History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


Of all wild animals the most easily tamed and the gentlest is the elephant. It can be taught a number of tricks, the drift and meaning of which it understands; as, for instance, it can be taught to kneel in presence of the king. It is very sensitive, and possessed of an intelligence superior to that of other animals. When the male has had sexual union with the female, and the female has conceived, the male has no further intercourse with her.

Some say that the elephant lives for two hundred years; others, for one hundred and twenty; that the female lives nearly as long as the male; that they reach their prime about the age of sixty, and that they are sensitive to inclement weather and frost. The elephant is found by the banks of rivers, but he is not a river animal; he can make his way through water, as long as the tip of his trunk can be above the surface, for he blows with his trunk and breathes through it. The animal is a poor swimmer owing to the heavy weight of his body.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "46," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed February 27, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SSLVUPBMTPMBHJ.

MLA: Aristotle. "46." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 27 Feb. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SSLVUPBMTPMBHJ.

Harvard: Aristotle, '46' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 27 February 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SSLVUPBMTPMBHJ.