By Edward Kelting (University of California San Diego)
Greco-Roman animal fable was a genre bound up in systems of inequality. Ancient vitae regularly claim that key authors of fable, whether its famed inventor Aesop or later practitioners like Phaedrus, were born in slavery (VA 1, Phaedrus 3.prol). The central role of slavery as a frame for fable’s development is made clear in the Life of Aesop, which coordinates Aesop’s manumission with his divinely given mastery of the fable form (VA 7).
By Sian Lewis (University of St Andrews)
animi laxandi causa modo piscabatur hamo, modo talis aut ocellatis nucibusque ludebat cum pueris minutis, quos facie et garrulitate amabilis undique conquirebat, praecipue Mauros et Syros. (Suet. Aug. 83)
By Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne (University of Virginia)
Physiognomy is the practice of evaluating human character through bodily features, often in comparison with the physical attributes of animals. The zoological premises of physiognomy appear as early as the Old Babylonian Empire and underwent systematic study in the ps.-Aristotelian Physiognomonica (Raina 1994, Böck 2010). But it was during the Second Sophistic that physiognomy attained peak popularity, as orators mesmerized audiences with embodied performances (Evans 1969, Gleason 1995 and 2002).
By Eleni Manolaraki (University of South Florida)
From Homeric similes to Roman venationes, mammals dominate ancient thinking about animals. Insects, on the other hand, are inessential. Too minute to scrutinize and too alien to anthropomorphize, insects feature predominantly in ‘technical’ narratives (Davies & Kathirithamby 1986, Jackson 1986). But a few exceptions – including ants, bees, beetles, cicadas, and wasps – have mythic-literary biographies with stimulating counterparts to those of mammals.
By Ellen Finkelpearl (Scripps College)
Animal Difference: Re-conceptualizing physis in Aelian
Contemporary trends in Critical Animal Studies have moved beyond the anthropocentric “the animal is useful to think with” to an animal-centered approach, respect for animal difference, and a search for animal perspectives (e.g. Harel 2009; Calarco 2015, Griffin 2001). Did Imperial animal-centered texts recognize and appreciate animal difference?