What is meant by the black ox?

The black ox symbolizes old age, ill luck, care, adversity or trouble and misfortune in general. “The black ox Las not trod on his nor her foot” is a proverbial expression recorded as early as 1546 by John Heywpod. It means that one does not know the meaning of sorrow, such as haying been visited by death. In Sapno and Phao, written by John [ 442 ] Lyly in 1591, we read: “Now crow’s foot is on her eye, and the black ox hath trod on her foot.” The phrase alludes to the black cattle sacrificed by the ancient pagans to the infernal deities, especially to Pluto, supreme . judge and lord .of the nether world. White cattle were sacrificed to Jupiter. At Rome the altar on which the black oxen were sacrificed was twenty feet below the level of the ground and was never .exposed to public view except when the sacrifices were being made. In 1923 Gertrude Atherton published a popular book entitled Blacfe Oxen. She took the title from the following line in “Countess Cathleen,” by the Irish poet and .dramatist William Butler Yeats: “The -years like great black oxen tread the -world.” Among the Arabs the “black camel” is the symbol of murder and death by .violence. The phrase was -used to denote death by Abd-el-Kader, Algerian Arab chieftain, and the BIack Camel is the title of a book by Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933), American novelist and playwright.