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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Snakes- serpents in mythology and religion

               Edited, May 27, 2012
Snakes or serpents are present in every culture. I am puzzled as I find more about it. 

To view Snake and Serpents in  Norse Mythology, Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, Africa and Australia ( March blog)  click here


Serpent is a word of Latin origin (from serpens, serpentis "something that creeps, snake") that is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context. Snakes have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_(symbolism)


Ancient Egypt
In Egyptian mythology, Wadjet, or the Green One, was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep, which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of Wadjet, and the Greeks called Buto, a city that was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypt and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic. She was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt with the "goddess" of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the ureaus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. She was also the protecter of women in childbirth and kings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadjet
Wadjet as Wadjet-Bast, depicted as the body of a woman with a lioness head, wearing the uraeus

 
Relief of Wadjet, Hatshepsut temple, Deir el-Bahari, Theban Necropolis, Egypt
Wall relief of Wadjet and Horus in Cradle chapel, temple of Edfu, Egypt

Goddess Isis

 
 Goddess Isis and Osiris 

 Cropped Version of The Bembine Table of Isis from Athanasius Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus focusing on Isis.

Coffin of Penpii, The Lord of Food, 9th-8th cent. BCE
in a painting on an Egyptian sarcophagus, a two-legged snake, called "the lord of food", feeds the god Geb a red fruit.


Geb was the Egyptian god of the Earth and a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis. In later times he could also be depicted as a ram, a bull or a crocodile. Frequently described methodologically as 'father' of snakes. Geb also often occurs as a primeval divine king of Egypt from whom his 'son' Osiris and his 'grand-son' Horus inherited the land after many contending with the disruptive god Seth, brother and killer of Osiris. In the Heliopolitan Ennead (a group of nine gods created in the beginning by the one god Atum or Ra), Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut.Geb was believed to have originally been engaged in eternal sex with Nut, and had to be separated from her by Shu, god of the air.[2] Consequently, in mythological depictions, Geb was shown as a 'man' reclining, sometimes with his phallus still pointed towards the sky goddess Nut.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geb
God geb and Nut.

God Geb and Nut


Horus  Column in the Hathor temple, Hatshepsut temple, 

In Egyptian mythology, Apep (also spelled Apepi, and Aapep, or Apophis in Greek) was an evil god, the deification of darkness and chaos (isfet in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the 8th Dynasty.
Apep formed part of the more complex cosmic system resulting from the identification of Ra as Atum, i.e. the creation of Atum-Ra, and the subsequent merging of the Ogdoad and Ennead systems. Consequently, since Atum-Ra, who was later referred to simply as Ra, was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma'at, Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra.
As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake/serpentcrocodile, or occasionally as a dragon in later years, leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apep

Atum and snake Apep

God Ra in the form of a cat slays the snake-like Apep
 Wall relief of Apep, temple of Edfu, Egypt

Part of a scene of the fourth hour of the Book of the Gates from KV2, tomb of Rameses IV. Analysis: "the time is like a serpent, of which the nocturnal hours are born like goddesses. After its trip they are devoured again by the serpent. The blue triangles represent the water in the underworld".

The so-called Dendera light in one of the crypts of  Hathor temple at the Dendera Temple complex in Egypt, showing the double representation on the right wall of the right wing of the crypt.

Statue of the Egyptian god ANUBIS; showing the attributes of the Greek god HERMES, with whom he was identified, combining Greek and Egyptian mythology as HERMANUBIS). In the VATICAN Museums, VATICAN City 

Anubis is the Greek name fora jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion. In the ancient Egyptian language, Anubis is known as Inpu (variously spelled Anup, Anpu, and Ienpw). According to the Akkadian transcription in the Amarna letters, Anubis' name was vocalized as Anapa. The oldest known mention of Anubis is in the Old Kingdom pyramid texts, where he is associated with the burial of the Pharaoh. At this time, Anubis was the most important god of the dead but he was replaced during the Middle Kingdom by Osiris.

