Babylonian and Assyrian Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about Babylonian and Assyrian Literature.

[Footnote 1:  “Tsil-at-tu,” goddess of darkness, or shades of night.]

TABLET VI—­COLUMN I

ISHTAR’S DESCENT TO HADES—­HER FEARFUL RECEPTION

To Hades’ darkened land, whence none return,
Queen Ishtar, Sin’s great daughter, now doth turn;
Inclined her ear and listened through the void
That lay beneath of every path devoid,
The home of darkness, of the Under-World,
Where god Ir-kal-la[1] from the heights was hurled. 
The land and road from whence is no return,
Where light no entrance hath to that dark bourne;
Where dust to dust returns, devouring clods;
Where light dwells not in Tsil-lat-tus abodes;
Where sable ravens hovering rule the air;
O’er doors and bolts dust reigneth with despair. 
Before the gates of gloom the Queen now stands,
And to the keeper Ishtar thus commands: 
“O keeper of the waters! open wide
Thy gate, that I through these dark walls may glide;
But if thou open’st not the gate for me,
That I may enter, shattered thou shalt see
The doors and bolts before thee lying prone,
And from the dust shall rise each skeleton,
With fleshless jaws devour all men with thee,
Till death shall triumph o’er mortality.” 
The keeper to the Princess Ishtar said: 
“Withhold thy speech! or Allat’s fury dread! 
To her I go to bid thee welcome here.” 
To Allat then the keeper doth appear: 
“Thy sister Ishtar the dark waters seeks—­
The Queen of Heaven,” thus Allat’s fury breaks. 
“So like an herb uprooted comes this Queen,
To sting me as an asp doth Ishtar mean? 
What can her presence bring to me but hate? 
Doth Heaven’s Queen thus come infuriate?”
And Ishtar thus replies:  “The fount I seek,
Where I with Tammuz, my first love, may speak;
And drink its waters, as sweet nectar-wines,
Weep o’er my husband, who in death reclines;
My loss as wife with handmaids I deplore,
O’er my dear Tammuz let my teardrops pour.” 
And Allat said, “Go! keeper, open wide
The gates to her! she hath me once defied;
Bewitch her as commanded by our laws.” 
To her thus Hades opened wide its jaws.

“Within, O goddess!  Cutha thee receives! 
Thus Hades’ palace its first greeting gives.” 
He seized her, and her crown aside was thrown. 
“O why, thou keeper, dost thou seize my crown?”
“Within, O goddess!  Allat thee receives! 
’Tis thus to thee our Queen her welcome gives.” 
Within the next gate he her earrings takes,
And goddess Ishtar now with fury shakes. 
“Then why, thou slave, mine earrings take away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.” 
At the third gate her necklace next he takes,
And now in fear before him Ishtar quakes. 
“And wilt thou take from me my gems away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.” 
And thus he strips the goddess at each gate,

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Babylonian and Assyrian Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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