Many goddesses are associated with pigs, mostly because of their fertility. For example, the pig was sacred to Isis, and the Greeks sacrificed pigs to Demeter, and also in sacrificial rituals at certain Attic festivals. But I don't recall pigs being associated in myths with the Canaanite goddesses, such as Asherah, Anat, or Astarte. (I'm checking this in connection with the Israelite prohibition on eating pork.) Does anyone know of Canaanite myths or legends in which pigs are associated with their goddesses?

  • My time for formal answer is void to nit. But... Surely Astarte (of the A-team) was !!! There is a book by Porphyry treating the subject of food abstinence. You can surely find something there. amazon.fr/Porphyry-Abstinence-Animal-Food-Wynne-Tyson/dp/… Not a book on myth but pretty sure he is treating with food practice and noticed the fact porks is not consumed in the Phoenician area. For my remembrance, there is a huge interdiction of pigs in that part, not especially linked to the A-team. I am sure of Cybele. – Gibet Oct 10 at 13:57
  • Thanks, Gibet. Yes, I remember iconography/artifacts of Astarte with a pig or pigs. For the benefit of others, my question regarding the A-team (I like your terminology!) and other Canaanite goddesses is more about the myths themselves. – Arthur George Oct 11 at 6:06

For the most part there is no association between Canaanite gods and pigs. Canaanites, like Israelites, didn't eat pigs, which weren't indigenous to the land. In fact, archaeologists often take pig bones as a sign that a settlement was Philistine (see for example this paper). So pigs don't make many appearances in Canaanite myth either.

However, there is one myth that might give a kind of link. In the Greek myth of Adonis, Adonis was a lover of Aphrodite who was killed by a wild boar, culminating with Aphrodite's mourning over him.

This myth is thought to have come from Phoenicia (his name comes from the Canaanite word * ʼadōn, master). I don't believe there is any extant retelling of the Canaanite myth, but Lucian's The Syrian Goddess has a description of the rites of Adonis performed at Byblos in Phoenicia. Here is part of the description most relevant to the myth:

They assert that the legend about Adonis and the wild boar is true, and that the facts occurred in their country, and in memory of this calamity they beat their breasts and wail every year, and perform their secret ritual amid signs of mourning through the whole countryside. When they have finished their mourning and wailing, they sacrifice in the first place to Adonis, as to one who has departed this life: after this they allege that he is alive again, and exhibit his effigy to the sky.

This is said to have taken place in a temple sacred to the Byblian Aphrodite (Astarte, the Ashtoreth of the Bible). So it seems there was a Canaanite story in which a boar kills Astarte's lover, Adonis.

The 'don't eat pig meat' thing was introduced in their culture as a tabu as a consequence of the illnesses provoked by consumption of pigs meat raised in improper conditions, improper meat preparation and improper handling and storage(it was very hot and in max. two hours from sacrificing a pig bad germs start developing). There is why the consumption was forbidden and this idea was incapsulated in myths and especial in religious beliefs.

  • Thanks. I'm aware of the health/sanitation issues, but my question was where were pigs contained in the myths about the Canaanite goddesses, regardless of whether pigs are being portrayed positively or negatively. – Arthur George Oct 17 at 5:53

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