De Dea Syria

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De Dea Syria ("Concerning the Syrian Goddess") is the conventional Latin title of a work, written in a Herodotean-style of Ionic Greek, which has been traditionally ascribed to the Hellenized Syrian essayist Lucian of Samosata. It is a description of the various religious cults practiced at Hierapolis Bambyce, now Manbij, in Syria. Because of its supposed connection to Lucian, whose reputation as a civilised witty scoffer is well born out by his many genuine essays and dialogues, the value of De Dea Syria as an authentic picture of religious life in Syria in the 2nd century has been unnecessarily diminished, as Lucinda Dirven demonstrated.Lucinda Dirven, "The Author of De Dea Syria and his cultural heritage", Numen 44.2 (May 1997), pp. 153–179.

De Dea Syria describes the orgiastic luxury of the sanctuary and the tank of sacred fish, of which Aelian also relates marvels. According to De Dea Syria, the worship was of a phallic character, votaries offering little male figures of wood and bronze. There were also huge phalli set up like obelisks before the temple, which were ceremoniously climbed once a year and decorated. The story begins with a re-telling of the Atrahasis flood myth where floodwaters are drained through a small cleft in the rock under the temple.

For the rest the temple was of Ionic character with golden plated doors and roof, and much gilt decoration. Inside was a holy...
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