Domestic Cat in Roman Civilization

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This study enhances scholarship on animals in the classical world by focusing on the domestic cat in Roman civilization. Beginning with material rudimentary to the Romans' early acquaintance with the cat, is discusses a diverse range of sources for the cat in the Roman period, supported by a number of illustrations. It is a compendium of the available literary sources, drawn from the spheres of religion, mythology, the fable tradition, miscellanea, natural observations, agricultural tracts, etc.. The final chapters include an examination of artistic representations demonstrating a variety of perceptions of the cat, a survey of archaeological discoveries of feline remains, and observations on the cat in Roman life.


"It is unusual to find a book that is able to both consistently interest a non-technical reader and provide enough detail to satisfy an expert on a subject, yet this is exactly what The Domestic Cat in Roman Civilization accomplishes. Donalson weaves a great deal of background information (necessary for those without a degree in classics) into a text that contains the detail required for such a scholarly work. . . . The classicist will immediately appreciate the wealth of bibliographical material provided in this work; both ancient and modern sources are frequently cited in the development of a clear picture of the cat in the Roman world. Initial discussions of the inclusion of the cat as a religious symbol as opposed to an actual deity are precise, and the cat's associations with a variety of Egyptian gods and goddesses are elucidated. . . . most of the texts are presented in the original Latin or Greek in the endnotes; this presentation allows the non-specialist to move smoothly through the material, while a classicist can refer to the original text. . . . Donalson should be commended for his ability to present such a large amount of diverse information in away that is a pleasure to read and informative for readers from a broad spectrum of backgrounds." – Dr. Joe Rambo

Table of Contents

Table of contents:

1.The Background: Ptolemaic Egypt and the Greeks

2.Introducing Feles, or Cattus, or "Felicla": Myths, Cults and Fables

3.Further Evidence in Literature of the Roman Period: A Clean, Swift Animal, Useful Against Mice, Moles and Snakes

4.Feline Portraits: Exotic Status Symbol, Parody of the "Big Cats" Sign of the Divine Within and Just Plain "Kitty"

5.Feline Remains: Skeletons, Mummies and Footprints

6.The Life of the Roman Cat: Symbiosis without Divinity

7.Bibliographies: A – Ancient Works; B – Modern Works

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