Greek Mythology >> Nymphs >> Naiads >> Syrinx


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River-Reed, Pan-Pipes

SYRINX was a Naiad-nymph of the river Ladon in Arkadia (southern Greece) who was pursued by the lustful god Pan. To escape him she transformed into a river-reed (Greek syrinx) from which the god crafted his famed pan-pipes (syrinx).


LADON (Ovid Metamorphoses 1.688)


SYRINX, an Arcadian nymph, who being pursued by Pan, fled into the river Ladon. and at her own request was metamorphosed into a reed. which Pan then made his flute. (Ov. Met. i. 690. &c.; comp. Voss. Virg. Ecl. p. 33.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 689 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Once there lived on the cold mountainsides of Arcadia a Naias (Naiad), who among the Hamadryades Nonacrinae (Hamadryads of Nonacris) was the most renowned. Syrinx the Nymphae (Nymphs) called her. Many a time she foiled the chasing Satyri and those gods who haunt the shady copses and the coverts of the lush countryside. In her pursuits--and in her chastity--Syrinx revered Ortygia [Artemis]; girt like her she well might seem, so easy to mistake, Diana's [Artemis'] self, were not her bow of horn, Latonia's [Artemis'] gold. Indeed she was mistaken. Pan returning from Mount Lycaeus, crowned with his wreath of pine, saw Syrinx once and said--but what he said remained to tell, and how the scornful Nympha fled through the wilderness and came at last to Ladon's peaceful sandy stream, and there, her flight barred by the river, begged her Watery Sisters (Sorores Liquidae) to change her; and, when Pan thought he had captured her, he held instead only the tall marsh reeds, and, while he sighed, the soft wind stirring in the reeds sent forth a thin and plaintive sound; and he, entranced by this new music and its witching tones, cried ‘You and I shall stay in unison!’ And waxed together reeds of different lengths and made the pipes that keep his darling's name."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 16. 332 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Pan cried out : ‘. . . I alone, Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite], must suffer. Alas for love! Syrinx [transformed into a reed] escaped from Pan's marriage and left him without a bride, and now she [the pipes made from the plant] cries Euoi to the newly-made marriage of Dionysos with melodies unasked; while Syrinx gives voice, and to crown all, Ekho (Echo) chimes in with her familiar note.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42. 363 ff :
"You know how Syrinx disregarded fiery Kythera (Cythera) [Aphrodite, i.e. love], and what price she paid for her too-great pride and love for virginity; how she turned into a plant with reedy growth substituted for her own, when she had fled from Pan's love, and how she still sings Pan's desire!"





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