I sing of Great Pan,
the Lord of Khemmis where the women weave,
and the fields of goat-rich Mendes.
Pan who is upon his mountain,
and travels with the elephant-hunters,
the shaggy-haired and cloven-hoofed one,
who chases the Nymphs through the rushes by the side of the Nile,
and sleeps in the shade of persea trees at noontide
to escape the blistering heat of Egypt’s sun.
You delight in the goat-smelling wine of barley
that is abundant in this land,
and dance gaily when the brown-skinned shepherd boys
bring out their pipes and play silly tunes to amuse their flocks.
In Alexandria there is a man-made hill for you
in the heart of the city, shaped like a great pine-cone
and covered in evergreens to remind you
of your sylvan haunts in far-off Arcadia,
the land where men eat acorns.
But long before Plato walked among the temples of Heliopolis,
and conversed with her priests about mathematics,
Pan was here and given honors
among the first rank of Egypt’s Gods,
the Eight who were before the Twelve.
For as the story goes, once Seth slew the fertile one,
the Lord of the double-horned crown,
none could find his lovely green body anywhere.
Isis and her dog-faced son looked far and wide,
visiting every district and beyond the borders of the Two Lands,
journeying even to foreign countries
which had never heard the name of Osiris before.
She wept great tears and beat her breast,
and cut off her hair at Koptos,
which ever since has borne that name,
meaning the place of bitter mourning.
All this was in vain, for the body of Egypt’s rightful King
lay sunk within the Nile waters
where he had fallen and drown,
slain by his brother’s hand.
And there he would have remained,
had Pan, that lusty fellow,
not been chasing slim-ankled girls along the shore.
He splashed into the water, laughing joyfully,
until he tripped on something in the water
and tumbled headlong beneath the waves.
The Nymphs, noticing that they were no longer pursued,
came back to find the God with horns
– for their fleeing was all pretense –
and when he rose up from the river they screamed in panic,
for Pan carried the corpse of the God upon his back.
Once recovered, they helped drag him to shore
and laid Osiris’ still form upon the sand.
They stood speechless in their horror,
overcome by their grief, none knowing what to do,
for dear Osiris was loved by all Egypt’s inhabitants,
save only his jealous-hearted brother.
Then Pan left the darlings of the rushes
to watch with tearful eyes over the body,
safeguarding it from further harm,
while he ran off to find the Queen of Heaven
and reunite her with her lost husband.
For this kindness Pan was honored in all the temples of Egypt,
and given a worthy sacrifice on the Day of Finding.
And so I, too, shall honor you Pan, O kind-hearted One
who does service to both Gods and men.
To Pan in Egypt
I sing of Great Pan,