9 Mar 2012


Perhaps one of my favourite characters in the NARNIA books is Mr Tumnus, the faun, who, featuring largely in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, is the first Narnian to be met by both us (the reader) and, fictional character, Lucy. 

Hardly surprising that Lucy, one of the 'Daughters of Eve', comes across Mr Tumnus standing by himself under a lampost in what appears to be the middle of nowhere when you consider that the Romans considered fauns inspired fear into the very hearts of the traveller journeying in lonely and remote places though they could, if they so desired, also be of help in that they had been known to help man by guiding him to safety...... much as Mr Tumnus cannot betray Lucy but instead leads her back to the lampost and safety.


Faun:- one of a class of rural deities represented as men with the ears,horns, tail, and later also the hind legs of a goat.
- Dictionary.Com

Normally depicted as above, though in all cases a faun is a combination of man and beast, the appearance does in fact vary in that some have the lower half of a horse, donkey or mule as opposed to that of a goat, some have horns and cloven feet, and, whilst many have the ears of an animal, some merely have large, pointed ears that are otherwise quite human to look at.

As for clothing. Well, Mr Tumnus' attire consisted of a red scarf but generally speaking the faun tends to prefer going au natural though they are said to quite like wearing a wreath made of oak leaves and branches around their foreheads.

Hmm, there seems to be mention of plenty of male fauns, Faunus, horned Roman God of the forests and fields, and, though arguably a satyr as opposed to a faun, his Greek counterpart, Pan, rustic God of shepherds and hunting, to name but two, BUT what of female fauns?

According to both ancient Roman and Greek mythology fauns are only male. Tradition has it they mate with both nymphs (divine spirits) and dryads (the nymphs of oak trees). 

OK, so what about Fauna (also known as Fatua or Fenta)?

An ancient Roman goddess, according to different sources she is said to be either the wife, sister or daughter of Faunus. A prophetic deity, traditionally it is believed that Fauna spoke in wooded places of future events using Saturnian verse, an ancient form of Latin.

But enough of gender and on to fauns as a race.

A peaceful and festive race, it could be said that the faun was the original 'party animal' in that their favourite activities number feasting, drinking, dancing and chasing dryads or for that matter any other attractive females.

Loving to dance by moonlight and play tricks on other races during the wee small hours, fauns do not make the ideal neighbour though they will welcome you with open arms if you happen to share their love of merriment.

Well known for their passion, fauns are incredibly impulsive beings who have little sense of right or wrong, their actions neither harmful nor helpful, they simply fulfil that impulse which is why humans and dwarfs tend to have the most trouble with them, elves and other halflings the least.

Mr Tumnus as portrayed by James McAvoy in the 2005 film The Chronicles Of Narnia.

Along with fauns, amongst the other beings also defined as Goat People we have .......

Satyrs :- One of a class of woodland deities represented as part human, part horse, and sometimes part goat and noted for riotousness and lasciviousness.

OK, so both are goat people, are there any differences between the two beings?

Socially and culturally very similar, fauns are Roman in origin whilst satyrs are Greek and, though later myths portrayed both as having horns and the lower body of an animal, the faun having goat-like hooves, the satyr human feet, originally the satyr was depicted as being a stocky, hairy and extremely ugly dwarf. Oh and though both are party loving and fond of the ladies the satyr is said to be (how to put this politely?) much more, err, promiscuous.

Belonging to a class of beings known as Satyrus/Saturos, the satyr, known as Satyriskoi as children and Seilenoi when they elderly, are connected with the worship of Dionysus, God of fertility and wine, and as such represent the vital power of nature.

Amongst the 'famous' satyrs (Ampelos, Komos, and, Marsyas etc) perhaps my favourite story is that of Seilenos (also spelt Silenus) ....... a jovial, balding old man with a pot-belly, he was the rustic 'god of the dance of the winepress', as well as the god of drunkenness who is often depicted riding none to soberly on a donkey - not bad going when you consider that, as a race, the satyr are known for their  licentious revelries and reaching new levels of inebriation. 

Silenus as depicted on a 4th century B.C. vase.

Drunken Silenus, Roman artwork of the 2nd century A.D.


Dizzy C said...

Hello dear blog friend.##

Another great article on mythical and legendary characters.

I do love these posts. It must take ages to research!

Have a great weekend


StarTraci said...

Mr. Tumnus was my favorite, too!

james McAvoy's pretty awesome, as well.


Kalyan said...

Nice reading and knowing...thanks for sharing!

Claudine G. said...

Such a wealth of information on the impulsive fauns & the (more promiscuous) satyrs, Petty! I'm so glad I found your blog, I can use it for research ... :)

Kelly said...

The Satyr was the first thing that came to my mind when I started reading, so I'm glad you went into detail on the differences.

Oh, and I also thought about the Goat Woman of South Arkansas I've posted about before, but that's a whole different thing! :)

Suko said...

Petty, I must admit that I knew very little about Goat people, except for Capricorn which is depicted as half-man, half-goat. Another fascinating look at imaginative and mythical creatures!

Jenners said...

I love this series ... and I didn't know that was James McAvoy!

NRIGirl said...

Wow! How detailed! Thank you, thank you and thank you!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Great post! I've been reading a few books with satyrs and they have been fun!

anilkurup said...

You seem to be spending an awful lot of time with patience to bring out such informations.