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

Astarte (from Greek Ἀστάρτη, Astártē, Ishtar[1] or Ashtart) is the Greek form of the name of a goddess as known from Northwestern Semitic regions, cognate in name, origin and functions with the goddess Ishtar in Mesopotamian texts. The Phoenician is 𐤕𐤓𐤕𐤔𐤏 ‘Ashtart; other names for the goddess include Hebrew עשתרת (transliterated Ashtoreth), Ugaritic 𐎓𐎘𐎚𐎗𐎚 ‘ṯtrt (also ‘Aṯtart or ‘Athtart (sometimes confused with another goddess, transliterated Atirat, also known as Asherah), Akkadian 𒀭𒊍𒁯𒌓 DAs-tar-tú (also Astartu) and Etruscan 𐌖𐌍𐌉 𐌀𐌔𐌕𐌛𐌄 Uni-Astre (Pyrgi Tablets).

According to scholar Mark S. Smith, Astarte may be the Iron Age (after 1200 BC) incarnation of the Bronze Age (to 1200 BC) Asherah.[2]

Contents

General discussion

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.

Astarte was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte's greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite's most common byname.

Other major centers of Astarte's worship were Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. At Beirut coins show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.

Other faith centers were Cytherea, 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.

Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of Astarte from Tutugi (Galera) near Granada in Spain dating to the 6th or 7th century BC in which Astarte sits on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her breasts which are pierced. A hollow in the statue would have been filled with milk through the head and gentle heating would have melted wax plugging the holes in her breasts, producing an apparent miracle when the milk emerged.

The Syrian goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ‘Atar‘atah) was generally equated with Astarte and the first element of the name appears to be related to the name Astarte.

Astarte in Ugarit

Astarte appears in Ugaritic texts under the name ‘Athtart', but is little mentioned in those texts. ‘Athtart and ‘Anat together hold back Ba‘al from attacking the other deities. Astarte also asks Ba‘al to "scatter" Yamm "Sea" after Ba‘al's victory. ‘Athtart is called the "Face of Ba‘al".

Astarte in Egypt

Astarte first appears in Ancient Egypt beginning in the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt along with other deities who were worshipped by northwest Semitic people. She was worshipped especially in her aspect of 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 in marriage 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 (ie. Melqart) and Astarte (though he notes some instead call the Queen Saosis or Nemanūs, which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to the Greek name Athenais).

Astarte described by Sanchuniathon

In the description of the Phoenician pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon Astarte appears as a daughter of Sky and Earth and sister of the God El. After El overthrows and banishes his father Sky, as some kind of trick Sky sends to El his "virgin daughter" Astarte along with her sisters Asherah and the goddess who will later be called Ba`alat Gebal, "the Lady of Byblos". It seems that this trick does not work as all three become wives of their brother El. Astarte bears to El children who appear under Greek names as seven daughters called the Titanides or Artemides and two sons named Pothos "Longing" and Eros "Desire".

Later we see, with El's consent, Astarte and Hadad reigning over the land together. Astarte, puts the head of a bull on her own head to symbolize Her sovereignty. Wandering through the world Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky (meteorite) and consecrates it at Tyre.

Astarte in Judea

The Masoretic pointing in the Hebrew Tanach (bible) indicate the pronunciation as ʻAštōreṯ instead of the expected ʻAštereṯ, probably because the two last syllables have here been pointed with the vowels belonging to bōšeṯ "abomination" to indicate that word should be substituted when reading. The plural form is pointed ʻAštārōṯ.

For what seems to be the use of the Hebrew plural form ʻAštārōṯ as the name of a demon, see also Astaroth.

Astarte, or ʻAštōreṯ in Hebrew, was the principal goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. She was a lunar goddess and was adopted by the Egyptians as a daughter of Ra or Ptah.

In Jewish mythology, She is referred to as Ashtoreth, supposedly interpreted as a female demon of lust in Hebrew monotheism. The name Asherah may also be confused with Ashtoreth, but is probably a different goddess.

Literary references

Came ASTORETH, whom the PHOENICIANS call'd
ASTARTE, Queen of Heav'n, with crescent Horns;
To whose bright Image nightly by the Moon
SIDONIAN Virgins paid their Vows and Songs,
In SION also not unsung, where stood
Her Temple on th' offensive Mountain [the Mount of Olives], built
By that uxorious King [Solomon], whose heart though large,
Beguil'd by fair Idolatresses, fell
To Idols foul.

Other associations

Some sources claim that the Greek goddess Aphrodite (especially in her aspect as Aphrodite Erycina) is another name for Astarte. Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world's largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities.

Her name is the second name in an energy chant sometimes used in Wicca: "Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna." [1]

References

  1. ^ Ishtar from Flickr.com
  2. ^ Smith, Mark S (2002), The early history of God : Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel (2nd ed.), Grand Rapids WI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., ISBN 080283972X  
  • Donald Harden, The Phoenicians (2nd ed., revised, London, Penguin 1980). ISBN 0-14-021375-9
  • G. Daressy, Statues de divinités, (CGC 38001-39384), vol. II (Cairo, Imprimerie de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1905).
  • Gerd Scherm, Brigitte Tast Astarte und Venus. Eine foto-lyrische Annäherung (Schellerten 1996), ISBN 3-88842-603-0.

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Wiktionary

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Etymology

From Ancient Greek Αστάρτη (Astártē).

Proper noun

Singular
Astarte

Plural
-

Astarte

  1. A Semitic goddess of fertility, sexuality, and war. Name is derived from known from Northwestern Semitic regions, and is cognate in name, origin and functions with the goddess Ishtar in Mesopotamian texts.

Anagrams


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Ashtoreth article)

From BibleWiki

The moon goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the passive principle in nature, their principal female deity; frequently associated with the name of Baal, the sun-god, their chief male deity (Jdg 10:6; 1Sam 7:4; 1Sam 12:10). These names often occur in the plural (Ashtaroth, Baalim), probably as indicating either different statues or different modifications of the deities. This deity is spoken of as Ashtoreth of the Zidonians. She was the Ishtar of the Accadians and the Astarte of the Greeks (Jer 44:17; 1 Kg 11:5, 1 Kg 11:33; 2Kg 23:13). There was a temple of this goddess among the Philistines in the time of Saul (1Sam 31:10). Under the name of Ishtar, she was one of the great deities of the Assyrians. The Phoenicians called her Astarte. Solomon introduced the worship of this idol (1 Kg 11:33). Jezebel's 400 priests were probably employed in its service (1 Kg 18:19). It was called the "queen of heaven" (Jer 44:25).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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