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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2023
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Book description

What makes us human? What, if anything, sets us apart from all other creatures? Ever since Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, the answer to these questions has pointed to our own intrinsic animal nature. Yet the idea that, in one way or another, our humanity is entangled with the non-human has a much longer and more venerable history. In the West, it goes all the way back to classical antiquity. This grippingly written and provocative book boldly reveals how the ancient world mobilised concepts of 'the animal' and 'animality' to conceive of the human in a variety of illuminating ways. Through ten stories about marvelous mythical beings – from the Trojan Horse to the Cyclops, and from Androcles' lion to the Minotaur – Julia Kindt unlocks fresh ways of thinking about humanity that extend from antiquity to the present and that ultimately challenge our understanding of who we really are.


‘Julia Kindt has found a miraculous new lens through which to scrutinise our oldest, most loved stories and find in them colours, shapes and qualities that we have never really seen before. Humankind's relationship with animals has been examined through archaeology, history and art, but never before, to my knowledge, through myth, legend and story. The insights that this absorbing and imaginative approach reveal are enthralling and profound. The stories are told with wit, imagination and sparkle; the animals who star in them brought wondrously to life.'

Stephen Fry

‘Kindt's wide-ranging volume tackles a question seldom addressed in the ever-expanding literature of ancient animal studies: how do non-human animals make us human? Investigating this question through an examination of ten animals and animal types that appear in classical mythology and history and live on in recent literature and art, she offers fresh insights on issues central to ancient animal studies, including the nature of animal intellect and emotion, the ethical obligations of human beings toward other species, and the significance of hybridity and metamorphosis. Kindt's scrupulously researched yet highly readable text will prove informative and stimulating to classical scholars and non-specialists alike.'

Stephen T. Newmyer - Duquesne University

‘In this beautifully written and timely book, Julia Kindt provides a fascinating account of how humans use real and imaginary animals to think about what it means to be human and an eloquent defence of the power of storytelling. With each of its chapters comparing classical and modern sources in innovative, accessible and engaging ways, The Trojan Horse and Other Stories is sure to start an important conversation about how the ancient world foreshadows our contemporary consideration of the human-animal relation.'

Chris Danta - Australian National University

‘The stories from ancient Greece are foundational for all our imaginations – and they are some of the best and long-lasting stories we have! Julia Kindt is a wonderful guide to what they are, what they mean and how they have influenced us.'

Simon Goldhill - University of Cambridge

‘Deeply insightful and erudite … Highly recommended for both disciples and skeptics of classics.'

Evan M. Anderson Source: Library Journal (starred review)

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