Beast

Sources : Vulture

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus Book 6, chapter 5): The vulture builds its nest in inaccessible rocks, wherefore its nest and young ones are rarely seen. For this reason Herodorus, the father of Bryson the sophist, says that vultures come from another part of the earth, which is invisible to us, giving as a reason for his opinion, that they are seen in great numbers suddenly following the path of an army. But difficult as it is to observe them, their nests have been seen. The vulture produces two eggs. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 7): The strongest kind of vulture is the black one. No one has ever seen a vulture's nest, leading some people to say that vultures nest on the far side of the world, but this is not true: vultures build their nests on very high crags. Three days before they lay their eggs they fly to a place where they will find corpses.

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 1, chapter 45): If a man burn the feathers of a vulture (so I am told), he will have no difficulty in inducing snakes to quit their dens and lurking-places. [Book 2, chapter 46] The Vulture is the dead body's enemy. At any rate it swoops upon it as though it were an adversary and devours it, and watches a man who is in the throes of death. Vultures even follow in the wake of armies in foreign parts, knowing by prophetic instinct that they are marching to war and that every battle provides corpses, as they have discovered. It is said that no male vulture is ever born: all vultures are female. And the birds knowing this and fearing to be left childless, take measures to produce them as follows. They fly against the south wind. If however the wind is not from the south, they open their beaks to the east wind, and the inrush of air impregnates them, and their period of gestation lasts for three years. But the vulture is said never to make a nest. ... But I have been informed that vultures do not lay eggs, but that in their birth-pangs they produce chicks, and that these are feathered from birth I have also heard. - [Scholfield translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 5, chapter 20.64): It is said that vultures 'do not indulge in conjugal embraces' or in any sort of union or nuptial tie. They are said to conceive without contact with the male seed and that without the union of sexes they generate offspring that live to a ripe old age. In fact, it is asserted that they live as long as a hundred years and that by no means does 'the limit of a natural span of life await them.' [Chapter 23.81] Why are vultures able by certain indications to foretell a man's death? Whence have they derived their knowledge? When two armies face each other in battle array to engage in tearful war, these particular birds follow in formation as a sign that a great number of men are destined to fall a prey to vultures.- [Savage translation, 1961]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:12): The vulture (vultur) has its name from its slow flight (volutas tardis), which is a result of its large body. The females do not engage in sex, but conceive without intercourse. Vultures live nearly a century. They sense corpses at great distances, even across the seas; by flying high they see corpses hidden in mountains.