The pig has a contradictory image. It is the symbol of luck, thrift, prosperity, or fertility. At the same time, it is identified with negative characteristics such as impurity (in a literal as well as a figurative sense), lechery, falseness, and craving for power. Although the pig is honored as a deity in many cultures, the epithet “swine” has been used as an insult in the Occident, at least since Pindar. Wieland described the pig as the “true antithesis of grace” (Mangold 1973). And Gottfried Benn made the bitter equation “the crown of creation, that swine, man” (1968). How, where, and when did these varying judgments come about in the course of history? What experiences and events, what special characteristics of the species, induced them? The first part of this article will trace the foundation of these references in the most important phases of the natural history of the domestic swine. The second part will summarize the relationships between the species Homo and Sus.
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