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Greece and Babylon 

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Indebtedness of primitive Greek religion to Mesopotamian 
influences Various kinds of evidence to be considered : 
Texts and Monuments of Mesopotamia, Syria, Canaan, 
Hittite Kingdom, Asia-Minor coast, Minoan-Mycenaean 
area Necessity of determining when the North- Aryan 
tribes entered Greece, and what they brought with them 
Influences from Mesopotamia on Greece of the second 
millennium at least not direct Precariousness of theory of 
religious borrowing Special lines that the inquiry will 
pursue ....... 29 


Distinction between nature religions and ethical religions 
unsound The degree of personality in the cult-objects 
a better criterion The earliest system known in Mesopo- 
tamia a polytheism with personal deities, but con- 
taining certain products of animism and polydaimonism 
Other Semitic and non-Semitic peoples of Asia Minor, 
the Minoan-Mycenaean races, the earliest Greek tribes, 
already on the plane of personal theism in the second 
millennium B.C. . . . . .40 



Mesopotamian religious conception generally anthropomorphic, 
but the anthropomoiphism " unstable " Theriomorphic 



features, especially of daimoniac powers Mystic imagina- 
tion often theriomorphic Individuality of deities some- 
times indistinct Female and male sometimes fused The 
person becomes the Word Similar phenomena in other 
Semitic peoples Theriolatry more prominent in Hittite 
religion, though anthropomorphism the prevalent idea 
The Minoan- Mycenaean religion also mainly anthro- 
pomorphic The evidence of theriolatry often misinter- 
preted The proto-Hellenic religion partly theriomorphic 
Some traces of theriolatry even in later period, in spite 
of strong bias towards anthropomorphism . . . 



Importance of the phenomenon in the history of religions 
In Mesopotamia and other Semitic regions the chief deity 
male, except Astarte at Sidon Evidence from Hittite 
kingdoms doubtful, but at points on the Asia-Minor coast, 
such as Ephesos, and notably in Phrygia, the supremacy 
of the goddess well attested The same true on the whole 
of Cretan religion The earliest Hellenes, like other Aryan 
communities, probably inclined to exalt the male deity, 
and did not develop the cult of Virgin goddesses There- 
fore Athena and Artemis probably pre-Hellenic . . 81 


Shamash the sun-god derives his personal character from the 
nature-phenomenon ; but the Babylonian deities develop 
their personality independently of their nature-origin, 
which is often doubtful Importance of Sin, the moon-god 
Star-worship in Babylonian cult No clear recognition of 
an earth-goddess Tammuz a vegetation-power Western 
Canaanites worship nature-deities in the second millennium, 
probably with moral attributes The Hittites a thunder- 
god and corn-god The Phrygians a mother-goddess of the 
earth and lower world On the whole, pre-Homeric Hellas 
worships ethical personalities rather than nature-powers 
Distinguished from Mesopotamia by comparative insig- 
nificance of solar, lunar, astral cults Also by the great 
prominence of the earth-goddess and the association of 




The religious origin of the city Slight evidence from Mesopo- 
tamia, more from early Greece Early Mesopotamian king- 
ship of divine type The king inspired and occasionally 
worshipped The Hittite monuments show the divine 
associations of the king Proto-Hellenic kingship probably 
of similar character Social usages protected by religion 
in the whole of this area No family cult of the hearth 
at Babylon The code of Hammurabi Comparatively 
secular in its enactments concerning homicide Religious 
feeling perceptible in the laws concerning incest The 
legal system attached to religion at certain points, but on 
the whole, independent of it In early Hellas the religion 
an equally stiong social force, but many of its social 
manifestations different Religion tribal and "phratric" 
in Greece ; not so in Babylon Purification from blood- 
shed could not have been borrowed from Mesopotamia . 116 


The deity conceived on the whole as beneficent and righteous, 
but the divine destructive power more emphasised in 
Babylonia Every Babylonian deity moralised, not every 
Hellenic In both societies perjury a sin, untruthfulness 
only in Babylonian religious theory International mor- 
ality The ethics of the family very vital in both societies, 
but more complex in Babylonia Ritualistic tabus a 
heavier burden on the Babylonian conscience Morality 
more daimonistic than in Greece In the Babylonian con- 
fessional stress laid on unknown involuntary sin, hence 
tendency to pessimism In Greece less timidity of con- 
science, less prominence of magic Mercifulness a 
prominent divine attribute in both religions More pan- 
theistic thought and a clearer sense of the divinity of all 
life in Babylonian theology, as in the Tammuz-myth . 141 


Ritual purity generally demanded Babylonian mythology far 
purer than the Greek Character of Ishtar Virginity a 
divine attribute Mystic conception of a virgin-mother, 
the evidence examined in East and West . . .163 





Neither in Babylon nor Greece any clear and consistently main- 
tained dogma of divine omnipotence Yet the divinities 
collectively the strongest power in the universe No de- 
veloped theory of dualism The divine power combined with 
magic in Babylonia, but not in Greece No early Hellenic 
consciousness of the Word as a creative force The magic 
power of the divine name felt by the Hellenes, but not 
realised as a creative force Babylonian cosmogonies not 
traceable in the earliest Greek mythology, nor in Hcsiod, 
but the myth of Typhoeus probably from Babylonian 
sources Babylonian myths concerning creation of man 
not known in early Greece Organisation of the polytheism 
into divine groups Evidence of Trinitarian idea and of 
monotheistic tendency No proof here of Greek indebted- 
ness to Mesopotamia . . . . .173 



The i elation of the individual to the deity more intimate in 
Mesopotamia than in Greece The religious temper more 
ecstatic, more prone to self-abasement, sentimentality, 
rapture Humility and the fear of God ethical virtues 
in Babylonia The child named after the god in both 
societies In some Semitic communities the deity takes 
a title from the worshipperFanaticism in Mesopotamian 
religion, entire absence of it in the Hellenic . . . 190 



General resemblances between Mesopotamian and early 
Hellenic rites of tendance of dead Mesopotamian theory 
of the lower world gloomier The terror of the spectre 
stronger in the East than in the West ; yet both fear the 
miasma of the dead In both, the literary evidence clashes 
somewhat with the evidence from the graves Certain 
important differences in tendance of dead 'Water essential 
in later Babylonian, wine and the triple libation in early 
Hellenic Hero-cult strong in early Hellas, at least very 
rare in Mesopotamia Hellenic idea of re-incarnation not 



yet found in Babylonian records The evocation of ghosts, 
and the periodic meals with or in memory of the dead, 
common to both peoples General All Souls' festival But 
in Babylonia no popular belief in posthumous punishments 
and rewards The powers of the lower world more gloomy 
and repellent than in Hellas- No mysteries to develop the 
germs of a brighter eschatologic faith . . .204 


In the second millennium all Semitic communities had evolved 
the temple, and Babylonia the idol In Greece, temple- 
building was coming into vogue, but the cults still aniconic 
The pillar and the phallic emblem common in early 
Greece, very rare in Mesopotamia Sacrifice both in East 
and West of two types, the blood-sacrifice and the bloodless, 
but in Hellas vyfitiXia iepd in early vogue, not yet found 
in the East Incense unknown to the pre-Homeric Greeks 
The distinction between Chthonian and Olympian ritual 
not found at Babylon Communion-sacrifice and sacra- 
ment in early Greece, not found as yet in Mesopotamia 
Vicarious piacular sacrifice common to both regions, but 
human sacrifice rife in early Greece, not found in Meso- 
potamia Mystic use of blood in Greek ritual, immola- 
tion or expulsion of the scape-goat not yet discovered in 
Mesopotamia The death of the divinity in Babylonian 
ritual Mourning for Tammuz In other Semitic communi- 
ties In Hittite worship, Sandon of Tarsos Attis of Phrygia 
Emasculation in Phrygian ritual, alien to Babylonian as 
to Hellenic religious sentiment Death of divinity in Cretan 
ritual, and in Cyprus In genuine Hellenic religion, found 
only in agrarian hero-cults, such as Linos, Eunostos ; these 
having no connection with Tammuz Babylonian liturgy 
mainly a service of sorrow, Greek mainly cheerful A holy 
marriage at Babylon, on Hittite relief at Boghaz-Keui, 
in Minoan and Hellenic ritual A mortal the consort of 
divinity, an idea found in many races widely removed 
Greek evidence Consecrated women in Mesopotamia, two 
types Their functions to be distinguished from the conse- 
cration of virginity before marriage mentioned by Herodotus 
Other examples of one or the other of these customs in 
Asia Minor Various explanations of these customs offered 
by anthropology Criticism of different views Their 
religious significance Ritual of purification Cathartic 
use of water and fire Preservation of peace during public 
purification Points of agreement between Hellas and 


Babylonia Points of difference, Babylonian confessional 
Value of Homer's evidence concerning early Hellenic 
purification Babylonian magic in general contrast with 
Greek Astrologic magic Magic value of numbers, of the 
word Babylonian exorcism Magic use of images No 
severance in Mesopotamia between magic and religion 
Babylonian and Hellenic divination . . .221 





THE newly-elected holder of a University professorship or 
lectureship, before embarking on the course of special 
discussion that he has selected, may be allowed or 
expected to present some outlined account of the whole 
subject that he represents, and to state beforehand, if 
possible, the line that he proposes to pursue in regard 
to it. This is all the more incumbent on me, as I have 
the honour to be the first Wilde Lecturer in Natural 
and Comparative Religion the first, that is, who has 
been officially charged by the University to give public 
teaching in the most modern and one of the most 
difficult fields of study, one that has already borne 
copious fruit, and will bear more in the future. I 
appreciate highly the honour of such a charge, and I 
take this opportunity of expressing my deep sense of 
the indebtedness of our University and of all students 
of this subject to Dr. Wilde for his generous endow- 
ment of this branch of research, which as yet has only 
found encouragement in a few Universities of Europe, 
America, and Japan, I feel also the responsibility of 
my charge. Years of study have shown me the magnitude 
of the subject, the pitfalls that here more, perhaps, 


than in other fields beset the unwary, and the multi- 
plicity of aspects from which it may be studied. Having 
no predecessor, I cannot follow, but may be called upon 
rather to set, a precedent. 

One guidance, at least, I have namely, the expressed 
wishes of the founder of this post. He has formulated 
them in regard to Comparative Religion in such a way 
that I feel precluded, in handling this part of the whole 
field, from what may be called the primitive anthro- 
pology of religion. I shall not, therefore, deal directly 
with the embryology of the subject, with merely savage 
religious psychology, ritual, or institutions. It is not 
that I do not feel myself the fascination of these subjects 
of inquiry, and their inevitableness for one who wishes 
wholly to understand the whole of any one of the higher 

But we have in the University one accomplished 
exponent of these themes in Mr. Marett, and until 
recently we have been privileged to possess Professor 
Tylor ; and Dr. Wilde has made his wishes clear that 
the exposition of Comparative Religion should be mainly 
an elucidation and comparison of the higher forms and 
ideas in the more advanced religions. And I can 
cheerfully accept this limitation, as for years I have been 
occupied with the minute study of the religion of Greece, 
in which one finds much, indeed, that is primitive, even 
savage, but much also of religious thought and religious 
ethic, unsuspected by former generations of scholars, 
that has become a rich inheritance of our higher culture. 
He who wishes to succeed in this new field of arduous 
inquiry should have studied at least one of the higher 
religions of the old civilisation au fond, and he must 
have studied it by the comparative method. He may 
then make this religion the point of departure for wide 


excursions into outlying tracts of the more or less 
adjacent religious systems, and he will be the less likely 
to lose himself in the maze and tangle of facts if he 
can focus the varying light or doubtful glimmer they 
afford upon the complex set of phenomena with which 
he is already familiar. 

And the Greek religion serves better than any other 
that I know for such a point of departure, the influences 
being so numerous that radiated upon it. It had its 
own special inheritance, which it fruitfully developed, 
from the North, from its proto-Aryan past, and which 
we shall be able to define with greater clearness when 
comparative religion has done its work upon the religious 
records of the early Aryan peoples. Also, the Hellene 
had many intimate points of contact with earlier and 
alien peoples of the ancient Mediterranean culture whom 
he conquered and partly absorbed, or with whom he 
entered into intellectual or commercial relations. There- 
fore the religions of the Minoan Age, of the Anatolian 
peoples, of Egypt, and finally of Babylon and Persia, come 
inevitably to attract the student of the Hellenic. 

As far, then, as I can see at present, I may have to 
limit my attention in the lecture-courses of these three 
years during which I fill this post, to the phenomena of 
the Mediterranean area, and these are more than one 
man can thoroughly elucidate in a lifetime, as the 
manifold activity in various departments of this field, 
attested by the Transactions of our recent Congress of 
the History of Religions, will prove to those who read 
them. And I shall endeavour in the future to follow 
out one main inquiry through a short series of lectures, 
as this is the best method for a reasoned statement 
of consecutive thought. But I propose in this lecture 
to sketch merely in outlines the salient features of some 


of the religions of the Mediterranean area, and hope 
thereby to indicate the main problems which the 
student of comparative religion must try to solve, or 
the leading questions he must ask, and thus, perhaps, 
to be able to suggest to others as well as to myself 
special lines of future research and discussion. 

What, then, are the questions which naturally arise 
when we approach the study of any religion that has 
advanced beyond the primitive stage ? We wish to 
discover with definiteness what is the idea of divinity 
that it has evolved, in what forms and with what con- 
cepts this idea is expressed whether, for instance, 
the godhead is conceived as a vague " numen," or as 
a definite personality with complex character and 
functions, and whether it is imagined or presented 
to sense in anthropomorphic forms. 

The question whether the religion is monotheistic 
or polytheistic is usually answered at a glance, unless 
the record is unusually defective ; but in the case of 
polytheism careful inquiry is often needed to answer 
the other morphological questions that press them- 
selves upon us, whether the polytheism is an organised 
system of co-ordinated and subordinated powers or a 
mere medley of uncorrelated deities. If the former, 
whether the unifying tendency has developed in the 
direction of monotheism or pantheism. 

Again, the study of the attributes and functions 
ascribed and the titles attached to the deity will enable 
us to answer the questions concerning his relation to the 
world of Nature, to the social sphere of law, politics, 
and morality ; and in this quest we may hope to gain 
fruitful suggestions concerning the interaction of religion, 
social organisation, and ethics. We shall also wish to 
know whether the religion is dogmatic or not that is 


to say, whether it lays stress on precise theological 
definitions ; whether it claims to possess sacred books 
or a revelation ; whether it contains the idea of faith 
as a cardinal virtue. Further, it is always interesting 
to consider whether it has engendered a cosmogony, 
a theory of the cosmos, its origin, maintenance, and 
possible dissolution ; and whether it is instinctively 
favourable or antagonistic to the growth of the scientific 
spirit, to the free activity of the intellect ; and, finally, 
whether it gives prominence to the belief in the 
immortality of the soul and to the doctrine of posthumous 
rewards and punishments. 

There are also certain special questions concerning 
the nature and powers of the divinity that are found 
to be of importance. The distinction of sex in the 
anthropomorphic religions, the paramountcy of the god 
or the goddess, is observed to produce a singular effect 
in religious psychology, and may be associated with 
fundamental differences in social institutions, with the 
distinction, for instance, between a patrilinear and a 
matrilinear society. As regards the powers attributed 
to the divinity, we may endeavour to discern certain 
laws of progress or evolution in progressive societies 
an evolution, perhaps, from a more material to a more 
spiritual conception, or, again, from a belief in divinities 
finite and mortal to a dogma that infinity, omniscience, 
and immortality are their necessary attributes. On 
this line of inquiry we are often confronted with the 
phenomenon of the death of the god or goddess, and 
no single fact in the history of religions is of more 
interest and of more weight. Also, we frequently find 
an antagonism between malevolent and benevolent 
powers, whence may arise a philosophic conception of 
dualism in Nature and the moral world. 


There are, further, the questions concerning ritual, 
often very minute, but of none the less significance. 
What are the forms of worship, sacrifice, prayer, adora- 
tion ? As regards sacrifice, is it deprecatory merely, a 
bribe to avert wrath, or is it a gift to secure favour, or is 
it a token of friendly trust and affection, or a mystic act 
of communion which effects between the deity and the 
worshipper a temporary union of body and soul ? In 
the study of ritual we may consider the position of the 
priesthood, its power over the religion, and through the 
religion over the State, and the sources of that power. 

This enumeration of the problems is long, but I fear 
by no means exhaustive. I have not yet mentioned 
the question that may legitimately arise, and is the 
most perplexing of all that which is asked concerning 
the vital power and influence of a certain religion, its 
strength of appeal, its real control of the people's 
thoughts and acts. The question, as we know, is 
difficult enough when we apply it to modern societies ; 
it may be quite hopeless when applied to an ancient 
State. It is only worth raising when the record is 
unusually ample and varied, and of long continuity ; 
when we can believe that it enshrines the thoughts 
of the people, not merely of the priest or of the philo- 
sopher. We are more likely to believe this when the 
record is rich not only in literature, but in monuments. 

It may also be demanded that the history of religions 
should include a history of their decay, and, in his 
brilliant address at the recent Congress, Professor Petrie 
has formulated this demand as one that Egyptology 
might fulfil. Certainly it belongs to the scientific 
treatment of our subject to note the circumstances and 
operative causes that induced a certain people to abandon 
their ancestral beliefs and cults ; but whether from the 


careful study of each special case certain general laws 
will emerge by process of induction may be doubted. 
It will depend partly on the completeness of our records 
and our skill in their interpretation. 

I will conclude this sketch of an ideal programme, 
which I, as least, can never hope to make actual, with 
one last query Is it the main object of this comparative 
study to answer the inquiry as to the reciprocal influences 
of adjacent religions, to distinguish between the alien 
and the native elements in any particular system to 
estimate, for instance, what Greece owed to Babylon, 
to Egypt, to India ? Certainly the problem is proper 
to our province, is attractive, and even hopeful, and I 
have ventured to approach it myself. But I should 
hesitate to allow that it is the main one, and that the 
value of our study is to be measured by our success in 
solving it ; for, whatever answer we finally give to such 
questions, or if we abandon in despair the attempt to 
answer them precisely, it is none the less fruitful to 
compare the Babylonian, Indo-Iranian, Egyptian, and 
Hellenic systems of belief for instance, to consider 
the Orphic eschatology in relation to the Buddhistic, 
even if we reject the theory that Buddhistic influences 
could have penetrated into early Orphism. 

I will now sketch what I have perceived to be the 
higher elements or more developed features in Hellenic 
religion, and will consider in regard to each of these how 
it contrasts with or resembles the cults of the other 
leading peoples of this area. The Hellenic high divinity 
is, in the first place, no mere shadowy " numen," no 
vague spirit-power or semi-personal divine force, such 
as the old Roman belief often seems to present us with, 
nor is he usually conceived as a divine element immanent 
in certain things ; but he appears as a concrete personal 


individual of definite physical traits and complex 
moral nature. Vaguer and cruder ideas no doubt 
survived right through the historic period, and the 
primitive ancestor of the Hellene may once have lived in 
the religious phase of thought in which the personal god 
has not yet emerged or not yet been detached from the 
phenomenon or the world of living matter. But I believe 
that the Greek of the historic, and even of the Homeric, 
period had left this phase far more remotely behind him 
than certain modern theorists have lightly supposed, 
and I am convinced that the proto-Hellenic tribes 
had already before the conquest of Greece developed 
the cult of certain personal deities, and that some, 
at least, of these were the common heritage of several 
tribes. It is quite possible that before they crossed 
the northern frontier of Greece they found such divinities 
among their Aryan kinsfolk of Thrace, and it is certain 
that this was the type of religion that they would mainly 
find among the peoples of the Minoan- Mycenaean 

We discern it also, where the record allows us to 
discern anything, among the nearer and remoter stocks 
of the Asiatic side of the Mediterranean area. In the 
Zend-Avesta, the sacred books of the Persian religion, 
Ahura-Mazda is presented as a noble ethical figure, a 
concrete personal god, like Jahwe of Israel, whatever his 
original physical significance may have been. Marduk 
of Babylon, whom Hammurabi, the consolidator of the 
Babylonian power, raised to the rank of the high god, 
may once have been a sun-god, but he transcended his 
elemental nature, and appears in the records of the 
third millennium as a political deity, the war-god, and 
leader of the people, as real a personality as Hammurabi 
himself. The same is true of Asshur, once the local 


deity of the aboriginal land of the Assyrians, but later 
raised by the imperial expansion of this people almost 
to the position of a universal god, the guardian of the 
land, the teacher and the father of the kings ; nor can 
we discern that he was ever an elemental god. 

Speaking generally, in spite of many important 
differences, we may regard the religious structure to 
which the cults of Anatolia and Egypt belonged as 
morphologically the same as that which I am defining 
as Hellenic. Also, among all these peoples, by the 
side of the few higher deities who have developed moral 
personalities, we find special elemental divinities, as, 
in Hellas, we find Helios and the deities of the wind, 
Hephaistos the fire-god. 

The distinction between the religions of the Hellenes 
and " the barbarians," which Aristophanes defines as 
the difference between the worship of ideal divine 
personages, such as Zeus, Apollo, and Demeter, and the 
direct worship of elementary powers, such as sun and 
moon, is not borne out by modern research. Where we 
find sun-worship or moon-worship in the East, it does 
not appear to have been directed immediately to the 
thing itself regarded as a living or animate body, but 
to a personal god of the sun or the moon-^-Bel, Shamash, 
or Sin. We can only distinguish the Greek from the 
Oriental in respect of Nature-religion by the lesser 
degree of devotion that the Hellene showed to it; Only 
those of his divinities whose names connoted nothing 
in the material or natural world, could develop into free 
moral personalities, and dominate the religious imagina- 
tion of the people. Nowhere, for instance, had Helios 
any high position in the Greek world except at Rhodes, 
where we must reckon with pre-Hellenic, Minoan, and 
later with Semitic influences. Therefore, when, shortly 


before and after the beginning of the Graeco-Roman 
period, a wave of sun-worship welled from the East 
over the West, it may have brought with it religious 
ideas of high spirituality and ethical purity, yet by the 
race-consciousness of the Hellenes it must have been 
judged to be a regress towards a barbaric past. 

The instinct of the Greek in his creation of divine 
forms shows always a bias towards the personal and the 
individual, an aversion to the amorphous and vague, 
and herein we may contrast him with the Persian and 
Egyptian. A certain minor phenomenon in these 
religions will illustrate and attest this. All of them 
admitted by the side of the high personal deities certain 
subordinate personages less sharply conceived, divine 
emanations, as we may sometimes call them, or 
personifications of moral or abstract ideas. Plutarch 
specially mentions the Persian worship of Truth, Good- 
will, Law-abidingness, Wisdom, emanations of Ahura- 
Mazda, which in the light of the sacred books we may, 
perhaps, interpret as the Fravashis or Soul-powers 
of the High God ; and in certain Egyptian myths and 
religious records we hear of a personification of Truth, 
whose statue is described by the same writer. But 
at least in the Persian system we may suspect that such 
divine beings had little concrete personality, but, rather, 
were conceived vaguely as daimoniac forces, special 
activities of divine force in the invisible world. Now 
the Greek of the period when we really know him seems 
to have been mentally unable to allow his consciousness 
of these things or these forces to remain just at that 
point. Once, no doubt, it was after this fashion that 
his ancestors dimly imagined Eros, or the half-per- 
sonal Curse-power 'Apa; but he himself could only 
cherish Eros under the finished and concrete form of a 


beautiful personal god, and the curse was only vitalised 
for him when it took on the form of the personal Erinys. 
This topic is a fruitful one, and I hope to develop it 
on a later occasion. 

It suggests what is now the next matter I wish to 
touch on the comparison of the Mediterranean religions 
in respect of their anthropomorphism. Philosophically, 
the term might be censured as failing to distinguish 
any special type of religion ; for we should all admit 
that man can only envisage the unseen world in forms 
intelligible to his own mind and reflecting his own 
mental structure. But, apart from this truism, we 
find that religions differ essentially and vitally according 
as this anthropomorphism is vague and indefinite or 
sharply defined and dominating ; according as they 
picture the divinity as the exact though idealised 
counterpart of man, and construct the divine society 
purely on the lines of the human, or refrain from doing 
this either through weakness and obscurity of imagina- 
tion or in deference to a different and perhaps more 
elevated law of the religious intellect. Now, of the 
Hellenic religion no feature is salient as its anthropo- 
morphism, and throughout its whole development and 
career the anthropomorphic principle has been more 
dominating and imperious than it has ever been found 
to be in other religions. 1 At what remote period in 
the evolution of the Hellenic mind this principle began 
in force, what were the influences that fostered and 
strengthened it, in what various ways it shaped the 
religious history of the Hellenic people, are questions 
that I may be able to treat more in detail in the future. 

1 1 am aware that there are exceptions to this principle, which I 
propose to consider in a future course ; no single formula can ever sum 
up all the phenomena of a complex religion. 


But there are two important phenomena that I will 
indicate now, which we must associate with it, and 
which afford us an illuminating point of view from 
which we may contrast the Greek world and the 
Oriental. In the first place, the anthropomorphic 
principle, combining with an artistic faculty the highest 
that the world has known, produced in Greece a unique 
form of idolatry ; and, in the second place, in consequence 
chiefly of this idolatry, the purely Hellenic religion 
remained almost incapable of that which we call 

Now, much remains still to be thought out, especially 
for those interested in Mediterranean culture, concerning 
the influence of idolatry on religion ; and not only the 
history, but the psychology of religion, must note and 
estimate the influence of religious art. It may well 
be that the primitive Greeks, like the primitive Roman, 
the early Teuton, and Indo-Iranian stocks, were non- 
idolatrous, and this appears to have been true to some 
extent of the Minoan culture. Nevertheless, the 
Mediterranean area has from time immemorial been the 
centre of the fabric and the worship of the eikon and the 
idol. The impulse may have come from the East or 
from Egypt to the Hellene ; he in his turn imparted 
it to the Indian Aryans, as we now know, and in great 
measure at least to the Roman, just as the Assyrian- 
Babylonian temple-worship imparted it to the Persian. 
Nowhere, we may well believe, has the influence of 
idolatry been so strong upon the religious temperament 
as it was upon that of the Hellenes ; for to it they 
owed works of the type that may be called the human- 
divine, which surpass any other art-achievement of 

I can here only indicate briefly its main effects. It 


intensified the perception of the real personal god as a 
material fact. It increased polytheism by multiplying 
the separate figures of worship, often, perhaps, without 
intention. It assisted the imagination to discard what 
was uncouth and terrifying in the Hellenic religion, and 
was at once the effect and the cause of the attachment 
of the Hellenic mind towards mild and gracious types of 
godhead. The aniconic emblem and uncouth fetich- 
formed figures were here and there retained, because of 
vague ideas about luck or for superstitious fetichistic 
reasons ; but the beautiful idol was cherished because it 
could arouse the enthusiastic affection of a sensitive 
people, and could bring them to the very presence of a 
friendly divine person. The saying that the Olympian 
deities died of their own loveliness means a wrong 
interpretation of the facts and the people. But for a 
beautiful idolatry, Hellenic polytheism would have 
passed away some centuries before it did, the deities 
fading into alien types or becoming fused one with the 
other. Nor was its force and influence exhausted by 
the introduction of Christianity, for it shaped the 
destinies of the Greek Church, and threw down a 
victorious challenge to the iconoclastic Emperors. 

If now we were to look across the Mediterranean, 
and could survey the religious monuments of Persia, 
Assyria and Babylonia, Phoenicia, and the Hittite 
people, we should find a general acceptance of the 
anthropomorphic idea. The high personal deities are 
represented mainly in human form, but the art is not 
able to interpret the polytheistic beliefs with skilfully 
differentiated types. In Chaldaic and Assyrian art one 
type of countenance is used for various divinities, and 
this such as might inspire awe rather than affection. And 
the anthropomorphism is unstable. Often animal traits 


appear in parts of the divine figure. Nergal has a lion's 
head; even the warrior Marduk is invoked in the 
mystic incantations as " Black Bull of the Deep, Lion 
of the dark house." l In fact, over a large part of an- 
terior Asia, anthropomorphism and theriomorphism 
exist side by side in religious concept and religious art. 
We may say the same of Egypt, but here theriomorphism 
is the dominating factor. 

As regards the explanation of this phenomenon, 
many questions are involved which are outside my 
present province. I would only express my growing 
conviction that these two distinct modes of representing 
the divine personage to the worshipper are not neces- 
sarily prior and posterior, the one to the other, in the 
evolution of religion. They can easily, and frequently 
do, coexist. The vaguely conceived deity shifts his 
shape, and the same people may imagine him mainly 
as a glorified man of human volition and action, and 
yet think of him as temporarily incarnate in an animal, 
and embody his type for purposes of worship or religious 
art in animal forms. 

I would further indicate here what I cannot prove in 
detail that theriomorphism lends itself to mysticism, 
while the anthropomorphic idolatry of Greece was 
strongly in opposition to it. The mystic theosophy 
that pervaded later paganism, and from which early 
Christianity could not escape, originated, as Reiteenstein 
has well shown, mainly in Egypt, and it arose partly, 
I think, in connection with the hieratic and allegorical 
interpretation of the theriomorphic idol. There was 
nothing mystic about the Zeus of Pheidias, so far as 
the form of the god was concerned. The forms were 

1 Vide Langdon, in Transactions of Congress of the History of 
Religions, 1908, vol. i. p. 251. 


entirely adequate to the expression of the physical, 
moral, and spiritual nature of the god. The god was 
just that, and there was nothing behind, and, as the 
ancient enthusiast avers, " having once seen him thus, 
you could not imagine him otherwise." But when a 
divinity to whom high religious conceptions have 
already come to attach is presented, as it might be 
in Egyptian religious art, with the head of a jackal or 
an ape, the feeling is certain to arise sooner or later in 
the mind of the worshipper that the sense-form is 
inadequate to the idea. Then his troubled questioning 
will receive a mystic answer, and the animal type of 
godhead will be given an esoteric interpretation. 

Plutarch, in the De Iside et Osiride, 1 is one of 
our witnesses. He finds a profounder significance for 
theosophy in the beetle, the asp, and the weasel than 
in the most beautiful anthropomorphic work of bronze 
or marble. He here turns his back on his ancestors, 
and goes over to the sect of the Egyptian mystic. 

But the most curious testimony to my thesis is 
borne by an inscription on an Egyptian lamp an 
invocation of the God Thoth : "0 Father of Light, 
O Word (Aoyo) that orderest day and night, come 
show thyself to me. O God of Gods, in thy ape-form 
enter." 2 Here the association of so mystic a concept 
as the " Logos," the divine Reason, an emanation of 
God with the form of an ape, is striking enough, and 
suggests to us many reflections on the contrast between 
the Egyptian theriomorphism and the human idolatry 
of the Greek. The Hermes of Praxiteles was too stubborn 
a fact before the people's eyes to fade or to soar into 

1 P. 382, c. 

2 Vide Petrie, in Transactions of Congress of the History of Religions, 
1908, vol. i. p. 192. 


the high vagueness of the " Logos," too stable in his 
beautiful humanity to sink into the ape. 

But before leaving this subject I would point out a 
phenomenon in the Hellenic world that shows the 
working of the same principle. The Orphic god 
Dionysos-Sabazios-Zagreus was vroKvpoptpos, a shape- 
shifter, conceived now as bull, now as serpent, now 
as man, and the Orphic sects were penetrated with 
a mystic theosophy ; and, again, they were a foreign 
element embedded in Greek society and religion. 

While we were dealing with the subject of anthropo- 
morphism, we should consider also the question of sex, 
for a religion that gives predominance to the god is 
certain to differ in some essential respects from one in 
which a goddess is supreme. Now, although the con- 
ception of an All-Father was a recognised belief in 
every Greek community, and theoretically Zeus was 
admitted to be the highest god, yet we may believe 
Athena counted more than he for the Athenians, and 
Hera more for the Argives. And we have evidence 
of the passionate devotion of many urban and village 
communities to the mother Demeter and her daughter 
Kore, to whom the greatest mysteries of Greece, full 
of the promise of posthumous salvation, were conse- 
crated. Also, in the adjacent lands of earlier culture 
we mark the same phenomenon. In Egyptian religion 
we have the commanding figure of Isis, who, though 
by no means supreme in the earlier period, seems to 
dominate the latter age of this polytheism. In the 
Assyrian-Babylonian Pantheon, though the male deity 
is at the head, Ishtar appears as his compeer, or as 
inferior only to Asshur. Coming westward towards 
Asia Minor, we seem to see the goddess overshadowing 
the god. On the great Hittite monument at Boghaz- 


Keui, in Cappadocia, skilfully interpreted by Dr. Frazer, 
we observe a great goddess with her son coequal with the 
Father-God. In the lands adjacent to the coast a 
Mother-Goddess, sometimes also imagined as virgin, 
Kybele of Phrygia, Ma of Cappadocia, Hipta of Lydia, 
Astarte of Askalon, Artemis of Ephesos who was pro- 
bably a blend of Hellenic and Oriental cult-ideas, 
appears to have been dominant from an immemorial 
antiquity ; and Sir Arthur Evans has discovered the 
same mysterious feminine power pre-eminent in the 
Minoan religion. We may even affirm that she has 
ruled a great part of the Mediterranean down to the 
present day. 

The various questions suggested by this predominance 
of goddess-worship are fascinating and subtle. The 
sociological one how far it is to be connected with a 
system of counting descent through the female, with a 
matrilinear society I have partly discussed elsewhere. 1 
I may later be able to enter on the question that 
is of more interest for the psychology of religion 
the effect of such worships on the religious sentiment. 
Here I can merely point to the phenomenon as a natural 
and logical product of the principle of anthropomorphism, 
but would call attention to the fact that in the East 
it sometimes developed into a form that, from the 
anthropomorphic point of view, must be called morbid 
and subversive of this principle ; for the rivalry of 
divine sex was here and there solved by the fusion 
of the two natures in the divinity, and we find a bisexual 
type a male Astarte, a bearded Ishtar. 2 The healthy- 
minded anthropomorphism of the Hellene rejects this 
Oriental extravagance. 

1 Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft, 1904. 

2 Vide Jastrow, Religion Babyloniens u, Assyrians, vol. i. p. 545. 



If we now could consider in detail the various moral 
conceptions attached to the high State divinities of 
Greece and the East, we should be struck with a general 
similarity in the point of view of the various culture- 
stocks. The higher deities, on the whole, are ethical 
beings who favour the righteous and punish transgressors ; 
and the worship of Greece falls here into line with the 
Hebraic conceptions of a god of righteousness. But in 
one important particular Hellenic thought markedly 
differs from Oriental, especially the Persian. In the 
people's religion throughout Hellas the deities are, on the 
whole, worshipped as beneficent, as doing good to their 
worshippers, so long as these do not offend or sin against 
them. The apparent exceptions are no real exceptions. 
Ares may have been regarded as an evil god by the poet 
or the philosopher, but we cannot discover that this 
was ever the view of the people who cared to establish 
his cult. The Erinyes are vindictive ; nevertheless, 
they are moral, and the struggle between them and 
Apollo in the Aeschylean drama is only the contest 
between a more barbaric and a more civilised morality. 
In the list of Greek divine titles and appellatives, only 
one or two at most can be given a significance of evil. 

Doubtless, beneath the bright anthropomorphic 
religion lurked a fear of ghosts and evil spirits, and the 
later days of Hellenic paganism were somewhat clouded 
with demonology. But the average Greek protected 
himself sufficiently by purification and easy conventional 
.magic. He did not brood on the principle of evil or 
personify it as a great cosmic power, and therefore 
he would not naturally evolve a system of religious 
dualism, though the germs from which this might grow 
may be found in Orphic tradition and doctrine. Con- 
trast this with the evidence from Egypt, Assyria, and 


Persia. The Egyptian and Assyrian records bear 
strong impress of the prominence and power of the 
belief in evil spirits. The high gods of Assyria were 
continually being invoked and implored by the wor- 
shipper to save him from the demons, and one of these, 
Ira, a demon of pestilence, seems to have received 
actual worship ; and much of Egyptian private ritual 
was protective magic against them. 

But nowhere did the power of evil assume such grand 
proportions as in the old Mazdean creed of Persia, and 
the dualism between the good and evil principle became 
here the foundation of a great religion that spread its 
influence wide through the West. The religion had its 
prophet, Zarathustra, in whose historic reality we ought 
not to doubt. In his system the faithful Mazdean is 
called upon to play his part in the struggle between 
Ahura-Mazda and Angra-Mainyu, and this struggle con- 
tinues through the ages till in the final cataclysm the 
Daevas, or evil demons, will be overthrown. We note 
here that this faith includes the idea of a final Judgment, 
so familiar to Judaic and Christian thought, but scarcely 
to be found in the native Hellenic religion. Further, 
it should be observed that the Mazdean dualism between 
good and evil has nothing in common with the Platonic 
antithesis between mind and sense, or St. Paul's between 
spirit and flesh, or with the hatred of the body that is 
expressed in Buddhism. The good Mazdean might 
regard his body as good and pure, and therefore he 
escaped, as by a different way did the Greek, from the 
tyranny of a morbid ascetisrn. Only he developed 
the doctrine of purity into a code more burdensome 
than can be found, I think, elsewhere. The ideas of 
ritual-purity on which he framed this code are found 
broadcast through the East and in Egypt, and appear 


in the Hellenic religion also. The Greek, however, 
did not allow himself to be oppressed by his own 
cathartic system, but turned it to excellent service in 
the domain of law, as I have tried to show elsewhere. 1 

Generally, as regards the association of religion and 
morality, we find this to be always intimate in the more 
developed races, but our statistics are insufficient for us 
to determine with certainty the comparative strength of 
the religious sanction of morals in the ancient societies 
of the Mediterranean. The ethical-religious force of the 
Zarathustrian faith seems to approach that of the 
Hebraic. We should judge it to be stronger, at least, 
than any that was exercised in Hellas, for Hellas, outside 
the Orphic sects, had neither sacred books of universal 
recognition nor a prophet. Yet all Hellenic morality 
was protected by religion, and the Delphic oracle, which 
occasionally was able to play the part of the father- 
confessor, encouraged a high standard of conduct as 
high as the average found elsewhere in the ancient 
world. We may note, however, one lacuna in the 
Hellenic code : neither Greek ethics, on the whole, 
nor Greek religion, emphasised or exalted or deified the 
virtue of truth ; but we hear of a goddess of Truth 
in Egypt, and it becomes a cardinal tenet and a divine 
force in the Zarathustrian ideal. 

Again, in all ancient societies religion is closely inter- 
woven with political, legal, and social institutions, and 
its influence on these concerns the history of the evolution 
of society and law. It is only in modern society, or in 
a few most ideal creeds at periods of great exaltation, 
that a severance is made between Csesar and God. Save 
Buddhism, the religions of the ancient societies of the 
East and of Egypt were all in a sense political. Darius 

1 Vide my Evolution of Religion, pp. 139-152, 


regards himself as specially protected by Ahura-Mazda, 
and we are told by Herodotus l that in the private 
Persian's prayers no separate personal benefits were 
besought, but only the welfare of the King and the 
Persian community. The gods of Assyria inspire counsel 
and order the campaign ; Shamash, the sun-god, is 
" Just Ruler " and the " Lord of Law " ; and Ninib 
is styled the god " who lays for ever the foundation-stone 
of the State/' and who, like Zeus opiog, and the Latin 
Terminus, " protects the boundaries of the cornfield/' 
The Syrian goddess of Bambyke, Kybele of Phrygia, 
Astarte of Askalon, all wear the mural crown, the badge 
of the city goddess. But I doubt if our materials are 
as yet rich enough to inform us in what precise way 
religion played a constructive part in the oldest 
civilisations, namely, those of Assyria and Egypt. 
We may observe that the code of Hammurabi, our 
oldest legal document, is curiously secular and in many 
respects modern. 

The question can be most fruitfully pursued in the 
study of the Greek societies ; for no other religion of 
which we have any record was so political as the Hellenic, 
not even, as I should judge, the Roman, to which it bears 
the closest resemblance in this respect. The very origin 
of the nokig, the city-state, was often religious ; for the 
name or title of the deity often gave a name to the city, 
and the temple was in this case probably the centre of 
the earliest residence. In the organised and complex 
Greek societies, every institution of the State the as- 
sembly, the council, the law-courts, the agrarian economy, 
all the regulations of the family and clan were conse- 
crated and safeguarded by the supervision of some deity. 
Often he or she was worshipped as in a literal sense the 

1 1. 132. 


State ancestor, and in one of the temples might be found 
burning the perpetual fire which symbolised the per- 
manence of the city's life. And in Greece we find a 
unique phenomenon, which, though small, is of great 
significance the deity might here and there be made 
to take the office and title of a civic magistrate. For 
instance, Apollo was mpai^popos in Asia Minor cities, 
and in the later days of Sparta, as the recent excavations 
have shown, the ghost of Lykourgos was elected as the 
chief inspector of the education of the young. 

To the superficial observer, then, the Greek civic 
society might appear a theocracy. But such a view 
would imply ignorance of the average character of the 
ancient Greek world. There can be no theocracy where 
there is no theocrat. In Asia Minor the priest might 
be a great political power, but in Greece this was never 
so. Here the political, secular, utilitarian interest 
dominates the religion. The high divinities become 
politicians, and immersed in secular affairs, and even 
take sides in the party strife, as some of the religious 
titles attest. Thus Greek religion escaped morbidity 
and insanity, becoming genial and human, and com- 
pensating by its adaptability to the common needs of 
social life for what it lacked of mystery and aloofness. 
Therefore, also, in Greek invocations and hymns we 
do not often hear the echo of that sublimity that 
resounds in the Iranian, Assyrian, and still more in the 
Hebrew liturgies. 

Another interesting point of comparison is the 
relation of religion to the arts and sciences. Their 
association may be said to have been more intimate in 
Hellenism than it has been found to be in any other 
creed. We can estimate what music and the drama 
owed to Apollo and Dionysos, and how the life of the 


philosopher, artist, and poet was considered consecrated 
to certain divinities. We hear of the Delphic oracle 
encouraging philosophic pursuits. The name " Museum " 
is a landmark in the religious history of education, and 
we know that the temple of Asklepios in Kos was the 
cradle of the school of modern medicine. The records 
of the other religions of this area show glimpses of 
the same association, and more extended research may 
throw further light on it. The Babylonian gods Nebo 
and Ea were divinities of wisdom and the arts, and to the 
former, who was the inventor of writing, the library of 
Ashurbanapal was consecrated. Chaldean astronomy 
was evolved from their astrology, which was itself a 
religious system. But demonology was stronger in 
Assyria, Persia, and Egypt than in Hellas, and demon- 
ology is the foe of science. In the Zend-Avesta the 
priestly medicine-man, who heals by spell and exorcism, 
is ranked higher than the scientific practitioner. A 
chapter might be written on the negative advantages 
of Greek religion, and none was of greater moment 
than this that it had no sacred books or authoritative 
religious cosmogony to oppose to the dawn and the 
development of scientific inquiry. Asklepios had been 
a practitioner in the method of thaumaturgic cures, but 
he accepted Hippokrates genially when the time came. 

As regards the relation between Greek philosophy 
and Greek religion, something may remain to be dis- 
covered by any scholar who is equally familiar with 
both. It would be absurd to attempt to summarise 
the facts in a few phrases here. I wish merely to 
indicate the absence in pure Hellenic speculation of 
any elaborated system of theosophy, such as the late 
Egyptian " gnosis," till we come to Neo-Platonism, 
when the Greek intellect is no longer pure. We discover 


also a vacuum in the religious mind and nomenclature 
of the earlier Greek : he had neither the concept nor 
any name to express the concept of what we call 
" faith/ 3 the intellectual acceptance and confessional 
affirmation of certain dogmas concerning the divinity ; 
and in this respect he differed essentially not only 
from the Christian, but also from the Iranian and 
Buddhistic votary. 

A great part of the study of ancient religion is a study 
of ritual, and it is interesting to survey the Mediterranean 
area, so as to discern similarities or divergencies in the 
forms of religious service. Everywhere we observe the 
blood-sacrifice of animals, and very frequently the harm- 
less offering of fruits and cereals, and now one, now the 
other, in Greece as elsewhere, was regarded as the more 
pious. The former is of the higher interest, for certain 
ideas which have been constructive of higher religions 
our own, for example have grown out of it. At first 
sight the animal oblation seems everywhere much the 
same in character and significance. The sacrificial ritual 
of Leviticus does not differ in any essential trait from 
that which commended itself to the Greeks and the other 
peoples of these lands. Certain animals are everywhere 
offered, at times as a free and cheerful gift, at other 
times as an atonement to expiate sin and to deprecate 
wrath. Certain other animals are tabooed, for reasons 
that may repay searching out. 

In most regions we have evidence of the practice of 
human sacrifice, either as an established system or as an 
occasional expedient. The motives that prompted it 
present an important and intricate question to the 
modern inquirer. The two nations that grew to abhor 
it and to protest against it were the Hebrew and the 
Greek, though the latter did not wholly escape the taint 


of it ; for he had inherited the practice from his 
ancestral past, and he found it indigenous in the lands 
he conquered. Repellent as the rite may be, it much 
concerns the study of the religions of the cultured races. 

Now, an interesting theory concerning sacrifice was 
expounded and brought into prominent discussion by 
Professor Robertson Smith in his Religion of the Semites, 
and in an earlier article in the Encyclopedia Britannica 
namely, that a certain type of ancient sacrifice was a 
mystic sacramental communion, the worshipper par- 
taking of some sacred food or drink in which the 
spirit of the deity was temporarily lodged. This mystic 
act, of which there is no clear trace in the Old Testament, 
is reported from Egypt, 1 and it appears to have been 
part of the Attis ritual of Phrygia. We find doubtful 
traces of it in the Eleusinian and Samothracian mysteries ; 
also a glimpse of it here and there in the public religion 
of Hellas. But it is best attested as a potent force in 
the Dionysiac worship, especially in a certain savage 
ritual that we may call Thracian, but also in the refined 
and Hellenised service as well. 

I cannot dwell here on the various aspects of this 
problem. The Hellenic statistics and their significance 
I have partly collected and estimated in a paper pub- 
lished some years ago. 2 The application of the sacra- 
mental idea to the explanation of the Eleusinian 
mysteries, ingeniously attempted by Dr. Jevons, I 
have discussed in the third volume of my Cults of the 
Greek States ; and the Dionysiac communion-service 
is considered at length in the fifth. 

The attractiveness of the mystic appeal of the 

1 Transactions of Congress of History of Religions, 1908, vol. i. 
p. 192. 

2 Hibbert Journal, 1904, " Sacrificial Communion in Greek Religion." 


Sacrament appears to have increased in the later days 
of paganism, especially in its period of struggle with 
Christianity. That strangest rite of the expiring 
polytheism, the rwpofifaov, or the baptism in bull's blood, 
in the worship of Kybele, has been successfully traced 
back by M. Cumont to the worship of the Babylonian 
Anaitis. The sacramental concept was the stronghold 
of Mithraism, but can hardly be regarded as part of its 
heritage from Persia, for it does not seem to have been 
familiar to the Iranian religion nor to the Vedic Indian. 
In fact, the religious history of no other Aryan race 
discloses it with clearness, save that of the Thraco- 
Phrygian and Hellenic. Was it, then, a special product 
of ancient " Mediterranean " religious thought? It 
would be important to know, and Crete may one day 
be able to tell us, whether King Minos took the sacrament. 
Meantime, I would urge upon those who are studying 
this phenomenon in the various religions the necessity 
of precise definition, so as to distinguish the different 
grades of the sacramental concept, for loose state- 
ments are somewhat rife about it. 

Apart from the ritual of the altar, there is another 
mode of attaining mystic union with the divinity 
namely, by means of a sacred marriage or simulated 
corporeal union. This is suggested by the initiation 
formula of the mysteries of Attis-Kybele. The cult of 
Kybele was connected with that of the Minoan goddess, 
and the strange legend of Pasiphae and the bull- 
god lends itself naturally to this interpretation. The 
Hellenic religion also presents us with a few examples 
of the holy marriage of the human bride with the god, 
the most notable being the annual ceremony of the 
union of the " Queen/' the wife of the King Archon, 
at -Athens, with Dionysos. And in the mysteries of 


later paganism, as well as in certain forms and symbolism 
of early Christianity, Professor Dieterich has traced the 
surviving influence of this rite. 

Among all the phenomena of ritual, none are more 
interesting or in their effects more momentous than the 
rites that are associated with the dogma of the death of 
the divinity. That the high gods are naturally mortal 
and liable to death is an idea that is certainly rare, 
though it may be found in Egyptian and old Teutonic 
mythology ; but the dogma of the annual or periodic 
death and resurrection of the divinity has been, and is, 
enacted in much peasant ritual, and worked for the 
purposes of agrarian magic in Europe and elsewhere. 
More rarely we find the belief attached to the mystic 
forms and faith of some advanced religion, and it is 
specially in the Mediterranean area where it appears 
in a high stage of development. It is a salient feature 
of the Egyptian worship of Isis ; of the Sumerian- 
Babylonian ritual, in which the dead Thammuz was 
bewailed, and which penetrated Syria and other parts 
of Asia Minor ; of the worship of Attis and Adonis in 
Phrygia and the Lebanon ; and of certain shrines of 
the Oriental Aphrodite. It is associated often with 
orgiastic sorrow and ecstatic joy, and with the belief 
in human immortality of which the resurrection of the 
deity is the symbol and the efficacious means. This 
idea and this ritual appears to have been alien to the 
native Hellenic religion. The Hellenic gods and god- 
desses do not die and rise again. 

Only in one Aryan nation of antiquity, so far as I am 
aware, was the idea clear and operative the Thraco- 
Phrygian, in the religion of Dionysos-Sabazios. This 
alien cult, when transplanted into Greece, retained still 
some savagery in the rite that enacted the death of the 


god ; but in the Orphic sects the ritual idea was developed 
into a doctrine of posthumous salvation, from which the 
later pre-Christian world drew spiritual comfort and some 
fertile moral conceptions. This Thradan-Dionysiac in- 
fluence in Hellas, though chastened and sobered by the 
sanity of the national temperament, initiated the Hellene 
into a certain spiritual mood that was not naturally 
evoked by the native religion ; for it brought into his 
polytheism a higher measure of enthusiasm, a more 
ecstatic spirit of self-abandonment, than it possessed by 
its own traditional bent. Many civilised religions appear 
to have passed beyond the phase of orgiastic fervour. 
It emerges in the old Egyptian ritual, and most power- 
fully in the religion of Phrygia and of certain districts 
of Syria ; but it seems to have been alien to the higher 
Semitic and the Iranian religions, as it was to the 
native Hellenic. 

I have only been able here, without argument or 
detailed exposition, to present a short summary of the 
more striking phenomena in the religious systems of our 
spiritual ancestors. Many of the problems I have 
stated still invite further research, which may con- 
siderably modify our theories. I claim that the subject 
possesses a masterful interest both in its own right and 
for the light it sheds on ancient philosophy, ancient 
art, and ancient institutions. And it ought in the 
future to attract more and more the devotion of some 
of our post-graduate students. Much remains to be done 
even for the Hellenic and Roman religions, still more for 
those of Egypt and Assyria, Here, in our University 
of Oxford, under whose auspices the Sacred Books of 
the East were translated, and where the equipment for 
the study is at least equal to that of any other centre 
of learning, this appeal ought not to be made in vain. 



THE subject I have chosen for this course may appear 
over-ambitious ; and the attempt to pass critical judg- 
ment upon the facts .that arise in this wide comparative 
survey may be thought premature. For not only is 
the area vast, but large tracts of it are still unexplored, 
while certain regions have yielded materials that are 
ample and promising, but of which the true interpreta- 
tion has not yet been found. We have, for instance, 
abundant evidence flowing in with ever-increasing 
volume of the Sumerian-Babylonian religion, but only 
a portion of the cuneiform texts has as yet been 
authoritatively translated and made available for 
the service of Comparative Religion. The Hittite 
monuments are witnesses of primary value concerning 
Hittite religion : but the Hittite script may reveal 
much more that is vital to our view of it, and without 
the help of that script we are not sure of the exact 
interpretation of those religious monuments ; but 
though we have recently heard certain encouraging 
expressions of hope, the master-word has not yet been 
found that can open the door to this buried treasure 
of knowledge. And again, the attempt to gauge accu- 
rately the relation and the indebtedness of Greek religion 
to that of the near East cannot be wholly successful, 
until we know more of the Minoan-Mycenaean religion ; 


and our hope hangs here partly on the discovery of 
more monuments, but mainly, I am convinced, on the 
decipherment of the mysterious Minoan writing, to 
which great achievement Sir Arthur Evans' recent work 
on the Scripta Minoa is a valuable contribution. 
Therefore the time is certainly not yet ripe for a final 
and authoritative pronouncement on the great questions 
that I am venturing upon in this course. 

But even the early premature attempts to solve a 
problem may contribute something to the ultimate satisfy- 
ing solution. And often in the middle of our investiga- 
tions, when new evidence continues to pour in, there 
comes a moment when it is desirable to look around 
and take stock, so to speak, to consider whether we can 
draw some general conclusions with safety, or in what 
direction the facts appear at this stage to be pointing. 
In regard to the religions of anterior Asia and South- 
Eastern Europe, and the question of their relation- 
ships, this is now, I feel, a seasonable thing to do 
all the more because the Asiatic region has been mainly 
explored by specialists, who have worked, as was profit- 
able and right, each in his special province, without 
having the time or perhaps the training to achieve 
a comparative survey of the whole. We know also by 
long experience the peculiar dangers to which specialists 
are prone ; in their enthusiastic devotion to their own 
domain, they are apt to believe that it supplies them 
with the master-key whereby to unlock many other 
secret places of human history. This hope, soon to 
prove an illusion, was regnant when the interpretation 
of the Sacred Vedic Books was first accomplished. 
And now certain scholars, who are distinguished speci- 
alists in Assyriology, are putting forward a similar claim 
for Babylon, and are championing the view that the 


Sumerian- Assyrian religion and culture played a domin- 
ating part in the evolution of the Mediterranean 
civilisation, and that therefore much of the religious 
beliefs and practices of the early Greeks and other 
European stocks must be traced back to Mesopotamia 
as their fountain-head. 1 This will be encouraging to 
that distinguished writer on Greek religion, Dr. O. 
Gruppe, who almost a generation ago proclaimed in his 
Griechische Mythologie the dogma of the emanation of 
all religion from a single centre, and the dependence of 
Greece upon the near East. 

Now there ought to be no prejudice a priori against 
such a theory, which stands on a different footing from 
what I may call the Vedic fallacy : and it is childish 
to allow to the Aryan, or any other racial bias, any 
malignant influence in these difficult discussions. Those 
who have worked for years upon the marvellously rich 
records of Mesopotamian culture, whether at first hand 
or, like myself, at second hand, cannot fail to receive the 
deepest impression of its imperial grandeur and its force- 
ful vitality, and of its intensity of thought and purpose 
in the sphere of religion. Naturally, they may feel, 
such spiritual power must have radiated influence far 
and wide over the adjacent lands ; and no one could 
maintain that South-Eastern Europe was too remote 
to have been touched, perhaps penetrated, by it. For 
we know that, under certain conditions, the race-barrier 
falls down before the march of a conquering and dominat- 
ing religion. And now, in the new light of a wider 
historical survey, instead of saying, as once was said, 
" What is more its own than a people's gods ? " we 

1 Vide the critical remarks on such a view by Prof. Jastrow in 
Transactions of the Third International Congress of the History of 
Religions, vol. i. pp. 234-237. 


may rather ask, " What is less its own than a people's 
gods ? " always, however, remembering that race- 
tradition, inherited instinctive feeling and thought, is 
very strong in these matters, and that a people will, 
often unconsciously, cling to its ancestral modes of 
religious consciousness and expression, while it will 
freely borrow alien forms, names, and ritual. 

The inquiry indicated by the title of these lectures 
is naturally twofold ; it may be applied either to 
the earlier or the later periods of the Hellenic and 
Hellenic-Roman history. The question concerning the 
later period, though much critical research is needed for 
its clear solution, is far simpler and more hopeful : for 
the evidence is immeasurably fuller and more precise, 
and historical dates and landmarks are there to help. 
The history of the invasion of the West by Mithraism 
has been masterfully stated by Cumont ; the general 
influence of the Anatolian religions upon Graeco-Roman 
society is presented and estimated by the same writer in 
his Religious Orientates; by Toutain, in his Les Cuttes 
Paiens dans I' Empire Remain; by our own scholar, 
Samuel Dill, in Roman Society in the last Century 
of the Western Empire ; and more summarily by Salomon 
Reinach in his Orpheus. Therefore I am not going to 
pursue the inquiry at this end, although I may have to 
notice and use some of the later evidence. I am going 
to praise the question concerning the very origins of the 
Hellenic religious system, so as to test the recently pro- 
claimed dogma of certain Assyriologists, and to determine, 
if possible, whether the Orient played any formative 
part in the organic development of Greek religion. For 
this is just the question which, I venture to maintain, 
has never yet been critically explored. From what 
I have said at the beginning, it is obvious that I cannot 


promise final and proved results. It will be gain 
enough if we can dimly discern something behind the 
veil that shrouds the origins of things, can reach to 
something that has the air of a reasoned scientific 
hypothesis, and still more if we can indicate the paths 
along which one day light may come. 

We may then begin at once with stating more clearly 
what are the necessary conditions for a successful 
solution of the problem. First, we must accomplish a 
thorough exploration of the religions of the Anatolian 
and Mesopotamian lands ; secondly, we must explore 
the Minoan-Mycenaean religion, and estimate the 
strength of its influence on the later period ; thirdly, we 
must be able to decide what beliefs and practices the 
Hellenes brought with them from the North ; lastly, 
before we can hope for any precision in our results, we 
must be able to answer with some degree of accuracy 
a burning chronological question : What was the date 
of the arrival through the Balkans from the North of 
those Aryan-speaking tribes that by mingling with the 
Southerners formed the Hellenic people of history ? 
For only then shall we be able to test the whole question, 
by considering the position of the Eastern powers at 
this momentous epoch. The third of these inquiries, 
concerning the aboriginal religious ideas of the earliest 
Aryan Hellenes, is perhaps the most troublesome of all. 
I may venture upon it at a later occasion, but it is 
far too difficult and extensive to combine it with the 
others in a short treatise. Nor can I do more than 
touch lightly on the Minoan-Mycenaean period ; for I 
wish to devote the greater part of these lectures to the 
comparative survey of Greece, Anatolia, and Mesopo- 
tamia, as this task has never yet been critically per- 
formed. Something like an attempt was made by 


Tiele in his Histoire des anciennes Religions, but when 
that book was written much of the most important 
evidence had not yet come in. 

But before beginning the exploration of any large 
area, whether for the purposes of Comparative Religion, 
archaeology, or anthropology, we must possess or acquire 
certain data of ethnography and secular history. We 
must, for instance, face the chronological question that 
I mentioned just above, before we can estimate the 
formative influences at work in the earliest phases of 
Hellenic development. Recent archaeological evidence, 
which I cannot here discuss, renders us valuable aid at 
this critical point of our inquiry. We can no longer 
relegate the earliest Hellenic invasion of Greece to a very 
remote period of Mediterranean history. The arguments 
from the Minoan culture, combined with the still more 
striking evidence, of which the value is not yet fully 
appreciated, obtained by the recent excavations of the 
British School on the soil of Thessaly, 1 point to the 
conviction that this, the epoch-making event of the 
world's secular and spiritual life, occurred not much 
earlier than 1500 B.C. On this hypothesis, our quest 
becomes less vague. We can consider what influences 
were likely to be radiating from the East upon the 
opposite shores of the Aegean during those few centuries, 
in which the Hellenic tribes were passing from barbar- 
ism to culture, and the religious beliefs and ritual 
were developing into that comparatively advanced and 
complex form of polytheism which is presented about 
1000 B.C. in the Homeric poems. By this date we may 
assert that the Hellenic spirit had evolved certain definite 
traits and had acquired a certain autonomous power. 
While continuing always to be quickly responsive to 

1 Vide Annual of the British School, 1909, 1910. 


alien influence, it would not henceforth admit the alien 
product with the submissive and infantine docility of 
barbarians In fact, when we compare the Homeric 
religion with that of the fifth century, we feel that in 
this particular sphere of the social and spiritual life 
the Hellene in many essentials had already come to his 
own in the Homeric period. Therefore, in trying to 
track the earliest streams of influences that moulded 
his religious consciousness, what was operative before 
the tenth century is of more primary importance than 
what was at work upon him afterwards. 

Now the most recent researches into Mesopotamian 
history establish with certainty the conclusion that 
there was no direct political contact possible between 
the powers in the valley of the Euphrates and the western 
shores of the Aegean, in the second millennium B.C. It 
is true that the first Tiglath-Pileser, near the end of the 
twelfth century, extended the Assyrian arms to the 
shores of South-Eastern Asia, to Cilicia and Phoenicia 1 ; 
but there does not seem to have been any permanent 
Assyrian or Babylonian settlement on this littoral. 
The city of Sinope in the north, which, as the legend 
attests and the name that must be derived from the 
Assyrian god Sin indicates, was originally an Assyrian 
colony, was probably of later foundation, and geographic- 
ally too remote to count for the present inquiry. In 
fact, between the nascent Hellas and the great world 
of Mesopotamia, there were powerful and possibly 
independent strata of cultures interposing. We have 
to reckon first with the great Hittite Kingdom, which 
included Cappadocia and Northern Syria, and was in 
close touch with Phrygia and many of the communities 

1 Vide Zimmern, Die Keilinschriften und das alte Testament (K. A.T.) S , 


of the shore-line of Asia Minor ; and which at the period 
of the Tel-el-Amarna correspondence was in diplomatic 
relations and on terms of equality with the Assyrian 
and Egyptian powers. And the tendency of modern 
students, such as Messerschmidt in his Die Hettiter, 
is to extend this ethnic name so as to include practically 
all the Anatolian peoples who were other than the 
Aryan and Semitic stocks. As far as I can discern, 
at the present stage of our knowledge this is unscientific ; 
and it is at present safer to regard the pre-Aryan in- 
habitants of the Troad, Phrygia, Lycia, Caria, and 
Lydia, possibly Cilicia, as varieties of an ancient Medi- 
terranean stock to which the people of the Minoan- 
Aegean culture themselves belonged. At any rate, 
for the purposes of our religious comparison, they are to 
be counted as a third stratum, through which as through 
the Hittite the stream of influence from Mesopotamia 
would be obliged to percolate before it could discharge 
itself upon the Hellenic world. And these interjacent 
peoples are races of great mental gifts and force ; they 
were not likely to transmit the Mesopotamian influence 
pure and unmingled with currents of their own religious 

Therefore this great problem of old-world religion 
is no light one ; and fallacies here can only be avoided 
by the most critical intelligence trained on the best 
method of comparative religious study. We must 
endeavour to seize and comprehend the most essential 
and characteristic features of the Babylonian-Assyrian 
cults and theology; we must discover all that is at 
present possible, and trust to the future for discovering 
more, concerning the Hittite religion ; and then we 
must glean all we can of the earliest forms of cult in 
vogue among the other peoples of the Asia-Minor coast, 


and in the early world of the Minoan-Mycenaean 

And if the phenomena of this area present us with 
certain general resemblances to the Hellenic, we must 
not too hastily assume that the West has borrowed 
from the East. For often in comparing the most 
remote regions of the world we are struck with strange 
similarities of myth and cult ; and, where the possibility 
of borrowing is ruled out, we must have recourse to the 
theory of spontaneous generation working in obedience 
to similar psychical forces. The hypothesis of borrow- 
ing, which is always legitimate where the peoples with 
whom we are concerned are adjacent, is only raised to 
proof either when the linguistic evidence is clear, for 
instance when the divine names or the names of cult- 
objects are the same in the various districts, or when 
the points of resemblance in ritual or religious concept 
are numerous, striking, and fundamental, or peculiar to 
the communities of a certain area. This is all the more 
necessary to insist on, because many superficial points 
of resemblance will be found in all religions that are at 
the same stage of development. 

Now, in beginning this wide comparative survey, 
one's first difficulty is to arrange the material in such 
a way as to enable one to present a comparison that 
shall be definite and crucial. It would be useless to 
attempt a mere synoptical outline of the Babylonian- 
Sumerian religion ; those whom that might content 
will find one in Dr. Pinches' handbook, The Religion 
of Babylonia and Assyria, or Mr. King's Babylonian Re- 
ligion, while those who desire a more thorough and 
detailed presentation of it will doubtless turn to the 
laborious and critical volumes of Prof. Jastrow, Die 
Religion Balyloniens u. Assyrians. But for me to 


try to present this complex polytheism en bloc would be 
useless in view of my present object ; for two elaborate 
religious systems cannot effectively be compared en bloc. 
A more hopeful method for those who have to pass 
cursorily over a great area, is to select certain salient 
and essential features separately, and to see how, in 
regard to each one, the adjacent religious systems agree 
or differ. And the method I propose to pursue through- 
out this course is as follows : Ignoring the embryology 
of the subject, that is to say, all discussions about the 
genesis of religious forms and ideas that would contribute 
nothing to our purpose, I will try to define the mor- 
phology of the Mesopotamian and Anatolian religions ; 
and will first compare them with the Hellenic in respect 
of the element of personality in the divine perception, 
the tendency to, or away from, anthropomorphism, 
the relation of the deities to the natural world, to the 
State, and to morality, and I will consider what we 
can deduce from the study of the famous law-code 
of Hammurabi. A special question will arise concern- 
ing the supremacy of the goddess, a phenomenon which 
may be of some importance as a clue in our whole 
inquiry. The comparison will then be applied to the 
religious psychology of the different peoples ; and 
here it will be useful to analyse and define that element 
of the religious temper which we call fanaticism, and 
which sometimes affords one of the crucial distinctions 
between one religion and another. 

