Friday, December 4, 2020

Pan: Purveyor of Music and Panic

 In Greek mythology, Syrinx was a forest Nymph. In her attempt to escape the affection of the god Pan (god of the wild, shephers, and flocks with the hindquarters, legs and horns of a goat), she was transformed into a water-reed or calamos (cane-reed). Then, Pan cut several reeds, placed them in parallel one next to the other, and bound them together to make a melodic musical instrument. Ancient Greeks called this instrument Syrinx, in honour of the Muse, and Pandean, or Pan-pipes or Pan-flute, after Pan. The Syrinx, a predominantly pastoral instrument for the Greeks, was adopted by the Etruscans who played it at their festivals and banquets called it a fistula. The Romans adopted both Pan, whose Roman counterpart was Faunus, father or Bona Dea, and the Syrinx from the Greeks and the Etruscans, and they too played it at their banquets, festivals, as well as in religious and funeral processions.

Despite Homer's account of the chaste nature of Odysseus' wife Penelope in "The Odyssey", some ancient writers, including Pausanias, Duris of Samos, and the Vergilian commentator Servius, attribute the birth of Pan to Penelope's unfaithfulness while Odysseus was away at the Trojan War.  Pausanius simply claims she was unfaithful, while Duris and Servius claim she slept with all 108 suitors in Odysseus' absence, and gave birth to Pan as a result. In other accounts, Pan, like other nature spirits, appears to be older than the Olympians, considering myths where he gave Artemis her hunting dogs and taught the secret of prophecy to Apollo.  In "Rhesus," Aeschylus  distinguishes between two Pans, one the son of Zeus and twin of Arcas, and one a son of Cronus saying "In the retinue of Dionysos, or in depictions of wild landscapes, there appeared not only a great Pan, but also little Pans, Paniskoi, who played the same part as the Satyrs."

Although Pan was associated with the sweet music of his pipes, his angry shout was also known to cause panic (panikon deima).  In Zeus' battle with Typhon and the Titans, Pan let out a horrible screech, scattering the Titans in terror.  At the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE, it was said Pan favored the Athenians so inspired panic in the hearts of the Persians.

The Romans, including Hyginus and Ovid, substituted Pan for the satyr Marsyas in the myth about a musical competition with Apollo.  But, instead of Pan being flayed alive for his hubris, his faithful friend, Midas, who disagreed with the judge, Timolus, that Apollo's lyre produced superior music to Pan's pipes, had his ears turned into those of a donkey by Apollo.

Roman statue of Pan, marble, from Argyroupoli (former Lappa), 2nd-century CE at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum by Wikimedia Commons contributor Jebulon

Pan and Daphnis or Olympus at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples photographed at an interesting angle by Wikimedia Commons contributor ho visto nina volare.

Roman fresco of Pan from Pompeii, 1st century BCE - 1st century CE, at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples courtesy of Miguel Hermoso Cuesta (white balance adjusted).

Closeup of one of the Pan figures on a 2nd century CE Roman sarcophagus depicting Dionysus preparing to resurrect and wed Ariadne 190-200 CE that I photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pan Roman 1st-3rd centuries CE from southern Italy that I photographed at "The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece" exhibit, assembled by the British Museum and displayed at the Portland Art Museum.

Pan Teaching Daphnis to play the flute 2nd century CE Roman copy of Hellenistic original that I photographed at the Palazzo Altemps in Rome.

Mosaic of Pan and the nymph Amadriade from the collection of the Duke Carafa of Noja that I photographed at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

Roman bronze of a young Pan or satyr from a garden in Pompeii that I photographed at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

My photography of Pan teaching Daphnis to play the flute at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Table support with a marble statue of Pan Roman Imperial Period 1st or 2nd century CE that I photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Satyr "Della Valle” one of a pair depicting Pan were found near the Theater of Pompey and are thought to be part of its original decoration sculpted from a Hellenistic period original 1st century BCE that I photographed at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

Pan pulling a thorn from the foot of a satyr. Marble, Roman copy of the 1st-2nd centuries after a Hellenistic original of the middle 1st century BCE, The Louvre by Wikimedia Commons contributor Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Pan with panpipe, ceramic, painted, Greater Greece, 5th-3rd century BCE by Wikimedia Commons contributor Helvetiker.
If you enjoyed this post, never miss out on future posts by following me by email!

No comments: