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Sumerian Goddess Myths (4000 -2400 BCE)
This unit will focus on studying some of the popular myths and archetypes of the ancient Iraq, specifically in the southern region called Sumer. The early Sumerians were master irrigators, and their mythology was tied to the earth. The literature in this unit promotes various nature myths that explained the arrangements and structures of their agrarian surroundings. Because of the importance of fertility and birth to this culture, the female was prioritized, often symbolized by a cow or bull — a universal fertility symbol.

MAP SOURCE:

http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/o/x/oxf3/map_sumer.gif

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Unit 1 Introduction
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

“Mesopotamia” means the “Land Between the Rivers,” in this case the Tigris and Euphrates. If you look at a satellite map of the Near East, you’ll notice a clear distinction between desert and fertile lands. The cultures that lived here became great because they were technologically resourceful, building irrigation canals, dams, and levees that seized control of marshy swampland and converting it to a hospitable and idyllic environment. This region is called the Fertile Crescent because of these intricate river systems that brought nourishing waters to an otherwise dry land. If you think about the way people lived their lives before the arrival of the Sumerians (about 4500-4000 BCE), we would find several cultures establishing homes on rich farmlands, but also many nomadic clans of hunters and gatherers. One problem with hunting and gathering is that these cultures may only eat what they can caught, which meant that their food sources were inconsistent and unpredictable at best. Living their daily existence in a constant state of fear prevented them from burgeoning into great civilizations. It also meant that they moved around a lot and never firmly established a home or a cultural tie to one region. In prehistory, humans, in essence, lived more like animals. Nomadic cultures of hunters would prey on sacred animals that were abundant, such as the buffalo were to the Native American tribes of the Midwest. These hunters would perform rituals and ceremonies that either encouraged the gods to continue providing these animals for mankind’s survival, or they would pray to the animals themselves, as the creatures were sometimes considered to be gods incarnate that were willingly sacrificing their own lives for the humans. The Sumerians, on the other hand, were able to develop a highly advanced culture due to the relative comfort and control of their food supplies. They engineered an elaborate system of canals and dikes to direct the flow of water from the boggy swampland of southern Iraq to their fields, allowing them to change a wasteland into a cultural and commercial paradise. The Sumerians also invented dry underground storehouses for their grains, often allowing them to save enough food to feed their communities for seven years in case of drought. This reliable stream of food allowed them to devote time to developing art, writing, law, and storytelling. As the first culture to invent writing, the Sumerians were able to immortalize their culture for us to study today. Their writing was called cuneiform, made by pressing sharpened reed tips into wet clay tablets which would then be placed atop their roofs to allow the sun to bake them dry. Most of their writings were simple records of business transactions, sort of like getting a rock for a receipt, but thousands of narrative tablets exist, at least in part, that contain the mythology of a distant and odd pantheon. Most mythological cultures viewed their universe in three main parts: the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. In ancient Sumer, these locations were brought to life by the

Unit 1 Introduction

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gods of these designated functions: An (sky), Ki (earth), and Kur (underworld). As you read further in the unit, you will see that these names also become incorporated into the names of other characters and locations too: An, for example, also make up part of the names Inanna and Nanna; Enki is composed of the components En (=lord) and Ki (=earth); and Kur will appear in the names of some strangely invented creatures called the kurgarra creatures, who can freely pass into and out of the underworld. You will also notice many references to mountains, but you will learn that these are different kinds of mountains, if you look closely. One type is simply high ground on which their temples were constructed (hursag = foothills). These highland areas afforded security from devastating floods that sometimes would inundate the entire area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Mesopotamia), thereby making them suitable locations for worship. Another type of mountain would be a reference to the Zagros Mountains, which are located in western Iran. From Sumer, you could look to the east and see these mountains in the distance, where the sun (Utu, or Shamash) was said to rise from the mountains. Later in history, these mountains would supply a steady stream of warriors who invaded Mesopotamia for their resources, since the mountain people had no organized agriculture. Therefore, the mountain range became synonymous with evil, as evil people kept sweeping downhill from there. The mountain became the visible embodiment of the underworld, perhaps an extension of it. We see references top the mountains in Enki and the World Order. Creation is couched into sexual terms in Sumer, a natural extension of their agricultural livelihoods. In their attempt to understand their surroundings, the Sumerians noticed the continual act of creation all around them, always made possible by the joining of opposite forces. By applying these ideas to human terms (by anthropomorphizing nature to make it more accessible to humans), the myths join us humans to the greater world of life. Yes, we are biased when we look at other creatures through human eyes, but this allows us to understand our nature better. Throughout this unit, focus on both the interactions of the characters as well as their growth and development. The union of Enki (water) and Ninhursag (earth) should appear to be a perfect match and thereby fostering new life. Notice that Enki (a masculine god) uses his water (his semen) to fertilize Ninhursag (a female womb force) and their various daughters. Why would the gods engage in sex like humans do? By adapting human characteristics onto these forces of Nature, we acknowledge that we see ourselves intimately connected to the world around us. Humans cannot understand Nature until we see ourselves in it or if Nature appears to act in more familiar (human) terms. Also take note of Inanna’s growth from a little girl into a powerful goddess of love and war. She begins as a prepubescent girl dreaming about her future as a woman, but these realities also frighten her until she experiences the power of her sexuality and femininity in the later stories. Her collected powers and maturity culminate in her greatest challenge: her descent into the underworld where she nudges the cosmos to continue creation after the harvest. The alternating influence of the earth and underworld explain the cycles of life.

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Mesopotamian Character Glossary
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
Adagbir — the vizier of Enlil; dock mate to the fishermen Adapa (Uan, Oannes) — son of Ea; a priest in the city of Eridu; the first of the Seven Sages (apkallu) who brought art, culture, and civilization to mankind; refused immortality An (called Anu in Babylonian) — “sky”; the uppermost heaven; son of Anshar and Kishar; head of the older generation of gods Anshar (Anšar) — “whole sky”; father of Anu; represents the heavens; the primordial male paired with Kishar, the second set of offspring of Apsu and Tiamat, perhaps the personification of An (sky, heavens) Anunitu (also Annunitum) — Babylonian goddess of childbirth; she is often paired with Ulmašitum, two aspects of Inanna worshipped at Agade; the constellation Pisces Anunnaki (Anukki or Anunna) — the collected group of the older generation of Sumerian fertility gods, led by Anu; the name means “those who Anu sent from heaven to earth”; they were also called Nephilim, meaning “to fall down to earth, to land” or Elohim in the Bible, meaning “these Beings”; in Arabic they are called Jabaariyn, meaning “the mighty ones,” and in Aramic (Hebrew) they are named Gibborim, meaning “the mighty or majestic ones”; they are also called Neteru (Natur),which is an Egyptian term for Anunnaki Anzu — the monstrous, lion-headed eagle (thunderbird) and doorkeeper of Ellil; his name means “heavy rain” or “slingstone,” and he flaps his wings to create windstorms; he once tried to steal the Holy me from Enki Asag (also Asakku) — the demon of the mountains who is defeated by Nintura (or Adad/Iškur); hideous in appearance, he caused fish to boil alive in the rivers; born of An and Ki, he mated with the kur (mountains) to form demon offspring; killed humans with head fevers Atrahasis (also Ziusudra, Ziusura, or Xisuthros in Sumerian) — his name means “Surpassing Wise” or “Extra Wise”; he is the hero of the Mesopotamian flood story; parallel character to Utnapishtim from The Epic of Gilgamesh and to Noah in Genesis 5-9. Bau (or Baba) — protector mother goddess and a goddess of healing; worshipped in Lagaš; daughter of An and wife of Ningirsu Bel (or Baal) — this name is a title (meaning “lord”) that was associated with numerous Near East gods, including Marduk (Babylon), Assur (Assyria), and Nintura (Sumeria) Belet-ili (another name for Ninhursag, Nintu, Ninmah, or Mami, and sometimes Lapis Lazuli Brick) — “lady of the gods” in Akkadian; Mother Goddess of fertility and creation Belili — “she who always weeps”; an elderly version of Geshtinanna; serves as a family matriarch Belit — another name for Ninlil; her name means “excellent lady”; was the consort of Bel Birtum — husband of Nungal Bull of Heaven — a mythical beast representing seven years’ drought; represents the constellation Taurus; also known as Gugalanna, the husband of Ereshkigal Dagan (Hebrew Dagon) — West Semitic corn god (dagan means “grain”) and inventor of the plough; father of Baal, and second in command to El; was an attendant to Enlil in Sumeria; in Assyria, later, Dagan sits with Nergal as one of the judges of the dead in the underworld Damgalnuna (also called Damkina) — a mother goddess and Babylonian derivative of

Apsu (Abzû) — the domain of fresh (sweet) water that springs from the earth; home to Ea; husband to Tiamat Aruru (also called Ninhursag, Nintu, Mami, etc.) — creation goddess who creates mankind and Enkidu

Mesopotamian Character Glossary
Ninhursag; wife of Ea (Enki); mother to Marduk and Bel; her names means “faithful wife”; associated with the lion and the constellation Ursa Minor (the Wagon of Heaven) Damu — a god of healing and vitality who drives away demons; son of Ninisina, and considered to be either the son of or identical with Ningišzida; pet name of Dumuzi (perhaps meaning “child”) Dumuzi (also called Tammuz or Adonis) — “faithful son” of Enki and Sirtur (Ea and Ninsun), and ancestor to Gilgamesh; Sumerian vegetation and fertility god, but also a god of the underworld; lover of Inanna; he is sometimes the guardian of heaven’s gates (the Gates of Anu) with Gizzida; also known as “Lord of the Sheepfold” and “Lord of the Tree of Life”; his character is based on a shepherd king of Uruk; counterpart to Tammuz, an Akkadian vegetation god; Tammuz’s name is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14 Duranki — the name of Ellil’s temple, meaning “the bond of heaven and earth” E-ana — the name of Inanna’s temple in Uruk, meaning “House of Heaven” E-apsu (or E-abzû) — the name of Enki’s temple at Eridu, meaning “House of Apsu”; called the “mooring post of heaven and earth” E-kur — the name of Enlil’s temple in Nippur, meaning “Mountain House”; often called the “mooring-rope” of heaven and earth E-kurmah — the name of Ninazu’s temple in Nippur, meaning “Great Mountain House” Enbilulu (Enkimdu) — a Sumerian farming god and inspector of canals; a form of Adad (Iškur) Enki (Ea in Babylonian) — god of fresh water, wisdom, spells, and civilization; son of An (Anu) and Nammu; he lived in the Apsu; symbolized by the “goat-fish” (Capticorn), stag’s horns, and an overflowing vase Enlil (Ellil or Illil in Akkadian) — means “Great Mountain,” “wild bull,” and “raging storm”; he is from a younger generation of Sumerian gods, and is god of the wind, especially the destructive winds from the mountains (or attacks from mountain peoples); son of An, brother of Aruru, wife of Ninlil and father of

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Inanna, Adad (Iškur), Nanna (Suen or Sîn), Nergal, Nintura, Nusku, Utu, and others Enkidu (Ea-bani) — means “Created by Ea,” “Lord of the Good Place,” or “The Wild One”; was created by Aruru to be the complement to Gilgamesh; becomes Gilgamesh’s manservant Enkimdu — the god of irrigation and cultivation; his name means “lord of dike and canal”; identified with Enbilulu; son of Enki; one of Marduk’s 50 names Ennugi — “canal inspector of the great gods,” specifically of the underworld canals; the throne bearer of Ellil; son of Ellil; associated with Enkimdu and Enbilulu Ereshkigal — Queen of the Underworld; “queen of the great earth”; “mistress of the earth”; sister of Inanna (Ishtar) Erkalla — the word means “Great City,” and it refers to the underworld Etana — the twelfth king of Kish after the Great Flood; father of Balih Ezina (or Ezina-kusu) — goddess of the growing grain; wife of Enlil; Enki designated Ezina as the goddess who encourages sexual intercourse; her epithet is “bread of the whole world” galla (gallû) — an assortment of demons who haul unfortunate people off to the Underworld Geshtinanna (or Belili in Babylonian) — “lady of wine”; little sister of Dumuzi and daughter of Enki; a wise interpreter of dreams Gibil (or Gerra, or Girra) — deified fire (fire viewed as a god); he is the son of An (or sometimes Nusku) and the Hittite barley goddess Šala; associated with the underworld gods Nergal and Erra; he assumes all aspects of fire’s power, including the burning heat of summer, creative fire in the smith’s furnace or the kiln of the brick maker; often called “the purifier” Gilgamesh — “Old Man Becomes a Young Man”; the king of Uruk; son of Lugalbanda and brother to Inanna; the fifth ruler of the postdiluvian dynasty in Uruk

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Kakka — the vizier (advisor) of Anshar and Anu Ki — the Sumerian word for “earth” and the name of the personified wife of An, both being offspring from the primordial goddess Namma Ki-ur — literally “place” and “roof”; the earth, territory, or “living grounds”; likely a reference to Enlil’s mountain, located in the center of the four corners of the earth Kishar (Kišar) — the primordial female paired with Anshar, the second set of offspring of Apsu and Tiamat, perhaps the personification of Ki (earth) Kulla — patron god of bricks and clayworks, especially evoked to reconstruct temples Kur — the name of the underworld; the name means “mountain,” and it likely refers to the Zagros Mountains to the east, where the sun rose each morning from the underworld kurgarra and galatur — name means “professional mourner”; asexual (androgynous) creatures who can enter and exit the underworld freely (kur means “the Underworld” as well as “the land of the dead personified” and “a river of dead stagnant water that flows through the Underworld”) Kutha (Cuthah) — a Babylonian city that had Nergal as its patron god; thus, Kutha is used as the name of his dwelling lahama — the 50 creatures who served Enki’s bidding; they guard the temple of E-kur; their name means “hairy” Lahamu and Lahmu —”the hairy one”; the female and male protective deities of Enki/Ea in the Apsu (or sometimes associated with Marduk), controlling the sea gate, often depicted holding Enki’s overflowing vase; the first set of offspring of Apsu and Tiamat Lilith — legendary first bride of Adam; she left him to maintain her equality; represents insatiable sexuality; a female demon who appears in Isaiah 34:14 as a participant in the Lord’s Day of Vengeance; in Sumerian, lil means “wind,” “ghost,” or “demon” Lugalbanda — the third ruler of the post-diluvian dynasty in Uruk, ruling for 1,200 years; married to the goddess Ninsun, who are the divine parents of Gilgamesh

Gizzida (also called Giszida, Ningishzida, NinGišzida) — his name means “trusty timber,” “Lord of the Tree of Truth,” or “Lord of the Good Tree”; doorkeeper of Anu; paired with Dumuzi at the Gates of Heaven; pictured often as a serpent with a human head, or as a horned snake (known as Bašmu in Akkadian), stretching 60 leagues long with multiple heads and tongues; later considered to be a god of healing; associated with the constellation Hydra Gugalanna — the first husband of Ereshkigal and father of Ninazu; his name means “canal inspector of An”; associated with Ennugi; father of Ninazu; often symbolized as the “Bull of Heaven” and represented by the constellation Taurus Humbaba (Sumerian Huwawa) — the guardian of the Pine Forest of Lebanon; his face is depicted as the outline of coiled intestines, with lion’s claws for hands, long hair, and whiskers; he is protected by seven layers of radiance (melam and ni); represents the dark side of Nature Hubur — “river that blocks a man’s way”; the river of the Underworld, used to settle disputes Igigi — the collected group of 300 of the younger generation of Babylonian sky gods, led by Ellil Ilawela (Geshtu–e) — “ear”; the god slain for his intelligence and blood in the creation of mankind Inanna (called Ishtar in Babylonian) — goddess of love and war; Sumerian daughter of Enki (or Babylonian daughter of Anu); called “the Queen of Heaven and Earth”; brought the holy me to Uruk, fostering fertility Ishkur (also spelled Iškur; called Adad [or Adda or Addu] in Akkadian) — “rider of the storm”; the storm god, canal gate controller; one of the earliest gods, he was the son of Anu (or Enlil) and brother to Enki; associated with many parallel deities: the Semitic Wer (or Mer), the Hurrian Tešup, the Kassite Buriaš, and the Greek Boreas; the beast of Iškur was the lion-dragon, but the beast of Adad was the bull (storm clouds were called “Adad’s bull-calves”) Isimud (also called Ismû in Akkadian) — meaning “with two faces”; a vizier (advisor) to Enki

Mesopotamian Character Glossary
Lulal — the second son of Inanna, nearly stolen by the galla creatures; patron deity of Bab-tibira (a city given to him after Dumuzi’s death, a city known for its copper manufacturing) Mami (or Mama, another name for Ninhursag, Ninmah, or Nintu) — literally “mother,” referring to the goddess of fertility and creation; undoubtedly the origin of “Mommy” Marduk — the patron god of Babylon, often called “the bull-calf of the sun,” later referred to as Bel or Baal (“Lord”); hero of The Epic of Creation where he slew Tiamat to resore order to the world, thereby earning supreme power and attaining the 50 names Mummu — the vizier (advisor) of Apsu Mushdama — minor deity in charge of architecture Namma (or Nammu) — the mother goddess who gave birth to An, Ki, and Enki; she was associated with the Apsu, perhaps a personification of the subterranean ocean Namtar (or Namtara or Namtaru) — a minor deity who acted as the minister to Ereshkigal in the underworld; son of Enlil and Ninlil; his name means “destiny” or “fate” Nanshe (also Nanše or Nash) — local deity of Lagaš in charge of divination and the interpretation of dreams; the daughter of Enki, she is often depicted with birds and fish; praised for being the benefactor of the socially disadvantaged; she checked the accuracy of weights and measures Narru — minor creator god who “created mankind” and given the title “king of the gods” Nergal (or Erra) — god of the underworld, often responsible for forest fires, fevers, plagues, and war; he was the son of Enlil and Ninlil and the husband of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld; originally, the gods Nergal and Erra were separate deities but were fused together over time Nergal-Meslamta-ea (or -eda) — Nergal’s chief temple at Kutha bore the name Meslam; the word means “the one that rises up from Meslam” Neti (Nedu) — Ereshkigal’s gatekeeper to the Underworld

