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Aulus Gellius 10.2

Translation copyright 2000 Neil W. Bernstein; all rights reserved.

What Aristotle related concerning the number of offspring in a single labor.

  1. The philosopher Aristotle related that an Egyptian woman gave birth to five children in a single labor. (1) He said that this is the limit for multiple births in human beings; nor did he know of more being born simultaneously, and furthermore this number was extremely rare.
  2. But the historians of the reign of the deified Augustus wrote that a slave of Caesar Augustus gave birth to five children in the Laurentian territory. They lived only a few days, and their mother died not long after the delivery. By order of Augustus a monument was erected to her on the Laurentian road with the number of births (which we mentioned) inscribed on it.

Notes:

  1. Cf. Aristotle, History of Animals 7.4 (page 584, line 29); Pliny, Natural History 7.33.

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