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Herodotus’ description of Babylon (2)

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01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

02 Religious and ideological symbols and iconographic motifs

tower of Babylon
5th century BCE
Greek Archaic Age
Greek philosophers and scholars

Herodotus 1.181-182:
In the midmost of one division of the city stands the royal palace, surrounded by a high and strong wall; and in the midmost of the other is still to this day the sacred enclosure of Zeus Belus, a square of two furlongs each way, with gates of bronze. In the centre of this enclosure a solid tower has been built, of one furlong’s length and breadth; a second tower rises from this, and from it yet another, till at last there are eight. The way up to them mounts spirally outside all the towers; about halfway in the ascent is a halting place, with seats for repose, where those who ascend sit down and rest. In the last tower there is a great shrine; and in it a great and well-covered couch is laid, and a golden table set hard by. But no image has been set up in the shrine, nor does any human creature lie therein for the night, except one native woman, chosen from all women by the god, as say the Chaldeans, who are priests of this god. The same Chaldeans say, that the god himself is wont to visit the shrine and rest upon the couch, even as in Thebes of Egypt … for there too a woman sleeps in the temple of Theban Zeus and neither the Egyptian nor the Babylonian woman, it is said, has intercourse with men.

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Herodotus 1.181-182

Godley 1960, I 224-227Godley, A. D. Herodotus. 4 Vols. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, London: Heinemann 1960.

Links (external links will open in a new browser window)
Cf. Assyrians (= Babylonians) in the Persian army (1)
Cf. Babylonia = Assyria (2)
Cf. Babylonia = Assyria (3)
Cf. A custom relating to healing (1)
Cf. Herodotus on the Babylonian burial customs (1)
Cf. Herodotus on the Babylonian cult of Ištar (1)
Cf. Herodotus on the Babylonian customs (1)
Cf. Herodotus on a Babylonian marriage custom (1)
Cf. Herodotus on the Babylonian population (1)
Cf. Herodotus’ description of Babylon (1)
Cf. Herodotus quoted a Babylonian omen (1)
Cf. Herodotus on the walling of Babylon (1)
Cf. The temple of Bel in Babylon (1)
Cf. The two queens of Babylon (1)

Amar Annus

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