The next thing to be mentioned is the peacock. And that this is a rare bird is shown by what Antiphanes says in his Soldier, or Tychon, where his words are—
And then some man brought in one single pairAnd Eubulus says in his Phœnix—
Of peacocks to the city; 'twas a sight
Wondrous to see; now they're as thick as quails.
The peacock is admired for his rarity.“The peacock,” says Aristotle, “is cloven-footed, and feeds on herbage; it begins to breed when it is three years old, at which age it also gets the rich and varied colours of its plumage; and it sits on its eggs about thirty days, and once a-year it lays twelve eggs, and it lays these not all at once, but at intervals, laying every third day. But the first year of a hen's laying she does not lay more than eight eggs; and she sometimes lays wind eggs like the common hen, but never more than two; and she sits upon her eggs and hatches them very much in the same way as the common hen does.” And Eupolis, in his Deserters from the Army, speaks of the peacock in the following terms—
Lest I should keep in Pluto's realm,And there is a speech extant, by Antiphanes the orator, which is entitled, On Peacocks. And in that speech there is not one express mention of the name peacock, but he repeatedly speaks of them in it as birds of variegated plumage, saying— “That Demus, the son of Pyrilampes, breeds these birds, and that out of a desire to see these birds, a great many people come from Lacedæmon and from Thessaly, and show great anxiety to get some of the eggs.” And with respect to their appearance he writes thus—“If any one wishes to remove these birds into a city, they will fly away and depart; and if he cuts their wings he takes away their beauty. For their wings are their beauty, and not their body.” And that people used to be very anxious to see them he tells us subsequently in the same book, where he says; “But at the time of the festival of the new moon, any one who likes is admitted to see them, but on other days if any one comes and wishes to see them he is never allowed to do so; and this is not a [p. 627] custom of yesterday, or a recent practice, but one which has subsisted for more than thirty years.”
A peacock such as this, who wakes the sleepers.