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
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Bull of Heaven

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 24, 2018

The Moon

Nanna (Sumerian: ŠEŠ.KI, NANNA) was the Sumerian god of the moon. He became identified with the Semitic Sīn or Suen (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn). The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sīn’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north. A moon god by the same name was also worshipped in South Arabia.

Sīn was also a protector of shepherds. During the period in which Ur exercised supremacy over the Euphrates valley (between 2600 and 2400 BC), Sīn was considered the supreme god and regarded as the head of the pantheon. It is to this period that we must trace such designations of Sin as “father of the gods”, “chief of the gods”, “creator of all things”, and the like.

He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”. The “wisdom” personified by the moon-god is likewise an expression of the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon’s phases is an important factor. He was also called “He whose heart can not be read” and was told that “he could see farther than all the gods”.

It is said that every new moon, the gods gather together from him to make predictions about the future. On cylinder seals, he is represented as an old man with a flowing beard and the crescent symbol. In the astral-theological system he is represented by the number 30 and the moon. This number probably refers to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.

He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil. His wife was Ningal (“Great Lady”), who bore him Utu/Shamash (“Sun”) and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children. He was also the father of Ishkur.

Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and rode on a winged bull. The bull was one of his symbols, through his father, Enlil, the “Bull of Heaven”, along with the crescent and the tripod (which may be a lamp-stand). An important Sumerian text (“Enlil and Ninlil”) tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three “substitutions” are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as “The Descent of Inanna”.

Enlil – The “Bull of Heaven”

Enlil, later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. The Mesopotamians envisioned him as a creator, a father, a king, and the supreme lord of the universe. According to one Sumerian hymn, Enlil himself was so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him.

Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth; he separates An (heaven) from Ki (earth), thus making the world habitable for humans. In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil’s serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Enlil also features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale.

Enlil was regarded as the inventor of the mattock and the patron of agriculture. The Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being. One Sumerian hymn describes Enlil as so glorious that even the other gods could not look upon him. The same hymn also states that, without Enlil, civilization could not exist.

He is also sometimes referred to in Sumerian texts as Nunamnir. His epithets include titles such as “the Great Mountain” and “King of the Foreign Lands”. Enlil is also sometimes described as a “raging storm”, a “wild bull”, and a “merchant”. He is referred to in at least one text as the “East Wind and North Wind”.

Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur. His cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was eventually supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk. The Babylonian god Bel was a syncretic deity of Enlil, Marduk, and the dying god Dumuzid.

Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth; he separates An (heaven) from Ki (earth), thus making the world habitable for humans. In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil’s serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Enlil was regarded as the inventor of the mattock and the patron of agriculture. Enlil also features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale.

The story of Enlil’s courtship with Ninlil is primarily a genealogical myth invented to explain the origins of the moon-god Nanna, as well as the various gods of the Underworld, but it is also, to some a extent, a coming-of-age story describing Enlil and Ninlil’s emergence from adolescence into adulthood. The story also explains Ninlil’s role as Enlil’s consort; in the poem, Ninlil declares, “As Enlil is your master, so am I also your mistress!”

Enlil’s primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the “mooring-rope” of heaven and earth, meaning that it was seen as “a channel of communication between earth and heaven.

The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur composed around the time of the fall of Ur to the Elamites and the end of the city’s third dynasty (c. 2000 BC). It contains one of five known Mesopotamian “city laments” – dirges for ruined cities in the voice of the city’s tutelary goddess.

The Book of Lamentations of the Old Testament, which bewails the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in the sixth century B.C., is similar in style and theme to these earlier Mesopotamian laments. Similar laments can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Psalms, Psalm 137 (Psalms 137:1-9).

Boötes

The Sumerians had a complex numerological system, in which certain numbers were believed to hold special ritual significance. Within this system, Enlil was associated with the number fifty, which was considered sacred to him.

Enlil was part of a triad of deities, which also included An and Enki. These three deities together were the embodiment of all the fixed stars in the night sky. An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky.

The path of Enlil’s celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points. Enlil was associated with the constellation Boötes.

The path of Enlil’s celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points. Enlil was associated with the constellation Boötes, a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”). The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”.

In ancient Mesopotamia, the stars of Boötes were linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a plowman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes relates that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Another myth associated with Boötes by Hyginus is that of Icarius, who was schooled as a grape farmer and winemaker by Dionysus. Icarius made wine so strong that those who drank it appeared poisoned, which caused shepherds to avenge their supposedly poisoned friends by killing Icarius.

