Silenus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（Σειληνός), or SEILE'NUS. It is remarked in the article
Satyrus, that the older Satyrs were generally termed Sileni
(comp. Schol. ad Nicand. Alex. 31), but one of these Sileni
is commonly the Silenus, who always acts a prominent part in
the retinue of Dionysus, from whom he is inseparable, and
whom he is said to have brought up and instructed. (Diod.
4.14; Orph. Hymn. 53. 1.) Like the other Satyrs he is called
a son of Hermes (Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. 6.13), but others
call him a son of Pan by a nymph, or of Gaea (Nonn. Dionys.
14.97, 29.262; Aelian, Ael. VH 3.18; comp. Porphyr. Vit.
Pythag. 16 ; Clemens, Cohort. ad Gent. p. 24.) Being the
constant companion of Dionysus, he is, like the god, said to
have been born at Nysa (Catull. 64, 253), and Diodorus
(3.72) even represents him as king of Nysa ; he moreover
took part in the contest with the Gigantes, and slew
Enceladus, putting the others to flight by the braying of
his ass. (Eurip. Cycl.) He is described as a jovial old man,
with a bald head, a puck nose, fat and round like his wine
bag, which he always carried with him, and generally as
intoxicated. As therefore he cannot trust to his own legs,
he is generally riding on an ass (Ov. Fast. 1.399, 3.749),
or he is supported by other Satyrs and Satyrisci. (Verg.
Ecl. 6.13 ; Lucian, Deor. Cone. 4.) In every other respect
he is described as resembling his brethren in the fondness
for sleep, wine and music. He is mentioned along with
Marsyas and Olympus as the inventor of the flute which he is
often seen playing (Strab. x. p.470), and a special kind of
dance was called after him Silenus, while he himself is
designated as the dancer. (Anacr. 38. 11; Paus. 3.25.2;
Lucian, Icarom. 27.) But it is a peculiar feature in his
character that he was conceived also as an inspired prophet,
who knew all the past and the most distant future (Aelian,
Ael. VH 3.18; Virg. Eclog. vi, 31, &c.), and as a sage who
despised all the gifts of fortune (Cic. Tuscul. 1.48); so
that he becomes the representative of that wisdom which
conceals itself behind a rough and uncouth external
appearance, whence he is likened to Socrates. (Plat. Sympos.
32 ; Xenoph. Sympos. 5 § 7.) When he was drunk and asleep,
he was in the power of mortals who might compel him to
prophesy and sing by surrounding him with chains of flowers.
(Aelian, Ael. VH 3.18; Philostr. Imay. 1.22, Vit. Apoll.
6.27; Ov. Met. 11.91.) Silenus had a temple at Elis, where
Methe (Drunkenness) stood by his side handing him a cup of
wine. (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. p. 164, &c.; C. O. Muller,
Ancient Art and its Remains, § 386.) - A Dictionary of Greek
and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.