Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fish heads?

The blogger at Take the Long Way Home did some in depth on the topic of Dagon the Fish God and the bishop's mitre! Here are some excerpts!

"Dagon the Fish God" « Take the Long Way Home  Annotated

tags: no_tag

Every site which claims to be "Christian" repeats (almost word for word) the same claims that I was familiar with. They talk about the worship of this "fish god" Dagon by the Philistines, they even claim that there is a reference to him in the Bible (when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, it was placed before a deity called Dagan, in Hebrew, and the arms and head fell off the statue leaving it’s "trunk". For some strange reason, that I have not been able to authenticate, certain Biblical translators in the 13th century said that this word for "trunk" was describing a fish body (the "Christian" sites I visited claimed there was a Hebraic similarity between these words that led them to make this translation even though it doesn’t fit the context of the passage). These sites then claim that it is this image that is resurrected in the bishop’s mitre (they might not be aware that all bishops wear this hat, not just the Pope).

Here’s the main problem with researching Dagon. There’s just not much out there! Not much is known. I couldn’t find anything, nothing at all, that described the worship of Dagon. The reason for this is that his worship died out so long ago. The very latest dates I could find for anyone worshiping Dagon was in 402 AD (and this is only if you buy the idea that the Greeks were worshiping Dagon as Marnas. And did you notice who sent the worshipers of Marnas packing? It was the Christians who destroyed the last vestiges of Marnas worship. It’s hard for me to believe they destroyed the temple, then incorporated the religion into Christianity, without any historical evidence to back it up!). Most of his followers were gone by the advent of Jesus!

The mitre is the ceremonial headdress of bishops. It was originally a cap used by officials of the Imperial Byzantine court. It’s use dates back at least to the 8th century.

In Western Europe, the mitre was first used at Rome about the middle of the 10th century, and outside Rome about the year 1000 AD. The first written mention of it is found in a Bull of Pope Leo IX in 1049. By 1150 the use had spread to bishops throughout the West.

In the West, the mitre is a tall folding cap, consisting of two similar parts rising to a peak (like the Pope wears). In the East, the mitre is based on the closed Imperial crown of the late Byzantine Empire. It is made in the shape of a bulbous crown, completely enclosed. In the Coptic tradition, bishops wear a ballin, wound around the head like a turban. Syriac bishops wear a richly embroidered hood.

As regards shape, there is such a difference between the mitre of the 11th century and that of the 20th century that it is hard to recognize the same ornamental head covering in the two. In its earliest form the mitre was a simple cap of soft material, which ended above in a point, while around the lower edge there was generally and ornamental band. Towards 1100 AD the mitre began to have a curved shape and to grow into a round cap. In many cases there appeared a depression in the upper part. In about 1125 AD these round curves had developed more into horn like points on either side of the head. This mitre transitioned into the type of mitre we most see today, which is pointed in the back and front, instead of left and right. Up until the 14th century this mitre had been more wide than tall, but from then on the mitre slowly but steadily increased in height. Another change in the 15th century was the sides were no longer made vertical, but diagonal.

Sooooo. Essentially, what I learned was, nobody (at least nobody in the historical world) knows much about Dagon. Historians can’t even decide what he was the god of, much less how he was depicted. Depending on which city you lived in, you probably worshiped him differently. His religion died out in the BC years for the most part, although it’s possible there were a few hangers on as late as 402 AD. But the mitre doesn’t appear until the mid 10th century. And then there’s the problem that the mitre itself has gone through many stages, most of which don’t look anything like the representation that the anti Catholics claim to be identical to the fish head of Dagon’s priests. And then there is the fact that an entire sect of Catholicism (the Eastern Rite Catholics) don’t wear the Western style mitre to this day. So to believe what the anti Catholics have to say you have to believe that Western Christians resurrected a long dead religion (one that they themselves helped to stamp out the last vestiges of) sometime in the 15th century (that’s when the mitre most closely resembles the one today). This would be after the Protestant Reformation, by the way. Who would believe this???

Also in the comment section of The Catholic Spitfire Grill was this delightful little ditty!

To the tune: Frosty the Snowman :

Dagon the fishgod

 was a happy little perch

 with a funny hat,

and a phillistine home

which no historian can search

Dagon the fishgod

was a scrappy little fighter

who made his name and staked his claim

on a Roman bishop's mitre

There must have been some LSD

in Mr Boetner's drink

for he saw fishgods everywhere

and said they were Catholic bling

Oh Dagon the fishgod

of the cult of mystery

has found it wise to hate and despise

all who bother with history.

And just because I can't take this seriously any more

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Tracy said...

Elena... I love it!!!!!

Sal said...

Thanks for introducing us to RNW- she's great!