Pigs Eat Farmer

Photo by Amanda Slater/Creative Commons

In Oregon, an elderly farmer has been eaten by his own pigs. As is customary in such cases, everyone acts as if such a thing were unprecedented, even though it's plenty precedented. Seems to me I covered that in some book or other. 

US farmer 'eaten by his own pigs' - Telegraph

"A family member found Mr Garner's dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure several hours later, but most of his remains had been consumed. Several of the pigs weighed 318 kilograms [700 pounds] or more."


  1. I am reminded of the giant forest hogs in that one Hannibal movie, remember that?

  2. Yes. . . although it's kind of overshadowed by the brain-eating scene.

  3. "The Red Hourglass" covered this in some detail, as I recall. As regarded the giant forest hogs, I was a little disappointed to see wild boars standing in (which are magnificent, but a certain standard of accuracy is expected by wildlife nuts!)

    Plenty of ancient cultures took the pig much more seriously than we do. Both Cwlwch, a cousin of King Arthur, and Diarmuid, a kinsman of Finn MacCumhail, are confronted with supernatural giant boars in Celtic myth (Diarmuid is killed by his porcine nemesis) and various Greek heroes and heroines (Hercules, Theseus, Atalanta, Adonis)fight wild pigs--the Erymanthian and Calydonian boars and a sow whose locale escapes me are the foes of the first three, while Adonis is killed by a wild boar sent by a jealous Ares when the war-god suspected Aphrodite of being too attached to the young man. Frey, the Norse god of--I want to say fertility, he was one of the gentler Nordic deities--owned a magic golden boar named Gullinbursti who could feed all the warriors in Valhalla then rise from his own bones, and carry a rider anywhere.

    In the Bible, swine are unclean and Jesus drives a number of demons into a herd of pigs most likely resembling the razorback pigs of this country. Much is made among sociologists of how "pigs aren't ecologically efficient to raise in the Middle East"--but wild boar are quite common in the Holy Land, if I recall my range maps aright. The real reason, I think, is more likely the fact that wild pigs would root up and eat corpses given half an opportunity. People migrating in would have brought the custom of eating pork with them--Romans, Greeks, etc.--but the people of the land (native Palestinian Jews, and very probably the ancestors of the Arab peoples, as in all likelihood the pork taboo predates Islam) eschewed it and continue to do so. It is notable that even to this day, one of the most filthy insults one can hurl at a Muslim is to suggest that he eats pork, or to call him a pig, very possibly rooted in the suggestion that he is indirectly consuming human flesh when he eats a pig.

    1. Wild boar were also considered to be evil beings in ancient Egypt (where I think they are extinct now), being creatures of fraticidal god Seth who I think took a wild boar's form once in a while...

    2. Seth is always a hard one to get a handle on in terms of what animal he's portrayed as (though I do believe you're right and he assumed the shape of a wild boar to ambush his nephew Horus in one version of the tale.) But as to the beast his head represents, I've heard hyena (a good enough candidate) a donkey (can be mean, but since they were a common and valued domestic animal and the wild ones admired for their endurance and spirit by most cultures, doubtful) or an aardvark (hard to see aardvarks as Satanic unless you're an insect.)

      My own candidate for the post of the animal Seth's head represents is the Cape hunting dog; the canine-looking snout accompanied by giant ears gives me this idea. Although endangered and rare today, if this animal had ranged into areas known to the ancient Egyptians--and it was formerly much more widespread,like many carnivores--I'd buy it as the beast chosen for the mask of Seth in his humanoid shape.

    3. Not sure I see much African hunting dog in Seth... I mean, he has a strangely curved snout and the ears are rather square...

      There is one animal that has a similar profile (minus the ears) and it is the tapir fish (elephant-nose) we've talked about before:
      It is found in the Nile and so was likely known by the Egyptians, but then, where did the square ears come from?

