Dagon was originally "Dagan." He was a Caananite
God of grain
, and, to some, fertility
. According to mythology, he was the father of Baal
. Possible meanings of the name are fish, grain, or corn, this first suggesting that he was some kind of fish like entity. He has been often represented as having the lower half of a fish, kind of like a merman
, but he has also been represented as having a fishy upper body instead. He bears an interesting resemblance to the Oannes
of Mesopotamia and Babylonia.
The most famous worshipers of Dagon were the Phillistine
s of primarily Biblical fame. The Phillistines had a number of temples to Dagon with statues of the god in them. An amusing episode is described in 1 Samuel
5:1-4 when the Phillistines capture the Ark of the Covenant
, and have the bright idea to put it before one of the statues of Dagon. When they did this, the statue fell over onto its face. Naturally, they picked it up. When the Phillistine priests came back later, they found that Dagon's head and hands were cut off, and only "the stump of Dagon" was left. Vicious, no? The famed judge Samson
, when captured, hairless, and eyeless, pulled down a temple to Dagon on the heads of the Phillistines.
Dagon was big in Palestine
for a good while, but, after a time, his son, Baal, ursurped his duties. As with Astarte
, and the other fallen gods, Dagon was given no pretty cairn.