Apes are called simie in Latin because the similarity between their mentality and that of humans is felt to be great. Apes are keenly aware of the elements; they rejoice when the moon is new and are sad when it wanes. A characteristic of the ape is that when a mother bears twins, she loves one and despises the other. If it ever happens that she is pursued by hunters, she carries the one she loves before her in her arms and the one she detests on her shoulders. But when she is tired of going upright, she deliberately drops the one she loves and reluctantly carries the one she hates. The ape does not have a tail. The Devil has the form of an ape, with a head but no tail. Although every part of the ape is foul, its rear parts are disgusting and horrid enough. The Devil began as an angel in heaven. But inside he was a hypocrite and a deceiver, and he lost his tail, because he will perish totally at the end, just as the apostle says: ‘The Lord shall consume him with the spirit of his mouth.’ (2 Thessalonians, 2:8) The name symia is Greek, meaning, ‘flattened nostrils’. Hence we call the ape symia because they have compressed nostrils and a hideous face, its creases foully expanding and contracting like a bellows; although she-goats also have a flattened nose. The apes called circopetici have tails. This alone distinguishes them from the apes mentioned earlier. Cenophali are numbered among the apes. They occur in great numbers in parts of Ethiopia. They leap wildly and bite fiercely. They are never so tame, that their ferocity does not increase. Sphynxes are also included among apes. They have shaggy hair on their arms and are easily taught to forget their wild nature. Of satyrs There are also apes that men call satyrs. They have quite attractive faces, and are restless, making pantomimed gestures. The apes called callitrices differ from the others in almost every aspect of their appearance. They have bearded faces and broad tails. It is not difficult to catch them but they rarely survive in captivity. They do not live elsewhere than under the Ethiopian sky, that is their native sky.
I’ll admit, I find that whole tail business a bit confusing. Before continuing with the deer, I’ll note that A drink made from the tears and the heart bones of a stag is a cure for troubles of the heart was a common belief way back when, the ‘heart bones’ of a stag being in the shape of a cross. This interesting belief is a main plot point in This Night’s Foul Work, by Fred Vargas.
Of deer The word cervi (deer) comes from ceraton, ‘horns’, for horns are called cerata in Greek. Deer are the enemies of snakes; when they feel weighed down with weakness, they draw snakes from their holes with the breath of their noses and, overcoming the fatal nature of their venom, eat them and are restored. They have shown the value of the herb dittany, for after feeding on it, they shake out the arrows which have lodged in them. Deer marvel at the sound of the pipes; their hearing is keen when their ears are pricked but they hear nothing when their ears are lowered. Deer have this characteristic also, that they change their feeding-ground for love of another country, and in doing so, they support each other. When they cross great rivers or large long stretches of water, they place their head on the hindquarters of the deer in front and, following one on the other, do not feel impeded by their weight. When they find such places, they cross them quickly, to avoid sinking in the mire. They have another characteristic, that after eating a snake they run to a spring and, drinking from it, shed their long coats and all signs of old age.
The members of the holy Church seem to have a mentality corresponding to that of deer, because while they change their homeland, that is, the world, for love of the heavenly homeland, they carry each other, that is, the more perfect bring on and sustain the less perfect by their example and their good works. And if they find a place of sin, they leap over it at once, and after the incarnation of the Devil, that is, after committing a sin, they run, by their confession, to Christ, the true spring; drinking in his commandments, they are renewed, shedding their sin like old age. Stags, when it is time to rut, rage with the madness of lust. Does, although they may been inseminated earlier, do not conceive before the star Arcturus appears. They do not rear their young just anywhere but hide them with tender care, concealed deep in bushes or grass, and they make them stay out of sight with a tap of the hoof. When the young grow strong enough to take flight, the deer train them to run and to leap great distances. When deer hear the dogs barking, they move upwind taking their scent with them. They are scared rigid by everything, which makes them an easier mark for archers. Of their horns, the right-hand one is better for medical purposes. If you want to frighten off snakes, you should burn either. If deer have few or no teeth, it shows that they are old. In order to tell their age, Alexander the Great ringed a number of deer; when they were recaptured a century later they showed no sign of old age. The offspring of the deer are called hinnuli, fawns, from innuere, ‘to nod’, because at a nod from their mother, they vanish from sight.
The rennet of a fawn killed in its mother’s womb is a marvellous remedy against poisons. It is known that deer never grow feverish. For this reason ointments made from their marrow bring down sick men’s temperatures. We read that many men who have regularly eaten a small amount of venison since their early days have lived for a long time unaffected by fevers; but ultimately it fails them as a remedy if they are killed by a single blow.