Anubis is a son of Ra in early myths, but later he became known as son of Osiris and Nephthys, and in this role he helped Isis mummify his dead father. Indeed, when the Myth of Osiris and Isis emerged, it was said that when Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris' organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers: during the funerary rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a priest wearing the jackal mask supporting the upright mummy. Anubis' half-brother is Horus the Younger, son of Osiris and Isis.
In later times, during the Ptolemaic period, Anubis was merged with the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The center of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-kaCynopolis, a place whose Greek name simply means "city of dogs". In Book XI of "The Golden Ass" by Apuleius, we find evidence that the worship of this god was maintained in Rome at least up to the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis also appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Although the Greeks and Romans typically scorned Egypt's animal-headed gods as bizarre and primitive (Anubis was known to be mockingly called "Barker" by the Greeks), Anubis was sometimes associated with Sirius in the heavens, and Cerberus in Hades. In his dialogues (e.g. Republic 399e, 592a), Plato has Socrates utter, "by the dog" (kai me ton kuna), "by the dog of Egypt", "by the dog, the god of the Egyptians" (Gorgias, 482b), for emphasis. Anubis is also known as the god of mummification and death. Instead like other jackals Anubis' head was black to resemble the god of death.


In classical mythology, Hermanubis was a god who combined Hermes (Greek mythology) with Anubis (Egyptian mythology). Hermes and Anubis's similar responsibilities (they were both conductors of souls) led to the god Hermanubis. He was popular during the period of Roman domination over Egypt. Depicted as having a human body and jackal head, with the sacred caduceus that belonged to the Greek god Hermes, he represented the Egyptian priesthood. He is the son of Osiris and Nephthys.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermanubis


Jason and the Snake, Vatican

Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus. He was married to the sorceress Medea.


Coat of arms of the House of Visconti, on the Arch-bishops' palace in Piazza Duomo, in Milan, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto,


THE HESPERIDES were the goddesses of the evening and golden light of sunset. The three nymphs were daughters of either Nyx (Night) or the heaven-bearing Titan Atlas. They were entrusted with the care of the tree of the golden apples which was first presented to the goddess Hera by Gaia (Earth) on her wedding day. They were assisted in their task by a hundred-headed guardian drakon named Ladon. Herakles was sent to fetch the apples as one of his twelve labors, and upon slaying the serpent, stole the precious fruit. However, Athena later returned them to the Hesperides.
The Hesperides were also the keepers of other treasures of the god. Perseus obtained from the artifacts he required to slay the Gorgon Medusa.  
The three nymphs and their golden apples were apparently regarded as the source of the golden light of sunset, a phenomena celebrating the bridal of the heavenly gods Zeus and Hera.
http://www.theoi.com/Titan/Hesperides.html

THE HESPERIDES
Date: ca 420 - 410 BC
SUMMARY
Side A: Detail of the three Hesperides, the tree of the Golden Apples and the coiling Drakon. The larger scene depicts the arrival of Medea and the Argonauts in the garden, on their return to Greece from Kolkhis.
A HERACLES & THE HESPERIDES
Date: C3rd AD
SUMMARY
The Twelve Labours of Herakles: the hero plucks the golden apples from the tree of the Hesperides. He wields a club against the guardian drakon coiled around the trunk.

ATHENE (or Athena) was the great Olympian goddess of wise counsel, war, the defense of towns, heroic endeavor, weaving, pottery and other crafts. She was depicted crowned with a crested helm, armed with shield and spear, and wearing the snake-trimmed aigis cloak wrapped around her breast and arm, adorned with the monstrous head of the Gorgon.
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Athena.html

 ATHENA
Date: ca 525 BC
SUMMARY
Detail of Athene from a depiction of Herakles and Apollon struggling over the Delphic tripod. The goddess has a prominent Gorgon's head set in the shoulder of her aigis - a snake-trimmed protective cloak. She also holds a shield and spear, and wears a high-crested helm upon her head.

