Of the Hyena

There is an animal called the hyena, which inhabits the tombs of the dead and feeds on their bodies. Its nature is that it is sometimes male, sometimes female (...). Since its spine is rigid, all in one piece, it cannot turn round except by turning its body right around. (...) [I]t stalks the sheepfolds of shepherds and circles their houses by night, and by listening carefully learns their speech, so that it can imitate the human voice, in order to fall on any man whom it has lured out at night. The hyena also [imitates] human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with faked sounds of retching. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow behind, they lose their voices and cannot bark. In its search for buried bodies, the hyena digs up graves. (...) This beast has a stone in its eyes, called hyenia; anyone who keeps it under his tongue is believed to foretell the future. It is true that if the hyena walks three times around any animal, the animal cannot move. For this reason men declare that the hyena has magical properties.

The Aberdeen Bestiary, ca 1200


From: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/translat/11v.hti
transcription and translation by Morton Gauld and Colin McLaren,
University of Aberdeen