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FAQ: Assyro-Babylonian Mythology 1.0 2/2

To: alt.mythology
From: mouser@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Christopher B Siren)
Subject: FAQ: Assyro-Babylonian Mythology 1.0 2/2
Date: 49941208

Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ 1.0 
part 2 of 2
by Christopher B. Siren
created November 1994

Babylonian/Assyrian Mythos

I. Overview
II. So these are just like the Sumerian deities right?
III. Who were the gods and heros of the Babylonians?
  A. The older gods
  B. The younger Annunaki and Igigi
  C. The cthonic 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?

III. Who were the gods and heros of the Babylonians?

  C. The Anunnaki and other cthonic 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 Nergal to give her a thone 
upon which she is to sit and give judgement.  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 attendent 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 vizer, 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 
Ereshkigal's court.

	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 attendent 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 Erra's servants.
	Irra - plauge god, underling of Nergal
	Enmesharra - Underworld god

	Lamashtu - a dread female demon also known as 'she who erases'.

	Nabu - god of Despoilment

	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.  When 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
		Sacred number:
		Sphere of influence: vegetation, underworld, gateways

	Belili (Geshtinanna) - Tammuz/Dumuzi's sister, 'the one who always 
weeps', the wife of Ningishzida.

	Gizzida (Gishzida) - son of Ninazu, consort of Belili, doorkeeper 
of Anu.

	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 purificaton 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 Utmapishtim

	Ennugi - canal- controller of the Anunnaki.

	Geshtu-e - 'ear', god whose blood and intellegence 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 Pentatuch, these two 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 progenetor of 
Gilgamesh.  He is worshiped, 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 goest to the mountains of Mashu and passes by 
the guardian scorpian-demons into the darkness.  It becomes light as he 
enters the Garden of the Godsand 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 to Uruk.  
	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 ettiquette 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 judgement 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 
succeded.  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 
decapitate him. 

	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 Gilgemesh, it throws spittle 
and excrement at them.  It is killed and set as an offering to Shamash.

	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 elven 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 - Baliff
		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, theif 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.  If anyone can find indisputible proof 
that the name Cthulhu had origins in a non-fictional Ancient Near Eastern 
text, I'll put it in the FAQ.  For now, the buck stops with Lovecraft.

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)

VII. Where did you get this info and where can I find out more?

Well this FAQ is primarily derived from the following works:

Dalley, Stephanie _Myths from Mesopotamia_, Oxford University Press, New 
York, 1991

Gardner, John & Maier, John _Gilgamesh_:Translated from the Sin-Leqi-
Unninni Version_, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, 1984.

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, 
Austin, 1990.

In addition the following books have occasionally proven helpful:

Carlyon, Richard, _A Guide to the Gods_, Quill, William Morrow, New York, 

Hooke, S. H., _Middle Eastern Mythology_, Viking Penguin Inc., New York, 

Sykes, Edgerton, _Who's Who in Non-Classical Mythology_, Oxford 
University Press, New York, 1993. 

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