Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Fredsvenn:


    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent
    ---
    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

    All the texts are published under Creative Common-license [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.no Navngivelse-DelPåSammeVilkår 3.0]

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    Sjur C. Papazian

    Sjur C. Papazian

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  • Transformasjon

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  • Pendant from Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Syria)

  • Sørvest Asia – før og nå

    Den fruktbare halvmåne er en betegnelse på et gammelt fruktbart område nord, øst og vest for den arabiske ørken i Sørvest-Asia. Mesopotamia-dalen og Nil-dalen kommer inn under dette begrepet selv om det i fjellsonen rundt Mesopotamia en naturlig avgrensning i jordbrukshistorisk forstand.

    Som resultat av en rekke unike geografiske faktorer har Den fruktbare halvmåne en imponerende historie av tidlig menneskelig jordbruksaktivitet og kulturdanning. Foruten mange arkeologiske funnsteder med rester av skjeletter og kulturelle levninger så er området først og fremst kjent for dets funnsteder knyttet til jordbrukets opprinnelse og utvikling i den neolittiske tidsalder.

    Det var her, i de skogkledde fjellskråningene i randsonen av dette området, at jordbruket oppsto i et økologisk avgrenset miljø. Den vestlige sonen og områdene rundt øvre Eufrat ga vekst til de første kjente neolittiske jordbruks-samfunnene med små, runde hus, også referert til som førkeramisk neolittisk A, som dateres til like etter 10.000 f.vt. og omfatter steder som Jeriko, som er verdens eldste by.

    Under den påfølgende PPNB fra 9 000 f.vt. utviklet disse samfunnene seg til større landsbyer med dyrking og husdyrhold som viktigste levevei, med tett bebyggelse i to-etasjers, rektangulære hus. Mennesket inngikk nå i symbiose med korn- og husdyrartene, uten mulighet til å vende tilbake til jeger- og sankersamfunnet.

    Området vest og nord for slettelandet ved Eufrat og Tigris så også framveksten av tidlige komplekse samfunn i den langt senere bronsealderen (fra ca 4 000 f.vt.). Det er også tidlige bevis for skriftkultur og tidlige statsdannelser fra samme tid i dette nordlige steppeområdet, selv om de skriftlige statsdannelsene relativt raskt flyttet sitt tyngdepunkt ned i Mesopotamia-dalen og utviklet seg der. Området har derfor hos svært mange forfattere fått betegnelsen «sivilisasjonens vugge».

    Området har opplevd en rekke omveltninger, og nye stasdannelser. Nå sist da staten Tyrkia ble dannet i etterkant av ungtyrkernes folkemord på blant annet de pontiske grekere, armenere og assyrere under den første verdenskrig. Det antas at to tredeler til tre firedeler av alle armenere i regionen døde.

    Det er nå på tide at folkemordet mot de pontiske grekere, assyrere og armenere anerkjennes, at Israels okkupasjon, bosetting og vold palestinerne opphører, samt at de ulike minoritetene i området får leve sine livi fred - uten vold og trusler fra majoritetsbefolkninger eller fra Vesten, og da spesifikt USA.

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The stone gigant

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2015

Ullikummi

Atlas

In Hurrian mythology, Ullikummi is a giant stone monster, son of Kumarbi and the sea god’s daughter. Ullikummi’s older brother, Hedammu, is a sea monster and appropriately the son of the sea god’s daughter, Sertapsuruhi.

The narrative of Ullikummi is one episode, the best preserved and most complete, in an epic cycle of related “songs” about the god Kumarbi, who aimed to replace the weather god Teshub and destroy the city of Kummiya.

To this end Kumarbi fathered upon a rock cliff a genderless, deaf, blind, yet sentient pillar of volcanic rock, Ullikummi, which he hid in the netherworld and placed on the shoulder of Upelluri.

Upelluri, absorbed in his meditations, did not feel Ullikummi on his shoulder. Upelluri stands in the netherworld, holding the earth and sky on his shoulder like the Greek Atlas; a mere giant such as Ullikummi is barely noticeable, although Upelluri does feel a bit of pain in his shoulder once Ullikummi has grown up.

Ullikummi grew quickly until he reached the heavens. Ullikummi’s brother Teshub thundered and rained on Ullikummi, but it did not harm him. Teshub fled and abdicated the throne. The weather god and his vizier and brother, Tasmisu, are defeated in their first battle with Ullikummi, as Tasmisu relates to Teshub’s wife, Hebat; as a result Teshub is banished to a “little place,” probably meaning a grave.

Teshub asked Ea (Enki), who lives in the Apsu, underground source of earth’s waters, for help. Ea obtains the toothed cutting tool with which heaven and earth were cut apart shortly after creation; this tool will disable Ullikummi.

Ea visited Upelluri and cut off the feet of Ullikummi, toppling him. Ea cuts Ullikummi loose from Upelluri’s shoulder and then urges the weather god to fight again. The end of the story is broken away and scholars simply assume Ullikummi is finally defeated.

The Hittite counterpart was Ubelluris, a mountain god who carried the western edge of the sky on his shoulders.

The “song of Ullikummi” was recognized from its first rediscovery as a predecessor of Greek myths in Hesiod. Parallels to the Greek myth of Typhoeus, the ancient antagonist of the thunder-god Zeus, have been elucidated by Walter Burkert, Oriental and Greek Mythology, pp. 19–24, and Caucasian parallels in his “Von Ullikummi zum Kaukasus: Die Felsgeburt des Unholds”, Würzburger Jahrbücher N. F., 5 (1979) pp. 253–61.

In Arabian mythology Bahamut or Bahamoot is a vast fish acting as one of the layers that supports the earth. In some sources, Bahamut is described as having a head resembling a hippopotamus or elephant. Bahamut is described as so immense that a human cannot bear its sight; “[all] the seas of the world, placed in one of the fish’s nostrils, would be like a mustard seed laid in the desert.”

In Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings, Bahamut is “altered and magnified” from Behemoth, a beast mentioned in Job 40:15–24. Suggested identities range from a mythological creature to an elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros or buffalo.

In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who held up the sky. He is also the titan of astronomy and navigation. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa (Modern-day Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). The first part of the term Atlantic Ocean refers to “Sea of Atlas”, the term Atlantis refers to “island of Atlas”.

Atlas, and his brothers Menoetius, Prometheus and Epimetheus, were the sons of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Asia or Clymene. In contexts where a Titan and a Titaness are assigned each of the seven planetary powers, Atlas is paired with Phoebe and governs the moon. Hyginus emphasises the primordial nature of Atlas by making him the son of Aether and Gaia.

Sources describe Atlas as the father, by different goddesses, of numerous children, mostly daughters. Some of these are assigned conflicting or overlapping identities or parentage in different sources.

Atlas and his brother Menoetius sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. When the Titans were defeated, many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up The Heavens on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace.

Thus, he was Atlas Telamon, “enduring Atlas,” and became a doublet of Coeus, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve. According to the ancient poet Hesiod Atlas stood at the ends of the earth towards the west.

A common misconception today is that Atlas was forced to hold the Earth on his shoulders, but Classical art shows Atlas holding the celestial spheres, not a globe; the solidity of the marble globe born by the renowned Farnese Atlas may have aided the conflation, reinforced in the 16th century by the developing usage of atlas to describe a corpus of terrestrial maps.

Menoetius, who was killed by Zeus with a flash of lightning, means “doomed might”, deriving from the Ancient Greek words menos (“might, power”) and oitos (“doom, pain”). Hesiod described Menoetius as hubristic, meaning exceedingly prideful and impetuous to the very end. From what his name suggests along with Hesiod’s account, Menoetius was perhaps the Titan god of violent anger and rash action.

The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain. Virgil took pleasure in translating etymologies of Greek names by combining them with adjectives that explained them: for Atlas his adjective is durus, “hard, enduring”, which suggested to George Doig that Virgil was aware of the Greek τλῆναι “to endure”.

Doig offers the further possibility that Virgil was aware of Strabo’s remark that the native North African name for this mountain was Douris. Since the Atlas mountains rise in the region inhabited by Berbers, it has been suggested that the name might be taken from one of the Berber, specifically ádrār ‘mountain’.

Traditionally historical linguists etymologize the Ancient Greek word Ἄτλας (genitive: Ἄτλαντος) as comprised from copulative α- and the Proto-Indo-European root *telh₂- ‘to uphold, support’ (whence also τλῆναι), and which was later reshaped to an nt-stem.

However, Robert Beekes argues that it cannot be expected that this ancient Titan carries an Indo-European name, and that we’re rather dealing with the word of Pre-Greek origin which often end in -ant.

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Draco and Drakaina

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2015

Dragons

European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe. Roman dragons evolved from serpentine Greek ones, combined with the dragons of the Near East, in the mix that characterized the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. From Babylon, the muš-ḫuššu (formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) was a classic representation of a Near Eastern dragon.

In the Roman Empire, each military cohort had a particular identifying signum (military standard), after the Parthian and Dacian Wars of Trajan in the east, the Dacian Draco military standard entered the Legion with the Cohors Sarmatarum and Cohors Dacorum (Sarmatian and Dacian cohorts)—a large dragon fixed to the end of a lance, with large, gaping jaws of silver and with the rest of the body formed of colored silk. With the jaws facing into the wind, the silken body inflated and rippled, resembling a windsock.

In the modern period, the European dragon is typically depicted as a huge, fire-breathing, scaly, horned, lizard-like creature; the creature also has leathery, bat-like wings, four legs, and a long, muscular prehensile tail. Some depictions show dragons with feathered wings, crests, fiery manes, ivory spikes running down its spine, and various exotic decorations.

In folktales, dragon’s blood often contains magical properties. For example, in the opera Siegfried, dragon’s blood allows Siegfried to understand the language of the Forest Bird. The typical dragon protects a cavern or castle filled with gold and treasure and is often associated with a great hero who tries to slay it.

Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth. Possibly, the dragons of European and Mid-Eastern mythology stem from the cult of snakes found in religions throughout the world.

John’s Book of Revelation—Greek literature, not Roman—describes Satan as “a great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns”. Much of John’s literary inspiration is late Hebrew and Greek, but John’s dragon is more likely to have come originally through the Near East.

Several vague incarnations of evil in the Old Testament were given the translation draco in Jerome’s Vulgate, to undergo changes in meaning and become broad embodiments of evil.

Draco – the constellation

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco. Draco can be seen all year from northern latitudes.

Draco

In Greco- Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat. The dragon was one of the Gigantes, who battled the Olympic gods for ten years. As Minerva threw the dragon, it became twisted on itself and froze at the cold North Celestial Pole before it could right itself.

Dragons play a great role in Greek mythology. Homer describes the dragons with wings and legs. In some mythology, Draco had one hundred magnificent heads, guarded the golden apple tree, and was put in the sky as a constellation for protecting the apples with valor. The constellation has been subject to many more myths, but ones that are obscure.

Ladon

Dragons in Greek mythology that may have inspired the constellation’s name include Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Hercules killed Ladon during his 12 labors; he was tasked with stealing the golden apples. The constellation of Hercules is depicted near Draco.

