Summary: The Beast Within offers a unique exploration of the use of and attitude towards animals in medieval society. In the process, the volume sheds light on modern environmental concerns by tracing the roots of our current views about animals.
Joyce E. Salisbury surveys the ways in which inhabitants of Western Europe thought of and dealt with their animals from the 4th to the 14th centuries. She explores the impact of Christianity on our views of animals, and dem ...show moreonstrates the rediscovery, in the twelfth century, of the idea of an animal side to humans that made people start thinking of themselves as animals.
The Beast Within illustrates how, as property, food and sexual objects, animals in the middles ages had a distinct, and at times, odd relationship with the people and world around them. For example, animals viewed as property during the period shared in labor and increased their owners' status. However, these animals were regularly punished for the acts of their owners and owners were held responsible for the animals' behavior as well. When animals served as sexual objects for humans, much reflection, debate and even legislation was the result. Mythological and metaphoric animals also played important roles in the fables and religion of the day changing the views of humans about the beasts and themselves.
The Beast Within provides an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, weaving a historical narrative that includes economic, legal, theological, literary and artistic sources. A provocative and thorough work, this volume will inform and enlighten current debates on animal rights and offer an original contribution to the historical study of animals.