By Abbey Mikha
Egypt and Mesopotamia are regions of the world where the first civilizations of humankind suddenly sprung up thousands of years ago. Palestine is also an ancient area but it was called Canaan in Biblical text. Jericho is said to be one of the oldest urban habitations in the world where many important ancient souls walked and preached.
The writers of the two books being analyzed for this essay gave their versions of what occurred in these areas when the British were trying to break apart the Ottoman Empire. Antony Bluett and Bill Spackman have written their books as travellers journeying through foreign lands, but Bluett (1919) describes his journey as a crusade (p. 2). In Bluett’s case there were occasions where he uses intolerant language in regards to Arabs. For example in describing an Arab village as “evil smelling.” He also harshly speaks of the poor Arab Egyptian Labor Corpse and their sad songs. Lastly he contends that Palestine belonged to the Jews in order for them to become a nation without mentioning other peoples of Palestine like the Palestinians. These are considered as Arabs because of arabization in the region, though they have more ancient roots. In these instances it seemed that he had some negative underlying feelings for Arab people.
Contrary to this Spackman (2008) was trying to survive in Mesopotamia and was defending himself from hostile Arabs (p. 123) who would shoot at him and try to kill him. He did not use negative discriminatory language to describe the Arabs; rather he rationally explained the desperate situation in Mesopotamia. He knew that had nomadic Arabs in the land between the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates captured him, it might have been the end of his life. Spackman though was reasonable enough that he admirably mentioned the fair-haired Arab children, he would play backgammon with Arabs, and he talked about the beautiful Arab women. This showed some positive spirit towards the Arabs.
Truly these two individuals had their own take on the situation in Mesopotamia at that time, but they were both courageous survivors of war, which took the life of many people from various cultures and religions. When trying to be fair, it is difficult to discern whether these two individuals were anti-Arab at heart, but there is some evidence which will be cited from the two books for and against the argument for each individual.
Antony Bluett and his Negative Language Tone in Regards to Arabs
Antony Bluett (1919) speaks of an Arab town where he says that they knew that assisting the force would be sent to “some evil-smelling native town” (p. 39) with a name he could not pronounce, far away from anywhere, left there to look after the place and excite the regular people with the power of the British arms, while the Arab leader and his wild horsemen (p. 39) would go about in the desert firing their guns in the air and make some extra ordinary noises to alarm the “half starved Turks” (p 39).
In these sentences Bluett demonstrates that he had some intolerant feelings for the Arabs. Describing the town as “evil smelling” is strong language. After all how can a town smell in an “evil” way? Here he shows his distaste for the Arab people and way of life. He goes on to call the Arabs in Egypt as, “a gang of natives” (p 52). The language tone is discriminatory; it seems critical and has a disrespectful nature.
In regards to the Egyptian Labor Corps who according to Professor Fantauzzo were, “A group of Egyptian laborers used by the British in Egypt, Palestine as well as in Gallipoli. They were comprised mostly of Egyptian farmers and manual laborers from the Egyptian countryside.” In Bluett (1919) he explains how the English person in charge of them would say to them “quais” when they did something good and when they made a mistake yell, “La! mush quais!” which means no not good (p. 89)! The people in charge talked to these poor Egyptian Arabs as a herd of cattle they were trying to chaperone, or even worse as animals.
Bluett (1919) speaks of the Egyptian Labor Corpse making the day, “hideous with their mournful dirge” (p. 89), which is to say the sad songs they sung did not amuse him. Then he further explains, “But if this eternal chant made one yearn to throw something large and heavy at the performers…” (p. 89). This is so insensitive on his part. These people were laborers; maybe a class up from slaves and their workdays were difficult. It was hot and they were tired. Obviously they would be singing sad tunes as people in their condition often do. These sad songs had a history in the region, and they were part of their folklore. Truly if one hears the songs of the African slaves of North America one can hear the sadness in such songs as well. It is appropriate to wonder if it was it the songs that were bothersome to him or was it that the songs were coming from these poor Egyptian Arabs?
Subsequently Bluett (1919) speaks of the scenery and the trees in Palestine and he is imagining the future of this region, this land of milk and honey, and how beautiful the landscape is (p. 98). The British wanted to liberate the Holy Land from the Ottomans, but they forgot that both Jews and Palestinians have history in that region of the world. The British wanted this land for their allies. In the land of Palestine he described a simple people living as in biblical times in clothes and mannerisms. Bluett (1919) also believed in Biblical prophesies. He said:
“Whether the Jews as a nation will ever settle in Palestine is a question the future alone will solve; certainly the wise policy of the British and French government offers them every inducement if they really wish to become a nation again in their own ancient land. If the prophets are to be believed Jerusalem will one day be the capital of the world-but it will not be in our day. “ (p. 288)
This statement is not sensitive to Arab aspirations in the region and can be called anti-Arab because it speaks of giving back the country to Jews without consideration and without even mentioning Palestinians, who had also resided in that region of the world for generations.
