But if the before-mentioned king had seen the number of peacocks also which exists at Rome, he would have fled to his sacred Senate, as though he had a second time been [p. 1047] driven out of his kingdom by his brother. For the multitude of these birds is so great at Rome, that Antiphanes the comic poet, in his Soldier or Tychon, may seem to have been inspired by the spirit of prophecy, when he said—
When the first man imported to this cityAnd Alexis, in his Lamp, says—
A pair of peacocks, they were thought a rarity,
But now they are more numerous than quails;
So, if by searching you find one good man,
He will be sure to have five worthless sons.
That he should have devour'd so vast a sum!And that they used to keep them tame in their houses, we learn from Strattis, in his Pausanias, where he says—
Why if (by earth I swear) I fed on hares' milk
And peacocks, I could never spend so much.
Of equal value with your many trifles,And Anaxandrides, in his Melilotus, says—
And peacocks, which you breed up for their feathers.
Is 't not a mad idea to breed up peacocks,And Anaxilaus, in his Bird Feeders, says—
When every one can buy his private ornaments?
Besides all this, tame peacocks, loudly croaking.Menodotus the Samian also, in his treatise on the Treasures in the Temple of the Samian Juno, says: “The peacocks are sacred to Juno; and perhaps Samos may be the place where they were first produced and reared, and from thence it was that they were scattered abroad over foreign countries, in the same way as cocks were originally produced in Persia, and the birds called guinea-fowl (μελεαγρίδες) in Aeolia.” On which account Antiphanes, in his Brothers by the same Father, says—
They say that in the city of the SunOn which account the peacock occurs on the coins of the Samians.
The phœnix is produced; the owl in Athens;
Cyprus breeds doves of admirable beauty:
But Juno, queen of Samos, does, they say,
Rear there a golden race of wondrous birds,
The brilliant, beautiful, conspicuous peacock.