Maera, Icarius’ dog, brought his daughter Erigone to her father’s body, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide. Zeus then chose to honor all three by placing them in the sky as constellations: Icarius as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major or Canis Minor.

Following another reading, the constellation is identified with Arcas and also referred to as Arcas and Arcturus, son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas was brought up by his maternal grandfather Lycaon, to whom one day Zeus went and had a meal.

To verify that the guest was really the king of the gods, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal made from his flesh. Zeus noticed and became very angry, transforming Lycaon into a wolf and giving life back to his son.

In the meantime Callisto had been transformed into a she-bear by Zeus’s wife Hera, who was angry at Zeus’s infidelity. This is corroborated by the Greek name for Boötes, Arctophylax, which means “Bear Watcher”. Callisto, in the form of a bear was almost killed by her son, who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her, taking her into the sky where she became Ursa Major, “the Great Bear”.

Arcturus

The traditional name Arcturus, the name of the constellation’s brightest star, comes from the Greek word Arktouros, meaning “guardian of the bear”, ultimately from ἄρκτος (arktos), “bear” and ouros, “watcher, guardian”.

It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. Sometimes Arcturus is depicted as leading the hunting dogs of nearby Canes Venatici and driving the bears of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

In the Hebrew scriptures Arcturus is referred to in Job 38:32. In the Middle Ages, Arcturus was considered a Behenian fixed star. Cornelius Agrippa listed its kabbalistic sign under the alternate name Alchameth.

In Arabic, Arcturus is one of two stars called al-simāk “the uplifted ones” (the other is Spica). Arcturus is specified as as-simāk ar-rāmiħ “the uplifted one of the lancer”. The term Al Simak Al Ramih has appeared in Al Achsasi Al Mouakket catalogue (translated into Latin as Al Simak Lanceator).

This has been variously romanized in the past, leading to obsolete variants such as Aramec and Azimech. For example, the name Alramih is used in Geoffrey Chaucer’s A Treatise on the Astrolabe.

Another Arabic name is Haris-el-sema, from ħāris al-samā’ “the keeper of heaven” or ħāris al-shamāl’ “the keeper of north”. Arcturus was once again called by its classical name from the Renaissance onwards.

In Chinese astronomy, Arcturus is called Da Jiao (“great horn”), because it is the brightest star in the Chinese constellation called Jiao Xiu (“horn star”). Later it become a part of another constellation Kang Xiu (“The Neck mansion”), one of the eastern mansions of the Azure Dragon.

In Indian Astrology or Vedic Astrology or Sidereal Astrology, Arcturus is called Swati which is a word meaning “very beneficent” derived from the language Sanskrit. It is the eponymous star of one of the nakshatras (lunar mansions) of Hindu astrology.

Dendera Zodiac Disc

The sculptured Dendera zodiac (or Denderah zodiac) is a widely known Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos (or portico) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera, containing images of Taurus (the bull) and the Libra (the scales).

The zodiac is a planisphere or map of the stars on a plane projection, showing the 12 constellations of the zodiacal band forming 36 decans of ten days each, and the planets. These decans are groups of first-magnitude stars. These were used in the ancient Egyptian calendar, which was based on lunar cycles of around 30 days and on the heliacal rising of the star Sothis (Sirius).

Its representation of the zodiac in circular form is unique in ancient Egyptian art. More typical are the rectangular zodiacs which decorate the same temple’s pronaos. The celestial arch is represented by a disc held up by four pillars of the sky in the form of women, between which are inserted falcon-headed spirits. On the first ring 36 spirits symbolize the 360 days of the Egyptian year.

On an inner circle, one finds constellations, showing the signs of the zodiac. Some of these are represented in the same Greco-Roman iconographic forms as their familiar counterparts (e.g. the Ram, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn, albeit most in odd orientations in comparison to the conventions of ancient Greece and later Arabic-Western developments. Others are shown in a more Egyptian form. Aquarius is represented as the flood god Hapy, holding two vases which gush water.

Rogers noted the similarities of unfamiliar iconology with the three surviving tablets of a “Seleucid zodiac” and both relating to kudurru, “boundary-stone” representations: in short, Rogers sees the Dendera zodiac as “a complete copy of the Mesopotamian zodiac”.

