Real Name: Possibly Semiramis or Sammu-Ramat (see comments)
Identity/Class: Human (or sub-species of humanity, see comments) magic-user;
presumably pre-Cataclysmic era (see comments)
1300-1100 BC (see comments) and modern era; likely active between pre-Cataclysmic era and 1300 BC
Occupation: Sorceress, terrorist, lecturer;
former Sorceress Supreme/Sorcerer Supreme, queen of Assyria
Group Membership: Lineage of Sorcerer Supremes;
formerly the Blood and the Fallen
Affiliations: Armies of Assyria, Diabolique, Mr. Nobody, Shrieking Rain Jihad, Sisters of the Violent Flame, Xaos;
she invoked Gaia (Gaea)
soldiers in her holy war (based out of Nimrud);
formerly the Fallen (Atrocity, Embyrre, Foundry, Metarchus, Patriarch, Ranter, Rubach), Namor the Sub-Mariner, Vincent Stevens, Spirits of Vengeance, Strange, the Vishanti (Agamotto, Hoggoth, Oshtur), Wong, Zarathos; unidentified worshippers in Manhattan, New York and Mosul, Iraq
while she sought relationships with King Ara of Armenia, he rejected her
Enemies: King Ara and the Armenians, Blood (Caretaker, Raydar, Regent, Seer, Truthsayer, others)), Bloodstorm (Dracula clone), Doctor Stephen Strange, Man-Thing (Ted Sallis), Midnight Sons (Blade/Eric Brooks, John Blaze, Frank Drake, Dr. Stephen Strange, Ghost
Rider/Dan Ketch/Noble Kale, Hannibal King, Michael Morbius, Vengeance/Michael Badilino), Modred the Mystic, Victoria Montesi, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Taj Nital (vampire), Scarecrow (Ebenezer Laughton), Sister Nil, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Spirits of
Vengeance, Vincent Stevens, Strange, Varnae, the Vishanti (Agamotto, Hoggoth, Oshtur), Werewolf (Jack Russell), Wildpride (Kyllian); unidentified people used to create her Skins of Necromancy;
Known Relatives: It is unrevealed whether the Blood are all relatives vs. just associates, if relatives then: Atrocity, Caretaker, Embyrre, Foundry, Metarchus, Patriarch, Ranter, Raydar, Regent, Rubach, Seer, Truthsayer, others (possible kin);
possibly Salomé, Taramis, and their ancestors and descendents (possible descendants);
see comments for relatives of the historical Sammu-Ramat/Semiramis
Aliases: Blessed Mother, Goddess, Great Mother, Sorcerer Supreme, Sorceress Supreme;
(perhaps descriptions, rather than aliases): Dancing shaper of profound elemental force; Dread mistress of destructive rebirth
"wet slime lady" (taunt from Sister Nil);
possibly Sammu-Ramat, Sammuramat, Shammuramat (see comments); Semiramis is her later, Greek name
Base of Operations: Presumably the non-dimension of nihility;
formerly a Times Square (junction of Broadway and 47th Avenue) theater (with a knotted fist emblem known as "The Fig"), aka her New York nest;
her "lush net," within a natural mound, within Nimrud (20 miles south of modern Mosul, Iraq), in what was formerly Assyria;
former the Fallen dimension
First Appearance: Marvel Comics Presents I#146 (Late January, 1994)
Powers/Abilities: Salomé is a powerful sorceress, serving twice as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme (although only once officially); only a small number of her abilities have been demonstrated.
She has mystically extended her lifespan: She is over three millennia old, and possibly over 23 millennia old
Salomé usually employs three forms of magic: elemental forces from Earth’s biosphere (ecocentric); mystic energy derived from negative emotions; and necromancy, deriving power from sacrificing others. She occasionally draws on exocentric magic, accessed via invoking mystic principalities, such as the Vishanti.
She channels her elemental power -- composed of all four elements (earth, air, fire, and water), their natural chaos focused by powerful negative emotions -- through mystic dance, and it is usually manifested via green flame.
