ISBN: 978-2-87457-118-3

Atargatis and her Hellenized Sister Aphrodite With an appendix on Cybele - Kubaba

 = Paper = 

by Herman MOORS, in Res Antiquae 17, 2020.

In this article I will argue that Aphrodite – or Kypris, as she was called by Homer – is to be understood as the Greco-Cypriot interpretation of the Syrian goddess Atargatis, to whom the first part of this study is devoted. Contrary to common opinion, her name will be explained as a compound of Astarte and ‘Ate, the latter being the bearded and violent, even self-destructive, son of the former. Merged into a symbiotic unity, such divine duality arguably reflects the most archaic image humanity has formed of divinity. In the second part, I explain Aphrodite as an epithet of Semitic origin which emphasizes the ambivalence of the goddess’s personality as she primarily is known in Cyprus. In Greece, on the other hand, the primordial goddess metamorphoses into the daughter of the supreme god of Olympus. Accompanied by Eros and Himeros from the moment she emerges from the sea in Paphos, she manifests herself first as Ourania, a name that Herodotus and Pausanias reserve for the eastern Aphrodite. Her subsequent integration among the Olympian deities, presumably replacing a great native goddess (possibly Dione), paved the way for her transformation into a goddess of love, who, accompanied by a ruthless Eros or a little martial Mars, haunts western fantasy until today. The appendix dedicated to the goddess Cybele highlights her connection with the Anatolian goddess Kubaba, while at the same time the Semitic origin of her name and her personality is put in evidence.

Keywords: Dea Syria, Derketo, Atargatis, Aphroditos, Kupapa, Kubela, Ru(wa)ntiyas, Hadadrimmon