Tammuz

From Academic Kids

Tammuz is also a fictional place in Xenogears.

Tammuz or Tamuz (Arabic تمّوز Tammūz; Hebrew תַּמּוּז, Standard Hebrew Tammuz, Tiberian Hebrew Tammz; Akkadian Duʾzu, Dūzu;

See also Tammuz (month).
Contents

Ritual mourning

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as an Akkadian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Ishtar and the parallel of the Syrian Adonis who was drawn into the Greek pantheon. The name "Tammuz" seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day "funeral" for the god that was observed even at the very door of the Temple in Jerusalem, to the horror of the reformer Ezekiel:

"Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto to me, 'Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these." Ezekiel 8.14-15

The Myth

In the Sumerian King List Dumuzid the Fisherman appears as the third king of the first dynasty of Uruk, reigning between Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh the son of Lugalbanda, a situation not explained in extant texts. Nor is it explained why in other texts Dumuzid is always a shepherd, not a fisherman. The king list does list a Dumuzid the shepherd the fifth of the kings who reigned in Eridu before the flood. But Eridu, surrounded by freshwater marshes, is exactly where one would expect a fisherman and not a shepherd.

In any case a number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inana and Dumuzid the shepherd. Apparently they marry.

Then Inana (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) set off for the netherworld, for Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal, perhaps to take it as her own. Inana/Ishtar passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when Inana/Ishtar had passed through the seventh gate she was entirely naked. Despite warnings about her presumption, Inana/Ishtar did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal's throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and Inana/Ishtar became a corpse, hung up on a hook.

Inana's faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea's plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts but the end is that Inana/Ishtar lived again. But a "conservation of souls" law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz on her throne, apparently quite pleased that she was gone. Inana/Ishtar immediately set the demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz' sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.

There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid's sister who is there named Geshtinana, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.

In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has one close call after another until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inana repents.

Inana seeks vengence on Bilulu, on Bilulu's murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire's consort Shirru "of the haunted desert, no-one's child and no-one's friend". Inana changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.

Finally, in some fashion, an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid's place in Kur for 6 months of the year.

Dumuzid/Tammuz being the god of the vegetation cycle, this corresponds to the changing of the seasons as the abundance of the earth diminishes in his absence. He is a life-death-rebirth deity.

An older interpretion

Based on the texts first found, it was almost universally assumed that Ishtar/Inana's descent into Kur occurred after the death of Tammuz/Dumuzid rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid. Though new texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion the old interpretation still lingers on.

External links

  • Sumerian Poems about Dumuzid and Inana
    • ETSCL: Narratives: Inana and Dumuzid in Unicode (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcslmac.cgi?text=c.1.4*#) and ASCII (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcslmac.cgi?text=c.1.4*&charenc=j#)
    • ETSCL: Hymns: Inana and Dumuzid in Unicode (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcslmac.cgi?text=c.4.08*#) and ASCII (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcslmac.cgi?text=c.4.08*&charenc=j#)
  • The Akkadian "Descent of Ishtar"
    • "Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World", trans. M. Jastrow, 1915; at Sacred Texts (http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ishtar.htm) and Ancient Texts (http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/ishtar.html) and Mike's History (http://www.galileolibrary.com/history/history_page_4.htm)
    • "The Descent of Ishtar", trans. E. Speiser, 1950: Eliade (http://alexm.here.ru/mirrors/www.enteract.com/jwalz/Eliade/158.html) and Gateway to Babylon (http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/myths/texts/classic/ishtardesc.htm)
    • "The Descent of Ishtar", trans. Stephanie J. Dalley (http://www.mindspring.com/~mysticgryphon/descent.htm)

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