The Descent of Inanna

 

From the Great Above to the Great Below

From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below.

From the Great Above the goddess opened her ear to the Great Below.

From the Great Above Inanna opened her ear to the Great Below.

 

My Lady abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.

Inanna abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.

She abandoned her office of holy priestess to descend to the underworld.

 

She gathered together the seven me, the seven laws of heaven and earth.

She took them into her hands.

With the seven attributes of civilization in her possession, she prepared herself.

 

She placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head.

She arranged the dark locks of hair across her forehead.

She tied the small lapis beads around her neck,

Let the double strand of beads fall to her breast,

And wrapped the royal robe around her body.

She daubed her eyes with ointment

Bound the breastplate around her chest,

Slipped the gold ring over her wrist,

And took the lapis measuring rod and line in her hand.

 

Inanna set out for the underworld.

Ninshubur, her faithful servant, went with her.

Inanna spoke to her, saying:

“Ninshubur, my constant support,

My sukkal who gives me wise advice,

My warrior who fights by my side,

I am descending to the kur, to the underworld.

If I do not return,

Set up a lament for me by the ruins.

Beat the drum for me in the assembly places.

Circle the houses of the gods.

Tear at your eyes, at your mouth, at your thighs.

Dress yourself in a single garment like a beggar.

Go to Nippur, to the temple of Enlil.

When you enter his holy shrine, cry out:

‘O Father Enlil, do not let your daughter

Be put to death in the underworld.

Do not let your bright silver

Be covered with the dust of the underworld.

Do not let your precious lapis

Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.

Do not let your fragrant boxwood

Be cut into wood for the woodworker.

Do not let the holy priestess of heaven

Be put to death in the underworld.’

 

If Enlil will not help you,

Go to Ur, to the temple of Nanna.

Weep before Father Nanna.

If Nanna will not help you,

Go to Eridu, to the temple of Enki.

Weep before Father Enki.

Father Enki, the God of Wisdom, knows the food of life,

He knows the water of life;

He knows the secrets.

Surely he will not let me die.”

 

Inanna continued on her way to the underworld.

Then she stopped and said:

“Go now, Ninshubur –

Do not forget the words I have commanded you.”

 

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the underworld,

She knocked loudly.

She cried out in a fierce voice:

“Open, the door, gatekeeper!

“Open the door, Neti!”

I alone would enter!”

 

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur, asked:

“Who are you?”

 

She answered:

“I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven,

On my way to the East.”

 

Neti said:

“If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven,

On your way to the East,

Why has your heart led you on the road

From which no traveler returns?”

 

Inanna answered:

“Because . . . of my older sister, Ereshkigal,

Her husband, Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died.

I have come to witness the funeral rites.

Let the beer of his funeral rites be poured into the cup.

Let it be done.

 

Neti spoke:

“Stay here, Inanna, I will speak to my queen.

I will give her your message.”

 

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur,

Entered the palace of Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, and said:

“My queen, a maid

As tall as heaven,

As wide as the earth,

As strong as the foundations of the city wall,

Waits outside the palace gates.

 

She has gathered together the seven me.

She has taken them into her hands.

With the me in her possession, she has prepared herself.

 

On her head she wears the shugurra, the crown of the steppe.

Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.

Around her neck she wears the small lapis beads.

At her breast she wears the double strand of beads.

Her body is wrapped with the royal robe.

Her eyes are daubed with the ointment called, ‘Let him come, let him come.’

Around her chest she wears the breastplate called ‘Come, man, come!’

On her wrist she wears the gold ring.

In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line.”

 

When Ereshkigal heard this,

She slapped her thigh and bit her lip.

She took the matter into her heart and dwelt on it.

Then she spoke:

“Come, Neti, my chief gatekeeper of the kur,

Heed my words:

Bolt the seven gates of the underworld.

Then, one by one, open each gate a crack.

Let Inanna enter.

As she enters, remove her royal garments.

Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low.”

 

Neti heeded the words of his queen.

He bolted the seven gates of the underworld.

Then he hopened the outer gate.

He said to the maid:

“Come, Inanna, enter.”

 

When she entered the first gate,

From her head, the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the second gate,

From her neck the small lapis beads were removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the third gate,

From her breast the double strand of beads was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the fourth gate,

From her chest the breastplate called “Come, man, come!” was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the fifth gate,

From her wrist the gold ring was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the sixth gate,

From her hand the lapis measuring rod and line was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

When she entered the seventh gate,

From her body the royal robe was removed.

 

Inanna asked:

“What is this?”

 

She was told:

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.

They may not be questioned.”

 

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.

Ereshkigal rose from her throne.

Inanna started toward the throne.

The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.

They passed judgment against her.

 

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.

She spoke against her the word of wrath.

She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

 

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,

A piece of rotting meat,

And was hung from a hook on the wall.

 

When, after three days and three nights, Inanna had not returned,

Ninshubur set up a lament for her by the ruins.

She beat the drum for her in the assembly places.

She circled the houses of the gods.

She tore at her eyes; she tore at her mouth; she tore at her thighs.

She dressed herself in a single garment like a beggar.

Alone, she set out for Nippur and the temple of Enlil.

 

When she entered the holy shrine,

She cried out:

“O Father Enlil, do not let your daughter

Be put to death in the underworld.

Do not let your bright silver

Be covered with the dust of the underworld.

Do not let your precious lapis

Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.

Do not let your fragrant boxwood

Be cut into wood for the woodworker.

Do not let the holy priestess of heaven

Be put to death in the underworld.’

 

Father Enlil answered angrily:

“My daughter craved the Great Above.

Inanna craved the Great Below.

She who receives the me of the underworld does not return.

She who goes to the Dark City stays there.”

 

Father Enlil would not help.

 

When she entered the holy shrine,

She cried out:

“O Father Nanna, do not let your daughter

Be put to death in the underworld.

Do not let your bright silver

Be covered with the dust of the underworld.

Do not let your precious lapis

Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.

Do not let your fragrant boxwood

Be cut into wood for the woodworker.

Do not let the holy priestess of heaven

Be put to death in the underworld.’

 

Father Enki said:

“What has happened?

What has my daughter done?

Inanna! Queen of All the Lands! Holy Priestess of Heaven!

What has happened?

I am troubled. I am grieved.”

 

From under his fingernail Father Enki brought forth dirt.

He fashioned the dirt into a kurgarra, a creature neither male nor female.

From under the fingernail of his other hand he brought forth dirt.

He fashioned the dirt into a galatur, a creature neither male nor female.

 

He gave the food of life to the kurgarra.

He gave the water of life to the galatur.

Enki spoke to the kurgarra and galatur, saying:

“Go to the underworld,

Enter the door like flies.

Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, is moaning

With the cries of a woman about to give birth.

No linen is spread over her body.

Her breasts are uncovered.

Her hair swirls about her head like leeks.

When she cries, ‘Oh! Oh! My inside!’

Cry also, ‘Oh! Oh! Your inside!’

When she cries, ‘Oh! Oh! My outside!’

Cry also, ‘Oh! Oh! Your outside!’

The queen will be pleased.

She will offer you a gift.

Ask her only for the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.

One of you will sprinkle the food of life on it.

The other will sprinkle the water of life.

Inanna will arise.”

 

The kurgarra and the galatur heeded Enki’s words.

They set out for the underworld.

Like flies, they slipped through the cracks of the gates.

They entered the throne room of the Queen of the Underworld.

No linen was spread over her body.

Her breasts were uncovered.

Her hair swirled around her head like leeks.

 

Ereshkigal was moaning:

“Oh! Oh! My inside!”

 

They moaned:

“Oh! Oh! Your inside!”

 

She moaned:

“Ohhhh! Oh! My outside!”

 

They moaned:

“Ohhhh! Oh! Your outside!”

 

She groaned:

“Oh! Oh! My belly!”

 

They groaned:

“Oh! Oh! Your belly!”

 

She groaned:

“Oh! Ohhhh! My back!”

 

They groaned:

“Oh! Ohhhh! Your back!”

 

She sighed:

“Ah! Ah! My heart!”

 

They sighed:

“Ah! Ah! Your heart!”

 

She sighed:

“Ah! Ahhhh! My liver!”

 

They sighed:

“Ah! Ahhhh! Your liver!”

 

Ereshkigal stopped.

She looked at them.

She asked:

 

“Who are you,

Moaning – groaning – sighing with me?

If you are gods, I will bless you.

If you are mortals, I will give you a gift.

I will give you the water-gift, the river in its fullness.”

 

The kurgarra and galatur answered:

“We do not wish it.”

 

Ereshkigal said:

“I will give you the grain-gift, the fields in harvest.”

 

The kurgarra and galatur said:

“We do not wish it.”

 

Ereshkigal said:

“Speak then! What do you wish?”

 

They answered:

“We wish only the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.”

 

Ereshkigal said:

“The corpse belongs to Inanna.”

 

They said:

“Whether it belongs to our queen,

Whether it belongs to our king,

That is what we wish.”

 

The corpse was given to them.

 

The kurgarra sprinkled the food of life on the corpse.

The galatur sprinkled the water of life on the corpse.

Inanna arose. . . .

 

Inanna was about to ascend from the underworld

When the Annuna, the judges of the underworld, seized her.

They said:

“No one ascends from the underworld unmarked.

If Inanna wishes to return from the underworld,

She must provide someone in her place.”

 

As Inanna ascended from the underworld,

The galla, the demons of the underworld, clung to her.

The galla were demons who know no food, who know no drink,

Who eat no offerings, who drink no libations,

Who accept no gifts.

They enjoy no lovemaking.

They have no sweet children to kiss.

They tear the wife from the husband’s arms,

They tear the child from the father’s knees,

They steal the bride from her marriage home.

 

The demons clung to Inanna.

The small galla who accompanied Inanna

Were like reeds the size of low picket fences.

The large galla who accompanied Inanna

Were like reeds the size of high picket fences.

 

The one who walked in front of Inanna was not a minister,

Yet he carried a sceptre.

The one who walked behind her was not a warrior,

Yet he carried a mace.

Ninshubur, dressed in a soiled sackcloth,

Waited outside the palace gates.

When she saw Inanna

Surrounded by the galla,

She threw herself in the dust at Inanna’s feet.

 

The galla said:

“Walk on, Inanna,

We will take Ninshubur in your place.”

 

Inanna cried:

“No! Ninshubur is my constant support.

She is my sukkal who gives me wise advice.

She is my warrior who fights by my side.

She did not forget my words.

 

She set up a lament for me by the ruins.

She beat the drum for me at the assembly places.

She circled the houses of the gods.

She tore at her eyes, at her mouth, at her thighs.

She dressed herself in a single garment like a beggar.

 

Alone, she set out for Nippur and the temple of Enlil.

She went to Ur and the temple of Nanna.

She went to Eridu and the temple of Enki.

Because of her, my life was saved.

I will never give Ninshubur to you.”

 

The galla said:

“Walk on, Inanna,

We will accompany you to Umma.”

 

 

In Umma, at the holy shrine,

Shara, the son of Inanna, was dressed in a soiled sackcloth.

When he saw Inanna

Surrounded by the galla,

He threw himself in the dust at her feet.

 

The galla said:

“Walk on to your city, Inanna,

We will take Shara in your place.”

 

Inanna cried:

“No! Not Shara!

He is my son who sings hymns to me!

He is my son who cuts my nails and smooths my hair.

I will never give Shara to you.”

 

THe galla said:

“Walk on, Inanna,

We will accompany you to Badtibira.”

 

In Badtibira, at the holy shrine,

Lulal, the son of Inanna, was dressed in a soiled sackcloth.

When he saw Inanna

Surrounded by the galla,

He threw himself in the dust at her feet.

 

The galla said:

“Walk on to your city, Inanna,

We will take Lulal in your place.”

 

Inanna cried:

“Not Lulal! He is my son.

He is a leader among men.

He is my right arm. He is my left arm.

I will never give Lulal to you.”

 

The galla said:

Walk on to your city, Inanna.

We will go with you to the big apple tree in Uruk.”

 

In Urukk, by the big apple tree,

Dumuzi, the husband of Inanna, was dressed in his shining me-garments.

He sat on his magnificent throne; (he did not move).

 

The galla seized him by his thighs.

They poured milk out of his seven churns.

They broke the reed pipe which the shepherd was playing.

 

Inanna fastened on Dumuzi the eye of death.

She spoke against him the word of wrath.

She uttered against him the cry of guilt:

“Take him! Take Dumuzi away!”

 

The galla, who know no food, who know no drink,

Who eat no offerings, who drink no libations,

Who accept no gifts, seized Dumuzi.

They made him stand up; they made him sit down.

They beat the husband of Inanna.

They gashed him with axes.

 

Dumuzi let out a wail.

He raised his hands to heaven to Utu, the God of Justice, and beseeched him:

“O Utu, you are my brother-in-law,

I am the husband of your sister.

I brought cream to your mother’s house,

I brought milk to Ningal’s house.

I am the one who carried food to the holy shrine.

I am the one who brought wedding gifts of Uruk.

I am the one who danced on the holy knees, the knees of Inanna.

 

Utu, you who are a just god, a merciful god,

Change my hands into the hands of a snake.

