Pan, or "The Great God Pan" as he is often referred to, is one of the most recognisable pagan gods. He has the prancing legs, tail and horns of a goat but is usually portrayed fully erect holding his panpipes (syrinx) and a shepherd's crook. His name is said to come from an ancient Greek word "paein" meaning 'to pasture' although other sources say Pan means 'all' or 'universal'.
     Pan's parentage is shrouded in mystery. Some say he was fathered by the god Hermes and his mother was a nymph, while others depict him as a child of Zeus. What does not seem to be in doubt is that he was born in pastoral Arcadia where he became the patron god of shepherds who prayed to him to protect their flocks from wolves. It is said they hid their sheep in caves after consecrating them to Pan, the personification of the life force energy in animals. He is often connected to beekeeping, animal fertility and the season of Spring.
     Pan is also associated with music and its magical powers and is credited with inventing the syrinx musical instrument, better known as the panpipes. The story goes that he fell in love with the Nymph Syrinx, daughter of Landon the river-god. Fleeing his attentions, Syrinx pleaded with Zeus to save her and just as Pan captured her, Zeus turned her into reeds. Enraged, Pan smashed the reeds into pieces but on reflection he was struck with remorse and wept and kissed the broken reeds, all that remained of his beloved. As he kissed the reeds, he discovered that his breath could create sounds from them, and so he made the musical instrument that would carry the lost Nymph's name.
     Whilst playing his panpipes, Pan idled in the rugged countryside of Arcadia and continued to chase nymphs. One of these, Pitys, fled his advances and was transformed into a mountain-pine, the god's sacred tree. Another, Ekho (Echo), was cursed to fade away for spurning the god, leaving behind just a voice to repeat his mountain cries.
     Aside from his role as a nature deity, Pan had other lesser known attributes - one of which resonates down the ages in the word "panic". He was said to entertain himself by frightening travellers who passed through the lonely Arcadian mountains with a terrifying yell. This ability to instil an excess of violent emotion (panolepsia) in an individual could also be used to spread panic amongst soldiers in the heat of battle.
     Pan aided Zeus in a war against the Titans, hurling his terrific shout through a conch shell, resulting in mass chaos that sent the titans running in a panicked frenzy. He also assisted the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon. He brought tremendous panic to the Persians which subsequently helped Athens win the war. After the battle, a sacred precinct was established for Pan in a grotto on the north slope of the Acropolis where a "sacrifice" is still offered annually.
     Being a rustic god, Pan was most frequently worshipped in natural settings, usually caves or grottoes. Only in his native Arcadia was he venerated in temples. Pausanius names several sites in the area sacred to the god. He tells of a bronze statue of the god at Megalopolis and mentions a stone image of Pan at the town's temple to Zeus. He also writes about several other sanctuaries to Pan: one on Mount Lykaion, one at the Sanctuary of Despoina near Lykosura, another in the Nomian mountains where he pastured his flocks of goats.

On the right of Lykosoura [in Arkadia] are the mountains called Nomia, and on them is a sanctuary of Pan Nomios; the place they name Melpeia, saying that here Pan discovered the music of the pipes. It is very obvious conjecture that the name of the Nomia Mountains derived from the pasturings (nomia) of Pan, but the Arkadians themselves derive the name from a Nymphe."
Description of Greece
Pastures of Pan Nomion mountains

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