Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    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

    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.

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The white horse, the king and the saviour

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on July 22, 2018

Bilderesultat for zodiac

Horse worship

The horse carries great symbolic meaning in human cultures. In Celtic and Germanic cultures, for instance, the horse could be associated with the journeying sun, and horses were deified and used in divination.

Horse worship is a spiritual practice with archaeological evidence of its existence during the Iron Age and, in some places, as far back as the Bronze Age. The horse was seen as divine, as a sacred animal associated with a particular deity, or as a totem animal impersonating the king or warrior.

Horse cults and horse sacrifice were originally a feature of Eurasian nomad cultures. Many Indo-European religious branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a Proto Indo-European (PIE) ritual.

While horse worship has been almost exclusively associated with Indo-European culture, by the Early Middle Ages it was also adopted by Turkic peoples. Celtic horse sacrifice is rare whereas horses were regularly sacrificed and buried alongside dead humans in Germany and Scandinavia.

Horse burial

Horse burial is the practice of burying a horse as part of the ritual of human burial, and is found among many Indo-European peoples and others, including Chinese and Turkic peoples. The act indicates the high value placed on horses in the particular cultures and provides evidence of the migration of peoples with a horse culture.

This process of horse burial is part of a wider tradition of horse sacrifice. An associated ritual is that of chariot burial, in which an entire chariot, with or without a horse, is buried with a dead person.

The primary archaeological context of horse sacrifice are burials, notably chariot burials, but graves with horse remains reach from the Eneolithic well into historical times. Herodotus describes the execution of horses at the burial of a Scythian king, and Iron Age kurgan graves known to contain horses number in the hundreds. There are also frequent deposition of horses in burials in Iron Age India. The custom is by no means restricted to Indo-European populations, but is continued by Turkic tribes.

Considerable differences exist between different horse burials even within a single area and culture, so much so that it is perhaps impossible to generalize. Sometimes horses were cremated, sometimes buried; sometimes they were placed in the same grave as humans, sometimes in a different pit; some cultures appear to favor horse burial for male warriors, others did not seem to differentiate in gender.

The practice of horse burial is bound to the historical territory covered by the domesticated horse, which initially was the Eurasian Steppe, ca. 4000–3500 BCE. Early cultures with a mythology that would support horse burial are those in or bordering those areas—Turkic cultures, Chinese cultures, and Indo-European cultures.

It is claimed that a form of horse burial is attested from the Paleolithic, when the skin of a horse was hung over a pole; some of the animal’s bones were left inside the skin to preserve its shape. This supposed “head and hooves” culture, however, is only one explanation for archeological finds from the third millennium BCE.

The earliest proven horse burial in the Old World dates back to the fifth or fourth millennium BC and is found in S’ezzhee, in a cemetery on the Volga from the Samara culture. Thousands of years later, Herodotus described the practice among the Scythians. Typically, such burials involved the sacrifice and burial of one or more horses to accompany the remains of high-ranked members or warriors.

In China, horse burials (including chariots) are found beginning in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1100 BCE). Remains of the ritual are found in Kazakh culture, where a dead person’s horse is slaughtered a year after its owner’s death, in a ceremony accompanied by horse races. Horse burial and related rituals survived among other peoples as well into recent times.

Sites featuring horse burials are found throughout the regions of the world occupied by Indo-Aryan, Turkic, and Chinese peoples. They include Tall al-Ajjul (Gaza strip, dating back to 2100 BC), Central Iran, where horse burials are attested in the second millennium BC, Marlik (in Iran, from the late second millennium BCE), and Gordium (in Phrygia, with horse burials attested possibly after 700 BCE).

A horse burial from Bactria provides evidence of the migration in the second millennium BCE of horse cultures from Central Asia into Turkmenistan. A horse burial in Tell el-Dab’a, Egypt, evidences the introduction of the horse to Egypt by the Hyksos, in the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (1650–1550 BCE).

A nomad’s kurgan burial of around 700 BCE at Kostromskaya in southern Russia included, as well as the principal male body with his accoutrements, thirteen humans with no adornment above him, and around the edges of the burial twenty-two horses buried in pairs. Horse burials are part of the Pazyryk burials, where lavishly decked-out horses were killed and sometimes buried in chambers separate from those containing human remains.

They were characteristic in pre-Christian Hungary (one horse burial was excavated in Mikulčice, another in Sterlitamak) of the ninth and tenth centuries, especially for rich members of society, where people were buried next to the skin and the skull of a saddled horse; the rest of the horse meat was possibly eaten during a burial ceremony. Roman culture left horse burials throughout their empire, including first-century burials in modern-day Waremme, Belgium and Beuningen, Netherlands.

Germanic peoples attached great significance to the horse; a horse may have been an acquaintance of the god Wodan, and they may have been (according to Tacitus) confidants of the gods. Scandinavian literature from the 8th to 11th centuries emphasizes the importance of horses in Viking society.

Horses were closely associated with gods, especially Odin and Freyr. Horses played a central role in funerary practices as well as in other rituals. Horses were prominent symbols of fertility, and there were many horse fertility cults. The rituals associated with these include horse fights, burials, consumption of horse meat, and horse sacrifice.

Hieros gamos

There is evidence but no explicit myths from the three branches of Indo-Europeans of a major horse sacrifice ritual based on a mythical union of Indo-European kingship and the horse. The reconstructed myth involves the coupling of a king with a divine mare which produced the divine twins.

A related myth is that of a hero magically twinned with a horse foaled at the time of his birth, suggested to be fundamentally the same myth as that of the divine twin horsemen by the mytheme of a “mare-suckled” hero from Greek and medieval Serbian evidence, or mythical horses with human traits (Xanthos), suggesting totemic identity of the Indo-European hero or king with the horse.

The Indian Aśvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common attributes. The Gaulish personal name Epomeduos is from ek’wo-medhu- (“horse + mead”), while aśvamedha is either from ek’wo-mad-dho- (“horse + drunk”) or ek’wo-mey-dho- (“horse + strength”).

Balius (possibly “dappled”) and Xanthus (“blonde”) were, according to Greek mythology, two immortal horses, the offspring of the harpy Podarge and the West wind, Zephyrus; following another tradition, their father was Zeus.

Poseidon gave the two horses to King Peleus of Phthia, as a wedding gift, when Peleus married the Ocean goddess Thetis. Peleus later gave the horses to his son Achilles who took them to draw his chariot during the Trojan War.

Book 16 of the Iliad tells us that Achilles had a third horse, Pedasos (maybe “Jumper”, maybe “Captive”), which was yoked as a “trace horse”, along with Xanthus and Balios. Achilles had captured Pedasos when he took the city of Eetion. Pedasos was mortal, but he could keep up with the divine horses.

Sarpedon, prince of Lycia and ally of Troy, killed Pedasos when his spear missed Patroclus. Achilles’ comrade-in-arms Patroclus used to feed and groom these horses. In the Iliad, it is told how, when Patroclus was killed in battle, Xanthus and Balius stood motionless on the field of battle, and wept.

At Iliad 17.474-8, Automedon, Achilles’ charioteer, states that only Patroclus was able to fully control these horses. When Xanthus was rebuked by the grieving Achilles for allowing Patroclus to be slain, Hera granted Xanthus human speech which broke Divine law, allowing the horse to say that a god had killed Patroclus and that a god would soon kill Achilles too. After this, the Erinyes struck the horse dumb.

Another Xanthus, not to be confused with the horse mentioned above, was one of the horses of Diomedes of Thrace, who fed these animals on human flesh. The capture of these horses was the eighth of the Twelve Labors of the Great Heracles.

The Indo-European ubiquity and importance of horse sacrifice (which in many cases involves a symbolic coupling between king and mare) attests to this importance. In an episode preserved in a remark of Pausanias, an archaic Demeter Erinys (Vengeful Demeter) too had also been a Great Mare, who was mounted by Poseidon in the form of a stallion and foaled Arion and the Daughter who was unnamed outside the Arcadian mysteries.

In the myth, Poseidon saw Demeter and desired her. To avoid him, she took her archaic form of a mare, but he took the form of a stallion and mated with her. From this union Demeter bore a daughter, Despoina, who originally had the shape of a mare too, and a fabulous horse, Arion. Due to her anger at this turn of events, Demeter also was given the epithet, Erinys (raging).

This seems related to the archaic myth by which Poseidon once pursued Demeter; She spurned his advances, turning herself into a mare so that she could hide in a herd of horses; he saw through the deception and became a stallion and captured her. Their child was a horse, Arion, which was capable of human speech.

In the myth of the isolated land of Arcadia, the river spirit of the underworld appears as a horse (Poseidon Hippios), as was usual in northern European folklore. The horse (numina) was related with the liquid element, and with the underworld.

Poseidon appears as a beast (horse), which is the river spirit of the underworld, as it usually happens in northern-European folklore, and not unusually in Greece.

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) is 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.

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. The temple of Eanna, meaning “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 celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

Through the twentieth century, scholars generally believed that a form of sacred marriage rite or hieros gamos was staged between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare, but no certain evidence has survived to prove that sexual intercourse was included. 

While there may well have been some religious prostitution in the temples, it has now been suggested that the concept has been misunderstood. It was previously believed to have been a custom whereby the king coupled with the high priestess to represent the union of Dumuzid with Inanna.

It is much more likely that these unions never occurred but were embellishments to the image of the king; hymns which praise Middle Eastern kings for coupling with the goddess Inanna often speak of him as running 320 kilometres, offering sacrifices, feasting with the sun-god Utu, and receiving a royal crown from An, all in a single day.

One scholar comments: “No one, to the best of my knowledge, has been so wooden-minded to propose that human actors played the role of Utu and An at the banquet.” Not all authors are convinced, however. Other modern historians argue that the temple did house priestesses of the goddess, but there is no evidence that they performed any kind of sexual services in any cult.

Puruli (EZEN Puruliyas) was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur₁₀.ku₅, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was 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.

According to the noted Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer, kings in the ancient Near Eastern region of Sumer established their legitimacy by taking part in a ritual sexual act in the temple of the fertility goddess Ishtar every year on the tenth day of the New Year festival Akitu.

In the Sumerian epic poem of “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld” Inanna descends into the Underworld, apparently seeking to extend her powers there. Inanna is struck dead and her dead corpse is hung on a hook in the Underworld for everyone to see. It is demanded that Inanna in order to be free have to find someone to take her place in the underworld. When Inanna discovers that her husband Dumuzid has not mourned her death she becomes ireful towards him and orders the demons to take Dumuzid as her replacement.

Inanna later regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna, the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons. The Sumerians believed that, while Geshtinanna was in Heaven and Dumuzid in Kur, the earth became dry and barren, thus causing the season of summer.

The cult of Dumuzid was later spread to the Levant and to Greece, where he became known under the West Semitic name Adonis. Adonis’s name was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”which is related to Adonai, one of the titles used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day.

Modern scholars consider the story of Aphrodite and Adonis to be derived from the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Inanna (Ishtar) and Dumuzid (Tammuz). Syrian Adonis is Gaus. or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are associated with vegetation.

In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat, who in the religion of ancient Babylon is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

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.

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”. She possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

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.

White horses

White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility (in both mare and stallion manifestations), or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well. Both truly white horses and the more common grey horses, with completely white hair coats, were identified as “white” by various religious and cultural traditions.

From earliest times, white horses have been mythologised as possessing exceptional properties, transcending the normal world by having wings (e.g. Pegasus from Greek mythology), or having horns (the unicorn). As part of its legendary dimension, the white horse in myth may be depicted with seven heads (Uchaishravas) or eight feet (Sleipnir), sometimes in groups or singly. There are also white horses which are divinatory, who prophesy or warn of danger.

As a rare or distinguished symbol, a white horse typically bears the hero- or god-figure in ceremonial roles or in triumph over negative forces. Herodotus reported that white horses were held as sacred animals in the Achaemenid court of Xerxes the Great (ruled 486–465 BC), while in other traditions the reverse happens when it was sacrificed to the gods.

In more than one tradition, the white horse carries patron saints or the world saviour in the end times (as in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam), is associated with the sun or sun chariot (Ossetia) or bursts into existence in a fantastic way, emerging from the sea or a lightning bolt. Though some mythologies are stories from earliest beliefs, other tales, though visionary or metaphorical, are found in liturgical sources as part of preserved, on-going traditions.

In Norse mythology, Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir, “the best horse among gods and men”, is described as grey. Loki having turned himself into a mare and given birth to Sleipnir, “the greatest of all horses” bears some resemblance to the Greek mythology reference to the birth of Arion or Areion, the divinely-bred, extremely swift immortal horse foaled by Demeter while she was “in the likeness of a Fury”.

Sleipnir is also the ancestor of another grey horse, Grani, who is owned by the hero Sigurd. Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) or Siegfried (Middle High German: Sîvrit) is a legendary hero of Germanic mythology, who killed a dragon and was later murdered.

In Norse mythology, Gulltoppr (Old Norse “golden mane”) is one of the horses of the gods. Gulltoppr is mentioned in a list of horses in the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál and in Nafnaþulur section of the Prose Edda. According to Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, he is the horse of Heimdallr. However, Rudolf Simek theorizes that Snorri assigned a horse to Heimdallr in an attempt to systematize the mythology.

Christians adopted the image of the Sun (Helios or Sol Invictus) to represent Christ. In this portrayal he is a beardless figure with a flowing cloak in a chariot drawn by four white horses, as in the mosaic in Mausoleum M discovered under Saint Peter’s Basilica and in an early-4th-century catacomb fresco. Clement of Alexandria had spoken of Christ driving his chariot in this way across the sky.

Two Christian saints are associated with white steeds: Saint James, as patron saint of Spain, rides a white horse in his martial aspect. Saint George, the patron saint of horsemen among other things, also rides a white horse. In Ossetia, the deity Uastyrdzhi, who embodied both the warrior and sun motifs often associated with white horses, became identified with the figure of St. George after the region adopted Christianity.


The Upper and Lower White Horse Stones are names given to two sarsen megaliths on Blue Bell Hill near Aylesford in the English county of Kent. They are generally considered to be fragmentary examples of the Neolithic chamber tomb group known as the Medway megaliths. The stones are said to be a monument to Horsa, one of the leaders of the Saxon conquest of Britain, who was killed at the Battle of Aylesford.

The white horse of Kent or the white horse rampant is a symbol of Kent, a county in south-east England. The figure of the prancing (or rampant in heraldry) white horse can also be referred to as Invicta, which is the motto of Kent. The white horse of Kent is the old symbol for the Jutish Kingdom of Kent, dating from the 6th–8th century. The white horse relates to the emblem of Horsa, the brother of Hengest, who according to legend defeated the King Vortigern near Aylesford.

