The myth of Pan and Syringe


The God Pan - Painting by Johfra Bosschart

The god Pan, half man and half goat, one of the most typical figures of classical antiquity, was a mysterious divinity of the woods who, in later times, came to identify himself with the totality of the universe. It was born from the union of the God Hermes with Driope, the Nymph of the Oak. Hermes was grazing sheep in Arcadia when he saw Driope and fell in love with him. He possessed it and from their union was born the little god, half man and half beast, with a bristly and bearded face, horns and goat hooves. Seeing him, his mother was horrified and abandoned him, but Hermes took him with him to Olympus, where everyone was immediately enchanted by his intelligence and his irrepressible joy. He was called Pan because everyone enjoyed his presence. There is also another version of its origin. Zeus, after joining in love with a goat named Beroe, gave her a goat-like son, the god Egipan. Etymologically the name Pan derives from the Greek paein which means to graze, but literally pan means everything. In fact, Pan was the spirit of all natural creatures. He did not live on Olympus. He was an earthly god who loved the woods, meadows and mountains. He preferred to wander the mountains of Arcadia, where he grazed flocks and raised bees. He was revered and feared. From its name derives the term panic, in fact the god was angry with anyone who disturbed him, emitting terrifying screams that caused terror and fear in the disturber.

Its name is viscerally linked to nature and the pleasures of the flesh. Pan had a strong sexual connotation: he loved women and men, but he didn't disdain animals either, when in his depths, the bestial part surpassed the human one. Extremely vicious, if he could not possess the object of his passion he would indulge in onanism. He loved and seduced many women and nymphs including the naiad Syringe, daughter of the river god Ladone, with whom he fell madly in love. When Pan appeared to her, the girl ran away terrified, but realizing that she could not escape him, she began to pray to her father to change her appearance, so that the Faun could not recognize her. Ladone, tormented by his daughter's prayers, turned her into a reed near a large swamp. Pan tried to grab it, but in vain, because the transformation took place and then the afflicted god embraced the reed, which had been Syringe and cut it, cutting it into many pieces of different lengths and tied them together. The wind, vibrating in the reeds, produced a delicate sound, similar to a lament and the god enchanted by the whole new sweetness of that music said: "So I will continue to talk to you" (Ovid in the Metamorphoses) and, welded together the pieces with wax unequal of the reed, he manufactured a musical instrument to which he gave the name of syringe, known as the pan flute.

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