The Hounds of Hell
Since Sirius is the Dog Star, let us turn to the dog-headed Sumerian
goddess Bau. According to Thorkild Jacobsen,1 'Bau seems originally
to have been goddess of the dog and her name, Bau, to have
constituted an imitation of the dog's bark, as English "bowwow".*
Bau was also the daughter of An. So here the dog-goddess is the
daughter of An, whereas in Egypt the dog-god was himself An-pu (Anubis).
Egyptian a word for 'dog, jackal', is Auau, which probably has the
same 'dog's bark' derivatlon as the Sumerian Bau.
Since An is connected with Sirius, we
should thus not be surprised that he has a dog-goddess for a
daughter in Sumer. Sirius as the Dog Star was a tradition which was
not thought to have existed in Sumer, however, before now.
Since the fifty Anunnaki were children of An, and Bau is a daughter
of An, it is not far-fetched to see in Bau a survival (for she is an
old goddess who faded into obscurity in later times) of the concept
of a dog-star goddess equivalent to his as Sothis. And it is
interesting that she was dog-headed. For Anubis was not entirely a
jackal or dog, he was merely jackal- or dog-headed.
Bau's husband Ninurta was the son of Enlil. Just as Marduk usurped
the position of chief god, at a somewhat earlier time Enlil had
usurped this position from An. (The situation is analogous to Greek
mythology where Cronos usurped the position of Uranus and was in
turn overthrown by Zeus.) There is an interesting 170-line hymn to
Enlil2 which seems to describe a stellar abode for the god. The
'lifted eye' or 'lifted light' scanning and searching the lands
sounds reminiscent of the Dogon concept of the ray of Digitaria
which once a year sweeps the Earth.
In any case, a 'lifted light' which
searches and scans is definitely a beam or ray, and is in its own
right an interesting concept for the Sumerians to have had as
situated in the celestial abode. I must emphasize in advance for the
reader that lapis lazuli was considered by the Sumerians to
represent the night sky. Here then are significant excerpts from the
Enlil, whose command is far-reaching, whose word is holy, The lord
whose pronouncement is unchangeable, who forever decrees destinies,
Whose lifted eye scans the lands, Whose lifted light searches the
heart of all the lands,
Enlil who sits broadly on the
white dais, on the lofty dais . . .
The lofty white dais of Sothis-Sirius is an Egyptian
concept. It is Ast (Isis).
It is also Asar (Osiris), with the
addition of a hieroglyphic eye. Later we find in this hymn from
Sumer the city of Nippur's temple in comparison:
Nippur - the shrine, where dwells
the father, the 'great mountain',
The dais of plenty, the Ekur which
rises . . . ,
The high mountain, the pure place .
. . ,
Its prince, the 'great mountain',
Father Enlil, Has established his
seat on the dais of the Ekur, lofty shrines;
The temple - its divine laws like
heaven cannot be overturned,
Its pure rites, like the earth
cannot be shattered,
Its divine laws are like the divine
laws of the abyss,
none can look upon them,
Its 'heart' like a distant shrine,
unknown like heaven's-zenith. . .
The Ekur, the lapis-lazuli house,
the lofty dwelling place, awe-inspiring, Its awe and dread are
next to heaven, Its shadow is spread over all the lands Its
loftiness reaches heaven's heart.
These mentions of the lapis lazuli
aspect of Enlil's abode and also that it reaches heaven's heart make
quite clear that we are not merely dealing with a solar description.
It is not the sun but a stellar abode that is being distinctly
described. Hence the references to the ray or beam are all the more
curious as they do not refer to the sun's light as might have been
thought from a superficial reading.
Heaven - he is its princely one;
earth - he is its great one, The Anunnaki - he is their exalted
god; When in his awesomeness, he decrees the fates, No god dare
look on him.
Here we see Enlil has been called the
exalted god over the Anunnaki (in other texts his son Enki, or Ea,
boasts that he is their 'big brother' and leader). Here Enlil has
also himself been given the power of decreeing the fates, which the
Anunnaki traditionally do themselves. In the fourth line from the
end above, 'heaven' is An and 'earth' is Ki. An and Ki were married.
The compound an-ki is Sumerian for 'heaven-earth' and is the word
meaning 'universe'. Note the similarity between an-ki and the name
of the Egyptian goddess Anukis who is identified with Sothis-Sirius.
Also, of course, the similarity to the name Anunnaki.
So we find the above stellar descriptions of Enlil, the
father-in-law of the dog-headed goddess we tentatively identify with
Sirius. And we find those fifty irrepressible Anunnaki creeping in
again. They manage to turn up everywhere, given half a chance, when
the subject of Sirius comes up.
Now the many similarities between Sumer and Egypt which we have so
far noted (with more to come), which have led us to consider the
possibility of the two nations having been in some way linked, may
be referred to in a most interesting passage from Josephus,3 in
which 'the children of Seth' are mentioned. Many ancient writers
supposed Seth to have been Hermes Trismegistus.
This fact may suddenly be more important in the light of what we
have begun to suspect about a scantily surviving authentic Hermetic
tradition (maligned and obscured by a welter of useless, trivial
co-survivals from later times).
Here is the passage:
'The children of Seth' were the
inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned
with the heavenly bodies, and their order; and that their
inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently
known, upon Adam's prediction, that the world was at one time to
be destroyed by the force of fire, and at another time by the
violence and quantity of water, they made two pillars, the one
of brick, the other of stone.
They described their discoveries on
them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed
by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit
those discoveries to mankind, and also inform them that there
was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in
the land of Syria or Seirad to this day.
This passage calls forth many comments.
The point which immediately springs to one's notice is that there is
a 'pillar of brick' in the land of Syria, or in the land of
Well, this is the very land of brick! It
is the land of the brick ziggurat or 'great mountain' - a giant
pillar if you like. But where is the land of stone? Why, it is
obviously Egypt, the land of the great stone pyramids. Here, then,
is a description of two linked cultures, one building brick edifices
and the other building stone edifices.
In Egypt we have the Great Pyramid,
which so many people have believed to contain in its basic
construction the proportions and measurements to demonstrate that it
was constructed by highly advanced and civilized men. The great
ziggurats of Babylon and other cities, too, though in a more ruinous
state, seem to embody in their construction much that is profound.
Can it be that Josephus has preserved a tradition of the link
between Egypt and Sumer and their respective types of building ? He
says the link was an astronomically-defined one.
'The children of Seth' first possessed
'that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly
bodies'. Well, we have already discovered for ourselves that the
fundamental astronomical and astronomical-religious concepts were
common to earliest Egypt and Sumer. And here is Josephus telling us
the same thing, and what is more, telling us what the treatise 'The
Virgin of the World' would have us know - that it all began with
Hermes Trismegistus in the way we have previously discussed.
