Deity Highlight: 𒀭𒀏 — Nanshe

In Sumerian mythology, Nanshe or Nanše was the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag.

Her functions as a goddess were varied. She was a goddess of social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing. She is most likely symbolized by pelicans and fish.

During the time of Gudea (2144 – 2124 BCE), many hymns to Nanshe appeared showing her in an elevated position in the pantheon. She was the widely worshiped goddess of social justice. She nurtured orphans, provided for widows, gave advice to those in debt, and took in refugees from war torn areas.

Holding a higher ranking in the pantheon during this era, Nanshe sometimes shared the same tasks as Utu, the traditional god of justice. She sat on the holy thrones with the other prominent gods, and was seen as a goddess of protection.

“O lady, O queen, O goddess,
Your right hand is justice.
Utu has entrusted his power unto you;
Your mercy is without end.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.

O lady, O queen, O goddess,
The power that casts down the proud and exalts the humble.
The downcast look upon you and are strengthened;
The widow and the orphan find comfort in your great house.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.

O lady, O queen, O goddess,
Your left hand is liberty.
The man in bondage looks upon you and is freed from his shackles;
The ravaged find healing in your embrace.
In your presence the oppressed may live and move and have their being.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.”

The Enûma Eliš: An Adaptation

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Part four.

Here begins Tablet IV…

Lahmu and Lahamu took their seat in the holy assembly. To their left, the Igigi gods took their seats in the holy assembly; to their right, the Anunnaki gods took their seats in the holy assembly. Anshar, Anu, and Ea led Marduk to the feet of the holy mother and the holy father. They prepared a dais for him and presented him before the assembly of the Holy Ones to receive from them the right to rule.

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The Enûma Eliš: An Adaptation

What follows is part one of my adaptation of one of the most notable Mesopotamian myth — that of the Babylonian creation epic known as the Enûma Eliš, or “When on high”. This text has been adapted by myself and was originally intended for major publication. Due to its length however, the decision was made to publish it here.

As with all mythological texts, there are other matters at play.

The text served as a political and ecclesiastical means of asserting the rule of the Babylonian god, Marduk and signifies the defining moment of his rise to power. Thus legitimizing his dominion over all of them, including Enlil, the undisputed head of the Mesopotamian pantheon as a whole.

For the sake of simplicity, accented letters have been replaced by those letters which would otherwise determine their sound (e.g., “š” being replaced with “sh”).

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Adapa: An Adaptation

Early myths and religious texts contextualize the mortality of humanity.

This theme is quite common in religious traditions of the indigenous people of North America. In Greek myth, we find that it is the opening of Pandora’s box that releases death into the world — an event orchestrated by Zeus after his quarrel with Prometheus. 

The biblical account of Adam and Eve found in the Book of Genesis is perhaps the most well-known narrative in the western world all thanks to the forbidden fruit of Eden and the sibilant voice of a certain serpent. 

The Mesopotamian people have a myth of their own…

The mythological narrative of Adapa adapted for this site is based on the translation of the original cuneiform tablet. The story is known as “Adapa and the South Wind” and originates from fragmented tablets from the Library of Ashurbanipal circa 600 BCE and older texts from Tell el-Amarna (south of the modern Egyptian city, al-Minya) circa 1300 BCE.

I have taken notable liberties with the myth’s narrative in the prose that follows. The original myth does not mention Adapa’s family or go into detail about his interactions with the gods other than greeting them at the gate and a brief explanation of his actions. 

Within the context of myth, these parts of the narrative could be considered apocryphal. 

Adapa, over time, became a figure of great prominence and was invoked during exorcism rites. The exorcist would also conflate themselves with him by speaking the proclamation, “I am Adapa!”.

In an attempt to reconcile Sumerian and Akkadian sources, I have purposefully used both Sumerian and Akkadian names when referring to the deities depicted in the story — especially Enki. The Akkadians referred to him as Ea (pronounced “Yah”). Some Akkadian texts however, also refer to Ea by his Sumerian name. Another name used to refer to Enki is Nudimmud. 

This story is but a part of a greater story “I, Adapa”, which may be found in Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s anthology entitled “Circe’s Cauldron: Pagan Poems and Tales of Magic and Witchcraft”. 

Copyright 2020 by the author and publisher. 

“In the beginning there was Adapa: chief among men in Eridu;

In the beginning there was Adapa: his word was like the divine utterance of An, the highest of Heaven;

In the beginning there was Adapa: Nudimmud, who is Enki and Ea, gave him a vast and all-knowing mind…”

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