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Sophie  Sophie is offline
Join Date: 10 Oct 2004
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Originally Posted by sapienza
I did read somewhere recently (not sure where) that in Hellenistic times there is no evidence to suggest that the attributes associated with planets had anything to do with the Gods/Goddesses/Myths from which their names were taken. Anyone else read or heard this? I find it a bit surprising actually. I'm finding it reasonably easy to change my thinking to the traditional style and I can let go of the outer planets....but letting go of the myths....that would be tough!
The Babylonians certainly thought the planets they named and the deities they named them for were one and same, and it's their vision of the cosmos and their calculations that the Greeks adopted, simply changing the names to fit their own deities (including chosing corresponding deities - so, for example, Ishtar was Aphrodite/Venus).
In fact - one could even put it the other way: it seems a number of the myths were told to explain cosmic and astronomic events! So for instance, the dying god/bull of the sky myth and festival (the famous lamentations for Dumuzi/Tammuz) is directly linked with the disappearance ("death") of the constellation Taurus from the night skies every year... and it corresponded with the beginning of the grain harvest in Sumer, i.e. the summer solstice - the event was therefore both astronomical and agricultural - it was turned into a myth. Taurus, of course, is ruled by Venus - the Sumerian/Babylonian Inanna/Ishtar, who marries Dumuzi at the spring equinox (when Taurus rose at the horizon in the period 4000-1700 BC). The story of Inanna and Dumuzi found its way into Greek mythology in the story of Aphrodite and Adonis (Adonis comes from the semitic "adon", meaning "lord" )

Mars was named for the god of war because of its red colour. A quote from Deborah Houlding's Skyscript page:
The ancient Babylonians paid particular attention to the blood-red colour of Mars; they associated it with warfare, and personalised it with the identity of Nergal, the feared lord of the Underworld and author of devastation. Nergal was a powerful and much feared god. His spouse, Ereshkigal, was queen of the Underworld and his messenger, Namtar, was the demon who brought plague to mankind.
Nergal was god of war and plague, who went to the Underworld, had very raunchy sex with Ereshkigal, then dumped her. Eventually, he repented and the two married - the god of war and plague being made consort of the Queen of the Underworld. The astrology and myths surrounding Nergal/Mars therefore seem to have been born and progressed together. In the Hellenic period, its two moons were named after the two attendants of Mars, Fear and Panic (Phobos and Deimos).

The two - myth and cosmos - are inextricably linked, linked also to agricultural events of that time, and became the basis for the calendar. The agricultural events in Sumer and the calendar have changed - and the night skies have too, because of the precession of the equinoxes - but the marriage between myths and the cosmos remain.

(this was the case in Egypt too).
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