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The lRiddle of Resurrection
"Dying and Rising Gods"
in the Ancient Near East
Almqvist & Wiksell International

Tryggve N.D. Mettinger

The Riddle of Resurrection

"Dying and Rising Gods"
in the Ancient Near East

Almqvist & Wiksell International, Stockholm
English language edjtor:('Jai;nes M. Starr
.. ,.. ; r\, .'
Mettinger, Tryggve N.D., The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the
Ancient Near East.
Stockholm 2001. Monograph. ISBN 91-22-01945-6
Author's address: Lund University, Department of Theology
Allhelgona Kyrkogata 8, SE-223 62 LUND, Sweden.
From the 1930's through the rest of the century, a consensus has developed to the effect
that the "dying and rising gods" died but did not return or rise to live again. The present
work-which is the first monograph on the whole issue subsequent to the studies by
Frazer and Baudissin-is a detailed critique of this position. It is based on a fresh
perusal of all the relevant source material from the ancient Near East, Egypt, and the
Graeco-Roman world and profits from new finds of great importance. Modem theory
in comparative religion and anthropology on the nature of rite and myth informs the
discussion. The author concludes that Dumuzi, Baal, and Melqart were dying and ris-
ing gods already in pre-Christian times and that Adonis and Eshmun may well have
been so too. Osiris dies and rises but remains all the time in the Netherworld. The dei-
ties that die and rise do not represent one specific type of god (e.g. the Baal-Hadad
type) but are deities of widely divergent origin and character. The book is of interest to
scholars and students of the Bible, the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean world, and
Comparative religion.
This abstract may be reproduced by anyone who so wants.
Suggestions for keywords:
religion, ancient Near East, Bible, West Semitic religion, Canaanite religion, Phoeni-
cian religion, Hellenistic cults, "dying and rising gods", "the living God", Baal, Ado-
nis, Melqart, Eshmun, Heracles, Asclepius, Tammuz, Osiris, Damu, resurrection,
descent to the Netherworld, J.G. Frazer, W. Baudissin.
Published with grants from the Swedish Research Council and the Royal Academy of
Letters, History and Antiquities.
Tryggve N.D. Mettinger 2001. All rights reserved.
Distributed by Almqvist & Wiksell International, Stockholm, Sweden
Address: P.O.Box 7634, SE-103 94 Stockholm, Sweden
Telno: Int.+ 46 8 613 61 00
Faxno: Int.+ 46 8 24 25 43
e-mail: order@ city .akademi
Printed by Wallin & Dalholm, Lund. ISBN 91-22-01945-6
Monographs by Tryggve N.D. Mettinger
Solomonic State Officials: A Study of the Civil Government Officials of the Israelite
Monarchy (ConBOT 5). 1971. Out of print.
King and Messiah: The Civil and Sacral Legitimation of the Israelite Kings (ConBOT
8). 1976. Available.
The Dethronement of Sabaoth: Studies in the Shem and Kabod Theologies (ConBOT
18). 1982. Available.
A Farewell to the Servant Songs: A Critical Examination of an Exegetical Axiom
(Scripta Minora. Regiae Societatis Humaniorum Litterarum Lundensis 1982-1983: 3).
1983. Out of print.
In Search of God: The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names. 1988. Out of
print. Also in Swedish: Namnet och Niirvaron. J 987. Out of print. And in Spanish: Bus-
cando aDios. 1994. Available.
No Graven Image? Israelite Aniconism in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context (ConBOT
42). 1995. Available.
The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East
(ConBOT 50). 2001. Available.
"The archetype of archetypes"-M.H. Abrams, a renowned scholar of
comparative literature, thus described "the death-rebirth theme" which
is "held to be grounded in the cycle of seasons and the organic cycle of
human life", and which is claimed to inform primitive rituals and myths
and a multitude of diverse literary works, including the Bible, Dante's
Divina Commedia, and numerous other writings. A study of "dying and
rising gods" in the ancient Near East is thus a humanities' enterprise of
the first order. The study of such a theme in ancient cultures is seldom
a simple task. More than once I have recalled Thomas Mann's wise
words in the prologue to Joseph und seine Bruder: "Tief ist der Brunnen
der Vergangenheit. Sollte man ihn nicht unergrtindlich nennen?" Prob-
ing the depths of the well of the past, one only too often has to be satis-
fied with a laconic ignoramus.
My interest in these "dying and rising gods" goes back to the 1980's
when I happened to read a fine dissertation in Hebrew Bible where a
section was devoted to a dismantling of the scholarly notion of dying
and rising deities. A recent rereading of the Ugaritic Baal Cycle made
me feel a slight uneasiness, but I could not then decide whether the
problem was in my own understanding of the Baal material or in my
colleague's perception of this and related material. I felt the urge to ex-
plore the whole issue and form my own opinion. I did not find the time
for this until 1996, when I started my project. The present study appears
at a time when the critique of the scholarly notion of dying and rising
gods has become increasingly strong, beginning with de Vaux's study
in 1933 and culminating in MarkS. Smith's 1998 essay with the telling
title, "The Death of 'Dying and Rising Gods' in the Biblical World."
There is now what amounts to a scholarly consensus against the appro-
priateness of the concept. Those who still think differently are looked
upon as residual members of an almost extinct species.
The results of my investigation led me to challenge this scholarly
consensus and to disagree with a number of colleagues whom I greatly
esteem. The issues are controversial. I submit the present monograph as
a contribution to a dialogue about a fascinating problem. If our answers
differ, our questions are often common ground-and that is always a
worthwhile starting point.
The issues discussed are of interest not only to scholars of the an-
cient Near East, the Mediterranean world, and the Bible, but also to stu-
dents of comparative religion. With an eye to the latter group of readers
I have endeavoured to supply translations of the source material I refer
to. I would have preferred to give also the corresponding sections in the
original languages. For matters of space and costs, however, I have opt-
ed for the compromise of giving central words and phrases in the orig-
inallanguages in brackets in the translations. I do this, trusting that the
original sources are available to the scholars in the fields concerned.
After some preliminary work I started my enterprise with an intense
period of research at the library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in
Rome in the spring of 1996 with funding from the Krook Foundation of
Lund University. During my stay in Rome I was well received by
Corinne Bonnet, Paolo Xella, and Sergio Ribichini, who listened with
sympathy to my misgivings about what was going on in the current de-
bate. I returned to Lund loaded like a Semitic donkey with their lavish
gifts of books and offprints. In May 2000 I was told by my colleagues
in Rome that they had established a research group for the study of these
deities. This and other efforts to clarify the complex matters involved
are to be warmly welcomed.
My study is not a general treatment of the deities concerned but an
investigation limited to the controversial issues of the death and return
to life of these gods. Even so, however, my study is one of a genuinely
cross-disciplinary nature. Any infernal journey is a bold enterprise, and
the same may be said of mine. Just as Dante had the benefit of having
Virgil as his good genius, so I had recourse to the generous assistance
of a number of colleagues from various disciplines who answered ques-
tions, gave me tips on literature, or read and commented on drafts of
sections or even whole chapters. I thus extend my sincere thanks to
Bendt Alster (Copenhagen), Pierre Arniet (Paris), Lasse Berndes
(Lund), Per Beskow (Vadstena), Per Bilde (Arhus), Jerker Blomqvist
(Lund), Corinne Bonnet (Rome), Pernille Carstens (Arhus), Michael B.
Dick (Loudonville, N.Y.), Meindert Dijkstra (Utrecht), Daniel Fleming
(New York), Birger Gerhardsson (Lund), Sten Hidal (Lund), Jan Hjiirpe
(Lund), Klaus Koch (Hamburg), Johannes C. de Moor (Kampen), Tord
Olsson (Lund), Olof Pedersen (Uppsala), Heike Peter (Lund), Jprgen
Podemann Sprensen (Copenhagen), Jack M. Sasson (Nashville), Daniel
Schwemer (Wi.irzburg), Mark S. Smith (New York), Lana Troy (Upp-
sala), and Ola Wikander (Lund). I am grateful to Bendt Alster, Daniel
Fleming, and Daniel Schwemer for having sent me drafts of their forth-
corning work.
A surprise and great joy to me was the symposium with former and
present members of the Senior Seminar for Hebrew Bible at Lund that
my Lund colleagues Sten Hidal and Fredrik Lindstrom arranged to cel-
ebrate my 60th birthday. On kind invitation I submitted a draft of my
Adonis chapter for discussion in that context. Stig Norin (Uppsala) gave
a thought-provoking response to my draft. As always, the Senior Semi-
nar at Lund is my scholarly milieu. During the whole time of the project
the close contacts between the departments of Biblical Studies and
Comparative Religion have been a source of inspiration for me.
These colleagues and students greatly helped me to eliminate mis-
takes, to sharpen my thought, and to widen my horizons. If it happens
that I have not followed a piece of advice, this may in part be due to my
laziness or to my stubbornness. .
I must put on record my gratitude for the excellent services of the
Lund University Library. I would also like to thank the staff of the
Theological Library of Lund.
James M. Starr (now at Uppsala) scrutinized and improved my Eng-
lish and also with great precision eliminated formal anomalies in my
footnotes. Hannelore Stein of the Department of Theology and Reli-
gious Studies at Lund mastered the problems of typography and page-
making with awe-inspring competence. Irene von Gortz-Wrisberg
shared my proof-reading burdens and skillfully helped me improve the
formal consistency. The efficient co-operation of the staff of Wallin &
Dalholms Boktryckeri AB did not come as a surprise.
The publication of this work was made possible by grants from the
Swedish Research Council and the Royal Academy of Letters, History
and Antiquities.
Unlike Dante, I did not need to go through Inferno to find my Bea-
trice. My wife Sol vi has been at my side right from the beginning. Her
support, good humour, and loving care has been a constant source of joy
during the whole project.
I dedicate this book to my colleagues, former and present, in the Fac-
ulty of Theology at Lund University. I have spent three decades there,
at the Department of Biblical Studies, and it has been a marvellous place
for my work, first as a docent from 1971 and then as a professor from
1978. My time in the faculty, which now approaches its end, has been a
source of profound professional satisfaction to me.
Lund in August 2001
Tryggve N.D. Mettinger
Table of Contents
Chap. I. Introduction: A Survey of Research and the Agenda for
the Present Work 15-53
l. The Issue of "Dying and Rising Gods" from Frazer to the Present Day 15
I. Jonathan Z. Smith and the Present Situation 15
2. Frazer and Baudissin 17
3. The Case of Dumuzi-Tammuz 23
4. The Case of Adonis 26
5. The Case of Baal 34
6. MarkS. Smith: The Abolition of the Category 37
2. The Agenda for the Present Work 39
l. Where Do We Stand? The Task of the Present Work 39
2. Theoretical Issues: Ritual, Myth, and the Comparative Study of Religion 46
l. On Ritual 47
2. On Myth 50
3. On the Comparative Study of Religion 52 1
Chap. II. Ugaritic Baal
I. The Baal-Mot Myth 57
l. Not a Substitute but Baal Himself 59
2. Baal: Through Death to Life 61
2. Allusions to Ritual? KTU 1.12, Aqhat 1.17 .VI, and Elkunirsha 66
l. KTU 1.12: Water Ritual and the Myth of Baal's Death 67
2. KTU 1.17.VI: Baal Restored to Life 68
3. The Hittite Myth of Elkunirsha 72
3. Baal and the Netherworld: A Line of Continuity between the Late Bronze Age and
Iron Age Cults? 72
4. The Anatolian Disappearing Deity: A Prototype of Baal 76
5. Conclusions 80
Chap. III. Melqart-Heracles 83-111
I. References to the Death of the Deity 86
2. The Problem of the Awakening of the God 88
I. The Term i y E p o ~ in Josephus 88
2. The Term ioyEpOELTYJs in the Amman Inscription 90
3. Semitic Evidence: mqm 'lm in Mediterranean Contexts 91
3. Iconographical Evidence: The Melqart Stele and the Vase from Sidon 97
4. The Pyrgi Inscription: The Death of an Unknown Deity 103
5. Ritual and Seasonal Aspects 106
6. Conclusions 109
Chap. IV. Adon(is) 113-154
l. The Classical Heros in Greece and Rome 116
I. The Rite 116
2. The Myth 118
3. The Chthonic Features 121
2. The Classical Heros in Egypt 121
3. The God of the Semitic Levant 124
1. The Case for a Semitic Background for Adonis 124
1. The Name "Adonis" and the Epithet n'mn 125
2. The Rite 127
2. Origen and Jerome 128
3. De Dea Syria 6 on Adonis 131
4. Byblos: The Amama Letter No. 84 with Damu (Adonis?) 137
1. EA No. 84 137
2. The Identity of the Local Male Deity 140
3. Why Was "Damu" Used by the Scribe? 141
4. Early Egyptian Evidence? 144
5. The Adonis Gardens: A Different Symbolism in the Levant? 146
4. Synthesis: The Historical Development 148
5. Conclusions 152
Chap. V. Eshmun-Asclepius 155-165
I. Asclepius-Esmounos in Damascius 155
2. Other Indications for Eshmun as a Dying and Rising God?
3. Conclusions 164
Chap. VI. Comparative Perspectives: Osiris and the
West Semitic Gods
1. Osiris: His Festivals and His Relation to Com 167
1. The Festivals of Osiris 168
2. Osiris and Com 169
2. Osiris: A Dying and Rising God? 172
3. Osiris and the West Semitic Gods 175
1. Osiris and Adonis 175
2. Osiris and Melqart 180
4. Conclusions 182
Chap. VII. Comparative Perspectives: Dumuzi-Tammuz
and the West Semitic Gods 185-215
I. Dumuzi 's Role in the Descensus Myths 187
1. The Sumerian Jnanna 's Descent 187
2. The Akkadian /shtar's Descent 190
3. Ningishzida 's Descent 195
4. Umammu's Death 196
2. Dumuzi: A Dying and Rising God? 197
1. Divine Status? 198
2. Death and Return and Ritual Embeddedness 199
3. Seasonal Connections 203
3. Dumuzi and the West Semitic Gods 205
l. Dumuzi and the U garitic Baal 207
2. Dumuzi and Adonis and Melqart 209
4. Conclusions 212
5. Excursus. Triduum: A Notion of Return after Three Days? 214
Epilogue 217-222
Abbreviations and Technical Remarks 223-226
Bibliography 227-257
List of Illustrations 259
Indexes 261-272
l. Ancient Near Eastern Sources (including the Bible) 261
2. Greek and Roman Sources 264
3. Oriental, Greek, and Latin Words 266
4. General Index 267
5. Author Index. Selective 270
Introduction: A Survey of Research and
the Agenda for the Present Work
1. The Issue of "Dying and Rising Gods" from Frazer to the
Present Day
1.1. Jonathan Z. Smith and the Present Situation
There is no doubt that the dying and rising god owes his life to a large
extent to J.G. Frazer (1906). However, it would seem that, having lived
healthily for some decades, he lost much of his vigour due to the severe
attack by R. de Vaux in 1933. He then led a somewhat precarious life in
the scholarship of the last half of the twentieth century until he appar-
ently died the death of a thousand wounds under the attacks of Jonathan
Z. Smith in the dictionary article on "dying and rising gods" in Eliade's
Encyclopedia of Religion (Smith 1987) and MarkS. Smith in a major
article published in 1998, to which I shall return at the very end of this
survey of research. Jonathan Z. Smith starts with a definition of the con-
cept under discussion:
As applied in the scholarly literature, "dying and rising gods" is a generic ap-
pellation for a group of male deities found in agrarian Mediterranean societies
who serve as the focus of myths and rituals that allegedly narrate and annually
represent their death and resurrection (p. 521)
At the end of his contribution Smith concludes that the category in ques-
tion "is exceedingly dubious. It has been based largely on Christian in-
terest and tenuous evidence" (p. 526). The putative category of dying
and rising deities takes its place within the larger category of dying gods
and the even larger category of disappearing deities, says Smith, thus
creating a hyponymic structure (p. 521). He then goes on to say that "all
the deities that have been identified as belonging to the class of dying
and rising deities can be subsumed under the two larger classes of dis-
appearing deities or dying deities. In the first case, the deities return but
Cf. von Soden (1959: 688) who defines "sterbende und auferstehende Gotter" as "eine Anzahl
von Gottem ... deren Tod und z T auch spatere A[uferstehung] im Mythus erzahlt und in
kultischen _, Begehungen vergegenwartigt wird."

have not died; in the second case, the gods die but do not return"
(p. 522).
Or in a graph:
disappearing deities:
dying deities:
return death
In the case of Adonis, "only late texts, largely influenced by or written
by Christians, claim that there is a subsequent day of celebration for
Adonis having been raised from the dead" (p. 522). That the resurrec-
tion of the dying god is somehow ultimately due to Christian influence
is a point strongly emphasized by Smith:
Whether this represents an interpretatio Christiana or whether late third- and
fourth-century forms of the Adonis cult themselves developed a dying and
rising mythology (possibly in imitation of the Christian myth) cannot be deter-
mined. This pattern will recur for many of the figures considered: an indigenous
mythology and ritual focusing on the deity's death and rituals of lamentation,
followed by a later Christian report adding the element nowhere found in the
earlier native sources, that the god was resurrected (p. 522).
In the case of Baal, Smith concludes about the central text that, "as it
stands, the text appears to be one of a descent to the underworld and re-
turn-a pattern not necessarily equivalent to dying and rising. Baal is
'as if he is dead'; he then appears to be alive" (p. 523). J.Z. Smith seems
fairly certain of having issued the death certificate for the idea of "dying
and rising gods"; he takes the final step in his Drudgery Divine: On
the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late An-
As a matter of fact, J.Z. Smith was anticipated in important respects
by Barstad.
As for Adonis, Barstad says that,
[l]t is today possible to discount the theory of Adonis as a dying and rising god
as a Frazerian concept strongly influenced by the wish to demonstrate that
Christianity was not an innovation, but that all its essential features are to be
found in earlier religions (p. 150).
Barstad then goes on to suggest that the deities under discussion be sub-
sumed under the category of disappearing deities.
It seems to me that Smith is somewhat unclear here: he creates a hyponymic structure but
speaks of categories within this as mutually exclusive. His reference to disappearing deities, a
well-known category in Anatolian religion, was later followed up by Mark S. Smith (1998). I
shall return to this in my chapter on BaaL
J.Z. Smith (1990: 85-115).
Barstad (1984: 146-155, esp. pp. 148-150).
Barstad (1984: !50 note 34; 151) .
After J.Z. Smith's contributions, the issues have been discussed dur-
ing the 1990's by M.S. Smith and H.-P. Mi.iller. The former joins com-
pany with J.Z. Smith and other scholars who have questioned the very
We shall return to M.S. Smith below in the final part of this
survey of research. Another who wants to make a tabula rasa is H.-P.
Mi.iller. The notion of Adonis' resurrection is to him probably only a ra-
tionalization contrived to explain why Adonis could be mourned anew
every year (1997b: 4). His capsule survey of the material concludes that
non-Christian antiquity never knew anything similar to the Christian
Muller's thesis is that the idea of a resurrection in connection
with dying gods is a very late one. When he briefly discusses the Ugar-
itic Baal and his death and burial, he notes, however that Baal suddenly
appears as alive again without our knowing how this took place.
Mi.iller maintains his general position also in his most recent contribu-
tion (1999).
What we have said so far makes one thing obvious: Major scholars
in the fields of comparative religion and the Bible find the idea of dying
and rising deities suspect or untenable.
In the following survey of research I shall sketch the main outlines
of the development that led up to the present state of research. I shall
first present what could be called the birth of the "dying and rising 1
gods" with an emphasis on Frazer's contribution. After that I shall deal
in separate sections with the scholarly discussion about Tammuz,
Adonis, and Baal. At the end of this chapter I shall indicate some major
features of the discussion surveyed and suggest some conclusions for
the agenda of the present study.
1.2. Frazer and Baudissin
In The Golden Bough (3rd edition) part IV: 1 ( 1914 )-which is an elab-
oration on his 1906 work-James G. Frazer presented the fascinating
trinity of Adonis, Attis, and Osiris.
This fourth part of his great work
See M.S. Smith (1994: 69-75 and especially 1998).
"[S]o etwas wie ein Osterfest hat die ausserchristliche Antike offenbar nicht gekannt". H.-P.
Muller (1997a: 82).
H.-P. Muller (1997a: 77).
On the various editions of The Golden Bough, see Ackerman (1987: 95-110, 164-179, 236-257)
and J.Z. Smith ( 1990: 91-92 n. 13). The first edition of Adonis. Attis, Osiris: Studies in the His-
tory of Oriental Religion appeared in 1906 as a separate work. The second edition appeared in
1907; the third edition was then included as part IV: 1-2 of the third edition of The Golden
Bough. Smith points out (Joe. cit.) that there are no significant changes between the various edi-
~ ~
I' !
is obviously a follow up on volume III, entitled The Dying God, in
which he discusses the killing of the divine king and the death and
resurrection of the com spirit.
Adonis is to Frazer the paramount
example of "the dying god". Frazer states his theory bluntly and un-
The spectacle of the great changes which annually pass over the face of the earth
has powerfully impressed the minds of men in all ages, and stirred them to med-
itate on the causes of transformations so vast and wonderful ... They ... pictured
to themselves the growth and decay of vegetation, the birth and death of living
creatures, as effects of the waxing or waning strength of divine beings. of gods
and goddesses, who were born and died, who married and begot children, on the
pattern of human life ... [T]hey ... thought that by performing certain magical
rites they could aid the god, who was the principle of life, in his struggle with
the opposing principle of death. They imagined that they could recruit his fail-
ing energies and even raise him from the dead. The ceremonies which they ob-
served for this purpose were in . substance a dramatic representation of the
natural processes which they wished to facilitate ... And as they now explained
the fluctuations of growth and decay, of reproduction and dissolution, by the
marriage, the death, and the rebirth or revival of the gods, their religious or
rather magical dramas turned in great measure on these themes. They set forth
... the sad death of one at least of the divine partners, and his joyful resurrection.
IV:l, pp. 3-4).
Frazer goes on to say that "[u]nderthe names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adon-
is, and Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the
yearly decay and revival of life, especially of vegetable life, which they
personified as a god who annually died and rose again from the dead"
(p. 6). Frazer explicitly identified Tammuz and Adonis: the true name
of the deity was Tammuz, the appellation of Adonis being merely a
Semitic title of honour, meaning "lord", taken over by the Greeks, who
by a misunderstanding converted this title of honour into a proper name,
Adonis (pp. 6-7).
What Frazer submits is thus a naturist explanation of the dying and
rising deity: this type of god is a personification ofthe seasonal cycle of
vegetation. This naturist explanation, however, is combined with a
one: behind the dying god looms a sacred or even divine
tions of Adonis, Attis, Osiris. In the following I use the third edition of The Golden Bough. For
a summary and critique of the overall endeavour of Frazer's The Golden Bough, see J.Z. Smith
(1973). See also Ackerman (1987: esp. chapters 6, 10, 14}, Sharpe (1994: 87-94), and Gilhus
(1996). On Frazer's literary impact, see Vickery (1973).
On this last-mentioned point Frazer's dependency on Mannhardt (1877) is very tangible. In ad-
dition, Mannhardt also discussed Adonis, see Mannhardt (1877: 273-291 ). On the history of re-
search leading up to Frazer, see J.Z. Smith (1990: 26-33, 88-99).
Thus named after Euhemerus who held that the gods had been men and women of ancient
times, see Ebach (HRwG 2: 365-368).
king who would be slain when his fertility waned (pp. 13-30).
On the
basis of a number of theophoric proper names, Frazer argued that the
Semitic kings of the eastern Mediterranean were divine. The pre-Israel-
ite Canaanite kings of Jerusalem played the part of Adonis in their life-
time. As for the Hebrew kings, it is not quite clear whether they were
identified with Adonis or not, but they were certainly divine, "as repres-
enting and to a certain extent embodying Jehovah on earth" (pp. 20-21).
That there are few traces of this divine kingship in the historical books
of the Bible is due to the fact that "[a]ll the historical books passed
through the office of the Puritan censor" or "the Deuteronomistic redac-
tor, as the critics call him" (p. 26 with note 1 ).
The Semitic king per-
sonates the god and is the lover of the goddess. This is particularly clear
from the evidence for Adonis in Cyprus (pp. 49-52).
From the mythological material Frazer turns to the more fragment-
ary evidence for the ritual of Adonis.
He discusses especially the fest-
ivals for Adonis in Alexandria and Byblos as we know them from the
works of Theocritus (Idyll XV) and Lucian (De Dea Syria 6-7). At
Byblos there was a day oflamentation for the dead god; on the next day,
however, "he was believed to come to life again and ascend to heaven
in the presence of his worshippers" (p. 225). Similarly in Alexandria:
when the women had committed the image of the dead Adonis to the sea
waves, they sang that the lost one would come back again (p. 225). The 1
dying god was also the rising one.
The mourning for Adonis was es-
sentially a harvest rite: the dates for the festivals fell in spring or sum-
mer, which were the seasons of the barley and wheat harvests in this part
of the world (p. 231 ).
An important chapter is devoted to the gardens of Adonis (pp. 236-
259).16 "Perhaps the best proof that Adonis was a deity of vegetation,
and especially of the com, is furnished by the gardens of Adonis, as they
were called. These were baskets or pots filled with earth, in which
wheat, barley, lettuces, fennel, and various kinds of flowers were sown
and tended for eight days, chiefly or exclusively by women" (p. 236).
The throwing of the gardens and of the images into the water was a rain-
charm (p. 237). Various usages of later times in the Mediterranean, es-
Note also the summary of the argument on p. 223.
Frazer (GB
IV:l: p. 26 with note 1).
On p. 223 Frazer devotes some 10 lines to stressing the uncertainties of his undertaking and
finishes with the words: "How far the interpretations here proposed are sound, I leave to future
inquiries to determine."
Prior to Frazer, see for instance Mannhardt (1877: 277278).
For Frazer's source material, seep. 236 n. I.
pecially in Sardinia and Sicily, point back to the gardens of Adonis. At
the end of this chapter Frazer ret1ects upon the Easter ceremonies of the
Catholic Church and surmises "that the Easter celebration of the dead
and risen Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and
risen Adonis, which, as we have seen reason to believe, was celebrated
in Syria at the same season" (p. 256).
About Frazer we may briefly
summarize: His gods die and return, they are connected with the season-
al cycle, and central events are subject to cultic celebration.
W. Baudissin is the other scholar at the beginning of the twentieth
century who devoted a monograph to issues related to the dying and ris-
ing deity, Adonis und Esmun: Eine Untersuchung zur Geschichte des
Glaubens an Auferstehungsgotter und an Heilgotter ( 1911 ).
His aim
is to shed light on Israel's idea of YHWH as the "living God", and to
study the connection between Israelite religion and Canaanite and Ara-
maic cults. In particular Baudissin wants to test the possibility of a de-
velopment leading from (a) the belief in a god of resurrection ("Auf-
erstehungsgott"), who preserved his life through death, into (b) a belief
in a god of healing ("Heilgott"), who leads humans through the death
that hides in illness into life. Baudissin finds the first type of deity in
Adonis, the second in Eshmun (p. V).
It is obvious that Baudissin and Frazer agree on the most essential
point: that there are gods who are thought to die and return to life. To
Baudissin, Adonis is a resurrection god or a dying and rising deity. Of
the Phoenician triads--consisting of the city god, the young god, and
his spouse-it is especially the young god who appears as the god who
returns to life, and who appears, in one of his manifestations, as a heal-
ing god, in so far as the recuperation from illness (resuscitation) can be
thought of as a new waking up from death (p. 52).
Baudissin devotes a brief but important section to a discussion of the
cultic celebration of Adonis' resurrection (pp. 133-137). He starts by
expressing sympathetic understanding towards those inclined to doubt
that such a celebration would be an old and traditional part of the Syro-
Palestinian Adonis celebrations. We look in vain for resurrection rites
in the celebrations of Tammuz (p. 133 ). He also notes that there is little
Whether Frazer also held that the myth and ritual in connection with Adonis is the ultimate ex-
planation of the Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Christ is not quite clear. On
Frazer and Christianity, see Ackerman (1987: II, 83, 95, 167, 169, 188, 239). While Frazer, in
the second edition of the GB, views Jesus as in line with the dying gods, he takes a softer posi-
tion in the third edition, see Ackerman (1987: 167, 169 and 239). Note, however, that "the im-
plicit comparisons are relentless", as was pointed out by J.Z. Smith (1990: 92).
On Baudissin's scholarship, see Eissfeldt (1962: 115-142, esp. pp. 122-137).
if anything of this in Theocritus, Idyll XV (p. 135). He puts on record
the references to a resurrection in Origen, Jerome, and Cyril of Alexan-
dria. One might argue, he continues, that the celebration of the resurrec-
tion was taken into the Adonis cult from the Osiris complex. However,
in the end he finds this assumption unnecessary. The idea of the resur-
rection of a god of nature ("Naturgott") is not foreign to the North Sem-
ites: it seems to be present in the cases of Marduk and Melqart (p. 135).
Above all, Baudissin stresses that the annual celebration of a mourning
for the god presupposes the god's "Wiederaufleben", or "returning to
life": if the god is the focus of annual mourning rites, then he must have
been thought to come back to life every year (p. 136). Thus, the idea of
his resurrection is no newcomer; indeed it seems possible to date it back
as early as the times of the Old Testament prophets (p. 136). Thus, if it
is somehow related to Osiris ideas, this connection must be of a very
early date (p. 136).
Not only Adonis and Melqart but, according to a late reference in
Damascius, also Eshmun seem to be gods who die and return to life (p.
339). Baudissin published his work in 1911. It is interesting to note then
that he is inclined to search for a common background to the Phoenician
ideas of Adonis and Eshmun, which he thinks is to be found in a specific I
god who then underwent different local developments (pp. 349-50). The
Ras Sharnra discoveries have not disproved this well-informed guess.
Another part of Baudissin's argument that is of interest to us con-
cerns the relations between Adonis, Eshrnun, and Tammuz (pp. 345-
384 ). Adonis and Tammuz are different deities (p. 368), a point where
Baudissin silently takes exception to Frazer. They may, however, have
grown from a common root, although it is not obvious where we are to
look for this: among theW estern or Eastern Semites or among the Sum-
erians. If we were to look for Mesopotamian influence, this might be a
very early one, since Sargon of Akkad penetrated to the Mediterranean
(p. 360).
A final part of the work is devoted to Adonis, Eshmun and Old
Testament religion, with an important discussion of the Israelite idea of
resurrection focussing on Hosea 6 and Ezekiel 37 (pp. 385-520). In
Baudissin' s opinion, resurrection faith can only have sprung from a
transfer from the life of nature ("eine Obertragung aus dem Natur-
leben", p. 431). The OT idea of resurrection is a close parallel of the
myth of Adonis (pp. 441-442). In its oldest metaphorical use in the OT,
the idea of resurrection is a borrowing from Phoenicia with its faith in a
resurrecting god (p. 445). The idea of the "living God" of the OT occurs
frequently in the oath formula but can hardly derive from this (p. 463).

Baudissin aptly notes a difference in mood between Israel and Phoeni-
cia. In the Adonis and Tammuz contexts there is an emphasis on the
wailing and mourning: On a general level, Phoenician religion hardly
displays any happiness over the life of the deity. The OT shows a
marked contrast to this (pp. 508-509).
In a final section Baudissin briefly enters the question of Christian
resurrection faith: That the Adonis cult influenced the development or
forrn of the Christian belief in the Resurrected Lord has repeatedly been
asserted by other scholars, but it cannot be demonstrated on any single
point (p. 522).
What are then the main differences between Baudissin and Frazer?
Baudissin works as an accomplished Semitist; Frazer, again, is a scholar
of classics. Furthermore, while Frazer, due to his anthropological ori-
entation, devotes much energy to defending a specific theory of the pre-
historic roots of the myth of Adonis, Baudissin is thoroughly orientated
towards the historical tangibles of the Phoenician myth, leaving eu-
hemerist speculations aside. In particular, he takes exception to Frazer's
ideas about the cultic expressions of the Adonis myth.
At the same
time, we should not overlook the fact that Baudissin is in essential
agreement with what Frazer says about the contents of the myth; it is
about the cult that he disagrees with him (p. VII). And one thing should
be kept in sight: both these scholars understand Adonis as a dying and
rising deity. For his part, Baudissin makes this clear already in the sub-
title of his book, which speaks of "Auferstehungsgotter". The fate ofthe
god mirrors the seasonal cycle.
In the following part of this chapter I shall deal with the subsequent
discussion and shall concentrate on three representative examples.
shall thus deal with Tammuz, Adonis, and Baal. How has the research
of the last century dealt with the issue of the alleged type: Are there de-
ities who can be designated as dying and rising gods? This means that
scholars who have voiced a critique of this assumption will be of par-
ticular importance. The reason for this is simple and can be expressed
in Popperian terms: The proof of a scientific theory is not, in the last
analysis, the amount of positive evidence but in its standing the test of
See Baudissin (1911: VI-VII) and note also his review of the first edition of Frazer's Adonis,
Artis, Osiris; see Baudissin (1907), where he takes exception to Frazer's interpretation of the
Adonis gardens and finds that the emphasis here is rather on the sudden withering (col. 98) and
also expresses disagreement with Frazer's idea of the Semitic kings as divine (col. 100).
For previous surveys with a broad coverage, see Notscher ([1926==] 1980) with Scharbert's
Nachtrag (ibid. pp. 349-397) .
1.3. The Case of Dumuzi-Tammuz
In the field of Assyriology the twentieth century has witnessed a pro-
tracted discussion of Dumuziffammuz and related figures?
Already in 1909
Zimmem published ample evidence for the myth
and ritual in relation to the death of Tammuz; on the matter of his re-
surrection, however, Zimmem expressed himself with extreme caution.
Langdon, in his work on Tammuz and Ishtar (1914), wholeheartedly
adopted the Frazerian position and spoke of "a cult of sorrow, death and
resurrection" (p. 1).
Quite soon, Marduk also came into the picture. In
a work on the Babylonian New Year festival, Zimmem (1918) argued
on the basis of the text KAR 143 (and the duplicate KAR 219) that the
ideas of the disappearing and reappearing of Tammuz had been trans-
ferred to Marduk (pp. 2-3). Moreover, the "passion" of Tammuz was
one that could claim to have some relevance even to New Testament
scholars (pp. 11-13).
Zimmem's ideas made a deep impact on subsequent research, so that
other scholars continued to speak about the death and resurrection of
and Marduk and Tammuz were sometimes seen as aspects of
the same dying god. In the symposium Myth and ritual (1933) the most
notable example of the dying god was considered to be Marduk, with
the ritual of his death and resurrection allegedly celebrated in the fest-
ival of the New Year (see Gadd 1933: 58-60). In 1955, however, von
Soden demonstrated that the text that had been basic to the Tammuz in-
terpretation of the nature of Marduk (KAR 143) was a propaganda work
composed in Assyria and had nothing to do either with the death and
resurrection of Marduk or with the New Year festival. Later, von
Soden's conclusions were criticized by Cagni (1982: 394-395, see be-
low). J.A. Black, however, is very firm in his endorsement of von
Soden's position: " ... I hope to have made it clear that the ceremonies
[of the Babylonian New Year festival] had nothing to do with a dying
and resurrected vegetation god."
The peak of the discussion about Dumuzi/Tammuz was reached in
the work of Moortgat (1949) on Tammuz in ancient Near Eastern art.
He claimed to find representations of this deity in a number of Sumerian
and Babylonian sculptures and advanced a theory of the symbolism
Note Gurney (1962) for a survey of research on Tammuz. The Ph.D.-diss. (Jena) on Dumuzi
by Dr. Michael Fritz will hopefully appear in 2002. Not seen. Reference courtesy M. Fritz.
Note, however, that the first edition of Frazer's Adonis, Artis, Osiris appeared in 1906.
Notscher ( [ 1926=] 1980: 25-32) was early to criticize these ideas.
Thus Langdon ( 1923: headline on pp. 34-35). For a survey. see von Soden (1955 130-131).
See Black ( 1981: 51-56, quotation from p. 56).
employed in these works as expressions of a hidden mystery-cult in-
volving a belief in the immortality of the soul. The reaction was strong,
however. F.R. Kraus (1955) in his review of the book rejected both its
method and its results.
S.N. Kramer (1951) had already published an important cuneiform
tablet from Yale with the hitherto missing conclusion of the Sumerian
myth of Inanna's descent to the Netherworld, which clearly demon-
strated that Inanna came back from the Netherworld only to hand Du-
muzi over to her demoniac retinue, the gallu, in order to be put to death
as her substitute.
Since it has generally been believed that Inanna went
down to the Netherworld in order to liberate her lover, the recovery of
the ending of the Sumerian myth is an important datum in the files on
"dying and rising deities". In 1954 VandenBerghe concluded a state of
the arts presentation with the formulation: "Nous ... nous sommes eleve
contre le dogme enracine que Dumuzi-Tammuz a) est un dieu ressuscite
b) en tant que personnification de la nature qui meurt et qui renalt et c)
est le symbole de la resurrection future de l'homme" (p. 321).
Gurney, in his 1962 essay "Tammuz reconsidered", made two obser-
vations about the putative resurrection of the dying god: (1) As for the
Sumerian mythology of Dumuzi, we have now access to texts from
which the myth of Dumuzi can be reconstructed in detail. There is no
trace in this Sumerian mythology of a poem about Dumuzi' s resurrec-
tion (pp. 152-153). (2) In the Assyrian Ishtar's Descent to the Nether-
world, the goddess's emergence from the Netherworld is followed by an
epilogue that raises great interpretative difficulties. The passage begins
with four lines of instructions for the funerary rites of Tammuz. Then
there are four lines of narrative about the goddess Belili. A section of
direct speech then follows with no clear indication of the identity of the
speaker which Gurney translates: "On the day that Tammuz rises to me,
the flute of lapis lazuli and the tiAR-instrument of carnelian will rise
with him; with him also will rise male and female mourners. Let the
dead rise and smell the incense" (p. 154).
Scholars who avoid the al-
lusion to Tammuz's rising by rendering the crucial verb "greets me" or
"welcomes me" have not explained from what verb they derive the form
el-la-an-ni, when they reject a derivation from eW, "to rise". Gurney
concludes: "Here then, apparently is a clear allusion to the rising of
Tammuz from the underworld, ... But the whole passage is obviously a
late addition-perhaps specifically Assyrian-which has displaced the
See also, for instance, ANEi' 52 n. 6.
For the text, see Borger (1979, vol. 1: 95-104).
original end of the poem" (p. 154). He adds at the end of his contribu-
tion: "If the late addition to the Assyrian myth of the Descent of Ishtar
refers to such a resurrection, this may be a late accretion to Babylonian
religion due to West Semitic influence" (p. 160).
Yamauchi (1966) took up Gurney's suggestions about the epilogue
as an Assyrian addition and tried to find an alternative explanation. The
epilogue, he notes, is closely associated with the weeping and rituals of
lamentation for Tammuz: "In the last three days of the month of Tam-
muz in the summer, the figure of the god was laid out for burial in a rite
known as taklimtu" (p. 11 ).
Yamauchi suggests understanding the ref-
erence to the rising of Tammuz in the light of this circumstance and
wants "to explain the rising both of Tammuz and of the dead as the as-
cent of the spirits to partake of the offerings made for the dead" (p.
Cagni ( 1982) took up the idea, cultivated during the first half of the
century, of mysteries in Babylonia and offered examples connected
with the theme of the "dio in vicenda", the god who undergoes a change
of fates. He concentrated, however, on the aspect of suffering and said
very little explicitly on the idea of a resurrection of the deity in question.
To him it is clear that Dumuzi gradually developed into a general god
of vegetation (pp. 584-586). And he was not, without further ado, satis-
fied with von Soden's attempt to do away with the "passion ofMarduk"
(pp. 589-597).
Jacobsen (1976) found evidence for the idea of "[t]he return of
Damu to the land of the living".
Alster, in his 1995 contribution to
DDD on Tammuz and Dumuzi, concluded that, "the question whether
or not Dumuzi rose from the realms of the dead is perhaps best an-
swered with the claim that since this was not celebrated in a cultic fest-
ival, it did not play any significant role in the literature" (col. 1578). As
for the end of the Akkadian Ishtar's Descent to the Netherworld, Alster
takes the same position as Yamauchi above (col. 1578).
By and large then, the optimism during the first decades of this cen-
tury for the resurrection of Dumuzi!fammuz has subsequently become
seriously dampened. A circumstance that has so far received little if any
attention in the discussion is that Kramer (1966) made an important cor-
The word in question is a derivation from kullumu(m) and means "display", see AHw 1307:
"Zeigen", "Schaustellung"; it probably refers to the display of the corpse or the grave goods of
Gurney (1962: 157) had made a reference to the taklimtu but did not make the connection with
the rising of the god. Alster (1995: 1578) agrees with Yamauchi.
Jacobsen ( 1976: 63-73, quotation from p. 68).
I !

rection to his earlier interpretation of Inanna 's Descent. Kramer now
adopts a new reading of an important line at the very end of lnanna 's
Descent: "You [Dumuzi], half the year! Your sister [Gestinanna], half
the year!" An openness to this new perspective is documented by Par-
pola in his introduction to his Assyrian Prophecies volume ( 1997).
1.4. The Case of Adonis
Few deities of antiquity have been assessed in more divergent ways than
Adonis. The explanation for this lies partly in the nature of the sources:
the evidence mainly derives from Greek antiquity, but a number of
characteristics of the Greek Adonis seem to indicate that this deity has
a long Oriental pedigree. Moreover, the apparent analogy between
Adonis and Christ contributed to making Adonis a controversial figure.
Certain materials in the Hebrew Bible were seen in the perspectives
of the dying and rising deity by Widengren and, to a certain extent, also
by Engnell.
Four scholars take a particularly prominent position among those
who have submitted the idea of the dying and rising deity to scrutiny:
de Vaux, Lambrechts, Wagner, and Will. In 1933 de Vaux published a
paper that put the finger on two essential points in Frazer's construct.
The first is the symbolism of the Adonis gardens. Though the gardens
remind us of the gardens of Osiris, which symbolize the renascence of
the god, the Adonis gardens nevertheless express the short life of the
vegetation and the ephemeral existence of the hero. De Vaux therefore
finds it impossible to subscribe to Frazer's interpretation of these "gar-
dens".33 The second point pertains to the dating of the idea of Adonis'
resurrection (pp. 392-404). De Vaux here carries through a stepwise
source critical reduction: Taken in isolation, Lucian does not prove that
Parpola (SAA 9: p. xciv, note 127).
According to Widengren ( 1945), in Jerusalemite sacral kingship a Tammuz ideology enfolds
where the king acts as the representative of the dying and rising deity. In this capacity he is de-
noted as Adon (Jer 22:18), a designation that is also applied to YHWH himself (Ps 114:7); in
both cases it is to be seen in the light of the West Semitic dying and rising deity. Widengren
returned to this theme in his contribution to the volume Myth, Ritual, and Kingship ( 1958: esp.
191-200), restating his opinion that YHWH is a dying and rising deity. Engnell, in tum, held
similar ideas about the king but emphatically took exception to the understanding of YHWH as
a dying and rising deity. See Engnell in his articles "Gud. I. GT" (Svenskt Bibliskt Uppslags-
verk, vol. I: cols. 831-836, esp. col. 833) and "Lidande. I. GT" (ibid. cols. 1484-1491, esp. col.
DeVaux ([ 1933=] 1967: 379-392). In thefollowing the page references are to the reprint in de
Vaux (1967) .
there was a celebration of Adonis' resurrection. The later writers who
refer to such a celebration are dependent on Origen and Cyril of Alex-
andria. There is a resurrection of Melqart, but Melqart is a solar deity
and cannot be taken as related to Adonis (p. 399). DeVaux thus con-
cludes about the resurrection feast for Adonis:
(a) that there is no reliable attestation outside Alexandria,
(b) that it was not celebrated before the second-third centuries C.E., and
(c) that it is a late borrowing from the Osiris cult (p. 404).
In a postscript de Vaux briefly refers to the Ras Shamra texts. These
texts may well contain material of capital importance for our study, says
de Vaux, but too little is published as yet and scholars still show pro-
found disagreement about their interpretation. The two main points of
this paper, that about the nature of the Adonis gardens and that about the
late introduction of a resurrection feast, will return in much of what has
since been published on our topic.
The next major contribution is that by Lambrechts (1955), who fo-
cusses on the resurrection motif. In the case of Attis, the celebration on
March 24 of the sanguis ("blood") was later supplemented by the addi-
tion of the celebration on the next day of the hilaria (pp. 212-213).
Thus, the resurrection is no original part of the celebrations of Attis. In
the case of Tammuz, the texts contain a long series of lamentations; the
resurrection motif, however, is completely absent (p. 216). Similarly I
Adonis: the symbolism of the Adonis gardens focusses on the rapid
wilting of the sprouts (pp. 221-223). In the textual material there is a dif-
ference between a group of older texts and a later group. In the older
texts, one finds a sequence comprising first a celebration of the return
of the god including his holy marriage and then a feast of mourning to
celebrate his death, thus, first return and then death (pp. 225-231 ). This
is the situation in, for instance, Theocritus (third century B.C.E.). It is
only in the later group of texts (Lucian, Origen, Cyril) that we find evi-
dence of a celebration of the resurrection of Adonis (pp. 231-235).
This change in the distribution of emphasis takes place no earlier than
the second century C.E. (p. 234). Lambrechts agrees with de Vaux
about the origin of the idea of the resurrection of Adonis: it derives from
the Osiris cult (pp. 233-234).
GUnther Wagner, in his magisterial monograph Das religions-
geschichtliche Problem von Romer 6, 1-11 ( 1962), devotes some 200
pages to the issue of the dying and rising god. Wagner points to the lack
of clear evidence for the resurrection of Tammuz (pp. 151, 155). A
This was previously pointed out by Notscher ([1926=]1980: 90).
I i
lengthy section (pp. 187-211) is devoted to a discussion of the resurrec-
tion of Adonis. Adonis is not a god of vegetation in general but of the
spring vegetation that dies during the summer drought. The sequence is
this: from life to death (pp. 187 -188). The Adonis feast took place in the
middle of the summer, which was not the proper time for a celebration
of a resurrection (pp. 194-199). Already in Theocritus, Adonis is a sort
of chthonic god (p. 189) who appears on earth once a year to receive
rites of mourning; such a return cannot be termed a resurrection (p.
207). The idea of Adonis' resurrection is quite late and results from an
innovative development where three factors were of importance: (a) the
influence from syncretism, (b) competition with Christianity, and (c) an
influence from the Osiris cult (p. 210).
Will (1975) goes on in the same general direction as de Vaux, Lam-
brechts, and Wagner but also makes some quite original suggestions.
He notes that the resurrection of Adonis is attested in late sources like
Origen and Cyril, where we find the sequence from mourning to joy
over the resurrection of Adonis. Now at Alexandria the order is the re-
verse. At the time of Theocritus the order is this: first rejoicing, then
lamentation. Such older sources have preserved the original order of
things. Here Will takes a new step: He doubts that there ever was a pro-
found transformation in the rites of Adonis. What we find in the later,
Christian writers is a reading of the Adonis rites through glasses col-
oured by the Christian beliefs of these writers (p. 101). A possible obs-
tacle to such an interpretation is, of course, found in Lucian, De Dea
Syria 6. Will here dissociates himself from the interpretation of Seyrig
( 1972), who held that the resurrection motif actually occurs in this pas-
sage. Instead Will proposes the presence of a solemn procession, a n:ofc
n:{j. The crucial words (k 1:ov ijpa n:Ef!JtO'UOL) refer to a farewell, void
of hope, similar to the one in Theocritus (Idyll XV, 143-144 ). In other
words, says Will, one speaks to Adonis as to a living one, whom one
just mourned and whom one will mourn again after a year (p. 102-103,
my italics). In this way Will believes to have reconstituted a "uniform
pagan tradition", and so there is no semblance of the Graeco-Roman
"paganism" having known a resurrection of Adonis (p. 103). Thus,
there was never a resurrection of Adonis; when certain authors speak of
it, this is due to a Christian misreading of the evidence. There is no
doubt that Will's essay was of a certain importance to J.Z. Smith in his
Note, however, that it is clear to Wagner that there is no proper resurrection of Osiris, see
p. 130.
dictionary article referred to at the beginning of this chapter ( 1987:
Colpe ( 1969) to a great extent followed the same lines as de Vaux,
Lambrechts and Wagner. After a discussion of Adonis, Attis and Osiris,
this scholar (pp. 42-44) concludes that these gods are no dying and ris-
ing deities of vegetation. Their myths have no basic pattern in common.
The treatment of these gods in the scholarly discussion has often been
determined by one specific interest, says Colpe: to present the resurrec-
tion of Christ as nothing new and unique but as prefigured in millennia
of nature worship (p. 42).
I shall now go on to deal with some authors who concentrated heav-
ily on the Greek Adonis, namely, Atallah and Detienne, and then go on
to Burkert and Ribichini who had a slightly different perspective.
Atallah's work is a major monograph on the Greek Adonis, as ap-
pears from its title, Adonis dans la litterature et l 'art grecs (1966). In
spite of the limitation to Greek material, suggested by the title, Atallah
also deals with Latin poetry, especially Ovid, with Etruscan mirrors,
and with other iconographical material from Italy. Two introductory
chapters are devoted to the mythology of Adonis, focussing on his birth
and his death. In the classical sources, the tradition of his Cypriote ori-
gin is more prominent than the notion of his Levantine background. The
latter background seems to belong to a more erudite version of the myth.
The celebrations of the Adonia are dealt with on the basis of both
textual and iconographical evidence. As for the date of the Adonia, the
contradiction between ancient writers is resolved by the hypothesis that
there were two different celebrations: one in the spring and one in the
summer at the rising of the Dog Star. The Adonia of the Greek sources
have predominantly a funerary character. The Adonis gardens are un-
derstood by Atallah to symbolize sterility and death. Here Atallah notes
the strange paradox: that an Oriental vegetation god is connected with a
ritual usage deeply loaded with symbolism of sterility (pp. 228, 322).
The resurrection of Adonis is dealt with in a separate chapter. The
funerary character of the festival and the lateness of express references
to a joy of resurrection do not suffice to sustain Lambrechts' s attempt
to almost completely do away with a belief in a resurrection of Adonis
(pp. 259-263). The idea of Adonis' resurrection can be traced back to
Lucian, but Atallah prefers to use the term "return", instead of speaking
of "resurrection" (p. 268). A comprehensive bibliography concludes
this fine work that is so rich in material.
While Frazer presented an agrarian Adonis, Detienne ( 1972, English
translation 1993)
comes up with a rather different one. His contribu-
: j , ,1 I
I i !
tion amounts to a bold statement of anti-Frazerian conclusions. De-
tienne sketches a complex of myths with a basic contrast between
Adonis (who is closely connected with spices with their symbolism of
seduction) and Demeter (connected with cereals and thus with contin-
ence), summarized in a graphic survey of the main features of the Ado-
nia (celebrating Adonis) and the Thesmophoria (celebrating Demeter)
(p. 82). He then devotes proper space to discussing the Adonis gardens
(pp. 99-122). With Cumont (1932), Detienne holds that the Adonia
were celebrated on July 19 (p. 101 ). The entire ancient tradition, from
Plato onwards, shows that these gardens bore no fruit but were funda-
mentally sterile. As for the nature of the plants, he notes that there were
four distinct species: wheat, barley, lettuce and fennel (pp. 1 06-107).
Wheat and barley, both cereals, are foods of Demeter, just as lettuce, a
garden plant, is the vegetable symbol of the death and impotence that
assail the master of these gardens, Adonis. "In consequence, the four
species cultivated by gardeners during the Adonia can be classified on
two levels, first in relation to cereals, which belong to Demeter, and sec-
ondly in relation to garden plants which are intimately linked with
Adonis whose two essential sides they represent" (pp. 108-1 09). The
four can be positioned on two intersecting axes. Lettuce and fennel rep-
resent the gardening of Adonis and are fundamentally a misleading im-
itation of the agriculture of Demeter, oscillating between greenness and
desiccation (p. 109). "The gardening of Adonis is ... a perversion of the
cereals of Demeter ... " (p. 117).
Burkert, in his work on Structure and History in Greek Mythology
and Ritual (1979), also discusses the dying god. It was "an unexpected
shock to Frazerism when in 1951 the hitherto missing conclusion of the
Sumerian myth of Inanna and Dumuzi was published" (p. 101)_37 It is
Inanna who hands Dumuzi over to her demonic retinue, the gallu, to be
put to death as her substitute. "This is anything but an allegory of ve-
getation", says Burkert (p. 101), overlooking the developments of the
1960's. Over against those who argue that there is no evidence at all for
cults of Adonis in the Semitic world, Burkert notes a number of Oriental
features in the myth and ritual of the Greek Adonis: women weeping
over a young god, the prominence of incense in the ceremonies, and the
peculiarity that the Adonis rites are performed on the roofs of the houses
(p. 106). These and other Oriental features received thorough attention
in the work ofRibichini (discussed below). Burkert also stresses the im-
I have used the English translation from 1993; the page references above are to this version.
Note also the remarks on Frazer in Burkert (1987: 75).
portance of the admittedly scanty evidence from the Semitic side: there
is only one piece of Semitic evidence as old as Sappho, a passage in
Ezekiel 8:14, but this is unequivocal. The other Semitic evidence from
outside of Babylonia dates from imperial times: tesserae from Palmyra
inviting to the festival of Tammuz and Belti and showing the dead god
on his bier, a votive statue from Damascus with the same motif, and
Mandaean polemics against those who mournfully sit in the house of
Astarte and Tammuz (p. 106). In an interesting paragraph, Burkert com-
ments on the Christian authors and their version of the Adonis myth:
What we have here is a Sumerian-Semitic Tammuz myth transformed
into an appendix to the Greek Adonis myth. The "actants" correspond,
Ereshkigal to Persephone, Dumuzi to Adonis, though the roles of Inan-
na and Geshtinanna have been conflated in Aphrodite (p. 1 09).
From Burkert we now tum to Ribichini, who is one of the great spe-
cialists of the twentieth century on Adonis and related problems. Like
Baudissin he works with both classical and Semitic sources, but he
stands out from all his predecessors by making a sharp distinction be-
tween Adonis, the Greek heros,
and the Adonis of the Levant. This
appears already from the title of his book: Adonis. Aspetti "orientali"
di un mito greco (1981). First the Greek heros. One of the main conclu- 1
sions of this work is that the Greek Adonis does not reflect one single
Oriental deity; he rather displays a mixture of Oriental traditions that
have been re-elaborated in a Greek context.
Ribichini also notes the
difference between the picture we get from the mythology and from the
cult as reflected in classical sources. In the mythology there is no talk of
a victorious return of the hero. The order is life followed by death;
Adonis normally inhabits the Netherworld and is counted among the
chthonic gods in a papyrus. In the cult, however, there is a return, but
this is only a periodical one (pp. 133-134). There is no proper resurrec-
tion (pp. 139-140).
Then the Adonis of the Orient, who is a deity proper and no hero of
the Greek type.
Here we should note that, in contrast to Frazer, Ribi-
chini does not use the Adonis gardens as evidence for the resurrection;
he rather bases himself on the text of Lucian. Focussing on this textual
evidence, Ribichini arrives at an important conclusion: while the Greek
In the Greek antiquity, a heros was a man of superhuman qualities, favoured by the gods, a
Ribichini (1981: 42, 45, 142, 143, 192).
Ribichini is somewhat inconsistent in denying that the Oriental Adonis is one specific god
( 1981: 192; see also p. 42, 45) but actually arguing more or less as if he is. In his DDD entry
on Adonis, Ribichini ( 1995) no longer makes this point.
Adonis does not experience a resurrection, Lucian describes one for the
Adonis of the Orient (pp. 156-159).
Ribichini devotes some attention to the relation between Adonis and
Tammuz (pp. 181-192). His conclusion is that there is no historical line
representing a development from Dumuzi/Tammuz to Adonis (p. 191);
the relation between them is a problematical one. The publication of
new copies of the Sumerian lnanna 's Descent have made it clear that
the descent of the goddess does not follow upon the death of her lover;
it rather anticipates and causes the death of Dumuzi (p. 183).
As for the genesis of the Adonis ideas, Ribichini suggests that there
was a mythic and ritual pattern related to the cult of defunct royal fig-
ures in Syria and Palestine during the Bronze Age (pp. 194-197). This
point Ribichini develops further in a later monograph.
A figure of the
dema type, that is, a mythic figure proper to primitive cereal cultivators,
may or may not have served as the basis of the ideas of the dying and
rising god (p. 63). The cult of divinized defunct kings in Ebla, Mari, and
Ugarit, however, is of primary interest as an important part of the back-
ground (pp. 64-73). The Ugaritic rpum and mllcm are of particular im-
portance here. Ribichini summarizes his observations as follows:
As the origin of the dying-god-theme in the traditions about the Phoenician pan-
theon, we must thus, in the first place, put the cult of the dead which have a regal
rank [il culto dei morti di rango regale], this cult being an outstanding feature of
the Syrian religious manifestations during the epochs which preceded the Phoe-
nician one of the first millennium, and we must also recognize in the gods Phoe-
nician citizens, the result of a probable flaking off of the religious typology
centered towards the veneration of the ancestral refaim, of the kings divinized
after death. (1985: 70)
About Frazer's thesis, Ribichini concludes:
In our opinion, the possibility to interpret the divinities along the lines of the
Frazer-schemes of the dying god must therefore be given a different dimension.
They [the divinities] are not the image of a vegetation which dies and reappears;
the relationship with the royalty opens up towards the rather more complex per-
sonality of the "divinized heroes". As for the possible ties to a being of the dema
type, these still remain perceivable, if not for other reasons, so for the charac-
teristics of the refaim protecting and owning the territory. (1985: 70)
This is an interpretation along euhemerist lines (cf. above on Frazer). In
his DDD article on Adonis, however, Ribichini draws the line to Baal
in a more direct way: "It is probable that the cult of Adonis in Byblos
See Ribichini (1985: 41-73, esp. pp. 63ff.).
My translations. I am grateful to Mrs Angela Byrskog for discussing the proper rendering of
the Italian.
continued the worship of a Phoenician ... 'Baal' conceived as a dying
and rising god" (1995a: 14).
Ribichini's work is obviously one of great importance to all future
research on the Adonis problem. Especially interesting is his stress on
the aspects of a Greek heros as an outstanding characteristic of the
Adonis of the Greek sources and his stress on the possible importance
of the West Semitic cults of defunct royal ancestors.
At the same time
one should note that a bit of Frazer's euhemerism comes in through the
back door.
A special work on the Adonis gardens from more recent years should
be noted here. Frazer obviously ascribed great importance to the Adonis
gardens as symbols of the rejuvenation or resurrection of the god, a
point which was criticized already by Baudissin in a review (1907).
Like Baudissin, later scholars often argued that the Adonis gardens
were symbols of the death of the young god, the emphasis being on the
wilting of the sprouts. The gardens have thus been looked upon as sym-
bols of sterility; Detienne in particular had stressed this aspect. It is then
worthwhile noticing that Baudy (1986) views these Adonis gardens in
a new perspective. To Baudy the symbolism of the "gardens" is that of
a ritual test of the ability of the seed to sprout and germinate ("Saat-
gutpriifung") (pp. 13-32). Sowing the seeds in the bowls symbolizes the 1
death of Adonis and the sprouting his awaited resurrection (p. 38).
Baudy expressly takes exception to Detienne's interpretation of the
Adonis gardens.
His interpretation is rather more in line with Frazer.
Lipinski, in his magisterial work on the Phoenician deities, discusses
Adonis in terms of a dying and rising deity ( 1995: 90-1 08). This scholar
finds a direct line from the Late Bronze Age Baal, as we know him from
U garit and whose death and return appears as a mytho-poetic trans-
formation of the life of the vegetation with its cyclic death and renewal
(p. 97). The contacts between the Egyptian Osiris and the Byblite Adon-
is seem to go back to the period of the New Kingdom (p. 91 ). The celeb-
rations in Alexandria, described by Theocritus (Idyll XV), are directly
connected with certain Osiris rites (p. 95).
Even so, however, there is a respectable research tradition that finds
insurmountable difficulties for the conclusion that Adonis was a dying
and rising deity. That he was such a god is clearly a minority position,
Note, however, that Ribichini does not take up this point in his contribution on Adonis in DDD
See also Baudy (1996: col. 121).
Baudy (1996: col. 121).
' I
and moreover one that is not argued in dialogue and confrontation with
the opponents.
/. 5. The Case of Baal
Frazer's discussion of the dying and rising god was focussed on Adonis,
although Dumuzi/Tammuz and even Osiris and Attis were also part of
the picture for him. As we have seen so far, Adonis and Tammuz stood
in the centre of the ensuing debate. While U garitic material played a
certain role in the contributions of Colpe and Ribichini, surprisingly
little attention has generally been paid to Ugarit in contributions to the
issue of the dying and rising god as a specific type in the history of reli-
I shall here briefly sketch the main positions and restrict myself to
references to a few major works from the last half century.
A major figure in the debate about the interpretation of the Ugaritic
Baal texts is T.H. Gaster, who early on defended a ritual and seasonal
interpretation of the material. His monograph Thespis ( 1950) builds on
his previous publications dating back to the thirties.
In a number of
texts from the ancient Near East, Gaster finds a pattern and sequence of
ritual acts which from time immemorial have characterized major sea-
sonal festivals, usually made to coincide with the solstice or equinox.
This seasonal pattern comprises the "emptying", or evacuation (Greek:
kenosis), and the "filling", or replenishment (Greek: plerosis), of cor-
porate vitality (p. 26). The major elements are these: First come rites of
mortification; these are followed by rites of purgation and invigoration,
by which the community attempts to procure a new lease of life. Finally,
there are rites of jubilation (p. 26).
The Canaanite texts from Ugarit are marked by the myth of the dying
and reviving god.
The Baal Cycle presents a nature myth, and its
theme is the alternation of the seasons. The very names of the acting
characters provide the key to the correct interpretation (p. 124).
Gaster also discusses Anatolian material. Here he finds two different
subtypes: the combat type (the slaying of the dragon) and the disappear-
ing god type (e.g. the Telepinu myth). However, Gaster is not interested
in historical questions and genetic relationships. The various gods he
I am here using the 1975 reprint of the new and revised edition of 1961. For an appraisal of
Gaster and the criticisms of his work, see M.S. Smith (1994: 60-63).
Gaster (1975: 85-87, 114-244 [Baal]; 316-376 [Aqhat]; 406-435 [the Gracious Gods]).
studies are subjected to comparison on the psychological level, but not
the historical (p. 13 ).
In a paper with the title "Baals Tod und Auferstehung" W.H.
Schmidt (1963) sketched the main outlines of the epic tapestry of the
Baal myth: the descent of the god to the Netherworld, the cessation of
rain and the growth of vegetation, the mourning among the gods, and
the goddess's search for the dead god. Schmidt finds the same basic se-
quence in the myth of Osiris (pp. 4-6).
In 1971 J.C. de Moor published The Seasonal Pattern in the Ugaritic
Myth of Ba <[u. Though not without precursors-note especially
Gaster-this is a major breakthrough for a tightly argued interpretation
of the myth of Baal along seasonallines.
In spite of severe criticism,
notably from Grabbe (1976 and 1982), the idea of seasonal features in
the Baal cycle seems to be a sound one.
Moreover, de Moor (1988)
could also point to such features in the Aqhat materials.
The question of Baal as a dying and rising god takes a new and sur-
prising tum with de Moor's work. De Moor calls attention to the "twin-
brother" (ml )
that Baal begets with the heifer (KTU 1.5.V:l7-26).
"Disguised as Ba < lu this offspring will die in his stead, as if he were a
kind of sar piil;)i, the famous substitute-king of Babylonia .... Ba< lu him-
self will experience apparent death only."
The sowing in the field of
Mot by Anat (KTU 1.6.II:34-35) seems to be "the archetype of the later I
rite of the sowing of the 'Gardens of Adonis' which was performed
mainly by women precisely about this time of the year..." (1971: 214 ).
The allusion in the Aqhat epic to Baal's revivification and ensuing feast
(KTU 1.17 .VI: 30-33) supports the conclusion that Baal's resuscitation
in the Baal cycle took place in connection with the feast mentioned in
KTU 1.3.1 (1971: 56-57).
The idea that it was only a substitute of Baal who descended to the
Netherworld returns in studies by Gibson. Moreover, Gibson also draws
certain conclusions from this: "The cheating of death by Baal, with its
implication that it was not Baal himself but a substitute victim that was
Note the summary in de Moor (1971: 245-249 and in ARTU pp. !01-108).
Note Mark Smith's verdict: "These criticisms do not disprove the idea of a seasonal pattern in
the Baal Cycle" (Smith 1994: 66). I shall not here go into the question whether we have in the
myth a pattern from one single year or whether we should hold that there are three different
sections of the Baal cycle, each of which culminates in the autumn. For an outline of the dis-
cussion about the seasonal interpretation, see M.S. Smith (1986: 314-316, 329-332: 1994: 60-
69), who himself suggests the last-mentioned of the two alternatives (see 1994: 68 and UNP
For de Moor's linguistic interpretation of this difficult word, see de Moor ( 1969: I 06-1 07)
De Moor (1971 !88; cf. ARTU p. 79).
killed by Mot, is an intriguing notion: it ought. if true, to dampen not a
little the enthusiasm of those who theorise about a dying and rising god
in Canaanite religion and the possible effects of such a concept on Isra-
elite religion ... " (1979: 159-160). Though present in the Baal cycle, the
seasonal features are secondary in genesis and importance to other char-
According to Gibson, it is a mistake to call Baal a fertility
deity: Baal is a weather god, the sender of storm and lightning. "He is
emphatically not the same kind of deity as the various 'young' gods of
the Semitic pantheons to whom the description fertility may with con-
siderably more accuracy be attached, deities like Adonis of Byblos,
Melcarth of Tyre, and Eshmun of Sidon, or the Mesopotamian Tam-
muz. All of these are closely linked with the growing vegetation and in
company with it 'die' in high summer and 'come to life' in the spring"
( 1984: 206-207).
The problems were taken up anew by A. Waterston (1989), who ex-
pressly takes exception to the idea of a substitute: "I cannot agree with
Gibson that the body buried by < Anat is that of a surrogate conceived
by Ba<al and a heifer. There is no indication in the text that this is so ....
Gibson's view is based on the supposition that Ba < al does not die, but
surely this would make nonsense of the subsequent events ... " (p. 431).
As for the child, Waterston cannot offer a concrete explanation but
draws attention to the demand made by Mot. Mot demands to be fed
with one of Baal's brothers. It may thus be possible that the child, as kin
of Baal, has some allegorical or cultic significance. The narrative (KTU
1.5.V) implies that Baal is giving the child to Mot not as a substitute but
perhaps rather as a gift, maybe even a sacrifice (p. 431).
In a recent monograph, John Day devotes a section to resurrection
imagery in the Hebrew Bible. He concludes that this imagery has its
background in the notion of Baal as a dying and rising god. With regard
to Baal, Day expressly takes exception to Barstad and M.S. Smith. He
then goes on to demonstrate that there is a trajectory of resurrection im-
agery that stretches from the Baal cycle to the book of Daniel, via Hosea
and the Isaiah Apocalypse. 5
As for the Ugaritic Baal, there is obviously no consensus. Some
scholars hold that he only disappears, like Telepinu, others that there are
references to death, but that it is only a substitute that is killed by Mot,
while some, again, seem to regard Baal as a dying and rising deity.
Gibson (1979: 163-165; 1984: 211).
John Day (2000: 116-127, note especially pp. 116-118). Concerning the Canaanite background
of the idea of resurrection in ancient Israel, see also Greenspoon ( 198 I).
However, Baal's alleged character as a dying and rising god is a central
issue in a study which I would like to describe as an attempt to drive the
last nail in the coffin of the dying and rising deity: MarkS. Smith's 1998
contribution, to which we now tum.
1.6. MarkS. Smith: The Abolition of the Category
The most recent overall study of the issues connected with the problem
of dying and rising deities is a major paper by MarkS. Smith (1998).
The thesis of this study is succinctly formulated in its title: "The Death
of 'Dying and Rising Gods' in the Biblical World." This essay may apt-
ly be described as the finale of a century of debate on the problem of
dying and rising gods since Frazer.
Smith finds four elements that are of fundamental importance to
Frazer's theory: (a) the divine status of the figures, (b) myths about their
death and return to life, (c) the correspondence of this thematic eye le to
the seasonal cycle, and (d) a series of rituals which provides a cultic
context for the recitation of the myths (p. 262). Smith then goes on to
check the extant material against the four above-mentioned criteria.
For Dumuzi/Tammuz, Smith makes a number of pertinent observa- I
tions (pp. 272-277). Though the Sumerian Dumuzi would seem at first
sight to conform to Frazer's category of dying and rising gods, Smith
finds reasons to raise two objections: (a) Dumuzi has a sort of semi-di-
vine status, and (b) the ritual underpinnings necessary to support Fraz-
er's theory are only partly in place for Dumuzi. There is no ritual text
celebrating his return from the Netherworld.
Smith then turns to Melqart and Heracles. Though he accepts the
possible existence of a tradition of the god's death, fostered at Spanish
Gades, Smith generally questions evidence for Melqart!Heracles as a
dying and rising deity. For Melqart "[t]here is simply insufficient evid-
ence to prove the case or to dismiss it entirely" (p. 279). The well-
known references to a person (functionary or official) with the designa-
tion mqm/mqym >Jm in connection with Melqart and to the act of yep-
~ in connection with Heracles do not by any means necessarily
presuppose the idea of a dying and rising god ("reviver of the god" and
"resurrection"). There are other, rivalling interpretations, seeing in
y c p o ~ a reference to temple building, to mention one example (pp.
This study also appears as chapter 6 in Smith (2001 ).
When it comes to Adonis. Smith notes that the reference in Lucian's
De Dea Syria is "perhaps the closest one resembling a death and resur-
rection", but goes on to say that "even here the passage is hardly clear"
(p. 283 ). He notes with sympathy 1 .z. Smith s view that the classical ac-
counts of Adonis neither mention nor describe his rising from death,
and that only accounts fashioned by Christian writers introduce the
theme of Adonis' resurrection (p. 283).
Smith also disputes claims to a continuity between Baal, as known
from KTU 1.5-6, and Adonis. (a) The similarities are rather with Baal
as he appears in KTU 1.12 ( cf. the killing of Adonis by a boar; p. 285).
(b) Moreover, there are clear differences between Baal and Adonis:
Baal is a weather god, warrior, and a major figure of the pantheon,
which is not true for Adonis. Smith questions that Adonis is a god:
"Adonis is a mortal" (p. 285). (c) If there is any family resemblance be-
tween Adonis and any of the figures relevant to the discussion, it is Du-
muzi that claims our interest. "Dumuzi and Adonis stand out as humans
or perhaps deified humans, more specifically young figures (both pos-
sibly associated with a major goddess) who are not warriors" (p. 285).
The unknown god from the Pyrgi inscription (KAI no. 277) may be
Melqart or Adonis. If Melqart, then the formulation about "the day of
the burial of the god" (bym qbr >Jm) might be linked with the above-
mentioned title mqm/mqym >Jm. However, Smith notes the proposal by
Knoppers who sees in >Jm a recently dead person, a human, for whom
the Etruscan king built the shrine. Smith then notes that "the text is cer-
tainly silent on any issue of resurrection" (p. 287).
A highly innovative part of Smith's contribution is his discussion of
Baal's death and return to life (pp. 289ff.). To begin with, Smith makes
two important observations related to the genres of the extant material.
(a) The ritual texts, presently about seventy in number, do not contain
any references to the death and rising of Baal (p. 290). (b) The Baal
cycle, on the other hand, is essentially of a literary character (p. 290).
Then, like Barstad and J.Z. Smith, he argues for placing Baal along
with Telepinu in the category of disappearing deities (pp. 291-295).
Smith notes a number of similarities between these two deities, both be-
ing major storm gods, such as absence, search, and participation in
search by the sun deity. The major difference, consisting of Baal's death
versus Telepinu's disappearance, Smith handles with a formulation
about "dying as a subcategory of disappearance in the Baal Cycle" (p.
A major point in Smith's treatment of Baal is his conclusion that
"Baal is being modelled on the perceived fate of the U garitic kings who
descend to the Underworld; in their case, they may temporarily come to
life" (p. 296). His main basis for this conclusion is the degree of simil-
arity between the royal funerary liturgy in KTU 1.161 and the literary
material in KTU 1.5-6. In the funerary liturgy, the living king, Ammu-
rapi, who is taken as the subject of the verbs in lines 14-16 (pp. 298,
302), goes down to visit the dead king, Niqmaddu, and the dead king
comes up to receive the offerings mentioned at the end of the text (p.
306, note 195). "Baal's death reflects the demise of Ugaritic kings, but
his return to life heralds the role of the living king to provide peace for
the world" (pp. 307f.).
Returning to the four criteria for Frazer's hypothesis about dying and
rising deities, Smith concludes (pp . .287ff.) that there are points of lim-
ited commonality between the figures discussed. Several are regarded
as dying or disappearing, and there is a degree of affinity to seasonal
phenomena. Apart from the obvious fact that Frazer assembles much
too much under the umbrella of his dying and rising deities, there are
three major problems. (a) The figures in Frazer's theoretical construct
vary widely in character. Some, like Dumuzi and Adonis, may not even
be gods. (b) "[T]he ritual background posited for these figures is absent
from indigenous Levantine evidence" (p. 288). (c) "[F]inally, some of
the better evidence pertaining to 'dying and rising deities' derives from
late classical authors who often received their information second-
hand" (p. 288).
A general feature of Smith's study worth noticing is that he ques-
tions the previously assumed continuity between Baal and Adonis. On
the contrary, he suggests that there are closer similarities between Baal
and Telepinu (pp. 291ff.) and between Adonis and Dumuzi (pp. 285ff.).
2. The Agenda for the Present Work
2.1. Where Do We Stand? The Task of the Present Work
As we survey the past century, it is easy to see that Ugaritic studies
came in surprisingly late into the discussion about the putative category
of dying and rising deities. It is the merit of Mark S. Smith (1998) to
have brought Baal to the fore, although Gaster and Ribichini also took
some important steps in this direction. As for Baal, MarkS. Smith sub-
sumed him under the category of vanishing deities, while de Moor and
Gibson suggested that a substitute of Baal descended to the Nether-
world. Gaster and Day took Baal to be a dying and rising god. Del Olmo
Lete saw a line of continuity between Canaanite Baal and later Phoeni-
cian gods of the dying and rising type. 5
The two main foci of the debate have been Tanunuz and Adonis. The
discussion about the situation in "Mesopotamian religion" can be de-
scribed as a stepwise reduction. The order of elimination was first Mar-
duk, then Dumuziffammuz. Tammuz rose from the dead, but only
temporarily, in order to receive the mourning ceremonies in connection
with his death. Already by the 1950's a drastic reduction in the claims
for Dumuziffammuz (and Marduk) had thus taken place. It was also in
the 1950's that Lambrechts published his heavy critique of the assump-
tion that Adonis was a dying and rising deity. The lines thus seemed to
converge, and the Lebensraum for the dying and rising god was gradu-
ally reduced. Notably, the gardens of Adonis, regarded by Frazer as a
major symbol of the death and resurrection of Adonis, became an in-
creasingly disputed quantity in the debate.
The situation during the last half of the century was thus one when
it seemed fairly clear that there were no ideas of resurrection connected
with Dumuziffammuz, and that the ideas of a resurrection in connec-
tion with Adonis are very late. The references to a resurrection of Adon-
is have been dated mainly to the Christian Era. Two major explanations
for the motif have been adduced. (a) DeVaux argued that it was a late
borrowing from the cult of Osiris and was attested for the first time in
Alexandria in the third century C.E. (similarly Lambrechts and Wag-
ner). (b) Will, in his tum, denied the presence in the Adonis cult proper
of any notions of Adonis as a rising deity. The references to a resurrec-
tion were due to a Christian misreading of the evidence: Origen, Cyril
and other Christian writers saw the Adonis rites through Christian
glasses. Will's solution seems to have had some influence on J.Z.
Smith. Thus, Osiris and Christ were seen as the main explanations for
any references to resurrection in connection with Adonis!
As a result of the many decades of research since de Vaux (1933),
"it has become commonplace to assume that the category of Mediter-
ranean 'dying and rising' gods has been exploded ... [I]t is now held that
the majority of the gods so denoted appear to have died but not returned;
there is death but no rebirth or resurrection." These words of J.Z. Smith
aptly summarise the present state of research.
Frazer's category was broad and all encompassing. To Frazer, Osi-
ris, Tammuz, Adonis, and Attis were all deities of the same basic type,
Del Olmo Lete (1996: 77-80).
J.Z. Smith(1990: 100-101).
manifesting the yearly decay and revival of life. He explicitly identified
Tammuz and Adonis. The category of dying and rising deities as prop-
agated by Frazer can no longer be upheld.
While realizing this, one cannot escape noticing the eagerness with
which some scholars have tried to make a tabula rasa. The present
study does not intend to resuscitate Frazer's category. Its original in-
spiration, however, partly lies in my suspicion that there are indeed cer-
tain features of Adonis, Melqart, and Eshmun that strikingly resemble
certain features of the Late Bronze Age Baal, and that the lines of sim-
ilarities between a number of the deities involved can be drawn in a
manner slightly different from what has been done.
What I shall do in the present study is therefore to focus on the
Northwest Semitic material, taking the term in a broad sense, and ana-
lyse the motif or mytheme
of the death and return of the deity in such
Semitic cults. 5
Part of my original inspiration for doing this is the un-
derstanding ofthe God oflsrael as the "living God".
It is my hope that
my work will, in one way or another, contribute to a better understand-
ing of this and related features of YHWH. I shall not, however, discuss
YHWH in the present investigation. For a few remarks, see the Epilogue.
The question I shall try to answer then is not the all-comprising ontr
of the justification for Frazer's category but simply this more limited
one: Are there, in the realm of Northwest Semitic cults in Syria, Phoe-
nicia, and the Mediterranean, gods who are believed to die and return
to life? I shall try to arrive at a decision about the existence or non-ex-
istence of the motif of a deity that dies and rises.
When in the following I use the term "dying and rising god(s)", I use
it in the Weberian sense referring to an ideal type (ldealtypus): the ter-
minology does not per se presuppose genetic relations. We must always
remember that the various deities belong to different religious contexts.
It is no longer necessary to restate the profound differences between the
symbolic universes of the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the Greeks,
and the peoples of the West Semitic realm. Meaning is always contex-
tual. Structural analogies may, however, occur, and these may be of the
kind to indicate that we are, in specific cases, confronted with the results
of contact and influence.
On mythemes, see below Chap. I.2.2.
For a broader survey of the descensus motif. see Bauckham (ABD 2: 145-159).
On this and related matters see Kreuzer (1983) and Mettinger (1988: 82-91 with all the biblical
references listed on p. 91). As examples I would here mention: Deut 5:26; Josh 3: 10; 1 Sam
17:26, 36: 2 Kings 19:4, 16; Jer 10:10. Compare the expression ''the Lord lives" in 2 Sam 22:47
and Ps 18: 47.
The minimum requisites for me to speak of such a dying and rising
deity are:
(a) that in the specific cult the figure in question is a real god, what-
ever his previous history, and
(b) that he is conceived of as dying (his death represented as a des-
census to the Netherworld or in some other way) and reappearing as
alive after the experience of death.
Two other points are also worthy of particular attention, but do not hold
the status of criteria, namely,
(c) whether the fate of the deity is somehow related to the seasonal
cycle, and,
(d) whether there is a ritual celebration of the fate of the deity in
The geographical regions involved in this investigation have clear
seasonal variations. There is a basic difference between the Syro-Pales-
tinian area with rains and Mesopotamia and Egypt with floodings. Even
so, the basic pattern is drought during the summer and a wealth of water
in the winter, whether from rains or floodings. A number of calendars
from the ancient Near Eastern world are now known. With few excep-
tions we find a spring reckoning of the year: the beginning of the year
is counted from the spring.
A critical terminological issue is whether or not to use the term "re-
surrection".62 In general language the term has heavy Christological
connotations, and it has been questioned whether it is of any use in
studies of comparative religion. Dealing with deities I shall, neverthe-
less, feel free to use the term "resurrection" in connection with gods
who descend to the Netherworld and return from there to assume full
and active duties on earth. The descensus is to me a metaphor for "dy-
ing";63 correspondingly, the return from the Netherworld must be a
metaphor for being restored to life again.
It is the merit of M.S. Smith to have called attention to these four points, which are all of im-
portance in Frazer's construct. See Smith (1998: 262).
On "primitive" time-reckoning in general, see M.P. Nilsson (1920). On cultic calendars in the
ancient Near East, see Cohen (1993) and Fleming (2000). Fleming's work focusses on Emar.
Note that there is no fixed correlation between the Mesopotamian calendar and the solar cycle.
Regular intercalation was not put in effect until Achaemenid times (Cohen 1993: 5 with refer-
ences). However, even prior to that we must calculate with the insertion of an intercalary month
in reaction to natural events (harvest, rain, flooding) being out of phase with the cultic calendar,
see Cohen (1993: 5-6). Against this background the equation of Mesopotamian months with
ours is only relative, of course.
On this term, see Ringgren (ER 12: 344-350). Note also Fascher (1941) on the basic termino-
In a work focussing on Semitic material, it seems clear that the post-
mortal restoration to unimpaired bodily life is important as a criterion
for resurrection.
Continued existence in a shadowy Netherworld, re-
nascence, and immortality
are cases that should not be subsumed un-
der "resurrection". Moreover, it is clear that we must distinguish
between the belief in the resurrection of a certain deity and the belief in
the general resurrection of humankind.
It might be objected here that using the notion of "bodily" life about
a deity may be awkward. My answer to this is simply that the anthropo-
morphic concept of deity justifies this reference to the "body" of the de-
ity; even in transfigured shape this divine "body" has corporeal
Some words about the limits of the task. The focus will be on some
male Northwest Semitic deities. Though the goddess is important in
these contexts I shall not deal particularly with her. We have already
Corinne Bonnet's excellent monograph on the goddess (Astarte, 1996).
Besides, it is regularly the male god that stands at the focus in material
relevant to the issue of the death and resurrection of gods.
the male gods are especially relevant for future study of YHWH and the
continuities and contrasts that are relevant in such a project. Such a
Note, however, that divine messengers can freely cross the boundaries between this world and
the Netherworld without appearing as dying gods. They are a sort of "Grenzganger". Note the
role of such gods in lshtar's Descent and Nergal and Ereshkigal.
I thus disagree with Tsukimoto (1985: 13-14). It seems to me that the discussion of these mat-
ters sometimes suffer from a certain (Christian) bias; see e.g. Atallah (1966: 268). Note also
Miiller (1999: 26, 28) who seems somewhat too eager to eliminate the idea of a resurrection:
"Von der Vorstellung des nach einem irdischen Schicksal sterbenden miinnlichen Vegetations-
got\ ist diejenige der Unterweltsfahrt ... sorgfaltig zu unterscheiden" (p. 26), and "So ergibt
sich: Dem irdisch-schicksalhaften Tod des ostmediterranen Vegetationsgottes folgt ur-
spriinglich keine Auferstehung ... Nur im Zusammenhang der Unterweltsfahrt einer Gottheit
wird deren Wiederkehr erziihlt und begangen. Das jiihrliche Ersterben der Vegetation wurde
also auf verschiedenen Weise mythisiert, durch den Tod eines Gottes einerseits, seine bzw. ihre
Unterweltsfahrt andererseits." (p. 28). Miiller seems to overlook that the descensus is a meta-
phor for death.
This was stressed by Notscher ([1926=]1980: 2-3).
On this notion, see Notscher ([1926=] 1980: 2-3). lam here using the word "immortality" to
denote the continued existence of the soul, without reference to the body.
See Ptitscher's remarks about the Greek gods, Potscher ( 1965: 209). He says about the life of
Heracles: "Es bedarf keines Wortes, dass dieses Leben kein rein geistiges sein kann; denn die
Gtitter Griechenlands sind anthropomorph und haben einen wenn auch quasi verkliirten Leib.
den sie mit Ambrosia und Nektar nahren" (p. 209). Note Vemant's fresh approach to these mat-
ters in Greek religion, Vemant (1992: 27-49). On the anthropomorphism of the West Semitic
gods, note especially the speculations about the size of the body of the deity; see M.S. Smith
(1988b: 424-427). Note from later times the kabbalistic Shiur Qomah speculations. lit. "the
measure of the body"; see Scholem (1977: 7-48).
Thus Xella ( 1984: 27) and Bonnet ( 1996: 122).
study will not be undertaken here but certainly lies in the extension of
the present project.
My agenda will be as follows. I shall choose Baal as we know him
from U garit as a first focal point. I shall then go on to deal with material
for the deities Adonis, Melqart, and Eshmun, including the unknown
god of the Pyrgi inscription. In this part of the work, I shall start with
Melqart since his case seems to be more unequivocal than the others. In
a third step I shall arrange some comparative sidelight on the issue by
means of succinct presentations of material related to Mesopotamian
Dumuzi/Tammuz and Egyptian Osiris. I shall here focus on the rela-
tions between these two deities and the West Semitic gods.
When dealing with Melqart, Adonis, and Eshmun there is Greek ma-
terial that is important to our project. It is obvious that there was a pro-
cess of syncretism which led to the assimilation of these gods into
Greek religion: Adonis was transplanted from the Orient and was thus
found in the Greek Adonia, the festivals for Adonis; Melqart and Esh-
mun were identified with Heracles and Asclepius respectively.
Recent study of the contacts between Greece and the Orient points
to two periods as especially important for the influx of Oriental culture
into Greece: High Mycenean (ca. 1450-1200 B.C.E.) and the Oriental-
izing Period (ca. 7 50-650), the period of the expansionist Assyrian em-
pire. A number of recent works discuss these cultural contacts. Schretter
(197 4) dealt with Nerga1 and Reshep on Greek soil. Burkert, first in his
Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual (1979) and then
in The Orientalizing Revolution ([ 1984] 1992), took important steps to
study the nature of the contacts and submit examples demonstrating the
process. Penglase, in Greek Myths and Mesopotamia ([1994] 1997)
worked out lines of connection of particular interest to the present
project: the Oriental background of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and
of the mythology connected with Aphrodite and Adonis. D.R. West
(1995), in turn, concentrated on the Mycenean Age and on the influx of
Oriental demonology. M.L. West in The East Face of Helicon (1997)
collected a wealth of material from Greek poetry and myth, where he
was able to demonstrate the presence of West Asiatic elements.
A col-
lection of contributions by Assyriological specialists of relevance to the
issue of Greece and the Orient are found in Dalley, ed., The Legacy of
Mesopotamia (1998). A valuable symposium volume appeared too late
to be used in the present work: Ribichini, Rocchi, and Xella, eds., La
questione delle influenze vicino-orientali sulla religione greca (see ad-
Jerker Blomqvist called my attention to this work.
dition to the bibliography).-This trend in modern research to find the
Oriental influence of increasing importance seems to justify my as-
sumption that Greek material may shed important light on the Semitic
deities under study in the present work.
The Realms of Life and Death.-An important structural contrast be-
tween Greek and Semitic religion must be briefly commented on: the
views concerning the realms of life and death.
We shall not here speak
of an absolute contrast between East and West, but there are certain dif-
ferences. In Greece the line between these two realms is rather sharp.
The gods are the immortal ones, athanatoi; the epithet becomes a def-
inition. They are the ambrotoi, the immortal and divine who do not per-
ish. Even old age is unknown to them.
As a corollary of this, there are
very few traces in Greek (and Roman) thinking of a belief in a post -mor-
tal resurrection of human beings.
The Athenians mocking Paul's talk
of resurrection (Acts 17:31-32) fits perfectly into this larger framework.
The ancient Near Eastern cultures in the West Semitic realm and
Mesopotamia tend to present a less well-defined borderline between the
realm of the dead and that of living humans and the gods.
In Mesopo-
tamia the remains of the dead were the focus of attention and care. The
bones of the dead continued to "live" and to be united with the family
group by a sort of umbilical cord.
The Akkadian term for "corpse"
was salamtu, from a root semantically related to the notion of complete-
ness and integrity.
The living were busy with feeding and giving drink
to the dead. A special monthly celebration was named kispu (possibly
from kasapu, "to break, to divide food").
This was essentially a ban-
quet: the dead were called to come and join in a meal with the living and
to share it. The same type of celebration with all the members of the di-
vine family participating is known from Nergal and Ereshkigal, with
For general aspects of the afterlife from the perspective of comparative religion, see Th.P. van
Baaren (1987).
For this aspect of the Greek gods, see e.g. Burkert (1985: 201-203) and Yernant ( 1992: 33 ).
See Potscher ( 1965: esp. p. 214).
On death in Mesopotamia, see the various contributions in Alster ed. (1980: especially the
studies by Bottero and Lambert), Cassin (1987: 236-257), and Bottero (1995: 268-286). On
death in Ugarit, see especially Spronk (1986), Lewis (1989), van der Toorn (199\), Dietrich
and Loretz (199lb), B.B. Schmidt (1994; 1996), Pardee (1996), and del Olmo Lete ( 1999: 166-
253 ). On the Phoenicians and death, see Gras, Rouillard, and Teixidor (1991) and Benichou-
Safar ( 1992; 1995 with literature on pp. 95f.). On death in the first millennium B.C.E. Syria.
see Niehr (1994a).
See Cassin ( 1987: 243-257; esp. pp. 245f.).
Thus Cassin (1987: 246).
See Tsukimoto ( 1985, on the etymology pp. 23-26).
the absent gods sending their agents to pick up their share.
tion of the dead was a regular procedure in the Semitic world.
Egypt in tum is here as in so many other respects completely sui
generis. We cannot here enter into details.
It seems clear, however,
that the borderline between the living and the dead is not absolute.
Paradoxically, gods grow old and die, but they are not dead.
It seems clear that the putative category of dying and rising gods be-
longs more naturally in a context where the borderline between the dead
and the living are less absolute than in the Greek culture. This also
means that ancient Near Eastern gods integrated into the symbolical
universe of Greek religion may have undergone important changes. To
this we shall return in due time.
2.2. Theoretical issues: Ritual, Myth, and the Comparative Study of
Before we enter on our treatment of the material, it is appropriate to
sketch briefly the theoretical and methodological assumptions that lay
behind the present work. Our project is one that deals with a particular
aspect of notions of god in the ancient Near East. We cannot hope to
grasp the actual mental representations, i.e. what was thought about a
certain deity in a certain cult (what I would like to call the Gottesvorstel-
lungen); our operations deal with the expressions of these ideas in the
realm of texts, rites and iconography (i.e. what I would like to call the
In his studies of the notions of god among the African Maasai, Tord
Olsson has made observations that deserve close attention.
On the ba-
sis of a comprehensive body of texts, Olsson has shown that the various
notions of the high god are closely correlated to the main genres of reli-
gious texts and to specific speech situations. In the myths, anthropomor-
phic representation of the deity is a formal feature ofthe narrative genre.
It is a phenomenon on the textual level. It does not necessarily follow
that the narrators and the audience cherished an anthropomorphic idea
of their god. In the supplications proper, i.e. in the speech situation of
See Bottero (1995: 281-282).
See especially Tropper ( 1989).
See Assmann (Lii 6: 659-676) and Rossler-Kiihler (Lii 3: 252-267).
See Riissler-Kiihler (Lii 3: 253).
See Hornung (1983: 143-159, p. 153).
See Olsson (1983).
For the following, see Olsson (1983; 1999; 2000).
entreaty, the high god assumes anthropomorphic traits. However, in
hymns and prayers he may be identified with the sky, the earth and other
elements of nature.
This means that literary genre and speech situation are determinants
of the notions of god. A decisive line runs between mythological and rit-
ual texts. This insight may be relevant also far beyond the particular
case studied by Olsson. Thus, the distinction between the levels of ritual
and myth is important for the proper understanding of divine kingship
in Egypt. Applying such a distinction, Bartha was able to show that
whenever the king is represented as divine, it refers to his ritual status.
Another case in the study of Egyptian religion is the problem of "mono-
theistic tendencies". Podemann S0rensen here makes a well-taken ob-
servation: "It is an astonishing, but I think undeniable, fact that
participants in almost a hundred years of discussion about 'monotheist
tendencies' in ancient Egyptian religion simply failed to acknowledge
that their source material was ritual texts, in which they should not ex-
pect to find catechetic statements on the nature of God."
The implication of these observations is clear: certain dimensions of
the notions of god may be present in one genre but absent in another.
It is therefore important to distinguish ritual and myth as two distinct
genres of religious expression.
1. On Ritual.
-Building on previous attempts I prefer to define rit-
ual (rite) as a rule-governed symbolic or expressive act, designed to
maintain or change its object. This definition focusses on the dimension
of efficacy,
and it includes the high degree of standardization, or ste-
reotypical character, of ritual behaviour. Ritual is rule-govemed.
belongs to the nature of ritual to rely upon the authority of the past.
There are many examples to show that ritual is perhaps the most con-
servative of all elements of religion.
Bartha (1975: esp. pp. 124-139).
Podemann S(<lrensen (1993: 15).
Two important synthesizing works on ritual are Bell (1997) and Rappaport (1999). l have also
learnt much on ritual by following the dissertation work of my student Martin Modeus, who
has arrived at important theoretical insights about ritual: see his dissertation (forthcoming in
On the performative dimension of ritual. see Gerholm (1988: 198) and Rappaport (1999: 107-
138). Podemann S0rensen (1993: 16-21: esp. pp. 19-20) includes this aspect in his definition
of ritual.
On this, see Bell (1997: 138-155) and Rappaport (1999: 32-37). Nevertheless, rituals can
change: see Bell ( 1997: 210-252).
Nevertheless, rituals should not be understood as absolute entities,
but instead as acts of ritualization necessitated by distinct situations that
we may refer to with Modeus as causae.
Finding the causa is a first
step in the analysis of a ritual.
Of the categories of rites suggested by previous scholars, calendrical
rites and life-crisis rites are of particular interest to us.
These two
overlap, since rites focussing on maintaining fertility in nature and
among humans are at one and the same time tied to specific seasons and
triggered by crises, due to the change in precipitation for instance. We
have seen that T.H. Gaster found a sequence of "kenotic" and "plerotic"
rites, symbolizing the "emptying" and the "filling" or replenishment of
corporate vitality, marking the change of seasons.
The problems of the meaning of rites and of their interpretation are
notoriously difficult. We may distinguish with Mode us between three
levels of interpretation.
(a) The level of ideology: here belongs the
ideological meaning imputed by educated cultic personnel of the cult in
question. (b) The level of use: here we find the instrumental common-
sense function, as in, for instance, popular notions of the sense of the
rite carried out. (c) The structural level: here interpretation intends tore-
veal hidden structural properties that are (often unconsciously) ex-
pressed in the form of ritual. Consider, for instance, Christian baptism.
The minister looks upon it as the act that incorporates a child in the
kingdom of God, or alternatively as expressing the candidate's dying
with Christ (the level of ideology). The secularized parents of a child
being baptized regard it as a name-giving act (the level of use). On the
structural level it may express the child's crossing the borderline be-
tween nature and culture.
A second step in ritual analysis is thus the question of which inter-
pretation is valid and on which level? When our material confronts us
with interpretations of ritual we must thus ask: Whose interpretation? It
may be that our sources provide no interpretations at all from the parti-
cipants of the cultic act but only outsider's reports, perhaps reports
about "pagan" rites by Christian observers.
Speaking about the interpretation of rites we already presuppose that
rites have meaning in some sense.
Gerholm takes exception to "a
On the notion of causa. see Modeus (forthcoming Chap. 1).
On various categories on the basis of the causae, see Bell (1997: 91-137).
Gaster (1975: 23-76).
See Modeus (forthcoming, Chap. 5).
Whether rituals have a meaning and how they mean is a controversial issue. Note Sperber
(1991: esp. pp. 51-113) and Rappaport (1999: 52-58, 69-106).
symbolist view that would see ritual as concerned primarily with ex-
pression and communication of meaning rather than with 'doing'
things" and goes on to note that rituals are ways of doing things with
I shall here only stress the risk of committing the essentialist fallacy,
that is, imputing to the ritual concerned one single and stable meaning
surviving temporal changes and crossing cultural borders, a meaning in-
trinsic to the ritual as such.
The same ritual behaviour may have com-
pletely different meanings in different contexts-and even in one single
context, where different participants may have a different understand-
ing of it. Thus, rituals have no intrinsic meaning. To presuppose the
contrary would be analogous with the etymological fallacy in dealing
with a semantic problem in the study of a linguistic expression: basing
conclusions about the sense of a word on etymology, neglecting the
overall importance of context, of usage, as a guide to meaning.
Finally, there is the relation between ritual and myth. Here nothing
can be taken for granted. A ritual is not necessarily a parallel version of
a myth. There are myths without ritual and rituals without myth. In
given cases we may count upon processes in either direction: the ritual-
ization of myth or the mythologization of ritual. There are examples of
ritual passages in narrative texts, as is particularly clear from D.P.
Wright's study of the Aqhat text?
Among the Maasai, there is evid-
ence that people believed certain things because they performed certain
rites. A Maasai informant is reported as saying, "We believe that God
is in heaven or exists up there, because we splash milk upwards, to-
wards heaven, when we sacrifice to him." Note the logic!
mythologization of ritual is well-known in the context of old Egyptian
royal rituals.
This points to the possible independence of myth and ritual in given
cases. On the other hand, we should also count with the possibility of a
very close relation between the dromena, what is performed in the rite,
and the legomena, what is being said. The learning of oral texts, dogmas
Gerholm (1988: 198).
For critiques of the essentialist fallacy, see Hubert and Mauss (1909: 6-8 and passim) andes-
pecially Modeus (forthcoming, passim), whose whole contribution is marked by a very finn
anti-essentialist stance. Note also E.R. Sand (1999: 111-115), who criticizes essentialist tend-
encies among scholars working on the phenomenology of religion.
This observation was made by Viberg in his study of legal symbolic acts in the OT; see Vi berg
(1992: 12).
D.P. Wright (2001).
Olsson (2000: 9-1 0).
See Bartha (1975).

and ritual practices is often anchored in bodily positions and gestures.
The memory of a religious word or doctrine is thereby linked to specific
postures or gestures and is efficiently recalled when the acts of the ritual
practice are carried out.
2. On Myth.-1 shall here refrain from the almost impossible task of
working out one single and all-encompassing definition of myth.
stead I shall list a number of aspects of myth that are essential to my un-
derstanding of the phenomenon.
(1) Form: Myth is narrative in form.
This means that the study of
myth has something to learn from the modem discipline of narratology.
Scholars working in this field have taught us to distinguish between the
discourse at hand in the text under examination and the fabula or story,
which is the chronological (causal) sequence into which the reader pro-
gressively and retrospectively reassembles the motifs, the reconstructed
chronological s e ~ u e n c e without attachment to specific individuals or to
time and place.
The narratological terrnfabula/story is sometimes re-
placed in studies of myth by the term mythologem or mytheme.
1 shall
use the last-mentioned as such a counterpart to story/fabula. I shall thus
regard "the killing of the monster" or "the descent into the Nether-
world" as separate mythemes. To me the term is a typological category
that does not imply that all texts where a mytheme occurs are genetic-
ally related. A mytheme may arise independently in different cultures.
The contrary may also be the case in certain instances: two texts may
contain the same mytheme because they are genetically related, whether
directly or indirectly via a third entity. Within a specific culture a
mytheme may serve as a sort of "genotext", manifesting itself in several
discourses on the "phenotext" level, if we may use an analogy from the
study of intertextuality .
1 05
IOO See e.g. Olsson (2000: 19).
For a brief and compact synthesis on myth, see A. and J. Assmann (HRwG 4: 179-200, with
references). Among other works I would like to mention the following: Fontenrose (1966),
Honko (1972), Kirk (1973), Burkert (1979: 1-34), the studies by Assmann, Burkert and Stolz
(1982, all in OBO 48), Bolle (ER 10: 261-273), Stolz (TRE 23: 608-625), Evers 1995, and Lin-
coln (1999).
See e.g. Kirk (1973: 31-41) and H.-P. Mtiller (1983-1984).
For a survey of basic aspects of narratology, see Ska ( 1990) with literature. On the distinction
between discourse and story, see ibid. pp. S-6.
Fontenrose (1966: 55) defines mythologem as "a recurring pattem or type of fabula".
See Assmann (1977: 37-39; HRwG 4: 187) and Burkert (1979: 2-3 and S-6). Note the com-
ments made by Baines (1991: 88-89). For theoretical perspectives on intertextua1ity, see Met-
linger (1993 with literature) .
Current studies of myth actually use the term "myth" in two different
senses: (a) myth as discourse and (b) myth as fabula or story, that is,
myth as mytheme. What we find in Inanna 's Descent and in Ishtar 's
Descent may be regarded as two discourses manifesting the same story
or mytheme, though there are noticeable differences on the discourse
level. Myth as mytheme is not then identical with any specific text;
rather, the individual text is one of several possible manifestations of
the myth.
Making such distinctions may be very helpful in typological com-
parisons when one studies mythological material from various parts of
the ancient Near East. In this connection I would like to call attention to
Hutter's worthwhile analysis of the literary elements of the descensus
Structural analysis of myth in the French tradition is a study of deep-
structures and is designed to unravel the logic of the myth. It is often
geared towards an understanding of the myth as a strategy for solving
conflicts or as reflecting structural properties of the society.
(2) Contents: Myths deal with gods and/or supernatural beings. The
time of the narrative is often the distant past (in illo tempore). Thus, the
Akkadian reception of Sumerian cosmogony makes use of the phrase
ina ilmi ulliiti, "in those distant days".
(3) Function: On the functional level we may distinguish between
two possible aspects: (a) Myths may serve as entertainment. (b) Myths
may also, on a deeper level, serve as paradigms for the present in either
of two different ways: (b') They may have a validating function, pro-
viding legitimization and sanction, for instance of social institutions
such as kingship. (b") Or, they may have an explanatory function,
giving an etiology for a certain condition in the present situation.
The two latter functions may be difficult to distinguish. Among
myths that have a paradigmatic function we may distinguish between
cosmogonies, nature myths (Tammuz, Baal, etc.), culture myths (Cain
Assmann correctly makes this distinction (which I here clarify hy making recourse to narrato-
logical concepts), but he uses his own terminology: "mythische Aussagen" as "realisierte
Texte" vs. "Mythos" as "etwas Abstraktes: der Kern von Handlungen und Ereignissen, Heiden
und Schicksalen, der einer gegebene Menge mythischer Aussagen als thematisch gemeinsames
zugrunde liegt" (1977: 28-39, esp. pp. 37-39: quotation from p. 38).
Hutter (1985: 148-155). Hutter himself uses the term "Mythologem".
!OK On the structuralist study of myth, see Kirk ( 1973: 43-83) and Champagne (I 992). For a struc-
turalist treatment of the Baal Cycle, see Petersen and Woodward (1977).
See Dietrich (1985).
See Kirk ( 1973: 253-254) and Assmann (HRwG 4 185-186)
and Abel), and existential myths (Genesis 2; Atrahasis, etc.).
the point of view of the present work, legitimization and etiology are the
most interesting aspects.
(4) Context: While it was formerly often believed that myth had rit-
ual as its Sitz im Leben, this is no longer so.
It is now widely recog-
nized that some myths may be ritual myths, while others serve in
contexts outside the cult for purposes such as entertainment. Myths that
interpret or legitimate a certain ritual are found in e.g. /shtar's Descent
and Baal and the Devourers (KTU 1.12) both of which finish with a ref-
erence to a specific ritual.
The stress on the functionalist perspective on myth is in line with the
general approach to the phenomenon of religion found in the sociology
of knowledge.
We find here an understanding of social universes as
"social products with a history",
a stress on the close relationship be-
tween human thought and the social context within which it arises.
There is "a high degree of continuity between social and cosmic or-
der".115 Symbolic universes operate on the nomic, ordering level and
serve to legitimate institutional order. Mythology is thus a form of "uni-
verse-maintenance".116 An approach to myth informed by the soci-
ology of knowledge inspires historical awareness: we realize "the
inevitable historicity of human thought", its "situational determina-
Finally, I would like to stress two points pertaining to the present in-
vestigation. One is the difficulty involved in the interpretation of ritual
and myth in dead civilizations. We have no informants with whom to
check our conclusions. The other is the limits of our task: we do not as-
sume to be giving overall interpretations of the myths and rites in-
volved. Our investigation has one clear and limited focus: it concerns
the possible justification for speaking of dying and rising gods.
3. On the Comparative Study of Religion.-In a previous work I
have discussed the questions of ernie and etic approaches and of differ-
Thus A. and J. Ass mann (HRwG 4: 186) who list these under the explanatory function.
Fontenrose ( 1966) demonstrated that there is no necessary linkage between myth and rite. See
also Kirk (1973: 1-42).
For the following, see Berger and Luckmann ([ 1966] 1985: esp. pp. 110-146, the discussion of
symbolic universes).
Berger and Luckmann (1985: 115).
Berger and Luckmann (1985: 128).
Berger and Luckmann (1985: 128).
Berger and Luckmann (1985: 19).
; as
)( 0
II -
I -
tl 1
1 .J
r I

i0 .. of
ent types of comparison, both genetic and typological.
I refer to what
I said there about these matters. Let me just confess that I am convinced
of the necessity of using extrinsic, etic categories in a project such as the
present one. I would like to quote F.J.P. Poole on this point:
Any descriptive, interpretive, or explanatory endeavor involves relating phe-
nomena to one another within a framework of categories extrinsic to the phe-
nomena themselves. . .. To encapsulate an analysis within a single religious
system-and thus within the semantic networks of the religion's own terms,
categories and the analysis with the very discourse
it seeks to interpret and explain.
In addition to this, I would like to point to the risk of hypostasizing a
god, i.e. abstracting from the various manifestations of, for instance,
Dumuzi "the real Dumuzi", stable and unalterable through the changes
of time. This type of essentialist thinking is, of course, untenable. Du-
muzi can never be anything more or less than he is at the specific time
and place and in the specific local cult that is the object of our study at
a special point.
Mettinger (1995: 20-21,35-38, with literature). The list of literature on such issues is long. I
would like here to call attention to Poole (1986), J.Z. Smith (1990), Kippenberg (1992), and to
the Danish symposium published by Sand, Schjiidt, and Podemann ( 1999).
Poole (1986: 413).
Ugaritic Baal
We shall begin our own analysis with a discussion of the god Baal as we
know him from the U garitic texts.
Baal is a storm god, a weather god.
He thus belongs to that larger group of gods in Syria and Mesopotamia
that has been so admirably mapped out by Daniel Schwemer in a recent
monograph (2001).
As we have seen above, current research is marked
by a certain reluctance towards describing Baal as a dying and rising de-
ity. Two different lines of reasoning seem to lie behind this attitude in
current scholarship.
(1) Some scholars argue that Baal himself did not go down to Mot.
Mot was cheated into swallowing a substitute (de Moor and Gibson).
(2) Others are inclined to regard Baal as a disappearing deity, per-
haps of the nature of Telepinu (Barstad, J.Z. Smith, and M.S. Smith).
Such Anatolian storm gods disappear and return but do not die.
Before dealing with these two suggestions, it is appropriate to pay
heed to the genre of the relevant material. One specific feature of the
material is noteworthy. MarkS. Smith finds it "especially striking that
the rich indigenous corpus of U garitic ritual texts does not contain a
single indication of the death and rising of Baa1."
The Baal myth (KTU
1.1-6) is of a literary character and its genre may be denoted as myth.
The relation between the corpus of mythological texts and the corpus of
ritual texts has come into the fore in recent studies. These two groups of
material now stand out as two fairly well-defined entities, and the ritual
texts are the subject of comprehensive studies by J.M. de Tarragon,
The text I am using is KTU
(CAD. Note that I use the abbreviation KTU to refer to this second
edition, KTU
, as Dietrich and Loretz themselves are doing in their subsequent publications.
The translation cited is that found in UNP, unless otherwise stated. Other recent translations are
those by Pardee in COS I, Dietrich and Loretz in TUAT III: 1091 ff., and Wyatt in RTU. For
earlier translations, see especially de Moor in ARTU and Gibson in CML. De Moor (SPUMB)
remains an indispensable tool for its wealth of philological observations on the Baal myth.
Schwemer (2001: esp. pp. 443-588). On the divine name Baal, ibid. pp. 504-511, and on Baal
ofUgarit. ibid. pp. 511-547.
M.S. Smith ( 1998: 290).
See M.S. Smith (1994: 26-28).
G. del Olmo Lete, and especially by D. Pardee in his opus magnum.
convenient survey of genres and find-spots was recently submitted by
Niehr ( 1999). Niehr makes some impm1ant observations about the rela-
tions between the mythological and ritual texts. No texts at all were
found in the temples of the city. The actual find-spots are worth no-
ticing.6 Though both myths and rituals were found in the Maison du
Grand Pretre, MGP, there seems to be a local distinction: the myths de-
rive from MGP 7/8, while the rituals derive from both MGP 1 and the
Maison du Pretre Magicien (MPM 10). Thus, myths and rituals belong
to different libraries or sub-sections of libraries.
Nevertheless, there is a group of texts that combines ritual and
mythological features, the group that Pardee designated "textes para-
mythologiques"? These texts were all found in the Maison du Pretre
Magicien (MPM 10).
The question whether the mythological texts had a function in the
cult is a difficult one. It is worthwhile noticing that some mythological
or epic texts contain features that are most easily explicable as due to
the custom of reciting texts. There are thus explicit instructions for a re-
There are also cases of omissions, indicated by double horizontal
Niehr raises the question of the place and reason for such recital
and cautiously concludes that there was a habit of reciting mythological
material in the context of the schooling of priests as narrative instruction
or as "theologicallectures".
The question is whether this is sufficient
as an explanation. I must here refer to de Moor's interesting remark con-
sidering such cases of omissions: "These omissions of portions of
standard text would be hard to justify if the tablets had been meant to be
read out publicly. But they could be tolerated if they were executed only
to be learnt by heart by those who had to recite them."
It seems to me
that such orality is a feature that may well point to a liturgical dimension
De Tarragon (1980), G. del Olmo Lete (1999), and Pardee (2000).
See KTU, which gives the find-spot (stated as Fs) for each individual text, and see Niehr (1999:
125-126). For a succinct overall presentation of archives and libraries in Ugarit, see Pedersen
(1998: 68-80).
See the discussion ofNiehr (1999: 113-115). On this group see especially Pardee (1988) and
for his definition, Pardee (COS I: 302): "with mythological form or overtones but with a prac-
tical function". This group comprises KTU 1.100; 1.101; 1.107; 1.108; 1.113; 1.114; 1.117;
1.124; 1.133.
See KTU 1.4.V: 42 and 1.19.IV: 63. See Niehr (1999: 124).
See 1.3.III: 31-32; 1.4.V: 41-42; 1.4.VIII: 47-48; note de Moor (SPUMB: 4-5) and see also
Niehr(1999: 124).
Niehr ( 1999: 125).
De Moor (SPUMB: 5).
r .
of the material handed down. This, however, is a highly controversial
For this reason I have chosen to proceed in three subsequent steps,
and I shall keep myth and ritual apart as two different expressions of re-
ligious discourse. First, I shall deal with the Baal myth, moving exclus-
ively on the level of mythological motifs. The question will here be: Do
we find the motifs of Baal's death and return to life in this material,
moreover of Baal's own death and not that of a mere substitute? Sec-
ondly, I shall go outside the Baal myth and ask for possible allusions to
a ritual celebration of Baal's fates. Here I shall deal with KTU 1.12 and
a passage in Aqhat. Thirdly, I shall deal with the question of the Anato-
lian vanishing deity as a prototype of Baal.
1. The Baal-Mot Myth
The Outline of the Myth.-In spite of major lacunae and unreadable pas-
sages, the story of the Baal-Mot conflict (1.4.VII: 42- 1.6.VI) can be
presented in its main outlines as follows.
After the installation of the
window in Baal's palace, Baal sends messengers to Mot (1.4.VII: 42ff.). 1
They are to go down to the House of Freedom and be counted among
the dead (1.4.VIII: 7-9). Exactly what Baal's message to Mot is is not
clear. I believe that it is found in 1.4.VII: 49-52: "I alone am the one
who can be king over the gods, who can fatten gods and men, who can
satisfy the multitudes of the earth!"
This interpretation is attractive,
since Baal probably had something to say to Mot, but it is still open to
The messengers return to Baal with descriptions of Mot's ap-
petite and an invitation for Baal to descend to the Netherworld. Baal
now quickly responds to this and expresses his submission to Mot:
"Your servant I am, and yours forever" (1.5.II: 12). Mot renews his in-
vitation: "And you, take your clouds, your winds, your bolts,
On the order of the tablets, see M.S. Smith (1994: l-19; note the survey on pp. 2-3). I follow
Smith in accepting the Herdner order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Translation by de Moor (ARTU: 65), who realized that ai)dy. d ymlk. '1. ilm has this excluding
sense (ARTU: 65, and see 1997: 106-110) See also Dietrich and Loretz (TUATI11:6: 1170), and
Wyatt (RTU: 111 ), and see now especially Loretz's thorough discussion of this Ugaritic formu-
lation and Deut 6:4, Loretz ( 1995: esp. pp. 235-271 ).
Pardee (COS I: 263) takes this passage as citing Mot's words.
Pardee translates mdl, "watering devices", from the root dly, "draw water" (COS I: 267; see
alsop. 253 n. 95). But why is the yod not preserved in the masc. pl. cstr.? For the rendering as
"bolts", see de Moor (SPUMB: 109 with references).
rains ... " (l.S.V: 6-8). When Baal hears this he decides to procure pro-
geny. He mounts a heifer and begets offspring (l.S.V: 17ff).
After a gap of some forty lines, a lost passage that probably con-
tained information of essential interest to our enquiry, the text goes on
to describe how Baal's death is announced to Eland is mourned by him.
The rites of mourning are described in detail for both El and Anat
( l.S.VI-1.6.1: 8). Anat and Shapsh together search for Baal and find his
dead body. With the help of Shapsh, Anat carries the corpse to Mt Sa-
pan, where Baal is buried ( 1.6.1: 8-31 ). Anat reports to El and Athirat
that Baal is dead, and the couple start discussing the question of a re-
placement for Baal. Athtar is finally chosen but finds himself insuffi-
cient (1.6.1: 32-67). Anat proceeds to confront Mot directly. She seizes
him by the hem of his garment and beseeches him to release Baal to her.
Mot tells Anat how he swallowed Baal. Then follows the description of
Anat' s harsh treatment of Mot:
With a sword she splits him,
With a sieve she winnows him.
With a fire she bums him,
With millstones she grinds him,
In a field she sows him (1.6.Il: 30-35).
Following this comes the description ofEl's dream-vision, by which he
is able to determine that Baal has returned to life. The beginning of the
autumn rains was the decisive sign (l.n.TII). On behalf of El, Anat
points out to Shapsh that the furrows of the fields are still parched.
Shapsh promises to seek Baal (1.6.III: 22- IV: 24). Finally, col. V
presents Baal's return to his throne (11. 1-6).
The rest of cols. V and VI seem to deal with a new conflict between
Baal and Mot, taking place in the "seventh" year (V: 8-9).
A battle be-
tween Baal and Mot for supremacy is described (VI: 16-22). Upon the
intervention of Shapsh, Mot capitulates: "Let Baal be enthroned on [his]
On the word mf, see de Moor (1969: 106-107). De Moor understands it as a borrowing from
Akkadian milsu, "twin-brother" (see AHw: 631). De Moor later suggested to understand this
son as a substitute, by which Baal cheated Mot, see de Moor (SPUMB: 188; ARTU: 79).
Meindert Dijkstra (p.c. May 1997) suggests seing this word in the text as a cognate of Phoeni-
cian m'sjms, "statue" (DNWS/: 2: 589f.) and as referring to a replica or statue that Baal left on
earth to be used for his ritual buriaL-Note in this context KI'U 1.\0.III: 35-36 where Baal and
Anat meet and Baal seems to father a bull. On this, see Schwemer (2001: 539-540).
There is a protracted discussion on the nature of Anat's treatment of Mot, whether Mot is here
treated as grain or not. This question is answered in the negative, e.g. by P.L. Watson (1972).
Healey (1983), however, answers in the affirmative. For a number of observations that point to
a connection between Anal's treatment of Mot and the treatment of the grain at the harvest in
June, see de Moor (ARTU: 88-89, the notes). Note the discussion below on Osiris and grain
(Chap. VI.l.2).
royal [throne,] I On [the resting place], [the throne] of his dominion"
(VI: 33-35). A passage about Shapsh ruling the Rephaim follows (VI:
45-53), and then the colophon concludes the column.
1.1. Not a Substitute but Baal Himself
We noticed above that Baal engendered offspring with a heifer. Imme-
diately after this there is a long textual gap (about forty lines are miss-
ing). De Moor suggested filling this gap with the notion of a "twin-
brother" of Baal descending to the Netherworld. In this interpretation
Baal thus cheated his enemy Mot. Moreover, that gods do not die is the
contention of the author of the Kirta epic (1.16.1: 22; II: 43).
On further analysis, however, it seems that Baal himself actually did
die. As we know, Baal is responsible for rain and fertility, and thus for
vegetational life. Now the successful machinations of Mot in the con-
flict between him and Baal have serious effects precisely in the domain
of vegetational life, effects that seem to show that Baal himself, and no
substitute, has disappeared from the earth and descended into the realm
of Mot. Indeed, the perspectives of the functionalist paradigm for the
understanding of myth
seem justified in so far as the development of
the Baal-Mot conflict reflects and explains certain natural phenomena,
such as the seasonal changes of vegetation.
Baal is a god of storm and
rain. His close connection with precipitation is visible already in the
conflict between Baal and Yam. Immediately after El has given his go-
ahead for the house building project, Athirat concludes that this will
mean rain on the earth, as she says in 1.4.V: 6-9, from which I quote the
first lines:
wn ap. 'dn. mtrh b'l. y'dn.
'dn . 1kt . b glJ
On this conflict, see Gibson (1984: 217). Note KTU 1.12.II: 44-45.-Schwemer (2001: 538)
generalizes this formula in 1.6.V: 8-9to indicate that Baal's absence in the preceding Baal-Mot
myth has to do with "eine ausserordentliche Notzeit", not the annual cycle. Cf. Gordon ( 1949:
4-5). This is not convincing, since the Baal-Mot myth closely reflects the annual seasonal
For the understanding of myth that informs the present work, see above, Chap.
Gaster has argued for this line of interpretation in a number of works; see e.g. Gaster ( 1975:
124-129). His approach has been followed up by de Moor in a number of contributions
(SPUMB, ARTU, etc.).
: \ ..
. '
For now Baal can appoint the time of his rains,
the time of the chariot in the storm. ( 1.4.V: 6-7)
The overall structure of the Baal-Mot conflict is spanned by the arch
from l.S.V-where Mot summons Baal to take his clouds, wind, bolts,
rain and dew and go down to the Netherworld-to 1.6.III, where El's
dream of rain and its realization convince him that Baal is alive again.
A feature of the text that is also worth considering in this connection
is the formula about Shapsh scorching the earth:
nrt . ilm . sps . $biTt
la . smm . b yd. bn ilm . mt
The divine lamp, Shapsh, glows hot,
the heavens are powerless by the power of divine Mot.
(l.6.II: 24-25)
I shall call this the drought formula.
It relates the summer heat to the
power of Mot and occurs three times:
1.3.V: 17-18
l.4.VIII: 21-24
1.6.II: 24-25
anticipating the Baal-Mot conflict.
after the messengers have been instructed to descend.
when Mot tells Anat that he swallowed Baal.
That the summer heat is somehow related to the absence of Baal is also
clear from l.S.II: 3-6 and 1.6.IV: 1-3, 12-14.
The clear and reasonable conclusion from these observations is that
it is Baal himself who goes down to Mot. The assumption that it is only
a substitute simply does not make sense of the subsequent events.
My translation, based on the insights of Loretz (1996). See also Pardee (COS 1: 260 n. 158),
who stresses the close connection between El' s permission to allow Baal to have his own palace
and Baal's exercise of his function as weather god. Wyatt (RTU: 101) and Schwemer (2001:
541) accept Loretz's interpretation. A possible alternative to the translation above is that of
M.S. Smith (UNP: 129): "And now may Baal enrich with his rain, May he enrich with rich
water in a downpour." Smith thus takes the occurrences of 'do as from the root connected with
prosperity and abundance, on which see DNWSI (vol. 2: 830 top), and not from the root con-
nected with "time" (ibid. 830).
My translation. With Pardee (COS 1: 254 n. 107), I take the verb in the first stichos to refer to
the blasting effect of the sun and the verb in the second stichos to mean "to be weak" (for al-
ternative interpretations, see de Moor SPUME: 114-115 and note especially 1988b).
On the seasonal implications, see de Moor (SPUME: 115) and Yon ( 1989).
Waterston (1989: 431). Walls (1992: 122-130) arrives at the same conclusion, and this is a
common stance. De Moor (p.c. April 2001) still insists that there was a ruse, that Baal cheated
Mot. This motif was introduced in the Ilimilku version of the Baal myth (KTU 1.4-6). Origin-
ally Baal did die. See de Moor (1997: 362 with note 390).
1.2. Baal: Through Death to Life
We have thus found that Baal himself is supposed to die. We shall now
discuss some specific issues in connection with Baal's stay in the Neth-
It is clear that the place where Baal's corpse was found by Anat was
situated somewhere at the margins of the civilized world: the edge of
the earth,
the limits of the waters, the pleasant land of the outback, the
beautiful field ofDeath's realm (l.5.VI: 3-10).
It hardly seems com-
mendable, however, to understand this to mean that Baal never died,
and that he just disappeared the way Telepinu did. Though it would
seem from another passage that the description refers to the outskirts of
the earth,l7 and not to the Netherworld itself, the list is nothing other
than a series of euphemistic metaphors for the desert and steppe as re-
gions where civilization and the Netherworld meet. Baal is here found
in a liminal zone, one with close affinities to Mot's realm.
Moreover, it is clear from a number of other observations that Baal
is thought to have made a proper descent to the Netherworld. Note
Mot's invitation to Baal to take his clouds etc. and descend into the
Netherworld (1.5.V: 5-17). The final part of this passage (11. 11-17)
Head off for the mountains of my coveit [tk . f;r knkny];
Lift up [one] mountain on [your] hands,
[one] wooded hill on [your] palms.
Then go down into the place of seclusion [bt .!Jptt]
[within] the earth,
you must be counted among those who go down [b yrdm]
into the earth,
And the gods will know that you are dead [k mtt]
The mountains at the entrance to the Netherworld are a motif known
also from Mesopotamian literature (notably Gilgamesh, tablet IX: 37-
Mot's maw is described as overwhelmingly huge (l.5.II: 2-5). Mot
himself confesses to Anat of having swallowed Baal (l.6.II: 13-23), a
Line 4, reading with Smith (UNP: 149).
For a discussion of this description, see M.S. Smith (1985).
See 1.5. V: 17-19 where Baal mounts the heifer to procure offspring.
See Pope (1977: 424-426) and G.A. Anderson (1991: 64).
De Moor took knkn to referto libation pipes (SPUME: 170-171). Pitard (1994), in his perusal
of the archaeological material, has now shown that the arguments for libation tubes, feeding
windows etc. in connection with mortuary celebrations have no support from archaeology. For
Pardee's philological analysis behind the translation above, see Pardee (COS I: 267, n. 229):
from Arabic knn, "cover, cover up, hide".
passage that is followed by the drought formula. Thus, the lacuna be-
tween 1.5.V and VI most probably told about Baal's obeying the invita-
tion of Mot. The reference to Baal's descent to the Netherworld is a
metaphor for his death, as appears from the circumstance that the lex-
erne mt, "to die", is used frequently about Baal in 1.5.VI and 1.6.!.
glance at 1.161: 20-23 confirms this understanding of the Baal-Mot
The reaction among the gods also amounts to a clear indication that
Baal is really dead. A long section describes in detail how El and Anat
perform the mourning rites for Baal; the implication is that he is dead
Moreover, both Eland Anat say that Baal is dead (mt)
and that they will descend (ard/nrd) after him to the Netherworld.
Anat and Shapsh carry Baal's corpse to mount Sapan's summit and
there bury him and perform funeral sacrifices (1.6.1: 15-31). The text
immediately goes on to tell that now El realizes that Baal must have a
successor. Athtar is selected but finds that he is wanting in vital re-
spects.36 The epic sequence is thus mourning-burial-funerary sacri-
fices-successor. Baal is dead!
We should also consider the fact that the role of Shapsh in the Baal-
Mot conflict is to be seen in the light of her connection with the Neth-
erworld and the dead.
Her scorching heat is regarded as due to the
The end of this line is understood in the same manner by e.g. Smith (UNP: 148). This inter-
pretation fits neatly into the context. De Moor (1969: 107) saw a difficulty: perfect 2nd person
masc. sing. of the verb for "die" should be mt, not mtt. However, Dijkstra (1985: 107, 109 n.
13) pointed out that the form may be from the passive L-stem, also found in Hebrew in the at-
testation of the verb in Polal (HALAT 533). The last line in the quotation above (w td'. il m k
mtt) should then be translated more exactly "that you have been put to death", thus Dijkstra.
For de Moor after 1969, see de Moor (SPUMB: 183 and ARTU: 78).-I follow Tropper (2000:
642, 648) who takes the form as G imperfect.
Pardee's translation (COS I, 267).-De Moor (SPUMB: 183) and Gibson (CML 72) read the
last two lines as w td' . ill k mtt and understand them as "and do you know inanition like mortal
men" (Gibson) or "and experience weakness like the dead" (de Moor).
For the text, see Parpola (1997: 101). Translations: ANET (p. 88, Speiser) and Dalley (1991:
96). For this notion in Mari, see Moortgat-Correns (1986), who understands the large fosse or
trench in Mari as a symbol of the Netherworld (p. 187). Note, however, the remarks by Heimpel
(1986: 140-143) on the passage in Gilgamesh.-On the gates of the Underworld and related
matters, see Horowitz (1998: 353-362).
33 !.5.VI: 9, 23-25; 1.6.1: 6-8,41-43.
On El's and Anat's mourning rites, see Dietrich and Loretz (1986), Taylor (1988: 161-177).
Tropper and Verreet (1988: 343-344), and G.A. Anderson (1991: 60-69), and on mourning rites
in general, see Gruber (1980: 401-479), Podella (1989: 73-116), and Loretz (1990: 109-115).
!.5.VI: 23-25 (El) and 1.6.1: 6-8 (Anal) and note also Gen 37:35 (Jacob). On these, see Taylor
(1988: 161-174, esp. p. 174).
On Athtar in this context, see Waterston (1988). On Athtar, see most recently Day (2000: 166-
184. esp. pp. 171-179).
power of Mot, according to the drought formula (above). Every night
she travels through the Netherworld. Rashap is her gatekeeper at the en-
trance through which she passes at sunset (KTU 1. 78).
Shapsh is at
one and the same time the all-seeing one who scales her orbit every day
and the one who knows the Netherworld, since she passes it every night.
Moreover, Shapsh has the role of psychopompos, the conductor of souls
(KTU 1.161). Shapsh is thus the ideal companion of Anat when it comes
to finding and burying Baal (1.6.1: 8-31). Indirectly, her involvement in
the events confirms that Baal is in the power of the god of the Nether-
world, Mot. We should probably do well to translate some central lines
in the following way: " 'After Baal we [Anat and Shapshu] will descend
into the underworld.' To him descends the Divine Light Shapshu"
(1.6.1: 7-9).
The compositional arch that begins with Mot's invitation ends with
El' s dream about the coming of the autumnal rains. These rains are the
reliable sign that Baal is no longer dead but "lives" and "exists" (1.6.III:
2-3, 8-9, 20-21). Thus the basic contrast in the Baal-Mot conflict is that
between death and life. Baal's "life span" describes the sequence life-
The general thrust of the Baal-Mot myth must thus be taken to de- I
pict Baal not only as a dying god but also as one who returns from the
Netherworld, and indeed resumes his royal power (KTU 1.6.V). The
myth thus contains the mythemes both of his death and of his return or
resurrection. Saying this, we remain on the level of myth. Whether this
B.B. Schmidt (1994: 84-88) tried to dissolve this connection between Shapsh and Mot's realm.
He followed the lead of Heimpel (1986), who studied the Mesopotamian material for the sun
god at night. Shamash spends the night in heaven's interior, "the invisible part of heaven below
the earth" (p. 151 ). The doors of heaven serve as points of entry to and exit from the invisible
world below the horizons: "the heavenly gods passed through these doors from the visible to
the invisible part of the sky and vice versa without ever leaving heaven, their realm" (p. 140).
Schmidt generalizes this to be valid also for U garit. For support he could have referred to Hea-
ley's observations about the affinities of Shamash and Shapsh (1980). Without questioning the
pertinent observations of Heimpel and Healey, one asks, however, if Schmidt is justified in his
extended operations. (1) Note that Mesopotamia does not seem to sustain monolithic ideas on
the matters concerned, see Heimpel (1986: 146f.). (2) The weakness of Schmidt's interpreta-
tion appears from his understanding of the mtm in 1.6.VI: 48 as not "the dead ones" but "hu-
manity" or "warriors" (p. 86). Schmidt also has a difficulty in the text 1.78, which militates
against his interpretation (cf. Schmidt p. 88 n. 203). On Shapsh, see Caquot (1959), Healey
(1980), Lewis (1989: 35-46), Ford (1992: 92-96), and Wiggins (1996). For a guided tour in the
Netherworld, consult Horowitz (1998: 348-362).
To this text. see the literature in Janowski (1989: 108 n. 506) and note Wyatt (RTU: 366-367
with further references).
M.S. Smith (\ 998: 304 with note 187).
also has some ritual underpinnings is a more difficult matter, but one we
shall at least briefly touch upon below.
It has been suggested that there is a tension between the idea of
Anat's finding Baal's corpse somewhere in the margins of the inhabit-
able world (the steppe and the desert, see above), and the idea of Baal
having actually entered the Netherworld.
On the epic level of thenar-
rative one may find a tension. We should not forget, however, that the
descensus is a metaphor for death: humans both go to the Netherworld
and leave bodies behind. There is then hardly any intrinsic contradiction
between the notion of Baal as having descended to the Netherworld and
being present at the world's limits as a corpse. In Mesopotamian
thought the Netherworld was directly under the ground, but there are
also indications that it was believed to be located in the mountains to the
On the level of general phenomenology, we may refer to
Burkert's observation about Greek mythology that, "Contradictions are
freely tolerated; sometimes, as in the Odyssey, the kingdom of the dead
is located far away, at the edge of the world beyond Oceanos, and some-
times, as in the Iliad, it lies directly under the earth."
Some Notes on a Suggestion Based on KTU 1.161.-We saw above
that MarkS. Smith (1998) advanced the theory that the fate of Baal is
modelled on the perceived fate of the U garitic kings as we know it from
the royal funerary liturgy in KTU 1.161.
Smith, indeed, argues for a
profound impact of the royal funerary custom on the Baal-Mot narrat-
ive. This is a most fascinating suggestion. Since it should be clear by
now that Baal does indeed make a descent to the Netherworld andre-
turns from there, Smith's conclusions, interesting as they are, are not of
vital importance to the present study; they pertain rather to the assumed
background of the motifs of descent and return to life. Some comments,
however, may be made.
In KTU 1.161, the rpum and the recently departed kings-who are
not yet counted among the rpum-are brought back by means of an act
of invocation, as was pointed out by Levine and de Tarragon.
goes one step further and interprets the crucial passage, 1.161: 20-26, as
See M.S. Smith (1985: 312).
See Sladek (1974: 61-63) and Horowitz (1998: 348-362).
Burkert (1985: 196).
M.S. Smith (1998: 289-309). See above, Chap. I.l.6. There is a vast literature on KTU 1.161.
See Wyatt (RTU 430-441) and most recently Pardee (2000: pp. 816-825 with references). Of
the previous treatments. note esp. Levine and de Tarragon (1984 ), Taylor (1988), and Lewis
(1989: 5-46).
Levine and de Tarragon (1984: 657).
summoning the living king, Ammurapi, who has just ascended to the
throne, to descend to the Netherworld in order to carry out a search for
the king who just died, Niqmaddu. A crucial word is ks[ ] in line 20,
preceded by a lamed. The third sign has been damaged but could be re-
stored to either h or i. The sense might be either "from the throne" or a
vocative "oh, throne". Smith takes it in the first way. He translates: "Af-
ter your [l]ord(s) from the throne, After your lord(s) to the underworld
descend .. .'.4
One must ask, however: Where else do we hear of a living
king being summoned to descend to his dead predecessors in the Neth-
There are two other worthwhile interpretations of 1.161: 20-26:
(1) Pardee takes this passage to refer to the descensus of the newly
departed king, Niqmaddu III. Note that the Niqmaddu in lines 12 and 26
is an ancestor of Niqmaddu III.
(2) Taylor (1988) suggests an interpretation that to me seems the
most probable one: that the crucial word is a vocative (cf. line 13 with
the throne in the vocative, followed by anN imperative of the verb for
"to weep"), and that the passage in question is a summons to the royal
throne of the recently departed king to descend to the Netherworld in
order to provide him with the necessary fumiture.
Taylor translates: I
"After your [l]ord, 0 throne, After your lord to earth descend .. .''
The similarities between KTU 1.161 and the Baal-Mot text, pointed
out by Levine and de Tarragon (1984) and stressed even more by M.S.
Smith (1998) provide only limited support for Smith's overall thesis
that Baal's fate reflects the demise of U garitic kings. One must here call
attention to the following points:
(a) Nothing is said explicitly in the funerary ritual about a search for
the dead king. In the Baal-Mot narrative, however, this is a prominent
(b) Correspondences with the seasonal cycle are conspicuous in the
Baal-Mot myth. Baal's demise has serious effects in nature. Such fea-
tures are striking! y absent in 1.161. If the royal funerary liturgy had had
such a deep influence on the Baal-Mot material, whence this stress on
the life of the vegetation?
M.S. Smith (1998: 299).
Pardee (2000: 816-825).
Note especially the comparative material adduced by Taylor ( 1988: 168-170) and by Dietrich
and Loretz (1991a). See also Emar Vl.3.385-388.
Taylor (198R: 153).
(c) Baal's descent is a passing experience. He returns to full and act-
ive life. With the king it is different. When he dies he goes to the Neth-
erworld. As far as I can see, he then remains there.
(d) Smith is forced to have Baal correspond to both the dead king and
the living one: his demise reflects the demise of the U garitic kings, but
his return to life reflects the role of the living king to provide peace for
the world (pp. 307f.).
My conclusion is therefore that, although not completely impossible,
Smith's theory is afflicted by a number of disturbing difficulties.
Our discussion so far has dealt exclusively with mythological motifs in
the Baal cycle and may be summarized in three points.
(1) It was no substitute but Baal himself who got into the power of
the god of the Netherworld.
(2) The outline of the conflict between Baal and Mot comprises the
mythemes of descent and return. Baal goes through death to life.
(3) The events of the myth reflect the seasonal changes in the vegeta-
tionallife of Syria. On the functional level we have interpreted the myth
as a paradigm for the prevailing meteorological conditions. It is an eti-
ology for the summer drought (Baal's descensus) and the winter rains
(Baal's return to life).
2. Allusions to Ritual? KTU 1.12,Aqhat 1.17.VI, and Elkunirsha
It may well be that Baal's death and return in Ugarit belong exclusively
to the level of myth. The descensus motif seems to represent a fairly late
innovation in the religious life ofUgarit.
Perhaps this new theologou-
menon never made its way into the ritual life of the city. This would be
a reasonable way of accounting for its absence in the ritual texts that
have been preserved.
There is, however, certain evidence of a circumstantial nature that
Baal's fates were perhaps not only told in the myth but celebrated in the
cult ofUgarit. More than elsewhere we here deal with controversial ma-
terial. With due respect for the difficulties involved I would like to sub-
mit the following observations.
9 See below Chap. VII.3.1.
- -
- --=-:::::C-=
- -
2.1. KTU 1.12: Water Ritual and the Myth of Baal's Death
This text was found in the house of the high priest (La Maison du Grand
Pretre), where the Baal myth was also found. It has a certain affinity to
the paramythological texts, found in La Maison du Pretre Magicien. It
ends with a passage that obviously alludes to ritual procedures. Wyatt
translates it as follows:
Let the king pour out a jug
let him pour water drawn from the well,
let him pour from the well in El' s temple
and from the deep in the temple of the Craftsman.
(l.12.II: 58-61)
In spite of various problems in the ritual passage (II: 55b-61), it is clear
enough that the text refers to a rite of libation of water drawn from the
well in the El temple. The whole preceding part of the text has a narrat-
ive nature and relates a myth of Baal's death. El initiates a plan directed
against Baal (1: 1 - II: 55a). This plan is to be effected through "the
eaters" and "devourers", who are endorsed to their tasks by El' s pro-
nouncing their names (*p<r sm, 1.12.1: 25-29). The middle part of the
text suffers from damage, but it seems clear that Baal is lured into a
hunt. In the course of this enterprise he is killed by the beasts (II: 36-
55a). This is obviously quite a different version of Baal's death from the
one we have in the Baal cycle. An important point in common, however,
is that Baal's death is closely linked up with a drought (here said to be
lasting for seven or eight years, II: 36-45). Baal's 77 or 88 mourning
brothers find him, fallen like a bull (II: 46-55a). A report of the burial
of Baal seems to have been left out at the end of the mythological sec-
tion. 51
Dietrich and Loretz recently submitted this text to a study of mono-
graphic length. In all essentials I agree with their understanding of it.
They take their point of departure from the fact that the water ritual at
the end forms the climax of the text and proceed to ask for the role of
water in the mythological part of the text. It becomes clear that the aim
of the myth is to present Baal's death as the final reason for the begin-
ning of the drought. The mythological part and the ritual section belong
closely together and are to be understood within a seasonal frame-
work.53 The myth motivates and sanctions the magic-cultic act at the
so Wyatt"(RTU: 167-168).
On this problem, see Dietrich and Loretz (2000: 123-124).
Dietrich and Loretz (2000: l-141: see especially pp. 98-99, 122-125, 128-134; note also the
survey of previous research, pp. 8-24).
The seven or eight years in II: 44-45 are not seen as an obstacle to this interpretation.
I) I
end of the text: the libation rite. The water ritual leads Dietrich and Lo-
retz to the conclusion that KTU 1.12 has a close connection with the cel-
ebration of the New Year festival in autumn, at the beginning of the rain
period. 5
There are a number of similarities between this text and parts of the
Baal cycle (KTU l.l.V-IV).
These features and the close connection
between myth and ritual make Dietrich and Loretz ask whether KTU
1.12 does not represent an older stage of the Baal cult than the Baal
cycle, "which already has a much more pronounced literary charac-
ter".56 I shall return to the various versions of the Baal myth later onY
Most importantly, the text under discussion prevents us from absolut-
izing the version found in the Baal cycle.
Note especially that the Netherworld god, Mot, does not figure in the
KTU 1.12 version of the Baal myth. Here Baal is killed during a hunt by
two monsters denoted as "eaters" and "rippers/devourers" (I: 25ff.).
This, of course, strikingly reminds us of the Adonis myth, which we
shall discuss in a subsequent chapter.
We may thus conclude that the text discussed provides evidence for
the celebration in the cult of U garit of Baal's fates. The water rite was a
magical means for the society of U garit to anticipate and bring about the
return of the god who provided the rains. Interestingly, this text has a
version of Baal's death that is different from the cne V.'e hear of in the
Baal cycle.
2.2. KTU 1.17. VI: Baal Restored to Life
The general conclusion that Baal underwent a sequence from death to
renewed life is confirmed by a passage in Aqhat. When Anat asks for
the young hero's bow, she offers in return life that cannot be threatened
by death (1.17.VI: 26-33).
I am painfully aware of the hypothetical
nature of the following interpretation, but it is the one I have arrived at:
Dietrich and Loretz (2000: 124).
See M.S. Smith (1994: 123-125, 130). Smith has this order of the columns.
Dietrich and Loretz (2000: 124, 132-133): "ob KTU 1.12 nicht ein alteres Stadium des Baal-
Kultes widerspiegelt als der bereits stark literarisierte Baal-Zyklus" (p. 124).
See Chap. VII.3.1.
Dietrich and Loretz (2000: 124).
See Colpe (1969: 30-31 ), Redford (1990: 828), and M.S. Smith ( 1994: 70).
For translations showing different approaches to the problems of this passage, see Dijkstra and
de Moor (1975: 187-189), Gibson (CML: 109), de Moor (ARTU: 238-239), Smith (1994: 64-
65), Parker (UNP: 61), Pardee (COS I: 347), and Wyatt (RTU: 273-274).
- ~ ~ 1 : . t ~ ~
- ~ - - ----.- 'l"'* ,.;,.;
26 irs. l)ym . 1 aqht. gzr
27 irs. l)ym. w atnk. bl mt
28 w asll)k. assprk. 'm. b'l
29 snt . 'm . bn il . tspr. yr!Jm
30 k b'l. k y(lwy. y'sr. l)wy. y's
31 r. w ysqynh . ybd. w ysr. 'lh
32 n'm[n. w y] 'nynn. ap ank. al)wy
33 aqht [. g]zr.
26 Ask for life, o hero Aqhat,
27 Ask for life, and I shall give [it] to you,
Immortality-(28) I shall bestow [it] on you.
I shall let you count [your] years with
29 Count [your] months with the sons of El.
30 Like Baal, as he is revived,
-One makes a banquet for the one that is being revived,
31 One makes a banquet and gives him to drink,
One chants and sings over him,
32 [Over] N'm[n, and on]e celebrates him with songs
So I will make (33) Aqhat the [He]ro live.
The passage in question contains a number of interpretative problems,
but even so some main points seem to be possible to ascertain. I take my
point of departure in the following observation: Lines 26-29 wilh
Anat' s summons to Aqhat to ask for life and immortality hint at a basic
analogy between Aqhat and Baal: "I shall let you count [your] years
with Baal" (assprk. <m. b<J snt) (ll. 28-29).
Moreover, the analogy between Baal and Aqhat, seen in our passage,
also surfaces in the effects in nature of Aqhat' s subsequent death:
Aqhat's demise results in drought and wilting (1.19.I-II).
And just as
Baal is mourned by El and Anat, Aqhat is mourned by his father Daniel
and his sister Pughat.
This basic analogy between Aqhat and Baal should guide our inter-
pretation of the continuation of our passage, ll. 30-33. This contains
three attestations of the verb "to live" (byy!Qwy). Considering this verb
in Ugaritic, Marcus (1972) made the important observation that there is
For another possibility, see Dietrich and Loretz (1988: 109-116, 113), who refer toPs 72:5 and
translate "vor Baal ... vor dem Sohne Els".
Cf. Hebrew 'nh IV, "to sing" (HALAT: 808b).
My translation.
In a follow up on observations made by Gaster ( 1975: 316-376), de Moor ( 1988a) called atten-
tion to these "seasonal" features of the Aqhat epic. See also Pardee (COS I: 351 n. 94 ).
1i ;;::;
, I
, I
a sharp distinction between the G-stem, where the verb appears only
with the medial yod, and the D-stem, where the verb appears only with
the medial waw.
The three attestations with the medial waw in our
passage are then to be taken as D-forms. This is quite obvious for the
form in line 32 where Anat says: "So I will make Aqhat the Hero live."
There is no reason to depart from this understanding when it comes to
the two occurrences in line 30. All three occurrences are D-forms.
The form in line 32 is, as is obvious from the whole context, aD act-
ive imperfect. The question then becomes whether the two forms in line
30 are to be taken as active or passive D-forms. The context offers some
guidance. Aqhat and Baal are presented as analogous cases. In line 32
it is Aqhat who is to be revived and experience a constant renewal of
life. In line 30 it must then be Baal who is to undergo the same proced-
ure. This indicates that the form kb <J. kyl)wy must be aD passive form:
"Like Baal, as he is revived". The other occurrence in line 30 seems to
me to be most easily understood as again aD passive perfect, serving as
an asyndetic relative clause: "the one that is being revived". I thus un-
derstand these D-forms as factitives.
For the noun n <mn in line 32 various interpretations have been sug-
gested. De Moor calls attention to the "goodly one" that sings to Baal's
honour in 1.3.1: 18-21, and, in line with this, Pardee translates the line
"the goodly one chants and sings in his honor".
However, I am in-
clined to take this noun to have the same reference as the suffix in the
preposition <Jh that goes immediately before, that is to Baal, then de-
noted as n<mn.
It could of course be that ll. 30-33 allude to the events of the myth,
to Baal's return as a motif on the level of myth. There are two features,
however, that readily lend themselves to a ritual explanation. (a) The
passage refers to feasting and (b) the central verb is a D-form, used in a
In his critique of de Moor, Marcus (1972: 79 n. 1) overlooks that de Moor (SPUME: 217 top)
assumes aD-form in line 30. De Moor understands the verb in Dp to mean "to be revived, to
come to life again" (p. 217), which should be remembered when one sees how he translates the
verb on pp. 42 and 56: "comes to life again".
Otherwise it would have been tempting to translate line 30b: "They make a banquet for the
Living one", which would make me think of the Amama reference to "my living god", prob
ably referring to Adon(is) of Byblos (EA 129:51). See below, Chap. 1V.3.4.
De Moor (ARTU: 4, n. 17) and Pardee (COS I: 347 with note 42).
A possible connection between the use of this designation of Baal and the use of the same name
for Adonis was pointed out by Albright (1940: 297-298). According to De Dea Syria 8, the
Adonis river during one period of the year becomes blood red and thus gives a signal for lam-
entations to the inhabitants of Byblos. Note then that the Arabs call the anemone "wounds (?)
of Naaman". On these matters, see Frazer (GB, 3rd ed., vol. 4: I, 1914: 225-226). See below,
Chap. IV.3.1.1.

