Classical Period

Pig and human history timeline
1201 BC to 455 AD

c. 1175 BC
The Greek hero, Odysseus, and his crew, sailing homeward from the Trojan War across the Mediterranean Sea, stop at the island home of the sorceress, Circe, who turns all Odysseus’ companions into swine. When their leader rescues them, some accounts claim that several of Odysseus’ crew opted to remain with Circe as pigs, but with all their human reason intact.
c. 1165 BC
Aeneas sees the prophesied Sacred White Sow and founds the city of Rome on that spot along the Tiber River (per Virgil).
1122 BC (thru 221 BC)
During the Chou Dynasty in China, it was thought that the departed should not be deprived of their pigs in the next world. Small clay models of pigs are laid in the hands of individuals at burial. Later in this period, whole pigsties were buried in the tombs.
863 BC
The town of Bath, England is founded by Prince Baldred son of Hudibras, a King of the Britons. Formerly an outcast from his family after contracting leprosy, Baldred became a swineherd whereupon he noticed that pigs that wallowed in the mud of a local hot spring were healed of various skin diseases. After healing his leprosy in a similar fashion, Baldred returned to his family, proclaimed the miraculous healing powers of the hot springs and subsequently founded the town of Bath on the site of the pigs mud wallow.
725 BC
Hesiod’s poem “Works and Days” discusses husbandry of pigs as well as cattle, goats and sheep, and also plowing, sowing, harvesting, the constellations and the seasons. Writing during the Homeric Age of Greek literature, Hesiod is the first Greek poet to forsake legendary subject matter in favor of themes drawn from the everyday experiences and thoughts of Boeotian farmers. This poem is the earliest example of didactic poetry — poetry meant to be instructive rather than entertaining.
c. 621 BC
God’s pork proscriptions go to print. Israelite scribes complete the Book of Deuteronomy. It is among the books containing the dying testament of Moses to his people. The “Law of Moses” imposes dietary restrictions, permitting meat only from any animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two, and chews the cud, but forbids the consumption of meat from pigs, hares, badgers and camels.
c. 500 BC
Approximate date of oldest surviving recipe — it is Chinese, and it’s for suckling pig.
483 BC
After 45 years of Buddhist missionary activity along the Ganges River, Siddhartha, the Buddha, breaks his own vegetarian principles and dies in Kusinagara, Nepal, as a result of eating contaminated pork. He is about 84 years old at his death.
c. 470 BC
An anonymous Greek vase painter creates prominent designs that will enable modern scholars to define a style and attribute a number of surviving but unsigned works to that same individual. He/she is called the “Pig Painter” because of recurring scenes or themes of boars and swine on the vases. One of the best-known vases features Odysseus and his swineherd, Eumaios.
450 BC
A type of coin called a stater, with a winged boar image, is minted by Carians of the town of Lalysus, Rhodes.
c. 425 BC
In Athens, Aristophanes’ antiwar comedy The
is produced. In the early scenes, much double entendre merriment ensues from the fact that the same word — choiros — was commonly used for “piglet” and the female organ of generation.
c. 350 BC
A Sicilian coin of Abacaenum features a large boar and a second small pig in profile.
c. 347 BC
The philosopher Plato, in The Republic portion of his Socratic dialogues, raises the social stature of lowly swineherds by categorizing them in with bakers, as well as poets, artisans and tutors as he lays out and reasons through the needs that are to be expected by the people of a “luxurious State.” While much of the public of that time disagreed [especially the bakers], modern scholars point out that because the stony Athenian countryside ill afforded crop and pastureland, those who raised or cared for pigs probably provided a highly valuable food source to the general population.
280 BC
At Heraclea and Asculum, Italy, Pyrrhus wins his famous “Pyrrhic Victory”. Roman pigs play an important part in the battle, frightening and stampeding his elephants.
202 BC (- 220 AD)
The Chinese of the Han dynasty made Confucianism the basis for their bureaucratic state, welcomed the introduction of Buddhism and produced the first porcelain; and they also so revered the pig that prominent individuals were often buried with whole sties full of life-size ceramic model pigs.
60 BC
A version of the Roman denarius, the ubiquitous silver coin of the Roman Empire, is minted with a depiction of a wild boar being attacked by a hound.
c. 19 AD
In his great work, Geographica, ancient Greeks are warned by Strabo (63? BC-24? AD), a geographer, historian and philosopher, of the fierce wild pigs in Britain that are as dangerous to approach as a wolf. This work is the only extant text that provides historical data and describes the people and countries known to the Greeks and Romans during the reign of Augustus.
c. 32 AD
Devils cast out of a man by Jesus in the town of Gadara are sent, at their own behest, into a nearby herd of swine. The entire herd of Gadarene Swine immediately runs off a cliff overhanging the sea and is drowned.
c. 62
Roman writer and satirist, Petronius, a profligate lover of luxury, describes in his Satyricon a banquet given by a wealthy Roman, Trimalchio, where a number of whole boars were served up amid dates and pastries, blood puddings and sausages, all arranged in outrageous extravagance of preparation and presentation. Petronius is credited with preserving, in colloquial language, a study of the life and manners of his time.
77 AD
Roman historian Pliny, in his Natural History, ascribes to pork the unique attribute of being a substance having almost fifty different flavors, being far more fruitful to the talent of a cook than any other animal.
140 AD
Roman emperor, Antoninus Pius decrees the minting of a sestertius. The coin features The Great Sow with her piglets, to honor the legend of Rome’s founding by Aeneas.
c. 161 AD
Greek-born Roman physician, Galen, uses dissected pigs as his primary study specimens, along with goats and monkeys, to determine how the human body functions. He correctly identifies functions of kidneys, bladder, blood, veins and arteries, heart and spinal cord.
220 AD
Heliogabalus [or Elagabalus] degenerate Emperor of Rome (218-222 AD) rides through the city streets in a pig-drawn chariot.
356 AD
Death of St. Anthony, patron saint of swine and swineherds.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.