About this artwork
The Greek imagination was populated with a number of strange creatures. When their thoughts turned to wine, Greeks pictured mischievous young satyrs, the half- human, half-horse creatures who frolicked, danced, and chased hapless maenads. Satyrs symbolized suppressed hedonistic desires that were unleashed by the intoxicating elixir of the wine god Dionysos, known to the Romans as Bacchus. These creatures are mature satyrs, or silenoi (sing. silenos), and they once served as decorative elements for a type of couch on which elite, well-to-do Romans reclined at lavish banquets. Because wine was served at these festive events, creatures from Dionysos’s entourage were popular subjects for such furniture attachments.
Each object is made of two pieces that were cast separately and fastened together. The proper right arm of the left silenos is lost, but the right one retains his separately made left arm. It and the wineskin slung over the corresponding shoulder were cast as one piece. The sclerae, or whites of their eyes, are silver, as are their teeth; furthermore, their lips were once inlaid with copper. Their remarkably animated facial expressions, with their furrowed brows and slightly parted lips, can be read as conveying pathos, perplexity, or perhaps inebriated befuddlement.
- Ancient Roman
- Attachments Depicting Busts of Silenoi
- Roman Empire
- 50 BCE–50 CE
- Bronze, silver, and copper
- 1: 17.8 × 14.6 × 8.6 cm (7 × 5 3/4 × 3 3/8 in.); 2: 18.7 × 16.2 × 8.9 cm (7 3/8 × 6 3/8 × 4 1/2 in.)
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund