De Dea Syria
Concerning the Syrian Goddess
Lucian of Samosata (2nd Century C.E.)
The Temples of Syria
1 - In Syria not far from the River Euphrates, is a city that is called Holy and holy is in truth, for it is of Syrian Hera. Yet I think that the city did not have this name at first when it was founded, but in ancient times it was different, and later, when the service of the Goddess grew important, it was changed to this. Concerning this city I propose to tell all that is in it, and I shall speak of the customs that they follow in their rites, and the feast days that they keep, and the sacrifices which they perform. And I shall repeat all the tales that they tell of those who established the holy place, and how the temple came into being. And I who write am Syrian, and of that which I describe to you, some part I saw with my own eyes, and some part I learned from the priests, that is to say, things that I describe which were before my own time.
Hieropolis, N.W. of Aleppo, on the main road into Mesopotamia, 15 Roman miles from the crossing of the Euphrates, and by road about 116 Roman miles from Lucian’s birthplace, Samosata. Its Syrian name was Manbog, i.e., spring, in Greek, Bambyce. It was dubbed Hieropolis in the time of Seleucus Nicator, but the old name persisted as Manbij.
2 - Of all peoples we know, they say Egyptians were the first to form a conception of gods, and to establish holy places [sanctuaries] and closes [holy precincts, lit. temenos, in Greek], and to appoint feast days. And they were first to conceive holy names and holy tales. But not long after, Syrians heard rumor and speech of Egyptians concerning the gods and regarding sanctuaries and temples, in which they put images and set statues.
3 - But in antiquity among the Egyptians were temples without statues. And in Syria there are temples almost as old as those in Egypt, of which I have seen most, in particular the temple of Herakles in Tyre, not that Herakles whom Greeks praise in their songs, but the one whereof I speak is much older, and is Tyre’s patron [the god Melqart].
4 - In Phoenicia is another great temple which the people of Sidon keep. They say it belongs to Astarte, and Astarte, I swear, is Selene the Moon.
The Emperor Elagabalus, being the Sun, brought Astarte the Moon from Phoenicia and wedded her. But she was not originally or at any time primarily the moon; and in Babylonia, as Ishtar, she had for Her emblem a star, the planet Venus.
But one of the priests told me it belongs to Europa, sister of Cadmus. She was daughter of King Agenor; and after she vanished, Phoenicians honored her with that temple, and told a holy tale about her that says she was beautiful; Zeus desired her and transformed himself into the likeness of a bull, and then snatched her away and bore her on his back to Crete. That same story I heard from other Phoenicians as well; and the coinage which the Sidonians use depicts Europa sitting on the bull that is Zeus. Nonetheless, they do not agree that the temple is that of Europa.
The temple itself contained, in later days at least, a painting of the Europa episode. The story was also localized at Tyre, where the house of Agenor and the bower of Europa were shown and where in the eighth century the people still mourned the abduction in a feast called the kakè opsiné. The name Europa is considered Greek; whether this particular myth is Cretan or Phoenician in origin the evidence does not seem sufficient to determine.
5 - And Phoenicians have another sanctuary, not Syrian but Egyptian, which came from Heliopolis to Phoenicia. I have not seen it, but it, too, is both large and ancient.
This cult was at Heliopolis/Baalbek. The god, who appears to have been originally Hadad but to have undergone syncrisis with the sun-god and with the Syrian “Apollo,” was worshipped far and wide as Jupiter Heliopolitanus. The cult image, says Macrobius, came from Heliopolis in Egypt by way of Assyria. The ambiguity of Lucian’s Greek seems meant to convey the jocose implication that the magnificent new temple, built by Antoninus Pius, had been transported thither without human hands.
The Story of Adon, called by the Greeks, Adonis
6 - But I did see in Byblos a great temple of Aphrodite of Byblos [Ashtart/Astarte], in which they perform ceremonies in honor of Adon; and I learned about the ceremonies.
To natives of Byblos, their goddess was just Baalat (Mistress), and to other Semites Baalat Gebal (Mistress of Byblos) [i.e., Lady of Byblos, Ashtart, called by the Greeks Astarte]; in Syriac and Greek Baltis or Beltis is used as if it were her name. So too Adonis to them was simply Adon (Lord); an early name, or perhaps epithet, was Eliun. It was only late, if at all, that he was there identified with Tammuz, fourth king of Erech. The temple, which contained a baetylic stone, is represented on coins.
They say, at any rate, that the deed that was done to Adon by the boar occurred in their land, and in memory of that misfortune every year they beat their breasts and mourn and perform the ceremonies, making solemn lamentations throughout the country. And when the breast-beating and weeping is at end, first they make offerings to Adon as if to a dead person; and then, on the next day, they proclaim that he is alive and fetch him forth into the air, and shave their heads as the Egyptians do when Apis dies.
Lucian abridges his account of the rites because they were familiar. I see no reason to suppose that they differed essentially from the Alexandrian rites as described by Theocritus. From him we learn that Adonis comes to life for but a day, during which he is couched with the goddess in the temple. Next morning the women carry him to the sea-shore, and commit him to the waves.
And all women who will not let themselves be shaved pay this penalty: that for a single day they proffer themselves for sale of their beauty; but the market is open only to all foreigners, and the payment becomes an offering to Aphrodite [Ashtart/Astarte].
7 - Nonetheless, there are some inhabitants of Byblos who say that Osiris of Egypt lies buried among them, and the mourning and the ceremonies are all made in honor of Osiris instead of Adon.
Byblos was known to the Egyptians from the time of the Old Kingdom, and her goddess impressed them deeply. She was identified with Hathor at least as early as the Middle Kingdom, and her story contributed to the shaping of the Isis-Osiris myth. When the coffin of Osiris was thrown into the Nile by Typhon, it drifted out to sea, and so to Byblos, where Isis sought and found it.
And I shall tell you the reason why this seems to be true to them. Each year a head comes from Egypt to Byblos, making a sea journey of seven days, and the winds drive it, by guidance of the gods, and it does not turn aside in any direction, but comes only to Byblos. And this is wholly marvelous. It befalls every year, and happened the time that I was in Byblos, and I saw the head that is of Byblos.
The pun signifies that the head was of papyrus, made, no doubt, of a sort of papier maché, as in a mummy-case. [ekp: Byblos can = papyrus] In the commentary of Cyril on Isaiah 18, we learn, instead, of an earthen pot that contained a letter from the women of Alexandria to those of Byblos, saying that Aphrodite had found Adonis. There may be something in the tale of its drift, for the Nile current sets over to the Phoenician shore, and it is Nile mud that silts up Phoenician harbors.
8 - And in the land of Byblos is another marvel, a river flowing out of Mount Lebanon into the sea, which is called the Adon. Every year it becomes blood-red, losing its natural hue, and when it flows into the sea, it reddens a large part of it; and this is a signal for mourning to the inhabitants of Byblos.
