Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/89

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THE BRITISH LION.
nothing else, neither beast of burden nor man, but killed the camels only. I wonder why on earth they should have abstained from the other animals and attacked the camels only, beasts that they had never seen or tasted before. There are in this district many lions and wild oxen with large horns (uri), which the Greeks obtain from the inhabitants by barter. The boundary of the district inhabited by the lions is the river Nestus (Oarasu) that flows through Abdera, and the Achelöus, that flows through Acharnania: for neither to the east of the Nestus is there a lion anywhere in that part of Europe, nor to the west of the Achelöus in the rest of the continent, but it lives only in the district between those rivers.

It must be remarked that in this precise account Herodotus, with his usual accuracy, defines only the eastern and western boundaries, which he knew, and says nothing about the unknown region to the north. The story of the lions was still fresh in the memory of the hunters of Chalkidike when it was picked up by Herodotus in his travels some twenty-five years afterward, and used to light up his narrative. It is certain, then, that the lion lived in b. c. 480 in the forests south of the Balkans, between these two boundaries, and probably as far south as the Gulf of Lepanto and the Isthmus of Corinth. It probably ranged also northward into the valley of the Danube.

We are indebted to Xenophon, about a hundred years later, for the next mention of the lion in Europe. In his "Treatise on Hunting" (xi, i), which he wrote on his banishment from Athens in his splendid retreat in Lacedæmon, after he had exchanged the court and the camp for the pleasures of gardening and hunting, he says: "Lions, pardaleis" (probably a leopard), "lynxes, panthers, bears, and such like beasts, are caught in foreign countries in the neighborhood of Mount Pangæum, and Mount Cissus, which is beyond Macedonia, and in the Mysian Olympus and in Pindus, and in Xyse that is above Syria, and in other mountains that can support such animals." Mount Pangæum is near the sources of the Nestus, and Cissus is close to Thessalonica, and therefore this passage strongly confirms the truth of the story told by Herodotus. It is, however, rejected by Baron Cuvier and Sir G. C. Lewis, on the grounds that all these animals are not likely to have lived in any one of the above localities, and that it is a general statement relating to Europe and Asia Minor. Taken along with the statement of Herodotus, and the further fact that the lynx and bear still live in the same region, it seems to me that Xenophon knew what he was writing about when he advised the hunters to capture the above animals by the use of poisoned meat in those districts. Whether Xenophon's advice was taken or not, we find in the pages of the next writer, some fifty years afterward, that the lions were becoming rare in Europe. Aristotle describes their range nearly in the same words as Herodotus, but in the interval of a hundred and fifty years the "many lions" (πολλοὶ λέοτες) of the one had become "the few" (σπάνιον λένος) of the other, and they had by that time been driven