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The Sun’s statue in Heliopolis (1)

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Topics (move over topic to see place in topic list)

12 Assyrian Identity

12 Assyrian Identity

06 Visual arts and architecture

12 Assyrian Identity

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

5th century CE
Roman Empire
Roman philosophers and scholars

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.23.10-13:
The Assyrians (= Syrians) too, in a city called Heliopolis, worship the sun with an elaborate ritual under the name of Jupiter, calling him ‘Heliopolitan Zeus’. The statue of the god was brought from the Egyptian town also called Heliopolis, when Senemur (who was perhaps the same as Senepos) was king of Egypt. It was taken to Assyria first … and, after it had been for some time in Assyria, it was later moved to Heliopolis. Why this was done and how it came about that, after leaving Egypt, the statue has reached the place where it now is and is worshipped with Assyrian rather than with Egyptian rites I have omitted to mention, because the matter has no bearing on our present topic. However, the identification of this god with Jupiter and with the sun is clear from the form of the ceremonial and from the appearance of the statue. The statue, a figure of gold in the likeness of a beardless man, presses forward with a right hand rised and holding a whip, after the manner of a charioteer; in the left hand are thunderbolt and ears of corn; and all these attributes symbolize the conjoined power of Jupiter and the sun. The temple is held in remarkable awe too as the seat of an oracle, such divination pointing to a faculty of Apollo, who is identified with the sun. For the statue of the god of Heliopolis is borne in a litter, as the images of the gods are carried in the procession at the Circensian Games, and the bearers are generally the leading men of the province. These men, with their heads shaved, and purified by a long period of abstinence, go as the spirit of the god moves them and carry the statue not of their own will but whithersoever the god directs them, just as at Antium we see the images of the two goddesses of Fortune move forward to give their oracles.

Source (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.23.10-13


Davies 1969, 151Davies, Percival V. Macrobius, The Saturnalia. Records of Civilization. Sources and Studies 79. New York, London: Columbia University Press 1969.
Turcan 1996, 148-149Turcan, Robert. The Cults of the Roman Empire. Oxford, Cambridge MA: Blackwell 1986.

Amar Annus

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