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Subject: alt.mythology Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.7
This article was archived around: 5 Nov 1997 19:10:00 GMT
Posting-Frequency: monthly (3rd of the month)
The Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ version 1.7
by Christopher B. Siren (Nov. 1994)
last revised (October 6th, 1995)
changes since last revision: lengthened Bahamut answer; addresses.
The latest copy of this FAQ is available via anonymous ftp at:
rtfm.mit.edu at /pub/usenet/news.answers/mythology/assyrbabyl-faq
It is currently availible on the web at:
I. Overview (including regional history)
II. So these are just like the Sumerian deities right?
III. Who were the gods and heroes of the Babylonians?
A. The older gods
B. The younger Annunaki and Igigi
C. The chthonic gods
D. The heroes and monsters
IV. What about the Underworld and Heaven and all that?
V. Hey! I read that Cthulhu is really some Babylonian or Sumerian god,
how come he's not there under Kutu?
VI. So, in AD&D, Tiamat is this five-headed evil dragon, but they got
her from the Enumma Elish, right? What about her counterpart, Bahamut?
VII. Where did you get this info and where can I find out more?
I. Overview (including regional history)
First, some definitions: Mesopotamia, in general, refers to the
area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Assyria, was the northern
portion of Mesopotamia, who's capital was Ashur, and whose reach
included the major city of Nineveh. Sumer refers to the southern delta
region, who's primary cities included Ur, Uruk, and Eridu. Akkad was a
region north of Sumer which included the area around modern Baghdad as
well as the ancient sites of Babylon, Kish, and Nippur.
The political organization of the region was basically a
collection of city-states. Sargon of Agade (2371-16 BC) united the
regions of Sumer and Akkad. His descendants eventually lost control
of the empire due to pressures from the Hurrians, the Hittites, and
other invaders, not to mention internal pressures. In the south Sumer
again gained ascendancy, dominated by the city-state Ur. Sumer then
collapsed under the Amorites around 2000 BC. They established many sub-
kingdoms including Assyria and Babylon. Assyria attained a brief period
of dominance under Shamshi-Adad (1813-1781 BC) but was soon superseded
by Babylon under Hammurabi (1792-50BC) who established what was once
thought to be the first written law codes (more recent discoveries indicate
law codes from a coupl centuries prior to Hammurabi). The first Babylonian
dynasty collapsed in 1595BC when the Hittites sacked its eponymous capital.
Assyria had been taken over by the Mitanni but established its independence
in the mid 14th century BC. Under Tukulti-Ninurta I Assyria dominated the
entire fertile crescent in the late 13th century. By the time of Tiglath-
Pileser I, about a century later it had directed more of its attention
westwards towards Palestine and lost control of Babylon and the south.
Slowly Assyria began to expand again, reaching its apex between 750 and
650 BC under the rulers Tiglath-Pileser III, Sargon II, Senacherib, and
Ashuribanipal(668-627 BC). The empire collapsed from invaders with
Nineveh falling to Nabopalasar of Babylon in 612 BC and the empire dying
in 605 BC. Meanwhile, Babylon had been reasserting itself. Under
Nebuchadnezzar Babylon expanded westward, taking Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Babylon fell in the mid-540's to Cyrus the Persian whose empire lasted
until the late 300's BC when Alexander of Macedon established his empire
and renamed the area "Mesopotamia".
II. So these guys were just like the Sumerian Deities right?
Well some of them were mostly like the Sumerian Deities, but as
you might expect, they have their own kinks and differences. In general
the following relationships apply:
Sumerian name Babylonian Name
Ki/Ninhursag Aruru, Mammi
Ninlil Mullitu, Mylitta
This is not a cut and dry relation. Sumerian and Babylonian names
appear in the same Babylonian document, sometimes referring to the same
entity. In addition, there are numerous local variations of these
deities names which, in the next section, such 'optional' names appear
in parentheses after the more prevalent name.
III. Who were the gods and the heroes of the Babylonians then?
A. The Older (genealogical) Gods:
Apsu - the underworld ocean, masculine. The begetter of the skies
and the earth. The father of Lahmus, Lahamu, Anshar and Kishar. He
could not quell the noise of them or their children. He colluded with
his vizier Mummu to silence the gods and allow Tiamat to rest, after
Tiamat rejected the idea. Ea found out about his plans, cast a sleeping
spell on him and killed him.
Tiamat - primeval Chaos, bearer of the skies and the earth, mother
of Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, and Kishar. The clamor of the younger gods
disturbed her, but she continued to indulge them. When Apsu and Mummu
suggested that they kill the younger gods, she grew furious, calmed down
and rejected the plan. Her restless subservient gods goaded her into
action after Apsu is slain. They prepared to wage war against the other
gods. As Mother Hubur, the underworld river, who fashions all things,
she bore giant snakes with venom for blood, and cloaked dragons with a
godlike radiance yet with a terrible visage, for the war. She rallied a
horned serpent, a mushussu-dragon, a lahmu-hero, a ugallu-demon, a rabid
dog, a scorpion-man, umu-demons, a fish-man, a bull-man, and eleven
others underneath her champion, Qingu. She gave Qingu the Tablet of
Destinies to facilitate his command and attack.
Marduk came with his host to attack her. Quingu's strategy initially
confuses him, and Tiamat tried to enspell him, hurling jibes at him.
