PENELOPEIA (or Penelope) was a Dryad nymph of Mount Kyllene (Cyllene) in Arkadia, southern Greece. She was a daughter of Dryopos "Oak-Face" and the mother of the Pan by Hermes.
Penelopeia was frequently confounded with Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, and many ancient writers constructed stories to explain how that woman came to bear a goat-bodied god.
Her name may have been derived from the Greek words pênê and lopas "needle and thread," or else from pan and lopos "to peel-away-all" (i.e. to skin an animal). The latter is etymology is surely more appropriate for a mother of Pan, the god of hunters.
She is related to the nymphs Sose and Thymbris, who are both named as the mother of Pan in alternative accounts. As the daughter of Dryopos she was also apparently confused with Dryope, the princes of Mount Oita, who was seduced by the god Apollon in the shape of a tortoise--a guise more properly suited to Hermes in his seduction of the daughter of Dryopos.
|[1.1] DRYOPOS * (Homeric Hymn 19 to Pan)
|[1.1] PAN (by Hermes) * (Homeric Hymns 19 to Pan, Herodotus 2.153.1, Apollodorus E7.38, Hyginus Fabulae 224)
PAN-NOMIOS (by Hermes) (Nonnus Dionysiaca 14.67)
* N.B. In the Homeric Hymn, the mother of Pan is simply named "the daughter of Dryopos." Presumably her proper name is Penelopeia, as attested by later writers.
Homeric Hymn 19 to Pan (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"Hermes . . . came to Arkadia (Arcadia) . . . there where his sacred place is as god of Kyllene (Cyllene). For there, though a god, he used to tend curly-fleeced sheep in the service of a mortal man, because there fell on him and waxed a strong melting desire to wed the rich-tressed daughter of Dryopos (Oak-Face), and there he brought about the merry marriage. And in the house she bare Hermes a dear son who from his birth was marvellouse to look upon, with goat's feet and two horns--a noisy, merry-laughing child. But when the nurse saw his uncouth face and full beard, she was afraid and sprang up and fled and left the child. Then luck-bringing Hermes received him and took him in his arms: very glad in his heart was the god."
[N.B. The daughter of Dryopos is Penelopeia, although she is not named as such in this work.]
Herodotus, Histories 2. 153. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Pan is held to be the youngest of the gods . . . and Pan the son of Penelope, for according to the Greeks Penelope and Hermes were the parents of Pan, was [first worshipped in Greece] about eight hundred years before me [Herodotus], and thus of a later date than the Trojan war."
[N.B. Here Penelope mother of Pan is identified with the wife of Odysseus.]
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E7. 39 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Some say that Penelope [wife of Odysseus] was seduced by Antinous [one the suitors], and returned by Odysseus to her father Ikarios, and that when she reached Mantineia in Arkadia, she bore Pan, to Hermes."
[N.B. Again the Arkadian nymph is confused with the wife of Odysseus and a bridging myth invented to explain the discrepancies.]
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 224 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Mortals who were made immortal . . . Pan, son of Mercurius [Hermes] and Penelope."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 67 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Panes, the sons of Hermes, who divided his love between two Nymphai; for one he visited the bed of Sose . . . and begat a son [the Pan] Agreus . . . the other was Nomios, whom the pasturing sheep loved well, one practised in the shepherd’s pipe, for whom Hermes sought the bed of Penelopeia the country Nymphe."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 77 ff :
"Hermes . . . held his own child, the son of Penelope, hornstrong hairy Pan."
- The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th B.C.
- Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.