Hatti Myths

THE MYTHOLOGY OF HATTI

Brian E. Colless

1. The Illuyanka Myth

The Battle with the Serpent

Thus speaks Kella, the anointed priest of the storm-god of Nerik.

The words for the Purulli festival of the storm-god of heaven, as follows:

May the land flourish and thrive, may the land be protected.

When it flourishes and thrives, they celebrate the Purulli festival.

When the storm-god and the serpent* fought together in Kishkilussha,

the serpent* defeated the storm-god.   *illuyankash 'snake'

The storm-god then summoned all the gods: Come, Inara is preparing a feast.

She prepared everything on a grand scale;

vessels of wine . . . (and other beverages), vessels filled to overflowing.

Then Inara went to Ziggaratta and met Hupashiya, a mortal.

Inara spoke thus to Hupashiya: There is something I want to do,

and I would like you to assist me.

Hupashiya said to Inara:

Certainly, if you let me lie down with you, I will do anything you wish.

And he lay with her.

Inara took Hupashiya to the place and hid him.

Inara dressed herself up and lured the serpent out of his hole, by saying:

Look, I am preparing a feast , come, eat and drink.

The serpent came up with his children, and they ate and drank;

they drank every vessel dry and were sated.

They were now unable to go back into the hole,

so Hupashiya came and bound the serpent with a cord.

The storm-god came and slew the serpent, and the gods were at his side.

Inara built a house on a rock in Tarukka and she installed Hupashiya in the house.

Inara instructed him: When I go out into the country, you must not look out of the window. If you do, you will see your wife and children.

After she had been away for twenty days,

the man opened the window, and saw his wife and children.

When Inara came home from the country,  he began to whine: Let me go home.

Inara . . .  *   *(killed him? or simply sent him home?).

Inara returned to Kishkilussha, and placed . . . her house . . . in the hands of the king.

... celebrating anew the first Purulli festival, the hand of the king ...

the watery abyss of Inara.

Mount Zaliyanu is first among all the gods.

When he has granted rain in Nerik, the herald brings bread from Nerik.

He had asked Zaliyanu for rain, and he brings the bread on that account (?). . . . .

NOTES

There are two versions of the battle between the storm-god and the serpent (or dragon, Hittite illuyankash). The first version is given above. Notice that the myth is connected with the ritual of the Purulli festival, and is concerned with producing rain. This is to be compared with the Sanskrit myth of the weather-god Indra vanquishing the dragon Vritra, an event celebrated in the annual Mahavrata ceremony.

Editions and Translations

Gary Beckman, The Anatolian Myth of Illuyanka, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 14 (1982) 11-25 (complete edition).

E. Laroche, Textes mythologiques hittites en transcription (1969) 5-12.

Albrecht Goetze, The Myth of Illuyankas, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 125-126.

Harry Hoffner, Hittite Myths (1990), 10-14, both versions (with details of sources, 71, No. 1).


2. The Telipinu Myth

The Vanishing Fertility God

. . . .

Telipinu raged . . . .

He put his right shoe on his left foot,

and his left shoe on his right foot . . . .

 

Fog gripped the windows and smoke* gripped the house.  *a volcanic eruption?

In the hearth the logs were suffocated, at the altar the gods were suffocated,

in the the fold the sheep were suffocated, in the stall the cattle were suffocated.

The ewe rejected its lamb, the cow rejected its calf.

Telipinu went away, . . . and so grain thrives no more;

cattle, sheep, and people breed no more.

Those with young can not bring them forth.

 

The plants withered, the trees withered, and no longer put forth shoots.

The pastures dried out, the springs dried up.

In the land famine arose, so that humans and gods perished from hunger.

 

The great sun-god put on a banquet and invited the thousand gods to attend.

They ate, but did not satisfy their hunger;

they drank but did not quench their thirst.

 

The storm-god became anxious about his son Telipinu:

Telipinu my son is not here.

He became infuriated and went off with every good thing.

 

The gods, great and small, set off in search of Telipinu.

The sun-god sent forth the swift eagle:

Go search the high mountains, search the deep valleys, search the deep waters.

The eagle went forth, but could not find him;

he reported to the sun-god:

I could not find Telipinu the noble god.

 

The storm-god said to Hannahanna*:  *mother of the gods

What are we to do? We will die of hunger. . . .

 

Hannahanna sent out the little bee:

Go and search for Telipinu.

When you find him, sting him on his hands and feet; rouse him.

Take wax and wipe his eyes and feet, purify him and bring him to me.

 

The bee went off and searched . . . the streaming rivers, and the murmuring springs.

The honey within it gave out, the wax within it gave out.

Then it found him (asleep) in a meadow in the grove at Lihzina*. *cult-centre of storm-god

It stung him on his hands and feet, it roused him; 

it took wax and wiped his eyes and feet . . . .

 

He became even more furious.

He stopped the murmuring springs, he diverted the flowing rivers,

he made them flow over their banks . . . .

he shattered windows, he shattered houses;

he made people perish, he made sheep and cattle perish. . . .

 

Kamrushepa, goddess of magic and healing, is commissioned by the gods to restore Telipinu.

 

Telipinu, here is ointment (?); let it anoint your heart and soul.

Just as malt and malt-loaves are harmoniously blended,

let your soul likewise be in harmony with the affairs of humankind.

