Herodotus on the temple of Melqart

Tyre (Phoenician רצ, ṣūr, "rock"; Greek Τύρος; Latin Tyrus): port in Phoenicia and one of the main cities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus visited Tyre in the mid-fifth century BCE. In Histories 2.44, he offers a description of the sanctuary of Melqart, whom he calls Heracles, because the Greeks believed these two deities were identical.

Herodotus on the temple of Melqart

[2.44] Because I wanted to know more about it, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, because I had been told that in that place there was a holy temple of Heracles. The sanctuary was richly furnished, there were many votive offerings, and I noticed two pillars: one of pure gold and one of an emerald stone of such size as to shine by night.

I interviewed the priests of the god, and asked them how long ago their temple had been built, and I discovered that they were at variance with the Greeks, because they said that the temple had been built when Tyre had beend founded, and that this happened 2,300 years ago.

This page was created in 2012; last modified on 10 July 2020.