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Mixanthrôpoi

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Emma Aston

Introduction

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1. Beyond the ‘Animal god’

1The Greeks did not have animal gods, and there is no real proof that they ever did. Fully theriomorphic deities are rare to the point almost of non-existence. But a significant number of Greek deities were imagined and depicted as partly animal in form – as anatomical combinations of human and non-human. These deities, and this mode of representation, are the subject of this book, which turns the spotlight on a group of beings who, despite being quietly pervasive in the religion, myths and representation of antiquity, have not previously been given scholarly attention in their own right.

  • 1 Cook (1894); Harrison (1908), esp. 257-60, (1912), esp. 445-53; such theories will be discussed fur (...)
  • 2 See e.g. Raglan (1935).
  • 3 An especially influential exposition of totemism was Smith in his Lectures on the Religion of the S (...)
  • 4 E.g. Gregoire, Goossens and Mathieu (1950); Lévêque (1961).

2The concept of the ‘animal god’ (god as animal, animal as god) has long since become a scholarly cul-de-sac, an interesting ingredient in late-nineteenth and earlier-twentieth-century historiography, in which such figures as Cook and Harrison1 and a host of other, lesser exponents2 posited theriomorphism as a dominant feature of the earliest religious systems, and constructed theories around ideas such as totemism.3 Despite finding a few surprisingly late adherents,4 the animal god approach cannot per se be taken further, relying as it does on an unacceptable level of retrospective conjecture and certain basic teleological fallacies. And yet the iconographic connection between gods and animals is a fruitful field, and gods whose representation combines animal and anthropomorph in hybrid anatomy provide a new and under-exploited way in which the topic may be encouraged to progress. It is hoped that the current study goes some way towards offering such encouragement and displaying its value.

  • 5 Much of it focused on the depiction of centaurs, on which see Colvin (1880), Baur (1912) and Buscho (...)
  • 6 Perhaps especially the catalogue and collection of essays published following Princeton University (...)

3The study of hybrids in art and in myth has not languished as animal gods have; early interest5 is matched by a continuous and – of late – increasingly exciting attention resulting in some very valuable publications.6 And yet hybrids as gods, specifically as recipients of worship, have not found a secure and extensive place in this field, despite their substantial and important implications. It is time to close the gap between myth, art and cult, to examine hybridism specifically as a form of cultic iconography, and to reflect on the position of deities so represented within the dizzying range of ancient Greek religious experience.

4The extent and the nature of the convergence between these three interlocking elements, myth, art and cult, differs from deity to deity. Some of the figures examined in this study, such as Pan and Cheiron and the Sirens, are famous beyond the study of ancient religion because of their prominence in myth and art; none the less, their worship, their rôle as cult-receiving deities, is a side of them which urgently lacks detailed study. Others, such as Demeter Melaina, are not widely known, but certainly deserve to be, because they represent significant local variations of divine personalities we regard as canonical. This book’s most important task, however, is to place all these deities together, to look at them together, to assess their interrelation and the patterns which links them. That said, this very act of combination is not without its difficulties, and requires careful definition.

2. Terminology, categorization and unity

5The Greeks did not have a single noun in widespread use to denote a being of mixed animal and human anatomical form. This fact is certainly significant. It is also surprising, as animal-human hybrids throng Greek myth and folktale. Often, of course, animal-human composites are described using one of the several common Greek words for ‘monster’, ‘prodigy’ or ‘unnatural being’, the most common being teras and pelôr/pelôron; the significance of this will be examined below, but it remains the case that none of the ‘monster words’ is precise enough for the purposes of this study.

  • 7 Diphuês does not in itself carry to automatic association with animal-human combination; it can, de (...)
  • 8 Opp. Kyneg. 2.7., of a centaur. Fascinatingly, hêmianthrôpos means ‘eunuch’ – the other form of hal (...)
  • 9 Mixothêros is an adjective (see e.g. Themist. Or. 23.284a); mixothêr is substantive but tends to oc (...)

6Adjectives indicating ‘half human, half animal’ are to be found in ancient texts in relation to these beings: diphuês is the most common, meaning ‘of dual nature or form’;7 others are hêmibrotos (‘half man’)8 and mixothêr/mixothêros (‘part/mixed beast’, that is, ‘beast mixed with man’).9 For an often-used noun, however, one looks in vain.

  • 10 Lib. Or. 59.30.
  • 11 Themist. Or. 23.284b. The gods who protect and cherish philosophy have made him invulnerable to ass (...)

7This book, then, for its own practical purposes adapts a rather rare Greek word which, unlike the adjectives above, lends itself well to conversion. Mixanthrôpos, which can function as either adjective or substantive, occurs in the work of two authors, Libanius and Themistius, who, interestingly, are close to each other both in place in time: both are thought to have been working in Constantinople around the middle of the fourth century AD. Libanius uses the word in the context of praise of Constantine; speaking of the latter’s upbringing, he tells us that it was not wild like that of Achilles chez the centaur Cheiron: ‘μήτοι νομίσῃ τις ἀκούσεσθαι Πηλίου κορυφὰς καὶ κενταύρου σῶμα διφυὲς καὶ τροφέα μιξάνθρωπον.’10 In Themistius’ narrative, the subject is once more centaur-related, though in this case another famous story is chosen, the assault on Kaineus by the centaurs, who are described as ‘μιξάνθρωποι μιξόθηροι’,11 an interesting use of two alternative expressions for the same concept, one approaching it from the human end, so to speak, the other from the animal.

  • 12 Occasionally one finds the terms therianthrope, therianthropic etc. used of animal/human hybrids in (...)

8Themistius and Libanius are a world away, in time and space, from the material on which this book focuses, and their term is not chosen because it has any intrinsic connection with that material. It has, however, other points to recommend it. First it is relatively specific, carrying within itself the sense of a combination of human and non-human parts; in antiquity this is its only sense. Second, it is very easy to render into convincing English forms (this is its main advantage over mixothêr), and for the purposes of this work it provides both a pair of nouns and an adjective, on the extremely useful model of ‘misanthrope’, ‘misanthropy’ and ‘misanthropic’, which they closely resemble: ‘mixanthrope’, ‘mixanthropy’ and ‘mixanthropic’. To clarify, then: ‘mixanthrope’ is used to denote a composite form containing both human and non-human parts; ‘mixanthropy’ the phenomenon of such forms, their use and representation; and ‘mixanthropic’, consisting of or pertaining to such forms.12

9Coining these words is actually necessary because of a lack in English, not in Greek. The Greeks did at least have a rather confused assortment of terms denoting the animal-human combination; we have none that really works with the precision needed in this study. Most often used is the word ‘hybrid’ (both noun and adjective), but to this may be made two objections. First, in other – for example scientific – disciplines, ‘hybrid’ indicates a being of mixed parentage rather than mixed form. Issues of parentage and procreation are going to be of interest, but are not always in the equation, so to speak. Secondly, ‘hybrid’ contains no specific suggestion of the combination of human with non-human which is the prime focus of this study. The Chimaira, for instance, could be called a hybrid because of its various animal parts, and yet is excluded from the present work because of the lack of a human component. This objection can be raised against other common terms also, such as the German word Mischwesen (‘mixed being’), and the vaguer ‘composite’. The only remaining possibility is a cumbersome phrase such as ‘animal/human composite’, hardly efficient. Mixanthrope and its forms repair this lack. However, the most well-chosen neologism cannot remove the fact that the Greeks did not at any stage develop a consistent and universal term for these entities – a fact which certainly needs some examination.

  • 13 The exception to this is the persistent grouping, in art and myth, of mixanthropic figures around t (...)

10The variety, inconsistency and flexibility of the Greek terminology as described above is not coincidental or meaningless. It is symptomatic of certain features of Greek mythography generally: mythical accounts featuring mixanthropes tend, being story-driven, to focus on individual mixanthropes within their individual contexts; in any case, Greek mythology generally lends itself to variation much more than to unity – regional variation, variation of genre, variation of narrator, variation of theme. These general points, however, cannot conceal the particular truth about mixanthropes: that the Greeks rarely discussed them as a class,13 and never worshipped mixanthropic gods as a class.

  • 14 Larson (2001), 3. Ch. 1 (pp. 3-60) is in fact entitled ‘What Is a Nymph?’. The question is answered (...)
  • 15 Larson (2001), 3.

11It must be observed that a single, common term does not by itself indicate simple and unquestionable unity. Take the example of heroes: united linguistically by the word hêrôs, this group of beings none the less displays enough internal variety to make their study together methodologically challenging, though not excessively so. Heroes in epic and heroes in cult; heroes in northern Greece and heroes in the Peloponnese; heroes who dwell underground and heroes who have ascended to Olympos; the single category contains a great number of distinctions which have to be acknowledged and incorporated by any scholarly treatment of ‘the hero’. The same can be said of nymphs, another cult-receiving class: the Greeks used the term numphê with great frequency in both literary and cultic contexts, and yet in the opening pages of her study of Greek nymphs Larson freely admits that the category of nymphs faces scholars with a ‘taxonomic dilemma’.14 One term there may be, but it is a flexible one: numphê can mean ‘bride’, both mortal and divine; it can mean virgin or newly-wed; as Larson says, the only unifying feature is that the word ‘points to [a person’s] status as a sexual being.’15 Having a single and consistent Greek word, then, is not the end of the story.

12It is, however, meaningful; and we cannot elide the nymph-situation with the mixanthrope-situation. The nymphs are consistently referred to in ancient texts in a collective sense, and however we read their interrelationship, they undoubtedly had one in the ancient mind. Especially striking is the frequency with which the nymphs appear as a group in votive inscriptions: plainly their identity as individuals was often unimportant compared with their identity as a group or class, with a shared divine function. This collective perception is completely absent for mixanthropes and, within them, for mixanthropic deities.

13So if the Greeks did not think of them together, or worship them together, why should this book study them together? First, it must be established at once that it is not the intention here to argue for functional unity in ancient thought or practice among mixanthropes generally, or mixanthropic deities specifically. Rather, the underlying rationale is that it is valuable and worthwhile to study them collectively – but not as a collective – for several reasons.

14What mixanthropes have in common is their mixanthropy. This is a study not so much of a class as of a mode of divine representation. Why were certain deities depicted using this very striking and particular form? Do the deities thus imagined and depicted have anything else in common, beside their physical form? How does this form relate to divine personality and function? Such are the questions which this book addresses. The figures included are all subject to one further criterion of selection, beside their mixanthropy: they all received some form of cult, and were involved in the ritual lives of communities as well as in their mythology.

15The mixanthropy of cult-receiving entities is in fact a highly specific phenomenon, and cannot be treated meaningfully without some acknowledgment and examination of its context. Three preliminary matters will be discussed in this introduction: first, Greek attitudes towards the non-human animal and its relationship with man; second, mixanthropy in different ancient cultures; and third, homing in on the Greek world, mixanthropy generally in Greek culture and the attitudes which attended it. The focus of these last two parts will be on mixanthropes generally; only after this broad scrutiny has been performed can the question be asked of how mixanthropic deities specifically operate within the associations and the symbolic rôle of mixanthropy in Greek thought.

3. Greeks and the non-human animal

  • 16 Cassin, Labarrière and Dherbey edd. (1997) and Alexandridis, Wild and Winkler-Horaçek edd. (2008).
  • 17 Lévi-Strauss (1969), 162; see the discussion of the phrase by Lloyd (1983), 8.
  • 18 See e.g. Borgeaud (1984), discussing the cross-cultural involvement of animals in systems of catego (...)

16The topic of the position of animals within Greek society and thought has in fact been treated to a good deal of effective scholarly attention, and has received recent interest also. Particularly worth mentioning are the following. As a wide-ranging survey, Keller’s Die antike Tierwelt (1909-13) remains useful as a work of reference despite its age, providing extensive collation and discussion of material on a species-by-species basis. Moving up to the present, two collections of conference proceedings16 have pushed the topic in new directions, and reflect the continued exploration of the demarcation of human identity in antiquity and the use of the animal for this symbolic purpose. In the 1960s, Lévi-Strauss recognised that, across cultures including that of the ancient Greeks, animals were ‘good to think with’,17 and scholars continue to make valuable observations on the varied nature of this symbolic valency.18 It is interesting to note that both sets of conference proceedings mentioned above include mixanthropy prominently as a key expression of human and animal interrelation, which it undoubtedly is.

  • 19 Gilhus (2006). For an earlier and briefer treatment of ancient attitudes towards animals, see Lonsd (...)
  • 20 See Howe (2008), esp. 1-26, for an excellent recent survey of the various past theories concerning (...)
  • 21 See Lloyd (1983), 7-57; Sorabji (1993 and 1997); Newmyer (2006).

17More specifically, Gilhus has written on changing connections between animals and gods;19 and there have been numerous studies of individual animal species and their symbolic significance. Pastoralism and animal husbandry have been examined as social and economic practices and as practices charged with ideological value.20 Finally, scholars such as Lloyd, Sorabji and Newmeyer have examined ancient philosophical discussions of animals and their relations with humanity.21 So the present brief discussion of the topic benefits from a wide basis of existing work; moreover, its aim is simply to summarise the key themes in order to inform the treatment of mixanthropy as the graphic combination of animal and human parts.

  • 22 At first sight, the Greek word zôion seems to correspond closely to our own word ‘animal’, but it i (...)
  • 23 That the usefulness of domestic animals was not just purely practical but also related to values an (...)
  • 24 Lloyd (1983) has shown that in many ways Aristotle was still operating within the framework of trad (...)
  • 25 For some interesting remarks about the formidable methodological challenges of classification, see (...)
  • 26 In fact, Aristotle inveighs against a snobbish or disgusted response to certain lowly or unlovely s (...)
  • 27 There are some intriguing variations on this approach; for example, at de Partibus 687a-b he refute (...)

18The most important aspect of ancient attitudes to bring to the fore is the fact that animals are always, implicitly or explicitly, evaluated according to their impact on, and relation to, humanity. The Greeks may have lacked a word which unambiguously designated the non-human animal,22 but there is no doubt that they operated on a strongly ‘us and them’ basis. On the most pragmatic level, animals could either be useful to man, or damaging to his concerns.23 Even texts whose purpose is a detailed analysis of the lives and composition of animals will always bring the matter round to comparison and connection with humanity, in one way or another. A perfect example of this is Aristotle.24 It has long been recognised that Aristotle’s work on animals contains two strands. On the one hand, in treatises such as On the Generation of Animals and On the Locomotion of Animals he is a dedicated and thorough natural historian, obviously working from detailed direct research and interested in animal species for their own sakes, as a scientist. Moreover, the effect of his interest in classification and taxonomy of the animal kingdom25 is to make man appear just as one of a great variety of different types and species.26 The bipolar approach, therefore, despite an underlying tendency to assess animal characteristics by comparing them with human ones,27 does not dominate in these zoological works; animals are not a single opposing mass, but nuanced, differentiated.

