Pan (mythology)

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Pan (Greek Πάν, genitive Πανός) 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 or pane.

Image:Pan and Daphnis.jpg
Pan teaching his eromenos, the shepherd Daphnis, to play the panpipes
2nd c. CE Roman copy of Greek original
ca. 100 BCE attributed to Heliodorus
Found in Pompeii

Contents

[edit] Origins

The parentage of Pan is unclear; in some myths he is the son of Zeus, though generally he is the son of Hermes (sometimes with Dryope). His mother is said to be a nymph. His nature and name are alluring, particularly since often his name is mistakenly thought to be identical to the Greek word pan, meaning "all", when in fact the name of the god is derived from the word pa-on, which means "herdsman" and shares its prefix with the modern English word "pasture". In many ways he seems to be identical to Protogonus/Phanes.

Probably the beginning of the linguistic misunderstanding is the Homeric Hymn to Pan, which describes him as delighting all the gods, and thus getting his name. The Roman counterpart to Pan is Faunus, another version of his name, which is at least Indo-European. But accounts of Pan's genealogy are so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time. Like other nature spirits, Pan appears to be older than the Olympians, if it be true that he gave Artemis her hunting dogs and taught the secret of prophecy to Apollo. Pan might be multiplied as the Panes (Burkert 1985, III.3.2; Ruck and Staples 1994 p 132<ref>Pan "even boasted that he had slept with every maenad that ever was—to facilitate that extraordinary feat, he could be multiplied into a whole brotherhood of Panes.")</ref>) or the Paniskoi. Kerenyi (1951 p 174) notes from scholia that Aeschylus in Rhesus distinguished between two Pans, one the son of Zeus and twin of Arkas, and one a son of Cronos. "In the retinue of Dionysos, or in depictions of wild landscapes, there appeared not only a great Pan, but also little Pans, Paniskoi, who played the same part as the Satyrs".

[edit] Worship

Pan was originally an Arcadian god, and Arcadia was always the principal seat of his worship. Arcadia was a district of primitive mountain folk, whom other Greeks disdained, as the Olympians patronized Pan. Arcadian hunters used to scourge the statue of the god if they had been disappointed in the chase (Theocritus. vii. 107).

Pan inspired sudden fear in lonely places, Panic (panikon deima). Apparently when Pan was a newborn, the first onlookers saw the ugly "child" and ran in fright (or panic). Of course, Pan was later known for his music, capable of arousing inspiration, sexuality, or panic, depending on his intentions. In the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.), it is said that Pan favored the Athenians and so inspired panic in the hearts of their enemies, the Persians.

[edit] Mythology

One of the famous myths of Pan involves the origin of his trademark pan pipes. Syrinx was a beautiful nymph 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 phallus. He was believed by the Greeks to have plied his charms primarily on maidens and shepherds, such as Daphnis. Though he failed with Syrinx and Pitys, Pan didn't fail with the Maenads—he had every one of them, in one orgiastic riot or another. To effect this, Pan was sometimes multiplied into a whole tribe of Panes.

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.

[edit] History and accounts

It is likely that the demonized 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.

If one were to believe the Greek historian Plutarch (in "The Obsolescence of Oracles" (Moralia, Book 5:17)), Pan is the only Greek god who is dead. During the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37), the news of Pan's death came to one Thamus, a sailor on his way to Italy by way of the island of Paxi. A divine voice hailed him across the salt water, "Thamus, are you there? When you reach Palodes, take care to proclaim that the great god Pan is dead." Which Thamus did, and the news was greeted from shore with groans and laments.

Diogenes, speaking in jest, related the myth of Pan learning masturbation from his father, Hermes, and teaching the habit to the shepherds.<ref>Dio Crysostom, Discourses, iv.20</ref>

Robert Graves (The Greek Myths) suggested that the Egyptian Thamus apparently misheard Thamus Pan-megas Tethnece ('the all-great Tammuz is dead') for 'Thamus, Great Pan is dead!' Certainly, when Pausanias toured Greece about a century after Plutarch, he found Pan's shrines, sacred caves and sacred mountains still very much frequented.

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

Pan makes guest appearances in The Wind in the Willows, Jitterbug Perfume and The Circus of Dr. Lao, is the primary, metaphorical theme in Knut Hamsun's Pan, and stars in his own novel, The Great God Pan by Donna Jo Napoli.

[edit] Faunus

Main article: Faunus

In Roman mythology, Pan's counterpart was Faunus, a nature spirit who was the father of Bona Dea (Fauna, his feminine side) and Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also sometimes Faunus' mother).

The Christian author Justin Martyr identified him as Lupercus ("he who wards off the wolf"), the protector of cattle, with a festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple, February 15, called the Lupercalia.

[edit] Pan in fiction

[edit] References

  • Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press.
  • Kerenyi, Karl (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. Thames & Hudson.
  • Ruck, Carl A.P., Danny Staples (1994). The World of Classical Myth. Carolina Academic Press.
  • Borgeaud, Philippe (1979). Recherches sur le Dieu Pan. Geneva University.

[edit] See also

[edit] Note

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[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

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Pan (mythology)

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