the son of Maia and Zeus, for your father. and
if you wear horns and have the legs of a goat,
let not that circumstance distress you, for when
your father visited me, he gave himself the form
of a he-goat, to avoid notice, and for that reason you have turned out very like that animal.
Hermes: in truth, i remember to have done
something of the kind. shall i, however, who
pride myself so greatly on my good looks and
am still without a beard, have the reputation
of being your father and incur ridicule at the
hands of all on account of my lovely offspring?
Pan: Yet i shall not disgrace you, Father, for i
am a musician and play the pipe with remarkable sweetness, and Bacchus can do nothing
without me, but has made me his companion
and thyrsus bearer for himself, and i lead the
dance for him. and if you could see my flocks,
too, what a large number i possess in the neighborhood of tegea and all over parthenius, you
would be greatly delighted. and i rule over all
arcadia; and, but lately, having fought on the
side of the athenians, i distinguished myself
so much at Marathon, that even a prize of valor
was awarded me, the cave under the acropolis.
in fact, if you go to athens, you will know how
great is the name of pan there.
Hermes: But tell me, have you already married,
pan?—For that, i believe, is what they call you.
Pan: certainly not, Father, for i am of an amorous turn and could never be content to live
with one wife.
Hermes: Then, no doubt, you make love to your
Pan: You are indulging in sarcasm. i keep company with echo and with pitys and with all the
Maenads of Bacchus, and am made much of
Hermes: do you know, however, how you could
gratify me, my dear son, who asks a favor of you
for the first time?
Pan: lay your commands upon me, Father, and
let us know them.
Hermes: come to me, then, and affectionately
embrace me—but see that you don’t call me
Father, at least in the hearing of anybody else.
Lucian, from The dialogues of the Gods. It is
from the half-man, half-goat god known for his antic
mischief that we derive the word “panic.” Born around
120, Lucian was apprenticed to a sculptor in his native
Syria and became a successful rhetorician in Italy and
Gaul before beginning his writing career in Athens
around 160. William Shakespeare drew inspiration
from one of Lucian’s plays for timon of athens; Ben
Jonson took the idea that Helen “launched a thousand
ships” from his dialogues of the dead.