Phoenician History is
the oldest document of human culture & the Western World's historical archives.
Phoenician History is the oldest non-coded archive of
the Western World by a Phoenician priest and writer, Sanchuniathon,
Eusebius of Caesarea
341 AD) or Eusebius Pamphili was Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. He
is considered the "Father of Church History," and was a Christian
scholar and presbyter in the church at Caesarea. His major work was
his History of the Church, a massive piece of research that preserves
quotations from many older writers that would otherwise have been lost,
specifically, for researchers of Phoenician history.
In the extracts
from his book Praeparatio
for the Gospel) from a translation by E. H.
Gifford in 1903, a considerable gist of Phoenician theology is made
available. In fact, Phoenician
History contained in his book is the oldest non-coded document of the Western
World's historical archives. Furthermore it is particularly valuable
because its author, Sanchuniathon, was a free man who
did not hesitate to denounce myths. Phoenician History is a fundamental
document of human culture, and the surviving fragments of it were almost
lost had it not been for Eusebius.
Before the reader examines the extracts mentioned herewith, four important icons of knowledge need to be made known to the average reader of history who may not be familiar with them. They are Sanchuniathon of Berytus, Taautos of Byblos, Philo of Byblius and Porphyry of Tyre,
of Berytus (Beirut) or Sakkun-yathon in Phoenician means "the
god Sakkun has given." He was an ancient Phoenician sage, priest
and writer. He lived before the Trojan times. Judging from the fragments
of the Phoenician History, Sanchuniathon appears to have been
a contemporary of Semiramis, the Queen of Assyria, the wife of Ninus,
with whom she founded Nineveh 2,000 BC. However, some believe that Sanchuniathon was a contemporary of Gideon 1339 BC without any proof. His book
goes back into fabled antiquity. Sanchuniathon, like Vgasa in India,
is said to have been a compiler of extremely ancient theogonic and historical
documents that had been transmitted to him either by oral tradition
or in writing. Sanchuniathon derived the sacred lore from the mystic
inscriptions on the nfjawtis (probably hammanim, "sun pillars,"1)
which stood in Phoenician temples. Porphyry of Tyre says that Sanchuniathon
wrote a history of the Jews, based on information derived from Hierombal
(i.e. Jeruba'al), a priest of the god Jevo (i.e. Yahveh). He dedicated
it to Abelbal or Abibal, king of Berytus. The story was thought to be
fictional because of its reference to Berytus; however, excavation in Berytus
in recent years prove that the city maybe older than Byblos that has cultural tradition to 8,000 BC. His Phoenician History may
be regarded as one of the most authentic memorials of the events which
took place before the Flood. It begins with a legendary cosmogony and
relates to how the first two mortals were begotten by the Wind (Spirit)
and his wife Baau (Darkness). It refers to the Fall, the production
of fire, the invention of huts and clothing, the origin of the arts
of agriculture, hunting, fishing and navigation, and the beginnings
of human civilization. Sanchuniathon gives a curious account of the descendants
of the line of Cain. His history of the descendants of the line of Seth reads like the record in Genesis.
Byblius (Byblos) or Herennios Philon of Byblos (64 - 141 AD)
was a Phoenician scholar and Roman citizen, born in Byblos, and representative
of the Roman Consul Herennius Severus. He wrote numerous works of grammatical,
lexical, encyclopedic and historical importance. He wrote in Greek about
scientific authors and famous people and their work, especially emperor
Hadrian. His most important work is the translation of Phoenician
History by Sanchuniathon. This work was thought to be made up but
since 1929 archaeological evidence from Ras Shamra, Ugarit, of clay
tablets texts dated to 1,400 - 1,200 BC proved him true. He
had a considerable reputation for honesty in his work which archaeology
confirmed. His Greek translation represents a valuable source for our
knowledge of the Phoenician Canaanite religion. According to Philo, the
names of Mount Lebanon, the mountain range of the Anti-Lebanon and other
Syrian mountains were derived from the name of giants who once dwelt
there.2 In ancient history, most high mountains were thought
of as the abode of gods. In the case of Mount Lebanon, it would have
been Baal Lebanon, sometimes identified as Baal Hadad (Avi-Yonah 1982:
Porphyry Malchus of Tyre
(223 - 309 AD) was born in Tyre and studied in Athens, before joining the Neoplatonic group of Plotinus in Rome were he studied philosophy. Porphyry was a man of great learning and was interested in and had great talent for historical and philological criticism. He had a passion to uproot false teachings in order to ennoble people and turn them to the Good. He declared the salvation of the soul as the ultimate purpose of philosophy. His works include Against the Christians, a work of 15 volumes directed not against Christ or his teachings, but against the Christians of his own day and their sacred books. He argued they were the work of ignorant people and deceivers. He attacked Christian doctrines on both philosophical and exegetical grounds. As to be expected, his books were banned in 448 and ordered destroyed by the Christians. Copious extracts of them remain in the writings of Saint Augustine and others. Other books such as Aids to the Study of the Intelligibles, is a basic summary of Neoplatonism. He wrote against Moses and attacked Eusebius of Caesarea. He lived an austere celibate life. Porphyry believed that animals3 (unlike plants) although having somewhat less rational souls than humans, nevertheless still had souls. He believed that they were capable of recognizing and assessing their situation, making future plans and in a sense communicating and responding to one another and to humans. For additional information on Porphyry, please refer to the linked page in this site which is dedicated to him.
