1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Relations in the Byzantine World

Edited By Przemysław Marciniak, Tristan Schmidt Copyright 2025
    512 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Animals have recently become recognized as significant agents of history as part of the ‘animal turn’ in historical studies. Animals in Byzantium were human companions, a source of entertainment and food - it is small wonder that they made their way into literature and the visual arts. Moreover, humans defined themselves and their activities by referring to non-human animals, either by anthropomorphizing animals (as in the case of the Cat-Mice War) or by animalizing humans and their (un)wanted behaviours.

    The Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Relations in the Byzantine World offers an in-depth survey of the relationships between humans and non-human animals in the Byzantine empire. The contributions included in the volume address both material (zooarchaeology, animals as food, visual representations of animals) and immaterial (semiotics, philosophy) aspects of human-animal coexistence in chapters written by leading experts in their field.

    This book will appeal to students and scholars alike researching Byzantine social and cultural history, as well as those interested in the history of animals. This book marks an important step in the development of animal studies in Byzantium, filling a gap in the wider research on the history of human-animal relations in the Middle Ages.

    Byzantine Animal Studies – History Beyond Humans

    Przemysław Marciniak and Tristan Schmidt


    Part 1: What do “They” Mean to “Us”? Theoretical Perspectives on Byzantine Animals


    More Than Meets the Eye: The Semiotics of Animals in Byzantium

    Tristan Schmidt


    Timotheus of Gaza and the Zoological Collection of Constantine VII. Two Byzantine Treatises

    Arnaud Zucker


    Christianising Animals: Physiologus and Hexaemeral Literature

    Stavros Lazaris


    Animal Rationality in Byzantine Philosophy and Islamic Philosophy

    Bligh Somma and Melpomeni Vogiatzi


    Part 2: Literary and Figurative Discourses on Animals


    Unsung Heroes of Byzantine Hagiography: The Role of Animals in Martyrs’ Passions

    Christodoulos Papavarnavas


    Animals in Byzantine Historical Writing

    Stephanos Efthymiadis


    Animals in Legal Sources

    Johannes Koder


    Animals in Satire

    Kirsty Stewart


    Man, Beast and Nature: Descriptions of Hunting in Byzantine Literature

    Charis Messis and Ingela Nilsson


    Animals in Byzantine Mosaics

    Henry Maguire


    Animals in Byzantine Manuscripts

    Nancy P. Ševčenko


    Part 3: Material Animals in Byzantium


    Animals as a Source of Food During the Byzantine Period. Dietetic Advice and Dietary Reality.

    Maciej Kokoszko and Zofia Rzeźnicka


    More than Food – Animal Bone Finds as a Source for Different Research Questions

    Henriette Baron


    Animals as Diplomatic Gifts: From Species to Political Uses

    Nicolas Drocourt


    Animals We Love: Pets and Companion Animals in Byzantium?

    Przemysław Marciniak


    It Was Not Easy Being a Mouse in Constantinople: Some Notes on the Role of Mice in Byzantine Life and Literature

    Katarzyna Piotrowska


    Przemysław Marciniak is a Research Professor and the Director of the Center for Byzantine Studies at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. His research focuses on Byzantine performative culture, the reception of Byzantium, and recently on animals and nature in the Byzantine world. His publications include articles on Byzantine entomology and a co-edited volume on the reception of Byzantium in the popular imagination.

    Tristan Schmidt is Assistant Professor at the Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach, Poland. His research is focused on human-nature relations in the Byzantine world as well as on the aristocracy and military leadership between the 11th and 13th centuries in Byzantium. His animal-related publications include a monograph on animal imagery in Byzantine political discourse, studies on concepts of animal agency in Byzantine texts and on ecological awareness in Byzantine society.