In "Greek mythology, the "satyr Marsyas ("//; "Greek: Μαρσύας) is a central figure in two stories involving music: in one, he picked up the double oboe ("aulos) that had been abandoned by "Athena and played it; in the other, he challenged "Apollo to a contest of music and lost his hide and life. In "antiquity, literary sources often emphasise the "hubris of Marsyas and the justice of his punishment.
In one strand of modern comparative "mythography, the domination of Marsyas by Apollo is regarded as an example of myth that recapitulates a supposed supplanting by the "Olympian pantheon of an earlier ""Pelasgian" religion of "chthonic "heroic ancestors and "nature spirits. Marsyas was a devoté of the ancient "Mother Goddess "Rhea/"Cybele, and his episodes are situated by the mythographers in "Celaenae (or Kelainai), in "Phrygia, at the main source of the "Meander (the river "Menderes in "Turkey).
When a genealogy was applied to him, Marsyas was the son of "Olympus (son of "Heracles and "Euboea, daughter of "Thespius), or of "Oeagrus, or of Hyagnis. Olympus was, alternatively, said to be Marsyas' son or pupil.
Marsyas was an expert player on the double-piped "double reed instrument known as the "aulos. In the anecdotal account, he found the instrument on the ground where it had been tossed aside with a curse by its inventor, "Athena, after the other gods made sport of how her cheeks bulged when she played. The 5th-century poet Telestes doubted that virginal Athena could have been motivated by such vanity, but in the 2nd century AD, on the "Acropolis of Athens itself, the voyager "Pausanias saw "a statue of Athena striking Marsyas the Silenos for taking up the flutes [aulos] that the goddess wished to be cast away for good."
In the contest between Apollo and Marsyas, the terms stated that the winner could treat the defeated party any way he wanted. Since the contest was judged by the "Muses, Marsyas naturally lost and was "flayed alive in a cave near Celaenae for his "hubris to challenge a god. Apollo then nailed Marsyas' skin to a pine tree, near Lake Aulocrene (the Turkish Karakuyu Gölü), which "Strabo noted was full of the "reeds from which the pipes were fashioned. "Diodorus Siculus felt that Apollo must have repented this "excessive" deed, and said that he had laid aside his lyre for a while, but "Karl Kerenyi observes of the flaying of Marsyas' "shaggy hide: a penalty which will not seem especially cruel if one assumes that Marsyas' animal guise was merely a masquerade." Classical Greeks were unaware of such "shamanistic overtones, and the Flaying of Marsyas became a theme for painting and sculpture. His brothers, nymphs, gods and goddesses mourned his death, and their tears, according to "Ovid's "Metamorphoses, were the source of the river Marsyas in "Phrygia, which joins the "Meander near Celaenae, where Herodotus reported that the flayed skin of Marsyas was still to be seen, and "Ptolemy Hephaestion recorded a "festival of Apollo, where the skins of all those victims one has flayed are offered to the god." "Plato was of the opinion that it had been made into a "wineskin.
There are several versions of the contest; according to Hyginus, Marsyas was departing as victor after the first round, when Apollo, turning his lyre upside down, played the same tune. This was something that Marsyas could not do with his flute. According to another version Marsyas was defeated when Apollo added his voice to the sound of the lyre. Marsyas protested, arguing that the skill with the instrument was to be compared, not the voice. However, Apollo replied that when Marsyas blew into the pipes, he was doing almost the same thing himself. The Muses supported Apollo's claim, leading to his victory.
"Ovid touches upon the theme of Marsyas twice, very briefly telling the tale in "Metamorphoses vi.383–400, where he concentrates on the tears shed into the river Marsyas, and making an "allusion in "Fasti, vi.649–710, where Ovid's primary focus is on the aulos and the roles of flute-players rather than Marsyas, whose name is not actually mentioned.
The hubristic Marsyas in surviving literary sources eclipses the figure of the wise Marsyas suggested in a few words by the "Hellenistic historian "Diodorus Siculus, who refers to Marsyas as admired for his intelligence (sunesis) and self-control (sophrosune), not qualities found by Greeks in ordinary satyrs. In "Plato's Symposium, when "Alcibiades likens Socrates to Marsyas, it is this aspect of the wise satyr that is intended. Jocelyn Small identifies in Marsyas an artist great enough to challenge a god, who can only be defeated through a ruse. A prominent statue of Marsyas as a wise old "silenus stood near the "Roman Forum.
This is the Marsyas of the journal Marsyas: Studies in the History of Art, published since 1941 by students of the Institute of Art, "New York University.
Among the Romans, Marsyas was cast as the inventor of "augury and a proponent of free speech (the philosophical concept παρρησία, ""parrhesia") and "speaking truth to power." The earliest known representation of Marsyas at Rome stood for at least 300 years in the "Roman Forum near or in the "comitium, the space for political activity. He was depicted as a "silen, carrying a "wineskin on his left shoulder and raising his right arm. The statue was regarded as an indicium libertatis, a symbol of liberty, and was associated with demonstrations of the "plebs, or common people. It often served as a sort of "kiosk upon which invective verse was posted.
Marsyas served as a minister for Dionysus or Bacchus, who was "identified by the Romans with their "Father Liber, one of three deities in the "Aventine Triad, along with "Ceres and Libera (identified with "Persephone). These gods were regarded as concerning themselves specially with the welfare of the plebs. The freedom that the "ecstasies of "Dionysian worship represented took on a political meaning in Rome as the "libertas that distinguished the free from the enslaved. The "Liberalia, celebrated March 17 in honor of Liber, was a time of speaking freely, as the poet and playwright "Gnaeus Naevius declared: "At the Liberalia games we enjoy free speech." Naevius, however, was arrested for his "invectives against the powerful.
