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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

4. The Roman World / Le monde romain

11. The Golden Age of Rome

Texte intégral

AUROCHS. Engraving from Riedinger (Johann Elias), Entwurf einiger Thiere: nach dem Leben gezeichnet, samt beygefügten Anmerkungen, Augsbourg: J. E. Riedinger, 1738-1755, 7 part. in 1 vol., pl. 38.

1We have seen that the scientific spirit of the Romans began to germinate during the sojourn made among them by the Greek philosophers Carneades, Diogenes, and Critolaus; that in an instant, made short by the severity of Cato, it overcame hindrances and promptly made its way into the works of Varro and Cicero to a rather remarkable degree of perfection.

2Two contemporaries of these illustrious men also wrote works that deserve our examination: Caesar and Lucretius.

  • 1 [Apollonius Molon, Greek rhetorician, who flourished about 70 B.C. He was a native of Alabanda and (...)
  • 2 [See Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars, book 6, chaps. 25-28.]

3Julius Caesar was born in 98 B.C. In his youth he visited Greece, as was the fashion then among Romans of the nobility, and then he lived on Rhodes in order to study under Apollonius Molon.1 He was younger than Cicero by six years but died four years before him. His works are well known to all men who are the least bit educated, but what is not so well known is that his Commentaries2 contain the first notions ever held about the animals that dwelled in the forests of Germany in his time. Caesar had made incursions into that country after his conquest of the Gauls. He had been repelled vigorously, and after several battles, had crossed the Rhine again. It is the fruit of observations he made during this brief expedition that he recorded in his Commentaries. He describes the physical geography of Germany, the customs of its inhabitants, and the sorts of animals that lived then in the country. Among them were the elk, the reindeer, and the aurochs, all three of which have since disappeared from the regions where Caesar had observed them. The aurochs exists only in Lithuania, and the reindeer and elk are now found only in the north of Russia and Sweden. Knowledge of this emigration is of importance for natural history.

  • 3 [Numa Pompilius (fl. c. 700 B.C.), second of the seven kings who, according to Roman tradition, ru (...)
  • 4 [Gregory XIII, original name Ugo Boncompagni, or Buoncompagni (born 7 June 1502, Bologna, Romagna (...)

4Caesar was gifted with quite powerful mental abilities. Despite his life as a warrior, he had acquired wide-ranging knowledge. Everyone knows that by his own studies in astronomy, as much as by those he had others carry out, he reformed the primitive calendar of Numa,3 a reform that lasted until the sixteenth century, more than 1,500 years later, at which time it was corrected by Pope Gregory.4

  • 5 [Lucretius, in full Titus Lucretius Carus (fl. first century B.C.), Latin poet and philosopher kno (...)
  • 6 Some authors say that this philter [a potion, drug, or charm credited with magical powers] was giv (...)

5Lucretius,5 who was a contemporary of Cicero and Caesar, and only four years younger than the latter, is, among the writers of the republic, the one most devoted to the study of natural philosophy. He was born in 93 B.C. and had an untimely death at the age of 43. It is said that his reason was often altered by the effects of a philter that he was made to take when he was young,6 and that he devoted his lucid moments to the composition of his poem entitled De rerum natura.

6This work, which is a dogmatic presentation of the Epicurean philosophy, is especially remarkable for its vigor and the elegance of its style. Aside from the recurrence of rather harsh lines and the frequency of archaisms, the poem On the Nature of Things is most certainly one of the finest examples of Latin poetry: the invocation to the first canto, and in the fifth canto the development of society, are eternally wonderful pieces.

7Lucretius not only treated the same subject matter as Epicurus, and adopted his principles; he also followed the same order as he. However, Lucretius is more thorough in some regards than his model: this is not surprising, since he is the last of the atomists and thus able to profit from all the preceding works of his school.

8According to him, there exists in nature only atoms and the void. The atoms, brought together by the oblique movement they have had since the beginning, have formed our world and all beings subject to destruction.

9The human soul is composed of the subtlest atoms that the body contains. At the moment of death, these atoms are reunited with the common mass, and thence enter into new combinations. Our sensations are produced by corpuscles emanating from external objects, and our very ideas are the result of the impression made by such corpuscles on our senses.

  • 7 The world as it is, of course, since its elements are indestructible. [M. de St.-Agy.]

10The world had a beginning and will have an end.7 The sun, earth, and other stars are not gods; they are only combinations of atoms, subject to destruction like all other bodies.

11Some of the aggregations formed by atoms coming together had only an ephemeral duration because they did not incorporate the conditions of existence necessary for maintaining life. The animated bodies that did possess all these conditions, including the faculty of reproduction, were the origin of the species that exist today.

12Lucretius speaks of meteors in the last book of his poem, but without any accuracy; his physical science is as defective as his philosophy.

13You see, Messieurs, that under the republic, the Romans little troubled themselves about natural history.

14Under the emperors, more was written on this science, but the writings were scarcely more than compilations from the Greeks – they offer very little in the way of original observations. One may rightly be surprised at this, for never before had a people more means of observation than the Romans: you will be convinced of this when I tell you about their sumptuous meals, garments, buildings, and furnishings, and the immense numbers of animals that figured in their spectacles and in the triumphal processions of their generals.

  • 8 [Paullus Macedonicus, Lucius Aemilius, Paullus also spelled Paulus (born c. 229 B.C., died 160), R (...)

15At the beginning of the republic, and even several centuries after its establishment, institutions were generally not very favorable to any sort of studies. Roman simplicity of life was especially opposed to the cultivation of natural history, which is a very expensive science, as it requires much foreign travel, a means of transport for most animals, and large constructions suitable for receiving them. Trade might have brought progress to this science, as it provides a way of concentrating in one place the various productions of the globe. But for a long time the Romans were negligent of commerce. They had involved themselves in an early treaty, with the Carthaginians, not to sail beyond the strait that separates Sicily from the coast of Africa. In the year 405 from the founding of Rome, they renounced every sort of commerce with Africa and Sardinia. It was not out of ignorance that their government renounced these advantages, but rather it was a particular policy the object of which was to prevent the introduction of luxuries. The first silver coined into money did not appear in Rome until the year 472 from its founding, in 268 B.C. Before this, they used only copper money. During the last Macedonian war, they stripped a senator of his wealth because he possessed ten pounds of silver plate. It was only at the end of this war, in Paullus Aemilius’s triumph,8 that plates and vessels of gold were used for the first time.

16But the Roman conquests that procured harvests of riches for the state did not delay in introducing luxury among private persons, and the luxury of some attained enormous magnitude. We shall cover here only that which relates to our subject, natural history. We shall speak about the luxury of the table, because this occasioned the transportation to Rome of a host of animals and exotic fruits, often quite rare, and at an excessively high cost. We shall then turn our attention to the luxury of clothing, for which pigments and precious stones were sought. Then we shall say a word about sumptuous buildings, which were supplied with various kinds of marble from Italy, Greece, and even Gaul. We shall conclude with the luxury of furnishings, which caused the most rare and most handsome of woods to be sought out.

  • 9 [Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.), also called Second Carthaginian War, second in a series of wars (...)
  • 10 [It was Fulvius Hirpinus who, according to Pliny the elder tells, first instituted snail preserves (...)
  • 11 [Leporaria, in reference to any of several species of small gnawing mammals of the family Leporida (...)

17At the time of the Second Punic War,9 Fulvius Hirpinus10 devised, for the luxurious table, the formation of parks containing quadrupeds. They called these enclosures leporaria,11 because three kinds of hares, in particular, were raised there, the common, the Spanish, and the Alpine, which I have already mentioned to you, and the latter of which is extremely rare today. Nearly every species of wild beast in our forests, roe, deer, etc., was raised in these parks, besides the moufflon or wild sheep.

  • 12 [Quintus Hortensius Hortalus (born 114 B.C., died 50 B.C.), Roman orator and politician, Cicero’s (...)

18These animals lost their wild ways almost entirely; they were made accustomed to come at a given signal. One day, when Hortensius12 was giving a dinner in one of his parks, he called for a trumpet to be sounded and the guests saw, not without astonishment, roe, deer, boars, etc., gathering round the pavilion where dinner was being served.

  • 13 [This is the same tribune Servius Rullus (or Publius Servilius Rullus), who in A.D. 65, proposed a (...)

19Servius Rullus13 was the first to have an entire boar served up for his table.

20Eight all at once were seen on Antony’s table, at the time when he was part of the triumvirate.

21The grey dormouse, a small animal that lives in the woods and keeps to holes in oak trees, was considered a very dainty dish by the Romans. They raised them in their parks, on chestnuts and acorns, and for hiding-places gave them specially shaped casks made of terra cotta.

  • 14 [Marcus Laenius Strabo, an opulent and luxurious Roman, thought to have been the first to introduc (...)

