Beast

Sources : Parrot

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 8, 14.6): On the whole, birds with crooked claws have short necks, broad tongues, and a capacity for imitation. And so has the Indian bird, the parrot, which is said to have a tongue like a man. It becomes the most loquacious when intoxicated. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 58): Above all, birds imitate the human voice, parrots indeed actually talking. India sends us this bird; its name in the vernacular is siptaces; its whole body is green, only varied by a red circlet at the neck. It greets its masters, and repeats words given to it, being particularly sportive over the wine. Its head is as hard as its beak ; and when it is being taught to speak it is beaten on the head with an iron rod - otherwise it does not feel blows. When it alights from flight it lands on its beak, and it leans on this and so reduces its weight for the weakness of its feet. - [Rackham translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 52.43-45): [Chapter 52.43] India alone breeds the parrot, which is green in color with a crimson neck. Its beak is so hard that when it casts itself down from on high, it saves itself by the strength of its bill, using it as though it were a foundation of extraordinary firmness. [Chapter 52.44] Its head is so strong that if ever it stands in need of a blow of correction (for it strives to speak like a man), it must be beaten with a little iron rod. While it is a chick, and in its second year of age, it learns more quickly what is shown to it, and retains it more tenaciously. When it is a little older, it is forgetful and unteachable. [Chapter 52.45] The number of toes distinguishes between the better and worse types of parrot. Those who have five toes are pre-eminent; the rest have three toes. The parrot’s tongue is broad, broader by far than those of other birds, whence it happens that it utters words distinctly. This talent was so marveled at by Roman voluptuaries that barbarians made a trade in parrots. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:24): The parrot [psittacus] comes from the shores of India. It is green in color, with a scarlet collar and a large tongue, wider than that of other birds. Hence it pronounces articulate words so that if you did not see the bird you would think a human was speaking. It makes a greeting naturally, saying "Have!" [Ave, a Latin greeting] or ["Hail", a Greek greeting]. Other words it learns by being taught. Hence it is spoken of [Martial, Epigrams 14.73]: I, a parrot, would learn from you the names of others, but on my own I have learned to say this: "Hail [Have], Caesar!" - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Birds 5.109): Psytacus is an Indian bird, as Solinus and Jacobus say, green in color, with a red collar, that is to say golden, with a large and broad tongue, from which it utters articulate words, so that, if you did not see it, you would think a man was speaking. And it greets a man saying: Ave!, or: Hail! In the first and second year it learns more quickly and retains more tenaciously. Its beak is so hard that when it falls from a lofty place onto a rock, it catches itself with its beak, in such a way that it uses it as a kind of foundation, beyond the standard of ordinarily firmness; but its head is so strong, that when it is forced by men to imitate human voices, it must be beaten with an iron rod. It feeds itself with its foot, and carries food with his beak, as a man with his hand. They are said to nest in the mountains of Gelboe because it never or rarely rains there, and parrots cannot tolerate rain. But others tolerate water in any way, but die in rain. It guards its tail with great care, and frequently wipes its feathers with its beak. As Aristotle says, the parrot drinks wine with pleasure, and is a very luxurious bird. No wonder, because it drinks wine with pleasure, wine in which there is luxury. It has a certain voice by nature, with which it seems to greet Caesar. Whence it came to pass that Charlemagne, wandering through the deserts of Greece, was met by parrots, and they saluted him as if in the Greek language, crying: 'Farewell, Emperor.' Those words were like the utterance of a certain prophecy, for since at that time Charles was only king of Gaul, but at a later time he became emperor of the Romans. But it is also read in the Life of Leo the pope: for when a certain nobleman had a parrot bird capable of speaking, he sent it to Pope Leo as a gift. When the parrot was still on the road and met people, the bird cried: 'I'm going to the pope! I'm going to the pope!' Without delay, when it entered the pope's house, it cried out: 'Leo papa, farewell! Pope Leo, goodbye!’. At this point the pope, greatly exhilarated, often resorted, as if for recreation after his daily labors, to the chattering of the parrot. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]