§ 1.1 Book I:
To thee, blessed one, I sing: thou glorious bulwark of the earth, lovely light of the warlike sons of Aeneas, sweet scion of Ausonian Zeus, Antoninus, whom Domna bare to Severus, mighty mother to mighty sire. Happy the husband whom she wedded and happy the son to whom she gave birth — bride of the best of men and mother of a noble son, Assyrian Cythereia, the uneclipsed Moon; a son no meaner than the breed of Cronian Zeus (with favour of Titan Phaethon be it spoken and of Phoebus Apollo!); to whom thy sire, by the labour of his mighty hands, gave in keeping all the dry land and all the wet sea. Yea, for thee doth earth, giver of all gifts, conceive and blossom; for thee again the sunny sea rears pher splendid broods; for thee flow all the streams from Ocean; for thee with cheerful smile springs up the glorious Dawn.
Fain then am I to sing the glorious devices of the chase. So biddeth me Calliope, so Artemis herself. I hearkened, as is meet, I hearkened to the heavenly voice, and I answered the goddess who first to me spake thus.
ARTEMIS. Arise, let us tread a rugged path, which never yet hath any mortal trodden with his song.
OPPIAN. Be gracious, holy Lady, and whatsoever things though thinkest in thy mind, these will we declare with our mortal voice.
ART. I would not now have thee sing Mountain-Bacchus of the triennial feast, nor his choir by the deep waters of Aonian Asopus.
OPP. We will leave, as thou biddest, the nightly rites of Sabazius; often have I danced around Dionysus, son of Thyone.
ART. Tell not of the race of heroes, tell not of the seafaring Argo; sing not the battles of men, sing not to me the Destroyer of Men.
OPP. I will not tell of wars, nor of Ares' works most evil; I have remarked the Parthians' woes and Ctesiphon.
ART. Be silent about deadly passion and leave alone the girdles of love: I abhor what men call the toys of the Daughter of the Sea.
OPP. We have heard, O blessed Lady, that thou art uninitiate in marriage.
ART. Sing the battles of wild beasts and hunting men; sing of the breeds of hounds and the varied tribes of horses; the quick-witted counsels, the deeds of skilful tracking; tell me the hates of wild beasts, sing their friendships and their bridal chambers of tearless love upon the hills, and the births which among wild beasts need no midwifery. Such were the counsels of the daughter of mighty Zeus. I hear, I sing: may my song hit the mark! But do thou, who rulest from the East unto the Ocean, with serene joy on thine immortal brows, vouchsafe thy right hand gracious and prosperous to land and cities and to songs of the happy chase.
Triple sorts of hunting hath God bestowed on men — in air and on earth and on the sea delightful. But not equal is the venture: for how can these be equal — to draw the writhing fish from the deeps or hale the winged birds from the air and to contend with deadly wild beasts on the hills? Yet not for the fisherman either and truly not for the fowler is their hunting without toil. But their toil only pleasure attends and no bloodshed: unstained of gore are they. The angler sits on the rocks beside the sea and with curving rods and deadly hooks he catches, at his ease, the fish of varied sheen; and joy is his when he strikes home with barbs of bronze and sweeps through the air the writhing dancer of the sea, leaping high above the deeps. Yea and to the fowler his toil is sweet; for to their hunt the fowlers carry nor sword nor bill nor brazen spear, but the Hawk is their attendant when they travel to the woods, and the long cords and the clammy yellow birdlime and the reeds that tread an airy path. Who would dare to sing of these things as of equal weight? Or who would pit the Eagle against the Lion King? And who would liken the Muraena to the venom of the Pard, or Jackal to Hawk, or Rhinoceros to Sea-urchin, or Gull to Wild Goat, or any Sea-monster to the Elephant? Hunters kill Wolves, fishermen kill Tunnies; the hunter with his net takes Sheep, the fowler with his reeds takes Doves; the hunter with his hounds takes the Bear, the angler takes the Mormyrus; the mounted hunter takes the Tiger, the fisher with his trident takes the Red Mullet; the tracker takes the Boar, the fowler with his birdlime takes the Nightingale. But thou, Nereus, and ye gods of Amphitrite and the choir of Dryads who love the birds, grant me your grace! For now dear themes of song invite me earnestly; I, turning back, proceed to sing to the gods of the chase.
§ 1.80 First, give me young men who are not over-stout. For the hunter must mount the noble horse amid the rocks and anon must leap a ditch. And often in the woods must he with light feet and nimble limbs pursue the wild beast. Therefore let them not be stout who come to the warfare of the chase, nor yet over-lean; for at times the keen hunter must contend with warlike wild beasts. So I would have them bear a body tempered thus — both swift to run and strong to fight. And in the right hand let them brandish two long javelins and have a hunting-bill at the midst of their girdle. For you should both array bitter slaughter for wild beasts and also carry defences against evil men. With his left hand the hunter on foot should lead his hounds; with his left the mounted hunter should guide the bridle that steers his horse. Let him wear a tunic well-girt and fastened above the knee and held tight by crossing straps. Again on either side of his neck let his mantle be flung back over his strong shoulders  to hang away from the hands, for easy toil. With naked feet should they travel who study dim tracks of wild beasts, lest the noise of their sandals grating under their sleek feet drive sleep from the eyes of the wild beasts. To have no mantle at all were much better; since many a time a cloak stirred by the breath of the noisy wind alarms the wild beasts and they start up to flee. Thus let hunters well array the agile body; for such doth the archer daughter of Leto love.
Other times at other hour let them go after the wild beasts — at rising morn and when the day wanes and at mid-day and anon at evening; sometimes again even in the dark they slay wild beasts by the rays of the moon. The whole span of day is favourable and fair to the hunter for all-day coursing in leafy spring and in autumn when the leaves fall. For excellent well tempered for the running of horses and men and carrion dogs are the seasons in golden spring which puts to rout the chilly clouds; when the sea is navigable for seafaring men, who spread the white rigging of their canvas-winged ships, what time the earth rejoices in them that tend plants; when, too, she looses the bands of bud and flower; or again in late autumn when the year is on the turn, when the house of the rustic vintager flourishes; when the fruit of Athena fills the shining pail and the clusters of the garden vines joyfully straiten the wine-vats; when the lilywhite combs fill the hives of the bees. But in mid-winter let the hunters hunt at mid-day, in the season when in the woods the swain shelters in a cave and gathering dry sticks and piling a swiftly dying flame lies down beside the fire and makes his supper. And in summer the hunter must shun the fiery assault and heat of the sun: at earliest dawn I bid him come to his task, when in the morning the countrymen with well-fashioned stilt guide the earth-cutting plough behind the steers beneath the pole; or again at evening when the sun slopes his team toward the West; when herdsmen command their herds what time they travel homeward to their folds, heavy of breast and swollen of udder; and, bounding incontinently from the stone-built steading, all leap about their beloved mothers — the bright-eyed calves about the large-eyed cows, the lambs about the bleating horned ewes, the kids about the bleating goats, and about the brood mares their swift foals.
And these are the weapons of the glorious chase which the stalwart hunters should carry to hill and wood, these their arms breathing of the blood of beasts: purse-nets and well-twisted withes and long sweep-net and hayes and net-props and grievous fettering nooses, three-pronged spear, broad-headed hunting lance, hare-stick and stakes and swift winged arrow, swords and axes and hare-slaying trident, bent hooks and land-bound crooks, cord of twisted broom and the well-woven foot-trap, and ropes and net-stays and the many-meshed seine.
§ 1.160 As for Horses, let them bring to the hunt proud stallions; not only because mares are inferior in speed for accomplishing a long course in the woods but also because it is needful to avoid the amorous passion of swift-footed horses and to keep mares far away, lest in their amorous desire they neigh and, hearing, the wild beasts incontinently betake them to chilly flight — fawns and swift gazelles and timid hare.
Various are the tribes of horses, even as the countless races of men, the diverse tribes of mortals that live by bread. Nevertheless I will declare which are best among them all, which are foremost in the companies of horses; to wit, the Tuscan, Sicilian, Cretan, Mazician, Achaean, Cappadocian, Moorish, Scythian, Magnesian, Epeian, Ionian, Armenian, Libyan, Thracian, Erembian. As the best horse of all men skilled in horse-racing and overseers of herds have remarked the horse whose body is crowned with these features. He should have a small head rising high above his neck, himself being big and round of limb; the head should be high, the nether jaw curving toward the neck; the brow should be broad and bright; from the temples the hair should wave in dense curls about the forehead; the eye should be clear and fiery under beetling brows; the nostrils should be wide, the mouth adequate, the ears small; the neck of the shaggy-maned horse should be curved, even as the arched crest of a plumed helmet; the breast should be large, the body long, the back broad, with a double chine running between fat hips; behind should flow pan abundant hairy tail; the thighs should be well compact and muscular; the rounded cannons beneath should be straight and long and very thin, and the limbs should be unfleshy, even as in the horned windswift stag; the pastern should be sloping; the rounded hoof should run high above the ground, close-grained, horny, strong. Such would I have the horse to be who goes to the fierce warfare with wild beasts, a spirited helper, warlike and strong. Such are the Tuscan horses and the Armenian and the Achaean and the famous Cappadocian horses which dwell in front of Taurus. A marvel have I seen among the Cappadocian horses; so long as they have their foal teeth in their mouth and are milk-fed, they are weakling, but as they grow older, they become swifter.  Those are the horses which thou shouldst array for manly war and against fierce wild beasts; for they are very brave to face arms and break the serried phalanx and contend against warlike wild beasts. How in the battle doth the war-horse hearken to the martial note of the long trumpet that the makes the din of conflict! How with unwinking eyes doth he look upon the dense array of armed warriors, the gleaming bronze, the flashing sword! He hath learned also when it behoves him to stand and anon to charge; and he hath learned to hearken to the watchword of mighty captains. Often, too, he calmly brings nigh to the towers the warfare of men with soaring shields, when athwart the heads of men shield presses upon shield, what time they are fain to sack the city of the enemy and fashion aloft a plain with their shields of sevenfold hides, daedal and dense and many-bossed; in front the sunlight glances from the bronze and straightway behind great space of sky lightens with rays refracted. To horses beyond all mortal creatures cunning Nature has given a subtle mind and heart. Always they know their own dear charioteer and they neigh when they see their glorious rider and greatly mourn their comrade when he falls in war. Ere now in battle a horse has burst the bonds of silence and overleapt the ordinance of nature and taken a human voice and a tongue like that of man. Bucephalas, the horse of the warrior king of Macedon, fought against armed men. A horse there was which ran with light feet over the corn-ears and brake them not; another ran over the sea and wetted not his coronet. A horse carried above the clouds him that slew the Chimaera; and the neighing of a horse through the craft of his charioteer made one king of the Asian Persians. Above others, again, horses honour nature, and it is utterly unheard of that they should indulge unlawful passion, but they remain unstained of pollution and cherish chaste desire. I have heard how of old a prince of great possessions had in his fields a fair herd of horses. All these a disease of horses utterly destroyed, leaving but two — only a mare and a foal yet at its mother's foot. But when it grew up, the wicked man essayed to mate the foal with its dam. And when he saw a union forsworn of both, immediately he with dreadful design wove a subtle device, hoping to call back his breed of horses. First in his craft he covered both with alien hides, and then he anointed all their bodies with sweet-smelling oil and fragrant; for he hoped to destroy the tell-tale scent. And, ye blessed gods, without their knowledge he wrought his wickedness and there was fulfilled a union monstrous and abominable and most abhorred of horses, like that dread marriage that was made of old among men, the Cadmean bridal of the wanderer Oedipus. But when they were made naked and knew their sin, and in sorrow and with eyes askance looked one on the other, the unhappy mother on her dishonoured son, and he anon, victim of a terrible and evil union, upon his poor unmothered mother, they leapt on high, snorting terribly, and brake their bonds and went neighing loudly as if they were calling the blessed gods to witness their evil plight and cursing him who contrived their woeful union; and at last, rushing wildly in their grief, they dashed their foreheads against the rocks and brake the bones and took away their light of life, self-slain, leaning their heads on one another. So report proclaims the fame of the horses of former days. Now of all the breeds of horses the infinite earth nourishes most swift are the Sicilian, which dwell in Lilybaeum and where the three-peaked hill that covers Enceladus, as the thunderbolt belches forth in beams reaching to the sky, discharges the eternal fire of Sicilian Aetna. Fleeter than the Sicilian are by the streams of Euphrates the Armenian and Parthian horses of flowing mane. Yet the Parthian horses are greatly excelled by the Iberian, which gallop over the plains with swifter feet. With them might vie only the eagle speeding over the vales of air, or the hawk hasting with long pinions spread, or the dolphin gliding over the grey waves. So fleet are the Iberian horses of wind-swift feet; but they are small and weak of spirit and unvaliant of heart and in a few furlongs are found wanting in speed; and though clothed in fair form and glorious shape, yet the hoof is lacking in strength, bred to soft ground and broad. The dappled breed of Moorish horses are far the best of all for extended courses and laborious toil. And next to these for accomplishing a long course come the Libyan horses, even those which dwell in many-pebbled Cyrene. Both are of similar type, save only that the strong Libyan horses are larger to look at; but these latter are long of body, having in their sides more space of broad rib than others, and hence are stouter to look at and superior in a charge and good at enduring the fierce force of the sun and the keen assault of noontide thirst.
