Did They Have Cats in Ancient Greece?

Cats are one of the most beloved pets in the world today. They are cute, cuddly, and sometimes even a little bit sassy.

But have you ever wondered if cats were also popular in ancient times Specifically, did they have cats in ancient Greece

The Role of Cats in Ancient Greek Culture

In ancient Greece, cats were not as popular as they are today. This is because dogs were considered to be more useful for hunting and guarding purposes. Despite this, there is evidence that cats did exist in ancient Greece and that they played a role in their culture.

One of the earliest mentions of cats in Greek literature can be found in the work of Hesiod, a poet who lived around 700 BCE. In his poem “Works and Days,” Hesiod describes how to keep mice away by using a cat. He writes:

“When you build your house, do not leave it unprotected against rats and mice; for it is easier to deal with them beforehand than to try and drive them out afterwards. A cat is always going to be better than any number of mousetraps.”

This passage suggests that cats were used as pest control in ancient Greece.

Cats in Greek Mythology

Aside from their practical uses, cats also played a role in Greek mythology. One such example is the goddess Bastet, who was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians but also had some influence on Greek culture.

Bastet was often depicted as a woman with the head of a cat and was associated with fertility and motherhood. She was also seen as a protector against evil spirits and diseases.

The Story of Galinthias

Another mythological tale involving cats is the story of Galinthias. According to Greek mythology, Galinthias was a servant of the goddess Hera who was transformed into a cat by the goddess Eileithyia. This transformation was meant to punish Galinthias for her role in helping the hero Heracles be born.

In this story, the cat is used as a symbol of transformation and punishment.

The Legacy of Cats in Ancient Greece

While cats were not as popular in ancient Greece as they are today, their presence can still be felt through literature and mythology. In fact, some historians even believe that the word “ailurophobia,” which means a fear of cats, may have originated from ancient Greek culture.

Despite their limited popularity in ancient Greece, cats have become one of the most beloved pets in modern times. Whether you are a fan of their sassy attitudes or simply enjoy cuddling with them, it is clear that cats have left an indelible mark on human history.

So there you have it – while they may not have been as common as dogs in ancient Greece, it’s clear that cats did exist and played a small but significant role in their culture.