And as at the banquet a great many more discussions arose about each of the dishes that were served up;—But I, [p. 628] said Laurentius, according to the example of our most ex- cellent friend Ulpian, will myself also say something to you (for we are feeding on discussions). What do you think of the grouse? And when some one said,—He is a species of bird; (but it is the custom of the sons of the grammarians to say of anything that is mentioned to them in this way, It is a species of plant, a species of bird, a species of stone;) Laurentius said—And I, my good friend, am aware that the admirable Aristophanes, in his Birds, mentions the grouse in the following lines—
With the porphyrion and the pelican,But I wish to learn from you whether there is any mention of the bird in any other author. For Alexander the Myndian, in the second book of his treatise on Winged Animals, speaks of it as a bird of no great size, but rather as one of the smaller birds. For his words are these—“The grouse, a bird about the size of rook, of an earthenware colour, variegated with dirty coloured spots, and long lines, feeding on fruit; and when it lays its eggs it cackles (τετράζει). from which it derives its name (τέτραξ).” And Epicharmus, in his Hebe's Wedding, says—
And pelecinnus, and the phlexis too,
The grouse and peacock.
For when you've taken quails and sparrows too,And in another passage he says—
And larks who love to robe themselves in dust,
And grouse, and rooks, and beauteous fig-peckers.
There were the herons with their long bending necks,But since none of you have anything to say on the subject (as you are all silent), I will show you the bird itself; for when I was the Emperor's Procurator in Mysia, and the super- intendent of all the affairs of that province, I saw the bird in that country. And learning that it was called by this name among the Mysians and Pæonians, I recollected what the bird was by the description given of it by Aristophanes. And believing that this bird was considered by the all-accomplished Aristotle worthy of being mentioned in that work of his worth many talents (for it is said that the Stagirite received eight hundred talents from Alexander as his contribution towards perfecting his History of Animals), when I found that there was no mention of it in this work, I was delighted at having the [p. 629] admirable Aristophanes as an unimpeachable witness in the matter. And while he was saying this, a slave came in bringing in the grouse in a basket; but it was in size larger than the largest cock of the common poultry, and in appearance it was very like the porphyrion; and it had wattles hanging from its ears on each side like the common cock; and its voice was loud and harsh. And so after we had admired the beauty of the bird, in a short time one was served up on the table dressed; and the meat of him was like that of the ostrich, which we were often in the habit of eating.
A numerous flock; and grouse, and rooks besides.