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6.

The trappings of hounds are collars, leashes, and surcingles. The collars should be soft and broad, so as not to chafe the hounds' coat. The leashes should have a noose for the hand, and nothing else; for if the collar is made in one piece with the leash, perfect control of the hounds is impossible. The straps of the surcingles should be broad, so as not to rub the flanks, and they should have little spurs sewed on to them, to keep the breed pure. [2]

Hounds should not be taken out hunting when off their feed, since this is a proof that they are ailing; nor when a strong wind is blowing, since it scatters the scent and they cannot smell, and the purse-nets will not stand in position, nor the hayes. [3] But when neither of these hindrances prevents, have the hounds out every other day. Do not let them take to pursuing foxes; for it is utter ruin, and they are never at hand when wanted. [4] Vary the hunting-ground frequently, so that the hounds may be familiar with the hunting-grounds and the master with the country. Start early, and so give the hounds a fair chance of following the scent. A late start robs the hounds of the find and the hunters of the prize; for the scent is by its nature too thin to last all day. [5]

Let the net-keeper wear light clothing when he goes hunting. Let him set up the purse-nets in winding, rough, steep, narrow, shady paths, brooks, ravines, running watercourses (these are the places in which the hare is most apt to take refuge: a list of all the others would be endless), leaving [6] unobstructed and narrow passages to and through these places, just about daybreak, and not too early, so that in case the line of nets be near the growth to be searched, the hare may not be frightened by hearing the noise close by (if the distance is considerable, it matters less if the work is done early), seeing that the nets stand clear so that nothing may cling to them.1 [7] He must fix the stakes asland,2 so that when pulled they may stand the strain. On the tops of them let him put an equal number of meshes,3 and set the props4 uniformly, raising the purse towards the centre. [8] To the cord5 let him attach a long, big stone, so that the net may not pull away when the hare is inside. Let him make his line long and high,6 so that the hare may not jump over.

When it comes to tracking the hare, he must not be too zealous. To do everything possible to effect a quick capture shows perseverance, but is not hunting.7 [9]

Let him stretch the hayes on level ground and put the road-nets8 in roads and from game tracks into the adjacent ground, fastening down the (lower) cords to the ground, joining the elbows, fixing the stakes between the selvedges,9 putting the ends on the top of the stakes and stopping the byways. [10] Let him mount guard, going round the nets. If a purse-net is pulling its stake out of line, let him put it up. When the hare is being chased into the purse-nets he must run forward and shout as he runs after her. When she is in, he must calm the excitement of the hounds, soothing without touching them. He must also shout to the huntsman and let him know that the hare is caught, or that she has run past on this or that side, or that he has not seen her, or where he caught sight of her. [11]

Let the huntsman go out to the hunting ground in a simple light dress and shoes, carrying a cudgel in his hand, and let the net-keeper follow. Let them keep silence while approaching the ground, so that, in case the hare is near, she may not move off on hearing voices. [12] Having tied the hounds separately to the trees so that they can easily be slipped, let him set up the purse-nets and hayes10 in the manner described. After this let the net-keeper keep guard, and let the huntsman take the hounds and go to the place in the hunting ground where the hare may be lurking; and after [13] registering a vow to Apollo and Artemis the Huntress to give them a share of the spoil, let him loose one hound, the cleverest at following a track, at sunrise in winter, before dawn in summer, and some time between at other seasons. [14] As soon as the hound picks up a line from the network of tracks that leads straight ahead, let him slip another. If the track goes on, let him set the others going one by one at short intervals, and follow without pressing them, accosting each by name, but not often, that they may not get excited too soon. [15] They will go forward full of joy and ardour, disentangling the various tracks, double or triple—springing forward now beside, now across the same ones—tracks interlaced or circular, straight or crooked, close or scattered, clear or obscure, running past one another with tails wagging, ears dropped and eyes flashing. [16] As soon as they are near the hare they will let the huntsman know by the quivering of the whole body as well as the tail, by making fierce rushes, by racing past one another, by scampering along together persistently, massing quickly, breaking up and again rushing forward. At length they will reach the hare's form and will go for her. [17] She will start up suddenly, and will leave the hounds barking and baying behind her as she makes off. Let the huntsman shout at her as she runs, “Now, hounds, now! Well done! Bravo, hounds! Well done, hounds!” Wrapping his cloak round his arm and seizing his cudgel he must follow up behind the hare and not try to head her off, since that is useless. [18] The hare, making off, though out of sight, generally doubles back to the place where she is found. Let him call out11 to the man, “Hit her, boy; hit her, hit her!” and the man must let him know whether she is caught or not.

