In Greek and Roman mythology, what is the difference in between satyrs, sileni, and also fauns, who all possessed pet characteristics?


The Graeco-Roman god of the vine, Dionysus, is usually presented accompanied by substantial retinue that includes a variety of lesser divine beings. These include the Maenads, who space drunk or raging nymphs, who, for example, tore the unfortunately singer Orpheus come pieces as soon as he refuse to move out of your way.

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A drunken satyr having actually a an excellent time. Bronze. Native the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, currently in the National historical Museum of Naples. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (source).

Aside indigenous the Maenads, the followers of Dionysus likewise include a variety of other creature who in arts are shown as a mixture that human and also animal characteristics. They include satyrs, sileni, and fauns. Lock are essentially nature spirits. Conversely, nymphs room female, the satyrs, sileni, and fauns space all male. The difference between these three distinctive entities isn’t always clear, but they are not that difficult to phone call apart once you know what to look for.

Satyrs have actually the tail, ears and, rarely, the legs of a horse. In ancient Greek theatre, satyr plays featured choruses that satyrs. Satyr plays to be short and also inspired through Greek mythology. They were tragicomedic and also featured rudely humour, with plenty of sexual references. A famed satyr to be Marsyas, who shed a musical contest versus the god Apollo and also was flayed for his arrogance.

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A silenus balancing a kantharos (deep cup) ~ above the finish of his erect penis. Detail of one Attic red-figure psykter (wine-cooler), signed by Douris together a painter. Dated to ca. 500-490 BC. Currently in the british Museum. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (source).

The sileni are basically older satyrs. In art, they are usually depicted with bald or balding heads; sometimes, their beards and hair room coloured white. The most significant of their number was Silenus, who played vital role in the satyr play The Cyclops by Euripides. Silenus is sometimes illustrated as lot older and much more out of form than normal; in this guise, he’s occasionally referred to as Papposilenus.

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The so-called Barberini Faun, named after the owner Francesco Barberini (1597–1679). This statue to be made in the later 3rd or early second century BC. The was later on a component of the Mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian (now Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome).

Finally, we have the panes or fauns, that are called after the ancient Greek god Pan. Pan stood for untamed nature; his key attribute to be the pan flute. The Romans referred to Pan as Faunus. Like satyrs and also sileni, the panes or fauns were mostly human being in appearance, but unlike the previous were depicted with the legs and also tail of goats. Sometimes they are likewise depicted v the head that a goat.

Satyrs, sileni and fauns room often depicted as lustful creatures, no infrequently drunk. Satyrs in particular are virtually always depicted with (exaggerated) erect phalli; the technological term is “ithyphallic”. As older and presumably wiser creatures, sileni space sometimes shown with flaccid rather than erect members. Satyrs in certain are often shown trying to seduce or rape nymphs, yet they sometimes collection their sights on other unfortunate victims, too.

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The drunken and also rowdy behaviour of satyrs invites comparison through centaurs, creatures who had the body of a horse with the top torso, arms, and head of a human being being in location of the horse’s neck and also head. Centaurs couldn’t organize their liquor and, favor the nature spirits debated in this article, were susceptible to rape and also debauchery.