factitive sense. Ritual procedures, by their very nature, are no one-time
events but tend to be repeated at fixed intervals. The seasonal connec-
tions noted above, the Baal-Mot myth as reflecting the wilting and re-
vivification of the vegetation, indicate that Baal was thought to die and
return every year. Admittedly, the Aqhat passage is extremely difficult,
and at every step of our interpretation there have been other possible al-
ternatives. However, if my understanding is basically correct, then the
passage in question may well contain an allusion to some annual rite as
somehow connected with Baal's return, a rite with the efficacy of re-
storing Baal to life.
Though understanding the details in a slightly dif-
ferent manner, de Moor aptly notes this character of the Aqhat passage
and refers to it in support of his overall ritual understanding of the Baal
Dijkstra and de Moor once suggested taking l)wy in line 30 as "the
reviver", thus as a G participle, and compared this suggested function
with the mqm >Jm known from Mediterranean inscriptions.
This is an
interesting proposal. However, against the background of Marcus's ob-
servations above, this is going beyond the evidence, and de Moor later
changed his mind.
Nevertheless, I believe that Dijkstra and de Moor
had a sound intuition when they assumed that the procedure of Baal's
revivification was something that took place in a cultic context, in a
proper ritual act.
It should be remembered that the basis for the hypothesis that there
was some ritual procedure connected with Baal's death and return is
very tenuous: it is based on KTU 1.12 and the Aqhat passage. These two
texts, however, may on the other hand be sufficient to remind us that si-
lence is no proof for absence, that the lack of references in the corpus of
ritual texts is not in itself proof of the absence of the motifs of Baal's
death and return from the cultic life of U garit.
D.P. Wright, in his ritual interpretation of our text (2001: 108-122), does not deal with this as-
De Moor ( 1971: 55-62, esp. 56-57).-lt seems clear to me that the Baal myth is not per se a
ritual agenda. Nevertheless, there are features that would seem to point to a ritual situation, for
instance the winnowing of Mot (1.6.11: 30 ff., see above) and maybe the banquet in 1.3. Note
also the omissions mentioned above in the introduction to this chapter. There is an extensive
literature on the question of seasonal and ritual features in the Baal myth, see de Moor
(SPUME; note especially his concluding remarks pp. 248f.), Stolz (1982), and M.S. Smith's
surveys (1986: 314-318, 329-332; and 1994: 60-75).
DijkstraanddeMoor(l975: 187-189).
See de Moor (ARTU: 238): "(when) he has brought to life". Thus as aD active perfect.
2.3. The Hittite Myth of Elkunirsha
I must here also parenthetically refer to a passage in the Hittite myth of
Elkunirsha, which also seems to refer to Baal's return from the Nether-
and thus to confirm our overall interpretation of the Baal-Mot
conflict. The passage is somewhat damaged, but Hoffner restores and
translates it as follows:
Baars body [became pure .... ] Anat-Astarte [said] to l ... : 'The ... shave] re[cre-
ated] Baal. [They have brought him back up] from the Dark [Earth.'].1
We notice that all the interesting details regrettably occur in the restored
parts of the texts. Therefore, too much should not be made of this pas-
sage. For the sake of completeness it should be mentioned, however.
By way of summary we may now say that: (1) The mytheme of Baal's
death and return is clearly attested in the Baal myth. (2) This mytheme
draws on the seasonal changes of the year. (3) Formulations in KTU
1.12 and in the Aqhat epic seem to indicate that there was some ritual
act in the context of the autumn festival that was closely linked with the
mythological motifs of Baal's death and return. The Aqhat passage is
only a possible case of such an allusion to cultic procedures, while KTU
1.12 contains a fairly certain reference.
3. Baal and the Netherworld: A Line of Continuity between the
Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Cults?
It is worth remembering that the mythology of U garit is the only one
that is known to us from first-hand Northwest Semitic sources. But even
so, one feels justified in concluding that U garit was not completely isol-
ated but offers a representative specimen of the religious concepts and
rites of Late Bronze Age Syria. Material from Ebla, Mari and the OT
points in this direction.
Ancient Syria, however, does not only offer the picture of a high de-
gree of synchronic contiguity during the Bronze Age, the term "syn-
chronic" then taken in a very broad sense, but it also offers a striking
degree of diachronic continuity between the Late Bronze Age and the
Iron Age. A number of scholars have thus stressed that the Phoenician
Hoffner (1990: 69-70; the reference to a descent is found in 9 = 4 A III 12-15). The deities
mentioned in the text correspond to those found in the U garitic myths. On the Elkunirsha myth,
see Otten (1953) and Hoffner (1965).
Hoffner (1990: 70). On the ideographical writing of the names of the weather god and his
spouse in the Elkunirsha myth, see Otten (1953: 144).
' -
j ~ - - - - - ~ - ~ : i
- - . - ,,_,
cults should be seen in the light of what we know of earlier Syrian cults,
especially from the Ugaritic material. From the last few decades one
could mention Gese, Teixidor, Ribichini, Xella, Bonnet, del Olmo Lete,
and Niehr.
For our purposes it is especially important to note that three Phoeni-
cian gods who are, potentially, dying and rising deities are seen in this
perspective: Melqart, Adonis and Eshmun.7
Notably Ribichini, Xella,
and Bonnet stress one particular area as the potential background for no-
tions of death and resurrection in connection with these deities: the fu-
nerary and mortuary cults and concepts as we know them from Ugarit.
One may then note a difference of emphasis between these scholars. (a)
Xella stresses the role of Baal as the head of the rpum, Baal thus assum-
ing the role of healer/saviour, as the one who has survived the experi-
ence of the descent to the Netherworld. (b) Ribichini and Bonnet rather
stress the importance of deceased royal ancestors who become hero-
ized77/divinized (cf. KTU 1.113 and 1.161).
It could be mentioned
here that the Phoenicians call their deceased rp)m (KAI 13:8; 14:8; cf.
This may well be a promising avenue, leading in the right direction.
However, one notes that the road thus laid out is perhaps not quite as
smooth as it may seem at first sight.
That deceased royal ancestry iake a special position is clear from dif-
ferent pieces of evidence. KTU 1.161 shows that dead kings become nu-
minous and that they receive worship.
KTU 1.113, again, is most
easily understood on the assumption that they become divinized.
heroization/divinization of (royal) ancestors is thus attested. With
See Gese (1970: 182-215), Teixidor (1977), Ribichini (1981: 194-197; 1985: 41-73; 1995:
133), Xella (1983a: esp. pp. 284-287; 1988; DCPP: 482b-484; 1995a: esp. 249; 1995b), Bonnet
(1988: 417-433; 1996: 135-153), del Olmo Lete (1996), and Niehr ( 1998). My thanks to Johan-
nes de Moor for the reference to del Olmo Lete's book.
For Adonis, see Ribichini (1981: 192-197). For Melqart, see Bonnet ( 1988: 417-433). For Esh-
mun, see Xella (1993: 496-497). Del Olmo Lete (1996: 77-80) stresses a continuity from Baal
to Melqart, Baal Hamon, and Adonis.
In the "Greek sense" of this word. On the concept of the heros. see Chap. IV, beginning.
See the works of these scholars, mentioned in note 75 above.
For KTU 1.161, note the edition in Pardee (Les textes rituels, pp. 816-825) with a comprehens-
ive list of the scholarly literature on this text, to which one should now add M.S. Smith ( 1998:
296-309). For translations of this text, see also de Moor (ARTU: 165-168), Caquot (TO II: 103-
110), Pardee (COS 1: 357-358), and Wyatt (RTU: 430-441).
For this aspect, see especially del Olmo Lete (1986; 1987; 1999: 166-212), Pardee (1988: 165-
178 and 1996: 276), de Moor(1997: 328-335), and Wyatt (1999). Note, however, that del Olmo
Lete' s suggestion to tind the divine names of the U garitic kings in KTU l .I 02 is now a disputed
matter. See Pardee (1996: 282-283) and Schwemer (2001: 525).
Baal's surmised position as healer/saviour the situation is slightly dif-
Xella confronts us with an interesting possibility when he suggests
Precisely because he had experienced the perils of the descensus ad inferos,
Baal is designated as Baal-Ipu, Baal the Saviour, and is being ranked as eponym
("the first one") among the beneficent dead, honoured by the society and led by
the king.
Xella does not work out the case or adduce evidence. However, Xella is
here in line with de Moor, who has argued in a number of studies that
Baal is the foremost of the rpum and in this capacity the healer or sa-
viour par excellence.
While noting that, to the best of my knowledge, a juxtaposition b'l
rpu is not attested, I would suggest considering the following points
when discussing the role of Baal in the Netherworld:
( 1) In a formulation in the Rapiuma texts (KTU 1.22.1: 8) we find rpu
b '1, "the shades of Baal".
This might be taken as reflecting a connec-
tion between Baal and the rpum. From the parallels in the context it
seems that the reference is to those fallen in heroic battle.
(2) The designation b'l an}
has been taken by some scholars as
pointing to Baal's chthonic aspect, his position in the Netherworld as
the head of the ancestral spirits, as the head of the rpum.
It is difficult
to see, however, that the contexts where the title occurs really necessit-
ate this interpretation of ar$ as referring to the Netherworld. In particu-
lar, this interpretation does not do justice to the character of the
statement, "Dead is mightiest Baal, Perished the Prince, Lord of the
This is hardly a statement that the head of the rpum is dead,
but rather a formulation of the paradox that the lord of life on earth is no
My translation. "Baal wird, gerade wei! er die Gefahren des descensus ad /nferos erprobt hat,
Baal-Ipu, Baal der Heilbringer/Retter, genannt, und als Namensgeber ('der Erste') unter die
niitzlichen und von der Gemeinschaft verehrten Toten, an deren Spitze der Konig steht,
eingereiht," Xella (1983a: 285). This suggestion reappears in Xella's and Ribichini's opinions
on certain Phoenician gods, see above.
See de Moor (especially 1976 andARTUpassim, see the index p. 305 sub "Saviour", 1997: 75).
For a different opinion, see M.L. Brown (1998). Addition to the proofs: See now Merlo and
Xella in the symposium volume listed in the additions to the Bibliography.
Thus Lewis (UNP: 203). Spronk (1986: 171, 173) tal<es it as "Baal Rapiu", which I find hard
to accept.
Thus de Moor (p.c. April2001).
KTU 1.3.1: 3-4; 1.5.VI: 10; 1.6.1: 42-43; 1.6.Ill: [3], 9, 21; 1.6.1V: 5, 16.
Dietrich and Loretz (1980b: 391-393, esp. p. 392).
KTU 1.5.VI: 9-10; 1.6.1: 41-43.
longer alive and as such is closely linked up with the theme of Baal's
responsibility for vegetational life on earth.
(3) In a recent contribution Husser (1997) has suggested a fresh in-
terpretation of a crucial text that, if correct, would give us a new refer-
ence to Baal as the head among the shades. The passage is the alleged
Shapsh hymn in KTU 1.6.VI: 42-53. Husser suggests that the address is
not to Shapsh but to Baal. He argues that the phrase sps rpim . tl;ltk
means "Shapash place sous toi I fait descendre vers toi les Repha'im"
(p. 236), analyzing the verb as a form of nl;lt. This means that Shapsh
has the role of psychopompos, a conductor of souls.
Husser points out
specifically that Shapsh, making the defunct descend to the Nether-
world, places them under the patronage of Baal (p. 239). This is an in-
genious and attractive interpretation. Over against the traditional
understanding of the passage that makes Shapsh rule the rpum,
ser's analysis envisages Shapsh in the same role as in KTU 1.161. A
moot point, however, is that there is no clear statement that it is Baal
who is addressed in the passage in question.
Moreover, there is a de-
cisive fact telling against Husser's interpretation: It presupposes the
root nl;lt in the D-stem, but this would have been * tnl;ltk (no assimilation
of the n).
We must therefore revert to the traditional understanding of
the passage. I
(4") U 1 1u"R 92 w ''- '- tr> rnn rnTir Clm (11 1
, .u.. . u, lllJ rcpvalCiU J.'-'.1.'-'l.'-'u'-"'"' ...... .... ...,. .............................. v- ... ,
19-20, 21, 22), has been of particular importance as a basis for assump-
tions about Baal having a special role in the Netherworld: The deity re-
ferred to by this designation has been taken to be Baal,
but this
understanding has been criticized.
It seems fair to say that the evid-
On the role of Shapsh in the Netherworld, see Lewis (1989: 35-46).
Then deriving the crucial word from the verb btk, see e.g. de Moor (1971: 241) and Smith
(UNP: 164).
Note the remarks by Smith (UNP: 163).
As Johannes de Moor and MarkS. Smith both pointed out (p.c. April-May, 2001).
For treatments of KTU 1.108, see Dietrich and Loretz (1980a: 171-182), Spronk (1986: 177-
189), de Moor (ARTU: 187-190), Pardee (1988: 75-118), Caquot (TO II: 111-118), Dietrich and
Loretz (1989: 123-131), van derToorn (1991: 55-60), Dietrich and Loretz (199lb: 87-88), Ford
(1992: 76-80), Wyatt (RTU: 395-398), and del Olmo Lete (1999: 184-192).
See especially de Moor (1976: 325-330), Dietrich and Loretz (1980a: 175, 179, but note their
retraction of this position in 1991b: 87-88), Xella (1983a: 284-286), and Spronk (1986: 177-
189, 232).
See van der Toom (1991: 55-60). I do not find the counter-evidence adduced by van der Toorn
absolutely conclusive, but he has managed to show that the margins of uncertainty are wider
than is generally recognized. A main point is whether it is correct to see in Milku a chthonic
aspect of Baal, thus Spronk (1986: 188; 231-233). or whether such a conflation of deities is not
warranted by the texts, thus van der Toorn ( 1991: 59). On this issue, see also de Moor ( 1997:
75 with note 202).
ence adduced for Baal is of circumstantial nature. There is no explicit
identification of the deity referred to. A growing number of scholars
prefer understanding rpu mlk '1m as a designation of the (eponymous)
head of the numinous dead.
On the other hand, it would not seem quite
impossible that it is Baal who holds this role of the eponymous rpu.
Finally, the etymology of rpu.
Two different roots have been ad-
duced: (1) rpy, "to sink, relax", (2) rp >, "to heal, cure", rpum being
either a stative, meaning "heroes" (in the Greek sense of the word), or a
participle, meaning "healers". The matter is still unsettled. I must con-
fess that a derivation from the root for "healing" seems preferable to me.
Conclusion: In recent research about the Late Bronze Age back-
ground of the Phoenician polyadic deities (Melqart, Eshmun, Adonis),
some scholars have stressed the importance of Late Bronze Age funer-
ary and mortuary cults and the role of Baal as holding the status as the
eponym of the rpum in his capacity as one who has experienced the vi-
cissitudes of death. That Baal is the head of the rpum is an attractive and
promising possibility but hardly a proven fact. The basis for this as-
sumption remains feeble, and the passages referred to are capable of
various interpretations. The etymology of the crucial terms is still de-
4. The Anatolian Disappearing Deity: A Prototype of Baal?
Among scholars who have found it difficult to accept the conclusion
that Baal is a dying and rising deity, it has become increasingly popular
to refer to the type of disappearing deities as the category into which
Baal should properly be placed. J.Z. Smith argues in this direction.
Similarly M.S. Smith seems prepared to take the same course.9
cently Herr, assuming behind the present Baal-Mot myth a version
without Mot, suggested that this basic layer was close to the Hittite
See e.g. Caquot (TO II: 113 n. 346), Dietrich and Loretz (1991b: 88), Parker (UNP: 78 n. 4),
and Niehr (1998: 569-585, esp. 571). For this Ugaritic Netherworld deity, Niehr draws a his-
torical line to Phoenicia and Israel.
Thus Xella (1983a: 285; 1993: 496).
See, for instance, de Moor (1976), Lewis (DDD: 428-429), Rouillard (DDD: 1321-1322), van
der Toom (1991: 57), B.B. Schmidt (1994: 92), and Day (2000: 217-225), and note also Baud-
issin (1911: 316ff., 385ff.). On the relation between rpu mlk 'lm and rpum, see e.g. Parker
J.Z. Smith (1987: 521-523).
M.S. Smith (1994: 72-73 and 1998: 290-296).
myths of vanishing gods.
Herr, admittedly, does not say anything ex-
plicitly about a possible genetic relation between the Hittite and the Ug-
aritic myths.
There are reasons, then, to have a look at the disappearing deity in
Hittite religion in order to ascertain the implications of this type of deity
for our investigation.
Can Baal be understood in terms of such a van-
ishing god, or is this a different type of deity?
To begin with, we should note that there are god lists which place
Telepinu after the couple Ea-Damkina, known from Mesopotamia as
the parents of Dumuzi.
Telepinu is a god who disappears after the
harvest and returns in spring. He is a storm god, closely related to ve-
getation. Haas, in his handbook on Hittite religion, concludes: "Er ge-
hort somit zu den verschwindenden oder sterbenden und wieder aufer-
stehenden Kulturpflanzengottem des Typos Dumuzi, Attis, Tammuz
und Adonis."
We note that Haas makes no distinction between dis-
appearing deities on one hand and dying and rising gods on the other.
One could add that descent and disappearance are two analogous meta-
phors for death.
Our basic question, however, is about the similarities and differ-
ences between the Baal-Mot myth and the myth of Telepinu, since Tel-
epinu is highly representative of the category of disappearing deities
anrl may perhaps even be regarded as the prototype of this category.
Herr (1995: 51). M.S. Smith (1986: 327) noted a number of similarities between the Baal-Yam
and the Baal-Mot episodes. Later (1988: 292), Smith suggested that the present form of the
Baal-Mot conflict is due to a development in which the Baal-Mot narrative was modelled "at
least in part on the Baal-Yamm story" and speculated that Mot was modelled on the figure of
Yam. In line with this, Smith suggested (1994: 18-19) that there may originally have been a
version of Baal's demise without Mot.-! shall return to this issue below in Chap. Vll.3.
For translations of Hittite myths, see Hoffner (1990: note the source references on pp. 71-73)
and the items offered in Hallo, ed. (COS 1: 149 ff.) and TUAT(III: 802-865). 1 here use Hoffner
as main reference. For the simplified transliteration of names in Hoffner, note Hoffner (p. 5).
There is a new edition of Hoffner 1990 which appeared in 1998 (Daniel Schwemer, p.c.), which
I have not had access to. For a survey of the relevant material, with references to sources and
literature, see Beckman (RLA 8: 566-567). Note also von Schuler (WdM 1: 207-208). For-
studies of vanishing deities, especially Telepinu, see: Gannet ( 1988), Asan ( 1988). Haas (1994:
442-444, 696-747), and Popko (1995: 80, 87, 106-107, 120).-Among biblical scholars who
have called attention to this group of Hittite myths one may mention Podella, in his study of
fasting and mourning (1989: 50-60), Parker, in his study of I Kings 18 (1989), Hartenstein, in
his study oflsaiah 6 (1997: 150-158), and Carstens, in her Telepinu studies ( 1996a: 1996b) and
in her dissertation about sacrificial rites (1997).
I02 Haas ( 1994: 444-445).
Haas (1994: 444 ).
See von Schuler (WdM I: 207) and Haas ( 1994: 707). This was disputed by Popko ( 1995: 87).
I Ill
The structure of the Telepinu myth
may be described with Keller-
man106 as follows:
I. The angry Telepinu disappears, taking with him the fertility of the country.
2. The gods search for him, but in vain.
3. The bee, sent by a goddess, finds Telepinu and awakens him, arousing his
4. There follows an act of evocation, using a mugawar text;
a goddess of
magic pacifies Telepinu and purifies him.
5. Telepinu's benevolence towards humanity is restored by magical means.
6. Telepinu returns home, restores fertility to the country, and gives the whole
wealth of the earth to the Hittite king.
There are important similarities between Telepinu and Baal:
Baal and Telepinu are storm gods responsible for nature, and their ab-
sence causes drought and famine. In Telepinu's case the effects are as
follows: (a) drought and famine, (b) sterility of males (cattle and men),
and (c) incapacity of pregnant females to give birth. Kellerman con-
cludes: "Telepinu appears here as a most powerful fertility god, res-
ponsible for the fertility of the soil, the animal world and humans."
In Baal's case, however, there is no particular stress on the fertility
among cattle and humans. A point in common is that the Sun deity par-
ticipates in the search for the vanished one in both cases.
There are, however, two important differences between the Baal-
Mot myth and the Telepinu myth.
(1) The first concerns the reason for the god's absence. In the Baal
myth it is the invitation from Mot. In the Hittite myth it is the wrath of
Telepinu himself. The wrath of the god indeed plays a prominent role in
the relevant Anatolian materia1.
The topos of the god putting on his
right shoe on his left foot and the left shoe on his right,
serves as an
emphatic expression of the anger of the deity.
Indeed, Asan, in his
For translations of the three different versions, see Hoffner ( 1990: 14-20).
06 Kellerman (1986: 120).
On this, see Kellerman (1986: 121 with n. 21). This point has been developed by Carstens
(1996a: 68f. and 1996b: 290).
M.S. Smith (1998: 290-294) called attention to a series of similarities between the two.
Kellerman (1986: 123).-Ringgren (1979: 188-189) says that "das Ritual hat nichts mit dem
Wechsel der Jahreszeiten, sondem mit Naturkatastrophen, also einer gestiirten Ordnung, zu
tun". I cannot follow Ringgren here. As especially Masson has pointed out, the myth of Tel-
epinu is focussed on the "renouveau de l'annee agraire"; see Masson (1991: lll-170, esp. 123-
153, note pp. 143-144). See also Haas (1994: 442-445, 702).
See Hoffner (1990, text no. 2, version I I, 16-27; version 2 3, 15-20; version 3 3; text
no. 3 5; text no. 4 3; text no. 5 2 and text no. 13 1).
See Hoffner ( 1990: text no. 2 version I I and text no. 13 2).
Haas (1994: 708).
treatment of the Telepinu myth, suggests that the material usually dis-
cussed under the heading "myths of the god" should rather
be termed "Mythos vom erziimten Gott".
(2) The second difference is the place where the god sojourns during
his absence. The Hittite myth contains no reference to the motif of the
descent of the deity to the Netherworld.
Our second point requires a qualification. In a text that Hoffner
translates under the heading "Sacrifice and prayer to the storm god of
Nerik", there seems to be a reference to a descent to the Netherworld by
a storm god of the same type as Telepinu.
Now, the vanishing god
myths are closely connected with rituals designed to bring back the god:
the ritual of entreaty and the ritual of evocation.
As Popko notes, the
text about the storm god of Nerik contains no spells of sympathetic
magic, which are characteristic of rituals of entreaty, and "in its struc-
ture, the evocation only loosely recalls myths of the disappearing
To the best of my knowledge, this reference to a descent stands
somewhat isolated in the material about Hittite storm gods. We should
probably do well in taking this feature of the storm god of Nerik as a
result of borrowing, either from Mesopotamian sources-the mention
of Ereshkigal ( 7) could point in this direction--or from Canaanite 1
sources: the Elkunirsh<! myth shows that Baal's descent to the Nether-
world was known among the Hittites (see above).
The idea of a des-
census of the weather god is certainly no structural characteristic of the
vanishing god myths.
After this presentation of the disappearing deity type of Hittite reli-
gion we are in a position to draw some important conclusions.
Asan (1988: 6).
Telepinu disappears to the outskirts of the inhabited world, to the moor or to the meadow in a
forest. See Hoffner (1990: text no. 2, version I 3; version 3 2). On this feature. see Gonnet
(1988: 390).
Hoffner (1990: 22-23; note especially 3, 4 and 7). See also Haas (1970: 140-174. esp. 144-
see Popko (1995: 106-107).
Popko(l995: 120).
Another intersting case of reception of Canaanite material is found in the myth of Pishaisha.
Here the Canaanite myth of the battle between the storm god and the sea seems to lie behind a
reference to such a battle in the myth ofPishaisha. See von Schuler (WdM 1: 213).
In a Hurrian-Hittite bilingual (translations in TUAT III: 860-861 [Una!]; and Neu 1996: 220-
225), there is a reference to a visit by a weather god to the Dark earth. This was taken by Haas
and Wegner (1991: 386) as referring to the imprisonment of the storm god, an interpretation
that was refuted by Neu ( 1996: 232f. n. 12). References courtesy M. Dijkstra.-For a Mesopo-
tamian text with the imprisonment of the storm god, lshkur, in the Netherworld, note the pre-
Sargonic fragment Ni. 12501, for which see Schwemer (200 I: 179-180).
(1) Without proposing a genetic relation, He1T suggested that there
is a proximity of an earlier version of the Baal-Mot conflict-a version
without the figure of Mot but with a descent to the Netherworld-to the
Hittite myth of the disappearing deity. In light of the differences be-
tween the two myths, this suggestion is hard to accept. Against the gen-
eral similarity of a fertility god who disappears in both myths, we must
call attention to the differences: the reason for his disappearance and the
place of sojourn. There are then no conclusive indications that Baal was
ever a god who vanished like Telepinu, or that the vanishing god myth
lies behind the Ugaritic myth of Baal's disappearance. The distinctive
feature ofthe Baal-Mot conflict is Baal's descensus to the Netherworld,
and precisely this feature is lacking in the Hittite myth.
We happen
to have another Ugaritic myth of Baal's doom, one that is probably
older than the Baal-Mot myth. But even here Baal dies, killed by wild
animals; he does not just disappear (KTU 1.12). Our negative conclu-
sion is well in line with Neu's general observation about the paucity of
traces of Hittite cultural influence in U garit--quite in spite of the fact
that there was a political treaty between the two.
(2) There are good reasons to regard as separate types the disappear-
ing deity of Hittite religion and the dying and rising god that we have
found in U garit. Some scholars have tended to blur this distinction,
but this fails to convince. To escape classifying Baal as a dying and
rising deity by arguing that he belongs to the group of disappearing de-
ities is hardly a viable option.
5. Conclusions
We have studied Ugaritic Baal, a main character with clear divine sta-
tus. Recent research has proposed two different alternatives to seeing
Baal as a dying and rising god. (a) It was suggested that there was a ruse,
so that Baal cheated Mot and never actually went down to the Nether-
world. (b) It was suggested that Baal is rather a god of the vanishing
gods type, like Telepinu. We arrived at the following conclusions.
It is interesting to see that Masson, who stressing more strongly than most the seasonal, agrar-
ian features of the Telepinu myth (1991: 123-153), compares Telepinu and Adonis but con-
cludes: "au-deJa d'une meme idee generale, on ne voit aucune filiation ou analogie evidente
entre ce groupe mythique et le cycle hittite du dieu perdu et retrouve" (p. 153). Note also
Carstens (1996: 76-77).
Neu (1995).
Barstad (1984: 148-150), J.Z. Smith (ER 4: 521-522), and M.S. Smith (1998: 290-295).
- ,.,. ,.
--- _ T i ~ 1 ~ ~ 1
~ -
(1) Neither of these alternative approaches can be sustained. It has
become clear that the Baal-Mot myth presupposes that Baal himself
and no substitute makes the descensus. The attempt to understand Baal
in the light of the vanishing gods who do not die is no viable alternative.
There are important differences between the two types of deities con-
cerning the reason for the absence (Mot's invitation/the wrath of Tel-
epinu himself) and the place of sojourn (the Netherworld/the outskirts
of the inhabited world). Telepinu never dies, while Baal is exposed to
death, whether this is described as a descent to the Netherworld (KTU
1.4-6) or as being killed by the beasts during a hunt (KTU 1.12).
(2) In spite of disturbing gaps in the material studied, it has been
found that the Baal-Mot myth comprises the mytheme of death and re-
turn. The return is a return to full and active life.
(3) Baal's fates draw on the seasonal changes. His absence causes
the summer drought. The onset of the autumn rains is the proof of his
return. The Baal-Mot myth is a paradigm and etiology for the seasonal
changes. The seasonal aspect of Baal's fates is found both in the Baal
cycle and in KTU 1.12. In this last-mentioned text, the mythological
section serves to provide legitimization for the water libation mentioned
at the end of the text.
(4) While Baal's death and return are focal motifs in the Baal myth, 1
the situation on the cultic level of ritual is more difficult to ascertain. It
is a striking fact that the corpus of ritual texts contains virtually no ref-
erence to Baal's death and return. There are, however, two texts that
may provide an indication of a ritual celebration of Baal's fates. KTU
1.12 contains a clear reference to ritual procedures (libation of water),
motivated by Baal's death during a hunt. A passage in the Aqhat epic
about Baal's revivification as a paradigm for Anat's reviving of Aqhat
is possibly an allusion to ritual (KTU 1.17.VI: 26-33).
(5) A recently suggested theory that the motif of Baal's death andre-
turn was modelled on the fate of the U garitic kings as reflected in the
royal funerary liturgy (KTU 1.161) was found difficult to sustain.
(6) That Baal is (a) the eponym of the rpum and (b) in this capacity
the healer or saviour par excellence is an attractive possibility but still
stands out as an unproven hypothesis. The texts on which it is based are
capable of divergent interpretations.
In Chapter I we surveyed the history of research on dying and rising de-
ities and found that the history of this concept in modem research is one
of initial success and subsequent demise. One god, however, received
comparatively little attention in the studies of the century surveyed,
namely, Melqart. Recently, H.-P. Mi.iller and, to some extent, also Mark
S. Smith have made an attempt to drive the last nail into the coffin that
harbours the remains of the dying and rising deity by studies that either
voice considerable scepticism vis-a-vis attempts to understand Melqart
as a dying and rising deity-thus Smith--or even submit an alternative
interpretation of the crucial evidence-thus Mi.iller.
In previous
studies, scholars such as Frazer,
and Lipinski
have argued the alternative position: that Melqart actually is to be un-
derstood as a dying and rising deity. The opinion of major scholars is I
thus divided on the issue.
In Chapter II, we studied Baal of U garit and found that this deity
stands up to the fundamental criterion for a deity of the type under dis-
cussion: that he dies and then returns to full and active life. Now, it may
be that Melqart of Tyre is one of the heirs of Baal,
on a par with Adonis
of Byblos. This possibility inspires me to grant the evidence a second
hearing in order to find out in which direction the balance of probability
weighs down. Our question is thus: Are there indications that Melqart
was a god believed to die and return to life?
What Smith and Mi.iller say about Melqart is briefly the following.
Smith is "inclined to accept the possibility of a Phoenician tradition of
See H.-P Miiller (1996) and M.S. Smith (1998: 277-282). See also Smith (1996) in his reaction
to Bonnet's response (1995a) to his (in my opinion unduly negative) review (Smith 1990) of
Bonnet's study of Melqart ( 1988).
Frazer, GB
(IV: I: 110-116).
Clennont-Ganneau (1924: 149-167).
Lipinski (1970; 1995: 226-243, esp. 238-243). See also de Vaux ([1941=] 1967: 493-496),
Bonnet ( 1983: 199; 1988: 33-40, 104-112, 145-148, 174-179 and passim), Greenfield ( 1987:
397-399), Ribichini (DDD 1053-1058, esp. 1054-1056), and del Olmo Lete (1996: 79-80)
On Melqart's relations to Baal, see Ribichini (1985: 41-73) and Bonnet (1988: 417-433. esp
the god's death since it is rendered in terms that may recall the Phoeni-
cian practice of cremation."
However, the idea of the death of the god
need not necessarily imply the corollary of his resurrection, Smith
notes, and in any case, if there was an awakening of the god, we have
no knowledge about the context for this, and, finally, our informants of-
ten have their knowledge second-hand. Smith thus finds the evidence
inconclusive: we do not have the means to prove the case or to dismiss
it entirely.
He grants the evidence the benefit of maximal doubt.
Muller's contribution, again, is mainly a discussion of the semantic
contents of the designation mqm >Jm, "raiser of the deity". In this title,
Muller finds a reference, not to the resurrection of a dead god, but to
waking a deity up to take action and save his worshippers.
Smith and Muller make some pertinent observations. One could add
that it is remarkable that Herodotus, in his description of his visit to
Tyre (II, 44), says nothing about a celebration of a resurrection of
Melqart. Let us tum to our own perusal of the pertinent data.
In our study of Melqart
we should first note that there was a close
affinity between Melqart and Heracles.
Greek writers speak about Tyr-
ian Heracles when they refer to the Phoenician god. It has been pointed
out, however, that the classical sources never mix up the Greek Heracles
and the Tyrian one, that is, Melqart.
To the modem scholar, however,
it may sometimes be difficult to keep them apart. Textual references to
Semitic Melqart may be unambiguous. When the name Heracles/Her-
cules is used, however, the reference is not necessarily to the Greco-Ro-
man deity: Semitic Melqart may be looming behind this designation.
What is the pedigree of Melqart? Various suggestions have been
(1) A counterpart of Nergal?-Seyrig (1945) noted that there was a
Nergal-Heracles syncretism and then proceeded to argue that both
Melqart and Nergal were dying and rising gods (pp. 72-73). It has in-
Smith (1998: 282).
Smith (1998: 277-282).
On Melqart and Heracles, see Mettinger (1995: 86-100, with references inn. 34) and add on
Melqart: Ribichini (1985: 41-73, esp. 44-50; DDD 1053-1058), and on Heracles: Burkert
( 1979: 78-98) and Aune (DDD 765-771 ), both with further references. Note also the various
studies on Heracles in Laurens, ed. (1989). In this volume, Verbanck-Pierard (1989) discusses
the double nature of Heracles as god and as heros (demigod) and argues that there are no traces
in the cult and rite of Heracles indicating that he was celebrated as a heros.
On this question, see Mettinger (1995: 87 n. 34 with references).
See e.g. Lucian, De Dea Syria 3, who distinguishes between "the Heracles whom the Greeks
celebrate" and the "Tyrian heros", and Philostratus, Vita Apollon. Tyan. V, 5, who speaks of
altars at Gades, two to the Egyptian, i.e. Tyrian Hercules, and one to the Theban (Greek) Her-
cules. See also Bonnet (1992: 177).
~ s
~ n
deed been proposed that the name of Melqart was simply a Phoenician
translation of the name Nergal (usually understood as "Lord of the great
city" or "Lord of the Netherworld").
To this the following may be said: (a) The Nergal-Heracles assimila-
tion attested at Palmyra, Hatra, and Tarsus, may be as early as the fifth
century B.C.E., but here Melqart is not involved as an intermediary.
The Nergal-Heracles connection thus seems void of evidential value for
assessing the case of Melqart. (b) The close connection between
Melqart and Tyre points to the explanation of the name of the god as
meaning "Lord of the city [of Tyre]", the reference being to Tyre and
not to the Netherworld.
In addition, the conventional understanding of
the name Nergal is not unproblematic.
(2) A Reshep figure?-The presence of certain fire rites in the
Melqart cult (below) has led some scholars to understand Melqart as a
Reshep figure.
The name Reshep means "fire" or "plague". This sug-
gestion goes in the same general direction as the Nergal interpretation.
The express identification of Reshep and Nergal is attested in a list of
The Reshep interpretation does justice to an important as-
pect of Melqart, namely, the fire rites. Among the Greeks, however,
Reshep was identified with Apollo.
(3) A Baal figure?-Philobyblius says that Demarous was the father
of Melqart: "Demarous had a son Melkarthos, who is also known as
In Ugarit, we find Dmm, "the Warrior", as a name of
This is the only express formulation that gives a clue to the
genealogy of Melqart, and it suggests a lineage from Baal. A difficulty
with this interpretation is raised by the vassal treaty between Esarhad-
don and Baal of Tyre. Here the storm o s are enumerated in one entry
and Melqart and Eshmun in another.
It is difficult to come to a safe conclusion about Melqart's back-
ground. It may well be that Melqart combines threads of various colours
and is a composite figure.
Dalley (1991: 164 ). On Nergal, see von Weiher (1971), Lambert (1973) and Wiggermann
See Bonnet (1988: 148-155) and Lipinski (1995: 242-243).
Thus Lipinski (1995: 228-229). See also Bordreuil (1990: 18-20).
See von Weiher (1971: 3-5).
See Gese (1970: 194-195).
See Pope and Rollig (1983: 305).
Philobyblius, Eusebius, Praep. Ev. I, 10, 27 (Attridge and Oden 1981: 52-53).
KTU 1.4.VII: 39. See M.S. Smith (UNP: 172, n. 141). Heick (197lb: 180) doubts such a con-
nection between Baal and Melqart.
See SAA 2, 5, IV: 14 ff. (the storm gods are found in II. !Off.). Text in Parpola and Watanabe
(1988: p. 27). J. Day pointed out this difficulty, see Day (2000: 74-75).

' It I I ; !
1. References to the Death of the Deity
According to ancient tradition, the bones (ossa) of Hercules were kept
at Gades.
This implicit reference to the death of the god tallies with
some other pieces of evidence. Tradition is divided on the manner of the
god's death. One tradition speaks about his being killed by Typhon. Ac-
cording to Eudoxus of Cnidus (fourth century B.C.E), in a notice pre-
served in Athenaeus (ca. 200 C.E.),
the Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Heracles, because Heracles, the son of
ria and Zeus, went into Libya and was killed by Typhon; but Iolaus brought a
quail to him, and having put it close to him, he smelt it and came to life again.
Here, Heracles is killed by Typhon, a somewhat difficult quantity to the
scholar, with potential connections both to Canaanite tradition pre-
served at Ugarit and to Egyptian notions of Seth killing Osiris.
phon is said to have been struck by lightning,
which we remember as
the major weapon of U garitic Baal. We should note that the passage re-
fers to a cultic celebration among the Phoenicians, a rite motivated or,
better, interpreted by a reference to a mytheme about the death andre-
turn of the god. Zenobius, who cites the information from Eudoxus
about the awakening of Heracles by means of burnt quail, expressly
says that it is the Tyrian Heracles who is thus resuscitated.
We should
therefore probably take the passage as referring to Tyrian Melaart.
A different tradition speaks about a death in fire on a pyre.
Diodorus Siculus (first century B.C.E.) reports that Heracles was given
a shirt anointed with a love-charm by his jealous wife. Afflicted by pain,
Heracles sought the advice of Delphic Apollo, who instructed Heracles'
messenger to build a pyre on Mt Oeta. When the pyre was lighted, Her-
acles ascended to heaven in the flames. "After this, when the compan-
ions of Iolaus came to gather up the bones [br:'t -rljv omoA.oyta.v] of
Heracles and found not a single bone anywhere, they assumed that ... he
had passed from among men into the company of the gods."
phocles (ca. 496-406 B.C.E.) offers another testimony to the tradition
Pomponius Mela III, 46. Cf. Justin XLIV, 5, 2, who speaks of the sacra of the deity; for this
reference, see Bonnet (1988: 211 ).
Athenaeus, Deipnosoph. IX, 392, Also available in Die Fragmente des Eudoxos von
Knidos (Lasserre 1966, p. 99, fragm. no. 284a).
On Typhon, see H. von Geisau (Der Kleine Pauly 5: 1022f.) and Bonnet (1987a).
Strabo, Geogr. XVI, 2, 7.
Zenobius, Cent. V, 56, see Gaisford, ed. (Parcemiographi grceci vol. I, 1886: p. 361).
See Edsman (1949: and Lipinski (1970: and 1995: with references in
n. 116).
Diodorus Siculus IV, 38.
- - - -- -
- .
about the death in fire on Mt Oeta.
Tertullian, born in Carthage in the
second century C.E., r ~ o r t s having seen on a scene a man burned alive,
rigged out as Heracles.
Whether or not this was autochthonous Greek tradition,2
there are
indications that this idea of the god's death on a pyre was also important
on the Phoenician mainland. We should note that the Phoenician prac-
tice of cremation adds probability to this conclusion.
Silius Italicus
(ca. 26-101 C. E.), in his Punic a (III, 32-44) writes that Heracles' death
in flames was depicted on the doors of the temple at Gades.
We know
that Tyrian Melqart played a major role at Gades.
And indeed, when
the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitiones speak about the tomb of Melqart,
this is placed in Tyre where the god was cremated: Herculis apud
Tyrum, ubi igni crematus est. The Greek original, happily preserved,
has JWpLaA.w'tos ("caught by fire"
Nonnos (fourth century C.E.),
in tum, has Bacchos-Dionysos on his visit to Tyre recite a remarkable
hymn to Heracles.
This hymn speaks of Heracles as "starclad" ('A-
mpoxi'twv) and as "lord of fire" ( aval; nup6s ).
That the reference is
to Tyrian Melqart is clear from the context.
Whether or not the desig-
nation b (1 kr on the vase from Sidon refers to a "lord of the furnace" is
It is clear, in any case, that the depictions on the vase repres-
ent a god dying a death by fire (see below). Ezek 28: 18 ( cf. vv. 14 and I
16) seems to provide an eariy, ihough indirect, witness to this traditiorr,
if we are right in assuming that the king of Tyre was believed to be of
divine nature.
Conclusion: Whatever the details, it is clear that not only Heracles
but already Tyrian Melqart were depicted as dying gods. The question
Sophocles, Trachin. 119lff. Further references are listed in Frazer's Loeb translation of Apol-
lodorus (vol 1: p. 270-271, the notes).
Tertullian, Apol. XV, 5; Ad Nat. I, 10, 47.
See M.P. Nilsson ( 1922) who stresses the Greek origin of the Heracles myth (p. 316). Teixidor
(1983: 247) points out that Heracles' death in fire is not referred to by Homer or Hesiod and is
therefore probably a later tradition. Iconographic representation of this motif is not attested un-
til470/460 B.C.E., see Laurens (1989: 81). See also Edsman (1949: 233-249; esp. pp. 238, 247-
See M.S. Smith ( 1998: 282).
On this, see Tsirkin (1981) and Bonnet (1988: 216-219).
See Mettinger (1995: 86-90 with references).
LSI (p. 1556b).
Pseudo-Clem., Recogn. X, 24 (B. Rehm, ed., vol. 2, 1965: p. 343).
Nonnos, Dionys. XL, 369-410.
Nonnos, Dionys. XL. 368-369.
Nonnos, Dionys. XL, 327-365.
Lipinski ( 1970: 43) suggested this interpretation and was followed by DNWSI (I: 534 ), but he
later retracted this suggestion ( 1995: 239- 240). See below.
'!' I'
I :
I ,
is now whether we are also to assume notions of resurrection in connec-
tion with Heracles and Melqart. We have already found indications to
this effect in Eudoxus of Cnidus, but is there perhaps further evidence
to be dealt with?
2. The Problem of the A wakening of the God
There are two different sets of evidence to be assessed in a discussion
of the possible awakening/resurrection of Melqart. (a) There are some
references to an EYEPOLs of the god. Since sleep may be a metaphor for
death, it is natural that a term meaning "awakening" could refer to re-
surrection. The term, however, has also been understood in other ways.
(b) There are a number of references to a m( y )qm > lm ("raiser of the
deity"), which, in its tum, has been understood as referring to a cultic
function: a participant who carried out a rite serving to resuscitate the
god (a causative participle of qwm). This designation, however, has also
been discussed in different terms. The problems involved have been dis-
cussed in important contributions by Clermont-Ganneau, Lipinski, and
These scholars arrive at the conclusion that the two terms are
actually to be understood against the background of notions of
Melqart' s resurrection. Other researchers have been thinking along sim-
. ''1' --- 40 TT ... .. 1-.a"" r<>rPntly takPn
lJai 1 rl.UWVVCl, l V J.l.lU.JV.t_ .a.>J u , ..., .... ...., ...... _. .. ..._,....._ - __ ....., __ ....., -""'-'.r --
to this interpretation, namely, H.-P. Muller and MarkS. Smith.
It is
now our task to ascertain where the balance of probability lies.
2.1. The Term eyepau:;in Josephus
Josephus in his Antiquitates (VIII, 5, 3 [144-146]) cites information
from Menander of Ephesus "who translated the Tyrian records from the
Phoenician language into Greek speech,"
information to the effect
that King Hiram of Tyre pulled down the old temples and built new
ones, or rather a new one,
to Heracles and Astarte. Then the text con-
See Clermont-Ganneau (1924: 149-167), Lipinski (1970; 1995: 226-243, esp. 238-243), and
Bonnet (1983: 199; 1988: 33-40, 104-112, 145-148, 174-179 and passim). The original break-
through was made by Clermont-Ganneau. Lipinski's 1970 study of this matter is of special im-
portance for its richness in source materials.
See Baudissin (1911: 135), de Vaux ([1941=]1967: 493-496), Teixidor (1977: 35), Greenfield
(1987: 397-399), and Ribichini (DDD 1055-1056).
See H.-P. Miiller (1996; 1997b: 7-8) and M.S. Smith (1994: 69-75; 1998: 277-282).
On the Tyrian annals, see van Seters ( 1983: 195-199, 296-299).
Depending on a text-critical choice, on which see Bonnet (1988: 34-36).
tinues: :rcp6Yt6c;; 'tE mu 'HpaKAEouc;; yEpmv f::rcou1omo f:v ,;q> IlEpL'tLC!J
f..l.llVL. R. Marcus in his Loeb edition translates the formulation "and he
was the first to celebrate the awakening of Heracles in the month of Per-
Now, Josephus gives similar information in another passage (Contra
Apionem I, 116-119). The textual situation in Josephus is a vexed prob-
lem.45 For Contra Apionem we "are dependent on a solitary imperfect
MS viz. L Codex Laurentian us",
and the book has been judged a hope-
less case, due to the defects ofL.
What L has is a formulation that does
not speak about the awakening of Heracles but about building activities:
Ka'L ,;o f..I.EV ,;ou 'HpaKA.f:ouc;; :rcpohov f::rcmi]oa,;o v ,;q> IlEpL'ti(!l f..l.llVL,
Eha ,;o ,;flc;; 'Amap,;11c;; ,
thus making the passage refer to the building
of two temples, one after the other.
Thackeray, in his Loeb edition, chose to emend this text on the basis
of Antiquitates but kept L' s understanding of the passage as referring to
temple building and read :rcp6Yt6v 'tE ,;ou 'HpaKA.f:ouc;; yEpow :rcmi]oa-
,;o v ,;q> IlEpL'ti(!l f..l.llVL. The first word must here refer to one of the
temples mentioned in the preceding lines. We know that yEpoLc;; can re-
fer to the erection of a building, e.g. a wal1.
A glance in the concord-
ance also easily shows that the verb yEipw may be used with various
inanimate objects (,;EI:xoc;;, xwf.A.a, :rcupyoc;;, and, to be sure, va6c;;),
usage also known from the NT (John 2:19-22). Thackeray thus trans-
lates the emended passage from Contra Apionem: "He [HiramJ ... de-
molished the ancient temples, and built new shrines dedicated to
Heracles and Astarte. That of Heracles he erected first, in the month of
We easily see that yEpmv :rcmi]omo has been understood
as "he erected".
This reading, however, is based on (a) an emendation, combining
material from the one single MS, the problematic L, with textual evid-
ence from Antiquitates VIII, and (b) a possible but not necessary inter-
pretation of the word yEpOLc;;. The reconstruction in question seems to
me to be inferior to the well-attested text in Antiquitates.
Here, Niese
R. Marcus, (Josephus; Loeb edition, vol. 5, 1988: p. 651).
See Schreckenberg (1977).
Thackeray (Josephus, Loeb edition, vol. I, 1976: p. xviii).
Schreckenberg (1977: 170).
See Reinach's edition of ContraApionem, the apparatus to I, 119 (Reinach and Blum 1930: 23).
This edition chooses to follow the reading in Antiquitates.
Similarly, the verb i:yEipw can also be used about erecting a building. On the verb and the noun,
see LSJ (p. 469a).
See Rengstorf (1975: 4-5).
Thackeray (Josephus; Loeb edition, vol. I, 1976: 211 ).

