SEX AND EROTIC MYTHOLOGY IN MESOPOTAMIA

SEX IN MESOPOTAMIA


terra cotta plaque from Mesopotamia, early 2nd millennium BC

Cuneiform tablets recorded erotic poetry. One part of the Gilgamesh story describes the main character’s father meeting his wife-to-be: he “could not resist kissing her on the eyes, could not resist kissing her on the mouth, and also taught her much about lovemaking.”

On the cuneiform for “love”, John Alan Halloran wrote in sumerian.org: “The compound word ki...ag2 means 'to love' and the compound word ki-ag2 means 'beloved', but it is very unusual to find evidence for a noun that means 'love'. I just find one instance of nam-ki-aga2, the abstract noun 'love'. [Source: John Alan Halloran, sumerian.org]

Claude Hermann and Walter Johns wrote in the Encyclopedia Britannica: Under the Hammurabi Code, “adultery was punished with the death of both parties by drowning, but if the husband was willing to pardon his wife, the king might intervene to pardon the paramour. For incest with his own mother, both were burned to death; with a stepmother, the man was disinherited; with a daughter, the man was exiled; with a daughter-in-law, he was drowned; with a son's betrothed, he was fined. A wife who for her lover's sake procured her husband's death was gibbeted. A betrothed girl, seduced by her prospective father-in-law, took her dowry and returned to her family, and was free to marry as she chose. [Source: Claude Hermann Walter Johns, Babylonian Law — The Code of Hammurabi. Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1910-1911 <^>]

Hammurabi's Code of Laws on Incest: 154. If a man be guilty of incest with his daughter, he shall be driven from the place (exiled). 155. If a man betroth a girl to his son, and his son have intercourse with her, but he (the father) afterward defile her, and be surprised, then he shall be bound and cast into the water (drowned). 156. If a man betroth a girl to his son, but his son has not known her, and if then he defile her, he shall pay her half a gold mina, and compensate her for all that she brought out of her father's house. She may marry the man of her heart. 157. If any one be guilty of incest with his mother after his father, both shall be burned. 158. If any one be surprised after his father with his chief wife, who has borne children, he shall be driven out of his father's house.

Eunuchs existed in Mesopotamia. A small 8th century B.C. ivory statue from Nimrud shows a woman rather suggestively holding up her breast. It was excavated from the woman’s quarters of the royal palace at Nimrud. One remarkable piece from third millennium B.C. depicts a double image of a woman and a woman’s body with the breasts becoming eyes and the mouth serving as her crotch.

Websites and Resources on Mesopotamia: Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu.com/Mesopotamia ; Mesopotamia University of Chicago site mesopotamia.lib.uchicago.edu; British Museum mesopotamia.co.uk ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Louvre louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_periode.jsp ; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/toah ; University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology penn.museum/sites/iraq ; Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago uchicago.edu/museum/highlights/meso ; Iraq Museum Database oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IRAQ/dbfiles/Iraqdatabasehome ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; ABZU etana.org/abzubib; Oriental Institute Virtual Museum oi.uchicago.edu/virtualtour ; Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur oi.uchicago.edu/museum-exhibits ; Ancient Near Eastern Art Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org

Archaeology News and Resources: Anthropology.net anthropology.net : serves the online community interested in anthropology and archaeology; archaeologica.org archaeologica.org is good source for archaeological news and information. Archaeology in Europe archeurope.com features educational resources, original material on many archaeological subjects and has information on archaeological events, study tours, field trips and archaeological courses, links to web sites and articles; Archaeology magazine archaeology.org has archaeology news and articles and is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America; Archaeology News Network archaeologynewsnetwork is a non-profit, online open access, pro- community news website on archaeology; British Archaeology magazine british-archaeology-magazine is an excellent source published by the Council for British Archaeology; Current Archaeology magazine archaeology.co.uk is produced by the UK’s leading archaeology magazine; HeritageDaily heritagedaily.com is an online heritage and archaeology magazine, highlighting the latest news and new discoveries; Livescience livescience.com/ : general science website with plenty of archaeological content and news. Past Horizons : online magazine site covering archaeology and heritage news as well as news on other science fields; The Archaeology Channel archaeologychannel.org explores archaeology and cultural heritage through streaming media; Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu : is put out by a non-profit organization and includes articles on pre-history; Best of History Websites besthistorysites.net is a good source for links to other sites; Essential Humanities essential-humanities.net: provides information on History and Art History, including sections Prehistory

Animals as Symbols of Fertility and Sex in Mesopotamian Art

20120208-Mari Baking_mold_Mari_Louvre_.jpg
Mari baking mold
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Animal imagery was used to express the importance of reproduction and the fertility of the natural world. Animals are shown either nursing their young or feeding from vigorously sprouting plants. Pairs of male and female animals allude to fertility through sexual reproduction. Depictions of particular animals appearing to infinitely repeat on bowls or cylinder seals may have been meant to evoke the desire for abundance and agricultural productivity.” [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Animals in Ancient Near Eastern Art", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 2014, metmuseum.org \^/]

Robert Graves and Raphael Pitai wrote in “Hebrew Myths”: “The tradition that man's first sexual intercourse was with animals, not women, may be due to the widely spread practice of bestiality among the herdsmen of the Middle East, which is still condoned by custom, although figuring three times in the Pentateuch as a capital crime. In the Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic, Enkidu is said to have lived with gazelles and jostled other wild beasts at the watering place, “

