From Angels to Werewolves: Animal-Human Hybrids in Myth and Art (Hardcover)

From Angels to Werewolves: Animal-Human Hybrids in Myth and Art By Philip F. Palmedo Cover Image

From Angels to Werewolves: Animal-Human Hybrids in Myth and Art (Hardcover)


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An exploration of animal-human hybrids (also known as therianthropes) in the myth and art of cultures around the world—illustrated in full color

  • Animal-headed humans

  • Winged beings

  • Serpent-humans

  • Merpeople

  • Centaurs and satyrs

  • Shape-shifters

  • Talking animals


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 hindparts 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—from animal-headed beings to merpeople to shape-shifters—with particular attention to their roles in religion, folklore, and the popular consciousness. With well-chosen color illustrations, he demonstrates how artists of all eras have shaped our conception of these mythical beings. Palmedo closes the book by theorizing about the ultimate origin and meaning of therianthropes, placing them at the nexus of our close ancestral relationship with the animal world.

From Angels to Werewolves will fascinate anyone with an interest in myth, fantasy, or the human-animal bond.

Philip F. Palmedo studied art history and physics as an undergraduate at Williams College, and received his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT. Retired from a distinguished career as a research scientist and entrepreneur, Palmedo is the author of several books on art, most recently The Experience of Modern Sculpture: A Guide to Enjoying Works of the Past 100 Years.
Product Details ISBN: 9780789214461
ISBN-10: 0789214466
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Publication Date: September 19th, 2023
Pages: 144
Language: English
From Angels to Werewolves grapples with some of the oldest, most widespread, and enigmatic works of art. Therianthropes, images that combine animal and human imagery into single beings, appear the world over, from the Ice Age caves to artworks of the earliest civilizations, from medieval manuscripts to Picasso’s sketchbooks, from hunter-gatherer rock art to Disneyland (think Mickey Mouse). In this work, Palmedo brings his long experience and deep expertise interpreting and explaining modern art to connecting the dots between some of humanity’s oldest artworks and their modern-day counterparts. Richly illustrated and engagingly written, From Angels to Werewolves offers up a fresh and engaging perspective. It will interest those who have studied such artworks for years and delight those encountering them for the first time, guided by an expert at the top of his game.

— John J. Shea, Professor of Anthropology, Stony Brook University