Hengist and Horsa, the mythical ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons, were associated with horses, and references to horses are found throughout Anglo-Saxon literature. Hengist and Horsa are legendary brothers said to have led the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in their invasion of Britain in the 5th century. Tradition lists Hengist as the first of the Jutish kings of Kent. A figure named Hengest, who may be identifiable with the leader of British legend, appears in the Finnsburg Fragment and in Beowulf.

According to early sources, Hengist and Horsa arrived in Britain at Ebbsfleet on the Isle of Thanet. For a time, they served as mercenaries for Vortigern, King of the Britons, but later they turned against him (British accounts have them betraying him in the Treachery of the Long Knives). Horsa was killed fighting the Britons, but Hengist successfully conquered Kent, becoming the forefather of its kings.

Legends of horse-associated founding brothers are attested among other Germanic peoples and appear in other Indo-European cultures. As a result, scholars have theorized a pan-Germanic mythological origin for Hengist and Horsa, stemming originally from divine twins found in Proto-Indo-European religion.


In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.

Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish, who was the early patron of Sargon (Sharru-kin = “legitimate king”, possibly a title he took on gaining power) of Akkad, and Zababa-shuma-iddin, a 1200 BC Kassite king of Babylon.

Originally a cupbearer to a king of Kish with a Semitic name, Ur-Zababa, Sargon thus became a gardener, responsible for the task of clearing out irrigation canals. This gave him access to a disciplined corps of workers, who also may have served as his first soldiers.

Displacing Ur-Zababa, Sargon was crowned king, and he entered upon a career of foreign conquest. Four times he invaded Syria and Canaan, and he spent three years thoroughly subduing the countries of “the west” to unite them with Mesopotamia “into a single empire.”

Sargon, throughout his long life, showed special deference to the Sumerian deities, particularly Inanna (Ishtar), his patroness, and Zababa, the warrior god of Kish. He called himself “The anointed priest of Anu” and “the great ensi of Enlil” and his daughter, Enheduanna, was installed as priestess to Nanna at the temple in Ur.

According to the King list, Ur-Zababa was a son of King Puzur-Suen. His mother is unknown. His grandmother was the famous Queen Kugbau, who was later deified as the goddess Kheba. Ḫepat, also transcribed, Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubau, as “king”. An inn keeper before claiming the throne, Ku-Bau was, ‘she who made firm the foundations of Kish [and] ruled for a hundred years as “king”‘. She was the only known female king to rule in Sumerian history.

Kug-Bau is later worshipped as a minor god, and is given the name Kybele (more readily known as Cybele). The king list states, ‘Then Kish is defeated and the kingship is carried to Akshak’. However, following a brief period at the north-eastern city state of Akshak, Kish reclaimed the kingship.

Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list. In some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty.

Akshak was a city of ancient Sumer, situated on the northern boundary of Akkad, sometimes identified with Babylonian Upi (Greek Opis), an ancient Babylonian city near the Tigris, not far from modern Baghdad, intervening. Classical writers located it where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are closest together and it was mentioned along with Kish in early records.

Akshak first appears in records of ca. 2500 BC. In the Sumerian text Dumuzid’s dream, Dumuzid king of Uruk is said to have been toppled from his opulence by a hungry mob composed of men from the major cities of Sumer, including Akshak.

Puzur-Nirah is also mentioned in the Weidner Chronicle as reigning in Akshak when a female tavern-keeper, Kug-bau of Kish, was appointed overlordship over Sumer.

Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (2334–2279 BC), who would later declare himself the king of Kish, as an attempt to signify his connection to the religiously important area.

Sargon, who came from the area nearby Kish, called Azupiranu, became the founder of the Akkadian Empire, the first ancient Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia, centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region, also called Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia.


Kish was occupied from the Jemdet Nasr period (c. 3100 BC), gaining prominence as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region during the early dynastic period. The first set of entries on the Sumerian king list mention 23 kings that reigned in a period known as the first dynasty of Kish, also known as the First Kingship (of Sumer, after the flood), that lasted between c 2900-2600 BC.

The Sumerian king list and excavations in Iraq show evidence of a flood at Shuruppak somewhere between 2900-2750 BC, which extends as far as Kish, whose king, Etana, supposedly founds the first Sumerian dynasty after the flood: ‘after the Flood, the kingship was handed down from Heaven a second time, this time to the city of Kish which became the seat of kingship.’

Ziusudra (“life of long days”; Greek: Xisuthros) of Shuruppak (c. 2900 BC) is one of several mythic characters that are protagonists of near-eastern Flood myths, including Atrahasis, Utnapishtim and the biblical Noah – although each story has distinctive elements, many key story elements are common to two, three, or four versions.

Ziusudra is listed in the Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the a great flood. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian creation myth, and is also known as the Hellenized ‘Xisuthros’ from the later writings of Berossus.

The significance of Ziusudra’s name appearing on the king list is that it links the flood mentioned in the three surviving Babylonian deluge epics of Ziusudra (Eridu Genesis), Utnapishtim (Epic of Gilgamesh), and Atrahasis (Epic of Atra-Hasis) to river flood sediments in Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish et al. that have been radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC.

This has led some scholars to conclude that the flood hero was king of Shuruppak at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000–2900) which ended with the river flood of 2900 BC. Ziusudra being a king from Shuruppak is supported by the Gilgamesh XI tablet making reference to Utnapishtim (Akkadian translation of the Sumerian name Ziusudra) with the epithet “man of Shuruppak”.

The Mesopotamian flood stories concern the epics of Ziusudra, Gilgamesh, and Atrahasis. The Sumerian King List relies on the flood motif to divide its history into preflood (antediluvian) and postflood periods. The preflood kings had enormous lifespans, whereas postflood lifespans were much reduced.

The Sumerian flood myth found in the Deluge tablet was the epic of Ziusudra, who heard the gods’ plan to destroy humanity, in response to which he constructed a vessel that delivered him from great waters. In the Atrahasis version, the flood is a river flood.

The occupation of the site at Kish began in the Jemdet Nasr Period (3200-2900 BC), but this was ended by the archaeologically-attested flood of between 2900-2800BC in Sumer, which left deposits in Kish. However, it is possible that the city was less badly affected than Shuruppak, as Kish quickly assumed the kingship. It flourished in the full blooming of Sumerian civilisation in the Early Dynastic Period.

The city was of major importance in the early third millennium BC (the Early Dynastic II Period of the 2600 BC), possibly because this was where the two rivers approached, and whoever controlled Kish ultimately controlled the irrigation systems of the other cities downstream. Just as with Nippur to the south, control of Kish was a prime element in legitimizing dominance over the north of Mesopotamia (Assyria, Subartu).

The earliest names are semi-legendary, but were probably based on real ante-diluvian rulers. About half of them have Semitic names, meaning that Semites were at least established in the northern part of Mesopotamia by this ancient date and that not all interaction between the two groups was hostile.

Kish declined in importance later, remaining in occupation until the Sassanian period. However, although its military and economic power was diminished, Kish retained a strong political and symbolic significance. Because of the city’s symbolic value, strong rulers later claimed the traditional title “King of Kish”, even if they were from Akkad, Ur, Assyria, Isin, Larsa or Babylon. The Old Akkadian rulers transformed the title King of Kish into the title šar kiššati “king of all,” “king of the universe.”

Certainly in later times, and quite possible from the very earliest times, whichever king controlled the city of Kish was recognised as šar kiššati (king of Kish), and was considered pre-eminent in Sumer. Many rulers from other cities who achieved dominance in Sumer also claimed the title for themselves.

The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge, beginning with Jushur. Jushur’s successor is called Kullassina-bel, but this is actually a sentence in Akkadian meaning “All of them were lord”.

Thus, some scholars have suggested that this may have been intended to signify the absence of a central authority in Kish for a time. The names of the next nine kings of Kish preceding Etana are all Akkadian words for animals, e.g. Zuqaqip “scorpion”.

The East Semitic nature of these and other early names associated with Kish reveals that its population had a strong Semitic (Akkadian speaking) component from the dawn of recorded history, Ignace Gelb identified Kish as the center of the earliest East Semitic culture which he calls the Kish civilization.

The twelfth king of Kish appearing on the Sumerian king list, Etana, is noted as “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries”. Although his reign has yet to be archaeologically attested, his name is found in later legendary tablets, and Etana is sometimes regarded as the first king and founder of Kish.

The twenty-first king of Kish on the list, Enmebaragesi (c. 2500 BC), who is said to have subdued and captured the weapons of Elam, is the first name confirmed by archaeological finds from his reign. Enmebaragesi is also known through other literary references, in which he and his son Aga of Kish, listed on the Sumerian King List as the last king in the first Dynasty of Kish, portrayed as contemporary rivals of Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, early rulers of Uruk.

Dumuzid, called “the Fisherman”, originally from Kuara in Sumer, was the 3rd king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor, according to the Sumerian king list. The king list states that he singlehandedly captured Enmebaragesi, ruler of Kish, and it claims he ruled in Uruk for 100 years — far fewer than the 1200 years it ascribes his predecessor, Lugalbanda (“young/fierce king”) the Shepherd. His given name means “faithful child” in Sumerian.

Aga is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh as having besieged Uruk. He appears also in the earlier Sumerian text of Bilgames and Akka, where he is referred to as Akka. The Gilgamesh epic, the Sumerian king list, and the Tummal Chronicle all call him the son of En-me-barage-si, a king who has been verified through archaeological inscription, leading to theories that Gilgamesh was also historical.

Enmebaragesi is the earliest ruler on the king list whose name is attested directly from archaeology. There are in all at least four surviving fragments bearing the abbreviated form Mebarag(e)si, describing him as the lugal of Kish. Two alabaster vase fragments inscribed with his name were found at Nippur where, according to the Sumerian Tummal Chronicle, he is said to have built the first temple.

The king list states that he reigned 900 years, and was captured single-handedly by Dumuzid “the fisherman” of Kuara, predecessor of Gilgamesh. He is also mentioned in a section of the original Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Bilgamesh and Aga, as the father of the Aga who laid siege to Uruk.

There may have been some confusion in the early Sumerian compositions between this figure and that of “Dumuzid the Shepherd”, whom they call the king of Uruk, and who appears as a deity (Tammuz) in later works.

However, the Sumerian king list says that Dumuzid the Shepherd had ruled before the flood, and locates him in Bad-tibira (“Wall of the Copper Workers” or “Fortress of the Smiths”), identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah and Tell as-Senkereh (ancient Larsa) in southern Iraq.

Bad-tibira was an ancient Sumerian city, which appears among antediluvian cities in the Sumerian King List. According to the Sumerian King List, Bad-tibira was the second city to “exercise kingship” in Sumer before the flood, following Eridu. These kings were said to be En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana and Dumuzid the Shepherd.

The early Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld mentions the city’s temple, E-mush-kalamma. In this tale, Inanna dissuades demons from the netherworld from taking Lulal, patron of Bad-tibira, who was living in squalor.

They eventually take Dumuzid, who lived in palatial opulence at Uruk. This Dumuzid is called “the Shepherd”, who on the King List resides at Bad-Tibira in contrast to the post-diluvian Dumuzid, the Fisherman, who reigns in Uruk.

The “brotherhood text” in cuneiform inscriptions on cones plundered from the site in the 1930s records the friendship pact of Entemena, governor of Lagash, and Lugal-kinishedudu, governor of Uruk. It identifies Entemena as the builder of the temple E-mush to Inanna and Dumuzid, under his local epithet Lugal-E-mush.

The Sumerian king list and the Tummal Chronicle concur with the Epic of Gilgamesh in making him the father of Aga, who was the final king of the 1st dynasty of Kish. Thus the fragments verifying Enmebaragesi’s historicity enhance the notion that Gilgamesh is also historical.

Kish continued to be occupied through the pre-Babylonian, old Babylonian, Kassite, and Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian periods, and into classical Seleucid times, before being abandoned.


Lugalbanda is listed in the postdiluvian period of the Sumerian king list as the second king of Uruk, saying he ruled for 1,200 years, and providing him with the epithet of the Shepherd. Whether a king Lugalbanda ever historically ruled over Uruk, and if so, at what time, is quite uncertain.

Lugalbanda prominently features as the hero of two Sumerian stories dated to the Ur III period (21st century BCE), called by scholars Lugalbanda I (or Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave) and Lugalbanda II (or Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird). Together they are forming two parts of one story. Both are known only in later versions, although there is an Ur III fragment that is quite different than either 18th century version.

It is one of the four known stories that belong to the same cycle describing conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and Ensuhkeshdanna of Aratta presumably in the Armenian or Iranian highlands.  The stories, from the composer’s point of view, take place in the distant past.

In these two stories, Lugalbanda is a soldier in the army of Enmerkar, whose name also appears in the Sumerian King List as the first king of Uruk and predecessor of Lugalbanda. The extant fragments make no reference to Lugalbanda’s succession as king following Enmerkar.

Lugalbanda appears in Sumerian literary sources as early as the mid-3rd millennium, as attested by a mythological text from Abu Salabikh that describes a romantic relationship between Lugalbanda and Ninsun. A deified Lugalbanda often appears as the husband of the goddess Ninsun. In the earliest god-lists from Fara, his name appears separate and in a much lower ranking than Ninsun, but in later traditions, until the Seleucid period, his name is often listed in god-lists along with his consort Ninsun.

Ample evidence for the worship of Lugalbanda as a deity comes from the Ur III period, as attested in tablets from Nippur, Ur, Umma and Puzrish-Dagan. In Old Babylonian period, Sin-kashid of Uruk is known to have built a temple called É-KI.KAL dedicated to Lugalbanda and Ninsun, and to have assigned his daughter Niši-īnī-šu as the eresh-dingir priestess of Lugalbanda.

In royal hymns of the Ur III period, Ur-Nammu of Ur and his son Shulgi describe Lugalbanda and Ninsun as their holy parents, and in the same context call themselves the brother of Gilgamesh. Sin-Kashid of Uruk also refers to Lugalbanda and Ninsun as his divine parents, and names Lugalbanda as his god. In the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh and in earlier Sumerian stories about the hero, the king of Uruk, Gilgamesh, calls himself the son of Lugalbanda and Ninsun.

In the Gilgamesh and Huwawa tale, the hero consistently uses the assertive phrase: “By the life of my own mother Ninsun and of my father, holy Lugalbanda!”. In Akkadian versions of the epic, Gilgamesh also refers to Lugalbanda as his personal god, and in one episode presents the oil filled horns of the defeated Bull of Heaven “for the anointing of his god Lugalbanda”.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalbanda. 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. 