Herodotus on Babylon’s Most Shameful Custom --- Sex in the Ishtar Temple

Herodotus wrote in 430 B.C.: “The Babylonians have one most shameful custom. Every woman born in the country must once in her life go and sit down in the precinct of Venus [Ishtar], and there consort with a stranger. Many of the wealthier sort, who are too proud to mix with the others, drive in covered carriages to the precinct, followed by a goodly train of attendants, and there take their station. But the larger number seat themselves within the holy enclosure with wreaths of string about their heads---and here there is always a great crowd, some coming and others going; lines of cord mark out paths in all directions the women, and the strangers pass along them to make their choice. [Source: Herodotus, “The History”, translated by George Rawlinson, (New York: Dutton & Co., 1862]

“A woman who has once taken her seat is not allowed to return home till one of the strangers throws a silver coin into her lap, and takes her with him beyond the holy ground. When he throws the coin he says these words: "The goddess Mylitta prosper you" (Venus is called Mylitta by the Assyrians.) The silver coin may be of any size; it cannot be refused, for that is forbidden by the law, since once thrown it is sacred. The woman goes with the first man who throws her money, and rejects no one. When she has gone with him, and so satisfied the goddess, she returns home, and from that time forth no gift however great will prevail with her. Such of the women as are tall and beautiful are soon released, but others who are ugly have to stay a long time before they can fulfil the law. Some have waited three or four years in the precinct. A custom very much like this is found also in certain parts of the island of Cyprus. I.200:

Explaining why such a custom exists, Morris Jastrow said: “Ishtar, as the mother of mankind, is also she who awakens passion. She is attended by maidens who appear to be her priestesses; these may well be the prototypes of the Houris with whom Mohammed peopled the paradise reserved for true believers. Ishtar, herself, is called by a term, kadishtu , that acquires the sense of “sacred prostitute”; and while the famous passage in Herodotus, wherein is described the “shameful custom” of the enforced yet willing defilement of every woman in Babylon in the temple, before being eligible for marriage, rests in part on an exaggeration, in part on a misunderstanding of a religious rite, yet it has a basis of truth in the aforesaid religious custom in connection with the worship of Ishtar, which became an outward expression of the spiritual idea of the goddess as the mother of parturition, and as an instigator of the passion underlying the sexual mystery.” [Source: Morris Jastrow, Lectures more than ten years after publishing his book “Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria” 1911 <>]


Edwin Long's Babylon Marriage Market


Hammurabi's Code of Laws: 127-136: Slander and Adultery

The Babylonian king Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) is credited with producing the Code of Hammurabi, the oldest surviving set of laws. Recognized for putting eye for an eye justice into writing and remarkable for its depth and judiciousness, it consists of 282 case laws with legal procedures and penalties. Many of the laws had been around before the code was etched in the eight-foot-highin black diorite stone that bears them. Hammurabi codified them into a fixed and standardized set of laws. [Source: Translated by L. W. King]

127. If any one "point the finger" (slander) at a sister of a god or the wife of any one, and can not prove it, this man shall be taken before the judges and his brow shall be marked. (by cutting the skin, or perhaps hair.)

128. If a man take a woman to wife, but have no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.

129. If a man's wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves.

130. If a man violate the wife (betrothed or child-wife) of another man, who has never known a man, and still lives in her father's house, and sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the wife is blameless.

131. If a man bring a charge against one's wife, but she is not surprised with another man, she must take an oath and then may return to her house.

132. If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband.

Code of the Assyrians (c. 1075 B.C.) on Rape and Adultery


from the Iraq Museum

I.12. If the wife of a man be walking on the highway, and a man seize her, say to her "I will surely have intercourse with you," if she be not willing and defend herself, and he seize her by force and rape her, whether they catch him upon the wife of a man, or whether at the word of the woman whom he has raped, the elders shall prosecute him, they shall put him to death. There is no punishment for the woman. [Source: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook]

I.13. If the wife of a man go out from her house and visit a man where he lives, and he have intercourse with her, knowing that she is a man's wife, the man and also the woman they shall put to death.

I.14. If a man have intercourse with the wife of a man either in an inn or on the highway, knowing that she is a man's wife, according as the man, whose wife she is, orders to be done, they shall do to the adulterer. If not knowing that she is a man's wife he rapes her, the adulterer goes free. The man shall prosecute his wife, doing to her as he likes.

I.15. If a man catch a man with his wife, both of them shall they put to death. If the husband of the woman put his wife to death, he shall also put the man to death. If he cut off the nose of his wife, he shall turn the man into a eunuch, and they shall disfigure the whole of his face.

I.16. If a man have relations with the wife of a man at her wish, there is no penalty for that man. The man shall lay upon the woman, his wife, the penalty he wishes.

I.18. If a man say to his companion, "They have had intercourse with they wife; I will prove it," and he be not able to prove it, and do not prove it, on that man they shall inflict forty blows, a month of days he shall perform the king's work, they shall mutilate him, and one talent of lead he shall pay.

I.20. If a man have intercourse with his brother-in-arms, they shall turn him into a eunuch.

I.57. In the case of every crime for which there is the penalty of the cutting-off of ear or nose or ruining or reputation or condition, as it is written it shall be carried out.

Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi


Inanna and Dumuzi

The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (Ishtar and Tammuz) goes:
The brother spoke to his younger sister.
The Sun God, Utu, spoke to Inanna, saying:
"Young Lady, the flax in its fullness is lovely.
Inanna, the grain is glistening in the furrow.
I will hoe it for you. I will bring it to you.
A piece of linen, big or small, is always needed.
Inanna, I will bring it to you." [Source: piney.com]

"Brother, after you've brought me the flax,
Who will comb it for me?"
"Sister, I will bring it to you combed."
"Utu, after you've brought it to me combed,
Who will spin it for me?
"Inanna I will bring it to you spun?"