If she is caught in the first run, let him call in the hounds and look for another. But if not, he must follow up at top speed and not let her go, but stick to it persistently. [19] If the hounds come on her again in the pursuit, let him cry, “Good, good, hounds; after her, hounds!” If they have got so far ahead of him that he cannot overtake them by following up and is quite out of the running, or if he cannot see them though they are moving about somewhere near or sticking to the tracks, let him find out by shouting as he runs past to anyone near, “Hullo! have you seen the hounds?” [20] As soon as he has found out, let him stand near if they are on the track, and cheer them on, running through the hounds' names, using all the variations of tone he can produce, pitching his voice high and low, soft and loud. Amongst other calls, if the chase is in the mountains, let him sing out, “Oho, hounds, oho!”12 If they are not clinging to the track, but are over-running, let him call them in with, “Back, hounds, back with you!” [21] As soon as they are close on the tracks, let him cast them round,13 making many circles, and wherever they find the track dim, let him stick a pole in the ground as a mark, and beginning from this mark keep them together until they clearly recognise the track, encouraging and coaxing them. [22] As soon as the track is clear they will be off in hot pursuit, hurling themselves on it, jumping beside it, working together, guessing, signalling to one another and setting bounds for one another that they can recognise. When they are thus scurrying in a bunch along the track, let him follow up without pressing them, or they may over-run the line through excess of zeal. [23]

As soon as they are near the hare and give the huntsman clear evidence of the fact, let him take care, or in her terror of the hounds she will slip away and be off. The hounds, wagging their tails, colliding and frequently jumping over one another, and baying loudly, with heads uplifted and glances at the huntsman, showing him plainly that they have the real thing now, will rouse the hare for themselves and go for her, giving tongue. [24] If she plunges into the purse-nets or bolts past them on the inside or outside, the net-keeper must in each event make it known by shouting. If she is caught, look for another; if not, continue the pursuit, using the same methods of encouragement. [25]

As soon as the hounds are getting tired of pursuing and the day is far advanced, it is time for the huntsman to search for the hare, worn out as she is, passing over nothing growing or lying on the ground, retracing his steps continually for fear of an oversight—since the animal rests in a small space and is too tired and frightened to get up,—bringing the hounds along, encouraging and exhorting the gentle frequently, the wilful sparingly, the average sort in moderation, until he kills her in a fair run or drives her into the purse-nets. [26]

After this take up the purse-nets and14 hayes, rub down the hounds and leave the hunting-ground, after waiting, if it be an afternoon in summer, in order that the hounds' feet may not be overheated on the road.


1 This portentous sentence is a literal presentation of the Greek text, which, however, is rather uncertain. If the nets are fixed near the covert before daybreak, the hare is likely to stir at the noise. After daybreak she will not stir.

2 i.e., sloping towards the side from which the hare will come. The nets, of course, hang on the other side of the stakes.

3 If ἴσους means “equal in number,” more than one mesh is to be put in the groove of each stake, so that the top of the row of nets will be puckered. Perhaps, however, “level in height” is the sense.

4 Small sticks were used for propping up the purse on the inside, and the purse was propped higher towards the middle; it ended in a point, so that it resembled the net on a woman's head.

5 See 2.4. The stone serves as an anchor when the net falls off the stakes.

6 The stakes must not be too deep in the ground, or the nets will not be high enough.

7 These remarks read like an afterthought.

8 The hayes and purse-nets seem to be connected in the same series; but the road-nets seem to be independent screens.

9 We are to think of a series of nets joined together. These stakes will be inserted in the top and bottom line of meshes. The selvedge runs along the top and bottom of the net.

10 Neither here nor in 26 is there any reference to the road-nets. It is impossible to suggest a reason for this, and perhaps the necessary words have dropped out in both places, as might easily happen.

11 i.e., at the moment when the hare, making for the place where she was found, comes near the nets. Something is amiss with the text here. The “man” is, of course, the net-keeper. He, too, has a cudgel, but the author has not said so.

12 Imitating the call of the Bacchic revellers, “the Hounds of Madness,” on Mount Cithaeron.

13 Nowadays hounds are left to make their own cast and are only assisted when they fail to recover the line.

14 Where are the road-nets?

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