Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

 | 
Georges Cuvier

5. Pliny, his Contemporaries & Followers / Pline, ses contemporaines & ses partisans

15. Aelian of Praeneste and Oppian of Anazarbus

Texte intégral

CROCODILE AND GAVIAL. Illustration by De Sève engraved by Hubert, from Bufon (Georges-Louis Leclerc de) & Daudin (François-Marie), Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, t. 79: Reptiles [new ed.], Paris: Imprimerie de F. Dufart, 1802, pl. 27, p. 327.

  • 1 [Aelian, Latin in full Claudius Aelianus (born c. 170, Praeneste, near Rome; died c. 235), Roman a (...)

1Aelian (Claudius Prenestinus) was from Praeneste, Italy.1 The date of his birth and details of his life are not known. The fragments of his writings, which are mentioned by Oppian, only prove that he came before this naturalist. He is sometimes confused with a professor of rhetoric of the same name, who lived under Commodus.

  • 2 [Aelians’s Natura animalium or On the Nature of Animals, contains curious moralistic stories of bi (...)
  • 3 [Nicias or Nikias (born 470, died 413 B.C.) an Athenian general and politician who, from his fathe (...)

2The work by Aelian entitled On the Nature of Animals is valuable for the same reason as the work by Athenaeus, namely, as a collection of information and excerpts from lost authors.2 Aelian announces, at the beginning, that he will follow no particular method, in order to add more variety to his book; but he carries too far his relish for variety, for, even taking into account his announcement, it is impossible to imagine the lack of method, the extreme disorder that his composition presents: no other known work offers such a jumble. Thus, in the first chapter of the first book, he speaks of herons; in the second chapter of the same book, he discusses the parrotfish; in the third, the mullet; in the fourth, he speaks again about the parrotfish; in the sixth, he relates examples of the friendship between animals and man; in another, he speaks of the hunter Nicias’s dogs,3 then of the drone-bee, the water-ox, the song of the cicadas, etc.

3Aelian imbibed some of his details from travelers’ narratives that are no longer extant. He cites a hundred and thirty-three authors, almost all lost, some of whom would be unknown were it not for him, for they are mentioned nowhere else. Aelian adds much to our knowledge of the animals of Asia and Africa. He speaks of some animals in the valleys of Thebes; he mentions a gallinaceous bird with brilliant plumage and a crest like that of the peacock, which has been seen almost in our own time. He mentions the ox with a tail like a horse’s, originally from Tibet, which provided the Turks with their standards, the pashas’ honorific insignias. In his time the Indians made flyswatters of these tails.

4From among the rare animals he mentions I shall cite the sea hare –the mollusk that Apuleius was accused of observing for criminal purposes– the long-tailed Indian sheep, and the white elephant.

5In speaking of the turtle, Aelian reports that its head survives long after being detached from its trunk; that if the hand is brought before its eyes, it blinks; that if the hand is brought before the mouth, it bites.

  • 4 [Ox, strictly speaking, is the Saxon name for the males of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus), but i (...)
  • 5 [Catoblepas, see Lesson 13, note 20.]
  • 6 [Spiny mouse (genus Acomys), any of 18 species of largeeared rodents, family Muridae (order Rodent (...)
  • 7 [Egyptian Expedition, see Lesson 12, note 41.]

6All in all, Aelian knew seventy species of quadrupeds, among which one notes the hornless ox;4 the gazelle, which he describes well; the catoblepas,5 to which the ancients attributed fabulous properties that I have already mentioned; the spiny mouse,6 which Aristotle stated as being found in Egypt, but Aelian places it in Libya. Up until the end of the eighteenth century, this animal had not been found, either in Egypt or in Libya; but the naturalists accompanying the French expedition to the former of these two countries7 found it there, conformably with Aristotle’s information.

  • 8 [Babirusa, a kind of pig (Babyrousa babirussa).]

7Aelian also refers to the horned boar, which was not found again until after the Renaissance. This animal lives in the most distant regions of the Indies: we call it the babirusa.8 It does not have real horns, but its tusks are so long and backward curved that they have the appearance of horns.

  • 9 [Onocentaur: originating during the middle ages, a variation of the centaur. Instead of being part (...)

8Finally, Aelian speaks of a monster that he calls an onocentaur9 and which must have appeared as a combination of a man-like shape and the shape of an ass. Aelian does not say that he saw such a monster, but it is less rare than he seems to believe. One observes it in the class of quadrupeds whenever the lower jaw of one of these animals has been atrophied for some reason or other before the birth of the fetus. The absence of the lower jaw gives the head of the animal a more or less striking resemblance to the face of a man. I myself have seen a calf showing such a resemblance. It seems that in Claudius’s time, one was brought to Rome and was preserved in honey. These caprices or rather disturbances of nature, reappearing in the Middle Ages, gave rise to belief in bestial unions and brought about cruel condemnations that are no longer permitted now that science has explanations for such anomalies.

  • 10 [Memnon, in Greek mythology, son of Tithonus (son of Laomedon, legendary king of Troy) and Eos (Da (...)
  • 11 [The Ruff(Philomachus pugnax), a medium-sized wading bird, usually considered to be the only membe (...)

9Aelian names somewhat more birds than quadrupeds. There are a hundred and nine bird species in his history, but only seventy-three of them have been well known to us for a long time; others are the subject of doubt, and still others have only recently been recognized. Among the latter are the ruffs, great bearded vultures that in mythology were the companions of Memnon changed into birds, and which returned each year at the beginning of autumn to give battle upon the tomb of the hero Memnon.10 The ruffs are in fact well known under the name of combat birds11 and every year they engage in mortal combat for the possession of their females.

  • 12 [Hoopoe (Upupa epops), strikingly crested bird found from southern Europe and Africa to southeaste (...)

