ὁ ταών, -ῶνος – a peacock.
(As a 3rd declension noun it can be found in the Septuagint, Plutarch, & Galen. The word also occurs in the ‘Attic’ declension: nom. ταώς, gen. ταώ, dat. ταῴ, acc. ταών. Pl. nom. ταῴ, gen. ταών, dat. ταῴς, acc. ταώς.)
ὁ ταὼν κάλλιστoς μέν ἐστιν ὄρνις, ἀλλἀ καὶ ἄτοπος· μόγις γὰρ πέτεται τῶν πολλῶν καὶ μεγάλων πτερύγων ἕνεκα. τοῖς δὲ Χριστιανοῖς ὁ ταὼν σύμβολικὸν ζῷόν ἐστι · λέγουσιν γὰρ ὅτι ὁ ταὼν περιπατῶν τέρπεται τῷ ἰδίῳ κάλλει, ὅταν δὲ ἴδῃ τοὺς πόδας αὑτοῦ, ἀγρίως κλαίει, ὅτι αἰσχροί εἰσιν· οὕτως δεῖ καὶ ἡμᾶς τὰ ἡμετέρα καλὰ φιλεῖν, τὰ δὲ κακά μισεῖν, ὡς γράφει ὁ Φυσιολόγος·
“ὁρῶν τὰ ἀγαθά σου, ἅ σοι ἔδωκεν ὁ Θεός, τέρπου καὶ εὐφραίνου καὶ ἀγάλλου τῇ ψυχῇ·ὅταν δὲ βλέπῃς τοὺς πόδας σου, τουτέστι τὰ ἁμαρτήματά σου, φώνησον καὶ κλαῦσον πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ μίσησον τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, ὥσπερ ὁ ταὼν τοὺς πόδας αὑτοῦ.“
The peacock is a most beautiful bird, but also a strange one because it hardly ever flies due to its many big feathers. For the Christians the peacock is a symbolic animal: They say that walking around it admires its own beauty but upon seeing its feet it cries out fiercely because they are so ugly. In the same manner we, too, should love what is good about us but hate what is bad, as says the Physiologus:
“Upon seeing the good that God has given you rejoice and be glad and proud in your soul but whenever you see your feet, i.e. your sins, cry out and lament to God, and hate the sin as the peacock hates its feet.”