Pan

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Pan was the Greek god who watched over shepherds and their flocks. He had the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a satyr. His parentage is unclear, in some legends being the son of Zeus and in some the son of Hermes. His mother was a nymph.

One of the famous legends of Pan involves the origin of his trademark pan pipes. There was a certain nymph by the name of Syrinx, who was much beloved by the satyrs and spirits of the wood; but she would have none of them. One day, as she was returning from the hunt, Pan met her. She ran away without stopping to hear his compliments, and he pursued till she came to the bank of the river where he overtook her. She had only time to call for help on her friends, the water nymphs. They heard and consented. Pan threw his arms around what he supposed to be the form of the nymph, and found that she had been transformed into a stand of reeds. As he breathed a sigh the air sounded through the reeds and produced a plaintive melody. The god, charmed with the novelty and with the sweetness of the music, said "Thus, then, at least, you shall be mine." And he took some of the reeds to make an instrument which he called Syrinx, in honor of the nymph.

Pan was famous for his sexual prowess, and was often depicted with an erect priapus. He was believed to have plied his charms primarily on maidens and shepherds.

It seems likely that the images of the incubus and even the horns and cloven hooves of Satan, as depicted in much Christian literature and art, were taken from the images of the highly sexual Pan.

Each year there was an annual festival in honor of Pan, called Lupercalia.

The word panic is associated with this mythical figure.

Greek historian Plutarch reports in his "The Obsolescence of Oracles" (Moralia, Book 5) that during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) people on a ship in the Greek Isles heard a great voice cry out to a passenger named Thanus saying "When you come to Palodes, announce that great Pan is dead." So he did so, and those on board heard a great sound of many voices lamenting the death of the god.

Despite the declaration of his death, however, Pan is widely worshiped by Neopagans and Wiccans today, where he is considered a powerful God and an archetype of male virility and sexuality.


A moon of Saturn is named after Pan. It was discovered by Mark R. Showalter in 1990 from analysis of old Voyager probe photos. Pan is within the Encke Division in Saturn's A ring; its gravity produces wave patterns in the rings that indicated Pan's presence and led to the reexamination of Voyager photographs of its predicted location. Other undiscovered moons may exist within Saturn's rings.

  • Orbital radius: 133,583 km
  • diameter: 20 km
  • mass: Unknown
  • Orbital period: 0.575 days
  • Orbital inclination: 0°

The largest crater on Jupiter's moon Amalthea is named Pan. It is 100 kilometers across and at least 8 kilometers deep.


Pan is a genus of apes, consisting of two species: Pan troglodytes, the chimpanzee, lives in West and Central Africa; Pan paniscus, the bonobo (formerly also known as pygmy chimpanzee), in the Congo forest. The boundary between the two species is formed by the Congo River.


Pan is a colloquial name for the gambling game Panguingue.