The Dancing Satyr

Imagine being an Italian fisherman and sailing off in your boat like you do every morning, to catch netfuls of squid, shrimp, mussels, etc – all the ingredients for ‘frutti di mare’, the sumptuous seafood dish that Italians prepare so well. Then imagine discovering a 2000 year old, barnacle covered bronze sculpture tangled in your fishing net along with the day’s haul of crustaceans and seaweed. You’d surely sail back to shore excited about your archaeological find. I know I would! That’s exactly what happened to Francesco Adragna and his fishing crew 50 miles off the southwest coast of Sicily in 1998.

The same fishing crew had found the left leg of the sculpture months earlier. They wondered when, if ever, they would pull the torso of the relic from that same spot in the Mediterranean waters. They did. And it was named ‘Satiro Danzante’, or the ‘Dancing Satyr’. What a beauty this is:

The ancient artifact, believed to be of Greek origin from the 3rd or 4th century B.C., was painstakingly cleaned and restored and determined to be a copy in the style of Praxiteles, or maybe even an authentic Praxiteles. The condition of the face is exceptionally good, and the active gesture of the body is both vigorous and graceful.

The ‘Dancing Satyr’ is on display at a museum in the Sicilian town of Mazara del Vallo. For more about this marvelous discovery, check out this New York Times article.

8 thoughts on “The Dancing Satyr

  1. kdmedina says:

    As always, thanks! You enhance life.

    You are not forgotten in my prayers.


  2. artmodelandrew says:

    It would indeed be quite amazing to stumble upon artwork from the 3rd or 4th century B.C. while out fishing… or hiking… or mountain biking.

    I thought a satyr had a horse’s ears and a tail. This sculpture looks quite human, although at closer look the ears resemble Commander Spok.

    I found the following explanation: “Praxiteles represented these figures as young and handsome men with only small vestiges of animal parts.”

    The article also states, “In Greek mythology Satyrs were creatures of the wild, part man and part beast that took part of the orgiastic cortège of Dionysus, the god of wine… In this sculpture we notice the pointed ears and a hole in his lower back, where a tail was probably fixed. The Dancing Satyr is represented while performing a swirling orgiastic dance, notably flexed on his right side with his head thrown back as in delirium.”

    • artmodel says:


      I wondered the same thing about this work being a satyr! The ‘half-beast’ part of it is not terribly obvious but the Dionysian expression certainly is. Good article from the Times of Sicily, thank you for sharing!


  3. Dave says:

    When I saw the photo, here we’re my first two thoughts, in order:
    (1) What a magnificent piece of figurative sculpture!
    (2) Ouch! I wonder how long the model had to crouch on his knees with his arms raised before he got to take a break.

    For many years, I enjoyed figurative art without ever thinking about he flesh-and-blood woman or man who held the pose. No more. My experiences have greatly deepened my appreciation of the labor that went into the work by both artist and model.

    Thanks for bringing this amazing piece of art to our notice, Claudia.

    • artmodel says:


      You had the perfect thoughts about this sculpture! We art models will always look at a work of figurative art and consider the posing challenges involved. It’s inevitable! I do it all the time.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the Dancing Satyr and the post.

      Thank you, as always, for your comments!


  4. Bill says:

    It really is a beautiful sculpture — nice posting. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have sold it on the black market — but it must have been tempting. I tip my hat to the crew for doing the right thing.

    And, you know, I think this is the first “satyr-ical” posting that I’ve seen on this blog. 🙂

    • artmodel says:

      Bill, bringing the puns! I like it 😆

      The black market temptation would be strong in cases like this, for some. But it’s so much better to share discoveries with the world. The Dancing Satyr is on display in Sicily for visitors to view and enjoy, and that’s very cool.

      Thanks for commenting!


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