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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9458
Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 10.3-10.5


nanOf the birds known to us the eagle is the most honourable and also the strongest. Of eagles there are six kinds. The one called by the Greeks the black eagle, and also the hare-eagle is smallest in size and of outstanding strength; it is of a blackish colour. It is the only eagle that rears its own young, whereas all the others, as we shall describe, drive them away; and it is the only one that has no scream or cry. Its haunt is in the mountains. To the second kind belongs the white-rump eagle found in towns and in level country; it has a whitish tail. To the third the morphnos, which Homer also calls the dusky eagle, and some the plangos and also the duck-eagle; it is second in size and strength, and it lives in the neighbourhood of lakes. Phemonoe, who was styled Daughter of Apollo, has stated that it possesses teeth, but that it is mute and voiceless; also that it is the darkest of the eagles in colour, and has an exceptionally prominent tail. Boethus also agrees. It has a clever device for breaking tortoiseshells that it has carried off, by dropping them from a height; this accident caused the death of the poet Aeschylus, who was trying to avoid a disaster of this nature that had been foretold by the fates, as the story goes, by trustfully relying on the open sky. Next, the fourth class comprises the hawk-eagle, also called the mountain stork, which resembles a vulture in having very small wings but exceeds it in the size of its other parts, and yet is unwarlike and degenerate, as it allows a crow to flog it. It is always ravenously greedy, and keeps up a plaintive screaming. It is the only eagle that carries away the dead bodies of its prey; all the others after killing alight on the spot. This species causes the fifth kind to be called the' true eagle,' as being the genuine kind and the only pure-bred one; it is of medium size and dull reddish colour, and it is rarely seen. There remains the osprey, which has very keen eyesight, and which hovers at a great height and when it sees a fish in the sea drops on it with a swoop and cleaving the water with its breast catches it. The species that we made the third hunts round marshes for water-birds, which at once dive, till they become drowsy and exhausted, when it catches them. The duel is worth watching, the bird making for refuge on the shore, especially if there is a dense reed-bed, and the eagle driving it away from the shore with a blow of its wing; and when it is hunting its quarry in a lake, soaring and showing its shadow to the bird swimming under water away from the shore, so that the bird turns back again and comes to the surface at a place where it thinks it is least expected. This is the reason why birds swim in flocks, because several are not attacked at the same time, since they blind the enemy by splashing him with their wings. Often even the eagles themselves cannot carry the weight of their catch and are drowned with it. The sea-eagle only compels its still unfledged chicks by beating them to gaze full at the rays of the sun, and if it notices one blinking and with its eyes watering flings it out of the nest as a bastard and not true to stock, whereas one whose gaze stands firm against the light it rears. Sea-eagles have no breed of their own but are born from crossbreeding with other eagles; but the offspring of a pair of sea-eagles belongs to the osprey genus, from which spring the smaller vultures, and from these the great vultures which do not breed at all. Some people add a species of eagle which they call the bearded eagle, but which the Tuscans call an ossifrage.


nanThe three first and the fifth kinds of eagle have the stone called eagle-stone (named by some gagites) built into their nests, which is useful for many cures, and loses none of its virtue by fire. The stone in question is big with another inside it, which rattles as if in a jar when you shake it. But only those taken from a nest possess the medicinal power referred to. They build their nests in rocks and trees, and lay as many as three eggs at a time, but they shut out two chicks of the brood, and have been seen on occasion to eject even three. They drive out the other chick when they are tired of feeding it: indeed at this period nature has denied food to the parent birds themselves as a precaution, so that the young of all the wild animals should not be plundered; also during those days the birds' talons turn inward, and their feathers grow white from want of food, so that with good reason they hate their own offspring. But the chicks thrown out by these birds are received by the kindred breed, the bearded eagles, who rear them with their own. However the parent bird pursues them even when grown up, and drives them far away, doubtless because they are competitors in the chase. And apart from this a single pair of eagles in order to get enough food requires a large tract of country to hunt over; consequently they mark out districts, and do not poach on their neighbours' preserves. When they have made a catch they do not carry it off at once, but first lay it on the ground, and only fly away with it after first testing its weight. They meet their end not from old age nor sickness but from hunger, as their upper mandible grows to such a size that it is too hooked for them to be able to open it. They get busy and fly in the afternoon, but in the earlier hours of the day they perch quite idle till the market-places fill with a gathering of people. If eagles' feathers have the feathers of any other birds mixed with them, they swallow them up. It is stated that this is the only bird that is never killed by a thunderbolt; this, is why custom has deemed the eagle to be Jupiter's armour-bearer.


