38 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 422

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Lines 1-81

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 1-81 Summary (Prologue and Parodos)

In front of the cave of the Cyclops at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily, Silenus delivers the prologue speech. Silenus invokes Dionysus, the god of the wine, and recalls his years of devoted service to this deity: How Silenus stood by the god when Hera, his jealous stepmother, drove him to distort reality and imagination, and how he supported Dionysus during the war between the gods and the monstrous Giants. Silenus explains that he and the other satyrs have been shipwrecked while searching for Dionysus, who had been abducted by Etruscan (“Tyrrhenian”) pirates. Washing ashore on Sicily, Silenus and the satyrs were captured and enslaved by Polyphemus, one of the gigantic one-eyed monsters known as the Cyclopes. Polyphemus tasked some of the satyrs with herding his flocks in the hills, while the older Silenus was left to care for Polyphemus’s cave home.

Silenus breaks off his speech to point out the Chorus of satyrs, who have entered with their flocks. The Chorus sings the parodos, complaining about the hard herding work they are forced to endure. They recall their old lives with longing—they used to drink and dance with Dionysus and the Maenads.