Macrone, Michael 1999 Brush up your classics! Gramercy Books Random House, NY pp 238 CANARY
Juba reports that one of the Fortunate Isles is called Canaria after the multitude of huge canines who live there (two of which were brought back to him); the ruins of building are visible there; and while there is an abundance of fruits and birds of all species, date-bearing palms and pine trees also abound; there is also a copious supply of honey, papyrus too, and sheat-fish spawining in the streams; they are infested by beasts which are constantly cast up, totting. .... Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 6, chapter 37
Why is a bird named after a dog? The little yellow sonsgbirds we call canaries have little green ancestors who once lived on what are now Spain's Canary Islands. You might think that the islands are named after the birds, but according to Pliny such is not the case. "Canary" derives rather from the Latin word canis, "dog", and the name Canaria was given to one of these islands because of its population of fearsomely huge canines. Both the dogs and the birds were brought back to the Continent, but while the latter prospered, the former have since become extinct. the name Canaria, however, stuck to both the islands and the birds.
We owe the name to King Juba II of Mauretania, a friend of Caesar Augustus. Juba sent out expeditions to explore the African coast and its proximate islands, and it was one of these expeditions that happened upon the Canary Islands, which were supposed at the time to be the legendary "Fortunate Isles". The Greeks believed that the gods sent virtuous souls and particularly blessed mortals to these Isles as a sort of super retirement home.
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