The Adonis is the present Nahr Ibrahim, a short distance S. of Byblos. “I have crossed it on Easter day when it was turbid and ruddy with the rich red sandstone soil from Lebanon.” A similar discoloration of certain unnamed rivers and springs is implied in the tale of Philo of Byblos that Uranus was mutilated by Kronos at a certain place in the interior near springs and rivers, that his blood flowed into them, and that the place was still pointed out. Epiphanius bears personal witness that at the exact day and hour of the miracle of Cana the water of a spring at Cibyra in Caria used to turn into wine, and on the word of his brothers that the same was true of the river of Gerasa in Arabia. He does not tell us who is his warrant in the case of the Nile, but observes that that is why the natives bottle and set away Nile-water on a certain date.
For they say that on those days, Adon is being wounded up on Mt. Lebanon, and his blood as it comes into the water alters the river and gives the stream his name. Thus say common folk. But a certain man of Byblos, who I believe to be telling the truth, recounted to me another cause of the phenomenon. This is his account: “The River Adon, o stranger, runs through Lebanon, and the soil of Lebanon is quite ruddy. Therefore, when strong winds arise on these days, depositing the earth in the river, the earth that is completely ruddy makes it blood-red. So this change is not because of blood, as people say, but the soil.” This is the account of the man of Byblos; but even if he spoke truly, still it seems to me quite marvelous that the wind arises at the right time.
9 - Then I went up onto the Lebanon from Byblos, one day’s journey, because I learned that an ancient sanctuary of Aphrodite [Ashtart/Astarte] which Cinyras founded was there; and I saw the temple and it is an ancient one.
At Aphaca, between Byblos and Baalbek, at the head of the Adonis, where Adon was buried and Baalat died of grief. Down to the fifth century a bright light appearing in the sky near the temple summoned the worshippers at set times, and an artificial pond gave omens; offerings were thrown into it, which sank if the goddess was favorable or floated if she was adverse. The site is eloquently described by Frazer; for the rock-sculptures in the neighborhood, to one of which the description of the goddess in Macribius refers, see Baudissin, p. 78 and pls. i-iii, and for the ruins of the temple, destroyed under Constantine but possibly rebuilt under Julian. Lucian’s amusing reticence is by way of parody on Herodotus, and derives its point from the fact that his reader, knowing the reputation of the place, is all agog to hear about it.
The Holy City of the
10 - These are the old and great sanctuaries in Syria. But of them all, I believe none is greater than the Holy City, nor any other temple more blessed, nor none other land holier. Costly works are therein and ancient offerings and many marvels, and statues in the likeness of gods. Also, the gods are readily revealed to the inhabitants; for here statues sweat and move and prophecy, and often shouting occurs in the temple when the sanctuary is locked, and many have heard it. Certainly in wealth it is foremost among all that I know; for to it come many treasures from Arabia and Phoenicia and Babylonia, and much from Cappadocia and some brought by Cilicians, and some by Assyrians. And I saw what has been secretly stored at the temple, many robes and other things that have been chased out of silver or gold. And of feasts and solemnities, no other folk in the world have appointed so many.
11 - When I asked how many years the sanctuary had endured, and who they considered their Goddess, many stories were told, both priests’ lore and common tales, and some very fabulous; and some were outlandish, but others seemed to accord with those of Greece. All these tales I shall repeat, but I do not believe them in any way.
12 - Most say Deukalion, called Sisythes [a variant of Xisouthros] founded the sanctuary. This is the Deukalion in whose time the great Flood befell. Of Deukalion I have heard a tale among the Greeks, which they tell in honor of him; and the story goes as follows.
This generation, the people of nowadays, was not the first, but that first generation all perished, and this is of the second generation which came from Deukalion and multiplied. Concerning the first humans, they say that they were quite violent and committed wicked deeds, for they did not keep oaths, nor welcomed strangers, nor spared suppliants; and because of these offenses, the great tribulation came upon them. Suddenly the earth spewed forth a flood of water and heavy rains fell and the rivers rushed in torrents, and the sea rose amazingly high, until all things were changed into water and all humans perished. Deukalion alone among men was left for the second generation because of his prudence/good counsel and his piety/good works. And his deliverance/salvation came in this way. Into a great ark that he possessed he put his children and his wives, and then he himself entered, and as he boarded there came to him swine and horses and lionkind and serpents and all beasts that live/every kind of creature that grazes - on the earth, two by two/all in pairs. And he welcomed them all, and none did him any harm, for among them was great charity/friendship from the gods, and in a single ark they all sailed while the flood prevailed. So say the Greeks about Deukalion.
13 - But what happened after this, the inhabitants of the Holy City tell a tale at which we may rightly be amazed, how in their land a great chasm opened up and took in all the water; and when this happened, Deukalion set up altars and built a temple over the hole sacred to Hera [Atargatis]. I myself saw the hole, a quite little one, which is beneath the temple. If once it was large and now has become such as it is, I do not know, but the one I saw is small.
In token/As a symbol of this story, they do thus. Twice each year water from the Sea is brought into the temple. Not only priests, but the whole of Syria and Arabia brings it; and from beyond the Euphrates many men go to the Sea and all bring water, that soon they pour out in the temple, and then it goes down into that hole; and even though the hole is small, nonetheless it takes in a great deal of water. And in doing thus they say that Deukalion established this custom for the sanctuary in memory/as a memorial both of that disaster and that divine favor.
At Hieropolis the object was to quell evil spirits, according to Melito. “But touching Nebo, which is in Mabut, why should I write to you; for lo! all the priests which are in Mabug know that it is the image of Orpheus, a Thracian Magus. And Hadran (i.e., Hadaranes, a double of Hadad) is the image of Zaradusht [Zarathustra], a Persian Magus, because both of these Magi practised Magism to a well which is in a wood in Mabug, in which was an unclean spirit, and it committed violence and attacked the passage of every one who was passing by in all that place in which now the fortress of Mabug is located; and these same Magi charged Simi, the daughter of Hadad, that she should draw water from the sea, and cast it into the well, in order that the spirits would not come up,” etc.
The Story of Semiramis and Derketo
14 - Now that is the traditional story among them concerning the temple. But other men swear that Semiramis of Babylonia, whose deeds are many in Asia, also founded this site, and not for Hera [Atargatis] but for her own Mother, whose name was Derketo.
A legend of Ascalon made Semiramis the daughter of Derketo by a Syrian youth with whom Aphrodite (i.e. Astarte/Ashtart) made Derketo fall in love. In her grief and shame, Derketo destroyed the youth, exposed the daughter, and herself leaped into a pool and was turned into a fish. Semiramis was miraculously attended by doves until she was discovered and handed over to Simmas, a royal overseer; eventually she married Ninus. She was intimately connected with temple traditions at Hieropolis: two statues of her stood near the temple, with one of which the story was connected that she had once tried to usurp the place of the goddess, the “token” of c. 33 represented her.