The Garden of the Hesperides is Hera’s orchard in the west, where either a single apple tree or a grove grows, producing golden apples that grant immortality when eaten. The trees were planted from the fruited branches that Gaia gave to Hera as a wedding gift when Hera accepted Zeus.

The Hesperides were given the task of tending to the grove, but occasionally picked apples from it themselves. Not trusting them, Hera also placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon as an additional safeguard. In the myth of the Judgement of Paris, it was from the Garden that Eris, Goddess of Discord, obtained the Apple of Discord, which led to the Trojan War.

In later years it was thought that the “golden apples” might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe and the Mediterranean before the Middle Ages. Under this assumption, the Greek botanical name chosen for all citrus species was Hesperidoeidē ( “hesperidoids”) and even today the Greek word for the orange fruit is Portokali – after the country of Portugal in Iberia near where the Garden of the Hesperides grew.

Mother Camel

Traditional Arabic astronomy does not depict a dragon in modern-day Draco, which is called the Mother Camels. Instead, two hyenas, represented by Eta Draconis and Zeta Draconis are seen attacking a baby camel (a dim star near Beta Draconis), which is protected by four female camels, represented by Beta Draconis, Gamma Draconis, Nu Draconis, and Xi Draconis. The nomads who own the camels are camped nearby, represented by a cooking tripod composed of Upsilon, Tau, and Sigma Draconis.

Hydra

In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient serpent-like water monster with reptilian traits. It possessed many heads – the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint – and for each head cut off it grew two more. It had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos, since Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian.

The Hydra was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (Theogony, 313), both of whom were noisome offspring of the earth goddess Gaia. Mythographers relate that the Lernaean Hydra and the crab were put into the sky after Heracles, represented in another constellation, slew them.

According to legend, if one of the Hydra’s heads was cut off, two more would grow in its place. However, Hercules burned out the roots of the heads he severed to prevent them from growing again, and thus overcame the hydra.

In an alternative version, Hera’s crab was at the site to bite his feet and bother him, hoping to cause his death. Hera set it in the Zodiac to follow the Lion. When the sun is in the sign of Cancer, the crab, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby.

The Greek constellation of Hydra is an adaptation of a Babylonian constellation: the MUL.APIN includes a “serpent” constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) that loosely corresponds to Hydra. It is one of two Babylonian “serpent” constellations (the other being the origin of the Greek Serpens), a mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird.

The shape of Hydra resembles a twisting snake, and features as such in some Greek myths. One myth associates it with a water snake that a crow served Apollo in a cup when it was sent to fetch water; Apollo saw through the fraud, and angrily cast the crow, cup, and snake, into the sky.

In Hindu Mythology the star that equivalents Hydra is Ashlesha. In Chinese astronomy, the stars that correspond to Hydra are located within the Vermilion Bird and the Azure Dragon. In Japanese culture, the stars are known as Nuriko.

Typhon

Sometimes, Draco is represented as the demon son of Gaia, Typhon, the most fearsome monster of Greek mythology. The last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, Typhon was, with his mate Echidna, the father of many famous monsters. The Greeks also frequently represented him as a storm-demon, especially in the version where he stole Zeus’s thunderbolts and wrecked the earth with storms (cf. Hesiod, Theogony; Nonnus, Dionysiaca).

Typhon may be derived from the Greek tuphō “to make smoke, fume, singe, burn slowly” from the Proto-Indo-European *dhuH-/*duh2-/*du̯eh2-, “smoke, steam”, by means of an enlargement *-bh-.

Typhon is the father of hot dangerous storm winds which issue forth from the stormy pit of Tartarus, according to Hesiod. Likewise, the rumblings of Typhon emitted from deepest Tartarus could be clearly heard within the underground torrent near Seleuceia, now in Turkey, until his presence was neutralized by the building of a Byzantine church nearby.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Typhon was the son of Gaia (Earth) and Tartarus: “when Zeus had driven the Titans from heaven, huge Earth bore her youngest child Typhoeus of the love of Tartarus, by the aid of golden Aphrodite”. Apollodorus adds that Gaia bore Typhon in anger at the gods for their destruction of her offspring the Giants.

Numerous other sources mention Typhon as being the offspring of Gaia, or simply “earth-born”, with no mention of Tartarus. However, according to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Typhon was the child of Hera alone. Hera angry at Zeus for having given birth to Athena by himself, prayed to Gaia to give her a son as strong as Zeus, then slapped the ground, and became pregnant. Hera gave the infant Typhon to the serpent Python to raise, and Typhon grew up to become a great bane to mortals.

Several sources locate Typhon’s birth and dwelling place in Cilicia, and in particular the region in the vicinity of the ancient Cilician coastal city of Corycus (modern Kızkalesi, Turkey). The poet Pindar calls Typhon ‘”Cilician”, and says that Typhon was born in Cilicia and nurtured in “the famous Cilician cave”, an apparent allusion to the Corycian cave. In Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, Typhon is called the “dweller of the Cilician caves”, and both Apollodorus and Nonnus have Typhon born in Cilicia.

It was in Cilicia that Zeus battled with the ancient monster and overcame him, in a more complicated story: It was not an easy battle, and Typhon temporarily overcame Zeus, cut the “sinews” from him and left him in the “leather sack”, the korukos that is the etymological origin of the korukion andron, the Korykian or Corycian Cave in which Zeus suffers temporary eclipse as if in the Land of the Dead.

Typhon attempts to destroy Zeus (perhaps at the will of Gaia, because of Zeus’s destruction of the Giants). Typhon overcomes Zeus in their first battle, and tears out Zeus’ sinews. However, Hermes recovers the sinews and restores them to Zeus. Typhon is finally defeated by Zeus, who traps him underneath Mount Etna.

Typhon started destroying cities and hurling mountains in a fit of rage. With the exception of Zeus, Dionysus, and Athena, the gods of Olympus fled from their home to Egypt, where they hid themselves by taking the forms of various animals.

When Athena accused Zeus of cowardice, he regained his courage and attacked the monster. The battle raged, ending when Zeus threw one hundred well aimed lightning bolts on top of Typhon, trapping him.

The inveterate enemy of the Olympian gods is described in detail by Hesiod as a vast grisly monster with a hundred serpent heads “with dark flickering tongues” flashing fire from their eyes and a din of voices and a hundred serpents for legs, a feature shared by many primal monsters of Greek myth that extend in serpentine or scaly coils from the waist down. The titanic struggle created earthquakes and tsunami.

Once conquered by Zeus’ thunderbolts, Typhon was either cast into Tartarus (Hesiod, Theogony), the common destiny of many such archaic adversaries, or confined beneath Mount Etna (Hesiod, Theogony; Pindar, Pythian Ode 1.19–20; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 370), where “his bed scratches and goads the whole length of his back stretched out against it”, or in other volcanic regions, where he is the cause of eruptions. Typhon is thus the chthonic figuration of volcanic forces, as Hephaestus (Roman Vulcan) is their “civilized” Olympian manifestation.

The b scholia to Iliad 2.783 preserving a possible Orphic tradition, has Typhon born from Cronus. Gaia angry at the destruction of the Giants, slanders Zeus to Hera. So Hera goes to Zeus’ father Cronus (who Zeus had overthrown) and Cronus gives Hera two eggs smeared with his own semen, telling her to bury them, and that from them would be born one who would overthrow Zeus. Hera, angry at Zeus, burries the eggs in Cilicia “under Arimon”, but when Typhon is born Hera, now reconciled with Zeus, informs him.

The region of Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia had many opportunities for coastal Hellenes’ connection with the Hittites to the north. From its first reappearance, the Hittite myth of Illuyankas has been seen as a prototype of the battle of Zeus and Typhon.

Walter Burkert and Calvert Watkins each note the close agreements. Watkins’ How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press) reconstructs in disciplined detail the flexible Indo-European poetic formula that underlies myth, epic and magical charm texts of the lashing and binding of Typhon.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job. Comparisons can also be drawn with the Mesopotamian monster Tiamat and her slaying by Babylonian chief god Marduk. The similarities between the Greek myth and its earlier Mesopotamian counterpart do not seem to be merely accidental. A number of west Semitic (Ras Shamra) and Hittite sources appear to corroborate the theory of a genetic relationship between the two myths.

Drakaina

In Greek mythology, a drakaina is a female serpent or dragon, sometimes with human-like features. Examples of the Drakaina included Campe, Delphyne, Echidna and Sybaris. The drakaina was a monster generally slain only by gods or demigods. Zeus slew Delphyne and Campe, Apollo slew Python, and Argus Panoptes slew Echidna.

However, although the word “drakaina” is literally the feminine form of drakon (Ancient Greek for dragon or serpent), most drakainas had some features of a human woman. Lamia, Campe, Echidna, and many representations of Ceto, Scylla and Delphyne had the head and torso of a woman.

Though usually this monster is the serpent Python, the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent, in the oldest account of this story, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the god kills Drakiana, a female serpent or dragon, sometimes with human-like features, subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Echidna

In Greek mythology, Echidna (“She-Viper”) was a monster, half-woman and half-snake, who lived alone in a cave. She was the mate of the most fearsome monster Typhon, and known primarily for being the mother of monsters, including other dragon-like creatures, and many of the more famous monsters in Greek myth were said to be her offspring.

Echidna’s family tree, varies by author. The oldest genealogy relating to Echidna, Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 8th – 7th century BC), is unclear at several points. According to Hesiod, Echidna was born to a “she” who was probably meant by Hesiod to be the sea goddess Ceto, making Echidna’s father (presumably) the sea god Phorcys, although the “she” might possibly refer instead to the naiad Callirhoe, which would make Chrysaor Echidna’s father. Pherecydes of Leros (5th century BC) has Echidna as the daughter of Phorkys, without naming a mother.

Other authors give Echidna other parents. According to Epimenides (as attributed by Pausanias), Echidna was the daughter of the Oceanid Styx (goddess of the river Styx) and one Peiras (otherwise unknown to Pausanias), while according to Apollodorus, Echidna was the daughter of Tartarus and Gaia. In one account, from the Orphic tradition, Echidna was the daughter of Phanes.

According to Hesiod, Echidna gave birth to Cerberus, Orthrus, the Chimera, the Nemean lion, the Sphinx and the Hydra (Other ancient authors, such as Hyginus, attribute even more monsters as children of Echidna such as the Caucasian eagle, the Crommyonian Sow, the Colchian dragon, the Harpies, Scylla, and Charybdis).

Although for Hesiod, Echidna was immortal and ageless, according to Apollodorus, Echidna continued to prey on the unfortunate “passers-by”, until she was finally killed, while she slept, by Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant who served Hera.

From the fifth century BC historian Herodotus, we learn of a creature who, though Herodotus does not name as Echidna, is called an echidna (“she-viper”) and resembles the Hesiodic Echidna in several respects. She was half woman half snake, lived in a cave, and was known as a mother figure, in this case, as the progentitor of the Scythians (rather than of monsters).