§ 1.300 The Tuscan horses and the immense Cretan breeds are both swift in running and long of body. The Sicilian are swifter than the Moorish horses, while the Parthian are swifter than the Sicilian, grey-eyed also and eminently handsome, and they alone abide the loud roar of the lion. For verily against different wild beasts different breeds of horses are fitting in many cases, as the eyes declare. Against the deer of spotted feet thou shouldst array dark-eyed horses; blue-eyed against bears; tawny-eyed against leopards; fiery and flaming against swine; brilliant and grey of eye against the grey-eyed lion. In beauty the most excellent of all horses is the Nesaean, which wealthy kings drive; beautiful to behold, gentle to ride and obedient to the bit, small of head but shaggy-maned, glorying in the yellow locks on either side his neck.
Yet another lovely breed thou mayst see, the dappled conspicuous breed which men call the Orynx, either because they flourish on the grassy hills (οὔρεσιν), or because you are very eager to mate (ὀρούειν) with their females. In the case of the Orynxes there are two species of many-patterned beauty. One species are inscribed on neck and broad hairy back with a series of long stripes, even as the swift tigers, the offspring of rapid Zephyrus. The others are adorned all about with densely set round spots, like those of leopards; this species while they are still but baby foals, are tattooed by skilful men, who brand their long hair with the flaming bronze. And ofttimes men have contrived other subtle devices for inscribing the foal while yet pin his mother's womb. O what a heart, what a mind have mortal men! They do as they list; they make horses of varied colours while yet enveloped in the milky mother's loins. What time the mating impulse seizes the mare and she abides the approach of the glorious high-spirited horse, then they cunningly adorn the beautiful sire. All about they inscribe all his body with spots of colour and to his bride they lead him, glorying in his beauty. Even as some youth, arrayed by the bridal women in white robes and purple flowers and breathing of the perfume of Palestine, steps into the bridal chamber singing the marriage song, so while the hasting horse neighs his bridal song, long time in front of his bride they stay her glorious spouse, foaming in his eagerness; and late and at last they let him go to satisfy his desire. And the mare conceives and bears a many-patterned foal, having received in her womb the fertile seed of her spouse, but in her eyes his many-coloured form. Such devices have they also with cunning wits contrived whose business is with reed, even the fowlers, when they variegate the young of doves. For when the swift doves mate and mingle mouths with their deep-noted spouses, then the breeder of tame birds contrives a glorious device. Near the hen-birds he puts many vari-coloured purple cloths; and they, beholding them with eyes askant are gladdened in their hearts and produce sea-purple children. Nay, even so also the Laconians contrived a subtle device for their dear wives when they are pregnant. Near them they put pictures of beautiful forms, even the youths that aforetime were resplendent among mortal men, Nireus and Narcissus and Hyacinthus of the goodly ashen spear, and Castor with his helmet, and Polydeuces that slew Amycus, and the youthful twain who are admired among the blessed gods, laurel-crowned Phoebus and Dionysus of the ivy wreath. And the women rejoice to behold their lovely form and, fluttered by their beauty, bear beautiful sons.
Thus much about horses; but now descend, my soul, to the lay of Dogs. These among dogs are the most excellent and greatly possess the mind of hunters: to wit, Paeonian, Ausonian, Carian, Thracian, Iberian, Arcadian, Argive, Lacedaemonian, Tegean, Sauromatian, Celtic, Cretan, Magnesian, Amorgian, and those which on the sandy banks of Egypt watch the herds, and the Locrian and the bright-eyed Molossian.
If thou shouldst desire to mix two breeds, then first of all mate the dogs in the spring; for in spring chiefly the works of love possess the hearts of wild beasts and dogs and deadly snakes and the fowls of the air and the finny creatures of the sea. In spring the serpent, foul with angry venom, comes to the shore to meet his sea bride; in spring all the deep rings with love and the calm sea foams with fishes mating; in spring the male pigeon pursues the female; horses assail the pasturing mares and bulls lust after the cows of the field; in spring the rams mate with the sows, the he-goats the shaggy females; yes, and mortals also in spring are more prone to desire; for in spring the spell of Love is heavy upon all.
In mating the tribes of dogs take heed that the breeds are fit and right suitable for one another. Mate Arcadian with Elean, Cretan with Paeonian, Carian with Thracian, Tuscan breed with Laconian; put a Sarmatian sire with an Iberian dam. So shall you mix the breeds aright; but far best of all it is that the breeds should remain pure, and those all hunters judge best.
§ 1.400 Those breeds are without number, and the form and type of them should be approximately these. The body should be long and strong and adequate; the head light and with good eyes; the eyes should be dark of sheen; the saw-toothed mouth should be long; the ears that crown the head should be small and furnished with membranes; the neck long and under it the breast strong and broad; the front legs should be shorter than the hinder; the shanks should be straight, thin, and long; the shoulder-blades should be broad; the row of ribs sloping obliquely; the haunches well-fleshed but not fat; and behind the far-shadowing tail should be stiff and prominent. Such are the dogs which should be arrayed for the swift chase of gazelle and deer and swift-footed hare.
Another species there is, impetuous and of steadfast valor, who attack even bearded bulls and rush upon monstrous boars and destroy them, and tremble not even at their lords the lions; a stalwart breed, like unto high-crested mountain peaks. Somewhat flat-nosed of face they are, and dread are their bended brows above and fiery their eyes, flashing with grey light; all their hide is shaggy, the body strong, the back broad. They are not swift, but they have abundant spirit and genuine strength unspeakable and dauntless courage. Array then for the hunt such breeds of warlike dogs, which put to flight all manner of beasts. But as to colour, both white and black are bad exceedingly; for they are not readily able to bear the might of the sun nor the rage of the snowy winter season. Among all dogs those are the best whose colour is like that of ravenous wild beasts, sheep-slaying wolves or wind-swift tigers or foxes and swift leopards, or those which have the colour of Demeter's yellow corn; for these are very swift and strong.
If now prudent dog-breeding is thy care, never suckle whelps on the fresh breast of goats or sheep nor domestic dogs — for they will be sluggish and feeble and heavy — but on the breast of deer or tame lioness or gazelle or she-wolf that roams by month; for so shalt thou make them strong and swift exceedingly, like unto their milky foster-mothers themselves.
To the young whelps give names that are short and swiftly spoken that they may hear a command swiftly. And from their whelphood let them be acquainted with the mighty horses of the hunt and friendly and familiar with all men and hostile only to wild beasts. Neither let them be prone to bark; for silence is the rule for hunters and above all for trackers.
Tracking the dim trail is of two sorts, by men and by dogs. Men, cunning of counsel, divine and mark the trail by the eyes; dogs trace all tracks by the nostrils. Now for men winter is a favourable season and they track the quarry with untroubled eyes, since every mark is written in the snow to see and the likeness of the foot remains imprinted in the mud. For dogs spring is hostile but autumn kindly; for in spring the grassy earth is many-scented and over-full of herbs and flowers, and all around the fair-crowned meadows without tillage are purple, while the tilled fields destroy all the scent which is the ambassadress to the keen-nosed tracking dogs. But in autumn, rich in fruit and sweet with grapes, grass and herbs and flowers wax old and the scent of the wild beasts remains naked for the hounds.
There is one valiant breed of tracking dogs, small indeed but as worthy as large dogs to be the theme of song; bred by the wild tribes of the painted Britons and called by the name of Agasseus. Their size is like that of the weak and greedy domestic table dog; round, very lean, shaggy of hair, dull of eye, it has its feet armed with grievous claws and its mouth sharp with close-set venomous tushes. With its nose especially the Agassian dog is most excellent and in tracking it is best of all; for it is very clever at finding the track of things that walk the earth but skilful too to mark the airy scent.
When some hunter desires to make trial of his dogs, he carries in his hands before the high gates a hare, dead or alive, and walks forward on a devious path, now pursuing a straight course, now aslant, left and right twisting his crooked way; but when he has come very far from the city and the gates, then he digs a trench and buries the hare. Returning back to the city, he straightway brings nigh the path the cunning dog; and immediately it is excited and snorts at the scent of the hare, and seeks the track upon the ground, but for all its eagerness is not able to find it and roams about in great distress. Even as when a girl in the tenth lunar month, smitten by the birth-pangs of her first child, undoes her hair and undoes the drapery of her breasts and, poor girl, without tunic and without snood, roams everywhere about the house, and in her anguish now goes to the hall
§ 1.500 and anon rushes to her bed, and sometimes throws herself in the dust and mars her rosy cheeks; so the dog, distressed by devouring grief, rushes this way and that and searches every stone in turn and every knoll and every path and trees and garden vines and dykes and threshing-floors. And when at last he hits the airy trail, he gives tongue and whines for joy; even as the little calves leap about the uddered cows, so the dog rejoices exceedingly, and in haste he winds his way over the mazy fields; nor couldst thou lead him astray, even if thou shouldst drive him very far, but he runs straight on, holding steadfastly to the sweet scent, until he reaches the end of his labour and to his goal. But if thou wert to array him against the hare difficult of capture, stealthily he draws nigh, planting step on step, hiding low under vines or stubble, even as the robber thief of kids who, watching near at hand the sleeping shepherd, quietly steals upon the fold. But when he approaches the covert of the hare, swiftly he springs, like an arrow from the bow or like the hissing snake which some harvester or ploughman has disturbed when lying quietly in front of his venomous lair. So the dog gives tongue and springs; and if he hit his quarry, easily he will overcome him with his sharp claws and take his great load in his mouth and go to meet his master: swiftly he carries his burden but labouring and heavy-laden he draws near. As the wain brings from the cornfield the fruits of harvest and comes to the steading laden with wheat and the rustics when they see it rush forth together to meet it in front of the yard; one presses on the wheels, another on the frame, another on the axle to help the oxen; and when they come into the yard they unstrap the pole and the sweating steers have respite from their toil, and the heart of the swinked teamster rejoices exceedingly; even so the dog comes bringing his burden in his mouth. And the swift hunter meets him joyfully and lifting both high from mother earth he puts in his bosom both the beast and the dog himself that slew the beast.
