A welcome examination of some curious creatures and a more curious god

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Abbreviations     ix
Introduction     1

Chapter 1: The Return of Hephaistos     13

Chapter 2: Ariadne     31

Chapter 3: The Silens of Naxos     67

Chapter 4: Some Fifth-Century Satyr-Play Vases     105

Chapter 5: Performances of Silens on Black-figure Vases     125

Chapter 6: Vase-painting and Satyric Performance at Athens in the Sixth Century B.C.     155

Concluding Remarks     179
Appendix 1. Attic Black-figure Representations of the Return of Hephaistos with Silens     183
Appendix 2. Attic Black-figure Representations of Silens Making Wine     185
Works Cited     187
Index of Vases     199
Index of Ancient Authors     209
General Index     213
Plates     221


The mythical creatures known as silens or satyrs are a favorite subject in Greek art. Part horse and part man, these beings are often shown with Dionysos, the god of intoxication, fertility, and dramatic illusion. In this persuasive volume, Guy Hedreen argues that the artistic popularity of these creatures lies in their affiliation with this deity in both myth and ritual.

Drawing upon extensive illustrations, the first portion of Silens in Attic Black-figure Vase-painting explores the narrative content of the many representations of silens. These artistic depictions are the most important surviving source of information about the mythology of silens, and they have not previously been studied from this perspective. The second portion of this volume considers the representation of satyr-plays on Athenian vases. The early history of this intriguing dramatic genre has always been problematic, and the evidence that the author presents will inspire critical reexamination.

Of interest to scholars and students of Athenian vase-painting, drama, and Dionysiac religion, this book speaks also to those who are drawn by the beauty of Athenian vases, and by the seductive call of Dionysos and his band.

Guy Michael Hedreen is Professor of Art, Williams College. He received his Ph.D. in Classical Studies and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College and has held the Whiting Fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies, Athens.