But now let us pursue other relevant ramifications of Egypt found
elsewhere. And let us do so by returning to the subject of the Argo
and the fifty Argonauts, who were all Minyae (descendants of Minyas),
who were led by Jason (also a descendant of Minyas) in the quest for
the golden fleece at the mysterious land of Colchis, which actually
existed and was just about as strange a locale as one could wish.
For if you sail through the Hellespont
(named after Helle, who fell from the golden ram) into the Black Sea
(called the Euxine Sea by the Greeks), and follow the coast of
present-day Turkey until you come to the region of the border with
the Soviet Union of today, you will have come to Colchis. It is a
pretty strange place for the Greeks to attach so much importance to.
It sits at the loot of the formidable Caucasus Mountains and not far
away are the Georgian people who live in their mountains to such
amazing ages as a hundred and ten, with a culture peculiarly their
own. Not far to the south is that strange place, Mount Ararat, where
the ark of Noah landed after the Flood.
Surely this is a most unusual land, and
far removed from the Greek world. Or is it?
Minyas had a great-grandson called Phrixus. Phrixus had four sons
who lived in Colchis, to which he had fled on the back of the golden
ram and where he gave the golden fleece to the local King of Colchis,
and in return was made welcome and married the king's daughter. It
is obvious that these four sons were only half-Colchian and would
feel some loyalty towards their father's homeland which was in
mainland Greece. Sure enough, on his deathbed Phrixus asked his sons
to return to Orchomenos, his home in Greece, to reclaim their
This they agreed to do. For Phrixus's
father had been the King of Orchomenos (as had Minyas) and these
sons should be able to claim what honor and position (not to mention
more material matters) was rightly theirs. However, they knew that
setting things straight might be a bit difficult, as their father
and his sister Helle (who fell into the Hellespont) had left in
rather a hurry on the golden ram with the blessing of Hermes, but
not with too many tears being shed in Orchomenos at the time.
So these four sons set out and were shipwrecked but were fortunately
picked up and rescued. Who rescued them? None other than our fifty
Argonauts who were just passing. In fact, these Argonaut cousins of
theirs were at that moment just happening by on their way to Colchis
where their mission was to try to get that fleece back. The four
young fellows had no objection to such a plan, especially as they
were also descended from Minyas.
The Argonauts had been losing some of
their men (for instance, Hercules and Hylas had vanished; Hylas was
dragged down into a stream by a passionate water nymph and Hercules
went berserk and wandered off into Turkey calling his name in vain,
later founding cities and doing various Herculean things). So these
four fellows from Colchis were just the thing to recharge the ranks.
But what about this place Colchis ? Perhaps if we examine it we
shall find some Egyptian connections. Anything seems to be possible
in a magical land like this.
In fact if we look at the Histories of Herodotus4 we read: 'It is
undoubtedly a fact that the Colchians are of Egyptian descent, I
noticed this myself before I heard anyone else mention it, and when
it occurred to me I asked some questions both in Colchis and in
Egypt, and found that the Colchians remembered the Egyptians more
distinctly than the Egyptians remembered them. The Egyptians did,
however, say that they thought the Colchians were men from Sesostris'
This Sesostris is identified tentatively
by scholars with Ramses II.
My own idea on the subject was based
first on the fact that they have black skins and woolly hair
(not that that amounts to much, as other nations have the same),
and secondly, and more especially, on the fact that the
Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians are the only races
which from ancient times have practised circumcision.
The Phoenicians and the Syrians of
Palestine themselves admit that they adopted the practice from
Egypt, and the Syrians who live near the rivers Thermodon and
Parthenius, learnt it only a short time ago from the Colchians.
No other nations use circumcision, and all these are without
doubt following the Egyptian lead.
As between the Egyptians and the
Ethiopians, I should not like to say which learned from the
other, for the custom is evidently a very ancient one; but I
have no doubt that the other nations adopted it as a result of
their intercourse with Egypt, and in this belief I am strongly
supported by the fact that Phoenicians, when they mix in Greek
society, drop the Egyptian usage and allow their children to go
And now I think of it, there is a
further point of resemblance between the Colchians and Egyptians:
they share a method of weaving linen different from that of any
other people; and there is also a similarity between them in
language and way of living.*
Circumcision is absolutely fundamental to Dogon culture for
So here we see a probable (indeed, almost entirely certain)
explanation for the connection of Colchis with the Argonaut story.
No wonder the Hermesgiven (which is to say, Anubis-given) golden
fleece was at Colchis. For Colchis was a thoroughly Egyptian
country. But because the heroes of a Greek tale must be Greeks and
not Egyptians, the Argonauts are all Minyae from Greece.
The familiar anonymity of 'the fifty'
witnessed by us with the Anunnaki of Sumer, prevails here among the
Argonauts as well. Different epic poets who treated of the tale
chucked in various epic heroes. In the main surviving Argonautica by
Apollonius of Rhodes, Orpheus and Herakles (Hercules) are among the
crew, though Hercules is left behind as I have just said.
In fact, Hercules was so obviously
borrowed for his 'box-office draw' as a 'guest star' in a cameo
performance that we can't really take the matter seriously.
On with the story and those Argonauts. I said that Orpheus was
included in the cast by that great film producer Apollonius of
Rhodes. But another competing film producer, Pherecydes, insisted
that Orpheus was not an Argonaut. Diodorus Siculus, a great
supporter of women's lib, maintained that Atalanta was an
Apollonius says pointedly that
super-star Theseus was in Hades at the time and otherwise engaged
(with another contract), but Statius (who was obviously with the
other studio) later made Theseus an Argonaut anyway. H. W. Parke has
pointed out that the Apolline seers were apparently injected into
the Argonaut story as a propaganda effort by the rising power of the
Delphic Oracle which was trying to squeeze out the premier oracle of
Dodona and achieve first place for itself in the eyes of the Greek
Parke has shown how the really central oracular elements in the Argo
story were all related to Dodona, not Delphi. Delphi was quite an
upstart in the centuries immediately preceding the classical period,
and initially was not more important than Dodona, though it was to
become so and held precedence by the time of Socrates and the
Parke concludes that all the Delphic and
Apolline elements in the Argo story are late accretions from the
time after Delphi had usurped the primacy of Dodona. They would not
have been in the Argo epic referred to by Homer, who proves the
antiquity of the Argo saga by his mention in the Odyssey (XII,
69-72) of 'the celebrated Argo' and of Jason and the Clashing Rocks.
Significantly, no other Argonaut is
mentioned by name by Homer. It is obvious, in fact, from what I said
above, that the Argonauts were primarily noted for being fifty in
number and related (a comfortable kind of anonymity - cousins!).
Outstanding Hellenic heroes were thrown into their ranks by the
caprices of successive epic poets to provide recognizable color.
With the exception of Jason there is
total disagreement among everyone concerned about just who were the
Argonauts. And according to Robert Graves in The Greek Myths, Jason
was originally Hercules. And Hercules was originally Briareus. Of
course, the answer is that they were not individuals and were not
meant to be.
