Gustulum

chicken-lovers-day_hen-chick1544

Iamque iis poculis mutuis altercantibus mirabile prorsus evenit ostentum. una de cetera cohorte gallina per mediam cursitans aream clangore genuino velut ovum parere gestiens personabat. eam suus dominus intuens, “o bona” inquit “ancilla et satis fecunda, quae multo iam tempore cotidianis nos partubus saginasti. nunc etiam cogitas, ut video, gustulum nobis praeparare.” et “heus,” inquit “puer, calathum fetui gallinaceo destinatum angulo solito collocato.” ita uti fuerat iussum procurante puero, gallina consuetae lecticulae spreto cubili ante ipsos pedes domini praematurum sed magno prorsus futurum scrupulo prodidit partum. non enim ovum, quod scimus, illud; sed pinnis et unguibus et oculis et voce etiam perfectum edidit pullum, qui matrem suam coepit continuo comitari.
(Apuleius, Met. 9.33.4-6)

Then, as they were conversing and sharing cups of wine, a truly remarkable portent occurred. One of the flock of hens began running round the middle of the yard cackling in the usual way, as if she wanted to lay an egg. Her master looked at her and said, “What a good, productive girl you are! You have been fattening us such a long time now with your daily deliveries. Now too, I see, you are planning to prepare us our appetiser. Boy,” he went on, “put the basket that is kept for the laying hens in its usual corner.” The slave made the preparations just as he was ordered, but the hen spurned the nest of her customary couch and laid her egg right at her master’s feet. The delivery was premature but destined to cause very great anxiety, for it was not an egg as we know them that she laid, but a fully developed chick with feathers and claws and eyes and a chirp, and it immediately began to follow its mother around. (tr. John Arthur Hanson)

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