"Brother, after you've brought the flax to be spun,
Who will braid it for me?"
"Sister, I will bring it to you braided."
"Utu, after you've brought it to me braided,
Who will weave it for me?"
"Sister, I will bring it to you woven."
"Utu, after you've brought it to me woven,
Who will bleach it for me?"
"Inanna, I will bring it to you bleached."

Who Will Go to Bed with Me?

"Brother, after you've brought my bridal sheet to me,
Who will go to bed with me?
Utu, who will go to bed with me?
"Sister, your bridegroom will go to bed with you.
He who was born from a fertile womb,
He who was conceived on the scared marriage throne,
Dumuzi, the shepherd! He will go to bed with you."


Ishtar (Inanna)

Inanna spoke:
"No, brother
The farmer! He is the man of my heart!
He gathers the grain into great heaps.
He brings the grain regularly into my storehouses."
Utu spoke:
"Sister, marry the shepherd.
Why are you unwilling?
His cream is good; his milk is good.

Whatever he touches shines brightly.
Inanna, marry Dumuzi.
You who adorn yourself with the agate necklace of fertility,
Why are you unwilling?
Dumuzi will share his rich cream with you.
You who are meant to be the kings protector,
Why are you unwilling?"
Inanna spoke:
"The shepherd? I will not marry the shepherd!
His clothes are course; his wool is rough.
I will marry the farmer.
The farmer grows flax for my clothes,
The farmer grows barley for my table."

Dumuzi spoke:
"Why do you speak about the farmer?
Why do you speak about him?
If he gives you black flour'
I will give you black wool.
If he gives you white flour,
I will give you white wool.
If he gives you beer,
I will give you sweet milk.
If he gives you bread,
I will give you honey cheese.

I will give the farmer my leftover cream.
I will give the farmer my leftover milk.
Why do you speak about the farmer?
What does he have more than I do?"
Inanna spoke:
"Shepherd, without my mother, Ningal, you'd be driven away,
without my grandmother, Ningikuga, you'd be driven into the
steeps,
without my father, Nanna, you'd have no roof,
without my brother Utu&emdash;"

Dumuzi spoke:
"Inanna, do not start a quarrel.
My father, Enki, is as good as your father, Nanna.
My mother, Sirtur, is as good as your mother, Ningal.
My sister, Geshtinanna, is as good as your.
Queen of the palace, let us talk it over."
The word they had spoken
Was a word of desire.
From the starting of the quarrel
Came the lovers desire.

The shepherd went to the royal house with cream.
Dumuzi went to the royal house with milk.
Before the door, he called out:
"Open the house, My Lady, open the house!"
Inanna ran to Ningal, the mother who bore her.
Ningal counseled her daughter, saying:
"My child, the young man will be you father.
My daughter, the young man will be your mother.
He will treat you like a father.
He will care for you like a mother.

Plow My Vulva!

Open the house, My Lady, open the house!"
Inanna, at her mothers command,
Bathed and anointed herself with scented oil.
She covered her body with the royal white robe.
She readied her dowry.
She arranged her precious lapis beads around her neck.
She took her seal in her hand.


Dumuzi waited expectantly.
Inanna opened the door for him.
Inside the house she shone before him.
Like the light of the moon.
Dumuzi looked at her joyously.
He pressed his neck close against hers.
He kissed her.
Inanna spoke:
"What I tell you
Let the singer weave into song.
What I tell you,
Let it flow from ear to mouth,
Let it pass from old to young:

My vulva, the horn,
The Boat of Heaven,
Is full of eagerness like the young moon.
My untilled land lies fallow.
As for me, Inanna,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will plow my high field?
Who will plow my wet ground?
As for me, the young woman,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will station the ox there?
Who will plow my vulva?

Dumuzi replied:
"Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva?
I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva."
Inanna:
"Then plow my vulva, man of my heart!
Plow my vulva!"
At the king's lap stood the rising cedar.
Plants grew high by their side.
Grains grew high by their side.
Gardens flourished luxuriantly.

He Is the One My Womb Loves Best

Inanna sang:
"He has sprouted; he has burgeoned;
He is lettuce planted by the water.
He is the one my womb loves best.
My well-stocked garden of the plain,
My barley growing high in its furrow,
My apple tree which bears fruit up to its crown,
He is lettuce planted by the water.


Tablet with the myth of Dumuzi

My honey-man, my honey-man sweetens me always.
My lord, the honey-man of the gods,
He is the one my womb loves best.
His hand is honey, his foot is honey,
He sweetens me always.
My eager impetuous caresser of the navel,
My caresser of the soft thighs,
He is the one my womb loves best.
He is letus planted by the water."

Dumuzi sang:
"O Lady, your breast is your field.
Inanna, your breast is your field.
Your broad field pours out the plants.
Your broad field pours out grain.
Water flows from on high for your servant.
Bread flows from on high for your servant.
Pour it out for me, Inanna.
I will drink all you offer."

Inanna sand:
"Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom.
My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk.
Wild bull Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick.
I will drink your fresh milk.
Let the milk of the goat flow in my sheepfold.

Fill my holy churn with honey cheese.
Lord Dumuzi, I will drink your fresh milk.
My husband, I will guard my sheepfold for you.
I will watch over your house of life, the storehouse,
The shining quivering place which delights Sumer&emdash;
The house which decides the fates of the land,
The house which gives the breath of life to the people.
I, the queen of the palace, will watch over your house."

