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Pan (mythology)

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Pan (Greek Παν, genitive Πανος, said to be related to the Greek word for "all" or "everything") is the Greek god who watches over shepherds and their flocks. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a satyr, and is one of the deities within the archetype of the Horned God. His parentage is unclear; in some legends he is the son of Zeus and in some he is the son of Hermes. His mother is said to be a nymph. The Roman counterpart to Pan is Faunus.

One of the famous legends of Pan involves the origin of his trademark pan pipes. There was a nymph by the name of Syrinx who was beautiful and beloved by the satyrs and other wood dwellers. She scorned them all. As she was returning from the hunt one day, Pan met her. She ran away and didn't stop to hear his compliments, and he pursued until she came to the bank of a river where he overtook her. She had only time to call on the water nymphs for help. Just as Pan laid hands on her, she was turned into the river reeds When the air blew through the reeds, it produced a plaintive melody. The god took some of the reeds to make an instrument which he called a syrinx, in honor of the nymph.

Echo was a nymph who was a great singer and dancer and scorned the love of any man. This angered Pan, a lecherous god, and he instructed his followers to kill her. Echo was torn to pieces and spread all over earth. The goddess of the earth, Gaia, received the pieces of Echo, whose voice remains repeating the last words of others. In some versions, Echo and Pan first had one child: Iambe.

Pan also loved a nymph named Pitys, who was turned into a pine tree to escape him.

Pan is famous for his sexual prowess, and is often depicted with an erect priapus. He was believed by the Greeks to have plied his charms primarily on maidens and shepherds.

It seems likely that the images of the incubus and even the horns and cloven hooves of Satan, as depicted in much Christian literature and art, were taken from the images of the highly sexual Pan.

The word panic is associated with this mythical figure.

Greek historian Plutarch reports in his "The Obsolescence of Oracles" (Moralia, Book 5) that during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) people on a ship in the Greek Isles heard a great voice cry out to a passenger named Thanus saying "When you come to Palodes, announce that great Pan is dead." So he did so, and those on board heard a great sound of many voices lamenting the death of the god.

Despite the declaration of his death, however, Pan is widely worshiped by Neopagans and Wiccans today, where he is considered a powerful God and an archetype of male virility and sexuality.

Once Pan had the audacity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and to challenge Apollo, the god of the lyre, to a trial of skill. Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen to umpire. Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower, Midas, who happened to be present. Then Apollo struck the strings of his lyre. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to Apollo, and all but Midas agreed with the judgment. He dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer, and caused them to become the ears of a donkey.

King Midas was mortified at this mishap. But he attempted to hide his misfortune with an ample turban or headdress. But his hairdresser of course knew the secret. He was told not to mention it. He could not keep the secret; so he went out into the meadow, dug a hole in the ground, whispered the story into it, and covered the hole up. A thick bed of reeds sprang up in the meadow, and began whispering the story and saying "King Midas has an ass' ears."

Pan makes a guest appearance in The Wind in the Willows.

In Roman mythology, Faunus was known as the father of Bona Dea (Fauna, his feminine side) and Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also sometimes Faunus' mother).

Faunus was called Lupercus ("he who wards off the wolf") as the protector of cattle.

Faunus was a Latin king, son of Picus and Canens. He was then revered as the god Fatuus after his death, worshipped in a sacred forest outside what is now Tivoli. He was associated with wolf skins, wreaths and goblets.

His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple, February 15, was called the Lupercalia. His priests (Luperci[?]) wore goat-skins and hit onlookers with goat-skin belts. The Faunalia[?] was another festival in Faunus' honor; it took place on December 5.

See also: Puck, Erotic art in Pompeii



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