Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Master or Lord (king) and Mistress (queen) of (the) Animals

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 23, 2016

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Algiz (also Elhaz) is the name conventionally given to the “z-rune” ᛉ of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Its transliteration is z, understood as a phoneme of the Proto-Germanic language, the terminal *z continuing Proto-Indo-European terminal *s. The Elder Futhark rune ᛉ is conventionally called Algiz or Elhaz, from the Common Germanic word for “elk”.  The white elk was a symbol to the Norse of divine blessing and protection to those it graced with sight of itself. It is associated with the god Heimdall.

The Lord of the Animals (also known as Master of (the) Animals) is a generic term for a number of deities from a variety of cultures with close relationships to the animal kingdom or in part animal form (in cultures where that is not the norm).

Many depictions use a female version of the widespread ancient motif of the male Master of Animals, the so-called Mistress of the Animals, showing a central figure with a human form grasping two animals, one to each side.

Master of (the) Animals

Potnia Theron

Deer in mythology

List of hunting deities

List of nature deities

Diana (Frame gods)

The Master of (the) Animals or Lord of the Animals

The Master of (the) Animals or Lord of the Animals is a motif in ancient art showing a human between and grasping two confronted animals. It is very widespread in the art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt. The figure is normally male, but not always, the animals may be realistic or fantastical, and the figure may have animal elements such as horns, or an animal upper body. They may all have a Stone Age precursor who was probably a hunter’s deity.

Unless he is shown with specific divine attributes, he is typically described as a hero, although what the motif represented to the cultures which created the works probably varies greatly. The motif is so widespread and visually effective that many depictions were probably conceived as decoration with only a vague meaning attached to them.

The human figure may be standing, found from the 4th millennium BC, or kneeling on one knee, these latter found from the 3rd millennium BC. He is usually shown looking frontally, but in Assyrian pieces typically shown from the side. Sometimes the animals are clearly alive, whether fairly passive and tamed, or still struggling or attacking. In other pieces they may represent dead hunter’s prey.

The Greek god shown as “Master of Animals” is usually Apollo, the god of hunting. Shiva has the epithet Pashupati meaning the “Lord of cattle”, and these figures may derive from a Proto-Indo-European deity or archetype. Chapter 39 of the Book of Job has been interpreted as an assertion of the God of the Hebrew Bible as Master of Animals. The Master of Animals is the “favorite motif of Achaemenian official seals”, but the figures in these cases should be understood as the king.

In the art of Mesopotamia the motif appears very early, usually with a “naked hero”, for example at Uruk in the Uruk period (c. 4000 to 3100 BC), but was “outmoded in Mesopotamia by the seventh century BC”. Many Mesopotamian examples may represent Enkidu, a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. In Luristan bronzes the motif is extremely common, and often highly stylized.

Other associated representations show a figure controlling or “taming” a single animal, usually to the right of the figure. But the many representations of heroes or kings killing an animal are distinguished from these.

The motif takes pride of place at the top of the famous Gebel el-Arak Knife, an ivory and flint knife dating from the Naqada II d period of Egyptian prehistory, which began c.3450 BC, showing Mesopotamian influence. Here a figure in Mesopotamian dress, often taken to be a god, grapples with two lions.

It has been connected to the famous Pashupati seal from the Indus Valley Civilization (2500-1500 BC), showing a figure seated in a yoga-like posture, with a horned headress (or horns), and surrounded by animals.

This in turn is related to a figure on the Gundestrup cauldron, who sits with legs part-crossed, has antlers, is surrounded by animals and grasps a snake in one hand and a torc in the other. This famous and puzzling object probably dates to 200 BC, or possibly as late as 300 AD, and though found in Denmark was perhaps made in Thrace.

The purse cover from the Sutton Hoo burial of about 620 AD has two plaques with a man between two wolves, and the motif is common in Anglo-Saxon art and related Early Medieval styles, where the animals generally remain aggressive.

