10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 42


By George Jennison

As a classical scholar who long had the direction of the Belle Vue zoological gardens at Manchester, Mr. Jennison was fully qualified to write on the animals of the ancient world, and his excellent book at once becorftes the standard authority (Manchester Uni- versity Press' ][2s. 6d.). He points out that the Ptolemies of Egypt, bor.-- rowing from the East, set the -fashion for collecting and displaying exotic animals which Imperial Rome was later to follow. He describes typical animal shows under the early and late Empire; and explains how the beasts were caught, transported and used. Augustus boasted that 3,500 African animals were killed in his 26 circus displays, and the slaughter under later Emperors was even more horrifying. Yet,. as Mr. Jennison points out in three fascinating Chapters on the amateurs' menageries, the Romans could also lavish much kindness on their pets. He says that Lesbia's passer, as one has often suspected; was not a sparrow but bullfinch. Cats were nor common in Republican Rome, partly because Egypt forbade the export of the sacred animal, but pet-monkeys were plentiful. The book will interest every animal lover, and it is exceptionally well illustrated. '