We may also obtain evidence from a comparison 
of the cosmogonic ideas prevalent over this area, so far 
as the records reveal any, as well as of the eschatological 
beliefs concerning man's future destiny and his posthum- 
ous existence. Finally, we must compare the various 
cult-objects and forms of ritual, the significance of the 


sacrifice ; the position and organisation of the priest- 
hood ; and here it will be convenient to consider the 
ritual of magic as well as of the higher service and the 
part played by magic within the limits of the higher 
religion. If under each of these heads we have been 
able to discover certain salient points of divergence 
or resemblance between the Hellene and the Mesopo- 
tamian, we may be able to draw a general deduction of 
some probability concerning the whole question. In 
any case we may be encouraged by the assurance that 
the comparison of two complex and highly developed 
religions is fruitful and interesting in itself, whether it 
yields us definite historical conclusions or not. 



As I said in a previous lecture, 1 " we must regard the 
religious structure to which the cults of Anatolia and 
Mesopotamia belonged as morphologically the same 
as the Hellenic/ 1 The grounds of this judgment may 
be now briefly shown. In his Historie des anciennes 
Religions, Tiele classifies most of these together under 
the category of Nature-Religions, which he distinguishes 
from the ethical : he is thinking of the distinction 
between that religious view in which the divinity is 
closely associated, or even identified, with some natural 
object, and that in which the divinity is a moral being 
merely, stript of all attributes that are derived from 
the world of nature. Serious objection may be taken 
to the terms in which this classification of religions is 
expressed. The only religions which would fall under 
the ethical class would be the Judaic, the Moslem, and 
the Christian : and yet the Hebrews in the most exalted 
period of their religion prayed to their god for rain 
and crops, and the Christian Churches do the same to 
this day. A deity whose interest is purely ethical has 
only existed in certain philosophic systems : he has 
never had an established cult. On the other hand, 
a nature-religion, at the stage when personal deities 
have been somewhat developed, which is not also 

1 Vide supra, p. 9. 


noral, has yet to be discovered. Religion, in its origin 
3ossibly non-moral, must, as society advances, acquire 
:he closest relations with the social moral code. A 
Sun-god or Thunder-god Shamash, for instance, of 
Babylon, Mithras of Persia, Sol Invictus of the later 
Roman Empire may become a great divinity of an 
ethical cult and yet retain his association with the 
element. And it is fruitless to classify higher religions 
at least on such a basis of distinction as " moral " and 
" non-moral/' l 

It is more to the purpose of our present comparison 
to employ as one of our test-standards the degree of 
personality in the cult-objects of the different races. 
Is the popular imagination still on the level of animism 
which engenders mere vaguely conceived daimones, 
shadowy agents, working perhaps in amorphous groups, 
without fixed names or local habitations or special 
individuality ? Or has it reached that stage of religious 
perception at which personal deities emerge, concrete 
individualities clothed with special attributes, physical, 
moral, spiritual ? The most superficial study of the 
cuneiform texts and the religious monuments of the 
Sumerian-Babylonian society does not leave us in 
doubt how we should answer these questions in behalf 
of the peoples in the Mesopotamian valley. When 
the Semitic tribes first pushed their way into these 
regions, swarming probably, as usual, from Arabia, at 
some remotely early date, they found there the non- 
Semitic Sumerian people possessed of a highly complex 
religious pantheon. Bringing with them their own 
Shamash the sun-god, Adad the storm-god, and the 

1 Westermarck maintains the view in his Origin and Development 
of Moral Ideas, pp. 663-664, that in many savage religions the gods 
have no concern with ordinary morality ; but the statistics he gives 
need careful testing. 


great goddess Ishtar, and perhaps other divinities, they 
nevertheless took over the whole Sumerian pantheon, 
with its elaborate liturgy of hymns and incantations ; 
and for the record of this great and fascinating hieratic 
literature the Sumerian language with interlinear 
Babylonian-Assyrian paraphrase was preserved down 
to the beginning of our era. This religious system of 
dateless antiquity suffered little change "from the 
drums and tramplings " of all the conquerors from the 
time of Sargon ist and the kings before Hammurabi to 
the day of the Macedonian Seleukos. And in a sketch 
of this system as it prevailed in the second millennium B.C. 
it is quite useless for our purpose to try to distinguish 
between Sumerian and Semitic elements. It is more 
valuable to formulate this obvious fact, that a wide- 
spread belief in personal concrete divinities, upon 
which an advanced polytheism was based, was an 
immemorial phenomenon in this region. Tiele's hypo- 
thesis 1 that the earliest Sumerian system was not so 
much a polytheism as a polydaimonism, out of which 
certain definite gods gradually emerged some time 
before the Semitic period, is merely a priori theorising. 
The earliest texts and monuments reveal as vigorous a 
faith in real divine personalities as the latest : witness 2 
that interesting relief recently found on a slab in the 
caravan route near Zohab, on which the goddess In- 
Hinni is bringing captives to the King Annubanini: 
the evidence of the text accompanying it points to a 
period earlier than that of King Hammurabi. We may 
compare with this the impressive relief which shows 

1 Op. cit., p. 170 ; as far as I know, only one fact might be cited in 
support of Tide's view, a fact mentioned by Jastrow, op. cit. t p. 52, 
that the idiogram of Enlil, the god of Nippur, signifies Lord-Daimon 
( Lil=Daimon) ; but we might equally well interpret it " Lord of Winds," 

2 Vide Hiising, Der Zagros und seine Volker, p. 16. 


us the stately form of Hammurabi receiving his code of 
laws from the sun-god Shamash seated on his throne x ; 
and of a later date, the alabaster relief from Khorsabad 
showing a sacrifice to Marduk, a speaking witness to 
the stern solemnity of the Babylonian worship and to 
the strength of the faith in personal divinity. 2 That this 
faith was as real in the polytheistic Babylonian as in the 
monotheistic Israelite is evinced not merely by the 
monuments, but still more clearly and impressively by 
the Sumerian hymns and liturgies. 

Nevertheless the phenomena of animism coexist in 
all this region with those of developed theism. By 
the side of these high personal deities we find vague 
companies of divine powers such as the Igigi and the 
Anunnaki, who are conceived more or less as personal 
but without clearly imagined individuality, the former 
being perhaps definable as the daimones of heaven, 
the latter as the daimones of earth. Similarly, in the 
Hellenic system we note such nameless companies of 
divine agencies as the 'Ep;m and Upctfybtxcu, conceived 
independently of the concrete figures of the polytheism. 
But, further, in the Mesopotamian religion we must 
reckon seriously with lower products of polydaemonism 
than these, the demons of evil and disease who so dom- 
inated the imagination and much of the religious life 
of the private person that the chief object of the 
elaborate ritual was, as we shall see, to combat these. 
Only, as the curtain gradually rolls away from the 
remote past of this earliest home of human culture, 
it is not given us to see the gradual emergence of the 
divine personalities, or trace as perhaps we may else- 

1 Vide Plate in Winckler, " Die Gesetze Hammurabi," in Der Alte 
Orient, 1906. 

2 Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de I'art, Assyrie, p. 109, fig. 29 (Roscher, 
Lexikon, ii. p. 2358). 


where the process from polydaimonism to theism. 
The gods, as far as we can discern, were always there, 
and at least it is not in the second millennium B.C. that 
me may hope to find the origins of theistic religion. 

As regards the other Semitic stocks, the cumulative 
evidence of early inscriptions, literary records, and 
legends is sufficient proof that the belief in high personal 
divinities was predominant in this millennium. It is 
not necessary to labour here at the details of the proof ; 
the other lines of inquiry that I am soon going to follow 
will give sufficient illustration of this ; and it is enough 
to allude to the wide prevalence of the designation of 
the high god as Baal or Bel, which can be traced from 
Assyria through Syria, in the Aramaean communities, 
in Canaan and Phoenicia, and in the Phoenician colonies : 
the Moabite Stone tells us of Chernosh ; the earliest 
Carthaginian inscriptions of Baal-Hammon and Tanit; 
from our earliest witness for Arabian religion, Herodo- 
tus, 1 we learn that the Arabs named their two chief 
divinities, Orotal and Alilat, a god and a goddess, whom 
he identifies with Dionysos and Aphrodite Ourania. 

It is still more important for us to know the stage 
reached by the Hittite religion in this early period ; 
for in the latter half of the second millennium the influence 
of the Hittite culture had more chance of touching the 
earliest Greek societies than had that of the remote 
Mesopotamia or of the inaccessible Canaanites. In the 
last thirty years the explorers of Asia Minor, notably 
Sir William Ramsay and Dr. Hogarth, have done 
inestimable service to the comparative study of the 
Mediterranean area by the discovery and interpretation 
of the monuments of Hittite art : and the greatest of 
them all, the rock-cut reliefs of Boghaz-Keui in Cap- 


padocia, has given material to Dr. Frazer for construct- 
ing an elaborate theory of Hittite sacrifice in his ' Attis, 
Adonis, Osiris.' But, before dealing with the Hittite 
monuments, the student should note the literary evidence 
which is offered by the treaty inscribed on a silver 
tablet (circ. 1290 B.C.) found in Egypt, which was 
ratified between Ramses u. and the Hittite King Chat- 
tusar ; l the witnesses to the treaty are the thousand 
gods and goddesses of the Hittite land and the thousand 
gods and goddesses of Egypt. We are certainly here not 
dealing with mere vague pluralities of spirits, such as 
may be found in an animistic system of Shamanism ; 
the thousand is only a vague numeral for the plurality 
of divinities in the Hittite and Egyptian polytheism ; 
the difference of sex would alone suffice to prove that 
the Hittite had developed the cult of personal deities, 
and the document expressly quotes the great heaven- 
god of the Hittites, called by the Egyptian name Sutekh, 
and regarded as compeer of the Egyptian Ra. Other 
personal Hittite deities are alluded to in the document, 
and among them appears to be mentioned a certain 
" Antheret of the land of Kheta." 2 Possibly a witness 
of still earlier date speaks in the Tel-Amarna letters, 
the earliest diplomatic correspondence in the world ; one 
of these, written in cuneiform to Amenhotep in., in the 
fifteenth century B.C., is from Tushratta, the King of 
the Mitani people. 3 Tushratta sends his daughter in 
marriage to Pharaoh, and prays that " Shamash and 
Ishtar may go before her," and that Amon may " make 
her correspond to my brother's wish/' He even dis- 
patches a statue of Ishtar of Nineveh, that " she may 

1 Messerschmidt, Die Hettiter, p. 9 ,* Stanley Cook, Religion of 
Ancient Palestine, p. 73, 

2 So Cook, op. cit. t p. 73, who interprets her as Astarte. 

3 Winckler, Tel-El- A mama Letters, 17. 


exercise her beneficent power in the land of Egypt " ; 
for she had revealed her desire by an oracle " to Egypt 
to the land that I love will I go." 

The Mitani chieftains bear names that show a con- 
vincingly Aryan formation, and we know from the 
momentous inscriptions found in 1907 at Boghaz-Keui 
recording treaties between the king of the Hittites and 
the king of the Mitani (B.C. 1400), that the dynasts of 
the latter people had Aryan gods in their pantheon. 1 
But the Mitani themselves were not Aryans, and are 
assumed by Winckler and Messerschmidt to be Hittites. 2 
If this were proved, the theory which it is the general 
aim of these lectures to consider, that the Babylonian 
religious system may have reached the Mediterranean 
in the second millennium, would receive a certain vrai- 
semUance from the fact revealed by the letter of King 
Tushratta, namely, that the Mitani of this period had 
adopted some of the Mesopotamian personal divinities, 
and might therefore have transmitted them to the 
coast of Asia Minor. Yet the Hittites had their own 
local divine names ; from the cuneiform inscriptions 
written in the Hittite language found"&t Van in Armenia, 
we gather the names of various Hittite gods, Teshup, 
for instance, who appears on a column found at Babylon 
holding the lightning, and in his right hand a hammer, 
which, from the analogy of other religions, we may 
interpret as the fetich-emblem of the thunder. 3 

In fact, apart from the literary evidence, the Hittite 

1 Vide Winckler, Mittheil des deutsch. Oriewtgesellsch., 1907, No. 35. 

2 Winckler, Die Volker Vordemsiens, p. 21 ; Messerschmidt, op. cit., 
p. 5 ; Kennedy, Journ. Royal Asiat. Soc., 1909, p. mo, declares that 
their language has been proved to belong to the Ural-Altaic group 
and to be akin to Vannic. 

8 Vide Messerschmidt, p. 25 (plate) ; Von Oppenheim, Der Tel- 
Halaf und die verschleierte Gottin, p. 17, publishes a somewhat similar 
figure holding a kind of club. 


monuments would be proof sufficient of the high develop- 
ment of personal religion in these regions. A relief 
with Hittite inscriptions, found near Ibriz, the old 
Kybistra, near the Cilician gates north of Tauros, shows 
us a deity with corn and grapes, and a priest adoring ; l 
he is evidently conceived, like Baal by the Semites of 
Canaan, as a local god of the earth and of vegetation. 
But the most striking of all the Hittite monuments, 
and one that is all-sufficient in itself for our present 
purpose, is the great series of reliefs on the rock at Bog- 
haz-Keui in Cappadocia, not far from the site of the 
ancient Pteria. 2 Here is revealed a great and probably 
mystic pageant of an advanced polytheism with an 
elaborate ritual and a clear faith in high gods and 
goddesses : the whole procession seems to be passing 
along the narrowing gorge towards a Holy of Holies, 
the inner cave-shrine of the Mystery. 

As we draw nearer to the Mediterranean, the facts 
are too well known to need reiteration here. Every- 
where we find proofs of a personal theism reaching far 
back into prehistoric times : whether it be the cult of 
a high god such as the Cilician divinity, called Zeus or 
Herakles by the later Greeks, or the Lycian "Apollo/' 
or a great goddess such as Ma of Comana, Cybele of 
Phrygia and Lydia. And now to all this testimony 
we can add the recently discovered monuments of a 
developed Minoan-Mycenaean religion with the elaborate 
ritual and worship of personal divinities, anthropo- 
morphically imagined on the whole. 

Such was the religious world lying before the feet 
of the Aryan Hellenes descending from the north ; 

1 Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de I' art, iv. p. 354 (fig.)- 

2 Vide Garstang, The Land of the Hittites, pi. Ixiii.-lxxi. ; Messer- 
schmidt, op, cit, t pp. 26-27. 


and when their expansion across the islands to the 
Asiatic shores began, they would find everywhere a 
religion more or less on the same plane of development. 
Therefore if, as some students appear to imagine, the 
aboriginal Hellene had not developed personal gods 
before he arrived, 1 it would be irrational to conclude 
that Babylon had taught him to worship such beings 
in place of the vague and flitting daimon. His im- 
mediate teachers would be the Minoan-Mycenaean 
peoples ; and that their theistic system was derived 
from Babylon is a theory lacking both positive evidence 
and a priori probability, as I may afterwards indicate. 
But that the proto-Hellenic peoples were in that back- 
ward condition of religious thought, is in the highest 
degree improbable. We must suppose that early 
in the second millennium they were slowly pushing 
their way down through the Balkans and through the 
country that is afterwards Thrace. So far as the earliest 
myths and records of this region throw some light on its 
prehistoric darkness, it appears to have been dominated 
by a great god. When the Thraco-Phrygian race, and 
possibly their kinsmen the Bithynoi, penetrated into 
the same region, they brought with them a father-god, 
who accompanied members of these stocks into Asia 
Minor, and settled in Phrygia, Pontus, and Bithynia by 
the side of an earlier goddess. Their cousins of the 
Indo-Iranian stock had certainly reached the stage of 
personal polytheism before 1400 B.C., as the epoch- 
making discovery of the Hittite-Mitani inscriptions at 
Boghaz-Keui, referred to above, sufficiently indicates. 2 
We cannot believe that the Hellenes of the earliest 

1 e.g. Outlines of Greek Religion, by R. Karsten, p. 6. 

2 Vide supra, p. 46; cf. E. Meyer, Das erste Awftreten der Arier in 
der Geschichte in Sitzungsb. d. konigl. Preuss. A bad. Wissensch., 1908, 
pp. 14 seq. 


migration were inferior in culture to those Thracians, 
Bithynians, or even Indo-Iranians ; for various reasons 
we must believe the reverse. And we now know from 
modern anthropology that peoples at a very low grade 
of culture, far lower than that which the Aryan stocks 
had reached at the time of the great migrations, have 
yet attained to the idea of personal and relatively high 
gods. In fact, that scepticism of certain philological 
theorists who, a few years ago, were maintaining that 
the Aryans before their separation may have had no 
real gods at all, is beginning to appear audacious and 
uncritical. At any rate, in regard to the Hellenes, 
the trend of the evidence is to my mind weighty and 
clear, making for the conviction that the different 
stocks not only possessed the cult of personal gods, but 
had already the common worship of certain deities 
when first they entered Greece. Otherwise, when we 
consider the mutual hostility of the various tribes and 
the geographical difficulties in the way of intercourse in 
early Greece, it would be difficult to explain the religious 
facts of the Homeric poems. We might, indeed, if 
Homer was our only witness, suspect him of representing 
what was merely local Achaean religion as common to 
all Greece. But we can check him by many other 
witnesses, by ancient myths and cults of diverse localities. 
Zeus was worshipped by some, at least, of the main 
tribes, when they were in the neighbourhood of Olympus : 
he is no more Thessalian than he is Dryopian. One of 
the earliest Hellenic immigrants were perhaps the 
Minyai, and their aboriginal god was Possidon. The 
ritual of Apollo preserves the clearest reminiscence of 
his entry from the north, and he is the high god of one of 
the oldest Hellenic tribes, the Dryopes, and the wide 
diffusion of his cult suggests that aboriginally it was a 



common inheritance of several stocks. The force of 
the evidence that may be urged for this view is ignored 
by Wilamowitz in his brilliant but fallacious theory 
of the Lycian origin of the god. We must reject 
the hypothesis of a proto-Hellenic godless period ; 
but, on the other hand, the mere fact that the early 
Greek religion appears on the same plane as the Meso- 
potamian, in respect of the worship of personal beings, 
gives no support at all to the theory of Oriental influence. 
If it is to be accepted, it must be sustained by more 
special evidence. 



A COMPARISON made according to the test we have just 
applied is not so important as that which arises in the 
second stage of the inquiry. Assuming that the peoples 
on the east and west of the Aegean were already on the 
same religious plane when the first glimmer of what may 
be called history begins, can we discern certain striking 
resemblances or differences in their conception and 
imagination of divinity, sufficient to prove or disprove 
the theory of borrowing or of a movement across large 
areas of certain waves of religious influence emanating 
from a fixed centre ? 

The comparison now becomes more complex, and can 
only be summarily attempted. The first leading question 
concerns the way in which the personal divine being 
is imagined. In Mesopotamia was the religious percep- 
tion dominatingly anthropomorphic, not merely in the 
sense that the higher divine attributes were suggested 
by the higher moral and spiritual life of humanity, but 
in the more material sense that the deity was imagined 
and represented habitually in human form? This 
question has been summarily treated in the first chapter. 
The Mesopotamian cults are mainly anthropomorphic ; 
in the earliest hymns and liturgies, as well as in the 

art-monuments, the divinities appear to have been 



imagined as glorified human forms. The figure of 
Shamash on the relief, where he sits enthroned inspiring 
Hammurabi, 1 the form of Ninni bringing the captives 
to Annabanini, 2 prove a very early dominance of anthro- 
pomorphic art in Mesopotamia. And the rule holds 
true on the whole of nearly all the great divinities of 
the Pantheon ; the statue of Nebo the scribe-god in the 
British Museum, 3 and the representation of him on the 
cylinders, are wholly anthropomorphic. The seven 
planetary deities on the relief from Maltaija are human- 
shaped entirely ; 4 we may say the same of the procession 
of deities on the relief from a palace of Nineveh published 
by Layard, 5 except that Marduk has horns branching 
from the top of his head ; just as on the alabaster relief 
containing the scene of worship noted above, 6 and on the 
wall-relief in the British Museum he is represented with 
wings ; but even the rigorous anthropomorphism of 
Greece tolerated both these adjuncts to the pure human 
type. The types of Ramman the weather-god, 7 and the 
representations of a Babylonian goddess, who is occasion- 
ally found with a child on her knee, and whom sometimes 
we may recognise as Ishtar, show nothing that is 
theriomorphic. On the other hand, we must note 
exceptions to this general rule. In one of the cuneiform 
inscriptions that describe certain types of deities, we read 
the following : " Horn of a bull, clusters of hair falling on 
his back ; human countenance, and strength of a . . . ; 
wings . . . and lion's body." And this description 

1 Vide supra, p. 43- 

2 Vide supra, p. 43- 

a Vid& Roscher, Lexikon, vol. iii. p. 48, s.v. " Nebo." 
* Vide Roscher, op. cit., iii. p. 67 (Mitth. aus dem Orient. Sammlung. 
zu Berlin, Heft xi. p. 23). 

6 Monuments of Nineveh, i. p. 65 (Roscher, op. cit., ii. p. 2350). 
P. 43- 

7 Roscher, op. cit., vol. iv. p. 29- 


agrees exactly, as Jeremias has pointed out, with the 
winged colossal figures, half-lion, half-man, that guarded 
the gate of the palace of Nineveh. And we must there- 
fore interpret them as gods, not as mere genii ; and he 
gives some reason for regarding them as a type of 
Nergal, the god of the underworld. 1 

Further, we find in an inscription of Asarhaddon 
the following prayer : " May the gracious bull-god and 
lion-god ever dwell in that palace, protecting the path of 
my royalty/' 2 

There is some doubt in regard to the winged figures 
with eagles' heads on the reliefs from Khorsabad, in the 
British Museum (pi. 38-40) : they are represented holding 
pine-cones and a " cista mystica " on each side of the 
sacred tree, and might be genii engaged in worship ; 
but on one of the reliefs Assur-nasir-Pal is standing before 
one of them in attitude of adoration. 
- ' But the most clear and definite evidence on this point 
is afforded by the legend and monuments of the god 
whom Berosos calls Cannes, 3 but whom modern Assyri- 
ology interprets as the ocean-born god Ea or Ae of 
Eridu, the god of all wisdom and science. According 
to Berosos, he had entirely a fish body, but a human 
head had grown under the head of the fish, human feet 
out of the fish's tail, and he spoke with human voice : 
a statue of this type was still existing at Babylon accord- 
ing to this writer in the time of Alexander. Now the 
exact type is presented in the form that appears on 
various Babylonian cylinders ; there is one that presents 
the fish-man-god standing before the tree of Life re- 
ceiving a ray perhaps from the sun above : 4 and half 

1 Roscher, op. cit., iii. p. 254-255. 

2 Schrader, Keil. BibL, ii. p. 141. 

3 Frag. Hist. Graec., ii. p. 496. Frag, i, 3. 

4 Nineveh and Babylon, pi, vi. (Roscher, op. cit. t iii. p. 580). 


his form from the girdle downwards is preserved on a 
bas-relief published by Layard, 1 showing him holding the 
bread of life in one hand and in the other a vase contain- 
ing the water of life. Here, then, is theriomorphism 
straggling with anthropomorphism as we see it strikingly 
in the religious monuments of Egypt. 

But we have no need of the theory, dear to some 
anthropologists that the earliest period of Mesopotamian 
religion was purely theriomorphic, when the deities were 
imagined and represented merely as animals, and that 
the human-shaped deities whom we find standing on 
lions in the Babylonian art had once been divine lions 
and nothing more, and had at a later period emerged 
from the animal into divine manhood. Theriomorphism 
and anthropomorphism can and generally do confusedly 
co-exist : neither in the lowest savagery or at the highest 
culture is there found a purely theriomorphic art or 
theriomorphic religion ; on the other hand, severe anthropo- 
morphism among the ancient religions is to be found 
only in the Hellenic, and we may add in the Judaic, 
though here with a quite different mode of expression 
and far more sternly controlled. In Mesopotamia we 
have nothing that points to a direct worship of animals, 2 
but we discern that the anthropomorphism is unstable ; 

1 Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, fig, 2. Reseller, op. cit., iii. p. 580. 

2 In the Amer. Journ. Archael, 1887, pp. 59-60, Frothingham cites 
examples from Assyrian cylinders of birds on pillars or altar with 
worshippers approaching : one of these shows us a seated god in 
front of the bird (pi. vii. i) ; on another, a warrior approaches a taber- 
nacle, within which is a horse's head on an altar, and near it a bird on 
a column (pi. vii. 2; cf. the boundary-stone of Nebuchadnezzar L, 
published by Miss Harrison, Trans. Congy. Hist. KeL, 1908, vol. ii. 
p. 158) ; we find also a winged genius adoring an altar on which is a 
cock. But cocks and other birds were sacrificial animals in Babylonian 
ritual, and might be interpreted in all these cases as mere temporary 
embodiments of the divinity's power ; the human-shaped divinity is 
once represented by the side of the bird, and might always have been 
imagined as present though unseen. 


the religious artist mainly clung to it, except when he 
was embodying forms of terror, the destructive demons, 
and expecially the powers of the lower world : for this 
purpose he selected the most portentous types of 
bestiality, such as we find on that bronze tablet, which 
used to be regarded as revealing an interesting glimpse 
into Babylonian eschatology : at least we may be sure 
that the lion-headed female above the horse in the canoe, 
at whose breasts two small lions are sucking, is the 
goddess of Hell. 1 It was probably through his associa- 
tion with the world of death that Nergal acquired some- 
thing of the lion's nature, and even the very human 
goddess Ishtar might assume a lion's head when she was 
unusually wroth, though this rests on a doubtful text. 
We may say, then, with fair degree of accuracy, that the 
theriomorphic forms of Babylonian religious art belong 
to demonology; and in this domain the Babylonian 
artist has shown the same powerful imagination as the 
Mycenaean : it is the former to whom we are indebted 
for the attractively alarming type of the scorpion-man. 

The phrase " unstable anthropomorphism " applies 
also to the religious literature, to the Sumerian-Baby- 
lonian hymns. The imagination of the poets in their 
highest exaltation was certainly anthropomorphic on 
the whole ; the high divinities are conceived and pre- 
sented with the corporeal, moral, and spiritual traits of 
glorified humanity. But often in the ecstasy of in- 
vocation the religious poets felt the human image too 
narrow and straightened for their struggling sense of the 
Infinite. Then the expression becomes mystic, and by 
virtue of a curious law that I indicated above, it avails 
itself of theriomorphic imagery. 2 I quoted the hymn 

1 Roscher, Lexikon, iii. p. 268. 
* FWchapter i. pp. 14-15. 


to the warrior Marduk that invokes him as " Black Bull 
of the deep, Lion of the Dark House/' Of still more 
interest is the invocation of Enlil, the earth-god of Sumer : 
" Overpowering ox, exalted overpowering ox, at thy word 
which created the world, O lord of lands, lord of the 
word of life, Enlil, Father of Sumer, shepherd of the 
dark-haired people, thou who hast vision of thyself/' l 
Seven times the words "overpowering ox" are added 
in this mystic incantation. In another hymn Enlil 
is "the Bull that overwhelms"; Ea, "the Ram of 

But this is mystic symbolism, rather than a clear 
perception of divine personality ; and we may say the 
same of such vaguely picturesque phrases as " Bel, the 
great mountain," " Asur, the great rock," an expression 
parallel to our " Rock of Ages." 2 

It naturally happens in a religion of unstable anthro- 
pomorphism that the different personalities are unfixed 
and may melt away one into the other, or may become 
conceived as metaphysical emanations, thus losing 
concrete individuality. As Dr. Langdon remarks of 
Babylonian religious phraseology, " the god himself 
becomes mystified, he retires into the hazy conception of 
an all-pervading spirit, and his word becomes the active 
agent." 3 Thus even the strongly personal goddess 
" Nana " is identified with the word of Enlil ; she herself 
exclaims, " Of the Lord his word am L" His statement 
accords with the general impression that the liturgies 
and monuments of this vast and complex religion make 
upon the student. One discerns that the religious 
art, and to some extent the religious poetry, developed 

1 Langdon, Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 127. 

2 Schrader, Keilinsch. Bibl., ii. pp. 79, 83. 
8 Op. cit. t p. xix. 


and strengthened the anthropomorphic faith and per- 
ception of the people, but not so powerfully as to 
preclude a mysticising tendency towards metaphysical 
speculation that transcended the limits of a poly- 
theism of concrete personalities. Even Allat, the 
goddess of Hell, she who was presented with the dog's 
head and the lions at the breast, was half spiritualised 
by the epithet which is rendered "spirit-wind of the 
consecrate/* 1 

In the other ancient Semitic communities we find 
the same phenomenon, a prevailing anthropomorphism 
with some slight admixture of theriomorphic idea. At 
Bambyke, the later Hierapolis, we have the record and 
tradition of Atargatis-Derketo, of human and fish-form 
combined. In the cult of Esmun in Phoenicia, Bau- 
dissin 2 suspects the incarnation of the god in a snake, 
which brought about his later identification with 
Asklepios, and he suggests that the bronze serpent 
that healed the Israelites in the desert was borrowed 
from a Canaanite idol of a healing snake. The 
Astarte - images found in prehistoric Palestine are 
mainly of human type, but one gives her the curving 
horns of a ram, and a rude bronze was found at 
Tel Zakariya of an amphibious goddess with human 
head and the tail of a fish. 3 Something real underlies 
the statement of Sanchuniathon, quoted by Eusebios, 

1 Langdon, op. cit. t p. 159, n. 18. Compare with, this the personifica- 
tion of abstract ideas ; the children of Shamash are Justice (Kettu) and 
Law (Mesaru), and remain impersonal agencies, unlike the Greek 6/us. 
A deified Righteousness (sedek) has been inferred from personal 
names that occur in the Amarna documents; vide Cook, Palestine, 

P- 93- 

2 Vide his article on " Eschmun- Asklepios/* in Orient. Stud, zu Th. 
Noldeke am joten Geburtstag gewidmet : the proofs are doubtful, but 
snake-worship in Phoenicia is attested by Sanchuniathon, Eus. Praep. 
Ev., i, 10, 46. 

3 Cook, Religion of Ancient Palestine, pp. 30-31. 


that Astarte placed on her own head the head of a 
bull. 1 

But these are exceptional phenomena ; and as the 
Hellenes in the later period were usually able to identify 
the leading Semitic deities with their own, we may see 
in this another proof that the Western and Eastern 
religions were nearly on the same plane as regards their 
perception of divine personality. 

Only, we discern signs in Canaan as in Mesopotamia, 
that the anthropomorphism is, as I have called it, un- 
stable ; for not only can the divinity be imagined as 
embodied in other forms than the human, but the 
demarcations of individuality tend at certain points to 
fall away : the most curious instance of this is that 
the female divinity seems at times to have been almost 
absorbed in the god. We must, however, distinguish 
here between what is real belief and what is mere 
theologic phrasing. In a hymn of praise to Ishtar, 
composed for the King Ashurbanapal, the equality 
of the goddess with the great Assyrian god Ahshur is 
quaintly expressed by the phrase, " like Ashur, she wears 
a beard " ; but Jastrow 2 protests against the inference 
that the goddess was therefore really regarded as male 
in the Mesopotamian religion. And indeed this is prob- 
ably only a fantastic expression of the idea that Istar 
is the compeer in power of the god, and has much of the 
masculine temperament. Even in the full vogue of 
an anthropomorphic religion which insists on the dis- 
tinctions of sex, a mystical religious thinker could rise 
to the idea that the divinity might assume the powers 

1 Praep. Ev.> i, 10, 31. Glaser, Mittheilungen uber einige Sabaeische 
Inschyiften, p. 3-4, gives reasons for affirming the worship of black 
bulls in heathen Arabia ; but it is not clear in what relation these stood 
to the high personal divinities. 

2 Op. cit. t p. 545. 


of both natures, an idea of which we find a glimpse in 
the later Greek and Greek-Egyptian theosophy. Thus 
a Sumerian hymn to Enlil characterises him as " Lord 
of winds, father and mother who creates himself"; 1 
and a well-known hymn to Sin speaks of him as 
" Maternal Body that brings everything to birth," 
and in the next line as " Compassionate, gracious 
father." 2 

The close approximation of the goddess to the god is 
more clearly discernible in the Canaanite religion. On 
the Moabite Mesha stone, Ashtar-Chemosh appears as 
a double divinity ; and one of the earlier Carthaginian 
inscriptions refers to a temple of Moloch-Astarte. 3 
Again Astarte, in the inscription on the sarcophagus of 
Eshmounazar of Sidon, is called Astart-Shem-Baal, 
which signifies Astarte the Face of Baal; and in the 
Carthaginian inscriptions the same designation occurs 
for Tanit. Renan has interpreted the phrase as expressing 
the dogma that the goddess is an emanation of the god, 
but Dr. Langdon would explain it as arising from the 
close opposition of the two statues face to face, Astart- 
Shem-Baal merely meaning, then, " She who fronts 
Baal." Whichever interpretation be correct, such close 
assimilation of the pair might evolve here and there 
the concept of a bisexual divinity. Unless the evidence 
of the classical writers is false, it did so at a later period 
under Phoenician influences in Cyprus. Macrobius 
tells us that there was in that island a statue of a 
bearded deity in female dress, regarded as bisexual, 
and he quotes Philochoros as witness to the fact, and 
to the curious phenomenon in the ritual in which the 

1 Langdon, op. cit., p. 223. 

2 Zimmern, BabyL Hymn. w. Gebete, p. 1 1 . 

3 C. I. Sem., 250. 


men wore female dress and the women male. This 
explains Catullus' phrase " duplex Amathusia" of the 
bisexual goddess. Servius and the Christian fathers 
repeat the statement, and Joannes Lydus asserts that 
the Pamphylians at one time worshipped a bearded 
Aphrodite ; a if we trust his authority, we might ex- 
plain the fact as due to late Semitic influence, which is 
somewhat attested by inscriptions on the coinage of 
Pamphylia under the Persian domination. 2 But, at the 
most, we can only regard this cult as a late phenomenon, 
a local eccentricity, and a morbid development of a 
certain vague idea that was working sporadically in the 
old Semitic religion. We have no right to assert, as 
some have occasionally ventured, that the Semitic 
peoples generally accepted the dogma of a bisexual 

Turning now to the other great area of culture that 
lay between Mesopotamia and the coast, that of the 
Hittite kingdoms, we find that the Hittite deity is 
usually presented in human form. On the great 
relief of Boghaz-Keui, the distinctions of the human 
family appear in the divine forms, in whom we may 
recognise the father god, the mother goddess with her 
young son, or it may be, as Dr. Frazer suggests, with her 
young lover. And the other Hittite representations 
of divinity to which I have referred above are of purely 
human form, and so also are the small Hittite bronze 
idols in the Ashmolean Museum. Nevertheless here, 
as in Mesopotamia, the theriomorphic fancy was active 
at the same time. On the relief at Boghaz-Keui, nearest 
to the innermost shrine, the Holy of Holies, is an idol 

1 For references, videmy Cults of the Greek States, vol. ii., " Aphrodite/' 
R. lisa. 

2 Vide Head, Hist. Num., p. 586. 


of human visage with a body composed of a bizarre 
arrangement of lion-forms ; and in the procession near 
to the main deities we note a strange representation 
of two bulls in mitred caps of Hittite fashion, and to 
these mystic beasts we may apply the name theanthropic, 
which Robertson Smith suggested for the sacrificial 
animal that was half-divine, half-human. And clearer 
evidence still is afforded by another relief found 
not far from this site at the palace of Euiuk, where a 
bull is represented on a pedestal with worshippers 
approaching. 1 He is not here the sacrificial animal, for 
he and the altar before him are on a higher plane, while 
the priest and priestess below are raising their hands 
to him as if in adoration, and are leading rams evidently 
as victims to the bull-god. We may be sure, then, that 
there was some close association of the Hittite divinity 
with the bull, as there was with the lions upon which 
both god and goddess are standing ; and this is further 
illustrated by the horns that adorn the conical cap of 
the god at Ibriz, 2 to whom the grapes and corn were 

Again, the relief on the gate at Sinjerli 3 affords us 
another clear example of a divinity only partly anthro- 
, pomorphic : a god with the body of a man and the head 
of a lion ; as he bears a hunting weapon in one hand 
and a hare in the other, and on each shoulder a bird 
is sitting, we may regard him as a deity of the chase. 
Finally, from certain cuneiform texts found at Boghaz- 
Keui, and recently published and interpreted by Professor 
Sayce, 4 we gather that the eagle, probably the double- 

1 Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de Vart, iv. fig. 329 ; cf. Garstang, 
op, cit.> p. 256. 

2 Supra, p 43. 

3 Messerschmidt, op. cit., p. 23. 

4 Jown. Roy. Asiat. Soc. t 1909, p. 971. 


headed eagle which appears as an ensign on Hittite 
monuments, was deified; for we appear to have a 
reference to "the house" or temple "of the eagle" 
(Bit Id Khu), and this fact may help to explain the 
figure of a man's body with a bird's head on a relief 
of Sinjerli. 1 

As regards the test, then, that we are at present 
applying, it seems that the Hittite and the Mesopo- 
tamian religions were more or less on the same plane, 
though we may suspect that theriolatry was stronger 
in the former. It is also important for our purpose to 
register in passing the clear proof of certain religious 
approximations, probably in the second millennium B.C., 
between the Hittites and the Assyrian Babylonian king- 
dom. The Hittite god Teshup, with the double-headed 
hammer or axe and the forked lightning in his hand, is of 
close kin and similar in type to the Canaanite, Syrian, 
and Babylonian Ramman-Adad, the god of storms. 2 
But the evidence does not yet seem to me to make it 
clear which people or group of peoples was in this case 
the borrower, which the lender. And the same doubt 
arises in respect of the striking art-type of the divinity 
standing on the lion; we find it in the early Hittite 
monuments, such as the Boghaz-Keui sculptured 
slabs ; and again on the relief of Gargamich, on which 
is a winged male deity standing on a lion and a 
priest behind him, also on a lion; 3 and later among 
the Tarsos representations of the Hittite Sandon : 
it was in vogue at the Syrian Bambyke and at 
Babylon. The assumption of Perrot 4 is that it was 

1 Luschan, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli, Heft iii. Taf. 42, 43 ; cf. 
Garstang, op. cit. f p. 274. 

2 Vide Roscher, op. cit., iii., s.v. " Ramman." 

a Perrot et CMpiez, op. cit,, iv. p. 549, fig. 276 ; cf, fig. 278. 
4 Op, tit., ii. pp. 642-644. 


of Babylonian origin, but the art-chronology does 
not seem to speak decisively in this matter. It is 
not necessary here to prejudge this difficult problem : 
it does not directly affect our present question, as 
the type of the goddess with lions comes into 
Hellas only at a later period. As regards the other 
Anatolian peoples who came into close contact with 
the Hellenes, we may find abiding influences of certain 
Hittite religious ideas and motives of religious art. We 
may admit that the lion-borne goddess of Boghaz-Keui 
is the prototype of Kybele, even the crenelated headdress 
that she wears suggesting the turreted diadem of the 
later goddess : it is likely that the ancient type of Teshup, 
the weather-god with hammer or axe and the lightning, 
survived in Commagene in the cult-figure that was 
afterwards interpreted as Jupiter Dolichenus : and it 
may have influenced the ideas about the thunder-god 
in Pontus, as a primitive relief of a god brandishing a 
thunderbolt and holding a shield has been found near 
Amasia. 1 Speaking generally, we must pronounce the 
native pre-Hellenic religious art of the Asia Minor 
littoral, of Phrygia, Lydia, Caria, anthropomorphic, so 
far as it tried at all to embody the imagined form of 
the divinity. The record is generally blurred by the 
later Hellenic influences. But we have at least in 
Phrygia rude images of the pre-Hellenic Cybele ; the 
intention of these is anthropomorphic, and in the rough 
outline of the goddess's form as hewn out of the rock of 
Sipylos above Smyrna, the Hellenes could discern their 
sorrowing Niobe. Where the anthropomorphism fails, 
as in the Phrygian monument, which shows Cybele 
seated with a phiale and human-shaped in other respects, 
but with a head fashioned like " the round capital of a 

1 Cumont, Voyage d' exploration dans le Pont, p. 139. 


pillar," 1 the influence of the aniconic fetich may be the 
cause. At any rate, we have no clear trace of therio- 
mophism either in the legend nor in the monuments of 
the great mother, the Kybele of Phrygia, or the Ma of 
Cappadocia. The power of the mountain-goddess was 
incarnate in the lions, but we have no ground for saying 
that she herself was ever worshipped as a lion. 

We turn at last to the Minoan-Mycenaean and proto- 
Hellenic periods ; for our present purpose the two 
cannot well be kept apart, as much of the evidence con- 
cerning the former is derived from records of myths 
and religious customs that were in vogue in the later 
period. Our first glimpse of the Minoan religion, which 
Sir Arthur Evans more than any one else has revealed 
to us, 2 gave us the impression of an aniconic worship 
that had for its sacred " agalmata " such fetich objects 
as the sacred pillar or double-headed axe, but which did 
not express its actual imagination of its divinities in any 
art-type. If this were so, we should not be able to 
answer the question how far the Minaon religion was 
purely anthropomorphic until we have found the inter- 
pretation of Minoan writing. But our store of monu- 
ments has been much enriched by later discoveries in 
the Palace of Knossos, and in one of its private chapels 
in which the Cross was the central sacred emblem, Sir 
Arthur Evans found the interesting figure of the snake- 
goddess purely human, but holding snakes in her hands 
and girdled with snakes, while before her stands a votary 

1 Vide Perrot et Chipiez, op, ctt., vol. iv. fig. 107 ; cf. the relief- 
figure of Cybele on a Phrygian rock-tomb, wearing on her head a polos, 
with two lions rampant raising their paws to her head, published by 
Ramsay, Hell. Jouvn. t 1884, vol. v. p. 245 ; cf, Perrot et Chipiez, iv. 
fig. no ("little more than the earlier columnar form of the goddess 
slightly hewn," Evans, Hell. Journ., 1901, p. 166). 

2 Vide < Mycenaean Stone and Pillar-cult," Hell. Jo^cyn. t igoi. 


brandishing a snake : x again, a Minoan signet-ring 
published by him 2 revealed the great mountain-goddess 
herself on the summit of a peak flanked by lions and 
holding a spear. These may be actual reproductions 
of cult-images ; and many other gems and other works 
have now been published by him and others proving 
that the people who belonged to this great Aegean 
culture of the second millennium habitually conceived of 
their gods in human form, even if they did not as a rule 
erect their idols in their temples. Thus on a gern which 
shows us an act of worship performed by a female votary 
before a sacred pillar, a human-shaped god with rays round 
his head and holding a spear is hovering in the air above 
it; 3 and on the great sarcophagus of Praisos we have on 
the one side a complex scene of ritual, conspicuous for the 
absence of any idol or eikon of the divinity, and at the 
other end a human form of god, or it may be hero, 
standing as if he had just come forth from his shrine 
or heroon. 4 In fact, the Minoan-Mycenaean religious 
monuments have revealed to us at least three personages, 
anthropomorphically conceived, of the popular religion 
of the period that we may call pre-Hellenic : a great 
goddess, often represented as throned, with fruits and 
emblems of vegetation around her, or as standing on a 
mountain and associated with lions ; a god who is some- 
times conversing with her or is descending from the sky 
armed with spear and shield, 5 and sometimes rayed ; 
thirdly, the goddess with the snake as her familiar. 

1 Evans, " Report of Excavations/' Ann. Brit. School, 1902-1903, 
p. 92, fig. 63. 

2 Ann. Brit. School, 1900-1901, p. 29, fig. 9. 

3 Published by Evans in Hell. Journ., 1901, p. 170, fig. 48. 

4 Vide Paribenfs publication in the Monumenti Antichi delta 
Accademia dei Lincei, 1908 (xix.), pp. 6-86, pis. i.-iii. 

5 Cf. Ann. Brit. School, 1900-1901, p. 59, fig. 38 ; young god with 
shield and spear and lioness or mastiff by his side,on clay seal impression. 



To this extent, then, the Minoan-Mycenaean peoples were 
on the same plane of religion as those of Mesopotamia : 
and the record of the anthropomorphic divinity can be 
traced in the Aegean area back to the fourth millennium 
B.C. by the nude figures in stone of a goddess of fecundity 
with arms pressed across her breasts, a type belonging to 
the Neolithic period. 

In passing, let us observe that neither the earliest 
prehistoric art of the Mediterranean nor the great re- 
ligious types of the Minoan divinities recall the art style 
of Mesopotamia. 

But this developed anthropomorphism of the early 
Aegean civilisation is not the whole story. Modern 
research has accumulated evidence that seems to point 
to a theriomorphic religion in Crete and in Mycenaean 
Greece which has been supposed by some to have pre- 
ceded the former in order of time and in the logical 
process of evolution, and which at any rate survived by 
the side of it. Traces of the same phenomenon have 
been noted in the Hittite area, and more faintly in 
the valley of the Euphrates. The first modern writer 
who proclaimed with emphasis the theriomorphic ele- 
ments in the prehistoric religions of Greece was Mr. A. 
Lang in his Citstom and Myth, connecting it with a 
theory of totemism that does not concern us here. After- 
wards, a systematic treatment of the problem in the 
light of the monuments of the Cretan and Mycenaean 
periods was presented by Mr. Cook in a paper published 
in the Hellenic Journal of 1894 on "Animal Worship in 
the Mycenaean Age " ; and again in 1895 by an essay on 
"The Bee in Greek Mythology " : a very full collection 
of the materials, with some exposition of important 
religious theory, will be found in De Visser's treatise, 
De Graecorum Diis non referentibus speciem humanam 


(1900). Miss J. Harrison has worked further along 
the same lines, and has published some special results 
in her paper read before the Congress of the History of 
Religions, 1908, and published in its Transactions, on "Bird 
and Pillar Worship in relation to Ouranian Divinities." 

Now the material that forms the fabric of these 
researches is so intricate, the relevant facts so manifold 
and minute, that it is impossible to consider them in 
detail within the limits of this present inquiry, of which 
the leading object is an important question of history 
concerning the religious influence of the East on the West ; 
and, again, the writers above mentioned are deeply con- 
cerned with theories about the origins, or at least the 
earlier stages in the evolution of religion. And as I am 
only comparing East and West in a limited and somewhat 
advanced period of their history, I am not necessarily 
bound to deal with problems of origin. Nevertheless, 
a summary survey of this group of facts may provide us 
with important clues towards the solution of our main 
question. But a few general criticisms of the assump- 
tions which, whether latent or explicit, are commonly 
made in the writings just quoted, may be useful at the 
outset. First, one finds that the word " worship " 
is used very loosely by the ancients as well as by con- 
temporary writers : and by its vague and indiscriminate 
employment an effort is made to convince us that the 
pre-Hellenic and proto-Hellenic world worshipped the 
lion, the ox, the horse, the ass, the stag, the wolf, the pig, 
the bird, especially the dove, the eagle, and lastly even 
the cock. We should have to deal with a savage re- 
ligion rioting in theriolatry, and we should not need to 
trouble any longer about the theory of its Mesopotamian 
origin, for as we have seen theriomorphism played a very 
small part in the Sumerian-Babylonian cult. But one 


must ask more precisely, What is worship; and what 
does lion-worship, for instance, imply? Are we to 
believe that every one of these animals was worshipped, 
the whole species being divine? And does their " wor- 
ship " mean that the superstitious people prayed to 
them, built altars or sacred columns, or even shrines to 
them, and offered them sacrifice? It has become 
urgent to reserve some such strict sense for the word as 
this, in order to preserve a sense of the distinction be- 
tween our ritual-service of a real personal divinity and 
the various, often trifling, acts that may be prompted 
by the uneasy feeling or reverential awe evoked by the 
presence of a curious or dangerous animal. Thus, to 
abstain from eating or injuring mice or weasels is not to 
worship mice or weasels : to lament over a dead sea- 
urchin is not to worship sea-urchins : to give a wolf a 
decorous funeral is not to worship wolves : to throw a 
piece of sacrificial meat to flies before a great sacrifice 
to some high divinity is not to worship flies. All 
these things the civilised Greeks could do, but they 
ought not for that to be charged with worshipping 
whole species of animals directly as gods. Next let us 
bear well in mind that secular animals, like secular 
things, can become temporarily sacred through contact 
with the altar : thus the ox who voluntarily approached 
the altar and ate of the grain or cakes upon it; might be 
believed by the Hellenes to become instantly divine, full 
of the life of the divinity, and most ceremonious respect 
resembling worship might be , meted out to him ; but 
we should not hastily believe that the Greeks who 
might feel like this towards that particular ox worshipped 
all oxen ; or that the society of King Minos worshipped 
all axes wherever found, because in peculiar circum- 
stances and ritual an axe might become charged with 


divinity. Finally, I may again protest against the fallacy 
of supposing that theriomorphism always precedes 
anthropomorphism : for an ever-increasing mass of 
evidence forces one to the conviction that they are 
often co-existent and always compatible one with the 
other ; if this is so, it is rash and unscientific to say, as 
is so easy to say and is so often said, when one meets in 
the Mediterranean or elsewhere a human god or goddess 
accompanied by a lion or a cock, that the anthropo- 
morphic divinity has been evolved from the animal. 

Looking now directly to the Minoan-Mycenaean monu- 
ments, before we consider the early Hellenic records, we 
must distinguish between those that are obviously cult- 
scenes and those that are not obviously but only hypo- 
thetically so, and this second class are those with which 
Mr. Cook's papers mainly deal. The former have been 
treated masterfully by Sir Arthur Evans in his paper on 
" Tree and Pillar Cult " ; from these we gather that the 
worshipper did not usually pray before an idol, but before 
a pillar or a sacred tree combined often with horns of 
consecration or an axe ; also that he imagined his deity 
generally in human form, the pillar serving as a spiritual 
conductor to draw down the divinity from heaven. 
Therefore I may remark that the phrase " pillar-cult " 
here, and in Miss Harrison's paper quoted above, does 
not express the inwardness of the facts. But the latter 
writer endeavours to prove the prevalence of a direct 
cult of birds in this period ; and further maintains the 
dogma that " in the days of pillar and bird anthropo- 
morphism was not yet." The Minoan monuments on 
which she relies are the great Phaistos sarcophagus, 
the trinity of terra-cotta pillars surmounted by doves 
found in an early shrine of the Palace of Knossos, 1 with 

i Ann. Brit, School, 1901-1902, p. 29. 


which are to be compared the dove-shrine of Mycenae 
and the gold-leafed goddesses of Mycenae with a dove 
perched on their heads ; and finally, the semi-aniconic idol 
of a dove goddess, with the dove on her head and her 
arms outspread like wings, found in another shrine of the 
palace of Knossos, and descending from a pre-Mycenaean 
traditional type. 1 Whatever we may think of these 
monuments, they cannot be quoted as the memorials 
of a time " when anthropomorphism was not yet " ; 
for the earliest of them, probably that mentioned last, 
is of later date than the type of the naked human- 
formed goddess of the Neolithic Aegean period. 

The question depends wholly on the true interpreta- 
tion of the monuments ; as regards the Phaistos sarco- 
phagus, the exact significance of the ritual is still a 
matter of controversy, to which I may return later, 
when I compare the ritual of east and west ; this much 
is clear, that a holy service of blood-oblation is being 
performed before two sacred trees, into the top of which 
two axes are inserted and on the axes are two birds 
painted black. Is it immediately clear that " the 
birds are objects of a definite cult," as Miss Harrison 
maintains ? 2 This may be strongly disputed ; other- 
wise we must say that the axe and the tree are equally 
direct objects of cult. But the illuminative scene on 
the signet-ring described above 3 suggests that the 
function of the pillar was to serve as a powerful magnet 
to attract a personal divinity. And Sir Arthur Evans 
has well shown that the tree and the pillar were of equal 
value as sacred objects in Minoan-Mycenaean religion. 
A sacrifice doubtless of mystic and magical power is 

1 Op. cit., p. 98, fig. 56. 

2 Trans. Cong. Hist. Relig., ii. p. 155. 

3 P. 65. 


being performed before them here : the worshippers 
may well believe that the combined influence of blood- 
offering, sacred tree, and sacred axe will draw down the 
divinity of the skies. In what form visible to the eye 
would he descend? The carver of that signet-ring 
dared to show him above the pillar in human form, as 
the mind's eye though not the sense-organ of the wor- 
shipper discerned him. But the artist of the Phaistos 
sarcophagus is more reserved. As the Holy Ghost 
descended in the form of a dove, so the unseen celestial 
divinity of Crete might use any bird of the air as his 
messenger, perhaps by preference the woodpecker or 
dove. And this natural idea would be supported by 
the fact that occasionally birds did alight on the top 
of sacred columns, and they would then instantly be 
charged with the sanctity of that object and would 
be regarded as a sign of the deity's presence and as an 
auspicious answer to prayer and sacrifice. Thus many 
birds in Greece became sacred by haunting temples; 
and Dr. Frazer has suggested that the swallows and 
sparrows that nested on the temple or on the altar at 
Jerusalem acquired sanctity by the same simple religious 
logic. 1 But it is futile to argue that therefore the Hellenes 
and Hebrews once worshipped either the whole species 
of swallows and sparrows or any single one. And Sir 
Arthur Evans' own interpretation of the doves on the 
triple group of columns, as being merely " the image 
of the divine descent, and of the consequent possession 
of the bactylic column by a spiritual being/' is sane and 
convincing. 2 This does not prove or necessarily lead 
to "bird-worship." Further, he suggests 3 that as the 
dove was originally posed on the top of the column 

1 Op. cit., i. p. 254. 

z Ann. Brit. School, 1900-1901, p. 29, n, 3. 3 Ib., p. 98. 


as a gracious sign of the divine presence, so when the 
human form was beginning to take the place of the 
column the dove would then be seen on the human 
head, as in the case of the statuettes of goddesses men- 
tioned above, and as it appeared on the head of the 
golden image at Bambyke, which some called Semiramis. 1 
The close association of the Mediterranean goddess and of 
the goddess of Askalon; Phoenicia, and Bambyke with 
doves may have been caused by several independent 
reasons ; one may well have been the habitual frequenting 
of her temple by the birds. This would easily grow into a 
belief that the goddess when she wished to reveal some- 
thing of her presence and power to the external eye 
would manifest herself in the bird. This we may call 
theriomorphic imagination that goes pari passu easily 
with the anthropomorphic. But none of these monu- 
ments come near to proving that this Mediterranean 
race directly worshipped birds, nor do they suggest any 
such theory as that the human divinity emerged from 
the bird. We shall, in fact, find that evidence of this 
kind that I have been examining, used recklessly in 
similar cases, leads to absurd results. 2 

Here it is well to remark in passing that the cult of 

1 Lucian, De Dea Syy. y 34 ; cf. Diod. Sic. 2, 5, Dove with " Astarte " 
on coins of Askalon, autonomous and imperial, Head, Hist. Num., 
p. 679. 

2 According to Aelian, certain sparrows were sacred to Asklepios, 
and the Athenians put a man to death lor slaying one ( Vav. Hist., v. 17). 
Did Asklepios as an anthropomorphic divinity emerge from the 
sparrow ? What, then, should we say of the sacred snake who might 
better claim to be his parent ? Was Hermes as a god evolved from a 
sacred cock ? Miss Harrison believes it (op. cit., ii. p. 161), because 
he is represented on a late Greek patera standing before a cock on 
a pillar. But the cock came into Europe perhaps one thousand years 
after Hermes had won to divine manhood in Arcadia. On the same 
evidence we might be forced to say that the goddess Leto came from 
the cock (vide Roscher's Lexikon, ii p. 1968, cock on gem in Vienna, 
with inscription A^rw 


the Dove-goddess is a test case for trying the question 
of Oriental influence on the west. It cannot be traced 
back to Babylon, and no one would now maintain the 
old theory that the dove-shrines of Mycenae were an 
import from the Phoenician Astarte cult. Sir Arthur 
Evans' discoveries enable us to carry back this particular 
worship in the Aegean to pre-Mycenaean times. We 
could with better right maintain that the Syrians bor- 
rowed it from the Aegean or possibly from Askalon, 
where, as Dr. Evans has pointed out; Minoan influences 
were strong. But the most reasonable view is that 
which he expresses that " the divine associations of the 
dove were a primitive heritage of primitive Greece 
and Anatolia/' * 

As regards Mr. Cook's theory of Mycenaean animal- 
worship, it is not now necessary to examine it at any 
length. It was based mainly on a comparison of a 
fairly large number of " Mycenaean " seals and gems 
from Crete and elsewhere showing monsters bearing 
animals on their shoulders or standing by them. He 
interpreted the " monsters " as men engaged in a religi- 
ous mummery, wearing the skins of lions, asses, horses, 
bulls, stags, swine, that is, as ministers of a divine lion, 
ass, etc., bringing sacrificial animals to these animal- 
deities, and he raised the large questions of totemism and 
totemistic cult-practices. His theory presents a picture 
of zoolatric ritual that cannot be paralleled elsewhere in 
the world either among primitive or advanced societies. 
And we begin to distrust it when it asks us to interpret 
the figures in a gem-representation as an ass-man bearing 
two lions to sacrifice ; for neither in Greece, Egypt; or 

1 Ann. Brit. School, 1900-1901, p. 30 ; cf. the paper by M. Salomon 
Reinach, " Anthropologie/' vi, " La sculpture en Europe avant les 
influences Gr6co-Romaines," p. 561. 


Asia is there any record of a lion-sacrifice, a ceremony 
which would be difficult to carry out with due solemnity. 
The more recent discovery of a set of clay-sealings at 
Zakro in Crete by Dr. Hogarth; who published them in 
the Hellenic Journal of 1902, has rendered Mr. Cook's 
view of the cult-value of these " monsters " now un- 
tenable. They are found in combinations too widely 
fantastic to be of any value for totemistic or a zoolatric 
theory, and the opinion of archaeologists like Sir Arthur 
Evans and Winter * that these bizarre forms arose from 
modifications of foreign types, such as the Egyptian 
hippopotamus goddess, crossed at times with the hippo- 
kamp and the lion, has received interesting confirmation 
from the discovery of a shell relief at Phaistos showing 
a series of monsters with hippopotamus heads, and in a 
pose derived undoubtedly from a Nilotic type. 2 We 
may venture to say that the exuberant fancy of the 
Minoan-Mycenaean artist ran riot and amused itself 
with wild combinations of monsters; men and animals, 
to which no serious meaning was attached. 

Only rarely, when the monsters are ritualistically 
engaged in watering a sacred palm tree or column, 3 
does the religious question arise. And here we may find 
a parallelism in Assyrian religious art, in the representa- 
tion of " winged genii fertilising the adult palms with 
the male cones " ; but according to Sir Arthur Evans 
this motive is later in the Eastern art than in the My- 
cenaean. Perhaps only one type of monster found on 
these gems and seals is derived from a real theriomorphic 
figure of the contemporary religion, namely, the Minotaur 

1 Evans in Hell. Journ,, 1901, p. 169; Winter, Arch. Anz., 1890, 
p. 108. 

2 Hogarth, Hell. Jown., 1902, p. 92. 

3 Vide gem from Vapheio, published by Evans, Hell. Journ., 1901, 
p. 101, fig. i ; cf. p. 117, figs. 13, 14, 


type. A few of the Zakro sealings show the sealed 
figure of a human body with bovine head, ears, and 
tail 1 ; and a clay seal-impression found at Knossos 
presents a bovine human figure with possibly a bovine 
head sealed in a hieratic attitude before a warrior in 
armour. 2 Such archaeological evidence is precarious, 
but when we compare it with the indigenous Cretan 
legends of the bull-Zeus and the union of Pasiphae with 
the bull, we are tempted to believe that a bull-headed 
god or a wholly bovine deity had once a place in Minoan 

To conclude, this brief survey of the Minoan-My- 
cenaean monuments points to a contemporary religion 
that preferred the aniconic agalma to the human idol, 
but imagined the divinity mainly as anthropomorphic, 
though this imagination was probably not so fixed as 
to discard the theriomorphic type entirely. Therefore 
this religion is on the same plane with that of Mesopo- 
tamia rather than with that of Egypt. 

Turning now to the proto-Hellenic period; which, 
without prejudging any ethnic question, I have kept 
distinct from the Mycenaean, we have here the advantage 
of literary records to assist the archaeological evidence. 
I have stated my conviction that the earliest Hellenes 
had already reached the stage of personal polytheism 
before conquering the southern Peninsula ; and the 
combined evidence of the facts of myths and cults 
justifies the belief that their imagination of the deity 
was mainly anthropomorphic. By the period of the 
Homeric poems, composed perhaps some five centuries 
after the earliest entrance of the Hellenes, we must 
conclude that the anthropomorphism as a religious 

1 Hogarth, op. cit., pp. 79, 91. 

2 Evans, Palace of Cnossus, p. iB, fig. 7a. 


principle was predominant in the more progressive 
minds that shaped the culture of the race : a minute 
but speaking example of this is the change that ensued 
in accordance with Homeric taste in the meaning of 
the old hieratic epithet fioSvig ; in all probability it 
originally designated a cow-faced goddess, but it is 
clear that he intends it for ox-eyed, an epithet signifying 
the beauty of the large and lustrous human eye. The 
bias that is felt in the religious poetry of Homer comes 
to determine the course of the later religious art, so 
that the religion, art, and literature of historic Greece 
may be called the most anthropomorphic or anthro- 
pocentric in the world. Yet we have sufficient proof 
that in the pre-Homeric age the popular mind was by 
no means bound by any such law, and that the religious 
imagination was unfixed and wavering in its perception 
of divinity : and the belief must have been general 
that the god, usually imagined as a man, might manifest 
himself at times in the form of some animal. Apollo 
Lykeios, the wild god of the woods, was evidently in 
the habit of incarnating himself in the wolf, so that 
wolves might be sacramentally offered to him or sacrifice 
offered to certain wolves. 1 In the Artemis legend of 
Brauron and Aulis we detect the same close communion 
of the goddess with the bear. Now, upon the fairly 
numerous indications in cult-legend and ritual that 
the deity was occasionally incarnate in the animal, 
much fallacious anthropological theory has been built. 
It is not now my cue to pursue this matter au fond. But 
it is necessary for my purpose to emphasise the fact 
that there is fair evidence for some direct zoolatry in 
the .proto-Hellenic period, though there is less than is 
often supposed, and it needs always careful criticism. 
1 Vide my Cults, iv. p. 115. 


As I have already said, the ancients of the later learned 
period were often vague and imprecise when they 
spoke of " the worship " of animals. Thus Clemens 
informs us 1 that the Thessalians " worshipped " ants, 
and on the authority of Euphorion that the Samians 
" worshipped " a sheep : the word used in each case 
being ci|3g;j>. But accurate statements concerning 
religious psychology demand the nicest discrimination : 
" a little more, and how much it is." We may suspect 
that the word <rg|3g/v was as vaguely used in antiquity 
as the term " worship " in loose modern writing : and 
it is to be remarked that when one authority uses this 
word, another may employ the verb rif*v, which does 
not imply so much. For instance, Clemens states that 
the Thebans " honoured " the weasel ; Aelian, that they 
" worshipped " it. 2 We are nearly always left in doubt 
how much is meant : whether the animal was merely 
treated reverentially and its life spared, or whether 
sacrifice and prayers were offered to it : the former 
practice may be found in almost any society modern or 
ancient, the latter is savage zoolatry, and is a fact of 
importance for the religious estimate of a people. 

I cannot consider all the cases which are given with 
sufficient fullness in the work that I have cited by 
De Visser. 3 But the instance cited above the Samian 
worship of the sheep [crpojSarov] shows us how little 
we have to build our theories on. It is quite possible 
that such a story arose from some ritual in which the 
sheep was offered reverentially, treated as a theanthropic 

1 Protrept., p. 34, P. 

2 Protrept., p. 34; P. ; Aelian, Nat. An., xii. 5. Similarly; when 
Diodorus tells us that " the Syrians honoured doves as goddesses " 
(z, 5), the statement lets little light on the real religious feeling and 
religious practice of the people. 

