Various interpretations have been given of the horse-headed form of the Black Demeter: (I) that the horse was one of the forms of the corn-spirit in ancient Greece; (2) that it was an animal " devoted " to the chthonian goddess; (3) that it is totemistic; (4) that the form was adopted from Poseidon Hippios, who is frequently associated with the earth-goddess and is said to have received the name Hippios first at Thelpusa, in order that Demeter might figure as the mother of Areion (for a discussion of the whole subject see Farnell, Cults, iii.
It was rather of the nature of the savagetaboo, the outcome of totemistic beliefs or a mode of averting the contaminating presence of djinns and demons.
The latter offers a cannibal-meal to the disguised God, who turns him into a wolf for his sins; and the later Arcadian ritual in honour of this God betrays a hint of lycanthropy; some one who partook of the sacrifice or who swam across a certain lake was supposed to be transformed into a wolf for a certain time.4 Robertson Smith 5 was the first to propose that we have here the traces of an ancient totemistic sacrifice of a wolf-clan, who offered the " theanthropic " animal " the man-wolf " to the wolf-God.
The totemistic theory in its application to Greek religion cannot be here discussed; but we may note that there is no hint in the story that the wolf was offered to Zeus and that the name AvKaios could not originally have designated the " wolf "-God: for from the stem Xveo- we should get the adjective XvKEGOS, not XvKacos; the latter is better derived from a word such as XvKn = " light," and may allude to the God of the clear sky; in fact the wolf, which was a necessary animal in the ritual and legend of Apollo AuKeIOS, may have strayed casually into association with Zeus AvKaios, attracted by a false etymology.
His symbols from the animal kingdom were the bull (perhaps a totemistic attribute and identified with him), the panther, the lion, the tiger, the ass, the goat, and sometimes also the dolphin and the snake.
The consecration of the wolf to Apollo is probably the relic of an ancient totemistic religion (Farnell, Cults, i.
Totemistic clans have been observed in Torres strait, and on the Finsch and west coasts.