Warning: VERY Long Post Ahead
One of the things I find great about some fantasy games is how they draw from real world mythology or are influenced by it (at least). I have been a lover of mythology for years – most of my life actually – and when I started playing Diablo 3 there were names that I recognised, like Lilith and Baal (though it is pronounced differently in D3). Obviously, they are fictional characters in a computer game, but world mythology has figures that are just as nasty, cruel, brave and valiant. Baal is one that i have wanted to do in this series for a while… so today I am turning my spot light to Baal, or Tor'Baalos; the Lord of Destruction and the real world counterpart Ba'al (If you are a fan of Stargate SG1 it is one you will recognise.
The Lord of Destruction
Baal is one of the Great Evils which spawned from one of the heads of Tathamet and is the brother of Mephisto and Diablo. His little corner of the Burning Hells of called the Realm of Destruction – sounds like a lovely place huh?
Baal's early life with his brothers was a constant battle against the High Heavens, and he revelled in the blood, chaos, carnage and death. He would always come up with new and inventive ways to havoc. One of the rare times he teams up with his brother, Diablo decided he wanted to he be head honcho of the Burning Hells and the High Heavens – he wanted it all! This obviously rubbed his brothers the wrong way. It was Baal that discovered that the Worldstone was missing, and after going psycho on the Angels he was still no closer to finding out what happened to the Worldstone. Baal wasn't blind to Lilith's machinations and has a sneak suspicion who was behind the theft of the Worldstone. He made Mephisto aware of her disappearance and demanded that they find her… okay Baal wanted to kill her and take the Worldstone for herself.
Sanctuary and the Temple of the Triune
After a time Baal and the other denizens of the Burning Hells learned about Sanctuary for the first time, and they discovered the bound potential within humanity and decided that it would be beneficial to turn that potential to their side. This is when the Temple of the Triune (this will come in another post) was formed, a seemingly beneficial and positive religion, when the truth is, it was just a front for their true motives. Each of the brothers chose an alter ego, and the Lord Destruction became Bala; the Spirit of Creation. As Bala, Baal is depicted with a hammer and a bag. The Triune priests would preach that the hammer represented the agricultural feats and triumphs that humanity has been able to achieve while the bag carried the seed for all life. Everything that humanity had achieved was under the grace of Bala. The Triune had a thorn in their side by the name of Inarius, and it's thanks to him that the opposing faction called the Cathedral of Light…. bing…bang…bosh… The Sin War begins. Eventually both Heaven and Earth agreed that Sanctuary was a neutral zone, and they would all come to respect that.
Family Feuds and the Dark Exile
Baal and his brothers kept the existence of Sanctuary and humanity from the Lesser Evils, and while they were all born of the heads of Tathamet, this secret drove a wedge between the Greater and Lesser Evils. Can you guess what happened? The Lesser Evils were seriously pissed and started a mutiny. They decided that Baal and his brothers were to be exiled to Sanctuary, thus, entering the time of the Dark Exile. Well, that's exactly what the Greater Evils wanted all along, a chance to corrupt humanity. Baal and his brothers sowed the seeds of discord for decades before they came into Tyreal's preview – in response to this discovery Tyreal created the Horadrim – aka pains on Baal's arse. After a lot of battling, a stone was created which could hold Baal, but like aspect he embodied, the Soulstone meant for him was destroyed – it's not clear WHO destroyed the stone, but eventually Baal was drawn into the largest shard, but this wouldn’t hold him indefinitely. Even though the Soulstones were designed to be a prison for eternity, but what he Horadrim didn’t count on was the corruption that spewed out of their essence; inadvertently this made the Evils even stronger. They had a problem, Baal would get free eventually, so they needed to think outside the box – eventually thanks to Diablo, Baal would be freed to wreak havoc and destruction.
Fast forward a little……
Arreat, Barbarians and the Worldstone.
