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[408a] is wily and deceptive in speech, and is oratorical. All this activity is concerned with the power of speech. Now, as I said before, εἴρειν denotes the use of speech; moreover, Homer often uses the word ἐμήσατο, which means “contrive.” From these two words, then, the lawgiver imposes upon us the name of this god who contrived speech and the use of speech—εἴρεινmeans “speak”— [408b] and tells us: “Ye human beings, he who contrived speech (εἴρειν ἐμήσατο) ought to be called Eiremes by you.” We, however, have beautified the name, as we imagine, and call him Hermes. Iris also seems to have got her name from εἴρειν, because she is a messenger.

Hermogenes
By Zeus, I believe Cratylus was right in saying I was not Hermogenes; I certainly am no good contriver of speech.

Socrates
And it is reasonable, my friend, that Pan is the double-natured son of Hermes. [408c]

Hermogenes
How is that?

Socrates
You know that speech makes all things (πᾶν) known and always makes them circulate and move about, and is twofold, true and false.

Hermogenes
Certainly.

Socrates
Well, the true part is smooth and divine and dwells aloft among the gods, but falsehood dwells below among common men, is rough and like the tragic goat1; for tales and falsehoods are most at home there, in the tragic life.

Hermogenes
Certainly.

Socrates
Then Pan, who declares and always moves (ἀεὶ πολῶν) all, is rightly called goat-herd (αἰπόλος), [408d] being the double-natured son of Hermes, smooth in his upper parts, rough and goat-like in his lower parts. And Pan, if he is the son of Hermes, is either speech or the brother of speech, and that brother resembles brother is not at all surprising. But, as I said, my friend, let us get away from the gods.

Hermogenes
From such gods as those, if you like, Socrates; but why should you not tell of another kind of gods, such as sun, moon, stars, earth, [408e] ether, air, fire, water, the seasons, and the year?

Socrates
You are imposing a good many tasks upon me; however, if it will give you pleasure, I am willing.

Hermogenes
It will give me pleasure.

Socrates
What, then, do you wish first? Shall we discuss the sun (Ἥλιος), as you mentioned it first?

Hermogenes
By all means.

Socrates
I think it would be clearer


1 The chorus of the primitive performances from which tragedy developed appeared as satyrs, clad in goat-skins. Hence the name τραγῳδία (goat-song). The adjective τραγικός may mean either “goat-like” or “tragic.” In this passage it has both meanings.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO PAN
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