Although such figures are not all, or even usually, deities, the term can also be a generic name for a number of deities from a variety of cultures with close relationships to the animal kingdom or in part animal form (in cultures where that is not the norm).

The horned god of the hunt

Many relate to the horned deity of the hunt, another common type. The implication being that these all have a Stone Age precursor who was probabably a hunter’s deity. The classic example of which is the ‘horned god of the hunt’, typified by Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter and Arnon, and a variety of Stag, Bull, Ram and Goat gods. Horned gods are not universal however, and in some cultures bear gods, like Arktos might take the role, or even the more anthropomorphic deities who lead the Wild Hunt.

Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the “horned god” of Celtic polytheism. Cernunnos was a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. The name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but he appears all over Gaul, and among the Celtiberians.

Cernunnos is depicted with the antlers of a stag, sometimes carries a purse filled with coin, often seated cross-legged and often associated with animals and holding or wearing torcs, are known from over 50 examples in the Gallo-Roman period, mostly in north-eastern Gaul.

Not much is known about the god from literary sources, and details about his name, his followers or his significance in Celtic religion are unknown. Speculative interpretations identify him as a god of nature, life or fertility.

Gaulish karnon “horn” is cognate with Latin cornu and Germanic *hurnaz, English horn, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *k̑r̥no-. The etymon karn- “horn” appears in both Gaulish and Galatian branches of Continental Celtic. Hesychius of Alexandria glosses the Galatian word karnon as “Gallic trumpet”, that is, the Celtic military horn listed as the carnyx by Eustathius of Thessalonica, who notes the instrument’s animal-shaped bell.

Deer have significant roles in the mythology of various peoples. The Insular Celts have stories involving supernatural deer, who are associated with a spiritual figure, and spirits or deities who may take the form of deer.

In some Scottish and Irish tales deer are seen as “fairy cattle” and are herded and milked by a tutelary, benevolent, otherworldly woman (such as a bean sìdhe or in other cases the goddess Flidais), who can shapeshift into the form of a red or white deer. In the West Highlands, this woman of the otherworld selects the individual deer who will be slain in the next day’s hunt.

In Ireland, The Cailleach Bhéara (“The Old Woman of Beare”), who lives on an island off the coast of County Cork, takes the form of a deer to avoid capture, and herds her deer down by the shore. The Beare peninsula is also associated with the islands in the western sea that are the lands of the dead. Other Celtic mythological figures such as Oisin and Sadbh also have connections to deer.

Cernunnos is a mythological figure in Continental Celtic mythology, and possibly one of the figures depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron. He has deer or stag antlers on the top of his head. His role in the religion and mythology is unclear, as there are no particular stories about him.

An Anglo-Saxon royal scepter found at the Sutton Hoo burial site in England features a depiction of an upright, antlered stag. In the Old English language poem Beowulf, much of the first portion of the story focuses on events surrounding a great mead hall called Heorot, meaning “Hall of the Hart”.

In the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál the four stags of Yggdrasil are described as feeding on the world tree, Yggdrasil, and the poem further relates that the stag Eikþyrnir lives on top of Valhalla. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, the god Freyr is having once killed Beli with an antler. In Þiðrekssaga, Sigurd is presented as having been nursed by a doe.

Andy Orchard proposes a connection between the hart Eikþyrnir atop Valhalla, the hart imagery associated with Heorot, and the Sutton Hoo scepter. Sam Newton identifies both the Sutton Hoo whetstone and the hall Heorot as early English symbols of kingship.

Rudolf Simek says that “it is not completely clear what role the stag played in Germanic religion” and theorizes that “the stag cult probably stood in some sort of connexion to Odin’s endowment of the dignity of kings.”

