Illustrated History: Ancient Gods
Illustrations of Ancient Gods and Deities
Apis the Sacred Bull of Egypt
The bull symbolized fearless vigor, strength, and enduring fury. Egypt chose this animal to represent God and bull worship became prevalent in the ancient world. After the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, Moses came down from the mountain and found Aaron had set up a golden calf or young bull, that the people might worship God in this form. When the northern kingdom of Israel divided from their brothers in the south, Jeroboam introduced bull worship and set up two idols, one at Bethel and the other at Dan.
Asshur of Ancient Assyria
The monuments excavated at Nineveh have revealed much about the religion of the ancient Assyrians. They worshipped the sun, moon and stars, and among their idols were heroes and rulers from earlier times who were made deities. Asshur was the father of the Assyrians and the country was named after him. He was regarded as "the great god, king of all the gods."
Dagon the Fish-God of the Philistines
Dagon was the god of the Philistines. This image shows that the idol was represented in the combination of both man and fish. The name "Dagon" is derived from "dag" which means "fish."
The women of the ancient Near East used to paint their eyebrows and their eyelids with a black dye, as seen in this sketch of an Egyptian Goddess, copied from the Sarcophagus of Oimenepthah. The process was repeated often and sometimes painful to the eyes. Solomon warned of the seductress who uses her painted eyes to lure men. When Queen Jezebel heard about Jehu coming to slay her she went in and painted her eyes and looked out a window.
Juno the Roman Savior of Women
In ancient Roman religion, the Goddess Juno was worshiped by women in the Roman Empire. Her festival was Matronalia and celebrated on March 1.
Jupiter the Chief God of Rome
In ancient Roman religion, Jupiter was the chief of the gods. The name "Jupiter" means "the best and greatest" (Optimus Maximus). He was identified with the Greek god Zeus.
Jupiter was the spirit of the sky and worshiped as the god of thunder and lightning. During wartime he was sought to protect in battle and was the 'giver of victory.' During peacetime he was the god of justice and morality. He was believed to be present during the giving of oaths and transactions. His temple was on the Capitoline Hill.
Mars the Roman God of War
In ancient Roman religion, Mars was the god of war. He was considered to be the second most important Roman deity, Jupiter was the 'chief.' It was also believed that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was the son of Mars. He was worshiped during wartime and his priests, the Salii, danced in full armor carrying the sacred shields. His altar was in the Campus Martius where warfare exercises were held. Mars was considered to be the Greek Ares and the son of Juno.
Nebo, God of Babylon
In ancient times Nebo, or Nabu was the Chaldean deity of the Babylonians and Assyrians. King Nebuchadnezzar's name means "May Nebo protect my boundary."
Nisroch God of Ancient Assyria
The Assyrian god Nisroch was depicted as an eagle-headed diety with wings and exaggerated muscles. In this sculptured relief from Nineveh he is sprinkling the sacred tree with water. He is holding a water vessel in his left hand and a fir cone (sponge) in his right. It was to this god that Sennacherib, king of Assyria was praying when he returned from his campaigns in Israel. The previous verse reveals that the Angel of the Lord routed the Assyrian army.
Statue of Diana
In ancient times Diana was the Goddess of the Ephesians. Her Greek name was Artemis and she was also represented as Astarte. Her Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world, and her statue was believed to have fallen from heaven.
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