A possibly related creature to the Hesiodic Echidna is the “Viper” (Echidna) cast into an abyss in the apocryphal Acts of Philip, an unorthodox episodic apocryphal mid-to late fourth-century narrative, originally in fifteen separate acta, that gives an accounting of the miraculous acts performed by the Apostle Philip, with overtones of the heroic romance.

Called a “she dragon” (drakaina) and “the mother of the seprents”, this Echidna ruled over many other monstrous dragons and snakes, and lived in a gated temple, where she was worshipped by the people of that land. She, along with her temple and priests, was swallowed up by a hole in the ground that opened beneath her, as the result of Philip’s curse.

Echidna was perhaps associated with the monster killed by Apollo at Delphi. Though usually this monster is the serpent Python, in the oldest account of this story, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the god kills a nameless she-serpent (drakiana), subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Delphyne

Echidna and Delphyne, the name of the female dragon who was appointed by her mother, Gaia, to guard the oracle of Delphi, share several similarities. Both were half-maid and half-snake, and a plague to men. And both were intimately connected to Typhon, and associated with the Corycian cave. Python, slain by Apollo, and the earliest representations of Delphyne, are shown as simply gigantic serpents, similar to other Greek dragons.

Delphyne is sometimes called Python and may, in the stories, be replaced with or accompanied by a male dragon (either Python or Typhon). She is sometimes equated with Echidna, who was the consort of Typhon.

In one tale, Delphyne (here half maiden, half snake, like Echidna) guards the sinews of Zeus, which had been stolen by her mate Typhon. She was slain by Apollo. Apollo’s title Delphinius is, in some stories, interpreted as having come from his slaying of Delphyne (or from showing the Cretan colonists the way to Delphi whilst riding on a dolphin).

Python

In Greek mythology, Python (derived from the verb pythō, “to rot”) was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia (“Earth”). Hellenes considered the site to be the center of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo recalled that the ancient name of this site had been Krisa, Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa. Others relate that it was named Pytho and that Pythia, the priestess serving as the oracle, was chosen from their ranks by a group of priestesses who officiated at the temple.

The priestess of the oracle at Delphi became known as the Pythia, after the place-name Pytho, which Greeks explained as named after the rotting of the slain serpent’s corpse in the strength of Hyperion (day) or Helios (the sun).

Python became the chthonic enemy of the later Olympian deity Apollo, who slew him and remade Python’s former home and the oracle, the most famous in Classical Greece, as his own. Changes such as these in ancient myths may reflect a profound change in the religious concepts of Hellenic culture. Some were gradual over time and others occurred abruptly following invasion.

There are various versions of Python’s birth and death at the hands of Apollo. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, now thought to have been composed in 522 BCE during Classical times, a small detail is provided regarding Apollo’s combat with the serpent, in some sections identified as the deadly Drakaina, or her parent.

The version related by Hyginus holds that when Zeus lay with the goddess Leto, and she was to deliver Artemis and Apollo, Hera was jealous and sent Python to pursue Leto throughout the lands, so that she could not deliver wherever the sun shone.

Thus when Apollo was grown he wanted to avenge his mother’s plight and pursued Python, making his way straight for Mount Parnassus where the serpent dwelled, and chased it to the oracle of Gaia at Delphi; there he dared to penetrate the sacred precinct and kill it with his arrows beside the rock cleft where the priestess sat on her tripod.

Robert Graves, who habitually read into primitive myths a retelling of archaic political and social turmoil, saw in this the capturing by Hellenes of a pre-Hellenic shrine. “To placate local opinion at Delphi,” he wrote in The Greek Myths, “regular funeral games were instituted in honour of the dead hero Python, and her priestess was retained in office.”

The politics are conjectural, but the myth reports that Zeus ordered Apollo to purify himself for the sacrilege and instituted the Pythian Games, over which Apollo was to preside, as penance for his act.

Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one god setting up his temple on the grave of another.

Karl Kerenyi points out that the older tales mentioned two dragons, who were perhaps intentionally conflated; the other was a female dragon (drakaina) named Delphyne in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, with whom dwelt a male serpent named Typhon: “The narrators seem to have confused the dragon of Delphi, Python, with Typhon or Typhoeus, the adversary of Zeus”.

The enemy dragoness “… actually became an Apollonian serpent, and Pythia, the priestess who gave oracles at Delphi, was named after him. Many pictures show the serpent Python living in amity with Apollo and guarding the Omphalos, the sacred navel-stone and mid-point of the earth, which stood in Apollo’s temple”.

This myth has been described as an allegory for the dispersal of the fogs and clouds of vapor which arise from ponds and marshes (Python) by the rays of the sun (the arrows of Apollo).

Delphi

Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis. “Python” is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of Python which Apollo defeated. Hellenes considered the site to be the center of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

In myths dating to the classical period of Ancient Greece (510-323 BC), the site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the centre of his “Grandmother Earth” (Ge, Gaea, or Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities, and the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found.

Earlier myths include traditions that Pythia, or the Delphic oracle, already was the site of an important oracle in the pre-classical Greek world (as early as 1400 BC) and, rededicated from about 800 BCE, when it served as the major site during classical times for the worship of the god Apollo.

Apollo was said to have slain Python, “a dragon” who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth. Apollo’s sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic (or stephanitic) games, precursors of the Modern Olympics.

The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown (stephanos) which was ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. Delphi was set apart from the other games sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions.

These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically and based on importance. These games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia.

Delphi would have been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other attractions that led to it being labeled the “omphalos” (navel) of the earth, in other words, the center of the world.

In the inner hestia (“hearth”) of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.

Vritra

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (Vṛtra “the enveloper”), is an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

According to the Rig Veda, Vritra kept the waters of the world captive until he was killed by Indra, who destroyed all the 99 fortresses of Vritra (although the fortresses are sometimes attributed to Sambara) before liberating the imprisoned rivers.

The combat began soon after Indra was born, and he had drunk a large volume of Soma at Tvashtri’s house to empower him before facing Vritra. Tvashtri fashioned the thunderbolt (Vajrayudha) for Indra, and Vishnu, when asked to do so by Indra, made space for the battle by taking the three great strides for which Vishnu became famous. Vritra broke Indra’s two jaws during the battle, but was then thrown down by Indra and, in falling, crushed the fortresses that had already been shattered.

For this feat, Indra became known as Vritrahan “slayer of Vritra” and also as “slayer of the first-born of dragons”. Vritra’s mother, Danu (who was also the mother of the Danava race of Asuras), was then attacked and defeated by Indra with his thunderbolt.

In one of the versions of the story, three Devas – Varuna, Soma and Agni, the god of fire, were coaxed by Indra into aiding him in the fight against Vritra whereas before they had been on the side of Vritra (who they called “Father”).

In one verse of a Rig-Vedic hymn eulogising Sarasvati, she is portrayed as the one who slayed Vritra. Mention of this occurs nowhere else. Hymn 18 of Mandala IV provides the most elaborate account of the Vedic version. The verses describe the events and circumstances leading up to the battle between Indra and Vritra, the battle itself, and the outcome of the battle.

Illuyanka

In Hittite mythology, Illuyanka was a serpentine dragon slain by Tarhunt (IM), the Hittite incarnation of the Hurrian god of sky and storm. It is known from Hittite cuneiform tablets found at Çorum-Boğazköy, the former Hittite capital Hattusa. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli. The myth is found in Catalogue des Textes Hittites 321, which gives two consecutive versions.

In the first version, the two gods fight and Illuyanka wins. Teshub then goes to the Hattian goddess Inaras for advice. Having promised her love to a mortal named Hupasiyas in return for his help, she devises a trap for the dragon. She goes to him with large quantities of food and drink, and entices him to drink his fill. Once drunk, the dragon is bound by Hupasiyas with a rope. Then the Sky God Teshub appears with the other gods and kills the dragon.

In the second version, after the two gods fight and Teshub loses, Illuyanka takes Teshub’s eyes and heart. To avenge himself upon the dragon, the Sky God Teshub marries the goddess Hebat, daughter of a mortal, named Arm. They have a son, Sarruma, who grows up and marries the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

The Sky God Teshub tells his son to ask for the return of Teshub’s eyes and heart as a wedding gift, and he does so. His eyes and heart restored, Teshub goes to face the dragon Illuyanka once more.

At the point of vanquishing the dragon, Sarruma finds out about the battle and realizes that he had been used for this purpose. He demands that his father take his life along with Illuyanka’s, and so Teshub kills them both with thundery rain and lightning.

This version is illustrated on a relief which was discovered at Malatya (dating from 1050-850 BC) and is on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey.

The Hittite texts were introduced in 1930 by W. Porzig, who first made the comparison of Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas with the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, told in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (I.6.3); the Hittite-Greek parallels found few adherents at the time, the Hittite myth of the castration of the god of heaven by Kumarbi, with its clearer parallels to Greek myth, not having yet been deciphered and edited.

Etymology

The Latin word draco, as in the constellation, Draco, comes directly from Greek drákōn, gazer. The word for dragon in Germanic mythology and its descendants is worm (Old English: wyrm, Old High German: wurm, Old Norse: ormr), meaning snake or serpent. In Old English, wyrm means “serpent”, and draca means “dragon”.

Illuyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, the illuy- part is cognate to the word illa, and the -anka part is cognate to angu, a word for “snake”. Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi. Also this dragon is known as Illujanka and Illuyankas.

Since the words for “snake” (and similarly shaped animals) are often subject to taboo in many Indo-European (and non-Indo-European) languages, no unambiguous Proto-Indo-European form of the word for eel can be reconstructed. It may have been *ēl(l)-u-, *ēl(l)-o-, or something similar.

Finnish lohikäärme directly translated means “salmon-snake”, but the word lohi- was originally louhi- meaning crags or rocks, a “mountain snake”. The prefix lohi- in lohikäärme is also thought to derive from the ancient Norse word lógi, meaning “fire”, as in Finnish mythology there are also references to “tulikäärme” meaning fire-snake, or fire-serpent.

An eel is any fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and about 800 species. Most eels are predators. The term “eel” (originally referring to the European eel) is also used for some other similarly shaped fish, such as electric eels and spiny eels, but these are not members of the Anguilliformes order.

The Anguillidae are a family of fishes that contains the freshwater eels. The 19 species and six subspecies in this family are all in genus Anguilla. They are catadromous, meaning they spend their lives in freshwater rivers, lakes, or estuaries, and return to the ocean to spawn.

The English name “eel” descends from Old English ǽl, Common Germanic *ǣlaz. Also from the common Germanic are German Aal, Middle Dutch ael, Old High German âl, and Old Norse áll.

Katz (1998) identifies a number of Indo-European cognates, among them the second part of the Latin word for eels, anguilla, attested in its simplex form illa (in a glossary only), and the Greek word for “eel”, egkhelys (the second part of which is attested in Hesychius as elyes).

