The 10th sign of the western zodiac is Capricorn. "Its dual nature, expressed allegorically in the form of a goat whose body terminates in a fish’s tail, refers to the dual tendencies of life towards the abyss (or water) on the one hand, and the heights (or mountains) on the other; these two currents also signify, in Hindu doctrine, the involute and evolute possibilities: the return to or the departure from the ‘wheel of rebirth’ (that is, the Zodiac)." (Eberhard, pg 38).
The goat has a broader symbolism aside from the zodiac sign of Capricorn. As with most symbols the goat has positive and negative symbolism. The goat represent agility, fertility, generative heat, reproductiveness, sociability, abundant vitality; also lasciviousness, poverty, stench, stupidity, and winter. In some traditions, the goat symbolizes the masculine principle and the reproductive powers of the sun. "The goat typifies foolishness in the valley, but that which is far-seeing and sure footed when on the mountain" (Jobes, pg 665).
The dream significance of a black goat is inconstancy in love; a white goat represents coming misfortune. In heraldry, the goat is the symbol of "the warrior who wins a victory by diplomacy or policy rather than by physical valor" (Jobes). In the northern sky the constellation Capricornus is also known as the Horned Goat. According to Jobes to goat is "in various European languages called gat, ged, geit, get, goot, gote, the radical of all being ‘at’ Egyptian for goat, which also meant heat. In Sanskrit the word is aga," which yields might A, which means mighty sun.
In China, the goat represented yang and is guardian of the direction south, southwest, and west; the hours one to three p.m.; and Wei, the eighth of the twelve terrestrial branches. The goat also symbolizes the good and peace.
In Christianity, the goat "symbolizes those damned in the last judgment…[and is] shown to distinguish sinners from the righteous" (Jobes). The scapegoat is Christ burdened by the sins of the world. The goat is also a familiar of witches and a form of the devil. The goat represented sharp hearing in Egyptian and Hebrew symbology. Early Hebrews considered the goat to be clean and therefore sacrificed goats to Jehovah to atone for sins. "In Greek mythology a goat nursed the infant Asclepius. The aegis of Athena was made from the hide of Amalthea, that she-goat which had nursed Zeus" (Jobes). The goat was also a form of Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and wine. Pan had the ears, horns and limbs of a goat. The Minoan god of the waning year was the goat.
See Bibliography for references.