Emotion focuses her power, and she particularly
gains power from fear and hate. Deprived of such emotions, she is
From the power she gained from such emotions, she could manipulate and control others, transferring fear and hate to make another into a berserker warrior.
She can also project those emotions onto others, leading others to panic and/or act on hateful/violent impulses and painful empaths.
She can project blinding and
incapacitating blasts, mystically track magical energies, project
herself into dreams/nightmares (at least/even if when imprisoned in the
Fallen's banishment dimension),
She can generate an elemental whirlwind to assault her foes
She can teleport herself and others across the planet, at least between her bases.
Carved from beings she had personally slaughtered, her Skins of Necromancy allowed her to view distance objects and beings about which she wished to learn.
She could fly via her large leathery wings and presumably possessed various other capabilities due to her Blood/Fallen status. She could either completely retract these wings or make them invisible at will.
She possessed fanged canine teeth.
Her followers felt that if they died in Salomé's name they would live forever.
Using leper's bones and rune stones, Salomé divined the destiny of others whose destinies were intertwined with hers.
She considered certain material, such as boxwood, cedar, poplar, incense, and silk, to be sensual treasures.
Weight: 136 lbs. (that's the official weight listed; it seems very low for a lean, but muscular woman of 6' tall and with huge wings, and I'd think she might be closer to 180- 200 lbs.; however, perhaps she has porous bones like a bird...)
Skin: Gray (sometimes almost blue in appearance)
(Ghost Rider III#42-43 (fb) - BTS) - In a time before Atlantis (see comments), a group of beings came together to from the Blood. The origins of this group remain unrevealed. They were allies with the original Spirits of Vengeance, and fought to keep the Medallion of Power from the hands of the demon Zarathos and his ilk.
The Blood sought to guard the Medallion, but found that the power contained within was too much for any one being to wield. Zarathos attempted to claim the Medallion, but the Blood and the Spirits of Vengeance opposed him. The Spirits merged with Zarathos within the Medallion. The Blood saw only one solution. The Medallion, which could never be destroyed, was instead, shattered. The pieces of the Medallion, and the powers within were placed within the descendents of two human families. The Blood known as Caretaker was chosen to watch over those families.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - The Blood defeated Zarathos some 25,000 years ago (23,000 BC).
(Spirits of Vengeance#16 (fb)) - Over the
succeeding millennia, the Blood began to break apart. A group of
them turned their backs on their previous mission and chose
instead to worship the demon Zarathos. These beings became known
as the Fallen.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Salomé
was possibly the ancestor or namesake of the millennia-old line of
sorceresses of the same name, some of whom existed in Khauran circa
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#4 (fb) - BTS) - Salomé was
one of the Blood who degenerated into the Fallen, in league with the
demon Zarathos (see comments).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Salomé was among the Fallen's most powerful members.
(Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance#17 (fb) - BTS / Ghost Rider III#45 (fb) - BTS / Darkhold#16 (fb) - BTS / Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the Fallen were banished to some other dimension (see comments).
(Real world history
(see comments)) - Semiramis was the wife of Assyrian King Shamsi-Adad
V. After his passing, she assumed leadership of Assyria.
(Marvel Tarot#1 (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z
(hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian
McNee) - Assyrian Sorceress Queen Semiramis succeeded Zoroaster as Sorcerer Supreme, holding the title from 1300 - 1100 BC (see comments).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Salomé presumably protected the Earth dimension from various threat.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z
(hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian
McNee) (fb) - BTS) - According to the legend, Semiramis had heard about the fame of the
handsome Armenian king Ara. She decided to use the Orb of Agamotto to
see him for herself and she fell instantly in love. She sent messengers
asking Ara to marry her, but he refused. When Salomé heard this, she
gathered the armies of Assyria and marched against Armenia.
battle, which may have taken place in the Ararat valley, Ara was slain.
Semiramis tried unsuccessfully to use her magic to revive him. Driven
mad by her grief, she ordered her people to worship Ara as their God
and Semiramis as their Goddess.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z
(hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Salomé was worshipped in the
Assyrian city Nimrud.
(Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#66 (fb) - BTS) <Millennia ago> - Salomé had a large base -- including tents and a nest-like cave in the hills -- in Nimrud, Assyria.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 (fb) - BTS) - Salomé's crown was formed from "rude Sarpedon's jawbone."(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 (fb) - BTS) - Salomé wore knotted flesh-strips of the Patriarchists at her wrists and ankles.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - In recent years, Salomé was responsible for allowing the Fallen's return to Earth.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z
(hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Salomé herself was only able to access Earth via Nightmare's realm.
(Marvel Comics Presents I#146/3
(fb) - BTS) - Salomé allegedly encountered Dr. Strange in his dreams
366 times, each time causing him to forget their encounters.
(Marvel Comics Presents I#146/3) - Within the nightmare realm, Salomé confronted Strange, taunting him with his forgotten memories of their previous encounters (allegedly 366 of which) and demanding he stand in her mistress' presence. Though he failed to remember her, Strange nonetheless sought to thwart her assaults on Nightmare, and he ultimately cast a spell so that he would remember this encounter when next he saw her dance.
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#4 (fb) - BTS) - While the
rest of the Fallen served as power batteries for Zarathos, Salomé
turned her back on the Fallen.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Absorbing energy intended for Zarathos, Salomé bonded with Earth’s biosphere.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme#61) - Escaping the Fallen's dimension, Salomé arrived on Earth
over the Cypress Hill Cemetery, a nexus point for occult forces; tasting Earth's air and suddenly
reconnected with Earth's elemental force, she was both exhilarated and
intimidated momentarily, but she sensed the residual emotions within
her crown and flesh-strips and felt at home.
Affected by Salomé's emotions, people throughout the city felt fear and hatred, some hiding, while others attacked people and/or performed ritual sacrifices (specifically a trio of women, the Sisters of the Violent Flame).
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme#61 - BTS) - Sensing that Salomé was seizing energy that should
be his (as the Fallen were to nourish him with the potency of terror,
pain, and malice), Zarathos demanded an explanation from Patriarch, who
noted she was "ever the selfish one" and advised that they ignore her for now.
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#4 (fb) - BTS) - Morbius speculated that Salomé had
taken mystical steps to protect herself so that Zarathos could not tap
into her power.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme#61 - BTS) - Inside children's nightmares, Salomé showed them
"how bad they wanted to be." She sought to seduce responsible minds to
give in, just once to despair. Spider-Man aided those affected by
(Morbius I#17 - BTS / Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 - BTS) - She enjoyed the pain of Frank Drake battling Embyrre and Morbius drinking from...some pale-skinned blond woman...Martine?
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 - BTS) - Pained by Salomé's influence and the emotions she generated, the Man-Thing roared in agony.
Salomé's influence made the Scarecrow (Ebenezer Laughton) feel as if he was burning.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme#61 - BTS / Marvel Comics Presents I#146) - Dr. Strange was assaulted by glowing flames.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 - BTS) - As Dr. Strange returned to his destroyed Sanctum, Caretaker advised him that his "nightmare's memory" was the key to his salvation.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme#61) - Salomé confronted Dr. Strange, enjoying his despair but
wishing to consume him complete. When she noted that it was great to
again ensnare him in her dance, this triggered his forgotten memories
of their previous encounters. As Strange's allies (not quite yet the
Midnight Sons) -- Johnny Blaze, Frank Drake, Ghost Rider/Noble Kale/Dan
Ketch, Hannibal King, Morbius, and Vengeance -- arrived, Salomé
considered fashioning a majestic robe from their flesh.
Recognizing her and lacking the
power to face her at this time, Strange conceded defeat when Salomé
challenged him for the title of Sorcerer/Sorceress Supreme. As he
seeming disintegrated, Strange told her she would not be an empress and
would instead find that the role/title meant serving others.
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual#4 (fb)) - Dr. Strange disintegrated but then reconstructed himself, although he was permanently bonded/contaminated with Salomé's elemental energies; he then traveled to a Null-Space dimension to rebuild his power; there he created his Forge Canal base.