3 Op. tit., pp. 129-152. 


animal, half-human, half-divine, like the bull-calf of 
Tenedos in the cult of Dionysos, 1 an interesting form 
of sacrifice to which I shall have occasion to refer again. 
Clear records of actual sacrifice to animals in Greece 
are exceedingly rare. We have the quaint example 
of the so-called " Sacrifice " to the flies before the 
feast of Apollo on the promontory of Leukas ; this I 
have discussed elsewhere, 2 pointing out that it seems 
only a ritual trick to persuade the flies to leave the 
worshippers alone, and certainly does not suggest the 
"worship'* of flies. 2 There is also a dim ritual-legend 
attaching to the temple of Apollo the wolf-god in Sikyon; 
which appears to point to some sacrifice to wolves in 
or near the temple at some early period. 3 The third 
case is more important : the " sacrifice to the pig/' which 
Athenaeus, quoting from Agathokles of Kyzikos, attests 
was an important service at Praisos in Crete, performed 
as a vrporeiJjg $v<rtcc, that is, as a preliminary act in 
the liturgies of the higher religion. 4 The ritual-legend 
'explained the act as prompted by the service that a 
sow had rendered to the infant Zeus ; but it remains 
mysterious, and we would like to have had more clear 
information as to the actual rite. Finally, we have the 
most important type of zoolatric ritual in Greece, the 
worship of certain sacred snakes : various records attest 
this in the cult of Trophonios at Lebadeia and in the 
temple of Athena Polias at Athens ; in the cult of Zeus- 
Meilichios in the Piraeus, in the sacred grove of Apollo 
in . Epeiros, probably in the shrines of Asklepios at 
Epidauros and Kos, and elsewhere. 

1 See my Cults, v. pp. 165, 167, R. 79. 

2 Anthropological Essays -presented to E. B. Tylor, p. 99. 

3 Cults, iv. p. 115. 

4 This view of the passage is more probable than that which I 
have taken in Cults, i. p. 37 (R. 8, p. 141). 


Now it is important to note that these ritual records 
nowhere suggest that whole species of animals were 
worshipped, but that only certain individuals of that 
species, haunting certain places to which a sense of 
religious mystery attached, such as a cave or a lonely 
grove, or else found in or near some holy shrine, were 
thus marked out as divine. Also, we observe that 
in all the examples just quoted, the cult of the animal 
is linked to the cult of some personal god or goddess 
or hero : the snake, for instance, is the natural incar- 
nation of the underworld divinity or hero. The only 
exception to this latter rule that may be reasonably 
urged is the prehistoric worship of Python at Delphi, 
which, as Dr. Frazer has pointed out, is curiously like 
the ritual and cult of a fetich-snake in Dahomey. 1 Yet, 
for all we know, Python, who in the earliest version of 
the story is of female sex, may at a very early time 
have been regarded not as a mere snake, but as an 
incarnation of the earth-goddess Gaia, who ruled at 
Delphi before Apollo came. The question whether the 
ancestors of the Hellenes or the pre-Hellenic peoples 
with whom they mixed were ever on the lowest plane 
of theriolatry does not concern us here. What is 
important is, that the records, both Mycenaean and 
Hellenic, justify us in believing that the dominant 
religion in Greece of the second millennium B.C. was the 
worship of personal divinities humanly conceived who 
could occasionally incarnate themselves in animal form, 
and that where animal worship survived it was always 
linked in this way to the cults of personal polytheism. 
From the Homeric period onward, the higher Hellenic 
spirit shows itself averse to the theriomorphic fashion 
of religion ; yet this never disappeared wholly from 
1 Commentary on Pausanias, vol. iii. p. 55. 


the lower circles. Arcadia, the most backward and 
conservative of the Greek communities, never accepted 
the rigid anthropomorphic canon. This is shown by 
the record of the Phigaleian Demeter with the horse's 
head; the mysterious goddess Eurynome of Phigaleia, 
half-woman, half-fish; the Arcadian Pan, the daimon 
of the herds, imagined as with goat legs and sometimes 
with goat's head ; and, finally, by the Arcadian idols 
of the Roman period found at Lykosoura in 1898, 
representing the female form with the head of a cow. 1 

This resume of the facts, so far as it has gone, ap- 
pears to justify the theorem with which it started, that 
the " Mycenaean " peoples and proto-Hellenes in the 
second millennium were on the whole, in respect of the 
morphology of their religion, on the same plane as 
those of the Euphrates valley; only it appears that 
theriomorphism played slightly more part in the cults 
and legends of the West than in those of the Sumerian- 
Babylonian culture. It is obvious to any student of 
comparative religion that such general similarity which 
we have here observed, and which we might observe if 
we compared early Greece with Vedic India, neither 
proves nor disproves a theory of borrowing. And so 
far there seems no occasion for resorting to such a 
theory, unless the type of the fish-goddess at Phigaleia 
be considered a reason for supposing Semitic influences 
here at work and for tracing her ancestry to Derketo 
of Bambyke. For such transference of cult we might 
have to invoke the help of Phoenicians, who arrive 
on the scene too late to help us in the present quest, 
and who are not likely to have been attracted into the 
interior of Arcadia. 

1 Bull. Corr. Hell, 1899, p. 635 (plate). 



THE next clue that I propose to follow in our general 
comparison is the relative prominence of the goddess- 
cult in the areas that we are surveying. The subject 
is of importance and interest, partly because it may 
throw some light on the question of the interdependence 
of the adjacent religions, partly because it brings into 
view certain striking facts of religious psychology, A 
religion without a goddess is liable to differ markedly 
in tone and colour, and probably in ritual, from those 
that possess one. Wherever anthropomorphism is 
allowed free play, the same instinct which evolves the 
father-god will evolve the mother-goddess ; and when 
the religion is one of the type which Tiele calls " Nature- 
religions/' one, that is, where ideas reflecting the forces 
of the natural world lie on the surface of the conception 
of the divine personality, some of these forces are so 
naturally regarded as feminine that the evolution of 
a goddess appears inevitable ; and the only world- 
religions that have rejected this idea are the Judaic, 
the Islamic, and Protestant Christianity. Now goddess- 
cult is often found to exercise a powerful influence on 
the religious emotion ; and the religious psychology of 
a people devoted to it will probably differ from those 
who eschew it ; often it will be likely to engender a 
peculiar sentiment of tenderness, of sentimentality in 


an otherwise austere and repellent religious system ; 
and the clinging entreaty of the child is heard in the 
prayers or reflected in the ritual ; and just as the 
mother frequently stands between the children and the 
father as the mild intercessor, so the goddess often 
becomes the mediator of mercy to whom the sinners 
turn as their intercessor with the offended god. Such 
was Isis for the Graeco-Roman world ; such at times was 
Athena for the Athenians ; such is the Virgin for 
Mediterranean Christendom. 

Or the goddess may be more merciless than any 
god, more delighting in bloodshed, more savage in 
resisting progress : such often was Artemis for the 
Greeks, such is Kala at this moment in India, a danger- 
ous and living force that threatens our rule. Again, 
the goddess may encourage purity in the sexual relations ; 
this was the potential value of the ideal of Artemis in 
Greece, and perhaps the actual value of Mariolatry in 
the Middle Ages. Or the goddess-cult may be the source 
of what to us appears gross licentiousness, as was the 
case in Babylon and some parts of Asia Minor. This 
discordance in the character of goddess-cults may 
reflect the diversity of the masculine feeling towards 
women, and also to some extent the position of women 
at different stages of culture in the family and in the 
State. The whole subject has many fascinating aspects, 
which relevance prevents me presenting in detail. I 
have considered elsewhere the sociologic questions 
involved in goddess-cult ; 1 and I must limit my atten- 
tion here to its value as ethnic evidence. 

In Mesopotamia the phenomenon presents itself at 
the very earliest period of which we have record. The 

1 Archiv. fur Religionswissenschaft, 1904, " Sociologic hypotheses 
concerning the position of women in ancient religion/ 1 


monument already described * on which the goddess 
Nini is presenting captives to the King Annabanini; 
attests the prevalence of goddess-cult in the third 
millennium ; and Tiele supposes without, I think, 
sufficient evidence that it was stronger in the Sumerian 
than in the Semitic period. At all events, the con- 
quering Semites may have found the cult of goddesses 
well developed in the land ; and in all probability they 
brought at least one of their own with them, namely, 
Ishtar, whose name has its phonetic equivalents in 
Semitic Anatolia. Also at least by the second millen- 
nium B.C., the Babylonian pantheon was organised after 
the type of the human family to this extent, that each 
male divinity has his female consort ; and it would not 
help us now to consider the theorem put out by Jere- 
mias and others that the various Babylonian goddesses 
are all emanations and varieties of one original All- 
mother. Only the mighty Ishtar remains for the most 
part aloof from the marriage system; and her power 
transcends that of the other goddesses. Originally 
the chief goddess of the Sumerian Erech, she was raised 
by the Assyrians to the highest position next to their 
national god Asshur ; 2 and for them she is the great 
divinity of war, who, armed with bow, quiver, and 
sword, orders the battle-ranks. In a famous hymn, 3 
perhaps the most fervent and moving of all the Baby- 
lonian collection, she seems exalted to a supreme place 
above all other divinities ; another 4 displays the same 
ecstasy in adoration of the goddess Belit, imputing omni- 
potence to her, as one to whom the very gods offer 
prayers. The same idea may be expressed in a difficult 

1 Vide supra, p. 43. 

2 Vide Jastrow, op. cit. t i p. 216. 

3 Zimmern, Bab. Hymn. u. Gebete, p. 20. 

4 16.; p. 24. 


phrase in a hymn to Nebo 1 which contains his dialogue 
with Assurbanipal : " Nebo, who has grasped the feet 
of the divine goddess, Queen of Nineveh/' the goddess 
who came to be regarded as Ishtar. 

From such isolated indications we might conclude 
that the Babylonian- Assyrian religion was more devoted 
to the goddess than to the god. We should certainly 
be wrong, as a more critical and wider survey of the 
facts, so far as they are at present accessible, would 
convince us. These hymns imputing supreme omni- 
potence to the goddess, whether Ishtar or another, 
may be merely examples of that tendency very marked 
in the Babylonian liturgies, to exalt the particular 
divinity to whom worship is at that moment being 
paid above all others. The ecstatic poet is always 
contradicting himself. To the omnipotent Belit, in 
the last-mentioned hymn, a phrase is attached which 
Zimmern interprets as " she who carries out the com- 
mands of Bel," as if after all she were only a vicegerent. 
In the beautiful prayer to Jshtar proffered by the Assyrian 
King Asurnasirabal (i8th cent. B.C.) he implores her 
to intercede for him; " the Priest- King, thy favourite . . . 
with Thy beloved the Father of the gods / ' 2 The beloved 
wife naturally plays the Madonna part of the intercessor ; 
thus Sanherib prays that Ninlil ' ' the consort of Ashur, 
the mother of the great gods, may daily speak a favour- 
able word for Sanherib, the king of Assyria, before 
Ashur." 3 But the intercessor is not supreme ; and in 
spite of the great power of Ishtar and the fervent 

1 A. Jeremias in Roscher's Lexikon, vol. iii. p. 62, $.v. " Nebo/' 

2 Zeitschr. f. Assyriologie, 1890, p. 72. 

3 Jastrow, op. cit. t vol. i. p. 525 ; ct the inscription of the last of 
the Babylonian kings, Nabuna 'id, who prays to Ningal, the mother of 
the great gods, to plead for him before Sin (Keilinschy. Bibl, iii. 


devotion she aroused, the state-pantheon is predomin- 
antly masculine. 

Nor can we, looking at the ancient records of the 
other Semitic peoples, which are often too scanty to 
dogmatise about, safely speak of the supremacy of 
the goddess in any Semitic community, except in Sidon. 
All that we find everywhere, except among the Israelites, 
is a goddess by the side of a god. According to Weber, 
in his treatise, " Arabien vor dem Islam/' 1 the aboriginal 
god of all the Semites when they were in the nomadic 
condition was the moon-god ; and the male divinity 
is nowhere found to be displaced. He is prominent 
among the polytheistic Arabs under the name Athtar. 2 
Some of the Arab deities in North Arabia are revealed 
to us in an inscription dating probably from the fifth 
century B.C., which mentions the gods Salm, Sangala, 
Asira, and of these Salm was evidently a war-god, as 
he is represented on a relief with a spear. 3 

The Aramaic inscriptions only reveal the goddess 
Ishtar by the side of many powerful gods such as 
Ramman, Adad the god of storms, Shamash the sun- 
god, Reshef the god of lightning and war, Baal-charran 
the Lord of Harran. 4 An eighth - century Aramaic 
inscription found at Sinjerli in North Syria, written in 
the reign of Tiglath-Pileser in., mentions no goddess, but 
regards the kings as under the protection of Hadad, 
Elreshef , and Shamash. 6 Even in Canaan and Phoenicia 
we have no reason to say that Astarte rose above Baal ; 
such an epithet as " the Face of Baal " appears to 
maintain the supremacy of the God. In Moab we have 

1 Der Alte Orient (1904), p. 20. 

2 Weber, op. cit., p. 19. 

3 C. I. Sem., 2, i, n. 2 , 113. 

* Sanda, Der Alte Orient, " Die Aramaer," p. 24. 

5 Lagrange, Etudes sur les religions semitiques, p. 492. 


the evidence of the Mesha stone, which mentions the 
divine pair Ashtor-Chemosh, and in Numbers 1 the 
Moabites are called the people of Chemosh. But we 
have Phoenician inscriptions of the period of Persian 
supremacy in which the king of Byblos, Jachumelek, 
speaks of himself as raised to the kingdom by the Baalat, 
the queen-goddess of that state ; and he prays to her 
that the queen may give him favour in the eyes of the 
gods and in the eyes of the people of his land. 2 Astarte 
was par excellence the city-goddess of Sidon, and on 
the later Imperial coinage we see her image drawn in 
a car. Two representations of her have been found, 
in one of which she is seated in front of the king, 3 the 
other shows her embracing him. 4 King Tabnit of Sidon, 
whose sarcophagus is in the Museum of Constantinople, 
styles himself ' ' priest of Astarte, King of the Sidonians." 5 
But in the other Phoenician settlements, such as Tyre, 
Cyprus, and Carthage, the memorials of the male divinity, 
whether Baal, Baal Samin, Baal Ammon, Reshef Mikal, 
Esmun-Melqart, are at least as conspicuous. It is likely 
that at certain places in the Mediterranean the Semites 
were touched by the influences of the aboriginal Aegean 
goddess's cult ; this may well have been the case at 
Sidon, and still more probably at Askalon, and it may 
have penetrated as far as Bambyke. 

Speaking generally, however, we may conclude 
that among the early Semites the male divinity was 
dominant. And if we could believe that this is a reflec- 
tion in their theology of the patriarchal system in 
society, let us observe that the earliest Babylonian 

1 xxi. 29. 

2 Von Landau, Die phonizischen Inschriften, p. 13. 

3 C. I. Sem., i, ii. ad init. 

4 Ib., i, 7, p. 2. 

5 Von Landau, op. cit. 9 p. 14. 


evidence proves that the patriarchal type of family 
was dominant in Babylonia in the third millennium. 

Passing over to the non-Semitic group of Anatolian 
cults, and considering first the Hittite, we have ample 
evidence in the great relief of Boghaz-Keui of the 
importance of the goddess ; and it may well be, as Dr. 
Frazer has conjectured, that that monument; on which 
we see the great god borne on the shoulders of his 
worshippers to meet the goddess on the lion, gives us 
the scene of a Holy marriage. 1 We find the male and 
female divinity united in a common worship on a relief 
found near Caesarea in the middle of Cappadocia, on 
the left side of which is depicted a warrior-god standing 
before a pillar-shaped altar, while a man in the guise 
of a warrior is pouring a libation before him ; on the 
right is a similar scene, making libation before a seated 
goddess, on whose altar a bird is seated. 2 Besides this, 
we have another type of goddess shown us on a Hittite 
votive-relief, on which is carved a large seated female 
figure with a child on her knees ; we may surely in- 
terpret this as a flea Kovporpdtyog? Again, on two of the 
reliefs at Euzuk we find a seated goddess holding a 
goblet and approached with prayers, libations, and other 
offerings by priest and priestess, 4 and we may venture 
to add to this list of Hittite types the mysterious veiled 
goddess found by Von Oppenheim at Tel-Halaf in 
Mesopotamia on the Chabur, a branch of Euphrates, 
with an inscription containing the name Asshur, a 
work which, on the evidence of other cuneiform in- 
scriptions found on the site, he would date near to 

1 Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 2nd ed., p. 108; Garstang, op. cit., 
pi. Ixv. 

2 Messerschmidt, Die Hettiter, pp. 27, 28. 

3 Perrot et Chipiez, op. cit., figs. 280, 281. 

4 Garstang, op. cit. t pi. Ixxiii. pp. 262-263, 267-268. 


900 B.C. 1 But this evidence in no way amounts to 
any proof or affords any suggestion of the predominance 
of the goddess and the Tel-El-Amarna correspondence 
of the Hittite kings implies that the male and female 
divinity were linked in an equal union in the Hittite 
religion. The text of the treaty between Rameses 11. 
and the Kheta (circ. 1290 B.C.) includes various sun-gods, 
Sutekh, the Egyptian name for the Hittite war-god, and 
Antheret (possibly a form of the name Astoret), and 
other goddesses called "the Queen of Heaven, the 
Mistress of the Soil, the Mistress of Mountains/' 2 
Can we draw any conclusions from that extraordinary 
monument from Fassirlir 3 on the borders of Lycaonia 
and Pisidia, representing a young god in a high cap 
that suggests Hittite fashion, standing on the neck 
of a stooping goddess at whose side are two lions ? 
This might seem a naive indication of male supremacy ; 
but the sex of the supporting figure does not seem 
clear. 4 

Coming now to the Asia-Minor shore, where in the 
first millennium B.C. the Hellenic colonisation and culture 
flourished, we find the traces of a great goddess-cult 
discoverable on every important site ; though recorded 
only by later writers, as a rule, and interpreted to us by 
the later Greek names, such as Artemis, Leto, Aphrodite, 
more rarely Athena, we can still discern clearly that 
she belongs to a pre-Hellenic stock. The evidence of 
this can be gathered from many sources, and it is un- 

1 Der AUe Orient, 1908; Der Tel-Halaf und die verscMeierte Gottin, 
PP. 33, 36. 

2 Vide Cook, Religion of Ancient Palestine, p. 73 ; Winckler, Tel-el- 
Amavna Tablets ; Garstang, op. cit. f p. 348, 

3 Published by Ramsay, Cities of St. Paul, p. 134, fig. 7. 

4 Garstang, op. cit., pp. 175-176, interprets the figure as a 


necessary to detail it here. What is more important, 
and not so easy, is to detect clear proof of the predomin- 
ance of the goddess over the god, a phenomenon that 
has not yet presented itself clearly in the Semitic 
communities, except at Sidon and perhaps Byblos. We 
find goddess-cult in Cilicia, where {e Artemis Sarpedonia " 
is a name that trails with it Minoan associations ; l 
but, as Dr. Frazer has pointed out, 2 at least at Tarsos 
and Olba it appears that the male deity was the dominant 
power. At the former city a long series of coins attests 
the supremacy of Baal-Tars and Sandon-Herakles. At 
Olba the ruling priesthood were called the Teuzpfoai, 
and claim descent from Teukros and Aias, but Greek 
inscriptions giving such names as " Teukros " the 
priest, son of Tarkuaris, support the view that Teukros 
is a Hellenisation of the divine Hittite name Tarku. It 
is in Lycia where we ought, in accordance with a popular 
theory, to find the clearest proof of goddess-supremacy ; 
for we know that the Lycians had the matrilinear 
family system, and this was supposed by Robertson 
Smith to lead logically to that religious product. 3 And 
recently we have heard Professor Wilamowitz 4 brilli- 
antly expound the theory that Leto was the aboriginal 
mother-goddess of Lycia, called there in the Lycian 
tongue " Lada," and worshipped as supreme with her 
son Apollo, both of whom the Hellenes found there, 
and while they transformed Lada " the Lady-goddess " 
into Leto, surnamed Apollo A^ro/S^, in obedience to 
the Lycian rule of calling a son after his mother. And 
where a son is worshipped merely as the son of his 

1 Vide my Cults, vol. ii, Artemis-References, R. 7Q m . 

2 Adonis, etc., 2nd ed., p. 129. 

3 Religion of the Semites, p. 52. 

4 In lecture delivered in Oxford on "Apollo," and published 1909; 
cf. Ms article in Hermes, 1903, p. 575. 


mother, we may regard the mother-goddess as supreme. 
The theory about Apollo's Lycian origin, which, I 
think, contradicts all the important facts, does not 
concern us here. It is his view that Leto is the aboriginal 
and paramount divinity of Lycia which we would wish 
to test. So far as it rests on the equation between 
Leto and Lada, its philology is bad ; for, as Dr. Cowley 
has pointed out on the evidence of Lycian-Greek tran- 
scribed names, the Greeks would not have transcribed 
Lada as Leto. Furthermore, the geography of the 
Leto-cult gives no vraisemblance to the theory of its 
Lycian origin ; neither have we any proof at all of 
the cult of any goddess in Lycia at an early period, 
though no doubt it existed ; the coin of Myra, showing 
a goddess emerging from the split trunk of a tree, 1 
is of the Imperial period, but preserves an ancient 
legend and an archaic idol-type. But the earliest fact 
of Lycian religion recorded is the predominance of 
Apollo, and the Lycians maintained him as their chief 
divinity throughout their history and long after the 
very early influences of Hellenic colonisation had 
waned. The inscriptions of Lycia that mention Leto 
are all of the later period ; her temple near Xanthos and 
her two holy groves on the coast that Strabo mentions 2 
are just on the track along which the earliest Hellenic 
influence travelled : and the most tenable view is that 
the Hellenes introduced her. In Caria, at Labranda, 
and again in the vicinity of Stratonikeia, we have proof 
of the early supremacy of a great god whom the 
Hellenes called Zeus, attaching to him in the latter 
centre of cult the Carian name of Panamaros, and 
associating him with a native goddess called Hera or 

1 Cults, vol. ii., " Artemis " Coin-Pi. B, n, 28. 

2 Pp. 651, 652, 665. 


Hekate, who did not claim to be the predominant 
partner. 1 

It is not till we come to the neighbourhood of 
Ephesos that we can speak positively of goddess- 
supremacy. Artemis, as the Greeks called her here, 
is admittedly vpetroipovfu, the first in power and in 
place. Her brother Apollo himself served as the 
ffr$<puvq<f)6pog of the Artemis of Magnesia, that is, as 
her officiating magistrate, 2 and Artemis of Magnesia 
we may take to be the same aboriginal goddess as the 
Ephesian. Certain features of her worship will be 
considered later in a comparative survey of ritual and 
cult-ideas. I will only indicate here the absence of 
any proof of the Semitic origins of the Ephesian Artemis, 3 
and the associations that link her with the great mother- 
goddess of Phrygia. When we reach the area within 
which this latter cult and its cognate forms prevailed, 
we can posit the predominance of the goddess as a 
salient fact of the popular religion imprinting indelible 
traits upon the religious physiognomy of the people. 
The god Attis was dear to the aboriginal Phrygian as 
to the later generations, but he was only the boy-lover, 
the young son who died and rose again. The great 
goddess was supreme and eternal ; and her power 
spread into Lydia, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Galatia, 
and far and wide in the later period across the sea. 

1 The inscriptions throwing light on the cult at Panamara are 
contained in Butt. Corr. Hell., n, 12, 15 (years 1887, 1888, 1891) ; 
cf. the article in Roscher's Lexikon, vol. Hi., s.v. " Panamaros." 

2 Vide my Cults, vol. iv. p. 173 ; cf. ib., Apollo Geogr. Reg., 
s.v. " Phrygia," p. 452, and R. 57. 

3 The type with many breasts might have been suggested by 
Babylonian symbolism, for the Goddess of Nineveh is spoken of as 
four-breasted (vide Jeremias in Roscher's Lexikon, vol. ii, s.v. "Nebo "), 
but Dr. Hogarth's excavations have shown that this form of the 
Ephesian idol is late. 


Her counterpart in Cappadocia was Ma, the great goddess 
of Comana, in whose worship we hear nothing of the 
male divinity. In this wide area, governed by the 
religion of the Great Mother, we can trace a similar 
ritual and something of the same religious psychology 
in the various peoples : orgiastic liturgy and ecstatic 
passion, a craving for complete identification with the 
goddess that led to acts of sexual madness such as 
emasculation; also a marked tone of sorrow and 
tenderness in the legends and religious service. In 
following back to its fountain-head the origins of this 
cult, we are led inevitably to Minoan Crete. 

There are many links revealed both by legend and 
cult that associate Crete with the country adjacent 
to the Troad, with Lydia and Caria. And we may 
tentatively hold to the dogma that Kybele-Rhea, Hipta of 
Lydia, who appears now as a virgin, now as a mother- 
goddess, Ma who appears in Caria, but whose chief 
historic centre was Comana of Cappadocia, were all 
descended from or specialised forms of an aboriginal 
Aegean or Anatolian goddess whose cult was also main- 
tained by the Hittites. Of her nature and ritual I may 
speak later. I am only concerned here with the correct- 
ness of the view put forward by Sir Arthur Evans. 1 
" It is probable that in the Mycenaean religion as in the 
later Phrygian, the female aspect of divinity predomin- 
ated, fitting on, as it seems to have, down to the matri- 
archal system. The male divinity is not so much the 
consort as the son or the youthful favourite." If we 
put aside the suggestion of a matriarchal theory here, 
the main idea in this judgment accords generally 
with the evidence that the author of it has himself 
done most to accumulate and to present to us. It is 

1 Hell. Journ., 1901, p. 168. 


not insignificant that the earliest type of Aegean idol 
in existence is that of a goddess, not a god ; and in the 
more developed Minoan period the representations of 
the goddess are more frequent and more imposing than 
those of the god ; while in the few scenes of cult where 
the male deity appears in her company, he appears 
in a subordinate position, either in a corner of the field 
or standing before her throne. 1 And a strong current 
of early Greek legend induces us to believe that when 
the earliest Hellenes reached Crete they found a powerful 
goddess-cult overshadowing the island, associated with 
the figure of a young or infant god : hence spread the 
Cretan worship of Rhea and the Mjyr^p rv 6z5v, and 
hence there came to a few places on the Hellenic main- 
land, where Minoan influence was strong, the cult and 
the cult-legend of the infant Zeus. 2 Yet we must not 
strain the evidence too far ; besides the youthful or 
infant Cretan god, there may have been the powerful 
cult of a father-god as well. On three monuments we 
catch a glimpse of the armed deity of the sky. 3 What is 
more important is the prominence of the double-headed 
axe in the service of the Minoan palace ; and this must 
be a fetichistic emblem mystically associated with the 
thunder-god, though occasionally the goddess might 
borrow it. The prominence and great vogue of this 
religious emblem detracts somewhat from the weight 
of the evidence as pointing to the supremacy of the 
female divine partner. It is Zeus, not Rhea, that inspired 
Minos, as Jahwe inspired Moses, and Shamash Hammu- 
rabbi. Yet the view is probably right on the whole 
that the mother-goddess was a more frequent figure in 

1 Vide op. cit., p. 108, fig. 4, and p. 175, fig. 51, 

2 Cults, vol. i. pp. 36-38 ; vol. lit pp. 294-296. 

3 Cf . those cited in note * above, and the shield-bearing figure 
painted on the tomb of Milato in Crete (ib. p. 174). 


the Minoan service, and was nearer and dearer to the 

May we also regard her as the prototype of all the 
leading Hellenic goddesses ? The consideration of this 
question will bring this particular line of inquiry to a 

If we find goddess-supremacy among the early 
Hellenes, shall we interpret it as an Aryan-Hellenic 
tradition, or as an alien and borrowed trait in their 
composite religion ? If borrowed, are they more likely to 
have derived it from the East or from their immediate 
predecessors in the regions of Aegean culture? The 
latter question, if it arises, we ought to be able to 
answer at last. 

We might guard ourselves at the outset against the 
uncritical dogma which has been proclaimed at times 
that the goddesses in the various Aryan polytheisms 
were all alien, and borrowed from the pre- Aryan peoples 
in whose lands they settled. Any careful study of the 
Vedic and old-Germanic, Phrygo-Thracian religions can 
refute this wild statement : the wide prevalence in 
Europe of the worship of " Mother Earth," which 
Professor Dieterich's treatise establishes, 1 is sufficient 
evidence in itself. Nor could we believe that the early 
Aryans were unmoved by an anthropomorphic law of the 
religious imagination that is almost universally opera- 
tive. The Hellenic Aryans, then, must be supposed to 
have brought certain of their own goddesses into Greece, 
and perhaps philology will be able one day to tell us who 
exactly they were. On linguistic and other grounds, 
Dione and Demeter may be accepted as provedly old 
Hellenic : on the same grounds, probably, Hera ; also the 
name and cult of Hestia is certainly " Aryan/' 2 only we 

1 Mutter Erde, 1905. 2 Vide my Cults, v. pp. 345-365- 


dare not call her in the earliest, and scarcely at any 
period, a true personal goddess. Now, there is a further 
important induction that we may confidently make : at 
the period when the Aryan conquerors were pushing their 
way into Aegean lands and the Indo-Iramans into the 
Punjaub and Mesopotamia, they had a religious bias 
making for the supremacy of the Father-God and against 
the supremacy of the goddess. We can detect the same 
instinct also in the old Germanic pantheon. 1 Its 
operation is most visible when the Thrako-Phrygian 
stock, and their cousins the Bithynian, broke into 
the north of Asia Minor, and the regions on the south 
of the Black Sea. The god-cult they bring with them 
clashes with the aboriginal and as it proved 
invincible supremacy of the goddess linked to her divine 
boy: we hear of such strange cult-products as Attis- 
TIcwcttoG, Father Attis, and one of the old Aryan titles 
of the High God appears in the Phrygian Zeus Bay#/0, 
Bagha in old Persian and Bog in Slavonic meaning deity. 
The Aryan hero-ancestor of the Phrygian stock, Manes, 
whom Sir William Ramsay believes to be identical with 
the god Men, becomes the father of Atys ; 2 also we have 
later proof of the powerful cult of Zeus the Thunderer, 
Zeus the Leader of Hosts, in this region of the southern 
shore of the Black Sea. Another induction that I venture, 
perhaps incautiously, to make, is that in no Aryan 
polytheism is there to be found the worship of an isolatedor 
virgin-goddess, keeping apart from relations with the male 

1 The Celtic question is more difficult : Prof. Rhys in Ms excellent 
paper on Celtic religion, read as a Presidential address at the Congress 
of the History of Religions, 1908 (Transactions, ii pp. 201-225), gives 
the impression that the goddess was more in evidence than the god in 
old Irish mythology, and doubts whether to attribute this to the 
non-Indogermanic strain in the population ; he notices also certain 
" matriarchal " phenomena in the religion ; cf. ib. t p. 242. 

2 Herod., i, 94 ; 4, 45 (note here the Thracian associations of Manes) . 


deity : the goddesses in India, Germany, Ireland, Gaul, 1 
Thrace, and Phrygia are usually associated temporarily 
or permanently with the male divinity, and are popularly 
regarded as maternal, if not as wedded* Trusting to 
the guidance of these two inductions, and always conscious 
of the lacunae in our records, we may draw this impor- 
tant conclusion concerning the earliest religious history 
of Hellas : namely, that where we find the powerful cult 
of an isolated goddess, she belongs to the pre-Hellenic 
population. The axiom applies at once and most 
forcibly to Artemis and Athena ; the one dominant in 
certain parts of Arcadia and Attica, the other the 
exclusive deity of the Attic Acropolis. Their virginal 
character was probably a later idea arising from their 
isolation, their aversion to cult-partnership with the 
male deity. 2 The Aryan Hellenes were able to plant 
their Zeus and Poseidon on the high hill of Athens, but 
not to overthrow the supremacy of Athena in the central 
shrine and in the aboriginal soul of the Athenian people. 
As regards Hera, the question is more difficult : the 
excavations at the Heraeum have been supposed by 
Dr. Waldstein to prove the worship of a great goddess 
on that site, going back in time to the third millennium 
B,c., 3 a period anterior to the advent of the god-worship- 
ping Aryan Hellenes. And this goddess remained 

1 The Romanised-Celtic cult of a vague group of ' ' Sanctae Virgines, ' ' 
attested by an inscription found near Lyons (Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, 
p. 102), counts very little against this induction. 

2 The warlike character of these Virgin Goddesses, Athena, Ishtar, 
might be explained on a sociologic hypothesis that would also account 
for Amazonism ; in modern Albania the girl who refuses marriage is 
allowed to wear man's dress and to bear arms, vide Jouvn. Anthrop. 
Inst., 1910, p. 460. 

3 But in a recent paper (Atjienische Mittheilungen, 1911, p. 27) 
Frickenhaus and Muller give reasons for dating the earliest Heraeum 
to the eighth century. At any rate, the goddess-cult in this locality 
was vastly older. 


dominant through all history at Argos and Samos. 
But we have no reason for supposing that her name was 
Hera in that earliest period. Phonetically, the word is 
best explained as " Aryan " : if it was originally the 
name brought by the Hellenes and designating the wife- 
goddess of the sky-god and in spite of recent theories 
that contradict it I still incline to this view the Hellenes 
could apply it to the great goddess of the Argolid, unless 
her aversion to matrimony was a dogma, or her religious 
isolation a privilege, too strong to infringe. This does 
not seem to have been the case. The goddess of Samian 
cult, a twin-institution with the Argive, was no virgin, 
but united with the sky-god in an old kpog yafiog. Never- 
theless, throughout all history the goddess in Argos, and 
probably in Samos, is a more powerful cult-figure than 
the god. 

As regards Aphrodite, few students of Greek 
religion would now assign her to the original Aryan- 
Hellenic polytheism. Most still regard her as coming to 
the Greek people from the Semitic area of the Astarte 
cult. And this was the view that I formerly developed 
in the second volume of my cults. But at that time we 
were all ignorant of the facts of Minoan-Mycenaean 
religion, and some of us were deceived concerning the 
antiquity of the Phoenician settlements in Cyprus and 
Hellas. The recently discovered evidence points, I 
think, inevitably to the theory that Sir Arthur Evans 
supports ; that the goddess of Cyprus, the island where 
the old Minoan culture lived longest, is one form of the 
great goddess of that gifted Aegean people, who had 
developed her into various manifestations through 
long centuries of undisturbed religious life. Let us 
finally observe that it is just these names, Artemis, 
Athena* Aphrodite, that have hitherto defied linguistic 


explanation on either Aryan or Semitic phonetic principles. 
We do not yet know the language of King Minos. 

A cursory and dogmatic answer may now be given 
to the two questions posed above. The Aryan Hellenes 
did not bring with them the supremacy of the goddess, 
for the idea was not natural to them : they did not 
borrow it from any Semitic people in the second mil- 
lennium, for at that time it was not natural to the Semites : 
they found it on the soil of the Aegean lands, as a 
native growth of an old Mediterranean religion, a strong 
plant that may be buried under the deposits of alien 
creeds, but is always forcing its head up to the light 

Therefore in tracing goddess-cult from the Euphrates 
valley to the western Aegean shores, as a test of the 
influence of the East on the West, we are brought up 
sharply at this point. The Western world is divided 
from the Eastern by this very phenomenon that 
the older scholars used to regard as proving a 
connection. And it may well have been the Western 
cult that influenced the western Semites. 



So far as we have gone our main question must be still 
regarded as an open one. We may now compare the 
particular conceptions concerning divinity that pre- 
vailed at the period to which our search is limited, in 
the valley of the Euphrates, and in the other communities 
that are in our route of comparison. Many striking 
points of general similarity will present themselves, 
upon which we must not lay too much weight for our 
argument, since all polytheisms possess a certain family 
likeness : of more importance wiU be certain strikingly 
dissimilar features, if we find any. 

First, in regard to the general concepts or characters 
of the divinities, the same formula seems mainly applic- 
able to the Mesopotamian as to the Hellenic facts : 
the leading divinities have usually some distinct associ- 
ation with the world of nature ; but the natural phen- 
omenon or elemental fact that may be there in the 
background of their personality, becomes overlaid and 
obscured by the complex ethical and mental traits that 
are evolved. Therefore the mere nature-fact rarely 
explains the fully-developed god, either of Babylon or 
of Hellas. A few salient examples will make this clear. 
It is only perhaps Shamash the sun-god of Sippar, and 
Sin the moon-god of Ur, that retain their nature-signific- 
ance rarely obscured. The hymn to Sin in Dr. Langdon's 



collection reveals an intelligible lunar imagery through- 
out ; but in another published by Zimmern, 1 his person- 
ality becomes more spiritual and mystical ; he is at once 
" the mother-body who bears all life, and the pitiful 
gracious father/' the divinity who has created the land 
and founded temples ; under the Assyrian regime he seems 
to have become a god of war. 2 Shamash even surpasses 
him in grandeur and religious value, so far as we can 
judge from the documents ; but his whole ethical and 
spiritual character, clearly articulated as it is, can be 
logically evolved from his solar. But in studying the 
characters of Marduk and Nergal, for instance, we 
feel that the physical theories of their origin help us 
but little, and are at times self-contradictory ; and 
it might be well for Assyriologists to take note of 
the confusion and darkness that similar theories have 
spread in this domain of Hellenic study. Thus we are 
told that the Sun in the old Sumerian-Babylonian system 
gave birth to various special personalities, representing 
various aspects of him : Marduk is the spring-sun, 
rejoicing in his strength, although his connection with 
Shamash does not seem specially close ; yet Jeremias, 
who expresses this opinion, 3 believes also that Marduk 
is a storm-god, because " his word can shake the sea/' 
ShaU we say, then, that Jahwe is a storm-god " because 
the voice of the Lord shaketh the cedar-trees " ? The 
phrase is quite innocent if we only mean by it that any 
and every personal God could send a storm ; it becomes 
of doubtful value if it signifies here that Marduk is an 
impersonation of the storm. The texts seem some- 
times to contradict each other ; Ninib, for instance, 

1 Bab. Hym. u. Gebet^ p. u. 

3 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 230. 

8 In Reseller's Lexikon, ii. 2371 ; cf. ib. t 2367. 


is regarded by Jeremias l as the rising sun, on the ground 
of certain phrases in his hymn of praise ; but the con- 
cept of him as a storm-god is more salient in the oldest 
texts, and thus he is pre-eminently a deity of destruc- 
tion and death, and becomes specially an Assyrian war- 
god. Does it help us if we imagine him originally as the 
Storm-Sun, as Jensen would have us ? or is it not allow- 
able to suspect that solar terms of religious description 
became a later Babylonian convention, and that any 
deity might attract them ? Nergal, again, the god of 
Kutha, has been supposed to have had a solar origin, 
as the god of the midday and destructive sun; 2 yet 
his special realm is Hades, where he ruled by the side 
of the goddess Allatu, and his name is doubtfully inter- 
preted as the Lord of the Great Habitation, and thus 
he is regarded as a god of disease and death. This 
did not hinder him from becoming with Ninib the great 
war-god of the Assyrians and their god of the chase, 
nor a pious Babylonian poet from exalting him as " God 
of the little ones, he of the benevolent visage/' 3 
In one of the Tel-El-Amarna texts he is designated 
by an ideogram, that almost certainly means "the 
god of iron." 4 This last fact, if correct, is an illus- 
tration of that which a general survey of the Babylonian 
texts at last impresses upon us : the physical origin of 
the deity, if he had one, does not often shape and control 
his whole career ; the high god grows into manifold 
forms, dilates into a varied spiritual personality, pro- 
gresses with the life of his people, reflects new aspects 
of life, altogether independently of any physical idea 
of him that may have originally prevailed. Adad, the 

1 Reseller, Lexikon, iii. p. 364. 

2 Jeremias, op. cit., iii. p. 250. 

3 Langdon, Sum. Baby I. Psalms, p. 83. 

4 Roscher, Lexikon, p. 252. 


god of storms, becomes a god of prophecy, and is ad- 
dressed as a god of mercy in the fragment of a hymn. 1 
Ea the god of waters becomes par excellence the god of 
wisdom, not because waters are wise, but probably 
because Eridu, the seat of his cult, was an immemorial 
home of ancient wisdom, that is to say, magic. As for 
the great Nebo of Borsippa, Jeremias, 2 who is other- 
wise devoted to solar theories, has some good remarks 
on the absence of any sign of his nature-origin : his 
ideogram designates "the prophet," in his earliest char- 
acter he is the writer, his symbol is the " stilus " of 
the scribe. Yet he does not confine himself to writing : 
he is interested in vegetation, and eulogised in one hymn 
as "he who openeth the springs and causeth the corn 
to sprout, he without whom the dykes and canals would 
run dry/' Surely this interest comes to him, not from 
the planet Mercury, 3 but from his wisdom and his 
concern with Babylonian civilisation, which depended 
upon dykes and canals. We are presented here with a 
progressive polytheism, that is, one of which the divinities 
show the power of self-development parallel with the 
self-development of the people. 

The question we have just been considering, the 
physical character of the Babylonian deities in relation 
to their whole personality, suggests two last reflections. 
Their gods have a certain relation to the planets, which 
is preserved even in our modern astronomy. That 
the early Sumerians worshipped stars is probable/ as 
the Sumerian sign for divinity is a star; but that the 
Sumerian-Babylonian high gods were personal forms 
of the planets, is denied by leading modern Assyri- 

1 Jastrow, op. cit. 9 p. 484. 

2 Rescuer, Lexikon, iii., s.v. "Nebo." 

8 As Jeremias supposes, Roscher, op. cit.> iii. p. 60. 
4 Vide Tiele, Histoire des anc. relig., p. 242. 


ologists, 1 except in the case of the sun and the moon, 
Shamash and Sin. It was only the Chaldaean astron- 
omic theory that came to regard the various planets 
in their varying positions as special manifestations of 
the powers of the different personal gods ; and the 
same planet might be a manifestation, according to 
its different positions, of different gods : the " star Jupiter 
at one point is Marduk, at another point Nebo " ; this 
dogma is found on a seventh-century tablet, which 
declares at the same time that " Mercury " is Nebo. 2 
This planetary association of the deities is well illus- 
trated by the memorial relief of Asarhaddon found at 
Sinjerli, and the relief of Maltaija, showing stars crowning 
their heads ; 3 but both these are later than the period 
with which we are here immediately concerned. 

Lastly, we fail to observe in that domain of the 
old Babylonian religion which may be called nature- 
worship, any clear worship of the earth regarded as a 
personal and living being, as the Hellenes regarded 
Gaia. The great goddesses, Ishtar, the goddess at 
once warlike and luxurious, virgin and yet unchaste, 
terrible and merciful, the bright virgin of the sky, 
Bau, the wife of Ninib, the "amorous lady of heaven," 
are certainly not of this character. Still less is Allalu, 
the monstrous and grim Queen of Hell, at whose breast 
the lions are suckled. It seems that if the early Sumerians 
conceived the earth as a personal divinity at all, they 
imagined it as a male divinity. For in the inscriptions 
of Nippur, Enlil or Bel appears as a Lord of the under- 

1 Vide Winckler, Himmelsund Weltenbild der Babylomer, pp. 10-11. 
Jeremias, Roscher, Lexikon, iii. p. 58. But Jastrow, op. ctt., p. 84, seems 
to believe in the planetary origin of Ishtar, and would explain her 
character as the planet Venus. 

2 Winckler, ib.,p. n. 

3 Roscher, Lexikon, iii. pp. 66-67. 


world, meaning our earth as distinct from the heavens : 
he is hymned as the "lord of the harvest-lands, lord 
of the grain-fields " 1 he is the " husbandman who tends 
the fields " ; when Enlil is angry, " he sends hunger 
everywhere." In another hymn he is thus described : 
" The great Earth-Mountain is Enlil, the mountain- 
storm is he, whose shoulders rival the heavens, whose 
foundation is the bright abyss " ; 2 and again, " Lord, who 
makest to abound pure oil and nourishing milk; . . . 
in the earth Lord of life art thou " ; " to give life to the 
ground thou dost exist." 3 It is evident that Enlil 
is more than the personal earth regarded as a solid 
substance ; he is rather the god of all the forces and 
life that move on and in the earth, hence he is " the 
lord of winds." 4 He is more, then, than the mere 
equivalent of Gaia. One might have expected to find a 
Sumerian counterpart for this goddess in Ninlil or Belit, 
the wife and female double of Enlil or Bel : but in an 
inscription that is dated as early as 4000 B.C. she is 
styled " The Queen of Heaven and Earth," 5 and though 
in a hymn of lamentation addressed to her 6 she is 
described as the goddess " who causeth plants to come 
forth," yet the ecstatic and mysticising Babylonian 
imagination has veiled and clouded her nature-aspect. 

This strange religious poetry which had been fer- 
menting for thousands of years, was likely enough to 
transform past recognition the simple aboriginal fact. 
It is only the lesser deities, the " Sondergotter " of 
the Sumerian pantheon, whose nature-functions might 
remain clear and unchanged : for instance, such a 
corn-deity as we see on a cylinder, with corn-ears in 

1 Langdon, Hymn xiii. p. 199. 2 /&., p. 221. 

3 Id., p. 277. 4 Ibff pt 223 

5 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 55. Langdon, op. cit., p, 257. 


his hand and corn-stalks springing from his shoulders. 1 
Even the simple form of Tammuz, the darling of the 
Sumerian people, has been somewhat blurred by the 
poetry of passion that for long ages was woven about 
him. As Zimmern has shown in a recent treatise, 2 
he was never the chief deity of any Babylonian or 
Assyrian state, but nevertheless one of great antiquity 
and power with the Sumerian people, and his cult 
and story were doubtless spreading westward in the 
second millennium. In spite of all accretions and the 
obscurity of his name, which is interpreted to mean 
" real son of the water-deep/' 3 we can still recognise 
the form of the young god of vegetation who dies in 
the heat of the summer solstice and descends to the 
world below, leaving the earth barren till he returns. 
This idea is expressed by some of his names, " the 
Lord of the land's fruitfulness, the Lord of the shepherd's 
dwelling, the Lord of the cattle-stall, the God of grain/' 4 
and by many an allusion to his legend in the hymns, 
which are the most beautiful and pathetic in the old 
Sumerian psalmody : " in his manhood in the submerged 
grain he lay"; "how long still shall the verdure be 
imprisoned, how long shall the green things be held 
in bondage ? " 5 An interesting title found in some 
of the incantation liturgies is that of " the shepherd," 
and like some other vegetation-powers he is at times 
regarded as the Healer. Though he was not admitted 

1 Pinches, Babylonian and Assyrian Religions, p. 104; cf. "Nidaba, 1 * 
Jastrow, op. cit., p. 95, a goddess of agriculture. 

2 " Der Babylonische Gott Tamuz," in Abh. Konig. Sachs. Gesell. 
Wiss., xxvii. (1909). 

3 Zimmern regards Dumuzi or Damuzi as shortened from Dumuzi- 
Abzu, but Jastrow (op. cit., p. 90) would keep the two names distinct, 
and interprets Dumuzi simply as " Son of Life/ 1 

4 Vide Zimmern in Sitzungsb. Konig. Sachs. Gesell. Wiss., 1907. 
6 Zimmern, ib. } p. 208 ; cf. Langdon, op. cit., p. 307. 


as the compeer of the high gods into the Babylonian 
or Assyrian pantheon, he may be said to have survived 
them all, and his name and myth became the inspiration 
of a great popular religion. No other of that vast 
fraternity of corn-spirits or vegetation-spirits into 
which Dr. Frazer has initiated us, has ever had such a 
career as Tammuz. In one of his hymns he is invoked 
as " Lord of the world of Death," because for a time 
he descended into Hell. 1 If this idea had been allowed 
to germinate and to develop its full potentiality, 
it might have changed the aspect of Babylonian 
eschatology. But, as we shall see, the ideas naturally 
attaching to vegetation, to the kindly and fair life of 
seeds and plants, were never in Babylonia properly 
harmonised with those that dominated belief concerning 
the lower world of the dead. The study of the Tammuz- 
rites I shall reserve for a later occasion. 

We have now to consider the other Anatolian cults 
from the point of view of nature-worship. The survey 
need not detain us long as our evidence is less copious. 
As regards the western Semites, our trustworthy records 
are in no way so ancient as those that enlighten us 
concerning Mesopotamia. Philo of Byblos, the inter- 
preter of the Phoenician Sanchuniathon, presents us 
only with a late picture of the Canaanite religion, that 
may be marred by their own symbolic interpretations. 
Because we are told 2 that " the Phoenicians and 
Egyptians were the first to worship the sun and the 
moon and the stars," 2 or " the first to deify the growths 
of the earth," 3 we cannot conclude that in the second 
millennium the religion of the Phoenicians was purely 
solar or astral, or merely the cult of vegetation-gods. 

1 Zimmern, Siteungsb. Konig, Sachs. Gesell Wiss.i p. 220. 

2 Eus., Praep. Ev. t i, 9, 29. 3 Ib,, I, 10, 6. 


" Baalshamin " means the lord of the heavens, an 
Aramaic and Phoenician god, and Sanchuniathon 
explained him as the sun ; 1 but Robertson Smith gives 
good reason for the view that the earliest conception 
of the local Baal was of a deity of the fertilising spring, 
a local divine owner of a well-watered plot, hence the 
giver of all life to fruits and cattle. 2 Nor are we sure 
what was the leading " nature-aspect " of the cult of 
Astarte. The title " Meleket Ashamaim," " the Queen 
of the Heavens/' which Ezekiel attaches to her, does 
not inform us precisely concerning her earliest and 
original character. From her close association with the 
Minoan goddess of Cyprus, she was no doubt wor- 
shipped as the source of the life of plants and animals 
and men. Also, it is of some value to bear in mind 
the later records concerning the worship of Helios at 
Tyre in the Roman Imperial period, and of Helios and 
the thunder-god at Palmyra, where Adad-Rimmon, 
the storm-god who was in power among the western 
Semites in the earliest period, may have survived till 
the beginning of Christianity. We may conclude from 
all this that in the oldest period of the western Semite 
societies the cult of special nature-deities was a pro- 
minent feature of the religion. But even these may 
already in the second millennium have acquired a com- 
plex of personal attributes ethical and spiritual. In 
the later Carthaginian religion, the personal deities 
are clearly distinguished from the mere nature-powers, 
such as the sun, earth, and moon ; and this important 
distinction may have arisen long before the date of 
the document that proves it. 3 

1 Eus., Praep. Ev. 9 I, 10, 7. 2 Rel. of Sem., pp. 96-100. 

3 Polyb., 7, 9 (the Carthaginian oath of alliance with Philip of 


Of the Hittite gods we may say this much at least, 
that the monuments enable us to recognise the thunder- 
god with the hammer or axe, and in the striking relief 
at Ibreez we discern the form of the god of vegetation 
and crops, holding corn and grapes. The winged 
disk, carved with other doubtful fetich-emblems above 
the head of the god who is clasping the priest or king- 
on the Boghaz-Keui relief, is a solar emblem, borrowed 
probably from Egyptian religious art. And the Hittite 
sun-godwas invoked in the Hittite treaty with Rameses n. 1 
Whether the mother-goddess was conceived as the 
personal form of Gaia is doubtful; her clear affinity 
with Kybele would suggest this, and in the Hittite 
treaty with Rameses n. mentioned above, the goddess 
Tesker is called the Mistress of the Mountains, the express 
title of the Phrygian Mother, and another " the Mistress 
of the Soil/' 2 Yet evidently the Hittite religion is 
too complex to be regarded as mere nature-worship : the 
great relief of Boghaz - Keui shows a solemn and 
elaborate ritual to which doubtless some spiritual 
concepts were attached. 

As regards the original ideas underlying the cults 
of those other Anatolian peoples who were nearer 
in geographical position and perhaps in race to the 
Aegean peoples, we have no explicit ancient records 
that help us to decide for the second millennium. For 
some of these various communities the goddess was, as 
we have seen, the supreme power. The great Phrygian 
goddess Kybele is the cult-figure of most importance 
for our purpose, and it is possible to divine her original 
character with fair certainty. 3 In her attributes, 
functions, and form, we can discern nothing celestial, 

1 Garstang, op. tit.; p. 348. 2 Vide supra, p. 88. 

8 Vide my Cults, vol. iii. pp. 295-300. 


solar or lunar ; she was, and remained to the end, a 
mother-goddess of the earth, a personal source of and 
life of fruits, beasts, and man : her favourite haunt 
was the mountains, and her earliest image that we 
know, that which the Greeks called Niobe on Mount 
Sipylos, seems like a human shape emerging from the 
mountain-side : she loved also the mountain caverns, 
which were called after her #y/3sAa ; and according to 
one legend she emerged from the rock Agdos, and hence 
took the name Agdestis. The myth of her beloved 
Attis is clear ritual-legend associated with vegetation ; 
and Greek poetry and Greek cult definitely linked her 
with the Greek Gaia. We gather also from the legend 
of Attis and other facts that her power descended to 
the underworld, and the spirits of the dead were gathered 
to her ; x hence the snake appears as her symbol, carved 
as an akroterion above her sepulchral shrine, where she 
is sculptured with her two lions at Arslan Kaya " the 
Lion Rock in Phrygia " ; 2 and her counterpart, the 
Lydian Mother Hipta, is addressed as %00w5y.* 

In all her aspect and functions she is the double 
of the great Minoan mother-goddess described already, 
whose familiar animals are the lion and the serpent, 
who claims worship from the mountain-top, and whose 
character is wholly that of a great earth goddess with 
power doubtless reaching down to the lower world of 
the dead. Only from Crete we have evidence which is 
lacking in pre-Aryan Phrygia of the presence of a 
thunder or sky-god by her side. 4 

1 Vide Ramsay, Hell. Journ., v. p. 261 ; my Cults, iii. p. 299. 

2 Ramsay, ib., p. 242. 

3 Cults, vol. v, p. 296 (Dionysos, R. 63 d). 

4 The axe, the thunder-fetish, is attached to her at times, either 
because it was the prevalent religious symbol in Crete or because of 
her union with the Thunder-God. 


Turning our attention now to the early Hellenic 
world, and to that part of its religion which we may 
call Nature-worship, we discern certain general traits 
that place it on the same plane in some respects with 
the Mesopotamian. Certain of the higher deities show 
their power in certain elemental spheres, Poseidon mainly 
in the water, Demeter in the land, Zeus in the air. But 
of none of these is the power wholly limited to that 
element : and each has acquired, like the high gods of 
Assyria and Babylon and Jahwe of Israel, a complex 
anthropomorphic character that cannot be derived, 
though the old generation of scholars wearily attempted 
to derive it, from the elemental nature-phenomenon. 
Again, other leading divinities, such as Apollo, Artemis, 
Athena, are already in the pre-Homeric period, as far 
as we can discern, pure real personalities like Nebo and 
Asshur, having no discoverable nature-significance at 
all. Besides these higher cults, we discern a vast 
number of popular local cults of winds, springs, rivers, 
at first animistically and then anthropomorphically 
imagined. So in Mesopotamia we find direct worship of 
canals and the river. Finally, we discern 113. early 
Hellas a multitude of special " functional " divinities 
or heroes, " Sondergotter," like Eunostos, the hero of the 
harvest : and it may be possible to find their counter- 
parts in the valley of the Euphrates. 1 We have also 
the nameless groups of divine potencies in Hellas, such 
as the TLpa%ib&cu, Ms/X/%;o/, these being more frequent in 
the Hellenic than in the Mesopotamian religion, which 
presents such parallels as the Annunaki and the Igigi, 
nameless daimones of the lower and upper world : and 

1 E.g.{the *' Tile-God/' the lord of foundations and tiles, mentioned 
injthe inscription of Nabonid in Keilinschr. Bibl., iii. p. 101 ; but cf. 
Jastrow, op. cit., p. 176, who regards him as a special form of Ea. 


these in both regions may be regarded as products of 
animism not yet developed into theism. 

But such general traits of resemblance in two 
developed polytheisms deceive no trained inquirer ; 
and it would be childish to base a theory of borrowing 
on them. What is far more important are the marked 
differences in the nature-side of the Greek polytheism, 
as compared with the Sumerian-Babylonian. In the 
latter, the solar-element was very strong, though per- 
haps not so omnipresent as some Assyriologists assure 
us. On the contrary, in the proto-Hellenic system it 
was strikingly weak, so far as we can interpret the 
evidence. The earliest Hellenes certainly regarded the 
Sun as a personal animate being, though the word 
Helios did not necessarily connote for them an anthro- 
pomorphic god. But the insignificance of his figure 
in the Homeric poems agrees well with the facts of 
actual cult. As I have pointed out in the last volume 
of my Cults,' 1 it was only at Rhodes that Helios 
was a great personal god, appealing to the faith and 
affections of the people, revered as their ancestor and 
the author of their civilisation, and descending, we may 
believe, from the period of the Minoan culture 2 with 
which Rhodes was closely associated in legend. And it 
appears from the evidence of legend and Minoan art 
that sun-worship was of some power in the pre-Hellenic 
Aegean civilisation. In the Mycenaean epoch he may 
have had power in Corinth, but his cult faded there in 
the historic age before that of Athena and Poseidon. 
The developed Hellene preferred the more personal 

1 Vol. v. 417-420. 

2 For Sim-worship indicated by Minoan monuments vide Evans, 
Hell. Journ., 1901, pp. 172-173 ; on a stone at Tenos we find a curious 
inscription, 'HXtcxrapTn^ovos (Cults, v. p. 451, R. 37), and Sarpedon is 
a Minoan-Rhodian figure. 


deity, whose name did not so obviously suggest a 
special phenomenon of nature. And if he inherited 
or adopted certain solar personages, as some think he 
adopted a sun-god Ares from Thrace, he seems to have 
transformed them by some mental process so as to 
obliterate the traces of the original nature-perception. 

Even more significant for our purpose is the com- 
parison of the two regions from the point of view of 
lunar-cult. We have sufficiently noted already the 
prominence of the moon-god Sin in the Babylonian 
pantheon, an august figure of a great religion : and 
among all the Semitic peoples the moon was a male 
personality, as it appears to have been for the Vedic 
Indians and other Aryan peoples. The Hellenic im- 
agination here presents to us this salient difference, 
that the personal moon is feminine, and she seems to 
have enjoyed the scantiest cult of all the great powers 
of Nature. Not that anywhere in Greece she was wholly 
without worship. 1 She is mentioned in a vague record 
as one of the divinities to whom vqpdXict, " wineless 
offerings," were consecrated in Athens : she had an 
ancient place in the aboriginal religion of Arcadia ; 
of her worship in other places the records are usually 
late and insignificant. The great Minoan goddess may 
have attracted to herself some lunar significance, but 
this aspect of her was not pronounced. 

Here, then, is another point at which the theory of 
early Babylonian influence in nascent Hellenic religion 
seriously breaks down. And in this comparison of 
Nature-cults it breaks down markedly at two others. 
The pantheon of Mesopotamia had early taken on an 
astral - character. The primitive Hellenes doubtless 
had, like other peoples, their star-myths; and their 

1 Vide Cults, v. pp. 450-453, for references. 


superstitions were aroused and superstitious practices 
evoked by celestial " teratology/' by striking phen- 
omena, such as eclipses, comets, falling stars. 1 But 
there is no record suggesting that they paid direct wor- 
ship to the stars, or that their deities were astral person- 
ations, or were in the early period associated with the 
stars : such association, where it arose, is merely a 
sign of that wave of Oriental influence that moved west- 
ward in the later centuries. The only clear evidences 
of star-cult in Hellenic communities that I have been 
able to find do not disturb this induction : Lykophron and 
a late Byzantine author indicate a cult of Zeus 'Acrepiog 
in Crete, which cannot, even if real, be interpreted as 
direct star-worship : 2 at Sinope, a city of Assyrian origin, 
named after the Babylonian moon-god, a stone with a 
late inscription suggests a cult of Seirios and the con- 
stellations ; 3 and an Attic inscription of the Roman 
Imperial epoch, mentions a priest of the tp&ffpopot, 
whom we must interpret as stellar beings. 4 What, 
then, must we say about the Dioskouroi, whom we are 
generally taught to regard as the personal forms of the 
morning- and the evening-star ? Certainly, if the astral 
character of the great Twin-Brethren of the Hellenes 
were provedly their original one, the general statement 
just put forth would have to be seriously modified. 
But a careful study of their cult does not justify the 
conventional view ; and the theory that Wide has in- 
sisted on 5 appears to me the only reasonable account 

1 E.g. Plutarch, Vit. Agid., c. n (the Spartan ephors every nine 
years watch the sky, and if a star falls take it for a sign of some religious 
offence of one of the kings, who is suspended until the Delphic oracle 
determines about him) . 

2 Cults, vol. i., " Zeus," R. 30. 

3 16., vol. v. p. 452, R. 41. 
*/&., p. 450, R. 24. 

5 Lakonische Kulte, p. 316. 


of them, namely, that originally they were heroic 
"chthonian" figures, to whom a celestial character 
came later to be attached : it is significant that the astral 
aspect of them is only presented in comparatively late 
documents and monuments, not in Homer or the Homeric 
hymn, and that their most ancient ritual includes a 
" lectisternium," which properly belonged to heroes and 
personages of the lower world. 

Lastly, the nature-worship of the Hellenes was pre- 
eminently concerned with Mother-earth with Ge-meter, 
and this divine power in its varied personal forms was 
perhaps of all others the nearest and dearest to the 
popular heart : so much of their ritual was concerned 
directly with her. And some scholars have supposed, 
erroneously, I think, but not unnaturally, that all the 
leading Hellenic goddesses arose from this aboriginal 
animistic idea. We may at least believe this of Demeter 
and Kore, the most winning personalities of the higher 
Hellenic religion. And even Athena and Artemis, 
whatever, if any, was their original nature-significance, 
show in many of their aspects and much of their ritual 
a close affinity to the earth-goddess. But, as I have 
indicated above, it is impossible to find in the early 
Mesopotamian religion a parallel figure to Ge : though 
Ishtar was naturally possessed of vegetative functions 
so that, when she disappears below the world, all vegeta- 
tion languishes yet it would be hazardous to say that 
she was a personal form of earth : we may rather suspect 
that by the time the Semites brought her to Meso- 
potamia from the West, she had lost all direct nature- 
significance, and was wholly a personal individual. 

Finally, the cleavage between the two groups of peoples 
in their attitude towards the powers of nature is still 
further marked in the evolution of certain moral and 


eschatologic ideas. The concept of a Ge-Themis, of 
Earth as the source of righteousness, and of Mother- 
earth as the kindly welcomer of the souls of the dead, 
appears to have been alien to Mesopotamian imagination, 
for which, Allatu, the Queen of the lower world, is a 
figure wholly terrible. 



THE next important section of our survey is the compari- 
son of the social and ethical aspects of the religions 
in the eastern and western areas. Here again the former 
warning may be repeated, not to draw rash conclusions 
from the observance of mere general points of simi- 
larity, such as occur in the religious systems of all the 
more advanced societies of which we have any explicit 

The idea that religion is merely a concern of the 
private individual conscience is one of the latest phen- 
omena in all religious history. Both for the primitive 
and the more cultured communities of ancient history, 
religion was by a law of its nature a social phenomenon, 
a force penetrating all the institutions of the political 
life, law and morality. But its precise contribution to 
the evolution of certain social products in the various 
communities is still a question inviting and repaying 
much research. It will be interesting to compare 
what may be gleaned from Assyriology and the study 
of Hellenism bearing on this inquiry, although it may 
not help us much towards the solution of our main 

We may assume of the Mesopotamian as of other 
peoples, that its " social origins " were partly religious ; 
only in the valley of the Euphrates, society had already 


so far advanced in the fifth millennium B.C. that the 
study of its origins will be always problematic. The 
deities are already national, having developed far 
beyond the narrow tribal limits before we begin to 
discern them clearly ; we have not to deal with the 
divinities of clans, phratries, or septs, but of complex 
aggregates, such as cities and kingdoms. And the 
great cities are already there before our knowledge 

In the Sumerian myth of creation, it is the high god 
himself who, after settling the order of heaven and 
earth, immediately constructs cities such as Borsippa ; 
a passage in Berosus speaks of Oannes, that is to say, 
Ea as the founder of cities and temples ; l and the 
myths may enshrine the truth that the origin of the 
Mesopotamian city was often religious, that the temple 
was its nucleus. I cannot discover that this is indicated 
by the names of any other of the great cities, Babylon, 
Borsippa, Sippar, Kutha ; but it is shown by the name 
of Nineveh and its connection with the Sumerian goddess 
Nin or Nina, possibly a form of Ishtar. 2 And in the 
inscription of Sargon giving the names of the eight 
doors of his palace, all named after deities, Ninib 
is described as the god "who lays the ground-stone 
of the city for eternity " ; 3 also we find designations 
of particular cities, as the city of such-and-such a deity. 4 
Finally, it may be worth noting in this direction that 
Nusku the fire-god, who lights the sacrifices, is called 
" the City-Founder, the Restorer of Temples/' 5 

The evidence of Anatolia: is late, but it tells the 
same story : Sir William Ramsay has emphasised the 

* Miiller, Frag. Hist. Gr., ii. 497- 

2 Vide Pinches, op. cit., p. 76. 

3 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 246. 

