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Pan: A Chthonic Christmas Coda

Pan fleeing Atlantiádēs. House of the Dioscuri, Pompeii.

Human above the waist but beast below, Pan (also called "Nature," or Everything) is portrayed as an enormous, shaggy, goat-footed flute player, with horns reaching up to heaven. He is illegitimate: his father was Zeus—but aren't we all children of God?—and Hubris was his mom. His sisters, the Destinies, are bastards too.

No one but Echo would have Pan for a husband. Their marriage was a flop—she always repeated what he said. Don't do that! Their only child, Iambē, or Banter, was seduced and abandoned by Pentameter, duke of Ellington, promulgator of poetry's great rule, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”

Beaten by Love at wrestling—a hard blow to the heart, Pan died on the first Christmas Day, 1 CE (or 754 AUC, as Romans say). This first became known under the emperor Tiberius (r. 14–37 CE), when a voice from offshore in Illyria told passing mariners: "Great Pan is dead!" and told them go tell what it had said.

Many think, though, that he's still alive, living with a fake ID in Costa Rica, someplace like that, but this can scarce be! Too many people would have had to cover it up, you see. Perhaps, like King Arthur on the isle of Avalon, the emperor Frederick Barbarossa in the Kyffhäuser Mountain, and many another legendary twit, he's merely sleeping in some chthonic hidey-hole and, waking, will return to us—in a little bit.

Exercise: Rewrite in pentameter.

Why? Why not! Have fun with it.

Verse contributes wit,

and Cupid's—it here seems—a her!

Memo: The English word "coda" derives from the Latin cauda, meaning "tail."

December 19, 2023


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