Baal was on the march toward Mount Arreat and th Worldstone; by the time he came face to face with the Barbarians his army was tens of thousands strong (at this point I always think about Helms Deep or Minas Tirith with the hordes of orcs). The Barbarians fought with all the ferocity of Bul-Kathos himself, but it wasn’t enough, Baal was a battering ram and reached the Gates of Sescheron. As a last-ditch effort to stop Baal the Barbarians tried to negotiate, but Baal’s response was to shoot the messenger…. Well he kind of blew up but that’s just splitting hairs lol! After Baal killed the emissary, the only thing the Elders could do was to enact a warding spell that would keep Baal at bay; but it would cost them their lives. All but one of the elders died, and he believed that his people were doomed, so he made a pact with Baal, basically gave the Barbarian’s most sacred relic to the Lord of Destruction in return for leniency. Well, as you can imagine Baal wasn’t going to do anything good and fused it with the Shard of Destruction (his Soul Sone shard) – as the shard fused with the Worldstone, the evil, malice and strife contained within the shard spread like ink in water. Ball thought he was free and clear, but that wasn’t exactly true… Tyreal saw that the Worldstone was beyond saving, but in order to save humanity Tyreal thre his sword El’druin into the stone, destroying it. On the upside, the explosion blew Baal up.
Ba’al as a Title
In certain regions in antiquity the world Ba’al can be translated to lord, owner, master or husband, but it’s also used to refer to a group of deities that were worshipped in the Levant region -primarily the coastal region of Ugarit.
Luckily historian and archaeologists have been able to piece together almost a complete myth about Ba’al. In this myth Ba’al defeats the sea god Yam in a conflict that is likely to represent the forces of order and chaos – Ba’al represented Order and the sea god Yam represented chaos. The Ancient people used myths of gods and heroes to explain the forces of nature and explain things they didn’t understand. After his victory, Ba’al wanted to build a palace and become the successor to El, the King of the Gods, though it is not clear why. Ba’al fought and lost to the God of Death Mut and lost, but eventually he was able to overcome his opponent to become ruler of the Netherworld… he then chooses to stay there a few months every year (it’s almost like he take his summer holidays in the Netherworld or something).
Ba’al was a warrior, King of the Gods, Ruler of the Netherworld; and while he had these roles and many more, the functions he played in the Ancient world were greater in number. He was believed to reside in Mount Saphon/Mount Casius, and to be the Judge of the Gods, the Lord of Wind and Weather, the controller of the rains, storms (including thunder and lightning); the annual renewal of vegetation is believed to come under Ba’al purview.
First Millenium BCE (Before Common Era)
During the first millennium BCE there are a number of deities named Ba’al, and the primary was Ba’al-Samen or the ‘Lord of Heavens’, who is (as you can guess) the head honcho of the pantheon. He is traditionally accompanied by two Goddesses: Tanit (the Face of Ba’al) and Astarte (the Name of Ba’al) . Triads/trinities like this were important. El remained the supreme god of the pantheon, but it was Ba’al-Samen, Ba’al-Saphon and Ba’al-Malage who held all the power ; and this trinity would remain influential even through the transition of leading deities. There were other Ba’als out there such as the Ba’al of Sidon and the Ba’al of Lebanon. Ba’al Hammon would become a predominant god in Carthage – but those roots are extremely complex, and maybe a little too complex for a Reddit post on a game.
The Hellenistic (Greek) and Roman World
Under the rule of th Assryians, the Near East was united, and when the power transferred to the Babylonians, to the Persians, and then to the Seleucids – You get the drift, but even after all of the political swapping of hands, it may surprise you that the term Ba’al could still be found. The Ba’al of Baalbek (Heliopolis) was another form/name for Zeus.
How is Ba’al worshipped today?
It may surprise you that some people still worship Ba’al.
Names: Baal, Ba’al
Worship: Worshipped in North Memphis during the New Kingdom period.
Sacred Colour: Green
God of: Fertility, Weather, Vegetation
Areas of Worship: Near East, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome
I will be focusing on Baal as a member of the Temple of the Triune in a separate post.
Source: Original link
© Post "Ba’al – The Lord of Destruction" for game Diablo 3.
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