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 Origin of Raouché, Lebanon

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on January 15, 2020

Raouché (Arabic: الروشة‎, romanized: ar-Rawše) is a residential and commercial neighborhood in Beirut Central District, Beirut, Lebanon. It is known for its upscale apartment buildings, numerous restaurants, and cliff-side cafés that line Avenue de Paris, a seaside promenade which forms part of the Corniche Beirut.

Corniche Beirut has its foundation in the Avenue des Français, which was built during the period of the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon along the seafront that extended from the old town.

The corniche or the wide, seaside sidewalk of Avenue de Paris is popular on weekends and evenings where strollers and joggers crowd the pavements. Lined with palm trees, the waterfront esplanade has views of the Mediterranean and the summits of Mount Lebanon to the east.

Off the coast of Raouché, located at Beirut’s westernmost tip, there is a natural landmark called the Pigeons’ Rock (also known as the Rock of Raouché). The two huge rock formations, which stand like gigantic sentinels, are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Some historians believe that the word “raouché” derives from the Aramaic word rosh or Arabic word ras, both meaning head. Other historians argue that it is a corruption of the French word roche (rocher), meaning rock.

Raouché is also claimed to be the remains of a sea monster the Greek hero Perseus killed to save Andromeda, in the Greek myth the daughter of the Aethiopian king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia. She was chained to a rock to be eaten by the sea monster

Perseus beheaded the Gorgon Medusa for Polydectes and saved Andromeda from being sacrificed to the sea monster Cetus. The stone is rock as Perseus used Medusa’s head on the monster to turn it into stone. In a different story, Heracles slayed Cetus to save Hesione.

When Cassiopeia’s hubris leads her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sends the sea monster Cetus to ravage Andromeda as divine punishment. According to one version, Perseus drove his sword into Cetus’s back, while according to another version, he used Medusa’s head to turn the monster into stone.

Andromeda is chained to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but is saved from death by Perseus. Her name is the Latinized form of the Greek Androméda or Andromédē (“ruler of men”), from anēr. andrós (“man”) and medō (“I protect, rule over”).

As a subject, Andromeda has been popular in art since classical times; it is one of several Greek myths of a Greek hero’s rescue of the intended victim of an archaic hieros gamos (sacred marriage), giving rise to the “princess and dragon” motif.

In Ancient Greek kētŏs (plural kētē=kētea), Latinized as cetus (pl. ceti or cetē = cetea), is a great fish, a whale, shark, or sea monster. The term cetacean (for whale) derives from cetus. In Greek art, ceti were depicted as serpentine fish. The name of the mythological figure Ceto is derived from kētos.

Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus, the half-brother and great-grandfather of Heracles, was, alongside Cadmus and Bellerophon, the greatest Greek hero and slayer of monsters before the days of Heracles. In Greek mythology, Perseus is the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty.

Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos. Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consulted the oracle at Delphi, who warned him that he would one day be killed by his daughter’s son.

In a mytheme also connected to Ares, Oenopion, Eurystheus, and others, Acrisius in order to keep Danaë childless imprisoned her in a bronze chamber, open to the sky, in the courtyard of his palace. Zeus came to her in the form of a shower of gold, and impregnated her. Soon after, their child was born; Perseus—”Perseus Eurymedon, for his mother gave him this name as well” (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica IV).

Fearful for his future, but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing the offspring of Zeus and his daughter, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest. Danaë’s fearful prayer, made while afloat in the darkness, has been expressed by the poet Simonides of Ceos.

Mother and child washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by the fisherman Dictys (“fishing net”), who raised the boy to manhood. The brother of Dictys was Polydectes (“he who receives/welcomes many”), the king of the island.

When Perseus was grown, Polydectes came to fall in love with the beautiful Danaë. Perseus believed Polydectes was less than honourable, and protected his mother from him; then Polydectes plotted to send Perseus away in disgrace. He held a large banquet where each guest was expected to bring a gift.

Polydectes requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand of Hippodamia, daughter of Oinomaos. Perseus had no horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to name the gift; he would not refuse it.

Polydectes held Perseus to his rash promise and demanded the head of the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, whose gaze turned people to stone. Ovid’s account of Medusa’s mortality tells that she had once been a woman, vain of her beautiful hair.

Poseidon, the god of the seas, sexually assaulted her inside a temple dedicated to Athena, and as punishment for the desecration of her temple, Athena had changed Medusa’s hair into hideous snakes “that she may alarm her surprised foes with terror”.

Athena instructed Perseus to find the Hesperides, who were entrusted with weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon. Following Athena’s guidance, Perseus sought the Greae, sisters of the Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of the Hesperides, the nymphs tending Hera’s orchard.

The Graeae were three perpetually old women, who shared a single eye. As the women passed the eye from one to another, Perseus snatched it from them, holding it for ransom in return for the location of the nymphs. When the sisters led him to the Hesperides, he returned what he had taken.

From the Hesperides he received a knapsack (kibisis) to safely contain Medusa’s head. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword (a Harpe) and Hades’ helm of darkness to hide. Hermes lent Perseus winged sandals to fly, and Athena gave him a polished shield. Perseus then proceeded to the Gorgons’ cave.

In the cave he came upon the sleeping Medusa. By viewing Medusa’s reflection in his polished shield, he safely approached and cut off her head. From her neck sprang Pegasus (“he who sprang”) and Chrysaor (“sword of gold”), the result of Poseidon and Medusa’s mating.

The other two Gorgons pursued Perseus, but, wearing his helm of darkness, he escaped. From here he proceeded to visit King Atlas who had refused him hospitality; in revenge Perseus turned him to stone.

On the way back to Seriphos, Perseus stopped in the kingdom of Aethiopia. Homer (c. 8th century BC) is the first to mention “Aethiopians”; he mentions that they are to be found at the east and west extremities of the world, divided by the sea into “eastern” (at the sunrise) and “western” (at the sunset).

In Rhapsody A of the Iliad, Thetis visits Olympus to meet Zeus, but the meeting is postponed, as Zeus and other gods are absent, visiting the land of the Aethiopians. Hesiod (c. 8th century BC) speaks of Memnon as the “king of Aethiopia”.

In 515 BC, Scylax of Caryanda, on orders from Darius I of the Achaemenid Empire, sailed along the Indus River, Indian Ocean and Red Sea, circumnavigating the Arabian Peninsula. He mentioned “Aethiopians”, but his writings on them have not survived.

Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 500 BC), is the first that mention Ancient Aethiopia, also known as Ethiopia, as a geographical term. He is also said to have written a book about Aethiopia, but his writing is now known only through quotations from later authors.

He stated that Aethiopia was located to the east of the Nile, as far as the Red Sea and Indian Ocean; he is also quoted as relating a myth that the Skiapods (“Shade feet”) lived there, whose feet were supposedly large enough to serve as shade

Aethiopia in classical documents in reference to the upper Nile region, as well as certain areas south of the Sahara desert. Its earliest mention is in the works of Homer: twice in the Iliad, and three times in the Odyssey. The Greek historian Herodotus specifically uses the appellation to refer to such parts of Africa as were then known within the inhabitable world.

In classical antiquity, Africa (or Ancient Libya) referred to what is now known as the Maghreb and south of the Libyan Desert and Western Sahara, including all the desert land west of the southern Nile river.

Geographical knowledge of the continent gradually grew, with the first century AD Greek travelogue the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea describing areas along the Red Sea (Erythraean Sea). The Greek name Αἰθιοπία (from Aithiops, ‘an Ethiopian’) is a compound word, derived from the two Greek words, from aitho (“I burn”) + ops (“face”).

According to the Perseus Digital Library, the designation properly translates as burnt-face in noun form and red-brown in adjectival form. It was used as a vague term for dark-skinned populations since the time of Homer.

It was applied to such dark-skinned populations as came within the range of observation of the ancient geographers i.e. primarily in what was then Nubia, and with the expansion of geographical knowledge, successively extended to certain other areas below the Sahara.

In the legend of Perseus, Aethiopia was ruled by King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, boasted that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the Nērēides (in most later works called by the Roman form, the Nereids).

Cassiopeia, having boasted that her daughter Andromeda was equal in beauty to the Nereids, drew the vengeance and wrath of Poseidon, who sent an inundation on the land and a sea serpent, kētŏs (in a far greater number of European works renamed as the Latinised Cetus), which destroyed man and beast. Poseidon sent the sea monster to attack Aethiopia.

Upon consulting a wise oracle, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia were told to sacrifice Andromeda to Cetus. The oracle of Ammon announced that no relief would be found until the king exposed his daughter Andromeda to the monster, and so she was fastened naked to a rock on the shore.

They had Andromeda chained to a rock near the ocean so that Cetus could devour her. After finding Andromeda chained to the rock and learning of her plight, Perseus managed to slay Cetus when the creature emerged from the ocean to devour her.

Perseus slew the monster and, setting her free, claimed her in marriage. Perseus married Andromeda in spite of Phineus, to whom she had before been promised. At the wedding a quarrel took place between the rivals, and Phineus was turned to stone by the sight of Medusa’s head that Perseus had kept.

Andromeda (“queen of men”) followed her husband to Tiryns in Argos, and became the ancestress of the family of the Perseidae who ruled at Tiryns through her son with Perseus, Perses. After her death she was placed by Athena among the constellations in the northern sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia.

Sophocles and Euripides (and in more modern times Pierre Corneille) made the episode of Perseus and Andromeda the subject of tragedies, and its incidents were represented in many ancient works of art.

As Perseus was flying in his return above the sands of Libya, according to Apollonius of Rhodes, the falling drops of Medusa’s blood created a race of toxic serpents, one of whom was to kill the Argonaut Mopsus.

On returning to Seriphos and discovering that his mother had to take refuge from the violent advances of Polydectes, Perseus killed him with Medusa’s head, and made his brother Dictys, consort of Danaë, king.

Rahab – Tannin

Rahab (Hebrew: רָחָב, Modern: Raẖav, Tiberian: Rāḥāḇ, “broad”, “large”, Arabic: رحاب, a vast space of a land) was, according to the Book of Joshua, a woman who lived in Jericho in the Promised Land and assisted the Israelites in capturing the city by hiding two men who had been sent to reconnoiter the city prior to their attack.

In the New Testament, she is lauded both as an example of a saint who lived by faith, and as someone “considered righteous” for her works. The King James Version renders the name as Rachab, after its literal spelling in Greek, which differs from the spelling for Rahab in James and Hebrews. Most modern versions render it as Rahab ignoring the distinction.

The Hebrew ishah zonah, used to describe Rahab in Joshua 2:1, literally means “a prostitute woman”. In rabbinic texts, however, she is explained as being an “innkeeper,” based on the Aramaic Targum. Rahab’s name is presumably the shortened form of a sentence name rāḥāb-N, “the god N has opened/widened (the womb?)”.

The Hebrew zōnâ may refer to secular or cultic prostitution, and the latter is widely believed to have been an invariable element of Canaanite religious practice, although recent scholarship has disputed this. However, there was a separate word, qědēšâ, that could be used to designate prostitutes of the cultic variety.

Josephus mentions that Rahab kept an inn but is silent as to whether merely renting out rooms was her only source of income. It was not uncommon for both an inn and a brothel to operate within the same building; thus entering Rahab’s quarters was not necessarily a deviation from Joshua’s orders.

Indeed, as Robert Boling notes, such an establishment might have represented an ideal location for spies to gather intelligence. A number of scholars have noted that the narrator in Joshua 2 may have intended to remind the readers of the “immemorial symbiosis between military service and bawdy house”.

In the Christian New Testament, the Epistle of James and the Epistle to the Hebrews follow the tradition set by the translators of the Septuagint in using the Greek word pórnē (which is usually translated to English as “harlot” or “prostitute”) to describe Rahab.

William L. Lyons observed that biblical interpreters have viewed Rahab as a model of hospitality, mercy, faith, patience, and repentance in her interaction with Joshua’s spies. Thus the harlot of Jericho became a paragon of virtue.

Rahab (Modern: Rahav, Tiberian: Rahaḇ, “blusterer” is used in the Hebrew Bible to indicate “rage, fierceness, insolence, pride”) is a poetical and emblematic name of Egypt. It might have Egyptian origins that were accommodated to the Hebrew language. However, there is nothing revealing in the Coptic language.

Rahab is also used for the sea. Before the Medieval adoption of “Rahab” to mean demon or sea-beast, the name also appears in Psalm 89: 5-12 and Isaiah 51:9-10. In medieval Jewish folklore, Rahab (splendour) is a mythical sea-monster, a dragon of the waters, the “demonic angel of the sea”. Rahab is also seen as a deity in the text.

It is often assumed that long before the Jewish mythos, the ancient Jews emulated the creation fables told by their predecessors. Rahab represents the primordial abyss, the water-dragon of darkness and chaos, comparable to Leviathan and Tiamat. Rahab later became a particular demon, inhabitant of the sea, especially associated with the Red Sea.

Rahab, in these passages, takes the meaning of primeval, chaotic, multi-headed sea-dragon or Leviathan, a creature with the form of a sea serpent from Jewish belief, referenced in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Job, Psalms, the Book of Isaiah, and the Book of Amos.

The Leviathan of the Book of Job is a reflection of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Baal Hadad. Leviathan figures in the Hebrew Bible as a metaphor for a powerful enemy, notably Babylon (Isaiah 27:1).

Some 19th century scholars have pragmatically interpreted it as referring to large aquatic creatures, such as the crocodile. The word later came to be used as a term for “great whale”, as well as for sea monsters in general.

Parallels to the role of Mesopotamian Tiamat defeated by Marduk have long been drawn in comparative mythology, as have been wider comparisons to dragon and world serpent narratives such as Indra slaying Vrtra or Thor slaying Jörmungandr.

The name is a derivation from the root lvh “to twine; to join”, with an adjectival suffix ן-‎, with a literal meaning of “wreathed, twisted in folds”. Both the name and the mythological figure are a direct continuation of the Ugaritic sea monster Lôtān, one of the servants of the sea god Yammu defeated by Hadad in the Baal Cycle.

Most scholars agree on describing Lôtān as “the fugitive serpent” (bṯn brḥ) but he may or may not be “the wriggling serpent” (bṯn ʿqltn) or “the mighty one with seven heads” (šlyṭ d.šbʿt rašm). His role seems to have been prefigured by the earlier serpent Têmtum whose death at the hands of Hadad is depicted in Syrian seals of the 18th–16th century BC.

Sea serpents feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East. They are attested by the 3rd millennium BC in Sumerian iconography depicting the god Ninurta overcoming a seven-headed serpent.

It was common for Near Eastern religions to include a Chaoskampf: a cosmic battle between a sea monster representing the forces of chaos and a creator god or culture hero who imposes order by force. The Babylonian creation myth describes Marduk’s defeat of the serpent goddess Tiamat, whose body was used to create the heavens and the earth.

The Babylonians, for example, told of a sky-god, Marduk, and a sea-goddess, Tiamat, battling for supreme power over the other gods, in the Enûma Eliš. It can be speculated these two characters in the Babylonian myth are parallel to the creation stories found in the Biblical passages containing the name Rahab.

They are explicitly listed among the creatures created by God on the fifth day of the Genesis creation narrative, translated in the King James Version as “great whales”. The Septuagint renders the original Hebrew of Genesis 1:21 (haggedolim hattanninim) as (kētē ta megala) in Greek, and this was in turn translated as cete grandia in the Vulgate.

The Ugaritic account has gaps, making it unclear whether some phrases describe him or other monsters at Yammu’s disposal such as Tunannu (the biblical Tannin; Syriac: tannīnā; plural: tannīnē; Arabic:‎ Tinnin; Ugaritic: tnn, vocalized tu-un-na-nu). Along with Rahab, “Tannin” was a name applied to ancient Egypt after the Exodus to Canaan.

The tannin or Tunannu is listed in the apocalypse of Isaiah as among the sea beasts to be slain by Yahweh “on that day”, translated in the King James Version as “the dragon”. In Jewish mythology, Tannin is sometimes conflated with the related sea monsters Leviathan and Rahab.

The monster tannin in the Hebrew Bible has been translated as Greek kētos in the Septuagint, and cetus in the Latin Vulgate. Tanninim (-im denotes Hebraic plural) appear in the Hebrew Book of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Job, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

Tannin was a sea monster in Canaanite, Phoenician, and Hebrew mythology used as a symbol of chaos and evil. The name may derive from a root meaning “howling” or from coiling in a manner like smoke. In modern Hebrew usage the word Tanin means “crocodile.”

Tannin appears in the Baal Cycle as one of the servants of Yam (lit. “Sea”) defeated by Baʿal (lit. “Lord”) or bound by his sister, ʿAnat, a major northwest Semitic goddess. He is usually depicted as serpentine, possibly with a double tail.

The tanninim also appear in the Hebrew Bible’s of Book of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Job, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. They are explicitly listed among the creatures created by God on the fifth day of the Genesis creation narrative, translated in the King James Version as “great whales”.

The tannin is listed in the apocalypse of Isaiah as among the sea beasts to be slain by Yahweh “on that day”, translated in the King James Version as “the dragon”. In Jewish mythology, Tannin is sometimes conflated with the related sea monsters Leviathan and Rahab. Along with Rahab, “Tannin” was a name applied to ancient Egypt after the Exodus to Canaan.

The word “Tannin” is used in the Hebrew Bible fourteen times. Aaron’s staff becomes Tannin in the Book of Exodus (Ex 7:9-12), it is used in the meaning “snake” in the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut 32:33) and Psalms (Ps 91:13).

It represents the Nebuchadnezzar I (the king of Babylon) in Jeremiah (Jer 51:34) and Pharaoh in Ezekiel (Ezek 29:3, 32:2). In the Book of Job (Job 7:12) the protagonist questions God “Am I the sea or the sea dragon that you have set a guard over me?”

Jonah

Jonah or Jonas (“dove”; Arabic: Yunus or Yunaan; Latin: Ionas) is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BCE. In Jonah 2:1 (1:17 in English translation), the Hebrew text reads dag gadol which literally means “great fish”. The Septuagint translates this phrase into Greek as kētei megaloi, meaning “huge fish”.

In Greek mythology, the same word meaning “fish” (kêtos) is used to describe the sea monster slain by the hero Perseus that nearly devoured the Princess Andromeda. This was at the start of more widespread depiction of real whales in Greece and kētos would cover proven whales, sharks and the old meaning of curious sea monsters.

Jerome later translated this phrase as piscis grandis in his Latin Vulgate. However, he translated the Greek word kētos as cetus in Gospel of Matthew 12:40. The English opts for the former: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Jonah is the central figure of the Book of Jonah, in which he is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents of impending divine wrath «for their great wickedness is come up before me».

Instead, Jonah seeks instead to flee from “the presence of the Lord” by going to Jaffa and boards a ship to Tarshish. A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots and learn that Jonah is to blame.

Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard the storm will cease. The sailors try to get the ship to the shore but in failing feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms.

Caught in a storm, he orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard. He is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish specially prepared by God where he spent three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). After Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore.

While in the great fish, Jonah prays to God in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving and to paying what he has vowed. God commands the fish to vomit Jonah out. God again orders Jonah to visit Nineveh and to prophecy to its inhabitants. This time he goes and enters the city crying, “In forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown.”

The people of Nineveh believe his word and proclaim a fast. The king of Nineveh puts on sackcloth and sits in ashes, making a proclamation to decree fasting, sackcloth, prayer, and repentance. God sees their works and spares the city at that time.

Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction.

God shields Jonah from the sun with a plant, but later sends a worm to cause it to wither. When Jonah complains of the bitter heat, God rebukes him. Displeased by this, Jonah refers to his earlier flight to Tarshish while asserting that, since God is merciful, it was inevitable that God would turn from the threatened calamities. He then leaves the city and makes himself a shelter, waiting to see whether or not the city will be destroyed.

God causes a plant (in Hebrew a kikayon) to grow over Jonah’s shelter to give him some shade from the sun. Later, God causes a worm to bite the plant’s root and it withers. Jonah, now being exposed to the full force of the sun, becomes faint and desires that God take him out of the world.

In Judaism, the story of Jonah represents the teaching of teshuva, which is the ability to repent and be forgiven by God. In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself “greater than Jonah” and promises the Pharisees “the sign of Jonah”, which is his resurrection. Early Christian interpreters viewed Jonah as a type for Jesus. Later, during the Reformation, Jonah came to be seen instead as an archetype for the “envious Jew”.

Jonah is regarded as a prophet in Islam and the biblical narrative of Jonah is repeated, with a few notable differences, in the Quran. Mainstream Bible scholars generally regard the Book of Jonah as fictional and often at least partially satirical, but the character of Jonah may have been based on the historical prophet of the same name mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25.

In the 1700-1800 centuries, the species of the fish that swallowed Jonah was the subject of speculation for naturalists, who interpreted the story as an account of a historical incident. Although the word “whale” is often used in English versions of the Jonah story, the Hebrew text actually uses the phrase dag gadol, which means “giant fish”.

Some modern scholars of folklore have noted similarities between Jonah and other legendary figures, such as Gilgamesh and the Greek hero Jason, an ancient Greek mythological hero and leader of the Argonauts, whose quest for the Golden Fleece featured in Greek literature. Nabī Yūnus is the Arabic for “Prophet Jonah”.

Nineveh

The English placename Nineveh comes from Latin Ninive and Septuagint Greek Nineuḗ (Νινευή) under influence of the Biblical Hebrew Nīnewēh from the Akkadian Ninua (var. Ninâ) or Old Babylonian Ninuwā. The city was also known as Ninuwa in Mari, Ninawa in Aramaic and Nainavā in Persian.

The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin.

The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. The city was later said to be devoted to “the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh” and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess.

Inanna

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar.

She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.

Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Atargatis

Atargatis or Ataratheh (Aramaic: ‘Atar’atheh or Tar’atheh) was the chief goddess of northern Syria in Classical antiquity. Ctesias also used the name Derketo for her, and the Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura.

Primarily she was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria.

She has been called “the great mistress of the North Syrian lands”. Her consort is usually Hadad. As Ataratheh, doves and fish were considered sacred to her: doves as an emblem of the Love-Goddess, and fish as symbolic of the fertility and life of the waters.

She is sometimes described as a mermaid-goddess, due to identification of her with a fish-bodied goddess at Ascalon. However, there is no evidence that Atargatis was worshipped at Ascalon, and all iconographic evidence shows her as anthropomorphic.

Atargatis is seen as a continuation of Bronze Age goddesses. At Ugarit, cuneiform tablets attest the three great Canaanite goddesses. These shared many traits with each other and may have been worshipped in conjunction or separately during 1500 years of cultural history.

ʾAṭirat, described as a fecund “Lady Goddess of the Sea” (rabbatu ʾat̪iratu yammi); she is identified with Asherah.ʿAnat, the war-like virgin goddess. ʿAțtart, the goddess of love, namesake of the Phoenician goddess ʿAštart, called Astarte in Greek.

The name Atargatis derives from the Aramaic form ʿAtarʿatheh, which comes in several variants. The name ʿAtarʿatheh is widely held to derive from a compound of the Aramaic form ʿAttar, which is a cognate of ʿAțtart minus its feminine suffix -t, plus ʿAttah or ʿAtā, a cognate of ʿAnat. Alternatively, the second half may be a Palmyrene divine name ʿAthe (i.e. tempus opportunum), which occurs as part of many compounds.

It has also been proposed that the element -gatis may relate to the Greek gados “fish”. For example, the Greek name for “sea monster” or “whale” is the cognate term ketos). So Atar-Gatis may simply mean “the fish-goddess Atar”.

The author of Catasterismi explained the constellation of Piscis Austrinus as the parent of the two fish making up the constellation of Pisces; according to that account, it was placed in the heavens in memory of Derceto’s fall into the lake at Hierapolis Bambyce near the Euphrates in Syria, from which she was saved by a large fish — which again is intended to explain the Syrian abstinence from fish.

According to a third-century Syriac source, “In Syria and in Urhâi [Edessa] the men used to castrate themselves in honor of Taratha. But when King Abgar became a believer, he commanded that anyone who emasculated himself should have a hand cut off. And from that day to the present no one in Urhâi emasculates himself anymore.”

Baalat

Atargatis was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria.

Baal (properly Baʿal) was a title and honorific meaning “owner,” “lord” in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Levant during antiquity. From its use among people, it came to be applied to gods.

In the Northwest Semitic languages—Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Amorite, and Aramaic—the word baʿal signified “owner” and, by extension, “lord”, a “master”, or “husband”. The feminine form is baʿalah, meaning “mistress” in the sense of a female owner or lady of the house and still serving as a rare word for “wife”.

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady”, “mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

Scholars previously associated the theonym with solar cults and with a variety of unrelated patron deities, but inscriptions have shown that the name Baʿal was particularly associated with the storm and fertility god Hadad and his local manifestations.

In close transliteration of the Semitic name, the ayin is represented, as Baʿal. Ayin (also ayn or ain) is the sixteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ʿayin. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Ο, Latin O, and Cyrillic О, all representing vowels.

The Hebrew Bible, compiled and curated over a span of centuries, includes generic use of the term in reference to various Levantine deities, and finally pointed application towards Hadad, who was decried as a false god.

The letter name is derived from Proto-Semitic *ʿayn- “eye”, and the Phoenician letter had the shape of a circle or oval, clearly representing an eye, perhaps ultimately (via Proto-Sinaitic) derived from the ı͗r hieroglyph 𓁹 (Gardiner D4).

Eye of Ra

The Eye of Ra or Eye of Re is a being in ancient Egyptian mythology that functions as a feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues his enemies.

The Eye is an extension of Ra’s power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet, Wadjet, and Mut.

The Eye goddess acts as mother, sibling, consort, and daughter of the sun god. She is his partner in the creative cycle in which he begets the renewed form of himself that is born at dawn.

The Eye’s violent aspect defends Ra against the agents of disorder that threaten his rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal authority.

The Eye of Ra is similar to the Eye of Horus, which belongs to a different god, Horus, but represents many of the same concepts. The disastrous effects when the Eye goddess rampages out of control and the efforts of the gods to return her to a benign state are a prominent motif in Egyptian mythology.

The Eye of Ra was involved in many areas of ancient Egyptian religion, including in the cults of the many goddesses who are equated with it. Its life-giving power was celebrated in temple rituals, and its dangerous aspect was invoked in the protection of the pharaoh, of sacred places, and of ordinary people and their homes.

The Dove

In ancient Mesopotamia, doves were prominent animal symbols of Inanna-Ishtar, the goddess of love, sexuality, and war.[85][86] Doves are shown on cultic objects associated with Inanna as early as the beginning of the third millennium BC.

Lead dove figurines were discovered in the temple of Ishtar at Aššur, dating to the thirteenth century BC,[85] and a painted fresco from Mari, Syria, shows a giant dove emerging from a palm tree in the temple of Ishtar, indicating that the goddess herself was sometimes believed to take the form of a dove.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim releases a dove and a raven to find land; the dove merely circles and returns.[87] Only then does Utnapishtim send forth the raven, which does not return, and Utnapishtim concludes the raven has found land.

In the ancient Levant, doves were used as symbols for the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah. The ancient Greek word for “dove” was peristerá, which may be derived from the Semitic phrase peraḥ Ištar, meaning “bird of Ishtar”.

In classical antiquity, doves were sacred to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who absorbed this association with doves from Inanna-Ishtar. Aphrodite frequently appears with doves in ancient Greek pottery.

The temple of Aphrodite Pandemos on the southwest slope of the Athenian Acropolis was decorated with relief sculptures of doves with knotted fillets in their beaks and votive offerings of small, white, marble doves were discovered in the temple of Aphrodite at Daphni.

During Aphrodite’s main festival, the Aphrodisia, her altars would be purified with the blood of a sacrificed dove. Aphrodite’s associations with doves influenced the Roman goddesses Venus and Fortuna, causing them to become associated with doves as well.

