The Cattle of the Sun: Cows and Culture in the World of the by Jeremy McInerney

By Jeremy McInerney

Though Greece is characteristically obvious as an agrarian society, farm animals have been necessary to Greek communal existence, via non secular sacrifice and nutritional intake. livestock have been additionally pivotal in mythology: gods and heroes stole livestock, anticipated sacrifices of farm animals, and punished those that did not offer them. The farm animals of the Sun levels over a wealth of assets, either textual and archaeological, to discover why those animals mattered to the Greeks, how they got here to be a key aspect in Greek idea and behaviour, and the way the Greeks exploited the symbolic price of livestock as a fashion of structuring social and fiscal relations.

Jeremy McInerney explains that cattle's significance all started with domestication and pastoralism: farm animals have been nurtured, bred, killed, and eaten. virtually helpful and symbolically powerful, farm animals turned social capital to be exchanged, provided to the gods, or ate up jointly. This flow of livestock wealth based Greek society, considering that commitment to the gods, sacrifice, and feasting constituted the main uncomplicated associations of Greek lifestyles. McInerney exhibits that livestock contributed to the expansion of sanctuaries within the Greek city-states, in addition to to adjustments within the financial practices of the Greeks, from the Iron Age during the classical interval, as a monetized, marketplace economic climate constructed from an previous financial system of barter and exchange.

Combining a extensive theoretical technique with a cautious analyzing of resources, The livestock of the Sun illustrates the numerous place that farm animals held within the tradition and reports of the Greeks.

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As cattle and cattle production increasingly came within the orbit of the sacred business of sanctuaries, as the supreme commodity of value for exchange, dedication or consumption, they embodied value and wealth. The fiduciary economy was made possible, as Aristotle understood, by a monetized economy that in turn depended on a highly developed sense of value, measured, as we shall see, by the Greeks in cattle. From the Bronze Age, and even earlier, the Greeks were heirs to a tradition in which cattle were much more than objects, whether of veneration, trade, or consumption.

46 A darker side of this comic vision also existed: how better to suggest the utter despair of Ajax at being robbed of the aristeia for the finest fighter at Troy than to have him slaughter all the Greeks’ cattle and the cowherds too. 47 The inverse of the meat-eating glutton was the vegetarian ascetic. 48 Aside from this religious group, some individuals gained notoriety for their vegetarian habits. Atheniaos devotes a number of pages to men who existed on liquid diets, such as Philinos, who survived on milk alone for his entire life, and a host of others such as Anchimolos and Moschos, a pair of sophists from Elis who were known as 16 • Chapter 1 “water drinkers” and who ate only figs.

With the possible exception of the Pythagorean community, not even the most fantastic ideal city, eugenically engineered and elite dominated, could be imagined by a Greek thinker without utterly conventional performances of piety, expressed through sacrifice. In this respect, the Asklepios regulations cited above may be more “typical” evidence of Greek culture than any passage from Sophocles, Plato, or Thucydides, since it represents neither a poet’s nor a philosopher’s reading of the culture but is a direct expression of the Athenian community.

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