It is an amazing thing for the Jews to become a nation again in the land of their ancestors, but one must realize that this land as every land did not only belong to them. This land was a multicultural land in which many peoples of various religions were trying to survive and thrive, and who all should have had every right to do so. Unfortunately some humans never realized that they could be like birds, who have no castles other than the wilderness, but who sing for all of human kind impartially.
Spackman the Reasonable Man
Spackman (2008) had his own adventure. He speaks of the Arab guides in Mesopotamia as unreliable (p. 4). He says that they steal (p. 10), and they shoot randomly at the British (p. 10). Arabs in Mesopotamia at this time got in the way of the British fighting the Ottomans. Spackman calls some of the Arabs in Mesopotamia nomadic (p. 13), but the language he uses is not disrespectful and rather reasonable and explanatory, and even rather open-minded.
At one point Spackman (2008) explains that there were many ferocious mounted Arabs that were “hovering like vultures” (p. 19) on the side of the frontline, “waiting to fall on the hapless losers whichever side that might be” (p. 19). This was the situation the British were facing in a country with peoples of various nations, cultures, and religions. There were Arabs, Kurds, Jews, Assyrians, Armenians, Sabeans, Mandeans, Yazedi, Turkoman, and Shabak peoples spread out in various regions in Mesopotamia at this time. Some of these nations were peaceful and others aggressive. The word “vultures” used in regards to the Arabs is a strong word, but how can one see a shark and not call it a shark.
At one point Spackman (2008) says the Arabs were dangerous to “friend and foe” (p. 41). He speaks of the fate of those who fell into the hands of the nomadic Arabs in desert encounters. He says, “The more prepossessing of us might have suffered a fate worse than death or equally painful mutilation had such an encounter gone against us” (Spackman 2008, p. 54). There was also shameless looting and abuse by the Bedouin Arabs (Spackman 2008, p. 57). To this day there are such Arabs in Iraq who loot the archeological sights of the ancient Assyrians, Sumerians, and Babylonians.
Spackman (2008) mentions the “fair haired Arab children” (p. 34), who played in the water. He admires their behaviors maybe thinking of the young kids back home with similar hair color. It probably was a surprise to British officers to see children in Mesopotamia with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Spackmans language is rational and he positively explains these children from a culture of his supposed adversaries, who at some points were trying to bring about his death. A man filled with hatred for a nation will ignore even such small similarities as a light haired Arab, but a reasonable man will see the likeness as something positive of human beings of the same earth.
Spackman (2008) also speaks of playing ‘towlu’, backgammon, with the Arabs in coffee shops, a game he had not played for a long time. This was a very ancient game (p. 118). If Spackman had bad feelings towards Arabs he would not have sat down to play such a game because it requires a certain amount of respect for the other competitor. From his words it seemed like Spackman was playing this game with Arabs as if he had been playing this game with an Englishman back home.
Spackman (2008) furthermore speaks of the Arab women, “With their Arab features and olive complexions the girls looked very attractive” (p. 15). Had he had a backward mentality, he could not have seen these women as beautiful, but through a certain spirit he tells the truth about these girls. What was the nature of these encounters is not clear, and he makes it seem rather innocent.
Antony Bluett and Bill Spackman are persons who lived through war. When trying to be fair, it is difficult to discern whether these two individuals were anti-Arab at heart, but there is some evidence from the two books for and against the argument for each person, which was previously analyzed.
It is wrong to harshly judge people who have come before in History, for they lived in a different time and under different circumstances, but hopefully as the human race evolves ideas in regards to nations and peoples will also develop and change.
Nationalism was rising all over the world during these wars in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. Thinking people did not realize back then, but hopefully they will realize in the future that now it is time for the world to heal and to become one. Giving the Jews their ancient land back hardly solved the problems of the region and for neither side. Humanitarianism and multiculturalism should encompass the world and tolerance should be the language that everyone speaks.
When reading Bluett there was a distinct negative tone to the language in the story in regards to Arabs, whereas Spackman came across as more reasonable. Bluett had his own religious beliefs and he hoped to see Christian prophecies become a reality in the future. He was a British man from a nation, which had its own goals for this region with its own interests.
Spackman mentions the mounds of Nineveh and the way the Old Testament God had asked Jonah to go to this city to speak to its people. At that time did he know about the Assyrians and their struggle?
Both of these individuals were well versed in Biblical tales. It may have come as a surprise to some of these people at the front line of the British army that these regions of the world held and hold the secrets to the history of the human race. Even the Arabs of the Middle East have a vast history in the region as conquerors bringing war to the region through Islam. Their language is Semitic, and they are a Semitic people like the Jews, Assyrians and others. The unfortunate thing about some of the nomadic Arab tribes at the time was that they were violent and lacked diplomacy. They were fanatic about their religion, which they themselves did not even entirely understand.
