This paper is a detailed study of a short bilingual proverb about exotic animals. It is suggested that one of these animals is an Indian rhinoceros, and that the proverb is the earliest textual reference to this animal in world history. In support of this suggestion a comprehensive investigation of the evidence for rhinoceroses in Mesopotamia is presented, and a wide array of comparative material from ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, Persia, and Arabia is adduced. Alongside the discussion of the animals involved, the form and structure of the proverb is investigated, with consideration of the ways in which its poetic quality influenced its construction, and of the nuances behind the concluding simile.
MesopotamiaProverbBilingualAnimalsDonkeyConstruction of MeaningPoetic