AskDefine | Define satyr

Dictionary Definition



1 man with strong sexual desires [syn: lecher, lech, letch]
2 one of a class of woodland deities; attendant on Bacchus; identified with Roman fauns [syn: forest god]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Σάτυρος (Sátyros)



  1. A woodland creature with pointed ears, legs, and short horns of a goat and a fondness for unrestrained revelry
  2. A lecherous man
  3. Any of various butterflies of the family Satyridae, having brown wings marked with eyelike spots.



Extensive Definition

Attic painted vases depict mature satyrs as being strongly built with flat noses, large pointed ears, long curly hair, and full beards, with wreaths of vine or ivy circling their balding heads. Satyrs often carry the thyrsus: the rod of Dionysus tipped with a pine cone.
Satyrs acquired their goat-like aspect through later Roman conflation with Faunus, a carefree Italic nature spirit of similar temperament. Hence satyrs are most commonly described in Latin literature as having the upper half of a man and the lower half of a goat, with a goat's tail in place of the Greek tradition of horse-tailed satyrs. Mature satyrs are often depicted in Roman art with goat's horns, while juveniles are often shown with bony nubs on their foreheads.
Satyrs are described as roguish but faint-hearted folk — subversive and dangerous, yet shy and cowardly. As Dionysiac creatures they are lovers of wine, women and boys, and are ready for every physical pleasure. They roam to the music of pipes (auloi), cymbals, castanets, and bagpipes, and love to dance with the nymphs (with whom they are obsessed, and whom they often pursue), and have a special form of dance called sikinnis. Because of their love of wine, they are often represented holding winecups, and appear often in the decorations on winecups.
Some satyrs are depicted as old. On painted vases and other Greek art, satyrs are represented in the three stages of a man's life: mature satyrs are bearded, and are shown as fat and balding, both a humiliating and unbecoming disfigurement in Greek culture.

In Greek mythology and art

Roman satyrs were conflated in the popular and poetic imagination with Latin spirits of woodland and with the rustic spirit Pan, called the Panes.
Roman satyrs were described as goatlike from the haunches to the hooves, and were often pictured with larger horns, even ram's horns. Roman poets often conflated them with the fauns.
Roman satire is a literary form, a poetic essay that was a vehicle for biting, subversive social and personal criticism. Though Roman satire is sometimes linked to the Greek satyr plays, satire's only connection to the satyric drama is through the subversive nature of the satyrs themselves, as forces in opposition to urbanity, decorum, and civilization itself.

Other references

In the King James Version of the Bible, Isaiah 13:21 and 34:14, the English word "satyr" is used to represent the Hebrew sh'lrlm, "hairy ones". In Hebrew folklore, sh'lrlm are a type of demon or supernatural being which inhabits waste places. There is an allusion to the practice of sacrificing to the sh'lrlm (often translated as "devils") in Leviticus 17:7. They correspond to the "shaggy demon of the mountain-pass" (azabb al-akaba) of old Arab legend.

Baby satyr

  • Satyr is also the title of an award winning adult film starring Jenna Jameson.
  • Satyr is one of many species of mutated creatures found on Earth in Roger Zelazny's 1966 Hugo award winning novel This Immortal.
  • In Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Shepherdess and the Sweep" (1845), a bearded and horned satyr carved into the mahogany door of a curio cabinet is known as "Major-general-field-sergeant-commander Billy goat's legs" and threatens a porcelain shepherdess on a nearby table top with taking her for his wife. The shepherdess shudders in horror and flees the house with her lover, a porcelain chimney sweep with a princely face "as fair and rosy as a girl's".
  • The Christian antagonist, Satan, is often depicted as a satyr, the link being pagan religions and the 'sinful' pleasures that satyrs enjoy.
  • In the video game God of War, the satyr is an enemy found towards the end of the game. They are depicted as extremely skilled fighters and are some of the toughest enemies found.
  • In Brian Keene's Dark Hollow (previously published as The Rutting Season) a satyr is living near a small town and originally thought to be a serial killer.

See also


  • Harry Thurston Peck Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, 1898: "Faunus", "Pan", and "Silenus".
satyr in Bosnian: Satiri
satyr in Breton: Satir
satyr in Catalan: Sàtir
satyr in Czech: Satyr
satyr in Danish: Satyr (græsk mytologi)
satyr in German: Satyr
satyr in Estonian: Saatürid
satyr in Modern Greek (1453-): Σάτυροι
satyr in Spanish: Sátiro
satyr in Esperanto: Satiruso
satyr in French: Satyre
satyr in Galician: Sátiro
satyr in Croatian: Satiri
satyr in Indonesian: Satyr
satyr in Icelandic: Satýr
satyr in Italian: Satiro (mitologia)
satyr in Hebrew: סאטיר
satyr in Latin: Satyrus
satyr in Lithuanian: Satyras
satyr in Dutch: Satyr
satyr in Japanese: サテュロス
satyr in Norwegian: Satyr
satyr in Norwegian Nynorsk: Satyr
satyr in Polish: Satyr
satyr in Portuguese: Sátiro
satyr in Romanian: Satir
satyr in Russian: Сатиры
satyr in Sicilian: Sàtiru (mituluggìa)
satyr in Serbian: Сатири
satyr in Serbo-Croatian: Satiri
satyr in Finnish: Satyyrit
satyr in Swedish: Satyrer
satyr in Thai: ซาไทร์
satyr in Turkish: Satir
satyr in Ukrainian: Сатири
satyr in Chinese: 薩堤爾

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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