Peri Tes Syries Theoy
De Dea Syria
Concerning the Syrian Goddess

by Lucian of Samosata

2nd Century C.E.


Lucian was a popular author of the second century from Samosata in Syria. Although best known for his humorous pieces, Peri Tes Syries Theoy, written in Greek, during the Roman period and known in Latin as De Dea Syria, presents a great deal of information about Levantine religion in the Roman period. While some of his descriptions are tantalizingly vague, much of his information is actually verified by the literature from Ugarit written almost 1500 years earlier and discovered in 1928.

While most commonly attributed to Lucian, some scholars dispute the authorship of this book because it is written in a somewhat archaic Ionic Greek dialect rather than in the Attic Greek dialect in which Lucian typically wrote. Those who believe Lucian is the author argue that he wrote it intentionally to sound a bit like the ancient Greek Herodotos who wrote a famous travelogue hundreds of years before, and still popular in Lucian's day. Lucian is famous for his satires and parodies, so it is quite possible he is, indeed, the author.

I have compared the Loeb Classics edition, translated by A. M. Harmon into "antique" English la John Mandeville, and which i am returning to modern English (still incomplete in this upload, but at least readable, i hope), with the translation of Harold W. Attridge and Robert A. Oden, The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria), Society of Biblical Literature Texts and Translations, no. 9 (Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1976). Verses 1-16 & 30-60 are also published in The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook, Marvin W. Meyer, ed. (he skips the Stratonike and Kombabos story).

Most of the notes, indented and in a smaller font, are adapted from Harmon. Some words, phrases, and notes in [square brackets] are my comments, while some are Harmon's. I realize i haven't adequately marked them all. Wherever Lucian gives only a Greek name, i have tried to include the Phoenician or Syrian name [in square brackets].

The subdivisions are of my own making, not Lucian's. Note that what are called Chapters are often only one or two paragraphs long.
Part One
Ch. 1-5 - The Temples of Syria and Phoenicia
Ch. 6-9 - The Story of Adon, called by the Greeks, Adonis

Part Two
Ch. 10-13 - The Holy City of the Syrian Goddess
Ch. 14 - The Story of Semiramis and Derketo
Ch. 15-16 - The Story of Kybele and Attis

Part Three
Ch. 17-27 - The Story of Stratonike and Kombabos

Part Four
Ch. 28-29 - The Holy Pillar Sitters
Ch. 30-49 - The Temple of the Syrian Goddess

Part Five
Ch. 50-54 - The Galloi
Ch. 55-60 - Pilgrims to the Holy City

The Qadash Kinahnu Canaanite-Phoenician Temple Directory
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