Beast

Sources : Crocodile

Herodotus [c. 484 – c. 425 BCE] (Histories, Book 2.68) I will now show what kind of creature is the crocodile. For the four winter months it eats nothing. It has four feet, and lives both on land and in the water, for it lays eggs and hatches them out on land, and it passes the greater part of the day on dry ground, and the night in the river, the water being warmer than the air and dew. No mortal creature known to us grows from so small a beginning to such greatness; for its eggs are not much bigger than goose eggs, and the young crocodile is of a bigness answering thereto, but it grows to a length of seventeen cubits and more. It has eyes like pigs' eyes, and great teeth and tusks answering to the bigness of its body. It is the only animal that has no tongue. Nor does it move the lower jaw. It is the only creature that brings the upper jaw down upon the lower. It has also strong claws, and a scaly impenetrable hide on its back. It is blind in the water, but very keen of sight in the air. Since it lives in the water, its mouth is all full within of leeches. All birds and beasts flee from it, except only the sandpiper,?with which it is at peace, because this bird does the crocodile a service; for whenever the crocodile comes ashore out of the water and then opens its mouth (and this it does for the most part to catch the west wind), the sandpiper goes into its mouth and eats the leeches; the crocodile is pleased by this service and does the sandpiper no harm. [Book 4.44] There is a river Indus, in which so many crocodiles are found that only one river in the world has more. - [Godley translation]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 37-38): The crocodile lives in the Nile river. "It is a curse on four legs, and equally pernicious on land and in the river." Its teeth are set close together like a comb, it has no tongue, and it bites down with its mobile upper jaw, unlike other land animals. It also has claws, and its hide is impervious to blows. It foreknows to lay its eggs above the point where the river will rise during the next flood. To stay warm, it stays on land during the day and in the water at night. It allows a small bird to enter its mouth to clean its teeth; if it falls asleep with its jaws open while this is happening, the ichneuman jumps down its throat and gnaws its way out through the belly. Dolphins also attack crocodiles, using the sharp fin on their backs to cut open the crocodile's soft belly. Crocodiles have poor sight in the water but very good sight when out of it. It is said that the crocodile is the only animal that continues to grow all its life, and that it can live four months in a cave without food in the winter.

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 2, chapter 33): Many writers tell us about the size of the crocodile both when fully grown and when first hatched, and further, about its tongue, and whether it moves its jaw and which jaw it closes upon the other. There are those too who have observed that this animal lays as many eggs as the days during which it sits upon them before hatching out its young. And I have myself heard that when a crocodile dies a scorpion is born from it; and they do say that it has a sting in its tail which is full of poison. - [Scholfield translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 32.22): The crocodile is an evil four-footed beast. It thrives equally well both on land and in the river. It does not have a tongue. It moves its upper jaw. Its jaws meet with a horrible tenacity, and its chains of teeth press together like combs. The majority of these creatures grow up to 20 fathoms in size. They bring forth eggs like geese’s eggs. [23] The crocodile marks out a place for its nest with a natural foreknowledge, concealing its young in a place beyond the reach of the Nile’s flood. The male and female take turns at looking after the brood. Except for a gap on its face, the crocodile is armoured. It also has brutal claws. [24] During the nights it passes its time in the water, and in the day it rests on the land. Its skin is of great strength, so much so that its back deflects missiles hurled by catapults. [25] The strophilos is a small bird. Aiming at hanging bits of meat, it scratches slowly at the mouths of the crocodiles, and bit by bit, coaxing and tickling, it goes all the way in to the beasts’ jaws. When an enhydrus, another kind of ichneumon, notices this, it infiltrates the crocodile and plunders its guts. Then it leaves, having eaten away the beast’s stomach. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 6:19): The crocodile (crocodillus), named fromits saffron (croceus) color, is born in the Nile. It is a quadruped animal, powerful on land and also in the water. It is commonly twenty cubits in length, armed with huge teeth and claws, with skin so tough that it repels blows from stones, however strong, against its back. [Book 12, 6:20] It rests in the water at night, and on the land during the day. It incubates its eggs on land, the male and the female taking turns to guard them. Certain fish with a serrated crest may kill a crocodile by sawing into the soft parts of its belly. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]