10We shall also cite the hoopoe,12 a bird of India easy to tame, and which, from the time of Homer, amused and delighted princes. The kings of India, according to Aelian, delighted in carrying a hoopoe around on their hand, and the Brahmans made it the subject of an extraordinary tale analogous to the one by Aristophanes on larks. These two fables are probably the same one, transported from India to Greece.

  • 13 [For Diard and Duvaucel, see Lesson 7, notes 42-43. The longsnouted gavial, or gharial (Gavialis g (...)

11Aelian describes fifty species of reptiles, several of which are quite remarkable. He informs us that the Ganges produces two species of crocodiles, and that one of them has a horn upon its snout. Up until our own time, no one believed in the existence of such a crocodile. Nevertheless, thirty years ago, a crocodile with a long snout much like the one described by Aelian was discovered, but its characteristic trait, the horned part, was not in evidence. It was only a few years ago that Messieurs Diard and Duvaucel finally found a crocodile with a fleshy, horned protuberance, which the individuals discovered thirty years earlier had lacked, probably by accident.13

12Aelian reports several things about serpents that will probably be verified. However, he must not be taken literally, for he often bases his writings on the Greeks, who were not naturalists and who expressed themselves in a vague manner.

  • 14 [Spiny globe or porcupine fish, any of the spiny, shallow-water fishes of the family Diodontidae, (...)
  • 15 [Spiny globe or porcupine fish, any of the spiny, shallow-water fishes of the family Diodontidae, (...)

13Aelian’s work abounds in fishes. He names about a hundred and thirty, seventy of which are described with fair accuracy. Some are described for the first time in his work, such as the diodon or archer, which is armed with long spines and which we call the spiny globefish;14 the citharaedus,15 which has the shape of a lyre; the anchovy, a small fish with a mouth that opens farther back than the eyes. Aelian imparts many interesting and valuable details about the habits of fishes to us, who are not particularly advanced in this sort of knowledge. The Greeks’ geographical situation made such research quite easy.

14Aelian names sixty kinds of insects, twenty of which belong to the crustaceans. Only twenty-five or twenty-six insects are well described. He names thirty mollusks or shellfishes, of which twenty are known to us.

  • 16 We ought to take notice of the fact that Pliny speaks of the pearls of Brittany in his Natural his (...)
  • 17 [Linnaeus (see Lesson 7, note 34) was the first to discover a way to culture a perfectly round pea (...)

15Aelian is the first to mention the pearls of Brittany. Before Aelian, only those of the Indian Ocean were known.16 Today we are still finding in the sea around Scotland pearls of the sort first mentioned by Aelian. Pearls are also found in a species of mussel that lives in the North Sea. Linnaeus proposed to prick this mollusk in order to force it to produce pearls,17 and in fact such objects are the result of an injury to the shellfish that are capable of producing them.

  • 18 [Ajasson de Grandsagne, see Lesson 13, note 44.]
  • 19 [Ajasson de Grandsagne’s edition of Aelian, with contributions from Cuvier, was published in twent (...)

16Monsieur Ajasson de Grandsagne18 and I have prepared a new edition of Aelian’s work.19 The chapters are placed in a better sequence, and the method of modern science will attempt to replace the chaos of the Greek compiler.

  • 20 [Pierre Alby is Pierre Gilles or Gyllius, born at Alby in 1490, traveled in Italy, and was sent to (...)
  • 21 [Francis I, also called (until 1515) Francis of Angoulême, French François d’Angoulême (born 12 Se (...)

17The first critic of Aelian, Pierre Alby,20 who had been sent to the Levant by Francis I,21 attempted to do what Monsieur de Grandsagne and I have just undertaken; but he did not give the Greek text, which was needful.

  • 22 [According to modern interpretation, Oppian is the name of the authors of two (or three) didactic (...)

18We are now going to examine the works of Oppian.22

  • 23 [Septimius Severus, in full Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax (born 146, Leptis Magna, Tripolitani (...)
  • 24 [Meleda, one of some eleven major islands that fringe the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.]
  • 25 [Caracalla, also spelled Caracallus, byname of Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, origina (...)
  • 26 [Suidas or Suda, a massive tenth-or eleventh-century encyclopedic dictionary that was the first su (...)

19This naturalist-poet was born towards the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius [emperor A.D. 161-180], at Anazarbus, the capital of Cilicia. His father was Agesilas and his mother Zenodota. Agesilas was one of the most distinguished members of the senate at Anazarbus, not so much for his birth as for his love of letters and philosophy. While young, Oppian had already gone through the round of sciences that the Greeks called the encyclopedia, when his father suddenly lost his fortune and was reduced to indigence. The emperor Septimius Severus,23 having only recently ascended the throne that he had conquered, had come to Anazarbus; all the senators hastened to go pay him their respects. Only Agesilas had neglected this duty that circumstances seemed to require of him. The emperor was annoyed at such indifference, which probably appeared to him to be a secret rebuke for his usurpation, and he despoiled Agesilas of all of his property and banished him to the island of Meleda24 in the Adriatic Sea. Oppian followed his father to this island, and it was there that he wrote his two poems on hunting and one on fishing. He went to Rome to present his poems to Severus and his son Antoninus Caracalla,25 both of whom loved the chase and fishing. This homage of a poet was so well received that the emperor allowed the poet to ask for anything he wanted. Oppian thought only of his father; but in addition to pardon for the father, the emperor granted the son a gold stater for each line of verse, which, according to Suidas,26 came to twenty thousand. But he did not enjoy his glory and prosperity for long: hardly had he returned to his country when a fearful plague ravaged the city of Anazarbus and carried off our naturalist-poet in the prime of life: he was but thirty years old. His fellow citizens raised a magnificent tomb upon which they placed his statue and a highly flattering inscription.

20The works of Oppian were three in number, as I have said: One is entitled Halieutica and is about fishing; the second is entitled Cynegetica and is about hunting the quadrupeds; the third was entitled Ixeutica and is about capturing birds. The poetry of these works is considered very beautiful, especially the Halieutica.

