On Hunting


Xenophon, creator; Scripta Minora; Marchant, E. C. (Edgar Cardew), 1864-1960, editor, translator; Bowersock, G. W, (Glen Warren), 1936-, editor, translator

The first pursuit, therefore, that a young man just out of his boyhood should take up is hunting, and afterwards he should go on to the other branches of education, provided he has means. He must look to his means, and, if they are sufficient, spend as much as the benefit to himself is worth; or, if they are insufficient, at least let him supply enthusiasm, in no way coming short of his power.[*](The text of this paragraph is open to suspicion. The words from εἶτα to ἔχοντα may be an afterthought.)

I will give a list and a description of the intending hunter’s outfit, and the explanation of each item, in order that he may understand the business before he puts his hand to it. And let no one regard these details as trivial; inasmuch as nothing can be done without them.

The net-keeper should be a man with a keen interest in the business, one who speaks Greek, about twenty years old, agile and strong, and resolute, that, being well qualified to overcome his tasks, he may take pleasure in the business.

The purse-nets should be made of fine Phasian[*](i.e., Colchian. Much flax and linen was exported from Colchis.) or Carthaginian flax, and the road-nets and hayes of the same material.

Let the purse-nets be of nine threads woven in three strands, each strand consisting of three threads. The proper length for these nets is forty-five inches, the proper width of the meshes six inches. The cords that run round[*](The cords meant here are those that ran round the mouth of the purse, and served as a running noose to close it when the hare got in.) them must be without knots, so that they may run easily.

The road-nets should be of twelve threads, and the hayes of sixteen. The length of the road-nets may be twelve, twenty-four or thirty-feet; that of the hayes sixty, a hundred and twenty, or a hundred and eighty feet. If they are longer, they will be unwieldy. Both kinds should be thirty knots[*](i.e., ten meshes, so that the extreme height, if the net was fully stretched, would be five feet. Poachers now use slip-knots or nets about four feet deep with a mesh of two-and-a-half inches.) high, and should have meshes of the same width as those of the purse-nets.

At the elbows at either end let the road-nets have slip-knots of string and the hayes metal rings,[*](The rings running down the two sides were used for joining two nets together.) and let the cords[*](i.e., the cords running along the top and bottom of the nets.) be attached by loops.

The stakes for the purse-nets should be thirty inches long, but some should be shorter. Those of unequal length are for use on sloping ground, to make the height of the nets equal, while those of the same length are used on the level. These stakes must be so shaped at the top that the nets will pull off readily and they must be smooth.[*](The author means, I think, to imply a contrast between the stakes of the purse-nets and those of the other nets. The second αὗται in the text can scarcely be right: possibly καὶ αὗται λεῖαι should be omitted, or αὐταί, they themselves, read with Dindorf.) The stakes for the road-nets should be twice the length of these, and those for the hayes forty-five inches long. The latter[*](Or perhaps he means both sets. ) should have little forks with shallow grooves, and all should be stout, of a thickness proportioned to the length.

The number of stakes used for the hayes may be large or small; fewer are required if the nets are strained tight when set up, more if they are slack.

A calf-skin bag will be wanted for carrying the purse-nets and road-nets and hayes and the bill-hooks for cutting wood and stopping gaps where necessary.