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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This also would lead to Ocean , at the very edge of the world , being seen as
some sort of primordial element ; Ocean is still a place out there where the chaos
of creation still goes on and so is capable of generation . Again , obviously , water
The world is encircled by the river Ocean , and the inhabitable lands are an
island earth around the Mediterranean . There are several features of this world
view important for an understanding of ancient ethnographic thinking . First ,
Ocean then is conceptually close to both Hesiod's notion of a primordial creative '
chasm ' of Chaos5 and also to the ideas of a primordial creative disorder of chaos
such as those expressed by the Presocratics and atomists . Ocean is 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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