In the Hebrew Bible, doves or young pigeons are acceptable burnt offerings for those who cannot afford a more expensive animal. In Genesis, Noah sends a dove out of the ark, but it came back to him because the floodwaters had not receded.

Seven days later, he sent it again and it came back with an olive branch in her mouth, indicating the waters had receded enough for an olive tree to grow. “Dove” is also a term of endearment in the Song of Songs and elsewhere. In Hebrew, Jonah means dove. The “sign of Jonas” in is related to the “sign of the dove”.

Jesus’s parents sacrificed doves on his behalf after his circumcision (Luke). Later, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism like a dove (Matthew), and subsequently the “peace dove” became a common Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit.

In Islam, doves and the pigeon family in general are respected and favoured because they are believed to have assisted the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad, in distracting his enemies outside the cave of Thaw’r, in the great Hijra.

A pair of pigeons had built a nest and laid eggs at once, and a spider had woven cobwebs, which in the darkness of the night made the fugitives believe that Muhammad could not be in that cave.

Adapa

Adapa was a Mesopotamian mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story, commonly known as “Adapa and the South Wind”, is known from fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna in Egypt (around 14th century BC) and from finds from the Library of Ashurbanipal, Assyria (around 7th century BC).

Adapa was an important figure in Mesopotamian religion. His name would be used to invoke power in exorcism rituals. He also became an archetype for a wise ruler. In that context, his name would be invoked to evoke favorable comparisons.

Adapa is also associated with the king Enmerkar (the known text is very fragmentary). In the portions that are known, Adapa and Enmerkar descend into the earth (nine cubits down), and are involved in breaking into an ancient tomb. What happens in there not clear, but the outcome is that they leave and reseal the tomb.

The name of Adapa became pervasive in some rituals of the Mesopotamian religion. Exorcists would state “I am Adapa!” in their rituals. Rituals from Nippur dating to as early as around 1800 BC use Adapa’s name in their incantations. Derivatives of the text remained in use until at least the 1st century AD.

During the Neo-Assyrian period, comparisons to Adapa would be used in reference to the king and so were used to legitimize that king. For example, it was written in Sennacherib’s Annals, “Ea [..] endowed me with vast knowledge equivalent to that of the Sage Adapa”.

Adapa’s story was initially known from a find at Amarna in Egypt from the archives of Egyptian King Amenophis IV (1377-1361 BC). By 1912, three finds from the Library of Ashurbanipal (668-626 BC) had been interpreted and found to contain parts of the story. As of 2001 five fragments from the library are known.

There are differences in several of the known versions of the text. Based on a catalogue of texts, a possible original title, an incipit, may have been Adapa into heaven.

Adapa was a mortal man, a sage or priest of the temple of Ea in the city of Eridu. Ea (sometimes considered his father) had given Adapa the gift of great wisdom but not eternal life. While carrying out his duties, he was fishing the Persian Gulf. The sea became rough by the strong wind, and his boat was capsized. Angry, Adapa “broke the wings of the south wind” preventing it from blowing for seven days.

The god Anu called Adapa to account for his action, but Ea aided him by instructing Adapa to gain the sympathy of Tammuz and Gishzida, who guard the gates of heaven and not to eat or drink there, as such food might kill him. When offered garments and oil, he should put the clothes on and anoint himself.

Adapa puts on mourning garments, tells Tammuz and Gishzida to be in mourning because they have disappeared from the land. Adapa is then offered the “food of life” and “water of life” but will not eat or drink. Then garments and oil are offered, and he does what he had been told.

He is brought before Anu, who asks why he will not eat or drink. Adapa replies that Ea told him not to. Anu laughs at Ea’s actions, and passes judgment on Adapa by asking rhetorically, “What ill has he [Adapa] brought on mankind?” He adds that men will suffer disease as a consequence, which Ninkarrak (Nintinugga) may allay. Adapa is then sent back down to earth. The ending of the text is missing.

Ninlil

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (DNIN.LÍL “lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Ninlil is the goddess of the air, and the South Wind while he is referred to in at least one text as the “East Wind and North Wind”.

She is often called “mother” or “merciful mother” and may be a form of Mother Goddess. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu (a goddess of barley) or Nisaba). Other sources call her a daughter of An and Nammu.

As a benevolent and merciful goddess she intercedes with Enlil on behalf of mortals. She is the mother of the moon god, Sin and daughter of Haia, god of the store and Ninshebargunu, the goddess of agriculture.

After her death, she became the goddess of the air, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Air” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Biblical Lilith.

Mullissu

Mullissu is a goddess who is the wife of the Assyrian god Ashur. Mullissu may be identical with the Mesopotamian goddess Ninlil, wife of the god Enlil, which would parallel the fact that Ashur himself was modeled on Enlil. Mullissu’s name was written “dNIN.LÍL”.

Nonetheless, Mullissu, who was identified with Ishtar of Nineveh in Neo-Assyrian Empire times, is usually identified with Ishtar. Also proposed to be Mullissu is a goddess whom Herodotus called Mylitta and identified with Aphrodite. The name Mylitta may derive from Mulliltu or Mulitta, names related to Mullissu.

Aššur was a deified form of the city of Assur, which dates from the mid 3rd millennium BC and was the capital of the Old Assyrian kingdom. As such, Ashur did not originally have a family, but as the cult came under southern Mesopotamian influence, he later came to be regarded as the Assyrian equivalent of Enlil, the chief god of Nippur.

In Sicily, there was the ‘myllos’ in the shape of the female genitals offered to Demeter and Persephone, representing Ishtar’s vagina, were given out freely. To celebrate the festival of Thesmophoria, honey and sesame cakes, a triangular shape called “mylloi”, representing Ishtar’s vagina, were given out.

Demeter and Persephone

Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth, and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore (“the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, were often worshiped together and were often referred to by joint cultic titles. In Mycenaean Pylos, Demeter and Persephone were probably called the “queens” (wa-na-ssoi).

In their cult at Eleusis, they were referred to simply as “the goddesses”, often distinguished as “the older” and “the younger”; In Rhodes and Sparta, they were worshiped as “the Demeters”; in the Thesmophoria, they were known as “the thesmophoroi” (“the legislators”); In Arcadia they were known as “the Great Goddesses” and “the mistresses”.

The epithets of Persephone reveal her double function as chthonic (underworld) 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. 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.

Plutarch writes that Persephone was identified with the spring season and Cicero calls her the seed of the fruits of the fields. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, her return from the underworld each spring is a symbol of immortality, and hence she was frequently represented on sarcophagi.

In the religions 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 with or identified as other such divinities including Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. The Orphic Persephone is said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, Zagreus, and the little-attested Melinoe.

Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable, majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld.

In the myth Pluto abducts Persephone to be his wife and the queen of his realm (this is the myth which explains their marriage). Pluto (Ploutōn) was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself.

The name Pluton was conflated with that of Ploutos (Ploutos, “wealth”), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because Pluto as a chthonic god ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest. Plouton is lord of the dead, but as Persephone’s husband he has serious claims to the powers of fertility.

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.

The Greek version of the abduction myth is related to grain – important and rare in the Greek environment – and the return (ascent) of Persephone was celebrated at the autumn sowing. Pluto (Ploutos) represents the wealth of the grain that was stored in underground silos or ceramic jars (pithoi), during summer months.

Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for burials and Pluto is fused with Hades, the King of the realm of the dead. During summer months, the Greek grain-Maiden (Kore) is lying in the grain of the underground silos in the realm of Hades, and she is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld.

At the beginning of the autumn, when the seeds of the old crop are laid on the fields, she ascends and is reunited with her mother Demeter, for at that time the old crop and the new meet each other. For the initiated, this union was the symbol of the eternity of human life that flows from the generations which spring from each other.

She is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion.

In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

Demeter’s emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley. However, 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.

Poseidon

Poseidon was one of the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth, god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses. In pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, he was venerated as a chief deity at Pylos and Thebes. He was protector of seafarers, and of many Hellenic cities and colonies. His Roman equivalent is Neptune.

It seems that the Arcadian myth is related with the first Greek speaking people who entered the region during the Bronze Age. (Linear B represents an archaic Greek dialect). Their religious beliefs were mixed with the beliefs of the indigenous population.

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.

Poseidon “Wanax”, is the male companion (paredros) of the goddess of nature. 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”.

In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, there is not sufficient evidence that Poseidon was connected with the sea. We do not know if “Posedeia” was a sea-goddess. 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.

Homer and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of his father Cronus, when the world was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three.

It is almost sure that once Poseidon was worshiped as a horse, and this is evident by his cult in Peloponnesos. However he was originally a god of the waters, and therefore he became the “earth-shaker”, because the Greeks believed that the cause of the earthquakes was the erosion of the rocks by the waters, by the rivers who they saw to disappear into the earth and then to burst out again.

This is what the natural philosophers Thales, Anaximenes and Aristotle believed, which could not be different from the folklore belief. Later, when the Myceneans travelled along the sea, he was assigned a role as god of the sea. In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer’s Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events. In Homer, Poseidon is the master of the sea.

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

Amphitrite was a daughter of Doris and Nereus (or Oceanus and Tethys). Under the influence of the Olympian pantheon, she became the consort of Poseidon and was later used as a symbolic representation of the sea and the goddess of calm seas and safe passage through storms.

It is said her voice is the only thing that can calm her husband’s mightiest of rages and lull him to a deep slumber so the ocean could be back at peace. In Roman mythology, the consort of Neptune, a comparatively minor figure, was Salacia, the goddess of saltwater.

