Truly one of the most symbolic birds in the human imagination, eagles have been used for millennia to represent power, divinity, war, justice and freedom. Eagle explores the rich history of this majestic bird, an emblematic creature of vast importance to many cultures throughout the world. Often associated with the cycle of life and death, eagles embody the paradoxes of our existence: the beauty and horror we, as humans, face every day.
We associate the eagle with light and learning and also death and corruption. Eagles adorn flags, sports team uniforms, and the logos of fashion brands and feature in many other emblems and crests. But these birds have also been relentlessly persecuted – perceived as predatory threats to livestock and even to us humans. It is clear, however, that we are much more dangerous to them than they are to us. Eagles have suffered the devastating effects of human activities for years, from pesticide use to habitat destruction and global warming; eagles around the world are threatened. The failure to save these birds would be disastrous for ecosystems across the globe, as these birds – the ultimate flying predator – provide unparalleled help with the population control of pests and dispensing of the dead bodies of other animals.
Eagle examines our complex relationship with these birds along with their international significance and asks us to consider the implications of losing them to contemporary ecological threats.
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Janine Rogers is Associate Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature in the Department of English Literatures at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada.