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Fishes, Flowers, and Fire as Elements and Deities

Abydenos speaks of a second Annedotos


Fish Worship extended to Syria, and appears to have been more prevalent in that country than in Assyria. The Dagon of the Philistines of Ashdad evidently resembled the figure on the Assyrian sculptures and cylinders. When it fell before the ark, the head and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the fishy part of Dagon was left to him. (I. Samuel, v. 4; see the marginal reading.) The same idol is mentioned in Judges xvi. The meaning of the word in Hebrew is 'a fish.' Although the image, like that of the Assyrians, appears to have been originally male; at a later period, it became female in Syria, as we learn from Lucian (de DeAc SyriAc), and Diodorus Siculus, who describes the idol at Ascalon with the face of a woman and body of a fish. (Lib. ii.) An icthyolatry, connected with Derceto or Atergates, was perhaps confounded with the worship of Dagon."[11]

"In Azotus, or Asdotus, a renowned city of the Philistines, there was a celebrated temple of Dagon in which the inhabitants kept the ark of the covenant, in presence of the idols. And when they arose early in the morning, behold Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; and rah dagon nischar aghlaju, that is, as R. D. Cimchi explains it, only the form of a fish was left to him. (I. Samuel, v. 4.) For Dag and Dagah are words interpreted to mean fish,

whence he was called Dagon. The sacred scriptures, in Hebrews, bestow on him the masculine gender, and so do the authors of the Greek version. Philo Biblius says of Dagon, that he is a fruiterer and the son of CA"lus, and thus thinks he should be called, because he first discovered fruit. For Dagon in Hebrew is translated by the Greek word Siton, which means fruit. He is also said to be the inventor of the plough, therefore was named Zeus the plougher, as if he were Jupiter, the president of agriculture.

"Ptolemus says that Ceres was called Sito among the Syracusans, from the same Greek word Sito. But he is mistaken; for, while he derives it from Dagon (which means fruit), he should have deduced it from Dag (which means a fish). There is the most ancient testimony outside of the Bible in regard to this god of Asia in what Berosus, Apollodorus, and Polyhistor write concerning Oannes. For Oannes is mentioned as a two-headed animal; that feet like those of human beings grew from his tail, and that the rest of him is a fish. His voice was likewise human, and they say that, emerging from the Red Sea, he came to Babylon, but that he returned to the sea at sunset. He did this every day as if he were an amphibious animal. From him men learned all the various arts, letters, agriculture, the consecration of temples, architecture, political government, and whatever could possibly pertain to civilised life, and the most wonderful history of Belus and Omorea. His image was preserved down to the time of Berosus, that is, to the beginning of the Grecian monarchy. This marine god can be no other than Dagon, whose history is found in Samuel. He was worshipped not only by the Philistines, but by the Babylonians also. Apollodorus, from the same Berosus, narrates more extensively of four Oannes, called Annedotos, who likewise in the lapse of ages appeared out of the Red Sea, every one of whom was half man and half fish. But in the time of A?doracus, king of the Chaldeans, who preceded the deluge a few ages, another similar figure appeared, who was called Odakon. Dagon is undoubtedly intended and referred to in this fable of Odakon. Abydenos speaks of a second Annedotos, and bestows on him the form of a semi-demon. Helladius Besantinus speaks of a certain man of the name of Oleus arising out of the Red Sea, whose head, hands and feet were human, but that the other members of the body were those of a fish and that he taught letters, and the science of astronomy. As all these references are so applicable to the Oannes of Besorus, it is more than probable that the librarian made the mistake in the name of abbreviation in the copy.

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