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Dumuzi

by Micha F. Lindemans
The Sumerian form of Tammuz. A god of vegetation and fertility, and also of the underworld. He is called 'the Shepherd' and 'lord of the sheepfolds'. As the companion of Nigizzida 'to all eternity' he stands at the gate of heaven. In the Sumerian Descent of Inanna he is the husband of the goddess Inanna, the Sumerian counterpart of Ishtar. According to the Sumerian King-List Gilgamesh was descended from 'Dumuzi a shepherd'.

Dumuzi was originally a mortal ruler whose marriage to Inanna ensured the fertility of the land and the fecundity of the womb. This marriage, however, according to a myth whose denouncement has only recently come to light, ended in stark tragedy when the goddess, offended by her husband's unfeeling behavior toward her, decreed that he be carried off to the netherworld for six months of each year-hence the barren, sterile months of the hot summer. At the autumnal equinox, which marked the beginning of the Sumerian new year, Dumuzi returned to the earth. His reunion with his wife caused all animal and plant life to be revitalized and made fertile once again.


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