I saw the likeness of Derketo in Phoenicia, a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length, but the other half, from thighs to feet, stretched out in a fish’s tail. But the image in the Holy City is entirely a woman, and the grounds for their account are not very clear. They consider fishes to be sacred, and they never eat them; and though they eat all other fowls, they do not eat the dove, for she is holy so they believe. And these things are done, they believe, because of Derketo and Semiramis, the first because Derketo has the shape of a fish, and the other because ultimately Semiramis turned into a dove. Well, I may grant that the temple was a work of Semiramis perhaps; but that it belongs to Derketo I do not believe in any way. For among the Egyptians, some people do not eat fish, and that is not done to honor Derketo.
Diodoros said the name Semiramis is derived from the word for dove in the Syrian dialect. It is certainly similar to the Assyrian word summatu (dove). Lucian’s skepticism is unjustified. Pliny (5,81) and Strabo (16, p. 785) were better informed. Atargatis is the Greek version of ‘Atar-’ata; Derketo is the Greek version of the abbreviated form Tar-’ata. Lilinah’s note: the sound at the beginning of ‘ata is not strictly an “a”, but is preceeded by a uvular sound.
The Story of Kybele and Attis
15 - There is another holy story which I heard from a wise man, that the goddess is Rhea [Kybele] and the sanctuary founded by Attis. Attis was a Lydian by birth, and he first taught the ceremonies that belong to Rhea [Kybele]. And all rites which Phrygians, Lydians, and Samothraceans perform, they learned from Attis. For when Rhea [Kybele] castrated him, he ceased to lead the life of a man, but changed to female form, and donned women’s clothing. He went out to every land and performed ceremonies and related his sufferings and praised Rhea [Kybele] in song. Eventually he came to Syria, and since the people beyond the Euphrates did not accept him, nor his rites, he founded the sanctuary in this place. And here is the proof. The goddess for the most part resembles Rhea [Kybele], for lions draw her and she holds a tympanum and she wears a tower on her head, just as Lydians depict Rhea [Kybele]. Also the wise man spoke of the Galloi who were in the temple, saying that Galloi castrated themselves and mimic Attis, not for worship of Hera [Atargatis] but for worship of Rhea [Kybele].
This identification of the Dea Syria with Rhea has been spoken of as a temple-legend. Is it not rather a simple deduction of Lucian’s “wise man,” based upon general resemblance and upon the presence of Galloi in both cults? The resemblance, however, was real, and the identification was not unusual; a striking instance is in Bardesanes, where the Syriac version has Tharatha, the Greek, as quoted by Eusebius, Rhea. It has been revived by modern scholars, notably Meyer, and with good reason; but whether the “Mother-goddess” is Semitic in origin, as he formerly held, or non-Semitic (Hittite), as he now argues, is still, it seems to me, an open question. See note below on Combabus.
But to me, although this seems plausible, it is not true, for I have heard another reason why they castrate themselves that is a great deal more believable.
16 - I believe what men say concerning the sanctuary, since it accords in most respects to the Greeks who deem the goddess Hera [Atargatis] and the sanctuary made by Dionysos, son of Semele. For without a doubt, Dionysos came to Syria on that journey during which he went to Ethiopia. And in the temple are many indications that Dionysos is the founder, namely foreign garments and gems of India and elephants’ tusks which Dionysos brought from Ethiopia. In addition, two phalloi, or pillars, stand in the entrance, quite high, on the which is written this inscription: “I Dionysos dedicated these phalloi to Hera [Atargatis] my step-mother.”
Phallic pillars, further described below, cc. 28-29. The inscription is much too pointed to be genuine; it is a hoax like that in the True Story. Pillars were an ordinary feature of Semitic “high places,” both of wood (asherim) and of stone (masseboth). In the case of the asherim I know of no direct evidence that they were phallic, but the masseboth, many of which still survive, are sometimes clearly of that nature. The pillars at Hieropolis were made of wood, since cleats were nailed to them; they were therefore asherim, and form a further bond between Asherah (Astarte) and Atargatis. Whether originally phallic or not, they were in Lucian’s day themselves used as “high places”; see below. [Lilinah’s note: Asherah and Astarte are not the same goddess. However, there is a great deal of syncretism in Late Antiquity, and a number of recent scholars believe Atargatis is herself a syncretic deity, combining Ashtart and Anat. Also, many older scholars of the Levant themselves confused the deities, especially before Ugarit was discovered. I believe Harmon wrote this prior to the translations of the Ugaritic tablets.]
Now to me this suffices, nonetheless I shall tell you another holy object that is in the temple which belongs to ceremonies of Dionysos. Men of Greece erect phalloi to Dionysos that have on them little men made of wood that have large genitals. They are called Puppets. And in the temple there is this same sort of thing; on the right side sits a little man of bronze that has a large penis.
The Story of Stratonike and Kombabos
17 - So they say of the founders of the holy place. And now I shall speak of the temple, where it was set and who had it built. Men say the temple that stands now is not the one that was first built, but that was torn down some time past, and the temple that stands now is the work of Stratonike, wife of the king of Syria.
Stratonike was daughter of Demetrius Poliorcetes and wife of Seleucus Nicator; she was subsequently surrendered by him to his son Antiochus I, Soter, by a former wife, Apama. The famous tale which follows (in Lucian a pure digression, but quite in the Herodotean manner) is rehearsed at length by Plutarch also (Demetrius 38). As far as Antiochus is concerned it is fiction.
I swear this is the very Stratonike that her step son loved, who was betrayed by the physician’s intervention. For when the misfortune oppressed him, he might not sustain the misease that seemed to him shameful, and so he quietly fell into sickness, and lay without any pain; and his hue changed utterly, and his body feebled each day. But when the physician saw that he was weak without plain cause, he judged that the sickness was love. For of secret love there were many signs, as weak eyes, voice, hue, tears. And when he perceived it, he did thus. He put his right hand over the young man’s heart, and then he sent for all who were in the house. And when each and every one entered, he was in great ease, but when his stepmother came, he changed hue and sweated and choked and his heart stirred. These things
18 - showed his love to the physician who held him thus. After that he had called the young man’s father, who was sore adread, “This sickness,” quoth he, “whereof thy child is weak is not sickness but sin, for verily he suffereth of no pain, but of love and passion. And he coveteth what he may not have in any way, loving my wife who I will not forgo.” So that one lied in guile. And soon that other beseeched him: “By thy cunning and thy physic, destroy not my son; for he is not in this case of his own will but hath the sickness in spite of himself. Therefore do thou not through spite make sore in all the room, nor thou that art physician bring manslaughter into physic.” Thus prayed he all unaware. And that one answered: “Thou furtherest wicked deeds, revenge me from my marriage and destroy a poor leech. What wouldst thyself have done if he coveted thy wife, thou that asks such boons of me?” Therewith the king replied that he himself would never have been jealous of his wife nor begrudged his son deliverance, if so be he had coveted his step-mother; for it was not the same misfortune to lose a wife as a son. And when the physician heard that, “Wherefore then,” quoth he, “dost beseech me? In faith, he loveth thy wife, and all that I said was false!” Then was the father overcome, and yielded both wife and realm to his son, and going himself to the country of Babylonia had made a city near Euphrates that was called after his own name, there his death befell. Thus did the physician both know and heal love.
