Monday, 14 October 2013



Of all the gods, Zeus is the most troubling for me.

Too much like 'God the father' in the hymns and prayer books of my childhood.

Homer describes weather as a way Zeus speaks to us
From The Illiad- book 8:

As Dawn prepared to spread her saffron mantle over the land, Zeus the Thunderer gathered the gods to the highest peak of many-ridged Olympus, and spoke to them while all listened: ‘Hear me, gods and goddesses, while I say what my heart prompts. Let none of you try to defy me: all must assent, so I may swiftly achieve my aim. Whomever I find inclined to help the Greeks or Trojans, shall suffer the lightning stroke and be sent back ignominiously to Olympus, or be seized and hurled into dark Tartarus, into the furthest, deepest gulf beneath the earth, with iron gates and threshold of bronze, as far below Hades as earth is from heaven. Then you will see how much mightier I am than you immortals.

Both Hesiod and Homer describe a rain of blood sent as a warning, a portent of disaster. Zeus Semaleos worshiped at Mt Parnes, is the Zeus who speaks in symbols. The weather was his personality, or his will, manifest.

The kings of Troy traced their lineage back to Zeus and the kings, it was said, could elicit Zeus-signs, calling down lightning from the skies, but obviously not when it was really needed...or Achilles would not have dragged Hector around the walls of Troy.

The Hittites at Wilusa- if that is indeed the site of Troy- called upon Teshub, god of the axe, the bull, the triple-headed lightning bolt...not so far away from Indra.

Dios the shining one.

Nevertheless, to be struck by lightning was to be god-chosen.
To be killed by lightning was an instant translocation to 'heaven'.

Places struck by lightning were known not only as enelysia, but also as elysia. 

A man struck by lightning was enelysios 'in Elysium'.

A man struck by god was Diobletos or Diobles, touched by an immortal, struck by immortality.

According to Plutarch a man killed by lightning would not decay:

We all know well enough that the bodies of those who are struck by lightning do not decay. Many persons neither burn them nor bury them, but just fence them round and leave them, so that their corpses are seen in a state of perpetual in-corruption...I imagine too that the divine substance (sulphur) gets its name from the likeness of its smell to the fiery and pungent smell rubber out of things hit by lightning; and it seems to me that this is why even dogs and birds abstain from the bodies of those who have been struck by lightning.
Symp 4.2.3
And in Rome...
Shortly before the death of Augustus, his statue on the Capital was struck by lightning and the first letter of the word Ceaser on its base was destroyed. The seers concluded that it meant that he would live for C (100) days longer and then become aesar- the Etruscan word for god.


From SAR?
A word that may mean totality.
Preserved as shah meaning king.

Meaning total power, total everything...creating everything.

When sky (AN) was full AN.SAR, it gave birth.
When Earth (KI) was full KI.SAR, it gave birth.

Zeus blinds, in his briliance.
The gods radiate terrifying power, they are, and they possess, melammu.

We also have:

Zeus Keraunos.
Zeus (Dios) the destroyer.

The list of those blasted by the will of Zeus:
Herakles and Asklepios, Erechtheus and Romulus, Semele...

"Semele brought to bed by the lightning-fire (Bakchai Euripides)

Lightning struck stones engraved with Dios kabata (god descends)- a chthonic god penetrating the dark womb of earth with brightness.

The mix of bright gods, lightning bolts and terrifying stars is best preserved in clay and cuneiform. In the Enuma Elish: Marduk's 9th name is Namru (bright one) and he is called "the shinning god who illuminates our way"

But usually..
The stars are the gates of the celestial palaces...
The 8 point star is a symbol of the gods.

Diodorus explains:
'by virtue of following each its own course, points out future events, thus interpreting to mankind the design of the gods. For sometimes by their risings, sometimes by their settings, and again by their colour, the Chaldeans say, they give signs of coming events to such as are willing to observe them closely'
Now,  Homeric poems use the same set of words to describe aethyr, sun, moon, stars, lighting, fire as if they are made from the same stuff.  

The Greek word for lightning is  astrape, which sounds very close to astra.

Ciciro, ascribed this to Aristotle:
 "The stars occupy the region of aethyr, and this has a very rarefied substance and is always in lively motion, it follows that an animal born in this region has the keenest senses and the swiftest power of movement: hence since the stars come into existence in the aethyr, it is reasonable to suppose that they possess sensation and intelligence"
Dinon or Deinon (Greek Δίνων or Δείνων) of Colophon (c. 360–340 BC) stated in his book about Persia, that Zoroastres was sacrificed to the stars.

Dion Chrysostomos in a speach delivered at Prousa in the year 103-104 AD tells a slightly different story:

Zoroastres lived as a recluse upon a certain mountain. 
Fire came down from above so that the mountain began to burn. 
The king of Persia and his priests drew near to worship the god, and found Zoroastres emerging unharmed from the fire.
Zoroastres told the king be of good cheer and to offer sacrifices as one that had come to the place where the god was.
From that time onwards, Zoroastres associated only with the Magoi who could understand the god and knew how to serve the divine. 
They kept a chariot drawn by Nisaean horses, the finest in all Asia...

And the Byzantine historians Kedrenos (1100 AD) and Glykas (1120 AD state that Zoroastres the famous Persian astronomer, when about to die, prayed to Orion that he may be destroyed by the fire of heaven. He told the Persians to take up his bones and preserve them...

That the Mesopotamian countries took astronomy very seriously indeed is no surprise.

Iraq, Vol. 62, (2000)
The Gates and Guardians in Sennacherib's Addition to the Temple of Assur.
By Margaret Huxley.

Describes how the throne and the Dias of Destinies in Sennacherib's temple of Assur in the city of Assur- were oriented to 'The Path of Enlil' and the Wagon star.

 'M.Huxley shows the astro-theological symbolism implied in the Northerly orientation of the Assur temple courtyard...
"was made to reflect an abbreviated map of the visible mirror the heavens as the scene of divine activity, to locate correctly the throne of Assur, which lay behind the Gate of Kingship in the northern sky, and to stress Assur's sovereign power in the annual assembly of gods" M.Huxley's Sennacherib's addition to the temple of Assur." 

And that therefore the religion that was to become Judaism and then Christianity, took against stars, primarily I suspect, just to prove how very, very different they are from their Babylonian relatives!

Moses to Isrealites (Deut 4:19)

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven"

Deuteronomy 17:3
"and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky,"
The final piece in this jigsaw is the most surprising,

Old Indic, the language of the Rig Veda was recorded in inscriptions not long after 1500 BC, in northern Syria, about the same time or perhaps as much as 200 years before the 1,028 hymns of the Rig Veda were written in northwestern India and Pakistan,

The kings of that region of Syria spoke a non-Indo European language, Hurrian, but they took Old Indic names when they came to the throne.

In a peace treaty, King Kurtiwaza  calls upon:

 ...the Storm-god, Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Moon-god and the Sun-god, the Moon-god of Harran, heaven and earth, the Storm-god, Lord of the kurinnu of Kahat, the Deity of Herds of Kurta, the Storm-god, Lord of Uhušuman, Ea-šarri, Lord of Wisdom, Anu, Antu, Enlil, Ninlil, the Mitra-gods, the Varuna-gods, Indra, the Nasatya-gods, Lord of Waššukanni, the Storm-god, Lord of the Temple Platform (?) of Irrite, Partahi of Šuta, Nabarbi, Šuruhi, Ištar, Evening Star, Šala, Belet-ekalli, Damkina, Išhara, the mountains and rivers, the deities of heaven and the deities of earth. Link.

To witness his treaty with the Hittite king...

So why did Hurrian-speaking kings in Syria use Old-Indic words, and religious terms?

It is so long ago, and there isn't much to go on, but one theory is that the kingdom of Mitanni was created with the help of Old-Indic speaking mercenaries, perhaps charioteers who regularly practiced the worship of gods latter recorded in the Rig Veda...

And that is as far as I can go for now...
Except to say that it serves as a reminder of how looking for the original myth, the 'Ur-myth' is probably a thankless task. Ideas and images, words and language are containers for the Divine, never the essence.