21Only the Halieutics and the Cynegetics are extant; furthermore, the fourth canto of the latter poem is incomplete and the fifth is completely lost. The Ixeutics are not extant.

  • 27 [The three ancient essays titled Cynegetica are attributed to Oppian (see Oppian, Oppiani poemata (...)
  • 28 [Julia Domna (died 217), second wife of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (reigned 193-211) and (...)

22The Cynegetics is the third essay of that name that antiquity has left us on the subject of the chase.27 Oppian begins the first canto of his poem with a dedication to Severus, Antoninus Caracalla, and Caracalla’s mother Domna,28 whom he poetically calls the Venus of Assyria. He then invokes Diana, and in a dialogue with the poet Diana indicates to him the subject of his cantos.

  • 29 [Oryx (genus Oryx), any of four large antelopes (family Bovidae, order Artiodactyla) living in her (...)

23Oppian describes the different kinds of horses known in his time, and he places in the first rank, for swiftness and elegance of conformation, the horses of Iberia, present-day Spain. One sees from his descriptions that the horse-types of his time did not differ from those that we have today. However, he brings up a variety of horse that we ought to notice because of the singular manner by which he claims it had been obtained. It was called the oryx,29 which resembled the zebra on account of the stripes of opposite colors that covered its body, and was produced by presenting a white horse before the eyes of a mare at the moment when she was with a black stallion. The imagination of the mare was thus one of the two causes of the melange of black and white.

  • 30 He speaks only of dogs that run after and capture their prey. It does not seem that in his time do (...)

24After horses, Oppian describes the various races of dogs known in his time and their characteristics.30

25In his second canto, he points out the animals that one could hunt, and mentions the bison, in addition to the moufflon or wild sheep. The latter animal, which is no longer found except in Sardinia and Corsica, lived then in Italy. Oppian also describes the oryx as if it were the gazelle. He says that its horns are pointed like darts and he does not adopt the error of certain other authors who claimed that the oryx had only one horn.

  • 31 [The four-horned oryx or antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), also known as the chousingha, found p (...)

26He mentions another oryx with four horns. These singular characteristics were long regarded as being fictitious, but such an animal was discovered three or four years ago and described by a foreign general.31

  • 32 [Ichneumon, small carnivorous mammal, a species of mongoose, any of numerous small carnivores of t (...)

27In the third canto of his poem, Oppian says that he saw at Rome a black lion of prodigious size that had come from Ethiopia to Libya and had been presented to the emperor. He distinguishes two types of panthers and two of acmons; the latter are probably the Arctic fox. He describes the ichneumon32 and the way it attacks the crocodile, and the giraffe, which he thinks is the result of the mingling of two different species, the panther and the camel. And he describes the ostrich, which he also thinks came from combining two entirely different species, the sparrow and the camel. Thus, in the writings of the ancients, the fabulous is always mixed in with the factual.

  • 33 Like Buffon [see Lesson 7, note 39], [Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de] Montesqu (...)

28In the fourth canto, Oppian gives details on the various types of hunting practiced in his time; he describes the equipment that each type requires, such as nets, machines, and weapons. Although in verse,33 all such details are very useful in informing us of the methods of the chase employed by the ancients.

  • 34 [For an English translation of Oppian’s Halieutics, see Oppian’s Halieuticks of the nature of fish (...)

29We are now going to examine the Halieutics.34 This work has not received a verse translation, we only have prose translations.

30In the first canto, the author announces that he is going talk about the courtships, the habits, the antipathies, and the means of defense of fishes, and the procedures that men follow to capture them. Then he invokes Neptune, and the sea itself and the lower gods that inhabit it. Next he commences the development of his subject by naming the places where one may find each kind of fish: he names a kind that is found only on sand-banks, one that lives in mud, one that seeks algae, one that keeps in the open sea, one that lives near rivers, and those that live only among rocks or in holes, where one must go to capture them.

31Naming the parrotfish as one of the fishes that live on rocks covered with plants, Oppian remarks that this is the only fish with a voice. We know that fishes cannot have a voice as such. Yet some observers claim to have heard certain fishes producing a sound resembling a voice.

32Oppian in discussing cetaceans includes all the large animals that live in the sea, such as the sea lions and whales. We now apply the name cetacean only to the warm-blooded mammals that live in the sea.

33In speaking of reproduction in fishes, Oppian reports in all seriousness an ancient fable about the marine eel and the viper. He claims that the viper goes to the seashore at a certain time, deposits its venom upon a rock, and calls to the marine eel; the eel immediately leaves the waters and when their courting is finished, the viper retrieves its venom and returns to its customary abode. But there are very few fables of this sort in Oppian.

  • 35 [Of parental care in dolphins, Oppian wrote:
    Now all the viviparous denizens of the sea love and ch (...)

34Towards the end of the first canto, he talks about the fishes that have young born live, and he gives details about the care the young are given. Some species –for example, the dolphins– go so far as to put their young in their mouth.35

  • 36 [Torpedo, see Lesson 8, note 13.]

35In his second canto, Oppian describes the habits of fishes, and the means they use in attacking and for self-defense. He describes quite well the torpedo’s ability to benumb, and he declares that the effects of this ability strike the fisherman through his line. The line is, in fact, a good conductor of the electricity released by the torpedo.36

  • 37 [Anglerfish, see Lesson 8, note 12.]

36Oppian well describes the ploy used by the anglerfish to catch fish. He says that it emits from its mouth slender filaments that resemble worms and it waves them about. When a fish, deceived by appearance, comes close to seize the anglerfish’s filaments, the latter draws them gradually back to its mouth, until the fish, which is following the moving prey, comes close enough for the anglerfish to seize.37 Oppian calls the anglerfish a fishing-frog.

  • 38 [Le bard: Cuvier probably means bar, the sea wolf, Dicentrarchus labrax.]