Change my feet into the feet of a snake.

Let me escape from my demons;

Do not let them hold me.”

 

The merciful Utu accepted Dumuzi’s tears.

He changed the hands of Dumuzi into snake hands.

He changed the feet of Dumuzi into snake feet.

Dumuzi escaped from his demons.

They could not hold him. . . .

 

 

 

His heart was filled with tears.

The shepherd’s heart was filled with tears.

Dumuzi’s heart was filled with tears.

Dumuzi stumbled across the steppe, weeping:

“O steppe, set up a wail for me!

O crabs in the river, mourn for me!

O frogs in the river, call for me!

O my mother, Sirtur, weep for me!

 

If she does not find the five breads,

If she does not find the ten breads,

If she does not know the day I am dead,

You, O steppe, tell her, tell my mother.

On the steppe, my mother will shed tears for me.

On the steppe, my little sister will mourn for me.”

 

He lay down to rest.

The shepherd lay down to rest.

Dumuzi lay down to rest.

 

As he lay among the buds and rushes,

He dreamed a dream.

He awoke from his dream.

He trembled from his vision.

He rubbed his eyes, terrified.

 

Dumuzi called out:

“Bring . . . bring her . . . bring my sister.

Bring my Geshtinanna, my little sister,

My tablet-knowing scribe,

My singer who knows many songs,

My sister who knows the meaning of words,

My wise woman who knows the meaning of dreams.

I must speak to her.

I must tell her my dream.”

 

Dumuzi spoke to Geshtinanna, saying:

“A dream! My sister, listen to my dream:

Rushes rise all about me; rushes grow thick about me.

A single growing reed trembles for me.

From a double-growing reed, first one, then the other, is removed.

In a wooded grove, the terror of tall trees rises about me.

Water is poured over my holy hearth.

The bottom of my churn drops away.

My drinking cup falls from its peg.

My shepherd’s crook has disappeared.

An eagle seizes a lamb from the sheepfold.

A falcon catches a sparrow on the reed fence.

 

My sister, your goats drag their lapis beards in the dust.

Your sheep scratch the earth with bent feet.

 

The churn lies silent; no milk is poured.

The cup lies shattered; Dumuzi is no more.

The sheepfold is given to the winds.”

 

 

Geshtinanna spoke:

“My brother, do not tell me your dream.

Dumuzi, do not tell me such a dream.

 

The rushes which rise up all about you,

The rushes which grow thick about you,

Are your demons, who will pursue and attack you.

 

The single growing reed which trembles for you

Is our mother; she will mourn for you.

 

The double-growing reed, from which one, then the other is removed, Dumuzi,

Is you and I; first one, then the other, will be taken away.

 

In the wooded grove, the terror of tall trees which rises above you

Is the galla; they will descend on you in the sheepfold.

 

When the fire is put out on your holy hearth,

The sheepfold will become a house of desolation.

 

When the bottom of your churn drops away,

You will be held by the galla.

 

When your drinking cup falls from its peg,

You will fall to the earth, onto your mother’s knees.

 

When your shepherd’s crook disappears,

The galla will cause everything to wither.

 

The eagle who seizes a lamb in the sheepfold

Is the galla who will scratch your cheeks.

 

The falcon who catches a sparrow in the reed fence

Is the galla who will climb the fence to take you away.

 

Dumuzi, my goats drag their lapis beards in the dust.

My hair will swirl around in heaven for you.

My sheep scratch the earth with bent feet.

O Dumuzi, I will tear at my cheeks in grief for you.

 

The churn lies silent; no milk is poured.

The cup lies shattered; Dumuzi is no more.

The sheepfold is given to the winds – ”

 

 

Scarcely had she spoken these words

When Dumuzi cried out:

“My sister! Quickly, go up the hill!

Do not go with slow noble steps.

Sister, run!

The galla, hated and feared by men,

Are coming on the boats.

They carry wood to bind the hands;

They carry wood to bind the neck.

Sister, run!”

 

Geshtinanna went up the hill.

Dumuzi’s friend went with her.

 

Dumuzi cried:

“Do you see them?”

 

The friend cried:

“They are coming;

The large galla who carry wood to bind the neck,

They are coming for you.”

 

Geshtinanna cried:

“Quickly, brother!

Hide your head in the grass.

Your demons are coming for you!”

 

Dumuzi said:

“My sister, tell no one my hiding place.

My friend, tell no one my hiding place.

I will hide in the grass.

I will hide among the small plants.

I will hide among the large plants.

