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Emma Aston

Section Three : Mixanthropy and representation

Chapter IX

Mixanthropy and plurality

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1The topic of this book is the mixanthropic deity as a named individual and recipient of cult. However, groups have been surfacing regularly; most recently it was seen that Acheloos overwhelmingly receives worship, and is depicted, as part of a group of divinities: the ‘kourotrophic collective’ in which Pan, and sometimes Cheiron, are also included. The religious functionality of this group, drafting in several deities to humanity’s aid, is part of the story, but there is a representational dimension which also requires discussion. Plurality has a special relationship with mixanthropy. In the reliefs, Acheloos is named and identifiable, but there are cases in which the plurality of mixanthropes overrides individual identity and establishes instead a quality of the generic that is vital to the mixanthropic nature. Acheloos is a cult-receiving god, but mixanthropic plurality will take us away from the figure of the deity himself into his surroundings, his environs, a domain which cannot afford to be ignored since it illustrates some essential aspects of the meaning of mixanthropy in religious contexts.

1. The Lykosoura veil again

2In Chapter 6, it was shown that Arkadia was not the repository of unambiguously depicted mixanthropic deities that its reputation would have one believe. Further, it was shown that mixanthropy, so far from being essentially primitive, tends in its established forms to be the process of an artistically dynamic society and of a corroborating process of visual repetition which fixes and canonises a form that is fundamentally fluid. For this reason, Attica gives us a larger number of actual mixanthropic depictions of gods than does Arkadia. However, Arkadia should not merely be dismissed as backward and inadequate. Though it does not give us clear representations of mixanthropic gods, yet it does provide the most valuable example of mixanthropic imagery in the environs of a deity: the carved drapery worn by the figure of Despoina in Damophon’s statue-group in the sanctuary of Demeter and Despoina at Lykosoura.

3Many temples and sanctuaries in the Greek world contained mixanthropic imagery. Famous examples such as the centauromachies at Athens, Olympia and Bassai were discussed in the Introduction; countless less patent instances abound in the archaeological record, reflecting the popularity of fabulous beings as decorative elements. However, what is typically lacking is any possibility of assessing the symbolic relationship between the mixanthropes and the deity. Even in the well-documented context of the Parthenon, it is debatable how centaurs related to Athene, the temple’s chief occupant. There is certainly room for a systematic study of mixanthropic imagery within sanctuaries; such a study would probably reveal meaningful trends. But without this comprehensive treatment, few individual instances allow for a satisfactory analysis of meaning. However, Lykosoura is different. We know, thanks to Pausanias, the main myths surrounding Demeter and Despoina, myths which linked the sites of Phigalia, Thelpousa and Lykosoura, myths full of metamorphosis and mixanthropy; we also have some awareness of the cult at Lykosoura. We can examine the mixanthropic imagery there in the light of this background knowledge.

  • 1 Pace Jost, who claims, ‘les gestes sont humains, les pattes, lorsqu’elles apparaissent, sont figuré (...)

4The carved veil has already been described in Chapter 6, and can be seen at fig. 30. The marine thiasos in the upper half is a favourite decorative theme from the fourth century BC onwards, but the figures in the lowest register are more unusual, dancers and musicians with animal heads among which various species are represented. So unique are these forms that they deserve to be regarded as having some special connection with the cult and its deities: but what connection? Who or what are the dancing people? Most scholars have been convinced that they depict masked participants in an orgiastic ritual such as was performed in the worship of Demeter and Despoina. The performance of such a ritual is plausible, though hard to prove, but nothing in the figures themselves suggests the presence of masks and costumes,1 and they are just as likely to be fabulous beings as humans wearing fabulous disguises. The tone of the veil’s carving as a whole is certainly more mythical than historical, given the marine creatures on the upper half, and the winged beings in the central register. Visual precedent in Greek art as a whole favours reading the dancing figures as a variation on the thiasos motif: imaginary beings dancing in honour of the goddesses, not deities themselves but closely allied to them.