The centre of the Dendera Zodiac Disc is seen as the most important detail on the disc itself, as it carries what some refer to as the ‘Genesis Symbols’ however as I proposed in 2003 the three stars (with the red glow ) and the Bull’s leg are what appear to be three Sun-like stars of the Egyptian ‘gods’ and the Bull’s leg.

The bull’s leg symbol is connected to Taweret the hippo deity which has been claimed to highlight the ‘northern circumpolar stars’. The leg symbol represents a cluster of seven stars. They represent the Plough constellation also known as the Big Dipper or Ursa Major.

Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. The foreleg of ox (a foreleg with the thigh) hieroglyph of Ancient Egypt is an old hieroglyph; it even represented a nighttime constellation (the Big Dipper, Maskheti). It came to have many uses in Ancient Egypt over three millennia.

In the New Kingdom Taweret’s image was frequently used to represent a northern constellation in zodiacs in Egyptian astronomy. She was thought to keep the northern sky – a place of darkness, cold, mist, and rain to the Egyptians – free of evil. She was believed to be a guardian of the north, stopping all who were unworthy before they could pass her by.

In all of the ancient Egyptian astronomical diagrams there is one figure which is always larger than all the rest, and most frequently found at the center of what appears to be a horizontal parade of figures. This figure is Taweret “The Great One”, a goddess depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus standing upright.

This figure represents a northern constellation associated, at least in part, with our modern constellation of Draco the dragon. She was shown to represent the never-setting circumpolar stars of Ursa Minor and Draco. The seven stars lined down her back are the stars of the Little Dipper.

In this role she was known as Nebetakhet, the Mistress of the Horizon – the ceiling painting of the constellations in the tomb of Seti I showed her in this capacity. The image of this astral Taweret appears almost exclusively next to the Setian foreleg of a bull. The latter image represents the Big Dipper and is associated with the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth.

The relationship between the two images is discussed in the Book of Day and Night (a cosmically focused mythological text from the Twentieth Dynasty, c. 1186–1069 BCE) as follows: “As to this foreleg of Seth, it is in the northern sky, tied down to two mooring posts of flint by a chain of gold. It is entrusted to Isis as a hippopotamus guarding it.”

Although the hippopotamus goddess is identified in this text as Isis, not Taweret, this phenomenon is not uncommon in later periods of Egyptian history. When assuming a protective role, powerful goddesses like Isis, Hathor, and Mut assumed the form of Taweret, effectively becoming a manifestation of this goddess.

Taweret the hippo deity is said to be the goddess of childbirth and some even suggest is a Genesis symbol of Egypt. Taweret literally means “the great female”, “she who is great” or simply “great one” , a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities, but she was also known as “Ipet” (“harem”) and “Reret” (“the sow”). At one point in history there may have been three variants of the goddess, but soon all were merged as Taweret.

Her family relationships were typically confusing. She was ocassionally (usually in older texts) described as the demon-wife of Apep who also lived in the northern sky, thought to be cold, dark and potentially dangerous and associated with both Apep or Apophis and Set (Egyptian: stẖ; also transliterated Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty), a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners.

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

According to one ancient myth, her husband Apep could only come out during the night and so she represented all that was evil during the day. As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. While in most texts Apep is described as a giant snake, he is sometimes depicted as a crocodile.

However, by the Old Kingdom she was seen as a protective, rather than an aggressive force (just as female hippos came to be seen as aggressive largely in defence of their young). As a result, Taweret became a mother goddess and a patron of childbirth who was often described as the mother or wet nurse of the pharaoh. As time passed she soon became a household deity, helping rich and poor alike.

One myth (reported by Plutarch) claimed that Taweret was the concubine of Set but that she was loyal to Horus. Apparently, she helped Isis after the death of her husband Osiris by detaining Set in the northern sky and preventing him from attacking Isis and her new baby.

Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled (remembered) Osiris’ corpse and resurrected her dead husband long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts.

Set’s siblings are Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. He married Nephthys and fathered Anubis; and in some accounts he had relationships with the foreign goddesses Anat, and Astarte. The link to Set probably came about because he sometimes took the form of a Hippo and because the animal was recognised to be potentially dangerous and destructive.

