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A Raven’s Funeral, edited by Andrew Lang

 

In the days of Tiberius the Emperor, there was a young raven hatched in a nest upon the church of Castor and Pollux; which to make a trial how he could fly, took his first flight into a shoemaker’s shop just over against the said church. The master of the shop was well enough content to receive this bird, as commended to him from so sacred a place, and in that regard set great store by it. This raven in short time being acquainted to man’s speech, began to speak, and every morning would fly up to the top of the Rostra, or public pulpit for orations, when, turning to the open Forum or market place, he would salute and bid good-morrow to Tiberius Cæsar, and after him to Germanicus and Drusus, the young princes, every one by their names: and anon the people of Rome also that passed by. And when he had so done, afterwards would fly again to the shoemaker’s shop aforesaid. This duty practised, yea and continued for many years together, to the great wonder and admiration of all men.

Now it fell out so, that another shoemaker who had taken the next shop unto him, either upon a malicious envy or some sudden spleen and passion of anger, killed the raven. Whereat the people took such indignation, that they, rising in an uproar, first drove him out of that street, and made that quarter of the city too hot for him; and not long after murdered him for it. But contrariwise, the carcase of this raven was solemnly interred, and the funeral performed with all the ceremonial obsequies that could be devised. For the corpse of this bird was bestowed  in a coffin, couch, or bed, and the same bedecked with chaplets of fresh flowers of all sorts, carried upon the shoulders of two blackamoors, with minstrels before, sounding the haut-boys, and playing on the fife, as far as the funeral fire, which was piled and made in the right hand of the causey Appia, in a certain plain or open field.

The people accompany the body of the raven through the streets

A RAVEN’S FUNERAL

So highly reputed the people of Rome that ready wit and apt disposition in a bird, as they thought it a sufficient cause to ordain a sumptuous burial therefore.