It is a great gift to students of history that books such as those of Bluett and Spackman have been written and can be read so that they can get into the minds of these people. The most difficult thing when writing in a sort of memoir is to completely hide prejudice and negative feelings towards others. Some are well aware of the negative connotation of being biased, and are well versed in the language, which make them seem impartial. Only geniuses can write false history in order to create an affect for generations of the future, and there have been many such writers. Though Bluett seemed more prejudiced towards Arabs than Spackman no one really knows how they truly felt. The heart of the man at war is a mysterious ocean.
Today people have various feelings about the modern day Arabs especially because of the Islamic extremist group called ISIS. There are good and bad people in every nation. It seems the radical Islamic Arabs are going backward in to a dark time in history. Today three suicide bombers exploded themselves in an airport in Turkey and most news outlets are saying that once again it must be ISIS. The Arabs of the world need to rise up against this world threat if they want any good words said about their nation by intellectuals and the people of the world. If they ignore the evil acts that are being committed, those who write truthful history will reveal everything about some of their backward culture.
I reviewed Bluett Antony, “With Our Army in Palestine” (1919) and Spackman Bill, “Captured at Kut Prisoner of the Turks” (2008 ).
By Abbey Mikha
There is a video circulating on YouTube of president Obama’s previous speech from 2015 where he made the following comments, “Radical groups exploit grievances for their own game. One of those groups is ISIL which calls itself the Islamic State.” He continues, “Let’s make two things clear ISIL is not Islamic, no religion condones the killing of innocents and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslims.”
My question to you president Obama is if ISIS is not Islamic than who are they and why are they using Islam? Why are they aggressively fighting and dying in the name of Islam? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say that ISIS is a new small but steadily growing extremist Islamic group like Al Qaida which is exhausting Islam to gain power, land, and a new terrifying Islamic culture? If ISIS is not Islamic than all the Muslim countries in the world should unite, stand up and fight for the honour of Islam against ISIS! Saudi Arabia should fight ISIS! Qatar should fight ISIS! Turkey should fight ISIS! The billions of Muslims should make their voices heard against ISIS! The brutality of ISIS should not be condoned by anyone as they are seeking to build their state inch by inch, day by day, at the cost of blood and souls of innocent men, women, and children from all around the world. Does the Islamic world want to be responsible for allowing the creation of a terror state in the Middle East which its sole purpose for existing is to attack true Muslims, Assyrian Christians, Yezidis, other minorities in the Middle East and create terror attacks in the Middle East, Europe, and North America? What kind of quality of life will the people of this world have if the Islamic State is successful and they take away all our freedoms?
President Obama isn’t it true that in her book your previous secretary of state Hillary Clinton acknowledged that America created and funded Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization in the prime of the Soviet-Afghan war? Mrs. Clinton was fine with all of this but when the revolution came about in Egypt and the Islamic brotherhood government and president were kicked out by thirty-eight million Egyptian demonstrators it changed the American plan.
The United States with its technology can see what is going on in Mars and other planets and beyond! The secret intelligent agency of United States is so powerful that we should ask them to tell us what they know and what they see in regards to ISIS. Tell us what are the plans of Islamic countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar and the international Islamic brotherhood group in regards to ISIS? Mr. President how is ISIS functioning? Who is buying their oil? Who is buying them thousands and thousands of trucks and weapons to use in the fight against the world? How are the millions of dollars from oil sale being transferred and through which banks? Wondering which borders the oil barrels go through? Mainly what has been named “The moderate Islamic government of Turkey!” And also one of the big questions is what is the role of the government of Barazani in Northern Iraq in regards to ISIS? Is the dictator Barazani and his family and gang taking advantage of the fragile situation in Iraq and going ahead planning with the Turkish government lead by president Erdogan to sell the terrorist oil together and making millions of dollars? Yes that is definitely what is going on!
We want to believe you president Obama, but the American people and the world have a right to know the truth and you need to provide proof and answers in regards to ISIS truly not being Islamic! You cannot just say the majority of people they attack are Muslims because they have been annihilating Assyrian Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. They are killing our people, stealing our land, and destroying our collective dream of a future Assyrian region in Iraq. Of course Mr. President you would never mention the Assyrian martyrs which have been murdered, raped, starved, and kidnapped by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. These are Assyrians and they are Christians! Were Al Qaida not Islamic Mr. President? What is the difference between ISIS and Al Qaida? We remember your friend Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski in the time of Al Qaida fighting the Soviets praising Muslims calling them, “The Revolutionary Islamic Mojahideen.” Mr. President is this not another game like when the British sent Lawrence of Arabia to create Wahhabis for the Saudi family in World War I? Is this the extent the United States has gone to make sure its own interests are secured? Please Mr. President, the American people are searching and they will find everything they are searching for. Hope you had a good last year as president of the United States Obama. Greetings from the children of Assyria living in refugee camps in the North of Iraq who the world are ignoring and you consider too insignificant as a minority to even care about.