They were fifty and they were related and usually seated and they
sailed in a magic boat. Just like the Anunnaki, and just like the
fifty anonymous companions of Gilgamesh! And in the Gilgamesh
fragments from the early Sumerian times, the boat mentioned is a 'Magan-boat',
or Egyptian boat. It must be remembered also that Sumer is located
between Egypt and Colchis.
We are now beginning to get down to the bare bones of the Argo
story. I don't believe that the earliest levels of this ancient tale
have ever previously been reached.
Not only Herodotus, but Pindar as well, describes the Colchians as
dark. In his IVth Pythian Ode, which is largely about the Argonauts,
Pindar says (212): 'Among the dark-faced Kolchians, in the very
presence of Aeetes'. Pindar therefore confirms Herodotus on this
It remains to attempt a dating. If Herodotus is correct and the
Golchians were Egyptian soldiers dating from the reign of Sesostris
(Ramses II), then they would have gone to Colchis at some time
during the years 1301-1234 B.C., which is estimated by John A.
Wilson5 as the period of the reign of Ramses II. This dating is only
of use as an indicator of the general antiquity of the origins of
There does not seem to be any
archaeological information of any kind from the undiscovered site of
Aea, the capital city of Colchis, which is on the coast of the Black
Sea (just by a river known anciently as the Phasis), just across the
border of the Soviet Union from Turkey. I would suspect the site of
Aea has never even been sought! It would certainly make an
interesting site for excavation. It would presumably offer an
unusual amount of Egyptian- style material mixed with
It should be extraordinarily interesting
from the point of view of ancient art, almost certainly being quite
rich in precious metals and beautiful metal-working, particularly
gold. We shall see later in this book that it was near a famous
ancient metallurgical centre. And, of course, there should be finds
which would confirm Herodotus's account.
Here is a description of the site, for those who wish to seek it:
'They reached the broad estuary of
the Phasis, where the Black Sea ends . . . and then rowed
straight up into the mighty river, which rolled in foam to
either bank as it made way for Argo's prow. On their left hand
they had the lofty Caucasus and the city of Aea, on their right
the plain of Ares and the god's sacred grove, where the snake
kept watch and ward over the fleece, spread on the leafy
branches of an oak.' (Another hint of Dodona, with the oak and
the grove. This similarity will be seen to become extremely
relevant later on.)
To return to the question of dates (also
bearing in mind Homer's early casual reference to 'the celebrated
Argo'), we'll recall my mention of dates when I showed the identical
nature of the Sumerian and Egyptian astronomical systems in their
essential details. I pointed out then that the Babylonian tablets
were dated from the second millennium B.C., giving us an upper limit
on time in the Sumerian region.
The Egyptian star clocks to which they
bear such total resemblance calendrically had already altered (such
as by the introduction of a fifteen-day week instead of a ten-day
one, indicating the advanced degeneration of the traditions) in
Egypt in the first millennium B.C.
Hence we see that the Egyptian star clocks no longer existed in the
necessary form by the first millennium, giving us an upper limit
date in Egypt of the end of the second millennium B.C., identical
with the upper limit we have in Sumer. I am tempted now to steal a
phrase of the physicists and remind the reader that these dates are
of an order of magnitude comparable with the date of Ramses II's
reign adopted tentatively for the settlement at Colchis of Egyptian
Surely these three dates cannot coalesce
accidentally round the same material! We have no choice but to adopt
the approximate date of 1200 B.C. as the upper limit for the spread
(and subsequent degeneration) of our Sirius-related material
throughout the Mediterranean area, from whichever source it
It may perhaps be of some relevance that this coincides roughly with
the end of Minoan domination of the Mediterranean. From the point of
view at least of the spread of the Sirius material, I would connect
it with what seems to me an obvious fact: that when Minoan sea
power, based on Crete, collapsed, the Egyptians and inhabitants of
the Near East could and did expand their own maritime activities to
fill the vacuum left by the disintegration of the Minoan fleets.
(An alternative but unlikely suggestion
is that fleeing Minoans dispersed their culture with them as they
settled in exile in different areas of the Mediterranean following
the collapse of their nation; but I do not believe they alone were
the source of the Sirius material.)
I am inclined to believe the increasingly strong and accumulating
evidence that the Minoan culture was dealt a death blow by eruptions
of the volcano Thera.
F. Matz, in 'Minoan Civilization:
Maturity and Zenith' in the Cambridge Ancient History, says:
'The peaceful transfer of power in
Crete from the Minoans to the Mycenaeans is difficult to
But not, surely, if volcanic eruptions
had enfeebled the Minoans. The Minoan cities had no walls. On their
island the Minoans relied, it seems, on their unchallenged sea power
to keep enemies at bay, just as the Spartans in their unwalled city
of Sparta in mainland Greece relied on their unchallenged land power
to keep enemies at bay in late classical times.
For the Cretan island could not be
reached by enemies on foot, and as the Minoans had total naval
superiority they could not be threatened at home. The latest
conclusions about Thera seem to be that the towns on that small
volcanic island near Crete were first evacuated due to earthquakes
some years before the final volcanic eruption which destroyed Minoan
Herodotus in Book I of his Histories gives us a good illustration of
how hopeless it is for a land power to challenge a sea power on the
sea, when he shows the landlubber Lydians abandoning their plans to
build ships and extend their conquests to the islands because they
are aware they just don't know what they're doing.
If the Minoan fleets had been sunk in
great tidal waves following volcanic eruptions, the Minoans would
have had no choice but to come to an understanding with the
Mycenaeans. Any other possibility would have meant suicide. Probably
they made a graceful and dignified pact or series of pacts which
made the inevitable seem voluntary. And if the Mycenaeans were
traditionally a good bit in awe of the more sophisticated Minoans,
so much the better for the Minoans who 'condescended' to come to
terms like gentlemen.
But the 'spheres of influence' of the sea-going Minoans could not be
taken over immediately by the Mycenaeans, who lacked the maritime
skill (not to mention ships) to complement on the waves their
success in overrunning most of the island of Crete, probably leaving
certain areas to the native Minoans according to the pacts I have
It is not that the Mycenaeans would have
lacked the energy or will, but the Minoan fleets would have been
destroyed and even the most willing Minoan sailors could not sail
non-existent ships for the Mycenaean invaders. Furthermore, the work
of consolidating power on the recently taken island would have been
a protracted and distracting matter for the Mycenaeans.
So, for all these reasons, the new
Cretan rulers could not attain to the full stature of their
predecessors and be in complete command of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Mycenaeans had been competing with the Minoans (and raiding
them, apparently under Theseus) as best they could for some time
before the cataclysm. In fact F. H. Stubbings6 informs us that the
Minoans made a 'disastrous Sicilian expedition' against the
Mycenaean trading interests in the central Mediterranean. This is
reminiscent, of course, of the famous Athenian expedition to Sicily
which was a total disaster and caused Athens to lose the
Peloponnesian War. Sicily was thus responsible for two great
historical disasters that altered the course of events to an unknown
extent elsewhere than in Sicily.
So we see the Minoan power may already have been declining.
Stubbings says: 'All that is really certain, however, is that the
fall of Crete laid the way clear for a vastly increased Mycenaean
activity.' And, we may be sure, for a vastly increased Egyptian
maritime activity as well. Egypt, which is known to have traded
heavily with Crete under the Minoans, must have found itself without
choice: expanded maritime activity on her own account or a severe
starvation of imported goods.
There may even be a possibility that the
name Minyas (and, hence, Minyae for the Argonauts) may have some
connection with Minos (which gave us the word Minoan). After all,
the Minoans were in considerable contact with the Egyptians and were
the best sailors of their day.
It has been worth while to go into all this about the Minoan
collapse at about the time of the upper limit dates which we have
arrived at in other ways. For with the disappearance of Minoan
supremacy at sea, vast numbers of other people were free to ply the
sea lanes and no doubt did so, bringing a proliferation of
variegated contacts between cultures which the uniform Minoan sea
traffic had ironed flat and featureless.
Enterprising folk from almost anywhere
-ethnics from mainland Greece, sophisticates from riverine Egypt,
and clever Semites from Lebanon, Canaan, Palestine, all with their
eyes on the main chance, could find something that would float and
have a go.
All these folk suddenly let loose on the high seas brought an
inevitable cross-fertilization at the cultural level, even if piracy
must have increased alarmingly.
There must have been a lot more drowned
sailors and shipwrecked merchants, but an amazing amount of
syncretism, during which our Sirius material must have leaked out
into wider currency beyond the confines of Egypt and Sumer, Two
millennia earlier, or even before that, the Egyptian and Sumerian
cultures had shared many secrets: now these secrets were let out of
Pandora's box and entered what was to become the Greek culture
through synthesis in the white heat of warlike Mycenaean exploits at
Troy and elsewhere.
The Heroic Age was beginning, arete (the
classical Greek ideal of excellence in all things) was to be forged
by blood and iron in the lost Thebaid and the surviving Iliad, with
the subsidiary sources of the great Odyssey and what remains of the
Argo tales. Deeply imbedded like subtle dragon's teeth sunk in tough
battle flesh, the bony outline of our Sirius material was to peer
through the membrane of Greek epic tradition, to spring forth now in
our century as the armed men of controversy.
They have re-entered the field, we must
face them. Rather than enter into combat, let us question these
strangers about their origins. We are faced with the living fossils
of a world almost entirely beyond our modern comprehension. These
creatures are shaggy with the cobwebs of the centuries that preceded
even classical Greece, and came before even Hesiod and Homer. These
ghosts are antique in a sense which we rarely encounter except
inside the tombs of Egypt or the burials at Ur.
To continue with elucidations of the Argonaut complex, we turn now
to that invaluable compendium of ail that is strange and wonderful
about the world of the Greeks, Robert Graves's superb work The Greek
Myths. There we find:7 'Aeaea ("wailing") is a typical death island
where the familiar Death-goddess sings as she spins. The Argonautic
legend places it at the head of the Adriatic Gulf; it may well be
Lussin near Pola. Circe means "falcon", and she had a cemetery in
Colchis, planted with willows, sacred to Hecate.5
In the Argonautica, we recall, Jason
offers a sacrifice to the goddess Hecate at Colchis at the
suggestion of Medea. We shall see later that Hecate is a degenerate
form of Sothis, or Sirius. But let us examine the above information
from Graves. First we note that Circe, who figures so prominently in
the Argonautica, has the meaning of 'falcon'.
This brings to mind the prominent
Egyptian symbolic 'falcon of Horus', which was the symbol of rising
from the dead, or resurrection. The hawk or falcon of Horus presided
over the Egyptian necropolis at Memphis, so it is quite obvious that
it could have presided over the Egyptian necropolis at Colchis.
Naturally, the Greeks would have thought of the falcon in terms of
their death-goddess Hecate.*
Hesiod's account of Hecate shows her to have been the original
Triple-goddess, supreme in Heaven, on earth, and in Tartarus; but
the Hellenes emphasized her destructive powers at the expense of her
creative ones . . . Lion, dog, and horse (were) her heads ... the
dog being the Dog-star Sirius': Robert Graves, The Greek Myths,
31.7. Hesiod says (Theogony 416): In starry Heaven she has her
place, and the immortal gods greatly respect her'.
There was no reason for them to preserve
the masculine gender of a Horus of whom they knew nothing. But the
falcon of Horus could have had a powerful effect on them as a symbol
and have been transferred to a feminine figure of Greek myth. In
fact, this cemetery of Circe in Colchis is almost undoubtedly an
Egyptian cemetery surviving from Herodotus's Egyptian Colchians, and
presided over by the falcon of Horus which in Greek was called
Circe, and eventually became a female figure.
The springing up from the earth of the
magically sown soldiers in the Argonautica must partially refer to
the Egyptian soldiers buried in 'the cemetery of Circe' who were
meant to rise from the dead under the auspices of the Egyptian god
of resurrection, Horus, whose symbol was the falcon, or 'circe'.
(Excavations could unearth the Colchian necropolis some day.)
Circe lived on the island of Aea, which has the same name as the
city which Jason visited in Colchis and from where Medea came. In
Greek mythology, Circe is the daughter of Helios and Perse and the
sister of King Aeetes, the king of Colchis. She is therefore Medea's
aunt (Medea eloped with Jason). As for the 'island' of Aea, I
believe it was a holm, or river-island, in the Phasis River near the
Circe's father Helios is the sun, who rose every morning from his
magnificent palace near Colchis where he slept and stabled his
horses overnight. And likewise the father of the Egyptian Horus was
the sun, and Horus himself represents the rising sun. The Greek word
(kirke latinized as circe) revealingly means 'an unknown bird', if
we consult (as we shall do from now on) Liddell and Scott's
definitive Greek lexicon. In the form (kirkos) the meaning is 'a
kind of hawk or falcon', 'a kind of wolf, 'a circle' (which in Latin
became circus) or 'ring', and 'an unknown stone'. (kirkaia) means
'an uncertain plant'.
Of these only the proper noun " (Kirke) has the specific meaning of
Circe the Enchantress, although the same word in general is 'an
unknown bird'. How appropriate a reaction for the Greeks to the
falcon of Horus - a bird- symbol unknown to them.
But in trying to be more precise they
make (kirkos) 'a kind of hawk or falcon', as that is obviously what
it is from its appearance, though its especial symbolic value makes
the Greeks doubt precisely what the Egyptians intended. It looked
like a kind of hawk or falcon but the Greeks weren't prepared to
insist on exactly what species - because it was an Egyptian, not a
On a point such as this we must 'take advice' as from a lawyer. It
is not sufficient merely to cite Liddell and Scott's lexicon. For
this subject we turn to D'Arcy Thompson's definitive source-book A
Glossary of Greek Birds* Under the entry there for kirkos we read:
'A poetic and mystical name for a
Hawk: the sacred Hawk of Apollo; in the main an astronomical,
perhaps solar, emblem. ... In Homer, the bird of Apollo . . . Od.
xv. 525. .. . The bird is not identifiable as a separate
species, and is so recognized by Scaliger and others. Neither
the brief note as to its size in a corrupt passage of the ninth
book of the History of Animals, nor the mystical references to
its alleged hostilities and attributes in Aristotle, Aelian, and
Phile, are sufficient to prove that the name indicated at any
time a certain particular species. The word is poetical . . .