In Greek mythology, the deer is particularly associated with Artemis in her role as virginal huntress. Actaeon, after witnessing the nude figure of Artemis bathing in a pool, was transformed by Artemis into a stag that his own hounds tore to pieces. Callimachus, in his archly knowledgeable “Hymn III to Artemis”, mentions the deer that drew the chariot of Artemis:

One of the Labors of Heracles was to capture the Cerynian Hind sacred to Artemis and deliver it briefly to his patron, then rededicate it to Artemis. As a hind bearing antlers was unknown in Greece, the story suggests a reindeer, which, unlike other deer, can be harnessed and whose females bear antlers. The myth relates to Hyperborea, a northern land that would be a natural habitat for reindeer. Heracles’ son Telephus was exposed as an infant on the slopes of Tegea but nurtured by a doe.

In Hindu mythology, the Aitareya Upanishad tells us that the goddess Saraswati takes the form of a red deer called Rohit. Saraswati is the goddess of learning, so learned men use deer skin as clothing and mats to sit upon.

A golden deer plays an important role in the epic Ramayana. While in exile in the forest, Rama’s wife Sita sees a golden deer and asks Rama and Lakshmana to get it for her. The deer is actually a rakshasa called Maricha in disguise. Maricha takes this form to lure Rama and Lakshmana away from Sita so his nephew Ravana can kidnap her.

The Tribe Naftali bore a Stag on its tribal banner, and was poetically described as a Hind in the Blessing of Jacob. In Jewish mythology – as discussed in the Talmud exists a giant kind of stag by the name “Keresh”. He is said to live in a mythical forest called “Bei Ilai”.

In Hungarian mythology, Hunor and Magor, the founders of the Magyar peoples, chased a white stag in a hunt. The stag lead them into unknown land that they named Scythia. Hunor and Magor populated Scythia with their descendants the Huns and the Magyars. To this day, an important emblem in Hungary is a many-antlered stag with its head turned back over its shoulder.

The Scythians had some reverence for the stag, which is one of the most common motifs in their artwork, especially at funeral sites. The swift animal was believed to speed the spirits of the dead on their way, which perhaps explains the curious antlered headdresses found on horses buried at Pazyryk. In Slavic fairytales, Golden-horned deer is a large deer with golden antlers.

Saint Giles, a Catholic saint especially revered in the south of France, is reported to have lived for many years as a hermit in the forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a deer, or hind, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. In art, he is often depicted together with that hind.

Deer figure in the founding legend of Le Puy-en-Velay, where a Christian church replaced a megalithic dolmen said to have healing powers. A local tradition had rededicated the curative virtue of the sacred site to Mary, who cured ailments by contact with the standing stone. When the founding bishop Vosy climbed the hill, he found that it was snow-covered in July; in the snowfall, the tracks of a deer around the dolmen outlined the foundations of the future church.

Saint Hubertus (or “Hubert”) is a Christian saint, the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers, and used to be invoked to cure rabies. The legend of St Hubertus concerned an apparition of a stag with the crucifix between its horns, effecting the worldly and aristocratic Hubert’s conversion to a saintly life.

In the story of Saint Hubertus, on Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubertus sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, which occasioned the change of heart that led him to a saintly life. The story of the hart appears first in one of the later legendary hagiographies (Bibliotheca hagiographica Latina, nos. 3994–4002) and has been appropriated from the earlier legend of Saint Eustace (Placidus).

Later in the 6th century, the Bishop Saint Gregory of Tours wrote his chronicles about the Merovingian rulers. Historia Francorum contains the legend of King Clovis I, who prayed to Christ in one of his campaigns so he could find a place to cross the river Vienne. Considered as a divine sign, a huge deer appeared and showed where the army could pass.

In the 14th century, probably keeping some relation with Saint Eustace’s legend, the deer again appears in Christian legend. The Chronicon Pictum contains a story where the later King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary and his brother the King Géza I of Hungary were hunting in a forest, and a deer with numerous candles on his antlers appeared to them.

