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Syria Dea

Συρίη Θεός). A deity of generation and fecundity worshipped in Syrian Hierapolis under the name Ἀτάργατις, whom the later Greeks and the Romans simply called “the Syrian goddess.” From the time of the sovereignty of the Seleucidae, when the ancient paganism was highly honoured in Hierapolis, the worship of this goddess spread among the Greeks, and from them found its way to Rome, where she had a temple in the days of the Empire, and to other parts of Italy, and still farther west. The old idea of her attributes had so widened in the course of time that she shared those of Iuno, Venus, Rhea, Cybelé, Minerva, Diana, the Parcae, and other goddesses. She is represented on Roman monuments, seated on a throne between two lions. Her priests were generally eunuchs. They were in the habit of making excursions into Greece and Italy to extend the worship of the goddess by means of ecstatic dances and prophecies, and to collect pious alms for her sanctuary. See Apul. Met. viii. 24; Lucian, De Dea Syria; and the C. I. L. vi. 115, 116.

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