Reference Entry

Syrian deities

Edited by John Roberts

in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780192801463
Published online January 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191727061
Syrian deities

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Almost all the deities worshipped in Greek and Roman Syria were Semitic. In spite of regional differences, a few main types of cult can be distinguished. The largest group consists of deities in human form. These are often divinities of agriculture and fertility, of the sky and thunder; they may be protectors, or bringers of military and commercial success; they may represent the sun, moon, or stars. Annual death and resurrection occur in some cults. Most characteristic of Syrian religion were the ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’, the Baʾal and his consort the Baʾalat, pairs of deities who could take many of the above‐mentioned forms. Each pair originally protected a Semitic tribe; when the tribe settled, the divine pair were regarded as owning the tribal territory, and sometimes their influence spread beyond it. Babylonian astrologers, the ‘Chaldaeans’ remained influential. In the Roman period, the Syrian deities were welded into one eternal and omnipotent power, manifest in the Sun....

Reference Entry.  236 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies

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