37In a very poetic segment, this author explains how certain shrimps or lobsters avenge themselves upon the bard38 that devours them. When they are seized by that voracious animal, they raise a kind of saw that is located on their heads, and they rip the palate of their enemy in passing through its mouth. The predator, carried away by its gluttony, continues to eat, but ends up succumbing to the torments of the injuries caused by the saw on each shrimp.

  • 39 [The sea ox or bœuf marin is the manta ray of the Mediterranean, Mobula mobular.]
  • 40 [Joseph Antoine Risso (born 1777, Nice; died 1845, Nice), pharmacist and professor at Nice, he bec (...)

38Oppian claims that the sea ox39 is a fish of great size and an object of fear to fishermen, who are often victims of its ruse. Its ruse consists in suddenly covering the victim with darkness by rushing upon the face so as to shut out all light. This sea ox is a large species of ray, about twelve or even fifteen feet long, quite well described by Risso.40 Everything that Oppian says about it is perfectly correct.

  • 41 [Pastinaque or stingray, any of a number of flat-bodied rays noted for the long, sharp spines on t (...)

39Oppian also describes correctly the poisonous stinger that a fish called the pastinaque41 carries on its tail, and which the ancients used in arming the tip of their arrows.

  • 42 [Mullet, any of the abundant, commercially valuable schooling fishes of the family Mugilidae (orde (...)

40Finally, he ends the second canto with an encomium on the mullet,42 which he represents as the symbol of virtue and innocence because it never attacks other fishes and lives only on algae and mud. Such innocence and virtue come from the fact that the mullet has no teeth.

41The third canto of Oppian’s poem is devoted to describing four different kinds of fisheries and the procedures used in his time. The use of some of these procedures has produced the results indicated by the author.

  • 43 [The sea wolf or loup marin is probably Dicentrarchus labrax (see note 38, above).]
  • 44 [Cuttlefish, any of several marine cephalopods of the order Sepioidea, related to the octopus and (...)

42Oppian knew a multitude of details, also accurate, about fishes. He says that the mullet jumps over nets, which necessitates the use of lateral nets. He reports that the sea wolf43 digs in the sand and passes under the net. Other fishes cut the fisherman’s line. The torpedo gives an electric charge so violent that often the line escapes from the hand holding it. When the cuttlefish44 senses a predator nearby, it spreads about itself a liquid so black that the predator loses sight of it.

  • 45 [Anthias anthias, a small ray-finned fish of the eastern tropical Atlantic and Mediterranean, well (...)
  • 46 [Le bard, see note 38, above.]

43In describing the bait that is needed, and which is almost always fish, Oppian has enabled us to determine several fish species that were much in doubt. For example, certain naturalists had supposed that the anthias45 was a golden red fish of considerable size in the Mediterranean; but Oppian, by indicating that this fish was used as bait for catching the bard,46 makes it fairly evident that this was a small fish. However, since Oppian includes very large animals among the fishes that can be used as bait, some doubt yet remains about the identity of the anthias.

44The author describes the rather curious fishery for this fish. The fisherman had to begin by taming it, by throwing food to it for several days, and only after he had thus trained the fish to come to him could he cast his nets to some purpose.

45The fishery for swordfish, a fish with a long sword, also presents curious details. To approach this fish, the fishermen constructed small boats having the appearance of swordfish, out of swordfish parts such as the sword or jaw of the animal. The swordfish, thinking it sees its own species, allows itself to be approached, and when the fishermen have surrounded the fish, they strike it with tridents until it is unable to flee. Today, tridents are still used in capturing this fish, but torches are used to attract it. This method is used in Sicily.

46After such fishery details, Oppian discusses fish migrations. The ancients believed that the tuna came from the ocean into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. We now know that this fish descends to the bottom and reappears in spring; but, too, we know that it sometimes comes from the Black Sea by way of the Dardanelles.

  • 47 [Thynnoscopes, or tuna towers, used since ancient times for spotting schools of tuna and giving in (...)

47Since fishing for these fish was the object of a considerable industry in Oppian’s time, men with well-trained eyes were employed in detecting shoals of tuna from afar and announcing their approach. Such men, called thynnoscopes,47 climbed up the highest hills or cliffs to carry out their task, and as soon as they had given the signal, nets were spread that caught a great number of tuna.

48In his fourth canto, Oppian discusses the methods of attracting fishes other than those he had already spoken of, and describes how fishes try to escape from the snares set for them. He speaks at length and in detail of the loyalty among the parrotfishes. He asserts that when one of them is caught on a line, the others swim round and attempt to disengage their fellow by chewing at the line; if one is caught in a net, they seize it by the tail and pull with all their strength. For capturing the parrotfish, mullet, and cuttlefish, fishermen used the female.

49According to Oppian, the octopus leaves the water and comes upon the shore when olivetree branches are placed there. Such a characteristic would merit research to verify its truth.

50Also, the sargus, a kind of mullet, is attracted by goats.

51The children in our poet’s time used a singular method of catching eels: they would toss a long intestine into the water and wait until an eel had swallowed a large part of it; they would inflate the intestine by blowing on the end they were holding, and then they could pull up the animal, which could no longer disengage itself from the swollen intestine.

  • 48 [Sciaena, a genus of drums, also called Croakers, any of about 160 species of fishes of the family (...)

52In order to capture the sciaena,48 fishermen would startle it; then it would throw itself upon the rocks, where they could capture it by hand.

  • 49 [Cyclamen, a genus of about 15 species of flowering perennial herbs of the primrose family (Primul (...)

53Drugs were often used to benumb the fishes. The one most often employed for this purpose was clay impregnated with the juice of the cyclamen root.49 This substance would produce a state of torpor in fishes, thus permitting the fisherman to capture them with ease.

54Oppian describes in the fifth canto the fisheries that were dangerous, in that they often required men to fight with the fish bodily.