In the moment of his defeat, Dr. Strange accessed the unpredictable stasis spiral, and everything except Dr. Strange himself froze in time. Outside of time and space, Dr. Strange left behind his Cloak of Levitation and molded chaotic energies/aetheric discharges into lifelike manifestations of aspects of his own power and persona, the calculating Dr. Vincent Stevens and the ruthless and powerful sorcerer Strange; neither being knew its origin, but both were also suffused with Salomé's elemental energies
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61) - Salomé was furious as Strange's arcane possessions vanished, and when she saw his Cloak of Levitation remaining, she rushed to claim it, only for Victoria Montesi to reach it first; the cloak and Victoria both vanished.
As Salomé raged, Dr. Strange's
allies confronted her, but found themselves helpless against her
The aetheric Strange, embodying Dr. Strange's fury and destructive powers, then appeared and
With Salomé weakened and defeated, Strange and the others departed to confront Zarathos.
(Nightstalkers I#17 (fb) - BTS) - Salomé pondered whether she preferred the term "Sorceress Supreme" or "Sorcerer Supreme," considering that regardless, she would not diminish its stature, boundaries, or power.
(Nightstalkers I#17) - Noting that the Montesi Formula, which had banished/destroyed Earth's vampires, had been broken, Salomé considered the return of the ancient vampire-lord Varnae, and the general increase in vampiric activity across the world. She further considered that while the vampire-lord was no threat to her himself, an army of vampires under his control might be. She resolved that she would visit Varnae and arrange a mutual accommodation where he would help her reap the negative energy she required; or, failing that, she would destroy him utterly.
Visiting a Hydra facility, Salomé
noted how their creation, the Dracula-clone Bloodstorm, had destroyed
its makers. While unable to track the vampire lord, she could sense and
follow eldritch emanations from Bloodstorm, although she wondered if it
was a trap. Observing at the same time in his astral form, Dr. Strange
cloaked his presence.
(Nightstalkers II#18) - Salomé watched as Bloodstorm was summoned back to Varnae, and she traced his trail.
As Varnae and his agents Bloodstorm and Taj Nital confronted Blade, Salomé appeared, offering Varnae to continue spreading fear and giving her power and delight, and she would allow him to crown himself king of the vampires and allow him a small retinue.
Instead, Varnae instructed his agents to "destroy this presumptuous wench." When Bloodstorm approached her, Salomé blasted him down and demanded Varnae's acquiescence; sensing his refusal via his rage, Salomé then guided Blade's Nightstalker allies, Hannibal King and Frank Drake to oppose Varnae, Bloodstorm, and Nital.
Amused at the manipulation, Salomé
departed, noting that regardless of the outcome, she would lose at
least one enemy that night.
(Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#88 (fb) - BTS) - Salomé placed an echo of the deceased Imei Chang's soul inside Imei's skeleton alongside the winged demon Xaos to make the demon itself believe it was Imei.
(Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#65 (fb) - BTS) - In order to gain his aide against Dr. Strange, Salomé used a spell to make Wong -- Imei's fiance and Dr. Strange's longtime assistant -- believe she had resurrected Imei. Due to Xaos' demonic nature the eyes of the allegedly resurrected "Imei" were so sensitive to sunlight she could not even go out and had to remain inside the attic dressing room of the 47th Street Theater Salomé was using as her base. Salomé promised Wong "Imei" would improve over time and might eventually even be able to go out by daylight, which she couldn't do after her resurrection because her eyes were too sensitive to daylight.
Due to the
enchantment, Wong saw "Imei" in her normal human form, rather than the
winged skeleton that was Xaos.
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5 (fb) - BTS / Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#64 (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 10: Salomé entry) - Seeking to rebuild her worship and remake Earth to suit her, Salomé posed as a mortal scholar of the old ways to initiate the curious into her cult. Salomé occupied a empty Broadway theater on 47th street, occassionally offering free lectures there "when necessary."
