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Case 9: Satyrs


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Young satyr or Pan playing the flute

It is difficult to decide who this young musician is. Round his head he wears an unusual wreath, made of pine branches. He has the tail and pointed ears of a satyr, one of the part-human, part-horse followers of the wine-god Dionysos. But he also has the small goat’s horns of Pan, who is more usually shown with the shaggy legs of a goat and whose preferred instrument is the ‘Pan pipes’. Figures of Pan or satyrs were popular in many sizes and different materials in the Roman period, perhaps because of their association with the countryside and nature.

Most Greek and Roman marble statues were originally painted and sometimes gilded. However, the colour has generally been lost over time or through cleaning. This figure is unusual in preserving traces of gilding on the hair, wreath and flute. There are also remains of a dark, resinous coating on the rock and over the gilding on the hair and garland. This also appears to be original, but could be an embellishment added during the sculpture’s long modern history. The enlarged detail image is of the area above the figure's left ear and shows patches of the gilding and dark resinous coating.

Date: around AD 1–100 
Marble
Given by Disney, John, Dr

Object Number: GR.2.1850

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69422