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animals, knowledge about  

Pietro Li Causi

The Graeco-Roman zoological discourse comprises various development stages and various methods of observation and research. Traces of popular knowledge on animals are already present in the archaic literature, and several references to animals are found in the excursuses of the ancient ἱστορίαι. Aristotle organizes an autonomous body of philosophical theories on animals, the diffusion of which, among his contemporaries, is confined to the Peripatetic school. Subsequently, Theophrastus and the Hellenistic philosophers increasingly shift the focus of inquiry towards the behaviours and mental capacities of animals. That choice reinforces in turn the interest in marvels and singularities in both paradoxography and Roman natural history.Whereas the notions of “animality” and “humanity” tend to be polarized in almost all modern cultures, this was not the case in Graeco-Roman thought. Alcmaeon of Croton (24 A 5 DK) was the first to fix the border between humans qua rational and non-rational animals. Later on, several major philosophers, including .