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5) - In the rafters of her Broadway theater, as Salomé used her skin of necromancy to seek out Dr. Strange's hidden refuge, she sensed Dr. Strange's associates, Michael Morbius and the Jack Russell werewolf (both of whom were mind-controlled by Modred the Mystic) slaughtering her entranced followers just outside the theater; their frenzies of pain were ecstacy and power to her. Nonetheless, considering that the attention the fight brought could hinder her plans, she restored awareness to a group of police officers who had mystically distracted (by Modred?); when the officers called in for back-up, their call was received by Lt. Michael Badilino, who soon joined the conflict as Vengeance.
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5 - BTS) - As Vengeance arrived, Modred released his control over Morbius and Russell and then transported them, followed by Vengeance, to his base with the bar Malice. Apologizing for the manipulation, Modred, alongside his ally Wildpride, convinced them to join him against Salomé, promising to slay her (something he advised them that Dr. Strange would refuse to do).
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5) - As Salomé observed this remotely, she wondered what Modred was really after before being interrupted by a summons by the aetheric Strange (actually an illusion of Strange created and controlled by Modred) to confront her at the Midnight Sons' mausoleum base in the Cypress Hills Cemetery.
Salomé then appeared, revealing her knowledge of the deception before dancing to create an elemental whirlwind to assault her foes. Mystically creating a "madness rent" that warped them all to his "null-space" realm, Modred then dampened his own and his allies' violent emotions to deprive Salomé of their power; leaving her only with her stored energies and preventing her deeparture. Vengeance and Wildpride assaulted Salomé with hellfire and a mystic energy lion, respectively, after which Vengeance hurled the Werewolf into her. Werewolf weathered her weakened blast, but as the Werewolf grabbed her throat, slashing and choking her, Salomé focused her power and blasted him away.
Modred then grew his own wings
before confronting and assaulting Salomé; Vengeance further blasted
Salomé from behind, agonizing her. When she begged Modred to feed her
emotion, promising to do anything for him in return, Modred offered
Salomé the full emotional force of the Midnight Sons after she had
helped him find and execute Strange. Modred's revelation of his true
goals caused Morbius, Vengeance, and the Werewolf to turn against him,
while Salomé, who had apparently been feigning weakness, blasted Modred
in the eyes and ordered him to swear allegiance to her and perhaps she
would let him live.
Comments: Created by David Quinn and Geoff Isherwood.
"In a time before Atlantis" is somewhat nebulous, but...
How old is Salomé?
In Doctor Strange, Sorcerer
Supreme Annual#4, the Shrieking Rain Jihad assaulted the residents of a
restaurant in the World Trade Center. This is clearly a topical
reference, as only 13-15 years have passed in the Marvel Universe since
the Fantastic Four's spaceflight until now, while approximately 50
years have passed in real time. Clearly the destruction of the World
Trade Center buildings in 2001 takes place before the start of the
modern era of the Marvel Universe.
In the 25+ years that have passed in the real world since this story, 5-6 years have passed in the Marvel Universe.
I was going to place Midnight Sons
Unlimited#5 after Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#65 because Salomé
created her Skin of Necromancy in #64, which continued directly into
#65. However, in some stories, she refers to her SkinS of Necromancy,
indicating there are more than one.
In Marvel Comics Presents I#146/3, Salomé references Phoebetor in association with dreams. Phobetor (without that first “e”) is one of the sons of Somnus (aka Hypnos) who are also known as the Oneiroi (the Dreams), along with Morpheus and Phantasos.
In Nightstalkers#17, Salomé was
described as the first woman "in countless millennia -- perhaps ever --
to hold the vaunted position <of Sorcerer/ess Supreme"
That was true of what was known at the time, but a few female Sorcerer Supremes have since been revealed, including one active around 40 years ago at the time of the the stories publication; with the sliding time scale, that's more like 60 years, but still not countless millennia; maybe Salomé just didn't know about the others. Regardless, it has since been revealed:
Sarpedon...I'm not sure if Salomé's enemy was one of these guys, or someone else
Patriarchists...I'm not sure who is intended to be the enemy of Salomé
The historical Semiramis
According to my on-line research
(whatever that's worth), multiple sources note that Semiramis (whose
real/original/Akkadian/Aramaic name was Shammurammat or Shammu-Rammat)
was the wife of Assyrian King Shamshi-Adad V, who ruled from 824-811
BC. When the kind died, his son, Adad-Nirari III, was apparently very
young. Some sources note that Semiramis ruled as regent for 5 years
before Adad-Nirari was old enough to take over as ruler, while others
note that she had considerable influence on her young son/king.