The first compound member, anguis (“snake”), is cognate to other Indo-European words for “snake” (compare Old Irish escung “eel”, Old High German unc “snake”, Lithuanian angìs, Greek ophis, okhis, Vedic Sanskrit áhi, Avestan aži, Armenian auj, iž, Old Church Slavonic *ǫžь, all from Proto-Indo-European *oguhis, ēguhis).

The word also appears in the Old English word for “hedgehog,” which is igil (meaning “snake eater”), and perhaps in the egi- of Old High German egidehsa “wall lizard”. According to this theory, the name Bellerophon, attested in a variant in Eustathius of Thessalonica, is also related, translating to “the slayer of the serpent” (ahihán).

On this theory, the word is an adjective form of an older word meaning “snake”, which is directly comparable to Hittite ellu-essar- “snake pit”. This myth likely came to Greece via Anatolia.

The daylight passage in the spring of elvers upstream along the Thames was at one time called “eel fare”. The word ‘elver’ is thought to be a corruption of “eel fare.”

Set

As noted by Herodotus, Typhon was traditionally identified with the Egyptian Set (also spelled Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty), a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion, who was also known to the Greeks as Typhon.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled Osiris’ corpse and resurrected him long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts. The death of Osiris and the battle between Horus and Set is a popular theme in Egyptian mythology.

As early as pre-dynastic Egypt, Set’s mascot or emblem was the Set animal; the Greeks and later classicists referred to this unidentified aardvark-like creature as the Typhonic beast. In the Orphic tradition, just as Set is responsible for the murder of Osiris, Typhon leads the Titans when they attack and kill Dionysus, who also became identified with the earlier Osiris.

Set is not, however, a god to be ignored or avoided; he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land.

Apep

Apep or Apophis was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”.

He appears in art as a giant serpent. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written pp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Aphōph. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty.

As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BC) C-ware bowl (now in Cairo) a snake was painted on the inside rim combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a deity, possibly a solar deity, who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel.

Also, comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. The etymology of his name (pp) is perhaps to be sought in some west-semitic language where a word root pp meaning ‘to slither’ existed. A verb root pp does at any rate not exist elsewhere in Ancient Egyptian. (It is not to be confused with the verb pı͗/pp: ‘to fly across the sky, to travel’).

Apep’s name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name.

Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint.

Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Since everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day, every day, storytellers said that Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night.

The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.

The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms. In some accounts, Ra himself defeats Apep in the form of a cat.

Ra was worshipped, and Apep worshipped against. Ra’s victory each night was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshippers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky.

In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s evil for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra.

The Egyptian priests had a detailed guide to fighting Apep, referred to as The Books of Overthrowing Apep (or the Book of Apophis, in Greek). The chapters described a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal.

In addition to stories about Ra’s winnings, this guide had instructions for making wax models, or small drawings, of the serpent, which would be spat on, mutilated and burnt, whilst reciting spells that would kill Apep. Fearing that even the image of Apep could give power to the demon any rendering would always include another deity to subdue the monster.

As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. The Book of the Dead does not frequently describe occasions when Ra defeated the chaos snake explicitly called Apep. Only BD Spells 7 and 39 can be explained as such.

Ninurta

Sea serpents feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East, attested as early as the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumerian iconography depicting the myth of the god Ninurta overcoming the seven-headed serpent. Its body was hung on the “shining cross-beam” of Ninurta’s chariot.

Anzu

Anzû, before misread as Zû (Sumerian: AN.ZUD, AN.IM.DUGUD.MUŠEN; cuneiform: An.Zud.Mušen, also known as Imdugud), is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris, the patron of beer who is conceived of as a demon, which is not necessarily evil. Anzû was seen as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately seen as a lion-headed eagle (like a reverse griffin).

Stephanie Dalley, in “Myths from Mesopotamia,” writes that “The Epic of Anzu’ is principally known in two versions: an Old Babylonian version of the early second millennium [BC], giving the hero as Ningursu; and “The Standard Babylonian” version, dating to the first millennium BC, which appears to be the most quoted version, with the hero as Ninurta. However, the Anzu character does appear more briefly in some other writings, as noted below.

Tiamat

It was relatively common for ancient near-eastern mythology to include a cosmic battle between a creator god and chaos god of the sea, usually in the form of a dragon or sea serpent. In this type of myth, the battle represented the creation of order out of chaos, as represented by the sea serpent. Often, the battle between deity and dragon pre-dated creation, as in the Babylonian myth of the god Marduk’s battle with the serpent goddess Tiamat. When she was defeated, Marduk used the body of Tiamat to create the heavens and the earth.

Mušḫuššu

The mušḫuššu (formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. As depicted, it is a mythological hybrid: a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS, lit. “reddish snake” sometimes also translated as “fierce snake”. One author, possibly following others, translates it as “splendor serpent” (MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The reading sir-ruššu is due to a mistransliteration in early Assyriology).

The mušḫuššu is the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, the local god of Eshnunna.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as MUL.dMUŠ, “the serpent (with divine and star determinatives)”. It was depicted as a snake drawn out long with the forepaws of a lion, no hind-legs, with wings, and with a head comparable to the mušḫuššu dragon. This monstrous serpent may have inspired the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology and ultimately the modern Hydra constellation.

Bel and the Dragon, a deuterocanonical Biblical text, relates a story that Koldewey thought involved a mušḫuššu/sirrush. In a temple dedicated to Bel (Nebuchadnezzar’s god), priests had a “great dragon or serpent, which they of Babylon worshipped.”

Daniel, the protagonist of the Book of Daniel, was confronted with this creature by the priests in the apocryphal text. (see Additions to Daniel) They challenged him to match his invisible God against their living god. Eventually, Daniel poisoned the creature.

Yam

File:Destruction of Leviathan.png

In the Baʿal cycle of the Canaanite religion, Ba’al conquers Yam (meaning “sea”) in order to be enthroned as the leader of the Canaanite pantheon. Of all the gods, despite being the champion of El, Yam holds special hostility against Baal Hadad, son of Dagon.

Yam is a deity of the sea and his palace is in the abyss associated with the depths, or Biblical tehwom (Tiamat), of the oceans. This is not to be confused with the abode of Mot, the ruler of the netherworlds.)

In Ugaritic texts, Yam’s special enemy Hadad is also known as the “king of heaven” and the “first born son” of El, whom ancient Greeks identified with their god Cronus, just as Baal was identified with Zeus, Yam with Poseidon and Mot with Hades.

Yam wished to become the Lord god in his place. In turns the two beings kill each other, yet Hadad is resurrected and Yam also returns. Some authors have suggested that these tales reflect the experience of seasonal cycles in the Levant.

Yam is the deity of the primordial chaos and represents the power of the sea, untamed and raging; he is seen as ruling storms and the disasters they wreak. The gods cast out Yam from the heavenly mountain Sappan (modern Jebel Aqra; Sappan is cognate to Tsephon).

The seven-headed dragon Lotan is associated closely with him and he is often described as the serpent. He is the Canaanite equivalent of the Sumerian Tiamat, the primordial mother goddess.

Leviathan

Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan (“twisted, coiled”), a sea monster referenced in the Tanakh, or the Old Testament, by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job. The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature.

Later Jewish sources describe Leviathan as a dragon who lives over the Sources of the Deep and who, along with the male land-monster Behemoth, will be served up to the righteous at the end of time.

When the Jewish midrash (explanations of the Tanakh) were being composed, it was held that God originally produced a male and a female leviathan, but lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, he slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah (B. B. 74b).

The Leviathan of the Middle Ages was used as an image of Satan, endangering both God’s creatures—by attempting to eat them—and God’s creation—by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos.

St. Thomas Aquinas described Leviathan as the demon of envy, first in punishing the corresponding sinners (Secunda Secundae Question 36). Peter Binsfeld likewise classified Leviathan as the demon of envy, as one of the seven Princes of Hell corresponding to the seven deadly sins.

Leviathan became associated with, and may originally have referred to, the visual motif of the Hellmouth, a monstrous animal into whose mouth the damned disappear at the Last Judgement, found in Anglo-Saxon art from about 800, and later all over Europe.

As early as 1894, scholars began to note the similarity of these earlier stories and the references to the sea serpent Leviathan’s battle with Yahweh found in the Tanakh. Isaiah 27:1 uses similar phrases to describe Leviathan (although in this case the name “Leviathan” may refer to an unnamed historical/political enemy of Israel rather than the original serpent-monster).

However, in Psalm 104, Leviathan is not described as harmful in any way, but simply as a creature of the ocean, part of God’s creation. It is possible that the authors of the Job 41:2–26, on the other hand, based the Leviathan on descriptions of Egyptian animal mythology where the crocodile is the enemy of the solar deity Horus (and is subdued either by Horus or by the Pharaoh).

This is in contrast to typical descriptions of the sea monster trope in terms of mythological combat. It is likely that authors of these later books had attempted to naturalize Leviathan as part of a process transforming understanding of it from a serpent god of chaos, to a demon, and finally to a non-supernatural animal.

In literature (e.g., Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it simply means “whale”. It is described extensively in Job 41 and mentioned in Job 3:8, Amos 9:2, Psalm 74:13-24, Psalm 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1.

Lotan

In the Ugaritic texts, the dragon Lotan or Lawtan, or possibly another of Yam’s helpers, is given the epithets “wriggling serpent” and “mighty one with the seven heads”. He is the seven-headed sea serpent or dragon of Ugaritic myths. He is either a pet of the god Yamm or an aspect of Yamm himself; the cosmic ocean of myth is often known as a great stream.

In the Hebrew/Caananite analogue Lotan is also known as Yam (Sea) and the Leviathan. He represents the mass destruction of floods, oceans, and winter. He lives in a palace in the sea. He fights with Baal Hadad, who scatters him.

The beast

The beast (Greek: Thērion) refers to two beasts described in the Book of Revelation. The first beast comes from “out of the sea” and is given authority and power by the dragon. This first beast is initially mentioned in Revelation 11:7 as coming out of the abyss. His appearance is described in detail in Revelation 13:1-10, and some of the mystery behind his appearance is revealed in Revelation 17:7-18.

The second beast comes from “out of the earth” and directs all peoples of the earth to worship the first beast. The second beast is described in Revelation 13:11-18 and is also referred to as the false prophet.

The two beasts are aligned with the dragon in opposition to God. They persecute the “saints” and those who do “not worship the image of the beast [of the sea]” and influence the kings of the earth to gather for the battle of Armageddon. The two beasts are defeated by Christ and are thrown into the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 19:18-20.

Saint George and the Dragon

The episode Saint George and the Dragon appended to the hagiography of Saint George was Eastern in origin, brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance.

The earliest known depictions of the motif are from tenth- or eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia; previously, in the iconography of Eastern Orthodoxy, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century. The earliest known surviving narrative of the dragon episode is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

The dragon motif was first combined with the already standardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais’ encyclopedic Speculum Historiale, and then Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (ca 1260) guaranteed its popularity in the later Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject. The legend gradually became part of the Christian traditions relating to Saint George and was used in many festivals thereafter.