§ 2.1 Book II
Come now, daughter of Zeus, fair-ankled Phoebe, maid of the golden snood, twin birth with Apollo, declare, I pray thee, who among men and mighty heroes received at thy hands the glorious devices of the chase.
By the foot of windy Pholoe did savage tribes, half-beast half-men, human to the waist but from the waist horses, invent the chase for pastime after the banquet. Among men it was invented first by him who cut off the Gorgon's head, even Perseus, the son of golden Zeus; howbeit he soared on the swift wings of his feet to capture Hares and Jackals and the tribe of wild Goats and swift Gazelles and the breeds of Oryx and the high-headed dappled Deer themselves. Hunting on horseback did Castor, bringer of light, discover; and some beasts he slew by straight hurling of his javelin to the mark; others he pursued on swift horses and put them to bay in the noontide chase. Saw-toothed dogs were first arrayed for battle with wild beasts by Polydeuces of Lacedaemon, son of Zeus; for he both slew baleful men in the battle of the fists and overcame spotted wild beasts with swift hounds. Pre-eminent in close combat on the hills shone the son of Oeneus, warlike Meleager. Nets again and nooses and curving hayes did Hippolytus first reveal to hunting men. Winged death for wild beasts did Atalanta invent, the glorious daughter of Schoeneus, the maiden huntress of the Boar. And snaring by night, the guileful hunting of the dark, crafty Orion first discovered. These were the mighty leaders of the chase in former days. But afterward the keen passion seized many; for none who has once been smitten by the charms of the delightful hunt would ever willingly forsake it again: he is held by wondrous bonds. How sweet the sleep upon the flowers in springtime; how sweet in summer the low couch in some cave; what delight for hunters to break their fast amid the rocks and what joy attends them when they cull for themselves the flower of honied fruit; and the cold clear water flowing from a grotto — what a draft for a weary man and how sweet a bath; and in the woods what grateful gifts in pleasant baskets are brought by shepherds watching by their flocks!
But come now let us sing first the very jealous race of Bulls and tell of the tremendous feud which above others they wage with utter fury over their mating. One Bull is monarch of a herd and easily supreme, and he rules the lesser Bulls and females; the cows of the field too tremble at their own lord in his anger when he bellows. But when a Bull separates from the herd and arching his mighty neck comes against another all alone, he too being lord and master of his own, then between the twain arises violent war. First face to face they glare at one another and greatly quiver with wildly seething wrath and breathe fiery breath and tear up the earth with their feet, even as if they were wrestlers dusting themselves for fray. They challenge from either side, loudly bellowing the cry of battle; and when they have sounded the trumpet for grievous combat, incontinently they charge and straightway with their horns each wounds in turn all the body of the other. Even as in battle upon the deep when the sea War-god raises strife, two ships, splendidly flashing with serried warriors face to face, clash with opposing prows front to front, sped by the violent wind and the hands of the sailors; and amid brazen armour rings the din of men and the noise of crashing ships, and the whole sea seethes and groans; even in such wise the din of the Bulls ascends to heaven, as they smite amain and are smitten with their horns, until one wins the dear and doubtful victory. But the vanquished cannot endure the yoke of slavery. Ashamed and groaning heavily he goes unto a shady wood and alone among the rocks as the seasons circle round he pastures, retired among the thickets of the hill, as an athlete in training. And when he beholds his debated power and strength have waxed mighty, he straightway lifts up his voice upon the mountains; and the other answers; and therewith the forest resounds. But when he takes good heart for his mightier cry, then straightway from the hills he comes to meet his foe and easily overcomes him. For he has made his body fit by his pasture in the forest far from that lust of sex which saps the strength.
Many are the forms and countless the characters of Bulls. The Egyptian Bulls there are by the fruitful banks of the Nile which makes the wheat to grow, a many-branched river; white of colour they are and far the greatest of all in size: thou wouldst say it was a deep-drawing ship that was going upon the land. Yet are they kindly of spirit and familiar with men, and whatsoever mortals bid them, they obey with mildness.
The Phrygian Bulls are notable in colour, yellow and of the hue of fire. The neck is deeply fleshed, and high and lofty are the coiled curls upon their heads. Strange is the nature of their horns; for these are not fast fixed upon the powerful head, but they move them to and fro on either side.
The Aonian Bulls do not divide the hoof; a dappled breed they are and with a single horn — a dread horn which they project aloft from the midst of the forehead.
The Armenian Bulls have two horns, indeed, but these curved of form, a dread bane with their backward-bent points.
§ 2.100 The Syrian Bulls, the breed of the Chersonese, pasture about high well-builded Pella; tawny, strong, great-hearted, broad of brow, dwellers of the field, powerful, valiant of horn, wild of spirit, loud-bellowing, fierce, jealous, abundant of beard, yet they are not weighed down with fat and flesh of body, nor again are they lean and weak; so tempered are the gifts they have from heaven — at once swift to run and strong to fight. These are they which report said Heracles, the mighty son of Zeus, when fulfilling phis labours, drove of old from Erytheia, what time he fought with Geryoneus beside the Ocean and slew him amid the crags; since he was doomed to fulfil yet another labour, not for Hera nor at the behest of Eurystheus, but for his comrade Archippus, lord of holy Pella. For aforetime all the plain by the foot of Emblonus was flooded; since evermore in great volume rushed Orontes in his eagerness, forgetting the sea and burning with desire of the dark-eyed nymph, the daughter of Ocean. He lingered amid the heights and he covered the fertile earth, unwilling to forgo his hopeless love of Meliboea. With mountains on either side was he encircled round, mountains that on either hand leaned their heads together. From the East came the lofty form of Diocleium, and from the West the left horn of Emblonus, and in the midst himself raging in the plains, ever waxing and drawing nigh the walls, flooding with his waters that mainland at once and island, mine own city. Therefore was the son of Zeus destined straightway with club and mighty hands to apportion their water unto each, and to give separate course from the plain for the waters of the fair-tressed lake and the fair-flowing river. And he wrought his mighty labour, when he cut the girdle of the encircling hills and undid their stony bonds, and sent the river belching to its mouth, surging incontinent and wildly murmuring, and guided it toward the shores. And loudly roared the deep sea, and the mighty body of the Syrian shore echoed to the din. Not with such violent flood descend those contrary-travelling rivers on either side the echoing sea: here Ister, cleaving the white barriers of the North through Scythia, roars loudly everywhere, trailing amid precipices and water-smitten heights; while on the other hand the sounding sea trembles at the holy stream of Egypt when from Libya it breaks about it. So the mighty river Orontes made a noise of dread bellowing about the shores; and mightily roared the headlands when they received within their bosom the swell of the new-come sea; and the black and fertile earth took heart again, arisen from the waves, a new plain of Heracles. And to this day the fields flourish everywhere with corn and everywhere the works of oxen are heavy on the prosperous threshing-floors around the Memnonian shrine, where the Assyrian dwellers mourn for Memnon, the glorious son of the Morning, whom, when he came to help the sons of Priam, the doughty husband of Deidameia swiftly slew. Howbeit the spacious glories of our fatherland we shall sing in due order with sweet Pimplean song; now I turn back to sing of glorious hunting.
There is a terrible breed of deadly Bulls which they call Bisons, since they are natives of Bistonian Thrace. And they have forms of this sort. Over their shoulders you have bristling hair on their fleshy necks as also about their tender jaws; conspicuous form they have, even as the king of beasts, the shaggy, tawny, fierce-eyed Lion. Sharp are the curved points of their horns, like unto bent hooks of bronze; but the points of their hateful horns, unlike those of other cattle, incline athwart to face one another, and their deadly daggers are sloped backwards and look up to the sky. Therefore when they come upon and attack any man or wild beast, they lift their victim on high. Their tongue is narrow, but exceeding rough, even as the device of iron for devouring iron; and with the tongue they draw blood from the flesh and lick it.
Moreover the earth breeds the race of swift-footed Stags, goodly of horn, large of eye, handsome, of dappled back, spotted, conspicuous, river-swimming, lofty of head, fat of chine and lean of shank; the neck is weak and the tail again is very small; the nostrils are fourfold, four passages for the breath; the heart is weak and the spirit within cowardly; and the pointed horns that rise so high are but dummies; for they will never with their heads contend against strong wild beasts nor fierce dogs, nor even the timid hare of furry legs.
But there is rough passion among Stags and much venery, and a heart that burns for mating all the day, even as have the lustful fighting cocks and all the feathered birds of flowery plumage. They have hidden within their loins under the very belly twin ducts. If one cut these out, straightway he makes the animal effeminate, and from its head falls away all the daedal many-branched growth of sharp horns. But the manner of their mating is not after the custom of other beasts, but strange are the passions that possess them. Not standing in the pastoral valleys nor lying on the flowery grass upon the ground do the Stags consort with the female deer, but the hind runs and the Stag running with swift feet overtakes her and seizes the fugitive and embraces her for his bride. But not even so does he persuade her. Carrying her mate upon her back she flees with all her might, having a heart altogether implacable. But he following swiftly on two feet forgoes not his desire but accomplishes the rites of union. Howbeit, when afterward with the circling of the moons the female brings forth her young, she avoids the track of men, because the paths of mortals are profane to wild beasts.
Above all wild beasts the Stags of goodly horn plume themselves upon their beauty, having a rich and various growth of horn. Indeed when their branching horns in due season fall off, they dig a trench in the ground and bury them, lest someone chance upon them in the furrow and take them, and themselves hide in the depths of the dense thickets, ashamed that wild beasts should behold thus naked their heads that aforetime soared so high.
Deer are amphibious. For they tread the solid earth and cross the deep, voyaging together in company when they travel over the sea. One in front leads the Deer in line, even as a pilot handles the helm of a ship. Another behind rests on his back his neck and head and so travels with him in his seafaring. And so in turn, one supporting another, they plough the sea. But when weariness overtakes the foremost swimmer, he leaves his rank and goes to the end of the line and resting on another takes a little respite from his toil, while another takes the helm and journeys over the deep. And all the swimmers leading in turn, they row the dark water with their feet as with oars, and hold aloft the varied beauty of their horns, submitting them, like the sails of a ship, to the breezes.
All the race of Snakes and Deer wage always bitter feud with one another, and everywhere in the mountain glens the Deer seeks out the bold serpent. But when he sees the snaky trail woven with long coils, greatly exulting he draws nigh to the lair and puts his nostrils to the hole, with violent breath drawing the deadly reptile to battle. And the compelling blast hales him, very loth to fight, from the depth of his lair. For straightway the venomous beast beholds his foe and raises high in the air his baleful neck and bares his white teeth, bristling sharp, and snaps his jaws, blowing and hissing fast. And immediately in his turn the Deer, like one who smiles, rends with his mouth the vainly struggling foe, and, while he writhes about his knees and neck, devours him amain. And on the ground are shed many remains, quivering and writhing in death. Haply thou wouldst pity, unkindly though he be, the ravenous monster rent piecemeal with deadly wounds.
