Astarte

Astarte (Greek: Ἀστάρτη, Astártē) is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Astoreth (Northwest Semitic), a form of Ishtar (East Semitic), worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.

Statuette Goddess Louvre AO20127
Figurine of Astarte with a horned headdress, Louvre Museum

Name

Astarte is one of a number of names associated with the chief goddess or female divinity of those peoples.[1] She is recorded in Akkadian as As-dar-tu (𒀭𒊍𒁯𒌓D), the masculine form of Ishtar.[2] The name appears in Ugaritic as ʻAthtart or ʻAṯtart (𐎓𐎘𐎚𐎗𐎚), in Phoenician as ʻAshtart or ʻAštart (𐤏𐤔𐤕𐤓𐤕), in Hebrew as Ashtoret (עשתרת).[2] The Hebrews also referred to the Ashtarot or "Astartes" in the plural. The Etruscan Pyrgi Tablets record the name Uni-Astre (𐌖𐌍𐌉 𐌀𐌔𐌕𐌛𐌄).

Overview

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified morning and/or evening star.[2] The deity takes on many names and forms among different cultures and according to Canaanite mythology, is one and the same as the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ištar, taken from the third millennium BC Sumerian goddess Inanna, the first primordial goddess of the planet Venus. Inanna was also known by the Aramaic people as the god Attar, whose myth was construed in a different manner by the people of Greece to align with their own cultural myths and legends, when the Canaanite merchants took the First papyrus from Byblos (the Phoenician city of Gebal) to Greece sometime before the 8th century by a Phoenician called Cadmus the first King of Thebes.

As-Julia Maesa-Sidon AE30 BMC 300
Astarte riding in a chariot with four branches protruding from roof, on the reverse of a Julia Maesa coin from Sidon

Astarte was worshipped in Syria and Canaan beginning in the first millennium BC and was first mentioned in texts from Ugarit. She came from the same Semitic origins as the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, and an Ugaritic text specifically equates her with Ishtar. Her worship spread to Cyprus, where she may have been merged with an ancient Cypriot goddess. This merged Cypriot goddess may have been adopted into the Greek pantheon in Mycenaean and Dark Age times to form Aphrodite. Stephanie Budin, however, argues that Astarte's character was less erotic and more warlike than Ishtar originally was, perhaps because she was influenced by the Canaanite goddess Anat, and that therefore Ishtar, not Astarte, was the direct forerunner of the Cypriot goddess. Greeks in classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times occasionally equated Aphrodite with Astarte and many other Near Eastern goddesses, in keeping with their frequent practice of syncretizing other deities with their own.[3]

Other major centers of Astarte's worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. "She was often depicted on Sidonian coins as standing on the prow of a galley, leaning forward with right hand outstretched, being thus the original of all figureheads for sailing ships."[4] In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.

Other centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre, that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah's name: Athirat.

In Ugarit

In the Baʿal Epic of Ugarit, Athirat, the consort of the god El, plays a role. She is clearly distinguished from Ashtart in the Ugaritic documents, although in non-Ugaritic sources from later periods the distinction between the two goddesses can be blurred; either as a result of scribal error or through possible syncretism.

In Egypt

Fragment of a crudely carved limestone stela showing king Thutmose IV adoring a goddess (probably Astarte). From Thebes, Egypt. 18th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
Fragment of a crudely carved limestone stela showing king Thutmose IV adoring a goddess (probably Astarte). From Thebes, Egypt. 18th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Astarte arrived in ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty along with other deities who were worshipped by northwest Semitic people. She was especially worshipped in her aspect as a warrior goddess, often paired with the goddess Anat.