Dumuzi spoke:
"My sister, I would go with you to my garden.
Inanna, I would go with you to my garden.
I would go with you to my orchard.
I would go with you to my apple tree.
There I would plant the sweet, honey-covered seed."
Inanna spoke:
"He brought me into his garden.
My brother, Dumuzi, brought me into his garden.
I strolled with him among the standing trees,
I stood with him among the fallen trees,
By the apple tree I knelt as is proper.

Before my brother coming in song,
Who rose to me out of poplar leaves,
Who came to me in the midday heat,
Before my lord, Dumuzi,
I poured out plants from my womb.
I placed plants before him,
I poured out plants before him.
I placed grain before him,
I poured out grain before him,
I poured out grain before my womb."

Inanna sang:
"Last night as I, the queen, was shining bright,
Last night as I, the Queen of Heaven, was shining bright,
As I was shining bright and dancing,
Singing praises at the coming of the night&emdash;
He met me&emdash;he met me!
My lord Dumuzi met me.

He pushed his hand to my hand.
He pressed his neck close against mine.
My high priest is ready for the holy loins.
My lord Dumuzi is ready for the holy loins.
The plants and herbs in his field are ripe.
O Dumuzi! You fullness is my delight!"
She called for it, she called for it, she called for the bed!
She called for the bed that rejoices the heart.
She called for the bed that sweetens the loins.
She called for the bed of kingship.
She called for the bed of queenship.

I Bathed for the Wild Bull...He Watered My Womb

Inanna called for the bed:
"Let the bed that rejoices the heart be prepared!
Let the bed that sweetens the lions be prepared!
Let the bed of kingship be prepared!
Let the bed of queenship be prepared!
Let the royal bed be prepared!"


Inanna spread the bridal sheet across the bed.
She called to the king:
"The bed is ready!"
She called to her bridegroom:
"The bed is waiting!"
He put his hand in her hand.
He put his hand to her heart.
Sweet is the sleep of the hand-to-hand.
Sweeter still is the sleep of heart-to-heart.
Inanna spoke:
"I bathed for the wild bull,
I bathed for the shepherd Dumuzi,
I perfumed my sides with ointment,
I coated my mouth with sweet-smelling amber,
I painted my eyes with kohl.
He shaped my loins with his fair hands.

The shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk,
He stroked my pubic hair,
He watered my womb.
He laid his hands on my holy vulva,
He smoothed my black boat with cream,
He quickened my narrow boat with milk,
He creased me on the bed.

Now I will caress my high priest on the bed,
I will caress the faithful shepherd Dumuzi,
I will caress his loins, the shephership of the land,
I will decree a sweet fate for him."
The Queen of Heaven,
The heroic woman, greater than her mother,
Who was presented the me by Enki,
Inanna, the First Daughter of the Moon,
Decreed the fate of Dumuzi:

"In battle I am you leader,
In combat I am you armor-bearer
In the assembly I am your advocate,
On the campaign I am your inspiration.
You, the chosen shepherd of the holy shrine,
You, the king, the faithful provider of Uruk,
You, the light of An's great shrine,
In all ways you are fit:

To hold you head high on the loft dais,
To sit on the lapis lazuli throne,
To cover you head with the holy crown,
To wear long clothes on your body,
To bind yourself with the garments of kingship,
To carry the mace and sword,
To guide straight the long bow and arrow,
To fasten the throw-stick and sling at your side,
To race on the road with the holy scepter in your hand,
And the holy sandals on your feet,
To prance on the holy breast like a lapis lazuli calf.

My Fair Dumuzi Did So Fifty Times

You, the sprinter, the chosen shepherd,
In all ways you are fit.
May your heart enjoy long days.
That which An has determined for you&emdash;may it not be altered.
That which Enlil has granted&emdash;may it not be changed.
You are the favorite of Ningal.
Inanna holds you dear."

Ninshubur, the faithful servant of the holy shrine of Uruk,
Led Dumuzi to the sweet thighs of Inanna and spoke:
"My queen, here is the choice of your heart,
the king, your beloved bridegroom.
May he spend long days in the sweetness of your holy loins.
Give him a favorable and glorious reign.
Grant him the king's throne, firm in its foundations.
Grant him the shepherd's staff of judgment.
Grant him the enduring crown with the radiant and noble
diadem.


Dumuzi tortured in the underworld


From where the sun rises to where the sun sets,
From north to south,
From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea,
From the land of the huluppu-tree to the land of the cedar,
Let his shepherd's staff protect all of Sumer and Akkad.

As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,
As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,
Under his reign let there be vegetation,
Under his reign let there be rich grain.
In the marshland may the fish and birds chatter,
In the canebrake may the young and old reeds grow high,
In the steppe may the deer and wild goats multiply,
In the orchards may there be honey and wine,
In the grasslands may the lettuce and cress grow high,
In the palace may there be long life.

May there be floodwater in the Tigris and Euphrates,
May the plants grow high on their banks and fill the meadows,
May the Lady of Vegetation pile the grain in heaps and mounds.
O my Queen of Heaven and Earth,
Queen of all the universe,
May he enjoy long days in the sweetness of your lions."
The king went with lifted head to the holy loin.
He went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna.
He went to the queen with lifted head.
He opened wide his arms to the holy priestess of heaven.