55He makes the accurate observation that when the sea turtle is on land, it cannot move if turned over on its back and may be left in this position as long as one wishes, without fear that it will escape.

  • 50 [Dogfish, any of several small sharks of the families Squalidae, Scyliorhinidae, and Triakidae. Pa (...)

56Oppian describes combats with dogfish50 called panthers because of the spots on their bodies, and on this occasion he speaks of enormous cetaceans capable of endangering small boats.

57He ends his poem with a description of fishing for shellfish on the bottom of the sea. This fishery exposes the divers to the danger of being devoured by large fishes; but the ancients were well acquainted with the locations that were dangerous and those that were not. Oppian remarks that divers could go without fear wherever fishes lived that he called sacred, such fishes having, according to the opinion of the time, the power to keep dangerous fishes away. His remark is accurate; only his reason for it is false and completely superstitious. If one may penetrate with safety the waters where so-called sacred fishes live, it is not because they have the true power of chasing away fishes that are harmful; it is simply because such fish, like plaice and sole, are very weak and cannot survive in waters inhabited by the vigorous, mischievous fishes that man must avoid.

58The number of fishes mentioned by Oppian in the course of his poem comes to about one hundred and sixty. On some he gives information that it would be well to verify.

59Oppian is the last writer of antiquity that merits the title of naturalist. After him the list of original authors ends; we find nothing but a few fragments of little value or copies of published works. Physicians are the only authors that offer us any writings of noteworthy importance; since medicine is a necessary science, its progress is never interrupted. In closing the history of the natural sciences during the second century A. D., we shall examine from a scientific standpoint the works of the greatest physician of the Roman Empire, Galen, one of the most remarkable men of antiquity. Galen was a great anatomist, pathologist, and physiologist; he cultivated medical science in all of its branches, and many discoveries belong to him. He did not limit himself, as did Hippocrates, to collecting or keeping notes on diseases; well versed in philosophy, he had a profound knowledge of the different systems professed in his time. For extent and depth of insight, and for generalizing, he is the only man of Roman antiquity that can be ranked beside Aristotle.

60In our next session, we shall examine the works of Galen.

Notes

1 [Aelian, Latin in full Claudius Aelianus (born c. 170, Praeneste, near Rome; died c. 235), Roman author and teacher of rhetoric, who spoke and wrote so fluently in Greek –in which language his works were written– that he was nicknamed Meliglottos (“Honey-tongued”). Aelian was an admirer and student of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Plutarch, Homer, and others, and his own works preserve many excerpts from earlier writers. Aelian is chiefly remembered for his On the Nature of Animals (see note 2, below).]

2 [Aelians’s Natura animalium or On the Nature of Animals, contains curious moralistic stories of birds and other animals, often in the form of anecdote, folklore, or fable (Aelian (Claudius), On the Characters of Animals [with an English Translation by Scholfield A. F.], London: Heinemann, 1958-1959, 3 vols). His work set a pattern that continued in bestiaries and medical treatises through the Dark Ages. His Various History relates anecdotes of men and customs and miraculous events (Aelian (Claudius), Historical miscellany [edited and translated by Wilson N. G.], Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997, 514 p.) Fragments of other works survive.]

3 [Nicias or Nikias (born 470, died 413 B.C.) an Athenian general and politician who, from his father, inherited a large fortune, which he invested in the silver mines at Attica’s Mt. Laurium. By reason of his wealth, Nicias was naturally integrated into the aristocratic party, from which he did all his politics. After Pericles’s death, in 429 B.C., Nicias became this party’s leader, rivaling Cleon’s popular party. In 421 B.C., Nicias was the sole agent for the Peace of Nicias, bringing Athens into peace with the belligerent Sparta, after ten years of ferocious Peloponnesian War. Then, for limited time, all Athenians believed that Nicias had been their savior until, imposing his own plans, the so controversial aristocrat Alcibiades decided restarting the war (see Plutarch, Nicias and Alcibiades [newly translated with introduction and notes, by Perrin Bernadotte], New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1912, [ix] + xi + 335 p.)]

4 [Ox, strictly speaking, is the Saxon name for the males of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus), but in a zoological sense the term includes not only the extinct wild ox of Europe but likewise bovine animals of every description, that is to say true oxen, bison and buffaloes. In the typical oxen, as represented by the existing domesticated breeds and the extinct aurochs, the horns are long and prominent, placed on an elevated crest at the very vertex of the skull. Shorthorned and hornless breeds are a modern derivative from cattle of the same general type. Modern hornless breeds are of interest in demonstrating how easily the horns can be eliminated, thus perhaps indicating a hornless ancestry.]

5 [Catoblepas, see Lesson 13, note 20.]

6 [Spiny mouse (genus Acomys), any of 18 species of largeeared rodents, family Muridae (order Rodentia), characterized by the hard, spiny hairs of their backs. Spiny mice are sandcolored, reddish brown, or grayish and are about 10 centimeters (4 inches) long, excluding the long, scaly tail. Spiny mice are found in rocky or sandy areas of Africa and southwestern Asia. They are herbivorous, feeding primarily on grain and plants, and in some areas they live near or with humans.]

7 [Egyptian Expedition, see Lesson 12, note 41.]

8 [Babirusa, a kind of pig (Babyrousa babirussa).]

9 [Onocentaur: originating during the middle ages, a variation of the centaur. Instead of being part horse and part man, the onocentaur is part donkey and part man.]

10 [Memnon, in Greek mythology, son of Tithonus (son of Laomedon, legendary king of Troy) and Eos (Dawn) and king of the Ethiopians. He was a post-Homeric hero, who, after the death of the Trojan warrior Hector, went to assist his uncle Priam, the last king of Troy, against the Greeks. He performed prodigies of valor but was slain by the Greek hero Achilles. According to tradition, Zeus, the king of the gods, was moved by the tears of Eos and bestowed immortality upon Memnon. His companions were changed into birds, called Memnonides, that came every year to fight and lament over his grave. The combat between Achilles and Memnon was often represented by Greek artists, and the story of Memnon was the subject of the lost Aethiopis of Arctinus of Miletus (fl. c. 650 B.C.)]