She was rebuffed and incited into single combat with Marduk. She
continued to cast her spell and Marduk netted her, and threw a wind at
her. She tried to swallow it and was undone - distended, shot, sliced
in two and cut in the heart. Her crushed skull heralded her death, and
half of her skin was used to roof up the sky. Her eyes became the
sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Lahmu and Lahamu - 'the hairy one' or 'muddy' they have three pairs
of curls, and are naked except for a triple sash. They were the first
children of Tiamat and Apsu. Kappa was sent to fetch them by Anshar, to
help send off Marduk on his fight with Tiamat and be rallied to his
side. They complied and helped find a princely shrine for Marduk
Anshar - 'whole sky' He is the father of Anu and the child of
Tiamat and Apsu. He is often paired with Kishar, and his qualities were
assimilated with Ashur. When Ea learned of Tiamat's planned war, Anshar
tried to stir him into attacking her first, but was rebuffed. He turned
to Anu and sent him on a peace mission to Tiamat, but Anu returned
unsuccessful. An assembly was convened and Marduk came forth at Ea's
urging, promising to deliver Tiamat's defeated body to Anshar's feet.
He required of the assembly a promise that he would be given the
leadership of the pantheon after he is victorious. He had Kappa gather
Lahmu, Lahamu, and the other gods together to send off Marduk on his
fight and rally them to his side. When they arrive they help find a
princely shrine for Marduk.
Kishar - 'whole earth' , She is the mother of Anu and the child of
Tiamat and Apsu.
Anu - Sumerian for "heaven", a sky god, father and king of the gods.
He is the son of Anshar and Kishar. He lives in the third heaven. The
Eanna in Uruk was dedicated both to him and consort. His first consort
was Antu. They produced the Anunnaki - the underworld gods, and the
utukki - the seven evil demons. His second consort was Innina (Ishtar).
He is a god of monarchs and is not friendly to the common people. He is
a "King of the Igigi". He is assigned the sky as his domain in
'Atrahasis'. His 'kishru's (shooting stars) have awesome strength. He
has the ability that anything he puts into words, becomes reality.
He is Niudimmud's (Ea's) father.
He calls Adapa to account for breaking the wing of the South Wind, and
offers him the food and drink of eternal life after Dumuzi and Gizzida
speak on Adapa's behalf.
He agrees to send the Bull of Heaven after Gilgamesh on Ishtar's
behalf, if she has made sure that the people of Uruk are properly
provisioned for seven years. He decrees that either Gilgamesh or Enkidu
must die for the slaying of Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. He sends
Kakka to Kurnugi to tell Ereshkigal to send a messenger to receive
a gift from him.
When Anzu stole the Tablet of Destinies from Ellil, he called for one
of the gods to slay Anzu and thereby greatly increase his reputation.
He gave Marduk the four winds to play with. He made a whirlwind and a
flood wave and stirred up Tiamat on purpose. When Tiamat's retaliation
for Apsu's death was discovered, Anshar sent him on a peace mission to
her, but he returned unsuccessfully. He helps form a princely shrine
for Marduk prior to his battle with Tiamat, and gives him the Anu-power
of decreeing fates, such that his word is law.
He and Earth father the Sebitti. He gives them fearsome fates and
powers and puts them at Erra's command, to aid in killing noisy,
over populous people and animals.
Symbol: sacred shine surmounted by the divine horned cap.
Sacred number: 60
Astrological region: heavenly equator
Sacred animal: the heavenly Bull
Antu(m) - Sumerian for "the earth", she is a colorless being who was
the first consort of Anu. They produced the Anunnaki - the underworld
gods, and the utukki - the seven evil demons. She was replaced by
Isthar (Inanna) who is sometimes her daughter.
Aruru (Ninmah, Nintu, Ninhursasga, Belet-ili, Mami) -She is the
mother goddess and was responsible for the creation of man with the help
of Enlil or Enki. She is also called the womb goddess, and midwife of
the gods. On Ea's advice, she acted on his direction and mixed clay
with the blood of the god Geshtu-e, in order to shape and birth seven
men and seven women. These people would bear the workload of the Igigi.
She also added to the creation of Gilgamesh, and, at Anu's command, made
Enkidu in Anu's image by pinching off a piece of clay, throwing it into
the wilderness, and birthing him there. Ea called her to offer her
beloved Ninurta as the one who should hunt Anzu. She does so.
Mammetum - the maker or mother of fate
Nammu - one of "the pure goddesses", Ea's mother, associated with
B. The Anunnaki, Igigi, and the Younger Gods
Ellil (Enlil) - Sumerian for "wind/storm-god". Initially the leader
of the pantheon, he has since relinquished his spot to Anu. He is possiblly
the slayer of Enmesharra and avenger of his father Anu. His role in this
was upplanted by Marduk by the Babylonians. He is a short-tempered god
who was responsible for the great flood. He is the creator of mankind.
He is thought to favor and help those in need. He guards the "tablets
of destiny", which allow him to determines the fate of all things
animate or inanimate. They was once stolen from him by a Zu, a storm-
bird (a bird with some human qualities). They were recovered and Zu
faced judgment by Ellil. His consort is Ninlil, his chief-minister is
Nusku. He was also god of the lands and of the earth. He is a "King of
the Anunnaki". He was their counselor warrior. He and his people
receive the earth in 'Atrahasis'. His temple is Duranki.
When the Igigi rebelled against him, and surrounded his house and
called for Anu. After man was created in response to the Igigi's
grievances, he grew weary of their noise and released several disasters
upon them, after each one, man recovered and then he released a new one.
The disasters included disease, flood, drought, and the great flood. He
appointed Humbaba to guard the cedar forest and terrify mankind. He
decreed that Enkidu must die for the slaying of the Bull of Heaven and
Humbaba. He does not answer Gilgamesh's plea to restore Enkidu to life.
He found a throne for Etana to rule from in Kish. He appointed Anzu as
the guardian of his bath chamber, but while bathing, Anzu stole from him
the Tablet of Destinies, and his Ellil-power. Ninurta, with Ea's advise
and Belet-ili's urgings slew Anzu and recovered the Tablet of Destinies.
Symbol: Seven small circles representing the Pleiades.
