Petit poisson deviendra grand… Les créatures aquatiques et leurs petits dans la littérature antique et médiévale

Brigitte GAUVIN

fr Anthropozoologica 56 (17) - Pages 253-279

Published on 10 December 2021

Little fish will grow big… Aquatic creatures and their young in ancient and medieval littérature

Among the animals, those occupying the seas and rivers are the most difficult to observe, and consequently they are not as well known as birds or terrestrial animals and therefore generate fantasies. However, scholars in Antiquity have attributed to a few of them parenting behavior which differs from one species to another and can be considered as a specific feature, and medieval encyclopedists carefully collected and transmitted these informations, and even accentuated the parental behaviors. Relying on a precise study of ancient and medieval sources and on the illustrations that can sometimes be present in some manuscripts, and contextualizing encyclopedic writings, we will try to explain where the fishes’parental behavior described in medieval encyclopedias come from.


Marine animals, Middle ages, medieval encyclopedias, parenthood, ethology, animal instinct, Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum.

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint