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December 7 – Satyr

Illustration of a satyr from Gesner’s Historiae animalium (1551-1558).

In Greek mythology, Satyrs are attendants to the god Bacchus, residing in woods and mountains. In the middle ages they are often illustrated as possessing a mixture of human and goat-like features. Satyrs were often conflated with fauns and medieval wild men or mythical wodehouses – semi-human forest creatures.

This illustration is taken from Swiss physician and naturalist Conrad Gesner’s zoological work Historiae animalium (1551-1558). His work attempted to describe the animal kingdom and was illustrated with beautiful woodcuts, which in many copies, like ours, are hand-coloured. Notably, the work also includes many animals we consider fictional, such as this satyr.

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