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Emma Aston


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1This book began as a doctoral thesis, written at the University of Exeter between 2003 and 2007. When I started to work upon the topic of animal-hybrid gods, I was attracted by their peculiarity and their apparent rarity; like Jane Harrison, I relished the strange and the (as I then saw it) marginal. Gradually, however, as my research progressed, it became apparent that this might be a mistaken perception. Divine mixanthropes came to seem more and more pervasive in ancient literature and cult. I began to realise that, so far from occupying an obscure corner of the ancient religious experience, they crop up both frequently and significantly across the Greek world; also, that they raise implications far wider than the minutiae of their worship. This book is an attempt to give them the attention they deserve.

2My interest in divine mixanthropes was not depleted by the realisation that they are more than isolated oddities; rather the reverse. However, writing the book would not have been possible but for the help and advice of a number of people, whose contributions it is a pleasure to acknowledge. Warmest thanks go to my Ph.D. supervisor Daniel Ogden for all his help and support, not only during my doctoral work but since then as well. The comments of my Ph.D. examiners Robert Parker and Tim Whitmarsh were invaluable in setting the piece on the road to eventual publication. Generous assistance with the preparation of images was provided by Tony Garrett, and by my colleague Amy Smith who also contributed photographs of some of the objects in Reading University’s Ure Museum of Classical Archaeology (a repository of first-rate mixanthropes and much else besides). The process of publication has been considerably smoothed by the professional efficiency of my editor Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge.

3Special thanks go to my parents: to my father for clear-headed comments on a succession of drafts over the years; to my mother for her work on the illustrations; to both for all their unflagging support.

© Presses universitaires de Liège, 2011

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