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An Ancient Greek God and Goddess of Nature

By Yona Williams    9/14/10

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In Greek mythology, Pan played an important role in the worship of deities associated with nature. In this article, you will learn more about this god and another deity associated with nature, including myths that mention their presence and influence.

Pan

Pan is the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, and hunting, who appeared in the myths of ancient Greeks. The god is described as having the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat – similar to a faun or satyr. Originating from the rustic land of Arcadia, he is seen as a god that represents fields, groves and wooded glens. This connection associates Pan with fertility and the springtime.

Worshipping Pan was a practice that originated in Arcadia. The district was comprised of mountain people that other Greeks typically looked down upon. During hunting trips, Greek hunters would dismiss the statue of Pan if they were not successful. It was also said that Pan had the power to create panic in crowded places. In fact, the word 'panic' comes from Pan. In later times, the god would become increasingly connected to music.

Myths with Pan

As infants, Pan was actually nurtured by the same person in Athens as the mighty Zeus, who was considered his foster brother. When Zeus entered a battle with Gaia, Pan came in handy. He blew on his conch-horn and sent the Titans running for cover. The god is also known in myths as being responsible for the origin of the pan flute, which was made out of hollow reed. He is also mentioned in myths with Echo – a nymph who was a good signer and dancer. She was known for scorning the love of any man, which angered Pan. He sent orders to his followers to kill her. Echo was torn to bits and spread across the earth. Gaia (the goddess of the earth) received pieces of Echo, whose voice was doomed to repeat the last words of others. Many

In Roman circles of mythology, Pan's counterpart is named Faunus, who was a nature god that fathered Bona Dea – the goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women.

Persephone

Persephone reluctantly became the Queen of the Underworld, as Hades kidnapped her for himself. She was an innocent maiden and the apple of her mother Demeter's eye. When she was abducted, her mother was grief stricken and punished all for the absence of her daughter. Demeter does not know where her daughter is at first until she is told by Helios, who sees all. Before Persephone can be retrieved from the Underworld, she is tricked.

Hades persuades her to eat pomegranate seeds while she is in the Underworld. Anyone who eats or drinks from this place is doomed to return. Persephone became bound to spend half the year in the Underworld and the other half of her time with her mother.

When Persephone is in the Underworld, Demeter's sadness translates into winter. When her daughter returns, spring and summer would emerge. The tale of the goddess was used by the ancient Greeks to explain the changing of the seasons.

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