Bust of Silenus



Bust of an old Silenus, depicted in a state of drunkness, his tongue lolling inside his open mouth, a detail not often shown in classical sculpture and giving the head a naturalism. The restorer followed the ancient sculptor when restoring the beard attached to the chest: the head is shown falling forward and it is possible that the body of the Silenus is lying down or reclining and he is therefore represented as having fallen asleep from drunkness. His body would be short and flabby with a bulging pouch and possibly covered in fur. While the beard and the moustache are thic and heavy, the head seems to be adorned by the ivy wreath and the two front bunches of berries emerging from the wreath. His eyes are small and beady and they are under a thick brow. Together with his hairiness the thick brow may be a reminder of Silenus's masculine vigour. The restored ears represent him more as a human than a beast but the original ears were broken and we therefore do not know how he was originally depicted. Silenus or Bacchus would be used either in the interior of Roman villas in Roman dinning tables to underline the effect of excessive wine consumptions or in the exterior of villas, emphasising the wild nature of the creature. Copy of an original of about the early second century BC.