11 [The Ruff(Philomachus pugnax), a medium-sized wading bird, usually considered to be the only member of its genus. Migratory by nature, they winter in southern and western Europe, Africa, and India. They are highly gregarious, but during breeding, which usually takes place in bogs, marshes, and wet meadows, the males actively court females and display a high degree of aggression towards other resident males.]

12 [Hoopoe (Upupa epops), strikingly crested bird found from southern Europe and Africa to southeastern Asia, the sole member of the family Upupidae of the roller order, Coraciiformes. About 28 centimeters (11 inches) long, it is pinkish brown on the head and shoulders, with a long, black-tipped, erectile crest and black-and-white barred wings and tail. The hoopoe takes insects and other small invertebrates by probing the ground with its long, down-curved bill. Some systems of classification recognize one other species (U. africana), found from Ethiopia to South Africa.]

13 [For Diard and Duvaucel, see Lesson 7, notes 42-43. The longsnouted gavial, or gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a species similar to the crocodile, is found in a number of large rivers, including the Ganges and Brahmaputra and their tributaries.]

14 [Spiny globe or porcupine fish, any of the spiny, shallow-water fishes of the family Diodontidae, found in seas around the world, especially the species Diodon hystrix. They are related to the puffers and, like them, can inflate their bodies when provoked. Porcupine fishes are short and broad-bodied, with large eyes, beaklike teeth, and skins set with spines, hence the name. These spines are short and permanently erect in some species, such as the burrfishes of the genus Chilomycterus. In the others, such as those of the genus Diodon, the spines lie against the body except when the fish is inflated.] [Citharaedus, a name used by Aelian (Book 11, Chap. 23) for the Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), a large colorful fish that inhabits coral reef communities throughout the Indo-west Pacific (see Günther (Albert Charles Lewis), Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum, volume 2, London: British Museum, 1860, xxi + 548 p.)]

15 [Spiny globe or porcupine fish, any of the spiny, shallow-water fishes of the family Diodontidae, found in seas around the world, especially the species Diodon hystrix. They are related to the puffers and, like them, can inflate their bodies when provoked. Porcupine fishes are short and broad-bodied, with large eyes, beaklike teeth, and skins set with spines, hence the name. These spines are short and permanently erect in some species, such as the burrfishes of the genus Chilomycterus. In the others, such as those of the genus Diodon, the spines lie against the body except when the fish is inflated.] [Citharaedus, a name used by Aelian (Book 11, Chap. 23) for the Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), a large colorful fish that inhabits coral reef communities throughout the Indo-west Pacific (see Günther (Albert Charles Lewis), Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum, volume 2, London: British Museum, 1860, xxi + 548 p.)]

16 We ought to take notice of the fact that Pliny speaks of the pearls of Brittany in his Natural history (see Lesson 13, note 1). [M. de St.-Agy.]

17 [Linnaeus (see Lesson 7, note 34) was the first to discover a way to culture a perfectly round pearl (Blunt (Wilfrid), Linnaeus, the Compleat Naturalist [with an introduction by Stearns William T.], Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001, 264 p.) By inserting a small, T-shaped piece of silver wire into a freshwater mussel, he caused a tiny irritant granule to be held away from the shell so the nacre could build up around it. In 1762, he later sold his patent to a local merchant for the equivalent of about $ 3,000, but the man made no attempt to establish a Swedish pearl industry.]

18 [Ajasson de Grandsagne, see Lesson 13, note 44.]

19 [Ajasson de Grandsagne’s edition of Aelian, with contributions from Cuvier, was published in twenty volumes by Panckoucke in Paris between 1829 and 1833.]

20 [Pierre Alby is Pierre Gilles or Gyllius, born at Alby in 1490, traveled in Italy, and was sent to the Levant by Francis I. Obliged for lack of support to join the army of Soliman II, he bought his way out again, returned by way of Hungary and Germany, and died in Rome at the house of the Cardinal d’Armagnac in 1555. His little treatise De gallicis etlatinis nominibus piscium massiliensium was written before his travels to the Levant and was first printed in 1533 as a summary chapter to his excerpts from Aelian (see Ex Aeliani historia per Petrum Gyllium latini facti, itemque ex Porphyrio, Heliodoro, Oppiano, tum eodem Gyllio luculentis accessionibus aucti libri XVI de vi et natura animalium: eiusdem Gyllii liber unus de Gallicis et Latinis nominibus piscium, Lugduni: Gryphius, 1533, [14] + 598 p. + [5]; Ex Aeliani historia per Petrum Gyllium Latini facti, itemque ex Porphyrio, Heliodoro, Oppiano, tum eodem Gyllio luculentis accessionibus aucti libri 16. De ui & natura animalium. Eiusdem Gyllij liber unus, De Gallicis & Latinis nominibus piscium, Lugduni: apud Seb. Gryphium, 1535, 599 p., in 4°).]

21 [Francis I, also called (until 1515) Francis of Angoulême, French François d’Angoulême (born 12 September 1494, Cognac, France; died 31 March 1547, Rambouillet), king of France (1515-1547), the first of five monarchs of the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois. A Renaissance patron of the arts and scholarship, a humanist, and a knightly king, he waged campaigns in Italy (1515-16) and fought a series of wars with the Holy Roman Empire (1521-1544).]

