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Open Access Publications from the University of California

First in Flight: Etruscan Winged "Demons"


Etruscan winged Underworld figures (commonly referred to as winged “demons”) represent one of the most fascinating and least understood aspects of funerary iconography in ancient Etruria. Their function, along with their origin, has long been the subject of scholarly debates. However, over the last two decades, scholars have begun to take a closer look at these chthonic figures. Recent scholarship has begun to provide answers to many of the most fundamental questions concerning their role, even if disagreements remain over their murky origins. Expanding on interpretations that have cast new light on how these winged (and non winged) Underworld figures functioned, questions concerning Etruscan religious beliefs and funerary ideology can now be reconsidered.

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