Sacred number: 50
Astrological region: north of "the way of Anu" ie. 12 degrees
north of the equator.
Ea (Enki, Nudimmud) - god of the waters. He is in charge of the
bolt which bars the sea. He knows everything. He is the "Lord of
Wisdom" and "Lord of Incantations". When he speaks, of a thing, it will
be made. He is the son of Anu, but sometimes he is the son of Anshar.
Dumkina is his consort. He created Zaltu as a complement to Ishtar.
He discovered the plot of Apsu and Mummu, put Apsu under a sleeping
spell, and slew him and put Mummu into a daze, tied him up, and slew
him. He then named his quarters Apsu, the underworld ocean that
supports the world. He and Damkina produced Bel and Marduk. (Bel is
likely to be another name for Marduk.)
He learned that Tiamat was planning a war of revenge against the gods.
His father Anshar tries to spur him into making the first attack against
Tiamat, but Ea rebuffs him. He is the sire of Marduk. When Anu's peace
mission fails, he urges Marduk into action.
He suggests the method of creating man, in response to the heavy
workload of the Igigi. As mankind's patron, he is the instructor of all
crafts, writing, building, farming, and magic. He advises mankind when
other gods would do them harm. He granted Adapa understanding, to teach
mankind. When Adapa used this knowledge to break the wing of the South
Wind, he cursed him and told him to complain of Dumuzi and Gizzida's
absence to Anu. While in Anu's court, he advises Adapa not to eat the
bread of eternal life (lest he forfeit his life on earth). He refuses
to flood mankind for Ellil. Eventually he accedes, but only after
advising Atrahasis to build a boat in which to weather the flood.
He tells Nergal to allow Enkidu's spirit to visit with Gilgamesh.
When Ea is informed of Ishtar's imprisonment in the Underworld, he
creates 'His appearance is bright' to stand at Ereshkigal's gate and
mellow her mood and have her swear an oath by the great gods. He
instructs Nergal on how to build the gift throne for Ereshkigal, and
hides him with spring water to hide him from Namtar after he returned
from the underworld.
When Anu and the gods could not locate a volunteer to kill Anzu, he
told the Igiggi that he would pick one. He instructs Belet-ili/Mami to
send Ninurta to slay Anzu and, through Sharur advises Ninurta on how to
defeat the creature.
Symbol: Ram's head; goat-fish (a goat's head on a fish's body)
Sacred number: 40
Astrological region: 12 degrees south in the sky (includes Pisces
Mummu - the craftsman god. He is attendant to Ea and Apsu's vizier.
He is very fond of Apsu and colludes with him to disperse the younger
gods when they disturb Tiamat, even after Tiamat rejects the plan. Ea
found out about his plan, enspelled him and tied him up.
Qingu - Tiamat's battle leader. He is promoted and enhanced to a
leading position from among the ranks. Tiamat places the Tablet of
Destinies into his possession, giving him the Anu-power, such that his
word is law and effects reality. He gives his army fire-quenching
breath and paralyzing venom. His battle strategy initially confuses
Marduk. He is defeated by Marduk and counted among the dead gods.
Sin (Nannar) - moon god, son of Enlil. He has a beard of Lapis
Lazuli and rides a winged bull. His consort is Ningal. He is the
father of Shamash. He does not answer Gilgamesh's plea to restore
Enkidu to life.
Sacred number: 30
Sphere of influence: the moon, calendars, vegetation, cattle
Ningal - the consort of Sin, the mother of Shamash
Ishtar (Ishhara, Irnini, Inanna) - She is Anu's second consort,
daughter of Anu and Antum, (sometimes daughter of Sin), and sometimes
the sister of Ereshkigal. She is the goddess of love, procreation, and
war. She is armed with a quiver and bow. Her temples have special
prostitutes of both genders. She is often accompanied by a lion, and
sometimes rides it. The Eanna in Uruk is dedicated both to her and Anu.
As Irnini, she has a parakku (throne-base) at the cedar mountain. She
loved Tammuz in her youth, although he spends half the year in the
nether world wailing. She loved a lion, a stallion, a shepherd, all of
whom she required great sacrifice from and abandoned. She loved
Ishullanu a gardener who offered her fruit, but was taken aback when she
revealed herself to him, so she turned him into a frog.
After Gilgamesh cleans himself up, following his defeat of Humbaba,
she asks him to be her lover and husband, and offers him many gifts and
the homage of earthly rulers and kingdoms. She is rejected, both
because of her godly nature, and as a fair-weather lover. Ishtar asks
Anu to send the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh, and he agrees.
She determines to go to the Underworld. She threatened to smash
the gate and raise the dead so that they would eat and outnumber the
living unless the gatekeeper would open it for her. She holds the great
keppu-toy (a whipping top). She is allowed in by the gate keeper, who
takes her through seven gates to Ereshkigal's realm. By Erishkigal's
rites, she is stripped of items of clothing as she passes through each
of the gates: first her crown, then her earrings, then her necklace,
then her tudditu (breast pins), then her belt of birthstones, then her
wrist and ankle bangles, and finally her garment. While in the
underworld, no creatures engaged in acts of procreation. She was kept
in Egalgina and brought forth by Namtar after being sprinkled with the
water of life, and after 'His appearance is bright' has been cursed.
She is led back out through the gates, given back her accouterments, and
released in exchange for Dumuzi (Tammuz).
Symbol: an eight or sixteen-pointed star
Sacred number: 15
Astrological region: Dibalt (Venus) and the Bowstar (Sirius)
Sacred animal: lion, (dragon)
Siduri - the barmaid, a manifestation of Ishtar who dwells at the
lip of the sea, beyond which is the Land of Life, where Utnapishtim
lives. She speaks with Gilgamesh. She wears a veil.
