An Italian god of agriculture, and especially of manure, hence called son of Stercutus
(“the dunger”—i. e. Saturn). He also appears as a forest-god
with prophetic powers, and as father of Faunus (Verg.
Aen. viii. 48
). In Latin legend he plays a prominent part as a warlike
hero, the earliest king of Latium, of great wealth, who was finally changed into a woodpecker
) (ib. 187- 190). According to Ovid (
Met. xiv. 320
-396), this was because he spurned the love of
Circé and was faithful to the beautiful nymph Canens. Probably Picus was originally
the woodpecker, the symbol of Mars as giver of fertility and warlike prowess, and from this
symbol there was developed a separate deity.