Ninsun or Ninsumun (“lady of the wild cows”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras. Ninsun has also been linked to older deities as she is believed to be their reincarnation. Other names include Rimat-Ninsun (from Akkadian rimātu “cattle”), the “August Cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth. She assists her son in his adventure by providing him with the meanings of his dream in the beginning. Also in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is summoned by Gilgamesh and Enkidu to help pray to the god Utu to help the two on their journey to the Country of the Living to battle Humbaba.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun was originally called Gula until her name was later changed to Ninisina. Later, Gula became a Babylonian goddess. According to “Pabilsag’s Journey to Nibru,” Ninsun was originally named Nininsina.

According to the ancient Babylonian text, Nininsina wedded Pabilsag near a riverbank and gave birth to Damu, a god of vegetation and rebirth in Sumerian mythology, as a result of the union. Damu is an aspect of Dumuzi/Tammuz due to his regenerative. The cult of Damu influenced and later blended with the similar cult of Tammuz the Shepherd.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. Later as Gula and in medical incantations, Bēlet or Balāti, also as the Azugallatu the “great healer”,same as her son Damu.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

Her epithets are “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, a “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative power. She was the daughter of An and a wife of Ninurta.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease. She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions.

She had sometimes violent nature as the “queen whose ‘tempest’, like a raging storm, makes heaven tremble, makes earth quake”. She appears in a prominent position on the designs accompanying the Kudurrus boundary-stone monuments of Babylonia, being represented by a portrait, when other gods and goddesses are merely pictured by their shrines, by sacred animals or by weapons.  Potnia Theron (“The Mistress of the Animals”) is a term often used to describe female divinities associated with animals.


Robert Graves considered Tiamat’s death by Marduk as evidence for his hypothesis of an ancient shift in power from a matriarchal society to a patriarchy. Grave’s ideas were later developed into the Great Goddess theory by Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone etc.

The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were presented as former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that were turned into monsters when violent. Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the manner in which male-dominated religions overthrew ancient society.

Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god’s origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace.

The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern-day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies “lover of horses”.

Possible early conflict between Sabazios and his followers and the indigenous mother goddess of Phrygia (Cybele) may be reflected in Homer’s brief reference to the youthful feats of Priam, who aided the Phrygians in their battles with Amazons.

An aspect of the compromise religious settlement, similar to the other such mythic adjustments throughout Aegean culture, can be read in the later Phrygian King Gordias’ adoption “with Cybele” of Midas.

One of the native religion’s creatures was the Lunar Bull. Sabazios’ relations with the goddess may be surmised in the way that his horse places a hoof on the head of the bull, in a Roman marble relief at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though Roman in date, the iconic image appears to be much earlier.

Under the Roman Emperor Gordian III the god on horseback appears on coins minted at Tlos, in neighboring Lycia, and at Istrus, in the province of Lower Moesia, between Thrace and the Danube. It is generally thought that the young emperor’s grandfather came from an Anatolian family, because of his unusual cognomen, Gordianus.

The iconic image of the god or hero on horseback battling the chthonic serpent, on which his horse tramples, appears on Celtic votive columns, and with the coming of Christianity it was easily transformed into the image of Saint George and the Dragon, whose earliest known depictions are from tenth- and eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia and Armenia.

Among Roman inscriptions from Nicopolis ad Istrum, Sabazios is generally equated with Jove and mentioned alongside Mercury. Similarly in Hellenistic monuments, Sabazios is either explicitly (via inscriptions) or implicitly (via iconography) associated with Zeus.

On a marble slab from Philippopolis, Sabazios is depicted as a curly-haired and bearded central deity among several gods and goddesses. Under his left foot is a ram’s head, and he holds in his left hand a sceptre tipped with a hand in the benedictio latina gesture.

Sabazios is accompanied by busts on his right depicting Luna, Pan, and Mercury, and on his left by Sol, Fortuna, and Daphne. According to Macrobius, Liber and Helios were worshipped among the Thracians as Sabazios; this description fits other Classical accounts that identify Sabazios with Dionysos.

Sabazios is also associated with a number of archeological finds depicting a bronze, right hand in the benedictio latina gesture. The hand appears to have had ritual significance and may have been affixed to a sceptre (as the one carried by Sabazios on the Philippopolis slab).

Although there are many variations, the hand of Sabazios is typically depicted with a pinecone on the thumb and with a serpent or pair of serpents encircling the wrist and surmounting the bent ring and pinky fingers.

Additional symbols occasionally included on the hands of Sabazios include a lightning bolt over the index and middle fingers, a turtle and lizard on the back of the hand, an eagle, a ram, a leafless branch, the thyrsos, and the Mounted Heros.

The ecstatic Eastern rites practiced largely by women in Athens were thrown together for rhetorical purposes by Demosthenes in undermining his opponent Aeschines for participating in his mother’s cultic associations:

On attaining manhood you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings … You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head, crying Euoi saboiand hues attes, attes hues.

Transference of Sabazios to the Roman world appears to have been mediated in large part through Pergamum. The naturally syncretic approach of Greek religion blurred distinctions. Later Greek writers, like Strabo in the first century CE, linked Sabazios with Zagreus, among Phrygian ministers and attendants of the sacred rites of Rhea and Dionysos.

Strabo’s Sicilian contemporary, Diodorus Siculus, conflated Sabazios with the secret ‘second’ Dionysus, born of Zeus and Persephone, a connection that is not borne out by surviving inscriptions, which are entirely to Zeus Sabazios.

The Christian Clement of Alexandria had been informed that the secret mysteries of Sabazius, as practiced among the Romans, involved a serpent, a chthonic creature unconnected with the mounted skygod of Phrygia: “‘God in the bosom’ is a countersign of the mysteries of Sabazius to the adepts”. Clement reports: “This is a snake, passed through the bosom of the initiates”.

Much later, the Byzantine Greek encyclopedia, Suda (10th century?), flatly states: Sabazios … is the same as Dionysos. He acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry “sabazein”.

Hence some of the Greeks too follow suit and call the cry “sabasmos”; thereby Dionysos [becomes] Sabazios. They also used to call “saboi” those places that had been dedicated to him and his Bacchantes … Demosthenes [in the speech] “On Behalf of Ktesiphon” [mentions them].

Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi.

In Roman sites, though an inscription built into the wall of the abbey church of San Venanzio at Ceperana suggested to a Renaissance humanist it had been built upon the foundations of a temple to Jupiter Sabazius, according to modern scholars not a single temple consecrated to Sabazius, the rider god of the open air, has been located.

Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of Sabazios. Many of these hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. The symbolism of these objects is not well known.

The first Jews who settled in Rome were expelled in 139 BCE, along with Chaldaean astrologers by Cornelius Hispalus under a law which proscribed the propagation of the “corrupting” cult of “Jupiter Sabazius”, according to the epitome of a lost book of Valerius Maximus:

Gnaeus Cornelius Hispalus, praetor peregrinus in the year of the consulate of Marcus Popilius Laenas and Lucius Calpurnius, ordered the astrologers by an edict to leave Rome and Italy within ten days, since by a fallacious interpretation of the stars they perturbed fickle and silly minds, thereby making profit out of their lies.

The same praetor compelled the Jews, who attempted to infect the Roman custom with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their homes. By this it is conjectured that the Romans identified the Jewish YHVH Tzevaot (“sa-ba-oth”, “of the Hosts”) as Jove Sabazius.

This mistaken connection of Sabazios and Sabaos has often been repeated. In a similar vein, Plutarch maintained that the Jews worshipped Dionysus, and that the day of Sabbath was a festival of Sabazius.

Plutarch also discusses the identification of the Jewish God with the “Egyptian” Typhon, an identification which he later rejects, however. The monotheistic Hypsistarians worshipped the Most High under this name, which may have been a form of the Jewish God.

The hunting god

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god Wurunkatte, their god of war. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

The god of hunting appears frequently on Hittite monuments; he holds a bird and a hare, as on the Kültepe seals, and he stands on a stag, his sacred animal. From descriptions of the statues it appears that this is the deity denoted in the texts by the logogram KAL, to be read Kurunda or Tuwata, later Ruwata, Runda.

The war god also appears, though his Hittite name is concealed behind the logogram ZABABA, the name of the Mesopotamian war god. His Hattian name was Wurunkatti, his Hurrian counterpart Hesui. His Hattian name meant “king of the land.”

Kurunta (LAMMA) is a Hittite god, of which Luwian origin is assumed. He belongs to the guardian deities. He is the Hittite god of wild animals and hunting. He is the Master of Animalds just as Inara is the Potnia Theron. Kurunta’s Insignia was the deer. He was therefore portrayed as a man standing on a deer.

The representation as a hunter or as a deer was possible. Kurunta is also referred to as deer god because he is written with the hieroglyphic symbol for deer. He is also considered the “patron god of the field”.

The name Kurunta is derived from the proto-Indo-European word * kerh with the translation horn, from which also Cernunnos, 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, derives.

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. 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. Under the name variant “Rundas” he is named as “hunting and luck God of the Hittites”, with double eagle as emblem, “which beats with his claws ever a hare”. The goddess Ala was considered a companion of Kurunta. Rundas is the Hittie god of the hunt and of good fortune. His emblem is a double eagle with a hare in each talon.

The relationship between Kurunta and the Luwian god Runtiya is unclear. Part of the researchers assumes identity of the two gods and considers * Kruntiya as the older Luwische name form, which was adopted by the Hittites as Kurunta. According to others, the Hittite Kurunta and the Luwian Runtiya have evolved from an old Anatolic deity.

He became king of gods according to Hurrian-Hittite myth, after he had thrown Tarhun down from the sky. The rebellious god forces humanity against the gods and even does not care about the powerful gods. Since the gods continue to demand their sacrifices but do not get them, Enki and Kumarbi join forces against Kurunta.

With help of Nara-Napsara, the brother of Enki from the underworld, they release all animals and the mountain god Nasalma against Kurunta, who is killed by Tarhun and Ninurta, whereupon he accepts Tarḫuna’s rule.

Runtiya was the Luwian god of the hunt, who had a close connection with deer. He was among the most important gods of the Luwians. The name was written in the Luwian cuneiform of the Bronze Age LAMMA, which can be read as *Runtiya or *Kruntiya. In Hieroglyphic Luwian of the Iron Age, he was named “Runtiya” and his name was generally written with the image of a deer or antlers, as (DEUS) CERVUS (“God deer”).

The relationship between Runtiya and the Kurunta is disputed. Some scholars argue that the two gods are identical and reconstruct an older Luwian form of the name, *Krunti(ya)-; others suggest that there was a pre-Indo-European Anatolian divinity which the Luwian Runtiya and the Hittite Kurunta had developed.

During the Bronze Age, he was the treated as a protective deity, the son of the Sun god Tiwaz and the goddess Kamrušepa. His partner was “Lady Ala.” The pair were enovked along with various mountains and rivers.

Runtiya’s epithet šarlaimi (“raised”) was also the name of a mountain god. In the Neo-Hittie period, Runtiya and Ala-Kubaba shared a sanctuary at Ancoz. Kubaba appears enthroned, the throne resting on a lion. Runda (the Hittite Kurunda or KAL) is regularly symbolized by a stag’s head or antler.

Runtiya was closely linked with the deer and his Iron Age epithets Imralli and Imrassi (“The meadow”) indicate his connection to hunting. Divinities are also known from the Bronze Age which were referred to with the Luwian word im(ma)ra- (“field, meadow”) and are likely to be linked to this aspect of Runtiya.

Runtiya was closely linked with the deer and his Iron Age epithets Imralli and Imrassi (“The meadow”) indicate his connection to hunting. According to Iron Age evidence, he received sacrifices of gazelles and rewarded the worshipper for this with success in the hunt.

Divinities are also known from the Bronze Age which were referred to with the Luwian word im(ma)ra- (“field, meadow”) and are likely to be linked to this aspect of Runtiya. Thus, in the cult of the Hittitecity of Ḫubišna, the divinity dImralli was named immediately before dLAMMA šarlaimi and in the cult of Ištanuwa, dImmaršia is listed immediately after the “Great Protective God” (dLAMMA GAL).

Another relevant Luwian deity was dImmarni. The Carian god Imbramos or Imbrasos which Stephanus of Byzantium identified with Hermes, probably belongs to this group of deities as well. It is generally agreed that Runtiya lived on in the cult of Hermes at Korykos in Rough Cilica, especially sine the lists of priests of the sanctuary in the nearby grottos of Cennet and Cehennem frequently include Ro(nd)- as part of their personal names.

According to a Hittite description of a statuette of the Protective God, he was depicted as a man standing on a deer, with a bow in his right hand and eagle and hares in his left hand. Iron Age depictions of Runtiya, like the Karasu relief show him as a beardless god standing on a deer, with a peaked cap and a bow over his shoulder.


In the Luwian-Phoenician Karatepe Bilingual Runtiya is identified with Resheph (ršp ṣprm “Rašap of the he-goats” or “Rašap of the birds”). Resheph (Egyptian ršpw) was a deity associated with plague (or a personification of plague) in ancient Canaanite religion. In Biblical Hebrew resheph is a noun interpreted as “flame, lightning” but also “burning fever, plague, pestilence”. In Biblical Hebrew, resheph means “flame, firebolt”, derived from “to burn”.

The name is found in the third millennium tablets from Ebla, as Rašap. These have been variously interpreted as associating Resheph with the shield and protection, or the city Gunu, or gardens, or the cemetery. Resheph is mentioned in Ugaritic mythological texts such as the epic of Kirta and The Mare and Horon.

References to ršp gn have been found at Ebla and Ugarit. Ršp was an important Ugaritic deity. He had the byname of tġr špš “door-warden of the Sun”. Rasap was also one of the chief gods of the city of Ebla having one of the four city gates named in his honor. Sacrifices to Ršp (ršp gn) were performed in gardens. In Phoenician inscriptions he is called rshp gn ‘Resheph of the Garden’ and b`l chtz ‘lord of the arrow’.

Ugaritic Ršp was equated with Mesopotamian Nergal, and it has been argued for an interpretatio graeca of Ršp with Apollo in Idalium. It has been argued that ršp in the later Canaanite period no longer referred to a specific god and could be used as a byname, as in Rešep-Mikal at Kition. Based on an epithet ḥṣ in Kition (interpreted as “arrow”) Ršp has been identified as a plague god who strikes his victims with arrows as Homeric Apollo.

Reshepis the god of war, military and plague. He was associated with the Babylonian death god Nergal and ocassionally with Mars (again because of the military connection). In Egypt, Reshep was considered a god of war and pestilence. As such, Reshep was associated with Montu, Egypt’s native god of war.

