Michael Italikos’ ‚Monodie auf ein totes Steinhuhn‘

Ein byzantinischer Text im Fokus moderner ‚Human–Animal Studies‘

  • Horst Schneider (Autor/in)


If we consider Michael Italikos’ monody of his beloved rock partridge with regard to the anthropological difference between humans and animals, we can observe a constant oscillation: the author gives arguments for the rationality of the rock partridge, but this is only an exception to the rule; he tries to question the anthropo­logical difference, as far as life after death is concerned, on the basis of a biblical passage, only to retract this interpretation again, probably so that he would not be suspected of spreading a heresy. Furthermore, the animal in the human–animal relationship is seen as a ‘companion species’ with a social ‘agency’. The author’s lamenting the absence of a cure for the apparently fatal disease is, in modern terms, about animal welfare and protection. In the end, there is a plea for an empathetic relationship between humans and animals, again based on a biblical foundation: grief and compassion for the animal’s suffering form a moral community between humans and animals. In a certain way, the text thus reflects on a ‘limitrophe ambiguity’ with regard to the human–animal relation­ship. In the process, genuine love for animals is shown in the guise of sophisticated rhetorical art aimed at an educated audience.


Animal Welfare, Anthropological Difference, Companion Species, Empathy, Human–Animal Studies