What role did animals play in antiquity? As we ourselves continue to do today, the Ancient Greeks and Romans interacted with dogs, horses, and chickens; they had farms, livery stables, aquariums; and they engaged in animal husbandry. They loved their pets, while they killed and ate others (perhaps after having sacrificed them to honour a deity). They were familiar with and used wild or fierce animals, or exotic ones such as elephants and parrots. The ancients’ imagination also featured alien creatures that were believed to populate faraway countries, such as India and Ethiopia, the purported homes of the manticore, the cynocephalus and the griffin. Dinosaur fossils were considered proof of the existence of the cyclops, the pegasus, the chimera and the bull-man. This book provides an evocative overview of a vanished world’s exoticism.
Pietro Li Causi teaches literary subjects at the S. Cannizzaro upper secondary school and heads the “GDRI Zoomathia (Cultural Transmission of Zoological Knowledge – Antiquity-Middle Ages)” network in Palermo.