The Ecstatic One; The Stamping Foot Dancer

Also known as:

Silenos; Seilenos



Silenus is unusual for a Silen or centaur. He is a wise, learned prophet although usually found in some advanced state of intoxication. (Allegedly the drunker he is, the more accurate his oracles.) Silenus travels the world with Dionysus, his constant companion. Silenus is the younger spirit’s tutor and friend, sometimes described as his foster father. Silenus came from Phrygia and may possibly have been Dionysus’ actual father before Dionysus’ arrival in Greece and his incorporation into the Olympian pantheon as Zeus’ son. Silenus is also sometimes described as the father of Apollo. He is believed originally to have been a water spirit associated with sacred springs. (As Zemele, Dionysus’ Phrygian mother, is an Earth goddess, this would make Dionysus the child of Earth and water.)

Silenus is usually venerated together with Dionysus, but he was also independently venerated. He was venerated in Israel and Phoenicia where he was considered a native Semitic spirit. (There is allegedly a grave-shrine dedicated to Silenus somewhere in what is now Israel.)


A drunk bearded man, centaur, or silen; he may or may not have shed his clothing.


A large wine skin slung over his shoulder (Some see the roots of Santa Claus in bearded Silenus with his gift bag.)


Silenus rides a donkey.

Feast: In ancient Rome, Silenus was honored at the Liberalia on 17 March together with Bacchus (Dionysus).

Sacred sites:

The inhabitants of Pyrrhichos on the southern coast of Laconia considered him their founder, building their town and bestowing their freshwater spring. Pyrrhichos was associated with ecstatic dances and trance rituals


WINE! In Rome, a fritelle made of flour, cheese, eggs, sliced apples, and grated lemon rind was traditionally offered to Silenus and Bacchus.

See Also:

Apollo; Chiron; Dionysus; Liber; Olympian Spirits; Zemele; Zeus and the Glossary entry for Pantheon


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.