Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Greyhound 1

oil painting of a greyhound, a pet portrait by Karen, a dog painting
A week of greyhounds, starting with this languid chap. I love the faces of hounds, especially their eyeliner which seems common to lots of hound dogs. I have recently read that greyhounds did not, in fact, originate from the Middle East - many writers assert they were the pets of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. 
Studies of mitochondrial DNA suggest this was not the case. It is now believed they were brought to Western Europe by the Celts.
From the beginning of the first millennium B.C., the Greeks were seafarers and traders and regularly visited ports all along the southeastern Mediterranean in what is now Egypt and the Middle East.  Much of what is known of that area in those times was recorded by Greek historians and there is no mention of Greyhounds.  
The breed was completely unknown to them prior to 200 B.C., the time of their first encounters with the Keltoi - as they called them - a tribal culture from the north.  In the first century BC,  the poet Grattius wrote of the Celts’ dogs that: “…swifter than thought or a winged bird it runs, pressing hard on beasts it has found.” 
So, my greyhound is not lounging there so languidly after all. He is perhaps a bit smug and thinking: "Swifter than the winged bird, I am. It's official..."