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Etana

by Micha F. Lindemans
The thirteenth god-king of the Sumerian dynasty ruling the city of Kish. He was appointed by Anu himself. Etana had no son and prayed daily to Shamash, the sun-god, to grant him a child. Shamash directed him to aneagle caught in a pit, where it had been trapped by a serpent, having eaten the young of the snake. Etana freed the eagle who, in gratitude, carried the king on his back to heaven. Upon his arrival in heaven, Etana was brought to the throne of Ishtar, where he begged the goddess for a son, since his queen was barren. She gave him the plant of birth which he had to eat together with his wife. Little else is known of this story, but the plant was probably successful because we know from history that Etana had a son. However, there is an alternative story where Etana released the eagle, which gratefully carried the king towards heaven, but the eagle was unequal to the task, and it faltered, plummeting towards the earth, carrying Etana to his death.

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