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[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
Well, not a Roman as they're all dead. Pointy spears and all. But, seeing as I got some bad news today about a dear friend, I am madly trying to distract myself. So ask me about an animal and I will tell you a Roman belief about it. Or an anecdote featuring it. It has to be an animal they knew about (that covers quite a few). Or a mythical animal. I can also do Greeks because I am multi-functional that way... (Hang on a second, that came out wrong.)

Date: 2011-04-03 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sajia.livejournal.com
Why did vampires move on from owls to bats?

Date: 2011-04-03 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
That I can't say for sure, but the bird that the Romans thought was a type of cover for vampires was called the strix (the name for the screech-owl as well) and popular belief thought it suckled its young (Pliny for once is a bit dubious about this). It's possible that they were thinking of some sort of giant bat or a bat-bird hybrid, but I don't know enough about the later development of vampire myth to work out how it developed.

ETA: I also don't know the idea of vampires being old women transferred into them being our traditional vampire - I know a lot of it has to do with Bram Stoker, but the Greeks and Romans were also very wary of the ghosts of people who died young and who would come back (sometimes as demons, sometimes as werewolves).
Edited Date: 2011-04-03 10:20 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-04-03 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brainchild129.livejournal.com
Now most of us know how the Egyptians felt about cats, but what about the Greeks and/or Romans? I have a vague notion that it might have been with them that the idea of cats being unlucky creatures came about, but I could be misremembering that.

Date: 2011-04-03 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
The Greeks and Romans don't appear to have kept domestic cats - they used weasels sometimes to keep mice from the house, so they have surprisingly little interest in them. (Apart from how they have sex and how keen female cats are in sex - thank Aristotle for that one). Pliny thinks animals with rough tongues like cats can wear away a man's skin; the closer the animal gets to your blood the more dangerous as you can go mad as a result. He also thinks the liver of the cat (taken in wine) can be a cure for malaria but you have to drink this disgusting concoction at the waning of the moon.

Date: 2011-04-03 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
Oooooh! What to choose, what to choose. Lions. I have a replica Greek (I think, but maybe Roman) coin with a lion on it, so I'll go with that.

Date: 2011-04-03 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Lions are the only animals that show pity to a person if they beg for their life; they will never attack children and attack men before women. A female slave was once cornered by a pride, but saved herself by saying she was female and she knew their reputation for pity - after this plea they let her go. Both Pliny and Lucretius think a crowing cockerel is one of the few things a lion is scared of.

Date: 2011-04-04 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
So basically, I need to dress very girly and carry a chicken if I ever go to Africa. *g*

Date: 2011-04-04 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
And remind them that as they are king of the beasts it would be beneath them to eat a suppliant. A girly suppliant, at that!

Date: 2011-04-04 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namastenancy.livejournal.com
These posts are so fantastic that I'm linking them in my blog, to be titled "Everything I needed to know about ancient Rome, I learned from Lesbia Sparrow..."

Date: 2011-04-04 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
But what an odd perspective on Rome people will have! All hyenas and love charms.

Date: 2011-04-04 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brainchild129.livejournal.com
But we don't hear about these sorts of things in school and regular history books! Sometimes, though, it's that odd stuff that gives you a better picture of a culture as a whole. At the very least, it's a more complete one.

Date: 2011-04-04 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lage-nom-ai.livejournal.com
Who were the best gods to appeal to for matters of the feet?

Date: 2011-04-04 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Now that's a tough one. I guess Mercury, god of messengers, thieves and merchants. He did a lot of travelling, after all.

Random fact, courtesy of Pliny: there was once an Egyptian who had no calves. Also bear fat is a great thing for feet. And you can get rid of corns by the use of fresh boar's dung. And various other hideous things.

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