History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


Animals that are coated with tessellates- such as the lizard and the other quadrupeds, and the serpents- are omnivorous: at all events they are carnivorous and graminivorous; and serpents, by the way, are of all animals the greatest gluttons.

Tessellated animals are spare drinkers, as are also all such animals as have a spongy lung, and such a lung, scantily supplied with blood, is found in all oviparous animals. Serpents, by the by, have an insatiate appetite for wine; consequently, at times men hunt for snakes by pouring wine into saucers and putting them into the interstices of walls, and the creatures are caught when inebriated. Serpents are carnivorous, and whenever they catch an animal they extract all its juices and eject the creature whole. And, by the way, this is done by all other creatures of similar habits, as for instance the spider; only that the spider sucks out the juices of its prey outside, and the serpent does so in its belly. The serpent takes any food presented to him, eats birds and animals, and swallows eggs entire. But after taking his prey he stretches himself until he stands straight out to the very tip, and then he contracts and squeezes himself into little compass, so that the swallowed mass may pass down his outstretched body; and this action on his part is due to the tenuity and length of his gullet. Spiders and snakes can both go without food for a long time; and this remark may be verified by observation of specimens kept alive in the shops of the apothecaries.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "Book 8, Chapter 4," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBBAZC26CN9N62Y.

MLA: Aristotle. "Book 8, Chapter 4." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBBAZC26CN9N62Y.

Harvard: Aristotle, 'Book 8, Chapter 4' in History of Animals, trans. . cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBBAZC26CN9N62Y.