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Mythology (3)

Gods & demigods

Pan

The Erymanthus has its source in Mount Lampeia, which is said to be sacred to Pan.


   (Pan). The Greek god of flocks and shepherds, described as the son of the Arcadian shepherd deity Hermes and Dryops, by others as the son of Hermes and Penelope, and by still others as the offspring of Penelope by all the suitors. The Homeric hymn describes him as delighting all the gods, and thus getting his name. He was perfectly developed from his birth; and when his mother saw him she ran away through fear; but Hermes carried him to Olympus, where all the gods were delighted with him, especially Dionysus. He was originally only an Arcadian god; and Arcadia was always the principal seat of his worship. From this country his name and worship afterwards spread over other parts of Greece; but at Athens his worship was not introduced until the time of the battle of Marathon. In Arcadia he was the god of forests, pastures, flocks, and shepherds, and dwelt in grottoes, wandered on the summits of mountains and rocks, and in valleys, either amusing himself with the chase, or leading the dances of the nymphs. As the god of flocks, both of wild and tame animals, it was his province to increase and guard them; but he was also a hunter, and hunters owed their success or failure to him. The Arcadian hunters used to scourge the statue of the god if they had been disappointed in the chase. During the heat of midday he used to slumber, and was very indignant when any one disturbed him. As the god of flocks, bees also were under his protection, as well as the coast where fishermen carried on their pursuit. As the god of everything connected with pastoral life, he was fond of music, and the inventor of the syrinx or shepherd's flute, which he himself played in a masterly manner, and in which he instructed others also, such as Daphnis. He is thus said to have loved the poet Pindar, and to have sung and danced his lyric songs, in return for which Pindar erected a sanctuary to him in front of his house.
    Pan, like other gods who dwelt in forests, was dreaded by travellers, to whom he sometimes appeared, and whom he startled with sudden awe or terror. Thus, when Phidippides, the Athenian, was sent to Sparta to solicit its aid against the Persians, Pan accosted him, and promised to terrify the barbarians if the Athenians would worship him. Hence, sudden fright without any visible cause was ascribed to Pan, and was called a Panic fear (panikon deima). He is further said to have had a terrible voice, and by it to have frightened the Titans in their fight with the gods. It seems that this feature--namely, his fondness of noise and riot-- was the cause of his being considered the minister and companion of Cybele and Dionysus. He was at the same time believed to be possessed of prophetic powers, and to have even instructed Apollo in this art. While roaming in the forests, he fell in love with the nymph Echo, by whom, or by Pitho, he became the father of Iynx. His love of Syrinx, after whom he named his flute, is well known from Ovid. Fir-trees (pitues) were sacred to him, since the nymph Pitys, whom he loved, had been metamorphosed into that tree; and the sacrifices offered to him consisted of cows, rams, lambs, milk, and honey. Sacrifices were also offered to him in common with Dionysus and the nymphs. The various epithets which are given him by the poets refer either to his singular appearance, or are derived from the names of the places in which he was worshipped. The Romans identified with Pan their own god Inuus, and also Faunus, which name is merely another form of Pan. In works of art Pan is represented as a voluptuous and sensual being, with horns, snub-nose, and goat's feet, sometimes in the act of dancing, and sometimes playing on the syrinx. His attendant deities or demons were known as Panes or Panisci (Paniskoi). Famous representations of Pan in sculpture are the so-called Barberini Faun at Munich, the Dancing Pan at Naples, and the Pan (or Faun) of Praxiteles at Rome, which suggested to Hawthorne his famous romance, The Marble Faun. In English literature, besides this romance, Pan is the subject of Landor's Pan and Pitys, Cupid and Pan, Buchanan's Pan, Browning's Pan and Luna, and Swinburne's Pan and Thalassius.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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