The chief allusions to are obviously mystical, though the
underlying symbolism . . . is not decipherable.'
Under another entry, for Hierax,
Thompson gives some further interesting information. The word hierax
is a generic term for all hawks. It too seems to partake of
overtones of Horus, as Thompson specifically notes when he refers to
the 'Worship of Hawks in Egypt', citing Herodotus and Aelian, and
'In the Rig-Veda the sun is
frequently compared to a hawk, hovering in the air. . . . Their
heart is eaten, to obtain prophetic powers, Porph. De Abst. ii.
48.9 . . . The Hawk entered in Egypt into innumerable
hieroglyphics . . . (as) Horus and Hat-Hor, the latter being the
of Plutarch. According to Chaeremon, fr. 8 On the sanctity of
hawks in Egypt, and the solar symbolism associated with them
there, see also . . .'etc., referring to Porphyry, Plutarch,
Eusebius and Clement of Alexandria.
The scholarly reader who wishes to
pursue all this must go to Thompson directly.
Kirkos also means 'an unknown stone'. Here again we come upon the
stone motif which we encounter with Deukalion (the Greek Noah) and
elsewhere. The stones of Deukalion spring up as men - men born from
the earth just as the dead of the Colchian cemetery are meant to be
born again from the earth.
A further connection of Circe with the Sirius complex lies in the
fact10 that the island of Circe was the place where Orion met his
death. Orion as a constellation was identified (as Sah) with Osiris,
the husband of Isis, who was identified, of course, with Sirius.
The stone motif in its recurring forms seems to have had a
particular connection with the Minyae, as I discovered from that
invaluable duffle-bag of information, the ancient Greek author
Pausanius, whose Guide to Greece is a real 'experience'. The Minyan
city was traditionally that of Orchomenos in Boeotia, and it will be
recalled that all the Argonauts were Minyae and descended from
Minyas, King of Orchomenos.
All my references to Pausanius will be to Peter Levi's excellent
translation published in two volumes by Penguin in 1971 with
extensive notes and comments by that learned Jesuit translator, who
has travelled over most of the terrain described by Pausanius and
attempts a running commentary on the present state of the ruins and
sights (and sites).
In Book IX, 34, 5, we read: 'Over from Mount Laphystion is
Orchomenos, as famous and glorious as any city in Greece.' Levi's
footnotes tell us: 'No one knows which mountain this was: probably
the one above Hagios Georgios and the modern Laphystion' and:
'(Orchomenos is) at the north-west
corner of the old Kopaic Lake.'
At Orchomenos 'there are graves of
Minyas and of Hesiod' (38, 3). At Mount Laphystion near by was (34,
'the sacred enclosure of Laphystian
Zeus . . . The statue is stone. They say Athamas was about to
slaughter Phrixos and Helle here when Zeus sent the children a
ram with a golden fleece and they ran away on the ram.'
Now note what Pausanius says (38, 1)
about the Minyae of Orchomenos:
'Orchomenos has a sanctuary of
Dionysos, but the most ancient one is consecrated to the Graces.
They pay particular worship to rocks, saying they fell out of
heaven for Eteokles: finely-made statues were dedicated in my
time but even these were in stone.'
'The ruins of these sanctuaries are
on the site of the old monastery (now itself in ruins).'
Now, I believe this singular observation
on the Minyae's preoccupation with stones ties in with all the
recurring stone motifs in our material. And now we shall see a
further recurrence which ties back in another way (38, 4):
'The Orchomenians had a legend about
Aktaion. An apparition with rocks in its hand was devastating
the countryside: when Delphi was consulted the god ordered them
to find anything that was left of Aktaion and cover it with
earth, and then make a bronze image of the ghost and rivet it
with iron to a rock. I have seen this riveted statue; once a
year they burn offerings to Aktaion as a divine hero'
The public furore in 1973 over the
painting by Titian, The Death of Actaeon, will have reminded British
art lovers of the background to the myth which the famous painting
portrays. Actaeon happened to see the goddess Artemis (known to the
Romans by her Latin name of Diana) of the silver bow bathing naked.
Artemis then hunted him down, with fifty
hounds, transformed him into a stag, and killed him with her bow
(not only are hounds connected with the Dog Star, but the bow is a
familiar symbol connected also with Sirius, which was so often known
in ancient times also as the Bow Star).*
scene is portrayed in Plate 17, which shows an ancient Greek vase
painting from approximately 470 B.C. of Artemis and the hounds
Not only were the hounds of Hades who
chased Actaeon fifty in number, but Robert Graves tells us,
'Actaeon was, it seems, a sacred
king of the pre-Hellenic stag cult, torn to pieces at the end of
his reign of fifty months, namely half a Great Year . . .'11
Note the application of the number
'fifty' here to a period of time. The orbit of Sirius B around
Sirius A is fifty years; the reign of a sacred stag-king was fifty
months. We know how often in ancient traditions the numerical
quantity of time periods remains stable while their quality (as
individual durations) varies.
The classic examples are in the Bible,
where the seven days of creation refer to seven aeons, and the
'years' of life of the Hebrew patriarchs such as Methusaleh are not
correctly interpreted as solar years but as lunar months or 'lunar
years' a month long (since by late times the area of the Near East
which had by then produced the people known as Hebrews had succumbed
to a lunar calendrical craze - literally 'moonstruck' - and
everything was a lunar rather than a solar period of time to those
people in that area).
Note further the reference to a 'Great Year' of twice fifty months,
consisting of two reigns. This would be one hundred months. And it
should not surprise us to learn now that the name of the Greek
goddess Hecate literally means in Greek 'one hundred'.**
Dogon tribe often describe the 50-year orbital period of Sirius B by
saying: 'The period of the orbit is counted double, that is, one
hundred years, because . . . (of) the principle of twin-ness' (see
Chapter 1). Here we have the same custom in operation among the
Greeks, of 'twinning' their sacred durations for 50X2 =100. Hecate
('one hundred') unites them.
Perhaps something of the true meaning of the myths is now becoming
evident. The ancient peoples were not concealing information from us
out of spite. Their purpose in disguising their secrets was to see
that those secrets could survive. In fact, so successful were the
ancient Egyptians in accomplishing their purpose, that the Greeks
often preserve earlier Egyptian secrets in total ignorance of their
true meaning, retaining only through an innate conservatism certain
peculiar archaic details which we now find to be so important.
