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Σειληνός). A sort of Satyr who in mythic legends accompanies the god Bacchus, and who is said to have brought up and instructed him. Like the other Satyrs, he is called a son of Hermes; but others make him a son of Pan by a nymph, or of Gaea. Being the constant companion of Bacchus, he is said, like the god, to have been born at Nysa. Moreover, he took part in the contest with the Giants, and slew Enceladus. He is described as a jovial old man, with a bald head, a blunt nose, fat and round like the wine bag that he always carried with him, and generally intox

Silenus Astride of a Wine-skin. (Bronze found at Herculaneum.)

icated. As he could not trust his own legs, he is generally represented riding on an ass or supported by other Satyrs (Ovid, A. A. i. 543). In every other respect he is described as resembling his brethren in their love of sleep, wine, and music. He is mentioned, along with Marsyas and Olympus, as the inventor of the flute, which he is often seen playing; and a special kind of dance was called after him “Silenus,” while he himself is designated as the dancer. But it is a peculiar feature in his character that he was conceived also as an inspired prophet, who knew all the past and the most distant future, and as a sage who despised all the gifts of fortune. When he was drunk and asleep, he was in the power of mortals, who might compel him to prophesy and sing by surrounding him with chains of flowers. Silenus was probably at first a deity presiding over springs and running streams, and so the wine-skin with which he is frequently represented was doubtless originally a water-skin (Lucian, Deor. Conc. 4).

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    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 1
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