Pan (Fauno nella mitologia romana) era il dio dei pascoli, protettore delle pecore e delle capre. Il suo nome era associato alle sue funzioni pastorali e significava dio dei pascoli.

Era responsabile della fertilità delle greggi. Quando non si riproducevano in modo soddisfacente una statua del dio veniva frustrata con della scilla, una pianta erbacea ornamentale.

Solitamente si attribuisce la paternità del dio Pan a Ermes, che si congiunse con Callisto o Ibride o una capra, ma chiunque fosse la madre, quando lo vide lo abbandonò e Pan fu così allevato dalle ninfe.

Anche Pan, come Apollo, era un musico, ma non altrettanto bravo.

Un giorno i due dei decisero di sfidarsi. Timolo, il giudice, decretò vincitore Apollo e fu in quest’occasione che Mida, per colpa dei suoi commenti irriverenti verso Apollo, si ritrovò con le orecchie tramutate in quelle di un asino.

Lo strumento di Pan era il flauto, al cui suono le ninfe e i satiri danzavano. Lo costruì durante un’avventura amorosa mentre inseguiva la ninfa Siringa che, atterrita alla vista del dio, giunta sul fiume Ladone e accorgendosi di non poterlo attraversare chiese agli dei di essere trasformata in giunco.

Pan tagliò il giunco riunendo ed allineando i pezzi ed iniziò a soffiarci dentro cercando conforto nella musica di quello strumento musicale che era appunto Siringa, il primo flauto di Pan della storia.

Le attenzioni di Pan si rivolsero anche verso Selene, la dea luna.

Consapevole di ripugnare alla dea, che trovava disgustoso il suo pelo nero e irsuto, Pan si avvolse completamente in un candido manto di pecora, rendendosi irriconoscibile. In tal modo riuscì a possedere la dea. Poi per farsi perdonare le regalò una mandria di sua proprietà.

Durante la battaglia di Maratona (490 a.C.) Pan prese le parti degli Ateniesi. Quando Filippide corse da Atene a Sparta per chiedere aiuto, il dio lo chiamò mentre attraversava il monte Partenio in Arcadia, interrogandolo sul perché gli ateniesi non lo veneravano nonostante fosse stato sempre generoso con loro.

Fu solo dopo la vittoria di Maratona, da cui i persiani fuggirono in preda al panico, che ad Atene fu eretto un altare in onore del dio Pan e si svolsero sacrifici e feste.

L’iconografia medioevale trasse ispirazione dalle immagini di Pan per rappresentare il demonio.

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