Fantastic Beasts in Antiquity

Looking for the monster, discovering the Human

Where do fantastic beasts come from? How do they appear in different cultures? What is their history, how did they survive until now? And above all, what are fantastic beasts? This book will explore these questions through the lens of archaeology, art history, philology and philosophy. Read More

Not satisfied with what nature offered, human beings wanted to go beyond reality and invented mysterious and intriguing creatures populating their world. During Antiquity, every culture had its own strange creatures, that mixed the forms of one or more animal, plant and human species in an infinite number of more-or-less fanciful combinations. Griffins, sphinxes, mermaids, centaurs, satyrs, pygmies, werewolves, winged monsters and unspeakable hybrids, fantastic beasts abound in the imagination of many populations throughout Antiquity. Most of them continue to live, sometimes transformed, through fairy tales, literature, movies and videogames.
Faced with the abundance and variety of the ancient fantastic bestiary, the questions that come to mind are: Where do fantastic beasts come from? How do they appear in different cultures? What is their history, how did they survive until now? And above all, what are fantastic beasts? This book will explore these questions through the lens of archaeology, art history, philology and philosophy. The result is a hybrid book, precisely like the fantastic animals that constitute its object, a book which offers different approaches of analysis while being aware that our means are often vain to capture these elusive figures, which ultimately are more like us than they seem. Man, like Oedipus, will often prove to be more monstrous than the Sphinx...

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Presses universitaires de Louvain
Edited by
Sarah Béthune, Paolo Tomassini,
BISAC Subject Heading
HIS002000 HISTORY / Ancient
BIC subject category (UK)
HD Archaeology > HBL History: earliest times to present day
Onix Audience Codes
06 Professional and scholarly
CLIL (Version 2013-2019)
3385 Antiquité
Title First Published
18 February 2021
Subject Scheme Identifier Code
: Histoire
: Histoire de l'Antiquité


Publication Date
18 February 2021
Main content page count : 230
16 x 24 cm
373 grams
Packaging Type
No outer packaging
List Price
28.50 €
Version 2.1, Version 3


Publication Date
18 February 2021
Main content page count : 230
Version 2.1, Version 3

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Table of Contents
Les animaux fantastiques et où les chercher dans l'antiquité. Introduction
Sarah Béthume et Paolo Tomassini 1
Fantastic Beasts in texts : naming, narration, imagination
Where the Wild Things Are: Challenging the Monster in Homer and Hesiod
Camila A. Zanon 11
« Celui-dont-on-ne-doit-pas-prononcer-le-nom » ('‘He-who-must-not-be-named’’).
Dire l’indicible en Grèce ancienne : analyse du phénomène du tabou linguistique à propos du nom des Euménides
Sarah Béthume 27
Xénophon, Deleuze et le centaure. De l’union équestre aux devenirs des corps augmentés
Alexandre Blaineau 55
World’s Imagery and an Imagined World: Fantastic Creatures in Vera historia by Lucian
Ilona Gorņeva 67
Werewolves in the Greco-Roman world
Colin MacCormack 83
Fantastic Beasts in pictures : representation, transformation, interpretation
Designed to Impress: Griffins in Aegean Bronze Age Glyptic
Diana Wolf 103
Mistress of the fantastic: hybridity and monstrosity of the Πότνια θηρῶν
Thea S. Wolff 123
Representations of the Sphinx on Engraved Gems: Preserver of Life or Bearer of Death?
Idit Sagiv 141
Jonah and the pistrix: figurative genesis of a sea monster
Cristina Cumbo 153
Fantastic Beasts in memory : reception, assimilation, reelaboration
Migration of Fantastic Creatures: The Stories of the Pygmaioi and Cranes
Kiwako Ogata 169
Mythical Sanctuaries of the Wizarding World: The Ancient Classical Concepts of "Animal Protection"
in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Universe
Anna M. Mik 191
La réception des êtres fantastiques antiques au Moyen Âge. Autour du Minotaure, des (ono)centaures, hippopodes, satyres et faunes (et de quelques autres)
Jacqueline Leclercq-Marx 205
List of contributors 221