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Nezila — a minor underworld deity who helps Nungal to arrange “joyous occasions” for the dead Ninazu — Babylonian god of magic and incantations; the son of Ereshkigal (or the second or third son of Enlil and Ninlil) and the father of Ningishzida, Ninazu was the king who stretches measuring lines over the fields; his divine beast was the snake-dragon (mušhuššu), later associated with Marduk Ninbarag (or Ninbara) — a version of Inanna; assisted Namma in creating humans Nindimgul — Nungal’s chief prosecutor in the underworld Ningal (or Nikkal) — goddess of dreams and divination; the wife of Nanna/Sîn (the moon god), with whom she had a fairytale courtship; also mother of the sun god Utu/Shamash; daughter of Enki and Ningikuga Ningikuga — her name means “Lady of the Pure Reed,” and she was the Sumerian goddess of reeds and marshes; goddess of dreams, interpretation, and insight; one of many consorts of Enki; was the daughter of An and Nammu Ningirsu (or Nigir-si) — his name jeans “Lord of Grisu,” and was a local form of Nintura; he was a warrior god, but also a vegetation god in charge of regulating the canals; he was the son of Enlil and Ninmah, husband of Bau, and brother to Nanše and Nisaba; in earlier versions of Anzu, Ningursu (Nintura in later versions) slays Anzu after the bird stole the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil Ningublaga — a minor god appointed by Nanshe to dole out justice; son of Nanna Ninguna (or Ninguenna) — a local fertility goddess from Nippur assisted Namma in creating humans Ninhursag (also called Ninmah, Nintu, Ninsilika, Belet-ili, or Mami) — the great stone land and Mother Goddess; the Womb of Creation; mother of Ninsar, Geshtinanna and Nanshe Ninimma (or Ninima) — birth goddess and goddess of female genitalia; assisted Namma in creating humans

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Nintur — another name for Ninhursag in Enki and Ninhursag Nintura (or Ningursu) — warrior god who fought the enemies of Sumer, primarily those coming from the mountains, such as Anzu or Asag, often symbolized by a winged disk before it shifted onto Utu/Shamash in later times; also a farming god who gave advice regarding cultivation of crops and symbolized by the plough; son of Enlil; was called the “champion of Enlil”; husband of Gula or Bau; his crown was a rainbow Nisaba (or Nissaba or Nun-bar-she-gunu) — goddess of grain (cereal fertility), accounting, and written knowledge; daughter of either An or Enlil; her breasts nourish the fields and her womb gives birth to vegetation and grains; has abundant, flowing hair Nudimmud — “bull-calf of the Sun”; the god Ea in his form as a creator god Nunamnir — another name for Enlil Nungal (or Manungal) — daughter of Ereshkigal and minor deity of the underworld, specifically associated with the temple Ekur in Nippur; married to Birtum Nusku (or Nuska) — the god of light (and fire); the son of Enlil as well as his minister; father to Gibil (Gerra) Papsukkal — vizier (advisor) of the gods; son of Sîn; he informed Sîn and Ea of Ishtar’s plight Puzur-Amurru — The oarsman on Utnapishtim’s boat during the Great Flood Qingu (also spelled “Kingu”) — Tiamat’s chosen consort and leader, and holder of the Tablet of Destinies sagursag (or sajursaj) — a member of the cultic personnel of Inanna Scorpion Men (called Girtablullû) — supernatural beings wearing a horned cap of divinity, having a human head with beard, a human body, the hind legs and talons of a hawk, a snake-headed penis, and a scorpion tail; described in the Dalley text as creatures “Whose aura is frightful, and whose glance is death …. They guard the sun at dawn and dusk” (pg. 96)

Ninisina — her name means “Lady of Isin,” and she was the patron goddess of that city; her epithet was “great doctor of the blackheaded people” due to her healing qualities; she was sometimes called “the great daughter of An; she bore Damu Ninkarrak (or Nin-karak) — goddess of healing; a daughter of Anu Ninkasi — the goddess of beer (especially strong drinks) Ninkura — goddess of the mountain pastures; daughter of Enki and Ninsar Ninlil (also Belit)— a benevolent mother goddess, she is called “merciful mother”; her name means “lady of power”; she was the wife of Enlil Ninmada — a snake charmer in Enlil’s house; assisted Namma in creating humans Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag, Nintu, Beletili, or Mami) — literally “great lady” or “exalted lady,” referring to the goddess of fertility and creation; she acted as midwife when Namma created mankind Ninmena (another name for Ninhursag, Nintu, Beletili, or Mami) — literally “lady of the crown,” referring to the goddess of fertility and creation Ninmug — a goddess of female genitalia; assisted Namma in creating humans Ninsar — mistress of vegetation; daughter of Enki and Ninhursag Ninshubur (or Ninšubur) — advisor to Anu and Inanna (female deity in Sumerian; male in Akkadian); was associated with the god Papsukkal, who was represented by the constellation Orion Ninsikila — another name for Ninhursag in Enki and Ninhursag Ninsun (Sirtur) — “the great wild cow”; she is the great queen of heaven and Gilgamesh’s mother; she is the goddess of wisdom, thus interprets dreams Nintu (another name for Ninhursag, Ninmah, Beletili, or Mami) — literally “birth lady,” referring to the goddess of fertility and creation

Mesopotamian Character Glossary
Shakkan (Akkadian Sumuqan, also Šakkan or Amakandu) — patron god of animals; the herdsman god or the god of wild animals; was given offerings in the poem The Death of Gilgamesh; son of Utu (Shamash) and assumed an identity with the shepherd Shamhat — a divine “harlot” (temple prostitute) from Ishtar’s temple, referred to as “the voluptuous one” Shara — son of Inanna; his epithet was “hero of Anu”; he refuses to attack Anzu after Anzu steals the Tablet of Destinies; patron deity of Umma Sharur (Shar-ur) — the personified weapon (likely a mace) of Nintura (or Ningirsu) who encourages the hero to attack the Asag Shul-a-zida — An’s herdsman Shuzidanna (or Cu-zi-ana) — Enlil’s concubine; assisted Namma in creating humans Siduri (also Sidur) — “the divine winemaker” or “the barmaiden”; sometimes depicted as a sea goddess; a manifestation of Ishtar who dwells at the lip of the sea, beyond the Land of the Living; Dalley calls her “the alewife who lives down by the sea” (pg. 99) Si-lu-igi — the ferryman who helps cover for Enlil Suen (also called Sîn, Nanna, or Ašimbabbar, or other combinations of these names) — the moon god (its symbol is a crescent disk); son of Enlil and Ninlil; married Ningal; father of Utu, Ereshkigal, and Inanna

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Tiamat — “sea”; the salt water personified as a primeval goddess; mother to Anu and Ea Tummal — the chief shrine district of Ninlil, located in Nippur Umul — the afflicted baby brought forth by Enki’s female clay creation after being inseminated by Ninmah. The two gods were playing a drunken contest to create people, the gods’ helpers, but Enki’s creation was far too weak for Ninmah to improve it. Urshanabi (Sumerian Sur-sunamu) — the ferryman to Utnapishtim Utnapishtim also Ut-napishtim, Uta-na-ishtim, Utnapišti, Ziusudra, or Xisuthros) — “He Who Saw Life”; survives the Great Flood in The Epic of Gilgamesh; is a parallel character to Atrahasis and Noah (the Hebrew flood survivor) Uttu – the Spider; weaver of patterns and life desires; daughter of Enki and Ninkura Utu (or Shamash in Babylonian) — the sun god; son of Nanna, and twin brother of Inanna Zamama (or Zababa) — Akkadian warrior god and patron deity of Kish and identified with Nintura (Ningirsu); one of Inanna’s many husbands; his epithet was “Marduk of battle,” and his symbol was the eagle-headed staff Zulummar — a minor creator deity who dug out and pinched the clay to create mankind

Sources:
Black, Jeremy, and Anthony Green. Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1992. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/n/ningizzida.html http://www.pantheon.org/articles/n/nin-gishzida.html http://www.piney.com/BabAnunnki.html http://killeenroos.com/1/SUMEGODS.htm#Younger http://www.maryforrest.com/mythology http://www.themystica.org/mythical-folk/~articles/n/ningikuga.html http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/gods/partnerships/nannaningal.html http://www.geocities.com/garyweb65/sumgods.html

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Enki and Ninhursag
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
Enki and Ninhursag is a fertility/creation story that describes yet another timeline and sequence for creation, when compared with the other two stories that you read for today. Remember that mythological cultures usually had more than one creation story. The Hebrews, for example, had two (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3). Dilmun, the setting of the story “east in Eden,” is a place of purity, where no disease, pain, or suffering exists (mainly because no life has yet been created, being the winter season). “Eden” means “delight,” and a location to the East of this place of delight must be more delightful (the East symbolizes birth and youth, while the west implies death and suffering). Dilmun is thought to have existed on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps in Bahrain, a smaller peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf, south of Sumer. Enki, the sweet waters god, makes a natural match with the Mother Goddess, Ninhursag, who also could be called Mother Earth. Since these personas represent natural identities, their interest in each other makes a lot of sense. The waters will penetrate the sand in a similar way as Enki makes love to Ninhursag. When you see these characters making love, remember that it is symbolic of natural events.

Part 1: THE ARRIVAL OF ENKI
In the first section, Dilmun is referred to as “pure,” which may refer to the primordial world before creation had been completed. We will see many references to purity, and we will see many more references to the purity of the clay to create the humans, such as you will read in Atrahasis. You can see references to the area being one of peace and tranquility, with no sickness, no pain, and no death. The wolf and lion do not harm other creatures, and no harm seems to come to anyone there. This version of Eden might seem familiar to you, but you probably have not contemplated the mythology behind this location. If you recognize that the world has not yet been completed, and further see that no humans exist, we see a world that has not yet been introduced to dualities. The story begins in the season of winter, with the earth in a dormant state. If we view winter as a starting point of creation, then we must also acknowledge that “life” as we understand it must not have yet begun. Only after Enki and Ninhursag join together will we see life exist in the dual forms. If we translate this further, we might see the “purity” referring to the idea of Eden not yet being corrupted. In other words, before the dualities have been set in motion, there was no movement, no action, no life, no cycles, no routines, no order, no death, no pain, and no suffering, etc. In other words, purity of Dilmun might refer to the absence of real life.

Pure are the cities — and you are the ones to whom they are allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Sumer — and you are the ones to whom it is allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Pristine is Dilmun land. After Time had come into being and the holy seasons for growth and rest were finally known, holy Dilmun, the land of the living, the garden of the great gods and earthly paradise, located

eastward in Eden, was the place where Ninhursag, the exalted lady, could be found. There she lived for a season, deep in slumber, in the land that knew neither sickness, nor death or old age. And it was in Dilmun at that time that Enki, the wise god and the sweet waters lord, lay with Ninhursag. He laid her down all alone in Dilmun, and the place where Enki had lain down with his spouse,

ENKI AND Ninhursag
that place was still virginal, that place was still pristine. He laid her down all alone in Dilmun, and the place where Enki had lain down with Ninhursag, that place was virginal, that place was pristine. In Dilmun the raven was not yet cawing, the partridge not cackling. The lion did not slay, the wolf was not carrying off lambs, the dog had not been taught to make kids curl up, and the pig had not learned that grain was to be eaten. When a widow had spread malt on the roof, the birds did not yet eat that malt up there. The pigeon then did not tuck its head under its wing. No eye-diseases said there, “I am the eye disease.” No headache said there, “I am the headache.” No old woman belonging to it said there, “I am an old woman.” No old man belonging to it said there, “I am an old man.” No maiden in her unwashed state resided in the city. No man dredging a river said there, “It is getting dark.” No herald made the rounds in his border district. No singer sang an elulam there. No wailings were wailed in the city’s outskirts there. Ninkisila said to her father Enki, “You have given a city. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given a city, Dilmun. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given a city that has no river quay. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me?” Enki then told Ninhursag, “A city that has no fields, glebe, or furrow will not survive. For Dilmun, I will create long waterways, rivers and canals, whereby water will flow to quench the thirst of all beings and bring abundance to all that lives. When Utu steps up into heaven, fresh waters shall run out of the ground for you from the standing vessels on Eden’s shore, from Nanna’s radiant high temple, and from the mouth of the waters running underground.” Enki then summoned Utu. Together they brought a mist from the depths of the earth and watered the face of the ground. Then Enki created rivers of fertile sweet waters, and he also devised basins and cisterns to store the waters.

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Enki then proclaimed, “May the waters rise up from it into your great basins. May your city drink water aplenty from them. May Dilmun drink water aplenty from them. May your pools of salt water become pools of fresh water!” From these fertile sweet waters flow the four great rivers: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Dilmun was blessed by Enki, who exclaimed, “May your city become an emporium on the quay for the Land. May Dilmun become an emporium on the quay for the Land. May the land of Tukric hand over to you gold from Harali and lapis lazuli. May the land of Meluha load precious desirable cornelian, mec wood of Magan and the best abba wood into large ships for you. May the land of Marhaci yield you precious topazes. May the land of Magan offer you strong, powerful copper, dolerite, u stone and cumin stone. May the Sealand offer you its own ebony wood fit for a king. May the Tent-lands offer you fine multicolored wools. May the land of Elam hand over to you choice wools, its tribute. May the manor of Urim, the royal throne dais, load up into large ships for you sesame, august raiment, and fine cloth. May the wide sea yield you its wealth.” The city’s dwellings are good dwellings. Dilmun’s dwellings are good dwellings. Its grains are little grains, its dates are big dates, its harvests are triple, and its wood is superior wood. At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, when Utu stepped up into heaven, from the standing vessels on Eden’s shore, from Nanna’s radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground, fresh waters ran out of the ground for her. The waters rose up from it into her great basins. Her city drank water aplenty from them. Dilmun drank water aplenty from them. Her pools of salt water indeed became pools of fresh water. Her fields, glebe, and furrows indeed produced grain for her. Her city indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. Dilmun indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, so it indeed happened.

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Questions for Part 1
1. Describe the winter setting in Dilmun, which was “eastward in Eden.” Explain why Dilmun is “pure” and “virginal.” What does this condition really imply about the setting? 2. Why are Enki and Ninhursag a good fit to be a couple (symbolically) [OPINION]

Part 2: The Rapacious Enki
Enki has become very aroused with the Mother Goddess, and they make love. Miraculously, Ninhursag gives birth in nine days’ time to a daughter, Ninsar, Mistress of Vegetation. Through the union of water and earth, vegetation is born. However, the season begins to change, from winter to spring, forcing Ninhursag to depart from Dilmun (the Middle World — the earth — that is situated between the heavens and the underworld) so that she can give birth to other parts of the world. She leaves Enki behind to tend to the waters, and also leaves her daughter Ninsar, who also has magically grown into a full goddess in nine short days. “Ninsar” means “vegetation,” so her birth reflects the new plants that grew after the first combination of water and soil. This reminds me of early Spring, when suddenly an abundance of life springs open. Plants also grow faster than humans do, so the time frame is realistic (to a point). Remember that these ancient cultures placed these gods and natural forces into personified human forms. A human fetus incubates for 9 months, so the plants are given similar timetables, couched into human terms. This is a good time to remind you that Enki is not a person, but the water, and Ninhursag is simply Mother Earth, not a real woman. Taken literally, this is a story appears to be about incest and rape. Metaphorically, it’s about the changing of the seasons and the beauty of the interaction of creative dualities. It’s a story about watering the plants. One day Enki is traveling on the Euphrates River when he sees Ninsar in the distance. He asks his two-faced oarsman, Isimud, to drift toward this woman who reminds him of Ninhursag. He advances on his daughter, who is “curious and eager” to discover sexual relations. They make love, and Ninkura is born, goddess of mountain pastures. If you look more closely at these metaphors, then their union makes logical sense — if Enki is the water, and Ninsar represents the plants, don’t we want the water to seep into BOTH the soil AND the plants? Enki is not an immoral criminal (those are judgments from society, not nature) but he is simply watering the plants. What could be more natural? Don’t we have to water the plants to make them grow? Should one plant be jealous that another receives rain water as well? Ninsar grows with child, and quickly gives birth to Ninkura (mountain pastures). In other words, watering the plants creates a whole field of plants! Not only is this natural, it is necessary. Perhaps this is akin to the season of summer, when the spring plants have had a chance to flourish and dominate an entire field. Similarly, Ninkura is charmed by Enki’s wiles when she becomes curious about a pool of well water in Part 2. Enki makes love to Ninkura, and their union creates another child, Ninimma, a birth goddess and a goddess of female genitalia. Following the repeating patterns of the earlier daughters, Ninimma too grows in nine days and then also gets “watered” by Enki, giving birth to Uttu, the Spider and weaver of patterns and life desires. (NOTE: try to avoid confusing Uttu with another character, Utu, the sun god, who will also be called Shamash.)

