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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 Hedreen lays stress upon dramatic performance, and so his work may be compared with books by A. W. Pickard-Cambridge and T. B. L. Webster. . . . In both vase-painting and philological studies the author is well informed, and he informs the reader well."
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.
"Guy Hedreen lays stress upon dramatic performance, and so his work may be compared with books by A. W. Pickard-Cambridge and B. L. Webster. . . . In both vase-painting and philological studies the author is well informed, and he informs the reader well."
"In general, Hedreen has succeeded where many have failed: after creation of an exhaustive catalogue of a very large corpus as the basis of his research, he has written an engaging account of the material informed by the cataloguing exercise but in no way dominated by the cataloguing mentality. This is an impressive and praiseworthy achievement. . . . Hedreen is to be praised for his smooth manipulation of a large corpus of material and for the success of his efforts to demonstrate the potential value of the iconographic evidence for a major problem of 'literary' history; and in the process for raising interesting questions of, and offering useful insights into, a significant body of Archaic vase-painting."
---Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"With the publication of this book, it will be necessary to rethink, even if not rewrite, the beginnings of Athenian drama. It is still difficult to imagine what these early performances looked or sounded like, but H[edreen] has certainly given us food for thought on the subject."
---B.A. Sparkes, Journal of Hellenic Studies
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