Marsyas was sometimes considered a king and contemporary of "Faunus, portrayed by "Vergil as a native Italian ruler at the time of "Aeneas. "Servius, in his "commentary on the "Aeneid, says that Marsyas sent Faunus envoys who showed techniques of augury to the Italians. The plebeian "gens of the "Marcii claimed that they were descended from Marsyas. "Gaius Marcius Rutilus, who rose to power from the "plebs, is credited with having dedicated the statue that stood in the Roman forum, most likely in 294 BC, when he became the first plebeian "censor and added the "cognomen "Censorinus to the family name. Marcius Rutilus was also among the first plebeian augurs, "co-opted into their "college in 300, and so the mythical teacher of augury was an apt figure to represent him.
In 213 BC, two years after suffering one of the worst military defeats in its history at the "Battle of Cannae, Rome was in the grip of a reactionary fear that led to excessive "religiosity. The "senate, alarmed that its authority was being undermined by "prophets and sacrificers" in the forum, began a program of suppression. Among the literature confiscated was an "authentic" prophecy calling for the institution of "games in the Greek manner for Apollo, which the "senate and "elected officials would control. The prophecy was attributed to Gnaeus Marcius, reputed to be a descendant of Marsyas. The games were duly carried out, but the Romans failed to bring the continuing "wars with the Carthaginians to a victorious conclusion until they heeded a second prophecy and imported the worship of the Phrygian "Great Mother, whose song Marsyas was said to have composed; the song had further relevance in that it was also credited by the Phrygians with protecting them from invaders. The power relations between Marsyas and Apollo reflected the continuing "Struggle of the Orders between the elite and the common people, expressed in political terms by "optimates and "populares. The arrest of Naevius for exercising free speech also took place during this period.
Another descendant of Marcius Rutilus, "L. Marcius Censorinus, issued coins depicting the statue of Marsyas, at a time when the "augural college was the subject of political controversy during the "Sullan civil wars of the 80s BC On the coin, Marsyas wears a "Phrygian cap or "pilleus, an emblem of liberty. This Marcius Censorinus was killed by "Sulla and his head displayed outside "Praeneste. Sulla's legislative program attempted to curtail power invested in the people, particularly restricting the powers of the "plebeian tribunes, and to restore the dominance of the senate and the privileges of "patricians.
Marsyas was also claimed as the "eponym of the "Marsi, one of the ancient peoples of Italy. The "Social War of 91–88 BC, in which the "Italian peoples fought to advance their status as citizens under Roman rule, is sometimes called the Marsic War from the leadership of the Marsi. The Roman "coloniae "Paestum and "Alba Fucens, along with other Italian cities, set up their own statues of Marsyas as assertions of their political status.
During the "Principate, Marsyas became a subversive symbol in opposition to "Augustus, whose propaganda systematically associated him with the silens’ torturer Apollo. Augustus's daughter "Julia held nocturnal assemblies at the statue, and crowned it to defy her father. The poet "Ovid, who was ultimately exiled by Augustus, twice tells the story of Marsyas's flaying by Apollo, in his epic "Metamorphoses and in the Fasti, the calendrical poem left unfinished at his death. Although the immediate cause of Ovid's exile remains one of literary history's great mysteries, Ovid himself says that a "poem and transgression" were contributing factors; his poetry tests the boundaries of permissible free speech during Rome's transition from "republic to "imperial monarchy.
"Pliny indicates that in the 1st century AD, the painting Marsyas religatus ("Marsyas Bound"), by "Zeuxis of Heraclea, could be viewed at the "Temple of Concordia in Rome. The goddess "Concordia, like the Greek "Harmonia, was a "personification of both "musical harmony as it was understood in antiquity, and of "social order, as expressed by "Cicero's phrase concordia ordinum. The apparent incongruity of exhibiting the tortured silen in a temple devoted to harmony has been interpreted in modern scholarship as a warning against criticizing authority.
In the art of later periods, "allegory is applied to gloss the somewhat ambivalent morality of the flaying of Marsyas. Marsyas is often seen with a "flute, "pan pipes or even "bagpipes. Apollo is shown with his "lyre, or sometimes a "harp, "viol or other stringed instrument. The "contest of Apollo and Marsyas is seen as symbolizing the eternal struggle between the "Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of human nature.
Paintings taking Marsyas as a subject include "Apollo and Marsyas" by "Michelangelo Anselmi (c. 1492 – c.1554), "The Flaying of Marsyas" by "Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), the "Flaying of Marsyas by "Titian (c. 1570–1576) and "Apollo and Marsyas" by "Bartolomeo Manfredi (St. Louis Art Museum).
"James Merrill based a poem, "Marsyas", on this myth; it appears in The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace (1959). "Zbigniew Herbert and Nadine Sabra Meyer each titled poems "Apollo and Marsyas". Following Ovid's retelling of the Apollo and Marsyas tale, the poem "The Flaying Of Marsyas" features in Robin Robertson's 1997 collection "a painted field".
In 2002, British artist "Anish Kapoor created and installed an enormous sculpture in London's "Tate Modern called "Marsyas". The work, consisting of three huge steel rings and a single red "PVC membrane, was impossible to view as a whole because of its size, but had obvious anatomical connotations.
The single reed or clarinet mouthpiece was known to other ancient peoples, and I should not venture to assert that it was not known to the Greeks. But the evidence of both art and literature indicates that it was the double reed that was standard in the Classical period. Under the Hornbostel-Sachs system, therefore, the "aulos should be classified as an oboe. It must be admitted that 'oboe-girl' is less evocative than the 'flute-girl' to which classicists have been accustomed, and that when it is a question of translating Greek poetry 'oboe' is likely to sound odd. For the latter case I favor 'pipe' or 'shawm.'