We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
All of you die-hard Bigfooters and dedicated Goatmanologists had better make some room at the loony table: Adrienne Mayor has some griffins, centaurs, and—what the hell are?—dinosauroid hominids she’d like your hirsute hulks to meet. The classical folklorist is dead-set serious on proving that the beasties (and mutated variations thereof) found in the The Odyssey and associated literature were more than figments of that wild pantheist imagination. In fact, as far as she’s concerned, those mixed-beast Grecian ghoulies were once as real as the long-gone Dodo. In her new book, The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times, Mayor blends her own wide-eyed architectural wanderings around various Mediterranean islands with “ancient testimonia” from various scribes to prove the existence of monsters that we’ve (so far) seen only raising hell in Jason and the Argonauts. While exploring bronze artifacts in a museum on the Greek isle of Samos, Mayor comes to a shocking conclusion about griffins—the “gold-guarding creatures with bodies like lions’ and beaks like eagles”’—and was inspired to search out more hidden truths: “I was struck by their vitality and by the convincing realism of the gnarly details. Something about these early models was so lifelike, so real…As I stared at their powerful beaks, empty eye sockets, leathery necks, and bumpy skulls, I was struck by a sense of deja vu—they seemed so prehistoric.” Oh boy. Ask Mayor why the artist’s rendering of the—really, what the hell?—dinosauroid hominid (pictured) looks so much like Jeff Goldblum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. $13. (202) 357-3030. (Sean Daly)