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A picture showing the legend of NERGAL taken from our Mesopotamian mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Mesopotamian Gods, Mesopotamian Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

A bit of a bully in bull form, with lots of bellowing, roaring and raping

When the Sumerian Gods were having a bit of a beano, they realized that ERESHKIGAL was stuck on duty down in the Underworld — the one ruling job that is reliant on you being in residence. You can't nip out for the merest moment without all hell breaking loose.

So they invited her to send her minister NAMTAR up so they could give him a doggy bag full of delicacies for her. As a mark of respect all the Gods paid homage to NAMTAR as the representative of ERESHKIGAL. All but one — NERGAL — who just snorted with derision.

When NAMTAR reported back, ERESHKIGAL screamed: "That son of a bitch is gonna die!" (Or ancient Sumerian words to that effect), "Go get him NAMTAR — drag him back here!"

But it didn't work out like that because NERGAL hid in the gents or something and could not be found. This was not good enough for ERESHKIGAL who dashed off a very terse appeal to the Gods on official Underworld clay tablet. Worded in a fashion they would be wise not to ignore.

At last NERGAL panicked and asked his dad EA for help. Dad supplied him with seven pairs of demons to accompany him. The demons hustled him through the seven gateways, taking up the position of two demons per gate to persuade the minders that ritual humiliation attempts were not on the agenda.

This enabled NERGAL to rush to the Throne Room and take ERESHKIGAL by surprise. He grabbed her by the hair and put a knife to her throat. Whereby she immediately relinquished the throne and then he repented and shared it with her. Because he decided that he loved her even more than violence.

This is only one of many versions. Having invented writing, the Sumerian Tabloids took off in a big way. Every scribe and hack wanted to test their story-spinning skills to the utmost: "Hey, hold the wet clay — I gotta new angle on this NERGAL deadline!"

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Article last updated on 17 May 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Nergal is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

Suggested further reading...
Area or people : Sumer
Location : Mesopotamia
Gender : Male
Type : Deity
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : None known
Popularity index : 526

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