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According to classicist Martin Litchfield West , satyrs and silenoi in Greek mythology are similar to a number of other entities appearing in other Indo-European mythologies, [14] indicating that they probably go back, in some vague form, to Proto-Indo-European mythology. Like satyrs, these similar creatures in other Indo-European mythologies are often also tricksters, mischief-makers, and dancers. On the other hand, a number of commentators have noted that satyrs are also similar to beings in the beliefs of ancient Near Eastern cultures. Various demons of the desert are mentioned in ancient Near Eastern texts, although the iconography of these beings is poorly-attested.

In archaic and classical Greek art, satyrs are shown with the ears and tails of horses. Satyrs' genitals are always depicted as either erect or at least extremely large. One of the earliest written sources for satyrs is the Catalogue of Women , which is attributed to the Boeotian poet Hesiod. Here satyrs are born alongside the nymphs and Kouretes and are described as "good-for-nothing, prankster Satyrs". This image was reflected in the classical Athenian satyr play. Shaw, the chorus of satyrs in a satyr play were "always trying to get a laugh with their animalistic, playfully rowdy, and, above all, sexual behavior.

The only complete extant satyr play is Euripides 's Cyclops , [1] [2] [49] [54] which is a burlesque of a scene from the eighth-century BC epic poem, the Odyssey , in which Odysseus is captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus in a cave. Cease to expand your smooth phallus with delight. You should not make silly jokes and chatter, so that the gods will make you shed tears to make me laugh. In Dionysius's fragmentary satyr play Limos Starvation , Silenus attempts to give the hero Heracles an enema.

In spite of their bawdy behavior, however, satyrs were still revered as semi-divine beings and companions of the god Dionysus.

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According to classicist William F. Hansen, although satyrs were popular in classical art, they rarely appear in surviving mythological accounts. Rather than appearing en masse as in satyr-plays, when satyrs appear in myths it is usually in the form of a single, famous character. In a myth referenced in multiple classical texts, including the Bibliotheke of Pseudo-Apollodorus and the Fabulae of Pseudo-Hyginus, a satyr from Argos once attempted to rape the nymph Amymone , but she called to the god Poseidon for help and he launched his trident at the satyr, knocking him to the ground.

The iconography of satyrs was gradually conflated with that of the Pans, plural forms of the god Pan , who were regularly depicted with the legs and horns of a goat. Artists also began to widely represent scenes of nymphs repelling the unwanted advances of amorous satyrs. The Athenian sculptor Praxiteles 's statue Pouring Satyr represented the eponymous satyr as very human-like.

The shape of the sculpture was an S-shape , shown in three-quarter view. Pollitt argue that, although the Pouring Satyr is widely accepted as a genuine work of Praxiteles, [79] it may not have been a single work at all and the supposed "copies" of it may merely be Roman sculptures repeating the traditional Greek motif of pouring wine at symposia. The Romans identified satyrs with their own nature spirits, fauns. In Roman-era depictions, satyrs and fauns are both often associated with music and depicted playing the Pan pipes or syrinx.

The Roman naturalist and encyclopedist Pliny the Elder conflated satyrs with gibbons , which he describes using the word satyrus , a Latinized form of the Greek satyros. The second-century Greek Middle Platonist philosopher Plutarch records a legendary incident in his Life of Sulla , in which the soldiers of the Roman general Sulla are reported to have captured a satyr sleeping during a military campaign in Greece in 89 BC. The third-century Greek biographer Philostratus records a legend in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana of how the ghost of an Aethiopian satyr was deeply enamored with the women from the local village and had killed two of them.

Starting in late antiquity, Christian writers began to portray satyrs and fauns as dark, evil, and demonic. Medieval storytellers in Western Europe also frequently conflated satyrs with wild men. During the Renaissance , satyrs and fauns began to reappear in works of European art. Satyrs occupied a paradoxical, liminal space in Renaissance art, not only because they were part human and part beast, but also because they were both antique and natural. Campbell calls a "monstrous double" of the category in which human beings often placed themselves.

In Canto VI, Una is wandering through the forest when she stumbles upon a "troupe of Fauns and Satyrs far away Within the wood were dancing in a round. This is evident by the way they help protect Una from Sansloy.

Sylvanus , the leader, and the rest of the Satyrs become enamored by Una's beauty and begin to worship her as if she is a deity. In the seventeenth century, satyrs became identified with great apes. The first scientific name given to this ape was Simia satyrus. Relationships between satyrs and nymphs of this period are often portrayed as consensual. During the nineteenth century, satyrs and nymphs came to often function as a means of representing sexuality without offending Victorian moral sensibilities.

Satyrs and nymphs provided a classical pretext which allowed sexual depictions of them to be seen as objects of high art rather than mere pornography.


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The late nineteenth-century German Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was either unaware of or chose to ignore the fact that, in all the earliest representations, satyrs are depicted as horse-like. In , the French painter Henri Matisse produced his own Nymph and Satyr painting in which the animal nature of the satyr is drastically minimized.

The Italian silent film Il Fauno , directed by Febo Mari , is about a statue of a faun who comes to life and falls in love with a female model. A faun named Mr. Tumnus has goat legs and horns, but also a tail long enough for him to carry it draped over his arm to prevent it from dragging in the snow. Tumnus wears a scarf and carries an umbrella and lives in a cozy cave with a bookshelf with works such as The Life and Letters of Silenus , Nymphs and their Ways , and Is Man a Myth?

The life history of satyrs was further detailed in Dragon No.

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Matthew Barney 's art video Drawing Restraint 7 includes two satyrs wrestling in the backseat of a moving limousine. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Satire or Seder disambiguation. For other uses, see Satyr disambiguation. Attic red-figure plate from Vulci , Etruria , dated c. One of the supposed Roman marble copies of Praxiteles 's Pouring Satyr , which represents a satyr as a young, handsome adolescent [70].

Ancient relief carving from the Naples National Archaeological Museum depicting a fight between satyr and a nymph, a theme which became popular during the Hellenistic Era [71]. Titian 's Flaying of Marsyas c. Sketch by Agostino Carracci from c.


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Satyr and Nymph by Gerard van Honthorst , depicting an obviously consensual affair between a satyr and a nymph []. Nymph Abducted by a Faun by Alexandre Cabanel. Nymphs and Satyr by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. See also: List of satyrs in popular culture. Ancient Greece portal Myths portal.

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