Saint Ladislaus told his brother that it wasn’t a deer but an angel of God, and his antlers were wings; the candles were shining feathers. He also stated his intent to build a cathedral in honor of the Holy Virgin in the place where the deer appeared.

Protective / Tutelary deities

The stag was revered alongside the bull at Alaca Höyük and continued in the Hittite mythology as the protective deity whose name is recorded as KAL. Other Hittite gods were often depicted standing on the backs of stags.

In Hittite texts the God on the Stag is a Tutelary Deity (Sumerogram LAMMA). A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the Lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

Although “lamassu” had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, and shedu evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called “apsasû”.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin which were depicted with different iconography.[clarification needed] These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”.

In Hittite, the Sumerian form LAMMA is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods. Thesigns LAMMA has two possible readings: Hittite Inara (Luwian Annari) and Luwian Kurunta. 

The proto-Hittite iconography of Kurunta is a god standing on a stag. He has in one hand a raptor and in the other hand a hare. His Luwian hieroglyph is a stag of only the antler in the Luwian reading Runtiya.

Kuruntiya and Runtiya are linguistical not a problem Volkert Haas reported that Kurunta-Runtiya, like Karhuhi-Karhuha are the ‘paredros’ of Kubaba, who was worshipped in Karkamish and Malataya.

The Pantheon of Karkamish did not show a Stag god, it seems that the LAMMA god and the ‘paredros‘ of Kubabba is in Karakamish Karhuhi-Karhuha and in Malatay Kurunta-Runtiya. So it is assumedthat the myth of the god Kurunta would originate from the Stag god of Malatya.

Also Daniel Schwemer mentioned in an article the connection: “the Hittite Stag-god KAL — Hittite Innara, Luwian Annari,Hittite-Luwian Kurunti(ya)  was associated with Mesopotamian LÀMA = lamassu , the protective deity, in the same lexical entry”.

Alternative titles are Kurunda, Runda, Ruwata, and Tuwata. Rundas is the Hittite god of the hunt and of good fortune. His emblem is a double eagle with a hare in each talon. Rudra is a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm, and the hunt. The name has been translated as “the roarer”. In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the “mightiest of the mighty”. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect.

The Hindu god Shiva shares several features with the Rudra: the theonym Shiva originated as an epithet of Rudra, the adjective shiva (“kind”) being used euphemistically of Rudra, who also carries the epithet Aghora, Abhayankar (“extremely calm [sic] non terrifying”).

Usage of the epithet came to exceed the original theonym by the post-Vedic period (in the Sanskrit Epics), and the name Rudra has been taken as a synonym for the god Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably. 

Alu the Stag

The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”.

As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Alalu fled to the underworld. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Alulim was the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before. The Sumerian King List has the following entry for Alulim: “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug (Eridu). In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years.”

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

The World Tree

In terms of its composition the Master of Animals motif compares with another very common motif in the art of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean, that of two confronted animals flanking and grazing on a Tree of Life.

The concept of a tree of life is a widespread mytheme or archetype in the world’s mythologies, related to the concept of sacred tree more generally, and hence in religious and philosophical tradition. Various trees of life are recounted in folklore, culture and fiction, often relating to immortality or fertility. They had their origin in religious symbolism.

The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, and are portrayed in various religions and philosophies as the same tree.

To the Ancient Egyptians, the Tree of Life represented the hierarchical chain of events that brought everything into existence. The spheres of the Tree of Life demonstrate the order, process, and method of creation.

In Egyptian mythology, in the Ennead system of Heliopolis, the first couple, apart from Shu and Tefnut (moisture and dryness) are Geb and Nuit (earth and sky), are Isis and Osiris. They were said to have emerged from the acacia tree of Iusaaset, which the Egyptians considered the tree of life, referring to it as the “tree in which life and death are enclosed.”

