Claudius Aelianus, Sections from On Animals

2.33 Dogs are less useful at keeping watch than geese, as the Romans discovered. At any rate the Celts were at war with them, and had thrust them back with overwhelming force and were in the city itself; indeed they had captured Rome, except for the hill of the Capitol, for that was not easy for them to scale. For all the spots which seemed open to assault by stratagem had been prepared for defence. It was the time at which Marcus Manlius, the consul, was guarding the aforesaid height as entrusted to him. (It was he, you remember, who garlanded his son for his gallant conduct, but put him to death for deserting his post.) But when the Celts observed that the place was inaccessible to them on every side, they decided to wait for the dead of night and then fall upon the Romans when fast asleep; and they hoped to scale the rock where it was unguarded and unprotected, since the Romans were confident that the Gauls would not attack from that quarter. And as a result Manlius himself and the Citadel of Jupiter would have been captured with the utmost ignominy, had not some geese chanced to be there. For dogs fall silent when food is thrown to them, but it is a peculiarity of geese to cackle and make a din when things are thrown to them to eat. And so with their cries they roused Manlius and the guards sleeping around him. This is the reason why up to the present day dogs at Rome annually pay the penalty of death in memory of their ancient treachery, but on stated days a goose is honoured by being borne along on a litter in great state.

16.19 Eudoxus says that the eastern Galatians ** act as follows, and if anyone regards his account as credible, he may believe it; if not, let him pay no attention to it. When locusts invade their country in clouds and damage the crops, they put up certain prayers and offer sacrifices warranted to charm birds. ** And the birds lend an ear and come in a united host and destroy the locusts. If however some Galatian should capture one of the birds, his punishment as laid down by the laws of the land is death. But if he is pardoned and let off, this throws the birds into a passion, and to avenge the captured bird they do not deign to respond if they do happen to be invoked again.

Translated by A.F.Scholfield (1958).