Animal Communication

Thorsten Fögen

in The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780199589425
Published online April 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Animal Communication

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This chapter examines references to forms of animal communication in ancient Greek and Roman literature. It analyses prose texts from the fourth century BC until the third century AD, which include those of Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, and Aelian, in order to determine specific types of verbal and non-verbal interaction on the part of certain animals. This chapter also presents some findings from modern research in the natural and social sciences on animal communication and argues that ancient reflections on the characteristics of animal communication are to a large extent influenced by the generic or literary conventions of the texts in which they occur.

Keywords: animal communication; ancient Greek literature; ancient Roman literature; Aristotle; Pliny the Elder; Aelian; literary convention

Article.  8127 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Marriage and the Family

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