Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Animals in Greek and Roman Thought

A Sourcebook, 1st Edition

By Stephen T. Newmyer


142 pages

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Although reasoned discourse on human-animal relations is often considered a late twentieth-century phenomenon, ethical debate over animals and how humans should treat them can be traced back to the philosophers and literati of the classical world. From Stoic assertions that humans owe nothing to animals that are intellectually foreign to them, to Plutarch's impassioned arguments for animals as sentient and rational beings, it is clear that modern debate owes much to Greco-Roman thought.

Animals in Greek and Roman Thought brings together new translations of classical passages which contributed to ancient debate on the nature of animals and their relationship to human beings. The selections chosen come primarily from philosophical and natural historical works, as well as religious, poetic and biographical works. The questions discussed include: Do animals differ from humans intellectually? Were animals created for the use of humankind? Should animals be used for food, sport, or sacrifice? Can animals be our friends?

The selections are arranged thematically and, within themes, chronologically. A commentary precedes each excerpt, transliterations of Greek and Latin technical terms are provided, and each entry includes bibliographic suggestions for further reading.


'For students and scholars of the ancient world new to the subject of animal studies, Newmyer’s sourcebook offers an excellent introduction. Individuals interested in the history of western thought on animals and the origins of the animal rights debate might be surprised to discover just how relevant ancient discourse concerning animal characteristics and what, if anything, human beings owe non-human animals is to contemporary debates. … I would eagerly include it among the required texts in an interdisciplinary humanities course focusing on the ancient environment, Greek and Roman attitudes towards nature, or animals in antiquity.'

– Susan A. Curry, The University of New Hampshire, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

Part 1. Animals as Beings A. The Intellect of Animals: Rational or Irrational? B. Human-Animal Kinship C. Animal Behaviors 1. Introductory 2. Rearing Offspring 3. Relation to the Environment: Prey and Predators 4. Helping Behaviors 5. Skills and Shortcomings 6. The Language of Animals Part 2. Human-Animal Relations A Animals as Moral Beings 1. Justice toward Animals 2. Justice from Animals B. Animals as Offerings : Hunting and Sacrifice C. Animals as Food: Vegetarianism and Its Opponents D. Animals as Sport: The Arena E. Animals as Friends: Kindness to Animals Texts Consulted Bibliography Passages Discussed

About the Author

Stephen T. Newmyer is Professor of Classics at the University of Pittsburgh.

About the Series

Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy


Why not download our Routledge FreeBook Identity in the Classical World? In addition to excerpts from other Routledge titles addressing the concept of identity in antiquity, this resource contains a chapter from Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook.

Click here for more information, and to access this FreeBook.