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Encyclopedia > Ishtar
Fertile Crescent
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4 primary: Semitic gods refers to the gods or deities of peoples generally classified as speaking a Semitic language. ... The word mythology (from the Greek μυολογία mythología, from mythologein to relate myths, from mythos, meaning a narrative, and logos, meaning speech or argument) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and... Image File history File links Palm_tree_symbol. ... Mesopotamian mythology is the collective name given to Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mythologies from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. ... In the Levantine pantheon, the Elohim are the sons of El the ancient of days (olam) assembled on the divine holy place, Mount Zephon (Jebel Aqra). ... Arabian mythology is the ancient beliefs of the Arabs. ... Mesopotamia refers to the region now occupied by modern Iraq, and parts of eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and southwest Iran. ... The apsû (also known as abzu or engur) was the name for the mythological underground freshwater ocean in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. ... In Sumerian mythology, the Annuna, the fifty great gods, whose domain appears to be principally but not exclusively the underworld. ... The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Babylonia and is among the earliest known literary works. ... In Sumerian mythology, the utukku were a type of spirits or demons that could be either benevolent or evil. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Mesopotamian mythology. ... Mesopotamian mythology is the collective name given to Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mythologies from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. ...

3 sky: In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu (also An; (from Sumerian *An = sky, heaven)) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (or Ki) was the earth and mother-goddess. ... Enki (DEN.KI(G)) was a deity in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Babylonian mythology, originally chief god of the city of Eridu. ...

Ishtar (DIŠTAR DINGIR INANNA 𒀭𒌋𒁯) is the Assyrian and Babylonian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte. Anunit, Atarsamain and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Shamash or Sama, was the common Akkadian name of the sun-god in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu. ... Ishtar is a Mesopotamian deity. ... Dingir is the Sumerian for deity. It is written as an ideogram in the cuneiform script. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... An Assyrian winged bull, or lamassu. ... Babylonia was a state in the south part of Mesopotamia (in modern Iraq), combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Mesopotamian mythology is the collective name given to Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mythologies from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. ... Inanna was one of the most revered of goddesses among later Sumerian mythology. ... In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic (from the Biblical Shem, Hebrew: שם, translated as name, Arabic: سام) was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages. ... Statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture For the 1934 film, see, see The Goddess (1934 film). ... Astarte on a car with four branches protruding from roof. ... Ishtar is the Akkadian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte. ... Atarsamain (morning star of heaven) is an astral deity of uncertain gender, worshipped in pre-Islamic northern and central Arabia. ... Esther (1865), by John Everett Millais Esther (Hebrew: , Standard  Tiberian ), born Hadassah, was a woman in the Hebrew Bible, the queen of Ahasuerus (commonly identified with either Xerxes I or Artaxerxes II), and heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther which is named after her. ...

Contents

Characteristics

Ishtar is a goddess of fertility, sexual love, and war.[1] In the Babylonian pantheon, she "was the divine personification of the planet Venus".[2]


Ishtar was above all associated with sexuality: her cult involved sacred prostitution; her holy city Erech was called the "town of the sacred courtesans"; she herself as the "courtesan of the gods"; and she had many lovers.[3] However, as Guirand notes, In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings (scriptures), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. ...

"woe to him whom Ishtar had honoured! The fickle goddess treated her passing lovers cruelly, and the unhappy wretches usually paid dearly for the favours heaped on them. Animals, enslaved by love, lost their native vigour: they fell into traps laid by men or were domesticated by them. 'Thou has loved the lion, mighty in strength', says the hero Gilgamesh to Ishtar, 'and thou hast dug for him seven and seven pits! Thou hast loved the steed, proud in battle, and destined him for the halter, the goad and the whip.' Gilgamesh, according to the Sumerian king list, was the fifth king of Uruk (Early Dynastic II, first dynasty of Uruk), the son of Lugalbanda, ruling circa 2650 BC. He is also the central character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which says that his mother was Ninsun, (whom some call Rimat...

