The Great God’s Modern Return by Paul Robichaud takes in consideration in a book appeared in september by Reaktion, a divinity, at the moment pretty popular, considering the Covid-19 pandemic: the God Pan who inspired the term panic for describing the sentiment felt by people who met along their way this divinity, half human and half goat.
Pan has been, during the centuries, much more: someone reassuring, or a real devil, a prince of the abysses, or he protector of forests: of course he is also seen as guardian of wild animals because in de facts Pan was this one in greek mythology.
Pan is a creature who has always refused a tranquil existence, cultivating his freedom and wild spirit.
But...What does Pan means in greek language? It is a verb: "to pasture" for the characteristic of this God.
The cult of Pan like also poems connected with him, spread pretty fastly in a country like Greece plenty of pastures because of goats and sheep: devotion for this God was very felt in Greece.
But..Who was the father of Pan?
Hermes fell in love for a girl and has had Pan.
A characteristic of Pan was that once was portrayed his death but this time it didn't happen as for all the other greek Gods or the same Jesus, who resuscitated the third day: in this case, Pan is simply dead.
In the Middle Age, but also before, when Costantine defined the Christianity the main religion, the cult of Pan disappeared: in the middle age Pan was seen like an infernal demon.
Pico della Mirandola imagined the God as a "One" and Botticelli and other painters as the Orphic Pan.
Rabelais sees in Pan the role of divine sheperds.
Beaumont and Fletcher read the God as guardian of both Christian virtue and English liberty.
Francis Bacon does something else: reflecting on Pan and his mature he sees the God in this duality: "the superior and inferior parts of nature", seeing in the human part of Pan the best of the intelligence and education, and in the animal side, the brutality, but also less nobles insticts of men.
If during the Enlightment there was no place for a divinity like Pan, the Romanticism gave back to him what it was lost in the past century.
Wordsworth represents him singings his pipe in Monte Zappi, Lazio. People can hears his pipe, but no one can sees him.
John Keats removed all the beast's references in Pan, upsetting some people who had read thanks to him a God too much "disembodied": Keats described him as a ‘leaven’ that provides "A touch ethereal" to the mud and muck of our physical world.
Hunt proposed a new cult for the God Pan, writing: "‘The Great God Pan is alive again."
Wilde, dedicated to Pan a prayer, while Sydney Long produced a beautiful painting on Pan.
Operetta: when Offendach wrote Daphnis et Chloé inserted Pan in the play; Pan was also on the cover of The Echo, an American magazine.
The XX century has seen Pan in a darker way of we make a comparison with the other past centuries.
J.M.Barrie, firstly, treated Pan in The Little White Bird portraying Peter Pan as a baby, surrounded by the pipes of Pan... After all the last name of Peter was a direct inspiration of the God Pan: who was Peter if not a baby born wild as Pan?
Arthur Machen reads the God as a horrible creature, communicating terror.
To Roscher Pan is vice-versa a nightmare demon.
Rosaleen Norton had a great veneration for Pan. She created an altar to the God and has always taken him in consideration in her art and magical practice.
Protagonists in every medium, Pan is important in this XXI century as well leaving us important messages as written at the end by the author:
"As global temperatures increase dramatically, with wildfires and rising ocean levels, that fear can easily give way to growing panic. It is up to us whether we allow that panic to overwhelm us, or accept it as a gift from Pan and respond by taking responsibility for the well-being of our planet."
Highly recommended book.
I thank Reaktion Books for the copy of the book.
Anna Maria Polidori