Pan & Satyrs
Pan & Satyrs
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Pan & Syrinx

“Without music life
would be a mistake” 

Friedrich Nietzsche

Greece 1999---'Aphrodite and Pan'  in National Archaeological Museum in Athens.jpg
 "If you live in rock and roll, as I do, you see the reality of sex, of male lust and women being aroused by male lust. It attracts women. It doesn't repel them.
Camille Paglia
They used flute, drum, and timbrel or castinets, and cymbals.
Plato considered that the flute, rather than the drums, were the instrument of possession. Aristotle and many of the major playwrights agreed with him that the melody of the flute was the carrier
Greece 4th century BC The precise origin of the pan flute is unclear, but the Roman poet Ovid provides a clue to this mystery in his poem, “Metamorphoses“:

   "Sitting on the riverbank, Pan noticed the bed of reeds was swaying in the wind, making a mournful moaning sound, for the wind had broken the tops of some of the reeds. Pulling the reeds up, Pan cut them into pieces and bound them together to create a musical instrument, which he named "Syrinx", in memory of his lost love. "

Pan is the inventor of the shepherd's or pan pipes

The Andean music from Bolivia and Peru features the magnetic pan pipes and can be heard  on the streets throughout the world
Is Pan Dead?
"The lonely mountains o'er
And the resounding shore,

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;

From haunted spring and dale,

Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent:

With flower-enwoven tresses torn,

The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn."

Milton in his "Hymn on the Nativity"

Toledo Museum of Art Attributed to the Creusa Painter
Date: ca 380 - 360 BC

An early Christian tradition has it that when the heavenly host told the shepherds at Bethlehem of the birth of Christ, a deep groan, heard through all the isles of Greece, told that the great Pan was dead, and that the royalty of Olympus was thus dethroned by the Christian mythology. 

Gods of Hellas, gods of Hellas,
Can ye listen in your silence?
Can your mystic voices tell us
Where ye hide? In floating islands,
With a wind that evermore
Keeps you out of sight of shore?
Pan, Pan is dead.
. . . .

[Elizabeth Barret Browning, 1806-61, The Dead Pan]

SATYRS, [SAY-ter] half-man half-beast nature spirits that haunted the woods and mountains and were the companions of Pan and Dionysus. These followers of the god of the vine, are great lovers of festivals, revels, drinking, dancing, singing, and generally wild kinds of behavior.

Satyrs have a deserved reputation for assaulting nymphs, and stealing cattle. Satyrs bear on their foreheads small bony protuberances that in a goat would grow into horns. They are often depicted as intoxicated and sexually aroused.

Though Roman satire is sometimes thoughtlessly linked to the Greek satyr plays, satire's only connection to the satyric drama is through the subversive nature of the satyrs themselves, as forces in opposition to urbanity, decorum, and civilization itself.

While satyrs have been called a worthless race, satyrs teach us it is foolish to underestimate the overwhelming power that the sexual instinct possesses to create complex delusions and illusions.

Bacchic dance: Plato tells us there was a specific dance done by the characters in a Dionysian ritual: Nymphs, Pans, Silenoi, and Satyrs   The Satyr and Silenoi dance had several steps and aspects. Like the Mænads, they would bend deeply forward and backward, but they would also leap --- crouching on one leg, then launching themselves to fall upon the other one. They capered with the Mænads, and would sway their hips accompanied by angular arm movements. Beyond the 'joined hand' gesture and the animal imitations, we do not know specifically what these gestures were. It is likely that the dance steps, like orisha and voudon dances, had strong symbolic aspects but this is lost to us.

Pan the most famous Satyr

leader of the eternal Spring

Pan god of woods and fields, of flocks and shepherds, Pan is known as "The Pasturer," "the Feeder of Flocks." God of herds, fertility and male sexuality,  Pan amuses himself with the chase or in leading the dances of the nymphs.

