Abyssinian Cats by Lynn M. Stone

By Lynn M. Stone

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By Lynn M. Stone

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SCHWABE to their chiefs or incipient kings. g. g. life, libido) also became associated over time with heavenly bodies and with weather, particularly with thunder, lightning and rain6 (and, in at least the Minoan civilization, with earthquakes as well). Thus, as exemplars par excellence of both ‘dominion’ and the mysteries of ‘life’, wild aurochs bulls (and hence their mothers and consorts, cows)7 became central to the conceptions and practices of several ancient religions through which the special relations of chief/king to god(s), people and the physical universe were defined and solidified.

The flockleader holds a unique position in terms of the relationship between the human (dominant) and the domestic animal (dominated). In so far as the shepherd views the castrated male leader as a member of the flock, he belongs to the category of the dominated group. However, being castrated, he is no longer an essential element of the flock’s reproductive process. From the point of view of the culture or learned behaviour of the sheep the flock-leader is an agent of the dominator. Tani’s thesis is that the guide-wether is a mediator between the dominating shepherd and the dominated flock, and if most of the flock consists of ewes, the wether takes the role of the guardian of the female group.

Usually these close associations are between a domestic animal and a human but they can equally well be between two species of animals. An interesting example of this was described by Darwin (1845:142) for the sheep-dogs of Argentina. These dogs are trained to carry out many of the functions of a shepherd without a human being present. Darwin recounted how he saw, when out riding, flocks of sheep several miles from any human and guarded only by one or two dogs. He also described the training of these dogs.

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