 

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The three zones of the ecliptic

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Latitude in Astrology

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk), and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil, and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.

Each of the three must have been regarded in his centre as the most important member in a larger or smaller group, so that their union in a triad marks also the combination of the three distinctive pantheons into a harmonious whole.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven.

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The Sumerian pantheon: An, Dingir, Nin/Eresh

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

An

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted. The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The Hurrians found the small state (or states) of Urkesh & Nawar, based on the two cities of the same name in northern Mesopotamia. Nawar seems to fall under the control of the Akkadian empire for a period, with the city serving as an administrative centre. The names of five of the kings of Urkesh and Nawar are known for this period, but there are certainly others whose names have been lost. Uniquely, the people of Urkesh use the term ‘endan’ to refer to the early kings.

Dingir

Dingir (usually transliterated diĝir) is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

The Sumerian sign DIĜIRoriginated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

NIN

The Sumerian word NIN (from the Akkadian pronunciation of the sign EREŠ) was used to denote a queen or a priestess, and is often translated as “lady”. Other translations include “queen”, “mistress”, “proprietress”, and “lord”.

Many goddesses are called NIN, such as NIN.GAL (“great lady”), É.NIN.GAL (“lady of the great temple”), EREŠ.KI.GAL, and NIN.TI. The compound form NIN.DINGIR (“divine lady” or “lady of [a] god”), from the Akkadian entu, denotes a priestess.

NIN originated as a ligature of the cuneiform glyphs of MUNUS and TÚG; the NIN sign was written as MUNUS.TÚG in archaic cuneiform, notably in the Codex Hammurabi. The syllable nin, on the other hand, was written as MUNUS.KA in Assyrian cuneiform. MUNUS.KU = NIN means “sister”.

Ninsun (NIN.SÚN) is the mother of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The other personage using NIN is the god Ninurta (NIN.URTA). The other major usage is for the Akkadian word eninna (nin as in e-nin-na, but also other variants). Eninna is the adverb “now”, but it can also be used as a conjunction, or as a segue-form (a transition form).

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The Germanic gods: Æs, Van and God

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Oppositions: Masculine/Feminine – Sky/Earth

Odin/Frigg (sky) – óðr/Freyja (earth) (Sumerian: An/Antu-Inanna)

Balder/Nanna (Sumerian: Tammuz/Inanna)

Šamaš (Sumerian Utu) is the god of the sun, who was associated with life, justice, divination and the netherworld).

Odin – Sumerian UD (“sun”)

Arinna was the major cult center of the Hittite sun goddess, (thought to be Arinniti) known as UTU Arinna “sun goddess of Arinna”. Arinna was located near Hattusa, the Hittite capital. The name was also used as a substitute name for Arinniti.

The sun goddess of Arinna is the most important one of three important solar deities of the Hittite pantheon, besides UTU nepisas – “the sun of the sky” and UTU taknas – “the sun of the earth”. She was considered to be the chief deity in some source, in place of her husband. Her consort was the weather god, Teshub. The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess. She becomes largely syncretised with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal. His center cult was located in the city of Larsa.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself.

He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”. Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

The corresponding location in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. Jeffrey H. Tigay suggests that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitely located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s destination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

One theory is that the only location suitable for being called a “cedar land” was the great forest covering Lebanon and western parts of Syria and, in consequence, “Mashu” is the whole of the parallel Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, with the narrow gap between these mountains constituting the tunnel.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

Mashu, today, is a village in the Elburz mountains of Iran. Siduri, the Alewife, lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away. Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’ may refer to both peaks. The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

Edin/Aten-Aton

Edin (É.DIN, E2.DIN, E-din) is a Sumerian term meaning “steppe” or “plain”. It is featured on the Gudea cylinders as the name of a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu.

Friedrich Delitzsch was the first amongst numerous scholars to suggest the Jewish and Christian term Eden, “garden of God”, traced back to this term. It has also been connected with the later Babylonian term “Edinu”.

Traditionally, the favoured derivation of the name “Eden” was from the Akkadian edinnu, derived from a Sumerian word meaning “plain” or “steppe”. Eden is now believed to be more closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning “fruitful, well-watered.” The Hebrew term is translated “pleasure” in Sarah’s secret saying in Genesis 18:12.

Principles of Aten’s religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten (Atenism), night is a time to fear. Work is done best when the sun, Aten, is present. The explanation to why Aten could not be fully represented was that the god has gone beyond creation.

Aten cares for every creature, and created a Nile river in the sky (rain) for the Syrians. Aten created all countries and people. The rays of the sun disk only hold out life to the royal family; everyone else receives life from Akhenaten and Nefertiti in exchange of loyalty for Aten.

When a good person dies, he/she continues to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death. Akhenaten judged whether someone should be granted an afterlife, and operated the scale of justice.

An/Antu-Inanna

The purely theoretical character of An is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antu is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin (Inanna), whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. An resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven.

Inanna (Nanna), Tammuz (Balder), Ereshkigal (Hel)

Inanna (Akkadian: Ištar; Neo-Assyrian MUŠ) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. She was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia.

As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice. In addition persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses.

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. A king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Hebat”.The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

In Inanna and Shukaletuda, in search of her attacker, Inanna makes several movements throughout the myth that correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky. An introductory hymn explains Inanna leaving the heavens and heading for Kur, what could be presumed to be, the mountains, replicating the rising and setting of Inanna to the West. Shukaletuda also is described as scanning the heavens in search of Inanna, possibly to the eastern and western horizons.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

One of these myths is Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Tammuz, the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, in exchange for herself. The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god, who becomes her husband.

According to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, represented in parallel Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, Ereshkigal is in mourning at the death of her consort, Gugalanna (The Wild Bull of Heaven Sumerian Gu = Bull, Gal = Great, An = Heaven). Inanna (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) then set off for the netherworld, or Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal.

She passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when she had passed through the seventh gate she was a simple woman, entirely naked. Despite warnings about her presumption, she did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal’s throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and she became a corpse, hung up on a meathook.

Based on the incomplete texts as first found, it was assumed that Ishtar/Inanna’s descent into Kur occurred after the death of (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid, but new texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion, showing that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release.

Inanna’s faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea’s plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts, but in the end, Inanna/Ishtar was resurrected.

However, a “conservation of souls” law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz richly dressed and on her throne.

Inanna/Ishtar immediately set her accompanying demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz’ sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.

There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid’s sister who is there named Geshtinana, a minor goddess, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.

In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has two close calls until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inanna repents.

Inanna seeks vengeance on Bilulu, on Bilulu’s murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire’s consort Shirru “of the haunted desert, no-one’s child and no-one’s friend”. Inanna changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.

Finally, Inanna relents and changes her decree thereby restoring her husband Dumuzi to life; an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid’s place in Kur for six months of the year: “You (Dumuzi), half the year. Your sister (Geštinanna), half the year!”

It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god.

The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana . It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), a Greek demi-god of beauty and desire who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Adonis has had multiple roles, and there has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. He is an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

His religion belonged to women: the dying of Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, about 600 BC, as revealed in a fragment of Sappho’s surviving poetry.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

Tammuz is the month of July in Iraqi Arabic and Levantine Arabic, and references to Tammuz appear in Arabic literature from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. In a translation of an ancient Nabataean text by Kuthami the Babylonian, Ibn Wahshiyya (c. 9th-10th century AD), adds information on his own efforts to ascertain the identity of Tammuz, and his discovery of the full details of the legend of Tammuz in another Nabataean book:

“How he summoned the king to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve (signs) and how the king put him to death several times in a cruel manner Tammuz coming to life again after each time, until at last he died; and behold! it was identical to the legend of St. George. ”

Ibn Wahshiyya also adds that Tammuz lived in Babylonia before the coming of the Chaldeans and belonged to an ancient Mesopotamian tribe called Ganbân. On rituals related to Tammuz in his time, he adds that the Sabaeans in Harran and Babylonia still lamented the loss of Tammuz every July, but that the origin of the worship had been lost.

Al-Nadim in his 10th century work Kitab al-Fehrest drawing from a work on Syriac calendar feast days, describes a Tâ’ûz festival that took place in the middle of the month of Tammuz. The same festival is mentioned in the 11th century by Ibn Athir as still taking place at the appointed time on the banks of the Tigris river.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

Other Sumerian texts showed that kings were to be married to Inanna in a sacred marriage, for example a hymn that describes the sacred marriage of King Iddid-Dagan (ca 1900 BCE). A number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inanna and Dumuzid the shepherd. A text recovered in 1963 recounts “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” in terms that are tender and frankly erotic.

Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla”, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.

Demeter (Inanna, Ceres, Nanna),

Persephone (Ereshkigal, Proserpina, Hel)

Poseidon (Enki, Neptune, Njord)

Cronus (Enlil, Saturn, Odin) – The second sun

In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. . Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Demeter, is called Ceres.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades.

The cult titles of Demeter include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; “phoros”: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death.

Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.

Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon.

Poseidon is called the “God of the Sea”. His main domain is the ocean. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. According to some folklore, he was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which was devoured by Cronos. The island of Atlantis was the chosen domain of Poseidon.

The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Neptune was the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers presided over the realms of Heaven, the earthly world, and the Underworld. Salacia was his consort.

Depictions of Neptune in Roman mosaics, especially those of North Africa, are influenced by Hellenistic conventions. Neptune was likely associated with fresh water springs before the sea. Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshipped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing.

The earliest attested occurrence of the name, written in Linear B, is Po-se-da-o or Po-se-da-wo-ne, which correspond to Poseidaōn and Poseidawonos in Mycenean Greek. Another attested word E-ne-si-da-o-ne recalls his later epithets Ennosidas and Ennosigaios indicating the chthonic nature of Poseidon.

The origins of the name “Poseidon” are unclear. One theory breaks it down into an element meaning “husband” or “lord” (Greek: posis, from PIE *pótis) and another element meaning “earth” (da), Doric for (gē), producing something like lord or spouse of Da, i.e. of the earth; this would link him with Demeter, “Earth-mother.” Walter Burkert finds that “the second element da- remains hopelessly ambiguous” and finds a “husband of Earth” reading “quite impossible to prove.”

Another theory interprets the second element as related to the word dâwon “water”; this would make *Posei-dawōn into the master of waters. There is also the possibility that the word has Pre-Greek origin. Plato in his dialogue Cratylus gives two alternative etymologies: either the sea restrained Poseidon when walking as a “foot-bond”, or he “knew many things”.

If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the name po-se-da-wo-ne (“Poseidon”) occurs with greater frequency than does di-u-ja (“Zeus”). A feminine variant, po-se-de-ia, is also found, indicating a lost consort goddess, in effect a precursor of Amphitrite.

Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-na-ka ( wanax) in Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld. The chthonic nature of Poseidon-Wanax is also indicated by his title E-ne-si-da-o-ne in Mycenean Knossos and Pylos, a powerful attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture).

In the cave of Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related with the cult of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for “the Two Queens and Poseidon” (“to the Two Queens and the King”: wa-na-soi, wa-na-ka-te). The “Two Queens” may be related with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods.

