Melqart

Definition

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published on 28 April 2011
Temple of Hercules-Melqart ()

Melquart was a Phoenician god and patron god of the city of Tyre. Probably his name was pronounced "Milqart" and he was also called "king of the city." He was a god who protected sailors, trade and overseas colonization. With the Phoenician colonization along Mediterranean sea, people founded Melqart temples in the new settlements, thus creating famous temples for Melqart in Gades and Lepcis Magna, among others. During the Hellenistic and Roman period, he was assimilated with Hercules and from this time on he was always was depicted with Hercules' iconography and attributes, such as the lion skin, whereas before he had no anthropomorphic appearance (he was only presented like a beryl). The French historians Michel Gras, Pierre Rouillard, and Javier Teixidor suggest that the cult of Melquart may have its roots in a deified semi-mythological king of Tyre (thus the name "king of the city") whose mythological deeds resembled those of Hercules (thus the assimilation). With Dionysos, Heracles-Melqart was a dynastic god of Alexander the Great. When Alexander went to Tyre, he wanted offer sacrifice at the temple of Melquart (which the Tyreans refused). Along with Liber Pater, he also was a dynastic god of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus.



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Timeline

  • c. 850 BCE
    First mention of Melquart on a Phoenician stela found in Aleppo, erected by the son of the king of Arma "for his lord Melqart, which he vowed to him and he heard his voice".

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