Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 353: 40-41

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Pliny: Natural History

eum vero qui telum quidem miserit sed non vulneraverit correptum rotatumque sternit nec vulnerat. cum pro catulis feta dimicat, oculorum aciem traditur 52defigere in terram ne venabula expavescat. cetero dolis carent et suspicione, nec limis intuentur oculis aspicique simili modo nolunt. creditum est a moriente humum morderi lacrimamque leto dari. atque hoc tale tamque saevum animal rotarum orbes circumacti currusque inanes et gallinaceorum cristae cantusque etiam magis terrent, sed maxime ignes. aegritudinem fastidii tantum sentit, in qua medetur ei contumelia, in rabiern agente adnexarum1 lascivia simiarum; gustatus deinde sanguis in remedio est.


XX. Leonum simul plurium pugnam Romae princeps dedit Q. Scaevola P. f. in curuli aedilitate, centum autem iubatorum primus omnium L. Sulla, qui postea dictator fuit, in praetura; post eum Pompeius Magnus in circo dc, in iis iubatorum cccxv, Caesar dictator cccc.


XXI. Capere eos ardui erat quondam operis, foveisque maxime. principatu Claudii casus rationem docuit pudendam paene talis ferae nomine pastorem2 Gaetuliae, sago contra ingruentis impetum obiecto, quod spectaculum in harenam protinus



crowd. Yet a person who discharges a weapon at him but fails to wound him he seizes and whirling him round flings him on the ground, but does not wound him. It is said that when a mother lion is fighting in defence of her cubs she fixes the gaze of her eyes upon the ground so as not to flinch from the hunting spears. Otherwise lions are devoid of craft and suspicion, and they do not look at you with eyes askance and dislike being looked at in a similar way. The belief has been held that a dying lion bites the earth and bestows a tear upon death. Yet though of such a nature and of such ferocity this animal is frightened by wheels turning round and by empty chariots, and even more by the crested combs and the crowing of cocks, but most of all by fires. The only malady to which it is liable is that of distaste for food; in this condition it can be cured by insulting treatment, the pranks of monkeys tied to it driving it to fury; and then tasting their blood acts as a remedy.

XX. A fight with several lions at once was firstLions in the circus. bestowed on Rome by Quintus Scaevola,a son Publius, when consular aedile, but the first of all who exhibited a combat of 100 maned lions was Lucius Sulla, later dictator, in his praetorship.b After Sulla Pompey the Great showed in the Circus 600, including 315 with manes, and Caesar when dictatorc 400.

XXI. Capturing lions was once a difficult task,The capture and taming of lions. chiefly effected by means of pitfalls. In the principate of Claudius accident taught a Gaetulian shepherd a method that was almost one to be ashamed of in the case of a wild animal of this nature: when it charged he flung a cloak against its onset—a feat that was immediately transferred to the arena as a show,—the

  • aConsul 95 b.c.
  • b93 b.c.
  • c49, 48, 46, 45 and 44 b.c.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938