Pan the Greek God

Painting of Satyr Playing the Pipe by Jordaens

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Pan—or Faunus in Roman mythology—is the noisy goat-footed god of the Greeks. He looks after shepherds and woods, is a capable musician, and invented the instrument named after him—panpipes. He leads the nymphs in dances and stirs up panic. He is worshiped in Arcadia and is associated with sexuality.

Pan's Family of Origin

Pan was born in Arcadia. There are various versions of the birth of Pan. In one, his parents are Zeus and Hybris. In another, the most common version, his father is Hermes; his mother, a nymph. In another version of his birth, Pan's parents are Penelope, wife of Odysseus and her mate, Hermes or, possibly, Apollo. In the bucolic Greek poet of the third century B.C. Theocritus, Odysseus is his father.

Attributes of Pan

The attributes or symbols associated with Pan are woods, pastures, and the syrinx—a flute. He is depicted with goat's feet and two horns and wearing a lynx-pelt. In the Pan painter's vase, a goat-headed and tailed young Pan pursues a youth.

Pan's Death

In Plutarch's Moralia, he reports a rumor about the death of Pan, who as a god, couldn't die, at least in principle.

Sources

Ancient sources for Pan include Apollodorus, Cicero, Euripides, Herodotus, Hyginus, Nonnius, Ovid, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato, Statius, and Theocritus.

Timothy Gantz' Early Greek Myths itemizes many details about the Pan traditions.