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Thread: Smiting gods in 12th century BC Canaanite temple

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    Smiting gods in 12th century BC Canaanite temple



    Not a big temple, apparently, but still interesting. They always liked a good smiter in that area; first Baal/El, then Yahweh. Can't have all been fertility goddesses, the latter of which the Hebrews didn't approve of at all!

    "During the middle and late Bronze Ages, the people of Lachish controlled large parts of the Judean lowlands and the city was among the foremost Canaanite cities in the Land of Israel. Mentioned in the Bible, Lachish was built around 1800 BCE and later destroyed by the Egyptians around 1550 BCE. The city rose and fell twice more, “succumbing for good around 1150 BCE,” according to the press release."

    "
    According to the press release, the compound was divided into a front area that was marked by two columns and two towers, which led into a large hall. From there, an inner sanctum was delineated by four supporting columns “and several unhewn ‘standing stones’ that may have served as representations of temple gods,” stated the press release. The two “standing stones” are quite large: the bigger of the pair measures 60 cm (some 23 inches) wide and 90 cm long (approximately 35 inches) and the smaller is also 60 cm wide and only 70 cm (nearly 28 inches) long.In a departure from the typical Canaanite temple structure, the compound also includes side rooms. “The presence of side rooms in that structure is one of the main points that has fueled the dispute over its characterization as a temple or a ceremonial palace,” write the authors. “It is possible that the addition of side rooms to a temple with ‘Syrian’ characteristics is a precursor of Iron Age temples like the temple of Motza and the biblical Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.” The schematic drawing illustrating the Levant article indicates there were some eight or nine areas to the large temple compound, including a “Holy of Holies.”"

    Sounds like Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which they acknowledge.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/rare-s...aanite-temple/


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    That area just loves their smiting gods, don't they? Who were they Romans gods pre-Greek contact?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsnake49 View Post
    That area just loves their smiting gods, don't they? Who where they Romans gods pre-Greek contact?
    I believe many of the Roman gods were original creations, but they subsequently got associated with Greek gods; Minerva and Athena for instance. Greek culture just over powered the Roman. I think Mars was originally a Roman god of agriculture and only later became a war god, like Ares. I've heard that Janus was purely Roman, though perhaps actually based on an Etruscan god.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    The Romans had a smiting god too. All the Indo-European cultures had one, usually a sky god, the god of thunder and lightning, like Jupiter with his thunderbolt. In the Near East it was Baal/El, then Yahweh.

    One very important difference in Rome was the devotion to the Lares, the household gods, worshipped at a little altar in every Roman home. They were like the spirits of ancestors. I always liked the idea of that.

    I like the idea of Vesta too, the virgin goddess of the home, the family, the hearth. It was her fire in Rome which had to be tended day and night by priestesses.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum was Liber who was the original Roman god of the harvest and fertility, and at his rites blessing the crops they carried around a huge carving of a penis. He got superseded by Dionysius/Bacchus. The rites usually turned into orgies. The Jews hated this devotion as much as they hated the worship of Astarte in the Near East, with the temple prostitutes, male and female, the male ones usually having been emasculated.

    The two-faced god Janus was very important two, perhaps the most important, as the god of beginnings and endings and transitions.

    Then, of course, there was the god of the state, which caused so much trouble for the Jews and after them the Christians, because as a sign of loyalty to the state you had to give him offerings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    One very important difference in Rome was the devotion to the Lares, the household gods, worshipped at a little altar in every Roman home. They were like the spirits of ancestors. I always liked the idea of that.
    I also quite like the idea of the Lares. It sounds more cozy, lol, I mean, a more personal and familial relationship with the spiritual world. But I wonder: did the ancient Romans see the Lares as some kind of spiritual ancestors of themselves or as divine entities totally apart from them (or superior to them), but just guardians?

    At the opposite end of the spectrum was Liber who was the original Roman god of the harvest and fertility, and at his rites blessing the crops they carried around a huge carving of a penis. He got superseded by Dionysius/Bacchus. The rites usually turned into orgies.
    I have a hard time reconciling such a traditional society for women (women as obedient daughters, chaste girls, dutiful wives) with the idea of orgies as a public religious thing. Who participated in those orgies? Were only married couples having sex in them or something (at least originally)?

    Then, of course, there was the god of the state, which caused so much trouble for the Jews and after them the Christians, because as a sign of loyalty to the state you had to give him offerings.
    Who was this god of the state? The state itself as a personalized entity?

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I think Roman religion was sort of a series of ever widening circles: individual, household, both slave and free, family, gens or clan, associations or comitae, and the state. Then there was constant interaction between the spheres.

    This is a bit like polytheism run amok to me, although someone else could see it as rich and varied. You were just swimming in a sea of gods.