Inanna spoke:
"My beloved, the delight of my eyes, met me.
We rejoiced together.
He took his pleasure of me.
He brought me into his house.
He laid me down on the fragrant honey-bed.
My sweet love, lying by my heart,
Tongue-playing, one by one,
My fair Dumuzi did so fifty times.
Now, my sweet loves is sated.
Now he says:
'Set me free, my sister, set me free.
You will be a little daughter to my father.

Come, my beloved sister, I would go to the palace.
Set me free
Inanna spoke:
"My brother-brearer, your allure was sweet.
My blossom-bearer in the apple orchard,
My bearer of fruit in the apple orchard,
Dumuzi-abzu, your allure was sweet.
My fearless one,
My holy statue,
My statue outfitted with sword and lapis lazuli diadem,
How sweet was you allure

Enlil and Ninlil


Enlil and Ninlil

The myth of the god Enlil and his consort Ninlil goes:
It was just a city, just a city
But these chose to come settle,
Nippur was just a city,
but these chose to come settle,
Durgishimmar was just a city,
but these chose to come settle.
[Source: "The Harps That Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation" by Thorkild Jacobsen. Yale University Press, Publishers, 1987, piney.com]

Just Idsalla was its pure river,
just Kargeshtina its harbor quay,
just Karusar its mooring quay,
just Pulal its well of sweet water,
just Nunbirdu its shimmering canal,
if measured out, just fifty sar each
were its arable lands.

Just Enlil was its young man
just Ninlil was its young maiden
just Ninbarshegunu, was its matron.
In those days
did the mother who gave her birth
advise the girl,
Ninbarshegunu
advised Ninlil:

May you not, 'o woman,
bathe in the pure canal,
in the pure canal,
may you not 'o Ninlil,
come stepping back
unto the bank of Nunbirdu!

Forthwith That Cock...Will Come Burgeoning

He who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you,
the great mountain, father Enlil,
who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you,
the shepherd, the decision maker,
who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you.
Forthwith that cock
will come burgeoning
he will be kissing you
and, happy, will gladly leave with you
the glorious sperm filled into the womb.

To the mother who advised her
she on her part lent ear.
In that selfsame pure canal,
in that selfsame pure canal,
the woman came and bathed,
and Ninlil was about to come stepping
back unto the bank of Nunbirdu.

He who is all bright eyes,
the master, who is all bright eyes,
laid eyes upon her,
the great mountain, father Enlil,
who is all bright eyes,
laid eyes upon her,
the shepherd, the decision maker,
who is all bright eyes,
laid eyes upon her:

"Let me make love with you!"
he was saying to her,
but was not thereby able
to make her agree to it.
"Let me kiss you!"
Enlil was saying to her,
but was not thereby able
to make her agree to it.

"My parts are little,
know not how to stretch,
my lips are little,
know not how to kiss!
If my mother learned about it
she would be slapping my hand,
if my father learned about it,
he would be grabbing hold of me harshly,
and it would not be for me,
now, to tell my girlfriend,
I should be drying up on her!

Enlil said to his page, Nusku:
Nusku, my page!
"Yes, pray!"
Great trust of the Ekur!
"Yes, my master!"
With a girl so nice, so shapely,
with Ninlil, so nice, so shapely,
one gets an urge
to make love
one gets an urge to kiss!

He Followed the Urge to Make That Love


The page brought to his master
the likes of a boat
brought to him the likes of a towline
of a small boat
brought to him the likes of a big boat:
My master, willing,
let me float him down on it,
so he can follow the urge
to make that love,
follow the urge to kiss those lips,
father Enlil willing
let me float him down on it
so he can follow the urge
to make that love,
follow the urge to kiss those lips!

As he was hugging her
he held her hands,
followed the urge to kiss those lips;
and she for her part
was making lie up next to him
the bottom and the little moist place.
He followed the urge
to make that love,
followed the urge to kiss those lips,
and at his first making love,
at his first kiss,
he poured into the womb for her
the sperm, germ of Suen the moon,
the bright lone divine traveler!

Enlil was passing through Kiur,
and as Enlil was passing through Kiur
the fifty great gods,
and the seven gods
of formulating the decisions,
were seizing Enlil in Kiur:
The sex offender Enlil
will leave the town!
The sex offender Nunamnir
will leave the town!
Enlil, in accordance
with what has been decided about him,
left town.

Enlil was walking along,
Ninlil was following,
Nunamnir was walking along,
the girl was pursuing.
Enlil said to the man
in charge of the city gate:
Man of the city gate,
man of the bolt,
man of the lock,
man of the holy bolt!
Your mistress Ninlil
will be coming
an she ask you about me
do you not show her where I am!

Ninlil said to the man
in charge of the city gate:
Man of the city gate,
man of the bolt,
man of the lock,
man of the holy bolt!
Where did Enlil your master go?
Enlil had the man of the city gate answer her.
My master never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me,
Enlil never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me!

Let My Hand Touch Your Pudenda!

Having decided in my mind,
I made my plans,
and was filling from him
my empty womb,
Enlil, king of all lands
made love with me.
As Enlil is your master
so also am I your mistress!
An you be my mistress
let my hand touch your pudenda!

A sperm, your future master,
a lustrous sperm, is in my womb,
a sperm, germ of Suen the moon,
a lustrous sperm is in my womb!
May the sperm, my future master,
go heavenward,
and may my sperm
go to the netherworld,
may my sperm
instead of the sperm, my future master
come to the netherworld!

Enlil, as the man of the city gate
had her lie down in the latter's chamber,
made love with her, kissed her;
and at his lovemaking,
at his first kiss,
he poured into the womb for her
the sperm, germ of Nergal,
the one issuing forth from Meslam!

