- Classification: Demon
- Also Known As: Ashtaroth, Astarot, Asteroth, Great Duke of Hell
- Related to: Is thought to have originally been part of King Solomon’s Household, Is thought to have a connection to Astarte
- Powers: Knowledge of Past, Present, and Future, Knowledge of Sciences, Knowledge of the Creation Story, Can Grant Power over Serpents
- Weapons: Ruler of 40 legions of souls and spirits, Foul Breath
Who is Astaroth?
Astaroth is often depicted as one of the demons that serves as the ‘Great Duke of Hell’ though there is some debate over if he is a demon or was simply brought into existence as a demon when the modern religions of this world rose to power. It is thought that the origins of Astaroth are rooted in the Babylonian goddess Astarte and that she was transformed into the demon Astaroth as a way of undermining existing beliefs. For this reason, it is essential to know Astarte and other ancient goddesses to fully understand Astaroth.
Because of the debate over the origins of Astaroth, there are several different variations of who he (or she) is in their true form. Most versions of the dominant religions (especially Christianity and Islam) claim that Astaroth has always been a demon. Their explanation for the appearance of the creature in modern day is simply that as a deceiver, Astaroth took the form of the goddess Astarte in order to gain favor among people. He is said to commonly try to win people over through laziness and the manipulation of logic.
There are, however, other religions that see Astaroth as a helpful demon that is not necessarily benevolent, but is also not evil. Additionally, some writings that mention Astaroth seem to portray him as an angel that is ‘opposed to the demon of power’ [Testament of Solomon].
Astaroth According to Modern Religion
What is known of Astaroth according to the major religions is that he is said to be part of the first hierarchy in Hell that is comprised of an evil trinity (Astaroth, Beelzebub, and Lucifer [Satan]). Astaroth is perhaps one of the lesser threats to humanity so far as physical danger is concerned, though it appears that he is fond of manipulation and corruption that is intellectual in nature.
This isn’t to say, however, that Astaroth doesn’t have impressive power in the ranks of Hell. As one of the Grand Dukes of Hell (the evil trinity), Astaroth holds immense power that must be recognized. In addition to his spot in the evil trinity Astaroth is thought to command 40 legions of demons and spirits, suggesting that he is also a respected military strategist. This could play into why Astaroth is seen as such a political ally. Astaroth is also given a spot that reflects his impressive intelligence as the Treasurer of Hell. With these combined titles, it is easy to see why this demon is both greatly feared and respected.
It is said that when Astaroth is summoned, he is willing to share his great knowledge of the past, present, future, and intellectual pursuits. However, when one summons Astaroth, it is important to take precautions. This demon is known for his foul smelling breath that is said to be fatal upon encounters. To protect oneself from Astaroth’s breath, it is said that a charmed ring made of pure silver can be used as protection. This ring must be held underneath the nose of the summoner to ensure that the individual will remain protected for the entire interaction with Astaroth. Failure to do this will result in death.
The Many Sides of Astaroth
If you were, however, able to summon Astaroth, you’d find that the demon is quite forthcoming with information and always answers truthfully. It is said that Astaroth is especially fond of telling people the creation story and the tale regarding the fall of the angels and old world. While this seems to be out of line with the behavior that would be expected from a Grand Duke of Hell, it is possible that this demon has an ulterior motive. Every tale of an encounter with Astaroth is said to have at least one point in time where the Duke is shown be very upset to have become a demon and seems to think that he has been misjudged. He will tell the full truth of the story of his fall, though he will often make it a point to demonstrate why he is being unjustly judged and punished.
There are conflicting views for why Astaroth is known to plead his case so frequently. Those who follow the opinions of the major religions claim that Astaroth uses his knowledge to manipulate the truth of his fall and lead others into temptation and, eventually, eternal damnation. Others are of the belief that Astaroth is a victim and his (or her) image has been misconstrued over time.
To say the least, Astaroth’s view on his appearance as a demon is interesting because it is unclear if he has earned this title because he was once an angel that was cast out of the creator’s favor, or if he is a demon because a religion or culture found it necessary to change his true identity. Either way, the Grand Duke is clear that the punishment he has been given is unjust – though most who believe in Astaroth will attribute this to one of his tricks.
Knowledge of Astaroth
If asked, Astaroth will speak any truth concerning the past, present, or future. He is also quick to help others gain knowledge about anything involving intellectual pursuits and is especially eager to help with questions of science. Those who worshiped him in various ancient cultures were known to flourish and were known for their intellectual societies.
Astaroth is also known to be a great mentor to turn to if in need of assistance – especially if that assistance is needed to make important political or business connections. According to many legends, Astaroth serves as a council to both humans and demons – though he seems to have a preference towards human affairs. This is possibly because Astaroth seems to have a conscience when it comes to giving advice and does not want his wisdom to be associated with evil or ill intent.
