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The lying-in-state of Adonis (1)

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03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

3rd century BCE
Hellenistic Empires
Neo-Assyrian Empire
Neo-Assyrian texts
Papyri from Egypt

The Assyrian word taklimtu derives from the verb kullumu (“to show”) and is the normal term for the lying-in-state of a dead body at a funeral. The word is used in describing royal funerals of Assyria. What is more: taklimtu is also the “display” of the body of the god Tammuz when he is being bewailed, certainly one of the most important events during the mourning of the death of this god. The general name for this ritual as celebrated in the Assyrian cities Assur, Nineveh, Calah and Arbela was taklimtu.

A Greek papyrus from Egypt lists expenditures for an Adonis festival. Line 27 offers the entry “for the deiktérion”, almost a hapax legomenon in earlier Greek. In connection with deipnéterion (“dining room”), it has been interpreted as referring to a room or hall where participants of the “Adonis mysteries” met. However, it is far more logical to connect it to deiknumi (“to show”). In this way, linking this word from the Adonis festival with the Assyrian taklimtu from the Tammuz rituals is an obvious step, since both mean “display” and appear in the same context as part of related rituals. Thus the Greek term can be explained as a semitic loan, a calque.

Source (list of abbreviations)
P.Petrie 3.142


Stol 1988Stol, M. “Greek ΔΕΙΚΤΗΡΙΟΝ. The Lying-in-State of Adonis.” In: J. H. Kamstra, H. Milde and K. Wagtendonk (eds.). Funerary Symbols and Religion. Essays dedicated to Professor M. S. H. G. Heerma van Vosson on the Occasion of his Retirement from the Chair of the History of Ancient Religions at the University of Amsterdam. Kampen: J. H. Kok 1988, 127-128.

Marten Stol

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