  • 28 On the relationship between these two divergent attitudes in Aristotle’s work, see Sorabji (1993), (...)
  • 29 On the expression of this theory in Aristotle and other authors, see Sorabji (1993), passim, Gilhus (...)
  • 30 Renehan (1981), 243-4.

19However, as soon as the matter of intelligence is touched on, and especially in ethical and political works such as the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics, the author’s outlook is quite different. No longer is the animal world a rich continuum with man occupying his little space within the taxonomy; suddenly the ‘them and us’ mentality is fully in evidence.28 It is in Aristotle that we find the fullest and most influential exposition of a theory which pervaded Greek philosophical thought on the subject, that between man and animals lies an insuperable barrier: men possess nous and logos, the capacity for rational thought, and animals do not.29 This is not the only quality which makes humans special: speech, hands, upright posture, closeness to the gods: all these are pushed to the fore by individual authors. But the fact that animals are incapable of rational thought and enquiry, the fact that their minds are limited to instinctive properties such as aisthêsis (perception), remains at the heart of the discourse of difference. As Renehan says, our own modern Western society is its inheritor.30

  • 31 In particular, the Stoics stressed the idea that animals were meant to be useful to, and exploited (...)
  • 32 For example, in his Gryllos, Plutarch has one of Circe’s victims, temporarily returned to human for (...)
  • 33 Renehan (1981), 255-6; see e.g. Hesiod, W&D 276-9.

20The philosophical debate about what made man man and animals animals continued after Aristotle, finding strong expression among the Stoics,31 and also occasional challenges from such as Plutarch who argued that animals should not be relegated to the inferior level of existence typically ascribed to them.32 However, more interestingly for our purposes perhaps is the fact that Aristotle and his fellow philosophers were reflecting an abiding pattern of Greek thought: that description of and ideas about animals are governed by their relation to humanity. Renehan traces back to Hesiod33 the idea that animals count as a single class when seen in contrast with man: men exist on one side of the fence, animals on the other. The precise composition of the fence (possession of dike, possession of logos, possession of opposable thumbs, and so on) may change, but its presence does not. This is widely so in myth and folklore, which constantly rub animals and humans up against each other in various ways to produce sparks of meaning. In myth, the three motifs which are most often employed to address the animal/human relationship are combat, bestiality and metamorphosis. Particularly rich sources of material on these matters are the Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis and the Bibliotheke of Apollodoros, though indeed a large number of ancient authors include some mention in their works.

  • 34 Ant. Lib. Met. 12.

21Combat pits the human hero against the violent beast, and thus can be used to express their essential differences. A particularly striking use of this motif is the myth of Phylios,34 who is compelled by his young lover Kyknos to kill a lion with his bare hands. Phylios eats heartily and drinks much wine, then regurgitates the contents of his stomach before the beast, which devours the resulting matter. The wine, the product of viticulture, does not affect the human, but it stupefies the lion. We are reminded of the inability of bestial monsters such as Polyphemos and the centaurs to handle strong wine; humans can retain their self-control with wine inside them, animals and monsters cannot. Once the lion is thoroughly doped in this way, Phylios is able to stuff up its mouth with his clothing and thus kill it. Clothing is another quintessentially human thing, used to the animal’s disadvantage. Phylios thus defeats the lion using aspects of his humanity. In this myth, the man-animal difference is played out in particularly concentrated form; but a great number of stories of hero-beast combat serve a similar function.

  • 35 On this topic, see Robson (1997).
  • 36 Diod. 4.77.1-4.
  • 37 Ant. Lib. Met. 21.
  • 38 Though, interestingly, one of the offspring is called Agrios (‘Wild’), which is also the name of on (...)

22From war to love: the second motif which features frequently in myths of animal/human interaction is that of bestiality, of transgressive coupling between human and animal.35 Whereas for man to fight wild beast is depicted generally as a heroic necessity, bestiality breaks all the rules and tends to receive corresponding punishment. In addition, it is itself often used as divine retribution. Perhaps the most famous example is Pasiphaë,36 whose passion for the miraculous bull on Crete was inflicted by Poseidon as punishment for Minos’ earlier failure to sacrifice the bull to him. The result of the transgressive union is the mixanthropic monster the Minotaur, which has to be confined within the Labyrinth and which feeds on human flesh. In some ways similar, and a little richer in detail, is the Thracian myth of Polyphonte,37 who rejects Aphrodite, and instead goes into the mountains as a devotee of Artemis. As punishment, Aphrodite makes her fall in love with, and couple with, a bear. Artemis sees the act and, disgusted, turns all the wild beasts against Polyphonte, who is consequently forced to flee to her father’s house, where she gives birth to monstrous (though not mixanthropic38) offspring, who dishonour the gods and eat human flesh. An interesting extra element is added by this story: Polyphonte is punished twice, and in the first instance the animal/human boundary is broken down, while in the second it is made unnaturally intense. Unnatural love gives way to unnatural hatred. Both stages play with the human-animal divide.

  • 39 Forbes Irving (1990); Buxton (2009).
  • 40 Gilhus (2006), 78-86.
  • 41 Bynum (2001): she performs a broad and comparative study of the theme of metamorphosis in both anci (...)

23Metamorphosis is another mythological way of exploring the divide by a motif of its transgression. Like bestiality, it is very often inflicted on humans by gods as retribution, though just as often, humans choose it as a means of escape from some (often sexual) threat. The instances in myth are overwhelmingly numerous, thanks in part to the interest in the subject of such authors as Antoninus Liberalis and Ovid (to name only two whose work survives). The cases and the trends involved in their retelling are exhaustively collated and discussed by Forbes Irving and Buxton,39 and discussions of its significance in the discourse of human identity are to be found in Gilhus40 and Bynum.41 Metamorphosis in relation to mixanthropic deities will play an important part in later discussion. Here it is important simply to note its great rôle in delineating the animal/human relationship in myth. There is no doubt that this relationship is behind both the creation and the recreation, over centuries, of a considerable bulk of the myths known to us. Scholarship, particularly that beneath the Structuralist umbrella, has long recognised it as one of the chief themes in Greek self-expression.

24So there is no doubt that mixanthropy, divine or otherwise, exists against an extensive backdrop of themes concerning the divide between humans and animals. Like metamorphosis and bestiality, mixanthropy is important because it elides divisions and brings the two states, human and non-human, into an unusual and perilous proximity. Without doubt, mixanthropes are good to think with. They are useful tools for self-expression and the exploration of identity. But what of mixanthropic deities? However, before they can be approached, further contextualisation of Greek mixanthropy generally is required.

4. Mixanthropy across ancient cultures: Egypt and the Near East

25There are few ancient religions which do not have some cases of divine mixanthropy. Horned gods, for example, are remarkably universal, occurring among the Celts of Britain and Gaul, in Cyprus, Phoenicia and Libya, to name but a few places. However, this study does not attempt a grand world-wide sweep; and it must be asked how and why other cultures may inform our understanding of Greek mixanthropy. From this point of view, Egypt and the Near East (especially Mesopotamia, on which I shall concentrate) have special contributions to make. We know there to have been substantial contact between them and Greece from an early date, but that in itself is not significant, since the lines of cultural influence are not as clear as to be consistently useful: a few individual mixanthropes seem to derive aspects of their physical form from these non-Greek cultures, but what we cannot tell is the extent to which characterisation, function and associations travelled along with basic anatomy. So little can be achieved by trying to establish basic influence on Greek mixanthropy from Egypt and the Near East. Rather, the two regions are valuable as comparanda, as models of how mixanthropy may function within a religious system. Egypt serves as a model of contrast; the Near East seems to offer some fruitful analogies.

26Whereas their Greek counterparts tend to be relatively unknown, Egyptian mixanthropic deities have a kind of iconic status in the modern imagination. They represent all that is otherworldly and bizarre in a society which has lent its imagery (in distorted form) to the genre of science fiction and fantasy. In ancient reality, too, mixanthropic gods plainly occupied centre stage in Egyptian sacred imagery. The Egyptian mixanthrope par excellence is zoocephalic, a humanoid body and limbs crowned with the head of an animal with which the deity in question was associated, though there were also rarer examples of gods manifest in wholly animal form, such as the Apis bull or the ram of Mendes. Moreover, whereas mixanthropy in Greek religion tended to be the preserve of particular deities whom it distinguished from the anthropomorphic norm, few Egyptian deities were without the possibility of mixanthropic depiction; for most it was conventional.

27Given the obvious importance of mixanthropy in Egyptian religious imagery, can it tell us anything about what mixanthropy ‘means’, and can this be applied to Greek culture? Well, as has been said, it is immediately clear that difference is more in evidence than similarity; but contrast can in itself be revealing.

28It has been observed by scholars of the region that, for the Egyptians, the world around them could be read and decoded, and the world of the divine was no exception. This has been connected with the use and the magical potency of hieroglyphics: nature and the gods were thought to present mankind with symbols which were a form of communication and which the learned might train themselves to read. The Universe consisted of a copious vocabulary of signs, natural hieroglyphs, there for the reading for those who possessed the required expertise. Knowledge was power; secrets were there to be unlocked. It is against this backdrop that animal-headed gods should be viewed, and indeed the rarer theriomorphic ones. Animal form, or, more usually, an animal head, were symbols the gods could use when manifesting themselves to mortals; and they were symbols mortals could use when depicting the gods in certain manifestations.

  • 42 On this matter the work of Hornung remains paramount: see esp. Hornung (1982; orig. publ. 1971), 10 (...)
  • 43 Buxton (2009), 180.

29So, symbols of what? Though consistency should not be stressed to the exclusion of all regional and temporal variety, Egyptian culture had a palette of associations between certain animal species and certain qualities which the gods (and for that matter mortals) could display. Cows were associated with maternal tenderness, lions with wildness, the jackal with tombs and the afterlife, and so on. On these associations gods could draw for their manifestations; on them too mortal artists could draw to depict not just the perceived appearance of gods but also their inner nature, their dominant functions and characteristics. It has long been recognised that the zoocephalic form was not simply how the Egyptians perceived their gods to look, but rather a way of designating in pictogram form all the ingredients of the divinity.42 This is reflected in the fact that the same god could adopt different animal attributes, depending on the aspect required for display and emphasis at any given time.43 The anthropomorphic body and limbs in representations of zoocephalic gods tend to have a rather generic quality, and there is no doubt that the greatest expressional intensity resides in the head.

30As Hornung observes, however, even this well-developed system of signs could not give a mortal a complete picture and understanding of a god’s nature. It was part of the power of gods that their full nature was cloaked in mystery which could only ever be partially penetrated. The limitation of physical depiction, and the existence of unknowable godhead beyond depiction, beyond the humanly discernible, is one of the most striking features of Egyptian religion; however, this topic must wait for the final chapter of this book in which there is a full discussion of the relationship between representation and imagined form.

31Here it is sufficient to remark that mixanthropy in Egypt was part of a highly developed semiotic system, but was also ‘kept in its place’ by the acknowledgment that outward signs did not equate precisely to inner truth. It is in the recognition of this developed system, however, that we discern the greatest contrast with the Greek material. In Egypt it depended on extensive religious writings and a priestly caste, both of which allowed for theological and philosophical thought of a highly developed nature, as well as a sense of basic coherence and orthodoxy. This in turn allows us to comment on the ‘meaning’ of mixanthropy across the board in Egyptian religion.

  • 44 The frequency of this expression in sacred laws reflects the emphasis on the continuity of ritual a (...)

32We find little like this on the Greek side. There were of course no truly canonical or canonising religious texts to forge unified principles in this matter; the picture is far more fragmented, and we see instead a folk religion built up from generations of habitual cult practice and the repetition of folklore. Priests there were, but rather than being the keepers of cherished and secret religious truths these functioned largely to officiate at rituals and ensure their continuation kata ta patria.44 The upshot for the present study is that it is impossible to make any immediate and straightforward remarks about what mixanthropy means. A brief summary of its significance such as has been provided for the Egyptian material is impossible for the Greek because of its extreme variety; also because it is governed by subtle and implicit patterns which must be drawn out and revealed by lengthy study and comparison of individual instances. As for animal symbolism, there are some persistent associations at work, and these will be discussed where relevant, but to decontextualise these and present them as universally applicable within Greek culture as a whole is quite impossible. So, the case of Egypt tells us what, on the Greek side, we do not have. The Near East by contrast presents us with a tantalising set of similarities whose value is less purely theoretical.

  • 45 Useful descriptions of the various recurring mixanthropic personalities of the Near East are to be (...)
  • 46 For an example of ‘non-integral’ horns, see Porada (1995), 31, fig. 9: a figure of the goat-man, da (...)

33Mesopotamian culture, like Egypt, provides a profusion of mixanthropic imagery45 in all forms of artistic visual media from near-ubiquitous cylinder seals to the great stone reliefs of the neo-Assyrian societies of Nimrud and Nineveh. Anatomical variety is considerable among the demons of the region: animal-headed humans, human-headed animals, winged figures, horned figures, and other arrangements and combinations besides. Certain characters arise repeatedly in consistent form (such as the bull-man and the goat-man), but this material does reveal how much sheer flexibility there is within the basic idea of the animal/human hybrid. Moreover, true mixanthropy is part of a wider palette of animal/human boundary transgressions. Sometimes, for example, an animal is given quasi-human appearance simply through upright posture; sometimes again the animal parts seem to be functioning as costumes or accessories, as is the case with some of the horned beings,46 and with the fish-Apkallu who wear their fish-skins like a sort of cloak.

  • 47 The glyptic images in question tend to be ritual and cultic in theme; however, we have to acknowled (...)
  • 48 On this difficult relationship between text and image, see Wiggermann (1992), x-xii and 148-9.

