Aelian, Characteristics of Animals

LCL 449: 206-207

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πορθμόν, καὶ φαίνονταί γε καὶ ἔξαλοι. περινήχονται δὲ ἄρα αὐτοὺς καὶ δελφῖνες μεγέθει μέγιστοι. ὁ τοίνυν ἄρρην κριός, λευκὴν τὸ μέτωπον ταινίαν ἔχει περιθέουσαν (εἴποις ἂν Λυσιμάχου τοῦτο διάδημα ἢ Ἀντιγόνου ἤ τινος τῶν ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ βασιλέων ἄλλου)· κριὸς δὲ θῆλυς, ὡς οἱ ἀλεκτρυόνες τὰ κάλλαια,1 οὕτω τοι καὶ οὗτος ὑπὸ τῇ δέρῃ ἠρτημένους πλοκάμους ἔχει. ἁρπάζει δὲ ἄρα τοῖνδε τοῖν κριοῖν ἑκάτερος νεκρὰ2 σώματα, καὶ ποιεῖται τροφὴν αὐτά. ἀλλὰ καὶ ζῶντας ἁρπάζει,3 καὶ τῷ τῆς νήξεως κλύδωνι, πολὺς ὢν καὶ ὑπέρογκος, καὶ ναῦς περιτρέπει, χειμῶνα αὐταῖς ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ τοσοῦτον4 ἐργασάμενος. ἁρπάζει δὲ καὶ <τοὺς>5 ἀπὸ γῆς ἑστῶτας τῆς πλησίον. λέγουσι δὲ οἱ τὴν Κύρνον κατοικοῦντες, νεὼς διεφθαρμένης ἐν χειμῶνι ἄνδρα εὖ μάλα νηκτικὸν πολλὴν θάλατταν διανύσαντα λαβέσθαι τινὸς ἄκρας σφίσιν ἐπιχωρίου, καὶ ἀνελθόντα ἑστάναι καὶ μάλα ἀδεῶς, <ὡς>6 ἤδη κινδύνων ἁπάντων ἐλεύθερον γενόμενον καὶ ἐν ἀδείᾳ τοῦ ζῆν καὶ ἐξουσίᾳ ὄντα. κριὸν οὖν παρανηχόμενον θεάσασθαι τὸν ἑστῶτα, καὶ ἀναφλεχθέντα ὑπὸ τοῦ λιμοῦ ἑλίξαι τε ἑαυτὸν καὶ κυρτῶσαι καὶ τῷ οὐραίῳ μέρει πολλὴν ἐλάσαι θάλατταν, εἶτα ἑαυτὸν μετεωρίσαι ἀρθέντα ὑπὸ τοῦ οἰδήσαντος κύματος, καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἄκραν φθάσαι ἀναταθέντα καὶ δίκην καταιγίδος ἢ στροβίλου ἁρπάσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον. καὶ τὸ μὲν Κύρνειον ἅρπαγμά τε καὶ θήραμα τοῦ κριοῦ ἐς τοσοῦτον· μυθοποιοῦσι δὲ οἱ τὸν Ὠκεανὸν περιοικοῦντες7


On Animals, XV

Sardinia and actually appear above water. And round about them swim dolphins of very great size. Now the male Ram-fish has a white band running round its forehead (you might describe it as the tiara of a Lysimachusa or an Antigonus or of some other king of Macedon), but the female has curls, just as cocks have wattles, attached below its neck. Male and female alike pounce upon dead bodies and feed on them, indeed they even seize living men, and with the wave caused by their swimming, since they are large and of immense bulk, they even overturn vessels, such a storm do they unaided raise against them. And they even snatch men standing on the shore close at hand. The inhabitants of Corsica tell how, when a ship was wrecked in a storm, a man who was a very strong swimmer managed to swim over a wide expanse of sea and to secure a hold on some headland in their country; he climbed out and stood there, all fear banished, for he was now free from all perils, with no anxiety for his life, his own master. Now a Ram-fish which was swimming by caught sight of him as he stood, and inflamed with hunger turned about, arched its back, and with its tail drove a great mass of water forward, and then rose as the swelling wave lifted it, and in a moment was carried up on to the headland and like a hurricane or whirlwind seized the man. So much for the Ram-fish’s prey ravished off Corsica.

Those who live on the shores of Ocean tell a fable

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aelian-characteristics_animals.1958