Pan: The God of Nature in Greek Mythology


     Pan was, in Greek Mythology, the God of Nature in General, it is this deity who takes care of shepherds, herds, animals... He is known for fleeing from Typhon and giving rise to the sign of Capricorn.

Pan in Greek Mythology:

     Pan, in Greek Mythology, is the God of woods, fields, flocks and shepherds. He lives in caves and roams the valleys and mountains, hunting or dancing with the nymphs. He is represented with the ears, horns and legs of a goat, a lover of music, he always carries a flute with him.

     He is feared by all who pass through the forests at night, for the darkness and solitude of the crossing predispose them to sudden dread, devoid of any apparent cause, and who are obliged to Pan; hence the term "panic". Pan fell in love with the naiad Sirinx, who disdainfully rejected her love, refusing to accept him as her lover because he was neither man nor goat.

Pan, Typhon and Capricorn:

     Pan then pursued her, but Sirinx, reaching the bank of the River Ladon and seeing that he had no longer any chance of escape, asked the river nymphs, like naiads, to change their shape. These, listening as her prayers, granted her request and turned her into a reed. When Pan reached it and wanted to grab it, there was nothing but the reed and the sound the air made as it passed through. Hearing that sound, Pan was delighted and decided to gather reeds of different sizes, inventing a musical instrument which he named Syrinx, in honor of the nymph. This musical instrument is best known as the pan flute, in honor of the god himself.

     Pan would have been one of the sons of Zeus with his wet nurse, an Amalthea goat. His great love however was Selene, a Moon. In an Egyptian version, Pan was with other gods on the banks of the Nile River and Typhon, enemy of the gods, emerged. Fear transformed each of the gods into animals and Pan, frightened, plunged into a river and thus disguised half of his body, leaving only the head and the upper part of the body, which resembled that of a goat; the submerged part adopted an aquatic appearance. Zeus considered this stratagem of Pan very clever and, as a tribute, turned it into a constellation, which would be Capricorn. In fact, it was Zeus who later defeated Typhon.

Pan in Rome:

     The Latins also called him Faun and Silvanus and he became a symbol of the world because he was associated with nature and symbolized the universe. In Rome he was called Lupertius, he is the god of shepherds and his festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the foundation of his temple, called Lupercalia, on 15, 16 and 17 February.

     Pan is associated with a cave where Romulus and Remus were nursed by a wolf. The priests who worshiped him dressed in goatskin. In the last days of Rome, ferocious wolves roamed near houses. The Romans then invited Luperco to keep the wolves at bay.