Sabine R. Huebner
This chapter focuses on the practice of adoption and fosterage in the Eastern Mediterranean, a family strategy that is, compared with its equivalent in the Roman West, understudied. She traces the source material for adoption from ancient Near Eastern through classical Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman times up to late antiquity comparing the respective legal backgrounds and analyzing recorded cases that reveal motives of the adopter and age and status of the adoptee. In general, children or young adults (males as well as females) were adopted or taken in in place of natural children for a number of reasons, among them to provide a childless man or couple with an heir or to provide a destitute or orphaned child with a home and family. Marriage between an adopted and a natural child was a desired outcome of adoption in societies all over the Eastern Mediterranean.
Jeremy B. Lefkowitz
This chapter examines the tensions between the symbolic valence of anthropomorphic animals and authentic concerns about real animals in fables of ancient times. It provides an overview of sources and scholarly approach in this study of the Graeco-Latin fable and explores the boundaries between human and animal in early Greek fable-telling. This chapter suggests that the fable tradition occasionally eschews symbolism and anthropomorphism entirely, which reveals a deep and abiding interest in animal behaviour and in material that could be considered as natural history. It also mentions that the fable was linked to the lower classes and affiliated with slaves in antiquity.
W. Martin Bloomer
This chapter offers a child-centered account of the history of education in the Greek and Roman worlds. A sketch of the introduction and adaptation of training in literacy stresses the social purposes of this education. Ancient theory and ancient practice are described, both of which have important consequences for the life of the child and for the idea of the child and childhood. The physical requirements of schooling and the particular skills and attitudes attendant upon these are considered in an evaluation of the curriculum, particularly in the methods of learning to read, write, and speak.
This article focuses on fishing and fish farming in ancient Greece and Rome. It discusses evidence showing the important place occupied by fish and shellfish in Graeco-Roman culinary culture, as well as the impressive scale and sophistication of capture fisheries and fish farming in both societies. It also looks at the consumption of fish and seafood, along with wild game and certain exotic spices, fruits, and vegetables, as part of Graeco-Roman notions of a luxurious diet and as an important symbol of status. Moreover, it discusses the principal methods of net-fishing and line fishing used by the Greeks and Romans.
This chapter examines the discoveries and interpretations of fossil discoveries in ancient times. It analyses nearly one hundred accounts from more than thirty ancient authors, from Herodotus in the fifth century BC to Augustine in the fifth century AD. The evidence indicates that ancient Greeks and Romans collected, measured, compared, and displayed extraordinary fossil remains in temples as relics of the glorious past. The literary evidence also suggests that observations of large vertebrate fossils certainly influenced certain myths and popular beliefs in ancient times. This chapter also argues that ancient Graeco-Roman accounts of encounters with marine, plant, animal, and trace fossils that were expressed in mythological language were remarkably perceptive for a pre-scientific culture.
This chapter examines references to forms of animal communication in ancient Greek and Roman literature. It analyses prose texts from the fourth century BC until the third century AD, which include those of Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, and Aelian, in order to determine specific types of verbal and non-verbal interaction on the part of certain animals. This chapter also presents some findings from modern research in the natural and social sciences on animal communication and argues that ancient reflections on the characteristics of animal communication are to a large extent influenced by the generic or literary conventions of the texts in which they occur.
In ancient Greece and Rome, there is evidence that animal husbandry was a technically sophisticated and productive enterprise. Archaeozoological studies show that the size of livestock was considerably larger compared to Bronze Age, Iron Age, and the medieval period. Moreover, the species were remarkably diversified, ranging from domestic animals to fowl, wild game, and game-birds that were farmed for affluent and demanding urban consumers in the Mediterranean. In addition to an extensive knowledge of the normal behaviour and needs of the animals, ancient Greeks and Romans displayed excellent management of pastures and rangelands, expertise in veterinary care, and high standards of fodder and forage production. Improvements in Graeco-Roman animal husbandry can be attributed mainly to enhanced nutrition. Aside from domestic farm animals or some farmed game, dogs, cats, and exotic animals also played a role as pets or work animals. This article focuses on animal husbandry, including poultry and game farming, as practised by ancient Greeks and Romans.
This chapter examines the role of animals in magic in antiquity. It considers the four main ways by which the world of animals intersected with the world of magic in antiquity. These include the deployment of magic by animals against man, the deployment of magic against animals and the transformation of humans into animals. This chapter discusses two ancient parodies of the culture of animal-part magic and describes three ways in which animals were used in magic that were not specific to their own natures or to the powers of their constituent parts. It also analyses the culture of animal-deployment in magic in ancient Rome and Greece as described in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History.
In ancient Greece and Rome, animal sacrifice was performed as a ritual to communicate with the gods, heroes, and other divine beings. Such rituals were meant to ask the divine recipients for favours, protection, and help, or to appease them. Animal sacrifice, in which prayer was central, was also a way for human worshippers to know the will of the gods and often concluded with the distribution and consumption of the meat. Literary texts, inscriptions, images, and archaeological remains in the form of altars and other sacrificial installations, as well as animal bones, provide evidence of animal sacrifice during antiquity. In particular, the animal bones recovered from sanctuaries have yielded significant information about the handling of sacrificial animals, which ranged from dogs and horses to game, fish, and snakes. Aside from species, sex, age, and colour, an important factor for the choice of animal to be sacrificed was the economics involved.
This chapter examines the role of animals in divination in ancient times. It discusses ancient observers’ interpretation of signs coming from instinctive animal behaviour and from the structure of animal body parts. It explains the three main currents of philosophical thought on divination. Plato and Aristotle believed the divinatory insights to be tied with animal instinct and belong to a fringe form of cognition that is specifically connected with humans’ animal natures. On the other hand, the Stoics considered divination as an important piece of their understanding of the cosmos as a whole, and of humans as part of it.
