Strange Creatures: Anthropology in Antiquity
Bloomsbury Academic, 2006 M06 8 - 185 pages
Traces the anthropological and ethnological theories of the ancient Greeks and Romans from the creation of the world to the invention of the Americas. In ancient Greek and Roman thinking, whether the world is flat or spherical it will have imaginary boundaries and liminal areas where the norms of nature and culture are thought to break down. Analogies are constantly drawn between 'primitive' peoples at the 'edges of the world' and 'primitive' people in prehistory. Distance, both in time and space, leads to difference, and the idea that strange things happen out there or happened back then dominates Greek and Roman thinking on other cultures. This book examines ancient ideas of the creation of the world, the beginnings of life and origin of species, humans and animals, utopias and blessed islands, and 'barbarian' cultures beyond the Mediterranean world, before going on to trace the influence of ancient anthropological and ethnological thought on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.We begin with primordial chaos and end with the invention of the Americas, taking in on the way many strange creatures, among them the noble or ignoble savages of Britain, Gaul and Ireland, the Man-faced Ox-creatures of Empedocles, the Dog-heads of India, the Amazons, Centaurs, Columbus, and the Tupinamba of Brazil.
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Fortunate Isles have taken no part in the decline from the Hesiodic golden age
into the toils of Homeric epic nor further down to our present Iron Age . Horace
gives little geographical hint of the location of his blessed isles , but long before
Any real islands ' discovered out in the Atlantic will automatically be assimilated
into the myth of the Isles of the Blessed or the Fortunate Isles . And equally '
beyond the Pillars of Heracles ' will also be the ideal setting for completely
muth : Homer Suledge but this is cess of ratio of the myth : Homer ' s account of
the Isles of the Blessed was informed by ... Festus Avienus : From here it is a two -
day voyage to the Sacred Isle , for by this name the ancients called the island .
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The Origin of Life and the Origin of Species
Ancient Theories of Prehistory and the Evolution of Society
Blessed Islands and Blessed Lands
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