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N.S. Gill

Myth Monday - The Story of Anat and Aqhat

By December 24, 2012

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The fragmentary Canaanite story of Anat and Aqhat tells of a hunter goddess and mistress of animals (potnia theron) thwarted by a miraculously-born, mortal hero. Like another virgin hunter, Artemis, Anat is a dangerous adversary.

While still a youth, the hero Aqhat's aged father (Daniel) entertained Kothar-wa-Hasis, the Divine Craftsman, the West Semitic equivalent of Hephaestus/Vulcan. In thanks, Kothar gave the youth a wonderful golden or composite hunting bow. Anat wanted the bow and tried to persuade Anat to give it to her. She offered wealth, sexual favors and even immortality, but in response, Aqhat only made a snide comment about her gender and called her a trickster who wouldn't deliver on her offer of eternal life.

Anat, angry, wanted revenge, so she badgered El, the Zeus-like arbiter god, for permission. When it was granted, Anat asked Yatpan, the Drunken Soldier, to help her out.

The next step in her revenge plan: Anat persuaded Aqhat to go with her to Yatpan's hometown, Abelim, which was ruled by the moon god, Yarikh. She then transformed Yatpan into a Near Eastern hunter's tool -- a bird of prey -- who attacked and killed Aqhat just as if he were the hunter goddess' quarry.

Back in human form, Yatpan entertained Aqhat's sister, Paghat, whom he thought was really Anat, at his home. When Yatpan was thoroughly inebriated, Paghat killed him. A new Aqhat was reborn.

For more of the details, including the areas where the story had to be extrapolated because of lacunae, see:

  • "Who Killed Cock Robin in the Tale of Aqhat the Youth?," by Omega Means Starr; Folklore, Vol. 87, No. 1 (1976), pp. 38-49.
  • "Anat: Ugarit's 'Mistress of Animals'," by Peggy L. Day; Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Jul., 1992), pp. 181-190.
  • "The North-Canaanite Myth of Anath and Aqhat, II," by H. L. Ginsberg; Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 98 (Apr., 1945), pp. 15-23.
Read More:

This is a repeat from December 2010.

Previous 2012 Myth Mondays:

  1. Hercules Hurls His Guest
  2. Scylla
  3. Olympics Origins II: Myrtilos
  4. Hercules the Giant-Killer
  5. The First Tyrant
  6. The King and the Harpies
  7. The Dawn Goddess Loves a Mortal
  8. Vediovis
  9. Even a Boar Wishes to Kiss Adonis
  10. Hero and Leander
  11. Who Were the Argonauts?
  12. The Chimera
  13. Narcissus and Echo
  14. How Perseus Fits In
  15. Hesiod and the Bestiary
  16. The First Olympics Origins I
  17. Dionysus and the Return of Hephaestus
  18. Zeus, the Recent Victor of the Titanomachy, Wins Once More in Hesiod's 'Theogony'
  19. Atlas, the Titan Who Didn't Shrug
  20. Troilus and ... Polyxena
  21. Who Is the Virgo?
  22. Pandora's Box
  23. Achilles and His Heel
  24. Hercules and His Labors
  25. The First Humans
  26. The Death of Pentheus
  27. Greek Ghosts
  28. One More Underworld God
  29. A Norse God of Winter
  30. "Why Is Gold Called Sif's Hair?"
  31. How Much Do You Know About Athena?
  32. How Much Do You Know About Artemis?
  33. Zeus vs Kronos
  34. Requests - Osiris
  35. Janus Looks to the New Year


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