Taautos of Byblos or Thoth came from
Byblos, Phoenicia, ca. 2,000 BC. According to the Egyptians, language is attributed to Taautos4 who was the father of tautology or imitation. He invented the first written characters two thousand years BC or earlier. He played his flute to the chief deity of Byblos, the moon-goddess
Ba'alat Nikkal. Taautos was called Thoth by the Greeks and Djehuti
by the Egyptians. The mythology of Taautos is echoed in the god
Dionysus, or Njörth the snake priest who was the consort to the
moon-goddess. The snake priest was also represented by the symbol
of a pillar, a wand or a caduceus. The Greeks equated Thoth with
the widely-traveled Hermes. According to Egyptian tradition, Osiris
traveled the world with Thoth. Asklepios
a.k.a. as Eshmun is responsible for carrying on the teachings of Taautos
on snake priesthood. Under the protective umbrella of Hindu culture, snake charmers playing their nasal punji echo the same tradition. In the early ages
of Christianity, some monks, such as Pachomius was a Serapic Priest
before he became a Christian. Similarly, Ormus is said to have been a Seraphic
priest before being converted by Saint Mark. Some believe that he fused those Mysteries
with Christianity and establishing a school of Solomonic Wisdom.
Extracts from Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E. H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 1
Chapters 6, 9 and 10 are presented as is.
Primitive theology of Phoenicians and Egyptians
It is reported then
that Phoenicians and Egyptians were the first of all mankind to declare
the sun and moon and stars to be gods, and to be the sole causes of
both the generation and decay of the universe, and that they afterwards
introduced into common life the deifications and theogonies which are
matters of general notoriety.
Before these, it
is said, no one made any progress in the knowledge of the celestial
phenomena, except the few men mentioned among the Hebrews, who with
clearest mental eyes looked beyond all the visible world, and worshipped
the Maker and Creator of the universe, marvelling much at the greatness
of His wisdom and power, which they represented to themselves from His
works; and being persuaded that He alone was God, they naturally spake
only of Him as God, son from father successively receiving and guarding
this as the true, the first, and the only religion. The rest of mankind,
however, having fallen away from this only true religion, and gazing
in awe upon the luminaries of heaven with eyes of flesh, as mere children
in mind, proclaimed them gods, and honoured them with sacrifices and
acts of worship, though as yet they built no temples, nor formed likenesses
of mortal men with statues and carved images, but looked up to the clear
sky and to heaven itself, and in their souls reached up unto the things
Not here, however,
did polytheistic error stay its course for men of later generations,
but driving on into an abyss of evils wrought even greater impiety than
the denial of God, the Phoenicians and then the Egyptians being the
first authors of the delusion. For from them, it is said, Orpheus, son
of Oeagrus, first brought over with him the mysteries of the Egyptians,
and imparted them to the Greeks; just, in fact, as Cadmus brought to
them the Phoenician mysteries together with the knowledge of letters:
for the Greeks up to that time did not yet know the use of the alphabet.
let us inquire how those of whom we are speaking have judged concerning
the first creation of the world; then consider their opinions about
the first and most ancient superstition found in human life; and, thirdly,
the opinions of the Phoenicians; fourthly, those of the Egyptians; after
which, fifthly, making a distinction in the opinions of the Greeks,
we will first examine their ancient and more mythical delusion, and
then their more serious and, as they say, more natural philosophy concerning
the gods: and after this we will travel over the account of their admired
oracles; after which we will also take a survey of the serious doctrines
of the noble philosophy of the Greeks. So, when these have been thoroughly
discussed, we will pass over to the doctrines of the Hebrews mean
of the original and true Hebrews, and of those who afterwards received
the name Jews. And after all these we will add our own doctrines as
it were a seal set upon the whole. The history of all these we must
necessarily recall, that so by comparison of the doctrines which have
been admired in each country the test of the truth may be exhibited,
and it may become manifest to our readers from what opinions we have
departed, and what that truth is which we have chosen. But now let us
pass to the first point.
From what source
then shall we verify our proofs? Not, of course, from our own Scriptures,
lest we should seem to show favour to our argument: but let Greeks themselves
appear as our witnesses, both those of them who boast of their philosophy,
and those who have investigated the history of other nations.
Well then, in recording
the ancient theology of the Egyptians from the beginning, Diodorus,
the Sicilian, leads the way, a man thoroughly known to the most learned
of the Greeks as having collected the whole Library of History into
one treatise. From him I will set forth first what he has clearly stated
in the beginning of his work concerning the origin of the whole world,
while recording the opinion of the ancients in the manner following.
The ancients worshipped no other gods than the celestial luminaries, knowing
nothing of the God of the universe, nor even of the erection of carved
images, nor of daemons
[DIODORUS] 'It is
said then that the men who dwelled of old in Egypt when they looked
up to the cosmos, and were struck with astonishment and admiration at
the nature of the universe, supposed that the sun and moon were two
eternal and primal gods, one of whom they named Osiris, and the other
Isis, each name being applied from some true etymology.
'For when they are
translated into the Greek form of speech, Osiris is "many eyed"; with
reason, for casting his beams in every direction he beholds, as it were
with many eyes, the whole earth and sea: and with this the poet's words
Sun, who all things seest, and nearest all." 5
'But some of the
ancient mythologists among the Greeks give to Osiris the additional
name Dionysus, and, by a slight change in the name, Sirius. One of these,
Eumolpus, speaks in his Bacchic poems thus:
"Bright as a star, his face aflame with rays." 6
And Orpheus says:
same cause Phanes and Dionysus him they call."7
Some say also that
the fawn-skin cloak is hung about him as a representation of the spangling
of the stars.
'"Isis" too, being
interpreted, means "ancient," the name having been given to the Moon
from her ancient and eternal origin. And they put horns upon her, both
from the aspect with which she appears whenever she is crescent-shaped,
and also from the cow which is consecrated to her among the Egyptians.