Amphitrite’s offspring included seals and dolphins. She also bred sea monsters and her great waves crashed against the rocks, putting sailors at risk. Poseidon and Amphitrite had a son, Triton who was a merman, and a daughter, Rhodos.

Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-na-ka (wanax) in Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld. The chthonic nature of Poseidon-Wanax is also indicated by his title E-ne-si-da-o-ne in Mycenean Knossos and Pylos, a powerful attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture). In the cave of Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related with the cult of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. She was related with the annual birth of the divine child.

During the Bronze Age, a goddess of nature, dominated both in Minoan and Mycenean cult, and Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion (paredros) in Mycenean cult.[20] It is possible that Demeter appears as Da-ma-te in a Linear B inscription (PN EN 609), however the interpretation is still under dispute.

In Linear B inscriptions found at Pylos, E-ne-si-da-o-ne is related with Poseidon, and Si-to Po-tini-ja is probably related with Demeter. Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for “the Two Queens and Poseidon” (“to the Two Queens and the King”: wa-na-soi, wa-na-ka-te). The “Two Queens” may be related with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods.

Poseidon was said to have had many lovers of both sexes (see expandable list below). His consort was Amphitrite, a nymph and ancient sea-goddess, daughter of Nereus and Doris. Together they had a son named Triton, a merman. Poseidon was the father of many heroes. He is thought to have fathered the famed Theseus.

Not all of Poseidon’s children were human. In an archaic myth, 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.

Poseidon also raped Medusa on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor and Pegasus emerged from her neck.

The illuminating exception is the archaic and localised myth of the stallion Poseidon and mare Demeter at Phigalia in isolated and conservative Arcadia, noted by Pausanias (2nd century AD) as having fallen into desuetude; the stallion Poseidon pursues the mare-Demeter, and from the union she bears the horse Arion, and a daughter (Despoina), who obviously had the shape of a mare too.

The violated Demeter was Demeter Erinys (furious). In Arcadia, Demeter’s mare-form was worshiped into historical times. Her xoanon of Phigaleia shows how the local cult interpreted her, as goddess of nature. A Medusa type with a horse’s head with snaky hair, holding a dove and a dolphin, probably representing her power over air and water.

Wanax (wa-na-ka) was her male companion (Greek: Paredros) in Mycenaean cult. The Arcadian cult links her to the god Poseidon, who probably substituted the male companion of the Great Goddess ; Demeter may therefore be related to a Minoan Great Goddess (Cybele).

The earliest recorded worship of a deity possibly equivalent to Demeter is found in Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of c. 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos. The tablets describe worship of the “two queens and the king”, which may be related to Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon.

Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for “the Two Queens and Poseidon” (“to the Two Queens and the King” :wa-na-ssoi, wa-na-ka-te). The “Two Queens” may be related with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were no longer associated with Poseidon in later periods.

Hursag

Hursag (ḪUR.SAĜ) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Mountains play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory.

In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

Apkallu

Apkallu (Akkadian) and Abgal (Sumerian) are terms found in cuneiform inscriptions that in general mean either “wise” or “sage.” In several contexts the Apkallu are seven demi-gods, sometimes described as part man and part fish, associated with human wisdom; these creatures are often referred to in scholarly literature as the Seven Sages.

Sometimes the sages are associated with a specific primeval king. The terms Apkallu (as well as Abgal) is also used as an epithet for kings and gods as a mark of wisdom or knowledge. A further use of the term Apkallu is when referring to figurines used in apotropaic rituals; these figurines include fish-man hybrids representing the seven sages, but also include bird-headed and other figures.

Representations of ‘apkallu’ were used in apotropaic rituals; in addition to fish-headed ones (similar to descriptions of the seven sages), other human-animal hybrids were used as ‘apkallu’ in this context (generally bird-headed humans).

In a later work by Berossus describing Babylonia, the Apkallu appear again, also described as fish-men who are sent by the gods to impart knowledge to people. In Berossus, the first one Oannes (a variant of Uanna) is said to have taught people the creation myth the Enuma Elis (qv).

During the Neo-Assyrian period, comparisons to Adapa would be used in reference to the king and so were used to legitimize that king. For example, it was written in Sennacherib’s Annals, “Ea [..] endowed me with vast knowledge equivalent to that of the Sage Adapa”.

The Abzu or Apsu (Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû), also called engur (Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru – lit., ab=’water’ zu=’deep’), is the name for fresh water from underground aquifers which was given a religious fertilising quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology.

Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu. In this respect, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology it referred to the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above.

The first of these legendary fish-man sages is known as Oan/Oannes (Sumerian) or Uanna/U-An (Akkadian); on a few cuneiform inscriptions this first sage has “adapa” appended to his name.

In terms of the name of the first Apkallu both terms ‘adapa’ (“wise”) and ‘ummanu’ (“craftsman”) together form the whole proper name. Additionally, there are closer similarities between the 7th Apkallu Utuabzu, who is said to have ascended to heaven (in the Bit Meseri), and the myth of Adapa who also visited heaven.

Both Adapa and the Apkallu have legends that place them halfway between the world of men and gods; but additionally just as Oannes in the Greek version passes all the knowledge of civilization to people, so Adapa is described as having been “[made] perfect with broad understanding to reveal the plans of the land.”

However, despite some clear parallels between Adapa stories and both the first and last Apkallu, the name used for the first Apkallu is given in both Berossus, and in the Uruk King list – that is Uan.

When the story of Adapa was first rediscovered some scholars saw a resemblance with the story of the biblical Adam, a figure in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible and in the creation story of the Quran.

According to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, he was the first man. In both Genesis and Quran, Adam and his wife were expelled from a Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of a tree forbidden by Yahweh or Allah, though various names are different, as is the sequence of events, the consequences of this disobedience, and Adam’s later biography.

Possible parallels and connections include similarity in names, including the possible connection of both the same word root; both myths include a test involving the eating of purportedly deadly food; and both are summoned before god to answer for their transgressions.

The story of Enoch (“seventh from Adam”) and his ascension to heaven has also been proposed to be a variant or influenced by the seventh apkallu Utuabzu who is also said to have ascended to heaven in the bit meseri.

Anat

Anat (classically Anath; Hebrew: ʿĂnāth; Phoenician: 𐤏𐤍𐤕 ʿAnōt; Ugaritic: nt; Greek: Αναθ Anath; Egyptian Antit, Anit, Anti, or Anant) is a major northwest Semitic goddess. She is often called “sister-in-law of the peoples” or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”. She is similar to Antu.

Her attributes vary widely among different cultures and over time, and even within particular myths. In Ugaritic texts, Anat is depicted as violent, delighting in war, but also as the establisher of peace; she is depicted as sexual and fertile, bringing forth offspring, while still continuing to be called a virgin and a maiden.

In the Baal Cycle texts, Anat appears as a war-goddess, initially called upon by her father El to set the stage for the coronation of Yam; Anat, however, agitates for her younger brother (and possibly lover) Baal.

Text fragments describe her appearance in battle; in a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria) ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy.

“Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal”. She is later described ritually re-enacting battle, and then purifying herself, in her temple, where she receives a message from Baal asking her to establish peace on terms favorable to him.

She is initially concerned that new enemies of him have arisen, and notes that she put an end to Yam, “the beloved of El”, and to other enemies of Baal including a seven-headed serpent; Arsh the darling of the gods; Atik (“Quarrelsome”), the calf of El; Ishat (“Fire”), the bitch of the gods; and Zabib, the daughter of El. Anat goes to Baal and washes herself and makes herself beautiful before a feast with her younger brother.

Text fragments then describe Baal and Anat grasping each other’s genitals, aroused, and later Anat giving birth to her younger brother’s child, though Anat continues to be referred to as a maiden and the “virgin Anat”.

When Baal complains he has no (royal) house, Anat vows to intercede with her father El, and threatens to bloody him if he does not grant Baal a house; she also asks Athirat to intercede with El, after which he grants Baal a house.

Anat and Baal rejoice and hold a celebratory feast, but Mot is angered at not being invited, and threatens Baal. After Baal descends to the underworld, El and Anat mourn his death, and Anat searches the world and the underworld for him, her concern described in maternal terms, “like a cow [searches] for its calf”.

Anat finds Baal’s body and carries it to the gods’ sacred mountain, Saphon (Zephon), where she performs funeral rites and ritual sacrifices of animals, after which Baal is revived.

Anat then finds Mot, seizes him, and splits him with a sword or knife, winnows him and burns him, and then grinds him with millstones and sifts him through a sieve like grain, and sows his remains into the sea or to the birds. Nonetheless, Mot returns and struggles further with Baal before finally acknowledging his kingship.

Text CTA 10 tells of Anat seeking out Baal while he is out hunting; she finds him and is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new calf to Baal on Mount Saphon. Nowhere in these texts is Anat explicitly Ba’al Hadad’s consort.

She is not Baal’s wife, but is the power behind the throne. To judge from later traditions ‘Athtart (who also appears in these texts) is more likely to be Ba‘al Hadad’s consort; however, complicating matters is that northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and nonmonogamy is normal for deities in many pantheons.

Rahmay (‘The Merciful’), co-wife of El with Athirat, may also be the goddess ‘Anat.. Use of dual names of deities in Ugaritic poetry are an essential part of the verse form, and two names for the same deity are traditionally mentioned in parallel lines. In the same way, Athirat is called Elath (meaning “The Goddess”) in paired couplets. The poetic structure can also be seen in early Hebrew verse forms.