In the borders of Libya, a pasture land of horses, roams a great and countless host of deadly spotted Snakes. When a Stag lies down alone on the sandy hills, straightway upon him from every side rush the hostile swarm of Snakes beyond number and the hateful venomous ranks. In his hide they fix their bitter teeth, swarming around about all the limbs of the Stag. Some devote themselves to his head above and fix their teeth in brow and forehead; others rend with their mouths his slender neck and breast and his flanks and belly; others again cling to his ribs on either side; others feed on his thighs and back above; one here, one there, with deadly impalement they hang about him. And he, full of all manner of pain, first is fain to escape on swift feet, but he has not the strength; such an infinite crowd of cruel spotted snakes besets him. Then, oppressed by grievous constraint, he makes a stand and with his jaws he rends the infinite hostile tribes, bellowing the while for pain; and wheeling this way and that he makes havoc of the reptile race which make no endeavour to escape. Yet they do not let go their hold, but abide steadfast unto death, having a relentless mind and a heart not to be turned. And some he rends with his jaws; others he destroys with foot and hoof, and on the ground flows from the serpents pan endless bloody stream, and the limbs and joints of the beasts half-devoured quiver upon the ground; others again upon his ribs he crushes half-dead; for even in death they still keep hold with their strong teeth and, clinging to his hide, their mere heads still groan. But he, knowing the gift that he hath gotten from Heaven, seeks everywhere for the dark stream of a river. Therefrom he kills crabs with his jaws and so gets a self-taught remedy for his painful woe; and speedily the remnants of the cruel beasts fall from his hide of their own motion beside his feet, and the wounds of their teeth on either side close up. The Stag, moreover, lives a long time, and of a truth men say that he lives four lives of a crow.
Others again men call Broad-horns. They are altogether deer but they carry aloft such nature of horns as the name of the beast declares. Other beasts in the woods they call Iorcus. These also have the form of a deer, but on their back they have a hide, all various with spots, like the marks that twinkle upon the skin of the wild Leopards.
§ 2.300 The Antelope again is less in stature than the Broad-horn: less than the Broad-horn but far mightier than the Gazelle: bright of eye, lovely in colour, cheerful of aspect. Straight from the head spring the long branches of its horns but aloft they bend again toward the back with curved points. Above all others doth this race love its own home and its accustomed lair and its dwelling in the glades. Even if hunters bind it with twisted ropes and carry it straightway to other regions and far away in the glens leave it there to its freedom, easily doth it come to the sweet home where it used to dwell and endures not to wander as a stranger amid aliens. Not then to men alone is their native land dear, but even in the hearts of the dappled wild beasts is instilled a desire of home.
Furthermore we all know the conspicuous tribes of the most swift Gazelles, their beauty alike and their stature and their strength. The lustful Partridges, fiery of eye and speckled of neck, make pact of friendship with the Gazelles in the vales and are familiar with them and dwell with them and have their nests near them and do not range apart from them. Verily it may well be that afterward they reap bitter fruit of their companionship and laughterless profit of their friendship, when guileful men contrive a cunning device against the hapless creatures, setting the Partridges to decoy their friends the Gazelles and, in turn, setting the Gazelles in like manner to decoy their comrades the Partridges.
Again there are the wild tribes of Goats and Sheep. These are not much larger than our Sheep and shaggy Goats, but they are swift to run and strong to fight, armed as their heads are with twisted horns. The strength, moreover, of the Sheep lies in their terrible foreheads. Many a time in the woods they charge and lay rushing Boars writhing on the ground. Sometimes also they rush upon one another and do battle, and a mighty din reaches unto heaven. And it is not lawful for them to shun the foe, but unshakable constraint is upon them either to win the victory one over another or to lie dead: such strife arises between them. And wild Goats have a slender channel for the breath right through the teeth between the horns, whence again the channel goes straight to the very heart and lungs. If one pours wax about the horns of the wild Goat, he blocks the paths of its life and the channels of its breath.
Notable is the care which the dam among these takes for her tender young and which the children take for their mother in her old age. And even as among men, when a parent is fettered in the grievous bonds of old age — heavy of foot, crooked of limb, feeble of hand, palsied of body, dim of eye — his children cherish and attend him with utmost heed, repaying the care of their laborious rearing: so do the young of the Goats care for their dear parents in their old age, when sorrowful bonds fetter their limbs. They cull with their mouths and proffer them dewy food and flowery, and for drink they bring them dark water which they draw from the river with their lips, while with their tongues they tend and cleanse all their body. Didst thou but take the mother alone in a snare, straightway thou mightst take young lambs with thy hands. For thou wouldst think that she was driving away her children with her words, entreating them afar with such bleatings as these: "Flee, children dear, the cruel hunters, lest ye be slain and make me your poor mother a mother no more!" Such words thou wouldst think she spoke, while they, standing before her, first sing, thou wouldst imagine, a mournful dirge about their mother, and then, breaking forth in bleating, speak in human accents and as if they used the speech of men and like as if they prayed, utter from their lips such language as this: "In the name of Zeus we pray thee, in the name of the Archer Maid herself, release to us our dear mother, and accept a ransom, even all that we unhappy can offer for our poor mother — even our hapless selves. Bend thy cruel heart and have regard unto the law of Heaven and to the old age of a parent, if thou hast thyself an aged parent left in thy bright home." Such prayer might one fancy that they utter. But when they see that thy heart is altogether inexorable, — how great their regard, how great their love for their parents! — they come to bondage of their own accord and of their own motion pass the bourne.
Yellow Sheep there are in the bounds of utmost Crete, in the low land of Gortyn — Sheep with four horns; and bright wool is wreathed about their flesh — abundant wool but not soft: so rugged is it that it might compare with the roughest hair of Goats, not with the wool of Sheep.
Such yellow-coloured form has also the brilliant Subus, but no longer shaggy nor again furnished with four horns but with two strong ones above amplest forehead. Amphibious too is the Subus; for he also walks upon the land; but when he travels to the deep and ploughs the swift waves, then a great company of fishes attends him and travels the sea along with him; and they lick his limbs and rejoice in their horned friend, the Subus of tender body. Above all the Braize and the feeble Melanurus and the Needle-fish and the Red Mullet and the Lobster are attendant upon him. A marvel is this, a marvel unspeakable, when alien desires and strange loves distress wild beasts. For it is not alone for one another that God has given them the compelling ordinance of mutual love, nor only so far that their race should wax with everlasting life.
§ 2.400 That is, indeed, a marvel, that the brute tribes should be constrained by the bonds of desire and should know the passions of their own kind and, albeit without understanding should feel mutual desire for one another, even as for men thought and intelligence opens the eye and admits love to the heart; but the wild races are also highly stirred by the frenzy of alien desires. What a passion is that of lordly Stag for the Francolin! How great that of the Partridge for that long-horned Gazelle! How again does the Bustard of the shaggy ear rejoice in the swift Horse! The Parrot again and the Wolf herd together; for Wolves have ever a passion for the grass-hued bird. Mighty Love, how great art thou! how infinite thy might! how many things dost thou devise and ordain, how many, mighty spirit, are thy sports! The earth is steadfast: yet is it shaken by thy shafts. Unstable is the sea: yet thou dost make it fast. Thou comest unto the upper air and high Olympus is afraid before thee. All things fear thee, wide heaven above and all that is beneath the earth and the lamentable tribes of the dead, who, though they have drained with their lips the oblivious water of Lethe, still tremble before thee. By thy might thou dost pass afar, beyond what the shining sun doth ever behold: to thy fire even the light yields place for fear and the thunderbolts of Zeus likewise give place. Such fiery arrows, fierce spirit, hast thou — sharp, consuming, mind-destroying, maddening, whose melting breath knows no healing — wherewith thou dost stir even the very wild beasts to unmeet desires. A marvel it is when the winged Francolins leap on the spotted back of the horned Brocket or Partridges wheel swiftly about the Gazelle and cool their sweat and comfort their hearts in the sweltering heat with the flapping of their wings; or when before a Horse of clattering hoof the Bustard goes, gliding delightful through the air; or when the Sargues approach the herds of Goats. About the Subus, indeed, the whole wandering tribe of fishes and all follow with him when he ploughs the wild waves and throng on either side for joy and the sea foams round about, lashed by their white fins. But he, recking not of their strange friendship, all lawlessly devours and banquets on them with bloody jaws. And they, though seeing doom before their eyes, hate him not even so nor desert their slayer. Wretched Subus, worker of evil, for thine own self hereafter shall the hunters devise death by sea, crafty though thou art and slayer of fishes!
There is a certain sharp-horned beast that dwells in the thickets, even the fierce Oryx, most formidable to wild beasts. His colour is even as that of milk in spring, only the cheeks about his face being black. He has a double back, rich in fat. Sharp rise aloft the piercing points of his horns, black of hue, which are mightier than whetted bronze or chilly iron or jagged rock, and men say that those horns have a venomous nature. The spirit of the Oryx is overweening and stern. For they tremble neither at the yelping of the keen-scented Hound nor at the snorting of the wild Boar among the rocks, neither do they fear the mighty bellowing of the Bull nor shudder at the mirthless cry of the Leopard nor the mighty roar of the Lion himself, nor in the dauntlessness of their heart do they care aught for men: many a time a mighty hunter has perished on the hills when he has encountered the deadly Oryxes. When the Oryx descries a valiant wild beast, a tusked Boar or a saw-toothed Lion or chilly Bear of deadly courage, straightway he bows to earth and holds steadfast his outstretched head and brows, and fixing close to the ground his sharp weapons, awaits the onset of the foe and strikes him first and slays. For bending a little aside his horned brows he watches and springs with his sharper weapons on the beast; which, heeding not, rushes incontinently straight on and horribly clashes with the sharp palisade of his horns. As when in the thickets, as a Lion charges, a valiant man, who is skilled in the gifts of Artemis, holding in his hands his flashing spear, with feet set well apart, awaits him, and, as he rages wildly, receives him with his two-edged brazen spear advanced: even so the Oryxes in that hour await the charge of the wild beasts, who are self-slain by their own folly. For the points of the horns glide easily into their breasts, and much dark blood, pouring on either side from their wounds — their own blood — they speedily lick with their tongues; nor can they escape if they would, but they slay one another with mutual slaughter. And some countryman, a herdsman or a ploughman, chancing on the two corpses at his feet, with marvelling heart wins a welcome prey.
Next in order among horned wild beasts it is meet to sing the tribes of the elephant infinite in size. Those two mighty weapons in their jaws, which rise like tusks towards the heavens, others of the vulgar herd call deadly teeth; wherein they err: we are pleased to name them horns; for so the nature of horns declares to us. Not obscure are the signs whereby they may be distinguished. For such growths from the upper jaws of wild beasts as are horny, spring upward: if they incline downward, they are certainly teeth.
§ 2.500 Of these two horns of the Elephant the roots first of all spring from the head, mighty as the head is mighty, even as the roots of the oak; then below, concealed by skin where they meet the temples, they project into the jaw; and when left bare by the jaws they give to the vulgar the false impression of teeth. Moreover, there is another clear sign for men. All teeth of wild beasts are unbending and do not yield to art but remain intractable, and if a worker in horn wishes by his skill to make them broad, they flatly refuse, and if they are forced, the stubborn teeth break stemwise. From horns on the other hand are fashioned bent bows and countless other works of art. In like manner those elephant horns which men call teeth, yield to the ivory-cutter to bend them or to broaden.
These beasts have a bulk such as on the earth no other wild beast yet hath worn. Seeing an elephant thou wouldst say that a huge mountain-peak or a dread cloud, fraught with storm for hapless mortals, was travelling on the land. The head is strong with ears small, hollow, and polished. The eyes, though large, are small for that size of beast. Between them projects a great nose, thin and crooked, which men call the proboscis. That is the hand of the beast; with it they easily do whatsoever they will. The legs are not equal in size; for the fore-legs rise to a far greater height. The hide that covers the body is rugged, impenetrable and strong, which not even a blade of mighty all-subduing iron would easily cleave. Wild without limit is the temper of the Elephant in the shady wood but among men he is tame and gentle to human kind. In the green glens of many cliffs he stretches root and branch upon the ground, oaks and wild olives and the high-crowned race of palms, assailing them with his sharp tremendous tusks; but when he is in the strong hands of men, he forgets his temper and his fierce spirit leaves him: he endures even the yoke and receives the bit in his mouth and carries upon his back the boys who order his work.
