Garner's Greek Mythology

EP 22: Satyrs and A Cyclopes

May 23, 2021 Patrick Garner Season 2 Episode 22
Garner's Greek Mythology
EP 22: Satyrs and A Cyclopes
Show Notes Transcript

... Welcome to Episode 22, SATYRS & A CYCLOPES 

You’ve probably heard of satyrs, but not thought beyond their strange appearance. They are the combination of 4 or 5 animals, including humans. The big difference between satyrs and humans, though, is in their approach toward life.  In this episode, satyrs collide with a one-eyed giant called a cyclopes--as well as encountering Greece's wily warrior, Odysseus. 

“Drink, dance & be merry” was the satyrs' motto. No wonder moralists like the ancient writer Hesiod considered them worthless. 

This episode is narrated by mythologist and best-selling author, Patrick Garner. His Garner's Greek Mythology is unlike any other Greek history series. Here the Greek gods are viewed as if they were anything but mythical...

If you love these podcasts, you'll also enjoy new stories about the gods in Garner's novel Homo Divinitas, now available as an audio book on Amazon.com and Audible.com.

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PODCAST #22 ... SATYRS & CYCLOPES 

THIS EPISODE IS ABOUT SATYRS & INCLUDES THEIR INTERACTION WITH BOTH A CYCLOPES & THE MIGHTY GREEK WARRIOR, ODYSSEUS ...

SATYRS ... THEY WERE STRANGE MALE BEINGS WHO ROAMED THE FORESTS & THE WILDLANDS OF ANCIENT GREECE.

LET ME DESCRIBE THEIR APPEARANCE. REMEMBER I JUST CALLED THEM STRANGE? THINK OF 4 OR 5 CREATURES ROLLED INTO ONE.

AT A GLANCE THEY WERE OBVIOUSLY MALE. BUT ONE VARIETY HAD THE LOWER BODY OF A GOAT OR A RAM, WHILE OTHERS HAD THE ABDOMEN & LEGS OF A MAN. ALL HAD A HORSE'S TAIL.

THEY HAD SNUB NOSES & HAIR AS LONG AS A HORSE'S MANE. ADD TO THAT THEIR WILD BEARDS, RECEDING HAIRLINES, PIG'S EARS & NUBBY HORNS — YOU GET THE IDEA.

BUT THEIR DEFINING & MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTERISTIC WAS BELOW THE WAIST. BECAUSE THEY WERE CONSTANTLY IN A STATE OF LUST, THEY WERE, ALL IN ALL, RIDICULOUS-LOOKING.

THIS IS EPISODE 22 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM  114 COUNTRIES & COUNTING. WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, PATRICK GARNER. 

YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT MY NOVELS and ABOUT THIS PODCAST AT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM. ALL OF MY BOOKS IMAGINE THE ANCIENT GODS LIVING IN MODERN TIMES.

AS ALWAYS, THIS PODCAST WILL FOCUS ON ONE THING ... GREEK GODS, OF COURSE.

HERE THE ANCIENT GODS ARE NOT CONSIDERED IMAGINARY. HARDLY. INSTEAD, THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE HERE, NOW ...

SATYRS WERE, IN SOME WAYS, THE MALE EQUIVALENT OF NYMPHS ... BUT IN REALITY THE SIMILARITIES WERE FEW.

BOTH LIVED IN FORESTS & DISTANT GLADES & RARELY BOTHERED WITH CLOTHES. BOTH ACCOMPANIED GODS & GODDESSES AS COMPANIONS.

SATRYS WERE FREQUENTLY FOUND IN THE COMPANY OF DIONYSOS, ARES, HERMES, HEPHAISTOS & PAN — WHO FOUND THEM AMUSING — & EVEN GAIA, WHO WITHHELD JUDGMENT OF THEIR BEHAVIOR.  

IT'S EASIEST TO SUM THEM UP AS NE-ER-DO-WELLS. 

THEY WERE REGULARS AT DIONYSOS' RAVES, ALONG WITH THE WANTON MAENADS, WOMEN WHO FOLLOWED THE WINE-GOD FROM RAVE TO RAVE.

NYMPHS, ON THE OTHER HAND, ACTED AS ENVIRONMENTAL GUARDIANS, & PERSONIFIED THE GENTLE ASPECTS OF NATURE. SATYRS WERE RUDE, FREQUENTLY DRUNK & ALWAYS READY TO PARTY DOWN.

SCHOLARS HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE SATYRS' ORIGIN. THE ANCIENT WRITER HOMER NEVER MENTIONS THEM. 

BUT HESIOD, HIS CONTEMPORARY, WRITING AROUND 800 BC, REFERS TO THEM REPEATEDLY, CALLING THEM "A RACE GOOD FOR NOTHING & UNFIT FOR WORK."

THE ROMAN WRITER VIRGIL NOTES THAT, LIKE ALL GODS DWELLING IN FORESTS & FIELDS, SATYRS WERE DREADED BY MORTALS.  NO GOOD CAME FROM ENCOUNTERING ONE.

I SAY 'ONE.' BUT THEY WERE ALWAYS FOUND IN BANDS. OR AS COMMONLY DESCRIBED BY THE ANCIENT GREEKS, IN RABBLES & PACKS.

WOMEN WERE PARTICULARLY AT RISK, AS ALL SATYRS ADORED THEM & WOULDN'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.  

THERE WERE AT LEAST FOUR DISTINCT TYPES OF SATYRS. SHEPARDS IDENTIFIED ONE TYPE AS PANS. THAT IS P-A-N-S.

THESE RUSTIC SPIRITS PROTECTED GOAT HERDS & FLOCKS OF SHEEP. THEY WERE DEPICTED AS HAVING MORE GOATISH FEATURES THAN THE SATYRS THAT HUNG OUT WITH DIONYSOS.

A SECOND TYPE WAS CALLED SILENS, OR SEILENOI. THESE WERE ELDERLY SATYRS. THE MOST FAMOUS WAS NAMED SILENUS, & WE'LL LOOK AT SOME OF HIS ADVENTURES SOON.

ANOTHER TYPE WAS CALLED SATRYRISKOI. THESE WERE CHILD SATYRS. THEY WERE DEPICTED AS ADORABLE YOUNG BOYS, LACKING BEARDS & MUSCLES.

A FINAL TYPE WAS THE TITYROI, OR FLUTE-PLAYING SATYRS. THEY PLAYED A DOUBLE-PIPE & WERE ALMOST ALWAYS SEEN IN THE COMPANY OF DIONYSOS.

SO IN CLASSICAL LITERATURE WE FIND OLD SATYRS, YOUNG SAYRS, SATYRS WHO PROTECTED SHEPARDS' FLOCKS ... & FLUTE-PLAYING SATYRS.

YET HOWEVER DEPICTED, ALL LOVED TO DANCE & DRINK & PLAY ... IT WAS, REALLY, THEIR SOLE PURPOSE IN LIFE. 

A MOMENT AGO I MENTIONED THE SATYR NAMED SILENUS. HE WAS A LEADER OF THEM ALL.

HE WAS KNOWN TO HAVE MANY QUALITIES, SOME GOOD & SOME NOT. THEY INCLUDED UNUSUAL WISDOM, AN ENDLESS DESIRE FOR DRINK & THE ABILITY TO PROPHESY.

HE WAS ONE OF DIONYSOS' CHILDHOOD TUTORS, ENTRUSTED BY HERMES TO HELP RAISE THE MOTHERLESS CHILD.

BECAUSE SILENUS WAS FAMOUS AS A PROPHET, HE WAS CAPTURED BY A LOCAL KING & TOLD TO SHARE HIS WISDOM.

TO THE KING'S SHOCK, SLY SILENUS SKIPPED PROPHESY ALTOGETHER & SAID THAT THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO A MORTAL WAS NOT TO BE BORN. 

AND THAT THE SECOND BEST THING FOR A MORTAL WAS TO DIE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 

NEEDLESS TO SAY, UPON HEARING THESE PRONOUNCEMENTS, THE KING RELEASED SILENUS BACK INTO THE WILD WITH A VAT OF WINE & A SHARP BLOW TO HIS HEAD ...

NOW BACK TO WHERE HE WANTED TO BE, SILENUS CONTINUED THE SATYR CYCLE OF CAROUSING, DEBAUCHERY & SLEEP THAT WOULD OVERCOME THE SATYRS ONE BY ONE.

AS YOU KNOW, THE GREEKS HAD MANY GODS & INCLUDED SILENUS IN THEIR PANTHEON. HE HAD A MAJOR TEMPLE IN ELIS. 

THERE, A STATUE OF THE GODDESS METHE, OR DRUNKENNESS, STOOD BY HIS SIDE, HANDING HIM A CUP OF WINE. WHY ELEVATE A SATYR & THE GODDESS OF DRUNKENNESS?

