Further Parrot Boxes?

According to one classicist, whose name slips from my mind, Greek philosopher Socrates was also the proud owner of a parrot box. To quote the anonymous scholar: ‘The box took the form of a small stone casket, with a carved frieze running around its five sides. The sculptor was almost certainly Phidias’. Unfortunately, he or she says nothing about the content of the frieze, which leads us to wonder whether parrots were featured here, or whether the pentagonal box had a parrot-related function. The fact that it is called a casket suggests that it might have contained the corpse of a parrot; an old friend, perhaps, with whom the famous thinker used to share his deepest, or most perfect thoughts.

Yet another man who may have owned a parrot box was nonsense-poet and bird-sketcher extraordinaire, Mr Edward Lear. Evidence is, again, lacking – though speculation remains rife. Is it not possible that he kept his artistic equipment in a parrotesque container? One imagines a sturdy wooden case, filled with watercolour paints and pencils, decorated with a rough yet distinguished drawing of a young red-capped parrakeet. Or might he have made a pristine parrot box in which to carry his prodigous parrot book? The mind flies hither and thither, ever-searching for answers.

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