Faun

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The faun (also phaunos or faunus) is a rustic forest god or place-spirit (genii) of Roman mythology often associated with Greek satyrs and the Greek god Pan[1].

Contents

Origins

The faun is a half human - half goat (from the head to the waist being the human half, but with the addition of goat's horns) manifestation of forest and animal spirits which would help or hinder humans at whim. Romans believed fauns inspired fear in men traveling in lonely, remote or wild places but were also capable of guiding humans in need.

These beliefs have their roots in Greek mythology - Nonnus' Dionysiaca gives the following description of the faun's relationship with nature:

Though the text uses the word phaunus and describes the nature-spirit faun, the followers of Dionysus (Bacchus in later Roman mythology) are more accurately satyrs; the wild and orgiastic spirits that harassed nymphs[2]. Fauns and satyrs were originally quite different creatures: whereas fauns are half-man and half-goat, satyrs originally were depicted as stocky, hairy, ugly dwarfs or wood woses with the ears and tails of horses or asses.

Ancient Roman mythological belief also included a god named Faunus and a goddess named Fauna who were goat-people.

Fauns in art

The Barberini Faun (located in the Glyptothek in Munich, Germany) is a Hellenistic marble statue from c. 200 BC that was found in the Mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian (the Castel Sant'Angelo) and installed at Palazzo Barberini by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII). Gian Lorenzo Bernini restored and refinished the statue.

The House of the Faun was so named because of the dancing faun statue found at the house.

Fauns in fiction

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