Birds pervaded the ancient world, impressing their physical presence on the daily experience and imaginations of ordinary people and figuring prominently in literature and art. They provided a fertile source of symbols and stories in myths and folklore and were central to the ancient rituals of augury and divination.
Jeremy Mynott's Birds in the Ancient World illustrates the many different roles birds played in 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.
We learn how birds were perceived - through quotations from well over a hundred classical Greek and Roman authors, all of them translated freshly into English, through nearly 100 illustrations from ancient wall-paintings, pottery and mosaics, and through selections from early scientific writings, and many anecdotes and descriptions from works of history, geography and travel.
Jeremy Mynott acts as a stimulating guide to this rich and fascinating 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.
- A fresh account of Ancient Greek and Roman civilisation illustrated through the relationship between humankind and birds. - Explores the numerous and varied roles birds played in daily life: as portents of weather, markers of time, their use in medicine, hunting, and farming, and also as messengers of the gods. - Wide-ranging account of a huge body of historical and cultural material with extensive quotations in translation from over 100 Greek and Roman authors. - Nearly 100 color illustrations from ancient wall-paintings, pottery and mosaics. - Thought-provoking comparisons with modern attitudes to birds and the natural world.