It is said that Elephants talk to one another, mumbling with their mouths the speech of men. But not to all is the speech of the beasts audible, but only the men who tame them hear it. This marvel also I have heard, that the mighty elephants have a prophetic soul within their breasts and know in their hearts when their inevitable doom is at hand. Not then among birds only are there prophets, even the Swans who sing their last lament, but among wild beasts also this tribe divine the end of death and perform their own dirge.
The Rhinoceros is not much larger than the bounding Oryx. A little above the tip of the nose rises a horn dread and sharp, a cruel sword. Charging therewith he could pierce through bronze and with its stroke could cleave a mighty cliff. He attacks the Elephant strong though it be and many a time lays so mighty a beast dead in the dust. On his yellowish, hairy brows and on his back dense spots show darkly. All the breed are males and a female is never seen. Whence they come I know not, but I speak as I have learnt, whether this deadly race springs from rock or whether they are children of the soil and spring from the ground, or whether the wild monsters are begotten of one another, without desire and without mating and without birth. Even in the wet depths of the sea with its watery ways there are tribes which come into being self-made and motherless — Oysters and feeble Fry and the races of Sea-snails and Testacea and Spiral-shells and all that grow in the sands.
Dear Muse, it is not meet for me to sing of small creatures. Leave thou the feeble beasts which have no strength in them — the grey-eyed Panthers and the villain Cats which attack the nests of domestic fowls; and leave thou the tiny, tender, weakling Dormice. These indeed remain with eyes closed all the winter season, drunk with sleep. Hapless creatures! to take no food! not to behold the light! In their lairs, so deep asleep are they, they lie as dead and a wintry lot is theirs. But when eyes of spring first smile and the flowers in the meadow newly bloom, they stir their sluggish bodies from their secret lair and open their eyes and behold the light of the sun, and with new delight bethink them of sweet food, and once more become alive and Dormice once again.
I leave too the shaggy race of the feeble Squirrel, who in the fiery season of midsummer erects his tail to shelter his self-roofed dwelling; even as the Peacocks shelter their own beautiful form, their splendid form with many-pictured back: than whom the wisdom of Zeus hath devised for men naught more pleasant to behold with glad eyes, neither amid all that walk mother earth, giver of all gifts, nor amid all that travel on wings the spacious air, nor amid those that in the deep cleave the wild waves: in such wise on the splendid birds twinkles blazing fire mingled with the sheen of gold. I will not tell of the chilly race of the prickly Hedgehog — the lesser; for two dread forms there are of the sharp-spined Hedgehogs with chilly fence encircling them. The one kind are small and feeble and bristle with small jutting spines; the other sort are far larger in size and have stronger prickles bristling sharp on either side.
§ 2.600 I leave the triple breeds of Apes, those villainous mimics. For who would not abhor such a race, ugly to look on, weak, loathsome, evil of aspect, crafty of counsel? These, though they bring forth twin children of evil mien, divide not their love equally between both, but they love the one and hate and are angered at the other; and he perishes in the very arms of his parents.
Neither of a truth will minstrels sing the earth-born tribes of the Moles, eaters of grass and blind, albeit a rumour not to be believed has spread among men that the Moles boast themselves sprung from the blood of a king, even of Phineus, whom a famous Thracian hill nurtured. Against Phineus once on a time was the Titan Phaethon angered, wroth for the victory of prophet Phoebus, and robbed him of his sight and sent the shameless tribes of the Harpies, a winged race to dwell with him to his sorrow. But when the two glorious sons of Boreas, even Zetes and Calais, voyaged on the ship Argo in quest of the golden prize, assisting Jason, then did they take compassion on the old man and slew that tribe and gave his poor lips sweet food. But not even so did Phaethon lull his wrath to rest, but speedily turned him into the race of Moles which were before not; wherefore even now the race remains blind and gluttonous of food.
§ 3.1 Book III
But now that we have sung the tribes of horned wild beasts, Bulls and Stags and splendid Broad-horns and Gazelles, of the Oryx and beautiful Iorcus and others whose heads are armed above, come now, O goddess, let us tell of the saw-toothed company of flesh-eating beasts and the tusked races.
First of all to the Lion let us dedicate the glorious lay. The Curetes were the nurses of the infant Zeus, the mighty son of Cronus, what time Rhea concealed his birth and carried away the newly-born child from Cronus, his sire implacable, and placed him in the vales of Crete. And when the son of Uranus beheld the lusty young child he transformed the first glorious guardians of Zeus and in vengeance made the Curetes wild beasts. And since by the devising of the god Cronus they exchanged their human shape and put upon them the form of Lions, thenceforth by the boon of Zeus they greatly lord it over the wild beasts which dwell upon the hills, and under the yoke they draw the terrible swift car of Rhea who lightens the pangs of birth. Various are the tribes of them and each species has its own form. Those which by the waters of a noisy river, even beside the broad stream of the Tigris, are bred by Armenia, mother of archers, and by the land of the Parthians, rich in tilth and pasture, are yellow-haired and not so valiant. They have a stouter neck and a large head, bright eyes and high and bushy brows, ample and lowering over the nose. From neck and jaws springs on either side luxuriant hair. Those again which the bountiful land of the Erembi rears — the land which the tribes of mortal men call Fortunate — these also have shaggy neck and breast, and flashes of fire lighten from their eyes, and they are handsome above all; but of these the infinite earth hath but a scanty breed. But a great throng of mighty Lions roar in the goodly land of thirsty Libya — no longer shaggy these but a thin sheen runs over them. Terrible are they of face and neck, and on all their limbs they bear a blackish hue stained with dark blue. The strength in their limbs is limitless, and the Libyan Lions greatly lord it over the lordly Lions. From the Ethiopians once on a time there came to the land of Libya, a great marvel to behold, a well-maned Lion, black of hue, broad of head above, hairy of foot, bright of eye, reddening only on the yellow mouth. I have seen, not merely heard of, that terrible beast, when it was transported to be a spectacle for royal eyes.
The tribes of Lions do not need food every day but one day they devote to feeding, the next in turn to labour. Neither doth the Lion take his sleep by the inmost bounds of a rock, but he sleeps in the open, revolving a courageous soul, and wheresoever sovran night overtakes him at evening, there he sleeps. This also have I heard from the keepers of Lions, to wit that under his right paw the tawny Lion has a power of swift benumbing, wherewith he utterly benumbs the knees of wild beasts. Five times doth the Lioness loose her zone in birth, and idle truly is the report that she bears but one. Five she bears the first time, but next she travails with four cubs; then next in order from her third labour spring three; from her fourth spring twin young; and last from her womb of noble progeny the mother brings forth the glorious Lion King.
§ 3.85 Next the deadly Leopards are a double race. The one sort are larger to look on and stouter as to their broad backs, while the other sort are smaller but no whit inferior in valiance. The daedal forms of both are alike, apart only from the tail, where a perversity is seen: the lesser Leopards have the larger, the large the lesser tail. The thighs are well knit, the body is long, the eye bright: the shining pupils show grey-green beneath their brows, grey-green at once and red within, flaming as if on fire; but in the mouth beneath the teeth are pale and venomous. The hide is variegated and on a bright ground is dark with close-set black spots. Very swift it is in running and valiant in a straight charge. Seeing it thou wouldst say that it sped through the air. Notwithstanding minstrels celebrate this race of beasts as having been aforetime the nurses of Bacchus, giver of the grape; wherefore even now they greatly exult in wine and receive in their mouths the great gift of Dionysus. What matter it was that changed glorious women from the race of mortals into this wild race of Leopards I shall hereafter sing.
Another swift race, moreover, of twofold nature thou mayst see, the notable Lynxes. Of these the one sort are small to look on and attack the little Hares; the other sort are larger and easily leap upon the Stags of goodly horns and the swift Oryx. Both are clothed in altogether similar form. Alike are the delightful flashes that lighten from their eyes beneath their brows; both have bright face, small head, and curving ear; only their colour is dissimilar to look on. The smaller Lynxes are covered with a ruddy hide, while the colour of the larger is saffron and like sulphur. Beyond others these tribes love their dear offspring, the keen-eyed Lynxes and the fiery-eyed Lions and the deadly Leopards and the windswift Tigers. When in the thickets fearless hunters secretly steal away their suckling cubs, and they returning afterward behold their empty house and home made desolate, they shrilly wail their loud lament and far they send abroad their doleful dirge; even as, when their fatherland is sacked with the spear and burnt with raging fire, women fall upon their children's necks and loudly weep. Such constraining love of child and new-born babe hath God instilled into the heart: not alone in men who devise all things by their wits but even in creeping things and fish and the ravenous wild beasts themselves and the high-ranging flocks of birds: so much is nature mightier than all beside. What care doth the Dolphin amid the waves take evermore of its children, and the bright-eyed Glaucus and the Seal of evil smell! And how among the fowls of air do they cherish unfailing love for their own children — the Giers and the deep-noted Doves and the tribes of the Eagle and the long-lived Crow! And the domestic mother Hen, companion of the homes of men, fluttering about her new-hatched chicks, how, when she sees a Hawk swooping down over the roof, doth she straightway utter a piercing scream and spring up with shrill cry and lift her arching neck high into the air and speedily ruffle all her plumage and droop her wings to the ground, while the poor chickens cheeping cower together beneath the bulwark of her wings; and speedily she routs and drives away the shameless bird, defending her dear children, still infants whom she feeds, unfledged and newly delivered from the bondage of the chambers of birth. So also among wild beasts roaring Lionesses and swift Leopards and Tigers of striped back stand forward to defend their children and fight with hunters and for their young ones are prepared to die, joining issue with the spearmen face to face; and in the battle for their offspring they shudder not at the advancing crowd of javelin-throwers, not at the gleaming bronze and flashing iron, nor at the swift cast of shaft and shower of stones, but they are eager either to die first or save their children.
Wild Bears, a deadly race of crafty wits, are clothed in a close and rugged coat of hair and a form unkindly with unsmiling eyes. Sawtoothed, deadly, and long is their mouth; nose dark, eye keen, ankle swift, body nimble, head broad, hands like the hands of men, feet like men's feet; terrible their roar, cunning their wits, fierce their heart; and they are much given to venery and that not orderly. For evermore by day and night the females lust for mating and themselves pursue the males, seldom intermitting the pleasures of union and conceiving young when already pregnant. For it is not the custom for wild beasts when they are with young to mate and fulfil the work of desire, apart only from the Lynxes and the weakling Hares. But the she Bear in her desire for mating, and abhorring to have her bed widowed, endures to devise for her children thus: ere the season of birth, ere the appointed day arrives, she puts pressure on her womb and does violence to the goddesses of birth: so great her lechery, so great her haste for love. She brings forth her children half formed and not particulate, shapeless flesh, and unjointed and mysterious to behold. At one and the same time she attends to mating and to the rearing of her young and when she has but newly given birth she couches with the male. And she licks with her tongue her dear offspring, even as cattle lick one another in turn with their tongues and take delight in each other; and one of the fair-horned kine rejoices in the other and they do not part till they have put from them sweet desire, and they gladden the heart of their attendant herdsman. So doth the she Bear shape her children by licking; while they whine and mumble incontinently. Moreover the Bear beyond all others dreads the onset of winter, shaggy of hair though she be. And when the snow besprinkles everything, what time the stormy West Wind sheds it thickly all about, she hides in a cave where there is shelter adequate and spacious, and for lack of food she licks her feet and paws even as if she were milking them and beguiles the craving of the belly. Even such a device have the coiling Poulpes devised in the depths of the wide-wayed sea amid the waves; who dreading the chilly menace of mid-winter hide in the shelving rocks and devour their own tentacles; but when spring blooms, moist and fertile, new arms speedily grow for them again and once again with fair array of suckers they sail the long path of the sea.
