Aesop and the peacock

I had been given to believe that the peacock was introduced into Greece at around late fifth century BC, when it is described as a great novelty. But Aesop (c.620-564 BC) has several stories involving the peacock. Should I conclude that the peacock came to Greece before that time or that Aesop’s stories involving the peacock is of a later invention? Or perhaps that Aesop had seen the peacock on Samos, where it may have come to some time before Athens.

Aesop was probably Ethiopian (hence his name), and many of his stories feature animals more common in Africa than in Greece. It’s possible he encountered peafowl in his home country - Ethiopia, after all, is much closer to Persia and India than Greece, at least in terms of trade routes.

Or perhaps it’s even simpler: maybe actual living peacocks weren’t to be found in Greece before the 5th Century BC, but peacock *feathers *could have easily been brought in on the trade routes from India. It’s possible that the Greeks knew about the birds without ever actually seeing them.

But Aesop’s tale tells something of the peacock that would presumable require some knowledge of the bird, that it doesn’t fly so well (The Peacock and the Crane) and that this was common knowledge for his audience to understand the story. And a book I have on peacocks says that the earliest documentation of peacocks in Egypt comes from Ptolemaic Egypt: Christine E. Jackson. Peacock

Well, Ethiopia, seeing as it sits on the Indian Ocean, is much closer to India than Egypt is.

That aside, you and I could produce a few basic facts about animals *we’ve *never seen. Why do you assume that the Greeks were completely ignorant about the world outside their homeland?