Since the first descriptions of the ostrich, this weird creature – cloven-hoofed like a camel, with a neck sprinkled with hairs and feathers unfit to fly – did not fail to cause astonishment. A hybrid being with undecided limits, one that can be also considered as a kind of crossing point between terrestrial beasts and birds, this animal is as embarrassing to name as to categorize. That the ostrich belongs to two genders gives it a status of its own, and the paper will examine what antique authors say about this – be they historians, geographers, rhetoricians or poets. The paper will then study what aspects of antique thought were kept and reproduced by medieval scholars, authors of moralized bestiaries and doxograph encyclopedists.
ostrich, bird, quadruped, hybridity, bestiaries.