Whether literal or metaphorical...

Hi, guys! How are you? I’ve recently come across the following passage from Timothy Beals’ “Religion and its monsters”:

“As in the Enuma Elish, moreover, both chaos monster slayers, Baal and Anat, are themselves often figures of chaos more than order. Baal brings not only rains, but also storms and lightning, which represent cosmic chaos more than they do peace, harmony and fertility. And just before Baal’s messengers arrive at Anat’s palace, she is depicted battling in the valley between two towns, “the people of the seashore” and “the populace of the sunrise”, which may be metaphors for the transition between day and night (i.e, when the sun meets the sea on the horizon). Whether literal or metaphorical, her passion for the chaos of war is striking, as she adorns herself with severed heads and arms and revels in neck-deep gore.”

I assumed that the expression “whether…” refers to “her passion”: be it literal or metaphorical, her wild behavior has a strong impact on the reader. Nonetheless, a friend suggested that the clause “whether…” could be referring to the previous two expressions - “the people of the seashore and the populare of the sunrise” which, according to the author, might be metaphors for the transition between day and night.

My question is:

Is my friend’s reading gramatically possible? If so, do you think it is likely for this passage?

Thank you all, as always.


I think the phrase refers to her passion. You are correct. Your friend is mistaken.

Thanks a lot for helping me out, you guys are always very kind!