In ancient Urartu, the Tree of Life was a religious symbol and was drawn on walls of fortresses and carved on the armor of warriors. The branches of the tree were equally divided on the right and left sides of the stem, with each branch having one leaf, and one leaf on the apex of the tree. Servants stood on each side of the tree with one of their hands up as if they are taking care of the tree.

The tree of life appears in Norse religion as Yggdrasil, the world tree, a massive tree (sometimes considered a yew or ash tree) with extensive lore surrounding it. Perhaps related to Yggdrasil, accounts have survived of Germanic Tribes’ honouring sacred trees within their societies. Examples include Thor’s Oak, sacred groves, the Sacred tree at Uppsala, and the wooden Irminsul pillar. In Norse Mythology, the apples from Iðunn’s ash box provide immortality for the gods.

 

Lord of the Mountain

Such figures are also often referred to as ‘Lord of the forest’* or ‘Lord of the mountain’. Dushara (“Lord of the Mountain”), also transliterated as Dusares, is a deity worshipped by the Nabataeans at Petra and Madain Saleh (of which city he was the patron).

In Greek times, he was associated with Zeus because he was the chief of the Nabataean pantheon as well as with Dionysus. His sanctuary at Petra contained a great temple in which a large cubical stone was the centrepiece.

A shrine to Dushara has been discovered in the harbour of ancient Puteoli in Italy. The city was an important nexus for trade to the Near East, and it is known to have had a Nabataean presence during the mid 1st century BCE. The cult continued in some capacity well into the Roman period

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. His name means “king of the mountains”. He seems to be associated with Dionysus.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (MAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He is sometimes called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê, ‘lord of the mountain’; dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke (“He who dwells on the pure mountain”); and kur-za-gan ti-[la] (“The one who inhabits the shining mountain”). In Cappadocian Zinčirli inscriptions he is called ì-li a-bi-a (“the god of my father”).

Girish (also spelled as Gireesh) is a Hindu name which means “lord of the Mountains” in Sanskrit (“giri” means Mountain and “ish” means God). This is a name of Lord Shiva, given because of his abode in the Himalayan Mountains. Lord Sri Ventakeshwara who resides on top of seven hills called Saptagiri also has Girish as one of his names. Girish, the king of mountains, is also referred by some to Himavan, father of Shiva’s wife Parvati.

Elagabus

Elagabalus or or Heliogabalus (Aramaic Ilaha Gabal, the “lord of the mountain”), is a Syro-Roman sun god. His cult was introduced in Rome by the boy-emperor Heliogabalus (218-222). After the Emperor was killed in 222, his religious edicts were reversed and the cult of Elagabalus returned to Emesa.

The cult statue was brought to Rome by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who, before his accession, was the hereditary high priest at Emesa and was commonly called Elagabalus after the deity. The Syrian deity was assimilated with the Roman sun god known as Sol Invictus (“the Undefeated Sun”).

Elagabalus was initially venerated at Emesa in Syria. All gods of the pantheon of the Arabian city Emesa, in Syria, had Semitic names, with one exception: the supreme god Elagabal, who represented the sun. His unusual name suggests an earlier origin and suggests this god was a local deity, related to similar pre-Arabian gods from Canaan.

The name is the Latinised form of the Semitic Ilāh hag-Gabal, which derives from Ilāh “god” and gabal “mountain” (compare Arabic: jabal), resulting in “the God of the Mountain”, the Emesene manifestation of the deity. The Aramaic form of name of Elagabal is Ilaha Gabal, meaning “God of the mountain”.

A temple called the Elagabalium was built on the east face of the Palatine Hill, to house the holy stone of the Emesa temple, a black conical meteorite. Herodian writes of that stone: This stone is worshipped as though it were sent from heaven; on it there are some small projecting pieces and markings that are pointed out, which the people would like to believe are a rough picture of the sun, because this is how they see them.

