Greek Mythology >> Bestiary >> Legendary Creatures >> Ethiopian Satyr (Satyros Aithiopikos)


Greek Name

Σατυρος Αιθιοπικος


Satyros Aithiopikos

Latin Spelling

Satyrus Aethiopicus


Ethiopian Satyr

Ethiopian satyr | Der Naturen Bloeme manuscript (1350) | National Library of the Netherlands
Ethiopian satyr, Der Naturen Bloeme manuscript (1350), National Library of the Netherlands

THE SATYROS AITHIOPIKOS (Ethiopian Satyr) was a violent, satyr-like animal or wild-man which plagued a small village on the banks of the Aithiopian (Ethiopian) Nile. The travelling Greek philosopher Apollonios of Tyana pacified the creature with a bowl of wine.

The beast was probably related to the African Satyrs of Greek legend.


Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 4. 27 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"After passing the cataracts [of the River Nile] they [the C1st A.D. philosopher Apollonios of Tyana and his company] halted in a village of the Aithiopes (Ethiopians) of no great size, and they were dining, towards the evening, mingling in their conversation the grave with the gay, when all on a sudden they heard the women of the village screaming and calling to one another to join in the pursuit and catch the thing; and they also summoned their husbands to help them in the matter. And the latter caught up sticks and stones and anything which came handy, and called upon one another to avenge the insult to their wives. And it appears that for ten months a Phasma Satyros (Phantom Satyr) had been haunting the village, who was mad after the women and was said to have killed two of them to whom he was supposed to be specially attached. The companions, then, of Apollonios were frightened out of their wits till Apollonios said : ‘You need not be afraid, for it's only a Satyros that is running amuck here.’
‘Yes, by Zeus,’ said Neilos (Nilus), ‘it's the one that we naked sages have found insulting us for a long time past and we could never stop his jumps and leaps.’
‘But,’ said Apollonios, ‘I have a remedy against these hell-hounds, which Midas is said once to have employed; for Midas himself had some of the blood of Satyroi (Satyrs) in his veins, as was clear from the shape of his ears; and a Satyros [i.e. Seilenos] once, trespassing on his kinship with Midas, made merry at the expense of his ears, not only singing about them, but piping about them. Well, Midas, I understand, had heard from his mother that when a Satyros is overcome by wine he falls asleep, and at such times comes to his senses and will make friends with you; so he mixed wine which he had in his palace in a fountain and led the Satyros get at it, and the latter drank it up and was overcome. And to show that the story is true, let us go to the head man of the village, and if the villagers have any wine, we will mix it with water for the Satyros and he will share the fate of Midas' Satyros.’
They thought it a good plan, so he poured four Aigyptian (Egyptian) jars of wine into the trough out of which the village cattle drank, and then called the Satyros by means of some secret rebuke or threat; and though as yet the latter was not visible, the wine sensibly diminished as if it was being drunk up. And when it was quite finished, Apollonios said : ‘Let us drink the Satyros' health, for he is fast asleep.’
And with these words he led the villagers to the cave of the Nymphai (Nymphs), which was not quite a furlong away from the village; and he showed them the Satyros lying fast asleep in it, but told them not to hit him or abuse him, ‘For,’ he said, ‘his nonsense is stopped forever.’
Such was this exploit of Apollonios, and, by heavens, we may call it not an incidental work in passing, but a masterwork of his passing by; and if you read the sage's epistle, in which he wrote to an insolent young man that he had sobered even a daimonos Satyros (Satyr-daemon) in Aithiopia (Ethiopia), you will perforce call to mind the above story."




A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.