Pan (mythology)

Pan (mythology)

Infobox Greek deity

Caption = Pan teaching his eromenos, the shepherd Daphnis, to play the panpipes 2nd century AD Roman copy of Greek original ca. 100 BC attributed to Heliodorus (found in Pompeii)
Name = Pan
God_of = God of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds and rustic music
Abode = Arcadia
Symbol =
Consort =
Parents = Hermes and Penelope
Mount =
Roman_equivalent = Faunus

Pan (Greek polytonic|Πάν, genitive polytonic|Πανός) is the Greek god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music: "paein" means to pasture. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. He is recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and season of spring.

Pan's ancient Roman equivalent was Faunus, and they were both Horned God deities. For this reason he is popular among many Neopagans and occultic groups.


The parentage of Pan is unclear; in some myths he is the son of Zeus, though generally he is the son of Hermes, with whom his mother is said to be a nymph, sometimes Dryope or, in Nonnus, "Dionysiaca" (14.92), a Penelope of Mantineia in Arcadia. [This is not the Penelope who was the wife of Odysseus.] 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. 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 [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.")] ) 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 Kronos. "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".


The worship of Pan began in Arcadia, and Arcadia was always the principal seat of his worship. Arcadia was a district of mountain people whom other Greeks disdained. 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"). Following the Titans' assault on Olympus, Pan claimed credit for the victory of the gods because he had inspired disorder and fear in the attackers resulting in the word 'panic' to describe these emotions. 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 BC), it is said that Pan favored the Athenians and so inspired panic in the hearts of their enemies, the Persians.


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. ["In this Hermes is clearly out of place. He was one of the youngest sons of Zeus and was brought into the story only because... he was a master-thief. The real participant in the story was Aigipan: the god Pan, that is to say. in his quality of a goat ("aix"). (Kerenyi 1951:28). Kerenyi points out that Python of Delphi had a son Aix (Plutarch, "Moralia" 293c) and detects a note of kinship betrayal.] 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 trademark pan flute. 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 the myth of Pan learning masturbation from his father, Hermes, and teaching the habit to his beloved shepherds. [Dio Chrysostom, "Discourses," vi. 20.]

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.

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.


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 mythFact|date=February 2007 that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aigipan, that is Pan in his goat-god aspect,Kerenyi 1951:95.] 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.


Aegocerus was an epithet of Pan descriptive of his figure with the horns of a goat. [Lucan, ix. 536] [Lucretius, v. 614.]


The worship and belief of Pan has been documented for millennia.

The Death of 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, [ [ "Where or what was 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.

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.

ymbolism of Satan

It is likely that the demonized images of the incubus and even the horns and cloven hooves of Satan, as depicted in much medieval and post-medieval Christian literature and art, were taken from the images of Pan.


Pan is praised and/or worshipped by some Neopagans today, where he is considered a powerful deity and an archetype of male virility and sexuality, called the Horned God. He is particularly worshipped within Hellenic Neopaganism and Wicca. In Wicca, the archetype of the Horned God is highly important, as represented by such deities as the Celtic Cernunnos, Indian Pashupati and of course the Greek Pan.

A modern account of several purported meetings with Pan is given by R. Ogilvie Crombie (born Edinburgh, lived 1899-1975), in the books "The Findhorn Garden" (Harper & Row, 1975) and "The Magic Of Findhorn" (Harper & Row, 1975). Crombie claimed to have met Pan many times at various locations including Edinburgh, on the island of Iona and at the Findhorn Foundation, all in Scotland.


In Roman mythology, Pan's counterpart was Faunus, a nature spirit who was the father of Bona Dea (Fauna, his feminine side)

