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Astarte

Middle Eastern goddess, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity

Top 10 Astarte related articles

Astarte
Goddess of fertility, sex, love, war
Statuette figurine of Astarte with a horned headdress, Louvre Museum, possibly the Great Goddess of Babylon (or Ishtar). From the necropolis of Hillah, near Babylon.
Major cult centerUgarit
PlanetVenus
Symbolspentagram, sphinx, lion, dove, horse
ConsortEl
Equivalents
Greek equivalentAphrodite
Roman equivalentVenus
Etruscan equivalentUni
Mesopotamian equivalentIshtar
Sumerian equivalentInanna

Astarte (/əˈstɑːrt/; Greek: Ἀστάρτη, Astártē) is the Hellenized form of the Ancient Near Eastern goddess Astoreth (Northwest Semitic), a form of Ishtar (East Semitic), worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.

Astarte Intro articles: 4

Name

Astarte is one of a number of names associated with the chief goddess or female divinity of both Canaanite and Phoenicians.[1] She is recorded in Akkadian as As-dar-tu (𒀭𒊍𒁯𒌓D), the feminine form of Ishtar.[2] The name appears in Ugaritic as ʻAthtart or ʻAṯtart (𐎓𐎘𐎚𐎗𐎚), in Phoenician as ʻAshtart or ʻAštart (𐤏𐤔𐤕𐤓𐤕), in Hebrew as Ashtoret (עַשְׁתֹּרֶת).[2] The Hebrews also referred to the Ashtarot or "Astartes" in the plural. The Etruscan Pyrgi Tablets record the name Uni-Astre (𐌔𐌄𐌓𐌕𐌔𐌀𐌋𐌀𐌉𐌍𐌖).[3]

Astarte Name articles: 12

Overview

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified morning and/or evening star.[2] The deity takes on many names and forms among different cultures, and according to Canaanite mythology, is one and the same as the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ištar, taken from the third millennium BC Sumerian goddess Inanna, the first and primordial goddess of the planet Venus. Inanna was also known by the Aramaic people as the god Attar, whose myth was construed in a different manner by the people of Greece to align with their own cultural myths and legends, when the Canaanite merchants took the First papyrus from Byblos (the Phoenician city of Gebal) to Greece sometime before the 8th century by a Phoenician called Cadmus the first King of Thebes.

Astarte riding in a chariot with four branches protruding from roof, on the reverse of a Julia Maesa coin from Sidon

Astarte was worshipped in Syria and Canaan beginning in the first millennium BC and was first mentioned in texts from Ugarit. She came from the same Semitic origins as the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, and an Ugaritic text specifically equates her with Ishtar. Her worship spread to Cyprus, where she may have been merged with an ancient Cypriot goddess. This merged Cypriot goddess may have been adopted into the Greek pantheon in Mycenaean and Dark Age times to form Aphrodite. It has been argued, however, that Astarte's character was less erotic and more warlike than Ishtar originally was, perhaps because she was influenced by the Canaanite goddess Anat, and that therefore Ishtar, not Astarte, was the direct forerunner of the Cypriot goddess. Greeks in classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times occasionally equated Aphrodite with Astarte and many other Near Eastern goddesses, in keeping with their frequent practice of syncretizing other deities with their own.[4]

Other major centers of Astarte's worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. "She was often depicted on Sidonian coins as standing on the prow of a galley, leaning forward with right hand outstretched, being thus the original of all figureheads for sailing ships."[5] In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.

Other centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre, that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah's name: Athirat.

Allat the pre-Islamic Arabian deity and Astarte may have been assimilated to each other[6](p. 51), and the two were closely linked.[7] On one of the tesserae used by the Bel Yedi'ebel for a religious banquet at the temple of Bel the deity Allat was given the name Astarte ('štrt). The assimilation of Allat to Astarte is not surprising in a milieu as much exposed to Aramaean and Phoenician influences as the one in which the Palmyrene theologians lived.[8] Similar to Astarte, Allat was as well associated with morning star (Venus),[9][10][11][12][13] crescent,[14][15][16] war,[17][18] prosperity, and lions.[19][20]

Astarte Overview articles: 47

In Ugarit

In the Baʿal Epic of Ugarit, Athirat, the consort of the god El, plays a role. She is clearly distinguished from Ashtart in the Ugaritic documents, although in non-Ugaritic sources from later periods the distinction between the two goddesses can be blurred; either as a result of scribal error or through possible syncretism.

Astarte In Ugarit articles: 3

In Egypt

Fragment of a crudely carved limestone stela showing king Thutmose IV adoring a goddess (probably Astarte). From Thebes, Egypt. 18th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Astarte arrived in ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty along with other deities who were worshipped by northwest Semitic people. She was especially worshipped in her aspect as a warrior goddess, often paired with the goddess Anat.

In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Ra and are given as allies to the god Set, here identified with the Semitic name Hadad. Astarte also was identified with the lioness warrior goddess Sekhmet, but seemingly more often conflated, at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images found of Astarte suckling a small child. Indeed, there is a statue of the 6th century BC in the Cairo Museum, which normally would be taken as portraying Isis with her child Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography follows normal Egyptian conventions, but the dedicatory inscription reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda, for his Lady, for Astarte." See G. Daressy, (1905) pl. LXI (CGC 39291).

Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, indicates that the King and Queen of Byblos, who, unknowingly, have the body of Osiris in a pillar in their hall, are Melcarthus (i.e. Melqart) and Astarte (though he notes some instead call the Queen Saosis or Nemanūs, which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to the Greek name Athenais).[21]

Astarte In Egypt articles: 189