|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
THE GREAT GOD PAN
 THE supreme god of the Hellenes was Zeus. He dwelt in the sky,
yet on earth, too, he had a sanctuary amid the oak-woods of
When the oak-leaves stirred, his voice was heard, mysterious
as the voice of the mightiest of all the gods.
In days long after these, Phidias, a great Greek sculptor,
made an image of Zeus. The form and the face of the god he
moulded into wondrous beauty, so that men gazing saw
sunshine on the brow, and in the eyes gladness and warmth as
of summer skies.
Even so, if you watch, you may catch on the faces of those
whose home is on the hill-side, or by the sea, a glimpse of
the beauty and the wonder amid which they dwell.
It was only in very early times that the chief sanctuary of
Zeus was at Dodona. Before they had dwelt long in Hellas,
the Hellenes built a great temple in the plain of Olympia to
their supreme god and named it the Olympian temple.
Here a gold and ivory statue of the god was placed, and to
the quiet courts of the temple came the people, singing
hymns and marching in joyous procession.
Zeus had stolen his great power from his father Kronus, with
the help of his brothers and sisters. To reward them for
their aid the god gave to them provinces over which they
ruled in his name. Hera, Zeus chose as queen to reign with
him. To Poseidon was given the sea, and a palace beneath
the waves of the ocean, adorned with seaweed and with
 Pluto was made the guardian of Hades, that dark and gloomy
kingdom of the dead, beneath the earth, while Demeter was
goddess of the earth, and her gifts were flowers, fruits,
and bounteous harvests.
Athene was the goddess of war and wisdom, yet often she was
to be seen weaving or embroidering, while by her table sat her
favourite bird, an owl.
Hermes was known as the fleet-footed, for on his feet he
wore winged sandals to speed him swiftly on the errands of
Apollo, the Sun-god, was the youngest of all the Olympian
deities. He dwelt at Parnassus on the eastern coast of
Greece, and his sanctuary was at Delphi.
The fairest of the goddesses was Aphrodite, Queen of Love.
Her little son was named Eros, and he never grew up. Always
he was a little rosy, dimpled child, carrying in his hands a
bow and arrows.
Many more gods and goddesses were there in the wonder days
of long ago, but of only one more may I stay to tell you
The great god Pan, protector of the shepherds and their
flocks, was half man, half goat. Everyone loved this
strange god, who yet ofttimes startled mortals by his wild
and wilful ways. When to-day a sudden, needless fear
overtakes a crowd, and we say a panic has fallen upon it, we
are using a word which we learned from the name of this old
Down by the streams the great god Pan was sometimes seen to
"What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And the breaking the golden lilies afloat,
With the dragon-fly on the river.
"He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bank of the river,"
 and then sitting down he "hacked and hewed, as a great god
can," at the slender reed. He made it hollow, and notched
out holes, and lo! there was a flute ready for his use.
Sweet, piercing sweet was the music of Pan's pipe
Sweet, piercing sweet was the music of Pan's pipe as the god
placed his mouth upon the holes.
"Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river."
On the hill-sides and in the fields of Hellas, the shepherds
heard the music of their god and were merry, knowing that he
was on his way to frolic to dance among them.
Pan lived for many, many a long year; but there is a story
which tells how on the first glad Christmas eve, when Jesus
was born in Bethlehem, a traveller, as he passed Tarentum,
the chief Greek city in Italy, heard a voice crying, "The
great god Pan is dead."
And when this same Jesus had grown to be a Man, and "hung
for love's sake on a Cross," one of our own women poets
sings that all the old gods of Greece
"fell down moaning,
Each from off his golden seat;
All the false gods with a cry,
Rendered up their deity,
Pan, Pan was dead."
And the reason that the old gods fell was that the strange
Man upon the Cross was mightier than they. But in the days
of ancient Greece the gods were alive and strong; of that
the Hellenes were very sure.
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