Pan (god)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Pan (disambiguation)

Pan (Πάν, genitive Πανός), in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein (Πάειν), meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism.

In Roman religion and myth, Pan's counterpart was Faunus, a nature god who was the father of Bona Dea, sometimes identified as Fauna. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Pan became a significant figure in the Romantic movement of western Europe, and also in the 20th-century Neopagan movement.

Contents

Overview

Pan in Greek religion and mythology, is the companion of the nymphs, god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein, meaning "to pasture". He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism.

In Roman mythology, Pan's counterpart was Faunus, a nature spirit who was the father of Bona Dea (Fauna). In the 18th and 19th centuries, Pan became a significant figure in the Romantic movement of western Europe, and also in the 20th century Neopagan movement.

Origins

In his earliest appearance in literature, Pindar's Pythian Ode iii. 78, Pan is associated with a mother goddess, perhaps Rhea or Cybele; Pindar refers to virgins worshipping Cybele and Pan near the poet's house in Boeotia.

The parentage of Pan is unclear; in some myths he is the son of Zeus, though generally he is the son of Hermes or Dionysus, with whom his mother is said to be a nymph, sometimes Dryope or, in Nonnus, Dionysiaca (14.92), Penelope of Mantineia in Arcadia. This nymph at some point in the tradition became conflated with Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Pausanias 8.12.5 records the story that Penelope had in fact been unfaithful to her husband, who banished her to Mantineia upon his return. Other sources (Duris of Samos; the Vergilian commentator Servius) report that Penelope slept with all 108 suitors in Odysseus' absence, and gave birth to Pan as a result. This myth reflects the folk etymology that equates Pan's name (Πάν) with the Greek word for "all" (πᾶν). It is more likely to be cognate with paein, "to pasture", and to share an origin with the modern English word "pasture". In 1924, Hermann Collitz, in the essay "Wodan, Hermes und Pushan," suggested that Greek Pan and Indic Pushan might have a common Indo-European origin. In the Mystery cults of the highly syncretic Hellenistic era Pan is made cognate with Phanes/Protogonos, Zeus, Dionysus and Eros.

The Roman Faunus, a god of Indo-European origin, was equated with Pan. However, 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 is 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) 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 Arcas, and one a son of Cronus. "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".

Etymology

Three different interpretations exist regarding the etymology of Pan. The first, the Homeric Hymn to Pan, describes him as delighting all the gods, and thus getting his name. It is claimed that Pan, Πάν derives from πᾶν, neuter nominative singular of πᾶς "every" because "he delighted all". The second, much in favor today, considers a Pan a cognate with paein, "to pasture", which shares an origin with the modern English word "pasture" (Edwin L. Brown, "The Divine Name 'Pan'"). In 1924, Hermann Collitz, in the essay "Wodan, Hermes und Pushan," suggested that Greek Pan and Indic Pushan might have a common Indo-European origin.

Mythology

The goat-god Aegipan was nurtured by Amalthea with the infant Zeus in Crete. In Zeus' battle with Typhon, Aegipan and Hermes stole back Zeus' "sinews" that Typhon had hidden away in the Corycian Cave. Pan aided his foster-brother in the battle with the Titans by blowing his conch-horn and scattering them in terror. According to some traditions, Aegipan was the son of Pan, rather than his father.

One of the famous myths of Pan involves the origin of his pan flute, fashioned from lengths of hollow reed. Syrinx was a lovely water-nymph of Arcadia, daughter of Landon, the river-god. As she was returning from the hunt one day, Pan met her. To escape from his importunities, the fair nymph ran away and didn't stop to hear his compliments. He pursued from Mount Lycaeum until she came to her sisters who immediately changed her into a reed. When the air blew through the reeds, it produced a plaintive melody. The god, still infatuated, took some of the reeds, because he could not identify which reed she became, and cut seven pieces (or according to some versions, nine), joined them side by side in gradually decreasing lengths, and formed the musical instrument bearing the name of his beloved Syrinx. Henceforth Pan was seldom seen without it.

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.

Erotic aspects

Pan is famous for his sexual powers, and is often depicted with an erect phallus. Diogenes of Sinope, speaking in jest, related a myth of Pan learning masturbation from his father, Hermes, and teaching the habit to shepherds.

He was believed by the Greeks to have plied his charms primarily on maidens and shepherds. 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.

Pan's greatest conquest was that of the moon goddess Selene. He accomplished this by wrapping himself in a sheepskin to hide his hairy black goat form, and drew her down from the sky into the forest where he seduced her.

Pan and music

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 judgement. He dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer, and turned Midas' ears into those of a donkey. In another version of the myth the first round of the contest was a tie so they were forced to go to a second round. In this round, Apollo demanded that they play standing on their heads. Apollo, playing on the lyre, was unaffected, however Pan's pipe couldn't be played while upsidedown, so Apollo won the contest.

Capricornus

The constellation Capricornus is often depicted as a sea-goat, a goat with a fish's tail: see Aigaion or Briareos, one of the Hecatonchires. One mythTemplate:Fact that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aegipan, that is Pan in his goat-god aspect, was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.

Epithets

Aegocerus "goat-horned" was an epithet of Pan descriptive of his figure with the horns of a goat.

See also




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