My spirit animal is and always will be Bilbo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. He loves comfort, he’s irritable, and he would rather tell people to go away than actually spend time with them.
Though, sometimes when I am reminded of the existence of fanciful goat men (like when I’m watching an interpretation of Heracles, or when I’m wearing hairy, cloven-hooved pajamas and standing in front of a mirror), I think…maybe my spirit animal is actually a satyr.
Yes, those pan-flute playing, wine-drinking, pot-bellied monsters of lore that dance and prance to seraphim music in a grove in a great big circle.
Today, we are going to examine the characteristics of satyrs to understand a little bit about our goat friends of lore, which can definitely help us understand a bit more about Greek Mythology and a bit more about the woes of a carefree attitude.
Satyrs have a close relationship with the god of wine, Dionysus, as they played him music and entertained him with their general carousal; but their appearance is really what matters, as it is often their most striking feature in visual depictions—regardless of their unrestrained behavior.
“In early Greek art, Satyrs are part-man and part-horse or donkey. They have heads full of thick curls, beards that fall down to their chests, and nubby horns peeking out of their curly locks. Their noses are short and round while their ears are long and pointed. A horse or donkey tail sprouts from their lower back and sweeps down to the ground” (Mythology).
In other words, satyrs are half-man, half-goats who are a wee bit portly around the midsection and spend most of their time playing music, eating food, and drinking wine. They are both mystifying and alluring in appearance. Truly, what is more awesome than seeing a minotaur with its horned head and rippling muscles? Well, a sardonic goat person of course.
What do they symbolize?
Many beings in Greek mythology are symbolic representations of something (love, earth, night, air, etc.) or are the personified version of some element that needs explaining. For instance, while Zeus is the king of the gods, he is also the symbol of lightning, thunder, storms, and power. Satyrs aren’t much different, but some creatures are more…symbolically diminutive in nature.
Most interpretations have Satyrs embodying the righteous party dude, replete with cups of wine and desire for sexual pleasure (or any pleasure for that matter). They are hedonism personified.
As Pantheon states of Satyric appetites, “… (they desire) every kind of sensual pleasure, whence they are seen sleeping, playing musical instruments or engaged in voluptuous dances with nymphs” (Mythica).
In a modern sense, we can view them as avarice, greed, sloth, envy…you name it. They are the wanton, animalistic side of mankind, while also embodying the fanciful, whimsical expression of humanity. These competing qualities create a complex view of satyrs, but most people and monsters in Greek Myth are, in fact, very complicated beings, expressing different emotions, fears, flaws, and characteristics.
Geller. “Satyr.” Mythology.net. March 26, 2018. Web: https://mythology.net/greek/greek-creatures/satyr/
“Satyr.” Encyclopedia Mythica. March 3, 1997. Web: https://pantheon.org/articles/s/satyr.html