Art Reflects Reality: the treatment of non-human animals in Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt (by Yousef Koura)

Non-human animals have been part of our lives since the beginning of time. Sometimes as sources of food, sometimes as subjects of research, and sometimes even as lifetime
companions. Examining ancient literature gives us an idea of how some ancient cultures viewed and treated these non-human animals. In this paper I mainly take a look at Aristophanes’ The Birds, Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, and The Stories of Setne Khamwas; these stories give some insight into how the Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, and Ancient Egyptian societies, respectively, regarded non-human animals and how, in turn, they treated them. In addition to those stories, a variety of secondary sources from the fields of literature, law, and philosophy are also examined in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind each culture’s actions and ethical considerations.