1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pan (mythology)
PAN (“pasturer”), in Greek mythology, son of Hermes and one of the daughters of Dryops ( “oak-man”), or of Zeus and the nymph Callisto, god of shepherds, flocks and forests. He is not mentioned in Homer or Hesiod. The most poetical account of his birth and life is given in the so-called Homeric hymn To Pan. He was born with horns, a goat's beard and feet and a tail, his person being completely covered with hair. His mother was so alarmed at his appearance that she fled; but Hermes took him to Olympus, where he became the favourite of the gods, especially Dionysus. His life and characteristics are typical of the old shepherds and goatherds. He was essentially a rustic god, "a wood-spirit conceived in the form of a goat," living in woods and caves, and traversing the tops of the mountains; he protected and gave fertility to flocks; he hunted and fished; and sported and danced with the mountain nymphs. A lover of music, he invented the shepherd's pipe, said to have been made from the reed into which the nymph Syrinx was transformed when fleeing from his embraces (Ovid, Metam. i. 691 sqq.). With a kind of trumpet formed out of a shell he terrified the Titans in their light with the Olympian gods. By his unexpected appearance he sometimes inspires men with sudden terror—hence the expression “panic” fear. Like other spirits of the woods and fields, he possesses the power of inspiration and prophecy, in which he is said to have instructed Apollo. As a nature-god he was brought into connexion with Cybcle and Dionysus, the latter of whom he accompanied on his Indian expedition. Associated with Pan is a number of Panisci, male and female forest imps, his wives and children, who send evil dreams and apparitions to terrify mankind. His original home was Arcadia; his cult was introduced into Athens at the time of the battle of Marathon, when he promised his assistance against the Persians if the Athenians in return would worship him. A cave was consecrated to him on the north side of the Acropolis, where he was annually honoured with a sacrifice and a torch race (Herodotus vi. 105). In later times, by a misinterpretation of his name (or from the identification of the Greek god with the ram-headed Egyptian god Chnum, the creator of the world), he was pantheistic ally conceived as the universal god (τὸ πᾶν). The pine and oak were sacred to him, and his offerings were goats, lambs, cows, new wine, honey and milk. The Romans identified him with Inuus and Faunus.
In art Pan is represented in two different aspects. Sometimes he has goat's feet and horns, curly hair and a long beard, half animal, half man; sometimes he is a handsome youth, with long flowing hair, only characterized by horns just beginning to grow, the shepherd's crook and pipe. In bas-reliefs he is often shown presiding over the dances of nymphs, whom he is sometimes pursuing in a state of intoxication. He has furnished some of the attributes of the ordinary conception of the devil. The story (alluded to by Milton, Rabelais, Mrs Browning and Schiller) of the pilot Thamus, who, sailing near the island of Paxi in the time of Tiberius, was commanded by a mighty voice to proclaim that “Pan is dead,” is found in Plutarch (De orac. defectu, 17). As this story coincided with the birth (or crucifixion) of Christ it was thought to herald the end of the old world and the beginning of the new. According to Roscher (in Neue Jahrbücher für Philologie, 1892) it was of Egyptian origin, the name Thamus being connected with Thmouis, a town in the neighbourhood of Mendes, distinguished for the worship of the ram; according to Herodotus (ii. 46), in Egyptian the goat and Pan were both called Mendes. S. Reinach suggests that the words uttered by the “voice” were θαμοῦς, θαμοῦς, πάνμεγας, τέθνηκε (“Tammuz, Tammuz, the all-great, is dead”), and that it was merely the lament for the “great Tammuz” or Adonis (see L. R. Farnell in The Year's Work in Classical Studies, 1907).
See W. Gebhard, Pankultus (Brunswick, 1872); P. Wetzel, De Jove et Pane dis arcadicis (Breslau, 1873); W. Immerwahr, Kulte et Mythen Arkadiens (1891), vol. i., and V. Berard, De l'Origine des cultes arcadiens (1894), who endeavour to show that Pan is a sungod (φαν, φαίνω); articles by W. H. Roscher in Lexikon der Mythologie and by J. A. Hild in Daremberg and Saglio's Dictionnaire des Antiquités; E. E. Sikes in Classical Review (1895), ix. 70; O. Gruppe, Griechische Mythologie (1906), vol. ii.