5What is important here is the abnegation of a mixanthropic deity per se. For all the rumours of a mixanthropic image of Demeter at Phigalia, Damophon was not interested in depicting either Demeter or her daughter as mixanthropic. Instead, mixanthropic imagery was included in a more marginal position, as orna­ment. Instead of a single, central mixanthropic image we have a series of small, anonymous figures, literally on the fringes. In addition to the veil, there were fish-tailed figures as decorative attachments on the goddesses’ throne; also those mysterious terracottas showing ram-headed entities: in other words, no mixanthropic cult statue, but a profusion of surrounding mixanthropic figures, plural and anonymous. It is all too easy to assume that this manifestation of mixanthropy on the margins is the result of religious squeamishness, a reluctance to depict either Demeter or Despoina herself as a mixanthrope; and such depiction would indeed have been an iconographically drastic choice. But the peripheral mixanthropes should not be seen merely as the furtive inclusion of characteristics nervously displaced from the central position. On the contrary, the placing of mixanthropy in the surroundings of a deity has some early and important precedents, as does the plurality of the Lykosouran mixanthropes.

2. The Dionysiac thiasos and the Mistress of Animals

  • 2 On the treatment of the thiasos on vases, see Bérard and Bron (1989).

6The animal-headed figures on the Lykosoura veil seem to be a variation on the groups of beings, generally dancing, which accompany the god Dionysos in visual representations from the early sixth century. These groups typically include various mixanthropes: most prominently the satyrs, but also Silenoi and Panes, and – less frequently and in different contexts – Acheloos. The thiasos is a matter both of artistic convention (the depiction of the god in the midst of a frieze of dancing forms) and of imagined ‘life’: when Dionysos is described in textual narrative it is often as with his thiasos around him, and this accords with his depiction in art. As an artistic motif, the thiasos is a particular favourite of vase-painters, and examples abound; an example is given at fig. 42.2

7The mixanthropes of the thiasos are not the god; they are often divine or semi-divine, but the central figure and recipient of worship is Dionysos, and he is anthropomorphic. In Chapter 2, it was shown that mixanthropic depictions of Dionysos were not unknown in antiquity; yet they are few, and tend to be late, far later than the depiction of an anthropomorphic Dionysos surrounded by a mix­anthropic retinue. The latter is clearly the earlier and more important type.

  • 3 Line 21, spoken by the god himself.
  • 4 See e.g. line 115 – Dionysos leading the thiasos.

8That said, there is no doubt that the mixanthropes around Dionysos reflect aspects of the god. Though shown almost always as anthropomorphic, Dionysos was a shape-shifter in myth, particularly given to the adoption of animal forms. This manifestation of divine attributes in the immediate surroundings of the god rather than in his actual person is not limited to mixanthropy; another example is one of behaviour. As was observed in the previous chapter, Dionysos tends often to be shown relatively still and composed while his thiasos cavort around him; and yet we know from the textual evidence that he was considered himself as a being with the potential for violent movement and for loss of self-control. In the words of the Elean hymn, he is implored to come θύων – ‘rushing’ – and in Euripides’ Bacchai he is described as dancing3 and as accompanying his frantic celebrants.4 However, even in that play the frenzied actions are more often performed by those around and affected by the god than by the god himself, who generally gives an impression of poise and calm. In myth too (for example that of the Minyades’ punishment) chief emphasis is placed not on the god’s own persona as wild and uncontrolled, but on his inflicting such a persona on others. In the same way, mixanthropy and animal metamorphosis are part of the god’s nature, but far more obviously are inflicted on, and manifested in, people and beings in his vicinity. This is the case with the satyrs and other mixanthropes of his train, in whom animality and violent motion combine. So the case of Dionysos reveals a situation in which the mixanthrope is not the god, but reflects the god. Though the Lykosoura veil is a very different case, a piece of decoration on the edge of a statue-group, we can see how mixanthropy in the vicinity of a deity is used to reflect aspects of mythological significance while the anthropomorphism of the main image is maintained.

  • 5 Sometimes there is another singular figure within the hurly-burly of the thiasos: the god Hephaisto (...)

9In the thiasos, plurality has implications for identity. Individual identity is subordinated to the identity of groups – satyrs, Silenoi, Panes, or, even more broadly, the thiasos. This is in striking contrast with the singularity of Dionysos, just as their marginality was in contrast to his centrality.5 Plurality, marginality and a certain individual anonymity: these characteristics are naturally concomitant when mixanthropy occupies a deity’s surrounds.

  • 6 Homer does mention other animals bewitched by the sorceress (Od. 10.212-19), but Odysseus’ transfor (...)

