Myth / Mesopotamian Mythology
The term "Mesopotamian mythology" covers the ancient religions of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylon. Obviously, Mesopotamia figures heavily in the Bible; Abraham and his kin were, mostly likely, natives of the Sumerian city of Ur.
Sumer, as you might have learned in your World History classes, is probably the oldest human civilization. It flourished from the 5th to the 3rd millennia BCE. Sumer began and ended as a collection of city-states in what is now Iraq. It's usually assumed that Sumerians were responsible for the invention of year-round agriculture, writing, the wheel, irrigation, and beer. Since the Sumerian language has no known cognates, it's anyone's guess where they came from. Some writers take this a step further and argue that the Sumerians were either assisted by aliens
or aliens themselves.
Sumer began to decline in the 3rd millennium BCE. Like the collapse of any superpower, there were a lot of reasons for this, but the primary cause, it seems, is that they were displaced by Akkadians and various other Semitic people. After Sumer's decline, there arose the Akkadian Empire, who "borrowed" the Sumerian gods in a similar fashion to the way the Romans borrowed the Greek gods. The Akkadian Empire was not as fortunate as Sumer had been, though, and its rule collapsed after about a century. But the Akkadians proved to be a plucky lot and managed to regroup and build new cities (only to be continually reconquered by their neighbors, restarting the whole process). They kept this up until they were all conquered in 539 BCE by the Persians, which rendered the whole thing pretty moot
Studying Mesopotamian mythology, in general, is a little bit easier than studying most Indo-European mythologies because the Mesopotamians were literate. Even so, there's a lot of conflicting information. The most likely reason is an evolution of their religion over time.
Major characters of Mesopotamian Mythology include:
- Anu, god of heaven and the stars.
- Enlil (Ellil) The god of the wind and the sky. Often identified with Jupiter.
- Enki (Ea) The god of water and wisdom. Enki was much more fond of humanity than most other gods and was generally a pretty groovy guy. Often identified with Mercury.
- Ishkur (Adad), god of storms. He is either the brother of Enki or a son of Nanna and Ningal.
- Nammu, (Tiamat) goddess of the primeval waters.
- Ki, goddess of the earth.
- Ninhursag (Ninmah, Nintu, Mamma, Aruru, Belet-Ili), goddess of nature and earth, and the wife of Enki. May or may not be the same as Ki, above.
- Ninlil (Sud, Mulittu), the wife of Enlil and usually the mother of Nanna, Nergal, Ninazu, Ninurta and Enbilulu.
- Nanna (Suen, Sin), god of the moon. His wife is Ningal, goddess of the reeds.
- Nergal, god of fire, destruction, war, plagues, and occasionally, the sun. Often identified with Mars.
- Ninurta, god of agriculture, healing, and destruction. Often identified with Saturn.
- Ereshkigal (Allatu, Irkalla), the ruler of the underworld, older sister of Inanna and wife of Nergal. They're the daughters of either Anu or Nanna.
- Inanna (Ishtar, Inana), goddess of warfare, love, and fertility. Often identified with Venus.
- Utu (Shamash), god of justice and the sun, son of Nanna and Ningal.
- Marduk, water, vegetation, judgment, and magic; son of Enki and Damkina. As the patron deity of Babylon who was created to justify the Babylonians' dominance, you could call him an Ur-Example of a Marty Stu.
Works on the wiki that constitute Mesopotamian Mythology:
Tropes found in Mesopotamian mythology:
Works that reference and/or derive from Mesopotamian mythology
- Cthulhu Mythos (sort of)
- Fate/stay night and its wider franchise; Fate/Grand Order's seventh chapter, in particular, draws heavily on all three extant major myths for story themes, plots beats, and characters.
- Storm Constantine's Grigori Trilogy
- Snow Crash
- Clive Barker's Jericho, in which you battle Ninlil, Ki, Inanna, Enlil, Nanna and Utu
- Anything mentioning Adonis; originally, the tale of Venus and Adonis (which English-speakers know primarily from the Narrative Poem by Shakespeare) was a Semitic tale about a young shepherd named Tammuz/Dumuzi, also called "Adon", ("Adonis" is derived from this term, meaning "Lord"; cf. "Adonai", "The LORD" in Jewish usage) and the goddess Ishtar. The Greeks liked the story enough to run off with it.
- Input Output has many characters take online handles from Mesopotamian mythology, usually calling it Babylonian mythology (which make sense, given that a decent lot of story is focused on an in-story MMORPG called Babylon.) There are plenty of references to the actual mythology as well.
- In The Order of the Stick (set in a Dungeons & Dragons RPG-Mechanics Verse) Babylonian deities are one of the three pantheons of gods who created the world, their worshippers mostly found on the Western Continent. Tiamat is a five-headed dragon and Queen of the Underworld, Nergal a lion-headed god of "death and destruction". Ereshkhagal, Ishtar, and Marduk have also been mentioned in passing.
- A supplement to The Dresden Files RPG includes a cult of Ishtar fighting human trafficking in Las Vegas.
- In Anatolia Story, after proving good skills at war and "mystical knowledge" (which is stuff that's basic stuff in modern times), Yuri is believed to be either a gift from or an incarnation of Ishtar. Eventually, almost everyone takes to calling her "Yuri Ishtar" or simply "Ishtar".
- Many songs by Melechesh.
- ABZÛ, as implied by the title.
- Carmilla the Series