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Epic heroes (see homer) hunt to fill their bellies or to rid the land of dangerous beasts. The boar is the most formidable antagonist; venison is highly valued; mentions of lions are problematic. Hunters go on foot, armed with spear or bow. In Greek Classical literature the educational value of hunting is emphasized, but hunting is still for the pot and the methods described in Xenophon's On Hunting are often unsporting. These include the use of snares and the beating of fawns so that their cries will draw their mothers within range. Hare‐hunting receives special attention; the hunters, on foot, drive the hares into nets with the help of hounds. Hounds and nets are also used for boar‐hunting; but the beast must ultimately be faced by men on foot armed with boar‐spears. Opportunities for hunting on horseback are generally to be found in the east (e.g. in the ‘paradises’ or game‐parks of the Persian satraps). Alexander 2 the Great's conquests enabled the Macedonian nobles to hunt on a gigantic scale and established the hunt as a paradigm of manly (esp. kingly) virtue, which is reflected in funerary art (notably the ‘Tomb of Philip II’ at Vergina (see aegae), and the ‘Alexander Sarcophagus’. The Roman conquerors took over the apparatus of the Macedonian kings, though enthusiasm for hunting was not universal—a ‘slavish’ occupation, acc. to Sallust. The distinction between amateur sportsmen and ‘slavish’ professionals (already found in Plato and Xenophon) becomes marked in the Roman period. Professionals (including wildfowlers using nets and lime‐twigs) hunt for the market, or to supply their masters. Sportsmen follow Greek methods; but often hunt on horseback. Dido's hunt may be based on the actual practice of driving game from the hills to be ridden down on level ground. Hadrian distinguished himself as a big‐game hunter—lion, bear, and boar; but his friend Arrian, whose On Hunting was professedly written to supplement Xenophon's work, coursed hares on horseback, taking more pleasure in the chase than in the kill. Country sports, including boar‐, stag‐, fox‐, and hare‐hunting, and the hunt breakfast, are depicted in the mosaic of the ‘Little Hunt’ at Piazza Armerina. The slaughter of captured beasts in the amphitheatre forms a separate subject; see venationes.

Subjects: Literature.

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