11 Feb 2006

Arrian on Coursing

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Loni Hancock thinks coursing is “barbaric,” and the practioners of such a practice are insensitive. Here’s a passage by the author of the earliest surviving account of the sport, written in an era when crucifixion of human beings was a routine punishment.

The true sportsman does not take out his dogs to destroy the hares, but for the sake of the race, and the contest between the dogs and the hare, and is glad if the hare escapes. And if she flies to some brake that is too thin to hide her, and seems to decline the contest, he will call off his dogs, especially if she has run well. I myself often, when I have followed the course on horseback, and have come up in time enough to save the hare alive, have taken her from the dogs, and tied them up, and let her go. And sometimes, when I have come up too late to save her, I have not been able to avoid striking myself on the head in chagrin at so good an antagonist being killed by the dogs.

Arrian (c.87 – After 145 A.D.), Cynegetica, 16:4-5.

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