Text #8670

Aelian. On the Characteristics of Animals. Vol. 2
[Bk. 11 Ch. 19 pp. 385--387]

When a house is on the verge of ruin the mice in it, and the martens also, forestall its collapse and emigrate1. This, you know, is what they say happened at Helice, for when the people of Helice treated so impiously the Ionians who had come to them, and murdered them at their altar, then it was (in the words of Homer [Od. 12. 394]) that “the gods showed forth their wonders among them.” For five days before Helice disappeared all the mice and martens and snakes and centipedes and beetles and every other creature of that kind in the town left in a body by the road that leads to Cerynea.

And the people of Helice seeing this happening were filled with amazement, but were unable to guess the reason. But after the aforesaid creatures had departed, an earthquake occurred in the night; the town collapsed; an immense wave poured over it, and Helice disappeared, while ten Lacedaemonian vessels which happened to be at anchor close by were destroyed together with the city I speak of.

  1. In 6.41, p. 57-59, Aelian adds about mice predicting natural disasters : “whereupon the Mice, I fancy, are in dread of the wrath of heaven and retreat in the formation of a hollow square to some mountain […] And itis believed that whenever a house is threatening to fall, all the Mice will change house as fast as their legs can carry them.” [nE]

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