"Even for the gods Ishtar's love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and -- if we are to believe Gilgamesh -- this love caused the death of Tammuz."[4]

Ishtar was the daughter of Sin or Anu.[5] She was particularly worshiped at Nineveh and Arbela (Erbil).[6]

Detail of the reconstructed Ishtar Gate.
Detail of the reconstructed Ishtar Gate.

Detail of the Ishtar Gate (Pergamon Museum, Berlin. ... Detail of the Ishtar Gate (Pergamon Museum, Berlin. ... The reconstructed Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin A detail from the reconstructed gate. ...

Descent into the underworld

One of the most famous myths[7] about Ishtar describes her descent to the underworld. In this myth, Ishtar approaches the gates of the underworld and demands that the gatekeeper open them:

"If thou openest not the gate to let me enter, I will break the door, I will wrench the lock, I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors. I will bring up the dead to eat the living. And the dead will outnumber the living."

The gatekeeper hurried to tell Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. Ereshkigal told the gatekeeper to let Ishtar enter, but "according to the ancient decree".


The gatekeeper lets Ishtar into the underworld, opening one gate at a time. At each gate, Ishtar has to shed one article of clothing. When she had finally passes the seventh gate, she is naked. In rage, Ishtar throws herself at Ereshkigal, but Ereshkigal orders her servant Namtar to imprison Ishtar and unleash sixty diseases against her.


After Ishtar descends to the underworld, all sexual activity ceases on earth. The god Papsukal reports the situation to Ea, the king of the gods. Ea creates a eunuch called Asu-shu-namir and sends him to Ereshkigal, telling him to invoke "the name of the great gods" against her and to ask for the bag containing the waters of life. Ereshkigal is enraged when she hears Asu-shu-namir's demand, but she has to give him the water of life. Asu-shu-namir sprinkles Ishtar with this water, reviving her. Then Ishtar passes back through the seven gates, getting one article of clothing back at each gate, and is fully clothed as she exits the last gate.


Here there is a break in the text of the myth. The text resumes with the following lines:

"If she (Ishtar) will not grant thee her release, To Tammuz, the lover of her youth, Pour out pure waters, pour out fine oil; With a festival garment deck him that he may play on the flute of lapis lazuli, That the votaries may cheer his liver. [his spirit] Belili [sister of Tammuz] had gathered the treasure, With precious stones filled her bosom. When Belili heard the lament of her brother, she dropped her treasure, She scattered the precious stones before her, "Oh, my only brother, do not let me perish! On the day when Tammuz plays for me on the flute of lapis lazuli, playing it for me with the porphyry ring. Together with him, play ye for me, ye weepers and lamenting women! That the dead may rise up and inhale the incense."

Formerly, scholars[8][9] believed that the myth of Ishtar's descent took place after the death of Ishtar's lover, Tammuz: they thought Ishtar had gone to the underworld to rescue Tammuz. However, the discovery of a corresponding myth[10] about Inanna, the Sumerian counterpart of Ishtar, has thrown some light on the myth of Ishtar's descent, including its somewhat enigmatic ending lines. According to the Inanna myth, Inanna can only return from the underworld if she sends someone back in her place. Demons go with her to make sure she sends someone back. However, each time Inanna runs into someone, she finds him to be a friend and lets him go free. When she finally reaches her home, she finds her husband Dumuzi (Babylonian Tammuz) seated on his throne, not mourning her at all. In anger, Inanna has the demons take Dumuzi back to the underworld as her replacement. Dumuzi's sister Geshtinanna is grief-stricken and volunteers to spend half the year in the underworld, during which time Dumuzi can go free. The Ishtar myth presumably has a comparable ending, Belili being the Bablyonian equivalent of Geshtinanna.[11]


Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode[12] involving Ishtar. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers: The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Babylonia and is among the earliest known literary works. ...

"Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured roller, but still you struck and broke his wing [...] You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong [...] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks."[13]

Angered by Gilgamesh's refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to the high god Anu. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. If he refuses, she warns, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn't let her in: In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu (also An; (from Sumerian *An = sky, heaven)) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. ... The worship of the Sacred Bull throughout the ancient world is most familiar in the episode of the idol of the Golden Calf made by Aaron and worshipped by the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus). ...