And these deities they suppose to regulate the whole world.' 8
Such then are the
statements on this subject. You find, too, in the Phoenician theology,
that their first 'physical philosophers knew no other gods than the
sun, the moon, and besides these the planets, the elements also, and
the things connected with them'; and that to these the earliest of mankind
'consecrated the productions of the earth, and regarded them as gods,
and worshipped them as the sources of sustenance to themselves and to
following generations, and to all that went before them, and offered
to them drink-offerings and libations.' But pity and lamentation and
weeping they consecrated to the produce of the earth when perishing,
and to the generation of living creatures at first from the earth, and
then to their production one from another, and to their end, when they
departed from life. These their notions of worship were in accordance
with their own weakness, and the want as yet of any enterprise of mind.'
Such are the statements
of the Phoenician writings, as will be proved in due course. Moreover,
one of our own time, that very man who gains celebrity by his abuse
of us, in the treatise which he entitled Of Abstinence from Animal
Food, makes mention of the old customs of the ancients as follows
in his own words, on the testimony of Theophrastus:9
[Porphyry] 'It is
probably an incalculable time since, as Theophrastus says, the most
learned race of mankind, inhabiting that most sacred land which Nilus
founded, were the first to begin to offer upon the hearth to the heavenly
deities not the first-fruits of myrrh nor of cassia and frankincense
mingled with saffron; for these were adopted many generations later,
when man becoming a wanderer in search of his necessary livelihood with
many toils and tears offered drops of these tinctures as first-fruits
to the gods.
'"Of these then
they made no offerings formerly, but of herbage, which they lifted up
in their hands as the bloom of the productive power of nature. For the
earth gave forth trees before animals, and long before trees the herbage
which is produced year by year; and of this they culled leaves and roots
and the whole shoots of their growth, and burned them, greeting thus
the visible deities of heaven with their offering, and dedicating to
them the honours of perpetual fire.
'For these they
also kept in their temples an undying fire, as being most especially
like them. And from the fume (θυμιασις)
of the produce of the earth they formed the words θυμιατηρια
(altars of incense), and θυειν (to offer),
and θυσιας (offerings),words which we
misunderstand as signifying the erroneous practice of later times, when
we apply the term θυσια to the so-called worship
which consists of animal sacrifice.
'And so anxious
were the men of old not to transgress their custom, that they cursed
(αρωμαι) those who neglected the old fashion
and introduced another, calling their own incense-offerings αρωματα.'
After these and
other statements he adds:
'But when these
beginnings of sacrifices were carried by men to a great pitch of disorder,
the adoption of the most dreadful offerings, full of cruelty, was introduced;
so that the curses formerly pronounced against us seemed now to have
received fulfilment, when men slaughtered victims and defiled the altars
with blood.' 10
So far writes Porphyry ,
or rather Theophrastus: and we may find a seal and confirmation of the
statement in what Plato in the Cratylus, before his remarks concerning
the Greeks, says word for word as follows:
[PLATO] 'It appears
to me that the first inhabitants of Hellas had only the same gods as
many of the barbarians have now, namely the sun, moon, earth, stars,
and heaven: as therefore they saw them always moving on in their course
and running (θεοντα), from this their
natural tendency to run they called them θεουσ (gods).' 11
But I think it must
be evident to every one on consideration that the first and most ancient
of mankind did not apply themselves either to building temples or to
setting up statues, since at that time no art of painting, or modelling,
[or carving], or statuary had yet been discovered, nor, indeed, were
building or architecture as yet established.
Nor was there any
mention among the men of that age of those who have since been denominated
gods and heroes, nor had they any Zeus, nor Kronos, Poseidon, Apollo,
Hera, Athena, Dionysus, nor any other deity, either male or female,
such as there were afterwards in multitudes among both barbarians and
Greeks; nor was there any daemon good or bad reverenced among men, but
only the visible stars of heaven because of their running (θεειν)
received, as they themselves say, the title of gods (θεων),
and even these were not worshipped with animal sacrifices and the honours
afterwards superstitiously invented.
This statement is
not ours, but the testimony comes from within, and from the Greeks themselves,
and supplies its proof by the words which have been already quoted and
by those which will hereafter be set forth in due order.
This is what our
holy Scriptures also teach, in which it is contained, that in the beginning
the worship of the visible luminaries had been assigned to all the nations,
and that to the Hebrew race alone had been entrusted the full initiation
into the knowledge of God the Maker and Artificer of the universe, and
of true piety towards Him. So then among the oldest of mankind there
was no mention of a Theogony, either Greek or barbarian, nor any erection
of lifeless statues, nor all the silly talk that there is now about
the naming of the gods both male and female.
In fact the titles
and names which men have since invented were not as yet known among
mankind: no, nor yet invocations of invisible daemons and spirits, nor
absurd mythologies about gods and heroes, nor mysteries of secret initiations,
nor anything at all of the excessive and frivolous superstition of later
These then were
men's inventions, and representations of our mortal nature, or rather
new devices of base and licentious dispositions, according to our divine
oracle which says, The devising of idols was the beginning of fornication.12
In fact the polytheistic
error of all the nations is only seen long ages afterwards, having taken
its beginning from the Phoenicians and Egyptians, and passed over from
them to the other nations, and even to the Greeks themselves. For this
again is affirmed by the history of the earliest ages; which history
itself it is now time for us to review, beginning from the Phoenician
Now the historian
of this subject is Sanchuniathon, an author of great antiquity, and
older, as they say, than the Trojan times, one whom they testify to
have been approved for the accuracy and truth of his Phoenician History.
