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Tales beyond belief

Pan for kids
Discover the myths surrounding Pan, the Olympian god of shepherds, goatherds, pastures, music and fertility. Pan was depicted vigorous and lustful man with the horns, pointed ears, and furred legs of a goat. He was famous for playing his pan-pipes and chasing Nymphs. Pan inspired terror in humans by his shrill voice, and the word 'panic' derives from his name. Pan was the son of Hermes the Olympian messenger of the gods.

Who was Pan?
He was the son of the god Hermes although there is some debate as to the identity of his mother. He was a great lover of music, singing, dancing, and all pursuits which enhance the pleasures of life. He was one of the extraordinary number of gods and goddesses worshipped by the Ancient Greeks and a favorite of the Olympian god despite his repulsive appearance. His name derives from the word 'pantes' meaning Ďallí because he "delighted all their hearts." The legend and myth about this ancient Greek god of fertility, shepherds and music has been passed down through the ages and plays an important role in the history of the Ancient World of Greece and the study of the Greek classics.

Facts about Pan
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of of the god:

  • Greek Name: Pan

  • Role & Function: His role and function is described as being the god of the wild, shepherds, pastures, goatherds, fertility and music

  • Status: Occasionally included amongst the names of the Olympians
    Symbols: Pan-pipes, shepherd's crook

  • Gender: Male

  • Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for this god was Faunus or Silvanus
    Name of Father: Hermes

  • Name of Mother: Unknown

  • Names of Children: Acis was his son by the Nymph Symaethis. The Panes, rustic spirits of mountains and pastures who had a similar appearance to their father.

The Mother of Pan
According to Greek legends and myths the name of his mother is generally undisclosed because his appearance so frightened her that she ran away. His mother has been variously identified as the nymph Callisto, a hunting companion of the goddess Artemis, Iris the rainbow goddess, Penelope the wife of Odysseus or Penelope, the daughter of King Dryops. He was raised by Sinoe, an Oread nymph of Mount Sinoe who became the the teacher of Pan.

Pan (Roman Counterpart was Faunus or Silvanus)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of this ancient Greek was Faunus or Silvanus.

The Pipes of Pan
The musical instrument called the Pipes of Pan are depicted in many representations of this ancient Greek god. The Pipes of Pan are a primitive wind instrument consisting of several parallel pipes, made of reeds that are tied together. The pan pipes are considered to be the first mouth organ and usually consist of five or more pipes of gradually increasing length and, occasionally width. The Pipes of Pan relate to the mythology of this rustic god and the Arcadian Nymph called Syrinx. The nymph, Syrinx, was beautiful and desired by many of the gods. Pan fell in love with her but she refused his advances disdaining him as neither man nor goat. He pursued her relentlessly and she became trapped by a stream she was unable to cross. There was no visible escape so Syrinx asked to the Nymphs of the river to help her. The river nymphs transformed her into marsh reeds, all that was left of Syrinx were the reeds. Pan created the pan pipes, its eerie sound reminding him of his lost love. The pan-pipes are alternatively called the Pandean pipe or the syrinx.

Pan in Greek Mythology - the lover of Nymphs
Pan was notorious as a lover of nymphs. The nymphs he was particularly associated with were the Dryads and the Oreads who were minor goddesses of nature. The Dryads were the nymphs of the forest, woods and groves and the Oreads were the nymphs of the mountains, grottoes, rocky precipices and ravines. Most of the nymphs were horrified at his advances and ran from him. Syrinx ran away from the god and was transformed into a clump of marsh reeds, out of which the god made his famous pan-pipes. Pitys  was an an Oread nymph who was pursued by Pan. Pitys was changed by the gods into a a mountain fir, the god's sacred tree in order to escape him.

Gods and Deities
Greek Gods and Goddesses

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