from
"The Descent of Inanna:
From the Great Above to the Great Below"

Diane Wolkstein and
Samuel Noah Kramer


When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the underworld,
She knocked loudly.

 

She cried out in a fierce voice:
"Open the door, gatekeeper!
Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!"

 

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur, asked:
"Who are you?" 

 

She answered:
"I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven,
On my way to the East." 

 

Neti said:
"If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven,
On your way to the East,
Why has your heart led you on the road
From which no traveler returns?"  

 

Inanna answered:
"Because . . . of my older sister, Ereshkigal,
Her husband, Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died.
I have come to witness the funeral rites.
Let the beer of his funeral rites be poured into the cup.
Let it be done." 

 

Neti spoke:
"Stay here, Inanna, I will speak to my queen.
I will give her your message." 

 

Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur,
Entered the palace of Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld,
and said:
"My queen, a maid
As tall as heaven,
As wide as the earth,
As strong as the foundations of the city wall,
Waits outside the palace gates.

She has gathered together the seven me.
She has taken them into her hands.
With the me in her possession, she has prepared herself:

On her head she wears the shugurra, the crown of the steppe.
Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.
Around her neck she wears the double strand of beads.
Her body is wrapped with the royal robe.
Her eyes are daubed with the ointment called, 'Let him come, let him come.'
Around her chest she wears the breastplate called 'Come, man, come!'
On her wrist she wears the gold ring.
In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line."

 

When Ereshkigal heard this,
She slapped her thigh and bit her lip.
She took the matter into her heart and dwelt on it.
Then she spoke:
"Come, Neti, my chief gatekeeper of the kur,
Heed my words:
Bolt the seven gates of the underworld.
Then, one by one, open each gate a crack.
Let Inanna enter.
As she enters, remove her royal garments.
Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low."

 

Neti heeded the words of his queen.
He bolted the seven gates of the underworld.
Then he opened the outer gate.
He said to the maid:
"Come, Inanna, enter." 

 

When she entered the first gate,
From her head, the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, was removed.

Inanna asked:

"What is this?"

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned."

 

When she entered the second gate,
From her neck the small lapis beads were removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?" 

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

When she entered the third gate,
From her breast the double strand of beads was removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?" 

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

When she entered the fourth gate,
From her chest the breastplate called "Come, man, come!" was removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?" 

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

When she entered the fifth gate,
From her wrist the gold ring was removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?"

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

When she entered the sixth gate,
From her hand the lapis measuring rod and line was removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?" 

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

When she entered the seventh gate,
From her body the royal robe was removed.  

Inanna asked:

"What is this?" 

 

She was told:
"Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned." 

 

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room,
Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
They passed judgment against her.  

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.  

She struck her.  

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.

 


 
from Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth
by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer
HarperCollins, 1983

 
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