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Phoenician History is the oldest non-coded archive of the Western World by a Phoenician priest and writer, Sanchuniathon, 2,000 BC.

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Eusebius of Caesarea (260 - 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 Evangelica (Preparation 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,

Sanchuniathon 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 Sanchuniathon, like Vgasa in India, is said to have been a compiler of extremely ancient theogonic and historical documents that had been transmitted to him either by oral tradition or in writing.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.

Philo of 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: 1542).

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 there seen.

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.

First, therefore, 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 agree:

"Thou 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:

"Dionysus named, 
"Bright as a star, his face aflame with rays." 6

And Orpheus says:

"For that 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 generations.

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 records.

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 says:

'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 statements:

'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 immortal.'

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 says:

'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 continues:

'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:

'Hypsuranius inhabited 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 in Phoenicia.

'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 day.'

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 time!

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 to Phoenix.'

Then again afterwards he adds:

'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 says:

'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.

'Epeïs also (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.'

'Epeïs here 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 speak again.

'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.

'Zoroaster also 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.


  1. Isaiah 27:9
  2. Eusebius 1974: 188-190; Honigmann 1926: 8; Mulder 1984: 463; Green 1995: 449).
  3. Porphyry , Abstinence from animal food, iv. 21
  4. "Mémoire sur l'Lorigine et le charactere véritable de l'histoire phenécienne". Mémoire de l'institut empériale de France, académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres 23, 2, 1858, p.194
  5. Homer, Ill. iii. 277
  6. 27 d 5 The only known Fragment of Eumolpus 
  7. d 7 Orphica, Fragment, vii. 3 (Hermann), clxviii (Abel)
  8. Quoted from Philo Byblius
  9. Porphyry , On Abstinence from Animal Food, ii. 5
  10. ibid. 33
  11. Plato, Cratylus, 397
  12. Deut., iv. 19; Wisdom of Solomon, xiv. 12
  13. Porphyry , Against the Christians, a fragment preserved by Eusebius only
  14. 31 d 8 - 42 b 2. Philo Byblius, Fragments quoted by Porphyry and preserved by Eusebius.
  15. Hesiod, Works and Days, 109
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.

Additional Sources:

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....

  1. The fragment can be found in F. Jacoby. Die Fragrnenie tier Griechisehen Historiker, iii (Leiden. 1958), pp. 802‑24. Fragments of Philo and other historians will hereafter be referred to under the name of Jacoby with the relevant number.
  2. For the name Herennius Philo see Jacoby F5 (Lydus) and F9 (Origen), both taken from reliable witnesses. The only other Greek to bear the name Herennios appears to have been the pupil of Ammonius Saccas: see Pauly-Wissowa. RE 8 (1912). 649ff.; For the Oscan origin of the name and its Roman bearers see pp. 662ff.
  3. On the compatibility of our sources with this statement and with one another see Appendix.
  4. The most useful modern work, though I shall here disagree with some of its conclusions, is A. . Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (Leiden, 1981). Baumgarten holds, as I do, that the history is a Hellenistic treatment of Phoenician materials. P. Nautin, 'Sanchuniathon chez Philo de Byblos et chez Porphyry', in Revue Biblique 56 (1949), 272, treats the Sanchuniathon of Philo as a Hellenistic fantasy, though admitting that the name itself is of Phoenician provenance. The accuracy of Eusebius, though not as Baumgarten asserts (45 n. 26) the existence of Sanchuniathon, is denied by C. A. Lobeck, Agaophamus, Ii. 1265-79, The chief proponent of a more credulous estimate of Philo has been O. Lissfeldt. some of whose writings are cited below. For a judicious review of the many controversies surrounding Sanchuniathon, see J. Barr, Philo of Byblos and his "Phoenician History", BJRL 57 (1974), 17-6.
  5. The most important modern work on the Phoenician ingredients has been O. Eissfeldt, Taautos und Sanchuniathon (Berlin, 1952).
  6. Barr (1974), 36 and n. 2, after Albright but against Eissfeldt.
  7. E,g. the equation of Phoenician names with Greek counterparts, and the eclectic borrowings from other national historians, treated below.

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

  1. 34. ΝΡΕΛ, vol 5, col. 410, Attridge and Oden (1981) p.1.
  2. 35. ΝΡΕΛ, vol 5, col. 410.
  3. 36. Baumgartner (1981) pp. 38 and 92-93; and Van Seters (1982) p. 206.
  4. 37. Baumgarten (1981) pp. 36-38.
  5. 38. On Lydus, see Maas (1992) pp. 4-6 and his allegory of the “silver vessel”, which, as Maas shows, represents the heritage of Rome and which is broken up into pieces to be sold. This image shows how Lydus felt.
  6. 39. Baumgarten (1981) pp. 98-100
  7. 40. Baumgarten (1977) p. 41.
  8. 41. Baumgarten (1977) p. 143.
  9. PAGE 227 is missing
  10. 47. Baumgarten (1977) p. 51.
  11. 48. Coleman (1997) pp. 200-201
  12. 49. Morris (2000) p. 102.
  13. 50. Baumgarten (1977) p. 43.
  14. 51. Baumgarten (1977) p. 59.
  15. 52. Baumgarten (1981) p. 51.


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