That Semiramis, under the name of Astarte, was worshipped not
only as an incarnation of the Spirit of God, but as the mother of
mankind, we have very clear and satisfactory evidence. There is
no doubt that "the Syrian goddess" was Astarte
(LAYARD'S Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 456). Now, the
Assyrian goddess, or Astarte, is identified with Semiramis by
Athenagoras (Legatio, vol. ii. p. 179), and by Lucian (De Dea
Syria, vol iii. p. 382). These testimonies in regard to Astarte,
or the Syrian goddess, being, in one aspect, Semiramis, are quite
decisive. 1. The name Astarte, as applied to her, has reference
to her as being Rhea or Cybele, the tower-bearing goddess, the
first, as Ovid says (Opera, vol. iii., Fasti, lib. iv. ll. 219,
220), that "made (towers) in cities;" for we
find from Layard, at the page above referred to, that in the
Syrian temple of Hierapolis, "she [Dea Syria or Astarte]
was represented standing on a lion crowned with towers." Now,
no name could more exactly picture forth the character of
Semiramis, as queen of Babylon, than the name of "Asht-tart,"
for that just means "The woman that made towers." It
is admitted on all hands that the last syllable "tart"
comes from the Hebrew verb "Tr." It has been
always taken for granted, however, that "Tr"
signifies only "to go round." But we have
evidence that, in nouns derived from it, it also signifies "to
be round," "to surround," or "encompass."
In the masculine, we find "Tor" used for "a
border or row of jewels round the head" (see PARKHURST,
sub voce No. ii., and also GESENIUS). And in the feminine, as
given in Hesychius (Lexicon, p. 925), we find the meaning much
more decisively brought out: Turis ho peribolos tou teichous.
Turis is just the Greek form of Turit, the final t, according to
the genius of the Greek language, being converted into s.
Ash-turit, then, which is obviously the same as the Hebrew "Ashtoreth,"
is just "The woman that made the encompassing
wall." Considering how commonly the glory of that
achievement, as regards Babylon, was given to Semiramis, not only
by Ovid (Opera Metam., lib. iv. fab. 4. 1. 58, vol. ii. p. 177),
but by Justin, Dionysius, Afer, and others, both the name and
mural crown on the head of that goddess were surely very
appropriate. In confirmation of this interpretation of the
meaning of the name Astarte, I may adduce an epithet applied to
the Greek Diana, who at Ephesus bore a turreted crown on her
head, and was identified with Semiramis, which is not a little
striking. It is contained in the following extract from Livy
(lib. xliv. cap. 44, vol. vi. pp. 57, 58): "When the
news of the battle [near Pydna] reached Amphipolis, the matrons
ran together to the temple of Diana, whom they style Tauropolos,
to implore her aid." Tauropolos, from Tor, "a
tower," or "surrounding fortification,"
and Pol, "to made," plainly means the "tower-maker,"
or "maker of surrounding fortifications;" and
to her as the goddess of fortifications, they would naturally
apply when they dreaded an attack upon their city.
Semiramis, being deified as Astarte, came to be raised to the
highest honours; and her change into a dove, as has been already
shown (p. 79, ante), was evidently intended, when the distinction
of sex had been blasphemously attributed to the Godhead, to
identify her, under the name of the Mother of the gods, with that
Divine Spirit, without whose agency no one can be born a child of
God, and whose emblem, in the symbolical language of Scripture,
was the Dove, as that of the Messiah was the Lamb. Since the
Spirit of God is the source of all wisdom, natural as well as
spiritual, arts and inventions and skill of every kind being
attributed to Him (Exod. xxxi. 3, and xxxv. 31), so the Mother of
the gods, in whom that Spirit was feigned to be incarnate, was
celebrated as the originator of some of the useful arts and
sciences (DIODORUS SICULUS, lib. iii. p. 134). Hence, also, the
character attributed to the Grecian Minerva, whose name Athena,
as we have seen reason to conclude, is only a synonym for Beltis,
the well-known as the "goddess of wisdom," the
inventress of arts and sciences. 2. The name Astarte signifies
also the "Maker of investigations;" and in
this respect was applicable to Cybele or Semiramis, as symbolised
by the Dove. That this is one of the meanings of the name Astarte
may be seen from comparing it with the cognate names Asterie and
Astraea (in Greek Astraia), which are formed by taking the last
member of the compound word in the masculine, instead of the
feminine, Teri, or Tri (the latter being pronounced Trai or Trae), being the same in senses as Tart. Now, Asterie was the
wife of Perseus, the Assyrian (HERODOTUS, lib. vi. p. 400), and
who was the founder of Mysteries (BRYANT, vol. iii. pp. 267,
268). As Asterie was further represented as the daughter of Bel,
this implies a position similar to that of Semiramis. Astraea,
again, was the goddess of justice, who is identified with the
heavenly virgin Themis, the name Themis signifying "the
perfect one," who gave oracles (OVID, Metam, lib. i. fab. 7, vol. ii. p. 30), and who, having lived on earth before
the Flood, forsook it just before that catastrophe came on (Ibid.
Note). Themis and Astraea are sometimes distinguished and
sometimes identified; but both have the same character as goddess
of justice (see Gradus ad Parnassum, sub voce "Justitia").
