Day Nineteen of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “S” post is all about Satyrs (and, yes, Silenus is one of them…sorta).
So let’s start with the satyrs.
Who were they? What did they look like? And what do they do?
Satyrs were an all-male woodland race. As “rustic fertility spirits” (source), they peacefully coexisted with nature, and later, on his birth and maturation, Dionysus took them in as his companions alongside the all-female, wild group of Maenads.
The satyrs had a distinct appearance, so they could easily be picked apart from other Greek mythical creatures. They had the legs of goats or rams, and “asinine ears, pug noses, reclining hair-lines, the tails of horses and erect members” (source).
They were also looked upon unfavorably for their lascivious nature. Hesiod “describes them as a race good for nothing and unfit for work” (source).
Understandable, considering the main goal of satyrs seemed to be to have fun. They enjoyed their wine, their music and merrymaking, and they loved their women. Especially the poor nymphs… I can’t imagine being a beautiful woman and being accosted by a satyr.
Supposedly, as they enter different stages of life, the satyrs are classed differently:
Older satyrs might (or might not be) grouped as the Sileni. Although, sometimes the Sileni are another mythological race as a whole, with horse ears and tails, etc. But let’s go with their being older satyrs. And child satyrs were called satyriskoi.
Sileni “were depicted as fat, elderly, white-haired men, with snub noses, balding heads, and the ears and tails of asses. They were sometimes covered in fluffy white hair and occasionally sported a pair of ox horns.” (source)
Anyways, one of the more well-known, aged, balding Sileni is the satyr, Silenus.
Who is Silenus?
This old satyr raised an infant Dionysus and nursed by the trio of nymphs on Mt. Nysa (supposedly his three maternal aunts).
Silenus might have been the older god of wine-making and drunkard rowdiness, but Dionysus would inherit that title when he came to his power. But Silenus continued to raise the baby god into a young man in a constant drunken state. He remained a companion and follower of Dionysus.
Silenus would often be seen riding on a donkey. Now though he might look a fool, he was never seen that way. In fact, Silenus was seen as having “homely wisdom”. Think the jester, minus the merry cap (Silenus’s ears would have trouble fitting in it). At least one source mentions Silenus having the ability to see the future. That he’d somehow gain this ability through his copious drinking.
As the young god’s foster father and teacher, Silenus was favored by Dionysus. Such that King Midas was granted such divine favor through his kindness to Silenus.
And if you don’t know who the Greek mythological Midas was…
As the tale goes, King Midas was the ruler of Phrygia and a drunk Silenus had wondered into the kingdom. Sighting him, and knowing him to be Silenus, King Midas took him in or captured him in some variants, but if he was a captor, the king took good care of his guest/captive. And King Midas delivered Silenus back to
Once Dionysus got word of how well Silenus was treated by good King Midas, he granted Midas a wish. Idiot asked for everything he touched to become gold. And it wasn’t like he said “I’m ambidextrous, so I could use any hand, but I want my left hand to be making me gold”.
Midas quickly realized his folly though.
He couldn’t eat any food, for whatever he touched turned to gold. And as a king, it didn’t occur for him to ask for people to feed him. >.>
At least he’s not totally pompous. He has hope.
Midas’s problem crescendos and crashes when his daughter comes to greet him and he hugs her, turning her into a gold, life-like statue.
He prayed to Dionysus to reverse his newfound powers, and Dionysus instructs him to wash his hands in a river, so that he may be rid of the gold-transforming touch. Luckily Midas didn’t think to take a shower at any point…or he’d be a statue too.
MORAL: For Silenus, sharing is caring. For Midas, don’t be greedy.
Sources that helped me with this post:
Check them out if you have the time; they don’t disappoint!