* Id,, p. 146. 6 W P- 297- 


importance for early political history of such names as 
Hieroupolis, the City of the Temple, developing into 
Hierapolis, the Holy City. 1 In Hellas the evidence 
is fuller and older of the religious origin of some, at 
least, of the irakus, for some of the old names reveal 
the personal name or the appellative of the divinity. 
Such are Athenai (the settlements of Athena) ; Potniai, 
" the place of the revered ones " ; Alalkomenai, " the 
places of Athena Alalkomene ; Nemea, " the sacred 
groves of Zeus " ; Megara, probably " the shrines of the 
goddess of the lower world " ; Diades, Olympia and others. 
The reason of such development is not hard to seek : 
the temple would be the meeting-place of many con- 
sanguineous tribes, and its sanctuary would safeguard 
intertribal markets, and at the same time demand 
fortification and attract a settlement. Mecca, the 
holy city of Arabia in days long before and after Islam, 
had doubtless this origin. 2 We have traces of the same 
phenomenon in our English names : Preston, for instance, 
showing the growth of a city out of a monastery. In 
the later history of Hellenism the religious origin of 
the votetg is still more frequently revealed by its 
name : the god who leads the colonists to their new 
home gives his name to the settlement ; hence the very 
numerous " Apolloniai." 

But though it is not permissible to dogmatise about 
the origin of the great cities in the valley of the Euphrates, 
we have ample material supplied by Babylonian- Assyrian 
monuments and texts of the close interdependence of 
Church and State, to illustrate what I remarked upon 
in my inaugural lecture, the political character of the 
pantheon. This emerges most clearly when we consider 

1 Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, p. 68 1. 

2 Vide Margoliouth, Life of Mahomet, pp. 7, 8, 


the relations of the monarch to the deity. Of all 
Oriental autocracies, it may be said with truth that the 
instinctive bias of the people to an autocratic system 
is a religious instinct : the kingship is of the divine 
type of which Dr. Frazer has collected the amplest 
evidence. And this was certainly the type of the 
most ancient kingship that we can discover in the 
Mesopotamian region. The ancient kings of the Isin 
dynasty dared to speak of themselves as " the beloved 
consort of Nana." x But more usually the king was 
regarded as the son or fosterling of the divinity, though 
this dogma need not have been given a literal inter- 
pretation, nor did it clash with the well-established proof 
of a secular paternity. An interesting example is the 
inscription of Samsuilina, the son of Hammurabi, who 
was reigning perhaps as early as the latter part of the third 
millennium : 2 the king proclaims, " I built the wall in 
Nippur in honour of the goddess Nin, the walls of Padda 
to Adad my helper, the wall of Lagab to Sin the god, 
my begetter/' The tie of the foster-child was as close 
as that of actual sonship ; and Assurbanipal is regarded 
as the foster-child of the goddess of Nineveh. Nebo 
himself says to him in that remarkable conversation 
between the god and the king that an inscription has 
preserved, 3 "weak wast thou, O Assurbanipal, when 
them sattest on the lap of the divine Queen of Nineveh, 
and didst drink from her four breasts." Similarly, the 
early King Lugalzaggisi declares that he was nourished by 
the milk of the goddess Ninharsag, and King Gudea men- 
tions Nina as his mother. 4 In an oracle of encouragement 

1 Keilinschy. BibL, iii. i, p. 87. 

2 King, Hammurabi, pi. 191, no. 97, col. ii. ; Jeremias, inRoscner, 
Lexikon, iv. p. 29, s.v. "Ramman." 

s Jeremias, s.v. "Nebo," in Roscher, op. cit.> iii. p. 62. 
4 Zimmern, K.A.T.*, p. 379- 


given by the goddess Belit to Assurbanipal, she speaks 
to him thus, " Thou whom Belit has borne, do not fear/ 1 1 
Now a few isolated texts might be quoted to suggest 
that this idea of divine parentage was not confined to 
the kings, but that even the private Babylonian might 
at times rise to the conception that he was in a sense 
the child of God. At least in one incantation, in which 
Marduk is commissioned by Ea to heal a sick man, 
the man is called "the child of his god" ; 2 and Ishtar 
is often designated " the Mother of Gods and men " and 
the source of all life on the earth, human, animal, and 
vegetative. 3 But the incantation points only to a 
vague spiritual belief that might be associated with 
a general idea that all life is originally divine. We 
may be sure that the feeling of the divine life of the 
king was a much more real and living belief than was 
any sense that the individual might occasionally cherish 
of his own celestial origin. The king and the god were 
together the joint source of law and order. The greatest 
of the early Babylonian dynasts, Lugalzaggisi, whose 
reign is dated near to 4000 B.C., styles himself the 
vicegerent (Patesi) of Enlil, the earth-god of Nippur ; 4 
and in early Babylonian contracts, oath was taken in 
the names both of the god and the king. 5 Hammurabi 
converses with Shamash and receives the great code 
from his hands, even as Moses received the law from 
Jahwe or Minos from Zeus. Did any monument ever 
express so profoundly the divine origin of the royal 
authority and the State institutions as the famous 

1 Schiel in Rev. de I'histoire des religions, 1897, p. 207. 

2 Jeremias, Bab. Assyr. Vorstellungen von dem Leben nach dem 
Tode, p. 91. 

3 Zimmern, K.A.T. 3 , p. 430. 

4 Jastrow, op. cit., vol. i. p. 34. 

5 Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, etc., p, 27. 


Shamash relief ? l It is the gods who endow Hammurabi 
with his various mental qualities : he himself tells us so 
in his code, " Marduk sent me to rule men and to proclaim 
Righteousness to the world " ; 2 and he speaks similarly 
of the sun-god Shamash : " At the command of Shamash, 
the great Judge of Heaven and Earth, shall Righteousness 
arise up in the land." 3 He proclaims himself, therefore, 
the political prophet of the Lord ; and curses with a por- 
tentous curse any one who shall venture to abolish his 
enactments. The later Assyrian kings have the same 
religious confidence : Sargon (B.C. 722-705) proclaims 
that he owes his penetrating genius to Ea, " the Lord 
of Wisdom/' and his understanding to the " Queen 
of the crown of heaven." 4 We find them also, the 
Assyrian kings, consulting the sun-god by presenting 
to him tablets inscribed with questions as to their 
chances of success in a war, or the fitness and loyalty 
of a minister whom they proposed to appoint. 5 

And this religion affords a unique illustration of 
the intimacy of the bond between the king as head of 
the State and the divine powers. The gods are the 
rulers of destiny : and in the Hall of Assembly at 
Esagila each year the Council of the Gods under the 
presidency of Nebo fixed the destiny of the king and 
the Empire for the ensuing year. 6 This award must 
have signified the writing down of oracles concerning 
the immediate future, and no doubt the questions were 
prepared by the king and the priests. The good king 

1 Reproduced on title-page of Winckler, Die Gesetze Hammurabi. 

2 Winckler, op. cit., p. 10. 
3 Ifc.,p. 39. 

4 Keilinschy. BibL, ii p. 47. 

5 Vide Knudtzon, Assyrische Gebete an den Sonnengott, p. 241. 

6 Vide Langdon, Expositor, 1909, p. 149 ; cf. Jeremias, s.v. "Nebo," 
Roscher, op. cit., iii. p. 55. 


who was devoted to the service of the gods was glorified 
by the priesthood in much the same terms as are applied 
in the Old Testament to the king who was devoted to 
the service of Jahwe : in the cult-inscription of Sippar 
in the British Museum, 1 Nabupaladdin, who reigned 
884-860 B.C., and who re-established the cult of Shamash, 
is praised by the priest as " the called of Marduk, the 
darling of Anu and Ea, the man wholly after the heart 
of Zarpanit." 

The king, then, is the head of the church, himself a 
high-priest, as Gudea was high-priest of Ningirsu, and 
as the Assyrian kings described themselves as the priests 
of Asshur, the professional priesthood serving as their 
expert advisers and ministers. Was he actually wor- 
shipped in his life ? This is maintained by some 
Assyriologists, and certain evidence points to the 
practice. In the conversation between Nebo and 
Assurbanipal, to which reference has been made, the 
god promises to the king, " I will raise up thy head and 
erect thy form in the temple of Bit-Mashmash " ; 2 
the names of old Babylonian kings are marked with 
the ideogram of divinity, and Professor Jastrow 3 
mentions an inscription of the fourth millennium B.C. 
in which Gudea ordains sacrifices to his own statues. 
A document is quoted by Mr. Johns, 4 recording the 
dedication of a piece of land by a private citizen " for 
his life," that is to say, to bring a blessing on himself, 
to the King Lugalla who is called a god, and to his 
consort. But Zimmern 5 considers that the direct 
deification of kings was a practice of the earliest period 
only, and was never pushed so far as it was in Egypt. 

1 Jeremias, Die CuUus-tafel von Sippar. 

2 See Jeremias, Roscher, Lexikon^ iii. pp. 62-63. 3 Op. cit., p. 170. 
4 Op. cit., p. 223. & K.A.T. 3 , pp. 639-640. 


There is reason to suppose that the king or patesi who con- 
trolled Nippur had alone the right to be deified, Nippur 
being the original centre of the Sumerian religion. 1 

The sacred character of the king implied that he 
could exercise miraculous functions or put forth divine 
" mana " on behalf of his people. We find him in the 
earlier period reciting incantations in the dark of the 
moon to avert evil from the land. 2 One of the kings of 
the dynasty of Ur assumed the title " the exorciser of the 
holy tree of Eridu," which may point to certain magic 
functions performed by the king on the sacred tree. 3 

This political aspect of religion appears pronounced 
also in other early communities of the Semitic race ; 
the high god or goddess is the head of the State ; the 
people of Moab are the sons and daughters of Chemosh ; 
the goddess of Askalon and Sidon wears the mural 
crown. And doubtless the early Semitic kingship was of 
the same sacred character elsewhere as in Mesopotamia. 
The King of Moab on the Mesha Stone calls himself the 
son of Chemosh ; and Ben-Hadad, King of Damascus, 
is the son of Hadad. 4 In the Aramaic inscription 
found at Sinjerli, 5 the gods Hadad, El-Reschef, and 
Shamash are regarded as special protectors of the 
kings. One of the last kings of Sidon, Tabnit, in the in- 
scription on his sarcophagus, places his priestly office 
before his royal title, " I, Tabnit, priest of Astarte, 
King of the Sidonians." 6 King of Byblos or Gobal, in 

1 Vide Hilprecht in Babyl. Exped. Univ, Pennsylv,, vol. v. series D, 
pp. 24-29. 

2 Vide Langdon, Transactions of Congress of History of Religions, 
vol. i. p. 251. 

3 Keilinschr. BibL, iii. i, p. 97. 

4 Vide Frazer's paragraph on. the divine character of Semitic kings 
in Adonis, Attis, Osiris 2 , pp. 12-13. 

5 Lagrange, &udes sur les religions s/mitiques, p. 492. 
* Op. cit., p. 481. 


the fifth century B.C., regards himself as called to his 
high office by the Baalat, the goddess of the State, and 
prays that she may bless him and give him length of 
days " because he is a just king " : 1 and mention has 
already been made of Phoenician monuments showing 
the King of Sidon seated with Astarte and embraced by 
her. The claim to actual godship may have really been 
made by the King of Tyre, as the prophet Ezekiel twice 
reproaches him with the blasphemy : " Thou hast said, 
I am a God, I sit in the Seat of God, in the midst of the 
Seas." * 

The Hittite monuments and the text of the Hittite 
treaty with Rameses u. reveal a religion of the same 
political type. The gods are not only witnesses to the 
political contract, but the great Hittite god of heaven 
puts his own seal to it ; and the last few lines of the 
text contain a careful description of that seal, which 
reveals the sacrosanct character of the Hittite kingship ; 
for the design chosen was a group of the god and the 
Hittite king whom he is embracing. The same signifi- 
cance belongs to certain scenes in the great relief of 
Bogha2-Keui : on one of the slabs we discern an armed 
god with his arm round the neck and his hand grasping 
the hand of a smaller figure, whose emblem and dress 
suggest a sacerdotal rather than a royal personality. 
But the happy coincidence of the description in the 
Hittite-Egyptian treaty proves that this is no mere 
priest, but a Hittite King 3 of sacred function and semi- 

1 C. I. Sem. i, i, i (cf. " Die Phoenizischen Imschriften/'by Freiherr 
von Landau, in Der Alte Orient, 1907, p. 13). 

z Ezek. xxix. 2, 9 ; quoted by Frazer, supra. 

3 The same figure which I interpret as the priest-king occurs in 
other religious scenes of Hittite sculpture ; the type might often have 
been used for the priest pure and simple, as Dr. Frazer would always 
interpret it (vide op. tit., pp. 103-108). 


divine character in affectionate union with his god ; 
it suggests also a date not far from the thirteenth 
century for the Boghaz-Keui relief; and it makes 
unnecessary and improbable the mystic explanation 
of this scene that Dr. Frazer has ventured. 1 At this 
early period of the Hittite empire, the kingship may not 
yet have been detached from the priesthood ; even 
later at Comana, in the same country of Cappadocia, 
the priests and the kings were drawn from the same 
stock. 2 One more detail bearing perhaps on the present 
subject may be noted in this monument at Boghaz-Keui : 
the goddess wears a crenelated cap, that reminds us 
somewhat of the later mural or turreted crown borne 
by Cybele and Astarte. May we suppose that this 
was the origin of those, and had the same political 
significance ? 

Again, it may be noted that in Phrygia itself, the 
land of the goddess, we have vague evidence in the legend 
of Midas that the early kings called by that name were 
regarded as the sons of Kybele. 3 

As regards the Minoan-Mycenaean religion and its 
relation to the State, the excavations on the site of 
Knossos suggest that there at least the whole of the 
state-cult was in the hands of the kings ; for no public 
temples have been found, but only shrines in the palaces. 
This is the strongest proof of the sacral power of the 
Minoan ruler, and we can well believe that he was 
deified after his death; nor need we wholly discredit 
that vague statement of Tzetzes that the old kings of 
Crete were given the divine name of Zeus [A/W]. 4 

* Op. cit., pp. 57-5S- 

2 Strab., p. 535- 

3 Vide Ramsay, Hell. Journ.i x. p. 158 ; cf. Hyginus, 191 (Midas 
Rex Mydonius filius matris Deae). 

4 CHI., i, 473 ; vide Cook in Class. Rev., 1903, p. 408. 


There is value, then, in Homer's picture of Minos as the 
friend of God who holds converse with him. 

The political significance of Greek religion impresses 
itself upon us at a thousand points and under endless 
aspects. The deity belongs not to the individual but 
to the tribe ; and as in the earliest Hellenic period the 
tribes were conscious of a certain community of blood, 
their earliest religion appears at many points to have 
transcended the tribal limits, and certain deities have 
developed a national character. Now evidence vague 
and legendary, it is true, but valuable when compared 
with the facts of other communities compels us 
to conceive of the early Hellenic kings having the 
same character as those that we have observed in 
Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Crete ; Homer regards 
them as the god-born, who can exercise religious func- 
tions, whose decrees have the force of depig. The fire 
that burnt on their hearth was sacred and embodied 
the life of the community ; and in the later period the 
perpetual fire that was maintained in the Prytaneum 
of the wokig represented the ancient sacred hearth-fire 
of the king. 1 ^Also, when the monarchy was generally 
abolished, many of the cities felt compelled to retain 
the title of (3curiX$v$ for the priest who carried on the 
religious functions as the shadow of the ancient priest- 
king. But these similar phenomena are of little ethno- 
graphic value. Primitive Hellenism was in these 
respects only maintaining its own inherited traditions, 
and following the same lines of early social evolution 
as those of other communities. On the other hand, 
the distinctness of developed Hellenism is the secular 
independence of its intellect ; and even in its earliest 

1 Vide my Cults, v. pp. 350-354; Frazer, Journ. Philol,< t xiv. " The 
Prytaneum, Temple of Vesta." 


mythic period we can believe that the divine character 
of the Basileus was less impressively felt, his associa- 
tion with the divinity less intimate, than was the 
case in Mesopotamia. Neither Agamemnon nor his 
predecessors would speak, we may be sure, with the 
same astonishing self-consciousness of their divine in- 
spiration as the earliest and later kings of Babylon 
and Assyria. 

Returning to the Mesopotamian societies, we find 
much other evidence of the dependence of State- 
institutions upon cult and religious ideas. Justice 
and the integrity of the Law were virtues consecrated 
by old Babylonian religion. One of the most striking 
of the Shamash hymns exhibits the sun-god as the 
guardian of right judgment" the wicked judge thou 
makest to behold bondage him who receives not a 
bribe, who has regard to the weak, shall be well- 
pleasing to Shamash, he shall prolong his life " : 
" Shamash hates those who falsify boundaries and 
weights." * The respect for the rights of property to 
which the latter phrase alludes, was maintained by 
the force of religious sanctions. The King Asurbanipal 
declares that he has restored to the Babylonians 
their fields that had been wrongfully taken away, " for 
fear of Bel and Nebo." 2 A number of inscribed 
Babylonian boundary-stones have been found with 
symbols of the various high gods carved upon them, 
with invocations in their name to deter trespassers, 
or those who would remove their neighbour's landmark. 3 
One of these is marked with a curse as follows: 4 
" May Ninib, the Lord of Boundaries, deprive him of 

1 C. D. Gray, The Samas Religious Texts (Brit. Mus.), Hymn i. 

2 Keilinschr. Bibl-, ii. p. 131- 

3 Cook, Religions of Ancient Palestine, p. 109. 

4 Jeremias, Holle f*. Paradies, p. 17. 


his son the water-pourer " meaning that the man who 
violates the boundaries shall leave no son behind 
him to perform the funeral rites. Probably other 
examples of this practice are to be found in non-Hellenic 
Asia Minor ; at present I can only quote one, a late 
Phrygian inscription, which, however, may testify to 
an early Phrygian religious function, on a slab with 
the divine name e Opo(pfau%, " Boundary-guardian/' 
inscribed beneath a carved relief-figure of the god Men 
bearing a club. 1 In Greece, as is well known, religion 
contributed the same aid to the evolution of the law 
of private property in land ; the boundary is put under 
the protection of Zeus "Qptog, a power similar to the 
Latin Jupiter Terminus, or of Hermes c ET/rp^a/o. 2 
In this function they are regarded as nether-deities, 
whose divinity is latent in the soil. But though Hellas 
may have borrowed from Babylon its system of land- 
measurement, it did not need to borrow this religious 
idea and practice. For these are widespread over the 
world : in the Teutonic north the rights of the owner 
were sanctified by carrying holy fire from the hearth 
round the boundary ; and in savage modern societies 
by the use of the terrible weapon of the tabu and by 
the erection of fetiches on the boundary mark which 
serve as uworpotfcttK. 3 We have here a salient example 
of religion as a constructive force in framing a great 
social institution, while the motive desire is secular 
and purely human. 

But we must not, I think, hope to be able to trace 
with any exactness the part played by religion in con- 
structing the various departments of the social fabric 

1 Sterrett, EpigrapMcal Journey, No. 65. 

2 Vide CuUs t vol. v. p. 19, 

3 Vide Frazer, Psyche's Task, pp. 18-30. 


of Babylonia ; for when we get our first glimpse of that 
society it is already so far advanced, so complex in 
its civilisation, in a sense so modern, that its embryology 
is likely to escape us. Nevertheless, it is interesting 
for our purpose to study the earliest material, the code 
of Hammurabi, to watch what light it throws on the 
correlation of religious and secular life. 

Some parts of it are missing, but we may be allowed 
to pass a temporary judgment on that which is preserved, 
and which appears to be the greater part of the whole 
corpus. 1 The code, as I have mentioned, is inspired 
by the god, safeguarded by the god, and the legislation 
is in that sense theocratic ; but as compared, for in- 
stance, with the Jewish books of the Law, it impresses 
us as the work of a cool-headed lawyer, of secular 
utilitarian principles, bringing legal acumen to bear 
on the problems of a complex society. At certain 
points it is still on the barbaric plane : the principle 
of " an eye for an eye " is enacted ; the sense of individual 
responsibility for wrong-doing is not yet so far developed 
but that vicarious punishment is still allowed ; a man's 
son or daughter might be put to death for his own 
offence. But in many respects it reveals an advanced 
moral and intellectual view, and the religious atmo- 
sphere is absent where we should most expect to find 
an infusion of it. In the enactments dealing with the 
fees due to a physician, we seem to discern that medicine 
has become a free and secular science. Still more 
important for our purpose are the clauses concerning 
homicide, for it is particularly in regard to homicide 
that religious feeling has been most operative in the 

1 Vide Winckler's "Die Gesetze Hammurabi "in Der Alte Orient, 
1906 ; an English version of the code in Johns' Babylonian and Assyrian 
Laws and Contracts. 



early legislation of society, and the evolution of our 
modern morality concerning this offence has been at 
times retarded by religion. Only one clause in the code 
happens to deal with deliberate murder, and only murder 
in special circumstances, those in which Clytemnestra 
murdered Agamemnon : Hammurabi would have im- 
paled Clytemnestra : a few other clauses are concerned 
with culpable homicide and unintentional. Hammurabi 
being himself a master-builder, is severe with bad archi- 
tects who build houses so weakly that they fall in and 
kill the owners : in such a case he kills the architect. 
But he is singularly equitable and mild with a man who 
is drawn into a quarrel in which blows are passed, and 
who unthinkingly wounds or kills his opponent ; if 
he can take an oath that he acted " without knowledge 
or without will/' he has only to pay the physician if 
the man is wounded, and half a mina of silver if the 
man is killed and was of free birth. Here there is no 
mention of the blood-feud, and Babylonian society 
seems wholly to have escaped from that dangerous 
principle of tribal barbarism. 1 Neither is there any 
hint of the inherent impurity of all bloodshed, whatever 
is the manner of the shedding ; and it seems that 
this society was no longer in bondage to that religious 
feeling, to which our modern moral sense concerning 
murder is in many ways indebted, but which is often 
obstructive of legal and ethical progress, and which 
coloured so deeply the early Judaic and Hellenic law 
of homicide. Further, we note that Hammurabi's 
code has come to allow the consideration of motives 

1 The son of the slain man could claim compensation for man- 
slaughter. In an Assyrian document a slave-girl is handed over to 
the son at the grave of the slain man. This is interesting, for it seems 
to point to some consideration for the feelings of the ghost (vide Johns, 
op. cit., p. 116). 


and extenuating circumstances ; and in this vital 
respect it ranks with modern civilised legislation. 
Between such a society and the proto-Hellenic com- 
munity, at least in regard to the view of homicide, there 
was a great gulf fixed. 

But for the present let us pursue the code further. 
Another crime that early society regards with religious 
horror, and of which religion always takes cognisance, is 
incest. The enactments of the code deal only with three 
cases : incest with daughter, mother, and stepmother ; in 
the first, the sinner is driven from the land, probably into 
perpetual exile ; in the second, both parties are burned 
alive ; in the third, he is merely driven from the paternal 
house. The first two punishments reveal, I think, 
religious feeling, stronger in the second case than in 
the first : the sinner pollutes the land, therefore the 
pollution must be purged by his flight, or when most 
deadly must be purged away by fire ; for execution by 
burning had often the religious significance of a holo- 
caust. Still it is only by surmise that we detect 
religious colour in the code at this point : in fact, it 
emerges clearly only in a few clauses. We note that the 
code allows of expurgation by oath-taking ; so did the 
early Greeks and our own forefathers, and the practice 
is not distinctive of any particular people or group. The 
code allows the ordeal in certain cases, as did the Greek, 
and as probably every community has done at a certain 
stage of religious feeling ; also civilised Babylon counten- 
anced trials for witchcraft, and enacted a similar water- 
ordeal to that which prevailed in England till fairly 
recent times. 

One clause is of interest as showing that Hammurabi 
was not afraid of any opposition from the priesthood if 
he wished to tax Church property ; for he enacts that 


the ransom of his captured feudal followers (about whom 
he is particulurly thoughtful) " shall be paid out of the 
property of the temple nearest to the place where they 
were taken prisoners/' 2 But the most interesting part of 
the code from the religious point of view, are the enact- 
ments concerning a class of women who are devoted to the 
service of religion, sisters or wives, as they are here called, 
of Marduk : but it will be more convenient to consider 
these later on when the question of ritual is dealt with. 

Apart from this great document, I do not know if 
further evidence is forthcoming of the precise influence 
of religion on the social system of Babylonia. The two 
spheres may once have been closely interdependent ; 
but we can see from the earliest legal contracts that law 
had already freed itself from religion in the main ; the 
judge is a secular authority ; 2 the scribe who draws up 
the contracts is a professional notary, and it is not clear 
that he had any necessary connection with the temples ; 3 
we only hear of certain elders who assisted the judge, 
many of whom were temple officials or members of the 
guild of Shamash votaries ; 4 also, we find trials taking 
place in the temples, especially the temple of Shamash 
at Sippara, where the legal judgment was called " the 
judgment of Shamash in the house of Shamash/' 6 Much 
light has yet to come, no doubt, from Babylon, and new 
light perhaps from Anatolia, to illuminate the part 
played by religion in the evolution of society. We 
would wish to know more concerning the religious side 
of family institutions, whether, for instance, there was 
any direct cult of the family hearth to which the Hellenes 
owed so much. Robertson Smith definitely denies that 

1 Vide Johns, op. cit., p. 77. a Op. cit., p. 83. 

3 Op. cit.; p. 85. 
6 Op. tit,, p. 90. 


any of the Semitic races knew of such an institution ; 
and he is very probably right, for it belongs more 
naturally to the colder climates, where the fixed and 
carefully placed hearth is a necessary centre of the 
dwelling-room, than to the hotter, where the inhabitants 
could be content in winter with a movable brazier. Yet 
one text at least may be cited to prove, if rightly inter- 
preted, that the hearth could be occasionally deified in a 
Babylonian liturgy ; for in a hymn to Nusku the fire-god, 
which contains a litany of absolution from sins, we find 
the phrase, " May the hearth of the house deliver you and 
absolve you," x but the same litany speaks also of the 
canals as deified. And we may value these two examples 
of that polydaimonism to which we could find parallels 
in early Hellas. But this evidence does not point to 
any established and regulated hearth-worship which might 
serve as the religious bond of family morality. More 
than one inscription, however, attests the worship of a 
family house-god (ilu-biti), to whom it seems a small 
domestic chapel was consecrated. 2 Similarly, we have in 
Hellas Zeus c Ep#s70 and Zevs Krfatog. And the Baby- 
lonian ilu-biti is mentioned, in association with a 
divinity of the street, ila-suki, a name which reminds us 
of Apollo 'Ayvtevg. Only, these household and street- 
divinities in Babylon may have been mere " daimones " 
rather than foot; nor is it clear whether these family 
cults were ancestral, the heritage of a particular clan, 
or whether they were merely consecrated to the personal 
protective deity of the householder, or what part they 
played in the family organisation, for instance, in the 

1 Translated by Scheil in Rev. de I' hist, des Religions, 1897, 
p. 205. 

2 Zimmern in K.A.T*, p. 455 ; cf. Ms Beitrdge sur Kenntniss der 
Babyl, Religion, ii. p. 147, "for the House-God, the House-Goddess, 
for the House-daimon thou shalt erect three altars." 


marriage-ceremonies, births, and adoptions. So far as I 
have been able to study them, the Babylonian litanies 
and hymns seem rarely to reflect the religious side of the 
family life l ; they are prompted by the needs of the city 
and the empire, or by the emotional crises of the indi- 
vidual soul. The legal contracts preserved on the brick 
tablets throw some light on the forms of the marriage 
ceremony, which appears to have been performed usually 
in a registration-office rather than a church. There 
must surely have been also some religious side to it ; 
but the only evidence, so far as I am aware, is a very 
curious and doubtful document that has been published 
by Dr. Pinches, containing details of a religious ceremony 
which appears to be part of a bridal. 3 I will not quote 
the quaint and bizarre formulae, as the renderings are 
said to be highly conjectural : if they prove correct, one 
may judge that the service belongs to a highly advanced 
religion; but I cannot adduce any parallel to it from 
other peoples. As for the ritual or religious feeling 
connected with adoption or birth, I am not aware that 
the documents have so far disclosed anything : it is 
stated vaguely by Peiser, in his sketch of Babylonian 
society, that adoption at Babylon might be prompted 
by a religious motive, namely, by the desire of the child- 
less parents to have an heir who might continue the 
ancestor-worship of the family. But no document is 
quoted in proof of this ; and it is very doubtful if we 
ought to speak of Babylonian ancestor-worship. 3 We 
may suspect that the writer has been misled by the 

1 For exceptions, vide infra, pp. 213, 217. 

- Vide Johns, op, cit., p. 133 ; quoting from paper by Dr. Pinches in 
Proceedings of the Victoria Institute, 1892-93, " Notes on some recent 
Discoveries in the Realm of Assyriology." 

3 Johns, op. cit., p. 154, etc., treats Babylonian adoption wholly as 
a secular business based on secular feelings. 


well-known facts of Vedic, Hellenic, and Roman family 

In this, as in other respects, we may feel how advanced, 
modern and secular, was Babylonian society. No trace 
has appeared as yet of the tribal or phratric system ; 
the family is the unit of the State, but individualism is 
much developed. 

On the other hand, the function of religion as a 
constructive force in early Greek society, in the evolution 
of tribal and intertribal law, is more obvious and trans- 
parent, for in this land we are fortunate enough to 
catch glimpses of civilised society in its making, which 
are denied to us in Mesopotamia. Hellenic religion 
penetrated every domain and department of Hellenic 
life to an even greater degree than did Babylonian 
religion the society of Babylon. And yet the Greek 
mind as it develops becomes pronouncedly secular, 
at least in comparison with the Oriental. The con- 
tradiction is only apparent. The Hellene used religion 
as an instrument for constructing his social order, 
for utilitarian ends, as a serviceable minister that 
could rarely, and never for long, establish a tyranny. 
He even used it to assist and glorify his sports, yet he 
varied and arranged these according to his pleasure. 
The detrimental tendency of religion to petrify custom 
was less marked in his midst than elsewhere ; as usual, 
it often lagged behind in the progress of the race, yet it 
followed the progress on the whole, and often assisted it. 

I cannot here give a detailed account of the social 
functions of Greek religion ; and some of its more 
interesting phenomena I have tried to analyse in detail 
in my Hibleri Lectures and in various chapters of my 
Cults : one of the most important of the special questions, 
the social or political influence of the cults of ancestors, 


entered into the course that I delivered last year. I 
will only attempt here a brief indication of the salient 
facts that will repay special study, confining myself 
as far as possible to those that belong to the proto- 
Hellenic period. Our knowledge, of course, of the 
relation of religion to the social order of life, law, and 
morality in the second millennium in Greece, is only dim 
and hypothetical : here and there Homer affords us 
glimpses ; for the rest, we have legends and cult evidence 
which must be carefully and tactfully used. I have 
already touched on the religious character of the 
ancient kingship, and the evidence of the religious origin 
of some of the Hellenic mteig. It is probable that some 
of the deities had already in the proto-Hellenic period 
a political character, as deities of the assembly or the 
" agora/' Thus Apollo 'Ayviwg, at first a divine 
leader of the invasion, becomes, when the conquerors 
settle on the land, at once a divinity of the city ; and 
some scholars would derive his very name from the 
aTgAX&, the political assembly. In order to ensure 
the settlement and development of law, the debates 
and judgments in the market-place must be secured 
from armed disturbance such as frequently threatened 
the peace of the Icelandic Thing : therefore, in pre- 
Homeric days the market-place was consecrated as a 
holy place, and the elders who give judgment " hold 
in their hands the sceptres of clear- voiced heralds." 1 
These words probably refer to the z7]pvzetov> the 
badge of Hermes, the god of the market-place, which 
as a religious amulet confers inviolability on the bearer. 
The same fetich-badge, giving security to the herald 
and ambassador, assisted the development of inter- 
national law ; and the only spiritual sanction of treaties 

1 IL, 18, 505- 


and covenants with other communities was a religious 
one, the iorce of the oath sworn and the ordeal-ritual 
which accompanied the conclusion of a treaty or contract. 
The temple on the borderland of different tribes served 
as a secure place for intertribal intercourse, commercial 
and festive, and might become the centre of an Am- 
phictyony, or federal union of tribes. The constitution 
of the Delphic Amphictyony points back to the proto- 
Hellenic period. The oracles were beginning in the second 
millennium to play a political part, as they did with greater 
effect in the first. For Zeus was already at Dodona, and 
Apollo, the political god par excellence, at Pytho. 

Our indications are slight and dim; but the poet 
of the Odyssey seems to be aware that an ofAtpy or 
oracular deliverance might be used to dethrone a royal 
dynasty. 1 The dedication of a tithe of the captives 
taken in war to Apollo was a custom connected with the 
earliest settlements and migration, for Apollo disposed 
of his captives by colonising them on some vacant land. 
The practice appears to have been a very early one, 
for this is the legend of the pre-Dorian settlement of 
the Dryopes in the Peloponnese ; 2 also there is evidence 
for the institution in pre-historic Greece of that religious 
system of colonisation which the Latins called" the 
Ver Sacrum. 3 In fact, the religion of Apollo, especially 
the common worship of Apollo TLudawc, served more 
than any other cult as a bond of connection between 
the independent communities already I believe in 
pre-Homeric days ; and to this earliest epoch may 
belong that interesting ritual of the Hyperborean offerings 
brought by sacrosanct Hellenic pilgrims down from the 
north along the primeval routes of the Aryan immigration. 4 

1 Od., 3, 215. 2 Vide Cults, iv. pp. 201-202. 

3 Ib., p. 202. * 16., pp. 104-106. 


The narrower systems of family and phratry tell 
the same story of the constructive power of religion. 
The primitive grouping into septs and phratries and 
tribal subdivisions, of which the traces are not yet 
discovered in the civilisation of Babylon, has left its 
deep imprint on historic Greek society; and religion 
is intimately interwoven with the domestic and phratric 
cults, not only in that these are much concerned with 
worship of heroes and ancestors, but that the high 
divinities also, Zeus <parp;o, Athena <E>parp/a and 
'Awrovpfa, take these institutions under their charge. 
Hence all adoptions and admissions of new members 
into the phratry had to be performed at the altar. 
The marriage ceremony was a religious ritual in Attica, 
at least, a religious communion like the Roman Con- 
farreatio, 1 and the mutual duties of parents and children, 
kinsmen and tribesmen, were consecrated by the early 
ideas concerning the divine nature. 2 

A festival such as the 'ATrarovptu, instituted to 
cement a social organisation, and to all appearances 
of great antiquity, has nothing like it in the Babylonian 
festival calendar, so far as I am aware ; and again, to 
the many political and social titles of the Hellenic 
divinities such as Tiohtevg, 'Ayopwog, Ti&vliifbog, Bov- 
Xcuos, it would be hard to find parallels in the cult- 
terminology of Babylon. 

In considering a religion under its social or legal 
aspects, the laws concerning homicide will often yield 
telling evidence. There is a whole aeon of develop- 
ment dividing the code of Hammurabi and the Homeric 
and pre-Homeric theory in this matter. The Baby- 
lonian had arrived, as we have seen, 3 in some indefinitely 

1 Vide my Cults, iii, pp. 80-81. 2 !&., pp. 53~55- 

3 Vide supra, pp. 129-131. 


early period at the conception of murder as a crime 
against the whole State, at what we may call the ad- 
vanced secular point of view. In Greece that conception 
is post-Homeric : the Homeric and pre-Homeric societies 
were still in the stage of law in which homicide is treated 
as a private affair of the kinsmen, a matter to be settled 
by the blood-feud or weregild. Only in certain cases 
it was a sin, namely, when the slain person was a sup- 
pliant or a kinsman. The religious feeling in respect of the 
first partly arises from the old Aryan Hearth-worship ; * 
in respect of the second, it is associated with a primitive 
tribal horror of shedding kindred blood : and, though 
the feeling of the religious sanctity of ihe guest, the 
suppliant, and the kinsman was strong in Semitic com- 
munities, I cannot find any special Babylonian cult 
that is analogous to that of Zeus Me/X/%fO, or e l%t<rto$, 
or Esv/0. I have traced elsewhere the development 
in the ninth and eighth centuries of the more civilised 
legislation concerning homicide in Greece, and I have 
tried to indicate the precise part played by religion in 
aiding the evolution : 2 to get to the facts one must 
specially study the worship of Athena and Apollo. 
I have connected it with a growing sense of the impurity 
of bloodshed, which might express itself in a definite 
religious way, as fear of the ghost or of the offended 
deity. It is open to us to explain this increased sen- 
sitiveness concerning purity as a mark of Oriental 
influence, which was reaching Greece in the first millen- 
nium B.C. But at least we ought not to derive it from 
Mesopotamia until we find evidence of purifications 
from bloodshed as a common ritual in Babylonian 
religion, and the impurity of bloodshed an underlying 

1 Vide my Cults, v. p. 345. 

2 Evolution of Religion, pp. 139-152. 


principle of the Babylonian law of murder. But, as 
we have seen, we discern here only the secular result : 
the religious force that may have worked towards it is 
too far removed in the background of the past. Sum- 
marily, we must conclude that the political application 
of Hellenic religion seems wholly a native and in- 
dependent product of the Hellenic spirit, and reflected 
the characteristically Hellenic forms of civic life. 



THE comparison must also consider the relation in these 
various societies between religion and morality, both 
social and individual. From this point of view, as we 
are dealing with the second millennium only, it must be 
a comparison mainly between the Mesopotamian and 
the Hellenic ; for except for a few Hittite letters that 
reveal little, there is no evidence concerning our races 
of the west of Asia Minor, since monuments can scarcely 
be direct witnesses concerning ethics ; at least, the Asia 
Minor monuments are not, and we must await the 
further discovery and interpretation of Hittite literature. 
For the proto-Hellenic period also, it may be said, we 
have no explicit and direct evidence. But we have 
Homer, whose poems belong to the end of that period 
and the beginning of the second ; and we cannot suppose 
that the average morality that they represent had all 
grown up in the century before them, still less that 
Homer had discovered it as an original teacher. There- 
fore, cautiously and critically handled, his poems throw 
some light on the moral facts of the centuries behind 
them. There is also some evidence to be gleaned from 
the rich field of Greek mythology and cult ; only we 
must realise that we rarely can determine the date of 
the rise of an old Hellenic legend or the institution of 
an old Hellenic cult. The Mesopotamian evidence, 


then, is direct and explicit, depending solely on the 
right interpretation of documents ; the Hellenic evi- 
dence concerning the earliest period is indirect and often 

A careful study of all the sources will allow this 
induction, that the deities of this period in both societies 
are on the side of whatever morality is current, inspiring 
it, protecting it, and avenging the breach of it ; we 
are dealing, in fact, with a religion of personal moral 
powers. Concerning the Mesopotamian, this is a trite 
observation to make ; the most superficial glance of a 
few hymns confirms it. Shamash is the great god of 
justice, the protector of the weak; Enlil " destroyeth 
the evil-minded " ; 1 Ishtar judges the cause according 
to right she maintains the right of the oppressed and 
the downcast ; Righteousness and Judgment are the 
sons of Shamash. Ga-tum-duga, "she who produces 
good," is an appellative of Bau. 2 And yet this is not 
the whole account. The destructive and evil character 
of some of the deities in Mesopotamia occasionally 
appears in the hymns, and is expressed apparently in 
certain titles. This might be the case at times when 
those deities are addressed that were powers of death 
and the lower world; for instance, Nergal, the lord 
of destruction; Isum, a little-known deity to whom 
a phrase is attached that is said to mean " the exalted 
murderer/' 3 And this might be explained by the fact 
that these powers personified, as it were, the baneful 
forces of nature, or, as perhaps in the case of Martu, whom 
Jeremias cites as one of the evil gods, were aliens. 4 

1 Zimmern, Babylonische Hymnen und Gebete, p. 20. 

2 Pinches, op. cii^ p. 77. 

3 Vide Jeremias, Bab. Assyr. Vorstellungen vom Leben nach dem 
Tode, p. 68, 

4 Zimmern, K.A.T.*, pp. 433-434. 


We find also the name of an obscure deity, " Ira/' 
who was a god of pestilence, and at times identified 
with Nergal ; x but that a direct cult was attached to 
him in this baneful character is not shown. And it is 
unlikely that any Babylonian deity was worshipped 
definitely as an evil power : moral speculation could 
always explain the evU that .he appeared to work as a 
punishment for sin or as righteous vengeance on the 
enemy ; that is to say, the evil element becomes 
moralised, and the worshipper is always convinced that 
the god can become good to him. Thus in the same 
context Nergal is called the " Lord of Destruction/' 
and yet he is " the god of the little ones, he of the 
beneficent visage/' 2 The dark storm-god Adad, before 
whose wrath the high gods rise up in terror, the pitiless 
one, can yet be implored as " the merciful among 
the great gods." 3 This transformation, by which a 
destructive nature-power could become a benevolent 
being, follows a law of religious psychology, which 
expresses itself in the quasi-magical phraseology of 
prayer. The worshipper wishes to get some good 
from his deity or some mercy : therefore he calls him 
good and merciful, feeling that such spell-words con- 
strain the god to be so ; and belief will arise from the 
continual repetition of formulae. Therefore, by the 
time our record begins, all the deities that the Baby- 
lonian and Assyrian worshipped are beneficent on the 
whole : the Epic of Creation supposes the existence of 
primeval bad powers, but these had been conquered, 
and some pardoned, by Marduk. The evil personal 
agencies that remained active were demons, and these 

1 Zimmern, op. cit., pp. 412, 587. 

2 Langdon, op. cit. t p. 83. 

4 Reseller, Lexikon, vi. p. 47, s.v. *' Ramman." 


were not worshipped, but exorcised or averted by the 
good gods. 1 

And this may serve as a fairly accurate description 
of the moral character of Greek religion at that stage 
of development where Homer presents it to us. The 
high deities are worshipped on the whole as moral beings 
and as beneficent : that is, as the guardians of the social 
morality of the period, whatever that was. The usual 
popular writer does not perceive this, because he is 
always liable to the error of confusing mythology with 
worship, and supposing that if the mythology is licentious 
or immoral, the deity is worshipped in that character. 
All students of mythology and religion are aware that 
this is false. We might be able to show that the religious 
imagination and statement of Homer at times fall below 
the level of contemporary cult, at times rise above it. 
At any rate, he is evidently addressing a world of re- 
ligious-minded people, who impute their own moral 
ideals to their highest divinities, especially to their 
high god Zeus. TS'sptffig, the social feeling of indigna- 
tion which is at the psychic basis of social morality, 
is the common emotion excited both in gods and men 
by the same acts ; and though much of Greek religion 
was still not yet penetrated with morality, the higher 
personal gods were generally regarded as on the side of 
righteousness. One or two Greek myths, such as that 
of Prometheus, as Hesiod narrates it, might suggest 
that the deity was not necessarily conceived as the 
friend, but sometimes even as the enemy, of man. But 
Hesiod's narrative does not strike us as primitive or 

1 Certain other minor powers or daimones, such as the corn-deity, 
the Lord of Watercourses (Shuqamunu), may have remained pureiy 
" functional/* and have acquired no moral attributes beyond the 
beneficent exercises of their special function. But the habitual 
Babylonian tendency is to moralise all the gods and goddesses. 


popular ; and, at any rate, such a view is inconsistent 
with the earliest stage of worship that we can discover 
or surmise. The poets and philosophers might dislike 
Ares ; but the Hellenes, who worshipped him, did not 
worship him as an evil god, with apotropaeic rites : 
nor is it proved or likely that any deity to whom actual 
service was paid, was regarded as in his nature male- 
ficent by his worshippers. The dread powers of the 
lower world were also givers of vegetation. The Erinyes 
had scarcely a recorded cult, and their wrath was 
moralised as righteous indignation ; nor was ghost-cult, 
when it arose, merely a service of terror and aversion. 
It is a striking confirmation of the view here expressed, 
that among the very long list of cult-appellatives attached 
to the Greek divinities, some of which have a moral 
value, there are only two doubtful examples of an evil 
connotation attaching to the word. 1 

We may affirm generally, then, that the Meso- 
potamian and Hellenic religions are more or less on the 
same level of thought in respect of the moral and benefi- 
cent character of the deities. But careful study of 
the Hellenic will give us the impression that the terrible 
and destructive power of divinity is far less emphasised 
by cult than it was in the Eastern Semitic world. 
Every deity might be dangerous if neglected, and cer- 
tainly would be if insulted. The idea of the " jealous 
god " is non-moral, and can easily become immoral : 
that is, it tends to divorce the conception of the divine 
character from the purely human moral ideal. And this 
idea is palpable not only in the Hellenic and Meso- 
potamian, but still more in the Judaic religion, and our 
own religion is not yet delivered from it. But apart 

1 * A.<f>poSLT7) dvdpo(j>6vos or d^crios, Cults, ii. p. 665, and 
dv0pu'jroppal<m}s, ib. f v. p. 156. 


from this, the Hellenic imagination, so far as we can 
discern it, even in its infancy, did not construct manifold 
forms of fear out of the dangerous powers in the nature- 
world, and worship them with the higher forms of cult. 
We do not come upon aboriginal thunder gods and 
storm gods per se (I use the term " god " advisedly) : 
Zeus the thunderer had been civilised and moralised 
before Homer's time. Poseidon had always his wild 
side as god of storms and earthquakes ; and to the end 
he remains rather more a non-moral nature-power than 
the others ; but destructive force was certainly not 
the centre of his personality, and in the pre-historic 
days he had become the father of the Minyan and Ionic 
people, and the guardian of their family life. The 
wind-powers might develop into beneficent gods or 
ancestors ; or might occasionally be regarded from 
the lower standpoint of polydaimonism, and averted by 
magical means. The higher Hellenic religion did not 
admit such beings as " Ira/* the god of pestilence, 
or a special god of storms or earthquakes, and it is far 
less than the Babylonian a religion of fear. This differ- 
ence will emerge more clearly in the study of ritual. 

One more difference strikes us in comparing the ethical 
character of the two religions. The Greek high divinity 
is a moral being, but not every divinity was moralised 
to such an extent as were the higher powers of Meso- 
potamia. A few Hellenic deities remain ethically un- 
developed and crude, Ares, for instance, and in a certain 
sense Hestia. A salient example is the contrast between 
the fire-god Hephaistos and the Babylonian-Sumerian 
Nusku or Girru. 1 Both are elemental powers of fire, 
both are therefore concerned with the arts of metal- 
work; but Hephaistos remains a handicraftsman, and 

1 Zimmern, K.A.T,*, pp. 416-418 ; Jastrow, op, cit., pp. 297, 4 8 7- 


has little or nothing to do with moral life ; whereas 
the Babylonian deity acquires an exalted moral and 
spiritual character. Dionysos becomes a most potent 
force in the later Hellenic world ; yet an irrepressible 
vein of wildness and a spirit that refuses to conform 
to the ethical ideal of Hellas remains in him. A god 
so highly placed at Babylon would have been clothed 
with moral attributes in many an ecstatic phrase of 
temple liturgy. 

It would be interesting to go more into detail con- 
cerning the special moral virtues consecrated by the two 
religions, or the various moral attributes specially at- 
tributed to the divinities. Such a study would demand 
two long treatises on Greek and Babylonian ethics. I 
have only time and power to indicate here a few points. 
The peoples of the old world show many general points 
of resemblance with each other in their moral ideas, and 
as compared with ourselves many salient points of 
difference. And moral statistics have rarely any value 
for proving the influence of one race upon another. As 
the Babylonian society was more complex in the second 
millennium than was the Hellenic, so must its morality 
have been ; but it will not be found futile from the point 
of view of our main purpose to compare the two in respect 
of some special virtues, as we have already compared them 
incidentally in regard to the ideas about homicide. 

The idea of the sin of perjury belongs to the earliest 
stage of religious ethic, and is the starting-point of 
much moral evolution. It is magical in its origin ; 
for the oath-taker enters into communion with the 
divinity, by touching some sacred object or eating 
sacred food charged with divine power, which, being 
now within him, will blast him if he forswears. This 
dangerous power becomes interpreted as the anger 


of the deity by whom the person swears falsely. Hence 
the belief arose in early Mesopotamia and Greece, and 
generally in the cults of personal gods, that they punish 
perjury as a dire offence : such punishment will fall 
on the community or individual, and often on both : 
therefore a social moral instinct arises against perjury. 
This might develop into a moral idea among a pro- 
gressive people that truthfulness, quite apart from the 
ritual of the oath, was dear to God in any case, and was 
therefore a religious virtue. And of this religious virtue 
attaching to truthfulness, however it came to attach, 
we have evidence in a Babylonian ritual of confession ; 
before the evil demon can be exorcised, the priest 
asked certain questions of the penitent, and twice he 
asks, "Has he said, yea for nay, and nay for yea? " 1 
But in no Hellenic record have I ever been able to find 
a religious parallel to this. The Hellenic religious spirit 
was most sensitive in respect to perjury, and no religion 
ever reprobated it more. In regard to ordinary truth- 
fulness, Hellenic religion had nothing to say, no message 
to give, and Hellenic ethics very little. In the poetic story, 
Athena smiles on the audacious mendacities of Odysseus, 
and Hermes loves the liar Autolykos. Not that the religion 
consecrated mendacity, only it failed to consecrate truth. 

It is only the great Achilles who hates with the hate 
of hell the man who says one thing with his tongue and 
hides another thing in his heart. 2 This is the voice 
of northern honour, but it has no religious import. 

The ideas connected with perjury have this further 
value for the history of ethics, that they contributed 
much to the growth of international morality. It is 

1 Weber, DdmonenbescTiwoyung bei den Babyloniern und Assyrevn, 
p. 8. 


often supposed that the earliest morality is merely tribal 
or clannish, and that in respect of the alien it is non- 
existent ; but this account of morality is false wherever 
perjury is found to be a sin. For one great occasion 
for oath-taking is a treaty or a contract with an alien 
power. And Homer is our witness that it was considered 
an immoral act for either Achaeans or Trojans to break 
their mutual oath. And this early idea of international 
morality inspires the Tel-El-Amarna correspondence 
and the Hittite treaty with Rameses. International 
morality also includes the duty of hospitality, and the 
pre-Homeric world had developed this moral sense 
strongly, and no doubt through the aid of religion ; the 
stranger who puts himself into communion with Hestia, 
the holy hearth, or with Zeus Xenios, has a moral 
right to protection, and the abduction of Helen was 
regarded as a sin on the part of Paris against Zeus the 
god of the guest-right. I have not yet been able to find 
a cult-concept in Babylonian religion parallel to that 
of Zeus Xenios, or any reference to hospitality as a 
sacred duty ; yet we know that this was and is as 
highly regarded by some Semitic races as it ever was 
by the Hellenic. We may suspect, however, that as 
Babylonian society was in many respects very modern and 
complex, the religious sanction of hospitality had decayed. 
Looking now at the moral code as regulating the 
relations of members of the same tribe or community, 
we cannot doubt that clan-morality was already highly 
developed in the proto-Hellenic period : the rights and 
duties of kinsmen are the basis of this morality, and these 
were consecrated by the worship around the altar of 
Zeus " in the courtyard/' which may have been a primi- 
tive religious gathering-place for the kinsfolk of the early 
Aryan household. Homer is our first witness for the 


cult of Zeus 'Epxtiog,' 1 but it is evident that it had been 
long in existence before his time. The earliest moral 
duty that the tie of kinship imposes is the maintenance 
of peace and goodwill, and as the kindreds grow into a 
political community, this becomes the basis of political 
morality and the corner-stone of the religion of the city. 
The Homeric age, and probably their predecessors, have 
attained this ethical religious idea ; and though Homer 
is the first to give voice to it, we will not suppose that he 
discovered it : " outcast from clan, from holy law, and 
holy hearth is he who longs for bitter battle among the 
people of his own township/' 2 And to this early age 
we must also impute the religious morality of the mono- 
gamic family : the son fears the curse of the father and of 
the mother, even of the elder brother : " thou knowest 
that the powers of judgment defend the right of the elder- 
born" Iris says warningly to Poseidon. 8 The Erinyes 
are specially charged with the preservation of the 
morality of the family and clan, and with the punishment 
of the two chief offences against the sacred blood of the 
kin, murder and incest. Of the first, enough has been 
said ; the religious view of the earliest Greeks concerning 
the second is first attested by Homer, who mentions 
" the woes of Oedipus that the Furies of his mother 
bring to pass for him " ; 4 he is thinking more of the 
incestuous marriage than of the parricide. As regards 
ordinary adultery, it is only from the later period of 
Greek literature that we hear protests against it as a 
sin, though the sentiment of moral indignation against 
the adulterer is no doubt pre-Homeric. One or two 
Greek myths that may reflect very early thought express 
the severe reprobation on the part of the father of 

1 Od., 22, 334. 2 IL> g> 63 

3 //., 15, 204. * Od., ii, 280. 


unchastity in his unmarried daughter ; myths telling 
of cruel sentences of death imposed for the offence. 
But these suggest no religious feeling ; the sentiment 
may well have arisen from the fact that under the 
patriarchal system the virgin-daughter was the more 
marriageable and commanded a higher bride-price. 

Looking at the code of family and social duties in the 
ethical religion of Babylon, of which the private peni- 
tential hymns and confessional ritual of exorcism are the 
chief witnesses, we find no figures whose concept and 
function remind us at all of the Erinyes, the curse- 
powers on the side of righteousness ; but there is evidence 
in the literature of a famity morality more advanced 
and more articulate than the primitive Greek. Among 
the sins mentioned in the ritual of confession, alluded to 
above, those indicated by the following questions are of 
interest : " Has he caused variance between father and 
son, mother and daughter, father-in-law and daughter- 
in-law, brother and brother, friend and friend, partner 
and partner? Has he conceived hatred against his 
elder brother, has he despised his father and mother, 
insulted his elder sister ? " 1 All these acts of social 
misconduct are supposed to give a man into the posses- 
sion of the evil demon, which must be exorcised before 
God will admit him to his fellowship again. Though 
magical ideas are operative in the ceremony, yet we 
discern here a high religious morality. And among the 
other moral offences clearly considered as sins in the 
same formula are such as shedding one's neighbour's 
blood, committing adultery with one's neighbour's wife, 
stealing from one's neighbour. We find also a certain 
morality in the matter of property and commerce given 
a religious sanction in this text : " Thou shalt not 

i Weber, op. cit. t p. 8. 


remove thy neighbour's landmark " was a religious law 
in ancient Babylonian ethics as in our present liturgy ; 
it would appeal to the Hellene who reverenced Zeus 
"Opiog; and there are reasons for believing this cult-idea 
to have been in vogue very early in Greece. The Baby- 
lonian code also recognises the sin of using false measure 
or false coin. And the confessional liturgy agrees in 
many points with the famous hymn to Shamash, where 
phrases occur such as " Shamash hates him who falsifies 
boundaries and weights"; "Shamash hates the adul- 
terer." x It excites our envy also, by stamping as sins 
certain unpatriotic acts, such as " the spreading a bad 
report concerning one's city/' or " bringing one's city 
into evil repute/' 

We may say, then, that we find a high degree of 
morality in early Greece, a still higher at a still earlier 
period in Babylon, and both are obviously indigenous 
and natural products. And both reveal the pheno- 
menon that marks an early stage of social morality : as 
the tribe or the family are one flesh, one corporate unit 
of life, so the members are collectively responsible, and 
" the sins of the fathers are visited on the children." 
This was the familiar law of old Hellas, and we may say 
of the ancient Mediterranean society ; the first to make 
the momentous protest against it, and to proclaim the 
responsibility of the individual conscience, was Theognis 
for the Hellenes and Ezekiel for the Hebrews. The 
Babylonian, advanced in moral thought as he was, had 
not escaped the bondage of the older clan-faith : in an 
incantation-hymn to Marduk, 2 the man who is seeking 
deliverance prays " may the sins of my father, of my 
grandfather, my mother, my grandmother, my family, 

1 Gray, SamaS Religious Texts (British Museum), Hymn i. 

2 Zimmern, Babylonische Hymnen u. Gebete, p. 18. 


my whole circle of kindred, not come near me, may they 
depart from iny side." 

One other characteristic of earty moral thought 
and feeling is that the sense of sin is not wholly ethical 
according to our modern criteria, but is partly regarded 
as something external to the will and purpose, some- 
thing inherent in certain acts or substances of which the 
performance or the contagion renders a man a sinner. 
Thus in the Babylonian confessional liturgy and hymns 
of penitence, while there is much that would appeal 
to the most delicate moral consciousness, and is on 
the same level with the most spiritual passages in the 
Hebrew psalms, there is also a strong admixture of what 
is alien and non-moral. The confessional formula l 
asks a man, for instance, " whether he has sat in the 
chair of a person under a ban/' that is, " a man forbid/' 
a person impure and under a curse ; tc whether he has 
met him, has slept in his bed, has drunk from his cup." 
In one of the penitential hymns that might be addressed 
to any god, " to the god that I know, and to the god 
that I do not know/ 1 as the formula expresses it, we 
find such sorrowful confessions as " without knowing 
it, I have eaten of that which is abominable in the sight 
of my god : without knowing it, I have trodden on 
that which is filthy in the sight of my goddess " ; " my 
sins are many, great is my transgression/ 3 2 This must 
be taken quite literally : contact with unclean things 
or with unclean persons, eating of forbidden food, is 
put in the same category with serious offences against 
social morality, and all these expose a man equally 
to the power of the evil demon and to the loss of his 
God's protection. And this is a half-civilised develop- 
ment in Babylonian psychology of the primeval savage 
1 Weber, op. cit., p. 9. 2 Zimmern, op. cit., p. 23. 


law of tabu : nor, as I think, is there yet any proof that 
the people of the Blesopotamian culture ever attained to 
the highest plane of ethical enlightenment ; the later Zara- 
thustrian religion of the Persian domination is strongly 
fettered by this ritualistic morality, in which the distinc- 
tion between that which is morally wrong and that 
which is physically unclean, is never clearly apprehended. 
This mental attitude is supported in the older and 
later Mesopotamian system by a vivid polydaimonism ; 
the evil demon is on the alert to destroy the family 
and the individual ; and where the demon is in possession 
the god departs. As the demon takes advantage of 
every accidental act, whether conscious or unconscious, 
the idea arises in the over-anxious spirit that one cannot 
be sure when or how often one has sinned, and all illness 
or other misfortune is attributed to some unknown 
offence. 1 The utterance of the Hebrew psalmist, " who 
can tell how oft he offendeth : cleanse Thou me from 
my secret faults," may express the intense sensitiveness 
of a very spiritual morality, or it may be merely ritualistic 
anxiety. This latter is certainly the explanation of the 
strikingly similar phrases in a Babylonian penitential 
hymn " the sins that I have done I know not ; 
the trespass that I have committed I know not." 2 
The feeling of sin is here deep and very moving " take 
away from me my wickedness as a cloak . . . my God, 
though my sins be seven times seven, yet undo my sins " ; 
yet the context that illustrates this passionate outpouring 
of the heart, shows that the sin might be such as the 
accidental stepping on filth. Such ideas, allowed to 
obsess the mind, easily engender despondency and 

1 " I have sinned and am therefore ill," is the conventional formula 
in the confessional exorcism (Zimmern, op. cit., p. 26). 
3 Zimmern, op. cit., pp. 23-24. 


pessimism ; and this tone is heard and once or twice is 
very marked in some of the most striking products of 
Babylonian religious poetry ; for instance, in the peni- 
tential hymn just quoted from, the poet sorrowfully 
exclaims : " Men are dumb, and of no understanding : 
all men who live on the earth, what do they understand ? 
Whether they do right, ,&T wrong, they understand 
nothing/' But the strangest example of this is a lyric 
of lamentation that reminds us vividly of the book of 
Job, found in the library of Assurbanipal, and of great 
antiquity and of wide vogue, as Zimmern shows. 1 It 
is a masterpiece of the poetry of pessimism : the theme 
is the sorrow and tribulation of the righteous who has 
served God faithfully all his life, and feels at the last 
that he has had no profit of it ; and his main thought 
is expressed in the lines, " If I only knew that such things 
were pleasing before God ; but that which seems good 
to a man's self, is evil in the sight of God : and that 
which according to each man's sense is to be despised, 
is good in the sight of his God. Who can understand the 
counsel of the Gods in heaven ? A god's plan is full of 
darkness, who hath searched it out ? " 

It is easy in all this to detect the intimate associa- 
tions with Biblical thought and feeling ; and we may 
trace back to Babylon the daimonistic theory of morals 
that colours the New Testament, and has prevailed 
throughout the centuries of Christendom, and is only 
slowly losing its hold. But at the same time all this 
sharply divides early Babylonian thought from what 
we can discern of the early Hellenic, and more than any 
other evidence confirms the belief that the great Eastern 
and Western races were not in close spiritual contact 
at the time when Hellenism was in the making. Certain 
1 Op. dt. t pp. 28-30. 


external resemblances in the thought and feeling about 
these matters are to be found in Hellas and in Meso- 
potamia ; that is to say, the germs are identical, for 
they are broadcast all over the world ; but the intensity 
of their cultivation, and their importance in relation 
to other life-forces, are immeasurably different. In the 
earliest Greek legend we discover the reflex of that 
external unpurposive morality that I have tried to 
define above : the acts of Oedipus were not according 
to our moral judgment ethically wrong, for they were 
wholly unintentional : yet in the oldest legend he is 
&$ avuyvog, as he calls himself in Sophocles' play, 
and a sinner in the eyes of the gods ; nor could all the 
virtue and valour of Bellerophon save him from the 
wrath of heaven aroused by the accidental slaying of 
his brother. Certain acts were supposed to put upon 
a man a quasi-physical, quasi-spiritual miasma, without 
reference to will or purpose, and render him hateful to 
God and man. But the bondage of the Greek mind to 
this idea was slighter and more temporary. And after 
all, the external sins in these legends were parricide, 
incest, and fratricide, dreadful things enough in them- 
selves. We do not hear of any Hellene's agony of remorse 
on account of treading accidentally on filth, or eating 
malodorous food. Homer, indeed, is marvellously un- 
troubled by any ritualistic pharisaic code ; we might 
even take him as a witness that there was none at all 
in earliest Hellas. We should be undoubtedly wrong. 
The early Greek must have had, like all mankind, his 
"tabus " in plenty ; for to suppose that all that we find 
in Hesiod and in the later inscriptions were a sudden 
discovery, would be childish. I may be able to consider 
the evidence concerning early Greek tabus when I 
compare the ritual. I will only say here that we have 


reason to believe that at no period was the Hellene 
morbidly perturbed about these, or ever moralised them 
up to that point where they could exercise a spiritual 
tyranny over his moral sense. He might object to 
touching a corpse or to approaching an altar with blood 
upon him ; but it does not seem to have occurred to him, 
as it did to the Persian, and with almost equal force to 
the Babylonian, that accidental contact with an impure 
thing instantly started into existence an army of demons, 
who would rush abroad to destroy ihe world of right- 
eousness. 1 

In fact, Hellenic tabus and purification-laws, except, 
indeed, the law concerning purification from bloodshed, 
had only this contact with religion, that the breach of 
them might offend an irritable divinity, which it would 
be unwise to do ; they were not religious, so far as we 
can discern, in the sense that they were associated 
with a vivid belief in evil spirits, as they were in the 
Babylonian and Persian creeds. There were germs 
indeed which might have developed into a vigorous 
daimonistic theory in early Hellas. We hear even in 
Homer of such unpleasant things as " a black Ker " ; 
and a mythic hero of Megara kills a monster called a 
nowy, almost, we may say, a devil. Certain days, 
according to Hesiod, might be unlucky, because perhaps 
Erinyes or ghosts were walking about, though that 
popular poet is not clear about this. But certainly 
not in early nor often in later Greece were men habitu- 
ally devil-ridden : nor did they see devils in food or 
blood or mud. Therefore, on the whole and com- 
paratively, early Greek religion, when we first catch 
a glimpse of it, appears bright and sane, a religion of 
the healthy-minded and of men in the open air. And 

1 Vide my Evolution of Religion, p. 128. 


therefore, when secular philosophy arose, Greek moral 
theory made no use of evil spirits except in certain 
Pythagorean circles where we may detect Oriental 
influence. Superstition and magic must have been 
more rife in ancient Greece than the Homeric picture 
would lead us to suppose : yet the higher culture of 
the people, in the earliest period which we are 
considering, was comparatively free from these in- 
fluences and refused to develop by religious specula- 
tion or anxious brooding the germs of daimonism 
always embedded in the lower stratum of the national 
mind. The Universe could not, therefore, be viewed 
by the Hellene as it was by the Zarathustrian, and to 
some extent by the Babylonian, as the arena of a cosmic 
struggle between the powers of good and the powers 
of evil. Nor could the Hellene personify the power 
of evil majestically, in such a guise as Ahriman or 
Satan ; he only was aware of certain little daemon- 
figures of death and disease, ghostly shadows rather 
than fully outlined personages ; or such vaguely con- 
ceived personal agencies as Ate and Eris, which belonged 
not to religion, but to the poetic-moral thought of the 
people. When we compare the various rituals, we 
shall discern that the Hellenic was by no means wholly 
bright or shallow, but that some of its most ancient 
forms were gloomy and inspired by a sense of sin or 
sorrow : nevertheless, it is just in respect of the com- 
parative weakness of this sense that it differed most 
markedly from the Babylonian. 

