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2023-11-30 17:59:29source´╝Üthousands of people Classification´╝Ühot

Chapter XV The Rural Deities. Erisichthon. Rhoecus. The Water Deities. Camenae. Winds.

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Pan, the god of woods and fields, of flocks and shepherds, dwelt in grottos, wandered on the mountains and in valleys, and amused himself with the chase or in leading the dances of the nymphs. He was fond of music, and, as we have seen, the inventor of the syrinx, or shepherd's pipe, which he himself played in a masterly manner. Pan, like other gods who dwelt in forests, was dreaded by those whose occupations caused them to pass through the woods by night, for the gloom and loneliness of such scenes dispose the mind to superstitious fears. Hence sudden fright without any visible cause was ascribed to Pan, and called a Panic terror.

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As the name of the god signifies in Greek, ALL, Pan came to be considered a symbol of the universe and personification of Nature; and later still to be regarded as a representative of all the gods, and heathenism itself.

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Sylvanus and Faunus were Latin divinities, whose characteristics are so nearly the same as those of Pan that we may safely consider them as the same personage under different names.

The wood-nymphs, Pan's partners in the dance, were but one of several classes of nymphs. There were beside them the Naiads, who presided over brooks and fountains, the Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottos, and the Nereids, sea-nymphs. The three last named were immortal, but the wood-nymphs, called Dryads or Hamadryads, were believed to perish with the trees which had been their abode, and with which they had come into existence. It was therefore an impious act wantonly to destroy a tree, and in some aggravated cases was severely punished, as in the instance of Erisichthon, which we shall soon record.

Milton, in his glowing description of the early creation, thus alludes to Pan as the personification of Nature:

"Universal Pan, Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance, Led on the eternal spring."

"In shadier bower More sacred or sequestered, though but feigned, Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph Nor Faunus haunted." Paradise lost, B. IV.

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