§ 3.185 Next in order let us tell of the Wild Ass, well-ankled, swift as air, fleet-footed like the wind, strong-hoofed, broad to behold, silvery of colour, long-eared, most swift to run. About the middle of his back is set a black stripe, surrounded on either side by snowy bands. He eats hay and the grass-growing earth feeds him abundantly; but he himself is good food for mighty wild beasts. The tribes of the wind-footed Wild Asses are altogether prone to jealousy and they glory in many wives and plume themselves thereon. The females follow wheresoever the husband leads: they haste to the pasture when he wills to bid them, and, when he bids, to the river springs, the wild beasts' wine, and anon to their bosky homes when evening brings sleep. A fierce and shameless frenzy stirs jealousy in all the males against their own young sons. For when the female is in the travail of Eileithyia, the male sits hard by and watches for his own offspring. And when the infant foal falls at the feet of his mother, if it is a female, the father is fond of his child and licks it on either side with his tongue and caresses his dear offspring; but if he sees that it is a male, then, then the frenzied beast stirs his heart with deadly jealousy about the mother and he leaps forth, eager to rend with his jaws the privy parts of his child, lest afterward a new brood should grow up; while the mother, though but newly delivered and weak from the travail of birth, succours her poor child in the quarrel. As when in grievous war cruel warriors slay a child before the eyes of his mother and hale herself while she clings to her son yet writhing in his blood and wails with loud and lamentable cry and tears her tender cheek and is drenched below with the hot blood and warm milk of her breasts; even so the she Wild Ass is just as if she were piteously lamenting and sorrowfully wailing over her son. Thou wouldst say that all unhappy, bestriding her child, she was speaking honeyed words and uttering this prayer. "O husband, husband, wherefore is thy face hardened and thine eyes red that before were bright? It is not Medusa's brow who turned men to stone that thou beholdest near; not the venomous offspring of Dragoness implacable; not the lawless whelp of mountain-roaming Lioness. The child whom I, unhappy mother, bare, the child for whom we prayed to the gods, even thine own child, wilt thou with thine own jaws mutilate? Stay, dear, mar him not! Ah! why hast thou marred him? What a deed thou hast done! Thou hast turned the child to nothingness and has made all his body blind. Wretched and unhappy I in my untimely motherhood, and altogether wretched thou, my child, in thy most sinful father. Wretched I, thrice miserable, who have travailed in vain, and wretched thou, marred not by the claws of Lions, but by the cruel lion jaws of thy sire." Thus one would say the unhappy mother speaks over her infant son, while the unheeding father with bloody jaws makes mirthless banquet of his child. O father Zeus, how fierce a heart hath Jealousy! Him hast thou made, O lord, mightier than nature to behold and hast given him the bitter force of fire, and in his right hand hast vouchsafed to him to wear a sword of adamant. He preserves not, when he comes, dear children to their loving parents, he knows nor comrade nor kin nor cousin, when he intervenes grievous and unspeakable. He also in former times arrayed against their own children heroes themselves and noble heroines — Theseus, son of Aegeus, and Athamas, son of Aeolus, and Attic Procne and Thracian Philomela and Colchian Medea and glorious Themisto. But notwithstanding, after the race of afflicted mortals, to wild beasts also he served up a banquet of Thyestes.
In the precipitous bounds of the Ethiopians there is a great tribe of Wild Horses, armed with two venomous tusks. Their feet, however, have not a single hoof, but double like that of Deer. The mane of the neck covers the middle of the back even to the end of the tail. Never does that dread overweening tribe endure the servitude of man, but even if the dark-skinned Indians by crafty ambush take the Wild Horse in their well-twisted toils, he will not readily taste future with his lips nor drink, but badly bears the yoke of slavery.
Mark also two dread saw-toothed tribes, the sheep-slaying Wolf and again the weak-sighted Hyena; the first a destroyer of flocks of Sheep and herds of Goats, the other the foe of Dogs and mighty Hounds; the one, through the unescapable impulse of hunger, the crafty harrier by night of Lamb and Kid, the other a night-farer and night-wanderer, since for it there is light by night but darkness by day. The forms of these two bloody beasts are unlike. The Wolf thou wouldst behold like to the larger shepherd Dogs, with bushy tail behind. The Hyena has the midst of the back arched and it is shaggy all about and the dread body is marked on either side with close-set dark stripes. It is narrow and long of back and tail. The hide of both beasts the minstrels celebrate as terrible. If thou wert to cut off a piece of hide of the Hyena and wear it on thy feet, thou wouldst wear a great terror of mighty Dogs, and Dogs bark not at thee wearing those shoes, even if they barked before. And if thou shouldst flay a Wolf and from his hide make a sounding tabor, like the tabor of Dindymus which destroys increase, it alone of all sounds its deep note and it alone makes a din, while all the tabors that had a goodly sound before are silent and hush their noise. Sheep even when dead shudder at a dead Wolf. This marvel also I have heard about the spotted Hyenas, to wit that male and female change year by year, and one is now a weak-eyed bridegroom all eager to mate and anon appears as a lady bride, a bearer of children, and a goodly mother.
§ 3.295 But five in number are the grey-haired breeds of Wolves, and herdsmen, whose bitter foes the wolf-tribes are, have remarked their different forms. First there is that which they call the bold Archer. Tawny is all his body, and his rounded limbs and head and swift limbs are larger far. The belly is light-coloured with grey spots. Terribly he howls and very high he leaps, ever shaking his head and glaring with fiery eyes.
Another again is superior in size and long of limb, swiftest in speed among all Wolves that are; him men name the Hawk and the Harrier. With much din he fares forth in the early morning to seek his prey at the first glimmering of dawn; for he easily becomes anhungered. Silvery gleams his colour on ribs and tail. He dwells on the high hills; but when in the winter season the chilly snow pours from the clouds and covers the hills, then doth the deadly beast draw nigh even to the city, having clothed himself with utter shamelessness for the sake of food; and stealthily he approaches and very quietly till he comes upon his prey, which speedily he seizes in his sharp claws.
And there is one which beyond the snow-clad heights of Taurus inhabits the Cilician hills and cliffs of Amanus, beautiful of aspect, most excellent among beasts, which they call the Golden Wolf, brilliant with abundant hair: no Wolf but a tall beast more excellent than a Wolf, armed with mouth of bronze, infinite in might. Many a time he pierces amain the enduring bronze, many a time he pierces stone or the iron spear. He knows the Dog-star Sirius and dreads his rising; straightway he creeps into some cleft of the wide earth or into a lightless cave, until the sun and the baleful Dog-star abate their heat.
Again there are two redoubtable Wolves, a deadly race, small of neck, very broad of back, but less of size in shaggy thighs and feet and face and small of eye. Of these one is brilliant with silvery back and white belly, and is dark only on the extremities of his feet. This grey-haired Wolf some men have named the Kite. But the other is dark of hue, smaller than the former yet not wanting in strength. He is a great hunter and makes Hares his prey, leaping upon them while all the hair upon his limbs bristles erect. Often Wolves mate with the fierce Leopards, and from the union springs the mighty tribe of Jackals. They wear two colours mingled together, the mother's colour on the hide, the father's on the face.
Next let us sing the Tiger of glorious form, than which cunning nature has vouchsafed naught more pleasant for the eyes to behold amid the great company of wild beasts. As much doth the Tiger excel among wild beasts as the Peacock doth for beauty among the fowls of air. Every way like a lioness of the hills wouldst thou behold it, apart only from the hide, which is variegated, with darkling stripes and brilliant sheen. Like are the eyes that lighten with fiery flash beneath the brows; like the body, strong and fleshy; like the long and bushy tail; like the face about the mouth; like the frowning brows above; like the gleaming teeth. Swifter is it than all wild beasts that are; for it runs with speed like its sire, the West Wind himself. Yet the West Wind is not its sire; who would believe that wild beasts mated with an airy bridegroom? For that also is an empty tale, that all this tribe is female and mates not with a male; for often mightst thou see its handsome spouse of many colours, but not easily couldst thou capture him; for he leaves his young and flees amain when he descries the hunters; but the female follows her cubs and in the anguish of her heart — to the great joy of the hunters — comes straight to the nets.
§ 3.365 Eminent among warlike wild beasts is the Boar. He loves a lair in the farthest depths of the crags and greatly he loathes the noisy din of wild beasts. Unceasingly he roams in pursuit of the female and is greatly excited by the frenzy of desire. On his neck the hair bristles erect, like the crest of a great-plumed helmet. He drops foam upon the ground and gnashes the white edge of his teeth, panting hotly; and there is much more rage about his mating than modesty. If the female abide his advances, she quenches all his rage and lulls to rest his passion. But if she refuses intercourse and flee, straightway stirred by the hot and fiery goad of desire he either overcomes her and mates with her by force or he attacks her with his jaws and lays her dead in the dust. There is a tale touching the Wild Boar that his white tusk has within it a secret devouring fiery force. A manifest proof of this for men is well founded. For when a great thronging crowd of hunters with their Dogs lay the beast low upon the ground, overcoming him with long spear on spear, then if one take a thin hair from the neck and approach it to the tusk of the still gasping beast, straightway the hair takes fire and curls up. And on either side of the Dogs themselves, where the fierce tusks of the Swine's jaws have touched them, marks of burning are traced upon the hide.
Than the Porcupines there is nothing in the shady wood more terrible to behold nor aught more deadly. Their size is like that of the bloody Wolves; short, small, and strong is their body, but their hide bristles all about with rough and shaggy quills, such as those with which the cunning tribes of Hedgehogs are armed. But when far mightier beasts pursue him, then he uses this device. He erects his sharp quills and backward hurls straight the dire shaft that bristles on his flying back, and both flees amain and fights as he seeks to escape. Many a time he slays a saw-toothed Dog; even so, one would say, shoots a man well skilled in archery. Therefore when the hunters espy him, they do not slip the Dogs but devise a trick, which I shall tell when I sing of the slaying of wild beasts.
§ 3.405 The Ichneumon is small, but as well worthy to be sung as large beasts by reason of the cunning and great valiance which it hides in a feeble body. For indeed by its craft it slays two tribes — the reptile Serpents and the terrible Crocodiles, those creatures of the Nile, a deadly race. When one of the dread beasts sleeps, opening his lips with triple row and phis wide gape and his fence unspeakable of flashing teeth, then the Ichneumon weaves a subtle device. With eyes askance he watches the huge beast until he is fit in his heart that it is deep asleep. Then, having rolled himself in sand and mud he swiftly springs and flies with daring heart through the gate of death and passes through wide throat. Then the wretched Crocodile wakes from his heavy sleep and carrying in his belly such an evil unlooked for, everywhere he roams in helpless rage, now going to the farthest reaches of the river, now rolling shoreward in the sand, gasping wildly and tossing in his agony. But the Ichneumon heeds not but enjoys his sweet repast; and mostly by the liver he sits to banquet; then late and last he leaps forth and leaves the empty body of the beast. O Ichneumon, marvellous and mighty, cunning in counsel, how great daring thy heart holds! What a task thou dost undertake, advancing thy body to the very jaws of death.
The venomous Asp the Ichneumon overcomes by this device. He lies in wait for the beast, hiding all his body in the sands, save only the tail and the fiery eyes; for the tail is long and snakelike with curling headlike tufts, black to the view, like the scales of serpents. When he seeks the dusky puffing viper, he arches his tail in front of her and challenges the deadly beast. The Asp over against him lifts up her head hard by and expands her breast and bares her stubborn teeth and fights vainly with her deadly jaws. But then the warlike Ichneumon lingers not in the sands, but leaps and seizes her terrible throat and rends her with his jaws as she twists this way and that and straightway lays her dead — vainly spitting forth bitter deadly venom of her passionate wrath.
