Ancient Greek Pets

Sunday April 19, 2015

Ictis lives with Andreas and is Andreas’ primary companion. He’s also a ferret.

Surprised? No one living in Sparta would have been.

You see Andreas wasn’t feeling particularly imaginative the day he named his new pet. In ancient Greek, Ictis more or less means… Ferret!

Dogs, caged birds, goats, tortoises, ducks, quail, weasels, mice, polecats/ferrets, and grasshoppers were all popular pets in ancient Greece. Ferrets were useful for keeping rodent populations down and as such served a double function.

Ictis has a third duty. He gives Andreas someone to talk to. Too bad he’s not much of a conversationalist. But he does try. It’s not his fault if Andreas doesn’t always understand him.

In fact, Andreas should have paid more attention to his warnings about that warrior lurking around their home. Didn’t Andreas realize just how dangerous the man could be? Ictis couldn’t have made it any clearer if he had jumped up and down and stolen the rabbit Andreas was preparing to feed to the Spartan warrior. Invite the kryptes into his home? Whatever was his human doing?

As a helot and a member of an enslaved people, Andreas should know better than draw the attention of one of the warriors responsible for Sparta’s reign of terror. Kryptes kept the helots from revolting by killing any of the slaves likely to lead a revolt.

Ictis had tried explaining all this, but unable to take his eyes from the warrior, Andreas hadn’t listened. Now Andreas was risking death. And what for? Conversation with a human was overrated.

A Spartan Love