Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World

Ascending From the Nether World

Inanna Ascending From the Nether World

From the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below,

The goddess, from the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below,”

Inanna, from the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below.”

My lady abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Abandoned lordship, abandoned ladyship,
To the nether world she descended.

In Erech she abandoned Eanna,
To the nether world she descended,
In Badtibira she abandoned Emushkalamma,
To the nether world she descended,
In Zabalam she abandoned Giguna,
To the nether world she descended,
In Adab she abandoned Esharra,
To the nether world she descended,
In Nippur she abandoned Baratushgarra,
To the nether world she descended,
In Kish she abandoned Hursagkalamma,
To the nether world she descended,
In Agade she abandoned Eulmash,
To the nether world she descended.

The seven divine decrees she fastened at the side,
She sought out the divine decrees, placed them at her hand,
All the decrees she set up at (her) waiting foot,
The shugurra, the crown of the plain, she put upon her bead,
Radiance she placed upon her countenance,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli she gripped in (her) hand,
Small lapis lazuli stones she tied about her neck,
Sparkling . . . stones she fastened to her breast,
A gold ring she gripped in her band,
A . . . breastplate she bound about her breast,
All the garments of ladyship she arranged about her body,
. . . ointment she put on her face. p. 89

Inanna walked toward the nether world,
Her messenger Ninshubur walked at her side,
The pare Inanna says to Ninshubur:
“O (thou who art) my constant support,
My messenger of favorable words,
My carrier of supporting words,
I am now descending to the nether world.

“When I shall have come to the nether world,
Fill heaven with complaints for me,
In the assembly shrine cry out for me,
In the house of the gods rush about for me,
Lower thy eye for me, lower thy mouth for me,
With . . . lower thy great . . . for me,
Like a pauper in a single garment dress for me,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil, all alone direct thy step.

“Upon thy entering the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
Weep before Enlil:
‘O father Enlil, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’

“If Enlil stands not by thee in this matter, go to Ur.

“In Ur upon thy entering the house of the . . . of the land,
The Ekishshirgal, the house of Nanna,
Weep before Nanna:
‘O Father Nanna, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’

“If Nanna stands not by thee in this matter, go to Eridu. p. 90

“In Eridu upon thy entering the house of Enki,
Weep before Enki:
‘O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’

“Father Enki, the lord of wisdom,
Who knows the food of life, who knows the water of life,
He will surely bring me to life.”

Inanna walked toward the nether world,
To her messenger Ninshubur she says:
“Go, Ninshubur,
The word which I have commanded thee . . .”

When Inanna had arrived at the lapis lazuli palace of the nether world,
At the door of the nether world she acted evilly,
In the palace of the nether world she spoke evilly:
“Open the house, gatekeeper, open the house,
Open the house, Neti, open the house, all alone I would enter.”

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Answers the pure Inanna:
“Who pray art thou?”

“I am the queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises.”

“If thou art the queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises,
Why pray hast thou come to the land of no return?
On the road whose traveller returns not how has thy heart led thee?”

The pure Inanna answers him:
“My elder sister Ereshkigal,
Because her husband, the lord Gugalanna, had been killed,
To witness the funeral rites,
. . .; so be it.”

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Answers the pure Inanna:
Stay, Inanna, to my queen let me speak,
To my queen Ereshkigal let me speak . . . let me speak.” p. 91

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Enters the house of his queen Ereshkigal and says to her:
“O my queen, a maid,
Like a god . . .,
The door . . .,
. . .,
In Eanna . . .,
The seven divine decrees she has fastened at the side,
She has sought out the divine decrees, has placed them at her hand,
All the decrees she has set up at (her) waiting foot,
The shugurra, the crown of the plain, she has put upon her head,
Radiance she has placed upon her countenance,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli she has gripped in (her) hand,
Small lapis lazuli stones she has tied about her neck,
Sparkling . . . stones she has fastened to her breast,
A gold ring she has gripped in her hand,
A . . . breastplate she has bound about her breast,
All her garments of ladyship she has arranged about her body,
. . . ointment she has put on her face.”

Then Ereshkigal . . .,
Answers Neti, her chief gatekeeper:
“Come, Neti, chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Unto the word which I command thee, give ear.
Of the seven gates of the nether world, open their locks,
Of the gate Ganzir, the ‘face’ of the nether world, define its rules;
Upon her (Inanna’s) entering,
Bowed low . . . let her . . .”

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Honored the word of his queen.
Of the seven gates of the nether world, he opened their locks,
Of the gate Ganzir, the ‘face’ of the nether world, he defined its rules.
To the pure Inanna he says:
“Come, Inanna, enter.”

