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Association between Sirius and Mercury (1)

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02 Religious and ideological symbols and iconographic motifs

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

05 Scientific knowledge and scholarly lore

Achaemenid Empire
Iranian culture

Both Sirius and Mercury were called “Arrow” in Sumerian (KAK.SI.SA) and Akkadian (šukūdu), probably because they move across the sky at a surprising speed. Sirius was associated with Ninurta, and Mercury with Nabû. The Iranian god of Sirius was Tištrya and he is frequently compared to an arrow in the Iranian texts. The Iranian god of Mercury was Tīr, Tīrī or rather Tīriya, who was an Iranian divinity of probably western origin. Like the Mesopotamian Nabû, he was associated with the planet Mercury and became the patron of writing. Like Ninurta and Nabû earlier in Mesopotamia, the gods Tīr and Tištrya were also brought together by a sort of syncretistic trend that appears to have begun in the Achaemenid period, and in the Middle Persian texts the two Iranian gods were associated or even identified. The syncretistic trend which brought together Tīr and Tištrya was based on a Mesopotamian system of structural interconnections, and resulted in the correspondencies Mercury-Tīr-Nabȗ and Tištrya-Sirius-Ninurta. This process was catalyzed by the astral interpretation of the Adonis-Tammuz fertility cycle, which was also interpreted in terms of royal succession. In the fourth month, according to Astrolabe B, Tammuz was bound to the netherworld, which immediately precedes the rising of Sirius (= Ninurta) in the fifth month. The cycle of the dying king (Tammuz) and the living king (Ninurta) was thus seen in the sky.


Annus 2002, 138Annus, Amar. The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia. State Archives of Assyria Studies 14. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Coprus Project 2002.
Panaino 1995, 50-51, 76Panaino, Antonio. Tistrya. Part 2: The Iranian Myth of the Star Sirius. Serie Orientale Roma 68.2. Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente 1995.

Amar Annus
Andrea Piras

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