There are other aspects of the divine character 
interesting to compare in the religious theory of East 
and West. Despite the apparent grimness of the 
Babylonian-Assyrian theology, no divine trait is more 
movingly insisted on in the liturgies than the merciful- 


ness of the deity : Nebo is " the merciful, the gracious " ; l 
Ishtar is " the mighty lady of the world, queen of 
humanity, merciful one, whose favour is propitious, 
who hath received my prayer " ; 2 Sarpanitum is 
addressed as " the intercessor, the protectress of the 
captive " ; 3 Shamash as " the merciful god, who liftest 
up those that are bowed down and protectest the 
weak " ; 4 Sin as " the compassionate, gracious Father " ; 
and " Gamlat the merciful " is mentioned as a descriptive 
general epithet of an unknown Assyrian deity. 5 

These phrases may attest in the end a genuine and 
fervent faith ; but originally they were probably inspired 
by the word-magic of penitence, the sinner believing 
that he can make the deity merciful by repeatedly 
calling him so. At any rate, Babylonian religion 
catches thus the glow of a high ethical ideal ; and as 
the deities were invoked and regarded as by nature 
merciful, so the private man was required at certain 
times to show mercy, as the confessional formula proves. 
The same idea, though a less fervent and ecstatic ex- 
pression is given to it, is found in the oldest record of 
Greek religion : " Even the gods are moved to pity . . . 
them men turn aside from wrath by sacrifice, libation, 
and gentle prayers, when a man hath sinned and tres- 
passed against them. For prayers are the daughters 
of great God, . . . and if a man do them honour when 
they come anigh him, to him they bring great blessings, 
and hear him when he prayeth." This Homeric utter- 

1 Roscher, Lexikon, iii. p. 49. 

2 Langdon, op. cit., p. 269. 

3 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 536. For the idea of the goddess as the 
pleader for man before the high god, cf . the prayer of Ashurbanapal 
to Ninlil (Jastrow, p. 525). 

4 Zimmern, op. cit., p. 15 ; *&. p. n. 

5 Jastrow, op. cit. t p. 200. 


ance in the great speech of Phoenix 1 is the voice of a 
high and civilised religion ; and the idea inspires the 
ancient cults of Zeus (jbtikfyog and izmog. 

The Babylonian conception of divine mercy gave 
rise to an interesting phrase which is attached as a 
quasi-liturgical formula to many of the leading gods 
and goddesses "the awakener of the dead," "thou 
who raisest up the dead " : a phrase which has errone- 
ously been supposed to refer to an actual resurrection 
of the dead : 2 various contexts attest its real signifi- 
cance as an expression of the divine grace shown in 
restoring the sick to health, in saving men from the 
hand of death. Hellenic religious vocabulary affords 
no parallel to this formula nor to that title of Enlil 
" Lord of the breath of life of Sumer " ; 3 or that of 
Bel, " Lord of the life of the Land." 4 In some passages 
of Babylonian literature we mark the glimmering of 
the idea that life in its varied forms on the earth is 
a divine substance sustained by the personal deity. 
Ishtar is described as the protectress of all animate 
existence, and all life languishes when she descends 
to the nether regions. 5 The goddess of Erech, identified 
with Ishtar, speaking of her own functions, exclaims, 
" In the place of giving birth in the house of the be- 
getting mother, guardian of the home am I." 6 It is 
specially Tammuz who, by the side of Ishtar, imper- 
sonates the life of the soil, as appears in the striking 
refrain recurring in his hymn of lament : " When he 
slumbers, the sheep and the lambs slumber also ; 

1 n., 9, 497 J cf. my Cults, 1 pp. 72-73, 75-77. 

2 Vide Jeremias in Reseller's Lexikon, ii. p. 2355. 

3 Langdon, op. cit., p. 225. 

4 Jastrow, op. cit. t p. 490. 

5 Ib., p. 529. 

6 Langdon, op. cit., p. 3. 


when he slumbers, the she-goats and the kids slumber 
also " ; x and the same thought may have inspired 
a phrase that is doubtfully translated at the end of 
the hymn : " In the meadows, verily, verily, the soul 
of life perishes/ 1 Still more explicit is another Tam- 
muz hymn, in which, while bewailing the departed god, 
they wail for all the life of the earth, " the wailing is 
for the herbs ; . . . they are not produced : the wailing 
is for the grain, ears are not produced : the wailing is for 
the habitations, for the flocks, the flocks bring forth 
no more. The wailing is for the perishing wedded ones, 
for the perishing children ; the dark-headed people 
create no more/' 

In all this we see the reflection of a pantheistic 
feeling that links the living world and the personal 
divine power in a mystic sympathy. Now the idea 
of divinity immanent in living nature is inconsistent 
with a severely defined anthropomorphic religion ; 
hence we scarcely find it in the earlier religion of Hellas. 
Zeus is called the father of men and gods, but in a 
reverential rather than in any literal creative sense : 
nor is there found any trace of the idea that divine 
power is immanent in the life or soul of man, till we come 
to the later period of philosophic speculation and 
Orphism. Only here and there behind the anthropo- 
morphism we discern in Hellenic myth or cult the 
vaguer thought of diffused and immanent divinity; 
this reveals itself more than once in the myth and cult 
of Demeter, whose anger and sorrow at the loss of her 
daughter causes a sympathetic disappearance of the 
crops and the fruits of the earth ; and it is embodied 
in the Attic cult on the Akropolis of Demeter XXop?, 2 
which title expresses the immanence in the verdure of 

1 Langdon, op. cit. t p. 319. 2 Cults, iii. p. 33. 


the life-giving potency of the goddess. The ancient 
folklore of Greece, and a few cult-records of the primitive 
village-communities, reveal figures that recall faintly 
the lineaments of Tammuz, Eunostos of Tanagra, 
Skephros of Tegea, who may belong, as Linos certainly 
did, to that group of heroes of crop and harvest, who 
die and are bewailed in the fall of the year, and whose 
life is sympathetically linked with the life of the earth. 
But we find this type of personage in other parts of 
Europe, and there is every reason for believing that 
the western shores of the Mediterranean had not been 
touched by the Tammuz-myth and service in the second 
millennium B.C. 

The evidence then suggests that the pregnant idea 
of the godhead as the source of life was more prominent 
and more articulate in Babylonian than in Hellenic 


WE may next consider the attribute of purity as a 
divine characteristic, to see whether in this respect 
the East differed markedly from the West. As regards 
ritual-law, all the religions of the old world agree in 
demanding ritual-purity : the worshipper who ap- 
proaches the deities must be free from physical taint 
and impurity : this idea is so world-wide and so deeply 
embedded in primitive thought, that the mere presence of 
it is of no service for proving the interdependence of 
any religions in the historic period. From this ritual- 
law the concept naturally arises of " pure gods," deities 
who themselves are believed to be pure because they 
insist on purity in their worshippers. Marduk is called 
(( the purifier " in one of the incantation-texts, in allusion 
to his power of exorcising the evil demon of sickness 
by cleansing processes. 1 The cathartic rules that the 
law of ritual prescribes will differ according to the 
instincts and prejudices of different societies. But the 
Babylonian service demanded more than mere ritual- 
purity ; for instance, in a fragment of a striking text 
published by Delitsch, we find this injunction : " In the 
sight of thy God thou shalt be pure of heart, for that 
is the distinction of the Godhead." 2 

1 Reseller, Lexikon, ii p, 2354. 

2 Vide Jeremias, Die Culfus-Tafel von Sippar, p. 29. 



As regards the moral and spiritual sense of purity, 
the sense in which we speak of " purity of heart," we 
should naturally include purity in respect of sexual 
indulgence. But in applying this test to the Meso- 
potamian religion we are confronted with a singular 
difficulty. In the first place, the mythology is strikingly 
pure in our modern sense of the word, so far as the 
materials have as yet been put before us. It agrees 
in this respect with the Hebraic, and differs markedly 
from the Hellenic ; the gods live in monogamic marriage 
with their respective goddesses, and we have as yet 
found no licentious stories of their intrigues. It may 
be that generally the Babylonian imagination was 
restrained by an austerity and shy reverence that did 
not control the more reckless and lighter spirit of the 
Hellene ; or it may be that the priestly and royal 
scribes, to whom we owe the whole of the Babylonian 
religious literature that has come down to us, deliberately 
excluded any element of licentiousness that they may 
have found in the lower folklore. But there is one 
curious exception. In the Epic of Gilgamesh the hero 
repulses the proffered love of Ishtar, and taunts her with 
her cruel amours, giving a long list of her lovers whom 
she had ruined : one of these is Tammuz, " the spouse 
of thy youth/' upon whom " thou didst lay affliction 
every year " : then he mentions her other lovers who 
suffered at her hands a singular list : a bird, a lion, a 
horse, a shepherd of the flock, some Babylonian Paris 
or Anchises, whom Ishtar treated as Artemis treated 
Aktaion. We must suppose these allusions are drawn 
from Babylonian folklore, of which nothing else has 
survived, concerning the amorous adventures of the 
goddess. Hence modern accounts are apt to impute 
a licentious character to Ishtar, as a goddess of violent 


and lawless passion, and to connect with this aspect 
of her the institution in her temple at Erech of the 
service of sacred prostitutes, attested by certain cunei- 
form texts. In comparing the ritual of East and West, 
I shall give some consideration to this phenomenal 
practice. But this view of Ishtar is utterly contrary 
to that presented of her in the hymns and liturgies. 
Not only are certain hymns to Ishtar transcendently 
noble and spiritual in tone, surpassing most of the 
greatest works of Babylonian religious poetry, but certain 
phrases specially exalt her as the virgin-goddess. In 
one of the lamentations we read, "Virgin, virgin, in the 
temple of my riches, am I/' x " The spirit-maid, glory 
of Heaven : the Maiden Ishtar, glory of Heaven." 2 
In a psalm to Nana, one of the by-names of Ishtar, 
she is called " Virgin-goddess of Heaven " ; 3 in another 
she speaks of herself, " she of the pure heart, she without 
fear was I." 4 This virgin-character of hers must 
then be regarded as fixed by such epithets and phrases, 
of which more examples might no doubt be found. 
Therefore the phrase attached to her in the Epic of 
Gilgamesh, 5 " Kadisti Hani," must not be translated 
as Dhorme would translate it, 6 "the courtesan of the 
Gods," merely on the ground that the same word is 
applied to her temple-harlots : for the word properly 
means " pure " from stain, hence " holy/* 7 and in this 
latter sense it could be applied to her consecrated 
votaries, in spite of their service, which seems to us 

1 Langdon, op. cit., p. 191. 

2 16., p. 193. 3 Ib., p. 289. 

4 Ib., p. 3. 6 Tabl. 9,1, n. 

6 Choix des textes religieux Assyrians Babylonians, p. 270. 

7 Vide Zimmern, K.A.T.*, p. 423 ; but cf. Ms Beitrdge zuv Kenntniss 
d. Babyl. Relig., ii p. 179, " trefflich 1st die grosse BuHe die herrliche 


impure : the same word " Kedesh " is used for the 
votaries of the same ritual in Phoenicia and Syria. This 
apparent contradiction in the conception of Ishtar's 
character is sometimes explained I by the suggestion 
that she was really a combination of two distinct 
goddesses, a voluptuous and effeminate goddess of 
Erech, and a pure and warlike Assyrian goddess of 
Nineveh. But there is no real contradiction ; for in 
Babylonian religious and liturgical literature the lower 
view of Ishtar is never presented at all. She is always 
worshipped as pure and holy ; the licentiousness of 
folklore, if there was any such in vogue, was not 
allowed to intrude into the temple-service. Therefore 
Ishtar is no real exception to the rule that purity, even 
in our sense, is a prevailing characteristic of Babylonian 
divinity, as it was of the Hebraic. 

But now another phenomenon claims our interest : 
while being a virgin-goddess, she is sometimes addressed 
as a mother. In the inscription of Sargon (722-705 B.C.) 
she is described as " the Lady of the Heavenly Crown, 
the Mother of the Gods " ;* and in some of the older 
hymns, which have already been quoted, she speaks of 
herself at one time as mother and at another as maid : 
" Mother who knows lamentation/' and {( I am the 
Virgin-Goddess/' 3 Similarly, in the hymn to Nana 
she is called in one place " the Virgin-Goddess of Heaven " ; 
in another, " Mother of the faithful breasts." 4 Another 
goddess, Bau, who is eminently the mother or the 
wife-goddess, the spouse of Ningirsu or Ninib, is char- 
acterised in a hymn to the latter god as " thy spouse, 
the maid, the Lady of Nippur." 5 

1 E.g. by Dhorme, op. cit. - Keilinschr. BibL, ii. p. 47. 

3 Langdon, op. c*t., p. n. 4 /&., p. 289. 

6 Jastrow, op. cit., 460. 


From these phrases, then, seems to emerge the 
conception of a virgin-mother. Only we must not 
press it too far, or suppose at all that it crystallised into 
a dogma. It is characteristic of the ecstatic Babylonian 
imagination that in the swoon of rapture the intellect 
does not sharply hold contradictions apart, and the 
mystic enthusiasm reconciles contrary ideas as fused 
in one divine personality. Thus even a divinity natur- 
ally and properly male, might be mystically addressed 
as Father-Mother, for the worshipper craves that the 
godhead should be all in all to him. Thus motherhood 
is the natural function and interest of the goddess ; 
therefore the Babylonian supplicated his goddess as 
mother, even as mother of the gods, without thinking 
of any divine offspring or of any literal genealogy or 
theogony. Virginity is also beautiful, and a source 
of divine power and virtue. Therefore the mother Bau 
might rejoice to be addressed occasionally as maid. 
As for Ishtar, she was aboriginally, perhaps, a maid, 
in the sense that no god entered into her worship ; and 
this idea shaped the early spiritual conception of her. 
But as a great goddess she must show her power in the 
propagation of life ; therefore she must be recognised 
in prayer and supplication as a mother ; the adorer 
wishing to give her the virtue of both states, probably 
without dogmatising or feeling the contradiction. This 
explanation appears more likely, when we consider 
the psychologic temper of the Babylonian poetry, its 
often incoherent rapture, than the other obvious one 
that Ishtar the virgin happened in many places to 
appropriate to herself the cult of a mother-goddess, 
though this might easily happen. 

As regards the other polytheistic Semitic races, we 
can infer that the same religious ideas concerning ritual- 


purity were in vogue ; but our scanty records do not 
enable us to determine whether and how far they were 
quickened by spiritual significance. 1 But we can trace 
through Asia Minor the double concept of mother and 
virgin in the personality of the goddesses ; though it is 
difficult to decide whether they ever coincided, and with 
what degree of definiteness, in the same personage. 
Astarte must have been imagined generally as a mother- 
goddess, and she appears conspicuously as the female 
consort of Baal ; thus her Hellenic equivalent is often 
given as Aphrodite ; yet in another aspect of her worship 
she must have appeared as virginal, for she is also often 
identified with Artemis, just as a similar goddess Anath in 
Cyprus was identified with Athena. 2 The goddess Atar- 
gatis of Hierapolis, described by Lucian, was evidently 
a mother-goddess, bearing, according to him, a marked 
resemblance to Rhea, and placed in the temple by the 
side of her husband, Bel or Zeus. Among the Sabaean 
inscriptions of South Arabia, we find a dedication by 
some parents in behalf of their children to the goddess 
Umm- Attar, a name that signifies " Mother- Attar >J (or 
" Mother Astarte " 3 ) ; and a late record, too late to serve 
as witness for the early period we are considering, speaks 
of a virgin-mother among the Arabs. 4 Finally, the 
earliest Carthaginian inscriptions record the cult of the 
great goddess Tanit, addressed usually as the " Lady 
Tanit, the Face of Baal/' and called in one dedication 
" The Great Mother." 5 If she is the same as the divinity 
whom Augustine describes as the Virgo Caelestis, the 

1 Only a late Greek inscription from Berytos designates Baal as 
the pure God 0e ayty (Dittenberger, Orient. Graec. Inscr., 590) . 

2 Lagrange, Etttdes sur Us religions s&mitiques, p. 482. 

3 Vide Weber, Arabien vor dem Islam, p. 18. 

* Epiphanies, Panayium, 51 j cf. my Cults, ii. 629. 
5 C. I. Sem., i, i, 195. 


Heavenly Virgin, 1 then either the dual concept was 
mystically combined in the same personage, or the 
Carthaginian goddess was worshipped at different 
times and at different seasons as the mother and then as 
the maid. But the evidence is quite uncertain, and we 
must not combine too rashly the records of different ages. 
Looking at the non-Semitic races of Asia Minor, we 
have noted the monumental evidence among the Hittites 
for the worship of a mother-goddess, who with her son 
figures in the procession on the reliefs at Boghaz-Keui. 
It may be she who appears on a Hittite votive relief 
as a large seated female with a child on her knees, 2 a type 
which the Greeks would call %ovporpo<po$. Her name may 
have been Umma ; for this divine word is now given us 
among the names of Hittite divinities in cuneiform texts 
recently discovered, which have been published and 
interpreted by Professor Sayce in the Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society* He there connects the word with the 
Assyrian Umma = Mother, and regards this Hititte 
goddess as the ancestress both by name and nature of the 
Cappadocian goddess Ma, famous at Comana in the 
later period. Now the name Ma designates C( the mother/' 
and yet the Hellenes identified this goddess not only 
with the great mother Kybele, but freely with Artemis. 
I believe the external inducement to this latter assimila- 
tion was the isolation of Ma in her cult, into which no 
god entered. From this late evidence it is too hazardous 
to infer an early Hittite virgin-mother, especially as the 
processional relief at Boghaz-Keui seems to present us with 
a /gpo yupog, the solemn union of a god and a goddess. 
As regards the great goddess of the Asia-Minor coast, it 

1 De Civ. Dei, 2, 4 ; of. Reseller, Lexikon, i., s.v. " Caelestis." 
C.I.L., 8, 9796. 

2 Perrot et Chipiez, op. cit. t iv. fig. 280. 

3 Year 1909. 


has been somewhat hastily concluded that here and 
there her cult included the mystic idea of a virgin- 
mother. We have only some evidence from a late period, 
and in any case it would be a bold leap to argue back from 
it to the second millennium. But the evidence is weak. 
I have criticised it elsewhere, and I found it and still find 
it very frail. 1 I have not been able to detect any clear 
consciousness of the idea in the cult and cult-legends of 
Kybele : we must not build much on the Pessinuntian 
story that Arnobius gives us concerning her resistance 
to the love of Zeus, for certainly the general legend of 
Kybele and Attis is inconsistent with any dogma of 
the goddess's virginity, nor was she ever called Hctp0'tvo$ 
in cult. She was rather the mother-goddess, with whom 
the worshipper himself in a mystic ritual might be united 
in corporeal union. 2 

If we search the other parts of the Asia-Minor littoral, 
neither in the prehistoric nor in the later periods before 
Christianity is the concept we are seeking clearly to be 
traced. I cannot find the Leto-Artemis, the goddess 
who was at once essentially a virgin and a mother. 
What we discern in Crete is a great mother-goddess 
and a virgin, * Atpuict, or Britomartis, " the Sweet Maid." 
That the prehistoric or later Cretans mystically com- 

1 Vide Cults, iii pp. 305-306 ; Sir William Ramsay, in Amer. 
Journ. Arch., 1887, p. 348, expressed his belief in the prevalence of the 
cult of an Anatolian goddess in the later period, regarded as a virgin- 
mother and named Artemis-Leto j the fact is merely that the goddess 
Anaitis was usually identified with Artemis, but occasionally with 
Leto ; but we nowhere find Artemis explicitly identified with Leto, 
and the interpretation which he gives to the Messapian inscription 
(Artamihi Latho[i], vide Rhein. Mu$., 1887, p. 232, Deeke) appears to 
me unconvincing. 

2 The fact that a part of her temple at Kyzikos was called Hap9v6v 
does not indicate a virgin-goddess. M. Reinach is, in my opinion, 
right in explaining it as " the apartment of the maidens ** where the 
maiden priestesses assembled (Bull. Cory. Hell, 1908, p. 499). 


bined the two concepts in one personality we do not 
know. When we examine legends and ritual, usually 
dateless, of early Hellas, we are aware that a goddess 
who was worshipped as a Maid in one locality might 
be worshipped as a Mother in another; or the same 
goddess at different times of the year might be wor- 
shipped now under one aspect, now under another. 
Hera of Argos yearly renews her divinity by bathing in 
a certain stream. Kore, the young earth-goddess, was 
probably an early emanation from Demeter. How 
powerful in pre-Hellenic days was the appeal of the 
virginal aspect of certain goddesses, is shown by the 
antiquity and the tenacity of the dogma concerning 
the virginity of Artemis and Athena. Yet the latter 
was called M^r^p at Elis 1 . But it would be very rash 
to declare that here at last the Virgin-Mother is found 
in old Greece. Athena has no offspring ; there is 
neither loss nor miraculous preservation of her virginity. 
Only the Elean women, wishing themselves to be 
mothers, pray to the Virgin-goddess for offspring, and 
strengthen their prayer by applying a word to Athena 
of such powerful spell-efficacy as " Mother." It would 
be a misinterpretation of the method of ancient hieratic 
speech to suppose that Athena M^r^p was mystically 
imagined as herself both Virgin and Mother. 2 

The ritualistic value of purity was probably a postu- 
late of the religious feeling of early Hellas, though 
Homer gives us only faint glimpses of the idea. <&oifiog 
was an old cult-title of Apollo, and its root- 
significance may well have been " Pure/' We hear of 
Hagne, " the pure goddess/* probably a reverential 

1 Cults, vol. i., " Athena/' R. 66. 

2 A different view of the whole question might be presented if I 
was dealing here with the evidence gleaned from the period just before 


name for Kore at the Messenian Andania : x and on 
the hilltop above the Arcadian Pallantion, Pausanias 
records the cult of a nameless group of divinities called 
ot xctSapot 6sof* a cult which, according to his account 
of it, appears to have descended from very ancient 
times. The question of purity in Greek ritual may be 
reserved for a later stage in our comparative study. 
I will only remark here on the fact that Greek worship, 
early and late, was in marked antagonism in this respect 
to Greek mythology, the former being on the whole 
solemn and beautiful, the latter often singularly im- 
pure. In fact, both in the Phrygian and Hellenic 
popular imagination we detect an extraordinary vein 
of grossness, that seems to mark off these Aryan peoples 
sharply from the Mesopotamians, and equally, as far 
as we can see, from the other Semites. 

3 Cults, iii. p. 206. 2 8, 44, 5. 



WE may profitably compare the Eastern and Western 
peoples according to their respective conceptions of 
the divine power. Looking carefully at the Babylonian 
hymns and liturgies, we cannot say that the idea of 
divine omnipotence was ever an assured dogma, vividly 
present to the mind and clearly expressed. Any par- 
ticular hymn may so exalt the potency of the particular 
deity to whom it is addressed that, in the ecstasy of 
prayer and adoration, the worshipper may speak as if 
he believed him or her to be powerful over all things 
in heaven and earth. But this faith was temporary 
and illusive. The power of the deity in the popular 
creed, and indeed in the hieratic system, was bound up 
with his temple and altar. When Sanherib laid waste 
Babylon and the temples, the " gods must flee like 
birds up to heaven." In the Babylonian epic the deities 
themselves are greatly alarmed by the flood. In one 
of the hymns of lamentation, Ishtar laments her own 
overthrow in her ruined city, where she " is as a helpless 
stranger in her streets." I It is probable that the 
popular belief of Babylon agreed in this respect with 
that of all other nations of the same type of religion ; 
for the popular religious mind is incapable of fully 

1 Langdon, op. cit., pp. I, 7. 


realising or logically applying the idea of divine omni- 
potence. But this at least is clear in the Babylonian 
system, that the higher divinities acting as a group 
are stronger than any other alien principle in the 
Universe, from the period when Marduk, or originally, 
perhaps Ninib, won his victory over Tiamit. 1 The evil 
power embodied in the demons remains indeed active 
and strong, and much of the divine agency is devoted 
to combating them. And the demons are impressive 
beings, impersonating often the immoral principle, but 
they do not assume the grandeur of an Ahriman, or 
rise to his position as compeers of the high god. Thus 
the Babylonian theology escapes the duality of the 
Zarathustrian ; the god can always exorcise and over- 
power the demon if the demon-ridden man repents 
and returns to communion with his deity by penance 
and confession. 

Furthermore, the ancient documents reveal the 
Babylonian deities as the arbiters of destiny. Marduk 
is named by King Neriglassar " the Leader of 
Destiny " ; 2 and we have frequent allusions to the 
gods fixing the yearly fates at an annual meeting. 
Nebo the scribe is the writer and the keeper of the 
" Doomsbook " of Heaven, and this book is called 
"the tablets that cannot be altered, that determine 
the bounds (or cycle) of Heaven and Earth." 3 Fate 
is neither personified nor magnified into a transcendent 
cosmic force overpowering and shaping the will of the 

How the other religions of polytheistic Asia Minor 
dealt with these matters is not revealed ; and the 

1 Vide Langdon, op. cit., p. 225. 

2 Vide Roscher, Lexikon, ii p. 2348. 
a Vide Zimmern, K.A.T*, p. 401. 


comparison here, as in many other points, must be 
immediate between Mesopotamia and Hellas. Much 
that has just been said of the former may be affirmed 
of the latter in this respect. In Homer the pre-eminence, 
even the omnipotence, of Zeus is occasionally expressed 
as a dogma, .and we must believe that this deity had 
risen to this commanding position before the Homeric 
period, at least among the progressive tribes ; 1 and 
throughout the systematised theology of Greece his 
sovereignty was maintained more consistently than, 
owing to the shifting of the powers of the cities, was 
that of Marduk or Bel or Enlil in the Surnerian-Baby- 
lonian system. Probably the high idea of divine omni- 
potence was as vaguely and feebly realised by the 
average primitive Hellene as we have reason to suspect 
that it was by the average Babylonian. Also, as Hellas 
was far less centralised than Babylonia, the efficacy of 
the local or village god or goddess or daimon might often 
transcend the influence of Zeus. But at least we have 
no Hellenic evidence of so narrow a theory, as that 
the deity's power depended upon his temple or his 
image, or even upon his sacrifice. 

It has often been popularly and lightly maintained 
that the Hellenic deities were subordinate to a power 
called Fate. This is a shallow misjudgment, based on 
a misinterpretation of a few phrases in Homer ; we may 
be certain that the aboriginal Hellene was incapable of so 
gloomy an abstraction, which would sap the vitality of 
personal polytheism, and which only appears in strength 
in the latter periods of religious decay. Were it, indeed, 
a root-principle of Hellenic religion, it would strongly 
differentiate it from the Mesopotamian. 

1 Even the Pythian Apollo, in our earliest record of his oracle, is 
only the voice of " the counsels of God " (cf . Horn. Od., 8, 79). 


In thus comparing the two religions according to their 
respective conceptions of divine power, we note two strik- 
ing phenomena in the Eastern world. The Mesopo- 
tamian gods are magicians, and part of their work is 
worked by magic. Marduk and Ea, the wise deity of 
Eridu, serve as exercisers of demons in behalf of the 
other gods. 1 In a panegyric on the former, the strange 
phrase occurs, " the spittle of life is thine/' 2 which 
probably alludes to the well-known magical qualities 
of the saliva. Eridu, the home of Ea, was also the 
original home of Chaldean magic. When in the early 
cosmic struggle between the powers of light and dark- 
ness, Tiamat, the mother and queen of the latter, selects 
her champion Qingou as leader, she proclaims, " I have 
pronounced thy magic formula, in the assembly of the 
gods I have made thee great/' 3 In magic, great is the 
power of the spoken word, the \6yog ; and the Word, 
of which the efficacious force arose in the domain of 
magic, has been exalted, as we are well aware, by higher 
religion to a great cosmic divine agency, sometimes 
personified. It was so exalted in early Babylonian 
religion. The deity acts and controls the order of the 
world by the divine Word. Many of the Sumerian 
hymns lay stress on its quasi-personal virtue or " mana " ; 
and often on its terrible and destructive operation ; and 
in one, as we have seen, the goddess Nana is identified 
with the Word of Enlil. 4 In a great hymn to Sin, 5 the 
might of his Word is glorified in verses that recall the 
Psalmist's phrase : " The voice of the Lord is mighty 

1 Weber, Ddmonenbeschworung bei den Babyloniern und Assyrern, 


2 Roscher, Lexihon, ii. p. 2355, quoting Hymn iv. R. 29, i. 
8 Dhorme, Choix, etc., p. 25, 1. 39. 

4 E.g. Langdon, op. cit. 9 pp. 39-41 ; cf. p. xix. 

5 Zimmern, Babyl. Hymne u. Gebete, p. 8. 


in operation." The Word of Bel-Marduk is said to be 
stronger than any exorciser or diviner, and is the theme 
of a special hymn. 1 It is described in another as " a net 
of majesty that encompasseth heaven and earth." The 
Word of Marduk shakes the sea, 2 as the Hebrew poet 
declares that ee the voice of the Lord shaketh the cedar- 
trees/' " The spirit of the Word is Enlil ... the Word 
which stilleth the heavens above ... a prophet it 
hath not, a magician it hath not/' 3 that is, no prophet 
can fully interpret, no magician can control, the Word. 
A most potent word is the name of the divinity, and 
the partial apotheosis of the name itself is a strange 
religious phenomenon, which also originated in the 
domain of magic, and has played a momentous part in 
the Egyptian, Judaic, Christian, and other high religions. 4 
It appears also in Mesopotamian religion. In a hymn 
to Enlil we find the phrase : "at thy name, which 
created the world, the heavens were hushed of them- 
selves/' 5 In the Babylonian poem of creation the 
primal state of Chaos is thus described, " no god had yet 
been created, no name had yet been named, no destiny 
fixed/' 6 The gods name the fifty names of Ninib, and 
the name of fifty becomes sacred to him, so that even in 
the time of Gudea a temple was actually dedicated to 
Number Fifty. 7 

Now, in the respects just considered, the earliest 
aspect of Greek religion that is revealed to us presents 
a striking contrast. The relations between magic and 

1 Dhorme, Choix, etc., p. 343. 

- Reseller, Lexikon, ii p. 2367 (iv. R. 26, n. 4) . 

3 Langdon, op. cit., pp. 39, 99- 

4 Vide my essays in Evolution of Religion, pp. 184-192, 

5 Langdon, op. cit., p. 129. 

6 Dhorme, op. cit^ p. 5, 1. 7. 

7 Jeremias, Holle und Paradies, p. 12 ; Roscher, Lexikon, s.v. 
" Ninib/' iii. p. 368. 



religion are markedly different. 1 Magic had doubt- 
less the same hold on early Greece as it has on most 
societies at a certain stage of culture. We can conclude 
this from the glimpses of it revealed by Homer and some 
ancient myths, such as the story of Salmoneus, as well 
as by the evidence of its practice in later Greece, and 
as such phenomena are not of sudden growth we can 
safely believe that they were part of an ancient tradition 
always alive among the people. But while Babylonian 
magic proclaims itself loudly in the great religious liter- 
ature and highest temple ritual, Greek magic is barely 
mentioned in the older literature of Greece, plays no 
part at all in the hymns, and can only with difficulty 
be discovered as latent in the higher ritual. Again, Baby- 
lonian magic is essentially demoniac ; but we have no 
evidence suggesting that the pre-Homeric Greek was 
demon-ridden, or that demonology and exorcism were 
leading factors of his consciousness and practice : the 
earliest mythology does not suggest that he habitually 
imputed his physical or moral disorders to demons, nor 
does it convey any hint of the existence in the early 
society of that terrible functionary, the witch-finder, or 
of the institution of witch-trials. 

Had Greek religion and mythology been deeply im- 
pregnated with Babylonian influences we should find 
it difficult to account for this momentous difference. 

The same reflection is forced upon us when we observe 
that the Aoyog or Divine Word conceived as a cosmic 
power plays no part in the earliest Hellenic theology 
of which we have any cognisance (we are not here con- 
cerned with the later history of the concept) : nor can 
we find in the earliest Greek period the name of God 
exalted into the position of a divine creative force ; 

1 Vide infra, pp. 291-293. 


although, as I have shown elsewhere, the earliest Hellene, 
as the later, was fully sensitive to the magico-divine 
efficacy of names. 1 

We may also gather something for our present pur- 
pose from a comparison between the cosmogony or cosmic 
myths of East and West. Of these it is only the Baby- 
lonian and Hebraic that can claim a great antiquity 
of record. What is reported of Phoenician belief concern- 
ing these matters is of late authority, Eusebios quoting 
from Sanchuniathon or Philo Byblios, and this is too 
much permeated with later elements to be useful here. 
As regards the Hellenic theory of the origin of the world 
and of man, putting aside a few scattered hints in the 
Homeric poems, we have Hesiod for our first and in- 
sufficient witness. If we can detect Babylonian in- 
fluence in the Hesiodic system, we must not hastily 
conclude that this was already rife in the second mil- 
lennium : on the other hand, if Hesiod seems to have 
escaped it, it is far less likely that it was strong upon 
the proto-HeUenes. 

For early Babylonian cosmogony our main evidence 
is the epic poem of creation, preserved on tablets found 
in the library of King Assurbanipal, which elucidates, 
and in the main corroborates, the fragments of the story 
given by Berosos in the third century B.C. Our earliest 
record, then, is actually of the seventh century, but 
Assyriologists have given reasons for the view that the 
epic copied for Assurbanipal descends from a period as 
early as B.C. 2000 ; for part of it accords with an old 
Babylonian hymn that has been discovered. 2 The 
document is therefore ancient enough for the purposes 
of our comparison. It is well known through various 

1 Evolution of Religion, pp. 186, 187. 

2 Zimmern, K.A.T*, pp. 490, 491, 497. 


publications, and can be read conveniently in the de- 
tailed exposition of King in his handbook on Babylonian 
religion. 1 

When we consider carefully the more significant 
features in this cosmogony, we are struck with its almost 
total unlikeness to anything that we can discover or 
surmise in early Hellenic thought. It is true that the 
Babylonian theory starts with the dogma that the earliest 
cosmic fact was the element of water. Apsu and Tiamat 
are the first powers in an unordered universe, and these 
seem to be the personal forms of the upper and lower 
waters, the fresh and the salt. We find the parallel 
thought in Homer, who speaks of Okeanos as " the 
source of all things/ 1 2 including even the gods. But the 
value of such a parallelism is of the slightest, for the vague 
theory of a watery origin of created things appears widely 
diffused in the myths of remote peoples, for instance, 
North-American Indians, Aztecs, the Vedic Aryans, and 
there is a glimmer of it in the old Norse. 3 No conclusion, 
then, can be drawn from so slight a coincidence. If we 
know anything of the cosmogony of the pre-Homeric 
society we know it from Hesiod, for Homer himself 
shows no interest and makes no revelation on the 
subject. With certain reservations and after careful 
criticism we may be able to regard some parts of the 
Hesiodic statement as reflecting the thought of an age 
anterior to Homer's. Therefore it is of some present 
value to observe how little of characteristically Baby- 
lonian speculation appears in the Hesiodic Theogony or 

1 Pp. 52-100 ; cf. Pinches, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p, 30, 
etc. ; Zimmern, op. cit., 488-506. 

2 /., 14, 246, 302. 

3 E.g., vide- A. Lang, Myth Ritual and Religion, pp. 182, 198, 203 ; 
cf. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, pp. 13, 14 ; Goltaer, Handbuch der 
German. Mythologie, pp. 512-514. 


Works and Days. Both systems agree with each other, 
and it may be said with all theogonies and religious 
cosmogonies, in regarding the primeval creative forces as 
personal powers who work either by the method of sexual 
generation or through mechanical processes of creation : 
the first of these methods, which though mythical in 
form has more affinity with organic science, is pre- 
dominant over the other in the Hesiodic narra- 
tive. But the personal powers are different in the 
two systems. In the Babylonian the greatest of the 
primeval dynasts is TiSmat, the sea, the mother of the 
gods and also of all monsters : in the Hesiodic it is Gaia, 
the Earth-mother, who does not appear at all in the 
Eastern cosmogony, but who claimed this position in the 
Hellenic through her deep-seated influence in the ancient 
religion. We note also that the Babylonian Sea is 
decidedly evil, the aboriginal foe of the gods of light, a 
conception alien to ordinary Hellenic thought. Again, 
the Babylonian creation of an ordered cosmos is a result 
of the great struggle between Marduk and Tiarnat, the 
power of light and the sovereign of chaos : it is pre- 
ceded by hate and terror. In the Hellenic account the 
generation of the heavens, the mountains, the sea, and the 
early dynasty of Titan-powers is peaceful and is stimu- 
lated by the power of love, Eros, who has his obvious 
double in the Kama or principle of desire in a cosmo- 
gonic hymn of the Rig- Veda, but is not mentioned by 
the Babylonian poet. (Nor does it concern us for the 
moment that this Eros is in respect of mere literary 
tradition post-Homeric : we may surmise at least that 
he was a pre-Homeric power in Boeotia.) Again, when 
we come to the theomachy in Hesiod, as an event it has 
no cosmogonic value at all : it has the air merely of a 
dynastic struggle between elder and younger divinities, 


and the myth may really have arisen in part from the 
religious history of a shifting of cults corresponding to: a 
shifting of population : nor are the Titans more repre- 
sentative of evil or of a lower order of things than the 
Olympian deities ; and cosmic creation, so far as Hesiod 
treats of it at all, seems over before the struggle begins. 
On the other hand, after Marduk has destroyed Tiamat 
he constructs his cosmos out of her limbs, and then 
proceeds to assign their various stations to the great 
gods, his compeers. Thus the struggle of the god with 
the principle of disorder has a cosmic significance which 
is not expressed in the Titanomachy. The curious 
conception also that the universe was compacted out of 
the dismembered limbs of a divine personage, which 
reminds us of the Vedic story of the giant Purusa 1 and of 
the Norse legend of Ymir, is not clearly discoverable in 
Hellenic mythology : for the Hesiodic myth of the forms 
and growths that spring from the blood of the mutilated 
Ouranos is no real parallel. And there is another trait 
in the Babylonian theory of a world-conflict that dis- 
tinguishes it from the Hellenic myths of a Titanomachy 
or Gigantomachy ; it was sometimes regarded not as a 
single event, finished with once for all, but as a struggle 
liable to be repeated at certain periods, 2 On the other 
hand, Hesiod's narrative of the oppression of Gala's 
children by Ouranos and the outrage inflicted on him by 
Kronos has its parallels in Maori and savage legend, 3 
but none in Mesopotamian, so far as our knowledge goes 
at present. 

A different Babylonian mythological text from the 
library of Assurbanipal speaks of another battle waged 

1 Macdonell, op. cti., pp. 12, 13. 

2 Zimmern, JK.A.T.*, p. 497. 

3 Vide A. Lang, Myth Ritual and Religion, ii. pp. 29, 30. 


by Marduk against Labbu, a male monster imagined 
mainly as a huge snake ; and Marduk is described as 
descending to the conflict in clouds and lightning : a the 
legend has no obvious significance for cosmogony, for 
it places the event after the creation of the world and of 
men and cities. But it has this interest for us, that it may 
be the prototype for the legend of Zeus' struggle with 
Typhoeus, which is known to Homer, and which he places 
in the country of the Arimoi, regarded by many of the 
ancient interpreters, including Pindar, as Cilicia. 2 Now, 
the story of this conflict in Hesiod's theogony has no 
connections with the Titanomachy or the Giganto- 
machy, nor is it there linked by any device to any known 
Hellenic myth ; nor is it derived, like the legend of 
Apollo and Python, from genuine Hellenic cult-history. 
It has an alien air and character. Typhoeus is on the 
whole regarded as a monstrous dragon, but one of his 
voices is that of a lion, another that of a bull. The 
resemblance of this narrative to the Babylonian one just 
mentioned is striking, and becomes all the more salient 
when we compare certain Babylonian cylinders which 
picture Marduk in combat with a monster, sometimes of 
serpent form, sometimes with the body of a lion or a bull. 3 
The Typhoeus-legend belongs also essentially to the Asia- 
Minor shores, and if Cilicia was really the country whence 
it came to the knowledge of the Homeric Greeks, it is a 
significant fact that it was just this corner of the Asia- 
Minor coast that felt the arms of the earliest Assyrian 
conquerors in the fourteenth century B.C. ; and it is just 
such myths that travel fast and far. 

1 Zimmern, K.A.T. 3 , p. 498 ; cf. King, op. cit., pp. 84-86. 

2 Vide Strab., p. 626 ; others placed it in the volcanic region of 
Lydia (ib, t p. 579). 

Cf. King, op. cit., pp. 101, 102 (plate); and Zimmern, K.A.T*, 
pp. 502 503, n. 2. 


If the hypothesis of Assyrian origin is reasonable 
here, many will regard it as still more reasonable in 
regard to the Deukalion flood-story. Certain details 
in it remind us, no doubt, of the Babylonian flood- 
myth ; and as this latter was far diffused through Asia 
Minor, it was quite easy for it to wander across the 
Aegean and touch Hellas. But if it did, we have no 
indication that it reached the Hellenes in the early 
period with which we are here concerned, as Hesiod 
is our earliest authority for it. 

The last theme of high interest in the cosmogonic 
theory of ancient Babylonia is the creation of man. 
According to Berosos, this momentous act was attri- 
buted to Bel, who, after the victory over Chaos, com- 
manded one of the gods to cut off his head and to make 
men and animals out of earth mixed with his own blood, 
and this story is partly corroborated by an old cuneiform 
text that is derived from the beginning of the second 
millennium. 1 This interesting theory was not universally 
accepted, for another and independent text ascribes the 
creation of man to Marduk and a goddess called Aruru, 
simply as a mechanical act of power. 2 The idea im- 
plicit in the former account, of the blood-relationship 
of man to god, is of the greater potentiality for religious 
metaphysic, and a similar notion is found, developed 
into a high spiritual doctrine, in the later Orphic Zagreus- 
mystery. But there is no trace of it in genuine Hellenic 
thought or literature. We have no provedly early 
Greek version of the origin of man : only, in the Works 
and Days, we are told that the Immortals or Zeus made 
the men of the five ages, the third generation, out of 
ash-trees : it may be that the story of Prometheus 

1 Zimmern, K.A.T*, p. 497. 

2 King, op. cit., pp. 88-91 ; Zimmern, op. cit., p. 498 (b). 


forming them out of clay was known to Hesiod, as 
Lactantius Placidus attests ; l in any case we may 
judge it to be of great antiquity on account of its wide 
vogue in the later period, and its occurrence in other 
primitive folklore. But nothing like it has as yet been 
found in the lepog Xo<yo$ of Mesopotamia. 

Generally we may say that the Hesiodic cosmogony 
bears no significant resemblance to the Babylonian, 
and this negative fact makes against the theory of 
Mesopotamian influence upon pre-Homeric Hellas. 

As a divine cosmogony implies some organic theory 
of the Universe, so the polytheisms that attempted such 
speculations would be confronted also with the problem 
of finding some principle of order by which they might 
regulate the relations of the various divinities, one to 
the other. We find such attempts in Mesopotamian 
religion. Certain deities are affiliated to others, Marduk 
to Ea, Nebo to Marduk, though such divine relationships 
are less clear and less insisted on than in Hellenic theo- 
logy ; and the grouping of divinities shifts according 
to the political vicissitudes of the peoples and cities. 
We may discern a tendency at times to use the triad 
as a unifying principle, giving us such trinities as Ami, 
Bel, Ea, or Sin, Shamash, Adad ; 2 we have glimpses 
of a trinitarian cult in early Carthage, 3 and slight 
indications of it in the Minoan-Mycenaean pillar-ritual. 4 
But I cannot find anything to suggest that among 
the cultured or uncultured Semites it was ever in the 
ancient period a powerful and constructive idea, able 

1 Ad Ov. Metam., I, 34 (the authenticity of the Lactantius passage 
is doubted ; vide Bapp in Roscher's Lexikon, iii. p. 3044) . 

2 The first is specially Babylonian, the second in Esarhaddon's 
inscriptions (vide Jastrow, op. cit., pp. 248, 249). 

3 "La Trinit6 Carthaginoise " in Gazette ArcheoL, 1879-1880. 

4 E\ans, in Hell. Jouvn., 1901, p. 140. 


to beget a living dogma that might capture the popular 
mind and spread and germinate in adjacent lands. 1 
We have perhaps as much right to regard the number 
seven as a grouping principle of Babylonian polytheism, 
in the later period at least, when we find a group of 
seven high deities corresponding to the seven planets. 2 
We might discover a Hittite trinity of Father, Mother, 
and Son if we concentrated our attention on the Boghaz- 
Keui reliefs; but the other Hittite evidence, both 
literary and monumental, gives no hint of this as a 
working idea in the religion. In fact, in most poly- 
theisms of the Mediterranean type it is easy to discover 
trinities and easy to deceive oneself about them. 

The human family reflected into the heavens 
naturally suggests the divine trio of Father, Mother, 
Child. And this may be found on the Asia-Minor shore 
and in Hellas. It would be more important if we could 
discover the worship of this triad in an indissoluble 
union from which the mystic idea of a triune godhead 
might arise. This is not discernible clearly in the older 
period on either side of the Aegean. The cult-complex 
of Zeus, Semele, and Dionysos does not belong to ancient 
Hellas and is rare at any period ; that of Hades Demeter 
Kore is occasionally found in cults of doubtful antiquity, 
but usually the mother and daughter were worshipped 
without the male deity. The Homeric triad so often 
invoked in adjurations of Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, 
which misled Mr. Gladstone, is due probably to the 
exigencies of hexameter verse, and is not guaranteed 
by genuine cult. No divine triad in Hellas can be 
proved to have descended from the earliest period of 

1 Vide, however, Zimmern, K.A.T*, p. 419, who tries to derive the 
Christian Trinity ultimately from Babylon. 

2 Vide Roscher, Lexikon, iii. p. 67, s.v. "Nebo." 


Greek religion, except probably that of the Charites at 
Orchomenos. 1 We have later evidence of a trinity 
of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, expressing the triad 
that Nature presents to us of sky, sea, and earth. 
But probably one of these figures is an emanation of 
Zeus himself ; the sky-god having become " chthonian " 
in a very early period. 2 We cannot say, then, that the 
earliest period of Hellenic religion shows a trinitarian 
tendency ; and if it were so, we could not impute it to 
early Mesopotamian influence, for the idea of a trinity 
does not appear in the Eastern religion with such force 
and strength as to be likely to travel far. 

As for the artificial group of the twelve Olympians, 
we should certainly have been tempted to connect this 
with Babylonian lore, the number twelve being of 
importance in astronomical numeration ; only that 
the divine group of twelve does not happen to occur 
in Babylonian religious records at all. Nor does the 
complex cult of the A#5g;ea foot appear to belong to 
the earliest period of Greek religion. 3 And so far 
I have been able to discern nothing that justifies the 
suggestion 4 that the principle of unification or divine 
grouping in early Mediterranean polytheism came 
from Babylon. 

A severely organised polytheism with one chief 
divinity, to whom all the others were in definite degrees 
subordinated, might evolve a monotheism. And in 
Babylonian literature we can mark certain tendencies 
making in this direction. One tablet contains an 
inscription proclaiming all the high gods to be forms 
of Marduk, Nergal the Marduk of war, Nebo the Marduk 

1 Vide Cults, v. p. 431. 

2 Vide op. cit., vol. iii. pp. 284-285. 

3 Vide op. cit. t vol. i. pp. 84, 85. 

4 Made by Weber in Arabien vor dem Islam, p. 19. 


of land, 1 That all the deities were mere forms or 
emanations of the Eternal might have been an esoteric 
doctrine of certain gifted minds,though itwas difficult thus 
to explain away and to de-individualise the powerful self- 
asserting personality of Ishtar, for an attractive goddess- 
cult is always a strong obstacle to pure monotheism. A 
particular king might wish at times to exalt the cult of 
a particular god into a monotheistic ideal ; the attempt 
was seriously made in Egypt and failed. It may have 
been seriously intended by King Rammannirari m. 
(B.C. 811-782), who introduced the cult of Nebo, always 
one of the most spiritual figures of the Pantheon, into 
Kelach ; 'hence comes a long inscription on two statues 
now in the British Museum, set up by a governor in 
honour of the king, which is valuable for its ethical 
import, and still more interesting for its monotheistic 
exhortation at the close : 2 "Oh man, yet to be born, 
believe in Nebo, and trust in no other gods but him." 
Here is the seed that might have been developed by 
a powerful prophet into pure monotheism. But the 
ecstatic Babylonian votary is always falling into con- 
tradiction, for in the earlier part of this hymn he has 
called Nebo, " The beloved of Bel, the Lord of Lords/' 
What, then, must the congregation think of Bel ? 

In Greek religion the germs of monotheistic thought 
were still weaker and still less likely to fructify. The 
earliest Hellenic tribes had already certain deities in 
common, and the leading stocks at least must have 
regarded Zeus as the supreme god. They must have 
also adopted many indigenous deities that they found 
powerful in their new homes, whose cult could not be 

1 Vide Pinches, op. cit., p. 118 ; Jastrow, op. cit., p. 203, n. i. 

2 Quoted by Jeremias in his article on " Nebo " in Roscher, Lexikon, 
iii p. 49. 


uprooted even if they wished to do so. We must there- 
fore imagine the pre-Homeric societies as maintaining 
a complex polytheism, with some principle of divine 
hierarchy struggling to assert itself. Homer, if it is 
ever true to speak of him as preaching, seems certainly 
the preacher of the supremacy of Zeus. How far this 
idea was accepted in the various localities of cult we 
have not sufficient material for deciding : much would 
depend on the degree to which the individuals were 
penetrated by the higher literature, which from Homer 
onwards proclaimed the same religious tenet. 1 We can 
at the same time be sure that in many localities the 
countryfolk would be more under the spell of some 
ancient deity of the place than of the sky-father of the 
Aryan Hellenes. And though his cult was high placed 
by the progressive races, and his personality powerfully 
pervading in the realm of nature and human society, 
so that the higher thinkers entered on a track of specu- 
lation that leads to monotheism, the masses did not 
and could not follow them, having, in fact, the contrary 
bias. The popular polytheism showed itself most 
tenacious of divine personalities ; and owing partly to 
the sacred power of divine names, the various titles of a 
single divinity tend occasionally to engender distinct 
divine entities. I have also already indicated that art 
contributed to the same effect through multiplying 
idols. So far, then, from displaying monotheistic potenti- 
alities, Greek polytheism, from the pre-Homeric period 
we may suspect, and certainly after the Homeric age, 
tended to become more polytheistic. 

1 It is interesting to note the cult of the supreme god under the 
title of M^y wros in the remote district and city of Boulis, which excited 
the attention of Pausanias. Yet the men of Boulis were no monotheists, 
for they had temples of Artemis and Dionysos (Paus., 10, 37, 3 ; cf. my 
article in Anthropological Essays presented to E.B. Tylor, I97 P- 92). 



A MORE interesting and fruitful ground of comparison 
is that which looks at the inward sentiment or psychic 
emotion of the different religions, at the personal 
emotional relation of the individual towards the god- 
head. As I observed before, a clear judgment on this 
question is only possible when the religious memorials 
of a people are numerous, varied, and personal, so 
that some of them at least may be regarded as the ex- 
pression of the individual spirit. Even if the priest or 
the ritual dictates the expression, the pious and frequent 
votary may come to feel genuinely what is dictated to 
him. Hence we can gather direct testimony concerning 
the ancient Babylonian as we can of the ancient Hebrew 
religious temper and emotion ; for though most of the 
Mesopotamian documents are concerned with the royal 
ceremonial, which does not usually reveal genuine 
personal feeling, yet in this case the royal inscriptions, 
whether religious narrative or liturgies or prayers, are 
unusually convincing as revelations of self. And be- 
sides these, we have many private hymns of penance 
and formulae of exorcism. 

On the other hand, the ancient Western world and 
even historic Greece is singularly barren of this kind 
of religious testimony. We know much about the 


State religion, but we have very few ritual formulae or 
public or private prayers. Our evidence is mainly the 
religious utterances of the higher poetry and literature 
and a few lyric hymns composed not for the solitary 
worshipper, but for common and tribal ritual-service. 
But we have also the mythology and the art and the 
general manifestations of the Hellenic spirit in other 
directions that enable us to conclude something concern- 
ing the religious psychology of the average man in the 
historic periods, and if we find this markedly different 
from that of the oriental, we shall find it hard to believe 
that the Babylonian spirit could have worked with any 
strong influence on the proto-Hellene. 

A sympathetic study of the Babylonian-Assyrian 
documents impresses us with certain salient traits of 
the Mesopotamian religious spirit, some of which are 
common to other members of the great Semitic race. 
In a certain sense the Babylonian might be described 
as " ein Gott-betrunkener Mensch " : as one possessed 
with the deepest consciousness of the ineffable greatness 
of God, of his own utter dependence, and at the same 
time of the close personal association between himself 
and the divinity. The ecstatic adoration we have 
marked in the liturgies is the result of a purely mental 
contemplation, will-power, and conviction, not of mystic 
initiation for Babylonia had no mysteries nor of 
orgiastic rites that could afford a physico-psychic 
stimulus. The individual seems to have regarded 
himself at times as the son, more often as the bond- 
slave, of his own tutelary divinity, who is angry when 
he sins and becomes favourable and a mediator in 
his behalf with other gods when he repents. In private 
letters of the time of Hammurabi we find the greeting, 
" May thy protecting god keep thy head well." A 


common formula occurs in the incantations : "I, whose 
god is so-and-so, whose goddess is so-and-so." 1 In 
the penance-liturgy the priest speaks thus of the 
suppliant sinner, " Thy slave who bears the weight of 
thy wrath is covered with dust, . . . commend him 
to the god who created him/' 2 With this we may 
compare certain phrases in a well-known penitential 
psalm, " Oh mighty Lady of the world, Queen of man- 
kind, . . . His god and goddess in sorrow with him, 
cry out unto thee. ... As a dove that moans I abound 
in sighings/' 3 Abject remorse, tears and sighing, 
casting-down of the countenance, are part of the ritual 
that turns away the anger of the deity : hence fear 
of God and humility are recognised religious virtues. 
Merodach-Baladin of Babylon, in Sargon's inscription, is 
described as a fool " who did not fear the name of the 
Lord of Lords," 4 , and the idea is shaped in a general 
ethical maxim in another inscription, " He who does not 
fear his god is cut down like a reed/' 5 "1 love the 
fear of God/' says Nebukadnezar in the record of his 
life. 6 

Such emotion and mental attitude is consonant 
with the Hebraic and with much of the modern religious 
temper ; but entirely out of harmony with all that 
we know of the Hellenic. The religious habit of the 
Hellene strikes us by comparison as sober, well-tempered, 
often genial, never ecstatically abject, but even we 
may say self-respecting. Tears for sin, lamentations 

1 Vide Langdon, Transactions of Congress of ReL, 1908, i. p. 254. 
3 Zimmern, Babylon. Hymn. u. Gebete> p. 27. 

3 Langdon, Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 269. 

4 Keilinschr. Bibl. (Schrader), vol. it pt. ii. p. 69. 

5 iv. R. 3, 5 ; quoted by Jeremias in Bab. Assyr. Votstell. vom 
Leben nach dem Tode. 

9 Keilinschr. Bibl., iii. 2, p. n. 


and sighs, the countenance bowed to the ground, the 
body cleaving to the pavement, these are not part of 
his ritual ; the wrath of God was felt as a communal 
more often than as an individual misfortune, and in 
any case was averted, not by emotional outpourings 
of the individual heart, but by ritual acts, solemn 
choruses, soothing sacrifice and songs, or by special 
piacular lustrations that wiped off the taint of sin. 
Tears are never mentioned, 1 except indirectly in the 
fictitious lamentations for some buried hero, annually 
and ceremoniously lamented, such as Achilles. Nor 
can we find in earlier Hellenic ethic the clear recogni- 
tion of fear and humility among the religious virtues, 2 
while both are paraded in the inscriptions of the later 
Babylonian kings, even in those that reveal a monstrous 
excess of pride. 3 The Hellenic god might punish 
the haughty and high-minded, he did not love the 
grovelling, but rather the man of moderate life, tone, 
and act. Such is God for the civic religion of the free 
man ; while the Babylonian liturgy reflects the despotic 
society. The Hellene, for instance, does not try to 
win for himself the favour of the divinity by calling 
himself his slave. And the common phrase found on 
the Greek Christian tombs, S Sovhog rov Qeov, has 
passed into Christianity from Semitic sources. 4 This 
single fact illustrates, perhaps better than any other, 

1 In Aesch. Agam., 1. 70, the words o$re 8aKpti<av are spurious, 
as I have argued in Class. Review, 1897, p. 293. 

2 We might perhaps infer their recognition from the occasional 
use of the word deLffLSalfiw in a partly good sense, e.g. Aristot. 
Pol., 5, n, 25; Xen. Ages., 11, 8; but its bad sense is more 
emphasised by Theophrastos in his " Characters." 

3 Nebukadnezar (of all people) calls himself more than once " the 
humble, the submissive," e.g. Keilinschr . BibL, iii. p. 63. 

4 We find the phrase dov\o$ it/ttrepos also in the Greek magic 
papyri, but these are charged with the Oriental spirit ; Kenyon, Greek 
Pap., i. p. 1 08, 11. 745-6. 


the different temper of the old Oriental and old European 
religions ; and there is a curious example of it in the 
bilingual Graeco-Phoenician inscription found in Malta, 
commemorating a dedication to Melkarth or to Herakles 
' Ap^yer^ : the Phoenicians recommend themselves 
to the god as "thy slaves/' the Greeks use neither 
this nor any other title of subservient flattery. In 
this connection it is well to note the significance of 
marking the body of the worshipper by branding, 
cutting, or tattooing with some sign that consecrated 
him as slave or familiar follower to the divinity. The 
practice, which may have been of great antiquity, 
though the evidence is not earlier than the sixth century 
B.C., was in vogue in Syria, Phrygia, and in early Israel, 
and was adopted by some Christian enthusiasts, but no 
proof of it has yet been adduced from Mesopotamia. 
It was essentially un-Hellenic ; but was apparently 
followed by some of the Dionysiac thiasoi as a Thracian 
tradition. 2 

In fact, it is only in the latest periods that we find 
in Hellas an individual personal religion approaching 
the Babylonian in intensity. The older cult was com- 
munal and tribal rather than personal; even the 
household gods, such as Zeus Krfotos and 'Epz&los, the 
gods of the closet and storehouse, the hearth-goddess, 
were shared by the householder in common with the 
nearest circle of kindred. These cults were partly 
utilitarian, and the moral emotion that they quickened 
was the emotion of kinship : they do not appear to 
have inspired a high personal and emotional faith and 
trust. Nor usually had the average Hellene of the 

1 C. I. Sem. t i. No. 122. 

2 These facts are collected and exposed in a valuable article by 
Perdrizet in Archiv. fur Relig. Wissensch., 1911, pp. 54-129 ; cf. Revue 
des tudes anciennes, 1910, pp. 236-237 ; Hell Journ., 1888, pi. vi. 


earlier period the conception of a personal tutelary 
divinity who brought him to life, and watched over his 
course, preserving, rebuking, and interceding for him. 
The Babylonian fancy of the great king sitting in infancy 
on the lap of the goddess and drinking milk from her 
breasts would not commend itself to the religious sense 
in Greece. 

In Mesopotamia and in the other Semitic communities 
the fashion of naming a child after the high god or 
goddess was very common commoner I am inclined 
to think than in Hellas, though in the latter country 
such names as Demetrios, Apollo dor os, Zenon, Diogenes, 
point to the same religious impulse ; but they appear 
to have arisen only in the later period. The Hellenic 
language did not admit, and Hellenic thought would 
not have approved of, those mystic divine names, which 
express as in a sacred text some quality or action of 
the divinity, such as we find in the Bible ("the Lord will 
provide "), and in pre-Islamitic inscriptions of Arabia, 
Ili-kariba, "My God hath blessed"; Ili-azza, "My 
God is mighty " ; Hi-padaja, " My God hath redeemed/' 1 
Such names served as spells for the protection of the 
child, and are speaking illustrations of the close per- 
sonal dependence of the individual upon the god. 

This is also illustrated by another fashion, possibly 
ancient, of Semitic religious nomenclature : not only 
was the individual frequently named after the deity, 
but the deity might sometimes receive as a cult-title 
the name of the individual. Of this practice among 
the polytheistic Semites the only examples of which 
I am aware come from a late period and from the region 
of Palmyra : Greek inscriptions of the late Imperial 
era give such curious forms as &sog 'Avpov, &sog 

1 Vide O. Weber, Arabien vor dem Islam, p. 21, 


0soY 'Apzpov : I and these descriptive 
names in the genitive must designate the principal 
worshipper or founder of the cult ; they are mostly 
un-Greek, as the religious custom certainly is, which 
is illustrated by such ancient Biblical expressions as 
"the God of Abraham," "the God of Jacob/' We 
may find an example of the same point of view in the 
Phrygian title of MW Qupvcutov in Pontus, if we take 
the most probable explanation, namely, that it is 
derived from the Persian Pharnakes, the founder of 
the cult ; 2 and again in a Carian dedication to Zeus 
Panamaros 'Apyvpov, as "Apyvpog is found in the same 
neighbourhood as the name of a living man. 3 

The only parallel that Hellenic religion offers is the 
doubtful one, Athena A/am, whose temple is recorded 
at Megara : 4 it may be that the goddess took her 
title from the hero because his grave was once associated 
with the temple. In any case, it is not so striking that 
the mythic hero should stand in this intimate relation 
with the deity as that the living individual should. 

The ecstatic and self - prostrating adoration of 
divinity which is characteristic of the Babylonian 
temper might manifest itself at times in that excess 
of sentiment that we call sentimentality : we catch 
this tone now and again in the childlike entreaties with 
which the supplicator appeals to the deity as his father 
or mother; in the poetic pathos of the hymns to Tarn- 
muz, which sometimes remind us of the sentimentality 

1 Dittenberg, Orient. Graec. Inscr., 619 (=Lebas-Waddington, 
Inscr., iii. 2393) ; the reading here is Qebv Atf/^, probably a mistake for 
Afytov; cf. Lebas-Wadd., 2395 and 2455. 

2 Vide Roschei's Lexikon, ii. p. 2752. 

3 Vide ib., iii p. 1496. 

4 Cults, vol. L, "Athena," R. g6b (Pans., i, 42, 4) ; as regards "Apollo 
Sarpedonios >J we are uncertain whether the title was not merely 


of some of our modern hymns : he is called " Lord of 
the tender voice and shining eyes " ; " he of the dove- 
like voice/* 1 Such language may be called " hypo- 
koristic," to use a Greek phrase ; it belongs to the 
feminine sentiment in religion, and we are familiar 
with it in our own service. No echo of it is heard 
in the older Greek religious literature nor in any record 
of Greek liturgy. We can, indeed, scarcely pronounce 
on the question as to the tone to which primitive Greek 
wailing-services were attuned. We have only a few 
hints of some simple ancient ritual of sorrow : the 
pre-Homeric Greek may have bewailed Linos and 
Hyakinthos, as we hear that the Elean women in a 
later period bewailed Achilles ; but if, indeed, the frag- 
ment of a Linos-threnody that the Scholiast on Homer 
has preserved for us is really primitive, 2 it has some 
pathos, but much brightness and nothing of the Baby- 
lonian sentimentality. The spirit of the Greek religious 
lyric strikes us as always virile, and as likely to be 
unsympathetic with the violent and romantic expression 
of sorrow or with endearing ecstasy of appeal. 

The other trait that should be considered here in 
the religious spirit of the Mesopotamian Semites is 
fanaticism, an emotional quality which often affords 
a useful basis of comparison between various religions. 
This religious phenomenon is best known by its deadly 
results ; but in itself it is most difficult to define, as 
are other special moral terms that imply blame and are 
highly controversial. It is only found among those 
who feel their religion so deeply as to be relatively in- 
different to other functions of life. We impute fanati- 

1 Langdon, op. cit., pp. 309, 321 ; cl the lines in the hymn, p. 335 : 
" I am the child who upon the flood was cast out Damn, who on the 
flood was cast out, the anointed one who on the flood was cast out." 

2 Bergk's Lyr. Graec., iii p. 654. 


cism when the tension of religious feeling destroys the 
moral equilibrium or stunts development of other parts 
of our nature, or prompts to acts which, but for this 
morbid influence, would excite moral indignation. It 
may display itself in the artistic and intellectual sphere, 
as by iconoclasm or the suppression of arts and sciences ; 
or in the discipline of individual life, as by over-ascetic 
self-mortification. Its coarsest and most usual mani- 
festation is in war and the destruction of peoples of 
alien creed. A war or a slaughter is called fanatical, 
if its leading motive is the extermination of a rival 
religion, not for the sake of morality or civilisation, 
but as an act in itself acceptable to one's own jealous 
god. The ascetic type of fanaticism is specially a 
product of the Far East : the murderous type is peculiar 
to the Semitic spirit, when unchastened by a high 
ethical sympathy or a sensitive humanism; for the 
chief record of it is in the pages of the history of Israel, 
Islam, and Christianity, so far as this last religion has 
been in bondage to certain Semitic influence. It is a 
question of interest whether we find fanaticism of this 
type in the Mesopotamian area and in the ancient 
polytheistic communities of the Western Semites. We 
might expect to find it because of the intensity of the 
religious spirit that seems to have been a common 
inheritance of all these stocks. The more fervent the 
worship, the more is the likelihood that the dangerous 
idea of a " jealous " god will emerge, especially when 
races are living under the illusion of the " fallacy of 
names." By a fatal logic of devotion, the jealous god 
may be thought to favour or ordain the destruction of 
those who worship the deity under other names, which 
meant, for the old world, other gods. Only this must 
be carefully distinguished from the other more innocent 


idea, proper to all tribal religions, that the deity of 
the tribe, like a good citizen, will desire victory for his 
people's arms. 