22Aviaries were invented by Laenius Strabo of Brundisium14 for lodging those birds destined for food that could not be contained in the walls of the poultry-yard. It seems that Pliny meant to rebuke him for his invention when he said that Strabo showed us how to imprison animals that had the heavens for their abode.

  • 15 [Marcus Aufidius Lurco (or Lucro) was a Roman magistrate who lived in the first century B.C.]
  • 16 [Hirtius Pansa, is apparently a reference to two individuals, not one: Aulus Hirtius (born c. 90, (...)

23Alexander, you may remember, had brought peafowl into Greece, where they were considered merely curious objects. Hortensius, the rival of Cicero, is the first who had them served up, at a banquet given on the occasion of his nomination to the position of augur. Such luxury was considered an extravagance at the time. But peacocks reproduce quite rapidly; you know how surprised Ptolemy Physcon was to see such a great number of them at Rome during his stay in the city. Commerce took a hand in this; a certain Aufidius Lucro15 earned thirteen or fourteen thousand pounds from his occupation of raising peacocks. They were supplied at every dinner of any consequence: it was the turkey-with-truffles for Romans of the time. Hirtius Pansa,16 who made the mistake of giving a feast without this obligatory dish, was considered a boor, a man without taste, and lost all consideration among distinguished gastronomes.

24The Romans, like us, raised pigeons, and showed preference for certain varieties. Varro tells how, in his time, a pair of these birds cost two thousand sesterces, that is, about four hundred fifty francs.

25Thrushes were also raised at Rome in large birdcages.

  • 17 [Sempronius Lucus is mentioned in the second book of satires of Horace (Horace’s Satires and Epist (...)

26The first to offer the young of the stork at his table was Sempronius Lucus.17

  • 18 [Phrygia, ancient district in west-central Anatolia, named after a people whom the Greeks called P (...)
  • 19 [Melos, modern Greek island of Mílos, most southwesterly of the major islands of the Greek Cyclade (...)

27Like us, the Romans raised geese, and used the same methods of fattening the liver of these fowl; but soon it became too easy to procure them, and hosts who wished to distinguish themselves served such things as ostrich brains and flamingo tongues. Also, pheasants were imported from Colchis, grouse from Phrygia,18 and cranes from Melos.19

  • 20 [For Gallonius, see the second book of satires of Horace (Horace’s Satires and Epistles [translate (...)

28This sumptuousness in birds was yet surpassed by that in fishes. At a certain time during the republic, a Roman who had eaten fish would have been accused of an epicurism unworthy of a serious man. But the increase of wealth eventually caused such severity of manners to disappear, and Cato complains that in his time more money was paid for a fish than for a bullock. On the other hand, at that same time, the senator Gallonius20 was treated as infamous by the senate and nearly lost his civil rank because of the unbridled luxury of his table at which sturgeons had been served.

  • 21 [Consul in 151 B.C., Lucius Licinius Murena is said by Pliny to have invented fishponds, his cogno (...)
  • 22 [Genus Muraena, any of 80 or more species of eels of the family Muraenidae. Moray eels occur in al (...)

29It was Licinius Murena21 who invented freshwater fish-ponds; he kept muraena in particular, and hence his cognomen Murena, which remained in his family.22 Hortensius imitated him, whilst greatly surpassing him, and several other distinguished persons also followed his example.

  • 23 [Lucius Licinius Lucullus (born c. 117 B.C., died 58/56), Roman general who fought Mithradates VI (...)
  • 24 [Xerxes togatus, Xerxes in a toga, a barbarian in a veneer of civilization. For Xerxes, see Lesson (...)
  • 25 [Cato of Utica is Marcus Porcius Cato Uticencis, byname Cato The Younger (born 95 B.C.; died 46, U (...)
  • 26 [Marius Irrius is Gaius Hirrius, the first person to have ponds solely for raising eels (see notes (...)
  • 27 [Lucius Licinius Crassus (born 140 B.C., died 91), lawyer and politician who is usually considered (...)
  • 28 [Domitius is Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, a Roman general, senator and consul (both in 53 B.C. and 40 (...)
  • 29 [Antonia, one of the most prominent Roman women, celebrated for her virtue and beauty, the younges (...)
  • 30 [Publius Vedius Pollio (died 15 B.C.) was a Roman equestrian of the 1st century B.C., and a friend (...)
  • 31 [Augustus is Gaius Octavius (born 23 September 63 B.C., died 19 August A.D. 14), subsequently know (...)

30It soon happened that one went beyond freshwater ponds, and devised salt-water ponds stocked with sole, dorado, trout, and various sorts of shellfish. Lucullus,23 in order to bring water from the sea into the basins in his park, did not hesitate to cut through a mountain: this extravagance won for him from Pompey the nickname of Xerxes togatus.24 Upon his death, the fishes in his ponds were found to be so abundant that, after Cato of Utica,25 the manager of his estate, enjoined its sale, they brought in a sum of nine hundred thousand francs. The sale of the fishes contained in Marius Irrius’s26 fish-ponds produced the same sum. Pliny reports that Caesar, planning to entertain the people of Rome, went to Irrius to obtain murenas and that the latter did not wish to sell him any but agreed to lend him six thousand of them. Varro says that he only lent him two thousand. But that is not all that surprises us about this story. Murenas were at that time the object of a sort of foolish and puerile competition as to who possessed the greatest number of them and cared for them the best. Hortensius treated his better than he did his slaves, and never had his own taken for his table; any that he served had been purchased in the market, which of course drew raillery upon him. It is said that he cried at the death of one of his fish. The orator Crassus27 evinced more sorrow in a like case, as he even went into mourning. His colleague Domitius28 reproached him for this in the senate. It would seem that they might also make a sort of toilette for these fishes, for it is claimed that Antonia29 had a murena to which she attached earrings. But all these tender attentions are put in the shade by that of Vedius Pollio,30 who sometimes fed his murenas live humans. One day when Augustus31 was dining at the house of this Roman, he pardoned a young slave, condemned to be thrown alive into the fish-tank because he had had the clumsiness to break a precious urn during the meal.

  • 32 [Sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus), a valuable food fish that inhabits the Black and Caspian seas, is o (...)

31Murenas were not alone in being greatly in demand at Rome: Acipenser was generally sold for more than a thousand drachmas; it was brought to the table only when preceded by trumpets. But this Acipenser was not the common sturgeon; it was the sterlet,32 a small species with pointed snout inhabiting streams that empty into the Black Sea.

  • 33 [Surmullet or goatfish, any of about 50 species of marine fishes of the family Mullidae (order Per (...)
  • 34 [Tiberius, in full Tiberius Caesar Augustus, or Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, original name Tib (...)

32The mullet, or red mullet of Provence, which at Paris is called the surmullet,33 was also sold at a high price. One of these fish, weighing four pounds, was sold for nine hundred-francs; another, for fifteen hundred francs; and during the reign of Tiberius,34 three together cost six thousand francs.

  • 35 [Lucius Annaeus Seneca, see Lesson 12, note 47.]

33The fashion for fishes went so far that, in order to eat them perfectly fresh, the Romans brought them live right into the dining hall by a salt-water channel leading from the seawater fish-pond and passing under the table. Thus they were caught before the eyes of the guests, and then only at the moment of being cooked. This costly custom is affirmed by a great number of trustworthy authors, and particularly by Seneca,35 who made it a subject of invectives against the extravagance of the Romans.

34Fattened snails were also highly esteemed at Rome. The same Fulvius Hirpinus who first established enclosures for quadrupeds also devised them for snails. Since these animals could not be retained by walls, he had the idea of surrounding the area with water where they were to be raised. They would withdraw into vessels of terra cotta placed on the ground, and were fattened with flour mixed with distilled wine. Pliny reports that they reached a prodigious size, some weighing as much as twenty-five pounds. It was probably not Italian snails that reached such a size, but those imported from distant countries, Africa, Illyria, and elsewhere.

  • 36 [The oyster, which is widely distributed throughout the world, has been esteemed as an article of (...)
  • 37 [Dorado (Spanish for “golden”) is sometimes given to several related species of the genus Salminus (...)
  • 38 [Lucrine, in ancient geography, a small salt-water pond in Campania, Italy, nine miles west-northw (...)

35Oysters were produced in enclosed small bodies of water for the first time by Sergius Aurata,36 whose cognomen, like that of Licinius, is based on the name of a fish, the dorado.37 At first, the most esteemed were those from the enclosures in Lake Lucrine;38 then, those of Brindisi were the preferred ones; but even better oysters were obtained by enclosing the latter in Lake Lucrine.

36It seems that during this era, of which we are discussing the domestic customs, fruit was not so much in demand as it was later: the cherry, which Lucullus imported from Cerasus, a town in Asia Minor, in 69 B.C., is the only new fruit introduced into Rome during this time.

