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Bronze Figure of Silenus Riding a Wine-Skin [Object of the Day #16]

July 6, 2012

Selenus Riding a Wine Skin
Silenus Riding a Wine-Skin

This bronze figure of Silenus riding a wine-skin is a reproduction from Penn Museum’s Wanamaker Bronze Collection. This collection includes reproductions of the bronzes found at Pompeii and Herculaneum from the National Museum of Naples. The original was made in Naples before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Originally, the sileni (plural) were the drunken leaders of the satyrs and attendants of Dionysus (the Greek God of Wine) or Bacchus (Roman God of Wine). They soon came to be depicted as the singular Silenus–a rotund older man with a snub nose. Silenus is said to possess the powers of prophecy especially when drunk, but he does not reveal his sage advice to just anyone without being tricked.

Penn Museum Object #MS3688.

View this object and more like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collections Database.