Eshmun (or Eshmoun, less accurately Esmun or Esmoun) was a Phoenician god of healing and the tutelary god of Sidon.

This god was known at least from the Iron Age period at Sidon and was worshipped also in Tyre, Beirut, Cyprus, Sardinia, and in Carthage where the site of Eshmun's temple is now occupied by the chapel of Saint Louis.

According to Sanchuniathon, Sydyk 'Just', first fathered seven sons equated with the Greek Cabeiri or Dioscuri, no mother named, and then afterwards fathered an eighth son by one of the seven Titanides or Artemides. (See Kotharat). The name "Eshmun" appears to mean 'the Eighth'.

The Neo-Platonist Damascius also stated ("Vita Isidori" 302):

The Asclepius in Beirut is neither a Greek nor an Egyptian, but some native Phoenician divinity. For to Sadyk were born children who are interpreted as Dioscuri and Cabeiri; and in addition to these was born an eighth son, Esmunus, who is interpreted as Asclepius.

Photius ("Bibliotheca" Codex 242) summarizes Damascius as saying further that Asclepius of Beirut was a youth who was fond of hunting. He was seen by the goddess Astronoë (thought by many scholars to be a version of ‘Ashtart) who so harassed him with amorous pursuit that in desperation he castrated himself and died. Astronoë then named the youth "Paeon" 'Healer', restored him to life from the warmth of her body, and changed him into a god. A village near Beirut named Qabr Shmoun, "Eshmoun's grave," still exists.

A trilingual inscription of the 2nd century BCE from Sardinia ("KAI." 66) also identifies Eshmun with the Greek Asclepius and the Latin Aesculapius.

Pausanias (7.23.7–8) quotes a Sidonian as saying that the Phoenicians claim Apollo as the father of Asclepius, as do the Greeks, but unlike them do not make his mother a mortal woman. The Sidonian then continued with an allegory which explained that Apollo represented the sun, whose changing path imparts to the air its healthiness which is to be understood as Asclepius. This allegory seems likely a late invention. Also Apollo is usually equated with the Phoenician plague god Resheph. This might be a variant version of Eshmun's parentage, or Apollo might also be equated with Sadyk, Sadyk might be equated with Resheph.

The name "Astresmunim", "herb of Eshmun." was applied by Dioscorides (4.71) to the "solanum", which was regarded as having medicinal qualities.

The temple to Eshmun is found 1 km from Sidon on the Bostrenus River, the modern River Awwali. Building was begun at the end of the 6th century BCE during the reign of Eshmunazar II, and later additions were made up into the Roman period. It was excavated by Maurice Dunand in 1963-1978. Many votive offerings were found in the form of statues of persons healed by the god, especially babies and young children.

Also found near the Sidon temple was a gold plaque of Eshmun and the goddess Hygeia, "Health," showing Eshmun holding a staff in his right hand around which a serpent is entwined. A coin of the 3rd century CE from Beirut shows Eshmun standing between two serpents.

Bterram, a village in Lebanon, possesses a very old underground temple called Eshmunit, comprising eight rooms (one large and seven small), carved into the bedrock and accessible by stairs. It is thought this may be a temple to a spouse of Eshmun.

External links

* Temple of Eshmun near Sidon
** [ Lebmania: Eshmoun]
** [ Atlas Tours: Lebanon: Eshmun]
** [ Ikama: Eshmoun]
* [ Bterram: Eshmunit] (On the temple of Eshmunit in Bterram.)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Eshmun —    God of healing in Phoenicia. He is equated by some classical authors with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine …   Who’s Who in non-classical mythology

  • Templo de Eshmún — Para el templo púnico de Cartago, Túnez, véase Templo de Eshmún (Cartago). Templo de Eshmún (معبد اشمون) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Templo de Eshmún (Cartago) — Para el yacimiento arqueóligico en Sidón, Líbano, véase Templo de Eshmún. Volumetría aproximada del Templo de Eshmún, en torno al siglo III a. C. El Templo de Eshmún, ubicado en la colina de Birsa (o Byrsa), fue la construcción más destacada de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Religion in Carthage — See also Religions of the Ancient Near East The foundation of Carthage at the end of the ninth century B.C. encouraged the more permanent establishment in the Western Mediterranean of members of the Phoenician pantheon. No longer did merchants… …   Wikipedia

  • Sidon — Infobox Settlement official name = Sidon other name = native name = صيدا nickname = settlement type = motto = imagesize = 300px image caption = View of the new city the Sea Castle. Part of the Sea Castle in front. flag size = image seal size =… …   Wikipedia

  • Melqart — Religions of the Ancient Near East Levantine deities …   Wikipedia

  • History of ancient Tunisia — The present day Republic of Tunisia, al Jumhuriyyah at Tunisiyyah , has over ten million citizens, almost all of Arab Berber descent. The Mediterranean Sea is to the north and east, Libya to the southeast, and Algeria to the west. Tunis is the… …   Wikipedia

  • Phoenicia — (. [cite book | last = Casson | first = Lionel | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World | publisher = The Johns Hopkins University Press | date = December 1 1995 | location = | pages = 57 58 | url =… …   Wikipedia

  • Dagon — For other uses, see Dagon (disambiguation). Religions of the Ancient Near East …   Wikipedia

  • Atargatis — For the metal band, see Atargatis (band). For the god in Robert E. Howard s Conan series, see Derketo (Conan) Atergatis redirects here. For the crab genus, see Atergatis (crab). Fertile Crescent myth series …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”