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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Phoenician polytheism—its structure and rites—is not completely unknown to us. There were mythological traditions common to the area, as well as a structure common to the pantheons of the Phoenician cities. At the top there is a divine couple consisting of a male god and a goddess, his spouse, and a divine assembly. The same basic structure is detectable in the Punic world, Carthage and elsewhere, although with differences and innovations. In turn, every Phoenician city had its own tutelary deities: the diversification of gods and cults was a powerful means of cultural identity and identification. As for Phoenician mythology, a theme emerges from available sources, which ultimately dates back to the Late Bronze Age, as exemplified by Ugaritic Baal: Among the ceremonies, particularly important was a solemn feast, called egersis (“awakening”) in Greek sources, which commemorated annually Milqart’s death and return to life. The chapter also discusses the tophet and its rites, both bloody and not, related to the fulfilment of vows concerning severe individual or collective crises, which in some cases involved the sacrifice of children to the gods.

Keywords: Phoenician religion, mythology, ritual, pantheon, cultic place, sacrifice, Milqart/Melqart, tophet

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