The History and Significance of the god Ahat

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The theme of a mortal dying and then being resurrected as a god is a common theme throughout the world’s mythology, such as Hercules in Greek mythology. For the general part, this theme can be argued that it reflects the annual agricultural cycle, where life returns to the world after death. This can be seen with the god Ahat, also known as Aqhat.

Ahat, according to Phoenician mythology, was the son of a local ruler named Daniel. Daniel had no children and, after prompting from the rain and fertility god, Baal, the supreme god El granted him his wish and gave him a son (who has been known also by the name Naaman).

When Ahat grew to manhood, the craftsman god Kothar gave Daniel a splendid bow made from twisted horns, who then passed it along to his son. The goddess Anat longed to possess this extraordinary weapon and offered immortality to Ahat in exchange. Ahat refused, stating that it was mankind’s destiny to die.

In anger, the goddess lured him to “the city of Abilim, Abilim the city of Prince Yarih”, where her servant Yatpan lay in wait for the hero. Yatpan slays Ahat, but the weapon is lost in the struggle. As punishment, Baal stops the rain from falling and the crops withered and died.

Although the rest of the myth is lost, the text indicates that the goddess Anat intended to revive Ahat. In one passage, the goddess states “I slew him just(?) for his bow; I slew him for his arc. Him will (or did?) I revive. So shalt thou give his bow (or, so shall his bow be given) to me”.It is believed that the goddess did revive him and fertility returned to the land after seven years. After this, it has been argued that Ahat was then regarded as a dying and rising god.

There has been controversy amongst scholars regarding the burial in the Ugaritic Texts over the last few decades. The primary concern has revolved around the uncertain reading of the last word of the line; the interpretation of a text is largely dependent upon the reading and interpretation of a single word. Further study of the myth and the archaeology surrounding it will no doubt further enrich our knowledge of the significance this legend had on the surrounding people.

Bibliography:

Cotterell, Arthur & Storm, Rachel (1999) The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology, Hermes House, Anness Publishing House.

Ginsberg, H. L. (1945) The North Canaanite Myth of Anath and Aqhat, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, The American Schools of Oriental Research.

Pitard, Wayne T. (1994) The Reading of KTU 1.19:III:41: The Burial of Aqhat, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, The American Schools of Oriental Research.

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