Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of History of Animals



Previous | Next
                  

History of Animals   


As was previously stated, the male is more courageous than the
female, and more sympathetic in the way of standing by to help. Even
in the case of molluscs, when the cuttle-fish is struck with the
trident the male stands by to help the female; but when the male is
struck the female runs away.
There is enmity between such animals as dwell in the same
localities or subsist on the food. If the means of subsistence run
short, creatures of like kind will fight together. Thus it is said
that seals which inhabit one and the same district will fight, male
with male, and female with female, until one combatant kills the
other, or one is driven away by the other; and their young do even
in like manner.
All creatures are at enmity with the carnivores, and the
carnivores with all the rest, for they all subsist on living
creatures. Soothsayers take notice of cases where animals keep apart
from one another, and cases where they congregate together; calling
those that live at war with one another 'dissociates', and those
that dwell in peace with one another 'associates'. One may go so far
as to say that if there were no lack or stint of food, then those
animals that are now afraid of man or are wild by nature would be tame
and familiar with him, and in like manner with one another. This is
shown by the way animals are treated in Egypt, for owing to the fact
that food is constantly supplied to them the very fiercest creatures
live peaceably together. The fact is they are tamed by kindness, and
in some places crocodiles are tame to their priestly keeper from being
fed by him. And elsewhere also the same phenomenon is to be observed.
The eagle and the snake are enemies, for the eagle lives on
snakes; so are the ichneumon and the venom-spider, for the ichneumon
preys upon the latter. In the case of birds, there is mutual enmity
between the poecilis, the crested lark, the woodpecker (?), and the
chloreus, for they devour one another's eggs; so also between the crow
and the owl; for, owing to the fact that the owl is dim-sighted by
day, the crow at midday preys upon the owl's eggs, and the owl at
night upon the crow's, each having the whip-hand of the other, turn
and turn about, night and day.
There is enmity also between the owl and the wren; for the
latter also devours the owl's eggs. In the daytime all other little
birds flutter round the owl-a practice which is popularly termed
'admiring him'-buffet him, and pluck out his feathers; in
consequence of this habit, bird-catchers use the owl as a decoy for
catching little birds of all kinds.
The so-called presbys or 'old man' is at war with the weasel and
the crow, for they prey on her eggs and her brood; and so the
turtle-dove with the pyrallis, for they live in the same districts and
on the same food; and so with the green wood pecker and the libyus;
and so with kite and the raven, for, owing to his having the advantage
from stronger talons and more rapid flight the former can steal
whatever the latter is holding, so that it is food also that makes
enemies of these. In like manner there is war between birds that get
their living from the sea, as between the brenthus, the gull, and
the harpe; and so between the buzzard on one side and the toad and
snake on the other, for the buzzard preys upon the eggs of the two
others; and so between the turtle-dove and the chloreus; the
chloreus kills the dove, and the crow kills the so-called
drummer-bird.
The aegolius, and birds of prey in general, prey upon the
calaris, and consequently there is war between it and them; and so
is there war between the gecko-lizard and the spider, for the former
preys upon the latter; and so between the woodpecker and the heron,
for the former preys upon the eggs and brood of the latter. And so
between the aegithus and the ass, owing to the fact that the ass, in
passing a furze-bush, rubs its sore and itching parts against the
prickles; by so doing, and all the more if it brays, it topples the
eggs and the brood out of the nest, the young ones tumble out in

Previous | Next
Site Search