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Cruelty and Sentimentality: Greek Attitudes to Animals 600-300 BC

Louise Calder
Beazley Archive - Studies in Classical Archaeology


This study examines Greek archaeological and literary evidence between 600 and 300 BC, to discover how ancient Greeks regarded, interacted with, used, and treated tame and domestic animals. Also included are some of the more frequently encountered wild pest species, selected on the basis of their appearance in art and literature. Of primary interest are relationshAs between human and animal well-being. One of the significant problems in studying ancient Greece is that surviving literary and artistic evidence strongly emphasises élite values and activities, leaving the commonplace relatively untreated. The purpose of this work is to attempt recovery of ordinary, everyday human-animal relationshAs, to enhance our understanding of animals’ fundamental social and practical roles in ancient Greece. Thus the focus is not the depiction of animals as art, or narratives about them, but literary evidence, artefacts, and animal remains as historical records, revealing a Greek social history of human-animal relationshAs. To discuss the entirety of human-animal interactions in the ancient Greek world would require numerous volumes. Some limitation is necessary. This has been achieved by investigating only chosen themes, and by biological class and species exclusions. It is hoped that this will allow the presentation of an adequately representative analysis, taking into account a sufficient sample of creatures.