The Dancing Satyr

September 11, 2012 / Art & Archaeology
Mazara del Vallo, Sicily
In the port town of Mazara del Vallo, on Sicily’s west coast, you will find a small museum with a stunning ancient bronze statue: Il Satiro Danzante. (The Dancing Satyr)

The story of this treasure’s discovery, told in the museum’s video room, is fascinating. In 1998, local fishermen aboard the Capitan Ciccio (Captain Fatso) were going about their ho-hum work of casting nets for shrimp and octopus, when they dredged up this torso from the sandy sea floor. The finding made international news and the damaged body was transported to a state-of-the art restoration center in Rome.

At first, it was thought to be a creation of the famous Greek sculptor Praxiteles, but after closer examination experts defined it as a Roman copy from sometime between the third and second centuries BC.

After 5 years of work, the restored satyr was unveiled with fanfare in Rome, then moved back to this Mazara del Vallo museum. Its allure is huge — it’s been displayed to much enthusiasm at Japan’s Universal Expo of Achi, as well as in Milan and at the Louvre.

In Ancient Greece, Satyrs were naughty, half man-half goat creatures, who danced around Dionysus, the God of Wine, in wild orgiastic frenzies with their female counterparts, Maenads.

Il Satiro Danzante seems to be caught in the midst of a wild leap, his alabaster eyes blazing–beckoning us to celebrate the ultimate joy of letting it all go…

Museo del Satiro, Chiesa di Sant’Egidio – Piazza Plebiscito, Mazara del Vallo
Open daily, 9am – 6pm

by Susan Van Allen

Susan is the Italian American author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, A New Edition of this popular book was just released, and it includes ItalianNotebook in its Online Resources Section! This November she will lead a Golden Week in Tuscany: For Women Only Tour, specially designed for female travelers to immerse themselves in the pleasures of Italy at harvest time.

10 Responses to “The Dancing Satyr”

  1. Ann Waggoner

    What a wonderful find! This reminds me of the “Bronzes of Riace” which are the most beautiful bronze statues that I have ever seen.

  2. Paula Giangreco Cullison

    Grazie for this article. My mother spent her summers at Mazara del Vallo in the early 1900’s. I spent a month traveling in Sicily (solo) four years ago. I will need to return to see this work. Yet another good reason for a trip.

  3. Those yellow eyes are what make this sculpture so magical! I couldn’t help but also click to virtually visit the Satyr Museum. How interesting!!!

  4. Angela Finch

    Well don’t rush to Sicily to view this amazing work of art as it is currently on display at The Royal Academy in London as the highlight of the Bronze exhibition which has just opened this week. The exhibition runs to 10th December and has been highly recommended by Rachel Campbell Johnston writing in the Times.

    • Pat Carney Ceccarelli
      Pat Carney Ceccarelli

      Many thanks to Angela Finch!1 I am just back in UK last night and will definitely go to the Royal Academy!! Pat CC

  5. I had just read this from your web site when I opened this week’s The Economist and did a double take as I saw the same bronze statue on Page 80.


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