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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 11

Babylonian religion was of twofold character. It embraced temple worship and private worship. The religion of the temple was the religion of the ruling class, and especially of the king, who was the guardian of the people. Domestic religion was conducted in homes, in reed huts, or in public places, and conserved the crudest superstitions surviving from the earliest times. The great "burnings" and the human sacrifices in Babylonia, referred to in the Bible, were, no doubt, connected with agricultural religion of the private order, as was also the ceremony of baking and offering cakes to the Queen of Heaven, condemned by Jeremiah, which obtained in the streets of Jerusalem and other cities. Domestic religion required no temples. There were no temples in Crete: the world was the "house" of the deity, who had seasonal haunts on hilltops, in groves, in caves, &c. In Egypt Herodotus witnessed festivals and processions which are not referred to in official inscriptions, although they were evidently practised from the earliest times.

Agricultural religion in Egypt was concentrated in the cult of Osiris and Isis, and influenced all local theologies. In Babylonia these deities were represented by Tammuz and Ishtar. Ishtar, like Isis, absorbed many other local goddesses.

According to the beliefs of the ancient agriculturists the goddess was eternal and undecaying. She was the Great Mother of the Universe and the source of the food


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