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Berosus

(375 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen)
[German version] of Babylon. Priest of Bēl/Marduk, contemporary of Alexander [4] the Great's (FGrH 680 T 1), author of a Chaldean history in three volumes for  Antiochus [2] I, transmitted with the titles Babylōniaká (F1 [1], F 2) or Chaldaiká (T 8a, 7a, 11). Vol. 1: Geography of Babylon (modelled on Hellenistic ethnography); fish-man ( apkallu synonym for sage) Oannes as the bearer of culture; cosmogony; anthropogony. Vol. 2: 10 antediluvian kings; account of the flood; list of post-diluvian dynasties with their sages ( apkall) up to Nabû-nsir (8th cent. BC), on the lines of t…

Chthonic deities

(2,098 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen) | Schlesier, Renate (Paderborn)
(Χθόνιοι θεοí; Chthónioi theoí). [German version] I. Ancient Near East The Earth and the Heavens that fertilized her with rain were central to the world view of Ancient Oriental agrarian cultures. Their separation marks the beginning of creation (Sumerian ‘Creation of the Hoe’, 6,51ff.; Hittite Kumarbi Myth ( Kumarbi),  Ullikummi, Song of) but a link holds them together (Geštinanna, ‘the Heavenly Vine’). The disc of the Earth floats in the freshwater ocean  Apsû that is governed by  Enki, who in turn live…

Dagan

(397 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen)
[German version] (Akkadian Dagān, Hebrew dāgōn, Greek Dagṓn [1]). The etymology of the word is unknown. Descriptions equating him with the Hurrite god Kumarbi, who is called halki ‘grain’, however also suggest an agrarian nature [2]; this is taken up again in Philo of Byblus who lists D. as the third of the four sons of Uranus and describes him as ‘Dagan who is wheat’ (Euseb. Praep. evang. 1,10,36b [3]). Attested in western Semitic mythology as the son of  El and father of  Baal, D. is one of the central deities of the we…

Divine kingship

(144 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen)
[German version] Divine kingship in the sense of J. G. Frazer (1854-1941) and I. Engnell [1], i.e. connected with the New Year's festival and the death and rebirth of the god ( Tammuz) is not encountered in the ancient Near East. H. Frankfort’s distinction between ‘divine kingship’ and ‘sacral kingship’ [2], i.e. between the venerated king and the venerator king as priest, was a step towards but narrows the perspective to the area of cult. As already outlined by Labat [3], ancient Near Eastern tex…

Autobiography

(2,386 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen) | Görgemanns, Herwig (Heidelberg) | Berschin, Walter (Heidelberg)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient A heterogeneous group of texts exists in the Ancient Orient which are supposed, on the basis of the categories of form (1st person singular) and semantics (reflection on past behaviour in respect of a current or future search for meaning), to be of an autobiographical character. In Mesopotamia this includes on the one hand texts which, written at a later point, give a more or less fictitious report of an episode in the life of great rulers of the past, for instance …

Ecstasy

(993 words)

Author(s): Pongratz-Leisten, Beate (Tübingen) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Mesopotamia, the ecstatic state is described as maḫû, ‘to be outside of oneself, to be crazy, to rave’. It is possible that the verb tebû, ‘to elevate oneself’, used in the Mari-Letters already points to the special mental state of a  prophet. The term maḫḫû, ‘ecstatic’, is documented again and again since the 24th cent. BC [1]. Ecstasy occurs primarily in the context of delivering oracles at the temple and is therefore controllable. Ecstasy is a method of legitimizing divine communication ( Divination). Fo…