ENKI AND Ninhursag
One day, all alone, the wise one, toward Nintu, the country’s mother, Enki, the wise one, toward Nintu, the country’s mother, was digging his phallus into the dikes, plunging his phallus into the reed-beds. The august one pulled his phallus aside and cried out, “No man take me in the marsh!” Enki traveled back to Ninhsrsag and cried out, “By the life’s breath of heaven, I adjure you. Lie down for me in the marsh! Lie down for me in the marsh — that would be joyous!” Enki distributed his semen destined for Damgalnuna. He poured semen into Ninhursag’s womb, and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her two months were two days, but her three months were three days, but her four months were four days, but her five months were five days, but her six months were six days, but her seven months were seven days, but her eight months were eight days, but her nine months were nine days. Nine days later, in the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, without the slightest travail or pain, Nintu, mother of the country, like juniper oil, gave birth to Ninsar, who grew into a woman in nine days. One day, Ninsar went out to the riverbank, and Enki was able to see up there from in the marsh. He said to his minister Isimud, “Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? Is this nice Ninsar not to be kissed?” His minister Isimud answered him, “Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? My master will sail. Let me navigate. He will sail; let me navigate.” First he put his feet in the boat; next he put them on dry land. He clasped her bosom and kissed her. Enki poured semen into her womb, and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her two months were two days, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like

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juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninsar, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Ninkura, who grew into a woman in nine days. One day, Ninkura went out to the riverbank, and Enki was able to see up there from in the marsh. He asked his minister Isimud, “Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? Is this nice Ninkura not to kissed?” His minister Isimud answered him, “Kiss this nice youngster. Kiss this nice Ninkura. My master will sail. Let me navigate.” First Enki put his feet in the boat; next he put them on dry land. He clasped her bosom and kissed her. Enki poured semen into her womb, and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninkura, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Ninimma, who grew into a woman in nine days. One day, Ninimma, in turn, went out to the riverbank. Enki was towing his boat along and was able to see up there. He laid eyes on Ninimma on the riverbank and asked his minister Isimud, “Have I ever kissed one like this youngster? Have I ever made love to one like Ninimma?” His minister Isimud answered him, “My master will sail. Let me navigate. He will sail; let me navigate.” First Enki put his feet in the boat; next he put them on dry land. He clasped her bosom. Lying in her crotch, he made love to the youngster and kissed her. Enki poured semen into Ninimma’s womb, and she conceived semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninimma, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Uttu, the exalted woman, who grew into a woman in nine days.

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Questions for Part 2
3. What do these goddesses represent: Ninhursag — Nintu — Ninsar — Ninkura — Ninimma — Uttu —

4. Why do growth and pregnancy occur in record time? [OPINION] 5. Describe the metaphorical significance of Enki’s relationships with his daughter. (HINT: The actions are not to be taken literally.)

Part 3: Ninhursag’s Warning
By Part 3, Ninhursag realizes that she should warn Uttu about Enki’s lusty advances to prevent her from falling victim to him. She does not appear to be jealous that Enki has been impregnating his children with his seed, perhaps similarly to how the flowers are not jealous that the same bee that pollinates one flower eventually makes it around to hundreds of others, cross-pollinating an entire field of flowers in a single day. Remember, Enki is not a person ... he is water. Interestingly, Uttu is a spider, the weaver of dreams — not a plant. Perhaps this reflects the evolution found in Genesis, where water and earth first make a connection, followed by the appearance of the plants, and then the animals. Maybe Uttu is the representative of the higher-order creatures coming into existence. The spider also spins a web, usually connecting plants to each other, perhaps showing the interconnectivity of progressively diverse creations. The spider also has eight legs that tendril outward, perhaps symbolizing that life extends out in all directions, creating more diversity. Because Uttu is so much different than the others, Enki uses a different approach to charm her. He knocks on her door and asks if he can do anything for her. She tells him to fetch her some cucumbers, apples with their stems sticking out, and grapes in their clusters. So he visits the gardener, collects the food, and returns to Uttu’s house. He sleeps with her too, but she does not feel very well afterward, so she runs to Ninhursag for help. Ninhursag, if you recall, had warned Uttu about Enki’s advances. Why does Enki bring Uttu these particular plants? Well, cucumbers, apples, and grapes all had sexual connotations. The cucumber may resemble the phallus, while the bunch of grapes might parallel the bountiful quantity of eggs inside a female (I like to think of roe, a clump of fish eggs, that collects into a bunch). The apple has long been associated with fertility, perhaps when we look at the stem imbedded into the top of the apple’s flesh (an overt sexual reference — the stem is inserted into the plump, meaty flesh of the fruit, a reference to the vagina). Also, these three plants all contain seeds inside their flesh, perhaps suggesting that the male force will penetrate the flesh to make use of the seeds. If Uttu didn’t get the hint before, she certainly found out what Enki wanted soon enough. Let’s not place all of the blame on Enki, though, because Uttu asks him to deliver these fruits and vegetables, and she would have only done this to explore her own sexuality.

ENKI AND Ninhursag

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Interestingly, this story is where the Garden of Eden gets its apples. I am not aware of a translation of Genesis where Adam and Eve eat an “apple” (the first Christian reference that I am aware of is found in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, published in 1667) . The Bible translations that I see use the word “fruit” exclusively — never “apple.” So, why do we say that Adam and Eve ate an apple? Perhaps its origin comes from this very Sumerian myth. Joseph Campbell discusses the motif of the “one firbidden thing,” and all of us as kids became tempted to do something only after our parents told us to avoid it. It is human nature to explore our curiosity, and this is exactly the issue with both Adam and Eve as well as Enki and his lovers. Remember that many literary connections exist between the world’s literature and the origins of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The Great Goddess Ninhursag spoke to Uttu: “Let me advise you, and may you take heed of my advice. Let me speak words to you and may you heed my words. From the marsh, one man is able to see up here; Enki is able to see up here. When he does, he will set his eyes on you. For a time, young Uttu did follow Ninhursag’s advice. But, one day, Enki spied the young goddess. Alone, he approached her and he asked her, “What may I do for you?” Uttu replied: “Bring me cucumbers in, bring apples with their stems sticking out, and bring grapes in their clusters, and in the house you will indeed have hold of my halter, O Enki, you will indeed have hold of my halter.” When he was filling the earth with water, he filled the dikes with water, he filled the canals with water, he filled the fallows with water. The gardener in his joy rose from the dust and embraced him: “Who are you who brings life to the garden?” Enki identified himself and explained to the gardener what he needed. Immediately, the gardener brought him cucumbers, brought him apples with their stems sticking out, brought him grapes in their clusters, and they filled his lap.

Enki made his face attractive and took a staff in his hand. Enki came to a halt at Uttu’s door and knocked at her house, demanding, “Open up! Open up!” She asked, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am a gardener. If you say ‘yes,’ let me give you cucumbers, apples, and grapes for your delight!” Then Uttu, full of joy, opened her house to Enki. He gave Uttu, the exalted woman, cucumbers, gave her apples with their stems sticking out, and gave her grapes in their clusters. Then he poured beer for her in large measure. Uttu, the exalted woman, moved to the left for him and waved her hands for him. Enki aroused Uttu. He clasped her bosom, and, while lying in her crotch, fondled her thighs, fondled her with his hand. He clasped her bosom while lying in her crotch, made love to the youngster, and kissed her. Enki poured semen into Uttu’s womb, and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. Uttu, the beautiful woman, cried out: “Woe, my thighs!” She cried out: “Woe, my liver! Woe, my heart!”

Questions for Part 3
6. What is Ninhursag’s advice to Uttu?

7. How is Enki’s approach to Uttu different from his advances on the first three daughters?

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Part 4: Ninhursag’s Intervention
In Part 4, Ninhursag removes the semen from Uttu’s body (we don’t know how) and buries it in the ground. In nine days, eight different types of plants pop out of the soil. The birth mother strikes again! Soon afterward, Enki is once again riding in his boat when he spies the new vegetation. Curious about these new plants, Enki devours them all voraciously, and then starts to feel very sick. Ninhursag now leaves Dilmun.

Uttu turned then to Ninhursag for help. Ninhursag then removed the semen from Uttu’s thighs and buried it in the earth. Nine days later, in the place where Ninhursag buried Enki’s seed, eight plants, began to grow. She grew the tree-plant, she grew the honey plant, she grew the vegetable plant, she grew the alfalfa grass, she grew the atutu plant, she grew the actaltal plant, she grew the [du] plant, and she grew the amharu plant. One day, Enki and Isimud were able to see these new plants up there from the marsh. Enki said to Isimud, “I have not determined the destiny of these plants. What is that one? What is that one?” His minister Isimud had the answers for him. Pointing at the closest one, Isimud replied, “My master, this is a tree-plant.” Isimud then proceeded to cut off a piece of the tree-plant and passed it on to Enki, who immediately ate it. The taste of the tree-plant fuelled even more Enki’s desire to know the nature of the other

seven plants left. He asked Isimud about the nature of the seven remaining plants. “My master, this is the honey plant,” he said. Isimud pulled it up for him and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the vegetable plant,” Enki said to Isimud, who cut it off for him, and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the alfalfa grass,” he said to him, who pulled it up for him, and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the atutu plant,” he said to him, who cut it off for him, and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the actaltal plant,” he said to him, who pulled it up for him, and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the [du] plant,” he said to him, who cut it off for him, and Enki ate it. “My master, this is the amharu plant,” he said to him, who pulled it up for him, and Enki ate it. Enki then determined the destiny of the plants. He had them know it in their hearts.

Question for Part 4
8. Explain the symbolism of Enki’s devouring of these eight plants.

Part 5: The Healing powers of Ninhursag
Soon enough, Enki begins to die, and the gods are helpless. A kindly fox (another intermediary) decides to search out Ninhursag himself and convince her to assist the lord of the sweet waters. After all, if all the fresh water (Enki) were to “die,” then life itself would come to an end. However, Enki will not be allowed to pass away. The gods are immortal, but not because the storytellers simply say so. Rather, Enki MUST survive, because life depends on him providing flowing waters to Dilmun.

ENKI AND Ninhursag

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Some students inquire about the fox. Although we never saw the creation of them, foxes, lions, and ravens all are mentioned in this story (and don’t forget the gardener). Remember that these tales are not intended to be scientific explanations of the details, but rather models for the ways in which the world around us operates. But what is the reputation of the fox? Typically, the fox is a slippery, sneaky, and sly character. The fox has been used in fables and folktales countless times, and it almost always carries this reputation. However, would we expect to see a crafty character in Eden? Of course. In Genesis, the serpent plays this role. In Enki and Ninhursag, Enki is called sneaky in several locations. This is another theme that we will see in mythology — the sneaky, tricky god figure who uses his/her craftiness to establish order in the world. Later, in The Power of Myth, Campbell will tell the story of the god who walked between the fields wearing a two-colored hat that would be seen differently depending on the farmer’s vantage point. In mythology, many of the greatest characters will be considered sneaky and unpredictable. In fact, Enki (Ea) will act this way in Atrahasis as well when he disobeys his promise to his fellow gods and reveals the secret plans to Atrahasis about the great flood. We also saw the Hindu gods play tricks on the demons in “The Churning of the Milky Ocean.” Watch for this motif later. Ninhursag lovingly embraces the dying Enki. She carefully places Enki’s head “by her vagina” in a symbolic representation of a birthing posture. Ninhursag, the Earth Mother, will essentially “give birth” to Enki. Recall Joseph Campbell’s comments about the universal motif of being “twice born” or “born again.” This is what is occurring here. Near the end of the story, Ninhursag asks Enki where he hurts, and he replies with eight different areas of pain (from the eight plants that he consumed). Amongst this list is a reference to the mouth (ka). Look for a parallel in the Egyptian unit, where Ka will be one of three forms of a human soul as it leaves the body (through the mouth) on its journey to the afterlife. Also of note is the reference to Enki’s pain in his ribs (ti is the Sumerian words for “rib”). When Ninhursag cures Enki of each disease, she “gives birth” to this energy in different forms. When she rebirths Enki’s rib pain, it arrives in the form of a goddess Ninti, which is an interesting play on words in its original language. “Ninti” means three things: “lady of the rib,” “queen of the months,” and “she who makes life.” Although we don’t appreciate these puns since we don’t speak Sumerian, there is a clear connection to the creation story in Genesis 2. Eve (who was born of Adam’s rib) is also referred to as “she who makes life” or “mother of all living things.” Remember that the Enki story is two or three thousand years older than Genesis (which was written between 1200-400 BCE). We don’t know how long these stories existed in the oral tradition of prehistory. Such references are scattered throughout the literature of the Near East, and a few of them find their way into the Old Testament too. Watch for more connections like these. Enki is eventually cured and humbled. He vows to be more modest in his behavior, and he learns a valuable lesson about being responsible with his watering. Although we can see a lesson at the end here about respecting one’s limits, we should not look for too many morals in these myths. Mythology is not dogmatic, and the authors are not interested in teaching people lessons of proper behavior (except in the ways that we are supposed to manage the dualities). Myths teach us how the world around us operates, not the ways that we should behave in a society. After all, this story is a Nature myth, not a hero myth. Enki and Ninhursag is likely instructing farmers that too much (or too little) irrigation can harm their crops, and that they should not harvest the vegetation before it is ripe, lest they kill their plants.

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What may surprise you is the fact that Sumerian children practiced their grammar by writing this story. In fact, archaeologists have uncovered thousands of practice tablets in old ruins of Sumerian schools. Young schoolchildren would rehearse their grammar by writing out passages from Enki and Ninhursag, much like students in the European Middle Ages rehearsed their language skills by writing out Bible quotes.

Upon realizing what Enki had done, the goddess then cursed the name of Enki: “I will never look at you with a life-giving eye from this moment on. May suffering be inflicted upon you!” With these words, Great Ninhursag disappeared, leaving Enki and Dilmun behind. Death descended on both Enki and the land. The Anunnaki, after trying everything they could, only to fail, sat down in the dust. But a fox was able to speak to Enlil: “If I bring Ninhursag to you, what will be my reward?” Then Enlil answered the fox: “If you bring Ninhursag to me, I shall erect two standards for you in my city, and you will be renowned.” The fox first anointed his body, shook out his fur, and put kohl on his eyes before he embarked on his search. He traveled to Nibru, but Enlil could not help. “You must find the Earth Mother,” he said. He traveled to Urim, but Nanna could not help. “You must find the Earth Mother,” he said. He traveled to Larsa, but Utu could not help. “You must find the Earth Mother,” he said. He traveled to Uruk, but Inanna could not help. “You must find the Earth Mother,” she said. Eventually, the fox located the exalted woman. The fox said to Ninhursag, “I have been to Nibru, but Enlil could not help. I have been to Urim, but Nanna could not help. I have been to Larsa, but Utu could not help. I have been to Uruk, but Inanna could not help. I am seeking refuge with one who is able to bring life from her womb.” He persuaded Ninhursag to return Dilmun: “You will be endowed with the authority to fix great destinies.”

Ninhursag hastened to the temple. The Anunnaki slipped off her garments, made her aware of Enki’s malady, and encouraged her to determine its destiny. Ninhursag made Enki sit by her vagina. She placed her hands on him. Ninhursag asked, “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “The top of my head (ugu-dili) hurts me.” Enki heard Ninhursag’s voice resonate all over his being: “The first seed you ate and made you ill, I take its power into myself and transform it into a newly born god, a younger brother and son to you. I therefore have given birth to the god Ab-u to set your body free.” Thus, she gave birth to Abu out of it. The Great Lady continued her mighty healing ritual, asking Enki for the names of the organs that had been affected. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “The locks of my hair (siki) hurt me.” She gave birth to Ninsikila out of it. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My nose (giri) hurts me.” She gave birth to Ningiriudu out of it. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My mouth (ka) hurts me.” She gave birth to Ninkasi out of it. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My throat (zi) hurts me.” She gave birth to Nazi out of it. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My arm (a) hurts me.” Azimua out of it. She gave birth to

ENKI AND Ninhursag
“My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My ribs (ti) hurt me.” She gave birth to Ninti out of it. “My brother, what part of you hurts you?” “My sides (zag) hurt me.” She gave birth to Ensag out of it. She said: “For the little ones to whom I have given birth, may rewards not be lacking. Ab-u shall become king of the grasses, Ninsikila shall become lord of Magan, Ningiriudu shall marry

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Ninazu, Ninkasi shall be what satisfies the heart, Nazi shall marry Nindara, Azimua shall marry Ningishzida, Ninti shall become the lady of the month, and Ensag shall become lord of Dilmun.” As soon as Ninhursag uttered the last destiny, Enki felt no pain or ache, indeed, as if he had been reborn. Said the Mother Goddess: “From this very moment on, let it be known that I, Ninhursag, the Earth Mother, built a house for my beloved.” Praise be to Mother Nintu. Praise be to Father Enki.

Questions for Part 5
9. How does Ninhursag embrace the dying Enki in order to nurture and heal him?

