Connecting Ishtar to the Statue of Liberty

French sculptor, Frederic Bartholdi, designed the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi did not originate the concept of the statue. The idea for creating a statue of liberty and freedom was first proposed by another Frenchman by the name of Edward Laboulaye.

It was Laboulaye’s idea and determination during the American Civil War that carried the idea from a simple notion to an actual project.

Laboulaye, a French Freemason proposed the idea of a giant statue replicating a goddess that the Masonic movement idolized.

Laboulaye proceeded to raise the financial support and commission Bartholdi to provide the sculpture of this goddess of illumination from ancient times.

What deity was this? It was the goddess known by various names.

Laboulaye and his fellow Freemason, sculptor Bartholdi referred to her as “Libertas” but she was also an early adoption by Romans of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. We’ll need to follow the research on the goddess connections to fully understand this statue’s meaning.

Roman goddess Libertas

Libertas was the name of an ancient Roman goddess adopted by the Romans perhaps as early as the 5th century BC and certainly by the 4th Century BC.

She was referred to as the goddess of personal freedom and liberty. In fact Libertas meant freedom. So liberty means freedom. The 2 names describe the one concept we call freedom. Liberty = Freedom and Freedom = Liberty.

This goddess was the goddess of freedom because she promoted the ideals for the personal freedom to do anything that felt good. She was called the matron goddess of prostitution because she promoted sexual freedom. Indeed, she had invented the concept. Slaves considered her their goddess in the hopes of winning their freedom.

Many women who gained freedom later turned to prostitution to survive and thereby retained Libertas as their goddess, especially if they became priestesses in the Libertas cult. Libertas was also a goddess of war in order to fight for freedom. She was also referred at times as the goddess of victory because freedom must have victory in order to survive. This goddess was also the goddess of immigrants.

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Left: Roman goddess Libertas – Right: Statue of Libery

The whole idea of immigration connoted the idea of freedom. Her popularity was also unique because of her unique doctrine of hearing personal prayers. This unique doctrine was something that most of the pagan deity doctrines were not disposed towards.

We know that this goddess existed because of the records left behind to us. We have the ancient writings of Cicero who writes of this goddess and her Temple on the Aventine Way in Rome. She was depicted on some Roman coins as wearing a freedom cap and having a wreath along with a spear or sometimes a sword.

Such coin images were not the only depictions. Sometimes she was well robed and at other times seductively unclothed in both sculptures and paintings. We know of Libertas being referred to as the Mother of Harlots by the famous Roman historian (and senator) Cicero’s writings. Cicero indicates that she was also a very early goddess of the Greeks even before early Roman civilization developed.

Upon further investigation we find that the Greeks had acquired knowledge of this being from previous empires in the Middle East and Egypt. This goddess was called Ashtoreth in Hebrew and in the Old Testament’s Greek version (the Septuagint).

Ashtoreth becomes transliterated into the Greek as Astarte, which became the early Greek name for the goddess until it was later changed to Aphrodite. The Hebrew term Ashtoreth was itself a transliteration from the Babylonian dialect (Akkadian) term of Ishtar.

Ishtar in the most ancient of times was also referred to by the Sumerian dialect as Inanna or Ninanna meaning the Queen of Heaven or Lady of Heaven. In Canaan this deity was called Ashtaroth. The Hittites called her Shaushka. The Phoenicians on Cypress initially referred to her as Astarte.

Isis was the name the Egyptians gave to her. This is how the goddess became introduced to the earliest Greeks. We know this transformation in part due to the written texts found by archaeologists plus from studying the character traits and descriptions. For instance all these deities were actually just one goddess and she was associated with the planet Venus.

Most had phonetic language roots in the transliterating aspects of the name Ishtar and this remained so until the Greeks changed the name to Aphrodite. Later the Romans referred to her in the Latin, initially as Libertas and later as Venus when they accepted more than just the Liberty doctrines.

Ishtar: Goddess of Liberty and Personal Freedom

Ishtar was introduced to the Greeks as Astarte through the Phoenicians. We can see that the lineage of the Greek and Roman goddess of the planet Venus goes all the way back to ancient Babylon of around 3,000 BC.

Apparently the Greeks (and later the Romans) chose to initially honor only one portion of Ishtar’s character and doctrines that appealed to them in those very early years before they established empires. Ishtar’s doctrine of personal freedom was what really impressed both the Greeks and the Romans. They therefore chose to worship just that aspect of her character.

Goddess Ishtar

As time passed, the succeeding generations of Greeks found the other Ishtar doctrines to be appealing and incorporated her into their pantheon of deities as Astarte or Aphrodite. Later still, the Romans did the same and referred to her as Venus.

It seems that the allure of Ishtar was her doctrine of holy sex or salvation by holy sexual relations with a temple priestess or priest as a means of purification and holiness.

Of course, this entailed paying the priestess or priest and thus it was officially sanctioned and therefore “holy” prostitution. Ishtar introduced that whole concept to the human race.

This is why she was referred to as the Mother of Harlots. Harlots had been deemed to be social outcasts so she was also referred to as the Mother of exiles.

This was later equated with the idea of immigration. Naturally then Ishtar (a.k.a.– Libertas) was known as the Mother of Harlots, the Mother of Exiles and the Mother of immigrants throughout not only Babylon and Babylonia but also later Assyria, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

What was Ishtar’s legacy in Babylon? She was the chief goddess of Babylon and all of Babylonia. There was no other goddess more honored than she. She was equated to have nearly the same power as the chief god of Babylon, the sun god Utu, also known as Shamesh. In later years, the chief male deities would flip-flop in popularity.

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Ragnar Larsen