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The next thing to be mentioned is poultry. And since poultry was placed on the gourds and on other scraped (κνιστὰ) vegetables, (and this is what Aristophanes in his Delian Woman says of chopped up vegetables, “κνιστὰ, or pressed grapes,”) Myrtilus said,—But now, in our time, we have got into a habit of calling nothing ὄρνιθας or ὀρνίθια but pullets, of which I see a quantity now being brought round. (And Chrysippus the philosopher, in the fifth book of his Treatise on what is Honourable and Pleasant, writes thus—“As some people insist upon it that white pullets are nicer than black ones.”) And the names given to the male fowl are ἀλεκτρυόνες and ἀλεκτορίδες. But anciently, men were accustomed to use the word ὄρνις, both in the masculine and feminine gender, and to apply it to other birds, and not to this species in particular to the exclusion of others, as is now done when we speak of buying birds, and mean only poultry. Accordingly, Homer says,
And many birds (ὄρνιθες πολλοὶ) beneath the sun's bright rays.
And in another place he uses the word in the feminine gender, and says—
A tuneful bird (ὄρνιθι λιγυρῇ).
And in another place he says— [p. 588]
As the bold bird her helpless young attends,
From danger guards them, and from want defends;
In search of prey she wings the spacious air,
And with untasted food supplies her care,
again using ὄρνις in the feminine gender. But Menander in his first edition of the Heiress, uses the word plainly in the sense in which it is used at the present day; saying—
A cock had loudly crow'd—“Will no one now,”
He cried out, “drive this poultry (τὰς ὄρνιθας) from our doors”
And again, he writes—
She scarcely could the poultry (τὰς ὄρνεις) drive away.
But Cratinus, in his Nemesis, has used the form ὀρνίθιον, saying—
And all the other birds (ὀρνίθια).
And they use not only the form ὄρνιν, but also that of ὄρνιθα, in the masculine gender. The same Cratinus says in the same play—
A scarlet winged bird (ὄρνιθα φοινικόπτερον).
And again, he says—
You, then, must now become a large bird (ὄρνιθα μέγαν).
And Sophocles, in his Antenoridæ, says—
A bird (ὄρνιθα), and a crier, and a servant.
And Aeschylus, in his Cabiri, says—
I make you not a bird (ὄρνιθα) of this my journey.
And Xenophon, in the second book of his Cyropædia, says— “Going in pursuit of birds (τοὺς ὄρνιθας) in the severest winter.” And Menander, in his Twin Sisters, says—
I came laden with birds (ὄρνεις).
And immediately afterwards he has
He sends off birds (ὄρνιθας ἀποστέλλει).
And that they often used ὄρνεις as the plural form we have the evidence of Menander to prove to us: and also Alcman says somewhere or other—
The damsels all with unaccomplish'd ends
Departed; just as frighten'd birds (ὄρνεις) who see
A hostile kite which hovers o'er their heads.
And Eupolis, in his Peoples, says—
Is it not hard that I should have such sons,
When every bird (ὄρνεις) has offspring like its sire?

1 Hom. Iliad. ix. 323, Pope's translation.

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