|Astarte is a major Northwest Semitic
goddess, cognate in name, origin and
functions with the East Semitic goddess
Ishtar. Another transliteration is
Ashtart; other names for the
goddess include Hebrew or Phoenician
Ashtoreth, Ugaritic ttrt (also
Attart or Athtart, transliterated
Atirat), and Akkadian dAs-tar-tú
Ashtart was connected with
fertility, sexuality, and war. Her
symbols were the lion, the horse,
the sphinx, the dove, and a star
within a circle indicating the planet
Venus. Pictorial representations
often show her naked.
Ashtart was accepted by the Greeks under the name of
Aphrodite. The island of Cyprus, one of Ashtart's greatest
cult centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite's most
Other major centers of Ashtart's worship were Sidon,
Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which
a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Ashtart.
In Sidon she shared a temple with Eshmun. At Beirut coins
show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.
Other cult centers were Cytherea, Malta and Eryx in Sicily
from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina.
A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about
500 BCE found near Caere in Etruria equates Ashtart
with Uni, that is Juno. At Carthage Ashtart was worshipped
along side the goddess Tanit.
Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of
Ashtart from Tutugi (Galera) near Granada in Spain dating
to the 6th or 7th century BCE in which Ashtart sits
on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her
breasts which are pierced. A hollow in the statue would have
been filled with milk through the head and gentle heating
would have melted wax plugging the holes, producing an apparent
The Syrian goddess Atargatis (Semitic form Ataratah)
was generally equated with Ashtart and the first element
of the name appears to be related to the name Ashtart.
Ashtart in Ugarit
Ashtart appears in Ugaritic texts under the name Athtart
but is of little importance in those texts. Athtart
and Anat together hold back Baal from attacking
the other gods. Ashtart also asks Baal to "scatter"
Yamm "Sea" after Baal's victory. Athtart
is called the "Face of Baal".
Ashtart in Egypt
Ashtart's first appears in Egypt beginning with the
18th Dynasty along with other northwest Semitic deities. She
was especially worshipped in her aspect of a war goddess,
often paired with the goddess Anat. In the Contest Between
Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of
Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, here identified
with the Semitic god Hadad. Ashtart was also identified
with the goddess Sekhmet but seemingly more often conflated,
at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images
found of Ashtart suckling a small child. Indeed there
is statue of the 6th century BCE in the Cairo Museum, which
would normally be taken as protraying Isis with her child
Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography
follows normal Egyptian conventions but the dedicatory inscription
reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda,
for his Lady, for Ashtart." See G. Daressy, (1905)
pl. LXI (CGC 39291).
Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, indicates that the king
and queen of Byblos, who unknowingly have the Osiris' body
in a pillar in their hall, are Melcarthus (ie. Melqart) and
Astarte (though he notes some instead call the queen Saosis
or Nemanus, which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to
the Greek name Athenais).
||Ashtart described by Sanchuniathon
In the description of the Phoenician
pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon
Ashtart appears as a daughter
of Sky and Earth and sister of the
god El. After El overthrows and banishes
his father Sky, Sky sends to El as
some kind of trick his "virgin
daughter" Ashtart along
with her sisters Asherah and the goddess
who will later be called Baalat
Gebul "the Lady of Byblos".
It seems that this trick does not
work as all three become wives of
their brother El. Ashtart bears
to El children who appear under Greek
names as seven daughters called the
Titanides or Artemides and two sons
named Pothos "Longing" and
Later we see, with El's consent, Ashtart and Hadad
reigning over the land together. Ashtart, puts the head
of a bull on her own head to symbolize her sovereignty. Wandering
through the world Ashtart takes up a star that has fallen
from the sky and consecrates it at Tyre.
The Masoretic (from "Masorah", which is a body of
scribal notes that form a textual guide to the Hebrew Old
Testament, compiled from the 7th to 10th centuries CE) pointing
in the Hebrew Tanach (bible) indicate the pronunciation as
Atoret instead of the expected Ateret,
probably because the two last syllables have here been pointed
with the vowels belonging to boshet "abomination"
to indicate that word should be substituted when reading.
The plural form, referring to multiple goddesses, is pointed
Astarte and Ashtoreth
Astarte, or Ashtoret in Hebrew, was the principal goddess
of the Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature.
She was a lunar goddess and was adopted by the Egyptians as
a daughter of Ra or Ptah.
In Jewish mythology, she is referred to as Ashtoreth, supposedly
interpreted as a female demon of lust in Hebrew monotheism.
This interpretation is also inherited by Christianity. The
name Asherah may also be confused with Ashtoreth, but is probably
a different goddess.
In Christian demonology, Ashtoreth is connected to Friday,
and visually represented as a young woman with a cow's horns
on her head (sometimes with a cow's tail too).
The cult of Astarte was one of the main competitors to the
early Hebrew monotheism.
There is a serious basis for the
opinion that the Greek goddess Aphrodite
(especially Aphrodite Urania) is
just another name for Astarte. Herodotus
wrote that the cult of Aphrodite
originated in Phoenicia and came
to Greeks from there. He also wrote
about the world's largest temple
of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician
Connection to planet Venus is another
similarity to the Aphrodite cult,
apparently from the Mesopotamian
goddess Ishtar. Doves sacrificed
Today she is the second name in
an energy chant sometimes used in
Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter,
and Goddesses Menu
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