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The first person who invented aviaries for the reception of all kinds of birds was M. Lænius Strabo, a member of the equestrian order, who resided at Brundisium. It was in his time that we thus began to imprison animals to which Nature had assigned the heavens as their element.

(51.) But more remarkable than anything in this respect, is the story of the dish of Clodius Æsopus,1 the tragic actor, which was valued at one hundred thousand sesterces, and in which were served up nothing but birds that had been remarkable for their song, or their imitation of the human voice, and purchased, each of them, at the price of six thousand sesterces; he being induced to this folly by no other pleasure than that in these he might eat the closest imitators of man; never for a moment reflecting that his own immense fortune had been acquired by the advantages of his voice; a parent, indeed, right worthy of the son of whom we have already made mention,2 as swallowing pearls. It would not, to say the truth, be very easy to come to a conclusion which of the two was guilty of the greatest baseness; unless, indeed, we are ready to admit that it was less unseemly to banquet upon the most costly of all the productions of Nature, than to devour3 tongues which had given utterance to the language of man.

1 Valerius Maximus, B. ix. c. 1, tells this story of the profligate son of Æsopus.

2 B. ix. c. 59.

3 "Hominum linguas," Pliny says; a singularly inappropriate expression, it would appear.

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