Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Hans P. Broedel
Best known for his 1657 La Pratique du Theatre, François Hédelin was a cleric with a keen interest in the stage. As the abbé d’Aubignac, he wrangled in debate with the most respected scholars of his day, and Hédelin’s contacts extended to the crown itself. His Des Satyres, brutes, monstres et démons is an attempt to do with a species what he did with the stage - to bring disorder and immorality to heel.
This dissertation provides historical context, analysis, and translation of François Hédelin’s 1627 Des Satyres, brutes, monstres et démons. De leur nature et adoration Contre l'opinion de ceux qui ont estimé les Satyres estre une espece d'hommes distincts & separez des Adamicques. Coming to us from an age of wonders, Hédelin’s work is itself something of a wonder. To the modern eye, the most startling thing about it is that it never asks whether or not satyrs exist. Today’s readers might find such a bluff acceptance of the existence of half-man half-goat creatures astounding. But this was not unusual in seventeenth century Europe. In the medieval and early modern world, the term ‘satyr’ applied to what were likely chimpanzees, orangoutans, and baboons. The term papio, meaning baboon, was often synonymous with satyr in the classical world. Further, in the minds of many early modern people, Pliny’s monstrous races, of which satyrs were but one species, were still traipsing about the wilds of the Americas, Africa, and India.
This study argues that there were two reasons why Hédelin wrote this treatise: First, he wished to join the scholarly discourse on what makes us human. Second, he wished to reject overtly what satyrs represented: lechery, deception, drunkenness, and disorder. There were indeed those who thought that satyrs were descendants of Adam or were another species of human. For Hédelin, such assertions put the very dignity of both God and man at risk, and his treatise would sharply separate both mankind and God from these creatures.
Skjelver, Danielle, "On Satyrs: Brutes, Monsters, And Demons: Of Their Nature And Worship: François Hédelin's Des Satyres As A Defense Of God And Humankind" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 2865.