THE GREEKS CONSIDERED WINE TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS RECEIVED BY MANKIND, & ACKNOWLEDGED IT AS THE ONLY WAY TO WASH AWAY ONE'S SORROWS.

THE SATYRS TOOK THIS UNDERSTANDING TO A NEW LEVEL, DECLARING THAT THE BEST WAY TO LIVE WAS TO DANCE, DRINK & BE MERRY. 

... I'LL NOTE THAT SATYRS APPEAR IN MY SECOND BOOK, CYCLADIC GIRLS.

THERE THEY ACT AS SIDEKICKS TO ARES, THE WAR GOD. THEY FACE OFF WITH ARTEMIS & TIMESSA IN A GRAND FINALE IN A SMALL TOWN IN FRANCE.

CYCLADIC GIRLS, LIKE ALL MY BOOKS, IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

BUT BEFORE WE WRITE SATYRS OFF AS MERE PLAYBOYS, LET'S STICK WITH SILENUS. HE SEEMS TO HAVE HAD AN UNCANNY ABILITY TO ASSOCIATE WITH BOTH GODS & FAMOUS MORTALS.

ASIDE FROM HIS ASSOCIATION WITH DIONYSOS, HE HAD A MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER WITH THE GREEK WARRIOR, ODYSSEUS

IN A PREVIOUS EPISODE, WE FOLLOWED ODYSSEUS AFTER HIS SHIP LEFT TROY FOR HOME. HE WAS THWARTED BY ONE GOD AFTER ANOTHER.

HIS 10-YEAR JOURNEY INCLUDED LANDING ON THE SHORES OF MOUNT AETNA IN SICILY. THERE HE & HIS STARVING MEN ENCOUNTERED OLD SILENUS, WHO HIMSELF, WITH HIS MANY SATYRS, HAD BEEN BLOWN ONTO THE SAME SHORES.

SILENUS HAD BEEN IN PURSUIT OF DIONYSOS, WHO WAS RUMORED TO HAVE BEEN CAPTURED BY PIRATES & HELD FOR RANSOM. 

HE HAD VOWED TO SAVE THE WINE-GOD, BUT FOUND HIMSELF FACING AN ACTIVE VOLCANO & WORSE, A MIGHTY ONE-EYED GIANT KNOWN AS A CYCLOPES.

THE CYCLOPES WERE A RACE OF UNUSUAL BEINGS, ALL WITH A SINGLE MASSIVE EYE IN THE CENTER OF THEIR FOREHEAD. ALL WERE ANTISOCIAL & LIVED AT GREAT DISTANCES FROM EACH OTHER.

TO SILENUS' DELIGHT, THIS ONE-EYED GIANT LOVED TO DRINK. THE MORE WINE THE BETTER. AND HE, LIKE THE SATYRS, HAD A LIFELONG PATTERN OF DRINKING, EATING & SLEEPING.

UNLIKE THE SATYRS HE LOVED TO EAT MEN WHO WANDERED ONTO HIS BEACHES. LUCKILY FOR SILENUS & THE REST OF THE SATYRS, THEIR FLESH WAS CONSIDERED DISGUSTING.

RATHER THAN EAT THEM, HE TURNED THEM INTO SLAVES. SO INSTEAD OF RESCUING DIONYSOS —WHO HAD RESCUED HIMSELF QUITE EASILY WITHOUT THEIR HELP — THE SATYRS BECAME SERVANTS TO THE CYCLOPES.

THAT'S A ROUNDABOUT WAY OF GETTING TO THE REST OF THE STORY ... WHERE THE CYCLOPES & SATYRS MEET ODYSSEUS.

THE ANCIENT GREEK PLAYWRIGHT EURIPIDES GIVES US THIS STORY. THE PLAY WAS FIRST PERFORMED ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO.

ONE DAY A BOAT WASHED ONTO AETNA'S SHORES. IT WAS IN FACT ODYSSEUS' ONCE-MIGHTY WARSHIP ... 

STARVED & THIRSTY, HE & HIS CREW HAD NO IDEA WHERE THEY'D LANDED. 

TO THEIR SURPRISE AS THEY STRAGGLED UP FROM THE BEACH, THEY CAME FACE TO FACE WITH AN OLD SATYR WHO STOOD, ARMS CROSSED.