Here's some detailed information on the historical
Semiramis, courtesy of the Ancient History Encyclopedia
(www.ancient.eu/semiramis/), with minor edits:
Sammu-Ramat, more famously known as Semiramis, was the queen regent of the Assyrian Empire (reigned 811-806 BC) who held the throne for her young son Adad Nirari III until he reached maturity. She is also known as Shammuramat or Sammuramat. She was the wife of Shamshi-Adad V (reigned 823-811 BC) and, when he died, she assumed rule until Adad Nirari III came of age, at which time she passed the throne to him.
According to scholar Gwendolyn Leick, “This woman achieved remarkable fame and power in her lifetime and beyond. According to contemporary records, she had considerable influence at the Assyrian court." This would explain how she was able to maintain the throne after her husband’s death. Women were not admitted to positions of authority in the Assyrian Empire, and to have a woman ruler would have been unthinkable unless that particular woman had enough power to take and hold it.
This, however, is precisely the problem with Sammu-Ramat’s reign: there is very little information about what she did and how she went about doing it and some scholars refer to her simply as “an obscure Assyrian lady of the eighth century B.C. of whom we know nothing for certain except that she is named on an inscription as lady of the palace.” It would seem, however, that she was much more than that and, however little may be left to record her reign, there is enough to suggest that she was the equal of her predecessors and secured the kingdom after the death of her husband.
Shamshi-Adad V was the son of King Shalmaneser III and grandson of Ashurnasirpal II. Their successful reigns and military campaigns would have provided Shamshi-Adad V with the stability and resources to begin his own successful reign had it not been for the rebellion of his older brother. Shalmaneser III’s elder son, Ashur-danin-pal, apparently grew tired of waiting for the throne and launched a revolt against Shalmaneser III in 826 BC. Shamshi-Adad V took his father’s side and crushed the rebellion, but this took him six years to accomplish. By the time Ashur-danin-pal was defeated, much of the resources which Shamshi-Adad V would have had at his disposal were gone, and the Assyrian Empire was weakened and unstable.
It is at this time that Sammu-Ramat appears in the historical record. It is not known what year she married the king, but when her husband died and she took the throne, she was able to provide the nation with the stability it needed. Historians have speculated that, since the times seemed so uncertain to the people of Assyria, the successful reign of a woman would have engendered a kind of awe greater than that of a king because so unprecedented. She was powerful enough to have her own obelisk inscribed and placed in prominence in the city of Ashur. It read:
Stele of Sammuramat, queen of Shamshi-Adad, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Mother of Adad Nirari, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Daughter-in-Law of Shalmaneser, King of the Four Regions of the World.
What exactly Sammu-Ramat did during her reign is unknown, but it seems she initiated a number of building projects and may have personally led military campaigns. According to the historian Stephen Bertman, prior to Shamshi-Adad’s death, Sammu-Ramat “took the extraordinary step of accompanying her husband on at least one military campaign, and she is prominently mentioned in royal inscriptions.” After his death, she seems to have continued to lead such campaigns herself, although this, like much else in her reign, has been questioned.
