Attachments Depicting Busts of Silenoi

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

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

Date:

Mid–1st century B.C./mid–1st century A.D.

Artist:

Roman

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.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Artist

Ancient Roman

Title

Attachments Depicting Busts of Silenoi

Origin

Roman Empire

Date

50 AD

Medium

Bronze, silver, and copper

Dimensions

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

1997.554.1-2

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 .

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