The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 577 pages of information about The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7).

What is most remarkable in the Assyrian worship of Ishtar is the local character assigned to her.  The Ishtar of Nineveh is distinguished from the Ishtar of Arbela, and both from the Ishtar of Babylon, separate addresses being made to them in one and the same invocation.  It would appear that in this case there was, more decidedly than in any other, an identification of the divinity with her idols, from which resulted the multiplication of one goddess into many.

The name of Ishtar appears to have been rarely used in Assyria in royal or other appellations.  It is difficult to account for this fact, which is the more remarkable, since in Phoenicia Astarte, which corresponds closely to Ishtar, is found repeatedly as an element in the royal titles.


Nebo must have been acknowledged as a god by the Assyrians from very ancient times, for his name occurs as an element in a royal appellation as early as the twelfth century B.C.  He seems, however, to have been very little worshipped till the time of Vud-lush III., who first brought him prominently forward in the Pantheon of Assyria after an expedition which he conducted into Babylonia, where Nebo had always been in high favor.  Vul-lush set up two statues to Nebo at Calah and probably built him the temple there which was known as Bit-Siggil, or Beth-Saggil, from whence the god derived one of his appellations.  He did not receive much honor from Sargon; but both Sennacherib and Esarhaddon held him in considerable reverence, the latter even placing him above Merodach in an important invocation.  Asshur-bani-pal also paid him considerable respect, mentioning him and his wife Warmita, as the deities under whose auspices he undertook certain literary labors.

It is curious that Nebo, though he may thus almost be called a late importation into Assyria, became under the Later Dynasty (apparently) one of most popular of the gods.  In the latter portion of the list of Eponyms obtained from the celebrated “Canon,” we find Nebo an element in the names as frequently as any other god excepting Asshur.  Regarding this as a test of popularity we should say that Asshur held the first place; but that his supremacy was closely contested by Bel and Nebo, who were held in nearly equal repute, both being far in advance of any other deity.

Besides these principal gods, the Assyrians acknowledged and worshipped a vast number of minor divinities, of whom, however, some few only appear to deserve special mention.  It may be noticed in the first place, as a remarkable feature of this people’s mythological system, that each important god was closely associated with a goddess, who is commonly called his wife, but who yet does not take rank in the Pantheon at all in accordance with the dignity of her husband.  Some of these goddesses have been already mentioned, as Beltis, the feminine counterpart of Bel; Gala, the Sun-goddess, the wife of Shamas; and Ishtar, who

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The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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