Ἄνθρωπον μὲν εἶναι σοφὸν καὶ δίκαιον καὶ τῶν οἰκείων παίδων προμηθέστατον, καὶ τῶν γειναμένων ποιεῖσθαι τὴν προσήκουσαν φροντίδα, καὶ τροφὴν ἑαυτῷ μαστεύειν καὶ ἐπιβουλὰς φυλάττεσθαι καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ὅσα αὐτῷ σύνεστι δῶρα φύσεως, παράδοξον ἴσως οὐδέν· καὶ γὰρ λόγου μετείληχεν ἄνθρωπος τοῦ πάντων τιμιωτάτου, καὶ λογισμοῦ ἠξίωται, ὅσπερ οὖν ἐστι πολυαρκέστατός τε καὶ πολυωφελέστατος· ἀλλὰ καὶ θεοὺς αἰδεῖσθαι οἶδε καὶ σέβειν. τὸ δὲ καὶ τοῖς ἀλόγοις μετεῖναί τινος ἀρετῆς κατὰ φύσιν,1 καὶ πολλὰ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων πλεονεκτημάτων καὶ θαυμαστὰ ἔχειν συγκεκληρωμένα, τοῦτο ἤδη μέγα. καὶ εἰδέναι γε μὴ ῥᾳθύμως τὰ προσόντα αὐτῶν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ, καὶ ὅπως ἐσπουδάσθη οὐ μεῖον τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ <τὰ>2 τῶν ἄλλων ζῴων, εἴη ἄν τινος πεπαιδευμένης φρενὸς καὶ μαθούσης πολλά. ὡς μὲν οὖν καὶ ἑτέροις ὑπὲρ τούτων ἐσπούδασται, καλῶς οἶδα · ἐγὼ δὲ [ἐμαυτῷ]3 ταῦτα ὅσα οἷόν τε ἦν ἀθροίσας καὶ περιβαλὼν αὐτοῖς τὴν συνήθη λέξιν, κειμήλιον οὐκ


On Animals, Prologue


On the Characteristics of Animals


There is perhaps nothing extraordinary in the fact that man is wise and just, takes great care to provide for his own children, shows due consideration for his parents, seeks sustenance for himself, protects himself against plots, and possesses all the other gifts of nature which are his. For man has been endowed with speech, of all things the most precious, and has been granted reason, which is of the greatest help and use. Moreover, he knows how to reverence and worship the gods. But that dumb animals should by nature possess some good quality and should have many of man’s amazing excellences assigned to them along with man, is indeed a remarkable fact. And to know accurately the special characteristics of each, and how living creatures also have been a source of interest no less than man, demands a trained intelligence and much learning. Now I am well aware of the labour that others have expended on this subject, yet I have collected all the materials that I could; I have clothed them in untechnical language, and am persuaded that my achievement is a treasure

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aelian-characteristics_animals.1958