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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Unlike ourselves today they do not suffer disease , and , while they are not
immortal , they never grow old , but die peacefully as if going to sleep : they are
not , perhaps , ever killed in warfare , farming accidents , or drowned at sea .
Seafaring itself is closely linked to warfare : without the stimulus of greed there is
no motive for international aggression by sea . Similarly , without property there
can be no greed for more and thus no seafaring or warfare . The invention of ...
We learn that they kill and eat their enemies captured in warfare , but we are told
that they do not eat human flesh for the sake of food , but for the sake of revenge .
Similarly , their warfare is not for conquest and gain but again for honour and ...
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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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