Interestingly enough, although Astaroth is considered to be part of the evil trinity, he is only willing to give power to those who seek his help in order to accomplish good deeds. It is said that if anyone attempts to summon him for ill intentions, he will refuse to give them assistance. Additionally, many people claim that Astaroth will only appear to those who see him as the goddess Astarte. Anyone who doesn’t recognize her a goddess and tries to summon Astaroth in demon form is usually ignored, though there are a small amount of success stories.
The accounts of Astaroth’s appearance differ depending on which texts you rely on – those of major religion describing Astaroth, or those of early religion describing Astarte.
Texts that describe Astaroth depict him as a wretched angel. ‘The Lesser Key of Solomon’ describes Astaroth as follows:
Other accounts mention Astaroth ay have horned wings and often note the gloomy nature of the being.
The accounts that describe Astarte, however, could not be more different. Astarte was commonly referred to as the ‘Queen of Heaven’ and is often described as having long golden hair, fairly tall, and being surrounded by a mix of white and gold.
The Fall of Astarte and Rise of Astaroth
There is some controversy regarding the fall of Astarte and rise of Astaroth. There are several theories as to who Astaroth may be, but it is difficult to determine which is true.
The ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians all regarded Astarte with the highest regards, though they did recognize her under different names. She was supposedly the goddess of fertility and war, and symbolizes a life of luxury. Many temples and statues were built in her honor and all areas that she guarded over supposedly thrived during her reign.
However, when the major religions came to power (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), they tarnished Astarte’s name and claimed that she was a deceiver. Over time, they changed her name to Astaroth and said that he was a Grand Duke of Hell that appeared in the form of Astarte (and others) when he was trying to deceive people.
Interestingly enough, there are some parts of Astarte that remain in Christianity according to those who still believe in the goddess. Some claim that ‘The Virgin Mary’ was fictitious, and was created to take the place of Astarte in literature. There is no evidence that this is true, though it does pose an interesting question.
Though there are no definitive answers to the question of which is real – Astarte or Astaroth, many people who try to summon Astaroth report failure unless they call upon ‘him’ by the name Astarte. Those who do this claim to see a female goddess instead of a demon. Others, however, claim that they have seen the demon Astaroth and that he exists as the deceiver that religious texts describe.
Astaroth in Other Cultures
Astarte was a Mesopotamian goddess who was known for her connection to fertility, sexuality, and war. She was greatly respected and was one of the main deities that was worshiped during this time.
According to legends, Astarte was worshiped by many cultures under different names and was also the first primordial goddess of Venus.
Inanna was a Sumerian goddess who was often referred to as the ‘Queen of Heaven.’ Because Inanna and Astarte are so similar, many theologists believe she is the same goddess as Astarte.
Inanna was known for her many talents, but most notably for her position as the goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, and war. Inanna was also known for her deep reverence for justice and was known to hold great political power. This is possibly why Astaroth is credited with being well known for his abilities to make powerful political connections on behalf of man.
May theologists also connect Astarte to Ishtar – the Akkadian goddess. This is possibly because of her high rank in the Akkadian society and the association with fertility and power. There are, however, noticeable differences. Ishtar is known to have associations with the storehouse and was thought to be the goddess of dates, meat, grain, and wool. She was also thought to be the goddess of rain and thunderstorms. It is thought that Ishtar’s connection to storms may have lead to her association (and by default Astaroth’s association) with war.
Because of Isis’ connections and similarities to Astarte, it is likely that she had a large role in shaping the character of Astaroth. Isis was known for her role with the underworld, her power over other gods, and her bountiful wisdom. Her dedication, kind nature, and depiction in the tale of the revival of Osiris and birth of Horus also help to cement her as the mother of the afterlife. This could have possibly influenced the way that Astaroth is portrayed in Hades. As a trustworthy counselor, Isis’ traits are almost certainly to credit for this characteristic. Both are deities who are powerful and knowledgeable – making them a force to be reckoned with.
Explanation of the Myth
Astaroth is certainly a demon with many interesting qualities and a complicated past, but there are still many questions as to his connections with the ancient goddesses listed above. Because of this, Astaroth’s identity will always be a bit of a mystery.
Regardless of whether Astaroth has always been a demon, was once an angel who became a demon, or was a goddess whose identity was hidden, the fact remains that he holds tremendous power and knowledge. His existence likely speaks to the need to identify a creator that signified good and a source of opposition with the capability to pose a threat to humanity. Such opposition would have been important in instilling the need to live by a certain moral code and establishing rules and regulations in society that lead to stable civilizations.