Upon her entering the first gate,
The shugurra, the “crown of the plain” of her head, was removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.” p. 92

Upon her entering the second gate,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli was removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Upon her entering the third gate,
The small lapis lazuli stones of her neck were removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Upon her entering the fourth gate,
The sparkling . . . stones of her breast were removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Upon her entering the fifth gate,
The gold ring of her hand was removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Upon her entering the sixth gate,
The . . . breastplate of her breast was removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Upon her entering the seventh gate,
All the garments of ladyship of her body were removed.
What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”

Bowed low . . .

The pure Ereshkigal seated herself upon her throne,
The Anunnaki, the seven judges, pronounced judgment before her,
They fastened (their) eyes upon her, the eyes of death, p. 93
At their word, the word which tortures the spirit,
. . . ,
The sick woman was turned into a corpse,
The corpse was hung from a stake.

After three days and three nights had passed,
Her messenger Ninshubur,
Her messenger of favorable words,
Her carrier of supporting words,
Fills the heaven with complaints for her,
Cried for her in the assembly shrine,
Rushed about for her in the house of the gods,
Lowered his eye for her, lowered his mouth for her,
With . . . he lowered his great . . . for her,
Like a pauper in a single garment he dressed for her,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil, all alone he directed his step.

Upon his entering the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
Before Enlil he weeps:
“O father Enlil, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”

Father Enlil answers Ninshubur:
“My daughter, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
Inanna, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’. . .,
The decrees of the nether world, the . . . decrees, to their place . . .,
Who, pray, to their place . . .?”

Father Enlil stood not by him in this matter, he went to Ur.

In Ur upon his entering the house of the . . . of the land,
The Ekishshirgal, the house of Nanna,
Before Nanna he weeps:
“O father Nanna, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world, p. 94
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”

Father Nanna answers Ninshubur:
“My daughter in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
Inanna, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
The decrees of the nether world, the . . . decrees, to their place . . .,
Who, pray, to their place . . .?”

Father Nanna stood not by him in this matter, he went to Eridu.
In Eridu upon his entering the house of Enki,
Before Enki he weeps:
“O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”

Father Enki answers Ninshubur:
“What now has my daughter done! I am troubled,
What now has Inanna done! I am troubled,
What now has the queen of all the lands done! I am troubled,
What now has the hierodule of heaven done! I am troubled.”

. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kurgarru,
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kalaturru,
To the kurgarru he gave the food of life,
To the kalaturru he gave the water of life,
Father Enki says to the kalaturru and kurgarru:
. . . (nineteen lines destroyed)
Upon the corpse hung from a stake direct the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times the food of life, sixty times the water of life, sprinkle upon it,
Verily Inanna will arise.”

. . . (twenty-four(?) lines destroyed) p. 95

Upon the corpse hung from a stake they directed the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times the food of life, sixty times the water of life, they sprinkled upon it,
Inanna arose.

Inanna ascends from the nether world,
The Anunnaki fled,
(And) whoever of the nether world that had descended peacefully to the nether world;
When Inanna ascends from the nether world,
Verily the dead hasten ahead of her.

Inanna ascends from the nether world,
The small demons like . . . reeds,
The large demons like tablet styluses,
Walked at her side.
Who walked in front of her, being without . . ., held a staff in the hand,
Who walked at her side, being without . . ., carried a weapon on the loin.
They who preceded her,
They who preceded Inanna,
(Were beings who) know not food, who know not water,
Who eat not sprinkled flour,
Who drink not libated wine,
Who take away the wife from the loins of man,
Who take away the child from the breast of the nursing mother.

Inanna ascends from the nether world;
Upon Inanna’s ascending from the nether world,
Her messenger Ninshubur threw himself at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring him to thee.”

The pure Inanna answers the demons:
“(He is) my messenger of favorable words,
My carrier of supporting words,
He fails not my directions,
He delays not my commanded word,
He fills heaven with complaints for me,
In the assembly shrine he cried out for me,
In the house of the gods he rushed about for me,
He lowered his eye for me, he lowered his mouth for me,
With . . . he lowered his great . . . for me, p. 96
Like a pauper in a single garment he dressed for me,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
In Ur, to the house of Nanna,
In Eridu, to the house of Enki (he directed his step),
He brought me to life.”

“Let us precede her, in Umma to the Sigkurshagga let us precede her.”

In Umma, from the Sigkurshagga,
Shara threw himself at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring him to thee.”

The pure Inanna answers the demons:
(Inanna’s answer is destroyed)

“Let us precede her, in Badtibira to the Emushkalamma let us precede her.”

In Badtibira from the Emushkalamma,
. . . threw themselves at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring them to thee.”

The pure Inanna answers the demons:
(Inanna’s answer destroyed; the end of the poem is wanting)

Reference:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/sum/sum08.htm

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