Definitions

Tammuz

Tammuz

[tah-mooz; for 1 also tah-mooz; for 2 also tam-uhz]
Tammuz, ancient nature deity worshiped in Babylonia. A god of agriculture and flocks, he personified the creative powers of spring. He was loved by the fertility goddess Ishtar, who, according to one legend, was so grief-stricken at his death that she contrived to enter the underworld to get him back. According to another legend, she killed him and later restored him to life. These legends and his festival, commemorating the yearly death and rebirth of vegetation, corresponded to the festivals of the Phoenician and Greek Adonis and of the Phrygian Attis. The Sumerian name of Tammuz was Dumuzi. In the Bible his disappearance is mourned by the women of Jerusalem (Ezek. 8.14).

Tammuz, alabaster relief from Ashur, c. 1500 BC; in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, elipsis

Mesopotamian god of fertility. He was the son of Enki, god of water, and Duttur, a personification of the ewe. Worship of Tammuz was centered around two yearly festivals, one in the early spring in which his marriage to the goddess Inanna symbolized the fertilization of nature for the coming year, and one in summer when his death at the hands of demons was lamented. He is thought to be the precursor of several later deities associated with agriculture and fertility, including Ninsun, Damu, and Dumuzi-Abzu.

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