1st Edition

Animals in Ancient Greek Religion

Edited By Julia Kindt Copyright 2021
    320 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides the first systematic study of the role of animals in different areas of the ancient Greek religious experience, including in myth and ritual, the literary and the material evidence, the real and the imaginary.

    An international team of renowned contributors shows that animals had a sustained presence not only in the traditionally well-researched cultural practice of blood sacrifice but across the full spectrum of ancient Greek religious beliefs and practices. Animals played a role in divination, epiphany, ritual healing, the setting up of dedications, the writing of binding spells, and the instigation of other ‘magical’ means. Taken together, the individual contributions to this book illustrate that ancient Greek religion constituted a triangular symbolic system encompassing not just gods and humans, but also animals as a third player and point of reference.

    Animals in Ancient Greek Religion will be of interest to students and scholars of Greek religion, Greek myth, and ancient religion more broadly, as well as for anyone interested in human/animal relations in the ancient world.

    On Gods, Humans, and Animals Julia Kindt

    Part 1: Perspectives

    1. The ‘Entanglement’ of Gods, Humans, and Animals in Ancient Greek Religion Jeremy McInerney

    2. Sources for the Study of Animals in Ancient Greek Religion Ingvild Sælid Gilhus

    3. Approaches: The Animal in the Study of Ancient Greek Religion Emily Kearns

    Part 2: Representations

    4. Gods and Heroes, Humans and Animals in Ancient Greek Myth Hannah Willey

    5. The Theriomorphism of the Major Greek Gods Jan Bremmer

    6. Greek Anthropomorphism vs. Egyptian Zoomorphism: Conceptual Considerations in Greek Thought and Literature Julia Kindt

    7. Philosophers on Animals in Ancient Greek Religion James Henderson Collins II

    Part 3: Beliefs and Practices

    8. Caloric Codes: Ancient Greek Animal Sacrifice Fritz Graf

    9. Animals in Ancient Greek Divination: Oracles, Predictions, and Omens Julia Kindt

    10. Animals in Ancient Greek Dedications Milette Gaifman

    11. Animals in Asclepian Medicine: Myth, Cult, and Miracle Healings Florian Steger and Frank Ursin

    12. Circe’s Ram: Animals in Ancient Greek Magic Korshi Dosoo

    Gods, Humans, and Animals Revisited Julia Kindt



    Julia Kindt is Professor of Ancient Greek History in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney, Australia, and a current Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2018–22). Her publications include Rethinking Greek Religion (2012) and Re-visiting Delphi: Religion and Storytelling in Ancient Greece (2016), as well as several co-edited volumes including The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion (2015).

    The editor does an excellent job of framing the whole with a separate introduction and a concluding chapter, and the opening three chapters by McInerney, Gilhus, and Kearns are suggested reading for those new to ancient animal studies, religious or otherwise. Together these contributions offer sensible historiography and valuable bibliography and establish several recurring themes: the entanglement of human, animal, and supernatural; the diversity and place of animals in religious thought and cult; the evolving nature of ancient Greek religion. Although blood sacrifice has long been the focus of animals in Greek religion, this book gently prods us to reconsider its centrality. The non-Greek comparisons with the ancient Near East and Egypt, and with modern India, may especially appeal to some readers.

    Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia, Religious Studies Review


    This volume provides great insight and a range of stimulating papers focused around a topic of great interest. The diversity of approaches and materials and the interesting nature of the case studies analysed considerably enrich our knowledge of and reflections on animals across the full spectrum of ancient Greek religious beliefs and practices.

    Bruno D'AndreaARYS: Antiquity, Religions and Societies