This talk is devoted to a particular form of ancient pagan goddess, one who is at the same time associated with love and sex, and with warfare. Though this may seem like a paradoxical linkage, it was actually quite a common one in the pre-Christian European and Near Eastern world, combining two different types of dramatic and often ecstatic human activity, associated with potent bodily fluids. Moreover, some of the most important of these goddesses actually influenced, and helped engender, the others, and the talk considers these in particular, in a divine chain reaction, stretching across the ancient world: the Sumerian Inanna, the Babylonian and Assyrian Ishtar, the Syrian Astarte, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus. It considers the development of each one, which can be traced through history, the particular and distinctive forms which each attained, and the powerful influence which they exerted on each other, spanning the most important and pervasive ancient cultures.

Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.

Here are some of his other talks you might be interested in

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