11.The primordial twins


A prehistoric wall painting from Tell Munbaqa, Syria,[1] shows the primordial twins as two pillar-like creatures judging from the sophisticated design of their heads: the nose has become a high peak running up to the top of the scull, and the eyes are filling out and dominating the entire face; they are visionaries, and they are world-columns. The castores as the personified twin-peaks is also a common theme in the cult of Juppiter Dolichenus where Dolichenus is a location in Northern Syria. Azizos and Monimos, the divine brothers of Edessa, could also be seen as the followers of Melqart; at least in the novel  Wonderful things beyond Thule the narrator of the novel is followed by 3 helpers “on his wanderings in quest for information”: Carmanes, Meniskos and Azulis. Meniskos and Azulis are the followers of the sun, the morning and evening star, Ázizu and Munim. Carmanes is “the man from the land of the sunrise”, Carmania. Like Cadmos (“east”) and Mithras named after the eastern god Mithra. He is probably a synonym for Melqart. He travels with Meniskos to the island of the moon, and from here, by the intervention of the Sibyl, he is transported on the wings of sleep across the universe, and wakes up in the temple of Melqart in Tyre just as the two young main characters of the novel (brother and sister) are returning to Tyre to bring “revival and salvation to their parents”, who have been put to sleep by a magic deadly drowsiness brought upon them by the Egyptian wizard Paapis. This has all to be understood on the background of the famous Tyrian rite of the “Arousal of Melqart”. On his travel through the eternal night to the island of the moon, Melqart is only accompanied by Meniskos, the evening star – very logical, as the sun is only followed by the evening star as it steps over the threshold of night. The morning star goes in front of the daylight, breaking the way for it: it was Azulis who found the words which could break the spell of the deadly sleep which had fallen upon the parents.

The main female character is Dercyllis. It is underlined that she “roamed about” (eplanêthe). She is the goddess Derceto-Europa travelling over the western Sea, and by Zeus given into the custody of Asterios, king of Crete, cf. the helper of Dercyllis called Astraios. That Astraios is the highgod, the high heaven of the night, is seen from his pupils which changed with the phases of the moon, cf. the custodian of Jo Argos with 1000 eyes = the stars. Dercyllis becomes the mistress of the narrator.

After killing animals and taking their hides as a clothing, after the fight with his brother, and after the great flood, Usoos sailed out on a log. In the mysteries of the Cabiri on Samothrace the myth tells that Iasion was killed by the lightening of Zeus, and there was a great flood, but his brother Dardanos sailed out, dressed in a wine-bag made of an animal’s skin. As Usoos is the founder of East-Tyre/Usu, so Dardanos is the founder of the town of Dardania, and as Usoos and his brother are living in a time of promiscuous women, so is the reason for Iasion being killed by Zeus and the world being flooded, the fact that Demeter offered him, a mortal man, her love.

To Philo of Byblos, who brings the story of Usoos and his brother Hypsuranios they are a small part of a whole chain of inventive pairs of brothers, and these inventors are among the Phoenicians called the “Great Gods” because they invented things useful for mankind. Now the Semitic word for “Great” is kabir, and it is very likely that this is the reason for the gods of Samothrace being called Cabiri. Cain means “smith”, and he is the founder of the first city, while Abel is a shepherd. In the tradition by Philo “man of nature” contra city-founder and metal-worker is mostly the key to the long row of inventive brothers.

First by Philo is


I: “Hunter (and fisherman)” – his brother invented “bricks for the making of walls”

II: Inventor of “courts, pens and caves” – his b. “improved, sun-dried bricks and roofs”

    (for detaining captured animals!)            

III: Inventor of herds of tamed animals – his brother invented “villages”.


But the very first step in this chain is Usoos inventing clothes made from the skin of animals – Hyps. “huts of reeds & papyrus”.

Last step in the relationship to the animals is the invention of salt for the preparation of their flesh (made by Misor and Sydyk).

Alcinoos had a brother, Locros. They quarrelled, Locros sailed to Italy, but was killed by Heracles, who founded a city and gave it the name of Locros, Conon ap. Photios 134a.

Olynthos was killed by a lion during a hunt. His brother mourned for him, and founded a city, giving it the name of Olynthos, ibd.

Also the Ugarit-text “The Graceful Gods, Shahar and Shalim” calls this Dioscuric pair of brothers “the first to found a city in the desert”, and “cleavers of the sea”.