Philo of Byblos, not the Hebrew, translated his whole work from the
Phoenician language into the Greek, and published it. The author in
our own day of the compilation against us mentions these things in the
fourth book of his treatise Against the Christians, where he
bears the following testimony to Sanchuniathon, word for word:
[Porphyry] 'Of the
affairs of the Jews the truest history, because the most in accordance
with their places and names, is that of Sanchuniathon of Berytus, who
received the records from Hierombalus the priest of the god Ieuo; he
dedicated his history to Abibalus king of Berytus, and was approved
by him and by the investigators of truth in his time. Now the times
of these men fall even before the date of the Trojan war, and approach
nearly to the times of Moses, as is shown by the successions of the
kings of Phoenicia. And Sanchuniathon, who made a complete collection
of ancient history from the records in the various cities and from the
registers in the temples, and wrote in the Phoenician language with
a love of truth, lived in the reign of Semiramis, the queen of the Assyrians,
who is recorded to have lived before the Trojan war or in those very
times. And the works of Sanchuniathon were translated into the Greek
tongue by Philo of Byblos.' 13
So wrote the author
before mentioned, bearing witness at once to the truthfulness and antiquity
of the so-called theologian. But he, as he goes forward, treats as divine
not the God who is over all, nor yet the gods in the heaven, but mortal
men and women, not even refined in character, such as it would be right
to approve for their virtue, or emulate for their love of wisdom, but
involved in the dishonour of every kind of vileness and wickedness.
He testifies also
that these are the very same who are still regarded as gods by all both
in the cities and in country districts. But let me give you the proofs
of this out of his writings.
Philo then, having
divided the whole work of Sanchuniathon into nine books, in the introduction
to the first book makes this preface concerning Sanchuniathon, word
for word: 14
[PHILO] 'These things
being so, Sanchuniathon, who was a man of much learning and great curiosity,
and desirous of knowing the earliest history of all nations from the
creation of the world, searched out with great care the history of Taautus,
knowing that of all men under the sun Taautus was the first who thought
of the invention of letters, and began the writing of records: and he
laid the foundation, as it were, of his history, by beginning with him,
whom the Egyptians called Thoyth, and the Alexandrians Thoth, translated
by the Greeks into Hermes.'
After these statements
he finds fault with the more recent authors as violently and untruly
reducing the legends concerning the gods to allegories and physical
explanations and theories; and so he goes on to say:
'But the most recent
of the writers on religion rejected the real events from the beginning,
and having invented allegories and myths, and formed a fictitious affinity
to the cosmical phenomena, established mysteries, and overlaid them
with a cloud of absurdity, so that one cannot easily discern what really
occurred: but he having lighted upon the collections of secret writings
of the Ammoneans which were discovered in the shrines and of course
were not known to all men, applied himself diligently to the study of
them all; and when he had completed the investigation, he put aside
the original myth and the allegories, and so completed his proposed
work; until the priests who followed in later times wished to hide this
away again, and to restore the mythical character; from which time mysticism
began to rise up, not having previously reached the Greeks.'
Next to this he
'These things I
have discovered in my anxious desire to know the history of the Phoenicians,
and after a thorough investigation of much matter, not that which is
found among the Greeks, for that is contradictory, and compiled by some
in a contentious spirit rather than with a view to truth.'
And after other
'And the conviction
that the facts were as he has described them came to me, on seeing the
disagreement among the Greeks: concerning which I have carefully composed
three books bearing the title Paradoxical History.'
And again after
other statements he adds:
'But with a view
to clearness hereafter, and the determination of particulars, it is
necessary to state distinctly beforehand that the most ancient of the
barbarians, and especially the Phoenicians and Egyptians, from whom
the rest of mankind received their traditions, regarded as the greatest
gods those who had discovered the necessaries of life, or in some way
done good to the nations. Esteeming these as benefactors and authors
of many blessings, they worshipped them also as gods after their death,
and built shrines, and consecrated pillars and staves after their names:
these the Phoenicians held in great reverence, and assigned to them
their greatest festivals. Especially they applied the names of their
kings to the elements of the cosmos, and to some of those who were regarded
as gods. But they knew no other gods than those of nature, sun, and
moon, and the rest of the wandering stars, and the elements and things
connected with them, so that some of their gods were mortal and some
Philo having explained
these points in his preface, next begins his interpretation of Sanchuniathon
by setting forth the theology of the Phoenicians.
Theology of the Phoenicians
'The first principle
of the universe he supposes to have been air dark with cloud and wind,
or rather a blast of cloudy air, and a turbid chaos dark as Erebus;
and these were boundless and for long ages had no limit. But when the
wind, says he, became enamoured of its own parents, and a mixture took
place, that connexion was called Desire. This was the beginning of the
creation of all things: but the wind itself had no knowledge of its
own creation. From its connexion Mot was produced, which some say is
mud, and others a putrescence of watery compound; and out of this came
every germ of creation, and the generation of the universe. So there
were certain animals which had no sensation, and out of them grew intelligent
animals, and were called "Zophasemin," that is "observers of heaven";
and they were formed like the shape of an egg. Also Mot burst forth
into light, and sun, and moon, and stars, and the great constellations.'
Such was their cosmogony,
introducing downright atheism. But let us see next how he states the
generation of animals to have arisen. He says, then:
'And when the air
burst into light, both the sea and the land became heated, and thence
arose winds and clouds, and very great downpours and floods of the waters
of heaven. So after they were separated, and removed from their proper
place because of the sun's heat, and all met together again in the air
dashing together one against another, thunderings and lightnings were
produced, and at the rattle of the thunder the intelligent animals already
described woke up, and were scared at the sound, and began to move both
on land and sea, male and female.'
Such is their theory
of the generation of animals. Next after this the same writer adds and
'These things were
found written in the cosmogony of Taautus, and in his Commentaries,
both from conjectures, and from evidences which his intellect discerned,
and discovered, and made clear to us.'
