Sources : Pig (Domestic)

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 6, 18.1-2): [Book 6, 18.1] The period of gestation in domestic swine is four months. They never produce more than twenty pigs; and if they have many, they cannot bring them all up. When aged, they produce in the same manner, but they copulate more slowly. They become pregnant with one act of coition; but they submit themselves to the boar very frequently, on account of their rejection of the capria after they are pregnant. This takes place in all, but some will also eject the semen. [Book 6, 18.2] If any of the pigs are injured or deteriorated during pregnancy, it is called metachaeron. This may take place in any part of the uterus. In parturition the sow gives the first teat to the first pig. It is not necessary that she should go to the boar as soon as the sexual appetite is felt, or before her ears begin to hang down; for otherwise she desires to go again. If she goes to the boar when she is desirous of it, the impregnation is complete in a single act of intercourse. Barley is a proper food for the boar at the period of coition. It should be cooked for the female after parturition. Some sows produce excellent pigs from the first; others do not produce good offspring and pigs till they are grown up. Some persons say that if one of the eyes of a sow is put out, she generally speaking dies very soon. Most of them live fifteen. Some die in less than twenty years. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 77): Swine are allowed to breed from the beginning of spring to the vernal equinox, beginning at seven months old and in some places even at three months, and continuing to their eighth year. Sows bear twice a year, carrying their pigs four months: litters number up to 20, but sows cannot rear so many. Nigidius states that for ten days at midwinter pigs are born with the teeth already grown. Sows are impregnated by one coupling, which is also repeated because they are so liable to abortion; the remedy is not to allow coupling at the first heat or before the ears are pendulous. Hogs cannot serve when over three years old. Sows exhausted by age couple lying down; it is nothing out of the way for them to eat their litter. A pig is suitable for sacrifice four days after birth, a lamb in a week and a calf in a month. Coruncanius asserted that ruminant animals are not acceptable as victims before they grow their front teeth. It is thought that a sow that loses an eye soon dies, but that otherwise sows live to fifteen and in some cases even twenty years; but they become savage, and in any case the breed is liable to diseases, especially quinsy and scrofula. Symptoms of bad health in a sow are when blood is found on the root of a bristle pulled out of its back and when it holds its head on one side in walking. If too fat they experience lack of milk; and they have a smaller number of pigs in their first litter. The breed likes wallowing in mud. The tail is curly; also it has been noticed that it is easier to kill them for sacrifice when the tail curls to the right than when to the left. They take 60 days to fatten, but fatten better if feeding up is preceded by three days' fast. The pig is the most brutish of animals, and there used to be a not unattractive idea that its soul was given it to serve as salt. - [Rackham translation]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 1.25-26): [Book 12, 1.25] The sow [sus] is so called because she roots up [subigere] feeding grounds, that is, she searches for food by rooting the earth up. The boar [verres], because he has great strength [vis, vires]. The pig [porcus] as if the name were 'unclean' [spurcus], for he gorges himself on filth, immerses himself in mud, and smears himself with slime. Horace [Epistles 1.2.26] says: And the sow, a friend to mud. Hence also'‘uncleanness' [spurcitia] or 'illegitimate children' [spurius] are named. [Book 12, 1.26] The hairs of pigs are called bristles, and bristles [seta] are named from the sow [sus]. From these we also name 'shoemakers' [sutor], because they sew [suere], that is, stitch together, leather with bristles. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.4): The domestic pig, as the Liber rerum says, is both a clean and unclean animal, which dwells most agreeably in obscene and muddy places, and does not suffer long, when it has been washed, to wallow again and again in such places. Among domestic boars, one always dominates the others by his strength, because if a stronger one comes to him, he tries to fight his predecessor and tries to obtain the victory by strength, nor does the conqueror delay in defeating the vanquished, and dominates the rest. At the squeal of one the whole herd of pigs is animated to a frenzy, running from every direction. It is dangerous to get them angry. Males do not breed beyond three months. They castrate the male with his mane cut off so they they grow fat faster. With the loss of one eye the pig dies sooner. The life span of pigs, as Aristotle says, is 15 years. Pigs are afflicted with a weakness which is called brancos and it frequently occurs in their ears, or in their feet, or in their tails, or in some other part of the body, though it is rare. From that illness, therefore, the flesh that is in the place is corrupted, and the corruption gradually passes to the neighboring flesh, until, through the inflation of some vein, it reaches the lungs, and then the pig dies. And this illness is quickly increased. But the shepherds, knowing this disease, must immediately cut off the affected limb. This infirmity frequently occurs when the heat is great. Also Aristotle: The flow of the stomach is not remedied in it. The domestic pig is affected more quickly than other animals; but a wild pig within six days. A fourth part of the pig's food passes into hair, and blood, and the like. When a pig gives birth, it withers. A male pig breeds for up to three years, starting at seven months, but at such a tender age it produces weak fruits. A pig conceives for 15 years. A male pig has the power to copulate before other animals, if he is fat. When a sow has given birth, she gives her first teat to her first child. Pig meat in the summer after the spring season is noxious to eat until after the autumnal equinox, because in the hot season the pig sleeps more than its nature deserves. For an excess of sleep works corruption. At that time sleep sets in, and the pig is especially weak, so that unless it is awakened in the meantime, it will die as if in a lethargic sleep. When the Moon is waning to its last declination, the brain in the pig tends to decrease more than in any other animal, and this to such an extent that it remains a small part of the body. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.86; 18.98): [Book 18.86] The Swine is called Porcus, as it were Spurcus, vile & defiled, as Isid[ore] saith, li. 12. for he sroteth and walloweth in durt and in fen, and diveth in slime, and fouleth himselfe therewith, and resteth in a stinking place. Horatius sayth, that a Sowe is friend to fen & to myrye places: and therfore Swine be accounted foule and uncleanly, and we call the bristice of Swine Setas in latine, and Shoomakers call them Bristles, & sow therewith, as he saith: and some swine be tame, & some wild. And among the tame, the males be called Boares & Barowes: and be called Verres in latine: for they have great might and strength, & the females be called Sowes, & Sues in Latine: for they digge and wrote & séeke meate under earth. And the wild male Swine bée called Bores, Apri in latine, as it were fierce, as Isidore saith, lib. 8. cap. 51. Plinius speaketh of Swine and sayeth, that they be farrowed toothed, and the males gender not passing thrée yéere, a Swine dieth, if he léeseth an eie: and a swine may live .15. yeares, or 20. yeres. And Swine have many sicknesses, & hold their heads aside: and when they be sicke, they wallowe in fenne and in puddles, and lye more on the right side then on the lefte side, and waxe fat in fortye dayes, and fat sooner if they suffer hunger thrée daies in the beginning of the féeding. Swine love each other, and knowe each others voice: and therefore if any crie, they cry all, and labour to helpe each other with all their might. Tame Swine knowe their owne houses and home, and learne to come therto without guide and loadsman, as hée sayth, and grunt in going and in lieng and in sléeping, and namely if they be right fat. And Swine sléepe faster in May then in othertimes of the yere, and that commeth of fumosity that stoppeth their braine that time: And in Summer though there be great resolution of humours, there is greate wasting thereof and drieng by passing heat of the Summer: and there is no great generation of fumositie yt is cause of sléepe: and therefore they sleepe not in Summer, as they doe in springing time, as Avicen[na] sayth. In Harvest and in Winter humours be sad and fastened togethers by coldnesse of the aire, & compasseeth them without. And therfore few fumosities be resolved in that time for passing cold that fastneth the humours in the body, as hée sayth libro secundo, Aristotle sayeth of Swine, that Swine chaunge not theyr téeth, & the male hath more téeth then the female. Also libro. 3. Aristotle sayth, that the Boare leapeth on a Sow after eight moneths, and the Sowe farroweth after one yeare, and what the Boare gendereth within the first yeare, it is full féeble. Also the Boare hath no usage, that if he gendereth first with one Sow, then his pigges of the second Sowe be fewer in number, & lesse of body: when a young Sow farroweth first, her pigs shall have but small bodyes: & if the Sow bée right fat, her milke is the more scarce after the farrowing: and pigges that bée farrowed in Winter be best, and they that bée farrowed in Summer be worst: and those that be gendered in youth, bée better then those that be gendered in age. And the Boare when he is fat, may gender in everye time of the day, and of the night, and namelye earely in the morow tide. And libro. 6. When a Sow farroweth, shée giveth her first pigge the first teate: and when she desireth the déede of lecherie, she suffereth not the male to leap uppon her, untill her eares hang downeward. And Barly is full good meate for Swine, when they shall gender, & namely if it be sodden. Also lib. 6. Swine have thrée manner evills, one is called Brancos, & is a postume in the eare and in the jawe, & oft in the féet, and the flesh about that place is corrupt, and the corruption passeth some and some into the flesh that is nigh thereto untill it come to the lungs, and stuffeth then the spirit, & the Swine dieth, and this evill increaseth sodeinly. And Swine heards, when they know first this evil, cutteth off his member, in yt which this evill is in: and may not be healed without cutting. And swine have another evill, that is ach and heavinesse of head, and of this evill the most part of Swine die. Another disease that they have, is fluxe of the wombe, & hath unneth any remedy, for it slaieth in thrée daies. And when Swine be great, it doth them good to eate Beryes: and also bathing in hot water delighteth them. And they be let bloud in the veine under the tongue. Also divers meat fatteth Swine, and some meate maketh them to swell, & some gendereth flesh, and some greace & fatnesse. And hogs both male and female have liking to eate akornes: for it tempereth their flesh, but and Sowes eate much thereof, it maketh them cast theyr pigges, as it maketh sheepe cast theyr lambs. And many other things Aristotle telleth of them. Looke before de Apro, & looke after de Sue. [Book 18.98] A Sow is called Sus, and hath ye name of Subigendo, under wroting & digging, for she routeth, & diggeth the earth to get her meate & foode, & overturneth & wrouteth, that shée may come with the teeth to moores & roots. And Plinius saith li. 8. cap. 51. that the young Sow conceiveth against the evennesse of the day and night in springing time, and sarroweth sometime 20. pigs at once, but she may not reare them nor bring them up, and eateth all sometime, except the first. For she loveth him best that co¯meth out first of her wombe, for he is most kindlye to her. And shée giveth him alwaye the first seat, as Plinius sayth. Solinus and Aristotle li. 6. meane, that the sow is an uncleane beast, & a right greate glutton, and she eateth & devoureth gluttonously all manner stinking things & uncleane, and covereth and desireth baths, fennes, and puddles, and re••eth hir selfe therin, & waxeth fat. And Aristotle saith lib. 7. she waxeth fat, and namely in resting. And the seventh part of her meat turneth into haire and bloud, and into other such. And the Sow waxeth leane after yt she hath farrowed, for the meat that she eateth turneth into milke, by the which her pigs bee nourished and fed, and the Sowe waxeth fierce and cruell, when she hath Pigges, and fighteth and putteth her selfe in peryll for her Pigges agaynst the Woulfe. Looke the other properties of this sayde beast in littera P. before, de Porco, & in this same booke in littera A. de Apro, where they bée more largely treated and spoken of in diverse things. - [Batman]