Enlil was walking along,
Ninlil was following,
Nunamnir was walking along,
the girl was pursuing.
Enlil drew near
the river of the mountains,
the man-nourishing river,
and to the man in charge
of the river of the mountains,
the man-nourishing river,
Enlil said:
Your mistress Ninlil
will be coming
an she ask you about me
do you not show her where I am!

Ninlil was nearing
the river of the mountains,
the man-nourishing river,
and to the man in charge
of the river of the mountains,
the man-nourishing river,
Ninlil said:
Where did Enlil
your master go?

Enlil had the man of the river of the mountains answer her.
My master never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me,
Enlil never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me!
Having decided in my mind,
I made my plans,
and was filling from him
my empty womb,
Enlil, king of all lands
made love with me.
As Enlil is your master
so also am I your mistress!

Sperm, Your Future Master


An you be my mistress
let my hand touch your pudenda!
A sperm, your future master,
a lustrous sperm, is in my womb,
a sperm, germ of Suen the moon,
a lustrous sperm is in my womb!
May the sperm, my future master,
go heavenward,
and may my sperm
go to the netherworld,
may my sperm
instead of the sperm, my future master
come to the netherworld!

Enlil, as the man in charge of the river of the mountains
had her lie down in the latter's chamber,
made love with her, kissed her;
and at his lovemaking,
at his first kiss,
he poured into the womb for her
the sperm, germ of Ninazu,
owner of the temple manor Egida!

Enlil was walking along,
Ninlil was following,
Nunamnir was walking along,
the girl was pursuing.
Enlil drew near Silulim the ferryman
Enlil said:
Your mistress Ninlil
will be coming
an she ask you about me
do you not show her where I am!

Ninlil drew near the ferryman
and said to him:
'O ferryman, where did Enlil
your master go?
Enlil had the man Silulim
make answer:
My master never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me,
Enlil never deigned
to exchange pleasantries with me!

Having decided in my mind,
I made my plans,
and was filling from him
my empty womb,
Enlil, king of all lands
made love with me.
As Enlil is your master
so also am I your mistress!

Lustrous Sperm, Is in My Womb

An you be my mistress
let my hand touch your pudenda!
A sperm, your future master,
a lustrous sperm, is in my womb,
a sperm, germ of Suen the moon,
a lustrous sperm is in my womb!

May the sperm, my future master,
go heavenward,
and may my sperm
go to the netherworld,
may my sperm
instead of the sperm, my future master
come to the netherworld!

Enlil, as Silulim
had her lie down in the latter's chamber,
made love with her, kissed her;
and at his lovemaking,
at his first kiss,
he poured into the womb for her
the sperm, germ of Enbilulu,
the river warden!

Thou art lord! Thou art master!
Enlil, thou art lord! Thou art master!
Nunamnir, thou art lord! Thou art master!
A lord, carrying great weight,
lord of the storehouse,
art thou!
The lord making the barley sprout forth,
the lord making the vines sprout forth,
art thou!
Lord of heaven, lord making yields be,
and lord of the earth,
art thou!
Lord of the earth, lord making yields be,
and lord of heaven
art thou!
Enlil being lord, Enlil being master,
and inasmuch as a lord's word
cannot be changed!
Give praise unto Mother Ninlil!
Father Enlil, praise!

Endiku Makes Love to the Harlot Shamhat


A passage from the “Epic of Gilgamesh” about the taming of Gilgamesh’s friend Enkidu goes:
“The hunter went; he led forth the harlot Shamhat with him,
And they took the road, they made the journey.
In three days they reached the appointed place.
Hunter and harlot sat down in their hiding place.
For one day, then a second, they sat at the watering place.
Then cattle arrived at the watering place; they drank.
Then wild beasts arrived at the water; they satisfied their need. [Source: S. Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 52-56, 138-39, piney.com]

“And he, Enkidu, whose origin is the mountain,
Who eats vegetation with gazelles,
Drinks at the watering place with cattle,
Satisfied his need for water with wild beasts.
Shamhat looked at the primitive man,
The murderous youth from the depths of open country.

“"Here he is, Shamhat, bare your bosom,
Open your legs and let him take in your attractions!
Do not pull away, take wind of him!
He will see you and come close to you.
Spread open your garments, and let him lie upon you,
Do for him, the primitive man, as women do.
Then his cattle, who have grown up in open country with him,
will become alien to him.
His love-making he will lavish upon you!"

“Shamhat loosened her undergarments, opened her legs and he took in her attractions.
She did not pull away. She took wind of him,
Spread open her garments, and he lay upon her.
She did for him, the primitive man, as women do.
His love-making he lavished upon her.
For six days and seven nights Enkidu was aroused and poured himself into Shamhat.

Ishtar Wants Gilgamesh for a Lover, Gilgamesh Refuses

Tablet VI, col. 1 of the “Epic of Gilgamesh” reads: "To Gilgamesh's beauty Great ISHTAR [Astarte-Aphrodite] lifted her eyes. `Come, Gilgamesh, be my lover! Give me the taste of your body. Would that you were my husband, and I were your wife! I'd order harnessed for you a chariot of lapis lazuli and gold, its wheels of gold and its horns of precious amber. You will drive storm demons--powerful mules! Enter our House, into the sweet scent of cedarwood. As you enter our House, the Purification Priests will kiss your feet the way they do in Aratta. Kings, rulers, princes will bend down before you. Mountains and lands will bring their yield to you. Your goats will drop triplets, your ewes twins. Even loaded down, your donkey will overtake the mule. Your horses will win fame for their running. Your ox under its yoke will have no rival!' [Source: CSUN, Powell, Classical Myth, pp. 62; 247-249; 334-336]

“Gilgamesh shaped his mouth to speak, saying to Great Ishtar: `What could I give you if I should take you as a wife? Would I give you oil for the body, and fine wrappings? Would I give you bread and food? You who eat the food of the gods, you who drink the wine fit for royalty! For you they pour out libations. You are clothed with the Great Garment! Ah, the gap between us, if I take you in marriage.

