Due Gratitude

A story over 2000 years old:


Let us repay the gratitude to the ravens the gratitude that is their due, evidenced also by the indignation and not only by familiarity to the Roman nation. When Tiberius was emperor, a young raven from a brood hatched on the top of the temple of Castor and Pollux flew down to a cobbler’s shop in the vicinity, being also commended to the master of the establishment by religion. It soon picked up the habit of talking, and every morning used to fly off to the platform that faces the Forum and salute Tiberius and then Germanicus and Drusus Caesar by name, and next the Roman public passing by, afterwards returning to the shop. It became remarkable by several years’ constant performance of this function. This bird was killed by the tenant of the next cobbler’s shop, whether because of his neighbour’s competition or in a sudden outburst of anger, because some mess had fallen on his stock of shoes from its droppings. This caused such indignation among the public that the man was first driven out of the district and later actually killed, and the bird’s funeral was celebrated with a vast crowd of followers, the draped bier being carried on the shoulders of two Ethiopians and in front of it going in procession a trumpet-player and all kinds of wreaths, right to the pyre.

Related by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, Book X

Let that be a lesson to you.

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