The originally Eblaite and Canaanite deity was adopted into ancient Egyptian religion in the late Bronze Age under Amenhotep II during the 18th Dynasty of  the New Kingdom (late 15th century BC) as a god of horses and chariots. Reshep was also a protector of royalty. A stela erected near the Great Sphinx at Giza by Pharoah Amenhotep II shows Reshep rejoicing at the then-Crown Prince’s diligence in looking after his horses.

Reshep was depicted as a man with a Syrian style beard brandishing a mace or axe above his head. He generally wears the crown of Upper Egypt with the addition of a gazelle skull at the front and a ribbon at the back.

Originally a god of Syria, Reshep had became a triad with the two other gods, his wife Qadesh, the imported Semetic goddess of love, and their child, Min. Qadesh was a fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure adopted during the late Bronze Age from the religion of Canaan into the ancient Egyptian religion during its New Kingdom. The name was probably vocalized by Egyptians as, *Qātiša, from the Semitic root Q-D-Š meaning ‘holy’. Her city of worship was Qadesh in present day Syria.

On stele representing the deity, Qetesh is represented as a frontal nude standing on a lion, often between Min of Egypt and the Canaanite warrior god Resheph. She holds a snake in one hand and a bouquet lotus flowers in the other as symbols of creation. She is associated with Anat, Astarte, and Asherah. She also has elements associated with the goddesses of Mycenae, the Minoan goddesses of Crete, and certain Kassite goddesses of the metals trade in tin, copper, and bronze between Lothal and Dilmun.

Among the epithets used for this deity, Qetesh is called “Mistress of All the Gods”, “Lady of the Stars of Heaven”, “Beloved of Ptah”, “Great of magic, mistress of the stars”, and “Eye of Ra, without her equal”.

Min (Egyptian mnw) is an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in the predynastic period (4th millennium BCE). He was represented in many different forms, but was most often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

Min’s cult began and was centered around Coptos (Koptos) and Akhmim (Panopolis) of upper Egypt, where in his honour great festivals were held celebrating his “coming forth” with a public procession and presentation of offerings.

His other associations include the eastern desert and links to the god Horus. His importance grew in the Middle Kingdom when he became even more closely linked with Horus as the deity Min-Horus. The planet Mars was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.

By the New Kingdom Min was also fused with Amun in the form of Min-Amun, who was also the serpent Irta, a kamutef (the “bull of his mother” – aka father of his own mother as well as her son). Min as an independent deity was also a kamutef of Isis. One of Isis’s many places of cult throughout the valley was at Min’s temple in Koptos as his divine wife. Min’s shrine was crowned with a pair of bull horns.

As the central deity of fertility and possibly orgiastic rites Min became identified by the Greeks with the god Pan. One feature of Min worship was the wild prickly lettuce Lactuca virosa and Lactuca serriola of which is the domestic version Lactuca sativa (lettuce) which has aphrodisiac and opiate qualities and produce latex when cut, possibly identified with semen.

Phoenician-Hittite bilinguals refer to him as ‘deer god’ and ‘gazelle god’. However, although the iconography of Resheph shares the gazelle with that of the Egyptian-Canaanite Shed, a deity popularly called “the Savior”, the rest of the attributes are totally different.”

Shed, who has been viewed as a form of the Canaanite god Resheph, was first recorded after the Amarna Period. Representing the concept of salvation, Shed is identified with Horus, particularly Horus the Child.

Rather than have formal worship in a temple or as an official cult, he appears to have been a god that ordinary Egyptians looked to save them from illness, misfortune or danger. He is shown on the Metternich Stela as vanquishing danger in the form of a serpent, a scorpion and a crocodile. Shed can be depicted as a young prince overcoming snakes, lions and crocodiles.

The rise of “Savior” names in personal piety during the Amarna period has been interpreted as the popular response of ordinary people to the attempts by Akhenaten to proscribe the ancient religion of Egypt. Shed has been viewed as a form of savior, a helper for those in need when state authority or the king’s help is wanting.

The increased reliance on divine assistance could even extend to saving a person from the Underworld, even to providing a substitute, and lengthening a person’s time in this world. In the New Kingdom Shed “the savior” is addressed on countless stelae by people searching or praising him for help.


Rudra is a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm and the hunt. One translation of the name is “the roarer”. In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the “mightiest of the mighty”. Rudra is the personification of ‘terror’. Depending up on the poetic situation, Rudra can be meant as the most severe roarer/howler (could be a hurricane or tempest) or the most frightening one. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect. In it Rudra is referred as God of Gods.

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.

The etymology of the theonym Rudra is somewhat uncertain. It is usually derived from the root rud- which means “to cry, howl.” According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as “the roarer”.

A Rigvedic verse rukh draavayathi, iti rudraha where rukh means “sorrow/misery”, draavayathi means “drive out/eliminate” and iti means “that which” (or “the one who”) implies that Rudra is the eliminator of evil and usherer of peace.

An alternative etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra as the “red one”, the “brilliant one” from a lost root rud-, “red” or “ruddy”, or alternatively (according to Grassman) “shining”.

Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means “wild”, i.e. of rude (untamed) nature, and translates the name Rudra as “the wild one” or “the fierce god”.

R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as “the terrible” in his glossary for the Shiva Sahasranama. The adjective shivam in the sense of “propitious” or “kind” is applied to the name Rudra.

Rudra is called “the archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv- which means “to injure” or “to kill” and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”. The names Dhanvin (“bowman”) and Bāṇahasta (“archer”, literally “Armed with a hand-full of arrows”) also refer to archery.

In other contexts the word rudra can simply mean “the number eleven”. The word rudraksha (Sanskrit: rudrākşa = rudra and akşa “eye”), or “eye of Rudra”, is used as a name both for the berry of the Rudraksha tree, and a name for a string of the prayer beads made from those seeds.

Rudra is used both as a name of Shiva and collectively (“the Rudras”) as the name for the Maruts. In Vedic mythology, Rudras are described as loyal companions of Rudra, who later was identified with Shiva.

They are considered as friends, messengers and aspects of Rudra. They are fearful in nature. The Satapatha Brahmana mentions that Rudra is the prince, while Rudras are his subjects. They are considered as attendants of Shiva in later mythology.

Maruts are “storm gods”, associated with the atmosphere. They are a group of gods, whose number varies from two to sixty, sometimes also rendered as eleven, thirty-three or a hundred and eighty in number (i. e. three times sixty).

The Rudras are sometimes referred to as “the sons of Rudra”, whereas Rudra is referred to as “Father of the Maruts”, storm deities and sons of Rudra and Prisni. They are very violent and aggressive, described as armed with golden weapons i.e. lightning and thunderbolts, as having iron teeth and roaring like lions, as residing in the north, as riding in golden chariots drawn by ruddy horses.

Hymn 66 of Mandala VI of the Rig Veda is an eloquent account of how a natural phenomenon of a rain-storm metamorphoses into storm deities. In the Vedic mythology, the Marutas, a troop of young warriors, are Indra’s companions. According to the Rig Veda, the ancient collection of sacred hymns, they wore golden helmets and breastplates, and used their axes to split the clouds so that rain could fall. The clouds were capable of shaking mountains and destroying forests.

The Rig Veda and the Krishna Yajur Veda makes the Rudras the gods of the middle world, situated between earth and heaven i.e. the atmosphere. As wind-gods, the Rudras represent the life-breath. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the eleven Rudras are represented by ten vital energies (rudra-prana) in the body and the eleventh one being the Ātman (the soul).

The Rudras are said to preside over the second stage of creation and the intermediary stage of life. They govern the second ritual of sacrifice, the mid-day offering and the second stage of life – from the 24th to the 68 year of life.

The Chandogya Upanishad prescribes that the Rudras be propitiated in case of sickness in this period and further says that they on departing the body become the cause of tears, the meaning of the name Rudra being the “ones who make cry”. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad explicitly states the fact that since the Rudras leaving the body – causing death – makes people cry, they are Rudras.

The Mahabharata describes the Rudras as companions of Indra, servants of Shiva and his son Skanda and companions of Yama, who is surrounded by them. They have immense power, wear golden necklaces and are “like lighting-illuminated clouds”. The Bhagavata Purana prescribes the worship of the Rudras to gain virile power.

The Thirty-three deities (Sanskrit: trayastriṃśat) is a pantheon of Vedic deities, some of Vedic origin and some developed later. All the Vedic deities are called tri-piṣṭapa, and there are three kinds of them — the Ādityas, the Vasus and the Rudras — beneath whom are the other demigods, like the Maruts and Sādhyas.

Tridasha generally includes a set of 31 deities consisting of 12 Ādityas, 11 Rudras, and 8 Vasus with the identity of the other two deities that fill out the 33 varies. The 33 are: 8 Vasus (deities of material elements), 12 Ādityas (personified deities), 11 Rudras, consisting of: 5 abstractions and 5 names of Śiva and Ātmā, a Sanskrit word that is equated to inner self or soul. Other sources include the two Aśvins (or Nāsatyas), twin solar deities.

Jesus and Mary

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris, and he plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of kingship and the sky.

The worship of Isis was ended by the rise of Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. Her worship may have influenced Christian beliefs and practices such as the veneration of Mary. Christians also may have adapted the iconography of the Egyptian goddess Isis nursing her son Horus and applied it to the Virgin Mary nursing her son Jesus. Some Christians also may have conflated stories about the Egyptian god Osiris with the resurrection of Jesus.

The classicist R. E. Witt saw Isis as the “great forerunner” of Mary. He suggested that converts to Christianity who had formerly worshipped Isis would have seen Mary in much the same terms as their traditional goddess. He pointed out that the two had several spheres of influence in common, such as agriculture and the protection of sailors.

He compared Mary’s title “Mother of God” to Isis’s epithet “mother of the god”, and Mary’s “queen of heaven” to Isis’s “queen of heaven”. Stephen Benko, a historian of early Christianity, argues that devotion to Mary was deeply influenced by the worship of several pagan goddesses, not just Isis.

The planet Mars

The planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. Whether the Greeks equated Nergal with their god of war, Ares, or whether both drew from a more ancient association is unclear.

In the age of Plato, the Greeks called the planet Areos aster, or “star of Ares”. Following the identification of Ares and Mars, it was translated into Latin as stella Martis, or “star of Mars”, or simply Mars. The Hellenistic Greeks also called the planet Pyroeis, meaning “fiery”. Mars in Roman mythology was the God of War and patron of warriors.

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. Also known as Lohit (meaning: red), he is the god of war, celibate and sometimes linked to god Karttikeya (Skanda). The planet is called Angaraka (one who is red in colour) in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.

He is painted red or flame colour, four-armed, carrying a trident, mace, lotus and a spear. His mount is a ram. He presides over Tuesday. Mangala is the root of the word ‘Mangalavara’ or Tuesday in the Hindu calendar. The word “Tuesday” in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also dedicated to planet Mars, referring to “Tīw’s Day”, the day of Tiw or Týr, the god of war and victory. Tiw was equated with Mars in other Indo-European mythologies.

The Hebrews named it Ma’adim (“the one who blushes”). The Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures refer to the planet as the fire star, a name based on the ancient Chinese mythological cycle of Five elements. In ancient China, the advent of Mars was taken as a portent for “bane, grief, war and murder”.

Its symbol, derived from Roman mythology, is a circle with a small arrow pointing out from behind. It is a stylized representation of a shield and spear used by the Roman God Mars. The modern symbol was first found to be written in Byzantine Greek manuscripts dated from the late Middle Ages.

This symbol is also used in biology to describe the male sex, and in alchemy to symbolise the element iron which was considered to be dominated by Mars whose characteristic red colour is coincidentally due to iron oxide.

The white horse of the Apocalypse

The Book of Zechariah twice mentions coloured horses; in the first passage there are three colours (red, dappled, and white), and in the second there are four teams of horses (red, black, white, and finally dappled) pulling chariots.

The second set of horses are referred to as “the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world.” They are described as patrolling the earth and keeping it peaceful.

The main identifying symbols of the white horse in the Bible are the color of the horse, the crown, the bow and the fact that the rider went forth conquering (gaining victories from the start) and ultimately “to conquer” (i.e., to finally triumph over all enemies).

“Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer”, (Revelation 6:1-2).

Based on the above passage, a common translation into English, the rider of the White Horse (sometimes referred to as the White Rider) is generally referred to as “Conquest”. The name could also be construed as “Victory”, as in the translation found in the Jerusalem Bible (the Greek words are derived from the verb νικάω, to conquer or vanquish). He carries a bow, and wears a victor’s crown.

The White Rider has also been called “Pestilence”, and is associated with infectious disease and plague, particularly in popular culture. Another interpretation held by evangelist Billy Graham, casts the rider of the white horse as the Antichrist, or a representation of false prophets, citing differences between the white horse in Revelation chapter 6 and Jesus on the white Horse in Revelation chapter 19.

In Revelation 19, Jesus has many crowns. In Revelation 6, the rider has just one; a crown given, not taken. This indicates a third person giving authority to the rider to accomplish his work. In some commentaries to Bibles, the white Horseman is said to symbolize (ordinary) War, which may possibly be exercised on righteous grounds in decent manner, hence the white color, but still is devastating. The red Horseman then rather more specifically symbolizes Civil War.

Over the centuries the enigmatic “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” have excited and puzzled students of the Bible, causing much debate and controversy over their meaning. Different religious groups have their own interpretation, dependent upon their understanding of scripture; and this has been a continuing phenomenon down through the corridors of time since the apostle John first wrote the visions down.

One horse in particular, the white horse, has been at the center of this controversy. In the New Testament, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse include one seated on a white horse and one on a pale horse – the “white” horse carried the rider Conquest (traditionally, Pestilence) while the “pale” horse carried the rider Death.

However, the Greek word chloros, translated as pale, is often interpreted as sickly green or ashen grey rather than white. Later in the Book of Revelation, Christ rides a white horse out of heaven at the head of the armies of heaven to judge and make war upon the earth. Jesus is pictured as the rider on the white horse, a white horse is a king’s horse.

Jesus comes back a second time as he said he would. A victorious King rode a white horse in the victory or triumphal parade. Jesus rode a donkey, a peaceful symbol, before his death on a cross, but here He rides a horse which is a symbol for war and power.

The second coming of Jesus Christ is the hope of believers that God is in control of all things, and is faithful to the promises and prophecies in His Word. In His first coming, Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, just as prophesied. Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Messiah during His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection.

However, there are some prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus has not yet fulfilled. The second coming of Christ will be the return of Christ to fulfill these remaining prophecies. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King. In His first coming, Jesus arrived in the most humble of circumstances. In His second coming, Jesus will arrive with the armies of heaven at His side.