37The Romans delighted in rare perfumes, and this taste, developed to excess, resulted in an abundance at Rome of the most precious aromatics of the Orient.

38The finery of their clothing was also excessive; they used purple in dyeing, and they gathered from foreign countries the rarest of textiles, pearls, and precious stones. The opal, for a while, was held in an esteem that bordered on delirium. One citizen preferred being proscribed to having to surrender a particularly beautiful opal to the dictator Sulla.

  • 39 [The thuya tree (pronounced tweeya), a thickly branched, aromatic, hardwood conifer closely relate (...)
  • 40 [Cyrenaica, historic region of North Africa and until 1963 a province of the United Kingdom of Lib (...)
  • 41 [Cethegus, a reference to Gaius Cornelius Cethegus, a politician of the Roman republic who became (...)
  • 42 About three hundred thousand francs. [M. de St.-Agy.]

39Their sumptuous furniture was no less refined than other luxuries. For a while, the wood of citrus was in fashion, and exorbitant prices were paid for it; but this citrus was not that of Theophrastus, the apple-tree of Media, or our citron-tree of today; rather, it seems to have been a kind of thuya,39 originally from Cyrenaica.40 The gnarls, or protuberances, of this conifer, especially when they are formed near the roots and reach a diameter of several feet, were particularly in demand. They resembled the eyes in the peacock’s tail, the spots of the tiger or the panther, and bore these different names. Cethegus41 paid fourteen hundred thousand sesterces42 for a table thus embellished, and which did not have a single piece longer than four feet. Seneca also had such tables, costing enormous sums, and upon which perhaps he penned his invectives against luxury.

40Pompey, after his victories over the pirates, brought ebony to Rome, and this wood too was used to build household goods.

41Several kinds of marble were used to ornament buildings. Some came from quarries that have not yet been found again. Such are the ancient green and red marbles, so called because they are found only in ancient constructions. The search for them has had important results, for it has uncovered Pompeii.

  • 43 [see Beckmann (Johann), A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins [translated from the Ger (...)
  • 44 [Mongez (Antoine), “Les animaux promenés ou tués dans le cirque”, Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscr (...)

42The magnificence displayed at Rome in public festivals is even more astonishing than private luxury. It was a kind of point of honor to exhibit and kill more animals in the circuses than one’s predecessors had done. I scarcely dare repeat the stories on this subject found in the ancient authors. And yet it is impossible to suspect them of exaggeration, for their evidence is unanimous; almost always they were eye-witnesses of the things they report, and one can hardly claim that they committed the useless sin of lying to their contemporaries. Studies carried out by Messieurs Beckmann43 and Mongèz,44 to which I shall add my own, reveal the species and the quantity of animals paraded or killed in the circus; these studies have not been driven by curiosity alone; they have had the goal of being of real use to several of the sciences we have been discussing in this course. It is, in fact, important for naturalists to determine the time of the first appearance of each animal, the country of its origin, and the number captured; for, without this knowledge, it could happen, for example, that the natural habitat of certain animals in ancient times be considered to be in the countries where their bones are found.

  • 45 [Manius Curius Dentatus (died 270 B.C.), Roman general, conqueror of the Samnites and victor again (...)
  • 46 [Demetrius I Poliorcetes (born 336 B.C., Macedonia; died 283, Cilicia, now in Turkey), king of Mac (...)
  • 47 [Pyrrhus (born 319 B.C.; died 272, Argos, Argolis), king of Hellenistic Epirus whose costly milita (...)

43The first person who had exotic animals killed in a public festival at Rome was Curius Dentatus.45 You remember that the first elephants to appear in Greece was during Alexander’s expedition: Aristotle examined them and wrote about them in his history – much better than Buffon did, more than two thousand years later. These animals, and others that were brought later, were taken from Demetrius Poliorcetes46 by Pyrrhus, king of Macedonia;47 but when the latter was himself vanquished by the Romans, four of his war elephants came into Roman possession. They were paraded at Rome in Curius’s triumphal procession, in 273 B.C., and then killed in public.

44This was done with a view to abating the fear that these animals had inspired and showing that they could be killed despite their extraordinary strength. And again, the Romans no doubt did not wish to add elephants to their other means of attack, because this would have necessitated changes in the military strategies that had produced so many victories for them, nor did they wish to give elephants to their allies for fear of increasing their allies’ strength. Therefore, they were obliged to destroy the elephants.

  • 48 [Lucius Caecilius Metellus (died 221 B.C.), Roman general during the First Punic War (264-241 B.C. (...)
  • 49 The reason for this is that probably at Rome no one knew how to work ivory. It was being received (...)

45But it seems that the Roman people had a taste for bloody spectacle. Twenty-four years later, Metellus48 had a hundred and forty-two African elephants killed by bow and arrow in the Circus at Rome, elephants that he had captured when he won a great battle over the Carthaginians. What is strange about this is that no one used their ivory, although its use was well known at Rome and its products were highly prized.49

  • 50 [Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Roman general, who, when praetor (193 B.C.), served with distinction in (...)
  • 51 [The Aetolian War (191 B.C. – 189 B.C.) was fought between the Romans and their Achean and Macedon (...)

46In 186 B.C., some sixty years after Metellus’s triumph, Marcus Fulvius,50 in fulfilment of a vow he had made during the War of Aetolia,51 paraded panthers and lions in the circus. These animals had perhaps been captured in Africa, but they could also have been taken from Macedonia or Asia Minor, where they still existed at that time.

  • 52 [Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (born 227 B.C., fl. 171 B.C.) (Nasica meaning “pointed nose”) was (...)
  • 53 [Publius Cornelius Lentulus, byname Sura (Latin: “Calf of the Leg”) (died 5 December 63 B.C., Rome (...)
  • 54 [It is not clear whether Cuvier was referring here to Quintus Mucius Scaevola, also called Augur ( (...)

47The Roman people more and more took a liking to animal massacres, and Scipio Nasica52 and Publius Lentulus53 paraded forty bears, fifty-three panthers, and some elephants in the circus. Quintus Scaevola54 was the first to stage a spectacle of forty lions in combat with men. Sulla showed a hundred lions with manes, that is, all adult males.

  • 55 [Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (died after 52 B.C.), quaestor and proquaestor to Gnaeus Pompey in the th (...)
  • 56 [Aedile, Latin aedilis, plural aediles (from Latin aedes, “temple”), magistrate of ancient Rome wh (...)
  • 57 [Andromeda, in Greek mythology, beautiful daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiope of Joppa in (...)

48A more famous spectacle is the one put on by Aemilius Scaurus55 while he was aedile,56 58 B.C. It was not only remarkable for the number of animals in it, but even more for the novelty of several of the animals. It was during these festivals that a hippopotamus appeared at Rome for the first time. There were also five live crocodiles, a hundred and fifty panthers, and what was more amazing, the bones of the animal that was considered to have threatened Andromeda and from which she was rescued by the bravery of Perseus.57 The bones had been fetched from the coast of Palestine at Joppa, now called Jaffa. One of these bones was thirty-six feet long: most probably it was the jawbone of a whale. Others were vertebrae a foot and a half long.

49In 55 B.C., Pompey inaugurated his Theatre by displaying in the circus a “cephus” of Ethiopia (a sort of monkey), a lynx, a rhinoceros (an animal unknown till then), twenty elephants attacking men, four hundred six panthers, and six hundred lions, three hundred fifteen of which were maned. Certainly, all the kings of Europe together could not succeed in assembling today such a number of these animals. Cicero, who had been present at these games, speaks of them with some disdain and says that the people ended up feeling sorry for the elephants.

50In 48 B.C., Anthony showed lions harnessed to a chariot. Lions had been tamed before, but no one had yet put them to this use. The person considered to have been the first to tame a lion completely was a Carthaginian named Hanno. He had such an animal that followed him about in the city like a dog. His patience and talent were poorly rewarded, for they caused his banishment. The Carthaginians were afraid that a man who could tame a wild beast possessed some extraordinary power that he would perhaps use one day to render the Carthaginians themselves submissive.

51In 46 B.C., Caesar staged games that seemed to be intended to surpass those of Pompey. In an amphitheater, which had been covered with awnings of purple, he showed four hundred maned lions, twenty elephants being attacked by five hundred foot soldiers, twenty others being attacked by five hundred horsemen, and, for the first time, several wild bulls attacking men. On the evening of the games, Caesar returned to his house preceded by elephants carrying torches.

52We are aware of the immense fortune of the men who put on these spectacles, how the kings who were their allies hastened to please them, and the great number of singularly clever men whom they employed to capture animals or tame them; and in spite of that, we cannot help but be astonished at the huge number of wild beasts that were sacrificed at the Roman festivals. Clearly, lions and panthers were much more numerous then than they are today, even in the areas where they are most readily found.

