Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Anunna god of spring, vegetation, and joy
Tammuz is one of the youngest of the Anunna, and also one of the gentlest; a shepherd and god of vegetation and the renewal of the earth, he is a figure associated with springtime and life, love and joy. Though he safeguards livestock and grain and aids the fruitfulness of the earth, his most major role is to offer himself up to death; every year, he the World is swept by the barren sadness of winter during his absence. His resurrection each spring heralds the end of famine and the return of the gentler seasons.
Tammuz and Ishtar
When he was merely a humble shepherd-god, Tammuz was approached by Shamash as a possible match for his sister Ishtar, famed throughout the heavens for her incredible beauty and equally impressive temper. Determined to win her, Tammuz brought her many gifts of grain, livestock and milk, but she scorned all of them, claiming that he was clearly ragged peasantry and beneath her. Upon hearing this, Tammuz retorted that his father Enki had been king of the gods and that he was at least as royal as she, if not more so; impressed that he had the nerve to talk back to her, Ishtar agreed to marry him and the two enjoyed a passionate love affair that was the envy of all other gods.
The Death of Tammuz
When Ishtar went down into the Underworld to challenge her sister Ereshkigal, Tammuz remained above, performing his usual functions as the god of fields and grazing livestock. When she returned, seeking someone to take her place in the underworld, she discovered him asleep with the remnants of a recently-eaten meal nearby; furious at his apparent lack of mourning for her, she called upon the underworld demons to seize him and drag him, struggling and calling her name, down into Irkallu in her place. He would have been trapped there indefinitely, but his sister Belili, knowing his innocence and wishing to spare her brother some of his torment, begged that she be allowed to take his place. From that time onward, Tammuz spend the wintry half of the year in the dreary Underworld and the warm, summery half in his beloved fields, thanks to his sister.