The Old Testament prophets did not make clearly this distinction between the two comings. This can be seen in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and Zechariah 14:4. As a result of the prophecies seeming to speak of two individuals, many Jewish scholars believed there would be both a suffering Messiah and a conquering Messiah.

What they failed to understand is that there is only one Messiah and He would fulfill both roles. Jesus fulfilled the role of the suffering servant (Isaiah chapter 53) in His first coming. Jesus will fulfill the role of Israel’s deliverer and King in His second coming. Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7, describing the second coming, look back to Jesus being pierced. Israel, and the whole world, will mourn for not having accepted the Messiah the first time He came.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels declared to the apostles, “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:11).

Zechariah 14:4 identifies the location of the second coming as the Mount of Olives. Matthew 24:30 declares, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” Titus 2:13 describes the second coming as a “glorious appearing.”

The second coming is spoken of in greatest detail in Revelation 19:11-16Then I saw heaven standing open, and there was a white horse! Its rider is named Faithful and True. He administers justice and wages war righteously. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many royal crowns. He has a name written on him that nobody knows except himself.

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, follow him on white horses. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter and tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe that covers his thigh he has a name written: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”


In the Puranas, one of the precious objects that emerged while the devas and demons were churning the milky ocean was Uchaishravas, a snow-white horse with seven heads, that at times ridden by Indra, lord of the devas, who is depicted as having a liking for white horses in several legends. Uchchaihshravas is often described as a vahana (“vehicle”) of Surya – the Sun-God, but is also recorded to be the horse of Bali, the king of demons.

The chariot of the solar deity Surya is drawn by seven horses, alternately described as all white, or as the colours of the rainbow, depicting the seven days of the week. Turaga was another divine white horse that emerged out of the ocean and taken by the sun god Surya.

In India, Horse worship in the form of worship of Hayagriva dates back to 2000 BC, when the Indo-Aryan people started to migrate into the Indus valley. The Indo-Aryans worshipped the horse for its speed, strength, and intelligence. To this day, the worship of Hayagriva exists among the followers of Hinduism.

Hayagriva the Avatar of Vishnu is worshipped as the God of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse’s head, brilliant white in colour, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu and final world saviour, is predicted to appear riding a white horse, or in the form of a white horse.

Kanthaka (6th century BC, in Kapilvastu and Tilaurakot, Nepal) was a white horse that was a royal servant and favourite horse of Prince Siddhartha, who later became Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha used Kanthaka in all major events described in Buddhist texts prior to his renunciation of the world. Following the departure of Siddhartha, it was said that Kanthaka died of a broken heart.


In Zoroastrianism, one of the three representations of Tishtrya, a Zoroastrian benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility. Tishtrya is Tir in Middle- and Modern Persian. As has been judged from the archaic context in which Tishtrya appears in the texts of the Avesta, the divinity/concept is almost certainly of Indo-Iranian origin.

In a hymn of the Avesta (incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgement, in the Shahnameh), Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha.  Due to the concept of the yazatas, powers which are “worthy of worship”, Tishtrya is a divinity of rain and fertility and an antagonist of apaosha, the demon of drought.

According to the myth, in the form of a pure white horse the god did battle with the demon who, in contrast, had assumed the form of a terrifying black horse. Apaosa soon gained the upper hand over Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind.

The yazata proceeded to call upon the Creator Ahura Mazda, who himself then intervened by offering a sacrifice to the overwhelmed god. Infused with the power brought by this sacrifice, Tishtrya was able to overcome Apaosa, and his rains were able to flow to the parched fields and pastures unabated by drought. This story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition.

In the Zoroastrian religious calendar, the 13th day of the month and the 4th month of the year are dedicated to Tishtrya/Tir, and hence named after the entity. In the Iranian civil calendar, which inherits its month names from the Zoroastrian calendar, the 4th month is likewise named Tir.

The Tiregan festival, previously associated with *Tiri (a reconstructed name), was likewise transferred to Tishtrya. During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythian Apollo, patron of Delphi, and thus a divinity of oracles. 

During the Achaemenid period, Tishtrya was conflated with Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius. One of the three representations of Tishtrya, the hypostasis of the star Sirius, is that of a white stallion (the other two are as a young man, and as a bull). The divinity takes this form during the last 10 days of every month of the Zoroastrian calendar, and also in a cosmogonical battle for control of rain.


White horses are also said to draw divine chariots, such as that of the Indo-Iranian cosmological figure Anahita, the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess that appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita in the Avestan language.

Anihita was venerated as the divinity of “the Waters” (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom. Representing various forms of water, her four horses are named “wind”, “rain”, “clouds” and “sleet”.

In Middle and Modern Persian Anahita is called Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid. An iconic shrine cult together with other shrine cults was introduced in the 4th century BCE and lasted until it was suppressed in the wake of an iconoclastic movement under the Sassanids.

Anahit was the Armenian goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology. She is related to the similar Old Persian goddess Anahita. The historian Berossus identifies Anahit with Aphrodite, while medieval Armenian scribes identify her with Artemis. In early periods she was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd.

Anahit’s worship, most likely borrowed from the Iranians during the Median invasion or the early Achaemenid period, was of paramount significance in Armenia. Unlike Iranians, Armenians incorporated idol-worship into the cult of Anahit. Artaxias I erected statues of Anahit, and promulgated orders to worship them.

The annual festivity of the month Navasard, held in honor of Anahit, was the occasion of great gatherings, attended with dance, music, recitals, competitions, etc. The sick went to the temples in pilgrimage, asking for recovery. The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit.


White horses appear many times in Hindu mythology and stand for the sun. The Vedic horse sacrifice or Ashvamedha was a fertility and kingship ritual involving the sacrifice of a sacred grey or white stallion. The ritual was used by ancient Indian kings to prove their imperial sovereignty: a horse accompanied by the king’s warriors would be released to wander for a period of one year.

In the territory traversed by the horse, any rival could dispute the king’s authority by challenging the warriors accompanying it. After one year, if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal would be guided back to the king’s capital. It would be then sacrificed, and the king would be declared as an undisputed sovereign.

The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a powerful victorious king. Its object was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, seeking progeny and general prosperity of the kingdom.

In Hindu mythology the horse is a symbol of the sun, and the primal waters are considered its stable and birthplace. It was believed that the sun rises from the primal waters which surrounded the earth. According to Subhash Kak, therefore, the Ashvamedha is “the sacrifice of the annual renewal of the Sun at the New Year and that of the accompanying renewal of the king’s rule.”

Many Indo-European branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a Proto-Indo-European ritual. The Ashvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common attributes.

Similar rituals may have taken place among Roman, Celtic and Norse people, but the descriptions are not so complete. A similar ritual is found in Celtic tradition in which the King in Ireland conducted a rite of symbolic marriage with a sacrificed horse. Roman horse sacrifice tradition also coincide with Ashvamedha.

In ancient Roman religion, the Equirria (also as Ecurria, from *equicurria, “horse races”) were two ancient Roman festivals of chariot racing, or perhaps horseback racing, held in honor of the god Mars, one February 27 and the other March 14.

The Equirria took place in the Campus Martius outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium). The exact course is debated: perhaps near the Altar of Mars in the campus; or on the Tarentum, the site of the ludi tarentini, which became the Saecular Games; or the Trigarium. When the Tiber flooded, the Equirria were transferred to the Campus Martialis on the Caelian Hill, a field without permanent structures.

The Equirria were said to have been founded by Romulus, the son of Mars. Both appear on the oldest Roman calendars inscribed on stone. The festivals of Mars – the February 27 Equirria, a feria on the Kalends of March (a day sacred also to his mother Juno), Agonalia March 17, Tubilustrium March 23, the ritual of the October Horse October 15, and Armilustrium October 19 – cluster at his namesake month (Latin Martius), except for festivals of Mars in October to close the military campaigning season.

In the earliest form of the calendar, the year began with March, and thus the February 27 Equirria originally preceded New Year’s Day, and was the last festival for Mars of the year. The March 14 Equirria occurs the day before the Ides, when the Roman people celebrated the feast of Anna Perenna, whose name expresses her role as a goddess of the year (Latin annus; cf. English “perennial”).

The March 14 Equirria and the Regifugium (“King’s Flight”) are the only such festivals to fall on an even-numbered date. At any rate, the horse races framed the ritual turn of the year, and the difficulties of the placement of the two Equirria arise from changes made to the calendar, when January became the first month.

The end of the campaigning season was marked in October, with the ritual of the October Horse (Latin Equus October), an animal sacrifice to Mars carried out on October 15, coinciding with the end of the agricultural and military campaigning season. The rite took place during one of three horse-racing festivals held in honor of Mars, the others being the two Equirria on February 27 and March 14.


Mahabharata Lord Krishna was a charioteer to Arjuna by riding on white horses, while Arjuna himself was an archer. It is Krishna who gave unto Arjuna a number of white steeds as it is he who is the creator of all steeds. The chariot was donated by Agni (the fire-god), and that was indication that this chariot was capable of conquering all directions, wherever it was drawn through out the three worlds.

The imagery associated with the Bhagavad Gita is that of a chariot with four or five white horses. Arjuna is inside the chariot and the chariot is being driven by Lord Krishna. The chariot represents the human body, Arjun the individual soul and Krishna the Spirit or the Supreme Soul. This body (chariot) is being driven by the Supreme Lord. God’s will prevails.

That chariot has three naves (white, black, and mixed, implying good acts, evil acts and acts that are of a mixed character), three wheels (Satwa, Rajas, and Tamas), and three kinds of motions (upwards or downwards or transversely, implying superior, inferior, and intermediate birth as brought about by acts). It is four horses yoked to it (time, predestiny, the will of the deities, and one’s own will).

Arjuna is the main central character of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata and plays a key role in the Bhagavad Gita alongside Krishna. It is believed that Arjuna was best archer in the world at their time. Arjuna was the son of Indra, the king of the celestials, born of Kunti, the first wife of King Pandu in the Kuru Kingdom. In a previous birth he was a saint named Nara who was the lifelong companion of another saint Narayana an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who took rebirth as Krishna.

Aruna (“red, ruddy, tawny”), who is also personified as the redness that accompanies the sunlight in dawn and dusk, is the name of the charioteer of Surya (Sun god) in Hinduism. He is the personification of the reddish glow of the rising Sun. In Mahabharata Surya offered his invincible chariot and his charioteer Aruṇa to his son Karna, just like Lord Indra who gave his chariot to Arjuna.

The chariot of Surya was brilliant as the sun, yoked with 7 horses of different colors and only a person with divine vision could look into it. Confident in his own skills, Karna rejects this offer, saying he didn’t want to be remembered as a person who depended upon others strength to gain victory, indirectly referring to Arjuna who depended upon Krishna. Drona took the commander-in-chief position. His nine sons also entered the battlefield with their father, Karna.


In the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, also known as the Trimurti, in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, Vishnu is commonly called the preserver and protector, while Shiva is called the destroyer of evil and the transformer. Brahma is seen as the creator.

However, contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked in the tradition to the figure of Kalki, also called Kalkin, the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu before the age draws to a close who will reincarnate as Shiva and simultaneously dissolve and regenerate the universe.

Avatara means “descent” and refers to a descent of the divine into the material realm of human existence. Kalki is an avatara of Vishnu. The Garuda Purana lists ten avatars, with Kalki being the tenth. He is described as the avatar who appears at the end of the Kali Yuga, one of the four periods in the endless cycle of existence (krita).

He ends the darkest, degenerating and chaotic stage of the Kali Yuga (period) to remove adharma and ushers in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword. He restarts a new cycle of time. He is described as a Brahmin warrior in the Puranas.

The name Kalki is derived based Kali, which means “present age” (kali yuga). The literal meaning of Kalki is “dirty, sinful”, which Brockington states does not make sense in the avatara context. This has led scholars to suggest that the original term may have been karki (white, from the horse) which morphed into Kalki.

This proposal is supported by two versions of Mahabharata manuscripts that have been found, where the Sanskrit verses name the avatar to be “karki”, rather than “kalki”. Vishnu appears here to take on the form of the destroyer as well as Kalki is about letting go with faith in renewal.

Kalki is described as the avatar who rejuvenates existence by ending the darkest and most destructive period to remove adharma, that which is not in accord with the Dharma’, and ushering in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword.

Kalki is going to end the Kali Yuga, one of the four periods in the endless cycle of existence (krita). Kali Yuga (lit. “age of Kali”) is the last of the four stages (or ages or yugas) the world goes through as part of a ‘cycle of yugas’ (i.e. Mahayuga) described in the Sanskrit scriptures. The other ages are called Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, and Dvapara Yuga. At the end of the cycle Kalki is said to take birth and reestablish righteousness, thus beginning a new Satya Yuga.

Most Hindus believe that the current period is the Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen successive degeneration in the moral order, to the point that in the Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are the norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or “kalpas”.

Each kalpa lasts 4.1 – 8.2 billion years, which is one full day and night for Brahma, who in turn will live for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by vagaries of divine intervention. Some hold the view that Shiva is incessantly destroying and creating the world.

Kali Yuga is associated with the demon Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kālī), the archenemy of Kalki. The “Kali” of Kali Yuga comes from the root kad, which mean “suffer, hurt, startle, confuse, strife, discord, quarrel or contention”. He is portrayed as a demon and the source of all evil.

According to Puranic sources, Krishna’s departure marks the end of Dvapara Yuga and the start of Kali Yuga, which is dated to 17/18 February 3102 BCE. Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God.

Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.

The Satya Yuga, also called Satyug, or Kṛta Yuga in Hinduism, is the first of the four Yugas, the “Yuga (Age or Era) of Truth”, when humanity is governed by gods, and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal and humanity will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme. It is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age”.

The Satya Yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. The goddess Dharma (depicted in the form of cow), which symbolises morality, stood on all four legs during this period. Later on in the Treta Yuga, it would become three, followed by two in the Dvapara Yuga. Currently, in the immoral age of Kali, it stands on one leg.

Adharma is the Sanskrit antonym of Dharma, and include unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, wickedness, and  practice, behaviour, and habit generally considered immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, or degrading. Dharma is a key concept which signifies behaviours that are considered to be in accord with Ṛta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and “right way of living”.

The description and details of Kalki are inconsistent. He is, for example, only an invisible force destroying evil and chaos in some texts, while an actual person who kills those who persecute others, and portrayed as someone leading an army of Brahmin warriors in others.

His mythology has been compared to the concepts of Messiah, Maitreya, Apocalypse, and Frashokereti, the Avestan-language term for the Zoroastrian doctrine of a final renovation of the universe, when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will be then in perfect unity with God (Ahura Mazda), in other religions.

