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The Connection of the Word ‘Panic’ to the Greek God Pan

Greek god Pan
The word “panic” and its connection to the Greek god Pan. Credit: Flickr / Mary Harrsch CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The word panic comes from the name of the Greek god Pan or Panas, who was reputed to cause humans to flee in maddening fear.

Initially, the word described the intensity of a feeling of unjustified, individual, or collective fear similar to the reaction provoked, according to mythology, by the intervention of the god Pan.

His connection with the word stems from people associating panic with fear. This feeling causes humans to act in a way that prevents reason and logical thinking. It is so strong that it can sometimes lead to overwhelming feelings such as anxiety.

Pan, Greek God of the Wild

In Ancient Greek mythology, Pan is considered to be one of the oldest Greek gods. He is the god of nature, shepherds, flocks, and the wild whose unseen presence aroused panic in those who traversed his realm.

Perhaps due to his association with nature and animals, he did not have the appearance of a typical man. Pan has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat in the same manner as a faun or satyr

He possessed a stentorian voice. Therefore, when ancient Greek gods battled a horde of giants, his scream was so overwhelming that opponents feared him.

Pan idled in the countryside of Arcadia, playing his panpipes and chasing Nymphs. He was therefore also recognized as a god of fields.

Greek mythology teaches humanity virtue and introduces the idea of good and evil as well as love and fear. Most importantly, it gives us insight into language, literature, science, and the arts in the current day.

Altar to Greek God Pan was Discovered in Israel

Archaeologist Adi Erlich made the discovery of an altar to the Greek god Pan in Israel two years ago, as the walls of the structure were gradually uncovered, according to a report from Haaretz.

The altar, showcasing carvings of a Greek deity which had aspects of both Pan and Zeus, date back to 1,800 to 1,700 years before the present time and had been made part of the church’s wall when it was built in the seventh century, according to Erlich.

The Israeli archaeologist uncovered this remarkable find in the ruins of a Byzantine church in Israel when a stone altar to the Greek God Pan Heliopolitanos was unearthed during excavations.

She stated that this may have been done merely for expediency, as it was common in older times to reuse the remains of a structure, including pagan temples, in religious or secular buildings. Erlich added that the small temple with its defaced carvings may have even been utilized as a way to show that Christianity had triumphed over paganism.

In any event, the writing dedicating the altar to Pan/Zeus had been hidden so that it would not be seen by Christian worshipers.

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