    This article explains the Lares and Penates really well.
    "Lares were considered spirits of the dead who had become divine, and they guarded homes, crossroads, and the city. Every Roman family had its own guardian, known as the Lar familiaris (pronounced lar-fuh-mil-ee-YAHR-iss), to protect the household and ensure that the family line did not die out. Each morning Romans prayed and made offerings to an image of the Lar familiaris kept in a family shrine. Deities known as Lares compitales (pronounced LAIR-eez kom-puh-TAY-leez), who guarded crossroads and neighborhoods, were honored in a festival called the Compitalia. Another group of deities, the Lares praestites (pronounced LAIR-eez pree-STYE-teez), served as the guardians of the city of Rome.

    The Penates, originally honored as gods of the pantry, eventually became guardians of the entire household. They were associated with Vesta, the goddess of the hearth or household fireplace. The main function of the Penates was to ensure the family's welfare and prosperity. The public Penates, or Penates publici, served as guardians of the state and the object of Roman patriotism. According to legend, they were once the household gods of Aeneas (pronounced i-NEE-uhs), the mythical founder of the Roman Empire."

    Then, individual members of the family might have a favorite god from the larger pantheon, and a cult object of that god could also be in the household shrine.

    There's a famous passage by Cicero in "The Laws" where he recounts how upset he was when one of his enemies in the wars took over his home and destroyed his family shrine. On top of that, the interloper erected a shrine on the property to Liber, which horrified Cicero and insured he'd never live there again.

    Which brings us to Liber/Libera. The god/goddess, but more "god", was a holdover from very ancient, rustic times. It played the same function as devotion to the mother goddess in Near Eastern religion, i.e. Ashtarte and others. I don't know whether it was the Indo-European influence, but from my readings about it years ago it seemed and seems to me that the early "Romans" slapped a male name on what in the Near East was a female centered devotion, and also controlled the expression of it. The real intensity in fertility worship became associated with Dionysus/Bacchus in terms of a male fertility figure, and female fertility religion seems more pronounced to me with the importation of foreign female fertility figures from the Near East like Cybele, a gruesome goddess imo, and others like her.

    March 17th was the Liberalia festival, and in keeping with this, it was when boys received their togas as a sign of initiation into male adulthood, like a bar mitzvah, I suppose. :) Interestingly, in addition to being the god of the vines, and wine, and fertility, which is why he was later conflated with Dionysus/Bacchus by many although not all Romans , he was one of the patron gods of the Plebs, and was associated with increasing rights and privileges to be granted to the plebs. It makes sense; liber means free, and he was called Father Freedom. It wouldn't be the first time that sexual freedom and political freedom are sought at the same time, i.e. the sixties. The other two gods of the Plebs were Libera, the female version of Liber, and Ceres, who is again a fertility goddess.

    I've sometimes wondered if the plebs kept more of the old fertility worship because they were more "local" in ancestry, but I have no evidence for that.

    Or it may be that Liber/Libera and Ceres worship were more connected to Magna Graecia. Some scholars do think so:

    "
    Pliny the Elder describes the Aventine Triad's temple as designed by Greek architects, and typically Greek in style; no trace remains of it, and the historical and epigraphical record offers only sparse details to suggest its exact location, but Pliny's description may be further evidence of time-honoured and persistent plebeian cultural connections with Magna Graecia, well into the Imperial era. Vitruvius recommends that Liber's temples follow an Ionic Greek model, as a "just measure between the severe manner of the Doric and the tenderness of the Corinthian," respectful of the deity's part-feminine characteristics.[28]"

    That's from Wiki, but this is the paper:
    Joseph Rykwert, The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1996, p.237.

    The rights were like the Dionysian ones or any fertility cult. It seems that as in Greek religion maybe it served as a safety valve, controlled by the larger society. This is one
    example:
    "
    His temples held the image of a phallus; in Lavinium, this was the principal focus for his month-long festival, when according to St. Augustine, the "dishonourable member" was placed "on a little trolley" and taken in procession around the local crossroad shrines, then to the local forum for its crowning by an honourable matron. The rites ensured the growth of seeds and repelled any malicious enchantment (fascinatus) from fields.[20

    As for who participated, as in Greece, heads of households wanted to believe that as far as women were concerned, they were slaves or freedwomen, but feared their honorable wives might sneak out.
    Have you ever read the play "The Bacchae" by Euripides? It's a magnificent tragedy which begins with Dionysius driving all of his female relatives into an ecstatic frenzy. Yet, Greek society was even more rigid in its societal control of women than the Italic societies.

    When this worship got out of hand in 186 B.C., the "establishment" was ruthless in bringing it under control, probably for political as well as sexual control reasons. Livy of course blamed it on the Greeks, but that's not true as Liber was an old god. The worship during his festivals might have gotten progressively "wilder", however.

    "
    The cult was officially represented as the workings of a secret, illicit state within the Roman state, a conspiracy of priestesses and misfits, capable of anything. Bacchus himself was not the problem; like any deity, he had a right to cult. Rather than risk his divine offense, the Bacchanalia were not banned outright. They were made to submit to official regulation, under threat of ferocious penalties: some 6,000 persons are thought to have been put to death. The reformed Bacchic cults bore little resemblance to the crowded, ecstatic and uninhibited Bacchanalia: every cult meeting was restricted to five initiates and each could be held only with a praetor's consent. Similar attrition may have been imposed on Liber's cults; attempts to sever him from perceived or actual associations with the Bacchanalia seems clear from the official transference of the Liberalia ludi of 17 March to Ceres' Cerealia of 12–19 April. Once the ferocity of official clampdown eased off, the Liberalia games were officially restored, though probably in modified form.[5] Illicit Bacchanals persisted covertly for many years, particularly in Southern Italy, their likely place of origin.[14][15]"

    This is getting too long. I'll discuss the gods of the state in the next post.

