1st Edition

Monsters in Greek Literature
Aberrant Bodies in Ancient Greek Cosmogony, Ethnography, and Biology

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after May 30, 2021
ISBN 9780367556464
May 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
248 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Monsters in Greek literature are often thought of as creatures which exist in epic narratives, however, as this book shows, they appear in a much broader range of ancient sources and are used in creation narratives, ethnographic texts, and biology to explore the limits of the human body and of the human world.

This book provides an in-depth examination of the role of monstrosity in ancient Greek literature. In the past, monsters in this context have largely been treated as unimportant or analysed on an individual basis. By focusing on genres rather than single creatures, the book provides a greater understanding of how monstrosity and abnormal bodies are used in ancient sources. Very often ideas about monstrosity are used as a contrast against which to examine the nature of what it is to be human, both physically and behaviourally. This book focuses on creation narratives, ethnographic writing, and biological texts. These three genres address the origins of the human world, its spatial limits, and the nature of the human body; by examining monstrosity in these genres we can see the way Greek texts construct the space and time in which people exist and the nature of our bodies.

This book is aimed primarily at scholars and students undertaking research, not only those with an interest in monstrosity, but also scholars exploring cultural representations of time (especially the primordial and mythological past), ancient geography and ethnography, and ancient philosophy and science. As the representation of monsters in antiquity was strongly influential on medieval, renaissance, and early modern images and texts, this book would also be relevant to people researching these areas.

Table of Contents


List of abbreviations


Part 1 – Cosmogony

Chapter 1 – Hesiod's Theogony

Chapter 2 – The Orphic Theogonies

Part 2 – Ethnography

Chapter 3 – Herodotus

Chapter 4 – Ctesias and Megasthenes

Part 3 – Biology

Chapter 5 – Aristotle



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Fiona Mitchell is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her primary research interests are the representation of bodily abnormality in antiquity, creation narratives, and ancient conceptions of time. She has published chapters and articles on bodies in Greek cosomogic narratives and omens in Herodotus, and is the editor of the forthcoming collection Time and Chronology in Creation Narratives.