Tuesday, April 8, 2014
G is for Greyhounds in Literature
In keeping with greyhound adoption month, I thought I'd take a moment and share some of the greyhound's more illustrious affiliations: art and literature.
Dating back thousands of years, greyhounds have been widely used in paintings and literature. Many paintings from the Renaissance depict greyhounds as companions alongside royalty and nobility. Originally, these gentle dogs were used by hunters to flush out quarry, and their natural speed, agility, and love of the chase eventually evolved into the competition and racing we see today.
Mentions of greyhounds in literature date back to the Bible. And supposedly they are the first dogs to be mentioned in literature.
Homer's epic poetry mentions greyhounds (hounds) in several books of The Odyssey:
"'This hound,' answered Eumaeus, 'belonged to him who has died in a
far country. If he were what he was when Ulysses left for Troy, he
would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in
the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its
tracks.'" (Homer, The Odyssey Book XVII)
Ovid also gave a nod to the greyhound in Metamorphosis:
"But with herself she kindly did confer,
What gifts the Goddess had bestow'd on her;
The fleetest grey-hound, with this lovely dart,
And I of both have wonders to impart." (Lelaps and Procris)
Finally, Chaucer wrote of the greyhound in The Canterbury Tales:
"Greyhounds he hadde as swifte as fowel in flight;
Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare."
Obviously there are numerous mentions of greyhounds in various forms of literature, and these are just a few. It's really no wonder that artists and writers mused on and imagined the greyhound. With their docile and mild nature, graceful and lean physique, and swift and agile athletic abilities, the greyhounds are standout dogs. And in my humble opinion, one of God's greatest creations.