By Abbey Mikha
One does not have to look up stats to know that there are millions and millions of children living in extreme poverty all over the world. Advanced nations could eradicate child poverty but they do not because perhaps it does not suit their ideals or it is not in their own interest. They do not even destroy child poverty in their own countries, let alone others. From the time we as children attend kindergarten in western countries one of the main things we are taught is to share. So, why do not people who control the cash flow of the world share with children dying from lack of food, clean water, and sufficient health care?
Most children in Africa are suffering from food deficiency. There is also a lack of clean water and medical assistance and medication for diseases and even regular illnesses. The world harvests enough food to feed the entire world including these children. The question must be asked why these children do not have access to a consistent food supply.
The main method to eliminate the hunger crisis is for people all over the world to open their minds and hearts and to realize that there are people starving in Africa and other poverty afflicted locations worldwide. However, food is not the only major problem for African children. Other issues, such as slavery and forced armed forces participation are also problematic.
In the Middle East, specifically in Syria, because of the recent ongoing war there is a dire situation of child poverty. Education has collapsed in the country. Half of children that used to attend school did not during the 2014-2015 period. There are many stories of children losing parents and having to care for their young brothers and sisters. The situation for the children of Syria is dreadful and the world needs to lend a helping hand to these children who have suffered a great deal as a result of the wars in their country and in the region.
Assyrian Christian children in the North of Iraq and all over Iraq are also suffering today immensely. They are living in cramped refugee camps and they are allotted small rations of food each. For this reason many have become malnourished and hopeless. These children live in crowded refugee camps in their own country with only the clothes on their back. There is an uncertain future for them in this heart-breaking country because not enough world attention is being paid to their horrible and disastrous situation. The Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq and very little is being done to help them by the Iraqi government and also by foreign countries. They are being ignored, intimidated, and pushed around and are suffering from ethnic and religious persecution.
Iraq and all its children have suffered for many years since the first Gulf War and the embargo which came into effect August of 1990. This embargo brought much poverty to Iraq and millions of its children died or were negatively affected.
There are children all over the world living in lack. Poverty does not always discriminate based on color or race. Many children of the entire human race live in poverty and in every country of the world, even in countries like Canada and the United States.
People need to care about the children of the earth and each other. People need to realize that when they lend a helping hand to those who are impoverished and suffering in their life they are doing the least that they can do. One of the main goals of every established country should be the eradication of hunger and poverty in their own countries and other underdeveloped countries and crisis areas which are facing famine, war, and disease.
We were brought into this earth to do good especially in relation to other human beings. We are all one human race. It does not matter what our identity is: the color of our skin, the texture of our hair, or which God we worship. We all have two eyes, one nose, and a heart. This heart will regret every beat it lived in the end if the individual and nations do not help others in need.
As an Assyrian I say please help all the children of the world and include the children of my Assyrian nation as part of that human race. It is time to eradicate poverty and hunger and give hope to all the children of the world so that they may live and survive unto maturity. Only then can they have the hope of dreaming and in their future becoming whatever they wish to be.
By Abbey Mikha
The goddess Aphrodite is the mother of all, yet she is considered by some as a mythical being, which originated in ancient Greece. Many historians and scholars though have also associated her with earlier civilizations. There is evidence that she existed from the dawn of time, from the beginning of civilization, and from the foundation of religion on earth. According to the evidence found, some scholars attest to that Aphrodite was an epithet for the Sumerian goddess Inanna, who was later called Ishtar by the Assyrians, Ashtart by the Canaanites, and Ashtoreth by the Hebrews. In this essay these old theories will be reconsidered, not to cause more division in beliefs, rather to move away from concrete beliefs, and reintroduce the idea that no religion, whether ancient or modern is absolutely original, especially those religions who deny the rights of the woman, and the presence of The Woman. As Paul Friedrich notes in his book The Meaning of Aphrodite, “The love symbol, Aphrodite, has been proclaimed as having universal human relevance” (1).
Historiography of Aphrodite and Related Matters
The ancient love goddess has many origins and many histories (2). Many scholars from perhaps even before the time of Herodotus attest to that the worship of Aphrodite was of eastern origin (3). There was a continuous debate where some academics like Lewis Richard Farnell and James Fraser tried to prove this (4). Then there were various views like those of Stephanie Budin, which gave their view on syncretism of the various goddesses of ancient times. Those who did believe Aphrodite was eastern in origin usually connected her to the goddess Inanna of the Sumerians, Ishtar of the Assyrians, Ashtart of the Canaanites, and Ashtoreth of the Hebrews.
Where it concerns the stories of Inanna, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth it should be noted that translations of some ancient text were done by J.B. Pritchard, Stephanie Dalley, Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer (5). The idea behind trying to prove where Aphrodite is from, that she is actually the goddesses Inanna, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth which are also one in the same being, is that if such a connection truly exists amongst various religious figures, pantheons, and various cultures, like those of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Canaanites, Hebrews, and Greeks then it can also be noted that there must be other similar connections with all the various cultures of the world.
