The son of SATURNUS, to start with he was a perfectly normal run-of-the-mill demi-god. He became the first king of Latium and was famous for delivering oracles by tapping on a piece of wood. This made him very popular with his subjects. Advice on tap.
As his fame spread, CIRCE the Greek enchantress decided she fancied him. But he was engaged to CANENS and spurned her advances. Rejecting a witch’s passion usually leads to trouble — they are a melting pot of wild emotions and tend to explode when love doesn’t go their way.
The furious CIRCE lashed out with a spell and PICUS was changed into a woodpecker. This made the peasants like him even more. Who doesn’t love a woodpecker?
PICUS flew off and became an agricultural deity specializing in the fertility of crops. Hence the expression ‘keep your pecker up’. Some say he even has a connection with fertilizer god STERCULIUS. But he never lost his prognostication powers and still taps out his wise messages to this day. He is particularly good at forecasting rain. If you hear a woodpecker in the woods, you know it’s time to reach for your umbrella.
In the deity pecking order, PICUS is also reputed to be the father of frolicking woodland celebrity FAUNUS. We can only presume this event happened before his woodpecker transformation.