Minor Divinities (page 138, with art)

Chapter 3: Olympos, the Underworld, and Minor Divinities

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Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 63.952: Attic black-figure amphora with Dionysos and Silenoi making wine

Museum of Fine Ats

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Basel, Antikenmuseum and Ludwig Collection Kä 420: Attic black-figure amphora by Amasis Painter with Dionysos and Silenoi making wine


D. von Bothmer, The Amasis Painter and his World (1985), 47 fig. 40a

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Berlin, Antikensammlung 3151: Attic black-figure cup signed by Ergotimos as potter, with capture of Silenos (named)

E. Gerhard, Auserlesene Griechische Vasenbilder, hauptsächlich Etruskischen Fundorts (Band 3, 1847), detail of pl. 238

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Herodotos, Historiae 8.138

So the brothers came to another part of Macedonia and settled near the place called the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance. In this garden, according to the Macedonian story, Silenus was taken captive.  Greek Text

Xenophon, Anabasis 1.2.13

Thence he [Cyrus] marched two stages, ten parasangs, to the inhabited city of Thymbrium. There, alongside the road, was the so-called spring of Midas, the king of the Phrygians, at which Midas, according to the story, caught the satyr by mixing wine with the water of the spring.  Greek Text

Rome, Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia 57231: Laconian black-figure cup with  capture of Silenos 

M. Pallottino, “Ceramiche arcaiche del Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia,” Bollettino d’Arte 1937-38, 155 fig. 6


Berlin, Antikensammlung WS 4: Laconian cup fragment with capture of  Silenos


Eleusis, Archaeological Museum 1231: Attic black-figure lebes with  Silenos captured, Hermes and Midas

Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 22 (1897), pl. 13

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 49.11.1:  Attic black-figure pelike by the Acheloos Painter with capture of Silenos


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

London, British Museum 1910,0212.1: Attic black-figure white-ground lekythos by Sappho Painter, with capture of Silenos by Skythian at fountain house, and seated Midas with scepter (shown twice?)

British Museum

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Basel, Herbert Cahn Collection HC191: Attic red-figure column krater fragments with capture of Silenos by Skythians at fountain house


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Theopompos 115F75a, b –– Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, pt. 2, Sect. B, p. 550-51, ed. F. Jacoby. 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Theopompos 115F75c –– Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, pt. 2, Sect. B, p. 551-52, ed. F. Jacoby. 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.48.114

There is also a story told of Silenus, who, when taken prisoner by Midas, is said to have made him this present for his ransom; namely, that he informed him ** that never to have been born, was by far the greatest blessing that could happen to man; and that the next best thing was, to die very soon.  Latin Text

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.89-105

His usual throng of Satyrs and of Bacchanals
surrounded him; but not Silenus, who
was then detained from him. The Phrygian folk
had captured him, as he was staggering, faint
with palsied age and wine. And after they
bound him in garlands, they led him to their king
Midas, to whom with the Cecropian
Eumolpus, Thracian Orpheus had shown all
the Bacchic rites. When Midas recognized
his old time friend Silenus, who had been
so often his companion in the rites
of Bacchus, he kept joyful festival,
with his old comrade, twice five days and nights.

Upon the eleventh day, when Lucifer
had dimmed the lofty multitude of stars,
King Midas and Silenus went from there
joyful together to the Lydian lands.
There Midas put Silenus carefully
under the care of his loved foster-child,
young Bacchus. He with great delight, because
he had his foster-father once again,
allowed the king to choose his own reward—
a welcome offer, but it led to harm.
And Midas made this ill-advised reply:
“Cause whatsoever I shall touch to change
at once to yellow gold.” Bacchus agreed
to his unfortunate request, with grief
that Midas chose for harm and not for good.  Latin Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 191

At the time when Father Liber was leading his army into India, Silenus wandered away; Midas entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to conduct him to Liber’s company. Because of this favour, Father Liber gave Midas the privilege of asking him for whatever he wanted. Midas asked that whatever he touched should become gold. When he had been granted the wish, and came to his palace, whatever he touched became gold. When now he was being tortured with hunger, he begged Liber to take away the splendid gift. Liber bade him bathe in the River Pactolus, and when his body touched the water it became a golden colour. The river in Lydia is now called Chrysorrhoas.  Latin Text

Pindar fr 156 SM – Pindarus 2, p. 119, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1975.

Mighty dancing Silenos, husband of Nais, who was reared by the mountain of Maleas  (Transl. E. Bianchelli)

Herodotos, Historiae 7.26

The skin of Marsyas the Silenus also hangs there; the Phrygian story tells that it was flayed off him and hung up by Apollo.  Greek Text

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#Dionysos, #Midas, #Silenoi, #Silenos, #Skythian

Artistic sources edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., and Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, December 2017.

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2021


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