Monday, October 31, 2011

Augustus Saint-Gaudens,
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, The Garden of Pan
John Bonanno Photo 2003
Is this Pan? Or, has St. Gaudens has given us a dour and flinty New Englander dressed up to model Pan?
I believe with all my heart it is the latter, for no Greek God Pan could appear so unhappily serious playing the reeds of transformed Syrinx. Is he piping a march to war or a seductive song?

"He lived in Arcadia, where he guarded flocks, herds, and beehives, took part in the revels of the mountain-nymphs, and helped hunters to find their quarry. He was, on the whole, easy-going and lazy, loving nothing better than his afternoon sleep, and revenged himself on those who disturbed him with a sudden loud shout from a grove, or grotto, which made the hair bristle on their heads. Yet the Arcadians paid him so little respect that, if ever they returned empty-handed after a long day’s hunting, they dared scourge him with squills."

"The Olympian gods, while despising Pan for his simplicity and love of riot, exploited his powers. Apollo wheedled die art of prophecy from him, and Hermes copied a pipe which he had let fall, claimed it as his own invention, and sold it to Apollo."

"Pan, whose name is usually derived from paein, ‘to pasture’, stands for the ‘devil’, or ‘upright man’, of the Arcadian fertility cult, which closely resembled the witch cult of North-western Europe. This man, dressed in a goat-skin, was the chosen lover of the Maenads during their drunken orgies on the high mountains, and sooner or later paid for his privilege with death."

Robert Graves The Greek Myths

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