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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The first story is of the creation of the first woman , Pandora . Prometheus had
tricked Zeus into choosing the offal of a sacrificed bull rather than the meat ' when
gods and mortal men were coming to a settlement at Mekone ' . 11 In his anger ...
And he hid fire ; but the noble son of Iapetos stole it for men from Zeus wise in
counsel , in a hollow fennel stalk , so that Zeus who delights in thunder did not
see it.12 ( Hesiod , Works and Days 42-53 ) Pandora is then created by
And three others placed at equal distance from it and from one another , lie rather
towards the spot where the sun sets in summer . In one of these the barbarians
relate that Cronus was imprisoned by Zeus , and that he [ Zeus ) , as his son ...
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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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