Anat is sporadically attested in Egypt since the 18th century, and is found in the name of Anat-her, a fragmentarily attested figure (possibly a Hyksos ruler) of the 12th, 15th or 16th dynasty whose name means “Anat is content” and is taken to indicate Canaanite descent.

As a warrior-goddess, Anat was one of several Syrian / northwest Semitic deities who was prominently worshipped by the warrior-pharaohs of the 16th Dynasty. She was often paired with the goddess Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given as allies to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Israel) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called “Bin-Ptah”, Daughter of Ptah.

She is associated with Reshpu (Canaanite: Resheph) in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called “Queen of Heaven”. Her iconography varies. She is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.

During the 19th Dynasty (in the New Kingdom period), Seti I’s favourite chariot team was named “Anat is content”. Ramesses II made Anat his personal guardian in battle and enlarged her temple in Pi-Ramesses, and also named his daughter (whom he later married) Bint-Anat, “Daughter of Anat”.

Ramesses II furthermore named his sword “Anat is victorious” and his dog “Anat protects” (the dog appears in a carving in a Beit el Wali temple), and named one of his horses “Anat is content”.

The goddess name ‘Anat is preserved in the city names Beth-Anath and Anathoth. Anathoth seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt ‘House of the ‘Anats’, either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification.

The ancient hero Shamgar, son of ‘Anat, is mentioned in Judges 3.31 and 5:6, which raises the idea that this judge or hero may have been understood as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. However, a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and can have been a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat’s protection. Asenath, “holy to Anath”, was the wife of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph.

Danel

Danel  (Dn’il), father of Aqhat, was a culture hero who appears in an incomplete Ugaritic text of the fourteenth century BC at Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria, where the name is rendered DN’IL, “El is judge”.

The text in Corpus Tablettes Alphabétiques [CTA] 17–19 is often referred to as the Epic of Aqhat. Danel was depicted as “judging the cause of the widow, adjudicating the case of the fatherless” in the city gate.

He passed through trials: his son Aqhat was destroyed but apparently in the missing conclusion was revived or replaced by Danel’s patron god, Rp’u, who sits and judges with Hadad and Astarte and was likely considered to be the equivalent of El.

In the North Canaanite stories of Aqhat, Anat covets a special bow and set of arrows which are given to Aqhat, the son of the judge Danel. These were created for Anat by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis, but given to Danel to give his infant son.

When Aqhat grows to be a young man, the goddess Anat tries to buy the bow from hom, offering him gold and silver and even immortality, but Aqhat refuses all offers, saying that he accepts that it is the lot of humans to be mortal.

He also insults Anat, saying that bows and arrows are tools for men, not women (asking “what would a woman do with a bow?”), angering the huntress goddess. Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Anat complains to El and threatens to harm El if he does not let her take vengeance on Aqhat; El concedes.

Anat arranges for a her attendant Yatpan, in the form of a hawk or vulture, to attack Aqhat. However, instead of merely knocking the breath out of him and stealing the bow, Yatpan kills Aqhat; Yatpan then runs away and the bow and arrows fall into the sea.

Aqhat’s death makes the land infertile (due to drought) for a time, and his wise younger sister Paghat sets out to avenge him by killing the vulture that killed him; Anat regrets her decision and mourns for Aqhat (and the loss of the bow), but the ending of the story is missing

It breaks off at an extremely dramatic moment when Paghat discovers that the mercenary whom she has hired to help her avenge the death is, in fact, Yatpan, her brother’s murderer. The story parallels that of Anat and her revenge on Mot for the killing of her brother.

Antu

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

An (Sumerian) or Anu (Akkadian) is the divine personification of the sky, supreme god, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.

The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

Haddad – Ishkur – Teshub

Hadad or Haddu (Ugaritic), Adad or Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian), the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religions, was also called Pidar, Rapiu, Baal-Zephon, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods. He was attested in Ebla as “Hadda” in c. 2500 BCE.

From the Levant, Hadad was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, where he became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM, the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. He was equated with the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

The form Iškur appears in the list of gods found at Shuruppak but was of far less importance, probably partly because storms and rain were scarce in Sumer and agriculture there depended on irrigation instead. The gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features that decreased Iškur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

Adad/Iškur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and the much later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagānu. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Iškur and Shala.

Nergal

Nergal (Sumerian: dKIŠ.UNU or dGÌR-UNUG-GAL) is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.

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

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king”, the “furious one”, and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (light of the great Ûru; lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

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

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

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

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

Amurru

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown. He was occasionally called “lord of the steppe” or “lord of the mountain”.

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

Accordingly, it has been suggested by L. R. Bailey (1968) and Jean Ouelette (1969), that this Bêl Šadê might be the same as the Biblical ’Ēl Šaddāi who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the “Priestly source” of narrative, according to the documentary hypothesis. Bêl Šadê could also have become the fertility-god ‘Ba’al’, possibly adopted by the Canaanites, a rival and enemy of the Hebrew God YHWH, and famously combatted by the Hebrew prophet Elijah.

Amurru also has storm-god features. Like Adad, Amurru bears the epithet ramān ‘thunderer’, and he is even called bāriqu ‘hurler of the thunderbolt’ and Adad ša a-bu-be ‘Adad of the deluge’. Yet his iconography is distinct from that of Adad, and he sometimes appears alongside Adad with a baton of power or throwstick, while Adad bears a conventional thunderbolt.

In a Sumerian poem in pastoral style, which relates how the god Martu came to marry Adg̃ar-kidug the daughter of the god Numushda of the city of Inab. It contains a speech expressing urbanite Sumerian disgust at uncivilized, nomadic Amurru life which Adg̃ar-kidug ignores, responding only: “I will marry Martu!”.

Ašratu(m)

Amurru’s wife is usually the goddess Ašratum who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god. If Amurru was identical with Ēl, it would explain why so few Amorite names are compounded with the name Amurru, but so many are compounded with Il; that is, with Ēl.

Asherah, in ancient Semitic religion, is a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources. She appears in Akkadian writings by the name of Ašratu(m) (Ashratum), and in Hittite as Aserdu(s) or Asertu(s). Asherah is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʾAṯiratu (Athirat).

Asherah is identified as the queen consort of the Sumerian god Anu, and Ugaritic ʾEl, the oldest deities of their respective pantheons, as well as Yahweh, the god of Israel and Judah. This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon.

Despite her association with Yahweh in extra-biblical sources, Deuteronomy 12 has Yahweh commanding the destruction of her shrines so as to maintain purity of his worship. The Book of Jeremiah, written circa 628 BC, possibly refers to Asherah when it uses the title “queen of heaven” in Jeremiah 7:16–18 and Jeremiah 44:17–19, 25.

The name Dione, which like ʾElat means ‘goddess’, is clearly associated with Asherah in the Phoenician History of Sanchuniathon, because the same common epithet (ʾElat) of “the Goddess par excellence” was used to describe her at Ugarit.

Belit-Sheri

Another tradition about Amurru’s wife (or one of Amurru’s wives) gives her name as Belit-Sheri (also spelled Beletseri, Belit-Sheri, Belit-Tseri). Married to Amurru, the God of Nomads, she’s known as ‘Queen of the Desert.’

Belet-Seri  in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld goddess. The recorder of the dead entering the underworld, she is known as the “Scribe of the Earth”. It is Belet-seri who keeps the records of human activities so she can advise the queen of the dead, Erishkigal, on their final judgement.

Beginning in the Old Babylonian Period, Belet-Seri was identified with the goddess Geshtinanna (also known as Geštinanna or Ngeshtin-ana), the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”.

She is the sister of Dumuzid and consort of Ningisida. She is also the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag. She shelters her brother when he is being pursued by galla demons and mourns his death after the demons drag him to Kur.

She eventually agrees to take his place in Kur for half the year, allowing him to return to Heaven to be with Inanna. 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.

Liber(a)

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, 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. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share.

Before his official adoption as a Roman deity, Liber was companion to two different goddesses in two separate, archaic Italian fertility cults; Ceres, an agricultural and fertility goddess of Rome’s Hellenised neighbours, and Libera, an early Roman goddess of wine, who was Liber’s female equivalent.

Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were combined from those of Libera and the Greek Persephone and Demeter, goddesses of grain and agriculture.

The originally Roman goddess Libera was daughter of the agricultural goddess Ceres and wife to Liber, god of wine and freedom. In 204 BC, a new “Greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Libera and Ceres’ temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seem to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

Just as Persephone was thought to be a daughter of Demeter, Romans made Proserpina a daughter of Demeter’s Roman equivalent, Ceres. Like Persephone, Proserpina is associated with the underworld realm and its ruler; and along with her mother Ceres, with the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death and rebirth or renewal.

Her name is a Latinisation of “Persephone”, perhaps influenced by the Latin proserpere (“to emerge, to creep forth”), with respect to the growing of grain. Her core myths – her forcible abduction by the god of the Underworld, her mother’s search for her and her eventual but temporary restoration to the world above – are the subject of works in Roman and later art and literature.

In particular, Proserpina’s seizure by the god of the Underworld – usually described as the Rape of Proserpina, or of Persephone – has offered dramatic subject matter for Renaissance and later sculptors and painters.

Tawaret

In modern scholarship, Tannin is sometimes associated with Tiamat and, in modern Hebrew, the name tannin means crocodile. In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret, and in Greek Thouéris and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility.

The name “Taweret” (Tȝ-wrt) means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities. The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, the limbs and paws of a lion, and the back and tail of a Nile crocodile.