Shamash (Babbar, Utu) - the sun god, the son of Sin and Ningal. He
rises from the mountains with rays out of his shoulders. He enters and
exits the underworld through a set of gates in the mountain, guarded by
scorpion-people. He travels both on foot and in a chariot, pulled by
fiery mules. He upholds truth, and justice. He is a lawgiver and
informs oracles. Nergal is a corrupt aspect of his nature.
He loves Gilgamesh, hates evil and instigates Gilgamesh's quest
against Humbaba, guiding him and receiving prayers from him along the
way. He tries to intercede to Ellil on Enkidu's behalf, but is
unsuccessful. He rebukes Enkidu for cursing the Stalker and the temple
prostitute for bringing him out of the wild.
In Kish, the eagle and the serpent swore an oath to Shamash that they
would not overstep the limits of Shamash. The eagle broke the oath and
ate the eggs of the serpent. Shamash, 'whose net is as wide as earth',
told the serpent how to serve the eagle justice. The serpent lured the
eagle with a bull carcass and captured him. The eagle requested to be
spared and the serpent refused, saying that Shamash's punishment would
fall on him if he did not carry it out. He cut the eagle's wings and
left him to die in a pit. The eagle prayed to Shamash for mercy, and
Shamash refused to help personally, but sent Etana to help the eagle.
He agreed to help Etana's infertility problem if Etana would help the
Symbol: Solar disk with a four point star inside with rays
coming from between the points. A winged disk.
Sacred Number: 20
Aia - Shamash's consort
Kakka - Anshar and Anu's vizier, who is sent to Kurnugi to deliver
Ereshkigal the message that Anu wishes to deliver a gift to her via one
of her messengers. Anshar sends him to round up Lahmu and Lahamu to
send off Marduk for his battle with Tiamat and rally them to his side.
Ninlil - Ellil's consort
Nusku - the god of fire and Ellil's vizier.
Gerra (Gibil) - the god of fire, Anunitu (Antu)'s son. He despairs
and will not attack Anzu after Anzu has stolen the Tablet of Destinies
Ishum (Hendursanga - 'lofty mace') - He is the god of fire, and is
adept at using weapons. He lights the way in front of Erra and the
Sebitti. He advises Erra against attacking Marduk or his people in
Babylon. When Erra takes Marduk's seat, Ishum persuades him against
destroying Babylon, finally appeasing him by promising that the other
gods would acknowledge themselves as his servants.
Kalkal - Ellil's doorkeeper in Nippur
Dumkina - Ea's lover, mother of Bel and Marduk (note Bel is likely to
be another title for Marduk).
Nash (Nanshe) - one of "the pure goddesses", Ea's daughter. Her cult
center is Sirara near Lagash.
Zaltu - "strife", goddess created by Ea to complement Ishtar
Ninurta (shares some characteristics with Ningrisu) - Chamberlain of
the Anunnaki, the war god, the champion of the land. He is the child of
Ellil and Mami. He was born in Ekur, Ellil's temple in Ekur. He is
responsible for some small scale irrigation. He has a bow and arrow,
sometimes they are poisoned. He also carries the mace, Sharur which can
act as a messenger between Ninurta and other beings (notably Ea). He
can marshal the Seven of Battle, who can generate whirlwinds.
He bound the Mountain of Stones in his fury, conquered the Anzu with
his weapon and slew the bull-man inside the Sea. (Dalley p. 204).
After the Tablet of Destinies was stolen, Belit-ili, at Ea's advice,
instructed him to kill Anzu. Initially his assault was futile, but
Sharur relayed advise from Ea to him, which, when it was carried out
allowed him to slay Anzu in a great onslaught. He recovered the Tablet
of Destinies for Ellil. Nissaba performs a purification ceremony on him
and he receives the following new names and shrines: Duku - 'holy mound'
in Sumerian, Hurabtil - an Elamite god, Shushinak - patron god of the
Elamite city Susa, Lord of the Secret, Pabilsag - god of the
antediluvian city Larak, Nin-Azu - god of Eshunna, Ishtaran - god of
Der, Zababa -warrior god of Kish, Lugalbanda - Gilgamesh's father,
Lugal-Marada - patron god of Marad, Warrior Tishpak - similar to Nin-
Azu, Warrior of Uruk, Lord of the Boundary-Arrow, Panigara - a warrior
god, and Papsukkal - vizier of the great gods.
Ninsun - 'the great wild cow', the great queen, Gilgamesh's mother
and Lugalbanda's mate. She is wise, 'knows everything' and interprets
Gilgamesh's dreams. She offers incense and drink to Shamash and
questions his decision to send Gilgamesh against Humbaba. When doing
so, she wears a circlet on her head and an ornament on her breast. She
adopts Enkidu prior to the quest against Humbaba.
Marduk - son of Ea and Dumkina. He supplants the other Babylonian
deities to become the central figure of their pantheon. He is a "King
of the Igigi" He often works with and asks questions of his father. He
has fifty names many of which are those of other deities whose
attributes he usurped. He was of proud form and piercing stare, born
mature, powerful, and perfect and superior. He has four eyes, four
ears, and emits fire from his mouth when he speaks. He is also gifted
Anu gave him the four winds to play with. When Anu's peace mission to
Tiamat fails, Ea urges him into action. He goes before Anshar and the
divine assembly and declares that he will defeat Tiamat and lay her head
at his feet, but that the assembly must promise that he should be the
one to fix fates and more or less assume the role of the leader of the
pantheon. Anshar, Lahmu, Lahamu, and Anu find him a shrine and Anu
instills upon him the Anu-power in which, his word decrees fate. He is
proclaimed king and invested with the scepter, throne, and staff-of-
office. He is given an unfaceable weapon, the flood-weapon. He takes a
bow and arrow and mace. He puts lightning in front of him, marshals his
winds, makes a net to encircle Tiamat, fills his body with flame. He
rides his storm-chariot driven by Slayer, Pitiless, Racer, and Flyer,
poison-toothed, tireless steeds. He had a spell on his lips and an anti-
toxin in his hand. He led the gods to battle. (P.251-252 Dalley)
Qingu's strategy confused him. Tiamat tried to enspell him and wheedled
at him. Marduk reproaches her and calls her out for single combat. She
looses her temper and they fight. He unleashes his weapons at her,
distended her body with winds, shot her in the belly with an arrow,
split her in two and slit her heart. He defeats the rest of her forces
and retrieves the Tablet of Destinies.
