AFTER the former discourse, mention was made of those sheep that wolves have bitten; for it is commonly said of them, that their flesh is very sweet, and their wool breeds lice. Our relation Patroclias seemed to be pretty happy in his reasoning upon the first part, saying, that the beast by biting it did mollify the flesh; for wolves' spirits are so hot and fiery, that they soften and digest the hardest bones; and for the same reason things bitten by wolves rot sooner than others. But concerning the wool we could not agree, being not fully resolved whether it breeds those lice, or only opens a passage for them, separating the flesh by its fretting roughness or proper warmth; and it seemed that this power proceeded from the bite of the wolf, which alters even the very hair of the creature that it kills. And this some particular instances seem to confirm; for we know some huntsmen and cooks will kill a beast with one stroke, so that it never breathes after, whilst others repeat their blows, and scarce do it with a great deal of trouble. But (what is more strange) some, as they kill it, infuse such a quality that the flesh rots presently and cannot be kept sweet above a day; yet others that despatch it as [p. 255] soon find no such alteration, but the flesh will keep sweet a long while. And that by the manner of killing a great alteration is made even in the skins, nails, and hair of a beast, Homer seems to witness, when, speaking of a good hide, he says,
An ox's hide that fell by violent blows;1for those that fell not by a disease or old age, but by a violent death, leave us tough and strong hides; but when they are bitten by wild beasts, their hoofs grow black, their hair falls, their skins putrefy and are good for nothing.