Inanna (Ishtar)
  • Queen of Heaven
  • Goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power
VAM Nisaba Lagasch.jpg
Fragment of a stone plaque from the temple of Inanna at Nippur showing a Sumerian goddess, possibly Inanna (c. 2500 BC)[1]
Symbolhook-shaped knot of reeds, eight-pointed star, lion, rosette, dove
Personal information
ConsortDumuzid the Shepherd and many unnamed others
Childrenusually none, but sometimes Lulal and/or Shara
  • Uruk tradition: An and an unknown mother
  • Isin tradition: Nanna and Ningal
  • Other traditions: Enlil and an unknown mother
    or Enki and an unknown mother[2][3]
  • Ereshkigal (older sister) and Utu-Shamash (twin brother)
  • In some later traditions: Ishkur/Hadad (brother)
  • In Hittite mythology: Teshub (brother)
Greek equivalentAphrodite
Hinduism equivalentDurga
Canaanite equivalentAstarte
Babylonian equivalentIshtar

Inanna[a] is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar.[b] She was known as the "Queen of Heaven" and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

Inanna was worshipped in Sumer at least as early as the Uruk period (c. 4000 BC – c. 3100 BC), but she had little cult prior to the conquest of Sargon of Akkad. During the post-Sargonic era, she became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon,[5][6] with temples across Mesopotamia. The cult of Inanna-Ishtar, which may have been associated with a variety of sexual rites, including homosexual transvestite priests and sacred prostitution, was continued by the East Semitic-speaking people who succeeded the Sumerians in the region. She was especially beloved by the Assyrians, who elevated her to become the highest deity in their pantheon, ranking above their own national god Ashur. Inanna-Ishtar is alluded to in the Hebrew Bible and she greatly influenced the Phoenician goddess Astarte, who later influenced the development of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline between the first and sixth centuries AD in the wake of Christianity, though it survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century.

Inanna appears in more myths than any other Sumerian deity.[7][8][9] Many of her myths involve her taking over the domains of other deities. She was believed to have stolen the mes, which represented all positive and negative aspects of civilization, from Enki, the god of wisdom. She was also believed to have taken over the Eanna temple from An, the god of the sky. Alongside her twin brother Utu (later known as Shamash), Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice; she destroyed Mount Ebih for having challenged her authority, unleashed her fury upon the gardener Shukaletuda after he raped her in her sleep, and tracked down the bandit woman Bilulu and killed her in divine retribution for having murdered Dumuzid. In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar is portrayed as a spoiled and hot-headed femme fatale who demands Gilgamesh become her consort. When he refuses, she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu and Gilgamesh's subsequent grapple with his mortality.

Inanna-Ishtar's most famous myth is the story of her descent into and return from Kur, the ancient Sumerian Underworld, a myth in which she attempts to conquer the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld, but is instead deemed guilty of hubris by the seven judges of the Underworld and struck dead. Three days later, Ninshubur pleads with all the gods to bring Inanna back, but all of them refuse her except Enki, who sends two sexless beings to rescue Inanna. They escort Inanna out of the Underworld, but the galla, the guardians of the Underworld, drag her husband Dumuzid down to the Underworld as her replacement. Dumuzid is eventually permitted to return to heaven for half the year while his sister Geshtinanna remains in the Underworld for the other half, resulting in the cycle of the seasons.


Inanna and Ishtar were originally separate, unrelated deities,[10][11][2][12][13] but they were equated with each other during the reign of Sargon of Akkad and came to be regarded as effectively the same goddess under two different names.[10][11][2][12][13] Inanna's name may derive from the Sumerian phrase nin-an-ak, meaning "Lady of Heaven",[14][15] but the cuneiform sign for Inanna (𒈹) is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: 𒊩𒌆 SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: 𒀭 AN).[15][14][16] These difficulties led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have originally been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, who was only later accepted into the Sumerian pantheon. This idea was supported by Inanna's youthfulness, and as well as the fact that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, she seems to have initially lacked a distinct sphere of responsibilities.[15] The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.[17]

The name Ishtar occurs as an element in personal names from both the pre-Sargonic and post-Sargonic eras in Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia.[18] It is of Semitic derivation[19][18] and is probably etymologically related to the name of the West Semitic god Attar, who is mentioned in later inscriptions from Ugarit and southern Arabia.[19][18] The morning star may have been conceived as a male deity who presided over the arts of war and the evening star may have been conceived as a female deity who presided over the arts of love.[18] Among the Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, the name of the male god eventually supplanted the name of his female counterpart,[13] but, due to extensive syncretism with Inanna, the deity remained as female, despite the fact that her name was in the masculine form.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: إنانا
български: Инана
català: Inanna
Чӑвашла: Инанна
čeština: Inanna
Deutsch: Inanna
eesti: Inanna
Ελληνικά: Ινάννα
español: Inanna
Esperanto: Inano
euskara: Inanna
فارسی: اینانا
galego: Inanna
한국어: 인안나
italiano: Inanna
עברית: איננה
ქართული: ინანა
kurdî: Înanna
Latina: Inanna
lietuvių: Inana
magyar: Inanna
മലയാളം: ഇനന്ന
Nederlands: Inanna
日本語: イナンナ
norsk: Inanna
occitan: Inanna
português: Inanna
română: Inanna
русский: Инанна
slovenčina: Inanna
slovenščina: Inana
suomi: Inanna
svenska: Inanna
Tagalog: Inanna
Türkçe: İnanna
українська: Інанна
中文: 伊南娜