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SILENI [eye-lee'neye], or SILENOI (sing.: silenus, silenos),  a race of half-horse, half-humans, unlike the satyrs, who were half-goat. Sileni are sometimes identified as older satyrs more interested in wine than chasing nymphs.

Silenus and his ass
  Comparative mythographer Joseph Campbell identifies certain repeating characters (archetypes) of the hero myth in his classic book Hero with a Thousand Faces. Silenus is the easiest to identify as the wise old man  the others, young hero, the shape-shifting woman, and the shadowy nemesis, also play central parts in the story of Dionysus.
Midas and Silenus
Silenus and King Midas are often a mythological pair in these early Bacchic stories. Silenus is the talker and Midas the listener
Silenus also talked of the Meropes, owners of many cities, saying that on the edge of their land there is a place named Point of No Return, this being a chasm which is neither dark nor light but is covered by a red haze. In this place, Silenus continued, there are two rivers, one named Pleasure and the other Grief with trees along the banks of both that bear fruit of different qualities. Those that grow along the river of Grief cause anyone who eats them to shed so many tears that he melts into laments for the rest of his life until he dies. But he who tastes from the trees growing by the river Pleasure loses all his desires, forgetting even his previous love, if he had one. Then he is slowly rejuvenated, going through the stages of life in reverse order and dying after becoming an infant.

Silenuz, Dionysos riding a panther, a maenad, and a satyr boy, moving
Collection:Paris, Museum du Louvre Date: ca 370 - 360 BC

Silenus , the teacher and faithful companion of the wine-god Dionysus. A notorious consumer of wine, he was usually drunk and had to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey. When the Phrygian King Midas took the drunk Silenus in his house, Dionysus handsomely rewarded Midas for his hospitality. Silenus was thought to have much wisdom and be able to reveal important secrets to mortals if captured and questioned. He is considered a  satyr but associated with the stature of older men in the ritual and mentoring necessary for initiation.

The Sileni were followers of Dionysus. They were drunks, bald and fat with thick lips and squat noses, and the ears and tail of a horse. They are also very hairy. Satyrs and Siléni are always looking for nymphs although the nymphs tease them and manage to outsmart them making the Satyrs and Sileni quite the fools. The Sileni is not nearly as nymph crazy as the Satyr is, he is more interested in drinking wine and getting drunk

Zeus saves baby Dionysus from Hera
But the goddess was not deceived, and in her rage she drove the aunt and uncle mad.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Zeus acted quickly. He ordered Hermes, the divine messenger, to transform

 Dionysus temporarily into a young goat and bring him to the beautiful Mount Nysa. There he would be raised secretly by nymphs, the joyous female spirits of the forests and mountains.
 The nymphs loved their young charge. They housed him in a cave and fed him on honey. Dionysus spent his childhood gamboling freely over the mountainside, surrounded by the glories of nature and learning the sensuous pleasures of the earth. His teachers were many and varied: The Muses inspired him with poetry and music. The satyrs, half-man, The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.half-goat, taught him the wonders of dance and exuberant sexuality. The sileni, part-horse, part-man, spirits of the springs and rivers, taught him wisdom. Silenus, the intoxicated old man who was Dionysus's predecessor, taught the young god virtue.

Dionysus passed the years happily, learning many things. Like the grapevine, which can only grow in the sun's intense heat and the moisture of the spring rain, Dionysus had been born of fire and nourished by the rains of the mountain. He understood the power of the vine perfectly, and marked his passage from childhood to young
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. godhood by inventing the art of  winemaking (some say he learned it from Silenus), which would bring humanity so much potential joy and desperation.

At last Dionysus stood revealed as a god. This was just what the ever-vengeful Hera had been waiting for. Recognizing Dionysus at last, she cursed him with madness.

[Ecstasy: Understanding the Psychology of Joy by R.A. Johnson

Maenads in a frenzy!

Silenus presiding over a gathering of Maenads and baby Bacchus. Learn more about the orgiastic rites of the  Maenads
Collection: Malibu, The J. Paul Getty Museum Painter: Attributed to the Lentini GroupDate: ca 350 - 325 BC
Period: Late Classical / Early Hellenistic
WordS Can Be Music
"Are you not a piper? Why, yes, and a far more marvellous one than the satyr. His lips indeed had power to entrance mankind by means of instruments; a thing still possible today for anyone who can pipe his tunes: for the music of Olympus' flute belonged, I may tell you, to Marsyas his teacher. So that if anyone, whether a fine flute-player or paltry flute-girl, can but flute his tunes, they have no equal for exciting a ravishment, and will indicate by the divinity that is in them who are apt recipients of the deities and their sanctifications. You differ from him in one point only—that you produce the same effect with simple prose unaided by instruments." [Alcibiades to Socrates. Plato, Symposium 215c]
Silenus Drunk!

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