10. How does this process heal him? What does this indicate about male and female forces?

Enki

Ninhursag

Sources:
http://doormann.tripod.com/enki05.htm http://www.earthstation1.com/EsotericaFiles/Pics/Sumerian/Enki_jk.jpg http://www.earthstation1.com/EsotericaFiles/Pics/Sumerian/Ninhursag_jk.jpg

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Enki and the World Order
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
Here is a story that shows Enki, the god of fresh water, establishing order to the natural world. By sanctifying the Apsu, the groundwater, Enki allows the Anunna to reside in his dwelling, giving the Sumerian gods a home close to the earth. In later stories, the Anunna (or Anunnaki) leave the Apsu and seek a new dwelling in the sky. In this myth, Enki is praised for being an orderly and thoughtful creator, generating a world full of life and harmony. He is described as a bull, a fertility symbol, and the sign of the constellation of Taurus. Enki’s creation is called the “mooring post of heaven and earth,” implying the axis mundi, the point around which the universe revolves. Every mythological culture that had developed agriculture recognized that their home was sacred ground — special land that the gods have blessed. Two common archetypes that represent this world axis are the tree and the mountain. In the Hebrew Torah, for example, we have references to the Tree of Life and Mt. Sinai. Likewise, “The Churning of the Milky Ocean” story from the Hindus fixes the center of creation around a churning mountain, Mt. Mandara. Enki rides around inspecting his creation in his barge, called the “Crown” or the “Stag of the Apsu” (the Apsu is the underground water). He is depicted with water streaming out of him, usually with fish in the stream from his life-giving shoulders. Enlil is called “The Great Mountain” because he represents the wind, thought to originate in the mountains, which are associated with the underworld (kur). In deference to the power of the mountains, the Sumerians erected seven-step ziggurats to serve as temples of worship to these nature gods. Enlil works in conjunction with Enki, agreeing to the details of creation. In the reading, a reference is made to the 50 lahama creatures. Lahama simply means “hairy,” and they are the servants of Enki and often are depicted as the guardians of various gates, such as the entrance to the Apsu. This cast of characters helps the world to become orderly. After the fundamentals of creation were completed, the Anunna gods (or Anunnaki) decide to take up residence in Enki’s dwelling. Later in history, after the Babylonians took over control of the region, Enlil would assume more authority over An and Enki. Most of the readings in this first unit, however, will reflect the Sumerian characters and titles. Perhaps the most memorable scene in this myth is Enki ejaculating from his penis to form the Tigris River. Remember that this is a metaphor that tells us that the Tigris was associated with fertility, life, and birth. The waters from this river and others nourished their gardens and gave them life. This scene also demonstrates their understanding of sexuality and the result of a sexual union. Remember, these gods were made in the image of man.

Part 1: Enki Brings the Water
The second part of the myth shows Enki assigning fates or destinies (roles, tasks) to the other gods, giving them clear responsibilities to assist with a perpetual cycle of creation. This is the act of determining the purpose or destiny of a character or object in nature. We will see a version of this in several stories in the next unit called the “Tablet of Destinies.” Another version of power is something called the holy me (pronounced “may”). The me are the attributes of civilization or the powers of the gods to bestow life on the earth. Look for Inanna to acquire the me in next week’s readings from the Wolkstein text.

ENKI AND The World order
Grandiloquent lord of heaven and earth, selfreliant, father Enki, engendered by a bull, begotten by a wild bull, cherished by Enlil the Great Mountain, beloved by holy An, king, mec tree planted in the Apsu, rising over all lands; great dragon who stands in Eridu, whose shadow covers heaven and earth, a grove of vines extending over the Land, Enki, lord of plenty of the Anunna gods, Nudimmud, mighty one of the E-kur, strong one of heaven and earth! Your great house is founded in the Apsu, the great mooring-post of heaven and earth. Enki, from whom a single glance is enough to unsettle the heart of the mountains, wherever bison are born, where stags are born, where ibex are born, where wild goats are born, in meadows […], in hollows in the heart of the hills, in green […] unvisited by man, you have fixed your gaze on the heart of the Land like a halhal reed. Counting the days and putting the months in their houses, so as to complete the years and to submit the completed years to the assembly for a decision, taking decisions to regularize the days, father Enki, you are the king of the assembled people. You have only to open your mouth for everything to multiply and for plenty to be established. Your branches [grow] green with their fruit […], […] do honor to the gods. […] in its forests is like a fleecy garment. Good sheep and good lambs do honor to […]. When […] the prepared fields, […] will accumulate stockpiles and stacks. […] there is oil, there is milk, produced by the sheepfold and cow-pen. The shepherd sweetly sings his rustic song; the cowherd spends the day rocking his churns. Their products would do honor to the late lunches in the gods’ great dining hall. Your word fills the young man’s heart with vigor, so that like a thick-horned bull he butts about in the courtyard. Your word bestows loveliness on the young woman’s head, so that the people in their settled cities gaze at her in wonder. [2 lines unclear] Enlil, the Great Mountain, has commissioned you to gladden the hearts of lords and rulers and wish them well. Enki, lord of prosperity, lord of wisdom, Lord, the beloved of An, the ornament of Eridu, who establishes commands and decisions, who well understands the decreeing of fates, you close up the days […], and make the months enter their houses. You bring down […] you have reached their number. You make the people dwell

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in their dwelling places […], you make them follow their herdsman [….] [2 lines unclear] You turn weapons away from their houses […], you make the people safe in their dwellings [….] When father Enki goes forth to the inseminated people, good seed will come forth. When Nudimmud goes forth to the good pregnant ewes, good lambs will be born; when he goes forth to the fecund cows, good calves will be born; when he goes forth to the good pregnant goats, good kids will be born. If you go forth to the cultivated fields, to the good germinating fields, stockpiles and stacks can be accumulated on the high plain. If you go forth to the parched areas of the Land [2 lines missing or unclear]. Enki, the king of the Apsu, justly praises himself in his majesty: “My father, the king of heaven and earth, made me famous in heaven and earth. My elder brother, the king of all the lands, gathered up all the divine powers and placed them in my hand. I brought the arts and crafts from the E-kur, the house of Enlil, to my Apsu in Eridu. I am the good semen, begotten by a wild bull; I am the first born of An. I am a great storm rising over the great earth; I am the great lord of the Land. I am the principal among all rulers, the father of all the foreign lands. I am the big brother of the gods; I bring prosperity to perfection. I am the sealkeeper of heaven and earth. I am the wisdom and understanding of all the foreign lands. With An, the king, on An’s dais, I oversee justice. With Enlil, looking out over the lands, I decree good destinies. He has placed in my hands the decreeing of fates in the place where the sun rises. I am cherished by Nintur. I am named with a good name by Ninhursag. I am the leader of the Anunna gods. I was born as the firstborn son of holy An.” After the lord had proclaimed his greatness, after the great prince had eulogized himself, the Anunna gods stood there in prayer and supplication: “Praise be to Enki, the much-praised lord who controls all the arts and crafts, who makes decisions!” In a state of high delight Enki, the king of the Apsu, again justly praises himself in his majesty: “I am the lord, I am one whose word is reliable, I am one who excels in everything. At my command, sheepfolds have been built; cow-pens have been fenced off. When I approach heaven, a rain of

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All the lords and rulers, the incantation-priests of Eridu and the linen-clad priests of Sumer, perform the purification rites of the Apsu for the great prince who has traveled in his land. For father Enki they stand guard in the holy place, the most esteemed place. They [adorn] the chambers [of the shrine], they […] the emplacements, they purify the great shrine of the Apsu [….] They bring there the tall juniper, the pure plant. They organize the holy […] in the great watercourse […] of Enki. Skillfully they build the main stairway of Eridu on the Good Quay. They prepare the sacred uzga shrine, where they utter endless prayers. [7 lines fragmentary or unclear] For Enki, [the carp may be seen] squabbling together, and the suhurmac carp dart among the honey plants, again fighting amongst themselves for the great prince. The ectub carp wave their tails among the small gizi reeds. The lord, the great ruler of the Apsu, issues instructions on board the “Stag of the Apsu” — the great emblem erected in the Apsu, providing protection, its shade extending over the whole land and refreshing the people, the pillar and pole planted in the […] marsh, rising high over all the foreign lands. The noble captain of the lands, the son of Enlil, holds in his hand the sacred punt-pole, a mec tree ornamented in the Apsu that received the supreme powers (holy me) in Eridu, the holy place, the most esteemed place. The hero proudly lifts his head towards the Apsu. [6 lines missing or unclear] Sirsir […], the boatman of the barge, […] the boat for the lord. Ningursu, the captain of the barge, holds the holy sceptre for the lord. The fifty lahama deities of the subterranean waters speak affectionately to him. The stroke-callers, like heavenly gamgam birds, [….] The intrepid king, father Enki […] in the Land. Prosperity was made to burgeon in heaven and on earth for the great prince who travels in the Land. Enki decreed its fate: “Sumer, Great Mountain, land of heaven and earth, trailing glory, bestowing powers on the people from sunrise to sunset, your powers are superior powers, untouchable, and your heart is complex and inscrutable. Like heaven itself, your just matrix, in which gods too can be born, is beyond reach. Giving birth to kings who put on the good diadem, giving birth to lords

abundance rains from heaven. When I approach earth, there is a high carp-flood. When I approach the green meadows, at my word stockpiles and stacks are accumulated. I have built my house, a shrine, in a pure place, and named it with a good name. I have built my Apsu, a shrine, in [Eridu], and decreed a good fate for it. The shade of my house extends over the […] pool. By my house the suhur carp dart among the honey plants, and the ectub carp wave their tails among the small gizi reeds. The small birds chirp in their nests. “The lords pay heed […] to me. I am Enki! They stand before me, praising me. The abgal priests and abrig officials who […] stand before me […] distant days. The enkum and ninkum officiants organise [….] They purify the river for me, they […] the interior of the shrine for me. In my Apsu, sacred songs and incantations resound for me. My barge “Crown,” the “Stag of the Apsu,” transports me there most delightfully. It glides swiftly for me through the great marshes to wherever I have decided; it is obedient to me. The stroke-callers make the oars pull in perfect unison. They sing for me pleasant songs, creating a cheerful mood on the river. Ningursu, the captain of my barge, holds the golden sceptre for me. I am Enki! He is in command of my boat ‘Stag of the Apsu.’ I am the lord! I will travel! I am Enki! I will go forth into my Land! I, the lord who determines the fates, [4 lines unclear.] “I will admire its green cedars. Let the lands of Meluha, Magan, and Dilmun look upon me, upon Enki. Let the Dilmun boats be loaded with timber. Let the Magan boats be loaded sky-high. Let the magilum boats of Meluha transport gold and silver and bring them to Nibru for Enlil, king of all the lands.” He presented animals to those who have no city, to those who have no houses, to the Martu nomads. The Anunna gods address affectionately the great prince who has traveled in his Land: “Lord who rides upon the great powers, the pure powers, who controls the great powers, the numberless powers, foremost in all the breadth of heaven and earth, who received the supreme powers (the holy me) in Eridu, the holy place, the most esteemed place, Enki, lord of heaven and earth — praise!”

ENKI AND The World order
who wear the crown on their heads — your lord, the honored lord, sits with An the king on An’s dais. Your king, the Great Mountain, father Enlil, the father of all the lands, has blocked you impenetrably like a cedar tree. The Anunna, the great gods, have taken up dwellings in your midst, and consume their food in your giguna shrines among the unique and exceptional trees. Household Sumer, may your sheepfolds be built and your cattle multiply, may your giguna touch the skies. May your good temples reach up to heaven. May the Anunna determine the destinies in your midst.” Then he proceeded to the sanctuary of Urim. Enki, lord of the Apsu, decreed its fate: “City that possesses all that is fitting, bathed by water, sturdy bull, altar of abundance that strides across the mountains, rising like the hills, forest of hacur cypresses with broad shade, self-confident! May your perfect powers be well-directed. The Great Mountain Enlil has pronounced your name great in heaven and on earth. City whose fate Enki has decreed, sanctuary of Urim, you shall rise high to heaven!” Then he proceeded to the land of Meluha. Enki, lord of the Apsu, decreed its fate: “Black land, may your trees be great trees, and may your forests be forests of highland mec trees! Chairs made from them will grace royal palaces! May your reeds be great reeds, and may they […]! Heroes shall [employ] them on the battlefield as weapons! May your bulls be great bulls, and may they be bulls of the mountains! May their bellowing be the bellowing of wild bulls of the mountains! The great powers of the gods shall be made perfect for you! May the francolins of the mountains wear cornelian beards! May your birds all be peacocks! May their cries grace royal

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palaces! May all your silver be gold! May all your copper be tin-bronze! Land, may all you possess be plentiful! May your people [thrive]! May your men go forth like bulls against their fellow men!” [2 lines unclear] He cleansed and purified the land of Dilmun. He placed Ninsikila in charge of it. He gave […] for the fish spawn, ate its […] fish, bestowed palms on the cultivated land, and ate its dates. […] Elam and Marhashi […] to devour [….] The king endowed with strength by Enlil destroyed their houses, and demolished their walls. He brought their silver and lapis-lazuli, their treasure, to Enlil, king of all the lands, in Nibru. Enki presented animals to those who have no city, who have no houses, to the Martu nomads. After he had turned his gaze from there, after father Enki had lifted his eyes across the Euphrates, he stood up full of lust like a rampant bull, lifted his penis, ejaculated and filled the Tigris with flowing water. He was like a wild cow mooing for its young in the wild grass, its scorpion-infested cow-pen. The Tigris [thundered] at his side like a rampant bull. By lifting his penis, he brought a bridal gift. The Tigris rejoiced in its heart like a great wild bull, when it was born [….] It brought water, flowing water indeed — its wine will be sweet. It brought barley, mottled barley indeed — the people will eat it. It filled the E-kur, the house of Enlil, with all sorts of things. Enlil was delighted with Enki, and Nibru was glad. The lord put on the diadem as a sign of lordship; he put on the good crown as a sign of kingship, touching the ground on his left side. Plenty came forth out of the earth for him.

Part 2: Enki Decrees the Destinies
Inanna asks why she has not yet received an assignment, and Enki explains that she is young, but will soon become powerful. The Inanna stories will show the growth and development of this goddess as she attains powers over heaven and earth.

Enki, the lord of the destinies, Enki, the king of the Apsu, placed in charge of all this he who holds a sceptre in his right hand, he who with glorious mouth submits to verification the devouring force of Tigris and Euphrates, while

prosperity pours forth from the palace like oil — Enbilulu, the inspector of waterways. He called the marshes and gave them the various species of carp. He spoke to the reedbeds

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the high plain, he of the implements, the farmer of Enlil — Enkimdu, responsible for ditches and dikes. The lord called the cultivated fields, and bestowed on them mottled barley. Enki made chickpeas, lentils, and […] grow. He heaped up into piles the early, mottled and innuha varieties of barley. Enki multiplied the stockpiles and stacks, and with Enlil’s help he enhanced the people’s prosperity. Enki placed in charge of all this she whose head and body are dappled, whose face is covered in syrup, the mistress who causes sexual intercourse, the power of the Land, the life of the black-headed — Ezina, the good bread of the whole world. The great prince fixed a string to the hoe, and organized brick molds. He penetrated the […] like precious oil. Enki placed in charge of them he whose sharp-bladed hoe is a corpse-devouring snake that […], whose brick mold in place is a tidy stack of hulled grain for the ewes — Kulla, who […] bricks in the Land. He tied down the strings and coordinated them with the foundations, and with the power of the assembly he planned a house and performed the purification rituals. The great prince put down the foundations, and laid the bricks. Enki placed in charge of all this he whose foundations once laid do not sag, whose good houses once built do not collapse, whose vaults reach up into the heart of the heavens like a rainbow — Mushdama, Enlil’s master builder. He raised a holy crown over the upland plain. He fastened a lapis-lazuli beard to the high plain, and made it wear a lapis-lazuli headdress. He made this good place perfect with greenery in abundance. He multiplied the animals of the high plain to an appropriate degree; he multiplied the ibex and wild goats of the pastures, and made them copulate. Enki placed in charge of them the hero who is the crown of the high plain, who is the king of the countryside, the great lion of the high plain, the muscular, the hefty, the burly strength of Enlil — Shakkan, the king of the hills. He built the sheepfolds, carried out their cleaning, made the cow-pens, bestowed on them the best fat and cream, and brought luxury to the gods’ dining places. He made the plain, created for greenery, achieve prosperity. Enki placed in charge of all this the king, the good provider of E-

and bestowed on them the old and new growths of reeds. [2 lines missing] He issued a challenge [to Enbilulu]. Enki placed in charge of all this he from whose net no fish escapes, he from whose trap no living thing escapes, he from whose bird-net no bird escapes […] who loves fish. The lord established a shrine, a holy shrine, whose interior is elaborately constructed. He established a shrine in the sea, a holy shrine, whose interior is elaborately constructed. The shrine, whose interior is a tangled thread, is beyond understanding. The shrine’s emplacement is situated by the constellation the Field, the holy upper shrine’s emplacement faces towards the Chariot constellation. Its terrifying awesomeness is a rising wave; its splendor is fearsome. The Anunna gods dare not approach it. [When worshippers come] to refresh their hearts, the palace rejoices. The Anunna stand by with prayers and supplications. They set up a great altar for Enki in the E-engura, for the lord [….] The great prince […] the pelican of the sea […]. He filled the E-kur, the house of Enlil, with goods of all sorts. Enlil was delighted with Enki, and Nibru was glad. Enki placed in charge of all this, over the wide extent of the sea, she who sets sail […] in the holy shrine, who induces sexual intercourse […]. who […] over the enormous high flood of the subterranean waters, the terrifying waves, the inundation of the sea […], who comes forth from the […], the mistress of Sirara, […] — Nanshe. He called to the rain of the heavens. He […] as floating clouds. He made […] rising at the horizon. He turned the mounds into fields [….] Enki placed in charge of all this him who rides on the great storms, who attacks with lightning bolts, the holy bar which blocks the entrance to the interior of heaven, the son of An, the canal inspector of heaven and earth — Ishkur, the bringer of plenty, the son of An. He organized ploughs, yokes and teams. The great prince Enki bestowed the horned oxen that follow the […] tools, he opened up the holy furrows, and made the barley grow on the cultivated fields. Enki placed in charge of them the lord who wears the diadem, the ornament of

