When one looks at the history of mankind, it is found that dog is one of the few animals that enjoys a special place. There are several pieces of evidence of domesticated dogs in the past in the many cultures throughout the ancient world. Ever since the ancient times, the dogs have always enjoyed a special bond with people. These were the first animals that were domesticated by the humans and have always played an important role in ancient cultures and mythology. There are many gods that have been depicted as dogs in the ancient mythologies and art. As a pet, the dog was an essential part of the household and was treated as a family member. There are a large number of paintings and hieroglyphics that depict the place the dog enjoyed in the ancient culture (Dogs in Ancient Culture).
The ancient Greeks and Romans were well known for their affection for animals and pets. They dedicated different animals to their gods or goddesses and had a very close relationship with the beasts. Gradually, those animals gained free admittance into the house and were like companions. The dog was the greatest favorite among the ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato has mentioned the courage and faithfulness of dog in his writings. The dog is the only animal to get a proper name in the Odyssey, as the Argus, who was a faithful hound (Greek and Roman Household Pets). It was a custom to take the pet dogs along with them if travelling by sea. These animals were much admired in Egypt, Greece, and Italy. . The ancient Roman and Greek people shared a strong bond with their dogs.
In Greece, the dog was an important part of the society and was associated with female deities. Artemis and Hecate, the goddesses kept hunting dogs and Molossian dogs. In the ancient Greece, the philosophic school of Cynicism took its name from Greek for `dog’ and its students were known for their determination and loyalty to follow a single path. Plato's famous dialogue of Republic also features dogs. Socrates, in Book II, states the dog to be a true philosopher as the animals differentiate between a loyal friend and an enemy (Mark).
When one looks at the ancient Rome, the animals are looked in very much the same way as in the ancient Greece and were looked upon as faithful companions and guardians of the home. The great Latin poet Virgil and the writer Varro speak positively about the animal in their writings (Mark). The Romans had many different pets, but it was the dog that enjoyed the highest esteem. The different mosaics, paintings, poetry and prose of the ancient Romans depict the animal in a loving manner.
Spartan and Molossian were among the best-known canine breeds that were native to Greece and were used for hunting and watch over the house and livestock. According to Cato, the first Roman to write about agriculture, stated that the dogs should be chained during the day, so that they can keep better watch during the night. These dogs were expected to be heavily built and yet slim, strong and fast enough. Rome imported Hounds from Celtic Britain as they found them to be very suitable for long chase. Speed was an important quality of a hunting dog (Dogs in Ancient Rome and Greece).
In the ancient Greek religion and culture, the dogs played an important role. For example, the three-headed dog, Cerberus guarded the entrance to Hades. Argos is another famous dog in the Greek literature (Dogs in Ancient Culture). Like the Greeks, the ancient Romans appreciated their dogs for their loyalty and relied on the animals to safeguard their homes and possessions. One comes across frequent depictions of the animals in the public buildings and the mosaic art at home. The Romans had different breeds of dogs meant for different purpose, for example, war dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs.
There are a large number of Greek vase-paintings that depict the children very attached to their pets. There were skeletons of nine dogs discovered in a grave and one of them lay near the master. The pet dogs are often found carved on the tomb of the master. There are several examples of men and women with their canine companions in a large series of Greek and Roman reliefs (Greek and Roman Household Pets). One can feel the human touch in those depictions of the ancient Romans and Greeks that they shared with these animals.
The guard dog can be found in the several mosaics in Pompeii, on the floor of the hall near the entrance. Many of the ancient authors have tried to classify dogs according their roles and responsibilities. When one looks at the Greek representations and descriptions, the working dogs are classified as Molossian, Laconian, Melitan and Cretan. Some of these working dogs were cross-breeds as well. In the Roman law code, the dogs have been mentioned as guardians of the home and flocks. In fact, it has been stated that every farm should have at least two dogs, preferably white, as it could be easily spotted in the dark night.
When one looks at Greek and Roman reliefs, there are plenty of depictions of men and women with their canine companions. There are charming pictures of households with their canine pets, carrying that human touch and displaying a special bond. Some good examples are a pet dog licking a plate clean and a small girl, holding a basket with three puppies (Mark). The famous "cat-and‑dog fight" in Athens is the earliest artistic representation earliest artistic representation and dates back to 510‑500 B.C (Dogs in Ancient Rome and Greece).
The animal may be separated by different cultures for those hundreds of years, yet, it has always retained its character of being a devoted and loyal figure to his master. These animals have been always looked upon as a faithful companions and hunters as well as an important part of the family. Dogs as pets and the caring animals continue to enjoy their status as faithful companions in modern times and are certainly the most faithful.
"Dogs in Ancient Culture." That Pet Blog. 3 Aug. 2011. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://www.thatpetblog.com/2011/08/03/dogs-in-ancient-culture/#.VZqRhBuqqko>.
"Dogs in Ancient Rome and Greece." Dogs in Ancient Rome and Greece. 2015. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/canes/canes.html>.
"Greek and Roman Household Pets - CJ 44:245252 and 299307 (1949)." Greek and Roman Household Pets - CJ 44:245252 and 299307 (1949). 2014. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Journals/CJ/44/4/Household_Pets*.html>.
Mark, Joshua J. "Dogs in the Ancient World." Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2014. Web. 6 July 2015.