Athena helmed, holding spear, attended by serpent. Roman copy of Greek statue C4th BC

THE DRAKONES OF MEDEA were a pair of winged, serpentine Drakones which drew the flying chariot of the witch Medea. She summoned them to escape from Korinthos following the murder of King Kreon, his daughter Kreousa and her own children by Jason.
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakonesMedea.html

Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 350 & 391 ff :
"Had she [Medea] not soared away with her winged Serpents [from Thessalia following the murder of King Pelias], she surely must have paid the price. Aloft, over the peak of shady Pelion . . . she fled, and over Othrys . . . [Until] at last, borne on her Vipereae’s [Drakones’] wings, she [Medea] reached Ephyra [Korinthos], Pirene’s town . . . But when her witch’s poison had consumed the new wife [Jason’s new wife Glauke], and the sea on either side had seen the royal palace all in flames, her wicked sword was drenched in her son’s blood; and, winning thus a mother’s vile revenge, she fled from Jason’s sword. Her Dracon team, the Dracones Titaniaci [Titan-Drakones], carried her away to Palladiae [the city of Athens]."
THE FLIGHT OF MEDEA
Date: ca 400 BC
SUMMARY
Detail of Medea fleeing from Korinthos in a flying, serpent-drawn chariot. In the rest of the scene her children lay slain on the altar, while Glauke burns in the palace beside her father King Kreon.


HYDRA LERNAIA was a gigantic, nine-headed water-serpent, which haunted the swamps of Lerna. Herakles was sent to destroy her as one of his twelve labours, but for each of her heads that he decapitated, two more sprang forth. So with the help of Iolaos, he applied burning brands to the severed stumps, cauterizing the wounds and preventing regeneration. In the battle he also crushed a giant crab beneath his heel which had come to assist Hydra. The Hydra and the Crab were afterwards placed amongst the stars by Hera as the Constellations Hydra and Cancer.

Seneca, Medea 700 ff :
"[The witch Medea summons poisonous serpents with a spell invoking the names of the great Drakones :] `In answer to my incantations let Python come . . . Let Hydra return and every serpent cut off by the hand of Hercules, restoring itself by its own destruction. Thou, too, ever-watchful dragon [of the Golden Fleece].'"

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 192 ff :
"The Hydra’s gain from loss, with doubled strength, was all in vain [i.e. against the might of Herakles]."

Ovid, Heroides 9. 87 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Herakles] told of the deeds . . . The fertile serpent that sprang forth again from the fruitful wound, grown rich from her own hurt."
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakonHydra.html

HERACLES & THE HYDRA
Date: ca 525 BC
SUMMARY
Herakles and his squire Iolaos battle the nine-headed Hydra. Iolaos tends a fire ready to cauterize the neck stumps of the serpent.
HERACLES & THE HYDRA
Date: 450 - 500 BC

SUMMARY
Heracles and Iolaos battle the Hydra. The serpent is depicted as thick-bodied brute, with twelve heads sprouting fromits trunk. Ioloas is ready to apply a torch to its severed heads.

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 5. 38 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"[Depicted on the shield of Achilles:] There were the ruthless Gorgon's: through their hair horribly serpents coiled with flickering tongues."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 770 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Medusa] was violated in Minerva's [Athena's] shrine by the Lord of the Sea (Rector Pelagi) [Poseidon]. Jove's [Zeus'] daughter turned away and covered with her shield her virgin's eyes. And then for fitting punishment transformed the Gorgon's lovely hair to loathsome snakes."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 119 ff :
"As a bird, [Medusa] the snake-tressed mother of the flying steed [Pegasus] [was seduced by Poseidon]."

GORGON
Date: ca 460 BC
SUMMARY
A Gorgon's head. The rounded face of the Gorgon is depicted with large staring eyes, studded ears, a broad tusked mouth and protruding tongue. It is surrounded by a ring of coiled serpents.

PERSEUS & MEDUSA
Date: ca 490 BC
SUMMARY
Detail of Medusa, from a scene depicting her flight from the hero Perseus. Her rounded face is monstrous, with wide tusked mouth, protruding tongue, staring eyes, and head circled by a ring of coiled serpents.
GORGON
Date: ca 550 - 500 BC
SUMMARY
A striding Gorgon is depicted with double wings, a broad round face, wide mouth, protruding tongue, beard, staring eyes, and head of serpentine locks.
Gorgon from the temple at Corfu. She has serpents in her hair, wrapped around her waist, and coiling out form her body

PYTHON was a monstrous serpent which Gaia (Mother Earth) appointed to guard the oracle at Delphoi. The beast was sometimes said to have been born from the rotting slime left behind after the great Deluge. When Apollo laid claim to the shrine, he slew the dragon with his arrows. The oracle and festival of the god were then named Pytho and Pythian from the rotting (pythô) corpse of the beast.
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakainaPython.html

APOLLO & PYTHON
Date: ca 470 BC


SUMMARY
Apollo, seated on the omphalos stone of Delphi, and beside the Delphic tripod, shoots arrows at the monster Python, the old guardian of the shrine. The beast is depicted with a woman's head and breast, matching the poet Hesiod's description of Echidna.