Furthermore, most cunning among all the beasts of the field is the Fox. Warlike of heart and wise she dwells in remotest lair, with seven-gated openings to her house and tunneled earths far from one another, lest hunters set an ambush about her doors and lead her captive with snares. Terrible is she to fight with her teeth against stronger wild beasts and hunting Dogs. And when chilly winter comes and she lacks food, and the vines show bare of grapes, then she weaves a deadly device for hunting, to capture by craft birds and the young of Hares.
Tell also, I pray thee, O clear-voiced Muse of diverse tones, of those tribes of wild beasts which are of hybrid nature and mingled of two stocks, even the Pard of spotted back joined and united with the Camel. O Father Zeus, how many things hast thou devised, how many forms hast thou created for us, how many hast thou given to men, how many to the finny creatures of the sea! Even as thou hast devised this very varied form of the Camel, clothing with the hide of the shameless Pard a race splendid and lovely and gentle to men. Long is its neck, its body spotted, the ears small, bare the head above, long the legs, the soles of the feet broad; the limbs are unequal and the legs are not altogether alike, but the fore-legs are greater while the hind-legs are much smaller and look as if they were squatting on their haunches. From the middle of the head two horns rise straight up — not horny horns, but feeble projections on the head which alongside the ears rise up between the temples. The tender mouth is sufficiently large, like that of a Stag and within are set on either side thin milk-white teeth. A bright gleam lightens from the eyes. The tail, again, is short, like that of the swift Gazelles, with dark hair at the hinder end.
Yea and another double breed have I beheld with mine eyes, a mighty marvel, Camel united with Sparrow; which, though it is numbered with the lightsome birds and is winged, notwithstanding my lays shall celebrate, since the varied range of our hunting admits it. For the lime that is the enemy of birds does not prevail over it, nor the reeds that tread an airy path, but Horses and swift Hounds and unseen snares. Its size is huge, so that it can carry on its broad back a young boy. The legs are long, like to those of the sluggish Camels, and are arrayed as it were with close-set hard scales up to the double thigh. Small is the head that it rears on high but long the hairy dusky neck. They have abundant feathers; yet they do not sail aloft on the high paths of air, but notwithstanding, as they run swiftly with their feet, they have a speed equal to the birds themselves. Nor do they mate like birds by mounting but, like the Bactrian tribe, rear to rear. It lays a huge egg, of size to hold so great a bird, armed about with stony shell.
§ 3.505 Let us sing of Hares, rich harvest of the hunt. The body is small and hairy, the ears are very long, small the head above, small the feet, the limbs unequal. The colour with which they are clothed varies; some are dark and dusky, which inhabit the black-soiled tilth; others are reddish-yellow, which live in red-coloured plains. Brightly flash their goodly orbs, their eyes armed with sleeplessness; for never do they slumber and admit sleep upon their eyelids, being afraid of the violence of wild beasts and the nimble wit of men, but they are wakeful in the night and indulge their desire. Unceasingly they yearn to mate and while the females are still pregnant they do not reject the lustful advances of the male, not even when they carry in the womb the swift arrow of fruitfulness. For this tribe, among all that the infinite earth breeds, is the most prolific. The one embryo comes forth from the mother's womb full-formed, while she carries one within her still hairless, and nourishes another half-formed, and has in her womb yet another — a formless foetus to look on. In succession she brings them forth and the shameless female never forgets her lust but fulfils all her desire and not even in the throes of birth does she refuse her mate.
§ 4.1 Book IV
So many are the species of wild beasts, so many in the shady wood their nuptial loves and companionships, their hates and deadly feuds, their couches in the wild. Now let us sing the great business of the toilsome hunters, both their valiant might and their prudent counsel, their cunning craft and their heart armed with manifold wiles; for verily that heart wars against wild races to whom God hath given strength and goodly courage and wits not far inferior to the hunters themselves.
Many are the modes of glorious and profitable hunting: modes innumerable, suited to the various beasts and tribes and glens. Who with his single mind should comprehend them all and tell of them in order with euphonious song? Who could behold them all? Who could behold so much, being mortal? Only the Gods easily see all things. But I shall tell what I have seen with my own eyes when following in the woods the chase, splendid of boons, and whatever cunning mysteries of all manner of delightful craft I have learned from them whose business it is; fain as I am to sing of all these things to the son of Divine Severus. And do thou of thy grace, O lady goddess, queen of the chase, declare those things for quick royal ears, so that knowing before all the lore of thy works the king may slay wild beasts, blessed at once in hand and song.
Of wild beasts some are wise and cunning but small of body; others again are valiant in might but weak in the counsel of their breasts; others are both craven of heart and feeble of body, but swift of foot; to others again God hath given all the gifts together — cunning counsel, valorous strength, and nimble knees. But they know each the splendid gifts of his own nature — where they are feeble and where they are deadly. Not with his horns is the Stag bold but with his horns the Bull; not with his teeth is the Oryx strong, but with his teeth the Lion; not in his feet doth the Rhinoceros trust, but feet are the armour of the Hare; the deadly Leopard knows the baleful venom of his claws and the dread Ram the mighty strength of his stony forehead, and the wild Boar knows the exceeding might of his tusks.
Now whatever special arts and snares are used by deadly hunters amid the crags, the particular ways of hunting we shall tell for each sort of beast; but those things which are common to all, are sung in one lay. Common is hunting with nets, common pare traps, and common is the chase of all the swift-footed tribes by men with horses and dogs, or sometimes without dogs pursuing the quarry with horses only: those horses which pasture in the land of the Moors, or Libyan horses, which are not constrained by might of hand with the curb of the compelling bridle but obey the riding-switch, wheresoever their rider directs their course. Wherefore the riders who are mounted on those horses leave their beloved dogs at home and ride forth trusting to their horses and the rays of the sun, without other helpers. Common, too, is hurling the javelin and shooting with the bow at the mightier wild beasts which fight amain with men.
With reference to the net one must steer the course of the hunt and avoid the breath of the breeze and watch the wind. And even as men who ride in seafaring ships sit in the stern with the tiller in their hands and scan the sky and obedient to the white South Wind spread the sails of their ships of canvas wings, so on the dry land I bid the hunter scan on either hand the winds that blow, that so they may set up their nets and drive the game ever against the wind; since all wild beasts have keenest sense of smell, and if they perceive the scent either of the net-stakes or the spread net, they rush the other way and flee incontinently even in the very face of the men and make vain the labour of the hunt. Therefore I would have the slayers of wild beasts scan rushing winds and face the course of the wind when you attend to their stakes and the setting of nets; let them make back to the South when the clear North Wind rises; to the North if the dewy South Wind rages; when the East Wind gets up, let them run with the breezes of the West; when West Wind stirs, let them speedily make for the East.
§ 4.75 But I would have thee first of all lay to heart the excellent lion-hunt and the valiant spirit of the hunters. First they go and mark a place where among the caves a roaring well-maned Lion dwells a great terror to cattle and to the herdsmen themselves. Next they observe the great path with the worn tracks of the wild beast, whereby he often goes to the river to drink a sweet draught. There they dig a round pit, wide and large; and in the midst of the trench they build a great pillar, sheer and high. From this they hang aloft a suckling lamb taken from its mother that hath newly yeaned. And outside the pit they wreath a wall around, built with close-set boulders, that the Lion may not see the crafty chasm when he draws near. And the high-hung suckling lamb bleats, and the sound strikes the Lion's hungry heart, hasting in the track of the cry and scanning this side and that with fiery eyes. And anon he comes nigh the snare, and he wheels about and a great hunger urges him, and straightway obeying the impulse of hunger he leaps over the wall, and the wide round chasm receives him, and he comes unwittingly to the gulf of a pit unlooked for. Everywhere he circles about, rushing ever backwards and forwards, even as a swift race-horse round the turning-post, constrained by the hands of his charioteer and by the bridle. And from their far-seen place of outlook the hunters see him and rush up, and with well-cut straps they bind and let down a plaited well-compacted cage, in which also they put a piece of roasted meat. And he, thinking straightway to escape from the pit, leaps in exulting; and for him there is no more any return prepared. Thus they use in the alluvial thirsty land of the Libyans.
But by the banks of the fair-flowing Euphrates they array bright-eyed, great-hearted horses for the warfare of the hunt; since their bright-eyed horses are swiftest in running and stubborn to fight amain, and they alone endure to face the Lion's roar, while other horses tremble and turn away their eyes, fearing the fiery eye of their lord the Lion: as I said before when I sang of horses. Men on foot spread the circling hedge of flax, building up the nets on close-set stakes. And the wings on either side project forward as much as doth the horn of the new-born moon. Three hunters lie in ambush by the nets, one in the middle, the other two at the extreme corners, at such distance that when the man in the middle calls to them the men on the wings can hear. The others take their station after the manner of bloody war, holding in their hands on either side dry flaming torches. And each man of them holds a shield in his left hand — in the din of the shield there is great terror for deadly beasts — and in his right hand a blazing torch of pine; for, above all, the well-maned Lion dreads the might of fire, and will not look on it with unflinching eyes. And when they see the lions of valiant heart the horsemen all rush on together, and the men on foot follow with them making a din, and the noise goes unto heaven. And the beasts abide them not, but turn and flee, gnashing their teeth with rage but unwilling to fight. And even as in the night crafty fishermen in their swift ships guide the fish toward their nets, carrying blazing torches; and fishes tremble to behold them and do not abide the whirling gleam; so the kings of beasts shut their eyes and then, fearing the din of men and the flame of torches, of their own motion they approach the plaited flanks of the nets.
§ 4.145 There is a third manner of hunting among the Ethiopians, untiring, marvellous. And this do four valiant Ethiopians perform, trusting in their valour. They fashion with twisted withes plaited shields, strong and with round sides, and stretch dried ox-hides over the bossy shields to be a defence at once against strong claws and murderous jaws. They themselves array all their bodies in the fleeces of sheep, fastening them above with close-set straps. Helmets cover their heads; only their lips and nostrils and shining eyes could you see. And they go together to chase the beast, flashing in the air many a sounding whip. But the Lion leaps forth from his cave unflinchingly and opens his deadly gape in the face of the men and utters his roar, while with his bright eyes he looks blazing fire, blustering in his wrath like the thunder-bolts of Zeus. Not Ganges' stream, which sunward over the Indian land passes the Maryandean people, bellows with such stupendous roar when it leaps forth from the precipices and covers the dark space of the shore; that stream which, although it is exceeding broad, yet by twenty other rivers is it swollen and arches the crest of its furious flood; not Ganges roars so loud as roar the boundless wood and the ravines with the deadly bellowing of the Lion, and all the sky resounds. And he straightway rushes, fain to glut him with flesh, like unto a winter storm, while the hunters steadfastly abide the onset of the fiery tempest. He with claws and deadly jaws incontinently assails and mauls any man that he can seize. Then another of the youths rushes on him from behind and calls his attention with clattering din and loud shout. And swiftly the lordly well-maned Lion turns and charges, leaving the man whom he had seized in his mouth; and again another on the flank provokes the bearded swarthy beast. Others on this side and on that in close succession harass him, trusting in hides and shields and baldricks, which neither the mighty teeth of his jaws can cleave nor the points of his iron claws pierce. And the Lion wears out his strength in vain labour, charging blindly — leaving one man, lifting another straightway from the ground and wrenching his neck, and again incontinently rushing straight upon another. And as when in war a hostile ring of fierce battle surrounds a mighty warrior, and he, breathing the spirit of war, rushes this way and that, brandishing in his hand his gory sword, and at last a warlike company of men overcomes him, all pressing on him together, and he sinks to the ground, smitten by many long whistling arrows; even so the Lion, exhausted by ineffectual efforts, at last yields to the men all the prizes of battle, while he sheds to earth the bloody foam and, like one ashamed, fixes his eye upon the ground. As a man who hath won many a crown of wild olive for boxing in the games, when he is overcome with wound on wound by a valiant adversary in close combat, stands at first bathed in torrents of blood, as if reeling with drink, and hanging his head to one side; then his legs give way and he is stretched upon the ground; even so the Lion stretches his exhausted limbs upon the sand. Then the hunters busy themselves much more, and, swiftly pressing all upon him, they bind him with strong bonds, while he makes no attempt to escape but is altogether quiet and motionless. O greatly daring men! what a feat they compass, what a deed they do — they carry off that great monster like a tame sheep!
