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Inanna's Descent into the Underworld

Summary


Inanna decides to take a trip to the Underworld, abandoning that which is obviously not in the Underworld. But first, she gets dolled up says to her minister, "Go pray for me, 'cause the Underworld's pretty fucked up, and I don't want to die down there."

So she goes there and pounds on the front gate and yells to the gatekeeper, "Let me in, bitch!" and he's like, "Why?" and she's like, "My sister's husband died, and some old timey traditions say I should do this!"

The gatekeeper goes to tell the queen of the underworld, Ereshkigal, about Inanna's demands. Ereshkigal's knows that, when Inanna got herself dolled up, she was actually putting on magical items. So she tells the gatekeeper to let her in, but to demand that she remove all her magical items first. So he does so, leading her through one gate at a time (there are apparently more than one), and demanding that she take off a piece of clothing at each gate until she's totally naked.

Apparently, a group of death judges were also in the throne room with Ereshkigal, so when Inanna gets there naked, they disapprove! As payment for her sin of nakedness, they murder her and hang her body on a hook.

Meanwhile, Ishtar's minister prays to several gods. The gods Enlil and Nanna deny her, but Enki's up for reviving Inanna. He sends these two dudes with a life-giving plant and life-giving water to travel to Inanna and bring her back to life. When they get to Ereshkigals' throne, there's an epic battle of wits! Afterwards, Ereshkigal offers them some refreshments (no doubt impressed by their word battle skills), but they say, "No thanks. We just want that corpse up there on that hook."

She gives it to them. They sprinkle their Phoenix Down on her, returning Inanna to life.
 
However, Ereshkigal wasn't cool with this. If she were to let people leave the Underworld all willy nilly, what would that say about her? So she demanded that Inanna send someone in her place. She sent Inanna out with guards who would acompany her until this was done.
 
As they left the underworld, Inanna's minister was there, and the demon guards were like, "Let's take this little lady back with us." But Inanna said, "Stay away form her, asshats! She's my BFF 'cause she helped bring me back to life!" Then they were like, "Well, can we at least have your hairdresser?" and she was like, "No." And they were like, "What about some servant dude—" "NO!"
 
Then Inanna explained who she wanted to sent to the Underworld in her place. "I used to date this guy, some shepherd, but he OBVIOUSLY didn't care that I was dead, so let's take HIM to the underworld."
 
So they found Dumuzi, who was chillin' like a pimp on a throne. Inanna had very little objections as the demons grabbed him. But Dumuzi wasn't cool with this. He shouted out to Utu—who he knew had his back—and begged him to help a brother out! Utu complied, 'cause quite frankly, Utu didn't have many friends. He turned Dumuzi's hands into snake's hands and his feet into snake's feet (you figure it out), allowing Dumuzi to escape the demons!
 
Inanna cried and raged over this. She was flailing about, all crazy, when a fly approached her.
 
"Ahem. Dear madam, if I show you where your gentelman caller is, what will be my reward?"
 
And her answer, dear readers, has been lost to the ages........ but we suspect it was sex.
 
The fly helped her out. She found Dumuzi, gave him to Ereshkigal, and everybody danced!

Links


The Electronic Text Corpuse of Sumarian Literature