Catcalls

Cats, they say, have nine lives. My cat columns, I say, will have only two. My first (April 5) was a pioneering, tentative but catastrophically flawed venture into the aelurophilic world. It spawned a cataract of letters. Fax and e-mail contributed yet more catcalls.

The catalyst for this flow was my comment on Peter Green’s review of Donald Engels’s Classical Cats: The Rise and Fall of the Sacred Cat (Routledge). Engels dealt with the benign and malign roles cats have played in religion. Here is where I got into trouble: I wrote, “Green quotes Lactantius: ‘Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum,’” which I paraphrased to the effect that all religion has a potential for working evil. Green noted the unforeseen potential for cataclysmic evil on the part of Christians who killed cats as a part of antipagan ventures. They thus let rats thrive, and rats bring plagues. The result was the Black Death, which killed as many as 20,000,000 Europeans.

 

This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.