Birds and Beasts of the Greek Anthology
London: Chapman and Hall, 1928
Digital resource (Digital Text Library)
Birds and beasts mentioned in the lyrics of the Greek Anthology, under the headings of mammals, birds, reptiles and batrachians, sea-beasts, and creeping things.
"...it strikes me that these utterances of a considerable section - segment, rather - of the ancient world present, for all their variety, a certain inner coherence. That must be because the writers happened to be poets, who view life from more or less the same angle through all the ages; poets, whose observations of natural phenomena were casual and unsystematic, whose interpretation of such things shifts more slowly than that of the scientists, and shifts, when it does so, along a plane different from theirs. ... Like our own poets, they are quite ready to introduce the animal creation into their pages, and in so doing they often register what seem to be the most irrelevant and wearisome trivialities... But these trivialities, I think, have their significance. That is why the reader of the following pages cannot but notice that I have chronicled them one after the other with pedantic deliberation, to the verge of tediousness and possibly beyond it. My reason is this : it is trivialities, mere trivialities, which betray them in the long run; nothing but the cumulative weight of trifles can turn the scale and demonstrate the particular detail wherein our point of view has come to change from that of their time. For we find no Natural History, properly speaking, in the Greek Anthology; what its authors say about animals constitutes a human rather than a scientific document; it is a minute but clearly demarcated province in the history of feeling..." - introduction
Originally published in Florence (privately printed) in 1927. Also published by J. Cape and H. Smith, New York, 1929.
215 p., bibliography, index.
Last update December 16, 2021