Kalki is also found in Buddhist texts. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Kalachakra-Tantra describes 25 rulers, each named Kalki who rule from the heavenly Shambhala. The last Kalki of Shambhala will become the king, a “Turner of the Wheel”, and one who triumphs. He will eliminate all barbarians and robbers, end adharma, restart dharma, and save the good people.

He appears at the end of Kali Yuga to restore the order of the world. He destroys a barbarian Muslim army, after which Buddhism flourishes. After that, humanity will be transformed and will prevail on earth, and the golden age will begin. This text is dated to about 10th-century CE.

In the Kanchipuram temple, two relief Puranic panels depict Kalki, one relating to lunar (daughter-based) dynasty and another to solar (son-based) dynasty. In these panels the story depicted is in terms of Kalki fighting and defeating asura Kali. He rides a white horse called Devadatta, end the age of degeneration and to restore virtue and world order. He ends evil, purifies everyone’s minds and consciousness, and heralds the start of Krita Yuga.

He starts appearing in Hindu scriptures at the time when India was overrun by a whole host of foreign marauders from Central Asia. These were brutal and barbaric tribes such as the Huns and later the Mongols. The story was a clear response to their brutality.

This myth may have developed in the Hindu texts both as a reaction to the invasions of the Indian subcontinent by various armies over the centuries from its northwest, and the mythologies these invaders brought with them.

The Kalki concept was likely borrowed in some measure from similar Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and other religions. There is no mention of Kalki in the Vedic literature. The epithet “Kalmallkinam”, meaning “brilliant remover of darkness”, is found in the Vedic literature for Rudra (later Shiva), which has been interpreted to be “forerunner of Kalki”. Kalki appears for the first time in the great war epic Mahabharata.

These new invaders were destroying the old way of life and it was hoped that Vishnu, as Kalki, would destroy the new ways, and restore life to the old ways. Kalki was probably inspired by messianic thoughts that are prevalent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He was the deliverer and the saviour.

Across India, there are many folk heroes who ride a horse and brandish a sword much like Kalki. He is thus almost a guardian god in folk imagination. But in the scriptures, he is the one who will close the Kalpa, the world-cycle, so that a new one can begin.

According to Buddhists a Bodhisattva of the future, Manjushri, yields a flaming sword. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this wrathful manifestation Manjushri is called Yamantaka, an epithet associated with Shiva in Hindu tradition and means the destroyer of death. Thus, metaphysically, Kalki will destroy everything, even death.

He will destroy all structures so that none exist. In other words, he will herald Pralaya, meaning ‘dissolution’ or by extension ‘reabsorption, destruction, annihilation or death’, an aeonic term for Dissolution, which specifies different periods of time during which a non-activity situation persists, as per different formats or contexts.

Material reality is impermanent. It has to change; in other words, it has to die and be reborn. So everything that has form and name has to eventually wither away and die. In the lore of Vishnu these transformations of Prakriti are not random; they are organised and predictable. They take the form of yugas, or eras.

Just as every living organism goes through four phases of life — childhood, youth, maturity and old age — so does the world. Krita yuga marks the childhood of the world, Treta yuga marks the youth, Dvapara marks the maturity of the world and Treta, its old age.

Parashurama heralds the end of Krita, Ram the end of Treta, Krishna the end of Dvapara, and Kalki marks the end of Kali yuga. Pralaya is death, death before rebirth. Pralaya is when Vishnu goes to sleep, becomes Narayana. Pralaya is when Ananta becomes Sesha, infinity becomes zero and Yoga-maya becomes Yoga-nidra.

Vishnu thus acknowledges the end of the world, engages with it, even participates in it. While as Parashurama and Ram and Krishna, he struggles to hold on to dharma, despite the corrupting march of time, as Balarama and finally Kalki, he lets go and allows the world to collapse. This is wisdom, knowing when to act and when to withdraw, knowing when to stop fighting and allowing age to take its toll.

Epona, Demeter and Poseidon

White horses are the most common type of hill figure in England. Though many are modern, the Uffington White Horse at least dates back to the Bronze Age. In Scottish folklore, the kelpie or each uisge, a deadly supernatural water demon in the shape of a horse, is sometimes described as white, though other stories say it is black.

In Celtic mythology, Rhiannon, a mythic figure in the Mabinogion collection of legends, rides a “pale-white” horse. Because of this, she has been linked to the Romano-Celtic fertility horse goddess Epona and other instances of the veneration of horses in early Indo-European culture.

In Gallo-Roman religion, Epona was a protector of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules. Sculptures of Epona fall into five types: riding, standing or seated before a horse, standing or seated on a throne flanked by two or more horses or foals, a tamer of horses in the manner of potnia theron and the symbolic mare and foal.

A euhemeristic account of Epona’s origin occurs in the Parallela Minora, which were traditionally attributed to Plutarch (but are now classed as “Pseudo-Plutarch”): Fulvius Stellus hated women and used to consort with a mare and in due time the mare gave birth to a beautiful girl and they named her Epona. She is the goddess that is concerned with the protection of horses. So Agesilaüs in the third book of his Italian History.

It may represent some recollection of Indo-European horse sacrifice, such as the Vedic ashvamedha and the Irish ritual described by Giraldus Cambrensis, both of which have to do with kingship. In the Celtic ritual, the king mates with a white mare thought to embody the goddess of sovereignty.

In distant Dacia, she is represented on a stela in the format of Cybele, seated frontally on a throne with her hands on the necks of her paired animals. Her horses are substitutions for Cybele’s lions. She was particularly a goddess of fertility, as shown by her attributes of a patera, cornucopia, ears of grain and the presence of foals in some sculptures.

She and her horses might also have been leaders of the soul in the after-life ride, with parallels in Rhiannon of the Mabinogion. She was incorporated into the imperial cult by being invoked on behalf of the Emperor, as Epona Augusta or Epona Regina.

Like some other figures of British/Welsh literary tradition, Rhiannon may be a reflex of an earlier Celtic deity. Her name appears to derive from the reconstructed Brittonic form *Rīgantonā, a derivative of *rīgan- “queen”.

In the First Branch of the Mabinogi, Rhiannon is strongly associated with horses, and so is her son Pryderi. She is often considered to be related to the Gaulish horse goddess Epona. She and her son are often depicted as mare and foal. Like Epona, she sometimes sits on her horse in a calm, static way.

The worship of Epona, “the sole Celtic divinity ultimately worshipped in Rome itself”, was widespread in the Roman Empire between the first and third centuries AD; this is unusual for a Celtic deity, most of whom were associated with specific localities.

The cult of Despoina is very important in the history of ancient Greek religion. The figure of a goddess of nature, birth, and death, was dominant in both Minoan and Mycenean cults during the Bronze Age. Wanax was her male companion (paredros) in the Mycenean cult, and usually, this title was applied to the god Poseidon as king of the sea.

Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-na-ka (wanax) in Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld. Poseidon “Wanax”, is the male companion (paredros) of the goddess of nature. 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 and midwifery. Eileithyia, along with Artemis and Persephone, is often shown carrying torches to bring children out of darkness and into light: in Roman mythology her counterpart in easing labor is Lucina (“of the light”).

In the cave of Amnisos (Crete) she was related with the annual birth of the divine child, and her cult is connected with Enesidaon (the earth shaker), who was the chthonic aspect of the god Poseidon. It is possible that her cult is related with the cult of Eleusis.

Anax is an ancient Greek word for “tribal chief, lord, (military) leader”. It is one of the two Greek titles traditionally translated as “king”, the other being basileus. Anax is the more archaic term of the two, inherited from Mycenaean Greece, and is notably used in Homeric Greek, e.g. of Agamemnon. The feminine form is anassa, “queen” (from wánassa, itself from *wánakt-ja).

In the relative Minoan myth, Pasiphaë is mating with the white bull, and she bears the hybrid creature Minotaur. The Bull was the old pre-Olympian Poseidon. The goddess of nature and her paredros survived in the Eleusinian cult, where the following words were uttered : ” Mighty Potnia bore a strong son”.

It seems that the Greek deities started as powers of nature, and then they were given other attributes. These powers of nature developed into a belief in nymphs and in deities with human forms and the heads or tails of animals. Some of them, such as Pan and the Silenoi, survived into the classical age.

The two great Arcadian goddesses, Demeter and Despoina (later Persephone), were closely related to the springs and the animals, and especially, to the goddess Artemis (Potnia Theron: “The mistress of the animals”), who was the first nymph.

On a marble relief at Lycosura is the veil of Despoina, on which human figures are represented with the heads of different animals, obviously, in a ritual dance. Some of them hold flutes. These could be a procession of women with animal masks or of hybrid creatures.

Similar processions of daemons or human figures with animal masks appear on Mycenean frescoes and gold rings. Most of the temples were built near springs, and in some of them there is evidence of a fire which always was kept burning. At Lycosura, a fire burned in front of the temple of Pan, the goat god.

Demeter Erinys (“implacable”) had a function similar with the function of the avenging Dike (Justice), goddess of moral justice based on custom rules who represents the divine retribution, and the Erinyes, female ancient chthonic deities of vengeance and implacable agents of retribution.

In Greek mythology the Erinyes, also known as the Furies, were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as “the Erinyes, that under earth take vengeance on men, whosoever hath sworn a false oath”. Walter Burkert suggests they are “an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath”.

Whilst the Erinyes were usually described as three maiden goddesses, the Erinys Telphousia was usually a by-name for the wrathful goddess Demeter, who was worshipped under the title of Erinys in the Arkadian town of Thelpousa.

In the cave of Phigalia Demeter was, according to popular tradition, represented with the head and mane of a horse, possibly a relic of the time when a non-specialized corn-spirit bore this form. Her priests were called Poloi (Greek for “colts”) in Laconia.

There is some reason to believe that Poseidon, like other water gods, was originally conceived under the form of a horse. In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the sea, and sailors sometimes drowned horses as a sacrifice to Poseidon to ensure a safe voyage. His Roman equivalent is Neptune.

Poseidon was the second son of titans Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts he is swallowed by Cronus at birth but later saved, with his other brothers and sisters, by Zeus. However, in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. 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 she gave to Cronus to devour.

According to John Tzetzes the kourotrophos, or nurse of Poseidon was Arne, who denied knowing where he was, when Cronus came searching; according to Diodorus Siculus[40] Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete. According to a single reference in the Iliad, when the world was divided by lot in three, Zeus received 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. Later, when the Myceneans travelled along the sea, he was assigned a role as god of the sea.

Poseidon had a close association with horses. He is more often regarded as the tamer of horses, but in some myths he is their father, either by spilling his seed upon a rock or by mating with a creature who then gave birth to the first horse. He was closely related with the springs, and with the strike of his trident, he created springs. Many springs like Hippocrene and Aganippe in Helikon are related with the word horse (hippos).

Poseidon/ Neptune

Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain is the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. He is usually depicted as an older male with curly hair and beard.

There is some reason to believe that Poseidon, like other water gods, was originally conceived under the form of a horse. In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the sea, and sailors sometimes drowned horses as a sacrifice to Poseidon to ensure a safe voyage.

The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune (Latin: Neptūnus) in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon.

Neptune was the Roman 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, each of them presiding over the realms of Heaven, our earthly world, and the Underworld, respectively. 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.

Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece as a chief deity, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades.

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.


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

Anax is an ancient Greek word for “(tribal) king, lord, (military) leader”. It is one of the two Greek titles traditionally translated as “king”, the other being basileus. Anax is the more archaic term of the two, inherited from the Mycenaean period, and is notably used in Homeric Greek, e.g. of Agamemnon. The feminine form is anassa, “queen” (ánassa; from wánassa, itself from *wánakt-ja).

The word anax derives from the stem wanakt-, and appears in the Mycenaean language, written in Linear B script as, wa-na-ka, and in the feminine form as, wa-na-sa (later ánassa).

The digamma ϝ was pronounced /w/ and was dropped very early on, even before the adoption of the Phoenician alphabet, by eastern Greek dialects (e.g. Ionian); other dialects retained the digamma until well after the classical era.

The word Anax in the Iliad refers to Agamemnon (i.e. “leader of men”) and to Priam, high kings who exercise overlordship over other, presumably lesser, kings. This possible hierarchy of one “anax” exercising power over several local “basileis” probably hints to a proto-feudal political organization of Bronze Age Greece.

The Linear B adjective, wa-na-ka-te-ro (wanákteros), “of the [household of] the king, royal”, and the Greek word ἀνάκτορον, anáktoron, “royal [dwelling], palace” are derived from anax.

Anax is also a ceremonial epithet of the god Zeus (“Zeus Anax”) in his capacity as overlord of the Universe, including the rest of the gods. The meaning of basileus as “king” in Classical Greece is due to a shift in terminology during the Greek Dark Ages.

In Mycenaean times, a *gʷasileus appears to be a lower-ranking official (in one instance a chief of a professional guild), while in Homer, Anax is already an archaic title, most suited to legendary heroes and gods rather than for contemporary kings.

The Greek title has been compared to Sanskrit vanij, a word for “merchant”, but in the Rigveda once used as a title of Indra. The word could then be from Proto-Indo-European *wen-ag’-, roughly “bringer of spoils” (compare the etymology of lord, “giver of bread”).

The word is found as an element in such names as Hipponax (“king of horses”), Anaxagoras (“king of the agora”), Pleistoanax (“king of the multitude”), Anaximander (“king of the estate”), Anaximenes (“enduring king”), Astyanax (“high king”, “overlord of the city”) Anaktoria (“royal [woman]”), Iphiánassa (“mighty queen”), and many others.

The archaic plural Ánakes (“Kings”) was a common reference to the Dioscuri or Heavenly Twins, Castor and Polydeuces, whose temple was usually called the Anakeion and their yearly religious festival the Anákeia.

The words ánax and ánassa are occasionally used in Modern Greek as a deferential to royalty, whereas the word anáktoro[n] and its derivatives are commonly used with regard to palaces.


Anakes were ancestral spirits worshipped for their government or religious service in Attica and/or Argos. Titles corresponded to their function on Earth, such as “Son of Zeus.” The clearest symbol of their existence, in Greek Mythology, was the wolf.


Anax (from earlier wánax) is an ancient Greek word for “(tribal) king, lord, (military) leader”. It is one of the two Greek titles traditionally translated as “king”, the other being basileus.

Anax is the more archaic term of the two, inherited from the Mycenaean period, and is notably used in Homeric Greek, e.g. of Agamemnon. The feminine form is anassa, “queen” (ánassa; from wánassa, itself from *wánakt-ja).

