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Faunus

or Fatuus. “The well-wisher” (from favere), or perhaps “the speaker” (from fari). (On the etymology of the word see Nettleship, Lectures and Essays, pp. 50-54). One of the oldest and most popular Roman deities, who was identified with the Greek Pan on account of the similarity of their attributes. (See Pan.) As a good spirit of the forest, plains, and fields, he gave fruitfulness to the cattle, and was hence called Inuus. With all this he was also a god of prophecy, called by the name of Fatuus, with oracles in the sacred groves of Tibur, around the well Albunea, and on the Aventine. The responses were said to have been given in Saturnian verse. (Cf. Varro, L. L. vii. 36.) Faunus revealed the future in dreams and strange voices, communicated to his votaries while sleeping in his precincts upon the fleeces of sacrificed lambs. A goddess of like attributes, called Fauna and Fatua, was associated in his worship. She was regarded sometimes as his wife, sometimes as his sister. (See Bona Dea.) Just as Pan was accompanied by the Πανίσκοι, or little Pans, so the existence of many Fauni was assumed besides the chief Faunus. They were imagined as merry, capricious beings, and in particular as mischievous goblins who caused nightmares. In fable Faunus appears as an old king of Latium, son of Picus, and grandson of Saturnus, father of Latinus by the nymph Marica. After his death he is raised to the position of a tutelary deity of the land, for his many services to agriculture and cattle-breeding. Two festivals, called Faunalia, were celebrated in his honour—one on the 13th of February, in the temple

Faunus. (Gori,
Gem. Ant. Flor.
vol. i. pl. 94.)

on the island in the Tiber, the other on the 5th of December, when the peasants brought him rustic offerings and amused themselves with dancing.

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