Melqart, a Phoenician (Turkey) Heroic tutelary god, was worshipped from around 1200 BC to 200 BC; his name is synonymous with Milk-qart and his cult center was Tyre. The god’s youthful appearance frequently associated him with the sea. He was known mainly in Tyre where he was regarded as the consort of Astarte and probably constituted part of a trio of major deities including Baal Samin and Astarte. He may have been depicted on coinage riding a sea horse. His cult spread extensively through Egypt, Carthage, Cyprus, and so on. Melqart was equated with Esmun, and the tutelary god Sidon. In the Hebrew tradition he was known as the ruler of the underworld, which was probably based upon the Sumerian/Akkadian Nergal. During Hellenic times he becomes defined more as a sun god, but is largely syncretized with Hercules. The pillars in the sanctuary at Gadeira/Cadiz were renamed by the Romans the Pillars of Hercules. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 162