Evil and the Human/Animal Divide: From Pliny to Paré
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One striking difference between humans and animals, at least in ancient and medieval thought, is the human capacity for evil. In his Natural History, Pliny portrays elephants and some other animals as superior to humans, arguing that they do not harm their own kind. Elephants are particularly ethical, refusing to harm other creatures, even at the peril of their own lives. The monstrous human races are described in neutral terms. Caesar, on the other hand, is portrayed as a destructive if admirable monster that has destroyed many millions of human lives. This representation of the animal and the half-human monster as morally admirable or at least neutral is modified by Saint Augustine and subsequent theologians who associate the animal and the monstrous with the divine, the human with imperfect knowledge and character.
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