We are all human beings; we all belong to one earth, and that means we all need to learn to coexist peacefully. If people were more tolerant of ancient religions and not directly consider them as pagan, then we might learn something from the evolution of religion on earth. The world though seems to be heading in the direction of intolerance. So many times it has been said that people of various religions actually worship one God with different names. If this message could be spread amongst the human race and introduced into the education systems of the world, there might be less wars and hatred amongst peoples and nations.
The goddess Aphrodite was said to be born from the sea, the sea being a symbol for the unknown and mysteriousness, and many images depict her rising from waves (6), but Epimenides, an early Greek sage, taught his followers that Aphrodite was the daughter of Kronos, father of Zeus, in the generation before the Olympians (7).
Zecharia Sitchin on the Annunaki Including the goddess Inanna
Zecharia Sitchins books and theories are all based on the knowledge that the Sumerians gave to us. In the ruins of Sumerian cities excavated by archaeologists in the past century and a half, hundreds, if not thousands of the texts and illustrations that were found dealt with astronomy (8). On cuneiform tablets the Sumerians repeatedly wrote about a planet they called Nibiru, which literally means “Planet of the Crossing.” That is where Zecharia Sitchin says the Anunnaki or Nefilim (as called in the Hebrew Bible) came from. The term Anunnaki literally means, “Those Who from Heaven to Earth Came” (9). According to Zecharia Sitchin (who recently passed away at the age of 90) the goddess Inanna was one of those Annunaki. Zecharia claims that all the ancient gods can be traced back to Sumer. Some people blame Zecharia Sitchin for the Mayan Calendar hype, which supposedly proposes that this calendar, and the world, will end in 2012. In his good bye video Zecharia at 90 he clearly stated that the world was not coming to an end so soon and he agreed more with the Newtonian theories of how much time there is left on Earth.
Aphrodite, Inanna, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth
There is an eternal earthly truth in the statement by Mark Morford and Robert Lenardon that, “the contrast between myth and reality has been a major philosophical concern at least since the time of the Pre-Socratics” (10), Myth though is a cultural phenomenon that has evolved from the beginning of civilization. It is not there for us to cloud our consciousness; rather it is there for us to make clearer what we cannot understand and to perhaps answer many of our unanswerable questions. The truth is that Aphrodite‘s story has eternal universal values and a spiritual truth. Perhaps she is a gift from another world to this world.
Deborah Boedeker mentions how Pausanias believed that Aphrodite was worshipped by the Assyrians. It is interesting to note that the Greeks called Assyria by the name of Syria by dropping the vowel at the front of the word, whereby Ashur became Shure, and later became Syria. Nonetheless, she says that Aphrodite and Ishtar‘s association with the sky “could thus provide a basis for identifying Aphrodite with a goddess like Astart Queen of Heaven or Ishtar Daughter of Anu” (11). Similarly to Aphrodite, Ashtart is even called the Holy Queen (12).
Miroslav Marcovich also asserts that Aphrodite was an immigrant goddess from Lebanon, and Syria (13). He emphasizes that as far back as 3000 B.C there existed a Sumerian goddess named Inanna, who he says her Akkadian name was Esh-tar (14). He also says that she is “particularly well represented in Canaan, a fact of importance for Israel, as Ashtar(t), Ashtoret, Ashtoreth, and Astarte” (15). Ishtar is also sometimes called the “Queen of Heaven”, as the planet Venus, as the Morning Star and the Evening Star full of grace (16).
Paul Friedrich states that, “Inanna appears at the dawn of history as the dominant divinity of the Sumerians, architects of the most innovative civilization after the Neolithic” (17). He contends that the name Aphrodite is actually a non- Greek word that could be related to others names. He states that Aphrodite like her grandmother Ishtar has the epithet heavenly. Miroslav Marcovich contends that the Virgin Mary “inherited from Aphrodite the functions of Queen of Heaven, the Morning Star full of Grace” (18).
In his book The Meaning of Aphrodite, Paul Friedrich also tries to trace the origins of Aphrodite. He expresses that although Aphrodite was one of the more interesting gods, she has been ignored by Historians. He says that they seem to “edge away from a discussion of her” (19). Friedrich concludes that, “Early Greek religion was significantly Semitic in origin” (20). It is interesting to note that Friedrich mentions that, “a conflated Inanna-Ishtar rite of marriage probably underlies the wedding rites of the Song of Solomon (21).
Furthermore, similarities between Aphrodite, Inanna, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth are symbols like the dove as their bird, the alters for burning incense and perfume, and the famous oriental garden of Aphrodite, and Ashtoreth which was filled with fruits and flowers (22). A strange yet interesting similarity between the Aphrodite of Cyprus and that of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar is a supposed Babylonian custom whereby some women of the land prostituted themselves at the temple of Aphrodite or Ishtar by having intercourse with a stranger (23). This may be a myth, but this among other things is the reason Ishtar is also sometimes called the holy prostitute.
