Michael Italikos’ ‚Monodie auf ein totes Steinhuhn‘
Ein byzantinischer Text im Fokus moderner ‚Human–Animal Studies‘
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.
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