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We find it stated, that the oxen of India are of the height of camels, and that the extremity of their horns are four feet asunder. In our part of the world the most valuable oxen are those of Epirus, owing, it is said, to the attention paid to their breed by King Pyrrhus.1 This perfection was acquired by not permitting them to breed until after their fourth year. By these means he brought them to a very large size, and descendants of this breed are still to be seen at the present day. But in our times, we set heifers to breed in their first year, or, at the latest, in their second. Bulls are fit for breeding in their fourth year; one being sufficient, it is said, for ten cows during the whole year. If the bull, after covering, goes to the right side, the produce will be a male; if to the left, a female.2 Conception takes place after a single union; but if, by any accident, it should not have taken place, the cow seeks the male again, at the end of twenty days. She brings forth in the tenth month; whatever may be produced before that time cannot be reared. Some writers say, that the birth takes place the very day on which the tenth month is completed. This animal but rarely produces twins. The time of covering begins at the rising of the Dolphin, the day before the nones of January,3 and continues for the space of thirty days. Sometimes it takes place in the autumn; and among those nations which live upon milk, they manage so as to have a supply of it at all times of the year. Bulls never cover more than twice in the same day. The ox is the only animal that walks backwards while it is feeding; among the Garamantes, they feed in no other manner.4 The females live fifteen years at the longest, and the males twenty; they arrive at their full vigour in their fifth year. It is said that they are made fat by being washed in warm water, or by having the entrails inflated with air by means of a reed, introduced through an incision in the skin. We must not look upon those kinds as having degenerated, the appearance of which is not so favourable. Those that are bred in the Alps, although very small of body, give a great quantity of milk, and are capable of enduring much labour; they are yoked by the horns, and not by the neck. The oxen of Syria have no dewlap, but they have a hump on the back. Those of Caria also, which is in Asia, are unsightly5 in appearance, having a hump hanging over the shoulders from the neck; and their horns are moveable;6 they are said, however, to be excellent workers, though those which are either black or white are condemned as worthless for labour.7 The horns of the bull are shorter and thinner than those of the ox. Oxen must be broken in when they are three years old; after that time it is too late, and before that time too early. The ox is most easily broken in by yoking it with one that has already been trained.8 This animal is our especial companion, both in labour generally, and in the operations of agriculture. Our ancestors considered it of so much value, that there is an instance cited of a man being brought before the Roman people, on a day appointed, and condemned, for having killed an ox, in order to humour an impudent concubine of his, who said that she had never tasted tripe; and he was driven into exile, just as though he had killed one of his own peasants.9

The bull has a proud air, a stern forehead, shaggy ears, and horns which appear always ready, and challenging to the combat; but it is by his fore feet that he manifests his threatening anger. As his rage increases, he stands, lashing back his tail10 every now and then, and throwing up the sand against his belly; being the only animal that excites himself by these means. We have seen them fight at the word of command, and shown as a public spectacle; these bulls whirled about and then fell upon their horns, and at once were up again; then, at other times, they would lie upon the ground and let themselves be lifted up; they would even stand in a two-horsed chariot, while moving at a rapid rate, like so many charioteers.11 The people of Thessaly invented a method of killing bulls, by means of a man on horseback, who would ride up to them, and seize one of the horns, and so twist their neck. Cæsar the Dictator was the first person who exhibited this spectacle at Rome.

Bulls are selected as the very choicest of victims, and are offered up as the most approved sacrifice for appeasing the gods.12 Of all the animals that have long tails, this is the only one whose tail is not of proportionate length at the moment of birth; and in this animal alone it continues to grow until it reaches its heels. It is on this account, that in making choice of a calf for a victim, due care is taken that its tail reaches to the pastern joint; if it is shorter than this, the sacrifice is not deemed acceptable to the gods. This fact has also been remarked, that calves, which have been carried to the altar on men's shoulders, are not generally acceptable to the gods; and also, if they are lame, or of a species which is not appropriate,13 or if they struggle to get away from the altar. It was a not uncommon prodigy among the ancients, for an ox to speak;14 upon such a fact being announced to the senate, they were in the habit of holding a meeting in the open air.

1 This alleged superiority is mentioned by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. iii. c. 91, by Varro, B. ii. c. 5, and by Columella, B. vi. c. 1; but it is remarked by Dalechamps and Hardouin, that the appellation of Pyrrhic given to these oxen, was more probably derived from their red colour,πυῤῥὸς, than from the name of the king. The materials of this chapter are principally from the above writers, especially Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 21, and B. viii. c. 7.—B.

2 This singular notion is mentioned by Varro and Columella, ubi supra; Cuvier says, that it is the origin of the pretended secret of producing the sexes at pleasure, which was published by Millot; Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 461.—B.

3 4th January. See B. xviii. c. 64.

4 This is mentioned by Herodotus, B. iv. c. 183; this peculiarity in their mode of taking their food is ascribed to the extraordinary length of the horns; it is also mentioned by Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. xvi. c. 33.—B.

5 "Fœdi visu." This is very similar to the expression used by Virgil, Georg. B. iii., when describing the points of an ox, 1. 52,—"oui turpi caput "—"the head of which is unsightly"—probably in allusion to its large size.

6 According to Cuvier, there is an ox, in warm climates, which has a mass of fat on the shoulders, and whose horns are only attached to the skin; Buffon has described it under the name of Zebu; Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 461; Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 512.—B.

7 "Ad laborem damnantur;" with respect to the colour, Varro, B. ii. c. 5, has the following remarks: "The best colours are black, red, pale red, and white. The latter ones are the most delicate, the first the most hardy. Of the two middle ones, the first is the best, and both are more valuable than the first and last."

8 We have an account of this process in Columella, B. ii. c. 6.—B.

9 This anecdote is related by Valerius Maximus, B. viii. c. 1. Virgil, Georg. B. ii. 1. 537, speaks of the use of oxen in food, as a proof of the de- generacy of later times, and as not existing during the Golden Age; "Ante Ympia quam cœsis gens est epulata juvencis." This feeling is alluded to by. Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. xii. c. 34, and by Suetonius, Life of Domitian, c. ix.—B.

10 It is doubtful whether this is the meaning of "alternos replicans orbes," or what indeed is the meaning. Most editions omit "orbes," thus making the matter still worse.

11 Hardouin supposes that this alludes to the exhibition of oxen hunted at the exhibition of shows and in the Circus, for the gratification of the Roman people.—B.

12 Referred to by Virgil, Georg. B. ii. 11. 145, 146, "et maxima taurus Victima," "and the bull the largest victim of all."—B.

13 In reference to this remark, we may mention the passage in Virgil, Æn. B. iii. c. 119, "Taurum Neptuno, taurum tibi, pulcher Apollo." "A bull to thee, Neptune, a bull to thee, beauteous Apollo."

14 Instances are mentioned by Livy, B. xxxv. c. 21, and by Val. Maximus, B. i. c. 65.—B.

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