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Anguipede Goddess

Anguipede Goddess

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Anguipede Goddess, snakes
Anguipede Goddess, snakes

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Published by: EzKeezE on Feb 16, 2013
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11/11/2013

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Yulia
Ustinova
6
SNAKE-LIMBED
AND
TENDRIL-LIMBED
GODDESSES
IN
THE
ART
AND
MYTHOLOGY
OFTHE
MEDITERRANEAN
AND
BLACK
SEA
Introduction
The
image
of
the
snake-
or
tendril-limbedselni-human
female
Illonster
is
attestedin
variousparts
of
Eurasia,
inboth
archaeology
and
mythology.
However,
researchers
usually
eitherconcentrate
on
theiconography
of
Rankenfrau,
I
or
discuss
the
Scythian
anguipede
goddess
with
brief
mention
of
analogues
elsewhere.This
chapter
attempts
a
synthesis,
using
Mediterraneanarchaeology
and
comparative
data
frOlll
other
cultures.
The
Anguipede
Goddess
and
the
ScythianGenealogicalMyth'
There
are
five
main
versions
of
this
myth:
two
arerecorded
by
Herodotus
(4.5
and
8-10);
theothersarefound
in
Valerius
Flaccus
(6.
48-59),Diodorus
Siculus
(2.43)
and
the
TabulaAlbana
(leXIV
1293
A
93-96).
1.
Herodotus
refersto
hisfirstversion
only
briefly,saying
that
theparents
of
the
first
man,
Targitaos,
were
Zeus
and
a
daughter
of
the
liver
Borysthenes.
2.
The
second
legend
is
nanated
in
detail.
Heracles
with
Geryon'scattle
reached
aScythianwasteland.His
mares
disappeared
while
he
wasasleep;
lookingfor
themhe
anivedat
a
landnamed
Hylaea(Wood
land).
There,in
acave,
he
found
a
creature
which
washalf-female,half-snake.
She
told
him
that
she
was
the
mistress
of
the
country.
This
monsterkept
the
horses,
untilHeracles
gave
her
three
sons;
the
64
 
Snake-Limbed
and
Tendril-LimbedGaddesses
youngest,
named
Scythes,
became
theforefatherandfirstking
of
the
Scythians.
3.AccordingtoValetiusFlaccus,Scythiansweredescendants
of
Colaxes,
the
son
of
Jupiterand
Hora,anymphwithahalf-animalbody,living
near
thesprings
of
Tibisis.4.InDiodorus'account,thefirstScythian
named
Scythes,whowasalso
the
firstking,was
the
son
of
anearth-bornsnake-limbed
maiden,
impregnated
by
Zeus.
5.Intheepigraphicversion,Heracleswouldunitewithadaughter
of
another
liver-god,Araxes,whose
name
was
Echidna.
The
offspring
of
this
union
wereAgathyrsusandScythes,theprogenitors
of
Scythians.
65
The
lllonstrous
Scythianancestresshas
the
same
principal
characteristics
in
all
these
versions.As
the
daughter
either
of
ariver-god
orof
theearth,
dwelling
in
acave,
she
is
manifestly
chthonic.
In
allversions(savepossibly
the
first)
she
ishalf-female,half-snake.
Further,
she
is
almostunanimouslyidentified
with
Api'
on
two
main
grounds:
firstly,
in
some
versionsZeus
is
the
partner
of
the
snake
limbed
monster,
andHerodotus
(4.59)
called
Apihiswife;
and
secondly,
the
name
of
Api-Ce,
the
goddess
of
earth,
4
istaken
to
indicate
a
connection
withwater:
the
Scythianancestresswasa
daughter
of
ariver-god.
But
the
identification
will
not
do.First,
the
daughter
of
alocalriver-god
can
hardly
be
acosmic
primordial
deity,
equal
in
Herodotus'
opinion
to
the
Greek
Ge(Hdt.
4.59).
Secondly,especiallygiven
that
Scythiankings
had
severalwives
(Hdt.
4.78),
the
ScythianZeus
could
easily
have
had
offspring
from
several
partners
other
than
Api,as
did
his
Greekcounterpart.
Accordingly,
Herodotus
does
not
name
the
snake-femaleasApi.
Small
wonder
that
the
othersources
describe
her
asa
"nymph
withasemi-bestialbody",
Araxes'
daughter,
or
an
anguipede
earth-born
maiden.
In
cult,
the
Scythianancestress
is
closely
related
toArgimapasa,
Scythian
Aphrodite
Ourania.'Further
the
Scythian
anguipede
goddess
also
resembles
another
monstrous
goddess,
linked
with
Aphrodite
of
Ascalon,
namelyDerceto
Atargatis.
For
they
both
have
monstrous
bodies,
fertility-vegetationsymbolism,myths
of
sexuality
and
an
associationwith
Aphrodite.
The
name
of
the
Scythian
Aphrodite
Ourania
is
usually
rendered
as
'Argimpasa'(Hdt.
4.59).
It
seems
that
Scythians
believed
that
some
of
their
fellows
plundered
the
sanctuary
of
Aphrodite
at
Ascalon
during
theiroccupation
of
Asia
(Hdt.
1.105).
Aphrodite
punishedthemand
their
descendants
\vitha
"female
disease",which
causedimpotence.
With
the
affliction
thegoddess
gavealso
the
gift
of
prophecy
(Hdt.
4.67).6
While
Scythian
Argimpasa
was
certainly
not
identical
\vith
Aphrodite
of
Ascalon,
the
ScythiaJ1S
of
Herodotus'
day
were
aware
of
their
similarity.
The
sanctuary
of
Aphrodite
in
Ascalonwas
thought
her
most
ancient
sanctuary
(Hdt.
1.105):
nodoubt
she
is
the
Semitic
Astarte.'
Ishtar,
itshouldbementioned,
was
believed
to
change
men
into
women
and
WOIllen
into
men,s
which
is
also
a
characteristic
feature
of
thegoddess
of
Ascalon.
Diodorus
(2.4.2-6)relates
the
myth
ofDercet0
9:
sheoffendedAphrodite
and
 
