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|Similar creatures||Faun, Minotaur, centaur, harpy, siren|
|Habitat||Woodland and mountains|
In Greek mythology, a satyr[a] is a male nature spirit with ears and a tail resembling those of a horse, as well as a permanent, exaggerated erection. Early artistic representations sometimes include horse-like legs, but, in 6th-century BC black-figure pottery, human legs are the most common. The faun is a similar woodland-dwelling creature from Roman mythology, which had the body of a man, but the legs, horns, and tail of a goat. In myths, both are often associated with pipe-playing and are frequent companions of the god Dionysus. Greek-speaking Romans often used the Greek term saturos when referring to the Latin faunus, and eventually syncretized the two (the female "Satyresses" were a later invention of poets). They are also known for their focus on sexual desires. They were characterized by the desire to have sexual intercourse with as many women as possible, known as satyriasis.
Satyrs are the companions of Dionysus, the god of wine. They are lovers of wine and women, and they are ready for every physical pleasure. They roam to the music of pipes (auloi), cymbals, castanets, and bagpipes, and they love to chase maenads or bacchants (with whom they are obsessed, and whom they often pursue), or in later art, dance with the nymphs, and have a special form of dance called sikinnis. Because of their love of wine, they are often represented holding wine cups, and they appear often in the decorations on wine cups.
The satyr's chief was Silenus, a minor deity associated (like Hermes and Priapus) with fertility. These characters can be found in the only complete remaining satyr play, Cyclops, by Euripides, and the fragments of Sophocles's Ichneutae (Tracking Satyrs). The satyr play was a short, lighthearted tailpiece performed after each trilogy of tragedies in Athenian festivals honoring Dionysus. There is not enough evidence to determine whether the satyr play regularly drew on the same myths as those dramatized in the tragedies that preceded. The groundbreaking tragic playwright Aeschylus is said to have been especially loved for his satyr plays, but none of them have survived.
According to classicist Martin Litchfield West, satyrs and silenoi in Greek mythology are similar to a number of other entities appearing in other Indo-European mythologies, indicating that they probably go back, in some vague form, to Proto-Indo-European mythology. Like satyrs, these other Indo-European nature spirits are often human-animal hybrids, frequently bearing specifically equine or asinine features. Human-animal hybrids known as Kiṃpuruṣas or Kiṃnaras are mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa, an Indian epic poem written in Sanskrit. According to Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) and others, the ancient Celts believed in dusii, which were hairy demons believed to occasionally take human form and seduce mortal women. Later figures in Celtic folklore, including the Irish bocánach, the Scottish ùruisg and glaistig, and the Manx goayr heddagh, are part human and part goat. The lexicographer Hesychius of Alexandria (fifth or sixth century AD) records that the Illyrians believed in satyr-like creatures called Deuadai. The Slavic lešiy also bears similarities to satyrs, since he is described as being covered in hair and having "goat's horns, ears, feet, and long clawlike fingernails."
Like satyrs, these similar creatures in other Indo-European mythologies are often also tricksters, mischief-makers, and dancers. The lešiy was believed to trick travelers into losing their way. The Armenian Pay(n) were a group of male spirits said to dance in the woods. In Germanic mythology, elves were also said to dance in woodland clearings and leave behind fairy rings. They were also thought to play pranks, steal horses, tie knots in people's hair, and steal children and replace them with changelings. West notes that satyrs, elves, and other nature spirits of this variety are a "motley crew" and that it is difficult to reconstruct a prototype behind them. Nonetheless, he concludes that "we can recognize recurrent traits" and that they can probably be traced back to the Proto-Indo-Europeans in some form.
Archaic and Classical Greece
In archaic and classical Greek art, satyrs are shown with the ears and tails of horses. Sometimes they also have the legs of horses, but, in ancient art, including both vase paintings and in sculptures, satyrs are most often represented with human legs and feet. In the Catalogue of Women, which is attributed to the Boeotian poet Hesiod, satyrs are born alongside the nymphs and Kouretes and are described as "good-for-nothing, prankster Satyrs". Satyrs were widely seen as mischief-makers who routinely played tricks on people and interfered with their personal properties. They had insatiable sexual appetites and often sought to seduce or ravish both nymphs and mortal women alike, though these attempts were not always successful. They are often indistinguishable from silenoi, who were nearly identical but older. A single elderly satyr named Silenus was believed to have been the tutor of Dionysus on Mount Nysa. After Dionysus grew to maturity, Silenus became one of his most devout followers, remaining perpetually drunk.
This image was reflected in the classical Athenian satyr play. Satyr plays were a genre of plays defined by the fact that their choruses were made up of satyrs, who, according to Carl A. Shaw, were "always trying to get a laugh with their animalistic, playfully rowdy, and, above all, sexual behavior." The only complete extant satyr play is Euripides's Cyclops, which is a burlesque of a scene from the eighth-century BC epic poem, the Odyssey, in which Odysseus is captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus in a cave. In the play, Polyphemus has captured a tribe of satyrs led by Silenus, who is described as their "Father", and forced them to work for him as his slaves. After Polyphemus captures Odysseus, Silenus attempts to play Odysseus and Polyphemus off each other for his own benefit, primarily by tricking them into giving him wine. As in the original scene, Odysseus manages to blind Polyphemus and escape.
In Sophocles's nearly complete satyr play Ichneutae (Tracking Satyrs), the chorus of satyrs are described as "lying on the ground like hedgehogs in a bush, or like a monkey bending over to fart at someone." The character Cyllene scolds them: "All you [satyrs] do you do for the sake of fun!... Cease to expand your smooth phallus with delight. You should not make silly jokes and chatter, so that the gods will make you shed tears to make me laugh." In Dionysius's fragmentary satyr play Limos (Starvation), Silenus attempts to give the hero Heracles an enema. The genre's reputation for crude humor is alluded to in other texts as well. In Aristophanes's comedy Thesmophoriazusae, the tragic poet Agathon declares that a dramatist must be able to adopt the personae of his characters in order to successfully portray them on stage. In lines 157–158, Euripides's unnamed relative retorts: "Well, let me know when you're writing satyr plays; I'll get behind you with my hard-on and show you how." This is the only extant reference to the genre of satyr plays from a work of ancient Greek comedy and, according to Shaw, it effectively characterizes satyr plays as "a genre of 'hard-ons.'" The third or second-century BC philosopher Demetrius of Phalerum famously characterized the satiric genre in his treatise De Elocutione as the middle ground between tragedy and comedy: a "playful tragedy" (τραγῳδία παίζουσα, tragōdía paízdousa).
The comic playwright Melanippides of Melos (c. 480-430 BC) tells the story in his comedy Marsyas of how, after inventing the aulos, the goddess Athena looked in the mirror while she was playing it. She saw how blowing into it puffed up her cheeks and made her look silly, so she threw the aulos away and cursed it so that whoever picked it up would meet an awful death. The aulos was picked up by the satyr Marsyas, who was later killed by Apollo for his hubris. Later, this story became accepted as canonical and the Athenian sculptor Myron created a group of bronze sculptures based on it, which was installed before the western front of the Parthenon in around 440 BC.
In spite of their bawdy behavior, however, satyrs were still revered as semi-divine beings and companions of the god Dionysus. They were thought to possess their own kind of wisdom that was useful to humans if they could be convinced to share it. In Plato's Symposium, Alcibiades praises Socrates by comparing him to the famous satyr Marsyas. He resembles him physically, since he is balding and has a snub-nose, but Alcibiades contends that he resembles him mentally as well, because he is "insulting and abusive", in possession of irresistible charm, "erotically inclined to beautiful people", and "acts as if he knows nothing". Alcibiades concludes that Socrates's role as a philosopher is similar to that of the paternal satyr Silenus, because, at first, his questions seem ridiculous and laughable, but, upon closer inspection, they are revealed to be filled with much wisdom. Aristotle mentions in fragment 44 that King Midas once captured a silenus, who provided him with wise philosophical advice.
In earlier Greek art, Silenus appears as old and ugly, but in later art, especially in Hellenistic art, he is softened into a more youthful and graceful aspect. This transformation or humanization of the Satyr appears throughout late Greek art. Another example of this shift occurs in the portrayal of Medusa and in that of the Amazon, characters who are traditionally depicted as barbaric and uncivilized.
