English 9H/Period 2 24 September 2015



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BA Super Student

Mrs. Obbagy

English 9H/Period 2

24 September 2015

A Closer Look at Pan
Bearing the image of a satyr (half man, half goat), Pan, whose name means all in the Greek, is one of the most easily identifiable gods in Greek mythology. Also of interest is the fact that he is the only Greek god to ever have been reported to have died (Plutarch). He plays a significant role in several myths, revealing the varied sides of his personality, including his pride, his lust, and his compassion as well as his connection to the origin of such things as feelings of panic and the creation of musical pipes. Although not one of the twelve Olympians, Pan is anything but a dull figure as he is a far more complex and significant character than simply a frolicking, pipe-playing, woodland creature.

The origins of Pan are widely disputed and greatly divergent. One account from Greek Mythology.com lists him as the son of Zeus and Callisto. Another links him to Dionysius. One radical account actually lists him as the son of Oysseus' wife Penelope (prior to their marriage) and either Hermes or Apollo, but this is said to be conflation of the Penelope of the Odyssey and a wood nymph named Penelope. Yet another lesser known account tells of Pan’s being present before the creation of the Olympians as the son of a mother-goddess such as Rhea or Cybele. However, the most mainstream origin story for Pan relates him as the son of Hermes or Dionysius and a wood nymph (Wikipedia).  In all accounts, however, one side of his parentage is that of a greater god.

               Pan's appearance and symbols are easily some of the most recognizable in Greek mythology. As a satyr, he is the half man, half goat, who is often depicted in art with pointed ears a "stubby nose" and a "bit on the short side. But not unattractive in the original bad-boy sense" (deTraci).  These features, as well as his symbols with which he is connected, make him easy to spot. The rustic flute (an instrument explained in the myth involving Syrinx), the Pine tree (his sacred tree), as well as woods and pastures in general are all associated with Pan, who spent much of his time chasing nymphs through the woods, making music or creating mysterious noises which would put frightened travelers in a panic.

While his appearance and symbols are quite telling, three myths associated with Pan provide even greater insight into this interesting deity. One myth, featuring Pan and Apollo, reveals Pan's prideful and competitive side. According to Scott Littleton, "in the ancient world, [Pan} was renowned for his musicianship." He was called to compete in a sort of musical showdown with Apollo:

Pan had earlier boasted that the god's skill was inferior to his own. The judge was the mountain god Tmolus. Apollo played on a lyre inlaid with gems and ivory, an ornate instrument that contrasted sharply with the crude pipes that Pan played on. Tmolus was entranced by the god's music and declared the sun god the victor (Littleton).

Though declared the loser by Tmolus, Pan was also declared the winner by King Midas, who was also listening. (In this version of the myth, it was Midas' declaring victory for Pan that secured for himself the donkey ears given to him by Apollo.) Cleary, Pan considered himself a worthy opponent of the sun god himself to make such a boast, and clearly Apollo must have viewed his musical ability a threat to have resorted to using such a bejeweled instrument.

In another famous Pan myth, he is portrayed as lustful. One day Pan spotted the lovely wood nymph Syrinx as she as hunting, which was her passion. He was so taken with her that he decided to chase her through the woods. She, however, did not wish to be caught, so just before he was about to catch her, she begged the river god to help her. He responded by turning her into a reed, which was all Pan got to embrace.  It was his sighing into the reeds and hearing the delightful sound that emanated from them that caused him to bundle up the reeds into a sort of flute or pipes, which he named Syrinx and which enabled him to take his beloved Syrinx with him everywhere (Hatzitsinidou).

Although Pan could bring a sense of irrational fear to travelers by creating frightening sounds, and despite the fact that he chased after nymphs who did not desire his attention, Pan also had a sensitive side, which is displayed in the myth involving Pitys. This myth shows him chasing the nymph Pitys through the woods. His wooing in this case was deemed "unlawful" because she "hated marriage.” In this version, she was so determined to get away from his advances, that she "disappeared into the soil herself. Another version, however, claims that Pitys was so beautiful that both Pan and the north wind, Boreas, were taken with her. She, however, favored Pan because his music was not as loud. Boreas was so angered by this that he threw her from a rock where Pan later found her unconscious. Taking pity on her, Pan turned her into a Pine tree. It is from this myth that we are to understand the appearance of sap weeping from the tree: When the north wind blows, her tear drops are the droplets of pine resin that dribble down each autumn of the year” (Hatzitsinidou).

In ancient times Pan was worshipped in the highlands of Greece and continues to be so today in other cults of Pan. He has been memorialized in paintings and sculptures for centuries. Though today he is viewed by many as simply a mischievous, playful figure, the many sides to Pan's personality are seen in the memorable myths connected with him. A player of pipes, a chaser of nymphs, the creator of panic, and at times a giver of comfort, the satyr Pan, though not an Olympian, is definitely a significant member of the cast of characters depicted in Greek mythology and far more complex than many may realize.
Works Cited1

DeTraci, Regula. "Fast Facts On: Pan Greek Goat God Gets Going." About.com Greece Travel. About.com, 2014. Web. 09 July 2014.

Hatzitsinidou, Evangelina. "Monsters and Creatures »Satyrs » Pan, the God of the Shepherds." Greek Gods Myths. N.p., 14 June 2014. Web. 09 July 2014.

Littleton, C. Scott. Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2005. Print.

Plutarch. "The Obsolescence of Oracles." Loeb Classical Library Edition 1936, 16 Mar. 2010. Web. 09 Sept. 2014.

Wikipedia contributors. "Pan (god)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Jul. 2014. Web. 9 Sep. 2014. 2





1 I have 5 sources listed here, so all 5 will appear in the paper at least once. You will have a minimum of 3 sources listed, and they must all appear cited in the body of your paper.

2 Because I have 5 sources, it is alright to have the Wikipedia as one of my sources. If I had only 3 sources, then I could not use the Wikipedia.



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