Next to this, after
mentioning the names of the winds Notos and Boreas and the rest, he
'But these were
the first who consecrated the productions of the earth, and regarded
them as gods, and worshipped them as being the support of life both
to themselves, and to those who were to come after them, and to all
before them, and they offered to them drink-offerings and libations.'
He adds also:
'These were their
notions of worship, corresponding to their own weakness, and timidity
of soul. Then he says that from the wind Colpias and his wife Baau (which
he translates "Night") were born Aeon and Protogonus, mortal men, so
called: and that Aeon discovered the food obtained from trees. That
their offspring were called Genos and Genea, and inhabited Phoenicia:
and that when droughts occurred, they stretched out their hands to heaven
towards the sun; for him alone (he says) they regarded as god the lord
of heaven, calling him Beelsamen, which is in the Phoenician language
"lord of heaven," and in Greek "Zeus."'
And after this he
charges the Greeks with error, saying:
'For it is not without
cause that we have explained these things in many ways, but in view
of the later misinterpretations of the names in the history, which the
Greeks in ignorance took in a wrong sense, being deceived by the ambiguity
of the translation.'
Afterwards he says:
'From Genos, son
of Aeon and Protogonus, were begotten again mortal children, whose names
are Light, and Fire, and Flame. These, says he, discovered fire from
rubbing pieces of wood together, and taught the use of it. And they
begat sons of surpassing size and stature, whose names were applied
to the mountains which they occupied: so that from them were named mount
Cassius, and Libanus, and Antilibanus, and Brathy. From these, he says,
were begotten Memrumus and Hypsuranius; and they got their names, he
says, from their mothers, as the women in those days had free intercourse
with any whom they met.'
Then he says:
Tyre, and contrived huts out of reeds and rushes and papyrus: and he
quarrelled with his brother Ousous, who first invented a covering for
the body from skins of wild beasts which he was strong enough to capture.
And when furious rains and winds occurred, the trees in Tyre were rubbed
against each other and caught fire, and burnt down the wood that was
there. And Ousous took a tree, and, having stripped off the branches,
was the first who ventured to embark on the sea; and be consecrated
two pillars to fire and wind, and worshipped them, and poured libations
of blood upon them from the wild beasts which he took in hunting.
'But when Hypsuranius
and Ousous were dead, those who were left, he says, consecrated staves
to them, and year by year worshipped their pillars and kept festivals
in their honour. But many years afterwards from the race of llypsuranius
were born Agreus and Halieus, the inventors of hunting and fishing,
from whom were named huntsmen and fishermen: and from them were bom
two brethren, discoverers of iron and the mode of working it; the one
of whom, Chrysor, practised oratory, and incantations, and divinations:
and that he was Hephaestus, and invented the hook, and bait, and line,
and raft, and was the first of all men to make a voyage: wherefore they
reverenced him also as a god after his death. And he was also called
Zeus Meilichios. And some say that his brothers invented walls of brick.
Afterwards there sprang from their race two youths, one of whom was
called Technites (Artificer), and the other Geinos Autochthon (Earth-born
Aboriginal). These devised the mixing of straw with the clay of bricks,
and drying them in the sun, and moreover invented roofs. From them others
were born, one of whom was called Agros, and the other Agrueros or Agrotes;
and of the latter there is in Phoenicia a much venerated statue, and
a shrine drawn by yokes of oxen; and among the people of Byblos he is
named pre-eminently the greatest of the gods.
'These two devised
the addition to houses of courts, and enclosures, and caves. From them
came husbandmen and huntsmen. They are also called Aletae and Titans.
From these were born Amynos and Magus, who established villages and
sheepfolds. From them came Misor and Suduc, that is to say "Straight
" and "Just": these discovered the use of salt.
'From Misor was
born Taautus, who invented the first written alphabet; the Egyptians
called him Thoyth, the Alexandrians Thoth, and the Greeks Hermes.
'From Suduc came
the Dioscuri, or Cabeiri, or Corybantes, or Samothraces: these, he says,
first invented a ship. From them have sprung others, who discovered
herbs, and the healing of venomous bites, and charms. In their time
is born a certain Elioun called "the Most High," and a female named
Beruth, and these dwelt in the neighbourhood of Byblos.
'And from them is
born Epigeius or Autochthon, whom they afterwards called Uranus; so
that from him they named the element above us Uranus because of the
excellence of its beauty. And he has a sister born of the aforesaid
parents, who was called Ge (earth), and from her, he says, because of
her beauty, they called the earth by the same name. And their father,
the Most High, died in an encounter with wild beasts, and was deified,
and his children offered to him libations and sacrifices.
'And Uranus, having
succeeded to his father's rule, takes to himself in marriage his sister
Ge, and gets by her four sons, Elus who is also Kronos, and Baetylus,
and Dagon who is Siton, and Atlas. Also by other wives Uranus begat
a numerous progeny; on which account Ge was angry, and from jealousy
began to reproach Uranus, so that they even separated from each other.
'But Uranus, after
he had left her, used to come upon her with violence, whenever he chose,
and consort with her, and go away again; he used to try also to destroy
his children by her; but Ge repelled him many times, having gathered
to herself allies. And when Kronos had advanced to manhood, he, with
the counsel and help of Hermes Trismegistus (who was his secretary),
repels his father Uranus, and avenges his mother.
'To Kronos are born
children, Persephone and Athena. The former died a virgin: but by the
advice of Athena and Hermes Kronos made a sickle and a spear of iron.
Then Hermes talked magical words to the allies of Kronos, and inspired
them with a desire of fighting against Uranus on behalf of Ge. And thus
Kronos engaged in war, and drove Uranus from his government, and succeeded
to the kingdom. Also there was taken in the battle the beloved concubine
of Uranus, being great with child, whom Kronos gave in marriage to Dagon.
