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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10 Thales , traditionally the earliest of the Greek physicists , seems to have held
that only one element , water , was ... 15 ) Xenophanes posits earth and water as
creative opposites : All things that come to be and grow are earth and water .
Lastly , we are all sprung from celestial seed ; all have that same father , from
whom our fostering mother earth receives liquid drops of water , and then
teeming brings forth bright corn and luxuriant trees and the race of mankind ,
brings forth ...
This idea shows clear similarities to both the mythological stories of
autochthonous birth directly from the soil , and to Hephaestus or Prometheus
moulding humans from earth and water . The only detail added is that of heat
acting upon the ...
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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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