In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Ra and are given as allies to the god Set, here identified with the Semitic name Hadad. Astarte also was identified with the lioness warrior goddess Sekhmet, but seemingly more often conflated, at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images found of Astarte suckling a small child. Indeed, there is a statue of the 6th century BC in the Cairo Museum, which normally would be taken as portraying Isis with her child Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography follows normal Egyptian conventions, but the dedicatory inscription reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda, for his Lady, for Astarte." See G. Daressy, (1905) pl. LXI (CGC 39291).

Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, indicates that the King and Queen of Byblos, who, unknowingly, have the body of Osiris in a pillar in their hall, are Melcarthus (i.e. Melqart) and Astarte (though he notes some instead call the Queen Saosis or Nemanūs, which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to the Greek name Athenais).[5]

In Phoenicia

Dama de Galera (M.A.N. Madrid) 01
Phoenician figure representing an ancient Mideastern deity, probably the goddess Astarte, called the Lady of Galera (National Archaeological Museum of Spain)

In the description of the Phoenician pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon, Astarte appears as a daughter of Epigeius, "sky" (anc. Greek: Οὐρανός ouranos/ Uranus; Roman god: Caelus) and Ge (Earth), and sister of the god Elus. After Elus overthrows and banishes his father Epigeius, as some kind of trick Epigeius sends Elus his "virgin daughter" Astarte along with her sisters Asherah and the goddess who will later be called Ba`alat Gebal, "the Lady of Byblos".[6] It seems that this trick does not work, as all three become wives of their brother Elus. Astarte bears Elus children who appear under Greek names as seven daughters called the Titanides or Artemides and two sons named Pothos "Longing" (as in πόθος, lust) and Eros "Desire". Later with Elus' consent, Astarte and Hadad reign over the land together. Astarte puts the head of a bull on her own head to symbolize Her sovereignty. Wandering through the world, Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky (a meteorite) and consecrates it at Tyre.

Ashteroth Karnaim (Astarte was called Ashteroth in the Hebrew Bible) was a city in the land of Bashan east of the Jordan River, mentioned in Genesis 14:5 and Joshua 12:4 (where it is rendered solely as Ashteroth). The name translates literally to 'Ashteroth of the Horns', with 'Ashteroth' being a Canaanite fertitility goddess and 'horns' being symbolic of mountain peaks. Figurines of Astarte have been found at various archaeological sites in Israel, showing the goddess with two horns.[7]

Astarte's most common symbol was the crescent moon (or horns), according to religious studies scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell, in his book The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity.[8]

In Judah

Ashtoreth is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a foreign, non-Judahite goddess, the principal goddess of the Sidonians or Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. It is generally accepted that the Masoretic "vowel pointing" adopted c. 135 AD, indicating the pronunciation ʻAštōreṯ ("Ashtoreth," "Ashtoret") is a deliberate distortion of "Ashtart", and that this is probably because the two last syllables have been pointed with the vowels belonging to bōšeṯ, ("bosheth," abomination), to indicate that that word should be substituted when reading.[9] The plural form is pointed ʻAštārōṯ ("Ashtaroth"). The biblical Ashtoreth should not be confused with the goddess Asherah, the form of the names being quite distinct, and both appearing quite distinctly in the First Book of Kings. (In Biblical Hebrew, as in other older Semitic languages, Asherah begins with an aleph or glottal stop consonant א, while ʻAshtoreth begins with an ʻayin or voiced pharyngeal consonant ע, indicating the lack of any plausible etymological connection between the two names.) The biblical writers may, however, have conflated some attributes and titles of the two, as seems to have occurred throughout the 1st millennium Levant.[10] For instance, the title "Queen of heaven" as mentioned in Jeremiah has been connected with both (in later Jewish mythology, she became a female demon of lust; for what seems to be the use of the Hebrew plural form ʻAštārōṯ in this sense, see Astaroth).

Other associations

Some ancient sources assert that in the territory of Sidon the temple of Astarte was sacred to Europa. According to an old Cretan story, Europa was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus, having transformed himself into a white bull, abducted, and carried to Crete.[11]

Some scholars claim that the cult of the Minoan snake goddess who is identified with Ariadne (the "utterly pure")[12] was similar to the cult of Astarte. Her cult as Aphrodite was transmitted to Cythera and then to Greece.[13] Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world's largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities.

Her name is the second name in an energy chant sometimes used in Wicca: "Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna."[14]

See also

References

  1. ^ Merlin Stone. When God Was A Woman. (Harvest/HBJ 1976)
  2. ^ a b c K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, p. 109-10.
  3. ^ Budin, Stephanie L. (2004). "A Reconsideration of the Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism". Numen. 51 (2): 95–145.
  4. ^ (Snaith, The Interpreter's Bible, 1954, Vol. 3, p. 103)
  5. ^ Griffiths, J. Gwyn, Plutarch's De Iside et Osiride, pp. 325–327
  6. ^ Je m'appelle Byblos, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, H & D, 2005, p. 73. ISBN 2 914 266 04 9
  7. ^ Raphael Patai. The Hebrew Goddess. (Wayne State University Press 1990). ISBN 0-8143-2271-9 p. 57.
  8. ^ Jeffrey Burton Russell. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. (Cornell University Press 1977). ISBN 0-8014-9409-5 p. 94.
  9. ^ John Day, "Yahweh and the gods and goddesses of Canaan", p.128. Books.google.com.au. 2002-12-01. ISBN 9780826468307. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  10. ^ Mark S. Smith, "The early history of God", p.129. Books.google.com.au. 2002-08-03. ISBN 9780802839725. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  11. ^ Lucian of Samosata. De Dea Syria.
  12. ^ Barry B. Powell. Classical Myth with new translation of ancient texts by H. M. Howe. Upper Saddle River. New Jersey. Prentice Hall Inc. 1998. p. 368.
  13. ^ R. Wunderlich. The Secret of Creta. Efstathiadis Group. Athens 1987. p. 134.
  14. ^ BURNING TIMES/CHANT, Charles Murphy, in Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at sacred-texts.com
  • Donald Harden, The Phoenicians (2nd ed., revised, London, Penguin 1980). ISBN 0-14-021375-9
  • Georges Daressy, Statues de Divinités, (CGC 38001-39384), vol. II (Cairo, Imprimerie de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1905).
  • Gerd Scherm, Brigitte Tast, Astarte und Venus. Eine foto-lyrische Annäherung (Schellerten 1996), ISBN 3-88842-603-0.

Further reading

  • Sugimoto, David T., ed. (2014). Transformation of a Goddess: Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite. Academic Press Fribourg / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Göttingen. ISBN: 978-3-7278-1748-9 / ISBN: 978-3-525-54388-7

External links

672 Astarte

672 Astarte is a minor planet orbiting the Sun.

Aglibol

Aglibôl was a lunar deity in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. His name means "Calf of Bel" ("Calf of the Lord").

Aglibôl is depicted with a lunar halo decorating his head and sometimes his shoulders, and one of his attributes is the sickle moon.

Aglibôl is linked with the sun god Yarḥibôl in a famous trinity. He is also associated with the Syrian versions of Astarte "Venus" and with Arṣu "Evening Star".

Aglibôl's cult continued into Hellenic times and was later extended to Rome.

Amphion-class submarine

The Amphion class (also known as the "A" class and Acheron class) of British diesel-electric submarines were designed for use in the Pacific War. Only two were completed before the end of hostilities, but following modernisation in the 1950s, they continued to serve in the Royal Navy into the 1970s.

Astarte (band)

Astarte was an all-female black metal band from Athens, Greece, named after the goddess Astarte.

Astarte (bivalve)

Astarte is a genus of bivalve mollusc in the Astartidae family. It was circumscribed by James Sowerby in 1816. As of 2017, WoRMS recognizes approximately 33 species in this genus.Species include:

Astarte acuticostata Friele, 1877

Astarte arctica (Gray, 1824)

Astarte borealis (Schumacher, 1817)

Astarte castanea (Say, 1822)

Astarte crebricostata McAndrew & Forbes, 1847

Astarte crenata (Gray, 1824)

Astarte elliptica (Brown, 1827)

Astarte fusca (Poli, 1791)

Astarte montagui (Dillwyn, 1817)

Astarte subaequilatera G. B. Sowerby II, 1854

Astarte sulcata (da Costa, 1778)

Astarte undata Gould, 1841Approximately nine of its species can be found in the waters of Europe.

Astarte castanea

Astarte castanea, or the chestnut astarte, is a species of bivalve mollusc in the family Astartidae. It can be found along the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from Nova Scotia to New Jersey.

Astarte elliptica

Astarte elliptica, or the elliptical astarte, is a species of bivalve mollusc in the family Astartidae. It can be found along the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from Greenland to Massachusetts.

Astartidae

Astartidae is a family of bivalves related in the order Carditoida.

Boloria astarte

The Astarte fritillary (Boloria astarte) is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae. It is found from northwestern North America to northeastern Siberia. It is found as far south as Montana and Washington.

The wingspan is 42–51 mm. The butterfly flies from mid-June to mid-August.The larvae feed on spotted saxifrage (Saxifraga bronchialis).

Callicore astarte

Callicore astarte, the Astarte eighty-eight, is a species of butterfly of the family Nymphalidae. It is found from Mexico south to Brazil.

Dixeia pigea

Dixeia pigea, the ant-heap small white or ant-heap white, is a butterfly in the family Pieridae that is native to Africa.

Europa (consort of Zeus)

In Greek mythology, Europa (; Ancient Greek: Εὐρώπη, Eurṓpē, Attic Greek pronunciation: [eu̯.rɔ̌ː.pɛː]) was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman of Phoenician origin, after whom the continent Europe is named. The story of her abduction by Zeus in the form of a bull was a Cretan story; as classicist Károly Kerényi points out, "most of the love-stories concerning Zeus originated from more ancient tales describing his marriages with goddesses. This can especially be said of the story of Europa."Europa's earliest literary reference is in the Iliad, which is commonly dated to the 8th century BC. Another early reference to her is in a fragment of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, discovered at Oxyrhynchus. The earliest vase-painting securely identifiable as Europa dates from mid-7th century BC.

Phoenicia

Phoenicia (; from the Ancient Greek: Φοινίκη, Phoiníkē) was a thalassocratic, ancient Semitic-speaking Mediterranean civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon, in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it was centered on the coastal areas of Lebanon and included northern Israel, and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad, but there is some dispute as to how far south it went, the furthest suggested area being Ashkelon. Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, such as Cádiz in Spain and most notably Carthage in North Africa, and even the Atlantic Ocean. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

Phoenicia is an ancient Greek term used to refer to the major export of the region, cloth dyed Tyrian purple from the Murex mollusc, and referred to the major Canaanite port towns; not corresponding precisely to Phoenician culture as a whole as it would have been understood natively. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece,, centered in modern Lebanon, of which the most notable cities were Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos, and Carthage. Each city-state was a politically independent unit, and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other residents of the Levant, such as their close relatives and neighbors, the Israelites.Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures, including the Roman alphabet used by Western civilization today.

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway (born 22 September 1971) is the only daughter and elder child of King Harald V and Queen Sonja. She is fourth in the line of succession to the Norwegian throne, after her brother Haakon, and his children.

Qetesh

Qetesh (also Qadesh, Qedesh, Qetesh, Kadesh, Kedesh, Kadeš or Qades ) is a goddess, who was adopted during the late Bronze Age from the religion of Canaan into the ancient Egyptian religion during its New Kingdom. She was a fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure, and became a popular deity.

The name was probably vocalized by Egyptians as, *Qātiša, from the Semitic root Q-D-Š meaning 'holy'. Her city of worship was Qadesh in present day Syria.

Ruda (deity)

Ruda is a deity that was of paramount importance in the Arab pantheon of gods worshipped by the North Arabian tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia. The etymology of his name gives the meaning "well disposed" an indication of his function as a protective deity. The oldest reference to Ruda is found in the annals of Esarhaddon who ruled over the Assyrian empire from 681 to 669 BC. The name is transliterated into Latin script from the original Akkadian as Ru-ul-da-a-a-ú and he is mentioned among the gods of the Arabs. Known as Arsu among the Palmyrans, in a later Aramaic inscription, Arsu/Ruda is paired with the Syrian god Resheph, a protective deity for his worshippers from the 3rd millennium BC.Dierk Lange writes that Ruda formed part of a trinity of gods worshipped by the Assyrian-attested Yumu´il confederation of northern Arabian tribes, which he identifies with the Ishmaelites. According to Lange, Ruda was the moon deity, Nuha the sun deity, and Atarsamain the main deity was associated with Venus.Inscriptions in a North Arabian dialect found in the region of Najd refer to Ruda and other gods of the Arab pantheon, providing evidence of how all things good and bad were attributed to the agency of gods. Examples of such inscriptions referring to Ruda include, "by Ruda are we" and "by Ruda is weeping".A trinity of gods representing the sun, moon and Venus is also found among the peoples of the South Arabian kingdoms of Awsan, Ma'in, Qataban and Hadramawt between the 9th and 4th centuries BC. There, the deity associated with Venus was Astarte, the sun deity was Yam, and moon deity was variously called Wadd, Amm and Sin.

Smerinthus cerisyi

Smerinthus cerisyi, the one-eyed sphinx or Cerisy's sphinx, is a moth of the family Sphingidae. The species was first described by William Kirby who named the species in honor of Alexandre Louis Lefèbvre de Cérisy in 1837. It is known from south-eastern Alaska, the southern parts of all Canadian provinces and in the northern border states of the United States south into northern Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio and along the west coast to southern California, eastward to the Rocky Mountains and into western New Mexico north to western North Dakota. It has also been recorded from Illinois and as far south as Missouri.

The wingspan is about 95 mm. The species is found mostly in summer.

The larvae feed on willow (Salix) and poplar (Populus).

Tanit

Tanit was a Punic and Phoenician goddess, the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Baal-hamon. She was also adopted by the Berber people.

Tanit is also called Tinnit, Tannou, or Tangou. The name appears to have originated in Carthage (modern day Tunisia), though it does not appear in local theophorous names. She was equivalent to the moon-goddess Astarte, and later worshipped in Roman Carthage in her Romanized form as Dea Caelestis, Juno Caelestis, or simply Caelestis.

In modern-day Tunisian Arabic, it is customary to invoke Omek Tannou or Oumouk Tangou ('Mother Tannou' or 'Mother Tangou', depending on the region), in years of drought to bring rain. Similarly, Tunisian and many other spoken forms of Arabic refer to "Baali farming" to refer to non-irrigated agriculture.

Zadig

Zadig ou la Destinée (Zadig, or The Book of Fate; 1747) is a novella and work of philosophical fiction by the Enlightenment writer Voltaire. It tells the story of Zadig, a philosopher in ancient Babylonia. The author does not attempt any historical accuracy, and some of the problems Zadig faces are thinly disguised references to social and political problems of Voltaire's own day.

It was originally published as Memnon in Amsterdam (with a false imprint of London given) and first issued under its more familiar title in 1748.

The book makes use of the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip. It is philosophical in nature, and presents human life as in the hands of a destiny beyond human control. Voltaire challenges religious and metaphysical orthodoxy with his presentation of the moral revolution taking place in Zadig himself. Zadig is one of Voltaire's most celebrated works after Candide. Many literary critics have praised Voltaire's use of contradiction and juxtaposition.

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