According to Greek mythology, Pan was the god of wild groves, shepherds, and flocks. His parentage is ambiguous, but according to some accounts, he was born in Arcadia to Hemes, the messenger of the gods, and a wood nymph, named Dryope. He had a hideous appearance. While his upper body and hands of a human male, resembling a faun, he was born with cloven hooves, a tail, two horns, pointed ears and the horizontal eyes of a goat. On his birth, his wretched mother became so much frightened and distressed by his appearance that she left the child and ran away. Hermes, his father, wrapped the baby in the pelt of a hare and carried him off to Mount Olympus. All the other gods loved him and gave him the name Pan, which meant “all”, the uncrowned god of all.
As he grew up, Hermes gave his son the task of watching over the shepherds and the huntsmen of the area. Pan used to roam the mountains of Arcadia, running and jumping with the ease of a mountain goat. He was regarded by all as the god of the shepherds and the hunters, as well as the god of the meadows and forests of the mountain wilds. He was very much attracted to the beautiful nymphs.
In fact, he was famous for his unfettered sexuality, and is often depicted with an erect phallus. Often he used to chase the nymphs intending sex. But his abnormal appearance and unusual harsh voice made the nymphs scary and they used to run away from him in panic with pounding hearts. Thus, the word ‘panic’ was originated.
One day while he was on his regular hunting spree, Pan accidentally stumbled upon a breathtakingly beautiful young nymph from Arcadia, Syrinx. Pan was completely blown away by her beauty and was strongly attracted by her sexual charm. He immediately started to chase the nymph to satisfy his lust. But, Syrinx was a gamesome wood nymph and as an ardent follower of Artemis or Diana, she had already decided to abstain from any type of sexual pleasure. Apart from that, she became frightened by the strange look of Pan and ran away to save her life and virginity.
But Pan did not like the idea to let her escape easily or to let her leave alone. In an intense attempt to get the beauty intimately, he chased Syrinx, as fast as he could. The more he tried to catch her, the more elusive and evasive she became. He chased her over the hills and down the valleys and finally reached at the edge of the River Ladon. By that time, Syrinx could easily perceive that she would not be able to cross the river on her own.
As she could find no other way to escape from the on rushing danger, she desperately started to appeal to her sisters, the river nymphs, to rescue her. In response to her earnest prayer, the river nymphs transformed Syrinx into the reeds growing on the river bank.
By the time Pan managed to reach Syrinx and spread his arms to embrace and fondle her, all he found in his arms was a plain tuft of reeds. He became confused, as he could not identify which reed she became. He sighed in deep grief and the sigh sounded through the reeds, producing a sad melody. Pan was charmed and moved by the melancholy of the melody. He bunched up seven reeds in gradually decreasing lengths, and crafted a Pan Pipe, which he dedicated to the memory of his lost love and named it ‘Syrinx’.