nanThe eagle was assigned to the Roman legions as their special badge by Gaius Marius in his second consulship. Even previously it had been their first badge, with four others, wolves, minotaurs, horses and boars going in front of the respective ranks; but a few years before the custom had come in of carrying the eagles alone into action, the rest being left behind in camp. Marius discarded them altogether. Thenceforward it was noticed that there was scarcely ever a legion's winter camp without a pair of eagles being in the neighbourhood., The first and second kinds not only carry off the smaller four-footed animals but actually do battle with stags. The eagle collects a quantity of dust by rolling in it, and perching on the stag's horns sakes it off into its eyes, striking its head with its wings, until it brings it down on to the rocks. Nor is it content with one foe: it has a fiercer battle with a great serpent, and one that is of much more doubtful issue, even though it is in the air. The serpent with mischievous greed tries to get the eagle's eggs; consequently the eagle carries it off wherever seen. The serpent fetters its wings by twining itself round them in manifold coils so closely that it falls to the ground itself with the snake.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

15 results
1. Herodotus, Histories, 2.73, 3.106, 3.111 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

2.73. There is another sacred bird, too, whose name is phoenix. I myself have never seen it, only pictures of it; for the bird seldom comes into Egypt : once in five hundred years, as the people of Heliopolis say. ,It is said that the phoenix comes when his father dies. If the picture truly shows his size and appearance, his plumage is partly golden and partly red. He is most like an eagle in shape and size. ,What they say this bird manages to do is incredible to me. Flying from Arabia to the temple of the sun, they say, he conveys his father encased in myrrh and buries him at the temple of the Sun. ,This is how he conveys him: he first molds an egg of myrrh as heavy as he can carry, then tries lifting it, and when he has tried it, he then hollows out the egg and puts his father into it, and plasters over with more myrrh the hollow of the egg into which he has put his father, which is the same in weight with his father lying in it, and he conveys him encased to the temple of the Sun in Egypt . This is what they say this bird does. 3.106. The most outlying nations of the world have somehow drawn the finest things as their lot, exactly as Greece has drawn the possession of far the best seasons. ,As I have lately said, India lies at the world's most distant eastern limit; and in India all living creatures four-footed and flying are much bigger than those of other lands, except the horses, which are smaller than the Median horses called Nesaean; moreover, the gold there, whether dug from the earth or brought down by rivers or got as I have described, is very abundant. ,There, too, wool more beautiful and excellent than the wool of sheep grows on wild trees; these trees supply the Indians with clothing. 3.111. As for cinnamon, they gather it in an even stranger way. Where it comes from and what land produces it they cannot say, except that it is reported, reasonably enough, to grow in the places where Dionysus was reared. ,There are great birds, it is said, that take these dry sticks which we have learned from the Phoenicians to call cinnamon and carry them off to nests stuck with mud to precipitous cliffs, where man has no means of approach. ,The Arabian solution to this is to cut dead oxen and asses and other beasts of burden into the largest possible pieces, then to set these near the eyries and withdraw far off. The birds then fly down (it is said) and carry the pieces of the beasts up to their nests, while these, not being able to bear the weight, break and fall down the mountain side, and then the Arabians come and gather them up. Thus is cinnamon said to be gathered, and so to come from Arabia to other lands.
2. Anon., Jubilees, 40.10 (2nd cent. BCE - 2nd cent. BCE)

40.10. and caused him to ride in the second chariot of Pharaoh. brAnd he clothed him with byssus garments, and he put a gold chain upon his neck, and (a herald) proclaimed before him "’Êl ’Êl wa’ Abîrĕr
3. Ovid, Amores, 2.6.1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.382-15.407 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Strabo, Geography, 16.4.2, 17.1.29 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

16.4.2. I return to the opinions of Eratosthenes, which he next delivers respecting Arabia. He is speaking of the northern and desert part, lying between Arabia Felix, Coele-Syria, and Judaea, to the recess of the Arabian Gulf.From Heroopolis, situated in that recess of the Arabian Gulf which is on the side of the Nile, to Babylon, towards Petra of the Nabataei, are 5600 stadia. The whole tract lies in the direction of the summer solstice (i. e. east and west), and passes through the adjacent Arabian tribes, namely Nabataei, Chaulotaei, and Agraei. Above these people is Arabia Felix, stretching out 12,000 stadia towards the south to the Atlantic Sea.The first people, next after the Syrians and Jews, who occupy this country are husbandmen. These people are succeeded by a barren and sandy tract, producing a few palms, the acanthus, and tamarisk; water is obtained by digging [wells] as in Gedrosia. It is inhabited by Arabian Scenitae, who breed camels. The extreme parts towards the south, and opposite to Ethiopia, are watered by summer showers, and are sowed twice, like the land in India. Its rivers are exhausted in watering plains, and by running into lakes. The general fertility of the country is very great; among other products, there is in particular an abundant supply of honey; except horses, there are numerous herds of animals, mules (asses?), and swine; birds also of every kind, except geese and the gallinaceous tribe.Four of the most populous nations inhabit the extremity of the above-mentioned country; namely, the Minaei the part towards the Red Sea, whose largest city is Carna or Cara. Next to these are the Sabaeans, whose chief city is Mariaba. The third nation are the Cattabaneis, extending to the straits and the passage across the Arabian Gulf. Their royal seat is called Tamna. The Chatramotitae are the furthest of these nations towards the east. Their city is Sabata. 17.1.29. At Heliopolis we saw large buildings in which the priests lived. For it is said that anciently this was the principal residence of the priests, who studied philosophy and astronomy. But there are no longer either such a body of persons or such pursuits. No one was pointed out to us on the spot, as presiding over these studies, but only persons who performed sacred rites, and who explained to strangers [the peculiarities of] the temples.A person of the name of Chaeremon accompanied the governor, Aelius Gallus, in his journey from Alexandreia into Egypt, and pretended to some knowledge of this kind, but he was generally ridiculed for his boasting and ignorance. The houses of the priests, and the residences of Plato and of Eudoxus, were shown to us. Eudoxus came here with Plato, and, according to some writers, lived thirteen years in the society of the priests. For the latter were distinguished for their knowledge of the heavenly bodies, but were mysterious and uncommunicative, yet after a time were prevailed upon by courtesy to acquaint them with some of the principles of their science, but the barbarians concealed the greater part of them. They had, however, communicated the knowledge of the additional portions of the day and night, in the space of 365 days, necessary to complete the annual period; and, at that time, the length of the year was unknown to the Greeks, as were many other things, until later astronomers received them from the persons who translated the records of the priests into the Greek language, and even now derive knowledge from their writings and from those of the Chaldeans.
6. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 2.91 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.91. 1. Joseph was now grown up to thirty years of age, and enjoyed great honors from the king, who called him Psothom Phanech, out of regard to his prodigious degree of wisdom; for that name denotes the revealer of secrets. He also married a wife of very high quality; for he married the daughter of Petephres, one of the priests of Heliopolis; she was a virgin, and her name was Asenath.
7. Josephus Flavius, Against Apion, 1.238, 1.250, 1.265, 1.279, 2.10, 2.49 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

1.238. But when these men were gotten into it, and found the place fit for a revolt, they appointed themselves a ruler out of the priests of Heliopolis, whose name was Osarsiph, and they took their oaths that they would be obedient to him in all things. 1.265. and for that priest who settled their polity and their laws,” he says “he was by birth of Heliopolis; and his name was Osarsiph, from Osiris, the god of Heliopolis, but that he changed his name, and called himself Moses.” 1.279. 31. It now remains that I debate with Manetho about Moses. Now the Egyptians acknowledge him to have been a wonderful, and a divine person; nay they would willingly lay claim to him themselves, though after a most abusive and incredible manner; and pretend that he was of Heliopolis, and one of the priests of that place, and was ejected out of it among the rest, on account of his leprosy; 2.49. and as for Ptolemy Philometor and his wife Cleopatra, they committed their whole kingdom to Jews, when Onias and Dositheus, both Jews, whose names are laughed at by Apion, were the generals of their whole army; but certainly instead of reproaching them, he ought to admire their actions, and return them thanks for saving Alexandria, whose citizen he pretends to be;
8. Lucan, Pharsalia, 10.117-10.120 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

9. Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 7.21, 8.32, 10.4-10.5 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

10. Statius, Siluae, 2.4.33-2.4.37 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

11. Heliodorus, Ethiopian Story, 6.3.3 (2nd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

12. Lucian, The Ship, Or The Wishes, 44 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

44. And all this I hold on no brief tenure; the limitations of human life are not for me. I shall live a thousand years, ever renewing my youth, and casting off the slough of old age every time I get to seventeen.–With these rings I shall lack nothing. All that is another's is mine: for can I not open his doors, put his guards to sleep, and walk in unperceived? Instead of sending to India or to the Hyperboreans for their curiosities, their treasures, their wines or their delicacies, I can fly thither myself, and take my fill of all. The phoenix of India, the griffin, that winged monster, are sights unknown to others: I shall see them. I alone shall know the sources of the Nile, the lands that are uninhabited, the Antipodes, if such there be, dwelling on the other side of the earth. Nay, I may learn the nature of the stars, the moon, the sun itself; for fire cannot harm me. And think of the joy of announcing the Olympian victor's name in Babylon, on the day of the contest! or of having one's breakfast in Syria, and one's dinner in Italy! Had I an enemy, I could be even with him, thanks to my invisibility, by cracking his skull with a rock; my friends, on the other hand, I might subsidize with showers of gold as they lay asleep. Have we some overweening tyrant, who insults us with his wealth? I carry him off a couple of miles or so, and drop him over the nearest precipice. I could enjoy the company of my beloved without let or hindrance, going secretly in after I had put everyone else in the house to sleep. What a thing it would be to hover overhead, out of range, and watch contending armies! If I liked, I could take the part of the vanquished, send their conquerors to sleep, rally the fugitives and give them the victory. In short, the affairs of humanity would be my diversion; all things would be in my power; mankind would account me a God. Here is the perfection of happiness, secure and indestructible, backed as it is by health and longevity. What faults have you to find, Lycinus?
13. Philostratus The Athenian, Life of Apollonius, 3.49 (2nd cent. CE

3.49. And the phoenix, he said, is the bird which visits Egypt every five hundred years, but the rest of that time it flies about in India; and it is unique in that it gives out rays of sunlight and shines with gold, in size and appearance like an eagle; and it sits upon the nest; which is made by it at the springs of the Nile out of spices. The story of the Egyptians about it, that it comes to Egypt, is testified to by the Indians also, but the latter add this touch to the story, that the phoenix which is being consumed in its nest sings funeral strains for itself. And this is also done by the swans according to the account of those who have the wit to hear them.
14. Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation For The Gospel, 9.17.8, 9.27.2 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

15. Jerome, Commentaria In Danielem, 11.14 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
anti-jewish (judaism) Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
arabia Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
astrology Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
bird/birds Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
celsus Nicklas and Spittler, Credible, Incredible: The Miraculous in the Ancient Mediterranean. (2013) 239
city/-ies (polis), city of onias Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
diaspora Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
egypt Bianchetti et al., Brill’s Companion to Ancient Geography: The Inhabited World in Greek and Roman Tradition (2015) 191
graeco-egyptian Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
graeco-roman Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
greek Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
hellenistic Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
hellenistic period Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
india Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
jewish-hellenistic literature Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
joseph & aseneth Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
lactantius Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101
libya (see also africa) Bianchetti et al., Brill’s Companion to Ancient Geography: The Inhabited World in Greek and Roman Tradition (2015) 191
light Allison, 4 Baruch (2018) 328
maccabees/maccabean Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
military Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
onias community Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
onias temple Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
osiris Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
paradise Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
parrot Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 104
peacock Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 104
phoenicia/phoenician Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101
phoenix Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298; Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
priesthood' Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
ptolemaic Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
roman, period Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
roman Piotrkowski, Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period (2019) 298
sinlessness Allison, 4 Baruch (2018) 328
sixty-six years Allison, 4 Baruch (2018) 328
stewards, faithful and unfaithful Allison, 4 Baruch (2018) 328
symbol/symbolism Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 101, 104
syria Schaaf, Animal Kingdom of Heaven: Anthropozoological Aspects in the Late Antique World (2019) 104