34As with Egypt, the richesse of these images, plainly absolutely central to the art of the region, shows up the relative obscurity and marginality of Greek mixanthropes. However, it presents its own difficulty of interpretations. As has been recognised by scholars of Mesopotamian art, the sticking point in our understanding is the uncertain relationship between text and image, an uncertainty always present in ancient societies but especially troublesome in this region where imagery abounds and clearly related texts are in distinctly short supply. The scenes in which mixanthropic figures appear rarely accord with the literary narratives we do possess,47 and the result is that in most cases we are dealing with anonymous and mysterious personalities engaged in scenes and activities which we do not fully understand.48

35There are two major exceptions to this rule, both of which are significant for the purposes of this study: first, the idea of the demon as protective agent; second, that of the demon as defeated adversary. Both these motifs straddle the text/image divide, allowing for more extensive and fruitful interpretation than would otherwise be the case. Both also highlight features of Greek mixanthropy which will come up repeatedly in the present study.

  • 49 For a helpful general discussion see Westenholz (2004), 15-16.

36The ancient Mesopotamians clearly had one frequent and urgent use of their imagined demons: to ward off ills such as disease and robbery. A significant number of texts and artefacts can be included within this apotropaic type.49 For example, we have amulets designed to keep at bay the malign powers of Lamashtu, snatcher of children; these amulets show Lamashtu’s semi-bestial form, and also depict the various beings who may be harnessed for aid against him: shown are ranks of helpful demons (safety from numbers), including the wind-demon Pazuzu and the fish-Apkallu, or sages, with their scaly carapaces. Our understanding of the amulets, however, largely derives from texts which have been discovered instructing on the warding off of Lamashtu.

  • 50 The text has been pieced together from different manuscripts, and translated and discussed, by Wigg (...)
  • 51 Lines 170-82.

37If we look more closely at another example, the rôle of mixanthropic and theriomorphic demons is illustrated further. The text called shêp lemutti ina bît amêli parâsu (‘To block the entry of the enemy into someone’s house’) instructs the reader on the creation of apotropaic figurines.50 The substance out of which the effigies are to be made (including cornel-wood and tamarisk) is dictated, as are their colours, forms and attributes. Some are to have wings; some are to have bird faces; some are to have fish-scales.51 Effigies are to be made of characters who seem wholly animal (Viper, Bison, the catalogue of dogs at lines 191-205 who have names such as ‘Who makes the evil ones go out’), and of others named from animals with qualities specified (Furious-snake, Mad-lions), and, last but not least, of composite creatures, including Scorpion-man, Fish-man, Lion-man and Carp-goat. These characters are known from the material record as well: just such apotropaic figurines have been discovered (we know that they were typically placed at or near building entrances, as guardians), and personalities such as the Scorpion-man may be recognised on cylinder-seals as well.

  • 52 For example, in the second-millenium text known as the Description of Gods, we find demonic abstrac (...)
  • 53 Porada (1995), 24-6.

38It is clear that the demons of the Near East are not objectively bad. They are frightening and uncanny, but these very properties give them their practical value to beleaguered mortals in search of assistance against malign forces. Malign forces are also conceived as demons;52 so it is a matter of suborning malleable demons to one’s aid using magic ritual, to ward off those who are mankind’s implacable foes. Crucially, a large part of the effectiveness of effigies and amulets derived from their (laborious and symbolically charged) creation. Porada argues that the very forging of such an image, in Near Eastern thought, was a potent magical act, and that carved and modelled forms had their own inherent power.53 Monsters, of course, because they do not occur in nature, are ‘extra created’ and have an especially strong relationship with the act of manufacture, and this may in part account for their particular prominence among the apotropaic ranks.

  • 54 For the date and context of the poem’s composition, see Wasilewska (2000), 49-51. As she points out (...)
  • 55 For discussion of the various mythological rôles of Ninurta, see Annus (2002), 109-86.

39This emphasis on harnessing the destructive potential of demons surely connects with the second significant aspect to be discussed: their characterisation as defeated and subordinate. It has been observed that in several cases this characterisation appears to be a secondary development rather than an original feature; however, it comes to dominate. It has various manifestations. Demons can be subordinate adjuncts of deities, symbolically connected with their nature and functions. In some cases, also, they fall prey to the conquering might of heroes, especially Ninurta and Marduk, the latter of whose deeds are described in the epic Enûma Elish. This text was probably the product largely of the later second millennium BC, during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and one of its aims seems to have been the reinforcement of Marduk’s rôle as ruler of the Universe, and the corresponding designation of the sea-goddess Tiâmat as his Adversary.54 The malign demons become her offspring and her cohorts, and when they are defeated by Marduk they are turned into his trophies, emblems of his victory over the monstrous hordes. Another demon-slayer with an even earlier pedigree is the Sumerian Ninurta, whose exploits are recounted in epic works such as Lugale, in which the defeat of demons is significantly combined with acts of civilisation and organisation.55

  • 56 See Mellink (1987).
  • 57 See Westenholz (2004), 14.

40The depiction of monsters as defeated foes reflects a wider Near Eastern tendency to depict demons as subsidiary. Working chiefly with Anatolian imagery, Mellink examines the appearance of demons, very often mixanthropic, in the rôle of offering-bearers and other cult servants, especially associated with libation. This figure he identifies as prevalent also in Minoan art: the so-called ‘Minoan Genius’ tends to serve a (probable) deity in this manner.56 Mesopotamian texts allot demons to certain deities as their subordinate adjuncts.57 The pattern, in Near Eastern material, of placing the demon in a servile position, if not a defeated one, is highly comparable to their ritual use: harnessed and channelled, using ritual, to ensure that their energies are employed to the benefit of the practitioner concerned.

  • 58 Faraone (1992), 26. He identifies strong Eastern influence on Greece as the other, rather simpler, (...)

41That this finds strong echoes in Greek attitudes towards mixanthropes and other monsters is beyond doubt. Christopher Faraone argues, entirely convincingly, for the existence of a pervasive set of ancient ideas concerning the power of objects and representations to avert evil; among these ‘phylacteries’, theriomorphic, mixanthropic and monstrous forms have an unsurpassed rôle. Malignity is widely expressed through animal and animal-hybrid imagery. This is undoubtedly the strongest link between the mixanthropes of Greece and the Near East, and it reveals the value of acknowledging cultural contexts beyond the Greek world in its narrower sense. Whether, to quote Faraone, the use of demonic figures for apotropaic purposes constitutes ‘a cultural substratum shared by all eastern Mediterranean civilizations’58 it is hard to say. But it is certainly worth identifying common ground.

42However, a comprehensive study of all eastern Mediterranean civilisations and their mixanthropes is not the aim of this book. The next stage of this Introduction turns to examine Greek attitudes towards mixanthropy generally, as the last contextualising preliminary necessary to understanding the special significance of mixanthropic gods.

5. Mixanthropy in Greek culture

43The way in which Greek mixanthropy comes most forcefully to the attention of the viewer is through visual means. Put simply, Greek artists delighted in monsters. The pervasiveness of this imagery can leave us in no doubt that it would have shaped and informed the perceptions in which mixanthropic gods participated, to a massive extent. This book is not intended as an art-historical survey (such studies have been made, some of them recent and many of them excellent); but to ignore widespread mixanthropic imagery when it would have been so much part of the man-made landscape of daily life in ancient Greece, and thus implicitly at least so formative, would be thoroughly mistaken. This part of the Introduction, therefore, begins with visual material, before proceeding to the mythical narratives which are the second most copious ‘vehicle’ for the mixanthrope in Greek culture.

5.1. A world of decoration

  • 59 This argument is made forcefully by Winkler-Horaçek (2008, 507) in the context of the Korinthian an (...)

44There is no clear line of separation, in Greek art, between narrative and decorative scenes. Arrangements of forms which might at first glance seem to function purely as patterns, without ‘plot’, can in fact often be shown to be full of meaningful interaction. Even a single figure may tell a simple story. Moreover, to be purely decorative, were that even possible, does not equate to a lack of meaning.59 Meaning may also be latent, or even lost. Mystery attends the identity and the significance of numberless ornamental mixanthropes, such as the beautiful golden bee-women shown in fig. 1. Are they Melissai, bee-nymphs? Do they relate to Artemis? Or are they simply visual whimsies, products of ingenious artistic imagination? In most cases we shall never know.

  • 60 Osborne (1998), 43.

45Despite the inadvisability of equating ‘decorative’ with ‘meaningless’, it is true that a large part of the visual impact of the mixanthropic form in early Greek art is made in media which have a dominant decorative function, and this use of mixanthropy to engage the eye using the aesthetic of the fabulous, so to speak, is significant. Many of the decorative mixanthropes in early Greek art owe much to the intense Eastern influence in the seventh century. Osborne notes the heightened interest in the fabulous wit­nessed by this century, and speaks of a ‘fantastic invasion’;60 among the unnatural anatomies, mixanthropes are by a long way the most numerous participants in this invasion-force. Once taken into the Greek repertoire, Eastern forms rapidly become charged with associations and meaning drawn from their host culture.

  • 61 ibid., 43-7.
  • 62 Winkler-Horaçek (2008), 504-5.

46As Osborne also notes, this influx marks a shift from the previous century’s general preoccupation with animals found in nature, including domestic animals such as formed a part of daily life.61 That noted, however, one of the most interesting and significant features of the decorative mixanthrope in this early period and beyond is its inclusion within a bestiary flexible enough to contain, side by side, real domestic animals (though admittedly these are relatively rare), real wild animals, and impossible forms such as the mixanthrope and other hybrids. Indeed, several of its denizens straddle the real/imagined divide, showing a fluid continuum of reality which it is essential to examine as the context of mixanthropy in the realm of ornament. This is best seen at work in the animal-frieze pots of the Korinthian workshops, a type of pottery which has its inception at the end of the eighth century and reaches its zenith around 600 BC. Though emerging from a single polis, Korinthian pottery had a massive range of exportation and exerted considerable artistic influence on the Greek world.62 At the same time, it clearly reveals Eastern influence, and its own adaptation of Eastern conventions.

  • 63 It is interesting that, as Osborne notes, the Orientalizing period sees a coincidence between the h (...)
  • 64 Winkler-Horaçek (2008), 508.

47Though the fabulous animal frieze is the sine qua non of Korinthian pottery, its use was widespread, as can be seen in fig. 2, a vessel which, though simple in design, shows the range of the popular bestiary at work. The Sirens in the decoration, a popular choice of mixanthrope in this medium, are juxtaposed with birds and panthers, the panthers tending to present their faces frontally, another characteristic of their species on these pots.63 As Winkler-Horaçek remarks, panthers (and other artistically popular beasts such as lions) are half-way between real and imagined: they are not impossible, and did indeed exist, but would not have been part of the average Greek’s daily life, and would certainly have participated in the aura of the wild, the unfamiliar and the exotic such as mixanthropes and other hybrids inhabited. Thirdly, in the example given, we see wild goats, bulls and long-necked birds. The goats are long-horned and by no means quotidian, but the bulls and birds have nothing unusual about them, and these forms would not have presented an especially exotic spectacle to the ancient viewer. So what is remarkable is the way in which mixanthropy is part of a sliding scale of peculiarity. It occupies one extreme end, but is not visibly differentiated from the rest of the scale: the very regularity of the frieze arrangement brings all its creatures into visual harmony, reduces difference, stresses continuity. As Winkler-Horaçek puts it, ‘Die Monster sind eingebunden in einer Welt der Tiere, in der Realität und Fiktion verschwimmen.’64

  • 65 ibid., 516-9.

48This, in his argument, has two implications. First, it ties the creatures on the pots in with a wider pattern in Greek literary descriptions of wild and imagined places whereby places and beings are ordered into three interlocking zones: the real, the speculative and the mythological. On the Korinthian pots as in Herodotos and other authors, the three zones blur but retain some mutual distinction. The second concerns another effect of the extreme regularity of arrangement of forms on the pots: for Winkler-Horaçek, this represents the taming and the ordering of animal life, a theme given impetus by the development of the polis.65 This theme of control will be revisited when we examine the rôle of the mixanthrope in myths.

49The seventh century may have started the ball rolling, but the mixanthropic form continues to appear alongside animals and other forms of hybrid in Greek decorative arts with a remarkable persistence, adorning all material media from tiny carved gems and pieces of jewellery to monumental sculpture both relief and free-standing. Increasingly, however, it also manifests itself within narratives which place it firmly within the mythological zone.

5.2. The retinue of Dionysos

  • 66 To be precise, Dionysos’ first appearances are on the famous dinos painted by Sophilos, and on the (...)

50It has already been remarked that, though on the one hand mixanthropic forms are ubiquitous in Greek art, one notable cluster is discernible: this cluster is around the figure of the god Dionysos. It is a literal cluster as well as a metaphorical one: mixanthropic creatures are part of the retinue depicted as thronging around the god, tending his cult and conducting his revels. Scenes showing the god and his followers are particularly prevalent on painted Attic pottery, and arise in the early sixth century,66 in the age of black figure, after which they enjoy a lasting popularity, though the presentation of the theme undergoes some changes and developments.

51In accordance with Greek art across the board, in these scenes mixanthropy is juxtaposed with other types of anatomical form: human (the god himself is almost undeviatingly anthropomorphic, as are his female followers) and animal (panthers become Dionysiac creatures, for example, and the mule is a regular member of the thiasos). Mixanthropes, however, are especially present, and it is interesting to note that in this context other forms of hybrid, animal/animal combinations such as the Chimaira, are not in the mix. There is clearly something about beings who amalgamate human and non-human that makes them especially suited to the Bacchic environment.

  • 67 That said, the earliest manifestations of the mixanthropic companions of Dionysos, ithyphallic, hor (...)
  • 68 On this valuable quality of the satyr, see esp. Lissarrague 1990 and 1993; see also Padgett (2003), (...)

52The Dionysiac mixanthrope par excellence is the satyr.67 Generally horse-tailed and sometimes also horse-hoofed, and with snubbed, animal-type features, the satyr has long been recognised by scholars as an expression of the world outside social normality, a being who does not live by human rules and who obeys only the commands of the Wine God and the promptings of its own animalistic nature. Satyrs do what humans cannot (and get away with it), and yet their human components ensure that they are not simply animals behaving as animals ought. Their incorporation of both human and non-human parts allows them to maintain the piquancy of transgression without infringing the values of actual human society.68

  • 69 Interestingly, the satyrs themselves seem to be drawn into proximity with the god, having previousl (...)
  • 70 See Hom. Hymn 7.6-53.
  • 71 Eur. Bacch. 918-22.