“'You are a cooking fire that goes out in the cold; a back door that keeps out neither wind nor storm; a palace that crushes the brave ones defending it; a well whose lid collapses; pitch that dirties one who is carrying it; a waterskin that soaks the one who lifts it; limestone that crumbles in the stone wall; a battering-ram that shatters in the land of the enemy; a shoe that pinches the owner's foot!

'Which of your lovers have you loved forever? Which of your Little Shepherds has continued to please you? Come, let me name your lovers for you! ... (col. 2:) ... for Tammuz, the lover of your youth. Year after year you set up a wailing for him. You loved the mauve-colored `shepherd bird': but you seized him and broke his wing .... So you would love me in my turn, and, as with them, set my fate...."

Enki and Ninhursanga

The myth of the Sumerians gods Enki and Ninhursanga goes: “Pure are the cities -- and you are the ones to whom they are allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Sumer -- and you are the ones to whom it is allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Pristine is Dilmun land. He laid her down all alone in Dilmun, and the place where Enki had lain down with his spouse, that place was still virginal, that place was still pristine. He laid her down all alone in Dilmun, and the place where Enki had lain down with Ninsikila, that place was virginal, that place was pristine. [Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“In Dilmun the raven was not yet cawing, the partridge not cackling. The lion did not slay, the wolf was not carrying off lambs, the dog had not been taught to make kids curl up, the pig had not learned that grain was to be eaten. When a widow has spread malt on the roof, the birds did not yet eat that malt up there. The pigeon then did not tuck the head under its wing. No eye-diseases said there: "I am the eye disease." No headache said there: "I am the headache." No old woman belonging to it said there: "I am an old woman." No old man belonging to it said there: "I am an old man." No maiden in her unwashed state ...... in the city. No man dredging a river said there: "It is getting dark." No herald made the rounds in his border district. No singer sang an elulam there. No wailings were wailed in the city's outskirts there....

“The city's dwellings are good dwellings. Dilmun's dwellings are good dwellings. Its grains are little grains, its dates are big dates, its harvests are triple ......, its wood is ...... wood.) At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, when Utu stepped up into heaven, from the standing vessels on Ezen's shore, from Nanna's radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground, fresh waters ran out of the ground for her. The waters rose up from it into her great basins. Her city drank water aplenty from them. Dilmun drank water aplenty from them. Her pools of salt water indeed became pools of fresh water. Her fields, glebe and furrows indeed produced grain for her. Her city indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. Dilmun indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, so it indeed happened.”

Enki Digs His Phallus into the Dykes and Reedbeds

The myth of Enki and Ninhursanga continues:“All alone the wise one, toward Nintud, the country's mother, Enki, the wise one, toward Nintud, the country's mother, was digging his phallus into the dykes, plunging his phallus into the reedbeds. The august one pulled his phallus aside and cried out: "No man take me in the marsh." [Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“Enki cried out: "By the life's breath of heaven I adjure you. Lie down for me in the marsh, lie down for me in the marsh, that would be joyous." Enki distributed his semen destined for Damgalnuna. He poured semen into Ninhursaja's womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki.

“But her one month was one day, but her two months were two days, but her three months were three days, but her four months were four days, but her five months were five days, but her six months were six days, but her seven months were seven days, but her eight months were eight days, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Nintud, mother of the country, like juniper oil, gave birth to Ninsar.

Enki Poured Semen into the Womb — of His Daughter and Granddaughter

Enki and Ninhursanga continues: “In turn Ninsar went out to the riverbank. Enki was able to see up there from in the marsh, he was able to see up there, he was. He said to his minister Isimud: "Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? Is this nice Ninsar not to be kissed?" His minister Isimud answered him: "Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? Is this nice Ninsar not to be kissed? My master will sail, let me navigate. He will sail, let me navigate."

“First he put his feet in the boat, next he put them on dry land. He clasped her to the bosom, kissed her, Enki poured semen into the womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her two months were two days, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninsar, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Ninkura. [Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“In turn Ninkura went out to the riverbank. Enki was able to see up there from in the marsh, he was able to see up there, he was. He said to his minister Isimud: "Is this nice youngster not to be kissed? Is this nice Ninkura not to kissed?" His minister Isimud answered him: "Kiss this nice youngster. Kiss this nice Ninkura. My master will sail, let me navigate. He will sail, let me navigate."

“First he put his feet in the boat, next he put them on dry land. He clasped her to the bosom, kissed her, Enki poured semen into the womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. But her one month was one day, but her nine months were nine days. In the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninkura, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Uttu, the exalted woman....

...And His Great Granddaughter and Great Great Granddaughter

“Ninkura in turn gave birth to Ninimma. She brought the child up and made her flourish. Ninimma in turn went out to the riverbank. Enki was towing his boat along and was able to see up there, ....... He laid eyes on Ninimma on the riverbank and said to his minister Isimud: "Have I ever kissed one like this nice youngster? Have I ever made love to one like nice Ninimma?" His minister Isimud answered him: "My master will sail, let me navigate. He will sail, let me navigate."

