Pan, who used to be.

God of the Greeks and Romans. He was native to Arcadia, a mountainous rural region in the Peloponnese, where shepherding was a major occupation. His father was Hermes, the only other important Arcadian god and the mythological inventor of the lyre. He had the torso and head of a man and the legs, tail and horns of a goat. His attributes were primarily musical and amorous, the latter association stemming from the shepherd’s desire for flock fertility. In the 5th century bce his cult spread to Athens, and subsequently to other urban areas of Greece and Rome, where he symbolized pastoral love, revelry and musicality. Pictorially he was shown in the company of nymphs, satyrs, Dionysus and the Muses, sometimes dancing and at other times playing the aulos or more often the syrinx. Cassiodorus and Isidore of Seville attributed to him the invention of a wind instrument called the pandoura.

In mythology he was the subject of two musical myths, both of which are related in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: the story of his invention of the panpipes (i.689–712; see Syrinx) and the story of his musical contest with Phoebus Apollo (xi.153–79).


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