And in his house she gave birth to the child begotten of Uranus, which
she named Demarus.
' After this Kronos
builds a wall round his own dwelling, and founds the first city, Byblos
'Soon after this
he became suspicious of his own brother Atlas, and, with the advice
of Hermes, threw him into a deep pit and buried him. At about this time
the descendants of the Dioscuri put together rafts and ships, and made
voyages; and, being cast ashore near Mount Cassius, consecrated a temple
there. And the allies of Elus, who is Kronos, were surnamed Eloim, as
these same, who were surnamed after Kronos, would have been called Kronii.
'And Kronos, having
a son Sadidus, dispatched him with his own sword, because he regarded
him with suspicion, and deprived him of life, thus becoming the murderer
of his son. In like manner he cut off the head of a daughter of his
own; so that all the gods were dismayed at the disposition of Kronos.
'But as time went
on Uranus, being in banishment, secretly sends his maiden daughter Astarte
with two others her sisters, Ehea and Dione, to slay Kronos by craft.
But Kronos caught them, and though they were his sisters, made them
his wedded wives. And when Uranus knew it, he sent Eimarmene and Hora
with other allies on an expedition against Kronos. and these Kronos
won over to his side and kept with him.
'Further, he says,
the god Uranus devised the Baetylia, having contrived to put life into
stones. And to Kronos there were born of Astarte seven daughters, Titanides
or Artemides: and again to the same there were born of Rhea seven sons,
of whom the youngest was deified at his birth; and of Dione females,
and of Astarte again two males, Desire and Love. And Dagon, after he
discovered corn and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrios.
'And one of the
Titanides united to Suduc, who is named the Just, gives birth to Asclepius.
'In Peraea also
there were born to Kronos three sons, Kronos of the same name with his
father, and Zeus Belus, and Apollo. In their time are born Pontus, and
Typhon, and Nereus father of Pontus and son of Belus.
'And from Pontus
is born Sidon (who from the exceeding sweetness of her voice was the
first to invent musical song) and Poseidon. And to Demarus is born Melcathrus,
who is also called Hercules.
'Then again Uranus
makes war against Pontus, and after revolting attaches himself to Demarus,
and Demarus attacks Pontus, but Pontus puts him to flight; and Demarus
vowed an offering if he should escape.
'And in the thirty-second
year of his power and kingdom Elus, that is Kronos, having waylaid his
father Uranus in an inland spot, and got him into his hands, emasculates
him near some fountains and rivers. There Uranus was deified: and as
he breathed his last, the blood from his wounds dropped into the fountains
and into the waters of the rivers, and the spot is pointed out to this
This, then, is the
story of Kronos, and such are the glories of the mode of life, so vaunted
among the Greeks, of men in the days of Kronos, whom they also affirm
to have been the first and 'golden race of articulate speaking men,'
15 that blessed happiness of the olden
Again, the historian
adds to this, after other matters:
'But Astarte, the
greatest goddess, and Zeus Demarus, and Adodus king of gods, reigned
over the country with the consent of Kronos. And Astarte set the head
of a bull upon her own head as a mark of royalty; and in travelling
round the world she found a star that had fallen from the sky, which
she took up and consecrated in the holy island Tyre. And the Phoenicians
say that Astarte is Aphrodite.
'Kronos also, in
going round the world, gives the kingdom of Attica to his own daughter
Athena. But on the occurrence of a pestilence and mortality Kronos offers
his only begotten son as a whole burnt-offering to his father Uranus,
and circumcises himself, compelling his allies also to do the same.
And not long after another of his sons by Rhea, named Muth, having died,
he deifies him, and the Phoenicians call him Thanatos and Pluto. And
after this Kronos gives the city Byblos to the goddess Baaltis, who
is also called Dione, and Berytus to Poseidon and to the Cabeiri and
Agrotae and Halieis, who also consecrated the remains of Pontus at Berytus.
'But before this
the god Tauthus imitated the features of the gods who were his companions,
Kronos, and Dagon, and the rest, and gave form to the sacred characters
of the letters. He also devised for Kronos as insignia of royalty four
eyes in front and behind . . . but two of them quietly closed, and upon
his shoulders four wings, two as spread for flying, and two as folded.
'And the symbol
meant that Kronos could see when asleep, and sleep while waking: and
similarly in the case of the wings, that he flew while at rest, and
was at rest when flying. But to each of the other gods he gave two wings
upon the shoulders, as meaning that they accompanied Kronos in his flight.
And to Kronos himself again he gave two wings upon his head, one representing
the all-ruling mind, and one sensation.
'And when Kronos
came into the South country he gave all Egypt to the god Tauthus, that
it might be his royal dwelling-place. And these things, he says, were
recorded first by Suduc's seven sons the Cabeiri, and their eighth brother
Asclepius, as the god Tauthus commanded them.
'All these stories
Thabion, who was the very first hierophant of all the Phoenicians from
the beginning, allegorized and mixed up with the physical and cosmical
phenomena, and delivered to the prophets who celebrated the orgies and
inaugurated the mysteries: and they, purposing to increase their vain
pretensions from every source, handed them on to their successors and
to their foreign visitors: one of these was Eisirius the inventor of
the three letters, brother of Chna the first who had his name changed
Then again afterwards
'But the Greeks,
surpassing all in genius, appropriated most of the earliest stories,
and then variously decked them out with ornaments of tragic phrase,
and adorned them in every way, with the purpose of charming by the pleasant
fables. Hence Hesiod and the celebrated Cyclic poets framed theogonies
of their own, and battles of the giants, and battles of Titans, and
castrations; and with these fables, as they travelled about, they conquered
and drove out the truth.
