Pan, god of the mountains
Pan, god of the mountains, protector of hunters and fishermen, son of Hermes and the nymph Dryopi had α goat’s horn on his head as well as goat’s hoofs instead of feet. When he was born, his mother horrified from the look of the hairy child smiling at her, deserted him. His father, Hermes wrapped him in a hare’s skin and took him to mount Olympus. All gods were enchanted by his charm and playful demeanor, so Dionysus named him Pan (“All” in Greek) since all gods adored him. Pan was cheerful, amorous, always in love with a nymph and played his flute in such a melodic way that sounded like the song of a nightingale. His favorite place was the caves of Arcadia where he lived dancing and scaring away the goat herds, with his shrieks. The word “panic” is derived from Pan and the sudden flight from the dreadful situations he brought about. Continue reading
Leda and the swan
Art has been interested in Leda since ancient times. In Renaissance only, there was almost no great artist that had not been inspired by her story. Leonardo, Raphael, Correggio, Veronese, Tintoretto, Rubens (to mention some).
Leda was the daughter of king Thespis of Aetolia. She was so beautiful that, allegedly, many cities claimed her. Her father gave her as a bride to Tyndareus, king of Sparta, as he had helped him in his fights with trespassers and other surrounding enemies. In accordance, one very nice day, as Zeus, father of Gods and Men, looking down from mount Olympus discerned her strolling about the Taygetos mountain was, of course, utterly drawn to her! He asked the advice of the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, and it seems, he, in accordance, took the form of a beautiful swan and, to make it more ‘real’, Aphrodite herself took the form of an eagle that pursued the swan. The tender-hearted Leda as she saw the beautiful bird trying to escape the fatal eagle grip opened her arms and engulfed him in her bosom. The result was that she was impregnated and, according to (one of the versions of) the myth, she gave birth to two eggs. One of them contained the twins Kastor and Polydefkis and the other the beautiful Helen of Troy. The twins were protectors of seafaring men and did many heroic deeds. In time, Zeus himself granted them immortality by turning them into the two brightest stars of the constellation of Gemini (May 21-June 20). [Leda had one more notorious daughter, from her husband Tyndareus this time, Clytemnestra, queen to be of Mycenae and wife of Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks in the besiege of Troy]. Continue reading