Herodian also relates that Elagabalus forced senators to watch while he danced around his deity’s altar to the sound of drums and cymbals, and at each summer solstice celebrated a great festival, popular with the masses because of food distributions, during which he placed the holy stone on a chariot adorned with gold and jewels, which he paraded through the city:

A six horse chariot carried the divinity, the horses huge and flawlessly white, with expensive gold fittings and rich ornaments. No one held the reins, and no one rode in the chariot; the vehicle was escorted as if the god himself were the charioteer. Elagabalus ran backward in front of the chariot, facing the god and holding the horses reins. He made the whole journey in this reverse fashion, looking up into the face of his god.

Herodian’s description strongly suggests that the Emesene cult was inspired by the Babylonian Akitu-festival (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku (“The barley-cutting”), akiti-šununum (“barley-sowing”), Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim (“Head of the year”), a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

The Emperor also tried to bring about a union of Roman and Syrian religion under the supremacy of his deity, which he placed even above Jupiter, and to which he assigned either Astarte, Minerva or Urania, or some combination of the three, as wife.

The most sacred relics from the Roman religion were transferred from their respective shrines to the Elagabalium, including “the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the shields of the Salii, and all that the Romans held sacred.” He reportedly also declared that Jews, Samaritans and Christians must transfer their rites to his temple so that it “might include the mysteries of every form of worship.”

Gibil in Sumerian mythology is the god of fire, variously of the son of An and Ki, An and Shala or of Ishkur and Shala. He later developed into the Akkadian god Gerra. In some versions of the Enûma Eliš Gibil is said to maintain the sharp point of weapons, have broad wisdom, and that his mind is “so vast that all the gods, all of them, cannot fathom it”. Some versions state Gibil, as lord of the fire and the forge, also possesses wisdom of metallurgy.

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. 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.

Mountain gods had been known in Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine since Hittite times, and they continued to be venerated up until the Roman age. They were often portrayed with eagles. At a later stage, the worshippers of Elagabal were influenced by the cult of the Babylonian sun god Šamaš. Elagabal has also been compared to the Chaldaean god Gibil, which can be translated as “god of the black stone”. Gebal is a Semitic root which means “to create”.

Triads were common in Syrian and Mesopotamian cities, and Elagabal, the personification of a male principle and fertile warmth, had two female consorts of Semitic origin: Atargatis can be compared to the Phrygian goddess Cybele, the “great mother”; the other female deity, Astarte, resembles Aphrodite. She offered water and fertility to the people, and was immensely popular in Syria.

Mistress of Animals

These figures control animals, usually wild ones, and are responsible for their continued reproduction and availability for hunters. They sometimes also have female equivalents, the so-called Mistress of the Animals. Potnia Theron, a phrase used by Homer meaning “Mistress of the Animals” is used for early Greek depictions of goddesses, usually Artemis, holding animals.

Potnia Theron is a term first used (once) by Homer (Iliad 21. 470) and often used to describe female divinities associated with animals. The word Potnia, meaning mistress or lady, was a Mycenaean Greek word inherited by Classical Greek, with the same meaning, cognate to Sanskrit patnī.

The oldest depiction has been discovered in Çatalhöyük. Another example of Potnia theròn is situated in Museo civico archeologico di Monte Rinaldo in Italy: plate illustrates goddess that wears with a long dress and holds hands two panthers.

Cybele (“Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where the statue of a pregnant, seated goddess was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE. She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity.

This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.

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” (“The Mistress of the Animals”) of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

In Egyptian mythology, Satet (also spelt Satis, Satjit, Sates, and Sati) was the deification of the floods of the Nile River. Her cult originated in the ancient city of Swenet, now called Aswan on the southern edge of Egypt. Her name means she who shoots forth referring to the annual flooding of the river. Satet was also connected with the Eye of Ra.

She was an early war, hunting, and fertility deity who was seen as the mother of the goddess Anuket, the personification and goddess of the Nile river in the Egyptian mythology, and a protector of southern Egypt. Satet, goddess of the hunt, was shown with the horns of a deer, and sometimes a deer’s face.

