Birds pervaded the ancient world. They impressed their physical presence on the daily experience and imaginations of ordinary people in town and country alike, and figured prominently in literature and art. They also provided a fertile source of symbols and stories in their myths and folklore, and were central to the ancient rituals of augury and divination. Jeremy Mynott's Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words brings together all this rich and 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.
About the Author
Jeremy Mynott, Former Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press, and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge Jeremy Mynott is the author of Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience (2009), a book exploring the variety of human responses to birds, described by reviewers as 'the finest book ever written about why we watch birds' (Guardian) and 'a wonderful rumination on birds and birders through space and time for anyone interested in our relationship with nature' (THES). He has also published an edition and translation of Thucydides in the series 'Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought' and, more recently, Knowing your Place, an account of the wildlife in a tiny Suffolk hamlet. He has broadcast on radio and television, and is a regular reviewer for the TLS and wildlife magazines, a founder member of 'New Networks for Nature', the former Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press, and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.