Not only are the stories mythical and
symbolical in that they are not meant to be taken at face value, but
they even involve 'characters' and 'events' which have a strictly
numerical significance. But this should have been quite obvious to
the reader since we began to study the Anunnaki. It is, admittedly,
difficult for those of us who have been brought up in our strictly
literal civilization, where there is no such thing as a hidden
meaning and everything is on the surface, to think in such a way as
to understand the ancient myths.
It was, after all, only a century ago
that supposedly intelligent people were maintaining that the Earth
was created in 4004 B.C., on the basis of what the Bible was reputed
to have said! And it is only half a century ago that the courts of
Tennessee in the famous Scopes trial decided that the theory of
evolution was not only unholy but illegal and could not be taught in
We mistakenly assume that because we
have superlative technology and science we must also be extremely
civilized and come from a subtle background of sophisticated
thinkers. But this is all a base illusion.
In fact, we are on a low rung of the ladder of evolutionary
intelligence, and in many ways (such as ethics and aspirations to
excellence) we have gone backward since those early mutants in our
paltry intellectual history on this planet, Confucius, Socrates, the
Buddha, and the others of whom every reader may substitute his own
But this book is not meant to be a sermon on the evils of a vacuous
civilization. We are meant to be examining the names of some of the
principal characters of the Argonautica, and it is best that we
pretend to ourselves that we are rational creatures and supremely
moral, and turn back to the subject again.
The name Jason means 'appeaser', which is in accordance with his
vacillating character (see Rieu's introduction to his Penguin
translation of the Argonautica for some caustic comments on
Jason.)12 'Medea' means 'cunning'. 'Aeetes' means 'mighty' or
'eagle', and he was Medea's father, the King of Colchis from whom
Jason stole the fleece.
Now we have seen that Actaeon was associated with Minyan Orchomenos,
with a rock-throwing ghost (echoes of Deukalion), with fifty hounds
of Hades, and with a reign of fifty months. The connections go even
further. From Pausanius (34, 4) we learn that on Mount Laphystion is
the place described thus: 'Higher up (from the spot where the ram
with the golden fleece leapt into the air and took off) is Fire-eyed
Hercules where the Boeotians say Hercules came up with the dog of
Now, this 'dog of Hades' is Cerberus,
who originally had fifty heads! (Later the simplification of three
heads, as for Hecate who was also of Hades, was adopted for
Cerberus, when fifty must have seemed to make no sense and was
probably too difficult to paint on vases. But of course three is
significant too. The Egyptians portrayed three goddesses in the
Sothis-boat: Sothis, Anukis, and Satis.)
Graves informs us13 that, 'Cerberus was, at first, fifty-headed,
like the spectral pack that destroyed Actaeon (see 22.1); but
afterwards three-headed, like his mistress Hecate (see 134.1).' (The
three-headed Hecate is the three Sothisgoddesses blended in one and
is an underworld counterpart, just as with the Sumerian 'Anunnaki of
What of the fleece itself? There are obvious connections of the
golden fleece and Colchis with the common golden-yellow dye which
comes from saffron (crocus sativus). The crocus with its saffron is
even today confused with 'meadow saffron' (colchicum) which takes
its name, obviously, from Colchis, which was its chief area of
The colchicum plant which somewhat
resembles the crocus in its flowering stage was terribly important
to the ancient world. It was the only known medicine against the
disease of gout (and indeed still is). It is known to have been used
to treat gout in ancient Egypt and all over the Ancient
As Colchis was the place to find
colchicum that may explain why the Egyptians first settled there!
It is probable that the crocus and ordinary saffron was present in
Colchis in abundance, along with the false or meadow saffron,
colchicum, and that the the two became as confused with each other
in ancient times as they are today. Indeed, it is only modern botany
which proclaims a difference between the two to the extent that we
no longer confuse them officially.
As real saffron produced a much valued
dye, it is not surprising that a golden fleece dyed golden yellow by
saffron dye would be said to exist in Colchis! And indeed, Medea's
famous herbal knowledge was well suited to Colchis, which produced
the only cure for one of antiquity's most dreaded diseases, a
disease which causes terrific pain and discomfort and could only be
relieved by the magic herb from the mysterious distant land of
Colchis. I.Burkill14 gives interesting information on the early
history of saffron.
He says that sun-worshippers speaking an
Aryan language spread to India from Turkey and made the saffron
crocus an object of veneration and found ways of using its colour.15
This information, given by Tackholm and Drar,16 offers a great deal
of support to my contention.
Richard Allen17 discusses Aries (the ram) and says that 'Miss
Clerke says that the (Egyptian stellar ram's) stars were called the
Fleece.' He adds that the god Zeus-Amen (Ammon)-Jupiter 'assumed the
Ram's form when all the inhabitants of Olympus fled into Egypt from
the giants led by Typhon'. And in this discussion of Aries, Allen
mentions 'some of its titles at a different date being applied to
Capella of Auriga'.
This is the sort of process we shall
encounter again and again - titles and descriptions of stars being
applied to neighbouring or similar stars as the original traditions
become confused. It is particularly evident in the application of
the description of 'heavy' or 'weight' to different stars associated
somehow with Sirius, as the original object to which this
description was meant to apply, Sirius B, was not visible and so
tradition, being conservative, kept the description and applied it
to other stars related to Sirius which could actually be seen. As
with numerical traditions like that of 'fifty', when the true
significance was forgotten, the symbol or concept was merely given a
new, impromptu explanation.
Aries was definitely identified with the golden fleece.
Allen gives much information regarding
It always was Aries with the Romans;
but Ovid called it phrixea ovis; and Columella pecus
athamantidos helles, phrixus, and portitor phrixi; others
phrixeum pecus and phrixi vector, Phrixus being the hero-son of
Athamas, who fled on the back of this Ram with his sister Helle
to Colchis. . . . On reaching his journey's end, Phrixus
sacrificed the creature and hung its fleece in the Grove of
Ares, where it was turned to gold and became the object of the
Argonauts' quest. From this came others of Aries' titles: ovis
aurea and auratus, chrysomallusy and the Low Latin Chrysovellus.
As the fleece was a solar symbol, it is
just as well that we look at the concept of Horus once again. Horus
in Egyptian is Heru. And from Wallis Budge we learrn that Heru is
'the ancient name of the Sun-god'.18 The word heru also has the
meaning of 'face'.18
But let us consider the following: Heru
(Horus) and his hawk/falcon presided over the Colchian cemetery and
gave the name to Circe (which means 'hawk/falcon') who was Medea's
aunt. The Greek sun-god Helios was said to stable his horses at
Colchis and have a magnificent palace there, from which he arose
every morning. Also Colchis was the place of residence of the solar
Now, we recall that in Egyptian the letter 'L' and the letter 'R'
are entirely interchangeable and have the same hieroglyph.