10An illuminating counter-example of a rather different nature is the case of Circe and her treatment of Odysseus’ shipmates. In Homer’s narrative, the dangerous sorceress changes her victims into swine. Renderings of the story on painted pottery make some significant changes: first, the transformed men are shown as mixanthropes rather than as whole animals (this has been discussed in Chapter 7); and second, their animal parts include several species even within the same scene, not just pigs.6 Though a desire for visual variety probably fuelled this, an additional aspect is that the abundance of species results in an arrangement far more analogous to the thiasos in terms of the features described above. Circe is shown surrounded by a frieze of largely animal-headed forms. She is not herself a mixanthrope or a metamorphosist, but she has the ability to inflict both these states on those in her vicinity. The mixanthropes around her are numerous and have no individual identity, at least as conveyed visually. The profusion of species is interesting. It recalls Lykosoura and the veil, because there too myth presents a single species (in that case the horse), whereas art opts for the maximum variety: horse, ass, fox, hare, and so on. Variety of forms within a thiasos-type scene seems a consistent artistic convention.

  • 7 In a paper – unpublished – given at the Celtic Conference at the University of Lampeter (Aug. 30-Se (...)
  • 8 Lawler (1952), 317.
  • 9 For example, the carved decoration on and around the polos of the caryatid on the Siphnian treasury (...)
  • 10 For example on Corinthian black-figure vases, on which the decorative friezes of forms include both (...)
  • 11 Lawler (1952), 320.

11The resemblance of the Circe-scene on vases to the thiasos has been noted by Alexandridis.7 It also, however, has another association, which is emphasised by Lawler in an article on animal dances in Greek culture: the figure of the potnia thêrôn or Mistress of Animals. ‘There can be no doubt that Circe was at one time a lesser deity of the “Mistress of Animals” type.’8 Doubt is in fact a reasonable reaction to such a blunt claim of hypostasis; and yet it remains true that aspects of the Mistress of Animals type do tie in with some of the features of mixanthropic depiction which have been dealt with here. On the Minoan and Mycenaean gem-stones, for example, animals and animal-daimones are interchangeable in the rôle of flanking attendants to female divinities. More generally, animals and mixanthropes rub shoulders in decoration, both cultic9 and non-cultic.10 So it could be said that in the case of a female deity or divine figure, mixanthropes in attendance indicate potnia thêrôn status. This would be an interesting (though by no means as clear-cut) counterpart to the Dionysiac thiasos: one a male context, the other female, both indicating the deity’s dominance over the animal kingdom and nature more generally. Certainly this is the view of Lawler, who includes Lyko­souran Despoina in her theory. Having described the animal-headed dancers on the carved veil of the goddess, Lawler concludes, ‘Despoina is of course a Mistress of Animals, having close connections with Artemis.’11

  • 12 The servile nature of the animals in Circe’s power is clear from Homer’s description: lions and wol (...)

12However, such claims inexcusably elide the difference between attendant animals and attendant mixanthropes; surely the latter raise quite separate issues and have a quite distinct significance? Lawler (1952) deals with this question by arguing that attendant mixanthropes represent – or were once intended to represent – masked humans engaged in mimetic animal dances. In other words, depictions of a Mistress of Animals figure with attendant mixanthropes are the depiction of ritual. However, it is certain that the beings around Dionysos and around Circe (and probably those on the veil of Despoina) were conceived as supernatural beings. And there is a very simple element which distinguishes atten­dant mixanthropes from their wholly animal counterparts. That is, the strong theme of metamorphosis. Whereas the animals flanking a potnia thêrôn figure may be seen as chiefly subordinate to her divine power, a more complex relationship exists between beings like Dionysos and Circe and the mixanthropes around them.12 As has been said, the mixanthropes reflect aspects of the central figure, and chief among such aspects is the property of transformation, of fluidity of form. Circe causes metamorphosis; Dionysos both causes and undergoes. In either case, given the functional connection, outlined in Chapter 7, between mixanthropy and metamorphosis, there is no doubt that that is what the mixan­thropes around Dionysos and Circe chiefly represent. Wholly animal attendants would not carry this significance, and would not suit the thematic needs of such divinities. In the case of Despoina also, given the myth of metamorphosis in which her birth is framed, the transformational aspect of mixanthropic imagery adorning and surrounding her statue is quite appropriate. No ritualist theories are required to explain it.