This chapter examines the role of animals in triumphal processions in ancient Rome. It explains that Roman horses drew the chariot of the triumphator in the procession while Roman draught animals pulled wagons carrying spoils and prisoners. On the other hand, foreign animals, such as horses and elephants captured on the battlefield, were also paraded as prisoners. This chapter discusses the special case of the elephant, which was a captive foreign animal in the early third-century BC procession, but was taken up as a representative of the Roman side and used as an escort of the triumphator in the third century AD.
This chapter examines the place and role of animals in art history of the Classical period. It addresses questions concerning animal imagery within the visual culture of the ancient Mediterranean, the prominent place of animals in the canon of Classical art and the reception of specifically animal (as opposed to human) imagery within histories of art, as well as the use of art in the histories of animals. This chapter explains that artists throughout the Classical period paid close attention to the narrative, symbolic, and formal possibilities of animal depiction and animal forms populated many of the small items of day-to-day life. The theme that unites their works is that of human dominion over the animal kingdom.
This chapter examines the changing contexts in which animals feature in ancient Egypt, from Ptolemaic to Roman times. It explores the major parts roles played by animals: as divine avatars, as commodities, and as symbols. It explains that Egyptian deities were often accompanied in art by a strong animal element, some animals were considered sacred and others were used as sacrifice for the gods. Some animals were used as hunting companions and for food, though the Egyptians were highly selective in the animals they ate because of their religious belief. This chapter also discusses the role of animals as characters in myths and stories.
This chapter examines the role of animals in ancient epic poetry. It explains that throughout the Classical period an impressive range of creatures finds its way into the genre and these creatures functioned to contribute a moral message, signify the dynamic of a national group, behave as dynamic motivators within the very plot of the epic, and provide an element of fantasy. It suggests that the epic animal was in all respects a cultural creation and that the animal epithet served as a memory aid in the most practical of formulaic terms. This chapter mentions the number of references to animals in the Iliad and Aeneid.
Ingvild Sælid Gilhus
This chapter examines the treatment of animals from various texts during the period from late antiquity to early Christianity. It discusses the references to animals in the New Testament and their use for sacrifice in the Roman Empire. It considers texts about the desert ascetics’ description of the habitat of wild and dangerous animals and their encounters with them and the use of animals in allegories and fables to provide moral models that are based on biblical texts. This chapter also analyses the justification for eating meat and describes the changes in ancient conceptions of animals when Christianity became the dominant religion.
This chapter examines the role of animals in tragedy in ancient times. It analyses the ways animals participate in the tragic representation of the world and investigates how animal imagery and references to animals in tragedy operate in the middle ground between humans and animals. It reviews Sophocles’ Ajax to illustrate the ‘narratological’ function of animals in tragedy and describes how specific animal imagery is used to represent individual human character. This chapter argues that animals appear more clearly and strongly in tragedy than any other genre in the ancient world.
This chapter examines the use of animals in warfare in ancient times. It explains that some creatures deployed against enemies were involuntary zoological allies, such as herds of cattle and wasps, whose aggression leads them to attack human targets. Other animals were trained for specific purposes, such as dogs for sentry duty, mules and camels for carrying baggage, horses for cavalry mounts, and elephants for attacking. This chapter also mentions the use of oxen for transporting heavy siege engines and catapults and pigs against war elephants.
Since antiquity, speculations on the emergence of human life and the status of the embryo have prompted intense debates. How does fetal matter grow into a human being? When does it have a soul? Was it treated as a potential person or as just an extension of the mother’s body? No general agreement existed, but there was a plurality of viewpoints according to different medical, philosophical, and legal perspectives and to gender. Neither aborted nor newborn babies had their own right to life before social recognition by the father about one week after delivery. The absence of legal provision on infanticide until the third century CE is consistent with the uncertainties of the human status of the unborn displayed in ancient literature. Various written and iconographic sources, however, reflect the possible perception of the unborn child as a living being, worthy of divine protection, and directly addressed.
Stephen T. Newmyer
This chapter examines the views of ancient philosophers on the connection between humans and animals. It explains the preoccupation of ancient Greeks in investigating whether the relationship between human and non-human animals involves more analogy than polarity and more sameness than differentness, and on what grounds such a determination is to be made. It discusses the pre-philosophical musings in the epic poems of Homer and analyses the philosophical views of different philosophers including the Presocratics, the Sophists, Plato and his followers, Aristotle, Theophrastus, the followers of Epicurus, and the Stoics. This chapter highlights the fact that most of these philosophers almost never composed entire treatises devoted to animals, with the exception of Aristotle and Theophrastus.
Nigel M. Kennell
The Spartan citizen training system (agoge) has long been essential to the Spartan mirage. Current debate centers on the suitability of Hellenistic- and Roman-period material for reconstructing the Classical system. The relevant evidence yields a coherent picture that conforms generally to the traditional view of Spartan training—boys grouped into teams under a state official and girls publicly engaged in athletic and other pursuits—while highlighting notable differences. State euthanasia of disabled infants was not practiced. The system was not totalizing: boys might leave Sparta for several days, and fathers’ participation was vital to its functioning. Rather than training in a full range of athletic events, girls participated in ritual footraces, dances, and choral performances, probably while naked; such public activities made Spartan women notoriously self-confident. The system was closely linked with family life. When that link dissolved in the later fourth century BCE, Sparta’s distinctive way of life faltered.