in Roman religion, the god of the countryside, similar in character to Faunus, the god of animals, with whom he is often identified; he is usually depicted in the guise of a countryman. Initially the spirit of the unreclaimed woodland fringing the settlement, he had some of the menace of the unknown. As clearings pushed back the forest, he evolved into a god of woodland pastures, of boundaries, and of villas, parks, and gardens. He never enjoyed a state cult or temple, but the simple ritual of his private worship at a sacred grove or tree had a universal appeal. In Latin literature his character tended to merge with that of the Greek god Silenus, a minor woodland deity, or Pan, a god of forests, pastures, and shepherds, and to be assimilated into the Greco-Roman mythological tradition.
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