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- DescriptionNot much can be said with certainty about the life of Claudius Aelianus, kwn to us as Aelian. He was born sometime between A.D. 165 and 170 in the hill town of Praeneste, what is w Palestrina, about twenty-five miles from Rome, Italy. He grew up speaking that town's version of Latin, a dialect that other speakers of the language seem to have found curious, but--somewhat unusually for his generation, though t for Romans of earlier times--he preferred to communicate in Greek. Trained by a sophist named Pausanias of Caesarea, Aelian was kwn in his time for a work called Indictment of the Effeminate, an attack on the recently deceased emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who was nasty even by the standards of Imperial Rome. He was also fond of making almanac-like collections, only fragments of which survive, devoted to odd topics such as manifestations of the divine and the workings of the supernatural. His De Natura Animalium (On the Nature of Animals) has a similar patchwork quality, but it was esteemed eugh in his time to survive more or less whole, and it is about all that we kw of Aelian's work today. A mostly randomly ordered collection of stories that he found interesting eugh to relate about animals--whether or t he believed them--Aelian's book constitutes an early encyclopedia of animal behavior, affording unparalleled insight into what ancient Romans knew about and thought about animals--and, of particular interest to modern scholars, about animal minds. If the science is sometimes sketchy, the facts often fanciful, and the history sometimes suspect, it is clear eugh that Aelian had a fine time assembling the material, which can be said, in the most general terms, to support the tion of a kind of intelligence in nature and that extends human qualities, for good and bad, to animals. His stories, which extend across the kwn world of Aelian's time, tend to be brief and to the point, and many return to a trenchant question: If animals can respect their elders and live horably within their own tribes, why must humans be so appallingly awful? Aelian is as brisk, as entertaining, and as scholarly a writer as Pliny, the much better kwn Roman natural historian. That he is t better kwn is simply an accident: he has t been widely translated into English, or indeed any European language. This selection from his work will introduce readers to a lively mind and a witty writer who has much to tell us.
- Author BiographyGregory McNamee is a writer, journalist, editor, photographer, and consultant in publishing, film, and other media. He is the author or title-page editor of 30 books and more than 3,000 articles, essays, reviews, interviews, editorials, poems, and short stories. He is a consultant, contributor, and contributing editor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and its blog, as well as a regular reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, a contributing editor to the Bloomsbury Review, and a correspondent for TravelIntelligence.net. He is a research associate at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona. He lives in Tucson.
- Author(s)Gregory McNamee
- PublisherTrinity University Press,U.S.
- Date of Publication04/08/2011
- SubjectScience & Mathematics: Textbooks & Study Guides
- Place of PublicationSan Antonio
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintTrinity University Press,U.S.
- Content NoteB&W illustrations throughout
- Weight242 g
- Width127 mm
- Height178 mm
- Spine25 mm
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US)
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