Beast

Sources : Mouse

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus Book 6, 37): The reproduction of mice is more wonderful than that of any other animal, both in number and rapidity. For a pregnant female was left in a vessel of corn; and after a short time the vessel was opened, and a hundred and twenty mice were counted. There is a doubt respecting the reproduction and destruction of the mice which live on the ground; for such an inexpressible number of field mice have sometimes made their appearance that very little food remained. Their power of destruction also is so great that some small farmers, having on one day observed that their corn was ready for harvest, when they went the following day to cut their corn, found it all eaten. The manner of their disappearance also is unaccountable; for in a few days they all vanish, although beforehand they could not be exterminated by smoking and digging them out, nor by hunting them and turning swine among them to root up their runs. Foxes also hunt them out, and wild weasels are very ready to destroy them; but they cannot prevail over their numbers and the rapidity of their increase, nor indeed can anything prevail over them but rain, and when this comes they disappear very soon. In a certain part of Persia the female fetus of the mice are found to be pregnant in the uterus of their parent. Some people say and affirm that if they lick salt they become pregnant without copulation. The Egyptian mice have hair nearly resembling that of the hedgehog. There are other kinds which go upon two feet, for their fore feet are small and their hind feet large. They are very numerous. There are also many other kinds of mice. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 10; 8, 42; 8, 82; 10, 85; 11, 76): [Book 8, 10] [Elephants] hate the mouse worst of living creatures, and if they see one merely touch the fodder placed in their stall they refuse it with disgust. [Book 8, 42] When the collapse of a building is imminent, the mice migrate in advance... [Book 8, 82] Many people have also placed in this class these denizens of our homes the mice, a creature not to be ignored among portents even in regard to pubic affairs; they foretold the war with the Marsians by gnawing the silver shields at Lanuvium, and the death of General Carbo by gnawing at Chiusi the puttees that he wore inside his sandals. There are more varieties of mice in the district of Cyrene, some with broad and others with pointed heads, and others like hedgehogs with prickly bristles. Theophrastus states that on the island of Chiura when they had banished the inhabitants they even gnawed iron, and that they also do this by a sort of instinct in the iron foundries in the country of the Chalybes: indeed, he says, in gold mines because of this their bellies get cut away and their theft of gold is always detected, so fond are they of thieving. The Public Records relate that during the siege of Casilinum by Hannibal a mouse was sold for 200 francs, and that the man who sold it died of hunger while the buyer lived. The appearance of white mice constitutes a joyful omen. [Book 10, 85] The most prolific of all animals whatever is the mouse - one hesitates to state its fertility, even though on the authority of Aristotle and the troops of Alexander the Great. It is stated that with it impregnation takes place by licking and not by coupling. There is a record of 120 being born from a single mother, and in Persia of mice already pregnant being found in the parent's womb; and it is believed that they are made pregnant by tasting salt. Accordingly it ceases to be surprising how so large an army of field-mice ravages the crops; and in the case of field-mice it is also hitherto unknown exactly how this vast multitude is suddenly destroyed: for they are never found dead, and nobody exists who ever dug up a mouse in a field in winter. Vast numbers thus appear in the Troad, and they have by now banished the inhabitants from that country. They appear during droughts. It is also related that when a mouse is going to die a worm grows in its head. The mice in Egypt have hard hair like hedgehogs, and also they walk on two feet, as also do the Alpine mice. [Book 11, 76] It is said that the filaments in the tiny livers of mice correspond with the number of the days of the moon in the month, and are found to correspond with its degree of light; and also that they grow larger with winter. - [Rackham translation]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 3:1): The mouse [mus] is a tiny animal. Its name is Greek, but any form declined from it becomes Latin. Some people say that they are called mice because they are born from the moisture of the earth, for mus is 'earth', whence also the word 'soil' [humus]. In these creatures the liver grows during the full moon, just as some marine animals grow larger at this time and grow smaller again when the moon is new. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Gerald of Wales [c. 1146 – c. 1223] (Topographia Hibernica, Distinction 1, chapter 22): The larger species of mouse is found here in great numbers, and the smaller kind swarm to such an amazing degree that they consume more enormous quantities of grain than anywhere else, and are very destructive to clothes, which they gnaw and tear, however carefully they may be locked up in chests. Bede describes the island as possessing only two sorts of ravenous animals. To these I have added this third, which is most destructive. - [Forester translation, 1863]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.78): Mice are fond of bread, and also of that which is made from crops for human food. The smell of them annoys elephants. They are very skillful in searching for fish, and generally avoid any danger from them. If a mouse drinks water, it dies; and this is because mice are very moist by nature. But since it is certain that a mouse urinates, it is probable that the food which it eats is turned into urine, just as it is certain of certain men who drank almost nothing, and yet, having changed their food into a liquid substance, made a great deal of urine. A mouse, finding many cheeses in one place, tries them all, and eats the one he finds the best, and condemns the inferior ones to be put aside. There is no doubt that the mice are white in some parts, and rufous in others; but there are blacks that the world has in common. The mice are vocal at the full moon; in the interlune they are mute. In these the liver increases during the full moon, as Isidore says, just as certain marine animals increase - such as conches - which again fail when the moon decreases. Pliny says that their generation is accomplished by licking, not by copulation, and by the taste of salt they become pregnant. It is certain that white pebbles are also frequently found with their offspring, but for what reason is uncertain, except that the common people say that they cannot breed except with a pebble present. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.72): The Mouse is called Mus, & is a little beast, as Isido[re] sayeth, and hath that name of Humus earth: for he breadeth and is gendered of humors of the earth, for earth is called Mus and Humus. Also the the lyver of this beast wexeth in the full of the Moone, lyke as a certaine fish of the sea increaseth then, and waneth againe in the waning of the Moone: and Mice are called Sorices also, for they fret and gnaw things as it were a saw. Huc usque Isid[ore] lib. 12. And libro septimo Arist[otle] saith, that the mouse drinketh not, and if he drinketh he dyeth: and is a gluttonous beast, and is therefore beguiled with a little meate when he smelleth it, and will taste thereof. His urine stinketh, and his biting is venemons: and his urine is contagious, and also his taile is venemous accounted. Also lib. 8. cap. 38. Plinius speaketh of Mice & saieth, that some Mice are wittie, and gather meate into their dennes, and hide themselves in dennes in winter time, & their palate is perfect in taste, and also their nose in smell. In harvest the male and female gather corne, and charge eyther other uppon the wombe, and the male draweth the female so charged, by the taile to hir denne, and dischargeth hir, and layeth up that stuffe in a place in the denne: and then they goe againe to travaile, and gather eares of corne, & the male layeth himselfe on his owne backe, and his female chargeth him, and taketh his taile in hir mouth, and draweth him so home to the denne [a similar tale is told of the badger], and so they beare their burthens and charge, & chaunge course, & items, and times. Also he saith, of Mice is divers maner kinds, for some mice liveth in houses, & some in fields, & some in banks & brims of waters, and some depart the yeare atwaine in sléeping, for they sléepe halfe the yere, as Glires doe, which be a certaine maner of Mice, as Plin[y] saieth. And though Mice be full grievous & noyfull beasts, yet they are in many things good & profitable in medicines: for as Plin[y] saith lib. 29. cap. 7. Ashes of Mice, with honye and with oyle dropped into the eares, doth away ache and griefe: and if any worme entreth and commeth into the eare, the chiefe remedie is the gall of Mice tempered wt wine, dropped warme into the eares. Dioscorides sayth, that Mice durt brused with vineger, cleanseth that evill Allopicia, and kéepeth and saveth from falling of haire. Also that durt stamped with wine, and taken in drinke, softneth the wombe wonderfully. His new skinne laid all about the héele, heleth and saveth kybes & wounds therefrom. - [Batman]