VULTURES: EXEGESIS OF A SYMBOL
Depending on the different cultures and historical periods, vultures have been considered both impure or sacred. But, since they usually do not prey upon living animals, their symbolic dimension, associated to the idea of purification, is present in many myths, religions, burial praxis of ancient populations and remains in some religions today.
In the ancient Mediterranean civilizations, they have been carved in some of the most ancient bas-reliefs of the history by stone age people; were sacred to Egyptians, who even took them as symbol of gods; in the classical times they were supposed to be all feminine and breed by parthenogenesis, and therefore appreciated by some early Christian authors, who came to comparing them even to the Virgin Mary; they have been studied and described by ancient scientists, naturalists, philosophers, playwrights; involved in many of the most enduring Greek and Roman myths and legends; many parts of their body were considered as a medicine or even a talisman for happiness; and they were so proverbial for Romans to become even one of the symbols of the founding of Rome itself.But they were also so fragile that perfumes, myrrh and pomegranates were supposed to be lethal for them ….
BAILLEUL-LE SUER 2012
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