The Satyrs

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The Satyrs
The Satyrs were a sort of demi-gods who, with the Fauns and Sylvans, presided over groves and forests under the direction of Pan. They made part of the dramatis personae in the ancient Greek tragedies, which gave rise to the species of poetry called satirical. There is a story that Euphemus, passing from Caria to the extreme parts of the ocean, discovered many desert islands, and being forced by tempestuous weather to land upon one of them, called Satyrida, he found inhabitants covered with yellow hair, having tails not much less than horses.

We are likewise told, that in the expedition which Hanno the Carthaginian made to the parts of Lybia lying beyond Hercules' pillars, they came to a great bay called the Western Horn, in which was an island where they could find or see nothing by day-light but woods, and yet in the night they observed many fires, and heard an incredible and astonishing noise of drums and trumpets; whence they concluded that a number of Satyrs abode there.

It is pretended there really were such monsters as the pagans deified under the name of Satyrs; and one of them, it is said, was brought to Sylla, having been surprised in his sleep. Sylla ordered him to be interrogated by people of different countries, to know what language he spoke; but the Satyr only answered with cries, not unlike those of goats and the neighing of horses. This monster had a human body, but the thighs, legs, and feet of a goat. To the above stories may be added that of the Satyr who passed the Rubicon in presence of Caesar and his whole army.

The Satyrs of the ancients were the ministers and attendants of Bacchus. Their form was not the most inviting; for though their countenances were human, they had horns on their foreheads, crooked hands, rough and hairy bodies, feet and legs like a goat's, and tails which resembled those of horses. The shepherds sacrificed to them the firstlings of their flocks, but more especially grapes and apples; and they addressed to them songs in their forests by which they endeavored to conciliate their favor. When Satyrs arrived at an advanced age they were called Sileni.

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