This dissertation is an interdisciplinary examination of the human-animal hybrid divinities of ancient Italy and how their iconography, mythic narrative, and cult interrelate. The deities and demons collected in this text are organized into chapters based on their animal characteristics represented in both art and literature. These figures are imaged in theriomorphic (wholly animal) or therianthropic (a combination of human and animal anatomies or a human form wearing animal dress) forms in addition to their anthropomorphic representations. The deities and demons included in this study are Aesculapius, Charu(n), and the Genius Loci, who are depicted with ophidian imagery, Aita, Faunus, Silvanus, and Apollo Soranus with lupine imagery, Faunus (again), Pan, and Juno Sospita with caprid, the Minotaur and Achelous along with a discussion of the possible representation of Dionysos in taurine form, Picus and three unidentified divinities with avian.
By examining these figures, one can see that previous scholarship concerning the Greco-Roman acceptance of animal worship and the appraisal of these figures as survivals of archaic religion needs revision. Other issues addressed by this work include the Etruscan and Roman importation and adoption of foreign gods, goddess and their mythic narratives, the mercurial nature of pagan deities, the tie between animal imagery and chthonic or liminal figures, the use of theriomorphic and therianthropic deities as apotropaic devices, and the relationship between literary and archaeological evidence. These problems are addressed by a close reading of literary sources and visual analysis of artistic representations of theriomorphic and therianthropic divinities.