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Marsyas

Μαρσύας). A Silenus of Phrygian legend (really god of the river of the same name near the old Phrygian town Celaenae), son of Hyagnis or of Olympus. He was the typical player on the flute. Among the Phrygians the flute entered into the worship of Cybelé and Dionysus, and Marsyas is said to have instructed Olympus in playing upon that instrument. According to a Greek legend, Athené had invented the flute, and then cast it aside because it distorted the features of the player. Marsyas took it up, and became so skilful as to challenge Apollo, the patron god of the lyre. The Muses having declared him vanquished, the god flayed him; his skin was hung up in the cave from which the river Marsyas issued, and was said to move about joyfully when a flute was played. King Midas, who had decided in his favour, received as punishment from Apollo a pair of ass's ears. The contest was a favourite subject in art. See Midas.

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