As honey is sweet, and cream is smooth,

let the soul of Telipinu likewise become sweet, and let him become smooth. . . .

 

Telipinu came in his fury.

Lightning flashed, it thundered,

while the dark earth was in turmoil . . . .

 

From Telipinu's body I have taken the evil, I have taken the spite,

I have taken the rage, I have taken the anger,

I have taken the ire, I have taken the fury . . . .

 

Telipinu came back to his home and cared for his land again .

The fog left the windows, the smoke left the house,

the altars were set right for the gods, the hearth  was set right for the log.

In the fold he gave relief to the sheep, in the stall he gave relief to the cattle.

Then the mother cared for her child, the ewe for its lamb, the cow for its calf.

 

Telipinu tended the king and the queen

and provided them with enduring life and vigour.

 

Telipinu cared for the king.

A pole was erected before Telipinu,

and from this pole a sheepskin hunting bag was suspended.

It signifies fat of sheep, it signifies grains of corn, and wine,

it signifies cattle and sheep, it signifies long years and progeny,

it signifies the lamb's favourable message*   *good omens when intestines are inspected?

wealth, abundance, satiety.   

NOTES

This myth fits into the widespread pattern of the dying and rising deity of fertility. Here, however, the god disappears and merely sleeps (a kind of hibernation, rather than decease and descent into the underworld). The fertility god is here Telipinu (or Telipinus), son of the sun-goddess and of the storm-god, but in other versions of the myth other gods disappear, such as the storm-god and the sun-god.

 

The beginning and ending of the story have been lost through damage to the tablets. Telipinu becomes enraged and leaves home (withdraws from his temple). In his absence the world languishes. The 'fog' that is suffocating everyone and everything may be from dust-storms, or from a volcano, or simply winter fog. A bee is sent out in search of Telipinu, and it finds him sleeping in a meadow near a town named Lihzina (a cult centre of the storm-god). The god is aroused by the sting of the bee, and is then pacified by a series of magical spells (only a few examples are given above). Telepinu returns home and the world flourishes again.

 

Editions and Translations

E. Laroche, Textes mythologiques hittites en transcription (1969) 29-50.

Albrecht Goetze, The Telepinus Myth, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 126-128.

O. R. Gurney, The Hittites  (1954), 183-190.

Harry Hoffner, Hittite Myths (1990) 14-20, translations of three versions, with references to sources (71, No 2)

 


3. The Ashertu  Myth

The Gods of Canaan

. . . .

The storm-god* went on his way;                 *Canaanite Ba‘al Hadad

he betook himself to the well-spring of the river Mala*; *Euphrates

he came to El-kunirsa*,               *Canaanite El qônê ars, El creator of the earth

the spouse of Ashertu*,               *Ugaritic Athirat, Hebrew Asherah, mother of the gods

and entered El-kunirsa's tent.

El-kunirsa saw the storm-god

and asked him: Why have you come?

The storm-god replied : When I entered your house,

Ashertu sent her maidens out to me to say:

Come and lie down with me.

When I refused she became insistent, and said to me:

Give yourself to me, and I will give myself to you;

or else I will harass you with my word, and with my spindle I will prick you.

That is why I have come, my father;

I have not come as a message*,            *carried by a messenger

I have come in person myself.

Ashertu is rejecting you, her own husband.

Although she is your wife she is inviting me to come and lie down with her.

Whereupon El-kunirsa replied to the storm-god:

Go and threaten (?) her;

... my wife and humble her*.            *it remains uncertain whether Baal lies with her

The storm-god heeded the word of El-kunirsa; he went to Ashertu.

The storm-god said to Ashertu:

I have slain seventy-seven of your sons,

eighty-eight of them I have slain*.            cp. Baal myth, 4.2, 4.7

When Ashertu heard this humiliating word of the storm-god,

in her mind she became aggrieved against him.

She appointed wailing-women and set about lamenting for seven years. . . .

. . . .

I will stab him, and I will lie down with you.

When El-kunirsa heard these words, he said to his wife: . . .

the storm-god, I will turn him over to you; do with him as you please.

Ishtar* heard those words.            *Babylonian goddess of love; here ideogram for 'Anat or 'Ashtart

In El-kunirsa's hand she became a cup, she became a bird and perched on his wall;

whatever words the husband and wife speak, these Ishtar overhears.

El-kunirsa and his wife went to her bed, and they lay down together.

But Ishtar flew as a bird across the desert, and found the storm-god in the desert. . . .

NOTES

 

This is an otherwise unknown Canaanite myth translated into Hittite, with the familiar deities El (father of the gods), Asherah (his consort), Ba'al Hadad (the rain-god), and 'Anat or 'Athtart (here called Ishtar). There are more columns of writing, but they are too damaged for complete comprehension. However, in Hoffner's translation Baal is treated for injuries, by netherworld gods, mother goddesses, and exorcists. It seems that Baal is brought back from the dead, as happens in the Ugaritic myth of Baal (6.3-6.5). One important detail this text provides is the knowledge that El (like Yahweh) lived in a tent (Baal 2.3).

 

Editions and Translations

E. Laroche, Textes mythologiques hittites en transcription (1969) 139-144.

Albrecht Goetze, El, Ashertu and the Storm-god, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 519

Harry A. Hoffner, Hittite Myths (1990) 69-70, with details of sources (73, No. 23).

 

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