Taurus

Taurus (Latin: Bull) is the second astrological sign in the present zodiac. It spans from 30° to 60° of the zodiac. The bull is its zodiac symbol. This sign belongs to the Earth triplicty. It has a Fixed modality with a feminine polarity. It is ruled by Venus and it is the sign where the Moon is exalted. The Sun transits in the sign of Taurus from approximately April 21 until May 20 in Western astrology.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

Taurus was the first sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians, who called it as the Bull of Heaven, as it was the constellation through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox at that time. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”.

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

Due to the precession of the equinox, it has since passed through the constellation Aries and into the constellation Pisces (hence our current era being known as The Age of Pisces). Cults centered around Sacred bulls began to form in Assyria, Egypt, and Crete during the Age of Taurus, known as “The Age of Earth, Agriculture, and the Bull”.

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

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

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation is depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. Among the arctic people known as the Inuit, the constellation is called Sakiattiat and the Hyades is Nanurjuk, with the latter representing the spirit of the polar bear. Aldebaran represents the bear, with the remainder of the stars in the Hyades being dogs that are holding the beast at bay.

In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.

Bull of Heaven

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

In the Old Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. In Tablet VI of the standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar demands the Bull of Heaven from her father Anu after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull together and Enkidu hurls the Bull’s right thigh at Ishtar, taunting her. Enkidu tears off the bull’s hind part and hurls the quarters into the sky where they become the stars we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

The Bull was identified with the constellation Taurus and the myth of its slaying may have held astronomical significance to the ancient Mesopotamians. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

This act of impiety results in the gods condemning Enkidu to death, an event which catalyzes Gilgamesh’s fear for his own death, which drives the remaining portion of the epic. Aspects of the story have been compared to later tales from the ancient Near East, including legends from Ugarit, the tale of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, and parts of the ancient Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

In Sumerian religion, Gugalanna is the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld. Some scholars consider Gugalanna to be the same figure as the Bull of Heaven, slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

His name probably originally meant “canal inspector of An” and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology the attendant and throne-bearer of Enlil.

The son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna is Ninazu, a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, and was the father of Ningiszida.

Ninazu was the patron deity of the city of Eshnunna until he was superseded by Tispak. His sanctuaries were the E-sikul and E-kurma. Unlike his close relative Nergal, he was generally benevolent. In the text Enki and Ninhursag he was described as the consort of Ninsutu, one of the deities born to relieve the illness of Enki.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Inanna, the goddess of love, beauty, sex, and war, tells the gatekeeper Neti that she is descending to the Underworld to attend the funeral of “Gugalanna, the husband of my elder sister Ereshkigal”.

Pan

Capricornus is also sometimes identified as Pan, the god with a goat’s head, who saved himself from the monster Typhon by giving himself a fish’s tail and diving into a river. Aegocerus “goat-horned” was an epithet of Pan descriptive of his figure with the horns of a goat.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, rustic music and impromptus, and companion of the nymphs. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism. The word panic ultimately derives from the god’s name.

A myth reported as Egyptian in Hyginus’ Poetic Astronomy that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aegipan was attacked by the monster Typhon he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.

The goat-god Aegipan was nurtured by Amalthea with the infant Zeus in Crete. In Zeus’ battle with Typhon, Aegipan and Hermes stole back Zeus’ “sinews” that Typhon had hidden away in the Corycian Cave. Pan aided his foster-brother in the battle with the Titans by letting out a horrible screech and scattering them in terror. According to some traditions, Aegipan was the son of Pan, rather than his father.

Pan has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun, a mythological half human–half goat creature appearing in Ancient Rome, or satyr, who were wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Dionysus, with a distinct origin.

The Fauns borrowed their appearance from the god Pan of the Greek pantheon. They were a symbol of fertility, and their chieftain was Silenus, a minor deity of Greek mythology. They inspired fear in men traveling in lonely, remote or wild places. They were also capable of guiding humans in need.

The goat man, more commonly affiliated with the Satyrs of Greek mythology or Fauns of Roman, is a bipedal creature with the legs and tail of a goat and the head and torso of a man and is often depicted with goat’s horns and pointed ears.

Fauns and satyrs were originally quite different creatures: whereas fauns are half-man and half-goat, satyrs originally were depicted as stocky, hairy, ugly dwarves or woodwoses with the ears and tails of horses or asses. Satyrs also were more woman-loving than fauns, and fauns were rather foolish where satyrs had more knowledge.