He smashed Tiamat's skull to herald her death. He made half of her
skin the roof of the sky. He leveled Apsu, measured it and established
numerous shrines for many of the gods. He set up stands for the gods,
constructed the heavens and regulated the year, giving Shamash some
dominion over the months and the year. He made the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers from Tiamat's eyes and made mountains from her udders. He
smashed the weapons of Tiamat's army and put images of them at the gates
to the underworld. He set up his temple at Esharra and his seat in
Babylon. The gods honored him as king. He put blood and bones together
as and made early man to bear the work of the gods, as in Atrahasis.
For Qingu's part in the war he was made to provide the blood for the
creation of man. He divided the Anunnaki and placed 300 to guard the
sky, and six hundred to dwell in heaven and earth. He had them create
Babylon building the Esagalia temple and a high ziggurat. Anshar gave
him many new names: 1. Asarluhi, 2. Marduk, 3. The Son, The Majesty of
the Gods, 4. Marukka, 5. Mershakushu, 6. Lugal-dimmer-ankia (King of
heaven and earth), 7. Bel, 8. Nari-lugal-dimmer-ankia, 9. Asarluhi, 10.
Namtila, 11. Namru, 12. 'Asare, 13. Asar-alim, 14. Asar-alim-nuna, 15.
Tutu, 16. Zi-ukkina, 17. Ziku, 18. Agaku, 19. Shazu, 20. Zisi, 21.
Suhrim, 22. Suhgurim, 23. Zahrim, 24. Zahgurim, 25. Enbilulu, 26.
Epadun, 27. Gugal, 28. Hegal, 29. Sirsir, 30. Malah, 31. Gil, 32.
Gilima, 33. Agilima, 34. Zulum, 35. Mummu, 36. Zulum-ummu, 37. Gizh-
numun-ab, 38. Lugal-ab-dubur, 39. Pagal-guena, 40. Lugal-Durmah, 41.
Aranuna, 42. Dumu-duku, 43. Lugal-duku, 44. Lugal-shuanna, 45. Iruga,
46. Irqingu, 47. Kinma, 48. Kinma, 49. E-sizkur, 50. Addu, 51. Asharu,
52. Neberu, 53. Enkukur. He becomes a firm lawgiver and judge who, when
angered is not stoppable. Later he becomes somewhat negligent and Erra
challenges him by preparing to attack his people in Babylon. He
responds to the challenge by saying that he already killed most of the
people in the flood and would not do so again. He also states that no-
one would be in control of things if he got off of his throne to work up
a flood, to which Erra volunteers to run things from Marduk's throne.
Bel - Cleverest of the clever and sage of the gods, he is the child
of Ea and Dumkina. This name (meaning 'lord') is most likely referring
Ashur (A-sir, Arusar, A-shar, Assur) - god of Assyria and war. He
is a "King of the Igigi"
Symbol: winged disk enclosing upper body, while he shoots an
Shullat - Shamash's servant
Papsukkal - vizier of the Great Gods, son of Sin. While Ishtar was
in the Underworld, he became gloomy and informed Sin and Ea of this
Hanish - the weather god's servant
Adad (the Canaanite Hadad, the Hurrian Teshub, Canaanite/Egyptian
Resheph, Rimmon) - a storm god, Anu's son. He holds a lightning bolt in
his right hand and an axe in his left. He is partially responsible for
the flood. He despairs and will not attack Anzu after Anzu has stolen
the Tablet of Destinies from Ellil.
Sacred number: 6
Sacred animal: Bull
Shara - Anu and Ishtar's son. He despairs and will not attack Anzu
after Anzu has stolen the Tablet of Destinies from Ellil.
Nin-ildu - the carpenter god. He carries the pure axe of the sun.
Gushkin-banda - creator of god and man, goldsmith god.
Nin-agal - 'lord strong-arm' patron god of smiths. He chews copper
and makes tools.
C. The Anunnaki and other chthonic deities and demons
Ereshkigal (Allatu) - the supreme goddess of the underworld.
Nergal is her consort. She is often considered Ishtar's sister. When
angered, her face grows livid and her lips grow black.
She doesn't know why Ishtar would visit her, but she allows her in,
according to the ancient rites. She instructs Namtar to release his
diseases upon Ishtar. When 'His appearance is bright' tries to get her
to swear an oath, she curses him. She has Namtar release Ishtar in
exchange for Dumuzi.
Anu sends Kakka to her with a message and then sends Nergal to give
her a throne upon which she is to sit and give judgment. She offers
Nergal food, drink, a foot bath, and entices him with her body.
Eventually he succumbs and they sleep with each other for seven days.
She is enraged when he wishes to leave. She sends Namtar to heaven to
request that Anu, Ellil, and Ea send Nergal to her as one of the few
favors she has ever had. If they do not, she will raise the dead and
they will eat and outnumber the living. Nergal is brought back. In some
versions of the myth, Nergal takes control of Namtar's attendant demons
and grabs Ereshkigal by the hair. In this position she proposes
marriage to him. In both versions they are married.
