Bronze Statue of Silenus Holding an Oil Lamp


Patinated Bronze statue of Silenus with a serpent, and holding an oil lamp, after the original discovered in Pompeii in 1863. Italian, Naples c.1900.
“Silenus”, knowledgeable tutor of the Greek God of Wine Dionysos, Bacchus in the Roman mythology. Silenos was a jolly good fellow, always tipsy if not drunken with the ears of a horse. Silenus, son of either Hermes or Pan and a nymph, belonged to the entourage of Dionysos / Bacchus, who cherished his prophetic gift and his wisdom, which he seemed to possess.

The original of our stauette of Silenus was found in Pompei in 1863. “The Illustrated London News” showed an engraving of the statue and marvelled in its edition of December 31, 1864: “During the last three or four years, since the misrule of the Neapolitan Bourbons was superceded by the kingdom of Italy, great progress has been made in the task of bringing to light that abundant store of curious relics of antiquity which had remained for eighteen centuries buried in the ruins of Pompeii. The extent and importance of these operations… have been acknowledged throughout Europe by the studenta of Roman history and the connoisseurs of classic art” And later: “The statue of Silenus, bearing a tray on his head, is thought to have been a lampstand.”

The statuette depicts Silenus stemming the mentioned tray which most likely held a receptable for the oil lamp. The bearded Silenus is crowned with tendrils of vines. His left hand is holding a snake which, in turn, holds the tray and whose tail end is curled up on his shoulder.

85cm high x 33cm diameter
(33.5” x 13”)