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    Gods and Goddesses : Pan

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    Soaring Bird
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    Gods and Goddesses : Pan

    Post  Soaring Bird on Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:47 pm

    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.



    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 is 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[1]) 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".

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    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.

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    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.

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