On Hunting


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

The hounds used are of two kinds, the Castorian and the Vulpine.[*](Both are Laconian varieties, the Castorian being much the larger. The Vulpine resembled a fox; hence the erroneous idea that it was a hybrid between dog and fox (O. Keller, die antike Tierwelt, i. 121).) The Castorian is so called because Castor paid special attention to the breed, making a hobby of the business. The Vulpine is a hybrid between the dog and the fox: hence the name. In the course of time the nature of the parents has become fused.

Inferior specimens (that is to say, the majority) show one or more of the following defects. They are small, hook-nosed, grey-eyed, blinking, ungainly, stiff, weak, thin-coated, lanky, ill-proportioned, cowardly, dull-scented, unsound in the feet.

Now small dogs often drop out of the running through their want of size; hook-nosed dogs have no mouth and can’t hold the hare; grey-eyed dogs and blinkers have bad sight; ungainly dogs look ugly; stiff ones are in a bad way at the end of the hunt; no work can be got out of the weak and the thin-coated ones; those that are lanky and ill-proportioned are heavy movers and carry themselves anyhow; cowards leave their work and give up and slink away from the sun into shady places and lie down; dogs with no nose seldom scent the hare and only with difficulty; and those with bad feet, even if they are plucky, can’t stand the hard work, and tire because they are foot-sore.

Moreover, hounds of the same breed vary much in behaviour when tracking. Some go ahead as soon as they find the line without giving a sign, and there is nothing to show that they are on it. Some move the ears only, but keep the tail still; others keep the ears still and wag the tip of the tail.

Others prick up the ears[*](The Greek hound had short ears (cf. 4.1) like a foxterrier.) and run frowning along the track, dropping their tails and putting them between their legs. Many do none of these things, but rush about madly round the track, and when they happen upon it, stupidly trample out the traces, barking all the time.

Others again, continually circling and straying, get ahead of the line when clean off it and pass the hare, and every time they run against the line, begin guessing, and if they catch sight of the hare, tremble and never go for her until they see her stir.

Hounds that run forward and frequently examine the discoveries of the others when they are casting about and pursuing have no confidence in themselves; while those that will not let their cleverer mates go forward, but fuss and keep them back, are confident to a fault. Others will drive ahead, eagerly following false lines and getting wildly excited over anything that turns up, well knowing that they are playing the fool; others will do the same thing in ignorance. Those that stick to game paths and don’t recognise the true line are poor tools.

A hound that ignores the trail[*](The trail of the hare is the path she takes in going to her seat.—Beckford.) and races over the track of the hare on the run is ill-bred. Some, again, will pursue hotly at first, and then slack off from want of pluck; others will cut in ahead and then get astray; while others foolishly dash into roads and go astray, deaf to all recall.

Many abandon the pursuit and go back through their hatred of game, and many through their love of man. Others try to mislead by baying on the track, representing false lines as true ones.