"If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living."[14]

Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the sun-god Shamash. Enkidu and Gilgamesh, cylinder seal from Ur III Enkidu (𒂗𒆠𒆕 EN.KI.DU3 Enkis creation) appears in Sumerian mythology as a mythical wild-person raised by animals; his beast-like ways are finally tamed by a courtesan named Shamhat. ... Shamash or Sama, was the common Akkadian name of the sun-god in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu. ...


While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull's right thigh and throws it in Ishtar's face, saying, "If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side."[15] Then Ishtar called together "her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,"[16] and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven. Uruk (Sumerian Unug, Biblical Erech, Greek Orchoë and Arabic وركاء Warka), was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates, on the line of the ancient Nil canal, in a region of marshes, about 140 miles (230 km) SSE from Baghdad. ...


Comparisons with other deities

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses who were "as cruel as they were wayward".[17] Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her "dying god" lover Adonis[18] on one hand, and the love goddess Isthar and her "dying god" lover Tammuz on the other.[19] Some scholars have suggested that For other uses, see Aphrodite (disambiguation). ... Astarte on a car with four branches protruding from roof. ... The category life-death-rebirth deity also known as a dying-and-rising god is a convenient means of classifying the many divinities in world mythology who are born, suffer death or an eclipse or other death-like experience, pass a phase in the underworld among the dead, and are... Adonis is an archetypal life-death-rebirth deity in Greek mythology, and a central cult figure in various mystery religions. ...

"the myth of Adonis was derived in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from Babylonia through the Western Semites, the Semitic title 'Adon', meaning 'lord', having been mistaken for a proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted without qualifications."[20]

Joseph Campbell, a more recent popularizer of mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the violent yet loving Hindu goddess Kali, the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.[21] Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 31, 1987) was an American professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion. ... A Hindu ( , Devanagari: हिन्दु), as per modern definition, is an adherent of the philosophies and scriptures of Hinduism, and the religious, philosophical and cultural system that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ...


Notes

  1. ^ Wilkinson, p. 24
  2. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  3. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  4. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  5. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  6. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  7. ^ Jastrow
  8. ^ Guirand, p. 58
  9. ^ Mackenzie, p. 95-98
  10. ^ Wolkstein and Kramer, p. 52-89
  11. ^ Kirk, p. 109
  12. ^ Gilgamesh, p. 85-88
  13. ^ Gilgamesh, p. 86
  14. ^ Gilgamesh, p. 87
  15. ^ Gilgamesh, p. 88
  16. ^ Gilgamesh, p. 88
  17. ^ Mackenzie, p. 103
  18. ^ Mackenzie, p. 83
  19. ^ Mackenzie, p. 103
  20. ^ Mackenzie, p. 84
  21. ^ Campbell, p. 70

References

  • Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York: Penguin, 1976.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. N. K. Sandars. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.
  • Guirand, F. "Assyro-Babylonian Mythology". New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (trans. Aldington and Ames, London: Hamlyn, 1968), pp. 49-72.
  • Jastrow, M. "Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World" (The Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria, 1915). Sacred-Texts. 2 June 2002 <http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ishtar.htm>.
  • Kirk, G. S. Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures. Berkeley: Cambridge UP, 1973.
  • Mackenzie, Donald A. Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. London: Gresham, 1915.
  • Wolkstein and Kramer. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.

Further reading

  • Powell, Barry. Classical Myth: Fourth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Ishtar - definition of Ishtar in Encyclopedia (706 words)
Ishtar is the Akkadian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess `Ashtart.
The meaning of Ishtar is not known, though it is possible that the underlying stem is the same as that of Assur, which would thus make her the "leading one" or "chief." In any event, it is now generally recognized that the name is Semitic in origin.
She was invoked as a goddess of war, battles, and the chase, particularly among the warlike Assyrians.
Ishtar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1334 words)
Ishtar ܐܫܬܪ is the Akkadian/Persian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte.
The meaning of Ishtar is not known, though it is possible that the underlying stem is the same as that of Assur, which would thus make her the "leading one" or "chief".
Ishtar is a universe-class surgeon and geneticist in three of Heinlein's novels, Time Enough for Love, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, and The Number of the Beast.
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