The illuminating exception is the archaic and localised myth of the stallion Poseidon and mare Demeter at Phigalia in isolated and conservative Arcadia, noted by Pausanias (2nd century AD) as having fallen into desuetude; the violated Demeter was Demeter Erinys.

It is possible that Demeter appears as Da-ma-te in a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription (PN EN 609), however the interpretetion is still under dispute. In Linear B inscriptions found at Pylos, E-ne-si-da-o-ne is related with Poseidon, and Si-to Po-tini-ja is probably related with Demeter.

In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, no connection between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced. Homer and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of his father Kronos, when the world was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three.

Given Poseidon’s connection with horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation of the likely Indo-European homeland, Nobuo Komita has proposed that Poseidon was originally an aristocratic Indo-European horse-god who was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to the sea, or a god of fresh waters who was assigned a secondary role as god of the sea, where he overwhelmed the original Aegean sea deities such as Proteus and Nereus.

Conversely, Walter Burkert suggests that the Hellene cult worship of Poseidon as a horse god may be connected to the introduction of the horse and war-chariot from Anatolia to Greece around 1600 BC. In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer’s Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events.

Kumarbi Cycle

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible. The song relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods.

In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Frigg/Freyja – Odin/Oðr

In Norse mythology, the northernmost branch of Germanic mythology and most extensively attested, Frigg is described as a goddess associated with foreknowledge and wisdom. Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity, Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German and vrijdag in Dutch.

The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus” (a translation of Greek Aphrodites hemera) such as vendredi in French, venerdì in Italian, viernes in Spanish, divendres in Catalan, vennari in Corsican, and vineri in Romanian. This is also reflected in the p-Celtic Welsh language as dydd Gwener.

An exception is Portuguese, also a Romance language, which uses the word sexta-feira, meaning “sixth day of liturgical celebration”, derived from the Latin “feria sexta” used in religious texts where it was not allowed to consecrate days to pagan gods.

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day. The distinction between Freyja and Frigg in some Germanic mythologies is problematic.

Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”). The name Freyja is transparently “lady” and ultimately derives from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn. Freyja is cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa “lady, mistress” and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau “lady”).

The theonym Freyja is thus considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. As a result, either the original name became entirely taboo or another process occurred in which the goddess is a duplicate or hypostasis of another known goddess

Freyja is believed to, along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), originally have been a member of the Vanir, one of the two clans of deity. Following the Æsir–Vanir War, in which Freyja and her kin clashed with the other deity group, the Æsir, a truce was called, with Freyja actually joining her former enemies.

Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr ( from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”), associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”, and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Freyja is associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and violent death. She is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife.

Freyja’s name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr (Old Norse for the “Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager”, as a noun “mind, feeling” and also “song, poetry”; Orchard (1997) gives “the frenzied one”) or Óð, sometimes angliziced as Odr or Od, a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names.

The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja’s husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi. A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities.

The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá). In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”.

It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession”.

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”.

The children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr, a god of light and purity. His home is Glitnir, its name, meaning “shining,” referring to its silver ceiling and golden pillars, which radiated light that could be seen from a great distance. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti, (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea. In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again. In an attempt to bring back Baldr from the dead, the god Hermóðr rides to Hel and, upon receiving the hope of resurrection from the being Hel, Nanna gives Hermóðr gifts to give to the goddess Frigg (a robe of linen), the goddess Fulla (a finger-ring), and others (unspecified).

An

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted. The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

Endan

The Hurrians found the small state (or states) of Urkesh & Nawar, based on the two cities of the same name in northern Mesopotamia. Nawar seems to fall under the control of the Akkadian empire for a period, with the city serving as an administrative centre. The names of five of the kings of Urkesh and Nawar are known for this period, but there are certainly others whose names have been lost. Uniquely, the people of Urkesh use the term ‘endan’ to refer to the early kings.

Æs, Van and God

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the New Year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon. After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), which is thought to derive from Proto-Germanic *ǥuđán, the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

The Proto-Germanic meaning of *ǥuđán and its etymology is uncertain. It is generally agreed that it derives from a Proto-Indo-European neuter passive perfect participle *ǵʰu-tó-m. This form within (late) Proto-Indo-European itself was possibly ambiguous, and thought to derive from a root *ǵʰeu̯- “to pour, libate” (Sanskrit huta, see hotṛ), or from a root *ǵʰau̯- (*ǵʰeu̯h2-) “to call, to invoke” (Sanskrit hūta). Sanskrit hutá = “having been sacrificed”, from the verb root hu = “sacrifice”, but a slight shift in translation gives the meaning “one to whom sacrifices are made.”

Depending on which possibility is preferred, the pre-Christian meaning of the Germanic term may either have been (in the “pouring” case) “libation” or “that which is libated upon, idol” — or, as Watkins opines in the light of Greek “poured earth” meaning “tumulus”, “the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound” — or (in the “invoke” case) “invocation, prayer” (compare the meanings of Sanskrit brahman) or “that which is invoked”.

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *h₂n̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr “Thor of the Aesir”, besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine’s -ynja suffix is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse.

The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, jaculum divorum et geniorum).

In Old High German and Old Saxon the word is only attested in personal and place names, e.g. Ansebert, Anselm, Ansfrid, Vihans. Jordanes has anses for the gods of the Goths.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”.

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ) and ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a).

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark Ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ᛅ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ becomes independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph, the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ‘Ālep , Hebrew ‘Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap , Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic Alif ا.

The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

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“Sacred marriage” or “Chaoskampf”

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

The beginning

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation depicted as a woman. She represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”. It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. She was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki, according to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah the son of An and Nammu, took over most of her functions. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype. It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

Hieros gamos

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. The notion of hieros gamos does not presuppose actual performance in ritual, but is also used in purely symbolic or mythological context, notably in alchemy and hence in Jungian psychology.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud.

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu.

The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”), a mother goddess of the mountains, principally a fertility goddess, who represented the Earth.

Temple hymn sources identify Ninhursag as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by her milk. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up.

Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

Ninti is the Sumerian goddess of life. Her specific healing area was the rib. Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

Uttu in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is a goddess in the pantheon.

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna.

Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant.

The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists. Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach, and home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

The temple of Eanna (“house of heaven”) in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

In addition, according to Leick 1994 persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples. The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival.

Inanna is the goddess of love. In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh points out Inanna’s infamous ill-treatment of her lovers. Inanna also has a very complicated relationship with her lover, Dumuzi, in “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”.

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Consider her description in one hymn: “When the servants let the flocks loose, and when cattle and sheep are returned to cow-pen and sheepfold, then, my lady, like the nameless poor, you wear only a single garment. The pearls of a prostitute are placed around your neck, and you are likely to snatch a man from the tavern.” Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus.

A Sacred Marriage to Inanna may have conferred legitimacy on a number of rulers of Uruk. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Damuzi.

In Greek mythology the classic instance is the wedding of Zeus and Hera celebrated at the Heraion of Samos, and doubtless its architectural and cultural predecessors. Some scholars would restrict the term to reenactments, but most accept its extension to real or simulated union in the promotion of fertility: such an ancient union of Demeter with Iasion, enacted in a thrice-plowed furrow, a primitive aspect of a sexually-active Demeter reported by Hesiod, is sited in Crete, origin of much early Greek myth.

In actual cultus, Walter Burkert found the Greek evidence “scanty and unclear”: “To what extent such a sacred marriage was not just a way of viewing nature, but an act expressed or hinted at in ritual is difficult to say” the best-known ritual example surviving in classical Greece is the hieros gamos enacted at the Anthesteria by the wife of the Archon basileus, the “Archon King” in Athens, originally therefore the queen of Athens, with Dionysus, presumably represented by his priest or the basileus himself, in the Boukoleion in the Agora.

The brief fertilizing mystical union engenders Dionysus, and doubled unions, of a god and of a mortal man on one night, result, through telegony, in the semi-divine nature of Greek heroes such as Theseus and Heracles among others.

In Tantric Buddhism of Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet, yab-yum is a ritual of the male deity in union with his female consort. The symbolism is associated with Anuttarayoga tantra where the male figure is usually linked to compassion (karuṇā) and skillful means (upāya-kauśalya), and the female partner to ‘insight’ (prajñā). Yab-yum is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion.

Maithuna is a Sanskrit term used in Tantra most often translated as sexual union in a ritual context. It is the most important of the five makara and constitutes the main part of the Grand Ritual of Tantra variously known as Panchamakara, Panchatattva, and Tattva Chakra.

The symbolism of union and polarity is a central teaching in Tantric Buddhism, especially in Tibet. The union is realized by the practitioner as a mystical experience within one’s own body.

The hieros gamos is one of the themes that Carl Jung dealt with, in his book Symbols of Transformation. In the novel Hieros Gamos (Sacred Union) – A Confession (2013), author Lia Cacciari, inspired by Jung’s thematic exploration of the hieros gamos as an alchemical union of opposites, tells a story of feuding medieval siblings that culminates in an incestuous union.

Chaoskampf

Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth. Hesiod and the Pre-Socratics use the Greek term in the context of cosmogony. Hesiod’s “chaos” has been interpreted as a moving, formless mass from which the cosmos and the gods originated.

Greek khaos means “emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb meaning “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵheh2n, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn. It may also mean space, the expanse of air, and the nether abyss, infinite darkness. Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 6th century BC) interpretes chaos as water, like something formless which can be differentiated.

In Hesiod’s opinion the origin should be indefinite and indeterminate, and it represents disorder and darkness. Chaos has been linked with the term tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2 . The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, and the earliest state of the universe is like a “watery chaos”. The Septuagint makes no use of χάος in the context of creation, instead using the term for גיא, “chasm, cleft”, in Micha 1:6 and Zacharia 14:4.

Of the certain uses of the word chaos in Theogony, in the creation the word is referring to a “gaping void” which gives birth to the sky, but later the word is referring to the gap between the earth and the sky, after their separation.

A parallel can be found in the Genesis. In the beginning God creates the earth and the sky. The earth is “formless and void” (tohu wa-bohu), and later God divides the waters under the firmament from the waters over the firmament, and calls the firmament “heaven”.

Nevertheless, the term chaos has been adopted in religious studies as referring to the primordial state before creation, strictly combining two separate notions of primordial waters or a primordial darkness from which a new order emerges and a primordial state as a merging of opposites, such as heaven and earth, which must be separated by a creator deity in an act of cosmogony.

In both cases, chaos referring to a notion of a primordial state contains the cosmos in potentia but needs to be formed by a demiurge before the world can begin its existence.

This model of a primordial state of matter has been opposed by the Church Fathers from the 2nd century, who posited a creation ex nihilo by an omnipotent God. In modern biblical studies, the term chaos is commonly used in the context of the Torah and their cognate narratives in Ancient Near Eastern mythology more generally.

