Reference Entry

Syrian deities

in The Oxford Classical Dictionary

Fourth edition

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199545568
Published online December 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191735257
Syrian deities

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Almost all the deities worshipped in Greek and Roman *Syria were Semitic, ancient near eastern in origin. Despite considerable regional differences, a few main types of cult can be distinguished: (i) cults of high places, of waters and springs, of trees and of stones, especially meteorites (these often associated with Arabian cultural contacts); (ii) close associations between some animals and certain anthropomorphic deities—particularly the bull, lion, horse, camel, snake, dove, and fish; (iii) cults of deities in human form. The last type forms the majority and the deities often represent agriculture and fertility, the sky and thunder; they may be family or tribal patrons and protectors, or bringers of military and commercial success; they may represent the sun, moon, or stars. The ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’, the Ba ῾al and his consort the Ba ῾alat (or El and Elat), formed pairs of deities who originally protected a particular tribe or territory....

Reference Entry.  685 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies

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