The known facts are that Seleucus made Antiochus joint-ruler in 293 B.C.; that the marriage of Stratonike to Antiochus may have taken place at that time, but the date is not known; and that in 281, on becoming master of the whole realm of Alexander through the defeat of Lysimachus, he planned to entrust, and perhaps actually did entrust, all Asia to his son, intending himself to assume the throne of Macedonia. But within a few months he was assassinated by Ptolemy Ceraunus near Lysimachia in Thrace. He built many cities named after him; this Seleucia, 15 miles below Baghdad, is generally called “on the Tigris,” but it lay between the two rivers, which at that point are only 25 miles apart, and the canal Naarmalcha, connecting the Euphrates with the Tigris, flowed by it.
19 - Now I tell you, while Stratonike still dwelled with her former husband, she had a dream in which Atargatis [Hera] bade her to build the temple for Her in the Holy City, and if she should not obey, Atargatis [Hera] menaced her with many harms. At first, she took no note of it; but after, when a great sickness hit her, she told the dream to her husband who enforced her to appease Hera [Atargatis], and promised to build the temple. Soon she became whole, and then her husband sent her to the Holy City and with her a great treasure and a great host, some to build and other some for her security. Therefore he summoned one of his friends, a quite fair young man called Kombabos,
The name Kombabos, which does not occur elsewhere in Greek, has been identified as that of the opponent of Gilgamesh in the Gilgamesh Epic, Hu(m)-ba-ba. This name is not Elamite, but Amorite or West Semitic; it was borne by a historical personage who lived in a cedar district of the West and humiliated Babylonia at the time of Gilgamesh, about 4000 B.C. However that may be, Kombabos is Humbaba, and in this story, which is the temple-legend, the name of Kombabos is the significant part; Stratonike has taken the place of an earlier female. I believe her immediate predecessor was Semiramis, from Ammianus Marcellinus, 14, 6, 17, and her general connection with this site; she in her turn probably ousted an earlier SIma or Ata, with whom Kombabos may have been brought into connection through building the temple.
and said: “For thou art noble, Master Kombabos, I love thee most of all my friends, and I praise thee greatly for thy cunning and for thy good will to me, that thou hast revealed before. And now I needeth of great faith, wherefore I would that thou follow my wife, to accomplish the work in my name, and to perform the sacrifices, and to rule the host; and when thou returnest thou shalt get high worship from me.” Therewith soon Kombabos went to pray and beseech him full busily that he should not send him forth nor betake him neither that treasure that was much too great for him, nor his wife, nor the holy work. For he was adread lest jealousy should assail him afterwards as concerning Stratonike, that he must- 20 lead forth alone. But since the king would not hearken in any way, he assayed another request, to grant him seven days space, and then send him forth, when he had done a thing thereof he had most need. And when he obtained this boon easily, he went to his own house and cast himself down and complained right so: “Alas wretch, what have I to do with this faith, what have I to do with this voyage, whereof I see not the end? I am young, and shall follow a fair woman. This shall be great misfortune to me, but if I put away all cause of evil; therefore must I perform a great deed that shall heal me of all fear.”
Thus he said, and then marred himself; and when he had cut off his genitals he put them in a little pot, and balm withal, and honey and other things of sweet smell. Then he sealed it with a signet that he bore, and healed his wound. And after, when he seemed well to do journey, going to the king, before many men who were there, he took him the pot, saying thus: “O sire, this great treasure I was wont for to keep prively, and I loved it well; but now, for as much as I shall go a far way, I will betake it to you. Keep it securely; for this to me is better than gold, this to me is as valuable as my life. When I return, I shall bear it home again safe and sound.” So the king received it and sealed it with another signet and bade his stewards for to keep it curiously.
21 - Then Kombabos made his way safely; and when they were come to the Holy City they began to build the temple busily, and they spent three years on the work, and in those years Kombabos dread befell. For in companying with him a great while Stratonike began to love him, and then she grew quite passionate over him. Men of the Holy City say that Hera [Atargatis] was voluntary cause thereof, to the intent that Kombabos’ goodness should not lie hidden and Stratonike should be punished because she did not build the temple readily.
22 - At first she was miserable and hid her malady; but when her misery became too great for peace, she sorrowed openly and wept each and every day, and cried out the name of Kombabos, and Kombabos to her. And finally, for she could no more sustain such adversity, she sought a well-seeming petition. Now she was wary to avow her love to any other, yet she had shame to say ought herself. Therefore she thought of this device, that she should make herself drunk with wine and then speak with him; for when wine comes in, boldness of speech comes in as well, and discomfort does not feel too shameful, but all that is done passes into forgettingness.
Just as she thought, just so she did. For after her meal, she went to the house where Kombabos was lodged, and beseeched him and embraced his knees and avowed her love. But he received her words rudely, and would not assent to the deed, and reproved her of drunkenness. But when she threatened to do herself some great harm, then for fear he told her all the story and described all his own case and revealed his doing. And when Stratonike saw she would never realize her desire, she desisted from her passion, yet she forgot not all of her love, but companyed with him in all ways and in that guise solaced the love, therein she might not speden. That manner of love abides yet in the Holy City, and is made nowadays. Women covet Galloi and Galloi grow passionate for love of women; nonetheless no man is jealous, but he thinks this thing quite holy.
23 - Now that which had happened in the Holy City concerning Stratonike did not escaped the King in any way, but many that returned accused them and recited their doings; wherefore the king was grievously troubled and summoned Kombabos from the work before it was finished. Other men say this is not so, but that when Stratonike failed in her purpose, she herself wrote letters to her husband and accused Kombabos, blaming him of assaulting her. Just as men of Greece say of Stheneboies and of Phaidros of Knossos, just so say Syrians of Stratonike. Now I do not believe that Stheneboies did any such thing, nor Phaidros neither, if Phaidros truly loved Hypolite. But let those things go just as they were.
24 - When the tidings came to the Holy City, and Kombabos learned the accusation, he went boldly because he had left his answer at home. And after arriving, soon the king had him bound and put him in prison; and after, when his friends there were who there were before, when Kombabos was sent forth, he ?ladde him in presence and began to blame him, reproving him of avowtry and villainy; and in sore bitterness of hurt he reminded him of faith and friendship, saying that Kombabos did threefold wrong because he was an avowtrer and broke faith and sinned against the goddess in whose service he so ?wroughte. And many stood forward and bore witness that they saw them companying together openly. And at last all deemed that Kombabos should die quite soon, for his deeds deserved death.