ENKI AND The World order
ana, the friend of An, the beloved son-in-law of the youth Suen, the holy spouse of Inanna the mistress, the lady of the great powers who allows sexual intercourse in the open squares of Kulaba — Dumuzi-ucumgal-ana, the friend of An. He filled the E-kur, the house of Enlil, with possessions. Enlil was delighted with Enki and Nibru was glad. He demarcated borders and fixed boundaries. For the Anunna gods, Enki situated dwellings in cities and disposed agricultural land into fields. Enki placed in charge of the whole of heaven and earth the hero, the bull who comes out of the hacur forest bellowing truculently, the youth Utu, the bull standing triumphantly, audaciously, majestically, the father of the Great City, the great herald in the east of holy An, the judge who searches out verdicts for the gods, with a lapis-lazuli beard, rising from the horizon into the holy heavens – Utu, the son born by Ningal. He picked out the tow from the fibers, and set up the loom. Enki greatly perfected the task of women. For Enki, the people […] in […] garments. Enki placed in charge of them the honor of the palace, the dignity of the king — Uttu, the conscientious woman, the silent one. Then, alone lacking any functions, the great woman of heaven, Inanna, lacking any functions — Inanna came in to see her father Enki in his house, weeping to him, and making her complaint to him: “Enlil left it in your hands to confirm the functions of the Anunna, the great gods. Why did you treat me, the woman, in an exceptional manner? I am holy Inanna — where are my functions? “Aruru, Enlil’s sister, Nintur, the lady of giving birth, is to get the holy birth-bricks as her prerogative. She is to carry off the lancet for umbilical cords, the special sand and leeks. She is to get the sila-gara bowl of translucent lapis lazuli [in which to place the afterbirth]. She is to carry off the holy consecrated ala vessel. She is to be the midwife of the land! The birthing of kings and lords is to be in her hands. “My illustrious sister, holy Ninisina, is to get the jewelry of cuba stones. She is to be the mistress of heaven. She is to stand beside An and speak to him whenever she desires. “My illustrious sister, holy Ninmug, is to get the golden chisel and the silver burin. She is to

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carry off her big flint antasura blade. She is to be the metal-worker of the Land. The fitting of the good diadem when a king is born and the crowning with the crown when a lord is born are to be in her hands. “My illustrious sister, holy Nisaba, is to get the measuring-reed. The lapis-lazuli measuring tape is to hang over her arm. She is to proclaim all the great powers. She is to demarcate boundaries and mark borders. She is to be the scribe of the Land. The planning of the gods’ meals is to be in her hands. “Nanshe, the august lady, who rests her feet on the holy pelican, is to be the fisheries inspector of the sea. She is to be responsible for accepting delectable fish and delicious birds from there to go to Nibru for her father Enlil. “But why did you treat me, the woman, in an exceptional manner? I am holy Inanna — where are my functions?” Enki answered his daughter, holy Inanna: “How have I disparaged you? Goddess, how have I disparaged you? How can I enhance you? Maiden Inanna, how have I disparaged you? How can I enhance you? I made you speak as a woman with pleasant voice. I made you go forth [….] I covered […] with a garment. I made you exchange its right side and its left side. I clothed you in garments of women’s power. I put women’s speech in your mouth. I placed in your hands the spindle and the hairpin. I [bestowed unto] you women’s adornment. I settled on you the staff and the crook, with the shepherd’s stick beside them. “Maiden Inanna, how have I disparaged you? How can I enhance you? Amongst the ominous occurrences in the hurly-burly of battle, I shall make you speak vivifying words; and in its midst, although you are not an arabu bird, I shall make you speak ill-omened words also. I made you tangle straight threads; Maiden Inanna, I made you straighten out tangled threads. I made you put on garments; I made you dress in linen. I made you pick out the tow from the fibres; I made you spin with the spindle. I made you color tufted cloth with colored threads. “Inanna, you heap up human heads like piles of dust; you sow heads like seed. Inanna, you destroy what should not be destroyed; you create what should not be created. You remove the

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is restored. In his overflowing heart of mankind, [4 lines unclear] […] lapis-lazuli headdress […] is your prerogative [….]” [10 lines unclear] Praise be to father Enki.

cover from the cem drum of lamentations, Maiden Inana, while shutting up the tigi and adab instruments in their homes. You never grow weary with admirers looking at you. Maiden Inanna, you know nothing of tying the ropes on deep wells. “But now, the heart has overflowed; the Land is restored. Enlil’s heart has overflowed; the Land

Questions for Enki and the World Order
1. For what qualities is Enki being praised? 2. From where did Enki bring the arts and crafts? What is special about this location? 3. Why does Enki call Sumer the “Great Mountain, land of heaven and earth”? 4. Why does Enki say the following about the land of Sumer: “Your king, the Great Mountain, father Enlil, the father of all the lands, has blocked you impenetrably like a cedar tree”? 5. What concept does Enki seem to symbolize? 6. Why is the following passage repeated in this story: “Enki presented animals to those who have no city, who have no houses, to the Martu nomads”? 7. How does Enki create the rivers? What message is communicated through the use of this method? 8. How do you explain Enki’s temple’s interior as “a tangled thread […] beyond understanding”? 9. List the authority that Enki confers onto the following gods and goddesses: Sirsir — Ningursu — Ninsikila — Enbilulu — Nanshe — Ishkur — Enkimdu — Ezina — Kulla — Mushdama — Shakkan — Dumuzi — Utu — Uttu — Enlil — Aruru (Nintur) — Ninisina — Ninmug — Nisaba — Inanna —

Source:
http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.1.1.3&charenc=j#

The inanna Cycle

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The Inanna Cycle
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
In the next four readings from the Inanna text, we will examine the beauty and power of womanhood. In these next few readings, we will see a very clear distinction made between nature and society. Recall that nature typically has a feminine slant in mythology, while society wears the mantle of masculinity. This occurred from the early development of civilizations. The earliest peoples lived in tightly knit families. As the population grew, these families formed clans, and them communities, and then villages. Before the age of the major population centers, people had to provide for their own needs themselves. Later on, societies would assist people by pooling together individuals to perform certain duties in the community so that the labor could be distributed better. Early cultures were very dependent on the land for food, eventually becoming farmers, establishing their plots of land as their homes. This was an improvement from the previous generations who were hunters and gatherers, combing the land and sea for sustenance. These four Inanna stories are sequenced to reveal a more personal facet of growth: the growth of an individual from a child into adulthood. The Inanna stories show the growth of a girl to a woman, and then to a full goddess. These stories were written earlier in the culture’s history, when farming and the feminine were praised for their birthing attributes. Men wanted both their land and their wives to give plentiful birth. Since Inanna (the Goddess of both Love and War) was ultimately a fertility goddess, these four stories explain her growth and development from a fearful, ignorant girl, to an experienced, wise, and potent woman. However, she will battle against her society repeatedly, just as we will see Gilgamesh battle against Nature later in the semester. Our four Inanna stories demonstrate a very clear distinction between nature and society. Recall that nature typically has a feminine slant in mythology, while society wears the mantle of masculinity. This occurred from the early development of civilizations. These four Inanna stories are sequenced to reveal a more personal facet of growth: the growth of an individual from a child into adulthood. The Inanna stories show the growth of a girl to a woman, and then to a full goddess. These stories were written earlier in the culture’s history, when farming and the feminine were praised for their birthing attributes. Men wanted both their land and their wives to give plentiful birth. Since Inanna (the Goddess of both Love and War) was ultimately a fertility goddess, these four stories explain her growth and development from a fearful, ignorant girl, to an experienced, wise, and potent woman. However, she will battle against her society repeatedly, just as we will see Gilgamesh battle against Nature later in the semester. The collection of stories in the Inanna text is arranged from Inanna’s childhood through her adult years as a powerful goddess of love and war. Although these four stories were not written to be placed into this sequence, Diane Wolkstein, the editor of the Inanna text, found that this arrangement allows us to see the growth and development of Inanna from a little girl to a powerful goddess. Therefore, the first story, The Huluppu-Tree, shows Inanna in her youngest form, a prepubescent girl. On page 5, Inanna finds a little tree floating in the Euphrates River. She rescues it and plants it in her holy garden (of Eden). She yearns for the day when this tree will become mature and she will be able to use the wood to make her throne and her marriage bed.

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Reading Guide: The Huluppu-Tree
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

The Huluppu Tree (Wolkstein, 3-9)
Inanna, as a girl, had many fears. Although she is eager to sit on a throne and bark out orders, she is afraid of the changes that will take place in her body as she enters womanhood for the first time. Page 5 tells us that she feared “the word of the Sky God, An” as well as the “word of the Air God, Enlil.” In other translations, we might find the word “word” to more accurately indicate her “fate.” In other words, Inanna feared her fate that her parents had always told her about — that one day she would become a woman and rule over the land. Although she is eager to sit on a throne and bark out orders, she is afraid of the changes that will take place in her body as she enters womanhood for the first time. Most boys are indifferent to puberty, and young men reluctantly accept the fact that our voices and bodies change in awkward ways. Women, on the other hand, go through a different transformation than do the men. A girl who becomes a woman during the advent of her first menstruation suddenly bears a great burden. She can now become pregnant and assume the responsibilities of a woman, caretaker, etc. Many past female students have commented in class about how they feared the “horror stories” from their older sisters about their cycles. In other words, girls have many more fears of womanhood than boys have about manhood. This is important. On page 6, we see that the tree is growing up, but not fast enough for Inanna. Over the course of time, the tree has also collected a group of unwanted visitors — the serpent at the roots, the lionheaded Anzu bird at the top (whose wings can stir great whirlwinds), and a strange, sexually charged woman, Lilith, lodged in the trunk of the tree. All three of these symbols represent Inanna’s fears of womanhood. I strongly urge you to consult pages 141-142 of your Inanna text. You will find a critical essay by Diane Wolkstein that explains these symbols quite well, and all of the critical essays contained in the back of the text serve as “Cliff’s Notes” to the myths. Amongst the creatures in the tree, the serpent represents life, particularly the changes that we go through in life, such as from an asexual being to a sexual one. The bird represents the dominance of the outside forces that weigh down on women and prevent them from exploring the true pleasures of life. Lilith is the fabled first bride of Adam, who refused to mate with him because she demanded equality, which he refused to give her. Lilith dwells in the woods and screams wildly, suggesting the untethered sexuality bursting forth from her body. There is a lovely picture of her on page 6. To rectify this problem, she asks Utu, the sun god, for help, but he refuses. Why? Well, how can Dad help his daughter when she has her first menstrual cycle? Dad will defer to Mom or another trusted female to assist his daughter with her feminine issues. Inanna must find another to “make it better.” She finds her cousin Gilgamesh, a mighty warrior, who swings a 450-pound axe. He hews down the huluppu-tree, carves out a bed and a throne for her, as well as a crown and scepter for him. Page 9 depicts a carving of Inanna and Gilgamesh enjoying a little lunch together, sitting around the remnants of the tree. Gilgamesh will become the great hero of Uruk, and we will read about his exploits during the next few sessions. Chasing away these daemons (intermediaries standing between Inanna and her goals) is his first heroic act, so he begins to make a name for himself here. Also, when we were younger and still afraid of monsters living under our beds, the guidance and assistance of an older sibling can help

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to make it all better (unless you have sadistic siblings!). Remember that Inanna is just beginning to understand that she has power, so perhaps she doesn’t even know that she doesn’t need Gilgamesh.

Questions for The Huluppu-Tree
1. Why does Inanna pluck the huluppu-tree from the Euphrates River? 2. Why does a serpent and bird occupy the tree? What do they symbolize? 3. Why does the sun god Utu refuse to assist Inanna? 4. Why does Gilgamesh kill/chase away the creatures that are living in the tree?

Inanna and the God of Wisdom
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

Reading Guide:

Inanna and the God of Wisdom (Wolkstein, 11-27)
The opening scene is very direct and graphic, but it is also a beautiful depiction of Inanna arriving in her full splendor of womanhood. She leans against an apple tree, because an apple is one of those sexual symbols that we saw from the Enki and Ninhursag story. For your information, the apple tree was a common symbol in Mesopotamia, but not in Israel. When we recall the Genesis creation story, we often refer to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as the “apple tree,” which provides the “apple” that Eve gives to Adam. Keep in mind that the “apple” is not mentioned in Genesis, only the “fruit.” The references to the apple come from Mesopotamia, not Jerusalem. Inanna leans against the apple tree, exposing her sexual organs into the open air. She is reveling in her new state of womanhood — she has arrived! First, recall that Inanna had previously asked Enki for her powers in the story Enki and the World Order. At the time, Inanna was too young to receive her powers, but now she has arrived into womanhood. Inanna has a celebratory meal with Enki, the god of the sweet waters, where they drink lots and lots of beer. While in a state of intoxication, Enki, the god of wisdom and keeper of the holy me (pronounced “may”), hands over his powers to Inanna, one by one. You should notice that Enki offers Inanna powers that come from the whole spectrum of wisdom — from masculine to feminine. First he gives her high priesthood (page 14), then Truth and the holy priestess of heaven (judgment) (page 15). Pages 16-18 list the dozens of other powers that Inanna gained from her grandpa, including some bizarre powers, such as deceit, treachery, the kissing of the phallus, slanderous speech, etc. Many students are shocked to see “the art of prostitution” as one of her many gifts, but we can understand Inanna’s nature better if we examine her identity with the planet Venus, the planet with two opposing personalities: as the morning star and the evening star.

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One interesting feature about the planet Venus is that she appears for 9 months in the western sky after sunset, slowly descending each day until she disappears over the horizon and into the underworld. On the third day, however, she is born again in the eastern sky at sunrise and reside there for another 9 months before becoming invisible for s few weeks, only to reappear in the west all over again. When living in the east, she represents the Goddess of War, contending with the fiery sun. In the west, she takes on the persona of the Goddess of Love, or the “lady of the evening,” which is a euphemism for a prostitute. Over several months, she appears to “go to bed” with several constellations as she descends over the horizon and out of our view. On page 19, after Enki wakes up, he looks around for all of his me, but cannot find them. His advisor informs Enki that he had donated all of his powers to his daughter the night before, and he must be too drunk to remember. Enki sends six types of demons/monsters after Inanna to retrieve the powers. They are depicted on pages 21 and 23 — the enkum-creatures and the lahama monsters, amongst others. These creatures are not gods, but are appropriately labeled as “daemons” because they have godlike powers that can be used to assist the gods with their missions. They can transcend boundaries (cross barriers) that mortal humans cannot, therefore making them intermediaries, creatures that can pass through boundaries to another state of being and often reveal to others how to do the same. They are common in mythology and are powerful forces to contend with. Although they are not angels, they act in similar capacities in these stories. Inanna places the holy me in her “Boat of Heaven.” In the Mesopotamian culture, however, Inanna’s “boat” is really her vagina. She is collecting the godly powers and applying them to her feminine nature, thus creating the all-powerful woman. After several failed attempts, Enki allows Inanna to keep those powers, especially after he learns that she has used some of them to establish temples and houses of worship in the holy city of Uruk. Inanna places the holy me in her “Boat of Heaven.” In our future unit on Egypt, we will see the boat of heaven described as a vessel that transports the sun and the sun god’s retinue. In the Mesopotamian culture, however, Inanna’s “boat” is really her vagina. She is collecting the godly powers and applying them to her feminine nature, thus creating the all-powerful woman. The creatures that Enki sends to retrieve the me cannot penetrate the boat, because Inanna will not allow them inside, perhaps demonstrating that she is learning to take back control over her body. When Inanna arrives back in Uruk, the celebrations begin. Inanna helps to “restore” Uruk back into the hands of woman, and the powerful Inanna teaches the women of Uruk all about their powers. Notice further that Inanna arrives in Uruk with the power of reproduction — a welcome blessing to a land decimated by natural catastrophes (we’ll read those stories shortly). Women are the keepers of sexual power, and it is up to them to determine how and when they use it. Since women were considered to be more closely connected with nature (and men with society), we can see how men and women view their sexuality differently. Just as The Huluppu-Tree story was acted out in ritual ceremony on the spring equinox, Inanna and the God of Wisdom was performed on the fall equinox. Notice that the equinoxes are lines of balance between hours of daylight and hours of nightfall. Crossing the boundary from one season to another suggests growth and change. Notice that Inanna has undergone significant growth in these first two stories.

Questions for Inanna and the God of Wisdom
1. What powers or qualities of Inanna are represented by the opening lines?

