Pan (2)

Pan is the name of the chief god of pastures, forests, and flocks among the ancient Greeks. The later rationalizing mythologists, misconceiving the meaning of his name (Πάν), which they confounded with τὸ πᾶν, "the whole" or "the universe," whereas it is more probably connected with πάω (Lat. pasco), "to feed," "to pasture," represented him as a personification of the universe; but there is absolutely nothing in the myth to warrant such a notion. Pan neither in his genius nor his history figures as one of the great principal deities, and his worship became general only at a comparatively late period. He was, according to the most common belief, a son of Hermes (Mercury) by the daughter of Dryops; or by Penelope, the wife of Ulysses; while other accounts make Penelope the mother, but Ulysses himself the father — though the paternity of the god is also ascribed to the numerous wooers of Penelope in common. The original seat of his worship was the wild, hilly, and wooded solitudes of Arcadia, whence it gradually spread over the rest of Greece, but was not introduced into Athens until after the battle of Marathon. Homer does not mention him. His personal appearance is variously described. After the age of Praxiteles he is represented with horns, a goat's beard, a crooked nose, pointed ears, a tail, and goat's feet. The legend goes that his strange appearance so frightened his mother that she ran off for fear; but his father, Herpies, carried him to Olympus, where all the gods, especially Dionysus (Bacchus), were charmed with the little monster. When he grew up he had a grim, shaggy aspect and a terrible voice, which bursting abruptly on the ear of the traveler in solitary places — for Pan was fond of making a great noise- inspired him with a sudden fear (whence the word panic). It is even related that the alarm excited by his blowing upon a shell decided the victory of the gods over the Titans. Previous to the age of Praxiteles Pan was usually represented in a human form, and was characterized by the shepherd's pipe, the pastoral crook, the disordered hair, and also sprouting horns.

Pan was the patron of all persons occupied in the .care of cattle and of bees. in hunting and in fishing. During the heat of the day he used to take a nap in the deep woods or on the lonely hill-sides, and was exceedingly wroth if his slumber was disturbed by the halloo of the hunters. He is also represented as fond of music, and of dancing with the forest nymphs, and as the inventor of the syrinx or shepherd's flute, also called Pan's pipe. Cows, goats, lambs, milk, honey, and new wine were offered to him. The fir-tree was sacred to him, and he had sanctuaries and temples in various parts of Arcadia — at Treezene, at Sicyon, at Athens, etc. The Romans identified the Greek Pan with their own Italian god Inuus, and sometimes also with Faunus. His festivals, called by the Greeks Lyccea, were brought to Italy by Evander, and they were well known at Rome by the name of the Lupercalia. The worship and the different functions of Pan are derived from the mythology of the ancient Egyptians. This god was one of the eight great gods of the Egyptians, who ranked before the other twelve gods, whom the Romans called Consentes. He was worshipped with the greatest solemnity all over Egypt. His statues represented him as a goat, not because he was really such, but this was done for mysterious reasons. He was the emblem of fecundity. and they looked upon him as the principle of all things. His horns, as some observe, represented the rays of the sun, and the brightness of the heavens was expressed by the vivacity and the ruddiness of his complexion. The star which he wore on his breast was the symbol of the firmament, and his hairy legs and feet denoted the inferior parts of the earth such as the woods and plants. Some suppose that he appeared as a goat because when the gods fled into Egypt, in their war against the giants, Pan transformed himself into a goat, an example which was immediately followed by all the deities.

When, after the establishment of Christianity, the heathen deities were degraded by the Church into fallen angels, the characteristics of Pan — viz. the horns, the goat's beard, the pointed ears, the crooked nose, the tail, and the goat's feet — were transferred to the devil himself, and thus the "Auld Hornie" of popular superstition is simply Pan in disguise. See Chambers, Cyclop. s.v.; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Romans Biog. and Mythol. s.v.; Vollmer, Mythol. Wortelbuch, p. 1283, 1284; Westcott, Handbook of Archaeology, p. 186.

Definition of pan

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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