Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fauns and Satyrs

The satyrs were woodland spirits, often depicted in arts with head and upper body of man, horns and pointy ears, and goat legs. They were also depicted with large erect phallus (penis).

They were often seen accompanying Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. They were shown in drunken revelry and orgy, dancing with Dionysus' female followers, the maenads.
Pan, the god of shepherd was a satyr, so was probably Silenus or Seilenus. Silenus was one of the loyal followers of Dionysus, who brought up the wine god.

Satyrs were usually represented as being very hairy and having the tails and ears of a horse and often the horns and legs of a goat. An important part of Dionysus' entourage, they were lustful, fertile creatures, always merrily drinking and dancing.

In Greek mythology, satyrs (in Greek, Σάτυροι — Sátyroi) are a troop of male companions of Pan and Dionysus— "satyresses" were a late invention of poets— that roamed the woods and mountains. In mythology they are often associated with male sex drive and vase-painters often portrayed them with uncontrollable erections.

The Fauns and Satyrs were he-creatures, like men, with the hind-legs of goats, short horns on their foreheads, and long pointed ears. But there was a difference between the Fauns and Satyrs. The Fauns were handsome, gentle, innocent, and rather foolish. The Satyrs were hideous, clumsy, hairy monsters, with flat faces, little eyes, and huge mouths, great gluttons, often drunk, and sometimes mischievous: most of them were dull and stupid, but many of them had plenty of sense and knowledge. The Fauns and Satyrs lived among the woods and hills like the Dryads and Oreads.

The king of all these Nymphs, Fauns, and Satyrs was a god named Pan, who was himself a very hideous satyr. He had nothing to do with the gods of Olympus, but lived on the earth, chiefly in a part of Greece called Arcādia. "Pan" is the Greek for "all"—you remember the same word in the name of "Pan-dora." He was called "Pan" because he was the god of "all" nature—all the hills and mountains, all the woods and forests, all the fields, rivers, and streams.

Anonymous poem: A Faun meets a Taormina shepherd
In the most remote areas of Taormina's wilderness,
Young shepherds met fauns and satyrs, Pan and Dionysos,
Hidding behind a rock, vanishing in a flash, a flash of light.
Most of the time they were mere illusions, a reflection of the sun,
A mirage in Taormina's wilderness, at the peak of the hot wave,
Or just a noise of a rock falling down from a cliff... 
But Pasqualino met a faun, a real faun, sitting on a rock,
Far away from the usual paths of Taormina's young shepherds,
So far that he was in the middle of nowhere... 
"Are you a god or just an illusion ?", asked Pasqualino.
"Did I love you a long time ago, I am sure I know you",
Answered the faun with his Dionysiac horns... 
"Cute shepherd of Taormina, please, play a melody for me,
A melody from your reed flute, perhaps I will sing one for you,
A song of love, of the love of gods for Taormina's shepherds... 
Please, have a seat on this rock, beside me, let us sing and dream,
Hope and remember, love and be loved, let me tell you the legend of fauns,
Please tell me the story of your life, where you are from, what you dream about..." 
And Pasqualino played the most beautiful of the tunes the boys of Taormina know,
A music wide as an horizon, deep as eyes, sensitive as a caressing hand,
A music of longing and sorrow, of dream and hope, of loneliness and communion. 
Wilhelm von Gloeden's camera obscura was able to catch the magic of this encounter,
The encounter of a Faun and of a young shepherd from Taormina,
At the turn of a century, at the threshold of two worlds, reality and imagination. 
While looking at this photograph, forever I can listen to this forgotten melody,
To the melody of Fauns meeting young shepherds in the most remote wilderness,
Of Fauns falling in love with them, and crossing the invisible border, 
The border between gods and humans, between dream and reality,
Between hope and memory,
So far, so deep, at this crossroads where a lover meet his loved one.
Anonymous poet, around 1907, Von Gloeden Archive, 1907, call number 1907/Anon/12 (Rêves Siciliens)


becca said...

what a great poem i enjoyed it

JoeBlow said...

Thanks, becca. This post started with the picture at the beginning and as I was trying to find who the photographer was, I came across the poem, and the post just emerged from there.

Butterfly said...

Dear JoeBlow,

Thank you for quoting my poem about Fauns and Satyrs !

Many thanks and all the best !


JoeBlow said...

Butterfly, You are most welcome. I added your blog to My Favorite Blogs list as well. You have a beautiful blog.

Butterfly said...

JoeBlow, thank you very much, I added your blog to my favorite blog list too, so we will keep in touch !
By the way, I am a closet professor too ;-)
Good luck for your PhD work, for all your projects, and... just be happy !!

JoeBlow said...

Thanks, Butterfly. I love your blog, it is so beautiful. Send me an email sometime ( I would love to get to know another "closet professor."