Parallels between the Hebrew Genesis and the Babylonian Enuma Elish were established by H. Gunkel in 1910. Besides Genesis, other books of the Old Testament, especially a number of Psalms, some passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah and the Book of Job are relevant. Use of chaos in the derived sense of “complete disorder or confusion” first appears in Elizabethan Early Modern English, originally implying satirical exaggeration.

The motif of Chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos. Early work by German academics in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.”

Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others. This myth was ultimately transmitted into the religions of the Ancient Near East (most of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family) most likely initially through interaction with Hittite speaking peoples into Syria and the Fertile Crescent.

The myth was most likely then integrated into early Sumerian and Akkadian myths, such as the trials of Ninurta, before being disseminated into the rest of the Ancient Near East. Examples of the storm god vs. sea serpent trope in the Ancient Near East can be seen with Baʿal vs. Yam (Canaanite), Marduk vs. Tiamat (Babylonian), Ra vs. Apep (Egyptian Mythology), and Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Jewish) among others.

There is also evidence to suggest the possible transmission of this myth as Far East as Japan and Shintoism as depicted in the story of Susanoo vs. Yamata no Orochi, most likely by way of Buddhist influence. The Chaoskampf would eventually be inherited by descendants of these ancient religions, perhaps most notably by Christianity. Examples include the story of Saint George and the Dragon (most probably descended from the Slavic branch of Indo-European and stories such as Dobrynya Nikitich vs. Zmey Gorynych).

Some scholars argue that this extends to Christ and/or Saint Michael vs. the Devil (as seen in the Book of Revelation among other places and probably related to the Yahweh vs. Leviathan and later Gabriel vs. Rahab stories of Jewish mythology), but this is hotly contested, as is the even more controversial view that the narrative appears in the crucifixion story of Jesus found in the gospels, a view debated by scholars such as Walter Wink, who indicates that the gospel accounts of Christ’s death present the diametric opposite thematic viewpoint presented in the Chaoskampf myths.

In the Theogony of Hesiod, Chaos is a divine primordial condition, which is the origin of the gods, and all things. It seems that in Hesiod’s opinion, the origin should be indefinite and indeterminate, and it may represent infinite space, or formless matter.

According to Hesiod, “at first Chaos came to be” (or was) “but next” (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros. Unambiguously born “from Chaos” were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

For Hesiod and the early Greek Olympian myth (8th century BC), Chaos was the first of the primordial deities, followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartarus and Eros (Love). From Chaos came Erebus and Nyx.

Passages in Hesiod’s Theogony suggest that Chaos was located below Earth but above Tartarus. Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.

For Hesiod, Chaos, like Tartarus, though personified enough to have born children, was also a place, far away, underground and “gloomy”, beyond which lived the Titans. And, like the earth, the ocean, and the upper air. It was also capable of being affected by Zeus’ thunderbolts.

The notion of the temporal infinity was familiar to the Greek mind from remote antiquity in the religious conception of immortality. This idea of “the divine” as an origin influenced the first Greek philosophers.

The main object of the first efforts to explain the world remained the description of its growth, from a beginning. They believed that the world arose out from a primal unity, and that this substance was the permanent base of all its being.

It seems that Anaximander was influenced by the traditional popular conceptions and Hesiod’s thought, when he claims that the origin is apeiron (the unlimited), a divine and perpetual substance less definite than the common elements. Everything is generated from apeiron, and must return there according to necessity.

A popular conception of the nature of the world was that the earth below its surface stretches down indefinitely and has its roots on or above Tartarus, the lower part of the underworld. In a phrase of Xenophanes, “The upper limit of the earth borders on air, near our feet. The lower limit reaches down to the “apeiron” (i.e. the unlimited).

The sources and limits of the earth, the sea, the sky, Tartarus, and all things are located in a great windy-gap, which seems to be infinite, and is a later specification of “chaos”. Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.

For the Roman poet Ovid Chaos was an unformed mass, where all the elements were jumbled up together in a “shapeless heap”. Ovid (1st century BC), in his Metamorphoses, described Chaos as “a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap.”

Fifth-century Orphic cosmogony had a “Womb of Darkness” in which the Wind lay a Cosmic Egg whence Eros was hatched, who set the universe in motion.

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More than a quincidence?

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Hijri/Hijra

The Hijri year (AH anno hegirae) is the year-numbering system (or Calendar era) used in the Islamic calendar. It commences from the first day of the year of the Hijra, or emigration of Muhammad and his followers to the city of Medina in 622 CE. In Arabic, AH is symbolized by the letter. The year CE 2015 corresponds to the Islamic years 1436 – 1437 AH.

The Hajj (Arabic: Ḥaǧǧ “pilgrimage”) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm.

The date of Hajj is determined by Islamic calendar, which is a lunar year. Every year, the events of Hajj take place in a five-day period, starting on 8 and ending on 12 Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the Islamic calendar.

Hijra is a term used in South Asia – in particular, in India – to refer to an individual who is transsexual or transgender. In other areas of India, transgender people are also known as Aravani, Aruvani or Jagappa.

In Pakistan, the hijras identify themselves as either female, male or third gender. The term more commonly advocated by social workers and transgender community members themselves is khwaaja sira and can identify the individual as a transsexual person, transgender person (khusras), cross-dresser (zenanas) or eunuch (narnbans).

Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian subcontinent from antiquity onwards as suggested by the Kama Sutra. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival.

Historians attribute Kamasutra to be composed between 400 BCE and 200 CE. John Keay says that the Kama Sutra is a compendium that was collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE.

“Kāma” which is one of the four goals of Hindu life, means desire including sexual desire the latter being the subject of the textbook, and “sūtra” literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual.

Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama sutra is not exclusively a sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life.

Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by Vātsyāyana, the name of a Hindu philosopher in the Vedic tradition who is believed to have lived around 2nd century CE in India.

In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined and organised all-hijra communities, led by a guru. These communities have sustained themselves over generations by “adopting” young boys who are rejected by, or flee, their family of origin. Many work as sex workers for survival.

The word “hijra” is an Urdu-Hindustani word derived from the Semitic Arabic root hjr in its sense of “leaving one’s tribe,” and has been borrowed into Hindi. The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as “eunuch” or “hermaphrodite,” where “the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition.”

However, in general hijras are born with typically male physiology, only a few having been born with male intersex variations. Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of the penis, scrotum and testicles.

Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have lobbied for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of “third sex” or “third gender,” as neither man nor woman.

Hijras have successfully gained this recognition in Bangladesh and are eligible for priority in education. In India, the Supreme Court in April 2014 recognised hijra and transgender people as a ‘third gender’ in law.

Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have all legally recognized the existence of a third gender, including on passports and other official documents.

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The priests and priestesses – the Galli and the Archigallus

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Ludi (Latin plural) were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people (populus Romanus). Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals, and were also presented as part of the cult of state.

Originally, all ludi seem to have been votive offerings (ludi votivi), staged as the fulfillment of a vow to a deity whose favor had been sought and evidenced. In 366 BC, the Ludi Romani became the first games to be placed on the religious calendar as an annual event sponsored by the state as a whole.

The earliest ludi were horse races in the circus (ludi circenses). Animal exhibitions with mock hunts (venationes) and theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) also became part of the festivals.

The Megalesia, Megalensia, or Megalenses Ludi, was a festival (with games, ludi) celebrated in Ancient Rome in the month of April in honor of the great mother of the gods (Cybele, from which the festival derived its name).

The statue of Cybele was brought to Rome from Pessinus (204 BC), and the day of its arrival was solemnized with a magnificent procession, lectisternia, and games and lots of people carried presents to the goddess on the Capitol.

The habitual celebration of the Megalesia, however, did not begin until twelve years later (191 BC), when the temple which had been vowed and ordered to be built in 203 BC, was completed and dedicated by Marcus Junius Brutus. Although from another passage it seems that the Megalesia had already been celebrated in 193 BC.

The Megalesia festival to Magna Mater commenced on April 4, the anniversary of her arrival in Rome. The festival structure is unclear, but it included ludi scaenici (plays and other entertainments based on religious themes), probably performed on the deeply stepped approach to her temple; some of the plays were commissioned from well-known playwrights.

On April 10, her image was taken in public procession to the Circus Maximus, and chariot races were held there in her honour; a statue of Magna Mater was permanently sited on the racetrack’s dividing barrier, showing the goddess seated on a lion’s back.

Roman bystanders seem to have perceived Megalesia as either characteristically “Greek”; or Phrygian. At the cusp of Rome’s transition to Empire, the Greek Dionysius of Halicarnassus describes this procession as wild Phrygian “mummery” and “fabulous clap-trap”, in contrast to the Megalesian sacrifices and games, carried out in what he admires as a dignified “traditional Roman” manner; Dionysius also applauds the wisdom of Roman religious law, which wisely forbids the participation of any Roman citizen in the procession, and in the goddess’s mysteries; Slaves are forbidden to witness any of this.

In the late republican era, Lucretius vividly describes the procession’s armed “war dancers” in their three-plumed helmets, clashing their shields together, bronze on bronze, “delighted by blood”; yellow-robed, long-haired, perfumed Galli waving their knives, wild music of thrumming tympanons and shrill flutes. Along the route, rose petals are scattered, and clouds of incense arise. The goddess’s image, wearing the Mural Crown and seated within a sculpted, lion-drawn chariot, is carried high on a bier.

The Roman display of Cybele’s Megalesia procession as an exotic, privileged public pageant offers signal contrast to what is known of the private, socially inclusive Phrygian-Greek mysteries on which it was based.

A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome. The first Galli arrived in Rome when the Senate officially adopted Cybele as a state goddess in 204 BC.

Roman citizens were prohibited from becoming Galli, which meant that they were all orientals or slaves. Under Claudius, this ban was lifted. Eventually Domitian reaffirmed that Roman citizens were forbidden to practice eviratio (castration).

The Galli castrated themselves during an ecstatic celebration called the Dies sanguinis, or “Day of Blood”, which took place on March 24. At the same time they put on women’s costume, mostly yellow in colour, and a sort of turban, together with pendants and ear-rings. They also wore their hair long, and bleached, and wore heavy make-up.

They wandered around with followers, begging for charity, in return for which they were prepared to tell fortunes. On the day of mourning for Attis they ran around wildly and disheveled. They performed dances to the music of pipes and tambourines, and, in an ecstasy, flogged themselves until they bled.

Scholars have attempted to draw a connection between the episode of the castration of Attis and the ritual mutilation of the Galli as a reflection in myth of a secondary ritual action or conversely, as the mythical foundation of a ritual action. This kind of interpretation appears to be too simplistic as, to some extent, it fails to consider that this connection has served different purposes in different periods.

The emasculation of Attis in the “Phrygian” version of the myth is the basis for an institution that is both political and religious, the institution of his priests in Pessinous, the “non-kings”, who don’t simply coincide with the Galli.

The earliest references to the Galli come from the Anthologia Palatina although they don’t explicitly mention emasculation. More interesting is the fragment attributed to Callimachus, in which the term Gallai denotes castration that has taken place.

