Greek Pottery Figurine Depicting a Satyric Actor

£ 295.00

A moulded pink terracotta statuette depicting a satyric actor. The features are quite worn, but we can still discern the beard, the hand on the stomach, and the shape of the legs. The reverse is plain and unmodelled. Mounted on a simple wooden stand (height with stand 14 cms).

Date: Circa 4th Century BC
Condition: Complete and intact; traces of white slip remaining; light accretions.


From the 4th Century BC, figurines acquired a decorative function, rather than a votive or honorific one. They began to represent theatrical characters, such as the slave, the peasant, the nurse, the fat woman, or the satyr from the satyr play. Figurine features might be caricatured or distorted, and by the Hellenistic era, the figurines had become grotesques: deformed beings with disproportionate heads, sagging breasts or prominent bellies, hunchbacks, and bald men.

In the Athenian tradition of drama, there was not only comedy and tragedy, but a third genre – the satyr play (satyrs being the deities of the woods and mountains in Greek mythology). The satyr play would deal with the legends of gods and heroes, and boast a chorus composed of satyrs and sileni. The satyr genre would cleverly ridicule the mythic tradition with pantomime and mockery – the ancestor of our own satirical comedy today. Only one complete satyr play remains from the 5th Century BC – the Cyclops of Euripides.

Weight 111.00 g
Dimensions H 9.5 cm
Pottery and Porcelain



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