53Satyrs may be the mixanthropic core of the thiasos, but it is interesting to note the magnetic attraction which it has for mixanthropy, drawing several different beings, including some of the deities studied in this book, into Dionysos’ orbit.69 Pan is a case in point; so is the river-god Acheloos. It is clear from immediate inspection that the thiasos in art is a very suitable milieu for mixanthropes, divine and otherwise, allowing them to deploy their phantasy-qualities in a company where wildness and illusion are rife. Dionysos as a god in myth both causes and presides over a magical distortion of nature’s laws as well as those of society: he can turn men into beasts, as in the case of the Tyrrhenian pirates who attempt his capture and become dolphins for their pains;70 and he can, like the wine he partly represents, break down men’s perceptions of what is actual and what is imagined. In Euripides’ Bacchai, Pentheus famously sees two suns, a double Thebes, and Dionysos himself as bull-like and horned.71 In other texts Dionysos also has shape-shifting properties himself (see Chapter 2). For Dionysos to be at the centre of a varied throng of impossible forms is consistent with his wider artistic and literary portrayal.

  • 72 Von Blackenhagen (1998).
  • 73 Lattimore’s 1976 study of the marine thiasos is still useful; slightly more recent discussion is pr (...)
  • 74 It would be unwise to regard the marine thiasos as purely decorative froth, without meaning. Barrin (...)

54The thiasos is perhaps the heartland of a noteworthy development in mixanthropic imagery in the later Classical, Hellenistic and indeed also Roman periods: its increasing tendency to be playful, charming and picturesque. Von Blanckenhagen has noted that various monsters, mixanthropes among them, gradually lose their most threatening visual characteristics and become more winsome and appealing, frequently naughty but rarely seriously frightening.72 It is this adaptability which allows mixanthropy and fabulous beings in general to maintain an astonishingly long-lived popularity in art, a popularity which in fact never truly ended, finding late expression, for example, in medieval church carving, and entering our modern sculptural canon through neo-Classical motifs. Returning to antiquity, it is very interesting to note the types of mixanthrope which are especially popular in post-Classical art. Those associated with Dionysos, satyrs and silens and Pans, are a perennial favourite of artists in all media, and the Dionysiac sphere branches out into a new dimension, or rather a new element, to provide the increasingly repeated scene of the marine thiasos, as it is called, in which Tritons (half-man, half-fish) frolic with hippocamps and Nereids in a frothy wave-borne revel.73 Like its terrestrial counterpart, the marine thiasos allows the artist to play with a parade of figures, like a frieze, but one full of movement and interaction, as Nereids perch on Tritons’ coiling tails, and hippocamps are harnessed.74

55So, throughout antiquity, the people of the Greek world (and the Roman) would have lived with a visual backdrop in which the decorative mixanthrope bulked large, though seldom in isolation but rather in a varied spectrum of anthropomorphic and fabulous forms. Decorative mixanthropes could be static shapes – satyr-face antefixes on temple roofs, for example – or they could be ‘living’ forms in scenes full of movement and drama. Often, of course, art depicted them as part of a myth known also from the textual material, and the mythological contribution of mixanthropes was no less than their artistic one. The next part of this Introduction will examine mixanthropes in myth, beginning with a general discussion of the idea of the monster, a category in which mixanthropes undoubtedly operated, but which requires definition.

5.3. Myth and the monster: the combat motif

56Many mythological stories attach specifically to mixanthropic deities, and these will be examined in due course. However, it is necessary to view these against a wider pattern whereby mixanthropic beings appear in myth as destructive and unhelpful entities, designated as monsters. That certain deities should be visually so similar to a large number of malign mythical figures is very striking, and this subsection will examine these figures and their literary representation. However, first some remarks on definitions are necessary.

57Two Greek words and their cognates are regularly used of the beings here to be discussed, and these show up the typical characterisation of Greek monsters. The first is teras. This indicates something contrary to nature, and especially something ominous, a portent. The ultimate teras is the unnatural birth, which the Greeks regarded not just as unfortunate but also an indication of divine wrath and future contingent suffering. In this regard teras is directly comparable with Latin monstrum, the word which gives us ‘monster’ and whose primary meaning is that of something revealed or shown. Malformed or inhuman infants and prodigies of all kinds have a communicatory and revelatory function and can be read as signs, usually signs of imminent ills. The word teras, however, comes to be applied widely to unnatural creatures of all kinds, including the mythological entities here discussed.

  • 75 Occasionally, a monster has an unnaturally low number of a particular body-part; examples are the C (...)

58The second term is pelôr (or pelôron). This indicates bulk, and reflects the second key property of the monster in Greek culture: a certain quality of excess. This does not have to be merely in size, but can also be in number, for example the three heads of Kerberos or the hundred hands of the Hundred-handed Ones.75 However, a superfluity of body-parts is always accompanied by extreme bulk also. The crux of this quality is that monsters exceed nature. Thus pelôr and teras link up because they both indicate the unnatural, things which deviate from the regularly occurring norm.

  • 76 An example of a mythical beast called a teras: a giant serpent at Hom. Il. 12.209. Pelôr is used of (...)
  • 77 Nemean Lion as thêr: Eur. HF 153; the Erymanthian Boar: Soph. Trach. 1097; Kerberos: Soph. OC 1659.
  • 78 Of centaurs: Soph. Trach. 556-8; of satyrs: Eur. Cyc. 624.

59The unnatural anatomical combinations of the mixanthrope accord with this theme perfectly, but it is important to note that mixanthropes are only one type of monster, though they are certainly the dominant type. The two monster-words can be used also of huge and terrible beasts and of beings with unnatural but not mixanthropic anatomies.76 The designation of mixanthropes by the words teras and pelôr has the effect not of setting them apart but of including them in a certain varied group, which one might term the ‘canon of the monstrous’. Interestingly, mixanthropes can also be described using the words thêr and thêrion, which mean simply ‘wild beast’ and thus ignore the human element entirely. The words can be used of monstrous animals77 and of mixanthropes78 seemingly interchangeably. One is reminded of the frieze-arrangements on the Korinthian pots discussed above, and of the artists’ disinclination to distinguish different types of creature within the fabulous ranks. Human parts are not enough by themselves to lift mixanthropes out of the canon of the monstrous and into a wholly different semiotic register.

60The rôles of monsters in Greek myth may be summarised as consisting of a perennial foe-status. This is often manifested as an enmity to man, which has two aspects: direct combat with human characters in myth, especially a hero or heroes; and a more general destructive impact on the works of man. Of course the two aspects are often combined. A mixanthropic example is the Sirens. They plague shipping, and hinder man’s efforts to navigate safely the inherently perilous sea; they are defeated, according to several mythological accounts, by Odysseus’ failure to yield to their song. A non-mixanthropic example is the Erymanthian Boar, who is a pest to humanity because he destroys crops, and who is dealt with by Herakles in one of his twelve labours. Herakles is, of course, the foremost monster-slayer in Greek mythology, and the ranks of his victims gives us a representative tranche of the canon of the monstrous, comprising mixanthropes such as the centaurs, non-mixanthropic physical ‘freaks’ such as Geryon, and numerous monstrous animals.

  • 79 Apollod. Bibl. 2.5.1-12. See Scarpi (1998).

61Monsters are foes, and they are almost always defeated. In this they are strongly reminiscent of the beings defeated by Ninurta and Marduk in Near Eastern mythology. There is, however, an important difference: whereas, as has been noted above, the defeat motif may be seen as a secondary development in the Near Eastern material, it would be unwise to posit a similar evolution on the Greek side. The foe-status of Greek monsters, and the general inevitability of their defeat, appear to go back as early as we have literature allowing us to analyse their rôle. In fact, one of the most extensive and significant treatments of the subjugation of monsters occurs in Hesiod’s poetry, probably seventh century in date, and therefore (it should be noted) roughly contemporary with the heightened artistic interest in monstrous forms and in Eastern imports. While we find individual hero/monster combats in almost all mythographical texts (for example, a great slice of Apollodoros’ Bibliotheke is given over to Herakles’ conquests79), Hesiod’s Theogony is unique in the way it meshes such tales together into a great cosmic aition in which monsters make a significant contribution.

62In the Theogony, Hesiod does not present monsters as a perfectly distinct category of beings; rather, they are incorporated within the mélange of divine, elemental and fantastical beings who play their parts within the creation and development of the kosmos. Moreover, though the word pelôron occurs frequently to designate them, Hesiodic monsters are not uniform: some are mixan­thropic, but others display alternative types of unnatural or excessive form. However, although integrated and various, they do appear strongly at key junctures, and some overarching patterns may be discerned in their characterisation.

63The greatest concentration of monsters in the narrative occurs at lines 270-336, in which the poet describes the offspring of Phorkys and Keto, who are themselves siblings born of Pontos (Sea) and Gaie (Earth). The children of Phorkys and Keto all have some aspect of the monstrous about them: they include the Graiai, born grey-haired, the Gorgons (including Medusa, who is the mother of Pegasos) and the anguipede Echidna. Echidna produces a second generation of such beings when she couples with Typhaon: the hounds Orthos and Kerberos and the Lernaian Hydra; and, from her own son Orthos, the Theban Sphinx and the Nemean lion. The genealogical spate of monsters derived from sea-beings Phorkys and Keto is part of the early and elemental phases of the Theogony.

  • 80 Lines 139-56.
  • 81 Lines 820-35.

64Gaie gives birth to Phorkys and Keto, but she is also a direct producer of monstrous young. Her offspring with Ouranos (Heaven) are various, not uniformly monstrous like those of Phorkys and Keto, but they do include the Kyklopes and the Hekatoncheires80 and – later in the text and privileged by isolation from the main catalogue of her children with Ouranos – the super-monster Typhoios, whose father is Tartaros and whose many physical peculiarities are treated with an unusually lavish detail.81 Typhoios is essentially mixanthropic: to a human frame are added a hundred snake-heads springing from the shoulders, and his voices are inhuman, incorporating those of bull, lion, dog and serpent in a grim polyphony. These animal-human combinations are juxtaposed with excessive might and fire flashing from eyes and snake-heads. In the complexity of Hesiod’s description, simple mixanthropy (human plus one animal species) is rejected in favour of a multiplicity of monstrous features.

  • 82 Lines 836-68.
  • 83 Lines 313-18; 326-32.
  • 84 Lines 280-81 and 319-25.

65For all their physical variety, Hesiod’s monsters have certain important things in common. They are all potentially if not actually dangerous, and they all have to be dealt with, most frequently by direct defeat. Zeus’ frantic battle with Typhoios which leads to the monster being vanquished and hurled into Tartaros82 is the most intense example of the motif, but there are others, and Zeus is not the only protagonist; his son Herakles takes up the baton, so to speak, and frees mankind from several of Keto’s scions, the Lernaian Hydra and the Nemean lion among them.83 Divine father and hero son work hand in glove in this regard, though Perseus and Bellerophon also have rôles to play, killing Medusa and the Chimaira respectively.84

  • 85 Lines 617-663.
  • 86 Typhoios is unusual in that he retains some pestilential qualities (being the source of destructive (...)
  • 87 Lines 300 and 304.
  • 88 Line 303.
  • 89 See Faraone (1992), 36-53.

66Two fates await monsters defeated in this way: death is one, but another is some form of confinement, such as that of Typhoios in Tartaros. Revealing is the case of the Hekatoncheires, Obriareus, Kottos and Gyes, who are confined in bonds under the earth by their father Kronos; however, Zeus releases them from their captivity and they fight for him in the war against the Titans.85 This reflects the way in which the dangerous might of Hesiodic monsters may be harnessed and exploited, especially to the benefit of Zeus’ régime (though they are also aimed against him: Typhoios is produced as a direct and deliberate threat to his rule).86 Not all monsters have to be defeated; a few are both dread and useful from the start, such as Echidna who, for all that she is an omêstês and lugrê,87 has a guardian rôle – albeit ill-defined – in her subterranean cavern, granted her by the gods.88 Another monster, Kerberos, is the guard of Hades’ gates, and thus a preserver of boundaries, despite (anatomically) challenging them himself; this reminds one of the ‘fighting fire with fire’ principle identified by Faraone as central to the power of monstrous images in Greek culture,89 a principle also at work among the Near Eastern protective demons discussed above. Like the Near Eastern demons, figures like Kerberos become subordinate to the will of the presiding gods, and help to ward off the chaos they inherently represent. So some monsters are useful, others are made so; those that cannot be so are slain or imprisoned.

  • 90 The usefulness of the Kyklopes to Zeus: lines 139-46.
  • 91 Clay (1993), 106.
  • 92 Clay points out the importance in this narrative of endogamy and a kind of concentration of element (...)

67It is vital to note that the formation of these motifs corresponds to the particular purposes and preoccupations of the Theogony and its poet. The Theogony is about the process whereby Zeus establishes and enforces his rule over the world of the immortals, and in this process monsters have their rôle to play, though it is not a rôle which should be viewed in isolation. Monsters such as Typhoios are among the enemies which his régime faces; and monsters such as the Kyklopes and the Hekatoncheires are among those beings who are incorporated into it usefully and made to serve its ends.90 It is impossible to divorce the motif of defeated and subordinated monsters in Hesiod from these specific themes and mechanisms of the poem, and for that matter from the poet’s perception of his own contribution; for in describing the arrival of Zeus onto the divine stage, and his imposition of order and control, Hesiod is depicting a process in some ways parallel to his own task as author. His work orders the complicated and tangled ranks of the divine, their genealogies and interrelationships. It forges a taxonomy of beings,91 rather as Aristotle later forges a taxonomy of the animal world. Likewise, Zeus instils order in a cosmos previously dominated by the chaotic entities of the preceding generations, monsters among them, with their complex and species-defying anatomies and their unnatural procreation.92 Chaotic forces are not all removed, but they are all somehow made safe.

  • 93 Walcot (1966).

68And yet despite this unique and complex structure is it justifiable and indeed necessary to draw attention to the Theogony’s correspondence with other narratives of monster-defeat in Greek myth. Early and influential, the work would certainly have helped to shape the way such episodes were imagined and described, acting also as a major point of influx for Near Eastern mythology into Greek thought.93 At the same time one can also speculate that both it and other works were drawing upon common background stores of folkloric material. In any case, we find in the Theogony themes which emerge regularly in ancient literature: that monsters are dangerous, that they must be defeated and either killed or safely harnessed or confined.