I will hide in the ditches of Arali.”

 

Geshtinanna and Dumuzi’s friend answered:

“Dumuzi, if we tell your hiding place,

Let your dogs devour us,

Your black dogs of shepherdship,

Your royal dogs of kingship,

Let your dogs devour us!”

 

The small galla spoke to the large galla:

“You galla, who have no mother, or father,

No sister, brother, wife, or child,

You who flutter over heaven and earth like wardens,

Who cling to a man’s side,

Who show no favor,

Who know not good from evil,

Tell us,

Who has ever seen the soul of a frightened man

Living in peace?

Let us not look for Dumuzi in the home of his friend.

Let us not look for Dumuzi in the home of his brother-in-law.

Let us look for Dumuzi in the home of his sister, Geshtinanna.”

 

The galla clapped their hands gleefully.

They went searching for Dumuzi.

They came to the home of Geshtinanna. They cried out:

“Show us where your brother is!”

 

Geshtinanna would not speak.

 

They offered her the water-gift.

She refused it.

They offered her the grain-gift.

She refused it.

 

Heaven was brought close.

Earth was brought close.

Geshtinanna would not speak.

 

They tore her clothes.

They poured pitch into her vulva.

Geshtinanna would not speak.

 

The small galla said to the large galla:

“Who since the beginning of time

Has ever known a sister to reveal a brother’s hiding place?

Come, let us look for Dumuzi in the home of his friend.”

 

The galla went to Dumuzi’s friend.

They offered him the water-gift.

He accepted it.

They offered him the grain-gift.

He accepted it.

He said:

But I do not know the place.”

The galla searched for Dumuzi in the grass.

They did not find him.

The friend said:

“Dumuzi hid among the small plants,

But I do not know the place.”

 

The galla searched for Dumuzi among the small plants.

They did not find him.

The friend said:

“Dumuzi hid among the large plants,

But I do not know the place.”

 

The galla searched for Dumuzi among the large plants.

They did not find him.

The friend said:

“Dumuzi hid in the ditches of Arali.

Dumuzi fell down in the ditches of Arali.”

 

In the ditches of Arali, the galla caught Dumuzi.

Dumuzi turned pale and wept.

He cried out:

“My sister saved my life.

My friend caused my death.

If my sister’s child wanders in the street,

Let the child be protected – let the child be blessed.

If my friend’s child wanders in the street,

Let the child be lost – let the child be cursed.”

 

The galla surrounded Dumuzi.

They bound his hands; they bound his neck.

They beat the husband of Inanna.

Dumuzi raised his arms to heaven, to Utu, the God of Justice, and cried out:

“O Utu, you are my brother-in-law,

I am the husband of your sister.

I am the one who carried food to the holy shrine,

I am the one who brought wedding gifts to Uruk.

I kissed the holy lips,

I danced on the holy knees, the knees of Inanna.

 

Change my hands into the hands of a gazelle.

Change my feet into the feet of a gazelle.

Let me escape from my demons.

Let me flee to Kubiresh!”

 

The merciful Utu accepted Dumuzi’s tears.

He changed his hands into the hands of a gazelle.

He changed his feet into the feet of a gazelle.

Dumuzi escaped from his demons.

He fled to Kubiresh.

 

The galla said:

“Let us go to Kubiresh!”

 

The galla arrived in Kubiresh.

Dumuzi escaped from his demons.

He fled to Old Belili.

 

The galla said:

“Let us go to Old Belili!”

 

Dumuzi entered the house of Old Belili. He said to her:

“Old woman. I am not a mere mortal.

I am the husband of the goddess Inanna.

Pour water for me to drink.

Sprinkle flour for me to eat.”

 

After the old woman poured water

And sprinkled flour for Dumuzi,

She left the house.

 

When the galla saw her leave, they entered the house.

Deumuzi escaped from his demons.

He fled to the sheepfold of his sister, Geshtinanna.

 

When Geshtinanna found Dumuzi in the sheepfold, she wept.

She brought her mouth close to heaven.

She brought her mouth close to earth.

Her grief covered the horizon like a garment.

 

She tore at her eyes.

She tore at her mouth.

She tore at her thighs.

 

The galla climbed the reed fence.

The first galla struck Dumuzi on the cheek with a piercing nail,

The second galla struck Dumuzi on the other cheek with the shepherd’s crook,

The third galla smashed the bottom of the churn,

The fourth galla threw the drinking cup down from its peg,

The fifth galla shattered the churn,

The sixth galla shattered the cup,

The seventh galla cried:

“Rise, Dumuzi!

Husband of Inanna, son of Sirtur, brother of Geshtinanna!

Rise from your false sleep!

Your ewes are seized! Your lambs are seized!

Your goats are seized! Your kids are seized!

Take off your holy crown from your head!

Take off your me-garment from your body!

Let your royal sceptre fall to the ground!

Take off your holy sandals from your feet!

Naked, you go with us!”

 

The galla seized Dumuzi.

They surrounded him.

They bound his hands. They bound his neck.

 

The churn was silent. No milk was poured.

The cup was shattered. Dumuzi was no more.

The sheepfold was given to the winds.

 

 

 

 

The Return

 

A lament was raised in the city:

“My Lady weeps bitterly for her young husband.

Inanna weeps bitterly for her young husband.

Woe for her husband! Woe for her young love!

Woe for her house! Woe for her city!

 

Dumuzi was taken captive in Uruk.

He will no longer bathe in Eridu.

He will no longer soap himself at the holy shrine.

He will no longer treat the mother of Inanna as his mother.

He will no longer perform his sweet task

Among the maidens of the city.

 

He will no longer compete with the young men of the city.

He will no longer raise his sword higher than the kurgarra priests.

Great is the grief of those who mourn for Dumuzi.”

 

Inanna wept for Dumuzi:

“Gone is my husband, my sweet husband.

Gone is my love, my sweet love.

My beloved has been taken from the city.

O, you flies of the steppe,

My beloved bridegroom has been taken from me

Before I could wrap him with a proper shroud.

 

The wild bull lives no more.

The shepherd, the wild bull lives no more.

Dumuzi, the wild bull, lives no more.

 

I ask the hills and valleys:

‘Where is my husband?’

I say to them:

‘I can no longer bring him food.

I can no longer serve him drink.’

 

The jackal lies down in his bed.

The raven dwells in his sheepfold.

You ask me about his reed pipe?

The wind must play it for him.

You ask me about his sweet songs?

The wind must sing them for him.”

 

Sirtur, the mother of Dumuzi, wept for her son:

“My heart plays the reed pipe of mourning.

Once my boy wandered so freely on the steppe,

Now he is captive.

Once Dumuzi wandered so freely on the steppe,

Now he is bound.

The ewe gives up her lamb.

The goat gives up her kid.

My heart plays the reed pipe of mourning.

 

O treacherous steppe!

In the place where he once said

‘My mother will ask for me,’

Now he cannot move his hands.

He cannot move his feet.

 

My heart plays the reed pipe of mourning.

I would go to him,

I would see my child.”

 

The mother walked to the desolate place,

Sirtur walked to where Dumuzi lay.

She looked at the slain wild bull.

She looked into his face. She said:

“My child, the face is yours.

The spirit has fled.”

 

 

There is mourning in the house.

There is grief in the inner chambers.

 

 

The sister wandered about the city, weeping for her brother.

Geshtinanna wandered about the city, weeping for Dumuzi:

“O my brother! Who is your sister?

I am your sister.

O Dumuzi! Who is your mother?

I am your mother.

The day that dawns for you will also dawn for me.

The day that you will see I will also see.

 

I would find my brother! I would comfort him!

I would share his fate!”

 

 

When she saw the sister’s grief,

When Inanna saw the grief of Geshtinanna,

She spoke to her gently:

“Your brother’s house is no more.

Dumuzi has been carried away by the galla.

I would take you to him,

But I do not know the place.”

 

Then a fly appeared.

The holy fly circled the air above Inanna’s head and spoke:

“If I tell you where Dumuzi is,

What will you give me?”

 

Inanna said:

“If you tell me,

I will let you frequent the beer-houses and taverns.

I will let you dwell among the talk of the wise ones.

I will let you dwell among the song of the minstrels.”

 

The fly spoke:

“Lift your eyes to the edges of the steppe,

Lift your eyes to Arali.

There you will find Geshtinanna’s brother,

There you will find the shepherd Dumuzi.”

 

Inanna and Geshtinanna went to the edges of the steppe.

They found Dumuzi weeping.

Inanna took Dumuzi by the hand and said:

“You will go to the underworld

Half the year.

Your sister, since she has asked,

Will go the other half.

On the day you are called,

That day you will be taken.

On the day Geshtinanna is called,

That day you will be set free.”

 

Inanna placed Dumuzi in the hands of the eternal.

 

Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!

Holy Ereshkigal! I sing your praises!

 

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