Ancient Italian rural deity, the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Pan. The grandson of Saturn, he was depicted as half-man, half-goat, like a satyr. He was first worshiped as a god who bestowed fertility on fields and flocks, but he ended as a woodland deity. His companions were known as fauns.
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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. As Pan was accompanied by the Paniskoi, or little Pans, so the existence of many Fauni was assumed besides the chief Faunus (Peck 1898). 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.
Faunus was known as the father or husband or brother of Bona Dea (Fauna, his feminine side) and Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also sometimes Faunus' mother). Fauns are place-spirits (genii) of untamed woodland. Educated Romans connected their fauns with the Greek satyrs, who were wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Dionysus, with a distinct origin.
Two festivals, called Faunalia, were celebrated in his honour--one on the 13th of February, in the temple of Faunus 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 (Peck 1898).
A euhemeristic account made Faunus a Latin king, son of Picus and Canens. He was then revered as the god Fatuus after his death, worshipped in a sacred forest outside what is now Tivoli, but had been known since Etruscan times as Tibur, the seat of the Tiburtine Sibyl. His numinous presence was recognized by wolf skins, with wreaths and goblets.