Whatever she did, it stabilized the empire after the civil war and provided her son with a sizeable and secure nation when he came to the throne. It is known that she defeated the Medes and annexed their territory, may have conquered the Armenians and, according to Herodotus, may have built the embankments at Babylon on the Euphrates River which were still famous in his time. What else she did, however, merged with myth in the years after her reign. The historian Susan Wise Bauer comments on this, writing:
The Babylonian princess Sammu-Ramat stepped into the place of power. A woman on the Assyrian throne: it had never been done before, and Sammu-Ramat knew it. The stele she built for herself is at some pains to link her to every available Assyrian king. She is called not only queen of Shamshi-Adad and mother of Adad-Nirari, but also “daughter-in-law of Shalmaneser, king of the four regions.” Sammu-Ramat’s hold on power was so striking that it echoed into the distant historical memory of a people just arriving on the scene. The Greeks remembered her, giving her the Greek name Semiramis. The Greek historian Ctesias says that she was the daughter of a fish-goddess, raised by doves, who married the king of Assyria and gave birth to a son called Ninyas. When her husband died, Semiramis treacherously claimed his throne. The ancient story preserves an echo of Adad-Nirari’s name in Ninyas, the son of the legendary queen; and it is not the only story to hint that Sammu-Ramat seized power in a manner not exactly aboveboard. Another Greek historian, Diodorus, tells us Semiramis convinced her husband to give her power just for five days, to see how well she could manage it. When he agreed, she had him executed and seized the crown for good.
These legends concerning Semiramis and her marriage to Ninyas (also known as Ninus) inspired still more tales of the queen's reign. According to the Gesta Treverorum (12th century AD), an account of the Germanic Treveri tribe, Semiramis even exerted influence over ancient Germania. According to the story, Ninyas had a son by an earlier marriage named Trebeta. Semiramis hated her stepson and saw him as a threat. After Ninus' death, she either exiled him or he, fearing for his life, left Assyria with a band of followers and eventually founded the city of Trier, which would become one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire.
Other ancient accounts, such as those by Diodorus Siculus, also seem to have combined earlier accounts of Sammu-Ramat’s reign with myths and legends relating to the goddess Astarte and Ishtar/Inanna so that, in time, the historical queen became the mythical, semi-divine, Semiramis. This theory is contested, however, and there are those historians who claim Sammu-Ramat had nothing to do with the later figure of Semiramis and even those who claim that Sammu-Ramat never ruled as regent.
The historian Wolfram von Soden, to cite only one example, writes, “That Sammu-Ramat, the Semiramis of Greek literature, was temporarily regent after 810 BC cannot, however, be proven.” Von Soden is not alone in this opinion but other historians, such as Bauer, are just as adamant in their claims that Sammu-Ramat not only reigned over the Assyrian Empire but was the inspiration for the myths and legends surrounding Semiramis.
She remains, therefore, one of the more controversial figures from ancient history and has become more so since the 19th century AD when the Christian minister Alexander Hislop published his book The Two Babylons (originally in 1853 AD and a more popular edition in 1858 AD), linking Semiramis with the whore of Babylon from the biblical Book of Revelation, Chapter 17. Even though The Two Babylons is clearly anti-Catholic propaganda and has no claim to biblical or historical accuracy, it is still cited by certain protestant Christian works as an authority on the subject, and the book therefore contributes to the controversy surrounding Semiramis.
The book claims, to cite only two examples of biblical inaccuracy, that Semiramis was Nimrod’s wife, whereas Chapter 10 of Genesis says no such thing, and famously insists that Semiramis is the whore of Babylon when her name is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. The historical inaccuracies in the work are too numerous to mention. Even so, the book continues to exert a powerful influence over certain readers and their understanding of ancient history in general and Semiramis specifically.
Whether Sammu-Ramat was the model for Semiramis continues to be argued by modern historians, who often cite the same ancient inscriptions for their conflicting arguments, and it does not seem to be a debate that will be settled anytime soon. Based simply on the evidence of Sammu-Ramat being able to erect her own stele at the prestigious city of Ashur, however, it would appear she was a very impressive and very powerful Assyrian queen who was known to later generations as Semiramis.
Profile by Snood.
Special thanks to story writer David Sexton for providing clarification on several matters.
Salomé should be distinguished from:
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5) - In the rafters of her Broadway theater, as Salomé used her skin of necromancy to seek out Dr. Strange's hidden refuge, she sensed Dr. Strange's associates, Michael Morbius and the Jack Russell werewolf (both of whom were mind-controlled by Modred the Mystic) slaughtering her entranced followers just outside the theater.