Another similarity between the various goddesses is the tales of their lovers. Aphrodite‘s most famous lover is certainly Adonis, but Adonis existed long before the Greeks gave him this name (24). To the people of ancient Mesopotamia his name was Tammuz and Dumuzi. The Sumerians tell the tale on cuneiform tablets where the goddess Inanna wanted to marry. She questioned her brother Utu on who should be her partner. She said, “Who will share my bed with me, brother” (25)? In the end Dumuzi the shepherd god proves himself worthy to Inanna by telling her about his virtues (26). After the marriage to Dumuzi Inanna dared to defy the universe and do many courageous things. She even traveled to the underworld, where her sister, Ereshkigal, was queen (27). This tenacious quality in Inanna strikes a chord with the personalities of Aphrodite, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth who were likewise fearless.
In his book Venus a Biography Andrew Dalby states that women throughout ancient times prayed to these goddesses: “Ishtar and Inanna, like Aphrodite and Venus, acknowledged the prayers and responded to the magic practices of women who hoped by this means to make themselves beautiful, to be desired by all, or to be loved faithfully by one person to the exclusion of all others.” Similarly to the way humans today pray to God.
Analysis of Stephanie Budins Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism View
Stephanie Budin believes that scholars have for a long time recognized an “interpretation syncretism, between Aphrodite and the Phoenician goddess Ashtart” (28). She says that “the origin of this syncretism is usually attributes to the eastern origins of Aphrodite herself, whereby the Greek goddess evolves out of the Phoenician, as is suggested as early as the writings of Herodotus” (29). She believes that Aphrodite was “Orientalized by the Greeks to an extent.” She says:
“I argue here that the perceived syncretism actually emerged differently on the island of Cyprus than throughout the rest of the Mediterranean. On Cyprus, the syncretism emerged out of identification between the two goddesses of Cyprus—Aphrodite and Ashtart. In Greece, by contrast, it evolved out of a slow orientalizing of Aphrodite combined with a Greek tendency to equate almost all eastern goddesses. As a result, the identification between Aphrodite and Ashtart was quite general, and both goddesses were syncretized not only with each other, but also with a full range of Mediterranean goddesses” (30).
Budin says that interest in Near Eastern influences on Greek culture has grown in the past century. However, she believes that:
“This inquiry has long been hampered by one basic misconception concerning the early relationship between these two goddesses: that Aphrodite evolved, to on extent or another, out of Levantine Ashtart. Based on this hypothesis, it is inevitable that one would assume that the Aphrodite-Ashtart syncretism dates back to the origins of Aphrodite herself, and that the syncretism as the ancient Greeks saw it was merely the result of historical fact” (31).
She also indicates that deities of the same gender in one or more pantheons are seen as being the same god or goddess in ancient Greece (32). Budin also says that “Long-term parallelism may eventually cause amalgamation to occur, so that a new deity, or a new conception of the old deities, comes into existence” (33). She continues:
“This is due to the Greeks own understanding of the universalism of their pantheon. That is to say, the Greeks believed that all peoples worshipped the same deities, although obviously with different names and different customs…As such, as the Greeks came into contact with different cultures, rather than recognizing the individual characters and identities of the foreign‖ deities, the Greeks equated them (interpretation) with their own gods” (34).
She also says that the Greeks seemed to also believe that Ashtart was just another name for Aphrodite, and vice versa for the Phoenicians (35). Budin addresses the issue of sacred prostitution and says that, “Selling sex for the profit of a deity was invented by Herodotus in Book 1.199 of his Histories” (36). She concludes that sacred prostitution is a myth, and should not be used as evidence to support the Aphrodite- Ashtart syncretism. She says that, “When the early Semites came into contact with the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, they adjusted some of their deities to have them align with the Sumerian pantheon” (37). She says that the difference between Ashtart and both Ishtar and the Sumerian Inanna is that she does not “manifest or revel in her own sexuality” (38).
In the end though she acknowledges that, “The common belief is that Aphrodite emerged out of Ashtart, thus Ishtar->Ashtart->Aphrodite” (39). In contrast to this, Budin argues that, “While both Ashtart and Aphrodite did evolve from Ishtar, this was a parallel development, although not synchronic; both goddesses evolved separately, developing their own, distinct personae along the way” (40). She continues that “Ashtart clearly maintained the belligerent aspects of Ishtar, while Aphrodite, possibly having more militaristic qualities in Cyprus and very early Greece, maintained the more erotic aspect of the Mesopotamian goddess” (41).
However she says, “It is evident that the Greeks thought of Aphrodite as oriental long before they knew the name Ashtart. Aphrodite appears as “The Cypriot” as early as Homer, and the Syrian by the 6th century (42). In regards to Aphrodite‘s mate Budin says that, “It is universally accepted that Adonis derives from the Near East. His name is clearly a Hellenization of the title Adon, meaning Lord (43).
