EREŠKIGAL AND NERGAL
One day the Gods arranged a banquet. But Ereškigal, the Queen of the Underworld, could not come up from the Underworld to be present.
So Anu said to his assisstant, Kakka: "Kakka go Kurnugi, the dwelling of Erkalla's God, and tell Ereškigal that because we can not go down and she can not come up, she must send someone to get her part of the food."
Kakka went down the long stairway to the Underworld. He asked the Gatekeeper to let him in.
The Gatekeeper led Kakka in through the first gate, the second gate, the third gate, the fourth gate, the fifth gate, the sixth gate, and the seventh gate. Then Kakka was in the courtyard of Ereškigal. Kakka knelt and kissed the ground before her, and then told her what Anu had said.
Ereškigal responded: "May peace be with you and all the Gods."
Kakka said: "Peace is with us."
Ereškigal said to her assisstant Namtar: "Go with Kakka to the banquet, and accept the gifts of Father Anu."
So Namtar left with Kakka.
When they got to the banquet all the Gods knelt before Namtar; but Nergal did not kneel, he stood up.
The Gods were angry with him, and Ea said: "Why didn't you kneel before Namtar, who has come in place of Ereškigal? It is he who directs the rituals of Ereškigal. I kept trying to get your attention, but you prentended not to notice!"
Nergal said to him: "I do not want to see her minister. I want to see Ereškigal herself!"
So Ea said to him: "If you want to go, you must make a chair to bring to her. Go and cut down rosewood, white pine, and juniper. Take kanaktu-trees and simberru-trees. Paint it with white for silver, yellow mixed with red for gold, and blue glaze for lapis lazuli."
Nergal did what Ea had told him.
When he was finished making the chair, Ea said to him: "Now, when you go to see Ereškigal, do not sit in the chair they offer you. Do not eat the bread or the meat they offer you, do not drink the beer; do not wash you feet in the foot bath they offer you, and when you see Ereškigal wash and don her beautiful clothes, do not be tempted by her!"
Nergal promised he would do none of these things on his visit to the Underworld. Then he set off to the land of darkness, to the land of the dead.
When he had reached the gate of the Underworld, Nergal asked to be allowed in.
The Gatekeeper said: "I must first ask Ereškigal about it."
The Gatekeeper went to Ereškigal and told her there was a God at the door. He asked if she would send someone to identify him.
Ereškigal called Namtar and asked him to go to the gate and identify the God.
When Namtar got to the gate, he secretly looked at Nergal, and he went livid. He rushed back to Ereškigal, and said to her: "When I went to the banquet all the Gods knelt before me, but there was a God who did not kneel before me, but rose instead. And this is the God at the door!"
Ereškigal said to Namtar: "O Namtar, you shouldn't seek the power of Ellil, or desire to be an honored hero. Now, go and bring the God to me!"
Namtar went and led Erra into the Underworld. He led Nergal through the first gate, Nedu; through the second, Kišar; the third, Endašurimma; the fourth, Enuralla; the fifth, Endukuga; the sixth, Endušuba, and the seventh, Ennugigi. Then they came into the courtyard of Ereškigal.
Nergal knelt down and kissed the ground in front of her. Then he stood up and presented the chair: "Here is the gift of Anu your father, who says: 'Sit on this throne and judge the cases of the Great Gods who live in Erkalla!'"
Then they brought him a throne to sit on, but he remembered and did not sit on it. They brought him food and drink, but he did not partake. They brought him a foot bath, but he did not wash.
Then Ereškigal went to her bath, and when she emerged and put on her beautiful dress, she allowed him to glimpse her naked body.
He tried to resist her, but he could not. He gave in, and went up to her. They embraced and began passionate lovemaking. For six days they made love, and on the seventh day Nergal got up to leave, saying: "Let me go now, and I I'll come back later."
She was blue with rage, but he said: "Please don't worry. Stay here: I will be back."
Nergal left her chamber and went out. He said to the gatekeeper: "Ereškigal your Lady is sending me to the Heaven of Anu our father, so let me pass!"
The gatekeeper let Nergal pass. He went back up the long stairway to Heaven. When he stood before the gate of Anu, Ellil and Ea, they said: "Look, a son of Ištar has returned to us! Now Ereškigal is going to come looking for him. He is impure. His father Ea must sprinkle him with spring water, and he must sit bareheaded, blinking and cringing in the Assembly of all the Gods."
Meanwhile, Ereškigal went to her bath and dressed in her finery. She oiled her body and scented herself with perfume. She called Namtar to purify her room, and to prepare a throne for Erra. "Then he will eat our bread and drink our water," she said.
But Namtar said that he had already gone.
At that, Ereškigal let out a wail and began to cry. With tears flowing down her cheeks, she cried again and again: "Erra, my delightful lover! I didn't have enough delight with him before he left!"
Namtar asked to be sent to Heaven to bring him back to her.
So Ereškigal said: "Go, and when you get there tell this to Anu, Ellil and Ea: Ever since I was a child and a daughter, I have not known the playing of other girls, I have not known the romping of children. That God whom you sent to me, who has impregnated me - send him to sleep with me again! Send him to me, and let him love me again! For now I am impure, and I cannot perform the Judgements of the Great Gods of Erkalla. If you do not send him to me, according to rites of Erkalla and Kigal, the Great Earth, I shall raise the dead to outnumber, to eat the living!"
Namtar left and went up the long stairway to Heaven.
When he arrived at the gate, Anu, Ellil and Ea asked him what he had come for. Then Namtar repeated what Ereškigal had told him.
Then Ea told him to come in and look for the God she wanted.
Namtar went in, but all the Gods were kneeling humbly before him; he did not recognize Nergal.
So Namtar went back to his Lady Ereškigal, and said he had not found the God she wanted. But, he told her, there was only one God who sat bareheaded, blinking and cringing among the Gods.
Ereškigal said: "That's him! Go and bring him to me!"
Namtar went again to Heaven, and told them what Ereškigal had commanded him to do. He went into the courtyard of Anu, and he was invited to partake of their water, to wash and anoint himself. These things he did. When he done these things for the pleasure of the Gods, he saw Nergal and told him what Ereškigal had said. He instructed him: "When you go down, Erra, you will become master of the Underworld. You must not let the doormen of the gates grapple with you; pass them by."
Then Nergal went down and listened to what Namtar had instructed. He struck down Nedu, the doorman of the first gate, and did not let him grapple with him. He did the same with all seven gates, and came at length into the courtyard of Ereškigal.
When he saw her, he laughed and went up to her. He pulled her off her throne by her hair and they wrestled on the floor. Then they embraced and went to bed. For seven days they made love, and on the seventh day Anu said to his assisstant Kakka: "Kakka, go to Ereškigal and tell her that Erra shall dwell with her forever, and they shall together be Master and Mistress of Kurnugi."