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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A Barbarian in the strictest sense is anyone who does not speak Greek.2 The
word is onomatopoeic , and describes the ... But the Scythians are real
Barbarians in the more modern sense of the word , even the Barbarians '
Barbarians , and ...
... between their languages they must all speak the same language ; in fact they
meet the criteria for Barbarians . ... but as people whose savagery is expressed
by the attributes possessed by many ancient stereotypically barbarian peoples .
Of course , similar things could be said about any Barbarians . As Hartog puts it : '
Without Greeks there would be no Barbarians , but equally without Barbarians
there would be no Greeks ' ( 2001 , 80 ) . But the Scythians are an extreme case ...
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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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