She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

Letter T

T or t is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter tau. In ancient times, tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death.

In Biblical times, the taw was put on men to distinguish those who lamented sin, although newer versions of the Bible have replaced the ancient term taw with mark (Ezekiel 9:4) or signature (Job 31:35).

The symbolism of the cross was connected not only to the letter chi but also to tau, the equivalent of the last letter in the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, and which was originally cruciform in shape.

An essay written around 160 AD, attributed to Lucian, a mock legal prosecution called The Consonants at Law – Sigma vs. Tau, in the Court of the Seven Vowels, contains a reference to the cross attribution.

Dingir

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR, Sumerian pronunciation: [tiŋiɾ]) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

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

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

Dyeus and Dhéǵhōm

Dyḗus (lit. “Daylight-Sky-God”), also Dyḗus ph₂tḗr (lit. “Daylight-Sky-God Father”) is the reconstructed name of the Daylight-Sky-God in Proto-Indo-European mythology. Dyēus was the daylight sky imagined as a deity and the seat of the gods, the *deiwós. Associated with the bright sky and the fertile rain, he was often paired with *Dhéǵhōm, the Earth Mother, in a relationship of union and contrast.

While its existence is not directly attested by archaeological or written materials, Dyēus is considered by scholars the most securely reconstructed deity from the Indo-European pantheon, and identical formulas that referred to him can be found in later Indo-European languages and myths of the Greeks, Latins, Illyrians, Indo-Aryans and Hittites.

Dyēus was the Sky or Day conceived as a divine entity, and thus the dwelling of the gods, the Heaven. As the gateway to the deities and the father of both the Divine Twins and the goddess of the dawn, Hausōs, Dyēus was a prominent deity in the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. He was however likely not their ruler or the holder of the supreme power like Zeus and Jupiter.

Dyēus was associated with the bright and vast sky, but also to the cloudy weather in the Vedic and Greek formulas Dyaus/Zeus’s rain. Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyēus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to Mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with Canaanite deities and the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos.

Due to his celestial nature, Dyēus is often described as “all-seeing”, or “with wide vision” in Indo-European myths. It is unlikely however that he was in charge of the supervision of justice and righteousness, as it was the case for the Zeus or the Indo-Iranian Mithra–Varuna duo; but he was suited to serve at least as a witness to oaths and treaties.

Proto-Indo-Europeans also visualized the sun as the “lamp of Dyēus” or the “eye of Dyēus”, as seen in various reflexes: “the god’s lamp” in Medes by Euripides, “heaven’s candle” in Beowulf, or “the land of Hatti’s torch”, as the Sun-goddess of Arinna is called in a Hittite prayer; and Helios as the eye of Zeus, Hvare-khshaeta as the eye of Ahura Mazda, and the sun as “God’s eye” in Romanian folklore.

Dhéǵhōm (Proto-Indo-European: *dʰéǵʰōm, also ‌‌*dʰg-em (lit. “earth”), or Plethwih (PIE *plethₐ-wih₁ (lit. the “Broad One”), is the reconstructed name of the Earth-goddess in the Proto-Indo-European mythology. The Mother Earth is portrayed as the vast and dark house of mortals. She is often paired with Dyēus, the daylight sky and seat of the gods, in a relationship of union and contrast. Dhéǵhōm is associated with fertility and growth, and with death as the final dwelling of the deceased ones.

The Earth-goddess was widely celebrated with the title of “mother”, and often paired with Dyēus, the Proto-Indo-European god of the daylight sky. She is called annas Daganzipas (“Mother Earth-spirit”) in Hittite, and paired with the Storm-god of heaven. In the Rigveda, the goddess of the earth Prithvi often has the epithet Mata (“mother”), especially when she is mentioned together with Dyaus, the sky-father.

The goddess of the harvest and agriculture Demeter could also be a cognate, from the Illyrian root Dā- (possibly from *dʰǵʰ(e)m-) attached to māter (“mother”).

Nin

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

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

Ninhursag

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”.

She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

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

Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.

Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki. The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra (“Lady of the Pasture”). Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu.

Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up.

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

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

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from approximately 3000 BC, although more generally from the early second millennium BC. It appears on some boundary stones—on the upper tier, indicating her importance.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Ma

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. There seems to be some loss in records as to the transition, but the same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.

Cybele

Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”), an Anatolian mother goddess.

She may have a possible forerunner in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, identified by some as a mother goddess, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC.

She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its national deity. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BC, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.

Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”).

She was readily assimilated to the Minoan-Greek earth-mother Rhea, “Mother of the gods”, whose raucous, ecstatic rites she may have acquired. As an exemplar of devoted motherhood, she was partly assimilated to the grain-goddess Demeter, whose torchlight procession recalled her search for her lost daughter, Persephone.

Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention.

Potnia Therōn

In Greece, as in Phrygia, she 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. The Mistress of Animals is a widespread motif in ancient art from the Mediterranean world and the Ancient Near East, showing a central human, or human-like, female figure who grasps two animals, one to each side.

The oldest such depiction, the Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük is a clay sculpture from Çatalhöyük in modern Turkey, made c 6,000 BC. This motif is more common in later Near Eastern and Mesopotamian art with a male figure, called the Master of 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; 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.”

Nammu

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically 𒀭𒇉 dNAMMA = dENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

She was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

She is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and his mother, Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”.

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

Tiamat

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) 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.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed. Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon.

She is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.

Akitu

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. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

Puruli

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.

Purim

Purim (Pûrîm “lots”, from the word פור pur (גורל / fate), related to Akkadian: pūru; also called the Festival of Lots) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews, as recounted in the Book of Esther (Megillat Ester in Hebrew; usually dated to the 4th century BC).

Esther[a] is described in the Book of Esther as a Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus (commonly identified as Xerxes I, reigned 486–465 BCE). In the narrative, Ahasuerus seeks a new wife after his queen, Vashti, refuses to obey him, and Esther is chosen for her beauty.

The king’s chief advisor, Haman, is offended by Esther’s cousin and guardian, Mordecai, and gets permission from the king to have all the Jews in the kingdom killed. Esther foils the plan, and wins permission from the king for the Jews to kill their enemies, and they do so.

Her story is the traditional basis for Purim, which is celebrated on the date given in the story for when Haman’s order was to go into effect, which is the same day that the Jews killed their enemies after the plan was reversed.

According to most scholars, the name Esther is derived from the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar and/or the Persian word stara, “star”

The Book of Daniel provides accounts of Jews in exile being assigned names relating to Babylonian gods and “Mordecai” is understood to mean servant of Marduk, a Babylonian god. “Esther” may have been a different Hebrew interpretation from the Proto-Semitic root “star/’morning/evening star'”, which descended with the /th/ into the Ugaritic Athtiratu and Arabian Athtar.

The derivation must then have been secondary for the initial ayin to be confused with an aleph (both represented by vowels in Akkadian), and the second consonant descended as a /s/ (like in the Aramaic asthr “bright star”), rather than a /sh/ as in Hebrew and most commonly in Akkadian.

Even in Talmudic times it was realized that the name Esther was of foreign origin. According to one opinion mentioned in the Talmud (Tractate Megillah 13a) and Yalkut Shimoni as well as Targum Sheni the name Esther comes from (‘īstəhăr), the morning star Venus.

Modern scholars starting with Assyriologist Peter Jensen added on to this by connecting Esther with Ishtar Babylonian goddess of the planet Venus, and this view came to be adopted by almost all commentators.

A. S. Yahuda conjectured that the name Esther is derived from a reconstructed Median word astra meaning myrtle. This would match her Hebrew name as recorded in the Bible, Hadassah, also meaning “myrtle”.

Nu

Nu (also Nenu, Nunu, Nun), feminine Naunet (also Nunut, Nuit, Nent, Nunet), is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in the Hermopolitan Ogdoad cosmogony of ancient Egyptian religion.

The name is paralleled with nen “inactivity” in a play of words in, “I raised them up from out of the watery mass [nu], out of inactivity [nen]”. The name has also been compared to the Coptic noun “abyss; deep”.

The name is spelled phonetically with the nw hieroglyph (may be repeated three times), with the determiners “sky” and “waters”. An alternative phonetic spelling used the phonogram nn.

The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony. In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun.

The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence. In the Ennead cosmogony, Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.

Nut

Nut (Ancient Egyptian: Nwt), also known by various other transcriptions, is the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, mothers, astronomy, and the universe in the ancient Egyptian religion. She was seen as a star-covered nude woman arching over the Earth, or as a cow. She was depicted wearing the water-pot sign (nw) that identifies her.

The pronunciation of ancient Egyptian is uncertain because vowels were long omitted from its writing, although her name often includes the unpronounced determinative hieroglyph for “sky”. Her name Nwt, itself also meaning “Sky”, is usually transcribed as “Nut” but also sometimes appears in older sources as Nunut, Nent, and Nuit.

Nut is a daughter of Shu and Tefnut. Her brother and husband is Geb. She had four or, in some sources, five children: Osiris, Set, Isis, Nephthys, and in some sources Horus. She is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon, with her origin being found on the creation story of Heliopolis.

She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus.

Mostly depicted in nude human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. This ladder-symbol was called maqet and was placed in tombs to protect the deceased, and to invoke the aid of the deity of the dead.

Nut and her brother, Geb, may be considered enigmas in the world of mythology. In direct contrast to most other mythologies which usually develop a sky father associated with an Earth mother (or Mother Nature), she personified the sky and he the Earth.

