The Deities of Mesopotamia

The first deities in Mesopotamia are closely associated with love and war, with “Ishtar” being particularly prominent. In Babylonian, she is called “Ishtar,” meaning “the living earth,” while in Sumerian, she is known as “Inanna,” meaning “queen of heaven.” Despite her relatively recent obscurity, she played a significant and complex role in the religions of the ancient Near East and its civilizations

The worship of the goddess Ishtar remained prevalent in antiquity, and her name was given to one of the most famous gates of Babylon, known today as the Ishtar Gate.

Attributes

Among her most important attributes were fertility, agricultural abundance, and the proliferation of crops. She was depicted as a beautiful young woman with an exquisite figure in some hymns and poems composed by Babylonian poets.

She was dubbed “the lady of war,” and her important weapons included the double-edged axe, sword, and bow, a characterization that endured until the end of ancient times

Love of Ishtar and Gilgamesh

Legend has it that Ishtar once set her eyes on King Gilgamesh, offering him marriage, but he refused her proposal out of fear of her changing moods and the potential for her betrayal. He further wounded her feelings by saying,

“You are but a fading flame, quickly extinguished in the cold.
You are a palace where heroes meet their demise.”

The Revenge of the Deities of Love and War

Ishtar was enraged and asked her father to create a bull to kill Gilgamesh. Her father tried to convince her that the bull would signify seven lean years for the land, causing famine for both humans and animals, but she prepared and stored enough food and fodder.

Over 4000 years ago

“Inanna” raised issues that profoundly impacted human life intellectually and emotionally. She remains an enduring legend and a constant symbol on the soil of Sumer, seeking life and death. The story of Ishtar has transformed into poetic texts from pre-Islamic times to our present day.

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