Mochus of Sidon


1 Introduction

MôkhosAthenaeus, Josephus (George Cedrenus, George Syncellus), Iamblichus

Sextus Empiricus, Strabo, Tatian = Eusebius

2 Damascius, Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles, vol. 1, p. 323

Outside of Eudemus, we find the Phoenician mythology according to Mochus: Aithḗr¹ (m.) was the first, and Air (Aḗr m.) the two principles.²

From these, ˤUlōm³ (Oulōmós m.) was begotten – the intelligible god, I believe, the very summit of the Intelligible.⁴

From him, when he had intercourse with himself,⁵ they say that he first brought forth Kuthōr⁶ (Khousōrós m.) the Opener⁷ (Anoigeús m.), then an Egg⁸ (Ōión n.) – meaning, I think, the intelligible Intellect by this (the Egg), but by the Opener Kuthōr, the intelligible Power as first ‘dividing’ the indivisible nature.⁹

Unless, that is, after the two principles, the one Wind (Ánemos m.) is the summit, but the two winds Southwesterly (Líps m.) and Southerly (Nótos m.) are the middle; for they somehow make these too prior to ˤUlōm.¹⁰

But let ˤUlōm be the intelligible Intellect, the Opener Kuthōr the first order after the Intelligible, and the Egg Ouranos¹¹ – for it is said¹² that Heaven (Ouranós) and Earth¹³ () were produced from it after it was shattered, each being one of its halves.¹⁴

1: Perhaps equivalent to Breeze (Aúra) in the Sidonian theogony and translated from the same Phoenician word, presumaby a feminine one (like Aúra, but not Aithḗr), since it constitutes a couple with the male god Air.
2: The identification of Aether as “the first” and Air as “the two principles” is a piece of Neoplatonic terminology introduced by Damascius. Mochus may have introduced Aether and Air as the first beings, rather than Air coming from Aether (or Damascius might be expected to say so outright).
3: Phoenician ˤulōm (𐤏𐤋𐤌 ˤlm) is equivalent to Ugaritic 𐎓𐎍𐎎 ˤlm and Hebrew עוֹלָם ˤôlām, all meaning ‘eternity’. Perhaps translated as Khrónos, ‘time’, in the Sidonian theogony.
4: This is Damascius’ Neoplatonic interpretation.
5: This mytheme might explain how, in the Sidonian theogony, Time might have begotten Air and Breeze without a partner (if that is how the text is to be understood). In Philo of Byblos, it is instead the original hazy air (equivalent to both Aithḗr and Air in the present account) which reproduces with itself, as it were.
8: The Egg also appears in the Sidonian theogony, […]
9: Damascius’ interpretation here hinges on a metaphorical understanding of the title “Opener”. But it may be that his opening function rather refers to the breaking of the Egg, thereby producing Heaven and Earth (the cosmos). See below.
10: “Somehow” suggests that Mochus gave no precise genealogy, although we may surmise that Wind is the parent of the two particular Winds. On the winds, also see the theogony of Philo of Byblos. The terminology of “two principles”, “summit” and “middle” is purely Neoplatonic.
11: Ouranos for Damascius represents a specific incorporeal entity in the Neoplatonic metaphysical system, not (in this context) the Heaven or sky.
12: Said by Mochus (and the Sidonian theogony?), justifying the interpretation Damascius has just given.