The alluring mermaids sighted by lonely mariners. The winged angels, by turns avenging and comforting, that abound in Christian art. The fearsome Minotaur of Greek mythology. Animal-headed deities, from the elephant-headed Ganesha in India to the falcon-headed Horus in Ancient Egypt. An enigmatic cave painting representing a possibly shamanic figure with the hind parts of a man and the foreparts of a stag. As far back as we go in human history, we find therianthropes, or animal-human hybrids.
In this thoughtful volume, Philip F. Palmedo surveys each of the major categories of therianthrope in turn with particular attention to their roles in religion, folklore, and the popular consciousness. With well-chosen colour illustrations, he demonstrates how artists of all eras have shaped our conception of these mythical beings. Palmedo closes the book by theorising about the ultimate origin and meaning of therianthropes, placing them at the nexus of our close ancestral relationship with the animal world.