Lucian of Samosata was a popular author of the second century from Samosata in Syria. Although best known for his humorous pieces, Peri Tes Syries Theoy, written in Greek, during the Roman period and known in Latin as De Dea Syria, presents a great deal of information about Levantine religion in the Roman period. While some of his descriptions are tantalizingly vague, much of his information is actually verified by the literature from Ugarit written almost 1500 years earlier and discovered in 1928. The following is a reproduction of the De Dea Syria.All notes are indented and wherever Lucian gives only a Greek name, the Phoenician or Syrian name has been added [in square brackets].
25 - In this time of judgment he said nothing. But when they were leading him to his death, he spoke and requested his treasure, saying, they would slay him, not for any villainy nor avowtry, but for coveting the things that in going he had left with them. Then the king called his steward and bade him bring what had been given him to keep; and when he brought it, Kombabos broke the seal and showed what was within and what he himself had suffered. And he said: “O King, for I was adread of this when you would send me on this way, therefore I was loathe to go; and when you greatly constrained me, I wrought this manner deed, that is good for my master but not well for me. Nonetheless, I that am such as you see am repreaved of a man’s sin.” 26 - At this saying that other yielded and took him in arms and weeping said: “O Kombabos, wherefore hast thou wrought great mischief? Wherefore hast thou wrought thyself such a despite that never yet no man nor said? I praise this not at all. O hard heart, that wast hardy for to do such things, that I would thou had ne’er surrered nor I ne’er seen! I wanted not this answer. But for as much as it was god’s will, first shalt thou have vengeance on our grace, the death of thy false challengers themself, and after shall come a great gift, much gold and great plenty silver and Syrian clothes and royal chargers. And thou shalt come before me without that any man present thee, and no one shall let thee from sight of me, though I be abed with my wife.” Just as he said, just so he did. Those were led to death soon, but to him the gifts were given and greater friendships were granted. And it seemed that Kombabos had not his peer in Syria for wisdom and bliss.
And after, there as he sought to finish the remnant of the temple, for he had left it unfinished, he was sent ?eftsones and brought it to an end and abode there from thence forward. And because of his virtue and well-doing, the king vouchsafed that his image in bronze should be set in the sanctuary. And so for ?gerdon Kombabos dwelleth yet in the close, formed of bronze by craft of Ermocles the Rhodian, like a woman in shape but clothed like a man.
Hermocles of Rhodes is known only from this passage; his name must have been preserved by an inscription on the statue, which we may be sure was the restoration of an older statue of the putative originator of the Galloi and possible real founder of the temple, installed in connection with the Seleucid restoration of the temple itself.
The story tells that his best friends, for solace of his woe, chose to share his lot; for they castrated themselves and led that same manner of life. But other men repeat priests lore to this matter, how that Hera [Atargatis] loving Kombabos, put it in the thoughts of many to castrate themselves, in the intent that he should not mourn alone for manhood.
27 - But evermore since this custom was first established, it abides yet, and every year many men castrate themselves in the close and become as women, where it be that they solace Kombabos or rejoice Hera [Atargatis]. However, they castrate themselves. And these no longer clothe themselves as men, but wear women’s weeds and do women’s work. And as I hears, the blame of this also is laid on Kombabos; for a thing befell him in this way. A strange woman that came thither on pilgrimage sought him while he was fair and clad yet as a man, and she was seized of great love. But after, when she learned that he was marred, she slew herself. Then for despair that Kombabos had because he was accursed in love, he did don female clothing to the end that never no other woman should be so beguiled. That is why Galloi wear female apparel.
Since Kombabos bears a very ancient name, since the temple-story ascribes the origin of the Galloi to him, not to Attis, and since Attis does not figure at all in the worship as described by Lucian, the Galloi can hardly be a Seleucid importation from Phrygia; in that case Attis would have been imported also. Meyer, who believes the cult ancient here, but Hittite-Anatolian in its origin, finds evidence of Attis-worship in the name Atargatis (Atar-Ata), which he interprets as the Astarte of Attis; i.e., the goddess that is characterized by the worship of Attis. This view not only leaves Kombabos out of account, but does not reckon with the fact that the deity Ata was often, if not always, thought of as feminine. The connection, however, between Attis and Ata is indubitable; and I believe that there is an analogous connection between Kombabos (Assyr. Chum-ba-ba, Babyl. Chu-wa-wa, with characteristic w for b) and Kybebos (Gallus), Kybébe (the goddess Cybele). It cannot be mere coincidence that in Syria Ku(m)baba serves Ata, while in Phrygia Cybebe is served by Attis. That the transfer in which man and goddess exchanged names was from Semitic to non-Semitic soil is, it seems to me, likely from the antiquity of the name Ku(m)baba. Other arguments are not wanting.
Of Kombabos have I said enough, and of the Galloi I shall make mention soon in another part of my book [Ch. 50-54], how they are castrated, and in what manner they are buried, and why they do not enter into the temple. But first I must tell of the site of the temple and its greatness, and therefore I shall do so right now.
The Holy Pillar Sitters
28 - The place where the temple is situated is on a hill and it lies well within the midst of the city, and two walls surround it. One of the walls is ancient, but the other is not much older than our time. The entrance of the sanctuary extends out toward the Septemtryon, at least 100 fathoms in length; and in that entrance stand the pillars that Dionysos set up at a height of 300 fathoms.
Some reduce these 300-fathom emblems to 30 by conjecture, but it is in unimportant details like this that Lucian gives rein to his inclination to parody. Mandeville gives the Tower of Babel the modest height of 64 furlongs - eight miles.
A man goes up one of these pillars twice a year and stays at the top of the pillar for the period of seven days. And they say the cause of his going up is this. Common folk believe that he speaks with the gods on high and asks boons for all Syria, and the gods hear his prayers from so near.
This is evidently the true reason, and not either of the two that follow. That the gods can hear better from near at hand is good Semitic psychology; but the use of a pillar instead of a mountain-top, or a ziggurat, or the roof of a house, appears otherwise unevidenced in early Syria. “It was perhaps the memory of this strange rite (not however peculiar to Syria, but known also in India) which led Simeon the Stylite to ascend his column four centuries later at a site not very far west of the old temple of the Dea Syria.”
But others believe that this is also done because of Deukalion, in token and memory of that tribulation, when men went into the mountains and into the great high trees for fear of the flood. Now to me, that is not believable. I strongly suppose that they do this for worship of Dionysus, and I conclude thus. Pillars that they make for worship of Dionysus, on the pillars they always set wooden men; but I shall not say why. [Compare Herodotus 2, 48, and the hieros logos. The explanation that Lucian has in mind is probably the Prosymnos story (Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 2, p. 30 P)]. Therefore I think, in going up, that one imitates the wooden man.
