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The Assyrian king Picus Zeus (1)

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12 Assyrian Identity

05 Scientific knowledge and scholarly lore

Picus Zeus
6th century CE
Byzantine Empire
Byzantine philosophers and scholars

Malalas, Chronicle 1.10, 1.13:
After (the son of Kronos) Picus Zeus had reigned over Assyria for four years, he too left his mother and Hera, his sister and his wife, and making his son Belus emperor of Assyria, went off to the West to his father Kronos. Belus reigned over the Assyrians for eight years and he died, whereupon the Persians deified him. When Kronos saw his son Picus Zeus had come to him in the West, he yielded to him rule over the West. For Kronos was weak and had become feeble; Picus Zeus reigned over the West, that is, Italy, for another 62 years. After Belus, Ninus, Kronos’ other son, ruled Assyria. He had taken his mother Semiramis as his wife; from him the Persians derive the custom of marrying their mothers and sisters, because Picus too took his own sister Hera to wife; as the most learned Homer states it, “He addressed Hera, his sister and wife” (Iliad 16.431-432, 18.356). Kronos died. … Ninus’ brother, Picus Zeus, continued to reign over Italy. At that time there was no city or administration in the West but all that land was simply inhabited by the members of the tribe of Japheth, son of Noah, who had migrated there. Picus Zeus lived 130 years, controlling the West and reigning over it. He had many sons and daughters by beautiful women, for he used to beguile them. For he had mystic knowledge and used to put on displays and astonish the women, who regarded him as a god and were seduced by him since he showed them displays by mechanical means. Picus Zeus had a son named Faunus, whom he also called Hermes after the planet. When on the point of death Picus Zeus ordered his body to be laid to rest in burial on the island of Crete. His children built a shrine in his honour and laid him in a tomb on the island of Crete. This tomb which was in Crete, survives till the present with an inscription, “Here lies Picus Zeus, whom they also call Dia”. Diodorus Siculus, the most learned chronicler, has written about this and in the narrative of his treatise on gods, said that Zeus, the son of Kronos, lies in Crete.

Sources (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Homer, Iliad 16.431-432
Homer, Iliad 18.356
Malalas, Chronicle 1.10
Malalas, Chronicle 1.13


Jeffreys, Jeffreys and Scott 1986, 7, 8Jeffreys, E., M. Jeffreys and R. Scott. The Chronicle of John Malalas. A Translation. Byzantina Australiensia 4. Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies 1986.

Amar Annus

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