Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The god of wild nature and fertility, also regarded as the giver of oracles. He was later identified with the Greek Pan and also assumed some of Pan's characteristics such as the horns and hooves. As the protector of cattle he is also referred to as Lupercus ("he who wards off the wolf").

One particular tradition tells that Faunus was the king of Latium, and the son of Picus. After his death he was deified as Fatuus, and a small cult formed around his person in the sacred forest of Tibur (Tivoli). On February 15 (the founding date of his temple) his feast, the Lupercalia, was celebrated. Priests (called the Luperci) wearing goat skins walked through the streets of Rome and hit the spectators with belts made from goat skin. Another festival was the Faunalia, observed on December 5.

He is accompanied by the fauns, analogous to the Greek satyrs. His feminine counterpart is Fauna. The wolfskin, wreath, and a goblet are his attributes.

From: here
In Roman mythology, Pan's counterpart Faunus was one of the oldest Roman deities, the di indigetes, who was a good spirit of the forest, plains, and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He was a legendary king of the Latins whose shade was consulted as a god of prophecy, under the name of Fatuus, with oracles in the sacred groves of Tibur, around the well Albunea, and on the Aventine Hill in ancient Rome itself (Peck 189. The responses were said to have been given in Saturnian verse (Varro, L. L. vii. 36). Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices that were communicated to those who came to sleep in his precincts, lying on the fleeces of sacrificed lambs. W. Warde Fowler suggested that Faunus is identical with Favonius, one of the Roman wind gods (compare the Anemoi).

A goddess of like attributes, called Fauna and Fatua, was associated in his worship. She was regarded sometimes as his wife, sometimes as his sister. As Pan was accompanied by the Paniskoi, or little Pans, so the existence of many Fauni was assumed besides the chief Faunus (Peck 189. In fable Faunus appears as an old king of Latium, son of Picus, and grandson of Saturnus, father of Latinus by the nymph Marica. After his death he is raised to the position of a tutelary deity of the land, for his many services to agriculture and cattle-breeding.

Faunus was known as the father or husband or brother of Bona Dea (Fauna, his feminine side) and Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also sometimes Faunus' mother). Fauns are place-spirits (genii) of untamed woodland. Educated Romans connected their fauns with the Greek satyrs, who were wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Dionysus, with a distinct origin.

The Christian writer Justin Martyr identified him as Lupercus ("he who wards off the wolf"), the protector of cattle, following Livy, who named his aspect of Inuus as the god who was originally worshipped at the Lupercalia, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple, February 15, when his priests (Luperci) wore goat-skins and hit onlookers with goat-skin belts.

Two festivals, called Faunalia, were celebrated in his honour--one on the 13th of February, in the temple of Faunus on the island in the Tiber, the other on the 5th of December, when the peasants brought him rustic offerings and amused themselves with dancing (Peck 189.

A euhemeristic account made Faunus a Latin king, son of Picus and Canens. He was then revered as the god Fatuus after his death, worshipped in a sacred forest outside what is now Tivoli, but had been known since Etruscan times as Tibur, the seat of the Tiburtine Sibyl. His numinous presence was recognized by wolf skins, with wreaths and goblets.

In Nonnos' Dionysiaca, Faunus/Phaunos accompanied Dionysos when the god campaigned in India.

From: Wiki
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
FaunoV Phaunos Faunus (Italian name)

PHAUNOS was a rustic god of the forests. The Greek figure was derived from the Italian god Faunus. Usually, however, this god was identified with Pan. Phaunos appears in Nonnus' Dionysiaca as one of the rustic gods who accompanied Dionysos in his campaign against the Indian nations.

