Atargatis

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Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, "the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her,[1] commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Derceto or Derketo[2] and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria", occasionally rendered in one word Deasura. She is often now popularly described as the mermaid-goddess, from her fish-bodied appearance at Ascalon and in Diodorus Siculus — a widely accessible source — but which is by no means her universal appearance.[3]

Her consort is usually Hadad. As Ataratha she may be recognized by the self-mutilation of her votaries, recorded in a perhaps sensationalist Christian passage from the Book of the Laws of the Countries, one of the oldest works of Syriac prose, an early-third-century product of the school of Bar Daisan (Bardesanes):

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Her name

At Ugarit, cuneiform tablets attest a fecund "Lady Goddess of the Sea" (rabbatu at̪iratu yammi), as well as three Canaanite goddesses — Anat, Asherah and Ashtart — who shared many traits and might be worshipped in conjunction or separately during 1500 years of cultural history.[4]

At Hierapolis Bambyce, on coins of about the fourth century BCE, the legend tr‘th appears, for 'Atar'ate, and tr‘th mnbgyb in a Nabataean inscription; at Kafr Yassif near Akko an altar is inscribed "to Adado and Atargatis, the gods who listen to prayer",[5] The full name ‘tr‘th appears on a bilingual inscription found in Palmyra.

This name ‘Atar‘atah is a compound of two divine names: the first part (Atar) is a form of the Ugaritic ‘Athtart, Himyaritic ‘Athtar, the equivalent of the Old Testament ‘Ashtoreth, the Phoenician ‘Ashtart rendered in Greek as Astarte. The feminine ending -t has been omitted. Compare the cognate Akkadian form Ishtar. The second half (atis) may be a Palmyrene divine name Athe (i.e. tempus opportunum), which occurs as part of many compounds.[citation needed]

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