Other portrayals of Pan

In fiction and literature

Pan is often portrayed in literature, stage, and cinema, as a symbolic or cultural reference. Following are some notable examples:
*"Percy Jackson & The Olympians" by Rick Riordan. He is a character sought out by all the satyrs for their quests.
*"Pan's Labyrinth" by Guillermo del Toro (Spanish title: El Laberinto del Fauno, 2006). Although the faun featured in the film is not Pan, the English title refers to the faun-like god.
*"The Great God Pan" by Arthur Machen.
*"The Blessing of Pan" by Lord Dunsany.
*"The Goat-foot God" by Dion Fortune
*"The Touch of Pan" by Algernon Blackwood.
*"The Garden at 19" and "The Horned Shepard" by Edgar Jepson.
*"Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins, Pan plays a prominent role throughout the whole plot.
*"The Great God Pan" by Donna Jo Napoli.
*"Tales Of Pan", children's book by Mordicai Gerstein.
*Pan is one of the main characters is "Journey into Nature: A Spiritual Adventure" by Michael J. Roads.
*"Pan - God of The Woods" by Lawrence Spencer.
*"Rainbows Falling on My Head : The Magic of the Great God Pan" by Al G. Manning.
*"Pan : Great God of Nature" by Leo Vinci
*"News For The Delphic Oracle", poem by William Butler Yeats, in the collection "Last Poems" (1939).
*"Pan With Us" by Robert Frost, Poem 26 from "A Boy's Will".
*"The Lawnmower Man" by Stephen King.
*"The Call of Wings" by Agatha Christie
*In the short story "The Magic Barrel" by Bernard Malamud, main character Pinye Salzman is compared to Pan.
*"Hymn To Pan" by Aleister Crowley.
*"A Musical Instrument" and "The Dead Pan", poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
*Pan, as god of the beasts, appears in "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", chapter 7 of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
*"Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon
*Pan appears in "The Circus of Dr. Lao" and its movie adaptation, "7 Faces of Dr. Lao".
*Pan is the primary, metaphorical theme in Knut Hamsun's "Pan"
*Appears in "Greenmantle" (1988) by Charles de Lint and in "Cloven Hooves" by Megan Lindholm (1991)
*George Pérez's first Wonder Woman story shows a duplicitous Pan tricking Princess Diana. He fools everyone, including Hermes, who is horrified when informed of Pan's death after he has been shown an image of Pan's horned skull in the dirt and vows revenge.
*Pan appears at the end of a short cartoon named 'Ramble On' by Tom Parkinson.
*Pan is described, metaphorically, as "the/ goat-footed/ baloonMan" in E.E. Cummings's poem, ["in Just-"] ,
*Pan appears as Mr. Tumnus in C. S. Lewis' books "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (1950), "TCN: The Horse and His Boy" (1954), and "TCN: The Last Battle" (1956). See Narnia for all three references.
*Pan is mentioned in the episode Who Mourns for Adonais? The character Apollo, an alien who visited Earth with his companions during the time of the Greeks and thus inspired Greek mythology, says that Mr Spock 'reminds [him] of Pan. I never liked him'.
*In Percy Jackson & The Olympians Grover is searching for Pan, who has vanished 2,000 years ago.
*"Shepherds of Pan on the Big Sur-Monterey Coast" by Elayne Wareing Fitzpatrick.
*"Screams of Pan" by Jason Fury.
*"Pan", a double-villanelle by Oscar Wilde.
*Pan-like character, Phil the Satyr, voiced by actor Danny DeVito in animated Disney film "Hercules"

In music

*"Pan and Syrinx" by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen.
*Boujeloud by Master Musicians of Joujouka.
*"The Pan Within" and "The Return of Pan", two songs by The Waterboys.
*Animal Collective has a song entitled "I See You Pan" on their release Hollinndagain..
*In the original programme for Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony the first movement had the subtitle 'Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In'.
*"Dryades et Pan" is the last of three "Myths" for violin and piano, Op. 30, by Karol Szymanowski.
*"On Becoming Water", "Praise Pan, Great God Pan", and "Transformation Mantra" by Prim Family.
*In "Joueur de flute" by Albert Roussel, one of the four movements is after Pan
*Johann Johannsson, The Great God Pan is Dead.
*"La Flute de Pan" (Pan et les Bergers, Pan et l'oiseaux, Pan et les Nymphes) by Jules Mouquet

In video games

*Pan is a high-level antagonist in the computer game "Freedom Force". He plays a Pan flute that hypnotizes player characters into attacking their allies.

*Pan appears in as a satyr playing a magical flute with hypnotic abilities.

*Pan appears as a Greek god in Dungeons and Dragons.



*cite book|authorlink=Walter Burkert|last=Burkert|first=Walter|year=1985|title=Greek Religion|publisher=Harvard University Press
*cite book|authorlink=Karl Kerenyi|last=Kerenyi|first=Karl|year=1951|title=The Gods of the Greeks|publisher=Thames & Hudson
*cite book|last=Ruck|first=Carl A.P.|coauthors=Danny Staples|year=1994|title=The World of Classical Myth|publisher=Carolina Academic Press|isbn=0-89089-575-9
*cite book|last=Borgeaud|first=Philippe|year=1979|title=Recherches sur le Dieu Pan|publisher=Geneva University
*Vinci, Leo (1993), "Pan: Great God Of Nature", Neptune Press, London

ee also

*Erotic art in Pompeii
*Daveli's Cave

External links

* [ The story of Pan and Daphnis]
* [ Original resources on Faunus/Phaunos]
* [ Original resources on Pan]
* [ Pan Mythology]

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