Nut appears in the creation myth of Heliopolis which involves several goddesses who play important roles: Tefnut (Tefenet) is a personification of moisture, who mated with Shu (Air) and then gave birth to Sky as the goddess Nut, who mated with her brother Earth, as Geb.

From the union of Geb and Nut came, among others, the most popular of Egyptian goddesses, Isis, the mother of Horus, whose story is central to that of her brother-husband, the resurrection god Osiris. Osiris is killed by his brother Set and scattered over the Earth in 14 pieces, which Isis gathers up and puts back together.

Constellation Andromeda

Located north of the celestial equator, the constellation Andromeda is most prominent during autumn evenings in the Northern Hemisphere, along with several other constellations named for characters in the Perseus myth. It is named for Andromeda, daughter of Cassiopeia, in the Greek myth, who was chained to a rock to be eaten by the sea monster Cetus.

Because of its northern declination, Andromeda is visible only north of 40° south latitude; for observers farther south, it lies below the horizon. It is one of the largest constellations, with an area of 722 square degrees. This is over 1,400 times the size of the full moon, 55% of the size of the largest constellation, Hydra, and over 10 times the size of the smallest constellation, Crux.

Its brightest star, Alpha Andromedae, is a binary star that has also been counted as a part of Pegasus, while Gamma Andromedae is a colorful binary and a popular target for amateur astronomers. Only marginally dimmer than Alpha, Beta Andromedae is a red giant, its color visible to the naked eye.

The constellation’s most obvious deep-sky object is the naked-eye Andromeda Galaxy (M31, also called the Great Galaxy of Andromeda), the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way and one of the brightest Messier objects.

Several fainter galaxies, including M31’s companions M110 and M32, as well as the more distant NGC 891, lie within Andromeda. The Blue Snowball Nebula, a planetary nebula, is visible in a telescope as a blue circular object. Andromeda is the location of the radiant for the Andromedids, a weak meteor shower that occurs in November.

The uranography of Andromeda has its roots most firmly in the Greek tradition, though a female figure in Andromeda’s location had appeared earlier in Babylonian astronomy. The stars that make up Pisces and the middle portion of modern Andromeda formed a constellation representing a fertility goddess, sometimes named as Anunitum or the Lady of the Heavens.

Andromeda is known as “the Chained Lady” or “the Chained Woman” in English. It was known as Mulier Catenata (“chained woman”) in Latin and al-Mar’at al Musalsalah in Arabic. It has also been called Persea (“Perseus’s wife”) or Cepheis (“Cepheus’s daughter”), all names that refer to Andromeda’s role in the Greco-Roman myth of Perseus.

In this myth Cassiopeia, the queen of Ethiopia, bragged that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, sea nymphs blessed with incredible beauty. Offended at her remark, the nymphs petitioned Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia for her insolence, which he did by commanding the sea monster Cetus to attack Ethiopia.

Andromeda’s panicked father, Cepheus, was told by the Oracle of Ammon that the only way to save his kingdom was to sacrifice his daughter to Cetus. She was chained to a rock by the sea but was saved by the hero Perseus, who in one version of the story used the head of Medusa to turn the monster into stone; in another version, by the Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, Perseus slew the monster with his diamond sword.

Perseus and Andromeda then married; the myth recounts that the couple had nine children together – seven sons and two daughters – and founded Mycenae and its Persideae dynasty. After Andromeda’s death Athena placed her in the sky as a constellation, to honor her. Several of the neighboring constellations (Perseus, Cassiopeia, Cetus, and Cepheus) also represent characters in the Perseus myth. It is connected with the constellation Pegasus.

Andromeda was one of the original 48 constellations formulated by Ptolemy in his 2nd-century Almagest, in which it was defined as a specific pattern of stars. She is typically depicted with α Andromedae as her head, ο and λ Andromedae as her chains, and δ, π, μ, Β, and γ Andromedae representing her body and legs.

However, there is no universal depiction of Andromeda and the stars used to represent her body, head, and chains. Arab astronomers were aware of Ptolemy’s constellations, but they included a second constellation representing a fish at Andromeda’s feet.

Several stars from Andromeda and most of the stars in Lacerta were combined in 1787 by German astronomer Johann Bode to form Frederici Honores (also called Friedrichs Ehre). It was designed to honor King Frederick II of Prussia, but quickly fell into disuse.

Since the time of Ptolemy, Andromeda has remained a constellation and is officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union, although like all modern constellations, it is now defined as a specific region of the sky that includes both Ptolemy’s pattern and the surrounding stars.

The official boundaries of Andromeda were defined in 1930 by Eugène Delporte as a polygon of 36 segments. Its right ascension is between 22h 57.5m and 2h 39.3m and its declination is between 53.19° and 21.68° in the equatorial coordinate system.

Hindu legends surrounding Andromeda are similar to the Greek myths. Ancient Sanskrit texts depict Antarmada chained to a rock, as in the Greek myth. Scholars believe that the Hindu and Greek astrological myths were closely linked; one piece of evidence cited is the similarity between the names “Antarmada” and “Andromeda”.

Andromeda is also associated with the Mesopotamian creation story of Tiamat, the goddess of Chaos. She bore many demons for her husband, Apsu, but eventually decided to destroy them in a war that ended when Marduk killed her. He used her body to create the constellations as markers of time for humans.

Constellation Perseus

Perseus is a constellation in the northern sky, being named after the Greek mythological hero Perseus. Perseus is bordered by Aries and Taurus to the south, Auriga to the east, Camelopardalis and Cassiopeia to the north, and Andromeda and Triangulum to the west.

In the equatorial coordinate system, the right ascension coordinates of these borders lie between  01h 29.1m and  04h 51.2m, while the declination coordinates are between 30.92° and 59.11°. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted the three-letter abbreviation “Per” for the constellation in 1922.

It appears prominently in the northern sky during the Northern Hemisphere’s spring. Its main asterism consists of 19 stars. It is located near several other constellations named after ancient Greek legends surrounding Perseus, including Andromeda to the west and Cassiopeia to the north.

In Greek mythology, Perseus was the son of Danaë, who was sent by King Polydectes to bring the head of Medusa the Gorgon—whose visage caused all who gazed upon her to turn to stone. Perseus slew Medusa in her sleep, and Pegasus and Chrysaor appeared from her body. Perseus continued to the realm of Cepheus whose daughter Andromeda was to be sacrificed to Cetus the sea monster.

Perseus rescued Andromeda from the monster by killing it with his diamond sword. He turned Polydectes and his followers to stone with Medusa’s head and appointed Dictys the fisherman king. Perseus and Andromeda married and had six children. In the sky, Perseus lies near the constellations Andromeda, Cepheus, Cassiopeia (Andromeda’s mother), Cetus, and Pegasus.

In Neo-Assyrian Babylonia (911–605 BC), the constellation of Perseus was known as the Old Man constellation (SU.GI), then associated with East in the MUL.APIN, an astronomical text from the 7th century.

Perseus is also bordered by Aries and Taurus to the south, Auriga to the east, Camelopardalis to the north, and Triangulum to the west. Some star atlases during the early 19th century also depicted Perseus holding the disembodied head of Medusa, whose asterism was named together as Perseus et Caput Medusae; however, this never came into popular usage.

The galactic plane of the Milky Way passes through Perseus, whose brightest star is the yellow-white supergiant Alpha Persei (also called Mirfak), which shines at magnitude 1.79. It and many of the surrounding stars are members of an open cluster known as the Alpha Persei Cluster. The best-known star, however, is Algol (Beta Persei), linked with ominous legends because of its variability, which is noticeable to the naked eye.

Rather than being an intrinsically variable star, it is an eclipsing binary. Other notable star systems in Perseus include X Persei, a binary system containing a neutron star, and GK Persei, a nova that peaked at magnitude 0.2 in 1901.

The Double Cluster, comprising two open clusters quite near each other in the sky, was known to the ancient Chinese. The constellation gives its name to the Perseus cluster (Abell 426), a massive galaxy cluster located 250 million light-years from Earth. It hosts the radiant of the annual Perseids meteor shower—one of the most prominent meteor showers in the sky.

Cetus

The name of the constellation Cetus also derives from this word. It is often now called the Whale, though it is most strongly associated with Cetus the sea-monster, who was slain by Perseus as he saved the princess Andromeda from Poseidon’s wrath. Although the word “whale” is often used in English versions of the Jonah story, the Hebrew text actually uses the phrase dag gadol, which means “giant fish”.

Cetus is located in the region of the sky called “The Sea” because many water-associated constellations are placed there, including Eridanus, Pisces, Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus and Aquarius. Cetus may have originally been associated with a whale, which would have had mythic status amongst Mesopotamian cultures.

Cetus has been depicted in many ways throughout its history. In Greek art it was depicted as serpentine fish. In the 17th century, Cetus was depicted as a “dragon fish” by Johann Bayer. Both Willem Blaeu and Andreas Cellarius depicted Cetus as a whale-like creature in the same century. However, Cetus has also been variously depicted with animal heads attached to a piscine body.

Although Cetus is not generally considered part of the zodiac, the ecliptic passes less than a quarter of a degree from its constellation boundary, and thus the moon, planets and part of the sun will enter Cetus in most of their successive orbits for brief periods of time.

As seen from Mars, the ecliptic passes into Cetus, with the sun appearing in Cetus for around six days shortly after the northern summer solstice. Mars’s orbit is tilted by 1.85° with respect to Earth’s.

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