The word anax derives from the stem wanakt-, and appears in the Mycenaean language, written in Linear B script as wa-na-ka, and in the feminine form as wa-na-sa (later ánassa).

The digamma ϝ was pronounced /w/ and was dropped very early on, even before the adoption of the Phoenician alphabet, by eastern Greek dialects (e.g. Ionian); other dialects retained the digamma until well after the classical era.

The word Anax in the Iliad refers to Agamemnon (i.e. “leader of men”) and to Priam, high kings who exercise overlordship over other, presumably lesser, kings. This possible hierarchy of one “anax” exercising power over several local “basileis” probably hints to a proto-feudal political organization of Bronze Age Greece.

The Linear B adjective wa-na-ka-te-ro (wanákteros) “of the [household of] the king, royal” and the Greek word ἀνάκτορον, anáktoron, “royal [dwelling], palace” are derived from anax.

Anax is also a ceremonial epithet of the god Zeus (“Zeus Anax”) in his capacity as overlord of the Universe, including the rest of the gods. The meaning of basileus as “king” in Classical Greece is due to a shift in terminology during the Greek Dark Ages.

In Mycenaean times, a *gʷasileus appears to be a lower-ranking official (in one instance a chief of a professional guild), while in Homer, Anax is already an archaic title, most suited to legendary heroes and gods rather than for contemporary kings.

The Greek title has been compared to Sanskrit vanij, a word for “merchant”, but in the Rigveda once used as a title of Indra. The word could then be from Proto-Indo-European *wen-ag’-, roughly “bringer of spoils” (compare the etymology of lord, “giver of bread”).

The word is found as an element in such names as Hipponax (“king of horses”), Anaxagoras (“king of the agora”), Pleistoanax (“king of the multitude”), Anaximander (“king of the estate”), Anaximenes (“enduring king”), Astyanax (“high king”, “overlord of the city”) Anaktoria (“royal [woman]”), Iphiánassa (“mighty queen”), and many others.

The archaic plural Ánakes (Ἄνακες, “Kings”) was a common reference to the Dioscuri or Heavenly Twins, Castor and Polydeuces, whose temple was usually called the Anakeion (Ἀνάκειον) and their yearly religious festival the Anákeia (Ἀνάκεια).

The words ánax and ánassa are occasionally used in Modern Greek as a deferential to royalty, whereas the word anáktoro[n] and its derivatives are commonly used with regard to palaces.


Nakharar (naxarar, from Parthian naxvadār “holder of the primacy”) was a hereditary title of the highest order given to houses of the ancient and medieval Armenian nobility. The origin of the Nakharars seems to stretch back to pagan Armenia, who coexisted with the Roman and Parthian Empire.


The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (i.e. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian).

The name is variously written “a-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke4-ne”, or “a-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. Alternative translations of the name, such as “those who from the heavens came to earth”, based on the work of Zecharia Sitchin have been rejected by scientists and academics, who dismiss his work as pseudoscientific.

According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki “are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).

The Mistress of animals (Potnia Therōn) and the Master of Animals

Potnia is an Ancient Greek word for “Mistress, Lady” and a title of a goddess. The word was inherited by Classical Greek from Mycenean Greek with the same meaning and it was applied to several goddesses. In Greece, as in Phrygia, the goddess Cybele was a “Mistress of animals” (Potnia Therōn), with her mastery of the natural world expressed by the lions that flank her, sit in her lap or draw her chariot.

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, who can be seen as a “Master of Animals”.

The figure of a goddess of nature, of birth and death was dominant during the Bronze Age, in both Minoan and Mycenean cults. In the Mycenean cult she was known by the title Potnia. The earliest references to the title are inscriptions in Linear B (Mycenean Greek) syllabic script found at Pylos and at Knossos, Crete, dated 1450-1300 BC.

On a number of tablets from Pylos, we find po-ti-ni-ja (potnia) without any accompanying word. It is suggested that she was the mother-goddess of the Mycenaeans. Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion in the Mycenean cult, and this title was usually applied to the god Poseidon (po-se-da-o) as king of the underworld.

Another epithet of Poseidon was e-ne-si-da-o-ne (“earth-shaker”) and in the cave of Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related to the cult of Eileithyia. She was a goddess of nature concerned with the annual birth of the divine child. Potnia and her male companion (paredros) survived in the Eleusinian cult, where the following words were uttered : “Mighty Potnia has born a strong son”.

An inscription from Knossos refers to the “potnia of the labyrinth”, who probably presided over the palace of Knossos (da-pu-ri-to-jo,po-ti-ni-ja). A famous Minoan seal impression found by Arthur Evans shows a nameless goddess brandishing a spear and standing upon the representation of a mountain flanked by rampant lions, and the representation seems similar to the Homeric potnia theron (the mistress of the animals).

Several tablets in Linear B script found at Knossos and Pylos refer to the potnia. Potnia is almost always accompanied by an epithet characterizing a particular place or function of the mistress : po-ti-ni-ja,a-si-wi-ja (a-si-wi-ja = ethnic adjective, possibly “Asian (Lydian) woman”), si-to-po-ti-ni-ja (sitos = “grain”, of wheat or barley; probably referring to Demeter or her predecessor), po-ti-ni-ja,i-qe-ja (Potnia Hippeia, “Horse Goddess”). At Knossos a tablet refers to a-ta-na-po-ti-ni-ja, “potnia Athana”, a form similar to the later Homeric form.

This divine title could be the translation of a similar title of Pre-Greek origin, just as the title “Our Lady” in Christianity is translated in several languages. The Pre-Greek name may be related to a-sa-sa-ra , a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “lady or mistress”, and especially with išhaššaramis (my lady).

In classical Greece the title potnia is usually applied to the goddesses Demeter, Artemis, Athena, and Persephone. This title was also given to the earth goddess Gaia (Ge). A related Greek word is despoina (“the mistress”), which was given to the nameless chthonic goddess of the mysteries of Arcadian cult.

“Des-potnia” from PIE *dems-potnia (meaning “mistress of the house”). An alternative etymology of the goddess Demeter comes through Potnia and Despoina (“Dems-meter”, from PIE *dems-méhtēr, meaning “mother of the house”).

A similar title Despoina, “the mistress”, was given to the nameless goddess of the mysteries of Arcadian cult, later conflated with Kore (Persephone), the goddess of the Eleusinian mysteries. Homer in the Iliad mentions a potnia theron (“mistress of the animals”) who is obviously Artemis.

Despoina was later conflated with Kore (Persephone), “the maid”, the goddess of the Eleusinian mysteries, in a life-death rebirth cycle which leads the neophyte from death into life and immortality. Karl Kerenyi identifies Kore with the nameless “Mistress of the labyrinth”, who probably presided over the palace of Knossos in Minoan Crete.

Demeter and Persephone were the two great goddesses of the Arcadian cults. According to Pausanias at Olympia they were called Despoinai (“mistresses”, plural of Despoina). Demeter and Persephone were also called “Demeteres” as duplicates of the earth goddess with a double function as chthonic and vegetation goddesses.

Potnia Theron (“The Mistress of the Animals”) is a term first used (once) by Homer 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.

Homer’s mention of potnia theron is thought to refer to Artemis and Walter Burkert describes this mention as “a well established formula”. 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.”

Many depictions use a female version of the widespread ancient motif of the male Master of Animals, showing a central figure with a human form grasping two animals, one to each side. 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 a long dress and holds hands with two panthers.

The Master of Animals or Lord of 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.

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 Master of Animals is the “favorite motif of Achaemenian official seals”, but the figures in these cases should be understood as the king.

Demeter and Persephone

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. 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.

Her cult titles 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.

Demeter was venerated as a mare in Lycosoura in Arcadia into historical times. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres, a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome’s so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as “the Greek rites of Ceres”.

Ceres’ name derives from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh-, meaning “to satiate, to feed”, which is also the root for Latin crescere “to grow” and through it, the English words create and increase. Roman etymologists thought ceres derived from the Latin verb gerere, “to bear, bring forth, produce”, because the goddess was linked to pastoral, agricultural and human fertility.

Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore (“the maiden”), were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of c. 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two queens and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon.

Persephone was described as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death.

The epithets of Persephone reveal her double function as chthonic and vegetation goddess. The surnames given to her by the poets refer to her character as Queen of the lower world and the dead, or her symbolic meaning of the power that shoots forth and withdraws into the earth. Plutarch identifies her with spring and Cicero calls her the seed of the fruits of the fields. In the Eleusinian mysteries, her return is the symbol of immortality and hence she was frequently represented on sarcophagi.

Her common name as a vegetation goddess is Kore, and in Arcadia she was worshipped under the title Despoina, “the mistress”, a very old chthonic divinity. In Greek mythology, Despoina was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion.

She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults who was worshipped under the title Despoina (“the mistress”), alongside her mother Demeter, one of the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Her real name could not be revealed to anyone except those initiated to her mysteries.

Writing during the second century A.D., Pausanias spoke of Demeter as having two daughters; Kore being born first, before Despoina was born, with Zeus being the father of Kore and Poseidon as the father of Despoina. Pausanias made it clear that Kore is Persephone, although he did not reveal Despoina’s proper name.

The word, Despoina (“mistress”), is derived from *des-potnia, “lady or mistress of the house”, from PIE *dóm(ha)os, “house(hold)” [*dem(ha)-, “build”] and *potniha-, “lady, mistress”; cf. Greek domos and potnia. The masculine form is Despotes, “master of the house”; cf. posis.

Related attested forms, written in the Linear B syllabary, are the Mycenaean Greek po-ti-ni-ja, (potnia) and perhaps po-se-da-o and po-se-da-wo-ne (Poseidon), which were inherited into classical Greece with identical or related meanings. Demeter is possibly a related word, interpreted by some, as “mother of the house” (from PIE *dems-mater).

Persephone was married to Hades, the god 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.

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. She is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature who both produces and destroys everything, and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. In some versions, she is the mother of Zeus’s sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus.


The constellation Virgo has multiple different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin/maiden with heavy association with wheat. In Greek and Roman mythology they relate the constellation to Demeter, mother of Persephone, or Proserpina in Roman, the goddess of the harvest. She also has various connections with the India goddess Kanya, and the Virgin Mary.

The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea (“star-maiden” or “starry night”), who in ancient Greek religion was the virgin goddess of innocence and purity and was associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

In Greek mythology, she was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth. According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.

Aventine Triad

The Aventine Triad (also referred to as the plebeian Triad or the agricultural Triad) is a modern term for the joint cult of the Roman deities Ceres, Liber and Libera. The cult was established ca. 493 BC within a sacred district (templum) on or near the Aventine Hill, traditionally associated with the Roman plebs.

Liber (“the free one”), also known as Liber Pater (“the free Father”), was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome’s plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia (March 17) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age.

Liber, like his Aventine companions, carried various aspects of his older cults into official Roman religion. He protected various aspects of agriculture and fertility, including the vine and the “soft seed” of its grapes, wine and wine vessels, and male fertility and virility. As his divine power was incarnate in the vine, grape and wine, he was offered the first, sacred pressing of the grape-harvest, known as sacrima.

His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share. Libera was a goddess of wine, fertility and freedom. Libera was the female equivalent of Liber (freedom), while her name is in the feminine form.

In Roman culture, Liber, Bacchus and Dionysus became virtually interchangeable equivalents. In the Greek pantheon, Dionysus (along with Zeus) absorbs the role of Sabazios, a Thracian/Phrygian deity. In the Roman pantheon, Sabazius became an alternative name for Bacchus.

With the institution of the ritus graecia cereris (Greek rites of Ceres) c.205 BC, Libera was officially identified with Ceres’ daughter Proserpina and acquired with her a Romanised form of Greek mystery rite and attendant mythology, based on Greek cults to Demeter and Persephone.

In the late Republican era, Cicero describes Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equates her with Greek Ariadne, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus.

The formal, official development of the Aventine Triad may have encouraged the assimilation of its individual deities to Greek equivalents: Ceres to Demeter, Liber to Dionysus and Libera to Persephone or Kore.

Later accounts describe the temple building and rites as “Greek” in style. Some modern historians describe the Aventine Triad as a plebeian parallel and self-conscious antithesis to the archaic Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus and the later Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Minerva and Juno.

The Aventine Triad, temple and associated ludi (games and theatrical performances) served as a focus of plebeian identity, sometimes in opposition to Rome’s original ruling elite, the patricians. Patrician dominance was manifest in the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus on the Capitoline Hill, at the heart of the city.

The Capitoline temple lay within Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium). The Aventine lay outside it. In most versions of the Roman founding myth, this was the hill on which the unfortunate Remus lost to his brother Romulus in a contest of augury to decide Rome’s foundation, name and leadership

The Aventine Triad was established soon after the overthrow of the Roman monarchy and establishment of the Republic. Rome’s majority of citizen commoners (plebs) were ruled by the patricians, a small number of powerful, landed aristocrats who asserted a traditional, exclusive right to Rome’s highest religious, political and military offices.

Postumius’ vow has been interpreted as a pragmatic, timely recognition of the plebeian citizenry as a distinct social and political grouping with its own values, interests and traditions; the vow may have intended confirmation of the plebs and their deities as fully Roman, but its fulfillment focused plebeian culture and identity on a Triad of deities only part-assimilated into official Roman religion.

Some aspects of their cults were still considered morally “un-Roman” by Rome’s authorities. Thus the Aventine Triad gave the plebs what has been variously described by modern historians as a parallel to the official Capitoline Triad, and its “copy and antithesis”. Among other religious innovations based on his antiquarian interests, the emperor Claudius redrew the pomerium to encompass the Aventine.

The plebs not only served in Rome’s legions: they were the backbone of its economy – smallholders, labourers, skilled specialists, managers of landed estates, vintners, importers and exporters of grain and wine.

Against a background of famine in Rome, an imminent war against the Latins and a threatened plebeian secession, the dictator A. Postumius vowed a temple to the patron deities of the plebs, Ceres, Liber and Libera on or near the Aventine Hill. The famine ended and Rome’s plebeian citizen-soldiery co-operated in the conquest of the Latins.

In 493 BC, a new built temple on or near the Aventine hill was dedicated to the Triad and Rome’s first recorded ludi scaenici (religious dramas) were held in honour of Liber, for the benefit of the Roman people. Liber’s festival, the Liberalia, may date from this time.

The Aventine relationship between Ceres, Liber and Libera was probably based first on their functions as agricultural and fertility deities of the plebs as a distinct social group.

Liber had been companion to both Ceres and to Libera in separate and disparate fertility cults that were widespread throughout the Hellenised Italian peninsula, long before their official adoption by Rome – or rather, their partial assimilation, as Ceres’ own cult appears to have been considered more tractable and obedient than Liber’s.

