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In Roman mythology, fauns were place-spirits (genii) of untamed woodland. Romans connected their fauns with the Greek satyrs, wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Dionysus.

The Barberini Faun (Glyptothek, Munich, Germany) is a Hellenistic marble, ca 200 BCE that was found in the Mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian (the Castel Sant'Angelo) and installed at Palazzo Barberini by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII, the patron of Bernini, who heavily restored and refinished it, so that its present 'Hellenistic baroque' aspect may be enhanced.

The Marble Faun, (1860), is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in Rome. The faun of the title epitomizes the natural, carefree Count Donatello: 'Our friend Donatello is the very Faun of Praxiteles. Is it not true, Hilda?' is the opening remark as four young art-minded friends gather in the sculture-gallery in the Capitoline Museum at Rome. 'In truth, allowing for the difference of costume, and if a lion`s skin could have been substituted for his modern talma, and a rustic pipe for his stick, Donatello might have figured perfectly as the marble Faun, miraculously softened into flesh and blood,' Hawthorne allows. Later, Donatello's murderous crime of passion will destroy him and transform the other characters. (The 'Faun of Praxiteles', as Hawthorne describes it, is an imaginary sculpture loosely based on Praxiteles' Hermes.)