Bird of Pomp and Vocabulary

The following is excerpted from Natural History, by Pliny the Elder of Rome, born 23 AD in what is now Northern Italy:

Let our thanks be given to the raven as it is due. During the principate of Tiberius a young raven, from a brood hatched on top of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, flew down to a shoemaker’s shop nearby, where it was welcome to the owner because of religious considerations. It soon learnt how to talk, and every morning flew to the Rastra facing the forum and greeted Tiberius by name, then Germanicus and Drusus Caesar, and, after that, the people of Rome as they passed by; finally it returned to the shop. The raven was remarkable in that it performed this duty for several years.

The tenant of the next shoemaker’s shop killed the bird, either out of rivalry or in a sudden fit of anger because he claimed that some droppings had spotted his shoes.  This aroused such an uproar among the general public that the man was driven out of the district and subsequently lynched, while the bird’s funeral was celebrated with great pomp.

One thought on “Bird of Pomp and Vocabulary

  1. Okay this is funny. When I opened this crow post on my iPhone an ad banner ran across the top: low cost, high quality bird control. Bird-B-Gone. Really. Probably not good product placement, on a site for crow officianados.

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