Aphrodite (INANNA)

(See: Powell, Classical Myth, pp. 62; 247-249; 334-336.)

In the Sumerian King List (our surviving copy written ca. 2115 B.C.) the following entry is to be found:
".... In Shuruppak, Ubartutu reigned 18,600 years as king.
One king reigned 18,600 years.
Five Cities, eight kings, reigned 241,200 years.


AFTER THE FLOOD had swept over, and Kingship descended from heaven, ...
in Eanna, Meskiaggasher, the son of [the Sun-god] Utu reigned both as En and as Lugal for 324 years: Meskiaggasher entered the sea and ascended the mountains [= died].
Enmerkar, the son of Meskiaggasher, the king of Erech [Uruk], who had built Erech, reigned 420 years as Lugal [king].
Lugalbanda the Shepherd reigned 1,200 years.
Dumuzi the Fisherman, whose city was Kua, reigned 100 years [= Tammuz]
GILGAMESH, whose father was a nomad (?), reigned 126 years.
Urnungal, the son of Gilgamesh, reigned 30 years ...."

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the following incident is narrated (Tablet VI, col. 1):
"To Gilgamesh's beauty Great ISHTAR [Astarte-Aphrodite] lifted her eyes. `Come, Gilgamesh, be my lover! Give me the taste of your body. Would that you were my husband, and I were your wife! I'd order harnessed for you a chariot of lapis lazuli and gold, its wheels of gold and its horns of precious amber. You will drive storm demons--powerful mules! Enter our House, into the sweet scent of cedarwood. As you enter our House, the Purification Priests will kiss your feet the way they do in Aratta. Kings, rulers, princes will bend down before you. Mountains and lands will bring their yield to you. Your goats will drop triplets, your ewes twins. Even loaded down, your donkey will overtake the mule. Your horses will win fame for their running. Your ox under its yoke will have no rival!'

GILGAMESH shaped his mouth to speak, saying to Great Ishtar:

`What could I give you if I should take you as a wife? Would I give you oil for the body, and fine wrappings? Would I give you bread and food? You who eat the food of the gods, you who drink the wine fit for royalty! For you they pour out libations. You are clothed with the Great Garment! Ah, the gap between us, if I take you in marriage.

'You are a cooking fire that goes out in the cold; a back door that keeps out neither wind nor storm; a palace that crushes the brave ones defending it; a well whose lid collapses; pitch that dirties one who is carrying it; a waterskin that soaks the one who lifts it; limestone that crumbles in the stone wall; a battering-ram that shatters in the land of the enemy; a shoe that pinches the owner's foot!

'Which of your lovers have you loved forever? Which of your Little Shepherds has continued to please you? Come, let me name your lovers for you! ... (col. 2:) ... for TAMMUZ, the lover of your youth. Year after year you set up a wailing for him. You loved the mauve-colored `shepherd bird': but you seized him and broke his wing .... So you would love me in my turn, and, as with them, set my fate...."

On this story, see: Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion (New Haven: Yale 1976), pp. 140-143.

June 14, 2009 7:10 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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