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Silenus Statue

Silenus Statue

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Statue of Silenus

Roman marble sculpture showing the sleeping Silenus. The object dates to the 1st century CE. Silenus was one of Bacchus’ companions (Greek Dionysus) and his teacher. He was a god of nature.

The sculpture decorated proscenium – the podium on which theatrical art took place. The hole in the hands of the god had a pipe that leaked water to the bottom of the podium.

The object was found among the remains of a Roman theater in Lisbon.

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Sculpting Art History: Essays in Memory of Benedict Read. ed. / Katharine Eustace Mark Stocker Joanna Barnes. London : Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, 2018. p. 54-67.

Research output : Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter › peer-review

T1 - Reading Hegel's Silenus with the Infant Bacchus

N2 - This chapter is part of a Festschrift published under the auspices of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA), in honour of the art historian Ben Read, who passed away in October 2017. The publication, Sculpting Art History, Essays in Memory of Benedict Read, is edited by Katharine Eustace FSA and former editor of the Sculpture Journal and Mark Stocker. The book is 472 pages long. The essay/chapter addresses a statue 'Silenus with the Infant Bacchus' in the context of Hegel's Lectures on Fine Art. This includes a reading of the statue's function in the logic of Hegel's system alongside its historical and material specificity, the very plasticity that undoes the conceptual schema of the lectures.

AB - This chapter is part of a Festschrift published under the auspices of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA), in honour of the art historian Ben Read, who passed away in October 2017. The publication, Sculpting Art History, Essays in Memory of Benedict Read, is edited by Katharine Eustace FSA and former editor of the Sculpture Journal and Mark Stocker. The book is 472 pages long. The essay/chapter addresses a statue 'Silenus with the Infant Bacchus' in the context of Hegel's Lectures on Fine Art. This includes a reading of the statue's function in the logic of Hegel's system alongside its historical and material specificity, the very plasticity that undoes the conceptual schema of the lectures.

Deities similar to or like Silenus

Companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. Wikipedia

God of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, festivity and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth. Also known as Bacchus , the name adopted by the Romans the frenzy he induces is bakkheia. Wikipedia

Minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Marked by his oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism. Wikipedia

List of gods, goddesses and many other divine and semi-divine figures from ancient Greek mythology and ancient Greek religion. The Greeks created images of their deities for many purposes. Wikipedia

God of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, rustic music and impromptus, and companion of the nymphs. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. Wikipedia

The Olympian Gods are characters based upon Greek and Roman mythology who appear primarily in Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Aquaman comics. Seeded with great power. Wikipedia

God of festivity, revels and nocturnal dalliances. Son and a cup-bearer of the god Dionysus. Wikipedia

In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue. Their name literally translates as "raving ones". Wikipedia

Most common type of wine-drinking cup. It has a broad, relatively shallow, body raised on a stem from a foot and usually two horizontal handles disposed symmetrically. Wikipedia

Wine has been produced for thousands of years, with evidence of ancient wine production in Georgia (c. 8000) China (c. Wikipedia

The culture hero credited with the discovery of many useful arts, including bee-keeping he was the son of the huntress Cyrene and Apollo. Cult title in many places: Boeotia, Arcadia, Ceos, Sicily, Sardinia, Thessaly, and Macedonia consequently a set of "travels" was imposed, connecting his epiphanies in order to account for these widespread manifestations. Wikipedia

Dialogues of the Gods are 25 miniature dialogues mocking the Homeric conception of the Greek gods written in Attic Greek by Syrian author Lucian of Samosata. There are 25 dialogues in total. Wikipedia

God of the dead and the king of the underworld, with which his name became synonymous. The eldest son of Cronus and Rhea, although the last son regurgitated by his father. Wikipedia

Monumental fresco cycle, completed by the Bolognese artist Annibale Carracci and his studio, in the Farnese Gallery which is located in the west wing of the Palazzo Farnese, now the French Embassy, in Rome. The frescoes were greatly admired at the time, and were later considered to reflect a significant change in painting style away from sixteenth century Mannerism in anticipation of the development of Baroque and Classicism in Rome during the seventeenth century. Wikipedia

The Erotes are a collective of winged gods associated with love and sexual intercourse in Greek mythology. They are part of Aphrodite's retinue. Wikipedia

In Greek mythology Agreus or Argeus (Ancient Greek: Ἀγρεύς, Ἀργεύς means "hunter") and his brother Nomios (Νόμιος means "shepherd") are two of the Pans, creatures multiplied from the god Pan. They are human in shape, but have the horns of goats. Wikipedia

Personification of the grapevine and lover of Dionysus in Greek and Roman mythology. Satyr that either turned into a Constellation or the grape vine, due to Dionysus. Wikipedia


The huge statue has been known as Marforio since the 12th century. The name probably derives from its original location, which in medieval times was thought to have been a “Forum of Mars” (Matris Forum), in the area between the Roman Forum and the Imperial Forums.

