• Alabastron
  • Laocoon and his sons
  • Nike of Paeonios
  • Pergamon Altar. Frieze
  • Athena. Statuette

In ancient Greek belief there are a few animal species that are close to the divine sphere. These animals are snakes, eagles, bulls and lions. There are images that show these animals in connection with gods and heroes.
The eagle can have a supernatural as well as a secular meaning. For the Romans he was a symbol of victory in battle. Now and Then he is used as a symbol of the state and a symbol for power. In ancient Greece the eagle was one of the attributes of Zeus. Repeatedly he can be found as an allegory for apotheosis and return.
The snake was also very important for the ancient Greeks. Many people did believe that she was the animal that crawled out of Gaia (the Earth). She can be distinguished in good and bad beings. As a companion of gods she is used as attribute, which can bring salvation or misery into the human world. The snake can also be a symbol for fertility and a guardian for temples and sanctuaries.

(A.G. - M.I. - V.R. - M.S.)


G. Lorenz, Tiere im Leben der alten Kulturen. Schriftlose Kulturen, Alter Orient, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom (Wien u.a. 2000)
R. Wittkower, Allegorie und der Wandel der Symbole in Antike und Renaissance (Köln 1984) 21-86

Topics > Wild creatures