The goat-god Pan is one of the lesser gods of the Greek pantheon, but representations of him in ancient art are numerous and varied.n1
This paper discusses only one type, a group of small bronze figures of the god dancing. I offer it to Eugene Lane in memory of many years of pleasant collaboration in acquiring works from antiquity representing other lesser, but nonetheless interesting, gods for the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Arcadia, the mountainous central area of the Peloponnesos of Greece, is the original home of Pan.n2
There he was considered a major god. Small bronze figures of votaries, most carrying animals, and some with dedications to Pan incised on them,n3
attest his worship in the region from as early as the 6th century B.C., but the cult came later to other parts of the Greek world. Soon after 490 B.C. it spread to Attica, slightly later to Boeotia in Central Greece, and then to the rest of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.n4
In Arcadia, Pan was worshipped both at rustic shrines and in cities. In Attica and elsewhere he was worshipped in caves, and in association with Hermes and the Nymphs, and other gods.n5
In appearance, Pan combined animal and human features. He usually appears with shaggy legs and goat hooves, bearded, goat-like face and horns, but human torso, arms and upright stance.n6
His nature as described in the literature reveals him to be lusty and aggressive.n7
He brought fertility to livestock and protected herdsmen. In later times, in the Hellenistic period, he was also linked to war. From the Hellenistic period on, he was considered capable of creating panic in the enemy, and thus soldiers worshipped him. The word is erroneously thought to derive from the name Pan.n8
|1. Pan, bronze, Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 85.59,Weinberg Fund. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia. Front view.|
Although many ancient authors describe Pan's worship, appearance, and nature, one set of references is of particular relevance here. They indicate the importance of dance for his cult. They describe Pan as dance-loving, as dancing with the nymphs, or as leader of the dance in heaven.n9
Several small bronze figures of the god emphasize this aspect. One of these figures was purchased by the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1985 from a private collection (Figs. 1-3).n10
|2. Missouri Pan, rear view. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia|
Pan dances with his right leg raised, his weight resting on his left leg. The god has both arms outstretched, his right one held straight out at shoulder height, his left one lower and slightly bent. He once held two objects, one in each hand. Both objects appear to have been round in section judging by a short, bronze plug that remains in the left hand; the curve of the god's right hand suggests that this hand originally held a similar object. Although his torso and arms are human, his goat-like nature is immediately revealed by the lower part of his body, which resembles a goat's hooves and hind legs; the shaggy hair on the thighs is indicated by short, semicircular incisions on the front and sides. The hair on his head forms a kind of cap from which two goat horns project to left and right. The features of the face are crudely modeled with large, irregularly placed, almond-shaped eyes, small pug nose, thick lips, and pronounced groove from nose to corners of mouth. On his receding chin is a small beard, which reaches to the base of his neck. He has small, low set, protruding ears that continue at the back of his head into a ridge below his cap-like hair. When viewed from the back or side, the most noticeable feature is the pronounced curve of the back of his thighs where a lightly incised, leaf-shaped design is evident on the smooth surface. The inner area of his legs is flat. His tail is a small stub, and the modeling of his torso is superficial with shallow grooves marking his shoulder blades, a shallow, vertical groove and a horizontal ridge on his torso at the front indicating his rib cage, and an incised circle denoting his right nipple. A very shallow scratched circle forms his belly button. The hoof on the one preserved leg is indistinctly rendered.
