15 March 2015

Antigonus 60–66: Some general comments on animal behaviour and physiology


60(a)(65) [Aristotle] says that the goatherds say that when the sun turns most quickly, the goats [aix] lie down facing each other.
(b)(66) Lycus narrates something similar to this. He says that in Libya the flocks [ktene]—of which some, for the rest of the time, sleep facing one another while others sleep in whatever way they chance to lie down—on the night on which the dog-star rises, are turned towards that same star. The inhabitants use this as evidence of its rising.
Aristotle also goes through other such matters, apart from the instincts of animals concerning their way of life, using a great deal of care in the majority of his works and not using anything inconsequential in his explanation. In total, he has written nearly seventy books on these matters, and has tried to dwell more on explanation than on narrative in each. As regards my excerpt, it is sufficient for it to summarize the strange and paradoxical content of both the aforementioned and his other writings.

61(67) He says that all the land animals which have lungs breathe but that wasps [sphex] and bees [melissa] do not breathe.

62(68) Of those that have bladders, all have intestines as well, but of those that have intestines, not all have bladders.

63(69) While many animals are bloodless, on the whole they are those which have more than four feet.

64(70) Of those that have hair, all give birth to living offspring, but the reverse is not the case.

65(71) All creatures can move their lower jaw except the crocodile [krokodeilos], which can only move its upper jaw.

66(72) Among the Illyrians and in Paeonia there is a <pig> [hys] with uncloven feet; of the two-horned animals, no specimen with uncloven hoof is to be found, and <few> one-horned beasts with uncloven hoof, like the Indian ass* [Indikos onos] (this animal alone of the uncloven-footed has a knucklebone, too).

*Unicorn, or possibly rhinoceros.

Cross-references: available

© R. Hardiman 2015

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