Fast Facts on: Pan

Greek goat god gets going

Bronze Of Pan Above Town With Ocean
••• Axiom Photographic / Getty Images

Pan's Appearance: Horned, furry, half-man, half-goat, a bit on the short side. But not unattractive in the original bad-boy sense.

Pan's Symbol or Attribute: His goat horns. His "pan-pipe", a curved row of small flutes also called the "syrinx" - Syrinx was a maiden who turned herself into reeds to hide from Pan.

Pan's Strengths: Lusty. An able musician.

Pan's Weaknesses: Lusty. Also likes noise and loud music.

Can incite 'panic', a mindless fear or rage, sometimes at the order of the goddess Rhea. Not adverse to tearing people apart on occasion. May smell a bit musky or goat-like.

Pan's Birthplace: Usually said to be the son of Hermes and Dryope, a tree-nymph, he is associated with Arcadia, a beautiful but wild part of Greece. Penelope is also sometimes said to be his mother; his father is invariably Hermes.

Spouse: Aix or Aex, a nymph who was a goat or who could take the form of a goat. relative unknown in the mythology of Greece. She may be related to Amaltheia, the nymph who hid and nursed Zeus in the Diktaian Cave. Aix also had a child by Zeus.

Children of Pan: Twelve "panes", also part goat like their father; numerous other children. However, Pan's spouse Aix is not usually identified as the mother of the Panes. A human-goat nature spirit would be referred to as "a Pan" rather than as Pan himself.

Some Major Temple Sites of Pan: Pan had many sanctuaries, especially in Arcadia. The ancient travel writer Pausanias mentions temples and altars to him at Lykosoura, Despoine, at the river Garates, and near Tegea.

Basic Myth: Pan is the god who watches over flocks, forests, mountains, and all wild things.

He shares this aspect with Apollo. While he is usually despoiling maidens and others, he can also be gentle and is said to have talked Psyche out of committing suicide over her thwarted love for the god  Eros - another divinity who may have been considerably downsized over time.

Interesting Facts About Pan: The name "Pan" means "All" and some believe that Pan was originally a much more powerful, all-encompassing god who got downsized with the advent of the Olympians. Less well-known tales give him powers as a sea-god with the epithet Haliplanktos, as a healer of epidemics through cures revealed in dreams, as an oracle-god, and many other aspects. The relation of Pan to epidemics is another aspect he shares with Apollo, along with both gods being involved with music. The surprising sea-god of Pan aspect was a subject of debate even among ancient writers, who couldn't quite figure out how that happened, indicating that it was so ancient a tradition that it was forgotten even in classical times.

Pan in Literature

Possibly the most famous "Pan" in literature is "Peter Pan", though a clear connection with the nature god is a little obscure. In the sense of freedom and an outlaw quality, the Greek Pan may have inspired some of the personality of Peter Pan, and the Lost Boys may in their own way represent the sons of Pan.

This FAQ on Peter Pan addresses the issue.

More Fast Facts on Greek Gods and Goddesses:

Olympian Gods and Goddesses - Greek Gods and Goddesses at Home - Aphrodite - Apollo - Ares - Artemis - Athena - Demeter - Hades - Hercules Hermes - Pan - Persephone - Poseidon - Zeus.

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