AIA Lecture: Music, Dance, and the Cult of Pan and the Nymphs in the Vari Cave

When and Where

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Online via Zoom


Professor Carolyn Laferrière, Department of the History of Art, Yale University


The AIA Toronto Society and the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto present an illustrated lecture:

"Music, Dance, and the Cult of Pan and the Nymphs in the Vari Cave"
Prof. Carolyn Laferrière, History of Art, Yale University

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
6 pm ET
Online via Zoom

This event is free but registration is required. Register using the button at the top of this page or via the Archaeology Centre's registration website.


Religious ritual in ancient Greece regularly incorporated music, so much so that certain instruments or vocal genres frequently became associated with the religious veneration of specific gods, such as Apollo, Dionysos, and Kybele. The rural, Attic cult of Pan and the Nymphs should also be included among this group: though little is often known about the specific practices in each individual cult, the literary and visual evidence associated with the cults make repeated reference to music performed on the pan-pipes — and to auditory and sensory stimuli more generally — as a prominent feature of these gods’ worship. Taking the Vari Cave, sacred to Pan and the Nymphs, as her case study, Laferrière considers it together with the surviving marble votive reliefs from that space, in order to explore the sounds and sensations associated with the veneration of the rural gods. Laferrière argues that the sensory experience offered by the cave and the images within it would have enhanced the worshipper’s experience of the ritual and the gods for whom they were performed. In this way, visual and auditory perceptions blurred together to create a powerful synaesthetic experience of the divine.

Contact Information


AIA Toronto Society, Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto