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It is a well-known fact,1 that one of these animals, who was slower than usual in learning what was taught him, and had been frequently chastised with blows, was found conning over his lesson in the night-time.2 It is a most surprising thing also, that the elephant is able not only to walk up the tight-rope backwards; but to come down it as well, with the head foremost.3 Mutianus, who was three times consul, informs us that one of these animals had been taught to trace the Greek letters, and that he used to write in that language the following words: "I have myself written these words, and have dedicated the Celtic spoils."4 Mutianus states also, that he himself was witness to the fact, that when some elephants were being landed at Puteoli5 and were compelled to leave the ship, being terrified at the length of the platform, which extended from the vessel to the shore, they walked backwards, in order to deceive themselves by forming a false estimate of the distance.

1 Plutarch, in his treatise on the Shrewdness of Animals, tells us that this wonderful circumstance happened at Rome.

2 "Eadem illa meditantem," is the expression. It would be curious to know in what way the elephant showed that he was "conning" over his lesson.

3 Suetonius is supposed to allude to this circumstance.—B. He tells us that a horseman ascended a tight rope on an elephant's back.

4 Ælian informs us, that he had seen an elephant write Latin characters. Hardouin remarks, that the Greek would be αὐτὸς ἐγὼ τάδ᾽ ἔγραψα, λαφυρά τε κελτ᾽ ἀνέθηκα.

5 See B. iii. c. 9.

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