Pan has the horns and legs of a goat and plays a syrinx, a pipe with seven reeds. An ancient god, he has no moral or social aspect whatsoever, and is simply the embodiment of pure, basic instinct. Some said that Pan taught Apollo the art of prophecy. Pan especially loves mountains and wild country. Pan has a dark aspect as well, causing men and animals to go suddenly mad with terror in distant, lonely places or because your superstitious fears have got the best of you. His name is therefore the root word of "panic."

Pan was fond of music, and  known as the inventor of the syrinx, or shepherd's pipe, which he himself played in a such a masterly manner he once competed against Apollo himself.

Pan and Syrinx.
  One day Pan saw the nymph Syrinx returning to her home. Immediately he started after her and she ran until she came to a river. Syrinx turned into a reed that lined the bank of the river so Pan could not recognize her. Pan grabbed a hand full of reeds in hopes that he could capture Syrinx, but he was unable to locate her. Pan sat down beside the river and started tying the reeds together that he had gathered and soon he came up with a contraption that is known today as the "Pipes of Pan."
 Here is the original version translated to English
English poet John Keats (1795-1821), tells the story of Pan and Syrinx best:

So did he feel who pulled the bough aside,
That we might look into a forest wide,
Telling us how fair trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph- poor Pan- how he did weep to find
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain.

Selene the moon goddess is known for her countless love affairs including the shepherd Endymion.  Pan's seduction began with a gift of a  herd of white oxen. Pan accomplished the seduction of Selene by disguising his hairy black goatishness with white fleece. Selene consented to ride on his back, unaware of who he was, and Pan proceeded to ravish her.

Titans: Pan was present at the great battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans and claimed that it has his yelling that caused the Titans to flee.


Marsyas was a satyr who challenged Apollo to a contest of music.

The deal was, that the winner could treat the defeated party any way he wanted. Since the contest was judged by the Muses, Marsyas naturally lost and was flayed alive in a cave near Calaenae in Phrygia for his hubris to challenge a god. His blood turned into the river Marsyas.

There are several versions of the contest; according to some Marsyas was departing as victor when Apollo, turning his lyre upside down, played the same tune. This was something that Marsyas could not do with his flute. According to another version Marsyas was defeated when Apollo added his voice to the sound of the lyre. Marsyas protested, arguing that the skill with the instrument was to be compared, and not the voice. However, Apollo replied that when Marsyas blew into the pipes, he was doing almost the same thing as himself. The Muses found Apollo's claim to be the most just, leading to his victory

Midas with Asses' Ears

 Midas let it be known that he though Marsyas was the better musician. Apollo punished Midas making his ears grow like those of a donkey.

Pan and Echo. The nymph ran from him. Pan instilled "panic" in local shepherds and they killed her, destroying her body. Only her voice remains.

He was the god of green fields and the guardian of the shepherds associated with the worship of Dionysus, and as a mountain deity with that of Cybele. He is at home in any wild place but, is favorite is Arcady, where he was born. He was fond of sportive dances, singing with woodland nymphs and playing on pipes. He is always in pursuit of a nymph, but, is rarely successful.

Sylvanus and Faunus are Pan's Latin counterparts


Satyr and Maenad
 Albrecht Dürer's 1505 engraving, Musical Satyr and Nymph with Baby (Satyr's Family).
The Italian version of the satyr is the Faun
But if you ask me why I appear before you in this strange dress, be pleased to lend me your ears, and I'll tell you; not those ears, I mean, you carry to church, but abroad with you, such as you are wont to prick up to jugglers, fools, and buffoons, and such as our friend Midas once gave to Pan. For I am disposed awhile to play the sophist with you; not of their sort who nowadays boozle young men's heads with certain empty notions and curious trifles, yet teach them nothing but a more than womanish obstinacy of scolding: but I'll imitate those ancients who, that they might the better avoid that infamous appellation of sophi or wise, chose rather to be called sophists. Their business was to celebrate the praises of the gods and valiant men. And the like encomium shall you hear from me, but neither of Hercules nor Solon, but my own dear self, that is to say, Folly:

 The Praise of Folly (Moriae Encomium), 1509
considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization and one of the catalysts of the

Pan - deus Arcadiae.

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