22 [According to modern interpretation, Oppian is the name of the authors of two (or three) didactic poems in Greek hexameter, formerly identified, but now generally regarded as two different persons: Oppian of Corycus (or Anazarbus) in Cilia (fl. in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, emperor A.D. 161-180), who wrote a poem on fishing, the Halieutica, and dedicated it to Aurelius and his son Commodus (see Oppian’s Halieuticks of the nature of fishes and fishingof the ancients in V. books [translated from the Greek by Jones John, with an account of Oppian’s life and writings, and a catalogue of his fishes], Oxford: Printed at the Theater, 1722, 232 p.); and Oppian of Apamea (or Pella) in Syria who wrote a poem on hunting, the Cynegetica, dedicated to the emperor Caracalla (so it must have been written after 211; see Oppian, Oppiani poemata de venationes et piscatione cum interpretatione Latina et Scholiis, Tomus I: “Cynegetica” [ed. by Belin de Ballu Jacques-Nicolas], Argentorati: Bibliopolii Academici, 1786, xliv + 366 + [2] p. + 2 pls). A third poem, onbird-hunting, the Ixeutica, also attributed to an Oppian, is lost.]

23 [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.]

24 [Meleda, one of some eleven major islands that fringe the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.]

25 [Caracalla, also spelled Caracallus, byname of Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, original name (until A.D. 196) Septimius Bassianus, also called (A.D. 196-198) Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caesar (born 4 April A.D. 188, Lugdunum, Gaul; died 8 April 217, near Carrhae, Mesopotamia), Roman emperor, ruling jointly with his father, Septimius Severus (see note 23, above), from 198 to 211 and then alone from 211 until his assassination in 217. His principal achievements were his colossal baths in Rome and his edict of 212, giving Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire. Caracalla, whose reign contributed to the decay of the empire, has often been regarded as one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants in Roman history.]

26 [Suidas or Suda, a massive tenth-or eleventh-century encyclopedic dictionary that was the first such work to be completely arranged alphabetically. It had no effect on the plan of later encyclopedias, but its contents included so much useful information that it has retained its importance as a source throughout the succeeding centuries (see on line: Suda Lexicon [Byzantine lexicography, published by the Stoa Consortium (managing editors: Finkel Raphael et al.; senior editor: Whitehead David], Lexington (Kentucky): Stoa Consortium: http://www.stoa.org/sol/).]

27 [The three ancient essays titled Cynegetica are attributed to Oppian (see Oppian, Oppiani poemata de venationes et piscatione cum interpretatione Latina etScholiis, Tomus I: “Cynegetica” [ed. by Belin de Ballu Jacques-Nicolas], Argentorati: Bibliopolii Academici, 1786, xliv + 366 + [2] p. + 2 pls), Faliscus Grattius (Roman poet of the time of Augustus; see Grattius (Faliscus), Cynegeticon libri I quae supersunt [text Latin with transl. in French; ed. by Verdière Raoul], Wetteren (Belgique): Universa, 1964, 2 vols), and Marcus Aurelius Olympius Nemesianus (Roman poet, a native of Carthage, fl. c. A.D. 283; see Nemesianus (Marcus Aurelius Olympius), Les Cynégétiques de Némésien: édition critique, Antwerpen: De Sikkel, 1937, 9-65 + [1] p. + 3 pls).

28 [Julia Domna (died 217), second wife of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (reigned 193-211) and a powerful figure in the regime of his successor, the emperor Caracalla. Julia was a Syrian (Domna being her Syrian name) and was the daughter of the hereditary high priest Bassianus at Emesa (now Homs) in Syria and elder sister of Julia Maesa. Domna gathered about her in Rome a group of philosophers and other intellectuals whose activities are best known through the writings of Philostratus. After Severus’s death the murderous rancour of her two sons, the joint emperors Caracalla and Geta, culminated in the assassination of Geta by Caracalla in her presence (212). When Caracalla (reigned 211-217) was on campaign, he left her in control of most of the civilian administration. On the news of his murder in 217 she is said to have starved herself to death, either voluntarily or on the orders of the new emperor, Macrinus.]

29 [Oryx (genus Oryx), any of four large antelopes (family Bovidae, order Artiodactyla) living in herds on deserts and dry plains of Africa and Arabia. Oryxes are stocky animals 102-120 cm (40-47 inches) tall at the shoulder. They have a mane and a tufted tail and have dark patches on the face and forehead, a dark streak on either side of the eye, and dark markings (varying with the species) on the body and legs.]

30 He speaks only of dogs that run after and capture their prey. It does not seem that in his time dogs were trained to fix game until their masters came up to kill it, or to start game so as to be chased or killed on the wing. This kind of chase, which is now the most popular and the most pleasurable, does not seem to have been known to Oppian [M. de St.-Agy.]

31 [The four-horned oryx or antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), also known as the chousingha, found primarily in India, is the only antelope with horns – two on the crown of its head, and a smaller pair set just above its eyes. The species was formally described in the scientific literature in 1816 by French zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (born 1777, died 1850), but the identity of the “foreign general” is unknown.]

32 [Ichneumon, small carnivorous mammal, a species of mongoose, any of numerous small carnivores of the civet family (Viverridae) found in Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. There are more than 40 species, belonging to about 15 genera. The typical, most common, and probably best-known mongooses belong to the genus Herpestes. This genus contains about 10 species, among which is the ichneumon (Herpestes ichneumon) of Africa and southern Europe.]

33 Like Buffon [see Lesson 7, note 39], [Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de] Montesquieu [French political philosopher, born 18 January 1689, Château La Brède, near Bordeaux, France; died 10 February 1755, Paris], and other famous men, Cuvier does not seem to care for poetry. This feeling is also seen in his response to Monsieur [Alphonse] de Lamartine [French poet and statesman, born 21 October 1790, Mâcon, France; died 28 February 1869, Paris] at his election [in 1830] to the Académie Française. [M. de St.-Agy.]

34 [For an English translation of Oppian’s Halieutics, see Oppian’s Halieuticks of the nature of fishes and fishing of the ancients in V. books [translated from the Greek by Jones John, with an account of Oppian’s life and writings, and a catalogue of his fishes], Oxford: Printed at the Theater, 1722, 232 p.; Oppian Colluthus Tryphiodorus [with an English translation by Mair Alexander William], London: William Heinemann Ltd; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928, lxxx + 635 p.]

35 [Of parental care in dolphins, Oppian wrote:
Now all the viviparous denizens of the sea love and cherish their young but diviner than the dolphin is nothing yet created.
For indeed they were aforetime men and lived in cities along with mortals, but by the devising of Dionysus they exchanged the land for the sea and put on the form of fishes; but even now the righteous spirit of men in them preserves human thoughts and human deeds. For when the twin offspring of their travail come into the light, straightaway, soon as they are born, they swim and gambol round their mother and enter within her teeth and linger in the maternal mouth; and she for her love suffers them and circles about her children gaily and exulting with great joy (see Oppian Colluthus Tryphiodorus [with an English translation by Mair Alexander William], London: William Heinemann Ltd; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928, pp. 269-271.)]

36 [Torpedo, see Lesson 8, note 13.]

37 [Anglerfish, see Lesson 8, note 12.]

38 [Le bard: Cuvier probably means bar, the sea wolf, Dicentrarchus labrax.]

39 [The sea ox or bœuf marin is the manta ray of the Mediterranean, Mobula mobular.]

40 [Joseph Antoine Risso (born 1777, Nice; died 1845, Nice), pharmacist and professor at Nice, he became professor of physical sciences and natural history at the Lycée Impérial in 1813, professor of botany at the medical-surgical school of Nice in 1814, and professor of mineralogical chemistry and botany at the preparatory school of medicine and pharmacology, which he established at Nice in 1832. In ichthyology, his major work is Ichthyologie de Nice, ou histoire naturelle des poissons du Département des Alpes Maritimes, Paris: F. Schoell, 1810, xxxvi + 388 p. For more on Risso’s life and work, see Monod (Théodore) & Hureau (Jean-Claude), “Essai de bibliographie de Risso”, in Monod (Théodore) & Hureau (Jean-Claude), Antoine Risso (1777-1845), volume publié à l’occasion du bicentenaire de sa naissance, no spécial des Annales du Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Nice, vol. 5, 1977 [1978], pp. 159-163; Vayrolatti (François Edmond), Gasiglia (Roger), Hureau (Jean-Claude) & Monod (Théodore), “Biographie. Un pharmacien nicois. Antoine Risso (1777-1845): sa vie, son œuvre”, in Monod (Théodore) & Hureau (Jean-Claude), Antoine Risso..., op. cit., pp. 7-26.]

41 [Pastinaque or stingray, any of a number of flat-bodied rays noted for the long, sharp spines on their tails. They are sometimes placed in a single family, Dasyatidae, but often separated into two families, Dasyatidae and Urolophidae. Stingrays are disk-shaped and have flexible, tapering tails armed, in most species, with one or more saw-edged, venomous spines.]

42 [Mullet, any of the abundant, commercially valuable schooling fishes of the family Mugilidae (order Perciformes). Mullets number fewer than 100 species and are found throughout tropical and temperate regions. They generally inhabit salt water or brackish water and frequent shallow, inshore areas, commonly grubbing about in the sand or mud for microscopic plants, small animals, and other food. They are silvery fishes 30-90 cm (1-3 feet) long, with large scales; relatively stocky, cigar-shaped bodies; forked tails; and two distinct dorsal fins, the first containing four stiff spines. Many have strong, gizzard-like stomachs and long intestines capable of handling a largely vegetarian diet. The common or striped mullet (Mugil cephalus), cultivated in some areas because of its rapid growth rate, is a well-known species found worldwide.]

43 [The sea wolf or loup marin is probably Dicentrarchus labrax (see note 38, above).]

44 [Cuttlefish, any of several marine cephalopods of the order Sepioidea, related to the octopus and squid and characterized by a thick, internal, calcified shell called the cuttlebone. The approximately 100 species of cuttlefish range between 2.5 and 90 centimeters (1 to 35 inches) and have somewhat flattened bodies bordered by a pair of narrow fins. All species have eight arms and two longer tentacles that are used in capturing prey and can be withdrawn into two pouches. Suction disks are located on the arms and on expanded pads at the tips of the tentacles.]

45 [Anthias anthias, a small ray-finned fish of the eastern tropical Atlantic and Mediterranean, well known for its bright reddish orange coloration.]

46 [Le bard, see note 38, above.]

47 [Thynnoscopes, or tuna towers, used since ancient times for spotting schools of tuna and giving instructions to the fishermen waiting below.]

48 [Sciaena, a genus of drums, also called Croakers, any of about 160 species of fishes of the family Sciaenidae (order Perciformes); drums are carnivorous, generally bottom-dwelling fishes. Most are marine, found along warm and tropical seashores. Comparatively few inhabit temperate or fresh waters. Most are noisemakers and can “vocalize” by moving strong muscles attached to the air bladder, which acts as a resonating chamber, amplifying the sounds.]

49 [Cyclamen, a genus of about 15 species of flowering perennial herbs of the primrose family (Primulaceae) that are native to the Middle East and southern and central Europe. The florist’s cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), the best-known species, is notable as an indoor plant cultivated for its attractive white to pink to deep red flowers.]

50 [Dogfish, any of several small sharks of the families Squalidae, Scyliorhinidae, and Triakidae. Panthers are probably spotted dogfishes of the family Scyliorhinidae, which include the larger spotted dogfish, or nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellarius), which grows to about 150 cm long, and the lesser spotted dogfish (S. cuniculus), which is about 90 cm long. Both of these common, brown-spotted sharks are caught and sold as food.]

Table des illustrations

Légende CROCODILE AND GAVIAL. Illustration by De Sève engraved by Hubert, from Bufon (Georges-Louis Leclerc de) & Daudin (François-Marie), Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, t. 79: Reptiles [new ed.], Paris: Imprimerie de F. Dufart, 1802, pl. 27, p. 327.
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/3799/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 871k

© Publications scientifiques du Muséum, 2012

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540