53Under the emperors, the profusion of animals killed in the festivals even increased, and reached truly frightful proportions.

  • 58 [Ancyra, now Ankara, Turkey.]

54An inscription in honor of Augustus, found at Ancyra,58 states that he caused three thousand five hundred wild animals to perish in front of the people.

  • 59 [Gaius Flaminius (died 217 B.C.), Roman political leader who repeatedly challenged the authority o (...)

55For one festival he had a conduit of water brought into the Circus of Flaminius59 and thirty-six live crocodiles displayed in it, which other fierce animals then tore to bits. At the same festival, two hundred sixty-eight lions and three hundred ten panthers were killed, and for the first time a royal tiger in a cage was on view. There was also the spectacle of a serpent fifty cubits in length, a python from Africa.

56Augustus, before becoming emperor, in his triumphal procession over Cleopatra, had a rhinoceros and a hippopotamus killed.

  • 60 [Germanicus Caesar (born 15 B.C.; died A.D. 19, Antioch, Syria, now Antakya, Turkey), nephew and a (...)

57The art of taming animals was brought to the same degree of perfection as the capturing of them. In Germanicus’s60 triumph after his victories over the German tribes, there were elephants that had been trained to do rope dancing.

58At a single festival, Caligula had four hundred bears and four hundred panthers killed.

  • 61 [Claudius, in full Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, original name (until A.D. 41) Tib (...)
  • 62 [Ostia, modern Ostia Antica, Italy, ancient Roman town originally at the mouth of the Tiber but no (...)
  • 63 [Orca or killer whale, also called Grampus (Orcinus orca), widely distributed whale of the family (...)

59At the dedication of the Pantheon, Claudius61 displayed four live royal tigers. These animals are depicted in their true proportions in a mosaic pavement that has survived to our time. When this emperor learned that an enormous animal was found stranded in the port of Ostia,62 he had his galleys attack it. This animal was probably an orca, a large species of dolphin.63

  • 64 [Galba, Latin in full Servius Galba Caesar Augustus, original name Servius Sulpicius Galba (born 2 (...)
  • 65 [see Corse (John), “Observations on the Manners, Habits, and Natural History, of the Elephant. By (...)

60Like Germanicus, Galba64 had a funambulatory elephant; this animal, carrying a Roman knight, went right up to the top of the theater on a tightrope. Such elephants were trained when they were very young, for they were actually born in Rome: Aelianus says so in speaking of Germanicus’s elephants. Therefore, Buffon was wrong to claim that this animal is not able to reproduce in captivity. Moreover, Monsieur Corse65 has firmly established that the contrary is possible, by keeping the elephants in a warm temperature and giving them nutritious food. But this was already known in Italy in Columella’s time.

61The popularity of animal shows persisted at Rome during the first four centuries of the empire.

  • 66 [Titus, in full Titus Vespasianus Augustus, original name Titus Flavius Vespasianus (born 30 Decem (...)

62Titus,66 despite the little relish he had for such spectacles, but in conformity with the practice of his predecessors, put nine thousand animals on parade in the circus at the dedication of the Thermal baths. He showed cranes in combat with each other.

  • 67 [Domitian, Latin in full Caesar Domitianus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 81) Titus Flavius D (...)
  • 68 [Sparmann (Anders), A voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, towards the Antarctic Polar Circle, round t (...)

63Domitian67 put on the spectacle of a hunt by torchlight. A woman fought with a lion and threw it to the ground; an elephant, after fighting with a bullock and killing it, went to the emperor and knelt down. Also, a royal tiger killed a lion; some aurochs pulled chariots; and there was a two-horned rhinoceros, the existence of which has long been in doubt even though its image was engraved on Domitian’s medals, and which Sparmann described in no uncertain manner sixty years ago.68 Domitian himself contended with this rhinoceros.

  • 69 Martial, Latin in full Marcus Valerius Martialis (born 1 March A.D. 38-41, Bilbilis, Hispania; die (...)

64Martial69 devoted an entire book to the description of Domitian’s games. His epigrams give some information of interest to naturalists.

  • 70 [Trajan, Latin in full Caesar Divi Nervae Filius Nerva Traianus Optimus Augustus, also called (A.D (...)
  • 71 [Dion Cassius, also spelled Dio Cassius, in full Cassius Dio Cocceianus (born c. 150, Nicaea, Bith (...)

65Trajan,70 after his quick victory over the Parthians, put on games that lasted for twenty-three days, in which, according to Dion Cassius,71 eleven thousand domestic animals, or animals that were kept in cages, were put to death.

  • 72 [Hadrian, also spelled Adrian, Latin in full Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, original name (un (...)

66Hadrian72 also had a great number of animals killed. But what the historians write about these festivities interests us much less than what is shown us in a mosaic that was constructed by his orders. This famous memorial, which was discovered at Palestrina (the ancient Praeneste), depicts the animals of Egypt and Ethiopia, each with its name written underneath. In the lower part, where the flooding of the Nile is depicted, are seen the crocodile and the ibis, and the hippopotamus, which is very accurately drawn, and yet, in spite of such help, Roman naturalists never gave any other description of it than the very imperfect one by Herodotus. This same part of the mosaic also shows the true ibis of the Egyptians, in regard to which naturalists had been mistaken.

  • 73 [Camelo-pardalis, see Lesson 9, note 62.]

67The upper part shows, in the middle of the Ethiopian mountains, the giraffe, under the name of nabis, the name that Pliny sometimes gave to this animal, but which ordinarily he called a camelo-pardalis.73 This part also shows monkeys and reptiles, in all about thirty animals, quite recognizable, and hence rendering their ancient nomenclature quite clear to us.

  • 74 [Antoninus Pius, in full Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, original name Titu (...)
  • 75 Strepsiceros, a kind of ruminant. [M. de St.-Agy.] [Strepsiceros or kudu, any of certain slender a (...)
  • 76 [Crocotta or Crocuta, see Lesson 9, note 63.]

68Antoninus Pius74 also staged games, to be conformable to established custom. In these appeared hippopotamuses, crocodiles, strepsiceros,75 elephants, and lions, and crocottes (hyenas)76 that were different from the ones described by Agatharchides.

  • 77 [Marcus Aurelius, in full Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 161 (...)

69Marcus Aurelius77 had a horror of circus combats.

  • 78 [Commodus, in full Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 1 (...)
  • 79 [Herodian or Herodianus of Syria (c. A.D. 170-240) was a minor Roman civil servant who wrote a col (...)
  • 80 I have seen a cock running about after its head was cut off on the chopping block. What is more cu (...)

70But Commodus,78 his son, loved them with unprecedented passion. He himself killed an elephant, a tiger, and a hippopotamus in the circus. He especially took delight in using crescent-headed arrows to cut off the heads of ostriches running after a lure set up for the purpose. Herodian,79 who reports this story, says that the ostriches continued to run for some time after they were decapitated. I repeated this experiment on geese and in fact had a result similar to the one recorded in Herodian.80

  • 81 [Septimius Severus, in full Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax (born 146, Leptis Magna, Tripolitani (...)

71Septimius Severus81 for Caracalla’s marriage exhibited four hundred animals, issuing suddenly out of a machine. Among them were bison and wild asses.

  • 82 [Elagabalus, also spelled Heliogabalus, byname of Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, origi (...)

72At the marriage of Elagabalus,82 animals of every sort were paraded drawing chariots.

73The Gordians surpassed all the above emperors with their assemblages.

  • 83 [Gordian I, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus (born c. 157, d (...)

74The first emperor of this name83 displayed as many as a thousand panthers in one day, a hundred dromedaries, and a thousand bears.

  • 84 [Gordian III, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus (born 225; died 244, Zaitha, Mesopotamia), g (...)

75Gordianus III84 exhibited hippopotamuses, sixty lions, ten tigers, thirty elephants, ten giraffes, ten elk, and thirty leopards.

  • 85 [Aurelian, Latin in full Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (born c. 215; died 275, near Byzantium, now Is (...)

76Aurelian85 fought and killed some elephants.

  • 86 [Marcus Aurelius Probus (died 282), Roman emperor from A.D. 276 to 282. Fourth-century writers att (...)

77Probus86 had trees planted in the circus and set free in this artificial forest more than a thousand ostriches, which took to running in all directions, and a great quantity of other kinds of animals.

  • 87 [Constantine I, see Lesson 17, note 21.]
  • 88 [Theodorus, is apparently Theodorus Lector, reader or clerk attached to the Church of St. Sophia o (...)
  • 89 [Claudianus (c. A.D. 340 – 410), the last of the great Latin poets, born in Alexandria, Egypt. He (...)
  • 90 [Justinian I, Latin in full Flavius Justinianus, original name Petrus Sabbatius (born 483, Tauresi (...)

