Skip to Content
Closed now, next open tomorrow. Closed now, next open tomorrow.

Attachments Depicting Busts of Silenoi

A work made of bronze, silver, and copper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of bronze, silver, and copper.


Mid 1st century BCE-mid 1st century CE



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.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Roman


Attachments Depicting Busts of Silenoi


Roman Empire (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

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.)

Credit Line

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions