Sheep
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Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Additional MS 42130, Folio 163v


 

Sheep

Latin name: Ovis

Other names: Brebis

The sheep is a defenseless, placid animal

 

 
General Attributes

The sheep is a defenseless, placid animal. It is covered with soft wool. Sheep gather grass in early winter before it is destroyed by frost. The ancients first offered sheep as sacrifices, rather than bulls.


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 72-75): Sheep are useful for offerings to the gods, and for their fleeces (Pliny goes into great detail on the uses and types of fleece). Male lambs are produced when the north wind is blowing, while the south wind produces females. Thunder causes pregnant sheep to miscarry if they are alone, but not if they are in a flock.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 1:9): Sheep get their name (ovis) because they were originally the offering (oblatio) of the ancients to the gods. Sheep have soft wool and weak bodies.


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