19 May 2015

Antigonus 89–92: Corpse-born snakes and other matters

89(96)[1] This, too, is singular, that when the spinal chord of certain corpses rots, small snakes [ophis] are generated from the spine, if before death they breathe in the odour of a deadly snake. [2] We have already encountered an epigram of Archelaus, of whom I have formerly made mention, who wrote this also about marvels and says:
All things through themselves does much time seal up;
From the chord of the hollow spine of a man
Comes a terrible serpent, when the worthless body has rotted,
Which takes on a new life from this prodigy,
Dragging living being from the dead: if this is so,
It is no marvel for Cecrops to have sprouted a double form.
So we can make this [fact] rest on both common hearsay and, more esoterically, the evidence of the epigram.

90(97) Aristotle says that a living thing is generated in wax, which is held to be the smallest of all and is called 'akari'.

91(98) The river-crocodile [krokodeilos] goes from being very small to very great in size: for though its egg is no larger than that of the goose, the crocodile itself grows to seventeen cubits.

92(99)[1] Octopi [polypous] rule over crayfish [karabos], for they suffer nothing under their carapace. [2] And over octopi, the conger eels [gongros], for the octopi are unable to deal with them because of their smoothness. [3] And over the conger, the crayfish: for it does not glance off [the eel] but cuts it to pieces because of the jaggedness of its shell.

Cross-references: Not available

© R. Hardiman 2015

Image Credits
Etching by Heath (Wellcome Trust, via Wikimedia Commons)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/


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