With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognized as the god of fields, groves, wooded glens and often affiliated with sex; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. Many modern scholars consider Pan to be derived from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European god *Péhusōn, whom these scholars believe to have been an important pastoral deity (*Péhusōn shares an origin with the modern English word “pasture”).

In his earliest appearance Pan is associated with a mother goddess, perhaps Rhea or Cybele; Pindar refers to maidens worshipping Cybele and Pan near the poet’s house in Boeotia.

In Roman religion and myth, Pan’s counterpart was the nature god Faunus, the horned god of the forest, plains and fields. A goddess of like attributes, called Fauna and Fatua, was associated in his worship. She was regarded as his daughter, wife, or sister.

The female deity Bona Dea (“Good Goddess”) was often equated with Fauna. Most often, she was identified as the wife, sister, or daughter of the god Faunus, thus an equivalent or aspect of the nature-goddess Fauna, who could prophesy the fates of women.

Bona Dea was associated with chastity and fertility in Roman women, healing, and the protection of the state and people of Rome. According to Roman literary sources, she was brought from Magna Graecia at some time during the early or middle Republic, and was given her own state cult on the Aventine Hill.

Her rites allowed women the use of strong wine and blood-sacrifice, things otherwise forbidden them by Roman tradition. Men were barred from her mysteries and the possession of her true name. In Cato’s De Agricultura it is stated that Mars Silvanus’ connection with agriculture referred to only the labour performed by men, and that females were excluded from his worship.

Given that male authors had limited knowledge of her rites and attributes, ancient speculations about her identity abound, among them that she was an aspect of Terra, Ops, Cybele, or Ceres, or a Latin form of the Greek goddess “Damia” (Demeter).

While several etymologists in antiquity derived the names Fauna and Faunus from fari, “to speak,” Macrobius said Fauna’s name derived from faveo, favere, “to favor, nurture,” “because she nurtures all that is useful to living creatures.” Dumézil regarded her as “the Favorable.”

There are a number of theories on the origin of the name Faunus. Most scholars of historical linguistics connect Faunus with the notion of divine favour (Latin ‘favere’ – to be favourable, inclined). Faunus thus means favourable or propitious.

Faunus was closely associated with Sylvanus (meaning “of the woods” in Latin), a Roman tutelary deity of woods and fields, due to their similar relationships with woodlands. As protector of the forest (sylvestris deus), he especially presided over plantations and delighted in trees growing wild.

He is also described as a god watching over the fields and husbandmen, protecting in particular the boundaries of fields. The similarly named Etruscan deity Selvans may be a borrowing of Silvanus, or not even related in origin.

Silvanus is described as the divinity protecting the flocks of cattle, warding off wolves, and promoting their fertility. Dolabella, a rural engineer of whom only a few pages are known, states that Silvanus was the first to set up stones to mark the limits of fields.

Like other gods of woods and flocks, Silvanus is described as fond of music; the syrinx was sacred to him, and he is mentioned along with the Pans and Nymphs. Later speculators even identified Silvanus with Pan, Faunus, Inuus and Aegipan. He must have been associated with the Italian Mars, for Cato refers to him as Mars Silvanus.

In ancient Roman religion, Inuus was a god, or aspect of a god, who embodied sexual intercourse. The evidence for him as a distinct entity is scant.

Maurus Servius Honoratus wrote that Inuus is an epithet of Faunus (Greek Pan), named from his habit of intercourse with animals, based on the etymology of ineundum, “a going in, penetration,” from inire, “to enter” in the sexual sense. Other names for the god were Fatuus and Fatulcus.

The Rigvedic god Pushan, a Vedic solar deity and one of the Adityas, is believed to be a cognate of Pan. He is the god of meeting. Pushan was responsible for marriages, journeys, roads, and the feeding of cattle. He was a psychopomp (soul guide), conducting souls to the other world.

He protected travelers from bandits and wild beasts, and protected men from being exploited by other men. He was a supportive guide, a “good” god, leading his adherents towards rich pastures and wealth. He carried a golden lance, a symbol of activity.

Maia

According to Macrobius, the Books of the Pontiffs treated Bona Dea, Fauna, Ops, and Fatua as names for the same goddess, Maia. Her name is related to maia, an honorific term for older women related to mētēr (“mother”). Maia also means “midwife” in Greek.

