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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991 - 8 ) With this highly mythologically charged language Lucretius gives a
rationalisation of the Hieros Gamos ; we may call the sky a father since he
fertilises the earth with rain , and the earth a mother since she does indeed give
birth to all ...
30 ( Plato , Protagoras 320c321d ) Plato gives us a nice mixture of myth and
philosophy . We see the gods moulding all the creatures , and they use traditional
Presocratic elements . Then they hand the task of sorting them into species on to
The historian Diodorus Siculus gives a slightly different explanation : [ In the
eastern portion of Arabia ) arise goat - stags ... to the equator takes in a great deal
of the sun ' s most generative force , and thus gives rise to species of fine beasts .
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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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