As regards Mesopotamia, in his History of Ancient 
Religions Tiele finds in Assyrian history the same 
traces of murderous fanaticism as in Israelitish. 1 So 
far as I have been able as yet to collect the evidence, 
this statement appears to contain some exaggeration. 
For I have not found any record of a war that an 
Assyrian or Babylonian ruler undertakes at the command 
of a " jealous god " against a people whose only offence 
is an alien worship. The motives for a war appear 
to be of the ordinary human and secular kind ; Palestine, 
for instance, is attacked, not because Marduk or Asshur 
personally hates Jahwe, but because the country holds 
the key of the route to Egypt. Such Biblical narratives 
as the destruction of Jericho, Ai, and the Amalekites 
find no real parallel in Mesopotamian chronicles. Yet 
in these also the temper of homicidal religion is strong 
enough to be dangerous. Neither in the Babylonian 
nor in the Assyrian divinities is there any spirit of 
mercy to the conquered. On that early relief of 
Annabanini of the third millennium B.C., the goddess 
leads to the king the captives by a hook in their noses 
to work his will upon them. 2 And in the later records 
of the great Assyrian Empire, the deities appear pro- 
minently as motive forces, and the most cruel treatment 
of captives is regarded as acceptable to them. The 
worst example that Tiele quotes is the great inscription 
of Assurbanipal, who, after speaking of himself as "the 
Compassionate, the King who cherishes no grudge/' 3 
naively proceeds to narrate how he tore out the tongues 

1 Pp. 222-223. 2 Vide supra, p. 42. 

3 Keittnschr. BibL> ii. p. 191. 


of the rebels of Babylon, hewed their flesh into small 
pieces, and flung it to the dogs, swine, and vultures ; 
and " after I had performed these acts, I softened the 
hearts of the Great Gods, my Lords/' But the lines 
that follow suggest that what " softened their hearts " 
was not so much the tortures and massacres, which they 
might approve of without directly commanding, but the 
religious measures that Assurbanipal immediately under- 
took for the purification of Babylon, whose temples had 
been polluted with corpses. Again, Tiglath-Pileser in. 
speaks of himself as the Mighty One " who in the service 
of Asshur broke in pieces like a potter's vessel all those 
who were not submissive to the will of his god" ; x and 
a little later, Sargon recounts how " Merodach-Baladin, 
King of the Chaldaeans, . . . who did not fear the 
name of the Lord of Lords . . . broke the statues of 
the great gods and refused his present to me/ 7 2 Yet it 
would be a misunderstanding to speak of these, as Tiele 
does, as if they were wars of religion, like the Crusades 
or the war against the Albigenses. Asshur sends the 
king to the war invariably, but rather for the sake of the 
king's profit and glory than for the propagation of 
Asshur's religion ; for his enemies are very frequently 
of the same religion as himself. The above phrases 
must be understood probably in a political sense rather 
than a religious ; the god and the king are so intimately 
associated that whoever insults or injures one, insults 
or injures the other. We may suspect that Merodach- 
Baladin's breach of the divine statutes consisted in his 
omitting to send his usual tribute to Sargon. When 
two men had spoken scornfully of the gods of Assurbani- 
pal, both the king and the gods would wish to avenge 
the insult : 3 it was natural, therefore, for Assurbanipal 

1 Keil Bibl, ii. p. n. 2 Ib., p. 69. 3 J6., p. 257. 


to torture and flay them. In warring against an alien 
people, the king is warring against alien gods ; there- 
fore if he sacks the alien city he may capture and take 
away, or more rarely destroy, the city's gods. Thus 
Asarhaddon had taken away the idols of Hazailu, King 
of Arabia, and of Laili, King of ladi ; but when these 
kings had made submission and won his favour he 
returned to them the holy images, having first inscribed 
them with his own ideogram and a mark of the might 
of Asshur : l thus the gods, having the brandmark of the 
great king and the imperial deity, become tributary 
divinities. Or if he wished to wipe a people out, 
the Assyrian conqueror might break their idols to 
dust. Thus Assurbanipal broke in pieces the gods of 
the Elamites the most deadly foes of Babylon and 
thereby " eased the heart of the Lord of Lords." 2 But 
many of the Elamite deities he led away ; and of one 
of them he speaks in terms of reverence, Sasinak, the 
god of destiny, " who dwells in hidden places, whose 
working no one sees/' 3 It is more difficult to under- 
stand why Sanherib should boast to have destroyed 
the deities of Babylon after his capture of the city ; for 
the leading Babylonian divinities certainly belonged 
to the Assyrian Pantheon. 

The evidence here quoted justifies us in attributing 
fanaticism to the religious temper of Babylonia and 
Assyria ; not because the wars were evangelising, under- 
taken in the service of religion, but because the savage 
cruelty that accompanied them is deemed, as it is in 
the early Hebraic view, acceptable to the national 
gods. The idea of divine mercy is potent in the liturgies ; 
but neither morality nor religion would appear to have 
inculcated any mercy towards the alien foe ; and this lack 

1 Keil. BibL, ii. pp. 133-134. 2 Ib., pp. 203, 207. 3 16., p. 205. 


of moral sympathy may be termed a passive fanaticism. 
The same fanatic temper might be traced in the savagery 
of the punishments for offences against the State- 
religion, and was reflected also at times in the legal 
code. 1 

From other polytheistic Semitic communities we 
have no record, so far as I am aware, that bears on the 
phenomenon that we are considering, except the famous 
Moabite Stone, of which the style is in this respect 
strikingly Biblical. Mesha regards himself as sent by 
his god Chemosh to take Nebo from Israel, and he ex- 
plains why he slaughtered all within the walls, man, 
woman, and child, " for I had devoted it to Chemosh. JJ 
Fanaticism does not so naturally belong to polytheism 
as to monotheism ; yet it seems that at times the poly- 
theistic Semites could be as prone to this vice of the 
religious temper as the monotheistic Israelites. 

Speaking generally, and in comparison with the 
ancient Semitic and the mediaeval and even later spirit 
of Europe, we must pronounce the Hellenic tempera- 
ment of the earlier and classical period as wholly innocent 
of fanaticism. The history of Hellas is not stained by 
any "war of religion " ; and no religious hierarchy in 
Hellas ever possessed the power or displayed the will 
to suppress art or persecute science and thought. It 
might occasionally happen that individuals were in 
danger of punishment if they insulted or openly flouted 
the civic worship or introduced new deities ; but that 
the State should protect itself thus is not fanaticism. 
The least tolerant of cities was the enlightened Athens. 
But her record in this matter is a spotless page com- 

1 We note the indication of a cruel human sacrifice consecration 
of a child to a god or goddess by fire as a legal punishment for 
reopening adjudicated causes (Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, 
etc., p. 95). 


pared with the history of any later European State. 
Hellas owed this happy immunity to her cooler religious 
temper, to the equilibrium of the other life-forces within 
her, and to her comparative freedom from dark and 
cruel superstitious fears. 

It is specially in regard to such salient features of 
the religious temperament as we have been considering 
that the early Hellene asserted his spiritual independence 
of the East. 



RELIGIONS are often found to differ fundamentally in 
their conceptions of the fate of the departed spirit of 
man, and in the prominence and importance they assign 
to the posthumous life. There is, in fact, a group of 
religions which we might term " other-worldly/' because 
certain dogmas concerning the world after death are 
made the basis on which their aspirations and ideals of 
conduct are constructed ; to this group belong Christi- 
anity, Buddhism, Islam, and the old Egyptian creed. 
There are other religions, also of a highly developed 
type, in which eschatologic doctrine plays no forcible 
or constructive part either in the theology or in the 
ethics. Such were the Mesopotamian, primitive Juda- 
ism, and the early Hellenic. 

Our question concerning the evidences in the second 
millennium of Mesopotamian influences on the Western 
Aegean demands, then, at least a brief comparison of 
the Sumerian-Babylonian, and Hellenic eschatology. 
Our knowledge of the former is derived from certain 
epic poems, the Epic of Gilgamesh, " The Descent of 
Ishtar," and the poem dealing with the marriage of 
Nergal and Erishkigal, the Queen of the dead ; secondly, 
from a few inscriptions of various periods, alluding to 
burial or the status of the dead ; thirdly, and this is 
the most important source, from the recent excavations 


of certain " necropoleis/' 1 The Hellenic facts have been 
sufficiently set forth for the present purpose in a 
former series of lectures. 

In the picture of the lower world presented by the 
two literatures, a certain general agreement is discover- 
able, but none closer than they reveal with the con- 
ceptions of other peoples. Both accept as an un- 
doubted fact the continued existence of the soul after 
death, and both imagine this existence as shadowy, 
profitless, and gloomy. Both also vaguely locate the 
abode of the soul under the earth, with a downward 
entrance somewhere in the west. 2 In both we find the 
idea of a nether river to be crossed, or " the waters of 
death" ; 3 of a porter at the gates of "hell/* and of a 
god and goddess as rulers of the lower world ; while the 
mountain of the Babylonian underworld on which the 
gods were supposed to have been born was unknown to 
Hellenic mythology. 4 Such coincidences are no criterion 
of a common origin of belief ; for these traits recur in 
the death-lore of many and widely scattered races. 

As against them, we must take into account certain 
salient differences. The lot of the departed in the 
Babylonian epic account appears drearier even than 

1 Vide Dr. Langdon's paper on " Babylonian Eschatology;" in Essays 
in Modern Theology (papers offered to Professor Briggs, 1911), p. 139. 

2 Vide Jeremias, Hdlle und Paradies, p. 30; cf. King, Bab. ReL, 
p. 46 formula for laying a troubled and dangerous ghost " let him 
depart into the west ; to Nedu, the Chief Porter of the Underworld, I 
consign him." The west was suggested to the Hellene because of 
the natural associations of the setting sun ; to the Babylonian, perhaps, 
according to Jeremias, op. cit., p. 19, because the desert west of Babylon 
was associated with death and demons. 

3 The *' waters of death " figure in the Epic of Gilgamesh, e.g. 
King, op. cit., p. 169. 

4 Vide inscr. of Sargon n. in KeiL BibL, ii. 2, pp. 75-77, 79 : '* Ea, 
Sin, Shamash, Nabu, Ramman, Ninib, and their benign spouses, who 
were rightfully born on Iharsaggalkurkurra, the Mountain of the 


in the Homeric, just as the Babylonian religious poetry 
inclines to the more sombre tones and the more violent 
pathos. The dead inhabit " the house wherein he who 
enters is excluded from the light, the place where dust 
is their bread, and mud their food. They behold not 
the light, they dwell in darkness, and are clothed, like 
birds, in a garment of feathers ; and over door and bolt 
the dust is scattered/' * This is more hopeless than 
the Homeric meadow of Asphodel, where the souls 
still pursue the shadow of their former interests, and 
some tidings of the earth may penetrate to give them 
joy. Also, the demoniac terrors of the lower world are 
more vividly presented in Babylonian than in Hellenic 
literature and art. The demons of disease that perform 
the bidding of Allatu, the Queen of Hell, are closely 
connected with the ghost -world ; we learn from the 
formulae of exorcism that the haunting demon that 
destroyed a man's vital energies might be a wandering 
spectre. " O Shamash, a horrible spectre for many 
days hath fastened itself on my back, and will not 
loose its hold upon me. ... he sendeth forth pollu- 
tion, he maketh the hair of my head to stand up, he 
taketh the power from my body, he maketh my eyes to 
start out, he plagueth my back, he poisoneth my flesh, 
he plagueth my whole body . . . whether it be the 
spectre of my own family and kindred, or the spectre 
of one who was murdered, or whether it be the spectre 
of any other man that haunteth me." 2 

Now it is possible that the curse of the demon 
was powerful both in the earlier and later periods of 
ancient, as it is powerful to-day in modern, Greece ; 
the demon might be a ghost or a revenant. And it has 

1 Passage in "The Descent of Ishtar," Jeremias, op. cit., p. 20. 
* King, op. cit., pp. 45-46. 


been the ambition of a small group of scholars in this 
country to prove that the higher literature and art of 
Greece, that reveals so fair and sane an imagination of 
the unseen world, is only a thin veil drawn over much 
that was grotesque and ghastly in the popular super- 
stition. Even Homer reveals forms of terror in Hades ; 
and we have ugly tales of demons sucking blood, and 
ravaging the land like the TLotvyj of Megara, It is not 
necessary to labour this point. Probably every ancient 
race has been sorely tried at one time or other by the 
burden of demonology ; even our hardy ancient kinsmen 
of Iceland had their vampires and strangling ghosts, that 
figure occasionally in their saga. But the great peoples 
of our Western civilisation are those who have struggled 
free from this obsession into the light of progressive 
secular life. Such also we have the right to believe 
was the early Greek, To draw the distinction too 
sharply between the cultured and the unctiltured strata 
may be a source of fallacy, especially when it is ancient 
Hellas that we are dealing with, where the artist was 
usually a man of the people and the people certainly 
delighted in the work of their poets, and were strangely 
susceptible to the healing influences of music. If Greek 
poetry, then, and art strove to banish the ugliest forms 
of the demon-world, and thereby worked with purifying 
and tranquillising influence on the temperament, so 
much the better for the Greek peasant. It is probably 
wrong, therefore, to regard the average Hellene as a night- 
mare-ridden man. But we might dare to say this of the 
Babylonian ; and his imaginary terrors were fostered 
by his religious liturgical poetry, and to some extent 
bjr his art. For most of his hymns are formulae of 
exorcisms, incantations against demons and spectres. 
But such liturgy played relatively a very small part in 


Greek ritual ; and this is one of the strongest facts 
that can be brought to witness against the theory of 
early Babylonian influence. 

Yet both the Greek and the Babylonian feared the 
miasma of the dead. Ishtar's threats at the portal of 
Hell, a tremendous outburst of infernal poetry, is a 
strong witness to this feeling: "Thou warder, open 
thy door, open thy door that I may enter in. If 
thou openest not thy door that I may not enter, I 
will crash thy door into splinters, I will burst the 
bolt, I will splinter the threshold and tear up the wings 
of the door : I will lead forth the dead that they shall 
eat and drink : the dead shall keep company with the 
living/' What lends part of its force to this great 
passage is the dreadful thought that the living should be 
haunted by the multitude of the ghosts that would 
pollute the living person and the light of day, 

Shamash the sun-god is the natural enemy of ghosts, 
and is therefore appealed to in the incantation quoted 
just above to drive away the demon-spectres. He seems 
to stand here in the same relation of antipathy to the 
ghost-world as the " pure " Apollo stood for the Greek. 

The mode and the place of burial will often throw 
light on the feelings of the living in regard to the de- 
parted. The peoples of the Minoan-Mycenaean culture 
interred their dead, Homeric society cremated them, 
while the recent excavations have revealed that both 
systems were in vogue side by side throughout an 
indefinite period in Mesopotamia ; * and such being the 
facts, we cannot safely deduce from them any marked 
difference in spiritual beliefs. More illuminating is the 
fact that the pre-Homeric society in Greek lands appears 
generally to have buried its dead in or near their habita- 

1 Vide Langdon, op. cit. 


tions, as if they desired the companionship of the spirits, 
agreeing in this respect with the people of Gezer in 
Palestine. 1 In Mesopotamia, though in very ancient 
times the dead were sometimes buried in temples, the 
fashion generally prevailed of establishing a necropolis 
outside the city, as was the rule also in post-Homeric 
Greece. This difference alone suggests that the fear of 
the ghost was less powerful in pre-Homeric Greece than 
in Mesopotamia. 

It is clear, however, that the Babylonian, like the 
Hellene, desired at times to enter into communion with 
the departed family-ghost ; for in Mesopotamia, as in 
Hellas, we have clear trace of <c parent alia/' communion- 
meals to which the ancestral spirits were invited to feast 
with the family. In the Babylonian phrase this was 
called "breaking bread with" the dead: 2 the parallel 
facts in Hellas are familiar to students. 

Moreover, a certain general resemblance in the 
funeral ceremonies can be detected between the Eastern 
and Western peoples whom we are comparing. When 
we examine these, we discover that neither the Homeric 
nor the Babylonian epic-picture of the desolateness and 
futility of the life in Hades corresponded altogether 
with the popular faith as expressed in tomb-ritual. It 
is true to say of all races that burial customs and 
eschatological theory are never wholly harmonised by 
any coherent logic, and generally reveal discord between 
the dogma and the ritual. We can note this in ancient 
Hellas and among ourselves ; and the discovery of Baby- 
lonian graves reveals it in Mesopotamia. The things 
found in these, toys for children, cosmetics for girls, 3 

1 Cook, Religion of Ancient Palestine, p. 36. 

2 Vide Langdon, op. cit. 

3 Vide Prof. Margoliouth's article on "Ancestor- worship " in Hast- 
ings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. 



show that the ideas so powerfully expressed in "The 
Descent of Ishtar" about the barrenness and naked- 
ness of the land of the dead were either not universally 
admitted or not acted upon. 

Those who equip the dead with some of the things 
that were of use and delight to the living must believe 
that the departed soul preserves a certain energy and 
power of enjoyment, though a gloomy poet among them 
may enlarge impressively on the emptiness of death. 
The unknown Assyrian king who describes in an inscrip- 
tion the sumptuous burial that he gave his father may 
not have been of the same mind as the poet of the 
Ishtar-epic concerning the laws of the Queen of Hell : 

" Within the grave 
The secret place 
In kingly oil 
I gently laid him. 
The grave-stone 
Marketh his resting-place. 
With mighty bronze 
I sealed its [entrance], 
I protected it with an incantation. 
Vessels of gold and silver, 
Such as my father loved, 
All the furniture that befitteth the grave.. 
The due right of his sovereignty, 
I displayed before the Sun-God, 
And beside the father who begat me, 
I set them in the grave. 
Gifts unto the princes, 
Unto the spirits of the earth 
And unto the gods who inhabit the grave, 
I then presented/' 1 

What is the meaning of the act of exposing the gold 
and silver vessels to the sun-god Shamash before placing 
them on the grave ? Was it done to purify them by the 
aspect of the pure god and thus to fit them for the use 

1 King's translation in Babyl. Relig., pp. 48-49. Cf. Jeremias, Hotte 
u. Paradies, p. 12. 


of the glorified dead ? The evidence of the deification of 
kings has been collected above. But the ceremony in 
question is unique, as far as I am aware. 

No doubt in ordinary Semitic burials there was great 
variety in the grave-offerings : in the graves of Gezer in 
Palestine, weapons, jewels, ostrich-eggs, seals, scarabs, 
amulets, small figures in human or animal form have 
been found. 1 

In these practices the primitive Hellene and Semite 
were on the same level, nor is it likely that either was 
the pupil of the other. One important difference, 
important at least for our purpose, we can mark, 
which is connected with the difference between Hellenic 
and Oriental climate. The Hellenic ghost might take 
water among his offerings, and the neglected soul might 
be pitied for being avwSpo^ 2 ; he might also eat his 
porridge in the Anthesteria ; but he preferred wine, and 
the offerings of blood the atfAuxovpfa and especially 
the sacrifice of animals. And we may gather from the 
painting on the Phaistos sarcophagus that the blood- 
oblation to the dead was part of the pre-Hellenic ritual in 
Crete. The triple-libation, also, that Homer mentions, 
of wine, honey-mead, and water, and which the later 
Greeks retained, may be regarded as a Minoan tradition, 
for its great antiquity among the Aegean people is 
attested by the libation-table found by Sir Arthur Evans 
in the cave of Zeus on Mount Dickte. Here there is no 
trace of the teaching of the Babylonian priest : nor in 
the blood-offerings to the dead. For the Babylonian 
ghost, parched with thirst in the intolerable heat of 
Mesopotamia, craved not blood which, as far as I 
know, is never mentioned in the description of his funeral- 

1 Cook, The Religion of Ancient Palestine, p. 35. 

2 E.g. Eur. Tvoad., 1085, <n> pAv (pdL^evos clXcuVets a^airros, civvSpos. 


rites but beer in the earliest period, 1 and in the later 
specially water. It is water that was supposed to 
make the deceased comparatively happy : 

" On a couch he lieth 
And drinketh pure water, 
The man who was slain in battle. 
His father and his mother [support] his head, 
And his wife [kneeleth] at his side/' 2 

This is the lore that in the Epic of Gilgamesh is 
imparted to the hero by the ghost of his beloved Ea- 
bani, concerning the advantages of the man who gets 
due burial over him whose corpse is thrown out into 
the field, and whose soul wanders restlessly eating 
" the dregs of the vessel, the leavings of the feast, and 
that which is cast out upon the street." 

The spirit's need of water has been an ancient tra- 
dition of Semitic grave-tendance. It is expressed on 
one of the cylinders of Gudea; 3 and in the Curse of 
Hammurabi, which is a postscript to his code of laws, 
he swears that if a man breaks them " his spirit in the 
world below shall lack water/' 4 Clay-cylinders in the 
museums of Paris and Berlin, that doubtless come from 
Mesopotamian graves, contain inscriptions expressing 
a blessing on the man who respects the dead, " may his 
departed spirit in the world below drink clear water/' 5 
The old idea survives in the belief of modern Islam 
that the soul of the dead yearns for nothing so much 
as that the rains or dews of heaven should fall refresh- 
ingly on the grave. 

These simple differences in the oblations incline 

1 Langdon, op. cit. 

2 King, op. cit., p. 176. 

3 Ttmreau-Dangin, Les cylindres de Goud&a, p. 57 : Les heros morts 
. leur bouche aupres d'une fontaine il pla$a. 

4 Winckler, op. cit., p. 41. 
s Jeremias, op. cit., p. 15. 


us to suppose that the primitive grave-ritual of Greece 
was developed independently of Babylon. 

Again, in Greece this tendance of the spirits, in the 
case of the great ones of the community the king, the 
hero, or the priest was undoubtedly linked at an early 
period with apotheosis of the dead ; and actual hero-cults 
and actual cults of ancestors became, as we have seen, 
a salient phenomenon of Greek religion. 

But if this phenomenon is to be noted at all in the 
Babylonian, it certainly was not salient. We know 
that under certain circumstances the king might be 
worshipped in his lifetime and after, but we do not yet 
know that the departed head or ancestor of the family 
received actual cult ; where this is asserted by modern 
scholars, 1 it may be that they have not paid sufficient 
attention to the important difference that has been 
defined between the tendance and the worship of the 
dead. 2 This at all events, on the evidence already 
placed before us, may be said : in respect of the frequency 
and force of hero-worship, Mesopotamia stands at the 
opposite pole to Greece, and in testing the question of 
primitive religious influences of East on West this fact 
must be weighed in the scale. 

Evidence has been adduced pointing to an early 
Greek belief that the spirit of the departed ancestor 
might reincarnate itself in a descendant : a belief 
fairly common among savage peoples. I have not 
been able to find any indication of it in Baby- 
lonian records, nor am I aware of any trace of it 
among other Semitic peoples except, possibly, a late 

1 E.g. Peiser, Sketch of Babylonian Society, in the Smithsonian 
Institute, 1898, p. 586, speaks as if it was ancestor- worship that held 
the Babylonian family together. 

2 Vide my article on " Hero-worship " in Hibbert Journal, I99* 
p. 417. 


Phoenician inscription from the tomb of Eshmunazar, 
King of Sidon about B.C. 300 : in the curse which he 
invokes against the violator of his tomb he prays 
that such a man's posterity may be rooted out : " May 
they have no root in the world below, nor fruit above, 
nor any bloom in the life under the sun/' * These 
strange words contain the idea of a family-tree ; the 
fruit and the bloom are the living members who are 
in the light of the sun : the root are the ancestral spirits. 
If the figure is to be interpreted literally, we must 
regard these latter as the source of the life that is on 
the earth, and the curse would mean " may the de- 
parted ancestors no longer have the power to reappear 
in the living/' But we cannot feel sure how much 
sense we can press into the words. 

So far, it appears that there was little or no com- 
munion according to Babylonian belief between the 
dead and the living, except at the family sacramental 
meal held after the funeral. Only the vexed and 
neglected soul of the unburied or the unhallowed dead 
returned to disturb the living. And perhaps at times 
the Babylonians, as the Israelites, resorted to '"necro- 
mancy/* the evocation of the dead by spells, so as to 
question them concerning the future. One evidence 
of this is the passage in the Epic of Gilgamesh, where 
the hero is able to evoke the spectre of his friend Eabani 
and question it. This was probably suggested by an 
actual practice, which is attested by such priestly titles 
as " he -who leads up the dead/' " he who questions 
the dead/' 2 In ancient Greece we have the further 
evidence, which is lacking in the Babylonian record, 
of actual vs%vo[fiocyrtiK or shrines where the dead were 

1 V. Landau, Phonizische Insohr., p. 15. 

2 Jeremias, Holle . Paradies, p. 37. 


consulted, and some of these may have descended from 
the pre-Homeric period; for the evocation of ghosts 
seems to have been specially practised in Arcadia, where 
so much primitive lore survived. 

As regards the higher eschatology, it would seem 
that the Babylonian of the earlier period had not 
advanced even as far as the Homeric, possibly the 
pre-Homeric, Greek. For even in Homer's picture of 
Hades and the after-life 1 there already is found this 
important trait certain notorious sinners are punished, 
certain privileged persons like Menelaos may be wafted 
to blessedness; while in Hesiod the idea is outspoken 
that many of the righteous and distinguished men of 
the past enjoy a blessed lot hereafter. 2 Moreover, this 
important dogma of posthumous punishments and 
rewards is not confined to the world of mythic fancy in 
the Homeric epic, to personages such as Tantalos, Tityos, 
Menelaos : the average man in the Homeric period might 
not hope for happiness after death ; but if Homer is 
his spokesman he could fear special punishment, and 
the threat of it was already a moral force. 

There are two striking passages in the Iliad, of 
which the importance for our present question is often 
ignored : in iii. 278 there is reference to the two divinities 
whom, with Aristarchus, we must interpret as Hades and 
Persephone, who punish oath-breakers after death : 
in xix. 259 the same function of executing judgment in 
the nether world upon the souls of the perjured is as- 
cribed to the Erinyes : the context in both passages 

1 It would be idle for my purpose to distinguish between the so- 
called " Achaean " and " Pelasgian " elements in the Homeric N&cwa ; 
even if the latter ethnic term was of any present value for Greek 

2 Hesiod, "Epy. 110-170 (the men of the golden and the silver ages 
and the heroes) . 


suggests that the poet is giving voice to a common 
popular belief. 

And in regard to posthumous happiness, early 
Greece may have believed more than Homer reports. 
For who can determine how early this eschatologic 
hope came into the Eleusinian mysteries ? 

The " threats of hell and hopes of Paradise " were 
never wholly moralised even by later Greek thought ; 
but here are the germs discernible in the earliest stage 
of the religion from which a higher moral teaching 
and a new moral force might emanate. But those 
who have tried to discover similar ideas in the records 
of Babylonian eschatology have hitherto entirely failed. 
Certain phrases and certain mythic data may be, and 
have been, pressed to support the theory that Babylonian 
religion and ethics were not without some belief in 
judgment and resurrection ; 1 but it is overpressure, 
and the phrases may easily be misunderstood. No 
clear evidence points to Babylonian belief in posthumous 
judgment ; the title " god of judgment " attached 
to Nergal might have merely a political significance. 
Again, " awakener of the dead " is a fairly frequent 
epithet of many divinities ; but no context where it 
occurs suggests for it an eschatologic intention. 2 In 
the story of Adapa, much of which is recovered from 
the Tel-El-Amarna tablets, we find reference to the 
" Food of Life " and the " Water of Life," 3 that the 
God of Heaven might have given to Adapa and thereby 
made him immortal ; and in the story of Ishtar's 
descent, it is said that Allatu kept the waters of life in 

1 Vide Zimmern in K.A.T. 3 , pp. 636-639; Jeremias, Hdlle u. 
Paradies, p. 25 ; cf. his Die Babyl. Assyr. Vorstellungen rom. Leben 
nacTi dem Tode. 

2 Vide supra, p. 160. 

* Zimmern, op. cit, t p. 520 ; King, op. cit., p. iSB. 


hell wherewith. Ishtar was restored. But nowhere as 
yet has any hint been found that these waters of life 
were available for any mortal man, and even Adapa, 
the son of a god, missed getting them. In the myth- 
ology of Babylon only one mortal, Utnapishtim, the 
Babylonian Noah, passes without death to some happy 
land and becomes immortal ; after the deluge Bel spake 
thus : " Hitherto hath Utnapishtim been of. mankind, 
but now let Utnapishtim be like unto the gods, even us, 
and let Utnapishtim dwell afar off at the mouth of 
the river." x Again, as the kings might be considered 
divine in life, there was no difficulty in supposing that 
they joined the company of the gods after death, as 
was supposed in Egypt. The prayers offered to deities 
of the lower world by the Assyrian king on behalf of 
his father, in the tablet quoted above, may be thus 
explained ; the nether powers are entreated to offer no 
obstacles to his apotheosis. Other Semitic nations 
may have had the same belief concerning the future 
blessedness of the king ; at least an inscription of King 
Panammu of North Syria, vassal of Tiglath-Pileser in., 
points to this, for his successor is urged to pray that ' ' the 
soul of Panammu shall eat and drink with the good 
Adad." 2 

But no evidence has as yet been gathered that the 
ordinary Babylonian expected any such distinguished 
lot. Nor does it appear that prayers were ever offered 
for his soul, as they might be for the king's, and as they 
habitually were for the ordinary Athenian's in the 
Anthesteria. For the Babylonian, on the whole, the 
only distinction of lot between one person and another 
after death was between him whose ghost was well 

1 King, op. cit., p. 138. 

2 Lagrange, tude$ sur Us religions $mitiques t p. 493. 


cared for by surviving relatives and him who died an 
outcast and was neglected. And this was no moral 
distinction, nor one that was likely to engender the 
belief in a righteous judgment. The duty to the dead 
was a family duty merely ; nor can I find in the Meso- 
potamian records any indication of that tender regard 
of the alien dead which leads in Greece to a certain 
higher morality, and which informs Homer's pregnant 
phrase "it is not righteous to vaunt oneself over the 
slain." We find Assyrian kings revenging themselves by 
mutilation and exposure of their enemies' corpses ; l and 
Semitic ferocity and Hellenic wb&g are nowhere more 
vividly contrasted than in this matter. 

Finally, there appears a difference in character be- 
tween the Mesopotamian and the Hellenic deities who 
were concerned with the surveillance of the world below, 
In the religion of the Western people, the latter are as 
essentially concerned with life as with death; and Demeter, 
Kore-Persephone, Plouton, Zeus Xd6vto$, are benign 
divinities whose sombre character is only the reverse of 
the picture ; there is a chance of development for a 
more hopeful creed when the dead are committed to 
the care of the gentle earth-goddess : and It was through 
this double aspect of Demeter-Kore that the eschato- 
logic promise of the Greek mysteries was confirmed. 
But the Babylonian Queen of Hell, Allatu, is wholly 
repellent in character and aspect, nor do we find that 
she was worshipped at all ; the only indication of a softer 
vein in her is the passage in " The Descent of Ishtar," 
which describes the sorrow of Allatu for the sufferings 
brought upon men through the departure of the goddess 
of life and love. Nergal, who is probably an usurper of the 
older supremacy of Allatu, has indeed a celestial character 

1 Cf. Keil. BibL, ii. 109; Jeremias, Holle u. Paradies, pp. 13-14. 


as the tipper god of Kutha, but even in the upper world 
his nature was regarded as terrible and destructive. 
Only once or twice is the gentler Greek conception 
concerning the rulers of the lower world found in 
Babylonian literature. 1 Enmesharra a name that may 
be a synonym for Nergal 2 is hailed as " Lord of 
Earth, of the land from which none returns (Aralu), 
great Lord, without whom Ningirsu allows nothing to 
sprout in field and canal, no growth to bloom/' 3 
Tammuz himself also is once at least styled " the Lord 
of the lower world/' 4 And if Ningirsu is another name 
of the underworld-god, which is possible, it is significant 
that in an old Babylonian document the cultivator of 
the soil is called " the servant of Ningirsu/' 5 These 
isolated utterances, if they had penetrated the popular 
religious thought, might have engendered a softer and 
brighter sentiment concerning the world of death. But 
it is doubtful if they were potent enough to effect this. 6 
If the gentle Tammuz had displaced Allatu and Nergal 
as the Lord of death, Babylonian eschatology might 
have had a different career. But it does not appear 
that he ever did. Deeply beloved as he was 3 he never 
reached the position of a high god either in heaven or 
the lower world. 7 Nor did his resurrection from the 

1 Jastrow, op. cit., pp. 472-473. 

2 Ib. 9 p. 473- 

3 /&., p. 472. 

4 Zimmern in Sitzungsber. d. Kon. SdcJis. GeseH. Wiss. 1907* 
" Sumerisch-Babylonische Tanzlieder," p. 220. 

5 Vide Jeremias in his article on " Nergal " in Roscher's Lexikon* 
iii. p. 251. 

6 It is doubtful if any argument can be based on the name Ningzu, 
occasionally found as the name of the consort of Ereshkigal (Zimmern, 
K.A.T. 3 , p. 637) and said to mean " Lord of Healing/* in reference, 
probably, to the waters of life. 

7 Only in the story of Adapa he appears as one of the warders of 
the gates of heaven (Zimmern, K.A.T. 3 , p. 521). 


dead evoke any faith, as far as we see at present, that 
might comfort the individual concerning his own lot. 
The personality and the rites of Attis, " the Phrygian 
shepherd/' are closely akin to those of Tammuz, and may 
be partly of Babylonian origin : and from these were 
evolved a higher eschatologic theory that became a 
powerful religious force in later Paganism. On the 
other hand, in Babylonia the germs of higher religion 
in the Tammuz-ritual seem to have remained unquick- 
ened ; possibly because they were not fostered and 
developed by any mystic society. For it is perhaps 
the most salient and significant difference between 
Hellenic and Mesopotamian religions that in the latter 
we have no trace of mysteries at all, while in the former 
not only were they a most potent force in the popular 
religion, but were the chief agents for developing the 
eschatologic faith. 

This exposition of the Eastern and Western ideas 
concerning death and the ritual of the dead is merely 
a slight sketch of a great subject ; but may serve the 
present purpose, the testing the question of early 
religious contact. We have noted much general re- 
semblance, but only such as is found among various races 
of the world : on the other hand, certain striking differ- 
ences, both in detail and general conception, that argue 
strongly against the theory of contact or borrowing in 
the second millennium. Nor can we discover in the 
earliest Greek mythology a single Mesopotamian name 
or myth associated with the lower world, 1 

1 The story of Aphrodite descending into Hades to seek Adonis is 
much later than the period with which we are dealing. Nergal's 
descent to satisfy the wrath of Allatu and his subsequent marriage 
with her (Jeremias, Hdlle und Paradies, p. 22) is a story of entirely 
different motive to the Rape of Kore. 



A COMPARISON of the forms observed in these regions, 
both in regard to the minute details and to the general 
underlying ideas, ought to contribute independent 
evidence to the solution of our question. The trans- 
mission of precise rules of ritual from one people to 
another, implies an intercourse of some duration, and 
more or less regulated ; for while the name of a god 
or a single myth is volatile, and can be wafted down 
remote routes by an itinerant trader, or nomad, or hunter, 
the introduction of any organised ritual implies, as a 
rule, the presence of the missionary or the foreign priest. 
If, then, there is any evidence suggesting that Greece 
in its earliest period learnt its ritual from Babylon, 
the importance of this for the ethnic history of religion 
will be great indeed. Therefore it may seem that a 
detailed comparison of the Eastern and Western ritual 
is forced upon us at this point : but it would be pre- 
mature to expect at present any finality in the result, 
because the Mesopotamian documents have only been 
very incompletely examined and published by the lin- 
guistic experts. However, the material that they have 
presented to us reveals certain salient facts of immediate 
value for our present purpose that cannot be wholly 
illusory, however much we may have to modify our 
interpretation of them in the light of future discovery. 


As regards the Greek evidence, we are not without 
fairly ample testimony concerning the earliest period. 
The Homeric poems present us with the contemporary 
religious practices of at least a portion of the population 
whom we may conveniently call the Achaeans ; though 
we have no right to suppose that they give us a complete 
account even of those. Again, as ritual does not spring 
up in a day, and has a singular longevity, we may be sure 
that much of Homeric ritual is a tradition of the second 
millennium. Furthermore, we can supplement Homer 
by later testimony, of which the lateness of date is no 
argument against the primitiveness of the fashions that 
it may attest. 

The first superficial comparison of Mesopotamian 
and Aegean ceremonies exhibits a general similarity in 
the mechanism of religion ; an established priesthood, 
temples, images, altars, prayers, sacrifice, religious music, 
holy days, consultation of the gods by methods of 
divination, a certain ceremonious tendance of the dead, 
these are common features of East and West. But if we 
were comparing Hellenic with Egyptian or Vedic, or even 
Mexican and Peruvian religion, we should be able to 
point to the same general agreement in externals, and 
many of these institutions are found broadcast over the 
modern world of savage society. It will be more 
important for the present question, if when we examine 
the Babylonian, Anatolian, and Hellenic ritual more 
minutely we discern salient differences, especially if these 
are found in certain organic centres of the religious life 
such as was the sacrifice. And we must first try to 
determine whether the Hellas of the pre-Homeric days 
already possessed all those religious institutions roughly 
enumerated above. We can deal to some extent with 
both these problems together. 


The erection of temples is an important stage in the 
higher development of anthropomorphic religion. By 
the beginning of the second millennium B.C. this had 
become an immemorial tradition of Mesopotamia. But 
we are not sure at what period the other polytheistic 
Semites first evolved the architectural shrine, or how 
long they were content to use the natural cave as the 
house of a divinity, or a high place or " temenos " with 
altar or sacred pillar. The recent excavations at Gezer 
have revealed a glimpse into the religion of the prehistoric 
Semites of Canaan ; and one shrine that seems nothing 
more than a row of sacred monoliths, but also another 
that has more the appearance of an elaborate building 
of a sacred character. 1 Of still greater antiquity was the 
shrine that Professor Petrie has discovered at Serabit in 
the Sinaitic peninsula, an original cave-temple com- 
plicated with the addition of porticoes and chambers, 
which he believes to have been devoted to a double cult, 
the Egyptian and Semitic. 2 At all events, we may 
conclude that before 1000 B.C. most of the more cultured 
Semitic communities in Asia Minor had come to house 
their divinities in more or less elaborated shrines. 

As regards the other race that dominated the early 
period of Anatolian history, the Hittite, we have the 
priceless evidence of the Boghaz-Keui monuments : 
these reveal a complex temple hewn out of and into the 
rocky ravine with a (( Holy of Holies " and what appears 
to be a sleeping-chamber for the god. 3 In Phrygia, the 
artificial shrine may have been late in supplanting the 
natural cavern or hole in the rock that was once the 
sufficient home of the cult of the great goddess. 4 From 

1 Cook, The Religion of Ancient Palestine, p. 17. 

2 Researches in Sinai, p. 72, etc., 186 : he would carry back the 
foundation to the fourth millennium B.C. 

3 Vide Arch. Anzeig., 1909, p. 498. 4 Vide Cults, in. p. 299. 


the coast of Asia Minor we have no evidence concern- 
ing the site of any ancient temple that carries us back 
to the early period with which we are dealing. 1 But 
the Homeric poems alone are sufficient proof that the 
Greeks, for whom they were composed, were beginning 
to be familiar with some architectural type of the 
deity's habitation. Apollo Smintheus already has his 
shrine and professional priest. 2 We hear of the temple 
and priestess of Athena in Troy, 3 of her shrine at Athens, 
which she shared with Erechtheus, 4 and the stone- 
threshold of Apollo at Delphi, that guarded already 
many treasures within it. 5 And we also know from 
the excavations of the last few years that the Aryan 
invaders from the North, the proto-Hellenes, would 
find temples on some at least of the sites of the 
Minoan culture. Crete has preserved certain shrines 
of the second millennium; but except the temple- 
cave on Dikte all of them so far are found to 
be merely domestic chapels in the king's palace, 
as though the king were personally responsible for 
the religion of the community : and so at Mycenae, 
Tiryns, and Athens, the oldest temples have been 
found on the foundations of " Mycenaean " palaces. 6 
But the temples of Hera on the public hill of 
Argos and at Olympia are now dated near to 
800 B.C. 7 

We have, then, proof sufficient of temple-construc- 
tion in Greece and the Aegean islands before the period 
of Homer ; and if we must have recourse to the theory 
that the peoples of the Minoan-Mycenaean culture took 

1 Vide Hogarth's evidence for the date of the earliest Artemision, 
Excavations at Ephesus, p. 244. 

2 II, i 38. 3 16., vi. 269, 299-300. * Ib., ii. 550. 5 I&. ? ix. 405. 

6 Vide Stengel, Griechische Sacral- A Itertumer, p. 17. 

7 VideAthen. Mittbeil., 1911, pp. 27, 192. 


their cue in this important evolution from some foreign 
civilisation, we should look to Egypt rather than to 
Assyria, as nearer and more closely in touch with early 

We may mark here a difference between Eastern 
and Western thought in the religious conception of 
the temple. It was naturally regarded everywhere as 
sacrosanct, because permeated with the virtue of the 
divine presence; but Babylonia developed this idea 
with greater intensity of conviction than the Hellene, 
and actually deified the temple itself : the King Nabo- 
polassar (circ. 625 B.C.) prays to it in such words as 
these, <e Oh, temple, be gracious to the king thy restorer, 
and if Marduk enters thee in triumph, report my piety to 
him/* l Such exaggeration is not found in Greek religion. 2 

As regards the emblem of divinity, the cult-object 
set up in the shrine to attract and to mark the presence 
of the deity, the Mesopotamian religion had, as we 
have seen, already evolved the eikon or image at some 
period considerably earlier than the second millennium, 
and the statue of the god or goddess had become an 
important factor of early ritual : only the emblem of 
Asshur remained aniconic. 3 Of equally early vogue was 
the image, whether human or theriomorphic, in Egyptian 
cult. Again, the early Hittite monuments reveal it 
clearly, though aniconic fetiches appear also on the 
reliefs of Boghaz-Keui. But it is probable that the 
Western Semites, and the tribes of Arabia before 1200 B.C., 

1 Vide Jeremias in Roscher, Lexikon, ii. p. 2347, s.v. " Marduk." 

2 Something near to it would be found in the cult-phrase Zeite Naos 
of Dodona, which is a form commoner in the inscriptions than Zei>s 
Ndib?, if, with M. Reinach (Rev. ArcfaoL, 1905, p. 97), we regarded 
this as the original title and interpreted it as " Zeus-Temple." But 
the interpretation is hazardous. 

3 A disk on the top of a pole, vide Jastrow, Rel, Bab. Assyr., vol. i. 
p. 203. 



and many of them for centuries after, preferred the 
aniconic emblem, the " Ashera " or post, or heap of 
stones or pillar, to the iconic statue ; in fact, that temple 
idolatry in its developed forms as it presents itself in 
later Mediterranean history was alien to the old and 
genuine tradition of Semitic public worship. Iconic 
representations of divinities may indeed be found in 
Western Semitic regions, and some of these may be of 
great antiquity ; such as the silver statue that Thutmose 
in. (of the fifteenth century B.C.) carried off from 
Megiddo and the Lebanon, 1 or the "Astarte' '-plaques 
found on the site of Gezer. 

But in Semitic communities of the earlier period such 
objects belonged rather to the private religion, and the 
public service centred round the sacred pillar or stone, as 
was the case at Mecca both before and after Islam arose : 
the evidence for this has been carefully given and 
estimated by Robertson Smith and Sir Arthur Evans. 2 

The same statement holds of many of the non- 
Semitic peoples of Western Anatolia ; in Phrygia, for 
instance, the earliest emblem of Kybele was the rude 
pillar or cone-shaped stone, and this survived down 
to late times in the worship of the Anatolian goddess 
in some of the Greek cities on the Asiatic coast. 

The recent discoveries in the regions of the Minoan 
and Mycenaean culture reveal the same phenomenon : the 
cults in this area of the Aegean in the second millennium 
were in the main aniconic, the favourite emblem being 

1 Cook, op. cti., p. 28. 

2 Religion of the Samites, pp. 185-195 ; " Mycenaean. Tree and Pillar 
Cult," Hell. Jouyn., 1901. It is interesting to note that Baitylos, a 
name derived from the Semitic description of the sacred stone as the 
** House of God," is given as the name of a divine king in the cosmogony 
of Philo Byblius, Muller, Frag. Hist. Graec., Hi. p. 567 ; cf. the baitylos 
with human head found at Tegea inscribed Aids SropTriw (fifth century 
B.C.), " Zeus of the lightning" (Eph. Arch., 1906, p. 64), 


the pillar or tree-trunk, while in ancient Crete the axe 
and even the cross has been found. 1 Where the divinity 
appears in full human shape, as the snake-goddess in the 
chapel of the cross, the lion-guarded goddess or the 
god descending in the air above the pillar on the Minoan 
seals, these figures cannot, or need not, be interpreted 
as actual temple-idols. And students of the religion 
of classical Greece are familiar with the ample evidence 
of the aniconic tradition in the \f6oi apyof, and the 
cone-shaped pillars and stocks that served as divine 
emblems in the later temples of Greece. 2 

Now the ethnic question concerning pillar-cult has 
been critically discussed by Sir Arthur Evans in his 
treatise mentioned above ; and the conclusion at which 
he arrives, that the striking parallelisms in Semitic 
Anatolian and Aegean ritual monuments are not to be 
explained as the result of direct borrowing from one 
or the other group of peoples, but as the abiding influence 
of a very early Mediterranean tradition, commends itself 
as the most reasonable. It is legitimate to maintain 
that the earliest Hellenes took over much of this aniconic 
cult from the earlier Minoan and Mycenaean civilisation ; 
but we must not overlook the fact that they also possessed 
their own, as a tradition derived from Central Europe. 3 
The most futile hypothesis would be to assume that the 
early Greeks derived it from Babylon, where it is less 
in evidence than in any other Semitic community. 4 

1 Vide Evans, op. cit., and Annual of British School, 1908, 1909. 

2 Vide my Cults, i. pp. 13-18, 102 ; ii. pp. 520, 670 ; iv. pp. 4, 149, 

307 ; v. pp. 7, 240, 444- 

3 For the evidence of a pillar-cult of Apollo Agyieus and Karaeios 
coming from the north, vide Cults, vol. iv. pp. 307-308. 

4 The pillars known as " Kndurru," with emblems of the various 
divinities upon them, served merely as boundary-stones (vide Jastrow, 
op. cit. t i. p. 191 ; Hilprecht in Babylonian Expedition of University of 
Pennsylvania, vol. iv.). 


The iconic impulse whereby the tree-trunk and pillar 
were gradually supplanted by the fully human statue 
was beginning to work by the time that the Homeric 
poems received their present form ; for we have in the 
Iliad* an undoubted reference to a seated statue 
of Athena in her temple on the Akropolis of Troy. 
We see here the working of an instinct that was 
partly religious, partly, perhaps, aesthetic in its origin. 
If we are to connect it with foreign influences, 
Egypt is at least a more " proximate cause " than 

This comparison of the cult-objects set up in shrines 
or holy places must take into account the phallic emblem 
also. This was much in vogue in the worship of Hermes 
and Dionysos, and was not unknown even in the ritual 
of Artemis. 2 Herodotus maintains that it was adopted 
by the Hellenes from <f the Pelasgians," but, as I 
have tried to show elsewhere, 3 we cannot attach real 
value to his induction. It may have descended from an 
old tradition of European cult, and it was indigenous 
among other Aryan nations. As regards the Mediterran- 
ean races, we find traces of its use in the Samothracian 
mysteries and in the grave-cult of Phrygia ; while some 
of the records of the Sabazian mysteries suggest that 
a phallic character attached to them. The Minoan- 
Mycenaean culture has been regarded as innocent of 
this, since the phallic emblem does not appear among 
the monuments yet found ; and this opinion is somewhat 
corroborated by its absence in the ritual of Aphrodite, 
who may be regarded as a direct descendant of the 
great Cretan goddess ; for only a late and somewhat 
doubtful text attests the dedication of phalloi to the 

1 6, 269. 2 Cults, ii 445. 

* Op. cit. t vol. v. p. 8. 


Cyprian Aphrodite. 1 But the evidence from the 
Phrygian religion, that has many ethnic affinities with 
Crete, and from such ritual-stories as that of Pasiphae, 
ought to make us hesitate. 

In Semitic ritual the emblem was certainly not com- 
monly in public use, even if it occurred at all ; the evi- 
dence for it, at present forthcoming, is at least very 
doubtful ; two of the pillars found at Gezer have been 
supposed to possess phallic attributes ; 2 but Robertson 
Smith has well protested against the foolish tendency 
to interpret sacred pillars generally as phalloi, 3 and even 
regards Lucian's assertion of the phallic significance 
of the two sacred pillars, each three hundred feet in 
height, that flanked the propylaea of the temple at 
Hierapolis, 4 as a mistake suggested to him by the 
later Hellenic misinterpretation. Other statements of 
Lucian in that treatise may cause us to believe that a 
phallic character attached to some part of the ritual 
of the Syrian goddess ; but, if it did, we could not safely 
regard it as originally Semitic, since so many ethnic 
strains are mingled in that complex religion. 

It is doubtful whether we can recognise the emblem 
anywhere in the religious monuments of the Hittites, 
though Perrot would give this interpretation to one of 
the cult-objects carved on the relief of Boghaz-Keui. 5 

Finally, its vogue in Babylonia seems to have been 
confined to private superstition ; from the second 
millennium onwards it was employed as an amulet, 

1 Arnob. Adv. Gent., 5, 19 (in the mysteries of the Cyprian Venus), 
" referunt phallos propitii numinis signa donates." 

2 Cook, Religion of Ancient Palestine, p. 28 ; cf. Corp. Inscr. Sem., 
i. IT. 6, inscription found in cave, dedicated perhaps by the hierodulai, 
" pudenda muliebria " carved on the wall. 

3 Rel of Sem., pp. 437-438. 

4 De Dea Syria, c. 16 and c. 28. 

a Histoire de I' Art, iv. pi. viii, D. 


and one of the royal chronicles, about mo B.C., is in- 
scribed on a tablet that represents a phallos ; but we 
cannot argue from this or any other evidence yet adduced, 
so far as I am aware, that the emblem was used in public 

So far as we can discern at present, then, the Baby- 
lonian and Hellenic phenomena are divergent in respect 
of pillar-cult and phallic ritual. 1 

The most interesting part of our present inquiry 
is the comparison of the ceremonies and the concept 
of sacrifice in East and West. At the first glance we 
note, as usual, a certain general similarity. In the 
earliest period we find various animals, both wild and 
domestic, offered upon the altars, but in Babylonia no 
special rules concerning their sex, such as were pre- 
scribed by ancient Greek and Judaic ritual. In all these 
countries, again, bloodless offerings of cereals and fruits 
were in common vogue ; and in the earliest Babylonian 
period, these were of great variety, an inscription of 
Gudea mentioning butter, honey, wine, corn with milk, 
figs, dates, as the food of the gods, " untouched by 
fire/' 2 We note here the distinction familiar in Greek 
ritual, between g/^srypa and oforypa kpu ; only in Baby- 
lonia it does not seem to have been of religious 
importance, nor to have been developed, as it was in 
Hellas, into a ceremonial law that might engender an 
important variation in the moral ideas and religious 
concepts of the worshipper ; for instance, the altar of 

1 Jeremias, in his articles on " Izdubar " and " Nebo " in Roscher's 
Lexikon, ii. p. 792 and iii. p. 65, concludes that a phallic emblem 
was employed in the ritual of Ishtar ; but he bases his view on the 
translation of the word ibattu in the Gilgamesh Epic, which is differently 
rendered by King, Baby Ionian Religion, p. 163, and Zimmern, K.A.T. 9 , 
P* 572- 

3 Thureau-Dangin, Les Cylindres de Goudea, p. 69. 


Apollo at Delos was called zadupog, " the pure altar/' 
because no blood could be shed upon it, the sacrifices 
of Athena Lindia at Rhodes, and of Zeus in certain 
mystic rites of Crete, were aVupa, or " fireless," which 
was the technical name for the oblations of fruits and 
cereals ; and this fact of ritual suggested to later Greek 
philosophy the ethical-religious view that the "pure," 
that is to say, bloodless, offering was the more acceptable 
oblation, and was a tradition of the age of man's inno- 
cence. This pregnant idea has not yet been discovered in 
Mesopotamian or in any other old Semitic religion ; the 
Babylonian deities received both kinds, and perhaps 
simultaneously, though in certain special ceremonies 
the sacred cake, or the liquid offerings of milk, honey, 
wine, and oil, might suffice ; x while, according to the 
ancient Hebraic view, as the legend of Cain and Abel 
indicates, the deity appears to prefer blood-sacrifice, 
though each species is recognised in the pre-exilic sacral 
literature. 2 

There is another distinction observed in Greek 
ritual, that becomes of some importance in the later 
history of ascetic purity, that between wineless offerings 
(vqpakta) and those accompanied with wine : the 
former being preferred by the powers of the lower world, 3 
though not invariably, and certainly not by the departed 
hero. However this distinction arose and no single 
hypothesis explains all the cases it was not a Semitic 
tradition, taught in early days to Hellas. For the 

1 This may explain the double phrase, used concerning the institu- 
tion and endowment of temple-rites in an inscription of the time of 
Tiglath-Pileserm., which Zimmern translates by " Opfer-Mahlzeiten," 
KeiL BibL, iv. p. 103 ; cf. especially K.B. 9 in. p. 179 (inscr. of ninth 
century) ; Zimmern, Beitrdge ZUY Kenntniss dev BabyL Relig., ii p. 99 
(sacred loaves offered before consultation of divinity) . 

2 Vide Robertson Smith, op. cti. 9 p. 200. 

3 Vide Cults, i. p. 88 ; v. p. 199. 


Semitic divinities, including Jahwe, have a genial liking 
for wine " which cheereth God and man " ; l nor have 
we any Semitic example of a taboo on it, except 
possibly a late Nabataean inscription froni the neigh- 
bourhood of Palmyra, mentioning tc the god who drinks 
no wine/' 2 Such a phrase would certainly not apply to 
the deities of Babylon ; even the sun-god, who in 
Hellas appears to have been a total abstainer, is offered 
wine in the Babylonian service, 3 and, according to 
one verse in the Epic of Creation, the deities actually 
get drunk, 4 a grossness which, in the mythic imagina- 
tion of Hellas, is only imagined as possible for 

We have the right to say, then, that the avoidance 
of wine in certain religious services of Hellas helps to 
confirm the impression of its early independence of 
Semitic influences. The Hellenic rule may, in certain 
cases, have been derived from an older Aegean tradi- 
tion ; for two of the deities to whom it was applied, 
Helios and Aphrodite, may be believed to have been 
bequeathed to Greece by the Minoan-Mycenaean re- 
ligion; and wine appears to have been prohibited in 
certain ceremonies of the Phrygian goddess, 6 and of a 
goddess of Caria. 6 

These are differences of some importance, and doubt- 
less of great antiquity between the ritual of East and 
West ; more insignificant, yet of considerable value for 

1 Judges ix. 13 ; cf. Robertson Smith, op, cit., p. 203. 

2 Lagranges, Etudes SUY Us religions semitiques, p. 506. This seems 
to agree with the statement in Diodorus (19, 94) that the Nabataeans 
tabooed wine ; yet Dusares, the Arabian counterpart of Dionysos, 
was a Nabataean god. 

8 Gray, Shamash Religious Texts, p. 21. 
4 Dhorme, Choix, etc., p. 41, 1. 136. 
6 Vide Cults, iii p. 390, R, 57^. 
8 Ib. } ii. p. 646, 


our present question, is the fact that incense was a 
regular accompaniment of the Babylonian sacrifice, 
but did not come into religious use in Greece till some 
time after the period of Homer. The fact itself we may 
consider as proved, both by Homer's silence about it, 
and by the Homeric use of the word 6vog, which means 
" victim/* and never " incense/' as in later Greek it 
came to mean. Had the influence of the Mesopotamian 
culture been as strong on Greece in the second mil- 
lennium as it came to be from 800 B.C. onwards, we 
should certainly have expected that the religious use 
of incense, which is very attractive and spreads easily 
from one race to another, would have been adopted 
by Greek ritual before the time of Homer. 

A more essential point is the sharp contrast pre- 
served in the Greek rites between the Olympian and 
the Chthonian ritual ; a contrast that demanded a 
difference of terminology and dictated different sacral 
laws concerning time, manner, place of sacrifice, and 
choice of victim. So far, I have not been able to dis- 
cover any hint of this important bifurcation of ritual 
in any Mesopotamian record. The only nether-world 
power who was worshipped at all was Nergal, whether 
under this or other names ; and it does not appear 
that his worship differed in any essential respect from 
that of any other high god. In fact, the dualism between 
powers of the tipper and powers of the lower world, 
which has been generally remarked, and sometimes ex- 
aggerated in Hellenic polytheism, only appears slightly 
in the Babylonian, and seems to have left no impress 
on the divine service at all. 

As regards the animals of sacrifice, the only striking 
divergence that Hellenic and Semitic custom presents 
is in respect of the swine. The sanctity or horror with 


which this animal was regarded by most Semitic 
societies l is not reflected in any record of early Greek 
feeling. Being the Hellene's common food, he offered 
it freely to the deity, though in local cults there might 
occasionally be a taboo on this as elsewhere on other 
victims, such as sheep or goat. But it is possible that 
some of the predecessors of the Hellene in Crete and 
Asia Minor, if not in Greece itself, shared the Semitic 
sentiment in regard to the pig ; and the reverence paid 
to it in Crete, and especially at Praisos in later times, 2 
may have been a legacy of Minoan religion; also the 
Carian worship of Hemithea in which swine were tabooed 
may have had ancient links with Crete. 3 But the facts 
of swine-sacrifice or swine-reverence, though they serve 
to distinguish the Hellenic from the ordinary Semitic 
community, do not bear directly on our present problem, 
the proofs of early Mesopotamian influence on the 
proto-Hellenic race. For the usual Semitic taboo has 
not yet been found in Mesopotamia. The pig is men- 
tioned in a religious text as one of the animals that 
might be offered to the gods as a vicarious piacular 
sacrifice, nor is there any hint that the animal is being 
offered as an unclean animal. 4 Certainly, other animals 
are mentioned much more frequently as victims ; and 
I am not aware of any other text that mentions swine- 
sacrifice. It was associated in some way with the god 
Ninib, one of whose appellatives means " swine " ; 5 but no 
evidence is yet forthcoming that it was offered to him. 

1 Robertson Smith, op. cit., pp. 272-273. 

2 Athenae. 3760 (Cults, i p. 141). 

3 Cults, ii. pp. 646-647. 

* O. Weber, Damoneribeschwomng, p. 29 ; his note on the passage 
" that the unclean beast is offered as a substitute for an unclean man " 
is not supported by any evidence. 

5 Zimmern, K.A.TP, pp. 409-410. 


A question now arises of greater moment both for 
our present purpose and for the wider interests of Com- 
parative Religion. Was the purport and significance of 
the sacrificial act the same in the Western society as that 
which is revealed in the sacred literature of Babylonia ? 
No part of the ancient religious system has been the 
theme of so much study and speculation in recent years 
as the ancient sacrifice. Robertson Smith in his epoch- 
making book, The Religion of the Semites, was the 
pioneer of a new theory ; which has since been developed 
or modified by certain English and a few Continental 
scholars following on his track. The result of these 
labours has been to formulate and define various forms 
of sacrifice that prevailed in the Mediterranean area. 
Three main types appear to emerge : (a) the gift sacrifice, 
where an oblation is given over entirely to the deity, 
whether generally to win his favour, or in special circum- 
stances for instance, after sin has been committed to 
appease his wrath, or as a thank-offering for favour re- 
ceived ; (6) the communion sacrifice, where the community 
or the individual eat with the deity, strengthening their 
feeling of fellowship by a common meal ; (c) the sacra- 
mental type, where the community or the individual 
may be said to " eat the god/' that is, to partake of 
food or drink made sacred by the infusion of the divine 
spirit or personality, which is thus communicated to 
the partaker. It is best for the present to regard these 
three as separate and independent, without trying to 
determine which is prior and which posterior. 1 

The first type, which is almost ubiquitous in the 
human societies that have arrived at the belief in personal 

1 Robertson Smith's theory that the gift-sacrifice was a later 
degeneracy from the communion-type is unconvincing ; vide specially 
an article by Ada Thomson, " Der Trug von Prometheus," Arch. Relig, 
Wissensch., 1909, p. 460. 


deities, is sufficiently attested by Homer of the early 
Greeks, who promise and perform the sacrifice partly 
as an offering to please or to appease the deity. What 
is more important is the evidence, which I have dealt 
with elsewhere, 1 that Homeric society was familiar also 
with the more genial conception of the sacrifice as a 
communion-meal where the worshipper and the deity 
meet around the altar ; this emerges clearly in the 
accounts that Homer has given us of an Achaean sacri- 
ficial feast. 2 Even the germs are already visible of the 
idea from which the third or more mystic type of sacri- 
fice, what I have called the sacramental type, might be 
evolved ; for special significance attaches to the acts de- 
scribed in the phrases ovXo%vra$ wpofiuXovro and ra-Xay^* 
Ivuffuvro, "they threw forward the barley-shreddings " 
and " they tasted the entrails " : the first phrase is 
not wholly clear, but it may signify that stalks of barley 
are first placed on the altar, and thereby consecrated 
or filled with the divine virtue that is inherent there, 
and then the beast is touched with these on the fore- 
head and thereby becomes himself filled with the spirit 
of godhead ; 3 the second is also a mystic act, for the 
ff^Xdy^va specially contain the life, which is now infused 
with divinity, and by tasting them the worshippers 
partake of the divine life. All this arises solely from 
the extraordinary degree of supernatural force or " Mana " 
which the altar itself possesses, a force which may have 

1 "Sacrificial Communion in Greek Religion," in Hibbert Journal, 

2 E.g. IL, i, 457-474 ,* Od., 3, 1-4* J *4, 4^6. 

3 Cf. Schol. Od., 3, 441 (who defines otfAo%tfrat as barley and salt 
mixed with, water or wine ... /cat Wvov atfrd irpb rov iepelov . . . KpiB&s 
S &4pta\op rots 6&ftu<rt xdptv eti<f>oplas) ; Schol. Arist. Equ., 1167, rocs dtificurur 
eirtftdb\6fjtjHu [ic/>t0a(]. Vide Fritz. Hermes, 32, 235 ; for another theory, 
vide Stoll, "Alte Taufgebraiiche," in Arch. Relig. Wissensch., 1905, 
Beiheft, p. 33. 


been an inheritance from long ages of pillar-worship, 
if we believe the altar to have been evolved from the 
sacred pillar. 1 It explains other details in the old 
Hellenic sacrificial act ; such as the casting the hairs 
of the victim into the altar-flame, 2 which established 
a communion between the animal and the deity, the 
practice of solemnly consecrating the lustral water by 
ceremoniously carrying it round the altar, 3 and charging 
it with a still more potent infusion of divinity by 
plunging into it a lighted brand from the altar-fire. 4 

The communion sacrifice must then have been in 
vogue in pre-Homeric times ; and the idea that gave 
it its meaning never wholly faded from the State-ritual ; 
for the rule, expressed by such formulae as ovx, uvopopci, 
bcuvvcrSav avrov, bidding the worshipper conclude the 
feast round the altar and take none of the flesh home, 
seems to arise partly from the feeling that the ceremony 
was meaningless unless he feasted wholly with the 
deity. 5 But it was most vividly realised in the religi- 
ous services of the 6iwoi, the later religious orders 
or fraternities devoted each to the cult of its special 
divinity ; for these a common religious meal formed 
the chief binding-tie. 6 

Apart from the Homeric evidence, we have the 
record of the Attic Bouphonia as attestation of the 
great antiquity of this type of sacrifice in Greece. To 

1 Vide Evans, "Mycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult/* Hell. Journ., 
1901, pp. 114-115. 

2 Od., 14, 426 ; cf. the custom reported from Arabia of mingling 
hair from the head of a worshipper with the paste from which an idol 
is made. 

