Attar (Aramaic); Athtar (South Arabia); Astar (Abyssinia); Ashtar (Moab); Ashtar(t) (Canaan); Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian) is the god of the morning star in western Semitic mythology. In Canaanite legend, he attempts to usurp the throne of the dead god Baal Hadad but proves inadequate. In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. His female counterpart is the Phoenician Astarte. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.
Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as "He who is Bold in Battle". One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.
In ancient times, Arabia shared the gods of Mesopotamia, being so close to Babylon, except the genders and symbols of these deities were later swapped around. For instance, the sun god Shamash became the sun goddess Shams, and in southern Arabia Ishtar became the male storm god Athtar. The Sabeans and other southern Arabians worshipped stars and planets, chief among whom were the sun (Shams), moon (Almaqah), and Athtar, the planet Venus. As head of the Southern Arabian pantheon, Athtar was a god of the thunderstorm, dispensing natural irrigation in the form of rain. Athtar also represented fertility and water as essential to fertility. When representing water he stood not just for the act of raining itself, but rather for the useful flow of the water after the rain, in the wadi, the Arabian watercourse which is dry except in the rainy season.
In popular culture
Attar appears as the demon Ashtar in Shin Megami Tensei II.
- Jordan, Michael (2002). Encyclopedia of Gods. Kyle Cathie Limited.