The kingdom of the dead is the greatest city of them all.
*Before there was Fate, death was a hostile force.
The Kur took the girl
And there was no return.
After heaven had been moved away from earth,*
After earth had been separated from heaven,
After the name of man had been fixed;
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into Kur as its prize;
After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father for Kur had set sail,
After Enki for Kur had set sail;
Against the king the small ones it (Kur) hurled,
Against Enki, the large ones it hurled;
Its small ones, stones of the hand,
Its large ones, stones of . . . reeds,
The keel of the boat of Enki,
In battle, like the attacking storm, overwhelm;
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Like a wolf devours,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Like a lion strikes down.
Now the Great City has a Queen.
Ereshkigal within Ir-Kalla.
The Great city-Irkalla- was ringed with seven walls.
Seven gates to guard the living from the dead.
The Sultantepe myth.
When Gugulanna, the Great power of earth, Ereshkigal's husband, was dead..
When fire refused to bow to fate-
When Gerra refused to bow to Namtar
Ea commanded him
'I will create your twin...
Cut and bring to me
A Mesu tree, Hasherru tree, a Sapalu tree'.
'Carve three things
Decorate them with gold and lapis
A scepter, a chair and a gift for the gate-keeper, Ningishizida.
When you reach the land of no return
Refuse all hospitality.
Do not eat.
Do not drink.
Refuse the throne
And refuse her...'
Gerra set his face to the House of Darkness,
At the gate, no one recognised him.
Gerra entered Irkalla.
But Namtar knew him.
His face grew black with rage.
Food they offered him, drink and hospitality...
All these he refused until he saw her..
For seven days and seven nights they lay together.
Then Gerra left..
Got up and walked away.
Ascended the great stair.
Anu, Enlil and Ea shouted "The son of Ishtar has come back!"
Gerra is washed in Holy spring water
To remove the pollution of the Great City.
The hair falls from his head
Gerra is washed in Holy spring water
To purify the pollution of the Great City.
His limbs contract and he sits cross-legged, cross-eyed and lame...
No one escapes the Underworld unscathed.
Whilst in the Great Below
Tears fall from Ereshkigal like rain..
Her powers are gone
She is impure
No longer does she have the authority to administer the affairs of the dead.
Whilst the Lord of Flame hides...
Namtar issues the threat from his Queen
Unless Gerra return
The seven gates will be unlocked
The dead will outnumber the living.
Gerra, the Lord of Flame must descend once more to take the road leads one way.
In the Sultantepe myth, the god who refuses to bow to Namtar is called Nergal.
But Nergal is a shortened form of a name that ends in Ir-Gal, which is to all intents and purposes the same as Iri-Kala
At the start of the story, I believe, he is a fire god.
He will become Lord of the Great City.
The story begins at the present; Nergal is the Lord of the underworld.
The story tells how this came about.
When Ea commands Gerra to cut down trees.
One tree is the Mesu tree
From this tree Nergal recieves another name: Meslamtea- which means
'He who comes out of the thriving mesu tree'Perhaps this refers to the flammable nature of resins and of wood itself; the capacity to burn.
As Nin-Gishizida is the power in the sap. But no one remembers what a mesu tree is; Ebony or perhaps Ceder, no one knows...
The Tell El Amerna myth
...following on from where we left Gerra, bald, disfigured, lame...
When Namtar enters the room..
Gerra is hiding.
The threat is made and so
The gods discuss his death
Ea tells Gerra not to be afraid
He gives him the Seven and the Seven
Flashes of Lightning, Bailiff Croucher, Expulsion, Wind, Fits, Staggers, Strokes, Lord-of-the-Roof, Feverhot, Scab...
Gerra lays siege to the Underworld, finally entering the palace to throw Ereshkigal from her throne, intending to behead her..
Ereshkigal promises him The Tablet of Wisdom and the throne of 'The Great City' if he becomes her husband.
Thus it is, a minor fire god becomes Lord of the Greatest kingdom of all...
I moreover, desiring to know something certain of these matters so far as might be, made a voyage also to Tyre of Phenicia, hearing that in that place there was a holy temple of Heracles; and I saw that it was richly furnished with many votive offerings besides, and especially there were in it two pillars, the one of pure gold and the other of an emerald stone of such size as to shine by night: and having come to speech with the priests of the god, I asked them how long a time it was since their temple had been set up: and these also I found to be at variance with the Hellenes, for they said that at the same time when Tyre was founded, the temple of the god also had been set up, and that it was a period of two thousand three hundred years since their people began to dwell at Tyre. I saw also at Tyre another temple of Heracles, with the surname Thasian; and I came to Thasos also and there I found a temple of Heracles set up by the Phenicians, who had sailed out to seek for Europa and had colonised Thasos; and these things happened full five generations of men before Heracles the son of Amphitryon was born in Hellas. So then my inquiries show clearly that Heracles is an ancient god, and those of the Hellenes seem to me to act most rightly who have two temples of Heracles set up, and who sacrifice to the one as an immortal god and with the title Olympian, and make offerings of the dead to the other as a hero.
Heracles as an immortal god is Nergal
Heracles as a hero given over to madness is Gerra.
Sophocles in his play "The Women of Trachis" written sometime around 450 BC, describes Heracles's agony, after putting on a robe toxic with hydra venom that eats through his skin and begins to dissolve his bones.
...a binding net woven by furies, in which I am dying. Glued to my sides, it eats my flesh away deep down within, and dwells inside my lungs choking my breath: already it has drunk my fresh warm blood and wasted my whole body,binding me with unutterable chains.
And yet, no spearman on the battlefield,no earth-born troop of Giants, no wild beast, nor Greece, nor any foreign land which I purged in my wanderings, could do this to me!
A woman - weak, not masculine by nature -alone, without a sword, has vanquished me!
Reminiscent of the changes Nergal suffers as a result of visiting the Underworld; If he hadn't slept with Ereshkigal the terrible contractions of his limbs and baldness, would not have occurred.
Heracles is in so much pain, he forces his son to build a funeral pyre that he may commit suicide by flame.
Sophecles maintains the link between his "Women of Trachis" and Mesopotamian myth in other ways, too. The charactor of the river god Achelous is both the serpentine Kur, and Gugulanna (The Bull of Heaven, Ereshkigal's first husand)
"Sometimes he came as a bull...a gleaming withering snake" and " a man with a bull's forehead."Heracles fought the river god to become Deianeira's husband.
Nergal was faced with no such competition.
At this point we are dealing with Heracles as Gilgamesh- who fought and killed Gugulanna- to avoid becoming Ishtar's husband.