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In many ways, Roman attitudes to animals were similar to our own; they kept animals as household pets, they farmed animals for meat and hunted and fished. However, animals also played a far more significant role in Roman culture and religion – and in the Roman imagination.
In Cave Canem, Dr Iain Ferris discusses the extraordinary slaughter of huge numbers of animals for entertainment in the Roman arena, their association with the gods, their place in mythology and symbolism and their use in Roman religious practice. Many of their actions towards animals are seen today as cruel, but what did animals mean for the Romans and how did they view their own actions?
Lavishly illustrated, Cave Canem examines both written and archaeological sources, particularly visual evidence in the form of sculptures, coins, mosaics, wall paintings and decorated everyday items in order to shed light on animals in Roman culture.
Iain Ferris has been a professional archaeologist for nearly 40 years. He has directed major archaeological research excavations in northern and midland England and has served as a member of the Archaeology Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.