13So I would argue that while the figure of the potnia thêrôn bears some similarities with that of the divinity attended by mixanthropes, the latter has far more to do with the transformational milieu of Dionysos. After all, the cult of Despoina, like that of Dionysos, was one of mystery and revelation, and in both these, movement between states is a central theme.

  • 13 On the nature of these artefacts and their imagery, see Higgins (1981), 180-88. A brief discussion (...)
  • 14 There are a few cases where an animal head and torso appear to be attached to human legs and feet; (...)
  • 15 For discussion of these figures and the questions surrounding their identity, see Nilsson (1971), 3 (...)
  • 16 Prent makes the important observation (2005, 185) that mixanthropes on their own (rather than flank (...)
  • 17 Marinatos (1993, 196-7) argues that in Minoan artefacts one may discern a hierarchy among the figur (...)

14It should be noted that mixanthropic retinues or attendants of deities have a long, though not straightforward, pedigree. Especially hard to interpret is the material from the Mycenaean and Minoan cultures; the seals and sealings, which form the bulk of the evidence,13 are extremely problematic, not only because of the highly mysterious imagery they contain, but also because it is hard to be certain whether in general the unusual forms which appear on them so frequently – typically referred to as demons or genii – are indeed mixanthropes in the true sense.14 Most look more like animals standing on their hind legs, normally with some form of clothing or covering to complicate the issue.15 They certainly present a blurring of the animal-human divide by placing animals in human postures, but seldom do so by showing actual anatomical combination. None the less, some patterns are noteworthy. Animal characteristics are almost never invested in a single, central figure. Centrality is almost always the preserve of a single humanoid figure, around which monstrous, mixanthropic or animal forms are grouped.16 They appear to hold an auxiliary function, rather than being the chief recipients of worship in their own right.17 The monstrous forms on the gems often perform tasks such as bearing vessels and other objects before a (presumably) deity. This trend accords with Near Eastern imagery, in which monstrous and mixanthropic forms are very often in subordinate positions; they are also typically plural. It is impossible to establish the connections and influences between these cases and the Classical imagery of Dionysos and Circe, but one can be certain that mixanthropic retinues and attendants are no fifth-century innovation, and are historically not limited to Greek culture either.

3. Pan, or Panes?

15Within the thiasos, as within the nymph-reliefs containing Acheloos, one can discern named individuals. However, many beings included have a group rather than individual identity, such as the nymphs and the satyrs. Moreover, mixanthropes who have an individual identity often carry a generic one in addition, and the interplay of individual with generic is of the greatest significance. The most striking example of this interplay is Pan.

  • 18 For multiple Panes, see LIMC s.v. ‘Pan’, cat. nos. 133-5; attending other gods, ibid. cat. nos. 190 (...)
  • 19 Aristoph. Ekkl. 1069.
  • 20 Paus. 8.37.2 tells us of a relief showing nymphs and Panes on the portico of Despoina’s temple at L (...)

16Pan is a figure whose Classical and post-Classical manifestations in iconography are dominated by the interchangeability between, on the one hand, a single figure with individual identity and, on the other, a being whose identity is generic rather than personal. Like Acheloos, Pan is often represented in company, either with Dionysos and his retinue, or (in cult imagery) with the nymphs, Hermes and Acheloos. Unlike Acheloos, his collective identity has another strand: he can appear in plural, as several, or pairs of, Panes. Panes appear on vases and other popular media from the Classical period onwards,18 and the first literary reference to the plural is in Aristophanes.19 On the whole the plural form appears more in non-cultic imagery, though there are exceptions.20 So the appearance of Panes in non-cultic art, especially Attic pottery, is roughly contemporary with the flowering in popularity of the single form, and also with his arrival into Athens as a cult-receiving deity. However, it is tempting to ask whether there are in fact early variants of the plural Pan form among the anonymous mixanthropes of the archaeological record. A particularly attractive possibility is presented by the small bronze group from Methydrion in Arkadia (fig. 22) showing a circle of animal-headed forms, perhaps dancing, humanoid in body or at the very least of humanoid upright posture. As was said in Chapter 2, these have been regarded by some as antecedents of the ‘upright goat’ Pan-type seen on a few Attic black figure pots. Their date is not precisely known (they are either seventh or sixth century), but they seem to predate any named individual Pan: should they therefore encourage the idea that Pan’s earliest form was a plural rather than singular one, and that the specific grew out of the generic?

  • 21 Nilsson certainly oversimplified the situation when he declared that plurality of divine figures wa (...)

17This is problematic and proof is not forthcoming. The Methydrion figures are mysterious, and to label them as Panes is highly conjectural; in any case, a focus on the original form of a deity is rarely sustainable.21 It is in fact more fruitful to remark on the coincidence of singular and plural, the fact that at the same time and within the same media Pan could be both an individual and a type. This duality raises a question over every Pan image: is it Pan, or a Pan? Even when he is represented singly, the generic identity is bound to have been in the background. A modern counter-example might be a stuffed toy in the form of a cartoon cat. Such an object is both Garfield and a Garfield, and the two identities are not really in conflict.

  • 22 See Heath (1990), 148. Heath translates the title of the play as ‘Cheiron and his Companions’, but (...)

18The tendency of mixanthropes to have a plural and/or generic dimension of this kind is intriguingly strong. The satyrs always have this identity, and know no other. On the other hand, there are Silenoi, but there is also Silenos, who is a personality in his own right. The centaurs have in their past the shadowy character Kentauros, though in a sense an eponymous ancestor-figure has a rather separate raison d’être. Even Cheiron, that most singular centaur, has a little flicker of plurality: Kratinos wrote a comedy called Cheirones, ‘the Cheirons’;22 the group-centaurs may also be viewed as his plural equivalent. The Sirens operate collectively in myth, but cult does something to distinguish individuals, especially Parthenope. On the whole, it is generally non-cult-receiving mixanthropes who have a strongly plural dimension. Sometimes, the same physical form is shared by, on the one hand, a singular being who receives cult, and plural ones who do not: this is the case with Proteus and Triton, the latter a being whose plural dimension is strongly represented in visual media, especially in the context of the marine thiasos. On the whole there appears to be a correlation between singularity and status. Qualities of wisdom and power, especially prophetic, attach more strongly to single mixanthropes than to pluralities. Qualities of the ludicrous, the violent, the wild, are slightly more strongly attached to groups, though a singular figure like Pan certainly has his share.

19There are many divine pluralities at work in the Greek pantheon, some of them recipients of cult. The nymphs are the most famous plural constituents of the kourotrophic collective; there are also vengeance-related pluralities called variously the Semnai Theai, Eumenides and Erinyes; and there are masculine pluralities such as the Daktyloi, the Telchines and the Kabeiroi. Sometimes an individual name is known, or more often a list of names, but this is not always required by either religious or narrative context. On the one hand, several mixanthropic gods clearly belong to this religious sphere where generic identity is important; on the other, individual identities emerge more strongly among divine mixanthropes than among the above pluralities, and the result is an abiding relationship between the named and the anonymous, the individual and the generic, which is never fully dissolved.


20Plurality and anonymity attend the mixanthropic form in its decorative manifestation, ubiquitous in Greek art from the frieze-patterns of Korinthian pots to the hybrid forms in jewellery and other small wares. Sometimes one suspects that a specific identity lurks behind an image; at other times it is probable that the ancient viewer would have had none such in mind. For mixanthropes to appear together, in nameless pairs, sequences and clusters, would have been a visual cliché in the ancient world, too prevalent to excite notice.

21Yet this is plainly more than just a case of artistic convention, the aesthetic and technical desirability of repeat-patterns. It has been shown that the plurality and anonymity of mixanthropes are of considerable religious significance as well. In certain contexts, it suits an artist or a narrator to turn away from the single named form, and this abnegation is not just a matter of trend-following. In fact, plurality and anonymity are in some ways particularly suited to what a mixanthrope stands for. In terms of symbolic expression, there are some things which the group can achieve that the individual cannot.

22Looking back over the last four chapters, we may see that plurality of forms in particular is inherently suitable for mixanthropes given their nature as embodiments of metamorphosis. Their frequent depiction in votive reliefs and friezes, rather than as separate figures in the round, is significant here. More than a single effigy, a frieze allows for a certain amount of (implicit) narrative, movement and change. The eye travels over its surface taking in a sequence of forms. Whereas a single effigy freezes its subject absolutely in the moment, the frieze – somewhat like a cartoon-strip – gives him space within a little story, in which movement and change are not wholly eradicated. We have seen that the mixanthrope bows to, and compensates for, the impossibility of depicting transformation in art. But perhaps the frieze does something more to counteract the static nature of the visual image. The figures on the Lykosoura vestment certainly make the most of this possibility: the variety of species represented, like the analogous variety among the victims of Circe, increases the sense of transformation within the line; and the figures are engaged in the lively movement of the dance. The ways in which the medium of the frieze manipulates the conjoined ideas of mobility and immobility were explored in the previous chapter, in relation to Acheloos. Dionysiac imagery is dominated by the same basic duality in the relationship between the still god and the moving forms around him; and the plurality of the thiasos, the way in which its proportions make the viewer’s eye travel along its length, taking in variation and sequence, certainly enhances its dynamism.

23Away from purely visual terms, what plurality allows is the transcendance of individual identity. Mixanthropes are boundary-crossers, always potentially metamorphic, not restricted to a single shape, and it seems that they are also unwilling to be confined within a single identity as imposed by the rigid limits of the singular. By being part of a group and by being many, mixanthropes have a flexibility and a divisibility which accords well with their general fluidity of form and character. Essentially, plurality expresses the same qualities as do the processes of metamorphosis and shape-changing, and though plurality is by no means limited to metamorphosists it and the ability to transform make a powerful semantic combination.

24It has also been shown that mixanthropy in its plural form sometimes occupies not the person of the god but his surroundings. This has implications for our modern understanding and approach. The mixanthropic god has great symbolic power, but it is wrong to expect the qualities of any deity always to be coterminous with his anatomy. Some deities are depicted without mixanthropy of their own but rather radiate mixanthropy, projecting their properties of metamorphosis and combination onto their immediate environs. Why not? Gods are not, as humans are, discrete bodies with more or less solid limits and boundaries. They are complex clusters of meaning and association, whose semantic force forms an aura around them. This is the case with all deities, but some in particular seem especially ill-suited to the restriction of fixed, single identity. Mixanthropy is one way of circumventing this restriction, another is metamorphosis, a third is plurality; all three are used, often in combination, to depict beings for whom the single, stable and united anatomic form is just too simple. For deities, physicality is always a potential source of limitation; it struggles to accommodate the divine, and so does representation. This struggle is the subject of the final chapter of this book.


1 Pace Jost, who claims, ‘les gestes sont humains, les pattes, lorsqu’elles apparaissent, sont figurées de telle sorte qu’elles peuvent fort bien recouvrir ou prolonger des membres humains.’ Jost (1985), 329; cf. Jost (2003) and Jost (2008). She is not the only exponent, although she is an especially influential one. Once more using the mixanthropic artefacts from the site as the chief evidence, Loukas (1989) argues that animal masks were used in the Mysteries at Lykosoura to inspire ritual terror. The accompanying discussion of the use of masks to arouse strong emotion in ritual contexts is extremely valuable (cf. Lada-Richards [1998], 48, on the use of similar devices at Eleusis); but as usual the claims concerning actual rites performed at Lykosoura rest on a shaky basis – the enigmatic mixanthropic forms themselves. The same objection may be made to Loucas-Durie’s discussion (1992) of orgiastic rites at Lykosoura, where it is claimed that ‘Au mégaron de la déesse, les fidèles déguisés en animaux se livraient à un drômenon orgiastique’ (page 87; similarly, Jost (2008, 105-6) interprets the terracottas as masked initiates. The layout of the megaron’s remains contributes to the reconstruction of ritual, but most weight rests on the carved drapery and on the mixanthropic terracottas.

2 On the treatment of the thiasos on vases, see Bérard and Bron (1989).

3 Line 21, spoken by the god himself.

4 See e.g. line 115 – Dionysos leading the thiasos.

5 Sometimes there is another singular figure within the hurly-burly of the thiasos: the god Hephaistos, returning to Olympos after his expulsion, escorted by the mixanthropes of Dionysos’ train. For the Dionysiac imagery of this scene, see Carpenter (1986), 13-29.

6 Homer does mention other animals bewitched by the sorceress (Od. 10.212-19), but Odysseus’ transformed men are uniformly porcine. In Apollodoros (Epit. 7.14) their species are various (wolves, pigs, asses and lions); but it seems likely that he was influenced by the widespread artistic practice of showing them with such a variety.

