The Culture of Animals in Antiquity : A Sourcebook with Commentaries book cover
1st Edition

The Culture of Animals in Antiquity
A Sourcebook with Commentaries

ISBN 9780367580940
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
778 Pages

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Book Description

The Culture of Animals in Antiquity provides students and researchers with well-chosen and clearly presented ancient sources in translation, some well-known, others undoubtedly unfamiliar, but all central to a key area of study in ancient history: the part played by animals in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. It brings new ideas to bear on the wealth of evidence – literary, historical and archaeological – which we possess for the experiences and roles of animals in the ancient world.

Offering a broad picture of ancient cultures in the Mediterranean as part of a wider ecosystem, the volume is on an ambitious scale. It covers a broad span of time, from the sacred animals of dynastic Egypt to the imagery of the lamb in early Christianity, and of region, from the fallow deer introduced and bred in Roman Britain to the Asiatic lioness and her cubs brought as a gift by the Elamites to the Great King of Persia. This sourcebook is essential for anyone wishing to understand the role of animals in the ancient world and support learning for one of the fastest growing disciplines in Classics.

Table of Contents


1. Taxonomies: making sense of animals

2. Domestic animals

a) Mammals

ox; goat; sheep; pig; horse; donkey/mule; camel; dog; weasel; cat; human

b) Birds

goose; duck; chicken; dove/pigeon; quail; parrot; peacock; pheasant

c) Insects


3. Wild animals

a) Mammals

deer/antelope; gazelle; bear; lion; leopard; jackal; hyena; wolf; fox; badger; mole; hare/rabbit; hedgehog; mongoose; rat; mouse; bat; seal; dolphin; whale; aurochs; elk; elephant; hippopotamus; rhinoceros; giraffe; cheetah; tiger; monkey

b) Birds

crow/raven; sparrow; nightingale; owl; falcon/hawk; eagle; vulture; crane/stork; swan; water birds; hoopoe; ostrich

c) Reptiles and amphibians

crocodile; tortoise/turtle; frog/toad; lizard; snake

d) Insects and molluscs

ant; cricket/cicada; locust; scorpion; scarab beetle; spider; fly; butterfly/moth; flea; louse; weevil; snail

e) Marine creatures

fish; shark; octopus; crab; oyster; murex

4. Working animals

agriculture; transport; performing animals; hunting; warfare

5. Pets

dogs; cats; primates; other mammals; birds; reptiles and insects

6. Sport

entertainment; animal fights; hunting

Index animalium

Index of classical authors

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Sian Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of St Andrews, where she teaches Greek and Roman history, historiography and art. She specialises in Greek political and social history of the classical period. Her publications include News and Society in the Greek Polis (1996), Greek Tyranny (2010) and two collections of essays, Ancient Tyranny (2006) and Tyranny: New Contexts (2016). She has also written extensively on Greek gender and iconography, including The Athenian Woman: An Iconographic Handbook (2002) and (as co-editor) The World of Greek Vases (2010). She is currently editing the Antiquity volume of Bloomsbury’s Cultural History of the Media, and developing a project to study animal lives in the classical world.

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is Professor of Ancient History at Cardiff University. His research focuses on the Persian Empire, Achaemenid monarchy and the Persian court as well as Greek socio-cultural history, ancient gender and Hellenistic civilisation. He is the author of Aphrodite’s Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece (2003), King and Court in Ancient Persia (2013), the co-author of Ctesias’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient (2010), and the editor of volumes on Greek historiography, ancient dress and gender, and the co-editor of Creating a Hellenistic World (2010) and the forthcoming The Hellenistic Court. He is the Series Editor of Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia, and the Series Co-Editor of Screening Antiquity. He is currently co-authoring a book on Ptolemaic queens and a monograph, Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World.



"Llewellyn-Jones and Lewis have produced an ambitious and though-provoking work which will be essential reading for all those wishing to inform themselves about the roles and functions of animals in the ancient Mediterranean world."

- Julia Kindt, University of Sydney, Australia


"This volume testifies to the fact that animals have become one of the core themes in research on Graeco-Roman antiquity. It gives easy access to a plethora of important sources (ranging from 3000 B.C. to A.D. 600) and illustrates the numerous ways in which animals were reflected on in the ancient world. The documents covered here (written texts in translation, material remains and art) provide useful evidence on eighty-four different species, including mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, crustaceans and molluscs. One of the many virtues of this substantial book is that it transcends the traditional temporal and geographical boundaries of studies on the ancient world. Readers will find it an instructive treasure trove of information."

- Thorsten Fögen, Durham University, UK


"This book marks a milestone in the bibliography on animals in ancient times. It will be of great use and it is naturally called to take a large place as a working tool."

- Christophe Chandezon, Université de Montpellier, France, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018