Mythical Zoo

Mythical Zoo

Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781468307207
  • 339  Pages
  • Adult


From Aesop’s Fables to Mockingjay, animals have always played a pivotal role in human culture. Even today, animals wield symbolic powers as varied as the cultures that embrace them. Sacred cows, wily serpents, fearsome lions, elegant swans, busy bees, and sly foxes–all are caricatures of the creatures themselves, yet they reflect not only how different cultures see the natural world around them but also how such cultures make use of their native animals.

In this fun and thought-provoking book, historian and animal enthusiast Boria Sax argues for a classification of animals that goes beyond the biological to encompass a more meaningful distinction: tradition. From ants and elephants to tigers and tortoises, The Mythical Zoo weaves together a crosscultural tapestry encompassing mythology, history, art, science, philosophy, and literature. The result is a beautifully illustrated, masterfully composed love letter to the animal kingdom.


“Enter Boria Sax, the veritable Ace Ventura of contemporary academia.” –New York Journal of Books

“Boria Sax is a likeable writer. His diligent research has . . . illuminated the origins of one of Britain’s most famous myths.” –Times Literary Supplement

“A charming, off-kilter work of history and zoology.” –ForeWord