Mount Kasios, known as Jebel al-ʾAqraʿ (جبل الأقرع) in modern Arabic, is known to be a sacred mountain in Syria that hosts great divine power. It has been recognized by many names- such as Mount Hazzi by the Hurrians and Mount Sapan by the Canaanites. The sacred site can be understood as a “Mount Olympus of the Near East,” and in ancient times it was considered a sacred home of the storm deity Baʿal Zaphon, known to the Hellenes as Zeus Kasios, and His sister ʿAnat along with the other deities. In mythology, it is this location where a great battle between Zeus Kasios and a sea-serpent entity identified by the Greeks as the monster Typhon took place. The temple of Zeus Kasios was described as being “dark with clouds,” and the deity is described to appear as a dark-bearded figure.
The site is known for many miracles. On 114/115 ACE Emperor Trajan was spared from a catastrophic earthquake that struck Antioch and gave great offerings to the God as thanks. On 129 ACE Emperor Hadrian climbed the mountain in the darkness of night to witness the dawn at its summit. As he prepared to honor the God with a sacrifice, a lightning bolt at the peak flashed and killed both the animal victim as well as the attendant who was about to slaughter it. Emperor Julian also experienced the deity, however in a much more personal experience.
On spring of 363 ACE, the divine Emperor Julian took the route to Mount Kasios to bear witness to the early dawn and give worship and provide a sacrifice to Zeus. The sun rose, and in broad daylight, it is written by Libanius that Julian received an epiphanic vision from the God, and “saw the God and after seeing him… received advice” (Libanius, Or.18.172). It is here that Zeus, “[as] one of the immortals descended from heaven, took [Julian] by the hair, spoke to him, and after listening to [Zeus’] answer [Julian] departed” (Libanius, Or.18.172)
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