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Statue of Pan. Hever Castle, Kent, England.
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Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.

Faunus

Faunus was a Roman pastoral god. The Romans identified him with the Greek god Pan. Some times the Greek god Pan was associated with the different Roman deity Silvanus, the god of wild nature. Like his Greek counterpart, he had the legs and horns of a goat.

Faunus was an oracular deity. He was able to predict the future that was revealed to him in dreams or in supernatural voices coming from sacred groves. Faunus had followers called fauns, who were similar to the Greek satyrs but more benign.

He was also a very good musician. One day while playing his lyre and singing, Pan boasted he was a better musician than Apollo. A contest was held between the two, with Tmolus serving as judge. Pan was forced to play rusty old pipes, while Apollo used a beautiful lyre made with ivory and stones. Tmolus chose Apollo as the winner.

King Midas, however, disagreed with Tmolus. He argued that Pan was the better player. Tmolus was angered, and turned the king's human ears into ass's ears. King Midas tried to hide this embarassment, but his barber discovered his secret. Promising not to tell, the barber dug a hole in the ground and whispered the secret into it.

However, the next year reeds grew from the ground. It is told that whenever the winds blow through the reeds, you can hear them say, "King Midas has ass's ears."

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