Satyr: The Divinity of Nature in Greek Mythology


     Satyr is, in Greek Mythology, the Divinity of woods and nature. They are often associated with the God Pan (who is also a Satyr, however is a unique personality). Check out.

Satyr in Greek Mythology:

     In Greek Mythology, a Satyr is a spirit of male nature with ears and tail similar to a horse, as well as a permanent, exaggerated erection. Early artistic representations sometimes include horse-like legs, but in the sixth century BC they were more often depicted with human legs. Comically hideous, they have mane-like hair, beastly faces and upturned noses and are always shown naked.

     Satyrs were characterized by their obscenity and were known as lovers of wine, music, dance and women. They were companions of the god Dionysus and were believed to live in remote places such as woods, mountains and pastures. They often tried to seduce or rape nymphs and mortal women, often with little success. Sometimes they are shown masturbating or practicing bestiality.

     In classical Athens, satyrs composed the chorus in a genre of play known as the "satyr play", which was a parody of tragedy and was known for its obscene and obscene humor. The only complete surviving play of this genre is the Cyclops of Euripides, although a significant portion of Sophocles' Ichneutae also survives. In mythology, it is said that the satyr Marsyas challenged the god Apollo to a musical contest and was flayed alive for his arrogance.

     Though superficially ridiculous, satyrs were also considered to have useful knowledge if they could be persuaded to reveal it. The satyr Silenus was the young Dionysius' tutor and a story by Ionia told of a Silenus who gave good advice when captured.

Satyrs were more Human than Beasts!

     Throughout Greek history, satyrs were gradually portrayed as more human and less bestial. They also began to acquire goat characteristics in some representations as a result of merging with the Pans, plural forms of the god Pan with the legs and horns of goats. The Romans identified satyrs with their native nature spirits, fauns. Eventually, the distinction between the two was totally lost.

     Since the Renaissance, satyrs are often depicted with goat's legs and horns. Representations of satyrs playing with nymphs are common in Western art, with many famous artists creating works on the theme. Since the beginning of the 20th century, satyrs have generally lost much of their characteristic obscenity, becoming more domesticated and domestic figures. They commonly appear in fantasy works and children's literature, in which they are more often called "fauns".


     According to classicist William Hansen, although satyrs were popular in classical art, they rarely appear in surviving mythological accounts. Different classical sources present conflicting accounts of the origins of satyrs. According to a fragment of the Hesiodic Catalog of Women, the satyrs are sons of the five granddaughters of Phoroneus and, therefore, brothers of the Oreads and the Kouretes. The satyr Marsias, however, is described by mythographers as the son of Olympus or Oiagros. Hansen notes that "there may be more than one way to produce a satyr, just as there is to produce a Cyclops or a centaur." The ancient Greeks recognized that satyrs obviously could not self-reproduce since there were no female satyrs, but they seem to be unsure whether satyrs were mortal or immortal.

     Rather than appearing en masse as in satyr plays, when satyrs appear in myth, it is usually in the form of a single famous character. Comic playwright Melanipides de Melos (c. 480-430 BC) tells the story in his lost comedy Marsias of how, after inventing the aulos, the goddess Athena looked at herself in the mirror as she played it. She saw how blowing on it swelled her cheeks and made her look silly, so she threw the class away and cursed it so that whoever caught it would die a terrible death. The aulos was picked up by the satyr Marsyas, who challenged Apollo to a musical contest.