78Such games and exhibitions continued until the fall of the Western Roman Empire; and in spite of Constantine’s prohibitions,87 they took place under the Christian emperors. Theodorus88 and Claudianus89 put on animal shows in the circus. Even Justinian90 in the sixth century exhibited thirty panthers and twenty lions in the amphitheater.

79It is impossible not to be astonished that a country where so many animals had been brought together and destroyed during more than four consecutive centuries did not produce a single person to observe these animals and leave accurate descriptions of them. All the authors writing about zoology from the first to the fourth century A.D., including Pliny, copied slavishly what the Greek authors had written before the Roman conquest.

80In the next meeting, we shall examine the reasons why the sciences made no progress in the Roman Empire.

Notes

1 [Apollonius Molon, Greek rhetorician, who flourished about 70 B.C. He was a native of Alabanda and a pupil of Menecles.]

2 [See Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars, book 6, chaps. 25-28.]

3 [Numa Pompilius (fl. c. 700 B.C.), second of the seven kings who, according to Roman tradition, ruled Rome before the founding of the Republic (c. 509 B.C.) Numa is said to have reigned from 715 to 673. He is credited with the formulation of the religious calendar and with the founding of Rome’s other early religious institutions, including the Vestal Virgins; the cults of Mars, Jupiter, and Romulus deified (Quirinus); and the office of pontifex maximus.]

4 [Gregory XIII, original name Ugo Boncompagni, or Buoncompagni (born 7 June 1502, Bologna, Romagna (Italy); died 10 April 1585, Rome, Papal States), pope from 1572 to 1585, who promulgated the Gregorian calendar and founded a system of seminaries for Roman Catholic priests.]

5 [Lucretius, in full Titus Lucretius Carus (fl. first century B.C.), Latin poet and philosopher known for his single, long poem, De rerum natura (“On the Nature of Things”). The poem is the fullest extant statement of the physical theory of the Greek philosopher Epicurus (born 341 B.C., at Samos, Greece; died 270, at Athens – Greek philosopher, author of an ethical philosophy of simple pleasure, friendship, and retirement); it also alludes to his ethical and logical doctrines (see Nichols (James H.), Epicurean political philosophy: the De rerum natura of Lucretius, Ithaca; London: Cornell university press, 1976, 216 p.; Godwin (John), Lucretius, London: Bristol Classical Press; Duckworth Press, 2004, 141 p.)]

6 Some authors say that this philter [a potion, drug, or charm credited with magical powers] was given to him [Lucretius] by a jealous mistress. This is a ridiculous story; but it is true that he killed himself, at the age of 43, in an access of madness. [M. de St.-Agy.]

7 The world as it is, of course, since its elements are indestructible. [M. de St.-Agy.]

8 [Paullus Macedonicus, Lucius Aemilius, Paullus also spelled Paulus (born c. 229 B.C., died 160), Roman general whose victory over the Macedonians at Pydna ended the Third Macedonian War (171-168 B.C.)]

9 [Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.), also called Second Carthaginian War, second in a series of wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted in Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean.]

10 [It was Fulvius Hirpinus who, according to Pliny the elder tells, first instituted snail preserves at Tarquinium, a Tuscan city not far from Rome, at about 50 B.C. There the snails were kept in enclosures and fed on grain meal and boiled wine until fat enough to eat. By a combination of careful breeding, selection and feeding very satisfactory results were obtained. During the expansion of the Roman Empire snail culture was introduced into the countries that came under its control.]

11 [Leporaria, in reference to any of several species of small gnawing mammals of the family Leporidae (rabbits and hares), order Lagomorpha.]

12 [Quintus Hortensius Hortalus (born 114 B.C., died 50 B.C.), Roman orator and politician, Cicero’s opponent in the Verres trial. Delivering his first speech at age 19, Hortensius became a distinguished advocate. He was leader of the bar until his clash with Cicero while defending the corrupt governor Verres (70) cost him his supremacy. He became consul in 69 and later collaborated harmoniously with Cicero in a number of trials. His talents proved useful to the conservative senatorial aristocracy.]

13 [This is the same tribune Servius Rullus (or Publius Servilius Rullus), who in A.D. 65, proposed a new agrarian law, through which endeavored to reconstitute the public domain, without having recourse to confiscation. For this purpose, he proposed to sell the lands conquered in Asia, Africa, and Greece, and with the proceeds to purchase lands in Italy for distribution among the citizens. Cicero attacked this scheme in the speeches that have come down to us, which are masterpieces of eloquence. The people themselves were induced by them to reject the rogatio, or bill, advocated by Rullus. Three years later, Cicero supported the agrarian law proposed by Flavius. Its object was to purchase lands, and establish colonies on them, but it was not passed.]

14 [Marcus Laenius Strabo, an opulent and luxurious Roman, thought to have been the first to introduce aviaries on an extensive scale. He erected a splendid one at his villa near Brindisium (a town on the Adriatic, in the kingdom of Naples). Lucullus followed this example and constructed one at Tusculanam, which far surpassed the former in size and beauty. Varro, however, out shown them both in his ornithological buildings, and constructed an elegant and spacious aviary at this country hours near Casinum, which he described in his De re rustica, book 3, chapter 5 (see Lesson 10, notes 50, 52; see also Varro (Marcus Terentius), Varro on farming. M. Terenti Varronis rerum rusticarum libri tres [tr. with introduction, commentary, and excursus by Storr-Best Lloyd], London: G. Bell and Sons, 1912, xxxi + 375 p.; Buren (Albert William van) & Kennedy (R. M.), “Varro’s Aviary at Casinum”, The Journal of Roman Studies, vol. 9, 1919, pp. 59-66; Lutwack (Leonard), Birds in Literature, Gainesville (Florida): University Press of Florida, 1994, xiv + 286 p.)]

15 [Marcus Aufidius Lurco (or Lucro) was a Roman magistrate who lived in the first century B.C.]

16 [Hirtius Pansa, is apparently a reference to two individuals, not one: Aulus Hirtius (born c. 90, died c. 43 B.C.) and Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus (died 43 B.C.), both nominated at the same time by Caesar for the consulship of 43. Initially a supporter of Mark Antony, Hirtius was successfully lobbied by Cicero, who was a personal friend, switched his allegiance to the senatorial party, and set out with an army to attack Antony, who was besieging Mutina. In concert with Octavian, Hirtius compelled Antony to retire, but in the fighting Hirtius was slain. He was honored with a public funeral, along with Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, who had been killed a few days earlier.]

17 [Sempronius Lucus is mentioned in the second book of satires of Horace (Horace’s Satires and Epistles [translated by Fuchs Jacob; introd. by Anderson William S.], New York: Norton, 1977, xiv + 105 p.; see also Texier (abbé), Dictionnaire d’orfeÌvrerie, de gravure et de ciselure chrétiennes: ou de la mise en uvre artistique des métaux, des émaux et des pierreries, Paris: J. P. Migne, 1857, p. 882; Jennison (George), Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005, xiv + 209 p.)]

18 [Phrygia, ancient district in west-central Anatolia, named after a people whom the Greeks called Phryges and who dominated Asia Minor between the Hittite collapse (twelfth century B.C.) and the Lydian ascendancy (seventh century B.C.) The Phrygians, perhaps of Thracian origin, settled in northwestern Anatolia late in the second millennium. Upon the disintegration of the Hittite kingdom they moved into the central highlands, founding their capital at Gordium and an important religious center at “Midas City” (modern Yazilikaya, Turkey).]

19 [Melos, modern Greek island of Mílos, most southwesterly of the major islands of the Greek Cyclades in the Aegean Sea.]

20 [For Gallonius, see the second book of satires of Horace (Horace’s Satires and Epistles [translated by Fuchs Jacob; introd. by Anderson William S.], New York: Norton, 1977, xiv + 105 p.)]

21 [Consul in 151 B.C., Lucius Licinius Murena is said by Pliny to have invented fishponds, his cognomen deriving from the murenae or eels that he raised there (see Pliny (the elder), Natural History [ed. by Rackman H. with an English Translation in Ten Volumes], Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press; London: W. Heinemann, 1940, vol. 3, p. 279; see also note 22, below).]

22 [Genus Muraena, any of 80 or more species of eels of the family Muraenidae. Moray eels occur in all tropical and subtropical seas, where they live in shallow water among reefs and rocks and hide in crevices. They differ from other eels in having small rounded gill openings and in generally lacking pectoral fins. Their skin is thick, smooth, and scale-less, while the mouth is wide and the jaws are equipped with strong, sharp teeth, which enable them to seize and hold their prey (chiefly other fishes) but also to inflict serious wounds on their enemies, including humans. They are apt to attack humans only when disturbed, but then they can be quite vicious. One species of moray, Muraena helena, found in the Mediterranean, was a great delicacy of the ancient Romans and was cultivated by them in seaside ponds (Jennison (George), Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005, xiv + 209 p.)]

