Today I’ll be talking about Pan. Not this Pan: (though Peter is wonderful and has some of the attributes associated with Pan).
Rather, this Pan, the Greek god of shepherds, the forest, and the wilderness. He was also associated with fertility, and made many advances toward unsuspecting nymphs, accidentally creating the mountain pine tree (Pitys) and the reeds which make his signature pipes (Syrinx) since the nymphs transformed themselves into these plants to escape him. Ekho had a worse fate, since she rejected the love of any man. Pan had his followers kill her and scatter her about the earth. Gaia, the earth goddess, collected her and restored her partially, however Ekho was forced to only be able to repeat the last words from someone else, and could never speak for herself.
So who was Pan? What caused the Greeks to think he caused as many things as he did?
Pan is essentially the father of the wild things, a creature with the legs and horns of a goat and the torso and face of a man. He was also supposedly the father of the saytres (Greek) and Fauns (Roman), and therefore, because of him, we get one of our favorite fictional characters: Mr. Tumnus.
But that’s beside the point. Pan was attributed as the cause of the dangers of the forest. If something strange happened while traveling through the wilderness, the ancients associated it with Pan. He was the cause of the musical sound of the wind through the trees, he was the reason your voice bounced back to you (in a roundabout way . . . this was Ekho, after all). He caused panics and craziness, and it was his partying that brought spring to the world.
The Romans knew this god as Faunus, and he had much the same attributes, though Faunus didn’t gain horns until the Romans started claiming the Greek deities.
Pan’s symbols include the pan pipes, the wilderness, shepherds, and blossoming plants. How does this compare to our beloved Peter Pan?
They’re similar in more ways than just their names, as both are known for their flutes and their tendency toward wild things, shown both in Peter Pan’s hideout, the animal costumes of the lost boys, and the original translation of the word Pan: rugged.
What myth should I do next? Do you agree with my comparison of Pan and Peter? Let me know in the comments or on social media.