 Eugene Delacroix, Apollo Slays Python (detail)

 Apollo holding a lyre supported by a serpent-entwined rock. C2nd BC

 Asclepius  is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Hygiene"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today, although sometimes the caduceus, or staff with two snakes, is mistakenly used instead. He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis. He was one of Apollo's sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean ("the Healer").
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepius



 Asclepius with his serpent-entwined staff

He was the son of Apollo and Coronis. His mother was killed for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a funeral pyre to be consumed, but the unborn child was rescued from her womb. Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine.  


 Asclepius stands bare-chested and holding a serpent-entwined staff.

Asclepius seated holding a serpent-entwined staff, with his serpent-hodling daughter Hygeia (Health).

 Rod of Asclepius

 Zeus  Meilichios

 God Serapis as a snake from http://www.livius.org/gi-gr/glykon/glykon.html

 Evelyn de Morgan, God Mercury/Hermes

 God Hermes

The cult of the snake god Glykon was introduced in in the mid-second century CE by the Greek prophet Alexander of Abonutichus. This is, at least, what we can deduce from the writings by the Greek author Lucian of Samosata (c.120-c.190), who devoted an extremely hostile (and extremely amusing) pamphlet to the charlatan: Alexander, the Oracle Monger.
Ignoring Lucian's bias, we can probably accept from his work that the cult -or at least the snake Alexander venerated- originated in Macedonia, where similar snake cults were already known in the fourth century BCE. (Plutarch tells that the mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias, had become pregnant after she had slept with a snake: Alexander, 2.6.) The prophet Alexander brought the god, a very large snake, to his home town Abonutichus in Paphlagonia and built a temple, which became an important oracle. There is a literary parallel here to the arrival of Asclepius, also venerated as a snake, in Rome.
http://www.livius.org/gi-gr/glykon/glykon.html

Glykon    
Marcus Aurelius is known to have consulted the oracle of Glykon on the Marcomannic Wars, even sacrificing several lions in a river in order to ensure victory on the oracle’s advice–and subsequently failing!

Maenad ca 490 BC In Greek mythology, maenads  were the female followers of Dionysus (Bacchus in the Roman pantheon), the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue.


Laocoön is a Trojan priest of Poseidon (or Neptune), whose rules he had defied, either by marrying and having sons, or by having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the presence of a cult image in a sanctuary. His minor role in the Epic Cycle narrating the Trojan War was of warning the Trojans in vain against accepting the Trojan Horse from the Greeks—"A deadly fraud is this," he said, "devised by the Achaean chiefs!"—and for his subsequent divine execution by two serpents sent to Troy across the sea from the island of Tenedos, where the Greeks had temporarily camped.
Laocoön warned his fellow Trojans against the wooden horse presented to the city by the Greeks. In the AeneidVirgil gives Laocoön the famous line Equo ne credite, Teucri / Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, or "Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." This line is the source of the saying: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."


Laocoön and His Sons in the Vatican


Laocoon, El Greco

MARK ANTONY, with OCTAVIA. 39 BC. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm. Laureate head of Antony and draped bust of Octavia right,  Bacchus standing left on cista mystica, holding cantharus and thyrsus, coiled serpents at sides.
Typhon also Typhoeus, Typhaon or Typhos was the last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, and the most deadly monster of Greek mythology. He was known as the "Father of all monsters"; his wife Echidna was likewise the "Mother of All Monsters."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhon

Zeus armed with a lightning bolt battles the winged, serpent-legged giant Typhon. 540 BC

Alchemical illustration involving the caduceus. Woodcut from Johann Sternhals Ritter-Krieg, Erfurt, 1595.
 Tarot card
St. Louis caduceus



Baphomet
Aleister Crowley ( 1875 – 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other fields, including mountaineering, chess and poetry. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early twentieth century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley

Drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in alchemical tract titled Synosius (1478).



