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CHAP. 34. (24.)—SWALLOWS.

The swallow, the only bird that is carnivorous among those which have not hooked talons, takes its departure also during the winter months; but it only goes to neighbouring countries, seeking sunny retreats there on the mountain sides; sometimes they have been found in such spots bare and quite unfledged. This bird, it is said, will not enter a house in Thebes, because that city has been captured so frequently; nor will it approach the country of the Bizyæ, on account of the crimes committed there by Tereus.1 Cæcina2 of Volaterræ, a member of the equestrian order, and the owner of several chariots, used to have swallows caught, and then carried them with him to Rome. Upon gaining a victory, he would send the news by them to his friends; for after staining them the colour3 of the party that had gained the day, he would let them go, immediately upon which they would make their way to the nests they had previously occupied. Fabius Pictor also relates, in his Annals, that when a Roman garrison was being besieged by the Ligurians, a swallow which had been taken from its young ones was brought to him, inorder that he might give them notice, by the number of knots on a string tied to its leg, on what day succour would arrive, and a sortie might be made with advantage.

1 See B. iv. c. 18.

2 A friend of Augustus, sent by him with proposals to Antony, B.C. 41.

3 The colour of the "factio," or "party" of charioteers. See p. 217.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), AUGUR
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