SILENUS CHALLENGED ODYSSEUS, SAYING, "I GREET YOU STRANGER. TELL ME YOUR NAME & NATION, FOR WE RARELY SEE MEN IN THESE PARTS."

ODYSSEUS REPLIED, "I AM THE KING OF ITHACA. MY NAME IS ODYSSEUS. CAN YOU SHOW US TO A STREAM? OUR THIRST IS KILLING US."

SILENUS SHOOK HIS HEAD, SAYING, "OF COURSE. BUT WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE?"

ODYSSEUS SAID, "AN ILL WIND. WE WERE FORCED ASHORE.” THEN HE LOOKED AROUND & REMARKED, "WHERE ARE THE HOUSES & FORTRESSES & MEN?"

THE SATYR SAID QUIETLY, "THIS IS NOT A PLACE OF MEN."

GREECE'S FAMOUS WARRIOR THEN SAID, "THEN WHAT? A PLACE OF WILD ANIMALS?"

"NO," SAID THE SATYR. "YOU HAVE COME TO WHERE A CYCLOPES LIVES. HE INHABITS A CAVE, NOT A HOUSE."

ODYSSEUS ASKED, "DOES THIS CYCLOPES LOVE GODS & WELCOME STRANGERS?"

SILENUS REPLIED, "STRANGERS ARE HIS FAVORITE APPETIZER."

PAUSING, ODYSSEUS SAID, "SURELY YOU AREN'T SAYING HE EATS STRANGERS?"

THE OLD SATYR SAID, "HE HAS EATEN EVERY STRANGER WHO'S SET FOOT HERE SINCE WE ARRIVED."

SUDDENLY, THE CYCLOPES APPROACHED, SHAKING THE GROUND WITH EACH STEP. 

SEEING THE OLD SATYR TALKING TO MEN ON THE BEACH, HE BELLOWED, "WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE NEAR MY CAVE?"

SILENUS WHIMPERED, "THESE MEN BEAT ME UP WHEN I TRIED TO STOP THEM FROM ROBBING YOU BLIND!"

"WHAT?!" THE ONE-EYED GIANT SCREAMED. "BUT DON'T THEY KNOW I'M A GOD? HOW DARE THEY?"

THE SATYR SAID, "I TOLD THEM, BUT THAT DIDN'T STOP THEM FROM PLUNDERING ALL THEY COULD FIND."

HE WENT ON, "I WRESTLED WITH THEM, BUT THERE ARE TOO MANY. I WARNED THEM ABOUT YOU, BUT THEY SAID THEY'D TIE YOU UP LIKE A DOG, THEN WHIP YOU TILL YOU CRIED."

THE CYCLOPES STRUCK HIMSELF ON HIS FOREHEAD AS IF THAT WAS THE FUNNIEST THING HE'D HEARD. "DID THEY?" HE LAUGHED.

THEN HE DEMANDED, "SHARPEN MY CARVING KNIVES. GET A BLAZE GOING ON THE HEARTH. I’LL HAVE MY FILL OF THEM ALL!”

THE GIANT HERDED ODYSSEUS & HIS MEN INTO HIS CAVE & WASTED NO TIME IN CARVING UP TWO OF THEM. BUT ODYSSEUS WAS NOTHING IF NOT WILY. 

AS IF THEY WERE BEST FRIENDS, ODYSSEUS KEPT FILLING THE GIANT'S WINE CUP.  SOON HE WAS DRUNK, & THEN, LIKE A DRUNKEN SATYR, HE FELL INTO A DEEP SLEEP.

INSTANTLY, ODYSSEUS PULLED A LONG LOG OUT OF THE FIRE AND SHARPENED ITS END. THEN HE PUSHED IT BACK INTO THE FLAMES UNTIL THE TIP SMOKED & BURNED BRIGHT.

LIFTING IT TO HIS SHOULDER, HE DROVE THE LOG INTO THE CYCLOPES' EYE. SCREAMING, THE GIANT ROSE & STUMBLED AROUND IN A BLIND FURY. 

ODYSSEUS & HIS MEN FLED THE CAVE, GRABBING WATER & FOOD ON THEIR WAY BACK TO THE SHIP.

OLD SILENUS WATCHED IT ALL, SMILING TO HIMSELF. HE KNEW THAT THE BLIND CYCLOPES WOULD NEVER KNOW WHEN AN OLD SATYR DECIDED TO STOP HIS WORK TO STEAL A CUP OF WINE ...

JOIN ME ... FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER ...

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