Belit-tseri, tablet-scribe of the underworld. She kneels before
Namtar(a) - the Fate-Cutter, Ereshkigal's messenger and vizier, the
herald of death. He commands sixty diseases, which are grouped by the
part of the body which they affect. Offerings to him may stave off
diseases. He takes Ishtar back out of the Underworld at Ereshkigal's
command. He acts as her messenger to Anu.
Sumuqan - the cattle god, he resides in the underworld, in
Nergal (Erragal, Erra, Engidudu - 'lord who prowls by night') -,
the Unsparing, god of the underworld, husband of Ereshkigal, lover of
Mami. As Erra he is a hunter god, a god of war and plague. He is
submissive to Ea. He can open the doorposts to the underworld to allow
the passage of a soul.
He achieved his post by refusing to stand before an address of Namtar.
When Ereshkigal called him to be punished, he dragged her off of her
throne by the hair, and threatened to decapitate her. She offered him
the position as her consort and he accepted.
He is an evil aspect of Shamash. He allows Enkidu's spirit to visit
Gilgamesh at the behest of Ea. He is sometimes the son of Ea. Prior to
his first journey to the underworld, he builds a chair of fine wood
under Ea's instruction to give to Ereshkigal as a gift from Anu. He is
advised not to take part of the food, drink and entertainment offered
there. He is tempted by Ereshkigal and eventually succumbs, sleeping
with her for seven days. He then takes his leave, angering her. The
gatekeeper lets him out and he climbs the stairway to heaven. He hides
from Namtar in heaven, but is discovered and returns to the underworld
to marry Ereshkigal. In some versions, on the way back to the
Underworld, he seizes control of Namtar's attendant demons and grabs
Ereshkigal by the hair. In this position she offers marriage.
He commands the Sebitti, seven warriors who are also the Pleadies,
they aid in his killing of noisy, over-populous people and animals. He
rallies them when he feels the urge for war, and calls Ishum to light
the way. They prefer to be used in war instead of waiting while Erra
kills by disease.
He regards Marduk as having become negligent and prepares to attack
his people in Babylon. He challenges Marduk in Esagila in
Shuanna/Babylon. Marduk responds that he already killed most of the
people in the flood and would not do so again. He also states that he
could not run the flood without getting off of his throne and letting
control slip. Erra volunteers to take his seat and control things.
Marduk takes his vacation and Erra sets about trying to destroy Babylon.
Ishum intervenes on Babylon's behalf and persuades Erra to stop, but not
before he promises that the other gods will acknowledge themselves as
Irra - plague god, underling of Nergal
Enmesharra - Underworld god
Lamashtu - a dread female demon also known as 'she who erases'.
Nabu - god of writing and wisdom.
Nedu - the guardian of the first gate of the underworld.
Ningizzia - a guardian of the gate of heaven; a god of the
Tammuz (Dumuzi, Adonis) the brother and spouse to Ishtar, or the
lover of her youth. He is a vegetation god. He went into the
underworld and was recovered through the intervention of Ishtar. He is
sometimes the guardian of heaven's gates and sometimes a god of the
underworld. He is friends with Ningizzia. He is exchanged for Ishtar
in the Underworld. He guards the Gate of Anu with Gizzida.
Belili (Geshtinanna) - Tammuz/Dumuzi's sister, 'the one who always
weeps', the wife of Ningishzida.
Gizzida (Gishzida) - son of Ninazu, consort of Belili, doorkeeper
Nissaba (Nisaba) - cereal grain harvest goddess. Her breast
nourishes the fields. Her womb gives birth to the vegetation and grain.
She has abundant locks of hair. She is also a goddess of writing and
learned knowledge. She performs the purification ceremony on Ninurta
after he has slain Anzu and is given his additional names and shrines.
Dagan (Ugaric for 'grain) - chthonic god of fertility and of the
Underworld. He is paired with Anu as one who acknowledges directives
and courses of action put forth in front of the assembly of the gods.
Birdu - (means 'pimple') an underworld god. Ellil used him as a
messenger to Ninurta
Sharru - god of submission
Urshambi - boatman to Utnapishtim
Ennugi - canal- controller of the Anunnaki.
Geshtu-e - 'ear', god whose blood and intelligence are used by Mami
to create man.
D. Demigods, heroes, and monsters:
Adapa (Uan) - the first of the seven antediluvian sages who were
sent by Ea to deliver the arts of civilization to mankind. He was from
Eridu. He offered food an water to the gods in Eridu. He went out to
catch fish for the temple of Ea and was caught in a storm. He broke the
South Wind's wing and was called to be punished. Ea advised him to say
that he behaved that way on account of Dumuzi's and Gizzida's absence
from the country. Those gods, who tended Anu's gate, spoke in his favor
to Anu. He was offered the bread and water of eternal life, but Ea
advised against his taking it, lest he end his life on earth.
Atrahasis and Ut-napishtim, like the Sumerian Ziusudra (the
Xisuthros of Berossus) or Noah from the Pentateuch, were the long-lived
survivors of the great flood which wiped out the rest of humanity. In
Atrahasis' case, Ellil had grown tired of the noise that the mass of
humanity was making, and after a series of disasters failed to eliminate
the problem, he had Enki release the floodgates to drown them out.
Since Enki had a hand in creating man, he wanted to preserve his
creation, warned Atrahasis, and had him build a boat, with which he
weathered the flood. He also had kept his ear open to Enki during the
previous disasters and had been able to listen to Enki's advice on how
to avoid their full effects by making the appropriate offerings to the
appropriate deities. He lived hundreds of years prior to the flood,
while Utnapishtim lives forever after the flood.