The Athenian sculptor Praxiteles's statue Pouring Satyr represented the eponymous satyr as very human-like. The satyr was shown as very young, in line with Praxiteles's frequent agenda of representing deities and other figures as adolescents. This tendency is also attested in the descriptions of his sculptures of Dionysus and the Archer Eros written in the third or fourth century AD by the art critic Callistratus. The original statue is widely assumed to have depicted the satyr in the act of pouring an oinochoe over his head into a cup, probably a kantharos. Antonio Corso describes the satyr in this sculpture as a "gentle youth" and "a precious and gentle being" with "soft and velvety" skin. The only hints at his "feral nature" were his ears, which were slightly pointed, and his small tail.
The shape of the sculpture was an S-shape, shown in three-quarter view. The satyr had short, boyish locks, derived from those of earlier Greek athletic sculpture. Although the original statue has been lost, a representation of the pouring satyr appears in a late classical relief sculpture from Athens and twenty-nine alleged "copies" of the statue from the time of the Roman Empire have also survived. Olga Palagia and J. J. Pollitt argue that, although the Pouring Satyr is widely accepted as a genuine work of Praxiteles, it may not have been a single work at all and the supposed "copies" of it may merely be Roman sculptures repeating the traditional Greek motif of pouring wine at symposia.
The first-century BC Roman poet Lucretius mentions in his lengthy poem De rerum natura that people of his time believed in goat-legged satyrs and nymphs who lived in the mountains and fauns who played music on stringed instruments and pipes. The first-century AD Roman poet Ovid makes Jupiter, the king of the gods, express worry that the viciousness of humans will leave fauns, nymphs, and satyrs without a place to live, so he gives them a home in the forests, woodlands, and mountains, where they will be safe. Ovid also retells the story of Marsyas's hubris. He describes a musical contest between Marsyas, playing the aulos, and the god Apollo, playing the lyre. Marsyas loses and Apollo flays him as punishment.
The second-century Greek Middle Platonist philosopher Plutarch records a legendary incident in his Life of Sulla, in which the soldiers of the Roman general Sulla are reported to have captured a satyr sleeping during a military campaign in Greece in 89 BC. Sulla's men brought the satyr to him and he attempted to interrogate it, but it spoke only in an unintelligible sound across between the neighing of a horse and the bleating of a goat. The treatise Saturnalia by the fifth-century AD Roman poet Macrobius connects both the word satyr and the name Saturn to the Greek word for "penis". Macrobius explains that this is on account of satyrs' sexual lewdness. Macrobius also equates Dionysus and Apollo as the same deity and states that a festival in honor of Bacchus is held every year atop Mount Parnassus, at which many satyrs are often seen.
Mature satyrs are often depicted in Roman art with goat's horns, while juveniles are often shown with bony nubs on their foreheads. In Greek Mythology Satyrs are known for being a class of lustful, drunken woodland gods. 
Satyrs are sometimes described and represented in medieval bestiaries, where they are often conflated with the western European wild men and are shown dressed in an animal skin, carrying a club and a serpent. In the Aberdeen Bestiary, the Ashmole Bestiary, and MS Harley 3244, a satyr is shown as a nude man holding a wand resembling a jester's club and leaning back, crossing his legs. They are sometimes juxtaposed with apes, which are characterized as "physically disgusting and akin to the Devil". In other cases, satyrs are usually shown nude, with enlarged phalli to emphasize their sexual nature. In the Second-Family Bestiary, the name "satyr" is used as the name of a species of ape, which is described as having a "very agreeable face, restless, however, in its twitching movements."
During the Renaissance, satyrs and fauns began to reappear in works of European art. During the Renaissance, no distinction was made between satyrs and fauns and both were usually given human and goat-like features in whatever proportion the artist deemed appropriate. A goat-legged satyr appears at the base of Michelangelo's statue Bacchus (1497).
In many English versions of the Bible, two verses from Isaiah (13:21 and 34:14) use the English word "satyr" as a translation for the Hebrew word "sa'iyr". These two verses are the only time Satyrs are mentioned in the Bible. The biblical satyrs are depicted as “hairy demons or monsters of semitic superstition, supposed to inhabit deserts” (Knowles). Isaiah 13:21 references these creatures by writing “wild beasts of the desert shall lie there….and satyrs shall dance there.” Isaiah 34:14 reads, “The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.”
