Aelian, Characteristics of Animals

LCL 446: 208-209

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αἴρει τε αὐτὸν καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ αὔλια κομίζει, καὶ παρέμεινεν ὡς φίλῳ φίλος πιστός, καὶ τὴν εὔνοιαν ἐπεδείκνυτο. ὦ ἄνθρωποι πονηροὶ καὶ περὶ τράπεζαν μὲν καὶ ταγήνου ψόφον †ἀεί, ἐπ᾿ ἄριστά τε χορεύοντες,†1 ἐν δὲ τοῖς κινδύνοις προδόται, καὶ μάτην καὶ ἐς οὐδὲν τὸ τῆς φιλίας ὄνομα χαίνοντες.2

47. Δότε μοι τοὺς τραγῳδοὺς πρὸς τοῦ πατρῴου Διὸς καὶ πρό γε ἐκείνων τοὺς μυθοποιοὺς ἐρέσθαι τί βουλόμενοι τοσαύτην ἄγνοιαν τοῦ παιδὸς τοῦ Λαΐου καταχέουσι τοῦ συνελθόντος τῇ μητρὶ τὴν δυστυχῆ σύνοδον, καὶ τοῦ Τηλέφου3 τοῦ μὴ πειραθέντος μὲν τῆς ὁμιλίας, συγκατακλινέντος δὲ τῇ γειναμένῃ καὶ πράξαντος ἂν τὰ αὐτά, εἰ μὴ4 θείᾳ πομπῇ διεῖρξεν ὁ δράκων· εἴ γε ἡ φύσις τοῖς ἀλόγοις ζῴοις τὴν τοιαύτην μίξιν καὶ ἐκ τοῦ χρωτὸς5 δίδωσι κατανοῆσαι, καὶ οὐ δεῖται γνωρισμάτων οὐδὲ τοῦ ἐκθέντος ἐς τὸν Κιθαιρῶνα.6 οὐκ ἂν γοῦν ποτε τῇ τεκούσῃ ὁμιλήσειε7 κάμηλος. ὁ δέ τοι νομεὺς τῆς ἀγέλης κατακαλύψας τὸν θῆλυν ὡς οἷόν τε ἦν καὶ ἀποκρύψας πάντα πλὴν τῶν ἄρθρων, τὸν παῖδα ἐπάγει τῇ μητρί, καὶ ἐκεῖνος λάθριος ὑπὸ ὁρμῆς τῆς πρὸς μίξιν ἔδρασε τὸ ἔργον καὶ συνῆκε. καὶ τὸν μὲν αἴτιον τῆς ὁμιλίας οἱ τῆς ἐκθέσμου δάκνων καὶ πατῶν καὶ


On Animals, III

him and brought him to its stable and stayed by his side, as one trusty friend might do to another, thus showing its kindly nature.

O wicked men, for ever busy (?) about the table and the clash of frying-pans and dancing to your lunch, but traitors in the hour of danger, in whose mouth the word ‘Friendship’ is vain and of no effect.

47. In the name of Zeus our father, permit me toExamples of incest ask the tragic dramatists and their predecessors, the inventors of fables, what they mean by showering such a flood of ignorance upon the son of Laïusa who consummated that disastrous union with his mother; and upon Telephusb who, without indeed attempting union, lay with his mother and would have done the same as Oedipus, had not a serpent sent by the gods kept them apart, when Nature allows unreasoning animals to perceive by mere contact the nature of this union, with no need for tokens nor for the presence of the man who exposed Oedipus on Cithaeron.

The Camel, for instance, would never couple with its mother. Now the keeper of a herd of camels covered up a female as far as possible, hiding all but its parts, and then drove the son to its mother. The beast, all unwitting, in its eagerness to copulate, did the deed, then realised what it had done. It bit and trampled on the man who was the cause of its unlawful

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aelian-characteristics_animals.1958