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Martin Silenus is a poet and author, born on Old Earth before the Big Mistake



Martin Silenus was the descendent of one of the wealthiest families of Old Earth. His mother used her wealth for luxury, pushed the family into debt, and spent many hours a day on stimsim. She hired a scholar to educate her son in science and art. Young Silenus spent half his life living on the edge, not limited by money. He spent the other half learning about and memorizing poetry, and started to write his own poetry.

Before the Earth was destroyed in the Big Mistake, Martin's mother sent him into space so that a descendent of hers would live on to pay off family debts. She perished along with Old Earth.

On Heaven's Gate

After several years spent in cryogenic fugue, Silenus arrived on Heaven's Gate, a barely terraformed planet. Silenus suffered brain damage during the travel, resulting in him losing his entire vocabulary aside from several profane words. Despite this, he was found suitable for work. After several years of labor, he managed to regain his ability to speak intelligibly, and he started to write his epic poem, the Hyperion Cantos. One day a local thug attacked him while he was carrying his manuscript, and he was rescued by a manager's wife who read the Cantos and sent it to a publisher. The poem, edited to meet Hegemony standards, became a hit and made Silenus a millionaire. The editor hired him to write a series about Old Earth, called Dying Earth, which kept Silenus in the public eye, but his lifestyle and his efforts to publish his original Cantos sent him into debt.

After the tenth part of the novel series Silenus realizes that he is not doing art any more, just some hackwork. He liquidates his assets and signs in to join the kingdom of Sad King Billy.

On Asquith

Billy is an aristocrat living on the planet Asquith, patronizes many forms of arts. He lets Silenus join his castle, and the two makes friends with eachother. During the rebellion of Horace Glennon-Height, Billy decides to leave Asquith and to move to Hyperion, to create a new renaissance. First Silenus objects, but finally he goes with his patron.

On Hyperion

Sad King Billy locates his castle near the mysterious Time Tombs to make an ideal, inspiring environment for his artists. Everything goes well except for Silenus, who finds himself unable to write even a new line for his Cantos. He paid a body-sculptor to alter himself into a satyr, and he spent ten years deflowering women in this form.

After ten years the muse of Silenus returns, exactly the same time when mysterious murders start in the City of Poets. As the number of murdered people are growing and the murderer never found, people start abandon the city, except for Silenus, but after the last murder occurs, he can't continue the Cantos. Silenus spends his next year searching the mysterious murderer, the Shrike. Silenus comes to the conclusion that the Shrike is not only his muse but also his poem summoned the monster somehow.

One day Sad King Billy reappears, saying that if Silenus wants to end his Cantos, more murderer will be necessary, which can not be permitted, so he starts to burn the poems, believeing that if the manuscript is destroyed, so will be the Shrike. But the Shrike intervents, and Billy convinces Silenus to set both him and the Shrike on fire with the kerosene he bought to burn the poems. After setting the fire, the Shrike disappears with Billy.

Silenus spends most of his upcoming months recopying his poem, and eventually he leaves Hyperion.

The Shrike Pilgrimage

More than 150 years old, blue from Poulsen treatments, Martin Silenus returned to Hyperion with the last Shrike pilgrimage. He hardly befriends any of the other pilgrims, many times opposes Brawne Lamia, even has physical altercations with the much stronger woman. Silenus is the third to tell his story, on the levitation barge Benares.

His reason for coming back to Hyperion is that he wants to both finish his Cantos, Which, he believes predicts the future and records the fall of humanity, and to atone for his past decision of leaving Sad King Billy to die by letting the Shrike take him. After reaching the Time Tombs and witnessing the death of father Lenar Hoyt and the disappearence of colonel Fedmahn Kassad and emptying their supply of water and food, he joins Lamia to go back to Kronos Keep for food. On the way he becomes exhausted and leaves to the ruins of the City of Poets, where he continues his Cantos for the rest of the day, at an immense speed. After the sun sets, in the darkness the Shrike comes for him, and despite of his begging the Shrike impales him on the tree of thorns near Sad King Billy. Amidst the unbearable agony he endures on the tree, he realizes that every misery he was put through, has been because, as a poet, he must feel the pain of the world on his shoulders to compose his epic. He reconciles with Sad King Billy, and upon King Billy's urging, finishes his Cantos, finding his inspiration through his suffering on the tree of thorns.