3 Aristoph. Pax., 956. 

4 Athenae, p. 419, B. 

5 Vide Arch. Rel. Wiss. } 1909, p. 467 ; Thomsen there explains it 
wholly from the idea of tabu. 

8 The common meal of the thiasotai is often represented on later 
reliefs, vide Perdriyet, " Reliefs My siens," Bull. Covr. Hell., 1899, p. 592. 


the actual statement of the details given us by Theo- 
phrastos and Pausanias, much is added by the curious 
aetiological legends that grew up around it. 1 We see 
the ox marking himself for sacrifice by voluntarily 
going up to the altar and eating the corn upon it, being 
thus called, as it were, by the god into communion with 
himself. As he is thus full of the spirit of the god, it is 
regarded a sacrilegious act to slay him ; but all the 
citizens partake of his flesh, and even the stranger 
who eats becomes himself a citizen, as through this 
feast he enters into kinship with Zeus Polieus. All 
this can be explained by the belief that Zens Polieus 
is in the altar ; and we need not resort to such theories 
as that the ox is a totem-animal or the spirit of 

We must, however, beware of concluding that because 
the victim was thus temporarily possessed with godhead 
and in this holy state devoured, he was therefore literally 
regarded as the full incarnation of the god, or that the 
worshipper consciously believed he was eating his own 
deity who died in the sacrifice. For religious conscious- 
ness by no means always draws the full logical corollaries 
of a religious act. The more mystic idea, that has 
played a great part in the religion of Europe, can only 
be detected or suspected, apart from written direct 
ancient testimony, where the animal is treated with 
reverence apart from and before his association with the 
altar, or is regarded as the habitual incarnation of the 
deity. The immolation and devouring of such a victim 
would be of the true sacramental type, which Robertson 
Smith believed was the aboriginal form of all sacri- 
fice. But we have no clear example of it from the 
earliest period of genuine Hellenic religion, unless we 

1 Vide Cults, L pp. 56-58, 88-92. 


force the evidence or exaggerate its meaning. 1 We 
have only certain myths that we may doubtfully venture 
to interpret by means of this hypothesis. And these 
are no myths about animals, but about human victims 
devoured in sacrifice : the most significant is the story of 
the cannibalistic feast held by King Lykaon, who cooked 
his own son and offered the flesh to Zeus, a ritual of 
which some survival, whether mimetic or half-real, 
was witnessed by Pausanias himself on Mount Lykaon. 2 
This would point to sacramental cannibalism, if we 
assume that King Lykaon was the human incarnation 
of Zeus Lykaios and that his son was therefore a divine 
infant. But it is possible that the story enshrines 
the remembrance of the more ordinary clan-sacrifice 
of the life of a clansman to procure them communion 
with the clan-god by the common partaking of his 
flesh : the kinsman is offered rather than the animal, 
not so much that the sacrificers may eat their god, but 
that the god by consuming their most valued life may 
be more closely incorporate with them. 

Again, in one of the darkest and most perplexing 
of Greek legends, the story of Klumenos of Argos and 
his incestuous love of his daughter Harpalyke, who 
revenges herself by slaying her own child and offering 
it to the father in a sacrificial meal, we may discern 
the glimmer of a remembrance of a cannibal sacrament. 
The associations of the story dimly indicate a Thracian 
origin. 3 And it is in the range of the Greek Dionysiac 

1 In my article on t( Sacrificial Communion in Greek Religion/* 
Hibbert Journal, 1904, p. 320, I have been myself guilty of this, in 
quoting the story told by Polynaenns (Strafegem. 8, 43), about the 
devouring of the mad buli with golden horns by the Erythraean host, 
as containing an example of a true sacrament. 

2 Vide Cults, vol. i. p. 145. 

3 See Crusius* article in Roscher's Lexikon, s,v. " Harpalyke." 


cult, which according to the most probable view was 
adopted from Thrace, that we find imprinted on legend 
and ritual the tradition of a savage type of sacrament, 
in which the human or animal incarnation of the god 
was devoured. Such is the significance that we may 
fairly attach to the Titan-story of the murder of the 
infant Dionysos, to the ^srapay^ of the goat or bull 
or snake periodically practised by the Bacchoi or 
Bacchae, and to the death of Pentheus. 1 And in later 
Greek ritual the consciousness here and there survived 
that the victim offered to Dionysos incarnated the very 
deity, even before it acquired the temporary mystic 
afflatus from contact with the altar. The record of 
the ritual of Tenedos, in which a sacred pregnant cow 
was tended reverently and the calf that she bore was 
dressed in the buskins and then sacrificed to Dionysos, 
" the render of men/' is the most piquant example, 2 

This Dionysiac tradition reaches back undoubtedly 
to the second millennium in Greece ; the evidence of a 
similar sacramental ritual in purely Hellenic worship 
is shadowy and slight, for the critical examination of 
the Eleusinian mysteries does not clearly reveal it ; 
and the growth and diffusion of the idea in later Pagan- 
ism does not concern us now. 

But the consideration of the early Hellenic sacrifice, 
of which the salient features have been slightly sketched 
above, is of signal value for our present purpose. For 
it reveals at once a marked contrast to Babylonian 
ideas so far as these at present are revealed to us. The 
Babylonian-Assyrian liturgies, epics, and chronicles 
have failed to disclose any other theory of the sacrifice 
than that which is called the gift-theory. A general 

1 Vide Cults, v. pp. 161-172. 

2 IZ>., v. p. 165. 


term for the Babylonian sacrifice is " kishtn " or " pre- 
sent/' l The deities are supposed to eat what is given 
them ; in the Epic of the Deluge the naive phrase occurs, 
" The gods smell the savour, the delightful savour, 
the gods swarm like flies around the sacrificer." No 
evidence is as yet forthcoming that the sacrificer was 
supposed or was allowed to eat with the deity, as in 
the Hellenic communion-sacrifice. On the contrary, 
certain texts can be quoted which seem expressly to 
forbid such a thing. 2 The document already cited 
that was found in Assurbanipal's library, containing 
the Job-like lament of the good man who had found 
no profit in goodness, contains a verse in which he com- 
pares himself with the sinner who neglects all religious 
ordinances, and who has even " eaten the food of God." 
And so we find that among the various evil or impure 
or unlucky deeds that could bring a man under the 
ban of the gods, the " devouring of sacrificial flesh " 
is expressly mentioned. 3 

Unless, then, documents yet to be revealed contradict 
this positive and negative evidence, we have here a 
fact of great weight to set against the theory that we are 
discussing. Whencesoever the Hellenes derived their 
genial conception of the sacrifice as a communion- 
meal, they did not derive it from Babylon. And all 
Robertson Smith's speculations concerning the inner 
significance of the Semitic sacrifice cannot yet be applied 
to Mesopotamia, whence he was not able to glean any 
evidence. In Babylonia the sacrificer got no share 
of the victim. He might eat with the spirits of the 
dead in certain ritual, but he was not, it appears, privi- 

1 K.A.T*, p. 596. 

2 Jeremias, Die Cultus-Tafel von Sip par, p. 26. 

3 Zimmern, Beitrage zur Kennt. Bab. Rel., p. 15. 



leged to eat with the god or goddess. The deity took 
the victim, or the sacrifice of cereals and fruits, as a 
present, and the priest got his share. But we are not 
told that the priest ate with the god, or where he ate ; 
nor can we say that the priest represented the worshipper. 

If a true sacrament is yet to be discovered in Baby- 
lonian religion, it will probably be found in some docu- 
ment of the Tammuz ritual. For it is probable that 
Tammuz was identified with the corn as with other parts 
of vegetation, and that the mourning for him was 
accompanied with abstinence from bread. His resurrec- 
tion ended the fast, and if in their joy the worshippers 
ceremoniously broke bread, they may have supposed they 
were eating the body of their risen lord. But such 
a reconstruction of the old Tammuz ritual rests at 
present only on the indirect evidence of the later records 
of Attis-Adonis cult and of the Tammuz-worship among 
the heathen Syrians of Harran in the tenth century of 
our era. 1 

It belongs to the Babylonian conception of the 
sacrifice as a gift, that the animal was often regarded as 
a ransom for the man's own life ; that is to say, when 
sin had been committed, the deity might be placated 
by the gift of an agreeable victim, and be persuaded 
to accept it in place of the sinner whose life was properly 
forfeit. For instance, a sick man is always supposed 
to have sinned ; and the priest who is performing an 
animal sacrifice in his behalf uses the prayer, " Take his 
present, take his ransom " ; 2 and the formula of a 
sacrifice offered by way of exorcism is very explicit : 
" A male sheep, a female sheep, a living sheep, a dead 

1 Vide Frazer, Adonis- Attis-O sins, p. 189 ; cf. " Communion in 
Greek Religion/* Hibbert Journ,, 1904, p. 317. 

2 Jeremias, Die Cultus-Tafel von Sippar, p. 28. 


sheep shall die, but I shall live." * Another inscription 2 
throws further light on the ritual of the vicarious 
sacrifice : "To the high-priest may one cry out : the 
kid of substitution for the man, the kid for his soul he 
hath brought : place the head of the kid to the head 
of the man, place the neck of the kid to the neck of the 
man, place the breast of the kid to the breast of the 
man/* Whether this solemn manipulation was per- 
formed after or before the sacrifice, its object must have 
been to establish by contact a communion between the 
man and the victim, so that the kid might be his most 
efficacious representative. It thus became part of 
the higher ethical teaching of Babylon that " sacrifice 
brings life/* just as " prayer takes away sin/ 3 a doctrine 
expressed in a fragmentary tablet that contains a text 
of striking spiritual import. 3 

The type of sacrifice that may be called vicarious 
must have been an ancient as well as a later tradi- 
tion in Greece ; for the legends associated with many 
sacrifices clearly attest it, explaining certain animal 
victims as substitutes for a human life that was 
formerly demanded by the offended deity, the vicarious 
sacrifice usually carrying with it the ideas of sin 
and atonement. 4 The substitution might occasionally 

1 Weber, Ddmonenbeschworung, etc., p. 29. 

2 iv. R 2 , pi. 26, No. 6 ; this is the inscription quoted by Prof. Sayce 
(vide infra, p. 182, n.) as a document proving human sacrifice. I owe 
the above translation to the kindness of Dr. Langdon ; it differs very 
slightly from Zimmern's in K.A.T*, p. 597. 

3 Jeremias, op. cit,, p. 29. 

4 Kenan's thesis (C. I. Sem., i. p. 229) that the idea of sin, so 
dominant in the Hebrew and Phoenician sacrifice, was entirely lacking 
in the Hellenic, cannot be maintained ; he quotes Porph. De Abstin., 
i, 2, 24, a passage which contains an incomplete theory of Greek 
sacrifice. The sin-offering is indicated by Homer, and is recognised 
frequently in Greek literature and legend ; only no technical term was 
invented to distinguish it from the ordinary cheerful sacrifice. 


be apologised for by a legal fiction, as, for instance, 
when in the ritual of the Brauronian Artemis the 
angry goddess demanded the life of a maiden, and 
the Athenian parent sacrificed a goat, "calling it his 
daughter/' l 

But though this idea is common to the Mesopo- 
tamian and Hellenic communities, they differ widely in 
respect of the evidence they afford, of the prevalence of 
human sacrifice. As regards ancient Greece, the evidence 
is indubitable, though much that has been brought by 
modern scholars is due to false interpretation of ritual, 
such as the scourging of the Spartan boys ; later, the 
human sacrifice became repugnant to the advancing 
ethical thought of the nation, but according to one 
authority did not wholly die out till the age of 
Hadrian. On the other hand, no literary text nor any 
monument has yet been found that proves the exist- 
ence of such a ritual in Babylonia. In one of his 
biographical inscriptions Assurbanipal proclaims that 
he " sacrificed " prisoners of war to avenge his murdered 
father on the spot where his father was slain. 2 He 
boasts of worse things than this ; and we can well 
believe that he murdered them in cold blood. But the 

1 Cults, ii. p. 441. 

2 Vide K.A.T. 3 , pp. 434, 599, where Zimmern refers to the monu- 
ments, published by Menant, Pievres gravees, i figs. 94, 95, 97, as 
possibly showing a scene of human sacrifice. But Menant's interpreta- 
tion of them is wrong ; vide Langdon, Babyloniaca, Tome iii. p. 236, 
" two Babylonian seals " ; the kneeling figure is the owner of the 
seal; the personage behind him is no executioner, but Ramman or 
Teschub holding, not a knife, but his usual club. The inscriptions 
published by Prof. Sayce (Trans. Soc. B-ibl. Arch., iv. pp. 25-29) are 
translated differently by Dr. Langdon, so that the first one (iv. R 2 , 
pi. 26, No. 6) refers to the sacrifice of a kid, not of an infant. The mis- 
interpretation of the inscription has misled Trumbull (Blood Covenant, 
p. 1 66). The statement in 2 Kings xvii. 31 about the Sepharvites 
in Samaria does not necessarily point to a genuine Babylonian ritual, 
even if we are sure that the Sepharvites were Babylonians. 


words by no means suggest a ceremonious tomb-ritual 
with human sacrifice. 

Slightly more important is a passage in a legal 
document, to which Mr. Johns * calls attention ; whence 
it appears that a forfeit for reopening an already adjudi- 
cated cause was the consecration of one's eldest child 
by fire to a god or goddess ; and, as incense and cedar- 
wood are mentioned in the same context as concomitants 
of the threatened ceremony, the conclusion seems 
natural that this was once at least a real threat of human 
sacrifice inflicted as a legal punishment. This legal 
clause gives us the right to conclude that in the earliest 
period the Semites and Sumerians of Mesopotamia 
occasionally resorted to this rite. They would be indeed 
a peculiar people and a favoured nation if they had 
always been innocent of it. It is sufficiently attested 
by direct evidence, either of record or excavation, or 
by the suggestion of legend, of the Arabs, Syrians, the 
early Canaanites, 2 the Israelites, the Phoenicians ; also 
of the Phrygians and other non-Semitic peoples of 
Anatolia. Yet it must be put to the credit of the 
Babylonian culture of the second millennium, that the 
Mesopotamians had either completely or almost aban- 
doned it. At this time it was doubtless in full vogue 
in Greece ; and certainly Babylon could not have been 
their evil teacher in this matter. But they needed no 
teachers in what was an ancient tradition of their 
northern ancestors, and of the people with whom they 
mingled. Yet only twenty years ago a distinguished 
writer on Greek ritual could say, " It is certain that the 

1 Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, p. 95. 

2 The excavations at Gezer have revealed almost certain evidence 
of the early practice of human sacrifice ; a number of skeletons, one 
of a girl sawn in half, were found buried under the foundation of 
houses (vide Cook, op. cit., pp. 38-39). 


Hellenes borrowed the practice of human sacrifice 
from the Orientals." l 

As we discover no trace of the idea of communion 
in the ordinary Babylonian sacrifice, we are the less 
surprised that scarcely any hint is given by the sacred 
literature or monuments of any mystic application of 
the blood of the victim, which was used for so many 
purposes of communion-ritual by the early Hellenes 
and Hebrews. I can find no other evidence for this in 
Mesopotamia except one passage quoted by Zimmern, 2 
in which the sacrificer is ordered to sprinkle some part 
of the door with the blood of the lamb. It is not 
probable that the Babylonians were incapable of the 
notion that by physical contact with certain sacred 
objects a temporary communion could be established 
between the mortal and the divinity : it appears, for 
instance, in one of the formulae of the purification- 
ritual " May the torch of the Fire-god cleanse me " 3 
in the yearly practice of the king grasping the hands 
of the idol of the god, perhaps in the custom of attaching 
the worshipper to the deity with a cord, 4 and in the 
diviner's habit of grasping the cedar-staff, which is called 
" the beloved of the gods/' 5 But it may be that they 
never applied this notion to the sacrifice, so as to evolve 
the institution of the communion-meal ; or they may 
have evolved it in early times, and through long ages 

1 Stengel, Die griechiscben Kultusalterthftmer, p. 89. 
* K.A.T*, p. 599. 

3 Jastrow, op. cit., i. p, 500. 

4 Might this be the meaning of a line in a hymn translated by 
Jastrow, op. cit., p. 549, " I turn myself to thee (O Goddess Gula), I 
have grasped thy cord as the coid of my god and goddess " (vide 
'Kmg i Babyl. Magic,No. 6, No. 71-94) ; or of the phrase in the Apocrypha 
(Epist. Jerem., 43), " The women also with cords about them siFin 
the ways" ? 

5 Zimmern's Beitrdge, etc., p. 99. 


of power the priests may have become strong enough 
to suppress it and to substitute for it the gift-ritual, 
which would be more profitable for themselves. It 
accords with this absence of any mystic significance in 
the sacrifice that we do not find in the Babylonian service 
any mystic use of the sacrificial skins, of which some 
evidence can be gathered from various details of Greek 
ritual. 1 

Again, the Babylonian records have so far failed to 
reveal any evidence for any such public ceremony as 
the sending forth of the scapegoat, whether human 
or animal, charged with the sins of the community. 
This ritual was common to the Hellenes, Egyptians, 
and Hebrews, and probably to other Semitic com- 
munities. 2 The idea of sin-transference on which it 
rests was familiar enough to the ancient Babylonian ; but 
he seems only to have built upon this a private system 
of exorcism and purgation of sin and disease for the 
individual. As far as we know, it did not occur to him 
to effect by this method a solemn annual expulsion of 
all the sins of the nation. 

On the other hand, there is another type of sacrifice 
common to Babylonia and Greece, by which an oath 
or an engagement might be cemented : the animal is 
slaughtered with an imprecation that the same fate 
may befall him who breaks his oath or violates the com- 
pact. Zimmern quotes a good example of this, relating 
to the compact made between the Assyrian king Assur- 

1 On the famous bronze plaque of the Louvre (Jeremias, Hdlle und 
Paradies, p. 28, Abb. 6) we see two representatives of Ea in the fish- 
skin of the god ; and on a frieze of Assur-nasir-pal in the British Museum 
(Hell. Journ., 1894, p. 115, fig. 10 ; Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 
i, pi. 30), two men in lions' skins ; but these are not skins of animals 
of -sacrifice. 

2 Vide rny Evolution of Religion, pp. 118-120. 


nirari and Mati'ilu, prince of Arpad : 1 a sheep is 
sacrificed and the formula pronounced : " This head 
is not the head of a sheep, it is the head of Mati'ilu, 
of his sons, of his great ones, of the people of 
his land. If Mati'ilu breaks this oath, the head of 
Mati'ilu will be cut off, like the head of this sheep." 
The same idea underlies the oath-sacrifice in the Iliad* 
though it is not expressed with such naive make-believe 
or such logic in the detail ; but as the beast is slaughtered 
or wine poured, a curse is uttered invoking on the per- 
jured a similar fate, or with a prayer that " his brains 
may be poured out like this wine. JJ The original idea 
is magical : the symbolic explanation is later. Another 
parallel is the Latin oath over the stone. 3 

Such resemblance in special forms by no means 
weakens the impression that we receive from the striking 
differences discernible in the Babylonian and Hellenic 
significance of sacrifice. To those already noted we 
may add yet another, which concerns the association 
of sacrifice with divination. It is Professor Jastrow's 
opinion 4 that the chief motive of the Babylonian sacrifice 
was the inspection of the liver of the victim, from the 
markings of which the skilled expert could interpret 
the future by a conventional system revealed to us in 
certain ancient Babylonian documents. This super- 
stition is so elaborate and artificial that if we find it 
in adjacent countries, it is more reasonable to suppose 
that one borrowed it from the other, than that it was 
developed independently in each. We find it in later 
Greece, Etraria, and Rome ; but the evidence of the 
Homeric poems suggests that it was unknown to the 

*,p. 49. 

2 3, 300 ; 19, 265-267. 

3 Polybius, 3, 25, ty& /j,6vo$ ttcirfooifii otfrws ws tiSe \lOos 

4 Op. cit. t ii. p. 217. 


Hellenes of the earlier period. They are very likely 
to have borrowed it from Babylonian sources in post- 
Homeric times ; and we note here, as in other cases 
where the influence of Babylon upon Greece can be reason- 
ably posited, it reaches the western shores of the Aegean 
at a post-Homeric rather than a pre-Homeric epoch. 

The comparative study of Mesopotamian and Hellenic 
sacrifice confronts us finally with another problem 
belonging to the history of religions, and one of the 
greatest, the dogma of the death of the divinity and 
the origin and significance of that belief. For where 
the mystic type of communion-sacrifice is found, where 
the animal that is slain for the sacrament is regarded 
as the incarnation of the deity, the divinity may be 
supposed himself to die temporarily, doubtless to rise 
again to life, either immediately or at some subsequent 
festival. This momentous conclusion need not always 
have been drawn, for religious logic is not often per- 
sistently thorough, nor does the evolution of the idea 
belong necessarily to the sphere of totemism, as Robert- 
son Smith supposed, and M. Reinach is still inclined to 
maintain. It is not my concern here to discuss the 
totemistic hypothesis, but I may point out that in the 
rare examples where the totem-animal is slain, it is not 
clear that it is slain as a divinity. 

Again, the belief in the periodic death of a deity 
might arise independently of the sacrifice, namely, from 
the essential idea of the godhead itself, when the divine 
life is identified with the annual life of vegetation : 
the phenomena of nature in autumn and spring may 
suggest to the worshipper the annual death and resurrec- 
tion of the god or goddess. It is important to note that 
in this, as in the other source of the belief, the conclusion 
need not always have been drawn, for the vegetation- 


deity might be supposed not to die in autumn or winter, 
but merely to disappear, and the story of his or her dis- 
appearance need not carry the same religious conse- 
quences as the story of the divine death. 

The immolation of the divine victim in a communion- 
service, wherein the worshippers partake symbolically 
or realistically of the divine flesh and blood, though 
suggested by a thought that we must call savage, may 
be pregnant with consequences momentous for higher 
religion, as the history of Christian dogma attests. And 
even the annual death of the nature-god may be raised 
to a higher significance than its mere nature-meaning, and 
may be linked with the promise of human immortality. 

We may note, finally, that a religion which expresses 
in its ritual the idea of the deity's death and resurrection 
is likely to be charged with a stronger emotional force 
than one that lacks it ; for the two events will excite 
an ecstasy of sorrow and of joy in the believer. 

As the phenomenon, then, is of such importance, it 
is necessary to be critical and unbiased in the collection 
of statistics. Our present field of inquiry is the Eastern 
and Western Mediterranean area; and here our con- 
spicuous example is the ancient Sumerian-Babylonian 
ritual of Tammuz, 1 a folk - service of lamentation 
and rapture, psychologically akin in many respects to 
Christianity, and of most powerful appeal. 

The Tammuz hymns preserved to us are of the 
highest Babylonian poetry, and though they are chiefly 
litanies of lamentation, sorrowing over the death of 
the young god, yet one or two echoes are heard at 
their close of the rapturous rejoicing over his resurrec- 

1 According to Dr. Langdon (op. cit., p. xvi.), the wailing for 
Tammuz was developed in the early Sumerian period of the fourth 


tion. 1 With them is associated the story of the descent 
of his consort Ishtar, or of his goddess-sister ; another 
great motive of the religious imagination which neigh- 
bouring peoples and faiths were quick to capture and 
adapt to their own religious use. We have seen 2 that 
the evidence is clear that the life of Tammuz is the life 
of the crops and fruits ; and we discern a pure nature- 
religion unmoralised and without dogma, but evoking 
a mood and a sentiment that might supply the motive 
force to more complex and more spiritual creeds. It 
was not suited to the religious atmosphere of the Assyrian 
and Babylonian courts ; but its influence spread far 
through Asia Minor. It captivated the other poly- 
theistic Semites, and at times, as Ezekiel shows us, the 
women of Israel, revealing to these latter, no doubt, a 
vein of religious sentiment unknown in the austere 
Mosaic monotheism. The ritual of Adonis is mainly 
borrowed from the Tammuz service. For instance, 
the rite of planting the short-lived " garden of Adonis," 
of which possibly the earliest record is in Isaiah xvii. 10, 
appears to be alluded to in a verse of a Tammuz hymn. 3 
The figure of Tammuz is primevally Sumerian ; there- 
fore the diffusion of his cult among the various Semitic 
communities does not enable us to conclude that the 
death and resurrection of a divinity is an aboriginal 
Semitic tradition. As regards other evidence on the 
strength of which this dogma has been attributed to 
them by some scholars, it is of late authority and of 
doubtful validity. Josephus 4 tells us that at Tyre the 

1 Langdon, op. cit., 300-341 ; cf. Zimmern, " Sumerisch-Babylonische 
Tamuzlieder," in Sitzungsber. Konig. Sachs. Gesell. Wissen., 1907, 
pp. 201252, and his discussion, "Der Babylonische Gott Tamuz/' in 
Abhandl. Konig. Sachs. Gesell. Wissen., 1909. 

2 Vide supra, p. 105. 8 Vide Langdon, op. cit,, p. 501. 

* Antiqu,, 8, 5, 3 ; cf. Clem. Recogn., 10, 24; Baudissin in his 


resurrection of Herakles was once celebrated by Hiram ; 
but this might well be a derivative of the non-Semitic 
Sandon cult of Tarsos, which will be considered below. 
And the legend of the death of Dido at Carthage, even 
if there is no doubt that the queen was originally 
the great goddess of Tyre, is no sufficient proof 
of a Phoenician ritual in which the divinity died 

But as regards the non-Semitic peoples of anterior 
Asia, the question of borrowing is more difficult to 
answer with certainty. 

No Hittite monument nor any Hittite text has as 
yet revealed to us any figure that we can identify with 
Tammuz. But certain indications incline us to believe 
that the idea of the death of the god was not unfamiliar 
to the Hittite religion or to some of the communities 
under Hittite influence. On the Boghaz-Keui relief 
we have noted the presence in the religious procession 
of those mysterious animals, calves, or bulls, wearing 
caps of peculiar Hittite fashion. 1 Are not these " thean- 
thropic animals" to be sacrificed as a communion- 
link between man and God? We know that the bull 
was worshipped as an incarnation of a Hittite deity ; 
and therefore from the sacrifice of the bull might emerge 
the dogma that the deity ceremoniously died at certain 
periods. From the sanctity of the bull in ancient Hittite 
cult-centres may have descended the mystic communion 

Eschmun-Asklepios (Oriental. Stud, zu Noldeke gewidmet, p. 752) thinks 
that the Healer-god, Marduk Asclepips Eschmun, is himself one who 
died and rose again in Assyrian and Phoenician theology. For Asklepios 
of Berytos we have the almost useless story of Darnascius in Phot. 
Bibl. t 573 H. ; the uncritical legend in Ktesias (c. 21) and Ael. Var. 
Hist., 13, 3, about the grave of Belitana at Babylon (to which Strabo 
also alludes, p. 740), does not justify the view that the death of Marduk 
was ever a Babylonian dogma. 

1 Perrot-Chipiez, Histoire de I* Art, iv. pi. viii. 


rite of the Taurobolion or Tauropolion, which Cumont 
has shown good reason for supposing to have arisen 
in the worship of the Persian Anahita, and to have 
been adopted into the service of Kybele. 1 

More direct evidence is to be gleaned from the cult 
of Sandon or Sandes of Tarsos, a city which was once 
within the area of Hittite culture. The god of Tarsos 
comes later to be identified with the Tyrian Baal and 
the Hellenic Herakles ; and the legend of the death of 
the latter hero may be an echo of a /spoV \oyog of 
Tarsos, inspired by an annual rite in which the god 
of the city was consumed on a funeral pyre, and was 
supposed to rise again from the flames in the form of 
an eagle. 2 The later Tarsian coins display the image 
of the god, the pyre, the eagle, the double-headed axe, 
and the lion ; 3 and the last three of these symbols belong 
to the oldest religious art of the Hittites. The proof 
would be complete if it could be shown that the name 
Sandon or Sandes belongs to the Hittite language. All 
we know at present is that it is not a Babylonian or 
Sumerian word, or found in the vocabulary of any 
Semitic people. Prof. Sayce believes himself to have 
found it in a cuneiform inscription of Boghaz-Keui. 
This would be the direct proof that we require ; but the 
word that he transliterates as Sandes is said to be the 
ideogram of Hadad, the Syrian Semitic god, and that 
Hadad is used as the Semitic equivalent of Sandes is 
merely a conjuncture. 4 

A still clearer and more striking example of the 
phenomenon with which we are dealing is the Phrygian 

1 Rev. de Philol., 1893, P- I 95- 

2 Vide Frazer, op. cit., pp. 98-99- 

3 K. O. Miiller, Kleine Schriften, vol. ii pp. 102-103. 

4 Journ. Roy. Asiat. Soc., 1909, pp. 966, 971 ; the information about 
the true meaning of the ideogram I owe to Dr. Langdon. 


and Lydian cult and legend of Attis. The various and 
often conflicting details in the story of his birth, life, and 
death, the various elements in his cult, are known to 
us from late sources ; the consideration of the whole 
question would not be relevant here ; but it is necessary 
for our purpose to determine, if possible, what are the 
aboriginal motives of the myth and cult. It seems 
likely that the earliest form of the Phrygian religion 
was the worship of the great mother-goddess, coupled 
with a son or lover, 1 a young and beautiful god who 
dies prematurely, and whose death was bewailed in an 
annual ritual, whose resurrection was presented in a 
subsequent or accompanying service. Of the death 
and the lamentation we have older evidence than for the 
resurrection and the rejoicing, but the one seems to be 
a necessary complement of the other. The family like- 
ness of Attis to Tammuz strikes us at first sight. As 
Tammuz appears as a young vegetation deity, identified 
partly with the life of trees, partly with the corn, so 
Attis in the Phrygian legend and ritual is presented as a 
tree-divinity, and in the verse of a late hymn, which is 
inspired by an ancient tradition, is invoked as " the 
corn cut by the reaper/' 

And these two personalities of the Sumerian and 
Phrygian religions evoked the same psychologic senti- 
ment, sorrowful, romantic, and yearning. The hypo- 
thesis naturally suggests itself that the more Western 
people borrowed the cult from Mesopotamia, and that 
this had happened as early as B.C. 1500.2 All scholars 
are agreed at all events that the figure of Attis belongs 
to the older pre-Aryan stratum of the population of 

1 Vide supra, p. 91 ; cf. Cults, ii. pp. 644649 ; iii. pp. 300305. 

2 The Babylonian myths of Etana and Adapa, and their ascent to 
heaven, may have given the cue to the Phrygian stories of Ganymede 
and Tantalos. 


Phrygia ; modern speculation is sometimes inclined to 
regard this as Hittite, and we know that the Hittites 
adopted some part of the Babylonian religion. But 
the name Attis itself is a stumbling-block to the hypo- 
thesis of borrowing from Mesopotamia. Believing 
Adonis to be a Western-Semitic form of Tammuz, we 
can explain the name as meaning merely " the Lord/' 
a natural appellative of the Sumerian god. But we 
cannot so explain " Attis ." It is non-Semitic, and 
must be regarded as belonging to an Anatolian language- 
group, nor can we yet discover its root-meaning. 

Again, there are many features of the Attis-worship 
and legend that are not found in the corresponding 
Sumerian, and one at least that seems essentially alien 
to it. The death of the vegetation-god, originally 
suggested by the annual phenomenon of nature, may 
be explained by various myths, when the personal deity 
has so far emerged from his nature-shell that he is 
capable of personal drama. The death of Tammuz 
does not appear to have been mythologically explained 
at all. We may suppose that the killing of Adonis by 
the boar was borrowed from the Attis legend, for in 
Phrygia, and also in Lydia as the Herodotean Ates 
story proves this animal was sometimes regarded as 
the enemy that slew the god. It is a reasonable belief 
that the boar came to play this part in the story through 
a misunderstanding of certain ritual, in which this 
victim was annually offered as incarnating the deity, or 
was reverentially spared through a sacrificial law of 
tabu. If this is an original fact of Attis-cult, it counts 
somewhat against the hypothesis of derivation from 
Mesopotamia, for the pig does not appear to have 
played any such part, positive or negative, in Meso- 
potamian, as in the ritual of the Western Semites and 


on the shores of Asia Minor ; nor can any connection at 
present be discovered between Tammuz and this animal. 

But another version of the death of Attis, current 
at some time among his worshippers, was that he died 
from the effects of self-mutilation, a motive suggested 
by the emasculation of the Phrygian Galloi. We have 
here a phenomenon in the cult and myth that was alien 
to the religious habits of the Mesopotamian communities. 
The eunuch as a secular functionary is a figure belonging 
to an immemorial social tradition of the East ; but the 
eunuch-priest is the morbid product of a very few 
religions, and there is no trace of such in Mesopotamia. 
The Babylonian church-law demanded an unblemished 
priesthood of strong virility, agreeing in this respect 
with the Judaic and the Hellenic, and according with 
an ancient sentiment that the vigour of the priest was 
the pledge of that continued flow of divine power which 
supported the vigour of the community. Self-emascula- 
tion was penalised in the religious rule of Jahwe, and 
the Gallos was excluded from temple-worship by the 
ritual code of Lesbos. The records of modern savagery 
and the history of ascetism, whether in modern and 
mediaeval India or in early Christianity, afford us varied 
illustration of the wildest excesses of self-inflicted 
cruelty against the human body, but not so far as I am 
aware of this particular form of self-destruction. 1 

As a religious practice it is a special characteristic 
of Phrygia, a land always fascinating to the student 
on account of its strange freaks of religious psychology ; 
and from Phrygia the practice spread into some adjacent 
communities, such as Bambyke. One may be allowed 

1 Dr. Frazer, in Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings (G. B., vol. ii. 
p. 45), quotes from N. Tsackni (La Russie Sectaire, p. 74) an example 
of a fanatic Christian sect in modern Russia practising castration. 
I have not been able to find this treatise. 


to pause a little to consider the original motive that 
prompted it. At first sight one is tempted to explain 
it as due to a morbid exaggeration of the craving for 
purity. But elsewhere, where this impulse was most 
powerful, for instance, in the later Orphic and Isis cults, 
and in early and mediaeval Christianity, it produced 
many mental aberrations but not this particular one. 
Nor, again, have we any reason for supposing this 
craving to have been strong in the devotees of Phrygia ; 
the Galloi of Bambyke, according to Lucian, were pos- 
sessed by strong though impotent sexual desires and were 
allowed full license with women. The form of com- 
munion most ardently sought with the Phrygian goddess 
and with the later Sabazios was a marriage symbolised 
by a sexual act ; and Greek and Latin writers, both 
pagan and Christian, agree in reprobating the obscenities 
of Kybele-Attis worship ; we may note also that Phrygian 
sacred mythology is somewhat grosser than the Hellenic. 
We are compelled to seek another explanation, and 
I can suggest none other than that which I have hazarded 
elsewhere ; namely, that Phrygian religious emascula- 
tion was an act performed in a frenzy of exaltation by 
the priest or mystes desirous of assimilating himself as far 
as possible to the female nature of the great divinity. 1 

1 Vide Cults, iii. pp. 300-301. Dr. Frazer's theory is that the act 
of castration was performed in order to maintain the fruitfulness of 
the earth (op, cit., pp. 224-237). But this is against the countless 
examples which he himself has adduced of the character and function 
of the priest or priest-king as one whose virile strength maintains the 
strength of the earth ; the sexual act performed in the field by the 
owner increases the fruitfulness of the field (Frazer, GB Z , ii. p. 205). 
Why should the priest make himself impotent so as to improve the 
crops ? The only grounds of his belief appear to be that the priest's 
testicles were committed to the earth or to an underground shrine of 
Kybele (Arnob. Adv. Gent., v. 14, and Schol. Nikajn.d.Alexipharm., 7; 
vide Cults, 3 ; Kybele Ref. 540} ; but such consecration of them to 
Kybele would be natural on any hypothesis, and Arnobius' words do 
not prove that they were buried in the bare earth. 



The worship was under male ministration for the 
highest part ; but for the full exercise of divine power 
the male priest must become quasi-female and wear a 
female dress, the latter part of the role being common 
enough in primitive " theurgy." The priest is him- 
self at times the incarnation of the young god, and is 
called Attis. Therefore Attis was himself supposed 
to have performed the same act, even at the cost of 
his life. How early was this institution of a eunuch 
priesthood in Phrygia we have no direct evidence to 
prove. It may be a " Hittite " tradition ; for figures 
that Perrot reasonably interprets as eunuch-priests are 
seen on the reliefs of Boghaz-Keui. 

Returning to the topic of the death of the divinity, 
we may assume that in Phrygia this was a very ancient 
tradition, enacted yearly by a ceremonious laying out 
of the vegetation puppet on a bier, or the suspension 
of it on a pine-tree. We have no direct or otherwise 
trusty evidence for the immolation of the priest who 
incarnates the god; doubtless the stories about the 
death of Marsyas and the harvest-sacrifice of Lityerses 
point to a ritual of human-sacrifice; whom Marsyas 
stands for is doubtful, but in the Lityerses legend it is 
merely the passing stranger who is slain, and neither 
of these traditions is explicitly linked with Attis-cult. 

Finally, we may pronounce the hypothesis of the 
derivation of the Phrygian cult from Mesopotamia to 
be unproved and unnecessary. 

Pursuing this phenomenon further afield, we come 
to the area of Minoan-Mycenaean culture. If the 
legend of the death of the Minotaur could be safely 
interpreted as arising from the periodic immolation 
of a bull-god, the idea that we are in quest of would 
be proved to belong to the Minoan Cretans ; but the 


frescoes of Knossos present that event with such a gay 
and sporting entourage that one feels shy of forcing 
a solemn religious significance into it. More important 
for our purpose is the traditional Zeus-legend of Crete. 
It is generally felt to be alien to the genuine Hellenic 
tradition concerning their high god, as something 
adopted by the immigrant Hellenes from an earlier 
Eteocretan ritual and creed. 1 We have a glimpse of 
a ritual in which the deity is born, is worshipped as 
an infant, and then as a boy Kovpos, as he is invoked in 
the new fragment of the hymn of the Kouretes and 
especially as the son of a great mother, not as a mature 
independent personality. Again, there appears an orgi- 
astic emotion and passion in the ritual that strikes a 
note in harmony with the Phrygian Kybele-Attis worship. 
The very early associations of Crete and the countries 
adjacent to the Troad are now being revealed by accumu- 
lating evidence, and may point to an affinity of stock. 
It may well have been, then, that the Minoan Cretans 
had their counterpart to Attis, a young god who was 
born and died periodically, whom they may have named 
Velchanos, the name of the young deity seen sitting 
under a tree on a Cretan coin of the fifth century. Though 
in age and character so unlike the Hellenic Zeus, we 
may suppose that the incoming Hellenes named him 
so because they found him the chief god of the island. 
We can also understand why the later Bacchic mystery 
flourished so fruitfully in Crete, if it found here already 
the ritual of a young god who died and rose again, 
and why in later times the inhabitants celebrated 
with such enthusiasm the Hilaria, 2 the Easter festival 
of the resurrection of the Phrygian divinity. 

1 Vide Cults, i. pp. 36-38. 

2 Vide Evolution of Religion, p. 62. 


This attempt to reconstruct a portion of old Cretan 
religion on the lines of the early Phrygian has only a 
precarious value, until some more positive evidence is 
forthcoming from the Minoan art-record, which hitherto 
has revealed to us nothing concerning an annual divine 
birth and death. The ritual-legend is incomplete: 
we hear sufficiently of the birth, and we may argue 
a priori that a periodic ritual of the god's birth implies 
a periodic death. Unfortunately all that we glean 
from ancient literature is that there was a grave of 
Zeus, perhaps in the Idaean cave, on which Pythagoras 
is said to have written an epitaph. 1 But a sceptical 
doubt arises here from the fact which was pointed out 
by Rohde, that the grave of a divine personage was 
often a misnomer of the underground sanctuary of a 
chthonian deity; and either the Idaean cave or the 
great cavern on Mount Dikte, whence the interesting 
relics of an immemorial cult have recently been gathered, 2 
might at a later period have come to be regarded as 
a grave. Still, we may ask, could the phrase " the 
grave of Zeus " have become prevalent among a people 
with whom the worship of this god was still a living 
creed, unless the faith also prevailed that the god who 
died rose again to power ? In that case the " grave of 
Zeus " could be a name for a sanctuary where the 
ritual of the death was enacted preliminary to the 
ritual of the birth. 

This reconstruction then, and the a priori deduction 
emphasised above, may claim to be at least legitimate. 

Finally, some evidence may be added from Cyprian 
cult for the view that the Minoan civilisation was 

1 Porph. Vit, Pyth., 17 ; cf. Callim. H. ad. Jov,, 8 ; Diod. Sic., 3, 61 ; 
vide Cults, i. pp. 36-3?- 

2 Vide A. Evans m Hell. Journ., 350. 


cognisant of the dogma of the death of the divinity. 
We hear of the grave of Ariadne-Aphrodite which was 
shown in later times in Cyprus, 1 and the Cretan and 
Cypriote legends of the maidens called Gorgo, Parakup- 
tousa, and Galatea 2 reveal to us an Aphrodite who died 
periodically and was laid out on a bier and revived* 
The Aphrodite of Cyprus is most probably of " Minoan " 
origin ; and, being a goddess of vegetation, the idea 
of periodic death and resurrection might naturally 
attach to her, and might be associated with another 
type of ritual also, the annual casting of her puppet 
into the sea, which probably gave rise to such stories 
as the leap of Britomartis or Derketo into the waves. 3 

We can now deal with the purely Hellenic evidence. 
Confining our view first to the cults and legends of the 
higher divinities of Hellas, we cannot affirm that the 
death and resurrection of the deity is a primitive tradi- 
tion of the Hellenes. We may suspect it to have been 
a leading motive in some of the local Arcadian cults 
of Artemis, if, for instance, we interpret the Arcadian 
Kallisto as a form of the great goddess herself ; but 
it is very probable that Artemis in Arcadia and many 
other of her cult-centres represents the pre-Hellenic 
divinity of birth and fruitfulness. What we may dare 
to call the Hellenic spirit seems to speak in the answer 
given by Xenophanes to the people of Elea when they 
asked him whether they ought to sacrifice to Leukothea 
and bewail her " : "If you regard her as a deity, do 
not bewail her ; if as human, do not sacrifice/ 7 4 

But when we descend from the higher religion to 

1 Vide Cults, vol. ii. p. 651 ; cf. Clem. Recogn., 10, 24, "sepulcrum 
Cypriae Veneris apud Cyprum." 

2 /&., pp. 651-652. 

8 Vide Cults, vol. ii. pp. 447, n. c., 478, 638, n. a. ; 

4 Aristot. Rhet.> 2, 23. 


the old Hellenic agrarian cults associated with the heroes 
or daimones of the soil and field, we find evidence of 
sorrowful rites, ceremonies of bewailing, which belong 
to the same type as that of Tammuz ; and in the Greek, 
as in the Babylonian, the personage to whom they are 
attached is a youthful hero or heroine of vegetation : 
such are Linos, perhaps the earliest theme of a melan- 
choly harvest-song of pre-Homeric days ; Hyakinthos, 
the " youth " of the Laconian land who may or may 
not have been Hellenic, to whom the greater part of 
the Hyakinthia were consecrated ; Eunostos of Tanagra ; 
Erigone, "the early-born/' of Ikaria. The life of all 
these passes away as the verdure passes, or as the crops 
are gathered in ; and to one of them at least, Hyakinthos, 
and perhaps to the others, the idea of an annual resurrec- 
tion was attached. But none of these came like Tammuz 
to play a world-part ; they remain the naive, half- 
realised forms of poetic folk-religion. Like to them 
is Bormos of Bithynia, 1 whose death was bewailed at 
the harvest-time with melancholy songs, accompanied 
by sad flute-music, and Lityerses of Phrygia, whom 
the reapers lamented around the threshing-floor. 

Shall we say that all these are merely reflections 
cast afar by the great cult-figure of Babylon ? 

Then we must say the same of the peasant-hero 
" German " whom the modern Bulgarians adore and 
bewail, of the Russian Yarilo, 2 and our own John Barley- 
corn. And at this point we shall probably fall back 
on the theory of independent similar developments, 
and shall believe that peasant religion in different parts 
of the world is capable of evolving strikingly parallel 

Athenae, p. 620 A (^relv avrbv TQIJS a-rrb TTJS %c6/xxs perd TWOS jue/AeXy- 
VOV Bprjvov Kal dya/cX^o-eoJs) ; Pollux., 4, 54. 
2 Frazer, GB 2 , vol. ii p. 106. 


figures in obedience to the stimulus of similar circum- 
stances and needs. 

We have no surety, then, for a belief that Tammuz, 
or any shadow of Tammuz, was borne to the western 
shores of the Aegean in the days before Homer. And 
we know that Adonis, his nearest Anatolian representative, 
only arrived late in the post-Homeric period. Mean- 
time, whatever view we may hold concerning prehistoric 
religious commerce between East and West, this vital 
difference between Mesopotamian and Hellenic religion 
must be strongly emphasised : Babylonian liturgy is 
mainly a service of sorrow, and part of that sorrow 
is for Tammuz ; Hellenic worship was mainly cheerful 
and social, and only in a few chthonian cults is a 
gloomier tone discernible, nor can we anywhere hear 
the outbursts of violent and ecstatic grief. In this 
respect, and in its remoteness from any idea of the death 
and resurrection of the deity, Hellenic religion was 
further removed from that of Catholic Europe than was 
the old Phrygian or the Sumerian. 

The Babylonian temple-service was complex and 
varied, and offers many problems of interest to the 
comparative student. We gather that a Holy Marriage 
was part of a religious drama perhaps performed an- 
nually ; for instance, we find reference to the solemn 
nuptials of Ninib and Bau, and to the marriage presents 
given to Bau. 1 In every anthropomorphic polytheism, 
especially when idolatry provides images that could be 
used for religious drama, this ritual act is likely to occur. 
It is recorded of the southern Arabians in the days before 
Islam, an ancient inscription speaking of the marriage 
ceremony of Athtar. 2 It is a marriage of the great God 

1 Vide Tlmrean-Dangin, Vordemsiatische Bibliothek, i. p. 77. 

2 Weber, Arabien vor dem Islam, p. 19. 


and Goddess that according to the most reasonable 
interpretation is represented on the Hittite reliefs of 
Boghaz-Keui. We may conj ecture that it was a ceremony 
of Minoan worship ; a Mycenaean signet -ring shows 
us a seated goddess with a young god standing before 
her and joining his forearm to hers, while both make 
a peculiar gesture with their fingers that may indicate 
troth-plighting ; a also, the later legends and the later 
ritual commemorating the marriages of Aphrodite and 
Ariadne may descend from the pre-Hellenic religious 
tradition. Finally, we have fairly full evidence of the 
same religious act in purely Hellenic cult. The kpo$ 
yoifjuog of Zeus and Hera was enacted in many com- 
munities with certain traits of primitive custom ; 2 
the nuptials of Kore and the lower-world god might 
be found in the ceremonies of certain temples ; 3 while 
the central scene of the Eleusinia, the greater if not 
the lesser, included a Holy Marriage. 4 The Roman 
religion, in the original form of which there may have 
been no marrying or giving in marriage, no family ties 
or genealogies of divinities, no doubt borrowed its " Orci 
nuptiae " from the Greek. But for the other cases, there 
is no need to resort to any theory of borrowing to explain 
a phenomenon so natural at a certain stage of religion. 

Nor is it an important phenomenon, so long as the 
ceremony was enacted merely by puppets or idols, 
as in the Boeotian Daidala. 5 It only begins to be of 
higher significance for the history of religious practice 
and thought, when the part of one of the divinities 
in this drama is played by a human representative. For 
not only does this offer indefinite possibilities of exalta- 

1 Vide Evans in Hell. Journ,, 1901, p. 176. 

2 Cults, L pp. 184-191. 3 Ib., iii. pp, 123-124. 
4 Ib., iii. p. 176 ; cf. vol. iv. p. 34 n. b. 5 Ib., i. pp. 189-190. 


tion for the mortal, but it may engender the mystic 
ideal and practice of communion with the divinity 
through sexual intercourse, which played a great part 
in Phrygian religion, and left a deep impress on early 
Christian symbolism. The question whether the 
Mesopotamian religion presents us with evidence of a 
"holy marriage" solemnised between a mortal and the 
divinity must finally involve the more difficult question 
as to the function and purpose of that strange Mesopo- 
tamian institution of temple-prostitutes. But, leaving 
this latter alone for the moment, we find explicit testi- 
mony in Herodotus to the fact with which we are 
immediately concerned. In describing the great temple 
of Bel at Babylon, 1 he asserts, on the authority of his 
" Chaldean priests/ 5 that the deity chose as his nightly 
partner some native woman, who was supposed to pass 
the night on the couch with him, and who was obliged to 
abstain from all other intercourse with men ; and he 
compares a similar practice of belief found in the temple 
of Zeus in Egyptian Thebes, and in the oracular shrine 
of Apollo at Patara in Lycia. Now Herodotus' trust- 
worthiness in this matter has been doubted by Assyrio- 
logists ; 2 nevertheless, a phrase used in the code of 
Hammurabi concerning a holy woman dedicated to 
temple service, calling her " a wife of Marduk," seems 
to give some colour to the Herodotean statement. 3 
Only, this term might have merely a spiritual-symbolic 
significance, like the designation of a nun as " the bride 
of Christ " ; for the original Babylonian documents have 
supplied as yet, so far as I am aware, no evidence of a 
woman fulfilling the role of Belit, the wife of Bel. 

ii, 181. 

2 Vide, for instance, Dr. Langdon in the Expositor, 1909, p. 143. 

8 Winckler, Die Gesetze Hammurabi, p. 182. 


As regards the adjacent religions, the idea that a 
mortal might enter into this mode of communion with 
the divinity was probably an ancient heritage of the 
Phrygian religions, for it crops up in various forms. The 
priest of Attis was himself called Attis, and, therefore, 
probably had loving intercourse with the goddess, and 
the later mysteries of Kybele extended this idea and 
offered to every votary the glory of a mystic marri- 
age ; 1 it was the unconscious stimulus of an immemo- 
rial tradition that prompted the Phrygian heresiarch 
Montanus to give himself out as the husband of the 
Virgin Mary. 2 It also appears as a fundamental tenet 
of the Sabazian mystery and of the Hellenistic-Egyptian 
Hermetic theosophy. The simple ritual-fact, namely, 
that a woman serves as the bride of the god, could prob- 
ably be traced far afield through many widely distant 
peoples. According to Sahagun, 3 the human sacrifices 
of the Mexicans had sometimes the purpose of 
sending away a woman victim into divine wedlock. 
In pre-Christian Sweden we find a priestess generally 
regarded as the wife of the god Freyr, and enjoying 
considerable power from the connection. 4 Similar 
examples can be quoted from modern savage com- 
munities. Therefore if we find the same institution 
in the Mediterranean, we shall not think it necessary 
to suppose that it was an import from Babylon or from 
any Semitic people. As regards the Minoan worship, 
it is legitimate at least to regard the legend of Pasiphae 
and her amour with the bull-god as an unfortunate 

1 Vide Dieterich, Mithras-Liturgie, pp. 126-127; Reizenstein, Die 

2 Vide Herzog's Real-Encyclop., s.v. " Montanisnms.' 1 

3 Jourdanet et Sim&on transl. of SaJiagnn, pp. 147-148. 

4 Golther, Handbuch der GermaniscTien Mythologie, p. 229 ; cf . 
Manahardt, Baumkuttus, p. 589. 


aetiologic myth distorting the true sense of a ritual 
in which a mortal woman enjoyed this kind of divine 
communion, and here again we should mark a religious 
affinity between Crete and Phrygia. And it is likely 
that the idea was not unfamiliar to the Hellenes, though 
the record of it is scanty and uncertain. According 
to the early Christian fathers, the inspiration of the 
Pythia of Delphi was due to a corporeal union with Apollo 
akin at least to if not identical with sexual inter- 
course. Of more value is Herodotus' definite assertion 
that the priestess of Patara gained her inspiration 
by her nuptial union with Apollo. In the rare cases 
where the cult of a Hellenic god was administered by a 
priestess we may suspect that a /spoV ydfiog was part 
of the temple-ritual ; in the two examples that I have 
been able to find, the cults of Poseidon at Kalaureia 
and of Heracles at Thespiai, the priestess must be a 
maiden, as on this theory would be natural. 1 The 
maiden-priestesses of the Leukippides, the divine brides 
of the Dioskouroi at Sparta, were themselves called 
Leukippides ; in all probability because they were their 
mortal representatives in some ceremony of holy 
marriage. 2 But the most salient and explicitly recorded 
example is the yearly marriage of the Queen-Archon 
at Athens with Dionysos, the bull-god, in the feast of 
Anthesteria, the significance of which I have discussed 
elsewhere. 3 It seems that the Queen by uniting her 
body with the god's, unites to him the whole Athenian 
state and secures its prosperity and fruitfulness ; this 
historic fact may also explain the myth of the union 

1 Pausan., 2, 33, 3; 9, 27, 6 ; cf. my article in Arckiv. fur Religionswiss., 
1904, p. 74 ; E. Fehrle, Die Kultische Keuschheit im AHerthum, p. 223, 
gives other examples which appear to me more doubtful. 

2 Paus., 3, 16, i. 

8 Cults, v. pp. 217-219. 


of Althaia, Queen of Kalydon, with, the same god. 
Finally, let us observe that nothing in any of these 
Hellenic records suggests any element of what we 
should call impurity in the ritual ; we are not told that 
these holy marriages were ever consummated by the 
priest as the human representative of the god ; or that 
the ceremony involved any real loss of virginity in 
the maiden-priestess. The marriage could have been 
consummated symbolically by use of a puppet or image 
of the deity. We may believe that the rite descends 
from pre-Homeric antiquity ; the ritual which the 
Queen-Archon performed might naturally have been 
established at the time of the adoption into Athens 
of the Dionysiac cult, and there are reasons for dating 
this event earlier than 1000 B.C. 1 

We now come to a very difficult and important 
question concerning the position of women in the old 
Mesopotamian temple-ritual. Our first document of 
value is the code of Hammurabi, in which we find 
certain social regulations concerning the status of a 
class of women designated by a name which Winckler 
translates doubtfully as " God's-sisters," regarding it, 
however, as equivalent to consecrated, while Johns trans- 
lates it merely as "votary/ 5 2 At least, we have proof 
of a class of holy women who have certain privileges 
and are under certain restrictions. They were the 
daughters of good families dedicated by their fathers 
to religion ; they could inherit property, which was 
exempt from the burden of army-tax ; they could not 
marry, and were prohibited from setting-up or even 
entering a wine-shop under penalty of death. It is 
something to know even as much as this about them, 

1 Vide Cults, v. p. 109. 

2 Winckler, op. tit., p. no ; Johns, op. cit, t p. 54. 


but we would very gladly learn more. Is it to their 
order that the personage described as " the wife of 
Marduk'' 1 belongs, who has been considered above? 
Is it from among them that the priestesses of Ishtar 
were chosen, who interpreted the oracles of the goddess ? 2 
It seems clear that a father could dedicate his daughter 
to any divinity, that their position was honourable, 
and that they are not to be identified with the temple- 
prostitutes of Babylon or Erech, who excited the wonder 
and often the reprobation of the later Greek world. 
This peculiar order of temple-harlots is also recognised 
according to some of the best authorities 3 in Ham- 
murabi's code, where they are mentioned in the same 
context with the " consecrated " or the " God-sisters," 
and yet are clearly distinct from them ; another clause 
seems to refer to male prostitutes ( 187). Certain rules 
are laid down concerning their inheritance of property, 
and concerning the rearing of their children, if they had 
any, who might be adopted into private families. Evi- 
dently these " Qadishtu " were a permanent institution, 
and there is no hint of any dishonour. There may be 
other references in Babylonian literature to these temple- 
women ; in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the courtesan who 
won over Eabani evidently belongs to the retinue of 
Ishtar of Erech. 

From these two institutions we must distinguish that 
other, for which Herodotus is our earliest authority : 4 
according to his explicit statement, once in her lifetime 
every Babylonian woman, high or low, had to stand in 
the temple-precincts of the goddess Mylitta probably a 

1 Code, 182. 

2 Jastrow, op. cit. t ii 157.* 

3 Vide Winckler's interpretation of 178, 180, 181 ; cf. also 
Zimmern in K.A.T. 3 , 423. 

4 i, 199- 


functional appellative of Ishtar, meaning "the helper 
of childbirth " and to prostitute herself to any stranger 
who threw money into her lap and claimed her with 
the formula, <c I invoke the goddess Mylitta for you." 
Herodotus hastens to assure us that this single act of 
unchastity which took place outside the temple did 
not afterwards lower the morality of the women, who, 
as he declares, were otherwise exemplary in this respect. 
But he is evidently shocked by the custom, and the 
early Christian and modern writers have quoted it as 
the worst example of gross pagan or Oriental licentious- 
ness. Some devoted Assyriologists have tried to throw 
doubt on the historian's veracity : 1 the wish is father 
to the thought : and it is indeed difficult for the 
ordinary civilised man to understand how an ancient 
civilisation of otherwise advanced morality could have 
sanctioned such a practice. But Herodotus* testimony 
ought not to be so impugned ; nor is it sufficient evidence 
for rejecting it that no reference to the custom which 
he describes has been found hitherto in the cuneiform 
literature. Strabo merely repeats what Herodotus 
has said ; but independent evidence of some value is 
gathered from the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremias : 2 
" The women also with cords about them sit in the ways, 
burning bran for incense ; but if any of them, drawn 
by some that pass by, lie with them, she reproacheth 
her fellow that she was not thought as worthy as herself, 
nor her cord broken/' The context is altogether 
religious, and this is no ordinary secular immorality ; 
certain details in the narrative remind us of Herodotus, 
and make it clear that the writer has in mind the same 
social usage that the historian vouches for. This usage 
may be described as the consecration to the goddess of 

1 E.g. Zimmern ia K.A.T.*, p. 423. 2 Verse 43. 


the first-fruits of the woman f s virginity before marriage ; 
for, though Herodotus does not explicitly say that it 
was a rite preliminary to marriage, yet the records of 
similar practices elsewhere in Asia Minor assure us on 
this point. 

We have now to begin the comparative search in 
the adjacent regions, keeping distinct the three types 
of consecration which I have specified above, which are 
too often confused. 1 

The first type has its close analogies with the early 
Christian, mediaeval, and modern conventual life of 
women. The code of Hammurabi presents us with the 
earliest example of what may be called the religious 
sisterhood ; the Babylonian votaries were dedicated to 
religion, and while the Christian nuns are often called 
the brides of Christ, their earliest prototypes enjoyed 
the less questionable title of " God's-sisters." We 
find no exact parallel to this practice in ancient Greece ; 
from the earliest period, no doubt, the custom prevailed 
of consecrating individual women of certain families as 
priestesses to serve certain cults, and sometimes chastity 
was enforced upon them ; but these did not form a 
conventual society ; and usually, apart from their 
occasional religious duties, they could lead a secular 
life. In fact, the monastic system was of Eastern origin 
and only reached Europe in later times, being opposed 

1 The first to insist emphatically on the necessity of their distinc- 
tion was Mr. Hartland, in Anthropological Essays presented to E. B. 
TyloY, pp. 190-191; but he has there, I think, wrongly classified through 
a misunderstanding of a phrase in Aelian the Lydian custom that 
Herodotus (r, 93) and Aelian (Var. Hist., iv. i) refer to ; both these 
writers mention the custom of the women of Lydia practising pros- 
titution before marriage. Aelian does not mention the motive that 
Herodotus assigns, the collection of a dowry; neither associates it 
with religion. Aelian merely adds that when once married the 
Lydian women were virtuous ; this need have nothing to do with the 


to the civic character of the religion of the old Aryan 

The second class of consecrated women served as 
temple-harlots in certain cult-centres of Asia Minor. 
We cannot say that the custom in all cases emanated 
from Babylon ; for there is reason to think that it was a 
tradition attaching to the cult of the goddess among the 
polytheistic Semitic stocks. We have clear allusions 
in the Bible to temple-prostitution practised by both 
sexes in the Canaanite communities adjacent to the 
Israelites, who were themselves sometimes contaminated 
by the practice. 1 We hear of " hierodouli " among the 
pagan Arabs, 2 of women " of the congregation of the 
people of Astarte " at Carthage, 3 of numbers of dedicated 
slave women in the cult of Aphrodite at Eryx, 4 which 
was at least semi-Semitic ; and it is likely that some 
of these at least were devoted to the impure religious 
practice. As regards non-Semitic worships, it is only 
clearly attested of two, namely, of the worship of Ma 
at Comana in Pontos, 5 and of Aphrodite Ourania in 
Corinth. 6 In these cases we have the right to assume 
Semitic influences at work ; for we do not find traces 
of this practice in the ancient cult of Kybele ; and Ma 
of Cappadocia and Pontus, who had affinities with her, 
was partly contaminated with Anahita, a Persian 
goddess, who had taken on Babylonian fashions. Nor 
can we doubt that the practice gained recognition at 
Corinth in post-Homeric times through its Oriental 
trade ; for it was attached to the cult of Aphrodite 

1 E.g. Hosea iv. 13 ; Deut. xxiii. 18 ; i Kings xiv. 24. 

2 Weber, Ardbien vor dem Islam, p. 18. 

3 C. 7. Sem., i, 263. 

4 Strab., 272. 

5 Strab., 559. 

6 Find. Frag., 87 ; Strab., 378 ; (Cults, il p. 746, R. 992). 


Ourania, whose personality, partly at least, was identical 
with that of the Semitic goddess. The practice sur- 
vived in Lydia in the later period of the Graeco-Roman 
culture. For a woman of Tralles, by name Aurelia 
Aemilia, erected a column with an inscription that 
has been published by /Sir William Ramsay, 1 in which 
she proclaims with pride that she had prostituted 
herself in the temple service " at the command of an 
oracle/' and that her female ancestors had done like- 
wise. Finally, we may find the cult-practice reflected in 
certain legends ; in the legend of Iconium, for instance, 
of the woman who enticed all strangers to her embraces 
and afterwards slew them, but was herself turned to 
stone by Perseus, and whose stone image gave the name 
to the State. 2 

The other custom recorded by Herodotus of 
Babylon, the consecration of the first-fruits of virginity 
to the goddess before marriage, which I have con- 
sidered as distinct from the foregoing, may often have 
been combined or confused with it ; for the temple- 
harlotry, carried on for some considerable period, 
might be occasionally a preliminary to marriage. The 
most exact parallels to the Babylonian custom are found 
in the records of Byblos, Cyprus, and the Syrian Helio- 
polis or Baalbec. Lucian attests the rule prevailing 
at Byblos, that in the festival of Adonis women ex- 
posed themselves for purchase on one single day, and 

1 Cities and Bishoprics, I 94. In his comment he rightly points 
out that the woman is Lydian, as her name is not genuine Roman ; 
but he is wrong in speaking of her service as performed to a god 
(Frazer, Adonis, etc., p. 34, follows him). This would be a unique fact, 
for the service in Asia Minor is always to a goddess ; but the inscrip- 
tion neither mentions nor implies a god. The bride of Zeus at Egyptian 
Thebes was also a temple-harlot, if we could believe Strabo, p. 816 ; 
but on this point he contradicts Herodotus, i, 182. 

z Et. Mag., s.v. 'i 



that only strangers were allowed to enjoy them ; but 
that this service was only imposed upon them if they 
refused to cut off their hair in lamentation for Adonis. 1 
Similarly the Byzantine historian Sozomenos declared 
that at Heliopolis (Baalbec), in the temple of Astarte, 
each maiden was obliged to prostitute herself before 
marriage, until the custom and the cult were abolished 
by Constantine. 2 The statements about Cyprus, though 
less explicit, point to the same institution : Herodotus, 
having described at length the Babylonian practice, 
declares that it prevailed in Cyprus also, and Justin 3 
that it was a custom of the Cyprians " to send their 
virgins before marriage on fixed days to the shore, 
to earn their dowry by prostitution, so as to pay a 
first-offering to Venus for their virtue henceforth (pro 
reliqua pudicitia libarnenta Veneri soluturas)." The 
procession to the shore may indicate the rule that 
intercourse was only allowed them with strangers, 4 
and nothing points to prolonged prostitution. It is 
probably the same rite that the Locrians of the West 
vowed to perform in honour of Aphrodite in the event 

1 De Dea Syr., 6 ; cf. Aug. De Civ. Dei, 4, 10 : " cui (Veneri) etiam 
Phoenices doimm dabant de prostitutione filiarum, antequam eas jun- 
gerent viris " : religious prostitution before marriage prevailed among 
the Carthaginians in the worship of Astarte (Valer. Max., 2, ch. i, sub. 
fin. : these vague statements may refer either to defloration of virgins 
or prolonged service in the temple). 

2 See Frazer, op. cit., p. 33, n. i, quoting Sozomen. Hist. Eccles., 
5, 10, 7 ; Sokrates, Hist. Eccles., i, 18, 7-9 ; Euseb. Vita Constantin., 3, 
58. Eusebius only vaguely alludes to it. Sokrates merely says that 
the wives were in common, and that the people had the habit of giving 
over the virgins to strangers to violate. Sozomenos is the only 
voucher for the religious aspect of the practice ; from Sokrates we 
gather that the rule about strangers was observed in the rite. 

9 18, 5- 

* This is confirmed by the legend given by Apollodoros (Bibl., 3, 
14, 3) that the daughters of Kinyras, owing to the wrath of Aphrodite, 
had sexual intercourse with strangers. 


of deliverance from a dangerous war. 1 But in the 
worship of Anaitis at Akilisene in Armenia, according 
to Strabo, 2 the unmarried women served as temple- 
harlots for an indefinite time until they married ; and 
Aurelia Aemilia of Tralles may have been only main- 
taining the same ancient ritual in Lydia. In these 
two countries, then, it seems as if there had been a fusion 
of two institutions that elsewhere were distinct one 
from another, harlot-service for a prolonged period 
in a temple, and the consecration of each maiden's 
virginity as a preliminary to marriage. 