The statue is more than six meters long

Most probably, Marforio represents the personification of Ocean, the god who reigned over all the world’s waters, and dates to the 2nd or 3rd century AD. In 1592, the statue was moved to Piazza del Campidoglio and nowadays you can see it on the territory of the Capitoline Museums.

For centuries, Marforio was a”talking statue” and when the Palazzo Nuovo was built, the Marforio Fountain became a feature of the courtyard of the newest palace on the Capitoline Hill (1644). When this building was transformed into the Capitoline Museum (1733), the fountain and the architectural perspective were revised by architect Filippo Barigioni, and the statue was restored once again, this time by the Roman sculptor Carlo Antonio Napolioni.

Between September 2012 and February 2013, the ancient statue and the fountain were restored. This project was funded by Swarovski as part of its commitment to Art

The Role Of Color In Archaic Greek Marble Sculpture

Various raw materials used for ancient pigments in Greece , via geo.de

For about three centuries, from 1000 B.C. to the middle of the 7 th century B.C., a substantial aesthetic change took place in Greek art polychromy was abandoned almost universally. The correlation of the two opposite values (light-dark, white-black) dominated in combination with the limitation of iconography, as human scenes and the choice of plant motifs shrank. Art focused on simple geometric shapes and designs, which explains why it was called the “Geometric period ”. Also, the simple color alternation between white and black was this period’s color pattern.

Minerals used by ancient artists to make colorful paints , via M. C.Carlos Museum

However, at the beginning of the Archaic Period (7 th century B.C.), the dominant red color was added to the ancient color palette, marking the creation of ancient polychrom. Hematite and cinnabar were the minerals used for red pigments. Hematite is iron oxide in mineral form and often appears as a reddish-brown color known as natural red ochre . The name hematite is derived from the Greek word blood, which is descriptive of its color in powdered form. Cinnabar, the most common ore of oxidized mercury found in nature, occurs in granular crusts or veins associated with volcanic activity and hot springs. It was used as a precious resource by ancient painters . The word comes from the ancient Greek kinnabaris, later changed to cinnabar.

In the Archaic Period, all sculptures were painted regardless of their function. The sculptor initially created the three-dimensional form and then painted the sculpture. Historical sources tell us that a sculpture without colorful paint would be unthinkable for its creator in antiquity. The famous sculptor Phidias employed a personal painter for all his works. At the same time, Praxiteles had more appreciation for those works painted by the eminent artist and painter Nicias. Nevertheless, for the average ancient viewer, an unpainted statue would have been something incomprehensible and, quite possibly, unattractive.

T. M. Knox’s English translation of Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art includes a photograph of the statue ‘Silenus with the Infant Bacchus’. The translated text, first published in 1975, shows the Munich version of the statue which Knox surmises Hegel saw. With respect to Hegel’s dialectical trajectory, the statue, if indeed it can be credited as the work of Lysippus, should mark a moment of transition between two historical epochs. Therefore, situated between the Classical and the Romantic this statue may be read as a sculpture-in-transition. As an example it demonstrates the play of anachronism Hegel undertakes as part of his speculative reading process. What is carried over from a previous epoch or brought forward from the future is part of the process of Aufhebung.

This paper proposes to show instances in Hegel’s reading of sculpture where the very plasticity of the example disturbs the dialectical system of progression that he is seeking to uphold. The paper will draw upon the iterations of plasticity as articulated by the philosopher Catherine Malabou in The Future of Hegel and What Should We Do With our Brain to propose a new mode of sculptural thinking which registers both the reception and delivery of form in the brain. It will be argued that the statue example as a group composition of the plastic exchange between the past and the future brings about the transitional moment needed for the dissolution of the classical ideal. This is a mode of anachronic reading which disturbs Hegel's approach to the 'true objectivity' of necessary anachronism within his system.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Silenus