It seems as if both the classical and the Phoenician tradition are working with the same elements as Gen 1-11: the first city founded by the primeval brothers seen as a pair of contrasts. One killing the other. And heavily mixed with that the tradition of the sons of gods (Gen 6,1ff.) being struck by the great flood, but one of them (or both) surviving in an ark. On the island of Thassos were ruins of great Phoenician mines, and the society of the Thassians was said to be founded by Thassos, who landed on the island in an ark or coffin.

The things Philo has to tell about El Cronos in Byblos (I,10,20) are also variations on the themes found in Gen 1-11:


I: “After that … Cronos founded the first city…” cf. Gen 4,17.

II: “After that … he threw his own brother down and buried him in the depth of the earth…” cf. Gen 4,11.

III: ”At the same time, those who were descendants from the Dioscuri constructed rafts and ships and sailed … and after being cast ashore at Mt.Cassios, they consecrated a temple there…” Gen 8,20.

IV: “The allied of El Cronos were now called Eloim” Gen 6,1-4.


There is still, among the shepherd-tribes of East Africa, an initiation of the young men after they have lived for 7 years among the cattle in the bush. Every seven years there is a great feast for the young men returning to society, their leader gets the rank of chief, and they are now free to marry and have a family. In the period they are living in the mountains taking care of the cattle they wear a special hairdo, very similar to the hairdo of the Curoi-statues so well known from Early Greek art.

As a matter of fact, Apollo must be seen as the god of the young Curoi, the god for the initiation of the young men of the “unshorn lock”[2]. After murdering the dragon both Apollo and Cadmos have to flee and serve 8 years as shepherds in the wilderness. In the Ugarit texts it is said to the two brothers “In the holy desert you have to roam… 7, yea 8 years”. The two holy brothers were especially seen as the gods of the Arabs, they were gods for those living in the wilderness. They are gods for the young men returning to the village after their stay in the mountains. In Germanic religion the society of the young warriors was identified with the hoard of demons when on certain feast days, they “sacked” the village [3]( In the Ugarit text the young men coming from the wilderness, where they have stayed for seven years, are described as having the appetite of demons, and they are begging food and vine from the villager, the “Guardian of the Sown Land” (just like children dressed as demons at Halloween). They are wild men that have to be reintegrated into civilisation.

The Anthropologist W.Koppers[4] has developed the theory that petrified remnants of very old religion can be found on the outskirts of the inhabited earth, and has therefore made important investigations into the initiations practised by a tribe at the southern tip of South America. It was a cultural initiation, not an initiation into everlasting life, and centred round the myth of the two primeval brothers, described as opposite natures: one was stupid, and one was smart. From the facts collected above we have seen that in the Middle East the two brothers are also closely connected to the moving of mankind from a primitive to a more advanced state. Also the famous mysteries of Eleusis were centered around the brothers Demophon (who is killed) and Triptolemos, who, like Cain, travels through all the world to teach mankind the art of agriculture. Cain is the founder of the first city, and has a son by name Hanok = “initiated”.

The Syrian cavalier god (see below) is often split up into two: the morning and evening star = the primordial twins – or they can be the world mountain, the highgod himself split up into two. With the highgod or the sun hero they form a holy trinity. The twin brothers are found everywhere in Syrian iconography, and even in the early Christian “Acts of Thomas”: “Holy pigeon, who gives birth to the young twins” (ch.50). The twins are here the apostle Thomas, who, like the cavalier god, travels to the land of the sun, India - not on horseback, but by catching 4 wild donkeys and making them pull the holy quadriga, the chariot of the sun. Cf the Tyrian coin showing Melqart catching four stags able to run on the surface of the sea under the guidance of the morning star (Brit.Mus.Coins, Phoenicia, pl. XXXIII,5; XLIV,6). Thomas´s heavenly twin is Jesus. The Acts of Thomas is probably from Edessa, where the cult of the divine twins played a major role. Thomas is also described as the typical bringer of culture: he is able to make ploughs, yokes, oars and masts for ships and build palaces and temples.

[1] The Tell Es-Sweyhat Annual report, http://www.oi.uchicago.edu/OI/AR/93-94/93-94_Sweyhat_fig5.html

[2] W.Burkert, “Apellai und Apollon”, Rheinische Museum 118, 1975, pp.1-12.

[3] O.Huth, "Der Durchzug des wilden Heeres", ARW 32,1935,p.199.

[4] "On the Origin of the Mysteries", in: The Mystic Vision ed. J.Campbell, 1968.