The high priests are well-documented from archaeology. At Pessinus, the centre of the Cybele cult, there were two high priests during the Hellenistic period, one with the title of “Attis” and the other with the name of “Battakes”. Both were eunuchs.

The high priests had considerable political influence during this period, and letters exist from a high priest Attis to the kings of Pergamon, Eumenes II and Attalus II, inscribed on stone. Later, during the Flavian period, there was a college of ten priests, not castrated, and now Roman citizens, but still using the title “Attis”.

In Rome, the head of the galli was known as the archigallus, at least from the period of Claudius on. A number of archaeological finds depict the archigallus wearing luxurious and extravagant costumes. The archigallus was always a Roman citizen chosen by the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, whose term of service lasted for life.

Being a Roman citizen, as well as being employed by the Roman State, meant that the archigallus had to preserve the traditions of Cybele’s cult while not violating Roman prohibitions in religious behavior. Hence, the archigallus was never a eunuch, as all citizens of Rome were forbidden from emasculation. The signs of his office have been described as a type of crown, possibly a laurel wreath, as well as a golden bracelet known as the occabus.

Along with the institution of the archigallus came the Phrygianum sanctuary as well as the rite of the taurobolium as it pertains to the Magna Mater, two aspects of the Magna Mater’s cultus that the archigallus held dominion over.

Stephanus Byzantinus said that the name came from King Gallus. Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD) says that the name is derived from the Gallus river in Phrygia. The name may be linked to the Gauls (Celtic tribes) of Galatia in Anatolia, who were known as Galli by the Romans. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster.

While these efforts at “folk” etymologies were widespread in classical times, it has been suggested that gallu comes from the Sumerian Gal meaning “great” and Lu meaning “man”, humans or sexually ambivalent demons that freed Inanna from the underworld. They originally seem to have been consecrated to the god Enki.

There was a category of Mesopotamian priests called kalu; in Sumerian gala. These priests played the tympanum and were involved in bull sacrifice. The Gala (Akkadian: kalû) were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, individuals with neither male nor female gender identities.

Originally a specialist in singing lamentations, gala appear in temple records dating back from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. According to an old Babylonian text, Enki created the gala specifically to sing “heart-soothing laments” for the goddess Inanna. Cuniform references indicate the gendered character of the role.

Lamentation and wailing originally may have been female professions, so that men who entered the role adopted its forms. Their hymns were sung in a Sumerian dialect known as eme-sal, normally used to render the speech of female gods, and some gala took female names.

Two varieties (dialects or sociolects) of Sumerian are recorded. The standard variety is called eme-ĝir. The other recorded variety is called eme-sal (EME.SAL, possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice”), though often translated as “women’s language”. The root sal can have several meanings. Eme-sal is used exclusively by female characters in some literary texts.

In addition, it is dominant in certain genres of cult songs. The special features of eme-sal are mostly phonological (e.g. m is often used instead of ĝ as in me vs standard ĝe26, “I”), but words different from the standard language are also used (e.g. ga-ša-an vs standard nin, “lady”).

Homosexual proclivities are clearly implied by the Sumerian proverb that reads, “When the gala wiped off his anus [he said], ‘I must not arouse that which belongs to my mistress [i.e., Inanna]’ “.

In fact, the word gala was written using the sign sequence UŠ.KU, the first sign having also the reading giš3 (“penis”), and the second one dur2 (“anus”), so perhaps there is some pun involved.

Moreover, gala is homophonous with gal-la “vulva”. However, in spite of all their references of their effeminate character (especially in the Sumerian proverbs), many administrative texts mention gala priests who had children, wives, and large families. On the other hand, some gala priests were actually women.

Mesopotamian priests called assinnu, galatur, and kurgarru had a sacred function. These transgender or eunuch priests participated in liturgical rites, during which they were costumed and masked. They played music, sang, and danced, most often in ceremonies dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.

Fundamental to understanding the meaning and the function of the myth and ritual related to Attis in Rome is his relationship with the Galli. The role of prototype of the mythical castration of Attis for the institution of the “priesthood” of the Galli has almost always been emphasised, even if to different degrees.

In Sumerian and Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) mythology, the Gallus (also called gallu demons or gallas [Akkadian: gallû]) were great demons/devils of the underworld.

Gallu demons hauled unfortunate victims off to the underworld. They were one of seven devils (or “the offspring of hell”) of Babylonian theology that could be appeased by the sacrifice of a lamb at their altars.

Inanna (or Ishtar) was freed by gallu demons sent by Enki while she was on a journey to the underworld. An especially fierce gallu demon, the monstrous Asag, was slain by Ninurta using the enchanted mace Sharur.

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

There are a lot of parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.

Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal or Nirgali (Latin: Nergel). The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.

Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the deity of the city of Cuth (Cuthah): “And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal” (2 Kings, 17:30). According to the rabbins, his emblem was a cock and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna, god of the moon in Sumerian mythology, also called Suen, and Ninurta.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”. Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Ordinarily Nergal pairs with his consort Laz. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.

The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more.

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague.

Amongst the god’s custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.

In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah.

The Assyrian king Sennacherib speaks of one at Tarbisu to the north of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, but significantly, although Nebuchadnezzar II (606–586 BC), the great temple-builder of the neo-Babylonian monarchy, alludes to his operations at Meslam in Cuthah, he makes no mention of a sanctuary to Nergal in Babylon. Local associations with his original seat—Kutha—and the conception formed of him as a god of the dead acted in making him feared rather than actively worshipped.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld. She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period.

One of these myths is is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal as queen of the Netherworld cannot come up to attend. They invite her to send a messenger and she sends Namtar (or Namtaru, or Namtara; meaning destiny or fate), her vizier, a hellish minor deity in Mesopotamian mythology, god of death, and minister and messenger of An, Ereshkigal, and Nergal.

Namtar was regarded as the beloved son of Bêl/Enlil, and was married to the underworld goddess Hušbišag. He was considered responsible for diseases and pests. It was said that he commanded sixty diseases in the form of demons that could penetrate different parts of the human body; offerings to him were made to prevent those illnesses. The Assyrians and Babylonians took this belief from the Sumerians after conquering them.

To some they were the spirit of fate, and therefore of great importance. Apparently they executed the instructions given him concerning the fate of men, and could also have power over certain of the gods. In other writings they were regarded as the personification of death, much like the modern concept of the Grim Reaper.

He is treated well by all but disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal is banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

It is theorized that the story of Nergal is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god. The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

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About equality and primitive democracy

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Çatalhöyük

Çatalhöyük

Feminist Archaeology versus the Goddess Movement

Çatalhöyük had no apparent social classes, as no houses with distinctive features (belonging to royalty or religious hierarchy, for example) have been found so far. The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and seeming to have equal social status, as typically found in Paleolithic cultures.

In an article in the Turkish Daily News, Hodder is reported as denying that Çatalhöyük was a matriarchal society and quoted as saying “When we look at what they eat and drink and at their social statues, we see that men and women had the same social status. There was a balance of power.

Another example is the skulls found. If one’s social status was of high importance in Çatalhöyük, the body and head were separated after death. The number of female and male skulls found during the excavations is almost equal.” In another article on turkish “Hurriyet Daily News” Hodder is reported to say “We have learned that men and women were equally approached”.

Ubaid period

Map Ubaid culture-en.svg

Ubaid period

Thorkild Jacobsen – Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group, this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.

Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

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Fra Homo Economicus til Homo Ecologicus

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Vi står på stupet til vår egen undergang, og vil med dette bli den første dyreart som utsletter seg selv. Vi utrydder allerede dyrearter flere hundre ganger enn hva som er normalt og er ved å endre Jordas klima og miljø. Dette på grunn av måten vi samhandler med den på.

Om man ser på historisk utryddelse av megafauna (dyr over 45 kg), spesielt utenfor den Afro-Eurasiske landmassen, så følger det et distinkt mønster som korrelerer sterkt med spredningen av mennesker og avviker fra andre årsakssammenhenger som for eksempel klimaendringer.

Først Australia for ca. 45 000 år siden, deretter Tasmania for ca. 41 000 år siden (etter at en landbro til Australia ble skapt for 43 000 år siden), Japan for 30 000 år siden, Nord-Amerika for 13 000 år siden, Sør-Amerika ca 500 år senere, Madagaskar for 2000 år siden, New Zealand for 700 år siden, og så videre.

Det armenske høylandet, som også blir sett på som Edens hage, ettersom det var fruktbart og frodig, utgjorde grunnlaget for vår sivilisasjon og har senere blitt kjent som sivilisasjonens vugge. Det er her vi finner Göbekli Tepe, eller Portas-ar, som betyr navle på armensk, verdens første megalittiske tempel og fødestedet for vår religion og sivilisasjon.

Ettersom vi på et stadig høyere nivå hadde behov for å forstå hvem vi er, hvor vi kommer fra og verden rundt oss begynte vi på samme måte som da vi utviklet skriften og matematikken å studere stjernenes rise på himmelen og å skrive ned dette i form av astrologi og mytologi, som senere ble til vitenskap og religion.

I begynnelsen levde vi som jegere og sankere, men vi kom etter hvert til å utvikle jordbruket og temme dyrene. Det var full likestilling mellom kjønnene og vi levde side om side med naturen, som ble sett på som vår felles mor. Ubaid kulturen og Catal Huyuk, som vil si på 6000-tallet f.vt., preges av et egalitært samfunn og primitivt demokrati. Alt dette kom til å endre seg.

Etter hvert som det ble flere mennesker ble det også stadig flere og større konflikter. Mennene underla seg kvinnen og på samme måte som de hadde underlagt seg kvinnen skulle de også underlegge seg Jorda, som i mytologisk forstand blir sett på som å representere kvinnen.

Men med dette begynte vi å underlegge oss det feminine prinsippet i seg selv. Gjennom å fremheve den analytiske eller sekvensielle hjernehalvdelen fremfor den holistiske og simultant bearbeidende skapte vi etter hvert ubalanse i det økologiske systemet vi inngår.

Vi kan lære mye av de erfaringer vi allerede har gjort oss her på Jorda. Vi må ta tak i de punktene hvor vi er svakeste slik at det på nytt blir balanse mellom kreftene. Dette inkluderer full likestilling mellom kjønnene og en gjenoppreising av det feminine prinsippet, både i oss og rundt oss. Vi må behandle både hverandre og resten av naturen med respekt.

Vår politikk må derfor omhandle mer enn å skape grønne arbeidsplasser og grønnmale kapitalismen. Vi trenger å danne grunnlaget for et nytt samfunn og et nytt menneske. Vi må gjenfinne vår rolle i naturen og ta steget fra Homo Economicus, hvor det er pengene som er det sentrale, til Homo Ecologicus, hvor det er reelle og evige verdier som står i sentrum.

Vårt århundre vil bli skjellsettende i verdenshistorien. Vi befinner oss i en sosial, økonomisk og økologisk krise, som ikke kan løses innenfor dagens økonomiske paradigme. Det er vi som må ta valget for hvor neste skritt skal føres.

Valget er vårt

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