 Emblem of the Theosophical Society



Angera castle ( Varese ). Hall of Justice - Fresco showing Saturn with Ouroboros.


Jewish cemetery - Cimitero ebraico "dei Lupi", Livorno, Italy - tombstone detail


Leviathan the sea-monster, with Behemoth the land-monster and Ziz the air-monster. "And on that day were two monsters parted, a female monster named Leviathan, to dwell in the abysses of the ocean over the fountains of the waters. But the male is named Behemoth, who occupied with his breast a waste wilderness named Duidain." (1 Enoch 60:7-8)


 Eternity. Allegorical caryatid from the Monument to Charles Borromeo in the apse of the Cathedral in Milan (1611). The statue holds in her hand the ouroboros (the snake eating its own tail), a symbol of eternity. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto,


Romanesque church of Saint Mary and Saint David in Kilpeck

 Ouroboros in a wall of the castle of Ptuj (Slovenija)

Lilith  is a character in Jewish mythology, found earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (completed between 500 and 700 AD/CE), who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith
 Lilith, John Collier
21 century Lilith ?
 
This is the Roman hand of Power. The hand as an amulet, can be traced back as far as 800 BC. The ring finger and pinky are bent down to reveal only the thumb, index finger and middle finger. It's also similar to the Benediction gesture.

Old Testament
Michelangelo - The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

 Titian The Fall of Man 

Serpent crosiers were commonly carried by bishops and high Catholic Church officials during the Middle Ages. Although it is claimed that the crosier represents the shepherd's crook, It actually can be traced to the divining staff or augur of Pontifex Maximus of ancient Rome who inherited it from the priests of Babylon.


Serpent  door handle, new St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, California.
The word Abrasax which is far more common in the sources than the variant form Abraxas, was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the “Great Archon”, the princeps of the 365 spheres.
The word is found in Gnostic texts such as the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, and also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri. It was engraved on certain antique gemstones, called on that account Abraxas stones, which were used as amulets or charms.
There are similarities and differences between such figures in reports about Basilides' teaching, ancient Gnostic texts, the larger Greco-Roman magical traditions, and modern magical and esoteric writings. Opinions abound on Abraxas, who in recent centuries has been claimed to be both an Egyptian god and a demon. The Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung wrote a short Gnostic treatise in 1916 called The Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas a God higher than the Christian God and Devil, that combines all opposites into one Being.
According to E. A. Wallis Budge, "as a Pantheus, i.e. All-God, he appears on the amulets with the head of a **** (Phœbus) or of a lion (Ra or Mithras), the body of a man, and his legs are serpents which terminate in scorpions, types of the Agathodaimon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraxas
Gemstone carved with Abrasax, obverse and reverse

Chnoubis is an Egyptian Gnostic solar icon, found most often on gnostic gems, and amulets for protection against poison and disease. It is a composite figure with the head of a lion and the body of a serpent, usually with seven rays emanating from the head, sometimes, with the twelve zodiacal signs. Chnoubis is an aspect of the Gnostic Demiurge, Yaldabaoth, and is associated with Abraxas. Images of Chnoubis are most often found inscribed on gnostic gems, small talismans made from semi-precious stone, that date from the first century onward.
http://symboldictionary.net/?p=991
Chnoubis from http://symboldictionary.net/?p=991


