Mythical Zoo

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In this fascinating encyclopedia about animals in world myth, legend, and literature, author Boria Sax documents how profoundly animals and their symbolism are integrated into human values. In the prehistoric cave paintings of France and Spain—the most ancient works of art we have—humans were depicted as stick figures and animals painted with more care and passion. The first clearly religious shrines were dedicated to animals. Later, animals were representative of anything from totems and deities to demons and augurs of witchcraft. Creatures that seem the products of gene splicing between species were the monsters of folklore.

Emphasizing depth rather than breadth, The Mythical Zoo covers everything from frogs and grasshoppers to dolphins, salmon, rabbits, and tigers. After a masterful overview, there are about 50 entries with references to literature from a variety of cultures and extensive illustrations ranging from medieval prints to cartoons and advertisements.

An encyclopedia of animals as they have appeared in myth and legend throughout history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Sax offers the rare reference volume, a bestiary entertaining enough for bedside reading . . . He impartially examines the real animal world and the fantastic fauna of myth and legend, mermaid and werewolf to unicorn . . ."



"The Mythical Zoo provides essential grounding for those interested in understanding the traditional as well as more modern or contemporary treatments of animals in art, literature, and popular culture. It is equally valuable for those concerned with gaining a better understanding to how attitudes toward animals are established and changed. As such, it will be an important tool for students and scholars in many fields as well as for storytellers, techers, and naturallists who use stories about animals to enrich their students' or audiences' appreciation."


H-Net Book Review

"Recommended for public and academic libraries."


Gale Reference Reviews

"[A] handy reference book that will be useful to just about anyone from storywriters to television producers, newspaper editors, or just plain interested readers. Anyone checking some background information or some last minute facts will find this book a must . . . The Mythical Zoo emphasizes depth over breadth in conveying ideas supporting the treatment of animals in myth, legend, and other aspects of human culture."


American Reference Books Annual

"This is another in a growing line of excellent reference volumes issued by ABC-CLIO in it continuing folklore and literature series . . . It is as much as home in a school library as in one's own personal collection."


Territorial Tattler

Sax traces the history of animals in human representation (art, literature, popular culture) from their role as gods, to their reduced status as divine subordinates, to figurative creatures of allegory and symbol, to their modern status as representatives of nature. Space is devoted to the so-called humbler species (fly, louse, flea, worm)<-->as well as the more sublime (coyote, wolf, and lion). Fifty A-Z conversational entries are illustrated with images from medieval prints to editorial cartoons and advertisements; suggested readings for each entry are included. Sax is a Ph.D., author of several books about animals in folklore and literature, and is founder of the organization Nature in Legend and Story (NILAS, Inc.). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576076125
  • Publisher: ABC-Clio, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 324
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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