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date: 01 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the fascination for exotic and wondrous animals in Classical antiquity. It explains that the location of these wondrous animals was determined largely by ancient concepts of climatic conditions in different regions of the earth and knowledge about them came from diverse sources such as ancient travelogues, scientific treatises, and encyclopedic works. Pliny the Elder’s extensive catalogue in Book 7 of his Natural History (20–32) became the definitive account for most later writers into the middle ages. This chapter also describes some of the most celebrated animal wonders in the East, which include the martichores and basilisks, and discusses how the animal wonders of antiquity achieved a lasting stability in the collective consciousness.

Keywords: animal wonders, classical antiquity, climatic conditions, Pliny the Elder, Natural History, martichores, basilisks, collective consciousness

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