Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The god of vegetation

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 17, 2015

Telipinu (“Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops. He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

In the Mesopotamian tradition, during the journey of Inanna or Ishtar to the underworld, the earth becomes sterile, and neither humans nor animals are able to procreate. After confronting Ereshkigal, her sister and ruler of the underworld, Inanna is killed, but an emissary from the gods administers potions to restore her to life.

She is allowed to return to the upper world only if someone else will take her place. Her husband, the food and vegetation god Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), agrees to spend half the year in the underworld, during which time vegetation dies off. His return bring regrowth.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

Ara the Beautiful (also Ara the Handsome or Ara the Fair; Armenian: Արա Գեղեցիկ Ara Geghetsik) is a legendary Armenian hero. He is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia just to get him.

He is sometimes associated with the historical king of Ararat known as Arame, the first known king of Urartu, who ruled in the 9th century BC. This is time of the powerful Queen of Assyria, Semiramis (Shamiram in Armenian), the queen of Ninevah. Her husband was Ninus, who came to loathe her for her infidelity, and left his country.

Semiramis was infatuated with the Armenian King Ara the Beautiful. Her love for him was so great that she sent him countless gifts via her messengers, but each one was returned—Ara was not interested. She tried countless times to capture his heart, but to no avail.

As her heart was breaking, she got fed up and declared war on Armenia—her message to her soldiers was to conquer Armenia and capture its proud king, alive.

The battle happened in the Emerald Valley, at the foot of a mountain—a place so beautiful that it even death itself may not be able to enter.

But this was not so. As the sun set on the valley it was red with the blood of dead soldiers. The Assyrian troops had toppled the Armenian warriors. On hearing the news, Queen Semiramis immediately ordered for Ara to be captured.

The last of the Armenian army put up a brave fight to protect their king—some died on swords in their last ditch effort to keep the Assyrians away. One of Semiramis’ lovers deliberately shot the beautiful king with a bow to the chest, so as to finally get rid of his handsome rival.

The arrow was poisoned and Ara the Beautiful collapsed and died on the battle ground. Semiramis ordered for his body to be brought to her, so she could get one last look at the man she had loved for so long, and who had chosen to die rather than be by her side. Her soldiers brought her body after body, so many that the area was littered by the bodies of Armenian warriors. None were Ara.

Her men would say “Ar, znni; ar, znni” meaning: “Here, look; here, look.” The queen stood still, transfixed, as tears of remorse ran rivers down her cheeks, their words ringing in her ears.

Today, the city of Arzni is in a valley at the foot of Mt Ara. When you visit it on a spring morning and look up towards the heavens, you may see a flock of birds form the shape of a young beautiful king in the sky.

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