Greek Mythology >> Greek Gods >> Rustic Gods >> Phaunus (Phaunos)


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PHAUNOS (Phaunus) was a god of forests. In Nonnus' Dionysiaca he was one of the rustic deities to accompany Dionysos in his war against the Indians.

This page does not include information on the Roman god Faunus, only his incarnation as Phaunos in Greek literature. Most ancient authors identified Faunus with the Greek god Pan.


POSEIDON & KIRKE (Dionysiaca 13.327 & 37.10)


Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 327 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Rhea summons rustic deities to the army of Dionysos for his campaign against the Indians :] Phaunos [Faunus] came, leaving the firesealed Pelorian plain of three-peak Sikelia (Sicily) the rocky, whom Kirke (Circe) bore embraced by Kronion (Cronion) of the Deep [i.e. Poseidon], Kirke the witch of many poisons, Aietas' (Aeetes') sister, who dwelt in the deep-shadowed cells of a rocky palace."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 10 ff :
"[During the Indian War of Dionysos :] When Dionysos saw friendly calm instead of war, early in the morning he sent out mules and their attendant men to bring dry wood from the mountains, that he might burn with fire the dead body of Opheltes. Their leader into the forest of pines was Phaunos [Faunus] who was well practised in the secrets of the lonely thickets which he knew so well, for he had learnt about the highland haunts of Kirke (Circe) his mother. The woodman's axe cut down the trees in long rows. Many an elm was felled by the long edge of the axe, many an oak with leaves waving high struck down with a crash, many a pine lay all along, many a fir stooped its dry needles; as the trees were felled far and wide, little by little the rocks were bared. So many a Hamadryade Nymphe sought another home, and swiftly joined the unfamiliar maids of the brooks. Parties coming up would often meet, men on the hills traversing different mountain-paths. One saw them up aloft, out in front, coming down, crossing over, with feet wandering in all directions. The sticks were packed in bundles with ropes well twisted and fastened tight and trim, and laid on the mules' backs; the animals set out in lines, and the hooves rang on the mountain-paths as they hurried along, the surface of the sandy dust was burdened by heavy logs dragged behind. Satyroi (Satyrs) and Panes were busy; some cut wood with axes, some pulled it from tree after tree with their hands, or lifted trunks with untiring arms and rattled over the rocks with dancing feet."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 56 ff :
"[A pyre is built for Opheltes, a friend of Dionysos who was killed in the war against the Indians :] Now fire was wanted. So Phaunos [Faunus] the son of rock-loving Kirke (Circe), the frequenter of the wilderness, who dwelt in the Tyrsenian land, who had learnt as a boy the works of his wild mother, brought from a rock the firebreeding stones which are tools of the mountain lore; and from a place where thunderbolts falling from heaven had left trusty signs of victory, he brought the relics of the divine fire to kindle the pyre of the dead. With the sulphur of the divine bolt he smeared and anointed the hollows of the two fire-breeding stones. Then he scraped off a light dry sprig of Erythraian growth and put it between the two stones; he rubbed them to and fro, and thus striking the male against the female, he drew forth the fire hidden in the stone to a spontaneous birth, and applied it to the pure where the wood from the forest lay."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 165 ff :
"[At the funeral games of Opheltes Phaunos entered the chariot race:] Fourth Phaunos [Faunus] leapt up, who came into the assembly alone bearing the semblance of his mother's father [Helios the Sun], with four horses under his yoke like Helios."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 37. 230 ff :
"Horsemad Phaunos [Faunus], offspring of the famous blood of Phaethon." [I.e. Phaunos was a son of Kirke, daughter of Helios, and so a nephew of Phaethon.]




A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.