Satyros or The Deified Forest Devil

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Satyros or The Deified Forest Devil is a play by Johann Wolfgang Goethe . It was written in the summer of 1773 in Frankfurt / Main , but did not appear until 1817 in the 9th volume of Goethe's work edition by Cotta .


The work is written in free Knittel verse and despite its brevity of 483 verses divided into five acts.


The first act begins with a monologue in which a hermit praises the simple, frugal life in nature and explains why he fled the “folly” of people. Then he hears a cry of pain and a satyr appears who has injured his leg. The hermit takes care of him in his hut, but the satyr behaves rude and ungrateful, and he also rejects the hermit's simple food. The hermit leaves the hut to get something better.

In the second act, the satyr leaves the hut and steals a sheet from the hermit with which he wants to cover himself so that the girls he might meet do not flee from him. The cross hanging on the wall , in front of which the hermit prayed, he tears down and throws it into a stream.

In the third act, the satyr meets two girls, Arsinoe and Psyche. While Psyche is infatuated with his singing, Arsinoe remains suspicious. She brings her father Hermes over and "all kinds of people" crowd around the group. Because of his way of speaking, his mysterious origins and his alleged abilities, the satyr appears to people like a god and they begin to worship him. He preaches to them that they have become slaves to their property and their civilized life and that they should now live with him in the forest and feed on raw chestnuts. The deluded people are enthusiastic.

At the beginning of the fourth act the people sit together eating chestnuts while the satyr preaches his apparent wisdom to them. The hermit arrives, confronts the satyr for the theft and calls him “You naughty, disgraceful animal!” And “You limping devil!”. The people want to stone him for this blasphemy. He is said to be held in Hermes' apartment and later sacrificed in the temple.

The fifth act begins in Hermes' apartment, where his wife Eudora takes care of him: she is the only one not under the spell of the satyr, describes him as an "animal" and indicates that he tried to rape her. She has a plan to save the hermit: She wants to lure the satyr into the inner halls of the temple while the hermit defends himself from the people.

At the sacrificial ceremony in the temple, Satyros says that he has forgiven the hermit and that it is up to the people whether he should stay alive or die. The people want his death, but Satyros does not want to watch him and withdraws into the "sanctuary" of the temple. The hermit tries to save his life by speaking of his "arts" which he could teach the people - he even possessed the philosopher's stone . While Hermes is about to agree, the people drag the hermit to the altar and press a knife into Hermes' hand. At this moment one hears Eudora's cries for help from the sanctuary, Hermes tears open its doors and one sees "Eudora defending herself against Satyr's hugs". Only now does the people realize that the satyr is more of an animal than a god. This despises the people and wants to move on "to noble mortals".

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