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Medieval Sourcebook:

The compiler praises the Crow for the care it takes in the rearing of its young, a care which, so he says, is in strong contrast to the practises of contemporary women who take no pleasure in their child-rearing, but rather seek by various methods (a hint, perhaps, of contraception) to prevent too many of their children from reaching maturity.

"Who but Man has preached the abandoning of children? Who but he has devised such harsh customs for fathers? Who made brothers unequal among the fraternal relationships of Nature? "Our sons have to yield their place to the isolated fortune of a single rich one. One of them is overwhelmed with the whole paternal inheritance; another deplored the drained and meagre portion of his patrimony. But did Nature divide the merits of sons? Nature assigns equally to all, that they may have the wherewithall for being born and living.

"This should teach you not to distinguish in their inheritance between those whom you have made equal by the title of brotherhood, and whom, indeed, you have given a common existence by the fact of their birth. You ought not to grudge their having in common a thing to which they were brought as one.

Trans. T.H. White, The Book of Beasts (1954), pp. 142-3, with amendments from MS texts. The passage appears in "second family" MSS, which apparently originated in early 12th century Northern France and England; of. F. McCullough, Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries (1960), pp. 34-8. It is however borrowed from St. Ambrose, Hexaemeron!


HTML by Paul Hyams of Cornell University. See his Course Page?. He indicated that the translations are available for educational use. He intends to expand the number of translations, so keep a note of his home page.

This text is listed as part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Paul Halsall April 1996