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The Chinese together with the Romans saw the owl as the bird of ill-omen. In China the Owl was common in burial ceramics of the Han-dynasty, which was contemporary with the Roman Empire and to which the Chinese had extensive trade relations.

In Roman Mythology the owl was 'the bird of the night' and to hear the hoot of an Owl presaged imminent death. The deaths of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Commodus Aurelius, and Agrippa were apparently all predicted by an Owl. In early Rome a dead Owl nailed to the door of a house averted all evil that it supposedly had earlier caused.

In Greece, Athens was 'the city of the owl', since the Acropolis was full of them. The matron goddess of Athens, and 'the goddess of wisdom' was Athena so an owl is very often shown with Athena.

In Chinese export porceleain decorations an owl can sometimes be found as the attribute of Athena,

See also: Bird