The explanation of the discrepancy obviously is, that the Spirit
has sometimes been viewed as incarnate and sometimes not. When
incarnate, Astraea is daughter of Themis. What name could more
exactly agree with the character of a goddess of justice, than Ash-trai-a, "The maker of investigations," and
what name could more appropriately shadow forth one of the
characters of that Divine Spirit, who "searcheth all
things, yea, the deep things of God"? As Astraea, or Themis, was "Fatidica Themis," "Themis the
prophetic," this also was another characteristic of the
Spirit; for whence can any true oracle, or prophetic inspiration,
come, but from the inspiring Spirit of God? Then, lastly, what
can more exactly agree with the Divine statement in Genesis in
regard to the Spirit of God, than the statement of Ovid, that
Astraea was the last of the celestials who remained on earth, and
that her forsaking it was the signal for the downpouring of the
destroying deluge? The announcement of the coming Flood is in
Scripture ushered in with these words: (Gen. vi. 3), "And
the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for
that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and
twenty years." All these 120 years, the Spirit was
striving; when they came to an end, the Spirit strove no longer,
forsook the earth, and left the world to its fate. But though the
Spirit of God forsook the earth, it did not forsake the family of
righteous Noah. It entered with the patriarch into the ark; and
when that patriarch came forth from his long imprisonment, it
came forth along with him. Thus the Pagans had an historical
foundation for their myth of the dove resting on the symbol of
the ark in the Babylonian waters, and the Syrian goddess, or Astarte--the same as
Astraea--coming forth from it. Semiramis,
then, as Astarte, worshipped as the dove, was regarded as the
incarnation of the Spirit of God. 3. As Baal, Lord of Heaven, had
his visible emblem, the sun, so she, as Beltis, Queen of Heaven,
must have hers also--the moon, which in another sense was Asht-tart-e, "The maker of revolutions;" for
there is no doubt that Tart very commonly signifies "going
round." But, 4th, the whole system must be dovetailed
together. As the mother of the gods was equally the mother of
mankind, Semiramis, or Astarte, must also be identified with Eve;
and the name Rhea, which, according to the Paschal Chronicle,
vol. i. p. 65, was given to her, sufficiently proves her
identification with Eve. As applied to the common mother of the
human race, the name Astarte is singularly appropriate; for, as
she was Idaia mater, "The mother of knowledge,"
the question is, "How did she come by that
knowledge?" To this answer can only be: "By
the fatal investigations she made." It was a tremendous
experiment she made, when, in opposition to the Divine command,
and in spite of the threatened penalty, she ventured to "search"
into that forbidden knowledge which her Maker in his goodness had
kept from her. Thus she took the lead in that unhappy course of
which the Scripture speaks--"God made man upright, but
they have SOUGHT out many inventions" (Eccles. vii.
29). Now Semiramis, deified as the Dove, was Astarte in the most
gracious and benignant form. Lucius Ampelius (in Libro ad
Macrinum apud BRYANT, vol. iii. p. 161) calls her "Deam
benignam et misericordem hominibus ad vitam bonam,"
"The goddess benignant and merciful to men" (bringing
them) "to a good and happy life." In reference
to this benignity of her character, both the titles, Aphrodite
and Mylitta, are evidently attributed to her. The first I have
elsewhere explained as "The wrath-subduer' (ante, p.
158), and the second is in exact accordance with it. Mylitta, or,
as it is in Greek, Mylitta, signifies "The Mediatrix." The
Hebrew Melitz, which in Chaldee becomes Melitt, is evidently used
in Job xxxiii. 23, in the sense of a Mediator; "the
messenger, the interpreter" (Melitz), who is "gracious"
to a man, and saith, "Deliver from going down to the
pit: I have found a ransom," being really "The
Messenger, the MEDIATOR." Parkhurst takes the word in
this sense, and derives it from "Mltz," "to be
sweet," Now, the feminine of Melitz is Melitza, from
which comes Melissa, a "bee" (the sweetener,
or producer of sweetness), and Melissa, a common name of the
priestesses of Cybele, and as we may infer of Cybele, as Astarte,
or Queen of Heaven, herself; for, after Porphyry, has stated that
"the ancients called the priestesses of Demeter,
Melissae," he adds, that they also "called the
Moon Melissa" (Deantro Nympharum, p. 18). We have
evidence, further, that goes far to identify this title as a
title of Semiramis. Melissa or Melitta (APOLLODORUS, vol. i. lib.
ii. p. 110)--for the name is given in both ways--is said to have
been the mother of Phoroneus, the first that reigned, in whose
days the dispersion of mankind occurred, divisions having come in
among them, whereas before, all had been in harmony and spoke one
language (Hyginus, fab. 143, p. 114). There is no other to whom
this can be applied but Nimrod; and as Nimrod came to be
worshipped as Nin, the son of his own wife, the identification is
exact. Melitta, then, the mother of Phoroneus, is the same as Mylitta, the well-known name of the Babylonian Venus; and the
name, as being the feminine of Melitz, the Mediator, consequently
signifies the Mediatrix. Another name also given to the mother of Phoroneus, "the first that reigned," is Archia
(LEMPRIERE; see also SMITH, p. 572). Now Archia signifies "Spiritual"
(from "Rkh," Heb. "Spirit," which
in Egyptian also is "Rkh" (BUNSEN, vol. i. p.
516, No. 292); and in Chaldee, with the prosthetic a prefixed
becomes Arkh). * From the same root also evidently comes the
epithet Architis, as applied to the Venus that wept for Adonis. *
Venus Architis is the spiritual Venus. * Thus, then, the
mother-wife of the first king that reigned was known as Archia
and Melitta, in other words, as the woman in whom the "Spirit
of God" was incarnate; and thus appeared as the "Dea
Benigna," "The Mediatrix" for sinful mortals.
The first form of Astarte, as Eve, brought sin into the world;
the second form before the Flood, was avenging as the goddess of
justice. This form was "Benignant and Merciful." Thus,
also Semiramis, or Astarte, as Venus the goddess of love and
beauty, became "The HOPE of the whole world,"
and men gladly had recourse to the "mediation" of
one so tolerant of son.
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