29 - The way he goes up is this. He puts a short cord about himself and the pillar, then he climbs on pieces of wood nailed on the column which are just big enough for him to set his toes on; and as he climbs he throws up the cord with both hands just as he might shake the reins of a chariot. If there are any that have not seen this thing, but have seen men climb palm trees in Arabia or in Egypt, or elsewhere, he understands what I am talking about. [alluded to by Pliny, 13, 29.]
When he comes to the end of his climb, he lets fall another cord that he has, which is long, and draws up what he needs, wood, and clothes and food, of which he frames a seat like a nest; thereon he sits and abides for the space of the aforementioned seven days. And many come, putting gold and silver or, sometimes, bronze, that they use for their coins, into a vessel that lies near the pillar, everyone saying his name. Then someone that stands beside the pillar calls it up; and when that other receives the name of each, he prays for him, and in praying shakes a thing of bronze that sounds loud and shrill when it is stirred.
Very likely the bronze sistrum; fragments of these have been found in Phoenicia (Cook 45). The object was to scare away evil spirits, which as Lucian says elsewhere (vol. iii, p. 343), take flight if they hear a chink of bronze or iron.
And he never sleeps. For if ever he falls asleep, a scorpion going up awakens him and does him piteous harm; and that is the pain that is laid on him for sleeping.
There is probably special significance in the scorpion. Not only does it occur frequently on Babylonian seals, and later become the sign of the Zodiac, but in the Gilgamesh Epic, the mountain, where the sun goes down, is guarded by a scorpion man and woman.
Now this tale of the scorpion is a holy tale and well seeming, but whether it be true or not, I do not know. Nonetheless, it seems to me that dread of falling avails much in wakefulness. Now then, of pillar-climbers I have said enough.
The Temple of the Syrian Goddess
30 - But concerning the temple, it looks toward the rising sun, and the form and making thereof is just as they build temples in Ionia. A large platform rises from the earth 2 fathoms [12 feet] in height, whereon the temple sits. The ramp up to it is made of stone, and is not very long. And when you have ascended, the sight of the temple shows you a thing of great marvel, for it is adorned with doors of gold. And within, the temple shines with much gold and the ceiling is all golden. And a heavenly fragrance comes out of it, such as they say comes out of the land of Arabia. As you approach, even from afar it sends toward you a wonderful sweet breath; and as you depart, it never leaves you, but your clothes retain that scent for a long time, and you shall remember it forever.
31 - And within, the temple is not a single room, but in it is another chamber, and another ramp up which is quite short. That chamber does not have doors, but on the front it is completely open. All enter into the large temple, but into the little chamber only priests go, and not all the priests, but only they who are closest to the Gods and who govern all the service of the temple. And in that chamber are enthroned the idols; one is Hera [Atargatis] and that other is Zeus although they call him by another name.
The other name, the right one, is Hadad, or Ramman, god of lightning and of waters (rains and floods), known from very early times to the Semites, to the Mitani under the name Teshub, and to the Hittites, upon whose monuments he is conspicuous, with axe and thunderbolts for attributes. He underlies not only Jupiter Heliopolitanus but Jupiter Dolichenus.
Both are of gold, and both are seated, but lions bear Hera [Atargatis], and the god sits on bulls.
Lucian’s statement is borne out by the coins. Atargatis is seen sometimes riding on a lion, sometimes enthroned between two of them; Hadad (not Baal Kevan) is seated between two oxen. “On an inscription from North Syria (eighth century) Hadad has horns, and with this agrees the association of the bull with the god . . . we may conjecture that the small heads of bulls unearthed by the excavations are connected with his worship” (Cook, 90; cf. Schrader-Zimmern, p. 778). Compare Tobit, 1,5. The lion appears also in connection with Ata, with “Qadesh,” who stands upon a lion in an Egyptian representation of her, and with several Babylonian deities, as well as with Cybele.
Certainly the statue of Zeus resembles Zeus in every respect, such as head and garments and throne; and you would not liken him unto anything else, even if you wanted to.
32 - But when you look upon Hera [Atargatis], she presents great diversity of details; for although the whole could truly be considered Hera [Atargatis], nonetheless it contains something of Athena, Aphrodite, Selena, Rhea [Kybele], Artemis, Fortune [Nemesis] and Parcae [Moirai] [The Fates].
Compare Plutarch, Crassus, 17, 6: “And the first warning sign came to him from this very goddess, whom some call Venus, others Juno, while others still regard her as the natural cause which supplies from moisture the beginnings and seeds of everything, and points out to mankind the source of all blessings. For as they were leaving her temple (where, Plutarch says, he had been taking an inventory of the treasures, first the younger Crassus stumbled and fell at the gate, and then his father fell over him.” The identification with Aphrodite, which occurs on inscriptions from Delos, is due to her Astarte side; to Lucian in this case it is of course particularly suggested by the famous cestus. What suggested the other goddesses is not clear to me in the case of Athena or of Nemesis; the rays indicate Selene, the distaff Artemis, and the scepter the Parcae, or Moirai (Fates).
For in one hand she holds a scepter, and in that other a distaff; and on her head she bears rays, and a tower, and that cestus/girdle with which men array Celestial Aphrodite alone. And about her she has more gold and costly gems, some white, some watery, many like wine, and many like fire; and there are sardonyx without number and beryls [yakinthos/jacinth] [sapphires] and emeralds. These stones are brought by men of Egypt and India and Ethiopia and Mede and Armenia and Babylon. But I shall advise you of a thing that is worth more to speak of. She bears on her head a stone that is called Lamp [a ruby light] and named after that which it does. That stone shines in the night with great clarity and illumines all the temple, just as if it were a lamp. In the day its glow is feeble but it still has quite a fiery aspect.
And there is another marvel in that idol. If you stand opposite and look directly at her, she looks straight at you, and if you move, her gaze follows you; nonetheless, if another beholds her from the other side, she does just the same to him.
33 - Between the two stands a statue of gold, not in any way like the other statues, that has no character of its own but bears the qualities of the other gods.. And the Syrians themselves call it Token [semeion], for they have not given him any proper name; in truth they do not speak of its origins nor what manner of thing it is. But some attribute it to Dionysos, and others to Deukalion, and still others to Semiramis. Indeed, a dove of gold rests on his head, and so they say that it is a Sign of Semiramis. And twice each year it journeys to the Sea to fetch that water aformentioned.
It is clear from the passage in Melito quoted above that Lucian’s “token” (semeion) rests upon a misunderstanding of the name of a goddess, Simi, Simia, Semea . The name also figures in the Semiramis-Derketo myth, for the royal overseer is called Simmas. Note also that the figure has a dove on its head.
34 - In the temple itself on the left side in entering is first a throne of Helios the Sun, but no image of him sits thereon. For of Sun and Moon only they display no statues, and I learned why they follow this custom. They say it is lawful to make statues of other gods, because their shapes are not visible to all. But Sun and Moon are completely visible and all behold them. So why make statues of things that appear in plain air.
