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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/262

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which had become noted for breeding them e. g., Rhodes, Chalcis, Delos—or directly from Persia.

That the fowl did not come into Germany from Italy, but that a more direct transfer of it from Persia—perhaps by way of Thrace, Illyria, and Pannonia—must have taken place, is shown by the names (hahn huhn, henne), which are independent of, and different from, the Greek and Latin names; and it is further shown by the ideas and representations which, in the North, are connected with the fowl. Thus we find in separate and distinct places the same belief as in Persia—that the cock, by his crowing, frightens away the evil spirits; he was the symbol of flame, the animal of Loki, the god of fire: when he unfolded his wings, conflagrations started up under him, whence comes the still current expression for an act of incendiarism, "To set the red cock upon any one's roof." Cæsar reports of the Britons that among them, just as among the Persians, no one was allowed to eat the flesh of fowls. At what time, however, the northern immigration took place can not be accurately stated; yet the supposition can not be wide of the truth that it was when the Persians, during their expeditions to Greece, came into contact with the above-named tribes—somewhere about the fifth century b. c. From that starting-point, then, this useful domestic animal soon spread abroad everywhere, and found always the most ready reception wherever man was about to change from a nomadic shepherd-life and have a settled, permanent home. At present the breeding of fowls receives most attention in France, which country is said to support, at the lowest calculation, 100,000,000 fowls—a striking example of what an important part in the economical life of a people this animal is capable of playing.

The peacock, too, is a native of Asia, having come to us from India. Phœnician ships, so early as the time of Solomon, brought it to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The first place in which peacocks were kept in Greece seems to have been the temple of Hera in Samos, for there, according to mythology, this bird had its origin. That the peacock was dedicated to Hera can not astonish us, for she is the goddess of the starry heaven. Another myth related that the thousand-eyed Argus, the watcher of the moon goddess Io, had been slain by Apollo and changed into a peacock, or that Hera had placed his thousand eyes upon the feathers of her bird. Moreover, the peacock was very profitable for that temple of Hera, inasmuch as its plumage enticed thither many inquisitive sight-seers, who willingly paid the temple tribute for a sight of the beautiful bird. As a reward for this, the Samians placed its image upon their coins.

In Athens we find the peacock first mentioned in the fifth century b. c., and the contemporary writers fail to find sufficient words to tell what a surprise its appearance had made among that inquisitive and novelty-loving people. It is, therefore, not remarkable that, already in the fourth century b. c., peacocks were more numerous in Athens than quail.