In regards to the matter of Aphrodite having evolved from earlier more ancient eastern goddesses, Stephanie Budin contends that the Ashtart-Aphrodite syncretism is an exaggeration. She says that, “While it is true that some evidence does show that Aphrodite Ourania specifically was equated with Palestinian Ashtart, alternate data reveal Aphrodite as Anaitis, Atargatis, and even Isis (44).
Stephanie Budin‘s view is very interesting, but she could not deny the many similarities between Aphrodite and the various Eastern goddesses. She mentions many interesting differences, but in her very thoughtful and detailed essay she could not declare that Aphrodite was or is exclusively Greek and there are many more similarities than differences between Aphrodite and the goddesses Inanna, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth.
This essay first discussed the historiography of Aphrodite. Then it reflected on the recently passed Historian Zecharia Sitchin‘s theories about the Annunaki and the goddess Inanna. There was also an analysis of Stephanie Budins Aphrodite-Ashtart syncretism view. According to the evidence found, some scholars attest to that Aphrodite was an epithet for the Sumerian goddess Inanna, who was later called Ishtar by the Assyrians, Ashtart by the Canaanites, and Ashtoreth by the Hebrews.
The truth is that European civilization has been greatly influenced in many ways by the world of the Greeks. It is often forgotten that the Greek civilization, religion, and culture was also largely influenced by other more ancient empires and cultures. When we remember the olden civilizations like those of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Canaanites, and even the ancient Hebrews, we become fairer in regards to history, if that is at all possible.
It has been said many times that as a human race we must know our past in order to know our future. That also includes the distant past of many thousand years ago. To know ones past is to better know ones fate and not just as an individual but as a species. Aphrodite, Innana, Ishtar, Ashtart, and Ashtoreth are all part of that past which leads the human race to its Mother.
1. Paul Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. (The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 2
2. Andrew Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005), 11.
3. Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. (The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 12.
4. Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. ( The University of Chicago Press, 1978, 13.
5. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: The J. Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005), 137.
6. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: The J. Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005), 9.
7. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: The J. Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005), 10.
8. Zecharia Sitchin. Genesis Revisited. (Vermont, Bear & Company. 2002), 15.
9. Zecharia Sitchin. Genesis Revisited. (Vermont, Bear & Company. 2002), 19.
10. Mark Morford, and Robert Lenardon. Classical Mythology. (New York and London, Longman Publishing Group, 1991), 7.
11. Deborah Boedeker, Aphrodite Entry into Greek Epic, (Netherlands, Bibliotheca Classica Batava, 1974), 4.
12. Stephanie Budin. “A Reconsideration of the Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” Numen Vol. 51, No. 2 (2004) Published by: BRILL, 108.
13. Miroslav Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Journal of Aesthetic Education Vol. 30, No. 2. 1996, 45.
14. Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Aesthetic Education, 45.
15. Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Aesthetic Education, 45.
16. Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Aesthetic Education, 48.
17. Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. (The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 13.
18. Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Aesthetic Education, 48.
19. Friedrich, The Meaning of Aphrodite, (Chicago Press, 1978), 1.
20. Friedrich, The Meaning of Aphrodite, (Chicago Press, 1978), 22.
21. Paul Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. (The University of Chicago Press, 1978). 16.
22. Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite,” Aesthetic Education, 51.
23. Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. (The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 199.
24. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: The J. Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005), 63.
25. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: Getty Museum Press), 63.
26. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: Getty Museum Press), 63.
27. Dalby. Venus a Biography. (London: Getty Museum Press, 2005), 63.
28. Stephanie Budin. “A Reconsideration of the Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” Numen Vol. 51, No. 2 (2004) Published by: BRILL, 95.
29. Budin, “Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 95.
30. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 95.
31. Budin. “A Reconsideration of the Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 95.
32. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 97.
33. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 98.
34. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 98.
35. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 101.
36. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 102.
37. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism, ” 104.
38. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 107.
39. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 110.
40. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 110-111.
41. Budin, “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 111.
42. Budin. “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 121.
43. Budin, “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 122.
44. Budin, “A Reconsideration of Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism,” 133.
Boedeker Dickmann Debrah. Aphrodite’s Entry into Greek Epic, Netherlands:
Bibliotheca Classica Batava, 1974.
Budin L. Stephanie, “A Reconsideration of the Aphrodite-Ashtart Syncretism”,‖ Numen Vol. 51, No. 2 (2004), pp. 95-145. Published by: BRILL, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3270523 (accessed October 8th, 2010), Jstore.
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Dalby Andrew. Venus a Biography. London: The J. Paul Getty Museum Press, 2005.
Miroslav Marcovich, “From Ishtar to Aphrodite”. ‖ Journal of Aesthetic Education Vol. 30, No. 2, Special Issue: Distinguished Humanities Lectures II (Summer, 1996), pp. 43-59 Published by: University of Illinois Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3333191 (accessed October 8th, 2010), Jstor.
Morford Mark, and Lenardon Robert. Classical Mythology. New York and London: Longman Publishing Group, 1991.
Paul Friedrich. The Meaning of Aphrodite. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978.
