- The foremost Sumeriangoddess, patron deity of Uruk. Her name was written with a sign (mus) that represents a reed stalk tied into a loop at the top. This appears in the very earliest written texts from the mid-fourth millennium B.C. She is also mentioned in all the early god lists among the four main deities, along with Anu, Enki, and Enlil (see LEXICAL LISTS). In the royal inscriptions of the Early Dynastic period, Inanna is often invoked as the special protectress of kings. Also, Sargon of Akkadclaimed her support in battle and politics. It appears that it was during the third millennium that the goddess acquired martial aspects that may derive from a syncretism with the Semitic deity Ishtar. Inanna’s main sanctuary was the Eanna (“House of Heaven”) at Uruk, although she had templesor chapels in most cities.During the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Inanna’s ritual marriageto the king was much celebrated in poetry. In the context of the Ur royal ideology, Inanna does not appear as the “Lady of the Battle” as in Akkadian inscriptions but as the “Lady of Voluptuousness.” The king is said to be “worthy of her holy loins.” Her lover in many songs is the “Shepherd” Dumuzi, and the king of Ur identified himself with this role. Inanna was the subject of a great number of literary compositions, hymns, songs, and prayers. Many of these depict Inanna as the embodiment of sexual drive and allure in all its ambiguities; she could “turn men into women,” and in her entourage appear transsexuals and transvestites. She was the patron of prostitutes and was said to haunt the taverns in search of male partners. Without her, life cannot continue; one myth recounts that when she was kept captive in the underworld, all copulation (and hence reproduction) came to a sudden end. Although it was Inanna’s sister Ereshkigal who ruled over the underworld, Inanna, too, had destructive and dangerous qualities. She doomed her lover Dumuzi to be her substitute in the underworld and tricked the normally wise god Enki into relinquishing many of his divine powers. Inanna as the “Queen of Heaven” was associated with the planet Venus.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.