SILENUS, a primitive Phrygian deity of woods and springs. As the reputed inventor of music he was confounded with Marsyas. He also possessed the gift of prophecy, but, like Proteus, would only impart information on compulsion when surprised in a drunken sleep, he could be bound with chains of flowers, and forced to prophesy and sing (Virgil, Ecl. vi., where he gives an account of the creation of the world cf. Aelian, Var. hist. iii. 18). In Greek mythology he is the son of Hermes (or Pan) and a nymph. He is the constant companion of Dionysus, whom he was said to have instructed in the cultivation of the vine and the keeping of bees. He fought by his side in the war against the giants and was his companion in his travels and adventures. The story of Silenus was often the subject of Athenian satyric drama. Just as there were supposed to be several Pans and Fauns, so there were many Silenuses, whose father was called Papposilenus (“Daddy Silenus”), represented as completely covered with hair and more animal in appearance. The usual attributes of Silenus were the wine-skin (from which he is inseparable), a crown of ivy, the Bacchic thyrsus, the ass, and sometimes the panther. In art he generally appears as a little pot-bellied old man, with a snub nose and a bald head, riding on an ass and supported by satyrs or he is depicted lying asleep on his wine-skin, which he sometimes bestrides. A more dignified type is the Vatican statue of Silenus carrying the infant Dionysus, and the marble group from the villa Borghese in the Louvre.

See Preller-Robert, Griechische Mythologie (1894), pp. 729-735 Talfourd Ely, " A Cyprian Terracotta," in the Archaeological Journal (1896) A. Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, iii. (1888).

The Marsh Collection

In the spring of 1849, the newly founded Smithsonian Institution purchased its first collection, a group of European prints and art books assembled by Vermont Congressman George Perkins Marsh. The prints were praised as &ldquotranslations . . . of the best creations of genius in painting and sculpture,&rdquo and although unrelated to the Smithsonian&rsquos then primarily scientific orientation, they were viewed as a comprehensive way to satisfy the Congressional mandate for an art gallery that was part of the original legislation which established the Smithsonian Institution in 1846.

Acquisition of the Marsh Collection was decidedly premature. The Smithsonian Institution Building, now familiarly known as The Castle, was still under construction, and the collection did not have a proper home until the completion of the West Wing in 1850 when the prints and books were placed in the library. Librarian Charles Coffin Jewett regarded them as the best examples available because he was not optimistic about the prospects for acquiring paintings and sculpture of a comparable caliber. As Jewett explained in the 1850 Smithsonian Institution Annual Report, &ldquoEngraving seems to be the only branch of the fine arts, which we can, for the present, cultivate. One good picture or statue would cost more than a large collection of prints . . . It can hardly be doubted, that, in no way, could this Institution, for the present do so much for every department of the fine arts, without injury to other objects of its care, as by procuring a collection of engravings, so full and so well chosen as that which now adorns its Library.&rdquo

The Smithsonian demonstrated remarkable prescience in acquiring the Marsh Collection, but it also displayed a good deal of uncertainty about what to do with it. As it was the first public print collection in the nation, there was no established precedent to serve as a reference. The Smithsonian&rsquos developing scientific agenda did not easily accommodate the visual arts, so the collection was not exhibited but remained part of the library.

After a devastating fire in 1865 damaged parts of The Castle, Secretary Joseph Henry sent the Smithsonian&rsquos library, including the Marsh Collection, to the Library of Congress to form the Smithsonian Deposit. In 1874 Henry loaned several dozen remaining prints to the new Corcoran Gallery of Art. By the early 1880s the Smithsonian&rsquos second secretary, Spencer Fullerton Baird, realized the collection&rsquos potential for the expanded U. S. National Museum that was taking shape in what is now known as the Arts and Industries Building. Baird and his assistant secretary, George Brown Goode, began to recall the prints and books, and more than four hundred of Marsh&rsquos prints were retrieved during the 1880s and 1890s for use in exhibitions. Today some of the Marsh Collection remains at the Library of Congress, and staff members from both institutions are working cooperatively to identify and describe the contents of this remarkable collection.

National Museum of American History Graphic Arts Curator Helena E. Wright's 2015 book, The First Smithsonian Collection: the European Engravings of George Perkins Marsh and the Role of Prints in the U.S. National Museum, recounts the complex history of the Smithsonian&rsquos Marsh Collection. This website provides catalog information for Marsh&rsquos books and prints held at the Smithsonian. Additions will be posted to the site as the identification process proceeds.

A note about numbering: Although the Marsh Collection was acquired in 1849, it was not accessioned at the time. In 1978 a group of Marsh prints was accessioned, and we are now using that number for additional cataloging.

Top Ten

Among the 50,000 finds preserved in the historic museum, it is possible to select ten that testify to the most significant events in Ligurian history: from the great climatic changes of the Paleolithic age, to the origins of Genoa, the rise of Rome as Caput Mundi and the foundation of the first Roman cities in Liguria.

They come not only from archaeological digs, but also from private collections, among which Prince Odone of Savoy‘s (from the nineteenth-century) stands out, it also provides an insight into this period of cultured and refined collecting.

Watch the video: Silenus Reconstruction (May 2022).