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Form: Gr. Seilenos.
A primitive deity in the legends of Asia Minor. He is a divinity of the woodland and the fountains, whom people tried to catch in order to make him prophesy and sing to them. Thus king Midas of Phrygia got him into his power by mixing wine with a spring from which be used to drink, and made him instruct him in all kinds of wisdom. Afterwards, as a son of Hermes and a Nymph, or of Pan, and as the oldest of all the Satyrs, he was added to the train of Dionysus, and was regarded as his teacher and trainer and his constant companion. He is said to have prompted the god to invent the cultivation of the vine and the keeping of bees. He is described as a little old man, potbellied, with bald head and snub nose, his whole body very hairy; never without his skin of wine, always drunk, and hence usually riding on an ass, and led and supported by the other Satyrs; or, again, as tending and educating the child Bacchus, as he is represented in the celebrated group in the Louvre at Paris. A similar group in the Vatican at Rome is reproduced in the accompanying out. Figures of him standing or reclining were used, especially at Athens, as caskets for keeping within them precious pieces of carved work [Plato, Symp. 215, A, B]. There were also Sileni which were regarded in Asia as the inventors of the native music on the flute and the syrinae (see MARSYAS); their father was Papposilenus, who was represented as completely covered with hair and bestial in form.
Type: Standard
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