ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Goddess Inanna or Ishtar

Updated on February 13, 2013
The Goddess Inanna
The Goddess Inanna

Inanna

The Sumerian Goddess Inanna, known as Ishatr by the Babylonians, is one of the most beguiling and fascinating goddesses of the ancient world. One of the most prominent female deities of ancient Mesopotamia she inspired many myths, was worshipped Kings such as Sargon of Akkad and destroyed as many men as she seduced.

A fertility goddess, a goddess of love, war and sex, she was a powerful figure, with a large cult and many temples dedicated to her. She is also associated with the idea of scared prostitution, although most scholars dispute the idea that sacred prostitution was widespread in ancient Mesopotamia. There was indeed a sacred marriage rite, performed between the King and the High Priestess though it is unclear whether this actually involved sexual intercourse and there is not evidence that priestess or any women involved in the temples were involved in any form of prostitution or provided sexual services.

Inanna is represented by many symbols, including the lion on which she is often depicted riding, an eight pointed star and her cuneiform sign represented grain and the fertility of the land. She is also associated with the planet Venus, which was seen as unpredictable in nature like Inanna.

Her holy city was Uruk, also home to the famous Gilgamesh, and she was known as 'the courtesan of the gods', she had many lovers and Gilgamesh famously refused her advances in 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' and suffered her famous wrath.

Inanna- Goddess of War

Her warlike nature was well documented, the Sumerian Priestess and Poet Enheduanna describes Inanna

" Be it known that you destroy the rebel lands! Be it known that you roar at the foreign lands! Be it known that you crush heads! Be it known that you devour corpses like a dog! Be it known that your gaze is terrible! Be it known that you lift your terrible gaze! Be it known that you have flashing eyes! Be it known that you are unshakeable and unyielding! Be it known that you always stand triumphant!"


Inanna -Goddess of Love

Despite being the goddess of love she was not associated with marriage, but instead with sexual desire and extra marital affairs, similarly she was not often associated with childbirth or seen as a 'mother goddess'. She was often associated with female sexual pleasure, indeed in Sumerian literature Inanna is known to praise her vulva and many poems and songs about young women about to be married and engage in sexual intercourse call on Inanna, who's experiences as a young bride with Dumuzi were told in many mythical poems.


A Goddess in the Underworld

A goddess, possibly Inanna, flanked by demons in the Underworld, cylinder seal impression c.2330-2150 B.C
A goddess, possibly Inanna, flanked by demons in the Underworld, cylinder seal impression c.2330-2150 B.C | Source

The Myths of Inanna

Perhaps one of the most famous Myths involving Inanna is that of 'Inanna's descent into the Underworld' , Inanna also plays a central role in The Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the earliest example of literature that survives today and a precursor to the famous epics of Homer.

Inanna is also the subject of many devotional poems but the Sumerian high priestess and first known Author, Enheduanna, most famously in "The Exaltation of Inanna", in which Enheduanna praises Inanna and vividly describes her characteristics.

Inanna's Descent to the Underworld

Inanna is unique amongst Sumerian gods and goddesses for being the only one to return from the underworld, a place described as ;the land of no return'.

Inanna visits the underworld to attend the funeral of her brother in law, Gulgana. However Inanna's sister Ereshkigal, is consumed with hatred for Inanna, perhaps jealous of her life outside the underworld, which is a desolate place. Ereshkigal has Inanna is stripped naked, and of the jewellery giving her divine powers, and held captive. Inanna's servant, Ninshubur, pleads with the other gods to help her rescue Inanna, however only Enki agreed to help. Enki created two asexual figures named gala-tura and the kur-jara from the dirt under the fingernails of the deities, whom he instructed to ask for the corpse of Inanna. They succeeded and revived Inanna, who was only able to escape the underworld by offering up someone to go in her place. After seeing her husband Dumuzi, sitting happily under a tree wearing lavish clothes; not mourning for her like the others she sends him into the underworld.

It is thought the myth may be a reflection of Inanna's 'dark side' , she is portrayed as a goddess with a fearsome, warlike nature yet it capable of great love and affection. This rounded, contradictory and human portrayal gives her a complex character, accepting of the negative aspects of life and indeed death itself which is essential to life.

Inanna and the Divine Powers - the Mes

Inanna holds the 'mes' the divine powers, having tricked the god of culture Enki into handing them over in by deviously getting him drunk. The Mes represent all aspects of civilisation and make Inanna one of the most powerful gods in the sumerian pantheon.

Inanna on her Throne

Cylinder seal showing Inanna on her throne c.2000-1600 B.C
Cylinder seal showing Inanna on her throne c.2000-1600 B.C | Source
Inanna's eight pointed star symbol
Inanna's eight pointed star symbol

Symbols and Iconology of Inanna

Inanna is usually depicted in long robes, wearing a pointed hat reserved for deities, often with wings and riding on the back of a lion. She is associated with the planet Venus and associated with a eight pointed star or rosette symbol as well as the cuneiform ideogram of a twisted knot of reed, representing a storehouse for grain and thus fertility.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Davidwork 

      5 years ago

      Another very informative hub on an aspect of ancient near eastern civilisation, this time a mythological aspect.

      I shall look up more information about this ancient goddess.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)