Utnapishtim of Shuruppak was the son of Ubaratutu. His flood has no
reason behind it save the stirrings of the hearts of the Gods. As with
Atrahasis, Utnapishtim is warned to build an ark by Ea. He is also told
to abandon riches and possessions and seek life and to tell the city
elders that he is hated by Enlil and would go to the watery Abyss to
live with Ea via the ark. He loads gold, silver, and the seed of all
living creatures into the ark and all of his craftsmen's children as
well. After Ea advises Enlil on better means to control the human
population, (predators, famine, and plague), Enlil makes Utnapishtim and
his wife immortal, like the gods.
Lugalbanda - a warrior-king and, with Ninsun, the progenitor of
Gilgamesh. He is worshipped, being Gilgamesh's ancestor, by Gilgamesh
as a god.
Gilgamesh (possibly Bilgamesh) and Enkidu
The son of the warrior-king Lugalbanda and the wise goddess
Ninsun, Gilgamesh built the walls of the city Uruk, and the Eanna (house
of An) temple complex there, dedicated to Ishtar. He is two-thirds
divine and one-third human. He is tall and a peerless warrior. He is
the king and shepherd of the people of Uruk, but he was very wild, which
upset his people, so they called out to Anu. Anu told Aruru to make a
peer for Gilgamesh, so that they could fight and be kept occupied, so
she created the wild-man Enkidu. Enkidu terrorizes the countryside, and
a Stalker, advised by his father, informs Gilgamesh. They bring a love-
priestess to bait Enkidu. She sleeps with him, and educates him about
civilization, Gilgamesh and the city. Gilgamesh dreams about Enkidu and
is anxious to meet him. Enkidu comes into the city Gilgamesh is on his
way to deflower the brides in the city's "bride-house" and the two
fight. They are evenly matched and become friends.
Gilgamesh decides to strengthen his reputation by taking on
Humbaba, Enlil's guardian of the forest. Enkidu accompanies Gilgamesh
and they spend much time in preparation. Eventually they find the
monster and defeat him.
Ishtar offers to become Gilgamesh's lover, but Gilgamesh insults
her, saying that she has had many lovers and has not been faithful to
them. Ishtar asks Anu to send the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh,
and he does. Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat the creature, but Enkidu falls
ill and dies, presumably because the gods are unhappy that he helped
kill Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven.
Gilgamesh morns Enkidu and decides to visit Utnapishtim, the only
human who does not die. He goes to the mountains of Mashu and passes by
the guardian scorpion-demons into the darkness. It becomes light as he
enters the Garden of the Gods and he finds Siduri the Barmaid, to whom
he relates his quest. She sends him to cross the waters of death and he
confronts the boatman, Urshanabi. They cross and Gilgamesh speaks with
Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim recounts the tale of the flood and challenges
Gilgamesh to remain awake for six days and seven nights. He fails, but
Utnapishtim's wife urges him to reveal to Gilgamesh a rejuvinative
plant. Gilgamesh takes it, but looses it to a serpent before returning
Another tablet of the Babylonian Gilgamesh story exists, which is
similar to the Sumerian version of the tale. Enkidu volunteers to enter
the underworld to recover Gilgamesh's pukku and mikku (drum and throwing
stick). Gilgamesh warns him of the proper etiquette for the underworld,
lest Enkidu be kept there. Enkidu prepares to enter the underworld, and
is dressed, scented and bade good-bye. The Earth seizes him and
Gilgamesh weeps. He pleads for Enkidu's sake to Enlil, Sin, and finally
to Ea. Ea tells Nergal to let Enkidu's ghost escape the underworld and
tell Gilgamesh about it. He tells Gilgamesh of the dead which he has
seen there, of those who are cared for and those who aren't, indicating
the sort of judgment and ritual associated with the afterlife and death.
Etana - the human taken to the sky by an eagle. He was the king
of Kish. Ishtar and the Igigi searched for a king for Kish. Ellil found
a throne for Etana and they declared him the king. He was pious an
continued to pray to Shamash, yet he had no son. Shamash told him to
where to find the eagle with the cut wings, who would find for him the
plant of birth. He found the eagle, fed it, and taught it to fly again.
Not being able to find the plant, the eagle had Etana mount on his back
and they journeyed to Ishtar, mistress of birth. On flying up to
heaven, Etana grew scared at the height and went down. Then after some
encouraging dreams tried to ascend to heaven on the eagle again. They
succeeded. Etana had a son, Balih.
Humbaba (Huwawa) - this monster was appointed by Ellil to guard
the cedar forest, which is in fact one large tree, the home of the gods,
and terrify mankind. 'His shout is the storm-flood, his mouth, fire,
his breath is death.' (Gardner & Maier p. 105) He has seven cloaks with
which to arm himself. There is a gate and a path in the cedar mountain
for Humbaba to walk on. Gilgamesh and Enkidu attack. Humbaba pleads
for mercy, Enkidu argues against mercy, and Enkidu and Gilgamesh
The Bull of Heaven - this creature was created by Anu to kill
Gilgamesh at Ishtar's behest. At its snorting, a hole opened up and 200
men fell into it. When it fights Enkidu and Gilgamesh, it throws
spittle and excrement at them. It is killed and set as an offering to
Anzu - a demonic being with lion paws and face and eagle talons
and wings. It was born on the mountain Hehe. It's beak is like a saw,
its hide as eleven coats of mail. It was very powerful. Ellil
appointed him to guard his bath chamber. He envied the Ellil-power
inherent in Ellil's Tablet of Destinies and stole it while Ellil was
bathing. With the Tablet of Destinies, anything he puts into words
becomes reality. He takes advandtage of this by causing Ninurta's
arrows to never reach their target. However, once Ea's advice reached
Ninurta, Anzu was slain by the hero's onslaught.
aqrabuamelu (girtablilu) - scorpion-man, the guardians of the
gates of the underworld. Their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is
death". They guard the passage of Shamash. They appraise Gilgamesh and
speak with him.