7 In a paper – unpublished – given at the Celtic Conference at the University of Lampeter (Aug. 30-Sept. 2).

8 Lawler (1952), 317.

9 For example, the carved decoration on and around the polos of the caryatid on the Siphnian treasury at Delphi incorporated both mixanthropes (satyrs) and animals (lions attacking a stag on the crowning capital). See Themelis (1992), 53.

10 For example on Corinthian black-figure vases, on which the decorative friezes of forms include both real and fabulous (including mixanthropic) animals.

11 Lawler (1952), 320.

12 The servile nature of the animals in Circe’s power is clear from Homer’s description: lions and wolves that she has bewitched fawn on passing humans in an unnatural manner Hom. Od. 10.212-19). Perhaps we are to imagine them fawning on Circe, an image which certainly increases her resemblance to the figure of the potnia thêrôn. The mixanthropes ranged about her in art, however, present a rather different relationship.

13 On the nature of these artefacts and their imagery, see Higgins (1981), 180-88. A brief discussion of the fantastical imagery is to be found in Vermeule (1964), 284-9.

14 There are a few cases where an animal head and torso appear to be attached to human legs and feet; an example may be seen in Kenna (1960), 56, fig. 117 (LM II basalt lentoid, Oxford Ashmol. Mus. 1938.1071). However, as Kenna himself observes with regard to such a type, it appears in part to result from the ‘torsional tendency’ of the art of the time, a trend which increasingly divides the body of the subject into upper and lower half, encouraging experiments in hybridism quite different from the genii in whose depiction animal and human parts are by no means graphically partitioned.

15 For discussion of these figures and the questions surrounding their identity, see Nilsson (1971), 376-81; Hooker (1976), 199-201; Marinatos (1993), 196-7. Ultimately their identity and rôle remain almost entirely mysterious. The most common, and most sensible, expedient has been to refer to them as daimones or genii, which acknowledges both their supernatural quality and the fact that they appear, from their often servile positions in the imagery involved, not to be deities of the highest status.

16 Prent makes the important observation (2005, 185) that mixanthropes on their own (rather than flanking a deity or in a group) appear relatively late in Minoan art. Their participation in group-scenes is their earlier manifestation rather than a consecutive development.

17 Marinatos (1993, 196-7) argues that in Minoan artefacts one may discern a hierarchy among the figures whereby quasi-animal ‘demons’ are subordinate to anthropomorphic deities but rank higher than simple animals, which they often hunt and kill. The various interrelationships are clearly illustrated by the images he gives on pp. 198-200.

18 For multiple Panes, see LIMC s.v. ‘Pan’, cat. nos. 133-5; attending other gods, ibid. cat. nos. 190-243.

19 Aristoph. Ekkl. 1069.

20 Paus. 8.37.2 tells us of a relief showing nymphs and Panes on the portico of Despoina’s temple at Lykosoura. Iconographically, the link between nymphs and Pan is of course a consistently strong one (see Larson [2001], 96-8 on their cultic relationship), although in votive reliefs with the nymphs (and Acheloos) Pan tends to be singular rather than plural; multiple Panes are more frequently found in non-cultic depictions.

21 Nilsson certainly oversimplified the situation when he declared that plurality of divine figures was always a sign of the very earliest forms of deity and cult. His theory was that groups of deities were largely a feature of the earliest forms of nature-worship, since an awareness of the numinous character of landscape – the sacrosanctity of all groves, springs etc. – naturally lends itself to plural rather than singular divinity. There is a great deal of truth in this; but in focusing on origins, Nilsson’s observation neglects the tendency for retrogressive, archaising developments such as we find in the Attic treatment of Pan and Acheloos. The sacred cave in Attica from the Classical period onwards may be seen as recreating, in a new context, what were felt to be essential and primordial features of the deities involved. Mannhardt takes a similar line to that of Nilsson, suggesting that, at the earliest stage of Greek religious development, the countryside was felt to be haunted by various nature-daemons, the fore-runners of Silenoi and satyrs. See Mannhardt (1877), 132-48; see also Nilsson (1972), 10-14.

22 See Heath (1990), 148. Heath translates the title of the play as ‘Cheiron and his Companions’, but this does not remove the peculiarity of the plural; surely Kentauroi would be the expected group term.

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