Boar Hunting - History - Ancient Greece and Rome

Ancient Greece and Rome

In Ancient Greek culture, the boar represented death, due to its hunting season beginning on the 23rd of September, the near end of the year. The boar was also seen as a representation of darkness battling against light, due to its dark colouration and nocturnal habits. Boar hunts appear frequently in Ancient Greek mythology and literature. The first recorded mention of a boar hunt in Europe occurs in 700 BC in Homer's rendition of the hunt for the Calydonian boar. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus was injured on the leg during a boar hunt as a boy. The scar on his leg is what leads Eurycleia to recognise him on his return to Ithaca. In the legend of Prince Adonis, the titular character goes on a boar hunt, only to be killed by his quarry. The third labour of Heracles involved the live capture of the Erymanthian Boar. According to the legend of the founding of Ephesus, the city was built upon the ground where a boar was killed by Prince Androclos.

The Ancient Romans left behind many more representations of boar hunting than the Ancient Greeks in both literature and art. Hunting became popular among young Romans starting from the third century BC. Hunting was seen as a way of fortifying character and exercising physical vigour. The boar was known as aper, feri sues or singularis on account of the animals supposedly solitary habits. According to Pliny the Elder, Fulvius Lippinus was the first Roman to create a reserve for wild boar, where he would breed them for hunting in his land in Tarquinia. His methods would be imitated by Lucius Lucullus and Quintus Ortenzius.

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