Such institutions mark the sharpest antagonism 
between the early religious sentiment of the East and 
the West. Of no European State is there any record, 
religious or other, that the sacrifice before marriage 
of a woman's virginity to a mortal was at any time 
regarded as demanded by temple ritual. Such a rite 
was abhorrent to the genuine Hellenic, as it was to 
the Hebraic, spirit ; and only in later times do we find 
one or two Hellenic cult-centres catching the taint of 
the Oriental tradition : while such legends as that 
of Melanippos and Komaitho and the story of Laokoon's 
sin express the feeling of horror which any sexual licence 
in a temple aroused in the Greek, 3 

1 Justin, 21, 3 ; Athenaeus, 516 A, speaks vaguely, as if the women 
of the Lokri Epizephyrii were promiscuous prostitutes. 

2 Pp. 532-533. 

3 The lovers, Melanippos and Komaitho, sin in the temple of 
Artemis Triklaria of the lonians in Achaia ; the whole community is 
visited with the divine wrath, and the sinners are offered up as a 
piacular sacrifice (Paus., 7, 19, 3) ; according to Euphorion, Laokoon's 
fate was due to a similar trespass committed with his wife before the 
statue of Apollo (Serv* A en., 2, 201). It may be that such legends 
faintly reflect a very early tepte ydpos once performed in temples 
by the priest and priestess : if so, they also express the repugnance 
of the later Hellene to the idea of it ; and in any case this is not the 
institution that is being discussed. 


It is imperative to try to understand the original 
purpose or significance of the Semitic and Anatolian 
rites that we have been dealing with. To regard them 
as the early Christian and some modern writers have 
done, as mere examples of unbridled Oriental lust 
masquerading in the guise of religion, is a false and 
unjust view. According to Herodotus, the same society 
that ordained this sacrifice of virginity upon the 
daughters of families maintained in other respects a 
high standard of virtue, which appears also attested 
by Babylonian religious and secular documents. Modern 
anthropology has handled the problem with greater 
insight and seriousness ; but certain current explana- 
tions are not convincing. To take the rite described 
by Herodotus first, which is always to be distinguished 
from the permanent institution of "hierodulai " in the 
sense of temple-harlots : Mannhardt, who was the first 
to apply modern science to the problem, explained it 
as a development of vegetation-ritual. 1 Aphrodite and 
Adonis, Ishtar and Tammuz, represent vegetation, and 
their yearly union causes general fertility ; the women 
are playing the part of the goddess, and the stranger 
represents Adonis ! The Babylonian rite, then, is partly 
religious piling, the human acting of a divine drama, 
partly religious magic good for the crops. But in spite 
of Mannhardt's great and real services to science, his 
vegetation-theory leads him often astray, and only 
one who was desperately defending a thesis would 
explain that stranger, a necessary personage in the 
ritual at Babylon, Byblos, Cyprus, and Baalbec, 
as the native god. There is no kind of reason for 
connecting the Babylonian rite with Tammuz, or 
for supposing that the women were representing 

1 Antike Wald u. FeU Kulte, p. 285, etc. 


the goddess, 1 or that their act directly influenced 
the crops, except in the sense that all due perform- 
ance of religious ceremonies has been considered at 
certain stages of belief as favouring the prosperity 
of the land. Sir William Ramsay, in his Cities and 
Bishoprics of Phrygia* would explain the custom as 
preserving the tradition of the communism of women 
before regular marriage was instituted. Dr. Frazer, 
who has dealt more fully with the question, accepts 
this explanation, 3 as he also accepts Mannhardt's in 
full ; and, while he associates as I think, wrongly the 
Babylonian rite with general temple-prostitution, he 
adds a third suggestion, prompted by his theory of 
kingship : the king himself might have to mate with 
one or more of the temple-harlots " who played Astarte 
to his Adonis " : 4 such unions might serve to maintain 
the supply of human deities, one of whom might succeed 
to the throne, and another might be sacrificed in his 
father's stead when religion demanded the life of the 
royal man-god. I do not find this theory coherent 
even with itself ; and, like the others, it fails to explain 
all the facts, and, on the other hand, it imagines data 
which are not given us by the records. 

That state of communism when sexual union was 
entirely promiscuous is receding further and further into 
the anthropological background : it is dangerous to predi- 
cate it of the most backward Anatolian State in any 
period which can come into our ken. When the Byzantine 
Sokrates gravely tells us that the men of Heliopolis 

1 Why should not the priestess rather play the part of the goddess, 
and why, if we trust Plutarch (Vit. Artaxevx., 27), was the priestess of 
Anaitis at Ekbatana, to whose temple harlots were attached, obliged 
to observe chastity after election ? 

2 Vol. i. pp. 94-96. 

8 Op. cit., p. 35, etc. 4 Op. cit., p. 44. 


had their wives in common, he does not know what 
he is saying. And if this sacrifice of virginity before 
marriage was a recognition of the original rights of 
all the males of the community, why did not some 
representative of the community take the virginity, 
the priest or some head-man? This ill-considered 
sociologic hypothesis shipwrecks on that mysterious 
stranger. 1 

Prof. Westermarck, in his Origin and Development of 
the Moral Ideas, 2 regards the Mylitta-rite as intended to 
ensure fertility in women through direct appeal to the 
goddess of fertility, and he explains the formula which 
the stranger uttered ssr/fcaXiaj rot rqv 6ew Mfo/rra 
as signifying generally " May the goddess Mylitta 
prosper thee." Obviously the phrase, " I invoke the 
goddess for thee/' could as naturally mean, " I claim 
thee in the name of the goddess," the stranger basing 
his right to the woman on this appeal. But his general 
theory appears not so unsound as those which have just 
been noted. 

The comparative method ought to help us here ; 
and though we have no exact parallel, as far as I am 
aware, recorded of any people outside the Mediterranean 
area to the Babylonian custom, we find usages reported 
elsewhere that agree with it in one essential. Lubbock 
quotes instances from modern India of the rule imposed 
upon women of presenting themselves before marriage 
in the temple of Juggernaut for the purpose as he 
implies of offering up their virginity, though no such 
custom is recorded in the Vedic period of religion ; 3 
cases also are chronicled of the rule prevailing among 

1 1 pointed out this objection in an article in the Avchiv. /. Relig. 
Wissensch., 1904, p. 81 ; Mr. S. Hartland has .also, independently, 
developed it (op. cit., p. 191). 

2 Vol. ii. p. 446. 3 Origin of Civilisation, pp. 535-537. 


uncultured or semi-cultured tribes that the medicine- 
man or the priest should take the virginity of the bride 
before the marriage ceremony. 1 These are probably 
illustrations of the working of the same idea as that 
which inspired the Babylonian custom. Marriage in- 
volves the entering upon a new state ; change of life 
is generally dangerous, and must be safeguarded by 
what Van Gennep has called " rites de passage " ; 
more especially is the sexual union with a virgin 
dangerous and liable to be regarded with awe by 
primitive sentiment ; before it is safe to marry her, 
the tabu that is upon her must first be removed by 
a religious act securing the divinity's sanction for the 
removal ; just as the ripe cornfield must not be reaped 
before religious rites, such as the consecration of first- 
fruits, have loosened the tabu upon it : we may believe 
that Hellenic marriage ritual secured the same end as 
the Babylonian by what seems to us the more innocent 
method of offering the TporiXs/a. So the Babylonian 
safeguards the coming marriage by offering the first- 
fruits of his daughter to the goddess who presides over 
the powers and processes of life and birth. Under her 
protection, after appeal to her, the process loses its special 
danger ; or if there is danger still, it falls upon the head 
of the stranger. 2 For I can find no other way of account- 

1 Vide Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, p. 76. 

2 Mr. Hartland objects (loc. cit., p. 200) to this explanation on the 
ground that the stranger would dislike the danger as much as any one 
else ; but the rite may have arisen among a Semitic tribe who were 
peculiarly sensitive to that feeling of peril, while they found that the 
usual stranger was sceptical and more venturesome : when once the 
rule was established, it could become a stereotyped convention. His 
own suggestion (p. 201) that a stranger was alone privileged, lest the 
solemn act should become a mere love-affair with a native lover, does 
not seem to me so reasonable ; to prevent that, the act might as well 
have been performed by a priest. Dr. Frazer in his new edition of 
Adonis, etc. (pp. 50-54), criticises my explanation, which I first put 


ing for his presence as a necessary agent, in the ritual 
of at least four widely separate communities of Semitic 
race : this comparative ubiquity prevents us explaining 
it as due to some capricious accidental impulse of 
delicacy, as if the act would become less indelicate if a 
stranger who would not continue in the place participated 
in it. 

In his essay on the question, Mr. Hartland explains 
the Babylonian rite as belonging to the class of puberty- 
ceremonies ; nor would this account of it conflict with 
the view here put forth, if, as he maintains, primitive 
puberty-ceremonies to which girls are subjected are 
usually preliminary to the marriage which speedily 
follows. 1 But puberty-ceremonies are generally per- 
formed at initiation-mysteries, and none of the rites 
that we are considering appear to have been associated 
with mysteries except, perhaps, at Cyprus, where the 
late record speaks of mysteries instituted by Kinyras 
that had a sexual significance, and which may have been 
the occasion of the consecration of virginity that Justin 
describes ; 2 but the institution of mysteries has not 

forth but with insufficient clearness in t~h.QArcMv.fur Religionswissen- 
schaft (1904, p. 88), mainly on the ground that^it does not naturally 
apply to general temple-prostitution nor to the prostitution of married 
women. But it was never meant to apply to these, but only to the 
defloration of virgins before marriage. Dr. Frazer also argues that 
the account of Herodotus does not show that the Babylonian rite was 
limited to virgins. Explicitly it does not, but implicitly it does ; for 
Herodotus declares that it was an isolated act, and therefore to be 
distinguished from temple-prostitution of indefinite duration ; and he 
adds that the same rite was performed in Cyprus, which, as the other 
record clearly attests, was the defloration of virgins by strangers. 
Sozomenos and Sokrates attest the same of the Baalbec rite, and 
Eusebius's vague words are not sufficient to contradict them. One rite 
might easily pass into the other ; but our theories as to the original 
meaning of different rites should observe the difference. 

1 But vide Gennep, Les Rites de passage, p. 100. 

2 Cf. Arnob. Adv. Gent., 5, 19, with Finnic. Matern. De Error., 10, 
and Clemens, Protrept., c. 2, p, 12, Pott. 


yet been proved for any purely Semitic religion. In any 
case, Mr. Hartland's statement does not explain why 
the loss of virginity should be considered desirable in 
a puberty-ceremony or as a preliminary to marriage. 

The significance of the action, as I have interpreted it, 
is negative rather than positive, the avoidance of a 
vague peril or the removal of a tabu rather than the 
attainment of the blessing of fertility, as Dr. Wester- 
mar ck would regard it. And this idea, the removal of a 
tabu, seems expressed in the phrase of Herodotus * by 
which he describes the state of the woman after the 
ceremony &vroffiuffK(*ewi r% 6t ; and the parallel 
that I have suggested, the consecration of the first- 
fruits of the harvest to remove the tabu from the 
rest of the crop, is somewhat justified by the words of 
Justin already quoted " pro reliqua pudicitia libamenta 
Veneri soluturas." 

As regards the other institution, the maintenance of 
" hierodoulai " in temples as " consecrated " women, 
" kadeschim/' unmarried, who for a period of years 
indulged in sexual intercourse with visitors, the original 
intention and significance of it is hard to decide. We may 
be sure that it did not originate in mere profligacy, and 
the inscription of Tralles shows that even in the later 
Roman period it had not lost its religious prestige. 2 
Such a custom could naturally arise in a society that 
allowed freedom of sexual intercourse among young 
unmarried persons and this is not uncommonly found 
at a primitive level of culture and that was devoted 
to the worship of a goddess of sexual fertility. The 
rituals in the temples of Ishtar of Erech, Anaitis of 

1 1, 199- 

2 The lady who there boasts of her prostitute-ancestresses describes 
them also as " of unwashed feet " ; and this is a point of asceticism 
and holiness. 


Armenia, Ma of Comana, must have been instituted 
for some national and social purpose ; therefore Mr. 
Hartland's suggestion, that the original object of the 
Armenian rite was to give the maidens a chance of 
securing themselves a suitable husband by experience, 
seems insufficient. Dr. Frazer's theory, that connects 
the institution with some of the mystic purposes of king- 
ship, 1 floats in the air ; for there is not a particle of 
evidence showing any relation between these women 
and the monarch or the royal harem or the monarch- 
ical succession or the death of a royal victim. A 
simpler suggestion is that the " hierodoulai," or temple- 
women, were the human vehicles for diffusing through 
the community the peculiar virtue or potency of the 
goddess, the much-coveted blessing of human fertility. 
Thus to consecrate slaves or even daughters to this 
service was a pious social act. 

The significance of the facts that we have been 
examining is of the highest for the history of religious 
morality, especially for the varied history of the idea 
of purity. We call this temple-harlotry vile and impure ; 
the civilised Babylonian, who in private life valued 
purity and morality, called the women " kadistu," 
that is, " pure " or clean in the ritualistic sense, or as 
Zimmern interprets the ideogram, " not unclean." 2 
In fact, the Mediterranean old-world religions, all save 
the Hebraic, agreed in regarding the processes of the 
propagation of life as divine, at least as something not 
alien or abhorrent to godhead. But the early Christian 
propagandists, working here on Hebraic lines, intensified 
the isolation of God from the simple phenomena of 
birth, thereby engendering at times an anti-sexual bias, 
and preparing a discord between any possible biological 

1 Op. cit., p. 199. 2 K.A.T*, p. 423. 


view and the current religious dogma, and modern 
ethical thought has not been wholly a gainer thereby. 
The subject that has been discussed at some length 
is also connected with the whole question of ritual-purity 
and purification. The primitive conception of purity had 
at an early stage in its evolution been adopted by higher 
religion ; and the essential effect of impurity was to debar 
a person from intercourse with God and with his fellow- 
men. Hence arises a code of rules to regulate temple- 
ritual. So far as I am aware, the Babylonian rules for 
safeguarding the purity of the shrines were not con- 
spicuously different from the Greek or the Hebraic. 1 
The taint of bloodshed and other physical impurities 
was kept aloof ; and it is in the highest degree probable 
that the function of the " hetairai " was only performed 
outside the temple, for Herodotus specially tells us 
that this rule was observed in the Myiitta-rite. The 
cathartic methods of East and West agree in many 
points. The use of holy water for purifying purposes 
was known to the early Greeks. 2 It was still more in 
evidence in the Babylonian ritual : the holy water of 
the Euphrates or Tigris was used for a variety of purposes, 
for the washing of the king's hands before he touched 
the statues, for the washing of the idol's mouths, 3 

1 Vide supra, p. 163. The writer of the late apocryphal document, 
** The Epistle of Jeremy," makes it a reproach to the Babylonian cult 
that " women set meat before the gods " (v. 30), and " the menstruous 
woman and the woman in child-bed touch their sacrifices " (v, 29), 
meaning, perhaps, that there was nothing to prevent the Babylonian 
priestess being in that condition. But we cannot trust him for exact 
knowledge of these matters. Being a Jew, he objects to the ministra- 
tion of women. The Babylonian and Hellene were wiser, and admitted 
them to the higher functions of religion. 

2 Vide Cults , iv. p. 301. 

3 Vide Inscription of Sippar in British Museum, concerning the 
re-establishment of cult of Shamash by King Nabupaladdin, 884- 
860 B.C. (Jeremias, Die Cultus-Tafel von Sippar). 


perhaps also for baptism. For we hear of some such 
rite in a hymn to Enlil translated by Dr. Langdon I the 
line that he renders " Son whom in the sacred bowl she 
baptized/' seems to refer to a human child. Ablution 
was prominent also in the exorcism-ritual, and the 
" House of Washing " or " House of Baptism " was the 
centre of a liturgy that had for its object deliverance from 
demons. 2 The whole State was at times purified by 
water. 3 And in all this ritual the water must itself 
be of a peculiar purity rain-water, for instance, 4 or 
the water of the Euphrates, whence came probably 
the Water of Life that was kept in Marduk's temple 
with which the Gods and the Annunaki washed their 
faces, and which was used in the feast of the Doom- 
fixing. 5 According to the Babylonian view ordinary 
water was naturally impure (we may well believe that 
it was so at Babylon, where the river and canals were 
so pressed into the service of man), and a person 
incurred impurity by stepping over a puddle or other 
unpurified water. 6 The Greek did not need to be so 
scrupulous, for most water in his land was naturally 
pure, being spring or brook ; yet in his cathartic rules 
we find often that only a special water was suitable 
for the religious purpose, running water especially, 
or sea-water, or in a particular locality one sacred 
fountain only. 7 But though it was to him as to most 

1 Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 75. 

2 Vide Langdon in Transactions of Congress for the History of 
Religions (1908), vol. i. p. 250. 

8 Vide Zeitung fur Assyriologie, 1910, p. 157. 

4 Formula for driving out the demon of sickness, " Bread at his 
head place, rain-water at his feet place " (Langdon, ib. p. 252). 

5 Delitsch, Worterbuch, i. 79-80. 

6 Zeit. fur Assyr., 1910, p. 157. 

7 Vide Hippocrates (Littre), vi. 362 ; Stengel, Griechischer Kultus- 
altertumer (Iwan Muller's Handbuch, p, no). 


peoples, the simple and natural means of purification, 
he did not apply it to such various cathartic purposes 
as the Babylonian. Nor as far as we can discover had 
he developed in old days the interesting rite of baptism : 
we hear of it first in the records of the fifth century, and 
in relation to alien cults like that of the Thracian goddess 
Kotytto. 1 

Equally prominent in the cathartic ritual of Meso- 
potamia was the element of fire : in the prayer that 
followed upon the purification-ceremonies we find the 
formula, " May the torch of the gleaming Fire-God cleanse 
me." 2 The Fire-God, Nusku, is implored " to burn 
away the evil magicians/' 3 and we may believe that 
he owes his development and exalted position as a high 
spiritual god to the ritual use of fire, just as in the Vedic 
religion did Agni. The conception of fire as a mighty 
purifying element, which appears in the Old and New 
Testaments and in Christian eschatology, has arisen, no 
doubt, from the cathartic ritual of the ancient Semites. 
Doubtless also the spiritual or magic potency of this 
element was known in ancient Europe : it is clearly 
revealed in the primitive ceremonies of the old German 
" Notfeuer," with which the cattle, fields, and men were 
purified in time of pestilence. 4 And there are several 
indications of its use in Greek cathartic ritual ; a note- 
worthy example is the purification of Lemnos by the 
bringing of holy fire from Delos ; 5 the curious Attic 
ritual of running with the new-born babe round the 

1 Referred to in the comedy of Eupolis called the " Baptai." 

2 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 500. 

3 Op. cit. t p. 297, 487; the priest-exorciser, the Ashipu, uses a 
brazier in the expulsion of demons. 

4 Vide Golther, Handbuch der Gevmanischen Mythologie, p. 580 ; 
cf . my Cults, v. p. 196. 

5 Cults, vol. v. pp. 383-384 ; cf. iv. p. 301. 


hearth, called the Amphidromia, may have had a similar 
intention ; l even the holy water, the %gpv/%//, seems to 
have been hallowed by the insertion of a torch ; 2 and 
in the later records fire is often mentioned among the 
usual implements of cleansing. 3 The Eleusinian myth 
concerning Demeter holding the infant Demophon in 
the flame to make him immortal was suggested probably 
by some purificatory rite in which fire was used. Finally, 
the fire-ordeal, which was practised both in Babylonia 
and Greece, 4 may have been associated at a certain 
period with the cathartic properties of fire. Neverthe- 
less, the Hellenic divinities specially concerned with this 
element, Hestia and Hephaistos, had little personal 
interest in this ritual, and did not rise to the same 
height in the national theology as Nusku rose in the 

We might find other coincidences in detail between 
Hellenic and Assyrian ritual, such as the purificatory 
employment of salt, onions, and the sacrificial skin of 
the animal-victim. 5 One of the most interesting phen- 
omena presented by the cathartic law of old Babylonia 

1 Cults, v. p. 356 ; cf. p. 363 (the purifying animal carried round 
the hearth). 

3 Eur. Here, Fur., 928. 

3 Dio Chrys. Or., 48 (Dind., vol. ii. p. 144), TrepimQtfpavTes TTJV ir6\iv /*?/ 
ffKlXKy [jL^k 80,81, TroXi) S KadapcaTfyip xp-^art r \6yq> (cf. Lucian, Menipp,, 
c. 7, use of squills and torches in "katharsis," (?) Babylonian or 
Hellenic) ; Serv. ad Aen., 6, 741, "in sacris omnibus tres sunt istae 
purgationes, nam aut taeda purgant aut sulphure aut aqua abluunt 
aut aere ventilant." 

4 " To take fire and swear by God " is a formula that occurs in 
the third tablet of Surpu ; vide Zimmern, Beitrage zuv Kenntniss BabyL 
Relig., p. 13 ; cf. Soph. Antig., 264. 

5 Salt used as a means of exorcism in Babylonia as early as the 
third millennium (vide Langdon, Transactions of Congress Hist. Relig., 
1908, vol. i. p. 251) ; the fell " of the great ox " used to purify the 
palace of the king (vide Zimmern, Beitrage, p. 123 ; compare the Aids 
xtpfaov in Greek ritual). 


is a rule that possessed an obvious moral value ; we 
find, namely, on one of the cylinders of Gudea, that 
during the period when Gudea was purifying the city 
the master must not strike the slave, and no action at 
law must be brought against any one ; for seven days 
perfect equality reigned, no bad word was uttered, the 
widow and the Orphan went free from wrong. 1 The 
conception underlying this rule is intelligible : all 
quarrelling and oppression, being often accompanied 
with bloodshed and death, disturbs the general purity 
which is desired to prevail ; and I have indicated else- 
where a similar law regulating the conduct of the 
Eleusinian mysteries and the Dionysiac festival at 
Athens, both ceremonies of cathartic value, 2 and I 
have pointed out a similar ordinance observed recently 
by a North-American Indian tribe, and formerly by 
the Peruvians ; to these instances may be added the 
statement by Livy, 3 that in the Roman " lectisternia," 
when a table with offerings was laid before the gods, 
no quarrelling was allowed and prisoners were released, 
and the historian gives to the institution of the lectis- 
ternia a piacular significance. 

We must also bear in mind certain striking differences 
between the Hellenic and the Babylonian cathartic 
systems. In certain purification-ceremonies of Hellas, 
those in which the homicide was purged from his stain, 
the washing with the blood of the piacular victim was 
the most potent means of grace. 4 We may find analogies 
in Vedic, Roman, and Hebraic ritual, but hitherto 
none have been presented by the religious documents 

1 Vide Tlrureau-Dangin, Cylindres de Goudea, pp. 29, 93. 

2 Vide Evolution of Religion, pp. 113, 114, 117 ; Cults, v. p. 322 
(Schol. Demosth., 22, p. 68). 

3 5, 13. 6. 

4 Vide Cults, iii. pp. 303-304 ; Evolution of Religion, p. 121. 


of Babylon, where, as has been already pointed out, 
scarcely any mystic use appears to have been made of 
the blood of the victim. 1 Again, the Babylonian purifica- 
tion included the confession of sins, a purgation unknown 
and apparently unnatural to the Hellene ; 2 and generally 
the Babylonian, while most of its methods, like the 
Hellenic, are modes of transference or physical riddance 
of impurity, had a higher spiritual and religious signifi- 
cance ; for it includes lamentations for sin and prayers 
to the divinity that are not mentioned in the record of 
any Greek " katharsis." 

A long ritual-document is preserved containing the 
details of the purification of the king : 3 certain forms 
agree with the Hellenic, but one who was only versed 
in the latter would find much that was strange and 
unintelligible both in the particulars and in general 
atmosphere. We discern an interesting mixture of 
magic and religion. The gods are partly entreated, 
partly bribed, partly constrained ; and at the end the 
evil is physically expelled from the palace. The purifier 
puts on dark garments, just as the ministers of the 
underworld-deities did occasionally in Greece. The 
king himself performs much of the ceremony, and utters 
words of power : " May my sins be rent away, may I 
be pure and live before Shamash." The ordering of 
the cathartic apparatus is guided partly by astrology. 
It is curious also to find that every article used in the 
process is identified by name with some divinity : the 
cypress is the god Adad, the fragrant spices the god 
Ninib, the censer the god Ib, etc. ; and the commentary 
that accompanies the ritual-text explains that these 

1 Vide supra, p. 146. 

2 Vide Cults, iii. p. 167. 

3 Published in Zimmern's Beitrage, p. 123 ; cf. Weber, Damomn- 
beschwdvung, pp. 17-19. 


substances compel the deities thus associated with them 
to come and give aid. 

In fact, the differences between East and West 
in this religious sphere are so important that we should 
not be able to believe that the cathartic system of 
Greece was borrowed from Babylonia, even if the points 
of resemblance were much more numerous and striking 
than they are. For it would be possible to draw up 
a striking list of coincidences between Hellenic and 
Vedic cathartic rites, and yet no one would be able on 
the strength of it to establish a hypothesis of borrowing. 

In any case, it may be said, the question of borrowing 
does not arise within the narrow limits of our inquiry, 
which is limited to the pre-Homeric period, since all 
Greek " katharsis " is post-Homeric. The latter dictum 
is obviously not literally true, as a glance through the 
Homeric poems will prove. Homer is aware of the 
necessity of purification by water before making prayer 
or libation to the gods : Achilles washes his hands and 
the cups before he pours forth wine and prays to Zeus, 1 
Telemachos washes his hands in sea-water before he 
prays to Athena 2 ; and there is a significant account 
of the purification of the whole Achaean host after the 
plague ; 3 as the later Greeks would have done, the 
Achaeans throw away into the sea their Xvparu, the 
infected implements of purification, wool or whatever 
they used, that absorbed the evil from them. But it 
has been generally observed that Homer does not 
appear to have been aware of any need for purification 
from the stain of bloodshed or from the ghostly contagion 
of death. It is true that Odysseus purifies his hall with 
fire and sulphur after slaying the suitors, but we are 
not sure that the act had any further significance than 

1 II,, xvi. 228. 2 Od.> ii. 261, * II., i. 313. 

I 9 


the riddance of the smell of blood from the house. 
Sulphur is there called KOMM &%og, 1 " a remedy against 
evil things " ; but we cannot attach any moral or 
spiritual sense to %a%d, nor is Homeric *a0apor/$ re- 
lated, as far as we can see, to any animistic belief. 
There is one passage where Homer's silence is valuable 
and gives positive evidence ; Theoklumenos, who has 
slain a man of his own tribe and fled from his home, 
in consequence approaches Telemachos when the latter 
is sacrificing and implores and receives his protection : 
there is no hint of any feeling that there is a stain upon 
him, or that he needs purification, or that his presence 
pollutes the sacrifice. 2 All this would have been felt 
by the later Greek ; and in the post-Homeric period 
we have to reckon with a momentous growth of the 
idea of impurity and of a complex system of purifica- 
tion, especially in regard to homicide, leading to im- 
portant developments in the sphere of law and morality 
which I have tried to trace out on other occasions. 3 
But Homer may well be regarded as the spokesman of 
a gifted race, the Achaeans, as we call them, on whom 
the burden of the doctrine of purification lay lightly, 
and for whom the ghostly world had comparatively 
little terror or interest. Besides the Achaeans, however, 
and their kindred races there was the submerged popula- 
tion of the older culture who enter into the composition 
of the various Hellenes of history. Therefore the varied 
development in the post-Homeric period of cathartic 
ideas may be only a renaissance, a recrudescence of 
forces that were active enough in the second millennium. 

1 Od., xxii. 481 : In the passage referred to above, Achilles uses 
sulphur to purify the cups. 

2 Od., xiii. 256-281 : This is rightly pointed out by Stengel in his 
Griechiscbe Kultusaltertumer, p. 107. 

3 Evolution of Religion, pp. 139-152 ; Cults, iv. pp. 295-306. 


Attica may have been the home where the old tradi- 
tion survived, and cathartic rites such as the Thargelia 
and the trial of the axe for murder in the Bouphonia 
have the savour of great antiquity. May not the 
Minoan religion of Crete have been permeated with 
the ideas of the impurity of bloodshed and the craving 
for purification from sin ? For at the beginning of the 
historic period Crete seems to have been the centre 
of what may be called the cathartic mission ; from 
this island came Apollo Delphinios, the divine purifier 
par excellence, to this island the god came to be purified 
from the death of Python ; and in later times, Crete 
lent to Athens its purifying prophet Epiinenides. 1 If we 
believe, then, that the post-Homeric blood-purification 
was really a recrudescence of the tradition of an older 
indigenous culture, we should use this as another argu- 
ment for the view that the Greece of the second mil- 
lennium was untouched or scarcely touched by Baby- 
lonian influence. For, as we have seen, purification by 
blood or from blood appears to have been wholly alien 
to Babylonian religious and legal practice. 

The ritual of purification belongs as much to the 
history of magic as religion. Now, the student of 
religion is not permitted to refuse to- touch the domain 
of magic ; nor can we exclude its consideration even 
from the highest topics of religious speculation. Some 
general remarks have already been made 2 concerning 
the part played by magic both in the worship and in the 

1 Vide Cults, iv. pp. 144-147, 300 : To suppose that Hellas learnt 
its cathartic rites from Lydia, because Herodotus (i. 35) tells us that 
in his time the Lydians had the Hellenic system of purification from 
homicide, is less natural. Lydia may well have learnt it from Delphi 
in the time of Alyattes or Croesus. Or it may have survived in 
Lydia as a tradition of the early " Minoan " period ; and, similarly, it 
may have survived in Crete. 

2 Vide supra, pp. 176-178. 


social life of the peoples that we are comparing. Any 
exact and detailed comparison would be fruitless for our 
present purpose ; for, while the knowledge of early 
Babylonian magic is beginning to be considerable, we 
cannot say that we know anything definite concerning 
the practices in this department of the Hellenic and 
adjacent peoples in the early period with which we are 
dealing. From the Homeric poems we can gather 
little more than that magic of some kind existed ; and 
that Homer and his gifted audience probably despised 
it as they despised ghosts and demons. It is only by 
inference that we can venture to ascribe to the earliest 
period of the Greek race some of the magic rites that are 
recorded by the later writers. It would require a 
lengthy investigation and treatise to range through the 
whole of Greek ritual and to disentangle and expose the 
magic element which was undoubtedly there, and which 
in some measure is latent in the ritual of every higher 
religion yet examined. By way of salient illustration 
we may quote the ceremonies of the scapegoat and the 
<pap/jtiaz6$ f l modes of the magic-transference of sin and evil ; 
the strewing of sacred food-stuff that is instinct with 
divine potency over the fields in the Thesmophoria ; 
the rain magic performed by the priests of Zeus 
Lykaios ; 2 we hear at Kleonai of an official class of 
" Magi " who controlled the wind and the weather by 
spells, and occasionally in their excitement gashed their 
own hands, like the priests of Baal; 3 such blood- 
magic being explicable as a violent mode of discharging 
personal energy upon the outer objects which one 
wishes to subdue to one's will. Another and more 

1 Vide Cults, iv. pp. 268-284. 

* For similar practices, vide Cults, pp. 415-417, 

* Clem. AJex. Strom., p. 755, Pott. 


thrilling example of blood-magic is the process of water- 
finding by pouring human blood about the earth, a 
method revealed by an old legend of Haliartos in 
Boeotia about the man who desired water, and in order 
to find it consulted Delphi, and was recommended by 
the oracle to slay the first person who met him on his 
return ; his own young son met him first, and the father 
stabbed him with his sword ; the wounded youth ran 
round about, and wherever the blood dripped water 
sprang up from the earth. 1 No one will now venture to 
say that all these things are post-Homeric ; the natural 
view is that they were an inheritance of crude andprimitive 
thought indigenous to the land. Many of them belong 
to world-wide custom ; on the other hand, some of the 
striking and specialised rites, such as the blood-magic 
and the ritual of the tpuppaxos, are not found at Babylon. 
But before prejudging the question, some salient 
and peculiar developments of Babylonian magic ought 
to be considered. One great achievement of Meso- 
potamian civilisation was the early development of 
astrology, to which perhaps the whole world has 
been indebted for good and for evil, and which was 
associated with magic and put to magic uses. Astro- 
logical observation led to the attachment of a magic 
value to numbers and to certain special numbers, such as 
number seven. Whether the Judaic name and institution 
of the Sabbath is of Babylonian origin or not, does not 
concern our question. But it concerns us to know that 
the seventh days, the I4th, the 2ist, and 28th of 
certain months, if not of all, were sacred at Babylon, and 
were days of penance and piacular duties when ordinary 
occupation was suspended. 2 We can discern the origin 
of the sanctity of this number : the observation of the 

1 Pans., 9, 33, 4. 2 For the facts vide Zimmern, K.A.T.*, p. 592. 


seven planets, and the division of the lunar month into 
four quarters of seven days. The early Greeks, doubt- 
less, had their astrological superstitions, as most races 
have had ; the new moon is naturally lucky, the waning 
moon unlucky ; but no one can discover any numerical 
or other principle in the Hesiodic system, which is our 
earliest evidence of Hellenic lucky and unlucky days. 
His scheme is presented in naive confusion, and he con- 
cludes humorously, " one man praises one day, one 
another, and few know anything about it." x His page 
of verse reflects the anarchy of the Greek calendars ; and 
we should find it hard to credit that either Hesiod or the 
legislators that drew up those had sat attentively at 
the feet of Babylonian teachers. But a few coincidences 
may be noted. Hesiod puts a special tabu on the 
fifth day of the month ; in fact, it is the only one in his 
list that is wholly unlucky, a day when it would seem 
to be best to do nothing at all, at least outside the house, 
for on this day the Erinyes are wandering about. 2 
Now, a Babylonian text published by Dr. Langdon con- 
tains the dogma that on the fifth day of Nisan " he who 
fears Marduk and Zarpanit shall not go out to work." 3 
This Babylonian rule is the earliest example of what 
may be strictly called Sabbatarianism, abstinence from 
work through fear of offending the high god. Such 
would probably not be the true account of Hellenic 
feeling concerning the " forbidden days," which were 
called avotppdfcg or ^/apa/. 4 The high god had issued 
to the Hellene no moral commandment about " keeping 
the Sabbath-day holy " ; his reluctance to do certain 
work on certain days rested on a more primitive senti- 

1 Works and Days, 1. 824. 2 Ib., I. 804. 

3 Expositor, 1909, p. 156. 

4 Vide Photius and Hesych., s.v. Mta/wl T 


ment concerning them. Thus it was unlucky both for 
himself and the city that Alcibiades should return to the 
Piraeus when the Plynteria were going on ; for this 
latter was a cathartic ceremony, and evil influences were 
abroad. Nor, as Xenophon declares, would any one 
venture to engage in a serious work on this day. 1 Nor were 
these fiiotput yftepw, like the seventh days of the Babylonian 
months, necessarily days of gloom when offended deities 
had to be propitiated ; on the contrary, the day of Xos 
was a day of merry drinking and yet (tiupu : in fact, 
we best understand the latter phrase by translating it 
" tabooed/' rather than " sad " or " gloomy." 2 

Another coincidence that may arrest attention is 
that in Hesiod's scheme the seventh day of the month 
was sacred because Apollo was born on it ; and through- 
out the later period this god maintains his connection 
with the seventh day, also apparently with the first, 
the fourteenth, and the twentieth of the month. 3 This 
almost coincides with the Sabbatical division of the 
Babylonian months. But we cannot suppose that in 
Hellas these were days of mortification as they were in 
the East ; else they would not have been associated with 
the bright deity Apollo. 

Such dubious coincidences, balanced by still more 
striking diversities, are but frail supports for the hypo- 
thesis of race-contact. 

In Babylonian thaumaturgy nothing is more signifi- 
cant than the magic power of the Word, whether spoken 
or written : and the Word, as we have noted, was raised 
to a cosmic divine power and possessed inherent creative 
force. 4 This is only a reflection upon the heavens of 
the human use of the magical or mesmeric word or set 

1 Hell., i, 4, 12. 2 Vide Cults, v. pp. 215-216. 

3 Cults, iv. p. 259. 4 Vide supra, pp. 176-177. 


of words. This use of them is found, indeed, all round 
the globe. What seems unique in the Mesopotamian 
culture is that religion, religious literature, and poetry 
should have reached so high a pitch and yet never have 
risen above or shaken off the magic which is its constant 
accompaniment. Men and gods equally use magic 
against the demons ; the most fervid hymn of praise, 
the most pathetic litany, is only part of an exorcism- 
ritual ; and so inevitably does the shadow of magic 
dog religion here that Dr. Langdon is justified in his 
conjecture 1 that in a great hymn to Enlil, which contains 
scarcely a prayer but chiefly ecstatic description of his 
power, the worshipper is really endeavouring to charge 
himself with higher religious magic by this outpouring. 
In fact, here and elsewhere, a magic origin for the 
practice of theologic exegesis may be obscurely traced ; 
narrative might acquire an apotropaeic effect ; thus 
tablets containing the narrative of the achievements 
of the plague-god, hung up before the houses, could 
avert pestilence, 2 or, again, the reading aloud the tablet 
narrating the victory of Shamash and Ramman over the 
seven demons who attacked the moon-god Sin served 
to defeat the seven demons by the same sympathetic 
magic as would be worked by a dramatic representation 
of that event. 3 

There is no record or hint that the Hellenes recited 
hymns to Demeter or wrote up passages of Homer to 
avert demons. 

It belongs to the magic use of formulae that minute 
exactness in respect of every syllable is necessary to the 
power of the spell or the spell-prayer. An Assyrian 

1 Sumeyian and Babylonian Psalms t p. 196. 

2 King, Babylonian Religion, p. 196. 

3 Vide Fossey, La Magie Assyrienne, p. 96. 


king who is consulting the sun-god concerning success 
in a war with which he is threatened, prays that the 
ritual which the enemy may be employing may go wrong 
and fail ; and in this context occurs the curious petition, 
" May the lips of the priest's son hurry and stumble 
over a word/' 1 The idea seems to be that a single 
slip in the ritual-formulae destroyed their whole value ; 
and such a view belongs to magic rather than to religion. 

Now it is probable that in his earliest mental stage 
the Hellene had been in bondage to the religious magic 
of sacred formulae and sacred names; and as a tradi- 
tion of that stage, the divine epithet whereby he appealed 
to his deities according to his needs retained always for 
him a mysterious potency ; but otherwise we have no 
proof that he worked word-magic by means of his sacred 

Babylonian sorcery, whether legitimate or illegiti- 
mate, was intended to work upon or through demons ; 
and its familiarity with the names and special qualities 
of demons is its peculiar mark. In the ritual of exorcism 
of the demons, idols play a prominent and often singular 
rdle. The following performance is probably unique : 
in the exorcism of disease two idols, male and female, 
were set up before the sick man, then the evil spirits of 
sickness are invited thus : (t Oh ye all wicked, all evil, 
who pursue so-and-so, if thou art male, here is thy 
wife ; if thou art female, here is thy husband/' 2 The 
intent of the exerciser seems to be to attract the demon 
of disease, of whose sex he is not sure, into one or the 
other of these images, and he lures it by amorous 
enticement into the figure of opposite sex to its own ; 

1 Knudtzon, Assyrische Gebete an den Sonnengott, p. 78 (texts belong- 
ing to period of Asarhaddon, civc. 68 1). 

2 Ziminern, Beitrage, etc., p. 161. 


having got the demon into the image, he doubtless 
takes it out and burns or buries it. Or the evil spirit 
may be attracted from the patient by means of its own 
image placed near him. One document prescribes 
various images of bestial form, all of which are to be 
taken by night to the bank of the river, probably that 
they may be thrown in and carry the impurity of sickness 
away. 1 Another shows us how to deal with Labartu, 
the daughter of Anu ; 2 her image, made of clay, is placed 
above the head of the sick man, so as to draw her or her 
power out from him ; it is then taken out, slain, and 
buried. And this exorcism is all the more notable 
because Labartu is rather an evil goddess than a mere 
demon, being styled in another text " August lady/' 
" Mistress of the dark-haired men." 3 Such magical 
drama, in which the demon-image might be slain to 
annul its potency, seems characteristically Babylonian : 
it entered also into the ritual of the high gods. For, 
at the feast of the New Year, when Nebo arrived from 
Borsippa, two images are brought before him and in 
his presence decapitated with the sword. Dr. Langdon 
interprets them 4 as representing probably "the demons 
who aided the dragon in her fight with Marduk ; they 
are the captive gods of darkness which ends with the 
Equinox/* This is dramatic magic helpful to the 

The elaboration of exorcism must have led to a 
minuter articulation of the demon-world ; the exerciser 
is most anxious to know and discover all about his 
unseen foes : he gives them a name, a sex if possible, 
and a number : he says of the powerful storm-demons 

1 Zimmern, Beitrdge, etc., p. 163. 

2 Fossey, op. cit., p. 399, 

3 iv. R. 56, 12 ; Fossey, op. cit., p. 401. 

4 Expositor, 1909, p. 150, giving text from iv. R. 40. 


Utuk " they are seven, they are seven, they are neither 
male nor female, they take no wife and beget no 
children ; " l for knowledge of the name or nature of the 
personality gives magic power. 

Many of these examples, which might easily be 
multiplied, show us magic applied to private but bene- 
ficent purposes, the healing of disease, the exorcism 
of spirits of moral and physical evil. It was also in 
vogue for national purposes for instance, for the destruc- 
tion of the enemies of the king ; one of our documents 
describes such a process as the making of a tallow- 
image of the enemy of the king and binding his face 
with a cord, so as to render the living foe impotent of 
will and speech. 2 

We have already noticed that the Babylonian 
gods themselves work magic, and that it was also worked 
on behalf of the gods. 3 And in the ritual-records much 
that might be interpreted as religion may find its truer 
account from the other point of view ; for instance, 
the ritual of placing by the bedside of a sick man the 
image of Nergal or those of the " twins who overthrow 
the wicked Gallu " 4 might appear at first sight as a 
religious appeal to the deities to come to his aid ; but 
as in form it is exactly similar to the use made on the 
same occasion, as noted above, of the images of demons, 
we may rather suppose that the intention was magical 
in this act also, and that the divine idols were supposed 
to combat the demon of sickness by their magical 
influence. Or, again, in part of the ritual of exorcism 
we find acts that bear the semblance of sacrifice, such 
as throwing onions and dates into the fire ; but they 
were charged with a curse before thrown, and the act 

1 Fossey, op. cit., p. 209. 2 Zimmern, Beitrdge, p. 173. 

3 Supra, p. 176. 4 Zimmern, op. cit., p. 169. 


is more naturally interpreted as a magic transference 
of evil. 1 

For the purpose of the exorcism, to deliver a "banned" 
person, the high god, Marduk or another, might be 
called in ; but Marduk also works the effect by magic : 
a rope is woven by Ishtar's maidens, which Marduk 
(or his priest) turns round the head of the sufferer, 
then breaks it through and throws it out into the desert. 2 
This looks like symbolic magic ; the knotted rope 
represents the ban, which is then broken and thrown 

There are many features in these methods of exor- 
cism, such as the apotropaeic use of idols, that are 
common to other peoples at a certain stage of cul- 
ture ; there remains much also that seems peculiar to 

But what is uniquely characteristic of this Meso- 
potamian people, and at the same time most un-Hellenic, 
is the all-pervading atmosphere of magic, which colours 
their view of life and their theory of the visible and 
invisible world. Babylonia, at least, was the one salient 
exception to the historic induction that a distinguished 
writer 3 has recently sanctioned "religion once firmly 
established invariably seeks to exclude magic ; and 
the priest does his best to discredit the magician.' 1 
The psalmody of Babylon, with its occasional outbursts 

1 Zimmern, Beitrdge, pp. 30-31 ; he mentions also the similar 
practice of tying up a sheepskin or a fillet of wool and throwing it into 
the fire. 

2 Zimmern, op. cit., p. 33 : note magic use of knots in general, vide 
Frazer, G.B. 2 , vol. i. pp. 392-403 ; Archiv. fur Religionsw., 1908, pp. 128, 
383, 405. The superstition may have prevailed in Minoan Crete (see 
A. Evans, Annual Byitish School, 1902-1903, pp. 7-9) and was in 
vogue in ancient Greece. 

a w. Warde Fowler, The Religious Experiences of the Roman People, 
Gifford Lectures, p. 49. 


of inspiration and its gleams of spiritual insight, would 
have appealed to an Isaiah; its magic would have 
appealed to many a modern African. The Babylonian 
prophet does not frown on it ; the high gods accept 
it, the priest is its skilled and beneficent practitioner. 
And at no other point, perhaps, is the contrast between 
the Hellenic and the Mesopotamian religions so glaring 
as at this. 

This comparison of Eastern and Western ritual may 
close with some observations on another religious function 
that may be of some value for the question of early ethnic 

It has been remarked that divination played an 
important, perhaps a dominant part in the Babylonian 
ritual of sacrifice, divination, that is, by inspection of 
the victim's entrails, especially the liver ; and that 
this method was adopted in Greece only in the later 
centuries. 1 But there are other salient differences be- 
tween the Babylonian and the more ancient mantic art 
of Hellas. 2 Another method much in vogue in the 
former was a curious mode of divining by mixing oil 
and water and watching the movements and behaviour 
of the two liquids. 3 The first and only indication of 
a similar practice in Hellas is a passage in the Agamem- 
non of ^Eschylus, of which the true meaning has hitherto 
escaped the interpreters. 4 And here, as usual, an 
obvious example of Mesopotamian influence on Hellenic 
custom belongs only to a late epoch. It is also true 

1 Vide supra, pp. 248-249; Cults, iv. p. 191. 

2 For the main facts relating to the Babylonian system and the 
" baru "-priests, vide Zimmern, Beitvage, etc., pp. 82-92; for the 
Hellenic, vide Cults, iv. 190-192, 224-231 ; also vol. iii 9-12. 

3 The documentary evidence, from a very early period, is given 
by Zimmern, Beitydge, etc., pp. 85-97. 

* L. 322 : Clytemnestra speaks of pouring oil and vinegar into the 
same vessel and reproaching them for their unsociable behaviour. 


that the ancient divination of the two peoples agreed 
in certain respects, namely, in that both used, like most 
communities at a certain stage of culture, the auguries 
of birds and the revelations of dreams. As regards the 
facts relating to the former, we know more about Greece 
than at present about Babylon. But in the matter of 
dream-oracles, it is manifest that the Hellenic phenomena 
are entirely independent of Mesopotamian fashion. The 
Assyrian and Babylonian documents reveal the fashion 
of dream-prophecy in its simplest and highest form : 
the high deity of his own pleasure sends a dream, and 
the divining priest or skilled interpreter interprets it. 
No hint has so far been detected of that artificial method 
of provoking prophetic dreams by " incubation " or 
lyxoipwtg, the fashion of laying oneself down in some 
sacred shrine and sleeping with one's ear to the ground, 
that was much in vogue in ancient Hellas and still 
survives in parts of the modern Greek world and which 
may be regarded as an immemorial tradition. In this 
divination, the divine spokesman was the power of 
the underworld. And this was the most important 
difference between the Western and the Eastern society 
in respect of the divine agency. In an early period 
of Hellenic history that may be called pre-Apolline, 
the earth-mother was conspicuously oracular by the 
vehicle of dreams ; and this power of hers was generally 
shared by the nether god and buried heroes. Nor 
could the religion of Apollo suppress this " chthonian " 
divination. But in Mesopotamia the earth-powers and 
the nether world have no part or lot in this matter. 
It is almost the prerogative of Shamash, the sun-god, 
though Adad is sometimes associated with him ; l 

1 We have also one example of an oracle of Ishtar (in plain prose) , 
Keil. Bibl., ii. p. 179. 


both being designated as "Bele-Biri" or "Lords of 
Oracles." 1 

Another remarkable distinction is the fact that 
the ecstatic or enthusiastic form of prophecy, that of 
the Shaman or Pythoness possessed and maddened by 
the inworking spirit of god, is not found in the Baby- 
lonian record, which only attests the cool and scientific 
method of interpreting by signs and dreams and the 
stars. Perhaps Mesopotamia from the third millennium 
onward was too civilised to admit the mad prophet and 
prophetess to its counsels. But such characters were 
attached to certain Anatolian cults, especially to those 
of Kybele, 2 and also to the Syrian goddess at Hierapolis; 3 
we have evidence of them also in a record of the Cretan 
Phaistos in the service of the Great Mother. 4 Some 
scholars have supposed that prophetic ecstasy was only 
a late phenomenon in Hellas, because Homer is silent 
about it. But there are reasons for suspecting that 
demoniac possession was occasionally found in the pre- 
Homeric divination of Hellas, 5 an * inheritance perhaps 
from the pre-Hellenic period. 

In any case, the theory that primitive Hellas was 
indebted to Babylonia for its divination-system is strongly 
repugnant to the facts. 

1 Zimmern, op. cit., p. 89. 2 Cults, iii. p. 297. 

3 Lucian, De Dea Syr., 43. 4 Cults, iii. p. 297. 

5 Vide Cults, iv. pp. 191-192 ; iii. p. n. 


THIS comparative exposition of the Sumerian-Baby- 
lonian and the most complex and developed pre-Christian 
religion of Europe cannot claim to be complete or at 
any point finally decisive, but it may at least have 
helped to reveal the high value and interest of these 
phenomena for the workers in this broad field of inquiry. 
This was one of the main objects of this course. The 
other was the discussion of a question of religious ethno- 
logy, concerning the possible influence of Mesopotamia 
on the earliest development of ^ellenic religion. The 
verdict must still remain an open one, awaiting the 
light of the new evidence that the future will gather. 
But the evidence at present available and it may be 
hoped that none of first importance has been missed 
constrains us to a negative answer or at least a negative 
attitude of mind. 

Confining ourselves generally to the second mil- 
lennium B.C., we have surveyed the religions of the 
adjacent peoples between the valley of the Euphrates 
and the western shores of the Aegean ; and have 
observed that morphologically they are generally on 
the same plane of polytheism, but that those of Meso- 
potamia and Hellas reveal inner differences, striking 
and vital enough to be serious stumbling-blocks to a 
theory of affiliation. These differences concern the 



personality of the divinities and their relations to the 
various parts of the world of nature ; the most salient 
being the different attitude of the two peoples to the 
divine luminaries of heaven and to the chthonian powers 
of the lower world. 9 They concern the cosmogonies 
of East and West, their views of the creation of the 
world, and the origin of man ; on these matters, certain 
myths which are easily diffused do not appear to have 
reached Hellas in this early period. They concern the 
religious temperaments of the Babylonian and Hellene, 
which appear as separate as the opposite points of the 
pole ; the rapturous fanatic and self-abasing spirit of 
the East contrasting vividly with the coolness, civic 
sobriety, and self-confidence of the West. They concern 
the eschatologic ideas of the two peoples : the cult of 
the dead and some idea of a posthumous judgment 
being found in early Hellas, while the former was rare, 
and the latter is scarcely discoverable, in Mesopotamia. 
They concern, finally, the ritual ; and here the salient 
points of contrast are the different views of the sacrifice, 
of the sacrificial victim, and the sacrificial blood ; the 
different methods of purification and the expulsion of 
sin ; the ritual of sorrow associated with the death of 
the god, so powerftil in Babylonia and so insignificant 
(by comparison) in Hellas ; the un-Hellenic Mylitta-rite, 
and the service of the " hierodoulai" ; and, to conclude 
with the most vital difference of all, the manifestations 
of magic and its relation to the national religions, so 
complex, so pregnant for thought and faith, and so 
dominant in Mesopotamia ; on the other hand, so insig- 
nificant and unobtrusive in Hellas. 

Two other points have been incidentally noticed 
in our general survey, but it is well in a final summing 
up to emphasise their great importance as negative 


evidence. The first concerns the higher history of 
European religion : the establishment of religious 
mysteries, a phenomenon of dateless antiquity, and of 
powerful working in Hellenic and Aegean society, has 
not yet been discovered in the Mesopotamian culture. 
The second is a small point that concerns commerce 
and the trivialities of ritual : the use of incense, 
universal from immemorial times in Mesopotamia, and 
proved by the earliest documents, begins in Greece not 
earlier than the eighth century B.C. This little product, 
afterwards everywhere in great demand, for it is pleasant 
to the sense, soothing to the mind, and among the 
harmless amenities of worship, was much easier to 
import than Babylonian theology or more complex 
ritual. It might have come without these, but they 
could scarcely have come without it. Yet it did not 
come to Hellenic shores in the second millennium. And 
this trifling negative fact is worth a volume of the higher 
criticism for the decision of our question. 

Those who still cling to the faith that Babylonia 
was the centre whence emanated much Mediterranean 
religion, may urge that the negative value of the facts 
exposed above may be destroyed by future discoveries. 
This is true, but our preliminary hypotheses should be 
framed on the facts that are already known. Or they 
may urge that the generic resemblances of the two 
religious systems with which we have been mainly 
concerned are also great. But, as has been observed, 
the same generic resemblance exists between Greek and 
Vedic polytheism. And for the question of religious 
origin general resemblances are far less decisive than 
specific points of identity, such, for instance, as the 
identity of divine names or of some peculiar divine 
attribute. Later we can trace the migrations of Isis 


and Mithras throughout Europe by their names or by the 
sistrum or by the type of the fallen bull, of the Hittite god 
Teschub in the Graeco-Roman guise of Jupiter Dolichenos 
as far as Hungary, perhaps as far as Scandinavia, by the 
attribute of the hammer. It is just this sort of evidence of 
any trace of Babylonian influence that is lacking among 
the records of early Greece. No single Babylonian name 
is recognisable in its religious or mythologic nomenclature ; 
just as no characteristically Babylonian fashion is found 
in its ritual or in the appurtenances of its religion. 
This well accords with what is already known of the 
Mediterranean history of the second millennium. For 
long centuries the Hittite empire was a barrier between 
the Babylonian power and the coastlands of Asia Minor. 
So far, then, as our knowledge goes at present, there 
is no reason for believing that nascent Hellenism, wher- 
ever else arose the streams that nourished its spiritual 
life, was fertilised by the deep springs of Babylonian 
religion or theosophy. 


Adad (Ramman), 62, 101-102, 142, 


Adonis, 251, 255, 273-274. 

Alilat, 44. 

Allatu, 57, 206, 218. 

Aniconic worship, 225-230. 

Animism, 43. 

Anthropomorphism, in Greece, 10-12, 
75-80; in Mesopotamia, 51-52, 
55-57 9 * n Canaan, 57-58 ; in 
Hittite religion, 60-6 1 ; in 
Phrygia, 63-64 ; in Crete, 64-75. 

Aphrodite, Cretan-Mycenaean, 96 ; in 
Cyprus, 261 ; Ourania, 272-273. 

Apollo, 49, 295 ; theory of Lycian 
origin, 90; Agyieus, 136; Del- 
phinios, 291 ; Lykeios, 76. 

Arabian divinities, 85, 263. 

Aramaic divinities, 85. 

Artemis, of Brauron, 244 ; in Cilicia, 
89 ; at Ephesos, 91 ; aboriginal 
Mediterranean goddess, 96. 

Aryan migration into Greece, 34. 

Asshur, 58, 225. 

Astarte, 57, 5?> 59, 86, 107. _ 

Astral cults, in Mesopotamia, 102 ; 
in Greece, 111-114. 

Atargatis (Derketo), 57. 

Athena, aboriginal Mediterranean 
goddess, 96. 

Athtar, Arabian deity, 85, 263. 

Attar, in Arabia, 168. 

Attis, 91, 254-258, 266 ; ILaTralos, 


Axe-cult, in Crete, 70, 93. 

Baalbec, 273-274. 
Baptism, 284. 

Bau, Babylonian goddess, 263. 
Belit, Babylonian goddess, 83, 84, 

Birds, cult of, 63, 69-73. 
Boghaz-Keui, reliefs of, 47, 60, 

125 ; cuneiform texts at, 6l. 
Borrowing, tests of, in religion, 37. 
Boundaries, sanctity of, 127-128. 
Bouphonia, in Attica, 237-238. 
Britomartis, 170. 

Bull, Hittite worship of, 252-253. 
Burial-customs, 208-210. 
Byblos, Adonis-rites at, 273-274. 

Chemosh, of Moab, 59, 86. 

Cilicia, Assyrian conquests in, 35 

(vide Typhoeus). 
Cities, religious origin of, 118. 
Communion-service with dead, 209. 
Confessional-service in Mesopotamia, 

151, 288, 
Convent-system in Mesopotamia, 


Cook, Mr., 66, 69, 73. 
Cosmogonies, 179-182. 
Courtesans, sacred, 269-283. 
Cowley, Dr., 90. 
Creation of man, 184-185. 
Cyprus, religious prostitution in, 

Days, sacred character of, 293-295. 
Dead, worship of, 122, 210, 211, 

213; tendance of, 211, 212; 

evocation of, 214-215. 
Death of deity, 27-28, 238-240, 

Demeter, 80. 

Demonology, 154, 206-208, 297-300. 
Dionysos, 239-240; marriage with 

Queen- Archon, 267. 
Divination, through sacrifice, 248- 

249, 301-302 ; ecstatic, 303. 
Dualism, 19, 158. 


Ea, Babylonian god, 53, 102, 117, 


Eagle, Hittite worship of, 63. 
Earth, divinity of, in Mesopotamia, 

103 ; in Greece, 114. 
Enlil, Babylonian god, 59, 103-104, 


Eros, cosmic principle, 181. 
Eschatology, 204-220. 
Esmun, Phoenician god, 57. 
Eunostos, Tanagran vegetation-hero, 

Eunuchs, in Phrygian religion, 92, 


Euyuk, relief at, 61. 
Evans, Sir Arthur, 17, 30, 64, 69-71, 

73-74, 91, 97, 211, 227. 
Evil gods, 19, 142-143. 

Faith, not a religious virtue in 

Greece, 23-24. 
Fanaticism, in Mesopotamia, 197- 


Fassirlir, Lion-goddess at, 88. 
Father-god, 48, 95. 
Fetichism, 225-228. 
Fire-ejod, in Greece and Babylon, 

146-147, 285. 
Fire-purification, 285-286. 
Frazer, Dr., 17, 60, 79, 89, 257 n. i, 

277, 282. 
Functional deities (Sondergotter), 

no, 133. 

Goddess-worship, importance of, 5, 
81-82; in Mesopotamia, 17, 
82-84 ; among Western Semites, 
85-86 ; Hittites, 87-88 ; on Asia- 
Minor coast, 88-91 ; in Crete, 
92-94 ; Aryan tradition of, 94- 
96 ; in early Greece, 96-98. 

Hammer, sacred Hittite symbol, 63. 
Hammurabi, code of, 129-132, 212. 
Harpalyke, legend of, 239. 
Harrison, Miss Jane, 67, 69-70. 
Hartland, Mr. Sidney, 271 n. i, 


Hearth-worship, 132-133. 
Helios, at Tyre and Palmyra, 107 ; 

in Greece, uo-in. 
Hell, Babylonian conception of, 

Hera, ? Aryan -Hellenic, 96; 


Hierodoulai, 272. 
Hittite ethnology, 36. 
Hogarth, Dr., 74. 

Homicide, Babylonian laws concern- 
ing, 129-130; Hellenic religious 
feeling about, 138-140; purifica- 
tion from, 287-288. 

Hyakinthos, 262. 

Ibriz, Hittite monument at, 47. 
Idolatry, in Greece, 12-13, 228. 
Incense, 231-232, 306. 
Incest, Babylonian laws concerning, 


Incubation, divination by, 302. 
Ira, goddess of plague, 143. 
Ishtar, 55, 83, 103, 120, 142, 164- 
167 ; descent of, 204, 208. 

Jastrow, Prof., 37, 58. 

Katharsis, Homeric, 289-291. 
Kingship, divine character of, in 

Mesopotamia, 119, 122-123 ; 

among Western Semites, 123 ; 

among Hittites, 124-125 ; in 

Phrygia, 125 ; in Crete, 125-126 ; 

in Greece, 126-127. 
Knots, magic use of, 300. 
Kybele, 63, 91-92, 109, 170, 226. 

Labartu, demon -goddess, 298. 

Langdon, Dr., 56, 205 n. I, 296, 298. 

Leto ? Lycian origin of, 89-90, 

Leukothea, 261. 

Linos, 197, 262. 

Lion-divinity, Phrygian Hittite Meso- 

potamian type, 62-63. 
Lykaon, Arcadian sacrifice of, 239. 

Ma, Anatolian goddess, 169, 272. 
Magic, in Greece, 158, 176-179, 292- 

293 ; in Babylon, 291-301. 
Male deity, predominant among 

Semites, 85-86; at Olba and 

Tarsos and in Lycia, 89. 
Mannhardt, 276. 
Marduk, 103, 120, 265. 
Marriage of god and goddess, 263- 

268 ; marriage ceremonies in 

Babylon, 134. 

Mercy, attribute of divinity, 158-160. 
Minotaur, 74, 266-267. 
Mitani inscriptions, 46. 
Monotheism, 187-189. 
Monsters, in Cretan art, 74-75. 
Moon-worship, Semitic, 85 ; Hellenic, 


Morality and religion, 20. 
Mylitta, rites of, 269-271. 


Nature-worship, 40-41, 97 ; in Meso- 
potamia, 99-106 ; West-Semitic, 
106-107 J Hittite, 108 ; Hellenic, 

Nebo, 52, 102, 119, 121, 188. 

Nergal, 101, 142. 

N??0dXia, wineless offerings, 112. 

Ninib, 101, 117, 127, 263. 

Njnlil, 84. 

Ninni, relief of, 52. 

Nusku, 117. 

Omnipotence, divine attribute, 173- 

Orotal, Arabian deity, 44. 

Pan-Babylonism, 30-33. 
Pantheism, 161-162. 
Perjury, 147-149. 
Personal religion, 191-196. 
Pessimism, in Babylonian hymns, 


Petrie, Professor, 223. 
Phallic cults, 228-230. 
Phratric system, religious sanction of, 

in Greece, 138 ; non-existent (?) 

in Mesopotamia, 138. 
Poseidon, 146. 

Punishment, posthumous, 215-216. 
Purification, 155-158, 282-291. 
Purity, 163-172. 

Qadistu, meaning of, 269. 

Ramman, vide Adad. 

Ramsay, Sir William, 117, 170, 273, 

Rewards, posthumous, 216-218. 

Sacrament, 25-26, 236-242, 250. 

Sacrifice, theory of, 24-26, 235-236, 
240-242; bloodless, 230-231; 
chthonian, 233 ; human, 244- 
246 ; at oath-taking, 247-248 ; 
"sober," 231-232; vicarious, 

Sandon, 252-253. 

Sayce, Professor, 169, 253. 

Scapegoat, 247. 

Science, relation to religion, in 
Greece and Mesopotamia, 23. 

Sentimentality, in Babylonian re- 
ligion, 196-197. 

Sex, confusion of, 58-60. 

Shamash, Babylonian sun-god, 99, 

100, I20-I2I, 127, 142, 208, 


Sin, Babylonian moon-god, 99, 100. 
Sin, non-moral ideas of, 152-154. 
Sinjerli, relief at, 61. 
Smith, Prof. Robertson, 25, 226, 

235, 238, 241. 
Snake-goddess, in Crete, 64-65 ; 

snake- cult, 78, 

Tammuz, 105-106, 219-220, 242, 

Tanit, Carthaginian goddess, 168. 

Taurobolion, 253. 

Temples, erection of, 223-225 ; deifi- 
cation of, 225. 

Teshup, Hittite god, 46, 62. 

Teukridai, at Olba, 89. 

Theanthropic animal, 77-78. 

Theism, 7-9, 40-49. 

Theriomorphism, in Egypt, 15 ; in 
Mesopotamia, 14, 52-55 ; in 
other Semitic communities 3 57- 
58 ; Hittite, 60-62 ; in Crete, 
66-75 5 in Greece, 75-80. 

Tiftmat, in Babylonian cosmogony, 

Tiele, Professor, 40, 42, 8 1, 199. 

Tralles, religious prostitutes at, 275. 

Trinities, 185-187. 

Truthfulness, religious virtue, 148. 

Typhoeus, legend of, 182-183. 

Van Gennep, 279. 
Ver Sacrum, in Greece, 137. 
Virgin-goddesses, not found among 
Aryans, 95 ; Mediterranean, 96. 
Virginity, sacrifice of, 269-281. 
Virgin-Mother, idea of, 166-171. 

Westermarck, Professor, 41 n. i, 278. 

Wilde, Dr., I. 

Word, mystic value of, 15, 56, 57, 

176-179, 295-297. 
Worship, ambiguity in term, 67, 77. 

Zeus, 49; grave of, in Crete, 93, 
259-260 ; Herkeios, 149-150 ; 
Horios, 152 ; Kouros, 259 ; 
Panamaros in Caria, 90 ; Polieus, 
238 ; Thunderer in Bithynia, 95. 

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