Silvanus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
a Latin divinity of the fields and forests, to whom in the
very earliest times the Tyrrhenian Pelasgians are said to
have dedicated a grove and a festival (Verg. A. 8.600). He
is described as a god watching over the fields and
husbandmen, and is also called the protector of the
boundaries of fields (Horat. Epod. 2.22). Hyginus (De Limit.
Const. Praef.) tells us that Silvanus was the first to set
up stones to mark the limits of fields, and that every
estate had three Silvani, a Silvanus domesticus (in
inscriptions called Silvanus Larum and Silvanus sanctus
sacer Larum), Silvanus agrestis (also called salutaris), who
was worshipped by shepherds and Silvanus orientalis ; that
is, the god presiding over the point at which an estate
begins. Hence Silvani are often spoken of in the plural. In
connection with woods (sylvestris deus), he especially
presided over plantations, and delighted in trees growing
wild (Tib. 2.5. 30; Lucan, Phars. 3.402; Plin. Nat. 12.2;
Ov. Met. 1.193); whence he is represented as carrying the
trunk of a cypress (δενδροφόρος, Verg. G. 1.20). Respecting
the cypress, however, the following story is told. Silvanus,
or according to others, Apollo (Serv. ad Aen. 3.680; Ov.
Met. 10.106, &c.), was in love with the youth Cyparissus,
and once by accident killed a hind belonging to Cyparissus.
The latter died of grief, and was metamorphosed into a
cypress (Serv. ad Virg. Georg. 1.20, Eclog. 10.26, Aen.
3.680). He is further described as the divinity protecting
the flocks of cattle, warding off wolves, and promoting
their fertility (Verg. A. 8.601; Tib. 1.5. 27; Cato, De Re
Rust. 83; Nonn. 2.324). Being the god of woods and flocks,
he is also described as fond of music; the syrinx was sacred
to him (Tib. 2.5. 30), and he is mentioned along with the
Pans and Nymphs (Verg. G. 1.21; Lucan, l.c.). Later
speculators even identified Silvanus with Pan, Faunus, Inuus
and Aegipan (Plut. Parall. Min. 22). Cato (l.c.) calls him
Mars Silvanus, from which it is clear that he must have been
connected with the Italian Mars, and it is further stated
that his connection with agriculture referred only to the
labour performed by men, and that females were excluded from
his worship (Schol. ad Juven. 6.446). In the Latin poets, as
well as in works of art, he always appears as an old man,
but as cheerful and in love with Pomona (Verg. G. 2.494;
Horat. Epod. 2.21, Carm. 3.8; Ov. Met. 14.639). The
sacrifices offered to him consisted of grapes, corn-ears,
milk, meat, wine and pigs. (Horat. Epod. 2.22, Epist. 2.1.
143; Tib. 1.5. 27 ; Juv. 6.446; comp. Voss. Mythol. Briefe,
2.68; Hartung, Die Relig. der Röm. vol. ii. p. 170, &c.) - A
Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
William Smith, Ed.