In Leviticus 17:7 there is an allusion to the practice of sacrificing to the se'irim (KJV "devils"; ASV "he-goats"). These may correspond to the "shaggy demon of the mountain-pass" (azabb al-‘akaba) of old Arab legend. It may otherwise refer to literal goats, and the worship of such.
Edmund Spenser refers to a group of woodland creatures as Satyrs in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. In Canto VI, Una is wandering through the forest when she stumbles upon a “troupe of Fauns and Satyrs far away Within the wood were dancing in a round.” Although Satyrs are often negatively characterized in Greek and Roman mythology, the Satyrs in this poem are docile, helpful creatures. This is evident by the way they help protect Una from Sansloy. Sylvanus, the leader, and the rest of the Satyrs become enamored by Una’s beauty and begin to worship her as if she is a deity. However, the Satyrs prove to be simple minded creatures because they begin to worship the donkey she was riding.
The French emperor Napoleon III awarded the Academic painter Alexandre Cabanel the Legion of Honour, partly on account of his painting Nymph Abducted by a Faun. In 1873, another French Academicist William-Adolphe Bouguereau painted Nymphs and Satyr, which depicts four nude nymphs dancing around "an unusually submissive satyr", gently coaxing him into the water of a nearby stream. This painting was bought that same year by an American named John Wolfe and was soon mass reproduced on ceramic tiles, porcelain plates, and other luxury items in the United States.
Some renaissance works depict young satyrs being tended to by older, sober satyrs, while there are also some representations of child satyrs taking part in Bacchanalian / Dionysian rituals (including drinking alcohol, playing musical instruments, and dancing).
The presence of a baby or child satyr in a classical work, such as on a Greek vase, was mainly an aesthetic choice on the part of the artist. However, the role of a child in Greek art might imply a further meaning for baby satyrs: Eros, the son of Aphrodite, is consistently represented as a child or baby, and Bacchus, the divine sponsor of satyrs, is seen in numerous works as a baby, often in the company of the satyrs. A prominent instance of a baby satyr outside ancient Greece is Albrecht Dürer's 1505 engraving, "Musical Satyr and Nymph with Baby (Satyr's Family)". There is also a Victorian period napkin ring depicting a baby satyr next to a barrel, which further represents the perception of baby satyrs as partaking in the Bacchanalian festivities.
There are also many works of art of the rococo period depicting child or baby satyrs in Bacchanalian celebrations. Some works depict female satyrs with their children; others describe the child satyrs as playing an active role in the events, including one instance of a painting by Jean Raoux (1677–1735). "Mlle Prévost as a Bacchante" depicts a child satyr playing a tambourine while Mlle Prévost, a dancer at the Opéra, is dancing as part of the Bacchanal festivities.
The Young Adult Series Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan features a Satyr by the name of Grover Underwood as one of the series’s key protagonists. Contrasting the Greek and Roman depictions of Satyrs, Grover Underwood is a wise character who serves as a best friend and mentor the titular character Percy Jackson. Grover Underwood is present in all five of the pentalogy and is also referenced in the sister series Heroes of Olympus.
The satyr has appeared in all five editions of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, having been introduced in 1976 in the earliest edition, in Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes (1976), then the first edition Monster Manual (1977), where it is described as a sylvan woodland inhabitant primarily interested in sport such as frolicking, piping, and chasing wood nymphs. The life history of satyr was further detailed in Dragon #155 (March 1990), in "The Ecology of the Satyr." The satyr was later detailed as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), and is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995). The satyr appears in the Monster Manual for the 3.0 edition. Savage Species (2003) presented the satyr as both a race and a playable class. The satyr appears in the revised Monster Manual for 3.5. The satyr appears in the Monster Manual for 4th edition, and as a playable character race in the Heroes of the Feywild sourcebook (2011).
Satyrs and orangutans
In the 17th century, the satyr legend came to be associated with stories of the orangutan, a great ape now found only in Sumatra and Borneo. Many early accounts which apparently refer to this animal describe the males as being sexually aggressive towards human women and towards females of its own species. The first scientific name given to this ape was Simia satyrus.
A bald, bearded, horse-tailed satyr balances a winecup on his penis, on an Attic red-figured psykter, c. 500–490 BC
Fight between Satyr and a woman, A sketch of Augustin Hirschvogel.
Fight between Satyr and a nymph, Naples National Archaeological Museum.
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