aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Oppian, Hunting with Hounds 2.598-604

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On a recent visit to Arundel I went to this excellent bookshop and bought a few elderly Loebs. Among them was Oppian, from whose poem on hunting this description of hedgehogs comes. (Notice the pronounced use of praeteritio…)

οὐκ ἑρέω κρυερὸν γένος ὀκριόεντος ἐχίνου
μείονος· ἀμφίδυμοι γὰρ ἐχίνοις ὀξυκόμοισιν
ἀργαλέαι μορφαὶ κρυερόν τε περίδρομον ἕρκος·
οἱ μὲν γὰρ βαιοί τε καὶ οὐτιδανοὶ τελέθουσι,
τυτθῇσι φρίσσοντες ἐπὶ προβλῆσιν ἀκάνθαις·
οἱ δ’ ἄρα καὶ μεγέθει πολὺ μείζονες, ἠδ’ ἑκάτερθεν
ὀξέα πεφρίκασιν ἀρειοτέρῃσιν ἀκωκαῖς.

I shall not speak of the chilly race of the pointy hedgehog – the lesser one. For sharp-spined hedgehogs have two vexatious forms, and a chilly fence encircles them. The first sort are small and of little account, bristling with little protruding spines; the other sort are much greater in size and on either side they have more warlike prickly points. 

The Loeb note kindly points out that the two kinds of hedgehog referred to are probably the more familiar European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus and the ‘spiny mouse’, Mus acomys, found in Syria and Africa and mentioned by Aelian (581a1) as looking very similar to the hedgehog.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 6, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Oppian

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