one scholar's version of events
Stop me if you've heard this one.
Once there was a god.
He had many names. The Sumerians knew him - Thousands of years later, the Phoenicians knew him as they sailed their ships on the Mediterranean. Their country-fied neighbors the Hebrews (skeptical of the gods of other peoples) called him דָּגוֹן. Transliterated into English, his names sounded like what he's still called all these millennia and horrors later - Dagon.
He was a god of many things; grain and fertility, and sometimes the sea when the Phoenicians took his name with them out into deep waters. (It was a pun, you see, his name sounded very much like their word for 'fish'). Dagon liked puns, almost as much as he liked growing fins and swimming in his mother Athirat's ocean. He had a son, Ba'al Hadad, the Lord of Thunder, and a daughter Anat, the virgin goddess of war and strife, and all the gods of the Canaanites bowed together to El and his wife Asherah, the Father and Mother of them all.
Their people, the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, did things in their name - they built temples in high places and made sacrifices, they sailed ships to Greece, Sicily, Egypt, and points beyond. With its many gods, with its household spirits, the faith of the Canaanites was shaped by their position between the Egyptian world and the Mesopotamian world. For a time the Canaanites ruled Egypt and Ba'al Hadad and Set wore each other's faces and adopted each other's guises. What could one say, those were different times?
Then a new god came. There's still some debate about where - a new faith among the shepherds of the hills? Yet another import from Egypt? Hard to say. What mattered is that this new God and his followers had power, and luck, and bravery; and they won. Oh the name of the Canaanites survived for generations, but the worshipers of the new God thrived while the Canaanites suffered, their power dwindling as their worship faded. When all was said and done, by the time the Romans came, the legacy of the Canaanite gods had been largely forgotten. Then the new God did something else - but that is decidedly a story for another time.
The Canaanite gods generally returned to their respective realms, dwelling there amid the shades of their followers, and many are content, at least for now. What had mortals mattered, anyway?
But the truth was they had mattered to Dagon; when no fishermen said his name, when no farmers called on him, what was he? It didn't take him long to learn what he was now; a monster! The followers of the one God had told tales of the gods they'd defeated, transforming them into unholy demons, and when a god is a demon in the eyes of mortals, so he becomes one with enough time. And enough anger. In disguise, he wandered the Earth in various guises, before he finally realized he'd neglected half his realm for these ungrateful Surface-Men - and made the decision to go Below.
Down below the sea he learned things. From men, from creatures, and other things. He met castaways from lost Lemuria, dreaming of the great day of Jubilee, and they taught him rituals no longer practiced on the Surface. And down Below, amid great sorcery and terrible spells, he made contact with - well, I can't say that name here. Its name is Unspeakable. But he found It, and it told him things, and showed him things - gateways to great and terrible power beyond that of his fellow gods, gateways to power that could be his if he but spoke the Unspeakable name. He hesitated, it's said, knowing the consequences of that Name even for a god - but his followers on the Surface had long since abandoned him, and those Below hungered for his power - just as he too hungered for their worship.
So he said that name - and - well, the rules are different for gods. He has a new face now, and new eyes to see, and new limbs to feel - and new power. He has his own realm now, and a bride from the realms of the Olympians, and children. Vast numbers of children, as many as all the fish in all the seas. In this realm, He sleeps, bloated with the power of the Unspeakable Name, and dreams of the day when He will awaken and the world that turned its back on Dagon will learn His name and see the power of His true children.
All roads lead to Dagon!
He comes! He comes!
Ia! Ia! Dagon fhtgan!
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Edited by Avenger Assembled