Index | Silenus

Silenus. The older satyrs were generally termed Sileni; but one of these Sileni is commonly the Silenus, who always accompanies Dionysus (Bacchus), whom he is said to have brought up and instructed. He is represented as a jovial old man, with a bald head, pug nose, and rubicund visage, and generally as intoxicated, and, therefore, riding on an ass or supported by satyrs. He was fond of music and dancing and is often accompanied by the flute. But it is a peculiar feature in his character that he was an inspired prophet, yet, 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. Like the sea-gods, Silenus was noted for wisdom; and it would, therefore, appear that a Silen was simply a river-god; and the name probably comes from the Greek verb, signifying to roll, expressive of the motion of the streams. The connection between Silenus, Bacchus, and the Naiades thus becomes easy of explanation, all being deities relating to moisture.