'But our ears having
grown up in familiarity with their fictions, and being for long ages
pre-occupied, guard as a trust the mythology which they received, just
as I said at the beginning; and this mythology, being aided by time,
has made its hold difficult for us to escape from, so that the truth
is thought to be nonsense, and the spurious narrative truth.'
Let these suffice
as quotations from the writings of Sanchuniathon, translated by Philo
of Byblos, and approved as true by the testimony of Porphyry the philosopher.
The same author,
in his History of the Jews, further writes thus concerning Kronos:
'Tauthus, whom the
Egyptians call Thoyth, excelled in wisdom among the Phoenicians, and
was the first to rescue the worship of the gods from the ignorance of
the vulgar, and arrange it in the order of intelligent experience. Many
generations after him a god Sourmoubelos and Thuro, whose name was changed
to Eusarthis, brought to light the theology of Tauthus which had been
hidden and overshadowed, by allegories.'
And soon after he
'It was a custom
of the ancients in great crises of danger for the rulers of a city or
nation, in order to avert the common ruin, to give up the most beloved
of their children for sacrifice as a ransom to the avenging daemons;
and those who were thus given up were sacrificed with mystic rites.
Kronos then, whom the Phoenicians call Elus, who was king of the country
and subsequently, after his decease, was deified as the star Saturn,
had by a nymph of the country named Anobret an only begotten son, whom
they on this account called ledud, the only begotten being still so
called among the Phoenicians; and when very great dangers from war had
beset the country, he arrayed his son in royal apparel, and prepared
an altar, and sacrificed him.'
Again see what the
same author, in his translation from Sanchuniathon about the Phoenician
alphabet, says concerning the reptiles and venomous beasts, which contribute
no good service to mankind, but work death and destruction to any in
whom they inject their incurable and fatal poison. This also he describes,
saying word for word as follows:
'The nature then
of the dragon and of serpents Tauthus himself regarded as divine, and
so again after him did the Phoenicians and Egyptians: for this animal
was declared by him to be of all reptiles most full of breath, and fiery.
In consequence of which it also exerts an unsurpassable swiftness by
means of its breath, without feet and hands or any other of the external
members by which the other animals make their movements. It also exhibits
forms of various shapes, and in its progress makes spiral leaps as swift
as it chooses. It is also most long-lived, and its nature is to put
off its old skin, and so not only to grow young again, but also to assume
a larger growth; and after it has fulfilled its appointed measure of
age, it is self-consumed, in like manner as Tauthus himself has set
down in his sacred books: for which reason this animal has also been
adopted in temples and in mystic rites.
'We have spoken
more fully about it in the memoirs entitled Ethothiae, in which we prove
that it is immortal, and is self-consumed, as is stated before: for
this animal does not die by a natural death, but only if struck by a
violent blow. The Phoenicians call it "Good Daemon": in like manner
the Egyptians also surname it Cneph; and they add to it the head of
a hawk because of the hawk's activity.
(who is called among them a chief hierophant and sacred scribe, and
whose work was translated [into Greek] by Areius of Heracleopolis),
speaks in an allegory word for word as follows:
'The first and most
divine being is a serpent with the form of a hawk, extremely graceful,
which whenever he opened his eyes filled all with light in his original
birthplace, but if he shut his eyes, darkness came on.'
intimates that he is also of a fiery substance, by saying "he shone
through," for to shine through is peculiar to light. From the Phoenicians
Pherecydes also took the first ideas of his theology concerning the
god called by him Ophion and concerning the Ophionidae, of whom we shall
'Moreover the Egyptians,
describing the world from the same idea, engrave the circumference of
a circle, of the colour of the sky and of fire, and a hawk-shaped serpent
stretched across the middle of it, and the whole shape is like our Theta (θ), representing the circle as the world, and signifying by the
serpent which connects it in the middle the good daemon.
the Magian, in the Sacred Collection of Persian Records, says
in express words: "And god has the head of a hawk. He is the first,
incorruptible, eternal, uncreated, without parts, most unlike (all else),
the controller of all good, who cannot be bribed, the best of all the
good, the wisest of all wise; and he is also a father of good laws and
justice, self-taught, natural, and perfect, and wise, and the sole author
of the sacred power of nature.
'The same also is
said of him by Ostanes in the book entitled Octateuch.'
From Tauthus, as
is said above, all received their impulse towards physiological systems:
and having built temples they consecrated in the shrines the primary
elements represented by serpents, and in their honour celebrated festivals,
and sacrifices, and mystic rites, regarding them as the greatest gods,
and rulers of the universe. So much concerning serpents.
Such then is the
character of the theology of the Phoenicians, from which the word of
salvation in the gospel teaches us to flee with averted eyes, and earnestly
to seek the remedy for this madness of the ancients. It must be manifest
that these are not fables and poets' fictions containing some theory
concealed in hidden meanings, but true testimonies, as they would themselves
say, of wise and ancient theologians, containing things of earlier date
than all poets and historians, and deriving the credibility of their
statements from the names and history of the gods still prevailing in
the cities and villages of Phoenicia, and from the mysteries celebrated
among each people: so that it is no longer necessary to search out violent
physical explanations of these things, since the evidence which the
facts bring with them of themselves is quite clear. Such then is the
theology of the Phoenicians: but it is now time to pass on and examine
carefully the case of the Egyptians.
This text was transcribed by Peter Kirby, with amendments by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003.
Greek text is rendered using either unicode or the Scholars Press SPIonic font.
Additional Reading: Phoenician Theology, Theogony and Creation Story
For essays on Phoenician paganism , theogony (god-idea) and the Phoenician creation story, please use the related links.