(Midnight Sons Unlimited#5 - BTS) - Salomé remotely observed as Modred and Wildpride convinced Morbius and Russell to join them against Salomé.
images: (without ads)
Marvel Comics Presents I#146/3, pg. 3, panel 1 (dream self)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61, pg. 2 (full; wings extend off panel)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual#4, pg. 8, panel 2 (full wings, shadowed)
pg. 22, panel 1 (back view, showing wing attachments)
pg. 28, panel 2 (face)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#64, pg. 8, panel 4 (swooping down on sacrifices/prey);
pg. 9, panel 3-4 (skin of necromancy - showing image and inactive);
#65, pg. 8, panel 4 (spell);
#66, last page (entangling Stevens in mystic vines);
Blade: Vampire Hunter I#4, pg 1 (rolling the bones);
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#71, pg. 20, panel 5;
#74, pg. 7, panel 3 (full wings);
#75, pg. 29, panel 1 (limbs cut off);
pg. 34, panel 2 (cast into portal)
Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance#17 (December, 1993) - Howard Mackie (writer), Henry Martinez (pencils), Bud La Rosa (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Ghost Rider III#45 (January, 1994) - Howard Mackie (writer), Ron Garney (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Darkhold#16 (January, 1994) - Chris Cooper (writer), Rurik Tyler (pencils), Bob Downs & Malcom Jones III (inks), Hildy Mesnik (editor)
Midnight Sons Unlimited#4 (January, 1994) - D.G. Chichester (writer), John Hixon & John Bridges (pencilers), Bill Anderson, Rich Rankin, & Scott Koblish (inkers), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#146/3 (Late January, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Geoff Isherwood (artist), Michael Kraiger (assistant editor), Richard Ashford (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#61 (January, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Melvin Rubi (penciler), Fred Harper (inker), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Nightstalkers#17 (March, 1994) - Frank Lovece (writer), Ed Murr (penciler), Frank Turner (inker), Chris Cooper (editor)
Nightstalkers#18 (April, 1994) - Frank Lovece (writer), Doug Wheatley (penciler), Frank Turner (inker), Chris Cooper (editor)
Midnight Sons Unlimited#5 (April, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), John Hixon & Mark Tenney (pencilers), Scott Koblish, Andrew Pepoy, & Rich Rankin (inkers), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#64-66 (April-June, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Melvin Rubi (penciler), Fred Harper (inker), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual#4 (1994) - David Quinn (writer), Kyle Hotz (artist), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#67 (July, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Tenney (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#162/3-163/3 (Early-Late September, 1994) - Chris Cooper (writer), Reggie Jones (penciler/breakdowns), Fred Harper (inker/finishes), Michael Kraeger (assistant editor), Richard Ashford (editor)
Blade: Vampire Hunter I#4-5 (October-November, 1994) - Ian Edginton (writer), Douglas H. Wheatley (penciler), Steve Moncuse (inker), Chris Cooper (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#71 (November, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Peter Gross (artist), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#72 (December, 1994) - David Quinn (writer), Peter Gross (penciler), Peter Gross & Lee Sullivan (inkers), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#73 (January, 1995) - David Quinn (writer), Tenney (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#74 (February, 1995) - David Quinn (writer), Steve Yeowell (artist), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#75 (March, 1995) - David Quinn (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciler/breakdowns), Peter Gross (inker/finishes), Evan Skolnick (editor)
Marvel Tarot (2007) - David Sexton (writer/designer), Doug Sexton (technical consultant), Jeff Christiansen (continuity consultant), Michael Short & Cory Levine (assistant editors), Mark D. Beazley & Jennifer Grunwald (associate editors), Jeff Youngquist (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian McNee) (May, 2009) - David Sexton (writer), Jeff Christiansen (head writer), Madison Carter, Mike Fichera & Stuart Vandal (coordination assistants), Jeff Youngquist & Jennifer Grunwald (editors)
First posted: 04/26/2020
Last updated: 04/26/2020
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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