Silene (in ancient Greek: Σειληνός, transl. Seilēnós; in Latin: Silenus) was, in Greek mythology (and later in Roman mythology), one of the followers of Dionysus, his teacher and faithful companion.
A notorious wine drinker, he was depicted as being almost always drunk and having to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey. Silenus was described as the oldest, wisest, and most drunken of Dionysus' followers, and was described as the young god's tutor in the Orphic hymns.
When under the influence of alcohol, Silenus acquired special knowledge and the power of prophecy. The Phrygian king Midas was eager to learn from him, and imprisoned him by lassoing him at a fountain where Silenus used to drink.
An alternative version of the legend tells that, when lost and wandering in Phrygia, Sillenus was rescued by peasants and taken to King Midas, who treated him well. Dionysus then offered Midas a reward for his kindness, and Midas chose the power to turn everything he touched into gold, and Midas became his follower as well.
In Euripides' satirical play, Cyclops, Silene is imprisoned with the satyrs in Sicily, where they were enslaved by the Cyclops. They represent the comic elements of the historical, which is basically a play on book IX of Homer's Odyssey. Silene refers to the satyrs as "his children" during the play.
In time the followers of Dionysus came to be called Silenoi, "silenos. They were always depicted as bald and fat, with thick lips and flat noses.
Sileno also came to become a Latin swear word, used in Plautus' play Rudens, written in about 211 BC, to describe the character Labrax, a treacherous pimp (leno), as " an old and pot-bellied Sileno, a bald and ill-faced criminal, with thick eyebrows, snarling and struggling."