35 - And quite near this throne is set a statue of Apollo, not like he is usually formed. For all others think of Apollo as young and form him as a youth, but these people alone display a statue of Apollo bearded. In doing this they pride themselves and reprove Greeks and all others who worship Apollo as a child. And they reason thus, for it seems to them great folly to make the forms of gods imperfect, and they consider youth imperfect. And here Apollo has another novelty; for they alone array him with clothing.
Apollo is Nebo, whose statue, bearded and clothed, erected at Kelach by Adad-Nirari III, son of Semiramis, may be seen at the British Museum. The inscription that it bears implores long life for Adad-Nirari, king of Assyria, and for Sammuramat, the Lady of the Palace. Nebo was highly favored by Semiramis, and also, in later days, by Antiochus Soter, who rebuilt his temple at Borsippa in 268 B.C. At Edessa, near Hieropolis, his worship continued until the coming of Christianity. Contemporary testimony to its existence at Hieropolis is furnished by Melito; see above, about Nebo. The statue at Hieropolis that we find described in Macrobius seems to be a later one; for though it was bearded and clothed, as in Lucian’s day, there was a calathus on the head, a spear topped with a little figure of Victory in the right hand, a flower in the left, a breastplate on his body, and over it a snaky aegis; also two eagles near by.
36 - Now of the wonders that he does I could say a great deal, but I will describe only what is most marvelous; and first I shall mention the oracle. There are many oracles among the Greeks, many among the Egyptians, some in Libya, and many, too, in Asia. But none of these speaks without priests or prophets; but this one moves by himself and by himself accomplishes his forecastings, the manner is just so. When he in willing to make predictions, first he moves on his throne, and the priests immediately lift him up; if they do not lift him, he sweats and moves even more. And while they carry him on their shoulders, he drives them, turning them in all directions and leaping from one to another. Finally the High Priest meets him and asks him all sorts of things; and if he does not want a thing done, he draws them backwards; but if he approves a thing, he drives the bearers forward just as if he were driving a chariot.
At Heliopolis, Jupiter Heliopolitanus, who had absorbed “Apollo,” gave oracles in much the same way . So also did Ammon at his great Libyan shrine (Siwa); the description of the procedure when Alexander consulted it, somewhat blind in itself, is clear in the light of these parallels. The ikon of the Virgin at Phaneromene, Salamis, is credited with similar powers do-day (Capps).
So they assemble the divine predictions, and without this rite they conduct no business, neither religious nor mundane. And he speaks of the year and of its seasons, even if they do not ask; and he speaks of the “Sign”,
37 - when it should go on that journey aforesaid. And I shall tell you another wonder which he did in my own presence. When the priests were lifting him up to carry him, he left them down on the earth and flew in the air all by himself.
38 - There behind Apollo is a statue of Atlas, and behind that, of Hermes and one of Lucina [Eileithyia].
This is very likely the same triad of Semitic deities under another set of names, and in slightly different manifestations. For Atlas I would suggest Hadaranes, who according to Melito was worshipped here; a sign of the Zodiac would have sufficed to suggest the supporter of the heavens. Hermes should be Nebo at bottom, because that planet is the planet of Nebo; but the Heliopolitan Mercury who took the place of the Hieropolitan Apollo-Nebo in the triad is thought to have been called Simios. Eileithyia (Lucina), the helper in childbirth, is Myletta, though here they may not have called her by that name.
39 - Now have I advised you how the temple is arranged within. Outside stands a great altar of bronze, and near by are other statues of kings and priests without number; and I shall tell you of those that be most worthy of mention. At the left side of the temple stands a statue of Semiramis indicating the temple with her right hand, which was set up for this reason. She made a law for all who dwell in Syria that they should worship her as their goddess, doing nought for the other gods, including Hera [Atargatis] herself. And they did just so. But later, as much sickness and tribulations and pains were laid on her by the gods, she ceased of that folly and admitted that she was mortal and commanded all her subjects to turn again unto Hera [Atargatis]. Therefore she still stands like this, advising to all who come that they should worship Hera [Atargatis], confessing that she is no longer a goddess, but that other is.
[There may be some truth in this legend, for Semiramis actually received worship in Charchemish, just north of Hieropolis.]
40 - And I also saw there images of Helen and Hecuba and Andromache and Paris and Hector and Achilles. And I saw Nireos image, son of Aglaye, and Philomele and Procne, when they were still women, and Tereus himself as a bird, and another image of Semiramis, and of Kombabos who I spoke of, and a very beautiful image of Stratonike, and one of Alexander as if it were the very man, and there beside him stands Sardanapalle in unusual shape and unusual apparel. [That is, with the figure and clothing of a woman] 41 - And in the courtyard wander freely large bulls, horses, eagles, bears, and lions; and they do no harm to men, for everyone of them is holy and tame. [Sacred animals were a common feature of temple-closes in Greece]
42 - Numerous priests have been appointed for the inhabitants, some of whom slay the sacrificial animals, some bear the libations, some are called Fire-bearers, and some Altar Attendants. When I was there, more than 300 assembled for the sacrifice. They were clothed in completely white robes, and they had a pointed cap/pilos on their heads. Every year a new high priest is set over them, who alone wears a robe of purple and is crowned with a corona of gold.
43 - And there is another great multitude of
holy men, flute players, pipers, and Galloi, as well as women who are frenzied and out of their wits.
44 - Twice each day sacrifice is performed to which all come. To Zeus they sacrifice in silence, neither singing nor playing on the flute; but when they present offerings to Hera [Atargatis], then they sing and flute and shake rattles. And concerning this they could not tell me anything certain.45 - There is also a lake there, a little ways from the temple, in which holy fishes are raised, very numerous and of diverse kinds. Some of them are very large, and these have names and come when they are called. And when I was there, amongst them was one that was golden. On his fin was fastened a jewel of gold; and often times I saw him, and he always had that decoration.
“At Hierapolis in Syria, in the lake of Venus, they (the fish) obey the spoken commands of the aeditui; when called, they come with their golden ornaments; they show affection and let themselves be tickled (adulantes acalpuntur), and they open their mouths for people to put in their hands.” According to Aelian (Nat. Hist. 12, 2) they swan in regular formation, and had leaders. The pond still exists, but the fish are no more. There were similar ponds at Ascalon, Edessa, and Smyrna; The custom was transmitted to modern times.
46 - The depth of that lake is very deep. I did not test it, but they say that it is much more than 200 fathoms/1200 feet deep; and in its middle stands an altar of stone. At first glance, you would believe that it floated and drifted upon the water, and many actually think it is so; but I think that a great pile put underneath bears up the altar. And it is always decorated with garlands and has incense burning, and many swimming over to it each day to fulfill a vow they have made, bringing garlands.
Gruppe connects this “Floating” island with the holy island of Tyre, the floating island of Chemmis in the swamps of Buto, and with the Greek stories of Delos and Patmos.