One of her titles was She Who Runs Like an Arrow, which is thought to refer to the river current, and her symbols became the arrow and the running river. Satet was pictured as a woman wearing the conical crown of Upper Egypt, the Hedjet, with gazelle or antelope horns, or as an antelope, a fast moving creature living near the banks of the river in the southern portion of Ancient Egypt. She also was depicted with a bow and arrows.

Other interpretations say her primary role was that of the war goddess, a guardian of Egypt’s southern (Nubian) frontier and killing the enemies of the Pharaoh with her arrows.

She usually is depicted as holding an ankh also, due to her association with the life giving flooding of the Nile. Consequently, Satet acted as a fertility goddess, thus granting the wishes of those who sought love. Satet is also described as offering jars of purifying water.

Later she became regarded as one of the consorts of Khnum, the god identified as the guardian of the source of the Nile, with whom she was worshipped at Elephantine (the First nome of Egypt), indeed the centre of her cult was nearby, at Sahal, another island of the Nile. Since she was most dominant at the southern end of Egypt, she became regarded as the guard of Egypt’s southern border with Nubia.

Satet’s child was Anuket, goddess of the Nile River herself, who formed the third part of the Elephantine triad of deities when formed. Anuket is in the interpretatio graeca, considered equivalent to Hestia or Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth and home.

An Artemis type deity, a ‘Mistress of the Animals’, is often assumed to have existed in prehistorical religion and often referred to as Potnia Theron, with some scholars positing a relationship between Artemis and goddesses depicted in Minoan art and “Potnia Theron has become a generic term for any female associated with animals.”

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.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).

In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

 

Diana and Janus

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis.

Diana was worshipped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

Oak groves were especially sacred to her as were deer. According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother, Apollo, on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. She made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

As a goddess of hunting, Diana often wears a short tunic and hunting boots. She is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Like Venus, she was portrayed as beautiful and youthful. The crescent moon, sometimes worn as a diadem, is a major attribute of the goddess.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. While the fundamental nature of Janus is debated, in most modern scholars’ view the god’s functions may be seen as being organized around a single principle: presiding over all beginnings and transitions, whether abstract or concrete, sacred or profane.

Interpretations concerning the god’s fundamental nature either limit it to this general function or emphasize a concrete or particular aspect of it (identifying him with light the sun, the moon, time, movement, the year, doorways, bridges etc.) or else see in the god a sort of cosmological principle, interpreting him as a uranic deity.

He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace.

As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.

Janus had no flamen or specialised priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Three etymologies were proposed by ancient erudites, each of them bearing implications about the nature of the god.

The first one is based on the definition of Chaos given by Paul the Deacon: hiantem, hiare, be open, from which word Ianus would derive by loss of the initial aspirate. In this etymology the notion of Chaos would define the primordial nature of the god.

Another etymology proposed by Nigidius Figulus is related by Macrobius: Ianus would be Apollo and Diana Iana, by the addition of a D for the sake of euphony. This explanation has been accepted by A. B. Cook and J. G. Frazer.

It supports all the assimilations of Janus to the bright sky, the sun and the moon. It supposes a former *Dianus, formed on *dia- < *dy-eð from Indo-European root *dey- shine represented in Latin by dies day, Diovis and Iuppiter. However the form Dianus postulated by Nigidius is not attested.

The interpretation of Janus as the god of beginnings and transitions is based on a third etymology indicated by Cicero, Ovid and Macrobius, which explains the name as Latin, deriving it from the verb ire (“to go”).

Modern scholars have conjectured that it derives from the Indo-European root meaning transitional movement (cf. Sanskrit “yana-” or Avestan “yah-“, likewise with Latin “i-” and Greek “ei-“). Iānus would then be an action name expressing the idea of going, passing, formed on the root *yā- < *y-eð- theme II of the root *ey- go from which eō.