Consequently, Heru could just as reliably be Helu. If one takes Helu
and puts a Greek ending on it one gets Helios! And the same word
means the sun-god in both the Egyptian religion (early) and the
Greek religion (early). In both lands the name was eventually
superseded, in Greece by Apollo, for instance. So here we have a
further connection between the Greek tradition as centering around
Colchis and the Egyptian tradition as settled there, only this time
the evidence is linguistic.
It seems that the curious Greek word hero comes also from heru,
though a word similar to hero exists in Sanskrit, the language of
ancient India after 1200 B.C. The word in Sanskrit which has the
meaning of 'hero' is the related Vira. It is used in the
precise sense of 'hero (as opposed to a god)' in the early Rig-veda
and is thus attested at the time of the first migrations of Aryans
into India. There is no question that the two words are cognates of
each other. However, I propose for them (and we shall see more
examples of this later in the book) a common derivation: from the
The word heru is given a meaning by Wallis Budge20 almost identical
with that of hero and vira and is described as follows:
'applied to the king as the representative of the sun-god on earth'.
This is a precise meaning applying to a human being on earth who is
neither god nor daemon, but hero. Liddell and Scott make clear that
the word was not used solely for those warriors who were prominent
in battle, but was used to describe the minstrel Demodocus, the
herald Mulius, and even (in the Odyssey, 7, 44) 'the unwarlike
Phaeacian people are so called'.
In Homer 'the heroes were exalted above
the race of common men', but particularly in Pindar the poet, we
find the word used to describe a race 'between gods and men', in
precisely the sense that we should expect the word heru to survive
in another language. This Egyptian application of the word to their
Pharaohs survived almost without change in Greek and Sanskrit and
later in Latin and the later Indo-European languages.
It is interesting to note in the account of the word Helios as given
by Liddell and Scott, Homer used the term in reference to 'the
rising and setting, light and darkness, morning and evening'. In
Egypt the precise application of Horus as sun-god was in his
activity as rising and setting. He was the child who was born afresh
each morning (and to the Greeks Helios was born afresh every morning
at Colchis). Homer has thus used the fora-derived Helios in
precisely the manner which we might have expected of an Egyptian,
rather than a Greek, poet.
In Liddell and Scott we find the listing immediately after Helios of
Helio- Serapis, which is 'an Egyptian divinity'. I leave the reader
to draw his own conclusions regarding this clear use of the word
Helio to preface a description of Serapis. Serapis was the Greek
form of Asar-Hep, Hep being what is known in Greek as Apis the Bull.
Asar is, of course, Osiris. In Egyptian it was quite common for
there to be references to 'Horus-Osiris' combining Heru and Asar.
Here in Greek we find this, if we accept my thesis of the derivation
of Helio from helu or heru.
The reader is by now presumably immune to shock at the endless
'surprises' which arise in the course of this enquiry. Hence he will
no doubt be prepared to learn that if we shorten the 'E' (from eta
to epsilon) in Greek, we have the fora-derived word (which has
dropped the aspirate, probably in connection with the shortening of
the vowel) erion, which means - 'woollen fleece'!
There is a possibility that Herakles ('the glory of Hera'), the
original captain of the Argo according to Graves, and his
protectress the goddess Hera (wife to Zeus and Queen of the gods)
are derived from heru and they are known to be related to the word
Seirios which gave us Sirius and the Sanskrit svar, suryas etc. In
Sanskrit Sura means 'hero', indicating that these words may relate
also. Liddell and Scott believe this complex of words to be separate
from the Helios-complex, but their opinion is only an opinion.
Surana means 'fiery', just as Seirios can in the sense of
'scorching' (due to the supposed 'scorching' of the Dog Star, etc.)
Back to our fleece. We find that the Greek word for a woollen fleece
is related to the Egyptian word for Horus, the Greek word for sun,
etc., etc. So much for the puzzling nature of that now moot
question: Why a fleece? Back to sacred puns again, which besiege us
Let us not forget the Sumerians. Let us look again at that list of
the fifty names of Marduk.
One of them is the name Nebiru. It is
commonly taken to be the name of the planet Jupiter, but there is
confusion there, and the word is discussed in Hamlet's Mill and many
other places as one of the infuriating Sumerian words which we would
like to understand. Where did it come from? What does it mean ? Why
is it one of the fifty names ?
Immediately after this forty-ninth name, Marduk is called 'Lord of
the Lands' (its Akkadian form, which has no significance for us, is
Bel Matati; I do not know the Sumerian form, which might be of
interest to us), Then, after this supposed fiftieth name comes
another name, namely Ea-(Enki). Then Marduk is described as being of
fifty names. It seems not to make perfect sense, since he has just
been given fifty-one names.
One way in which to make it sensible is
to treat 'Lord of the Lands' (which is given in English in Speiser
and Heidel, unlike all the other names) as a synonym of Nebiru. If
we do this, then Ea is the fiftieth name and everything is all
Now, let us look at the Egyptian language once again. We find that
the word Neb is extremely common and is used in many combinations
and means 'Lord'. Without further ado, let me make clear that I
believe the Sumerian Nebiru to be derived from the Egyptian Neb-Heru.
If we treat Heru in its older Egyptian
sense as the sun, then the descriptions of Nebiru in the Babylonian
Enuma elish could read as a perfect description of Neb-Heru - 'the
Lord the sun':
'Nebiru shall hold the crossings of
heaven and earth. ... He who the midst of the Sea restlessly
crosses,/Let "Crossing" be his name, who controls its midst,'
etc., though overlaid with this, as with the traditional Horus,
is a strictly stellar element which is behind the more obvious
However, I do not wish unduly to confuse
the issue by peeling off too many layers at once. Suffice it to
recall the previously mentioned associations of Horus with the
Sirius system and note that there is a Heru-ami-Sept-t 'Horus of
Sothis' and Heru-Sept, 'Horus the Dog Star' and then to note, again
in association with Nebiru which is supposed to have been Jupiter!
that there is in Egyptian a Heru-sba-res 'Horus, star of the south,
i.e. Jupiter', and Heruup-Shet, 'the planet Jupiter'; also in the
Enuma elish Nebiru is clearly described as 'a star'.
Horus also exists as Heru-ami-u which is
'a hawk-headed crocodile with a tail terminating in a dog's head'.
The dog is related to Sirius. Heru-urshefit is a jackal form of
Horus, heru is also the name of a sceptre and of a jackal- headed
standard in the other world.
A form of Horus using the common word
Neb is Heru-Neb-urr-t, meaning 'Horus as possessor of the supreme
crown'. Another of several is Heru-Neb-pat, meaning 'Horus, lord of
men'. HeruNeb-taui is 'Horus, Lord of the Two Lands'. Recall our
synonym for Nebiru'Lord of the Lands'!
We are getting deeper and deeper into the legend of the golden
fleece, of origins of Greek and Middle Eastern ideas in Egypt, along
with key words and names, etc. All these centre round the curious
Sirius complex. What more will we uncover ? Perhaps we need a break
from all these Egyptian words.
