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Myth

(8,403 words)

Author(s): Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH) | Zgoll, Annette (Leipzig) | Quack, Joachim (Berlin) | Hazenbos, Joost (Leipzig) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
I. Theory of myth [German version] A. Definition Despite many attempts, it has proven impossible to arrive at a definition of myth (Gr. μῦθος/ mýthos; Lat. mythos) that would satisfy all disciplines. The most satisfactory one refers to G.S. Kirk and W. Burkert who described myth as a ‘traditional narrative of collective significance’ [1; 2]. Still, this definition fails to fully represent the function of myth in the time after Classical Antiquity, when we find myths in entertaining narratives such as Ovidius's ‘Metamorphoses or Nonnus's Dionysiaká. T…

Demons

(2,953 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Macuch, Maria (Berlin) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Mesopotamia did not develop a generic term for demons. A large number of immortal beings was known that each had their own name and acted as servants of the gods and as enemies or helpers of humans. They did not have cults of their own. Since demons were only able to exercise their limited powers, which manifested themselves in physical and psychological illnesses, with the approval of the gods, they were part of the existing world order. Thus, in the Babylonian tale …

Casium

(172 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] (Κάσιον sc. ὄρος). Hellenized form of Hurrite Ḫazzi, name of the 1,770 m high Ǧebel al-Aqra, i.e. Ṣaphon, the mount of the gods with the residence of the god  Baal

Anat

(213 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] A goddess known from Ugarit, appearing in the 7th cent. BC as Anatbethel in the treaty of  Asarhaddon with Baal of Tyrus [4. no. 5 IV 6], in Asarhaddon's follow-up treaty [4. no. 6 § 54 A 467], as well as in the 5th cent. BC, when she appears under the name of Anatjahu as the Paredra of  Jahwe in Elephantine [5]. She was also possibly Jahwe's paredra in Samaria as early as the 8th cent. BC. In the OT, A. only exists as an element in place names (Jos 15,59; 19,38; Jer 1,1 and passi…

Baal

(1,388 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] (Semitic bal, fem. balat; Greek Bḗlos, ‘Lord’, ‘Owner’, ‘Ruler’, ‘Master’, ‘Husband’). Since the 3rd millennium BC, the term B. was used to address God in the Syrian-Phoenician area (in the sense of ‘B. is almighty, ruler of order over chaos, lord of the heavens and the world and King’). At the same time, B. also designated individual or local deities when combined with toponyms (‘lord’ of a city, of a mountain range etc.) or with natural phenomena (‘lord’ of thunder, of rain etc., namely B. as weather god). In  Ugarit's lists of gods, B. always follows  El and Dagan [2. 1.47,5, 1.118,4, r 20.24,4]. Six other B. figures also appear there [2. 1.47,6-11, 1.118,5-10, RS 20.24,5-10]. In ritual texts, B. is often called B. Zaphon, ‘lord of the (mountain) Zaphon’ ( Casium’) [2. 1.39,10, 1.46,14, 1.65,10 and passim]. According to myth, B. defeats Jam, god of the sea [2. 1,1f.], then builds a palace in order to become king [2. 1.1,3f.], but at times loses the fight to Mut, the god of death [2. 1.5f.]. His pare…

Elagabalus

(1,151 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Birley, A. R. (Düsseldorf)
[German version] [1] Name of a deity Name of a deity, based on its earliest attestation (Palmyrene stele of Nazala, 1st cent. AD), it can be etymologically derived from lhbl (Hdn. 5,3,4: Elaiagabalos). Since lh is present in the status emphaticus, E. must be read as the ‘God Mountain’ [8. 503f.]. The image on the stele also speaks for this [1. 707]. The mountain signifies the citadel mountain of  Emesa (Ḥimṣ) with the temple of E. [6. 257f.; 8. 509f.], which is indicated in ancient descriptions (Avien. Descriptio orbis 1083-1093) and an altar find with the dedication ‘To the god Helios Elagabalus’ [6. 257-259; 9]. Because the elite of Emesa has been Arabic since the pre-Christian period, an Arabic origin of E. has been considered. Howev…

Atargatis

(283 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] (Ἀταργάτις; Atargátis: Isidorus [2] from Charax GGM 1,249; Ἀτταγάθη; : [9. 109]; Ἀταράτη Atargátē: Simpl. in Aristot. Ph. 641,33 f.; Ἀταργάτη [6 59 f.]. The goddess A. is docume…

Astarte

(151 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] The goddess A., symbolized by the evening star, appears many times in the  Ugarit texts [1: 1. 43.1-8; 1. 47.25; 1. 92.2 and passim]. There are traits in her of the Babylonian Ištar. In Phoenician religion she is found in the panthea of Tyre (KAI 17) and Sidon (KAI 13; 14). There is evidence of her cult in the Mediterranean islands as far as Spain, and also in Israel. Her domains can be ascertained as love, fe…

Divination

(6,021 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Wiesehöfer, Josef (Kiel) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia While attention in old Egyptian culture was largely centred on existence after death, the concerns of Mesopotamia were almost exclusively with the present. A significant part of the cultural energy of ancient Mesopotamia was devoted to keeping human actions in harmony with the divine, so as to ward off such misfortunes as natural catastrophes, war, sickness and premature death. As such, heavy responsibility rested on the ruler as mediator between the world of gods and that of men. …

Heliopolitanus

(228 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] The chief god of the Biqāʿ Plain, in which the Arabian kingdom of the Ituraeans ( Ituraea) had been established from the 2nd cent. BC, had been since the pre-Arabian period the ‘Lord of the Biqāʿ’ ( bʿl bqʿ). Under the name of Zeus Helios or Juppiter (Optimus Maximus) H., he was worshipped in Roman times in  Baalbek (= Heliopolis), where his main temple was erected on older remains. His solarisation must have been the result of Ptolemaic influence. Well attested iconographically and epigraphically, this god is a  wea…

Dusares

(277 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen)
[German version] At the head of the Nabataean pantheon was the god Dusares (e.g. in Tert. Apol. 24,8; Nabatean Dušarā/ dw-šr; Δουσαρης in Greek inscriptions) (Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique (=RES) 1401; CIS II 350,3-4). His name (‘he from the Šarā[-mountains]’) shows him as a local mountain or  weather god of the  Petra [1] region. The oldest evidence for the name of this deity dates from c. 96/95 BC, an inscription from the Triclinium of Aṣlaḫ in Petra (RES 1432). More insight into the character of this god is provided by bilingual inscriptions, which mention his nam…

Palmyra

(2,557 words)

Author(s): Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Kaizer, Ted (Oxford)
This item can be found on the following maps: Achaemenids | Syria | Theatre | Caesar | Zenobia | | Coloniae | Commerce | India, trade with | Limes | Aegean Koine (Πάλμυρα/ Pálmyra, Semitic Tadmor). [German version] I. History Oasis in central Syria, c. 240 km north-east of Damascus and c. 200 km west of the Euphrates. P., from which routes led to Emesa (Ḥimṣ), Ḥamāh and Aleppo, was an important caravan station on the route from Mesopotamia to central Syria, Lebanon and Arabia. This made P. one of the richest and most influential cities in Syria from the 1st to the 3rd cents. AD. Epigraphically, P.…

Priests

(4,255 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Quack, Joachim (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Gordon, Richard L. (Ilmmünster) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia From the 3rd millennium to the end of Mesopotamian civilization, the staff of Mesopotamian temples consisted of the cult personnel in the narrower sense - i.e. the priests and priestesses who looked after the official cult in the temples, the cult musicians and singers - and the service staff (male and female courtyard cleaners, cooks, etc.). In addition, there was the hierarchically structured administrative and financial staff of the temple households, which constit…