Sumerian Goddess Inanna Facts

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Information on the Sumerian goddess Inanna, myth, story and facts. The role of Inanna in the Sumerian Mythology.

Sumerian Goddess Inanna FactsInanna; Early sites excavated in Sumer indicate that temples were located in groups of two. The pair of deities worshipped were probably the mother goddess and her consort, later called Inanna and Dumuzi. Inanna was the most important goddess in the Sumerian pantheon, a variant of her name being Ninanna, ‘mistress of heaven’. Daughter of An or Enlil, she was identified with the planet Venus, and as a war goddess overcame the mountain god Ebeh, most likely a reference to a victory over the steadily erıcroaching Semites. Inanna was best known, however, as the goddess of fertility and love.

Fascinating is the account of Inanna’s descent into ‘the land without return’, kur-nu-gi-a, a dry, dusty place, situated below the sweet waters of the earth. She decided to visit this dark realm, which belonged to her enemy and sister goddess, Ereshkigal, ‘the mistress of dearth’, and assert her own authority there. Having adorned herself with all her finery and left behind Ninshubur, her Vizier; with orders to rescue her should she not return,Inanna descended to kur-nu-gi-a. At each of. its seven portals she was obliged to take off a garment or ornament, until at last she appeared naked before Ereshkigal and the seven judges of the dead. ‘At their cruel command, the defenceless goddess was turned into a corpse, which was hung on a stake.’Afterthree days and nights had passed. Ninshubur became worried and besought the aid of the gods, who said that nothing could be done against the decrees of the nether world. But the persistent vizier appealed to. Erıki, and the water god created two sexless beings, for whom admission to theland of infertility and death could not be refused. They obtairied access to Inanna’s corpse and resurrected it with the ‘food of life’ and the ‘water of life’. Unhappily the restored goddess could not shake off a ghastly escort of demons, which accompanied her on her wanderings from city to city. They refused to depart unless a substitute was found. Thus Inanna returned home to. Uruk and found at a feast her husband Dumuzi, who was king of near-by Kullab. Outraged, she selected him for kur-nu-gi-a, and in spite of two incredible escapes from the dutches of the eager demons thither he went.

The descent myth reveals two aspects of the mother goddess: Inanna and Ereshkigal, the two sisters, light and darkness respectively, represent theantithetical, paradoxical nature of divinity. Our misfortune is that we have onlyaportion of this 5OOO-year-old story, which was certainly very close to the origin of symbols fundamental to thought in West Asia. In other metamorphoses Inanna was Ishtar, Astarte, Cybele, Aphrodite, and Venus. The significance of Dumuzi is uncertain. His final capture and death occurred in the sheepfold; he was Inanna’s shepherd lover, whom she preferred over her other suitor, the farmer Enkimdu, Yet attributes of other deities absorbed by Dumuzi induded the date and grain. He was said to return ‘from the river’, drawn forth by the lamentations of his devotees.

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