Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Pan and the Capricorn

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 24, 2014

Pan having sex with a goat, statue from Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum.

Capricorn Mythology in ancient Sumeria was associated with the planet Saturn and the Mesopotamian god Enki. In ancient Babylonian legend Capricorn was described as the “deity Ea”, who was fishtailed. Ea was the “Antelope of the Sea”.

The goat-fish is a representation of Enki, seen on Babylonian monuments. Enki was a god in Mesopotamian legend; later Enki became Ea in Babylonian legend. In the beginning, Enki was the main supreme being of the metropolis of Eridu. Later Enki’s cult influence circulated from end-to-end of Mesopotamia.

Enki was the god of artisanship (gašam); water, saltwater, lake water (a, aba, ab), intellect (gestú, meaning “ear”) and creative activity (Nudimmud). He is perceived as coming up from the oceanic abyss to teach humanity the wisdom of the gods.

Capricornus is recognized by the name the “Gate of Death” (polar to the Cancer sign, “Gate of Birth“. Capricorn relates to the time the Sun embarks the tenth part of its orbit and relates to the time of new knowledge. The Capricorn zodiac sign is called “šaxû ibex” in Babylonian.

The sun in that month moved into the “suxûru” or fish constellation, which is called the star of Tashmetum, a goddess of Akkadian mythology.  Tashmetum is the wife of the deity Nabu, the god of wisdom and writing in Babylonian Legend. Babylonians revere Nabu because he is the son of Marduk (or Merodach) and his wife, Sarpanitum. In addition, Nabu is worshiped since Enki/Ea is his grandfather.

Capricorn Mythology begins with Cronus who was a giant, and the Father-God of the deities. Even as Cronus brought down his own father named Uranos, Cronus realized one of his own children would subvert him. Thus, when each of his and wife Rhea’s babies were born, he ate them whole. Hestia, Demeter, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, altogether, swallowed before they could mature and jeopardize his dominion.

Rhea wanted a child, so when Zeus was born into the world, Rhea hid baby Zeus in a cave and placed him with surrogate parents. Then, Rhea draped a stone in swaddling clothes and fed that to Cronus. Thus sparing Zeus the same fate as his sisters and brothers.

There are other variations of this legend. In another variant, a goat-tending nymph called Amalthea or Adamanthea brought up Zeus. Yet in another version of this myth, the actual goat itself named Amalthea brought up Zeus. However, the one thing that never changes in all the stories is that Zeus suckled on goat’s milk, or ambrosia in some versions.

When Zeus was more grown up, he freed his uncles by Cronus, who were held captive – the Titans (powerful deities who were elder gods) and the Cyclopes (a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of its forehead) – The Titans and Cyclopes gave Zeus great power over thunder and lightning.

With the Titans and the Cyclopes assisting, Zeus brought down Cronus, and pressured him to cough up Zeus’ brothers and sisters, Hestia, Demeter, Hades, Poseidon and Hera. To continue the story, Zeus then placed Amalthea or Adamanthea in the heavens (this is called Catasterismi in Greek which means: placing amid the stars) in thanks, as the constellation Capricornus, the Goat.

The horns from Amalthea the goat later became the Horn of Plenty, or Cornucopia. Ancient sources say that Cornucopia comes from the sun “taking nourishment” in provision for its ascent north. Additionally, Capricorn Mythology is linked with the Saturn and the God Aristaeus.

In some adaptations of the Capricorn Mythology, the goat’s skin is the Golden Fleece that Jason and the Argonauts sought out and stole. Yet in another custom, Capricorn stands for the deity Pan-the goat god who metamorphosed into a sea animal.

One legend says, when Pan was being assaulted by Typhon, Pan plunged himself into the Nile River; the parts above the river water stayed goat, however the parts below the water changed into a fish.

The fish form may be considered as a phallic symbol. In the tale depicting the origin of the constellation Capricornus, traditionally depicted as a sea-goat, the Greek god of nature Pan became a fish from the waist down when he jumped into the same river after being attacked by Typhon.

The constellation Capricornus is a goat with a fish’s tail. A myth reported as “Egyptian” in Hyginus’ Poetic Astronomy that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aegipan — that is Pan in his goat-god aspect — was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.

Aegocerus “goat-horned” was an epithet of Pan descriptive of his figure with the horns of a goat. Aegipan, literally “goat-Pan,” was a Pan who was fully goatlike, rather than half-goat and half-man. Aegipan was according to some statements a being distinct from Pan, while others regard him as identical with Pan. His story appears to be altogether of late origin.

The goat-god Aegipan was nurtured by Amalthea with the infant Zeus in Athens. In Zeus’ battle with Gaia, Aegipan and Hermes stole back Zeus’ “sinews” that Typhon had hidden away in the Corycian Cave. Pan aided his foster-brother in the battle with the Titans by letting out a horrible screech and scattering them in terror. According to some traditions, Aegipan was the son of Pan, rather than his father.

When the Olympians fled from the monstrous giant Typhoeus and hid themselves in animal form, Aegipan assumed the form of a fish-tailed goat. Later he came to the aid of Zeus in his battle with Typhoeus, by stealing back Zeus’ stolen sinews. As a reward the king of the gods placed him amongst the stars as the Constellation Capricorn. The mother of Aegipan, Aix (the goat), was perhaps associated with the constellation Capra.

Sybarios was an Italian Pan who was worshipped in the Greek colony of Sybaris in Italy. The Sybarite Pan was conceived when a Sybarite shepherd boy named Krathis copulated with a pretty she-goat amongst his herds.

According to Hyginus he was the son of Zeus (some sources say his son Apollo) and Aega (also named Boetis or Aix), and was transferred to the stars. Others again make Aegipan the father of Pan, and state that he as well as his son was represented as half goat and half fish.

When Zeus in his contest with the Titans was deprived of the sinews of his hands and feet, Hermes and Aegipan secretly restored them to him and fitted them in their proper places.

According to a Roman tradition mentioned by Plutarch, Aegipan had sprung from the incestuous intercourse of Valeria of Tusculum and her father Valerius, and was considered only a different name for Silvanus (meaning “of the woods” in Latin), a Roman tutelary deity of woods and fields..

Like other gods of woods and flocks, Silvanus is described as fond of music; the syrinx was sacred to him, and he is mentioned along with the Pans and Nymphs. Later speculators even identified Silvanus with Pan, Faunus, Inuus and Aegipan. He must have been associated with the Roman Mars, for Cato refers to him as Mars Silvanus.

Various 19th century scholars, such as Julius Wellhausen and William Robertson Smith, believed the tradition to have been validated from the occasional occurrence of a merman motif found in Assyrian and Phoenician art, including coins from Ashdod and Arvad.

Two other Pans were Agreus and Nomios. Both were the sons of Hermes, Agreus’ mother being the nymph Sose, a prophetess: he inherited his mother’s gift of prophecy, and was also a skilled hunter.

Nomios’ mother was Penelope (not the same as the wife of Odysseus). He was an excellent shepherd, seducer of nymphs, and musician upon the shepherd’s pipes. Most of the mythological stories about Pan are actually about Nomios, not the god Pan. Although, Agreus and Nomios could have been two different aspects of the prime Pan, reflecting his dual nature as both a wise prophet and a lustful beast.

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