Other modern scholars object to an Indo-European etymology either from Dianus or from root *yā-. From Ianus derived ianua (“door”), and hence the English word “janitor” (Latin, ianitor).

Frame gods

The persona of Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to Georges Dumézil it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as frame gods. Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions—that of becoming dei otiosi or gods without practical purpose, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with light, inaccessibility, virginity, and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana therefore reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility, and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.

These functions are apparent in the traditional institutions and cults related to the goddess. The institution of the rex Nemorensis, Diana’s sacerdos (priest) in the Arician wood, who held the position until someone else challenged and killed him in a duel, after breaking a branch from a certain tree of the wood.

This ever open succession reveals the character and mission of the goddess as a guarantor of kingly status through successive generations. Her function as bestower of authority to rule is also attested in the story related by Livy in which a Sabine man who sacrifices a heifer to Diana wins for his country the seat of the Roman empire.

Diana was also worshipped by women who wanted to be pregnant or who, once pregnant, prayed for an easy delivery. This form of worship is attested in archeological finds of votive statuettes in her sanctuary in the nemus Aricinum as well as in ancient sources, e.g. Ovid.

The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.

Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. This looks odd as Dumézil’s definition of the concept of frame god would fit well the figure of Janus.

Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex. This regality is also linked to the cult of trees, particularly oaks. In this interpretative schema, the institution of the Rex Nemorensis and related ritual should be seen as related to the theme of the dying god and the kings of May.

 

Dyeus

According to Dumezil the forerunner of all frame gods is an Indian epic hero who was the image (avatar) of the Vedic god Dyaus Pita (literally “Sky Father”), the ancient sky god of the Vedic pantheon, consort of Prithvi Mata “Earth Mother” and father of the chief deities of the Rigveda, Agni (Fire), Indra, and Ushas (Dawn).

Having renounced the world, in his roles of father and king, he attained the status of an immortal being while retaining the duty of ensuring that his dynasty is preserved and that there is always a new king for each generation.

Dyaus Pita is a very marginal deity in Rigvedic mythology, but his intrinsic importance is visible from his being the father of the chief deities. That Dyaus was seen as the father of Indra is known only from one verse, RV 4.17.4: “Thy Father Dyaus esteemed himself a hero: most noble was the work of Indra’s Maker / His who begat the strong bolt’s Lord who roareth, immovable like earth from her foundation.”

He is mainly considered in comparative philology as a last remnant of the chief god of Proto-Indo-European religion. The name Dyauṣ Pitā is etymologically parallel to the Greek Zeus Pater, and closely related to Latin Jupiter. Both Dyauṣ and Zeus reflect a Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus.

Based on this reconstruction, the widespread opinion in scholarship since the 19th century has been that Indra had replaced Dyaus as the chief god of the early Indo-Aryans. While Prthivi survives as a Hindu goddess after the end of the Vedic period, Dyaus Pita became almost unknown already in antiquity.

The noun dyaús (when used without the pitā “father”) means “sky, heaven” and occurs frequently in the Rigveda, as a mythological entity, but not as a male deity: the sky in Vedic mythology was imagined as rising in three tiers, avama , madhyama, and uttama or tṛtīya. In the Purusha Suktam, the sky is described to have been created from the head of the primaeval being, the Purusha.

Dyēus (also *Dyēus Phtḗr, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Ph2ter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with canaanite deities and Perkwunos.

The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light: Istanu (Tiyaz) is a solar deity, Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in Roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.

Mesopotamia

Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from 𒀭An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi.

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. 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. 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.

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.

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. In a 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”, Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. He is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the “Twelve Labours,” but the list has variations. He is equated with the Germanic Þunraz, or Thor, by way of interpretatio romana.

In Mesopotamian religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She 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. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

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.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu.

Kingu reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death. Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle, who she have to Kingu, their son, and the one she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host.

The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

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