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Birds And Beasts of the Greek Anthology

by Norman Douglas

Chapman and Hall Ltd.
London, 1928

While not dealing with the middle ages directly, this book is of interest in the study of the bestiary genre. It explores the appearance of animals in the the Greek Anthology, a collection of lyrical poems, epigrams, oracles, epitaphs and enigmas written by many Greek authors of antiquity. Medieval authors of beast texts were influenced by these poems; even if they did not have access to the poems themselves, they certainly had indirect access through later Latin authors (such as Pliny the Elder) who used many of the animal descriptions in their own works. Beast tales found in the Anthology are are also found, relatively unchanged, in medieval texts.

Norman Douglas (1868-1952) was born in Austria to a Scottish father and a Scottish-German mother. He entered the British Foreign Office in 1893 and served as a diplomat in St. Petersburg. Douglas purchased property on Capri, but after financial difficulties in 1907 he existed in near poverty for almost two decades as he lived at times in Paris, Florence, Lisbon, and London, before returning to Capri in 1946. He wrote novels, autobiographical works and travel books, including The Forestal Conditions of Capri (1904), Siren Land (1911), Fountains in the Sand (1912), Old Calabria (1915), London Street Games (1916), South Wind (1917), In the Beginning (1928), Capri (1930), Summer Islands (1931), Looking Back (1933), Late Harvest (1946), Footnote on Capri (1952), and Venus in the Kitchen (1952). South Wind, a novel which explores the pleasures of the hedonistic life, earned Douglas epithets such as "pagan to the core" and "an unashamed connoisseur of pleasure."

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