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Many thanks, too, do we owe to the sheep, both for appeasing the gods, and for giving us the use of its fleece. As oxen cultivate the fields which yield food for man, so to sheep are we indebted for the defence of our bodies. The generative power lasts in both sexes from the second to the ninth year, sometimes to the tenth.2 The lambs produced at the first birth are but small. The season for coupling, in all of them, is from the setting of Arcturus, that is to say, the third day before the ides of May,3 to the setting of Aquila, the tenth day before the calends of August.4 The period of gestation is one hundred and fifty days. The lambs that are produced after this time are feeble; the ancients called those that were born after it, cordi.5 Many persons prefer the lambs that are born in the winter to those of the spring, because it is of much more consequence that they should have gained strength before the summer solstice than before the winter one; consequently, the sheep is the only animal that is bene- fitted by being born in the middle of winter. It is the nature of the ram to reject the young and prefer the old ones, and he himself is more serviceable when old,6 and when deprived of his horns.7 He is also rendered less violent by having one horn pierced towards the ear. If the right testicle is tied up, the ram will generate females, and if the left, males.8 The noise of thunder produces abortion in sheep, if they are left alone; to prevent such accidents, they are brought together into flocks, that they may be rendered less timid by being in company. When the north-east wind blows, males are said to be conceived; and when the south wind, females. In this kind of animal, the mouth of the ram is especially looked to, for whatever may be the colour of the veins under the tongue, the wool of the young one will be of a similar colour.9 If these veins are many in number, it will be mottled. Any change, too, in their water or drink, will render them mottled.10

There are two principal kinds of sheep, the covered11 and the colonic,12 or common sheep; the former is the more tender animal, but the latter is more nice about its pastures, for the covered sheep will feed on brambles even. The best coverings for sheep are brought from Arabia.13

1 The contents of this Chapter appear to be principally from Varro, B. ii. cc. 1, 2, and Columella, B. vii. cc. 2, 3, 4.—B.

2 This account is probably from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 14; B. vi. c. 19; and B. ix. c. 3, where we have various particulars respecting the production and mode of life of the sheep.—B.

3 13th May.

4 23rd July.

5 Varro, ubi supra, gives a somewhat different account: "Those lambs are called 'cordi,' which are born after their time, and have remained in the womb, called χορίον from which they take that name."—B.

6 The expression "senecta melior," here employed, is limited by Colu- mella, ubi supra, to the third year.—B.

7 Columella, B. vii. c. 8, remarks, "When deprived of his horns he knows himself to be disarmed, as it were, and is not so ready to quarrel and is less vehement in his passion."

8 Columella, B. vii. c. 23, refers to this practice; he informs us, B. vi, c. 28, that it is practised with respect to the horse. It is also referred to by Aristotle, De Gen. Anim. B. iv. c. 1.—B.

9 For this we have the authority of Aristotle, ubi supra, and of Columella, ubi supra, who quotes from Virgil in support of it, Geor. B. iii. 1. 387, et seq.—B. "Although the-ram be white himself, if there is a black tongue beneath the palate, reject him, that he may not tinge the fleece of the young with black spots."

10 Varro, B. ii. c. 2, remarks, "While the coupling is taking place, you must use the same water; for if it is changed, it will render the wool spotted, and injure the womb."

11 "Tectæ." The context shows that this means covered with skins or a woollen girth, probably on account of their delicate nature, while the common sheep of husbandry, or the "colonic" sheep, were able to endure the rigour of the weather without any such protection.

12 The words are tectun and colonicum; Columella, B. vii. c. 4, uses the terms molle and hirsutum, and Varro, B. ii. c. 2, pellitum and hirtum. The first obtained its name from its being covered with skins, to protect its delicate fleece. The colonic is so called, from "colonus," a "husbandman," this kind being so common as to be found in any village; whereas the tectæ were rare.

13 We have some account of the Arabian sheep in Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. x. c. 4.—B. Columella says, that the wool which was brought over to make these coverings, was only to be obtained at a very great price.

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