Birds in the Ancient World
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fascinating material for the modern reader.
Using quotations from well over a hundred classical Greek and Roman authors, all of them translated freshly into English, and nearly a hundred illustrations from ancient wall-paintings, pottery, and mosaics, Birds in the Ancient World illustrates the many different roles birds played in popular culture: as indicators of time, weather, and the seasons; as a resource for hunting, eating, medicine, and farming; as domestic pets and entertainments; and as omens and intermediaries between
the gods and humankind. There are also selections from early scientific writings about birds, as well as many anecdotes and descriptions from works of history, geography, and travel.
Jeremy Mynott acts as a stimulating guide to this varied material, using birds as a prism through which to explore both the similarities and the often surprising differences between ancient conceptions of the natural world and our own. His book is an original contribution to the flourishing interest in the cultural history of birds and to our understanding of the ancient cultures in which birds played such a prominent part.
Birds in the Natural World
1: The Seasons
Birds as a Resource
5: Hunting and Fowling
6: Cooking and Eating
Living with Birds
8: Captivity and Domestication
9: Sports and Entertainments
10: Relationships and Responsibilities
Invention and Discovery
11: Wonders: travellers' tales and tall stories
12: Medicine: folklore and science
13: Observation and Enquiry: the beginnings of ornithology
Thinking with Birds
14: Omens and Auguries
15: Magic and Metamorphosis
16: Signs and Symbols
Birds as Intermediaries
17: Fabulous Creatures
18: Messengers and Mediators
19: Mother Earth
20: Epilogue: then and now
Appendix: some bird lists from ancient sources
Biographies of authors quoted
Acknowledgements and picture credits
Shortlisted for the 2019 Wolfson History Prize