CHAP. 60. (43.)—A SEDITION THAT AROSE AMONG THE ROMAN
PEOPLE, IN CONSEQUENCE OF A RAVEN SPEAKING.
Let us do justice, also, to the raven, whose merits have been
attested not only by the sentiments of the Roman people, but
by the strong expression, also, of their indignation. In the
reign of Tiberius, one of a brood of ravens that had bred on
the top of the temple of Castor,1
happened to fly into a shoemaker's shop that stood opposite: upon which, from a feeling
of religious veneration, it was looked upon as doubly recommended by the owner of the place. The bird, having been
taught to speak at an early age, used every morning to fly to
the Rostra, which look towards the Forum; here, addressing
each by his name, it would salute Tiberius, and then the
Germanicus and Drusus, after which it would proceed to greet the Roman populace as they passed, and then return to the shop: for several years it was remarkable for the
constancy of its attendance. The owner of another shoemaker's
shop in the neighbourhood, in a sudden fit of anger killed the
bird, enraged, as he would have had it appear, because with its
ordure it had soiled some shoes of his. Upon this, there was
such rage manifested by the multitude, that he was at once
driven from that part of the city, and soon after put to death.
The funeral, too, of the bird was celebrated with almost endless obsequies; the body was placed upon a litter carried upon
the shoulders of two Æthiopians, preceded by a piper, and
borne to the pile with garlands of every size and description.
The pile was erected on the right-hand side of the Appian
Way, at the second milestone from the City, in the field gene-
rally known as the "field of Rediculus."3
Thus did the rare
talent of a bird appear a sufficient ground to the Roman people
for honouring it with funeral obsequies, as well as for inflicting
punishment on a Roman citizen; and that, too, in a city in
which no such crowds had ever escorted the funeral of any one
out of the whole number of its distinguished men, and where
no one had been found to avenge the death of Scipio Æmilianus,4
the man who had destroyed Carthage and Numantia.
This event happened in the consulship of M. Servilius and
Caius Cestius, on the fifth day5
before the calends of April.
At the present day also, the moment that I am writing this,
there is in the city of Rome a crow which belongs to a Roman
of equestrian rank, and was brought from Bætica. In the first
place, it is remarkable6
for its colour, which is of the deepest
black, and at the same time it is able to pronounce several
connected words, while it is repeatedly learning fresh ones.
Recently, too, there has been a story told about Craterus, surnamed Monoceros,7
a country of Asia, who was
in the habit of hunting with the assistance of ravens, and used
to carry them into the woods, perched on the tuft of his helmet and on his shoulders. The birds used to keep on the watch
for game, and raise it; and by training he had brought this art
to such a pitch of perfection, that even the wild ravens would
attend him in a similar manner when he went out. Some
authors have thought the following circumstance deserving of
remembrance:—A crow that was thirsty was seen heaping
stones into the urn on a monument, in which there was some
rain-water which it could not reach: and so, being afraid to
go down to the water, by thus accumulating the stones, it
caused as much water to come within its reach as was necessary
to satisfy its thirst.