In an archaic Roman prayer, Maia appears as an attribute of Vulcan, in an invocational list of male deities paired with female abstractions representing some aspect of their functionality. She was explicitly identified with Earth (Terra, the Roman counterpart of Gaia) and the Good Goddess (Bona Dea) in at least one tradition.

Her identity became theologically intertwined also with the goddesses Fauna, Ops, Juno, Carna, and the Magna Mater (“Great Goddess”, referring to the Roman form of Cybele but also a cult title for Maia), as discussed at some length by the late antiquarian writer Macrobius.

This treatment was probably influenced by the 1st-century BC scholar Varro, who tended to resolve a great number of goddesses into one original “Terra”. The association with Juno, whose Etruscan counterpart was Uni, is suggested again by the inscription Uni Mae on the Piacenza Liver.

Maia is the daughter of Atlas and Pleione the Oceanid, water nymphs who were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys, and is the oldest of the seven Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters”. She is the mother of Hermes.

According to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, Zeus in the dead of night secretly begot Hermes upon Maia, who avoided the company of the gods, in a cave of Cyllene. After giving birth to the baby, Maia wrapped him in blankets and went to sleep.

The rapidly maturing infant Hermes crawled away to Thessaly, where by nightfall of his first day he stole some of his half-brother Apollo’s cattle and invented the lyre from a tortoise shell. Maia refused to believe Apollo when he claimed that Hermes was the thief, and Zeus then sided with Apollo. Finally, Apollo exchanged the cattle for the lyre, which became one of his identifying attributes.

Maia also raised the infant Arcas, the child of Callisto with Zeus. Wronged by the love affair, Zeus’ wife Hera in a jealous rage had transformed Callisto into a bear. Arcas is the eponym of Arcadia, where Maia was born. The story of Callisto and Arcas, like that of the Pleiades, is an aition for a stellar formation, the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Great and Little Bear.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Maia embodied the concept of growth, as her name was thought to be related to the comparative adjective maius, maior “larger, greater”. Originally, she may have been a homonym independent of the Greek Maia, whose myths she absorbed through the Hellenization of Latin literature and culture.

The month of May (Latin Maius) was supposedly named for Maia, though ancient etymologists also connected it to the maiores “ancestors”, again from the adjective maius, maior, meaning those who are “greater” in terms of generational precedence.

On the first day of May, the Lares Praestites were honored as protectors of the city, and the flamen of Vulcan sacrificed a pregnant sow to Maia, a customary offering to an earth goddess that reiterates the link between Vulcan and Maia in the archaic prayer formula.

In Roman myth, Mercury (Hermes), the son of Maia, was the father of the twin Lares, a genealogy that sheds light on the collocation of ceremonies on the Kalends of May. On May 15, the Ides, Mercury was honored as a patron of merchants and increaser of profit (through an etymological connection with merx, merces, “goods, merchandise”), another possible connection with Maia his mother as a goddess who promoted growth.

Pleiades

Taurus hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades and the Hyades, both of which are visible to the naked eye. The brightest member of this constellation is Aldebaran.

Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky. Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V or K-shaped asterism of stars.

This outline is created by prominent members of the Hyades, the nearest distinct open star cluster after the Ursa Major Moving Group. In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull’s bloodshot eye, which has been described as “glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion”, a constellation that lies just to the southwest.

The Pleiades, companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and are sometimes called mountain nymphs. They were the sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides.

The Pleiades were nymphs in the train of Artemis, and together with the seven Hyades were called the Atlantides, Dodonides, or Nysiades, nursemaids and teachers to the infant Dionysus. They were thought to have been translated to the night sky as a cluster of stars, the Pleiades, and were associated with rain.

Classicists debate the origin of the name Pleiades. It ostensibly derives from the name of their mother, Pleione, effectively meaning “daughters of Pleione”. However, the name of the star-cluster likely came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it.

According to another suggestion Pleiades derives from (plein , “to sail”) because of the cluster’s importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea: “the season of navigation began with their heliacal rising”.

After Atlas was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.

The Pleiades would “flee mighty Orion and plunge into the misty deep” as they set in the West, which they would begin to do just before dawn during October–November, a good time of the year to lay up your ship after the fine summer weather and “remember to work the land”. In Mediterranean agriculture autumn is the time to plough and sow.

The Bull of Heaven’ (Babylonian Star Lore of Taurus)

The Bull of Heaven I and 

 

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