! I
! :
l<i i

and Marcus agree in reading :rtpw-roc;; -rE -rou 'HpaKA.ouc;; yEpmv
aa-ro ...
The idea that yEpau:;- refers to temple building has been a safe resort
to scholars as an alternative to the interpretation of the Greek term as
meaning "awakening" and referring to a cultic celebration of Melqart's
Nevertheless, it is based on an idiosyncratic reconstruc-
tion of the evidence. If we were here to accept the sense of (temple)
building in the word ycpat.c;;, then we get into serious problems with the
well-attested reading :rtp&Loc;; in Antiquitates, since it would be non-
sensical to say that Hiram was the first who built the temple X in the
month of Y, while it makes excellent sense to say that the king was the
first to celebrate a certain festival in a certain month.
Conclusion: There are good reasons to believe that Josephus speaks
of a cultic celebration of the resurrection of Heracles of Tyre (Le.
Melqart) in the month ofPeritius which corresponds to mid-February to
mid-March. 5
2.2. The Term iycpm;iTr/t; in the Amman Inscription
The above interpretation of EyEpat.c;; seems to be confirmed by a Greek
i!lscriptio!! from Amman-Philadelphia, which Abel read as follows:
Maqn;av 6.LOyEVO'\J<:;" YUf!VUoiapxov IlL' YJ[!Epwv 1\Uo, liLa j3LO'U, ryrpor[l1:TJV mu]
'HpaKAEOU(sj, j3ouA1Ytl'jv KU,Lltporl\pov, YJ j30UAYJ Ka'L 0 1\ij[!QS "tl[.l'i'j<:;" XUPLV.
Maphtan, fils de Diogene, gymnasiarque pour deux jours a vie, n!veilleur
d'Heracles, conseiller et president, le conseil et le peuple, en temoignage d'hon-
The council and the people honour a certain Maphtan and in this con-
nection enumerate the charges he has fulfilled: he has been gymnasi-
arch, f:ycpaEt-rY)c;; etc. 5
What we seem to have here is a coherent list of
the positions and political tasks of the man being honoured. A cultic
function fits better with the logic of enumeration than a reference to an
See Clermont-Ganneau (1924: 150-157) and Bonnet (1988: 33-40, esp. 34-35).
See Wagner (1962: 73) for references.
LSJ (p.l390b) and Bonnet (1988: 37).
Text: Abel (1908: 570-573, 573), translation: Bonnet (1988: 146).
For the following, see Bonnet (1988: 146-147). Note Bonnet's critique of the reading in the
new edition by P.-L Gatier, IGLS 21:2, Paris 1986 (pp. 51-54). Since I have not had access to
this work I quote it after Bonnet Gatier chose a slightly different reading, eyEpoE[nrJv will
'HpaKAE[i]ou, and finds a reference to a "constructeur de l'Heracleion". He is thus able to con-
clude: "rien ne prouve qu'Heracles ait pu etre un dieu mourant et renaissant". We may ask:
which came first, the reading or the conclusion?
' f
act of benevolence, such as the construction of a temple. It is then better
to assume that the person has been "resuscitator" of Heracles. An in-
scription from Ramleh contains another attestation of the same term.
Again, a mutilated inscription from Ashkelon contains the letters
kyEpo[ ....
Our conclusion so far is that there are certain reasons to believe that
there was, in the Phoenician mainland and in Palestine, in Hellenistic
times, a cultic celebration referred to as the yEpou:;; of the god, a celeb-
ration in which some agent was referred to as kyEpOEi:tY)C:, "the resuscit-
ator of Heracles". H.-P. Muller finds it hard to imagine such an activity
being performed by a human being,
an objection that I find difficult
to endorse. Human agents carry out all sorts of activities in the cult.
2.3. Semitic Evidence: mqm YJm in Mediterranean Contexts
It has been pointed out that "a survey of the mqm >Jm material demon-
strates a clear relationship with Melqart, as can be seen by a survey of
the names of the dedicants of the inscriptions."
It could even be that
Melqart occurs in direct connection with the title, in the juxtaposition
mqm > lm mit, since the last word might be an abbreviation for the name
of this deity, Ml(qr)t.
In an inscription from Larnax tes Lapethou on
Cyprus (LL 3), the title occurs in line 1 and Melqart figures in lines 2,
3, 4_62
A survey of the evidence for this designation in the Mediterranean
reveals a number of occurrences.
The oldest is the one just mentioned
from Cyprus, fourth century B.C.E. (LL 3:1). Another occurrence is
from Rhodes, second century B.C.E.
A number of occurrences are
from Carthage.
Bonnet (1988: 146 with note 7).
Bonnet (1988: 131 with note 89).
Miiller (1996: 114 ).
Greenfield ( 1987: 398). See, for instance KAI nos. 70; 90; 93.
CIS!, 5980,2. This remains an unproven possibility, see DNWSI (2: 1003 with references), and
note also Lipinski (1995: 241 n. 139). Compare, for instance, the abbreviation lpSforthe place
name lptsin the third inscription from Larnax tes Lapethou (LL 3, lines I, 5, 6), see Honeyman
(1938: 286 ).
See Honeyman (1938: 286, text, and 297, translation). The text is also found in Bonnet (1996:
160). Discussion by Greenfield (1987: 391-401) and Bonnet (1996: 74-75).
See the list in DNWSI (2: 997)
Rhodes: K.A/44 = TSS/ Ill: 39. Discussion by Gibson (TSS/ Ill: 144-147) and by Bonnet ( 1988:
I i
I' I.'
The title is a form of the verb qwm, to be more exact a causative par-
ticiple, as seems to appear from the spelling myqm (KAJ 161: 4), with
the apparent sense "he who raises". Among the interpretations listed by
Hoftizjer and Jongeling in their dictionary ,
the following three may be
mentioned here:
( 1) An established line of interpretation has been to see in the title a
"resuscitator of the god" and to understand this as a cultic agent who
somehow brought about the resurrection of the deity.
Notably Cler-
mont-Ganneau and Lipinski understood the title in this way.
(2) Honeyman suggested that we see in mqm >Jm an "establisher of
the gods", a person "in charge of temple affairs and responsible for the
regulation of religious functions and ceremonies, possibly also of
moneys and fabric", and he found that the title corresponds to btq.trA.l]-
r l j ~ or curator fani.
On this interpretation, our title refers to a cult su-
(3) Mayer-Lambert interpreted the title as "the one who raises the
gods, i.e. manufacturer of idols" _7
(4) In addition to these interpretations, listed in DNWSI, H.-P.
Muller (1996: 111-122) suggested still another one. He is little attracted
to the second and third interpretations above. In the first one, according
to which the title refers to a cultic act of resurrecting the god, he finds
the difficulty that it presupposes a relatively ancient and widely distrib-
uted notion of the resurrection of vegetation deities (p. 112). The use of
the verb qwm in the Hebrew Bible to refer to resurrection is a late and
special development ("Sonderentwicklung", p. 116). He also finds it
difficult to imagine a human agent who awakened the god (p. 114).
What he instead suggests is seeing in the title a cultic agent who wakes
up the deity to theophanic, salvific action; he speaks of "(Er-)wecken
des Gottes zum helfenden Eingreifen" (p. 121). In support of this he ad-
duces the use of Hebrew qwm in the imperative in prayers or admoni-
tions to the deity to stand up and take action.
Carthage: C/SI, 227,260-262,377,3351,3352,3788,4863-4872.5903,5950 (= KA/93), 5953
(= KA/90). 5979,5980, 6000bis, and KA/70. The last item, KA/70, was found in Avignon but
is now generally held to come from Carthage, see Rollig (KAI II, p. 87) and H.-P. Miiller (I 996:
Ill n. I and 124 n. 67). The title also occurs in an inscription from Cherchel in Algeria, KAI
161:4. For discussions of the material from Carthage, see Bonnet (1986 and 1988: 165-186,
esp. pp. 174-179).
DNWSI (2: 1002-1003).
See above, the notes at the beginning of section 2 of this chapter.
Clermont-Ganneau (1924: 149-167) and Lipinski (1970).
Honeyman (1938: 288).
Mayer-Lambert after DNWSJ (2: p. 1002, bottom). I cannot find the reference for Mayer-Lam-
bert given in DNWSI.
..l ...... J
1 ~
s it
:. -
i ~
1 but
To these various interpretations the following may be said. To begin
with, we may note that the second word in the title is not a numerical
plural but refers to one single god.
The god in question is most prob-
ably Melqart_7
While not definitely disproving nos. 2 and 3 above, this
at least makes them slightly less probable. It is therefore not surprising
that these two interpretations have attracted little following in present-
day discussion of the issue.
As for no. 4 above, it must be granted that
it is by no means an impossible interpretation. The question is whether
the balance of probability weighs down for this interpretation or for the
first one. I would like to call attention to the following points:
(a) As we have already seen, there is a firm tradition about the death
of Heracles, and there are indications that Melqart died a death in fire.
The notion of the resurrection of the deity would seem to fit well into
such a context.
(b) We have already found some possible allusions to a resurrection
of Melqart. Eudoxus of Cnidus, according to Zenobius, spoke of Iolaus
bringing Tyrian Heracles back to life by burning a quail alive. The god
was awakened by the smoke.
(c) The difficulties that Muller finds in the first interpretation seem
to be somewhat overrated. We found in our chapter on Ugaritic Baal 1
that this was a deity who died and returned. There is thus a fairly clear
and rather early attestation for the notion of the resurrection of a god.
That the use of Hebrew qwm about resurrection represents a late devel-
opment is in itself by no means a real argument against the suggested
interpretation of the Phoenician title, since the earliest occurrence of the
title is only from the fourth century B.C.E. Besides, Muller himself has
to admit that Hos 6:2 must be assessed as an exception on his count.
Muller's theophany interpretation that the title refers to someone who
was to make the god rise from inactivity to carry out salvific acts is
therefore hardly a major option.
(d) The question then arises whether there is any use of the verb
qwm that would rather fit into a context of resurrection. The participle
Num 10:35; Pss 3:8; 7:7; 9:20; 10:12; 17:13; 44:27; 74:22; 82:8, see Muller (1996: 119-121).
Muller also refers to epigraphic evidence, such as KA/202 A: 3, 13-14; 214: 2,3; 215:2. Muller
maintains his thesis in a subsequent study (1999: 28).
See Rollig ( 1959: 403-406) and DNWSI ( 1: 53 bottom).
See above. Note also the prominent role of Melqart at Larnax tes Lapethou, see LL 2 (KAI no.
43 and TSS/ vol. 3: no. 36) and LL 3 (Honeyman 1938). But note that Osiris is mentioned in LL
3: 5.
Honeyman was followed, however, by Rollig (KA/ II: 62).
Zenobius, Cent. V, 56, see Gaisford, ed. (Parremiographi gra:ci vol. I, 1886: p. 361 ).
Muller (1996: 116).
mqm in Phoenician is not attested outside the title.
It is then appropri-
ate to shed light on the interpretation of the expression with material
from other Northwest Semitic languages. Muller adduced the occur-
rences in Biblical Hebrew where the imperative of qwm is used in ad-
monitions to the deity to wake up and act. But there is also the use of
this verb for rising, not only after sleep but also after death. The follow-
ing instances may be adduced:
The dead do not live [yi.(Jyu]; shades do not rise [yaqumu]. (lsa 26: 14)
Your dead shall live [yi.Qeyu], their corpses shall rise [yequmun]. (Isa 26: 19)
After two days he will revive us [ye.(1ayyem1]; on the third day he will raise us
up [yeqimenu]. (Hos 6:2)
Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades [repa >fm] rise up [yaqumu]
to praise you? (Ps 88:11)
[S]o mortals lie down and do not rise again [yaqilm]. (Job 14: 12)
This use is attested as early as Hosea and is also found in Ben Sira
(e) The traditional interpretation (no. 1 above) may be adduced to
solve a n1inor side problem in a votary inscription to the god h a d r a p a ~
found in Carthage (KA/ 77). Here we read in line 1 about a stone altar
that is built by a person designated as [ .. ] yq$ > lm. Rollig, in KAI, prefers
not to emend the text. A restoration that is very close at hand, however,
is to emend a mem, as was done in the CIS edition (CIS I, 3921). The
word would then be a causative participle of qy$/yq$, "to awake, rouse
from sleep", a close synonym of mqm ( >Jm). In line with this, one
should note that an awakening of the deity seems to be alluded to in 1
Kgs 18:27.
(f) I referred above to the juxtaposition mqm >Jm mit, in which the
last word is often taken to be an abbreviation for the name of Melqart,
On the basis ofthis assumption we may then, with Clermont-
As was noted by Miiiler (1996: lll ).
MS B. see the text in Beentjes (1997: 85).
See also Porphyry, De Abst. IV, 9, and Arnobius, Adversus Nationes VII, 32.
CIS I, 5980, 2, as suggested by Clermont-Ganneau (1924: 164). The suggestion was accepted
by Benz (1972: 349) and, with caution, by Hoftizjer and Jongeling, see DNWSI (2: 1003 with
references). Note now also Lipinski (1995: 241 n. 139). Compare, for instance the abbreviation
Ips for the place name Jpts in the third inscription from Lamax tes Lapethou (U 3, lines I. 5,
6), see Honeyman (1938: 286). This is obviously not a scribal error.
. 1
l. 5.
call attention to the striking equation between the Phoeni-
cian-Punic title and the Greek one:
mqm 'lm ml{qr)t = *ioyEpac[i:tr]<; -w1J] 'HpaKA.iouu[s]
By way of summary we may then say the following: There is in Syria
during the Late Bronze Age a god who dies and returns to life, namely
Baal, a god to whom Melqart is closely related.
There is a tradition
about Melqart's death. A verb is used in the title that is otherwise used
about resurrection (Biblical Hebrew), and in a restored passage (KA/
77: 1) there is a synonymous expression, "the one who wakes up the
god". Briefly, the probability seems to me to weigh down for the inter-
pretation of our Semitic title as referring to a cultic agent endowed with
the task as "the raiser/resuscitator of the god". In addition, this opens the
possibility of the equation between the Semitic and the Greek title for
the cultic agent of the same deity. By not insisting on choosing diver-
gent interpretations for what obviously belong together, namely mqm
( )Jm) and 1:ou] 'HpaKJ....E:ouk], one has the advantage of
doing justice to Occam's principle.
Let us then proceed. A number of times the title is followed by an
apposition, and we find the complete designation mqm >Jm mtrb
We know that features related to hieros gamos sometimes oc- I
cur in connection with deities who are believed to die and remm io life.
Is this epithet an indication in this direction? There are two questions
here. (a) Which is the preferable semantic interpretation of the expres-
sion? And (b) which is its syntactic antecedent: the human "raiser of the
god" or "the god" himself?
First semantics. The root in mtrl) is obviously the one we find in
Akkadian te/ir.fJatu(m), "the price for the bride", and Ugaritic tr.fJ, used
as verb and noun "(to pay) the price for the bride", "to marry".
participle (causative or D) would then denote the "consort, bridegroom,
Clermont-Ganneau (1924: 164).
On Melqart's relations to Baal, see above in the introduction to the present chapter and see also
Ribichini (1985: 41-73) and Bonnet (1988: 417-433, esp. 431-433). Note that Typhon is struck
by lightning (Strabo, Ceo gr. XVI, 2, 7), the pre-eminent weapon of Baal.
Greenfield finally made up his mind in favour of this line of interpretation: "After years of hes-
itation I accept the view of Clermont-Ganneau ... in seeing Melqart as conceived by his wor-
shippers of being at some point asleep or even dead requiring awakening or revival ... I would
accept then the interpretation of mqm '1m as 'eveilleur sacre' or 'excitateur du dieu' or the like"
( 1987: 398). For other scholars who followed this line of interpretation, see above, the begin-
ning of section 2 of this chapter.
E.g. KA/44:2; 93:4. For other occurrences (all preceded by mqm 'lm ), see DNWSI (2: 710).
As independently suggested by Honeyman (1940: 8) and de Vaux ([1941=]1967: 495 n. 3). On
this root in Ugaritic, see Dietrich and Loretz (1999: 152-157).
i i
i I,,
The following element, 'stmy, has been taken in various
ways. The solution to the problem, however, was found by Rollig who
analyzed the word as an adjective, "belonging to Ashtart", consisting of
the name for the goddess Ashtart (without the fern. -t)
+ - an( on)+ i
(the nisbe yod as in Hebrew qadm6ni). Rollig then interprets the expres-
sion as meaning ''Ashtartean spouse" ("zur Astart gehoriger Brautigam,
Brautigam der Astart").
Then there is the syntax of mqm 'lm mtrb 'stmy. What is the ante-
cedent of the apposition? Is it the first or second word of the complete
title, is it the god, 'lm, or is it the human cultic functionary who resus-
citates the god, the mqm? Muller has made the pertinent observation
that if the god is the "Ashtartean bridegroom" then we would simply ex-
pect the designation to be mtrl) 'strt, thus not having the two generic
The designation, as we find it, contains an adjective.
Thus it rather denotes a human.
With regard to mtrb 'stmy, we are thus in a position to conclude: (a)
that it refers to a human being; (b) that the human being who is the
"Ashtartean bridegroom" is most probably a cultic functionary; (c) that
the status or task thereby implied is somehow connected with the activ-
ity of resuscitating the god; and (d) that the roles of resuscitator and of
Ashtartean bridegroom are important enough to be laid down in an of-
ficial cultic title. In addition, we know that Melqart is considered to be
the spouse of Ashtart.
That the complete title of the resuscitator of the
deity should then refer to his role in a hieros gamos rite in connection
with the rising of the deity is a possible but not necessary conclusion.
Cf. DNWSI (2: 710).
Rollig (1959: 413 n. 7) points to other cases of the same formation when the feminine ending
Rollig (1959: 413 n. 7) following a hint made by von Soden. The same interpretation in Lipin-
ski (1995: 137) and Miiller (1996: 122-126). As an alternative possibility I would suggest de-
riving the designation from the name of Ishtar's brother Ishtaran, for which see Livingstone
(Court Poetry, SAA 3: p. 158). The noun formation in this Akkadian name is the one described
by von Soden in GAG 56r. The meaning would then be "Ishtaran-like spouse".
Miiller (1996: 124).
Seyrig (1963: 28) took Melqart to be the son of Ashtart. However, Lipinski (1970: 36f. n. 3)
correctly pointed out that he is the spouse of Ashtart.
The Pyrgi inscription (see below), does not hint at a hi eros gamos. The idea that Pyrgi contained
a reference to this was based on line 6 (with 'rs ), but this line is to be understood in a different
way, see below. Neither do proper names containing the same root point to a hieros gamos. Li-
pinski (1989) discusses the Carthaginian personal name 'rstb'l, "objet desire par Baal" and
wisely points out that it might be appropriate to remember that the liturgy of the Roman Church
denotes virgins consecrated to God as Sponsa Christi, "spouses of Christ" (p. 145)! The same
approach could be tal<en with the name 'st '1m, on a recently discovered stele at Tyre (Stele TT
91.S2, published by Sader 1991: 112-116).
Conclusion: There is good evidence for the belief both in the death and
in the resurrection of Melqart. There are two traditions of his death: ac-
cording to one he was killed by a monster, and according to the other he
died on a pyre on a mountain. The cultic celebration of his resurrection
provides the background for both late Greek terminology, found in
Josephus, and earlier Semitic evidence, found in Phoenician and Punic
This conclusion receives further support from a West Semitic proper
name. In a Neo-Assyrian list from Nineveh we find among several West
Semitic feminine anthroponyms one in which we recognize a form of
the verb qwm, namely GAM-Mil-qar-te.
The name sounds like a
proclamation, "Melqart is risen", and may have an analogue in another
West Semitic name attested in a Neo-Assyrian context: A-du-ni-iJJ-a. In
this name, the theophoric element is either an appellative or a proper di-
vine name: "my lord" or "Adon(is)". The second element is either ad-
jectival or a jussive. Possible translations are: "My lord/my Adon(is)
lives/may live/may keep alive".
The rite of the awakening of the deity has perhaps also left its imprint
on the mortuary concepts of Punic Africa.
As late as the Roman
period the defunct could be provided with the classical attributes of Her-
cules, perhaps as an expression of the hope that he \Vas to share the fate
of the god. Such a heroization of the defunct is attested to by statues and
the iconography of sarcophagi.
3. Iconographical Evidence: The Melqart Stele and the Vase from
Iconography may also have something to contribute to our discussion.
On the Melqart stele of Bar-Hadad from the ninth century B.C.E. found
near Aleppo, the god Melqart holds an object in his right hand that is not
See Fales (1979: 55-73, col. III: 21, commentary on p. 67). Fales was not able to explain to sat-
isfaction the first element. This was done by Lipinski (1995: 230). See also Bonnet (1988: 176
with note 58) who refers to a personal communication from Lipinski.
See Lipinski (1995: 90) and idem in Radner (1998: 54). See below, Chapter IV.3.3 at the end.
Another name of this type is the feminine PN Mil-ki-l]a-a-a-ia (Lipinski 1995: 241) which has
Milk as the theophorous element. As the name Milkashtart indicates (see Lipinski 1970: 36f.
n. 3), "Milk" may stand for Melqart.
For the following, see Picard ( 1946: 443-466, esp. pp. 453-459), who derives this from Etruscan
usage (p. 456), and Lipinski ( 1995: 242). On the "eschatology" of the Punic world, see Garbini
(1994: 83-118, with references) and the literature listed by Benichou-Safar (1995: 95-96 with
n. 3).
I If ,I 'I
' '
I '
clearly visible.
The item has been interpreted as an <n.g sign-the
most probable alternative-or as a lotus. The first one is the hieroglyph
for "life"; the other, the lotus, is a symbol of death and life.
In either
case, the attribute in question expresses Melqart' s fundamental connec-
tion with the cycle of existence, in nature and among humans.
It sometimes happens in puzzle solving that a piece, taken in isola-
tion is a problem, but when placed in its context it becomes understand-
able and makes sense, thus contributing to the overall interpretation. In
such cases, the argument is marked by a degree of circularity. I shall
now discuss such a piece of evidence, namely a vase that is allegedly
from Sidon (fig. 3.1).
The item in question contains a series of relief
pictures that may be of great interest to us, since it has been taken to de-
pict the burning ofMelqart and his subsequent resurrection. It should be
pointed out, however, that the only line of text accompanying the scenes
does not mention Melqart expressly (see below). Studied against the
background of what we have so far concluded about Melqart, the item
becomes understandable as another piece in our chain of evidence.
The item is said to have been found in the vicinity of Sidon. It was
then kept in the Berlin Museum (VA 569) but was subsequently lost.
Photographs of the item were published by Barnett (1969). The item,
dated to the fifth-fourth century B.C.E, is a small four-sided stone bowl
or mortar, 15 ems. high, carved with bullhead handles. The depression
in the centre of the top is encircled by a snake in relief. Four ritual
scenes are incised on the sides, with each in a rectangular panel and
other details below. The execution of the item is of excellent quality; the
drawings, however, are sketchy and of surprisingly low standard.
To begin with, we should note that Garbini ( 1994: 61) prefers to con-
nect this item with the cult of Eshmun rather than that of Melqart. He
notes that the provenance is from the area around Sidon, which points
in the direction of the Eshmun cult. One could add that the snake encir-
cling the top of the object and the possible snake on a pole in scene A
On this stele and its iconography, see Mettinger (1995: 92-94 with references), Photographs in
ANEP (no. 499) and DCPP (p. 286, a very good one).
See Brunner-Traut (Lii 3: 1091-1096), Strange (1985), Bonnet (1988: 135), and Mettinger
(1995: 94) with references. On the photograph in DCPP (p. 286) a loop is clearly visible. This
could point to the first of the two alternatives above.
As was pointed out by Bonnet (1988: 135).
A first description is found in Pietschmann (1889: 224-226) with drawings. A series of photo-
graphs was published by Barnett together with the first modern discussion ( 1969: 9-11 i s u ~
sion, pl. IV photographs). The same photographs also appear in Bonnet (1988: pl. I fig. 1 ).
Other photographs wee published by Del cor (1976: 69-71 ). For the discussion after Barnett,
see Lipinski (1970: 43-46), Delcor (1976: 62-66), Bonnet (1988: 78-80), and Lipinski (1995:
~ r
could also be brought in connection with this deity. Let us, however,
postpone the decision on the issue of the identity of the deity and first
study the iconography in greater detail.
As Barnett points out, we do not know from the outset the order of
the scenes and their starting point. In the following I shall use the num-
bering of Barnett's photographs (1-4). While stressing that both order
and starting point are uncertain, Barnett reads from left to right, order-
ing his photographs 1, 2, 3, 4.
Lipinski, however, suggested reading
the pictures in the same order as one reads Phoenician script, i.e. from
right to left, and suested starting with Barnett's no. 3, thus suggesting
the order 3-2-1-4.
I shall refer to this sequence as A, B, C, and D. In
the following I draw heavily on Barnett's and Lipinski's discussions
and follow the order suggested by Lipinski.
A (Barnett no. 3). The pyre.-In the centre a draped figure appears,
apparently bathing in flames, standing on a cross-hatched podium, per-
haps representing a mountain.
To the left, on a pole, there is what is
possibly a snake (representing a healing god?); to the right there is a
crescent opened to the right, and below it a sign consisting of an open-
topped triangle placed on a cross. Below the panel there is a pair of vo-
lutes and an anchor (?), surrounded by what is either ears of grain or,
more probably, palm branches. Immediately below the anchor is what 1
A!!'iet takes to be a small plough.
Barnett, Lipinski and Bonnet all
take the motif of the panel as representing Melqart on his pyre.
B (Barnett no. 2). The tomb.-In the panel we find under a winged
sun disk a pyramidical object, probably a tomb,
flanked by two
standing figures with sceptres in their hands. Under the scene a pair of
volutes, a large palmette and a shield-shaped object.
C (Barnett no. 1). The mourning?-Central in the panel is a sort of
pyre or thyrniaterion (?), flanked by two figures, both dressed in sack-
cloth104 and with sceptres in their hands: to the left a male (bearded?)
figure, to the right a female (?) with a homed cape or head. As Barnett
points out, Philobyblius speaks of Astarte as having homs.
neath, there is a pair of volutes, a palmette and a palm. One should note,
Barnett ( 1969: 9-11 ).
Lipinski (1970: 43-46).
On the representation of mountains inANE iconography, see Metzger (1984).
P. Amiet, p.c. Nov. 23, 1998. I thank my colleague for this suggestion.
For similar constructions, see Ronzevalle (1930: 178), who does not, however, mention the I:
scene on the Sidon vase. !:
Thus Barnett ( 1969: 9) with reference to the iconography of the Ahiram sarcophagus. , j.
"Astarte placed upon her own head a hull's head", Phi1obyb1ius, Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 1.10: 31,
adduced by Barnett (p. 9 note 31 ).
2 3
D c
3.1. The vase from Sidon. Barnett's numbers above the picture. Lipinski ( 1970: 43-
46) suggested the ordering that is accepted in the present work as the correct one,
reading the pictures in the same order as one reads Phoenician script, i.e. from right to
however, that none of the flanking figures is represented in the attitude
of mourning, that is, with their hands on their head.
.. D (Barnett no. 4). The epiphany of the god.-Central on the panel is
.. front, in a long dress standing on a podium in front of a

out to me by P. Amiet, p.c. Nov. 23, 1998. On the hands-on-head posture, see
. <)986) .
. /
temple fa<;ade.
Lipinski identifies the stars as the morning star, ap-
pearing twice for the sake of symmetry, and takes them to indicate that
the event of this scene takes place at dawn on a subsequent day.
central figure is flanked by two minor figures, also standing on a po-
dium. Under the scene, we find again a pair of volutes and under these
a standing male figure, surrounded by ears of grain or palm branches
and holding in his hands what has been interpreted as two birds. Be-
neath is an inscription, which is now generally read bel kr.
Various interpretations have been suggested for the inscription:
(a) "Lord of the pasturage". Cf. Hebrew kar, "pasture".
(b) "Maitre de la fournaise".
Cf. Akkadian kiru(m), "(Asphalt-)
Hebrew kur, "furnace".
(c) "Baal Kura", Kura being a god known from Ebla.
Of these three interpretations, the second is the one that most closely
ties in with the supposed contents of the iconography of the bowl,
Melqart' s death on the pyre, the designation b c1 krthen proclaiming that
the god in question is the one who goes forth through fire in triumph.
The scholarly discussion so far seems to have overlooked the impli-
cations of the probable anchor under A. I would suggest that the anchor
below the first scene is to be understood as a symbol of hope, just as in
the New Testament (Hebrews 6:19). That this symbol has a long and
venerated tradition seems to appear from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Note
the importance of the silt NA
.MES, "things of stone" (anchors), kept
by the boatman Urshanabi, responsible for the traffic over the lethal
Kilmer ( 1996) interprets this as referring to the nautical prac-
tice known as kedging: one throws out a small anchor tied on a line a
short distance, and then pulls the boat toward the anchor as a means of
moving the vessel. It is then easily understood how the anchor could de-
velop into an emblem for hope, as in Hebrews 6:19. I must stress how-
ever, the hypothetical nature of this suggestion for the vase from Sidon.
Taking everything together and reading the scenes in the suggested
order, the series of drawings on the vase shows a sequence that spans
from the death of the god on the pyre, via his burial and mourning, to
For the temple facade on Phoenician coins see Hill (BMC Phoenicia: pl. X). Amiet. p.c. Nov.
23, 1998, called my attention to these.
Lipinski ( 1970: 46).
Barnett (I 969: I 0- J1 ).
Lipinski (1970: 43). Thus also DNWSI (I: 534).
AHw (484b).
Lipinski (1995: 239-40). thus retracting his previous suggestion (b above).
Gilgamesh X: 91, 155, 156, 185). On this topic, see Toumay and Shaffer (1994: 205ff. note n)
and Kilmer (1996).
his triumph and epiphany outside his temple. To illustrate the last scene,
one may quote Ps 50:2: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God
shines forth."
The temporal sequence may also be worthwhile. Note the moon in
the first scene and the morning star
in the last one. These might indic-
ate that at least two different days are involved. If the two scenes in the
middle, B and C, were to be placed on a day in between, then we would
have a course of events that took place during three subsequent days, a
What reasons do we have to suppose that the series of drawings rep-
resent Melqart, his death and return to life? We have already noticed
some details that could point to Eshmun. We should be aware of an Esh-
mun-Melqart syncretism at Kition.
The following points, however,
also deserve attention.
(a) The iconography of the object depicts the death of a god in fire
and his subsequent triumph over death. Although we know that one
source, al-Biruni, reports such a death for Asclepius,l1
the god pre-
eminently connected with a death in flames is Heracles-Melqart.
(b) Similarly, there is the depiction of the male figure with birds in
his hands underneath the last scene. It is most tempting to interpret this
as referring to the resuscitating effects of the sacrifice of quails to
Melqart!Heracles (see above).
(c) The inscription b <J kr recalls the designation avas :rrup<X:", used
about Heracles (see above).
(d) Note also that the serpent symbolism is by no means exclusively
reserved for Eshmun.
A snake has an important role also in the con-
text of Melqart.
Conclusion: The god depicted on the Sidon vase could be Eshmun,
but is more probably Melqart. The vase provides us with what seems to
be an iconographical corollary of the textual reminiscences of the death
Note also Melqart' s epiphany in light, following the recitation of the hymn to Melqart by Bac-
chus/Dionysius in Nonnos, Dionys. XL, 411-422. It is not clear whether Nonnos was a Chris-
tian or not. See Chauvin (1986). If he were, one could speculate about an influence from the
Biblical theophany tradition.
Thus Lipinski (1970: 46).
See Xella (1990: 167-175, esp. p. 170 with n. 16 and p. 173).
See al-Biruni in E.C. Sachau, ed., Alberuni's India. 2: 168: "Galenus says in his commentary
to the apothegms of Hippocrates: 'It is generally known that Asclepius was raised to the angels
in a column of fire, .. .' ."
Thus Barnett (1969: 10).
On Eshmun and snake symbolism, see Baudissin (1911: 328-339).
In Nonnos, Dionys. XL, 469-492, Tyrian Heracles tells Bacchus about the flaming tree with a
snake and an eagle.
and resurrection of Melqart. If this is right, the vase shows the sequence
of a ritual celebrating these events in a cultic context (note the temple
facade). The ritual procedures comprise at least two different days, per-
haps three. The "epic" order of events is worthwhile: from death to re-
surrection. According to the mytheme in Eudoxus of Cnidus (above),
the Phoenician sacrifice of quails was somehow connected with the re-
suscitation of the dead god. According to the above interpretation of the
Sidon vase, the series of pictures illustrates the same order of events: ( 1)
the god's death, and (2) his subsequent triumph over death. A possibil-
ity that should not be dismissed out of hand is that the vase represents a
case of the Melqart-Eshmun syncretism, known from fourth century
B.C.E. Cyprus (see below, Chap. V.2).
4. The Pyrgi Inscription: The Death of an Unknown Deity
It is appropriate here to devote some space to the Phoenician inscription
from Pyrgi.
This text (dated to ca. 500 B.C.E.) is written on a gold
plaque, found in area C a few meters from temple B at Pyrgi, together
with two other gold plaques with Etruscan inscriptions. In it we find a
reference to the burial of an unnamed god in lines 8-9. I translate the text
as follows:
(lines 1-5a) For the Lady, for Ashtart [is] this holy place, which Thefarie Velu-
nas king over Kaysriye made, and which he put as a gift
in the temple in the
month of the sacrifice for the sun.
(lines 5b-9a) And he built a chamber because Ashtart requested
[this] from
him, year three-3-of his reign, in the month krr, on the day of the burial of
the god [bym qbr 'lm ].
(lines 9b-ll) And [as for] the years of the votive statue
of the deity in her
temple, [may these be] years like [years of] these stars.
Text: Gibson (TSSI3: no. 42; pl. VIII:2); KAI277; Bonnet(1988: 280, Etruscan and Phoenician
versions, with discussion pp. 278-294; 1996: 161), Knoppers (1992: 106-107 with fig. 1), and
Schmitz (1996 with fig. 1). Ample bibliography is found in Schmitz (1996), who also offers a
thorough philological discussion. Treatments not listed in Schmitz are: Kropp ( 1994 ), Garbini
(1994: 57-66), Xella, in Ribichini and Xella (1994: 127-136 with references on p. 141), and
Bonnet (1996: 120-125).
This word, mtn, is the name of a month in LL 3:3; for the text see Honeyman (1938: 286).
Schmitz (1996: 564) interprets it thus in Pyrgi line 5. I prefer to translate it "as a gift", otherwise
we have one month with two names, mtn and "the month of the sacrifice for the sun". These
are two distinct months, see Stieglitz (1998: 211-221).
The word 'rs should not be taken to refer to a hieros gamos. There may be other indications
that this had a place in Phoenician-Punic religion, but there is no hint of this in the Pyrgi in-
On the sense of m's, see DNWSI (2: 589f.).
i 11
Knoppers has suggested that the word 'lm refers to a recently deceased
person, i.e. a human being and not a god.
This interpretation entails,
however, an understanding of lines 9-10 that is hardly the most natural
Let us start from the consensus that the crucial formulations re-
fer to a deity and proceed to ask: (a) Who is the god referred to in the
phrase "on the day of the burial ofthe deity"? and (b) What can be de-
duced about the background of the phrase?
The phrase is most probably to be understood against the back-
ground of a Phoenician cult. Moreover, there is no Etruscan god who is
believed to die. There is solid evidence for a Phoenician presence in
Ashtart figures prominently in our text, and the cult is
probably a Phoenician Ashtart cult.
Who is then the god referred to in the phrase about the burial of a de-
ity? It is hardly a female deity. Note the masculine form. Note also that
ritual death pertains to gods, and specifically gods of the type of dying
deities, but not to goddesses.
The main alternatives for the male
god's identity in the Pyrgi inscription are Adonis and Melqart.
Melqart has the strongest claim to be the unknown god:
(l) First there is the context. Area C where the inscription was found
is of broadly the same date as temple B. This temple contains various
specimens of Melqart iconography .
(2) Then there is the language. The dialect of the inscription is Phoe-
nician with particularly close links to the dialect of Cyprus, notably that
of Lamax tes Lapethou.
At this site Melqart is the main deity (see
(3) Finally there are the contents. When we compare the y r ~ i in-
scription with the three inscriptions from Lamax tes Lapethou
, we
find some worthwhile points in common:
(a) The cultic calendar: The month krris mentioned both in LL 3: 5
and in Pyrgi line 8.
Knoppers (1992: 114-119, esp. 116).
Knoppers: "As to the years during which [lama+ relative) the god [=the dead human] resides
in his temple ... " (p. 106, translation, and p. 117, discussion). Similarly Kropp (1994: 193). This
would probably have been expressed simply by wsnt 'lm bbty. See also Schmitz (1995: 569).
See the references in Hvidberg-Hansen (1988: 58-59).
See Xella (1984: 27) and Bonnet (1996: 122).
See Bonnet (1988: 287-288 and note the literature listed inn. 210) and Garbini (1994: 60-63).
Among present-day scholars, Hvidberg-Hansen (1988) and Bonnet ( 1988: 287-288; 1996: 122-
123) opt for Melqart.
See Bonnet (1988: 282-283; 1996: 123). Note also the existence of a "source of Hercules" in
Caere not far from Pyrgi, see Livy XXII, 1, 10.
Gibson (TSSJ III: pp. 152-159) and especially Schmitz (1995: 570-571).
lL 2 is found as KAI 43 and Gibson TSSI3: no. 36, while LL 3 is available in Honeyman (1938).
(b) A votive statue is mentioned in both places: LL 2: 2, LL 3: 2 and
Pyrgi line 9.
(c) Ashtart is mentioned in both LL 3: 6, 7 and Pyrgi lines 1, 6.
(d) The title mqm )lm is found in LL 3:1. It does not occur in Pyrgi,
but here we find a reference to "the day of the burial of the deity". The
two formulations seem to have the same ritual background.
Since Melqart is central in the cult of Larnax tes Lapethou (LL 2: 3,
7, 9, 10, 15 and LL 3: 2, 3, 4),
it is then highly probable that the un-
known god of the Pyrgi inscription is the well-known paredros of Ash-
tart, namely, Melqart, a god we have already found to be a dying and
rising deity.
According to the Pyrgi inscription, the burial of the deity takes place
in the month of krr. This month is mentioned in texts from Alalakh level
and occurs a number of times in Phoenician-Punic texts.
It has
been s u ~ g e s t e that this month is to be placed between October and
1 7
A worthwhile alternative, however, is to join company with
Xella and Stieglitz who take it as corresponding to the Babylonian
month Tammuz, i.e. July.
The question of the month remains a moot
Earlier in this chapter I showed how the death in flames was the typ-
ical way of departure from this world in the case of Melqart-Heracles.
At first sight the Pyrgi inscription seems to make a decisive departure I
from this when it speaks of the day of the "burial of the god". It should
be noted, however, that the Sidon vase, with the motif of the death in
flames combines this with what I have interpreted as references to the
tomb and to mourning rites (B and C). It would then seem premature to
play off the death in flames in the classical authors against the burial of
the god in the Pyrgi text.
Conclusion: The reference in the Pyrgi inscription is to the burial of
a (male) god and not to a beatified human dead. As appears from cir-
cumstantial evidence from Cyprus, this god is most probably Heracles-
Melqart. Against the background of the discussion in the present chap-
ter of our investigation, I am inclined to conclude that the burial of the
god is part of the celebration of the god's death and resurrection, a eel-
If we emend the crux in LL 2:4 to read zbb sms, we have another direct similarity with Pyrgi
lines 4-5. See Schmitz (1995: 564 n. 25).
For Melqart in Cyprus in general, see Bonnet (1988: 313-341).
See Cohen ( 1993: 372-375 and cf. 384).
KAI nos. 159, 277, CIS I, 92 and LL 3: 5 (Honeyman 1938).
See Degen (1968) and Lipinski (1970: 54 n. 9).
See Xella (1984: 21-30) and Stieglitz (1998: 215, 220-221).
~ . ~ ~ I
!' 'i
ebration that took place in the month krr, according to the Pyrgi inscrip-
5. Ritual and Seasonal Aspects
It is time to devote some attention to the ritual and seasonal aspects of
In the above discussion of references to the death
of the deity, I quoted Eudoxus of Cnidus, as preserved in Athenaeus:
"The Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Heracles."
This is obviously a
regular cultic activity connected with Tyrian Melqart. The motivation,
or, rather, interpretation, is interesting: When Heracles had been killed
by Typhon in Libya, "Iolaus brought a quail to him, and having put it
close to him, he smelt it and came to life again." Zenobius, who also
draws on Eudoxus, is a bit more detailed: According to Eudoxus, the
Tyrian Heracles was killed by Typhon. Iolaus, however, resuscitated
(avamfjom) Heracles. The quail, which was Heracles' favourite bird,
he burned alive, and because ofthe smoke, Heracles returned to life (f!E-
-cafhwvm).141 We have already seen that the Sidon vase in the lower
register of the last picture (D) has a figure who is probably holding birds
in his hands. What is important is that there is thus a regular ritual ac-
tivity connected with Melqart-Heracles, and in the ancient texts this rit-
ual is interpreted against the backdrop of the tradition about the death
and resurrection of the deity.
From the evidence discussed above, we may conclude that the celeb-
ration of Melqart' s death and resurrection was a stock theme of his cult.
Josephus was found to have referred to the celebration ofMelqart's re-
surrection (EyEpou;) in Tyre in the month of Peritius (mid February -
mid March). This was undoubtedly the main festival of Tyre, and it
must have been on this occasion that the people of Carthage annually
sent an embassy to Tyre to pay their homage to Melqart-Heracles.l
From 2 Mace 4:18-20 it appears that there was every fourth year some
sort of "Olympic games" in Tyre, in connection with which there was a
sacrifice to Heracles.
From the Amman inscription dedicated to
Maphtan (see above) we hear that this man had been "gymnasiarch for
two days of his life, resuscitator of Heracles, counsellor and president",
On this, see esp. Lipinski (1970: 54-58).
Athenaeus, Deipnosoph. IX, 392d.
Zenobius, Cent. V, 56, see Gaisford, ed. (Parcemiographi grreci voL 1, 1886: p. 361).
Polybius, Hist. XXXI, 12, Arrian, Anabasis Alex. II, 24, 5; Diodorus of Sicily, Bibliotheca Hist.
XIII, 108, 4; XX, 14,2. See Lipinski (1970: 56) and Bonnet (1988: 166-167) with references.
See Bonnet (1988: 57-58).
thus uniting high municipal and cultic functions, of which the first two
were closely connected with the cult of Melqart-Heracles.
The vase from Sidon, if correctly interpreted in my discussion
above, provides further evidence for the cultic celebration of the death
and resurrection of Phoenician Melqart-Heracles. The events are linked
to a cult place; the temple is featured in the last scene, and cultic person-
nel appear in all the scenes but one.
If we leave the Phoenician mainland and move westward, we notice
that the designation mqm >Jm is attested at various places in the Medi-
terranean: Cyprus, Rhodes, and Carthage (see above). The attestation
on Cyprus (LL 3: 1) gives a basis for the supposition that this title was a
Phoenician and not a Punic
development, although to date no attesta-
tion from the Phoenician mainland has been found.
A survey of the evidence for this cultic function shows that it was
fulfilled by persons of high standing.
Thus in the third inscription
from Larnax tes Lapethou a mqm >Jm is denoted as >s (llps, "who is in
charge of Lapethos" (LL 3: 1 ). The inscription from Amman that lists
Maphtan's credentials clearly demonstrates that he had a leading posi-
tion quite apart from his title yep<Ji:tYJt::.
In the far west, at Gades, a well-known Tyrian foundation just out-
side Gibraltar, there is a place where Melqart's death was also celeb-
rated, though there are no attestations of the title mqm >Jm. Silius I
Halicus tells that Heracles' death on the pyre was depicted ou. the doors
of the temple at Gades (Punica III, 32-44). Heracles' bones were kept
at Gades.
Arnobius alludes to popular belief that Tyrian Hercules
was buried in Spain.
There is a notice in Philostratus (third century
C.E.) that, "unlike any other race", the people at Gades "sing hymns in
honour of death [cov 8avacov ...
and this could per-
haps be understood against the background of a cultic celebration of the
death of the god. In Late Bronze Age Emar there are similar references
to singing songs to Sheol.
Surveying the evidence for the celebration of the feast of Melqart's
death and resurrection geographically, Lipinski gives the following
1 use "Phoenician" about material from Phoenicia proper and from Cyprus, and "Punic" about
material from Carthage and the western Mediterranean, since it was dependent on the north Af-
rican metropolis. See Bunnens (DCPP: 364) and Hvidberg (1988: 61 n. 24).
See Lipinski (1970: 56-57).
Pomponius Me1a III, 46. Bonnet (1988: 21 I) refers to Justin XLIV, 5, 2, for the information
that the sacra, or the relics of the cult of Melqart in Gades, came from Tyre itself.
Arnobius, Adv. nat. l, 36., according to Bonnet p. 21 I.
Philostratus, Vita Apollon. Tyan. V, 4.
See Emat Vl.3.385: 23 and 388: 57.
enumeration: Tyre, Philadelphia-Amman, Cyprus (Lamax tes Lape-
thou), Rhodes, Thasos, Delos, Rome, Northern Africa (Leptis Magna,
Carthage), and Gades in Spain.
We have to conclude that Melqart's
feast was celebrated at all the places where Melqart was the tutelary de-
ity or at least one of the main gods.
As for the time of the year when the Melqart celebrations take place,
we have found two interesting pieces of information. According to the
Pyrgi inscription, the ritual burial of the god took place in the month krr.
This month is probably to be placed in the summer and may be the
Phoenician equivalent of the Babylonian month Tammuz (July). The
rite of the awakening of the god is placed by Josephus in the month of
Peritius, i.e. mid-February to mid-March. Taken together, these two
pieces of information favours the conclusion that Melqart was believed
to spend about half of the year as dead in a way closely analogous to
what we hear of Dumuzi.l
Placed at this time of the year, after the major annual precipitation,
the celebration of the resurrection of Melqart probably had some sea-
sonal connection with the rebirth of the vegetation.
The possible oc-
currence of a depiction of a small plough in the first scene on the Sidon
vase points in the same direction.
Conclusion: There is respectable evidence indicating that the death
and resurrection of Melqart was the focus of cultic celebration in Hel-
lenistic times. The Pyrgi inscription, which mentions the burial of the
god and probably refers to Melqart-Heracles, takes us back to ca. 500
B.C.E. If we trust the information in Josephus (Ant. VIII, 146), alleged-
ly drawn from the Tyrian annals, that Hiram was the first one to celeb-
rate the awakening of Melqart, this would take us further back, to the
tenth century B.C.E. The celebration seems to have taken place in early
spring, about February, which gives a possible association with there-
birth of vegetation at this time of the year.
6. Conclusions
In our discussion of whether Melqart was a dying and rising deity we
have drawn on evidence of different types. The discussion of material
in Josephus led to the conclusion that this author does not refer to build-
Lipinski (1970: 56).
On Dumuzi's absence from earth from mid-summer to mid-winter, see Falkenstein (1968:
107), Sladek (1974: 27, n. I), Lambert (1990: 290), and Wiggermann (1997: 41). And see be-
low, Chap. VII.
See Bonnet (1988: 108).
ing a temple. The interpretation that he refers to the construction of a
temple is based on a questionable handling of the text-critical evidence.
Instead, Josephus speaks of a cultic celebration ofMelqart's awakening
). In the Amman inscription we found the corresponding func-
tionary, denoted as We found that the Semitic counterpart
of this title is mqm ) lm , "he who raises the god". The background of
these terms in Josephus, the Amman inscription, and Punic materials
was found to be the notion of the death and resurrection of Melqart. I
am inclined to think that there is a fair degree of certainty in these con-
On other points we have reasons to remind ourselves about the un-
certainties, especially with regard to the identity of the deity referred to
in two specific items: the Pyrgi inscription and the Sidon vase. In nei-
ther of these do we find an explicit mention of the deity's name. Thus
we must be open to the possibility that an other deity than Melqart may
be envisioned. In the case of the Pyrgi inscription, however, it is diffi-
cult to find another serious candidate besides Melqart. In the case of the
vase from Sidon, the margins of uncertainty are slightly wider. The
main alternatives are Eshmun and Melqart. We note that the tradition of
a death in flames is an outstanding though not exclusive characteristic
of Melqart. We know of a tradition of a death in flames for Eshmun as
well, but it is a tradition that seems to have enjoyed a much more mar- I
ginal exisrence in ihe suurcts than is the case for the tradition about the
death of Heracles-Melqart in flames. If Eshmun is the god depicted as
dying in flames and triumphing over death, then it is an Eshmun closely
assimilated to Melqart (see Chap. V.2).
With these qualifications in mind we may draw the following con-
clusions from our analysis of the evidence.
(1) Melqart is a god who dies. The tradition about his death is a
double one. According to one version he dies at the hand of Typhon.
According to a different and more prominent tradition, Heracles-
Melqart dies a death on a pyre. We shall return to this aspect below.
(2) Melqart returns to life. A mytheme in Eudoxus of Cnidus tells us
that the Phoenician sacrifice of quails is somehow connected with the
resuscitation of the dead god. There is both Greek and Semitic termino-
logy referring to his waking up from death. We have discussed his EyE p-
OLS, "awakening", in Josephus, the term in an inscription
from Amman, and the connotations of the Phoenician and Punic title
m(y )qm )1m, "the raiser/resuscitator of the god". Unlike H.-P. Muller
and M.S. Smith, we prefer to understand these linguistic items against
the background of a belief in the resurrection of the dead deity .
(3) Melqart's death and resurrection were the focus of cultic celeb-
ration. Both the Greek and Phoenician title of the functionary involved
witness to this. The Greek name of the celebration was yEpou;;,
"awakening". It seems probable that this ritual took place annually.
Josephus' reference to the month Peritius points to early spring as the
date for the rite of Melqart' s awakening. The reference to the month krr
in the Pyrgi inscription has been subject to different interpretations. It
may well give a date in July for the ritual burial of the god. There was
then a clear seasonal connection.
(4) It should be noted that there is a duality of concepts about
Melqart's departure from this world. On one hand we have the notion
of death and burial, known from the Pyrgi inscription. On the other
there is the idea of a death in flames, which is attested in elaborate form
in the classical authors, and which I believe was also an idea known in
the Levant (note the vase from Sidon, and see below on cremation in the
Phoenician mainland).
(5) It should be noted, too, that the death in flames (as in the classical
authors) and the burial of the god (as at Pyrgi) should not be played off
against each other. The vase from Sidon combines the two motifs.
(6) A major conclusion of ours is that Melqart must be described as
a dying and rising god. This does not necessarily imply that he is a direct
descendant of Baal. Various suggestions for Melqart's background
were discussed (a Nergal type, a Reshep figure, a descendant from
Baal). Melqart is hardly a chthonic deity. His death in flames and his
only temporary absence from the earth (note the ritual of awakening in
the spring) militate against a chthonic interpretation. Melqart is then
hardly a Phoenician cousin ofNergal.-We shall revert to Melqart's re-
lations with Osiris in Chapter Vl.3.2.
Before leaving Melqart, we must make some reflections about an im-
portant difference if we compare with Late Bronze Age religion: the
motif of the god's death. We have seen that both Baal and Melqart are
dying and rising gods. Whether or not there was a historical connection
between Baal and Melqart, an important difference between the two
must be stressed: the motif of the god's death. Baal's death is depicted
as a descensus ad inferos. He goes down to the Netherworld and is swal-
lowed up by Mot. Melqart, according to the most prominent tradition,
dies a death in flames. To the best of my knowledge, this important dif-
ference has not been properly brought into focus in previous research.
Why is there this difference?
I think the answer lies in the simple observation that myth is basic-
ally a manifestation of fundamental values and customary behaviour of
the culture that produced it. Symbolic universes operate on the ordering,
nomic level and serve to legitimate institutional order, as I pointed out
above (Chap. I would like to suggest here that the difference re-
ferred to reflects a change in burial customs. At the end of the second
millennium, incineration is fairly rare in Syro-Palestine. Inhumation is
practically universaL During the Iron Age, there is a change. "From the
8th to the 6th cent., in western Phoenician establishments, these propor-
tions change: incineration tends to preponderate."
The changing
mode of death-Baal's descensus and Melqart's death in flames-is de-
rived from the predominating burial custom. Baal's descensus reflects
a society where inhumation is still the dominant practice, while
Melqart's death on the pyre reflects a society where incineration has be-
come important.
It is impossible to say when Melqart became a god who died in
flames. In the Pyrgi inscription, which I take to refer to Melqart, there
is a reference to the burial of the god, but nothing is said about incinera-
tion. The vase from Sidon, likewise supposedly referring to Melqart,
shows how the god dies on a pyre, is buried in a sarcophagus-like ob-
ject, and then rises to new life.
Thus Grass, Rouillard and Teixidor (1991: 136-138, quotation from p. 136). See also Beni-
chou-Safar (DCPP 361-362 and 1995:95-105). On cremation in Greece, esp. in Attica, see
Kurtz and Boardman (1971: 25-26,51-54,73-74, 98-99) and Burkert (1985: 191).
When we now tum to Adonis, it is with the same question in mind as
before: Is this deity to be understood as a dying and rising god? Frazer
and Baudissin described Adonis as such a deity. Ever since the 1930's,
however, there has been a marked tendency to question their conclu-
A major complication in our study of Adonis is that almost all
of our source materials deals with "the classical Adonis", if I may use
this label for the figure that we meet in the Greek and Latin sources.
There is an obvious risk that our reconstructed picture of the Levantine
ancestor of this "classical Adonis" amounts to nothing more than a
simple repristination of what we find in the classical sources.
There are, however, important structural differences between Greek
and ancient Near Eastern religion, and these are not to be neglected in a
serious study of Adonis. W. Atallah
has called attention to what
amounts to a major paradox in the Adonis material: On one hand, this I
god has "a festival which is symbolic of the reaping of the ripe fruits of
the field" as Ammianus Marcellinus puts the matter;
on the other, the
Adonis gardens, with their rapidly withering sprouts, have the function
of proverbial symbols of sterility in classical writers. Atallah himself
does not make any proper attempt to solve the riddle he observed. Could
it be that his paradox has something to do with precisely the structural
differences between Greek and ancient Near Eastern religion? I must
here call attention to one particular aspect, namely, the borderline be-
tween the realm of the gods and the realm of the dead, a borderline
which is less easily traversed in Greece than in the Levant. Burkert com-
ments on this difference with the following words:
See de Vaux ([1933 =]1967: 379-392), Lambrechts (1955), Wagner (1962: 180-218, esp. pp.
187-211), Will (1975), Detienne ([1972=]1993), Barstad (1984: 149-151), J.Z. Smith (1987),
and M.S. Smith (1998: 282-286). Among scholars who still opt for the resurrection of Adonis,
one can mention Seyrig (1972a: 97-1 00), Soyez (1977: 35-43), Ribichini (1981: 156-159), and
Lipinski (1995: 90-105), but these scholars never argue the case in dialogue with the sceptics.
Atallah ( 1966: 228, 322).
Thus Ammianus Marcellinus XXII, 9, 15 (referring to the rite in Antioch in 362 C.E.). See also
Origen, Selecta in Ezechielem, to Ezek 8:12 (PG 13. col. 800 A).
i! IiI !il
I I i
The gods are the immortals, athanatoi; the epithet becomes a definition. To
name a festival the "day of the burial of the divinity", as the Phoenicians do, ...
is impossible in Greek. A god bewailed as dead, such as Adonis, ... is always
felt to be foreign; when the Cretans show a Grave of Zeus it only serves to prove
that they are liars.
It is true that we should not overstate this distinction.
A borderline,
however, may be noticed, as appears from Bion' s Lament for Adonis,
line 53, where Aphrodite says that she must live and be a goddess and
cannot follow Adonis to the Netherworld ~ w w Ka'L 8E6s Ef.tfU Ka'L o-l'
Mva[.tai OE DLWKELV).
From the category of the gods we should distin-
guish the category of the heros, Although the concept of the heros is not
as clear-cut as has sometimes been assumed, it seems wise to adopt the
basic definition that "a hero is a person who has lived and died, either
in myth or real life, .... [t]his is the main distinction between a god and
a hero."
A heros "can be called theos occasionally but still be a hero!'
Against this background, one of the major results of Ribichini's
monograph on Adonis becomes particularly interesting, the conclusion
that we should distinguish between Adonis, the Greek heros, and Adon-
is, the Levantine god.
It is not often that Adonis is explicitly denoted
as heros, As Ribichini points out, however, Adonis is surely perceived
by Greek mythology as a heros, as appears from his morphology: he has
no divine genealogy, he is the son of mortal parents, he is worshipped
in private cults and in the cult of Aphrodite, he dies (during a huntor in
a different situation), he is mourned as a dead, he is buried, and his tomb
is known.
That Adonis is a mortal and not a god in the full and real
sense of the word may be valid for the classical tradition, but cannot
without further ado be claimed for the Levantine Adonis.
Burkert ( 1985: 201 ). It is the Pyrgi inscription that mentions "the day of the burial of the divin-
ity" (KAI no. 277; TSSJ vol. 3: no. 42). On the above-mentioned contrast, see also above, Chap.
1.2.1 at the end.
See Ehnmark (1935: 1-10, esp. pp. 1-2).
Text in Gow, Bucolici Graeci (1952: 155), German translation in Wilamowitz-Moellendorff
(1925:295). Note also Hesiod, Theogony 775-806. I thank Lasse Bemdes, Lund, for calling my
attention to this passage.
Ekroth (1999: 8). Note Ekroth's concluding discussion of immortality-mortality for a god, a
heros and a deceased person (pp. 270-274). (Addition to the proofs: See now Merlo and Xella,
pp. 281-297 in the symposium volume in the addition to the bibliography below.)
Ekroth ( 1999: 9).Reference courtesy Charlotte Wikander.
Ribichini (1981, especially p. 149). The explicit evidence for this categorization of Adonis is
very meagre (Theocritus, Idyll XV, see below). Even so, however, I think that Ribichini's cat-
egorization makes good sense.
Ribichini (p.c. 2 May, 2000).
Cf. M.S. Smith (1998: 285): "Unlike Osiris and Baal, but perhaps like Dumuzi, Adonis is a
mortal." Smith does not seem to be aware of the distinction put forward by Ribichini.
), 0
'( )
. ,
t ~
ll s
t .. J
h ,
r '
( 1
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: y
10, a
~ IS
1,:') a
Ribichini' s observations are important and should alert us to the pos-
sibility that the reception of Adonis in Greece implied some major
changes. In order to spell out this basic difference, I shall in the follow-
ing adopt Ribichini's way of speaking about the classical heros and the
Levantine God.
The task we undertake is thus a very difficult one. Much of the
source material is very late and some is even found in the Church
Fathers. The prima facie impression of the textual evidence is that the
idea of Adonis' resurrection is a very late one and does not antedate the
Christian era. However, it is important not only to focus on chronolo-
gical differences but also to pay attention to local variations.
I shall therefore emphasize the local differences and distinguish be-
tween sources relating to the classical Adonis and the Levantine god re-
spectively. Our focus of interest will be on the West Semitic god who
looms behind the Adonis of the later sources. Here the material is ex-
tremely scarce,
but we are now aware of the possible relevance of
some Amama letters from Byblos (fourteenth century B.C.E.) and two
tenth century inscriptions from the Byblos area. Seyrig pointed out that
the debate about Adonis suffers from a confusion about the difference
of what took place at Byblos, at Alexandria, and at Athens.
In order
to do justice to the diverging provenance of the material, I shall discuss
it in three steps: the classical heros in (1) Greece and Rome, in (2)
Egypt, and (3) the god of the Semitic Levant. Thus, I shall not, to begin
with, focus on chronological distinctions. A sketch of the developments
shall be attempted only at the end of this chapter.
I shall make no attempt to give a complete documentation. A fuller
coverage may be found in major works by previous scholars: Baudissin
(1911: 65-202), Sulze (1928), Atallah (1966) and Ribichini (1981).
The iconography is treated in some major works.
My contribution will be geared towards the overall interpretation,
with the problem of a possible resurrection of Adonis in focus. This
On this point, see Burkert (1979: 106).
Seyrig (1972a: 100, n. 1).
There is a vast literature on Adonis. The following contributions may be mentioned: Mannhardt
(1877: 273-291), Roscher (1884-1890: 69-77), Diimmler (1894: 384-395), Vellay (1904),
Frazer (GB
vol. 4: I; 1914: 1-259), Baudissin (1911: 65-202), Glatz (1920), Notscher ([ 1926=]
1980: 85-95), de Vaux ([1933=]1967: 379-405), Stocks (1936), Lambrechts (1955). Wagner
(1962: 180-218), Fauth (1964: 70-71), Weill (1966), Atallah (1966), Eissfeldt (1970a), De-
tienne ([ 1972]1993: 99-122), Vernant ([1974]1990: 143-182), Will (1975), Burkert (1979: 99-
122), Ribichini (1981), Robertson (1982), Baudy (1986; 1992: 31-41; 1996), Lipinski (1995:
90-105), and M.S. Smith (1998: 282-289).
LIMC VI: 222-229; U2: 160-170), Atallah (1966: 141-209, 217-226), and Weill (1966)

