Belus (Egyptian)

Belus (Greek: Βῆλος, Bē̂los) was in Greek mythology 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).

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. Maybe he is also Busiris, son of Libya, ruler of Egypt, killed by Heracles, 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.[1] 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.[4] 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.

According to Pherecydes,[5] 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. Yet another source says that the daughter of Belus who married Agenor was named Antiope.[6]

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.[7]

Some sources make Belus the father of Lamia.[8]

Nonnus[9] makes Belus the father of five sons, namely Phineus, Phoenix, Agenor (identified as the father of Cadmus), Aegyptus, and Danaus, though Nonnus elsewhere[10] 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.

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. 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 Syro-Palestinian (Canaanite) mythology, a fertility god, whose attributes are lightning, rainstorms and the forces of nature.

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
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  1. 1 2 Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca
  2. Diodorus Siculus, 1.27.28.
  3. 1 2 Pausanias, Description of Greece, 4.23.10.
  4. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.4.
  5. Pherycides, 3F21
  6. Scholia on Euripides, Phoenician Women, 5
  7. Catalogue of Women fr. 137 = Strabo 1.2.34.
  8. Diodorus Siculus. Историческая библиотека XX 41, 3-6, схолии к Аристофану. Осы 1035, Мир 758 // Комм. 37 к Гераклиту-аллегористу
  9. Nonnus. Dionysiaca, 3.287f.
  10. Nonnus. Dionysiaca, 2.686.

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

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