Philo or Sanchuniathon? A Phoenician Cosmogony
From Classical Quarterly 41(i) 2 I 3‑220 (1991) Printed in Great Britain
Herennius Philo of Byblos is the subject of a notice in the Suda, which states that he was a grammarian born in Nero's time who lived to such an advanced age that he was still composing works in the reign of Hadrian. The titles listed include: On the Acquisition and Choice of Books: On Cities and their Eminent Citizens; and On the Reign of Hadrian (= Fr. I Jacoby).1 His name, like that of Flavius Josephus, could imply the patronage of a Roman family;2 we may suppose that, like Porphyry and Maximus of Tyre, he was a Phoenician by origin who had adopted the tongue and culture of the Greeks.
Philo's most famous labor was to translate from his native language the works of a certain Sanchuniathon, for whose writings and biography he was perhaps the only Source.3 The existence of this figure, or at least the veracity of Philo's account of him, has always been doubted and frequently denied;4 but modern research has shown that he bears a name which might have belonged to a Phoenician, and that many of the ingredients of the work attributed to him are of high antiquity and native provenance.5 Thus Philo must have employed a Phoenician source, on which he would have no reason to bestow a fictitious name. It need hardly be said, however, that a belief in the existence of a document from the hand of Sanchuniathon does not oblige us to credit the early date that Philo assigns to him, or the veracity of all that is asserted on his behalf. It has been said by Orientalists that the name Sanchuniathon cannot have been current at an epoch so early as that to which Philo appeals.6 It is evident to all that there is much in the present version of the history that was written to solicit the taste of Hellenistic readers,7 and must therefore be the translator's contribution. This essay....
From “Phoenician Solar Theology: An Investigation into the Phoenician Opinion of the Sun Found in Julian's Hymn to King Helios"
by Joseph Azize # ISBN: 1593332106
Pub. Date: June 2005 Series: Gorgias”
Philo of Byblos
Philo of Byblos was an antiquarian and grammarian of the late first and early second centuries A.D. His praenomen was probably Herenius Severus.34 The Phoenician History (the original title was either Φοινικικη ιατοαρια or Φοινικικια) is chiefly known to us from the excerpts in Eusebius “Preaparatio Evangelica.”35 Comparisons of the passage cited in Eusebius with citations of these same passages elsewhere, when available for scrutiny, are said to demonstrate that Eusebius has accurately cited Philo.36 However, the number of such passages is not large, and we know that much was omitted, a Philo’s work filled eight volumes. For example, the two etymologies noted in Lydus are nowhere in Eusebius’ fragments, and these seem at least a little different from what is to be found in Eusebius’ quotations. Eusebius cites Philo only where he believes that Philo will help him make a point for Christianity against paganism.
It is not necessary to commence a study of Philo by saying something about the Preaparatio in which most of the fragments are found. This has been adequately dealt with by Baumgarten.37 It is sufficient to observe that while this issue is crucial to a consideration of Eusebius’ work, it is not essential when combing Philo for evidence of Phoenician religion. Eusebius and Lydus have preserved only extracts, and we cannot reject their testimony simply by reference to Eusebius’ agenda in defending Christianity against paganism or even by reference to Lydus’ sentimental affection for paganism.38
When one turns to the Phoenician History itself, one is struck, on analysis, by the fact that is seems a heterogeneous document. As Baumgarten demonstrated, the cosmogony (together with the zoogony) is exceptional within the parameters of the work in that they are the only portions which are composed in the form of poetic parallelism.39 I would modify this only by adding that in the work as we have it, it is the only example of parallelism. However, Baumgarten’s conclusion is surely correct: it would appear that Philo used various sources and probably sources of diverse “origin and date” in his writing.40 Another argument for the use of different sources in Philo is that the deity Mot’s name is sometimes vocalized as “Mouth”.41
When one takes into account the contents of Philo’s material and its similarity to Ugaritic literature, Baumgarten is correct to conclude that:
“...the analysis of the form and style of Philo’s cosmogony indicates its ultimate Phoenician source and suggests a date.”
(PAGE 227 is missing)
In other words, pare (??) Baumgarten, what Khousor being an ironworker shows is that Philos’ sources are a mixture of ancient and more recent materials.
It is not a better argument for the lateness of the material in Philo to say that Sanchuniathon is not attested before Philo,47 as so few Phoenicians are attested at all. Phoenician literature has not come down to us with very few exceptions. The vast majority of Greeks simply disdain the language and literature of their eastern neighbors.48 In Morris’ pithy phrase, “Hellenism sundered Greeks and Orientals”.49
Porphyry, who was a lot closer to the critical moment than we are, and as I contended, was possibly literate in Phoenician, stated:
“Sanchuniathon of Beirut gives the truest account concerning the Jews, since it agrees best with their places and their names. For he took the treatises of Hieromobalos (viz. Jeremiah), the priest of god Ieuo (??), who dedicated his work to Abibalos the king of Beirut. (Hieromobalos’ work was) accepted as correct by Abibalos by those who investigated the truth in his time.50
Although he argues against the reliability of this, Baumgarten provides grounds for its plausibility, when he says: “In view of the close geographical, linguistic, and ethnic connection of Jews and Phoenicians, works on the Jews might be approved by Phoenicians scholars or Jews might be discussed by an author like Sanchunianthon.”51 It has been often observed that here, Porphyry refers to a work of Sanchunianthon on the Jews, and not a Phoenician history. A more critical point is that — according to Bickerman — it was rare for a religious work of the Ancient Near East to have a named author. Rather, this is a Greek practice. The upshot then, is that “Sanchuniathon” source is Hellenistic.52
Phoenician Encyclopedia -- Phoenicia, A Bequest Unearthed (Desktop Version)
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