Roswell: The Great Pan is dead!
In Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend [Gambit Inc., Boston, 1969], the authors, in Chapter XXI (Page 275 ff.), recount the famous tale from Plutarch about how, on board a ship with many passengers, sailing near the Echinades Islands, Epitherses (son of Aemilianus) tells that Thamus, the Egyptian pilot, heard a voice, while near the island of Paxi, calling his name.
Thamus, at first did not reply, but after a third time he responded to the voice, which said, “When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.”
Thamus, Epittherses, and the passengers were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether to carry out the order or not.
Thamus, however, while approaching Palodes said the words, “Great Pan is dead.”
A great cry of woe, by many on the land, went up, and eventually spread to Rome, where Tiberius Caesar called for an investigation as to the truth of the profound rumor.
Plutarch, himself, did not accept the acclimation and suggested that the shouts from Paxi were misunderstood by Thamus and the story became embroidered by the masses, encouraged by the fact that Tiberius had called for an official investigation, apparently giving some credence to the tale.
The authors write this, “One is still allowed to wonder why such a fuss was made at the time about [the] exclamations…and why…that most learned of mythologists, the Emperor Tiberius himself, thought the matter worth following up.” [Page 276]
The significance of the tale is many. Firstly Pan was considered a major God, and equatable, in some quarters, with Jesus who was crucified during the reign of Tiberius.
Secondly, the tale strikes at the heart of the prevailing belief system of the time, Paganism.
Thirdly, the tale continues to be remunerated upon to this day (by scholars and mythologists, mostly).
And finally, Great Pan is dead was retold in many configurations over the years, such as it was Tammuz-Adonis, the grain god who died, the yoke-bearer, Giki-Gaki is dead on the Hurgergorn, and the Fanggen, a kind of “Little People” (or giants!?) disappeared in the Tyrol.
How does this tale relate to Roswell?
The Chapter (and book, in toto) elaborates on how history and events are muddled by belief systems, what people wish to hear, and Chapter IV (History, Myth and Reality) examples instances where events are confabulated or twisted, often inadvertently, by a jumping to conclusions inspired by entrenched beliefs and/or stories heard, many times, over the years.
Hamlet’s Mill treats great myths and tales that affect or have affected humanity in significant ways, over the millennia.
Roswell is not significant, nor worthy of a Myth status, Gilles Fernandez notwithstanding, but it has developed the status of mythos, in the sociological sense.
(Mythos -- the complex of beliefs, values, attitudes, etc, characteristic of a specific group or society)
What was decried by Thamus may be seen as similar to what was decried at Roswell: The Army Air Force has captured a Flying Saucer.
The “heard refrain” at Roswell has been elaborated upon and added to, much like that which happened when “The Great Pan is dead” was taken as a profound truth by those hearing about the announcement and taking it to varying interpretations, far and wide, subjecting it to the vicissitudes of many locales and peoples.
The original story – the original announcement – has been taken apart by “researchers” and recast by those same “researchers” into many guises, all adumbrated to enhance whatever belief system held in the mind of a particular “researcher” – some preferring the extraterrestrial cast, some preferring a secret military cast, and others eschewing any cast at all, debunking the tale, altogether, as Euhemeros, the first debunker, did with myth.
Roswell is a story, with a core truth at its center. What that core truth may be has been lost to time, and the ineptitude of those who gathered the remnants of the original tale twwnty years after the “event” allegedly took place.
Can the story be cleansed of the accretions? Not easily, if at all.
The Roswell tale has been concretized into a myth (or, better, mythos) as CDA and Gilles Fernandez continue to decry.
It can’t be scrubbed clean, that’s a certainty, which Nick Redfern and this writer (among others) think is the case.
But others, David Rudiak, Stanton Friedman, Kevin Randle, et al., will continue to promote the mythology, because, for them, mythos is more important than truth.