    I'll bet you're sorry you asked. :)

    One final thing, though. When you study the development of Roman religion and culture, the progressive influence of Magna Graecia on it is inescapable, and it always seemed to me that as that influence spread up the peninsula, genes likely spread as well, as it's possible we see it with R437 and R850. No need for a late empire infusion necessarily.


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    The original "state" god was Quirinus, a Sabine war god. The Sabines had a shrine to him on the Quirinal Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, so when "Latins" absorbed the area they absorbed the god too. The name means something like oaken spear.

    He was one of the gods in the Capitoline Triad, in contrast to the Aventine Triad of the Plebs. The other two were Jupiter, the "smiter" extraordinaire, and Mars, then a god of agriculture.

    Sometimes he was conflated with the god Janus.

    Quirinus also soon was conflated with Romulus and Aeneas, and showed all the hallmarks of the hero god myth of the adventurer who goes out on a quest, undergoes great suffering, goes to the underworld, and is reborn to bring his wisdom back to his people. I used to think and still do that this all was an accretion from the East again, perhaps via Magna Grecia. Like Osiris, the Egyptian version, he is dismembered and buried at the corners of the kingdom to bring fruitfulness. As part of that, Quirinus/Romulus is associated with spelt. He was worshiped during the fornacalia, or festival of the oven/baking, with burnt spelt offerings.

    The similarity to the Christ story is clear. According to my theology professor, they were all pre-visions of Christ.

    Frazer discusses all of this in his magnum opus "The Golden Bough" (available in a condensed although still huge book), and is discussed over and over again by Joseph Campbell in his numerous books on mythology.

    As time passed, eastern gods and goddesses took over the hero/heroine role and that kind of mythological journey, as in Dionysus/Bacchus, Isis/Osiris, Cybele, and Mithras.

    The "state" function was taken over by Jupiter, and then even by the cults of the emperors, and sometimes even a disembodied rather abstract "Roma".

    At the same time, there was a Lares of Rome, and state functions were marked by ceremonies and rituals to the Roman gods.

    This wasn't a problem for anyone except the Jews, and their spiritual descendants, the Christians.

    "In Caligula's reign, Jews resisted the placing of Caligula's statue in their Temple, and pleaded that their offerings and prayers to Yahweh on his behalf amounted to compliance with his request for worship.[222] According to Philo, Caligula was unimpressed because the offering was not made directly to him (whether to his genius or his numen is never made clear) but the statue was never installed. Philo does not challenge the Imperial cult itself: he commends the god-like honours given Augustus as "the first and the greatest and the common benefactor" but Caligula shames the Imperial tradition by acting "like an Egyptian".[223] However, Philo is clearly pro-Roman: a major feature of the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66) was the ending of Jewish sacrifices to Rome and the Emperor and the defacement of imperial images.[224]After the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (and most of the city) in the first Jewish revolt, Hadrian rebuilt both in Greek style, dedicated the rebuilt Temple (in Dio's account) to Jupiter, renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and sought a ban on circumcision as impious disfigurement. The ensuing Bar Kokhba revolt overwhelmed the Roman military occupation and destabilised much of the Empire. For almost three years, Judea was an independent state, led by the messianic commander Simon Bar Kokhba. Then it was obliterated by the Imperial armies and erased from the Roman map – Hadrian renamed it as Syria Palaestina.[225]

    Hadrian's restrictions on Judaism were later relaxed and Jewish exemption from the full obligations of Imperial cult proved a source of suspicion and resentment for Hellenists and Christians alike.[226]"

    "To pagan Romans a simple act of sacrifice, whether to ancestral gods under Decius or state gods under Diocletian, represented adherence to Roman tradition and loyalty to the pluralistic unity of the Empire. Refusal to adhere to the cult was treason. Christians, however, identified "Hellenistic honours" as parodies of true worship.[227][228] Under the reign of Nero or Domitian, according to Momigliano, the author of the Book of Revelation represented Rome as the "Beast from the sea", Judaeo-Roman elites as the "Beast from the land" and the charagma (official Roman stamp) as a sign of the Beast.[229] Some Christian thinkers perceived divine providence in the timing of Christ's birth, at the very beginning of the Empire that brought peace and laid paths for the spread of the Gospels; Rome's destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple was interpreted as divine punishment of the Jews for their refusal of the Christ.[230] With the abatement of persecution Jerome could acknowledge Empire as a bulwark against evil but insist that "imperial honours" were contrary to Christian teaching.[231]


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperi...f_ancient_Rome

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