23 [Lucius Licinius Lucullus (born c. 117 B.C., died 58/56), Roman general who fought Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontus from 74 to 66 B.C. After 63, following his retirement, he enjoyed a life of great extravagance. The adjective Lucullan, meaning “luxurious,” derives from his name.]

24 [Xerxes togatus, Xerxes in a toga, a barbarian in a veneer of civilization. For Xerxes, see Lesson 4, note 42.]

25 [Cato of Utica is Marcus Porcius Cato Uticencis, byname Cato The Younger (born 95 B.C.; died 46, Utica, Africa, now in Tunisia), great-grandson of Cato the Censor and a leader of the Optimates (conservative senatorial aristocracy) who tried to preserve the Roman Republic against power seekers, in particular Julius Caesar.]

26 [Marius Irrius is Gaius Hirrius, the first person to have ponds solely for raising eels (see notes 21 and 22, above), supplied six thousand to Caesar for his triumphal banquets and eventually sold his estate for four million sesterces. After the death of Lucullus (see note 23, above), the same amount was paid just for the fish from his pond. The orator Quintus Hortensius, who lavished such care on his fishpond, is said to have wept when his favorite eel died. Another pet eel, kept there by Antonia, the niece of Augustus (see note 29, below), was adorned with earrings, which prompted some to visit and witness the spectacle (Aelian (Claudius), On the Characters of Animals [with an English Translation by Scholfield A. F.], London: Heinemann, 1958-1959, 3 vols).]

27 [Lucius Licinius Crassus (born 140 B.C., died 91), lawyer and politician who is usually considered to be one of the two greatest Roman orators before Cicero, the other being Marcus Antonius (born 143, died 87). Both men are vividly portrayed in Cicero’s De oratore (55 B.C.) (see the edition revised and reprinted, Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard university press; London: W. Heinemann ltd., 1948, 2 vols).]

28 [Domitius is Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, a Roman general, senator and consul (both in 53 B.C. and 40 B.C.) who was a loyal partisan of Caesar and Octavianus.]

29 [Antonia, one of the most prominent Roman women, celebrated for her virtue and beauty, the youngest daughter of Mark Antony (born 82/81 B.C., died 30 B.C.) and Octavia (born c. 69 B.C., died 11 B.C.) and the favorite niece of her mother’s youngest brother Rome’s first Emperor Augustus. She married Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus (born 38 B.C., died 9 B.C.), the younger brother of Tiberius (who later became emperor) and commander of the Roman forces that occupied the German territory between the Rhine and Elbe rivers from 12 to 9 B.C.]

30 [Publius Vedius Pollio (died 15 B.C.) was a Roman equestrian of the 1st century B.C., and a friend of the Roman emperor Augustus, who appointed him to a position of authority in the province of Asia (Syme (Ronald), “Who was Vedius Pollio?”, Journal of Roman Studies, 1961, vol. 51, pp. 23-30). In later life he became known for his luxurious tastes and cruelty to his slaves. When they displeased him, he had them fed to eels he maintained for that purpose. This was unacceptable even by Roman standards. When Vedius tried to apply this method of execution to a slave who broken a glass, Augustus, who was his guest at the time, not only prevented this, but had all his valuable glasses broken. This incident, along with Augustus’s demolition of the massive villa he inherited after Vedius’s death in 15 B.C., were frequently referred to in antiquity in discussions of ethics and of the public role of Augustus (e.g., Seneca (Lucius Annaeus), Moral Essays [with an English translation by Basore John W.], London: W. Heinemann ltd; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928, 3 vols).

31 [Augustus is Gaius Octavius (born 23 September 63 B.C., died 19 August A.D. 14), subsequently known as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus and still later as Augustus or Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, following the republic, which had been finally destroyed by the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and adoptive father.]

32 [Sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus), a valuable food fish that inhabits the Black and Caspian seas, is one of about 20 species of fishes of the family Acipenseridae (subclass Chondrostei), native to temperate waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species live in the sea and ascend rivers (possibly once in several years) to spawn in spring or summer; a few others are confined to fresh water. Several species provide caviar from eggs.]

33 [Surmullet or goatfish, any of about 50 species of marine fishes of the family Mullidae (order Perciformes). The largest goatfishes are about 60 cm (2 feet) long, but most are much smaller. Many species are edible and valued as food. One of the best known of these is the red surmullet, or red mullet (Mullus barbatus), of the Mediterranean, which was one of the most highly prized food fishes of the ancient Romans.]

34 [Tiberius, in full Tiberius Caesar Augustus, or Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, original name Tiberius Claudius Nero (born 16 November 42 B.C.; died 16 March A.D. 37, Capri, near Naples), second Roman emperor (A.D. 14-37), adopted son of Augustus, whose imperial institutions and imperial boundaries he sought to preserve. In his last years he became a tyrannical recluse, inflicting a reign of terror against the major personages of Rome.]

35 [Lucius Annaeus Seneca, see Lesson 12, note 47.]

36 [The oyster, which is widely distributed throughout the world, has been esteemed as an article of food from a very remote period. It was much prized by the Romans, who obtained it from their own waters, from the mouth of the Hellespont, and from the shores of Britain, where oysters were early discovered to be very abundant and of superior quality. From there they were imported during the winter packed in snow. According to Pliny, the propagation of oysters in artificial oyster pits was first introduced by the wealthy and luxurious patrician, Sergius Aurata, who derived much revenue from his oyster-beds at Baise, in the Bay of Naples. He was also the first to show the superiority of the shell-fish of the Lucrine lake to those of Britain, which his country men considered the finest (see Radcliffe (William), Fishing From the Earliest Times, London: John Murray, 1921, xvii + 478 p.)]

37 [Dorado (Spanish for “golden”) is sometimes given to several related species of the genus Salminus, powerful game fishes of the freshwater family Characidae, found in South American rivers. It is also another name for the oceanic dolphinfishes of the family Coryphaenidae, but in this case, Cuvier is referring to a porgy or sea bream, any of about 100 species of marine fishes of the family Sparidae (order Perciformes).]

38 [Lucrine, in ancient geography, a small salt-water pond in Campania, Italy, nine miles west-northwest of Naples: the Roman Lacus Lucrinus, modern Lago Lucrino. It was famous for its oysters.]

39 [The thuya tree (pronounced tweeya), a thickly branched, aromatic, hardwood conifer closely related to cedar, grown only in Atlas mountain region of Morocco.]

40 [Cyrenaica, historic region of North Africa and until 1963 a province of the United Kingdom of Libya.]

41 [Cethegus, a reference to Gaius Cornelius Cethegus, a politician of the Roman republic who became proconsul in Spain in 200 B.C. and was elected Aedile in absence. In this office he arranged magnificent plays. During his consulate in 197 B.C. he fought successfully in Gallia Cisalpina against the Insubrians and Cenomanes and received a triumph. He was elected censor in 194 B.C. Along with Scipio Africanus and Marcus Minucius Rufus in 193 BC, he went as a commissioner to mediate an end to the war between Masinissa and Carthage.]

42 About three hundred thousand francs. [M. de St.-Agy.]

43 [see Beckmann (Johann), A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins [translated from the German by Johnston William; 4th edition, carefully revised and enlarged by Francis William and Griffith F. W.], London: H. G. Bohn, 1846, 2 vols.]

44 [Mongez (Antoine), “Les animaux promenés ou tués dans le cirque”, Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, tome X, 1833, pp. 360-460; see also Lecky (William Edward Hartpole), History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne [3rd edition, revised], New York: D. Appleton, 1921, 2 vols.]

45 [Manius Curius Dentatus (died 270 B.C.), Roman general, conqueror of the Samnites and victor against Pyrrhus, king of Epirus (see note 47, below). Dentatus was born into a plebeian family that was possibly Sabine in origin. As consul in 290 B.C., he gained a decisive victory over the Samnites, thereby ending a war that had lasted 50 years. The same year, he also reduced the Sabine insurgents to submission and granted them civitas sine suffragio (“citizenship without the right to vote”). In 284 he defeated the invading Senones. After Pyrrhus had returned from Sicily to Italy (275), Dentatus, once again consul, finally defeated him near Beneventum (now Benevento). Dentatus was consul for the fourth and last time in 274, the year he conquered the Lucanians. During his term as censor, 272, he began to build an aqueduct to carry the waters of the Anio River into the city but died before its completion. Later writers idealized Dentatus as a model of old Roman simplicity and frugality.]

