Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Cantabrigiensis: Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Cambridge, 30 July-5 August 2000

By Rhoda Schnur | Go to book overview

What is a Hippopotamus?
A Problem in Renaissance
Taxonomy and Description

PETER FISHER

I should like to take as my starting-point a curious phrase which occurs in the natural history section of the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (A Description of the Northern Peoples) of Olaus Magnus, the sixteenth-century archbishop who wrote this account of his native Sweden and its surrounding countries. He is describing a strange sea-creature in the Baltic, whose habits he compares with those of the hippopotamus, which he categorizes as piscis Nili fluminisa fish in the River Nile. One's first amused reaction is to smile condescendingly and think that he has heard about the hippopotamus and its habitat, but has very little idea what it is.

Then, on reflection, you consider that he has ransacked the ancient classics for a great deal of his knowledge of animals, and that he must have read, almost certainly in Latin translation, Herodotus's account of this beast2 and Aristotle's,3 which repeats much the same details, and that of Pliny the Elder,4 which is based on both. Here is Aristotle's description from the Historia animalium, in English translation.

The Egyptian hippopotamus has a mane like a horse, is cloven-hoofed like an
ox, and is snub-nosed. It has a haunch-bone like the cloven-footed animals,
tusks which just show through, the tail of a pig, the neigh of a horse and the

1 Olaus Magnus, Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Rome, 1555), facsimile ed. (Copenhagen,
1972), 21.38 (767); trans. P. Fisher and H. Higgens, 3 vols. (London, 1996–1998), 3:1123.

2 Herodotus, Historiae, 2.71.

3 Aristode, Historia animalium, 502a, 589a. The following translation is based on that of A. L.
Peck: History of Animals, trans. A. L. Peck and D. M. Balme, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 1965–
1991), 1:101–3.

4 Pliny, Naturalis historia, 8.39.95.

-193-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Cantabrigiensis: Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Cambridge, 30 July-5 August 2000
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 620

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.