“First he put his feet in the boat, next he put them on dry land. He clasped her to the bosom, lying in her crotch, made love to the youngster and kissed her. Enki poured semen into Ninimma's womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. To the woman its one month was but its one day, its two months were but its two days, its three months were but its three days, its four months were but its four days, its five months were but its five days, its six months were but its six days, its seven months were but its seven days, its eight months were but its eight days, and at its nine days, in the month of womanhood, like juniper oil, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, Ninimma, like juniper oil, like oil of abundance, gave birth to Uttu, the exalted woman.)

“Nintud said to Uttu: "Let me advise you, and may you take heed of my advice. Let me speak words to you and may you heed my words. From in the marsh one man is able to see up here, is able to see up here, he is; from in the marsh Enki is able to see up here, is able to see up here, he is. He will set eyes on you..." (Uttu said:) "Bring cucumbers in ......, bring apples with their stems sticking out , bring grapes in their clusters, and in the house you will indeed have hold of my halter, O Enki, you will indeed have hold of my halter."

“When he was filling with water a second time, he filled the dykes with water, he filled the canals with water, he filled the fallows with water. The gardener in his joy rose from the dust and embraced him: "Who are you who ...... the garden?" Enki (said to) ...... the gardener...[ 4 lines missing]...He brought him cucumbers in ......, brought him apples with their stems sticking out , brought him grapes in their clusters, filled his lap. Enki made his face attractive and took a staff in his hand. Enki came to a halt at Uttu's, knocked at her house (demanding): "Open up, open up." (She asked): "Who are you?" (He answered:) "I am a gardener. Let me give you cucumbers, apples, and grapes for your 'Yes'." Joyfully Uttu opened the house. Enki gave Uttu, the exalted woman, cucumbers in ......, gave her apples with their stems sticking out , gave her grapes in their clusters.

“Uttu, the exalted woman, ...... to the left for him, waved the hands for him. Enki aroused Uttu. He clasped her to the bosom, lying in her crotch, fondled her thighs, fondled her with the hand. He clasped her to the bosom, lying in her crotch, made love to the youngster and kissed her. Enki poured semen into Uttu's womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki. Uttu, the beautiful woman, cried out : "Woe, my thighs". She cried out: "Woe, my liver. Woe, my heart."

Ninhursaja Removed the Semen and a 'Vegetable' Plant Grows

“Ninhursaja removed the semen from the thighs.....She grew the 'tree' plant, she grew the 'honey' plant, she grew the 'vegetable' plant, she grew the esparto grass , she grew the atutu plant, she grew the actaltal plant, she grew the ...... plant, she grew the amharu plant. Enki was able to see up there from in the marsh, he was able to see up there, he was. He said to his minister Isimud: "I have not determined the destiny of these plants. What is this one? What is that one?"

“His minister Isimud had the answer for him. "My master, the 'tree' plant," he said to him, cut it off for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the 'honey' plant," he said to him, pulled it up for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the 'vegetable' plant," he said to him, cut it off for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the alfalfa grass ," he said to him, pulled it up for him and Enki ate it.

"My master, the atutu plant," he said to him, cut it off for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the actaltal plant," he said to him, pulled it up for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the ...... plant," he said to him, cut it off for him and Enki ate it. "My master, the amharu plant," he said to him, pulled it up for him and Enki ate it. Enki determined the destiny of the plants, had them know it in their hearts.

Ninhursaja Cursed Enki and Made Him Sit by Her Vagina

“Ninhursaja cursed the name Enki: "Until his dying day, I will never look upon him with life-giving eye." The Anuna sat down in the dust. But a fox was able to speak to Enlil: "If I bring Ninhursaja to you, what will be my reward?" Enlil answered the fox: "If you bring Ninhursaja to me, I shall erect two standards for you in my city and you will be renowned."

“The fox first anointed his body, first shook out his fur , first put kohl on his eyes....(The fox said to Ninhursaja:) "I have been to Nibru, but Enlil ....... I have been to Urim, but Nanna ....... I have been to Larsa, but Utu ....... I have been to Unug, but Inana ....... I am seeking refuge with one who is ......." Ninhursaja hastened to the temple. The Anuna slipped off her garment, made ......, determined its destiny and .......Ninhursaja made Enki sit by her vagina.

(Ninhursaja asked:) "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "The top of my head (ugu-dili) hurts me." She gave birth to Ab-u out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "The locks of my hair (siki) hurt me." She gave birth to Ninsikila out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My nose (giri) hurts me." She gave birth to Ningiriudu out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My mouth (ka) hurts me." She gave birth to Ninkasi out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My throat (zi) hurts me." She gave birth to Nazi out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My arm (a) hurts me." She gave birth to Azimua out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My ribs (ti) hurt me." She gave birth to Ninti out of it. "My brother, what part of you hurts you?" "My sides (zag) hurt me." She gave birth to Ensag out of it.

“(She said:) "For the little ones to whom I have given birth may rewards not be lacking. Ab-u shall become king of the grasses, Ninsikila shall become lord of Magan, Ningiriudu shall marry Ninazu, Ninkasi shall be what satisfies the heart, Nazi shall marry Nindara, Azimua shall marry Ninjiczida, Ninti shall become the lady of the month, and Ensag shall become lord of Dilmun."... Praise be to Father Enki.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Times of Israel, Vorderasiatische Museum Berlin, University of Chicago

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu , National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, especially Merle Severy, National Geographic, May 1991 and Marion Steinmann, Smithsonian, December 1988, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018


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