      As for the hyena, its apparent absence in the Egyptian pantheon always baffled me; it is, after all, one of the major predators in that region and was known by the Egyptians (who would even keep them in captivity and force-feed them for eating) yet unlike lions, wolves, leopards etc they are never linked to any deities that I know of...

    4. Oh, and speaking of the tapir fish, it appears that the fabled "Oxyrhinchus" fish that ate Osiris' penis after Seth chopped it off was represented as a tapir fish sometimes:
      Notice how the statuette has some sort of crown which may explain the "ears" in the Seth animal...

    5. I think you might be onto something here--Seth was connected with a lot of creatures, but the mormyrid statuette strongly resembles his head as rendered in most popular depictions. A possibility is that an Egyptian artist from a later period, assuming the mormyrid to be a particularly favored animal of Seth due to the role it played in the myth of Osiris, might have incorporated it into depictions of the god--could they have even felt that Seth assumed the shape of the fish at times? We see depictions of a four-legged beast with a head like Seth's in Egyptian art, but with a tail ending in a fork or fin. Other cultures--various American Indians and Eskimos, for instance--believed that killer whales were only whales in the water, and roamed the land as wolves. What I'm getting at, I guess, is that what might have originally been an attempt to show that Seth was a master of disguises and tricks--portraying him as roughly a hybrid between his favorite fish and a dog-shaped land carnivore--but could be detected if you knew what to look for (again, akin to his modern Western analogue, Satan) could in later years have been retconned by ensuing generations to mean that such an animal really existed and was Seth's chosen avatar. Ancient bas-reliefs of aurochs in perfect profile lent credence to the stories of unicorns when, as the animals died out, people had trouble recalling what an aurochs really was.

    6. Fascinating ideas. You guys are going way over my head, but I appreciate the education.

    7. I have my late mother to thank for turning me into an Ancient Egyptian nut really XD

      @James, I'm guessing wildly here, but it may be possible that the depictions of Seth with the tapir fish' head may be simply a way of letting everyone know what deity is being depicted. Remember that most Egyptians couldn´t read, so even though the names of the deities often appear written besides their images, to most people these words would be impossible to read. On the other hand it is likely that all Egyptians knew the Isis/Osiris/Seth myth and therefore, having the tapir fish/oxyrhynchus as the head of Seth would make everyone relate it to Seth.
      Likewise, the other gods all had very distinctive attributes to them that would make them easily identifiable even for people who couldn´t read a word. It certainly doesn´t mean that the Egyptians believed the gods to actually HAVE animal features in "real life".

    8. True--in a Western context in the Middle Ages, when most people were illiterate, this was the purpose behind pictures in churches. And the Egyptians doubtless subscribed to the theory--like virtually all cultures--that a god can assume any shape, so the iconic one is just the "establishing shot" as it were.

      But what keeps me coming back to "something more" is that every other animal is easily recognized: hawk, jackal, cat, lion, ibis, crocodile. The Egyptians were pretty good artists. To me, it follows they were trying to depict an animal with which someone was familiar as it stands in the pictures. But I'm with you on the mormyrid's face:it's just too similar for that to be utter coincidence, though I tend to think maybe the fish was chosen for its role in the tale because it resembled Seth rather than the other way around. (Of course, the ultimate possibility? The Egyptians invented the Seth-creature precisely to torment those of us who would come after them in later ages.)

    9. Well, every other animal is easily recognized by us... for the Egyptians the fish would be more familiar.

  4. On another note, my maternal grandmother used to say: "We haven't had so much excitement since the day the pigs ate my little brother." While Grandpa always warned Mom and her siblings that the pigs (apparently they owned a brood sow named Hallelujah--life in the Adirondacks during the Depression evidently gave people a funny sense of humor) were the most dangerous animals on the farm, they never were able to determine if Gram spoke from experience or not!

  5. Yeah, Red Hourglass is all over this anthropophagous pig thing. :)

    I didn't know about the Celtic myths. That's more for my reading list. I'm a big fan of Ovid's version of the Atalanta story.


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