§ 4.210 I have heard that with trenches and like devices men capture also the bold Jackals and deceive the tribes of Leopards: only with much smaller trenches, and they cut not a pillar of stone but a beam of oak. And they do not hang aloft a kid, but a puppy, the privy parts of which you bind with thin straps. In its agony it straightway howls and barks, and is cry is heard by the Leopards. The Leopard rejoices and rushes straight through the wood. As when fishermen set up a weel to ensnare fish, plaiting it of Salaminian broom, and in the inside of it put a Poulpe or Grey Mullet roasted in the fire; the savour thereof comes unto the flat ledges and brings the fishes of their own will to the weel, and they are unable to get out again and meet a terrible death; so the Leopard, hearing the puppy from afar, runs and makes his spring, suspecting no guile, and obeying the call of hunger, enters the recesses of the pit.
Leopards are overcome also by the gifts of Dionysus, when crafty hunters pour for them the crafty draught, shunning not the anger of holy Dionysus. Leopards are now a race of wild beasts, but aforetime they were not fierce wild beasts but bright-eyed women, wine-drinking, carriers of the vine branch, celebrators of the triennial festival, flower-crowned, nurses of frenzied Bacchus who rouses the dance. For Ino, scion of Agenor, reared the infant Bacchus and first gave her breast to the son of Zeus, and Autonoe likewise and Agave joined in nursing him, but not in the baleful halls of Athamas, but on the mountain which at that time men called by the name of the Thigh (Μηρός). For greatly fearing the mighty spouse of Zeus and dreading the tyrant Pentheus, son of Echion, they laid the holy child in a coffer of pine and covered it with fawn-skins and wreathed it with clusters of the vine, in a grotto where round the child they danced the mystic dance and beat drums and clashed cymbals in their hands, to veil the cries of the infant. It was around that hidden ark that they first showed forth their mysteries, and with them the Aonian women secretly took paint rites. And they arrayed a gathering of their faithful companions to journey from that mountain out of the Boeotian land. For now, now was it fated that a land, which before was wild, should cultivate the vine at the instance of Dionysus who delivers from sorrow. Then the holy choir took up secret coffer and wreathed it and set it on the back of an ass. And they came unto the shores of the Euripus, where they found a seafaring old man with his sons, and all together they besought the fishermen that they might cross the water in their boats. Then the old man had compassion on them and received on board the holy women. And lo! on the benches of his boat flowered the lush bindweed and blooming vine and ivy wreathed the stern. Now would the fishermen, cowering in god-sent terror, have dived into the sea, but ere that the boat came to land. And to Euboea the women came, carrying the god, and to the abode of Aristaeus, who dwelt in a cave on the top of a mountain at Caryae and who instructed the life of country-dwelling men in countless things; he was the first to establish a flock of sheep; he first pressed the fruit of the oily wild olive, first curdled milk with rennet, and brought the gentle bees from the oak and shut them up in hives. He at that time received the infant Dionysus from coffer of Ino and reared him in his cave and nursed him with the help of the Dryads and the Nymphs that have the bees in their keeping and the maidens of Euboea and the Aonian women. And, when Dionysus was now come to boyhood, he played with the other children; he would cut a fennel stalk and smite the hard rocks, and from their wounds they poured for the god sweet liquor. Otherwhiles he rent rams, skins and all, and clove them piecemeal and cast the dead bodies on the ground; and again with his hands he neatly put the limbs together, and immediately they were alive and browsed on the green pasture. And now he was attended by holy companies, and over all the earth were spread the gifts of Dionysus, son of Thyone, and everywhere he went about showing his excellence to men. Late and at last he set foot in Thebes, and all the daughters of Cadmus am to meet the son of fire. But rash Pentheus bound the hands of Dionysus that should not be bound and threatened with his own murderous hands to rend the god. He had not regard unto the white hair of Tyrian Cadmus nor to Agave grovelling at his feet, but called to his ill-fated companions to hale away the god — to hale him away and shut him up — and he drave away the choir of women. Now the guards of Pentheus thought to carry away Bromius in bonds of iron, and so thought the other Cadmeans; but the bonds touched not the god. And the heart of the women worshippers was chilled, and they cast on the ground all the garlands for and the holy emblems of their hands, and the cheeks of all the worshippers of Bromius flowed with tears. And straightway they cried: "Io! blessed one, O Dionysus, kindle thou the flaming lightning of thy faith and shake the earth and give us speedy vengeance on the evil tyrant. And, O son of fire, make Pentheus a bull upon the hills, make Pentheus of evil name a bull and make us ravenous wild beasts, armed with deadly claws, that, O Dionysus, we may rend him in our mouths." So spake they praying and the lord of Nysa speedily hearkened to their prayer. Pentheus he made a bull of deadly eye and arched his neck and made the horns spring from his forehead. But to the women he gave the grey eyes of a wild beast and armed their jaws and on their backs put a spotted hide like that of fawns and made them a savage race. And, by the devising of the god having changed their fair flesh, in the form of Leopards they rent Pentheus among the rocks. Such things let us sing, such things let us believe in our hearts! But as for the deeds of the women in the glens of Cithaeron, or the tales told of those wicked mothers, alien to Dionysus, these are the impious falsehoods of minstrels.
§ 4.320 In this fashion does some hunter with his comrades devise a snare for the Leopards which love neat wine. They choose a spring in the thirsty land of Libya, a spring which, though small, gives forth in a very waterless place abundant dark water, mysterious and unexpected; nor does it flow onward with murmuring stream, but bubbles marvellously and remains stationary and sinks in the sands. Thereof the race of fierce Leopards come at dawn to drink. And straightway at nightfall the hunters set forth and carry with them twenty jars of sweet wine, which someone whose business is keeping of a vineyard had pressed eleven years before, and they mix the sweet liquor with the water and leave the purple spring and bivouac not far away, making shift to cover are valiant bodies with goat skins or merely with the nets, since they can find no shelter either of rock or leafy tree; for all the land stretches sandy and treeless. The Leopards, smitten by flaming sun, feel the call both of thirst and of the odour which they love, and they approach the Bromian spring and with widely gaping mouth lap up the wine. First they all leap about one another like dancers; then their limbs become heavy, and they gently nod their heads downwards to the goodly earth; then deep slumber overcomes them all and casts them here and there upon the ground. As when at a banquet youths of an age, still boys, with the down upon their cheeks, sing sweetly and challenge each other after dinner with cup for cup; and it is late ere they give over, and the strength of the wine is heavy on head and eye and throws them over one upon the other; even so those wild beasts are heaped on one another and become, without mighty toil, the prey of the hunters.
For Bears an exceeding glorious hunt is made by those who dwell on the Tigris and in Armenia famous for archery. A great crowd go to the shady depths of the thickets, skilful men with keen-scented dogs on leash, to secure the mazy tracks of the deadly beasts. But when the dogs descry the signs of footprints, they follow them up and guide the trackers with them, holding their long noses nigh the ground. And afterwards if they descry any fresher track, straightway they rush eagerly, giving tongue the while exultingly, forgetting the previous track. But when they reach the end of their devious tracking and come to the cunning lair of the beast, straightway the dog bounds from the hand of the hunter, pitifully barking, rejoicing in his heart exceedingly. As when a maiden in the season of milky spring roams with unsandalled feet over all the hills in search of flowers and while she is yet afar the fragrance tells her of the sweet violet ahead; her lightsome heart is gladdened and smiles, and she gathers the flowers without stint and wreathes her head and goes singing to the house of her country-dwelling parents; even so the stout heart of the dog is gladdened. But the hunter for all his eagerness constrains him with straps and goes back exulting to the company of his comrades. And he shows them the thicket and where himself and his helper ambushed and left the savage beast. And they hasten and set up strong stakes and spread hayes and cast nets around. On either hand in the two wings they put two men at the ends of the net to lie under piles of ashen boughs. From the wings themselves and the men who watch the entrance they stretch on the left hand a well-twined long rope of flax a little above the ground in such wise that the cord would reach to a man's waist. Therefrom are hung many-coloured patterned ribbons, various and bright, a scare to wild beasts, and a suspended transfer are countless bright feathers, the beautiful wings of the fowls of the air, Vultures and what Swans and long Storks. On the right side they set ambushes in clefts of rock, or with green leaves they swiftly roof huts a little apart from one another, and in each they hide four men, covering all their bodies with branches. Now when all things are ready, the trumpet sounds its tremendous note, and the Bear leaps forth from the thicket with a sharp cry and looks sharply as she cries. And the young men rush on in a body and from either side come in battalions against the beast and drive her before them. And she, leaving the din and the men, rushes straight where she sees an empty space of open plain. Thereupon in turn an ambush of men arises in her rear and make a clattering din, driving her to the brow of the rope and the many-coloured scare. And the wretched beast is utterly in doubt and flees distraught, fearful of all alike — the ambush of men, the din, the flute, the shouting, the scaring rope; for with the roaring wind the ribands wave aloft in the air and the swinging feathers whistle shrill. So, glancing about her, the Bear draws nigh net and falls into the flaxen ambush. Then the watchers at the ends of the net near at hand spring forth and speedily draw tight above the skirting cord of broom. Net on net they pile; for at that moment Bears greatly rage with jaws and terrible paws, and many a time they straightway evade the hunters and escape from nets and make the hunting vain. But at that same moment some strong man fetters the right paw of the Bear and widows her of all her force, and binds her skilfully and ties the beast to planks of wood and encloses her again in a cage of oak and pine, after she has exercised her body in many a twist and turn.
§ 4.425 In hunting the swift-footed tribes of the Hare the hunter should run in front and head them off from upward-sloping rock or hill and with cunning prudence drive them downhill. For the moment that they see hounds and huntsmen they rush uphill; since they well know that their forelegs are shorter. Hence hills are easy for Hares — easy for Hares but difficult for mounted men. Moreover, the hunter should avoid much-trodden ways and the beaten track and pursue them in the tilled fields. For on the trodden way they are nimbler and light of foot and easily rush on. But on the ploughed land their feet are heavy in summer and in the winter season they carry a fatal shoe that reaches to the ankle.
If ever thou art hunting a Gazelle, beware that after a very long and extended course and term of toil it do not halt a moment and relieve nature. For in Gazelles beyond all others the bladder swells in the midst of their course and their flanks are burdened by involuntary warm waters and they squat upon their haunches. But if they take breath a little with their noisy throats, they flee far more strongly and more swiftly with nimble knees and lighter loins.
The Fox is not to be captured by ambush nor by noose nor by net. For she is clever in her cunning at perceiving them; clever too at severing a rope and loosing knots and by subtle craft escaping from death. But the thronging hounds take her; yet even they for all their strength do and overcome her without bloodshed.