PARIAN MARBLE. Height about 2 feet.
THIS group, found among the excavations at Herculaneum, is more remarkable for the expression which gives life to the marble than for the purity of the execution. It might especially be wished that the goat were more correctly drawn; but it is impossible not to admire the expression of sensuous passion and intense enjoyment depicted on the Satyr's features, and even on the countenance of the strange object of his passion.
The crime of bestiality was not rare among the ancients, and it was not confined to the intercourse of men with female animals; it extended also to that of women with males. Herodotus (Book 2, § 46) informs us that in his time a surprising thing happened in Egypt, in the Mendesian nome, a he-goat had intercourse publicly with a woman, and the fact was widely and generally known. But it is true the Egyptians might be inclined to excuse this crime, being, as they were, under the conviction that the god Pan frequently metamorphosed himself into a he-goat. In their language the god and the animal were both alike named Mendes.
In our own days there still exist, in Sicily and Calabria, half-savage herdsmen who pass whole days in profound solitude, and come for a few moments only every evening into the villages, where bread and oil are distributed among them. These men, whose sole task is to watch over the preservation of flocks, often conceive an insensate passion for the animals confided to their care. The same thing also happened to the shepherds of Virgil's time:--
"We know that towards thee in the obscure nook
The jealous he-goats cast an angry look,
While in the shade the nymphs with laughter shook;"
Virg. Eglog. III.
"When Nature, supported though she be by law, cannot contain your intemperance within the bounds of reason, as if it were a torrent carrying it away perforce, she often and in many places commits great outrages, disorders, and scandals against nature in the matter of the pleasure of love; for there have been men who have conceived a passion for goats, sows, mares, &c." 1
2:1 PLUTARCH. Discourse on the Reason of Beasts, xvii.