Berkeley Undergraduate Journal of Classics
Sea Monsters in Antiquity: A Classical and Zoological Investigation
- Author(s): Jaffe, Alexander
- et al.
Sea monsters inspired both fascination and fear in the minds of the ancients. In this paper, I aim to examine several traditional monsters of antiquity with a multi-faceted approach that couples classical background with modern day zoological knowledge. Looking at the examples of the ketos and the sea serpent in Roman and Greek societies, I evaluate the scientific bases for representations of these monsters across of variety of media, from poetry to ceramics. Through the juxtaposition of the classical material and modern science, I seek to gain a greater understanding of the ancient conception of sea monsters and explain the way in which they were rationalized and depicted by ancient cultures. A closer look at extant literature, historical accounts, and artwork also helps to reveal a human sentiment towards the ocean and its denizens penetrating through time even into the modern day.