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Antoine Court de Gebelin- About Faunus

Faunus (Pan), from ‘Prière sur l’Acropole’ by Ernest Renan ; Illustrations en couleurs de Serge de Solomko Renan, Ernest (1823-1892). A. and F. Ferroud Publishers. Paris, 1920.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA is an excerpt from Antoine Court de Gebelin’s influential ‘Le Monde Primitif’ encyclopedic endeavor, volume IV, ‘History of the Calendar’, chapter XII, page 408 and 409.


The god Pan is not dead, every field exposed under Apollo’s smiles or to the bare breast of Ceres-sooner or later you will see in these fields the immortal god Pan rise…Pan continues to instill the sounds of his syrinx in the hollow of Ceres’ ears by the arched fields.Fernando Pessoa


December 5th, Day dedicated to Faunus

The day of the None (fifth or 7th day of the month) was dedicated to Faunus, God of the countryside. It was a celebration much older than Rome itself and was celebrated throughout the Latium region. The Romans say that Faunus arrived from Arcady in Italy on February 13th and would return back on December 5th. They would offer sacrifices at his arrival and his departure. These dates are too remarkable and too close one from the other, as they are only separated by 9 months, to not have a design inspired by nature itself. These two days were days of celebration for the cattle; cattle that lives in the countryside and are under Faunus’ protection. We can assess safely, that one of these days is the day the cattle return from the far-away grazing fields because of the frost, and that February 13th is the day were the cattle is lead back to them. The countryside isn’t grazed during this cold period and the saying used for this is: ‘Faunus left them to return in Arcadia’. Horace composed a hymn in his honor and about the festival celebrating him:

Horace, Book III, Ode number XVIII-‘To Faunus’

‘Faunus, the lover of Nymphs who are fleeing,
may you pass gently over my boundaries,
my sunny fields, and, as you go by, be kind
to all my new-born,
if at the end of the year a tender kid
is sacrificed to you: if the full bowls of wine,
aren’t lacking, friend of Venus: the old altar
smoking with incense.
All the flock gambols over the grassy plain,
when the fifth of December returns for you:
the festive village empties into the fields,
and the idle herd:
the wolf wanders among the audacious lambs:
for you the woods, wildly, scatter their leaves:
the ditcher delights in striking the soil he
hates, in triple time.’


Faunus was a Latium divinity, notorious for its oracles. Martianus Capella mentions him in his ‘The Mariage of Philology and Mercury’, Book II, ‘The Marriage’, paragraph 167-in the translation of Richard Johnson:

‘Where the earth is inaccessible to men it is crowded with the ancient beings who inhabit the woods and forests, the groves, lakes, springs and rivers-the beings called Pans, Fauns, Fones, Satyrs, Silvani, Nymphs, Fatui and Fatuae or Fantuae or even Fanae; Fanes are names after these, whose custom is to prophecy…

Faunus/ Pan. Detail from a bigger group in the Izmir Antiquity Museum.


Original French

‘Faun and Nymph’, 17th century painting from the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens.


Source for Horace’s Ode XVIII in A. S. Kline English translation: 🌿 About Faunus: 🌿 Excerpt from Martianus Capella’s ‘The Mariage of Philology and Mercury’, Book II, ‘The Marriage’-Source here: 🌿About Antoine Court de Gebelin:ébelin
Antoine Court de Gebelin- About Faunus

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