History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


To turn to quadrupeds, the pig suffers from three diseases, one of which is called branchos, a disease attended with swellings about the windpipe and the jaws. It may break out in any part of the body; very often it attacks the foot, and occasionally the ear; the neighbouring parts also soon rot, and the decay goes on until it reaches the lungs, when the animal succumbs. The disease develops with great rapidity, and the moment it sets in the animal gives up eating. The swineherds know but one way to cure it, namely, by complete excision, when they detect the first signs of the disease. There are two other diseases, which are both alike termed craurus. The one is attended with pain and heaviness in the head, and this is the commoner of the two, the other with diarrhoea. The latter is incurable, the former is treated by applying wine fomentations to the snout and rinsing the nostrils with wine. Even this disease is very hard to cure; it has been known to kill within three or four days. The animal is chiefly subject to branchos when it gets extremely fat, and when the heat has brought a good supply of figs. The treatment is to feed on mashed mulberries, to give repeated warm baths, and to lance the under part of the tongue.

Pigs with flabby flesh are subject to measles about the legs, neck, and shoulders, for the pimples develop chiefly in these parts. If the pimples are few in number the flesh is comparatively sweet, but if they be numerous it gets watery and flaccid. The symptoms of measles are obvious, for the pimples show chiefly on the under side of the tongue, and if you pluck the bristles off the chine the skin will appear suffused with blood, and further the animal will be unable to keep its hind-feet at rest. Pigs never take this disease while they are mere sucklings. The pimples may be got rid of by feeding on this kind of spelt called tiphe; and this spelt, by the way, is very good for ordinary food. The best food for rearing and fattening pigs is chickpeas and figs, but the one thing essential is to vary the food as much as possible, for this animal, like animals in general, delights in a change of diet; and it is said that one kind of food blows the animal out, that another superinduces flesh, and that another puts on fat, and that acorns, though liked by the animal, render the flesh flaccid. Besides, if a sow eats acorns in great quantities, it will miscarry, as is also the case with the ewe; and, indeed, the miscarriage is more certain in the case of the sow. The pig is the only animal known to be subject to measles.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "Book 8, Chapter 21," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=947KH3RIT9FPJY8.

MLA: Aristotle. "Book 8, Chapter 21." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=947KH3RIT9FPJY8.

Harvard: Aristotle, 'Book 8, Chapter 21' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=947KH3RIT9FPJY8.