46 [Demetrius I Poliorcetes (born 336 B.C., Macedonia; died 283, Cilicia, now in Turkey), king of Macedonia from 294 to 288 B.C. Demetrius was the son of Alexander the Great’s general Antigonus I Monophthalmus, in whose campaigns he commanded with distinction and whose empire, based in Asia, he attempted to rebuild. Unsuccessful against Ptolemy I Soter, he liberated Athens from the Macedonian Cassander in 307 B.C. and in 306 decisively defeated Ptolemy at Salamis (Cyprus). From his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes (305) he won the title Poliorcetes (“the Besieger”). Recalled by his father from Greece, he fought in the Battle of Ipsus, in which his father was killed and lost much of his empire (301). Demetrius kept a foothold in Greece and in 294 reoccupied Athens and established himself as king of Macedonia, but in 288 he was driven out by his rivals Lysimachus and Pyrrhus. He finally surrendered to Seleucus I Nicator in Cilicia (285) and died there (283).]

47 [Pyrrhus (born 319 B.C.; died 272, Argos, Argolis), king of Hellenistic Epirus whose costly military successes against Macedonia and Rome gave rise to the phrase “Pyrrhic victory.” His Memoirs and books on the art of war, now all lost, were quoted and praised by many ancient authors, including Cicero.]

48 [Lucius Caecilius Metellus (died 221 B.C.), Roman general during the First Punic War (264-241 B.C.). As consul in 251, Metellus decisively defeated the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal at Panormus (now Palermo, Sicily) by panicking the enemy’s elephants. Thereafter the image of an elephant frequently appeared on coins issued by the Metelli family. Metellus held a second consulship in 247. He is said to have been blinded in 241 while rescuing the statue of Minerva from a fire in the temple of Vesta.]

49 The reason for this is that probably at Rome no one knew how to work ivory. It was being received from abroad already carved. [M. de St.-Agy.]

50 [Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Roman general, who, when praetor (193 B.C.), served with distinction in Spain, and as consul in 159 he completely broke the power of the Aetolian League. On his return to Rome, Nobilior celebrated a triumph remarkable for the magnificence of the spoils exhibited. On his Aetolian campaign he was accompanied by the poet Ennius, who made the capture of Ambracia, at which he was present, the subject of one of his plays. For this Nobilior was strongly opposed by Cato the Censor, on the ground that he had compromised his dignity as a Roman general. Nobilior restored the temple of Hercules and the Muses in the Circus Flaminius, and endeavored to make the Roman calendar more generally known. He was a great enthusiast for Greek art and culture, and introduced many of its masterpieces into Rome, among them the picture of the Muses by Zeuxis from Ambracia.]

51 [The Aetolian War (191 B.C. – 189 B.C.) was fought between the Romans and their Achean and Macedonian allies, and the Aetolian League and their allies, the kingdom of Athamania. The Aetolians had invited Antiochus the Great to Greece, who after his defeat by the Romans had returned to Asia. This left the Aetolians and the Athamanians without any allies. With Antiochus out of Europe, the Romans and their allies attacked the Aetolians. After a year of fighting the Aetolians were defeated and forced to pay 1,000 talents of silver to the Romans.]

52 [Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (born 227 B.C., fl. 171 B.C.) (Nasica meaning “pointed nose”) was a consul of ancient Rome in 191 B.C. He was a son of Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Sometimes referred to as Scipio Nasica the First to distinguish him from his son and grandson, he was a cousin of Scipio Africanus.]

53 [Publius Cornelius Lentulus, byname Sura (Latin: “Calf of the Leg”) (died 5 December 63 B.C., Rome), a leading figure in Catiline’s conspiracy (63 B.C.) to seize control of the Roman government.]

54 [It is not clear whether Cuvier was referring here to Quintus Mucius Scaevola, also called Augur (died 88 B.C.), prominent Roman jurist, or the latter’s cousin Quintus Mucius Scaevola, also called Pontifex (died 82 B.C.), who founded the scientific study of Roman law.]

55 [Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (died after 52 B.C.), quaestor and proquaestor to Gnaeus Pompey in the third war (74-63) between Rome and King Mithradates of Pontus (in northeastern Anatolia); not to be confused with his father of the same name (born c. 162 B.C., died c. 89 B.C.), a leader of the Optimates (conservative senatorial aristocrats) and one of the most influential men in the Roman government about 100 B.C.]

56 [Aedile, Latin aedilis, plural aediles (from Latin aedes, “temple”), magistrate of ancient Rome who originally had charge of the temple and cult of Ceres.]

57 [Andromeda, in Greek mythology, beautiful daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiope of Joppa in Palestine (called Ethiopia) and wife of Perseus. Cassiope offended the Nereids by boasting that Andromeda was more beautiful than they, so in revenge Poseidon sent a sea monster to devastate Cepheus’s kingdom. Since only Andromeda’s sacrifice would appease the gods, she was chained to a rock and left to be devoured by the monster. Perseus flew by on the winged horse Pegasus, fell in love with Andromeda, and asked Cepheus for her hand. Cepheus agreed, and Perseus slew the monster. At their marriage feast, however, Andromeda’s uncle, Phineus, to whom she had originally been promised, tried to claim her. Perseus turned him to stone with Medusa’s head. Andromeda bore Perseus six sons and a daughter.]

58 [Ancyra, now Ankara, Turkey.]

59 [Gaius Flaminius (died 217 B.C.), Roman political leader who repeatedly challenged the authority of the Senate. A plebeian, he held the tribunate in 232. Despite the opposition of the Senate and (according to legend) of his own father, he won passage of a measure to distribute land among the plebeians. As consul in 223 he defeated the Insubres after disobeying a senatorial order; despite opposition from the Senate, he was granted a triumph by popular vote. Flaminius was the first governor of the Roman province of Sicily. During his censorship (220) he built the Circus Flaminius on the Campus Martius and constructed the Via Flaminia to Ariminum. In 218 he was one of the chief supporters of the Lex Claudia, which barred senators from engaging in commercial activities. His election to a second consulship for 217 reflected popular criticism of the Senate’s conduct of the war against the invading Carthaginians under Hannibal.]

60 [Germanicus Caesar (born 15 B.C.; died A.D. 19, Antioch, Syria, now Antakya, Turkey), nephew and adopted son of the Roman emperor Tiberius (A.D. 14-37). He was a successful and immensely popular general who, had it not been for his premature death, would have become emperor.]

61 [Claudius, in full Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, original name (until A.D. 41) Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus (born 1 August 10 B.C., Lugdunum, Gaul; died 13 October A.D. 54), Roman emperor (A.D. 41-54), who extended Roman rule in North Africa and made Britain a province.]

62 [Ostia, modern Ostia Antica, Italy, ancient Roman town originally at the mouth of the Tiber but now about 4 miles (6 km) upstream; the modern seaside resort is about 3 miles (5 km) southwest of the ancient city. Ostia was a port of republican Rome and a commercial center under the empire (after 27 B.C.).]

63 [Orca or killer whale, also called Grampus (Orcinus orca), widely distributed whale of the family Delphinidae, found in all seas from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The largest of the oceanic dolphins, it attains a maximum length, in the male, of about 9.5 m (31 feet) and a weight of about 5,000 kg (11,000 pounds).]

64 [Galba, Latin in full Servius Galba Caesar Augustus, original name Servius Sulpicius Galba (born 24 December 3 B.C.; died 15 January A.D. 69, Rome), Roman emperor for seven months (A.D. 68-69). His administration was priggishly upright, though his advisers were allegedly corrupt.]

65 [see Corse (John), “Observations on the Manners, Habits, and Natural History, of the Elephant. By John Corse, Esq. Communicated by the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. K.B.P.R.S.”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 89, 1799, pp. 31-55.]

66 [Titus, in full Titus Vespasianus Augustus, original name Titus Flavius Vespasianus (born 30 December A.D. 39; died 13 September A.D. 81), Roman emperor (79-81), and the conqueror of Jerusalem in 70.]

67 [Domitian, Latin in full Caesar Domitianus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 81) Titus Flavius Domitianus (born 24 October A.D. 51; died 18 September A.D. 96, Rome), Roman emperor (A.D. 81-96), known chiefly for the reign of terror under which prominent members of the Senate lived during his last years.]

68 [Sparmann (Anders), A voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, towards the Antarctic Polar Circle, round the world and to the country of the Hottentots and the Caffres, from the year 1772-1776 [based on the English editions of 1785-1786 published by Robinson, London / Anders Sparrman; ed. by Forbes Vernon Sigfried; tr. from the Swedish revised by Rudner J. & I.], Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 1975-1977, 2 vols; see also Timbs (John), Eccentricities of the Animal Creation [with eight engravings], London: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, 1869, 352 p.]

