This topic was brought to us this week by Ramana. He chose it long ago and he doesn’t really seem like the type of guy prone to it. But, we all experience it at some point in our lives. It will be interesting the see what the other members of the Loose Blogger Consortium relate it to! I’ll be checking them out and I encourage you to do the same. Links are on the right side of this page.
Sometimes, the most interesting thing about a word is its etymology, its origin. A little research led to some surprises for me:
The English word panic was derived from the French word panique; derived from the Greek word Panikos, lit. "pertaining to Pan;" in sense of "panic, fright" short for panikon deima, from neuter of Panikos "of Pan," the god of woods and fields, who was the source of mysterious sounds that caused contagious, groundless fear in herds and crowds, or in people in lonely spots.
It seems there was a Greek legend that Pan used to hide in the woods and rustle bushes as travelers walked by, sneaking ahead to the next dark spot and doing the same until, finally, the person was running headlong through the forest in a … panic!
I was wrong going into this. I had been told years ago that it was a term related to pan as the indication of “everything” and that it was an existential response to the sudden realization of “everything.” That was probably a definition that Pan spread to cover his tracks, for the sucker was notoriously unethical.
I’ve experience panic, of course, and in a similar situation to those with things being rustled in the woods. Mine was in a lonely spot, too. I thought it was bears – but now I know it was Pan.
Mine was on the return from the outhouse in the dark of night as a child. Where there is a dark void, strange sounds fill it, many imagined dangers and outcomes emerge. I set speed records getting back to the house! Fortunately, I was at a point when I was at my lightest.