J[ :/ ,J I
... !,1
problem has not been the subject of any major study after that by Lam-
brechts (1955), and does not figure prominently even in Ribichini 's
monograph (1981).
1. The Classical Heros in Greece and Rome
In dealing with the classical heros, we shall discuss first the rite and
then the myth.
1.1. The Rite
As to the date of the festival of Adonis, there is now almost general
agreement that this celebration took place during the dry period, when
the vegetation died.
Cumont was able to demonstrate that the festival
took place during the hottest period, the dogdays of summer. The start
of this period is marked by the heliacal rising of the constellation of the
Dog, with Sirius as the most brilliant star. This takes place in the latter
half of July.
A few scholars have argued that there was also a spring
celebration of Adonis, who is thus supposed to have had a double celeb-
The character of the ritual celebrations called the Adonia is easily
perceptible from a wide array of sources. Already in our first testimony,
in Sappho ca. 600 B.C.E., there is a reference to women mourning the
dead Adonis by beating their breasts and rending their tunics.
A pas-
sage in Aristophanes' Lysistrata (from 411 B.C.E., lines 387-396) re-
fers to a rite carried out on the roof of a building: a woman sings an
Adonis-dirge ( AbwvtaOf!Os ),
a woman dances, shrieking "Woe, woe,
Adonis" (a'ta1 Abwvw),
and another woman exclaims "Beat your
breasts for Adonis!" Further, Ovid (43 B.C.E.- 18 C.E.) refers to an an-
nual celebration in memory of Adonis' death.
In agreement with this
On the date, see Baudissin (1911: 121-133), Cumont (1927, 1932, and 1935), Weill (1966: esp.
pp. 693-698), Soyez (1977: 44-75), and Lipinski (1995: 96). Note the surveys of various alter-
natives in Atallah (1966: 229-258) and in Detienne (1993: 181 n. 4).
See Cumont (1927, 1932 and 1935), Atallah (1966: 247-254), Weill (1966: 693-698) and Ser-
vais (1984: 83-99).
Thus Atallah (1966: 255-258) and Robertson (1982: 331-359; note his summary on p. 354). In
this connection, note the celebration of Melqart' s ryEpou:; in February-March. See Chap. III.l.
Sappho, Frag. 140a (Lobel and Page)= Frag. 152 (Reinach), on which passage see Lipinski
(1995: 91-92).
This word denotes the funerary dirge, see Weill (1966: 690).
Note the same word in Bion's Lament for Adonis, passim, text in Gow (Bucolici Graeci, 1952:
153-157), translation in Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1925: 292-297), and in Ovid, Metamorph-
oses X, 215: "the flower bore the marks, AI AI, letters of lamentation, drawn thereon."
Ovid, Metamorphoses X, 725-727.
I .
l ~ d
atmosphere of death and mourning, we find that the Adonia are some-
times referred to as providing a bad omen for some special undertaking.
Thus Plutarch (born ca. 45 C.E.), when referring to the departure of the
Athenian fleet in 415 B.C.E. under the combined command of Alcibia-
des and Nicias, notes that,
[T]here were some unpropitious signs and portents, especially in connection
with the festival, namely the Adonia. This fell at that time, and little images like
dead folk carried forth to burial were in many places exposed to view by the
women, who mimicked burial rites, beat their breasts, and sang dirges.Z
Amrnianus Marcellinus (born ca. 330 C.E.) tells about a much later oc-
casion, when emperor Julian in 362 visited Antioch, and his visit hap-
pened to coincide with the celebration of the Adonia:
Now, it chanced that at that same time the annual cycle was completed and they
were celebrating, in the ancient fashion [ritu veteri], the festival of Adonis ... a
festival which is symbolic of the reaping of the ripe fruits of the field .... And it
seemed a gloomy omen, as the emperor now for the first time entered the great
city, ... that on all sides melancholy wailing was heard and cries of grief.
Nothing is said here about a resurrection of Adonis. On the contrary, the
Roman historian refers to the celebration of the Adonia as a bad omen,
due to its funerary character. At the same time, one notes that the fest-
ival was understood to express harvest symbolism. An interesting point
is also the reference to "the ancient rite". Does this mean that there was
some sort of break or discontinuity in the way the Adonia were celeb-
rated, or is it simply a way of saying that everfthing took place accord-
ing to a well-established standard procedure?
The character of the festival is thus a funerary one, with an atmo-
sphere of sorrow and wailing. In line with this, the Adonis gardens,
small plantations in shards of pottery or in vases, are understood as sym-
bolizing the ephemeral nature of vegetation, even sterility.
Plato, in a
Plutarch, Alchibiades XVIII, 2-3; similarly in Plutarch, Nicias XIII, 7.
Ammianus Marcellinus XXII, 9, 15.
Compare the formulation ritu vetusto, "in accordance with the ancient practice", in Apuleius,
Metamorphoses XI, 23.
On the Adonis gardens, see Baudissin (1911: 138-141), Frazer (GB 4:1, 1914: 236-259), Sulze
(1926; 1928), Baumgartner (1959: 247-273), Frankfort (1962: 291), Atallah (1966:211-228),
Heick (1971b: 187), Baudy (1986), Detienne (1993: 99-122), and Lipinski (1995: 95-96; 99-
100). Sulze (1928) has an especially fine collection of materiaL-The aspect of sterility is
stressed by Baudissin and Detienne, while Frazer and Baudy stress the fertility aspect. Detienne
(sec above Chap. !) sketches a contrast between the Adonia (spices) and the Thesmophoria
(wheat) and stresses the symbolism oftransitoriness in the former. However, he has some trou-
ble with the information that not only fennel and lettuce but also wheat and barley were sown
in the pots or sherds that were used for the Adonia. see Atallah (1966: 211-213) and note also
the critique of Detienne in Bonnet ( 1987b: II 0) and Winkler ( 1990: 198-202).
'i i'
I I ''
II' ;i
I' iiI
passage purporting to show that the written word is no more than the
shadow and imitation of living speech, evokes the Adonis gardens for
Would a sensible husbandman, who has seeds which he cares for and which he
wishes to bear fruit, plant them with serious purpose in the heat of the summer
in some garden of Adonis, and delight in seeing them appear in beauty in eight
days ... ? Would he not, when he was in earnest, follow the rules of husbandry,
plant his seeds in fitting ground, and be pleased when those which he had sowed
reached their perfection in the eighth month?
Indeed, the sterility of the Adonis gardens is proverbial: "You are more
sterile ( aKapJTO""tEpoc;) than the gardens of Adonis. "
Similarly, the
Suda describes the gardens as n'L ""tCDV awpwv Ka\ 6/l.qoxpov\.wv Ka\ 1-AYJ
thus depicting the gardens as unseasonable, ephemeral,
and without root.
We conclude: In Athens, the Adonia took place at the end of July.
The Adonis ritual seems to have had a funerary character focussing on
Adonis' death. The symbolism of the Adonis gardens was essentially
one of sterility. There are no obvious traces of any belief in a resurrec-
tion of Adonis. It seems probable that Adonia were celebrated at other
places in Greece at the same time and with broadly the same contents.
1.2. The Myth
In classical mythology there are two contradictory versions of Adonis'
death. According to one, the young hunter Adonis was killed by a
The same motif is also found in the Attis myth, where it has been
judged to be a late imitation of the Adonis myth.
According to the
other and probably older myth that Apollodorus cites from Panyassis
(early fifth century B.C.E.),
Adonis, the newborn child, for the sake
of his beauty, was hid in a chest by Aphrodite and entrusted to Perse-
phone, the consort ofHades-Pluton.
When Persephone refused to give
him back, the dispute was resolved by Zeus: the year was divided into
Plato, Phaedrus 276B.
Zenobius, Cent. !, 49, text in Paroemiographi Graeci !, p. 19, 6ff. (Leutsch and Schneidewin
See Suda in Adler, ed., Suidae Lexicon, s.v. AOWvLOa<:; Kijnm.
Thus, e.g. Apollodorus, The Library III, 14, 4, and Ovid, Metamorphoses X, 708ff.
See Baudissin (1911: 155f.) and cf. Popko (1995: 190).
Apollodorus, The Library III, 14, 4.
Note the striking analogy between Adonis and Erichthonios. See Baudy ( 1992: esp. pp. 34-41)
who notes this analogy and "die Strukturidentitlit der Mythen" (p. 36). I owe this reference to
Lasse Berndes (p.c.).
~ t
l '
\ .
e to
three parts and Zeus ordained that Adonis should stay by himself for
one part of the year, with Persephone for another, and with Aphrodite
for the remainder of the year. Since Adonis left his own share to Aph-
rodite, the result is that he spent one third of the year in the Netherworld
and two thirds on earth. I shall call this the myth of "bilocation".
notion ofbilocation is thus a succinct expression for the annual descent-
and-return fertility cycle. I would not speak of bilocation if a chthonic
deity occasionally comes up to the light to receive mortuary sacrifices,
as could be the case in the Mesopotamian kispu ritual.
The antiquity of this version of the myth is confirmed by the icono-
graphy of a Praenestine mirror from the fifth-third century B.C.E.,
found at Orbetello (fig. 4.1).
Above each figure depicted, the representation has inscribed in ar-
chaic Latin Venos, Diouem, Prosepnai respectively. Jupiter is sitting in
the centre with a lightning bolt in his left hand. Below him is a box, be-
lieved to contain young Adonis. Venus is weeping. Proserpine-Perse-
phone stands at the other side, pointing at the box.
In his study of Roman sarcophagi from the second century C. E. and
later, Koortbojian (1995) stresses the importance of Adonis motifs in
the iconography, notably the "Adonis redivivus" motif. This motif ex-
presses the notion that Adonis was spared from the finality of death by
Aphrodite's love and implies that all three, Aeneas, Adonis, and the de-
ceased were to share this experience.
The myth of Adonis' bilocation has a structural parallel in the Ho-
meric hymn to Demeter, where Zeus ordains that Kore is to spend one
third of the year down in the darkness but the other two thirds with her
mother and the other Olympians.
The notion of bilocation is interest-
ing to us for two reasons:
(a) It stands in certain tension with the Greek notion of a borderline
between the realm of the gods and the realm of the dead, gods being im-
mortal and the heroes belonging firmly to the Netherworld.
Adopting a term from J.Z. Smith (1987: 522a). The term is otherwise used to refer to "the act
or power of being in two places at the same time" (OED 2, 1989: 196). Smith and I use the term
to refer to the deity's spending part of the year on earth and part in the Netherworld.
Atallah ( 1966: 290f.) called attention to this item. The museum number is Louvre no. 1728. On
this mirror, see CIL r2 no. 558 with Supplement ( 1986: no. 558), and especially D. Emmanuel-
Rebuffat's detailed presentation in Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum I:3: no. 7. I am grateful to
Drs Ingela Wiman and Charlotte Wikander for discussions and references.
Koortbojian (1995: 49-62, esp. p. 62). I owe this reference to Ingela Wiman, Gothenburg.
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter 445ff. Text and translation in Evelyn-White (Hesiod, LCL,
1998: p. 320-321). Translation also in M.V. Meyer (The Ancienr Mysteries. A Source Book,
1986: 29). On Demeter and Kore in such contexts as the Thesmophoria, the Skira, and the
Eleusinian mysteries, see Deubner (1956: 40-92).
. I
I o
4.1. Praenestine mirror, found at Orbetello. The chest, supposedly containing young
Adonis, watched by Venus, Jupiter, and Proserpine-Persephone.
(b) It has clear structural precedents in the Semitic world. We shall
return to these points below in our discussion of the Levan tine god.
1.3. The Chthonic Features
In his monograph, Ribichini lays a certain stress on the chthonic fea-
tures of Adonis.
There is, he says, never the question of a victory over
death (p. 134). In line with this, the magical papyri regard Adonis more
or less as a chthonic figure, placing Adonis together with Ereshkigal
and Persephone.
Moreover, a Greek writer such as Theocritus from
Syracuse describes Adonis as one of the "demigods" in his poem about
an Adonis feast in Alexandria (see below). I think Ribichini hit on an
essential feature when he stressed the character of the classical Adonis
as belonging to the category of the heros. But I think he slightly over-
stated the chthonic features of the figure. In spite of Ribichini's obser-
vations, I find it appropriate to note that the focus of the classical
Adonis myth is still on the idea of bilocation. Even the magical papyri
presuppose Adonis' coming up to earth when it is said that under certain
circumstances one will not see Adonis avPXOf.!Vov.
We may then summarize our observations on the classical heros. We
have discussed the rites and the myth and have noticed one distinct dif-
ference between them. The rite has a funerary character, celebrating
Adonis as dead. There is no hint at a resurrection or return. The myth,
on the other hand, with the idea of bilocation, seems to make a conces- 1
sion to previous tradition in assigning to Adonis a twofold place of so-
journ: one part of the year in Hades and one part in the light on earth.
And this, in turn, reflects the variations of the agricultural year.
2. The Classical Heros in Egypt
Before we consider in detail the issue of the West-Semitic pedigree of
Adonis, we shall say a few words about the Adonis celebrations in
Egypt. The material at our disposal derives mainly from Theocritus and
Cyril of Alexandria. There is one striking difference between these two
presentations of Adonis: only in the later one do we find a clear allusion
to the celebration of the god's return from the Netherworld.
Theocritus, a Greek writer from Syracuse, well versed in classical
mythology, has a poem about a cultic phenomenon taking place in
Ribichini (1981: 132-142).
Ribichini ( 1981: 134) with a reference to Papyri Graecae Magicae (Preisendanz) I, p. 82f. (IV
336-339). Chthonic features may be found in the references to" Al\wvu; and to al\wvia xflwv in
the texts from Kourion, published by Mitford (1971: for references, see the indexes pp. 411.
Papyri Graecae Magicae (Preisendanz) I, p. 164f. (IV, 2900-2907).
Egypt. He describes an Adonis feast in Ptolemaic Egypt, dating to early
third century B.C.E. (Idyll XV, 78-149).
The Egyptian context should
make us aware ofthe possibility that the Adonis rite has assimilated fea-
tures from the Osiris cult. The rites for Adonis take place on two sub-
sequent days. Day One is the day of the epithalamium of Adonis, and
there are Adonis gardens in silver baskets (1. 113) and green canopies or
bowers (OK LaDEs, 1. 119). The union of the two lovers takes place (ll.
127ff.). Aphrodite is denoted as "Aphrodite of the golden toys" (xpuoq>
1. 101), a formulation that we should perhaps see in the light
of Inn ana' s!Ishtar' s jewellery in the Mesopotamian myths of descensus
ad inferos.
Day Two is of a different character, being a day of lament
(11. 133ff.):
But all together, at daybreak, with the dew, will we bear him out to the waves
that splash upon the shore; and there with ungirt hair, breasts bared and raiment
falling to the ankle, will we begin our clear song (11. 132-135).
The text does not tell us how Adonis is buried. According to a scholion
to 1. 133, he was thrown into the waves.
The song mentioned here is
probably the dirge (taA.qu:x;; ), the Adonis hymn referred to in
11. 96; 98.
The scene at the sea closes with the words: "Look on us with
favour next year too, dear Adonis. Happy has thy corning found us now,
Adonis, and when thou earnest again, dear will be thy return" (1. 143-
144). All of this takes place every 12th month (11. 103). There is no hint
whatsoever of true bilocation, that is, of Adonis spending a major part
of the year on earth. Rather his visit to the light is a short ritual interlude
in what seems to be a perennial sojourn with Persephone.
As a corol-
lary of this, Theocritus designates Adonis as a demigod he
writes: "Thou, dear Adonis, alone of demigods, as they tell, dost visit
both earth and Acheron" (11. 136-137). This formulation places Adonis
squarely in the category of the heros.
From Theocritus we may tum to an Egyptian papyrus text from gen-
erally the same period. In an attempt to reconstruct the Adonis celebra-
tions of Ptolemaic Egypt, Gustave Glatz ( 1920) availed himself of Pap.
Petrie 3,142 from Fayoum, which contains a list of expenditures for the
For Theocritus I have used the text and translation of Gow (1950). Text and commentary are
also found in Dover (1971), and note the discussion in Atallah (1966: 105-135).
See Vollgraff (1949) and Atallah (1966: 114-121 ).
See Atallah (1966: 129).
See Dover (1971: 208).
Compare the Adonis gardens in Greece that were thrown into wells, see Zenobius, Cent. I, 49,
text in Paroemiographi Graeci I (Leutsch and Schneidewin, 1839: 19, 10-11).
See Burkert (1985: 203-208) and Atal1ah (1966: 130).
celebration of an Adonis festival. Glatz concluded that there was a tri-
duum, a three days' celebration comprising in tum: l. hierogamy, 2. the
death and funeral of Adonis, and 3. the day of the 6ELK-rt1pwv, under-
stood by Glatz to refer to a mystic pantomime representing the resurrec-
tion of Adonis. Reminding the reader of Hosea 6:2, Glatz maintained
that in the third century B.C.E., the festival of Adonis in Egypt was a
triduum that concluded with the god's resurrection.
Three sequential
days are clearly referred to in the papyrus. However, the crucial term in
the text, 6ELK-rt1pwv, which is obviously a derivative of the verb bEixvu-
fH, "to show", has now been convincingly interpreted by M. Stol ( 1988)
in a way that seriously undermines Glatz's explanation. It is a semantic
loan, a calque, of Assyrian taklimtu. This Akkadian word is a derivative
of kullumu, "to show", and is "the normal term for the lying-in-state of
a dead body at a funeral" (p. 127). It is also used of "the 'display' of the
body of the god Tammuz when he is being bewailed" (p. 127).
means that there is no basic conflict between our papyrus text and the
picture we get from Theocritus. Neither document has anything to say
about a resurrection of Adonis or the idea of bilocation.
Let us now look at Cyril of Alexandria (d. in 444 C.E.). In his com-
mentary on Isaiah, Cyril retells the myth of Aphrodite and then tells
about the Adonis celebrations:
The Greeks celebrated this in a feast. They pretended to unite in weeping and
lamentations with Aphrodite when she was mourning Adonis' death [/.:un:mr
!!EVl] ... liLa -r;o nevavm -r;ov Al\wvw ]. Then, when she reappeared from the
Netherworld and announced that she had found [rp)pfjatlm] the one she had
been searching for, [they pretended] to unite in rejoicing and jumping [for joy].
And even today this comedy is still being performed in the temples of Alexan-
This passage in the Christian writer tells about the Adonis celebrations
in the temples of Alexandria. The rites have two phases: first mourning
and laments and then wild joy. The rites are explained by reference to
the Aphrodite-Adonis myth: Adonis disappears and Aphrodite carries
out a search for him in the Netherworld. She reports having found him,
but no express resurrection language is used.
Let us then summarize. The classical Adonis is not ascribed a resur-
rection, neither in the sources from Greece and Rome, nor in Thea-
Glotz (1920: 213: see also pp. 201, 221 ). For a tabulation of the entries of the text, see Glotz
(1920: 169170) and Gow (1938: 180-181).
On this rite, see below. Chap. VJI.I.2.-For other critical notes on Glotz's study, see Gow
(1938) and Atallah ( 1966: 136-140).
Cyril of Alexandria. In lsaiam 18:1-2 (PG 70: 441 ). My translation.
critus' description of the festival in Alexandria. There is, however, one
interesting difference between Theocritus and his predecessors: In
Theocritus there is not even an allusion to the idea of bilocation. insofar
as Adonis is not said to spend a major part of the year in the light. He
disappears and is not said to return until after twelve months. Unsurpris-
ingly, Theocritus denotes Adonis a "demigod''. It is only in Cyril of Al-
exandria, centuries later, that things are different. It seems most
probable to me that the celebration of the finding of Adonis, known
from Cyril, was an innovation in Alexandria, perhaps due to influences
from Syria.
During Ptolemaic times there were probably no rites ex-
pressingjoy over the return of Adonis from the Netherworld. Moreover,
we do not find allusions to the myth of bilocation. That this is so is well
in line with what can be inferred about the classical Adonis as a heros,
but it may also have something to do with the local character of Adonis.
In Alexandria, Adonis may have been closely associated with Osiris.
Osiris was not a dying and rising deity in the sense that he returned to
life on earth. He was for ever confined to the Netherworld. As Frankfort
put it, he was not a "dying god" but, paradoxically, "a dead god", and
"his resurrection meant his entry upon life in the Beyond."
We shall
return to Osiris in Chap. VI.
3. The God of the Semitic Levant
3.1. The Case for a Semitic Background for Adonis
Though there is vast evidence for the classical heros, there is consider-
ably less for the "Semitic Adonis". It is clear, however, that Adonis
somehow represents a Fremdkorper in Greek religion, traversing the es-
tablished borderline between life and death. Consequently, recent re-
search has tended to stress the Near Eastern background of the Greek
Adonis. 5
Adonis is expressly connected with Lebanon. 5
He is specif-
ically attested at a number of places in the ancient Near East: Antioch,
Laodicea, Byblos, Aphqa, Amathus (on Cyprus), Dura Europos, Beth-
See below on Lucian (De Dea Syria).
For Adonis and Osiris in Byblos, see below, Chap. VI.3.
Frankfort ([1948 =]1962: 185; see also 1958: 145-148). See also Assmann (1984: 151-159,
esp. p. 157). On Osiris, see Chap. VI.
Note especially Burkert ( 1979: I 06) and Ribichini, who has three subsequent chapters discuss-
ing Oriental aspects (1981: 73-144).
The connection between Adonis and Lebanon is obvious in texts such as Strabo, Ceo gr. XVI,
2, 19; Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorph. no. 34; Hesychius, Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon (ed.
M. Schmidt, 1858: p. 49, II. 30-31); Suda in Adler, ed. Suidae Lexicon, I: p. 53, no. 516).
lehem and, possibly, Emesa.
Adonis temples are only mentioned in
connection with Dura Europos, Amathus and, by inference, with a site
in Carthaginian North Africa.
It may be assumed, however, that
Adonis and his female consort shared the same sanctuary in a number
of cases. This arrangement was probably practised at Byblos, one of the
most important sites for Adonis worship.
Adonis is thus clearly attested in the ancient Near East. In line with
this, we find a number of features which are indications of the Semitic
pedigree of the Greek heros. I shall here limit myself to some points in
connection with the name Adonis and his epithet and to a feature in con-
nection with the rites.
1. The Name "Adonis" and the Epithet n cmn.-A century ago,
Kretschmer (1916) made the last serious attempt to maintain a Greek
origin for the name Adonis. Ever since Baudissin's massive refutation
(1916) there has been a consensus that the name is of Semitic stock.
And this is no new insight. Hesychius of Alexandria (a grammarian of
the fifth or sixth centuries C.E.) seems to take Adonis to be a name of
the Phoenician Baal: ... UJtO <I>mviKWV. Ka'l
It is obviously West Semitic >dn that forms the etymon of the
divine name. In Ugarit we find adn used about Yam,
and the
For Antioch. see Ammianus Marcellinus XXII, 9, 14-15; for Laodicea, see the inscription pub-
lished by Haussollier and Ingholt (1924: 333-336); for Byblos, see Lucian, De Dea Syria 6;
for Aphqa (20 km. east of Byblos), see Lipinski (1995: 105-108), referring (p. 105 note 284) to
Melito of Sardes, Apology 5, which is not available to me; for Dura Europos, see F. E. Brown
in Rostovtzeff, Brown, and Welles (1939: 135-175); for Bethlehem, see Jerome, Ep. 58,3 (Cor-
pus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, vol. 54), and see Galling (1930) and Welten
(1983). I cannot agree with Welten's attempt to discard Jerome's testimony (esp. p. 201). On
the possibility of an Adonis cult at Emesa, see Baudissin (1911: 86-87).-0n the local distri-
bution of Adonis cults, see Baudissin (1911: 81-93) and Ribichini (1981: 166-170).
For a temple at Dura Europos, see F.E. Brown in Rostovtzeff, Brown, and Welles ( 1939: 135-
175 ); for Amathus, see Pausanias IX, 41, 2-3; for northern Africa (Bechateurffhisi), note the
title sacerdos Adonis, see Baudissin (1911: 68) and Lipinski (DCPP: 7a).
On Byblos, see the studies assembled in Acquaro et alii, eds., Biblo: una citta e Ia sua cultura
Hesychius. Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon (ed. M. Schmidt, 1858: p. 49, II. 30-31 ). The edition
of K. Latte (Hauvniae 1963ff. p. 45) has the reading llwrrcn:ru:; (Jerker Blomqvist, p.c.). On the
formulation in Hesychius, see Eissfeldt (I 970a: 17) and Lipinski (1995: 90). Burkert (1979:
192 n. 3 at the end) does not see a reference here to Baal but takes the crucial word to mean 'a
throw of dice". Note, however that there is a theophoric element -bot in certain Palmyrene per-
sonal names (and divine names). Gese ( 1970: 226) takes this as a contracted form of Baal. Teix-
idor ( 1977: 106: 113 ), on the other hand, takes Bol as the name of the local deity, whose name
is later changed into Bel under influence from Mesopotamian Bel Marduk.
KTU 1.2.1: 17 and 34.
KTU 1.3.V: 9: note Pardee's reading (COS 1: 254 n. 103).
- r- ... ,..,....,....
- .
Attempts to find attestations for this epithet used about Late
Bronze Age Baal have not yet been successful.
This lacuna in the dis-
tribution of the epithet could, however, well be due to the chances of
preservation. In Phoenician material, the epithet is used with Eshmun
(KAI 32), Reshep (KAI 41 ), and Melqart (KA/ 47). In Punic material the
epithet is used with Baal Hamon (KAI 63), Baal (KAI 99), Baal Sham-
em (KAI 64), Eshmun (KAI 66), and others. The epithet is thus used in
connection with various deities.
The divine name Adonis thus contains the common West Semitic
word for "lord".
The is either a Greek morpheme, used
for noun formation, or a reflection of the West Semitic pronominal suf-
fix for the first person singular. In the latter case, the name Adonis can
be understood as reflecting the Semitic invocation >dny, "my lord!"
The West Semitic >dn was used for various deities, but we shall soon
see that the cultic centre par preference of West Semitic Adon(is) was
Byblos. It seems to be in this city that the epithet developed into a
proper name. In Byblos, Adon(is) was the young male god and partner
of the goddess, holding the same position as Eshmun at Sidon and
Melqart at Tyre.
Furthermore, the Semitic epithet of this god also seems to have been
preserved, namely n 'mn, "the beautiful, pleasant, lovely one". Thus, I sa
17:10 refers to what seems to be Adonis gardens, made for "Naaman"
(see below). Plutarch records the name of the mythic queen of Byblos
as Astarte, and adds that others called her Nemanous.
Though rejected
by some,
it seems more reasonable to accept the suggestion of a Sem-
itic background for this name of Astarte, who is otherwise closely
linked with precisely Adon(is). I thus understand "Nemanous" as con-
sisting of n 'mn plus a nominal termination that adapts it to Greek mor-
KIU 1.6.VI: 58.
Loretz earlier tried to find such a case in KTU 1.124: 1, see Loretz (1980: 287-292, esp. 289-
290), but see now Tropper (1989: 154) and Dietrich and Loretz (1990: 214-217).
See also Baudissin ( 1911: 66 ).
On this epithet, see Baudissin ( 1916: 423-442), Eissfeldt ( 1970a), Dietrich and Loretz and San-
martin (1975), Sanmartin (1977) and Loretz (1980).
This alternative receives a certain support from EA 84:33, see Cross (apud Moran, The Amarna
Letters, 1992: 156 n. 10). See also below.-Greek formations with-....; are mostly feminine and
generally have the stress on the iota, see Michael Meier (1975: 67). Adonis deviates from this
pronounciation. My thanks to Jerker Blomqvist for making this point (p.c.). Another exception
from these rules is found in "Ompu;;.
Plutarch, De /side et Osiride 357B ( 15).
See Griffiths (1970: 327 with refs.).
As suggested by Delcor ( 1978: 385).
It is also clear that the flower anemone (avqA.WVYJ) is closely con-
nected with Adonis. The connection between Adonis' blood and the
anemone is found in Bion of Smyrna (ca. 100 B.C.E.), in Ovid a century
later, and in the scholia to Theocritus; moreover, Adonis is identified in
Nonnos with the anemone.
Added to this is the fact that Arabs oflater
times called the anemone saqii >iq an-Nu 'man, which is often, though
without proper justification, rendered "the wounds of Numan".
also note that the river Belus in the Plain of Acre is called Nahr
Nu'mein, properly a diminutive of Na 'miin.
The flower, then, probably received its name from a West Semitic
epithet of Adon(is), formed from the root n em with an adjectival -n
The word n em figures prominently in KTU 1.113, but the
reference is unclear.
In this context, it should also be mentioned that the names given for
Adonis' parents point to a Semitic background.7
According to Hesi-
od,75 Adonis was the son of Phoinix and Alphesiboia; according to
he was the offspring of an incestuous relation between
Thias, the king of the Assyrians-which should be understood as refer-
ring to the Syrians
-and his daughter Smyrna, who was later turned
into a myrrh tree. In the tenth month, the tree split open and Adonis was
born. Ribichini treats the names Phoinix and Smyrna as Levantine as-
pects of the Adonis myth.
2. The Rite.-According to textual evidence, Adonis rites were per-
formed on the roofs of houses.
The iconography contains some strik-
ing scenes in which ladders are outstanding features.
Sacral activities
Bion, Lament for Adonis II. 64-66. text in Gow (Bucolici Graeci, 1952: 155), Scho/ia in The-
ocritum V, 92e-f (Wendel 1914: p. 174), Ovid, Metamorph. X, 725-739, and Nonnos, Diony-
siaca II, 88.
Albright (1940: 297f.). See also Delcor (1978: 387-388). Albright points out that we do not
know what the first Arabic word means: the usual explanation "wounds" is lexicographically
Albright (1940: 298).
I thus agree with Lewy (1895: 49), Albright (1940: 297f.), and others.
Lines 2, 4, 6, 9, 10. On this, see Wyatt (RTU: 400, n. 7).
On his genealogy, see Ata11ah (1966: 33-39) and Ribichini (1981: 45-57).
Hesiod, Hesiodi Carmina, (ed. Rzach, Teubner, 1913: Fragm. 32).
Apollodorus, The Library III, 14, 4.
See Oden (1977: 3 n. 6).
Ribichini (1981: 45-57).
See for instance Aristophanes, Lysistrata 389, 395, and Menandros, Samia 45. On Samia 35-
50, see Weill (1970: 591-593).
See Weill ( 1966: 664-674) for iconographical material and a good discussion (note pp. 668.
671 ). On the iconography, see also LIMC I, 2. p. 170. nos. 48a. 48b, 49.
.__ .. -
: i
that take place on the roof are an oddity in Greek religion but are more
common in the Canaanite world.
We shall now peruse the meagre evidence for the Levantine god. We
shall start with the Christian writers Origen and Jerome and work our
way backwards, against the current of time. This procedure will take us
to De Dea Syria and to some formulations in the Amarna letters almost
one and a half millennia earlier.
Before dealing with this material, however, we should note that a
passage with one of the rare attestations of Adonis gardens in the
Levant, namely, Isaiah 17: 10-11, expresses a symbolism of death and
'I kn tt'y nt'y n'mnym wzmn zr tzr'nw
bywm nt'k tsgsgy wbbqr zr'k tpryl)y
nd q$yr bywm nl)lh wk 'b 'nws
I translate this as follows:
though you may plant gardens in honour of Naaman
and set out slips for the alien [god],
though you make them grow on the day you plant them
and make your seeds sprout on the morning that you sow-
yet, the harvest will flee away
in a day of grief and incurable pain.
There are, however, other indications to show that Adonis was a god,
who was not exclusively connected with sterility and death, and to these
we now turn.
3.2. Origen and Jerome
Confirmation of this preliminary analysis of the eastern Adon(is), the
Levantine god, is found in the circumstance that he was indeed in-
See Burkert (1979: 106 and the refs. on p. 192, n. 8). Note Emar Vl.3.370: 4lff. and from Israel
2 Kgs 23:12; Jer 19:13; 32:29; Zeph 1:5, and from Moab Isa 15:3 and Jer 48:38. I owe the Emar
reference to Daniel Fleming (p.c.). On Isa 15:3, see Bonnet (1987b).
On n'mnym as a divine designation, Naaman, that is understood as an epithet of Adonis, see
Wildberger (1978: 638, and also pp. 634, 655-661) and Delcor (1978: 384-393). The formula-
tion is either a double plural "Naaman gardens" (cf. GKC 124 q) or a case of mem enc/iti-
cum.-Ribichini (1981: 94-98) does not take the passage to allude to Adonis gardens.
I take the suffix in tzr'nw as indicating a dative, literally: "and though you set out for him [alien
See BHS, the text-critical apparatus.
( -
:t a
timately linked with the growth and sprouting of vegetation. This fea-
ture is well attested in the West Semitic world. Admittedly, the
attestations are late, but we shall try, in a subsequent step of this invest-
igation, to reach behind those I am here thinking of, namely, Origen,
Jerome, Porphyry, and Amrnianus Marcellinus.
Origen (ca. 185-253) was born in Alexandria, but from 231 he spent
his life in Caesarea. He was thus well acquainted with life in Palestine
in the third century C.E. In his Selecta in Ezechielem VIII, 12, Origen
says that,
Tov A-ry6flrvov nap ' "EAA't]mv "AowvLv, 8aflfloul;, <j>am KaA1o6m nap'
flpaiou:;- Ka'L Iupou:;- ... OoKoum yap Ka-i vwur:ov TEAn:ili;- nmrt:v, npwmv
flEV &n 6p't]VOUOLV mhov Ox;; T6V't]KOTU' 0U'tpov OE &n xaipoumv :ri auniJ Ox;;
<'mo VEKpwv avaOT<lV'tL O'l OE nrp'l 'tlJV avaywyljv TWV' EAA't]VlKWV flU6wv oavo'L
Ka'L flU6LKijc;- VOflLl;,OflEV't]c;- <j>ao'L 1:ov "AowvLv oUflfloA-ov rlvaL Twv
1:ijc;- yijc;- Kapnwv, 6p't]VOUflEVWV flfV ihr onripoV'tm, avwTaflvwv o, Ka'L OLa
TOUTO xaipav noWUV'tWV Toile; yrwpyovc;- ihr <j>UoV'tm.
The god whom the Greeks call Adonis is called Tammuz, as they say, among
the Jews and among the Syrians ... They seem to perform some sort of initiation
rites every year, first, because they bewail him as if he were dead, and second,
because they rejoice on his behalf as if he had risen from the dead. Those who
are knowledgeable about the deeper interpretation of the Greek myths and what
is called mythic theology say that Adonis is the symbol of the fruits of the earth,
which are mourned when they are sown, but which rise, thereby causing joy
among the farmers when they [the seeds] grow up.
The name Tammuz in Ezek 8:14 is here understood to refer to Adonis.
We note that the annual celebration of Adonis as described by Origen
had two subsequent steps: (1) Adonis is bewailed as though he were
dead. (2) Then there was a celebration of joy on his behalf "as if he had
risen from the dead". Origen also tells us that his literate contemporaries
interpret this as symbolizing the fate of the seeds that are sown. There
is thus in our passage a connection between Adonis and the cycle of
The same passage in Ezekiel is also commented upon by Jerome
(Explan. in Ezech. III, 8,14).
We know that Jerome was well acquain-
ted with the writings of Origen and also translated a number of them.
Nevertheless, we have reasons to believe that his statements about the
worship of Adonis are due to independent observation. Jerome (ca. 345-
419) spent a considerable part of his life in the Levant, first several years
PG 13: col. 797-800.
My translation.
On this, see Baudissin ( 1911: 94-97) and Zimmerli ( 1969: 220-221 ).
PL 25: col. 82-83.
! :
in Syria and then from 386 on in Bethlehem. In one of his letters (Ep.
58, 3) he records that there was between the reigns of Hadrian and Con-
stantine, a ~ r o v of Adonis in Bethlehem where the lover of Venus was
In his commentary on Ezekiel Jerome tells us:
What we have rendered as Adonis, the Hebrew and Syrian languages denote as
Tammuz. According to a pagan tale, Venus' lover, a very beautiful youth, is
killed [occisus l in the month of June. After this, he is said to have risen [revix-
isse], and the month of June is named after him. There is an annual celebration
of his feast, in which women bewail him as dead [mortuus!, and then he is
praised in song when he returns to life [reviviscens]. Subsequently, it is shown
what the leaders and "elders of the house of Israel" did in the temple, in "the
darkness" and in "the chambers". The sins of the "women" are also described:
they "complain" about their loss of intercourse with their lovers, and they re-
joice if they can regain it. The same pagans interpret, in a subtle manner, the
poets' narratives of a similar kind, narratives about shameful things: they under-
stand the sequence of wailing and joy as referring to the death and resurrection
of Adonis. They take his death [inteifectionem] to be shown by the seeds that
die in the earth, and his resurrection by the crops in which the dead seeds are
Jerome seems to allude to the killing of Adonis by the boar (occisus, in-
terfectio), a notice that we do not find in Origen. He seems to be mis-
taken about the time: he assigns the rites to June instead of July (the
month of Tammuz). Otherwise, he basically agrees with this previous
writer, both in the order of the celebration (first mourning, then joy), in
which the resurrection of Adonis (revixisse) is the cause of the joy, and
in the association with the vegetation: Adonis' fate symbolized the
death and rebirth of the seed that is sown. It is important to note that
there is no hint in Origen or Jerome that the pagans were imitating
Christian concepts. Nothing in these passages indicates that they con-
tain a Christian misreading of the pagan material.
The idea of Adonis' death and resurrection, of his descent to the
Netherworld and his return from there, thus appears as a mythological
paradigm for the life of vegetation. The same connection appears in
Porphyry, a native of Phoenician Tyre, born 234 C.E. According to him,
Adonis is the symbol of the harvest of ripe fruit.
Ammianus Marcel-
linus, a Roman historian from Antioch in Syria (b. c. 330 C.E.), in his
Text in Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Epistulae, vol. 1 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Lati-
norum 54, 1996: 531-532). Welten (1983: esp. p. 201) tries to reinterpret this information as
referring to a mourning rite connected with the killing of the children at Bethlehem. This is
sheer speculation.
Jerome, Explan. in EzYh. III, 8, 14 (PL 25: 82f.). Translation by Sten Hidal (p.c.). The literal
connections with Ezek 8:7-14 have been put within quotation marks.
te as
th. is
I t-
z m
he is
y re-
r 1e
o r-
; that
b re
r s-
. m
. the
l lg
, 1e
~ i c l
r m
l n,
r ~ i s
1 Lati-
:ion as
[ > is
brief note on the Adonis celebration in Antioch, testifies to the same
In summary: The symbolism of death and transitoriness that is so
prominent in the Greek material for Adonis cannot without further ado
be said to be valid for the Levant. While we find this symbolism in Isa
17: 10-11, a certain amount of evidence tells a different story. The myth
of bilocation, which we found reason to connect with Levantine
Adon(is), is a myth that presupposes the return of Adonis. In line with
this, writers like Origen and Jerome tell about the death and resurrection
of Adonis and understand this as a paradigm for the life of vegetation.
Porphyry and Ammianus Marcellinus are further witnesses to this con-
nection between Adonis and the life of the vegetation. What we find in
a scholion on Theocritus which identifies Adonis with the seeds of
grain, spending six months in the earth with Persephone, and six on the
earth with Aphrodite,
may thus be fairly isolated in Greek tradition
but certainly falls in line with what we know of the Levantine Adon(is).
3.3. De Dea Syria 6 on Adonis
If we move backwards in time from the testimonies we have just
studied, we arrive at an important piece of information about the Levan-
tine Adon(is) in a passage found in Lucian's (or Pseudo-Lucian's) De
Dea Syria 6-8, probably from the second century C.E.
There is
some disagreement about the source-critical issues raised by this
One has often disregarded the information about religion in an-
cient Syria that is found in the work. This is partly due to the assumption
that the work was written by Lucian of Samosata. Since this author is
known for his sceptical attitude towards religion, it is often concluded
that De Dea Syria intends to ridicule the cults of Hierapolis and By bios.
The question of authorship is therefore important to us.
A number of
scholars, notably Oden, have decided in favour of Lucian.
have taken the opposite position.
Ammianus Marcellinus XXII. 9, 15: "the festival of Adonis ... a festival which is symbolic of
the reaping of the ripe fruits of the field."
Scholia in Theocritum HI, 48 (Wendell914: 131).
The text I use is Attridge and Oden (The Syrian Goddess, 197n), with their translation.
See Oden (1977: 4-14).
For a survey of the debate, see Oden (1977: 4-14).
See Oden (1977: 14-40) and the references listed in Dirven (1997: 154-155). On Lucian, see
Nesselrath ( 1999)"
H See the references in Dirven ( 1997: 171, n. 10).
The issue was recently reopened when Lucinda Dirven submitted a
major paper on it ( 1997). Her conclusion is clear. The anonymous work
was not written by Lucian. Her starting point is the allegation of the au-
thor that he is an "Assyrian". or rather, Syrian.
Moreover, she makes
a distinction between what he has seen himself and what he has learned
from the priests ( 1).
This could of course be a topos, but the in-
formation he offers in his work is indeed of the kind to inspire respect
for his general reliability and accuracy.
Dirven notes that scholars
who defend a Lucianic authorship employ a circular argument: Lucian
is a satirist on religion; De Dea Syria was written by Lucian; the work
is serious on religion; it must therefore be intended as a parody; the
irony of the work proves that Lucian was its author.
Dirven stresses
that the imitation of the style of Herodotus can be read as a homage to
one of the first Greek ethnographers, just as the resemblance between
Pausanias' Description of Greece and the Histories of Herodotus is usu-
ally explained by saying that the former is a guide book with historical,
religious, and mythological digressions.
Recent studies, notably those by Oden and Dirven, make De Dea
Syria appear as a major work on Syrian religion that deserves an attent-
ive hearing. Let us then listen to what this ancient writer has to say about
Adonis in a passage that I here cite from the translation by Attridge and
Oden (1976):
(6) I did see, however, in Byblos a great sanctuary of Aphrodite of Byblos in
which they perform the rites of Adonis, and I learned about the rites. They say,
at any rate, that what the boar did to Adonis occurred in their territory. As a me-
morial of his suffering each year they beat their breasts, mourn, and celebrate
the rites. Throughout the land they perform solemn lamentations. When they
cease their breast-beating and weeping, they first sacrifice to Adonis as if to a
dead person, but then, on the next day, they proclaim that he Jives and send him
into the air. They also shave their heads, as do the Egyptians when Apis dies.
The women who refuse to shave pay this penalty: For a single day they stand
offering their beauty for sale. The market, however, is open to foreigners only
and the payment becomes an offering to Aphrodite.
(7) There are some inhabitants of Byblos who say that the Egyptian Osiris is
buried among them and that all the laments and the rites are performed not for
Adonis but for Osiris. I will also tell you on what grounds they consider this ac-
99 See Oden (1977: 3 n. 6).
See I, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 37, 42, 48, 60. Listed by Soyez (1977: 29 n. 65).
See the discussion in Oden (1977: chaps. I and IV) and Dirven (1997: 159-169).
Dirven (1997: 158).
Dirven (1997: 156-157). Lucinda Dirven informs me that Jane Lightfoot (Oxford) is about to
publish a major study of De Dea Syria (p.c.). I anticipate that the issue of authorship will be
fully discussed there.
count to be reliable. Each year a head comes from Egypt to Byblos, making the
voyage in seven days, and the winds carry it by divine guidance. It does not tum
aside in any direction, but comes only to Byblos. This is quite miraculous. It oc-
curs every year; indeed, it happened while I was present in Byblos and I saw the
"Byblian" head.
(8) There is also another marvel in the land of Byblos. A river from Mount Leb-
anon empties into the sea. Adonis is the name given to the river. Each year the
river becomes blood red and, having changed its color, flows into the sea and
reddens a large part of it, giving a signal for lamentations to the inhabitants of
Byblos. They tell the story that on these days Adonis is being wounded up on
Mt. Lebanon and his blood, as it goes into the water, alters the river and gives
the stream its name ....
This passage, and especially 6, appears to describe various subsequent
steps in the celebration of Adonis in and around Byblos.
(1) "Throughout the land" there are n:y8ra, "great lamenta-
In memory of Adonis' suffering the participants of the cult
"beat their breasts" (Tun:Tovtm), thus following Semitic custom.
(2) The next stage of celebrations, whether on the same day or on the
next one, takes place when the mourning rites have ceased ("when they
cease their breast-beating and weeping"). What now comes is a funerary
sacrifice to Adonis: Kmayil;,oum T0 'ADwYLDL oKwc; EOvtl YEKm, "they I
sacrifice to Adonis as if to a dead person". The word YEK1J:; may be used
of the dead in the Netherworld; however, it may also be used in the con-
crete sense of a "corpse, dead body". This might then point to the pres-
ence of some material representation of the dead Adonis, such as an
image, statuette, puppet or something similar.
(3) On the subsequent day, the day after the sacrifice, the mood of
the rites changes: 6 Ti] hp1J l;,wrw TE
Ka'L k TOY i]pa This formulation must be properly dis-
Let us start with the last expression, k TOY i]pa which is
one that has initiated a number of speculations.
Roux blazed the trail
for the interpretation that seems to me to be the correct one. "Into the
For previous discussions of this passage, see esp. Lambrechts (1955: 232-234 ), Atallah ( 1966:
261-263), Roux (1967: 262-264), Seyrig (1972a: 97-100), Will (1975 93-105). and Soyez
(1977: 28-43).
Note that "great lamentation(s)" could reflect a Semitic term; see Zech 12: II with the juxta-
position of the verb gdl and the noun mspd.
On beating the breast. see Gruber ( 1980: 434-456). Note Hebrew spd and mspd
See Soyez (1977: 38).
For a survey. see Eissfe1dt 1 1970b). Lambrechts ( 1955: 233f.) took it to refer to a sort of Djed
pillar being raised into the atr by means of ropes. Robertson ( 1982: 334) took it to refer to a rite
in which Adonis was "volatilized by means of cremation.
! :
, 'I
i I
' i ' '
, I
air". he says, means "into open air", as opposed to the confined atmo-
sphere of a closed locality. The use of the verb in this passage about a
religious ceremony is best understood as a synonym of JtO!!JtEilom, and
the whole expression refers to a rite in which Adonis, in effigy, was es-
corted in a procession (JtO!!Jt{j) into open air, from the darkness of a
closed chapel.
I would like to add that this sense is well illustrated by
a passage from Firmicus Matemus, which probably refers to a different
deity but one who was worshipped with a highly similar rite. He says
that "You bury an idol, you lament an idol, you bring forth from its
sepulture an idol ... " (Idolum sepelis, idolum plangis, idolum de sepul-
tura proferis ... ).
There is thus a procession from the tomb of Adon-
Let us then turn to the first expression in the passage, t;wnv TE !-ltv
!-l'U8oA.oyouat. We may understand this in two different ways. (a) Is it
a general, non-specific expression, meaning roughly "they say that he
or "they proclaim that he lives"?
(b) Or, again, does it con-
vey a technical, ritual sense, "they recite the myth of his resurrec-
ferhaps with a note of irony, "they recite the fable that he
Since the context is a ritual one and deals with a procession
from the tomb of the deity, the expression might refer to the ritual recital
of the myth of Adonis' return to life.
Whether or not it contains a note
of irony is of little consequence to our investigation.
The passage in De Dea Syria does not say anything explicitly about
what time of year the celebrations take place. Soyez has studied circum-
stantial evidence and has arrived at the conclusion that the date for the
Byblos rites was roughly the same as in Greece, that is, the middle of
summer, in mid-July.
The passage in our text then refers to the annual celebration of Adon-
is rites, which included ritual mourning and a procession from the tomb
of Adonis. The Adonis rites are interpreted by a reference to the Adonis
myth: Adonis is killed by a boar but returns to life ("they recite the myth
Roux (1967: 263).
Firmicus Matemus, De errore prof ref. XXII, 3 (Ziegler), trans!. in Forbes (1970: 93f.). ?ode-
mann Sli!rensen (1989: 73-86) concludes that the passage does not refer to Adonis or Attis, but
rather to an Egyptian ritual.
On the tomb of Adonis, see Soyez (1977: 41-43).
Seyrig ( 1972a: 98).
Attridge and Oden (1976:13).
Thus Roux (1967: 263).
Thus Notscher (1980: 87).
Note the use of !luEli:o!lm, "tell the story that ... " in 8 (middle).
Soyez (1977: 45-75).
of his return to life"). The rites are performed "as a memorial" of the
mythical events.
One detail that merits a brief comment here, before we leave De Dea
Syria, is the rite of shaving one's head. The author compares this to a
feature of the cult of Apis, but tonsure is also a well-known Semitic ex-
pression of mourning.
I am inclined to compare this to a feature re-
ported by Herodotus and Strabo for the Ishtar cult of Babylon: women
who offer themselves to strangers in the grove of Aphrodite/Ishtar do so
wearing "crowns of cord on their heads".
We are then in a position to summarize our perusal of De De a Syria.
Recent research tends to stress its general reliability. What we have in
Greece is a women's festival of a private nature, celebrated on the
rooftops of private houses. In De Dea Syria we are confronted with a
more public affair, with a sort of chapel in focus. The rites are described
as taking place in subsequent steps: a great mourning throughout the
land, a funerary sacrifice to Adonis, the recitation of the myth of his re-
turn to life, his resurrection, and, as the ritual expression of this, a pro-
cession bringing the effigy of Adonis from his tomb into the open air.
The funerary sacrifice and the celebration of the god's resurrection take
place on two subsequent days. If the great mourning throughout the land
takes place on a separate day before the funerary sacrifice, then we have
here a ritual cycle of three subsequent days, a triduum, with the resur-
rection on the third day, but this remains a moot point due to the lack of
information about the duration of the great mourning.
What is of out-
standing importance for the present investigation is that our passage,
though late, presents evidence that the Levantine Adon(is) was a god
who was believed not only to die but to rise again
and whose death
and resurrection were ritually represented in a series of annual celebra-
tions that took place during two, or, perhaps, three subsequent days.
Let us here stop for a moment and consider the attempts of previous
research to come to grips with the references to Adonis' resurrection.
(l) Lambrechts stresses that there are two groups of source material: an
See Job 1:20; Jer 16:6; 48:37 and Amos 8:10. Thus, I cannot agree with Eissfeldt (1970b: 240)
who takes it as an expression of joy.
Herodotus I, 199; Strabo, Geogr. XVI, I, 20. Cf. I Kgs 20:31 where the wearing of ropes on
the head is an expression of grief and self-humiliation.
Dochhorn (1998). who criticizes the triduum interpretation, is right about the syntax ("danach
aber, am anderen Tage", p. 203, thus the same understanding as in Oden's translation above),
but he overlooks the possibility that the great mourning took place on a separate day, before the
funerary sacrifice. A triduum is therefore still an open possibility.
On this I agree with Seyrig (1972a: 97-100. esp. p. 100), Soyez (1977: 35-43). and Ribichini
(1981: 156-159).
,eo:.:..., .).
1:!5: ~ . : . : ~
early group of material from the classical world without any hint at
Adonis' resurrection, and a later group, where we find references to his
resurrection (De Dea Syria, Origen, Cyril). Here the resurrection is due
to Osiris concepts, a conclusion bolstered by Lambrechts in his inter-
pretation that "sending into the air" the dead Adonis refers to raising a
Djed pillar by means of ropes.
The interpretation given above of the
crucial formulations makes Lambrechts's suggestion superfluous. (2)
Will, in tum, conjectures that Origen and Cyril viewed the Adonis ma-
terial through Christian glasses and thus saw references to the resurrec-
tion of Adonis, while the cultic reality of his worship actually contained
nothing of the sort. His interpretation was well received by J.Z.
Will's approach necessitates some source-critical reflexions after
our discussion of Origen, Jerome, and De Dea Syria.
The two first-
mentioned are Christian writers who were probably critical of the phe-
nomena they reported. This appears from such formulations in the pas-
sage from Jerome as "the poet's narratives ... about shameful things"
that the pagans interpret "in a subtle manner". What the Christian writer
refers to is not his own but the pagans' interpretation of the Adonis myth
(and probably also the Adonis rites). It is then very difficult to neglect
such passages as representing a Christian misreading of the evidence in
the way that Will suggests. The practitioners of the Adonis cults
claimed death and resurrection for their god, for Adonis.
A different question is why they raised this claim. We must realize
that the Adonis cults were exposed to strong competition from the
Christian church. Could the notion of the resurrection of Adonis per-
haps be a feature "confiscated" from Christianity? To ask that question
is to ask whether or not we have reasons to think that Adonis was a dy-
ing and rising god already in pre-Christian times.
As for Levantine Adon(is) during the Iron Age we are confronted with
a vast lacuna on our map: the material is simply non-existent, or at least
not yet discovered. A possible exception is found in some Assyrian
documents of the seventh century B.C.E. where we see West Semitic
anthroponyms that contain the element A-du-ni/nu. Among these, the
Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire lists Adilni-i.fJ )a, written
m A-du-ni-i.fJ-a. Lipinski interprets the name as "May my lord keep
Lambrechts (1955: 231-235).
Will (1975) and J.Z. Smith (1987: 522a bottom).
I would here like to thank my student Lasse Bemdes for a valuable conversation about the
source-critical issues involved.
alive!" and connects the theophoric element with Adonis.
Since we
know that various deities can be designated as )dn, we cannot be sure
that it is the god later known as Adonis that is referred to in this theo-
phoric name.
The situation is thus unclear. Indeed, the person thus
named may have been a Judean.
As I said, the first millennium is largely a lacuna on our map. There
seems to me to be one possible way of handling this deplorable situa-
tion, and this is to search for Late Bronze Age material, especially for
the male god at Byblos, from which we could make at least some infer-
ences about the nature of this deity. If the features we find during this
early period agree with important characteristics of Adonis of later
times, then there may be a certain justification for extrapolating and in-
ferring that this was also valid for Iron Age Adon(is). Indeed, there is
one potential but not uncontroversial piece of evidence of this sort,
namely, the Amama letter no. 84. To this we now tum. I want to stress
from the outset, however, the tentative nature of the following discus-
3.4. Byblos: The Amarna Letter No. 84 with Damu (Adonis?)
1. EA No. 84.-In the Amama letters (mid fourteenth century
B.C.E.) there is one document, a letter from Rib-Hadda of Byblos, that
may or may not contain an allusion to the Byblian god Adon(is), name-
ly, EA 84:31-35:
May my lord send men to take the possessions of dDA.MU-ia to the king, my
lord, lest that dog take the possessions of your god.
The crucial formulation in lines 31-33 runs as follows in the Akkadian
u lu-wa-si-ra be-li-ia Lumes u ti-fl-qu mi-im-mimes dDA.MU-ia
The designation dDA.MU-ia has been understood in two different
Lipinski in Radner (1998: 54) and in (1995: 90).
Tallqvist (1914: 13) took the name without further ado to refer to Adonis and gave two possible
interpretations of it: either as "Adonis alive" or "Adonis brother", of which Baudissin ( 1911:
67) preferred the latter.
He measured wheat in Nineveh in accordance with the Judean cubic unit. see Eph' al ( 1973: pp
xxv and 203) and Zadok (1977-78: 40).
llX The translations from the t'A texts are from Moran. The Amarna Letlers ( 1992). unless other-
wise stated.
i I
i I!'
(I) In 1915 Otto Schroeder discussed our passage. To him it was
clear from the context and from the determinative that it refers to a de-
ity. He concluded that this deity is Darou, a designation he found in
close connection with Tammuz, as a name or an epithet of this god.
Moran, in his translation of the Amama letters, adopted this interpreta-
tion and even preferred to render the name "Darou" as "Adonis": "to
take the possessions of my Adonis."
(2) Nadav Na'aman, on the
other hand, failed to see any reference here to a god Darou. Instead, he
argued that the reference here is to a goddess, the Lady of B yblos.
The matter is obviously of some importance to our investigation.
The question is whether or not one of the Amama letters from Byblos
contains a reference to a male deity denoted as Damu, a name closely
associated with Tammuz, at least during the first millennium B.C.E. We
must therefore deal properly with the crucial formulation in EA 84.
Na'aman's main arguments for his conclusion may be summarized as
(1) Everywhere else in the Amama letters it is the Lady of Byblos
that figures as the main deity ofthis city. Note the blessing formula that
appears so frequently in the letters from Byblos: "May the Lady of Gub-
la grant power to the king."
(2) The designation in EA 84:33 is parallel to "your [Pharaoh's]
god" in 84:35. Only three gods are otherwise referred to in the Amama
letters as deities of the Pharaoh: Amon, the Sun-God and the Lady of
(3) EA 132:53-55, a passage in another letter from Rib-Hadda, con-
tains a formulation that seems to give the clue to the identity of the deity
in EA 84. It is a formulation closely parallel to the one cited above:
us-si-ra gisMAmes ti-11-qu mi-im-[mres d]NIN u ia-ti
Send ships to fetch the Lady's property and me.
Na'aman thus concludes that the reference in dDA.MU-ia in EA 84:33
is to the Lady of Byblos. The indications are strong but not conclusive,
since there are certain difficulties inherent in the argument.
Against the interpretation reached by Na'aman the following obser-
vations call for attention:
(1) A letter from the same king of Byblos contains the formulation,
Schroeder (1915).
Moran, The Amarna Letters (1992: 155, cf. p. 386). Lipinski (1995: 191 n. 509) comments on
Moran's rendering of EA 84:33: "une traduction trop 1ibre et anachronique".
Na'aman (1990: 248-250).
In previous discussions of Adonis, EA 84 was referred to by Ribichini (1981: 190), Bonnet
(1993: 32-33) and M.S. Smith (1998: 286) .
If there are no archers this year, then send ships to fetch me, along with [my]
living god [u-us-si-ra gisMA mes ti-11-qu-ni qa-du DINGIRmes ba-al-til,
my lord. (EA 129:49-51)
It seems reasonable to believe that the "living god"
in this passage
refers to the same deity as in EA 84:31-33.
In order to sustain his
conclusion that EA 84:33 refers to the Lady of Byblos, Na'aman sug-
gests: "The 'living god' (better 'goddess') is an honorific title of the
Lady of Byblos."
I find this a bit strained, since the form is a mascu-
line ba-al-ti.
(2) Na'aman's interpretation of the designation in EA 84:33 is also
strained. He transliterates EA 84:33 DINGIR da-mu-ia and understands
this as the West Semitic word for "blood" with the divine determinative.
He continues, "The blood ( damu) is the sign of human life and vitality,
conveying the same idea as the adjective baltu in EA 129:51. A tentative
translation of EA 84:33 is 'the goddess, my vitality', or the like."
while there are early attestations of "proto-Syrian" damu in the sense of
this is hardly an understanding that suits the present con-
(3) It is also worth noticing the circumstance that in spite of the fre-
quency with which the Lady of Byblos is mentioned in the Byblos let-
ters, there is nowhere else a reference to her as ddamuia.
( 4) A deity called Damu is indeed known from the Fertile Cres-
and there is material from Ebla, Mari, and U garit that is relev-
ant in this contextJ
Ever since the study of Schroeder (1915), this is
also the way the formulation has been understood, until the publication
ofNa'aman's study.
The differences mentioned under points 1 and 2
disappear if one concludes that dDA.MU-ia connotes this deity. On
Damu, see below.
Conclusion: The observations adduced by Na'aman fail to convince
us that Schroeder's interpretation should be rejected. On the contrary,
the natural interpretation of EA 84:33 is to find here a reference to a
For the plural of excellence here, see Rainey (1996 vol. 1: 147-148) and cf. GKC 124 g.
For the conclusion that "living" refers to the god and not to the king (contra Knudtzon 1915
vol. 1: 551), see Moran (1960: 4 n. 3): the text reads balti and not balta(m).
As was pointed out by Moran, The Amarna Letters (1992: 211 n. 23).
Na'aman (1990: 250).
Na'aman (1990: 250).
See Bonechi (1997: 477-481). I owe this reference to Daniel Fleming (p.c.).
See Edzard (WdM l: 50-51).
See below.
The following argue in line with Schroeder: Hess (1986: 160), Lipinski (1987: 94), Moran. The
Amarna Letters (1992: 155), and Rainey ( 1996: vol. I: 120-121 ).-Na'aman's interpretation.
again, receives qualified support from Xella (1994: 195-214, p. 200).
~ : ~
0 ~
, I'
male deity denoted as Damu. Moreover. this deity is mentioned by the
king as "my Damu". And one further point: passages entreating Pharaoh
to send men or alternatively ships to fetch the property of Damu (EA 84)
and that of the Lady of Byblos (EA 132) indicate that we have here a
divine couple.
2. The Identity of the Local Male Deity.-So far we have moved on
the textual level. We must now proceed to the extra-textual world of the
cultic reality at Byblos. In order to ascertain the local, Byblian name of
the deity that the scribe referred to by the designation "Damu" we now
ask whether there is other Semitic evidence for a male deity of Byblos
during the Bronze Age and Iron Age? It is the merit of Corinne Bonnet
to have called attention to the existence of a Baal of Byblos.
points to two important pieces of evidence.
(a) In the first place, there is a tenth century B.C.E. reference to b'/
gbl. As Bonnet points out, there is no compelling reason to deviate from
the attested reading in the Y ehimilk inscription (middle of the tenth cen-
tury) which lists b'l smm. wb'l gbl. wmpbrt. >J gbl qdsm, "Baal Sham-
em and Baal of Byblos and the assembly of the holy gods of Byblos".
We should not accept the emendation to the feminine reading found in
the editions,
an emendation that makes the text refer to the Baalat of
Byblos. On the contrary, the reference is here to a male deity denoted as
"Baal of Byblos".
(b) Secondly, there is another inscription, found ten km from ancient
Byblos, published by Bordreuil and dated by him on palaeographical
grounds to the tenth century B.C.E. This inscription provides us with
the first example known of a Phoenician inscription in high relief.
The text reads:
?]rdnw I
?]b'lt gbl
With due caution, taking into consideration the fragmentary nature of
this piece of evidence, I am inclined to believe with Bordreuil that we
have here a mention of two deities, one masculine ( >dn) and one femin-
ine (b'lt gbl). We also notice that the first designation is followed by a
- w of uncertain interpretation, a letter which may very well be the suffix
Bonnet (1993: 25-34).
See KAI 4: 3-4 and TSSI vol 3: no. 6: 3-4.
Bonnet (1993: 25-34). Note also Bonnet's observation that it would be too simplistic to assume,
on the basis of the enumeration in this inscription, that Baal Shamem was the main god ofBy-
blos, see Bonnet (1993: 32) and especially Xella in his monograph on Baal Hamon (1991: 50).
Bordreuil (1977: 23-27). For an excellent photograph, se DCPP pl. VIla.
of the 3rd person masc. sing., an explanation preferred by Bordreuil
The text may then refer to the Lady of Byb1os and her
spouse, the latter being denoted as 'dn and having a personal suffix.
What is then the relation between b<J gbl and 'dn? An inspection of
the personal names of Byblos immediately shows that the theophoric
element Baal is the one that is most frequently attested.
That Adon
may serve as the epithet of a local deity has a good analogy in the use
of 'dn in Ugaritic and later West Semitic materia1.
I am inclined to
believe that b<J gbl was the name of the Byblian male god and that 'dn
was his epithet.
The evidence for the suffixed form of the divine name of the male
god of Byblos is worth noticing. When speaking of the king in the third
person, it would be natural for one to refer to "his Adon" (as in the in-
scription), while the king speaking in the first person would speak of
"my Adon" (cf. the formulation "my Damu" in EA 84:33). This could
reflect the epithet "Adon" with a pronominal suffix
and would then
support the assumption that this was the form behind the Greek "Adon-
Our observations so far suggest that the Lady ofByblos has a spouse,
referred to by 'dnw in Bordreuil's inscription and by the designation
dDA.MU-ia in EA 84:33. The suffix in each case could hint at his role
as the personal deity of the king. Could it then be that the Lady of Byb-
los holds the position of god of the city and her spouse Adon(is) the role
of personal god of the monarch? I find it plausible that Bordreuil's in-
scription provides the Semitic epithet of the Byblian god known from
later Greek and Latin sources as Adonis. This chain of evidence would
then seem to have its explanation in historical connections, stretching
from the god referred to by the designation dDA.MU-ia in the Amama
letters (84:33), via the Adon ofBordreuil's inscription, to the Adonis of
later Greek and Latin sources.
3. Why Was "Damu" Used by the Scribe?-The natural question is
now why the scribe ofByblos chose the designation dDA.MU-ia to refer
to the Byblian god. Was Damu the actual local name of the Byblian de-
ity during this period, or was this the scribe's way of referring, in his
Akkadian text, to a god who actually had a West Semitic designation?
Bordreuil (1977: 26). The same form of the suffix is found in KA/4: 5 and 10: 15, both from
For the role of various theophoric elements in Byblian names, see Xella (1994: 212-214 ).
See the present chapter under 3 .l.l.
See Cross in Moran. The A marna Letters ( 1992: 156 n. 1 0).
' ,,
We should note that Damu and Dumuzi are originally two different
gods who are believed to coalesce and merge identities. Only Damu is
a true vegetation deity from the beginning.
It seems clear that Damu
and Dumuzi are identified in the first millennium B.C.E. as appears
from late Sumerian balag compositions.
There is however, an Old
Babylonian god list that mentions Damu in immediate connection with
Geshtinanna and Ninedara, who are both deities with close connections
to Dumuzi. Geshtinanna is Dumuzi' s sister. As Thomas Richter points
out, this passage might indicate a high age for the "equation" Damu-
Dumuzi.152 Michael Fritz, however, questions this interpretation: Du-
muzi and Damu here belong to different circles of gods.
That Damu was known in the Syro-Palestinian region is seen from
his occurrence in theophoric personal names in Ebla,
Mari, Ugarit,
and in later Phoenician and Punic names.
The assumption that Damu
was the name of the deity at Byblos is thus not an impossible one. On
the other hand, we know that Sumerograms are used in the Amama let-
ters to refer to deities with local West Semitic names: diSKUR for Ha-
dad or Baal, dNIN for b(lt gbl and dUTU for Shamash/Shapash.
Against this background I find it hard to decide whether the worshippers
of Late Bronze Age Byblos called their god Damu or used a West Sem-
itic designation ( )dn). The latter seems intrinsically more probable. In
that case, EA 84:33 reflects the orthographic conventions of the Byblos
scribe but not the actual name of the deity.
In this connection we should briefly touch on the question of the na-
ture of Damu. A problem here is that the information about this is main-
ly found in Sumerian material from the East. The following discussion
rests on the feasible but still unverifiable assumption that the Damu of
the West is closely similar to the Damu of the East. This proviso should
be kept in mind.
Alster (DDD: 1568).
See Jacobsen (1976: 163ff.) and Alster (DDD: 1575). Michael Fritz (lena) does not believe that
Damu and Dumuzi were identified in the second millennium B.C.E. (p.c. Oct. 200 I).
See Th. Richter (1999: 263-264, esp. note 1047). Reference courtesy Daniel Schwemer (p.c.).
Michael Fritz (p.c.). Fritz refers to his forthcoming monograph (fc. 2002; see addition to the
bibliography). Also A. Sjobeg (p.c.) doubts that there is a Damu-Dumuzi syncretism prior to
the first millennium.
See Pomponio and Xella (1997: 381-388) and von Soden (1987: 75-90). Note, however, the
observation that this theophoric element in Eblaite personal names never carries the divine
determinative but rather functions as an abstract personification serving as a theophoric ele-
ment in personal names (Pomponio and Xella p. 387).
See Lipinski (1987: 9!-99).
See Weber's index in Knudtzon ([1915=)1964: 1582-1583) and Hess (1986: esp. pp. 151, 154.
158f. with discussion).
nn IS
> nu
, Old
l. u-
__ u-
f liD
~ "it,
~ )n
t 156
l ~ r s
f In
1 n-
111 of
vc that
nvr to
: the
c ine
iL de-
! 54,
While Dumuzi is attested elsewhere in the Amarna material,
it is
Damu who occurs in connection with Byblos, the same Byblos that was
later known as a centre for the Adonis rites. Damu is known from other
Mesopotamian and Syrian sources,
notably from first millennium
Sumerian balag compositions. In one group of such texts which Jacob-
sen has scrutinized, the theme is the search for the god as carried out by
his mother or sister.
Damu is here a vegetation god, representing the
sap in trees and vegetation, who has disappeared into the Netherworld.
The question whether the material tells about his return, however, is a
controversial one. According to Jacobsen, his return is attested in one
Alster questions this interpretation. Damu, who is here
identified with Ningishzida, "was liberated in the sense that he became
an official in the underworld, but there is no mention of his return from
the realm of the dead."
Ningishzida is a chthonic god,
but one
should perhaps recall the circumstance that Tamrnuz and Gizzida
(= Ningishzida) appear in the Adapa myth standing at Anu's door in
Edzard comments: "Thus N. shares with Dumuzi the char-
acter of a god staying only temporarily in the Netherworld."
over, the composition called Ningishzida's Descent may be taken to
refer to the liberation of the deity from the Netherworld (see below
Chap. VII.l.3). In sum, Damu is a god who makes a descensus to the
Netherworld. There are no indisputable references in the texts to his rtf-
turn, but he is associated with Ningishzida who seems to appear as a dy-
ing and rising god.
In Adapa and the South Wind, EA 356: 25, 39, 45, 54.
0n Damu, see Ebeling (RLA 2: 115-116), Edzard (WdM 50-5!), von Soden (1987: 75-90),
Lipinski (1987: 91-99), Alster (DDD: 1567-1579, passim), Penglase (1997: 31-38), and Pom-
ponio and Xella (1997: 381-388).
Jacobsen (1976: 63-73), who offers translations of a selection of texts, and idem (The Harps
that Once, 1987: 56-84). See also Alster ( 1986). For Damu and vegetation, see also the Sumer-
ian cult song translated by Romer (Hymnen und Klagelieder: 189-229).
See Jacobsen (1976: 68ff.) who refers (p. 247 n. 51) to TRS no. 8 and its duplicate versions CT
XV pis. 26-27 and pl. 30.
Alster (1986: 27).
Edzard (WdM vol. I: 112).
Adapa and the South Wind, fragm. B: 16-41 and see also 49 and 56. Text and Italian translation
in Picchioni ( 1981: 116-119), English translation in Foster (1993, vol. I: 431-432).
Edzard (WdM vol. 1: 112). My translation. Edzard writes: "Hiernach teilt N. mit Dumuzi den
Charakter eines nur zeitweilig in der Unterwelt weilenden Gottes."-Note also Gudea, Cylin-
der A, V: 18ff., translation in Jacobsen (The Harps that Once, 1987: 394), where Gudea is as-
sured in a dream "that in spite of Ningishzida's chthonic character he is able to come up
anywhere in the world to further the undertaking of his ward", as Jacobsen paraphrases the con-
tents (p. 394 n. 27). See further below, Chap. Vll.1.3.
i I
. ; ~
In this connection, it should also be noted that the male god of Byb-
!os is not denoted as a storm god in the Amarna letters. There is thus no
specific reason to think of a continuity between Canaanite Baal and
Adonis apart from the fact that the descensus motif is an obvious point
in common.
My conclusions from these observations are as follows. Behind
Adon(is) we found Baal of Byblos (bel gbl ), a god whose epithet 'dn
developed into a proper divine name, Adon(is). A male god of Byblos
is referred to in the Amarna letters as "my living god" (EA 129:51 ). The
best candidate for the identity of this god is "my Damu" (EA 84:33).
These references suggest a Late Bronze Age pedigree for the god we
meet in the tenth century inscriptions. The use of the name "Damu",
however, is probably due to scribal convention.
Then, what about the god actually worshipped at Byblos: Was he
thought to die and return? The use of the divine name "Damu" (EA
84:33) suggests that he was thought of as a dying god. The probable ref-
erence to the same deity under the designation "the living god" (EA
129:51) could be understood as a corollary of this and suggests that he
was thought of as having triumphed over death. But this is only a pos-
sibility, since "the living god" is open to various interpretations. The
designation of a West Semitic god as "living" also occurs in connection
with Baal Hamon, who may or may not have been a dying and rising
god-note Pluto's occurrence as his chthonic hypostasis-and in con-
nection with YHWH who is obviously not such a god, as far as we know
him from the Biblical materia1.
The proximity of Adon(is), Damu
and Dumuzi should alert us to the possibility that Byblos was a site
where Adon(is) was part of a syncretistic development in which he
adopted features originally connected with the Sumerian and Akkadian
myths of journeys to the Netherworld. I shall return to this issue (Chap.
4. Early Egyptian Evidence?-The chain of evidence may perhaps
be stretched even further back, but here we are admittedly on even more
precarious ground. From the late third millennium B.C.E. comes a ref-
For Baal Hamon as "living", see Cross (1994: 98-99). Cross finds this in a Punic inscription
from Constantine (El Hofra), second century B.C.E., KAI I 62: I, where he reads: 1 'y' 'dn l;m,
which "put into older Punic orthography" Cross reads: l]Jy' 'dn l)IJ, "To Hayyo (the Living
[God]), lord of grace". From the context it is clear that the designation refers to Baal Hamon.
This god probably derives from the Phoenician mainland, see Bordreuil ( 1986: 84 ). He had Af-
rican Pluto as a chthonic hypostasis, see Lipinski (1990). Could this be an indication that Baal
Hamon was a dying and rising deity?-On Yhwh as "living", see Kreuzer ( 1983) and Mettinger
(1988: 82-91).
r ~
J '
) .
~ I
erence in the Pyramid Texts to a god of Negaw, i.e. the hinterland of
Byblos (518d; see also 242c, 423c ). The name of this deity is given as
ij-<-y-t-3-w, var. ij-<-t-J-w.
The same deity is also known from a
cylinder seal of a ruler of Byblos of the late third millennium.
One is
inclined to understand this as a West Semitic divine name. It is clearly
not Egyptian. It has been understood as referring to Rashap.
however, assumes that we are dealing with a compound and suggests
analyzing the initial element as West Semitic *l;lyy, "living", and the
second element as a noun from the root < tl, which results in the transla-
tion "The Living One is Exalted", which, he remarks, "fits very well as
an appelation of the Ba<al type of deity".
The reference to the god of Negaw in the Pyramid Texts 518d is in
an ascension text: the deceased ruler is identified with this god of
Negaw. What is the reason for the identification precisely in a context
of this type? Could it so happen that this god of the Byblos area was a
god who was known to successfully pass the border between the land of
the living and the world of the dead?
Thus, with due awareness of the hypothetical nature of the case, we
may dare to suggest that this male god of Byblos, known already in the
late third millennium B.C.E. was the ancestor of the god we later know
under the name "Adonis".
In summary: The spouse of the Lady of Byblos, the male god denoted
as "Baal ofByblos", seems to have had the epithet "Adon" at least from
the tenth century B.C.E. This god was later known in Greek and Roman
sources as Adonis. This male deity is probably the god who is denoted
by the king of Byblos as "my Damu" and "(my) living god" (EA 84:33;
129:51 ). Though difficult to interpret, some evidence from the Pyramid
Texts (518d) indicates that a god from the hinterland of Byblos was de-
noted as "The Living One". This ties in with the reference in EA 129 to
"my living god". The above analysis shows that the male god of Late
See Redford (1990: 826 and 1993: 45). Previous discussions are found in Monte! (1923: 181-
192; 1928: 287-291 ), Stadelmann (1967: 8-9), Heick (197la: 22-23), and Scandone Matthiae
andXella(l981: 147-152).
See Montet (1928: 62-88 and 1929: pl. 39: 42) and especially Goedicke (1963: 1-6).
See Stadelmann (1967: 8, n. 2), Scandone Matthiae and X ella (1981: 147-152) and Xella in Ac-
quaro eta!., eds. (I 994: 199).
Redford (1990: 826; cf. 1993: 45). For the second element of the name, see Huffman (1965:
205) and HAl..AT(855b). The first element then displays a metathesis of the yod in the Pvramid
Texrs under the influence of the Egyptian root tJ 'y.
This assumption was formulated already by Montct ( 1928: 191 ). See also de Vaux ([ 1933=]
1967 388)

Bronze Age Byblos could but need not have been a dying and rising de-
3.5. The Adonis Gardens: A Different Symbolism in the Levant?
The Adonis gardens are also a feature to consider here. In my theoretical
and methodological introduction about the interpretation of rituals, I
drew attention to the risk of committing the essentialist fallacy. Rites do
not have one stable meaning which they retain over time and across cul-
tural boundaries. We defined above the symbolism of the Adonis gar-
dens in Greek contexts as one of sterility and transitoriness. There are
reasons to suspect that this was due to an interpretatio Graeca.
Adonis was somehow related to the seasonal cycle of vegetation, why
should his foremost symbol express nothing but the wilting of the ve-
getation? Admittedly, we found that the allusion in Isaiah 17: 10-11 is
one of sterility and thus could indicate that this was the general symbol-
ical value also in the Levant. Three points, however, deserve attention
in. the present context.
In the first place we know of gardens of Adonis that not only were
in the form of symbolic plantations in vases or potsherds but also were
in the form of "real" gardens.
Thus an inscription from Laodicea at
the Sea (Northern Syria) mentions a 36m. long garden (Krpt.' 6 w v w ~
with taverns.
Similar plantations are known from Palmyra and Beth-
and the palace of Domitian contained a similar installa-
It is difficult to believe that such gardens were planted only for
the sake of seeing them wilt.
Another circumstance, though one which is not reportedly con-
nected with Adonis, is the practice of testing whether seeds will germin-
ate in the middle of the summer, a "trial sowing" as it were. It is the
merit of Baudy to have called attention to this practice.
Very late ma-
terial for this is found in Palladius, an agrarian writer from the fifth cen-
tury C.E., in the Byzantine Geoponica, and in Albiruni (eleventh
century Syria). But there are earlier material than this. Thus, there is
Heick ( 1971 b: 187) understands the sterility symbolism as a secondary Greek interpretation.
As was pointed out by Lipinski (1995: 99-100).
See Haussoullier and Ingholt (1924: 333-336 and the addendum on p. 341). Also in lGLS IV
(1955), no. 1260 (not seen, ref. from Lipinski 1995: 99, n. 241).
See Lipinski (1995: 100 with refs.).
Phi1ostratus, Vita Apollon. Tyan. VII, 32 (huyxavEV v auA:(j 'Aiiwvt&x;' r\ 1\[ imlhjA.u Krjrtott; ).
Note also the Adonea fragment from Rome, on which see Sulze (1926).
For the following, see Baudy (1986: 13-32) .
I l
~ I
r >
( ~
. ,
l (
J .
) .
from Mesopotamia an Assyrian edition of a Sumero-Akkadian calendar
text, Astrolabium B, which speaks of an "early sowing" in the month of
The same procedure might be hinted at in a more Western
text, Emar VI.3.446: 47-57.
After the sacrifice of a sheep for Dagan
Lord of the Seeds, "the diviner throws down seed onto the ground",
and this seems to take place in a temple precinct. The text goes on to say
that, "until they finish the sacrificial homages, no one may go out to
plant" (ll. 56-57).
The rite in this Emar text is securely dated to the
autumnal equinox occurring in September/October, which is later than
the "trial sowinf above but probably earlier than the actual sowing
later in the fall.
1 1
The time and setting might thus indicate a prognostic
character of the act carried out. I would not argue that there is an imme-
diate connection between the Emar practice and the Adonis gardens, as
we know them from much later times. But the Emar text shows that
there was in one domain of West Semitic religion a procedure that may
provide an analogue for the Adonis gardens.
A third circumstance is the daughter institution of the Adonis gar-
dens, the small plantings in various vessels of seeds, mostly wheat, that
we know from Christian celebrations in the Mediterranean. We know
them from Sardinia, Sicily, Cyprus, Italy, and Provence. In Sardinia,
they were called nenneri. Frazer, Baumgartner, and others regard them
as descendants of the Adonis gardens.
At various places they are
connected with different Christian celebrations: mainly Easter and the
feast of St. John. The latter date is around Midsummer's Eve, a date
which recalls the celebrations of the Greek Adonia. The use of such
plantings around Easter seems to me to suggest that there was a transfer
of a major symbol of the Adonis celebrations to the central Christian
celebration: the death and resurrection of Christ. Could this be due to a
similar content of the Adonis celebrations?
Conclusion: The symbolism of the Adonis gardens in Greece is
clearly one of death and sterility. There is almost no evidence for Acton-
Baudy ( 1986: 24 ). Astrolabium B. 1: 38-44 = 45-50, see Weidner ( 1915: 85, 87 and 94). English
translation in Cohen (1993: 315).
Text in Arnaud (1986: 421, with French translation p. 423); collated text now available in
Fleming (2000: 272 with Engl. translation). Engl. translation also in Cohen ( 1993: 358). Dis-
cussion in Fleming (2000: IOOff. 212-213). M.S. Smith brought this text into the discussion,
see Smith (1998: 292, n. 146).
Engl. translation by Fleming (2000: 273)
l80 Engl. translation by Fleming (2000: 273).
Fleming (p.c. May 10, 2000).
See Frazer. GB
4:1, pp. 244-259, and Baumgartner (1959: 247-273. csp. pp. 263ff)
See Frazer. GB
4: I. pp. 256f. Note also Baumgartner (1959: 270-271) and Baudy ( 1986: 20).
is gardens in the Levant. The bits of circumstantial evidence, however.
alert us to the possibility that the sterility symbolism is not a necessary
one for the Adonis gardens of the Levant. That this possibility is a real
one appears from Biblical passages such as John 12:24 and 1 Cor 15:35-
49, which speak about the symbolism of the seeds sown in the ground:
dying-but giving rise to new life.
4. Synthesis: The Historical Development
In our study of Adonis we found it important to distinguish between the
classical Adonis and the Levantine god. With this in mind we moved
forward in three steps and dealt with Greece and Rome, with Egypt, and
with the Levant respectively. When discussing the Levantine god, we
found that the late material is the most eloquent (De Dea Syria, Origen,
Jerome). We therefore chose to work our way backwards, against the
current of time, in order to take our point of departure from the evidence
that gives us the clearest picture. Let us now survey our evidence and
weigh its validity for our main question about a death and resurrection
of Adonis, and let us attempt to sketch the main lines of the historical
development. As always, it is important to distinguish between conclu-
sions that are necessary and conclusions that are only probable or just
Focussing on the Levantine god, Adon(is) of Byblos, our findings
can be summarized as follows:
In the Pyramid Texts (518d) there is a reference to a god from the
hinterland of Byblos who is probably denoted as "The Living One is
Exalted". In the Amama letters from Byblos, it is probably the spouse
of the Lady of Byblos who is denoted by the king as "my Damu" (EA
84:33) and as "my living god" (129:51). From the tenth century there
are two inscriptions that may together indicate that the Baal of Byblos
carried the epithet Adon. So far there is no evidence that makes it a ne-
cessary conclusion that Adon(is) was a dying and rising deity. The Am-
ama references are, however, fully consonant with such a possibility.
Then we hear nothing about the Levantine god until De Dea Syria,
with its description of the Byblos rites for Adonis. These comprise at
least two days: one with funerary sacrifices to the dead Adonis, and one
with a pompe, a solemn procession from the funerary chapel that
brought Adonis in effigy into the open air, thus symbolizing his return
to life. Prior to all this there was a lament throughout the land for Adon-
is; this may have required another day. If so, the celebrations comprised
1 the
I ;d
. we
.. e
l n
( 1-

tr is
> ;e
t IS
I 1-
i d
three subsequent days, a triduum. The rites seem to have been open to
both men and women and to have been a public event.
The evidence from De Dea Syria is much earlier than that found in
Christian writers. Origen and Jerome provide evidence for the Adonis
celebrations in Palestine: death and resurrection and vegetation symbol-
ism are here central. Cyril of Alexandria confirms this by his reference
to the death and finding of Adonis in the celebrations at Alexandria.
Apart from Origen and Jerome, the vegetation symbolism is also found
in Porphyry and Ammianus Marcellinus.
Thus, De Dea Syria, Origen, and Jerome are clear and unanimous
about the death and resurrection of Adonis. The express evidence is thus
very late and does not per se permit conclusions for Byblos prior to the
tum of the era .
If we tum to Greece for a moment, it is clear that the reception of
Adonis into the Greek religious system implied important changes .
Though Adonis was integrated into Greek ethnobotany, as Detienne has
made clear to us, the evidence nevertheless indicates that Adonis was an
outsider in Greek religion. The celebrations became a women's affair
and lost a great deal of the public status they enjoyed in the Levant.
Above all, Adonis no longer seems to have preserved his status as a full
god; rather, he assumes the character of a heros, as Ribichini has shown I
to be probable.
As far as I can find, there is nothing in the Greek rites for Adonis that
implies a celebration of his resurrection. The symbolism of the Greek
Adonis gardens is clearly one of death and sterility. Now, realizing that
Adon(is) underwent major changes upon his reception into Greek reli-
gion, we should be wise not to utilize the lack of resurrection allusions
in the Greek rites for generalizations about Adon(is) in the Levant. If
Adon(is) were a dying and rising god in the Levant already prior to the
turn of the era, then the notion of his resurrection would have had diffi-
culties in finding a home in Greek religion: Greek gods are immortal
(athanatoi). As a dying god, Adonis was linked with the category of the
heros. Just as a heros is a person who has lived and died, so the focus of
the Adonis rites was the death of Adonis and the funerary mourning.
Let us then focus again on the Levantine god: Does the balance of
probability weigh down for or against the assumption of his resurrec-
tion? Only in De Dea Syria and later do we find evidence which makes
it a necessary conclusion that Adonis was a dying and rising god. Prior
to this, however, it seems necessary to conclude that the Adon(is) re-
ceived on Greek soil was a dying god. Moreover, there is some valuable
possible evidence in the Amarna letters from Byblos.