Anunnaki - gods (mostly of the earth). The sky Anunnaki set the
Igigi to digging out the rivers
Igigi - gods (mostly of the heavens) They are given the task of
digging riverbeds by the Anunnaki. They rebelled against Ellil.
Sebitti - the seven warrior gods led by Erra; in the sky they are
the Pleadies. They were children of Anu and the Earth-mother. Anu gave
them fearsome and lethal destinies and put them under Erra's command.
They prefer to exercise there skills instead of letting Erra stay in the
cities with his diseases.
Utukki - demons
Muttabriqu - Flashes of Lightning
Sarabda - Bailiff
Rabishu - Croucher
Tirid - Expulsion
Idiptu - Wind
Bennu - Fits
Sidana - Staggers
Miqit - Stroke
Bel Uri - Lord of the Roof
Umma - Feverhot
Libu - Scab
gallu-demons - can frequently alter their form.
umu-demons - fiercely bare their teeth.
IV. What about the Underworld and Heaven and all that?
For a more general discussion of this, take a look at the
Underworld and Cosmology sections in the Sumerian FAQ, for the
particulars, see below.
The Igigi and the Anunaki met in heaven in Ubshu-ukkinakku, the
divine assembly hall. The Gilgamesh epic has the gods dwelling in the
cedar mountain. They had their parakku, throne-bases, there. It was an
enormous tree at the cedar forest and was guarded by Humbaba. There is
a stairway up to heaven from the underworld.
As for the underworld Kurnugi (Sumerian for 'land of no return').
It is presided over by Ereshkigal and Nergal. Within the house of
Irkalla (Nergal), the house of darkness, the house of Ashes, no one ever
exits. "They live on dust, their food is mud; their clothes are like
birds' clothes, a garment of wings, and they see no light, living in
blackness." It is full of dust and mighty kings serve others food. In
Ereshkigal's court, heroes and priests reside, as well as Sumuqan and
Belit-tseri. The scorpion-people guard the gates in the mountain to the
underworld which Shamash uses to enter and exit. There are seven gates,
through which one must pass. At each gate, an adornment or article of
clothing must be removed. The gates are named: Nedu, (En)kishar,
Endashurimma, (E)nuralla, Endukuga/Nerubanda, Endushuba/Eundukuga, and
Ennugigi. Beyond the gates are twelve double doors, wherein it is dark.
Siduri waits there by the waters of death, beyond which, is the Land of
the Living, where Utnapishtim and his wife dwell. Shamash and
Utnapishtim's boatman, Urshanbi, can cross the waters. Egalginga, the
everlasting palace, is a place where Ishtar was held.
V. Hey! I read that Cthulhu is really some Babylonian or Sumerian god,
how come he's not there under Kutu?
I have yet to find any secondary (or for that matter primary) source
which lists Kutu as a Mesopotamian deity, or for that matter lists any
name resembling Cthulhu at all. However, having been given a pointer by
DanNorder@aol.com, I have confirmed that Kutha or Cutch was the cult
city of Nergal, the Akkadian god of plagues and the underworld (see
above) and that 'lu' is the Sumerian word for man. So, Kuthalu
would mean Kutha-man which could conceivably refer to Nergal. As far
as I can tell it could mean Joe the Butcher or any of his neighbors
who happen to live in Kutha just as easily. Nergal, of course bears
little resemblance to Lovecraft's Cthulhu beyond the fact that both
can be considered underworld powers. Those interested in further
discussion about this contact might wish to contact Dan at the above
address and they may wish to read alt.horror.cthulhu as well.
VI. So, in AD&D, Tiamat is this five-headed evil dragon, but they got her
from the Enumma Elish, right? What about her counterpart, Bahamut?
Bahamut, according to Edgerton Sykes' _Who's Who of Non-Classical
Mythology_, is "The enormous fish on which stands Kujara, the giant
bull, whose back supports a rock of ruby, on the top of which stands an
angel on whose shoulders rests the earth, according to Islamic myth.
Our word Behemoth is of the same origin." (Sykes, p. 28)<p>
Behemoth then, is usually the male counterpart to Leviathan, and is a
great beast that roams on land. He is sometimes equated with a
hippopotamus, and is alternately listed as a creature on the side of
God and as one over whom God has or will triumph over.<p>
VII. Where did you get this info and where can I find out more?
Well this FAQ is primarily derived from the following works:
Barraclough, Geoffrey (ed.) _The Times Consise Atlas of World History_,
Hammond Inc., Maplewood, New Jersey, 1982.
Dalley, Stephanie _Myths from Mesopotamia_, Oxford University Press, New
Gardner, John & Maier, John _Gilgamesh_:Translated from the Sin-Leqi-
Unninni Version_, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, 1984.
Hooke, S. H., _Babylonian_and_Assyrian_Religion_, University of Oklahoma
Press, Norman Oklahoma, 1963.
Kinnier Wilson, J. V., _The Rebel Lands : An Investigation into the
Origins of Early Mesopotamian Mythology_, Cambridge, Cambridge
University Press, 1979.
McCall, Henrietta, _Mesopotamian Myths_, University of Texas Press,
_The New American Bible_, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1970.
In addition the following books have occasionally proven helpful:
Carlyon, Richard, _A Guide to the Gods_, Quill, William Morrow, New
Hooke, S. H., _Middle Eastern Mythology_, Viking Penguin Inc., New York,
Jacobsen, Thorkild, _The Treasures of Darkness_, Yale University Press,
New Haven, 1976.
Pritchard, J. B. (ed), _The_Ancient_Near_Eastern_Texts_Relating_to_the_
_Old_Testiment_, Princeton, 1969.
Sykes, Edgerton, _Who's Who in Non-Classical Mythology_, Oxford
University Press, New York, 1993.