Ophioneus (or Ophion) is the name given of the primordial serpent in some Orphic texts like the Derveni Papyrus; indeed, the primordial creature is often thought of as serpentine in form, including the multiply-animal-headed Phanes in some versions of his story, and Ananke. This serpent is also often said to be Cronos (or Chronos). Not surprisingly, the Orphic idea of a later incarnation of Phanes being Dionysus, through his father Zeus who took serpentine or draconic form to mate with Persephone, then has further ophidian connections when the Titans attack Dionysus and, in the version of this story given by Nonnos, the child Zagreus (Dionysus) transforms into many animal shapes, including a ram-horned serpent–which is often pictured with the Gaulish god Cernunnos and similar figures in Celtic iconography. 
http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/triads-of-antinous-23-the-snake-triad/

 http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/triads-of-antinous-23-the-snake-triad/
The image of the serpent as the embodiment of the wisdom transmitted by Sophia was an emblem used by gnosticism, especially those sects that the more orthodox characterized as "Ophites" ("Serpent People"). The chthonic serpent was one of the earth-animals associated with the cult of Mithras. The Basilisk, the venomous "king of serpents" with the glance that kills, was hatched by a serpent,Pliny the Elder and others thought, from the egg of a cock.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_(symbolism)
Woodblock print of a basilisk from Ulisse AldrovandiMonstrorum historia, 1642  

Eastern religion
Nāga  is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake—specifically the King Cobra, found in Hinduism and Buddhism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C4%81ga

A Hoysala sculpture of a Naga couple. Halebidu.

 Naga y Nagini, Bhuvanesvar, India

Nagashila, a stone cut carving representing the snake Gods are typically found under a Peepal tree outside most (South) Indian temples. Typically its a set of three idols containing first one as Adi seshu, second one Naga raja with snakes in his hands as amution and a third one has a pair of snakes.

Krishna dancing on the Kaliya serpent, National Museun of India

The story of Kalinga Mardhana / Kaliya Daman. Krishna dancing over Kāliyā after subduing him. The wives of Kaliya plead for mercy. Anonymous image; copyright expired in India 60 years after publication (i.e. by 1940).

One of young Krishna's most popular feats in Vraja is his triumph over the serpent Kaliya who polluted the Yamuna River. This battle may be symbolic of the conflict between cults of Krishna worshipers and serpent (naga) worshipers. 1800

God Shiva

In Hindu (Vedic) tradition, Shesha  or Sheshanaag (Shesha the Naga)  is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an Avatar of the Supreme God known as Sankarshan.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shesha

 Vishnu resting on Ananta-Shesha, with Lakshmi massaging His "lotus feet."

 Vishnu sheltered by the five-headed Shesha, Parsurameswar Temple
The goddess Manasā in a dense jungle landscape with snakes, seated on a swan and with her left foot resting on a lotus flower." 1895

Manasa  is a Hindu folk goddess of snakes, worshipped mainly in Bengal and other parts of northeastern India, chiefly for the prevention and cure of snakebite and also for fertility and prosperity. Manasa is the sister of Vasuki, king of Nāgas (snakes) and wife of sage Jagatkāru (Jaratkāru). She is also known as Vishahara (the destroyer of poison), Jagadgaurī, Nityā (eternal) and Padmavati.[2]
Her myths emphasize her bad temper and unhappiness, due to rejection by her father Shiva and her husband, and the hatred of her stepmother, Chandi (Shiva's wife, identified with Parvati in this context).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manasa

Manasa, Kalighat 19th century

Lakshmi
Lakshmi  or Lakumi  is the Hindugoddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm.
In Greek/Roman  mythology Venus/Aphrodite were embodiment of beauty, grace , and charm.

 
We can see the references where lord Vishnu lies on the Shesha snake and accompanied by his two wives. Vishnu  is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God.
The name Viṣṇu is Rigvedic, denoting a minor deity personifying light and the Sun. In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshiped directly or in the form of his ten avatara, most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna.
The Trimurti  is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer. These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu

The antlered deity of the Gundestrup cauldron, commonly identified with Cernunnos, holding a ram-horned serpent and a torc.

 A statue of the Buddha sheltered by the naga Mucalinda at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai. The golden chedi of the temple forms the backdrop.

This motif recalls the story of the Buddha and the serpent king Mucalinda: as the Buddha sat beneath a tree engrossed in meditation, Mucalinda came up from the roots of the tree to shield the Buddha from a tempest that was just beginning to arise.   
  
Buddhist Trinity Cambodia, Bayon style, 13th century
 Gigantic naga protecting Buddha amongst the other sculptures of Bunleua Sulilat's Sala Keoku.

Goddess Tara Buddhism