Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Miss Tilney’s words apply, in part, to this study, since it is a product of the author’s imagination. Whether it raises interest will be for the reader to decide. The flight of fancy that led to my writing this book began twenty years ago, when I had the great good fortune to be a student at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. On a trip to Marathon, one of my fellow students (I think it was Kevin Glowacki) observed a single, scrawny cow not far from the ancient battlefield and wryly commented that we had finally...

A Note about Spellings and Translations

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pp. xiii-xiv

Abbreviations

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p. xv

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Chapter 1: Cattle Habits

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pp. 1-20

The epigraph above is an example of what Michael Pollan has recently called “hunter porn,” an overblown style of writing that assumes “that the hunt represents some sort of primordial encounter between two kinds of animals, one of which is [the writer].”1 Men face danger, men kill, men provide meat, men rule. Actual hunter-gatherer societies are more likely to survive on the staple supply of grains provided by women, but the symbolic capital vested in the hunt...

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Chapter 2: The Paradoxes of Pastoralism

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pp. 21-47

The various pastoral regimes practiced by the Greeks were made possible by the much earlier domestication of cattle. This resulted not only in a steady supply of protein for the pastoralist but also helped give pastoral societies a distinctive shape: the custodial care of the herd, the ritualized treatment of butchery, the elaborate use of cattle as measures of wealth, and the central importance of cattle in the rich imagination of pastoral people are all evidence of the profound impact of domestication on human societies. In...

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Chapter 3: Cattle Systems in Bronze Age Greece

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pp. 48-73

Domesticated cattle (bos taurus) are attested at Neolithic sites in Greece such as Argissa Magoula. Descendants of these early cattle can be seen today in one of the two indigenous breeds surviving in northern Greece: the Greek steppe (or Sphakia type) cattle. Steppe cattle stand between 1.10 and 1.25 meters at the shoulder, and weigh up to 250 or 300 kilograms (cow and bull, respectively).1 The animal has a long face and distinctive long horns in the shape of a lyre, which were prized as drinking vessels2 The steppe breed..

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Chapter 4: Epic Consumption

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pp. 74-96

The chieftain buried at Lefkandi was called a hero by the excavators, and rightfully so, since it was between 1000 and 800 BC that the notion of a hero became firmly rooted in the consciousness of the Greeks.1 The bovine idiom—that cluster of values, institutions, and ideas that centered on cattle— helped shape the emerging notion of the hero. Indeed, a comparison of the Greek phrase at the heart of the heroic ideal, kleos aphthiton (“undying glory”), with...

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Chapter 5: Heroes and Gods

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pp. 97-122

It is clear that epic drew on patterns of behavior and social practice deeply embedded in both the actual past of the Bronze Age and the imagined past of the heroic age. Reformulated by Homer, together these supplied the Greeks of the Archaic period with a complex model of social order and personal ethics that found expression in a range of coherent activities constituting the nexus of early Greek social practice: sacrifice, feasting, gift giving, and hospitality...

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Chapter 6: Gods, Cattle, and Space

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pp. 123-145

In a much-quoted passage, Herodotos remarks, “It was Homer and Hesiod who composed a divine genealogy for the Greeks, and who gave the gods their titles, allocated to them their powers and fields of expertise, and made clear their forms.”2 Yet the cults of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon revealed by archaeology and literary sources outside of epic reflect gods quite unlike their Homeric and Hesiodic incarnations. All three remain strongly associated with...

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Chapter 7: Sacred Economics

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pp. 146-172

In the Politics, Aristotle specifies the different ways humans may get their food supply without resorting to exchange or commerce. He lists nomadism, hunting (which for Aristotle includes brigandage and fishing, as well as more traditional styles), and agriculture.1 The last category, claims Aristotle, comprises by far the greatest number of people, namely, those who live off the land and its produce—in other words, farmers. In his scheme he does not reserve...

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Chapter 8: Cities and Cattle Business

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pp. 173-195

The commercial needs of cities and urban sanctuaries were different from those of Panhellenic or rural sanctuaries. Whereas the priests of Delos and Delphi may have benefited from the sanctuaries’ constant stream of visitors, the interests of the local population were subordinate to the Panhellenic sanctuaries’ role as international centers. City sanctuaries, on the other hand, both large and small, were closely attached to their communities. They provided...

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Chapter 9: Sacred Law

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pp. 196-216

In a culture whose political development saw the polis emerge as the dominant form of state organization, sanctuaries played a central role in state formation.Within the city and its territory they provided locations where social relations were manifested through sacrifice and feasting. The feast, in particular, emphasized group solidarity and inclusion. Other institutions, such as the sacrifice, drew attention to hierarchies of wealth and prestige, in which benefaction and reciprocity were channeled through pious actions to the...

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Chapter 10: Authority and Value

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pp. 217-240

If sacred law was the necessary precursor to the emergence of secular law codes in the early Greek state, it is also true that cattle wealth spurred the growth of a monetized economy by combining wealth, value, and exchange into a single institution. As we shall see, it was the central position of the sanctuary in Greek life that would make this possible by giving form and expression to notions of authority and value. Before investigating the role of religious...

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Chapter 11: Conclusions

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pp. 241-252

The mathematical problem known as Archimedes’ Cattle Problem, odd as it may seem, is a good example of how the Greeks had moved from a pastoral society operating in the bovine idiom to what we might call a post-pastoral society. By this I mean a society no longer directly dependent on cattle production for all aspects of the community’s well-being, as might be said (though with increasing inaccuracy) of the Maasai, Dafla, or Bahima people who have...

Notes

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pp. 253-292

Bibliography

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pp. 293-334

Index

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pp. 335-340