1. Ὅταν τὰ ἤθη τὰ τῶν Θρᾳκῶν καὶ τοὺς κρυμοὺς ἀπολείπωσι τοὺς Θρᾳκίους αἱ γέρανοι, ἀθροίζονται μὲν ἐς τὸν Ἕβρον, λίθον δ᾿ ἑκάστη καταπιοῦσα, ὡς ἔχειν καὶ δεῖπνον καὶ πρὸς τὰς ἐμβολὰς τῶν ἀνέμων ἕρμα, πειρῶνται τοῦ μετοικισμοῦ καὶ τῆς ἐπὶ τὸν Νεῖλον ὁρμῆς, ἀλέας τε καὶ χειμερίου1 συντροφίας πόθῳ τῆς ἐκεῖθι. μελλουσῶν δὲ αὐτῶν αἴρεσθαι καὶ τοῦ πρόσω ἔχεσθαι, ὁ παλαίτατος γέρανος περιελθὼν τὴν πᾶσαν ἀγέλην ἐς τρίς, εἶτα μέντοι πεσὼν ἀφίησι τὴν ψυχήν. ἐνταῦθα2 οὖν οἱ λοιποὶ θάπτουσι μὲν τὸν νεκρόν, φέρονται δὲ εὐθὺ τῆς Αἰγύπτου, τὰ μήκιστα πελάγη περαιούμενοι τῷ ταρσῷ τῶν πτερῶν, καὶ οὔτε ὁρμίζονταί που οὔτε ἀναπαύονται. σπείροντας δὲ τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους καταλαμβάνουσι, καὶ τράπεζαν ὡς ἂν εἴποις ἄφθονον τὴν ἐν ταῖς ἀρούραις εὑρόντες εἶτα ἄκλητοι ξενίων μεταλαγχάνουσιν.

2. Τίκτεσθαι μὲν ἐν ὄρεσι ζῷα καὶ ἐν ἀέρι καὶ ἐν θαλάττῃ, θαῦμα οὔπω μέγα· ὕλη γὰρ καὶ τροφὴ καὶ φύσις ἡ τούτων αἰτία· ἔκγονα δὲ πυρὸς πτηνὰ εἶναι τοὺς καλουμένους πυριγόνους, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ βιοῦν καὶ τεθηλέναι, καὶ δεῦρο καὶ ἐκεῖσε περιποτᾶσθαι, τοῦτο ἐκπληκτικόν. καὶ τὸ ἔτι θαῦμα, ὅταν ἔξω τοῦ πυρὸς τοῦ συντρόφου ἐκνεύσωσι


On Animals, II

Book II

1. When Cranes are about to leave their ThracianThe migration of Cranes. haunts and the frosts of Thrace, they collect on the river Hebrus,a and when each one has swallowed a stone by way of food and as ballast against the onslaught of winds, they prepare to emigrate and to set out for the Nile, longing for the warmth and for the food that is to be had there during the winter. And just when they are on the point of rising and moving off, the oldest Crane goes round the entire flock thrice and then falls to the ground and breathes his last. So the others bury the dead body on the spot and fly straight to Egypt, traversing the widest seas on outstretched wing, never landing, never pausing to rest. And they fall in with the Egyptians as they are sowing their fields, and in the ploughlands they find, so to speak, a generous table, and though uninvited partake of the Egyptians’ hospitality.

2. That living creatures should be born upon the‘Fire-flies’ mountains, in the air, and in the sea, is no great marvel, since matter, food, and nature are the cause. But that there should spring from fire winged creatures which men call ‘Fire-flies.’b and that these should live and flourish in it, flying to and fro about it, is a startling fact. And what is more extraordinary, when these creatures stray outside the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aelian-characteristics_animals.1958