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2. What are the first three gifts (Holy me) that Enki bestows to Inanna, and why are they important? 3. Why does Enki act surprised after he sobers up? 4. Why does Enki ask Isimud to retrieve the Boat of Heaven from Inanna? Why does he fail six times? 5. What does Inanna say will occur once the Boat of Heaven enters through the gates of Uruk? What does this mean? 6. What does Inanna do with the Holy me that she has received from Enki? 7. Why does Enki finally offer his blessings on the fate of his lost me? What has occurred symbolically?

The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

Reading Guide:

The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (Wolkstein, 29-49)
In The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi, we see Inanna prepared to take a husband, Dumuzi, which will complete her ascent into womanhood. Although Inanna is not an Earth Mother goddess, she still represents fertility and has earthly ties. She is descended from the moon god and moon goddess, so she is fully vested in her feminine qualities (mutability, connection to nature, etc.). Because of this, she is consistently associated with the earth and its cycles, especially pertaining to agriculture. On page 30, Utu, the sun god and brother, tells Inanna that the harvest is here, and that he will be bringing her the grains and fruits of the fields. Utu will bring Inanna some flax, an ancient grain that resembles wheat, so that it can be transformed into something valuable to human beings, crushed into flour or threaded into linen sheets. Inanna asks her brother who will do all of this work, and Utu says that he will do it all. By harvesting the grain and creating a sheet of cloth, Utu establishes an interesting metaphor that pertains to both farmers and new brides. The linen cloth was used to clean the newly harvested grains. Two people would gather the wheat in the middle, grab hold of the corners, and thrust the grain into the air, allowing the wind to carry away the husks and the chaff (the inedible parts). Once the parts have been separated, then the workers can transform it into whatever they need. This cloth is also represents the bed sheet on a marriage bed. It was dyed white and kept clean, as a virgin. The newlyweds would consummate their marriage together on the fine linen sheets, which would have been examined by the parents afterward to determine if the couple actually participated in their marriage duties (blood on the sheets caused by the breaking of the hymen), and also to make sure that the woman was a virgin. So we see the linen cloth as a dual symbol, pertaining both to the

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agricultural realm as well as marriage. So we see the linen cloth as a dual symbol, pertaining both to the agricultural realm as well as marriage. Therefore, when Inanna asks at the bottom of page 31, “Who will go to bed with me?” she is asking Utu who her husband will be. Utu tells Inanna to marry the shepherd Dumuzi. However, Inanna does not wish to marry Dumuzi, since he is a shepherd, not a farmer. She complains about her dislike for the feel of wool, and she wonders how she can appreciate a man who does not work the earth (the body of the mother, that is), as does a farmer. Poor Dumuzi is standing right there, listening to Inanna reject him before ever speaking a word. Disrespected! A powerful symbol is at play here. Inanna, being so closely tied to the fertility cycles, understands agrarian ideals much more than shepherding. She is looking for someone much like herself, perhaps because she sees this as a more natural fit. Don’t we seek out people who share similar values and interests? Dumuzi finally speaks and says that he can offer Inanna more and better things than can the farmer. The duality working here is simple — Inanna is at a crossroads of the duality, the boundary between nature and society. The farmer represents the ties to nature, but the shepherd reveals the attitudes of the society (this is your typical “nature vs. nurture” argument). The shepherd argues that he is more powerful than the farmer because he has more control. A farmer must hope that the gods provide the rain and the appropriate growing conditions. The shepherd gets to fight off the hungry wolves, herd the sheep and goats into pens (called sheepfolds), and be free from just one plot of land. Obviously, shepherding is not more or less important than farming, but the responsibilities of these occupations reveals their connections to either nature (farming) or society (shepherding). By rejecting Dumuzi, Inanna is really rejecting submission into society, much like she rejected the concept of growth into adulthood in The Huluppu-Tree. However, Dumuzi convinces Inanna that they are a good match. He make an appeal on page 34 to sit and discuss their differences, and they compare the power and influence of their families. What they discover is that they are both different, but that they need the qualities of the other to make each one complete. Sure, nature will work against society, and society against nature, but together they can achieve a balance and harmony that allow both to flourish. After their argument, they fall deeply in love (or lust?). On page 35, Ningal, Inanna’s mother, convinces Inanna to take Dumuzi’s hand in marriage, because he will play the roles of father and mother to her, offering both protection and nurturing. Inanna listens to her mother’s wisdom, perhaps because they share the experience of womanhood together, and Inanna can trust her mother’s advice more easily than the words from Utu. However, Inanna will put Dumuzi to the test. On their wedding day, Inanna dresses in her finest raiment before asking Dumuzi an important question: “Who will plow my wet ground?” Notice that Inanna refers to her body as the Earth, and her lover will be the one who tills the soil, opening it up to receive the seed of life, then covered, nurtured, and harvested. Inanna uses these agricultural terms because they represent her essence. When Dumuzi answers (“I will plow ...”) on page 37, the land begins to sprout and flourish with new life everywhere. Perhaps the season of Spring has arrived and the world is maturing. Perhaps Inanna is really asking whether Dumuzi will take care of her. After all, a farmer must tend to the field every day hands-on. The shepherd leaves the house, enters the distant pasture, does his job, and then returns home each night. Maybe Inanna is seeking a constant companion rather than someone who is perpetually leaving the homestead and disappears over the hills. Notice also how the metaphor of the plow is working here. The plow is an invention of society, and it is used to assist people with their labors in the fields (nature). The union of these two characters symbolizes the harmony created between Nature and Society, whereby both sides become stronger

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due to the assistance and greatness of the other. Before the plow, people tilled the land by hand, using garden tools such as the hoe. What they discover is that they are both different, but that they need the qualities of the other to make each one complete. These differences were illustrated on the next document entitled “Planting vs. Hunting Cultures.” In Sumerian culture, agriculture allowed them to establish a stable home, develop the land, and pass it down to their children. Their wealth gained from this new way of living allowed them an abundance of free time to develop art, writing, and culture. However, the surrounding cultures were mostly nomadic, meaning that they struggled each day for their food. Mainly shepherding cultures, these nomads often would encroach upon Sumer whenever the land failed to provide them with healthy pastures to graze their sheep and goats. Eventually, this competition for resources led to thousands of years of war in the region. To the Sumerians, who mostly were modest farmers, the sheep were associated with royalty, especially since the wealthy could afford the best clothes. The grain, however, nourishes everybody, and therefore, like the hoe, is something that every Sumerian can be thankful for. On page 40, Inanna explains that she has walked into the forest, kneeling by an apple tree (another growth/fertility archetype), and “poured out plants from my womb.” Here, Inanna is presenting herself as a fertile, life-bearing goddess. The season of Spring has arrived in full bloom, with conception and birth occurring everywhere. Again, view these actions metaphorically, not literally. On page 42, we see another reference to the linen sheet on their wedding bed, representing a culmination of the harvest (by processing the grains into cloth) and the union of man and woman. They hold each other and share the pleasures of their marriage with wild abandon -- they make love fifty times! On pages 44-45, Inanna explains to her new husband his “fate.” At the top of 45, look closely at the first four lines. Amongst other things, Inanna places herself into four different roles in their marriage. First, she says that she will be Dumuzi’s “leader” in battle. But then, she mentions that she will be his “armor-bearer,” “advocate,” and “inspiration.” The role of leader (male force) seems to be in opposition to her next three roles of servitude (feminine forces). How can she be both leader and follower simultaneously? Dumuzi, however, asks to be “set free” in the last stanza of the poem. Why? Dumuzi claims to be headed to the palace, perhaps to lead the people, as kings do. However, Dumuzi is also a shepherd, which means that he must leave the house and travel to his sheepfold after “plowing the field.” He’ll be back later, and will make love to Inanna once again, but now the realities of life kick in, and the honeymoon appears to be over. Perhaps Inanna’s initial fears had some merit after all. Watch what she does to Dumuzi in the next story!

Questions for The Courtshup of Inanna and Dumuzi
1. In the opening scene, what does Utu (the sun god) make for his little sister Inanna? 2. Why does Inanna protest against her marriage to Dumuzi, the shepherd? 3. What is Dumuzi’s argument that he (a shepherd) is better than the farmer? 4. How does the shepherd vs. farmer debate compare with the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)?

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5. What does Ningal say that convinces her daughter to accept Dumuzi? 6. Why does Inanna question Dumuzi’s ability to act as “plow”? 7. Why does Inanna make several references to vegetation that describe the acts love making between Dumuzi and Inanna? 8. What “fate” does Inanna decree to Dumuzi? What will his reign in Uruk bring? 9. Why does Dumuzi wish to be set free?

Planting vs. Hunting Cultures
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University Thank you to Dr. David A. Miller, Syracuse University

PLANTING CULTURES

HUNTING CULTURES
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Meaning of the individual comes from the group (social center) Farmers need people to work the fields and buy their crops at market Authority originates from the outside Societal structure: a rigid adherence to the group for the collective good Meaning and spirit is found in natural organic vegetative cycles Seeding — life is birthed from seed Spiritual leader: a priest, ceremoniously elected by the group Death is a real and natural part of life Planting and harvest rituals included ritual regicide A farmer’s obligation is to take care of the plants and animals Their literature evokes reason Common literary motif: the descent/return of god/goddess Also, many agricultural stories reveal an interdependence of death and sex Symbolic animals include the pig, serpent, eel, and fish, later replaced by the bull, horse, and lion Axis mundi: a central Tree of Life in a garden, bearing the waters of life


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Meaning of the group comes from an individual (psychological center) Hunters need individual solitude to avoid scaring the animals Authority originates from the inside Societal structure: the king or hero gives meaning to the social order Meaning and spirit is found in animals and archetypes of freedom (wind, etc.) Bleeding — life flows through the blood Spiritual leader: a shaman, who gathered his powers from psychological crisis Death is not real and is not natural Hunting rituals included living vicariously as the hunted animals A hunter’s obligation is to return the spilt blood so the animal will reciprocate Their stories stir emotion, pleasure, & sex Common literary motif: magic and wisdom emanating from the animals Also, hunting literature recalls a reverence to one’s ancestors Symbolic animals include the hunted animals or sacrificial beasts (lamb, goats); also shown as trickster gods Axis mundi: the self, the staff, the herd, or the location of the fire pit

Genesis 4: Cain and Abel

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Genesis 4: Cain and Abel
King James Version
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
The Hebrews addressed their views of planting cultures in the “Cain and Abel” story from Genesis 4. Unlike the Sumerian farmers thousands of years earlier, the Hebrews were a nomadic people, searching for their Promised Land. Therefore, the Hebrews’ outlook was opposite of that of Sumer — whereas, the Sumerians valued agriculture, thereby adopting the perspective of a planting culture, the Hebrews reverted to a form of the hunting culture outlook, placing value on herding due to their nomadic lifestyle. Joseph Campbell discusses this further on pages 130-131 of The Power of Myth.

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. 16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech. 19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

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man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. 25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. 22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. 23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a

Questions for Genesis 4:
1. Why does Yahweh accept Abel’s offering but reject Cain’s? 2. Symbolically, what does Yahweh’s decision indicate about His attitude toward Nature? … toward civilization? 3. Cain’s actions represent the actions of Nature. How? 4. Why does Yahweh mark Cain’s forehead so that nobody will murder him?

Source:
The Bible Gateway: http://bible.gospelcom.net

Ancient Underworlds
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
Next we will examine the second of the three mythological realms: the underworld. After studying the earth, we now move underground and explore the mysteries of the unknown beneath our feet. In Unit 2, we will look at the heavens (the sky). The underworld is NOT “Hell,” which is a much later addition to myth and religion. Remember, we are studying the first literate culture, so ideas such as reward in heaven or punishment in hell had not yet been invented. To the Sumerians, when a person died, his body was buried in the ground. Other cultures (such as the Hindus) cremated the dead body on a funeral pyre in a public ritual. The Sumerians, however, simply dug a hole and placed the carcass inside. Remember that the earth is associated with the womb (Mother Earth). You may have heard the expression “You can’t go back to the womb,” but to the Sumerians one could (except that the womb is

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not your mother’s, but rather a mythological one). The Sumerians did not believe in sin, eternal judgment, or grace, so their views about death were very practical and filled with mystery. To them, the underworld was simply a dark, dusty, lonely place where everyone ends up. The underworld was ruled by a queen, Ereshkigal, who was forced to rule the underworld against her will. The following stories show Inanna’s journey to the Great Below as well as a somewhat comical story about a war god, Nergal, who mistakenly sealed his fate in the underworld when he fell in love with Ereshkigal. Here are a few underworld concepts found in related cultures:

Mesopotamian Underworld
1) Seven gates, each guarded by a demon; once one entered, there was no escape 2) Ruled by Nergal, Lord of the Underworld, and Ereshkigal, his wife and demon princess of the Kingdom of Shadows

Egyptian Underworld
1) Universe divided into three sections: heaven, earth, and the Duat (the underworld, where Ra descends each evening) 2) Duat was originally supposed to be the domain of Ra’s supernatural enemies 3) Sinners and enemies of Ra were beheaded, dismembered, and burnt; then reformed at sunrise to begin the cycle anew 4) Osiris became the judge of the Underworld; he weighed one’s heart against the feather of justice (Ma’at) on a balance scale 5) Those who passed were sent to the Fields of Peace; the sinners were thrown to Ammut (eater of the Dead – part lion, part crocodile, and part hippo)

Hebrew Underworld
1) Originally called the Sheol, a place of shadows, ghosts, and animated corpses 2) Sheol transformed over time into Gehenna (a place of fire and filth), where the sinner would suffer hellfire for up to 12 months (or obliterated forever) 3) The worst punishment (everlasting hellfire) was reserved for informers, Christians, and anyone else who despised the words of Rabbis.

Greek Underworld
1) Called the Kingdom of Hades, located 9 feet below the surface 2) Ruled by Pluto, brother of Zeus, who construed creative punishments (Tantalus and Sisyphus) 3) The worst offenders (parricide, oath breaking) were sent to the bottomless pit of Tartarus, ruled by Kronos 4) Shades are tormented by Keres (winged spirits of an individual’s death) and Hecate (triple-headed demon goddess who feasted on the newcomers’ flesh)

Roman Underworld
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Borrowed from the Greek Underworld, but with more description One enters through a cave, coming first to limbo (inappropriate burials had to wait 100 years) Cross the River Lethe, Hall of Dis, where Proserpine (Persephone) would judge the soul The successful soul traveled to the Fortunate Isles; unsuccessful ones sent to hell Upon entering hell, one would come across three lakes (boiling gold, freezing lead, iron shards)

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The Hebrew Conception of the Cosmos
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
Although this graphic illustrates the Hebrew belief, it was passed down to them from the Mesopotamian cultures and their mythology. The picture below is one of the best available, and it comes from the New American Bible. Look at the floodgates and the stars firmly affixed to the dome of the sky (the firmament). The Sheol is not Hell, but rather similar to the Mesopotamian underworld that you are encountering in Unit 1.

Source:

The New American Bible. St. Joseph ed. New York: Catholic, 1970.

The Descent of Inanna

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Reading Guide: The Descent of Inanna
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

The Descent of Inanna (Wolkstein, 51-89)
Inanna plans to enter the Underworld to visit her older sister, Ereshkigal, who is mourning the loss of her husband, Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven. However, anyone who enters the Underworld will never be allowed to leave. The Mesopotamians believed that three realms existed: heaven, earth, and underworld. The heavens were the distant stars in the sky, where many of the gods resided. You can reach as high as you can, but you will never be able to touch them. You can build Towers of Babel, climb the highest mountains, or jump as high as possible, but you will never reach the sky. This distant, unreachable place is referred to as “the heavens.” The earth is the realm of duality, human life, and a middle state, where the daemons (intermediaries) roam freely from one realm to the other. This story will show you how these intermediaries operate.

