Family & Other Connections
Ishtar was a Babylonian and Assyrian goddess, sharing many traits and associations with the earlier Sumerian Inanna.
Daughter of Sin or Anu. Lover of Tammuz.
Information & Stories
When Ishtar became synonymous with Inanna many of the older goddess’ stories became known as stories about Ishtar, for example the famous tale of Inanna’s descent into the underworld. Another well known story is the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Ishtar appears – although not in a favourable light.
Ishtar approaches the hero Gilgamesh, a person who is two parts god, one part man, and asks him to marry her. When Gilgamesh refuses on the basis that she has treated all her previous lovers badly, Ishtar becomes enraged and goes to complain to her father, Anu. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven so she can get revenge on Gilgamesh, and warns that if Anu refuses her she will break open the doors of the underworld and cause chaos by bringing the dead up to walk and eat amongst the living.
Anu gives her the bull and she sends it after Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu, but they manage to defeat it. Ishtar stands on the walls of her city and curses them before calling her people together to mourn for the Bull of Heaven.
Ishtar is associated with fertility, sex, love and war.
She was particularly worshipped at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh and Arbela.