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Gaius Iulius Caesar


Gallic Wars, 6:26[]

Latin Original[]

Est bos cervi figura, cuius a media fronte inter aures unum cornu exsistit excelsius magisque directum his, quae nobis nota sunt, cornibus: ab eius summo sicut palmae ramique late divunduntur. Eadem est feminae marisque natura, eadem forma magnitudoque cornuum.

English translation (W.A. McDevitte and W.S. Bohn, 1869)[]

There is an ox of the shape of a stag, between whose ears a horn rises from the middle of the forehead, higher and straighter than those horns which are known to us. From the top of this, branches, like palms, stretch out a considerable distance. The shape of the female and of the male is the, same; the appearance and the size of the horns is the same.


Pay no attention to the word "ox" (Latin: bos). The Romans gave that name to any large animal they could not describe otherwise, for example, the elephant is a "Lucanian ox" (Luca bos), because they first saw it in Lucania in Pyrrhus's army. Aside from an oddity in the shape of a single straight horn on the forehead, Caesar paints an fairly accurate picture of a reindeer.


  • Hyde, Walter Woodburn; The Curious Animals of the Hercynian Forest; 1918

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