Faunus, Pan, Innus, the God of the Forest, Plains and Fields

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Faunus, the horned deity of the woods, plains, and fields in ancient Roman mythology and myth, was also known as Inuus when he made cattle pregnant.

In literature, he eventually came to be compared to the Greek deity Pan. One of the first di indigetes, or ancient Roman gods, was Faunus. He was an alleged mythological monarch of the Latins, according to the epic poet Virgil. His shade was invoked as a goddess of prophecy by the name of Fatuus, with oracles on the Aventine Hill, in the holy Tibur wood, and in the area surrounding the Albunea well in ancient Rome. The oracular replies, according to Marcus Terentius Varro, were delivered in poem written in Saturn. People who came to sleep in Faunus’ enclosures, resting on the fleeces of slaughtered lambs, received messages from the future in dreams and voices. Faunus, according to W. Warde Fowler, is the same as one of the Roman wind gods named Favonius (compare the Anemoi).

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

According to legend, Faunus was an ancient king of Latium who was the father of Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also occasionally Faunus’ mother), the son of Picus and the grandson of Saturn. Due to his numerous contributions to agriculture and cattle rearing, he is elevated to the status of a tutelary god of the land after his death. Fauna and Fatua, two goddesses with similar characteristics, were connected to his adoration. She was thought of as his sister, wife, or daughter. It was common to compare Fauna to the feminine divinity Bona Dea.

The Indo-European god Faunus may be linked to the Vedic god Rudra. Prior to becoming a nature deity, he is said to have been worshipped by traditional Roman farmers. In the third and second century BC, as Greek mythology became more and more ingrained in Roman mythology, the Romans began to associate their own gods with Greek ones in a practice known as interpretatio romana. Faunus was naturally compared to the shepherd-god Pan, who was thought to live in Arcadia and was a pastoral deity. Since Pan had always been shown as having horns, numerous representations of Faunus started to do the same. However, many people also believed that the two gods were distinct. For instance, the epic poet Virgil mentioned both Faunus and Pan separately in his Aeneid.

He was honored with two celebrations known as Faunalia, one on February 13 at the temple of Faunus on the island in the Tiber and the other on December 5, when the peasants brought him little gifts and entertained themselves by dancing.

Featured image: Faunus and Daphnis practising the Pan flute (Roman copy of Greek original)

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