Classical Greek literature presents a variety of speaking animals. These are not, of course, the actual voices of animals but human projections. In a culture that aligns verbal mastery with social standing, verbal animals present a conundrum that speaks to an anxiety about human communication. I argue that the earliest examples of speaking animals, in Homer, Hesiod and Archilochus, show a fundamental connection with Golden Age tales. Later authors, such as Plutarch and Lucian, look back on such cases from a perspective that does not easily accept notions of divine causation that would permit such fanciful modes of communication. I argue that Plutarch uses a talking pig to challenge philosophical categories, and that Lucian transforms a sham-philosopher of a talking-cock to undermine the very pretense of philosophical virtue.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited