Sources : Peacock
Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 6, 9.1-2): [Book 6, 9.1] The peacock lives about twenty-five years, and produces young generally at three years old; by which time also they have obtained their variegated plumage: and it hatches in thirty days, or rather more. It only produces young once a year, laying twelve eggs, or not quite so many. It lays its eggs at intervals of two or three days, and not regularly. At first they lay only eight. The pea-fowl also lays barren eggs: they copulate in the spring, and lay their eggs immediately afterwards. [Book 6, 9.2] This bird sheds its feathers when the leaves of the trees begin to fall, and begins to acquire them again with the first budding in the spring. Those who rear these birds place the eggs for incubation beneath domestic fowls; because the peacock flies at, and torments the hen when she is sitting; for which reason some of the wild birds make their escape from the males before they begin to lay and sit. They place only two eggs under domestic fowls, for these are all that they can hatch and bring out; and they take care to put food before them, that they may not get up and desert their incubation. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]
Ovid [1st century CE] (The Metamorphoses, Book 15, 361-390): Who would believe, if he did not know, that Juno’s bird, the peacock, that bears eyes, like stars, on its tail ... is born from the inside of an egg? - [Kline translation]
Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 22-23): [Book 10, 22] Now let us speak about the second class which is divided into two kinds, song-birds and plumage-birds. The former kind are distinguished by their song and the latter by their size; so the latter shall come first in order also, and among them before all the rest will come the peacock class, both because of its beauty and because of its consciousness of and pride in it. When praised it spreads out its jeweled colors directly facing the sun, because in that way they gleam more brilliantly; and at the same time by curving its tail like a shell it contrives as it were reflections of shadow for the rest of its colors, which actually shine more brightly in the dark, and it draws together into a cluster all the eyes of its feathers, as it delights in having them looked at. Moreover when it moults its tail feathers every year with the fall of the leaves, it seeks in shame and sorrow for a place of concealment until others are born again with the spring flowers. It lives for 25 years, but it begins to shed its colors at the age of three. The authorities relate that this creature is not only ostentatious but also spiteful, just as the goose is said to be modest - since some writers have added these characteristics also in that species, though I do not accept them. [Book 10, 23] The first person at Rome to kill a peacock for the table was the orator Hortensius, at the inaugural banquet of his priesthood. Fattening peacocks was first instituted about the time of the last pirate war by Marcus Aufidius Lurco, and he made 60,000 sesterces profit from this trade. - [Rackham translation]
Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 5, 21): The Peacock knows that it is the most beautiful of birds; it knows too wherein its beauty resides; it prides itself on this and is haughty, and gathers confidence from the plumes which are its ornament and which inspire strangers with terror. - [Scholfield translation]
Martial (Epigrams, xiii, 70): You are lost in admiration, whenever it spreads its jeweled wings; can you consign it, hard-hearted woman, to the unfeeling cook?
Augustine [5th century CE] (City of God, Book 21, chapter 4): For who but God the Creator of all things has given to the flesh of the peacock its antiseptic property? This property, when I first heard of it, seemed to me incredible; but it happened at Carthage that a bird of this kind was cooked and served up to me, and, taking a suitable slice of flesh from its breast, I ordered it to be kept, and when it had been kept as many days as make any other flesh stinking, it was produced and set before me, and emitted no offensive smell. And after it had been laid by for thirty days and more, it was still in the same state; and a year after, the same still, except that it was a little more shriveled, and drier.
Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7.48): The peacock (pavo) has its name from the sound of its call. Its flesh is so hard that is scarcely experiences decay, nor is it easily cooked. Someone speaks of it in this way [Martial, Epigrams 13.70]: You marvel whenever it unfolds its jeweled wings; and can you, pitiless man, give this bird to the cruel cook? - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]
Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Birds 5.100): The peacock is a very beautiful bird, a lover of beauty and cleanliness. He has a serpentine head, and feathers above it like a crown, or rather a crest. He has a sapphire chest, a long and elongated neck, similarly sapphire in color; he usually has ruffed feathers, a long and pointed tail, a terrible voice, and a simple gait. With his cry he drives away all the poisonous animals, and they dare not remain in the places wherever they hear the voice of the peacock. Augustine: The flesh of a dead peacock does not rot or decay for a whole year. Blessed Augustine, in his book De Civitate Dei, mentions that he understood that himself. But the same doctor says that they never rot. Jacobus: When a peacock is looked upon and praised, he stretches his tail around and bends and shows its beauty; and this especially in the full sun, because they thus radiate more brilliantly. If he is looked upon by a silent man, he hides with closed eyes all the feathers which he otherwise delights to display. Liber rerum:When a peacock with an outstretched tail sees the ugliness of his feet, he immediately lowers his tail. Pliny: He begins to shed his jeweled colors at the age of three years, and then he mates. He lives for 25 years. As the Liber Kyrannidarum says, a precious stone grows in the head of an old peacock. Peacock and goose eggs are good for making a golden color. Every year the peacock loses his tail when the leaves of the trees fall, and until he regains it he is shamefaced and wretched, and hides. When the peacock wakes up in the night and can't see himself in the dark, he cries out fearfully and believes that he has lost his beauty. The peahen lays eggs three times a year. The males break the eggs because of lust for the incubating females [also said of the partridge]; therefore the females give lay eggs in secret. But they pursue their own chicks as if they were strangers, before they have the mark of their crests. The eggs, unless they are caught in soft bedding, break at once. Hatching occurs on the twenty-seventh day or on the thirtieth at the latest. The voice of the peacock scares off snakes, and they do not dare to dwell near a place where the voice of the peacock is frequently heard. Before intercourse they kiss each other. When the male is old, he cannot mate, but he kisses. The female dances over the female in desire of copulation. When the peacock flies high, it is a sign of rain [also said of the crane]. Peacock chicks must be nursed very carefully, for they are easily wounded to death. The greatest danger to them is when their comb begins to be produced, and then they must be restrained from labor. There are some peacocks having a white color throughout, and yet that luster, which is usually in the colored feathers of other peacocks, in these in such a wonderful way the white luster is distinguished from the rest of the white feathers, so much so that the jeweled eyes, which shine in gold or sapphire in the other peacocks, in the white ones they shine with splendor. Wild peacocks in the desert do not resemble domestic peacocks in their luster, color, or tail. No wonder, if nature had created the weight of their tails, it would seem rather to have burdened their flying than to have honored the young birds with glory. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]
Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book12.31): The Pecocke is called Pavo, and hath that name of the sounde of his voice. His flesh is so harde that unneth it rotteth, and is full hard to soothing, as Isidore saith. And Aristotle sayth, that the Pecocke liveth twentie yeare, and hath chickens in the end of three yeeres, & after his wings bee couloured. And the Pehen sitteth abroode thirtye dayes, and a little more: and soone after the shelles be clove, and hath no chickens but once a yeare, and layeth twelve Egges or few lesse. And the Pecocke leeseth his fethers when the first tree leeseth his leaves, and his fethers grow first when leaves begin to grow on trees, as Aristotle saith. And the Pecock is a bird that loveth not his young: for the male searcheth out the female, and seeketh out her Egges for to breake them, that he may so occupy him the more in his lecherie. And the female dreadeth that, & hideth busily her egges, least the Pecocke might soone find them. And Arist[otle] sayth, that the Pecocke hath an unstedfast and evill shapen head, as it were the head of a serpent & with a crest. And he hath a simple pace, and small necke, and areared, and a blew breast, and a taile ful of bewty, distinguished on high with wonderful fairenesse: and he hath foulest féet & riveled. And he wondereth of the fairenesse of his fethers, & areareth them up, as it were a circle about his head, and then he looketh to his féet, and seeth the foulenesse of his feete, and lyke as he wer ashamed, he letteth his fethers fall sodeinlye: and all the taile downeward, as though he tooke no héed of the fairenesse of his fethers: and hath an horrible voice. And as one sayth, he hath a voice of a féend, head of a serpent, pace of théefe. And lib. 29. cap. 6. Plinius sayth, yt the Pecock hath envie to mans profit, and swalloweth his owne durt: for it is full medicinable, but it is seld found. - [Batman]