An erudite and amusing letter to The Times

Sir, The Romans kept ring-necked parakeets as pets (letters, Oct
). Pliny describes them in his Natural History. “India sends us the
parakeet . . . its body is green marked by a red collar round the neck. It
greets its master and repeats words it hears, being especially lively when
given wine.”

Two of these parakeets are depicted in a mosaic floor of the Villa Dionysos at
Knossos in Crete (2nd century AD). They are accurately drawn, almost
certainly from life, and are shown with a large wine krater between them —
they were probably family pets. They can be seen on the website of the
British School at Athens, at The parakeets are in
Room N1.

Has anyone here tried putting wine in a bird bath?

Sara Paton

London W4


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