|3. Missouri Pan, side view. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia|
|4. Pan, bronze, Oriental Institute Museum A 7448, front view. Photo courtesy of the Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago.|
A number of similar, small bronze figures exist, some of which have appeared on the art market in the last decade, while others have been known for a long time. One of the latter is a Pan in the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago (Figs.4-6).n11
This figure is less worn than the one in the Museum of Art and Archaeology with incisions indicating shaggy hair preserved on the chest, as well as on the front and sides of the thighs. The inner surface and back of his legs are smooth like the Missouri Pan, but this figure does not have the lightly incised leaf-pattern of the Missouri figure on the back of the thighs. His lower left hoof is broken off, but his right leg preserves part of a strut. His left arm curves further forward than the left arm of the Missouri figure, but like the Missouri figure the objects he once held are missing. The hands do, however, preserve the cylindrical shape of whatever was once in them. The Missouri and Chicago figures appear to be of identical size, and were presumably cast from beeswax working models formed in the same master mold. They seem to be part of the same series.n12
|5. Oriental Institute Pan, rear view. Photo courtesy of the Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago.|
A third figure of this type was once in the Schimmel Collection and is now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.n13
It is better preserved than the two figures so far discussed and is of better quality with much more incised surface decoration, such as chest hair, pubic hair, notching on top of horns, edge of cap, contour of hair in back, eyebrows, and mustache. The beard is forked, and incised wavy lines indicate the strands of hair; its pupils are drilled. All these details are lacking in the Missouri and Oriental Institute Pans. Like the Missouri Pan, however, there is a leaf-shaped design incised on the back of the thighs. The Israel Museum Pan preserves a small, round plinth and a strut that connects the raised right hoof to it. The front and sides of the strut are notched. The position of the arms is closer to the Missouri Pan than to the Oriental Institute one; the figure is the same size as the other two. This figure was made with much greater care than the two figures discussed above. Although the same master molds may have been used, the beeswax working model was more carefully worked.
Three other figures closely resemble the first three discussed. Two were on the New York art market in 1990 and 1992 (ex Hunt and Schmidt collections); the third is now in the Bastis Collection.n14
The current location of the two that were sold in New York is unknown, but the photographs published in the sale catalogues show that they are very similar to the Israel Museum Pan both in size and amount of detail. The figure from the Hunt collection is the closest and has the same height. The Pan from the Schmidt collection is slightly smaller than the Israel Museum example and appears to lean to the right, whereas the other figures are vertical. The Pan in the Bastis collection, although obviously the same type, is a much cruder version with gouged incisions for the shaggy goat hair on the thighs, disproportionately large hooves, and large protruding ears. It is about the same size as the Pan from the Schmidt collection. All these three figures preserve a plinth and a strut that connects the right hoof to the plinth.
There are thus six figures of dancing Pan, all approximately the same scale and closely resembling each other. The Israel Museum Pan, and the figures from the Hunt and Schmidt collections apparently represent one series, while the Missouri and Oriental Institute Pans, lacking the details of these three, are perhaps a separate series. The Pan in the Bastis collection stands alone. One or two further examples may also belong with these figures, but their whereabouts is unknown. Dietrich von Bothmer mentioned two that Frank Brommer had seen, one in Ankara, the other in Istanbul.n15
One of these may be the figure that is now in Missouri.n16
|6. Oriental Institute Pan, side view. Photo courtesy of the Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago.|
Four other small bronzes also show Pan dancing. One is in Lyon, the second in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and two were on the New York art market.n17
The stance of all four figures is the same--right leg raised and arms stretched wide--, but in other respects they differ from the first six figures discussed. These four figures have a more sculptural treatment of the modeling of the body, and the representation of the hair on the thighs is very different. Instead of being treated as surface decoration, it forms thick rolls or folds over the front and sides of the thighs; the Metropolitan Museum Pan almost appears to be wearing a pair of breeches. On three of the figures, the Lyon Pan, the Metropolitan Museum one, and no. 4 in note 17
, the surface on the backs of the thighs is smooth, because the shaggy hair on front and sides does not continue here. (The published photograph of no. 3 in note 17
shows only a front view.) This smooth area, in a sunken leaf shape, is reflected in the surface decoration on the backs of the thighs of the Missouri and Israel Museum figures. There are also differences between the four figures discussed in this paragraph. The Pan in the Metropolitan Museum is the most detailed and, unlike any of the other bronzes, wears the phorbeia, or head strap that held the double pipes in place. The Lyon Pan has realistic locks of hair that are arranged in three tiers on the back of the head, whereas the hair of the Metropolitan Museum Pan is arranged in plain, horizontal rolls. The two on the art market preserve objects in their hands, the only two figures to do so. One figure holds the Pan pipes, or syrinx, in his left hand, the normal attribute of the god.n18
The other holds the pipes in his left hand and a torch in his right.n19
A further example of a dancing Pan was once on the Swiss art market.n20
This figure is somewhat smaller than the others and appears to have a longer torso and shorter legs, although his proportions approach those of the Lyon Pan. He is a much less detailed version than any of the others discussed above with no horns but a cylindrical object on his head.