Iconography
of
the
Anguipede
Goddessin
Scythia
An
entire
series
of
artefactsfrom
Scythia
(mainly
from
thefourthcentury
Be
and
made
by
Greeks
for
the
Scythian
market)
clearly
represents
the
anguipede
goddess
of
the
Scythian
genealogicalmyth.
12
Ahnost
allCQlne
from
b u r i a l s . l . ~
Yct
some
caution
is
needed:
in
Russian-language
scholarship
the
term
"anguipede
goddess"
is
applied
toseveral
iconographic
types,
whereas
only
one
of
them
depictsthe
snake-limbed
monster
proper.
14
A
gold
pendant
from
the
Kul'-Oba
tumulus
(Fig.
6.1.4)
portrays
a
goddess
with
snake-like
legs,
griffins'
heads
grmvingbelow
her
waist,
and
lions'
heads
rising
from
her
shoulders;shehas
smallwings,
wears
a
calathus
J
and
holds
a
severed
beardedhead
in
her
hane!.
The
snakes
and
griffins
characterize
this
goddess
as
Potniatheron,
and
link
her
with
Medusa
and
Echidna.
The
snake-limbed
goddess
is
shownwinged
on
pendant"
frorn
two
indigenous
sites
in
the
Asiatic
Bosporus:the
Bol'shaya
Bliznitsa
tmuulus
(Fig.
6.1.2-3)
and
the
Ust'-Labinskaya
group
of
settlements.
E,
A
similar
pendant
was
discovered
ill
a
vault
in
Hellenistic
Chersonesus,
together
with
pendants
featuring
a
severed
head.
16
A
group
of
horse-head
plates
from
the
Tsymbalova
Mogila
tumulus
(Fig.
6.1.5)
contains
a
forehead-piece
representing
a
goddess
withsnake-likelegs,
griffins'
heads
and
vegetal
tendrils
beneath
her
legs
and
above
the
calathus.
suffered
greatshame
and
grief;finally,
shethrew
herselfinto
a
deep
lake
ncar
Ascalon,
where
she
metamorphosed
into
afish.
The
Semitic
name
ofDerceto
is
Atargatis.
HJ
And
inscriptions
mentioning
Atargatis
often
identify
her
as
Hagne
Aphrodite.Further,
Atargatis,
the
supreme
goddess
of
Syria,
had
sacred
pools
in
her
sanctuaries;
she
was
portrayed
withfish,aswellaswithleaves
or
vines
around
her
forehead.
Fish
(and
the
representation
of
the
goddessintheform
of
afish)
perhaps
symbolize
the
fertile
power
of
water.
Meanwhile,
repre
sentations
of
Atargatis
with
lions
recall
Cybele
and
the
idea
of
animal
fecundity.
Lucian
actuallystates
that
the
Syrian
goddess
is
very
likeCybele
(DeDeaSyria
15)
and
tbat
the
myths
and
cults
of
both
goddesses
included
self-castration
and
transvestite
rites
(DeDeaSyria
15-27,
50-2).
At
Ascalon,
however
Derceto
seems
to
have
been
subordinate
to
Aphrodite·
Astarte.
The
pairing
of
a
great
and
a
minor
goddess,
thelatter
onlysemi-human,
is
known
elsewhere.
In
Ephesus,Aphrodisias
and
other
cuitic
centres,
where
essentiallyverysilnilar
great
goddesses
'were
worshipped,
a
female
creature
with
tendril-shaped
legsalso
appeared:
weshall
return
to
them
later.
This
splitting
of
the
fertility-vegetation
deity
into
twofigures,
one
of
themaugust
and
entirely
anthropomorphic,
and
the
second
one
half-animal,
existed
also
in
Scytho
Maeotian
religion.
II
Accordingly,
the
literary
evidencedoes
not
exclude
a
link
betweenthe
Scythian
chthonic/aquatic
goddess
and
Api-Ge,
short
of
identification.
On
the
contrary,
thesnake-limbed
ancestress
of
the
Scythians
is
very
much
akin
to
Derceto
Atargatis,
both
of
themconnected
with
Aphrodite.
66
Scythians
and
Greeks

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