopompus writes that at Thesprotia coals are dug up from the earth which are capable of being ignited.


171(187)[1] He says that Phanias says that in certain places in Lesbos and Neandria, clods of earth are useful for eye conditions, [2] and if they are thrown into water, they neither sink nor are dissolved. [3] Into the same category should fall the type of brick in Pitane which is said to float.

172(188)[1] He says that Lycus relates, concerning animals, that in the island of Diomedeia the herons not only endure the touch of any Greek that approaches their haunts but even fly towards him and sink into his breast and fawn in a friendly manner < . . . . . >; [2] and that something like the following is said by the natives, that the comrades of Diomedes have been metamorphosed into the form of these birds.

173(189) He says that Theopompus asserts of the Eneti who dwell by the Adriatic Sea that at the sowing season they send gifts to the jackdaws, in the form of ground barley cakes. When those who have brought the cakes set them down they withdraw, and while the bulk of the birds stays thronging at the borders of the land, two or three fly forward and examine the offerings and then fly back, just as though they were ambassadors or scouts. So if the cro< wd . . . . . >.