POSEIDON & KIRKE (Dionysiaca 13.327 & 37.10)

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 327 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Rhea summons the rustic gods and spirits to join the army of Dionysos in his campaign against the Indians :] Phaunos came, leaving the firesealed Pelorian plain of three-peak Sikelia (Sicily) the rocky, whom Kirke bore embraced by Kronion of the Deep [Poseidon], Kirke the witch of many poisons, Aietas’s sister, who dwelt in the deep-shadowed cells of a rocky palace."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 10 ff :
"[During the course of the Indian War of Dionysos :] When Dionysos saw friendly calm instead of war, early in the morning he sent out mules and their attendant men to bring dry wood from the mountains, that he might burn with fire the dead body of Opheltes. Their leader into the forest of pines was Phaunos [Faunus] who was well practised in the secrets of the lonely thickets which he knew so well, for he had learnt about the highland haunts of Kirke his mother. The woodman’s ace cut down the trees in long rows. Many an elm was felled by the long edge of the axe, many an oak with leaves waving high struck down with a crash, many a pine lay all along, many a fir stooped its dry needles; as the trees were felled far and wide, little by little the rocks were bared. So many a Hamadryade Nymphe sought another home, and swiftly joined the unfamiliar maids of the brooks. Parties coming up would often meet, men on the hills traversing different mountain-paths. One saw them up aloft, out in front, coming down, crossing over, with feet wandering in all directions. The sticks were packed in bundles with ropes well twisted and fastened tight and trim, and laid on the mules’ backs; the animals set out in lines, and the hooves rang on the mountain-paths as they hurried along, the surface of the sandy dust was burdened by heavy logs dragged behind. Satyroi and Panes were busy; some cut wood with axes, some pulled it from tree after tree with their hands, or lifted trunks with untiring arms and rattled over the rocks with dancing feet."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 56 ff :
"[A pyre is built for Opheltes, a friend of Dionysos killed in the war against the Indians :] Now fire was wanted. So Phaunos the son of rock-loving Kirke, the frequenter of the wilderness, who dwelt in the Tyrsenian land, who had learnt as a boy the works of his wild mother, brought from a rock the firebreeding stones which are tools of the mountain lore; and from a place where thunderbolts falling from heaven had left trusty signs of victory, he brought the relics of the divine fire to kindle the pyre of the dead. With the sulphur of the divine bolt he smeared and anointed the hollows of the two fire-breeding stones. Then he scraped off a light dry sprig of Erythraian growth and put it between the two stones; he rubbed them to and fro, and thus striking the male against the female, he drew forth the fire hidden in the stone to a spontaneous birth, and applied it to the pure where the wood from the forest lay."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 165 ff :
"[At the funeral games of Opheltes, a friend of Dionysos slain in the Indian War, Phaunos entered the chariot race :] Fourth Phaunos leapt up, who came into the assembly alone bearing the semblance of his mother’s father [Helios], with four horses under his yoke like Helios."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 230 ff :
"Horsemad Phaunos, offspring of the famous blood of Phaethon. [I.e. Phaunos was a son of Kirke daughter of Helios; Phaethon was a son of Helios.]"

N.B. This page does not include information on the Roman god Faunus, only his incarnation as Phaunos in Greek literature. Most Latin authors identified Faunus with the Greek god Pan.

From: FAUNUS : Greek & Roman god of forests
The Roman god of the woodland. Faunus was the son of Picus and grandson of Saturn. Faunus was also the gods of the fertility on the fields and flocks. Roman arts always seemed to portray as a satyr-like god, and he seemed to resemble Pan. His festival was held February 15, called the Lupercalia.

Faunus was also seen as an early king of Italy. His son Latinus became the eponym of the region of Latium, and its people, the Latins.

According to Ovid, in Fasti, at one time, he saw Omphale, queen of Lydia, and he wanted to ravish her. But at that time, Hercules (Heracles) was serving as Omphale's slave. The Lydian queen would dress the hero in women's clothing. One night, Faunas entered the queen's chamber. He thought it was the queen, because of her garment, but when raised the garment in order to penetrate her with his phallus, he felt thick, coarse hair on unsuspecting's bottoms. This could the god by surprise, but gave Hercules enough time to wake, and pushed Faunas very hard that he landed metres away, on his back. Omphale hearing the crash, order her servants to bring torches and they all saw the god lying on his back, helpless, unable to get up, and naked. Hercules and the queen laughted at the embarrassed god. It was for this reason, Faunas always demanded none of his followers to wear clothes during performance of his rituals.

From: here

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