Belus (Egyptian)

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In Greek mythology, Belus (Ancient Greek: Βῆλος Bē̂los) was a king of Egypt and father of Aegyptus and Danaus and (usually) brother to Agenor. [1] The wife of Belus has been named as Achiroe, or Side (eponym of the Phoenician city of Sidon).[ citation needed ]


Diodorus Siculus [2] claims that Belus founded a colony on the river Euphrates, and appointed the priests-astrologers whom the Babylonians call Chaldeans who like the priests of Egypt are exempt from taxation and other service to the state.


Belus was the son of Poseidon and Libya. He may also be Busiris, son of Libya, ruler of Egypt, killed by Heracles,[ citation needed ] although Heracles was born many generations after Belus since he was a grandchild of Perseus; see Argive genealogy below. According to Pausanias, Belus founded a temple of Heracles in Babylon. [3]

The Bibliotheca also claims that Agenor was Belus' twin brother. [4] Belus ruled in Egypt, and Agenor ruled over Sidon and Tyre in Phoenicia. The wife of Belus has been named as Achiroe, allegedly daughter of the river-god Nilus. [5] Her sons Aegyptus and Danaus were twins. Later Aegyptus ruled over Egypt and Arabia, and Danaus ruled over Libya. Pseudo-Apollodorus says that it was Euripides who added Cepheus and Phineus as additional sons of Belus.

In the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women , Belus was also the father of a daughter named Thronia on whom Hermaon, that is Hermes, fathered Arabus, presumably the eponym of Arabia. [6]

According to Pherecydes of Athens, Belus also had a daughter named Damno who married Agenor (Belus' brother, her uncle) and bore to him Phoenix and two daughters named Isaie, and Melia, these becoming wives respectively to sons of Belus (their cousins) Aegyptus and Danaus. [7] Yet another source says that the daughter of Belus who married Agenor was named Antiope. [8] [9]

Some sources make Belus the father of Lamia [10] while Antoninus mentions him as the father of Thias (father of Smyrna) by the nymph Orithyia. [11]

Nonnus [12] makes Belus the father of five sons, namely Phineus, Phoenix, Agenor (identified as the father of Cadmus), Aegyptus, and Danaus, though Nonnus elsewhere [13] makes Phineus to be Cadmus' brother. Nonnus has Cadmus identify Belus as "the Libyan Zeus" and refer to the "new voice of Zeus Asbystes", meaning the oracle of Zeus Ammon at Asbystes.

Comparative table of Belus' family
ParentsPoseidon and Libya

Belus and Bel Marduk

Pausanias wrote:

"<Ruler> Manticlus founded the temple of Heracles for the Messenians; the temple of the god is outside the walls and he is called Heracles Manticlus, just as Ammon in Libya and Belus in Babylon are named, the latter from an Egyptian, Belus the son of Libya, Ammon from the shepherd-founder. Thus the exiled Messenians reached the end of their wanderings." [3]

This supposed connection between Belus of Egypt and Zeus Belus (the god Marduk) is likely to be more learned speculation than genuine tradition. Pausanias seems to know nothing of supposed connection between Belus son of Libya and Zeus Ammon that Nonnus will later put forth as presented just above.

Belus and Ba‘al

Modern writers suppose a possible connection between Belus and one or another god who bore the common northwest Semitic title Ba‘al.[ citation needed ] According to some sources Belus was the son of Poseidon by Libya, he is associated with Babylon and Assyria, and his name is an echo of the Canaanite god Baal (Redfield, 1989, pp. 28 & 30-31), which are linguistically synonymous with Enlil and Marduk , and also in ancient Levantine/Canaanite mythology, a fertility god, whose attributes are lightning, rainstorms and the forces of nature.

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Inachus Melia
Zeus Io Phoroneus
Epaphus Memphis
Libya Poseidon
Belus Achiroë Agenor Telephassa
Danaus Pieria Aegyptus Cadmus Cilix Europa Phoenix
Mantineus Hypermnestra Lynceus Harmonia Zeus
Sparta Lacedaemon Ocalea Abas Agave Sarpedon Rhadamanthus
Eurydice Acrisius Ino Minos
Zeus Danaë Semele Zeus
Perseus Dionysus
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  1. Apollodorus, The Library, 2.1.4
  2. Diodorus Siculus, 1.27.28.
  3. 1 2 Pausanias, Description of Greece, 4.23.10.
  4. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca
  5. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.4.
  6. Hesiod, Ehoiai fr. 137 as cited in Strabo, Geographica 1.2.34
  7. Gantz, p. 208; Pherecydes fr. 21 Fowler 2001, p. 289 = FGrHist 3 F 21 = Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius,  Argonautica 3.1177-87f.
  8. Scholia on Euripides, Phoenician Women 5
  9. Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.19
  10. Diodorus Siculus. Историческая библиотека XX 41, 3-6, схолии к Аристофану. Осы 1035, Мир 758 // Комм. 37 к Гераклиту-аллегористу
  11. Antoninus Liberalis. Metamorphoses, 34.
  12. Nonnus. Dionysiaca, 3.287f.
  13. Nonnus. Dionysiaca, 2.686.

Redfield, B.G. (1989) The Concise Dictionary of Mythology, Peerage Books, London, pp. 28 & 30-31.