Sunday, March 29, 2020

Medieval Cats

From Medium:
The sheer absurdity of these drawings raises some flags. Were cats simply body snatched for a few hundred years? Were they ephemerally replaced by humanoid fur demons, or did the monks who wrote manuscripts just really prefer dogs? All cats are a little demonic, as their humans would probably attest to. It turns out Medieval scribes were maybe just a little more on the nose about it. 
“In the Medieval period, animals were understood to be the mirror of human society,” historian Damien Kempf, who is writing a book on Medieval depictions of animals, told me. “Even though animals were believed to be irrational beings, they were given human traits and characteristics.” Dogs, for example, were lauded for being loyal companions, created to guard the house and assist in the hunt. Cats? Not so much. 
“Sources emphasize the rather unruly nature of cats,” Kempf said. “Unlike dogs, cats cannot be trained to be loyal and obedient. As one author complains, they will go to whoever gives them food.” So that’s one reason cats probably got such an unflattering edit. (Read more.)

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