47 - At that spot are wonderful great festivals take place, called Descents to the Lake, because on these occasions all the sacred objects go down to the lake. Among them Hera [Atargatis] comes first, because of the fish, for fear that Zeus see them first; for if this should happen, all the fish perish, they say. And truly he comes to see them, but she, standing before him, prevents him, and with many supplications sends him away.
“The rite of descending to the water (katábasis, Semitic yerid) was common all over Syria. Some scholars believe its purpose was to revive the water-sources and bring rain”
48 - Wonderful great also are the festivals that are customarily observed by the sea. Of those festivals I cannot say anything certain, because I neither attended myself nor did I attempt the pilgrimage. But what they do when they return, that I saw and shall describe to you. Everyone bears a vessel full of water, and these pots are sealed with wax. And they themselves do not break the seal to pour the water out; but there is a sacred Rooster, [not, according to Dussaud, a Gallus, but an overseer] that dwells near the lake; when he receives the vessels he inspects the seal, gets a fee for undoing the bond and removing the wax. and the Cock gathers much silver for this activity. Then they themselves bring the water into the temple and pour it out; and after this they perform sacrifice, and then they return home.
49 - But the greatest of all feasts I know of is kept in the beginning of summer, and some call it Fire Fest and some Torch Fest. During it they sacrifice like this. They cut down great trees and set them in the courtyard, and after, bringing goats, sheep and other livestock, they hang them alive from the trees, and in the trees are also birds, clothes, and gold and silver artifacts. And when they have made everything ready, they bear the sacred objects around the trees, and then they throw fire in and instantly everything burns up.
Baudissin knows no closer parallel than the Continental Mai-Feste, and thinks that, if the Syrian custom came down from the North, a community of origin is possible. Somewhat similar is the practice at Tarsos of erecting a pyre, setting on it an image of the god Sandan, and then burning it up. Frazer associates the two customs and ascribes their origin to the immolation of a human victim, the priest-king. For myself, I should like to know what became of the tree in the Attis-cult, that was cut down and brought into the temple, that the image of Attis might be tied to it. In the Gilgamesh Epic, Humbaba is posted by Bel as watcher of the cedars; and sacred trees still have offerings hung on them.
To this festival come many both from Syria and from all surrounding countries; and all bring their own holy things and all have their “Sign” made in imitation of the one here.
50 - And on set days the multitude assembles in the sanctuary, and many Galloi and the religious men that I spoke of perform their ceremonies; and they cut their own arms and beat one another on the back.
And many stand there playing flutes and beating timbrels, and others sing inspired and holy songs. This is done outside the temple, and they who perform it do not come into the temple.
51 - And on these days Galloi are made. For while the rest are playing flutes and performing their rites, frenzy soon enters into many, and many there are who just came to watch who subsequently perform the act. I shall describe what they do. The young man whom Fortune has given to do this casts off his clothing and rushes into the center with a great shout, and takes up a sword, which has stood there many years for this purpose, I believe. Then he immediately castrates himself and runs through the City bearing in his hands those parts he has cut off. And from whatever house into which he shall cast these, he gets female clothing and womanly adornments. Thus they do when they castrate themselves.
52 - And Galloi at their death are not interred like other men, but when a Gallos dies, his companions lift him up and carry him to the outskirts of the City and set down the man himself and the bier on which they brought him, and cast stones upon him; and when this task is done, they go home again.
And they wait for a period of seven days before they enter the temple; for if they enter before, they commit a sacrilege. And the customs that they follow are these. If anyone of them should see a corpse, he does not enter the sanctuary that day; but on the next day, after he has purified himself, then he enters. And those who are the dead mans kin wait for 30 days then shave their heads before they enter.
54 They sacrifice bulls and cows and goats and sheep. Swine alone they neither sacrifice nor eat because they consider them unclean.
Elagabalus, by way of sportula, gave away all manner of animals except pigs; “for he abstained from them by the law of the Phoenicians.” Suidas, s.v. Domninos alludes to the custom as Syrian, and Sophronius in the case of a girl from Damascus ascribes it to the worship of Adonis. “In Palestine and Syria the animal was used in certain exceptional sacrifices which were recognized as idolatrous and it was an open question whether it was really polluted or holy.” There was similar uncertainty in Egypt. Lucian is perhaps thinking of the pig as holy in connection with the Eleusinian mysteries, and Demeter worship generally. It was holy also in Crete, and apparently in Babylon (Ninib)
But other men deem them not unclean but holy. And among birds the dove seems to them a wonderful holy thing, and they are not inclined so much as to touch them; and if they should touch them in spite of themselves, they are unclean for that day. Therefore doves live among them and enter their houses and often gather food on the floor.
“In Syria by the sea is a city named Ascalon. . . . I saw there an impossible number of doves at the crossways and about every house. When I asked the reason, they said it was not permissible to catch them; for the inhabitants, from a remote period, had been forbidden to enjoy them. So tame is the creature through security that it always lives not only under the same roof with man but at the same table, and abuses its immunity.”
Pilgrims to the Holy City
55 - And I shall tell you what each pilgrim does. When someone will fare to the Holy City for the first time, he shaves his head and his eyebrows; after that, he sacrifices a sheep, then he carves it and eats it all except the fleece which he lays on the earth and then kneels on it, and takes the animal’s feet and head and puts upon his own head. Like this he prays, asking that this present sacrifice be accepted and promising a greater one the next time.
And when all this is finished, he puts a garland on his own head and on the heads of his fellows that will make that same pilgrimage. Then leaving his own country he makes the journey; and he uses cold water both for bathing and drinking, sleeping always on the earth; for he may not lie in any kind of bed until his pilgrimage is fulfilled and he returns to his own country.
56 - And in the Holy City a host who he does not really know receives him. For certain men there are appointed to act as hosts for every city, and many families inherit this duty. And Syrians call those men Masters because they teach the pilgrims everything.
57 - And the sacrifices are not performed in the temple, but when the pilgrim has presented the sacrificial animal before the altar and has poured a libation, he leads the animal back alive to his lodging, and when he arrives there he sacrifices it and prays by himself.
58 - There is also this other manner of sacrifice. They decorate the sacrificial animals with garlands and hurl them down the steps of the entry alive, and they die of the falling. And some men drop their own children from there, but not in the same manner as the animals. They lie them on a pallet and lower them down by hand, and they mock them as they do this, saying that they are not children but oxen.
59 - And all pilgrims mark themselves, some on the wrist and some on the neck; and for this reason all Syrians bear marks.
Lucian probably means tattooing, although actual branding was practised on occasion. “Some are afflicted with such an extravagancy of madness that, leaving themselves no room for a change of mind, they embrace slavery to the works of human hands, admitting it in writing, not upon sheets of papyrus as the custom is in the case of human chattels, but by branding it upon their bodies with a heated iron with a view to its indelible permanency; for even time does not fade these letters”
60 - And they do another thing, in which they resemble only the people of Troezen among the Greeks, and I shall tell you what the