69Greek literature after Homer and Hesiod continues to characterise monsters in this way. In addition, these are strong prevailing themes in the visual record too, and a large proportion of non-divine (and sometimes also divine) mixanthropes are shown fighting against a hero or other human protagonist. This pitting of human against monster plainly accomplishes something which monster-on-monster combat does not, for the latter is almost unseen in Greek art. On the other hand, the unequal battle of the man and the animal, mixanthrope or other teras, a battle which the viewer knew the man would win, has a lasting popularity throughout ancient art. Its manifestations are countless, but an instructive glimpse of the matter may be gained by examining the case of the centaur.

  • 94 The earliest known example is on the François Vase, for which see Padgett (2003), 14-17. Later vase (...)

70Centaurs are not always shown fighting men. There are anonymous stand-alone exam­ples, especially in the earlier material; one of these is shown in fig. 3. Good centaurs Cheiron and Pholos are shown on vases pursuing peaceful activities. Even when peaceful, centaurs often register their potential aggression, for example by the carrying of pine branches, their favourite weapons. However, in a large proportion of cases they are depicted fighting, either in single combat, or engaged in the group turmoil of a centauromachy (the prevalence of combat with centaurs is reflected in the modern development of a special term). There are two main centauromachy stories: in one, the Lapiths of Thessaly fight the disruptive local centaurs at the wedding of their chieftain, Peirithoös; in the other, Herakles, between Labours, battles centaurs in the Peloponnese when they crash his quiet dinner à deux with Pholos. Within the first is a sub-story, in which the Lapith Kaineus, made invulnerable by Poseidon, is battered into the earth by branch-wielding centaurs; this scene is especially popular on painted potter, and many vases show Kaineus’ beleaguered top half disappearing into the lower edge of the field.94

71The Kaineus episode does not have the same prominence, however, in the monumental sculpture from which the battle of the Lapiths and the centaurs is probably best known today. The popularity of the centauromachy in massive building decoration reflects a corresponding surge in its use on pottery, but this begins much earlier: the first full treatment is on the François vase, in around 570 BC, and this seems to establish its popularity. In the fifth century, the motif spreads from the domestic and relatively private medium of painted pottery, and from the sort of sympotic ware on which the mixanthropic retinue of Dionysos was found, onto a far grander and more public stage. This development shows that mixanthropes could be symbolically important in the civic sphere, a context which guaranteed a wide and varied audience and therefore suggests mass appeal. Not everyone could afford a pot by Sophilos or the Amasis Painter, but everyone living in Classical Athens could afford to stroll past the Parthenon and look up at the towering relief-carvings which decorated it. It would be simplistic to assume, however, that everyone had the same response to the sculptures, and single meanings are of course impossible, but scholars have been right to wonder what social features of the time contributed to, and chimed with, the repeated use of the centauromachy on public buildings.

  • 95 See Osborne (1998), 72-5.
  • 96 In a sense Medusa is mixanthropic: her anatomy comprises a beast-like face and peripheral snakes, a (...)

72Monsters on temples are known from earlier times; an example is the great Medusa-figure on the pediment of the temple of Artemis at Corcyra, dating from the early sixth century BC. This image contains a certain element of narrative: Medusa was flanked by her children Pegasos and Chrysaor, in a conflation of two chief phases of her story, pre- and post-decapitation by Perseus.95 However, her stark visual simplicity and relative isolation, which make her seem as much a symbol (apotropaic?) as a living form, are very different from the multiple forms of the fifth-century centaurs and their Lapith antagonists, the complexities of their combat, the challenges of movement and anatomy this offered. In addition, the special popularity of the centauromachy on fifth-century temples is noteworthy, and is partly attributable to the particular symbolic potency of the man/animal combination which Medusa does not truly provide.96

  • 97 That said, the mid-sixth-century temple of Athene at Assos in the Troad bore a relief showing anoth (...)
  • 98 See Paus. 1.28.2 and Pliny, NH 36.18 respectively.
  • 99 Paus. 8.30.4 and 8.41.7-9.

73The first monumental centauromachy which we know of and can reconstruct from substantial archaeological fragments was on the west pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, dating from around 460 BC.97 A supremely (and sternly) serene Apollo fills the apex; on either side of him, narrowing into the corners, centaurs struggle to abduct women and Lapiths battle them to prevent it. Later, in the 430s, we find two Athenian uses of the same scene: on the south metopes of the Parthenon, and on the west frieze of the Hephaistieion. In addition to these large-scale depictions, we know from ancient authors that it was used also in smaller but still significant decoration on two statues by Pheidias: on the shield of that of Athene Promachos, and on the sandals of that of Athene Parthenos.98 This sheer concentration of its usage asserts its importance. Finally, it turns up once more, in Arkadia in the Pelo­ponnese, where a centauromachy occupies one of the decorative friezes inside the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassai. According to Pausanias, there was a connection between the Parthenon and the Bassai temple which might have has something to do with the appearance of similar imagery on both (though in other ways the temples are wildly different): both structures were designed by the architect Iktinos.99

74The Bassai temple and the Parthenon have two important things in common: their centauromachies appear in close proximity to representations of other, analogous combats. In the case of Bassai, this is an Amazonomachy; the Parthenon sculptures are more varied, and include several mythological scenes, but the metopes hold a gigantomachy and Amazonomachy. So in both cases the centaurs are just one kind of dangerous foe to be overcome by warriors who adhere more closely to the Greek identity and values of the ancient viewer. If this last sentence sounds cagey, there is a reason for that: the extreme inadvisability of certain easy assumptions about the images generally. In particu­lar, it does violence to the subtlety of the myths in question to assume a simple ‘us versus them’ message in which the (male citizen) viewer identifies almost inextricably with the men battling giants, Amazons, and centaurs. A detailed criticism of this assumption is beyond the scope of the present discussion; but in fact, it is the centaurs particularly who reveal and illustrate the impossibility of single meanings. This appears first through the inherent aspects of the myth and secondly through certain features of its sculptural treatment. It also leads us to modify the stark idea that a mixanthropic monster’s foe-status is absolute and simple, and this is an important modification to make at this early stage, since a particular intensity of ambivalence will also be shown to surround the divine mixanthropes who form the chief focus of this book.

75There has been much discussion of a remarkable feature of the Parthenon centauromachy: the variety with which the centaurs are depicted. Several have the face which tends to characterise so many mixanthropes (including satyrs, Silenoi, Pan): snubbed nose, wrinkled brow, tangled hair, undoubtedly the antithesis of the regular, straight-nosed male ideal. Others, however, do not follow this type. Their faces are grave, dignified, straight-nosed, framed by neat hair and beards. It is quite possible that the different types may have been carved by different craftsmen, but the inclusion of both – by no means accidental in such a meticulously executed structure – is significant. It prevents the viewer from regarding the centaurs simply as bestial, chaotic, and the exact opposite to their human antagonists.

76Neither Olympia nor Bassai contains this special facial variety; but the complexity of the centaur/human combat does find expression elsewhere. For example, their inclusion in the long list of beings tackled by Herakles is important here. Herakles’ rôle as scourge of monsters in Hesiod has been noted above; but in art the striking thing about his depiction is the extent to which he resembles his monstrous enemies, reflecting their bestial characteristics back at them. The effect of Herakles’ lion-skin, which he is never without, is to make him seem half animal himself, a lion-hybrid fighting horse-hybrids, rather than a perfect expression of human physiology and identity. One is strongly reminded of Faraone’s ‘fighting fire with fire’ motif; also of Near Eastern apotropaic mon­sters. Herakles’ monster-killing efficacy depends on him having an element of the monstrous himself.

  • 100 Padgett (2003), 36.

77This is not, of course, the case with the Lapith crew on the three temples. On the Parthenon, however, the blurring of the divide works the other way around: the humans do not gain bestiality, but the centaurs gain humanity. It has been pointed out that this has the effect of making them worthier foes, and indeed, they are. Padgett has rightly asserted that the horse could stand for that species’ aristocratic credentials, so nothing in their composition itself debars them from nobility, though nor does it make it inevitable: the satyrs, also horse hybrids, always carry with them an air of farce which does not often accompany the ‘brave and haughty centaurs’.100 The potential of the centaur for nobility is also partly reflected, however, in the existence of two good and wise centaurs, Pholos and (especially so) Cheiron, about whom much will be said in this study. Of the satyrs, an individual (Silenos) does emerge from the throng, with prophetic qualities and with some of the dignity of older age; but Silenos, unlike Cheiron, can never quite lose the buffoonish character of his fellow satyrs. And satyrs are not man’s foes in the way centaurs are: intrinsically they oppose his values and his civilisation, but they do not stand against him in heroic struggles.

78So mixanthropes, like all monsters, vary, and their characterisation is extremely versatile; but although foe-status typifies them as a class, we cannot take that as an indication of simple opposition: the centaurs show us that.

5.4. Mixanthropic thaumata exhibited

79The figures of myth did sometimes intrude into real life, breaking down the already blurred boundaries between (to return for a moment to Winkler-Horaçek’s terms) the zones of the real, the speculative and the mythological. On the whole people in antiquity did not see centaurs, for example, and could choose to believe in them or to be sceptical about their existence; but there were rare situations in which personal experience could be arranged. Occasionally, mixanthropes and their fellow terata were on display.

  • 101 Phlegon of Tralles, peri Thaumatôn 35.

80For example, Hadrian kept a preserved centaur in one of his store-houses. We know this because his freedman Phlegon, who would have been in a position to make a personal inspection of the object, describes it in his Book of Marvels. The description is an intriguing one. Captured on its native mountain in Arabia, the centaur was then sent to Egypt, but transplantation did not suit it, and it died, and its embalmed body (the Egyptian location was convenient for the mechanics of preservation!) was sent to Rome to be exhibited in the palace. Phlegon describes it as fierce-faced, hairy-armed, rather smaller than one might expect, and dark from the embalming. And he remarks, ‘anyone who is sceptical can examine it for himself.’101 Thus a creature from the realm of marvels finds itself in bustling Rome, functioning as a corroboration of myth and legend.

  • 102 Vermeule (1979), 188. See also Paus. 9.20.4-21.1; Schachter, vol. 1 (1981), 183-5; Mayor (2000), 22 (...)
  • 103 On this genre, see Hansen (1996), 1-22.
  • 104 Relics were not always out-and-out monsters, but they did always have an unnatural quality, as in t (...)

81One might think that this preserved centaur depends a great deal on its political and social context: that, whatever it actually was (an ape’s torso grafted to a headless pony?) it serves an expression of a time when imperial might controlled the wild lands that in earlier centuries were the stuff of fable, lands whose most exotic denizens could now be brought to the Emperor like any other imported produce. But in fact, although there is something particularly mournful about Hadrian’s centaur, exhibited mixanthropes turn up in other situations, times and places too. Pausanias, for example, reports that in the temple of Dionysos at Tanagra, Boiotia, there was a stuffed headless Triton – ‘the saddest Triton of them all,’ as Vermeule calls it,102 remarking on the pathos that surrounds these displaced monsters. The Tanagra Triton was defeated as well as decapitated – by Dionysos, in whose temple it had a trophy function, clearly. Pausanias of course wrote in the same era as Phlegon; but there are earlier examples of monstrous relics kept and displayed, some of which will be discussed further in Chapter 5. There is a long-standing link between mixanthropes and ancient paradoxography103 and interest in marvels, thaumata; once again mixanthropes are part of the canon of the strange.104 And it is worth noting that, in addition to their artistic and literary prominence, ‘real’ specimens were occasionally on view. We can and should treat mixanthropes as symbolic entities and cultural products, but many people, at many times in antiquity, would simply have believed in them.

  • 105 E.g. Farkas, Harper and Harrison edd. (1987); Atherton ed. (1998); Gilmore (2003). Somewhat related (...)

82Mixanthropes generally were part of the canon of the strange, and the Greeks did not set them apart very strongly from other monsters such as enormous animals and animal/animal hybrids. They were ‘good to think with’ in a special way, but this did not place them in artistic or literary isolation, and they cannot be viewed in isolation. However, mixanthropic deities are different. Whole animals were almost never worshipped by the Greeks; nor were species-combinations with no human part. Of all the monsters, mixanthropes are lifted out of the canon by cult. Something about the mixanthropic form made it potentially – though not automatically – suited to worship. We cannot fully understand mixanthropic deities without examining the canon of the monstrous, but we are right in recognising the unique property of the form when divinity is concerned. The nature of the monstrous in ancient thought has received considerable scholarly attention in recent decades,105 laying valuable foundations for the current study, but what has not yet been fully examined is the use of the mixanthropic form, so strongly associated with monsters, as a way of depicting the divine recipients of cult.

6. Explicit comment on mixanthropic deities

83This book is largely concerned with the (usually) implicit symbolic quality of the mixanthropic god, and with the underlying connections between its form, its cult, and its mythological representation. However, we do sometimes hear direct comment on divine mixanthropy by Greek – and Roman – authors, and it is necessary to acknowledge such direct remarks.

  • 106 See de Generatione Animalium 769b; Lloyd (1983), 54.

84Mixanthropy does not, interestingly, form a substantial philosophical discourse in its own right, despite its apparent potential as a tool for thought and exploration. It receives sporadic and isolated comments from philosophers. Aristotle in his zoological work is interested in the birth of terata, who have animal features, and whose production he attributes to a failure of the sperm of the male to control and shape the material contributed by the female.106 However, Aristotle explicitly denies the existence of mixanthropes and other fabulous beings as creatures in their own right rather than accidental and singular aberrations of human birth, and on this basis of course excludes them from his taxonomy, a taxonomy based firmly on what he was able to observe. And indeed otherwise, in the Classical period especially, there is a dearth of explicit comment, and in particular a disinclination to remark on mixanthropic gods. This picture changes somewhat in the post-Classical period, and it seems that the greatest motivating factor is a growing reaction to mixanthropy in Egyptian religion. Greek attitudes towards animals in Egyptian religion have been the study of two very effective surveys, the extremely full discussion by Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), and the recent re-evaluation of the material by Pfeiffer (2008). The current exposition merely presents the salient trends relevant to the topic in hand.

  • 107 See e.g. Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1858-62: the Egyptians regarded animals as being closer to th (...)

