History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


The molluscs also breed in spring. Of the marine molluscs one of the first to breed is the sepia. It spawns at all times of the day and its period of gestation is fifteen days. After the female has laid her eggs, the male comes and discharges the milt over the eggs, and the eggs thereupon harden. And the two sexes of this animal go about in pairs, side by side; and the male is more mottled and more black on the back than the female.

The octopus pairs in winter and breeds in spring, lying hidden for about two months. Its spawn is shaped like a vine-tendril, and resembles the fruit of the white poplar; the creature is extraordinarily prolific, for the number of individuals that come from the spawn is something incalculable. The male differs from the female in the fact that its head is longer, and that the organ called by the fishermen its penis, in the tentacle, is white. The female, after laying her eggs, broods over them, and in consequence gets out of condition, by reason of not going in quest of food during the hatching period.

The purple murex breeds about spring-time, and the ceryx at the close of the winter. And, as a general rule, the testaceans are found to be furnished with their so-called eggs in spring-time and in autumn, with the exception of the edible urchin; for this animal has the so-called eggs in most abundance in these seasons, but at no season is unfurnished with them; and it is furnished with them in especial abundance in warm weather or when a full moon is in the sky. Only, by the way, these remarks do not apply to the sea-urchin found in the Pyrrhaean Straits, for this urchin is at its best for table purposes in the winter; and these urchins are small but full of eggs.

Snails are found by observations to become in all cases impregnated about the same season.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "12," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed March 29, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJW5Z15M71DSZUU.

MLA: Aristotle. "12." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 29 Mar. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJW5Z15M71DSZUU.

Harvard: Aristotle, '12' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 29 March 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJW5Z15M71DSZUU.