Rivkah Harris, “Inanna-Ishtar as a Paradox and Coincidence of Opposite”, History of Religions, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Feb., 1991), pp. 261-278, Published by: The University of Chicago Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1062957, (accessed October 12th 2010), Jstor.
Sitchin Zecharia. Genesis Revisited. Vermont: Bear & Company, 2002.
Sophocles, Selected Poems, trans. Reginald Gibbons. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2008), 25.
Wolkstein Diane and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. http://www.inanna.virtualave.net/inannatext1.html. (accessed October 23rd, 2010).
By Abbey Mikha
Harmony manifested within the Aboriginal peoples spirituality and spirituality was intertwined with every aspect of their being. Harmony was therefore omnipresent in the Aboriginal way of life. The ancient Aboriginal peoples understood that to be in harmony with all things was not only the most divine way to live, but for them the only way to live. Their sacrament was one of being in harmony.
Harmony was the vine at the centre of their circle which is life that branched out and touched many aspects of their existence, shaping the ways in which they interacted and related to nature with compassion, creating balance within their autonomous non-hierarchical social organization and embodied within their respect for the individual identity of their children.
Harmony shaped the ways in which the Aboriginal peoples interacted with and related to nature with compassion. They had a deep, close, spiritual connections to their land, to the extent that it was tied to their own identity.
In the article Bkejwanong it said that the Aboriginal peoples wanted to protect their land, their Mother Earth, which they believe to be their soul. It also said that Aboriginal peoples retained values, traditions, and knowledge that are inspired by the principle of living in harmony with the natural world. This being a primary ethic in their civilization embodied within their love for the earth and all its creations. If one crop was not available for them, others were used and they never over exploited one specific resource because they believed that the Creator held them responsible for the natural world. A Cree Proverb describing these preservationist attitudes states:
“Only when the last tree is cut; only when the last river is polluted; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realize that you cannot eat money.”
The Aboriginal peoples valued nature more than the accumulation of riches. In the article Bkejwanong it also said that they believe, “We are spiritual beings, as such, our sources of life are all around us – the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.” These elements were sacred and respected by the Aboriginal peoples who lived life compassionately at one with them.
The autonomous non-hierarchical social organization of the Aboriginal peoples was balanced because humans were at the centre of all things, rule was communal, and women had high degree of status and were allowed to take part in decision-making. Like for example the sister of Joseph Grant Mohawk who had a lot of power and influence in the Iroquois society. In the article Bkejwanong it said that a strong feature of the Aboriginal culture was that emphasis on community, on sharing resources through good and bad times, and on group decision-making through consensus. When the masculine and female psyches and essences were animate in such an atmosphere harmony was mediating.
Harmony was additionally embodied within the Aboriginal peoples respect for the individual identity of their children. In Eleanor Leacock’s article Le Jeune noted that, “Aboriginals cannot endure in the least those who seem desirous of assuming superiority over others and that they place all virtue in a certain gentleness or apathy.”
He also stated that, “Aboriginals cannot bear to have their children punished or even scolded.” These sentiments are interrelated with Aboriginals child rearing ways since they did not practise corporal punishment. Other societies use this sort of punishment because they want to shape the identity of their children by forcing them into submission restricting the child’s identity and personality. This contributes to a climate of violence, leaves a negative impression on children who are the most sensitive beings of all humankind and implies that society approves of their physical violation. Aboriginals instinctively knew this to be unhealthy and unnecessary to shape the psyches of their children in such a way. This lack of need for control of their childrens identities and superiority over them, speaks of confidence the Aboriginal peoples had in their identity as a nation and in the potential identity of their children within that nation. They knew their children’s individuality would shape themselves naturally more positively without their unnecessary intimidating interferences. A child after all is an innocent being and should be treated with benevolence.
In a society where generosity is of the highest value harmony cannot but be a pre-eminent melody and for the Aboriginal peoples harmony was as much a part of life as wind is a part of spring. Balance within the Aboriginals autonomous non-hierarchical social organization was achieved through an incarnation of harmony within the equality between genders in a community where rule was communal. Aboriginal peoples were part of the cycle of the earth. They lived life in love with nature and in that love abided harmony. Harmony was also found within the respect the Aboriginal peoples had for the individual identity of the most defenceless of souls, their children. These variables all gave witness to an advanced consciousness that embraces the ethos of equality for all.
In modern days it is a great achievement when an ethos is made into law. For the Aboriginal peoples the ethos of equality did not need to be made into law, it existed, as surely as birds own no castles other than the wilderness but one can still hear compassion in their voices when they sing for all of humankind. Authority and culture for the Aboriginal peoples was not based on gender, or even age, but also good will, civility, humanity, and harmony is at peace in such values...
Eleanor Leacock’s, Montagnais Women and the Jesuit Program for Colonization. An article from a class about Aboriginals.
Jacob Deans, Bkejwanong The Place Where the Waters Divide. An article from a class on Aboriginals of Canada.
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Abbey is a writer and blogger interested in humanitarian issues...
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