85It must be said at the outset that Greeks reacted to a cocktail of related aspects of Egyptian religion, of which mixanthropic representation of gods was only one: the sacrosanctity of animals, their worship, their place in Egyptian society more generally: within this assortment divine mixanthropy is just one component, not always precisely distinguished. The fact that part-animal representations of gods do not receive an especially intense response is to be noted. The Greeks who commented on Egypt were in fact typically more exercised about the Egyptian custom of paying cult honours to actual animals than they were about the iconographic habit of mixanthropy. The unworthiness of animals for cult underpins most Greek discussions, and as scholars have remarked betrays a fundamental dissimilarity in the ways the two cultures perceived animals.107 As has been said, zoolatry and the depiction of gods as theriomorphic were, in contrast with divine mixanthropy, almost unheard of in Greek culture.

  • 108 Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1879-81; Pfeiffer (2008), 375-6; Gilhus (2006), 97.
  • 109 On these, see Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1881-2; Pfeiffer (2008), 377-80.
  • 110 Hdt. 2.42.

86Egyptian zoolatry appears first among extant texts in Herodotos, where it receives a largely sympathetic, if sometimes inaccurate, treatment, being discussed piecemeal rather than systematically.108 Herodotos’ interest in Egypt generally is one of broad-minded ethnographic enthusiasm, which sets him at sharp variance from most Greek descriptions of the region’s religion: these derive from a later period (chiefly first to second centuries AD, though some fourth-century comic fragments are also relevant109) and are distinctly hostile or else seem to be predicated on an assumption of hostility in the audience. However, even in Herodotos’ work we see early manifestations of one consistent later trend: the desire to provide logical explanations for the peculiarity of animal worship and its cognates. A Herodotean example occurs in the case of Zeus Ammon, and attempts to rationalise the unusual iconographic form of the Egyptian Zeus, with his ram’s horns (as well as the Egyptian Thebans’ abstention from sheep sacrifice). The story is told that Herakles demanded to see Zeus in person, and Zeus disguised himself for the encounter by donning the fleece of a ram and holding a ram’s severed head before his face.110

87This explanatory vein is found with far more intensity (even urgency) in the later works of Diodoros and Plutarch, both of whom are extremely interested in Egyptian religion: Diodoros opens his universal history with a substantial section of Egyptian material, and Plutarch devoted a treatise, the de Iside et Osiride, to the region’s religious beliefs and customs. Both were concerned more with the worship of animals than that of animal-headed gods, but the latter do receive some significant mention.

  • 111 Diod. 1.90.2.
  • 112 It has been noted above that Greek assessments of the value of animals rested on the extent to whic (...)

88Diodoros’ chief strand of rationalization rests on the argument that the Egyptian worship of animals derives from their recognition of the latter’s usefulness. This constitutes a form of acceptable reciprocity, and a virtue in the author’s mind; as he remarks: ‘In general, they say, the Egyptians surpass all other peoples in showing gratitude for every benefaction.’111 Thus a commendably anthropocentric and utilitarian sentiment is placed at the heart of zoolatry,112 in which divine mixanthropy may also participate:

  • 113 Diod. 1.87.2: τὸν δὲ κύνα πρός τε τὰς θήρας εἶναι χρήσιμον καὶ πρὸς τὴν φυλακήν· διόπερ τὸν θεὸν τὸ (...)

The dog is useful both for the hunt and for man’s protection, and this is why they represent the god whom they call Anubis with a dog’s head, showing in this way that he was the bodyguard of Isis and Osiris.113

  • 114 The fact that the god was actually depicted as part jackal rather than part domestic dog does not t (...)
  • 115 Aeneid 8.698-700: ranged against the anthropomorphic Roman gods at the battle are ‘omnigenum deum (...)

89It is interesting to note that the singling out of Anubis’ canine114 mixanthropy (he was actually jackal-headed) accords with the relative frequency with which that particular deity is explicitly described as mixanthropic. When Vergil wishes to paint Cleopatra’s forces at Actium in the most grotesque colours possible, for example, he uses Anubis to represent the divine powers on the Ptolemaic queen’s side, and the barking of the god is the sine qua non of his peculiarity and – by extension – that of Egypt.115 For some reason, Anubis more than any other deity of Egypt brings mixanthropy to the fore in the ancient imagination.

  • 116 On this aspect, see Gilhus (2006), 97-9.
  • 117 Plut. de Iside 73.
  • 118 For example, the kunokephaloi were regarded as a tribe of real if strange dog-headed people living (...)
  • 119 See for example Juvenal Sat. 6.532-4. Here as in Lucian (see below) the special incongruity of the (...)

90Plutarch shares with Diodoros the explanatory drive, based once again on the usefulness of certain animals and their past and ongoing services to man, but also focusing on the more sophisticated ideas of symbolism, allegory and veiled meaning which the well-informed may interpret.116 Once again Anubis and mixanthropy go hand in hand. The most common sacred animals in Egypt are, says Plutarch, ‘the ibis, the hawk, the kunokephalos, and the Apis himself, as well as the Mendes, for thus they call the goat in Mendes.’117 In this list we have the gamut of zoolatric types described in Greek sources: real and naturally occurring animals held sacred wherever they occur (ibises and hawks), special sacred individuals like the Apis-bull, which represent the incarnation of divinity in a single animal body; and the ‘dog-headed one’, who can surely only be Anubis, rather curiously listed as just another type of animal, though we would surely perceive an animal-headed god as of quite another order. It is hard to explain the Anubis-mixanthropy connection, except to remark that dog-headed forms have a wider currency in Greek thought118 which could have allowed Anubis’ mixanthropy to gain a purchase in their imagination which other Egyptian mixanthropes never gained. In any case, it is important to note that the extreme prevalence of mixanthropy among Egyptian divine representations is not seized on wholesale by Greek authors as a vehicle or criticism or as a special peculiarity to be explained. Rather, Anubis receives special treatment, which persists in Roman treatments also.119

  • 120 See de Iside 74: Lemnians honouring larks, Thessalians storks, and so on – again, based on utility.

91So, ancient authors such as those examined here are generally concerned to describe and explain the worship of animals; divine mixanthropy, however, is touched on, most often in relation to Anubis. Despite this, in none of these texts are connections drawn with Greek divine mixanthropy, and this fact is surprising. Surely Egyptian mixanthropic gods would remind Greek authors of their own. Local Greek treatments of certain animal species as sacred are described by Plutarch120 as analogous to Egyptian zoolatry, but the analogy is not extended to mixanthropy.

  • 121 For detailed discussion of Lucian’s attitudes towards non-Greek gods, see Spickermann (2009).

92This sharp separation between Greek and Egyptian mixanthropy breaks down somewhat in the work of Lucian,121 and in particular in his humorous dialogue The Council of the Gods. This text stages a debate in heaven about the dangerous influx of new deities, or persons claiming to be deities, and the attack on these immigrants is led by Momos (‘reproach’). A wide range of questionable divinities is assailed: deified heroes, Eastern characters such as Attis and Sabazios, divine personifications; and among these an unsurprising inclusion:

Momos: But I should just like to ask that Egyptian there – the dog-faced gentleman in the linen suit – who he is, and whether he proposes to establish his divinity by barking? And will the piebald bull yonder, from Memphis, explain what use he has for a temple, an oracle, or a priest? As for the ibises and monkeys and goats and worse absurdities that are bundled in upon us, goodness knows how, from Egypt, I am ashamed to speak of them; nor do I understand how you, gentlemen, can endure to see such creatures enjoying a prestige equal to or greater than your own. And you yourself, sir, must surely find ram’s horns a great inconvenience?

Zeus: Certainly, it is disgraceful the way these Egyptians go on. At the same time, Momos, there is an occult significance in most of these things; and it ill becomes you, who are not of the initiated, to ridicule them.

  • 122 Lucian, Conc. Deor. 10-11: Μῶμος: σὺ δέ, ὦ κυνοπρόσωπε καὶ σινδόσιν ἐσταλμένε Αἰγύπτιε, τίς εἶ, ὦ β (...)

Momos: Oh, come now: a God is one thing, and a person with a dog’s head is another; I need no initiation to tell me that.122

  • 123 On Lucian’s characterisation of Egyptian zoolatry as entirely ludicrous, see Spickermann (2009), 24 (...)
  • 124 We should almost certainly take this as an authorial opinion; as Spickermann (2009, 246-8) demonstr (...)

93So Anubis the arch-mixanthrope and his notorious barking appear once more in typical vein, along with the Apis-bull and numerous sacred species.123 Rather more unusual (though logical in the context) is the reference to the ram-horned Egyptian Zeus. Zeus’ response to the attack is also significant: his references to ‘occult significance’ and to initiation recall the tenor of Plutarch’s de Iside, with its emphasis on animal symbolism and on initiation and the acquisition of secret knowledge about the meaning of divine forms. Rubbish, says Momos (and Lucian?124): no secret knowledge is required to know that Anubis is bogus. This seems a deliberate tilt at Plutarch’s mysticism.

94Lucian does not reserve all his parodic ammunition for the gods of Egypt, however. Momos blames Dionysos for the arrival among the gods of a great horde of his satellites, whose mixanthropy is a defining characteristic:

  • 125 Lucian, Conc. Deor. 4-5: πάντες γάρ, οἶμαι, ὁρᾶτε ὡς θῆλυς καὶ γυναικεῖος τὴν φύσιν, ἡμιμανής, ἀκρά (...)

You all observe, I believe, that he is effeminate and womanish in form, half-crazed, breathing fumes of unmixed wine from early in the day. But he has also foisted a whole clan on us – appears at the head of the dancing train and makes gods of Pan and Silenos and the satyrs, rustic characters and goat-herds, most of them, frisky fellows with outlandish forms. One of them, Pan, has horns and looks like a goat from the waist down, and with that long beard he sports he is little different from a goat; another, Silenos, is a bald old man with a flat nose and generally rides a donkey – and he’s a Lydian. The satyrs have pointed ears, and they too are bald, and have horns like those that sprout on new-born kids, and they are Phrygian. The whole lot of them have tails. So you see what kind of gods he’s making for us, this fine fellow? And then we’re amazed when humans despise us because they see that their gods are so ludicrous and monstrous!125

  • 126 Greek myth does not make Dionysos an out-and-out foreigner (after all, he is the son of Zeus and Se (...)

95He does not distinguish between those who were actually accorded cult in antiquity (chiefly Pan) and those who were not (such as the satyrs). For his Momos they are just a shabby amalgam who bring the Greek pantheon into disrepute. Their mixanthropy is not the only thing he has against them, but it is expressive of their general unworthiness of godhead. A feature of particular interest, however, is the emphasis Lucian places on the non-Greek origins of the Dionysiac cluster here railed against; clearly the rhetorical link between ludicrous deities and non-Greek culture is being maintained. In my opinion, Branham is wrong to see this as a Lucianic invention. For Branham, Lucian is making foreign ‘one of the most inalienably Greek of gods’ (Dionysos), and this fact reveals that his overall purpose is an ironic one, showing up the absurdity of trying imposing social stratification on the jumble of the traditional pantheon. Of course, we now know that Dionysos’ inclusion within this pantheon is as old as that of any other deity, but for the Greeks Dionysos was indeed frequently perceived as something of an incomer.126 By choosing to emphasise this strand of his character, Lucian is not overturning tradition but rather exploiting it for his own purposes, and his condemnation of the alien origins of Dionysos and his company may, I believe, be taken as sincere.

96Before the advent of early Christian responses to Greek pagan religion, Lucian’s text provides our most direct comment on Greek mixanthropy, and it stands in isolation, to be viewed against the backdrop of a general lack of comment. Greek attitudes towards mixanthropic gods are subtler and more disparate than one might expect: they emerge when one performs a closer and more detailed scrutiny of individual instances; and they emerge above all on the level of the implicit and the symbolic. These dimensions are the subject of this book.

7. Aims and structure of the book

97This book does not claim to present an absolutely complete treatment of all aspects of mixanthropy within Greek religion; so vast is the topic that this would necessitate a work of several volumes. Section One does, however, acknowledge the huge range and variety of the mixanthropic deities known to us from the evidence. Deities and groups of deities are treated in turn, with discussion of their physical depiction and of the forms of cult tendance they received; this is intended to provide an overview of the personalities, forms and religious sites which form the basis of later sections, and to establish some preliminary trends in representation and worship. In Section Two, the chief focus of the book is revealed. Here it will be argued that the way in which mixanthropic deities were imagined and presented, their nature as deities and the patterns and purposes of their worship, were massively dominated by a number of interlocking themes. These themes are:

  • Expulsion A number of mixanthropic deities and/or their cult images were perceived as having suffered expulsion from their place of worship or their sphere of divine influence. In the most extreme cases, expulsion results in the death of the deity.

  • Withdrawal Other deities precipitate their own removal by withdrawing from their cult site or sphere of divine influence. This is active rather than passive, but is similar to the expulsion-schema in that it tends to be brought about by another, often human, agency.

  • Movement, absence and loss It will be shown that both the expulsion- and withdrawal-schemata are part of these overarching themes.

98Although focusing on certain themes is bound to involve a certain amount of selection, the dominance of motifs of absence and loss will emerge as the material is examined. The aim is to argue that a great deal of the cult practice and the mythology surrounding mixanthropic deities may better be understood by viewing it in the light of the above themes. Moreover, in Section Three it will be shown that absence and loss are not superficial attributes but rather relate to, and to some extent result from, the single most important aspect of a mixanthrope’s nature: its connection with metamorphosis. Chapter 7 examines the evidence for this connection, and its implications for mixanthropes as gods. Chapters 8 and 9 continue to explore the implications of visual representation for our understanding of mixanthropic deities, and Chapter 10 broadens the discussion in order to contextualise the foregoing observations within wider themes and patterns of divine representation in ancient thought.

99It is inevitable that in a study of this kind, a range of different types of evidence and material will be used. Vital in this book are the following. Most important are details of cult practice and of ritual; these are perforce gleaned from a wide variety of sources. The same is true of myths, the second vital type. Sometimes a myth may be seen to relate closely to worship, but this is not always the case, and mythological narratives therefore have both value and hazards which need to be taken into account along the way. Finally there is visual imagery and iconography. This book is not primarily a study of material culture. Although its topic concerns a class of deities defined by their physical form, our perception of that form rests just as heavily on textual as on material sources; the aim is to negotiate a productive rapport between the two. This is not always easy, but it is essential. A Greek’s mental image of a deity would have been a composite creation, made up of stories he had heard, images he had seen, and rites in which he had participated. It is the complexity of this ancient viewpoint which this book aims to express.

