n Journal for Semitics - An analysis of the extent to which the trickster archetype can be applied to the goddess Inanna / Ishtar

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


Inanna/Ishtar is regarded as the most important goddess of the Sumerian pantheon, yet she disrupted the social order and distorted the normative boundaries of Mesopotamian society. The classification of Inanna/Ishtar has proven to be problematic. This article attempts to assess the extent to which the trickster archetype can be applied to the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, and how this aspect can illuminate her entire personality. Two myths are studied, namely the myth of Inanna and Enki, and the narrative in Tablet VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh which depicts an altercation between Ishtar and Gilgamesh. The portrayal(s) of the goddess in these myths hold true to the paradoxical nature of the goddess, which can be identified with the trickster archetype. It can be argued that Inanna/Ishtar's identification with the trickster reflects the progressively marginalised position of females in the ancient Near East, although it was recognized that they had some power with which to obtain their goals.

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