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In Greek mythology, sileni were a race of half-horse, half-humans.

Later, sileni lost the plural connotation and the only references were to one named Silenus (Roman equivalent: Silvanus) , the teacher and faithful companion of the wine-god Dionysus. A notorious consumer of wine, he was usually drunk and had to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey. When the Phrygian king Midas took the drunk Silenus in his house, Dionysus handsomely rewarded Midas for his hospitality. Silenus was thought to have much wisdom and be able to reveal important secrets to mortals if captured and questioned.

Silenus was equated with the Roman Silvanus and Etruscan Selvans.