Their Aventine cults, reported in later Roman sources as distinctively Greek in character, may have been further reinforced and influenced by their perceived similarities to particular Greek deities: Ceres to Demeter, Liber to Dionysus (Roman Bacchus) and Libera to Persephone (Roman Proserpina).

In keeping with Roman theology, the internal and external equivalence of the Aventine Triad remained speculative, broad and flexible. Long after its establishment, Cicero rejects the equivalence of Liber and Dionysus and asserts that Ceres is mother to Liber and Libera.

The plebs continued to establish and administer their own laws (plebiscita) and held formal assemblies from which patricians were excluded. They elected their own magistrates and sought religious confirmation of their decisions through their own augury, which in plebeian religious tradition had been introduced by Marsyas, a satyr or silen in the entourage of Liber.

Meanwhile, the plebeian tribunes, an emergent plebeian nobility and a small but growing number of popularist politicians of patrician ancestry gained increasing influence over Rome’s religious life and government. Any person who offended against the sacred rights and person of a plebeian tribune was liable to declaration as homo sacer, who could be killed with impunity and whose property was, almost certainly, forfeit to Ceres.

Even so, official Ludi Cereales were not established until as late as 202 BC. Liber’s festival and the Bacchic or Dionysian aspects of his cult were suppressed under the ferocious Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus of 186 BC. The Liberalia rites were transferred to Cerealia; after a few years they were restored to Liber.


In Norse mythology, the Vanir are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse “Home of the Vanir”). 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.

All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir. A euhemerized prose account in Heimskringla adds that Njörðr’s sister—whose name is not provided—and Kvasir were Vanir. While not attested as Vanir, the gods Heimdallr and Ullr have been theorized as potential members of the group.

Scholars have theorized that the Vanir may be connected to small pieces of gold foil found in Scandinavia at some building sites from the Migration Period to the Viking Age and occasionally in graves. They have speculated whether the Vanir originally represented pre-Indo-European deities or Indo-European fertility gods.

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 *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-,

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-.

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 love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. 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.

Inara and Sarruma

Hannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess. She was identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, also transcribed, Khepat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”.

The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. As an exemplar of devoted motherhood, she was partly assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter, whose torchlight procession recalled her search for her lost daughter, Persephone.

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 Hebat and her brother is Sarruma. In Hittite and Hurrian texts, his name was linked with the Akkadian šarri (“King”).

He is often depicted riding a tiger or panther and carrying an axe (cf. labrys). Dionysus is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. In some Roman sources, the ritual procession of Bacchus in a tiger-drawn chariot, surrounded by maenads, satyrs and drunks, commemorates the god’s triumphant return from the conquest of India.

The bull, serpent, tiger, ivy, and wine are characteristic of Dionysian iconography. Dionysus is also strongly associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni. He is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and may also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele.

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo as the sun and Artemis as the moon. Apollo 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.

Aplu was a Hurrian deity of the plague — bringing it, or, if propitiated, protecting from it — and resembles Apollo Smintheus, “mouse-Apollo” Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning “the son of Enlil”, a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun.

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. His siblings include among others Nanna (the moon god), Ninurta, Ninazu, Enbilulu, and sometimes Inanna. In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal (lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) is described as Inanna’s older sister. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. 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. “Lady of the Great Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

In later times, the Greeks and Romans appear to have syncretized Ereshkigal with their own goddess Hecate. In the heading of a spell in the Michigan Magical Papyrus, which has been dated to the late third or early fourth century A.D., Hecate is referred to as “Hecate Ereschkigal” and is invoked using magical words and gestures to alleviate the caster’s fear of punishment in the afterlife.

In the mystical theories of the Orphics and the Platonists, Kore is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature who both produces and destroys everything, and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. The Orphic Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, Zagreus, and the little-attested Melinoe.


In Greek mythology, the divine white winged horse Pegasus was the son of the Olympian god Poseidon and the gorgon Medusa. Poseidon was also the creator of horses, creating them out of the breaking waves when challenged to make a beautiful land animal. Pegasus was usually depicted as pure white.

The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian. The Bible also describes an animal, the re’em, which some versions translate as unicorn.

In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat’s beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could be captured only by a virgin.

In the encyclopedias, its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. In medieval and Renaissance times, the tusk of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn.

A winged unicorn (or flying unicorn) is a fictional horse with wings like Pegasus and the horn of a unicorn. Winged unicorns have been depicted in art. Ancient Achaemenid Assyrian seals depict winged unicorns and winged bulls as representing evil, but winged unicorns can also represent light.

This creature has no specific name, but in some literature and media, it has been referred to as an alicorn, a Latin word for the horn of a unicorn, especially in alchemical texts, or as a pegacorn, a portmanteau of a pegasus and unicorn.

Pegasus is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology. Alpha (Markab), Beta (Scheat), and Gamma (Algenib), together with Alpha Andromedae (Alpheratz, once also designated Delta Pegasi) form the large asterism known as the Square of Pegasus.

Enki (later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology), the Sumerian god of water, knowledge (gestú), mischief, crafts (gašam), and creation (nudimmud), 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 associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BC, 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. Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini (lower octave of Aquarius) and is exalted in Virgo (upper octave of Cancer) and/or Aquarius (upper octave of Gemini), is in fall in Pisces (upper octave of Libra), and is detriment in Sagittarius.

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

Isimud appears in the legend of Inanna and Enki, in which he is the one who greets Inanna upon her arrival to the E-Abzu temple in Eridu. He also is the one who informs Enki that the mes have been stolen. In the myth, Isimud also serves as a messenger, telling Inanna to return the mes to Enki or face the consequences.

Isimud plays a similar role to Ninshubur, Inanna’s sukkal. Isimud also appears in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag, in which he acts as Enki’s messenger and emissary. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods. In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury.

Geminus is the first epithet in Macrobius’s list. Although the etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his most typical character, that of having two faces or heads.

The origin of this epithet might be either concrete, referring directly to the image of the god reproduced on coins and supposed to have been introduced by king Numa in the sanctuary at the lowest point of the Argiletum, or to a feature of the Ianus of the Porta Belli, the double gate ritually opened at the beginning of wars, or abstract, deriving metaphorically from the liminal, intermediary functions of the god themselves: both in time and space passages connected two different spheres, realms or worlds.

The Janus quadrifrons or quadriformis, brought according to tradition from Falerii in 241 BC and installed by Domitian in the Forum Transitorium, although having a different meaning, seems to be connected to the same theological complex, as its image purports an ability to rule over every direction, element and time of the year. It did not give rise to a new epithet though.

Gemini is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between May 21 and June 21. Gemini is represented by the twins Castor and Pollux. The symbol of the twins is based on the Dioscuri, one mortal and one immortal, that were granted shared half-immortality after the death of the mortal brother (Castor).

In Latin the twins are also known as the Gemini (literally “twins”) or Castores, as well as the Tyndaridae or Tyndarids. When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. They were also associated with horsemanship, due to the idea that they rode the ‘white horses’ of foam that were formed by curling ocean waves.

Castor and Pollux are consistently associated with horses in art and literature. They are widely depicted as helmeted horsemen carrying spears. The heavenly twins also appear in the Indo-European tradition as the effulgent Vedic brother-horsemen the Ashvins, the Lithuanian Ašvieniai, the Germanic Alcis, and the Venetic Alkomnoi of Este.

The Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras (Sanskrit: aśvin-, dual aśvinau), in Hindu mythology, are two Vedic gods, divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranyu, a goddess of the clouds and wife of Surya in his form as Vivasvant.

Nasatya and Darsa are names of ashvins. They symbolise the shining of sunrise and sunset, appearing in the sky before the dawn in a golden chariot, bringing treasures to men and averting misfortune and sickness. They are the doctors of gods and are devas of Ayurvedic medicine. They are represented as humans with the heads of horses.

In the epic Mahabharata, King Pandu’s wife Madri is granted a son by each Ashvin and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, along with the sons of Kunti, are known as the Pandavas.

The Ashvins are analagous to the Proto-Indo-European horse twins. Their cognates in other Indo-European mythologies include the Baltic Ašvieniai, the Greek Castor and Polydeuces, the English Hengist and Horsa, and the Welsh Bran and Manawydan.

Castor and Pollux aspired to marry the Leucippides (“daughters of the white horse”), Phoebe and Hilaeira, whose father was a brother of Leucippus (“white horse”). Both women were already betrothed to cousins of the Dioscuri, the twin brothers Lynceus and Idas of Thebes, sons of Tyndareus’s brother Aphareus.

Castor and Pollux carried the women off to Sparta wherein each had a son; Phoebe bore Mnesileos to Pollux and Hilaeira bore Anogon to Castor. This began a family feud among the four sons of the brothers Tyndareus and Aphareus.

The Etruscans venerated the twins as Kastur and Pultuce, collectively the tinas cliniiaras, “sons of Tinia,” the Etruscan counterpart of Zeus. Tinia was the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. He was the husband of Thalna or Uni and the father of Hercle.

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, starting with the Sumeric cultures, from the two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.


Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In classical Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the sky. Uranus is also associated with Wednesday, alongside Mercury (since Uranus is in the higher octave of Mercury).

The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and is exalted in Libra (lower octave of Pisces), is in fall in Aries (lower octave of Scorpio), and detriment in Cancer (lower octave of Virgo). Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers refer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius.

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice.

Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt astronomy, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation came to be represented simply as a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus.

Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods. Neighboring Aquila represents the eagle, under Zeus’ command, that snatched the young boy; some versions of the myth indicate that the eagle was in fact Zeus transformed.

An alternative version of the tale recounts Ganymede’s kidnapping by the goddess of the dawn, Eos, motivated by her affection for young men; Zeus then stole him from Eos and employed him as cup-bearer. Yet another figure associated with the water bearer is Cecrops I, a king of Athens who sacrificed water instead of wine to the gods.

She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug.

Later as Gula and in medical incantations Bēlet or Balāti, also as the Azugallatu the “great healer”, same as her son Damu. The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Gula was the goddess of healing and medicine.

Her epithets are “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, a “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative power. After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind.

The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions. In the Neo-Babylonian period, she also had an oneiric quality. She had sometimes violent nature as the “queen whose ‘tempest’, like a raging storm, makes heaven tremble, makes earth quake”). She was a source for blasphemous remarks where Gula and her dogs are mentioned in formulae of a curse.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta, also known as Ninĝirsu, a Mesopotamian god of farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war. Under the name Ninurta, his wife is usually the goddess Gula, but, as Ninĝirsu, his wife is the goddess Bau.

In the earliest records, he is a god of agriculture and healing, who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons. In later times, as Mesopotamia grew more militarized, he became a warrior deity, though he retained many of his earlier agricultural attributes.

In artistic representations, Ninurta is shown as a warrior, carrying a bow and arrow and clutching Sharur, his magic talking mace. He sometimes has a set of wings, raised upright, ready to attack. Ninurta remained closely associated with agricultural symbolism as late as the middle of the second millennium BC. On kudurrus from the Kassite Period (c. 1600 — c. 1155 BC), a plough is captioned as a symbol of Ninĝirsu. The plough also appears in Neo-Assyrian art, possibly as a symbol of Ninurta.

In Babylonian art, he is often shown standing on the back of or riding a beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion. A perched bird is also used as a symbol of Ninurta during the Neo-Assyrian Period.

One speculative hypothesis holds that the winged disc originally symbolized Ninurta during the ninth century BC, but was later transferred to Aššur and the sun-god Shamash. This idea is based on some early representations in which the god on the winged disc appears to have the tail of a bird.

Astronomers of the eighth and seventh centuries BC identified Ninurta (or Pabilsaĝ) with the constellation Sagittarius. Alternatively, others identified him with the star Sirius, which was known in Akkadian as šukūdu, meaning “arrow”. The constellation of Canis Major, of which Sirius is the most visible star, was known as qaštu, meaning “bow”, after the bow and arrow Ninurta was believed to carry. In Babylonian times, Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn.

Gula was sometimes alternately said to be the wife of the god Pabilsaĝ or the minor vegetation god Abu. The Sumerian name Pabilsag is composed of two elements – Pabil, meaning ‘elder paternal kinsman’ and Sag, meaning ‘chief, head’. The name may thus be translated as the ‘Forefather’ or ‘Chief Ancestor’.


Pabilsag is reminiscent of modern depictions of Sagittarius. Pabilsag was given the epithet of “the wild bull with multicoloured legs”. He is represented in the constellation Sagittarius, the ninth astrological sign, which spans 240–270th degrees of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between approximately November 23 and December 21. Along with Aries and Leo, Sagittarius is a part of the Fire Trigon.

Its name is Latin for the archer, and its symbol is a stylized arrow. Sagittarius is commonly represented as a centaur pulling-back a bow. The image of the sign says a lot about his features: he’s able to be extremely violent or wise, brave or mild. The symbol of the zodiac sign is a Centaur armed with arrows following an old tradition coming from Ancient Greece and from other cultures of the past.

Sagittarius is Greek mythology associates Sagittarius with the centaur, the half human and half horse, Chiron, who mentored Achilles, a Greek hero of the Trojan War, in archery. The learned healer whose higher intelligence forms a bridge between Earth and Heaven. Also known as the Archer, Sagittarius is represented by the symbol of a bow and arrow.

The Babylonians identified Sagittarius as the god Nergal, a strange centaur-like creature firing an arrow from a bow. It is generally depicted with wings, with two heads, one panther head and one human head, as well as a scorpion’s stinger raised above its more conventional horse’s tail.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only 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”. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. 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 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 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.

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 Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. However, perhaps due to the Greeks’ adoption of the Sumerian constellation, some confusion surrounds the identity of the archer.

Some identify Sagittarius as the centaur Chiron, the son of Philyra and Cronus, who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea, and tutor to Jason. As there are two centaurs in the sky, some identify Chiron with the other constellation, known as Centaurus. Or, as an alternative tradition holds, that Chiron devised the constellations Sagittarius and Centaurus to help guide the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Crotus, son of Pan, who Greeks credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery.

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the “heart of the scorpion”, and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius’s slaying of Orion.


A lamassu (an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird 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.

Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. It is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion bearing a human head, bull’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings.

It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. 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. The colossal entranceway figures were often followed by a hero grasping a wriggling lion, also colossal in scale and in high relief.

The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, and were placed as sentinels at entrances. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with a lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

Poseidon and the race of lords/giants

Anatolian religion

Kubau and Zababa

Apocalyptic literature

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction

White horse (mythology)

Life Phases of Kalki Avatar

Destroyer and deliverer: The true meaning of Vishnu’s Kalki avatar

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