Dates for these small bronzes are not easily established. The Lyon Pan, the figure with the earliest publication date, is assigned to the 5th to 4th centuries B.C. in the 1970 publication. Stephanie Boucher compared it to the one on the Swiss art market. This latter figure was, however, assigned a date in the 5th to 4th centuries without any parallels to securely dated works.n21
Boucher also tentatively proposed a comparison with a terracotta figurine from Olympia,n22
but this figurine bears no stylistic relationship to the Lyon Pan and does not appear to be a valid comparison. The Metropolitan Museum Pan is compared to the Lyon bronze and dated to the late 5th or 4th centuries B.C.;n23
the Bastis Pan and the example on the New York art market in 1996 are dated by comparison with the Lyon bronze and the Metropolitan Museum one;n24
the bronzes from the Hunt and Schmidt collections are compared to the Bastis, Lyon and Metropolitan Museum figures.n25
The Israel Museum Pan is dated to the late 4th or 3rd century without any reasons being given.n26
Thus, the dating of most of the figures of dancing Pan is based on the evidence of the Lyon Pan, which itself is not securely dated. Without parallels from excavated objects, the dates must remain problematical.
These small figures of dancing Pan must have had some function in antiquity. Dietrich von Bothmer suggested that the Israel Museum Pan might have formed a group together with the similar ones known to Brommer and perhaps were attached to the rim of a cauldron, or to another vessel, or utensil.n27
Marquardt briefly discussed the function of those figures known to her. She also felt that they were originally attached to a vessel, pointing out that the hands of two of them, the Bastis Pan and the one at Sotheby's in 1990,n28
seemed to have been firmly soldered around something that made her think that the figures were on the upper part of a vessel with the hands touching the rim.n29
Like Eileithyia, Pan belongs to a class of divinities who appear as multiples.n30
Groups of Pans are quite common in Greek vase painting.n31
Thus, a group of small bronze Pans on a bronze vessel would not seem out of place, and in the Classical and Hellenistic periods small bronze figures continued to be produced for attachment to vessel lids and shoulders.n32
The smooth surface on the backs of the thighs might then be a feature of the placement of the figures on a vessel. The Israel Museum Pan, the only example that preserves its base and that is also available for examination, has, however, no marks of attachment. Furthermore single figures of dancing Pan would not be unsuitable dedications to the god since dancing was integral to his worship.n33
As well as questions about their date and function, the figures raise other questions. Where were they made, what did they hold in their hands, and why was a strut thought necessary to support the right foot? Only two of the figures have any possible provenience. The Missouri Pan was acquired in Turkey; Professor Gottheil published the Oriental Institute figure as coming from Tyre, although in his correspondence with the Oriental Institute this was not mentioned.n34
Other figures are described as Greek, and some are tentatively said to be Peloponnesian, although no reasons are given. As for the objects held by the figures, they may not all have held the same ones. The Metropolitan Museum Pan presumably held the double pipes, since he wears the φορβεία
Two of the figures hold the syrinx in their left hands. Perhaps they held the λαγώβολον
in their right hands. Both objects are appropriate for Pan.n36
The Missouri, Oriental Institute, and Israel Museum Pans may have held torches, one in each hand. Pan running with one torch occurs in the tondo of a black-figure kylix by the Haimon Painter Group.n37
He holds two torches on a gem in Munich.n38
The cylindrical impression in some of the hands, or the remains of a cylindrical object, support this suggestion, whereas the arms are perhaps too widely spread to be playing the double pipes. The presence of a strut on these small figures is puzzling. Other small bronzes of dancing figures with one leg raised have no strut, and so a strut was not necessary to support the leg.n39
Perhaps the strut is a design feature that relates to the placement of the figures on a vessel.
These ten bronzes form an interesting group, linked by the dancing pose with right leg raised and arms outstretched. The treatment of the back of the thighs--smooth skin represented without hair--also links many of them. While their dates and function remain problematical, and the quality within the group varies widely, they represent a substantial body of evidence for a small-scale sculptural type of dancing Pan.
- Figs. 1-3. Pan, bronze, Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 85.59, Weinberg Fund, front, side and rear views. Photos courtesy of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia.
- Figs. 4-6. Pan, bronze, Oriental Institute Museum A 7448, front, side and rear views. Photos courtesy of the Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago.