AskDefine | Define faun

Dictionary Definition

faun n : ancient Italian deity in human shape, with horns, pointed ears and a goat's tail; equivalent to Greek satyr

User Contributed Dictionary




faun (plural fauns)
  1. A mythical creature with the lower body of a goat and the upper body of a man, occasionally with horns and/or a long tail.


Extensive Definition

In Roman mythology, fauns are place-spirits (genii) of untamed woodland. Romans connected their fauns with the Greek satyrs, wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Bacchus (Greek Dionysus). However, fauns and satyrs were originally quite different creatures. Both have horns and both resemble goats below the waist, humans above; but originally satyrs had human feet, fauns goatlike hooves. The Romans also had a god named Faunus and goddess Bona Dea(female faun), who, like the fauns, were goat-people.
The Barberini Faun (Glyptothek, Munich, Germany) is a Hellenistic marble, c. 200 BCE (Before Common Era) that was found in the Mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian (the Castel Sant'Angelo) and installed at Palazzo Barberini by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII), the patron of Bernini, who heavily restored and refinished it, so that its present 'Hellenistic baroque' aspect may be enhanced.

Fauns in fiction

The Marble Faun (1860) is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne set in Rome. The faun of the title epitomizes the natural, carefree Count Donatello: "Our friend Donatello is the very Faun of Praxiteles. Is it not true, Hilda?" is the opening remark as four young art-minded friends gather in the sculpture-gallery in the Capitoline Museums at Rome. "In truth, allowing for the difference of costume, and if a lion's skin could have been substituted for his modern talma, and a rustic pipe for his stick, Donatello might have figured perfectly as the marble Faun, miraculously softened into flesh and blood," Hawthorne allows. Later, Donatello's murderous crime of passion will destroy him and transform the other characters. (The "Faun of Praxiteles", as Hawthorne describes it, is an imaginary sculpture loosely based on Praxiteles' Hermes.)
In William Faulkner's short story "Black Music"(1934) Draughtsman Wilfred Midgleston believes he was transformed into a "farn" en route to show a client blueprints.
In C. S. Lewis' classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a faun named Mr. Tumnus is the first creature Lucy meets in Narnia. He tries to kidnap her because she is a daughter of Eve, putting Lucy under an enchantment with his flute, but is suddenly convicted of his great evil, and has a change of heart.
In Piers Anthony's fantasy novel series, The Magic of Xanth, fauns are present as well as a main character in the book Faun & Games.
In the Spyro the Dragon series of video games, a faun named Elora makes appearances in two of the games, most prominently in the realm of Avalar, her home. Several other fauns, both male and female, appear in two of the worlds of Avalar's sub-realm, Autumn Plains. The female fauns, which act in a sort of valley girl manner, are in the world of Fracture Hills, while the male fauns are in Magma Cone.
In Guillermo del Toro's 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno), a faun (Doug Jones), whose many ancient names are now known "only by the wind and trees", guides Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) through the three tasks she must perform in order to return to the kingdom in the netherworld where her former incarnation was once a princess. Note: The faun in this movie is different from most fauns because it was made of earth and trees rather than just a goat and a man.
In Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre, Andre Gregory relates the story of Scottish mathmatician Robert Ogilvie Crombie's twentieth-century encounter with a faun (and later Pan himself). Andre presents the tale as fact. His dining partner, Wallace Shawn, initially confuses the word "faun" with "fawn," protesting, "I thought a fawn was a baby deer."

See also

faun in Danish: Faunus
faun in German: Faunus
faun in Estonian: Faunid
faun in Spanish: Fauno
faun in Persian: فان
faun in Finnish: Faunis
faun in French: Faune (mythologie)
faun in Italian: Fauno
faun in Dutch: Faun
faun in Polish: Faun
faun in Portuguese: Fauno
faun in Swedish: Faunus

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Cailleac, Faunus, Pan, Priapus, Vidar, Vitharr, corn spirit, fertility god, field spirit, forest god, panisc, panisca, paniscus, satyr, silenus, sylvan deity, the goat god, vegetation spirit
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