There are many other aspects of our
subject, and it leads us ever closer to the solution of our mystery
- which is the origin of the subject.
The Sumerian god An had a daughter, Bau (representing the sound of a
dog barking, as does the ancient Egyptian word for 'dog', auau), who
was a dog-headed goddess. The Egyptian god Anubis (Anpu) was a
The Sumerian Bau, as a daughter of An, is a sister of the fifty
great gods (Anunnaki) who are also children of An. Since Bau may be
a goddess of the Dog Star Sirius, the fact that she is the sister of
'the fifty' is significant, as Sirius B has an orbital period of
The golden fleece was situated at Colchis in the Black Sea, where
Jason and his Argonauts went to seek it. Colchis was an ancient
Egyptian colony before 1200 B.C.
Herodotus emphasizes that the Egyptians originated the practice of
circumcision, which survived also among the Colchians, whom he
visited (the Hebrews acquired circumcision from the Egyptians while
in bondage). It is noteworthy that the Dogon ceremony of the Sigui,
which is connected with the Dogon Sirius-mysteries, centres largely
round rites of circumcision.
Prominent in the story of the Argo is the female character Circe
(whose name means 'falcon' or 'hawk'). Horus, son of Isis and Osiris,
was symbolized by a falcon or hawk. Circe presided over the Colchian
cemetery (which was originally Egyptian, Colchis having been an
Egyptian colony). Horus, who presided over the cemetery of Memphis
in Egypt, would have presided also over the one at Colchis while
Egyptian influence was still directly exercised. Circe is obviously
a Greek derivation of Horus.
The word kirke (Circe) in Greek, which we customarily write 'Circe'
due to our habit of changing Greek k's into Latin c's, specifically
means 'a kind of hawk or falcon' or 'an unknown bird' - just the
sort of confusion we should expect among the Greeks with regard to a
concept derived from Egyptian culture and imperfectly understood.
Actaeon, representing a sacred stag-king, was hunted down by fifty
hounds (the dog motif joined to fifty) and killed with a silver bow
(Sirius has also traditionally been known as 'the Bow Star', and in
Egypt the goddess Sirius holds a bow).
The sacred king, such as Actaeon represented, had a 'sacred reign'
of fifty months. It is arguable that 'fifty months' is a shorthand
version of 'fifty years', but we now see undeniable ancient
traditions connecting Sirius with fifty intervals of time (whether
months or years) comprising 'a reign'. And of course the orbital
period of Sirius B is fifty years comprising 'an orbit', which in
mythological parlance could quite easily be considered 'a reign'.
As is explained in Chapter Six, the fifty-month period later became
applied to the Olympic Games when they were established. It defined
the interval of time separating them - approximating four solar
years. In fact, the Olympic Games were actually separated by
alternating intervals of 49 months, then 50 months, then 49 months,
etc. This suggests even further an attempt more closely to
approximate the 49.5 years of Sirius B's orbit in 'month-code'.
For by doubling up in this way, using
the nearest two whole numbers in alternation, the exact
correspondence was obtained, for 49 plus 50 gives the same as 49.5
plus 49.5. Robert Graves has offered the only previous theory to
explain the 'fifty months' in ancient Greece, but his lunar theory
does not explain the alternation between 49 and 50, or other
mysterious aspects. It is probable that the true explanation based
on the Sirius mystery was later overlaid by a lunar tradition which
was offered as an 'explanation' to non-initiates, despite its
It was customary in ancient times also to group together two sacred
reigns of fifty months each to form a 'Great Year' of one hundred
months. (In practice, as with the Olympic Games, 99 months were
actually used, but in theory one used the round figure of 100 months
conceived of as 'two reigns'.) The name of the Greek goddess Hekate
(Hecate) literally means 'one hundred'. She was involved with the
Argo tale and specifically identified by Robert Graves with Isis,
and in other ways linked to Sirius as an 'underworld version'.
The fifty hounds of hell who pursued Actaeon have a counterpart in
Cerberus, the hound of hell who had fifty heads in the earlier
tradition. These fifty heads were later discarded in the tradition,
like Gilgamesh's original fifty companions, and Cerberus was said to
have three heads. But originally he had fifty, as Hesiod describes
This is thus yet another dog-motif
connected with fifty (Sirius being the Dog Star), and linked to
Sirius in various ways, such as through the goddess Hekate as an
underworld version of Sirius. (The fifty Sumerian Anunnaki also had
their counterparts in the underworld. Fifty in the underworld as
'death-counterparts' or shadows to fifty in heaven makes one hundred
- the very meaning of Hekate.)
The only known cure for gout (a serious ancient Egyptian complaint)
is a substance taken from the plant colchicum, named after Colchis
where it grew. This may explain a colony at Colchis. Colchicum is
also called 'meadow saffron' and resembles true saffron (which also
grows along the Black Sea coasts), which gives a golden dye, perhaps
explaining the 'golden' fleece. A golden fleece is a solar symbol.
Horus was a solar god. The letters 'L'
and 'R' are interchangeable phonetic liquids. The Egyptian form of
Horus, Hern, can become Helu and give us the Greek solar god's name
Helios. Helios was supposed to stable his horses at Colchis.
The Greek word for 'woollen fleece' is
erion, a word similar to Heru with a dropped aspirate ('h').
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Toward the Image of Tammuz and
Other Essays, Harvard, 1970.
Kramer, S. N. History Begins at
Sumer, Doubleday Anchor Book, New York, 1959, pp. 91-4.
Antiquity of the Jews, Book I,
Herodotus, trans. A. de
Selincourt, Book 2, 103.
In Pritchard, Ancient Near
Eastern Texts, p. 8.
'The Rise of Mycenaean
Civilization', Cambridge Ancient History.
Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths,
2 vols., Penguin Books, London, 1969, 170.5.
Thompson, D'Arcy Wentworth. A
Glossary of Greek Birds, Oxford, 1896.
Porphyry, On Abstinence from
Animal Food, for those who are not familiar with the
traditional abbreviations. Porphyry was an early
Neoplatonist, a student of Plotinus, who transcribed the
Enneads. Thomas Taylor translated much of what survives of
Porphyry's own writings, including On Abstinence, in Select
Works of Porphyry, London, 1823.
Graves, op. cit., 170.6.
Robert Graves takes the view
that Jason means 'healer'.
Graves, op. cit., 31.3.
The reference is to I. Burkill
(1935) but I have not been able to trace the publication
concerned and have gone to immense pains over it. Burkill
was a noted botanist. A botanical publication of his for
1936 is not the correct reference. See Note 15 for source.
Tackholm and Drar, 'Flora of
Egypt', Vol. Ill, Bulletin of the Faculty of Science, No.
30, Cairo University Faculty of Science, Cairo University
See Note 15.
Star Names, op. cit. See entry
Wallis Budge, Hieroglyphic
Vocabulary to the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead,
London, 1911. See entry for Her, p. 273.
Ibid., p. 271.
Ibid., p. 273, entry for Her.