“Hark to Sthenon!”

The hounds, as captured by photographer Peggy Maness

The hounds, as captured by photographer Peggy Maness

CAME across this advice from Xenophon this afternoon, complete with examples. The advice is good, but the names? Maybe not so much anymore.

“Give the hounds short names, so as to able to call them easily. The following are the right sort: Psyche, Thymus, Porpax, Styrax, Lonche, Lochus, Phrura, Phylax, Taxis, Xiphon, Phonax, Phlegon, Alke, Teuchon, Hyleus, Medas, Porthon, Sperchon, Orge, Bremon, Hybris, Thallon, Rhome, Antheus, Hebe, Getheus, Chara, Leusson, Augo, Polys, Bia, Stichon, Spude, Bryas, Oenas, Sterrus, Krauge, Kaenon, Tyrbas, Sthenon, Aether, Aktis, Aechme, Noes, Gnome, Stibon, Horme.”

That’s from Xenophon’s Cynegetica, written sometime around 400 B.C. You know, on second reading, I kind of like some of those names!

Meanwhile, more recently, in the 16th century Gervase Markham put forward this formula for composing the perfect symphony of hound music:

“If you would have your kennel for sweetness of cry, then you must compound it of some large dogs, that have deep, solemn Mouthes, and are swift in spending, which must as it were bear the base in the consort; then a double number of roaring and loud ringing Mouthes, which must bear the counter tenor; then some hollow plain sweet Mouthes, which must bear the mean or middle part: and so with these three parts of musick you shall make your cry perfect. … Amongst these you may cast in a couple or two small single beagles, which as small trebles may warble amongst them: the cry will be a great deal the more sweet.”

And, finally, George Tuberville (1540-1610) on “sundrie noyses of hounds”:

“As you heare hounds make sundry different noyses, so do we terme them by sunry termes: For hounds do call on, bawle, bable, crie, yearne, lapyse, plodde, baye, and such lyke other noyses. First when hounds are firste cast off and finde of some game or chace we say, ‘They call on.” If they be too busie before they finde the Sent good,  we say ‘They bawle.’ If they be too busie after they finde good Sent, we say ‘They bable.’ If they run it endwayes orderly and make it good, then when they holde in togethers merrily, we say, ‘They are in crie.’ When they are in earnest eyter in the chace or in the earth, we say ‘They yearne.’ When they open in the string (or a Greyhound in his course) we say ‘They lapyse.’ When they hange behinde and beate too much on one Sent or place, we say, ‘They plodde.’ And when they have eyther earthed a vermine, or brought a Deare, Bore, or such lyek, to turne head agaynst them, then we say ‘They baye.'”

Now, lest I bable, I will plodde to a halt and go feed ye dogges, who are telling me their sweet Mouthes are a good deal too hollow. But before I go, I’ve been hearing good things about our friend Paper, so we’ll check in on him again in our next post.

Many thanks to Peggy Maness for the use of the great photo accompanying this post!

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