Dagon

🏷  Egyptian Semitic divine name hidden ruler pun recommended · name   —   by Gerry · Dec 2019 · 990 words

The name of the deity Dagon means “hidden” & “cloaked” in the Semitic languages & Egyptian, and also puns with “fish”. The Assyrian figurines called “Dagon priests” consequently wear fish cloaks.

Dagon as a “fish” god

Wikipedia admits that Dagon is often interpreted as being derived from Semitic דג‎ dg for “fish”, because there were many depictions of fish-men in Assyrian palaces. The current official explanation is with דג‎ dg for “grain”. What Wikipedia doesn’t admit, as usual, is that it can be both at the same time: Dagon was a pun!

A long-standing association with a Canaanite word for “fish” (as in Hebrew: דג‎, Tib. /dɔːg/), perhaps going back to the Iron Age, has led to an interpretation as a “fish-god”, and the association of “merman” motifs in Assyrian art (such as the “Dagon” relief found by Austen Henry Layard in the 1840s). The god’s name was, however, more likely derived from a word for “grain”, suggesting that he was in origin associated with fertility and agriculture.

Wikipedia: Dagon

So far, so easy: Dagon sounds like the words for “fish” & “grain”.

Hebrew dg = Dagon, fish, grain

דג dg : fish, fishing — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דג dg : fish; related to Ugar. dg (= fish) — Hebrew (Klein)

דוג dwg : to fish — Hebrew (Klein)

דגה dgh : increase, caused to multiply; denominated from דג, hence lit. meaning ‘to multiply like fish’ — Hebrew (Klein)

דאג dˀg : to be anxious or concerned, to fear, dread, worried — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דגן dgn : corn, grain; related to Phoen. דגן, JAram. דגנא, Samaritan dīgan, Ugar. dgn (= corn, grain) — Hebrew (Klein)

דגן dgn : corn, grain (of cereals) — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Depictions with fish cloaks

But if you look at Assyrian figurines & friezes, you’ll notice that practically all depictions of fish people are showing regular humans just wearing fish cloaks. That is very unusual. All other half-animal creatures are actual hybrids (like the Nisroch eagle-men), so it’s not like Assyrian artists were unable to imagine or depict that.

Dagon relief, showing man with fish-skin cloak.

Dagon relief, showing man with fish-skin cloak.
(from Nineveh, draw by Austen Henry Layard)

3 clay figurines of apkallu, men with fish-skin cloaks.

3 clay figurines of apkallu, men with fish-skin cloaks.
(from Nineveh, now in British Museum)

dg meaning “fish” & “cloak”

Can we do better than Wikipedia and official Assyriology, and explain the weird fish cloaks? If you look up the word root meanings, it’s perfectly simple: dg means both “fish” & “cloak”, and that’s why the figurines wear a fish cloak.

The only difficulty is that the meaning “cloak” is only attested for Egyptian. The Egyptian root dg means “cloak”, “cloaking”, “concealing”, but also “seeing”. Likely that’s because it does not mean concealment by hiding out of sight, but “concealment by cloaking”, which makes people see something else.

Egyptian dg = see, make see, conceal, cloak, cape

𓄔𓏤𓍵 ỉdg : (head) kerchief, cape, cloak — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓇋𓀁𓂧𓎼𓄔𓏤𓍱 ỉdg : cape, cloak — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓇋𓂧𓎼𓄿𓄔𓏤𓍵 ỉdg : head cloth; kerchief — Egyptian (TLA)

𓂧𓎼𓄿𓇋𓇋𓀃𓅪 dgỉ : hide — Egyptian (AED)

dgỉ : to hide oneself, to be hidden — Egyptian (TLA)

𓋴𓂧𓎼𓄿𓀃𓂻 sdgỉ : conceal from — Egyptian (AED)

𓋴𓂧𓎼𓀃𓂻𓏥 sdgw : hidden things — Egyptian (AED)

𓋴𓂧𓎼𓄿𓇋𓇋𓁻 sdgȝy : to conceal — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓋴𓂧𓎼𓄿𓁻 sdgȝ : to see, to show — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂧𓎼𓁻 dgỉ : to behold, to see — Egyptian (TLA)

Theoretically, the words dg for “fish” and dg for “cloak” may even be related, via the meaning “skin”: dg could mean “fish”, because fish are cloaked in a special slippery & scaly skin. dg also means “grain”, perhaps for the protective chaff.

But officially, the “cloak” meaning was only used in Egyptian, and the “fish” meaning only in Mesopotamia. If that was the reality, and is not due to censoring of dictionaries, then it means that the Mesopotamian cryptocrats were using their foreign vocabulary to play a nasty joke on their subjects. They probably told their subjects that Dagon was a fertility god, because of the pun with dg for “fish” & “grain”. But to the cryptocrats, Dagon was really a cryptocracy god, because of the pun with dg for “cloaking”.

Since the spook aristocrats are “cloaking” themselves all the time, it would make Dagon yet another “hidden ruler” pun.

Semitic dq for “fine curtain”, dqn for “beard”

There is a possible Semitic pun with dq for “fine cloth”, translated as “veil” & “curtain”. However, the general meaning of the root is “fine” & “finely crushed”, one derivation is “dwarf”. The meaning of “fine cloth curtain” occurs only once in the Bible. And the Dagon figurines are visibly wearing cloaks, not veils or curtains.

dq may be related to dqn for “beard” though, which also sounds like Dagon.

Hebrew, Aramaic dq = fine, veil, curtain; dqn = beard

דק dq : thin, fine, tender — Hebrew (Jastrow)

דק dq : veil, curtain; fine (as a thin cloth) — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דק dq : a veil, curtain — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דק dq : a thin curtain; heaven — Hebrew (Klein)

דקן dqn : beard, bearded chin, hair-growth — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Semitic pun of dgn with dgl for “lying” & “spying”

There’s another purely Semitic pun: The phoneme N is very close to L, only the tip of the tongue moves a little bit. Consequently, the letters N & L were almost identical in Phoenician script, and were often confused. Thus, dgn for “Dagon” is very close to dgl for “lying” & “spying”, in both spelling & pronunciation. That could even be related to Egyptian dg for “seeing”.

In any case, a “spy” pun would complement the “fish cloak” symbolism very well. Because the elites mostly spy on their own subjects, this would also be a typical “hidden ruler” pun.

Aramaic dgl = lying, deceiving, treachery

דגל dgl : to deceive; to lie; to deceive; to deal falsely with, lie to; to regard as false; to negate; to become a liar, to deceive; to err; to fail to function — Aramaic (CAL)

דגלו dglw : falsity; treachery, cunningness — Aramaic (CAL)

Akkadian dgl = watching, spying

dāgilu : an observer, an onlooker, a looker, a watcher, a spy, a spectator, a viewer, a bystander; lā dāgilu: unobservant, unseeing, blind — Akkadian (AAF)

🏷  Egyptian Semitic divine name hidden ruler pun recommended · name