8. A brief note on ancient sources used

  • 127 It would be more correct (though it is not generally the practice, and will not be the practice her (...)
  • 128 A great deal of scholarship surrounds the work of Apollodoros especially, who is also the author mo (...)
  • 129 On Apollodoros’ selection of both Classical and Hellenistic sources, see Huys (1997), 347. Hellenis (...)

100By its nature, this study is obliged to make reference to a wide range of ancient texts, many of them late in date; this cannot be avoided. A significant proportion, however, of the sources repeatedly employed derive from roughly the same period: the first to second centuries AD. Second Sophistic authors, as they may loosely be called, are of course later then the time here studied. But there is one shared feature of their work which perhaps militates against this. They are consistently interested in the Classical Greek past, and may be seen to include in their work much material from this earlier time. This feature of Pausanias’ narrative is discussed in some detail in Chapter 4. It is shared also by Apollodoros,127 Hyginus and Antoninus Liberalis, who are so frequently cited in this study as to require a brief discussion at this preliminary stage. What these three have in common is that their works are collations, rather than creations,128 often of considerably older myths.129 They are antiquarians. Their collections are dangerous in that they can give a false impression of orthodoxy, of a canonical Greek mythology; but for the purposes of this study they are undeniably useful.

101Unless otherwise stated, all translations given throughout the book are my own.

Notes

1 Cook (1894); Harrison (1908), esp. 257-60, (1912), esp. 445-53; such theories will be discussed further in Chapter 5. Early scholarship on this topic is by no means uniform, however; for example, the work of de Visser is marked by a striking caution and reluctance to posit a single overarching theory as an explanation of all manifestations of the animal in Greek religion; instead he argues cogently for the perils of conjecture and the necessity of recognising the diversity of circumstances from case to case (de Visser [1903], esp. 13-16). However, he does not shrink from adopting an evolutionary schema whereby nature-worship gives way ineluctably to divine anthropomorphism.

2 See e.g. Raglan (1935).

3 An especially influential exposition of totemism was Smith in his Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (1894).

4 E.g. Gregoire, Goossens and Mathieu (1950); Lévêque (1961).

5 Much of it focused on the depiction of centaurs, on which see Colvin (1880), Baur (1912) and Buschor (1934). On other mythical hybrids in art: Brommer (1937) on satyrs; Shepard (1940) on fish-tailed beings.

6 Perhaps especially the catalogue and collection of essays published following Princeton University Art Museum’s exhibition ‘The Centaur’s Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art’: Padgett ed. (2003). The huge scope of this publication allows for a valuable new overview of Mischwesen and their significance.

7 Diphuês does not in itself carry to automatic association with animal-human combination; it can, depending on context, also mean ‘of dual race’ (Egyptian and Greek in Diod. 1.28), or even ‘of dual gender’ (in the Suda, s.v.). The fact that it places the stress on general duality and combination rather the specific constituents of animal and human is significant.

8 Opp. Kyneg. 2.7., of a centaur. Fascinatingly, hêmianthrôpos means ‘eunuch’ – the other form of half-man.

9 Mixothêros is an adjective (see e.g. Themist. Or. 23.284a); mixothêr is substantive but tends to occur in apposition to nouns, as in Eur. Ion 1161 (phôtes mixothêres).

10 Lib. Or. 59.30.

11 Themist. Or. 23.284b. The gods who protect and cherish philosophy have made him invulnerable to assault, like Kaineus.

12 Occasionally one finds the terms therianthrope, therianthropic etc. used of animal/human hybrids in anthropological works; see for example Aldhouse-Green (2005), esp. 60-69 passim. These words, however, lack a precedent in ancient usage and are therefore considered less desirable for use in the current study than mixanthrope and its cognates.

13 The exception to this is the persistent grouping, in art and myth, of mixanthropic figures around the god Dionysos, and the Dionysiac element, which will be discussed passim throughout this book, is perhaps the single most consistent linking feature of mixanthropic deities. However, to study them all from this angle, or to expect them all to conform to its themes and aspects, would grossly oversimplify the richness of divine mixanthropy across the board.

14 Larson (2001), 3. Ch. 1 (pp. 3-60) is in fact entitled ‘What Is a Nymph?’. The question is answered by looking at a wide variety of different manifestations depending on context. This does not preclude a powerful and coherent study.

15 Larson (2001), 3.

16 Cassin, Labarrière and Dherbey edd. (1997) and Alexandridis, Wild and Winkler-Horaçek edd. (2008).

17 Lévi-Strauss (1969), 162; see the discussion of the phrase by Lloyd (1983), 8.

18 See e.g. Borgeaud (1984), discussing the cross-cultural involvement of animals in systems of categorisation which allow man to make sense of the world. The two chief (interrelated) strands identified by Borgeaud are the division of animals into edible and inedible (according to taboo rather than pure gastronomics) and their categorisation according to whether they are wild or tame.

19 Gilhus (2006). For an earlier and briefer treatment of ancient attitudes towards animals, see Lonsdale (1979).

20 See Howe (2008), esp. 1-26, for an excellent recent survey of the various past theories concerning the rôle of animal production in the economy and society of ancient Greece.

21 See Lloyd (1983), 7-57; Sorabji (1993 and 1997); Newmyer (2006).

22 At first sight, the Greek word zôion seems to correspond closely to our own word ‘animal’, but it is not an exact match: whereas ‘animal’ carries the automatic assumption, if not qualified, that the animal in question is a non-human one, zôion seems to be vaguer, and more prone to apply to the human animal as well. There are several examples of this flexibility. For zôion meaning simply ‘that which has a share in life’: Plat. Tim. 77b. As the basic antithesis of phyta: Plat. Phd. 70d, 110e. In art, the word can mean a figure, not necessarily of an animal. The alternative Greek terms, thêr and thêrion, denote specifically a wild rather than domesticated animal, reflecting the emphasis placed on the relationship between animals and man, and whether or not species are integrated in the human community.

23 That the usefulness of domestic animals was not just purely practical but also related to values and status is forcefully set out in Howe (2008).

24 Lloyd (1983) has shown that in many ways Aristotle was still operating within the framework of traditional thought concerning animals, and that he responded to and in some ways accorded with the ‘prevailing ideology’ of his times. It is indeed important not to view his zoological works as entirely new or peculiar in their perspective.

25 For some interesting remarks about the formidable methodological challenges of classification, see de Partibus Animalium 642-3.

26 In fact, Aristotle inveighs against a snobbish or disgusted response to certain lowly or unlovely species of animal by arguing that they are amply worthy of study because they are perfectly adapted to fulfil their own lives and purposes. See de Partibus 645a. This idea of anatomy perfectly suited to need is also to be found in de Generatione Animalium 717a.

27 There are some intriguing variations on this approach; for example, at de Partibus 687a-b he refutes the notion that humans are physically inferior to animals.

28 On the relationship between these two divergent attitudes in Aristotle’s work, see Sorabji (1993), 13-14, and (1997), 358-9. He argues that Aristotle’s ‘gradualism’ is abruptly abandoned as soon as reason and intellect are the topic. See also Renehan (1981), 252-3; Gilhus (2006), 38-9. Lloyd (1983, 25-6), points out that ‘man is allotted a special place in Aristotle’s account of the animal kingdom’, but that, in the zoological works, this does not amount to a sharp and consistent distinction between humans and animals.

29 On the expression of this theory in Aristotle and other authors, see Sorabji (1993), passim, Gilhus (2006), 37-63; Renehan (1981), esp. 239-45. Sorabji makes the point that in this regard Aristotle is pivotal, marking and precipitating a ‘crisis’ in thought about mind and morality. In particular, he argues that the denial of reason to animals necessitates an (at times laborious) expansion of the idea of perception, which is attributed to animals in lieu of logos. This expansion, according to Sorabji, requires and provokes a perilous series of intellectual gymnastics by Aristotle and his successors, chiefly the Stoics. See esp. pp. 7-29.

30 Renehan (1981), 243-4.

31 In particular, the Stoics stressed the idea that animals were meant to be useful to, and exploited by, man; the most notorious expression of this view is Chrysippos’ assertion that, yes, the pig has a soul, but the function of that soul is simply as a kind of salt to keep the animal’s meat fresh for consumption. (This remark is reported by Cicero, de Nat. Deor. 2.64. Cf. the theories of Epiktetos as recounted in Arrian, Discourses of Epiktetos 1.6.18-20.)

32 For example, in his Gryllos, Plutarch has one of Circe’s victims, temporarily returned to human form in order to communicate his views, argue for the great superiority of the pig to man. Some of the dialogue is distinctly humorous (see e.g. 6 for the porcine pleasure of lounging in mud with a full stomach), but there are serious points also: Plutarch uses the figure of Gryllos to assert that animals have such qualities as sôphrosunê and courage, and that even if the intelligence of animals is different from the logos and the phronêsis of humans, it should not be regarded as inferior. See also the author’s On the Cleverness of Animals.

33 Renehan (1981), 255-6; see e.g. Hesiod, W&D 276-9.

34 Ant. Lib. Met. 12.

35 On this topic, see Robson (1997).

36 Diod. 4.77.1-4.

37 Ant. Lib. Met. 21.

38 Though, interestingly, one of the offspring is called Agrios (‘Wild’), which is also the name of one of the centaurs on the François Vase; see Padgett (2003), 15-16 and fig. 10.

39 Forbes Irving (1990); Buxton (2009).

40 Gilhus (2006), 78-86.

41 Bynum (2001): she performs a broad and comparative study of the theme of metamorphosis in both ancient and medieval material. For the former, see esp. 166-170.

42 On this matter the work of Hornung remains paramount: see esp. Hornung (1982; orig. publ. 1971), 100-142.

43 Buxton (2009), 180.

44 The frequency of this expression in sacred laws reflects the emphasis on the continuity of ritual according to custom. See e.g. IG I2 76, an Eleusinian cultic decree of the later fifth century: the phrase occurs four times within this single text, on lines 4, 11, 25-6 and 34.

45 Useful descriptions of the various recurring mixanthropic personalities of the Near East are to be found in Westenholz ed. (2004), 20-42, and Black and Green (1992) – see esp. pp. 64-5 for their excellent illustrative compilation. This diagram gives a good impression of how many demons can be accorded Mesopotamian names, because they have been identified through textual evidence of one sort of another; a large number can only be known by their modern ‘nicknames’, e.g. snake-dragon and bull-man.

46 For an example of ‘non-integral’ horns, see Porada (1995), 31, fig. 9: a figure of the goat-man, dating from c. 3000 BC, whose horns, and indeed ears, are worn on a kind of helmet. The horned helmet motif has Celtic and Cypriot counterparts. In Mesopotamian imagery, an especially elaborate and stylised multi-horned hat is thought to have designated divinity: see Black and Green (1992), 93-8.

47 The glyptic images in question tend to be ritual and cultic in theme; however, we have to acknowledge the fact that in some cases a mythological scene may be depicted without identifica­tion as such being possible.

48 On this difficult relationship between text and image, see Wiggermann (1992), x-xii and 148-9.

49 For a helpful general discussion see Westenholz (2004), 15-16.

50 The text has been pieced together from different manuscripts, and translated and discussed, by Wiggermann (1992). All line references given here are to those in his text.

51 Lines 170-82.

52 For example, in the second-millenium text known as the Description of Gods, we find demonic abstractions: for example, Niziqtu (‘Grief’) is depicted as winged and with bull-horned cap. See Wiggermann in Porada (1995), 83-4.

53 Porada (1995), 24-6.

54 For the date and context of the poem’s composition, see Wasilewska (2000), 49-51. As she points out, the poem was almost certainly recited during the New Year festival at Babylon, where Marduk had his most important cult centre. However, it is a strong possibility that elements of the poem, if not the whole thing, originate at an earlier date, for example to the reign of Hammurabi (1848-1806 BC); see Dalley (1909), 229-30.

55 For discussion of the various mythological rôles of Ninurta, see Annus (2002), 109-86.

56 See Mellink (1987).

57 See Westenholz (2004), 14.

58 Faraone (1992), 26. He identifies strong Eastern influence on Greece as the other, rather simpler, possible explanation of the similarities; he rightly notes, however, the inadvisability of assuming that Eastern talismans necessarily originated earlier than their Greek equivalents, and the importance always of noting divergence between Eastern and Greek traditions (on which see esp. pp. 28-9).

59 This argument is made forcefully by Winkler-Horaçek (2008, 507) in the context of the Korinthian animal-friezes discussed further below.

60 Osborne (1998), 43.

61 ibid., 43-7.

62 Winkler-Horaçek (2008), 504-5.

63 It is interesting that, as Osborne notes, the Orientalizing period sees a coincidence between the heightened popularity of exotic beings and a heightened emphasis on the face and head, an emphasis apparent in representations of humans, animals and gods. See Osborne (1998), 47-8.

64 Winkler-Horaçek (2008), 508.

65 ibid., 516-9.

66 To be precise, Dionysos’ first appearances are on the famous dinos painted by Sophilos, and on the François Vase painted by Kleitias, both dating from roughly 580 BC (London 1971.11-1.1 and Florence 4209 respectively). On both vessels he is shown without his thiasos when attending the wedding of Peleus and Thetis; however, the François Vase also shows him participating in the Return of Hephaistos, and in this context he does have companions: mixanthropes (on whom see n. 67 below) and women. On these two pots, see Carpenter (1986), 1-12 and pll. 1- 3. On the rôle of satyrs in the retinue of Hephaistos, see Hedreen (1992), 13-30.

67 That said, the earliest manifestations of the mixanthropic companions of Dionysos, ithyphallic, horse-legged and -tailed personalities, are labelled as ‘Silenoi’ by Kleitias on the François Vase (see above, n. 66). Carpenter (1986, 76-9) argues that from the fifth century we are right to call Dionysos’ ‘pet’ mixanthropes satyrs; by contrast, Hedreen (1992, 1-2, 9) prefers to use the term ‘silens’ throughout, on the basis of its use on the François Vase. The two types of being cannot, however, be satisfactorily disentangled, since they were always close enough to be almost interchangeable, and in the present study ‘satyr’ is used.