Part 1: From the Great Above to the Great Below (51-73)
On page 53, Inanna instructs her trusted servant Ninshubur about what to do if Inanna does not return in three days’ time. She tells her friend to ask the gods for help if she becomes trapped in the land of no return. Therefore, Inanna clearly knows that she has a difficult journey ahead. By page 55, she has descended the stairs and approaches the door to the netherworld. She knocks, and the door is answered by Neti, the main gatekeeper of the seven gates into the Underworld. He asks her what she wants, and she tells him that she is Ereshkigal’s sister and that she comes to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law. He tells her to wait so that he can ask the Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal, what to do. But wait. There is something else going on here. On page 55, Inanna says that she is “[o]n my way to the East.” The East always represents life and rebirth, while the West represents death and dying. Why would she be traveling through the Underworld to get to the East? This aspect of the story simply reflects the travels of the planet Venus, which is personified as Inanna. Joseph Campbell explains that all of us are “twice born,” and that we have to “die” before we can assume a new “life.” For example, when you meet your significant other, your single life “dies” so that you can be reborn into a new person, one who is not alone any more, but rather part of a whole — your relationship. Likewise, when you become a parent, part of your old life is replaced with a new one, filled with new responsibilities and challenges that changes the way that you live your life. If Inanna is traveling to the East, then she is metaphorically seeking a rebirth, which can only occur through a death, hence her visit to the realm of the dead. Inanna knows that the cycles of life whirl around and around, and that there is always a new life after each death. She is going to pay tribute to the end of winter and the beginning of new life in the East. She is going to become born again. First, however, she needs to experience death. Hence, the Underworld. Inanna is already the “Queen of Heaven and Earth,” as your book’s subtitle indicates, but does she control the Underworld? No. Perhaps she is curious about it so that she can also assume power over the third of the three realms? On page 56, Inanna gathers together seven Holy me, her powers and wisdom that she will need to do battle with the forces of the Underworld. These take the form of royal robes and assorted jewelry. At the bottom of the page, though, Ereshkigal (Queen of the Underworld) tells Neti (the gatekeeper)

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to allow Inanna in only one gate at a time, removing one of the seven me as she passes through each gate. Pages 57-59 show Inanna’s passage until she finally arrives in the Underworld completely naked. Immediately (page 60), Ereshkigal attaches the “eye of death” onto Inanna and hangs her corpse on the wall. Inanna is dead. Ninshubur, Inanna’s assistant, begins to ask the gods for their help. First she asks Enlil (also called Ellil), who refuses to help. Next, she visits Nanna, Inanna’s father, but he too says no. Why won’t these father figures offer any succor to Inanna? Perhaps because they have no power over the Underworld, as each god and goddess controls limited aspects. Furthermore, Inanna is an adult woman now, and she needs to fight her own battles, especially since nobody forced her into the Underworld! Much like in the earlier Inanna stories, Inanna must face her own life changes, as nobody else can experience these things for her. Enki is the only god who makes a commitment to help Inanna, and he does so on page 64 by creating two androgynous creatures, a kurgarra and a galatur. He gives them the food and water of life, and he sends them into the Underworld. Because they are neither male nor female (androgynous), they will be allowed in and out of the Underworld at will, and they will not be subjected to the same rules that mortals and gods must follow. But why is their lack of sexual identity a benefit (or a condition that circumvents death)? Perhaps this has a lot to do once again with dualities. Ereshkigal (the Queen of the Underworld, and Inanna’s sister) questions these kurgarra and galatur creatures and attempts to offer them gifts, but they refuse the offerings (pages 66-67). The only gift they ask for is the body of Inanna, whom they revive with Enki’s magic potions. Ereshkigal allows Inanna to leave the Underworld, due to these highly unusual conditions, but places one strict demand on her exit -- if she leaves, she will be accompanied by the galla creatures (nasty little demon dudes) who will search the Earth for someone to take Inanna’s place in the Underworld. After all, the Underworld must be balanced, so the soul of Inanna must be replaced. Why does Ereshkigal affix the “eye of death” upon her sister Inanna? Is she evil? Corrupt? No. View Ereshkigal as a mirror image of Inanna herself. Whereas Inanna represents fertility, Ereshkigal promotes the opposite force. Both are aspects of Nature and natural cycles. Inanna, however, is the friendlier (and more flirtatious) side of Nature, while Ereshkigal offers the dark side. In other words, these two women are really different halves of the same concept -- one that operates by day, and the other that tends to the night. They are more than sisters -- they are both components of Nature’s dualities. As Inanna and her underworld companions reemerge on the land, the galla creatures begin to point out prospects for Inanna’s replacement. First, they find Ninshubur, Inanna’s assistant, but Inanna complains that Ninshubur cannot be taken, since she is so valuable to Inanna. Next, on page 70, the galla stumble across two of Inanna’s sons, Shara and Lulal. But Inanna complains again, stating that her sons are brave warriors and needed on the Earth. That is when, on page 71, the galla find a man sleeping beneath an apple tree — Dumuzi. Inanna then exclaims: “Take him! Take Dumuzi away!” Fighting, kicking, and screaming, Dumuzi is dragged away toward the Underworld, wondering why he has met this fate. He will attempt to hide, and succeeds temporarily, until he is finally sentenced to the Underworld in the next two sections of this story.

Questions for Part 1 of The Descent of Inanna:
1. How does Inanna dress for the Underworld? 2. What command does Inanna give to her servant Ninshubur?

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3. What explanation does Inanna offer to Neti, the gatekeeper, for her visit to the Underworld? 4. What happens to Inanna as she passes through the seven gates of the Underworld? 5. What does her sister Ereshkigal do to Inanna after passing through the gates? 6. Although Enlil and Nanna cannot help Ninshubur, what does Enki do to rescue Inanna? 7. How do the kurgarra and the galatur revive the corpse of Inanna? 8. Under what condition will the Anunna allow Inanna to leave the Underworld? 9. Why does Inanna refuse to allow the galla demons to drag Ninshubur, Shara, and Lulal to the Underworld? Why does she allow her husband Dumuzi to be imprisoned there? 10. How does Utu help Dumuzi after he cries out for help?

Part 2: The Dream of Dumuzi (74-84)
In the section entitled “The Dream of Dumuzi,” we see Dumuzi asking his sister Geshtinanna to interpret his dreams, which she does on pages 76-77. In short, she tells her brother that his dream portends his own death, followed by hers. After this interpretation is made, Dumuzi runs away. Notice that Geshtinanna does not tell Dumuzi that he will die. Rather, she uses nature metaphors to describe Dumuzi’s passing: “terror of tall trees,” “fall to earth,” “given to the winds.” Remember that these nature-based stories tell about natural events and cycles. Geshtinanna discusses the “sheepfold” to Dumuzi, which can be translated into “Mother Earth.” This allows us to better understand some descriptions, such as Dumuzi’s fire being “put out on your holy hearth,” allowing the “sheepfold” (earth) to “become a house of desolation.” On pages 78-79, Dumuzi goes into hiding, asking his sister and friend to keep his hiding place a secret. When the galla approach Geshtinanna, she refuses their gifts. The “water-gift” and the “graingift” are both representations of life (the same stuff that the androgynous creatures fed to Inanna to revive her in the Underworld). Why does Geshtinanna refuse the gifts of life? Perhaps because they come from down below, or perhaps because of her loyalty to her brother. The galla proceed to torture Geshtinanna (they rape her) before moving onto the friend who, on page 80, immediately accepts the gifts and reveals Dumuzi’s hiding places. What kind of friend is this? Why would a friend turn against Dumuzi? The galla catch up with Dumuzi, of course, because this is his fate. In a panic, Dumuzi calls up to the sun god, Utu, to transform his arms and legs into those of a snake, and later as those of a gazelle. Utu complies, and gives Dumuzi one last chance for escape. Why does the sun god have mercy on Dumuzi as he is dragged away to death? The sun represents life and its energy. The sun naturally wants to preserve life and keep it active. The moon reflects the changes of death, in dual opposition to the qualities of the sun (male vs. female). Dumuzi is eventually seized by the galla, who take him to his new home.

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Questions for Part 2 of The Descent of Inanna:
11. How does Geshtinanna interpret Dumuzi’s dream? 12. Dumuzi hides from the galla demons by hiding in the ditches of Arali. Why does Geshtinanna refuse to reveal Dumuzi’s location, but Dumuzi’s friend complies? 13. How does Utu, the sun god, help Dumuzi escape the galla demons?

Part 3: The Return (85-89)
In the final section entitled “The Return,” we see everyone in tears over Dumuzi’s fate. His family is crying, including his mother Sirtur and sister Geshtinanna. A strange fly appears who seems to know where Dumuzi is, but it asks for compensation before saying where. Inanna grants the fly the abilities to enter the taverns (which explains why flies are attracted to restaurants!) and listen to people’s conversations (the traditional “fly on the wall”). Bear in mind that any flying creatures were considered to be gods or spirits of some fashion, since they can fly heavenward, unlike people. The fly tells Inanna to look at the “edges of the steppe,” or on the horizon, to find Dumuzi — which they do! Why the horizon? Think about what the horizon is – the imaginary intersection of heaven and earth. Dumuzi is about to leave the earth and pass into the next world. The horizon represents a boundary between these two realms. However, the horizon is also a trick that is played on the eyes. There really isn’t a “horizon,” since it is a matter of perspective. In the third unit on Egypt, we will see the horizon play an even more important role in mythology. On page 89, a deal is struck. Geshtinanna offers to make a sacrifice of herself so that Dumuzi can be released from the Underworld for one half a year. Dumuzi was originally a mortal ruler whose marriage to Inanna ensured the fertility of the land and the fruitfulness of the womb. This marriage, however, ended in tragedy when the goddess, offended by her husband’s unfeeling behavior toward her, decreed that he be carried off to the netherworld for six months of each year (to explain the barren, sterile months of the hot summer). At the autumnal equinox, which marked the beginning of the Sumerian new year, Dumuzi returned to the earth, and Geshtinanna took his place. His reunion with his wife caused all animal and plant life to be revitalized and made fertile once again. In a later Mesopotamian calendars, Dumuzi is one of the names of the month, and Tammuz in Arabic and Hebrew is still used as the name for the month of July.

Question for Part 3 of The Descent of Inanna:
14. What deal does Geshtinanna make with the “hands of the eternal” that allows Dumuzi partial escape from the Underworld? What might this symbolize?

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Reading Guide: The Descent of Ishtar

to the Underworld

Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld (Dalley, 154-160)
This version of the famous Descent cycle myths comes from a later time in Babylonian or Assyrian history, perhaps a thousand or more years later. This version is much shorter than the Sumerian version in the Wolkstein text, and its contents vary as well. Use this version to offer a more complete, if not more complex, picture of the Mesopotamian conception of the Underworld and its power. Throughout Mesopotamia, dozens of different versions of this story exist, all revealing subtle changes in setting, motivation, action, etc. Often, these stories were adapted to the local traditions that would highlight certain characters while ignoring others, based on the desires and needs in that time and place. Perhaps the most odd difference between these two versions is the creation by Enki/Ea that is allowed to enter and exit the Underworld with Inanna. Whereas in the Sumerian version Enki creates two androgynous creatures (the kurgarra and galatur), in the Babylonian version Ea creates “Goodlooks the playboy,” who is either a castrated boy (eunuch) or some kind of androgynous, hermaphroditic character. Both are intermediaries, since they are allowed to enter and exit the Underworld, but their appearances are clearly different. In Sumer, the kurgarra and galatur are akin to a type of serpent, which represents life. Here, in the Ishtar version, we employ a boy (in and of itself a sexually immature individual) who further becomes impotent due to his condition (either he was born with improper sex organs, as is the case with 1 in every 2000 births anyway, or they have been removed as part of a court ritual in the kingdom). Either way, we learn that a gender defines a person on one side of the duality or the other. Androgynous creatures can bridge that gap because they have nothing to offer, sacrifice, or take to or from the Underworld.

Question for Part 3 of The Descent of Ishtar:
1. Who is Ishtar’s father in this story? Who was Inanna’s father in the Sumerian version found in the Wolkstein book? 2. What reason does Ishtar give for entering the Underworld in this version? 3. How does Ereshkigal react to Ishtar’s arrival, and how does this compare with the Inanna version? 4. Contrast the seven items that are removed from Ishtar and Inanna during their descent to the Underworld. 5. Instead of the Enki creating the kurgarra and galatur creatures to rescue Inanna, what creature is created by Ea? Do these creatures behave similarly?

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Enlil and Ninlil
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University
In this myth, we see a very young Enlil and Ninlil, both deities of the wind. We see shades of the Enki and Ninhursag story here when we consider the lusty virulence of both Enki and Enlil in these two stories.

Part 1: The Rapacious Enlil
Similar to Uttu being warned by Ninhursag, Ninlil is warned by her mother to stay away from the lusty male force. Although properly warned, Ninlil disobeys her mother’s advice and bathes in the river, drawing the attention of Enlil, who offers the most direct pick-up line in world literature: “I want to have sex with you!” Ninlil explains that she is a virgin. They have been “intended” to each other in an arranged marriage, much as we saw with Inanna and Dumuzi. Enlil inseminates Ninlil before their wedding day, impregnating her with the seed of Suen (or Sin or Nanna, the moon). After this, we see an interesting reaction from the Anunnaki: they send Enlil to the Underworld for punishment. What is unusual here is that the Underworld does not typically have an association with punishment. The Underworld is not Hell, which is the place reserved for punishment in Western traditions. What we probably see here is that the Underworld is being used to teach Enlil a lesson, perhaps acting more like a “time out” corner. Because the Anunnaki punish Enlil for being “ritually impure,” we learn from this that Enlil violated a social standard (a law), not a natural one. Nature tells us to have lots of sex, but our societies impose limits on our nature. Enlil’s violation of social standards will be punishable by judges, rather than by “acts of God,” which will be the predominant mentality of the readings from Unit 2: The Age of Aries, where societal law rose higher than natural law. We also see here that at least 50 gods are more powerful than Enlil, as Enlil immediately obeys their judgment. Eventually, the Babylonians would elevate Enlil (a brutal male god) to a higher position as head of the pantheon, replacing An (Anu in Babylonian). As Enlil heads toward the Underworld, Ninlil follows, as she is pregnant with their child. During the next several paragraphs, we see Enlil disguising himself as the gatekeeper and the boat driver, magically impregnating Ninlil simultaneously with three separate pregnancies. In real life, a pregnant woman cannot become additionally pregnant, so the actions here are Divine. This illustrates Ninlil’s powers as a birth goddess, because she can continually become pregnant while already carrying a child, a feat that no mortal woman could accomplish. Ninlil will give birth in the Underworld to Nanna (the moon god), who will marry Ningal (a moon goddess) who will then give birth to the sun, Utu, as well as Inanna and her sister Ereshkigal. In this creation story of the Underworld family, we see that the moon came first, not the sun. When people begin to think about mythology, sun worship often comes to mind. However, in a desert culture that gets unbearably hot in the summer, the sun doesn’t get a lot of worship. The sun is harsh and often unforgiving. Remember when we saw Utu denying help to Inanna in The Huluppu-Tree? We will see a powerful sun god characterized until Unit 2, where we will see the Babylonian counterpart, Shamash, take an active role in helping heroes to accomplish great feats. The sun god gets along better with the guys.

Enlil and Ninlil K
Here was a city, there was a city — the one we live in. Nibru was the city, the one we live in. Dur-gishnimbar was the city, the one we live in. Id-sala is its holy river, Kar-geshtina is its quay. Kar-asar is its quay where boats make fast. Pu-lal is its fresh-water well. Id-nunbir-tum is its branching canal, and if one measures from there, its cultivated land is 50 sar each way. Enlil was one of its young men, and Ninlil was one its young women. Nun-bar-she-gunu was one of its wise old women. Enlil was intended to Ninlil, but he could not wait for their wedding day. At that time the maiden was advised by her own mother; Ninlil was advised by Nun-bar-she-gunu: “The river is holy, woman! The river is holy — don’t bathe in it! Ninlil, don’t walk along the bank of the Idnunbir-tum! His eye is bright; the lord’s eye is bright; he will look at you! The Great Mountain, Father Enlil — his eye is bright; he will look at you! The shepherd who decides all destinies — his eye is bright; he will look at you! Straight away he will want to have intercourse; he will want to kiss! He will be happy to pour lusty semen into the womb, and then he will leave you to it!” She advised her from the heart; she gave wisdom to her. The river is holy; the woman bathed in the holy river. As Ninlil walked along the bank of the Id-nunbir-tum, his eye was bright, the lord’s eye was bright — he looked at her. The Great Mountain, Father Enlil — his eye was bright; he looked at her. The shepherd who decides all destinies — his eye was bright; he looked at her. The king said to her, “I want to have sex with you!” but he could not make her let him. Enlil said to her, “I want to kiss you!” but he could not make her let him. Ninlil replied: “My vagina is small; it does not know pregnancy. My lips are young; they do not know kissing. If my mother learns of it, she will slap my hand! If my father learns of it, he will lay hands on me! But right now, no one will stop me from telling this to my girl friend!” Enlil spoke to his minister Nusku: “Nusku, my minister!” “At your service! What do you wish?” “Master builder of the E-kur!” “At your service, my lord!” “Has anyone had intercourse with, has anyone kissed a maiden so beautiful, so radiant — Ninlil, so beautiful, so radiant?” The minister brought his master across by boat, bringing him over with the rope of a small boat, bringing him over in a big boat. The lord, floating downstream to […] — he was actually going to have intercourse with her; he was actually to kiss her! Father Enlil, floating downstream to […] — he was actually going to have intercourse with her; he was actually to kiss her! He grasped hold of her whom he was seeking — he was actually to have intercourse with her; he was actually to kiss her! So as to lie with her on a small bank [….] He actually had intercourse with her; he actually kissed her. At this one intercourse, at this one kissing, he poured the seed of Suen-Ashimbabbar into her womb. Enlil was walking in the Ki-ur. As Enlil was going about in the Ki-ur, the Anunnaki made judgment over Enlil and sent him to the underworld as punishment. The fifty great gods and the seven gods who decide destinies had Enlil arrested in the Ki-ur: “Enlil, ritually impure, leave the city! Nunamnir, ritually impure, leave the city!” Enlil, the ritually impure, left the city. Nunamnir, the ritually impure, left the city. Enlil, in accordance with what had been decided, Nunamnir, in accordance with what had been decided, went. Ninlil followed. Nunamnir went; the maiden chased him. Enlil spoke to the man at the city gate: “City gatekeeper! Keeper of the barrier! Porter! Keeper of the holy barrier! When your lady Ninlil comes, if she asks after me, don’t tell her where I am!” Ninlil addressed the city gatekeeper: “City gatekeeper! Keeper of the barrier! Porter! Keeper of the holy barrier! When did your lord Enlil go by?” She spoke to him, but Enlil answered disguised as the city gatekeeper: “My lord has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one. Enlil has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one.”

