Christiaen van Couwenbergh – Nymph and Satyr -…

Christiaen van Couwenbergh – Nymph and Satyr – 1626-28

A nymph (Greek: νύμφη, nýmphē ) in Greek mythology is a minor female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform.

Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing; their amorous freedom sets them apart from the restricted and chaste wives and daughters of the Greek polis. They are beloved by many and dwell in mountainous regions and forests by springs or rivers; as Walter Burkert (Burkert 1985:III.3.3) remarks, “The idea that rivers are gods and springs divine nymphs is deeply rooted not only in poetry but in belief and ritual; the worship of these deities is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality.” Other nymphs, always in the shape of young maidens, were part of the retinue of a god, such as Dionysus, Hermes, or Pan, or a goddess, generally the huntress Artemis. Nymphs were the frequent target of satyrs.

In Greek mythology, a satyr (Greek: σάτυρος satyros, pronounced [sátyros]) is the member of a troop of ithyphallic male companions of Dionysus; they usually have horse-like ears and tails, as well as permanent, exaggerated erections. Early artistic representations sometimes include horse-like legs, but, in 6th-century BC black-figure pottery, human legs are the most common. The faun is a similar woodland-dwelling creature from Roman mythology, which had the body of a man, but the legs, horns, and tail of a goat. In myths, both are often associated with pipe-playing. Greek-speaking Romans often used the Greek term saturos when referring to the Latin faunus, and eventually syncretized the two (the female “Satyresses” were a later invention of poets). They are also known for their focus on sexual desires. They were characterized by the desire to have sexual intercourse with as many women as possible, known as satyriasis.

Christiaen van Couwenbergh, (8 July 1604 – 4 July 1667) was a Dutch Golden Age painter.