68 On this valuable quality of the satyr, see esp. Lissarrague 1990 and 1993; see also Padgett (2003), 27-8.

69 Interestingly, the satyrs themselves seem to be drawn into proximity with the god, having previously enjoyed independent representation; at least, they occur on vases without Dionysos slightly earlier than they do with him. For a discussion of the ‘pre-Dionysian’ examples, see Carpenter (1986), 80-81; Padgett (2003), 30-32.

70 See Hom. Hymn 7.6-53.

71 Eur. Bacch. 918-22.

72 Von Blackenhagen (1998).

73 Lattimore’s 1976 study of the marine thiasos is still useful; slightly more recent discussion is provided by Barringer (1995), 141-51. Lattimore observes that the novelty of the marine thiasos lies in the assemblage of figures who had existed previously, but separately. For example, the chief mixanthrope of the group, the Triton, is a fourth-century addition to the collective (whose fundamental components are Nereids). The fourth century BC is also the rough time at which the marine thiasos is taken up into monumental sculpture. This is not to say that Nereids and Tritons had not previously associated: Nereids on vases sometimes watch the battle between Herakles and Triton. (The pluralisation of mixanthropes is a theme which will be touched on at a later stage of this study.) On the relationship between the collective and its pre-existing individual members, see Lattimore (1976), 28-30.

74 It would be unwise to regard the marine thiasos as purely decorative froth, without meaning. Barringer in her work generally argues that Nereids have the rôle of intermediaries between the worlds of living and dead, and she discusses the probability that the popularity of the marine thiasos on sarcophagi during the Roman period relates to this eschatological aspect. See Barringer (1995), 142-7. She debates the interesting question of whether this dimension derives from the Dionysiac properties of the marine thiasos or from its original mythical association with the Achilles-Thetis relationship and therefore the theme of heroic immortalisation. She regards both as influential, but places rather more weight on the latter.

75 Occasionally, a monster has an unnaturally low number of a particular body-part; examples are the Cyclopes with their single eyes, and the eye-sharing Graiai. Physical excess, however, is far more common.

76 An example of a mythical beast called a teras: a giant serpent at Hom. Il. 12.209. Pelôr is used of a gigantic dolphin in Hom. Hymn 3.401.

77 Nemean Lion as thêr: Eur. HF 153; the Erymanthian Boar: Soph. Trach. 1097; Kerberos: Soph. OC 1659.

78 Of centaurs: Soph. Trach. 556-8; of satyrs: Eur. Cyc. 624.

79 Apollod. Bibl. 2.5.1-12. See Scarpi (1998).

80 Lines 139-56.

81 Lines 820-35.

82 Lines 836-68.

83 Lines 313-18; 326-32.

84 Lines 280-81 and 319-25.

85 Lines 617-663.

86 Typhoios is unusual in that he retains some pestilential qualities (being the source of destructive winds), but even he no longer challenges Zeus’ authority.

87 Lines 300 and 304.

88 Line 303.

89 See Faraone (1992), 36-53.

90 The usefulness of the Kyklopes to Zeus: lines 139-46.

91 Clay (1993), 106.

92 Clay points out the importance in this narrative of endogamy and a kind of concentration of elemental principles which is a cosmic recipe for monsters, though it should be noted that not all products of such unions are physically aberrant: monstrous form is just one visual expression of the kind of defiance of natural law which prevails before Zeus establishes his rule. See Clay (1993), 107-8. The rôle of marine beings, Pontos, Keto and Phorkys, cannot but remind us of sea-goddess Tiâmat’s monster-producing rôle in Mesopotamian mythology. However, the Greek examples carry their own associations particular to their host culture, in particular reflecting the ambivalent attitudes towards the sea which will be discussed later in the context of the goddess Thetis.

93 Walcot (1966).

94 The earliest known example is on the François Vase, for which see Padgett (2003), 14-17. Later vase-paintings of the same episode are to be found in Padgett ed. (2003), nos. 27 and 28.

95 See Osborne (1998), 72-5.

96 In a sense Medusa is mixanthropic: her anatomy comprises a beast-like face and peripheral snakes, and her offspring, one human and one animal, reflect her mating with Poseidon in horse form. She is highly significant when compared with Demeter Melaina, whose mixanthropy is discussed at length in the ensuing chapters. However, unlike that of the centaurs, her anatomy does not present the viewer with a clear conjunction of animal and human half: rather, she is a tangle, a confusion, of the two elements, and all the more dangerous for that.

97 That said, the mid-sixth-century temple of Athene at Assos in the Troad bore a relief showing another centaur-combat: Herakles single-handedly routing the centaurs while the benign centaur Pholos looked on concernedly. (Boston MFA 84.67; see Padgett (2003), 22. Herakles’ conflict with the centaurs also enjoyed some popularity among vase-painters, but did not become widespread in Classical temple sculpture as the Lapith centauromachy did.

98 See Paus. 1.28.2 and Pliny, NH 36.18 respectively.

99 Paus. 8.30.4 and 8.41.7-9.

100 Padgett (2003), 36.

101 Phlegon of Tralles, peri Thaumatôn 35.

102 Vermeule (1979), 188. See also Paus. 9.20.4-21.1; Schachter, vol. 1 (1981), 183-5; Mayor (2000), 228-33.

103 On this genre, see Hansen (1996), 1-22.

104 Relics were not always out-and-out monsters, but they did always have an unnatural quality, as in the excessive size of the skeletons thought to be heroes’. An example is the enormous shoulder-blade of Pelops kept at Olympia (though not in existence at the time of Pausanias’ visit): Paus. 5.13.4-6. The peri Thaumatôn of Phlegon of Tralles contains three ‘giant bones’ stories (11-14).

105 E.g. Farkas, Harper and Harrison edd. (1987); Atherton ed. (1998); Gilmore (2003). Somewhat related has been the interest in the ancient discourse of deformity and unnatural births: see e.g. Ogden (1997), Garland (1995). This topic has some earlier exponents, however, chief among them Delcourt (1938).

106 See de Generatione Animalium 769b; Lloyd (1983), 54.

107 See e.g. Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1858-62: the Egyptians regarded animals as being closer to the divine than humans. This is a reversal of the Greek picture of man as positioned between animals (the basest stratum) and gods (the apex) in the scala naturae.

108 Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1879-81; Pfeiffer (2008), 375-6; Gilhus (2006), 97.

109 On these, see Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984), 1881-2; Pfeiffer (2008), 377-80.

110 Hdt. 2.42.

111 Diod. 1.90.2.

112 It has been noted above that Greek assessments of the value of animals rested on the extent to which they benefited and assisted mankind; thus this form of explanation in Diodoros and Plutarch would have accorded exactly with audience attitudes. Of course, Plutarch’s appreciation of animals went far beyond the utilitarian, but this is not strongly in evidence in the de Iside.

113 Diod. 1.87.2: τὸν δὲ κύνα πρός τε τὰς θήρας εἶναι χρήσιμον καὶ πρὸς τὴν φυλακήν· διόπερ τὸν θεὸν τὸν παραὐτοῖς καλούμενον Ἄνουβιν παρεισάγουσι κυνὸς ἔχοντα κεφαλήν, ἐμφαίνοντες ὅτι σωματοφύλαξ ἦν τῶν περὶ τὸν Ὄσιριν καὶ τὴν Ἶσιν.

114 The fact that the god was actually depicted as part jackal rather than part domestic dog does not tend to be recognised by the Greek sources.

115 Aeneid 8.698-700: ranged against the anthropomorphic Roman gods at the battle are ‘omnigenum deum monstra et latrator Anubis.’ Smelik and Hemelrijk (1984, 1854-5) remark on the frequent use of the barking motif in descriptions of Anubis, citing passages in Ovid, Propertius, Lucian, Prudentius, Epiphanius and Avienus. The word monstra is vague, but must refer to non-anthropomorphic divine forms.

116 On this aspect, see Gilhus (2006), 97-9.

117 Plut. de Iside 73.

118 For example, the kunokephaloi were regarded as a tribe of real if strange dog-headed people living in a distant location. (See Romm [1992], 77-81.)

119 See for example Juvenal Sat. 6.532-4. Here as in Lucian (see below) the special incongruity of the combination of animal head and human clothing seems to lend the figure extra piquancy as an expression of the foreign grotesque.

120 See de Iside 74: Lemnians honouring larks, Thessalians storks, and so on – again, based on utility.

121 For detailed discussion of Lucian’s attitudes towards non-Greek gods, see Spickermann (2009).

122 Lucian, Conc. Deor. 10-11: Μῶμος: σὺ δέ, ὦ κυνοπρόσωπε καὶ σινδόσιν ἐσταλμένε Αἰγύπτιε, τίς εἶ, ὦ βέλτιστε, ἢ πῶς ἀξιοῖς θεὸς εἶναι ὑλακτῶν; τί δὲ βουλόμενος καὶ ὁ ποικίλος οὗτος ταῦρος ὁ Μεμφίτης προσκυνεῖται καὶ χρᾷ καὶ προφήτας ἔχει; αἰσχύνομαι γὰρ ἴβιδας καὶ πιθήκους εἰπεῖν καὶ τράγους καὶ ἄλλα πολλῷ γελοιότερα οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅπως ἐξ Αἰγύπτου παραβυσθέντα ἐς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἃ ὑμεῖς, ὦ θεοί, πῶς ἀνέχεσθε ὁρῶντες ἐπ’ ἴσης ἢ καὶ μᾶλλον ὑμῶν προσκυνοῦμενα; ἢ σύ, ὦ Ζεῦ, πῶς φέρεις ἐπειδὰν κριοῦ κέρατα φύσωσί σοι; – Ζευς: αἰσχρὰ ὡς ἀληθῶς ταῦτα φὴς τὰ περὶ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων· ὅμως δ’ οὖν, ὦ Μῶμε, τὰ πολλὰ αὐτῶν αἰνίγματά ἐστιν, καὶ οὐ πάνυ χρὴ καταγελᾶν ἀμύητον ὄντα. – Μῶμος: πάνυ γοῦν μυστηρίων, ὦ Ζεῦ, δεῖ ἡμῖν, ὡς εἰδέναι θεοὺς μὲν τοὺς θεούς, κυνοκεφάλους δὲ τοὺς κυνοκεφάλους.

123 On Lucian’s characterisation of Egyptian zoolatry as entirely ludicrous, see Spickermann (2009), 248-52. He makes the important observation that Lucian reverses the Herodotean schema whereby the gods of Greece derive from Egypt; for Lucian, Greece is – and must be – the source of the religious system, and the Egyptians then twist the gods they have adopted into bizarre and laughable forms.

124 We should almost certainly take this as an authorial opinion; as Spickermann (2009, 246-8) demonstrates, Lucian deliberately opposes himself to the characterisation of Egyptian religion (especially its priests) by Plutarch and others as a repository of mystic, secret wisdom.

125 Lucian, Conc. Deor. 4-5: πάντες γάρ, οἶμαι, ὁρᾶτε ὡς θῆλυς καὶ γυναικεῖος τὴν φύσιν, ἡμιμανής, ἀκράτου ἕωθεν ἀποπνέων· ὁ δὲ καὶ ὅλην φατρίαν ἐσεποίησεν ἡμῖν καὶ τὸν χορὸν ἐπαγόμενος πάρεστι καὶ θεοὺς ἀπέφηνε τὸν Πᾶνα καὶ τὸν Σιληνὸν καὶ Σατύρους, ἀγροίκους τινὰς καὶ αἰπόλους τοὺς πολλούς, σκιρτητικοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ τὰς μορφὰς ἀλλοκότους· ὧν ὁ μὲν κέρατα ἔχων καὶ ὅσον ἐξ ἡμισείας ἐς τὸ κάτω αἰγὶ ἐοικὼς καὶ γένειον βαθὺ καθειμένος ὀλίγον τράγου διαφέρων ἐστίν, ὁ δὲ φαλακρὸς γέρων, σιμὸς τὴν ῥῖνα, ἐπὶ ὄνου τὰ πολλὰ ὀχούμενος, Λυδὸς οὗτος, οἱ δὲ Σατύροι ὀξεῖς τὰ ὦτα, καὶ αὐτοὶ φαλακροί, κεράσται, οἷα τοῖς ἄρτι γεννηθεῖσιν ἐρίφοις τὰ κέρατα ὑποφύεται, Φρύγες τινὲς ὄντες· ἔχουσι δὲ καὶ οὐρὰς ἅπαντες. ὁρᾶτε οἵους ἡμῖν θεοὺς ποιεῖ ὁ γεννάδας; εἶτα θαυμάζομεν εἰ καταφρονοῦσιν ἡμῶν οἱ ἄνθρωποι ὁρῶντες οὕτω γελοίους θεοὺς καὶ τεραστίους;.

126 Greek myth does not make Dionysos an out-and-out foreigner (after all, he is the son of Zeus and Semele in most accounts), but there is a frequent motif of his arrival from the east as an adult, for example in Euripides’ Bacchai.

127 It would be more correct (though it is not generally the practice, and will not be the practice here) to refer to the author of the ‘Library of Greek Mythology’ as ps.-Apollodoros, as since the late nineteenth century it has been widely accepted that the mythographer was not, as had previously been thought, the same person as the Alexandrian scholar Apollodoros of Athens, who worked in the second century BC. The mythographer commonly designated by that name appears rather to have lived in the second century AD, though it is probable that his work incorporates elements of that of his earlier namesake.

128 A great deal of scholarship surrounds the work of Apollodoros especially, who is also the author most frequently cited in this study. The Bibliotheke has long been recognised to be a digest, a collation of numerous known and unknown sources, grouped schematically but without great imagination. It is valuable in that it makes use of earlier material. It is dangerous in that it gives the myths a misleading impression of coherence, of stability, of occupying a fixed canon; this has been extremely influential in modern approaches (see Dowden [1992], 18-21). Our reliance on it for the myths, however, is great and inevitable. The scholarship on Apollodoros, especially on the fraught issue of his identity and on the manuscript tradition, has been thoroughly assessed by Huys (1997; updated and augmented in 2004).

129 On Apollodoros’ selection of both Classical and Hellenistic sources, see Huys (1997), 347. Hellenistic sources have been identified as providing most of the material in the Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis, and the Fabulae and Astronomia of Hyginus; Nikandros and Boios appear especially well-represented, and are also thought to have been used by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. For a thorough and detailed discussion of Antoninus Liberalis and Hyginus, and their sources, see Forbes Irving (1990), 19-37.

Table des illustrations

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