How Pantagruel related a very sad story of the death of the heroes.
Epitherses, the father of Aemilian the rhetorician, sailing from Greece to Italy in a ship freighted with divers goods and passengers, at night the wind failed ‘em near the Echinades, some islands that lie between the Morea and Tunis, and the vessel was driven near Paxos. When they were got thither, some of the passengers being asleep, others awake, the rest eating and drinking, a voice was heard that called aloud, Thamous! which cry surprised them all. This same Thamous was their pilot, an Egyptian by birth, but known by name only to some few travellers. The voice was heard a second time calling Thamous, in a frightful tone; and none making answer, but trembling and remaining silent, the voice was heard a third time, more dreadful than before.
This caused Thamous to answer: Here am I; what dost thou call me for? What wilt thou have me do? Then the voice, louder than before, bid him publish when he should come to Palodes, that the great god Pan was dead.
Epitherses related that all the mariners and passengers, having heard this, were extremely amazed and frighted; and that, consulting among themselves whether they had best conceal or divulge what the voice had enjoined, Thamous said his advice was that if they happened to have a fair wind they should proceed without mentioning a word on’t, but if they chanced to be becalmed he would publish what he had heard. Now when they were near Palodes they had no wind, neither were they in any current. Thamous then getting up on the top of the ship’s forecastle, and casting his eyes on the shore, said that he had been commanded to proclaim that the great god Pan was dead. The words were hardly out of his mouth, when deep groans, great lamentations, and doleful shrieks, not of one person, but of many together, were heard from the land.
The news of this — many being present then — was soon spread at Rome; insomuch that Tiberius, who was then emperor, sent for this Thamous, and having heard him gave credit to his words. And inquiring of the learned in his court and at Rome who was that Pan, he found by their relation that he was the son of Mercury and Penelope, as Herodotus and Cicero in his third book of the Nature of the Gods had written before.
For my part, I understand it of that great Saviour of the faithful who was shamefully put to death at Jerusalem by the envy and wickedness of the doctors, priests, and monks of the Mosaic law. And methinks my interpretation is not improper; for he may lawfully be said in the Greek tongue to be Pan, since he is our all. For all that we are, all that we live, all that we have, all that we hope, is him, by him, from him, and in him. He is the good Pan, the great shepherd, who, as the loving shepherd Corydon affirms, hath not only a tender love and affection for his sheep, but also for their shepherds. At his death, complaints, sighs, fears, and lamentations were spread through the whole fabric of the universe, whether heavens, land, sea, or hell.
The time also concurs with this interpretation of mine; for this most good, most mighty Pan, our only Saviour, died near Jerusalem during the reign of Tiberius Caesar.
Pantagruel, having ended this discourse, remained silent and full of contemplation. A little while after we saw the tears flow out of his eyes as big as ostrich’s eggs. God take me presently if I tell you one single syllable of a lie in the matter.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54