Plutarch writes that during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, an Egyptian pilot, Thamus, sailing to Italy, was called by a strange voice, which cried out to him: “Thamus, when you reach Palodes, tell them that the great god Pan is dead!” Following certain portents, Thamus did as he was told; Plutarch writes that a great lamentation rose from the shore at this news.
The story has long been seen as a symbolic representation of the death of the Classical world and its replacement by Christianity — a process which actually occurred, with much strife and agony, over the next few centuries.
The piece below is a telescoped glimpse at this process, whose faint afterglow can still be seen, and felt, in our world today, in myriad forms.
Where were you when they raised the cry
That the great god Pan is dead?
The sailors hauled up near the shore
While the dawn was glowing red.
With a single voice, they made lament
So that all might hear and know
That a mighty force had left the world
And joined the shades below.
It echoed through the woods and hills,
And down every mountain stream.
The earth itself looked dazed and pale,
As if shaken from a dream.
The roaring sun turned dark at noon,
And a shiver split the ground.
And every beast of field and sky
Cried havoc all around.
Oh, yesterday the world was filled with the pulse of wild joy
Now we cower in the shadow of the all-devouring void
The murk is thick and every path we take is choked with thorns
And where the bride once stood arrayed, a lonely widow mourns
O darling, hold on tight to me,
A change is gonna come:
A different way to live and see –
No more the pipe and drum.
No more the trance in ivy-time,
No more the dance and flow.
The saints will ride with fire and sword
To strike the final blow.
Words and music © 2012 by Chris Floyd