This book presents tales of mythical beasts, offering primary sources (e.g., the writings of Herodotus, original fairy tales, poems) within the context of background material and commentary. Discussion questions and activities complete each chapter. Focusing on the phoenix, the griffin, the unicorn, and the dragon, this book combines tales and lore of each, presenting primary sources (e.g., the writings of Herodotus and original fairy tales and poems) within the context of background material and commentary. The shifting images of these animals offer a unique perspective on myths, religions, art, literature, and science in history. Discussion questions and learning activities at the end of the chapters guide students in exploring the worlds surrounding each beast. Sure to appeal to all ages, this fascinating collection makes a wonderful supplement to world history courses and is a great resource for reports.
Since the early 1980s, Joseph (Joe) Nigg has explored the rich cultural lives of mythical creatures in a variety of styles and formats for readers of all ages. His books have garnered multiple awards, and his current international bestseller, "How to Raise and Keep a Dragon," has been translated into more than twenty languages.
"Griffins, the Phoenix, dragons, unicorns, and other traditional animals of the imagination are all around us in words and images," Nigg writes. "But when you delve into the histories of these creatures, you'll find an incredible wealth of cross-cultural lore intertwined with history, myth, religion, art, literature, science, and specialized areas such as alchemy and heraldry. While looking beyond the popular presence of mythical beasts, you'll discover as much about the history and dreams of the human race as about our animal creations."
Nigg has been writing about fabulous beasts ever since he became intrigued by a fantastic animal figure on an antique lamp in his study. The winged lion with a fish tail eventually led him to the local art museum, where he was allowed to hold an ancient Persian silver cup embossed with griffins. That experience resulted in his first book, "The Book of Gryphons" (Apple-wood Books, 1982), a lavishly illustrated history of the eagle-lion beast. Since then, his scope has broadened to the entire host of fantastic animals worldwide. After twelve years of research and writing, Nigg recently completed THE PHOENIX: A CULTURAL HISTORY. The most comprehensive Phoenix study to date, the book traces the transmission and transformations of the mythical bird from ancient Egypt to the present.
He was born in Davenport, Iowa, and grew up throughout the Midwest. Holding an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Denver, he taught at several colleges and served as the executive editor of a global network before writing full time.