. . J

= c::-... .. c

The male god of Byblos, the spouse of the Baalat Gebal, was prob-
ably himself known as Baal Gebal and had Adon as his epithet at least
from the tenth century B.C.E. onwards. Possibly he was thus named al-
ready during the Late Bronze Age. During that period he was probably
referred to by the king (speaking through his scribe) as "my Damu" (EA
84:33) and as "my living god" (EA 129:51).
The designation Damu may indicate that he was a god who was
thought to make a descensus into the Netherworld. Whether Damu was
then believed to be a god who both dies and rises, is not clear. Weighing
the evidence, we found it possible that the god of Byblos was not a
chthonic deity but one who spent part, but only part, of the year in the
Netherworld and the rest on earth, and who could therefore be referred
to as "my living god".
This takes us to the nature and implications of the mytheme of hi-
location and partition of the year, with the notion known from the clas-
sical material that Adonis was to spend part of the year in the
Netherworld and part of it in the light. We noticed that the idea of bi-
location is in tension with the Greek demarcation of the borderline be-
tween the realm of the gods and the realm of the dead; gods are
immortal and the heros belongs to the Netherworld. Theocritus thus
says: "Thou, dear Adonis, alone of demigods, as they tell, dost visit both
earth and Acheron."
In a survey of the classical material on Adonis' stay in the Nether-
world, Baudissin notes that the myth of bilocation in itself actually pre-
supposes the return of Adonis to the earth.
In line with this, certain
passages explicitly speak of a return of Adonis, as is the case in a schol-
ion on Theocritus and in a passage in a magic papyrus.
This is im-
portant to note, since the scholarly discussion of Adonis' resurrection
has tended to overlook the potential implications of the myth of biloca-
Now, the notion of bilocation, so neatly worked out in the Greek
Adonis myth, has a structural parallel in the ancient Near East. In the
Sumerian Inanna's Descent, we find Geshtinanna spending one half of
the year in the Netherworld, Dumuzi spending the other half there, and
Theocritus, Idyll XV, 136-137. Cf. Bion, Lament for Adonis, line 53, quoted above in the intro-
duction to this chapter.
Baudissin (1911: 136; see also 1914: esp. pp. 17-19, and 1916: 442-446).
See Scholia in Theocritum XV, 102 (ed. C. Wendel, 1914, p. 314), and Papyri Graecae Mag-
icae IV 2900-2907 (Preisendanz I, p. 164).
Note e.g. J.Z. Smith (1987: 522a), who denies that the myth of bilocation has anything to do
with the idea of death and resurrection .
? al-
, ~ A
1 was
; ng
r1ut a
n the
: ed
1 lS-
I .he
.. e-
I lll
' Jn
1 ~ k
1 the
lf of
~ - o -
. I
this is the result of a divine decision (lL 407 -410).
The identity of the
deity who makes the decision is not known to us. Penglase has argued
that the idea of divine journeys to the Netherworld and the related no-
tion of the partition of the year represent Near Eastern influences on
Greek mythology. This, he argues, holds both for the structure of the
Demeter-Persephone myth-known from the Homeric Hymn to De-
meter-and the structure of the Aphrodite-Adonis myth.
The myth
of Adonis and his two different places of residence is probably due then
to Semitic influence. However, the presence of a bilocation and a parti-
tion of the year also in the Demeter-Persephone myth means that this
mytheme was not necessarily borrowed as part and parcel of the Levan-
tine Adon(is) myth.
What then, about the myth of Adon(is) of Byblos of the first millen-
nium B.C. E.? Is there evidence that points in the same direction and
strengthens the above suggestion that also here the deity was believed
to share his year between the Netherworld and the light? The myth is
lost to us, as is nearly all Phoenician material of this type. The mytheme
of bilocation is found in Greece, and here it is probably due to Semitic
influence. This myth may have reached Greece in one of either two
(1) It may have come directly from Mesopotamia, mediated via Asia
Minor. In that case it was only secondarily linked to Adonis and has no
evidential value for the assessment of the Levantine god.
(2) It may have been mediated by the Levant (coming ultimately
from Mesopotamia). What makes this appear as an attractive possibility
is the following: (a) A Yaminite letter found at Mari gives us reason to
believe that the Dumuzi myth may have been known in Syria and Phoe-
(b) The Late Bronze Age Baal-Mot myth with its descensus
and return of Baal may well reflect the basic pattern of the Dumuzi myth
(see below Chap. VIL3.1). In any case, it is in all probability a seasonal
myth, explaining the change of the fates of vegetation as due to the fate
of the god.
Though Baal is not substituted in the Netherworld by a
goddess, he spends part of his year on earth and part in the Netherworld.
We thus have a case of bilocation. (c) On a general level, reception of
As was first noticed by Kramer in a brief report (1966). See now Sladek (1974: 152 text; 181
translation). Sladek's restoration is based on a suggestion of Falkenstein ( 1965: 281 with note
15), see Sladek (p. 224 ). For a German translation by Romer, see TUAT (III: 3, 1993, 494).
Penglase (1997 126-158, esp. pp. 144-148; and 159-179).
The text A.ll46 from Mari contains allusions to the death and return of Dumuzi. See below
Chap. VII.2.2. This letter is from a Yaminite king. The area of the Yaminites stretched into
southern Syria and Lebanon, see below Chap. VIU.
See above. Chaps. 1.1.5 and 11.1. On Baal and Dumuzi, see below, Chap. VII.3.l .
.::: ... - <
> .U
- --- -- - -- --
Semitic motifs into Greek religion from the Levant (and Cyprus) seems
to play a more conspicuous role than mediation of Semitic motifs via
Asia Minor.
However, my overall assessment here amounts to an ignoramus. We
simply do not know what the Levantine Adon(is) myth looked like,
apart from our inferences from De Dea Syria that it comprised the death
and revival of the god. And we simply do not have sufficient evidence
to draw firm conclusions from the bilocation motif of the Greek Adonis
myth back to the motifs of the Levantine Adon(is) myth. After all, it is
also found in the Demeter-Persephone myth.
My conclusion then is this: The Greek Adonis was celebrated as a
dying heros. The rites are marked by mourning. On the mythological
level, however, the mytheme of bilocation and partition of the year is
important. As for Levantine Adon(is), there is no firm evidence that he
was seen as a dying and rising god prior to De Dea Syria. It would seem,
however, that the mytheme of partition of the year and bilocation would
hardly have been applied to the Greek Adonis if they had been known
to run counter to common knowledge about the Levantine Adon(is).
The Levantine Adon(is) was no chthonic deity. The tendency found in
certain Greek material to place Adonis more firmly in the Netherworld
and make him a chthonic deity in the proper sense of this term may be
due to basic characteristics of Greek religion, where Adonis is a heros
rather than a real god. Also, Osiris influence may be part of the explana-
tion of this development (see below Chap. VI).
In the introduction to the present chapter we noticed a paradox, first
observed by Atallah in the material for Adonis: on one hand, we have a
festival which is symbolic of harvesting the fruits of the field, and on
the other, we have the sterility symbolism of the Adonis gardens with
their rapidly withering sprouts. For this paradox we now find a possible
explanation: our sources provide a dual picture of Adonis. /fthe Levan-
tine god was a dying and rising deity, this Levantine Adon(is) under-
went a change when he was assimilated into the symbolic universe of
Greek religion. The god became a heros and assumed a more definite
link with the Netherworld, developing under the circumstances
chthonic characteristics.
5. Conclusions
( 1) A real god?-The classical Adonis is to be categorized as a
heros. There are no indications, however, to the effect that the Levan-
tine Adon(is) should be understood along similar lines. He seems to
s. We
c ath
r' ms
t is
I a
, m,
- s).
1 be

.. :st
tve a
( )n
\ th
' n-
r r-
:e of
s to
have been a real god, not just a beatified human being or an ancestral
(2) Both death and resurrection?-! referred the potential implica-
tions of the myth of bilocation. For various reasons the evidential value
of the bilocation mytheme of the Greek Adonis myth for the assessment
of the Levantine Adon(is) myth was found difficult to assess. However,
bilocation and partition of the year as found in the Greek myth may hard-
ly have run counter to what was known about the Levantine Adon(is).
Our discussion of the reference to the god "Damu" in an Amama let-
ter from Byblos (EA no. 84) shows that the notions of descent to the
Netherworld and return to life can, but need not, have been present al-
ready in Late Bronze Age Byblos. Only De Dea Syria 6 and the Chris-
tian writers (Origen, Jerome) provide clear evidence that Adonis was
believed to rise from the dead. In pre-Christian times, Adon(is) can but
need not have been a dying and rising god. The reverse conclusion, that
Adon(is) was not a dying and rising god in pre-Christian times, is cer-
tainly unprovable.
(3) Seasonal implications.-The late sources for Levan tine Adon(is)
speak clearly about his vegetation symbolism. His death and resurrec-
tion have seasonal implications. Since Baal has the same affinities, it is
a plausible conclusion that this feature of Adonis is not a late innovation I
but part of prior tradition. The time of the Adonis celebrations was dur-
ing high summer, mid-July. This reminds us of the Dumuzi celebrations
which took place at the same time of the year. The practice of planting
small Adonis gardens was probably known already in the Levant. We
found certain circumstances that alerted us to the possibility that their
symbolism was not necessarily one of death and sterility as in Greece.
(4) Ritual celebration.-It is not impossible that Adonis' resurrec-
tion was an early feature of the mythology (note the mytheme of biloca-
tion). Not until De Dea Syria, however, do we have evidence for the
ritual celebration of his resurrection. In this work we meet what seems
to be long-standing practices, but we cannot tell how early there is a rit-
ual celebration of Adonis' resurrection at Byblos.
(5) A god with a long history.-We have followed the male god of
Byblos from the possible attestations in the Pyramid Texts, via the Am-
arna Letters and some tenth century inscriptions, to the evidence found
in classical and Christian writings. This deity does not appear as a storm
god in any source known to me.
(6) It seems difficult to argue that the mytheme of Adonis' death and
resurrection was a result of the confiscation of a Christian motif. Only
if a pre-Christian date for the notion of Adonis' resurrection is found
directly improbable would it be possible to argue for such an interpre-
tation. This, however, is certainly not the case.
Adon(is) was the major male god of Byblos. Melqart was the city god
of Tyre, and at Sidon the god Eshmun had a similar function. Here Esh-
mun and Ash tart together had the role of poliadic couple; Eshmun is the
city god (KAI 14:14.-18). Our question is, once more, whether Eshmun
was a god who was believed to die and rise again. Among scholars who
have taken Eshmun to be such a god, one could mention Baudissin,
Gese and Ribichini.
The material relevant to a discussion of this matter
is extremely meagre.
1. Asclepius-Esmounos in Damascius
Our natural point of departure is a reference in Damascius, a Neo-
platonic philosopher, b. ca. 458 C.E. in Damascus, who refers to the
self-emasculation and subsequent resuscitating of Eshmun, notably the
Eshmun of Berytus. The passage runs as follows:
Asclepius of Berytus, he says, is neither a Greek nor an Egyptian but a native
Phoenician [aAAa u:;; bnxwpws <t>ol:vd;]. For to Sadykos sons were born, who
are explained as Dioscouri and Kabeiri. Then as the eighth child, Esmounos was
born [to him); and Esmounos is interpreted as Asclepius. He was of very good
appearance, a young man of admirable looks, and therefore became, according
to the myth, the darling of Astronoe, a Phoenician goddess, the mother of the
gods [pwf1EVos ... Ampov611s ewu <t>mvioO'I]s, flllPos ef(ov ]. He used to go
hunting in these valleys. It then once happened that he discovered the goddess
pursuing him. He fled, but when he saw that she continued to chase him and was
just about to seize him, he cut off his own genitals with an axe. Greatly dis-
tressed at what had happened, she called Paian and rekindled [the life of] the
young man by means of life-bringing heat and made him a god [ov vwvimcov
n] Tf 1;,woyoV<!J 8EPfllJ ava1;,wnupljoaoa 8fOV EJtOLllOEV ]. The Phoenicians call
Baudissm 11911: 339-344, esp. pp. 340-341), Gese ( 1970: 190), and Ribichini ( 1985: 55-60.
esp. p. 57).
. . .
. J ... t . .'"

.. ..--: ....


. i
him Esmounos because of the warmth of life. Others, again, interpret Esmounos
as "the eighth", explaining that he was the eighth child of Sadykos.
(Damascius, Vita fsidori 302)
It is clear that this passage, late as it is, contains some information that
receives striking confirmation from earlier sources relating to the Esh-
mun cult Esmounos is said in our text to be a native Phoenician god,
the eighth son of Sadykos, and born after the seven Kabeiri or Dioscou-
ri. All this we recognize from Philo Byblius, who speaks of "the seven
sons of Sydyk, the Kabeiri, and the eighth son, their brother Ascle-
pius".3 Sydyk is obviously a Semitic word, from the root for ''righteous-
ness", $-d-q. The final part of our passage in Damascius gives two
alternate Semitic etymologies for the name of the god Eshmun: either
from Northwest Semitic 's, "fire", or from Northwest Semitic tmn,
"eight", though, as we shall see, it is more attractive to a modem scholar
to derive the name of the healing god from the word for "oil", that is,
from the root smn.
Esmounos is described as a young god, a category that we know
from Northwest Semitic religion, with the goddess Astronoe at his side,
a goddess whom we recognize as Ashtart in earlier Phoenician-Punic
Moreover, Eshmun and Ashtart are known as the divine
couple of Sidon (KAI 14:14-18, fifth century B.C.E.). The hunting ac-
tivities of Esmounos in our text are to be seen against the background
of the hunting scenes found in the temple of Eshmun at Bostan esh-
Sheikh outside Sidon.
Besides, in both Late Bronze Age Emar and
Ugarit we find Ashtart having an inclination for the same avocation.
detail that might seem surprising is the connection of Esmounos with
Berytus (against expected Sidon), but this is no real difficulty, as Lipin-
ski has pointed out? There is thus in Damascius' description a number
of genuine Semitic features .
My translation. Text: Zintzen (1967: 307f. 302). A text is also available in PG 103: cols.
1304ff. German translation in Asmus (1911: 124f.). Discussion in Baudissin (1911: 339-344)
and Ribichini (1985: 55-60).
Philo Byblius, Eusebius, Praep. Ev. I, I 0, 38. Text and translation in Attridge and Oden ( 1981:
See Bonnet (DCPP: 48b; 1996: 30-37) and Lipinski (1995: 137, 153), and see above Chap.
III.2.3 at the end.
For these hunting scenes, see Dunand (1983).
See Emar VI.3 no. 452: 21 on the monthly liturgical order: "The hunt of Astart is on the 16th
day." For the collated text and translation, see Fleming (2000: 280-289), and for comments on
the hunting motif, ibid. (pp. !82-183). For Ugarit, see KTU 1.92, on which see de Moor (1985).
Lipinski (1995: 131) called attention to the Emar text.
See Lipinski (1995: 160), referring to a place name that points to Eshmun cult in this area, see
below under section 2 .
I .
Let us then consider the formulations in our text that might claim
special interest in a discussion about dying and rising deities, namely,
those describing the steps taken by the goddess to restore the young god
to health and vigour. Baudissin, in his discussion of our text, takes these
formulations to imply that Eshmun was a dying and rising deity,
Notscher finds no reference whatsoever to a resurrection of the deity in
this passage: Eshmun is not depicted as dead but only as mutilated. Not-
scher therefore speaks of mutilation and restoration.
It is true that there
is no clear reference to the death of the deity. One must ask, however,
if Notscher's interpretation does justice to the wording of the Greek in
one ofthe final lines: 'tOV VWVLCJKOV 'tij 't swoyOV(!) avasw:n:up-f]-
oaoa 8ov :n:oiYJOEV, "and rekindled [the life of] the young man by
means of life-bringing heat and made him a god". It seems to me that
the passage refers to resuscitation, but the question is whether what is
said is relevant to Phoenician Eshmun of much earlier times or, rather,
to some other deity.
The passage is very late and the depiction of Esmounos is here one
which combines features of various origins. It is immediately obvious
that Attis looms in the background. The motifs of self-emasculation and
of the goddess as the mother of the gods certainly derive from the
Cybele-Attis cult.
Is the resuscitation of Esmounos in our text a re-
flection of the same tradition? Is Attis a dying and rising deity? If he is,
then the passage cannot be used for conclusions about the possible death
and resurrection of the Phoenician Eshmun.
It seems increasingly clear that Attis was not originally a god of this
type. There is no reference to a resurrection in Pausanias' treatment of
Attis; here the god becomes a living corpse (VII, 17, 10-12). Nor does
Catullus (Poem LXIII)
refer to a resurrection of Attis. A passage in
Firmicus Matemus, in a work dated to ca. 345-350 C. E.,
has some-
times been taken to refer to a resurrection of Attis, but seems on further
analysis rather to refer to Osiris.
Baudissin (1911: 339-344).
Notscher ([1926 =]1980: 95-96, quotation from p. 96): "Versti.immelung und Wiederherstel-
Most of the extant material for the Attis cult was assembled and published by Hepding ( 1903:
5-97) and by Verrnaseren ( 1977-1989). For the features just mentioned, see e.g. Pausanias VII,
17, 10-12. On Attis, see Cumont (1931: 43-67), Colpe (1969: 33-40), Vermaseren (1977: esp.
pp. 110-124), Mornigliano (ER 4, 1987: 185-187), Podernann S0rensen (1989a: 23-29), and
Turcan (2000: 28-74).
On this text, see Nasstrorn ( 1989).
Firrnicus Matemus. De errore profanarum religionum XXII. Text in Hepding (1903: 50),
translation in Forbes (1970: 93-94 ).
See especially Podemann S0rensen (1989b: 73-86).

While the mythological material is broadly silent on a resurrection
of Attis, the situation is slightly different when we tum to ritual. It
seems that the original cultic cycle, culminating in the Day of Blood (24
March), had been expanded by the addition of the Day of Joy or Hilaria
(25 March), the references to which are perhaps as late as the third and
fourth centuries.
While Gasparro denies that there are any ideas of
resurrection connected with Attis,
Lambrechts argues that the celeb-
ration of Hilaria was due to the circumstance that some sort of resurrec-
tion ideas had found their way into the Attis cult.
This was, however,
a very late development according to Lambrechts.
What makes me believe that Lambrechts is right is the circumstance
that at least some texts contain references to an escape from death.
Thus, Damascius relates in another passage about a visit to the sanctu-
ary of Hierapolis in Phrygia, which had a subterranean cave underneath
it, the well-known Plutonium of Hierapolis.
Dangerous odours made
access to the cave life-threatening. Two men made a visit together and
successfully survived the adventure. One of them tells that he slept and
had a dream: "I thought in the dream that I was Attis and that the mother
of the gods celebrated, in my honour, the feast of the so-called Hilaria.
This dream revealed to me our escape from Hades [cl]v kl; 9-oou ycyo-
vu1av YJftWV oun:YJpi.av ]."
This passage sheds light on some lines in
1 Macrobius (from the beginning of the fifth century C.E.) in which the
writer says that the Hilaria was celebrated after the catabasis had been
performed and the mourning had been completed.
The visit in the
cave in Damascius seems to be the clue to the catabasis in Macrobius:
it was a ritual descent into Hades. Though not expressly referring to the
Hilaria, another passage, found in Firmicus Matern us, says that after the
See Lambrechts (1952: 141-170, esp. pp. 142-143, 159ff.). On this development, see also Ver-
maseren (1977: 110-125, esp. pp. 119ff.), who is inclined to assume an earlier date.
Gasparro (1985: 31 n. 18; 59, 82).
"Certes, le nombre de textes qui attestent indubitablement Ia resurrection du dieu n'est pas tres
eleve, mais ils existent. ... Tout cela,je crois, s'explique tres bien par !'introduction tardive dans
le culte phrygien de Ia croyance en Ia resurrection annuelle du dieu", Lambrechts ( 1952: 159).
Lambrechts (1952: 159-168, esp. 160-161).
On this, see Kreitzer ( 1998a and 1998b ). For references to the intense discussion of this passage
in Damascius, see Kreitzer (1998b: 229, n. 14).
Damascius, Vita lsidori 131 (Zintzen 1967: 176, 131), translation in Asmus (1911: 78, lines
ISff.). On this passage, see Hepding (1903: 167-168) and Kreitzer (1998a; 1998b). My thanks
to Larry Kreitzer for an offprint of his 1998b essay. The identity of the visitors is not quite clear:
perhaps Isidorus and a historian whom Damascius then used as his source.
Macrobius, Saturn. l, 21, 10 (text in Hepding 1903: 63): catabasifinita simulationeque luctus
peracta, "when the catabasis is over and their feigned mourning has come to an end" (transla-
tion Jerker Blomqvist, p.c.) .


' de

, Lhe
. he
ts tres
.. _nks
symbolic burial of the god the participants in the cult asserted that the
god was alive again.2
Isidorus' visit to the cave is thus seen in analogy
with the fates of Attis: the catabasis was followed by the celebration of
the Hilaria, which implied the resurrection, the ascent. This all amounts
to show one specific point of certain interest to our argument: though
the notion of Attis' resurrection is a late one, it is certainly prior to the
passage in Damascius about the revivification of Esmounos.
My conclusion from these observations is as follows. Our passage
from Damascius contains a description of Esmounos with a number of
features reflecting Phoenician Eshmun. The description of the resus-
citation of the god, however, comes as the conclusion of a description
of his self-emasculation. This is a feature which obviously derives from
the Attis cult, and the reference to the goddess as the mother of the gods
points in the same direction. Since the time of Damascius, Attis seems
to have been believed to die and return. It is then impossible to decide
whether the resuscitation of Esmounos in Damascius derives from the
cult of Attis, who was by then clearly a dying and rising god, or from
genuine Eshmun tradition from the Phoenician mainland. The latter al-
ternative could apply. Whether it is probable that this is so shall now be
2. Other Indications for Eshmun as a Dying and Rising God?
The passage in Damascius must thus be judged a blind alley. Are there
other pieces of evidence suggesting that Eshmun was believed to die
and return from death? In pondering the pros and cons, the following
points deserve our attention.
A Lebanese toponym, Qabr Smiin (ca. 15 km SE of Beirut) should
not be overlooked.
As Lipinski points out, this seems to preserve the
memory of a cult place of Eshmun, called "The Tomb of Eshmun".
Whether it was a cult place or not, the minimum requisite for the forma-
Firmicus Matemus, De errore profanarum religionum III: "quem paulo ante sepelierant revix-
isse iactarunt", " ... they advanced the claim that he whom they had buried a little while earlier
had come to life again." Text in Hepding (1903: 48), translation in Forbes (1970: 47-48).
Gasparro ( 1985: 47f.) comments on this formulation, saying that the verb revivere was bor-
rowed from Christian theology and that there was no resurrection faith in the Phrygian version
of the Attis myth. I find the first statement questionable .
Wild ( 1973: 202-203). My thanks to Robin Gull strand, head of the Geo Library at Lund Uni-
versity, for helping me identify the location. Edward Lipinski informs me that there is a forth-
coming Oslo dissertation in the field of Semitics on Lebanese place names by Elie Wardini.
Lipinski (1995: 160). I have not found any details about the historical context of this place

tion of this place name is the idea that Eshmun was a god who was
thought to die.
Another detail that is usually overlooked in modern scholarship is a
reference to the heroization of Asclepius (Eshmun?). In al-Biruni's In-
dia, Galenus (second century C.E.) is quoted as saying that, "It is gen-
erally known that Asclepius was raised to the angels in a column of fire,
the like of which is also related with regard to Dionysos, Heracles, and
others ... ".
The value of such a formulation is hard to assess. We are reminded
of what we know about Heracles/Melqart, and the formulation may in-
deed be a result of the close relations between Eshmun and Melqart.
Thus, in two treaties between Assyria (Ashur-nirari V; Esarhaddon) and
cities to the west, we find Melqart and Eshmun together.
What is
probably a genitive relation, 'smn mlqrt, is found on Cyprus (Kition)
during the fourth century B.C.E.
This double name may be under-
stood in different ways. In any case, it seems to testify to a cultic prox-
imity or even fusion of the gods Eshmun and Melqart. This cultic
proximity could indicate that the two gods are of broadly the same type.
The fact that both have Ashtart as their spouse supports this assump-
What we know of Melqart as a dying and rising deity might then
shed light on Eshmun. But, admittedly, this last possibility is highly hy-
I It is worth noticing that attempts have been made to draw a direct
line from Phoenician Eshmun back to Late Bronze Age Baal as we
know him from U garit. Xella has argued for a close connec-
tion between Baal and Eshmun.
To Xella, Eshmun is the city god of
Sidon (KAI no. 14 ), and precisely in this capacity he is a late descendant
of Baal: "[T]here are hardly any doubts that, in every aspect, we may
Sachau, ed., Alberuni's India, 2 p. 168. al-Biruni died in 1048 C.E.
See SAA 2, 2, VI: 22 (the treaty between Ashur-nirari V and Mati'ilu of Arpad) and SAA 2, 5,
JV:l4 (the treaty between Esarhaddon and Baal ofTyre). In the second text, Melqart and Esh-
mun are able to take away the food, the clothes and "the oil for your anointing".
See Guzzo Amadasi and Karageorghis (Kition III: A 3: 8; A 5: B; A 10; A 11; A 15; A 25). In
A 10 Xella finds Eshmun and Melqart (see Xella, 1988: 61 n. 89, following Teixidor), but this
reading is disputed by Bonnet (1988: 325-326) and Lipinski (1995b: 438 n. 17). On Eshmun-
Melqart, see Baudissin (1911: 275-282), Bonnet (1988: 324-327) and Xella (1990: 167-175).
For Melqart and Ash tart, see above Chap. Ill.2.3 (at the end). For Eshmun and Ashtart, see KAI
14:14-18 and note the role of Astronoe in the passage cited above from Damascius.
Notably in his paper on Eshmun, Xella (1993: 496). However, Xella stresses also lines that take
us back to a different deity connected with oil and known from Ugarit and Ebla, see below.
- a
~ 1-
[ t.
tt is
i 1)
: r-
' e.
h ~ n
d of
. nt
.. .ty
~ A I
consider Baal as the historical precursor of the Phoenician city gods. "
Baal is the patron of the state, but he is also the eponym and leader of
the rpum, the beneficent dead; in his capacity as rpu, he is healer/sa-
viour, says Xella. He then goes on to describe Eshmun's function as a
healing deity as a secondary development.
It is easily seen that if there
is such a close diachronic continuity between Baal and Eshmun, then
this is an indication-but no proof-that the latter may be a dying and
rising deity. How are we to envisage the development of Eshmun, and
how close are his relations to Baal?
It is tempting to believe that the city god of Sidon acquired his heal-
ing capacities only at a second stage of development. Could it also be
that this characteristic of his is due to his identification with Asclepius?
The interpretatio Graeca of Eshmun as Asclepius must have taken
place some time during the fifth through second centuries B.C.E.
It is
presupposed in a Punic trilingual inscription from the second century
B.C.E. (KAI 66). As we shall see, however, Eshmun's role as a god of
healing was not the result of influence from the Asclepius cult but be-
longs to his characteristics from early on.
Prior to the time of the Eshmun-Asclepius equation, Melqart and
Eshmun appear together as the city gods of the Phoenicians in the state
treaties of Ashur-nirari and Esarhaddon.
In the latter context Melqart I
and Eshmun are said to be able to take away the food, the clothes and
"the oil for your anointing".
Of course oil may here appear as a com-
modity for everyday use, but the medical use of oil may be included as
My translation of Xella (1993: 496): " ... es bestehen kaum Zweifel, dass wir im ugaritischen
Baal in jeder Hinsicht den historischen Vorlaufer der phOnizischen Stadtgi:itter sehen ki:innen."
Xella finds a basic continuity from Haddu, Baal of Ugarit, to Melqart, Baal of Tyre. and Esh-
mun, Baal of Sidon.
Xella (1993: 496).
On this development, see Baudissin (191!: 219-230), Xella (!988: 62-63; 1993: 482-488) and
Lipinski (1995: 155-156), all with ample references to literature about Asclepius. Note the col-
lection and interpretation of the testimonies about Asclepius by E.J. Edelstein and L Edelstein
( 1945) and for a recent treatment see Graf and Ley (Der Neue Pauly 2: 94-100). On Asclepius
and the ancient Near East, see Burkert (1992: 75-79), who notes the cultic role of dogs as a con-
nection with Mesopotamian Gula.
See SAA 2, 2, VI: 22 (the treaty between Ashur-nirari V and Mati'ilu of Arpad) and SAA 2, 5,
IV: 14 (the treaty between Esarhaddon and Baal ofTyre). Text in Parpola and Watanabe (1988).
In the treaty between Hannibal and Philip of Macedonia, we find Heracles and lolaus (Polybius,
Hist. VII, 9, 2), the latter seemingly replacing Eshmun. Baudissin (1911: 282-310) and Barre
( 1983: 77-78) identify Iolaus in this treaty with Eshmun. Note then Iolaus' role in healing
Melqart (above Chap. III.!).
SAA 2, 5, IV: 14ff. Text in Parpola and Watanabe (1988).
' .
It is worthwhile considering the probable etymology for the name of
Eshmun. Lipinski ( 1973) made a strong case for an etymology of the
name that takes the aleph in 'smn as a prosthetic and connects the name
with the root for "oil" (smn). Lipinski suggests that the background of
the name lies in the medical use of oil for the anointing of the sick. How
far back can we trace a deity with a name based on the Semitic word for
"oil"? Let us follow the tracks.
Pedanius Dioscourides, the great pharmacologist during the reigns
of Claudius and Nero, lists a herb that the "Africans" (Punics) call
which should probably be understood as "herb of the
eshmunim", the first element being a cognate of Hebrew l a ~ i r and the
second one an appellative for "healers", as suggested by Lipinski.
this is correct, Eshmun' s connection with healing was then known to the
Punics in North Africa.
The healing capacity of Eshmun may also be inferred from inscrip-
tions from Amrith (ca. fifth century B.C.E.) and Kition (fourth century).
In both these contexts we find the votive formula "for he had heard their
voice" in connection with Eshmun( -Melqart).
But, admittedly, there
is no explicit reference to healing here. This, however, does occur in a
Punic inscription (KA/ no. 66).
In Isaiah 59:10, lQisa has the reading b>smwnym kmytym, which is
I obscure but has been understood by Lipinski as meaning "among
healers we are as dead men".
The earliest attestations of Eshmun were long supposed to be in the
state treaties of Ashur-nirari and Esarhaddon (discussed above). How-
ever, we have now access to a much earlier source mentioning Eshmun,
one which is moreover in a context where the medical abilities of the
god must have been of vital interest. This is in The London Medical Pa-
pyrus, published by Wreszinski in 1912. Here we find, transcribed into
Egyptian hieratic syllabic script (group writing), a number of short
Northwest Semitic magical texts. In a contribution from 1992, Steiner
called Semitic scholars' attention to these texts.
In text no. 28 there
is a clear reference to Eshmun ([>j-5-m-n) and probably also to Ashtart
( >-s-t+r), known as Eshmun's spouse in Sidon.
Text no. 33 contains
Pedanius Dioscourides, De materia medica IV, 70 RV (ed. Wellmann, vol. 2: 228).
Lipinski (1973: 167-170). I would like to suggest that the first part of the word may be due to
an adaptation of the Semitic word to the phonotactic properties of Greek.
See Bordreuil (1985: 221-230), Puech (1986), and Lipinski (1995b), and note Kition; see Guz-
zo Amadasi and Karageorghis (Kition Ill: A 24).
Lipinski (1973: 179 a"Id 1995: 161).
See Steiner ( 1992) and his translation and notes in COS (I: 328-329).
Steiner (1992: 194). Steiner comments on the initial aleph in note 27.
te of
< 1e
u of
l or
.. 1e
. the
1 1e
1 ).
,t IS
1 v-
. he
1 er
< JS
I to
a reference to an unnamed deity, denoted as "my healer" (r-p-y). These
texts-dated to some time 15etween the fourteenth and twelfth centuries
-present Eshmun in a context where he appears in his capa-
city as a healing deity. The suggested etymology from the root for "oil"
thereby receives confirmation.
From broadly the same period, the Late Bronze Age, there are refer-
ences in the Ugaritic ritual texts to a deity smn.
What we have here is
a reference to a god whose name is from a root that is probably the same
as the one in the name of Phoenician Eshmun but without the prosthetic
aleph. In KTU 1.41: 44-45 this deity is preceded by Baal, Sapan, Baal
of U garit and Ilish, deities belonging to the Baal circle of gods. In KTU
1.164: 3-9 he occurs together with Ilib and El.
While being aware of the wide margins of uncertainty, I am inclined
to see a degree of continuity here. If this is correct it is worth noticing
the possibility that this line may be traced back as early as Ebla. As Xel-
la has reminded us in several contributions, there appears in Eblaite the-
ophoric personal names a god whose name is written zi-mi-nu/na.
This name is possibly, but not necessarily, a formation from the same
root as the name of Eshmun. As Pomponio and Xella point out: "One is
... strongly tempted to recognize in this designation the term for 'oil'
(smn), even if this hypothesis meets with phonetic obstacles and cannot
be confirmed by prosopographical observations."
43 1
Tracing the background of Eshmun we thus find that he is attested
as early as the Egyptian New Kingdom (The London Medical Papyrus,
above). A god with a name based on the root for oil may occur in Ugarit
and perhaps also in Ebla. The nature of the deity in Ugarit and Ebla re-
mains unknown. We are not able to adduce any textual evidence that
brings Eshmun in express connection with Baal in his surmised capacity
as the chthonic Healer, rpu. One should also remember that the evidence
adduced for Baal precisely in this capacity has been interpreted in dif-
ferent ways (see above, Chap. II.3)
It is true that we know from Kition on Cyprus an inscription refer-
ring to a god b<J mrp), "the healing Lord", who would seem to be ident-
For this date, see Steiner (1992: 191 note 5).
See KTU 1.41: 44-45; 1.87: 48-50 (translation of these two texts in COS 1: 299ff.. Pardee);
1.164:9 (translation in TO 2: 229ff., de Tarragon). Xella (1983b: 403-404) called attention to
these occurrences.
See Xella (1983a: 290: 1988: 58-59; 1993: 497), Ribichini (1985: 56-57) and Lipinski (1995:
155). For the material, see now Pomponio and Xella (1997: 523).
My translation, Pomponia and Xella (1997: 523-524): "La tentation d'y reconnaitre le tem1c
pour 'graisse' * ~ m n ... ) ... est forte, meme si cette hypothese se heurte a des obstacles phone-
tiques et ne peut ctre confirrnee par I' etude prosopographique."
, I'
,;:. :,
ical with 'smn mlqn (on whom see above).
I regard the reference as
an epithet of this Eshmun. The word b'l is here rather an appellative
than a proper name, pointing back to Late Bronze Age Baal. It therefore
does not seem obvious to me that this can be used to connect Eshmun
with Late Bronze Age Baal in his surmised capacity as rpu.
Where does all this take us for the understanding of Eshmun? The
suggested etymology that Eshmun's name derives from the well-known
Northwest Semitic word for "oil" and the line that traces Phoenician
Eshmun back to an earlier god smn, known from U garit, together con-
siderably weaken the strength of the claim made for a continuity from
Late Bronze Age Baal to Eshmun. The only possible indication of Esh-
mun as a dying and rising god prior to the time of Damascius may be at
hand in his close relations with Melqart, attested in some Neo- Assyrian
vassal treaties and in Phoenician material from Cyprus.
3. Conclusions
(1) Eshmun was the city god of Sidon. Some scholars have drawn a
line from the Late Bronze Age Baal, as we know him from U garit, to
the Phoenician Eshmun: Baal in his surmised capacity as the healer/sa-
viour par excellence (rpu), as a result of his descensus to the Nether-
/ world (see above, Chap. II.3), is supposed to stand behind the
Phoenician god who developed healing capacities and became identi-
fied with Asclepius. Our analysis has led us in a slightly different direc-
tion. Using the etymology of Eshmun's name to trace his ancestry we
found that another Ugaritic god (smn) is a possible candidate for the po-
sition of Eshmun's progenitor. There are no obvious indications of a
line of continuity from Baal to Eshmun.
(2) Contrary to what others have argued, Eshmun's healing capa-
cities are not due to a secondary development. His name is connected
with a Semitic root for "oil", and oil was important in the treatment of
the sick from earliest times. At present, the earliest attestation of Esh-
mun's name is found in an Egyptian medical papyrus, dated to some
time between the fourteenth and twelfth centuries B.C.E.
(3) The passage in Damascius that scholars have used as the point of
departure for conclusions about Eshmun as a dying and rising deity con-
tains certain features that derive from the Attis cult (e.g. self-emascula-
tion, the mother of the gods). It is then impossible to determine whether
the resuscitation of Esmounos in this context derives from the cult of
See Guzzo Amadasi and Karageorghis (Kition lll: A 26).
. n

t> !it
. n
, ...
I sa-

)f a
l,- .1-

t of
Attis, who was by then a dying and rising god, or from genuine Eshmun
tradition from the Phoenician mainland.
( 4) The question whether Eshmun was a dying and rising deity is dif-
ficult to answer. There is a place name that refers to "the Tomb of Esh-
mun". We find in al-Biruni a reference to the heroization of Eshmun in
fire. But these two data may be due to the close relationship between
Eshmun and Melqart, documented in Neo-Assyrian vassal treaties and
in Phoenician material from Cyprus. One could here argue in either of
two directions: (a) That Eshmun was a god of precisely the same type
as Melqart, a dying and rising deity, and that this provided the impetus
to pair the two gods together on Cyprus. (b) That the process was the
reverse: that the pairing of the gods gave the impetus to a Melqart influ-
ence on Eshmun so that Eshmun's heroization was described in the
same terms as that of Heracles-Melqart. The latter seems to me the more
probable alternative. It is then possible, but not proved, that Eshmun
was a dying and rising god already during the centuries before the
Christian era.


Comparative Perspectives: Osiris and
the West Semitic Gods
After our perusal of the material for Baal, Adonis, Melqart, and Esh-
mun, it is now time to bring Osiris and Dumuzi into the general picture
and to raise two questions: (1) Is either of these deities to be understood
as a dying and rising deity? and (2) Are there traces of an influence from
either of these two on the West Semitic gods?
A plethora of facts seems to reinforce the superficial impression of
an Egyptian fixation with death. Thomas Mann once coined the expres-
sion that Egypt is a country where the dead are gods and the gods are
Thus, "gods" was a common designation for the inhabitants of
the other world, and the necropolis could be referred to as the place
where the gods are.
Erik Hornung, in his classic Der Eine und die Vie-
len: Agyptische Gottesvorstellungen, devotes an important chapter to
the characteristics of the gods, in which he notes that gods may grow old
and die.
Hornung here makes an important observation: "Like men, the
gods die, but they are not dead. Their existence-and all existence-is
not an unchanging endlessness, but rather constant renewal." And he
adds that, for the Egyptians, constant regeneration was part of duration:
"The blessed dead and the gods are rejuvenated in death and regenerate
themselves at the wellsprings of their existence."
1. Osiris: His Festivals and His Relation to Corn
Throughout the history of ancient Egyptian religion we can notice the
growing importance of Osiris.
Egyptian religion is marked by a pecu-
liar lack of attestations of narrative forms of religious discourse. This
Thomas Mann, Joseph und seine Bruder: Joseph in Agypten, at the end of the chapter "Drei-
facher Austausch": "Euere Toten sind Giitter und euere Giitter sind Tote, und ihr wisst nicht,
was das ist: der lebendige Gott."
Hornung (1983: German ed. p. 149; English ed. p. 156)
Hornung (1983: German ed. pp. 143-159; English ed. pp. 151-165). On otiose deities in Egypt,
see Hollis ( 1998). Our primary concern in the present context, however, is not such otiose de-
ities. My thanks to Lana Troy (p.c.) for the reference to Hollis.
Hornung ( 1983: English ed. p. 160; German ed. p. 153 ). On constant regeneration, he refers to
a work by S Morenz which is not available to me (Religion und Geschichte, p. 222).
, I
1 I

has led some scholars to argue for a real lack of coherent myths in an-
cient times (a Mythendeji"zit).
John Baines, on the contrary, prefers to
explain this as being due to the character of the source material: the pre-
dominance of ritual in the written records and the preference for oral
tradition in the production and preservation of mythological material.
The situation thus does not warrant conclusions e silentio as to the non-
existence of myths before the Late Period. Though as late an author as
Plutarch, in De /side et Osiride (ca.lOO C.E.),
gives us the fullest ac-
count of Osiris' mythology, the main outlines nevertheless seem to be
clear already in the Pyramid Texts.
Lichtheim finds the most complete
Egyptian account extant in the Great Hymn to Osiris on the stele of
Amenmose (eighteenth dynasty).
1.1. The Festivals of Osiris
Two festivals should be particularly mentioned. The "Great Proces-
sion" at Abydos, an eminently local festival to which people neverthe-
less came from all over the country, took place at the time of the rising
of the inundation of the Nile (that is, the middle of the summer).
were three central events on this occasion: (a) A great procession that
brought the statue of Osiris to the necropole area Poker, (b) the god's
staying over night in his tomb, and (c) the return of the god to the temple
under jubilation. Abydos was a place where the early kings were buried;
Osiris was celebrated like a dead king. There is, as Frankfort underlines,
no question of a return of Osiris to the land of the living.
The ritual
burial of Osiris is known since the Middle Kingdom, and Ptolemaic
temples had rooms called the "tomb of Osiris".
On Osiris, see especially Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 181-212, 286-294), Helck (1962), Chassinat
(1966-1968), Griffiths (1980 and LA 4: 623-633, with references), Beinlich (1984), Assmann
(1984: 117-124, 149-177), and Koch (1993: Chaps. 7, 10, 14, 26). I have found the surveys by
Griffiths especially helpful.
Assmann (1977: 7-43; 1984: 117-124, 149-177) and K. Koch (1989: 28-33 with references).
Koch uses the word Mythendefizit. For a compact presentation of the phenomenon of myth in
ancient Egypt, see Emma Brunner-Traut (LA 4: 277-286).
Baines (1991). I owe this reference to Lana Troy (p.c.).
On this text, seeS. Herrmann (1957: 48-55) and Griffiths (1970).
Griffiths (LA 4: 626) and Koch (1993: 162).
Lichtheim (AEL 2: 81).
On this festival, see Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 192f., 203-207) and Koch (1993: 212-214). See
also Kees (1926: 348-375).
Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 204).
See Podemann S!l)rensen (1989: 82 with references) and Koch (1993: 151-170). On the tomb
of Osiris, see also Griffiths (LA 4: 630) .
~ l
The other festival, or series of festivals, took place at the end of the
period of inundation (3-lJt), in the month of Khoiak (roughly December).
It is known to us from a long inscription in Denderah (Ptolemaic).
Osiris celebrations took place during the month of Khoiak, more pre-
cisely Khoiak 18-30 (New Kingdom) or Khoiak 12-30 (Late Period).
After various preparations, the funeral took place during Khoiak 24-30
and ended with the erection of the Djed pillar on the 30th of the month
as an emblem of Osiris' resurrection.
From the New Kingdom and on-
wards there was a close connection between the Djed pillar and Osiris.
The Djed pillar was even anthropomorphized as Osiris, as clearly ap-
pears from Amann's study.
The celebrations during the month of
Khoiak were followed by the season denoted as prt, "the coming out (of
the seeds)".
Two important features of the Khoiak festivals should be noted here:
(a) The central role of so-called Osiris gardens or Osiris effigies, with
sprouting com that symbolized the resurrection of the god (see below).
These com mummies seem to represent the reunification of the mem-
bers of the murdered Osiris. (b) The use of what Assmann has denoted
as "Erhebe-dich-Litaneien" ("raise-yourself litanies"). About a hundred
occurrences of the expression Js Jw, "raise yourself', are known already
in the Pyramid Texts; the genre then becomes increasingly important in
mortuary literature.
Burkard has edited a good example which derives
from the Book of the Dead (no. 168), with lines beginning anaphorically
with Js Jw, "raise yourself'.
The dead Osiris, on lit de parade, is sum-
moned to rise again. The context is probably the Khoiak celebrations.
1.2. Osiris and Corn
Osiris is not from beginning a genuine god of vegetation and never de-
velops into one. Vegetation is for him a sort of "side task".
He thus
had a close connection with com.
Osiris was linked with Orion and
On the Khoiak festival(s), see Chassinat (1966-1968), Daumas (Lii 1: 958-960, with refer-
ences). Altenmtiller (Lii 2: 175-176). and Koch (1993: 560-563).
See Koch (1993: 561) and see also Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 128, 193, 374 n. I).
Amann (1983: 46-62).
See Assmann (1984: 151-156, esp. p. 155).
See Burkard (1995: 23-46 and his comments on pp. 8-10).
Thus Klaus Koch (p.c., November 2000).
See Griffiths (1980: 151-170) and Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 185-190). A work that I have not
had access to but that may be relevant in the present context is P. Koemoth, Osiris etles arb res.
Contribution a l 'etude des arb res sac res de I'Egypte ancienne (Aegyptiaca Leodiensia 3 ).
Liege 1994.
Sothis (Sirius or the Dog Star) already in the Pyramid Texts. "Sothis
was the harbinger of the annual inundation of the Nile through her ap-
pearance with the rising sun at the time when the inundation was due to
begin. The bright star would therefore naturally become, together with
the conjoined constellation of Orion, the sign and symbol of new veget-
ation which the Year then beginning would infallibly bring with it",
says Griffiths.
The Khoiak festival took place four months after the
beginning of the inundation of the Nile.
Focussing more narrowly on Osiris and corn, Griffiths calls attention
to three points.
(a) He finds the earliest association of Osiris with corn
in a reference in line 31 of the Dramatic Ramesseum Papyrus from the
time of Sesostris I (Middle Kingdom). This line ends: "beating Osiris:
hacking the god to pieces: barley .'.23 (b) He also notes an express iden-
tification of Osiris and Neper, a divine personification of the growing
corn, in the Book of the Dead (Chap. 142, line 7).
As a corollary of
this we find references to Osiris as the maker of corn.
(c) Finally, he
notes the importance of the so-called corn mummies.
The corn mummy-which has also been designated with other mod-
ern names, such as "Osiris bed", "Kornosiris", "Osiris vegetant", etc.-
is a roughly made mummy-shaped image of Osiris, consisting of soil
and seeds (fig. 6.1).
With Frankfort we may distinguish between two
aspects of this phenomenon:
(a) Osiris beds that are known from the funerary ritual, and
(b) Osiris beds in temples, especially in the context of the Khoiak fest-
ival, a phenomenon with clear attestations only from the Late Period.
The early phenomenon in funerary contexts is known as a funerary
gift for kings and nobles already during the New Kingdom.
The equa-
Griffiths (1980: 157, 159). See also L. Kakosy (Vi 5: 110-117).
For the following, see Griffiths (1980: 163-170).
Griffiths (1980: 163).
Griffiths (1980: 166). Addition to the proofs: This identification occurs already in the Coffin
Texts, II, 95e (J. Podemann Sfl)rensen, p.c.).
For instance, in the Contendings of Horus and Seth, see ANET (14-17, p. 16 col. b, top [Wil-
son]) and Lichtheim (AEL 2: 214-223, pp. 221-222) and note Blackman (1938: 1-3).
Griffiths (1980: 167-170).
On these, see Scharff (1947: 38-39), Frankfort ([1948=] 1962: 290-291), Bonnet (RAR 391-
392), Chassinat (1966-1968 vol. 1: 4lff., 53ff., 69ff.), Griffiths (1980: 167-170), Seeber (Vi 3:
744-746), and Beinlich (1984: 272-289). Fig. 6.1 is from Budge (1911: vol. 1:58).
Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 291).
See Griffiths (1980: 167-169).
~ .
~ t
6.1. Mummy of Osiris with sprouting corn. Bas-relief from the roof temple of Philae.
tion that the deceased = Osiris = germinating com is attested already in
the Coffin Texts.
The small three-dimensional Osiris effigies in Ptolemaic temples
had a place of prominence in the Khoiak celebrations. "In the Osirian
Festival of Khoiak the mould ( btj) in the shape of the Osiris-figure with
sprouting plants (implying life after death) was placed in a trough called
a 'garden' (i)spt) .. .''
The vessel used could be of stone or gold or sil-
The Khoiaktext from Dendara gives us a proper glimpse of the
production of such a com mummy.
The two halves of a mould of
metal, the interior of which was Osiris-shaped, were spread with cloth
and then filled with earth and grain seeds. The seeds were watered from
12th to 21st Khoiak, after which the two halves were taken out from the
mould, plastered with a substance, and joined together to form a three-
dimensional Osiris figure. On the 24th Khoiak of the following year,
this com mummy was laid in a coffin and was buried on the 30th of
Seeber (Lii 3: 744).
Griffiths (LA' 4: 630). On the Egyptian term i)spt, see Erman and Grapow, Wiirterbuch (3: 162,
See Seeber (Lii 3: 745) and Frankfort ([ 1948=] 1962: 291 ).
See Bein1ich ( 1984: 272-289, esp. p. 272).
Khoiak. When thus a com mummy of the preceding year was buried at
the festival, we may infer that this com mummy lived through the ve-
getation cycle of a whole year and was looked after the whole time.
2. Osiris: A Dying and Rising God?
Frazer in The Golden Bough concludes that Osiris was a dying and
rising god of essentially the same nature as Adonis, that he was origin-
ally a human who died, and that basically he was a personification of
the com.
There are fascinating temple scenes depicting the resurrec-
tion of Osiris in the Ptolemaic-Roman Osiris temple at Dendara (fig.
Nevertheless, Egyptologists have not failed to put on record
fundamental disagreement with Frazer about this understanding of Os-
iris. Though there may be points of contact on the ritual level between
Osiris and Adonis, to which we shall return below, there is a fundamen-
tal difference on the level of myth. Assmann notes as the most important
point that the myth of Osiris comprised two generations: Osiris rose to
new life in his son, Horus; Osiris himself remained as the "dead father"
in the Netherworld.
Frankfort, who devoted particular attention to the
elaborates on a critique of Frazer voiced already by Gardiner,
and concludes that,
Osiris, in fact, was not a "dying" god at all but a "dead" god. He never returned
among the living; he was not liberated from the world of the dead, ... On the con-
trary, Osiris altogether belonged to the world of the dead; it was from there that
he bestowed his blessings upon Egypt. He was always depicted as a mummy, a
dead king, ..
Beinlich (1984: 281).
Frazer (especially GB
vol. 4:1 p. 6; 4:2 pp. 96-114, esp. pp. 96-107). Heick revived Frazer's
theory, though in a modified form: Osiris and Adonis had a common background in an east-
Mediterranean myth about a dying shepherd, see Heick (1962: 472-473).
Mariette ( 1870: vol. 4, pl. 90). My thanks to J0rgen Podemann S0renscn (p.c.) for the reference
to these temple scenes.
Assmann (1984: !57).
Note the excursus in Frankfort ([1948 =]1962: 286-294) and note also Frankfort (1958: 145-
Gardiner (1915: 121-126, esp. p. 123): "[T]he resurrection of Osiris ... was not that of a young
and vigorous god of vegetation, but that of a dead king recalled in the tomb to a semblance of
his former life" (p. 123).
Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 289; see alsop. 185).
j :::tt
r -
1 of
e .. -
~ )
( -
6.2. Osiris, mourned by Isis and Nephtys. The picture also shows how Isis, in the
shape of a falcon, approaches Osiris to receive his semen. From the Osiris temple at
6.3. Osiris rising from his bed to a floating position. From the Osiris temple at Den-
Frankfort further notes that "at every ceremony Osiris appeared as a god
who had passed through death, who survived in the sense that he was
not utterly destroyed, but who did not return to life. His resurrection
meant his entry upon life in the Beyond, ... "
Osiris, thus, was not a
"dying god" but a "dead god", says Frankfort.
Frankfort ([1948=] 1962: 185).
Frankfort ( \1948=] 1962: 1 85).
I :
6.4. Osiris' resurrection completed. From the same group of pictures in Dendara as
Osiris was and remained the god of the dead, and it has been sug-
gested that it was this capacity of his that accounts for the non-occur-
rence of his name throughout the Old and Middle Kingdoms as a part of
a personal name.
Alternatively, this may be explained from the fact
that everyone (originally only the king), after his transfiguration, be-
came Osiris-so-and-so, so that his personal name became Osiris-N.
This transformation could not be anticipated, and thus the lack of theo-
phorous personal names with the element Osiris.
The ritual identi-
fication of the dead person with Osiris purported to make him an Osiris
for his family, a source of life for his near family and kin.
The above quotation from Frankfort about Osiris as a "dead god"
needs some qualification. When saying that Osiris remained in the
Netherworld, we should remember that his life there was not the life of
a dead person and should not be judged from modem Western scepti-
cism over against the possibility of post-mortal existence.
we recall Hornung's statement, quoted above, to the effect that the gods
die, but they are not dead. Osiris was a most active character in his
Netherworld life. He was as little dead as the Mesopotamian Nether-
world gods Nergal and Ereshkigal.
Griffiths (1980: 159) with a reference to Heick's study of theophorous personal names of the
Old Kingdom, see Heick (1954: 27-33). The situation changed in the 21-22 dynasties.
On this process of democratization, see R.B. Finnestad (1989: 89-93). I owe this reference to
Lana Troy (p.c.).
This is the explanation Klaus Koch suggests (p.c., November 2000).
See Erman (1934: 217-218) and Podemann S!ilrensen (2001: 116-117).
This was pointed out to me by Klaus Koch (p.c., November 2000).
On these as being not dead, see Bottero (1995: 277).
a as
l of



I his
I r-
1ce to




Weighing the evidence for and against understanding Osiris as a
dying and rising god, comparable to the West Semitic gods, we arrive
at the following conclusions: Osiris was a real god, whether or not he
was from beginning a human being. He was no proper vegetation god
but was involved with the major seasonal changes in nature. This was
manifested in rite. He both died and rose. But, and this is important, he
rose to continued life in the Netherworld, and the general connotations
are that he was a god of the dead.
3. Osiris and the West Semitic Gods
Egyptian gods must have been known in the Levant during the Late
Bronze Age, the time of the Egyptian empire, and probably already dur-
ing the latter part of the Early Bronze Age. During later periods, names
of Egyptian deities even occur as theophoric elements in Phoenician
and Punic personal names This testifies to the continued importance of
cultural contacts between Egypt and the rest of the Mediterranean
Thus, Isis occurs as an onomastic element from the eighth cen-
tury and onwards and Osiris as early.
An inscription from Cyprus
( C/S no. 46) mentions a married couple, the husband carrying the name
(bd >sr and the wife the name >mt(strt, thus one with Osiris as the thed-
phoric element of the name, and the other with Ash tart. The similarities
between Osiris and the Levantine gods Adon(is) and Melqart makes it
imperative to consider the possibility of syncretistic developments.
3. I. Osiris and Adonis
Possible connections between Osiris and Adonis have often been
noted. 5
However, express identifications are rare and all of them are
late. The main testimonies are those of (Pseudo-)Lucian, Damascius,
On such theophoric elements, see Lemaire (1986: 87-98 with references). On the over-arching
issue of Egyptian influence in Syria and Palestine during the Bronze Age, see Heick ( 1971 a).
Specifically on Egyptian temples in this region, see the literature mentioned in Mettinger
(1995: 54, note 89). On the Egyptian influence on Phoenician religion, see G. Scandone Mat-
thiae (1981: 61-80).
Lemaire ( 1986: 93-98).
For previous discussions, see Baudissin (1911: 185-202), Gressmann (1923: 15-17, 22-23), de
Vaux ([1933=]1967: 379-405), Frankfort ([1948=] 1962: 286-294), Heick (1962: 472-473).
Soyez ( 1977: 53-75), and Ribichini (1981: 176-181)
and Stephanus of Byzantium. Stephanus, in his entry on Amathonte
(Cyprus), thus notes that there was a cult of Adonis-Osiris at this
Damascius speaks about worship in Alexandria and refers to
"the mystical syncretism [8wKpaoiaJ" of Osiris and Adonis.
The au-
thor of De Dea Syria notes that "[t]here are some inhabitants of Byblos
who say that the Egyptian Osiris is buried among them and that all the
laments and the rites are performed not for Adonis but for Osiris."
One would of course like to know how old such an association be-
tween Osiris and Adonis is, particularly at Byblos which was a major
cultic centre of Adonis, and what the effects were of this association on
the worshippers' understanding of Adonis. The answers, regrettably,
can only be highly tentative and approximate.
Plutarch tells about Osiris and Isis in Byblos.
Of this story, how-
ever, there are no traces at all in the early Osiris myth.
Moreover, it
contains several features which are aptly explained as resulting from the
influence of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. 5
Nevertheless, the con-
nections between Egypt and Byblos are, indeed, of a special kind and
very old. The local ruler uses Egyptian language and writing, recog-
nizes Pharaoh as his right lord, and carries the title of an Egyptian offi-
cial, b3ty- ', "nomarch", "mayor".
In the Amarna letters, the ruler of
Byblos says that Byblos is like Memphis to the king (Pharaoh).
ever, no extant Egyptian or Semitic information contains an explicit ref-
erence to an official cult of Osiris in Byblos.
Even so, Osiris must have been k11own at Byblos long before the
days of Plutarch. I assume with Griffiths that there was a Byblite cult of
Osiris at least during the New Kingdom, a conclusion that Griffiths
draws on the basis of finds of Osirian statuary in Byblos and indications
of a syncretism between Hathor and Ashtart.
Attempts have been
made to date such an Egyptian cult in Byblos still earlier. Scholars have
adduced certain references in the Pyramid Texts, but the exact import of
Stephanus of Byzantium says in the entry about this place:' Af!afloil<;": ... v 1] "Aowvu; "Ompu;
rnwho. ov Atyt)rrnov ovta KunpLOL Ka'c <!>oivLKE<;" .LOLOJIOLOUVtal, quoted after Baudissin ( 1911:
Damascius, Vita lsidori (German translation R. Asmus 1911: 64; Greek text quoted in Baudis-
sin 1911: 185).
De Dea Syria 7; the translation quoted is by Attridge and Oden (1976: 15).
Plutarch, De !side et Osiride 357 A-D( 15-16).
Griffiths (1980: 28).
See especially S. Herrmann (1957: 48-55).
See Heick (197la: 246). See also Scandone Matthiae (1991: 401-406; 1994: 37-48) and Heick
(1994: I 05-111 ).
EA 84: 37; 139: 8.
Griffiths (1970: 321-322 with references).
t this
1e au-
1 .he
n be-
l .. on
1_ IV-
er, it
c 1-
~ r of
t of
I -
~ l k
these loci is contested.
However, an interesting archaeological find
from Byblos was brought into the discussion by Gabriella Scandone:
the text on a torso of a statuette, with a possible date from the Middle
Kingdom, mentions in juxtaposition "Hathor, the Lady of Byblos, and
Osiris, the Lord of Busiris".
In addition, it is worth noticing that in
Egyptian texts Hathor has from very early times and onwards, as a stock
epithet, precisely the designation "Lady of Byblos".
As a late corol-
lary of this we find on the Yehawmilk stele (fifth century B.C.E.) a men-
tion of b (It gbl, "the Lady of Byblos", depicted with the Hathor
Against this background, we should calculate with the possible pres-
ence of a cult of Osiris at Byblos from the Late Bronze Age and onward,
and perhaps even earlier.
The date for an Osiris-Adonis syncretism in
the eastern Mediterranean is more difficult to assess, but we should note
that Egyptian gods were generically open to ever new combinations.
Let us then consider the possible implications of the presence of Os-
iris at sites with Adonis cults, both at Byblos and elsewhere. Both sim-
ilarities and differences are to be taken into consideration.
(I) Let us begin with the former. These are found on the ritual level.
(a) A distinct similarity is that both cults have recourse to verbal and
ritual language expressing notions of resurrection. We cannot disregard/
the possibility that there was here an exchange between the two cults.
Saying this, I am not implying that the Adonis cult owes the resurrection
motif to Osiris; I am only suggesting that there was the possibility of
contact here.
(b) Notably, the Adonis gardens lend themselves to comparison
with the com mummies of the Osiris cult. It is not clear, however, if one
phenomenon owes its existence to inspiration from the other, and still
less in which direction such a traffic would have gone.
At Alexandria,
the use of precious metal (silver) for these baskets reminds us of the use
of such metal for the moulds of the com Osiris, while we otherwise hear
of vessels of clay used for the Adonis gardens.
See Montet ( 1928: 288-289) and Heick ( 1962: 506), referring to the Pvramid Texts (590a, 634c,
903a, 21 07b). Griffiths ( 1980: 28-34) doubts the validity of the evidence adduced.
Scandone (1994: 44). The item is reproduced and described in M. Dunand (1937: pl. 43, no.
1051 and 1939: 18-19, no. 1051).
On this, see G. Scandone Matthiae (1991: 401-406).
See ANEP no. 477 or Gibson (TSSI II, pl. IV; text, ibid. pp. 93ff).
Those scholars assuming an earlier date for Osiris in Byblos include de Yaux ([1933=] 1967:
388). Heick (1962: esp. col. 506), Hani (1976: 62-79), Ribichini (1981: 178-179), Lemaire
(1986: 95 with further references), and G. Scandone (1994: 44).
See de Vaux 0 1933=]1967: 379-392) and Frankfort ([1948=]1962: 291)
(c) Another point of similarity is the treatment of the Adonis effigy
in the rites at Alexandria. Though not quite clear on the matter, Theocri-
tus (Idyll XV, 133) is generally understood to have referred to throwing
Adonis in effigy into the waves of the sea as the final part of these cel-
ebrations.68 This lends itself to comparison with the mythological tra-
dition about Osiris' drowning.
This feature might well be due to the
association of the two gods in the minds of the worshippers.
This is
especially so, since there are no traces whatsoever in Theocritus of the
idea of bilocation in connection with Adonis.
(2) The similarities between Osiris and Adonis, however, do notal-
low us to disregard the essential differences. These are especially tan-
gible in the following points:
(a) Their status in relation to the goddess: Osiris is not dependent on
Isis. Adonis, on the contrary, takes the role of "Prince Consort" in rela-
tion to his spouse. In Byblos, the Adonia thus take place in the great
sanctuary of Aphrodite of Byblos.
(b) Their relation to kingship: The royalty of Osiris was a feature of
great importance to the Egyptians. "The firm bond which links Osiris
and kingship is one of the outstanding differences that demark the
Egyptian myth from those of Mesopotamia and Syria relating to Tam-
muz and Adonis respectively."
(c) Relation to the Netherworld: This is the major point of differ-
ence, as we have already noticed. Osiris rises in his son, Horus. He him-
self remains as the "dead father" in the realm of the dead. Osiris does
not rise from death in order to return to this world. In stark contrast to
this, the notion of bilocation is an outstanding characteristic of the myth
of Adonis, and we have also found ritual expressions of the notion of
Adonis' return to the realm of the living.
(3) As for Byblos, we should take into account the possibility of the
early presence of Osiris at this site, known for its long-standing contacts
with Egypt. Nevertheless, there are two important points that should not
be overlooked.
For the use of silver, see Theocritus, Idyll XV, 113-114.
According to a scholion to XV: 133, Adonis was thrown into the sea together with the Adonis
gardens, see Atallah (1966: 129).
On Osiris' death by drowning (as an alternative to his death by murder), see Griffiths (1980: 9,
75, 108-111, 160-163).
See de Vaux ([1933=]1967: 392) and Heick (1971b: 184).
De Dea Syria 6, at the beginning. On Osiris as taking precedence over Isis, see Frankfort
([1948=]1962: 289).
Griffiths (1980: 3-4, quotation from p. 3). See also Frankfort ([1948=) 1962: 292-293).
t .. g
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: ;
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j t
(a) Until the first millennium B.C.E. Hathor alone is understood as
the Lady of Byblos, and not Isis. Isis comes into the picture in this role
only during this late period.
(b) The existence of a proper Adonis-Osiris syncretism at Byblos
may hardly be assumed even as late as the tum of the era. As Ribichini
noticed, the author of De Dea Syria keeps Adonis and Osiris apart; he
does not connect the two personalities. His description in 6 is of "the
rites of Adonis", and only in 7 does he report that "some inhabitants
of Byblos" hold these rites to be performed for Osiris. Ribichini aptly
suggests the hypothesis that there were in Byblos worshippers of Osiris
who celebrated the Phoenician adventures of their god at the same time
as the Adonia took place.
( 4) On the other hand, a profound Osiris influence on Adonis may be
involved where Adonis appears as a chthonic deity. This seems to be the
case in the Adonis cult at Alexandria. Theocritus implies that Adonis'
visit was only a temporary one (and not a real case of bilocation).1
the defixiones found at Kourion Adonis is among the chthonic
powers who are able to inflict evil.
Note, however, that Dumuzi also
seems to exert an influence in the chthonic direction in Egypt.
We may then summarize our conclusions about Osiris and Adonis.
Outright identification of the two deities is a very late phenomenon, at-
tested in writers like Damascius and Stephanus of Byzantium. The
Adonis cult at Alexandria may have been influenced by Osiris. Byblos
had long-standing and close contacts with Egypt. Influence is therefore
certainly a possibility as far as the Adonis cult is concerned. It is diffi-
cult, however, to adduce concrete evidence that such a process actually
took place. Isis does not adopt the role of Lady of Byblos until the first
millennium. When all is said and done, one is inclined to conclude that
Osiris hardly had any formative influence on Adonis. Osiris is a god
who remains in the Netherworld.
See Scandone Matthiae (1991: 403ff., esp. p. 405).
Ribichini ( 1981: 179).
See above Chap. IV.2.
For Adonis and Adonia at Kourion with probably chthonic connotations, see Mitford ( 1971,
references in the indexes, pp. 411 and 415).
On the display rite (of the corpse or the grave goods) in connection with Adonis and Dumuzi.
see Chapters IV .2 and VII.l.2.
... ..
3.2. Osiris and Melqart
That there were tendencies to associate Osiris and Melqart is clear from
various observations. Thus, in the third Phoenician inscription from
Lamax tes Lapethou on Cyprus (LL no. 3), the high cultic functionary
of Melqart who carried the title mqm '1m, "the raiser/resuscitator of the
god" (line 1 ), tells that he set up a votary of himself(?) "in the presence
of my lord Melqart" (line 2) and one of his father "in the temple of the
goddess Ashtart" (line 6) and offered a lamp of gold "to my lord Osiris"
(line 5).
This takes place on different occasions, but we should note
that the high cultic functionary of Melqart feels free to denote Osiris as
his Lord. The date of this inscription is during the latter half of the
fourth century B.C.E.
Similarly, KAI no. 47 (Malta) offers the votive text dedicated to
Melqart, "the Lord of Tyre", by two brothers, both having names com-
pounded with the Osiris element, just as their father and grandfather
also had. The palaeography is Phoenician (not Punic), and the date is
second century B.C.E.
At Tyre itself a statue from the Roman period of an Osiris priest has
been found.
If we consider the Melqart mythology, there is one particular feature
that would seem to be an obvious result of influence from the notions
1 connected with Osiris: the myth of the death of the Phoenician Heracles
in Libya at the hands of Typhon. Athanaeus has this tradition from Eu-
doxus of Cnidus (fourth century B.C.E.).
Typhon is the interpretatio
Graeca of the Egyptian Seth, who murdered Osiris.
If therefore Ty-
phon equals Seth, then Melqart's fate comes close to that of Osiris.
Another point where a connection could be considered is in the use
of express resurrection terminology for Melqart. I am thinking of the
title of his leading cultic functionary, the mqm )lm, "the raiser/resus-
citator of the god".
It seems worthwhile to ask whether there is a con-
nection between this language and the central formula of the "raise-
yourself litanies" in the Osiris cult. The assumption of a connection is
not necessary, since we know of Semitic resurrection language that is
Text and translation in Honeyman (1938).
On these two stelae, see Bonnet (1988: 244-247).
SeeP. Dils (DCPP: 335 b), referring to zAS 31 (1893), 102 (no author stated by Dils), which
was not available to me.
See above, Chap. Ill.l.
See Plutarch, De !side et Osiride 41 and 49 (3670 and 371B). See also Herodotus II, 144
and 156. On Typhon, see Bonnet (1987a: 101-143), and on Typhon killing Heracles, Bonnet
(1988: 188).
See above, Chap. III.2.3
c 1
t h ~
c ~
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~ u -
, ....
probably independent of the Osiris cult.
However, since the title of the
cult functionary of Melqart is the only case of express resurrection lan-
guage in the sources for gods who die and return, and since there is evid-
ence for close contacts between Melqart and Osiris, I am strongly
inclined to explain the expression as due to Osirian influence. If there
was such a connection between Melqart and Osiris, however, we should
remember that the resurrection of the Egyptian god was a resurrection
to continued life in the Netherworld, and not a return to full and unim-
paired life on earth.
Certainly, we should not think of the bones of Melqart, mentioned
by Pomponius Mela in connection with Gades,
as something closely
parallel to the bones of Osiris among the so-called Osiris relics.
would rather see here a Greek motif, comparable to the bones of Orestes
and the bones of Theseus.
Nevertheless, Philostratus' description of the Melqart/Heracles cult
at Gades contains a feature that could perhaps be seen in the light of a
connection between Melqart and Osiris. Apollonius speaks of a dual
cult at Gades of "both of one and the other Hercules" and goes on to dis-
tinguish between "the Egyf,tian Hercules" and "the Theban".
The lat-
ter is the Greek Heracles.
De Dea Syria speaks of the sanctuary of
Heracles at Tyre, who is not "the Heracles whom the Greeks celebrate"
( 3). The Egyptian Hercules at Gades is then, presumably, the Tyrian
Melqart. If so, there must be some reason for describing the Tyrian
Melqart as the Egyptian Hercules.
If he had become associated with
Osiris, we would understand this way of referring to him. Note that
there is a reference to the Tyrian Heracles as "a Tyrian heros".
We may then summarize the relationship between Osiris and
Melqart. There is evidence for contact between the cults of Osiris and
Melqart on Cyprus and Malta from the centuries before the tum of the
era. There is also evidence for a mythological combination of the two
See above Chap. IIL2.3.
Pomponius Mela, De Chorographia Ill, 46. Further references are found in Bonnet ( 1988:
21 1).
On the "Osiris relics", see Beinlich ( 1984: esp. the references on p. 3 I 9 under "Knochen").
On the bones of Orestes and Theseus, see Richardson ( 1996: 56). The bones of Orestes are
mentioned by Herodotus l, 67-68.
Philostratus, Vita Apollon. Tyan. V, 5.
Hesiod refers to Heracles as born at Thebes, Greece, see Theogonv 530 and Shield of Heracles
In this context. note also Herodotus II, 44. Note, however, that Heracles also appears as the in-
terpretatio Graeca of Egyptian Harsaphes, a god who merged with Osiris. On Harsaphes, see
Altenmi.iller (LA 2: 1015-1018). I owe this point to J. Podemann Sii!rensen (p.c.).
De Dea Svria 3.
~ I
t t
gods: the Phoenician Heracles died at the hands of Typhon (Seth), and
Osiris was killed by the same god. The circumstance that at Gades the
Tyrian Heracles!Hercules is referred to as the Egyptian Hercules in dis-
tinction from the Heracles of Thebes in Greece is worth noticing.
Against the background of these observations it seems to me that at least
during the latter half of the first millennium there was at Tyre and else-
where a sort of symbiosis or even syncretism of Osiris and Melqart.
This symbiosis seems to me to provide the explanation for the use of ex-
press resurrection language in the Melqart cult (mqm '/m).
4. Conclusions
In comparison with the Semitic cultures, the culture of ancient Egypt is
sui generis. This peculiarity of Egypt, however, made it no less imper-
ative to present the major characteristics of Osiris and to consider his
potential importance for the developments of the West Semitic gods we
are investigating. We have arrived at the following conclusions.
( l) Whatever his original identity was, Osiris appears through the
whole recoverable history of Egyptian religion as a real god.
(2) Osiris is a god who spends his life in the Netherworld. His life
there, however, is not the existence of a dead person and is not to be
judged from a modern Western scepticism about the possibility of post-
mortal existence. Osiris' life in the Netherworld is highly active. He is
the ruler of the dead.
(3) Osiris is not a god of vegetation, but he is deeply involved with
the seasonal changes. The important complex of festivals in the month
of Khoiak (roughly December) concurs with the end of the period of the
inundation of the Nile.
( 4) The death and resurrection of Osiris are the most central features
of this festival. Osiris' burial takes place during Khoiak 24-30. It ends
with the erection of the Djed pillar as a visible emblem of Osiris' resur-
rection. From the New Kingdom and onwards there is a close connec-
tion between Osiris and the Djed pillar; the Djed pillar is even
anthropomorphized as Osiris. The motif of resurrection is also symbol-
ized by the Osiris gardens or Osiris effigies that were produced during
the Khoiak festival. These corn mummies serve to express the reuni-
fication of Osiris' scattered members. A further feature of similar im-
port is the use of the so-called "raise-yourself litanies" ("Erhebe-dich-
Litaneien") during the Khoiak celebrations. By and large, the death and
resurrection of Osiris are closely linked with the seasonal changes in na-
t), and
lt the
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(5) We discussed the possible influence of Osiris on the West Sem-
itic gods here under consideration.
(a) As for Adonis, express identifications are very late (C.E.). On-
surprisingly, there are some indications of an Osiris-Adonis syncretism
at Alexandria in pre-Christian times. Byblos is more difficult to assess.
One must reckon with the presence of the Osiris cult at Byblos from the
time of the New Kingdom and onwards. However, it is Hathor that
holds the rank of Lady of Byblos; Isis takes her place in this capacity
only during the first millennium B.C.E. Even so, De Dea Syria keeps
Adonis and Osiris apart.
The similarities between Osiris and Adonis comprise especially the
Osiris and Adonis gardens and the cause of their respective deaths: Os-
iris' drowning recalls the throwing of an Adonis effigy into the sea or
into a well. There are also clear differences between Adonis and Osiris.
These are related to the god's connection with kingship, his position
vis-a-vis the goddess, and his relation to the Netherworld.
(b) As for Melqart, the indications of a close connection are more
tangible. We know of persons appearing in the temples of both gods (in
Cyprus). There is a clear case of mythological interconnection: the story
about Phoenician Heracles (Melqart) who was killed by Typhon (i.e.,
Seth, the killer of Osiris). Tyrian Melqart could be referred to as the 1
Egyptian Hercules. Against the background of all this, one must ask if
the designation mqm >Jm, "the raiser/resuscitator of the god", may not
have its background in the express resurrection language (verbal and rit-
ual) in the cult of Osiris. But there is also Semitic resurrection language
that may have been the resource for this formation.
Comparative Perspectives: Dumuzi-
Tammuz and the West Semitic Gods
Unsurprisingly, Dumuzi-Tammuz
has been a major figure in the de-
bate about dying and rising deities. There is a vast literature on this
Around the middle of the last century there was a consensus that
previous conclusions about a resurrection or return of Dumuzi were
mistaken. It was argued that these had been based "on nothing but in-
ference and surmise, guess and conjecture" (thus Kramer), and that
"there is no trace in the Sumerian mythology of a poem about Dumuzi' s
resurrection" (thus Gumey).
The situation is no longer as simple as
that, and the reasons for this change will be presented in the following.
The discovery of a new ending of Inanna 's Descent is especially im-
portant for this reorientation (see below). Nevertheless, we should note
from the outset that there is a tension between the mythological and the
ritual material as we know it: We find very little of ritual underpinnings
for any notion of a return of the deity from the Netherworld.
In generaf
terms, Dumuzi appears as a tragic hero, noi as a god who defeats death.
As for Dumuzi's general character, we should note that he is not
originally a god of vegetation but a god of shepherding. There was later
a syncretism between Dumuzi and Darnu, who was actually a vegeta-
tion god. The date for this Dumuzi-Damu syncretism is difficult to as-
sess. It has been taken to be Old Babylonian, but this is controversial.
The form of the name is dd u m u- z i in Sumerian, generally understood as "right child", "right
son", thus Falkenstein (1954: 42), but by Jacobsen as "he who quickens the young ones" (1970:
57, 73, 322f., n. 6, 338f., n. 23). Oberhuber (1976: esp. p. 268) in the same vein understands
the name as "Sohn, Wiederbeleber", "zum Leben erweckender Sohn". This is partly based on
a questionable comparison with the title of Melqart's functionary, mqm '1m, on which see
above Chap. III.2.-The form Tammuz, used among present-day scholars is, of course, known
from the Hebrew Bible (Ezek 8:14), but Tamiizu is indeed attested already at Nuzi as the name
of a month, see Cohen (1993: 262).
See especially Zimmern (1909), Falkenstein (1954), Gurney (1962), Yamauchi (1965), Jacob-
sen (1970: 25-30, 73-103 and 1976: 25-73), Alster (1972: 9-15), Kutscher (1990), Alster
(DDD: 1567-1579), and M.S. Smith (1998: 272-277).
Quotations from Kramer (1961: 10) and Gurney (1962: 153). Note also Yamauchi (1965). For
a survey of research, see above (Chap. I.l.3). Kramer later changed his mind, see below and
see Kramer (1966).
This was stressed by M.S. Smith (1998: 272-277).
The questions we shall study are: (1) Is Dumuzi a dying and rising
god? and (2) Are there traces ofDumuzi influence on the West Semitic
notions of deity? In what follows, we should be aware of local and tem-
poral variations. There is always a risk of hypostasizing a god, "Dumu-
zi", and artificially constructing a picture of this god that is mistakenly
supposed to be valid for all times and places. In reality, Dumuzi is what
he was at the respective cult site, as portrayed in rite and myth.
An essential feature of the Mesopotamian notions of the Nether-
world is that this is a place from which no one returns ( er$et/asar/mat
la tari
). This is also a stance generally taken in the Hebrew Bible? In
Nergal and Ereshkigal, Anu says to Ereshkigal that, "We cannot come
down to you, I Nor can you come up to us."
Divine messengers, how-
ever, are capable of crossing the boundary between the world of the liv-
ing and the Netherworld, as we learn from lnanna's/Ishtar's Descent
and from Nergal and Ereshkigal, to mention some examples.
In the following, we shall move forward in three steps. First, we shall
look at Dumuzi's role in the descensus myths. Then, we shall focus on
other material for Dumuzi and arrive at a e n e r ~ evaluation of this deity
as a dying and rising god, and, finally, we shall relate Dumuzi to the
West Semitic gods we have been studying.
The only indication which I know of for an Old Babylonian date is a god list in which Damu,
Geshtinanna, and Ninedara occur en suite. See Th. Richter (1999: 263-264 with note 1047).
Geshtinanna is Dumuzi's sister; Ninedara has a close connection to Dumuzi in Nippur. Richter
comments: "Die vorliegende Stelle weist dieser 'Gleichsetzung' [Damu=Dumuzi] ein hohes
Alter zu" (1999: 264, n. 1047). Michael Fritz, however, is of the opinion that Dumuzi and
Darnu here belong to different circles of gods (p.c.). If so, the document in question does not
testify to a Damu-Dumuzi syncretism.-Jacobsen's interpretation of the Dumuzi mythology
along the lines of natural allegory (1970: 73-101; 1976: 62) is very difficult to maintain. See
the critique in Alster (fc., Chap. 16).
See CAD and AHw, the corresponding entries. On the Netherworld, see especially The Under-
world Vision of an Assyrian Prince (Livingstone, SAA 3: no. 32) and the scholarly surveys of
the topic in Sladek (1974: 58-70), Tsukimoto (1985: 6-19), Hutter (1985: 156-165), S. Paul
(1995), and Horowitz (1998: 268-295, 348-362). On the notion of "revivifying the dead", see
Hirsch (1968).
SeeS. Paul (1995: 223), who refers to 2 Sam 12:23; Job 7:9-10; 10:21; 16:22; Ps 88:13; Eccl
Nergal and Ereshkigal, the Middle Babylonian version, EA 357: 4-5, translated by Foster (Be-
fore the Muses, vol. 1: 414), and the Sultantepe version col. 1: 31-34, Gurney (1960: 110-111),
translated by Foster (Before the Muses, vol. I: 418). Translations are also found in Dalley
(Myths from Mesopotamia, pp. 178-182, 165-177).
:I tern-
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1. Dumuzi's Role in the Descensus Myths
When discussing the descensus material, we should keep two important
points in mind. (a) A particular myth may not be identical with a certain
text. The myth as a narratological construct may receive different mani-
festations on the textual level. There are variants. The abstract narrative
(the fabula or story) may manifest itself in various discourses (plots).
The myth is a sort of "geno-text" that surfaces in various "pheno-
texts".9 The descensus mytheme may surface in different discourses. As
for the descent of Inanna/Ishtar, the Akkadian version is not a transla-
tion of the Sumerian one, and is not even necessarily dependent on it.
(b) We shall discuss materials, some of which were written in Sumerian,
and some in Akkadian. Note then that the difference in language does
not indicate a difference of ethnicity, and that "Sumerian and Akkadian
texts are witnesses of one and the same, namely Babylonian culture";
we should "understand Sumerian and Akkadian myths as equal sources
of Babylonian mythology".
A handful of myths tells about gods descending to the Netherworld.
The most important are: Inanna's and lshtar's Descents, Ningishzida's
Descent, Enlil and Ninlil, and Nergal and Ereshkiga/.
I shall not deal
here v.;ith the last two texts in this list, since they are less relevant to our
1.1. The Sumerian Inanna 's Descent
The widely distributed copies of Inanna 's Descent
take us back to Old
Babylonian times. Falkenstein dates the creation of the composition al-
ready to the twenty-first century B.C.E.
This text tells about an at-
tempt of Inanna to seize power in the Netherworld. The attempt failed:
the Annunaki look at her "with the look of death" (11. 167 -168) and she
becomes a dead corpse. She is able to escape from Ereshkigal' s domain
only by means of Enki's cunning. Enki creates two rescuers and pro-
See above, Chap. For an orientation about intertextuality. see Mellinger (1993 ).
Heimpel (RLA 8: 544).
Heimpel (RLA 8: 544).
See Heimpel (RLA 8: 547-549), and for the latter myth, see esp. Lambert (1990a: 289-300).
For a discussion of the Sitz im Leben of the mythological material, with close attention to the
origin of the various tablets, put together and presented as a coherent myth in modem studies
and translations, see Arne Nykvist (forthcoming PhD diss. in Comparative Religion at Lund
Falkenstein (1968: 100). For the texts, editions and translations, see Romer (TUAT III:3, 459-
460). Note especially Sladek (1974). In my references I have retained Sladek's line counting,
as does also Romer (seep. 460). I cite Sladek's translation. A narrative analysis of the myth is
found in Evers (1995: 65-98).
" I
.. ,