69 Martial, Latin in full Marcus Valerius Martialis (born 1 March A.D. 38-41, Bilbilis, Hispania; died c. 103), Roman poet who brought the Latin epigram to perfection and provided in it a picture of Roman society during the early empire that is remarkable both for its completeness and for its accurate portrayal of human foibles (Martial, Epigrammata [poems and translations of Fletcher Robert; ed. Woodward], Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1970, x + 303 p.)]

70 [Trajan, Latin in full Caesar Divi Nervae Filius Nerva Traianus Optimus Augustus, also called (A.D. 97-98) Caesar Nerva Traianus Germanicus, original name Marcus Ulpius Traianus (born 15? September A.D. 53, Italica, Baetica, now in Spain; died 8/9 August 117, Selinus, Cilicia, now in Turkey), Roman emperor (A.D. 98-117), the first to be born outside Italy. He sought to extend the boundaries of the empire to the east (notably in Dacia, Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia), undertook a vast building program, and enlarged social welfare.]

71 [Dion Cassius, also spelled Dio Cassius, in full Cassius Dio Cocceianus (born c. 150, Nicaea, Bithynia, now Iznik, Turkey; died 235), Roman administrator and historian, the author of Romaika, a history of Rome, written in Greek, that is a most important authority for the last years of the republic and the early empire (see Cassius, Dio’s Roman History [with an English translation by Cary Earnest, on the basis of the version of Foster Herbert Baldwin], London: W. Heinemann; New York: The Macmillan Co., 1914-1927, 9 vols; The Roman History: the Reign of Augustus, Cassius Dio [translated by Scott-Kilvert Ian; with an introduction by Carter John], Harmondsworth (England); New York: Penguin Books, 1986, 348 p.]

72 [Hadrian, also spelled Adrian, Latin in full Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 117) Publius Aelius Hadrianus (born 24 January A.D. 76, Rome; died 10 July 138, Baiae, near Naples), Roman emperor (A.D. 117-138), the emperor Trajan’s nephew and successor, who was a cultivated admirer of Greek civilization and who unified and consolidated Rome’s vast empire.]

73 [Camelo-pardalis, see Lesson 9, note 62.]

74 [Antoninus Pius, in full Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, original name Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus (born 19 September 86, Lanuvium, Latium; died 7 March 161, Lorium, Etruria), Roman emperor from A.D. 138 to 161. Mild-mannered and capable, he was the fourth of the “five good emperors” who guided the empire through an 84-year period (96-180) of internal peace and prosperity. His family originated in Gaul, and his father and grandfathers had all been consuls.]

75 Strepsiceros, a kind of ruminant. [M. de St.-Agy.] [Strepsiceros or kudu, any of certain slender antelopes of the genus Tragelaphus, family Bovidae (order Artiodactyla). The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) lives in small groups in hilly bush country or open woods of eastern and southern Africa.]

76 [Crocotta or Crocuta, see Lesson 9, note 63.]

77 [Marcus Aurelius, in full Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 161) Marcus Annius Verus (born 26 April A.D. 121, Rome; died 17 March 180, Vindobona [Vienna], or Sirmium, Pannonia), Roman emperor (A.D. 161-180), best known for his Meditations on Stoic philosophy (see Marcus Aurelius, Meditations [tr. by Long George], Buffalo (New York): Prometheus Books, 1991, 122 p.) For many generations in the West, Marcus Aurelius has symbolized the Golden Age of the Roman Empire.]

78 [Commodus, in full Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 180) Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus (born 31 August 161, Lanuvium, Latium, now Lanuvio, Italy; died 31 December 192), Roman emperor from 177 to 192 (sole emperor after 180). His brutal misrule precipitated civil strife that ended 84 years of stability and prosperity within the empire.]

79 [Herodian or Herodianus of Syria (c. A.D. 170-240) was a minor Roman civil servant who wrote a colorful Roman History in eight books for the years 180 to 238 (see Herodian, Herodian [with an English translation by Whittaker Charles-Richard], Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 1969-1970, 2 vols.) His work is not entirely reliable, although his relatively unbiased account of Elagabalus (see note 82, below) is more useful than that of Dio Cassius (see note 71, above). He was a Greek, though he appears to have lived for a considerable period in Rome, but without holding any public office. From his work, which is still extant, we gather that he was still living at an advanced age in the reign of Gordianus III, who ascended the throne in 238. Beyond this nothing is known about his life.]

80 I have seen a cock running about after its head was cut off on the chopping block. What is more curious is that this animal, thus mutilated, headed towards the kitchen where it had been before being brought into the yard, and returned to it again after being pushed away a few paces. A magnetizer [it is curious that Magdeleine de Saint-Agy did not use the word “mesmerist,” since German physician Franz Anton Mesmer’s (born 1734, died 1815) system of therapeutics, known as mesmerism, the forerunner of the modern practice of hypnotism, must have been well known to him in 1840; see Mesmer (Franz Anton), Mesmerism [being the first translation of Mesmer’s historic Mémoire sur la découverte du magnétisme animal to appear in English; with an introductory monograph by Frankau Gilbert], London: Macdonald, 1948, 63 p. in-8; Memoir of F. A. Mesmer, doctor of medicine, on his discoveries, 1799 [translated by Eden Jerome], Mount Vernon (New York): Eden Press, 1957, xiii + 55 p.] at Paris, Dr. D*** de S***, said a while ago to an American friend of mine, Dr. B***, and me, that by strongly irritating a certain part of the body, one could sometimes see through that part. If Monsieur D *** had seen this cock, probably he would have explained its renewed direction towards the kitchen as due to the strong irritation given by the knife to its neck. [M. de St.-Agy.]

81 [Septimius Severus, in full Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax (born 146, Leptis Magna, Tripolitania, now in Libya; died February 211, Eboracum, Britain, now York, England), Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He founded a personal dynasty and converted the government into a military monarchy. His reign marks a critical stage in the development of the absolute despotism that characterized the later Roman Empire.]

82 [Elagabalus, also spelled Heliogabalus, byname of Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, original name Varius Avitus Bassianus (born 204, Emesa, Syria; died 222), Roman emperor from 218 to 222, notable chiefly for his eccentric behavior.]

83 [Gordian I, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus (born c. 157, died April 238), Roman emperor for three weeks in March-April 238.]

84 [Gordian III, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus (born 225; died 244, Zaitha, Mesopotamia), grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II, he was Roman emperor from 238 to 244.]

85 [Aurelian, Latin in full Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (born c. 215; died 275, near Byzantium, now Istanbul, Turkey), Roman emperor from 270 to 275. By reuniting the empire, which had virtually disintegrated under the pressure of invasions and internal revolts, he earned his self-adopted title restitutor orbis (“restorer of the world”).]

86 [Marcus Aurelius Probus (died 282), Roman emperor from A.D. 276 to 282. Fourth-century writers attest to his intense interest in agriculture. He encouraged the planting of vineyards in Gaul, Spain, and Britain and was evidently killed by troops who resented his strict discipline and their being detailed to agricultural reclamation work in the Balkans.]

87 [Constantine I, see Lesson 17, note 21.]

88 [Theodorus, is apparently Theodorus Lector, reader or clerk attached to the Church of St. Sophia of Constantinople in the early part of the sixth century A.D. (not to be confused with Theodorus of Cyrene, Greek mathematician of the fifth century B.C.). At the request of a friend he compiled in four books his Historia Tripartita, an epitome of the historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, made up of excerpts from them. An imperfect copy of this work exists in manuscript but it has never been published.]

89 [Claudianus (c. A.D. 340 – 410), the last of the great Latin poets, born in Alexandria, Egypt. He went to Rome in A.D. 395, and obtained patrician dignity by favor of Stilicho. He wrote first in Greek, then in Latin. Several of his works have survived, notably his epic poem De raptu Proserpinae (“The Rape of Proserpine”), the work for which he was famed in the Middle Ages (see Claudianus, De raptu Proserpinae [edited with introduction, translation, and commentary by Gruzelier Claire], Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, xxxi + 309 p.)]

90 [Justinian I, Latin in full Flavius Justinianus, original name Petrus Sabbatius (born 483, Tauresium, Dardania, probably south of modern Nis, Serbia, Yugoslavia; died 14 November 565, Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey), Byzantine emperor (527-565), noted for his administrative reorganization of the imperial government and for his sponsorship of a codification of laws known as the Codex Justinianus (534) (see Kunkel (Wolfgang), An Introduction to Roman Legal and Constitutional History [translated into English by Kelly J. M.], Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966, X + 218 p.)]

Table des illustrations

Légende AUROCHS. Engraving from Riedinger (Johann Elias), Entwurf einiger Thiere: nach dem Leben gezeichnet, samt beygefügten Anmerkungen, Augsbourg: J. E. Riedinger, 1738-1755, 7 part. in 1 vol., pl. 38.
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