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chamber. He had intercourse with her there; he kissed her there. At this one intercourse, at this one kissing, he poured into her womb the seed of Ninazu, the king who stretches measuring lines over the fields. Enlil went. Ninlil followed. Nunamnir went; the maiden chased him. Enlil approached Si-lu-igi, the man of the ferryboat: “Si-lu-igi, my man of the ferryboat! When your lady Ninlil comes, if she asks after me, don’t you tell her where I am!” Ninlil approached the man of the ferryboat: “Man of the ferryboat! When did your lord Enlil go by?” she said to him. Enlil answered disguised as the man Si-lu-igi: “My lord has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one. Enlil has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one.” “I will make clear my aim and explain my intent. You can fill my womb once it is empty — Enlil, king of all the lands, has had sex with me! Just as Enlil is your lord, so am I your lady!” “If you are my lady, let my hand touch your […]!” “The seed of your lord, the bright seed, is in my womb. The seed of Suen, the bright seed, is in my womb.” “My master’s seed can go up to the heavens! Let my seed go downwards! Let my seed go downwards, instead of my master’s seed!” Enlil, as Si-lu-igi, got her to lie down in the chamber. He had intercourse with her there; he kissed her there. At this one intercourse, at this one kissing, he poured into her womb the seed of Enbilulu, the inspector of canals. You are lord! You are king! Enlil, you are lord! You are king! Nunamnir, you are lord! You are king! You are supreme lord! You are powerful lord! Lord who makes flax grow, lord who makes barley grow, you are lord of heaven, Lord Plenty, lord of the earth! You are lord of the earth, Lord Plenty, lord of heaven! Enlil in heaven, Enlil is king, Lord whose pronouncements cannot be altered at all! His primordial utterances will not be changed! For the praise spoken for Ninlil the mother, praise be to the Great Mountain, Father Enlil!

“I will make clear my aim and explain my intent. You can fill my womb once it is empty — Enlil, lord of all the lands, has had sex with me! Just as Enlil is your lord, so am I your lady!” “If you are my lady, let my hand touch your […]!” “The seed of your lord, the bright seed, is in my womb. The seed of Suen, the bright seed, is in my womb.” “My master’s seed can go up to the heavens! Let my seed go downwards! Let my seed go downwards, instead of my master’s seed!” Enlil, as the city gatekeeper, got her to lie down in the chamber. He had intercourse with her there. He kissed her there. At this one intercourse, at this one kissing he poured the seed of NergalMeslamta-eda into her womb. Enlil went; Ninlil followed. Nunamnir went; the maiden chased him. Enlil approached the man of the Id-kura river of the underworld, the maneating river, and spoke: “My man of the Id-kura, the man-eating river! When your lady Ninlil comes, if she asks after me, don’t you tell her where I am!” Ninlil approached the man of the Id-kura, the man-eating river. “My man of the Id-kura, the man-eating river! When did your lord Enlil go by?” she asked him. Enlil answered disguised as the man of the Idkura: “My lord has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one. Enlil has not talked with me at all, O loveliest one.” “I will make clear my aim and explain my intent. You can fill my womb once it is empty — Enlil, lord of all the lands, has had sex with me! Just as Enlil is your lord, so am I your lady!” “If you are my lady, let my hand touch your […]!” “The seed of your lord, the bright seed, is in my womb. The seed of Suen, the bright seed, is in my womb.” “My master’s seed can go up to the heavens! Let my seed go downwards! Let my seed go downwards, instead of my master’s seed!” Enlil, as the man of the Id-kura, got her to lie down in the

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Part 2: The Demands of the Underworld
The Kur, the Underworld mountain, connected by the Apsu under the surface, asks for Ereshkigal to be the Queen of the Underworld, but Enki attacks the Kur to rescue the goddess. You should notice a parallel to the opening scene on page 4 of The Huluppu-Tree, where we see Enki descending into the Underworld in his boat, facing a brutal attack. Although Enki defeats the Kur (over time, water is more powerful than rock), the Kur still cannot relinquish Ereshkigal. Much like how Enki isn’t so much the god of the water as he is the water, perhaps now Ereshkigal has become synonymous with the Underworld. After all, how does one bring the Underworld back to the surface? It can’t be done. Death is permanent. In their infinite wisdom, the gods decide to throw a party for Ereshkigal that they know she cannot attend. She sends Namtar, her vizier (this is an Arabic word meaning “advisor”), in her place, and he is immediately honored by all the gods except for one — Nergal. Well, this wasn’t his best political move, because Namtar tells Ereshkigal, who then sends him back to seize Nergal for his disobedience. Enki assures Nergal that he will be well armed in battle, having given Nergal seven demons to accompany him to the Underworld. Once inside, he launches a surprise attack with the demons, locking the doors and trapping everyone inside. He seizes Ereshkigal and threatens to kill her (just as she had threatened to kill him earlier). However, Ereshkigal offers him a hand in marriage, with all the power that comes with it. Suddenly, he likes what he hears and he kisses Ereshkigal, accepting her offer to be a ruler of the Great Below. This is perhaps a better position than he could have received with the Anunnaki.

Finally Enlil revealed his true self to Ninlil, and she forgave him. Ninlil followed Enlil into the underworld and there she gave birth to Nanna. With this forgiveness Enlil was able to return to the Great Mound with Ninlil and Nanna. Enlil made Nanna the god of the moon. Every night Nanna was to sail across the sky in his boat. Nanna married Ningal and they had several children: Utu, who became god of the sun, and the sisters Ereshkigal and Inanna. One day the kur sent a message to the Anunnaki demanding that Ereshkigal be given to become the queen of the underworld. Her wisdom was needed there to judge the fate of the dead. The Anunnaki were torn; they did not want to give over their sister to the kur, but they feared a war with the army of the underworld. Finally, despite the pleading of Enki, Enlil agreed to the demand, and Ereshkigal was given to the kur. She was taken away from the earth, never to return. Enki decided to rescue the girl. He set off into the Apsu; the Father set sail. Enki, the God of Wisdom, set sail for the underworld. Small windstones were tossed up against him; large hailstones were hurled up against him. Like

onrushing turtles, they charged the keel of Enki’s boat. The waters of the sea devoured the bow of his boat like wolves; the waters of the sea struck the stern of his boat like lions. Traveling deeper and deeper until he came upon the gate of the underworld. At the gate he demanded Ereshkigal be returned to him. The Great Kur and some of its guards, creatures made from rock, confronted Enki and told him to return to the Anunnaki. Enki refused and did battle with the kur’s minions. The great battle shook even the foundations of the world above. The guards of the kur had the strength of rock, but Enki had the strength and speed of the sea. Enki defeated the kur and repeated his demand for Ereshkigal, although when one has been taken into the underworld she can never leave. Enki then demanded that the kur should build Ereshkigal a great palace, and from there she could judge the fates. The kur agreed and Enki returned to the Great Mound with a heavy heart. When Enki returned, Enlil decided to hold a great feast at the great mound. All the Anunnaki were assembled, but, of course, Ereshkigal could not attend. When the gods organized a banquet, they sent a messenger to their sister Ereshkigal:

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Namtar announced the presence of the visitor: “One god is standing at the entrance of the door. Come and inspect him so that he may enter. My lady, here is the god who in previous months had vanished and who did not rise to his feet in my presence.” Ereshkigal accepted: “Bring him in. As soon as he comes I shall kill him!” Namtar let Nergal into the kur: “Come in, my lord, to your sister’s house.” Nergal entered the gate, then commanded his troops to seal her in while cutting off Namtar in the forecourt: “Let the doors be opened! Now I shall race past you!” Nergal confronted Ereshkigal: “You should be glad to see me.” Nergal, the burner, no longer showed fear — he grabbed the queen and threatened to kill her. Inside the house, he seized Ereshkigal by her hair, pulled her from the throne to the ground, intending to cut off her head. Ereshkigal pleaded for her life: “Don’t kill me, my brother! Let me tell you something.” Nergal listened to her and relaxed his grip. He wept and was overcome when she said the following: “You can be my husband, and I can be your wife. I will let you seize kingship over the wise Earth! I will put the Tablet of Wisdom in your hand! You can be master; I can be mistress!” Nergal listened to this speech of hers; he seized her and kissed her. He wiped away her tears and said: “What have you asked of me? After so many months, it shall certainly be so!” He sat beside her and judged the fates.

“We cannot come down to you, and you cannot come up to us, so send someone to fetch a share of the food for you!” In her place Ereshkigal sent Namtar, her vizier, to represent her. When Namtar arrived Enlil declared that he should be given the same respect and honor as Ereshkigal herself. The Anunnaki all rose to honor Namtar, but with one exception. Nergal, the second son of Enlil and the hunter god, refused to stand. Namtar returned to his queen and informed her of Nergal’s disrespect. Angrily Ereshkigal sent Namtar back to the Anunnaki, with a message that Nergal, the furious one, be sent to her to be punished. Namtar returned and spoke with the gods, who summoned him: “Look for the god who did not rise to his feet in your presence and take him before your mistress!” Namtar counted them, but the last god was crouching down. Namtar exclaimed, “That god who did not rise to his feet in your presence — he is not here!” Ereshkigal made her voice heard and addressed Namtar, her messenger: “Return! Identify the one!” Amongst the Anunnaki, Nergal was weeping before Enki: “He will see me! He will not let me stay alive!” Despite Nergal’s frightened pleas, the Anunnaki had no choice but to agree to Ereshkigal’s demand. Enki consoled Nergal, the raging king: “Don’t be afraid. I shall give you seven and seven demons to go with you.” Nergal was sent down to the underworld and approached the gate: “Doorkeeper, [open] your door. Loosen the thong so that I may enter into the presence of your mistress, Ereshkigal. I have been sent!”

Questions for Enlil and Ninlil:
1. How does Enlil’s lust for Ninlil parallel Enki’s lust for Ninhursag? 2. Is banishment to the Underworld an appropriate punishment for Enlil? 3. While making love to Ninlil, disguised as various gatekeepers and ferrymen, Enlil says the following: “My master’s [Enlil’s] seed can go up to the heavens! Let my seed go downwards.” How do you interpret “up” and “down” in this passage?

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4. Why does Enki take the initiative to rescue Ninlil? 5. Why do you think that Nergal refused to stand and honor Ereshkigal?

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Sources:
Dalley, Stephanie, Myths from Mesopotamia. “Nergal and Ereshkigal (Armana Version),” pages 178-181. http://www.earth-history.com/Sumer/sumer-enlil-ninlil.htm http://www.ultraviolence.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/akkad/index.cgi?uworld+0

Reading Guide: Nergal and Ereshkigal
Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

Nergal and Ereshkigal (Dalley, 165-177)
In the Babylonian Nergal and Ereshkigal, we see a longer (and later) version of the episode that occurred at the end of the Sumerian myth Enlil and Ninlil. Nergal was the head of a pantheon of gods who presided over the Underworld, a place often described as a large subterranean cave (called either Irkalla or Aralu). A variation of Nergal’s name separated into three elements (Ne-uru-gal) identifies him as “lord of the great dwelling.” Nergal has many epithets, such as “the furious one” or “the raging king,” and his worship was centered in the city of Kutha (Cuthah), represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Nergal is referenced in the Hebrew Bible as the deity of the city of Kutha: “And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal” (2 Kings 17:30). Nergal may have been understood as a solar deity, identified at times with Shamash. Nergal is portrayed in myths and hymns as a god of war and pestilence, and he may represent the midday summer sun (the summer solstice?) that dries the marshes and kills the vegetation. You should note that the names of characters in this story reflect the Babylonian names, since this is a Babylonian story, not one from Sumer. Technically, this myth belongs in Unit 2, but I asked you to read it now because it illustrates the rules of the Underworld quite well. It also introduces you to a more authentic text (the broken tablets create gaps in the text that remain unfilled, as opposed to embellishing and editing them as Diane Wolkstein and I have done with the other stories from Unit 1). Therefore, An (sky god) becomes Anu, Enki (water) becomes Ea, Inanna (love and war) becomes Ishtar, and Kur (Underworld) becomes Kurnugi (“The Land of No Return”). Refer to your Mesopotamian character glossary for details. Anu declares a celebration in honor of Ereshkigal, but, unfortunately, she can’t attend since she is locked into the Underworld. As we learn in the story Enlil and Ninlil, Ereshkigal had been selected as Queen of the Underworld by the other gods, but Enki went to battle with the Kur to bring her back. Even though Enki’s battle against the Kur was victorious, Ereshkigal had to remain below. Therefore, a series of messengers, usually advisors to the gods, must run communications between these most opposite realms: the Heavens and the Underworld. In Sumerian mythology, the Anunna gods lived in the Apsu (well water), but in Babylon the gods reside in the skies (likely as the stars and constellations). They must traverse the long stairway between Heaven and the Underworld, back

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and forth. Furthermore, upon entering the Underworld, one must pass through a series of seven gates that serve as the checkpoints into and out of the Kur. Each gate guarded by a different guard. On page 166, notice that Kakka, Anu’s messenger, enters the Underworld and is greeted by Ereshkigal who, on three occasions, offers him “peace.” Remember that the Underworld is not Hell. It is not a place of punishment, but rather the necessary abode of the dead. The Underworld does not pose harm, but it will lock you in if you’re not careful. Ereshkigal then sends her servant, Namtar, to the heavens to receive her gifts. When Namtar enters Heaven, he is acknowledged and respected by all the gods, except Nergal, who refused to kneel. We don’t know why. This makes Namtar mad, and he tells Ereshkigal about Nergal’s behavior. For unknown reasons, Nergal wishes to visit the Underworld, perhaps to attack Namtar, another war god. Nergal is asked by Enki to walk down the stairway and present Ereshkigal with a throne, which he makes by cutting down several varieties of trees and painting it to look like it is made of gold, silver, and gems. Some may look at this throne and recognize that it bears a false impression: it looks like gold, but it’s really wood. Some may think that Nergal’s throne is a cheap imitation; however, a closer inspection reveals deeper symbolism. The chair is not cheap at all, since it is crafted by gods using several types of wood and decorations. Time and effort certainly were applied here. The throne of the Underworld, being made of wood, reflects the essence of what the Kur is all about: that trees, once living, were now dead, but they still have a place and a value, despite their deceased condition. Ea then instructs Nergal on how to behave in the Underworld: don’t accept any gifts. Accepting a gift from the Underworld means that you accept the Underworld, that you have chosen to stay there forever. One of the Underworld rules is that no escape is possible, at least for mortals, and the gods tend to escape either because of their power, their cleverness, or their bargaining. Among the gifts that Nergal is supposed to avoid is Ereshkigal’s naked body. Nergal passes through the seven gates and greets Ereshkigal, who offers him all the gifts that Ea had foreshadowed. Nergal rejects each one ... until Ereshkigal takes off her clothes and entices him to make love to her. For six days they make love, but on the seventh Nergal wakes up in the middle of the night and is panicked about what he has just done. He runs out of the Underworld, telling the gatekeeper that Ereshkigal sent him away. This is apparently a lie, a clever way to escape. He runs up the long staircase to the Heavens to hide. At the bottom of page 171, the gods call Nergal the “Son of Ishtar,” implying that he has changed into a fertility god due to his relationship with Ereshkigal. Ishtar (Inanna) has long been associated with Ereshkigal beyond merely being sisters. Scholars have suggested that Inanna (Ishtar) and Ereshkigal are actually the same character, but each possessing an opposite aspect of the other: Inanna with life and Ereshkigal with death. Much like Dumuzi, Nergal has transformed into a reborn character. In the Heavens, Ea sprinkles Nergal with magic water that changes his appearance, since everyone knows that the Underworld servants will come looking for him. When Ereshkigal awakens, she asks the gatekeeper where Nergal has gone, and she learns that her lover has escaped. She calls for his immediate arrest and sends Namtar to Heaven to seize Nergal. If she can’t get Nergal back, she threatens to raise all the dead to become living again! Up in Heaven, however, Namtar cannot recognize Nergal’s changed appearance, and he returns to the Underworld alone ... until Ereshkigal sends him back up the long stairway to heaven once again to get Nergal, who is now bald and crouching in the fetal position. Namtar convinces Nergal to meet his fate, and Nergal arms himself. Entering the seven gates, Nergal fights his way into the Underworld, but immediately seizes Ereshkigal and jumps in bed with her, apparently happy to be back. In the supplemental myth Enlil and Ninlil, notice that Nergal seemed

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prepared to kill Ereshkigal until she relented and vowed to share rulership with him. Dozens of localized versions of each story exist, and these two simply reflect a few of the changes in plot, dialogue, and perspective. In the end, the rules of the Underworld have been upheld, and Ereshkigal has gained a husband who is bound to the Kur forever. This suggests that the Underworld is really a place of life, not death, since life goes on down there, albeit in a different capacity.

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Questions for Nergal and Ereshkigal:
1. What gift does Ea commission Nergal to make for Ereshkigal? 2. Why does Ea warn Nergal not to accept any gifts from Ereshkigal in the Underworld? 3. Describe the Underworld. 4. Nergal, as instructed, turns down the various gifts offered to him in the Underworld except one — which one? 5. What does Nergal realize after spending seven passionate days with Ereshkigal? 6. How does Nergal escape the Underworld? 7. What does Ereshkigal threaten to do if Namtar cannot return Nergal to her? 8. Why can Namtar not find Nergal when he visits the heavens? 9. How does Nergal enter the Underworld the second time? What does he do? Why?

Source:
http://www.answers.com/topic/nergal

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