. \r
ll I
., .
vides them with the herb of life and the water of life (ll. 210-225). They
sprinkle lnanna with these and she arises. She is released from the Neth-
erworld only on the express condition that she provides a substitute (ll.
The rest of the narrative deals with the finding of the ne-
cessary substitute (ll. 306-412). The galla demons claim various per-
sons for this role, but lnanna refuses to give them up since they have
been mourning her disappearance and death. Dumuzi, however, shows
no signs of grief, and lnanna, in anger, gives him into the hands of the
galla demons (ll. 347-358). A passage here (ll. 383-393) surprisingly
deals with lnanna's mourning over Dumuzi and her search for him.
After a broken passage, the text ends with the judgement spoken by In-
anna (or Ereshkigal)
to the effect that,
You [Dumuzi will spend] one half of the year and your sister [Geshtinanna will
spend] one half of the year [in the Netherworld]. (I. 407)
The two crucial names are only supplied from the context, but there is
hardly any doubt about the identity of the acting characters.
As for genre, the composition contains the characteristic features of
Its main function is hardly a ritual one-although there are fea-
tures that point to a cultic connection
-but rather one of entertain-
ment.21 The composition in its final shape combines two different
stories, that of lnanna' s descent and that of Dumuzi' s death. They may
have been joined together around 2000 B.C. E.
On the discourse level
we may now note a striking feature: Inanna's descent to the Nether-
world has its final result in Dumuzi' s death. In Kirk's words: "Inanna' s
imprudent visit to the Netherworld might be said to motivate Dumuzi's
removal there ... "
With regard to our questions, two points are important in the Sume-
rian version: (a) the revivification of Inanna with its notion of three
On this, see Afanasieva (1980).
This passage was made available by Alster in his edition of the text, Alster (1996).
See Romer (TUAT III:3: p. 494, note 407a). Both Romer (p. 494) and Alster (1996: 15) take
the speaker to be Inanna.
Sladek (1974: 181). See also Jacobsen (The Harps that Once p. 232) and Romer (TUATIII:3:
p. 494). Text (UETVI.l.lO: rev. 10-12) as reconstructed by Falkenstein (1965: 281 with n. 15).
See above, Chap. I thus disagree with Alster (1996: 16 with n. 2), though this disagree-
ment is not fundamentally about the nature of our Sumerian composition but rather arises from
a wider definition of myth than the one Alster has chosen.
See Alster (1983: 1-16, esp. p. 12).
This feature was stressed by Alster (1996: 16 with n. 2 and especially in fc., 2001). Unlike Al-
ster I find entertainment a possible function of myth. See above Chap.
Thus Alster (p.c.).
Kirk (1973: 112).
I y
1. 6
f s
; -f
I -
) v
i s
r -
days, and (b) the idea that Dumuzi is to spend only half the year in the
Netherworld, which I will refer to as the notion of "bilocation". Let us
consider these two points.
First the revivification of the goddess. When the goddess has entered
the Netherworld and has been killed by the Anunnaki, three days and
three nights pass (l. 173
) without Inanna's return before Ninshubur
takes action and finally convinces Enki to bring about the return of the
goddess. One should be aware of the fact that our myth does not speak
of the elapse of three days and nights between death and resurrection
but between the death and the beginning of the mourning rites.
The verb used about the revivification of Inanna in lines 285-288 is
"to rise", written with Sumerian E
, the standard equivalent of Akka-
dian eJU.
Then there is the divine decree about the partition of the year. This
notion of Dumuzi's bilocation is closely linked with the idea of substi-
tution. The claim for a substitute and the long search for one are thor-
oughly integrated parts of the narrative. In an article on the idea of
substitution in Sumerian mythological poetry, Afanasieva argues that
there was a notion of equilibrium, of harmony. In the myth Enlil and
Ninlil, three beings are to serve as substitutes for Enlil, Ninlil and their
first-born, the moon god Nanna.
When Inanna hands Dumuzi over to
the Kalla demons as her substitute, the substitution becomes part of a
cyclical, seasonal arrangement: Dumuzi and his sister Geshtinanna will
each spend half the year in the Netherworld. It was Falkenstein's recon-
struction of the text that led to this understanding (see l. 407, quoted
above). Falkenstein's insights
led Kramer to admit that he himself had
been wrong: "If Falkenstein's interpretation is correct-and it seems to
me most convincing-my conclusion that Dumuzi dies and 'stays dead'
forever ... was quite erroneous: Dumuzi, according to the Sumerian
mythographers, rises from the dead annually and, after staying on earth
for half the year, descends to the Nether World for the other half."
a special study devoted to the conclusion of Inanna 's Descent, Bendt
A variant tradition has "seven [years], seven months [and] seven days", see Romer (TVATIII:3:
p. 473, n. 173a) and Sladek (1974: 204).
As noted by Paul (1995: 225). See CAD, E, vol. 1: liSa. The Akkadian verb occurs frequently
in Nergal and Ereshkigal.
Afanasieva (1980: esp. pp. 165-166).
Falkenstein (1965: 281 with n. 15).
Kramer (1966: 31). Kramer adds inn. 3: "Note the obvious parallel to the Adonis myth." Kram-
er's erroneous conclusion, which he thus revoked in his 1966 study, was formulated in Kramer
(1961: 10)

Alster comes to the same conclusion.
The situation seems clear: the
Sumerian myth ends up in a divine decree about the bilocation of Du-
muzi and his sister.
In this divine decree, we find a seasonal aspect surfacing in the myth.
The concept of the alternation of the two deities in the Netherworld was
to a large degree based upon the alternation of the barley and wine-
growing seasons: Dumuzi embodied the grain, Geshtinanna the vine.
There is now a growing awareness that the Sumerian myth contains
allusions to ritual procedures. Buccellati (1982) argued that the text re-
flects a ritual journey bringing the statue of Inanna from Uruk to Kutha,
the cult centre par excellence for Nergal and other deities of the Neth-
erworld. The beginning of the text tells that lnanna abandons one city
after another as she goes in a generally northward direction (11. 7 -13).
Though Kutha does not appear in the Sumerian text, it is found at a de-
cisive juncture in the Akkadian version (Nin. 1. 40). The way back goes
via Umma (ll. 322-346, see especially 1. 328). Buccellati strengthens his
case by pointing out that one passage of the text looks like a description
of a cult statue (11. 44-46).
The use of garments for cult statues is well
known. The disrobing of Inanna (ll. 117-164) should be seen in the light
of this.
1.2. The Akkadian lshtar's Descent
As for the Akkadian Ishtar's Descent, the lion's share of the extant ma-
terial is Neo-Assyrian.
The beginning of a Middle Assyrian version,
however, is preserved, which means that written material takes us back
to the end of the second millennium B.C.E.
The Akkadian form of the
myth may be centuries older.
Alster (1996: 15).
Jacobsen (1976: 62). See also Cohen (1993: 262-263).
On this passage, see now George (1985: 109-113, esp. p. 112) who is of the same opinion.
For a transliteration of the Nineveh and Assur recensions arranged as the score of a piece of
music, see Borger (1979: vol. I: 95-104, with introductory references to the tablets that contain
these recensions). Translations are found in: Sladek (1974: 251-262), Dalley (Myths, 1991:
154-162), Foster (Before the Muses, vol. 1, 1993: 403-409; literature ibid. p. 409), and TUAT
(3:4: 760-766, G.G.W. Miiller). In the following I cite Foster's translation.-In a series of
works, S. Parpola has presented an interpretation of Ishtar as the central figure in Mesopotami-
an religion with far-reaching potential consequences both for the understanding of Mesopota-
mian religion in general and for the appreciation of possible notions of resurrection. See
especially the synthesizing presentations in Parpola (1997b: the introduction; and 2000) with
references to previous studies by Parpola. As will appear from what follows I am not yet ready
to follow Parpola on this path. On these issues, see the critical discussion by J. Cooper (2000).
See TUAT(3:4: 760-761).
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; JO).
The contents are as follows (the line numbers refer to the Nineveh
recension). After a classical description of the gloomy life in the Neth-
erworld, the text tells about Inanna' s threat to release the dead if she is
not allowed into the Netherworld (ll. 14-20). When she is let in, the
gatekeeper greets her welcome to Kutha, a name otherwise well-known
as that of the cult centre of the Netherworld gods.
She passes the seven gates, and each passage means that she is being
stripped of one item of her attire (ll. 40-62). At the fifth gate, she loses
the girdle with birthstones. Finally, she stands naked, robbed of her di-
vinity, before her sister Ereshkigal. Namtar, the vizier of the Nether-
world, releases upon her sixty illnesses (11. 68-75). Then follows a
description of the sterile condition of life on earth, now that Ish tar is ab-
sent: procreation among people and animal ceases (11. 76-80).
Papsukkal, the vizier of the great gods, dressed in mourning with hair
unkempt, goes to Ea. Ea forms a plan and creates Asushunamir who is
to trick Ereshkigal to swear the oath of hospitality
and then sprinkle
Ish tar with the water of life. The order is carried out. Ishtar is sprinkled
and then brought out through the seven gates, regaining her lost divine
apparel (11. 115-125). The final section (11. 127-138) displays a very dif-
ferent genre. As we shall see, it alludes to the coming up of Dumuzi and
to the mourning rites for this god. 1
A comparison with the Sumerian version shows that there are many
similarities and also numerous differences.
It is quite clear also from
the Akkadian myth that the goddess does not descend to the Nether-
world in order to save Dumuzi. On the contrary: she is released from
there only on condition that she will be able to provide a substitute. In
the Sumerian text, Inanna' s apparel consists of the seven me , a notion
that does not figure explicitly in the Akkadian version.
The galla de-
mons and their search for a substitute for the goddess are mentioned
only in the Sumerian version. The judgement about the division of the
year and the two gods succeeding each other in the Netherworld, result-
ing in the bilocation of Dumuzi, is also specific to the Sumerian text. It
is then important to note that the idea of substitution is nevertheless at-
tested in both the Sumerian and the Akkadian versions. Moreover in the
latter we find it in both text forms, the Nineveh text (naptim, 1. 126) and
the As sur text (iptim, rev. 1. 36). The notion of substitution is found also
in a myth where bilocation is not presupposed (Enlil and Ninlil). When
For lshtar and erotics, see e.g. the hymn "!star-Louvre" 1: 41-46 (Groneberg, 1997: 24-25).
5 On this, see Kilmer (1971 ).
See esp. Sladek (!974: 34-51), Katz (1995: 228-233), and Heimpel (RLA 8: 556-557).
On this concept, see Farber(-Flilgge) (1973 and RLA 7: 610-613).
~ '.
we find it in the Akkadian myth, lshtar' s Descent, its presence there is
probably due to the combination substitution-bilocation, attested al-
ready in the Sumerian myth, lnanna 's Descent. Thus, bilocation-
though not mentioned expressly-surfaces in the reference to the sub-
stitute, the ransom, in the Akkadian version.
A passage that deserves particular attention is the ritual conclusion
(ll. 127-138) with its mention ofDumuzi "coming up" (from the Neth-
erworld) in line 136, because of its potential reference to a "resurrec-
tion" of Dumuzi. The presentation here makes a transition from
narrative to ritual. This ritual section consists of three parts. The first
few lines contain a speech with imperatives and precatives giving or-
ders about Dumuzi (ll. 127 -130), verb forms that point to a different
genre than the mythological corpus of the text, a change of genre that
could indicate that the ending is a later addition. The following lines
contain a description of Belili (Geshtinanna) when she hears the ritual
wailing for her brother Dumuzi. She then reacts in dismay (ll. 131-135).
The final lines contain a statement about what will happen when Dumu-
zi rises (ll. 136-138).
This ritual conclusion of the myth is properly preserved only in the
Nineveh version, but there are sufficient traces in the damaged Assur
text for us to conclude that it was once found also there.
We should
note one specific difference bct;.veen the ~ ~ i n v h and .t-\ssur versions of
1 the sections immediately preceding the ending. The Nineveh text has
the reference to the substitute after the passage through the gates, while
the Assur text refers to the substitution before the passage through the
gates takes place, which is a more logical place in the plot.
It is tempt-
ing to take the reference to the substitute as an allusion to the role of Du-
muzi as a replacement for lshtar in the Netherworld. The fact that the
Nineveh version seems to have moved this reference to a place imme-
diately before the ritual conclusion confirms this assumption. Besides,
this manoeuvre also strengthens the suspicion that the ritual ending is a
secondary constituent of the text as we have it. The addition of lines
127 -138led to the relocation of the reference to the substitute, from line
118 (where it is found in the Assur parallel) to line 126.
Due to the
supposed connection between substitution and bilocation in our myth
See von Soden (1967: 192-195, esp. p. 193).
As was pointed out by Sladek (1974: 43).
Lresse (1955: 13-15) calls attention to a number of Assyrian linguistic features in the passage.
These, in connection with the circumstance that the passage reflects a ritual practice that may
be specifically Assyrian, leads him to assume that the epilogue is an Assyrian addition to the
1 al-
1 on

1 ,m
! 0r-

i al
I . le
: !d
I )f
r 1-
l y
> .e
(above), one could speculate whether an ending with a divine decree
about the partition of the year was lost when the ritual ending was added
to the text.
Adopting von Soden's analysis of the syntax in the final lines, these
may be translated as follows:
When Dumuzi rises [elliinni ], and when the lapis lazuli pipe
and the carnelian ring rise with him,
When male and female mourners rise with him,
Then let the dead come up [liJanimma] and smell the incense.
(II. 136-138)
There is then a clear reference to the ascent of Dumuzi, but what is the
import of this formulation? Is it a reference to Dumuzi's coming up to
be succeeded by his sister and to his inauguration of the renewal of life
in nature? I have arrived at the conclusion that this is not the case, that
we are here not concerned with a reference to Dumuzi's resurrection but
only to a momentary interruption in his sojourn in the Netherworld as
Ishtar's substitute. My reasons are as follows.
The passage in Ishtar's Descent is best understood not against the
background of a joyous Dumuzi festival to celebrate the arrival of
spring but rather against the background of the mourning rites for Du-
muzi at the end of the month that is named after this god. I
These mourning rites are known from a group of texts of which I
would like to call attention to two in particular: SAA 3: no. 38: rev. 3-
1942 and SAA 10: no. 19.
They take place in the month ofDu'uzu, the
month whose name derives from the name of the god Dumuzi.
In a
study of the mourning rites for Dumuzi, Scurlock
concludes that the
26th ofDu'uzu was the day of uproar, a day when the (funerary) display
(the taklimtu rite)
was carried out in Assur and Nineveh. The 27th
Von Soden (1967: 194), translation quoted from Sladek (1974: 262). See also Dalley (Myths,
1991: 160). The word elliinniin line 136 is a ventive of the verb eli1, "to rise", and is listed un-
der this verb in CAD E, p. 122 top. Foster's analysis and translation is highly improbable, Foster
(Before the Muses, vol. I, 1993: 409).
This text, VAT 10 099 with duplicates, is edited and translated in Livingstone (Court Poetry,
1989: 95-98) and discussed by Livingstone (1986: 130-131, 136-141 ).
This text is edited and translated by Parpola (Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars,
1993, p. 16). Note also SAA 10: 18 (ibid. p. 15).
For intervocalic rn developing into ',see von Soden (GAG 31d). My thanks to Michael B.
Dick for a discussion of this point.
For the following, see Scurlock (1992: 53-67, esp. pp. 58-61).
The word taklimtu is a term derived from the verb kullumu, "to show, display". It was probably
a display of the grave goods, not of the corpse, see Scurlock (1991 ). That the ending of lshtar 's
Descent belongs to the context of the taklirntu rite was pointed out long ago by L:essl')e ( 1955:
13-14) and Yamauchi (1966: 10-15).

was the day of releasing (pasaru) and also a day for further funerary dis-
play. The 28th of the month was the day of Dumuzi when still another
funerary display was enacted. The 29th seems to have been the last day
of the rites. Scurlock concludes that, "[t]he 27th of Du'uzu was the day
of releasing, 000 that is, the day when Dumuzi was given a furlough from
his Netherworld prison (where he was serving as !Star's substitute) so
that he could be present in the upper world for his festival."
Since the
month of Du'uzu was the "month of the captivity of Dumuzi", the
month when "the shepherd Dumuzi was bound" and the month of "the
opening of the grave", Scurlock concludes that "we are probably safe in
assigning the 'day of the captivity of Dumuzi', 000 to the end of the rite,
that is, to the 29th of the month."
Three aspects of this material are
important to us:
(1) These rites culminate in Dumuzi's death, and his death is closely
linked up with the demise of plant life. Thus in SAA 3: no. 38 we read
that, "[h]is [de]ath is when they burn the roasted barley, which they
were casting on Tammuz, on the stones", and then the text goes on to
describe Dumuzi as the very embodiment of vegetation: "Tamarisk is
his topknot. Cypress is [his] trunk. [C]annabis is his bristle. Juniper is
[his] thighs. Cedar is his knees 00."
(2) In the ritual conclusion of Ishtar's Descent and in the texts refer-
/ ring to the taklimtu rite, Dumuzi is firmly allocated to the Netherworld;
his corning up is only a brief, temporary release, and he returns at the
end of his month. An allusion to this may be at hand in the words to
Ereshkigal in Nergal and Ereshkigal: "Not [once] in a year can you
come up before us.''
Ereshkigal is not as happy as Dumuzi is.
(3) The two texts about Inanna's and Ishtar's descents were not ori-
ginally composed as ritual myths. The addition of the ritual ending to
the Akkadian text, however, is explainable on the assumption that the
narrative about Ish tar's descent becomes the hieros logos of the Dumuzi
celebrations during the month of Du'uzu.
The evidence adduced by Scurlock is Neo-Assyrian. A similar com-
ing up and returning to the Netherworld may be attested for two god-
Scurlock (1992: 59).
8 Scurlock (1992: 60).
SAA 3: no. 38: rev. 6-17 (Livingstone, Court Poetry, 1989: 98). See also no. 39: obv. 1-18. On
the god-description texts, see Livingstone (1986: 92-112).
The Sultantepe version (C) I: 32, text in Gurney (1960: 11 0), translation in Foster (Before the
Muses, vol. 1: 418). ~ is this an allusion to a kispu celebration?
I am surprised to find that Parpola (1997c: 55) understands the final part of Ishtar's Descent as
containing "a promise of salvation".
~ :>O
~ 1e
' 1e
f in
.. d
J :y
n to
Jr 1s
: 'S
1 l;
; to
' u
; )
' >
desses from Eshnunna around the tum of the third and second millennia
The taklimtu rite was received into the Adonis celebrations, as we
know them from Egypt, as Stol has demonstrated.
We noted above the seasonal implications of the Sumerian text (the
partition of the year). These are present also in the Akkadian form of the
myth. The references to the loss of the birthstones, 5
to the ensuing in-
fertility on earth and to the mourning rites for Dumuzi touch upon the
related themes of the seasonal cycle.
1.3. Ningishzida's Descent
Ningishzida 's Descent is a new Akkadian descensus myth that was
edited and discussed by Lambert, whose overall interpretation I here
Over against the other two descents, there is here a difference
in the means of achieving the release of the victim. In the former it is
Enki's trickery, brought about by the entertainers sent to the Nether-
world. In this new text, the victim's mother bribes the guard and so
overrules Ereshkigal' s normal principle to allow no victim to escape.
The final part of the text may be taken to tell how Ningishzida left the
Underworld with his helper (rev. 11-23). I
Ningishzida belongs to a group of chthonic gods connected with
vegetation (agriculture).
"Most commonly he is an underworld offi-
cial and would neither need nor want to be released," says Lambert,
who nevertheless concludes that this chthonic god makes a descensus
and also leaves the Netherworld.
The death of vegetation and the
Netherworld travel of the god who embodies it, is thus the subject of our
Akkadian myth. The return ofNingishzida hinted at in our text may also
be vaguely referred to in a Sumerian lament.
The time of Ningishzi-
See Cohen (1993: 252-253, 475).
See Stol ( 1988).
Sladek (1974: 84, 86) relates the sibbu a ban aliidi (NA
.TU), "girdle of birthstones", "stones
of[= that cause] birth", to aban ere (NA
, "stones of[= that cause] conception".
As was pointed out by Katz (1995: 230).
See Lambert (1990a: 289-300). The cuneiform tablet is from Ur, U 16 889, published in C.J.
Gadd's hand copy in UET VI, 395, see Lambert p. 290.
Lambert (1990a: 295).
See Wiggermann (RIA 9: 368-373, esp. pp. 369-370), and idem (1997: 39-42).
Lambert (1990a: 289-300, quotation from p. 295; on resurrection p. 300).
See TCL 15,8, translated by Jacobsen (1976: 68-73), and see Wiggermann (RIA 9: 370b). Note
that Alster ( 1986: 27) fails to find a reference to the return of Ningishzida in the Sumerian la-
ment, a conclusion contested by Wilcke ( 1988: 245-250, esp. p. 248) but maintained by Alster
in Jacobsen and Alster (2000: 331 note 33).
,,ld'' r.rl
[: I
. I
da' s absence from earth coincided with that of Dumuzi: from midsum-
mer to midwinter.
His name means "Lord of the true tree", a name that
reflects the reliability of the natural phenomena that he embodies.
We should note that Ningishzida is closely related to Dumuzi. He is
the husband of Geshtinanna, Dumuzi's sister. In Adapa and the South
Wind, Dumuzi and Ningishzida (under the name Gizzida) appear to-
gether as guardians at the gate of heaven.
Ningishzida is identified
with Damu and Ishtaran, "the Ishtar-like [god]".
Against the background of what has been said, I am inclined to con-
clude that the well-known pattern of Dumuzi's descent and return fig-
ures in the background of the Old Babylonian Ningishzida 's Descent.
1.4. U rnammu 's Death
Urnammu was the founder of the third dynasty of Ur. The text in ques-
tion65 tells how, after Urnammu's death, lnanna and com-
plains to Enlil that she wants the dead king back. This is resembles
closely her intervention for Dumuzi in two laments. The negative an-
swer implies that Urnammu will no more come to her as Dumuzi.
dead kings participate "sacramentally" in the cult of the dying gods and
in the return of the vegetation brought about by these deities.
zi's death and return are here presupposed as the pattern for king Ur-
nammu's death and his hoped-for return. This all means that an Ur III
text presupposes the mythological idea of Dumuzi's return. It could
even be that we should understand the reference as an allusion to the rit-
ual celebration of his return in the hieros gamos, but here we are perhaps
on less certain ground.
See Wiggennann (1997: 41 with references.).
See Wiggennann (RIA 9: 369, 371).
B: lines 24, 31, 49, 56. Text: Picchioni, Il PoemettodiAdapa (1981: 116-119); translation: Fos-
ter (Before the Muses vol. 1, 1993: 431-432).
See Jacobsen (1976: 68-73). Note in this connection the final section of Urnammu 's Death, see
Wilcke (1970: 79-92; 1988: 245-250, and idem, RIA 5: 84). For the above interpretation of the
name "lshtaran", see Lambert (1969: 103). The type of noun formation is that of GAG 56r.
On this text, see Wilcke (1970 and 1988: 245-250).
See Wilcke (1970: 86-92; 1988: 245-246).
See Wilcke ( 1988: 250). In line with this, we find in another text Umammu' s son and successor
Shulgi departing to heaven after his death, and a statement that recalls a later formulation in
Adapa and the South Wind about Dumuzi and (Nin)Gizzida at the gate of heaven, see Wilcke
(1988: 250-255).
1 ~
~ i s
l ..
We may then summarize our findings so far. New and important ma-
terial has become available in recent decades, including the new ending
for Inanna 's Descent with the partition of the year. The scholarly con-
sensus reached by the 1960's, namely that Dumuzi dies and remains
dead, does not survive the acid test of a perusal of the relevant mytho-
logical material now at hand. Inanna 's Descent from about 2000 B.C.E.
attests to the notions of substitution, bilocation and seasonal arrange-
ment of the year. Dumuzi is to spend half the year on earth and half in
the Netherworld. The Akkadian Ishtar's Descent may have been com-
posed during the latter half of the second millennium. The ritual ending
is probably a later addition, and moreover an addition that may have re-
placed an original reference to bilocation. This ritual ending does not
speak of Dumuzi's resurrection at the tum of the year when vegetation
receives new life. The god here returns to earth only to participate in the
mourning ceremonies in the month ofDu'uzu in the middle of the sum-
mer. The body of the text, however, has seasonal implications. What is
more, the addition of the ritual conclusion, focussing as it does on Du-
muzi, favours the assumption that Ishtar's Descent now in its Neo-As-
syrian context served as the hieros logos of the Dumuzi celebrations at
the end of the month that bore his name. Ningishzida 's Descent is an 1
Old Babylonian myth that was probably structured on the pattern ofDu-
muzi's descent and return. A similar relation to the Dumuzi myth is
found in Urnammu's Death, an Ur III text in which Inanna complains
that the dead king will no more come to her as Dumuzi.
2. Dumuzi: A Dying and Rising God?
After the preceding perusal of the descensus myths we shall now pose
our specific question: Is Dumuzi a dying and rising deity in the sense
defined above in Chapter I?
In a recent contribution, MarkS. Smith arrives at the following con-
clusion: "It is most important to emphasize that even if 'resurrection'
were the proper term to characterize Dumuzi's half-year on earth every
year, it appears to be a concept without ritual context; this seems to be
a 'theology' designed to provide intelligibility for Dumuzi's annual
Smith also lays a certain stress on Dumuzi's quasi-divine sta-
tus.69 Let us once again, then, consider the four cardinal points referred
M.S. Smith ( 1998: 275). See also Alster (DDD: 1578). A markedly different stance was taken
by Parpola (SAA 9. 1997b: p. xciv) who brings together various pieces of evidence.
Smith (1998: 273).
, :I
. r:l
to in Chapter 1: divine status, death and return, ritual embeddedness, and
seasonal connections.
2 .1. Divine Status?
For the Mesopotamians themselves, the distinction between mortal and
divine was somewhat fluid. Our perspective at this moment of our dis-
cussion is rather extrinsic, or etic: the following remarks are made prim-
arily in the interest of a comparison with Adonis, since the Greek
Adonis was a heros, and in the interest of our conversation with Mark
S. Smith.1
Falkenstein underlined, in his Dumuzi contribution from 1954, that
Dumuzi and Amaushumgalanna did not originally belong to the Sume-
rian pantheon.
Both were names of mortal men. In the later figure of
Dumuzi, two different characters had coalesced, according to Falken-
stein. We find them as mortals at two different places in the Sumerian
King List: an older Dumuzi from Bad-tibira, and a younger one from
Kuara or Kullab.
Dumuzi's life of shepherding and his prayers to the
deities suggest his human status?
"Dumuzi as husband of Inanna ex-
emplifies the pattern of a mortal ruler who became the husband of a
goddess", writes Alster, and refers to Dumuzi's Dream, line 206: "I am
not [just] a man, I am the husband of a goddess!"
Dumuzi, then, is
semi-divine. He was originally a divinized ruler. This explains certain
features of the development, e.g. that Inanna could extradite him to
serve as her substitute in the Netherworld; a similar death sentence
would hardly have been spoken over one of her equals among the
Nevertheless, the conscience of Dumuzi's original status may well
have vanished among the people of Mesopotamia during his long life in
myth and rite. Whatever his origin, however, Dumuzi must be said to be
a god, just as Gilgamesh was a god, although given a human origin. It
is not without reason that he always appears with the divine determin-
Daniel Fleming and Jack Sasson are sceptical about the benefits of making a distinction "di-
vine" and "semi-divine" (p.c.).
Falkenstein (1954: 62-65); see also Alster (DDD: 1570-1571).
See ANET (pp. 265-266).
For prayers, see Kramer (1990: 143-149).
Alster (DDD: 1570). For the passage cited, see Alster (Dumuzi's Dream, 1972: 76-77).
Thus Falkenstein (1954: 63).
Heimpel (RLA 8: 542).
2.2. Death and Return and Ritual Embeddedness
Dumuzi went down to the Netherworld. He was then mourned by the
goddess, who is described as his deprived spouse or bereft mother. The
mourning goddess, searching for her lost husband or son is a salient fea-
ture of the Mesopotamian Dumuzi myth as we know it from the vast lit-
erature of lamentations.
In our perusal of the descensus myths, we found indications to the
effect that Dumuzi was believed both to go down to the Netherworld
and to return from there. In Inanna 's Descent, the notion of substitution
and the partition of the year testify to his return. In Ishtar's Descent
there is no divine decree, but the notion of substitution suggests that
some bi-annual arrangement figures under the surface of the text. The
myth of Ningishzida 's Descent concerned the descent and release of a
god closely related to Dumuzi; the outline probably reflects the pattern
of Dumuzi's death and return. Similarly, the final section of Urnam-
mu 's Death alludes to the fates of Dumuzi.
We may then proceed to the issue of a possible cultic and ritual em-
beddedness of the idea of Dumuzi' s return. In his study of the Dumuzi
cult, R. Kutscher emphasized two aspects. (a) It was an unofficial affair
on the popular level of religion.
Two Dumuzi temples are known from
Early Dynastic times, but none is known after the Old Babylonian
period. This dichotomy, official vs. popular religion, may, however, be'
open to some doubts. We shaH reiurn io ihis issue below. (b) There was
a development so that "in the late second millennium, Dumuzi's char-
acter as the young bridegroom, hero of the sacred marriage rite, had
been forgotten, and he was known only as the tragic hero."
The mourning rites to celebrate Dumuzi's death or "binding" in the
month of Du'uzu (around July) are well attested.
They figure in a pas-
sage in Gilgamesh: "for Dumuzi, the beloved of your youth, ~ u de-
creed an annual wailing [satta ana satti bitakka taltemessu]."
are also known from the Hebrew Bible (Ezek 8: 14).
Moreover, the
very death of Dumuzi seems to have been acted out in ritual perform-
ance. That this is so, at least in first millennium Assyria, is suggested by
See Kramer (1983: 76-79; cf. 1982) and Jacobsen (1976: 47-73).
Cf. Jacobsen (1970: 90f.) who speaks of a cult practised by women.
9 Kutscher ( 1990; quotation from p. 30).
See Cohen (1993: 315-319).
Gilgamesh VI: 46-47. Text in Parpola (1997a: 91), translation in Kutscher (1990: 42). The verb
is emedu, "impose", in the St-stem. On this passage and its context, see Abusch (1986). The
section VI: 15-61 was known at Emar, see Toumay and Shaffer (1994: 145).
On this text, see Dijkstra (1996).
a Neo-Assyrian text: "His [d]eath is when they bum the roasted barley,
which they were casting on Tammuz, on the stones."
It is quite clear that the possible evidence for a cultic celebration of
Dumuzi's return from the Netherworld is far from overwhelming. I
would like to call attention to two cases, however, namely late third mil-
lennium Umma and Old Babylonian Mari. For Umma, there are entries
of expenses for a Dumuzi celebration in the 12th month, referring to the
return of Dumuzi.
Cohen comments on the Umma celebrations in his
study of the cultic calendars: "The festival of Dumuzi at Umma oc-
curred in the last month of winter. Therefore, it is likely that this import-
ant festival in Umma may have been related to the mythologized belief
that Dumuzi alternated with his sister, Gestinanna, in the netherworld.
This festival may have marked Dumuzi's return, the onset of spring."
The reference in two texts toDumuzi's wedding gifts, probably to In-
anna, may be a hint at his reunion with his spouse and the celebration of
the sacred marriage rite.
At Mari, Dumuzi was known already in pre-Sargonic times.
are indications that Sumerian cult songs were sung at Mari.
From the
Old Babylonian period, a couple of references to cultic celebrations are
of special interest to us. An administrative document refers to "3 ugar
[3600 sila] of grain for the female mourners" on the ninth day of the
month of A bum.
This fourth month, A bum, corresponds to the month
1 of Du'uzu of the standard Mesopotamian calendar.
The female
mourners (bakkitu) were probably engaged in a kispum celebration on
Text and translation in Livingstone (SAA 3: no. 38, rev. 6-7). On this text, see Livingstone
(1986: 130-131, 136-141).
See Heimpel (RIA 8: 563) and Kutscher (1990: 33-34).
Cohen (1993: 186-188; quotation from p. 188). On the Umma celebrations in the twelfth
month, see also Sallaberger (1993, vol. 1: 257-264 ). Sallaberger does not refer to resurrection
except indirectly on p. 263.
Cohen (1993: 186 with n. 3; 188).
See Edzard (1967: 53 with note 2). For Dumuzi during the time of the Shakkanakkus, see Lam-
bert (1985b: 530 line 20).
See the Ishtar ritual (A. 3165), now published by Durand and Guichard (1997: 52-58), previ-
ously published by Dossin (1938: 1-13), where we find references to the incipits of Sumerian
songs (II: 19; III: 8-16; IV: 18-19), and see the remarks of Edzard (1967: 67), Cohen (1981:
40ff.), and Cavigneux (1998). My thanks to Daniel Fleming and Jack Sasson for the reference
0 _;to D}t(and and Guichard.
~ B i i ~ ~ R M IX: 175)). See also Kutscher (1990: 40).
See.Ktiisther (1990: 40) and Cohen (1993: 289-290, 315-319) .
.... \ 0
I :
-== ~ : ; ; ; ~ -- ~ - - -- ---;:;;;-.;:;;--
the ninth of Abum, perhaps somehow connected with the mourning rites
for Dumuzi in the summer.
Now, there is one particularly interesting reference in a letter found
at Mari (letter A.ll46) and published by P. Marello.
This text is a let-
ter from one Yaminite king to another. It was written in north-eastern
Syria, in the Euphrates region. How it found its way to Mari is a matter
not yet clarified. What is interesting to us is that the speaker here takes
Dumuzi' s fate as a metaphor for his own difficult experiences. In Flem-
ing's translation, the crucial lines run:
As for me, look at me. Not yet [?] ... I escaped from death, and from the midst
of Ahuna [I escaped] ten times during uprising[s]. Why, now, [am I not] like
Dumuzi? They kill him [idakkilsu],
at the [time of] counting the year [muniit
sattim]. [In the spring (?),] he always comes back [it-ta-na-a[r]] to the temple
of Annunitum [ ... ].(lines 39-44)
Annunitum is here Dumuzi' s consort, a goddess similar to Ishtar. What
I find important in this letter is that the formulations are most easily un-
derstood as alluding to ritual procedures that served to express both the
death and the return of Dumuzi. The reference to a specific time of the
year, the formulation that "they kill him" (an act carried out by cultic
agents?), and especially the statement that "he always comes back" (it-
tanar, Gtn of tam) to the temple of his consort-all these features uni-
formly point to ritual activities. Moreover, these ritual activities
See Sasson (1979: 124) who refers to ARM XII, 437 and points out that the amount of grain in
ARM IX, 175 indicates that a great number of female mourners were present. Note, however,
the remark by Sasson: "My hesitation about considering these women as ritual criers is that
they do not appear in the vast harem lists," (p.c., March 2001 ). The normal dates for the kispum
in Mari are the first and sixteenth days of every month, see Tsuk.imoto (1985: 58).
SeeP. Marello (1992). Parpo1a was one of the very first to refer to this text in a discussion of
Dumuzi's resurrection, see Parpola (SAA 9: p. xciv, note 127). I am grateful to Simo Parpola
for having sent me a photocopy of this article, which was not available in Lund. My thanks to
Daniel Fleming and Jack Sasson for discussing this important text with me (p.c., spring 2001 ).
I was not able to get hold of Mander and Durand ( 1995).
If the form in the text is from dfiku, "to kill", then it is irregular. Over against the form in the
text idakkilsu, one would expect idukkilsu, as Marello points out (1992: 120). Sasson thinks it
is as possible to interpret the form in the text as from dakiisu, "to press in= pierce?" and to read
idakkusilsu, "they push him in" (p.c., April 2001). In both cases, it is obviously a reference to
the killing of Dumuzi.
Translation by Daniel Fleming (p.c., March 21, 2001). Fleming lectured on this text at the 2000
AOS meeting and handed out a full translation of the text, where the above rendering appeared.
Jack Sasson has brought my attention to another interesting reference in which Dumuzi enters
a temple (p.c. February 2, 2001). Itur-asu writes from Mari: "On the day I conveyed this letter
to my lord, the pudum [expiation] of my Lord was offered in the temple of Annunitum of Sheh-
rum. I have had Dumuzi enter in the temple of Annunitum in Mari." The text is A.S 12:7-15,
cited in Durand CEO 8, 1995: 206. One wonders whether the pudum may be a hint at the act
of substitution, as we know it from the descensus myths. Compare Hebrew padfi, "to ransom".
.,:!--;,"* : - ' ..
comprise not only Dumuzi's death but also his return.
And, notably,
the material is Y aminite. As we shall see, this circumstance is important
when it comes to the issue of possible cultural contacts between Meso-
potamia and the West in the Middle and Late Bronze Age.
In my opinion, the return of Dumuzi to the temple should be seen in
the light of what we know of ritual journeys of cult statues. Just as In-
anna was found to make a ritual journey to Kutha (see above), so Du-
muzi' s descent could be symbolized by a journey of his statue, and his
revival by the return of his statue to the temple. What we have found
above about Dumuzi's return to Umma and to Mari would seem tore-
flect such cultic procedures.
Two further remarks should be appended to our discussion of this
Y aminite letter. First, there are indications from later times that the kill-
ing of Dumuzi is a rite connected with the treatment of grain. In a Neo-
Assyrian text, which speaks of the Dumuzi rites at the end of the god's
month, we hear that, "His [de]ath is when they bum the roasted barley,
which they were casting on Tammuz, on the stones."
At still a very
much later date we meet a related(?) rite among the Sabeans of Haran
during the latter half of the first millennium C.E. Our source is here a
month-by-month survey of the cult, preserved in an Arabic text. The
section for the month of Ta'uz, that is Tammuz, relates that the god
T a ~ u z i.e. Dun1uzi, was n1urdered by his master, ;.vh9 ground his banes
1 in a mill and winnowed them. Dumuzi is here undoubtedly identified
with the grain:
In the middle of the month is the festival of the biiqat, that is, of the wailing
women. It is also called Ta'uz, as it is a festival performed for the god Ta'uz.
The women lament for him, and that his master murdered him, ground his bones
in a mill and winnowed them in the wind.
Secondly, there is the issue of official vs. popular religion and the usual
allocation of the Dumuzi cult to the latter level. The Y aminite letter
deals with one Y aminite ruler talking to another with reference to a
A human being comparing his fate to that of Dumuzi is, of course, unique. Contrast the aware-
ness of the finality of death, succinctly expressed as follows in a Mari text: "Is a man who dies
of thirst ever resurrected [ib/uf] when thrown in a river? Once (he/the gods) finish taking ac-
counts, a dead man never comes to life" (ARM XXV, 171:14-15). English translation by Jack
Sasson, who called my attention to this text (p.c., April2001) and who also referred me to Zieg-
ler and Wasserman (1994).
SAA 3: no. 38: rev. 6-7 (text and translation in Livingstone, Court Poetry p. 98). Discussion in
Livingstone (1986: 130-131, 136-141).
En-Nedim, text I, chap. 5 4. Arabic text and German translation in Chwolsohn (1856, vol. 1:
27). The English translation quoted above is that by Livingstone (1986: 162). On the Sabeans
of Haran and on the source-critical problems involved, see especially J. Hjarpe ( 1972).
I n
l d
t s
'( s
[ .1
r ;
temple and public cult. The material connected with the Umma celebra-
tions of Dumuzi deals with herds under the administration of the ens i.
This raises questions about the overall applicability of Kutscher's thesis
that the Dumuzi cult was a phenomenon on the popular level of reli-
2.3. Seasonal Connections
Dumuzi is the young shepherd who undergoes a development from an
assumed status as divinized king to a general god ofvegetation.
is some disagreement about when this development took place.
There are some indications that the connection between Dumuzi and
vegetation is early and that it was fully developed at least during the sec-
ond half of the second millennium B.C.E.:
( 1) The motif of the partition of the year and of Dumuzi' s bilocation,
which is present already in the Sumerian Descent of Inanna, is, indeed,
closely connecte'd with the seasonal changes between the dry and fertile
periods of the year.
(2) Dumuzi gradually enters into close relations with original gods
of vegetation, such as Ningishzida and Damu. As for Ningishzida, Ur
III material such as U rnammu 's Death seems to presuppose Dumuzi 'A>
connection with this god.
Cultic connections between the two gods
are present in Ur III Umma.
The Old Babylonian myth Ningishzida 's
Descent seems to be patterned on the myth of Dumuzi and thereby test-
ifies to the Dumuzi-Ningishzida connection. The relation with Damu,
in turn, is more difficult to assess. Is it Old Babylonian or not?
I feel
inclined to regard the reference to Damu in the Amarna letter no. 84, a
letter from Byblos, as a potential testimony to this Dumuzi-Damu con-
nection. If Dumuzi already had a connection with a vegetation god,
On Umma, see Sallaberger (1993, vol. 1: 262). My thanks to Daniel Fleming for calling my
attention to this aspect of the Yaminite letter (p.c.).
Thus Falkenstein (1954: 64-65).
Alster (DDD: 1568, 1574, 1576) stresses that Dumuzi was not originally a vegetation deity and
plays down his assumed connection with plant fertility. For scholars of a different opinion, see
the following notes.
See Bottero and Kramer (1989: 328-329). The period of drought lasted from Dumuzi to Kis-
limu (July- December) and then followed the period of verdure from Tebetu to Simanu (De-
cember- June). See also Cohen (1993: 3-8, 262-263).
On Urnammu's Death, see Wilcke (1970: 89 and RLA V: 84).
There were offerings for Ningishzida at Ur III Umma in the twelfth month in connection with
the Dumuzi festival, see Sallaberger ( 1993, vol. I: 262).
See above, in the introduction to the present chapter.
Ninigishzida, why then did he not also have a connection with Damu
who was of the same type? That Damu equals Dumuzi makes sense in
the milieu of Byblos, later known for the cult of Adonis (see Chap.
The evidence then suggests that Dumuzi was seen quite early on as
a god of vegetation, regardless of his original character. That his role as
a god of vegetation received added emphasis in texts from the first mil-
lennium is a different matter. Thus, SAA 3: no. 38 contains a passage
belonging to the god-description genre, with an express identification of
various parts of the body of the god with various types of vegetation.
The Mesopotamian year began in the spring. Dumuzi descended in
the fourth month, Du'uzu (July). Sladek and others assumed that his re-
turn was thought to take place in the month Kislimu (November-De-
cember), but there is no explicit evidence for this that I know of.
passage adduced actually refers to Nergal's descent and return, placing
his descent on the 18th of Du'uzu and his return on the 28th of Kislimu
(about December).
The only piece of evidence known to me that links Dumuzi's return
with a specific season is the case of Umma, where we find the twelfth
month, i.e. at the end of the winter, given as the time for this (see above).
We may then summarize our results. M.S. Smith's conclusion that the
mythological reference to Dumuzi' s bilocation is "a 'theology' de-
signed to provide intelligibility for Dumuzi's annual death"
slightly premature, and this for two reasons. (1) However scanty, the
evidence from Umma and Mari points to the ritual celebration of Du-
muzi's return. This return may be seen in the light of what we know
about ritual journeys of statues. (2) There is evidence to the effect that
Dumuzi-though not himself a vegetation deity from the outset--early
on took up connections with such vegetation gods, notably Ningishzida
and perhaps Damu. Seen in this light, the mythological motif of biloca-
tion has a more positive function than just providing a theological ra-
tionalization for the annual death of Dumuzi: it serves to give the
etiology for the reawakening of plant life.
Livingstone (SAA III: no. 38: rev. 9ff.).
Sladek (1974: 27, note 1).
Epping and Strassmaier (1891: 244, lines 52-54); see also von Weiher (1971: 82-83), whore-
fers to still another text for Nergal's return in Kislimu.
8 M.S. Smith (1998: 275).
J '1S
; \S
a ~ e
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; 5
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3. Dumuzi and the West Semitic Gods
It is a commonplace that close cultural contacts existed in the ancient
Near East.
Akkadian was the lingua franca during the Late Bronze
Age. The Amarna texts contain copies of Adapa and the South Wind and
Nergal and Ereshkigal (EA nos. 356-357). A fragment of Gilgamesh
was found at Megiddo.
In a study of the Middle Babylonian poetry
of U garit and Emar, Kammerer ( 1998) was able to demonstrate that we
are here concerned not only with reception but also with what he calls,
with a German term, "Induktion"
, i.e. the new, creative production
of Middle Babylonian poems. The Akkadian poetry from these sites
shows a remarkable competence in the handling of the Mesopotamian
divine names: these are provided with the correct epithets and cultic-
theological statements.
The use of the subjunctive as a marker of
subordinate clauses shows that the scribes had more than just a super-
ficial knowledge of Akkadian.
It is thus not surprising that we hear
of contacts, e.g. between Mari and Ugarit and between Mari and Byb-
A find that has been taken to prove that there was knowledge of the
Dumuzi myth in Canaan already in the Early Bronze Age is the stele
from Arad, published by Ruth Amiran: she takes the two vegetal fig-
ures, one lying and one standing, to represent Dumuzi at two decisivf
steps in the myth.
This would, however. be a completely isolated
case. On the other hand, there is evidence for connections between Arad
and Egypt (the pottery). The pictorial representation should therefore
rather be interpreted against an Egyptian background. Nepri, the Egyp-
tian com god and one of the aspects of Osiris thus seems a preferable
alternative to Dumuzi.
Alternatively, if one still prefers a Mesopota-
mian background, the figures may represent a hieros gamos.
There is a long history of research on this. Note the collections of essays edited by Nissen and
Renger (1982) and by Dalley (1998). In the first work, note the essays by Kupper (pp. 173-185)
and Xella (pp. 321-338).
See Toumay and Shaffer (1994: 12, 174-177).
Kammerer ( 1998: 99-100 with note 275).
Kammerer (1998: 83-84).
Kammerer (1998: 125-126).
See Loretz (1994: 113-124). On Mari and Ugarit, see also Bordreuil (1985).
Amiran (1972a; 1972b). The picture is reproduced in NEAEHL I: 82.
My thanks to Irit Ziffer, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. for calling my attention to this aspect
Thus Othmar Keel (p.c.). Such bed scenes have a first floruit in contemporary Mesopotamia
(Keel, p.c.).
A more promising avenue is opened up by a Middle Bronze Age
item, the Mari text A.ll46, which mentions Dumuzi being killed and
coming back (discussed above). This is a letter from one Y aminite king
to another. It was written in north-eastern Syria, in the Euphrates region.
How it came to Mari is not yet clarified. Fleming recently called atten-
tion to an unpublished text that refers to the pasturage of the Simalite
"Northerners" at the upper Habur, while that of the Yaminite "South-
erners" encompassed Yamhad, Qatna and Amurru. Y amhad and Qatna
were major western kingdoms, and the latter governed territories that
reached south into what are now southern Syria and Lebanon.
range of movement of the Y aminites shows how the lines of commun-
ication worked. Dumuzi may thus well have been known in the Byblos
area as a god who both dies and returns.
Before we focus on the questions of a possible Dumuzi influence on
Baal and on Adonis and Melqart, we shall first notice, on a more general
level, the proliferation of references to Ishtar and Ashtart in Syrian
sources from the second millennium B.C.E.
These two probably rep-
resented originally independent deities. Ishtar plays a prominent role in
Ebla. Ashtart has a noticeable connection with Mari, as appears from
the mention of an Ash tart of Mari in a U garitic text.
As for Emar,
Fleming argues that the storm god under the name Baal was there
coupled with AshtHrt. He refers to the personal names with the form Zu-
DN, Zii-Ba (I a and Zii-Astarti, to the paired temples for the storm god
and Ashtart, and to the association of the cults of the storm god and of
Ashtart in Emar' s two installation festivals. These festivals with parallel
structure and offering procedure, put in office the priestess of the storm
god and the priestess of Ashtart.
In U garit, we find that Anat had a
close relation to Baal.
Anat is also known from Mari, where the same
name is also the name of a town.
Anat of Ugarit is obviously a very
lshtar-like character (sex and violence). Even so, the name "Ashtart"
See Fleming (1998: 61-62). My thanks to Daniel Fleming for calling my attention to this piece
of evidence (p.c. May 2000).
See the survey in Bonnet (1996: 135-153).
KTU 1.100. The passage on the goddess was first overlooked by the scribe, but he afterwards
added in the margin a formulation that may be translated: "Insert after the paragraph on Rashap
the one on Ashtart ofMari", thus Pardee (COS!: 296 n. 15). See also Parker (UNP: p. 221) and
Dietrich and Loretz (2000: 309), and on this goddess especially Bordreuil ( 1985b ).
See Fleming (1992: 214-227; and esp. 1993: 90-91; 1994). Contrast Schwemer (2001: 558, n.
Note, however, the difficulties in defining the relations between Anat and Baal, see Walls
(I 992: chap. 3) and Schwemer (2001: 543-544).
See Edzard (1967: 64). See also Lambert (1985b: 526, item no. 14; 1988: 132). On Anat in the
Ugaritic texts, see Walls (1992).
- -, - ~ . : - - --"'--
- ~ -- . _ . ~ . 7
- - y - ~
occurs a number of times in other texts, sometimes closely linked with
Ashtart is, of course, known later on above all as the pan-Phoe-
nician goddess.
The proliferation of Ishtar and Ash tart cults is an im-
portant phenomenon. Its evidential value for conclusions about an
import of Dumuzi concepts to the West is, however, limited. What it
does show is that such an import would not stand out as a complete sur-
prise, and that northern Syria had plenty of cults where Dumuzi would
play a natural, although not a necessary, part.
3.1. Dumuzi and the Ugaritic Baal
Baal has a pre-history as appears from the pre-Ugaritic documenta-
tion.126 He is a storm god, and we should be aware that storm gods
(weather gods) are not generically gods who die.
Although we have
some very old, pre-Sargonic evidence for the storm god, Ishkur, being
imprisoned in the Netherworld,
it seems that the motif of dying and
rising, so well-known from the Baal-Mot myth ofUgarit, is a rare phe-
nomenon among these deities.
While the Baal-Yam myth has a long history of tradition, the Baal-
Mot myth is a different case, with no obvious precedents in Syria or up- 1
per Mesopotamia.
M.S. Smith, comments on the pre-history of the
Baal myth.
Single episodes are from the Middle Bronze Age. Here
belongs the Baal-Yam conflict, attested in a Marl text and on a seal
from Tel Asmar.
The transformation of the material at Ugarit may
have included the creation of Mot and the patterning of this character in
KTU 1.4- 1.6 after that of Yam in 1.1- 1.2.
See KTU 1.92: 2; 1.100: 20; 1.114: 9-11, 22-23, 26; and in lists of gods: 1.47: 20, 25; 1.118:
19, 24.
See conveniently Rollig (DCPP : 46-48) and especially Bonnet (1996).
See Pettinato (1980), M.S. Smith (1994: 15-19, 29-36}, and Schwemer (2001: Chap. 6).
This important circumstance was pointed out to me by Daniel Fleming (p.c.).
See Schwemer (2001: 179).
See Schwemer (2001: 536-537). On the background of the Baal-Yam myth, see Schwemer
(2001: 226-237).
See M.S. Smith (1994: 15-19, 29-36).
For the Mari text (A. 1968: rev. 2-3), see Durand (1993: 45). For the seal, see ANEP no. 691
and M.S. Smith (1994: 346-347). As Schwemer points out (2001: 119). the dragon battle
mytheme is probably very old, attested already in Old Babylonian Halab (2001: 226-236).
Fronzaroli (1997) argued for its presence already in certain curse formulas at Ebla, but this
seems questionable, see Schwemer (200 1: 118-119). For another potential piece of very early
evidence, see the reference in Durand (1993: 43). My thanks to Daniel Fleming and Jack Sas-
son for the reference to Fronzaroli.
M.S. Smith (1994: 17-19). Smith's analysis is accepted by Herr (1995: esp. p. 51).
Thus, a connection between Baal and the descensus motif is by no
means a matter of course before the Ugaritic Baal appears on the West
Semitic scene. That the Ugaritic Baal actually appears as a dying and
rising god stands out as an innovation, and one that demands an ex-
Let us therefore look for the background of the descensus motif ap-
plied to Baal. Disregarding Mot as aU garitic creation, the structure and
actants of Baal's descent to the Netherworld strikingly resemble the Du-
muzi myth: a young male god goes down to the Netherworld, the god-
dess laments his departure and carries out a search for him, and the
narrative structure is related to the change of the seasons.
In the Baal-Mot myth there is a striking metaphor that serves to ex-
press Anat' s bereavement and longing for her lost spouse: "like the
heart ofthe c[ow] for her calf ... so is the heart of An[ at] for Baal" (KTU
1.6.11: 6-9). This metaphor is remarkable in the Ugaritic context, since
there are no other traces that the goddess was the mother of the god who
descended. Precisely this, however, is well-known from Mesopota-
mia.134 The cow-and-calf metaphor is there found in a descensus pas-
but occurs also in other contexts with the broad motif of the
weeping goddess, where we find the formulation: "the cow for the calf
... the cow-its calf had disappeared" .
The motif thus does not per se
point to a connection with the Dumuzi myth but seems nevertheless best
understood as due to influence from the East. Saying this, I am aware of
the fact that in general terms there is surprisingly meagre evidence for
Mesopotamian influence on the religious life of U garit.
Conclusion: The correspondences between Ugaritic data and Meso-
potamian counterparts do not require for their explanation a genetic re-
lation with the Dumuzi concepts. Independent, indigenous development
is a theoretical possibility. The nature of the correspondences and the
These similarities have been pointed out by M.S. Smith (1994: 18-19). As far as I can see,
Smith does not comment on genetic relations between Dumuzi concepts and Baal notions.
See for instance Jacobsen (1976: 63-73).
See Jacobsen (1976: 64).
Gaster (1969: 605f.) connected the Anat passage with other ancient Near Eastern material from
Mesopotamia and Anato1ia. See also M.S. Smith (1985: 313). For the Sumerian text that Smith
here referes to, see Kramer (1982: *142), who speaks ofthemater-dolorosa motif. On the motif
of the weeping goddess in Mesopotamia, see Kramer (1983: 69-80), and on the Phoenician-
Punic Venus lugens, see Ronzevalle (1930). Note the suggestion, made by Lipinski (1995:
199), that the name Tnt derives from a root tny, "to mourn", which he assumes in Judg 11:40,
and understands this goddess as "the mourning one". This goddess has her origin in the Orient,
and is no Punic innovation, see KAI 81:1 and Bordreuil (1987: 79-85). For a general presenta-
tion ofTannit!finnit, see Lipinski (1995: 199-215 with references).
Note Pardee's remarks (2000, vol. 2: 935).
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circumstantial evidence, however, make such a connection an attractive
possibility. We should not overlook the differences between Baal and
Dumuzi: "Dumuzi is no great god like Baal, nor a storm god, nor does
he engage in mortal combat as part of the description of the struggle be-
tween life and death."
These differences, however, are no counter-
argument. Dumuzi is not a storm god, but already during the Late
Bronze Age he has developed the features of a god of vegetation, and
vegetation is a major responsibility of Baal. The possible absorption of
Dumuzi motifs such as the descensus does not necessarily transform
Baal into a West Semitic Dumuzi but rather enriches the Ugaritic storm
god with features that he did not have prior to the time when the influ-
ence took place. There was a change, and change is always a prime cri-
terion of influence.
Baal changed from being a common storm god
to being a storm god who descended into the Netherworld and returned.
The very mytheme of the descensus may then well be due to influence
from Mesopotamia.
3.2. Dumuzi and Adonis and Melqart
With regard to Adonis, let us first consider some indications of rathef
obvious Mesopotamian influence. These are found in material relating
to Adonis in Egypt and Adonis in Greece.
In the first place, there is some striking evidence for Mesopotamian
influence on the Adonis rites of Ptolemaic Egypt, which we dealt with
above (Chap. IV.2). In Theocritus (Idyll XV), there is a formulation
about Aphrodite as "playing with the gold" (I. 101) that has been seen
in the light of Inanna's/lshtar's jewellery in the descensus myths.
Stol (1988) gave a striking demonstration that the word OELK"tfjpwv, oc-
curring in one of the Petrie papyri (3, no. 142, from Fayoum), is a calque
on Akkadian taklimtu, referring to a display rite in connection with the
mourning rites for Dumuzi. This display rite was either the lying-in-
state of the dead body, or rather the display of the grave goods.
Against this background, the shortness of Adonis' visit on earth in
Theocritus' poem may receive its explanation. Could it not be a visit of
M.S. Smith (1998: 276).
On change as a criterion for influence in art and literature, see Hermen\n (1975: 239-262).
See Vollgraff (1949) and Atallah (1966: 114-121 ). The jewellery is referred to in lnanna 's Des-
cent 11. 19-20 and fshtar's Descent 11.48-52. Note, however, that gold is not referred to in these
See Scurlock (1991). For the rite in connection with the mourning for Dumuzi, see Scurlock
(1992: esp. pp. 58-61). And see above Chap. VII. 1.2.
the same brevity as that of Dumuzi' s visit on earth in the Neo-Assyrian
texts, made in order just to participate in the mourning rites, after which
he returns to the Netherworld? If so, the Adonis of Egypt was a chthonic
character, similar to the one we found on Cyprus, at Kourion, and sim-
ilar to the Adonis of the Greek magical papyri (cf. above Chap. IV.l.3).
Secondly, we note that the Greek Adonis tradition knows about the
bilocation of the dying god. We find it in the mythological passage that
Apollodorus cites from Panyassis.
Penglase sees this motif of the
myth in the light of the Sumerian descensus myth.
There is a divine
decree in both. Note, however, that there is also a difference: the Sum-
erian myth connects the motif ofbilocation with that of substitution.
Dumuzi and Geshtinanna each spend half of the year in the Nether-
world. In the Greek myth, the year of Adonis is divided into three dif-
ferent periods, one to be spent with Persephone, one with Aphrodite,
and one to be spent alone (but which is subsequently added to Aphro-
dite's share). Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to conclude that the di-
vine decree on the partition of the year is indeed due ultimately to
Mesopotamian influence.
What we have in Egypt and in Greece in terms of traces of influence
may be due either to direct Mesopotamian influence, perhaps via Ana-
tolia in the case of Greece, or to influence mediated via e.g. Byblos. We
simply do not know. We should remember that the bilocation mytheme
is also present in the Demeter-Kore myth.
Let us then tum to the Levant and the Adon(is) cult at Byblos. Here
our discussion must suffer from the deplorable lack of know ledge about
the mythology linked with the Levantine Adon(is).
We discussed above the possible implications of the reference to the
male god ofByblos as "my Darou" (EA no. 84) and "my living god" (EA
no. 129), and as "the Living One" in a much earlier context, in a Pyr-
amid text (518d). We should notice that the god of Byblos is never re-
ferred to in the Amama letters as a storm god (diSKUR). When all is
said and done, we should not dismiss the possibility that the male god
of Byblos was from very early times, well before the Late Bronze Age,
a dying and rising deity. Whether or not there is already here a formative
influence from the Dumuzi concepts is beyond the realm of historical
tangibles. Historical contacts are certainly possible.
Apollodorus, The Library III, 14, 4, and see above Chap. IV .1.2.
Peng1ase (1997: 139).
The notion of redemption from death is present in some texts in the Hebrew Bible: Ps 49: 8-10.
16 (English vv. 7-9, IS); Job 33: 24, 28.
t )nic
d sim-
, 1.3).
of the
c 1ine
I. lfO-
ely to
1 nee
. 1ere
a Pyr-
fPr re-
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le god

t tive
:uri cal
I 8-10.
The name of the goddess of Byblos may be worth noticing. Her des-
ignation as "Lady of Byblos"
is now known to equal "Ashtart". The
two designations occur on a small throne model, published by Bor-
dreuil. On the back of it we read in Greek letters: 8EA ME-
fiLTH, and underneath this in Phoenician writing: lbclt gbl. The
Phoenician writing is close to that ofByblian coins of the fourth century
The identification of the goddess ofByblos with Aphrodite is
suggested by De Dea Syria 6. This throne model, however, offers the
first epigraphic attestation of a formal correspondence, long suspected,
between the Lady of Byblos and Ashtart. Note that the designation
"Lady of Byblos" looks like an epithet. Ashtart may well be the actual
name of the deity, the full name being Ashtart, Lady ofByblos. The use
of the name "Ash tart", however, should not without further ado be taken
as a sign that there is a Dumuzi influence. Ashtart seems to have been a
fairly ubiquitous designation in the Late Bronze Age as we have already
One point of striking similarity with Dumuzi is found on the ritual
level: The Adonis festival took place in the middle of the summer,
probably at the same time that the mourning rites for Dumuzi took place
in Mesopotamia. We must also note a difference: The Adonis celebra-
tions, as we know them from De Dea Syria, comprise both the death and
the resurrection of the god. The Dumuzi celebrations in the summtr
seem to be reserved for the mourning for the absem god, while his return
may have been celebrated just after winter.
This last observation brings us to Melqart. We happen to know that
Melqart' s "awakening" took place in the month of Peritius, which is
mid-February to mid-March. This is broadly reminiscent ofthe time for
the celebration of Dumuzi's return at Umma and ties in with the calcu-
lation of half a year in the Netherworld for Dumuzi, counted from the
celebration of his death in late July. If the Pyrgi inscription refers to
Melqart, and if our interpretation of a difficult name of a month in this
text is correct, then Melqart's burial may take place during high sum-
mer. Adonis and Melqart then have festivals that broadly harmonize
with the terms for the celebrations for Dumuzi.
Our observations about Adonis and Melqart may then be summar-
ized as follows. There are clear traces of Mesopotamian influence on the
Adonis concepts in Greece and Egypt. Given the present state of our
Note Beltu sa Gubla in the Amarna letters, survey in Hess (1986: 151) and b'lt gbl in a Phoe-
nician inscription, see Bordreuil (1977).
Bordreuil (1985a: 182-183).
On the date, see above Chap. lV .1.1.
knowledge, however, it is impossible to say anything about the date for
this influence and the channels that mediated it. Turning to the Levan-
tine Adon(is) of the cult at Byblos, we found one characteristic feature,
paralleled by the Dumuzi cult: just as the mourning for Dumuzi oc-
curred in midsummer, so the Adonia took place in the middle of sum-
mer, during the latter half of July. The reference in an Amarna letter (no.
84) to the male god as "Damu" does not per se require the conclusion
that Dumuzi was known at Byblos. Due to the close syncretistic links
between Dumuzi and Damu, however, the reference to Damu is cer-
tainly in good harmony with such an inference. As for Melqart, we
called attention to the date for his festival in the month of Peritius, a date
which converges with the inferred date for the celebration of Dumuzi' s
4. Conclusions
Due to the potential interest of Dumuzi for our project, it was necessary
to submit the variegated Dumuzi material to an extended discussion. I
draw the following conclusions.
(1) According to some scholars, Dumuzi was not originally a god.
The name Dumuzi occurs in the Sumerian l(ing List as the name of two
1 different rulers. Our Dumuzi is perhaps a divinized king, and as such he
may be said to exemplify the motif of a mortal ruler who becomes the
husband of a goddess. It would seem difficult to argue, however, that
Dumuzi throughout his long history was experienced by the Mesopota-
mians as only quasi-divine. Whatever the origin and background ofDu-
muzi, he is a real god.
(2) The general picture we have of Dumuzi is that of the tragic hero.
His festival in the middle of the summer, at the end of the month
Du'uzu, is one of weeping and mourning.
(3) There is a certain tension between the picture we find in the ritual
material (human mourning) and in the myth (the god's return from the
Netherworld). Thus, in the Dumuzi myth as we gather it from material
focussed on the descensus of the goddess, we find a complex of mytho-
logical motifs comprising substitution, partition of the year and biloca-
tion (with Dumuzi and his sister interchanging in the Netherworld). The
partition of the year has obvious seasonal implications. This set of
mythological motifs is most clearly attested in the Sumerian Inanna 's
Descent. The Akkadian Ishtar's Descent lacks explicit references to a
partition of the year and to bilocation. Since, however, the motif of sub-
stitution is explicitly mentioned, these may be assumed to be implicitly
e for
: .n-
1 oc-
; n-
I' ks
~ r
f ry
l ..
I e
l -
~ j
present here as well. The final part of this text was found to make up an
addition of a ritual nature that created a connection between the mytho-
logical corpus of the text and the ritual mourning for Dumuzi at the end
of his month in the summer. The context is that of the taklimtu rites for
Dumuzi. Dumuzi's stay on earth in this passage is only a brief furlough
from his confinement in the Netherworld.
( 4) What we could perhaps call a "Dumuzi pattern" -descent and
return-may also be seen in at least two other compositions, namely,
Ningishzida 's Descent and the Urnammu 's Death.
(5) From the end of the third millennium B.C.E. there is thus narrat-
ive, mythological evidence for Dumuzi as a god who dies and returns.
(6) While the ritual material very much gives the picture of Dumuzi
as the tragic hero, mourned and bewailed, there are also traces of a ritual
celebration of his return. These, however, are sparse and difficult to in-
terpret. In late third millennium Umma there is evidence for the celebra-
tion of Dumuzi's return in month XII, which is at the end of winter
(spring reckoning of the year). At Old Babylonian Mari, a Yaminite text
was found (A.1146) attesting a celebration among Yaminite tribes of
the death and return of Dumuzi ("they kill him ... he always comes
back"). This new and important piece of evidence shows that the idea
of Dumuzi's death and return may well have been known in southern 1
Syria and pa..rts of Lebanon where these tribes moved.
(7) Dumuzi is not originally a god of vegetation. It is clear, however,
that he contracts relations and even develops a syncretism with such
gods. Thus, the Dumuzi-Ningishzida connection leaves traces already
during the first half of the second millennium. The relation with Damu
is more difficult to assess. Since the dying and returning Dumuzi is
known among theY aminites, and since the god of B yblos is later known
to be a dying and rising god (Adonis), I am inclined to see the reference
to Damu in an Amarna letter (no. 84) in the light of an already existing
Dumuzi-Damu connection that is later amply attested. When all is said
and done I think we should regard Late Bronze Age Dumuzi as a god of
(8) We studied the potential influence of Dumuzi on the West Sem-
itic gods. Our present know ledge about the ancient Near East shows that
such influence is an obvious possibility, though specific channels and
procedures still escape our curiosity .
(a) Ugaritic Baal belongs to the category of weather gods. The Baal-
Yam myth has a long pre-history. The Baal-Mot myth, however, lacks
obvious precursors. It represents an innovation that demands an ex-
planation. I am inclined to seek the explanation by assuming a reception
of Dumuzi concepts in U garit.
(b) As for Adonis, the mythology as we know it from Greece shows
obvious connections with the Dumuzi motifs (partition of the year and
bilocation). There are also traces of such influence at Alexandria.
Whether the Levantine Adon(is) of Byblos was influenced is more dif-
ficult to say. If it is correct that the Adonia took place in the middle of
summer also in the Levant, then there is a striking similarity, since this
is also the time for the Dumuzi festival that comprised the mourning for
the god. From De Dea Syria we gain the picture, however, that the Ado-
nia comprised both the mourning for the dead god and joy over his re-
turn from the tomb. The scant traces of a celebration of Dumuzi' s return
indicate that this took place in the spring.
(c) As for Melqart, I called attention to the date for his festival in the
month of Peritius, a date in good harmony with the inferred date for the
celebration of Dumuzi' s return.
5. Excursus. Triduum: A Notion of Return after Three Days?
The idea of a three-days span of time between death and return, a tri-
duum, seems to be at hand in Hosea 6:2 in a context where the imagery
ultimately draws upon Canaanite ideas of resurrection: "After two days
he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up." Apart from Hosea
6:2 one should remember also Jonah 2:1 (Engl. 1: 17) where Jonah is in
the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
I understand the belly
of the fish as a metaphor for the Netherworld. The following points
should be noted:
(1) Formulations about three days, or the third day, may well be a
way of indicating a short period of time. Gradwohl has assembled a
number of Hebrew occurrences of this nature, and Barre has called at-
tention to the use of the Akkadian expression in the context of medical
prognosis to refer to a quick recovery from illness.
(2) We should note, with Notscher, that the expression in Inanna 's
Descent does not refer to the span of time between death and resurrec-
tion but rather to the time that passes before Ninshubur incites Enki to
In line with the passages in Hosea and Jonah are the passages in the New Testament about the
resurrection of Jesus on the third day, a notion that had formulaic firmness (I Cor 15:4; Matt
16:21; 17:23; 20:19 with par.; Luke 24:21,46, cf. Luke 13:32 and John II :17, 39).
Gradwohl (1997) and Barre (1978). However, Barre is unconvincing when he understands Hos
6:2 as a reference to "the healing of the sick rather than the resurrection of the dead" (p. 140),
see J. Day (2000: 118-122).
!:lr and
< dria.
>re dif-
idle of
1 this

l ; re-

) days
( sea
l sin
l ints
I be a
d a

1 a's
l-j to
lOUt the
4: Matt
). 140),
take action.
On the other hand, an Emar text seems to refer to death
on the first day and resurrection on the fourth day.
But this is a text
that deals with a different deity, Ninkur, and there is no seasonal con-
(3) We nowhere hear about a third-day resurrection of Baal.
Note, however, that the crucial passage in the Baal myth was damaged,
so that we should perhaps not rush to conclusions from silence.
( 4) It is possible but not proved that a triduum is referred to in the
iconography of the Sidon vase depicting Melqart's (or Eshmun's) death
and resurrection (see above Chap. III.3).
(5) Hosea speaks of "the third day", while Jonah refers to "three days
and three nights", thereby hinting at a departure from the belly of the
fish on the fourth day? The difference in counting, however, may be due
to whether the day of death, or only the following one, is counted as the
first day.
Baudissin juxtaposed the formulation in Hosea 6:2 with similar
ideas related to Adonis, Osiris etc.
He found it a valid possibility that
there was in Phoenicia an idea of a three-day span between death and
resurrection. Baudissin refers to the Adonis rituals in De Dea Syria 6
as a possible case of a three-day cycle. I am prepared to subscribe to this
aualified ooinion.
He also refers to Osiris in Plutarch, who dies on
the 17th o(Athyr and is found again on the 19th of the same month.
Note, however that Osiris is hardly a dying and rising deity in the sense
in which we use the term in the present investigation. Nevertheless, the
probable presence of such a notion of a triduum in Byblos is not void of
The question before us, of whether there was in the ancient Near East
a firm notion of a triduum, must finally be left open. We would be wise
to admit the possibility that this was the case, but this is still far from
being an established fact.
Notscher (1962: 231-236).
Emar VI.3: 385: lines 5 and 21. English translation in Cohen (1993: 353). See the discussion
in Fleming (1992: 169-172).
As was pointed out by Day (2000: 121).
Baudissin (1911: 407-416).
See above Chap. IV.3.3.
See Plutarch, De !side et Osiride 356C ( 13) and 366F ( 39).
In our first chapter, we surveyed the past century of research on the
issue of "dying and rising gods". After the first decades with the major
works of Frazer and Baudissin, the research of the century was marked
by a gradual dismantling of their claims that the dying gods not only
died but also returned. One sometimes notes in the research certain
evasive strategies designed to avoid the conclusion that the notion of
dying and rising deities might be a pre-Christian phenomenon. Ancient
Near Eastern gods are freely granted the privilege of rising or return-
ing-as long as they behave like gentlemen and do not do so before
Christ. A special case is one scholar who suggested that there was never
a resurrection of Adonis, but that such ideas in our sources are due to a
Christian misreading of the evidence.
Our perusal of a wide array of material has benefited from sources
that either have received little attention from scholars interested in the
overall issues (e.g. the Ugaritic texts) or were not available until the last
few decades (e.g. the concluding section of Inanna's Descent to the
Netherworld, the Yaminite letter found at Mari, Ningishzida's Des-
On the basis of our new perusal of the material, I would like to stress
the following points of overarching interest.
(l)The world of ancient Near Eastern religions actually knew a
number of deities that may be properly described as dying and rising
gods. The language used for this varies, of course. Only in the case of
Melqart-Heracles do we have express terminology of resurrection (the
Semitic root qwm in the participle mqm, "the raiser/resuscitator of the
god", the Greek i::ycpou::, "the awakening [of the god]"). In other cases,
we hear of Dumuzi "returning" (taro, Gtn) or have found reason to infer
that there was a return to life (thus in the case of Baal). The participants
of Adonis' cult at Byblos after the god's burial recited the myth about
the god's revival. For Osiris, there are evocative expressions for his re-
surrection on the levels of language and rite. The dying gods are gods
that rise or return to new life.
(2) Moreover, this is the case long before the turn of the era, in pre-
Christian times. As for the attempts to hypothesize about a late, post-
Christian date for the notion of the return/resurrection of Adonis in par-
ticular, we have seen that there are other gods who both die and return
long before the Christian era: Dumuzi, Baal, and Melqart. Osiris may
also be mentioned here, though he is a special case. For Eshmun, the
clear evidence for his death and resuscitation is from Damascius (fifth
century C.E.). However, it is possible but not provable that already in
pre-Christian times Eshmun had also developed these characteristics.
Similarly Adonis: the clear evidence is from De Dea Syria (second
century C.E.) and later. Prior to this, Adonis' resurrection is possible but
not proved. Whether the male god of Byblos was originally or only
eventually became a dying and rising god is not clear; nor can we state
when this may have happened. The presence of the descensus mytheme
in Greek Adonis cults is either due to a separate borrowing from the
East (Mesopotamia), and was then only secondarily connected with
Adonis in Greece, or it is a borrowing that found its way to Greece in
connection with the reception of Adonis and is then an indication that
Levantine Adon(is) was already in the Iron Age a dying and rising god.
This is still a moot point. On the whole I am inclined to think that the
circumstantial evidence favours the conclusion that Levantine Adon(is)
was a dying and rising god already in pre-Christian times, rather than
the contention that he was at that time only a dying god as we know
Adonis from Greece.
(3)0ne should not hypostasize these gods into a specific type "the
dying and rising god". On the centra..;', the gods mentioned ! of very
different types, although we have found tendencies to association and
Dumuzi was by no means a weather god. He seems originally to
have been a god of shepherding (and perhaps even earlier a deified
king), but eventually he developed links with gods of vegetation (Nin-
gishzida, Damu) and was presumably a god of vegetation from the Late
Bronze Age on.
Baal is a very clear case of a storm or weather god. Though there is
a disturbing lack of mythological material for the storm gods of north-
em Mesopotamia and Syria, it seems that storm gods are not generically
gods who die and rise. Baal ofUgarit was here an exceptional case. The
Baal-Mot myth shows that Baal had developed into a god who des-
cended into the Netherworld and later returned. In order to account for
this change in Baal's character, I pointed to the probability of a recep-
tion in U garit of the descensus mytheme from the cults of Mesopotam-
ian Dumuzi.
Adon(is) of Byblos has no documented storm god characteristics. He
is not presented in the sources as a descendant of Canaanite Baal.
cl return
mn, the
lJ<: (fifth
., <iy in
; ?. but
01 only
"Ale state
L,.a the
;e in
1, . that
ng god.
t t the
c n(is)
er than

pe "the
c" very
y to
c 1fied
1 (Nin-
lP Late
here is
: :ally
>t. The
L t for

Rather, he is an independent god, whose grandfather we probably meet
in the Amarna letters (EA nos. 84; 129) and perhaps already in the Pyr-
amid texts.
Tyrian Melqart, in turn, has a genealogy that connects him with
Baal, but he is not identified as a storm god in the sources. He has close
connections with Osiris, but nevertheless he dies a death in flames. The
manner of his death seems to mirror the transition from inhumation to
cremation in the Phoenician burial practises. There is no descensus, but
he is obviously a dying and rising god.
Eshmun, finally, is a god of healing without obvious relations to
Baal. The earliest reference is found in a New Kingdom Egyptian med-
ical papyrus. He is eventually associated with Melqart.
From what has been said, it appears that Frazer's work suffered from
undue simplifications. The gods in question cannot be lumped together
in the way he did-just as we cannot take the deities concerned as
simply being deities of the Baal type. The present work profits from a
century's worth of research on the ancient Near East and from important
finds from U garit and the rest of the Levant, which were not available
to Frazer. Even so, one should not deny Frazer the honour of having had
an intuition about the return and resurrection of the deities studied that;
finds substantial confirmation from the present work.
( 4) The gods that die and rise have close ties to the seasonal cycle of
plant life.
The summer drought is the time when their death may be
mourned ritually. The time after the winter rains and floodings may pro-
vide the occasion for the celebration of their return. The festivals are
distributed over the year as follows:
two festivals: mourning at the end of the month of Dumu-
zi; scant evidence for the celebration of his return in the
spring (Umma).
no explicit information available from U garit; circumstan-
tial evidence for water libations in the autumn (KTU 1.12).
Byblos: one festival expressing both aspects; date prob-
ably in midsummer.
On cultic calendars in the ancient Near East. see Cohen (1993) and Fleming (2000). Note that
there is no fixed correlation between the Mesopotamian calendar and the solar cycle. Regular
intercalation was not put in effect until Achaemenid times (Cohen 1993: 5 with references).
However, even prior to that we must calculate with the insertion of an intercalary month in re-
action to natural events (harvest, rain, flooding) that were out of phase with the cultic calendar,
see Cohen (1993: 5-6). Against this background, the equation of Mesopotamian months with
ours is of course. only relative.

' I
;I !
. I i
Greece: festival in midsummer; possibly also a spring fest-
one of possibly two festivals is known: the celebration of
Melqart' s "awakening" at the end of winter. The Pyrgi in-
scription may be taken to refer to a celebration of
Melqart's burial during high summer.
a series of connected festivals in the month of Khoiak (De-
Finally, a few words should be said about ancient Israel and early Chris-
tianity. A proper discussion of these issues would require separate
monographs. YHWH has sometimes been taken to be a dying and rising
god. Jesus has been discussed by modern scholars in the light of the data
for these gods.
First YHWH. I have argued elsewhere that important elements of the
symbolical language utilized by early Israel for YHWH are otherwise
known from the context of West Semitic weather gods (the Baal type).
As far as I can see, the Hebrew Bible offers no evidence that YHWH was
a dying and rising god.
In this respect, "canonical" YHWH offers a
striking contrast to Canaanite Baal. At the same time, it should be noted
that weather gods are not, as such, gods who die and rise. Baal seems to
be exceptional. Lacking this characteristic, YHWH is simply similar to
other Northwest Semitic deities.
Finally, there is the resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament.
Dying and rising gods were known in Palestine in New Testament
times. There are references to a Baal type of deity; note the mourning
for Hadad-rimmon (Zech 12: 11). Adonis seems to figure as "the one be-
loved by women" in Daniel (Dan 11:37; cf. Ezek 8:14). The Melqart-
Heracles cult at Tyre with the annual celebration of the "awakening" of
the god was hardly an unknown phenomenon. Moreover, Jesus re-
portedly visited the area ofTyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24-30; Matt 15:21-
The question that thus presents itself is what the ultimate results
would be of a study of the New Testament material on the resurrection
of Jesus in the light of our investigation of the dying and rising deities
of the ancient Near Eastern world. Such deities were obviously known
See Mettinger (1990: esp. pp. 409-413 with references).
See Mettinger (1988: Chap. 5). Note also Kreuzer (1983) and Hvidberg (1962: esp. p. 136).
Note the interesting observations by Jeppesen on Hosea's presentation of the Bethel cult,
Jeppesen ( 1996): the calf image in Hos 10:5 is a YHWH symbol that represents a deity abducted
to the Netherworld and who is therefore mourned by the people.

. of
gi in-

. ng
, he
r as
t to
<... to
'! lt.

: e-


in Palestine in New Testament times. That study cannot be undertaken
here, but I would like to call attention to the following points .
(l)The figures we have studied are deities. In the case of Jesus, we
are confronted with a human (for whom divinity was claimed by him-
self and by his followers). For the disciples and for Paul, the resurrec-
tion of Jesus was a one-time, historical event that took place at one
specific point in the earth's topography. The empty tomb was seen as a
historical datum.
(2) The dying and rising gods were closely related to the seasonal
cycle. Their death and return were seen as reflected in the changes of
plant life. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a one-time event, not
repeated, and unrelated to seasonal changes .
(3) The death of Jesus is presented in the sources as vicarious suffer-
ing, as an act of atonement for sins. The myth ofDumuzi has an arrange-
ment with bilocation and substitution, but there is no evidence for the
death of the dying and rising gods as vicarious suffering for sins.
There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death
and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the
myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world.
While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection
belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique 1
character in the history of religions. The riddle remains.
The fact that elements related to dying and rising gods-termino-
logy, mythemes, rites--could be utilized post eventu by early Christians
to describe the fact and import of the death and resurrection of their
master is a different matter. I am here thinking of the mytheme of the
descensus to the Netherworld, which does not appear in the New Testa-
ment until 1 Peter 3:18-22; 4:6,
and of the use of "converted Adonis
gardens", the nenneri, in the Easter celebrations of the early Church in
the Mediterranean world (see above Chap. IV.3.5). The notion that the
resurrection occurred "on the third day" is difficult to derive from a
fixed pre-Christian concept of a triduum. As we have seen, the evidence
for such a concept is still too scanty for any conclusions (see Chap.
For a recentAuseinandersetzung over the empty tomb, see S.T. Davis (1993: 77-100) and AJ.
Collins (1993: 107-140). Collins fails to convince me that the empty tomb was Mark's inven-
tion. See the valid points made by Davis. For a basic orientation about the resurrection of Jesus
in the NT, see Lehmann (1968). I owe this reference to Birger Gerhardsson (p.c).
Though Rom 10:7 might contain an allusion of earlier date.-On the notion of descent to the
Netherworld in Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic and in the Early Church. see Bauckham
(ABD 2: 154-158, with references). The Christian use of the motif should probably be studied
primarily against the Jewish background.
~ ''
Our overall project, the study of the dying and rising gods of the an-
cient Near Eastern world, has been a contribution to the basic goal of all
historical study: to widen the realm of what we know about the past of
humanity. Even so, we have constantly been reminded of the limits of
our knowledge, of the necessity of exercising the virtue of ars nescien-
the an-
: f all
r st of
nits of
Abbreviations. Technical Remarks
An Or
Anchor Bible Dictionary
Atti del I Congresso Internazionale di Studi Fenici e Punici, Roma
1979. 3 vols. Rome, 1983
Atti del II Congresso Internazionale di Studi Fenici e Punici, Roma
1987. Rome, 1991
Ancient Egyptian literature. M. Lichtheim. 3 vols. Berkeley 1975-1980
Archiv fiir Orientforschung
Abhandlungen zur Literatur Alt-Syrien-Pali:istinas und Mesopotamiens
Arbeiten zur Literatur und Geschichte des hellenistischen Judentums
Analecta orientalia
Alter Orient und Altes Testament
Archiv fiir Religionswissenschaft
Archives royales de Marl
An anthology of religious texts from Ugarit. J.C. de Moor. Leiden 1987
Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments
Biblical Archaeologist
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
Bonner Biblischer Beitri:ige
Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium
Biblischer Kommentar
Bibliotheca orienta/is
Beitri:ige zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament
Biblische Zeitschrift
The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of
Chicago. 1956-
Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series
Collecci6n estudios orientales
Corpus inscriptionum semiticarum
Coniectanea biblica: Old Testament Series
The Context of Scripture. W.W. Rallo and K.L. Younger, Jr., eds.
Leiden 1997-
Comptes rendus de l'Academie des inscriptions et belles-lettres
Compte rendu de la ... rencontre assyriologique intemationale
Cuneiform texts from Babylonian tablets, etc., in the British Museum.
London. 1896-
Dansk Teologisk Tidsskrift
Dictionnaire de Ia civilisation phenicienne et punique. Turnhout 1992
Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible. K. van der Toom,
B. Becking, P.W. van der Horst, eds. Leiden 1995
Dictionary of the North- West Semitic inscriptions. J. Hoftijzer and K.
Jongeling. 2 vols. Leiden, 1995
El-Amama tablets, according to the edition of J.A. Knudtzon Die 1-
Amurna-Tafeln. Leipzig, 1908-1915. Reprint, Aalen, 1964
Etudes preliminaires aux religions orientales dans !'empire Romain
The encyclopedia of religion. Edited by M. Eliade. 16 vols. New York,
Erman -- Grapow, Worterbuch: Warterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache. A. Erman - H.
Grapow. 5 vols. Leipzig 1926-1931
Forschungen zum Alten Testament
Forschungen und Fortschritte
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar. Edited by E. Kautzsch. Translated by
A.E. Cowley. 2d. ed. Oxford, 1910
Handbuch der Orientalistik
Handbuch religionswissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. H. Cancik et al.,
eds. Stuttgart 1988-
Harvard Semitic Monographs
Harvard Semitic Studies
Harvard Theological Review
Hebrew Union College Annual
Israel Exploration ]aural
Inscriptions grecques et latines de Ia Syrie. Paris 1929-
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Journal of Cuneiform Studies
Journal of Hellenic Studies
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of Semitic Studies
Kanaaniiische und aramiiische lnschriften. H. Donner and W. Rollig.
Fourth edition. Wiesbaden 1979
Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religiOsen Inhalts. Edited by E. Ebeling.
Leipzig, 1919-1923
The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other
Places (KTU: second, enlarged edition). M. Dietrich - 0. Loretz -
J. Sanmartin, eds. Miinster 1995. Sometimes referred to by other schol-
ars as CAT or as KTU
Lexikon der Agyptologie
Litteratures anciennes du Proche Orient
Loeb Classical Library
Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae. Ed. by H.C. Acker-
man and J.-R. Gisler. 8 vols. Ziirich 1981-1997
Texts from Larnaka tes Lapetou (Cyprus): LL I= KAI no. 42, LL II=
KAI no. 43, LL Ill= Honeyman (1938)
Liddell, H.G., R. Scott, H.S. Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed.
with revised supplement. Oxford. 1996
MARl: Annales recherches interdisciplinaires. Paris
Mitteilungen des Instituts for Orientforschung
)ie El-
L -H.
eu by
~ t y
' ::>1-
h ed.
Melanges de l'Universite Saint-Joseph
Nouvelles assyriologiques breves et utilitaires
The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy
Land. Ed. by E. Stem et al. 4 vols. Jerusalem 1993
Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta
Orientalistische Literaturzeitung
Patro1ogia graeca (= Patrologiae cursus completus: Series graeca).
Edited by J.-P. Migne. 162 vols. Paris 1857-1886
Patrologia latina (= Patrologiae cursus completus: Series latina).
Edited by J.-P. Migne. 217 vols. Paris 1844-1864
personal name
Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissen-
Revue d'assyriologie et d'archeologie orientale
Rencontre Assyriologique lntemationale
Reallexikon der iigyptischen Religionsgeschichte. H. Bonnet, Berlin
Revue biblique
Revue d'egyptologie
Repertoire d 'epigraphie semitique
Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. K. Galling, ed. 7 vols. Tiibin-
gen 1957-1965
Revue hittite et asianique
Revue de l'histoire des religions
Reallexikon der Assyriologie
Rivista di studi fenici
Rivista degli studi orientali
Religious texts from U garit. N. Wyatt, Sheffield 1998
State Archives of Assyria
Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok
Studi epigrajici e linguistici sui Vicino Oriente antico, Verona
Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis
Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament
The seasonal pattern ... See de Moor (1971)
Studia phoenicia
Textes cuneiformes. Musee de Louvre
Theologische Zeitschrift
Theologische Realenzyklopadie. Ed. by G. Krause and G. Miiller.
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U garitisch-biblische Literatur
VIS up
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Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. Ed. by S.B. Parker. Atlanta, 1997
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Die Welt des Orients
Wiener Zeitschrift fiir die Kunde des Morgen/andes
Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie
Zeitschrift fiir Agyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde
Zeitschrift fiir die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Zeitschrift des Deutschen Paliistina- Vereins
Brackets have been used as follows:
( ] restoration of the text or explanatory addition.
[ ..... ] damaged or unintelligible passage.
< > later glosses, etc., to be deleted from the text.
(without brackets) to indicate that part of the quotation has been left
1 ?ren
~ left
1. Sources
Note that the following sources are divided in two categories: those referred to by
abbreviation or name only, and those referred to by name and year. Translations of
source material, whether in anthologies or in monographic works have been placed
under Sources.
al- Bfriinf, see Sachau.
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L ..... et
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232), pp. 481-98. Kevelaer and Neukirchen-Vluyn.
1994. "Pantheon e culto a Biblo. Aspetti e problemi." In E. Acquaro eta!., eds.,
1994: 195-214. Rome.
1995a. "La religione fenicia: parametri cronologici e tipologia storica." In Anon-
ymous, ed., 1995: 139-49. Rome.
1995b. "Ugarit et les pheniciens: Identite culturelle et rapports historiques." In
M. Dietrich and 0. Loretz, eds., 1995: 239-266. MUnster.
See also under Pomponio, Ribichini and Scandone respectively.
Yamauchi, E.M. 1965. "Tammuz and the Bible." JBL 84: 283-90.
1966. "Additional notes on Tammuz." ISS 11: 10-15.
Yon, M. 1988. "$i)rmt, la chaleur de Mot." UF 21:462-466.
Zadok, R. 1977-78. "Historical and onomastic notes." WO 9: 35-56.
Ziegler, N., and N. Wasserman. 1994. "Qatum baJtum--a check-list." NABU 1994:
2, no. 29.
Zimmerli, W. 1969. Ezechiel (BK 13:1). Neukirchen-Vluyn.
Zimmem, H. 1909. "Der babylonische Gott Tamuz." In Abh. der konigl. Siichsischen
Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften 57, Phil.-hist. Kl. 27), pp. 699-738. Leipzig.
1918. Zum babylonischen Neujahrsfest. Zweiter Beitrag (Berichte tiber die Ver-
handlungen der Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Phil.-
hist. Klasse 70:5). Leipzig.
Addition to the proofs:
Fritz, M. fc. 2002. Die Gotter Dumuzi-Ama-ushumgal-anna und Damu. Ph.D.-diss.
Jena. Unpublished. Not seen. Forthcoming in 2002 (p.c. from the author).
Ribichini, S., M. Rocchi, and P. Xella, eds. 2001. La questione delle injluenze vicino-
orientali sulfa religione greca. Atti del Colloquia Intemazionale, Roma 20-22
maggio 1999. Rome. I
Smith, M.S. 2001. The origins of Biblical monotheism: Israel's polytheistic back-
ground and the Ugaritic texts. Oxford.
List of Illustrations
3.1. The vase from Sidon. Reportedly found in the vicinity of Sidon. Kept in the Berlin
Museum (VA 569) but now lost. Drawings from Pietschmann (1889: 225). Photographs
of the item are found in Barnett (1969: pl. IV), Delcor (1976: 69ff), and Bonnet (1988:
pl. I, fig. 1).
4.1. Praenestine mirror, found at Orbetello. The coffin, supposedly containing young
Adonis, watched by Venus, Jupiter, and Proserpine-Persephone. Louvre 1728. Here re-
produced after D. Emmanuel-Rebuffat (1997: fig. 7). Courtesy: L'Errna di Bretschnei-
6.1. Mummy of Osiris with sprouting corn. Bas-relief from the roof temple of Philae.
Here reproduced from Budge (1911: vol. 1: 58).
6.2-4. Osiris' resurrection, depicted on reliefs from the Osiris temple at Dendara. Ori-
ginally published by Mariette (1870, vol. 4: pl. 90). Reproduced by me after Podemann
~ r e n s e n (2001: 117, figs. 4-6).
Ancient Near Eastern Sources (including the Bible)
1.1. Biblical Sources
10: 35
93,94, 214
10: 5
2: 1
3: 10
1 Samuel
1: 5
17: 26
1 Kings
12: 11
18: 27
49: 8-10, 16
2 Kings
19:4, 16
88: 11
23: 12
14: 12
15: 3
17: 10-11
26: 14, 19
59: 10
I 1: 37
2 Maccabees
4: 18-20
48: 38
48: 5
8: 7-14
8: 14
28: 18
16: 21
20: 19
7: 24-30 220 17: 31-32 45
13: 32 214n. 10:7
24: 21. 46 214n.
I Corinthians
15: 35-49
2: 19-22 89 15: 4
11:37,39 214n.
12: 24 148 I Peter
3: 18-22
1.2. Other Ancient Near Eastern Sources
Adapa and the South Wind 143n., 196 84: 33 126, 138, 148, 150
Amman Inscription (Maphtan) 90 84: 37 176n.
IX,175 200, 201n. 129: 49-51 70n., 139, 148, 150
XII, 437 201n. 132: 53-55 138
XXV, 171: 14-15 202n. 139: 8
Astrolabium B 147 357:4-5 186
Book of the Dead
EmarVI, 3
142 170 370: 41ff. 128n.
168 169 385-388 65n.
385:5 215n.
46 175 385:21
105n. 385: 23 107n.
227 92n. 388: 57 107n.
260-262 92n. 446:47-57 147
377 92n. 452:21
3351-3352 92n. Enlil and Ninlil 189, 191
3788 92n. En-Nedim, text I, Chap. 5 4 202n.
3921 94 Gi1gamesh
4863-4872 92n. VI: 46-47 199
5903 92n. IX: 37-45 61
5950 92n. X:91, 155,156,185 101
5953 92n. Inanna's Descent 24, 150, 187ff.
5979-5980 92n. Ishtar's Descent 24, 25, 190ff.
5980:2 91, 94n. 11. 127-138 (Nineveh
Coffin Texts II, 95e 170n. version) 192ff.
Contendings of Horus and Seth 170n. KAI
Dramatic Ramesseum 4
Papyrus, 1. 31 170 4:3-4 140n.
Dumuzi's Dream, 1. 206 198 13: 8 73
14 160
84 137ff., 203, 210, 212 14:8 73
155, 156 1.5- 1.6
126 1.5.II: 3-6
126 1.5.V: 5-17
93n., 105n. 1.5.V: 6-8
43 See also under Larnax tes 1.5.V: 17ff.
35, 58, 61n.
Lapethou, LL no. 2
1.5.VI- 1.6.I
44:2 95n. 1.5.VI- 1.6.!: 8
47 126, 180 1.5.VI: 3-10
63 126 1.5. VI: 9-10
126 1.5.VI: 10
66 126, 161, 162 1.6.!: 7-9
70 91, 92n. 1.6.!: 8-31
77 94 1.6.!: 15-31
77: I
95 1.6.!: 32-67
81:1 208n. 1.6.!: 41-43
90 91, 92n. 1.6.II: 6-9
93 91, 92n. 1.6.II: 13-23
93:4 95n. 1.6.II: 24-25
99 126 1.6.II: 30-35
117: 1 73 1.6.III - IV: 24
159 105n. 1.6.III
161: 4 92 1.6.III: 2-3
162: 1 144n. 1.6.III: 8-9
63, 74n.
202 A: lines 3, 13-14 93n. 1.6.III: 20-21
63, 74n.
214: 2-3 93n. 1.6.IV: 1-3
215:2 93n. 1.6.IV: 5
277 38, 96, 103ff., 105n., 1.6.IV: 12-14
108, 114n., 211, 220 1.6.IV: 16
KAR 143 23 1.6.V
KBo XXXII, 13 (Hurrian-Hittite 1.6.V: 8-9
58, 59n.
bilingual) 79 1.6.VI: 16-22
Kition III 160n., 162n, 164n. 1.6.VI: 42-53
1.6.VI: 58
1.2.!: 17 l25n. 1.12
1.2.!: 34 125 1.12. II: 44-45
1.3.!: 3-4 74n. 1.16.!:22
1.3 .III: 31-32 56n. 1.16.II: 43
1.3.V: 9 125 1.17.VI: 26-33
1.3.V: 17-18 60 1.19.IV: 63
1.4.V: 6-7 59 f. 1.22.!: 8
1.4.V: 41-42 56n. 1.41: 44-45
1.4.V:42 56n. 1.47:20,25
1.4.VII: 39 85n. 1.78
1.4.VII: 42- 1.6.VI 57 1.87: 48-50
1.4.VII: 42ff. 57 1.92: 2
1.4.VII: 49-52 57 1.100
1.4.VIII: 21-24 60 1.100:20
1.4.VIII: 47-48 56n. 1.108
1.118: 19.24
Ll61: 20-23
Ll64: 3-9
73, 127
38f., 63, 64ff., 73, 75
Lamax tes Lapethou (abbrev. LL)
2 (KAI no. 43) 93n., 105
3 (Honeyman 1938) 91, 93n., 94n.,
103n., 105, 180
London Medical Papyrus,
nos. 28 and 33 162
A. 512:7-15
A. 1146
A. 3165
Nergal and Ereshkigal
Ningishzida's Descent
Pyramid Texts
15ln., 201,206
45, 186, 194
145, 148
2. Greek and Roman Sources
Ammianus Marcellinus
XXII, 9, 15 113n., 117n., 131
Antoninus Liberalis,
Metam. no. 34
Apollodorus, The Library
III, 14, 4 118n., 127n., 210n.
Apuleius, Metam. XI, 23 117n.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata
Arrian, Anabasis Alex. II, 24, 5
Athanaeus, Deipnosoph. IX,
392d-e 86n., 106n.
Bion, Lament for Adonis,
Catullus, Poem LXIII
Cyril of Alexandria,
In Isaiam 18:1-2
114, 150n.
State Archives of Assyria (abbrev.
2, no. 2, VI: 22
2, no. 5, IV: 14ff.
3,no. 32
3,no. 38
3, no. 38: rev. 3-19
3, no. 38: rev. 6-17
3, no. 38: rev. 6-7
3, no. 39: obv. 1-18
10, no. 19
Sumerian King List
TCL 15,8
TSSI (Gibson)
3, no. 6: 3-4
3,no. 36
3,no. 39
Tyre, Stele TT 9l.S2
Umammu's Death
Damascius, Vita Isid.
131 (Zintzen)
160. 16ln.
85n., 160, 16ln.
200n., 202n.
93n., 105
103ff., 114n.
De Dea Syria
84n., 18ln.
19, 179
131ff., 148, 178n., 211
Diodorus Siculus
XIII, 108,4
XX, 14,2
Dioskurides Pedanius, De materia
medica IV, 70 162n.
Eudoxus of Cnidus 86
Firmicus Matemus, De errore
prof. rei.
134n., 157
Herodotus I, 10,27
I, 199
135 1,10,31
II, 44
84, 181n. I, 10, 38
II, 144 180n. Philostratus, Vita Apollon. Tyan.
II, 156 180 V,4
Hesiod V,5 84n., 181n.
Carmina, Fragm. 32 (Rzach) 127n. VII, 32 146
' ;!
Shield of Heracles, 42-56 18ln. Plato, Phaedrus, 276 B 118n.
Theogony,530 181n. Plutarch,
Theogony, 775-806 114n. Alchibiades XVIII, 2-3 117n.
Homeric Hymn to De !side et Osiride 168
l )
Demeter 119n., 151, 176 De !side 356C ( 13)
Jerome De !side 3578 ( 15)
Ep. 58,3 125n., 130 De !side 366F ( 39) 215n.
Explan. in Ezech. III, 8, 14 129 De !side 3718 ( 49)
Josephus De !side 375A-D ( 15-16)
Ant. VIII, 5, 3 (144-146) 88ff., 108 De !side 376D ( 41)
Contra Apionem I, 116-119 89 Nicias XIII, 7
Livy XXII, 1, 10 104n. Polybius
Lucian, Pseudo Lucian, VII, 9, 2
see De Dea Syria XXXI, 12
Macrobius, Saturn. I, 21, 10 158 Pomponius Mela
Menandros, Sarnia, 35-50 127n. Ill,46 86n., 107n., 18ln.
Nonnos, Dionys. Porphyry, De Abst. IV, 9
XL 87 Pseudo-Clem. Recogn. X, 24
XL, 411-422 102n. Sappho, Frag. 140a (LP)/152 I
- ~
XL, 469-492 102n. (Reinach)
Origen, Selecta in Ezech. Scholia in Theocritum
to 8:12 113n., 129 lll,48 13ln.
Ovid, Metam. XV, 102
X, 215 116n. Silicus lta1icus, Punica III, 32-44
X, 708ff. 118n. Sophocles, Thrachin. 119ff.
X, 725-739 127n. Stephan us of Byzantium 176n.
X, 725-727 116n. Strabo
Papyri Graecae magicae (Preisendanz) XVI, 2, 7
86n., 95n.
IV, 336-339 121n. XVI, 2, 19
IV, 2900-2907 121n., l50n. Suda 118n., 124n.
Papyri Petrie 3, no. 142 122,209 Tertullian, Apol. XV, 5
Pausanias Theocritus, Idyll XV 19, 21, 28, 33,
VII, 17, 10-12 157 114n., 122, 150n., 178,209
XI, 41, 2-3 125n. Zenobius, Cent.
Pedanius Dioskurides, see Dioskurides I, 49 118n., 122n.
Philo Byblius, Eusebius, Praep. Ev. V,56 86n., 93, 106n.
3. Oriental, Greek, and Latin Words
bakkltu(m) 200
mtrb <stmy 95f.
beltu sa gubla
<bd'sr 175
eJO(m) 24, 189, 192
b<J r ~ 74
191 dmm
204 byy/bwy
45,119,200 knkn
191 mdl
194 m!
201 mt
n<mn 70, 125f.
taklimtu(m) 25, 123, 193, 195,209
<dn 60
201,217 rpu
rpu mlk <Jm 76
64ff., 73, 161
Nahr Nu<mein 127 Adiinf-ib 'a 136
Na<miin 127 'dn
125, 137, 140f.
]59 'dny
saqii'iq an-Nu<miin 127
GAM-Mil-qar-te 97
169 smn
171 ' AowvLaO!!O<:;" 116
ij- <-y-t-3-w 145
aim"AOOJVLV 116
aval; 1t'Up6<:;
87, 102
201 OELKt'llpwv
94 ycpocL'tT]<:;"
37,88, 89,217
'mt<strt 175 YJf.l.L8W<:;
96, 103 'LaA!!0<:;"
162 omoA.oyia 86
'smn mlqrt
160 =pLaA.w'to<:;
'st 'lm
b(l kr 101 LATIN
b<J mrp' 163 catabasis 158
b(l gbl 140, 177 curator fani 92
105, 108 ritu veteri 117
mqm 'lm
37, 71, 88ff., 180, 185, 217 ritu vetusto 117
sacerdos Adonis
4. General Index
Adonea fragment
29, 30, 116ff.
16, 17ff., 26ff., 40, 68,
113ff., 209, 215, 218
Adonis, the name
Adonis cult, geographical
12lff., 176, 177
anch sign
anchor, symbol of hope
A pis
Arad stele
Ash tart
102, 155ff., 160, 161
96, 104, 156, 206, 211
Astronoe 155
Attis 27, 157f.
awakening of Melqart-Heracles 88ff.
Baal 33, 34ff., 85, 86, 144,
161, 164, 207ff., 218
Baal Hamon
Baal-Mot myth
barley, roasting of
125, 130
119, 150, 152, 178, 179,
bones of Hercules
bones of Melqart
118, 130
bridegroom, Asthtartean
burial, of the god
113ff., 125, 137ff.,
151, 177,210
91, 107
Christ, see also under Jesus
Christian writers
chthonic features
20, 147
121, 179
com mummies 169ff., 1 77
cow-and-calf metaphor 208
cremation 84, 87, 111, 133,219
cult of Adonis,
geographical distribution
cult of Melqart,
geographical distribution 108
Cyprus 91, 104, 107, 160, 175, 181
Damascius 155ff.
Damu 137ff., 14lff., 186, 196,
death of the god
death, hymns in honour of
Demeter-Persephone myth
169, 172
42,51,64,66, 74,80, Ill,
158, 186, 187ff., 209, 218
discourse, fabula/story
Djed pillar
Dog days
Dog Star
drought formula 60 Isis 178, 179
drowning, of Osiris 178 Jerome 128ff.
Dumuzi 21, 23ff., 142, 185ff., 218 Jesus 20, 220f.
Dura Europos 125 Jesus, see also Christ
dying gods 16 Josephus 88ff.
Easter 20,147,221 Kabeiri 156
Ebla 163 Khoiak 169,220
Egypt 121ff., 167ff. killing of Dumuzi 201f.
Elkunirsha 72 king, kingship, defunct kings 18,26,
Emar 206 32, 38, 64ff., 73, 178
equinox 34 Kition 102, 160
Ereshkigal 79 Kore 119
Erichthonios 118 Kouri on 121, 179, 210
Eshmun 98ff., 102, 155ff., 215 Kutha 190,191,202
essentialism 49 ladders, in Adonis iconography 127
euhemerismus 18 Lady of Byblos 138,177,211
festivals 219 Laodicea 125, 146
Gades 86, 87 Lamaka tes Lapethou 104f.
gardens, of Adonis 18, 26f., 33, 35, Lebanon 124f.
117f., 146f., 177, 181,221 Levant 124ff.
gardens, of Osiris 169 libation 67
genre 46 "living God" 21,41, 70,144,210
Gilgamesh 205 lotus 98
Gizzida 143 Maasai 46
goddess 43 Malta 181
Greece 44, 115, 116ff., 149, 210 Marduk 23,40
Hath or 176f. Mari 200ff.
healing 161 mater-dolorosa motif 208
Heracles 83ff., 97, 181 meaning 48f.
Heracles, the Egyptian 181 Megiddo 205
Heracles, the Theban (Greek) 181 Melqart 27, 37, 83ff., 180f.,
heroization 73,97,160 211,215,218
heros 31, 76, 84, 114, 116ff., Melqart stele 97
121, 149, 150, 152, 160, 181 Mot 68,207
Hi era polis 158 mourning, mourning
hieros gamos 96,103,196,199,205 rites 62,116,133,193,208
Hilaria 27, 158, 159 myth 46, 49, 50ff., 118ff.,
Hiram 89 167f., 187ff.
Hittite religion 77ff. myth, the concept 50ff.
Horus 178 mytheme 50f.
hunting 156 narrative, narrative form 167f.
hymns, in honour of death 107 Negaw, god of 145
iconography 97ff., 119f., 127, Nemanous 126
171, 173f. nenneri 147,221
intertextuality 50 Neper, Nepri 205
Iolaus 86,93,161 Nergal 84, 175
Ishkur 79,207 Ningishzida 143,203
Ishtaran 96, 196 Ninkur 215

1 l
2 )
) .. -




Netherworld 45f., 64, 72ff., 113f.,
172, 174, 178
New Year festival, Babylonian 23
New Year festival, Ugaritic 68
Numan 127
Oeta, Mt. 86
official vs. popular religion 199, 202
onomastics, see personal names
Origen 128ff.
170 Orion
Osiris N
33, 86, 124, 167ff., 215, 218
Osiris, in personal names 17 4
Panyassis 118
paramythological texts, Ugarit 56
Persephone 118
personal names 206
-Adonis in 136
- Me1qart in 97
-Osiris in 175
Pishaisha 79
Pluto 144
Punic, vs. Phoenician
Pyrgi inscription
86, 99, 111
38, 96, 103ff., 105n.,
108, 114n., 211,220
quails 86, 93, 102
raise-yourselflitanies, Egyptian 169
Ramleh 91
recital 56
relics of Melqart 107
relics of Osiris 181
resurrection, the term
- Christian r. faith
36 - Israelite r. faith
Rhodos 91, 107
47ff., 66ff., 88ff., 106ff.,
116ff., 127f., 168, 177,
190, 192, 199,219
rite/ritual, the concept 47ff.
ritual journeys: see statues
roof, as location of
sacral activities
sacred marriage, see hieros gamos
sarcophagi, Roman 119
search, goddess's for lost husband 199
season, seasonal connection 34,42,
serpent symbolism
Shiur Qomah
59ff., 67ff., 106ff.,
190, 197,203,221
86, 180
63, 75
97ff., 155ff.
Sidon vase, see vase from Sidon
Sirius 116, 170
sociology of knowledge 52
solstice 34
Sothis 170
statue, ritual journey of 190, 202
storm gods 78, 79, 85, 207, 218
substitute, substitution 24, 191, 192,
symbolic universes
- Damu-Dumuzi
- Melqart-Eshmun
- Osiris-Melqart
throne, of Astarte of Byblos
52f., 11}
103, 160
Tammuz, see Dumuzi
Telepinu 38, 55, 61, 76ff.
-of Adonis 134f.
-ofEshmun 159
221 -of Jesus
trial sowing
102, 123, 135, 214ff., 221
86, 180
83ff., 180, 181,220
27, 55ff.
vanishing gods
vase from Sidon
16, 76ff.
97ff., 108, 215
weather gods, see storm gods
149, 199
5. Author Index. Selective
Abel, F.
Abusch, T.
Ackerman, R
Afanasieva, V. 188
Alster, B. 8, 25, 143, 185, 188, 195,
Amann, A.-M.
Amiet, P.
Amiran, R.
Anderson, G.A.
Assmann, A. and J.
8, 100
Assmann, J.
Atallah, W.
Baines, J.
Barnett, R.D.
51, 168ff., 172
29, 113, 116, 122, 123
Barre, M.L. 214
Barstad, H.M. 16, 55, 80
Bartha, W. 47
Bauckham, R. 221
Baudissin, W. Graf 20ff., 116, 155,
156, 157, 160, 161, 175, 215
Baudy, G.J. 33, 118, 146f.
Baumgartner, W. 147
Beinlich, H. 168ff., 171, 181
Bell, C. 47ff.
Benichou-Safar, H. 45, 97
Berger, P.L., and T. Luckmann 52
Bemdes, L. 8, 114, 118, 136
Beskow, P. 8
Bilde, P. 8
Black, J.A. 23
Blomqvist, J. 8, 44, 126, 158
Bonnet, C. 8, 43, 73, 83, 88, 90, 92, 98,
Borger, R.
Bordreuil, P.
Brown, M.L.
Buccellati, G.
Burkard, G.
Burkert, W.
162, 205, 208, 211
30f., 44., 50, 114,
Byrskog, A.
Cagni, L.
Carstens, P.
Cassin, E.
Chassinat, E.
Chwolsohn, D.
Clermont-Ganneau, C.
168, 169, 170
Colpe, C.
Cohen, M.E.
Cooper, J.
Cross, F.M.
Cumont, F. 116, 157
Dalley, S. 44, 85
Day, J. 85, 214
Del Olmo Lete, G. 39f., 45, 56, 73
Detienne, M. 29f., 117
Dick, M.B. 8, 193
Dietrich, M., and 0. Loretz 45, 67, 95
Dijkstra, M. 8, 62, 79, 199
Dijkstra, M., and J.C. de Moor 68, 71
Dirven, L. 131 f.
Dochhom, J. 135
Dunand, M 156, 177
Durand, J.M., and M. Guichard 200
Edsman, C.-M. 86,87
Edzard, D.O. 143
Ehnmark, E. 114
Eissfeldt, 0. 20
Ekroth, G. 114
Emmanuel-Rebuffat, D. 119
Engnell,I. 26
Evers, J.D. 187
Falkenstein,A. 187, 189, 198
Finnestad, R. B. 174
Heming, D.E. 8, 42, 128, 139, 147,
Frankfort, H. 168, 169, 170, 175
Frazer, J.G. 15ff., 32, 37, 70, 83,
147, 172,219
Fritz, M. 142, 186
Fronzaroli, P. 207 Kraus, F.R. 24
Garbini, G. 97, 98, 103f. Kreitzer, L.J. !58
Gardiner, A. 172 Kreuzer, S. 41, 220
Gasparro, G.S. 158 Kutscher, R. 185, 199
Gaster, T.H. 34,48,59 Laesse, J. 192, 193
George, A.R. 190 Lambert, W.G. 85, 195f.
Gerhardsson, B. 8,221 Lambrechts, P. 27, 133, 158
Gerho1m, T. 47ff. Langdon, S. 23
Gese, H. 73 Lehmann, F. 221
Gibson, J.C.L. 35,36,59,62 Lemaire, A. 175
G1otz, G. 122f. Levine, B.A. 64f.
Goedicke, G. 145 Lewis, T.J. 45, 64f., 75
Gortz-Wrisberg, I. 9 Lightfoot, J. 132
! '
Gonnet, H. 77 Lindstrom, F. 9
Gradwohl, R. 214 Lipinski, E. 33, 83, 87, 88, 97, 98ff.,
Greenfield, J. 91 136, 144, 146, 159, 162, 166, 208
~ 1 0
Gressmann, H. 175 Livingstone. A. 202
Griffiths, J.G. 168ff., 176 Loretz, 0. 57,60,62,205
Gruber, M.I. 62, 133 Mannhardt, W. 19, 115
Gullstrand, R. 159 Marcus, D. 69f.
Gurney, O.R. 23ff., 185 Marcus, R. 89
Haas, V. 77 Marello, P. 201
Healey, J.F. 58 Masson, E. 78,80
Helck, W. 168, 172, 175 Mettinger, T. 41,50,53, 84,98,220
Hermeren, G. 209 Mitford, T.B.
Herr, B. 76,80 Modeus, M. 47ff.
Herrmann, S. 168, 176 Montet, P. 145
Hidal, S. 9, 130 Moor, J .C. de 8,35,56,57,58,59,
Hjlirpe, J. 8,202 61,62, 70, 71, 74, 75,156
Hoffner, H.A. 77 Moortgat, A. 23
Hoftijzer, J., and K. Jongeling 92 Moran, W.L. 137ff.
Honeyman, A.M. 92, 95 Mi.iller, H.-P. 17, 83ff., 88, 92ff., 96
Horowitz, W. 62,63,186 Na'aman, N. 128, 138
Hubert, H., and M. Mauss 49 Niehr, H. 45,56, 73
Husser, J.-M. 75 Nilsson, M.P. 42, 87
Hutter, M. 51, 186 Notscher, F. 22, 157, 214f.
Hvidberg, F.F. 220 Norin, S.I.L. 9
Jacobsen, T. 25, 185, 186 Nykvist, A. 187
Jeppesen, K. 220 Oberhuber, K. 185
Kammerer, T.R. 205 Oden, R.A. 132
Katz, D. 205 Olsson, T. 8, 46ff.
Kellermann, G. 78 Pardee, D. 45,56,60,61,65, 208
Kilmer, A.D. 101 Parker, S.B. 77
Kirk, G.S. 188 Parpola, S. 190, 194, 197,201
Knoppers, G.N. 103f. Paul, S.M. 186
Koch, K. 8, 168, 169, 174 Pedersen, 0. 8
Koortbojian, M. 119 Penglase, C. 210
Kramer, S.N. 24, 185, 189, 208 Peter, H. 8
Petersen, D.L, and M. Woodward 51 Starr, J. 9
Picard, G. 97 Stein, H. 9
Pietschmann, R. 98 Steiner, R.C. 163
Pitard, W.T. 61 Stieglitz, R.R. 103, 105
Podella, T. 62 Stol,M. 123, 195
Podemann Srensen, J. 8, 47, 134, Stolz, F. 50
157, 168, 172, 181 Sulze, H. 146
Potscher, W. 43 Tarragon, J.M. de 55, 64f.
Poole, F.J.P. 53 Taylor, J.G. 64f.
Pomponio, F., and P. Xella 142, 163 Teixidor, J. 73
Popko, M. 77 Thackeray, St.J. 89
Rappaport, R. 47ff. Toom, K. van der 45, 75
Redford, D.B. 145 Troy, L 8, 168
Ribichini, S. 8, 31,44, 73,114,115, Tsukimoto, A. 43,45,185
121, 135, 156, 175, 179 Vanden Berghe, L 24
Richter, T. 142, 186 Vaux, 7, 15,26,40,95, 175,177
Robertson, N. 116, 133 Verbanck-Pierard, A. 84
Rollig, w. 94,96 Vermaseren, M.J. 157, 158
Romer, W.H.Ph. 188 Vemant, J.-P. 43
Ronzevalle, P.S. 208 Vollgraff, W. 122,209
Roux, G. 133 Wagner, G. 27
Sallberger, W. 200 Walls, N.H. 206
Sand, E.R. 49 Waterston, A. 36
Sasson, J.M. 8,198,200,201 Watson, P.L. 58
Scandone, G. 177 Weill, N. 127
Scandone Matthiae, G. 145, 175, 179 West, D.R. 44
Scharbert, J. 22 West, M.L. 44
Scharff, A. 170 Widengren, G. 26
Schmidt, B.B. 45,63 Wikander, C. 119
Schmidt, W.H. 35 Wikander, 0. 8
Schmitz, P.C. 103f. Wilcke, C. 195, 196
Schretter, M.K. 44 Wild, S. 159
Schroeder, 0. 137f. Will, E. 28, 40, 136
Schwemer, D. 8,55,58,59,206,207 Wiman, I. 119
Scurlock, J.A. 193f. Wright, D.P. 49
Seters, J. van 88 Wyatt, N. 67
Seyrig, H. 84, 135 Xella, P. 8, 43, 44, 73ff., 103,
Sjoberg, A.w. 142 104, 105, 160, 161
Sladek, W.R. 151, 186, 187, Yamauchi, E.M. 25, 185, 193
188, 190, 192 Ziffer, I. 205
Smith, J.Z. 15ff., 40, 55, 76, 80 Zimmem,H. 23, 185
Smith, M.S. 7, 8, 17, 35, 37ff., 42, 43,
55, 60, 64ff., 75, 76, 77, 80, 83,
88, 147, 185, 197,204, 207f., 208
Soden, W.von 192, 193
Soyez, B. 116, 134, 175
Sperber, D. 48
Spronk, K. 45, 75
~ f .
~ f
Present editors Tryggve N.D. Mettinger (Lund) and Stig I.L. Norin (Uppsala)
1. *Albrektson, Bertil, History and the Gods. 1967.
2. Johnson, Bo, Die armenische Bibeliibersetzung als hexaplarischer Zeuge 1m
I. Samuelsbuch. 1968.
3. *Ottosson, Magnus, Gilead. Tradition and History. 1969.
4. * Erlandsson, Seth, The Burden of Babylon. A Study oflsaiah 13:2-14:23. 1970.
5. *Mettinger, Tryggve N.D., Solomonic State Officials. A Study of the Civil Govern-
ment Officials of the Israelite Monarchy. 1971.
6. *Hidal, Sten, Interpretatio syriaca. Die Kommentare des heiligen Ephram des
Syrers zu Genesis und Exodus mit besonderer Beriicksichtigung ihrer auslegungs-
geschichtlichen Stellung. 1974.
7. Tengstrom, Sven, Die Hexateucherzahlung. Eine literargeschichtliche Studie. 1976.
8. Mettinger, Tryggve N.D., King and Messiah. The Civil and Sacral Legitimation of
the Israelite Kings. 1976.
9. Norin, Stig, Er spaltete das Meer. Die Auszugsiiberlieferung in Psalmen und Kult
des A! ten Israel. 1977. I
10. *Hyvdrinen, Kyosti, Die Ubersetzung von Aquila. 1977
11. Kronholm, Tryggve, Motifs from Genesis 1-11 in the Genuine Hymns of Ephrem
the Syrian. 1978.
12. Ljung, Inger, Tradition and Interpretation. A Study of the Use and Application of
Formulaic Language in the so-called Ebed YHWH-psalms. 1978.
13. *Johnson, Bo, Hebraisches Perfekt und Imperfekt mit vorangehendem we. 1979.
14. *Steingrimsson, Sigurdur Orn, Yom Zeichen zur Geschichte. Eine literar- und
formkritische Untersuchung von Ex 6,28-11,10. 1979.
15. *Kalugila, Leonidas, The Wise King. Studies in Royal Wisdom as Divine Revela-
tion in the Old Testament and Its Environment. 1980.
16. Andre, Gunnel, Determining the Destiny. PQD in the Old Testament. 1980.
17. *Tengstrom, Sven, Die Toledotformel und die literarische Struktur der priester-
lichen Erweiterungsschicht im Pentateuch. 1982.
18. Mettinger, Tryggve N.D., The Dethronement of Sabaoth. Studies in the Shem and
Kabod Theologies. 1982.
19. Stromberg Krantz, Eva, Des Schiffes Weg mitten im Meer. Beitrage zur Erfor-
schung der nautischen Terminologie des Alten Testaments. 1982.
20. *Porter, Paul A., Metaphors and Monsters. A Literary-Critical Study of Daniel 7
and 8. 1983.
21. Lindstrom, Fredrik, God and the Origin of Evil. A Contextual Analysis of Alleged
Monistic Evidence in the Old Testament. 1983.
22. Wiklander, Berti!, Prophecy as Literature. A Text-Linguistic and Rhetorical
Approach to Isaiah 2-4. 1984.
23. *Haglund, Erik, Historical Motifs in the Psalms. 1984.
24. Norin, Stig, Sein Name allein ist hoch. Das Jhw-haltige Suffix althebraischer Per-
sonennamen untersucht mit besonderer beriicksichtigung der alttestamentlichen
Redaktionsgeschichte. 1986.
25. Axelsson, Lars Eric, The Lord Rose up from Seir. Studies in the History and Tradi-
tions of the Negev and Southern Judah. 1987.
26. *Jonsson, Gunnlaugur A., The Image of God. Genesis 1:26--28 in a Century of Old
Testament Research. 1988.
27. Aurelius, Erik, Der Fiirbitter lsraels. Eine Studie zum Mosebild im Alten Testa-
ment. 1988.
28. Kartveit, Magnar; Motive und Schichten der Landtheologie in I Chronik 1-9. 1989.
29. Bostrom, Lennart, The God of the Sages. The Portrayal of God in the Book of
Proverbs. 1990.
30. Olofsson, Staffan, The LXX Version. A Guide to the Translation Technique of the
Septuagint. 1990.
31. Olofsson, Staffan, God is my Rock. A Study of Translation Technique and Theo-
logical Exegesis in the Septuagint. 1990.
32. Eriksson, LarsOlov, "Come, children, listen to me!" Psalm 34 in the Hebrew Bible
and in Early Christian Writings. 1991.
33. Laato, Antti, Josiah and David Redivivus. The Historical Josiah and the Messianic
Expectations of Exilic and Postexilic Times. 1992.
34. Viberg, Ake, Symbols of Law. A Contextual Analysis of Legal Symbolic Acts in the
Old Testament. 1992.
35. Laato, Antti, The Servant of YHWH and Cyrus. A Reinterpretation of the Exilic
Messianic Programme in Isaiah 40-55. 1992.
36. Cheney, Michael S., Dust, Wind and Agony: Character, Speech and Genre in Job.
37. Lindstrom, Fredrik, Suffering and Sin. Interpretations of Illness in the Individual
Complaint Psalms. 1994.
38. Svensson, Jan, Towns and Toponyms in the Old Testament with Special Emphasis
on Joshua 14-21. 1994.
39. Hagelia, Hallvard, Numbering the Stars. A Phraseological Analysis of Genesis 15.
40. Winther-Nielsen, Nicolai, A Functional Discourse Grammar of Joshua. A Com-
puter-assisted Rhetorical Structure Analysis. 1995.
41. Laato, Antti, History and Ideology in the Old Testament Prophetic Literature. A
Methodological Approach to the Reconstruction of the Proclamation of the Histor-
ical Prophets. 1995.
42. Mettinger; Tryggve N.D., No Graven Image? Israelite Aniconism in Its Near East-
em Context. 1995.
43. Eidevall, Goran, Grapes in the Desert. Metaphors, Models, and Themes in Hosea
4-14. 1996.
44. Laato, Antti, "About Zion I will not be silent." The Book of Isaiah as an Ideological
Unity. 1998.
45. Axskjold, Carl-Johan, Aram as the Enemy Friend. The Ideological Role of Aram in
the Composition of Genesis-2 Kings. 1998.
46. Haeffner Blomquist, Tina, Gates and Gods. Cults in the City Gates of Iron Age Pal-
estine. An Investigation of the Archaeological and Biblical Sources. 1999.
47. /destrom, Rebecca G.S., From Biblical Theology to Biblical Criticism: Old Testa-
ment Scholarship at Uppsala University 1866- 1922. 2000.
48. Oredsson, Dag, Moats in Ancient Palestine. 2000.
49. Hagelia, Hallvard, Coram Deo: Spirituality in the Book of Isaiah, With Particular
Attention to Faith in Yahweh. 2001.
50. Mettinger, Tryggve N.D, The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in
the Ancient Near East. 2001.
* Out of print.
How to order books in the series
Books in the Coniectanea Biblica Old Testament Series can be bought from your book-
seller or directly from the publisher Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Almqvist & Wiksell International
P.O.Box 7634
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The Riddle of Resurrection
. "l)ying and fuswg Q;oqs" in the Ancient East
_by Tryggvy N;D;
' l. '
. .
A'reconsideratiol.} c.lassical problem in the of the biblical world.
Eyer' since the publicat\on of Thi Gol4en Bough by J.G; Frazer, "dying and ris-
ing g<:>ds" has been -a disputed issue. According .to the consensus opinion, these
gods die but do not rise to life. N.D. Mettinger challenges this
Ns an<i perusal of all the. important sources, in-
cluding new, significant evidtmce; The book discussestopics such as:
' ' 1 ' . ' .
The development of the scholarly from Frazer to the present day.
- Baal in the myth and :rite of ancie"I1h.Jgarlt. The validity of recent sugges-
- tiop,s tQat adeity.ofthe type: _
l'bqelticiru;J. ,,gQd_s. A4qnis (Ado11); .lilld a disc\lssion
"" th<>roqghly the use of somces :(rom the Greek and Roman
worlq arid the icQnQgraphy,ofthe yase fromSic;lon .. - -
: , .. . , ' -.' t r ' ' "" ' . . : -' ' ' ' '
-- Egyptj.ari Osiris SY:fllbolism of the corn mummies. The con-
- and the West Semitic- gQds.
Duwqii--Tammuz diSc.J.isSe.d 'oi:t' the basis of fresh. material
, . . . to the and. n:tumofDl!-muzi. The ctOn-
. ....
in the light of religio-historical research.
. New Classical
Studies, the anc_ient Reliiion, Comparative Liter-
,. ,. '
Tryggve N;D. Mettinger, is Bi.ble at L1,1nd University,
'!lld is .the The De-
thronement of Sqbaoth .(Lund 1.98f), -;fJi',arew(!llto t!J.e-Servant Songs (Lund
.1983)., In Search ofGod;.,(rize of the Names
(Philadelphia- i 988), Aniconism in its Ancient
Near Eastern Context (StqPfljQlm He is a member of-the Royal Acade-
my 9f 1,-etters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm.
' .
Almqvist & Wiksell International
StocKholm, Sweden '
ISBN 91'-22-01945-6
' ' ." '